Links for 2016-08-09

  • TV detector vans may have been a con all along

    This is shaking my world view — although I find it more plausible that (as responses to,5753,-22440,00.html claim) they _did_ work until about 10-20 years ago, by detecting RF emissions from the local oscillator inside the TV. Ross Anderson, at , notes:

    During [..] World War II, radio engineering saw advances in radar, passive direction finding, and low-probability-of-intercept techniques, which I’ll discuss in the next chapter. By the 1960s, the stray RF leaking from the local oscillator signals in domestic television sets was being targeted by direction-finding equipment in “TV detector vans,” in Britain, where TV owners must pay an annual license fee that is supposed to support public broadcast services. Its use has since expanded to satellite and cable TV operators, who use detector vans to find pirate decoders. Some people in the computer security community were also aware that information could leak from cross-coupling and stray RF (see, for example, [259, 791]).

    (tags: rf radio tv bbc tv-licenses tv-license-detector-vans security emissions tempest)

  • “I Want to Know What Code Is Running Inside My Body” — Backchannel

    Sandler wants to be able to explore the code running her device for programming flaws and vulnerability to hacking, but she can’t. “Because I don’t have access to the source code, I have no power to do anything about it,” she says. In her eyes, it’s a particularly obvious example of a problem that now cuts across much of modern life: proprietary software has become crucial to daily survival, and yet is often locked away from public exploration and discussion by copyright.

    (tags: copyright safety health pacemakers law proprietary-software life medicine implants)

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Links for 2016-08-07

  • the Wire-Wire fraud

    ‘Researchers learn about wire-fraud scam after Nigerian scammers infect themselves with their own malware.’

    The researchers observed Wire-Wire scores of $5,000 to $250,000 with the average between $30,000-$50,000 from small- and medium-sized businesses. The scammers themselves were “well-respected and admired” in their communities.
    I’ve heard about this scam — it’s nasty, and worst of all, banks won’t reimburse the losses.

    (tags: scams fraud wire-wire nigeria malware banking)

  • Showing bottle: one man’s vision crafted a revolution

    A eulogy for Oliver Hughes, founder of the Porterhouse and Dingle Distillery, and arguably the progenitor of Ireland’s craft beer scene. I had the pleasure of sharing a table with him at a beer tasting in Sweeney’s off license a while back, and it was both educational and a good fun night. RIP

    (tags: oliver-hughes porterhouse beer ireland dublin dingle-distillery rip deaths)

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Links for 2016-08-06

  • Fake Time

    ‘FakeTime is simulated time.”

    When testing RealTime software a simulator is often employed, which injects events into the program which do not occur in RealTime. If you are writing software that controls or monitors some process that exists in the real world, it takes a long time to test it. But if you simulate it, there is no reason in the simulated software (if it is disconnected from the real world completely) not to make the apparent system time inside your software appear to move at a much faster rate. For example, I have written simulators that can verify the operational steps taken by industrial controllers over a 12 hour FakeTime period, which executes in 60 seconds. This allows me to run ’12 hours’ of fake time through my test cases and test scenarios, without waiting 12 hours for the testing to complete. Of course, after a successful fakeTime test, an industrial RealTime system still needs to be tested in non-simulated fashion.

    (tags: faketime time testing mocks mocking system-tests)

  • Introducing Winston

    ‘Event driven Diagnostic and Remediation Platform’ — aka ‘runbooks as code’

    (tags: runbooks winston netflix remediation outages mttr ops devops)

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Links for 2016-08-05

  • International Olympic Committee bans GIFs

    hahaha. gtfo, IOC

    (tags: gifs animation olympics sports tv events)

  • Ratas – A hierarchical timer wheel

    excellent explanation and benchmarks of a timer wheel implementation

    (tags: timer-wheels timing-wheels algorithms c linux timers data-structures)

  • AWS Case Study: mytaxi

    ECS, Docker, ELB, SQS, SNS, RDS, VPC, and spot instances. Pretty canonical setup these days…

    The mytaxi app is also now able to predict daily and weekly spikes. In addition, it has gained the elasticity required to meet demand during special events. Herzberg describes a typical situation on New Year’s Eve: “Shortly before midnight everyone needs a taxi to get to parties, and after midnight people want to go home. In past years we couldn’t keep up with the demand this generated, which was around three and a half times as high as normal. In November 2015 we moved our Docker container architecture to Amazon ECS, and for the first time ever in December we were able to celebrate a new year in which our system could handle the huge number of requests without any crashes or interruptions—an accomplishment that we were extremely proud of. We had faced the biggest night on the calendar without any downtime.”

