28Jun2015

World News

Asia

Schools reopen in South Korea amid more MERS cases – Al Jazeera English

Five new infections of MERS were announced on Monday, increasing the total number to 150, the health ministry said. The office also reported another death because of the disease, taking the total to 16….
Only 440 schools remain shut, far less than the 3,000 schools that were closed,

Europe

Water cannon used to disperse Istanbul gay pride parade – Al Jazeera English

Uneven progress around the world this week.

Controversial GCHQ Unit Engaged In Domestic Law Enforcement, Online Propaganda – Slashdot

the unit had engaged in ‘dirty tricks’ like deploying sexual ‘honey traps’ designed to discredit targets, launching denial-of-service attacks to shut down internet chat rooms, pushing veiled propaganda onto social networks, and generally warping discourse online.

Maybe that troll you can’t quite believe holds that opinion is a government troll…

Russia extends tit-for-tat sanctions against West – Al Jazeera English

Great, more economic isolation. Usually a short term stick and long term, leads to economic self reliance. Can hurt, but not as much as I think we think it should.

France Could Offer Asylum To Assange, Snowden – Slashdot

in the aftermath of the NSA’s sweeping surveillance of three French presidents, French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira thinks National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange might be allowed to settle in France.

More fallout from the aggressive NSA spying. Also more fraying of allies.

French President Hollande says Obama promises to stop U.S. spying tactics called unacceptable – World – CBC News

In response to leaked documents that the US has spied on the last 3 French presidents

Africa

Tunisia launches security crackdown after hotel attack – Al Jazeera English

Eighty mosques ordered shut for “inciting violence” after man disguised as tourist kills 38 in coastal town of Sousse.

Ebola setback for Sierra Leone as new cases recorded – Al Jazeera English

Middle East

The Kurds’ quest for a homeland – Al Jazeera English

Kurds are the most effective group standing up to ISIL.

North America

US

The US Navy’s Warfare Systems Command Just Paid Millions To Stay On Windows XP – Slashdot

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy’s communications and information networks, signed a $9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.

“Security patches”… for known vulnerabilities, but with an OS that old there are probably a lot of unpublished 0days out there, I’m sure other parts of the US gov might be aware of and not sharing and a lot of other 3rd parties are also likely aware of.
This unit runs the Navy’s communication. I can easily envision the reverse of WWII where next war, the “enemy” is reading all of the US Navy’s communication via exploiting many holes in their security. Sad potential role reversal.

Science

Space

Elon Musk, First Martian? A Serious Conversation About the Future in Space – Bloomberg Business

Andy Weir author of The Martian talks about getting humans to Mars and SpaceX/Elon Musk’s plans and their feasibility.

I would put my money on a government. My guess is that the first manned mission to Mars will be a large international effort and it would look organizationally a lot like the ISS…
If it were up to me, I think NASA should be concentrating entirely on building space stations and long-distance habitats. They’re good at that. They know how to do it. They’re pretty much the only people who can do it…
It’s a little bit different than the European colonization of North America model because one of the main things that drew colonists here was exploiting resources to ship back to Europe. So unless there’s something on Mars that would provide wealth, then you’re just looking for a much smaller population base of people who just want to be frontiersmen…
No, I think it’ll be an astronaut. My estimate is that this will happen in 2050. NASA is saying more like 2035, but I don’t have faith in Congress to fund them.

A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension – Slashdot

About 2:19 into its flight, Falcon 9 exploded along stage 2 and the Dragon capsule, before even the stage 1 separation. Telemetry and videos are inconclusive, without further analysis as to what went wrong. Everything was green lights. This is a catastrophe for SpaceX, which enjoyed, until now, a perfect launch record.

A reminder that Space is hard. As has been commented, that everything “appeared” good until the catastrophic failure is informative and points to an unexpected bug or problem, which is good we discover before manned SpaceX flights.

DARPA Is Already Working On Designer Organisms To Terraform Mars – Slashdot

Privacy

New Snowden Leaks Show NSA Attacked Anti-Virus Software – Slashdot

Technology

The Way Humans Get Electricity Is About to Change Forever – Bloomberg Business

– Solar Prices Keep Crashing
– The Revolution Will Be Decentralized
– The Climate Is Still Screwed

Russell Davies: Software Above the Level of a Single Man

They pointed out all the various ways that new Internet of Things / home technology products fail to take account of the fact that most homes are occupied by messy things like families, guests, friends and flatmates and are less frequently occupied by Single (white, straight, young, able etc) Men with high disposable income and lots of bandwidth…
and I’m fully aware that making them work for more than one individual is pretty hard

SSD Prices In A Free Fall – Network Computing

By packing 32 or 64 times the capacity per die, 3D NAND will allow SSDs to increase capacity well beyond hard drive sizes. SanDisk, for example, plans 8 TB drives this year, and 16 TB drives in 2016. At the same time, vendors across the flash industry are able to back off two process node levels and obtain excellent die yields.
The result of the density increase is clear: This year, SSDs will nearly catch up to HDD in capacity. Meanwhile, hard drives appear to be stuck at 10 TB capacity, and the technology to move beyond that size is going to be expensive once it’s perfected. HDD capacity curves already were flattening, and the next steps are likely to take some time.
This all means that SSDs will surpass HDDs in capacity in 2016.

New Manufacturing Technique Halves Cost of Lithium-Ion Batteries – Slashdot

The Next Java Update Could Make Yahoo Your Default Search Provider – Slashdot

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced a partnership with Oracle that could result in Yahoo becoming your default search provider in your browser. Starting this month, when users are prompted to update to the next version of Java, they’ll be asked to make Yahoo their default search engine

Gross

New conductive ink for electronic apparel

This new functional ink will enable electronic apparel such as sportswear and underwear incorporating sensing devices for measuring a range of biological indicators such as heart rate and muscle contraction.

Security

Samsung deliberately disabling Windows Update

Super terrifying news for Samsung boxes. Seems like it might have been they shipped customized drivers for their hardware and didn’t want stock updated drivers because it might break them. So instead they turned of WU and left everyone super vulnerable. Big mark against buying Samsung.

Car Hacking is ‘Distressingly Easy’ – Slashdot

Taking control remotely of modern cars, for instance, has become distressingly easy for hackers, given the proliferation of wireless-connected processors now used to run everything from keyless entry and engine ignition to brakes, steering, tyre pressure, throttle setting, transmission and anti-collision systems.

Security Researcher Drops 15 Vulnerabilities for Windows and Adobe Reader – Slashdot

Medical

High-Fat, High-Sugar Diet Can Lead To Cognitive Decline – Slashdot

They found that diets with high amounts of either led to a decline in cognitive function… of mice


21Jun2015

A lighter week.

 

World News

Asia

Schools reopen in South Korea amid more MERS cases – Al Jazeera English

Five new infections of MERS were announced on Monday, increasing the total number to 150, the health ministry said. The office also reported another death because of the disease, taking the total to 16….
Only 440 schools remain shut, far less than the 3,000 schools that were closed,

Journalist Burned Alive In India For Facebook Post Exposing Corruption – Slashdot

Though he posted under a pseudonym, he was quickly found and burned alive by police, allegedly on the order of the minister accused.

Thailand confirms first case of deadly MERS virus – Al Jazeera English

It spreads

Europe

Eurozone, U.K. quietly prepare for Grexit amid war of words over bailout – Business – CBC News

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday called demands by the lenders to slash pensions “incomprehensible” after fresh failures in the bailout talks. Meanwhile, EU leaders toughened their talk, telling Greece to be more realistic.

North America

Cuba’s Answer To the Internet Fits In Your Pocket and Moves By Bus – Slashdot

. The so-called “weekly package,” which is normally distributed from house to house contains the latest foreign films a week, shows, TV series, documentaries, games, information, music, and more…
Sunday the “weekly package” of 1 terabyte is priced at $ 10, then $2 on Monday or Tuesday and $1 for the rest of the week.

Science

Study: Sixth Extinction Event Is Underway – Slashdot

So this is popping up everywhere, scientist are saying that the rate of extinctions we are currently seeing is only paralleled by previous extinction level events meaning we can now define this current period as the 6th extinction event the planet has faced.

