Tag Archives: Weather

The Apocalypticon ~ Data miners, power, weather, IT creeps, bacteria, bullets


Big Data gets you … really — Facebook’s VPN Service Onavo Protect collects personal data, and does so even when it’s switched off! Security researcher Will Strafach took a look at Onavo Protect, the newly released VPN service from Facebook:
He found that Onavo Protect uses a Packet Tunnel Provider app extension to do this. [First, why would anyone trust a VPN service by Facebook, and secondly, is anyone surprised?] But YouTube is full of nazi propaganda, and arch data-miner Google has partnered with the United States Department of Defense to help the agency develop artificial intelligence for analysing drone footage. [Yeah, now we all feel safer.]

Two million Americans lost power after ‘bomb cyclone’ — Tens of thousands of utility workers in the Northeast raced to restore power to more than 1.5 million homes and businesses just days after a powerful nor’easter caused flooding and wind damage from Virginia to Maine… Flood waters had receded in most areas, but the storm took out huge chunks out the coastline in Massachusetts and other states. [Trump will no doubt blame Mexicans, or Hilary.]

IT staff undercover: FBI recruiting at Best Buy — Questions were raised last year about whether FBI agents were actively recruiting technicians at Best Buy’s Geek Squad to search for illegal content on customer devices. According to newly released documents, however, prior reports only scratched the surface: Best Buy’s ties with the FBI appear more complex than once surmised.
On February 28, the Australian Federal Police paid the Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Melbourne headquarters a visit after it was alleged the weather organisation’s “powerful computers” were being used for crypto-mining purposes. And want to know why everything gets hacked all the time? Staff shortages, apparently.
Sobbing Shkreli — Back in September, “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli said he wouldn’t spend a single day in prison. He was wrong. Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison on March 10th by US District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto at a hearing in Brooklyn. Shkreli was sobbing when he told the judge that he’s “not the same person [he] once was”. Right: it wasn’t a great sign for Shkreli when his own lawyer said in court that there were times he wanted to punch Shkreli in the face. [Like only at least two million other people.]

Ocean shite — It’s polluted, germ-filled sludge, not sharks, that will make going to the beach more dangerous than just staying home – at least according to a cleverly titled review published this week in the International Journal of Epidemiology. There is a significant increase in the risk of ear and gut ailments in those who are exposed to bathing waters. [Yes, avoid New Zealand’s ‘pristine’ beaches, that’s for sure. Hottest summer ever and no swimming!]
But hey, there can be a good side to poo — at least when it’s from penguins. After noticing telltale guano streaks on satellite imagery, an international team of researchers set out to count the number of penguins on Antarctica’s aptly named Danger Islands. They found a previously undetected supercolony of over 1.5 million Adélie penguins – a surprising result, given how poorly these aquatic birds are doing just 161km away.
And speaking of bacteria, our Superior Being Elon Musk might just mess up another panel thanks to bacteria he launched into space on his stupid vanity project. If his Tesla Roadster wasn’t sterilised before SpaceX launched it, scientists at Purdue said Musk’s car could turn harmful if it crashes into a planet like Mars.

Bullets are bad — really really bad. Trauma surgeons who have worked on injuries inflicted by military-style weapons want to call attention not to the exact model of the rifle, but the size and speed of the bullets they fire. To put it short: the resulting injuries are grotesque. But the White House is more concerned about video games. [Mind you, some of this is utterly revolting. on the good side, this is not reality, it just looks like it.]

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Futurology ~ Planets, Mars, probes, seafloor, robots, weather and mass extinctions


The Rosetta probe is having its comet-ride closest to the sun
The Rosetta probe is having its comet-ride closest to the sun

‘Young Jupiter’ — Astronomers from Stanford and the Kavli Institute have discovered a new exoplanet orbiting 51 Eridani that strongly resembles a young Jupiter. They say its similarities could help us to understand how our own solar system formed. It’s a convenient discovery, because 51 Eridani is less than 100 light-years away, and only about 20 million years old.
~ Phew, it’s still youthful! 

Rosetta probe now in serious tanning range — The European Space Agency has released pictures taken by the Rosetta probe at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko as it reached its closest approach to the Sun. The comet has now travelled 750 million kilometers since Rosetta arrived, and the increased solar radiation has caused ices to sublimate and created jets of gas.
~ Break out the sunblock! You are at perihelion!

