Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Phone Hijacking Security Flaw

NYT: "Identity Thieves Hijack Cellphone Accounts to Go After Virtual Currency"

Better iPhone Security

"The Next iOS Update Has a Feature to Prevent Cops From Searching Your iPhone":
In the new iOS 11, if you quickly tap your home button five times, the phone reverts to a password-only screen lock (with an option to dial 911 if needed). Reverting to a password-only mode offers an extra layer of privacy protection from a police officer, or an abusive partner, or anyone else who may force or coerce a person into touching their iPhone to unlock it...

The new feature should be of particular interest to protesters or anyone else who would rather the police not read all their contacts and text messages. Currently, you have to navigate through settings and multiple screens to change how your phone is secured—which is difficult to do rapidly if you sense an impending arrest. With the update, if you think you might get approached by law enforcement, you can just reach into your pocket and tap the button five times.
This feature helps in jurisdictions where the police are allowed to compel you to touch a finger to the phone, but not allowed to compel you to disclose a password/passcode.

Pao On Sexism In Silicon Valley

Ellen Pao: "This Is How Sexism Works in Silicon Valley"

Assuming her account is accurate, here are my initial reactions:

1) She wasn't treated well by her business partners. Certainly, the male physician partners in my own medical practice would not treat a female partner this way.

2) She's obviously giving her version of events, so take that for what it's worth.

3) I guess some folks in the SF Bay area don't necessarily live up to the region's reputation of "progressive", we-value-tolerance-and-diversity culture.

4) Pao later became CEO of Reddit. But had to resign after she made some very unpopular decisions, including firing a much beloved (female) senior staff member. And thus sparking a huge internal revolt. Pao's tenure at Reddit doesn't have any bearing on the merits of her claim about her lawsuit. But it does show how thing turned out when she was given top authority in an organization.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

EFF On Free Speech

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) takes a strong stance in support of free speech, even for odious groups:
[T]he Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning of the dangers of censoring speech, no matter how horrendous or offensive.

'All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country,' the San Francisco-based online advocacy group said in a blog post Thursday. 'But we must also recognize that on the Internet, any tactic used now to silence neo-Nazis will soon be used against others, including people whose opinions we agree with.'
Good for them!

Drug Drones

Drug cartels using heavy-duty industrial drones to smuggle drugs across the border.

Whiskey Better WIth Water

"Chemists Say You Should Add A Little Water To Your Whiskey. Here's Why"

Monday, August 21, 2017

Friday, August 18, 2017

Humans Love Blankets

"Why Do We Sleep Under Blankets, Even on the Hottest Nights?"

Campus Postmodernism

Scientific American: "The Unfortunate Fallout of Campus Postmodernism".

Take-home point: "If you teach students to be warriors against all power asymmetries, don't be surprised when they turn on their professors and administrators."

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Terminator Conundrum

"Earlier this month, the Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov Group made a low-key announcement with frightening implications. The company revealed it had developed a range of combat robots that are fully automated and used artificial intelligence to identify targets and make independent decisions..."

"Known informally inside the corridors of the Pentagon as 'the Terminator conundrum,' the question being asked is whether stifling the development of these types of weapons would actually allow other less ethically minded countries to leap ahead? Or is it a greater danger to ultimately allow machines the ability to make life or death decisions?"

Secret Amazon Brands

"Amazon owns a whole collection of secret brands"

Old Fruitcake

"100-Year-Old Fruitcake Found in Antarctica Is 'Almost' Edible"

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Historical Reactions To Solar Eclipses

"A history of solar eclipses and bizarre responses to them"

Goldfish and Alcohol

"During the winter, goldfish and their relatives can have a blood-alcohol concentration beyond the legal limit for drink driving."

Dr. Smartphone

"The airplane had just taken off when one of the passengers lost consciousness."
Eric Topol pulled his smartphone out of his pocket and immediately performed an electrocardiogram (EKG) on the passenger. He used the device to do an ultrasound scan of the man's heart and measured oxygen levels in his blood. He was then able to give the all-clear and the plane could continue its journey. The man had lost consciousness merely due to a temporarily slowed heart rhythm.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Recipe Videos In The Style Of Famous Directors

"Hilarious recipe videos in the style of famous directors"

My favorite: "What if Tarantino made Spaghetti & Meatballs?"

Free Old Music

"Philly company digitizes 25,000 old records and they're free to download"

Russian Casino Hacker

"Meet Alex, the Russian Casino Hacker Who Makes Millions Targeting Slot Machines":
Alex defends his enterprise as cunning but by no means criminal. “We, in fact, do not meddle with the machines — there is no actual hacking taking place,” he says. “My agents are just gamers, like the rest of them. Only they are capable of making better predictions in their betting. Yes, that capability is gained through my technology, it’s true. But why should it be against the law? On the basic level, it’s like using a calculator for counting faster and more accurately, rather than relying on one’s natural capacity.”

Monday, August 14, 2017

Eclipses Feel Weird

"A Total Solar Eclipse Feels Really, Really Weird"

Parenting As Viewed Through Cartoons

"Changing Parenting Attitudes, as Seen Through New Yorker Cartoons"

Malicious Code In DNA

"In a mind-boggling world first, a team of biologists and security researchers have successfully infected a computer with a malicious program coded into a strand of DNA"

Friday, August 11, 2017

Bad Password Rules

"The Guy Who Invented Those Annoying Password Rules Now Regrets Wasting Your Time"

Underwater Post Office

"Whale Mail Is the New Snail Mail at the World’s First Underwater Post Office"