linkmachinego.com

October 22, 2018
[tech] It’s Impossible to Prove Your Laptop Hasn’t Been Hacked. I Spent Two Years Finding Out … a deep technical dive into the difficulties around proving if a computer has tampered been with. ‘There is a sneaky class of attack, called “evil maid” attacks, that disk encryption alone cannot protect against. Evil maid attacks work like this: An attacker (such as a malicious hotel housekeeper, for example) gains temporary access to your encrypted laptop. Although they can’t decrypt your data, they can spend a few minutes tampering with your laptop and then leave it exactly where they found it. When you come back and type in your credentials, now you have been hacked. Exactly how an evil maid attack would work against your laptop depends on many factors: the type of computer you use, what operating system you use, which disk encryption software you use, and the configuration of firmware used to boot your computer, firmware which I’ll call “BIOS,” although it can also go by acronyms like EFI and UEFI. Some computers have considerably better technology to prevent evil maid attacks than others – for example, attackers have to do more advanced tampering to hack a Windows laptop encrypted with BitLocker than they do to hack a Mac laptop encrypted with FileVault (as of now, anyway) or a Linux laptop encrypted with LUKS.’
October 11, 2018
[tech] Reboot Your Dreamliner Every 248 Days To Avoid Integer Overflow … Why Boeing 787s need to be rebooted regularly to avoid integer overflows. ‘Basically it says that all Boeing 787 Dreamliners have to be switched off every 248 days. If they are not reset then the generator control units GCUs will go into failsafe mode and the plane will lose all electrical power. Why exactly? To quote the FAA directive: This condition is caused by a software counter internal to the GCUs that will overflow after 248 days of continuous power. We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane.’
September 28, 2018
[time] Your calendrical fallacy is… Everything you know about Calendars, Dates and Times is Wrong. ‘Days are 24 hours long – False. Many places around the world observe Daylight Saving Time, which means that people living in these locations will sometimes experience 23 hour days (when they “leap forward”) and 25 hour days (when they “leap back”).’
June 27, 2018
[tech] Confessions of a Disk Cracker: the secrets of 4am. … Interview with 4am – a modern software cracker cracking old programs. ‘Nobody got kudos for cracking “Irregular Spanish Verbs in the Future Tense,” no BBS would waste the hard drive space to host it, and no user would sacrifice their phone line to download it. So it never got preserved in any form. And even the things that did get cracked weren’t fully preserved. Those same technical constraints led to a culture where the smallest version of a game always won. That meant stripping out the animated boot sequence, the title screen, the multi-page introduction, the cut scenes, anything deemed “non-essential” to the pirates. The holy grail was cutting away so much that you could distribute the game (or what was left of it) as a single file that could be combined with other unrelated games on a single floppy disk.’
June 15, 2018
[phones] Why Doesn’t Anyone Answer the Phone Anymore? … Alexis Madrigal wonders about the death of analog phone culture. ‘If someone called you, if you were there, you would pick up, you would say hello. That was just how phones worked. The expectation of pickup was what made phones a synchronous medium. I attach no special value to it. There’s no need to return to the pure state of 1980s telephonic culture. It’s just something that happened, like lichen growing on rocks in the tundra, or bacteria breaking down a fallen peach. Life did its thing, on and in the inanimate substrate. But I want to dwell on the existence of this cultural layer, because it is disappearing…’
June 13, 2018
[music] Go Look: 3D Print Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures Cover.
June 7, 2018
[tech] Y Combinator’s Xerox Alto: restoring the legendary 1970s GUI computer … Fascinating look into the complexities of restoring the first computer with a GUI and major inspiration for the Apple Macintosh. Here’s a page collecting information, blogposts and videos from YouTube on the project: Restoring a Xerox Alto II Extended.

