Links for 2016-06-26

  • There are liars and then there’s Boris Johnson and Michael Gove

    Post-brexit post-mortem from Nicholas Cohen in the grauniad:

    The Vote Leave campaign followed the tactics of the sleazy columnist to the letter. First, it came out with the big, bold solution: leave. Then it dismissed all who raised well-founded worries with “the country is sick of experts”. Then, like Johnson the journalist, it lied.

    (tags: eu politics uk brexit boris-johnson michael-gove)

  • ‘If you’ve got money, you vote in … if you haven’t got money, you vote out’ | Politics | The Guardian

    The prime minister evidently thought that the whole debate could be cleanly started and finished in a matter of months. His Eton contemporary Boris Johnson – and, really, can you believe that the political story of the last four months has effectively been a catastrophic contest between two people who went to the same exclusive school? – opportunistically embraced the cause of Brexit in much the same spirit. What they had not figured out was that a diffuse, scattershot popular anger had not yet decisively found a powerful enough outlet, but that the staging of a referendum and the cohering of the leave cause would deliver exactly that. Ukip were held back by both the first-past-the-post electoral system, and the polarising qualities of Farage, but the coalition for Brexit effectively neutralised both. And so it came to pass: the cause of leaving the EU, for so long the preserve of cranks and chancers, attracted a share of the popular vote for which any modern political party would give its eye teeth.

    (tags: brexit europe eu uk eton ukip politics)

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Links for 2016-06-23

  • In Wisconsin, a Backlash Against Using Data to Foretell Defendants’ Futures – The New York Times

    More trial-by-algorithm horrors:

    Company officials say the algorithm’s results are backed by research, but they are tight-lipped about its details. They do acknowledge that men and women receive different assessments, as do juveniles, but the factors considered and the weight given to each are kept secret. “The key to our product is the algorithms, and they’re proprietary,” said Jeffrey Harmon, Northpointe’s general manager. “We’ve created them, and we don’t release them because it’s certainly a core piece of our business. It’s not about looking at the algorithms. It’s about looking at the outcomes.” That secrecy is at the heart of Mr. Loomis’s lawsuit. His lawyer, Michael D. Rosenberg, who declined to be interviewed because of the pending appeal, argued that Mr. Loomis should be able to review the algorithm and make arguments about its validity as part of his defense. He also challenges the use of different scales for each sex. The Compas system, Mr. Rosenberg wrote in his brief, “is full of holes and violates the requirement that a sentence be individualized.”

    (tags: ethics compas sentencing wisconsin northpointe law trial-by-algorithm algorithms)

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Links for 2016-06-21

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Links for 2016-06-20

  • Holloways: Roads Tunneled into the Earth by Time

    Appearing like trenches dragged into the earth, sunken lanes, also called hollow-ways or holloways, are centuries-old thoroughfares worn down by the traffic of time. They’re one of the few examples of human-made infrastructure still serving its original purpose, although many who walk through holloways don’t realize they’re retracing ancient steps.

    (tags: cool hiking geography roads paths holloways psychogeography lanes)

  • Terrorism and internet blocking – is this the most ridiculous amendment ever? – EDRi

    So, there you have it: Blocking is necessary, except it is not. Safeguards need to be implemented, except they don’t need to be. This approach is legal, except it isn’t. The text is based on the Child Exploitation Directive, except it isn’t. Is this really how we are going to create credible legislation on terrorism?

    (tags: edri blocking internet censorship eu ep)

  • E-Voting in Estonia needs to be discontinued

    After studying other e-voting systems around the world, the team was particularly alarmed by the Estonian I-voting system. It has serious design weaknesses that are exacerbated by weak operational management. It has been built on assumptions which are outdated and do not reflect the contemporary reality of state-level attacks and sophisticated cybercrime. These problems stem from fundamental architectural problems that cannot be resolved with quick fixes or interim steps. While we believe e-government has many promising uses, the Estonian I-voting system carries grave risks — elections could be stolen, disrupted, or cast into disrepute. In light of these problems, our urgent recommendation is that to maintain the integrity of the Estonian electoral process, use of the Estonian I-voting system should be immediately discontinued.

    (tags: internet technology e-voting voting security via:mattblaze estonia i-voting russia cybercrime)

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Links for 2016-06-18

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Links for 2016-06-16

  • The Irish Internet in the 1980s

    from Dr Mark Humphrys in DCU:

    A collection of bits and pieces of Internet history. Focusing somewhat (but not exclusively) on: (a) the 1980s, when I first started using the Internet, and: (b) Ireland.

