Links for 2018-12-06

  • Irish agricultural CO2 emissions actually INCREASED by 2.9% last year

    Irish EPA: agriculture greenhouse gas emissions increased by 2.9% in 2017 “The most significant drivers are higher dairy cow numbers (+3.1%) which reflects national plans to expand milk production”
    Feck’s sake.

    (tags: epa ireland co2 greenhouse-gases emissions green farming agriculture)

  • “Bring home the bacon” debate is a case study in how stupid we’ve all become

    Well said, that Carl Kinsella.

    How are we supposed to focus on the things that matter when media organisations refuse to? Ivan Yates and Matt Cooper ran a segment on whether or not we’ve reached political correctness. Niall Boylan had a discussion about whether or not it’s okay to ban phrases that nobody really wants to ban [as PETA has suggested]. As a matter of pure coincidence, other reports from outlets like the Daily Mail and Today FM reported that the HSE was going to ban its employees from using phrases like “love,” “pet” or “dear.” That wasn’t true either. Again, it was one line in a huge report that asked the question as to whether or not it was the best course of action to use such terms. It wasn’t mentioned again. Unlike phrases about meat, this actually matters. This is the kind of thing that could actually change how people are treated in hospital. But again, it wasn’t true. The public – which has lost its capacity to verify what is true and what is not — was being lied to by the media. That’s how it works now.

    (tags: media clickbait fake-news news today-fm daily-mail hse niall-boylan peta controversy political-correctness ivan-yates matt-cooper)

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Links for 2018-12-05

  • Rudy Giuliani doesn’t understand how links work

    As waxy noted: ‘this might be funny if he wasn’t Trump’s cybersecurity advisor’.

    Twitter allowed someone to invade my text with a disgusting anti-President message. The same thing-period no space-occurred later and it didn’t happen. Don’t tell me they are not committed cardcarrying anti-Trumpers. Time Magazine also may fit that description. FAIRNESS PLEASE
    Giuliani composed a tweet with no spaces after full stops, and a broken regexp at Twitter auto-linkified “G-20.In”. An internet prankster registered this domain and Giuliani lost his shit in a spectacular display of incompetence. The best bit? Here’s a thread with the original devs: — ‘Hey @tw and @bcherry, remember all the debates we had about the linkifying regex around edge cases like this?’ (via Waxy and pretty much everyone on twitter)

    (tags: edge-cases bugs twitter regexps regular-expressions links urls us-politics trump rudy-giuliani security funny)

  • 3D models by DH_Age Sheela-na-Gig3D Project (@DH_Age) – Sketchfab

    These are fantastic — 3D scans of Sheela-na-Gig carvings around Ireland from 3D Sheela, an Irish based research initiative ‘focusing on the digital documentation and analysis of Ireland’s Sheela-na-Gig catalogue’ (NSFW)

    (tags: 3d sheela-na-gigs history carving nsfw models photogrammetry)

  • Chester Beatty Digital Collections

    ‘Explore online access to our remarkable treasures, through this searchable database of digitised artworks and manuscripts’, from the Chester Beatty museum’s collection. Licensing isn’t fully open though — ‘Images and PDF’s are provided for personal research and scholarship.’

    (tags: chester-beatty museums history archaeology artifacts art manuscripts)

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Links for 2018-12-03

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Links for 2018-12-01

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Links for 2018-11-30

  • House Democrats Sent A New Letter To Jeff Bezos About Amazon’s Facial Recognition Tool

    The House Democrats’ questions focus largely on possible embedded bias in Amazon Rekognition, including how the tool’s accuracy breaks down by race, gender, ethnicity, and age. Also of particular concern is whether Amazon will build privacy protections into its facial recognition system and how it will ensure it is not abused for secret government surveillance. [….] Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos has yet to address mounting criticism of Amazon’s Rekognition technology by Amazon employees, shareholders, and civil rights groups. In November, Amazon executives defended the company’s controversial facial recognition technology at an all-hands staff meeting after employees raised civil rights concerns about the tech’s potential misuse. “It’s hard to trust that harm and abuse can be prevented if it is only post-mortem and through the Terms of Service,” an Amazon employee who requested anonymity told BuzzFeed News at the time.

    (tags: rekognition aws privacy data-protection surveillance amazon us-politics civil-rights)

  • Google Tried to Patent My Work After a Job Interview

    I looked up the patent application and luckily, this time the patent application was still being reviewed by the patent examiner.  It had not issued! The provisional was filed August 29, 2014, months after my first interview and visit back in March 2014.  Two of the inventors listed were the same people who had interviewed me. 
    This is frankly appalling behaviour from Google — total abuse of the patent system. If Joi Ito hadn’t been around to mediate this patent probably would have issued and this researcher’s life’s work stolen from her through IP dirty tricks. (Also, patents need to die)

    (tags: patents software-patents google dirty-tricks interviewing ip mit medialab paper jie-qi)

  • Crowdfunding Backer Patented My Project

    I had thought thought all along that if we published everything openly, it wouldn’t be possible for someone else to patent stuff that’s already all over the web.  But I was wrong. Despite tons of prior art out on the web, in academic research papers and even for sale that are LED stickers, the patent examiner missed it and deemed the LED sticker patent “new” and “non-obvious.”   How could that happen?  The sad truth is that patents are approved all that time that probably shouldn’t be. […] Can’t you invalidate the patent? Unfortunately, once a patent gets issued things get much more complicated and expensive. The cheapest option would be for us to go to the USPTO with our prior art list and invalidate the patent though a process called an inter partes review (IPR).  But such a process typically costs between $300,000 and $600,000 to file due to legal fees. In fact, it’s much more than the cost of getting the patent in the first place! So for now, we’ve decided not to go down this route.
    The US patent system is broken. This is appalling

    (tags: patents led-stickers uspto prior-art invention crowdfunding)