That seems very bad for us, at the top of many food and environmental chains

Space

European comet probe wakes up from hibernation – Al Jazeera English

There had been hopes as the comet neared the Sun that Philae’s solar panels would recharge its batteries. Now it appears the craft has done just that, communicating for 85 seconds with controllers…
Many of the craft’s 10 instruments were able to run their tests and transmit the results before its battery ran out.
It now looks likely that these tests may be able to be resumed, with indications that the craft may have been awake for some time before resuming contact.
“We have also received historical data – until now, however, the lander had not been able to contact us,” the Philae Project team said in an email.
“Now, the scientists are waiting for the next contact. In Philae’s mass memory, there are still more than 8,000 data packets, which will give the team information on what happened to Philae in the past few days.”

‘Warm Neptune’ Exoplanets May Have Lots of Helium – Slashdot

“warm Neptunes” — bodies about the size of Neptune, but which orbit their parent star more closely than Mercury orbits the Sun…
When astronomers looked at spectra for these planets, they found something surprising: no methane signature …
the result is that the atmosphere may be largely made up of helium instead

I’ll just file that away for a hundred or few years under He3 mines

Privacy

LastPass Reporting a Security Breach, Including Authentication Hashes and Salts – Slashdot

That’s the problem with cloud password stores: they could be above average on security but they are just such a ridiculously high value target they will attract a lot of focus, and you’re passwords get caught up in that. Better to keep them decentralized.

British Government Instituted 3-Month Deletion Policy, Apparently To Evade FOIA – Slashdot

In late 2004, weeks before Tony Blair’s Freedom of Information (FOI) act first came into force, Downing Street adopted a policy of automatically deleting emails more than three months old. The IT decision has resulted in a “dysfunctional” system according to former cabinet officials

So they delete everything rapidly defeating the spirit of the law and it’s ok (aside from brain damaging). But if people do it they may be liable for jail time for impeding an investigation. Look again how unevenly the law is applied.

Glen Greenwald: Don’t Trust Anonymous Anti-Snowden Claims – Slashdot

Glen Greenwald casts a scathing look at the claims (such as by the Sunday Times) that Edward Snowden’s leaked information had been cracked by Russian and Chinese spy agencies. Greenwald compares Snowden to some other public figures against whom underhanded tactics were employed by the U.S. government…
There’s an anonymously made claim that Russia and China “cracked the top-secret cache of files” from Snowden’s, but there is literally zero evidence for that claim.

Technology

Will Suncor’s driverless trucks put Alberta truck drivers out of work? – Home | Day 6 | CBC Radio

Suncor Energy Inc. confirmed that it has entered a 5-year agreement with a Japanese manufacturer of autonomous vehicles. The company has already agreed to buy 175 driverless trucks, and a spokesperson says it plans to replace its entire fleet by the end of the decade

And the vaunted Canadian oil fields are now making that many less people wealthy. Concentrating the wealth in less hands. The answer to me appears to be lots of tax and basic income.

Artificial brain turns clouds into psychedelic pig-snails – tech – 19 June 2015 – New Scientist

The software is an artificial neural network developed by Google, called the Inception module. Just as the brain detects patterns to classify images and make sense of speech, so neural networks can simulate this ability to identify features in an image.

Turns out some pretty surreal “art” tho

Finance & Markets

McDonald’s set to have fewer locations next year for first time ever – Business – CBC News

For the first time in more than 40 years, and perhaps ever, McDonald’s says its number of restaurants in the U.S. is shrinking.

Fed chair Yellen tells Canadian homeowners to watch out: Don Pittis – Business – CBC News

Your mortgage rates are going up, and U.S. Fed chair is pretty specific on how much…
the consensus seems to be that a rate rise is coming later this year — the first one probably in September…


14June2015

World News

Asia

South Korea will track cellphones of those under MERS quarantine – World – CBC News

World Health Organization to help Korean response as 6th person dies

S Korea shuts nearly 2,000 schools as MERS cases soar – Al Jazeera English

With 87 cases confirmed, South Korea now has the largest number of infected after Saudi Arabia.

S Korea MERS outbreak ‘large and complex’ – Al Jazeera English

WHO says more cases should be anticipated as South Korea confirms 14th death from deadly virus…
the MERS outbreak which has infected 138 people

WHO sees no need for MERS travel curbs – Al Jazeera English

Sweeping restrictions including airport screenings not among steps recommended as virus claims 11th victim in S Korea.

Europe

IMF quits Greece talks and says no progress made – Al Jazeera English

North America

US

Texas police officer quits after video shows him pushing teen, pointing gun – World – CBC News

There’s a bunch of video and it’s all pretty insane. Treating children in bathing suits like the enemy. I cannot fathom a reason pulling a gun in this situation, a pool party, would ever be justified.

2nd data breach exposed personal details of U.S. military and intelligence staff – World – CBC News

The forms authorities believed to have been accessed, known as Standard Form 86, require applicants to fill out deeply personal information about mental illnesses, drug and alcohol use, past arrests and bankruptcies. They also require the listing of contacts and relatives, potentially exposing any foreign relatives of U.S. intelligence employees to coercion. Both the applicant’s Social Security number and that of his or her cohabitant is required…
“This tells the Chinese the identities of almost everybody who has got a United States security clearance,”..
“That makes it very hard for any of those people to function as an intelligence officer. The database also tells the Chinese an enormous amount of information about almost everyone with a security clearance. That’s a gold mine. It helps you approach and recruit spies.”

TSA Fails To Find Links To Terrorism of Airport Workers – Slashdot

An audit of the TSA has found that the agency failed to uncover the terrorist connections of 73 aviation workers when it did background checks of them

More super damning evidence that the TSA is a spectacular failure and massive waste of money. Hopefully this plus the 97% failure rate on detecting weapons will start to get the ball rolling for their abolition.

Science

Space

Japan announces plans to send probe to Martian moon

Space race heating up further as Japan announces what would be the first Asian Mars lander, with a twist, to one of the Moons, which no one else has landed on, to gather a sample and return it to Earth! Kudos. Good luck! Preliminary launch date of 2022.

Astrobotic To Take Mexican Payload To the Moon – Slashdot

agreement by Astrobotic, one of the competitors in the Google Lunar X Prize, to take a yet to be determined payload provided by the Agencia Espacial Mexicana…The arrangement will help Mexico become the first Latin American country to land and operate a payload on the lunar surface.

Congress Decides To Delay US-Launched Astronauts, Keep Using Russian Services – Slashdot

In order to protect the entrenched big aerospace companies, the Congress has increased NASA’s budget for FY2016 but has cut funding for “commercial crew.” Commercial crew is the funding used by SpaceX for the planned initial manned launches in the first half of 2017. With this cut, the launch of U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil using U.S. rockets will be delayed two years, and we will continue to send millions of dollars to Russia for launch services

Baffeling

LightSail Test Mission Declared Success; First Image Complete | The Planetary Society

The sails are “loose” and deployed. They haven’t pushed the corners to full tautness yet, but the deployment and first picture taking was a success so pretty god learning experience for the team

Privacy

Report: Russia and China Crack Encrypted Snowden Files – Slashdot

“Russia and China have cracked the top-secret cache of files stolen by the fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, forcing MI6 to pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries

Fake Mobile Phone Towers Found To Be “Actively Listening In” On Calls In UK – Slashdot

Congress: We Didn’t Know the FBI Was Creating a Small Surveillance ‘Air Force’ – Slashdot

So the FBI, NSA et all are dark pits of sucking money and they lie about what they are doing when asked and don’t tell you if not asked. When is anyone going to think about the term “rouge”

Technology

Google and Facebook Cancel Satellite Plans – Slashdot

Facebook and Google have both cancelled their plans to build satellite systems to provide global internet access

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo to step down – Al Jazeera English

Investors welcome news of departure, driving up shares of US social-media firm plagued by poor financial performance.

BlackBerry may put Android software on new smartphone – Kitchener-Waterloo – CBC News

BlackBerry is considering equipping an upcoming smartphone with Google Inc.’s Android software for the first time, an
acknowledgement that its revamped line of devices has failed to win mass appeal, according to four sources familiar with the matter….
BlackBerry, which once dominated smartphone sales, now has a market share of less than 1 percent.

Emails Show How Industry Lobbyists Basically Wrote The Trans-Pacific Partnership – Slashdot

one even openly celebrates that the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) version copied his own text word for word.

Not shocking, just depressing and sad

US Tech Companies Expected To Lose More Than $35 Billion Over NSA Spying – Slashdot

There we go. That is at least a not completely small number that might get someone’s attention. We could wish

Microsoft’s Skype Drops Modern App In Favour of Old-Fashioned Win32 App – Slashdot

Microsoft is pushing Windows 10 Universal Apps as the development platform for now and the future, but its Skype team have just disagreed big time. If Microsoft can’t get behind the plan why should developers?

