Tech

Startups seek to de-anonymize Bitcoin to fight crime

The background to the story is that CoinLab, which incubates Bitcoin-related businesses, sued Mt. Gox in 2013. The firm alleges that Gox chief Mark Karpeles hid a quantity of the cryptocurrency in his own pockets to defraud customers. As a consequence, CoinLab says that it began developing Oden as a way of tracing the blockchain for “bad money movements.”

Oden’s trick is to search through the blockchain for repeated addresses, like the tip jar code for a website. While Bitcoin’s original architecture is designed to obscure each transaction, human nature tends towards laziness. As such, websites like The Pirate Bay used the same code on its front page, presumably to avoid losing repeat donations. But these repetitions also allow third parties to start finding patterns, and from there, understanding behaviors. Add in the use of vanity addresses and it’s not long before tying Bitcoin activity to individuals is, at least theoretically, possible.

(via Startups seek to de-anonymize Bitcoin to fight crime)

It’s amusing to see Bitcoin re-invent all the features of the modern banking system once they figure out why that feature exists in the real banking system.

How The Reddit Debacle Proves Libertarians Wrong

One of the most common libertarian arguments you hear is that we don’t need government regulation to prevent discrimination because bigotry is bad for business and therefore the free market will stop it. Take Rand Paul arguing that “it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant.” Or Reason trying to show that bakeries refusing gay customers take an economic hit for it. It’s a pleasing idea, that businesses will realize that bigotry costs them money and will adjust their business practices accordingly, with no government intervention required.

Well, now we have a perfect experiment to see how well that theory plays out in real life, with Reddit, which is a major corporation and not some two-bit rural bakery refusing to make a cake for a lesbian couple. As Reddit has learned, bigotry is, indeed, bad for business. Maintaining a free space for bigots to organize in is costing Reddit real money, as they have to pay for server space and now can’t even collect ad revenue on the bigoted forums.

But instead of proving the liberation argument right—that bigotry will cost you money and therefore businesses will choose anti-bigotry—the opposite is happening. Reddit is choosing to lose money rather than lose the bigots.

(via How The Reddit Debacle Proves Libertarians Wrong)

Libertarian views on discrimination somehow manage to be equal parts comical and abhorrent. The Reddit debacle is demonstrating this.

Girls Go Geek… Again!

Girls Go Geek… Again!:

Women had started to flock to computer science in the mid-1960s, during the early days of computing, when men were already dominating other technical professions but had yet to dominate the world of computing. For about two decades, the percentages of women who earned Computer Science degrees rose steadily, peaking at 37% in 1984.

The c64 was released in 1982 and marketed almost exclusively to boys. Wargames was released in 1983. Tron in 1982. This seems to match up with the decline of women in computer science.

How ideologues are like Google’s Deep Dream neural networks

like Google’s neural network, we human beings are designed by evolution to find patterns in everything we see and hear; this ability enables us to quickly and efficiently make sense of the world around us. But it can also lead us to find patterns that aren’t there — the proverbial faces we see in the clouds, for example.

Deep Dream shows us what can happen when pattern recognition gets the best of us — like the software, we can conjure elaborate visions out of pretty much nothing at all. That’s how conspiracy theorists look at the world, finding “evidence” of elaborate conspiracies pretty much everywhere they look.

(via Face in a Cloud: How ideologues are like Google’s Deep Dream neural networks | we hunted the mammoth)

Worth a read.

It took Reddit one day to pull down Sony hack data — and a week to remove nude celebrity photos

It took Reddit one day to pull down Sony hack data — and a week to remove nude celebrity photos:

It’s true that Sony does have more legal weight behind it than Jennifer Lawrence would when demanding that hacked material come down. But Reddit’s actions in these two situations — one where it moved quickly, and another where the company dragged its feet — do make one thing unbearably clear: Reddit is a site that values a corporation more than it values women.

That’s a reach. Reddit seems to have done a good job ending “the fappening” as it was called. There are still celeb picture leaks but they have been pushed off reddit and onto the dark web.

I think the NSA story was the tipping point. When JLaws leaked pictures ended up on the net, many started to evaluate privacy with the NSA stories in mind.

Is GamerGate About Media Ethics or Harassing Women? Harassment, the Data Shows

Is GamerGate About Media Ethics or Harassing Women? Harassment, the Data Shows:

analysis by Newsweek found that Twitter users tweeting the hashtag #GamerGate direct negative tweets at critics of the gaming world more than they do at the journalists whose coverage they supposedly want scrutinized.

Data shows that GamerGate is basically attacking feminists. I expect the GG crowd to ignore the data, act as if the people who want the harassment to stop are basically anti-media ethics and continue on their toxic way.

