Every Place Is the Same Now

Found on The Atlantic on Sunday, 19 January 2020
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Anywhere has become as good as anywhere else. The office is a suitable place for tapping out emails, but so is the bed, or the toilet. You can watch television in the den—but also in the car, or at the coffee shop, turning those spaces into impromptu theaters.

Nowhere feels especially remarkable, and every place adopts the pleasures and burdens of every other.

Thus all places become dull, boring and lifeless. Put your smartphone away and raise your eyes to actually see how different places can be.

The Navy Has Secret Classified Video of an Infamous UFO Incident

Found on Vice on Saturday, 18 January 2020
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In response to a Freedom of Information Act request sent by researcher Christian Lambright seeking more information on the incident, the Navy said it had “discovered certain briefing slides that are classified TOP SECRET. A review of these materials indicates that are currently and appropriate Marked and Classified TOP SECRET under Executive Order 13526, and the Original Classification Authority has determined that the release of these materials would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States.”

“The Pentagon has a long history of sometimes providing inaccurate information to the American people,” Elizondo said. “This is true as recently as this week regarding the draft memo involving Iran, and two weeks ago when the press finally received the truth about Afghanistan despite 18 years of statements to the contrary.”

No weather ballons to see, move on. As long as nothing is released, all these press statements are pointless.

FBI seizes WeLeakInfo, a website that sold access to breached data

Found on ZD Net on Friday, 17 January 2020
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The website provided access to people's cleartext passwords, allowing hackers to purchase a subscription on the site and gain access to billions of user credentials.

The website was dirt cheap, which made it highly accessible even to low-skilled hackers with liddle funds. For as little as $2 per day, hackers could perform unlimited searches for a user's data on the site.

Currently, there are at least three other websites that operate similar to LeakedSource and WeLeakInfo -- selling access to hacked data, including cleartext passwords. They are Dehashed, Snusbase, and Leak-Lookup. All three are still up, at the time of writing.

As long as big leaks happen, sites such as these will exist. To reduce leaks, companies must get into really big financial troubles for messing up; but as seen with Equifax, this does not seem to happen at all.

Cookies track you across the internet. Google wants to phase them out.

Found on NBC News on Thursday, 16 January 2020
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Google has announced plans to limit the ability of other companies to track people across the internet and collect information about them, a significant change that has widespread ramifications for online privacy as well as the digital economy.

“We are looking to build a more trustworthy and sustainable web together, and to do that we need your continued engagement,” Schuh wrote.

Read it again: "to limit the ability of other companies". Yes, of other companies. Not of Google. So you will still be tracked (even better than before because the browser will report directly to Google), but Google will make your profiling data more valueable because others get cut off.

I broke Giant’s handheld scanner system by only buying two things

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 15 January 2020
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To cut down on abuse, there's a small, random chance of any given transaction being audited.

This system has a problem. Several, actually, but the key problem for me was that an audit requires seven items. No matter how many you actually buy.

The employee interface verified that my cart contained two (2) items. She scanned both. It verified that those two items were ones I had scanned. And then it told her that she needed to scan five more items to complete the audit, because the audit requires seven items to be scanned.

For some strange reason this sounds like a real life world story written by Monty Python: "Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out."

Facebook: Star Wars' Mark Hamill deletes account over political ads

Found on BBC News on Tuesday, 14 January 2020
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In a tweet, the celebrity accused the firm's chief Mark Zuckerberg of having valued profit over truthfulness.

By contrast, Twitter opted to ban all political adverts from its platform in October. The company's chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted that he believed "political message reach should be earned, not bought".

Facebook puts profit before truth? Well, it always has. Nothing new there.

Equifax's Stock Rose More Than 50% In 2019

Found on Slashdot on Monday, 13 January 2020
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"There's still time to file a claim for a share of the $425 million that Equifax agreed to cough up after hosing almost half of the country in its massive data breach a few years ago," writes a Pennyslvania newspaper columnist, pointing victims to equifaxbreachsettlement.com.

"But unless you can prove you were an identity theft victim who lost money, or had to waste time cleaning up the mess, don't expect much of a payout. Victims are being hosed again."

The masses are dumb and forget quickly. Sad but true.

Microsoft is replacing Edge with its new Chromium browser next week

Found on Input on Sunday, 12 January 2020
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We already knew this was coming because Microsoft announced the new Edge’s launch date last month, but it wasn’t clear that users would be pushed to the new version. Thankfully it will look mostly the same as the existing Edge browser, with all the same proprietary Microsoft features, except for a slightly more Chrome-esque look.

By developing on the open-source Chromium project, Microsoft is helping to improve Google’s browser, which it uses to collect data for advertising purposes.

Not only do normal users get their browser replaced, but MS also supports more data collection. It would be much better to have a browser which actively blocks profiling and advertising.

F.B.I. Asks Apple to Help Unlock Two iPhones

Found on New York Times on Saturday, 11 January 2020
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Apple regularly complies with court orders to turn over information it has on its servers, such as iCloud data, but it has long argued that it does not have access to material stored only on a locked, encrypted iPhone.

And Attorney General William P. Barr has recently turned up his criticism of encryption. He said last month that finding a way for law enforcement to gain access to encrypted technology was one of the Justice Department’s “highest priorities.”

Encryption is either secure, or broken. There is nothing between along the lines of "but only we need access".

California considers selling its own generic prescription drugs

Found on Ars Technica on Friday, 10 January 2020
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“A trip to the doctor’s office, pharmacy or hospital shouldn’t cost a month’s pay,” Newsom said in a statement. “The cost of healthcare is just too damn high, and California is fighting back.”

A plan for California to sell its own drugs would “take the power out of the hands of greedy pharmaceutical companies,” Newsom said, according to the Associated Press.

Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy group Health Access California, told the Associated Press that “Consumers would directly benefit if California contracted on its own to manufacture much-needed generic medications like insulin—a drug that has been around for a century yet the price has gone up over tenfold in the last few decades.”

This should be the general approach. Pharma companies have raised prices for important meds in the past, just because they can.