Jon Evans

Latest from Jon Evans

  • The American Nightmare

    The American Nightmare

    Inside a casino whose theme is an empire that collapsed into venal decadence, middle-aged computer-security professionals clutching plastic cups half-full of free Veuve Clicquot line up to collect VIP nightclub passes. Outside, teenagers who live in tunnels beg on the pedestrian overpasses. Earlier, the man turning today's empire into a surveillance state was met with warm applause. Read More

  • NSA Director: Don’t Worry, Trust Us

    NSA Director: Don’t Worry, Trust Us

    General Keith Alexander, head of the NSA, gave the keynote speech at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas today. It was more interesting than I expected. Not for the speech itself, which contained zero bombshells--a transcript and video should be up on the Black Hat site fairly soon, for those interested--or for the questions. There was exactly one non-pre-filtered question from the… Read More

  • Technology And The Ruling Party

    Technology And The Ruling Party

    "Power tends to corrupt," said Lord Acton, "and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The sexism needs updating but the sentiment remains true. That's been all too obvious this week, during which the powers that be did their damnedest to protect their once-secret surveillance programs...while the NSA responded to Freedom Of Information Act requests with the claim "There's no central method to… Read More

  • When Will Doom Come To Hollywood?

    When Will Doom Come To Hollywood?

    Jane Austen? Shakespeare? Tolstoy? Hacks. Beethoven? Bach? Mozart? Wildly overrated. Statistically speaking, at least. It's a curious fact that while the long-dead titans of literature and music are revered above all others, they were working in a time when the talent pool--the educated population of the planet--was a tiny rounding error compared to today's. What's more, today's writers and… Read More

  • Your App Is Slow Because Our World Is Ending

    Your App Is Slow Because Our World Is Ending

    The meatiest article I ran across on the Internet this week was also--maybe--a harbinger of doom for life as we know it. I mean Drew Crawford's superb piece Why mobile web apps are slow. It's long, and somewhat dense, but definitely worth reading if you're technical enough to follow along. Its upshot: HTML5 apps will be vastly inferior to native apps not just for the next year or two, but for… Read More

  • Google Plus Is Like Frankenstein’s Monster

    Google Plus Is Like Frankenstein’s Monster

    Your humble correspondent begs your indulgence for this flu-fuelled stream-of-consciousness post, but deadlines wait for no virus, so needs must I expel the contents of my febrile mind onto this screen and thence to yours. To wit: Google Plus is a total mess. You probably knew that already. But you may not have realized that of late it has become an interesting mess...like Frankenstein's… Read More

  • Tomorrow’s Surveillance: Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time

    Tomorrow’s Surveillance: Everyone, Everywhere, All The Time

    Everyone is worried about the wrong things. Since Edward Snowden exposed the incipient NSA panopticon, the civil libertarians are worried that their Internet conversations and phone metadata are being tracked; the national-security conservatives claim to be worried that terrorists will start hiding their tracks; but both sides should really be worried about different things entirely. Read More

  • The Technical Interview Is Dead (And No One Should Mourn)

    The Technical Interview Is Dead (And No One Should Mourn)

    Allow me just a little self-congratulation. Two years ago I wrote "Why The New Guy Can't Code," about my contempt for the standard industry interview procedure for software engineers, condemning Microsoft and Google in particular for their brain-teasing riddles and binary search questions. And lo and behold, this week Google's head of HR admitted: "Brainteasers are a complete waste of… Read More

  • Can BuzzFeed Be Stopped?

    Can BuzzFeed Be Stopped?

    It's been a good week for old media. The Guardian, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal have all done a superb job of reporting on the NSA/PRISM revelations. Unfortunately it has also been a terrible decade for them. Newspaper advertising revenue has fallen by more than half since 2007, and paywalls aren't even coming close to covering that loss. Worse yet… Read More

  • Blanket Surveillance. Total Secrecy. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    Blanket Surveillance. Total Secrecy. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

    Imagine that one day you came home to find a shiny little bubble of one-way glass in an upper corner of every single room, and a notice left on your kitchen table: "As required by the Safe Society Act, we have installed remotely controlled cameras throughout your home. (Also your office.) But don't worry! They'll probably only be activated if the government believes that a non-US citizen mightRead More

  • After Your Job Is Gone

    After Your Job Is Gone

    Do you have a job? Do you like having a job? Then I have some bad news for you. The Guardian is worried "today's technologies are going to remove people from economic activity completely." Techonomy says "America’s real worker crisis is not immigration, it is jobs." Om Malik asks: "People talk about robot-helpers and an army of drones, but...what is going to happen to millions of people who will… Read More

  • Is The FBI Dumb, Evil, Or Just Incompetent?