The Skype team is “upgrading “Metro” app users to the desktop app. I’d say this is a pretty big sign that “metro” style apps are pretty dead.

Medical

Chinese Doctor Performs Head Transplants On Mice – Slashdot

a Chinese surgeon, has performed roughly 1,000 head transplants on mice since 2013 and says that monkeys are next. Some of the mice have lived as long as a day after the operations

Seems not that successful yet

Neurosurgeon to attempt world’s first head transplant – Al Jazeera English

He seems to be back with a new plan

Productivity

CUNNING PLANS: An Ebook Of My Talks | MORNING, COMPUTER

A series of talks Warren Ellis has done collected in book for. $1 drm-free epub from smashwords is a great deal


7June2015

World News

Sepp Blatter to resign as FIFA president – Al Jazeera English

After 14 high ranking FIFA officials arrested last week on corruption charges, he somehow got re-elected late last week, but the growing scandal which will presumably implicate him eventually got too big and he’s stepping down, probably to get away from it. Good for everyone else though

Asia

S Korea to track citizens as fifth MERS death recorded – Al Jazeera English

South Korea is facing a hopefully small MERS outbreak

The number of infections in the country rose to 64 after 14 new cases were confirmed on Saturday night, the health ministry said.
All of the 14 new cases were among a group of 1,820 people quarantined after being exposed to those diagnosed earlier, it added.

First identified in humans in 2012, MERS is caused by a coronavirus from the same family as the one that triggered Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). However, MERS has a much higher death rate at 38 percent, according to World Health Organization figures.

Europe

Ruling party loses majority in Turkey elections – Al Jazeera English

Preliminary results suggest AK Party won polls, but lost absolute majority in parliament due to pro-Kurdish party gains.

Big election a lot of people were watching given the unrest over the last few years, Looks like Erdogan is back for more.

Heavy fighting resumes in Ukraine’s east – Al Jazeera English

First civilian deaths since February truce reported as government troops and rebel forces trade charges of new attack.

Africa

Western Sahara’s struggle for freedom cut off by a wall – Al Jazeera English

Nothing but silence surrounds the “Berm” – a sand wall surrounded by millions of land mines. It has isolated the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara for decades and it is barely heard of…
But spanning 2,700km, the Berm is 12 times the length of the Berlin Wall and four times that of the West Bank wall.
It is second in length only to the Great Wall of China, yet has remained practically invisible to the outside world. An estimated 120,000 Moroccan troops keep busy manning the massive wall…
Morocco built this wall shortly after its forces occupied Western Sahara in 1975. …
People here have stopped believing that the outside world and a “peaceful resistance” will win it back…
There is particular anger about the UN Security Council’s April decision to extend MINURSO’s mandate for another year without a rights arm. It’s the only peacekeeping mission in the world without one…
Morocco is one of the world’s top 10 spenders on lobbying. It spent $3m in Washington alone in 2013…

North America

Red Cross ‘squandered millions’ in Haiti relief efforts – Al Jazeera English

The Red Cross is having a hard time explaining where the $500 Million it raised for Haiti relief actually went. Hatian’s haven’t seen it. And say figured on the Red Cross site are lies. Red Cross can’t seem to explain it either? Seems like we need some auditors and maybe are about to find a heart breaking case of corruption and embezzlement.

US

US Airport Screeners Missed 95% of Weapons, Explosives In Undercover Tests – Slashdot

More on the “security theater” that is the TSA and US airport security: they missed 95% of weapons in this secret test. That’s amazing. So all they do is slow things down and harass a lot of innocent people to give the impression of security while utterly failing to provide any. They need dismantling. Or aggressive restructuring.

US police ‘shot dead almost 400 people’ in 2015 – Al Jazeera English

In the first 5 months of the year. Roughly on track to make 1000 this year. Officially reported numbers… aren’t really tracking it, so this 3rd party report is a first and more accurate look at the problem, which is large.

According to the report, half the victims were white, half minority… Overall blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities when adjusting by the population of the census tracts where the shootings occurred.

US Office of Personnel Management Hacked Again – Slashdot

Personally identifiable information of approximately 4 million individuals may have been compromised.

I find the contextual irony of this story arriving back to back with Governments of the World Agree: Encryption Must Die! and a spat of other stories like FBI Director Continues His Campaign Against Encryption. They are continuing to make themselves vulnerable to this kind of thing with these idiotic goals of banishing security. It’s so frustrating to watch.

Twitter analysis is saying this catastrophic leak of information on government personal including many high placed individuals and assets will take them at least a decade to clean up as now so many of these people are open to impersonation and blackmail.

It was also reiterated that the US’s strong focus on offensive tech is going to continue to cost them as their defences crumble and leak information weakening them far faster than they can “fight’, especially in this new more asymmetric game.

Canada

Lawyer Rocco Galati says Bill C-51 creates a modern-day Gestapo in Canada | Georgia Straight Vancouver’s News & Entertainment Weekly

“It takes all your private information and shares it with all government agencies, including foreign governments,” Galati said. “And for some Canadian citizens, that becomes a eventuality of torture or death when they’re travelling abroad.”…
“So words and thoughts become an act of terrorism under this bill,” he stated…
“Lastly, it does all of this by taking away all and any transparent judicial oversight,”

Also, as a friend who has lived in Canada since early childhood and just wasn’t born here but got citizenship while still a child and has only know one country “also bill c-24 means that now my citizenship can be revoked without a judge’s decision”. It’s kind of shocking.

Canada just got a whole lot meaner.

Canada’s newest astronauts will fly to space by 2024 – Technology & Science – CBC News

One of them is now expected to fly by 2019 and the other by 2024

Privacy

Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

The agency already had pre-encryption stage access to email on Outlook.com, including Hotmail… Microsoft worked with the FBI this year to allow the NSA easier access via Prism to its cloud storage service SkyDrive, which now has more than 250 million users worldwide;… Skype, which was bought by Microsoft in October 2011, worked with intelligence agencies last year to allow Prism to collect video of conversations as well as audio

So basically all Microsoft communication tools are backdoored for the US gov. :(

US Prosecutors Say Clearing Browser Data Can Be Obstruction of Justice – Slashdot

There were three counts for making false statements based on the aforementioned lies and—remarkably—one count for destroying “any record, document or tangible object” with intent to obstruct a federal investigation. This last charge was for deleting videos on his computer that may have demonstrated his own terrorist sympathies and for clearing his browser history.

Controversial US monitoring powers expire – Al Jazeera English

CBC additional coverage

The legal authority for US spy agencies’ collection of Americans’ phone records and other data has expired after the US Senate failed to pass legislation extending the powers.

Anti-TPP Website Being Blacklisted – Slashdot

If true, super gross.

The site been blacklisted by Twitter, Facebook, and major email providers as malicious/spam. Over the last week, nobody has been able to post the website on social networks, or send any emails with their URL… the blackout has occurred at a particularly crucial point in the campaign to kill the TPP, as most members of the House of Representatives would likely vote against it were it brought to a vote now

This outlines another massive problem with independent sites converging on so called “platforms” like facebook. If those sites become people’s main source of news, and are so easily censored… Sad days.

FBI behind mysterious surveillance aircraft over US cities

Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies…
The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights in 11 states over a 30-day period since late April, orbiting both major cities and rural areas. At least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, were mentioned in a federal budget document from 2009.

FBI Panopticon. So less wiretapping maybe? But we’ll always be watching you… Pretty creepy

Tor Connections To Hidden Services Could Be Easy To De-Anonymize – Slashdot

“The researchers managed to place their own nodes as the 6 HSDirs for facebookcorewwwi.onion, Facebook’s official site on the Tor network, for the whole day on Thursday. They still held 4 of the 6 spots on Friday. Brute-forcing the key for each node took only 15 minutes on a MacBook Pro and running the Tor relays themselves cost US$62 on Amazon’s EC2 service.

Technology

Intel To Buy Altera For $16.7 Billion – Slashdot

follows another huge purchase in the semiconductor industry last week, when Avago snapped up Broadcom for $37 billion.

Google Plus slowly being deleted from the internet

Branding for plus, search results, tie ins disappearing in prominent places and some parts being spun off as independent. A big expensive fail for Google and crowns Facebook as King for the next chunk of time until a proper game changing challenger supplants it instead of a Google owned clone.

