Incentives matter: after back surgery, a routine urine test resulted in a $17,800 bill the patient was expected to pay

At a followup visit a year after Elizabeth Moreno had a disk removed to successfully treat her crippling pain, her doctor asked her to leave a urine sample; a few months later, Sunset Labs LLC of Houston sent her a bill for $17,800. Read the rest

The intrinsic comedy of a self-inflating airplane emergency escape slide

Read the rest

FDAAA Trials Tracker: leaderboard for pharma companies that break FDA clinical trial rules

Ben Goldacre (previously) led a team that created the FDAAA Trials Tracker, "A live informatics tool to monitor compliance with FDA requirements to report clinical trial results." Read the rest

A crypto primer in the form of Ikea instructions

"Idea-instructions" bills itself as "An ongoing series of nonverbal algorithm assembly instructions", with a half-dozen illustrations of popular computer science concepts covered to date; the latest covers Public-Key Crypto, one of the most important and elusive concepts from modern crypto. Read the rest

Once again, a stalkerware company's had its servers pwned and wiped by a hacker who thinks they're selling an immoral product

It's been less than a year since a public-spirited hacker broke into the servers of Florida stalkerware vendor Retina-X, wiping out all the photos and data the company's customers had stolen from other peoples' phones (including their kids' phones) by installing the spying apps Phonesheriff on them. Read the rest

The DHS's "Active Shooter" printable wallet card, for when "thoughts and prayers" fail

When in trouble, Or in doubt, Run in circles, Scream and shout. Read the rest

Surge-taxing Uber as a way relieve urban congestion

Every city where Uber and Lyft have found a foothold has also faced impossible congestion in the city center; Felix Salmon says this is because drivers are incentivized to come to the city-center despite the traffic (because that's where the fares are) and riders are incentivized to skip public transit when there are a lot of cars around to hail with their apps. Read the rest

AT&T's 1993 "You Will" ads, the rightest wrong things ever predicted about the internet

In 1993, AT&T ran a series of ads trumpeting the future of the internet, called "You Will." Read the rest

Debullshitifying Uber's financial statement reveals a hemorrhaging fountain of red ink with no path to profitability

Uber trumpeted its Q4/2017 financial statements as evidence of the company's progress towards CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's goal of profitability and IPO by 2019; the company argued that despite losing $4.5 billion in 2017, its cust-cutting in the final quarter of the year was proof that they would eventually go from losing money on each ride to actually earning money. Read the rest

New York Federal judge rules that embedding tweets can violate copyright law

Katherine Forrest, an Obama-appointed federal judge in New York, has overturned a bedrock principle of internet law, ruling that embedding a copyrighted work can constitute a copyright infringement on the part of the entity doing the embedding. Read the rest

Fedex bought a company that stored 119,000 pieces of scanned customer IDs in a public Amazon cloud server, shut the company down, left the scans online for anyone to download

Fedex acquired a company called Bongo International in 2014; Bongo specialized in helping North American companies sell overseas and after the acquisition, Fedex renamed the company FedEx Cross-Border International. Read the rest

The 2018 Locus Poll is open: choose your favorite science fiction of 2017!

Following the publication of its editorial board's long-list of the best science fiction of 2017, science fiction publishing trade-journal Locus now invites its readers to vote for their favorites in the annual Locus Award. I'm honored to have won this award in the past, and doubly honored to see my novel Walkaway on the short list, and in very excellent company indeed. Read the rest

How Google's Sidewalk Labs has outmaneuvered Toronto in its bid to build a "smart city"

Alphabet division Sidewalk Labs (a sister company to Google) is poised to spend $50,000,000 to redevelop a piece of Toronto waterfront called Quayside, filling it with "modular, dynamic" buildings that can be reconfigured as their uses change, data-gathering sensors that will help Sidewalk refine its own products and also allow Quayside to tune its zoning, usage, and management from moment to moment, as well as a new Google headquarters and a bunch of startups, and "affordable" micro-apartments starting at 162 square feet. Read the rest

Wells Fargo admits it ripped off its customers, creates low-response-rate opt-in system for its victims to get paid back

Wells Fargo has admitted wrongdoing in defrauding 110,000 mortgage borrowers, and to make good on it, they're sending out letters that look like junk-mail, containing a form that customers have to fill in to confirm that they want their stolen money back; if Wells doesn't get a reply, it will assume that those customers are donating their settlements back to the bank's shareholders. Read the rest

Excellent explainer: how consensus algorithms (including Bitcoin/blockchain) work

The creation of "public ledgers" -- like blockchain, popularized by Bitcoin -- requires "consensus algorithms" that allow mutually untrusted, uncoordinated parties to agree on a world-readable, distributed list of things (domain names, transactions, title deeds, etc), something that cryptography makes possible in a variety of ways. Read the rest

FCC opens corruption investigation into Ajit Pai, who likes to joke about being a corporate puppet

Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's tenure has been marked by a disregard for the rules under which his agency is legally bound to operate: his Net Neutrality killing order was made without satisfying the evidentiary burden required by law, on the basis of laughable lies (including more than a million fake anti-Neutrality comments from bots pretending to be dead people, nonexsitent people and people who support Net Neutrality) that even his own agency knew to be false, then stonewalling law enforcement attempts to identify the botmasters -- no surprise that Pai's Neutracide is going to be tied up in court for years. Read the rest

The independent experts who favorably evaluated Facebook's "Messenger Kids" were funded by Facebook

When Facebook rolled out "Messenger Kids," an IM product aimed at the 6-and-up set, it trumpeted that during the product's 18-month development cycle, it had been evaluated by child development experts in order to "safeguard" the young children it was targeting from harm. Read the rest

More posts