    (tags: mark-humphrys dcu history tcd bitnet ireland internet web www 1980s)

  • TechArchives

    I need to get in touch about the early days of the Irish web!

    an online home for stories from Ireland – stories about the country’s long and convoluted relationship with information technology. It aims to gather information on the most significant aspects of this relationship, to compile archives on the selected themes, and to store the assembled records for the benefit of future generations.

    (tags: web ireland history internet www)

  • The History of the Irish Internet

    This site is a companion effort to the techarchives website, except it is less well-researched, and is primarily a personal view of the development of the Internet in Ireland by your humble author, Niall Murphy.

    (tags: niallm internet ireland history networking heanet ieunet)

  • What’s Actually Wrong with Yahoo’s Purchase of Summly

    An old post about Y!’s acquisition of Summly, an iPhone app which uses NLP to summarise news stories. This is an excellent point about modern tech startups:

    [Summly] licensed the core engine from another company. They are the quintessential bolt-on engineers, taking a Japanese bike engine, slapping together a badly constructed frame aligned solely by eyeballs, and laying down a marketing blitz. That’s why the story sells. “You, too, can do it.” But do you want to? [...] it’s critical to keep tabs on the ratio known as “glue versus thought.” Sure, both imply progress and both are necessary. But the former is eminently mundane, replaceable, and outsource-able. The latter is typically what gives a company its edge, what is generally regarded as a competitive advantage. So, what is Yahoo signaling to the world? “We value glue more than thought.”

    (tags: glue thought glue-vs-thought summly yahoo acquisitions licensing tech startups outsourcing open-source)

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Links for 2016-06-15

  • What the Irish Ate Before Potatoes – Bon Appétit

    on the history of Irish cuisine — mostly milk and butter, and notably “bog butter”:

    And the Irish didn’t like their butter just one way: from the 12th century on, there are records of butter flavored with onion and garlic, and local traditions of burying butter in bogs. Originally, it’s thought that bog butter began as a good storage system, but after a time, buried bog butter came to be valued for its uniquely boggy flavor.

    (tags: bog-butter bogs ireland food eating milk curds whey banbidh dairy)

  • The tyranny of the algorithm yet again…

    Paypal will no longer handle payments if the user’s address includes the word “Isis”:

    That these place names exist won’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with English limnology – the study of rivers and inland waters. As Wikipedia helpfully tells us, “The Isis is the name given to the part of the River Thames above Iffley Lock which flows through the university city of Oxford”. In at least one local primary school I’m familiar with, the classes are called Windrush, Cherwell, Isis and Thames. [...] Now PayPal has decided that they are not prepared to facilitate payments for goods to be delivered to an address which includes the word “Isis”. An Isis street resident ran into some unexpected difficulties when attempting to purchase a small quantity of haberdashery on the internet with the aid of a PayPal account. The transaction would not process. In puzzlement she eventually got irritated enough to brave the 24/7 customer support telephone tag labyrinth. The short version of the response from the eventual real person she managed to get through to was that PayPal have blacklisted addresses which include the name “Isis”. They will not process payments for goods to be delivered to an Isis related address, whatever state of privileged respectability the residents of such properties may have earned or inherited in their lifetimes to this point.
    One has to wonder if this also brings the risk of adding the user to a secret list, somewhere. Trial by algorithm.

    (tags: isis algorithms automation fail law-enforcement paypal uk rivers)

  • Can the United Kingdom government legally disregard a vote for Brexit?

    Oh thank god, there’s a “get out of jail” card before they destroy the global economy to appease the eurosceptics.

    On the day after a vote for Brexit, the UK will still be a member state of the EU. All the legislation which gives effect to EU law will still be in place. Nothing as a matter of law changes in any way just because of a vote to Leave. What will make all the legal difference is not a decision to leave by UK voters in a non-binding advisory vote, but the decision of the prime minister on how to react before making any Article 50 notification. And what the prime minister will do politically after a referendum vote for Brexit is, at the moment, as unknown as the result of the result of the referendum itself.

    (tags: brexit law uk government referenda eurosceptics eu)

  • Insurance Comparison Ireland

    comparison-shopping site for Irish car insurance. recommended by some random Broadsheet commenter, worth a try next time this comes up

    (tags: comparison shopping ireland car-insurance insurance)

  • Differential Privacy

    Apple have announced they plan to use it; Google use a DP algorithm called RAPPOR in Chrome usage statistics. In summary: “novel privacy technology that allows inferring statistics about populations while preserving the privacy of individual users”.

    (tags: apple privacy anonymization google rappor algorithms sampling populations statistics differential-privacy)

  • Sample letter to refuse permission for a child’s data to be transferred into POD – Tuppenceworth.ie blog

    The Department of Education has issued a new circular accepting it cannot defund the education of children whose parents do not want their kid’s data to be in POD [the privacy-infringing database of all Irish primary-school children]. They’ll only accept a written request as the basis of that refusal, however. So, here’s one you can use that meets the requirements. Send or give it to your school.

