Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘journalism

Khashoggi’s Watch

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I’ve been following the disappearance and possible (likely) murder of expat Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey with both horror and fascination.

When I read that Turkish newpaper Sabah wrote that Khashoggi’s Apple Watch may have provided evidence by Turkish officials of his murder, I paid even closer attention.

Could Khashoggi have activated a recording app on his Apple Watch, which was, in turn, connected to the iPhone he left in the car with his wife, and then have had that recording automagically uploaded to his iCloud account?

A report from CNBC pointed out some holes in Sabah’s story which bear following up.

First, they point out there’s no fingerprint sensor on the Apple Watch, so Sabah’s report that the Saudis attempt to delete the audio recording using Khashoggi’s fingerprint to unlock the Apple Watch wouldn’t be viable. The Apple Watch is unlocked with a passcode.

Also, the Apple Watch typically remains unlocked as long as the wearer keeps it strapped to their wrist after inputting the passcode.

Second, CNBC reports that the Sabah report indicated the audio recording was sent to Khashoggi’s iPhone from his Apple Watch, but if he left his iPhone with his fiancee outside the Saudi consulate, it would likely be difficult to maintain a Bluetooth connection to send the audio recording data to that phone.  

The rate of data transfer between Bluetooth 4.0 devices can be up to 25 Mbps, and though the signal can work through walls, the more objects in between the devices, the less overall range. The general range for Bluetooth 4.0 is up to 300 feet, so depending on how close his fiancee’s car was to the actual room where Khashoggi was allegedly being dismembered, the file might or might not have been transferrable back to his iPhone.

If you were thinking perhaps Khaoshoggi was wearing an Apple Watch that has a cellular data connection, CNBC points out that that particular model of the Apple Watch is incompatible with cellular networks in Turkey.

Finally, even if Khashoggi used an app to record from his Apple watch, Apple doesn’t actually ship the watch with a recording app.

So, he would have had to use one of several third-party apps that enable audio recording on the watch, and Apple’s privacy rules require such apps to display a red indicator on the watch a screen while it’s recording audio.

Anyone who looked at the watch would likely know they were being recorded. Of course, it’s certainly possible someone unfamiliar with the Apple Watch might not know what that big red button meant. But an alleged 15 highly-trained assassins?

Which leads me back to a hypothesis shared with me via a former member of the U.S. military. The Sabah Apple Watch story was very possibly a smokescreen published by Turkish intelligence intended to protect its own sources and methods.

Meaning, the Turkish government most likely had that Saudi consulate bugged to high heaven, so it’s very likely they do know if there was a murder and dismemberment taking place there. 

But suggesting via an open source record like a Turkish newspaper that such knowledge came in via an Apple Watch versus a well-placed bug is a very convenient way to let the world know that the Turks had that information, without really letting the world, and the Saudis, know exactly how.

Whatever the role these technologies did or didn’t play, the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi has evolved into an international incident.

Just this morning, The New York Times reported that President Trump said that he spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia and that “the ruler denied any knowledge of what happened to a missing Saudi dissident journalist [Jamal Khashoggi].”

Yet, Trump indicated he would still be sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudia Arabia later this morning to meet with King Salman.

No word yet on whether or not Secretary Pompeo will be wearing an Apple Watch!

Written by turbotodd

October 15, 2018 at 11:03 am

Dead Solid Perfect

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Don’t think for a moment I didn’t notice that the PGA’s Tournament Players Championship tournament started yesterday down in Ponta Vedra Beach, Florida.

I’ve been busy this week, but not sooo busy that I would ignore this classic golfing event.

It is a tournament that began the week with Phil Mickelson’s induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame, along with Scottish golfer Sandy Lyle, Peter Alliss, and Hollis Stacy, and the incomparable Texas sportswriter, Dan Jenkins (author of Dead Solid Perfect and Semi-Tough).

You can watch some highlights of Dan’s acceptance speech, along with Phils’ and others, here.

It’s worth the price of admission just to hear Dan Jenkins riff the names of all the famous golfers he has either 1) played rounds of golf with 2) had cocktails with 3) written stories about.

Jenkins related one story in particular, whereby one of the greatest golfers ever, Ben Hogan, offered to give Jenkins golf lessons, three times a week, for four months, to prepare Jenkins to compete in the National Amateur.

Jenkins thanked Hogan profusely for the offer, but explained that all he’d ever wanted to be was a sportswriter.