  • PRDD – Performance-Review Driven Development

    ‘If the way to get promoted is to launch a shiny new product, then your most senior people will be the best at finding shiny new products to launch, even if that’s not the right technical decision to make.’ (from a newsy thread about Twitter’s latest messaging system switch)

    (tags: newsy messaging infrastructure twitter kafka pubsub ops architecture prdd performance-reviews)

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Links for 2018-11-29

  • Presto Performance for Ad Hoc Workloads on AWS Instance Types

    good benchmark/review of instance types from Qubole

    (tags: qubole presto performance benchmarks ops aws instances ec2)

  • Party Parrot as a Service

    Enter an image URL and it’ll generate an animated GIF of the party parrot version

    (tags: party-parrot gifs funny slack emojis)

  • event-stream vulnerability explained – Zach Schneider

    This was an incredibly clever attack, very reminiscent of this blog post from January about how a similar attack might work. The attacker covered their tracks well — the code and commit log on GitHub all tell an innocuous and fairly common story (a new maintainer joins a project, adds a feature, and then tweaks the implementation of their feature a bit). Other than the warning signs about flatmap-stream (new package, no contributors or download activity), the attack was virtually undetectable. And indeed, it wasn’t discovered for over two months — it was only found because the attacker made a tiny mistake and used the deprecated crypto.createDecipher rather than crypto.createDecipheriv, which raised a suspicious deprecation warning in another library that consumes event-stream. Unfortunately, this genre of attack isn’t going away anytime soon. JavaScript is the most popular language right now and it’s not really close, meaning it will continue to be an attractive target for hackers. JavaScript also has relatively few standard-library convenience features compared to other languages, which encourages developers to import them from npm packages instead — this, along with other cultural factors, means that JavaScript projects tend to have massive dependency trees.
    (via Nelson)

    (tags: npm malware bitcoin security javascript event-stream flatmap-stream hacks)

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Links for 2018-11-28

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Links for 2018-11-27

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Links for 2018-11-26

  • Linkerd 2.0

    The 2.0 release of Linkerd brings two very significant changes. First, we’ve completely rewritten Linkerd to be orders of magnitude faster and smaller than Linkerd 1.x. Linkerd 2.0’s data plane is comprised of ultralight Rust proxies which consume around 10mb of RSS and have a p99 latency of <1ms. Linkerd’s minimalist control plane (written in Go) is similarly designed for speed and low resource footprint. Second, with the 2.0 release, Linkerd moves beyond the service mesh model to be something not more, but less: Linkerd 2.0 at its core is a service sidecar, running on a single service without requiring cluster-wide installation. This means that if you’re a developer or service owner who doesn’t have access to the whole Kubernetes cluster, you can run Linkerd on your service and get: Instant Grafana dashboards of your service’s success rates, latencies, and throughput; A topology graph of incoming and outgoing dependencies; A live view of requests being made to your service; Improved, latency-aware load balancing; … and much more.

    (tags: linkerd mesh networking services architecture sidecars)

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Links for 2018-11-24

  • MuMufication

    the act of having a small portion of your cremated remains fired in a Brickof Mu. MuMufied is what you will be after the act of MuMufication has been carried out. What you get in the here and now is a Brick of Mu and a signed and stamped Certificate of MuMufication. What you get after you die is 23 grams of yours cremated remains fired in your Brick of Mu, which will then be laid to rest on The People’s Pyramid come the following Toxteth Day of the Dead on 23rd of November.

    (tags: klf mu mumufication 23 eris discordianism religion death toxteth liverpool cremation pyramids)

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Links for 2018-11-21

  • Introducing Predictive Scaling for Amazon EC2 in AWS Auto Scaling

    Predictive Scaling predicts future traffic based on daily and weekly trends, including regularly-occurring spikes, and provisions the right number of EC2 instances in advance of anticipated changes. Provisioning the capacity just in time for an impending load change makes Auto Scaling faster than ever before. Predictive Scaling’s machine learning algorithms detect changes in daily and weekly patterns, automatically adjusting their forecasts. This removes the need for manual adjustment of Auto Scaling parameters over time, making Auto Scaling simpler to configure and consume. Auto Scaling enhanced with Predictive Scaling delivers faster, simpler, and more accurate capacity provisioning to our customers.
    Fantastic! More heavy lifting taken care of.

    (tags: aws amazon scaling autoscaling predictive-scaling ml ec2 asg)

  • Awful AI

    Artificial intelligence in its current state is unfair, easily susceptible to attacks and notoriously difficult to control. Nevertheless, more and more concerning uses of AI technology are appearing in the wild. This list aims to track all of them. We hope that Awful AI can be a platform to spur discussion for the development of possible contestational technology (to fight back!).

    (tags: ai algorithms ethics technology machine-learning)

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Links for 2018-11-20

  • Some notes about HTTP/3

    Robert Graham from ErrataSec on QUIC aka HTTP/3: ‘Google (pbuh) has both the most popular web browser (Chrome) and the two most popular websites (#1 #2 Therefore, they are in control of future web protocol development.’ Faster connection setup and latency; better bandwidth negotiation when using multiplexing; user-mode stacks by building on UDP and using recvmmsg(); and better mobile support for roaming IPs.

    (tags: google http3 quic protocols ip)

  • Traditional Chinese medicine origins: Mao invented it but didn’t believe in it

    Mikulski and the rest of the Senate may be surprised to learn that they were repeating 60-year-old justifications of Chinese medicine put forward by Chairman Mao. Unlike Mikulski, however, Mao was under no illusion that Chinese medicine—a key component of naturopathic education—actually worked. In The Private Life of Chairman Mao, Li Zhisui, one of Mao’s personal physicians, recounts a conversation they had on the subject. Trained as an M.D. in Western medicine, Li admitted to being baffled by ancient Chinese medical books, especially their theories relating to the five elements. It turns out his employer also found them implausible. 
    via Dr. Jen Gunter

    (tags: medicine tcm mao history china health naturopathy)

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Links for 2018-11-19

  • Java’s ByteBuffer native memory “leak”

    Well this is suboptimal:

    The Java NIO APIs use ByteBuffers as the source and destination of I/O calls, and come in two flavours. Heap ByteBuffers wrap a byte[] array, allocated in the garbage collected Java heap. Direct ByteBuffers wrap memory allocated outside the Java heap using malloc. Only “native” memory can be passed to operating system calls, so it won’t be moved by the garbage collector. This means that when you use a heap ByteBuffer for I/O, it is copied into a temporary direct ByteBuffer. The JDK caches one temporary buffer per thread, without any memory limits. As a result, if you call I/O methods with large heap ByteBuffers from multiple threads, your process can use a huge amount of additional native memory, which looks like a native memory leak. This can cause your process to unexpectedly run into memory limits and get killed.