    (tags: pod privacy ireland children kids school)

  • Three starts network-level ad blocking trial

    Three, the mobile carrier, has begun warming up for a network-level ad blocking trial. It will become one of the first mobile carriers worldwide—and certainly in the UK—to try blocking ads before they are squirted over the network to the consumer, rather than attempting to hide or block ads locally on the device, which can cost both bandwidth and battery life. The ad blocking trial, which will affect both mobile websites and apps, will take place during a 24-hour period sometime between June 13 and 20. Three says it will contact customers and ask them to sign up for the trial, presumably via the online customer portal. It isn’t clear how large the trial will be. Technologically, the network-level ad blocking will be powered by Shine. Due to the nature of the beast—the constant tussle between ad publishers and ad blockers—Shine doesn’t like to talk about its tech in much detail. It sounds like Shine uses deep packet inspection and machine learning to find packets that contain ads, and then replaces or removes them in such a way that it doesn’t break the layout of the website or app.

    (tags: shine three uk adblocking mobile isps)

  • Some thoughts on operating containers

    R.I.Pienaar talks about the conventions he uses when containerising; looks like a decent approach.

    (tags: ops containers docker ripienaar packaging)

  • ClickHouse — open-source distributed column-oriented DBMS

    ‘ClickHouse manages extremely large volumes of data in a stable and sustainable manner. It currently powers Yandex.Metrica, world’s second largest web analytics platform, with over 13 trillion database records and over 20 billion events a day, generating customized reports on-the-fly, directly from non-aggregated data. This system was successfully implemented at CERN’s LHCb experiment to store and process metadata on 10bn events with over 1000 attributes per event registered in 2011.’ Yandex-tastic, but still looks really interesting

    (tags: yandex analytics database storage sql clickhouse)

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Links for 2016-06-14

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Links for 2016-06-13

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Links for 2016-06-08

  • Stop it with short PGP key IDs!

    What happened today? We still don’t really know, but it seems we found a first potentially malicious collision — that is, the first “nonacademic” case. Enrico found two keys sharing the 9F6C6333 short ID, apparently belonging to the same person (as would be the case of Asheesh, mentioned above). After contacting Gustavo, though, he does not know about the second — That is, it can be clearly regarded as an impersonation attempt. Besides, what gave away this attempt are the signatures it has: Both keys are signed by what appears to be the same three keys: B29B232A, F2C850CA and 789038F2. Those three keys are not (yet?) uploaded to the keyservers, though… But we can expect them to appear at any point in the future. We don’t know who is behind this, or what his purpose is. We just know this looks very evil. Now, don’t panic: Gustavo’s key is safe. Same for his certifiers, Marga, Agustín and Maxy. It’s just a 32-bit collision. So, in principle, the only parties that could be cheated to trust the attacker are humans, right? Nope. Enrico tested on the PGP pathfinder & key statistics service, a keyserver that finds trust paths between any two arbitrary keys in the strong set. Surprise: The pathfinder works on the short key IDs, even when supplied full fingerprints. So, it turns out I have three faked trust paths into our impostor.

    (tags: pgp gpg keys collisions hashing security debian)

  • UK at serious risk of over-blocking content online, human rights watchdog warns | Ars Technica UK

    The IWF in the spotlight…

    The blacklist operated by the IWF effectively amounts to censorship. Not only are the blacklist and notices sent to members of the IWF kept secret, but there is no requirement to notify website owners when their site has been added to the blacklist. Even where statutory rules do exist with respect to notice and take-down procedures (namely, the Terrorism Act 2006 and the Defamation (Operators of Websites) Regulations 2013), the provisions are not so concerned with safeguards for the protection of freedom of expression, as with offering an exemption from liability for ISPs.

    (tags: iwf censorship uk filtering coe eu europe)

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Links for 2016-06-07

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Links for 2016-06-03

  • FullPageOS Automatically Boots Your Raspberry Pi Into a Full Page Web Kiosk Mode

    set up to boot into a full-screen Chromium window on boot. This means if you’re using your Pi to power an information display, you won’t need to go through the process of disabling screen savers, editing display size, and forcing full-screen mode on your own. All you need to do is install FullPageOS on an SD card, then edit a TXT file to include your Wi-Fi network info and the URL you want it to load up.