    (tags: mytaxi aws ecs docker elb sqs sns rds vpc spot-instances ops architecture)

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Links for 2016-08-03

  • Exit Scam Survival Guide : Buttcoin

    Bitcoin lols:

    Honesty is most important. Be sure to carefully explain that (excluding the mountain of evidence to the contrary) there was no way to foresee the [Bitcoin] exchange hacking. Practice phrases like, “this operation was the most trustworthy exchange running out of a vacant building in Singapore” and “no we can’t just call the exchange, they don’t have a phone number”. If your significant other criticizes your decision to buy cryptocurrencies, be sure to fall back on technical merits of cryptocurrencies. Mention, “it’s backed by math” and “[insert cryptocurrency here] didn’t fail, people failed”.

    (tags: bitcoin buttcoin lol funny cryptocurrency security exchanges)

  • Prepaid Data SIM Card Wiki

    awesome resource.

    This WIKI collects information about prepaid (or PAYG) mobile phone plans from all over the world. Not just any plans though, they must include good data rates, perfect for smartphone travellers, as well as tablet or mobile modem users.

    (tags: data mobile travel sim prepaid payg)

  • awyisser

    ‘aw yiss comic generator’. AW YISS

    (tags: aw-yiss memes meme-generators funny kate-beaton)

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Links for 2016-07-28

  • Photographer Files $1 Billion Suit Against Getty for Licensing Her Public Domain Images

    Massive, massive copyright fail by Alamy and Getty Images.

    Since each violation of copyright in this case allows the plaintiff to seek damages up to $25,000, the statutory damages for Getty’s 18,755 violations amount to $468,875,000. But because the company was found to have violated the same copyright law within the past three years — in 2013, Daniel Morel was awarded $1.2 million in a suit against Getty, after the agency pulled his photos from Twitter and distributed them without permission to several major publications — Highsmith can elect to seek three times that amount: hence the $1 billion suit. “The economic damage that Ms. Highsmith has suffered includes, without limitation, any and all revenue received by the Defendants based on purported licenses sold for the Highsmith Photos. These funds represent money that Ms. Highsmith could have received had she attempted to monetize her photos through the Defendants,” the complaint states. “The injury to Ms. Highsmith’s reputation has been … severe,” it continues. “There is at least one example of a recipient of a threatening letter for use of a Highsmith Photo researching the issue and determining that Ms. Highsmith had made her photos freely available and free to use through the Library website. … Therefore, anyone who sees the Highsmith Photos and knows or learns of her gift to the Library could easily believe her to be a hypocrite.”

    (tags: getty alamy images copyright licensing relicensing public-domain carol-highsmith)

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Links for 2016-07-27

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Links for 2016-07-26

  • Noirmoutier Indigo Campsite, France

    As recommended by J & F: ‘Most of the campsites we’ve stayed in have had great facilities for kids – pools, activities, entertainment etc – but the problem with that is you spend your day being dragged from one to the other. There’s none of that at Camping Indigo in Noirmoutier apart from a playground, some kayaks and some music in the bar at night but it is on the beach so the kids either run wild around the campsite or play on the beach – it was the best and most relaxing holiday we ever had and we definitely met the coolest people there. There’s a really nice town in the centre of the island and great beaches all around it so hire bikes and roam free.’ Bookmarking for next year’s holiday planning!