    (tags: jvm performance java memory leaks bytebuffers netty threads coding bugs)

  • The Time Our Provider Screwed Us

    Good talk (with transcript) from Paul Biggar about what happened when CircleCI had a massive security incident, and how Jesse Robbins helped them do incident response correctly. ‘On the left, Jesse pointed out that we needed an incident commander. That’s me, Paul. And this is very good, because I was a big proponent, I think lots of were around the 2013 mark, of flat organizational structures, and so I hadn’t really got a handle of this whole being in charge thing. The fact that someone else came in and said, “No, no, no, you are in charge”: extremely useful. And he also laid out the order of our priorities. Number one priority; safety of customers. Number two priority: communicate with customers. Number three priority: recovery of service. I think a reasonable person could have put those in a different order, especially under the pressure and time constraints of the potential company-ending situation. So I was very happy to have those in order. If this is ever going to happen to you, I’d memorize them, maybe put it on an index card in your pocket, in case this ever happens. The last thing he said is to make sure that we log everything, that we go slow, and that we code review and communicate. His point there is that if we’re going to bring our site back up, if we’re going to do all the things that we need to do in order to save our business and do the right thing for our customers and all that, we can’t be making quick, bad decisions. You can’t just upload whatever code is on your computer now, because I have to do this now, I have to fix it. So we set up a Slack channel … This was pre-Slack; it was a HipChat channel, where all of our communications went. Every single communication that we had about this went in that chatroom. Which came in extremely useful the next day, when I had to write a blog post that detailed exactly what had happened and all the steps that we did to fix it and remediate this, and I had an exact time stamps of all the things that had happened.’

    (tags: incidents incident-response paul-biggar circleci security communication outages)

  • Deep learning can “discover” new knowledge from scans/images

    Amazing paper:

    Here, we show that deep learning can extract new knowledge from retinal fundus images. Using deep-learning models trained on data from 284,335 patients and validated on two independent datasets of 12,026 and 999 patients, we predicted cardiovascular risk factors not previously thought to be present or quantifiable in retinal images, such as age (mean absolute error within 3.26 years), gender (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC)?=?0.97), smoking status (AUC?=?0.71), systolic blood pressure (mean absolute error within 11.23?mmHg) and major adverse cardiac events (AUC?=?0.70). We also show that the trained deep-learning models used anatomical features, such as the optic disc or blood vessels, to generate each prediction.

    (tags: deep-learning data analysis ml machine-learning health medicine papers)

  • OpsMop

    ‘a next-generation, no-compromise automation system’.

    Uses: Web-scale configuration management of all Linux/Unix systems; Application deployment; Immutable systems build definition; Maintaining stateful services such as database and messaging platforms; Automating one-off tasks & processes; Deployment and management of the undercloud. Features: Python 3 DSL; Declarative resource model with imperative capabilities; Type / Provider plugin seperation; Implicit ordering (with handler notification); Formalized “Plan” vs “Apply” evaluation stages; Early validation prior to runtime; Programatically scoped variables; Strong object-orientation

    (tags: opsmop ops configuration-management deployment build)

  • The JVM in Docker 2018

    Later JDK versions have made it far easier to run a JVM application in a Linux container. The memory support means that if you relied on JVM ergonomics before than you can do the same inside a container where as previously you had to override all memory related settings. The CPU support for containers needs to be carefully evaluated for your application and environment. If you’ve previously set low cpu_shares in environments like Kubernetes to increase utilisation while relying on using up unused cycles then you might get a shock.

    (tags: jvm docker kubernetes linux containers ops)

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Links for 2018-11-16

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Links for 2018-11-15

  • Tuning Spark Back Pressure by Simulation

    Interesting, Spark uses a PID controller algorithm to manage backpressure:

    Spark back pressure, which can be enabled by setting spark.streaming.backpressure.enabled=true, will dynamically resize batches so as to avoid queue build up. It is implemented using a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) algorithm. This algorithm has some interesting properties, including the lack of guarantee of a stable fixed point. This can manifest itself not just in transient overshoot, but in a batch size oscillating around a (potentially optimal) constant throughput. The overshoot incurs latency; the undershoot costs throughput. Catastrophic overshoot leading to OOM is possible in degenerate circumstances (you need to choose the parameters quite deviously to cause this to happen). Having witnessed undershoot and slow recovery in production streaming jobs, I decided to investigate further by testing the algorithm with a simulator.

    (tags: backpressure streaming queueing pid-controllers algorithms congestion-control)

  • New – EC2 Auto Scaling Groups With Multiple Instance Types & Purchase Options | AWS News Blog

    Basically getting EC2 Fleet’s featureset into ASGs, good news

    (tags: ec2 fleet asg ops architecture cost-control)

  • SpamAssassin is back []

    The SpamAssassin 3.4.2 release was the first from that project in well over three years. At the 2018 Open Source Summit Europe, Giovanni Bechis talked about that release and those that will be coming in the near future. It would seem that, after an extended period of quiet, the SpamAssassin project is back and has rededicated itself to the task of keeping junk out of our inboxes.
    This is good to see! Also, newsy thread:

    (tags: spamassassin open-source oss anti-spam)

  • Google ‘betrays patient trust’ with DeepMind Health move | Technology | The Guardian

    Now that Streams is a Google product itself, that promise appears to have been broken, says privacy researcher Julia Powles: “Making this about semantics is a sleight of hand. DeepMind said it would never connect Streams with Google. The whole Streams app is now a Google product. That is an atrocious breach of trust, for an already beleaguered product.” A DeepMind spokesperson emphasised that the core of the promise remains intact: “All patient data remains under our partners’ strict control, and all decisions about its use lie with them. This data remains subject to strict audit and access controls and its processing remains subject to both our contracts and data protection legislation. The move to Google does not affect this.”

