Show and Tell — Friday 23rd February, 2018

Showandtell 23 02 2018.jpg

Some of these links have collected a little dust over the past few weeks. Things have been quiet around here whole I dealt with the little matter of moving from one island to another. If you enjoy the quips, read on. If you only came for the potentially useful links, I’m sure you can find them. Enjoy.

How Not to be Seen

Salon to Ad Blockers: Can We Use Your Browser to Mine Cryptocurrency? | Ars Technica — Salon might think this is clever, but I doubt they think it’s honest. Nor do I think they care. What stands out to me, other than litany of other implications, is yet more massaging of meaning. Salon claims it will take advantage of ‘unused computing power’, then clocks the CPU to ridiculous levels. But the real kicker is clause of ‘one browser session’. People simply don’t close their browsers anymore, so this could go on for a lot longer than what unsuspecting users think it will. In short, not a fan.

Hey Alexa, Is It True a TV Advert Made Amazon Echo Order Cat Food? | Technology | the Guardian — If nothing else, this illustrates what should already be clear. These devices have one function, buy stuff.

Key iPhone Source Code Gets Posted Online in ‘Biggest Leak in History' – Motherboard — I was listening to a popular ‘tech’ podcast 1 a few days ago and heard another proclamation that Apple is more focused on security than anybody ever. Sure, all the evidence supports that. Oh wait, no it doesn’t.

Facial Recognition Software Is Coming to Industries Like Fast Food and Luxury Shopping. | Slate — Sadly, this is now inevitable. It’s still creepy, bordering on terrifying.

Objective-See | Mac Malware 2017 — If you’re still under the illusion there is no such thing on macOS

Chinese Police Are Using Facial Recognition Sunglasses to Track Citizens | the Verge — Say what you like, this is happening

Idle at Work

Numbers | Becky Hansmeyer – If you haven’t yet seen the app, check out Snapthread. This is an interesting insight into the difficulties facing independent developers. It is not unlike running an independent blog.

The Light Entertainment War

Can an App That Rewards You for Avoiding Facebook Help Beat Smartphone Addiction? | Technology | the Guardian  Or, just stay off Facebook

Facebook personal data use and privacy settings ruled illegal by German court | Technology | The Guardian

Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the VZBV, said: “Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register. This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.”

The court also ruled eight clauses in Facebook’s terms of service to be invalid, including terms that allow Facebook to transmit data to the US and use personal data for commercial purposes. The company’s “authentic name” policy – a revision of a rule that once required users to use their “real names” on the site, but which now allows them to use any names they are widely known by – was also ruled unlawful.

Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built | The New York Times  — Doing anything evenly vaguely related to tech can be disheartening at times. If you can see through all the bullshit, let alone have a desire to present a balance against some of the more disturbing trends, you might find some hope in this project.

The effect of technology, especially on younger minds, has become hotly debated in recent months. In January, two big Wall Street investors asked Apple to study the health effects of its products and to make it easier to limit children’s use of iPhones and iPads. Pediatric and mental health experts called on Facebook last week to abandon a messaging service the company had introduced for children as young as 6. Parenting groups have also sounded the alarm about YouTube Kids, a product aimed at children that sometimes features disturbing content.

The new group also plans to begin lobbying for laws to curtail the power of big tech companies. It will initially focus on two pieces of legislation: a bill being introduced by Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, that would commission research on technology’s impact on children’s health, and a bill in California by State Senator Bob Hertzberg, a Democrat, which would prohibit the use of digital bots without identification.

The Idiot in Society

You Don't Understand Bitcoin, but You Understand Free Money  —  I’m not posting his for what it shares, but for the utterly moronic sentiment in its title. This so-called free money has an economic underpinning, whether people like this idiot want to believe it or not. We could go all the way back to the labour if you like, but let’s talk about energy consumption instead. Bitcoin alone is currently using more than 1m transatlantic flights worth of carbon per year. If we really want to make something of the revolutionary technology that makes bitcoin possible, we'll have to deal with all the snake oil salesmen, and sociopaths first.

Bitcoin’s energy sage is huge – we can't afford to ignore it | The Guardian — Thought I was making up that figure? If you know anything about economics, you know value has to come from somewhere. The next time you hear some idiot banging on about Bitcoin being decoupled from politics, remind them… actually, forget it, who knows what those people are high on.

Could be, Might be useful

Markdown Converter | OU Libraries Tools — A tool like this can help enable an iOS only workflow if you work with Markdown.

