Show and Tell – 3rd April, 2018

Best Facebook Privacy Links.jpg

We Know Where You Live

The subheadings for this link gathering exercise might seem like nonsense. They are, it’s true, but not random nonsense. 1 If you recognise their origin, maybe you've also picked up how this particular Python title has taken on more meaning recently.

MoviePass CEO: ‘We Watch How You Drive From Home to the Movies'   Surely we're waking up to all this, right? Beware the ills of convenience

According to Media Play News, CEO Mitch Lowe told those at a business forum that the movie subscription service's app not only tracks your location, but follows you to and from the theater. “We watch how you drive from home to the movies,” he said, adding that “we watch where you go afterwards.” Not surprisingly, the company is hoping to understand customer habits and “build a night at the movies.”

How Widely Do Companies Share User Data? Here’s A Chilling Glimpse | Fastcodesign The tangible cause and effect of the Facebook revelations have the tech media in a spin. Meanwhile, Paypal quietly released details of their data sharing practices in January to comply within European law. That the response was just as quiet shows how routine a practice this is. This one is particularly galling given the paucity of genuine alternatives.

Group Madness

I’m still coming to terms with the level of surprise writ large in this debacle. The contemporary social contract has been a digital exchange for some time. Self surveillance is the norm, not an exception.

Facebook Has Had Countless Privacy Scandals. But This One Is Different The optimist has it this will incite a revolt. As much as I’d like to believe it, I see little around me to support the claim. I haven’t logged into Facebook for months, my reticence long established. However, I would wager that rolling through my ‘news’ feed will be a strangely self contained outrage directed at Facebook, within Facebook itself.

This is a data collection scandal. This is a scandal triggered by a specific incident, but that is broadly about the ways massive companies track us, harvest information from us, and then sell us as coercion targets in sophisticated information campaigns that could be for anything from diapers to mattresses to anti-vax literature.

The story will endure not because of animosity toward political data use but because it perfectly touches upon a deeper anxiety about our online privacy that’s been building for years. Indeed, the Cambridge Analytica scandal could well be the catalyst for a much bigger targeting revolt — a full-scale personal and public reckoning that looks at the way we’ve used the internet for the last decade. It’s a moment that forces us, collectively, to step back and think about what we sacrificed for a more convenient and connected world. And on an internet that feels increasingly toxic it’s hard to look at the tradeoffs we’ve made and feel like we’re getting a fair deal.

Then again, I’m just as likely to find all the awkward emotional oversharing, inner monologues, and general nonsense as usual.

Why Nothing Is Going To Happen To Facebook Or Mark Zuckerberg  On the flip-side. Where some see revolt, others see business as usual.

With Wall Street leading the way, the four entities with the strongest ability to cause long-term damage to Facebook in response to revelations that Cambridge Analytica illicitly used 50 million of its users’ data for political purposes didn’t seem ready to do so: Analysts told investors to buy the dip. Advertisers kept spending. Legislators continued to sit on their hands while a basic ad transparency bill rotted in Congress. And though users posted #DeleteFacebook en masse, Facebook actually rose to 8th place from 12th in the iOS mobile App Store since the day before the Cambridge Analytica news broke. It’s holding steady on Android, too.

No one can pretend Facebook is just harmless fun any more | The Guardian

We have now reached the point where an unaccountable private corporation is holding detailed data on over a quarter of the world’s population. Zuckerberg and his company have been avoiding responsibility for some time. Governments everywhere need to get serious in how they deal with Facebook.

How to Use Facebook While Giving It the Minimum Amount of Personal Data | the Verge  Some advice for minimising the data you share with Facebook. I’m all likelihood it’s too late, but developing good, conscious habits is always a good thing

Towards a world without Facebook | TechCrunch  A modest proposal if ever I saw one. I have sniped and snarked at crypto currencies on these pages, often with vague hat tipping toward the untapped potential of blockchain technology for other purposes. But I’ll admit, I hardly ever come across hard coded examples, let alone share them. Interestingly, the Facebook debacle has given us a barn to aim at, so we should see some interesting attempts at turning the page

We’re approaching — or maybe already at — the point at which these tools could be put together to construct, say, a small-scale decentralized social network. It would still face the critical-mass problem: but that could be addressed by focusing on specific cohorts and communities; art collectives, churches, fandoms, etcetera. It would still face the ordinary-people-don’t-want-tokens problem: but that could be addressed by having a designated token-handling admin for each node, in the same way that online communities used to have designated email admins or local Usenet sysadmins, so ordinary users would just need a URL, a userid/password, and perhaps a decision whether to pay for access or be advertised to.

Are you ready? This is all the data Facebook and Google have on you | The Guardian — If you still need a readout, this provides a decent run down of that data hoarding at Facebook and Google. But wait, there’s more — much more.

Mark Zuckerberg Thinks We’re Idiots | Monday Note Not a novel point, the irony in this claim has reached catch phrase proportions by now. Then again, if ever there were a time to put a finer point on it.

As Facebook’s leader, Zuckerberg resolves to get things straightened out in the future (“it’s my job, right?”) while he delivers a callcenter-style broken record reassurance: “Your privacy is important to us”. Yes, of course, our privacy is important to you; you made billions by surveilling and mining our private lives. One wonders how aware Zuckerberg is of the double entendre.

What Else Floats on Water

Apple, everyone needs more free iCloud storage | The Verge  Honestly, Apple may as well give us the bird for all you can store in 5Gb. For all the talk of user hostile action on the design front, examples of inaction offer enough insight inot priorities. At least for anyone not prone to religious feelings.

