Blake Dowling – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at or at

Blake Dowling: Dark Data, Dark Web, Dark Side?

Basic human dignity – FAIL.

Let’s see … what should I write about today? Pretending to murder the President of the United States? No, that’s been done.

It was ironic as I was posting my Memorial column about togetherness and unity on Twitter the other day and I see all these Tweets about Kathy Griffin. Let’s see what she is up to, hmmm beheading the President. That is exactly what I was talking about in the piece, people behaving so, so badly that it is beyond comprehension. Odd that it wasn’t on the news yesterday.

You hear a lot of the same rhetoric from right wing media outlets like Drudge Report, Fox News, etc. … “If this had been former President the world would be more outraged, there would be war in the streets,” but it’s a left-wing comedian and it’s Donald so maybe they are right (pun intended)? I watched the news (ABC/NBC) last night, no mention of this.

People forget that celebrities, politicians, athletes are actually human beings.

Like him or hate him, the Donald is a person, too. If you can’t respect the man or the woman, try and respect the office. Jeez, Griffin, humanity sinks deeper into the sea of the pathetic thanks to you. Basic human dignity – FAIL.

 Oh well. For today we are back to technology.

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have pancakes.

There is a company called Lattice Data that Apple just scooped up for about 200 million. Lattice specializes in machine learning and transferring “dark data” into usable information.

What the hell is dark data? Is that what the Emperor keeps on his iPad? (Zing)

Dark data is data that is unstructured and uncharacterized. It could be geographical information on customers, financial information, pictures. Think about some growth analysis, we cranked out 4.4 zettabytes of data in 2013. That is going to grow to a projected 40+ zettabytes by 2020.

Experts say 90 percent of the data in existence was produced in the past two years. This info must be stored somewhere – and data centers are not cheap. Cooling data centers are not cheap.

What do we do with all of this data? Enter Lattice, they take the data and using artificial intelligence they “label” it. So, all of this information that is compiled from everything in our internet of things world could be used in medicine, political campaigning, logistics, genetics even human trafficking.

MEMEX is a program which analyzes mountains of data on sex workers via, online ads, job postings, rates, geographic region, and they can take the data and identify trends which may lead them to a human trafficking ring. This is not just data on the traditional internet, this application also dives into the dark web.

The darknet, dark web or deep web are areas of the internet where search engines do not go and where you must have a specialized browser to get there (like Tor). Users are anonymous and not traceable by IP address on the normal web.

So, guess what happens? It’s like Kathy Griffin day every day on the dark web.

Drugs are for sale, weapons, pornography, hitmen, all those things. I wrote a piece about the online drug emporium, Silk Road last for INFLUENCE Magazine if you want to check it out.

Some say the dark web provides an anonymous place for corporate whistleblowing. I call BS on that one. You can write a letter to the NY Post and not sign it if you really must disclose some sinister corporate shenanigans.

Others say if you buy drugs online you take violent crime out of the drug business; pay with bitcoin, it comes to your home, no gun battles in Compton or elsewhere.

That argument is slightly more valid, but it’s still illegal, in Florida at least. For now. For the People.

Dark website to hire a hitman.

There you have it, darkness everywhere coming at you like the platoon of Storm Troopers on the forest moon of Endor. Thanks for reading.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: This Memorial Day had me looking for unity

I was looking at some pictures of my great uncle on Memorial Day (Captain Alex Hood Dowling), thinking about his sacrifice for our country, as well as those of so many others.

Our family watched the PBS Memorial Day special and heard some wonderful and heartbreaking stories of those that made the ultimate sacrifice. It really made me sad for our nation, as we seem to be more divided than normal.

Protestors on every side of the issue disgracing the flag, famous athletes disrespecting the national anthem; the list goes on and on.

We have the right to act like lunatics because of the commitment, and loyalty of so many.

Captain Dowling (far right) enjoying some high-powered refreshments with my grandfather and other friends. And, no, that is not Hitler doing a shot of whiskey (far left).

I believe 1 percent of our nation serves in the Armed Forces. This is the 1 percent that people need to be talking about, the 1 percent who represent us all.

