Data Architect, Ph.D, Information Technologist, Gamer
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Anatomy of a Defamation

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Last month, while this site was down, I published a recollection of the last two years of systematic character assassination at Medium. (I’ve had a few tech problems while writing about the Global Corruption Scandal, as have many of my colleagues.) Having produced my wrap up of life in America since my Game Theory Twitter thread, it compliments the story ...

The post Anatomy of a Defamation appeared first on Eric Garland.

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denubis
2 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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Encrypted Messaging App Signal Says It Won’t Comply With Australia’s New Backdoor Bill

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Last week, Australia’s parliament passed a new law that theoretically allows the country’s government to compel tech companies to assist law enforcement agencies by modifying software, should that be needed for officials to retrieve whatever information it is they want.

This so-called “technical capability notice” is the most controversial part of the law, which critics fear will allow the Australian government to essentially mandate backdoors to encryption software like secure messaging apps, or mobile devices like the iPhone.

Open Whisper Systems, the organization that makes the popular Signal encrypted messaging app, has now come out with a strong statement against the law: “We can’t include a backdoor in Signal,” developer Joshua Lund wrote in a blog post published on Signal’s official site on Thursday.

“By design, Signal does not have a record of your contacts, social graph, conversation list, location, user avatar, user profile name, group memberships, group titles, or group avatars,” Lund added. “The end-to-end encrypted contents of every message and voice/video call are protected by keys that are entirely inaccessible to us. In most cases now we don’t even have access to who is messaging whom.”

Got a tip? You can contact this reporter securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, OTR chat at lorenzofb@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzo@motherboard.tv

As we wrote in the Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked, Signal is one of our favorite messaging apps for security and privacy. Millions of people around the world use the app. And the company’s statement is a well-argued reaction to the law that sends a clear message: Signal would rather have the app banned than comply with an overreaching order.

“Although we can’t include a backdoor in Signal, the Australian government could attempt to block the service or restrict access to the app itself. Historically, this strategy hasn’t worked very well. Whenever services get blocked, users quickly adopt VPNs or other network obfuscation techniques to route around the restrictions,” Lund’s post concluded. “This doesn’t seem like smart politics, but nothing about this bill seems particularly smart,”

Signal isn’t alone there either. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants have already sent a strong-worded letter condemning the bill.

And it’s not just rhetoric. What Signal is saying here is that it can’t, at a technical level, comply with orders to turn over the encrypted content of messages sent over the app. And according to critics, therein lies the danger of Australia’s bill, which has yet to become law. Will it allow the country-continent, home to nearly 25 million people, to compel Apple to create a one-off version of its operating system to get into, say, a terrorist’s phone?

At this point, no one knows for sure. But privacy-minded companies and organizations are already fearing, and speaking against, this worst case scenario.

Listen to CYBER, Motherboard’s new weekly podcast about hacking and cybersecurity.



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denubis
3 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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Comic 2760

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denubis
3 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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A Final Exam Blessing

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To those not studying, this may seem odd, but it has happened more than once that a student has asked me for a blessing just before the start of a three-hour final exam I am about to invigilate.  The post-secondary teacher/student relationship has changed since I was a student.  I look them in their eyes, and offer a few words of encouragement.

After giving more thought to the appropriate words to give, I want to lay them out here.  I am calling it:

A Final Exam Blessing (the long version)

Here you are and how far you have come.  There is fear in your eyes and worry in your heart, but it is all misplaced.  Let me explain.

If you are worried today, it is probably true that you have been worried all semester.  That worry, so long as it is measured and not disproportionate, has served you well.  It has pushed you to master content to the best of your ability given the constraints of time, life, and your effectiveness as a student.

If this is you, then you need not fear today.  Take your fear and transform it into confidence.  You need not worry either.  Worry is for yesterday.  On the day of the exam, take your worry and transpose it to alertness and focus.  Dark chocolate will help you to do this.

If the above does not describe you, and you do indeed have what to fear because you are indeed under-prepared, much of the same applies.  You are, and probably have been for some time, in what may be referred to as 'damage control mode'.  It is a hard place to function for extended periods of time.  The good news is it will be over soon, as next semester is a new one, and you are free to transform from the start, and alter your functioning such that the patterns that did not serve you this semester are replaced by patterns that do.

I want to tell you about one student I had some years ago.  She may be unaware of this to this day, but she actually smiles from ear to ear while taking exams.  I never told her about it, because I did not want her to be self-conscious about it.  From my point of view, I had to restrain myself from laughing during examinations. There were forty students sitting in front of me; thirty-nine of them looked mildly panicked, and one is simply beaming.  In another context, this could be the setup to an exceptional horror film.

I am not suggesting that you should smile while writing exams.  What I am suggesting is that the confidence you have rightfully earned should allow you to smile on the inside while you maintain your serious exterior.

Be alert.  Remain focused.  Hundreds of hours have been invested on your part - your worry is now over.  It is actually possible to enjoy the moment, and celebrate how far you have come.


A Final Exam Blessing (the short version)

Here you are and how far you have come

There is fear in your eyes and worry in your heart, but it is all misplaced

You need not fear - take your fear and transform it into confidence
  
You need not worry either - worry is for yesterday
On the day of exam, take your worry and transpose it to alertness and focus

 In this moment, celebrate how far you have come.


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denubis
4 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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Peak Brexit

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Just popping in to note that, in the wake of the failed ERG leadership challenge against Theresa May, Brexit hysteria has escalated so far that mainstream political pundits in major newspapers are invoking Cthulhu in print. Words fail me. I really, truly, cannot cope with this shit: the Laundry Files are satire, dammit, not a political documentary!

(Normal blogging might resume whenever I manage to stop gibbering in a closet.)

You can use the comments here as a continuation of the last-but-one thread, now that one has burned past a thousand and is kinda slow to load.

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denubis
4 days ago
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The Last Thing You See Before Being Attacked by a DIY Drone Swarm

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YouTuber Michael Reeves programmed a swarm of a dozen drones to automatically detect his face and launch themselves at his head.

Reeves outfitted the drones with Arduino computers and radio modules, connecting them to a network, and then he connected his laptop to that network. Cameras on the front of the flying death machines detect faces, but only a couple of the drones actually run the facial recognition software to save processing power, according to his description in the video. The ones that do communicate to two others, which follow that leader toward a face.

Namely, Reeves’ face.

His first test run was a disjointed mess, the video shows, with the drones unable to find his face and the “followers” flipping over and hitting the ceiling. On the second and third attempts, Reeves lowered the facial recognition threshold, making it easier for them to find a face in the blank white room they were flying in.

After a few keyboard commands, they take off and aim straight for his head.

It appears as though these test runs were pretty harmless—at worst, Reeves is probably a little sore from being hit with cheap drone propellers. But as he noted in the video as well, I can’t help but think that if you attached a few spinning blades, then you’d have yourself an army of bloodthirsty human-detecting death machines.



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denubis
6 days ago
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Sydney, Australia
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