Later On

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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Facebook Tracks You Even If You Opt Out

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Nicole Kobie reports for Motherboard:

If you’ve visited a Facebook page—even if you don’t have an account, and even if you’ve opted out of tracking—the social network drops a long-lasting cookie onto your computer, and follows you everywhere you go.

That’s according to an in-depth ​report from a pair of Belgian universities, who were commissioned to investigate the issue by​ their local data protection agency. (Asked for a response, the UK’s own Information Commissioner Office directed us to Ireland’s data protection watchdogs, saying it wasn’t their remit as Facebook is based in Ireland.)

The report found that Facebook tracks users even if they’re logged out, have deactivated their account, or have opted out of behavioural advertising. The problem centres on Facebook’s social plugins, those widgets that people install on their sites with the Like button.

The researchers suggested that Facebook sets a tracking cookie that can last for two years on your PC or device in three​ instances. First, when you visit a Facebook page—whether it’s your own profile or a company page when you’re not signed in; second, if you visit specific third-party websites (including mtv.com and, rather oddly, myspace.com); and third, rather ironically, if you go to the European D​igital Advertising Alliance website to opt out of tracking.

From then on, every time you visit a page with a Like button or other social plugin, it sees the cookie and sends the tracking details back to Facebook. That happens even if you don’t click Like, login to Facebook, or interact in any other way with the site.

If all this sounds exactly what you’d expect from Facebook, you’re not alone. Paul Bernal, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia’s law school, wasn’t surprised by the report, though he said the extent of the tracking goes further than he would have thought. “Facebook has a record of pushing the boundaries, and for finding new ways to invade privacy, which is one reason that people like me, who understand at least part of how they work, are not generally on Facebook,” he told me. “So it’s not a surprise that they’re doing whatever they can to track us, but this looks a bit more brazen than I suspected. They’ve had their fingers burnt in this field before, and I thought they might be a bit more circumspect.”

Facebook said the report contained “factual inaccuracies” but did not detail them; the authors didn’t speak to the social network “to clarify any assumptions” before it was published. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 March 2015 at 12:33 pm

GitHub’s Largest DDoS Attack Is Still Going, 4 Days Later

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The Chinese government is determined to keep their citizens from getting information from the outside world. Report at Motherboard.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 March 2015 at 9:51 am

Posted in Government, Technology

Making a secure passphrase

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I have used the 5-dice method. It works pretty well.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2015 at 2:50 pm

Posted in Technology

China clamps down to keep citizens isolated from the world

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No wonder China supports North Korea, the world’s most hermetically sealed nation. From ycombinator:

GitHub hit by DDoS attack

This is an article [0] summarizes what happened. It is however in Chinese. So let me put a simple summary here:

Baidu has Baidu Analytics, a service similar to Google Analytics. In short, a website includes a javascript file from Baidu and Baidu will report some basic analytics to the site manager like how many visitors per day, how much time they spent on average per page etc.

Someone in the middle between a client outside China and Baidu, allegedly it should be the Great Fire Wall, changed the javascript file from Baidu and added some code so that any client executing the javascript file will periodically access https://github.com/greatfire/ and https://github.com/cn-nytimes/. This means any user who is accessing a site using Baidu Analytics will be an attacker to github.

Here is a simple solution: Block any javascript from Baidu if you do not use it. For chrome users, add the pattern [*.]baidu.com. See here[1].

Edit 1: Added a solution.

Edit 2: Format.

Edit 3: Oh, it’s not only Baidu Analytics. Baidu Ads’ javascript is also being hijacked and changed [2]. Imagine that all sites containing Google Ads use their visitors as attackers to attack github. Now it is literally what is happening to Baidu and its customers (and their customers’ visitors.) The javascript is only changed for visitors outside China. This is why people believe that is done by Chinese government — the only entity who has total access to all out-going routers in China. Since many Chinese users use VPN or other types of proxy to access Internet, they are all considered as visitors outside China. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2015 at 11:15 am

Posted in Government, Technology

Life is getting extremely weird: Real Life Katamari Ball Tests the Limits of 3D Printing

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I think we have seriously underestimated how weird daily life is becoming—though “we” clearly does not include William Gibson. Check out this article in Motherboard by Emanuel Maiberg:

Katamari Damacy took the gaming world by storm in 2004 with a simple concept. You roll a ball into objects that stick to it and make the ball bigger, which then allows you to roll into and gather bigger objects, making the ball even bigger, and so on. You start by rolling up loose change on the floor and before you know you’re rolling into trucks and buildings. The challenge was to see how big of a Katamari ball you could make before the timer runs out.

Kata​mari Roll, a new project by Arian Croft, uses the same idea to hopefully test the limits of 3D printing.

Croft, who’s known for his 3D-printed board game Pock​et-Tactics, got the idea for the project when he spotted a 3D model of a Katam​ari Ball on Th​ingiverse, 3D printer manufacturer Makerbot’s repository of models that users can share and print. “I noticed that it both hadn’t been printed yet, and that, though left in a repository full of random objects, it had yet to be used to gather a mound of objects,” he said.

