Linux Voice’s Ben Everard explains bitcoin. It’s an editorially neutral, technical explanation, but if you are bit-curious about the mechanics of the scam* or want to better understand what all the fuss is about, it’s worth a read. A nugget:

The only real difference between Bitcoin and a national currency is that national currencies are backed by governments, whereas Bitcoins aren’t really backed by anyone other than the miners. Whether or not this is a good thing depends entirely on your economic philosophy. On the positive side, no one can print excessive amounts of money leading to excessive inflation (like the German government did following World War One). On the negative side, there is no one to step in and help stabilise it should things start to go wrong (for example, the various governments that printed more money to help ease the cash flow crisis in the ‘Credit Crunch’).

_________________

*I don’t mind editorializing, in case you haven’t noticed.

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20 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The Zuckerborg continues to assimilate.

Beginning this fall, when Facebook users watch a TV show on a cellphone or tablet, Facebook will probably know about it. The social network will scan its databases and send the age and gender of the viewer to Nielsen, the TV ratings measurement company, to help advertisers learn more about the audience watching shows online.

The story goes on to explain that Nielson and Facebook say your privacy will be respected, you have nothing to worry about, oh, not at all, oh no indeedy-not.

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18 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

See DashCon’s official statement, claiming that, no indeedy-do, nothing like that happened.

Aside:

All I know about Tumblr is that it is a very strange internet place where stuff that is worth your while (like, for example, PoliticalProf) is rare indeed.

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18 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

From the ACLU (much more at the link):

Forbes reported last week that the crowdsourced mapping location service Waze is beginning to share bulk location data with government bodies—with Rio de Janeiro since 2013, and soon with the state of Florida. The cycling app Strava is also in talks to begin selling its data to urban planners, and the public-transportation app Moovit is already selling data to multiple cities.

We are not to worry about our privacy, a Waze spokesperson tells us, because the company replaces the names that accompany driving data with an alias.

The problem is, your location history IS your identity.

One of the reasons I use the bike app that I do is that it doesn’t report anything to anybody. It doesn’t require me to join a website to see the results. It doesn’t prompt me to “share” my rides with a bunch of persons who neither care nor need to know about when, where, and how fast I peddle about.

It requires only the permissions it needs to do what it promises to do, and it does that very well.

Many apps make Facebook look like a community of hermits. Be very careful to check the permission when you install an app to your phone. If they look hinky, just say “No.”

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14 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

The great-grandson of Emily Post, continuing in the family business, offers etiquette tips for Facebook.

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This is a minor league version of Cliven Bundy’s using public lands for free–an “app” that allows persons in public parking places to squat on them while auctioning them to the highest bidder. San Francisco has told them to stop, at least for now.

The company’s weasel-worded dissembling arrogant rationale for holding parking spaces hostage is a gem of self-serving hipster rationalization (emphasis added).

The Rome, Italy-based MonkeyParking allowed drivers who score a notoriously hard-to-get parking spot on San Francisco’s streets to sell it for $5, $10, even $20 and then hang out there until the buyer arrives to take their place.

Herrera’s letter was the latest as state and federal lawmakers grapple with new technologies that people can use to privately replace taxis, hotels and even restaurants. Firms in neighboring Silicon Valley often use San Francisco as a testing ground, pushing the boundaries of local authorities who don’t want to quash the booming tech economy.

Herrera also cracked down on two similar smartphone apps that exchange money for parking spaces.

Two weeks ago, Dobrowolny said MonkeyParking doesn’t sell parking spots, but rather convenience, citing freedom of speech. He said people have the right to tell others they’re leaving a parking spot and get paid for it.

This is cyber-theft, or, at best, cyber-kidnapping, holding public property for ransom.

Folks, just because you can do it with computers, that don’t make it right.

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10 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Warning: Unquestionably questionable taste.

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05 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Facebook employee to questioner:


Click for a larger image.

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03 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Moms gone wild.

In related news, Daniel Ruth tees off on “experimentation” in the ZuckerDome. Just read it.

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01 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Learn how to use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do.

It’s not hard; it’s just different.

Tidewater Unix Users Group

What: Monthly TWUUG Meeting.

Who: Everyone in TideWater/Hampton Roads with interest in any/all flavors of Unix/Linux. There are no dues or signup requirements. All are welcome.

Where: Lake Taylor Transitional Care Hospital in Norfolk Training Room. See directions below. (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.

When: 7:30 PM till whenever (usually 9:30ish) on Thursday, July 3.

Directions:
Lake Taylor Hospital
1309 Kempsville Road
Norfolk, Va. 23502 (Map)

Pre-Meeting Dinner at 6:00 PM (separate checks)
Uno Chicago Grill
Virginia Beach Blvd. & Military Highway (Janaf Shopping Center). (Map)

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30 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

I learned about the Digital Attack Map site from Linux Voice. It provides a dynamic “anonymized” graphic of Distributed Denial of Service Attacks. Here’s a screen capture:

Screencapter of dynamicattackmap.com


Click for a larger image.

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29 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Don’t believe your lying eyes.

Via WPVI Philadelphia.

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28 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

You are all guinea pigs in the Zuckerborg.

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26 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff, Mammon

George Smith savages the Uber myth in a Up-Lyfting post revealing the fraud behind the curtain. A nugget (emphasis added):

What’s packaged as disruptive innovation isn’t really that. Uber is just the use of iOS application, the convenience of smartphone and free-lance drivers to evade regulations or costs that others who do the same thing have had to pay.

(snip)

. . . the basic application is the use of technology to flood a service with under-priced amateurs and part-timers trying to earn some extra money in a crippled economy.

Read the rest.

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25 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

No one could have predicted . . . .

A patrolman was summoned to a Seattle high-rise early Sunday morning when a female tenant reported that a drone was hovering outside her window and she was “worried that someone was trying to look in her apartment,” according to a police report.

. . . The building employee told a Seattle Police Department officer that they went outside the building’s main entrance and “observed two males who appeared to be operating the drone. Next to them was a tripod with what appeared to be a video camera.”

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25 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

A good ruling.

In a strong defense of digital age privacy, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that police may not generally search the cellphones of people they arrest without first getting search warrants.

Cellphones are powerful devices unlike anything else police may find on someone they arrest, Chief Justice John Roberts said for the court. Because the phones contain so much information, police must get a warrant before looking through them, Roberts said.

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21 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

. . . so dress appropriately.

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15 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

From Bruce Schneier, pre-eminent computer security expert:

I am regularly asked what is the most surprising thing about the Snowden NSA documents. It’s this: the NSA is not made of magic. Its tools are no different from what we have in our world, it’s just better-funded.

Read the rest.

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15 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

XP is on life-support in the Navy. So is the ability to plan.

Dunn said at a lunch briefing with contractors last month in Norfolk that the Navy is using XP widely throughout the fleet, including in critical weapons systems.

That necessitated a deal with Microsoft to continue getting support for a while.

“Given the scale and scope of Windows XP’s use, the Department has a Custom Support Agreement with Microsoft that provides support for all critical security hotfixes and helps maintain our security posture for both ashore and afloat networks,” the Navy said in an emailed response to a query from The Pilot.

The agreement is good for the next three years and is expected to cost about $3.6 million for the first year, according to the Navy.

Microsoft’s pulling support from XP was hardly a surprise. Indeed, it’s been coming for half a decade.

The article goes on to point out that the Navy isn’t the only outfit that couldn’t see the bus barreling towards it under clear skies in the bright light of the noonday sun. Much of private industry has similar planning skills.

H/T to Susan for calling the article to my attention.

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11 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Geek Stuff

Facebook is a bully place to be.

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