Category Archives: Technology

Guy Arrested for Tweet

This will be an interesting bit of case law.

A man accused of sending a flashing image to a writer in order to trigger an epileptic seizure has been arrested, the US justice department says.

John Rayne Rivello, 29, of Maryland, sent Kurt Eichenwald an animated image with a flashing light on Twitter in December, causing the seizure.

He has been charged with criminal cyber stalking and could face a 10-year sentence, the New York Times reports.

“You deserve a seizure for your post,” he is alleged to have written.

Mr Eichenwald is known to have epilepsy. He is a senior writer at Newsweek magazine, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a best-selling author of books including The Informant.

On the one hand, if the allegations are true, Rivello clearly acted with malicious intent to cause harm to Eichenwald and succeeded in causing that harm. On the other hand, we are treading in dangerous territory if we are going to start arresting people for stuff that they wrote on Twitter.

NASA Finds Lost Lunar Orbiters

Cool.

(CNN)It made history as India’s first unmanned lunar spacecraft. Then it vanished.

Nearly a decade later, NASA has located two unmanned spacecraft orbiting the moon, including India’s Chandrayaan-1, which went quiet in 2009.
Scientists used a new ground radar to locate the two spacecraft — one active and one dormant, NASA said Thursday.
“We have been able to detect NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [LRO] and the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar,” said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission’s navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located.”
The Chandrayaan-1 was more of a challenge because the last contact with the spacecraft was in August 2009.

Wikileaks Drops a Bomb on CIA

This is horrible.

Wikileaks has published details of what it says are wide-ranging hacking tools used by the CIA.

The alleged cyber-weapons are said to include malware that targets Windows, Android, iOS, OSX and Linux computers as well as internet routers.

Some of the software is reported to have been developed in-house, but the UK’s MI5 agency is said to have helped build a spyware attack for Samsung TVs.

A spokesman for the CIA would not confirm the details.

No, I’m not talking about CIA surveillance techniques. I’m talking about the massive breach in our national security. The continuing disclosures of national secrets needs to stop. Perhaps if we start executing traitors again it would deter such behavior.

Tesla Roof to be Cheaper than Normal Roof

Awesome. I’d buy one.

Elon Musk made quite the announcement today. During the special shareholders meeting to approve the merger with SolarCity, which they approved by 85%, he said that he was coming back from a meeting with the SolarCity engineering team about the solar roof and that he now feels confident that they could deliver the product at a lower cost than a regular roof – even before energy production.

That’s different from what the company was claiming before the meeting today.

And it’s an incredibly bold claim since if it turns out to be true, no homeowner would have any reason not to choose a solar roof when buying a new roof.

Charging for Charging

This seems utterly reasonable.

Tired of clients plugging their devices for hours, cafe owner Galina Pokorny now charges €1 ($1.06; £0.85) for those who take too long charging.

“Tourists – always electricity, electricity, electricity. Sorry but who is going to pay me for it?” she said.

A recharge during a 15-minute coffee is still fine. More than that will add to the bill.

The fee applies also to laptops and tablets and it is multiplied by the number of devices being recharged.

White House Security Officer Reportedly Fired

Hmmmm… was this the guy leaking conversations between the president and foreign leaders?

Cory Louie, the chief information security officer at the White House, has reportedly been removed from his position, according to a report from ZDNet.

The news has yet to be confirmed by the Trump administration, which had kept Louie on staff after taking office. Louie was first appointed to his position by President Barack Obama in 2015 and was tasked with protecting the President’s staff from cybersecurity threats.

According to the report, Louie was either fired or asked to resign last Thursday and was escorted from his office in the executive wing of the White House.

Twitter Placement

The geeks at Twitter are having some fun this morning.

placement

Apollo 1 – 50 Years Later

RIP

“Fire, I smell fire,” the first indication from the capsule that something was wrong. It is unclear whether the voice is Chaffee or White. “Fire in the cockpit.”

Within seconds the fire had broken from its point of origin, stretching in a wall of flames along the left side of the module. The flames rose vertically and spread across the cabin ceiling, scattering beads of molten nylon from straps and fastenings onto the crew.

The next communication is indistinct, the only words that can be made out with any certainty are “bad fire.” The transmission ends with a cry of pain.

Fifteen seconds after the first report of fire, TV cameras on the pad show flames filling the command module.

“Then you hear the pad people try to rescue the crew,” says Ehrenfried. “Then it starts to sink in, this is really bad and we didn’t know how bad until we heard on the communications loop: ‘We’ve lost them’.”