    (tags: google deepmind health nhs data-protection privacy healthcare)

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Links for 2018-11-14

  • Jeff Bezos is wrong, tech workers are not bullies

    I decided to leave my job as a staff engineer at Google because of Project Maven, and because I believe that the artificial intelligence ethical guidelines they published afterwards were not strict enough: they allowed surveillance within “internationally accepted norms”. I am now joining forces with current and former Google employees who also opposed Maven and the Dragonfly search engine. We do not wish to be complicit in human rights violations and we believe that workers, and the public, deserve a voice. We support employees at Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce, McKinsey and Deloitte who have similarly stood up to their employers. We also have a right to not contribute to killing. Most workers at Google or Amazon did not join those companies to work on military applications. Both companies are international employers with engineering offices across the world, and many of their workers are neither US citizens nor residents. I worked as an engineer in Google’s European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. To me, the US military is not our military (as Google Cloud chief executive Diane Greene referred to it in a blog post), nor is it a force we should automatically support as a matter of patriotism. As an engineer, I believe it is my responsibility to speak up for human rights and accountable decision making. As an industry, we in technology cannot compromise our principles or allow ourselves to be bullied by billionaires who stand to be enriched by our silence.

    (tags: project-maven dragonfly google amazon surveillance us-politics politics ai silicon-valley ethics work life)

  • HTTP-over-QUIC to be renamed HTTP/3

    Decent newsy comment thread about HTTP/3, QUIC, and how the modern internet treats IP protocols

    (tags: ip protocols http http3 quic networking internet newsy)

  • Brits getting into the online-disinfo game

    Disinformation and deception have been a part of warfare for thousands of years, but across the world, something new was starting to happen. Information has long been used to support combat operations, but now combat was seen to taking place primarily, sometimes exclusively, through it. From being a tool of warfare, each military began to realise that the struggle with, over and through information was what war itself actually was about. And it wasn’t confined to Russia, China or anyone else. A global informational struggle has broken out. Dozens of countries are already doing it. And these are just the campaigns that we know about.

    (tags: disinfo fake-news uk british-army military memes infowar)

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Links for 2018-11-12

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Links for 2018-11-09

  • Specification gaming examples in AI

    A good list of examples where machine learning systems “figure out” how to cheat their fitness function, e.g.:

    ‘Creatures bred for speed grow really tall and generate high velocities by falling over’

    (tags: ai funny humor spreadsheets machine-learning ml fitness-functions)

  • What if the Placebo Effect Isn’t a Trick? – The New York Times

    It is not possible to assay levels of COMT directly in a living brain, but there is a snippet of the genome called rs4680 that governs the production of the enzyme, and that varies from one person to another: One variant predicts low levels of COMT, while another predicts high levels. When Hall analyzed the I.B.S. patients’ DNA, she found a distinct trend. Those with the high-COMT variant had the weakest placebo responses, and those with the opposite variant had the strongest. These effects were compounded by the amount of interaction each patient got: For instance, low-COMT, high-interaction patients fared best of all, but the low-COMT subjects who were placed in the no-treatment group did worse than the other genotypes in that group. They were, in other words, more sensitive to the impact of the relationship with the healer. The discovery of this genetic correlation to placebo response set Hall off on a continuing effort to identify the biochemical ensemble she calls the placebome — the term reflecting her belief that it will one day take its place among the other important “-omes” of medical science, from the genome to the microbiome. The rs4680 gene snippet is one of a group that governs the production of COMT, and COMT is one of a number of enzymes that determine levels of catecholamines, a group of brain chemicals that includes dopamine and epinephrine. (Low COMT tends to mean higher levels of dopamine, and vice versa.) Hall points out that the catecholamines are associated with stress, as well as with reward and good feeling, which bolsters the possibility that the placebome plays an important role in illness and health, especially in the chronic, stress-related conditions that are most susceptible to placebo effects.

    (tags: placebo comt health healthcare medicine enzymes brain)

  • Deadlines, lies and videotape: The tale of a gRPC bug

    HostedGraphite decided to use gRPC as an internal inter-service protocol and ran into a basic protocol bug — it does not default to using an application-level keepalive on the TCP channel so can block indefinitely if sending-side buffers fill up. Always use application-level keepalives and don’t trust TCP

    (tags: tcp protocols keepalive grpc rpc architecture networking)

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Links for 2018-11-08

  • Sci-Fi Writer Greg Egan and 4chan anon Math Whiz Advance Permutation Problem | Quanta Magazine

    On September 16, 2011, an anime fan posted a math question to the online bulletin board 4chan about the cult classic television series ‘The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya’. Season one of the show, which involves time travel, had originally aired in non-chronological order, and a re-broadcast and a DVD version had each further rearranged the episodes. Fans were arguing online about the best order to watch the episodes, and the 4chan poster wondered: If viewers wanted to see the series in every possible order, what is the shortest list of episodes they’d have to watch? In less than an hour, an anonymous person offered an answer — not a complete solution, but a lower bound on the number of episodes required. The argument, which covered series with any number of episodes, showed that for the 14-episode first season of Haruhi, viewers would have to watch at least 93,884,313,611 episodes to see all possible orderings. “Please look over [the proof] for any loopholes I might have missed,” the anonymous poster wrote. The proof slipped under the radar of the mathematics community for seven years — apparently only one professional mathematician spotted it at the time, and he didn’t check it carefully. But in a plot twist last month, the Australian science fiction novelist Greg Egan proved a new upper bound on the number of episodes required. Egan’s discovery renewed interest in the problem and drew attention to the lower bound posted anonymously in 2011. Both proofs are now being hailed as significant advances on a puzzle mathematicians have been studying for at least 25 years.

