One More Time: Facebook Tracks Everyone

May 27th, 2016

2011: Facebook Is Building Shadow Profiles of Non-Users

Countermeasures, EasyPrivacy:

EasyPrivacy is an optional supplementary filter list that completely removes all forms of tracking from the internet, including web bugs, tracking scripts and information collectors, thereby protecting your personal data.

Via: Gizmodo:

There is no escaping Facebook’s advertising reach. The social network has announced that it will now be foisting ads on to every single person who uses third-party sites that are signed up to its advertising scheme, regardless of whether the user has a Facebook account or not.

Until now, Facebook showed ads only to its members when people landed on third-party sites that were signed up to its Audience Network ad system. That meant that it only ever bothered tracking what Facebook users did, in order to learn about them and better target advertising.

Now, though, reports the Wall Street Journal, it will use the same techniques—largely plug-in and cookies, but also Like buttons too— in order to track what everyone does when visiting those web pages. Andrew Bosworth, vice president of Facebook’s ads and business platform, explained to the Journal:

“Our buttons and plugins send over basic information about users’ browsing sessions. For non-Facebook members, previously we didn’t use it. Now we’ll use it to better understand how to target those people.”

MIT: Gravity Assisted Flow Battery

May 27th, 2016

Definitely not coming soon, but very interesting.

Via: MIT News:

A new approach to the design of a liquid battery, using a passive, gravity-fed arrangement similar to an old-fashioned hourglass, could offer great advantages due to the system’s low cost and the simplicity of its design and operation, says a team of MIT researchers who have made a demonstration version of the new battery.

Liquid flow batteries — in which the positive and negative electrodes are each in liquid form and separated by a membrane — are not a new concept, and some members of this research team unveiled an earlier concept three years ago. The basic technology can use a variety of chemical formulations, including the same chemical compounds found in today’s lithium-ion batteries. In this case, key components are not solid slabs that remain in place for the life of the battery, but rather tiny particles that can be carried along in a liquid slurry. Increasing storage capacity simply requires bigger tanks to hold the slurry.

But all previous versions of liquid batteries have relied on complex systems of tanks, valves, and pumps, adding to the cost and providing multiple opportunities for possible leaks and failures.

The new version, which substitutes a simple gravity feed for the pump system, eliminates that complexity. The rate of energy production can be adjusted simply by changing the angle of the device, thus speeding up or slowing down the rate of flow.

Britain: Plans to Create an EU Army ‘Kept Secret’ from Voters

May 27th, 2016

Via: Telegraph:

Plans to move towards the creation of a European army are reportedly being kept secret from British voters until the day after next month’s referendum.

Drawn up by the EU’s foreign policy chief, the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy foresees the formation of new European military and operational structures.

This first step towards an EU army is supported by Germany and other countries, The Times reports.

In 2011, similar proposals were vetoed by Britain, although there were concerns that a loophole could allow nine states to group together to bypass opponents.

In an effort to avoid derailing the Prime Minister’s Remain campaign, the policy plans will not be sent to national governments until the day after Britons vote.

The Fusioneers

May 26th, 2016

Via: Washington Post:

At first glance, the outbuilding attached to Richard Hull’s Richmond home looks like any lean-to built by a retiree with time on his hands: a slap-dash affair with wood that appears salvaged from home projects gone wrong.

But instead of storing a lawnmower and old paint cans, the shed holds a monstrous metal lathe, wall-to-wall shelves overflowing with items such as television transformers and extraterrestrial-looking rocks, and “High Voltage” signs dangling from the ceiling like chandeliers. And, way in the back: Hull’s fully operational nuclear fusion reactor.

I’m nervously checking out the 69-year-old Hull’s fusor, rubbernecking with 43 others, including a handful of high school students accompanied by game-but-baffled parents. We are gathered for the annual meeting of HEAS, which stands for the High Energy Amateur Science group and meets in this shed every year on the first Saturday of October for a day of, in Hull’s words, “anything that has to do with bangs, pops and sizzles.”

Secret Text in Senate Bill Would Give FBI Warrantless Access to Email Records

May 26th, 2016

Just skip the parallel construction.

Via: The Intercept:

A provision snuck into the still-secret text of the Senate’s annual intelligence authorization would give the FBI the ability to demand individuals’ email data and possibly web-surfing history from their service providers without a warrant and in complete secrecy.

If passed, the change would expand the reach of the FBI’s already highly controversial national security letters. The FBI is currently allowed to get certain types of information with NSLs — most commonly, information about the name, address, and call data associated with a phone number or details about a bank account.

Since a 2008 Justice Department legal opinion, the FBI has not been allowed to use NSLs to demand “electronic communication transactional records,” such as email subject lines and other metadata, or URLs visited.

The spy bill passed the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, with the provision in it. The lone no vote came from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who wrote in a statement that one of the bill’s provisions “would allow any FBI field office to demand email records without a court order, a major expansion of federal surveillance powers.”

Wyden did not disclose exactly what the provision would allow, but his spokesperson suggested it might go beyond email records to things like web-surfing histories and other information about online behavior. “Senator Wyden is concerned it could be read that way,” Keith Chu said.

It’s unclear how or when the provision was added, although Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., — the committee’s chairman — and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., have both offered bills in the past that would address what the FBI calls a gap and privacy advocates consider a serious threat to civil liberties.

“At this point, it should go without saying that the information the FBI wants to include in the statue is extremely revealing — URLs, for example, may reveal the content of a website that users have visited, their location, and so on,” Andrew Crocker, staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote in an email to The Intercept.

“And it’s particularly sneaky because this bill is debated behind closed doors,” Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Open Technology Institute, said in an interview.

