Links for 2018-12-18

  • Remove Background from Image

    A fully automated background-removal tool. Nicely done

    (tags: images editing tools background graphics)

  • Google used a Baidu front-end to scrape user searches without consent

    The engineers used the data they pulled from [acquired Baidu front-end site] 265.com to learn about the kinds of things that people located in mainland China routinely search for in Mandarin. This helped them to build a prototype of Dragonfly. The engineers used the sample queries from 265.com, for instance, to review lists of websites Chinese people would see if they typed the same word or phrase into Google. They then used a tool they called “BeaconTower” to check whether any websites in the Google search results would be blocked by China’s internet censorship system, known as the Great Firewall. Through this process, the engineers compiled a list of thousands of banned websites, which they integrated into the Dragonfly search platform so that it would purge links to websites prohibited in China, such as those of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and British news broadcaster BBC. Under normal company protocol, analysis of people’s search queries is subject to tight constraints and should be reviewed by the company’s privacy staff, whose job is to safeguard user rights. But the privacy team only found out about the 265.com data access after The Intercept revealed it, and were “really pissed,” according to one Google source.

    (tags: china search tech google privacy baidu interception censorship great-firewall dragonfly)

  • awslabs/amazon-kinesis-scaling-utils

    The Kinesis Scaling Utility is designed to give you the ability to scale Amazon Kinesis Streams in the same way that you scale EC2 Auto Scaling groups – up or down by a count or as a percentage of the total fleet. You can also simply scale to an exact number of Shards. There is no requirement for you to manage the allocation of the keyspace to Shards when using this API, as it is done automatically. You can also deploy the Web Archive to a Java Application Server, and allow Scaling Utils to automatically manage the number of Shards in the Stream based on the observed PUT or GET rate of the stream.

    (tags: kinesis scaling scalability shards sharding ops)

  • The “Bart” — sudden hundreds-of-Bitcoin pumps or dumps, to burn the margin traders

    Finance journalists need to stop treating crypto as an efficient market that responds to concerns. It’s a thinly-traded unregulated playground for whales, out to wreck the margin traders. A $400 dip in fifteen minutes is not a “market signal” — it’s a deliberate dump to manipulate the price. Though there’s still downward pressure on the price — all the suckers from the bubble have gone home, so they’re not buying … but the miners still have to sell coins for actual money to pay for their electricity. And even more so now that the price of mining one bitcoin is at — or above — what you could get for selling that bitcoin. So one minute you’ll see a sudden $100 increase in the price that cost 130 BTC of dollars — and those are actual dollars going in — followed the next minute by a matching $100 drop that came from selling only 30 BTC. It’s much easier to drop the price than raise it.

    (tags: investing bitcoin via:harikunzru cryptocurrency pump-and-dump barts finance margin-traders currencies fraud)

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