    (tags: mathematics internet math greg-egan anime bizarre 4chan superpermutation permutation proofs)

  • How do you populate your development databases?

    Lots of comments pro/anti copying from production

    (tags: database data testing system-tests dev)

  • Welcome To The Dystopia: People Are Arguing Whether This Trump Press Conference Video Is Doctored Or Not

    To sum it up: A historically unreliable narrator who works for a conspiracy website tweets out a video in order to show alleged bad behavior on the part of a journalist. The clip goes viral. The White House picks up and disseminates that video and uses it as proof to ban the journalist from reporting at the White House. Outraged journalists decry the White House’s use of a video taken from a historically unreliable narrator. Then, users attempt to debunk the video as “actual fake news.” Others, unclear if the video is fake, urge caution, suggesting the media may be jumping the gun. An argument breaks out over the intricate technical details of doctoring a clip. The entire ordeal is a near perfect example of a scenario disinformation experts have predicted and warned of, where the very threat of video manipulation can lead to a blurring of reality. “These technological underpinnings [of AI and photoshop, and editing programs lead] to the increasing erosion of trust,” computational propaganda researcher Renee DiResta told BuzzFeed News in early 2018. “It makes it possible to cast aspersions on whether videos — or advocacy for that matter — are real.”

    (tags: twitter disinfo disinformation buzzfeed video reality fake-news photoshop)

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Links for 2018-11-07


    A neat kragen hack:

    Report wireless signal strength using audio synthesis. This quick kludge is useful for figuring out where the dead spots in your wireless network coverage are. They’re where the pitch goes high and maybe you start getting clicks from audio buffer underruns. Example audio output can be found at . This is based on a brilliant hack by Seth Schoen, in which he generated a tone controlled by the signal strength indication from his wireless card in order to get a sort of 21st-century software Theremin. This adds some envelope modulation so that it’s useful as a network diagnostic tool rather than a musical instrument. It depends on PulseAudio and the interface to the usual set of Linux commands: pacat, ping, and iwconfig. (I should really just read /proc/net/wireless instead of depending on iwconfig.)

    (tags: kragen wifi scanning audio sound signal linux)

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Links for 2018-11-06

  • Underground Utility Colour Codes Explained

    Underground utility colour codes are used to differentiate and identify underground utilities to protect it from damage during excavation. There are different types of utilities and in order to tell them apart coloured lines, flags or sometimes both are used. They help mark the location and indicate the type of utility that is buried underground.
    I had no idea! (via Tony Finch)

    (tags: utilities power underground excavation digging repair urban)

  • Meet the Irish master codebreaker you never heard of

    In 1943, one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious communication codes was broken by a mild-mannered librarian and family man from Abbeyfeale in west Limerick, Richard Hayes. His day job was director of the National Library of Ireland, but during the Emergency, he secretly led a covert team of cryptanalysts, working feverishly on the infamous “Görtz Cipher” – a fiendish Nazi code that had stumped many of the greatest code-breaking minds at Bletchley Park, the centre of British wartime cryptography. Astonishingly, the feat was accomplished not in one of the huts at Bletchley Park, but in a now derelict building colloquially known as “The Red House” on Montpellier Hill in Dublin. If this wasn’t an amazing enough feat, Hayes also broke a complex microdot enciphering system which had baffled the American OSS, as well an enciphering system used by the dreaded Sicherheitsdienst (or SD), the intelligence section of the SS. The breaking of the latter code was instrumental in the Allied victory at the Battle of the Bulge. Few individuals can be said to have altered the course of the second World War on their own, but Hayes was one such individual – and he did it not with a gun, but with a detailed knowledge of the complex algorithms and mathematical permutations involved in the art of cryptography.
    (via Colm)

    (tags: via:colmmacc crypto codes hermann-gortz wwii dublin ireland richard-hayes cryptanalysis)

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Links for 2018-11-02

  • Physical spam using cheap Bluetooth beacons spotted in the wild

    Buzz Andersen on Twitter: “Crazy thing: my friends who run a high traffic coffee shop just found this thing under their bar. It turns out to be a super cheap Chinese Bluetooth LE beacon.…”

    (tags: bluetooth spam via:twitter alibaba eddystone ads)

  • Productionproofing EKS

    ‘We recently migrated SaleMove infrastructure from self-managed Kubernetes clusters running on AWS to using Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS). There were many surprises along the way to getting our EKS setup ready for production. This post covers some of these gotchas (others may already be fixed or are not likely to be relevant for a larger crowd) and is meant to be used as a reference when thinking of running EKS in production.’

    (tags: eks aws docker kubernetes k8s ops prod)

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Links for 2018-11-01

  • Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals | Martin Lukacs | Environment | The Guardian

    These pervasive exhortations to individual action — in corporate ads, school textbooks, and the campaigns of mainstream environmental groups, especially in the west — seem as natural as the air we breathe. But we could hardly be worse-served. While we busy ourselves greening our personal lives, fossil fuel corporations are rendering these efforts irrelevant. The breakdown of carbon emissions since 1988? A hundred companies alone are responsible for an astonishing 71%. You tinker with those pens or that panel; they go on torching the planet. The freedom of these corporations to pollute – and the fixation on a feeble lifestyle response – is no accident. It is the result of an ideological war, waged over the last 40 years, against the possibility of collective action. Devastatingly successful, it is not too late to reverse it. The political project of neoliberalism, brought to ascendence by Thatcher and Reagan, has pursued two principal objectives. The first has been to dismantle any barriers to the exercise of unaccountable private power. The second had been to erect them to the exercise of any democratic public will. […] At the very moment when climate change demands an unprecedented collective public response, neoliberal ideology stands in the way. Which is why, if we want to bring down emissions fast, we will need to overcome all of its free-market mantras.

