Something Completely Different for 30 October, 2017

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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.

Experts consider significance of Apple’s deal with Ohio State

Experts consider significance of Apple's deal with Ohio State – As these so-called experts mull this over, there are a couple of ways we can look at it. For a start, I find the idea that so-called university leaders are usually skeptical of corporate partnerships to be a spurious claim. The corporatisation of the University is well documented. The business school at the University of Auckland is notorious for having used McDonalds branded course materials, on top of which they gave new meaning to content marketing by using the same company for examples in examinations. Some people might feel it is a stretch to make such comparisons, but these are sponsorship deals plain and simple. Or are they?

If Apple truly commits to innovation in higher education, it could “really move the needle,” said Kim, as other companies like Google and Microsoft could follow suit. “All of these companies would be smart to put educational innovation, and partnerships with higher education, at the center of their plans,” Kim said, but he noted that such progress would not mean that university leaders would stop being skeptical of the return on investment of large-scale technology-adoption projects and company partnerships.

It is also worth considering the de facto technology monopoly held by Microsoft — obviously not just in education. 1 The ubiquity of class rooms with Apple computers in the mid eighties was almost forgotten in the haze of the past twenty years, where compatibility with Microsoft’s server technology and Office software decoupled most other solutions from the conversation. Google has had a significant say on recent detours from this narrative, but it is apparent that Apple is pushing back. The 5th generation iPad released this year was the first hint that deals like this would be coming. Although, this deal has gone well beyond the utility of that device, which is more than appropriate for higher education use.

The opportunity for colleges to arrange similar partnerships with Apple is something many would be watching closely, Kim said. He noted that his and other colleges have already been in contact with Apple to discover where they might collaborate. “This Ohio State partnership is certainly bigger in scope and scale than other partnerships that I’ve heard about, but it is in line with how I’ve been watching Apple’s approach to higher education evolve over the past couple of years,” said Kim.

More on this when the experts get back to us.

  1. Yes, I know this is hyperbole.