The cell tower your phone uses may be run by the FBI, police, etc.

Southern Stingray 

Powerful “stingrays” used to go after 911 hangup, ATM burglary
[Via Ars Technica]

Newly released records show that Florida law enforcement agencies have been using stingrays thousands of times since at least 2007 to investigate crimes as small as a 911 hangup. They also seemingly obliquely refer to stingrays in police reports as “electronic surveillance measures,” or even as a “confidential informant.”

Stingrays, the common name for “cell-site simulators,” can be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones—not just the target phone. Earlier this month, Ars reported on how the FBI is actively trying to “prevent disclosure” of how these devices are used in local jurisdictions across America.

The trove of documents, which were published earlier this week by the American Civil Liberties Union, show that while police agencies often justify the purchase of such hardware in the name of counter-terrorism—none of the the hundreds of disclosed uses involve terrorism.

[More]

Yes, this device mimics a cell tower, acting as a man-in-the-middle attack. While they may collect all the information  from the desired phone, including text and voice, they also recors all the data from every other phone in the area that thinks this is a legitimate cell tower.

That they can then do whatever they wish with. Like collect the phones calls of every single person neaar a protest. Including those from people in surrounding buildings.

And these can be worn by an individual. Walking around. The FBI has even stated that they do not need a warrant. Because you have no reasonable expectation of privacy when you call someone outside the privacy of your home.

So think about that the next time a friend calls you while walking down the street.

No way is the WSJ correct on its sales numbers for the gold Apple Watch

 Bullion bar with Coins

Paging Auric Goldfinger
[Via Daring Fireball]

Josh Centers does some back-of-the-envelope math to estimate how much raw gold Apple might need for Apple Watch Edition production:

There are two conclusions we can draw from this scattering of data. The first is that Apple is about to take over the world. Not only will it be the most valuable company on the planet, but it will also be bidding for a third of the world’s annual gold supply, wreaking havoc on gold prices and doing who knows what to the global economy.

The alternative is that the esteemed Wall Street Journal is off on its Apple Watch Edition sales by an order of magnitude (or more). That would put the number at 100,000 per month, which seems more plausible.

I think the WSJ’s sources are deeply suspect on these production numbers. There’s no way Apple is planning on selling one million Edition models a month. That’s just nutty. Rolex sells only 600,000 watches a year.

[More]

The numbers do not add up.

Always do the math. Amazing that the WSJ just acted as stenographers of the information rather than actually check their reality. I would not doubt that this was a leak from Apple used to determine who could not be trusted. I suspect someone mau have lost their job leaking this false information.


More instances of the high tech capitalist selling the rope to their own hanging

Death Noose 

SSL-busting code that threatened Lenovo users found in a dozen more apps
[Via Ars Technica]

The list of software known to use the same HTTPS-breaking technology recently found preinstalled on Lenovo laptops has risen dramatically with the discovery of at least 12 new titles, including one that’s categorized as a malicious trojan by a major antivirus provider.

Trojan.Nurjax, a malicious program Symantec discovered in December, hijacks the Web browsers of compromised computers and may download additional threats. According to a blog post published Friday by a security researcher from Facebook, Nurjax is one such example of newly found software that incorporates HTTPS-defeating code from an Israeli company called Komodia. Combined with the Superfish ad-injecting software preinstalled on some Lenovo computers and three additional applications that came to light shortly after that revelation, there are now 14 known apps that use Komodia technology.

“What all these applications have in common is that they make people less secure through their use of an easily obtained root CA [certificate authority], they provide little information about the risks of the technology, and in some cases they are difficult to remove,” Matt Richard, a threats researcher on the Facebook security team, wrote in Friday’s post. “Furthermore, it is likely that these intercepting SSL proxies won’t keep up with the HTTPS features in browsers (e.g., certificate pinning and forward secrecy), meaning they could potentially expose private data to network attackers. Some of these deficiencies can be detected by antivirus products as malware or adware, though from our research, detection successes are sporadic.”

