UK code breakers drop Bombe, Enigma and Typex simulators onto the web for all to try

Date Published: Mon, 18 Mar 2019 23:24:26 +0200

UK signals intelligence agency GCHQ, celebrating its centenary, has released emulators for famed World War II-era cipher machines that can be run within its web-based educational encryption app CyberChef.

"We've brought technology from our past into the present by creating emulators for Enigma, Typex and the Bombe in #CyberChef," GCHQ said Thursday via Twitter. "We even tested them against the real thing! Try them out for yourself!"

In keeping with its interest in codes, both past and present, GCHQ has emulated Enigma, Bombe, and Typex in software, through CyberChef, a web app that debuted in 2016. The surveillance outfit describes CyberChef as "a simple, intuitive web app for analyzing and decoding data without having to deal with complex tools or programming languages." Its source code is available on GitHub.


#enigma #GCHQ #cipher

How to set up emergency location sharing on Android and iOS - Two minutes of simple setup, and your smartphone could save your life

Date Published: Mon, 18 Mar 2019 23:17:50 +0200

Smartphones are spectacular for snapping photos, scanning the news, and sending messages, but they can also be literal lifesavers if you take the time to set them up before the need arises.

Both Android and iOS have easy-to-use systems for sharing your location with a friend, family member, or other trusted contact in an emergency. You can even create connections that’ll allow you to check up on loved ones to see if their phone has detected movement lately and then request an automated location update if you’re unable to reach them.

The key to all of this is to configure your emergency system ahead of time so it’ll be available in case an actual emergency occurs. Take two minutes now, and then rest easy knowing your phone’s ready.

See how at…

#SOS #emergencies

Google+ public posts are being preserved by the Internet Archive

Date Published: Mon, 18 Mar 2019 22:39:03 +0200

Archivists are racing to preserve Google+ before it shuts down next month.

In a post on Reddit, the Archive Team announced its mission to preserve and backup Google+ content to the Internet Archive. Google will commence the shutdown of its failed social network project on April 2.

According to the archivists, only public Google+ posts will be saved. Private posts and posts that have previously been deleted will not be archived. If a Google+ user does not want their content archived, the team behind the project recommends putting in a request to remove specific pages with the Internet Archive.

Well, this would be good news and I'm thinking in the interests of preserving all sorts of Internet history (like your first ever website back in the day) I hope that Internet Archives maintains sufficient funding to keep going for many decades and longer.


#googleplus #internetarchive

My Impressions of the TicWatch Pro after two weeks use

Date Published: Sun, 17 Mar 2019 21:24:12 +0200

I'm still liking this watch very much after two weeks of use (as I did with the LG Watch Sport originally) but it is worth contrasting some differences this watch has over the LG as the OS is the same:

* Whereas the LG had 20% battery after the end of a full days use (8am to 11pm) the Ticwatch still had a healthy 55-68% battery left depending on the mode.
* The LG would not make a full 24 hours inc sleep use, whilst the TicWatch would easily handle 24 hours (heavy usage with smart screen lighting on arm tilt) or a full two days with the tilt glance view disabled.
* The LCD screen always stays on which is great for many quickly glances at the time.
* The LCD screen is perfectly viewable in the bright sunlight but not in pitch dark (if tilt mode is off you need to tap the screen to light it).
* Whilst the charging pad is not a stand model, it is magnetic so will stick well on any vertical metal surface.
* The Essential Mode (LCD screen only unless you touch the screen) vibrates for alerts but does not pop up any display. In a way this is a great "do not disturb mode".
* I could answer an incoming call from the watch and speak and listen (watch loudspeaker) whilst the phone stayed in my pocket. It requires the phone link to do this.
* In standalone mode it does have its built-in GPS as well as Bluetooth so you can exercise without your phone and fully track the exercise with GPS whilst listening to music or podcasts via Bluetooth earpods or headset.
* It's worth using TicWatch's own health app as it exports directly to Google Fit, Strava and Runkeeper.
* It has NFC, Bluetooth, Wifi, GPS etc built-in but no SIM card like the LG has, but the LG's did not work in South Africa.
* It's screen resolution is about 10% less DPI resolution than the LG display but I honestly can't notice the difference with my eyes.
* Apart from battery life it's other big plus over the LG is standard watch straps that can be swapped out.
* It's pure Essential Mode (no smartphone functionality) will get 30 days battery on the LCD screen only. It will do time, step counter and heart rate monitoring but not much more.

