The End of the Ballmer Era & Did You Know the Feds Are on Your Phone?

On Fridays I try to share the stories of people doing great stuff on the web, or posts you might want to check out if you have a free moment.

The End of the Ballmer Era
Ben Brooks has a post that is both excoriating and expert: The Ballmer Days Are Over. While I looked at how Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype this week could move Microsoft forward, Ben lays the problems that the Skype deal hopes to address right at CEO Ballmer’s feet.  Anyone who follows the tech space has seen charts like this, but it is shocking how the firm that ruled PCs has failed to ride the Internet boom as its competitors Apple and Google have.

The Feds Are on Your Phone
I love living in a two-newspaper town. Expect a post on “second papers” soon.

Chalk one up to the Boston Herald for its suitably alarmist yet unnecessarily partisan coverage of a federal plan for all cell phones to contain a federal messaging platform. This is based on the perfectly reasonable desire for emergency officials to be able to push messages to people in any geographic area to give instructions in the event of an emergency. The emergencies include Amber Alerts, Weather Warnings, and instructions from law enforcement. The only way to opt out of these messages would be to turn off your phone.

Who would be against such an idea? Certainly not the carriers who are heavily regulated, dependent on the federal government for spectrum, and able to pass costs on to consumers. The selection of ATT Chairman / CEO Randall Stephenson to describe this as a perfect use of mobile technology isn’t reassuring (see the video).

There are unquestionably good public policy intentions at play. But good cases make bad laws. The way in which this has been all but completed so silently should give us pause. And literally wrapping the program in the flag by launching it at Ground Zero seems calculated to shut down any real discussion of it.

Will the next chip allow the feds to turn off any phone, or monitor its traffic, or automatically get a data feed of its activities or location? Would the carriers get behind that too?

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