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Mike's List is my amazing, free and ad-free email newsletter, which graces your inbox weekly. It's packed with insane, ill-advised, dangerous and nutty technology stories, as well as a few brilliant insights and life-changing online resources.

Mike's List is the greatest technology publication in the history of mankind, according to my mother.

What do all Mike's List stories have in common? They're all stories that you'll be talking about for months, but which you almost certainly haven't heard about elsewhere, even if you're a dedicated consumer of tech media.

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Facebook to launch its own "Supreme Court"


I told you last month in a Fast Company piece I wrote that the trendlines point to a future in which many of our laws will be enforced by technology companies, who will serve as judge and jury.

Now, Facebook says they’re launching a “Supreme Court” in the form of an oversight board that will serve as the final court of appeals in disputes about blacklisted users and companies.

Does that mean you’ll have rights like the presumption of innocence, right to an attorney, right to not self-incriminate, etc.? Of course not!

Shining light on dark data, shadow IT and shadow IoT


What's lurking in the shadows of YOUR organization? What you don't know can hurt you.

Dark data, shadow IT and it's insidious nephew, shadow IoT, are dangerous and bad for business.

Here's what's new and urgent about dark data and shadow IT, with an extensive look at shadow IoT -- and what to do about it.

Why patch management is an art, not a science

Malware exists to exploit vulnerabilities discovered in software. Patches exist to fix those vulnerabilities. So why do so many vulnerabilities remain unpatched? Why is patch management so complicated?

Read my column at SecurityIntelligence.

Sadly, security and IT professionals don’t live in a patch-everything-right-away fantasy land. Trade-offs and compromises are dictated by the conflicting priorities and interests within large organizations. People have cognitive biases that prevent them from acting rationally. And not all patches are created equal.

Patch management is very important, and very difficult. Let's face it. Patch management is an art.

I love this simple timer!


Deep work is hard these days, what with the internet's ever-addictive distractions and all, but more valuable than ever -- especially to me, as a prolific writer.

I believe in not mixing business with pleasure -- or, work with fun (like social media, YouTube videos, Twitter bickering, Amazon shopping, games and so on). I see so many people falling into the continuous partial attention trap where they're never fully working, never fully playing and never fully engaging with the people around them. Such people are never fully living.

And I want to avoid that. My goal is to, at any given time, be fully working, fully playing or giving my full attention to family and friends.

I also believe attention management will become a major application for consumer and business electronics.

And when I work, I like to have a gun to my head -- a deadline that drives me to work faster.

Pomodoro is impossible. 25 minutes of work between breaks? The breaks themselves become attention-exploding, creativity-killing distractions.

Two hours is more like it. Two hours of deep work, with ten-minute breaks between, fits my schedule just about right.

I like a big, visible timer doing the countdown. My iPad is perfect for that while I write with my Pixelbook.

Trouble is, iPad timers are annoying. They're either freemium, which means I have to pay or see ads, or they're super fugly, which is another annoyance.

I've been looking for a non-annoying, pleasant and elegant iPad timer for years. And I finally found one.

It's called Big Timer for iPhone and iPad. (They’ve got an Apple TV app, too.)

Big Timer has one review. The app is two years old. I don't care. It's beautiful, elegant and has a minimal and simple user interface. It also comes with a range of fun robot-voice timer sounds.

My favorite way to use it while hammering away on a deadline is to put the Big Timer side-by-side with Apple's World Clock app, where I have three time zones: one where my family is; one where my editors are; and one where I am. I use Big Timer’s grey background, and there’s no distracting color on my iPad screen.

This combination keeps me centered and contextually aware, which helps me focus on the task at hand.

Me talking about America's "social credit system" on the Daily Dive podcast!

wow (1).jpg

I had fun recently talking with Daily Dive host Oscar Ramirez, where we talked about my Fast Company piece on America's "social credit system."

Just go here and hit "Play."

(Picture not necessarily related.)

Phrase of the moment: "Volfefe index"


JPMorgan has created an index to track and quantify Trump’s tweets on the financial markets. They call it the "Volfefe Index" -- a portmanteau of "volatility" and "covfefe."

OMG, I love this phrase.

What I don't love is that it's based on the understanding that 146 tweets by the "president" have actually moved the stock market.

Phrase of the moment: "emergency pork"


China is gripped by a pork shortage because of an epidemic of African swine fever.

China’s hog herd is down (more than 30%) and prices are up.

The government is in a panic because food prices can drive social unrest and anti-government protests. (Totalitarianism is fine, just keep prices down.)

The Chinese government is ready, and keeps huge stockpiles of frozen pork (more than a million tons) for emergencies, which it is now selling at 10% below the market price. Call it “emergency pork.”

This is not a good time for China to be engaged with a trade war with the United States.

On a cheese farm in Catalonia


This organic goat farm and cheese making operation had dozens of baby goats averaging two weeks old. Cute overload.

