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LanceLetter: Supersonic; Ransomware; Facebook ban; Bezos in Space



June 7 · Issue #232 · View online

Stuff that matters.

Written while wondering if it’s pronounced “Lil’ Bet” or “Lilbet”

The Concorde (Credit: Steve Parker)
The Concorde (Credit: Steve Parker)
Going supersonic–again
I didn’t live in New York when the Concorde began its regular transatlantic flights. When I returned in 1981, the futuristic plane’s comings and goings from Kennedy Airport were a regular sight for most of my high school friends, but not for me.
I can still remember standing on the lacrosse field in Freeport, NY, and hearing an uncommon roar. I looked up and there was what, to my eyes, looked like a spaceship flying overhead. I just stared as my friends stared at me and finally explained, “It’s the Concorde, dummy.”
When Concordes left the sky and one took residence on the U.S.S. Intrepid, I was sad. It felt like we were stepping away from the future of flight. Now, though, Supersonic travel might be making a return.
United Airlines plans to buy 15 of the more efficient Boom Supersonic jets. They apparently fly just as fast (Mach 1.7) and high (60K feet) as the old Concordes (expect more sonic boom concerns) but are far more environmentally friendly. They could also get you from New York to London in 3.5 hours.
There are, according to The New York Times considerable hurdles to clear before we see these passenger jets flying over U.S. neighborhoods by 2029 at the earliest, but, personally, I’m rooting for them.
Ransomware pandemic
In recent weeks and months, we’ve seen gas suppliers, meat suppliers, insurance companies, and commuter railroads struggling through hacking and ransomware attacks. Those are the attacks that infect systems and then hold them, the data, and work they do for ransom until the companies pay up–often in bitcoin.
U.S. Government officials believe most of these attacks are coming from or being sponsored by Russia (and maybe China). Despite Biden Administration’s warnings to these state actors, I expect these attacks to ramp up even further.
It’s a stark reminder that not only do we need to upgrade our systems (regardless of the costs) but do a top-to-bottom audit ever every computer and touchpoint in these critical systems. Maybe infrastructure and various industries could pay white hat hackers to attempt intrusions and help them find vulnerabilities before the ransomware attackers do.
Companies also need to better train employees to spot phishing attacks, as they remain the weakest link.
The ban continues
Even as social media companies wait for U.S. government regulation to arrive (they hope before anti-monopoly actions), some companies are finally taking strict self-regulation into their own hands.
After Facebook’s Oversight board indicated that not putting a deadline was “not appropriate,” Facebook moved to put a limit on how long Former President Donald Trump would be banned from the platform. Now it’s set to two years from the day after the original Capitol insurrection.
As others have noted, this result is an indication that the independent oversight committee is working, and Facebook is listening. Clearly stated guidelines and actions may help head off arguments that Facebook is treating some unfairly or has a different set of rules for one group over another.
Perhaps, Facebook just created a model for all social media platforms.
A basket of Apples
Today kicks off Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The keynote, hosted by Apple CEO Tim Cook, should touch on every single one of Apple’s major platforms. I have a preview here.
Bezos in Spaaaaace!
As I was wrapping up this week’s newsletter, Amazon CEO (soon to be former) announced that he’ll ride to space on his own Blue Origin New Shepard spaceship’s inaugural flight.
That he’ll do this before his chief rival Elon Musk becomes a passenger on one of SpaceX’s countless space excursions likely irks Musk, but I’ve always thought there was a good reason the ultra-entrepreneur didn’t go. Space is high-risk. What would happen to all of Musk’s companies if disaster struck?
Perhaps this is why Bezos has waited until he’s no longer guiding the Amazon ship. If something goes wrong, there’s still a sure hand, Andy Jassy, guiding all of Amazon’s properties.
Even so, I’m not sure it’s a great idea to ride the very first New Shepard flight into space. I love space and I know I would not have the courage.
Good luck, Jeff.
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