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9 minutes of fear

Posted on July 31st, 2017 at 19:20 by John Sinteur in category: News


At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet.

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Disney can now use infrared cameras to track your reactions to films in darkened cinemas

Posted on July 31st, 2017 at 17:07 by John Sinteur in category: News


Disney can now track your laughter, smiles, gasps, and frowns inside those darkened cinemas.

The media conglomerate’s research arm is using machine learning to assess the audience’s reactions to films based on their facial expressions, it wrote in a new research paper (pdf). It uses something called factorized variational auto-encoders, or FVAEs, to predict how a viewer will react to the rest of a film after tracking their facial expressions for a few minutes.

The FVAEs learn a set of facial expressions, such as smiles and laughter, from the audience, and then make correlations between audience members to see if a movie is getting laughs or other reactions when it should be—a much more sophisticated version of how Amazon and Netflix make suggestions for new things to buy or watch based on your shopping or viewing history.

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Posted on July 31st, 2017 at 8:16 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Waters: Pence is planning his inauguration

Posted on July 30th, 2017 at 21:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) suggested on Saturday that Vice President Pence is already planning his inauguration in anticipation of President Trump’s impeachment.

Mike Pence is somewhere planning an inauguration. Priebus and Spicer will lead the transition,” Waters wrote on Twitter, referring to former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, both of whom resigned their positions over the past week.

Somehow that sounds like something she would say if she really disliked Pence – this is professional troll level feeding Trump on his own paranoid delusions..

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  1. Well he can’t fire the veep. Or can he?

  2. He could always pull a Spiro Agnew on him.

  3. @will: True, but what would they charge him with? I’m sure that Mr. P. is as honest as the next fellow. Perhaps concealing dope?

  4. Unfortunately the dope he works for is too pungent to be concealed.

Death of a F***ing Salesman, by Kevin D. Williamson, National Review

Posted on July 30th, 2017 at 21:16 by John Sinteur in category: News


He wants to be John Wayne, but what he is is “Woody Allen without the humor.” Peggy Noonan, to whom we owe that observation, has his number: He is soft, weak, whimpering, and petulant. He isn’t smart enough to do the job and isn’t man enough to own up to the fact. For all his gold-plated toilets, he is at heart that middling junior salesman watching Glengarry Glen Ross and thinking to himself: “That’s the man I want to be.” How many times do you imagine he has stood in front of a mirror trying to project like Alec Baldwin? Unfortunately for the president, it’s Baldwin who does the good imitation of Trump, not the other way around.

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  1. The National Review? The conservative home page? *spit*
    Still you gotta admire their balls. Now they’re saying that Trump is so bad that he’s a good thing:

    Talk about making a virtue of a necessity.

The ‘Internet of Restaurants’ Is Coming for Your Info

Posted on July 30th, 2017 at 12:32 by John Sinteur in category: News


Nice restaurant you have there, wouldn’t want it to go out of business because you didn’t hook your espresso machine up to the Internet.

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The Untold Tale of Colbert’s Hunt for Trump ‘Pee Tape’

Posted on July 30th, 2017 at 10:49 by John Sinteur in category: News


The Late Show host, accompanied by independent journalist and surveillance expert Andrew Soldatov, made some interesting discoveries, not all of which have been reported, as Soldatov told The Daily Beast.

In a sitdown interview with Soldatov, Colbert asked him to keep “a stone face” while the comedian described the “golden shower” allegations about Trump and the hookers. Colbert wondered if there might be a tape. Stone-faced, Soldatov said, “Well that makes sense.”

Then they visited Room 1101, the Presidential Suite.

“You come to the room everybody talks about thinking it is funny to look for hidden cameras, until it is not,” said Soldatov. Behind the scenes shooting “Russia Week” in June, “things turned out to be serious.”

“When we entered Trump’s former bedroom, I suggested that Colbert and I look for the surveillance cameras behind the large mirror and to our astonishment we discovered an electric cable, which could not have any clear purpose, as the mirror had no electronic illumination,”

Here is the eventual segment.

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  1. Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt the FSB leaves wires hanging around.

It’s Your Money But You Can’t Have It: EU Proposes Account Freezes to Halt Bank Runs

Posted on July 30th, 2017 at 0:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


European Union states are considering measures which would allow them to temporarily stop people withdrawing money from their accounts to prevent bank runs, an EU document reviewed by Reuters revealed.

