Because Robots Believe In You!


Wes Frazier, IT Analyst.

A little blag where I post things, often about tech or politics. Sometimes about things I read.

Believe·in·Robots


We Need Regulations To Protect Priacy, Defending It Yourself Is A Lost Cause

When I was diagnosed recently with diabetes, hours within the diagnosis I picked up my first prescription from the pharmacy. As I scanned my little plastic debit card, the prompt changed. The software running the prompt had deduced from my metformin prescription what condition I had, and was asking me if I wanted to donate money today to a fund to help research a cure.

It was then, that I realized half a dozen databases probably knew about my diagnosis before my friends and family did.

I stopped GnuPG signing my emails recently. I had been both digitally signing them and linking to the the Free Software Foundation’s Email Self Defense guide in my email signature. I had been digitally signing my email for two years, as an example and unspoken plea for other technically savvy people I knew to start doing so. So that we could encrypt email and retain privacy.

Between the fact that only one person ever did and the fact that, Google diligently intercepts all emails I send to gmail users and all emails they send to me and still builds email profiles about me, even though I am not a gmail user… it seemed rather pointless. No one is encrypting their email, the people I know with the technical know how don’t care or can’t be bothered.

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Posted by trashHeap on Sun, 2 Aug 2015

DASH

A spoiler free review of Dash # 1-3. Story by Dave Ebersole with art by Delia Gable.

The elevator pitch for Dash reads: “The Maltese Falcon” meets “The Mummy” meets “Raiders of the Lost Ark” through the eyes of an openly gay private detective in 1940.

I have been waiting impatiently for Dash issue #3 to land and scooped it up immediately and after reading the first three issues I think this it is safe to say Dash is something special.

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Posted by trashHeap on Thu, 23 Jul 2015

The Bizarre AGB-X

A number of years ago, I came across an oddity from a Hong Kong gadget shop. It is a rather convincing clone of a Nintendo GBA. However, in lieu of a working link cable port, it ships with with a cable which runs the odd looking port to USB. It mounts as a USB mass storage device in Windows, and can run roms natively OR run games directly off the cartridge.

Interestingly enough save games always save to the internal memory and not the cartridge’s memory.

It has a number of advantages over the the original gameboy advance it is modeled after besides the fact that it can run roms as well as cartridges. It’s backlit. It ships natively with a rechargeable battery and charges off of USB.

I had acquired a USB cartridge dumper for gameboy advance games and had been mucking about with playing them on the GCW Zero, when I decided to dust off this thing.

However bizarrely enough I discovered two things.

1) The odd thing runs GNU/Linux.

2) Being read by modern GNU/Linux systems crashes it hard. However it mounts fine under Windows 7.

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Posted by trashHeap on Mon, 20 Jul 2015

Mozilla's Existential Crisis Is The Web's Existential Crisis

Back in May of this year (2014) Mozilla announced it would be partnering with Adobe to make sure Firefox users would have a way of loading a binary closed source, proprietary EME module. EME, Encrypted Media Extensions are essentially the mechanisms for baking DRM into the web.

This is pretty much the antithesis of Mozilla’s mission statement. Which is why they have been vocal infighting EME’s formal inclusion into HTML as a standard. Even promoting digital watermarking and investing in technology to implement it as a viable alternative.

Mozilla appears to have receded from this position because they viewed themselves as a loosing end of a a battle they fought before.

“If Mozilla didn’t enable the possibility of installing the Adobe Access CDM for use with EME, we’d be in a situation similar to the one we were in when we did not support the H.264 codec in HTML5 video. Instead of moving away from H.264, Web sites still delivered H.264 video to Firefox users—but did it via the NPAPI using Adobe Flash Player or Microsoft Silverlight rather than via the “video” tag.”

source


“We very much want to see a different system. Unfortunately, Mozilla alone cannot change the industry on DRM at this point. In the past Firefox has changed the industry, and we intend to do so again… …We’ve contemplated not implementing the new iteration of DRM due to its flaws. But video is an important aspect of online life, and a browser that doesn’t enable video would itself be deeply flawed as a consumer product. Firefox users would need to use another browser every time they want to watch a controlled video, and that calls into question the usefulness of Firefox as a product.”

source

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Posted by trashHeap on Thu, 21 Aug 2014

On Values, Technology and the Consumer

It shouldn’t come as a surprise the things people make, tend to reflect them. When an author writes a book, there is a little of themselves in the text. When a carpenter builds a table, their pride and attention in detail finds it’s way into the furniture. When a widget is assembled on an assembly line the details of fabrication end up reflecting values of its designers. Where were the parts sourced? What were the labor practices involved? Is it sustainably built? What is its carbon footprint? Did the designers side with price over quality?

Software often has its own sets of values that can be embedded into it. Does the software impose restrictions on the user? Is it hostile? Is it easy to use? Does it ship with malware? Will it inter-operate with files from other programs? Does it force a user to work with a sole company by design?

Consumer by and large vote with their dollar even if they do not realize it. They spend their capital on the products which appeal to them. Part of that appeal is often is due in no small part to the values embedded in the technology.

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Posted by trashHeap on Sun, 10 Aug 2014