Technology

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

William Gibson got some of it right.

William Gibson got some of it right.

William Gibson’s vision of a dystopic future, where corporations have become the new governments and freelance hackers jack into the net with immersive computer systems, set the tone for the cyberpunk movement. Unfortunately, we still don’t have our “deck” to jack into the net, we’re still using the same (if highly upgraded) flat displays, keyboards and mice that we did in the ’80s. What we do have are the negative aspects of the novel. For a while, it looked like cyberwarfare was going to be mostly theoretical, and that the largest threats to network security were going to come from individual black-hat hackers. But then groups such as the Russian mafia got into the game, and then nation-states started using cyberwarfare as a tool of sabotage and espionage, and now corporations are resorting to reprisal attacks against entities that attack them. The net is now an active war zone, where hardware comes pre-installed with spook-authored malware designed to destroy centrifuges.

Scary stuff and worth a read.

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

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.


DARPA’s Maple leaf Remote Control drone takes first flight

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.

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.

Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors

Indian typewriter manufacturer Godrej and Boyce stopped production today after 60 years. The company’s general manager, Milind Dukle, says, “We are not getting many orders now. From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us.”


From Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors


Wow, there was still a typewriter factory?

EarthTainer

'The system is called the EarthTainer, and it was developed four years ago by Ray Newstead, an executive at the semiconductor company SMSC. The EarthTainer is a "self-watering container," which isn't a novel concept to most gardeners. It's essentially a big pot with two chambers-the top one, containing soil, is where you put your plants, and the bottom one is where you add water. As you can see in the picture below, the two chambers are connected by a central "wicking basket"; throughcapillary action, water is absorbed from the bottom chamber through the wicking basket and into the top. It's impossible to overwater your plants in the EarthTainer, and it's almost impossible to underwater them, too: You fill it with water every few days, and your plants drink up only as much as they need.'

A123 Systems Charges Into Motorcycle Racing

The Massachusetts firm is teaming up with British electric motorcycle startup Mavizen in a supply-and-distribution deal that will see automotive-grade cells power Mavizen race bikes. It's a big score for the nascent sport of electric motorcycle racing because Mavizen also will supply cells to teams in the TTXGP racing series and other events.

"That's the part of the deal we're really excited about," Chris Tecca, VP of business development at A123 Systems, told Wired.com. "It provides our batteries to the teams."

The deal could lead to better bikes, better racing and, eventually, better batteries.

From Autopia | Wired.com

I see EV mopeds and bikes in Brooklyn all the time. It seems like a race bike would be a logical next step.

A better kind of lightbulb?

This week, the lighting startup company vu1 is beginning to ship a new type of lightbulb that could displace compact fluorescents and LED lamps as the energy-saving bulb of choice. The technology, known as cathodoluminescence or electron-stimulated luminescence (ESL), offers similar energy savings, but provides a more natural quality of light.

From Solar at Home: A better kind of lightbulb?

With luck this will phase out the old incandescents.

Twitter Offers HTTPS Option

The optional HTTPS setting is intended to better protect users who connect to Twitter over Wi-Fi - where hackers can sniff out passwords and hijack user accounts. It comes months after a Firefox add-on called Firesheep that made it trivially easy to temporarily take over the accounts of people using Twitter and Facebook over Wi-Fi.

From Wired.com

About time.

U.S. Has Secret Tools to Force Internet on Dictators

A revamped cargo plane, the Commando Solo beams out psychological operations in AM and FM for radio, and UHF and VHF for TV. Arquilla doesn't want to go into detail how the classified plane could get a denied internet up and running again, but if it flies over a bandwidth-denied area, suddenly your Wi-Fi bars will go back up to full strength.

"We have both satellite- and nonsatellite-based assets that can come in and provide access points to get people back online," Arquilla says. "Some of it is done from ships. You could have a cyber version of pirate radio."


From Danger Room | Wired.com


Wasn’t something like this described in Neuromancer?


Not sure what I think of this. As much as I like the idea of the US providing soft assistance to citizens on the ground, it might not be our place to do this. And it could be abused.

e-ink camo for tanks


BAE Systems, long known for its wargadgets that blind and obfuscate, has recently announced that it is developing an e-ink camouflage system that displays images on the side of a vehicle which reflect the environment — and which change in real time. This is well-suited for areas such as those found in Afghanistan, where terrain can vary from plain ol’ desert beige to a lively and vibrant green, and — provided it doesn’t break down in the desert sand — probably seems a lot more convincing than paint on metal. (We also wonder if this technology will work on cocktail dresses.) The company hopes to have a prototype within four years, while for our part we hope to have our troops out of the region in much less time than that.

From BAE Systems develops e-ink camo for tanks and war zone e-readers

Just call it a cloaking device.

