Sadly it seems El Salvador’s gang truce has collapsed and sent the countries homicide rate soaring.
Bizarrely there was a death at Disney World in a car racing accident.
In Kenya 3 men who were convicted of a brutal gang-rape of a 16 y.o. girl were initially handed sentences to cut grass but after protests and international outrage the men have seen their sentences raised to 15 years in prison.
China’s figures show economy slowing down, with a growth rate somewhere between 6.9% to 7.3%. This is still a great and high growth rate compared the US’s 2.4% for 2014 but it is definitely on the low end for China given its recent amazing economic growth coming into the 90s and 2000s.
Great post by Charlie Stross on The Great Filter and the Fermi Paradox. Never heard of either? This article has all the ground work and background material you will need. As to why would some one worry about these potential future existential threats? Because it’s an exercise in planning and stretches back to now and how we (as a people) plan what we do now to not fall into these traps that are hinted at.
Following in the vein, scientists have declared that Ocean acidification from CO2 (from 252 million y.a. volcano eruptions) was the cause of the worst mass extinction the world has ever seen. Which is pretty concerning because we seem to be acidifying the ocean at a similar pace with our CO2 output: “The Last Time Oceans Got This Acidic This Fast, 96% of Marine Life Went Extinct“. [abstract Ocean acidification and the Permo-Triassic mass extinction]
Another component of the Great Filter might be that we really only get one chance. In his article Out of the Ashes Lewis Dartnell asks
It took a lot of fossil fuels to forge our industrial world. Now they’re almost gone. Could we do it again without them?
Facebook chats are being handed off to a 3rd party company and being scanned and analysed, oh, and it also seems this company is a front for the CIA, as it’s funded by them. [HN follow up discussion]. The DEA is running disinformation campaign’s to hide their surveillance techniques and capabilities.
In a game of cat and mouse Twitter moves all their Non-US accounts to Ireland both in storage and ownership (SanFran based Twitter Inc and Twitter International Company in Dublin, Ireland). However Microsoft is sounding the alarm that the US government is ‘rewriting’ the law to obtain emails overseas.
Meanwhile a study in Canada showed that Police asked telcos for client data in over 80% of criminal probes. Now to start with, naturally they got it all, but what’s more concerning, this is just for investigations, when in theory the target is still presumed innocent. From the article:
“When a tool is unregulated in this way, it becomes a matter of standard practice, no assessment is made as to the invasiveness of the tool, whether it’s justified in a particular context or not. It’s easy to do. It’s low cost, so you just do it.”
“A lot of those are going to be innocent people,” said Israel. “A lot of privacy gets violated to find the one person who is the actual criminal.”
For what it’s worth, apparently Rogers has stopped providing some data without a warrant and found that with that small safety mechanism in place, requests dropped in 2014.
Finally, a lawyer finds malware on a hardrive supplied by the police in discovery in a rather aggressive move by that police department.
How can we not lead but with more discussion on China’s new Great Cannon which they weapons tested recently against github. It is a horribly ingenious weapon turning the Great Firewall inside out. Now that analysis is mostly done [more] we can discuss how it works: basically any traffic in China and any traffic from the world going into China pass through the Great Firewall. All they did was target foreign traffic and for 1% of it going to one specific site, modify the site response a bit injecting a little malicious payload that just asks the target (github) for some content. At Internet scale this >1% weapons test caused massive havoc for github, possibly the largest source code storage and sharing site on the internet.
This who story is fascinating because of the how, but also the “what next”. The US may have a harder time coming up with a response to turning a piece of widespread censorship tech into a tool to weaponize the internet itself. But you will certainly see this adding more urgency to forces who want to roll out censorship tech elsewhere in the world so that they can they also utilize it in this new way.
Sadness for the rest of us though.
Ramez Naam wrote a think piece about how much land it would take to power the entire US via Solar.
An article Keeping Your Car Safe From Electronic Thieves seems to have a theory on the wave of high tech keyless car stealing going around. The gangs which rang from kids to more organized adult gangs, all seem to be using what appears to be cheap ($30-$100) black boxes of some tech to gain access to the cars. The theory is they are “power amplifiers”:
In a normal scenario, when you walk up to a car with a keyless entry and try the door handle, the car wirelessly calls out for your key so you don’t have to press any buttons to get inside. If the key calls back, the door unlocks. But the keyless system is capable of searching for a key only within a couple of feet.
Mr. Danev said that when the teenage girl turned on her device, it amplified the distance that the car can search, which then allowed my car to talk to my key, which happened to be sitting about 50 feet away, on the kitchen counter. And just like that, open sesame.
In a beautiful and strange case of worlds colliding a video is going around of a Chimpanzee in a Zoo taking down a camera drone from the drone’s POV.
Microsoft have started working on an LLVM based compiler for .Net. The last year has really seen a lot of surprising (historically speaking) announcements from MS, especially around .Net. This is another welcome piece of it. Hopefully some interesting results.
If you run a Windows web server however, patch it now, a new remote kernel code exploit has been found in http.sys which already has server crashing examples floating around, and server rooting ones surely exist. It again raises the debate about what should and should not be a Kernel component. Someone raised to me the hypothesis http.sys was rolled into the Windows kernel as a response to Tux, a not in mainline kernel module that is a static http server.
Multiple sources are reporting that Cyangoenmod, who make a free Android version you can flash onto most popular phone is partnering with Microsoft to bundle their software instead of some of Google’s (like Bing).
Personal and Productivity
This pleasant piece encouraging reading and purportedly showing a snippet of Elon Musk’s reading list entitled The Transformative Effects of Reading.
I stumbled upon Waytools’ Textblade which looks like an amazing portable keyboard for Cells and Tablets and the only reason I haven’t already ordered one is the slight tingle I’m getting in my hoax sense. No one has yet received one and the delivery date has been pushed back several times so I’ll just wait until some people have received them (or not…).
Finally, on a more personal note: I’m still playing with this writing/filtering component I’m trying to add to my news consumption. I do think it’s good and helpful for many reasons, just writing more is good for all of us, it helps with focus, and w.r.t. to my news reading it focuses that and helps with recall. As for the method and format, as from today’s massive weekly summary you can see I’m trying a new approach
Previously I was trying to write short summaries as I read but this had a few limiting and poor factors in which I never could get much done, and it meant I was practically confining my consumption only to periods where I had more time and one device (my laptop). I’m trying now to separate them and use a few tools to save articles, links and thoughts and then at a separate time write them all up. The results for this week was bit huge and time consuming as any new thing is (a bit over 2 hours) but I’ll probably get more into the groove of it and maybe split it into twice a week, or find another approach to try.