David Cameron's porn-filter advisor arrested for possession of images of sexual abuse of children

Patrick Rock, a Thatcherite who served as special advisor to UK Prime Minister David Cameron and played an influential role in the Prime Minister's national Internet censorship plan, has been arrested for possession of images depicting the sexual abuse of children. The National Crime Agency is conducting forensic analysis of the computer networks at the Prime Minister's office/residence, Number 10 Downing Street. Read the rest

Podcast: Cold Equations and Moral Hazard

Here's a reading (MP3) of my latest Locus column, Cold Equations and Moral Hazard which considers the way that science fiction can manipulate our ideas about the technical necessity for human misery, and how that narrative can be hijacked for self-serving ends. Read the rest

Our Comrade the Electron: technology as centralizer

Maciej Cegłowski's Webstock 2014 talk is called OUR COMRADE THE ELECTRON, and it's an inspired rant about the relationship of technology to power and coercion. It asserts that the decentralizing of power attended by the growth of technology in the 1990s was a blip, and that the trend of technology will be to further centralization.

I disagree. I think that Cegłowski has conflated "technology" with "technology under neoliberalism" -- that the concentration of technology since the 1990s coincides with the creation of like the WTO and the abolition of things like the Glass–Steagall Act, and the overall concentration of wealth and power into fewer hands. Technology is related to centralized power, but it is not entirely the cause of it -- rather it is in a feedback loop with it, and the two fuel each other.

For me, the interesting question isn't "does technology centralize or doesn't it?" We've seen technology do both. For me, the interesting question is, "How can we make technology into a force for decentralization?"

There's a long-held view of the world that breaks it into "artsies and techies" -- the two cultures. From where I sit, though, the two cultures are "people who believe in finance" and "people who think finance is a corrupt and corrupting force in the world." All the interesting nerds I know make art, and all the interesting artists I know nerd out on technology. But the one thing that seems to separate us into two camps is whether we think the world of finance is a giant con game or a legit enterprise. Read the rest

Free download of danah boyd's must-read book "It's Complicated"

danah boyd has posted a free PDF of the full text of her must-read book It's Complicated, the best book about young people and the Internet I've read to date. boyd hopes you'll enjoy the book and then support her and her publisher by buying a copy, sending a signal "that this book is important, that the message in the book is valuable." Read the rest

Cola-flavored soy-milk

Exactly what it sounds like: 46 calories per 200ml. Read the rest

Photos of colorful sunsets and cute kitties will drain your bank account

.picture { background-color: #FFFFFF; font: 12px/1.5em Arial; color:#888888; sans-serif; } .picture img { vertical-align:middle; margin-bottom: 3px; } .right { margin: 0.5em 0pt 0.5em 0.8em; float:right; } .left { margin: 0.5em 0.8em 0.5em 0; float:left; } Image appended with the list of targeted institutions

Trend Micro’s security analysts have recently discovered that images of sunsets (and some cats) being shared on the Internet are carrying malware that can hack into bank accounts and begin drawing funds.

The ZBOT malware, detected as TSPY_ZBOT.TFZAH, downloads a JPEG file into the affected system without the user’s knowledge. The user does not even see this particular image, but if someone did happen to see it it would look like an ordinary photo. We encountered an image of a sunset, but other security researchers reported encountering a cat image. (This particular photo appears to have been lifted from popular photo-sharing sites, as it appears in these sites if you search for sunset.)

Using steganography, a list of banks and financial institutions that will be monitored is hidden inside the image. The list includes institutions from across the globe, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. Once the user visits any of the listed sites, the malware will proceed to steal information such as user credentials.

Read the rest

You Are Not So Smart podcast 019: Placebo sleep and other new discoveries in placebo research

You are Not So Smart is hosted by David McRaney, a journalist and self-described psychology nerd. In each episode, David explores cognitive biases and delusions, and is often joined by a guest expert.

How powerful is the placebo effect? After a good night’s sleep could a scientist convince you that you had tossed and turned, and if so, how would that affect your perceptions and behavior? What if a doctor told you that you had slept like a baby when in reality you had barely slept at all? Would hearing those words improve your performance on a difficult test?