The Alto was introduced in 1973. To understand this time in computer hardware, the primitive 4004 microprocessor had been introduced a couple years earlier. Practical microprocessors such as the 6502 and Z-80 were still a couple years in the future and the Apple II wouldn’t be released until 1977. At the time, minicomputers such as the Data General Nova and PDP-11 built processors out of hundreds of simple but fast TTL integrated circuits, rather than using slow, unreliable MOS chips. The Alto was built similarly, and is a minicomputer, not a microcomputer. The Alto has 13 circuit boards, crammed full of chips. Each board is a bit smaller than a page of paper, about 7-5/16″ by 10″, and holds roughly 100 chips (depending on the board).

June 4, 2018
[amazon] Jeff Bezos Announces Customers Can Delete All Of Alexa’s Stored Audio By Rappelling Into Amazon HQ, Navigating Laser Field, Uploading Nanovirus To Servers … Amazon’s new Privacy Policy seems reasonable. We take privacy concerns seriously, and I want our valued customers to know they can erase all the information their Amazon Echo has gathered just by being dropped from a helicopter over one of our towers, using a diamond-tipped glass cutter to carve out a hole in a 32nd-story window, and then employing advanced cyberwarfare techniques to compromise our data centers…’
May 11, 2018
[tech] Notepad gets a major upgrade, now does Unix line endings … It’s only taken since 1985 to get this feature into Windows! ‘But in the next update to Windows (likely to arrive in October or thereabouts), Notepad will handle Unix and classic MacOS line endings in addition to the Windows kind. This will make the editor much more useful than it currently is. And if you don’t like the idea, there’s a registry setting to make it stick with its traditional behavior.’
May 10, 2018
[tech] Go Watch The First Pizza Ordered by Computer in 1974‘The first call went to Dominos, which hung up. They were apparently too busy becoming a behemoth. Mercifully, a humane pizzeria — Mr. Mike’s — took the call, and history was made.’

April 25, 2018
[tech] People Who Tried to Take Panorama Shots and Ended Up Opening the Gates of Hell

March 27, 2018
[fun] Play Speak and Spell Online … the education toy emulated at the Internet Archive with many other handheld game consoles.
February 27, 2018
[politics] Paul Manafort couldn’t convert PDFs to Word documents … Rule of thumb: Sucessfully executing a criminal conspiracy requires robust IT skills. ‘So here’s the essence of what went wrong for Manafort and Gates, according to Mueller’s investigation: Manafort allegedly wanted to falsify his company’s income, but he couldn’t figure out how to edit the PDF. He therefore had Gates turn it into a Microsoft Word document for him, which led the two to bounce the documents back-and-forth over email. As attorney and blogger Susan Simpson notes on Twitter, Manafort’s inability to complete a basic task on his own seems to have effectively “created an incriminating paper trail.”’
February 26, 2018
[tech] What free software is so good you can’t believe it’s available for free?‘#1 – Google maps on a cell phone. Navigation systems used to cost hundreds of dollars not too long ago.’
February 22, 2018
[tech] Go look at some Anime Floppy Disks