    (tags: politics environment neoliberalism future climate-change green)

  • Block Advertising on your Network with Pi-hole and Raspberry Pi

    A good walkthrough of the Pi-Hole network-wide adblocker install and operation

    (tags: pi-hole ads blocking ops home raspberry-pi)

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Links for 2018-10-31

  • October 21 post-incident analysis | The GitHub Blog

    A network outage caused a split-brain scenario, and their failover system allowed writes to occur in both regional databases. Once the outage was repaired it was impossible to reconcile writes in an automated fashion as a result. Embarrassingly, this exact scenario was called out in their previous blog post about their Raft-based failover system at — “In a data center isolation scenario, and assuming a master is in the isolated DC, apps in that DC are still able to write to the master. This may result in state inconsistency once network is brought back up. We are working to mitigate this split-brain by implementing a reliable STONITH from within the very isolated DC. As before, some time will pass before bringing down the master, and there could be a short period of split-brain. The operational cost of avoiding split-brains altogether is very high.” Failover is hard.

    (tags: github fail outages failover replication consensus ops)

  • LGTM

    Analyses open source code repos on github, running static code analysis to find “zero-days and other critical bugs”.

    (tags: security code-review static-code-analysis coding lgtm github)

  • cool twitter image compression hack

    D?v?d ?uc??n?n on Twitter:

    Assuming this all works out, the image in this tweet is also a valid ZIP archive, containing a multipart RAR archive, containing the complete works of Shakespeare. This technique also survives twitter’s thumbnailer :P
    (via JK)

    (tags: via:johnke cool compression image jpeg twitter)

  • A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley – The New York Times

    John Lilly, a Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist with Greylock Partners and the former C.E.O. of Mozilla, said he tries to help his 13-year-old son understand that he is being manipulated by those who built the technology. “I try to tell him somebody wrote code to make you feel this way — I’m trying to help him understand how things are made, the values that are going into things and what people are doing to create that feeling,” Mr. Lilly said. “And he’s like, ‘I just want to spend my 20 bucks to get my Fortnite skins.’”

    (tags: kids technology education parenting screentime apps tech phones)

  • Your Kid’s Apps Are Crammed With Ads – The New York Times

    In apps marketed for children 5 and under in the Google Play store, there were pop-up ads with disturbing imagery. There were ads that no child could reasonably be expected to close out of, and which, when triggered, would send a player into more ads. Dancing treasure chests would give young players points for watching video ads, potentially endlessly. The vast majority of ads were not marked at all. Characters in children’s games gently pressured the kids to make purchases, a practice known as host-selling, banned in children’s TV programs in 1974 by the Federal Trade Commission. At other times an onscreen character would cry if the child did not buy something. “The first word that comes to mind is furious,” said Dr. Radesky, an assistant professor of developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School. “I’m a researcher. I want to stay objective. We started this study really just trying to look at distraction. My frustrated response is about all the surprising, potentially deceptive stuff we found.”
    brb, installing Pi-Hole.

    (tags: children kids ads advertising apps android google ftc games iap)

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Links for 2018-10-30

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Links for 2018-10-26

  • “The first AI portrait in Christie’s” was mostly output from someone else’s open-source code

    The print was created by Obvious, a trio of 25-year-old French students whose goal is to “explain and democratize” AI through art. Over the past year, they’ve made a series of portraits depicting members of the fictional Belamy family, amplifying their work through attention-grabbing press releases. But insiders say the code used to generate these prints is mostly the work of another artist and programmer: 19-year-old Robbie Barrat, a recent high school graduate who shared his algorithms online via an open-source license. The members of Obvious don’t deny that they borrowed substantially from Barrat’s code, but until recently, they didn’t publicize that fact either. This has created unease for some members of the AI art community, which is open and collaborative and taking its first steps into mainstream attention.[…] Jason Bailey, a digital art blogger who runs the site Artnome, says that what Obvious has done is far from unusual. “It’s almost weekly in digital art that someone takes some open code and tweaks it and sells it,” he tells The Verge. But the prominence of this auction and the fact that Obvious, not Barrat, has received the attendant prestige and attention does complicate the matter. “There’s a lot of stuff you can do that’s legal, but that makes you sort of a jerk,” adds Bailey. “If I was Robbie, I’d be pretty miffed, and Obvious said they owe him a great deal of credit.” Barrat says he holds no grudges at all and is mostly annoyed that the auction might give outsiders the wrong impression about AI art. “I’m more concerned about the fact that actual artists using AI are being deprived of the spotlight,” he says. “It’s a very bad first impression for the field to have.”

    (tags: ai art graphics history open-source ownership copyright obvious robbie-barrat digital)

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Links for 2018-10-23

  • pusher/k8s-spot-rescheduler

    ‘Tries to move K8s Pods from on-demand to spot instances’:

    K8s Spot rescheduler is a tool that tries to reduce load on a set of Kubernetes nodes. It was designed with the purpose of moving Pods scheduled on AWS on-demand instances to AWS spot instances to allow the on-demand instances to be safely scaled down (By the Cluster Autoscaler). In reality the rescheduler can be used to remove load from any group of nodes onto a different group of nodes. They just need to be labelled appropriately. For example, it could also be used to allow controller nodes to take up slack while new nodes are being scaled up, and then rescheduling those pods when the new capacity becomes available, thus reducing the load on the controllers once again.

    (tags: k8s kubernetes aws scaling spot-instances ops)

  • LiV Pi

    Air quality sensor board for Raspberry Pis, with a good quality self-calibrating NDIR CO2 sensor

    (tags: co2 air quality monitoring metrics health home raspberry-pi hardware to-get)

  • Motorola and iFixit—A Match Made in Mobile

    This is awesome.

