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Why we should ban facial recognition technology everywhere

20 octobre[ —]

In the wake of Berkeley joining the growing list of cities that ban the use of facial recognition by governments, RIT philosophy prof Evan Selinger and Northeastern law/comp sci prof Woodrow Hartzog make the case in the New York Times for a nationwide ban on facial recognition technology.

The authors raise three arguments: first, that "notice and choice" has been a failure ("to opt out simply stay indoors!"); second, that facial recognition fears are technophobic overreactions, and finally, that facial recognition is uniquely powerful and dangerous and needs a regulatory framework separate from other privacy rules ("to opt out, just don't have a face").

I like the first and third argument, but I think their second one -- that facial recognition will eventually lead to our innermost thoughts and emotions being revealed to giant, surveillant networks -- is far too charitable to the facial recognition industry. The whole field of sentiment analysis, big-5 personality traits, and other putative algorithmic mind-control and mind-reading is built on an edifice of junk science and marketing hype. When you take away the "research" contributed by companies hoping to sell this crap, you find a very thin scientific basis for thinking it works now -- or that it could ever work.

But we believe society can’t wait years for institutions like the Supreme Court to update privacy protections for the digital age. By then, facial recognition infrastructure will be ubiquitous, and exploiting its full potential will seem like a good use of resources. The law singles out specific technologies all the time because they are so exceptional. Automobiles, spyware, medical devices and a host of other technologies have their own specific rules. Airplanes and telecommunications technologies were given their own federal regulatory agencies.

Facial recognition is truly a one-of-a-kind technology — and we should treat it as such. Our faces are central to our identities, online and off, and they are difficult to hide. People look to our faces for insight into our innermost feelings and dispositions. Our faces are also easier to capture than biometricsData concerning the intrinsic physical or behavioral characteristics of an individual. Examples include DNA, fingerprints, retina and iris patterns, voice, face, handwriting, keystroke technique and gait. GlossaryClose X like fingerprints and DNA, which require physical contact or samples. And facial recognition technology is easy to use and accessible, ready to plug into police body cameras and other systems.

We support a wide-ranging ban on this powerful technology. But even limited prohibitions on its use in police body cams, D.M.V. databases, public housing and schools would be an important start.

Opinion | What Happens When Employers Can Read Your Facial Expressions? [Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog/New York Times]

(Thanks, Evan!)

Yahoo Groups archivists despair as Verizon blocks their preservation efforts ahead of shutdown

20 octobre[ —]

Since 2010, Nightowl, the "head of the Yahoo Users Crusade," has been leading a preservation effort to scrape and archive the sprawling contents of Yahoo Groups. She writes, "Now we are desperate. We are running out of time to ever save our precious content. Yahoo has never made it easy to rescue it, and has in fact, recently made it increasingly harder and harder. There is no easy way to rescue and save our content."

One site, groupsio, who is run by Mark Fletcher, creator of the original Onelist, is able to do it, but it costs users money, and even if he's paid, he'll never have enough time to rescue everyone's content before Dec 14.

Now we are at a place where it's now or never. We need someone to help us get our plight out to the public, so Verizon and Yahoo will know we are STILL HERE.

Help! They’re about to obliterate us! [Nightowl/Mods and Members Blog]

The Catalan independence movement is being coordinated by an app designed for revolutions

20 octobre[ —]

Tsunami Democràtic is a radical, decentralized wing of the resurgent Catalan independence movement, centered around an anonymously authored app designed to coordinate revolutionary uprisings.

The Tsunami Democràtic app embodies the "be water" motto of the Hong Kong uprising and builds on the Sukey anti-kettling app from the UK's 2011 student protests: it can only be activated by scanning a QR code from an existing member, and once it is activated, it places you in a "cell" with nearby users and shows you actions taking place nearby -- measures designed to both coordinate protests and to limit the exposure when the police get ahold of the app.

The app is a sideloaded Android app and there's no Ios version, meaning that there's no way for either Google or Apple to remove the app from their stores under pressure from Madrid (Apple bans sideloading apps so it's Android-only).

The app was first made available on Oct 14 and in-app messages have promised its first major use tomorrow, on Oct 21. The app's had more than 270,000 downloads.

