The Millions Silicon Valley Spends on Security for Execs

There’s plenty of talk about security when it comes to giant technical companies, like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. But that’s all usually from the perspective of the software security and end-user privacy. Here’s a different perspective on the subject – “The Millions Silicon Valley Spends on Security for Execs“.

Apple’s most recent proxy statement, filed earlier this month, shows the company spent $310,000 on personal security for CEO Tim Cook. But that’s a fraction of other tech giants’ expenditures.
Amazon and Oracle spent about $1.6 million each in their most recent fiscal years to protect Jeff Bezos and Larry Ellison, respectively, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. And Google’s parent company, Alphabet, laid out more than $600,000 protecting CEO Sundar Pichai and almost $300,000 on security for former executive chair Eric Schmidt. In 2017, Intel spent $1.2 million to protect former CEO Brian Krzanich. Apple, Google, Intel, and Oracle declined to comment; Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was the costliest executive to protect; Facebook spent $7.3 million on his security in 2017, and last summer the company told investors that it anticipated spending $10 million annually.

Well, that’s pretty impressive in terms of money! But do they need it really? They do, at least, to some degree:

While Silicon Valley firms haven’t disclosed many threats to the safety of their executives or offices, they have good reason to take precautions. In December, Facebook evacuated its headquarters after the company received a bomb threat. Last year an unhappy YouTube user entered the company’s San Bruno, California, headquarters and shot three employees before killing herself. And in 1992 the president of Adobe, Charles Geschke, was kidnapped at gunpoint and rescued by the FBI.

Do you still dream of being an executive in a large company?

1994 web design from Apple, Microsoft

Jason Kottke links to some examples of the early (circa 1994) web design from both Apple


and Microsoft (still online, by the way)


Quite an evolution we went through!  Here are some interesting bits to notice:

  1. “If your browser doesn’t support images” on the Microsoft one.
  2. Painted grey background, even though that was a default browser background color back in a day.
  3. Microsoft server is NOT running on IIS. Yet. But HTTPS is mentioned already!
  4. I still, in 2015, know multiple so called “web developers” who wouldn’t be able to implement these designs in any sensible time frame (within a day). How rusty are you image maps?

The good old days…

Chrome Remote Desktop goes mobile

I missed the announcement last month, but these are good enough news to share even later: Google Chrome Remote Desktop now works with your Android device.

chrome remote access


This is obviously for Windows and Macs machines, but these are usually the ones needing remote access anyway.  Linux people have always known how to access their machines remotely.

On the price of the operating systems is running a good piece on the price of the operating systems.  It covers a bit of history and shows how things are now and how it all came a full circle – from free operating systems of the past, all through highly profitable years of Microsoft and Apple, and back to free operating systems of today’s mobile world.

In a way, operating systems are returning to their roots as a kind of loss leader. Before the personal computer revolution of the late 1970s, operating systems were just one piece in a vertically integrated stack of technology, a stack that also included hardware and support services. Operating systems like Unix and VMS were used to sell minicomputers and workstations, and companies made their profits on hardware and support contracts. OSes such as BSD UNIX were completely free, and programmers would pass them around at will. Under the same philosophy, Apple gave away new versions of its Macintosh operating system until the crisis years of the late 1990s, when hardware sales slowed dramatically.

In the rapidly developing smartphone and tablet markets, tightly-coupled stacks are once again dominant, so OS makers can subsidize their operating systems with profit from the products integrated into them. Google, for example, subsidizes its mobile OS by selling online ads, and, in theory at least, by selling Motorola-branded hardware. Apple’s iPhone profits come from hardware and service sales, not the OS.

The article also shows how problematic is this new situation for Microsoft.

Microsoft’s OS sales once generated 47 percent of its revenue, but they contributed just 25 percentlast year on decelerating Windows licensing (and even that figure is inflated by ad revenue from Windows Live). In response, Microsoft is restructuring as a “devices and services” business — meaning a company that sells hardware like the Xbox and web services like Azure. In other words, it’s becoming more like Apple. Apple isn’t really a software company. It makes software and services that run on its own hardware devices.

However …

Yes, even Microsoft is moving towards the vertical stack. It recently acquired phone maker Nokia and sells its own tablets. But this game of cross-subsidizing the operating system will be tougher for Microsoft, since the company is no Apple when it comes to hardware — and no Google when it comes to online services. The company rose to prominence in the horizontal PC era, when Microsoft could play one hardware vendor against another, dictate prices, and keep a computer’s hefty OS markup hidden from consumers. Those were the days.

And more specifically:

So to the average consumer, the 21st Century sea change in OS pricing might not be particularly apparent. But to Microsoft shareholders, it will look very real and very scary. The company must make up that 25 percent somewhere else.