    Motorola is setting an example for major manufacturers to embrace a more open attitude towards repair. If you’re a Motorola customer, you can now either send in your broken device directly to Motorola for repair—or you can fix it yourself with the highest quality parts and tools, plus a free step-by-step guide, all included in our official Motorola OEM Fix Kits.

    (tags: motorola repair ifixit hardware mobile)

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Links for 2018-10-19

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Links for 2018-10-18

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Links for 2018-10-17

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Links for 2018-10-16

  • Bitcoin must die

    If Bitcoin were to cease trading tomorrow, 0.5% of the world’s electricity demand would simply disappear. This is roughly equivalent to the output of ten coal-fired power plants, emitting 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year – which would cover one year’s worth of the carbon emission cuts required to limit temperature rises this century to 2C. It is not a solution by itself, but it would be a good year’s work. Bitcoin is made from ashes, and if ashes were legal tender, humanity would burn everything in sight and call it progress.

    (tags: environment bitcoin ecology future earth cryptocurrencies pow electricity climate-change)

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Links for 2018-10-12

  • ‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention | Environment | The Guardian

    Well this is terrifying.

    Can civilisation prolong its life until the end of this century? “It depends on what we are prepared to do.” He fears it will be a long time before we take proportionate action to stop climatic calamity. “Standing in the way is capitalism. Can you imagine the global airline industry being dismantled when hundreds of new runways are being built right now all over the world? It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”

    (tags: climate capitalism environment future scary mayer-hillman)

  • Querying OpenStreetMap Buildings with AWS Athena – door2door Engineering

    Well this is damn cool:

    AWS not only made OpenStreetMap planet data available on S3, but it also made it query-able with Athena. Pretty cool, no? Now, in theory, you can just construct an SQL query, send it to Athena, and then do whatever you want with the results. No more: Updating OSM planet data yourself; it gets updated on AWS whenever OSM publishes it, once a week. Transforming the data into a query-able format; Athena handles that for you. Query/request frequency limits (it’s still AWS though, so other limitations might apply ???? ????) At door2door, we had a pretty straight-forward use-case for this: we needed to get buildings in specific regions based only on where they were, and transform those buildings into GeoJSON that we can attach our data to, and visualize on the front-end on top of our base map.

    (tags: athena osm buildings aws geodata mapping maps door2door cool hacks)

  • Opinion | When Your Boss Is an Algorithm – The New York Times

    I have learned that drivers at ride-hailing companies may have the freedom and flexibility of gig economy work, but they are still at the mercy of a boss — an algorithmic boss.  Data and algorithms are presented as objective, neutral, even benevolent: Algorithms gave us super-convenient food delivery services and personalized movie recommendations. But Uber and other ride-hailing apps have taken the way Silicon Valley uses algorithms and applied it to work, and that’s not always a good thing.

    (tags: algorithms uber gig-economy work)

  • A Soyuz “ballistic re-entry” which subjected the crew to 21 g

    At the time when the safety system initiated separation the spacecraft was already pointed downward toward Earth, which accelerated its descent significantly. Instead of the expected acceleration in such an emergency situation of 15 g (147 m/s²), the cosmonauts experienced up to 21.3 g (209 m/s²).[2] Despite very high overloading, the capsule’s parachutes opened properly and slowed the craft to a successful landing after a flight of only 21 minutes.

    (tags: spaceflight soyuz accidents history cosmonauts)

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Links for 2018-10-11

  • How To Survive The Coming Century

    New Scientist article from 2009 with a rather terrifying map of the 4-degrees-warmer Earth

    (tags: earth new-scientist climate fear)

  • IPCC 1.5 degrees target requires massive carbon dioxide removal technology efforts

    The grimmest prognosis in the draft report is in the details of the effort it would take to actually limit warming to 1.5°C. Countries won’t just have to give up fossil fuels and stop emitting greenhouse gases; they’ll have to pull carbon dioxide straight out of the air. “All pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C with limited or no overshoot project the use of carbon dioxide removal (CDR),” according to the report. And not just a little, but a lot, upward of 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by the end of the century. This will require machines that scrub carbon dioxide out of the air as well as biofuels coupled with carbon capture and sequestration. These tactics have their own energy demands and environmental drawbacks, and we may not be able to deploy them in time. “CDR deployment of several hundreds of [gigatons of CO2] is subject to multiple feasibility and sustainability constraints,” according to the IPCC report.

    (tags: cdr co2 greenhouse-gases climate-change technology ipcc un)

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Links for 2018-10-10

  • The 100 best restaurants, cafes and places to eat in Ireland

    the Irish Times latest foodie list, via Aoife McElwain

    (tags: irish-times food cafes eating dublin foodie restaurants)

  • A Controversial Virus Study Shows Flaws in How Science Is Done – The Atlantic

    Absent clearer guidelines, the burden falls on the scientific enterprise to self-regulate—and it isn’t set up to do that well. Academia is intensely competitive, and “the drivers are about getting grants and publications, and not necessarily about being responsible citizens,” says Filippa Lentzos from King’s College London, who studies biological threats. This means that scientists often keep their work to themselves for fear of getting scooped by their peers. Their plans only become widely known once they’ve already been enacted, and the results are ready to be presented or published. This lack of transparency creates an environment where people can almost unilaterally make decisions that could affect the entire world. Take the horsepox study [the main topic of this article]. Evans was a member of a World Health Organization committee that oversees smallpox research, but he only told his colleagues about the experiment after it was completed. He sought approval from biosafety officers at his university, and had discussions with Canadian federal agencies, but it’s unclear if they had enough ethical expertise to fully appreciate the significance of the experiment. “It’s hard not to feel like he opted for agencies that would follow the letter of the law without necessarily understanding what they were approving,” says Kelly Hills, a bioethicist at Rogue Bioethics. She also sees a sense of impulsive recklessness in the interviews that Evans gave earlier this year. Science reported that he did the experiment “in part to end the debate about whether recreating a poxvirus was feasible.” And he told NPR that “someone had to bite the bullet and do this.” To Hills, that sounds like I did it because I could do it. “We don’t accept those arguments from anyone above age 6,” she says.

