Pants on fire

It’s Monday and it’s the shortest day of the year.

There are usually two sides to a story. Here’s the other side of this one.

Taking their talking points from the Trump campaign, news hosts from Fox, OAN and Newsmax made serious allegations about voter fraud, especially about electronic voting systems from Smartmatic and Dominion. But Smartmatic wasn’t even involved in the presidential election and Dominion insists that the allegations are physically impossible. Both have hired high-powered defamation lawyers and now the networks are playing defense while the campaign is under a document preservation order. Let’s see how this plays out.

Will Christmas break Zoom? The company is gearing up for a big day.

Finally, a stimulus bill. Here’s a Q &A on how it will play out for most people. It also includes a corporate meal expense deduction, known as the three martini lunch, designed to help hurting restaurants. Great news for your local pizza place.

And starting this week, cable companies will have one less way to screw you over.

Food for thought

Good morning. It’s Sunday. It’s a Wonderful Life is 76 years old today.

So, who gets the vaccine first? That’s easy. Politicians.

The president is attacking the media for indicating that the recent major hacking attack against the US was conducted by Russia, Russia, Russia despite Microsoft, FireEye, sources in the national security and technology communities and Trump’s own Sectary of State all saying that it was Russia, Russia, Russia. Eyebrow raising. This is also a little concerning. And this.

I don’t usually pay attention to what’s going on in gaming but this disaster couldn’t be missed. It’s raining tanks.

In New York City, a garbageman went to the top of the heap. (I enjoyed my time as a garbageman as a teenager in the 1960’s. It was a good job. Two bucks an hour and all you can eat.)

And this happened ten years ago. Go Pats.

Too little too late

Today is Saturday. The word of the day is comity.

New England isn’t the only place that was whacked with a snowstorm.

Our great failure as a nation, at all levels of government, but particularly at the federal level, was on coronavirus testing. Now, as vaccines are rolling out there are plans to fix this. We’ll see.

Frommer’s travel guide for 2020 will be… different.

The New York Times looked at what happens to all the stuff when a mall closed down. The photos by Jesse Rieser are the best part of the story.

And two of USA Today’s 10 best Christmas lights locations are in Massachusetts: Bright Nights in Springfield and Winterlights in Canton and Stockbridge. Brilliant!

Hack attack

Friday. Ahhh.

10 bitcoin to pay for a dinner party probably seemed like a good deal in 2013. Today the bill is $200 grand.

Politico reports that Russian hackers apparently breached the National Nuclear Security Administration networks. That’s not good. The Wall Street Journal looks at the scope and methods used in the broader attack. And the president of Microsoft warns that, “The attack unfortunately represents a broad and successful espionage-based assault on both the confidential information of the U.S. Government and the tech tools used by firms to protect them. The attack is ongoing[…]”. The damage done will be very hard to undo. With the country on its heels politically, the timing of this attack is also concerning.

Different Massachusetts towns, different rules. That’s OK for most things but for Covid it doesn’t make sense. Especially as more towns are at high risk. At least we’re in better shape than California.

And PC World used to be a major tech publication. Today they try to review a $1500 dollar laptop that they couldn’t afford to buy.

All hat no cattle

Happy snowy Thursday. It’s the anniversary of the first Simpsons episode.

Economists are predicting light at the end of the tunnel for the Massachusetts economy. That’s nice.

Thomas Hodgson, the sheriff in Bristol County, is in a political spat with Maura Healy. But what’s up with that uniform? Sheriffs in the state handle the jails and most don’t presume to wear uniforms.

We’re learning more about the Solarwinds hack that pretty much rises to an act of war against the US. Remediation is underway. We spend billions on preventing these things but somehow this one got through. Good thing we’re taking information security seriously at the highest levels.

If you love black and white photography (as I do), you’ll appreciate these amazing images, winners of a competition from Independent Photographer.

And a billion dollars a month in philanthropic giving is a lot of money. Good for MacKenzie Scott.

Roll up those sleeves

Today is Wednesday. Only 8 (!) more shopping days till Christmas.

A couple of weeks ago the Winklevoss twins were bullish on Bitcoin. And here we are.

With vaccines beginning to roll out, the Globe looks ahead at the possibility of compulsory shots in light of a century old case, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which allowed for government mandated vaccination in some circumstances.