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out.

When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: ‘People Staring at Computers’

When Art, Apple and the Secret Service Collide: ‘People Staring at Computers’

This is a rather lengthy story, but it touches on many different topics – art, privacy, Apple, law, government, and more.  And even though it is long, it is very well written and is absolutely worth the time.

Later that year I worked with interactive artist Theo Watson on an extension of “Important Things,” called “Happy Things,” which took a screenshot every time you smiled, and uploaded it to the web. We got pictures from all around the world, with people smiling at everything, from cat memes to the Wikipedia article for Nicholas Cage.

Sometimes this kind of work is associated with “human-computer interaction,” but this term makes it sound like we’re interacting with computers, when in fact, most of the time, we’re interacting with each other. I like to think of it as “computer-mediated interaction.”

In mid-May, 2011, I took a timelapse using my laptop’s webcam to get a feeling for how I looked at the computer. After a few days of recording, I watched the video.

I was completely stunned.

There was no expression on my face. Even though I spend most of my day talking to and collaborating with other people online, from my face you can see no trace of this.

Who is suing who in the mobile phone industry?

GigaOm links to an excellent visualization of smartphone patents’ legal battles.  It’s interesting how different is the representation of Apple and Google on this graph.  However, one needs to remember, that Google has acquired Motorola’s mobile division.


This seems to be a nice update to another graph that I’ve posted a couple of years ago.  Some of the lawsuits from the old chart are still here.  And there is a whole bunch of new ones.  I like this new updated one better than the old one, because company logos make it more readable. And this one also has references to the actual lawsuits, in case someone wants to follow.

When will Apple learn of online shopping?

I know I am biased when I talk about Apple.  I am a Google fan-boy and an Open Source advocate.  Apple doesn’t go well with it.  But even I’ve been heard giving the credit where it’s due.  In the same way, I’ve been heard criticizing Google at times.  Now, it’s Apple time.  Big time.

People were scared of online shopping back in 1998.  Companies were slow to adopt it, worrying about fraud and such.  But these days, in March of 2012, online shopping is a done deal pretty much.  Everybody who needs it, has it.  Everybody knows how to use it.  And so on and so forth.

One would assume, Apple, being one of the leading technology companies, would be sitting tightly on the bandwagon.  And they do.  A bit.  If you are in the USA.  Or maybe a few other countries.  But if you are in Cyprus, which is, by the way, a member of the European Union, here’s how you do online shopping with Apple.

You donwload a PDF file, print it out, fill the form, and fax (!!!) it to Apple.  And then you wait… Really Apple, fax?  What happened to online purchasing?  After all, there are only $99 and $299 options there.  It’s not like I’m buying an airplane. #FAIL



Looking at this ugly apple, I remembered a joke someone told me recently about the three famous apples in the history of humanity – the one Eve gave to Adam, the one that fell on Isaac Newton, and the one on the logo of the Apple Computers Inc.  Actually, I don’t even remember the joke. I just remember the apples.

Thinking about them, they all must have been quite ugly.  After all, Eve had to promise to Adam that he will get laid if he bytes the fruit.  The other one that fell on the head of a genius must have been ugly by definition.  It also made Isaac think a lot.  If it was a nice looking apple, he would have just eaten it without much thought.  And the last apple sparked the creativity of Steve Jobs.  He must have seen an ugly apple and thought of it as a creative challenge.   A lot of people can take something ugly and make it better.  But how can you take something ugly and make it even uglier?  Steve Jobs took a byte of it. Simple, easy, yet genius as well.

The apple I have in front of me is ugly.  I’m blogging this for historical reasons.  After all there is a small chance that this apple will become the fourth famous apple in the history of the world…

And if that wasn’t enough, I had one more revelation.  If you look at this image in a certain way – with your side vision, and you’ll cover the top part of it – then this apple looks a lot like watermelon.  So there you go.  My ugly apple story ends here.

RIP Steve Jobs

It doesn’t matter if you know, like or use any of the Apple products. If you are reading this, your life has been influenced by Steve Jobs.  The computer mouse that you are holding in your hand now, the computer, table, or a mobile device which you use to read this, the browser window, the fonts, the buttons, and other elements of the user interface – these are just a few things that are different today because of Steve’s work.  His contribution was huge.

I’m not going to idolize him – each and every human being has his ups and downs.  We all make mistakes and we all screw up.  But the important thing, I guess, is whether each and every one of us makes this world any better.  Steve Jobs has improved this world a lot.  And he inspired many others to do the same.  For that, I am grateful to him.  For that I respect him a lot.

Thank you, Steve.  Rest in peace.