Intel Skylake & Broxton Graphics Processors To Start Mandating Binary Blobs – Slashdot

Well that’s really disappointing. I’ve been a big Intel fan for a long time, all my laptops have had their graphics for over a decade. Oh well.

Google Soli finger control technology – Business Insider

New fine grained remote sensor detects several gestures. A few demonstrations included to get you interested but no info on limits. Could be included in a watch or phone or any device to gesture at it for control.

Researchers synthesize magnetic nanoparticles that could offer alternative to rare Earth magnets

A team of scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University has synthesized a powerful new magnetic material that could reduce the dependence of the United States and other nations on rare earth elements produced by China…
The new material consists of nanoparticles containing iron, cobalt and carbon atoms with a magnetic domain size of roughly 5 nanometers. It can store information up to 790 kelvins with thermal and time-stable, long-range magnetic order, which could have a potential impact for data storage application.

Finance & Markets

Oil price wars: Competition or control? – Al Jazeera English

The price of Brent crude hit a high of around $114 a barrel last June before crashing spectacularly at the beginning of this year to $47.
The price has since stabilised at around $65.


31May2015

World News

Uber Revises Privacy Policy, Wants More Data From Users – Slashdot

The “not a transpiration company” whose heads have already been caught saying they want to hire detectives to dive into the lives of news reporters to find either blackmail material or smear material now want more personal information from all their clients too.

A Great Injustice — The Message — Medium

The incomparable Quinn Norton on the American Incarceration system. An Excellent if sad read.

As a result, around 96% of defendants accept plea bargains…
Even the government admits that up to 8% of those pleading are likely to be completely innocent. That’s at least 176,000 souls trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare…
In the 1980s, to take the possibility of leniency away from judges, legislators created mandatory minimum sentences tied to specific offenses. As a result, first time offenders and people caught up in situations the laws weren’t created for can face decades in prison merely because they believe they are innocent of any wrong-doing and won’t take the plea deals offered to them….
Solitary confinement is considered torture by the United Nations, and much of the global medical community…
Right now, around 80,000 people in America are in solitary confinement. Some have been locked in these modern oubliettes for decades, forgotten about by the outside world.
Some are as young as 14.

Europe

Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment – Slashdot

Russia warplanes head off US destroyer in Black Sea – Al Jazeera English

Well that sounds like rising tensions…Cold War 2 anyone?

Russia plans to use prison labour for 2018 World Cup – Al Jazeera English

The World Cup is really heading into a darker place this next decade

Africa

Nigeria’s Buhari vows campaign against Boko Haram – Al Jazeera English

Nigeria’s former military ruler formally takes over as elected head of state in Abuja ceremony amid tight security.

Middle East

Qatar World Cup sponsors targeted for improving workers’ rights – World – CBC News

According to some estimates, over 1,000 migrant workers have already died in the Gulf nation.

North America

US

US accidentally sends live anthrax to S Korean army base – Al Jazeera English

Twenty-two personnel treated for possible exposure near Seoul, as bacteria also sent to laboratories in nine US states.

US removes Cuba from terror blacklist – Al Jazeera English

About time. Ridiculous really it took till now. Still, all should help their economy take steps to integrate more with their neighbour and rehabilitate more.

Finance & Markets

How Elon Musk’s Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies – Slashdot

Interesting to me from a business point of view, look what giant juicy government grants there are and target to “disrupt” ones that look vulnerable.

The potential bond crisis most people have never heard of – Business – CBC News

Four out of five bond traders worry the market could collapse in a disorderly sell-off…
In the public imagination, if we think of them at all, bonds are the epitome of safety. Which is why it is strange to read in one of the world’s most reliable business publications, the London Financial Times, that experts are terrified of an imminent crash in bonds that could destabilize the global economy.

Science

Climate engineering may save coral reefs, research shows

Geoengineering of the climate may be the only way to save coral reefs from mass bleaching, according to new research.

The Web Is Not a Post-Racial Utopia | Al Jazeera America

When [Rust] the game was first opened up, all players were given the same default avatar: a bald white man. With the most recent update, Rust’s lead developer, Garry Newman, introduced different avatars of different racial origins into the mix. However, they did so with a twist — unlike typical massively multiplayer online role-playing games, Rust does not allow players to choose the race of their avatar. Instead, they are assigned one at random.

The reactions to Rust’s unprecedented experiment were swift. Many gamers were aggrieved by the skin tone automatically assigned them. Others felt drafted into racial discourses that they preferred to ignore, and lamented the entrance of social justice activism into what they saw as a blissfully post-racial online world. But the backlash only underscored a disturbing reality: By insisting that race doesn’t or shouldn’t exist online, such attitudes ensure an online status quo in which people of color remain marginalized and invisible.

Fascinating long analysis in article

Space

SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches – Slashdot

This disrupts the lock that Boeing and Lockheed Martin have had on military launches for almost a decade.

Russian Space Agency Misused $1.8 Billion, May Be Replaced – Slashdot

($1.8 billion) in 2014 alone… rampant corruption

Oh good. This is one of only two governments left capable of putting humans in Space, the other being China. SpaceX needs to hurry up and get human rated or ISS might have to be left abandoned or conquered at this rate.

Planetary Society’s LightSail solar sailing spacecraft goes silent in orbit – Technology & Science – CBC News

The Planetary Society’s tiny LightSail spacecraft, launched into orbit on May 20, was expected to unfurl and test its solar sails in June. However, the bread-loaf-sized cubesat hasn’t sent any data to ground stations since May 22… The software glitch causes the flight system to crash once it collects more than 32 megabytes of data.

Sad this was to be again the first test of a solar sail. Their first attempt failed in 2005.

Ground Crew Back In Touch With LightSail Solar Spacecraft – Slashdot

Well that’s excitingly good news for them

Privacy

Rampant telecom surveillance conducted with little transparency, oversight – Technology & Science – CBC News

Utterly unshocking though

The Hypocrisy of the Internet Journalist — The Message — Medium

On how massively we are tracked online.

I run a browser plugin called Noscript, and another called Ghostery. I don’t recommend them, not because they aren’t good, but because they turn web browsing into a part time job. No one has time to deal with these things. In order to not be tracked, you have to constantly be paying attention to what every page is doing. As the years passed at Wired I watched the list of third-party scripts and cookies grow in my little Noscript window.

Technology

Google unveils Android M

Good break down of new features from OS News. The standout is newer permissions model for apps based on iOS

New Ugandan radio stations run on sun, smartphones and buckets – tech – 28 May 2015 – New Scientist

The Future Is A Confidence Trick | MORNING, COMPUTER

Prediction is an industry, and its product is a persuasive set of hopes and fears that we’re trained or convinced to agree upon. It’s a confidence trick. And its product comes so thick and fast that, like a plothole in an action movie, we’re carried on past the obvious failures and the things that didn’t even make sense if we had more than five seconds to think about them. Videophones.

ahahahaha. but yeah. predicting the future is hard. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try harder tho. But also don’t be so taken in.

AdBlock Plus mobile browser could devastate publishers – Technology & Science – CBC News

The arms race continues. But we do also have to remember that ad-free may lead to some less content. Ads do serve a purpose, there’s a lot of ad funded content out there. It’s tricky

Do we really want to fuse our minds together? – Peter Watts – Aeon

Peter Watts long form on state of the art brain implant, communication and wiring, and consciousness research and what it all might mean in the surprisingly short term

Volvo Self-Parking Car Hits People Because Owner Didn’t Pay For Extra Feature – Slashdot

A Volvo representative said the car was not equipped with the “Pedestrian detection” feature. That feature is sold as a separate package.

​Mark Shuttleworth considering Canonical IPO | ZDNet

We now have a story that the market will understand.”

That story is that while Canonical as a whole still isn’t profitable, its OpenStack cloud division has become profitable. Shuttleworth added, “I don’t believe any other company can say that about their OpenStack efforts.”

I’m concerned that the “unprofitable” desktop might suffer more if this were to happen. And what of the phone plans? It’s a gamble as is. A board would have to have the right people to back it going forward or they might just close that venture down. Should be interesting

Ross Ulbricht, Creator of Silk Road Website, Is Sentenced to Life in Prison – NYTimes.com

MIT cheetah robot lands the running jump – YouTube

Pretty amazing demo of a running robot running at 2.4 m/s jumping obstacles. We’re really staring to get natural, flexible robotic movement at decent speed.