In this episode we learn the answers to these questions and more as we explore how research continues to unravel the mysteries behind the placebo effect and how it can drastically alter our bodies and minds.

This episode of You Are Not So Smart is brought to you by:

Squarespace, the all-in-one platform that makes it fast and easy to create you own professional website or online portfolio. For a free trial and ten percent off go to Squarespace.com and use the offer code DUMDUM.

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Suspicionless searches at US border: the next battleground for press freedom

Border agents detain American citizens for hours and seize laptops and phones without evidence or suspicion, Moreover, reports Trevor Timm, journalists are a frequent target.

Arduino for Beginners, by John Baichtal

John Baichtal is a contributor to MAKE online, and is good at explaining complex things to newbies. He's put this talent to use in his new book, Arduino for Beginners, which assumes nothing from the reader except for a willingness to learn. (Arduino is a inexpensive electronic prototyping platform.)

The Arduino projects in the book are presented in full color: a laser/infrared trip beam to protect your home from intruders, a Bluetooth doorbell, an LED strip coffee table, a plant-watering robot, an ultrasonic cat toy, a bubble-blowing robot, and more.

The book goes far beyond teaching you how to make cool things with Arduino. His chapter on maker tools (hand tools, power tools, laser cutters, 3D printers, design software, etc.) alone is worth the price of the book. Read the rest

Hair rental club for men

In the 1970s, British men could (apparently) rent hair. Unless this is a parody ad that has lost its context -- does anyone know?

Update: Mark beat me to this, posting about it in 2012! Sorry, Mark!

you know it makes sense! o rly? Read the rest

The greatest synths

John Twells tallies the synthesizers that shaped modern music. tl;dr: Minimoog, Odyssey, Prophet-5, Fairlight, PPG Wave, Juno, Yamaha's CS-80 and DX7, and Korg's MS-20, M1 and Triton. Oh, yes, and Roland's 303 and 101. [via MeFi, where a good tally of travestatious omissions accrues] Read the rest

HOWTO make a solderless circuit

Phil Torrone and Limor Fried send us the latest episode of Collin's Lab: "Learn how to bring a circuit from schematic to reality using a solderless breadboard - then make it permanent by reincarnating your circuit on sturdy perfboard."

Collin's Lab: Breadboards & Perfboards Read the rest

The return of Hannibal Lecter

Mikkelsen's civilized serial killer returns for another season of Hannibal. Theresa DeLucci takes a bite out of the show's mad metaphors.

The Godfather locations, then and now

Scouting New York visited the New York filming locations of The Godfather (1972) to see how they look today. Top, Don Corleone gunned down outside Genco (128 Mott Street), and that location now. "The New York Filming Locations of The Godfather, Then and Now" (via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

A bedroom of books

A bedroom of books, provenance unknown. From the inspiring Instagram feed of The Academy New York.

UPDATE: BB reader Bryan McGovern tells us that this is the library room at Mildred's Lane, an artists' residence and museum near Beach Lake, PA. Read the rest

Python beats and eats crocodile

A python bested a crocodile in an epic battle at Lake Moondarra in Queensland, Australia. After the victory, the snake celebrated by eating his foe. More foodie photos by onlooker Marvin Muller at The Age. Read the rest

Full NHS hospital records uploaded to Google servers, "infinitely worse" story to come

PA Consulting, a management consulting firm, obtained the entire English and Welsh hospital episode statistics database and uploaded it to Google's Bigquery service. The stats filled 27 DVDs and took "a couple of weeks" to transfer to Google's service, which is hosted in non-EU data centres. This is spectacularly illegal. The NHS dataset includes each patient's NHS number, post code, address, date of birth and gender, as well as all their inpatient, outpatient and emergency hospital records. Google's Bigquery service allows for full data-set sharing with one click.

The news of the breach comes after the collapse of a scheme under which the NHS would sell patient records to pharma companies, insurers and others (there was no easy way to opt out of the scheme, until members of the public created the independent Fax Your GP service).

According to researcher and epidemiologist Ben Goldacre, this story is just the beginning: there's an "infinitely worse" story that is coming shortly. Read the rest

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