Solar power is growing so fast that older energy companies are trying to stop it

Solar power is growing so fast that older energy companies are trying to stop it:

If the penetration of distributed solar reached as high as 10 percent — an admittedly aggressive scenario — a typical utility in the Southwest could see its earnings drop 5 percent to 13 percent, while a typical utility in the Northeast could see its earnings decline 6 percent to 41 percent. This is similar to what’s happened in Germany, where distributed solar has halved the market value of some utilities.

Right now, the biggest problem is the lack of a smart grid. If we can get a national smart grid we can create micro-markets where individuals can become micro power companies.

Say hello to men who hate NSA spying but blame women for being spied on

Say hello to men who hate NSA spying but blame women for being spied on:

At ground zero of Reddit’s celebrity nude leak, where, as you are reading this, an orgy of men are sharing and ogling and re-sharing and re-ogling, lies this placard:

DO NOT POST ANY INFORMATION, TRUE OR FALSE, ABOUT THE IDENTITY OF THE PERSON(S) LEAKING THESE PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEOS. IF YOU DO THAT YOU WILL BE BANNED FROM THIS SUBREDDIT.

Somewhere in some hotel room is a 20 something actress who is crying because the whole internet saw her naked. And they rush to protect the privacy of the person who hacked into her account.

Tesla Model X, Model 3 will revolutionize the car industry

Tesla Model X, Model 3 will revolutionize the car industry:

The Model X is small potatoes compared to Model 3, though. This car is expected to retail at $30,000, less than half of the price of the current Model S. It will represent a direct attack on the smaller German quality cars of BMW, Audi and Mercedes Benz. If Model X production ramps up aggressively and starts making real inroads in the luxury SUV market, the Model 3 could form the second prong of a dangerous pincer movement aimed at the most lucrative parts of the car industry: high-end SUV models and compact luxury sedans.

I’ve been saying that green-tech will create the world’s first trillionaires. I think that person may be Elon Musk. Tesla just might be a threat to GM, BMW, Toyota, Honda et al in the next decade.

Hundreds of Cities Are Wired With Fiber—But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unused | Motherboard

Hundreds of Cities Are Wired With Fiber—But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unused | Motherboard:

Throughout the country, companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, and Verizon have signed agreements with cities that prohibit local governments from becoming internet service providers and prohibit municipalities from selling or leasing their fiber to local startups who would compete with these huge corporations.

Why Online Games Make Players Act Like Psychopaths

Why Online Games Make Players Act Like Psychopaths:

“Why’d you do that?” I asked. I’ve known JB since were six years old. I’ve never seen him harm anyone. “I don’t know,” he replied. “It was funny.”

This isn’t to say psychopaths are by definition more violent than the rest of us. Violence wouldn’t bother a psychopath, Perkins says, but they might have another incentive to avoid violence: the consequences of getting caught. Most psychopaths are logical people, he says, and understand that actions bring consequences. The threat of repercussions—say, for example, prison—might keep them from acting out.

Amazing article about violence in on line gaming. If you make a world optimized for psychopaths, it is no wonder that psychopaths will thrive in it.

Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds:

the overall problem is one of a culture where instead of seeing women as, you know, people, protagonists of their own stories just like we are of ours, men are taught that women are things to “earn,” to “win.” That if we try hard enough and persist long enough, we’ll get the girl in the end. Like life is a video game and women, like money and status, are just part of the reward we get for doing well. So what happens to nerdy guys who keep finding out that the princess they were promised is always in another castle?

One of the best written articles on misogyny and geek culture. Worth reading.

Drone Battle Over Syria

Drone Battle Over Syria:

It appears the Syrian army is spying on rebel forces using the same drones that consumers can buy for just a couple thousand dollars. And the rebels might be using similar flying robots to spy right back.

Both sides are using cheap drones.

I think it’s just a matter of time when some group uses drones to mount an act of protest or an act of civil disobedience. Drones will be used to monitor everything from police brutality to corporate malfeasance.

Keybase

Keybase:

Keybase will be a public directory of publicly auditable public keys. All paired, for convenience, with unique usernames.

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a while. I’m a big fan of public key systems but I realize just how clumsy it has been to use. Keybase seems to solve this. You can attach your public social network identities to your public keys making it super easy for people to send you secure messages.

Lock-in is making everything worse for everyone.

Lock-in is making everything worse for everyone.:

The battle between Twitter and Facebook has made both products worse and caused weird restrictions to users on both sides, such as the walls both companies have installed between Twitter and Instagram. Twitter is now ultra-paranoid, defensive, aggressive, and full of annoying ads. Facebook’s core product is a mess as it continually tries (and fails) to capture the usage and style of Twitter, while annoying people more and more to keep its ads effective.