Project Jacquard

Google working with new textiles to weave into fabric and then clothes sensors that can be used for touch and gesture interfaces

Stink Bombs for Riot Control – Schneier on Security

It’s called Skunk, a type of “malodorant,” or in plainer language, a foul-smelling liquid. Technically nontoxic but incredibly disgusting, it has been described as a cross between “dead animal and human excrement.” Untreated, the smell lingers for weeks.

Developed by the Israeli Defense Force, it’s coming soon to the US

Looking Forward: Microsoft: Support for Secure Shell (SSH)

I’m pleased to announce that the PowerShell team will support and contribute to the OpenSSH community – Very excited to work with the OpenSSH community to deliver the PowerShell and Windows SSH solution!

Wonders from the “new” MS never cease. And this could be very cool. From the HN comments, cturner said it best :

For all Balmer’s thing of dancing on a stage and chanting “developers”, there was no point under Gates or he at which Microsoft felt like a pro-developer company.

That has completely changed in the last eighteen months. Each time I think “wouldn’t it be cool if” I’m finding a few weeks later that someone at Microsoft is well ahead of me. How much easier it will be to ship my sucky roguelikes to Windows users in this new world!

Mozilla Drops $25 Smartphone Plans, Will Focus On Higher Quality Devices – Slashdot

Basic entrepreneurship and startup principals are make things you want and for yourself. Making things for other people gets dangerous rapidly because you may not understand them as well as you think and strawman them.

When your business plan is to make “crappy” phones for “poor” people it’s wandered into super dangerous territory. And sure enough ti didn’t work.

They were also fighting Moore’s law in that phones were getting cheaper and faster probably much faster then their team could make this light weight OS. And so everyone was buying more expensive but cheapening Android phones, which had a much stronger value proposition for hat added money, in that they were designed to be good from the start and a liked device, and as the overwhelmingly dominant OS in the mobile space also benefited from a “network effect” of sorts in that they had the most apps.

Having the most apps feeds back into what the device is for, which can be communication. I have close to 10 chat apps on my phone, very few of which or none which would have been available on Firefox OS. So they are selling a phone that also doesn’t communicate as well with everyone else.

Very difficult. And now they have to try and dig themselves out of this. And that too will be hard. Their other market, the geeks, which might have been too small to target directly, now all have seen a FF OS phone and been like “meh, kinda crap”, so they’ve burned some bridges with those potential evangelists as well.

They need to more than just saying “we’re going to stop intentionally being a bit shit” find a specific niche they can try and exploit. I know that’s what they were trying to do but they were doing it wrong. Also competing with Apple/iOS and Android is just a super hard challenge. I won’t be betting on the Firefox OS phone gaining any noticeable traction any time soon.

Security

A Text Message Can Crash An iPhone and Force It To Reboot – Slashdot

“When the text message is displayed by a banner alert or notification on the lockscreen, the system attempts to abbreviate the text with an ellipsis. If the ellipsis is placed in the middle of a set of non-Latin script characters, including Arabic, Marathi and Chinese, it causes the system to crash and the phone to reboot.”

Pay more attention to i18n earlier on in your dev cycle and test it extensively…

Medical

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US – Slashdot

The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Pretty solidly evil.

Scientists reverse aging in human cell lines and give theory of aging a new lease of life — ScienceDaily

Controversial (contested) results being published soon. If true, and worked a lot could help with “curing” aging, though even this potential break through would have a ways to go.

3D printing technique explored to help treat type 1 diabetes

The paper describes how clusters of specialized cells responsible for the production of insulin and glucagon in the pancreas, called islets of Langerhans, have successfully been 3D printed into a scaffold. It is hoped that the scaffolds can be transplanted into patients with type 1 diabetes to help regulate blood sugar levels

Notes

On ad blockers – personal values trump

For the longest time I’ve been swayed by the argument that free-to-me content needs a monitization stream so I’ve avoided installing ad blockers. In my pyramid of values that argument found a place that help for a long time.

Until Quinn Norton’s article on trackers and the power we know they already have and her hints and the even more terrible power they would have if merged (by say a government or merging due to sales).

And just like that a new argument that trips my personal privacy sense which is higher up my personal pyramid of values has trumped the old argument and I’m suddenly finding myself investigating ad-blockers like Ad Block Plus and other tools like No Script, Disconnect and others. Long term, the leakage of that much personal information is not worth it, I’d rather pay, like I already do for the occasional service, like newsblur and netflix.

Kanban: On Trust

sociologists call it social capital. What they’ve learned is that trust is event driven and that small, frequent gestures of events enhance trust more than larger gestures made only occasionally

Interesting. Also of note is the economics/market jargon bleed over. As “Debt: the first 5000 years” suggests it really does bleed over into everything else.


24May2015

World News

Europe

David Cameron to unveil new limits on extremists’ activities in Queen’s speech | UK news | The Guardian

Cameron will tell the NSC: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. “

Charlie Stross has some thoughts on this.

Think about it for a moment. This is the leader of a nominally democratic country saying that merely obeying the law is not sufficient: and simultaneously moving to scrap the Human Rights Act and to bring in laws imposing prior restraint on freedom of political speech

Greece ‘can not afford’ to repay IMF on schedule – Al Jazeera English

“The installment to the IMF won’t be paid,” Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Mega TV on Sunday. “The installments for the IMF in June are $1.8bn. This money will not be given. There is not any to be given. This is a known fact.”

A failure to honour the repayments could result in default, raising the spectre of a possible exit from the euro.

Ireland says big ‘Yes’ to gay marriage in world first – Al Jazeera English

By an overwhelming 62%

Africa

 

Chad: At War With Boko Haram – Al Jazeera English

A quick overview of Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon war with the group Boko Haram

Burundi

Thousands flee Burundi after failed coup attempt – Photo Galleries – World – CBC News

Also the election was postponed a bit.

Burundi opposition figure Zedi Feruzi shot dead – Al Jazeera English

North America

US

US to ban military-style equipment for the police – Al Jazeera English

Super good news. That was a not very good idea and a step backwards in the actual direction the police should be taking in a nation where crime has been steadily dropping. It was a maybe understandable reaction to fear, but it’s good to see it being reversed.

Canada

Canadian Piracy Rates Plummet As Industry Points To New Copyright Notice System – Slashdot

… And does this study take into account the meteoric rising popularity of legal streaming services like Netflix over a similar time period? Nope. So that’s open to some massive misattribution.

 

Middle East

Arab coalition jets renew strikes on Houthis in Yemen – Al Jazeera English

After a 5 day cease fire for humanitarian purposes

Science

ESA Satellite Shows Sudden Ice Loss In Southern Antarctic Peninsula – Slashdot

The ice loss in the region is so large that it has even caused small changes in Earth’s gravity field, detected by NASA’s GRACE mission.

When citizens disobey: New study suggests people use ‘constructive noncompliance’ to enact change

citizens who do not follow all the laws are engaging in “constructive noncompliance”—acts that are intended to prompt the government to alter its policies, without necessarily challenging its overall status… Roughly two-thirds of citizens surveyed think local officials take their views into account when making decisions, while only 15 percent say they would “always follow” a local policy decision they believed was not right.

Small scale change, non-compliance, over time to push small incremental change

‘Home-brew’ morphine from brewer’s yeast now possible – Technology & Science – CBC News

One of the infinite reasons the war on drugs is hopeless and we need to move on to education and support style approaches. This is just the next step in designer drugs, though realistically, we can already make horrible and cheap drugs (meth) so maybe this won’t see that much market?

Home-brew heroin: soon anyone will be able to make illegal drugs – health – 18 May 2015 – New Scientist

More

Space

Secret US X-37B plane takes to the skies to experiment in space – space – 19 May 2015 – New Scientist

So Boeing has a semi secret unmammed space plane that can stay up for a yea or two

Air Force mystery space plane poised for Wed. launch

More on the US Air Force’s secret space plane X-37B.

India Targets July/August To Test Its Space Shuttle – Slashdot

Scientists and ISRO engineers are hoping the shuttle program, when finished, will drop the cost of placing objects in orbit by a factor of 10.

Awesome if it works and regardless very good to see the space race heating up more. India’s huge success getting their orbiter to Mars orbit was a huge win for ISRO

Privacy

Australian Law Could Criminalize the Teaching of Encryption – Slashdot

Projected: the country can no longer make strong encryption, hackers pillage what local companies there are, and they have to import all crypto. Not actually hard I suppose given a lot of good open source crypto. Still, generally a disaster for the country.

