Category Archives: Readings

Errata: In-game Nuke Disarmament,VR, Toy Hack, Smart TV hack, Trump & Heller

Ars TechnicaThe worldwide effort to disarm Metal Gear Solid V’s nuclear weapons – ‘As Konami recently officially announced, a “secret nuclear disarmament event” will be triggered for all players only when “All nuclear weapons on the regional server corresponding to your console or platform must have been dismantled. In other words, the amount of nukes on your platform’s server must be equal to 0.”‘ – This is going to be fascinating to watch play out – principle-driven or benefit-driven disarmament leaving parties at a tactical disadvantage, and how that’ll affect gameplay. Factions already rising.

Motherboard One of the Largest Hacks Yet Exposes Data on Hundreds of Thousands of Kids – “The personal information of almost 5 million parents and more than 200,000 kids was exposed earlier this month after a hacker broke into the servers of a Chinese company that sells kids toys and gadgets…” – Why you should rethink buying your kid internet-connected toys (they almost invariably require giving up personal information). Info included headshots of kids as well as their chat logs. Good god.

Motherboard Real Drugs, Virtual Reality: Meet the Psychonauts Tripping in the Rift – ‘ “Soon after dosing I had forgotten that I had the Rift on. The simulation was a grasslike landscape but I was too tripped out to actually walk around using the controller. I was sitting in my desk chair which has rubbery armrests. At some point I started to think I was a rabbit bunny thing, and started biting the rubbery armrests of my chair like a maniac thinking it was a carrot.”’

MotherboardSex Ed in VR Can Prepare Young Women for Actual Sex – “Using Oculus technology, users would enter dozens of lifelike scenarios to role-play consent, proper contraception use and other components of safe sex from a first-person perspective.”

Universe TodayEarth May Be “Hairy” with Dark Matter – “Prézeau used computer simulations to discover that when dark matter stream passes through a planet — dark matter passes right through us unlike ordinary matter — it’s focused into an ultra-dense filament or hair. Not a solo strand but a luxuriant crop bushy as a brewer’s beard.” – I always knew the universe approved of my beard. Now I have proof.

Security LedgerRansomware Works on Smart TVs, Too!Spent a chunk of this weekend (in a Manhattan hotel) pondering Smart TVs as a platform to eavesdrop on people using insecure hotel wifi and pass on infections. More to come later – maybe in fiction, maybe just pondering.

Finally, was reading the fantastic comic Transmetropolitan in some downtime and was reminded of just how much Ellis foresaw Trump and his fans through the guise of Bob Heller:



Errata: iPhone hack bounty, Unclaimed Dead, Fire Ant Swarms, Nanoparticles, Cancer-killing Viruses, more

Million-dollar bounty paid out for iPhone hack.

Fascinating article from the Journal of Forensic Sciences: “Who are the Unclaimed Dead?

Fascinating Motherboard article on the liquid properties of fire ant swarms.

Emergent Futures relaying studies on the neurological aspects of mystical and mysterious experiences.

The runaway billion-dollar JLENS blimp was finally downed thanks to hundreds of shotgun blasts from Pennsylvania police.

Engadget: HTC has begun refusing to offer guidance on its corporate future. Also, Seattle cop who developed transparency-oriented software has left the force, apparently due to departmental politics.

Also Engadget: how medicine-covered nanoparticles could help stroke victims.

Ars Technica on cancer-killing viruses.

Errata from today

Great few days of random stuff on the internet. A gourmet sampling for you:

Great Salon piece by Mary Elizabeth Williams on the new Star Wars film showing an aged Carrie Fisher as an aged Princess Leia, and how much of a departure that is for Hollywood.

The most breathtaking moment in the new trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” trailer doesn’t involve explosions or lightsabers or ominous references to the Dark Side. It’s an eyeblink-long shot of Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, in the embrace of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. It’s a moment of a weary-looking woman with graying hair and lines on her face. Holy science fiction, Hollywood — somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, a grown woman has been given permission to look like a grown woman. I want to go to that planet!

Lots more quotable passages in that piece, but go read it yourself.

That porn playing over the PA systems in Target? Was a result of both a technological and personnel weakness where pranksters called stores and requested a specific extension that gave them complete control over the PA remotely.

Insecure wifi-enabled tea kettles allow researchers to crack the password of the networks they’re connected to.

A hummus joint in Israel is offering a 50% discount to tables with Arabs and Jews sitting together.

Incredible TEDtalk by Martin Pistorius on his experience with locked-in syndrome. His early experiences are as close to hell as I can imagine. Tremendous respect for the person he is.

And via Jamie Ford’s facebook, “Ursula K. Le Guin’s reaction, when asked to blurb a short story collection with no female authors.”


Security and Technology Briefs: St. Louis Fed, Blood and Texts, Another Mobile Study

Brian Krebs on a DNS breach at the St. Louis Fed.

Robert Lenne shares on twitter one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while – if you donate blood in Sweden, the county council will text you when it’s used.

Motherboard explaining a remarkably low-tech attack trying to steal the bitcoins of Agora Marketplace users through spam messages.

Ars Technica on the (well-known but necessary to repeat) fact that even VPNs don’t keep you well-secured if you insist on using open wifi networks. Also Ars on how the OPM hack just got much worse.