United Airlines Grounds Domestic Flights

Wow. It’s going to be a rough travel day for a lot of folks tomorrow.

An IT meltdown has caused United Airlines to issue a ground stop for all domestic flights.

 Russians?
UPDATE: Looks like they’ve fixed it.

Massive Cost Overruns for California High Speed Train

What!?!? Unheard of! /sarcasm

California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

Amazon Refuses to Release Echo Information

This will be interesting to see.

(CNN)Amazon is pushing back against an Arkansas prosecutor’s demand for information from a murder suspect’s Echo smart speaker, setting up another legal battle over investigators’ quest for technology-based evidence and American privacy rights.

Benton County Prosecuting Attorney Nathan Smith hopes the voice-activated Echo — which answers users’ questions, plays music, reads news and connects to other smart devices — will provide information on how a man came to be found dead in 31-year-old James Bates’ hot tub.
Bates’ defense attorney, Kimberly Weber, says there is nothing useful on the device and applauds Amazon for protecting her client’s privacy. Bates, who was arrested in February on suspicion of first-degree murder, is presently free on a $350,000 bond. A discovery hearing in his case is scheduled for March.
[…]
According to Amazon, Echo works by constantly listening for the “wake word” — “Alexa” or “Amazon,” by default — and then records your voice and transfers it to a processor for analysis so that it can fulfill requests or answer questions. The recordings are streamed and stored remotely, and can be reviewed or deleted over time, Amazon says.
I’m a bit of a technophile and have considered getting an Echo (or similar device). It would be kind of cool to have a digital assistant around – especially if it’s integrated to various home controls. But the thought of having a device always listening, and possibly recording, everything going on in my home is a bit off-putting.
If the prosecutor was looking for data off of a home security camera or something, it would not be an issue. But since the data on this device is stored by Amazon, they are involved in deciding whether or not to release the data.
Think back to the John Doe investigation where the government illegally seized thousands of emails and such from the victims’ ISPs without even notifying them. Could they do the same with data from your Echo? Of course they could.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t get an Echo or similar device. I probably will at some point. But be careful what you say around it. I suspect that Amazon is going to lose its case here.

Amazon Piloting Employeeless Store

This is the kind of amazing technology that will replace employees demanding $15 an hour.

Amazon says the company brought together the most advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence to eliminate cash registers in a new 1,800-square-foot store in Seattle.

Amazon Go is already open to Amazon employees through its beta program and is scheduled to open to the public in early 2017.

As seen in a video released by the company, shoppers scan a code from the Amazon Go app on their smartphones at a kiosk and then proceed to fill up their carts. The video’s narrator says that a virtual cart automatically registers every time a customer picks up or puts down an item and that Amazon accounts are only charged once someone leaves the store.

“We used computer vision, deep-learning algorithms and sensor fusion much like you’d find in self-driving cars. We call it “Just Walk Out Technology,’” he says.

According to Amazon, the store will offer ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, as well as grocery essentials like bread and milk. It is located at 2131 Seventh Avenue in Seattle.

Those demanding more money would be better served learning to be the programmers and technicians for these kinds of technologies.

Reddit’s Edits

I don’t know why anyone would even bother with Reddit anymore after their CEO admitted to actually editing other people’s comments. And now he is silencing people with whom he disagrees in order to promote “healing.” Whatever. There are plenty of other places on the web.

News-sharing community Reddit is taking action against what it calls its “most toxic” users.

Hundreds of members of the site have been identified, Reddit’s chief executive Steve Huffman wrote.

Specifically, attention is being directed at /r/The_Donald, a subreddit – section – of the site created and used by supporters of the US President-Elect.

Mr Huffman, who posts as “spez” on the site, said he would not ban the section entirely as he wanted to push a “spirit of healing” on the site.

But he has been under heavy criticism after he admitted he had personally edited comments left by users.

“More than anything, I want Reddit to heal, and I want our country to heal, and although many of you have asked us to ban the r/The_Donald outright, it is with this spirit of healing that I have resisted doing so,” he wrote on Wednesday.

“If there is anything about this election that we have learned, it is that there are communities that feel alienated and just want to be heard, and Reddit has always been a place where those voices can be heard.”

UK To Capture and Store Citizens’ Internet History

Sounds like something North Korea or Iran would do.

Internet providers will soon be required to record which services their customers’ devices connect to – including websites and messaging apps.

The Home Office says it will help combat terrorism, but critics have described it as a “snoopers’ charter”.