Senate votes down USA Freedom Act

putting one of the legal bedrocks of the NSA’s bulk surveillance programs into jeopardy. The Patriot Act is set to expire at the end of the month, and the USA Freedom Act would have extended large portions of the act in modified form. Tonight’s failure to arrive at a vote makes it likely that many of those powers will automatically expire,

Adult Dating Site Hack Reveals Users’ Sexual Preference, Extramarital Affairs – Slashdot

RadioShack Sold Your Data to Pay Off Its Debts in Bankruptcy

For what it’s worth it seems the FTC is pretty concerned and is trying to intervene in the bankruptcy auction but it’s possible juicy data such as “names, addresses, email addresses, and purchase histories” of customers will just go to the highest bidder. Always something to consider when giving information to a company, even if you trust it, and loyalty purchase tracking cards. Kind of makes you just want to go back to paying for everything in cash.

Iris scanners can now identify us from 40 feet away

That allows camera’s that can do large scale large group/room people tracking. Pretty concerning. Response? glasses and contacts that spoof this. Even then though it can probably track the “anonymized” you in its area.

Factory Reset On Millions of Android Devices Doesn’t Wipe Storage – Slashdot

Nice work. So pretty much to securely dispose of your phone, physically destroy it.

NSA planned hack of Google app store

The US National Security Agency developed plans to hack into data links to app stores operated by Google and Samsung to plant spyware on smartphones, a media report said Thursday.

Meaning with any app you get through the store or possibly even software updates they could be appending their spyware. Beyond gross.

Technology

Guy hoverboards across a Canadian lake and into history

He recently piloted this prototype nearly 1000 feet across a Quebec lake to set the record. “The prototype can be used anywhere,” Duru explains in the video below. “But is usually tested over water because of how dangerously high it can fly

The attached video is pretty cool but also still shows this kind of device is still hilariously far from anything much practical.

Trojanized, Info-Stealing PuTTY Version Lurking Online – Slashdot

To my mind there is a big difference between package management as we see in the Linux world and App Stores that Mac and Windows are trying to push, but this is a good reason why we should start looking at at least App stores and more package management or those platforms, as key pieces of software for your system have to be fetched dangerously from the internet otherwise.

Ocumetics Bionic Lens could give you vision 3x better than 20/20 – Technology & Science – CBC News

Interesting start but with lots more eye tech probably coming I’m not sure about too early committing to something not super reversible. Still, a promising development

After a Year of Secret Field-Testing, Brain-Controlled Bionic Legs Are Here – Slashdot

Very cool

Tiny palm-top UAV folds itself up like an origami quadcopter

Pocketable drone. Attach camera and perfect stealth surveillance/tracking device that’s rapidly deployable in the field

Security

UK Criminals Use Drones To Case Burglary Prospects – Slashdot

Obviously, and probably not actually limited to the UK

IPsec Vulnerabilities and Software Security Prediction

IPsec 0-day and challenge that the software is also unmaintained and not good. Suggestion to look at alternatives

‘Logjam’ Vulnerability Threatens Encrypted Connections – Slashdot

In other news all encryption is broken again, thanks to not well thought out 90s era laws. I can’t wait till even more of the economy is electronic and relying on even more hobbled security by more recent laws.

. “Attackers with the ability to monitor the connection between an end user and a Diffie-Hellman-enabled server that supports the export cipher can inject a special payload into the traffic that downgrades encrypted connections to use extremely weak 512-bit key material. Using precomputed data prepared ahead of time, the attackers can then deduce the encryption key negotiated between the two parties.”

IE patched, the rest not yet, pending presumably.

“Breaking the single, most common 1024-bit prime used by web servers would allow passive eavesdropping on connections to 18% of the Top 1 Million HTTPS domains. A second prime would allow passive decryption of connections to 66% of VPN servers and 26% of SSH servers. A close reading of published NSA leaks shows that the agency’s attacks on VPNs are consistent with having achieved such a break.”

Oh good, so the NSA discovered this a while ago and weaponized it for their use leaving everyone vulnerable until it was discovered by security researchers. Obviously no data on how many blackhat third parties also independently discovered this over the last decade and also used it to steal data. So the NSA kept the government weak to forgien hacking and all companies.

Staggeringly awesome from so many angles

How 1990s Encryption Backdoors Put Today’s Internet In Jeopardy – Slashdot

Great, more coverage over how politically and technologically ancient legislation is causing havoc now in security. One would hope this could be used as evidence that extreme caution should be required now when draft new future laws (like backdoors in everything…) but it will probably be ignore and the problem will magnify and intensify over the next decade or two.

US Proposes Tighter Export Rules For Computer Security Tools – Slashdot

Aren’t we just this week furnished with evidence in the form of LogJam why the 90s era version of this law was so harmful to everyone. And we’re in a much more internet age. You can’t have it both ways, which means no one gets good security. Why do people still think this can work. It’s an appalling idea damaging to all society.

Medical

Nerve Cells Made From Blood Cells – Slashdot

“We can actually take a patient’s blood sample, as routinely performed in a doctor’s office, and with it we can produce one million sensory neurons. We can also make central nervous system cells.” They’re working on turning the neural stem cells into motor neurons for treatment of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Notes

Accelerando

“But it’s true: Since the 1980s, it has been possible – in principle – to resolve resource allocation problems algorithmically, by computer, instead of needing a market. Markets are wasteful: They allow competition, much of which is thrown on the scrap heap. So why do they persist?”

Manfred shrugs. “You tell me. Conservativism?”

Gianni closes the book and puts it back on the shelf. “Markets afford their participants the illusion of free will, my friend. You will find that human beings do not like being forced into doing something, even if it is in their best interests. Of necessity, a command economy must be coercive – it does, after all, command.”

We can afford a little wastage, my friend, if that is the price of keeping people happy until the marginal value of money withers away completely.”

Realization dawns. “You want to abolish scarcity, not just money!”

“Indeed.” Gianni grins. “There’s more to that than mere economic performance; you have to consider abundance as a factor. Don’t plan the economy; take things out of the economy. Do you pay for the air you breathe? Should uploaded minds – who will be the backbone of our economy, by and by – have to pay for processor cycles? No and no.”

Everytime, this part gets me. Silly people. From my nearly yearly reread of Accelerando.

We’re finally starting to catch up to it and surpass it’s opening in little bits, or go down obviously different paths.

Existential Threats

The Singularity is Further Than it Appears | Ramez Naam

Rehash and reupdate of a few previous posts by Ramez on the topic of the singularity.

tl;dr: Not anytime soon. Lack of incentives means very little strong AI work is happening. And even if we did develop one, it’s unlikely to have a hard takeoff.

Rants

Poor crypto/security infrastructue could really make future war weird. Maybe we need a new policy.

Things like Logjam with some part of it possibly related to 90s politics about crypto, it might look like things are getting better now and fixed, but what happens if new NSA/FBI laws pass requiring backdoors in everything. Also it highlights how they are still playing offensive at the cost of defensive in that it seems the NSA independently discovered logjam a few years ago and weaponized it for personal use rather than get the word out and secure the tech behind the US economy. Anyone want to bet on the odds a blackhat third party also independently discovered this in the intervening time and could have used it for hacks from credit-card/identify theft hacks to government/corporate espionage? The US is already flirting with being an “old world” power in some ways, having a harder time adapting to guerrilla war of the later 20th century, what about digital war? China has weaponized the Great Firewall into the Great Cannon a feat the US will already have a hard time matching, what if they continue to hurt their tech security infrastructure? Imagine in a decade where with all their military might in metal and human mass they declare war on a small nation, and minutes later that small nation’s crack team of hackers from one room shut down the US economy and power grid.


17May2015

World News

World population-food supply balance is becoming increasingly unstable, study finds

Certainly not the lead up to increased social tensions and rioting

Asia

Sedition returns to Malaysia’s legal toolbox – Al Jazeera English

Third Bangladeshi blogger hacked to death – Al Jazeera English

Reminder how lucky I am.

Europe

Macedonian protesters demand government’s resignation – World – CBC News

Additional coverage.

Seems like the PM was caught admitting to be behind the mass wiretapping of over 20,000 citizens (of the 2M people in the country). and now mass protests are breaking out.

Africa

Mohammed Morsi, ousted Egyptian president, sentenced to death – World – CBC News

Burundi

Army general dismisses Burundi president – Al Jazeera English

Celebrations have broken out in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura following a coup against the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza.