    Is The FBI Dumb, Evil, Or Just Incompetent?

    Your government is worried. The world is "going dark." Once upon a time, telephones were the only way to talk to someone far away, and the authorities could wiretap any phone they wanted. Nowadays, though, suspects might be communicating via Facebook, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Skype, Viber. And so, inevitably: “Today, if you’re a tech company that’s created a new and popular way… Read More

  • The Time Has Come For Chrome In The Home

    The Time Has Come For Chrome In The Home

    I’ve spent the last two weeks wandering around London, Paris, and Istanbul (not Constantinople.) As an experiment, I left my trusty MacBook Pro behind and brought only the $199 Chromebook on which I type this. And to my considerable surprise it has served admirably. So admirably, in fact, that I believe ChromeOS is only one or two iterations away from being the right choice for many-if not mostRead More

  • America’s Carriers Are Terrible. It’s Probably Your Fault.

    America’s Carriers Are Terrible. It’s Probably Your Fault.

    A few days ago I landed in England and, expecting little, slipped an old UK SIM card into my phone. I’d bought it when living in London five years ago, and hadn’t used it in over a year. But to my amazement it was still active -- as was the money I’d added to its pay-as-you-go account sixteen months earlier...and then I received a friendly text message informing me that my data costs were… Read More

  • Google’s Cloud Is Eating Apple’s Lunch

    Google’s Cloud Is Eating Apple’s Lunch

    A new front has opened in the smartphone war, and for the first time in many years, Apple is both outnumbered and outgunned. I'm not talking about the phones themselves. iOS is still better than Android, although the gap has narrowed. The next iPhone will doubtless be the best phone in the world when it's released, as ever. It won't be as customizable - no Swype, no Facebook Home - but those… Read More

  • Economies Of Scale As A Service

    Economies Of Scale As A Service

    Credit where it's definitely due: this post was inspired by a Twitter conversation with Box CEO Aaron Levie. Don't look now, but something remarkable is happening. Instagram had twelve employees when it was purchased for $700 million; all of its actual computing power was outsourced to Amazon Web Services. Mighty ARM has only 2300 employees, but there are more than 35 billion ARM-based chips… Read More

  • OK Glass, RIP Privacy: The Democratization Of Surveillance

    OK Glass, RIP Privacy: The Democratization Of Surveillance

    How's this for synchronicity: Google Glass started shipping on the same week that CISPA passed the House, 3DRobotics unveiled their new site, and 4chan and Reddit pored over surveillance photos trying to crowdsource the identity of the Boston bombers. Cameras on phones. Cameras on drones. Cameras on glasses. Cameras atop stores, in ATMs, on the street, on lapels, up high in the sky. Modern cars… Read More

  • Beyond The Bitcoin Bubble

    Beyond The Bitcoin Bubble

    A few months ago, while visiting a hacker friend's magnificent new San Francisco loft, he gestured to a little alcove stuffed with server racks and said: "And over there are the Bitcoin mines." I smiled and nodded, thinking, Oh, right, Bitcoin. Is that still a thing? Andy, if you're reading this, I apologize. Is it ever, and how. Over the last few weeks the hype around everyone's favorite… Read More

  • Check In, Flame Out: How To Save Foursquare

    Check In, Flame Out: How To Save Foursquare

    This hasn't been a great year for Foursquare. "Check-ins are no longer what they used to be," as Ingrid Lunden observed last month. There seems to be a general consensus that "Foursquare keeps resembling Yelp more and more..." but that comparison isn't necessarily flattering, especially since there's little doubt that Yelp has much greater public mindshare. Then former Square COO and current… Read More

  • Big Data Could Cripple Facebook

    Big Data Could Cripple Facebook

    So there's this startup called SmogFarm, which does big-data sentiment analysis, "pulse of the planet" stuff. I spotted them last year, and now they've got an actual product with an actual business model up and running in private beta: KredStreet, "The Social Stock Trader Rankings," which performs sentiment analysis on StockTwits data and a sampling of the Twitter firehose to determine traders'… Read More