Saturday, September 26, 2009

Could a Twitter enabled home work? #twitter #tech

I've been giving a lot of thought to what I like to call "beyond tweeting" lately. While we all know Twitter is a useful service for keeping up with friends, following the latest trends, and learning breaking news fast, I think the service could be used for something much more mundane, but also, much more useful: controlling a home.

So what does a beyond tweeting enabled home look like? Pretty interesting, in my opinion! Imagine you're out at a party and you suddenly remember you've forgotten to arm the alarm system. No problem! Just pull out your mobile phone and tweet @myhome ALARM enable and, just like that, your alarm system, which is connected to your home network in some way, receives the tweet, arms itself, and you can continue to have fun.

Or let's say you're going to be later than you expected and you didn't turn the lights on. Again, your mobile to the rescue! Send the @myhome LIGHTS on command and, just like that, your lights are turned on.

There's really no limit to the devices or systems that could be connected to the home network and, thereby, Twitter and the software to control it all is fairly trivial to create. Much of it is already out there in fact and just needs to be pieced together. Within a few days to a week at most, you could near totally Twitter enable your home and make communicating with devices much, much easier.

The possibilities are pretty endless and is limited only by your imagination and the amount of work you're willing to put into it. And those possibilities don't end with homes either. Robert Scoble, discussing a post iPhone world and the real time birth of his child, even speculated that hospital systems could be hooked up and totally controlled by Twitter and text message. Obviously, Twitter has to come a long way before we're there, but the point is that the could eventually be networked in this fashion.

I think the time when most people think of Twitter in a "dude, I just had the most awesome PB&J sandwich" way is nearing an end. More and more people are starting to think of creative ways to use Twitter and Twitter is actively supporting those people through an open API that anyone with a little knowledge can access.

What can we build?
What can we enable?

That, my friend, is up to you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Goodbye Mary Travers (1936-2009)



It is sad that, being born in the mid 1970's, I was not able to experience the power of her words as she lifted them up in protest throughout the 1960's and gently guided a generation seeking truth to find their own brand of it. Her voice was an unwavering, unflinching, yet still gentle one that tackled the issues of our time with beauty and light. I grew up listening to Mary's wonderful voice through my grandmother who was a lifelong Peter, Paul, and Mary fan - something I remain to this day.

Now, she is taken from us but for the better: never to experience physical pain or human injustice or cruelty again. In Mary Travers, we have lost beauty, grace, and an important voice for those who often didn't have a voice of their own.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A response from Sen. Tom Coburn about S.773 (The Cyberecurity Act of 2009) #politics

As you might remember, I wrote this letter to Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn a few weeks ago concerning S.773 or the Cybersecurity Act of 2009. In that letter, I expressed my serious concern that the government was overstepping its bounds by creating such a law and expanding Presidential powers to such a dangerous level, something I believe even more strongly now that I've read the accompanying bill S.778.

Earlier today, I received the letter below from Senator Coburn and, I'm glad to see that he has some of the same concerns I do about the legislation and he intends to work in a bipartisan way to help craft a bill that is less intrusive and has less potential for abuse. While the discussions of S.773 and S.778 are far from over and this letter does not fully address my expressed concerns, I'm encouraged to see that some people are keeping a level head in the face of an Executive Branch power grab and look forward to seeing what a bipartisan bill will look like.

I still encourage each of you to write your Senators and urge them to reshape both S.773 and S.778 prior to passage to ensure that ordinary Americans liberties are not trampled upon. Safety is important but, as Benjamin Franklin so eloquent said: "Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither".

I couldn't have said it better myself. Now, here's the response from Sen. Coburn.

"Dear Mr. Papillion,

Thank you for your recent letter regarding cyber security. I appreciate your interest in this issue and welcome the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

Let me start by saying that I, too, believe that Americans should never be forced to forfeit their Constitutional rights for a promise of security. On the other hand, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I recognize that potential threats could arise that could seriously undermine America's cyber infrastructure and Internet capabilities.

I think Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives must put aside their political self-interests and need to come together to develop a sensible approach that protects individual constitutional rights, and allows those charged with defending America's national security to have the ability to thwart serious cyber threats that could cripple America.

Like you, I have some real concerns with both S. 773 and S.778 as currently written. Specifically, I believe that S. 778 does not represent the best possible approach to combat potential cyber threats. I look forward to working with members of the Senate to make serious improvements to both S. 773 and S. 778.

Let me be clear-if Congress is going to create a new Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor, and if Congress is going to extend new authorities to the Executive Branch to combat cyber threats-it must be done in a way that respects the Constitution, allows for robust congressional oversight, and is narrowly crafted to address specific threats. Allow me to explain my thinking and principles on these two legislative measures in detail.

As you may already know, S. 773, the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, and S. 778 would drastically reshape the Executive Office of the President by establishing within it a new Office of the National Cybersecurity Advisor. These bills are currently before the Senate Commerce Committee but have yet to receive a committee hearing.

First, S. 773 fails to define several key terms. I strongly believe S. 773 could benefit from Senate hearings that would allow for amendments and clarifications pertaining to some of the bill's provisions. For example, the bill would grant the Commerce Secretary significant access to review a private citizen's Internet data as well as give the President the power to shut down Internet traffic in a "national emergency." Of note, the bill does not define what specifically constitutes a "national emergency."

Similarly, S. 773 doesn't statutorily define what constitutes "critical infrastructure" when it comes to the dominion over the Internet. In other words, the bill would give a long leash to the President to define such crucial terms as the person deems necessary.

Lastly, I believe the costs of these bills, S. 773 in particular, are unacceptable. Although well intended, S. 773 comes at a hefty price to tag to taxpayers. As written, S. 773 would authorize more than $70 million of new spending per fiscal year without corresponding offsets or spending decreases.

I believe for Congress to make a truly informed evaluation of S. 773, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) should score the bill and detail its cost.

I wholeheartedly oppose the careless and arrogant spirit that advises Congress to spend your hard earned money on things you neither desire nor fall within the scope of the Constitution. Our national debt now stands at over $11 trillion. Our government wastes at least $350 billion every year through fraud and duplication. It is unconscionable for members of Congress to not do the hard work of paying for new programs by spending less elsewhere. I procedurally hold every legislative bill or amendment from passage that proposes new spending and new programs without similar reductions in spending or elimination of existing, lower priority programs. I have worked hard to save the hard working taxpayer millions of dollars in wasteful spending.

Again, thank you for your correspondence. As S. 773 and S. 778 move through the legislative process, I will certainly keep your views in mind. If you have any additional concerns, please feel free to write again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gone until October 1, 2009

Hello everyone,

I'm going to be gone from blogging from today (September 9th, 2009) until October 1 to get some projects done. During that time I will occasionally post interesting things I find to this blog but will not be making any major posts.

I do hope everyone has a great time while I'm gone and look forward to hitting blogging full force when I return. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter for daily updates or follow me on 12 Seconds for some video love.