Like the game that inspired it, Katamari Roll has a simple concept. Take the Katamari Ball, add a random 3D model to it, print it out, and pass it along. With 12 iterations so far, it’s off to a good start.

“It took off on the first day, and the clump has gotten bigger and bigger since,” Croft said. “It’s slowed down a bit, though as I document and more people catch on, it’ll grow, until, I guess, it can’t be printed anymore?”

Croft said that there are definitely limitations to how big the ball can get—Makerbot’s . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 7:53 pm

Latest Assault On Net Neutrality Launched At Telecom Industry-Funded Think Tank

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Lee Fang reports in The Intercept:

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., last week addressed the Free State Foundation to announce his new plan to undermine recently enacted net neutrality rules by going after the funding of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency behind the decision.

The FCC’s approach to net neutrality represents “potential untenable rules and regulatory overreach that will hurt consumers,” said Walden, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, speaking at the foundation’s annual Telecom Policy Conference. Walden outlined a plan to limit FCC appropriations, cap its other revenue sources, and change the hiring process for the FCC’s inspector general.

David Segal, co-founder of Demand Progress, a pro-net neutrality group, said Walden’s remarks “underscore his allegiance to corporate interests.”

Walden’s choice of venue is telling. According to tax filings by two cable and wireless trade associations, the Free State Foundation has received nearly half a million dollars from the trade associations over the last five years. CTIA-The Wireless Association — representing Verizon, AT&T and Motorola, among others — gave the foundation $213,750. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the trade group for Comcast and other major cable companies, provided $280,000 to the foundation. The two trade groups intend to file a lawsuit to block the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

The Free State Foundation raised $797,500 total in 2012 but is not legally required to disclose its donors and, unlike many think tanks, does not do so voluntarily on its website. PCWorld gave the foundation an “F” rating for donor transparency. As of publication, the Free State Foundation has not responded to questions about its funders.

The Free State Foundation, founded by Randolph May, a former telecommunications attorney in Washington, D.C., describes itself as . . .

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Perhaps there’s always this sort of struggle between the greedy and those interested in the common welfare, but lately the power has swung heavily in favor of the greedy, and we’re all the worse off for it.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2015 at 1:58 pm

What about the flash-crash of the dollar on Wednesday?

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Pam Martens writes at Wall Street on Parade:

One would think we had asked for missile launch codes when we reached out to the futures exchanges to find out what caused the precipitous plunge in the U.S. Dollar’s futures contract at 4:04 P.M. Wednesday afternoon – long after the Federal Reserve’s market moving news had been digested by traders.

If currencies are now the new weapons of mass destruction – maybe we were asking for the equivalent of missile launch codes.

Our curiosity was piqued when the intrepid Eric Hunsader of market data firm, Nanex,published amazing charts showing a precipitous plunge in the U.S. Dollar just after the equity markets had closed in New York. Hunsader wrote:

“On March 18, 2015 between 4:02 and 4:09 PM Eastern Daylight Time, the U.S. Dollar flash crashed, losing over 3% of its value in just under 4 minutes, then gaining most of it back over the next 3 minutes.”

If that isn’t a Flash Crash, I don’t know what is. (Both Wall Street On Parade and Hunsader know a thing or two about Flash Crashes.) But no mainstream business media reported the event as a Flash Crash or even alluded to the 4-minute bungee jump and retracement in any  explicit terms.

The Wall Street Journal reported the next morning that “For a few minutes on Wednesday, the lack of dollar buyers caused a short-term freeze in electronic trading platforms, according to a New York-based trader at a major currency-dealing bank. ‘There was a lot of shouting on the desk, a lot of nervousness,’ the trader said…”

This morning, the Wall Street Journal is using stronger language, calling it a “wild ride” in currencies on Wednesday and quoting a currency trader who said it “was like a zoo,” with traders “struggling to fill orders” and “screaming and yelling for the fill.” (The “fill” means to have their currency order “filled,” that is, the transaction completed.)

One business writer who did quickly capture the magnitude of the plunge was Barron’s Chris Dieterich, who reported at 4:26 P.M. on Wednesday that the dollar “was down a whopping 3.6% versus the euro in recent trading, according to FactSet.”

There is no question that there is an extremely crowded trade in bullish bets on the U.S. Dollar by hedge funds around the world. In just the past year, the U.S. Dollar has gained 29 percent against the Euro on talk from the Fed of a strengthening U.S. economy and plans for an interest rate hike. But what made this move unusual was that the plunge didn’t happen right after the Fed’s FOMC statement release at 2 P.M., alluding to the potential for a delayed hike in interest rates, or during Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference at 2:30 P.M. It happened at 4:04 P.M. Eastern time.

We went to the source for clarification: the CME and ICE exchanges which trade currency futures. A courteous spokesperson for CME told us the following via email: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 March 2015 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Business, Technology

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