    (tags: kiosks raspberry-pi fullpageos chrome chromium web appliances hacks)

  • _Could a Neuroscientist Understand a Microprocessor?_

    ‘There is a popular belief in neuroscience that we are primarily data limited, that producing large, multimodal, and complex datasets will, enabled by data analysis algorithms, lead to fundamental insights into the way the brain processes information. Microprocessors are among those artificial information processing systems that are both complex and that we understand at all levels, from the overall logical flow, via logical gates, to the dynamics of transistors. Here we take a simulated classical microprocessor as a model organism, and use our ability to perform arbitrary experiments on it to see if popular data analysis methods from neuroscience can elucidate the way it processes information. We show that the approaches reveal interesting structure in the data but do not meaningfully describe the hierarchy of information processing in the processor. This suggests that current approaches in neuroscience may fall short of producing meaningful models of the brain.’ via Bryan O’Sullivan.

    (tags: via:bos neuroscience microprocessors 6502 computers hardware wetware brain biology neural-systems)

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Links for 2016-06-02

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Links for 2016-06-01

  • ztellman/dirigiste

    ‘centrally-planned object and thread pools’ for java. ‘In the default JVM thread pools, once a thread is created it will only be retired when it hasn’t performed a task in the last minute. In practice, this means that there are as many threads as the peak historical number of concurrent tasks handled by the pool, forever. These thread pools are also poorly instrumented, making it difficult to tune their latency or throughput. Dirigiste provides a fast, richly instrumented version of a java.util.concurrent.ExecutorService, and provides a means to feed that instrumentation into a control mechanism that can grow or shrink the pool as needed. Default implementations that optimize the pool size for thread utilization are provided. It also provides an object pool mechanism that uses a similar feedback mechanism to resize itself, and is significantly simpler than the Apache Commons object pool implementation.’ Great metric support, too.

    (tags: async jvm dirigiste java threadpools concurrency utilization capacity executors object-pools object-pooling latency)

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Links for 2016-05-31

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Links for 2016-05-30

  • Green/Blue Deployments with AWS Lambda and CloudFormation – done right

    Basically, use a Lambda to put all instances from an ASG into the ELB, then remove the old ASG

    (tags: asg elb aws lambda deployment ops blue-green-deploys)

  • Six Years of Hacker News Comments about Twilio

    love it.

    (tags: twilio hn hackernews funny tech)

  • fiunchinho/dockerize-me

    ‘Tired of copy/pasting Dockerfiles around? Not sure about best practices for Dockerfiles or Docker entry points? This tool lets you Dockerize your applications using best practices to define your Dockerfile and Docker entry point files.’ The best practices in question are defined here: https://github.com/docker-library/official-images#review-guidelines

    (tags: docker dockerfile images build best-practices alpine containers)

  • grammarly/rocker

    backward compatible replacement for Dockerfile. Yes, you can take any Dockerfile, rename it to Rockerfile and use rocker build instead of docker build. … Rocker aims to solve the following use cases, which are painful with plain Docker: Mount reusable volumes on build stage, so dependency management tools may use cache between builds. Share ssh keys with build (for pulling private repos, etc.), while not leaving them in the resulting image. Build and run application in different images, be able to easily pass an artifact from one image to another, ideally have this logic in a single Dockerfile. Tag/Push images right from Dockerfiles. Pass variables from shell build command so they can be substituted to a Dockerfile. And more. These are the most critical issues that were blocking our adoption of Docker at Grammarly. The most challenging part is caching. While implementing those features seems to be not a big deal, it’s not trivial to do that just by utilising Docker’s image cache (the one that docker build does). Actually, it is the main reason why those features are still not in Docker. With Rocker we achieve this by introducing a set of trade-offs. Search this page for “trade-off” to find out more details.

    (tags: docker rocker build containers dockerfiles)

  • How big an issue is the nausea problem for Virtual Reality products? – Quora

    Sadly (because I want a “holodeck” as much as the next red-blooded geek) – I don’t think it’s possible to make a VR system that both delivers the experience that everyone wants – and doesn’t make a sizeable proportion of the population so sick that they’ll never want to do it again. For the people who can stomach the display – my major concern is that the US Navy studies show that there is some disorientation that might persist long after finishing your game…so driving a car while “under the influence” of post-VR disorientation is probably as dangerous as drunk-driving. If these devices are in pretty much every home – then there are huge problems in store for the industry in terms of product liability. There have been plenty of warnings from the flight simulation industry – there are no excuses for not reading the Wikipedia article on the subject. If people are driving “under the influence” and the VR companies didn’t warn them about that – then they’re in deep trouble. IMHO, these consumer-grade VR devices should be carefully studied and if they do cause possible driving impairment, they should be banned until such time as the problems can be fixed…which may very well be “never”. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
    (via Tony Finch)

    (tags: holodeck vr oculus-rift hmds nausea head-mounted-displays biology brain flight-simulation)

  • Why do Selenium-style record/replay tests of web applications break?

    good data! Mostly because of element locations it seems….