So would I now choose the TicWatch over the LG if I had to choose today... Yes without a doubt. Remember though I wanted an Android Wear OS watch (for my groceries app mainly) so Samsung Galaxy and Huawei GT were not considered and as I like a round dial face neither did the Apple watch (although it would anyway not work well with an Android phone).

TicWatch's prices are also pretty reasonable considering what you get and they make a ruggedised version which I think lacks the NFC and has a slightly older version of Bluetooth, and then also a much cheaper trendier looking version which still has the same screen and OS. What is available and what you will pay depends on where you live (eg. the Pro was not available in my country so I had to wait 7 days for an import).

See photos at…

#ticwatchpro #ticwatch #wearos

MeWe social network exceeds 4 million members as privacy violations hurt Facebook and Twitter

Date Published: Sun, 17 Mar 2019 11:28:10 +0200

MeWe, the pro-privacy social network, now exceeds 4 million members cementing its place as the leading next-gen social network. The "NO BS" social network is attracting members from Facebook, Twitter, and other sites facing a backlash against censorship and privacy infractions, according to its founder.

MeWe achieved 405% growth in 2018. In 2019 it is already growing twice as fast. MeWe also spent multiple days ranked as the No.1 Trending Social App in the Google Play Store in December 2018. Is this a sign that the tide is finally turning on the big social media giants that dominate today?

Some think so. MeWe is advised by the inventor of the Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and its CEO, Mark Weinstein, is a leading privacy advocate and social media pioneer.

Yes, there are some critics that have been speaking about hate groups popping up on MeWe but I've not seen them myself so can't say much about that. I think (like on any other large social network) it depends on who you are following or searching for. Certainly, any growing network will attract all sorts of groups. Much depends on how they are handled and users should always play an active role in reporting such behaviour (and not engaging with the guilty parties as that is exactly what they want).

It will be interesting to see how MeWe handles such growth as with it comes inevitable additional; admin to handle the takedowns, infrastructure scaling, etc. Facebook also started out small and Mr Zuckerberg promised never to sell our data. I'm not expecting MeWe to sell user data as they have stated those assurances very clearly in writing. But for it to be sustainable as it scales it certainly costs real money - right now they have a pay model in place if you exceed 8GB or so of user data (and my G+ import is about 12GB so if I import my data I'll need to be a paying subscriber. But let's be clear - you can't have no advertising or sale of your data and expect expensive infrastructure to run for free. There is either a subscription model that kicks in or voluntary donations. Otherwise, your social network just disappears in a year or two. Nothing scales upwards to millions of users at no extra cost.


#deletefacebook #mewe

WordPress now powers One-third of the web's websites!

Date Published: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 22:40:20 +0200

WordPress now powers over 1/3rd of the top 10 million sites on the web according to W3Techs. Their latest release has already been downloaded close to 14 million times, and it was only released on the 21st of February 2019.

What this means for people wanting to use it, is that there are tons of videos explaining how to get going with it and there are also lots of 3rd party modules to extend functionality. Never underestimate the last point as I'm using Drupal 8, and whilst it is very powerful it is also a bit more complex and has far fewer 3rd party modules (especially for v8 vs v7 of Drupal).

WordPress is also incredibly cheap to start out with as WordPress itself offers free hosting but many other hosting providers also allow free tier hosting for smaller WordPress sites.


#wordpress #websites

Air Carbon Capture’s Scale Problem: 11 Astrodomes For A Ton Of CO2

Date Published: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 22:29:27 +0200

Air carbon capture continues to get written about as if it is an interesting technology that will play a significant role in reducing global warming. But most articles fail miserably to put the technology in context. A new study or press release comes out, and a bunch of sites publish articles which make it sound as if global warming is practically solved.

For the most part, carbon capture is a fig leaf funded by fossil fuel money to allow them to continue to mine fossil fuels and sell them. In some cases, it’s funded by them to provide a source of CO2 to pump into existing tapped out oil wells so that the sludge liquefies and can be pumped out and sold. And many researchers keep plugging away because it’s an interesting scientific challenge to them.

There are three problems with carbon capture and sequestration — capture, shipping and long-term disposal.

The smallest unit of measure of CO2 for useful discussions of carbon capture and sequestration is the metric ton. That’s a 1,000 kilograms or about 2,200 lbs. A kilogram is a 1,000 grams. That means to get a ton of CO2, we’d need to filter it out of about 13 million cubic meters of air, if we were 100% efficient at capturing CO2 molecules from the air (and a bunch of other nuances).

