Show and Tell – Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017

We Know Where You Live

Google Collects Android Users' Locations Even When Location Services Are Disabled | Quartz — I’m not part of any holy war, but I’d prefer to have the control that an iPhone gives me

Something is wrong on the internet | James Bridle – Medium — You don’t need to be a parent to find this deeply disturbing. Being a parent makes it doubly so. Buzzfeed reported this week that ‘YouTube Is Addressing Its Massive Child Exploitation Problem’, but this smacks of PR to me. Experience tells us they will do the minimum amount necessary to hush the growing noise.

When Your Kid Tries to Say ‘Alexa' Before ‘Mama' | the Washington Post — If you know anything about socialisation, and/or language development you will recognise what is happening here.

To Save Net Neutrality, We Must Build Our Own Internet | Motherboard — This is an optimistic spin on what looks a shitty situation in the states.

Libraries Look to Big Data to Measure Their Worth–and Better Help Students | EdSurge News — ‘big data’ has become such a catch all. Thankfully for patrons, most libraries tend to value privacy. There are always exceptions

Welcome to the jungle

Amazon Key Flaw Could Let Rogue Deliverymen Disable Your Camera | WIRED — Talk about extreme trade-offs. There has got to be a better way than giving access to your house? Is anyone actually surprised this thing is vulnerable?

Amazon Launches New Cloud Storage Service for U.S. Spy Agencies – the Washington Post — Security is possible, just not for you

Tips and Tricks

Supported Mac Models for Night Shift in High Sierra 10.13.2 | Pike's Universum — If your Mac isn’t supported for night shift, it’s seems that fl.ux is not your only option. This hack is for the brave

iOS 11.2 Beta 3 Introduces Pop-Up to Explain Control Center Wi-Fi/Bluetooth | Mac Rumors – I find this is amusing. Apple changed the behaviour of the Wi-Fi shortcut in control centre in an effort to cut down on the support labour they had to spend to explain it to people. This would suggest that has backfired a little, or not. Either way, it appears people will be confused.

Last Thoughts on Modifier Keys | All This – The doctor continues his philosophical dive on shortcuts and modifier Keys. Like I said, the detail is delightfully nerdy. However, there is something a little obvious I want to point out. I suspect The modifiers are represented as an analogue of their physical location. The Command key is closest to the letter keys, and so on. Not that I care to enter a holy war on programmatic symbolism, it’s more that something’s don’t actually have any real deep meaning. They simply are as they appear to be.

Get Free Private GitHub Repositories Through GitHub Education – Prof Hacker makes a good point, not a lot of people know about GitHub eduction generosity

What Else Floats

Apple Only Wants to Put Its Stores Where White People Live | the Outline — Further to Apple recently deciding it’s stores were the new“the public square” – the white washed square that is. Don’t get me started on the monetisation of the public square. Watch this slide right off. Nothing sticks.

Two Major Cydia Hosts Shut Down as Jailbreaking Fades in Popularity – Mac Rumors – I can understand why interest is waning in jail breaking. The restrictions in iOS are no longer as severe as they once were, and with tools like Workflow it is becoming less and less worth trading off your security for unrestricted access to the file system. Improvements to Android probably have something to do with this too. Android has the ugly but ridiculously powerful Tasker system for automation for those who really want to go nuts

To See Such Fun

LEGO Robots Get Their Jam on | Synthtopia – Seriously cute. Fun.

Show and Tell – Monday, 20 Nov 2017

We Know Where You Live

How One Woman's Digital Life Was Weaponized Against Her | WIRED — Commenting on the ills of social media is a thing at the moment.

New Research: Understanding the Root Cause of Account Takeover | Google Online Security Blog — Google is one big permeative contradiction. On the one hand, they are at the centre of so many security and privacy issues. On the other, the provide a lot of insight into these issues more generally. If you are a Google app user, keeping up on this stuff is a good idea. The stated motivation for this research:

More than 15% of Internet users have reported experiencing the takeover of an email or social networking account. However, despite its familiarity, there is a dearth of research about the root causes of hijacking.