Critics of the law have said hackers could get access to the records.

“It only takes one bad actor to go in there and get the entire database,” said James Blessing, chairman of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa), which represents BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and others.

“You can try every conceivable thing in the entire world to [protect it] but somebody will still outsmart you.

“Mistakes will happen. It’s a question of when. Hopefully it’s in tens or maybe a hundred years. But it might be next week.”
The Investigatory Powers Bill was approved by the House of Lords on 19 November and is due to become law before the end of 2016.

Clinton Emails Found on Weiner’s Computer

Just consider how reckless, to use the kindest word possible, Clinton was to allow this to happen.

The FBI has found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the laptop belonging to the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner, according to a U.S. official.

These emails, CBS News’ Andres Triay reports, are not duplicates of emails found on Secretary Clinton’s private server. At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are.

Huma: “Weiner? Doesn’t ring a bell.”

Bless her heart.

Abedin said she was surprised when she learned the FBI had found her emails on the device belonging to Anthony Weiner, the news outlet reported.

 

Massive DDoS Attack Hits America

It’s worth paying attention to how these networks are put together and managed as our government seeks to surrender control of the internet’s backbone.

A number of popular websites like Twitter and Netflix went down for some users on Friday in a massive cyberattack with international reach.

Affected sites included Twitter (TWTR, Tech30), Etsy (ETSY), Github, Vox, Spotify, Airbnb, Netflix(NFLX, Tech30) and Reddit.

Dyn, which manages website domains and routes internet traffic, experienced two distributed denial of service attacks on its DNS servers. A DDoS attack is an attempt to flood a website with so much traffic that it impairs normal service.

“If you take out one of these DNS service providers, you can disrupt a large number of popular online services, which is exactly what we’re seeing today,” said Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy at cybersecurity startup SentinelOne.

The massive outage drew the attention of the FBI which said Friday that it was “investigating all potential causes” of the attack.

Capturing Cow Farts

I’m just going to leave this here.

In Argentina, home to over 50 million cows, researchers from the Argentina National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) are attempting to use “methane backpacks,” plastic contraptions attached to cows, to capture methane from a cow’s digestive tract. The technology is in its early stages, but so far the backpacks have been able to extract 300 liters of methane a day, enough to power a car or refrigerator, according to INTA.

cowfarts

 

 

Despite the humor in the whole image, it is actually a pretty neat idea to try to find a way to capture methane from livestock to use as energy. It is certainly a renewable source and a good use of a natural byproduct of a growing industry.

New Cancer Drug Shows Remarkable Promise

Here’s some good news on a Monday evening.

An immunotherapy drug has been described as a potential “game-changer” in promising results presented at the European Cancer Congress.

In a study of head and neck cancer, more patients taking nivolumab survived for longer compared with those who were treated with chemotherapy.

In another study, combining nivolumab with another drug shrank tumours in advanced kidney cancer patients.

Immunotherapy works by harnessing the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Advanced head and neck cancer has very poor survival rates.

In a trial of more than 350 patients, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 36% treated with the immunotherapy drug nivolumab were alive after one year compared with 17% who received chemotherapy.

Patients also experienced fewer side effects from immunotherapy.

I would note that since this drug is not approved by the FDA, you could not try it even if you were terminally ill because Harry Reid blocked Senator Ron Johnson’s “Right to Try” bill.

Coal CEO Slams Tesla

He has a point.

In a discussion on CNBC Monday morning, Robert Murray, CEO of coal-mining company Murray Energy Corp, took a shot at electric car manufacturer Tesla over the taking taxpayer subsidies and failing to turn a profit. Following the attack, Elon Musk took to Twitter to refute the claims and challenge Murray’s beliefs head-on.

In the CNBC discussion (viewable here), Murray said “Tesla is a fraud. [Musk has] gotten $2 billion from the taxpayer, has not made a penny yet in cash flow, here again it’s subsidies.” The Trump-supporting CEO continued on to say that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton intends on giving subsidies to “Elon Musk, Warren Buffett,” and her other rich “friends” and that it would have “nothing to do with supporting the environment.”

Following the live footage, Musk tweeted out a link to the interview and another one stating, “Real fraud going on is denial of climate science. As for ‘subsidies,’ Tesla gets pennies on dollar vs coal. How about we both go to zero?”

I would note that it is in Big Coal’s best interests to support electric cars like Tesla. After all, a lot of electricity is produced by coal while zero cars with an internal combustion engine are. Notice that Musk doesn’t actually refute the point.