The move is aimed at helping rescue lenders that are deemed failing or likely to fail, but critics say it could hit confidence and might even hasten withdrawals at the first rumors of a bank being in trouble.

The proposal, which has been in the works since the beginning of this year, comes less than two months after a run on deposits at Banco Popular contributed to the collapse of the Spanish lender.

Giving supervisors the power to temporarily block bank accounts at ailing lenders is “a feasible option,” a paper prepared by the Estonian presidency of the EU said, acknowledging that member states were divided on the issue.

So, either you make sure you’re among the first to take your money out, or just make sure there isn’t any of yours in a European bank anyway.

I side with Charlie Bannister of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), who says “We strongly believe that this would incentivize depositors to run from a bank at an early stage.”

Ehm. yes, that’s what I said.

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  1. So, how would this work if we eliminate cash (as some places appear to be contemplating). Do they give you a cheque?

  2. No – you get to do what they have been trying to get you to do for a long time now: sleep under a bridge and beg for cake.

  3. Oh, I was rather hoping to be hired as a servant. I make excellent cake.

  4. I guess you could put your money in a brokerage account. You don’t have to buy stocks and most allow you to write checks.

As Trump steams, Senate Republicans consider new repeal effort

Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 21:46 by John Sinteur in category: News


Senate Republicans’ party-line attempts to repeal Obamacare aren’t dead just yet — at least not if President Donald Trump has anything to say about it.

Trump, increasingly impatient with the long-stalled repeal effort, met with three Senate Republicans about a new plan to roll back the health care law on Friday, signaling some lawmakers — as well as the president — are not ready to ditch their seven-year campaign promise.

The group is trying to write legislation that could get 50 Republican votes, according to multiple administration and Capitol Hill sources. The proposal from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would block grant federal health care funding to the states and keep much of Obamacare’s tax regime. White House officials also met with House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) to brainstorm how to make the idea palatable to conservatives, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.

Yeah, perhaps this time they can follow Trump’s advice and try to get 51 votes, instead of the previous failed attempt which needed a ridiculous 51 votes to pass.

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  1. And in other news, the captain of the Titanic has announced he’s bringing the ship around for another crack at that iceberg.
    “We’re bound to sink it this time.” said Captain GOP…

Hackers Crack Voting Machines Within Minutes At DEF CON In Vegas

Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 21:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


We already knew U.S. voting systems had security flaws ― the federal government put that nail in the coffin when it repeatedly confirmed that Russian hackers breached systems in at least 21 states during the election last year.

But on Friday, hackers stateside showed us just how easily some of the electronic voting machines can be cracked.

Those who attended DEF CON, a 25-year-old hacking convention held in Las Vegas, were given physical and remote access to voting machines procured from eBay and government auctions.

Within about 90 minutes, they’d exploited weak and outdated security measures to gain full access, The Register first reported. Some physically broke down the machines to reveal their vulnerabilities, while others gained remote access or showed that external ports found on some could be used to upload malicious software.

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Trump: Republicans ‘look like fools’ if they don’t kill Senate filibuster

Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 20:58 by John Sinteur in category: News




Meanwhile, just a few years ago:


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This is what you get when you elect Republicans

Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 14:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


It’s remarkable to consider that there was a time not too long ago when the Grand Old Party was known for being serious, sober, a little boring, but above all, responsible. They were conservative in the traditional sense: wanting to conserve what they thought was good and fearful of rapid change. You might not have agreed with them, but there were limits to the damage they could do. The devolution from that Republican Party to the one we see today took a couple of decades and had many sources, but its fullest expression was reached with the lifting up of Donald J. Trump to the presidency, this contemptible buffoon who may have been literally the single worst prominent American they could have chosen to be their standard-bearer.

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Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 13:36 by John Sinteur in category: News

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A smart fish tank left a casino vulnerable to hackers

Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 10:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


Hackers attempted to steal data from a North American casino through a fish tank connected to the internet, according to a report from security firm Darktrace.

Despite extra security precautions set up on the fish tank, hackers still managed to compromise the tank to send data to a device in Finland before the threat was discovered and stopped.

“Someone used the fish tank to get into the network, and once they were in the fish tank, they scanned and found other vulnerabilities and moved laterally to other places in the network,” Justin Fier, director for cyber intelligence and analysis at Darktrace, explained to CNN Tech.

As internet-connected gadgets and appliances become more common, there are more ways for bad guys to gain access to networks and take advantage of insecure devices. The fish tank, for instance, was connected to the internet to automatically feed the fish and keep their environment comfortable — but it became a weak link in a the casino’s security.