The app is a fork of an existing tool, Retroshare, and some of its source has been published for inspection. No one is sure whether the fork was created by a team of programmers or a dedicated individual, and without a full code audit, it's impossible to say whether it is either maliciously or accidentally exposing its users.

This is essentially a reworking of the revolutionary tactical doctrine set out by Heinlein in his 1966 science fiction novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (which also served as the inspiration for Ian McDonald's incredible Luna trilogy).

But another theory is also gaining ground. “I think it's a change of strategy of the main groups, which were involved in the first of our referendum two years ago,” says Luján. He believes that Tsunami Democràtic is a proxy group for the larger separatist organisations, and former members of the former Catalan government, currently residing in Brussels after fleeing the country in 2017.

Some Catalan politicians – including president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra; its vice president, Pere Aragonès, and the president of the Parliament, Roger Torrent – have publicly supported the group on social media. Tsunami Democràtic denies any link.

Spain’s interior ministry has expressed the desire to discover who is behind the group and the app, but this will likely be difficult – given it could be set up and run from anywhere in the world.

Catalonia has created a new kind of online activism. Everyone should pay attention [Laurie Clarke/Wired UK]

8 multitools that break the "Swiss Army Knife" mold episode download
20 octobre[ —]

As cool as your smartphone is, it can't do everything. When a job requires a little elbow grease, a multitool is a great thing to have around - and might just save your life in the right situation.

Here's a roundup of some of the latest multitool designs, which have come a long way since the old, fingernail-destroying Swiss Army Knife model.

Geekey Multi-Tool

A lot of multitools fit on your keychain, but this one really blends in. The key-shaped tool incorporates some of the standard tools like a screwdriver and wrenches (standard and metric), but also some unusual ones, like a fully functioning pipe. It's now on sale for a full 58% off the retail price.

The Kelvin 007 Pocket Spinning Tool

A fix-it tool for fidgety types, the Kelvin 007 is a fully functioning zinc alloy spinner with star points that serve as Phillips, flathead and Torx screwdriver bits. Get a pack of two Kelvins now for a 24% discount.

Kelvin.7 Automotive Emergency Multi-Tool

This one is a particular help in any roadside emergency. Any repair job will be easier with its flashlight, hand-crank power generator and magnet array, and the seat belt cutter and window breaker are crucial in case of an accident. The Kelvin 7 is now on sale for 20% off the MSRP.

Kelvin 36: The Urban Super-Tool

The sturdy handle provides a firm base for the many tools on the Kelvin 36. There are no less than 26 hardened CR-V bits, and the screwdriver handle is able to lock at straight or right angles. Use it as a liquid level, corkscrew, hammer or much more. Pick one up now for more than 15% off the list price.

1TAC Wallet Multi-Tool

This tiny tool may be wallet-sized, but it's tough. Made of stainless steel, the iTAC packs a fully functional saw blade, screwdriver, and no less than 5 wrenches. It is now on the market at 16% off the original cost.

Cyclist Card Everyday Carry Multi-Tool

This one is a godsend for cyclists who don't have space for a full toolset. Breakdowns can be solved quickly and easily with its tire pry, hex wrenches, and 41 other tools. (And let's not forget the bottle opener for the end of the ride.) Get yours now for 20% off retail.

KeyBar® Compact Key Holder Multi-Tool & Organizer

Think of this one as a multitool for your keys. This titanium fob includes screws you can use to fasten up to 12 keys, making them instantly accessible and compact with no more pocket jingle or tangle. The KeyBar is now on sale for a 25% discount.

EverRatchet Ratcheting Keychain Multi-Tool

This palm-sized gadget has one major innovation beyond its 7 wrenches, wire stripper and other standard but useful functions: A ratchet. The EverRatchet makes short work of screws with up to 20 pounds of torque behind every turn. Get yours now for 10% off the list price.

Lemonade is breaking the mold for home and renters insurance

20 octobre[ —]

Whether you own or rent your place, insurance on that home is a necessary hassle - but a new tech-driven company called Lemonade is starting to show that while it might indeed be a necessity, it doesn't have to be a hassle.

