Later On

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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

“This Interactive Game Is The Reason My Daughter (Finally) Likes Science”

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If you have young children, this science-education game might be of interest. The author describes how his daughter took to it.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2016 at 4:35 pm

After Legal Defeat, US Mayors Vow to Continue Municipal Broadband Fight

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Sam Gustin reports in Motherboard:

Two weeks after a federal court dealt a major blow to municipal broadband advocates, dozens of US mayors and city leaders vowed on Wednesday to continue the fight for local control of next-generation communications networks.

These community leaders are speaking out after the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to preempt state laws that pose barriers to municipal broadband development.

In a letter to the mayors of Chattanooga, TN and Wilson, NC—the two cities that had asked the FCC to preempt such state laws—forty-two US mayors and local leaders expressed their “support and solidarity with your efforts advocating for the ability of all communities to choose the broadband solutions that are right for each of our communities.”

“We believe in aligning broadband options with community needs, instead of being hindered by restrictive, one-size-fits-all barriers sometimes put up at the state level,” the city leaders wrote. “While our paths vary, we are united by our commitment to competition and the right of self-determination for all our communities, free from interference.”

The letter, which was organized by Next Century Cities, a nonprofit group that advocates for community broadband efforts, was signed by Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and dozens of other local leaders from around the country.

The letter is the latest salvo in a multi-year battle that echoes one of the great debates in American history—the fight over federalism and the balance of power between the national government and the states. Supporters of the FCC maintained that Congress gave the agency the power the preempt restrictive state broadband laws. Opponents argued, successfully, that the federal government was interfering with states’ rights.

This battle is far from over. Cities across the country recognize that affordable, high-speed internet access is a powerful tool for economic growth, equal opportunity, and citizen empowerment. That’s why scores of cities are racing to develop faster, cheaper alternatives to services offered by corporate giants like Comcast that wield monopoly power in many markets.

But these forward-thinking municipalities are frequently stymied by roadblocks in the form of state laws that thwart community broadband efforts—laws that were often pushed by lobbyists working at the behest of the nation’s largest telecom companies, including Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T.

It’s no surprise that these corporate giants are opposed to local efforts aimed at delivering faster, cheaper internet service. After all, what business likes to be confronted by a competitor offering superior service at lower prices? . . .

Continue reading.

There’s a lot more. Corporations want profits, not progress, and if profits can be increased by halting progress, they’ll go for it every time. And despite their lip service to the virtues of free enterprise and competition, corporations hate competition because it impacts profits.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2016 at 3:45 pm

Government Hackers Caught Using Unprecedented iPhone Spy Tool

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A very interesting advance in malware, described in Motherboard by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai:

On the morning of August 10, Ahmed Mansoor, a 46-year-old human rights activist from the United Arab Emirates, received a strange text message from a number he did not recognize on his iPhone.

“New secrets about torture of Emiratis in state prisons,” read the tantalizing message, which came accompanied by a link.

Mansoor, who had already been the victim of government hackers using commercial spyware products from FinFisher and Hacking Team, was suspicious and didn’t click on the link. Instead, he sent the message to Bill Marczak, a researcher at Citizen Lab, a digital rights watchdog at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

As it turned out, the message wasn’t what it purported to be. The link didn’t lead to any secrets, but to a sophisticated piece of malware that exploited three different unknown vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS operating system that would have allowed the attackers to get full control of Mansoor’s iPhone, according to new joint reports released on Thursday by Citizen Lab and mobile security company Lookout.

This is the first time that anyone has uncovered such an attack in the wild. Until this month, no one had seen an attempted spyware infection leveraging three unknown bugs, or zero-days, in the iPhone. The tools and technology needed for such an attack, which is essentially a remote jailbreak of the iPhone, can be worth as much as one million dollars. After the researchers alerted Apple, the company worked quickly to fix them in an update released on Thursday.

The question is, who was behind the attack and what did they use to pull it off?

It appears that the company that provided the spyware and the zero-day exploits to the hackers targeting Mansoor is a little-known Israeli surveillance vendor called NSO Group, which Lookout’s vice president of research Mike Murray labeled as “basically a cyber arms dealer.”