We in Florida will select a new Governor next year. Who will be the right choice? Putnam? Graham? We heard a lot of talk from John Morgan during Session, but then nothing since he complained about weed bills.

I would encourage all candidates to run on a platform of unity. While we fight internally about nearly everything, parts of the world seek to eradicate our country (and our way of life) from the map.

We experienced ISIS in our state at the Pulse nightclub, and watch as North Korea escalates the situation in that part of the world with more missile tests. President Vladimir Putin, he watches and waits.

It’s looking like a big mess, and most of the news focuses on big messes — as big messes sell.

So, I thought I would highlight some greatness here and around the world so that we remember the power of unification, the power of putting our differences aside and pushing forward together.

In Gainesville, a police officer responded to a noise complaint in a local neighborhood last year. Instead of citing the young persons for any violation of the law, he played ball with them. A week later, he brought NBA legend Shaq to play ball with them. Thanks to the video going viral (17 million Facebook views) they formed a foundation to help children who need it, and open the dialogue with law enforcement and local communities.

We all know what happened in Manchester recently; Ariana Grande is returning for a benefit concert and bringing Coldplay, Katy Perry and crazy Miley Cyrus. They all want to help.

Consider the effort Heineken put toward its latest campaign. It was pretty bold for a beer company — but bold ideas for confronting our problems are what the world is all about. They place 2 people in a room with different viewpoints on a subject (they were not aware they have different viewpoints) and, over a beer, make them discuss the topic at hand.

Man, well played folks, bring people together, have a dialogue. Don’t Mace people in the face at a public event.

Pepsi tried to do the same thing; God bless them for trying, but the attempt imploded spectacularly — like the TV show “Saved by the Bell: The College Years.”

No offense to the original, but I wasted a solid year watching that show, as well as another in the genre called “California Dreams.” Amazingly watchable bad TV.

Perhaps, if we just focus on what unites us, versus what separates us, we can rise up as a society. These are some heavy ideas, but I figured I would do my part and deliver a positive message in hopes that we can remember our countrymen are not our enemy.

Over the past 10 years, I recall seeing pictures several times on social media of people shooting the bird at the White House while Barack Obama was in charge. Now, with Donald occupying the White House, I’ve seen the same.

While they certainly have the right, I wonder what those who died for our country would think about that.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Ransomware, the Mob catching up with the times

Attending a Florida Public Relations Association professional development session, seeing many of the state’s best PR pros in the room was thrilling.

Nanette Schimpf from Moore Communications Group; my man Rick Oppenheim (from RB Oppenheim Associates) and the main sponsor of the event, the rock-solid team at Sachs Media Group represented by Ryan Cohn and Jon Peck.

The event began with a breakfast that featured the most spectacular bacon, so I was ready for anything – bacon is power, bacon is motivation. (#BaconIsLife)

Speaking was Sandra Fathi, president of the public relations, social media and marketing firm Affect.

She is a Pro, who has been featured all over the news – CNN, Forbes, etc.

Fathi dove into a presentation on hacking, discussing the response should be from a PR perspective. Your client could be an elected official, airline, restaurant etc.

What happens when you are breached?

Fathi discussed the basics of cybercrime at first offering clear definitions of spear phishing, ransomware, DDOS attacks etc. and what they were.

She talked about the WannaCry ransomware from earlier in the month.

Then she lost me.

Fathi said something like, it is OK to pay the ransom from terrorists if infected.


In my opinion, you should never pay the ransom from these criminals. It only encourages them, encourages more people to get involved, (think organized crime in our state).

Hypothetically, the Genovese Crime Family launches a cyberattack using ransomware, they collect 50k in bitcoin and use the money to buy a couple of kilos of cocaine resale.

You get the picture; the domino effect of paying these types of things ravages our communities eventually.

The alternative is to invest in your technology. Dictate strict policies to your team in regard to password management, install antivirus/antispam products, set your firewall to geo-block rogue nations, you know who, the “Stans” (Pakistan or anything with “stan” in it), Russia, China etc.

And if all that fails, have a redundant backup protocol (on-premise and cloud), so that if you are infected, you can make a clean start with a wipe and reload of all things.

Sandra’s message was to individuals in the PR game, and her message about crisis management was on point. But make no mistake about it, paying criminals only encourages them.