Bruce Schneier with an excellent essay on Reassessing Airport Security and a bit on Duqu 2.0, the newest state-sponsored cyber attack.

Technology Review relays How Mobile Phone Data Reveals The True Toll Of Mass Layoffs:

These people made fewer calls, called a smaller percentage of their original network of contacts and traveled shorter distances.

Errata: Handwriting Style ID, Future Everything, Hersh is Nuts, Baltimore & Racism

The fantastic Social-Engineer.Org podcast had a fantastic recent episode on identifying people by way of their writing style on the internet. (audio at link)

On another security note, The Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast recently had Bruce Schneier on the program. (audio)

A few great videos from FutureEverything 2015:
Warren Ellis on Haunted Machines
Haunted Machines panel with Ingrid Burrington, Joanne McNeil, Warren Ellis and Tobias Revell
Ellis’ closing talk, Some Bleak Circus.

The Guardian ran a great story on a Department of Energy worker who tried to sell a classified list of email addresses, tried to spear-phish DoE computers, and offered to spill the beans on highly classified projects for $100,000. (article)

Here’s a great Vox takedown of Seymour Hersh’s new book/LRB article about the killing of Osama Bin Laden. (article)

The New York Times on How Racism Doomed Baltimore. (article)

Mother Jones reports: Multimillionaire Carly Fiorina Took 4 Years to Pay Staffers From Her Last Campaign. (article)

Andrew W.K. in the Village Voice on depression – incredible piece of writing, and really important to read even if you don’t experience depression. Someone you love likely does and this may provide some perspective.

Errata: Horrible Greenlight Game, Creator Economy, AI shenanigans, etc

Moving ‘Errata’ posts to a once-a-week thing, I think.

From gaygamer comes news about an incredibly horrible game allowed to find its way on gaming platform Steam’s “Greenlight” system. (article)

Paul Saffo’s SALT talk on the Creator Economy. (Video and audio at link)

Stephen Colbert has partnered with Share Fair Nation and ScanSource to fund every single teacher grant request in South Carolina. (article)

Motherboard on a new thought experiment: could a superintelligent AI freely manipulate humans interacting with it to its own ends? (article)

Also from Motherboard, a researcher has put together what looks to be a fairly comprehensive record of all arrests related to dark web market activity. (article)

Master combination locks have seemed pretty shoddy security for a long time, but a new exploit allows you to crack many combinations in eight tries or less. (article)

A great episode of the Lawfare podcast in which editor Ben White delivers a talk on “The Future of Violence.” (audio at link)

–This feels like a low-tech companion to the points about technology-centric existential threats that Bill Joy worries about. Going to have to pick up White’s new book, written with Gabriela Blum, ASAP. podcast episode with Deviant Ollam on his physical security shenanigans.

And via twitter, a Macedonian protester using a riot shield as a mirror to reapply her lipstick:


Errata: More F35 Problems, Going Supernova and Election Journalism

Bloomberg on United Technologies F35 jet engines being unreliable, according to the GAO. Yet another problem with the F35 – the scope of missteps and overruns for this project continues to amaze me.

YouTube video from “Talks At Google” of a panel run by Molly Lavik regarding her book Going Supernova: The Bold Paths of 101 Superachievers. The panel goes deep into personal stories as well as offering practical advice, and I’ll be kicking around the content in my head for a while to come. Highly recommended, very worth an hour of your time.

Via $abi:


Cecily Strong killed it

Errata: Thiel on Innovation, Greek/EU talk, Goebbels Family Wants Royalties, You Don’t Own Your Car?

Tyler Cowen has begun a series of conversations with thinkers and doers; this conversation with Peter Thiel is pretty fascinating, and worth watching despite the fact that I have vast, huge disagreements with Thiel. (YouTube, 80mins)

Great talk by and with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis at Brookings themed on austerity, trust and the Greek/EU crisis. (Video and audio at link, 75mins, MP3 here)

Techdirt: Estate Of Joseph Goebbels Using Copyright To Demand Cash From New Biographergeeeeeez… (Article)

Exceedingly scary Wired article on how John Deere and GM are arguing that car owners don’t own their cars, they only have a license to operate the car for the period of the car’s life – due to the software in the vehicle. (Article)

Errata: Ellis on Murder, Oliver on Snowden, Liberalism, Passwords, Linux lockscreen

Great, short video of Warren Ellis talking about murder. The Original Series: Warren Ellis on Murder (YouTube, 4mins)

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver did a fantastic piece on Edward Snowden and NSA spying this week, layering the discussion upon the common denominator framework of dick pics. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver: Government Surveillance (YouTube, 33mins)

I am as liberal as the day is long but it’s always good to check myself, challenge where I’m coming from at micro and macro levels. In that spirit, NPR’s recent Intelligence Squared Debate is excellent and important listening. Do Liberals Stifle Intellectual Diversity On The College Campus? (NPR site w/ MP3 download, 50mins)

French TV network TV5Monde was “hacked by ISIS sympathizers” through the sophisticated means of having broadcast an interview with all TV5’s social media passwords in the background. (Article)

Linux computers running GNOME are subject to a CVE in which the screen lock can be bypassed to a terminal. (Article)

We’ll end with my ideal desk setup:


(Traffic monitoring system in I-Forget-What-City. Have totally forgotten where I grabbed this image.)