The actual publication can be found here

The Internet of Shit Is so Manifestly Insecure That People Are Staying Away From It in Droves | Boing Boing — Beware geeks enthusing about never having to reach for the light switch again. Although, Apple fans will just tell you the answer is HomeKit

The Drone Zone in Higher Education | University Business Magazine — Because this is what everyone associates with drones. Safety, and security. Nothing like an autonomous surveillance vehicle flying overhead to make you feel safe. We know who is selling these ideas, but who is buying?

Idle at Work

How to Draft a Dissertation in a Year | GradHacker — I don’t necessarily agree with the methods, and others are just plain obvious. What works for some, will not for others. Nonetheless, I have no doubt there are people breezing through here looking for shortcuts. If nothing else p, take from this the idea you need a plan

What Else Floats on Water

Command-E | All This — A knowledge base document has been doing the rounds, highlighting the depth of keyboard shortcuts available on the Mac. Dr Drang offers a way into it with one shortcut in particular. There is something oddly delightful about this site, these unique meditations on detail will not be for everyone, but I couldn’t tell you how much I pick up from them. If you just want the support document for the full list of shortcuts, look here

The Fairly Incomplete & Rather Badly Illustrated

Five Technologies That Will Rock Your World | the New York Times — Voice interaction, it turns out, is a mere stepping stone to a more intimate UI.

Facebook, Google and Others Join the Trust Project, an Effort to Increase Transparency Around Online News | TechCrunch — Yep, you read that right. Transparency is their modus operandi. That’s what they say. Must be true.

The Bright Side of Life

K Machine on the App Store — I can’t help stumbling across interesting music apps. I decided I will add a music app of the week to this collection of links. This is a mixed media app. A sampler, sequencer, and beat maker. If you have problems with inertia, or you were traumatised in the nineties by psychedelic screen savers, this app isn’t for you. If you had the opposite experience, check it out.

And Now, For Something Completely Different

Dupes Gather at Sold-Out Flat Earth International Conference | Boing Boing — What is most remarkable about a flat earth belief system is, these people have somehow convinced themselves (those who are convinced I mean, not the ones who are cashing in on the dupes) that the kind of epic collaboration necessary to maintain such a hoax is possible.

Show and Tell – Wednesday, 15 Nov 2017

We Know Where You Live

Big Brother Isn't Just Watching: Workplace Surveillance Can Track Your Every Move | World News | the Guardian – These techniques are just new versions of old ideas. Scientific management has ruled the workplace for the past hundred years or so. The inclination to treat people like this is tied up with the drive to extract as much value from them as possible. People are not people under these terms. They are units, opportunities, capital.

Right on Cue, DOJ Says Encryption ‘Surely Costs Lives' | the Mac Observer – I published a piece on encryption, and Dropbox alternatives last week. The Mac Observer is making some good points that put me on side.

DOJ: Strong Encryption That We Don't Have Access to Is “unreasonable” | Ars Technica – More on the fallacy of the week. False equivalence is rampant throughout this current run of stories on encryption. What is encouraging, however, is that nobody seems to be buying this nonsense. The so-called case for a back door is incoherent at best.

How Facebook Figures Out Everyone You've Ever Met – The lengths to which Facebook go have become so creepy that people are convinced they are listening to everything we say. Recently the hosts of Reply All spent an entire episode trying to convince people they aren’t literally listening. The point is they don’t need to, with so much self surveillance happening Facebook has all the context it needs to know what you are talking about.

Idle At Work

Fuck Twitter | Macdrifter – I like decisiveness. There a has been a lot written about Twitter lately, this piece is unique. I am unequivocally awful at Twitter, I have never made an effort. In fact, I didn’t have an account of my own until this year. And, I don’t give any compelling reason to follow me. It used to be because I thought there was a clue in the name. Now people are telling me it's worse.

How Social Media Endangers Knowledge | WIRED – This is not a new concern, it is just beg mainstreamed.