Genius soap dispenser

Soap bars are more efficient than liquid soap dispensers but are also a messy pain in the ass. Enter design student Nathalie Stampfli’s Soap Flakes. It works like a pump dispenser and grates a small amount of soap into your hand when you pump the handle.

Soap Flakes

From Genius soap dispenser

I love this. Simple design.

Arounder 360 Degree Views from around the world

AROUNDER gives travelers a vivid sense of what a city has to offer: historical cathedrals and works of art, museums featuring famous artists, local cafes and stores, breathtaking mountain-top views, quiet parks and gardens. Each issue contains a series of interesting panoramas giving you a full immersive view of the cities. Navigation is easy with Google maps of the city and surrounding area. Every issue also links to local merchants with virtual tours of hotels, restaurants, spas and stores.


From Arounder - Travel and Lifestyle in 360-degree Quicktime VR - Virtual Reality Full Screen panoramas

Many of the images are HDR and that distracts a bit from the images. Other than that, a lot of fun.

First Chrome OS laptop

this is our first actual glimpse of Google’s new unbranded “Cr-48,” the very first Chrome OS laptop. Google will distribute the laptop through its Chrome OS Pilot Program, in a sort of public beta. You actually have to apply to join the program, and there’s going to be a limited number of the laptops available — retail Chrome OS models from Acer and Samsung will be available in the middle of 2011.


From Google unveils Cr-48, the first Chrome OS laptop — Engadget


This might be a netbook game changer. I can imagine a future where laptops, netbooks and even desktops have a web mode where they load a slim OS that is just a browser running in a restricted sandbox.

Wall Street Firm Uses Algorithms to Make Sports Betting Like Stock Trading

Jimmy is operating more like a daytrader than a traditional casino sports bettor, moving in and out of positions on the fly, looking for hedges, capitalizing on fleeting moments of inefficiency. And that is not an accident. Since 2009, the sports book at the M has been run by Cantor Gaming, a division of the Wall Street financial services outfit Cantor Fitzgerald. The resort's new bookmaker openly boasts that it's bringing the pace and style of Wall Street trading to betting on baseball, football, and basketball-and dabbling in everything from horse racing to golf.

From Wired

Worth a read.

Criminals constructing ATM skimmers from DAPs --

A recent article from Brian Krebs highlights a new trend in ATM skimmers: by using parts from cut-rate audio players and spy cams, criminals are able to construct something called an audio skimmer that records the data from the magnetic strip for later playback

From Criminals constructing ATM skimmers from DAPs — Engadget

As William Gibson mentioned in the 1980s: technology, no matter how advanced, almost immediately falls to the level of the street. The street finds its own uses for things.

Amazing Brick Machine Rolls Out Roads Like Carpet

pavestones, brick road, green roads, hardscapes, green infrastructure,

Brick roads are beautiful and durable, but we don't see them too often due to the effort it takes to produce them. What once was a labor-intensive, back-breaking job has now become a snap with this automatic Dutch paver laying machine, called the Tiger-Stone. The device rolls out a beautiful and sustainable hardscape, creating an instant road anywhere it travels. While the process may look magical, the secret lies in a smartly designed gravity-based system.

From Amazing Brick Machine Rolls Out Roads Like Carpet


Amazing.

KERS Comes to Cars as Jaguar Tests Flywheel Hybrid

Kinetic-energy recovery systems didn't fare well in Formula 1, but a bunch of British automotive companies bet the technology will catch on with road cars.

A consortium led by a Jaguar Land Rover is developing a flywheel-hybrid system that it says boosts performance by 60 kilowatts (about 80 horsepower) while improving fuel efficiency 20 percent. The consortium, which includes automakers like Ford and engineering firms like Prodrive, sees a market for flywheel hybrids among luxury automakers.

From KERS Comes to Cars as Jaguar Tests Flywheel Hybrid

Nice to see someone can make use of KERS technology. I was glad to see it go from Formula1.

Is Apple a Victim of Sour Grapes?

People used to say, Apple is crazy, they are making a big mistake, said Paul Saffo, a veteran Silicon Valley technology forecaster. Now they are saying Apple is trying to kill competition.

From Is Apple a Victim of Sour Grapes? - NYTimes.com


I really disagree about this. This isn’t about sour grapes or jealously. These things are never about that. Its about Apple’s decision to limit what their devices can and can not do; after a person has purchased a device with a set of expectations. Its about Apple selling a device with a first class web experience and then purposefully crippling that experience.

Are iPhone users are delusional?

Strand Consult suggests that iPhone users are suffering from a form of Stockholm Syndrome—the condition in which the kidnapped begin to show loyalty to their kidnappers.
iPhone users are delusional, consultants say

We have gone from iPhone glow to iPhone backlash. I expect iPhone nostalgia to start around 2015 with people hacking their first and second generation iPhones to work on 5g networks.