Show and Tell – Tuesday 8 May, 2018

The Appademic Show And Tell Links.jpg

An intermitant collection of concisely annotated, tech related links

We Know Where You Live

Palantir Knows Everything About You

The most emblematic paradox; it goes like this. Facebook knows everything about you, but Palantir knows more.

Cops Around the Country Can Now Unlock iPhones, Records Show | Motherboard

I know most people don’t expect the FBI will want to access their phone. To understand the situation, put the argument to yourself in reverse and you will soon realise the implications. Thankfully, these holes are usually filled in before long. Either way, use the strongest security you can by principle.

Google's File on You Is 10 Times Bigger Than Facebook's – Here's How to View It | Zero Hedge

Compared with most people I know, I'm pretty careful about the privacy of my data. I'm still scared to look at what Google has on me. By now, nobody should be surprised, and yet I wager you will be surprised. Look if you dare.

Stop Using 6-Digit iPhone Passcodes | Motherboard

Typically we won’t hear about cracking technology going underground for sometime, so forget the argument that you — being a law abiding citizen — needn’t worry about the police.

Idle At Work

The New Lesson Plan for Elementary School: Surviving the Internet – the Washington Post

This is more than I can say for a majority of the fully grown adults I spend my days avoiding

Susan, a 10-year-old in pink sneakers who likes YouTube and the mobile game “Piano Tiles 2,” quietly raised her hand. “I will make sure that I don’t tell nobody my personal stuff,” she said, “and be offline for at least two hours every night.”

Silicon Valley's Sixty-Year Love Affair With the Word “Tool”

Permit me a juvenile aside if you will, it seems we could update the old adage about what you eat.

“Is Curing Patients a Sustainable Business Model?” Goldman Sachs Analysts Ask | Ars Technica

For whatever reason, I know a lot of people struggle coming to terms with this very simple, but obvious contradiction in our economic system. This is about as clear an example as one could imagine.

Your Pretty Face Is Going to Sell | Open Space 

A brief investigation of commodified affect via YouTube, amusing.

What Else Floats on Water

Apple Sued an Independent iPhone Repair Shop Owner and Lost | Motherboard

I come across some gobsmacking equivocation when it comes to Apple. The idea that this behemoth is anything other than a halo bearing wonder of the modem world would undermine everything advocates want to believe about themselves. The truth is a little more uncomfortable.

“Apple is proving themselves to be the worldwide poster child of the Right to Repair movement,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of Repair.org, which is pushing for this legislation, told me. “They continue to make our case for us—suing legal repair providers, such as Henrik, lying to consumers about CPU performance throttling instead of battery replacements, and the coup de grace of hypocrisy—building products that are hard to repair and then proclaiming they care about the environment.”

Anyone wondering what right to repair would mean for the rest of the world might start here.

The specifics of Huseby’s case won’t matter for American repair shops, but that Apple continues to aggressively pursue a repair shop owner over 63 iPhone screens signals that Apple is not interested in changing its stance on independent repair, and that right to repair activists and independent repair companies should expect a long fight ahead of them: “I feel that this case was extremely important for them to win,” Huseby said.

Now Look Here

How Microsoft Helped Imprison a Man for ‘counterfeiting' Software It Gives Away for Free | TechCrunch

I’m out of words for this one. This is brutal from Microsoft, even if it should come as no surprise.

Stop Calling These Dark Design Patterns or Dark UX | These Are Simply asshole Designs

Whether you want to believe it or not, our economic system is built on obfuscation. These practices are deceitful, no question. At the same time, they paradoxically reveal a certain overlooked truth. I’ll leave it to you to work out what that is — in case you overlooked the first sentence.

Brutalist Design Is the Bad Influence We All Need

If you have any interest in design, you may like to read this. Aesthetics aside, there is a sociological argument hiding in here about pseudo-originality. I’ll leave you to find it.

The Disturbing High Modernism of Silicon Valley | Cal Newport

First time I’ve ever been remotely interested in something from this blog

No, Students Probably Aren't Blowing Their Student Loans on Bitcoin | the Chronicle of Higher Education How not to do research

Group Madness

Ex-Google Engineer Scraping YouTube to Pop Our Filter Bubbles | MIT

Chaslot, who worked at YouTube in 2011 and then at Google until 2013 (he claims he was fired for trying to give users more control over the algorithms that recommend content; neither Google nor YouTube addressed that contention in a response to a request for comment about this and other issues he has raised), figured this out by tracking YouTube’s suggestion algorithm. He tested his theory by building software that simulates the act of starting out watching one video on YouTube and then clicking on the recommended “Up next” video (which will also play automatically if you have YouTube’s autoplay feature turned on), over and over and over.

The New Lesson Plan for Elementary School: Surviving the Internet | Washington Post This is more than I can say for a majority of the fully grown adults I spend my days avoiding

Susan, a 10-year-old in pink sneakers who likes YouTube and the mobile game “Piano Tiles 2,” quietly raised her hand. “I will make sure that I don’t tell nobody my personal stuff,” she said, “and be offline for at least two hours every night.”