Social networks, though, have since colonized the web for television’s values. From Facebook to Instagram, the medium refocuses our attention on videos and images, rewarding emotional appeals—‘like’ buttons—over rational ones. Instead of a quest for knowledge, it engages us in an endless zest for instant approval from an audience, for which we are constantly but unconsciouly performing. (It’s telling that, while Google began life as a PhD thesis, Facebook started as a tool to judge classmates’ appearances.) It reduces our curiosity by showing us exactly what we already want and think, based on our profiles and preferences. Enlightenment’s motto of ‘Dare to know’ has become ‘Dare not to care to know.’

A Major Vulnerability Has Frozen Hundreds of Millions of Dollars of Ethereum | TechCrunch – It’s all fun and games, until its not. Virtual currency is like all monetary systems, vulnerable in different ways. By design, it also makes some people rich at the expense of others

What Also Floats on Water

The Ins and Outs of Apple's New File System, APFS | the Mac Security Blog – A little more detail on the new file system APFS. With everything now upgraded around here, I am yet to meet with any trouble. Neither have I noticed any amazing difference.

Using iPhone X TrueDepth Camera to Find Your Ideal Specs | Mac Rumors – This illustrates, excuse the pun, the divergence of use cases for this tech. One fork includes usefulness, the other concern. Where they will ultimately come together is through manipulation. Our economic and political system, not to mention our social milieu mean that it is inevitable that this technology will be used to track people for one reason or another. On the other hand, your new glasses will look better on your face.

Hackers Claim to Break Face ID a Week After iPhone X Release | WIRED – Two kinds of hype around this device.

Now Look Here

Future Perfect: What Will Universities Look Like in 2030? | Times Higher Education – This fits the trend. Everything is about robots, right?

Who Controls AI in Higher Ed, and Why It Matters (Part 1) | EdSurge News – The same forces that control everything else, what a surprise.

And Now, For Something Completely Different

Apple's ten years of iPhone mocked by Samsung – In case you missed it. An antidote is in order when you can’t seem to get away from the noise. The iPhone fetish is in overdrive at the moment. Some of the stuff I have read has been ridiculous. I’m not going to call them out here, but I read one article that suggested the iPhone 7 was ‘garbage’ now that the iPhone X is out. If that is not losing perspective, I don’t know what is.

Show and Tell – Monday, 06 Nov 2017

Idle at Work

We’re so unprepared for the robot apocalypse | The Washington Post — Analysis around this so-called apocalypse includes a lot of category errors.

One Bitcoin Transaction Now Uses as Much Energy as Your House in a Week – Motherboard – added a link to some comments on this last week too. This whole story is an illustration of a technocratic paradox in action. With the release of the so-called Paradise Papers, the power drain on anonymity is only going to get more intense.

We Know Where You Live

Parenting in the Age of Alexa, Are Artificial Intelligence Devices Safe for Kids? | NPR – The betteridge law of headlines states that any headline that ends with a question can be answered with ‘no’. There are layers of legitimate concerns.

Fraud Detection in Pokémon Go | Schneier on Security – This is a bit of a digression for Bruce Schneider, an intriguing one. Hopefully I can find some time to come back to this, I feel it has come interesting implications for an education context. Consider that analogy when Schneier writes,

Cheating detection in virtual reality games is going to be a constant problem as these games become more popular, especially if there are ways to monetize the results of cheating. This means that cheater detection will continue to be a critical component of these games' success. Anything Niantic learns in Pokémon Go will be useful in whatever games come next.

Critical Tor Flaw Leaks Users' Real IP Address — update Now – Despite its reputation, TOR has a lot of legitimate uses. Either way, users don’t use it thinking the6 can leak their IP. It might not be as secure as you think, but you can do something about that by staying on top of updates

Now Look Here

10 Fascinating Things We Learned When We Asked the World ‘How Connected Are You?' |  the Mozilla Blog – Methodology is always lacking with these types of studies. Try defining what ‘world’ means in this context , and you will understand what I’m getting at. Nonetheless, there are still learnings to be taken

Steve the Fruiterer

An Apple (AAPL) engineer has reportedly been fired after his daughter's iPhone X review from inside the campus went viral | Quartz – What to say about this.