UN Security Council condemns Burundi coup – Al Jazeera English

On the other hand, the UN is less impressed, though, with both the coup and the president.

President ‘back in Burundi’ after army says coup failed – Al Jazeera English

That was… short

Doctors: Burundi police shoot fighters on hospital beds – Al Jazeera English

To worse

Burundian president says country at peace after failed coup – World – CBC News

Predictably

 

Middle East

 

Q&A: ‘Yemen has gone 100 years back in time’ – Al Jazeera English

Pretty bleak.

Yemen humanitarian pause comes into effect – Al Jazeera English

just for 5 days. Let’s hope even that can hold.

Scores killed in arms-depot blasts in Yemen’s Sanaa [capital]

Article includes good graph of who is involved and in what role

 

Finance & Markets

Self-Driving Trucks Are Going to Hit Us Like a Human-Driven Truck — Basic income — Medium

More in depth rehash. The economy and a lot of people are facing problems as self driving trucks are already starting to launch in states like Nevada. Second order effects to gas stations, motels and restaurants etc as well.

 

Science

 

42% of honeybee hives killed off in U.S. last year – Technology & Science – CBC News

Concerning

Team demonstrates first large-scale graphene fabrication

Preparation for mass production of material stronger than carbon fiber

The Ultimate Tech Frontier: Your Brain – Charlie’s Diary

Ramez Naam via Charlie Stross’s blog discusses the feasibility, current state of, and timeline for neural implants and some of their effects.

In evolution, ‘house of cards’ model wins – Yale

the “house of cards” model—which holds that mutations with large effects effectively reshuffle the genomic deck—explains evolutionary processes better than the theory that species undergo the accumulation of many mutations with small effects.

 

Space

LightSail: A Revolutionary Solar Sailing Spacecraft by Bill Nye, CEO, The Planetary Society — Kickstarter

Planetary Socety succesfully kickstarts a Solar Sail project for 2016

ISS Crew Stuck In Orbit While Russia Assesses Rocket – Slashdot

Old world launch technology is continuing to fall apart. We need the new generation of launch tech to get human approved pretty soon.

Arab Mars Probe Planned For 2020 – Slashdot

UAE wants to join the space race and is aiming for a Mars Orbiter to start. Seems ambitious, but good luck to them!

Privacy

Google admits Hangouts doesn’t use end-to-end encryption

Sad but not really shocking

Technology

Testable Examples in Go – The Go Blog

For later reference

Oculus Rift Hardware Requirements Revealed, Linux and OS X Development Halted – Slashdot

Possibly looking to double down on Windows now the Hololens has been announced, but still bad news for Linux and MacOS with dev for the platforms “paused” with no timeline.

Baidu’s Supercomputer Beats Google At Image Recognition – Slashdot

AI super power companies duke it out. Recall Google’s Andrew Ng’s “defection” to Baidu

Graphene holds key to unlocking creation of wearable electronic devices

Ground-breaking research has successfully created the world’s first truly electronic textile, using the wonder material Graphene.

Looking For Maturity In The Internet Of Things | MORNING, COMPUTER

Warren Ellis on why you might not want to do an Internet of Things company and generally that society is already wrong about how we view them (we barely bat an eye when one fails for hours or ever). This and more is exactly why things like Roger’s home monitoring make me laugh

Productivity

Microsoft study shows that tech is shortening your attention span

I can feel this at times too.

While tech is hurting attention spans overall, it also appears to improve your abilities to both multitask and concentrate in short bursts. You not only get a better sense of what deserves your attention, but do a better job of committing useful things to memory

Also presumably engaging in long form focus activities like reading books etc might help combat or balance this out.

Media

Taylor Swift – Bad Blood ft. Kendrick Lamar – YouTube

What more needs to be said, it’s picked up 15M view on youtube in about a day, a star studded cast across generations and a lot of people having fun.


11May2015

Continuing to process my news backlog.

 

World News

Cuba’s Raul Castro meets Pope Francis, says he might return to the Church – World – CBC News

Cuban President Raul Castro on Sunday thanked Pope Francis for brokering the thaw between Havana and Washington

I had no idea the Pope had a hand in that. Good for him. Interesting to see him playing at some politics and being effective.

Australia

Top Advisor To Australian Gov’t Says Climate Change is a UN Conspiracy – Slashdot

Australia has had some pretty horrific droughts in the last few years, which some people might say climate change may have hand a hand in. But the Australian government understands what’s really going on… This bazaar governance system that promotes this kind of behaviour is going to have some dangerous long term effects on us as a species.

US

Extreme Secrecy Eroding Support For Trans-Pacific Partnership – Slashdot

Members of Congress can read the bill if they want, but they need to be located in a single room within the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center, and they can’t have their staff with them. They can’t have a copy, they can’t take notes, and they can only view one section at a time. And they’re monitored while they read it.

That’s not sketchy. This is a secret document that the government is negotiating and wants to become law.

Europe

Greece says it faces bankruptcy in weeks – Al Jazeera English

Drama. The US also was “close” to defaulting recently. Seems like drama drummed up to help close a better deal. Not that it’s not scary or they aren’t in a tough place, I’d just be surprised if it was let to happen.

Middle East

Saudi Arabia assembles ‘massive force’ on Yemen border – Al Jazeera English

Totally not suspicious. But with the unrest in Yemen, and Saudi Arabia already I believe doing some air raids… Looks like they are preping to move in on ground. Weather just for “stabilization” or…

Saudi Arabia says king’s Camp David absence not snub to US – Al Jazeera English

There have been a couple of articles about Saudi Arabia missing a Middle East conference in the US. Maybe he’s busy dealing with the Yemen situation?

Fighting rages along Syria’s Lebanon border – Al Jazeera English

Syrian opposition fighters are caught in a hard place with their backs to the Lebanese border with Lebanese Hezbollah troops and Syrian government attacking them.

Science

First baby born with IVF that uses stem cells to pep up old eggs – health – 11 May 2015 – New Scientist

Exciting new baby step in the direction of designer babies, but also one a lot of aging women who want kids might be interested in

Bright spots on Ceres get closer look from Dawn spacecraft – Technology & Science – CBC News

Spots caused by reflection off shiny surface such as ice, scientists confirm

Not the most useful contribution, but still interesting to follow

Researchers Make Spiders Produce Silk Strengthened With Graphene – Slashdot

Researchers dosed spiders with carbon nanotube filled water and the spiders produced silk infused with it that is as strong as kevlar.

Shape of the Universe Determined To Be Really, Really Flat – Slashdot

The Universe’s topology has many important implications for physics and it looks like we’re getting a handle on it and surprisingly, rather than positively or negatively curved, we seem to be in a perfectly flat universe.

Privacy

James Comey, the man who aims to outlaw encryption

The head of the FBI is still pushing for encryption “with a backdoor for the good guys” which isn’t encryption and presumably would then outlaw real encryption. I get that they are frustrated in their pursuits but making everyone weaker and more vulnerable to help them do their job of protecting people is contradictory.

Dropbox Moves Accounts Outside North America To Ireland – Slashdot

Following in Twitter’s footsteps, Dropbox has move accounts outside of North America to Ireland. Tough luck Canadians. Presumably performance was traded for security.

Technology

Tesla To Unveil Its $35,000 Model 3 In March 2016 – Slashdot

Still 10 months away, but that is a much more affordable price.

AMD Outlines Plans For Zen-Based Processors, First Due In 2016 – Slashdot

Reported as being x86 compatible and giving a 40% performance gain but still 10 months away. “Revolutionary” or just another step in Moore’s Law. Still, maybe interesting. And might be a boon for AMD CPUs.

Ubuntu May Beat Windows 10 To Phone-PC Convergence After All – Slashdot

‘While I enjoy the race, I also like to win,’ Ubuntu Foundation founder Mark Shuttleworth said, before announcing that Canonical will partner with a hardware manufacturer to release a Ubuntu Phone with smartphone-PC convergence features this year.

So the race is still on. Question though: then this “desktop” will be based on Ubuntu phone? So either like Ubuntu 15.04 or 15.10 or completely different than any actually current Ubuntu desktop experience? We shall see. I still have doubts, but a little competition is probably better than none…

Mono 4.0 released

This is the first Mono release that contains code from Microsoft’s open sourced .NET code. We are only getting started with this work

This is also the first version with C# 6.0 enabled by default.

Redacted for Mac Launch

Mac’s paid app stores isn’t doing too well.