February 12, 2018
[tech] What I Learned from Watching My iPad’s Slow Death … On the obsolescence of an 2012 iPad Mini. ‘If my old iPad could talk, it might ask me what has changed. If it could feel indignant, it might suggest that it isn’t the problem, and that everyone and everything else is. While it would be wrong according to the logic of its creation, it wouldn’t be incorrect. It is a piece of consumer technology, so you would expect that everything around it — its own software, Apple’s new products, the internet on which it depends — would have improved in the last five years, and that it would suffer in comparison. What seems unfair is that my old iPad, because it does nothing but provide access to these ever-evolving services, necessarily has to get worse and that it may, before long, have nowhere to go. Above all, my old iPad has revealed itself as a cursed object of a modern sort. It wears out without wearing. It breaks down without breaking. And it will be left for dead before it dies.’
February 9, 2018
[tech] Today I Learned: Why does misdetected Unicode text tend to show up as Chinese characters? … I also learned what Mojibake means. ‘If you look at a graphic representation of what languages occupy what parts of the BMP, you’ll see that it’s a sea of pink (CJK) and red (East Asian), occasionally punctuated by other scripts. It just so happens that the placement of the CJK ideographs in the BMP effectively guarantees it.’
January 29, 2018
[history] Untangling the Tale of Ada Lovelace … a fascinating deep-dive blog post on the life of Ada Lovelace from Stephen Wolfram. ‘When Ada wrote about Babbage’s machine, she wanted to explain what it did in the clearest way—and to do this she looked at the machine more abstractly, with the result that she ended up exploring and articulating something quite recognizable as the modern notion of universal computation. What Ada did was lost for many years. But as the field of mathematical logic developed, the idea of universal computation arose again, most clearly in the work of Alan Turing in 1936. Then when electronic computers were built in the 1940s, it was realized they too exhibited universal computation, and the connection was made with Turing’s work.’
January 10, 2018
[tech] Wikipedia articles invented by a neural network‘Friends and existence. How to draw a coconut. Tree donkey. Category:People who can’t speed.’ [via jwz]
December 15, 2017
[tracking] Even This Data Guru Is Creeped Out By What Anonymous Location Data Reveals … a fascinating look at how much anonymous location data from smartphones can reveal about owners … ‘“It was very easy to figure out the home address,” he says, of a location in Erie, Colorado, just outside of Boulder. “The granularity of the geo-hash was a little challenging because the house is residential, but it’s very clear what that address is.” “There is a very clear handoff between the work line, which is the purple line, and home, which is the yellow-orange. Work was a little harder, because there was a number of different offices there, but because there is height [data] it makes it pretty easy to figure out that he is likely in this law firm, JB&P.” He also determined that the person often visited the court or police department in a way that fit the profile of an attorney.’
November 30, 2017
[maps] 12 Incredibly Useful Things You Didn’t Know Google Maps Could Do … including Time Travel! ‘Fire up the flux capacitor, Doc, ’cause we’re about to do some serious time traveling. Google Maps has a little-known feature that lets you look at the Street View for any area as it existed at various points in the past. This one only works from the desktop site, so open up Maps on your computer and pick a place. See that little yellow guy in the lower-right corner—known to his friends as Pegman? Drag him up with your mouse and drop him wherever you want to go. Then look for the clock icon in the gray box at the top-left of the screen. Tap that, and you’ll be able to drag a slider back through time to see 360-degree views from previous years.’
November 16, 2017
[web] What every Browser knows about you … a webpage which shows all the information a web browser leaks about you.
November 14, 2017
[netflix] How Netflix works: the (hugely simplified) complex stuff that happens every time you hit Play‘Netflix works on thousands of devices, and each of them play a different format of video and sound files. Another set of AWS servers take this original film file, and convert it into hundreds of files, each meant to play the entire show or film on a particular type of device and a particular screen size or video quality. One file will work exclusively on the iPad, one on a full HD Android phone, one on a Sony TV that can play 4K video and Dolby sound, one on a Windows computer, and so on. Even more of these files can be made with varying video qualities so that they are easier to load on a poor network connection. This is a process known as transcoding. A special piece of code is also added to these files to lock them with what is called digital rights management or DRM — a technological measure which prevents piracy of films.’
November 9, 2017