Okay, it’s not a motor management system (see below), but really, a fish tank? Is it in a remote abandoned location where without internet nobody would know if it’s doing fine?

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  1. It’s also how the fish watch movies these days, presumably. “A Fish Called Wanda” is a popular horror-flick.

Keen Lab hackers managed to take control of Tesla vehicles again

Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 10:28 by John Sinteur in category: News


Last year, a Chinese whitehat hacker group, the Keen Security Lab at Tencent, managed to remotely hack the Tesla Model S through a malicious wifi hotspot.

Tesla quickly pushed a fix through an over-the-air software update, but now the same research group has managed to again gain control of Tesla’s vehicles.

The hack involved tricking a Tesla drivers into accessing a malicious website through a wifi hotspot and then install their own software in order to gain access to some of the car’s features – more importantly, the braking system.

Tesla’s fix included adding code signing in order to prevent anyone else from uploading software on Tesla’s system, but now Keen Lab says that they managed to by-pass the code signing with the latest round of vulnerabilities testing on Tesla’s car.

On the one hand, Tesla’s approach to these guys can only be praised:

While the risk to our customers from this type of exploit is very low and we have not seen a single customer ever affected by it, we actively encourage research of this kind so that we can prevent potential issues from occurring.


We commend the research team behind this demonstration and look forward to continued collaboration with them and others to facilitate this kind of research.”

On the other hand, there’s a much simpler way to prevent these hacks: don’t connect the CAN bus or any vehicle management system to the internet. At all.

Take a hint from the aviation industry: how many flight management systems are connected in any way to the in-flight entertainment and the passenger internet access?

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Wells Fargo Forced Unwanted Auto Insurance on Borrowers

Posted on July 29th, 2017 at 0:33 by John Sinteur in category: News


More than 800,000 people who took out car loans from Wells Fargo were charged for auto insurance they did not need, and some of them are still paying for it, according to an internal report prepared for the bank’s executives.

The expense of the unneeded insurance, which covered collision damage, pushed roughly 274,000 Wells Fargo customers into delinquency and resulted in almost 25,000 wrongful vehicle repossessions, according to the 60-page report, which was obtained by The New York Times. Among the Wells Fargo customers hurt by the practice were military service members on active duty.


“We take full responsibility for these errors and are deeply sorry for any harm we caused customers,” Ms. Temple added.

No, you’re not. How is this “bank” still in business?

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  1. Who would have thought that a bank with a wild west themed name would have so many cowboys?

What Trump Doesn’t Understand About Politics and the Military

Posted on July 28th, 2017 at 20:37 by John Sinteur in category: News


It is difficult, indeed almost impossible, to recount the widespread revulsion for the commander in chief that coursed through the military in the immediate wake of those statements (and similarly, after his mid-week trans ban). It is not because the sentiments were not aired, but because by law these sentiments were expressed surreptitiously, privately, or anonymously. The Officer Corps is held silent by Article 88 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and what Trump had just done was patently against the rules, not to mention federal statutes. Why? Because as I mentioned, a “presidential wish” carries the weight of an order to those under military command, and Trump had effectively just ordered the entire US military to engage in a partisan political effort. In this case he ordered them to try to influence the United States Congress to accomplish his own personal and partisan political plan.

That is against the Hatch Act, which is not just a Department of Defense regulation, but a law passed by Congress. See, although the president himself is exempt from this law, his uniformed subordinates are not. Effectively, Trump issued an order for the military to break the law.

I will leave that one to the lawyers to decide if this was legal. I know one thing though, and I said it before. Regardless of your personal political affiliation, be you Conservative, Progressive, Liberal or whatever, none of us, anywhere, should condone trying to get the people with the guns to be political. That is a very, very, bad idea.

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Why the Scariest Nuclear Threat May Be Coming from Inside the White House

Posted on July 27th, 2017 at 22:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


On the morning after the election, November 9, 2016, the people who ran the U.S. Department of Energy turned up in their offices and waited. They had cleared 30 desks and freed up 30 parking spaces. They didn’t know exactly how many people they’d host that day, but whoever won the election would surely be sending a small army into the Department of Energy, and every other federal agency. The morning after he was elected president, eight years earlier, Obama had sent between 30 and 40 people into the Department of Energy. The Department of Energy staff planned to deliver the same talks from the same five-inch-thick three-ring binders, with the Department of Energy seal on them, to the Trump people as they would have given to the Clinton people. “Nothing had to be changed,” said one former Department of Energy staffer. “They’d be done always with the intention that, either party wins, nothing changes.”

