Friday, March 31, 2006


Ni-How-Ma? You might be asking yourself? Is that the name of a product? A crazy obscure technology acronym? No, actually, based on what my Asian friends in college taught me - it means "Hello" in Chinese (I can't remember if it was Cantonese or Mandarin). Somewhere on my To-do list is a to-do of all of the languages that I want to learn in my life. While there are many that I would find practical and useful, number one on the list is Chinese. Why, you might ask? Because I believe in the next decade or so, that Chinese will be more important than English, Japanese or Spanish in the business world.

Why chinese? Imagine, if you will for a minute that every last person in the US had a cellphone, heck in fact, imagine that 1 in 3 people had two! - that would equal the current number in cellphones in China - think about it - there are 4 cellphone users in china for every 3 people in the US.

The chinese economy is going to continue to grow, and make inroads on the tech front. Ultimately, chinese companies like Huwaei Technologies and Ningbo Bird will be as commonly known as Cisco and Motorola, their household counterparts. And as much as Detroit is reeling from years of falling behind the Japanese in car sales, China might jump into the mix sometime soon as well.

So learn chinese, and in a few years, you'll all be calling me to say 'Sheh-Sheh'

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Biometric Security - the Rube Goldberg Device of Password Entry

Yesterday I helped a friend setup a new laptop with a fingerprint reader, and today Walt Mossberg expounded on the subject in his column. While I think that biometrics are truly a great convenience, it is my opinion that they don't offer any greater security, especially on the web, and here's why.

Consider what happens when your fingerprint reader fails? What about when you take your laptop on a business trip and don't bring along your external fingerprint reader? Or better yet, how you log in to corporate e-mail from home?

Because biometric devices are not a de-facto standard on most computers, even computers that utilize them still need to accept standard passwords. This means that those passwords are still vulnerable to cracking. This is doubly true for the web, because for the most part, biometric password utilities that allow you to 'web login' with biometrics, simply store your username and password and then send them to the web site when you swipe your finger. While this might help protect you against keystroke logging software, it will not proctect you against someone sniffing your network connection or against someone trying to crack passwords on a web site.

Bottom-line, the only real benefit to biometric security is when it is the ONLY method of logging in, until that day comes, the only real use I can see for it is encrypting files on your computer and as a convenience to prevent you from having to type in those 8-10 characters in your password.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hacking the new Intel Mac - so what?

There have been some posts (like this one on C|Net), indicating that someone might have actually managed to install Windows XP on Mac. While I want to congratulate the person who did this (assuming it is true), I would also like to know what the point of this little exercise is beyond proving it could be done?

Maybe I am wrong here, but are there really that many people out there who want to buy a Mac only to put windows on it?