Meet the new deep state, same as the old deep state – except different, in that it actually exists.

Ben Sandofsky, of Halide, explains how the ProRAW image format, available on some of the latest iPhones, works. In doing so, he gives one of the best overall primers on RAW itself that I’ve seen.

And Sebastian Modak had to visit Singapore a dozen times before he began to appreciate it. I’ve only been there twice but the city had me on the first visit to a street food stall.

Barn door open

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. Happy birthday to Edna O’Brien, who is 90 today.

The MBTA was told by lawmakers to do more with less. So that’s what they did. Sort of.

That massive hack of federal agencies, apparently by Russian operatives, was, well, massive. Solar Winds – Orion software is used for network monitoring and it is very widely deployed. It appears that the hackers gained a foothold through a modified software update to Orion. The networks impacted included those of some of the most sensitive intelligence agencies. Once in the network the intruders had free range, including the ability to elevate privileges to gain access to protected information, although it seems that they focused mostly on high-value targets. I’m assuming that classified systems have additional layers of security but that’s not a given and it’s possible that classified information was also accessed. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which has seen its leader recently fired in a political dispute over the election, is in charge of assessment and mitigation. In addition to government agencies, many Fortune 500 companies also use Orion, including the New York Times, which is still assessing damage.

Some economists are very worried about the state of the post-pandemic economy.

I don’t think the new Apple’s Fitness+ app will replace Zwift for me but I may give it a try for other workouts. It becomes available Monday. Todd Haselton, at CNBC, had early access and he likes it. Raymond Wong also tried it out and got hooked.

And Dolly Parton is an angel. In movies and in life.

Shocked and chagrined

It’s Monday. Sandy Hook took place eight years ago today.

There’s more trash this year. Actual trash.

Today the Electoral College will cast its votes. Some people actually still believe that Trump won – that the election was stolen. For them, that perception is reality. It reminds me of the disconnect between the OJ jury and the rest of the world. (Think Rudy Giuliani as Johnny Cochran: If the signatures weren’t checked you must not elect.) Sabrina Tavernise considers the implications for the country.

Google services went down this morning. But it looks like they’re back now. The outage affected Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Hangouts and Google Meet. In other words, everything.

What comes after after smartphones is a really interesting take from Benedict Evans. The last century has seen a series of transformative tech, from cars to radio, telephone, TV, etc. In the last 30 years the trend has accelerated. Computers, laptops, networks, the Internet, web, cloud, smartphones and social. What’s next? It’s a very good question.

And even Tim Apple is annoyed by all those notifications. Welcome to the club, Tim.

Hoist with their own petard

Sunday. The word of the day is flout.

Bank robbers are supposed to wear masks. It’s nice when they wear them correctly.

In 2001, 2005 and 2017, House Democrats tried to block electoral votes from being tallied. Granted, it was a symbolic act of partisan protest, not an actual challenge to the results, but I really wish they hadn’t. House Republicans are now planning to use the same tactic to actually try to alter the results of the election.

It’s been a deadly year. But it’s not just Covid that’s killing us.

Speaking of symbolic acts, remember when Elvis got his polio vaccine shot on the Ed Sullivan Show? No, I don’t either. But celebrities endorsing the idea of getting vaccinated isn’t such a bad idea. Some ex-presidents are showing leadership on the issue. But who speaks to the broad populace better than a celebrity like… Rob Lowe?

And it’s that time again, it’s creepy Santa time.

Pass the USB port

Happy Saturday. Another beautiful day.

There are two good things to wake up to today: The FDA has approved the Pfizer vaccine and, on the anniversary of Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court has rejected that crazy Texas election lawsuit.

Rudy Giuliani once again proves he’s a world class cybersecurity expert.

In Texas, ambulance companies and 911 systems are being overwhelmed by coronavirus related calls. Here in Massachusetts we continue to see rising case numbers after Thanksgiving. Our health care and emergence response systems are in better shape than those in Texas but it’s still not good that hospitalizations here have tripled in the last 30 days.

Actor/comedian Jeff Garland is a Leica aficionado. He’s also a pretty good photographer. He has a new book of photos out called A Big Bowl of Wonderful. Here are some of the images.

And if you have four hours open on December 22nd, you’ll be able to watch Frederick Wiseman’s City Hall documentary on WGBH 2. I’ll bring the popcorn.