By afternoon the silence was deafening. “Day 1, we’re ready to go,” says a former senior White House official. “Day 2 it was ‘Maybe they’ll call us?’ ”

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  1. Mind you, it doesn’t sound like the previous administrations had been doing brilliantly at keeping nuclear waste safe for the long haul. Tens of thousands of years? They’ve barely managed 7 decades.

  2. Lengthy read but very well worth it. And yes, it’s Iraq’s CPA (What the US Military called, ‘Children Playing Adults’) all over again…

Read the Full Text of Bill Browder’s Testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee

Posted on July 27th, 2017 at 21:43 by John Sinteur in category: News


Russia has a well-known reputation for corruption; unfortunately, I discovered that it was far worse than many had thought. While working in Moscow I learned that Russian oligarchs stole from shareholders, which included the fund I advised. Consequently, I had an interest in fighting this endemic corruption, so my firm started doing detailed research on exactly how the oligarchs stole the vast amounts of money that they did. When we were finished with our research we would share it with the domestic and international media.

For a time, this naming and shaming campaign worked remarkably well and led to less corruption and increased share prices in the companies we invested in. Why? Because President Vladimir Putin and I shared the same set of enemies. When Putin was first elected in 2000, he found that the oligarchs had misappropriated much of the president’s power as well. They stole power from him while stealing money from my investors. In Russia, your enemy’s enemy is your friend, and even though I’ve never met Putin, he would often step into my battles with the oligarchs and crack down on them.

That all changed in July 2003, when Putin arrested Russia’s biggest oligarch and richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Putin grabbed Khodorkovsky off his private jet, took him back to Moscow, put him on trial, and allowed television cameras to film Khodorkovsky sitting in a cage right in the middle of the courtroom. That image was extremely powerful, because none of the other oligarchs wanted to be in the same position. After Khodorkovsky’s conviction, the other oligarchs went to Putin and asked him what they needed to do to avoid sitting in the same cage as Khodorkovsky. From what followed, it appeared that Putin’s answer was, “Fifty percent.”He wasn’t saying 50 percent for the Russian government or the presidential administration of Russia, but 50 percent for Vladimir Putin personally. From that moment on, Putin became the biggest oligarch in Russia and the richest man in the world, and my anti-corruption activities would no longer be tolerated.

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New TSA procedure requires cameras to be placed in a separate bin

Posted on July 27th, 2017 at 14:42 by John Sinteur in category: News


New rules state that in standard security lines, cameras will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening. According to new procedures announced by the TSA today, any electronic device larger than a cell phone will need to be removed from its case or bag and placed in a bin with nothing above or below it.

Now, not only will your laptop need its own bin, but potentially every camera body, lens, flashgun and tablet in your carry-on bags will need to be placed in bins for X-ray screening. A photographer traveling with a full complement of gear for a shoot is going to need to budget a little extra time for all of the un-packing and packing at the airport.

TSA mentions that the heightened security requirements come as a response to ‘an increased threat to aviation security.’

Little known fact: the biggest threat to aviation security, according to the TSA, is people not paying them for pre-check status.

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As a British EU negotiator, I can tell you that Brexit is going to be far worse than anyone could have guessed

Posted on July 26th, 2017 at 21:36 by John Sinteur in category: News


For anyone following Brexit developments, the last week should have shown that the level of complexity involved in Brexit is unprecedented. Ministers however seem to have inserted their heads firmly into the sand, hoping tricky problems will just go away.

Who knew a fortnight ago that leaving the apparently obscure Euratom Treaty would jeopardise not only the UK nuclear industry, but also the supply of medical isotopes for cancer treatment?

Did anybody realise that the work needed to establish a new customs IT system was unlikely to be done in time, and what that would mean?

Was everyone already aware that UK airlines like easyJet would need to set up in the EU27 and Ryanair might move its planes to EU27 countries due to the UK leaving the Open Skies Agreement?

Well, some people knew, but they’re just experts, so have been largely ignored.

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  1. Doesn’t sound like they had the right negotiators. If you knew about these problems, which seem minor, why didn’t you fix them? Wasn’t that your job?

  2. I’m perhaps missing what you’re trying to suggest. Are you telling me that politicians and the voters should start listening to the experts?