Interesting. Starts with commentary on Amazon Prime and points out a trend of favoring lock-in to making products better.

Your 60-Hour Work Week is Not a Badge of Honour

Your 60-Hour Work Week is Not a Badge of Honour:

If you’re working 60 hours a week, something has broken down organizationally. You are doing two people’s jobs. You aren’t telling your boss you’re overworked (or maybe he/she doesn’t care). You are probably a pinch point, a bottleneck. You are far less productive. You are frantically swimming against the current, just trying to keep your head above water. These signs? They are not the signs of a healthy business or work environment.

This is basically 80% of the IT industry. About 1/3 of the people working 60 hour weeks are management bottlenecks that provide little to no value to software produced.

How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages

How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages:

The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar (now owned by Disney) are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as “an overarching conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act, and at times it reads like something lifted straight out of the robber baron era that produced those laws.

Wage theft. It isn’t just for burger flippers anymore.

Chinese appliances are shipping with malware-distributing WiFi chips

Chinese appliances are shipping with malware-distributing WiFi chips:

So what are these sneaky Chinese appliances up to? Right now, it looks like they’re only looking for unsuspecting drones to add to someone’s spam-serving army. Once a machine has been compromised, though, it’s possible that those in control would push additional malware to a victim’s machine.

Amazing. 

We the People: Allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states.

We the People: Allow Tesla Motors to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states.

States should not be allowed to prevent Tesla Motors from selling cars directly to customers. The state legislators are trying to unfairly protect automobile dealers in their states from competition. Tesla is providing competition, which is good for consumers.

This is a no brainer. Go and sign it.

Are Chevy Volts Really Cheaper and Cleaner?

Are Chevy Volts Really Cheaper and Cleaner?

Their rate has changed a little bit in the time that they have had the Volt, but on the more expensive plan, they paid $0.0885 for each additional kWh. Using that price, we get $215.67 spent on electricity. That brings us to a grand total of $301.62 for the 10,102 miles they drove, or three cents per mile. For comparison, with an estimate of $3.50/gallon gas, a 2012 Prius that gets 50 miles per gallon costs seven cents per mile, and my 2004 Saturn station wagon costs 14 cents per mile on a good day.

Three cents per gallon makes my prius look like a gas guzzler.

The free market created AOL. Public research dollars created the internet. If you think any government spending is socialism get off the internet and go back to AOL.

The myth of the libertarian Internet.

The myth of the libertarian Internet.

Imagine a world in which airplane technology was advancing rapidly but digital communications technology was stagnating. I think libertarians would have a ready explaination. Aviation, though hardly unregulated, is supervised by the government for basic safety of operations and then firms and inventors are allowed to roam freely. The Internet, by contrast, is a cesspool of government intervention. Rather than founded on the independent spirit of the Wright Brothers, the Internet is literally the bastard offspring of a government civil defense program and European physics research consortium. The Internet consists of a bunch of wires that need to be run underground, generally under city streets, ensuring that construction can only happen with the cooperation of local political officials. The cable and telephone companies who provide access are regulated by both state and federal governments, often with inconsistent and overlapping schemes.

Yglesias exposes the libertarian tactic of pointing to success and chanting capitalism and pointing to failure and chanting Da-Gubment! with little concern about details.

In fact, in a bizarre twist, the Pauls seem to be supporting massive government subsidies and handouts in this document, even as they insist they're not.

In fact, in a bizarre twist, the Pauls seem to be supporting massive government subsidies and handouts in this document, even as they insist they're not.
Ron And Rand Paul: Net Neutrality And The Public Domain Are Really Evil Collectivist Plots - No surprise they think that net neutrality is bad; Ron Paul and Rand Paul know that a free and open internet are the worst things for corporatist authoritarians like themselves. (via ron-paul)

Surface and Nexus 7 validate Apple design philosophy

And you can add the Nook and the Kindle to that list too.

Basically, in the next decade the entire industry will switch from an OS Vendor/OEM manufacture model to one where software companies are tightly coupled to hardware manufacturing processes to create devices that are tightly integrated. The App Store, Google Play and whatever MS uses will also tightly integrate into the platform.

The PC era is over. Apple’s design philosophy has won.

Google simulates the human brain with 1000 machines, 16000 cores and a love of cats

Google simulates the human brain with 1000 machines, 16000 cores and a love of cats

Mountain view’s secret lab stitched together 1,000 computers totaling 16,000 cores to form a neural network with over 1 billion connections, and sent it to YouTube looking for cats.

This might make it easier to find videos of cats on YouTube. About time.

