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Who Says You Have to Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?

Who Says You Have to Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?

| 7/31/2013 10:36:39 AM

Somewhere around GPS coordinates N41° 19’/W88° 50’ there’s a white farmhouse with a big wraparound porch. I often pass it when I’m cycling out in the country, as the trip is just the right length, the scenery is nice, and the road loops around. It’s a very pleasant excursion. The only tricky part is the road in front of that farmhouse. Lurking up on the porch, like some ferocious monster from ancient mythology, lies Angel, a mongrel dog. As monsters go, she’s not particularly large. But she guards her little stretch of road like a dragon guarding its hoard of gold. And she does her level best to catch and devour me every time I dare to intrude upon her domain.
 
Who Says You Have to Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?
I’ve only seen her owners once. To give them credit, they did make a half-hearted attempt to call Angel back when she charged after me, fangs bared and bloodlust in her eyes. I remember thinking that her name seemed somewhat incongruous. But wherever her owners may be, Angel is always waiting on that porch, and she’s always prepared to sink her slavering teeth into one of my ankles. You don’t enter her domain without a plan, any more than Odysseus would have casually ignored Scylla and Charybdis.
 
Angel almost got me the first time. I didn’t know about her yet. Fortunately, the porch is a good 30 yards from the road, and by pure dumb luck I had chosen that particular moment to crank up the juice and burn some calories. So I was flying along at a very good clip when Angel launched her surprise attack. Apparently, the rules of the game say that if you can make it to the neighbor’s property line Angel has to spare your life, and I managed to cross the boundary into neutral territory before she caught up.
 
Now, of course, I know what to expect. So I always approach Angel’s lair with a strategy in mind. I consider factors like wind direction, background noise and reserve energy. It would not be wise to wear myself out before I’m safely past Angel, especially if I’m fighting a headwind. She’s quick, she’s got pretty sharp ears, and her reaction time is excellent. But I’ve noticed that if the wind is coming from my left, and if I’ve already clicked up to my standard Angel-evasion gear, I’ll be three quarters of the way past her property before she realizes that a prey animal is racing by. And that takes all the fun out of it for both of us.
 
So when conditions demand it I’ll whistle, just to give her a heads up. I know you’re supposed to let sleeping dogs lie, but I can’t resist the adrenalin rush.
 
Besides, if everybody just left things the way they are we’d never make any progress. For example, some smart guys and gals in Germany have just succeeded in stopping light and holding it in place for a full 60 seconds, thus violating what would once have been considered to be a Law of Nature. They believe that it will eventually be possible to store data on a beam of light and to transmit that data over vast distances. The implications are mind-boggling, and it wouldn’t have happened if someone hadn’t chosen to ignore the status quo and stir things up a little. 
 
Over in the Netherlands a team at a Dutch university has cracked the ignition codes needed to wirelessly hotwire Lamborghinis, Porches and Bentleys. The car manufacturers are up in arms, as they didn’t think this could happen. I’m fascinated, of course, because security breaches so rarely begin with a weakness in the encryption protocols themselves. It’s most always some little hole in the system that gives outsiders some form of physical access. If outsiders can listen in, and if they can talk to your system, they can work on the encryption at their leisure. It was complacency that got those auto manufacturers in trouble. They didn’t believe that anyone could find a way to access the encrypted ignition codes, so they didn’t keep stirring the pot; they didn’t keep looking for improvements.
 
In the world of technology, letting sleeping dogs lie really isn’t an option. The changes will keep coming, like it or not, so you might as well join in and see where it all goes. We haven’t trapped light at B&B Electronics yet, and we’re too polite to go around cracking auto manufacturer’s ignition codes, but we’re not complacent, either. We’ve got some exciting new products in the pipeline, like our dual band Wi-Fi M2M solutions, and when the future arrives we plan to be right there in the thick of things. And if the future doesn’t seem to be arriving quickly enough, I guess we’ll just have to whistle and wake it up.

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