Special Operations Troops Assaulted Downtown Tampa … All to Thunderous Applause

May 26th, 2016


Via: Washington Post:

On Wednesday, Special Operations troops from more than a dozen countries jumped out of helicopters, rappelled from buildings and expended hundreds of rounds of ammunition as they attempted to rescue the mayor of this Florida city.

The operation was, of course, an exercise, but it was also a public spectacle for a force that has tried desperately to remain in the shadows despite now being at the forefront of America’s wars.

Trump Outlines ‘America First’ Energy Plan: Coal, Oil, Gas

May 26th, 2016

Disclosure: I sell solar power systems in New Zealand.


Ok. Well. Here we go.

Solar and wind are already cheaper in some markets than coal and they are just getting started.

Even in a place like New Zealand, with maximum hostility toward solar, the number of installations keep doubling. The same sort of doubling with solar is happening around the world. Doubling from next to nothing doesn’t amount to much at first. But anyone who knows the one about doubling pennies for a month wouldn’t bet against solar.

Maybe someone close to Trump could let him know about doubling pennies for a month… With this energy plan, he’s essentially choosing to take the million dollar payout up front instead of $10.7 million after 30 days.

Other stories of interest along these lines:

‘It’s the end of energy and transportation as we know it’ – Tony Seba

Solar: “Ignoring the Exponential Growth”

Wikipedia: Growth of Photovoltaics

Via: The Hill:

Donald Trump outlined an energy plan he’s calling “America First” on Thursday, using a speech in North Dakota to promote oil, natural gas and coal for the country’s future.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s plan, which shares its name with his foreign policy platform, is as much about helping the fossil fuel sector as it is about fighting what he called “job-killing” policies from the Obama administration, which he says Democrat Hillary Clinton would only further as president.

It aligns closely with longstanding priorities of Republican policymakers and avoids forgoing GOP orthodoxy like the candidate has done in other policy areas.

“American energy dominance will be declared a strategic, economic and foreign policy goal of the United States,” Trump said in the speech at a petroleum conference in Bismarck, N.D. “It’s about time.”

He said the country needs to better use its fossil fuel stores, resources he said President Obama has locked away.

“We will become and stay totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests,” Trump said.

“At the same time, we will work with our [Persian] Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy,” he said of countries that supply oil to the United States. “We’ll work with them because we have to knock out terrorism.”

He said he’d allow far more oil, gas and coal extraction on federal land and offshore.

Trump’s speech was mostly scripted and read from a prompter, something he does rarely and usually only for policy-focused speeches.

He pledged to save the coal industry, though gave few specifics.

Trump said he would ask TransCanada Corp. to resubmit its application to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline through America’s central states. Obama rejected a permit for the pipeline in November, but Trump said he would approve it if the U.S. gets a share of the Canadian corporation’s profits in return.

“Why not? We’re making it possible. Let’s take a piece of the action for you folks, you know, lower your taxes a little bit more,” he said.

He also briefly mentioned alternative energy sources, like wind and solar power, but said they shouldn’t be promoted at the expense of “other forms of energy that right now are working much better.”

U.S. Military Uses 8-Inch Floppy Disks to Coordinate Nuclear Force Operations

May 25th, 2016

Yes! haha Read data from the 8″ floppies and feed it to the W.O.P.R. at 110 baud:


Trying to ignore the comedy gold for a moment: Reliability of floppies can vary widely. I’ve seen everything from disks being defective out of the box to lasting over a decade or more. Yes, I know that there are beardy weirdies out there who still happily use 1980s floppies on original hardware from that era.

But how does .mil replace floppies when they fail?

Is there an underground bunker somewhere stacked floor to ceiling with vacuum packed containers of ancient floppy disks?

Does .mil buy them off eBay?

Is there a clerk with a Top Secret clearance in charge of forty-year-old floppy disks?

Via: CNBC:

Maybe they use the ’80s flick “War Games” as a training film, too.

The U.S. Defense Department is still using — after several decades — 8-inch floppy disks in a computer system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation’s nuclear forces, a jaw-dropping new report reveals.

The Defense Department’s 1970s-era IBM Series/1 Computer and long-outdated floppy disks handle functions related to intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and tanker support aircraft, according to the new Government Accountability Office report.

The department’s outdated “Strategic Automated Command and Control System” is one of the 10 oldest information technology investments or systems detailed in the sobering GAO report, which calls for a number of federal agencies “to address aging legacy systems.”

The report shows that creaky IT systems are being used to handle important functions related to the nation’s taxpayers, federal prisoners and military veterans, as well as to the U.S. nuclear umbrella.

Apple Explores Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles

May 25th, 2016

Via: Reuters:

Apple Inc is investigating how to charge electric cars, talking to charging station companies and hiring engineers with expertise in the area, according to people familiar with the matter and a review of LinkedIn profiles.

For more than a year, Silicon Valley has been buzzing about Apple’s plan to build an electric car. Now the company appears to be laying the groundwork for the infrastructure and related software crucial to powering such a product.

The moves show Apple responding to a key shortcoming of electric vehicles: “filling up” the batteries. A shortage of public charging stations, and the hours wasted in charging a car, could be an opportunity for Apple, whose simple designs have transformed consumer electronics.

Foxconn Replaces 60,000 Factory Workers with Robots

May 25th, 2016

Via: BBC:

Apple and Samsung supplier Foxconn has reportedly replaced 60,000 factory workers with robots.

One factory has “reduced employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000 thanks to the introduction of robots”, a government official told the South China Morning Post.

Xu Yulian, head of publicity for the Kunshan region, added: “More companies are likely to follow suit.”

China is investing heavily in a robot workforce.

In a statement to the BBC, Foxconn Technology Group confirmed that it was automating “many of the manufacturing tasks associated with our operations” but denied that it meant long-term job losses.

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