Tesla CEO tweets that crash testing is complete, Model S production ready to roll

Tesla CEO tweets that crash testing is complete, Model S production ready to roll

CEO Elon Musk has triumphantly tweeted (it was a busy night) that the car has passed all crash testing for a five star rating. The upshot, other than assuring prospective owners of their safety even if their limited edition ride gets dinged, is that cars can be built for sale and the first customer deliveries are scheduled for June 22nd — just ahead of the original July projections.

I’ve only seen a few Tesla Roadsters on the road out here and can’t wait to see the first S in the wild.

Fridge makers were required to do what they claimed was impossible: Create a refrigerator that does not kill children. They put their best minds to the task, because they had to, and came up with an incredible invention called a "magnet." Turns out if you line the door with magnets, the door stays closed and dumb little kids can get out if they need to. Go fig. By the way, no child in the United States has died from suffocating in a fridge designed after the Refrigerator Safety Act was passed. Not bad for impossible.

Fridge makers were required to do what they claimed was impossible: Create a refrigerator that does not kill children. They put their best minds to the task, because they had to, and came up with an incredible invention called a "magnet." Turns out if you line the door with magnets, the door stays closed and dumb little kids can get out if they need to. Go fig. By the way, no child in the United States has died from suffocating in a fridge designed after the Refrigerator Safety Act was passed. Not bad for impossible.
No Innovation Until We Run Out of Energy | Underwire | Wired.com

Hannibal Gadhafi-son of the assassinated Libyan dictator-built a ship with a 120-ton sea water aquarium inside. Why? To put six sharks inside, including two bull sharks and two whites, the most dangerous in the world.

Hannibal Gadhafi-son of the assassinated Libyan dictator-built a ship with a 120-ton sea water aquarium inside. Why? To put six sharks inside, including two bull sharks and two whites, the most dangerous in the world.

Gadhafi’s Son Built a Ship With Deadly Shark Tank Inside | Danger Room | Wired.com

Did they have freaking lasers on their heads?

2011: The Year Intellectual Property Trumped Civil Liberties

2011: The Year Intellectual Property Trumped Civil Liberties

"This dichotomy played itself out over and again in 2011, as lawmakers - Democrats and Republicans alike - turned a blind eye to important civil liberties issues, including Patriot Act reform, and instead paid heed to the content industry's desires to stop piracy."

Interesting article, worth a read.

Congress Is About to Make It Legal to Robocall Your Cell Phone; Here's How to Speak Up Against It

Congress Is About to Make It Legal to Robocall Your Cell Phone; Here's How to Speak Up Against It

Since 1991, mobile phone numbers have been excluded from telemarketers’ lists, political campaigners, and other unwanted, unsolicited phone marketers. Now, there’s a bill in the US House of Representatives to change all of that-one that opens the doors to a new era of political robocalling right to your mobile phone. Here’s how to tell Congress that you want no part of it.

Games in Google+: fun that fits your schedule

Today we're adding games to Google+. With the Google+ project, we want to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to the web. But sharing is about more than just conversations. The experiences we have together are just as important to our relationships. We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life.

That means giving you control over when you see games, how you play them and with whom you share your experiences. Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don't.

From Games in Google+: fun that fits your schedule


So when will they have an API?

Draft Horses Used To Lay Fiber-Optic Cable

"In Vermont, FairPoint Communications has enlisted draft horses to help lay fiber-optic cable in remote locations. Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has pledged to bring bring broadband to every last mile by 2013, including many remote areas that have been neglected in the past. Private companies have been unwilling to invest in the expensive infrastructure needed to reach these areas. However, Vermont’s congressional delegation helped to secure $410 million in federal money earmarked for broadband development and Vermont has partnered with private companies, like FairPoint, to bring high-speed Internet access to all Vermonters.


From Slashdot


Amazing.

VB6 to rise from dead as Open Source to eat brains of new generation of programmers

“Microsoft told a group of MVPs today at Tech-Ed that it plans to take Visual Basic 6 open source and will release the source code on CodePlex. A source at the event said that Microsoft is planning to release only the VB6 language on codeplex - not Visual Studio or related tools.”

From VB6 to rise from dead as Open Source to eat brains of new generation of programmers


That should have been the headline. VB is awful. Basic is a relic of the 70s and has no place as a programming language, not even as an introductory language.

The XL1 shows what is feasible. It has a range of more than 1,000 km on just one 10-liter tank of fuel - the equivalent of 621 miles on 2.6 gallons. Extensive use of carbon fiber and other lightweight materials means it is extremely light, weighing just 1,749 lbs. Yet that same material - carbon fiber - ensures the safety cell is remarkably strong, creating a safe vehicle. The lithium-ion battery provides a range of up to 35 kilometers, about 22 miles, in pure electric mode - that is, with zero tailpipe emissions. Yet despite its efficiency and sustainability, the XL1 is fun to drive.