    (tags: the-atlantic science news smallpox horsepox diseases danger risk academia papers publish-or-perish bioethics ethics biology genetics)

  • Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women | Reuters

    Amazon’s computer models were trained to vet applicants by observing patterns in resumes submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Most came from men, a reflection of male dominance across the tech industry. […] Amazon’s system taught itself that male candidates were preferable. It penalized resumes that included the word “women’s,” as in “women’s chess club captain.” And it downgraded graduates of two all-women’s colleges, according to people familiar with the matter.’
    nice demo of algorithmic bias right there. Worrying that there are plenty of other places carrying on with the concept though….

    (tags: algorithmic-bias amazon hiring resumes bias feminism machine-learning ml)

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Links for 2018-10-08

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Links for 2018-10-05

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Links for 2018-10-03

  • Kubernetes: The Surprisingly Affordable Platform for Personal Projects

    At the beginning of the year I spent several months deep diving on Kubernetes for a project at work. As an all-inclusive, batteries-included technology for infrastructure management, Kubernetes solves many of the problems you’re bound to run into at scale. However popular wisdom would suggest that Kubernetes is an overly complex piece of technology only really suitable for very large clusters of machines; that it carries a large operational burden and that therefore using it for anything less than dozens of machines is overkill. I think that’s probably wrong. Kubernetes makes sense for small projects and you can have your own Kubernetes cluster today for as little as $5 a month.
    (via Tony Finch)

    (tags: via:fanf deployment howto kubernetes ops projects hacks clustering)

  • This is how cyber attackers stole £2.26m from Tesco Bank customers | ZDNet

    What a shitshow.

    Poor design of Tesco Bank debit cards played a significant role in creating security vulnerabilities that led to thousands of customers having their accounts emptied. One of these involved the PAN numbers — the 16-digit card number sequence used to identify all debit cards. Tesco Bank inadvertently issued debit cards with sequential PAN numbers. This increased the likelihood that the attackers would find the next PAN number in the sequence. It took 21 hours after the attack began before Tesco Bank’s Fraud Strategy Team was informed about the incident. Only after what the FCA describes as a “series of errors” — including Tesco Bank’s Financial Crime Operations Team sending an email to the wrong address, instead of making a phone call as procedure requires — was the fraud team made aware of the attack. In all that time, nothing had been done to stop the attacks, with fraudulent transactions continuing to siphon money from accounts as the bank received more and more calls from worried customers.

    (tags: tesco fail tesco-bank banking pan-numbers debit-cards security fraud uk)

  • Running high-scale web applications on Amazon EC2 Spot Instances

    AppNext’s setup looks like quite good practice for a CPU-bound fleet

    (tags: appnext spot-instances ec2 scalability aws ops architecture)

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Links for 2018-10-01

  • Amazon S3 Announces Selective Cross-Region Replication Based on Object Tags

    Amazon S3 Cross-Region Replication (CRR) now supports object filtering based on S3 object tags. This allows you to identify individual objects using S3 object tags for automatic replication across AWS Regions for compliance and/or data protection. CRR is an Amazon S3 feature that automatically replicates every object uploaded to an S3 bucket to a destination bucket in a different AWS Region that you choose. S3 object tags are key-value pairs applied to S3 objects that allow you to better organize, secure, and manage your data stored in S3. By using S3 object tags to determine which objects to replicate using CRR, you now have fine grained control to selectively replicate your storage to another AWS Region to backup critical data for compliance and disaster recovery.

    (tags: aws s3)

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Links for 2018-09-28

  • Estonia sues Gemalto for 152 mln euros over ID card flaws

    Estonia’s Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) said in a statement Gemalto had created private key codes for individual cards, leaving the government IDs vulnerable to external cyber attack, rather than embedding it on the card’s chip as promised. “It turned out that our partner had violated this principle for years, and we see this as a very serious breach of contract,” PPA’s deputy director-general Krista Aas said in the statement.
    If true, this is a big problem…

    (tags: gemalto fail security smartcards estonia chip-cards)

  • Defcon Voting Village report: Bug in one system could “flip Electoral College” | Ars Technica

    ES&S strike again:

    Today, six prominent information-security experts who took part in DEF CON’s Voting Village in Las Vegas last month issued a report on vulnerabilities they had discovered in voting equipment and related computer systems. One vulnerability they discovered—in a high-speed vote-tabulating system used to count votes for entire counties in 23 states—could allow an attacker to remotely hijack the system over a network and alter the vote count, changing results for large blocks of voters. “Hacking just one of these machines could enable an attacker to flip the Electoral College and determine the outcome of a presidential election,” the authors of the report warned. The machine in question, the ES&S M650, is used for counting both regular and absentee ballots. The device from Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Nebraska, is essentially a networked high-speed scanner like those used for scanning standardized-test sheets, usually run on a network at the county clerk’s office. Based on the QNX 4.2 operating system—a real-time operating system developed and marketed by BlackBerry, currently up to version 7.0—the M650 uses Iomega Zip drives to move election data to and from a Windows-based management system. It also stores results on a 128-megabyte SanDisk Flash storage device directly mounted on the system board. The results of tabulation are output as printed reports on an attached pin-feed printer. The report authors—Matt Blaze of the University of Pennsylvania, Jake Braun of the University of Chicago, David Jefferson of the Verified Voting Foundation, Harri Hursti and Margaret MacAlpine of Nordic Innovation Labs, and DEF CON founder Jeff Moss—documented dozens of other severe vulnerabilities found in voting systems. They found that four major areas of “grave and undeniable” concern need to be addressed urgently. One of the most critical is the lack of any sort of supply-chain security for voting machines—there is no way to test the machines to see if they are trustworthy or if their components have been modified.

    (tags: fail security evoting vote-tabulation us-politics voting-machines)

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Links for 2018-09-27

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