[mac] The Twiggy Mac Lives! The Quest To Resurrect The World’s Oldest Macintosh‘How did this Mac survive? Was this the only one? The owner of the mysterious machine, posting as “mactwiggy” and known publicly only as Jay, said at the time that he bought the system after seeing it advertised online. “The elderly gentleman I purchased it off of is a retired engraver,” Jay wrote on Applefritter’s forums. “The company he worked for was hired to make some award medallions for a ceremony at Apple. It would have been some point in 1983 I personally think, but he really couldn’t recall. They sent over this Mac to use as a model for him to work off of. When the job was done, they tried to make arrangements to send it back. Apparently after several attempts, Apple just told them to keep it.” The seller knew he had a highly collectible computer, but was willing to sell the piece at a less-than-maximum price to avoid dealing with potential buyers. “He was really just happy it was going to someone who knew what it was and would appreciate it,” Jay wrote. It was major find — truly a Mac collector’s dream.’
October 19, 2017
[web] Ev Williams Wants To Save Media — Again. But Some Writers And Publishers Are Skeptical. … engrossing long read on Ev Williams latest attempts to change online journalism … ‘At the time of the Napa retreat, the company practiced “holocracy,” a management philosophy that in theory avoids a hierarchical management structure by empowering employees to make business decisions. But it didn’t always work that way at Medium. Former employees said they often had to work backward, unpacking Williams’ vague and shifting mission statements to figure out what, exactly, he wanted them to do. After the company retreat, several sources said, Medium’s 25 or so editorial employees entered into a months-long period of awkwardness: They weren’t laid off outright, but they got signals that the goals of the company were no longer aligned with their presence. “We had this series of work groups where you tried to figure out what your job and the future of publishing was,” one source said. Former employees suspected that Medium was trying to thin out its editorial staff by attrition.’
October 11, 2017
[tv] Your New TV Ruins Movies‘Filmmakers were not content to make movies with video cameras until those cameras could shoot 24p, because video, with its many-frames-per-second, looks like reality, like the evening news, like a live broadcast or a daytime soap opera; whereas 24p film, by showing us less, looks somehow larger than life, like a dream, like a story being told rather than an event being documented. This seemingly technical issue turns out to have an enormous emotional effect on the viewer. These days, any TV you are likely to buy, will, by default, have technology enabled that completely changes the emotional quality of the movies you watch. This is a cinematic disaster.’ [via Feeling Listless]
September 13, 2017
[tech] Atomic City … The story behind the only recorded nuclear fatalities in the US (reads like a James Ellroy story) … ‘McKinley was struck in the head by a piece of radioactive shrapnel that tore off half his face. Byrnes was thrown into concrete blocks, breaking ribs that pierced his heart. Legg was skewered in the gut by a flying control rod that launched him thirteen feet in the air and pinned him to the ceiling. (It took a week to get him down, requiring a pole with a hook to push him into a net attached to a crane operated by a man shielded in lead.) The men’s bodies were wrapped in several hundred pounds of lead, placed in steel coffins, and buried under a foot of concrete.’
September 5, 2017
[apollo] How Verbs and Nouns Got Apollo to the Moon … a look at how the Apollo Guidance Computer worked … ‘An entire mission to the Moon was run by the Apollo guidance computer, from checking the guidance platform alignment and firing the engines. All told, it took about 10,500 keystrokes to get to the Moon and back, and every one of them was entered into the guidance computer’s “display and keyboard” interface, affectionately referred to as the DKSY (pronounced like “diss-key”). There were three on board — two in the command module and one in the lunar module — and all three offered information simply and concisely in numeric coded messages or by a series of warning lights.’
August 7, 2017
[space] The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe … a wonderful profile of the team managing the Voyager Probes on their long journey into interstellar space … ‘Even though they simulate every patch with software, there is plenty of room for human error. Far more often, hardware fails for no evident reason. In 1998, Voyager 2 reacted to a command by going silent. For 64 hours straight, the flight team studied the specific instruction — consisting of 18 bits, or 1s and 0s — that preceded the blackout. Bits have been known to ‘‘flip’’ to the opposite value, changing the instruction the same way that swapping a single letter turns ‘‘cat’’ into ‘‘cut.’’ The question was: What instruction had they accidentally given and how could they undo it? At last, modeling the outcome of each possible bit, they discovered one that turned off the exciter, which generates the spacecraft’s radio signal; when they turned it back on, the transmissions resumed.’
July 24, 2017
[games] How Checkers Was Solved … the fascinating story of the greatest Checkers player in the world and how Checkers was beaten by computers …