[More]

This software, originally used to inject ads into encrypted  (and supposedly secure) web pages, actually make things less secure and allows a man-in-the-middle to capture all your data, including passwords to things like your bank accounts.

They essentially hacked the security of their own system to allow them to sell ads. 

These approaches made the user less secure, and never told the user that this was happening. I expect money changed hands to pre-install the software.

Makes one wonder what other things might be used by these guys  to make money at the expense of the security of the user?

Maybe a few good lawsuits will change this. Perhaps the rest of the sociopaths will get the message.



Former GM CEO does his Steve Ballmer impersonation

 musk

Apple would be crazy to make cars, former GM chief says 
[Via - CNET]

Talk of Apple entering the car market is serious enough that former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has felt the need to offer his two cents: Don’t do it!

Akerson, who left GM in 2014, told Bloomberg in an interview published Wednesday that if he were an Apple shareholder hearing news of the company considering building an electric car, he “wouldn’t be very happy.”

“I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing” business, he told Bloomberg.

[More]

The former CEO of the worst car maker in the US doing his best Steve Ballmer impersonation. Here is what Ballmer said about the iPhone in 2007:

There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get.

 That sure went well. The iPhone is not only increasing market share but also making most of the smartphone profits. Having your stuff in 60% of anything but making no money will never overcome 10% of the market with all the profits.

Because of Apple’s money, it can leverage all sorts of things to give itself a competitive edge. Few other makers can meet Apple’s prices and make a profit because Apple acts so much like a monopsonist by tying up long term contracts for parts that no one else can meet and even loaning the foundries money to upgrade themselves, as long as Apple gets first dibs.

The profit margin for Tesla is 25%. GM’s is 12%. Apple would love ot get Tesla’s and probably could.

In fact if Apple is going to make cars (something I really am skeptical of) it will follow Tesla not GM.

But if Apple ever does make a car, it will not be anything like what GM makes, just as the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac were not like anything that was being made before they entered the market.

Speculation is fun. I’m not even sure it will be private cars. Maybe combining auto-guided cars with flight.

Or perhaps coupling an electric car with Musk’s Hyperloop. The Hyperloop itself looks to be moving forward. Maybe you drive in your electric Apple car and get special pricing and perks (like a rest room).


 

Green bubbles existed before blue bubbles

 iMessage conformation.

Being Green
[Via Daring Fireball]

Paul Ford:

A few months ago my friend Edd Dumbill shared a discovery. He pointed out that if you search Twitter for the words “green bubbles” you’ll find very consistent results. People hate green bubbles.

It’s a little thing, so very little, but it matters. One small factor among many that allow the iPhone to sustain higher prices and margins.

[More]

Yes, if you have an iPhone and send an iMessage to someone else who has an iPhone, you see a blue bubble. If it goes to a friend without an iPhone, it is a green bubble.

But Apple did not do this on purpose to get people yo hate Android. Any text message (usually SMS) that does not go through the security of iMessage is green. It is not simply an Android thing.

And, more importantly, the green bubble was present BEFORE iMessage existed.Yes, everyone used to be in a green bubble until Apple created its own messaging service. So, it kept green for SMS messaging, the same color it had always been, and chose blue for its own messages.

Why a different color? Cost for one thing as iMessages do not cost anything. And security for another. Point-to-point encryption.

As well as no 160 character limit. And all sorts of emojis. Easy to send pictures. The experience is much better because Apple provided specific interface improvements since it controls the servers. SMS is generic because it is used for everything else.

The hate for green bubbles came from the people using iOS. I’m sure Apple is not unhappy with this. But to say that the green was chosen simply to go after Android is ahistorical. This is simply a made up, stupid tempest in a tea pot.