Here's the way insurance typically works: You pay premiums and hope an accident never happens. If it does, you enter the purgatory of red tape, trying to pry restitution from a company that has little motivation or ability to pay out your claim.

Lemonade doesn't work that way. Instead, it utilizes a well-built technology platform and intuitive AI to make signup a breeze. If anything, the process of paying out claims is even easier: You answer a few questions, outline your lost or damaged property through video chat, and get satisfaction almost instantly. Lemonade takes a flat fee from your premiums, so there's no motivation for them to stonewall you when it comes time to file a claim. At the end of each year, they'll even turn a portion of the unclaimed money from those premiums to the charity of your choice.

Another great thing about their flat fees? They're super cheap, thanks to Lemonade's low overhead. Fees start at $25 for homeowners' insurance and $5 for renters. Get a quick quote and sign up today.

HALLOWEEN: Most terrifying pumpkin ever

19 octobre[ —]


What a work of art.

There are scary jack-o-lanterns and there are HORRIFYINGLY AWFULLY TERRIFYING ONES.

This is one of those, from PyroDragon.

As the title says, this is a continuation from my original post of this Funkin, since it's now completed.I've decided to call him "SPITHOPS ™", which is short for
"Spookiest Pumpkin In The History Of Pumpkin Spooks ™"

This is carved out of one of those newfangled foam pumpkins.
It makes it a h*ck of a lot easier and WAY less messy.
The animals won't eat it, and you can reuse the same pumpkin design every year!

Pencil: For layout of design
Razor Knife: For cutting through foam.
Special Pumpkin Groove Carving Tool: For grooves that aren't going through the wall entirely
Drill and Bits: For holes in design and in the back for power

Go see the whole making of.

Scariest Pumpkin Carving EVER [Part 2]

Sandy Hook dad to get $450,000 from conspiracy theorist

19 octobre[ —]

Retired professor James Fetzer co-authored the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook." He was found guilty in June of defaming Leonard Pozner. Now, a jury says he must pay nearly half a million dollars in damages.

From NBC News:

A Wisconsin jury Tuesday ordered a conspiracy theorist who claimed the grieving father of a victim of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre had fabricated his son's death certificate to pay the father $450,000.

A judge had ruled in June that James Fetzer, co-author of the book "Nobody Died at Sandy Hook," had defamed Leonard Pozner, father of Noah, 6, the youngest victim of the December 2012 mass shooting, by falsely claiming that Pozner had fabricated copies of his son's death certificate.

Sandy Hook father to receive $450,000 from conspiracy theorist, jury says []

Malware hackers using steganography in WAV audio files to hide malicious code

19 octobre[ —]

Beware the rogue .wav file.

Two reports published in the last few months indicate that authors of malware programs are using an interesting technique in their attacks.

Researchers report the bad guys are applying steganography techniques to hide malicious code inside .WAV audio files.

“The novelty in the two recently-published reports is the use of WAV audio files, not seen abused in malware operations until this year, Catalin Cimpanu at ZDNet reports:

The first of these two new malware campaigns abusing WAV files was reported back in June. Symantec security researchers said they spotted a Russian cyber-espionage group known as Waterbug (or Turla) using WAV files to hide and transfer malicious code from their server to already-infected victims.

The second malware campaign was spotted this month by BlackBerry Cylance. In a report published today and shared with ZDNet last week, Cylance said it saw something similar to what Symantec saw a few months before.

But while the Symantec report described a nation-state cyber-espionage operation, Cylance said they saw the WAV steganography technique being abused in a run-of-the-mill crypto-mining malware operation.

Cylance said this particular threat actor was hiding DLLs inside WAV audio files. Malware already-present on the infected host would download and read the WAV file, extract the DLL bit by bit, and then run it, installing a cryptocurrency miner application named XMRrig.

Josh Lemos, VP of Research and Intelligence at BlackBerry Cylance, told ZDNet in an email yesterday that this malware strain using WAV steganography was spotted on both Windows desktop and server instances.

WAV audio files are now being used to hide malicious code

[zdnet via]

How much more black can Barry's Gold Blend be?

19 octobre[ —]

Barry's Gold Blend is my favorite everyday black tea.

