Real estate title insurance company exposed 885,000,000 customers' records, going back 16 years: bank statements, drivers' licenses, SSNs, and tax records

First American Financial Corp is a Fortune 500 company that insures titles on peoples' property; their insecure website exposed 885,000,000 records for property titles, going back 16 years, including bank accounts (with scanned statements), Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, scanned drivers' licenses, tax records, mortgage records, etc -- when notified of the error, the company (which employs 18,000 people and grossed more than $5.7B last year) closed the misconfiguration. Read the rest

The Digital Public Library of America has re-released the Mueller Report as a well-formatted ebook instead of a crappy PDF

Back in April, Andrew Albanese from Publishers Weekly wrote a column deploring the abysmal formatting in the DoJ's release of the Mueller Report, and publicly requesting that the Digital Public Library of America produce well-formatted ebook editions, which they have now done! Read the rest

A(nother) Lego Turing machine

Making a Turing machine is a kind of nerd rite of passage, like manually editing your X11 settings or building a two-second time-machine. As far back as 2005, we were chronicling the adventures of Lego Turing-machine builders (the state of the art advanced rather a lot by 2012), as well as the ongoing effort to attain Turing completeness in wood and also baked goods. Read the rest

On the visual miracle of "slit-scan" video

Hashimoto Baku ("a Tokyo based video director/visual artist/developer") digs into fascinating depth on the "slit-scan" technique: "[imagine] a quite thick flipbook that all frames of a video are bound page by page. If you just rifle through it, the original video will be just played. Slit-scan intrinsically means slicing the flipbook diagonally." Read the rest

Germany demands an end to working cryptography

Germany's Interior Minister Horst Seehofer -- a hardliner who has called for cameras at every "hot spot" in Germany -- has announced that he will seek a ban on working cryptography in Germany; he will insist that companies only supply insecure tools that have a backdoor that will allow the German state to decrypt messages and chats on demand. Read the rest

Comcast fights shareholder call for lobbying transparency, saying that it would be "burdensome" to reveal how much it spends lobbying states

A group of Quaker investors called Friends Fiduciary have introduced a shareholder motion that was backed by the owners of more than a million Comcast shares, calling on the company to voluntarily disclose its state-level lobbying activities; the company strenuously objects to making such disclosures, calling the measure an "unnecessary burden." Read the rest

Terminator bookends and tankard

The bookends ($79) are the clear winner here, but the robot hand tankard ($58) is pretty sweet too; they're made of painted resin (with a stainless steel insert in the tankard), pre-order now for July shipping. (via Geekologie) Read the rest

Fellowships to fund work on a "Human-Centric Internet"

Edgeryders -- "a company living in symbiosis with an online community of thousands of hackers, activists, radical thinkers and doers, and others who want to make a difference" -- is offering up to EUR10,000 bursaries (along with travel subsidies) for fellows who are contributing to its work on an "Human-Centric Internet." The deadline to apply is May 30. Read the rest

Study attributes mysterious rise in CFC emissions to eastern Chinese manufacturing

A new study reported in Nature (Sci-Hub mirror) tracks down the origins of the mysterious rise in CFC-11, a banned ozone-depleting greenhouse gas whose rise was first reported a year ago, and blames the increase on manufacturing in eastern China. Read the rest

Big Tech: "If the USA enforces antitrust laws against us, it means China will win!"

Mark Zuckerberg offered to let Chinese premier Xi Jinping name his firstborn (seriously), Apple purged the Chinese App Store of privacy tools at the request of the politburo; Google secretly built a censoring search-engine for use in China, but America's Big Tech companies are sounding the alarm that they will no longer be able to promote America's global dominance if any of the US Big Tech breakup plans are executed. Read the rest

Federal lawsuit calls college textbook/ebook packages a "scam"

The Virginia Pirate Corporation is a startup that brokers sales of used textbooks at colleges; they're suing North Charleston, SC's Trident Technical College over its inclusion of textbook fees in tuition, meaning that students will have already paid for new textbooks when they pay their tuition. Read the rest

To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

Mountain View -- home to some of Silicon Valley's most profitable companies, including Google -- is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region. Read the rest

Los Angeles! Come see me at Exposition Park library tonight talking about Big Tech, monopolies, mind control and the right of technological self-determination

From 6PM-730PM tonight (Thursday, May 23), I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what we can do about it. It's part of the LA Public Library's "Book to Action" program and it's free to attend -- I hope to see you there! Read the rest

The Oliver Twist workhouse is becoming a block of luxury flats with a "poor door"

The incredible human misery on display at the workhouse attached to central London's Middlesex Hospital inspired Charles Dickens to write "Oliver Twist"; now, Camden council has granted a developer permission to develop the site into luxury flats (just in time for the luxury flat crash!), in exchange for a commitment to build some below-market-rent social housing flats, which will be accessible through "poor doors." Read the rest

The Reality Bubble: how humanity's collective blindspots render us incapable of seeing danger until it's too late (and what to do about it)

Ziya Tong is a veteran science reporter who spent years hosting Discovery's flagship science program, Daily Planet: it's the sort of job that gives you a very broad, interdisciplinary view of the sciences, and it shows in her debut book, The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape Our World, a tour of ten ways in which our senses, our society, and our political system leads us to systematically misunderstand the world, to our deadly detriment. Read the rest

Nominations are open for EFF's Barlow/Pioneer Awards

Every year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation presents its Pioneer Awards (previously); now renamed the Barlow Award in honor of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, who died last year. Read the rest

Exploitation of workers becomes more socially acceptable if the workers are perceived as "passionate" about their jobs

In a new paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a team from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found that people look more favorably on exploiting workers (making do "extra, unpaid, demeaning work") if the workers are "passionate" about their jobs. Read the rest

More posts