Liberal/Conservative – More data supporting intuitive, System 1 thinking vs analytical, System 2

Thinking RFID 

Study: Oh Yes, We Can Change Conservative Minds
[Via Crooks and Liars]

This is something many of us have been saying for a while. A substantial number of Americans hold both conservative and progressive views, and this study indicates that yes, we can change people’s minds — and votes:

Political conservatives in the United States are somewhat like East Asians in the way they think, categorize and perceive. Liberals in the U.S. could be categorized as extreme Americans in thought, categorization and perception. That is the gist of a new University of Virginia cultural psychology study, published recently in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Additionally, the study indicates that thought styles – whether analytical or holistic – can be changed through training, enough so to temporarily change political thought and the way a person might vote.

“We found in our study that liberals and conservatives think as if they were from completely different cultures – almost as different as East and West,” said study leader Thomas Talhelm, a U.Va. doctoral candidate in cultural psychology. “Liberals and conservatives categorize and perceive things differently, just as East Asians and Westerners look differently at the world.”

According to Talhelm, political conservatives in the United States, generally, and East Asians, particularly, are intuitive or “holistic” thinkers, while Westerners, generally, and American liberals, in particular, are more analytical thinkers.

[More]

Liberals and conservatives see the world differently and think differently, even across cultures.

Daniel Kahneman has discussed these sorts of thinking, Fast and Slow. Fast is required for making quick decisions needed to survive a threatening environment. It is rules-based, intuitive. But also unable to easily deal with complex systems.

Slow requires deeper analysis, taking more time and energy. It is not something that works well when the tiger is in front of you but absolutely required for dealing with complex systems.

Fast is best for dealing with a dangerous world, but can fall apart when the cultural environment is changing rapidly. Old rules may no longer work.

Slower thinking is better for understanding how to deal with a changing environment  But takes much more time to discern the best new rules.

Humans can use either but seem to naturally default to a specific type.

Here we find that supposed political attitudes fall under this, with conservatives being more rules-based, intutiove and users of fast thinking.while liberals are more analytical using System 2.

Now, the study indicates that what we call politics is malleable, which makes sense since what is called a conservative or liberal based on political views changes with time.

They discovered that if they trained holistic thinkers to think analytically, for example, to match scarf with mitten, they would subsequently start viewing the world more liberally (though not on economic policy). Likewise, liberals, if trained to think holistically, would come to form more conservative opinions.

It does support something that people have connected with conservatives and liberals – conservatives generally see the world as a dangerous place, one to be fearful of. Liberals… not so much.

Someone who sees the world as extremely dangerous would use fast, intuitive, System 1 thinking a lot. It would be a survival trait.

But, given the correct approaches, people can be provided the support for using System 2 thinking. And when they do, they see the world as less dangerous, drop into analytical thinking and act more liberally in their actions.

It does not change their views on economic issues but does seem to change their views on social ones.

Which is very hopeful as we emerge into a new era of organizing ourselves to fit the new cultural environment we have created.

In a few years, we will have discovered which rules to maintain and which news ones are useful and settle back into a more stable set of social organizations.

Cool picture of rockets

 

rockets

Laser Rocket Aurora!
[Via Bad Astronomy]

This is one of the coolest pictures I’ve ever seen. And bonus: It’s science!

Geez, where to start? OK, this is the Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska, where NASA launches what are called sounding rockets. These are not as big as rockets you might be used to, but they’re still hefty enough to get a payload up as high as 300 kilometers.

On Jan. 26, 2015, four such rockets were launched. In this wide-angle composite picture, you can see the fiery trails of the rocket as they headed skyward (I suspect the exposure started late or was interrupted for the launch on the right, since it starts already off the ground).

In each, you can see where the first stage booster cuts out, and the engine glow gets much dimmer. Then, higher up, the second stage ignites, propelling its payload even higher. The first stage booster continues up on a parabolic arc, then begins to fall. If you trace those arcs down, you’ll even see the impact points on the ground! That’s pretty wild.

[More]

So much science in a single picture. Like also seeing the aurora. Like seeing the stars move around the sky in this long exposure.

And look, the rockets were launched directly at the center of the wheeling stars.Cool.

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