Monday, July 26, 2010

Link roundup

1. How to be An Android power user. Also, how to use Android's voice-activated search as a calculator and conversion tool.

2. Criticism of the Washington Post's special "Top Secret America" features:

Clearly, a lot more effort went into assembling a detailed, comprehensive listing of classified programs and contractors than went into the stories. There’s clearly a risk to national security in making such a listing readily available; it could lead to the companies being targeted by intelligence services or even terrorists. Still, some of that information is readily available. Once you have a company name, basic data like the company’s location, employees, and revenue is widely available from business sources. What’s new and what required real work was the detailed listing of companies and agencies tied to classified contracts, plus the appealing graphical interfaces.

That said, a quick look left me with doubts about the quality of both the graphics and the research. After playing with them for a while, the visualizations seemed more like eye-candy than useful tools. And the database is less impressive when you focus on agencies you know something about. Is the Transportation Security Agency really doing a bunch of Top Secret border control research, as the database reports? I’m skeptical; I had policy responsibility for TSA when I was at DHS, and TSA doesn’t really do border controls; it’s got its hands full just doing transportation security.
3. Good Fark headline: Palestinian man gets 18 months in jail for trying to pass his meat off as kosher.

*Buy I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon's Black World at Amazon.