Marion Tinsley—math professor, minister, and the best checkers player in the world—sat across a game board from a computer, dying.

Tinsley had been the world’s best for 40 years, a time during which he’d lost a handful of games to humans, but never a match. It’s possible no single person had ever dominated a competitive pursuit the way Tinsley dominated checkers. But this was a different sort of competition, the Man-Machine World Championship.

His opponent was Chinook, a checkers-playing program programmed by Jonathan Schaeffer, a round, frizzy-haired professor from the University of Alberta, who operated the machine. Through obsessive work, Chinook had become very good. It hadn’t lost a game in its last 125—and since they’d come close to defeating Tinsley in 1992, Schaeffer’s team had spent thousands of hours perfecting his machine.

The night before the match, Tinsley dreamt that God spoke to him and said, “I like Jonathan, too,” which had led him to believe that he might have lost exclusive divine backing…’

July 7, 2017
[web]Whatever happened to Jennicam? … the Reply All Podcast tracked down Jennifer Ringley – arguably the first person who lived their life online – and discovered what happened after she switched the camera off … ‘My husband’s last name is Johnson and Jennifer Johnson is practically better than Jane Doe. I never thought I would get married. I never thought I would get married. But when I did, I was super eager to take his last name. SUPER EAGER.’
July 6, 2017
[funny] Big Fucking TV can’t find the Fucking Shit Router

June 29, 2017
[wisdom] InspiroBot … A.I. generated inspirational quotes … ‘I am an artificial intelligence dedicated to generating unlimited amounts of unique inspirational quotes for endless enrichment of pointless human existence.’