Let’s try some analogies. An Olympic-sized swimming pool contains about 2,500 cubic meters of water. So you’d need to strain about 5,250 Olympic pools worth of air to get a ton of CO2. The Houston Astrodome is about 1.2 million cubic meters, so you’d need to filter the air from about 11 Astrodomes to get a ton of CO2. You’d need about 5.4 Great Pyramids of Giza. If you filtered all of the air in the Grand Canyon, you’d get about 127 tons of CO2.

That’s why all air carbon capture devices end up looking like a massive wall of fans.

The solution is to stop putting CO2 into the air. Stop burning fossil fuels. As rapidly as possible. And let the huge machine that is Mother Nature do the rest. We’ve created an enormous problem over 250 years. We aren’t going to address it in 20.


#climatechange #carboncapture #CO2

How to Unlink Dropbox Devices to Meet the New Limits for Free Users - Free users only get three devices now

Date Published: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 22:02:12 +0200

Dropbox just did a crappy thing to its “Basic” users — free users, that is. The company quietly added a new caveat that limits these accounts to a mere three devices. To use your Dropbox account on four or more devices, you must pay for the service’s premium version, which will cost you at least $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year.

If you already had a free Dropbox Account before the switch, there’s good news and bad news. Dropbox won’t deactivate any devices if you exceed this new limit. So, if you have 10 devices synced to one free Dropbox account, they will all continue to work.

However, users who have more than three devices attached to their accounts will not be able to sync any new hardware until they unlink all but two of their devices to comply with the new limit.

Noticed how many cloud services are dropping offerings on their free tiers (ie. like Flickr) so it may be well worth your while considering alternative services that you can host your self without restrictions and often for much less. Like free open source alternatives, it sometimes means putting in a little effort to achieve this. But one tech-savvy person is a family could setup such a service and provide it to 10 or 20 family members with the added bonus that no-one is selling off your data!

For example, NextCloud easily replaces Dropbox and has tons of extra functionality that you do not get with Dropbox. Piwigo replaces Flickr. For under $10 per month both these, and more services, can be run for a whole family.


#dropbox #nextcloud #cloud

Has The World Been Duped by “Big Razor, Inc.”? Is Less More? The problem is widespread education in the art of wet shaving without billion dollar ad budgets

Date Published: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 21:09:16 +0200

Since the inception of the original safety razor patents, Big Razor has sought to secure its market dominance by maintaining a very effective moat around its products. This moat includes consumer over-education, patent protection and broad-scale distribution.

Once the original patents on the safety razor expired in 1921, Big Razor had no choice but to attempt to erect new fortifications against other potential market entrants. Additional patents ensued, each adding a new twist and additional technology on top of the original razor and blade design. With each added feature, the cost to the consumer escalated.

Additional engineering included greater marketing dollars and increased brand awareness. Branding and marketing created demand and a dominance in both distribution and therefore market share. In fact, the brand alone has been estimated to be worth some 25% or more of the total value of the business. With each iteration, Big Razor added additional features, patenting them all the while. Multiple blades went from one to five. Heating elements, vibrators and lubrication strips were included, all with the aim toward shave improvement.

But somewhere things went too far. Somewhere the public realized they were sold a bill of goods. It’s not that the shave was bad, it’s simply that the marginal cost no longer matched the marginal benefit and that the natural obsolescence of the razor and blades business model had been overengineered and overhyped.

In short, the consuming public began to realize that — at least when it comes to shaving — maybe less really is more.

But there is no incentive for the largest shaving businesses to change the tune of their marketing message only to have it nearly cannibalize their existing revenue in a major way ($0.10 double edge safety razor blades vs. $4.00 cartridge blades would be a death sentence). Fortunately — thanks to the internet’s information accessibility — the world is flatter than it has ever been. The problem is widespread education in the art of wet shaving without billion dollar ad budgets.


#shaving #wetshaving #traditionashaving

If you think Facebook has no competition, just ask Telegram who experienced a spike in registrations during the recent Facebook outage

Date Published: Sat, 16 Mar 2019 15:59:11 +0200

Facebook is often seen as an untouchable behemoth in the social media realm, a site so big that no competitor can come close. But if you trust Pavel Durov, the founder of messaging app Telegram, even a simple stumble from Facebook like a few hours of outage can have pretty serious consequences for its user base.

On Thursday, shortly after Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp came back online, Durov said on his Telegram channel (via TechCrunch) that "3 million users signed up for Telegram within the last 24 hours."

Telegram is interesting in that it allows for massive groups without adverts, bots, has channels, and even automation notifications via APIs. Telegram also has a desktop browser client that does not require your phone to be connected. I've also seen quite a few of my own friends suddenly appearing on Telegram this month.



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