China Goes Back to Work as the Coronavirus Rages On Elsewhere

Found on Wired on Saturday, 28 March 2020
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Three months after the novel coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China appears to have successfully dampened the rate of new infections—even allowing for some fudging in the official numbers. The government of Hubei, the province that is home to Wuhan and bore the brunt of the outbreak, said Tuesday it would remove travel restrictions, allowing residents, except those in Wuhan, to again move freely. In some places, like Shenzhen, the manufacturing hub in the south, and Hangzhou, a tech hot spot on the east coast, residents say restaurants and malls are starting to refill.

It's pretty surprising how fast infections went down again in China.

I Got My File From Clearview AI, and It Freaked Me Out

Found on OneZero on Friday, 27 March 2020
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The Times, not usually an institution prone to hyperbole, wrote that Clearview could “end privacy as we know it.” According to the exposé, the company scrapes public images from the internet. These can come from news articles, public Facebook posts, social media profiles, or multiple other sources. Clearview has apparently slurped up more than 3 billion of these images.

Clearview packages this database into an easy-to-query service (originally called Smartcheckr) and sells it to government agencies, police departments, and a handful of private companies.

Expect your request to take up to two months to process. Be persistent in following up. And remember that once you receive your data, you have the option to demand that Clearview delete it or amend it if you’d like them to do so.

That's exactly why you have to be careful with all the data you put online. At first it might seem unimportant, and nobody but your friends should be interested in your snapshots, but then some company comes in and digs through all that to prepare it for easy stalking.

HPE fixes another SAS SSD death bug: This time, drives will conk out after 40,000 hours of operation

Found on The Register on Thursday, 26 March 2020
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HPE has told customers that four kinds of solid-state drives (SSDs) in its servers and storage systems may experience failure and data loss at 40,000 hours, or 4.5 years, of operation.

If you're getting deja-vu, you're not alone. HPE separately warned of certain SAS SSDs dying after their 32,768th hour of operation in November last year.

Using 15 bits only?

Asterix co-creator Albert Uderzo dies aged 92

Found on The Register on Wednesday, 25 March 2020
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Uderzo and writer Renee Goscinny created Asterix in 1959, with the character first appearing in a children's magazine. Two years later the first standalone Asterix album – Asterix the Gaul – appeared. The pair went on to produce another 25 volumes together, most of them bestsellers that comfortably shifted a million copies.

Asterix is comfortably France's premier popular literary cultural export. It's been filmed 14 times, translated into over 100 languages, turned into at least 40 video games and is the subject of a French theme park. Various sources suggest the books have sold more than 370 million copies.

Uderzo was probably the last great artist who produced comics for everybody. Comics which made all ages laugh in all nations. It's such a huge loss.

Microsoft throttles some Office 365 services to continue to meet demand

Found on ZD Net on Tuesday, 24 March 2020
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On March 16, Microsoft posted to Microsoft 365/Office 365 admin dashboardds a warning about "temporary feature adjustments" that it might take. That warning told customers that Microsoft was "making temporary adjustments to select non-essential capabilities."

Microsoft officials said they will continue to apprise customers of further restrictions and tweaks they will be making to their services to continue to meet demand.

In other words, "the cloud" does not scale as well as marketing always promised.

Coronavirus: Greggs to close all stores to prevent spread

Found on BBC News on Monday, 23 March 2020
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McDonalds, Nando's, KFC, Costa Coffee, Subway and Pizza Express have already announced similar measures.

McDonald's had earlier said it would close all 1,270 of its restaurants in the UK by the end of the day, affecting 135,000 workers.

While it does help to fight Covid-19, it also helps a lot to fight obesity and similar diseases based on fatty and unhealty food.

Locked-Down Lawyers Warned Alexa Is Hearing Confidential Calls

Found on Bloomberg on Sunday, 22 March 2020
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As law firms urge attorneys to work from home during the global pandemic, their employees’ confidential phone calls with clients run the risk of being heard by Amazon.com Inc. and Google.

Mishcon’s warning covers any kind of visual or voice enabled device, like Amazon and Google’s speakers. But video products such as Ring, which is also owned by Amazon, and even baby monitors and closed-circuit TVs, are also a concern, said Mishcon de Reya partner Joe Hancock, who also heads the firm’s cybersecurity efforts.

“Perhaps we’re being slightly paranoid but we need to have a lot of trust in these organizations and these devices,” Hancock said. “We’d rather not take those risks.”

Trust? There is no reason to trust these devices at all, given their histories which include letting people listen to private recordings for speech analysis.

Ransomware Gangs to Stop Attacking Health Orgs During Pandemic

Found on Bleeping Computer on Saturday, 21 March 2020
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Some Ransomware operators have stated that they will no longer target health and medical organizations during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While this help is greatly appreciated, I hope other ransomware operators will stop targeting healthcare organizations after reading this article so that it is not needed.

It's probably less about being nice guys, but more about being concerned they might end up in an attacked hospital themselves, unable to get the proper care to survive.

Firefox to remove support for the FTP protocol

Found on ZD Net on Friday, 20 March 2020
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Mozilla has announced plans today to remove support for the FTP protocol from Firefox. Going forward, users won't be able to download files via the FTP protocol and view the content of FTP links/folders inside the Firefox browser.

"We're doing this for security reasons," said Michal Novotny, a software engineer at the Mozilla Corporation, the company behind the Firefox browser.

"Security reasons". That's like the "terrorism" or "child abuse" argument politicians use to justify snooping. Public FTP is in not way less secure than public HTTP. Oh wait, they are trying to force everything to HTTPS too for various reasons; even where it makes no sense at all. So now people who need FTP are looking for replacement software, and quite a few of them will end up with shady adware based programs that make the entire system less secure.

We love open source, but not enough to share code for our own app, says GitHub

Found on The Register on Thursday, 19 March 2020
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The GitHub app however is aimed at all the other things developers do, such as raising or commenting on issues, approving pull requests (requests to merge new code), and responding to notifications such as @mentions.

In an interview, Nystrom and GitHub designer Brian Lovin explained how they mocked up a design for one platform and had the team on the other platform replicate it with appropriate adjustments. The downside of the approach is that the app works differently from visiting the GitHub website with a mobile browser, meaning more to learn.

Sooner or later GitHub will go fully closed-source.