    (tags: selenium testing web locators papers qa tests)

  • LinkedIn called me a white supremacist

    Wow. Massive, massive algorithm fail.

    n the morning of May 12, LinkedIn, the networking site devoted to making professionals “more productive and successful,” emailed scores of my contacts and told them I’m a professional racist. It was one of those updates that LinkedIn regularly sends its users, algorithmically assembled missives about their connections’ appearances in the media. This one had the innocent-sounding subject, “News About William Johnson,” but once my connections clicked in, they saw a small photo of my grinning face, right above the headline “Trump put white nationalist on list of delegates.” [.....] It turns out that when LinkedIn sends these update emails, people actually read them. So I was getting upset. Not only am I not a Nazi, I’m a Jewish socialist with family members who were imprisoned in concentration camps during World War II. Why was LinkedIn trolling me?

    (tags: ethics fail algorithm linkedin big-data racism libel)

  • [RFE] add a way to run in a new systemd scope automatically · Issue #428 · tmux/tmux

    omgwtfbbq. 1: User reports that their gnome session leaks processes; 2: systemd modifies default session behaviour to kill all processes, including screen/tmux; 3: _everyone_ complains because they break 30 years of UNIX process semantics, then 4: they request that tmux/screen hack their shit to workaround their brokenness. Get fucked, systemd. This is the kind of shit that would finally drive me to BSDland

    (tags: systemd horror linux fail unix gnome tmux bugs omgwtfbbq)

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Links for 2016-05-27

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Links for 2016-05-26

  • Anti-Choice Groups Use Smartphone Surveillance to Target ‘Abortion-Minded Women’ During Clinic Visits – Rewire

    Geofencing used for evil:

    What Flynn realized is that he could use [ad targeting] to infer that a woman might be seeking an abortion, and to target her for ads from anti-choice groups [using geofenced advertising]. “We can reach every Planned Parenthood in the U.S.,” he wrote in a PowerPoint display sent to potential clients in February. The Powerpoint included a slide titled “Targets for Pro-Life,” in which Flynn said he could also reach abortion clinics, hospitals, doctors’ offices, colleges, and high schools in the United States and Canada, and then “[d]rill down to age and sex.” “We can gather a tremendous amount of information from the [smartphone] ID,” he wrote. “Some of the break outs include: Gender, age, race, pet owners, Honda owners, online purchases and much more.” Flynn explained that he would then use that data to send anti-choice ads to women “while they’re at the clinic.”

    (tags: geofencing grim-meathook-future abortion phones smartphones pro-choice ads)

  • Live Streaming Security Games

    Rapid Fire is a special event we started hosting at our own in-person CTFs in 2014. The idea is pretty simple: Create several CTF challenges that can be solved in a few minutes each. Set up the challenges on 4 identical computers with some basic tools. Mirror the player’s screens so the audience can watch their actions. Whoever solves the most challenges the fastest wins. This event is interesting for a number of reasons: the players are under intense pressure, as everything they do is being watched by several people; the audience can watch several different approaches to the same problems; and people can follow along fairly easily with what is going on with the challenges.
    With e-sports-style video!

    (tags: gaming hacking security e-sports streaming twitch ctf)

  • Open Sourcing Twitter Heron

    Twitter are open sourcing their Storm replacement, and moving it to an independent open source foundation

    (tags: open-source twitter heron storm streaming architecture lambda-architecture)

  • Why the Very Silly Oracle v. Google Trial Actually Matters

    If it’s illegal to write clean room implementations of APIs, then no one has clean hands. The now-shelved open source project Apache Harmony, like Android, reimplemented Java SE, and tech giant IBM contributed code to that project. Oracle itself built its business off a proprietary implementation of SQL, which was created by IBM. The proposition “Reimplementations of APIs are infringements” creates a recursive rabbit hole of liability that spans across the industry. Even the very 37 Java APIs at issue in this trial contain reimplementations of other APIs. Google witness Joshua Bloch—who, while at Sun Microsystems, wrote many of the Java APIs—testified that specific Java APIs are reimplementations of other APIs from Perl 5 and the C programming language.

    (tags: apis fair-use copyright ip android java google oracle law)

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Links for 2016-05-24

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Links for 2016-05-23

  • 100 thieves steal $13m in three hours from cash machines across Japan

    ‘Police believe that as many as 100 people, none of whom have been apprehended, worked together using forged credit cards containing account details illegally obtained from a bank in South Africa. The culprits used the fake cards at 1,400 convenience store automated teller machines on the morning of 15 May, according to police. Each made a single withdrawal of 100,000 yen – the maximum allowed by the cash machines.’ 1,600 forged/stolen credit card credentials from a single bank, then a synchronised attack made possible by the eventually-consistent ledger model of ATM accounting. (via William Gibson)

    (tags: atms banking japan fraud security credit-cards)

  • Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet

    Automated DMCA takedowns used to fraudulently censor online content.