Also, Fathi mentioned that criminals generally give you the means to get your data back, after you pay them.

After seeing several local examples where the ransom was paid – and they got nada.

These are criminals, after all. That’s kind of what they do.

Am I right?

The Mob caught up with the times, and it’s no longer like what Tony Soprano said in 2002 about surfing the net: “Log off. That ‘cookies’ s**t makes me nervous.” Classic.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day, and your week is crisis free.

But if one pops up, you can let me know. I’ll point you in the right direction.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Who knows what innovation will bring next?

Have you checked out the latest version of the digital personal assistant, Alexa, that is specially designed for Senior Citizens? It’s called Alexa Silver.

It’s super loud and you can only order it by check.

It also has an “uh huh” function that it says when you are telling rambling stories.

Fake news alert, it’s actually from an SNL skit. Awesome to see Lorne Michaels and his team still cranking out gold after all these years, watch it here. (Shoutout to Normie for sharing this with me.)

Speaking of new ideas and innovation, in business and politics, the past decade has been piled with new ways of doing things. How we campaign, work, lobby, organize, motivate, influence all has a digital twist to it.

So many devices; all working together seamlessly, most days.

I now have reached device overload with my tech: Desktop PC (multiple monitors), iPad, 2-in-1 tablet/laptop, and phone. Plus keyboard, speaker, and lots and lots of wires.

The functionality and mobility of all of this makes me extremely productive (on a good day) but, man, I could use some innovation in lowering my device count.

(from left, Denise Bilbow, Mrs. Dowling, some yahoo, and Leon County Commissioner Kristen Dozier)

Speaking of innovation, I had an opportunity this week to judge a regional SharkTank-like competition in North Florida. The competition is called the Innovation Park Tech Grant Program,

Applicants brought amazing ideas to the table regarding weather forecasting, video production, engine management and health care.

The local community really rallied around the event and the everyone got a chance to engage with the innovators before the actual judging began. This specific program has been around since 2005 and they have given out over $400,000 in grants to date benefiting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Leon County.

I first met the Leon County Research & Development Authority when I spoke to one of their events on artificial intelligence.

They read one of my columns on this badass, award-winning political website called, (perhaps you have heard of it?)

When they mentioned the competition and asked me to judge, I agreed as they said the magic words: “Free beer.”

In all seriousness, though, it was an honor to review these companies (check them out here).

I asked the Director of Programs and Communications about her thoughts on the event; she said: “The Innovation Park TechGrant Program is open to all Leon County residents and offers a change to help local startups and early stage companies transform their ideas and hard work into commercialized products.  Funding is one of the largest battles these companies face and we enjoy helping companies in our community move forward.”

Pretty cool.

Where would we be without the innovators of today and yesterday, no Lobby Tools, no iPad, no Alexa Silver, no cloud, no WatchESPN app on my phone?

The world has certainly changed since I kicked off my career in the rock ‘n’ roll business — back in the Dark Ages of the pre-smartphone world of 1998.

Who knows what this local and global community of innovators will bring us next.

I can’t wait to find out, and hopefully, I won’t need the Alexa Silver any time soon.

Enjoy the weekend.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: WannaCry? No.

Ransomware has become the fastest growing cyber threat; last week it was a variation called Fatboy, this week is WannaCry. The criminals are targeting everyone from home users to health care systems to big business. Data show that there has been an average of more than 4,000 ransomware attacks every day of this year. That is some serious volume.

I know of a dozen entities that have been hit, some hit hard, like 1997 John Lynch chasing you down.

On May 12, information technology professionals began tracking a new ransomware variant that spread rapidly throughout the weekend. It is a highly virulent strain of a self-replicating ransomware that has affected organizations like the Russian Interior Ministry, Chinese Universities, Hungarian and Spanish Telcos, as well hospitals and clinics run by the British National Health Services.

It is especially notable for its multi-language ransom demands that support every major language on the planet. These criminals need to be hunted down now.

Patients’ lives were put on the line in Britain. Surgeries and procedures were delayed. I have not heard of any fatalities, but the hammer of justice needs to find these cyber-weasels STAT.