San Francisco's Bizarre Scooter War Shows How Tech Companies Ignore the Law | VICE

Literal disruption — and I mean, literally literal.

A Flaw-by-Flaw Guide to Facebook's New GDPR Privacy Changes | TechCrunch

No, it’s not about to end anytime soon

Facebook Removes 1.5 Billion Users From Protection of EU Privacy Law | Ars Technica

Either data is worth more than the tax breaks (which is likely) or to keep hold of both, a new level of tax dodging chicanery is required. Either way, Facebook is a grotesquely scaled version of a street huckster who gives you a dime while pinching your wallet from your pocket

Login With Facebook Data Hijacked by JavaScript Trackers – TechCrunch

In case you missed this. I recently heard a well known podcaster offering some thought on how it is relatively safe to use these single sign-on solutions. You know, Oauth is completely locked down; don’t be paranoid, and so on. So, anyway.

The abusive scripts were found on 434 of the top 1 million websites including cloud database provider MongoDB. That’s according to Steven Englehardt and his colleagues at Freedom To Tinker, which is hosted by Princeton’s Center For Information Technology Policy. I

The Many Deceptions of Mark Zuckerberg | Creative Good

Lies, damned lies, and Facebook.

Broaden Your Mind

Introduction · Front-End Developer Handbook 2018

Open source generosity of a kind. Nerds are largely a very generous cultural subset

And Now, For Something Completely Different

In Search of Photographic Treasure: Alfred G. Buckham | International Center of Photography

These photos are incredible.

A Robot Does the Impossible: Assembling an Ikea Chair Without Having a Meltdown

Closest thing to genuine artificial intelligence yet

 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Sociologists Examine Hackathons and See Exploitation | Wired

Study sociology long enough, not only does the world look different, but you’ll start to forget it does. This is lightweight from Wired, naturally, but this is something the tech world has become very good at. Abstraction of value from labour in its myriad forms.

One pair of sociologists recently examined hackathons and emerged with troubling conclusions. Sharon Zukin, professor of sociology at Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center, spent a year observing seven hackathons, mostly sponsored by corporations, in New York City, interviewing participants, organizers, and sponsors. In a study called “Hackathons As Co-optation Ritual: Socializing Workers and Institutionalizing Innovation in the ‘New’ Economy,” she and co-author Max Papadantonakis argue that hackathons create “fictional expectations of innovation that benefits all,” which Zukin writes is a “powerful strategy for manufacturing workers’ consent in the ‘new’ economy.” In other words, institutions use the allure of hackathons, with sponsors, prizes, snacks, and potential for career advancement, to get people to work for free.

This is not unique to the collective wager of hackathons, there are mundane examples everywhere. For instance, I very casually check-in on a discussion group for a popular ‘tech’ podcast hosted on a major social media platform. The forum is run by listeners, who volunteer time — in some cases, a seemingly inordinate amount of it. Listeners are generating content, giving product recommendations that are turned into affiliate links on the show, and so on. Like I said, mundane. An yet, if you are going to talk about the so-called ‘new’ economy 1, like everything you have to consider how it scales. The underlying economic socialisation equates to the same thing.

 

  1. Which incidentally, is a bullshit term.

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

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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.

Week Links – Monday, 16 Oct 2017

Developer Demonstrates iOS Phishing Attack That Uses Apple-Style Password Request – Mac Rumors – Enabling two factor authentication might be best practice, but vigilance and sound password management are still the keys to keeping your credentials from being fleeced. For more on this, Michael Tsai has one of his trademark link roundups:  In-App Apple ID Password Phishing

Evil Blogger Attacks Defenceless Transnational Megacorp | discchord – I’m not sure I would go this far, although I do like the metaphor. For one thing, Apple’s interest is piqued when their own apps are involved. Secondly, audio issues will affect podcasters as much as musicians — well, almost as much. 1 As for anyone wondering why podcasts should be of any more interest to Apple, consider how much free marketing they get from all the fan casts out there. Don’t worry, I’m well aware that my toes are in that same pool, but at least I have the good sense to feel dirty about it.

What Ivanka Trump Knows about Ed-Tech – More than a few hints that some kind of bot wrote the essay in question. Either that or it is the product of infinite MAGA Monkeys. A kind of epic, simian version of The Influencers

Collaborative Annotations You May Want to Join | ProfHacker – Examples of collaborative annotation projects using hypothes.is. If you haven’t yet looked at hypothes.is in action, the results can be mixed, but it is a great example of interactive open web technology. The potential is enormous.

Scientists Can Read a Bird’s Brain and Predict Its Next Song – MIT Technology Review – Having a technology fetish doesn’t make one immune from feeling terrified by certain developments. Being a cynic makes it inevitable.

How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs – If you feel guilty about procrastinating by playing video games, it could be you are just satisfying a basic human need.

Tim Cook Says the Tech “doesn't Exist” for Quality AR Glasses yet | Ars Technica – Notwithstanding the fact that Google Glass was a huge failure. Black Mirror gave me the creeps on this topic. Still, whenever this code is cracked glasses will be halting point, Robert Scoble made sure of that.

  1. Yes, there are podcasters recording on iOS