    (tags: holidays fun france camping noirmoutier chaize-wood loire nantes recommendations)

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Links for 2016-07-25

  • Kelsey Hightower – healthz: Stop reverse engineering applications and start monitoring from the inside

    his Monitorama 2016 talk, talking about the “deep health checks” concept (which I implemented at Swrve earlier this year ;)

    (tags: monitorama health deep-health-checks healthz testing availability reliability)

  • The sweat houses of Leitrim

    I never knew we had a native take on the sauna, the “teach alluis”:

    Sweathouses were used for the treatment for a wide range of ailments up to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, primarily rheumatism but also including sciatica, lameness, sore eyes, gout, skin disorders, psychiatric disorders, impotence and infertility. Surviving records indicate that treatment was often a group activity for 4-8 persons. The sweathouse was heated by filling the interior with fuel (turf, heather, wood etc. as available), and firing the structure for a period of up to two days to heat the stone structure, the hot ashes were then raked out and the interior floor lined with bracken, grass or straw. The bathers entered and blocked the entrance with turves, clothes or some other means. The sweating period could last a number of hours while the structure retained heat. Some authors note that water was thrown on hot stones to create steam. Afterwards, the “patients” would either take a cold plunge in the nearby water source, or go home and rest for a few hours, or simply return to their normal daily activities.
    (via Aileen)

    (tags: via:aileen sweating sweat-houses irish history saunas heat)

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Links for 2016-07-23

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Links for 2016-07-22

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Links for 2016-07-21

  • Regexp Disaster

    Course notes from Gerald Jay Sussman’s “Adventures in Advanced Symbolic Programming” class at MIT. Hard to argue with this:

    The syntax of the regular-expression language is awful. There are various incompatable forms of the language and the quotation conventions are baroquen [sic]. Nevertheless, there is a great deal of useful software, for example grep, that uses regular expressions to specify the desired behavior. Although regular-expression systems are derived from a perfectly good mathematical formalism, the particular choices made by implementers to expand the formalism into useful software systems are often disastrous: the quotation conventions adopted are highly irregular; the egregious misuse of parentheses, both for grouping and for backward reference, is a miracle to behold. In addition, attempts to increase the expressive power and address shortcomings of earlier designs have led to a proliferation of incompatible derivative languages.
    (via Rob Pike’s twitter:

    (tags: regex regexps regular-expressions functional combinators gjs rob-pike coding languages)

  • A Cute Internet Star Flirts. All He Wants Is Your Password. – The New York Times


    Mr. Johnson’s fans are not naïve. Handing over their passwords to some strange, cute boy actually constitutes a minor act of youthful rebellion. The whole encounter delivers a heady mix of intimacy and transgression — the closest digital simulation yet to a teenage crush.
    (via Adam Shostack)

    (tags: via:adam-shostack passwords authentication security teens rebellion)

  • Just As We Warned: A Chinese Tech Giant Goes On The Patent Attack — In East Texas | Techdirt

    Techdirt has been warning for years that the West’s repeated demands for China to “respect” patents could backfire badly. […] And guess what? That is exactly what has just happened, as The Wall Street Journal reports: ‘Huawei Technologies Co. said it has filed a lawsuit against T-Mobile US Inc., alleging the U.S. telecommunications carrier violated the Chinese company’s patents related to wireless networks. In its complaint filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Huawei said T-Mobile is using its patented technology without signing a licensing agreement.’
    At least this is the most likely scenario to result in patent reform, finally.

    (tags: patents east-texas huawei t-mobile telecoms law)

  • A New Wrinkle in the Gig Economy: Workers Get Most of the Money – The New York Times

    So using money from the sale of iStock to Getty, she and Mr. Livingstone set out to create Stocksy, paying photographers 50 to 75 percent of sales. That is well above the going rate of 15 to 45 percent that is typical in the stock photography field. The company also distributes 90 percent of its profit at the end of each year among its photographers. Stocksy is part of a new wave of start-ups that are borrowing the tools of Silicon Valley to create a more genuine “sharing” economy that rewards the individuals generating the value.