On to the techy details, this ransomware is being called several names: WannaCry, WanaCrypt0r, WannaCrypt or Wana Decrypt0r. It is spread through an alleged National Security Agency exploit (I said “alleged” NSA, don’t come looking for me) called ETERNALBLUE that was exposed online in March by the hacking syndicate Shadow Brokers.

ETERNALBLUE exploits a vulnerability in the Microsoft Server Message Block 1.0 (SMBv1) protocol.

Bottom line: make sure someone manages your technology.

Make sure someone has been reviewing, confirming, patching, and applying any current updates that may put added security to your firewall, operating systems (if you are still running Windows XP, you fail), anti-virus and anti-spam solutions.

It is most important that now and going forward that you and your users do not click on emails that hold the following threats; (some may get through these layers of security).

Emails from HR Professionals claiming to include resumes, financial institutions, and shipping companies are some of the most common.

Be extremely wary of any Microsoft Office email attachment that recommends you enable macros to view its content. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is a genuine email from a trusted source, do not enable macros. Instead, delete the email at once.

This latest attack stayed on the other side of the pond – for now – but thanks to technology, our world is inner-connected like never before.

We will see something new and more devious before you can say “Putnam for Governor.”


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: A new (politically incorrect) cyberthreat, linked to Big Macs

For better or worse, we live in a politically correct world. On one hand, efforts in that area have created increased awareness of sexism and other social injustices.

On the other, some PC speak is patently ridiculous.

I read somewhere that is politically incorrect to the word “fat.” I’m told we should say EWI — Enhanced Weight Individual (or stout, overweight, etc.).

So, you cannot say “fat-free?” If that’s the case, there’d be a lot of rebranding in the packaged food industry.

Where do we draw the line? Don’t get me wrong, society is obsessed with size. There are issues, indeed. But is this really the solution?

Isn’t the real issue being kind (or, more accurately, a lack of kindness)?

Are these PC people those who changed the name of the world’s largest cocktail party to something silly?

Where does the PC Council of What-You-And-I-Should-Say-Or-Not-Say hold their meetings, anyway? Is it in a clandestine annual retreat (like the Skull and Bones society?) If so, I would bet there are some non-fierce debates, since they really don’t do name-calling. Think British cops, who are not allowed to carry guns: “Stop, or I’ll say stop again!”

Rant concluded.

Well, guess who couldn’t care less about soft-bellied American PC nonsense?

Vodka-guzzling Russian hackers, that’s who. The latest cyberthreat has the (decidedly non-PC) name “Fatboy.”

Are they making fun of non-motherland swine who might be a little “big boned?” Nope.

It’s actually ransomware that charges different amounts, in different locations, depending on the Economist’s Big Mac Index.

At this point, you may be intrigued … or think I am blatantly creating fake news. No, It’s a real thing.

The Big Mac Index is now 30 years old, and shows how poor or wealthy a nation is based on the price of a Big Mac.

In 2017, you are looking at $5.06 for a Big Mac in Florida, and about $2.83 in China.

So, there you have it. Hackers of the world continue to innovate and surprise.

So, while they might charge $500 in the U.S., the charge would be closer to $250 in China?

That makes sense, right?

First, it was a Ugandan Prince with $10,000,000 U.S. just for you. Next were fake emails from UPS, followed by ransomware that gives you encryption keys if you infected two friends.

Then comes RAAS (ransomware as a service sold on the dark web), allowing anyone with basic computer skills to become a hacker. Now there’s Fatboy.

I can definitely see the PC crowd getting upset — not only do they say “fat,” but it’s gender specific.

Look out Russkies, the American Civil Liberties Union is gonna get ‘ya.

To them, it should be called “Fat-person” or “Fat-one” (referring to one who is fat; no medical marijuana jokes, please).

So, you get infected from an email, your IP address is confirmed and the price of the Big Mac is reviewed and you receive a notice of how much you have to pay to get the encryption keys to get your data back. And they usually ask for the money in iTunes gift cards or bitcoins.

As an information technology professional, I always give the same advice to anyone infected with ransomware — never pay cybercriminals. Payment only encourages them.

As a fan of good manners, I don’t call people fat, either, and always avoid being tacky. We have plenty of that in the world.