Phrase of the moment: "information gerrymandering"


You've heard about the filter bubble idea, whereby social algorithms show you want you want, and you end up getting information about the world from mostly agreeable people and sources.

New research has found a new way that information filtering or sorting on social networks can shape your opinion, and therefore voting behavior. They call it "information gerrymandering."

The idea is that, instead of a filter bubble effect where information comes from only like-minded people, the “information gerrymandering” is when information within a filter bubble comes from people inside the filter bubble who also get information from outside the filter bubble.

When you have two filter bubbles — say, politically left and right filter bubbles — the filter bubble that is more “open minded” (has more information coming from members who are aware of information from outside the filter bubble) has an electoral disadvantage.

In other words, keeping party members ignorant of opposing political viewpoints is a winning strategy for shameless political operatives.

According to the research:

“The researchers’ analysis revealed that information gerrymandering could easily produce biases of 20%. In other words, a group that was evenly split into two parties could nonetheless arrive at 60-40 decision due solely to information gerrymandering.”

My office today: the Pulitzer Hotel lobby in Barcelona


I couldn't take the tourists at Starbucks anymore, so I retreated to this lovely oasis of air conditioning, WiFi, good coffee and calm.

Barcelona Starbucks are the only ones I've encountered that still time-limit or data-limit WiFi. I worked for about a half hour before the network kicked me off.

The tourist hoards are overwhelming even the local carrier signal foisted upon me by Google Fi.

We already love this hotel, and often hang out on the roof.

Are your security tools working? Are you sure?


Your organization has invested in dozens of cybersecurity tools. But you’re not sure if they’re working as expected.

Next year’s security spend will likely increase. How should you proceed with additional investment when there’s so much uncertainty about the effectiveness of previous investments? On your next stand-and-deliver to C-level leadership, what do you tell them about the current status of your security infrastructure?

Welcome to the cybersecurity age of uncertainty.

My office today: some random table in Catalonia


I don’t even know the name of this town, but we’re here to check out a restaurant and, of course, dinner doesn’t start in this part of Europe until 8pm or 9pm. So we’re cooling our heels and getting a little work done at the most arbitrary spot imaginable.

Phrase of the moment: "late gold-bloomer"

Jeff Goldblum got a show, where cameras follow him around as he explores the world like the curious, child-like, fun-loving, mischievous extrovert that he is. Sounds like fun. It's called "The World According to Jeff Goldblum."

Because Jeff Goldblum's life... uh… finds a way.

Word of the moment: "phototriggerable"

Chemistry nerds today unveiled new research on the development of a polymer that melts in the sun. Funded by the Pentagon, the material could be used for drones, parachutes and other gear that disintegrates on the battlefield.

The title of the research is: "Phototriggerable polymers for transient devices."

This technology wasn't publicly known when I wrote this piece on self-destructing gadgets for Fast Company.

The new technology does self-destruct, but doesn't vanish. It just looks like something gross on the ground after it melts.

The breakthrough was enabled when researchers incorporated a photosensitive additive that absorbs light, then "catalyzes depolymerization," which is to say that it causes the component parts of the polymer to separate.

Various additives can be used to cause the effect at different wavelengths of light, so they could make an indoor version as well, which melts when you turn on the lights in a room.

My Fast Company piece made the Drudge Report

I'm on Drudge!

I hope my opinion isn't being co-opted as a new anti-liberal talking point for conservatives. It's not at all a right-left issue, but something that crosses party lines. It's really a reflection of the growing power of corporations, who are increasingly and accidentally taking on tasks that used to be handled by government or society at large.

In other words, it doesn't fit into the "Oh, look, those liberals in Silicon Valley are copying the Communist Chinese."

It's more along the lines of: "First we outsourced special forces and prisons to private companies, now we're outsourcing law enforcement."

Not a left-right issue, but something that should concern and does affect all citizens.

Ooh! Ooh! Double lightsaber in the new Star Wars trailer!

The Rise Of Skywalker is coming in December. The new trailer is awesome, etc. But most awesome of all is this double lightsaber, which folds out to become a long lightsaber staff. I need one!

Forget China. Silicon Valley is creating America's own "social credit system"


Have you heard about China’s social credit system? It’s a technology-enabled, surveillance-based nationwide program designed to nudge citizens toward better behavior. The ultimate goal is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to the Chinese government.

Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley.

I need your help deciphering this ghost sign in Barcelona!


It’s written in either Spanish or Catalan, and many of the letters are hard to read. Please let me know in the comments what you believe this sign says!

Why letting AI write is wrong

Machines are getting better at writing. They can finish our sentences. They can reply to our emails. They can write news reports and even novels. But just because they can doesn’t mean they should.

As we embark on this partnership with artificial intelligence, it’s important that we safeguard human intelligence. And the biggest threat to human intelligence is software that writes.

The most efficient way for AI to make us dumber is to take the task of writing away from us. Our critical and creative faculties will atrophy. Our minds will become dull. And we’ll all become so boring that the machines may not even want us around as pets.