Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Switzerland opens tunnel 35 miles long

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Backstory in comments at the YouTube video and in this Motherboard article.

In other news, the US cannot even build a tunnel from New Jersey to New York, a desperately needed tunnel, but Gov. Chris Christie canceled it.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 August 2015 at 12:38 pm

Posted in Technology, Video

Animations Created with an Ultra-Precise Light-Painting Drone

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No sound is required for this video. (Sound track is just electronic techno music.)

Here’s the backstory in Motherboard.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 August 2015 at 10:12 am

Posted in Technology, Video

Interesting reflections on the Ashley-Madison hack

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By Spocko at Hullabaloo:

Hey, did you read that Josh Duggar was on the Ashley Madison list? And it wasn’t a fake email address either! He confirmed it!

I know that some people get a feeling of joy or pleasure seeing Duggar suffer more misfortune. That’s nice for them. But with all the genuine suffering that this exposure will be causing innocents, can we at least get something good out of it?

The media are already using it for their headlines, therapists and divorce lawyers will be using it to get new clients. But can we get more out of this hack than media hits and billable hours?

We know that some people use disasters to profit, others to push an agenda. “We are going to turn Iraq into a free market paradise using these Heritage Foundation interns!”

I propose we have a couple of items to push on our agenda.

First, increase the importance of privacy in both private governments and corporations. Second, use this data to show the problem with passing judgement on the private lives of ordinary people.

As Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his piece, The Puritanical Glee Over the Ashley Madison Hack,

[None of us should cheer when the private lives of ordinary people are indiscriminately invaded, no matter how much voyeuristic arousal or feelings of moral superiority it provides. We love to think of ourselves as so progressive and advanced, yet so often leap at the opportunity to intervene and wallow around in, and sternly pass judgment on, the private sexual choices of other adults.

But, what are the concrete things we can change beyond trying to change attitudes? [Emphasis added, since this is key: What to do, specifically? – LG] How about a focus on . . .

Continue reading.

It is in fact a well-thought-out list of specific, concrete steps. Well worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 2:50 pm

Game has passed me by, Part 2: World trade visualization software for all $15.3 trillion of it

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Astonishing. Emiko Jozuka reports in Motherboard:

World economies can be mind-boggling systems made up of complex chains of supply and demand, buoyed by commodities and fueled by different currencies.

Owen Cornec and Romain Vuillemot, data visualization fellows at Harvard Kennedy School, wanted to reimagine the global spread of goods in a new visualisation. Dubbed the “Globe of Economic Complexity,” Cornec and Vuillemot’s colorful 3D world portrays cold economic fact as “clouds of confetti.”

The Globe of Economic Complexity—an interactive tool—lets users see a country’s total trade as well as which products are made, and where in the world they’re exported. The map allows specialists and non-specialists alike to explore and understand the world through the production and trade trajectory of commodities. It was inspired by the original Atlas of Economic Complexity, which is a tool used by policymakers to view exports and the economic health of countries.“We wanted to find a novel way to convey the scale, diversity, and inequality of world economies using new 3D web technologies, to make these massive amounts of international trade beautiful and understandable,” Cornec told me over email.

The data visualization maps out “the entire world production of goods” by visualizing the $15.3 trillion-worth of world exports reached in 2012. One tiny dot equates to $100 million of exports (the “equivalent of 15,0000 swiss watches”). Each color represents a different industry and there are 153,000 dots in total.

What’s fun about the site is that it allows you to explore the similarities and differences in products stemming from different countries. A range of products including “vegetable products,” “textiles,” and “metals” are listed at the bottom of the site. Click on any given one, and the distribution of where those products are in the world emerges on the world map. The visualization also makes clear that no country can export everything, and that some industries such as machinery will generate more networks around the world as opposed to something like vegetables. . .

Continue reading.

Here’s what it looks like:

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 1:39 pm

When it hit me that the game has passed me by: Building apps using blockchains

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Oh, my. Alyssa Hertig reports in Motherboard:

We live in a day and age where it only takes 48 hours to program a decentralized horse registry.

All it takes is the Ethereum blockchain, also known as the “world computer,” which seeks to use the technology that enables cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to support other applications.

You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin. You might have heard of Ethereum, whose developers have far-reaching goals like disrupting the internet. (Interesting  internship opportunity?) Blockchains are the open, tamper-proof, distributed databases—meaning they don’t require a central keeper—that underpins each of them.

At a recent 48-hour hackathon, developers explored the power of the Ethereum blockchain, building decentralized replacements for Twitter, lawyers, and horse registries.

