CTO Breakfast Report


As we did introductions today, a surprising number of people were remodeling their basement (time of the year, I guess). Consequently we ended up talking about home theaters set ups for the first part of the meeting. Interesting tidbit: maximum run length for HDMI is 50 feet.

We talked about Facebook Beacon for a while. There was much more discussion of social networks in general than of Beacon for a while, but then we dove into the meat of the power of recommendations and the vast value in coloring the social graph with meta data--including trust data.

Kids see Myspace as being about who they are and Facebook as being about what their friends are doing. Some people want to see what happening in all aspects of their life on the Facebook page. That leads to problems with business applications on Facebook.

I'd brought Super Crunchers with me, intending to talk about it a little and the conversation went that direction without me even having to bring it up. The discussion of what companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are doing with our data led to a discussion of methods.

We got talking about how screwed up TSA and airport security is. I brought up Steve Yegge's allegory of TSA and interface design. That's as close as I can come to making the discussion have something to do with IT. :-)

There was a great article in Wired on an amature terrorist hunter that made the point that the FBI can't do what matures can do because their

In fact, it's distinctly possible that Rossmiller, alone at her computer, has a better track record than the Justice Department. A Washington Post analysis in 2005 of the 400-plus people charged with terrorism-related crimes by the federal government found that only 14 of those convicted actually had any ties at all to al Qaeda or its network. Rossmiller's cases have come with solid backup, while the feeble evidence in the other high-profile Justice Department cases makes many prosecutors roll their eyes. Consider the seven Miami men arrested in the summer of 2006 and hyped as desiring to wage a "ground war" against the US and intending to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. They turned out to be a bunch of trash-talking blowhards whose plans were formulated while smoking pot in an empty warehouse. In contrast, the man Rossmiller most recently implicated --- Michael Reynolds --- had prepared meticulous plans to blow up pipelines and was shopping online for used gas trucks to implement his plot. The Pennsylvania resident was arrested after traveling 2,000 miles to southern Idaho, lured by Rossmiller into a supposed meeting with a financial backer.

"When I was in the White House and doing terrorism, the holy grail was 'actionable intelligence,' and she brings a form of actionable intelligence," says Roger Cressey, a White House counterterrorism official in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. (He learned of Rossmiller after he left the government.) The FBI, on the other hand, has failed in every attempt to modernize its technology since 2001, and it so restricts the software available to agents that they can't even begin to match what Rossmiller does. "The FBI is a dinosaur in many respects," says Cressey.

Rossmiller agrees. "I went to a meeting in Great Falls, and we got to talking, and someone had to look something up online," she says. "I asked, 'What do you use for Internet access?' and one agent said, 'We have to go to the public library down the street.'"

She also tells a story about another agent who had to get permission to open a Yahoo account because it violated office regs. "They weren't allowed," she says.

From Behind Enemy Lines With a Suburban Counterterrorist
Referenced Thu Nov 29 2007 09:52:17 GMT-0700 (MST)

We got into a discussion about social graphs and reputation in law enforcement Scott and I have an upcoming Technometria interview with Dan Lulich of IOvation on using reputation to detect fraud online.

This looks interesting: a way to read your car's diagnostic data and get it on your computer. The last word: WD 1 terabyte drive for $264.99. Nearly down to $0.25/Gig.