Apple: Former Engineer Will Unlock iPhone X for $15,000 | Fortune   Despite the sense this has always been a lucrative business waiting to happen, surely setting up this enterprise involved navigating a labrynthe of  mind-bending legal chicanery.

Stanford Students Challenge Apple on iPhone Addiction | Inside Higher Ed  Yeah, I can’t see Apple helping people use their devices less. Unless, of course, there is a way to spin it.

iOS 11 Bugs Are so Common They Now Appear in Apple Ads | the Verge  This has since been cleaned up. Amusing, yes. At the same time, it points to a normalisation of novelty over stability. All but unique to software as a product,  we essentially purchase it broken, and pay to have it fixed. Even if we pay for it via the hardware. Rumour has it this year's update to iOS will be a stability release.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says Facebook should have regulated itself, but it’s too late for that now | Recode – Call me a cynic 2, but this is a little convenient for — and from — Apple. If I prefer Apple's approach, I'm not so comfortable with subtle opportunism. Privacy wouldn’t be a selling point if they didn’t have anything to differentiate themselves from.

Cook has made a point of criticizing Facebook for both the Cambridge Analytica affair and its overall approach to consumer privacy in recent days. But it’s not a new stance for him or the company: He made similar comments about Facebook and Google in 2015, and his predecessor Steve Jobs went out of his way to contrast Apple’s privacy stance with rivals like Google in 2010.

I don't doubt the existence of influential voices arguing for it's inherant value, but if it didn't have that other kind of value we wouldn't find so many contradictions Look a little closer and you fill find a fair degree of enabling. Take the Uber debacle, Apple has been found greasing the wheels before. Or more recently, the situation in China with carte Blanche to encryption keys. Intentional or not, this looks a cynical intervention. Apple’s own iCloud even runs on Google infrastructure, so pull that apart.

Bob Burrough | Twitter — Further to the above, this from a former Apple luminary pointing to the absurdly broad language from Apple claiming to keep all data safe from prying eyes. The line is crossed where the claim is made that your web traffic is kept private, to which Burroughs counters:

Since This Is Obviously Not True, the Only Possible Options Here Are: – Apple Believes This Is True, and They're Too Foolish to See How It Isn't. – Apple Doesn't Believe This, and They're Misleading Customers for Marketing Reasons.”

Apple’s approach might be more desireble, but to think of them as some benevolent entity immune from the profit motive is naive at best.

Now, Look Here

A Startup Is Pitching a Mind-Uploading Service That Is “100 Percent Fatal” | MIT Technology Review  A materialist’s guide to the afterlife

This story has a grisly twist, though. For Nectome’s procedure to work, it’s essential that the brain be fresh. The company says its plan is to connect people with terminal illnesses to a heart-lung machine in order to pump its mix of scientific embalming chemicals into the big carotid arteries in their necks while they are still alive (though under general anesthesia).

‘Blockchain' Is Meaningless | the Verge  The Appropriation of language is a uniquely troubling proposition in a capitalist society. There’s too much incentive for opportunism. Scratch that, the appropriation of everything.

Bose Sunglasses Hands-on: Audio AR Makes More Sense Than You Think | Engadget  Or does it? Nobody seems to learn this lesson. Allow me to phrase it in the turned about syntax of a little green mad with a laser sword: A model for success nerds and fashion are not. 3

Exclusive: This Is the Most Dexterous Robot Ever Created | MIT Technology Review  If you’re not keeping up with robots, you might have missed this.

AI Has a Hallucination Problem That's Proving Tough to Fix | WIRED — Computer says no.

Spotify Needs Your Help Tagging and Sorting Tunes | Engadget  Economists of a particular persuasion worked this out a very long time ago. It’s called surplus value, and this is a clever, if insidious way to capture it. The more work consumers do, the less resources Spotify need to spend, and voila more profit from that surplus. I’m not saying don’t do it, I’m merely bringing the aporia to your attention. This is the real gift economy

Broaden Your Mind

If we have come to the same intersection again, only to recognise it as such, I would at least like to think we might turn left this time. While the world is run by creeps, there are still good people out there, doing good work.

12 Things Everyone Should Understand About Tech | Humane Tech – You don’t need to agree with all of this to recognise its potential importance. A lot of these points seem obvious to anyone who can think even the smallest bit sociologically, but sadly are lost on most people working in, writing about, or commenting on technology. Usually to quote the first paragraph of an article is a good indication that linker hasn’t read it, in this instance it means this is the point.

…tech goes a lot deeper than the phones in our hands, and we must understand some fundamental shifts in society if we’re going to make good decisions about the way tech companies shape our lives—and especially if we want to influence the people who actually make technology.

It would appear the timing is right for a new approach to technology in general. What we have now is parristic, and disturbing.

And Now, For Something Completely Different

How Two Photographers Unknowingly Shot the Same Millisecond in Time | Petapixel  I have a thing for coincidence. So often the impression of synchronicity is a psychological phenomenon, but this one has irrefutable physical evidence. This is, in a word, neat.

Why the PDF Is Secretly the World's Most Important File Format | Motherboard  Something that most academic users are intimately acquainted with.

Photo by Caroline Methot on Unsplash

  1. Don’t get me started on how people use the word ‘random’
  2. Many people do
  3. Sorry, Apple doesn’t count — they’re a fashion brand making consumer electronics these days, not the other way around.

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.

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