    (tags: stocksy stock-photos photos fair sharing photography work)

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Links for 2016-07-20

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Links for 2016-07-19

  • Violet Club

    eye-poppingly bizarre half-assed safety features of the 1950s — a megaton nuclear weapon rendered safe from accidental criticality accidents only by a plastic bag full of ball bearings

    (tags: nuclear-weapons nukes safety 1950s uk funny bizarre violet-club ball-bearings via:cstross)

  • Frankly Useless Crank “Knowledge,” Only For Fools

    A wonderfully-sweary post on the etymology of swear words, and how they’re not derived from acronyms, really.

    shit? Also from an old Germanic root, descended equally to modern German Scheiss (which sounds closer to Scots shite). It shows up in Old English, fully inflected: “Wiþ þon þe men mete untela melte & gecirre on yfele wætan & scittan” (that scittan is an infinitive form of ‘shit’ and was said like “shit-tan”). I can assure you that an acronym Ship High In Transit – supposedly meaning that manure was to be loaded in the upper parts of ships – was not possible in the language in the Old English period, not just because transit was not borrowed from Latin until half a millennium later, or because they didn’t use acronyms like that then, but because what the fuck are you even thinking. They didn’t need to ship manure. Animals produce it on the spot everywhere. Holy shit, fucking seriously.

    (tags: shit funny words etymology acronyms)

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Links for 2016-07-18

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Links for 2016-07-15

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Links for 2016-07-14

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Links for 2016-07-12

  • Shopify/ejson

    ‘a small library to manage encrypted secrets using asymmetric encryption.’

    The main benefits provided by ejson are: Secrets can be safely stored in a git repo. Changes to secrets are auditable on a line-by-line basis with git blame. Anyone with git commit access has access to write new secrets. Decryption access can easily be locked down to production servers only. Secrets change synchronously with application source (as opposed to secrets provisioned by Configuration Management). Simple, well-tested, easily-auditable source.

    (tags: crypto security credentials encryption ejson json configuration config)

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Links for 2016-07-11

  • The mysterious syndrome impairing astronauts’ sight – The Washington Post

    Visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome (VIIP) is named for the leading theory to explain it. On Earth, gravity pulls bodily fluids down toward the feet. That doesn’t happen in space, and it is thought that extra fluid in the skull increases pressure on the brain and the back of the eye.

    (tags: viip sight eyes space zero-gravity health)

  • Designing the Perfect Anti-Object

    This pale, amorphous lump of sculpted concrete is designed to resist almost everything in a city that it might come into contact with. Named for the London authority that commissioned it, the Camden Bench has a special coating which makes it impervious to graffiti and vandalism. The squat, featureless surface gives drug dealers nowhere to hide their secret caches. The angled sides repel skateboarders and flyposters, litter and rain. The cambered top throws off rough sleepers. In fact, it is specially crafted to make sure that it is not used as anything except a bench. This makes it a strange artifact, defined far more by what it is not than what it is. The Camden Bench is a concerted effort to create a non-object.

    (tags: non-objects objects city camden benches vandalism skating london)

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Links for 2016-07-08

  • The Apollo 11 AGC source code was uploaded to Github, and someone opened an issue

    For the famous Apollo 13 near-fatal failure scenario:

    ‘A customer has had a fairly serious problem with stirring the cryogenic tanks with a circuit fault present. To reproduce: Build CSM; Perform mission up to translunar coast; During translunar coast, attempt to stir cryo tanks If a wiring fault exists, the issue may be replicated. Be aware that this may be hazardous to the tester attempting it.’ Sample response: ‘Does it happens only with translunar coast (sol-3-a), or any moon coasting? It may be a problem with the moon. Just trying to narrow down the issue.’

    (tags: lol funny apollo apollo-11 apollo-13 agc history space github)

  • Law to allow snooping on social media defies European court ruling

    Karlin on fire:

    But there’s lots in this legislation that should scare the public far more. For example, the proposal that the legislation should allow the retention of “superfluous data” gathered in the course of an investigation, which is a direct contravention of the ECJ’s demand that surveillance must be targeted and data held must be specifically relevant, not a trawl to be stored for later perusal “just in case”. Or the claim that interception and retention of data, and access to it, will only be in cases of the most serious crime or terrorism threats. Oh, please. This was, and remains, the supposed basis for our existing, ECJ-invalidated legislation. Yet, as last year’s Gsoc investigation into Garda leaks revealed, it turns out a number of interconnected pieces of national legislation allow at least 10 different agencies access to retained data, including Gsoc, the Competition Authority, local authorities and the Irish Medicines Board.