Broaden Your Mind

But what is a Neural Network? | Deep learning, chapter 1 | YouTube – The narrator is pretty grating, but you might learn something if you can cope with him.

Potentially Useful

Cardhop — I don’t have a great need for contact management at the moment, but it is an important area of administration for academics. If you have unruly contacts, this will be worth a look. I wrote up an alternative to Fantastical a couple of days ago. But when it goes to natural language parsing, Flexibits really have nailed it.

And Now, For Something Completely Different

By Human Error, we mean a Human deactivated his account on purpose – Some nice corporate speak to explain what lead to that brief moment of Jouissance . It might not have lasted long, but it must have felt pretty satisfying to push the button on this.

Inside The Great Poop Emoji Feud – The Emoji wars rage on. First there was the burger, and now this.

Something Completely Different for 30 October, 2017

Tape.jpg

Crazy couple of weeks in our little corner of the universe. Those of you who check in here regularly will have noticed the relative silence.  Personal interruptions have required my presence elsewhere. At the risk of marking this page with famous last words, the schedule looks to be clearing for the rest of this week.  So I will be back at it, updating the site. I have a whole lot of new content to finish off and post.

In the meantime, here are the results of link gathering on education and tech over the past couple of weeks. A lot of security and privacy material as usual. The ‘Week Links’ title was a bit, well frankly it was weak. Let’s face it, this is not an original endeavour. Nonetheless, in the spirit of sharing I will keep it up. With any luck nomenclature will take care of itself.

Security and Privacy

New KRACK Attack Against Wi-Fi Encryption | Schneier on Security – This is old news by now. But Bruce Schneier’s perspective on anything security related is always worth a look. Even if it is brief. If anyone is still worried about it. Thankfully for Apple users, the patch has been applied

Want to See Something Crazy? Open This Link on Your Phone With WiFi Turned Off. – The demo links in this article no longer work, but enough evidence in screen grabs and first hand experience confirms this is all real. Another confirmation of what we already know. Everything is for sale.

Who Is Keeping Student Data Safe in the Era of Digital Learning? | the Hechinger Report – This problem is something we ought to hear more about . I have mentioned some of the threats facing universities, and steps we might take in light of those threats. But data security in general in education is a massive concern. Huge amounts of data is collected, and it would be naive to think there are not a lot of interested parties.

Stealing Sensitive Browser Data With the W3C Ambient Light Sensor API – I used to run a tricked out version of Firefox, with Avery conceivable privacy add on. Until I realised that Safari gives me all of that protection without having to encumber it with hacky code and a litany of update requests. This is the kind of development tha5 has me caught in a double bind with Apple native apps. John Gruber seems to think that Safari will keep you ahead of this by having to ask for permission. The inevitable shady implementation of this makes me wonder.

iOS Camera Privacy | Felix Krause – Apple trades on privacy, which makes it all the more easy for people to fall into traps. It doesn’t hurt to check over your security settings occasionally. One major improvement in photo/camera security is the way the photo picker API has been update in iOS 11. More granular permissions mean less indiscriminate access, but don’t let that lure you into a false sense of security

Sweep of Educational Apps Finds Some Fall Short on Privacy | Markets Insider – This is a test case, insofar as it relates to Canada. But that is how science works folks, for the rest of us these findings are likely to hold. You will have to click through to the actual report to see the services mentioned, it is suitably detailed.

Professor Shames Entire Class by Publishing Students' Browsing History | the Independent – This is where my sense of humour meets an impasse with my values. On the one hand the invasion of privacy is shocking. On the other hand, this is very amusing.

Orchid creates internet protocol to defeat censorship and surveillance | Axios – The skeptic in me acts up when I read something like this. We need to be aware of definitions. For one thing this is a VC backed gig. I would like to know more. One suspects being free from censorship doesn’t mean being free from being tracked and traced.

