by Joseph Akbrud

On Encryption Backdoors

by Joseph Akbrud

Earlier today a letter was sent to  President Obama written by a coalition of security advocates, cryptologists, and tech companies urging him not to allow any encryption backdoors.  Both consumers and tech companies have been ramping up encryption in response to documents leaked by Edward Snowden exposing NSA surveillance. 

This is a rare instance where profit, security, and the public interest are in unison.  I'm curious to see how the U.S. Government will respond to such a massive coalition.  It's important to note that regardless of what President Obama's opinion is on the matter, ultimately, it's Congress that has the power to either withhold or overturn laws requiring encryption backdoors. 

"Is it in you?"

by Joseph Akbrud

Listen to Michael Jordan attempt to utter the phrase "Gatorade.  Is it in you?" and fail miserably.  You're welcome. 

My Favorite Tumblogs

by Joseph Akbrud

Tumblr has quickly become my favorite social network.  It features many of the best aspects of other sites while maintaining a unique identify of its own.  Its popularity and reach rival Facebook, its photography is on par with Instagram and Flickr, and its iOS and Android apps are arguably the most intuitive and well designed of any major social network.  Below you’ll find a list of my favorite Tumblogs.


  • ilovecharts

    • Beautiful visualizations and charts that run the gamut from informative to hilarious.

  • Vicemag

    • Vice Magazine’s blog features beautiful photography highlighting interesting stories that you won’t find anywhere else.


  • Central Park NYC

    • Central Park’s official blog.  Expect beautiful photos and videos of Central Park along with tips on where to go and what to do.

  • Kuroyuki

    • Run by a German Japanophile, Kuroyuki features photos highlighting everyday life in Japan.

  • Zeroshift

    • Videogame, anime, and minimalist photography.

  • NY Through the Lens

    • Vivienne Gucwa is an amazing photography who has a knack for making New York City look amazing.  A must follow for fans of the city.

  • David Guttenfelder

    • David Guttenfelder is one of the most well traveled and talented photographers in the world.  His blog features photos taken during his travels in Afghanistan, North Korea, Japan, Iraq, and Africa.

  • Instagram

    • Instagram’s official blog.

  • Linxspiration

    • Some of the best minimalist photography to be found online (occasionally NSFW).

  • Visual Echoes

    • Another collection of minimalist photography (occasionally NSFW).


  • Littlebigdetails

    • A collection of software easter eggs and “design appreciation”.

  • Android Niceties

    • Android Niceties is a blog highlighting the best looking Android apps available including a myriad of screenshots.


by Joseph Akbrud in

Earlier this month I visited Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg) for the first time.  I took over 1,000 photos along the way with my Canon 60D with several lenses.  Feel free to visit my Flickr Album for more photos including high-res downloadable versions.

Round and Round.....

by Joseph Akbrud

Once again summer is coming to an end.  Nothing represents summer better than an amusement park. 

Lynn's Trapeze

Lynn's Trapeze

Google+ ends its real-name policy

by Joseph Akbrud

In an interesting turn of events Google+ has decided to end its real-name policy.  Google+ users will now be able to use the service using a pseudonym.  While there are many legitimate reasons to maintain anonymity online, this latest move by Google+ has a certain air of desperation to it.  In its post explaining the decision the search company claims that it's real name policy "...has been unclear" leading to "...unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users." 

While Google's policy reversal should make it easier for users to register for the service, one has to wonder whether this will actually help increase user adoption and engagement on the site.  I personally feel that the real-name policy helped keep conversations on the social network far more civil and thoughtful than they probably would have been.  As we all know a bit too well, anonymity online is a double-edged sword.

Foursquare, Swarm and the Evolution of the Check-in

by Joseph Akbrud

When Foursquare recently announced that they were planning on splitting their app in two, many criticized the change.

In this post I would like to focus one particular aspect of the revamp: mayorships.  Analyzing mayorhips, and more importantly, why they are being downplayed significantly is in my opinion a model for how and why Foursquare is changing as a company.

Dennis Crowley has been saying for a while that Foursquare, while popular, has a perception problem.  Most people view Foursquare as a game.  It’s the app where users check-in to try to win badges and mayorships when the fact of the matter is, Foursquare offers far more than that.  Over the years it has matured into a product that thanks to billions of check-ins, features a fairly comprehensive and easy to use recommendation engine.  Downplaying the gamification aspect of the app while highlighting discovery is their way of forcing their community of over 45 million to alter their behavior.

Discounts seem to be going away as well.  I’ll admit that as a user, this is probably the one feature that I will miss.  From a business and product perspective, I can understand why they are making this change.  By eliminating discounts they are eliminating the need to strike deals with brick and mortar businesses.  Anyone who has visited a bar or restarurant’s outdated, tacky flash based website will attest to the fact that many small businesses are not exactly leaping into the 21st century head first.

Keep in mind that while Fousquare is a social network, at the end of the day, they're competing with the likes of Yelp and Zagat, not Facebook and Twitter.