Geek Stuff category archive
If you have been using the Zoom app to work or school from home, or even just to talk with friends, you should know that El Reg reports that it’s even less secure than previously reported. Here’s a snippet from the latest (emphasis added):
Zoom in its documentation, and in an in-app display message, has claimed its conferencing service is “end-to-end encrypted,” meaning that an intermediary, include Zoom itself, cannot intercept and decrypt users’ communications as it moves between the sender and receiver.
When reports emerged that Zoom Meetings are not actually end-to-end encrypted encrypted, Zoom responded that it wasn’t using the commonly accepted definition of the term.
“While we never intended to deceive any of our customers, we recognize that there is a discrepancy between the commonly accepted definition of end-to-end encryption and how we were using it,” the company said in a blog post.
If you have been Zooming, you owe it to yourself to read the rest. Then pick up a landline.
Zoom’s mealy-mouthing is positively staggering.
El Reg reports on the intrusiveness of the Zoom app, which is trending as more and more persons use it to work from home in these viral times. A snippet:
“What makes this extra creepy is that Zoom is in a position to gather plenty of personal data, some of it very intimate (for example with a shrink talking to a patient) without anyone in the conversation knowing about it. (Unless, of course, they see an ad somewhere that looks like it was informed by a private conversation on Zoom.)”
Read the rest, then pick up the landline.
At The Seattle Times, Ev Ehrlich recalls the optimism that accompanied the creation and early growth of the internet, the belief that it would become, in Al Gore’s words, the “information superhighway.” He argues that the reality is less than optimal, if not downright dystopian. A snippet (emphasis added):
The internet has become . . . a profound social nightmare, as these companies (Facebook and Google–ed.) enable the distortion of democracy, perpetuation of hateful propaganda, the theft of intellectual property, racism and anti-Semitism, and the invasion if not the end of personal privacy, all of which redound to the profitability of a few monopolistic giants. And like Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” they are “Shocked!” when what goes on under their auspices is exposed.
El Reg reports that, when it comes to monitoring your health, your smart gadget ain’t so smart. Here’s bit from their story:
ECG (electrocardiogram–ed.) sensors are becoming more widespread, embedded in wearable devices like smartwatches, while machine learning software is being increasingly developed to automatically monitor and process data to tell users about their heartbeats. The US Food and Drug Administration approved 23 algorithms for medical use in 2018 alone.
However, the technology isn’t foolproof. Like all deep learning models, ECG ones are susceptible to adversarial attacks: miscreants can force algorithms to misclassify the data by manipulating it with noise.
The report goes on to point out that, in tests, properly trained real live human beings did better at identifying and discounting said “noise.”
I have never used a “grammar checker” in a word processing program.* (I can diagram my own sentences quite nicely, thank you.)
Turns out my instincts were correct. At the Hartford Courant, Mark McFadden explains that automated computerized grammar checkers don’t.
*I do use spellcheckers, but never the “automatic” ones. Also, do grade schools still teach grammar, or has it gone the way of civics?
Learn about the wonderful world of free and open source. Use computers to do what you want, not what someone else wants you to do. Learn how to use GNU/Linux and its plethora of free and open source software to get stuff done with computers.
It’s not hard; it’s just different.
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 (map). (Wireless and wired internet connection available.) Turn right upon entering, then left at the last corridor and look for the open meeting room.
Gene Geher, an admitted Facebook Frolicker, suggest that “social” media presents us with an “evolutionary mismatch.”
He identifies ten specific problems; follow the link for a brief discussion of each one.
- People can be nasty behind screens.
- Social media creates unhealthy social echo chambers.
- Social media is not for the impulsive at heart.
- Infidelity rates have increased due to social media.
- Social media makes bullying easier.
- Social media creates permanent records—of just about everything.
- Cell phones are truly addicting.
- The natural world is suddenly less interesting than the virtual world is.
- Social estrangements are made too easy on social media.
- People can deceive in the domain of mating* like never before.
*Not just in mating, folks.
We are a society of electronic stupid.
Kari Paul, a reporter for the Guardian U.S., said in a Twitter post that her Gig Car Share vehicle lost cell service Sunday on the side of a mountain near the Mendocino County town of Gualala. When she tried to restart the car with the app, she found she did not have enough cell service to power it.
After Paul says Gig Share suggested that she and her companion sleep in the car overnight on the side of the road, she called for a tow truck “to move us three miles down the road where there is cell service so we can start our car[.] The future is dumb.”
Follow the link. You may find this difficult to imagine, but it gets stupider.
At Science 2.0, Hank Campbell explores the role of “social” media in fomenting untruth and the sometime complicity of journalism in perpetuating the disinformation.
Methinks that “distrust but verify” is a good guideline as regards “social” media.
Judging from the activity of my telly fones, the “Do Not Call List” is thoroughly castrated, so I reckon that my wish for a “Do Not Text List” is a lost cause. But, honest to Betsy, I’m sick of unsigned texts from unknown phones asking me to support/contribute to/vote for this or that pol/cause/campaign.
If they signed their names, I might feel more charitabl–On second thought, no.
Obnoxious and intrusive is obnoxious and intrusive, signed or unsigned.