RFID world

They begin to appear everywhere. I saw mine first on my passport, then I just got my new credit card and it has one in it. Those things are nice if you consider them naively. But the fact is that they are flawed and insecure. We carry around more and more of those items that can be read at a proximity by specially crafter devices. Gosh, did they not learn already from the ingenuity of our kids?

There have been myths in science fiction about human implanted with chips. Well, our phones for a while have been providing the same features. Call me paranoid, but I just don’t like the feeling. And I also don’t like not having any choice about it. Hopefully we can still disable the credit cards RFID, craft some pockets to put our passport in it, or buy some faraday pockets.

If you pay attention, you can find or hear about phone apps called ‘electronic pickpocket apps’. This choice of a name if so relevant to the situation. Note that NFC, included in more and more phones, is a subcategory of RFID, operates in much smaller range (10 cm). But basic RFID tags can be detected beyond 100 meters with proper antennas.

We talk about the Internet of Things. Sounds sexy. But clearly, we only are one of the Things of that Internet. Without any implant, just by carrying around passport and credit cards. Or by working at a company that uses that technology for staff monitoring. I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s scary as hell.


State surveillance in France

What happened this week in France is quite shocking. How can they be so long to make useful laws and so quick to pass harmful ones? Well the move began in December last year. Some call it a French Patriot act. This is not the first time there is an attempt from French government to enforce stronger control on the internet. The pressure of lobbies and media industries have been pushing hard to preserve their interests.

But this time, it’s just about copying the NSA, and get legal requirement for service providers to host the black boxes. Seems that the Snowden revelations gave the lawmakers some ideas. The impact is not anecdotal in the French society. Some service providers announce they will leave the country like Altern (French), others call to action (French). Both Valentin and Laurent are long time activists in the French landscape. I know them for a while. Funny how things turn out, I’m now working in the company they founded in 99 (and passed hands in 2005).

But all this makes me think that we are facing a technicality. The real thing is systemic. It seems that we failed, as a civilization, to regain control over our systems. The course of evolution is going to lead to more control to the machines, more dependence on the computerized information. Up to a point where our insignificance as human being will become really obvious.

We, as small makers of this computerized universe, should have some part of responsibility. Is there a way that we can bend the course of history by the small choices we make? Can we not take decisions in regard of how to implement solutions, in a way that we can preserve a margin of freedom and respect for the human species? I’m not sure, at this point, there is anything we can do. But if we don’t try, we will never know. Think about it. You build systems. You shape the world. Your choice matters.


Drones and makers

This is now obvious. We are going to get invaded by drones. Of course we will pretend we control them, for a while. But I can bet it’s not going to stand too long. Their autonomy is a competitive factor, and, in our current society, competitive is the Darwinian selective factor. It can be a bit scary.

But on another hand, when we geeks look at those things with our (never-aging) kids eyes, we see fun toys. Look at the B Flying car. We can do them ourselves. Like we were able to tinker with the first computers, the first radio stations. But now we have 3D printing. Yet not that affordable, but it seems to get better. There is also that creepy 3Doodler thingie, and various other new techniques.

Maybe the Makers movement is the hope for humanity. Reclaim the daily small things! Check that instructable website it’s a lot of fun.

Well yeah this all has nothing to do with webdev. Except from the fact that open standards made possible to people like me to do the web myself. After a time, it became a professional activity. Will we get professional makers in the future and see a revival of craftsmanship? I really wonder.