    In fact, no copyright infringement had occurred at all. Instead, something weirder had happened. At some point after Narey posted her comments on Mumsnet, someone had copied the entire text of one of her posts and pasted it, verbatim, to a spammy blog titled “Home Improvement Tips and Tricks”. The post, headlined “Buildteam interior designers” was backdated to September 14 2015, three months before Narey had written it, and was signed by a “Douglas Bush” of South Bend, Indiana. The website was registered to someone quite different, though: Muhammed Ashraf, from Faisalabad, Pakistan. Quite why Douglas Bush or Muhammed Ashraf would be reviewing a builder based in Clapham is not explained in “his” post. BuildTeam says it has no idea why Narey’s review was reposted, but that it had nothing to do with it. “At no material times have we any knowledge of why this false DCMA take down was filed, nor have we contracted any reputation management firms, or any individual or a group to take such action on our behalf. Finally, and in conjunction to the above, we have never spoken with a ‘Douglas Bush,’ or a ‘Muhammed Ashraf.’”

    (tags: fraud censorship mumsnet dmca takedowns google automation copyright)

  • 3 Reasons AWS Lambda Is Not Ready for Prime Time

    This totally matches my own preconceptions ;)

    When we at Datawire tried to actually use Lambda for a real-world HTTP-based microservice [...], we found some uncool things that make Lambda not yet ready for the world we live in: Lambda is a building block, not a tool; Lambda is not well documented; Lambda is terrible at error handling Lung skips these uncool things, which makes sense because they’d make the tutorial collapse under its own weight, but you can’t skip them if you want to work in the real world. (Note that if you’re using Lambda for event handling within the AWS world, your life will be easier. But the really interesting case in the microservice world is Lambda and HTTP.)

    (tags: aws lambda microservices datawire http api-gateway apis https python ops)

  • Machine Bias: There’s Software Used Across the Country to Predict Future Criminals. And it’s Biased Against Blacks. – ProPublica

    holy crap, this is dystopian:

    The first time Paul Zilly heard of his score — and realized how much was riding on it — was during his sentencing hearing on Feb. 15, 2013, in court in Barron County, Wisconsin. Zilly had been convicted of stealing a push lawnmower and some tools. The prosecutor recommended a year in county jail and follow-up supervision that could help Zilly with “staying on the right path.” His lawyer agreed to a plea deal. But Judge James Babler had seen Zilly’s scores. Northpointe’s software had rated Zilly as a high risk for future violent crime and a medium risk for general recidivism. “When I look at the risk assessment,” Babler said in court, “it is about as bad as it could be.” Then Babler overturned the plea deal that had been agreed on by the prosecution and defense and imposed two years in state prison and three years of supervision.

    (tags: dystopia law policing risk risk-assessment northpointe racism fortune-telling crime)

  • Guillermo Del Toro’s Tweetstorm About John Carpenter

    ‘Regarding [John] Carpenter: We all talk about inequalities in film. We can add a huge one: Genre inequality. Horror will always be punk rock!’

    (tags: horror punk john-carpenter movies film guillermo-del-toro)

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Links for 2016-05-20

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Links for 2016-05-19

  • PLOS ONE: Tyrannobdella rex N. Gen. N. Sp. and the Evolutionary Origins of Mucosal Leech Infestations

    Today in nose-leech news — the paper!

    Principal Findings: A new genus and species of leech from Perú was found feeding from the nasopharynx of humans. Unlike any other leech previously described, this new taxon has but a single jaw with very large teeth. Phylogenetic analyses of nuclear and mitochondrial genes using parsimony and Bayesian inference demonstrate that the new species belongs among a larger, global clade of leeches, all of which feed from the mucosal surfaces of mammals. Conclusions: This new species, found feeding from the upper respiratory tract of humans in Perú, clarifies an expansion of the family Praobdellidae to include the new species Tyrannobdella rex n. gen. n.sp., along with others in the genera Dinobdella, Myxobdella, Praobdella and Pintobdella. Moreover, the results clarify a single evolutionary origin of a group of leeches that specializes on mucous membranes, thus, posing a distinct threat to human health.