Keybase: Crypto for (Almost) Everyone) – Seeing as we are on the topic Key base refresher

Useful

Updated Mail Vacuuming Script | BrettTerpstra.com – This one is for Apple mail users. You can follow the link through to the original version of Brett’s script, if you want to know more. Essentially it optimises one’s apple mail database, thereby making the whole experience more efficient. I use Airmailmostly, but I check in on Apple Mail occasionally as it has improved out of site in the past couple of years. If you want to use rules with AppleScript for example, then Apple Mail is the way to go. But I digress, this is really only useful for existing users

Workflow iOS- Multi-Site Search With DuckDuckGo – Gabe at Macdrifter.com has been running a series called Tip jar. There are some useful nuggets in there. This is another iOS Workflowrecipe. If you are looking to learn how to use Workflow, looking at examples of how folks use it is a good place to start.

TextExpander dates and times | All this – One of the most helpful tools you will ever invest in is TextExpander, or any of its equivalents. I am still a lightweight user of the technology at this point, but I have still saved an eye popping amount of time by using it. Dr Drang on the other hand, is really someone you can learn from.

Quitting Evernote for DEVONthink – Some of that yet to be finished content I mention up front has to do with my use of DEVONthink. I moved my operation over from Evernote some time ago, and I haven’t regretted it once. Once I got over the UI inertia I had, I was able to Strat peeling back the layers of a very impression onion. More evangelising on DEVONthink soon.

Bits and Bolts

The Ridiculous Amount of Energy It Takes to Run Bitcoin | Michael Tsai – Unintended consequences, and hidden effects. Why bitcoin may not be the force you thought it was. What did you think it was? Incidentally, is it time to cash out yet?

The iPad Pro as main computer for programming – This is not the first time I have come across an affirmative answer to this question. One of the reasons I migrated this site from Squarespace to WordPress was so I could better control the site from my iPad. It is not exactly the same as coding for a living, but the point was that the iPad is capable of this stuff if you want to go there. 1

That Fruit Company

Hey Siri: An on-Device DNN-Powered Voice Trigger for Apple's Personal Assistant – Apple – If you have the time, and you want to know how machine learning works with Siri. This in language you might understand.

Tim Cook: Mac Mini Will Be ‘Important Part' of Future Product Lineup – Apparently the Mac Mini is not dead yet. I would love to believe this is true. I guess we shall see. Or not.

Full Scale of Apple's Patent Loss to VirnetX Is Now Clear: $440 Million – The real reason for those stockpiles of cash. They will be needed.

There's one good reason to update to macOS High Sierra | The Verge – I have found the update to be pretty good so far. The copy-on-write function of APFS is amazing. But I would have to agree, nothing beats being able to switch of auto play. You could always hack into this, but this is a welcome change. As for the tracking protection, the new provision is a positive development, but in practical terms it is like stabbing an elephant with a clothes peg.

Media Consumption

New VR Tech Aims to Take Surround-Sound to the Next Level | Scientific American – Anyone who has dabbled with VR will know that, while sometimes incredible, often it can invoke a kind of sensory dissonance. This will only be overcome for the technology when the sensory experience is more totalised. These advances are intriguing.

How Elsa, Spider-Man Trick Kids Into Watching Violent YouTube Videos – I have first hand experience of this at work. This is also another illustration of one of the internet’s central dichotomies. The only way to have any real control over the content being imbibed by children is to login and submit to being tracked. It is the digital equivalent of the social contract. We give up our freedom in return for our safety. Except, in this version you give up your privacy for the right to manage what content is consumed. In turn the choices over that content are also handed over, bundled up and monetised.

Technology Overuse May Be the New Digital Divide | the Hechinger Report – You just have to look at the reverse trend in rich Silicon Valley folk sending their kids to device free schools to see this trend is doing an about turn. Moderation is now a privilege

For the Fun of it

Extract from Plato’s Republic: On That Which is Correct Politically | McSweeney’s – There are layers to this. Not that it really matters. Every one of those layers is amusing. It reminded of Stewart Lee’s wonderfully measured bit on the same topic

Media Lab Job Application – I cannot describe how on the money this is. The only possible retort would be to accept the application. So good.

  1. I have also encountered the inevitable pedants, splitting hairs over whether this is really coding on an iPad, or on a remote machine. This is where realists have it all over sophists. The practicality is what matters here.

