Big tech in the sky

It’s Saturday. Sun is shining. RIP, J. Geils.

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, doesn’t want rich out-of-towners to take it personally, but please go away. Come back later, when all this is over.

Apple and Google are working together on technology to use our phones for contact tracing. It would be a massive personal surveillance program wrapped in technical tricks to ensure privacy. What could possibly go wrong? Security researcher Moxie Marlinspike looks under the hood.

Some are suggesting that covid-19 was appearing in the US as early as December. Not so, says the science. People were getting sick with something in December but whatever it was, it spread and subsided because of existing immunity in the population. If it was the coronavirus it would not have subsided because there is no existing immunity. It would have spread like wildfire and we would have had the peak in January, not April.

The MCAS is cancelled for this year. Graduation requirements will be waived for this year’s students.

And imagine what it would be like being stuck at home without the Internet. The 50 year-old network is holding up fine under massive demand these days. Thank the original designers, one of whom, Vint Cerf, is recovering from covid-19 himself.

Outsider on the inside

It’s Thursday; Boxing Day.

A town brought out its police department to throw snowballs at each other as a way to illustrate the stupidity of an anti-snowball ordinance.

Chuck Turner has died. He was one of a kind and a tireless advocate for his constituents and for civil rights, even after his bribery conviction.

I wouldn’t advise putting your actual critical passwords through this tool but it is fun to see how adding digits, numbers and symbols can make it harder to crack your codes.

Cell phone tracking at some colleges is getting out of hand.

And Kevin Spacey just won’t go away. He’s back, with the Frank Underwood accent again, in a new holiday video.

In the uncanny valley

Friday today. RIP Carl Sagan.

According to Mark Gurman, Apple is working on a plan to use satellites to provide connectivity to its devices.

A headline should entice you to want to read the underlying story. But rarely does it explicitly tell you to do so, as it does here with Ty Burr’s review of Cats. But you should. It’s a great read.

What’s next in the impeachment process? Also, speaking of headlines…

Algorithmic bias is a real thing. Science can certainly help to solve crimes but investigators should be wary of too quickly embracing every new advance. Then again, knee-jerk bans on technology often backfire. When San Francisco banned facial recognition technology it also banned the use of Face ID to unlock the phones it issued to city employees. (Since fixed with an amendment.)

And, another day, another data breech. Facebook this time.

One dataset

You know that you’re being tracked, right? This article, in a series on technology and privacy by the New York Times, illustrates just how easy it is to track you through your phone, using commercially available data.

One search turned up more than a dozen people visiting the Playboy Mansion, some overnight. Without much effort we spotted visitors to the estates of Johnny Depp, Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger, connecting the devices’ owners to the residences indefinitely.

The article also suggests a few ways to protect yourself.