Squirrels are vastly more harmful to the world's power grids than "the cyber" is

Of 1700+ known acts of global power-grid sabotages, affecting some 5,000,000 people, 879 were caused by squirrels; between 0 and 1 were caused by Russia, and another 1 was caused by the USA (Stuxnet). Read the rest

Portal for the Apple ][+, //e and related systems

Vince Weaver is reimplementing Portal -- "the cake acquisition simulator released in 2007" -- to the Apple II series of computers, bit by bit -- inspired by the fact that the Apple II hires mode has "the perfect Aperture Science orange and blue colors." He's released a disc image of the game in Apple Basic, as well as sourcecode. Read the rest

How to organize a volunteer-based, radical new form of American politics

Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything is a book by Bernie Sanders advisor Becky Bond and netroots pioneer Zack Exley. Read the rest

Send Chelsea Manning a hug with #hugsforchelsea

Evan from Fight for the Future writes, "Chelsea Manning saw injustice and stood up for what's right. Now, she's serving a 35 year sentence in an all-male military prison, and has faced systematic abuse. But now there's hope! President Obama has reportedly put her on a "short list" of candidates for a possible commutation. we need to show how much support Chelsea has right now, so people are posting photos with their arms outstretched, to tell POTUS they want Chelsea Manning free, so we can all give her a hug. Post your own photos to #HugsForChelsea and we'll add them to the gallery!" Read the rest

How a law prof got a judge to rule that speeding cam tickets are unenforceable

Adam MacLeod is an associate law prof at Faulkner Christian University in Montgomery, Alabama: when he received a speeding ticket generated by a traffic camera for a time when he knew he hadn't been driving his car (he'd been lecturing at the moment when the picture was snapped), he decided he would fight it to the bitter end. Read the rest

Bruce Sterling on dieselpunk, alternate history, fascism and the current political moment

In November, Bruce Sterling published "Pirate Utopia," a dieselpunk novella set in the real, historical, bizarre moment in which the city of Fiume became an autonomous region run by artists and revolutionaries, whose philosophies ran the gamut from fascism to anarcho-syndicalism to socialism. Read the rest

Judge rules that winning casino baccarat by taking note of asymmetries in card-backs is cheating

In July 2012, professional poker-player Phil Ivey won $4.8M from the baccarat tables at Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 17 hours; on other occasions, he took a total of $9M out of the Borgata: he did it by asking the house to deal Gemaco Borgata cards, whose backs contained minute asymmetries in their patterns. By asking the dealer to turn some cards upside down, Ivey's partner, Cheng Yin Sun, was able to track them as they moved through the deck. Read the rest

Houseguests, technological literacy, and the goddamned wifi: a single chart

Randal Munroe nails it again in an XKCD installment that expresses the likelihood that your houseguests will be able to connect to your wifi (I confess to having been the "firmware" guide -- but also, having been reminded to do something about my own firmware when other difficult houseguests came to stay). Read the rest

Carmen Ortiz, the prosecutor who hounded Aaron Swartz, is retiring

Reed writes, "Carmen Ortiz, the US Federal Attorney for the state of Massachusetts who was responsible for the death of EFF member Aaron Swartz, recently announced her retirement. For those who don't recall the case, Swartz committed suicide following an unlawful and vindictive prosecution, undertaken only to enhance Ortiz's career as being 'tough on white collar crime' and 'lawless hackers'. Read the rest

James O'Keefe caught trying to bribe protesters to riot at Trump inauguration

James O'Keefe is the Breitbart-affiliated fraudster and fake news pioneer who staged the hoax videos about Acorn and Planned Parenthood that disrupted the last two election cycles; his MO is to dress up in disguises and then attempt to trick progressives into saying damning things on camera (he's not very good at it, having been rumbled by both CNN and Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky). Read the rest

Indicted Dieselgate VW execs advised not to leave Germany, lest they be extradited to the USA

The five Volkswagen executives who were criminally charged in the USA for their role in the Dieselgate scandal have been advised not to travel to the USA because they are liable to arrest there: they've also been told that leaving Germany is risky because they might be arrested and extradited to the USA. Read the rest

EFF's guide to talking to your Congresscritter

EFF Legislative Counsel Ernesto Falcon has posted an excellent, practical guide to talking to your member of Congress -- how to do it, how to maximize your efficiency, and why you should. Read the rest

Whatsapp: Facebook's ability to decrypt messages is a "limitation," not a "defect"

Facebook spokespeople and cryptographers say that Facebook's decision to implement Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end cryptographic messaging protocol in such a way as to allow Facebook to decrypt them later without the user's knowledge reflects a "limitation" -- a compromise that allows users to continue conversations as they move from device to device -- and not a "defect." Read the rest

It turns out that halfway clever phishing attacks really, really work

A new phishing attack hops from one Gmail account to the next by searching through compromised users' previous emails for messages with attachments, then replies them from the compromised account, replacing the link to the attachment with a lookalike that sends you to a fake Google login page (they use some trickery to hide the fake in the location bar); the attackers stand by and if you enter your login/pass, they immediately seize control of your account and attack your friends. Read the rest

A critical flaw (possibly a deliberate backdoor) allows for decryption of Whatsapp messages -- UPDATED

Update: Be sure to read the followup discussion, which explains Facebook's point of view, that this is a deliberate compromise, and not a defect, that makes the app more usable for a wide variety of users, while putting them to little additional risk (namely, that Facebook might change its mind; or be forced to spy on its users; or suffer a security breach or internal rogue employee).

When Facebook implemented Open Whisper Systems' end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol for Whatsapp, they introduced a critical flaw that exposes more than a billion users to stealthy decryption of their private messages: in Facebook's implementation, the company can force Whatsapp installations to silently generate new cryptographic keys (without any way for the user to know about this unless a deep settings checkbox had been ticked), which gives the company the ability to decrypt user messages, including messages that have already been sent in the past.. Read the rest

Baratunde Thurston explains why encryption matters

Rainey from EFF writes, "EFF just launched a new video about its efforts to encrypt the web. It features bestselling author Baratunde Thurston explaining why encryption matters and two simple ways to ensure the web we love is encrypted." Read the rest

Inside this Star Wars blanket's box, a card informing you that you've just waived your right to sue

When you open the box for a Storm Trooper snuggie blanket, you'll discover a card telling you that by buying the blanket, you've waived your right to sue the manufacturer and will subject yourself to binding arbitration if your blanket gives you cancer or burns you to death or any of the other bad things textiles can do. Read the rest

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