A few weeks ago I was drinking PG Tips 'Extra Strong' as my beloved Barry's is not available at any local markets. Today I was organizing my VW Vanagon's kitchen storage and came across a box of Barry's I had forgotten in July.


It is like how much more black could Barry's Gold Blend be? The answer is none. None more black.

Barry's Gold Blend gets better the longer you leave the tea bag in. Eventually, the liquid becomes a sludge-like slurry of existential dread and water. You can drink it, however, it is not pure evil.

This tea leaves lines and stains in every mug I drink it from, unless the mug is already black or at the very least a dark blue. You may want to buy some baking soda to scrub your mugs out as well.

I was fine drinking the PG Tips, but I am just happy as can be to have Barry's back. I will return to keeping a spare box on hand.

Barry's Tea Gold Blend 80 Count 2-Pack via Amazon

More about Barry's Tea on Boing Boing.

Burbank! Come to an emergency City Hall meeting on 10/29 to deal with the city's eviction crisis!

19 octobre[ —]

On Jan 1, 2020, AB1482 comes into effect, capping rents at their rates as of March 15, 2019 plus an above-inflation; in response, the state's greediest landlords are evicting their tenants, either by raising their rents to levels they can't afford to pay between now and Jan 1, forcing them out, or by staging "no cause" evictions in cities that permit them. If those tenants are gone on Jan 1, the landlords can set a new rent floor that ignores the rates as of last March.

California's largest landlords are private equity firms that took advantage of the foreclosure epidemic after the 2008 crisis to acquire thousands and thousands of homes, where they have slashed maintenance and jacked up rents, creating a new epidemic of homelessness.

The other large cohort of California landlords are Real Estate Investment Trusts that are the primary vehicle for offshore oligarchs who want to launder their money.

Burbank -- where I live -- has lax and difficult-to-invoke protections for tenants, permitting landlords to stage "no-cause evictions" for tenants regardless of whether they pay their rent on time and look after their homes. At a City Hall meeting on the issue that I attended last week, I ran into one of my daughter's babysitters and her neighbors: their apartment building had changed hands and the next day, the new landlord -- an anonymous LLC -- had served every single tenant with eviction notices, including families with small children (one mother showed me an envelope addressed to her young son that had personally notified him that he was being evicted). These tenants -- elderly people, families, and so on -- have been paying their former landlord's mortgage and fattening his bank account for decades (my friend had lived in the building for 18 years!), and now they were being put out on the street -- forced to find new home far from their jobs, schools, and support networks.

Nearby cities like Glendale have passed local ordinances to protect tenants from evictions in the leadup to January 1. Burbank has not.

The Burbank Tenants' Rights Committee (previously) has been on top of this, and they've gotten Burbank City Council to put an emergency measure on the agenda at a council meeting on October 26, starting at 6PM. Attendees are allowed to speak. I plan on being there and speaking.

Burbank's City Hall is a magnificent art deco WPA building at 275 E Olive Avenue, filled with incredible murals and the council chamber is particularly gorgeous. It's a temple to solidarity and good governance, and on October 26, Burbankers of good will will gather there to ask our city government to protect our neighbors from rapacious, greedy conduct on the part of landlords who don't just want to get their mortgages paid and their bank accounts fed by their tenants -- they want to squeeze the city's residents for everything they can get and more.

I'm a Burbank home owner and what attracted me to this city was the grotesque spectacle of London being turned into a parade of empty luxury flats built as safe deposit boxes in the sky, chasing out working people as housing was converted from a human right to an asset, whose "value" needed to be inflated at all costs.

Join us again to ask City Council for an interim emergency ordinance to protect Burbank renters from no-cause evictions. New California law AB 1482 does not take effect until January 1, so Burbank renters are vulnerable until then.

We're ON THE AGENDA this time – standing up for what's right is WORKING. So bring your family, friends, and neighbors – the more that show up, the better chance we'll have to protect our most at-risk tenants.

IMPORTANT: If you have received an eviction notice or large rent increase, city council needs to hear from you. Please send a photo of the notice to and come to this meeting to make a comment.

Burbank Tenants’ Rights Committee

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