Be safe out there, and lay off the Big Macs, unless you wish to be classified EWI, that is.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Looking back …

Legislative Session is winding down – gaming, dope, infrastructure, assistive tech.

It has been an exciting journey, with losers and winners, fights, name calling at the Capitol and at the Governors Club.

Hopefully, when the dust settles, those in the trenches can regain some commonality and remember we are all on the same team as both Floridians and Americans (minus the UF-FSU rivalry, we will never be on the same team there).

Besides that, it’s time for summer. Time to move efforts to other things.

I work with a lot of associations and lobbyists, all running in high gear as of late.

Last night, a few website issues were needing immediate attention; that’s done.

Today, a conference room telecom gear is on the fritz (on the list for today); can’t send emails with a 1 TB attachment (no you can’t do that); my wireless network has 300 guests (yep, that’s bad); my laptop is in the pool (waterproof, no; backed up, yes).

It’s an endless list, but a pleasure to serve. Beats working for Corrine Brown.

From where I sit, I can see several interesting things on how the business of the day at the Capitol (and beyond) is carried out.

How did people get anything done in May 1845, during the first meeting of the Florida Legislative body?

I bet it was hot; lots of sweaty people with no AC. But it was also awesome.

We rely on technology so much, for better or for worse. Take it away, what do you have? Face to face interaction.

We as citizens of 2017 are faced with this every day, with friends, constituents and families. How many times this week have you said, I shot them a text or email? In the old days, it was face to face, think even pre-phone.

Few things are more powerful than the written word. I still send handwritten thank yous.

When I was 10, my dad gave me my first cardstock from Brooks Brothers. I was told to always say thanks to people when they do something for you. Message heard. I still do it, Pops.

(There is a great scene in the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou about cardstock. If you missed it, it’s a must-watch.)

As we roll out of Session mode with families and colleagues, let’s put the phones down. Have lunch, a cocktail, no devices at the family dinner table. Am I right?

Let’s make Happy Hour great again, with some face-to-face time.

When we are old and gray, we will not remember texts and emails (unless you were a hacked DNC employee last year), but we will remember the time spent face-to-face with those in our personal and professional lives.

Let’s flash back to 1930 Florida.

Downtown Tallahassee 1930 – College Ave.

Florida was a mess. Unemployment was on the rise, tourism was plummeting (they needed a Pitbull concert, maybe).

Annual visits were down from 3 million a year to 1 million a year. Florida had its own economic collapse in 1926; another one in 1929 was merely par for the course.

War was looming, after supporting Hoover in 28’ Florida switched sides in 32’ and supported Roosevelt. The conservatives were nervous about his reform plans but needed change.

Meanwhile, in Ozark, Alabama, my family is hanging out in front of the house JD Holman (my grandfather) on the far right (just as he was with his politics) 1930. He referred to himself as a radical right winger. RIP JD.

Tourists weren’t coming; banks were closing.

Funny how with technology everything has changed. But the words don’t change.

Right, left, change, reform, etc

In 1930, they sweated it out, wrote letters, had runners, did not email 1TB worth of videos, they met face to face and talked the New Deal, the Depression, the Bankhead-Hone Farm Tenant Act. They talked a lot about aviation. At the time, Florida was the place for training: Drew and McDill bases in Tampa, Dale Mabry in Tallahassee (someone found WWII era undetonated ordinance from this station just last year), Eglin, Mayport in Jax.

Even the RAF moved into Arcadia at UM for training.

We could talk all day about then versus now, but on with the business at hand.

Put down those phones, give thanks to those who fought the good fight this legislative session, and thanks to those sweaty legislators who got us through the really rough times of World War II and the Depression – all without cell phones.

Here’s to all of those in public service, and all of those involved in The Process.

It’s great to be an American.

“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…, the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at .


Blake Dowling: Maybe we are getting a handle on hacking. Maybe.

A fella named Pyotr Levashov was arrested in Spain this month. Allegedly, the man’s real name is Peter Severa, one of the most wanted cyber criminals on the planet.

At least six Russians have been arrested around the world on international warrants over the past several months, according to McClatchy Newspapers. There are allegations of involvement with the recent U.S. election, worldwide botnet schemes, ransomware and lots of fun stuff.