  3. A lot of people have difficult jobs. The ones that get it done don’t complain all the time. Please tell me they accomplished something.

  4. To quote that old saw, careful what you wish for. You just might get it!

  5. Now hang on guys, I like this site just as much as the next guy but ‘listening to experts’?
    Nope, no can do. We’re living in a post-reality world & the time for crazy talk like ‘facts matter’ & ‘wishing DOESN’T make it so’ is long past.
    After all, as I type this on my phone, with the signal sent via satellite, as I live a greatly expanded lifespan, I HAVE to ask, “What have experts ever done for us, eh?”

  6. apart from the aquaducts, you mean?

  7. Clearly the British Conservative party is full of fools not Romans. If you don’t give your deplorables enough to live on and enough to keep them entertained, there’ll be a riot.

    That being said, if there is a riot, the Romans will close down your amphitheatre. Bastards.

Your Roomba May Be Mapping Your Home, Collecting Data That Could Be Sold

Posted on July 26th, 2017 at 18:41 by John Sinteur in category: News


Your Roomba may be vacuuming up more than you think.

High-end models of Roomba, iRobot’s robotic vacuum, collect data as they clean, identifying the locations of your walls and furniture. This helps them avoid crashing into your couch, but it also creates a map of your home that iRobot is considering selling to Amazon, Apple or Google.

Colin Angle, chief executive of iRobot, told Reuters that a deal could come in the next two years, though iRobot said in a statement on Tuesday: “We have not formed any plans to sell data.”

Well, I have not formed any plans to buy a Roomba either… the difference is, knowing this, I never will.

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  1. Damn, they probably already know where my torture rack is.

  2. Naah, no worry, they’ll just think you share the same kink they have.

John McCain gives stirring speech denouncing the health bill he just voted to advance

Posted on July 26th, 2017 at 9:29 by John Sinteur in category: News


Days after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) flew to back to Washington, DC, and cast what proved to be a deciding vote to begin debate on the Republican health bill.

And immediately afterward, he gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor in which he excoriated the process used to craft the bill, said he wouldn’t support the current version, predicted it would fail, and called for a bipartisan solution.

It was … strange. McCain’s speech gave the impression that he loathed everything surrounding this bill. Yet though he had the power to block it, just minutes earlier he chose not to. His speech suggested he wanted a bipartisan process through regular order. Yet though he had the power to kick-start that process, just minutes earlier he chose not to.

His said his vote Tuesday was merely a vote “to allow debate to continue and amendments to be offered,” and claimed he “will not vote for this bill as it is today.” So he did indeed leave the door open to potentially vote no on the final product.

And then votes YES a few hours later on the very bill he declared dramatically that he “WOULD! NOT! VOTE!” on.  What a spineless bastard, especially considering this asshole just came back from his government-funded cancer treatment to be the deciding vote to allow the debate to strip healthcare from millions of his fellow citizens to progress.

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  1. No, he wouldn’t vote yes after just receiving health care to be denied to other Americans? No one would want to meet their God after doing that, except for terrorists.

  2. IMHO the American Conservative concept of God is one who expects people to take care of themselves. In that mental construct, McCain made wise choices, and deserves the health care he received. Others who didn’t have the foresight to have a father who’s an Admiral, or to marry a wealth heiress, or to be born white and male and affluent, are simply experiencing the consequence of those poor decisions.

    OTOH, I can’t explain the disconnect between the impassioned speech and the spineless voting, other than to say that that’s the pattern of his party.

  3. Wait a minute. How much brain tissue was removed in the operation?

America’s Golden Age of Stupidity

Posted on July 25th, 2017 at 23:09 by John Sinteur in category: News


The opposite of knowledge is ignorance. But the willful disregard of knowledge – regardless of motive – is stupidity. That is because those who battle facts are at war with reality. It is an unwinnable proposition. Furthermore, specialized knowledge, particularly that of scientists, is essential if we are to do what leaders must, anticipate change, understand its consequences and harness the opportunities it presents. Trump, in waging a systematic campaign to rid the government of the experts and ideas he sees as threats to his agenda, has done more than just usher in a Golden Age of Stupidity. He is unwittingly asking a question it doesn’t take an expert to figure out: “What happens when you lobotomize the world’s leading power?”