    (tags: leeches nose-leech papers science species tyrannobdella-rex horror)

  • Bike thief reveals tricks of the trade in this shockingly candid interview

    This is an eye-opener:

    A former bicycle thief has revealed the tricks of the trade in an interview, which clearly and shockingly shows the extent that thieves will go to in order to steal a bike. He talks about the motivations behind the theft, the tools used to crack locks and how the bikes were moved around and sold for a significant sum. He also gives tips on how to prevent your bike from being stolen. [...] ‘Don’t be fooled by Kryptonite locks, they’re not as tough as made out to be. Also D-bars with tubular locks, never use them, they’re the most easy to pick with a little tool. It’s small and discreet, no noise and it looks like you are just unlocking your bike. With the bolt cutters we would go out on high performance motorbikes, two men on a bike.’

    (tags: bikes locks bike-locks security london theft lockpicking d-locks)

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Links for 2016-05-18

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Links for 2016-05-15

  • Westminster social engineering to blame for ‘Glasgow effect’ mortality rate

    This is quite significant — scientific proof that austerity/social engineering policies cause higher mortality rates:

    Researchers found that the historic effect of overcrowding was an important factor and highlighted the strategies of local government, which prioritised the regeneration of the city centre over investment in the cities housing schemes as having a significant impact on the health of Glaswegians. Data shows that Glasgow authorities spent far less on housing repairs, leaving people’s homes poorly maintained and subject to damp. David Walsh, of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, said that their work proved that poor health had political causes and could not simply be attributed to individual lifestyle choices.

    (tags: glasgow-effect scotland poverty glasgow lifestyle health mortality housing policies uk)

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Links for 2016-05-13

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Links for 2016-05-06

  • plainas/tq

    command line utility that performs an HTML element selection on HTML content passed to the stdin. Using css selectors that everybody knows. Since input comes from stdin and output is sent to stdout, it can easily be used inside traditional UNIX pipelines to extract content from webpages and html files. tq provides extra formating options such as json-encoding or newlines squashing, so it can play nicely with everyones favourite command line tooling.

    (tags: tq linux unix cli command-line html parsing css tools)

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Links for 2016-05-05

  • Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously.

    some amazingly terrible product decisions here. Deleting local copies of unreleased WAV files — on the assumption that the user will simply listen to them streamed down from Apple Music — that is astonishingly bad, and it’s amazing they didn’t consider the “freelance composer” use case at all. (via Tony Finch)

    (tags: apple music terrible wav sound copyright streaming apple-music design product fail)

  • Rebel Without A Call.

    Purpose-built in 1898, the telephone exchange in Temple Bar was Dublin’s first automatic telephone exchange. Much like its newer neighbor, Internet House, it stood as a technological beacon shining through the luddite fog. With this in mind the Irish Citizen Army targeted the Telephone Exchange in 1916 as one of the communication hubs for the island. While many of us grew up learning of a history of ‘blood sacrifice’ and the futility of the Easter Rising, the truth is that the attack was meticulously planned both militarily and logistically. Sixty communication points around Dublin were hit in an effort to cut off all contact between British military forces within Ireland and to the ‘mainland’. The hope being that reserves and reinforcements would be delayed or misinformed.[...] Unfortunately for the rebels they could not take the Temple Bar exchange. A failure that would prove disastrous.

    (tags: temple-bar history dublin telephones communications 1916)

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Links for 2016-05-04

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Links for 2016-05-01

  • CoreOS and Prometheus: Building monitoring for the next generation of cluster infrastructure

    Ooh, this is a great plan. :applause:

    Enabling GIFEE — Google Infrastructure for Everyone Else — is a primary mission at CoreOS, and open source is key to that goal. [....] Prometheus was initially created to handle monitoring and alerting in modern microservice architectures. It steadily grew to fit the wider idea of cloud native infrastructure. Though it was not intentional in the original design, Prometheus and Kubernetes conveniently share the key concept of identifying entities by labels, making the semantics of monitoring Kubernetes clusters simple. As we discussed previously on this blog, Prometheus metrics formed the basis of our analysis of Kubernetes scheduler performance, and led directly to improvements in that code. Metrics are essential not just to keep systems running, but also to analyze and improve application behavior. All things considered, Prometheus was an obvious choice for the next open source project CoreOS wanted to support and improve with internal developers committed to the code base.

    (tags: monitoring coreos prometheus metrics clustering ops gifee google kubernetes)

  • Let Them Make Noise: A ‘Dining Club’ Invites Toddlers – NYTimes.com

    This is a great idea. I miss eating out, and this is why:

    Throughout our three-hour meal, babies cried, mothers nursed, toddlers shrieked and farro grains flew, but the atmosphere was surprisingly leisurely. There was no reason to be self-conscious about a crying-nursing-dancing child because everyone knew every other parent was in the same boat. Or would be in a few seconds. So we relaxed and ate. This is not fine dining as I once knew it, and that’s O.K. That’s what date night is for. But my daughter got her first lesson in how to behave at a fancy restaurant. And I got to finish a delicious meal while it was still warm, toddler in tow.