Redacted was #8 top paid in the US and #1 top paid in Graphics at the end of launch day… Later that evening, I was having drinks with some friends and Matthew Bischoff said he thought I made $10,000 or $20,000…. . I tweeted asking people to guess how much I made yesterday (after Apple’s cut)…. The average guess was $12,460.67…

Please click through to see how much he made. It’s a bit tragic.

Uber Wants To Buy Nokia’s Mapping Services – Slashdot

Unshocking. Their dependence on Google maps is a big Achilles heel if Google launches a competing self driving car and boots them off Google Maps. Rumors are they have been working on an in house solution, but as we learned from AppleMaps, this is not as simple a problem as some people think.

Enterprise SSDs, Powered Off, Potentially Lose Data In a Week – Slashdot

This is pretty important if true. And pretty terrible.

Vensmile (TM) iPC002 Wintel Mini PC Compute Stick Atom BayTrail CR, Z3735F Quad-core (4C/4T) SoC CPU Windows 8.1 Pocket Mini Computer with Memory 2G EMMC 32G Bluetooth 4.0 Built-in Battery 2.4G/5G Dual Band WiFi : Computers & Accessories

Some might look at this and see another, yet small tv box, but what I see is the phone form factor and most importantly the battery in a non phone device. The battery is the game changer. Given more advanced input or even just lugging around a keyboard and mouse, and more advanced display, or maybe now some kind projector or plugging into a screen where ever you go, you have a full portable computer that fits into your pocket. Couple with a Holo Lens? or other head mounted displays and better portable input tech and neat things could happen that don’t have to be tied to a mobile OS.

Security

Netflix open-sources security incident management tool | Network World

Maritime Cybersecurity Firm: 37% of Microsoft Servers On Ships Are Vulnerable

including one case in which “drug gangs were able to smuggle entire container loads of cocaine through Antwerp, one of Belgium’s largest ports, after its hackers breached the port’s IT network”

Hackers are draining bank accounts via the Starbucks app – May. 13, 2015

Trust is one of the most precious commodities, especially when you are dealing with other people’s money, and Starbucks just blew a bunch of it,

Hackers can steal fingerprints from a Galaxy S5 | Android | Geek.com

Biometrics are problematic and this is just another symptom of that. Also though it probably really comes down to sloppy insecure storage. When storing PII and especially stuff for passwords, always encrypt or hash it strongly.


6may2015

So I’ve been quiet these last few weeks working on a new tool to help me store and collate news and generate these blogs posts. I’m glad to report that after about 3 weeks I’ve gotten it into a working state and the following blog post is the first result of me using the tool. I’m very happy with the results so far, it plugged into my work flow as designed, as I read news I could easily pop it open with an interesting link, tag it with a category and add notes and save it and when I had “enough” it spat out the blog post below which needed only the minimalist of tweaking.

 

World News

Wondermark » Archive » #1122; In which a Man Drowns

Less news and more an argument to add to your arsenal on why we need “welfare states”

US

Indiana town relents, gives addicts needles to stop disease outbreak – Health – CBC News

Canada

Canada pushes through controversial anti-terror bill – Al Jazeera English

Contested bill will allow spy-agencies to operate overseas for first time and conduct “online counter-messaging”.

CBC coverage.
Sad for me was the Liberal party going all in supporting the bill.

Alberta election 2015: NDP win a different kind of ‘miracle on the Prairies’ – Calgary – CBC News

After 44 years of conservative rule, this is a big change for the province. Also in a federal election year it makes an interesting note. Meanwhile the federal Conservatives waste no time coining the term Alberastan which probably is not a way to open a dialogue to win some votes from one of their traditional power houses.

Asia

Jailed Malaysian opposition leader’s wife wins his seat – Al Jazeera English

With other much more covered elections, this one was also interesting and noteworthy.

Wan Azizah Wan Ismail – a medical doctor and mother of six – took the seat in the northern state of Penan… Anwar was imprisoned for five years on charges that he sodomised a former male aide, a case he says was fabricated by the government.

Europe

U.K. election 2015: Conservatives defy polls, win slim majority – World – CBC News

UK election results are in in a heavily watched and surprising election with the Conservatives getting a majority, and the LibDems getting routed by SNP which got record highs (like 5x more than ever before). And after it was all said and done 3 party leaders resigned: Labour, LibDem, and UKIP

France under surveillance – Al Jazeera English

A new French bill gives sweeping powers to intelligence services, while bypassing the judiciary.

Science

Study: Beijing babies born heavier during Olympics – Al Jazeera English

Where baby birth weight is being used as a proxy variable for mother/population health. Not exactly news that mass smog makes people unhealthy, but just another fascinating symptom and example.

Space Radiation May Alter Astronauts’ Neurons – Slashdot

a study in mice suggests these particles could alter the shape of neurons, impairing astronauts’ memories and other cognitive abilities. In the prefrontal cortex, a brain region associated with executive function, a range of high-level cognitive tasks such as reasoning, short-term memory, and problem-solving, neurons had 30% to 40% fewer branches

Russian Cargo Mission To ISS Spinning Out of Control – Slashdot
Russian Cargo Spacehip Declared Lost – Slashdot

Follow up :(

The Russians are now considering delaying the next manned launch, scheduled for May 26, while they investigate this failure.

Finance & Markets

Millionaires just as stressed as the rest of us – Business – CBC News

Article says $1 million no longer enough. A study on stress levels says that not until $5M achieved did people start relaxing. Quick math backs this assertion. Also means everyone has a lot of saving to be doing.

Privacy

NSA Reform Bill Backed By Both Parties Set To Pass House of Representatives – Slashdot

Although as someone pointed out, this is just curtailing their surveillance of American citizens, so all the rest of us are still protectionless. And any communication with someone that could be classified as a non-America is still “fair game”.

Technology

Microsoft launches Visual Studio Code, cross-platform code editor for OS X, Linux and Windows

It’s pretty amazing to see how far MS has come from their ~2002 “Linux is a cancer” stance to Ubuntu taking centre stage at their Build 2015 conference as we see their new truly cross platform IDE. They continue to surprise post Balmer.

Crowdfunded Android Console Ouya Reportedly Seeking Buyout – Slashdot

As an Ouya owner I’m sad to hear this but not surprised. Seems like things aren’t going well over there. I recall in it’s pre launch hayday there was talks of a yearly hardware refresh which hasn’t come through either.

Tattoos Found To Interfere With Apple Watch Sensors – Slashdot

Hopefully just first gen issues.

Microsoft turns Windows 10 phones into desktops

This has the potential to be pretty cool. Also sad that Canonical had and advertised this idea a few years ago but still seem to be the same “a few years” away from delivering it. 16.04 at the earliest but I wouldn’t bet on that. MS is stealing their thunder. One might argue they should have been less ambitious etc but it’s probably a conversation for a different time.

A Light-Powered Retina Implant For the Blind – Slashdot

the Argus II only produces vision of about 20/1200. A new implant in the pipeline from Stanford University has already achieved 20/250 vision in rats, and is aiming at 20/120, which would be below the legal threshold for blindness.

Keurig backs down on K-Cup coffee pod strategy – Business – CBC News

CEO says on earnings call they will back off on DRM and allow 3rd party cups and that they had “no idea” how much people liked them. I’d say they really tried hard not to know that, but at least in this case the market gave them a swift kick. Wish we’d see this more often.

Security

Unnoticed For Years, Malware Turned Linux Servers Into Spamming Machines – Slashdot

Concerning.

Notes

The Psychology of Computer Programming

Reading this book I came across an interesting discussion on “training” vs “education” whereby he termed “education” as the “acquisition of general principals and skill” and training as the “acquisition of specific skills”. Think of terms like “driver training”, “military training” vs “collage education”. Further he went on to hypothesis that “education may be impossible without certain training as perquisite” (especially in the context of computer programming). I found e interesting food for thought when thinking about the different education available for programmers and what makes different programmers and careers. Also the idea that students should ever get out of an education “ready to work” is unreasonable as that is where they have gone to get general principals and some minor training, but any work place will require additional training.


In lieu of…

So instead of keeping up with the news and writing a new post I’ve been pouring what spare time I have into this new project I spun up last week: transmet. It’s got a good start, hoping it won’t take too long, and when do should make the act of saving links a lot more effective for spitting out blog posts as it will spit out saved links for a give time range into an html template with tree-d headers by category. Ideally, just proof and maybe add a little more commentary.