Hogan looked at him like “he’d looked at other people, with that cold stare,” and, Jenkins explained, “you don’t know if you’re going to get a bullet in the head or a dagger in your heart. And so you just wait for him to speak.”

Finally, Hogan smiled and said, “Well, keep workin’ at it.”

“And that,” Jenkins explained, “is what I’ve been doing for the last sixty years.”

As for Michelson’s speech, get your box of Kleenex ready.

Phil, whom you could argue is still “mid-career,” especially based on his recent golfing performance, explained that “We’re all in it together to enjoy this great game.”

He thanked everyone, “for competing with me…for your friendships. This has been so much fun and I love sharing this with everybody.”

He also went on to thank his fans, but with his typical good humor explained, “The fans have made this such a fun ride. It’s been their energy that has pulled me through. I’ve tried to reciprocate by launching drive after drive in their general direction.”

The audience, and I, found that one liner hilarious!

I actually had the good fortune to be hosted by the PGA at Ponta Vedra back in 1998, when we were featuring them as a customer in our advertising campaign.

I saw the World Golf Hall of Fame right before it was open to the public (I really must get back there!), and I also had the special privilege of giving the TPC Sawgrass Course a go.

I wasn’t playing nearly as much golf during those times, so my game was middling at best.

But, I made it through the round okay, and when I hit 17, the one with the floating green, I think I tried three times before the ball finally stayed on the green (I chuckle to this day when a pro drops a ball in the water on 17.  I did NOT laugh when Angel Cabrera dropped four of them in the water there yesterday.  Remember that nightmare hole inTin Cup???)

On 18, with that perilous water that essentially makes up the entirety of the hole’s left perimeter, I decided I would hit irons all the way. My drive was a three-iron that faded left and settled about three feet from the water.  So much for playing it safe!

My second shot was another long iron, which landed promptly on the green about six feet from the hole.

I sank the putt and ran giggling off the green, and have never been back.

I birdied 18 at TPC Sawgrass playing only irons.

Take that, Phil Mickelson!

Written by turbotodd

May 11, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Texas News You Can Use

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So Rupert Murdoch is suggesting that he may soon make News Corp. content unfindable to Google searchers, soon being after he launches his paid content strategy.

But as the mUmBRELLA blog from Australia points out, all Murdoch and team need do is block said content from the Google index using the robots.txt protocol.

My only question to News Corp. is, isn’t that kind of like making yourself invisible in cyberspace?

Unless, of course, you want to be invisible, in which case, have at it.

Hey, I understand it’s a difficult time for many major media in terms of economics.  As someone who studied mass communications for his master’s degree, I can relate to the massive earthshaking taking place in the media industry: Craig’s List classifieds, dwindling readership, less advertisers…I get it.

On the other hand, all media have always been about gaining individual attention, and if the attention stream is now defined through search engines instead of the front page, that’s a reality that must be reckoned with.

New realities bring new business models — just take the new Texas Tribune, which former Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith left one of the seemingly cushiest magazine jobs around right here in Austin to help co-found.

The Tribune positions itself as a “non-profit, nonpartisan public media organization,” whose mission is “to promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government, and other matters of statewide concern.”

The Tribune launched in record time (I think I read their site build was less than 6 weeks) on November 3, and it’s “About Us” page suggests that folks should read the Tribune and their local paper.

It also says that the Tribune will cover a “full range of big, important topics, including immigration, education, transportation, health care, water, the environment, criminal justice, energy, poverty — pretty much every line in the state budget.”

They had me going until that last line, but hey, maybe there’s more to the Texas state budget than meets the eye.

The point being, they at least aspire to provide coverage that is geared towards bringing sunshine into the political process and telling stories about public policy and government that impact the lives of millions of Texans, rather than focusing all their attention exclusively on the latest bright and shiny object.

Not without some irony, the major media — in this case, The New York Times — wrote an organizational profile piece today about the Tribune, explaining how that instead of going deep on the Ft. Hood shootings last Friday, the Texas Tribune was instead focusing on the “50 highest paid state employees and an exclusive about a state representative who had switched parties.”

I am glad to see a new news entity here in Texas moving beyond the sensational and into public service journalism, and hope the new sunshine can also help make some rain for the citizens of Texas, while also making payroll for the Texas Tribune.

As for Rupert Murdoch, I wish him and his News Corp. properties good luck with turning off the Google attention stream.

If he needs some help, here’s some instructions for disabling that robots.txt file.

It’s not very often you get to see a world-renowned media celebrity play virtual Russian Roulette.

Written by turbotodd

November 9, 2009 at 6:04 pm

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