As Americans, we get it, the Russian hacking community is after our elections, money, infrastructure, trade and military secrets and even Hollywood films.

Maybe, we are getting a handle on the situation. Maybe.

Extradition from Russia is the equivalent of jumping a 4-wheeler over a 2-acre lake. Not happening.

As stated earlier, most of these folks have been caught elsewhere; if they stay home in the motherland, it’s vodka and hacking for days without fear of incarceration.

Most of these recent arrests have occurred outside of Russia. So, a few Russki baddies are out of the way. Who else do we need to look out for?

Have you heard of Pawn Storm?

It is a group of Hackers/Hacktivists who are gaining quite a bit of momentum. They took their name from a type of chess strategy in which several pawns are moved quickly to the opponent’s defenses. They are targeting elections (among other things) all over the world.

They are looking to disrupt the upcoming battle in France, Marine Le Pen versus Emmanuel Macron. If I was going to make a wager on PredictIT, keep in mind Le Pen is mightier than the sword.

That’s right, I am now Mayor of Pun Town (thanks, Keith).

What’s different about these folks? They crave the limelight. They want to be written about, and who are they after? They attack celebs, TV stations, government, politicians, lobbyists, journalists, anyone with influence and they impersonate you as well as rob you. Imagine they hack the Miami Herald and email blast Dade County: “Frank Artiles returns.”

Or “Artiles hires Playboy calendar model.”

Oops. That was real. Never mind.

Back to … Fake news? Oh yeah, supreme fake news, with a side of extra bogus sauce — the sole purpose is disruption.

Ever heard of Tabnabbing?

This is a form of cybercrime they use to change a URL (website) to that of a phishing site, that doesn’t look like one. A message pops up to re-enter your credentials as the site has timed out. When you do, your toast. These folks are patient too, they may sit on someone’s info for a year and then go to work. Who has fallen victim to these folks? French TV, The U.S. Army, The DNC, the World Doping Agency.

So, what now?

Russian Dmitry Ukrainskiy, 44 and Olga Komova, 25, from Uzbekistan, after they were charged in Bangkok with involvement in a transnational hacking gang.

Step 1. Awareness. You need to know these types of nuts are out there.

Step 2. Prepare. It has repeatedly been said, but here goes. Keep your passwords complex. It’s the front line, keep them unique. For example, Peter Severa (mentioned earlier) was caught by using the same passwords for his criminal empire that he used for his iTunes account. Details here.

Fakes news, hacking, hacktivists, tabnabbing, credential phishing. You name it, man, it’s all happening all over the world, our country and our state.

If an email looks suspicious, it is. Delete. Report to the Florida Cyber Crimes Office.

If someone calls looking for info and these days they also want to impersonate you digitally, post fake posts and tweets, even TV footage (back to France). Don’t give people info over the phone, and, more importantly, train your staff.

It seems like there is a new threat or group that threatens us online every day.

Eric Schmidt of Google said, “the internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity does not understand, it’s the largest experiment in anarchy that we’ve ever had.”


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at


Blake Dowling: Look out for hackers (and the government)

U.S. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) with gavel and dog.

What now? More breaches. More leaks. Internet carriers selling your data? Hackers coming at us like United Airlines security?

(For an interesting read, see Nader v. Airlines 1972)

So you are worried about hackers, and — of course — the National Security Agency is watching (and logging) you surf on or Or are you stressing because you might be in the World-Check database (bet on it — just by being an elected official, because it may consider you bribable, and, yes, this site was also breached/leaked recently).

Yes. All of that, and much, much more.

The Internet of Things and the Cyber Renaissance (or apocalypse, depending on your point of view) that we are experiencing in 2017 truly has us going where no one has gone before.

This past weekend, I used a vending machine that would not take cash. ACK! Since I only had cash, no Mountain Dew for me.

Is it too much tech? Too much internetting? Too much exposure?

Last week, one of our elected officials had something to say about the internet. U.S. House Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, had some truly amazing advice for his constituents: you don’t have to use the internet if you don’t like it (according to Hmmm.

In today’s world, that’s about the same as saying if you don’t like the air don’t breathe it, same with roads and driving.