June 23, 2017
[web] The Most Interesting Curator on the Internet Knows Exactly What You Want to See … more on Archillect‘This ever-evolving process has taken both Archillect and Pak on some unexpected detours away from their original mission. As she’s evolved and adapted to her audience, her taste has diverged quite a lot from that of her creator. Early in the project, Pak steered her towards more high-brow visual art, but over the past few months has been allowing her more free rein. “It’s not reflecting my taste anymore,” Pak says. “I’d say 60 percent of the things [she posts] are not things that I would like and share, but it’s still fun to see that they are doing better than the things I would share.” There’s a tinge of annoyance to Pak’s voice when he says this last part, as if he knows that Archillect is better at running herself than he or any other human ever could be.’
June 15, 2017
[tech] Google Can Now Tell You’re Not a Robot With Just One Click … a new, very simple Turing Test … ‘Instead of depending upon the traditional distorted word test, Google’s “reCaptcha” examines cues every user unwittingly provides: IP addresses and cookies provide evidence that the user is the same friendly human Google remembers from elsewhere on the Web. And Shet says even the tiny movements a user’s mouse makes as it hovers and approaches a checkbox can help reveal an automated bot. “All of this gives us a model of how a human behaves,” says Shet. “It’s a whole bag of cues that make this hard to spoof for a bot.” He adds that Google also will use other variables that it is keeping secret…’
June 6, 2017
[tech] The Lost Joys of the Screen Saver … a thoughtful, nostalgic look at Screen Savers … ‘To me, screen savers have always afforded some tenuous connection to the afterlife. The first one I can remember, on my family’s household desktop, featured a crimson psychedelia that overtook the screen’s blackness, a kaleidoscope of paisleys and helixes forever in a state of irresolution. Late at night, I’d prepare an unhealthy snack and sit patiently in front of the monitor to watch it, a child beseeching death. How fitting would it be, I thought then, if we all ended up trapped behind a pane of glass roiling with pixels? My instinct was only reaffirmed by a childhood friend’s widowed grandmother, who held onto the conviction that her husband was trying to communicate to her through her Dell’s wispy screen saver. She spent her evenings careful not to disturb the cursor, basking in her lover’s strange séance.’ [via jwz]
February 10, 2017
[tech] "Alexa…" — Stuart from Feeling Listless reviews the Amazon Echo/Dot. ‘Within a day of installation it had replaced the bell alarm clock which has woken me ever day since my 18th birthday with just a simple directive to play its space age sounding alarm at 6.45am each morning. I no longer get out of bed to tune to the Today programme on Radio Four. I’ll ask it for the news and it’ll play me the BBC radio headlines both from Radio 2 and the World Service. I’ll ask for NPR and I’ll receive the hourly bulletin from Washington. No need to check the BBC weather app either. Alexa knows how cold it is out there.’
January 5, 2017
[ai] Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People … some critical analysis by Maciej Cegłowski on the recent hype about the risks Artificial Inteilligence, the Singularity and Simulated Realities … ‘Every base reality can contain a vast number of nested simulations, and a simple counting argument tells us we’re much more likely to live in a simulated world than the real one. But if you believe this, you believe in magic. Because if we’re in a simulation, we know nothing about the rules in the level above. We don’t even know if math works the same way—maybe in the simulating world 2+2=5, or maybe 2+2=👹. A simulated world gives us no information about the world it’s running in. In a simulation, people could easily rise from the dead, if the sysadmin just kept the right backups. And if we can communicate with one of the admins, then we basically have a hotline to God. This is a powerful solvent for sanity. When you start getting deep into simulation world, you begin to go nuts.’
November 29, 2016
[tech] Secrets of the Little Blue Box … the text of Ron Rosenbaum’s fascinating 1971 article from Esquire magazine of his investigation into early phone phreaking … ‘People like Gilbertson and Alexander Graham Bell are always talking about ripping off the phone company and screwing Ma Bell. But if they were shown a single button and told that by pushing it they could turn the entire circuitry of A.T.&T. into molten puddles, they probably wouldn’t push it. The disgruntled-inventor phone phreak needs the phone system the way the lapsed Catholic needs the Church, the way Satan needs a God, the way The Midnight Skulker needed, more than anything else, response.’
November 2, 2016
[tect] The Oral History Of The Poop Emoji (Or, How Google Brought Poop To America) … the story of how the 💩 emoji came to be on your mobile phone … ‘I wrote the code and sent it to one of my colleagues who I had told before. I said, “I’m sneaking an animated poop into Gchat. I want you to review it. The title of the review is going be something really boring so no one will want to look at it.” The poop was submitted. I decided to wait until it went live all across the world before telling my manager. I watched and waited for it to reach 100%, praying that I didn’t break Gmail. If I broke Gmail for animated poop, people would be super mad. There were no problems!’
September 22, 2016