Week Links – October 9th 2017

Interesting

New Open Publishing Platform “Janeway” | Profhacker – Nerds meet academic publishing . I wholeheartedly support any and all open access endeavours. The academic publishing world is not only dominated by large corporate entities that prefer closed access to maximise gains from academic labour. If you know nothing of how the industry works, you won’t have to go far to find out how fraught the whole process is. Projects like this are vital for giving the push into open access the user experience required to make it successful. Then there is the name, what’s not to like.

iOS 11: The Pixel Envy Review | Pixel Envy – The reviews are still rolling in. If you were waiting for something more concise than the epics I linked to last week, this is a much more succinct account.

‘Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities’ – That such a relationship exists between higher education and governmental surveillance agencies shouldn’t come as a surprise. The details, however, will surely be interesting.

I never signed up for this! Privacy implications of email tracking – I intend for security and privacy concerns to be writ large in the DNA of this site. This is a blog post detailing a research paper on the growing prevalence of email tracking. Where you may think a feature like read receipts is relatively harmless, but they belong on this particular slippery slope. I would encourage all users to disable remote content in their email clients.

Why Apple could be slapped with a massive $15 billion Irish tax bill | Ars Technica – Apologists spend a lot of time rationalising this away. Apple trades on so-called ethical principles, but as important as environmental concerns are, Apple’s collective conscience is sure found wanting where labour and taxation are concerned. Countries like Ireland already go out of there way to prostrate themselves with minimal company tax rates. Apple has Ireland so far over the barrel with this they are fighting against collecting the payment. As for Apple, settling this account will probably ruin them

Silicon Valley’s $300M donation to STEM education is not what it seems – Salon.com – Another case of collective image management meets a convenient marriage of determinism and opportunism. It’s good to see that analysis of the tech industry isn’t all glorified cheer leading and consumer salivating.

“Eton for all”: will robot teachers mean everyone gets an elite education? – Because actual intelligence seems to be giving up?

‘Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia | Technology | The Guardian – Appropriately, this piece on hyperactive attention and addictive technology is a long read.

Uber app can silently record iPhone screens, researcher finds | ZDNet – There is cause for real concern here. I’m genuinely surprised at how deafening the silence is from all the enthusiast blogs. What bothers me is that Apple trades on its privacy stance — and I’m buying on that basis no less. As Michael Tsai put it, this is shocking hypocrisy.

Self-driving cars are coming faster than you think. What will that mean for public radio? | Nieman Journalism Lab – Beyond the technical details, most of the conversation on this topic has either focused on disruption to the automatic industry, safety and legal matters, or design and planning. I haven’t seen much on the question of what will happen to the space inside the car. Cue attempts to monetise and capitalise on that space, it certain won’t be long before it is cast as an opportunity for productivity.

Useful

Chalk One Up for Augmented Reality | ProfHacker – The author calls the demo of this app grating, I would agree. But seriously, is the pun in the title not enough? Nonetheless, I can see how useful this could be for education purposes.

iMazing introduces free conversion of Apple’s new .HEIC image format – My sense is, this will most likely be very useful while we deal with bedding in a new image format. While I’m at it, iMazing has another free product that is incredibly useful, theiMazing Mini iOS backup client.

Markdown Service Tools 2.16 | Brett Terpstra –  This is just one of many clever utilities and automatons that Brett has made and distributed freely. Along with his SearchLink tools, this saves me a serious amount of time when writing for the web.

Win a copy of 60 Mac Tips: Volume 2 – Having said how useful those Terpstra Tools are, it would be remiss of me not to mention the new volume of 60 Mac Tips that Brett has release with David ‘MacSparky' Sparks. There is still time to join the draw for a free copy.

Fun

Samplebot iPhone Demo – YouTube – This is an example of two things. First, the incredible ingenuity of the iPhone for making music — among other things. And two, how quality video production doesn’t always equal success on YouTube. Trust me, this is a way better produced video than so much of what is being offered in the iOS music production world. Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon had a lot to do with making A Tasty Pixel’s first app Loopy HD famous, and he is already putting Samplebot through its paces with some amusing remixes