In 60 seconds, security researchers can clone the master hotel-room keys for 140,000 hotels in 160 countries

The Vingcard Vision locks are RFID-based hotel locks; at this week's Infiltrate conference in Miami, Tomi Tuominen and Timo Hirvonen from F-Secure will present a method for combining a $300 Proxmark RFID tool with any discarded key from a given hotel to derive the master keys that allow them to unlock every room in the hotel, a process that takes less than 60 seconds. Read the rest

Prof says he'll grade students on a curve, so they organize a boycott of the exams and all get As

Johns Hopkins Computer Science prof Professor Peter Fröhlich grades his students on a curve: the highest score on the final gets an A and everyone else is graded accordingly. Read the rest

What, today, would most delight a serious Joni Mitchell fan? (Other than a new album?)

How about a whole album full of 11 excellent songs you’ve never heard before, which Joni wrote between 1964 and 1969 but never got around to recording.....sung by an excellent singer....with expert tasteful backup....including the first song she ever wrote, “Hunter,” which until now had appeared on a handful of early unreleased test-pressings of BLUE? Songs so good, they all sound like just-discovered outtakes from SONG TO A SEAGULL—which is basically what they are? How ‘bout, all this for only a sawbuck, US? (or $13 for a physical CD)

IoT Inspector: Princeton releases a tool to snoop on home IoT devices and figure out what they're doing

IoT Inspector is a new tool from Princeton's computer science department; it snoops on the traffic from home IoT devices and performs analysis to determine who they phone home to, whether they use encryption, and what kinds of data they may be leaking. Read the rest

Kickstarting a playable version of the CIA's previously secret training card-game

When Freedom of Information Act enthusiast Douglas Palmer used public records requests to explore the games that the CIA uses to train its analysts, he laid the groundwork for republishing these games for general use. Read the rest

Tonight in LA: Cory at the Last Bookstore (then Chapel Hill, Boston, Chicago, Waterloo, Phoenix, Santa Fe, San Jose...)

Tonight at 7PM, I'll be appearing on a panel at the Last Bookstore in downtown LA, with the title "Truth to Power: Genre Fiction in Post-Fact America," alongside of Gretchen McNeil, Jennifer Brody, Christina Cigala, Bobby Goldstein, CB Lee, Michael Paul Gonzalez, Kate Maruyama and Samuel Sattin. Read the rest

2,000+ awesome hieroglyphs, coming soon to Unicode

Unicode pioneer Michael Suignard has submitted a "Revised draft for the encoding of an extended Egyptian Hieroglyphs repertoire" in Unicode, trying to replicate the expressivity of the 7,000 hieroglyphs used in Greco/Roman times. Read the rest

Family-owned Smugmug acquires Flickr, rescuing it from the sinking post-Yahoo ship

Flickr exists, in part, because I needed a photo-sharing tool to help me woo my long-distance girlfriend, who later became my wife, and whom I've been with now for 15 years -- so I have watched the service's long decline and neglect at the hands of Yahoo, and then its sale to the loathsome telco Verizon, with sorrow. Read the rest

Romance writers sought for library residency at my former Toronto workplace

I was a teenaged page at the North York Central Library in suburban Toronto, working in the Business and Urban Affairs section, shelving books, taping together newspapers while we waited for their microfilm versions to arrive, and fiddling around with the newly installed (and poorly documented) computerised catalogue/lending system -- I worked there with many other would-be writers, like Nalo Hopkinson, who was a public service clerk a few floors down. Read the rest

Arizona is about to get its first statewide teachers' strike

The contagion is spreading: Arizona is the latest red state where teachers -- backed by immense public sympathy -- are staging first-of-its-kind state walkout, protesting against the very idea of neoliberal austerity, recognizing that with the GOP running their state and their nation, that the problem is Republicanism, not some local phenomenon. Read the rest

Wells Fargo loses teachers' union business after it pledges its eternal loyalty to gun manufacturers

Last week, Wells Fargo defiantly announced that it would not follow its competitors' examples and cease lending to gun manufacturers; this week, the American Federation of Teachers dropped Wells Fargo as the preferred mortgage lender for its 1.7 million members. Read the rest

'Walmart yodeling kid' becomes a one-up action figure

Remember Mason Ramsey, the 11-year-old yodeler who was discovered in an Illinois Walmart? Well, now thanks to artist Dano Brown, the "Walmart yodeling kid" has become an action figure. You won't find this "Walmart Legend" being sold at the chain though, because it's not mass produced. It's a one-of-a-kind piece of art. There is just this one single Mason Ramsey action figure available and you can go to eBay to bid on it (currently at $410).

If these one-up action figures are your thing, be sure to check out Dano's other works on his Instagram feed. Read the rest

Terms of Service; Didn't Read: a browser add-on that warns you about the terrible fine-print you're about to "agree" to

ToS;dr is a crowdsourced database of website terms of service; install the associate plugin and your browser will display a letter grade (from A to F) for every site you visit, with subcategories for things like data-retention and the rights the site asserts to your contributions. Read the rest

Stego for Skrillex: hiding data in dubstep drops

Ben Cartwright-Cox observed that he could modulate the bass frequencies in electronic dance music/dubstep in a way that was easy to detect with a signal processor and inaudible to his unaided ears, so he wrote some code to hide messages in the wubwubwub. Read the rest

Security expert says she helped a casino whose high-roller database was stolen through an Internet of Shit fish-tank thermometer

Darktrace CEO Nicole Eagan's presentation to last week's WSJ CEO Council Conference in London included an anaecdote about an unnamed casino for whom her firm had done work; they uncovered a data-breach in which an insecure Internet of Things thermometer in the casino's lobby was used to gain access to the internal network, from which vantage the attackers were able to extract and steal a database of high rollers. Read the rest

Self-powering camera: an image sensor that's also a photovoltaic cell

A team of University of Michigan electrical engineering/computer science researchers have published a paper (Sci-Hub mirror) detailing their work in creating a camera sensor (a device that converts light to electricity) that's also a solar power cell (also a device that converts light to electricity). Read the rest

When your dental insurer sends you a "free" Internet of Shit toothbrush

Wolf Richter's dental insurer sent his family a free "smart" toothbrush that records how often and how well you brush, using a set of proprietary consumables to clean your teeth. Read the rest

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