[tech ] The Doom of Your Memories Doesn’t Really Exist … On reinventing classic video games… ‘That’s what digital media does: it allows us to create alternate histories, versions of our gaming past that better match our heightened expectations. And as our expectations change, as our memories shift and gather junk data with age, so, too, can we return to our old passions with those shifts intact, remaking them to suit us. Brutal Doom recently added weapons from the new Doom, taking new ideas that seem appropriately Doom-y and rewriting them into the game’s past. There’s not just one Doom, or one Super Mario, or one Half-Life. As we modify and reimagine these games, we’ve created dozens, hundreds, each signifying an alternate version of videogaming’s past.’
September 15, 2016
[tech] People, Please Don’t Store Private Data in Your Address Book … Putting personal data in Smartphone address books is a terrible idea … ‘They know why people use these shortcuts, but Siegrist and Paradise emphasize that address books and plaintext notes apps put sensitive information at serious risk. And it’s not just some social security numbers, which would be bad enough. The two said that they’ve heard of people using their address books to store passwords, bank PINs, passport ID numbers, photos of passports, confidential work data, credit card numbers, financial account numbers, home security codes, and vault codes. It’s an address book, folks, not a magic data garden patrolled by dragons.’
August 23, 2016
[tech] Top 10 least-loved emojis … There are a lot of Emoji – and some are used more than others … ‘From the “what-were-they-thinking” department comes Lock with Ink Pen 🔏. Locks are good. Ink pens are good. So why are they together? Emojipedia speculates that it was meant to relate to cryptographic key signing in some way. This emoji feels like it escaped from the toolbar of Adobe Acrobat circa 1996.’
July 19, 2016
[life] How to stop your phone from distracting you and wasting your life‘Buy a travel alarm clock and charge outside the bedroom. Waking up to check our phone sets our day off to a bad start. Get a separate alarm clock and leave your phone outside to charge.’
July 4, 2016
[tech] How to Write a History of Writing Software … A look at the early history of Word Processing … ‘Another interesting story that’s in the book is about John Updike, who gets a Wang word processor at about the time Stephen King does, in the early 1980s. I was able to inspect the last typewriter ribbon that he used in the last typewriter he owned. A collector who had the original typewriter was kind enough to lend it to me. And you can read the text back off that typewriter ribbon—and you can’t make this stuff up, this is why it’s so wonderful to be able to write history—the last thing that Updike writes with the typewriter is a note to his secretary telling her that he won’t need her typing services because he now has a word processor.’
May 5, 2016
[internet] The Internet of Stings … from Tom Morris‘Every night you stay; I’ve hacked your Airbnb. I’ll be watching you, because I’ve put spyware on your laptop. Every smile you fake you post on Instagram.’
April 14, 2016
[tech] How the Ballpoint Pen Changed Handwriting … An interesting look at the history of the ballpoint pen and it’s role in the decline of cursive handwriting … ‘My fountain pen is a modern one, and probably not a great representation of the typical pens of the 1940s—but it still has some of the troubles that plagued the fountain pens and quills of old. I have to be careful where I rest my hand on the paper, or risk smudging my last still-wet line into an illegible blur. And since the thin ink flows more quickly, I have to refill the pen frequently. The ballpoint solved these problems, giving writers a long-lasting pen and a smudge-free paper for the low cost of some extra hand pressure.’
January 18, 2016
[magic] Seems Legit: We Talked to a Witch Who Casts Viruses Out of Computers With Magic‘There’s all different kinds of energies, including entities that may or may not be noticeable to human beings. You might want to call them ghosts or angels or spirits or demons. Think of demons as entities—they eat, they absorb energy, and they want to be fed. Computers are a vast store of electromagnetic energy, as well as messages. Sometimes when a demon is in a computer system, it’s just like a roach in a kitchen. It just eats and stays out of the way. But some demons are working for someone’s who’s trying to hurt you, and those are the really hard ones.’
January 13, 2016
[tech] Why Activists Wanted to Destroy Early GPS Satellites … fascinating story about an axe attack on an unlaunched GPS satellite in the 1990s and the motivations behind it … ‘GPS’ major media debut took place on the battlefield during the 1991 Gulf War, where GPS-guided cruise missiles took out Iraqi infrastructure and soldiers carried commercial GPS receivers (the system was still incomplete in 1991, and as a result all GPS operations during the Gulf War had to be coordinated within specific time windows to be sure there were enough satellites overhead). When explaining the Gulf War’s influence on the Brigade, Lumsdaine noted that “most of the civilian casualties of Operation Desert Storm came after the war because the infrastructure was targeted; the water, the electric lines, the generating stations. GPS was critical for taking out the electric grid of Iraq… with the electricity came repercussions with water filtration plans and so forth.” Crippling infrastructure is a long-term attack strategy, and GPS let the military enact it with ruthless precision.’
November 12, 2015
[tech] The Room Where the Internet Was Born … A visit to the place where the first messages over the internet were sent from … ‘In a strikingly accurate replica of the original IMP log (crafted by UCLA’s Fowler Museum of Cultural History) on one of the room’s period desks is a note taken at 10:30 p.m., 29 October, 1969—“talked to SRI, host to host.” In the note, there is no sense of wonder at this event—which marks the first message sent across the ARPANET, and the primary reason the room is now deemed hallowed ground.’