Hopefully, Jimbo was just hitting the Hendricks a little hard the night before and was having a fuzzy day. If not we have problems. As the powers that be in D.C. look to an era of deregulation, we are going to potentially see internet providers that have very little oversight. With customer service rankings right there with our pals at United Airlines.

We have a lot to watch out for.

The new law Jimbo was defending involved the ability for national internet carriers to sell customer info/history.

Advocates for digital privacy are outraged, as they should; this is the real deal. I don’t want my info sold to anyone, and if ol’ Jimbo is my advocate, it’s not looking good. Don’t we get harassed enough? Say I visit Solider of Fortune Magazine online a couple of times, and I mysteriously get emails wanting to sell me night vision goggles.

I mean I love some good NV hardware but get outta my business.

As consumers, we are constantly stalked digitally. Jimbo and the gang need to get their heads out of their … err … sand and look out for Mr. and Mrs. Citizen.

The big 5 (Comcast, Charter (now Spectrum), Verizon, CenturyLink, and AT&T) have control over approx. 80 percent of the market; most Americans have only 1 or 2 providers to choose.

Some parting words from Dunder Mifflin’s Corporate office, that is practical advice for all things: tech, driving, politics, social media, business, talking, lawn care, etc. … while staying off the internet for a 73-year-old congressman with aides and assistants galore may be practical; it ain’t so good for you and me, peeps.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and can be reached at

Blake Dowling: Legislative Session 2017 – I’m just a bill

@Last weekend, I was on the road in Gainesville for some spring football.

As I sat in my mobile command station (aka the Wyndham) the following day — watching an epic Masters, NBA and college baseball weekend — I couldn’t get the old PSA from Saturday Morning Cartoons out of my head, and I started writing …

“I’m just a bill on Capitol Hill waiting to become law, but today I am still just a bill.”

Man, they do not make them like that anymore; 1976 was a hell of a year: KC & the Sunshine Band ruled the charts and TV had class – before reality TV, before the INTERNET.

Speaking of bills, I had the chance to write on innovative technology earlier this year, AI-powered personal delivery devices made by Starship Technologies.

Last week, I received a call from its lobbying team; they were actually at the Capital showcasing the machine. The performance was a success, as Mitch Perry reported April 6; House Bill 601 passed 115-0.

I enjoyed the experience of doing some investigative reporting and quicker than you can say, ‘Nole Day Bathroom Shenanigans at the Capitol, it’s law.

This new tech will change the game with delivery services, although I don’t know if they are ready for North Florida. I can see some Wakulla County residents making up a game where you shoot the PDD’s with shotguns. Am I wrong?

As rewarding was that was, tracking Senate Bill 772 on assistive technologies was game changing.

James Harding, an Instructional Specialist at Florida State University’s College of Business, shared some testimonial with me about the bill. I was genuinely moved.

I immediately wrote something about the issue, as kids that need assistive tech to communicate were only allowed to use the tech in school and not at home. As the one young lady testified, “do you only get to talk from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. sir?” Powerful. I won’t know if I swayed anyone, but I will know in my heart that I tried to bring some awareness to this remarkable piece of legislation.

Rep. Loranne Ausley, who sponsored the bill, sent a tweet about it after reading my column. Harding from FSU and I ended up in a meeting about it. I was introduced to Michael Daniels from FAAST.

Awareness of the issue, having a conversation about it and taking action. That’s what it’s all about.

Dr. Harding with Gov. of Florida Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott.

Harding and I talked about doing a presentation for the Chamber on assistive tech, working on an update about SB 772 (you’re reading it).

Here is what Daniels had to say about where the bill stands: “I couldn’t be more pleased with the enthusiastic reception this bill has received.  It is incredibly cool seeing the attention Michael Phillips and Jennifer Perry Breen have received with their personal stories.  I know from the OMG looks on the legislators faces this is the first time they have seen a person testify with a speech generating device.  Goes back to the first lesson I learned from my mentor, Jean Issacs, technology levels the playing field for people with disabilities in ways we still can’t imagine.”

Harding added: “Without technology, success in school or in the workplace would not be possible. It is all about independence.”

Thank you to everyone who has supported SB 772 and the people counting on it.


Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at



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