10 Hidden Tricks That'll Make Life With Your iPhone X so Much Easier | BGR — If you have one, this is actually useful.

Left by Rekka — If you’re looking for a simple, plain text writing app.

Setting Up GitHub Pages HTTPS Custom Domains Using CloudFront and Lamda@Edge — A while ago I posted a reminder of what education users can get through Github. If you’re already on that train, here is a tutorial for adding ssl to GitHub pages (check)

Tweak Spotify's Recommendation Tech to Create Custom Playlists | Engadget — Yet more fun with the Spotify API

And now, for Something Completely Different

Solo, a Star Wars Story | Kottke — I’m with Kottke, my ongoing love and obsession with Star Wars is embarrassing and irrational. I’m an outlier, in that I feel like the Last Jedi all but redeemed the crimes of Abrams. Not that I really cared in the end, when it comes to a galaxy far far away, I inevitably give in to childish joy. Whatever this ends up being, I intend to enjoy it

Gorgeous 50-Megapixel Panoramas Shot on an iPhone at 20,000 Feet — It’s these capabilities that trap us in the double bind. What you can do with an iPhone now is amazing, especially in photography. Consider these pictures were taken with a phone, and therefore camera, that is already 2 generations old.

Kids Use Data From Space to Make Cool Basslines With a Modular Synthesizer | Synthtopia — Ah space music.

  1. You know, an Apple Cast

Photo by Daniel Cheung on Unsplash

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, 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 – 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

Week Links for 2nd October, 2017

Talk about rough timing. Just as I got the migration finished, my domain registrar Hover.com fell over. If you want a taste of just how fraught it can be to be at the behest of however many thousand website administrators, have a look at goosie at the Hover Status twitter feed for last Friday. My thanks if you were hit with any frustrations but have returned anyway.

Having dealt with that particular stomach ache, I'm now working on getting back to the whole content thing. With that in mind, I'm going to try concentrating some of this share posting with my own version of the weekly link post.

Write Once, Never Write Again  – You may remember Nikita Voloboev from the Learn Anything mind map I posted a while back. This is a nice demonstration of text expansion, using Typinator. My tool of choice remains TextExpander, but Typinator is a solid alternative, with some unique and powerful features of its own.

How to Make iPhone Camera Shoot JPEG Pictures in iOS 11 | OSXDaily – This will no doubt be relevant information for education user. Whether it be for presentations or projects, the more ubiquitous file format is going to be necessary for some time yet.

Troubleshooting iOS 11 Problems – And while I’m at it, if you haven’t yet managed to break clear of the grates on iOS 11, something here may help.

iOS thoroughly reviewed – Mac nerds may remember the epic reviews of OS X that John Siracusa used to write for Ars Technica. The site provides a similarly in depth review of Apple's mobile platform, it might be a little more austere than the Macstories ‘review' — and it certainly doesn't get the same fanfare. If you have the time to read either of them in their entirety, maybe your book collection requires some attention.

Face ID: Why you shouldn't be worried about iPhone X unlock | iMore – For anyone interested in the finer points of Face ID. To be honest, I'm pretty wary of iMore most of the time, it can be more of an uber consumer site more often than not. Credit is still due to Rene Richie who has a knack for addressing general misgivings through the finer technical details. Still, the highlight for me is a touch of social commentary:

That a significant segment of humanity is more concerned about illegal search and seizure by law enforcement agencies than the criminals they're meant to protect us from should embarrass and appall governments around the world, but that's a different editorial for a different day.

A Touch of Irony – This is interesting. Despite the use of so-called differential privacy, this is clearly a catch-22. Apple's development of privacy focused features in Safari to guard against data collection and tracking relies on, you guessed it, data collection and tracking.

Benchmarking the new Chips –  The power in these things is bordering on ridiculous now. There is a kind of stockpiling going on to future proof the push into AR and whatever demands might be paced upon more ambient computing by devices that connect to the phone — I'm thinking AirPods and whatever else is next. 1

nvALT Still Hanging In – I'm sure Bitwriter will materialise eventually. In the meantime, we still have nVALT, and it is still getting the necessary maintenance updates to ensure it ticks over in the latest versions of macOS.

Musk’s Mars moment: Audacity, madness, brilliance—or maybe all three –  If you are so inclined. My better angels tell me this is all madness, but the little kid in me can't look away. If this actually happens in my lifetime, that would be something. There's plenty more around on this.

 

 


  1. If you actually willing to walk around with those miniature gumboots in your ears