    (tags: surveillance ireland whatsapp viber snowden snooping karlin-lillington facebook internet data-retention)

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Links for 2016-07-06

  • Raintank investing in Graphite

    paying Jason Dixon to work on it, improving the backend, possibly replacing the creaky Whisper format. great news!

    (tags: graphite metrics monitoring ops open-source grafana raintank)

  • conventional-changelog-atom 502 Bad Gateway · Issue #13284 · npm/npm

    npm down for most of the (EU) day. What a shitshow

    (tags: npm fail javascript dependencies coding)

  • Camille Fournier’s excellent rant on microservices

    I haven’t even gotten into the fact that your microservices are an inter-dependent environment, as much as you may wish otherwise, and one service acting up can cause operational problems for the whole team. Maybe if you have Netflix-scale operational hardening that’s not a problem. Do you? Really? Is that the best place to spend your focus and money right now, all so teams can throw shit against the wall to see if it sticks? Don’t sell people fantasies. This is not the reality for a mid-sized tech team working in microservices. There are enough valuable components to building out such a system without the fantastical claims of self-organizing teams who build cool hack projects in 2 week sprints that change the business. Microservices don’t make organizational problems disappear due to self-organization. They allow for some additional degrees of team and process independence and force very explicit decoupling, in exchange, there is overall system complexity and overall system coordination overhead. I personally think that’s enough value, especially when you are coming from a monolith that is failing to scale, but this model is not a panacea.

    (tags: microservices rants camille-fournier architecture decoupling dependencies)

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Links for 2016-07-05

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Links for 2016-07-03

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Links for 2016-07-01

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Links for 2016-06-29

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Links for 2016-06-28

  • My kids don’t have a YouTube channel — but they pretend they do

    “Dad is making a right turn now,” my 5-year-old son Jack will say as he newscasts the ride to school to a fictional audience. “Don’t forget to subscribe,” his sister Ella, 6, will often interject — again, to no one in particular. When I was their age, I’d pretend to be a soldier or a baseball player. Today, kids apparently aspire to be vloggers. It’s not enough for them to watch their favorite shows. They want to broadcast their lives, banter with commenters and keep their make-believe view counts high.

    (tags: youtube kids wtf video broadcasting)

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Links for 2016-06-27

  • Cops Use Stingray To Almost Track Down Suspected Fast Food Thief

    Law enforcement spokespeople will often point to the handful of homicide or kidnapping investigations successfully closed with the assistance of cell site simulators, but they’ll gloss over the hundreds of mundane deployments performed by officers who will use anything that makes their job easier — even if it’s a tool that’s Constitutionally dubious. Don’t forget, when a cell site simulator is deployed, it gathers cell phone info from everyone in the surrounding area, including those whose chicken wings have been lawfully purchased. And all of this data goes… somewhere and is held onto for as long as the agency feels like it, because most agencies don’t seem to have Stingray data retention policies in place until after they’ve been FOIA’ed/questioned by curious legislators. Regular policework — which seemed to function just fine without cell tracking devices — now apparently can’t be done without thousands of dollars of military equipment. And it’s not just about the chicken wing thieves law enforcement can’t locate. It’s about the murder suspects who are caught but who walk away when the surveillance device wipes its feet on the Fourth Amendment as it serves up questionable, post-facto search warrants and pen register orders.

    (tags: stingrays mobile surveillance imsi-catchers data-retention privacy chicken-wings fast-food)

  • A fast alternative to the modulo reduction

    (x * N) div 2^32 is an equally fair map reduction, but faster on modern 64-bit CPUs

    (tags: fairness modulo arithmetic algorithms fair-mapping reduce daniel-lemire)

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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 – 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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