Welcome back! I hope you’re taking some time for mental health.
This week I worked on a lot of things behind the scenes. More to come soon.
I did receive my second COVID vaccine this week. Thank you to the health care workers who have been on the front lines.
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Alan Watts – The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
Alan Wilson Watts (6 January 1915 – 16 November 1973) was a well-known British philosopher, writer and speaker, best known for his interpretation of Eastern philosophy for Western audiences.
Whenever the world gets out of balance, we can revisit the wise words of Alan Watts to make sense of things.
Most diabolical things that are done, were done in the name of righteousness.
What Really Caused Facebook’s 500M-User Data Leak?
The personal details of more than 500 million Facebook users — including full names and phone numbers — were posted to an online forum earlier this week. Private data that was not listed in public profiles was also shared, including unique Facebook user ID numbers, user location information, job details, gender information and other details.
The leaked data was published on a public hacker forum and discovered by Alon Gal of Hudson Rock Security, who shared the news on Twitter. The hacked database appears to include nearly 533 million users across “all countries,” including 32.3 million people in the U.S. and 11.5 million in the U.K. Gal also noted that an anonymous hacker created a Telegram bot that could — for a fee — search the database for specific phone numbers.
HaveIBeenPwned is one of the best-known websites that tracks data breaches. Maintained by respected security researcher Troy Hunt, the site lets users legally search billions of records for email addresses, phone numbers and other personal information.
There are also a number of strategies you can employ to protect yourself from future Facebook breaches.
Youth rights’ digital upgrade: True cause for celebration
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has published a General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment.
Anne Collier indicates that now we have no excuse for not teaching our children their digital rights. Because this addendum to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is the first binding international document to spell out human rights concerning all things digital.
The case of the missing platform policies
Issues related to suicide and self-harm touch nearly every digital platform in some way. The internet is increasingly where people search, discuss, and seek support for mental health issues.
According to new research from the Stanford Internet Observatory, in many cases platforms have no policies related to discussion of self-harm or suicide at all.
In “Self-Harm Policies and Internet Platforms,” the authors surveyed 39 online platforms to understand their approach to these issues. They analyzed search engines, social networks, performance-oriented platforms like TikTok, gaming platforms, dating apps, and messaging apps. Some platforms have developed robust policies to cover the nuances of these issues. Many, though, have ignored them altogether.
Proctorio Is Using Racist Algorithms to Detect Faces
Proctorio, a piece of exam surveillance software designed to keep students from cheating while taking tests, relies on open-source software that has a history of racial bias issues, according to a report by Motherboard.
Akash Satheesan, a student researcher has reverse-engineered the controversial exam software—and discovered a tool infamous for failing to recognize non-white faces.
Satheesan recently published his findings in a series of blog posts. He describes how he analyzed the code behind Proctorio’s extension for the Chrome web browser and found that the file names associated with the tool’s facial detection function were identical to those published by OpenCV, an open-source computer vision software library.
A Tiny Particle’s Wobble Could Upend the Known Laws of Physics
On Wednesday, researchers with Fermilab, located just west of Chicago, announced that a result 20 years in the making could upend physicists‘ understanding of how the universe works.
Experiments with particles known as muons suggest that there are forms of matter and energy vital to the nature and evolution of the cosmos that are not yet known to science. Muons spin in a magnetic field, and other subatomic particles affect how they move. The stronger a magnetic field, the faster a muon wobbles. By observing the spin, scientists can measure how fast the muons are wobbling.
But when the experiment was run, researchers found that the muons might be ever so slightly more magnetic than theory predicts. The anomaly is small — just 2.5 parts in 1 billion — but it may be enough to require an explanation for what’s causing the faster wobble in the form of entirely new elementary particles. If that happened, it would challenge the Standard Model of particle physics, a rulebook for how the universe works.
Hubitat Elevation a smart home hub that keeps everything local
I’m in the process of stepping up my game when it comes to home automation and the development of a “smart home.”
I’ve been researching the options…and this week I purchased the Hubitat Elevation. More info coming soon on the process and experience.
It’s the tough things that we go through, hard things we go through, that get us to that point where we’re better and stronger than we’ve ever been.
Earl Simmons, DMX
A debate is raging over social media’s role in dividing us. Perhaps we should instead focus on systemic, deeply-rooted inequities.
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