    (tags: kids food restaurants eating children toddlers)

  • Image Dithering: Eleven Algorithms and Source Code

    Nice demos

    (tags: algorithms graphics coding dithering floyd-steinberg)

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Links for 2016-04-29

  • A poem about Silicon Valley, made up of Quora questions about Silicon Valley

    Why do so many startups fail? Why are all the hosts on CouchSurfing male? Are we going to be tweeting for the rest of our lives? Why do Silicon Valley billionaires choose average-looking wives? What makes a startup ecosystem thrive? What do people plan to do once they’re over 35? Is an income of $160K enough to survive? What kind of car does Mark Zuckerberg drive? Are the real estate prices in Palo Alto crazy? Do welfare programs make poor people lazy? What are some of the biggest lies ever told? How do I explain Bitcoin to a 6-year-old? Why is Powdered Alcohol not successful so far? How does UberX handle vomiting in the car? Is being worth $10 million considered ‘rich’? What can be causing my upper lip to twitch? Why has crowdfunding not worked for me? Is it worth pre-ordering a Tesla Model 3? How is Clinkle different from Venmo and Square? Can karma, sometimes, be unfair? Why are successful entrepreneurs stereotypically jerks? Which Silicon Valley company has the best intern perks? What looks easy until you actually try it? How did your excretions change under a full Soylent diet? What are alternatives to online dating? Is living in small apartments debilitating? Why don’t more entrepreneurs focus on solving world hunger? What do you regret not doing when you were younger?

    (tags: funny tech poetry silicon-valley humour bitcoin soylent 2016)

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Links for 2016-04-28

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Links for 2016-04-25

  • Bots won’t replace apps. Better apps will replace apps

    As I’ll explain, messenger apps’ apparent success in fulfilling such a surprising array of tasks does not owe to the triumph of “conversational UI.” What they’ve achieved can be much more instructively framed as an adept exploitation of Silicon Valley phone OS makers’ growing failure to fully serve users’ needs, particularly in other parts of the world. Chat apps have responded by evolving into “meta-platforms.” Many of the platform-like aspects they’ve taken on to plaster over gaps in the OS actually have little to do with the core chat functionality. Not only is “conversational UI” a red herring, but as we look more closely, we’ll even see places where conversational UI has breached its limits and broken down.

    (tags: apps bots chatops chat ui messaging silicon-valley agents alexa siri phones)

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Links for 2016-04-22

  • How I Hacked Facebook, and Found Someone’s Backdoor Script

    Great writeup of a practical pen test. Those crappy proprietary appliances that get set up “so the CEO can read his email on the road” etc. are always a weak spot

    (tags: facebook hacking security exploits pen-tests backdoors)

  • Anti-innovation: EU excludes open source from new tech standards

    EC up to its old anti-competitive tricks:

    The European Commission is surprisingly coy about what exactly ['open'] means in this context. It is only on the penultimate page of the ICT Standardisation Priorities document that we finally read the following key piece of information: “ICT standardisation requires a balanced IPR [intellectual property rights] policy, based on FRAND licensing terms.” It’s no surprise that the Commission was trying to keep that particular detail quiet, because FRAND licensing—the acronym stands for “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory”—is incompatible with open source, which will therefore find itself excluded from much of the EU’s grand new Digital Single Market strategy. That’s hardly a “balanced IPR policy.”

    (tags: open-source open frand eu ec)

  • I am Alex St. John’s Daughter, and He is Wrong About Women in Tech — Medium

    Great, great post from Amilia St. John, responding to the offensive sexist crap spewed by her father, Alex St. John

    (tags: sexism career tech amilia-st-john alex-st-john jobs work feminism)

  • The Rise of Pirate Libraries

    The history of this is fascinating:

    Today’s pirate libraries have their roots in the work of Russian academics to digitize texts in the 1990s. Scholars in that part of the world had long had a thriving practice of passing literature and scientific information underground, in opposition to government censorship—part of the samizdat culture, in which banned documents were copied and passed hand to hand through illicit channels. Those first digital collections were passed freely around, but when their creators started running into problems with copyright, their collections “retreated from the public view,” writes Balázs Bodó, a piracy researcher based at the University of Amsterdam. “The text collections were far too valuable to simply delete,” he writes, and instead migrated to “closed, membership-only FTP servers.” [....] There’s always been osmosis within the academic community of copyrighted materials from people with access to scholar without. “Much of the life of a research academic in Kazakhstan or Iran or Malaysia involves this informal diffusion of materials across the gated walls of the top universities,” he says.

    (tags: pirates pirate-libraries libraries archival history russia ussr samizdat samizdata academia papers)

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