The researchers at Citizen Lab and Lookout were impressed by this new, never-seen-before, type of malware.

“We realized that we were looking at something that no one had ever seen in the wild before. Literally a click on a link to jailbreak an iPhone in one step,” Murray told Motherboard. “One of the most sophisticated pieces of cyberespionage software we’ve ever seen.” . . .

Continue reading. And do read the whole thing. Later in the article:

. . . NSO’s malware, which the company codenamed Pegasus, is designed to quietly infect an iPhone and be able to steal and intercept all data inside of it, as well as any communication going through it.

“It basically steals all the information on your phone, it intercepts every call, it intercepts every text message, it steals all the emails, the contacts, the FaceTime calls. It also basically backdoors every communications mechanism you have on the phone,” Murray explained. “It steals all the information in the Gmail app, all the Facebook messages, all the Facebook information, your Facebook contacts, everything from Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram—you name it.” . . .

Read more: Meet NSO Group, The New Big Player In The Government Spyware Business

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2016 at 2:51 pm

An example of how continuous surveillance can work

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Very interesting video showing how “Google Earth with TiVo” can work.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 1:17 pm

Guglielmo Marconi, the man behind radio communication

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Marc Raboy writes in the Oxford University Press blog:

Guglielmo Marconi is popularly known as “the inventor of radio,” a mischaracterization that critics and supporters of his many rivals are quick to seize upon. Marconi was actually the first person to use radio waves to communicate. His first patent was for “Improvements in Transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals and in Apparatus Therefor,” and he considered what he was doing to be a form of wireless telegraphy.

But Marconi was indeed the first truly global figure in modern, mass communication. What came to be known as radio would have been impossible without the groundwork laid by Marconi. As soon as he discovered how to send signals across a room in his parents’ attic in 1895, Marconi was convinced that he would eventually be able to connect any two points on earth by wireless. Conventional physics scoffed at the idea but Marconi was right.

Marconi was also a global media celebrity, followed everywhere by paparazzi who recorded his every move. However, much about him that made him who he was has either never before been known or has been forgotten. Here are some little-known facts about Marconi:

1. Marconi was half-Italian and half-Irish. His father was a landed gentleman from Bologna, where Marconi was born and grew up, but his mother was a member of the Jameson Whiskey family. Annie Jameson’s family business connections in London were crucial to the launch of Marconi’s global company in 1897, when he was 23.

2. Marconi had no formal higher education. He did poorly in school as a child and his parents hired private teachers to tutor him in chemistry, math, and physics. His most important mentor was a high school physics teacher in Livorno by the name of Vincenzo Rosa. He was an avid, self-guided reader of popular scientific journals, where he learned of the discovery of radio waves by the German physicist Heinrich Hertz.

3. Marconi was twice engaged to American feminists: Josephine B. Holman, a graduate of the Indianapolis Classical School for Girls as well as Bryn Mawr, and Inez Milholland, a Greenwich Village social activist who famously led a 1913 suffragist parade riding a white horse. Marconi’s two wives were more conventional women but Marconi was forever becoming romantically involved with artists, film stars, opera singers, and journalists.

4. Marconi was the first inventor-entrepreneur to win a Nobel Prize, for Physics, in 1909 (he shared the prize with German physicist Ferdinand Braun). The Nobel Committee had never before awarded the prize for a practical application rather than theoretical accomplishments. In 1909, it considered giving the prize to the Wright brothers, but decided on Marconi because of public concern about the safety of airplanes.

5. No one would have survived the Titanic disaster had it not been equipped with a Marconi transmitter. Thanks to wireless, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 August 2016 at 10:03 am

Another step down the path to a police state: Continuous surveillance of civilian population—with face recognition

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Just read it. This is beyond what Soviet Russia did (because they didn’t have the technology—naturally they would have done it if they had the technology. And we do have the technology. So that means we do it? Just like the Soviet Union except different national languages?

Isn’t there something wrong with that picture?

Update: See this brief video of the system in action.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 August 2016 at 5:06 pm

Twitter Makes Total Sense If You Understand It Properly

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When Kevin Drum is good, he’s really very good. Read this one.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 August 2016 at 4:10 pm

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