Monthly Archives: December 2019

The StingRay Is Why the 4th Amendment Was Written

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Fact.
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ToTok, a messaging app that as of last week was one of the most popular in the Apple and Google stores, is billed as a secure way to chat by video/text message with friends/family But it turns out that it’s actually a spying tool for Emirati intelligence …

Source: Twitter / swiftonsecurity

Article note: Oh huh. My cynicism was half right; TikTok is an intelligence op, but by the UAE rather than the Chinese.

ToTok, a messaging app that as of last week was one of the most popular in the Apple and Google stores, is billed as a secure way to chat by video/text message with friends/family But it turns out that it's actually a spying tool for Emirati intelligence …

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Smartphones and the location data marketplace

Source: Hacker News

Article note: The NYT has been doing a great job on giving accessible explanations of the alarming tracking the modern fondleslab has enabled. Less charming, ublock orign swatted down 25 things loading that page; its very hard to fix shit when the government, media, and industry's interests are aligned.
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ACM signed letter opposing open access

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Fuckers, I just gave them renewal money, and they're actively working against my interests to prop up the zombie parasite publishing industry. Hopefully someone will squeeze the candidates on it next election so they can at least be given the finger in a public way.
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Navy’s flawed technology set the USS John McCain up for disaster

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Years ago, one of the directions I was considering going in when I was looking at PhD programs centered on the problems (particularly with feedback and discoverability) with touchscreen interfaces. I was mostly interested in consumer facing electronics (media players you can't operate without both hands and both eyes), and subsequently the automotive industry has ended up doing a ton of the legwork because their wretched touchscreen HMIs have been killing people. But the military-industrial complex is still doing it big. Here, we have a management process that created then didn't train around a touchscreen interface so bad it caused a deadly maritime disaster, which is the clearest case study possible in "don't do that shit."
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Twelve million phones, one dataset, zero privacy

Source: OSNews

Article note: This are already most disappointing when I'm already socially-unacceptably cynical about something, then it turns out I was underestimating how fucked up it is.

Every minute of every day, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies — largely unregulated, little scrutinized — are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Each piece of information in this file represents the precise location of a single smartphone over a period of several months in 2016 and 2017. The data was provided to Times Opinion by sources who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share it and could face severe penalties for doing so. The sources of the information said they had grown alarmed about how it might be abused and urgently wanted to inform the public and lawmakers. We all know this is happening, yet there’s very little we can do about it – save for living far away in the woods, disconnected from everything. There’s cameras everywhere, anything with any sort of wireless connection – from smartphone to dumbphone – is tracked at the carrier level, and even our lightbulbs are ‘smart’ these days. Yet, despite knowing this is happening, it’s still eye-opening to see it in such detail as discovered by The New York Times.

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U.S. Entitled to Edward Snowden’s Proceeds From His New Memoir, Judge Says

Source: NYT > U.S.

Article note: All the sudden feel better about my pirated copy of "Permanent Record."

The former intelligence contractor did not let federal intelligence agencies vet his book before it was published in breach of his agreements with the agencies, the judge said.

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The top bug predictor is not technical, it’s organizational complexity

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Organizational complexity is the enemy of _civilization_, but it's nice to have data.
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Study suggests that professors should standardize their grading curves to boost women’s enrollment in STEM

Source: Inside Higher Ed (news)

Article note: This is ... hard to read as anything other than heinous. The center idea is "Women tend to be more socialized to care about grade prestige than men" which is believable. The suggestion is to make STEM classes grade on a standardized curve to produce a higher proportion of high grades. So... literal grade inflation. Also ignoring the whole "dependency chains and professional preparation" issues that courses in STEM disciplines are basically figuring out who has an adequate mastery of material to go do things that build on it. Also interesting, UK is publishing estimated study hour numbers "average study hours per week (3.37 for STEM, 2.45 for non-STEM)." Those are per-course, and trash numbers from student self-reporting, but that's ...low.

Harsher grading policies in science, technology, engineering and math courses disproportionately affect women -- because women value good grades significantly more than men do, according to a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

What to do? The study’s authors suggest restricting grading policies that equalize average grades across classes, such as curving all courses around a B grade. Beyond helping close STEM’s gender gap, they wrote, such a policy change would boost overall enrollment in STEM classes.

Using administrative data coupled with thousands of students’ course evaluations from the University of Kentucky from the fall of 2012, the study’s authors determined that students spent one hour more per week studying for a STEM course than for a non-STEM course, on average. At the same time, they earned lower grades in STEM courses.

The STEM classes in the sample were almost twice as large as their non-STEM counterparts and associated with grades that were 0.3 points lower. They were also associated with a 40 percent more study time.

Women in the sample had higher grades in both STEM and non-STEM courses than men. But they were significantly underrepresented in STEM.

Trying to explain that lack of representation, the authors created a demand-side model of course choice, in which students selected classes and exerted effort based on their disciplinary preferences, perceived “costs” of studying and expected grades.

The study examined supply-side issues in STEM enrollment as well, and posits that professors give lower grades, in part, to prevent overenrollment (which is costly to them, in terms of time). But based their supply-side model, the authors found that requiring the same mean grade across classes led to a substantial increase in the number of STEM classes taken by women.

The authors note that many factors contribute to the STEM gender gap, not just grades. But it is a major factor, they argue -- and one that is arguably easier to do something about than other cultural issues.

Noting that professors generally all have different grading policies, the study proposes that curving all courses around a B grade would increase overall STEM participation by 7.2 percent overall and women’s participation, in particular, by 11.3 percent.

Grading along a curve -- any curve -- is itself a controversial idea. Some professors say it's bad pedagogical practice. And it’s hard to see how to get professors across fields to agree on a grading scheme without an administrative directive to do so. That, in turn, would likely spark concerns about academic freedom, as teaching, including grading, is widely understood to be the domain of the faculty.

Yet attracting more women to STEM by standardizing grading is relatively straightforward and affordable, the study says, as compared to longer-term cultural and curricular efforts.

Enrolling more women in STEM this way could also lead to other changes that make the natural sciences “more hospitable to women,” the study says, “creating a positive feedback loop.”

Co-author Thomas Ahn, assistant professor of manpower and economics at the Naval Postgraduate School, said that the paper is fundamentally about how colleges and universities can encourage more women -- and men -- to take STEM courses. Among the reasons that they should, he said, is that STEM careers tend to be more lucrative than non-STEM careers, and so have implications for the gender wage gap.

Echoing the paper, Ahn said that compared to other efforts on this front, “tweaks” to grading curves can be done at the school or department level “quickly, without the need for federal or state-level intervention.” Faculty members already alter their grading standards from year to year, he added.

“If we’re worried about the overall deficit in graduating skilled workers in STEM and the gender gap,” he said, academe shouldn’t “wait and hope for a big, comprehensive, expensive fix. We have the ability to effect change now.” Ahn's co-authors are Peter Arcidiacono, Amy Hopson and James R. Thomas.

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Rustysd – A minimal drop-in for a subset of systemd in Rust

Source: Hacker News

Article note: Neat. Not feature complete, but seeing someone attempt a second implementation should give us some insight into how much of systemd is politics and right-place-right-time, and how much of it is well-conceived.
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