“This is not a regular bleeding-edge event,” said Joseph Lubin, founder of ConsenSys, which hosted the hackathon (dubbed dAppathon) a week ago in New York. “It’s sharp all over the place.” ConsenSys is Brooklyn-based blockchain production studio that toils away on everything dApps (decentralized apps) and designs tools like BlockApps that helps developers to code up their own.

Tweether, for instance, is a censorship-resistant version of Twitter created by hackathon participant Stefan George. He kicked off his presentation with a list of countries where censorship is commonplace. The Twitter copycat uses the Ethereum blockchain, which again, is totally tamper-proof. So when you “Tweeth” with the app, it uses the blockchain so that no one can later remove it, foiling censors.

Lawyerless, created by hackathoners Jeff Ward, Mike Goldin, and Jess Grushak, helps regular people . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Software, Technology

Another Reason to Use an Ad Blocker: Malvertising Has Tripled This Year

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Some sites—Hulu, for example—have user-blockers that are trigger by the detection of use of an ad-blocker. I cannot use Hulu unless I turn off the ad-blocker so they can play their ads—and I’m not about to do that for reasons explained in this Motherboard article by Nicholas Deleon:

Proponents of ad-blocking software may have another reason to continue blocking ads.

A new report from cybersecurity firm Cyphort published this morning notes that instances of malware served via online advertising networks increased 325 percent between June 2014 and February of this year. The report notes that several high-profile websites, including the Forbes, Huffington Post, and LA Weekly, served malware via their ads in that time frame.

Spreading malicious software, or malware, via online advertising networks is commonly referred to as “malvertising,” and, according to Cyphort, is seen by cybercriminals as being particularly effective because compromised ads are visually indistinguishable from safe ads.

The process typically works as follows: Posing as benign advertisers, cybercriminals will initially seed advertising networks with safe ads in order to build trust with the networks and the websites that use these networks. They then periodically insert ads laden with malware, which then infect users’ computers. Infected ads are typically Flash-based, which is partly why so many companies, including Mozilla and Amazon, are phasing out their support of Flash.

In the short term, Cyphort notes that infected ads can be blocked through the use of software like ad blockers like Adblock Plus and uBlock. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 1:26 pm

Physicists Make Single-Photon Quantum Logic Gates

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Wow! Michael Byrne of Motherboard reports:

Physicists from the University of Toronto have succeeded in constructing logic gates from single particles of pure light, according to research published in this week’sNature Physics. It’s an accomplishment that not only offers insight into the still rather mysterious world of light particles, but it may have implications for future quantum computers, which depend far more on interactions between individual particles (of light, usually) than our primitive electric current-based conventional computers.

A logic gate is the fundamental building block of any computing machine. In conventional computing schemes, information is served to these gates as high and low currents, representing 1s and 0s. A gate’s job is to take that information and spit out a 1 or 0 in response, again in the form of high and low currents. This is the foundation of everything a computer does: memory, arithmetic, I/O, etc.

The situation in a quantum computer is different. Rather than bits, which represent information as either a 1 or a 0, we have qubits. Qubits offer the possibility of having values that are simultaneous combinations of 1s and 0s, where the two possibilities exist together in quantum superpositions. This offers an enormous leap in computing power, but managing this sort of information isn’t easy.

For one thing, we’re no longer dealing with information represented by bulk collections of particles, e.g. electric current. Information in a quantum computer is instead represented at the level of individual particles. This means that we need to consider some pretty fundamental changes to computing hardware.

“Thanks to modern technologies, it is now quite straightforward to put a single quantum particle like a photon in a superposition of two different states,” Aephraim M. Steinberg, a physicist at the University of Toronto and a study co-author, told me. “But putting a beam of many photons into such a superposition&mash;in which, say, either every single photon is horizontally polarized or every single photon is vertically polarized, but no one in the universe knows which is the case—is precisely analogous to Schrödinger’s famous cat.”

With some many particles at once representing a single qubit, it’s exceedingly likely that one particle will be interfered with in some way, which, in a quantum system, has the effect of “opening the box” and wiping out the superposition and, thus, the qubit.

“If you have a single photon, it can travel nearly 100 kilometers in optical fibre, for instance, before anything happens to it—no one has any information about what state it’s in,” Steinberg explained. “But if there were a million photons, within about 100 millimeters, at least one of them would probably get absorbed—that single event would be enough to destroy the delicate superposition state quantum logic relies upon.” No more superposition, no more information.

And so it’s much more desirable to work with single photons. This has its own difficulties, however, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 August 2015 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Science, Technology

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