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Swine in a Line

Posted on July 25th, 2017 at 9:10 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Trump (by the NYT)

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 23:42 by John Sinteur in category: News

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Magical singing

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 21:36 by John Sinteur in category: News

Once upon a time, in the magical fantasy kingdom, there lived a young monk named Sam. His order was renowned for their beautiful choral singing. They trained, hours every day, refining their voices and their art. Their song floated down the mountainside, enriching the lives and souls of the townspeople below.

Sam was particularly gifted, and on his 19th birthday, in mid-song, he hit upon a beautifully intricate note of pure magic. Everyone within miles just froze in mid action, stirred to the very core of their souls by the pure bliss of the tone. And all the realm realized, instantly, that it was Sam, and Sam was the first person in history to hit one of the rumoured Magical Notes that musicians had theorised must exist… yet no one before Sam had ever reached one.

And on Sam’s 20th birthday, it happened again. This time, the town below was so impacted that no one moved, spoke, or even blinked for several minutes after. As the golden sound finally tapered off and ceased, they knew that Sam had found the Second Note.

And the next year on Sam’s birthday, the town had realised there was a pattern involved. This time, all of the townspeople were present in the monastery’s nave, watching in awe, as Sam hit the glorious Third Note. People cried out in pure joy as the sound grew to a glorious crescendo. Words cannot do justice to the experience. The town flourished, as Sam’s notes made the people pure all the way to the core of their beings.

And on it went for the next few years, the Magical Notes growing sweeter and sweeter… until, that is, Sam’s 25th birthday. All at first seemed as normal… until Sam hit the Magical Note. From the start, Sam seemed very uncomfortable, and this new sound was not beautiful… it was jarring and discordant. Sam started to get very warm, and was visibly sweating onstage. He doubled his resolve and dug deeper, to get to the sweet part of the Magical Note that he knew must be there.

Suddenly, to the horror of all, Sam spontaneously combusted! The two closest monks on stage were burned by the flames coming off of his body, and he ignited the stage curtains. Soon the entire monastery was aflame. By a miracle, everyone made it out, except for poor Sam. The townsfolk were left staring at the burning monastery in sad, stunned disbelief. The mayor approached the lead monk of the order. “What happened?” he asked, exasperated.

The old monk shook his head sadly. “Isn’t it obvious?” he said. “Sam sung Note 7”.

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  1. Small wonder, Sam was banned from flying.

18 year old guy arrested for reporting a shamefully stupid bug in the new Budapest e-Ticket system

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 19:12 by John Sinteur in category: News


The story started a few weeks ago, when the BKK announced that it would launch mobile based a e-Ticketing system. Everyone, including me, was enthusiastic and surprised at the same time. We knew that they have been working on an NFC/smart card based system for around 4 years, without any visible result despite the millions of EURs spent. (The last article I’ve seen quotes 9 million EURs as the final cost.) The first questions that came to my mind when I heard the announcement were: ‘How come so suddenly, without any previous rumours, news?’ and ‘I wonder how will they make it really hard to cheat, what copy protection/authentication mechanisms will be there…’

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Amazon may give app developers access to Alexa audio recordings

Posted on July 24th, 2017 at 16:38 by John Sinteur in category: News


Amazon is considering granting third-party app developers access to transcripts of audio recordings saved by Alexa-powered devices, according to a report from The Information today. The change would be aimed at enticing developers to continue investing in Alexa as a voice assistant platform, by giving those app makers more data that could help improve their software over time. Amazon’s goal, according to The Information, is to stay competitive with more recent entrants in the smart speaker market, like Apple and Google.

Amazon declined to comment on its future plans for Alexa data-sharing policies. However, a company spokesperson told The Verge, “When you use a skill, we provide the developer the information they need to process your request. We do not share customer identifiable information to third-party skills without the customer’s consent. We do not share audio recordings with developers.”

What a nice non-denial. So, yes, they are going to give out transcripts…

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Washington Governor On Donald Trump

Posted on July 23rd, 2017 at 14:04 by John Sinteur in category: News


When we sat down for a chat with the Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, we expected that he would be as pro-science as he is anti-Trump – but we weren’t expecting him to combine both facets with such ease into single sentences.

“I think there’s only one person in the world that’s done more to inspire climate activism, and to inspire scientists to speak out more than Al Gore, and that’s Donald Trump,” Inslee tells IFLScience.

“His rejection of Paris was a bell in the night; it has inspired so many people to come out and stand up.”

Then, rather mischievously, he adds: “Except for the eradication of smallpox, there hasn’t been anything that humanity has been so united on.”

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