Mars One still completely full of s__t — After watching a two-hour debate on the feasibility of the Mars One mission last night, Maddie Stone thinks she finally understands its problem. “It’s not that the company is broke. It’s that we don’t yet have the technology to sustain human life on Mars, and Mars One still won’t admit it.”
~ That’s fighting’ talk. But basically, if you go there, you will die, but you might not even make it as you might die on the way. Not really selling it, Mars One.

Hubble might soon look like a toy — The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which will be “in many ways a hundred times” more capable than Hubble, isn’t launching until 2018, but already astrophysicists are thinking about its successor. They’re calling it the High Definition Space Telescope (HDST) which would have a 12-metre segmented mirror.
~ I actually already have toys that look like toys – much cheaper.

PinataDigital seafloor map can help in climate change predicting — We know less about the deep ocean than we do about the surface of Mars. But if we want to really understand how humans are impacting the Earth, we need to start looking deep into the murk. That’s why scientists created the first digital map of the seafloor’s geologic composition. The latest map, published in the journal Geology, is the first to describe the diverse sedimentary composition of the seafloor. And that’s important, because patterns in sediments can help scientists unravel past environmental changes and predict our planet’s future.
~ But it looks like a piñata. And it missed New Zealand again. 

Universal language — We know a lot about language but we know relatively little about how speech developed. Most linguists agree a combination of movement and sound like grunts and pointing probably got us started, but how we decided which sounds to use for different words remains a mystery. Now, an experimental game has shown that speakers of English might use qualities like the pitch and volume of sounds to describe concepts like size and distance when they invent new words. If true, some of our modern words may have originated from so-called iconic, rather than arbitrary, expression—a finding that would overturn a key theory of language evolution.
~ And you were hoping it was love …

Cheap, 3D-printed stethoscope challenges top model — Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician working in the Gaza strip, has 3D-printed a 30-cent stethoscope that beats the world’s best $200 equivalent as part of a project to bottom-out the cost of medical devices. It out performed the gold-standard Littmann Cardiology 3. They now intend to make a range of ultra-low cost medical devices for the developing world.
~ Yay! I can hardly wait for the affordable pulse oximeter. And also to know what that is.

Robot builds robots, learns and builds better ones — An experiment was carried out at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with ETH Zurich, and the results were published in the journal PLOS One. A mother bot (a big robotic arm) designed, built, and tested “generations” of ten “kids”: tiny, cube-shaped bots. The mother used what it observed in each experiment to churn out even better-performing offspring the next go-around.
~ I think the best response is ‘oh shit’.

Robo-Weather — Microsoft researchers Ashish Kapoor and Eric Horvitz are using machine learning to make more accurate weather predictions over a 24-hour period. So while this robo-brain won’t be able to help you with a five-day forecast, it can more accurately tell you if rain or shine is more likely during the course of your day.
~ If only we could tell if it was raining just by feeling, seeing or hearing it …

Robots simulate mass extinctions — By simulating a mass extinction on a population of virtual robots, researchers have shown these cataclysmic events are important contributors to organisms’ ability to evolve, a finding that has implications to evolutionary biology, the business sector – and even artificial intelligence.
~ OK, this is now all too robo-incestuous.

Graphics iPad, Photo management, weather, exif data, Inbox


Astropad unifies the iPad and Mac screens into one mirrored interface.
Astropad unifies the iPad and Mac screens into one mirrored interface.

Astropad turns your iPad into a graphics tablet for your Mac — Heaven for a hardcore graphic artist or photo editor is a Wacom Cintiq, one of those fancy input devices that builds in a display and includes a pen stylus for drawing, painting, or retouching photos [a new model, btw, is due in NZ soon]. They’re amazing, but they’re pricey and not the most mobile. Astro-HQ wants is making software that transforms an iPad into a Mac graphics tablet. Founders Giovanni Donelli and Matt Ronge are former Apple engineers.

Declutter your Camera Roll — Leah Yamshon’s apps to help you manage photos.

Weather Underground’s Storm app packs maximum data into a simple UI — There’s already the Weather Underground app, Wundermap (both free with in-app purchases) or WunderStation (free, but today, the company released a new universal iOS app called Storm (free with in-app purchases). Steven Sande takes a look at the offering in a short video. [Weather apps being one of my odd obsessions.]

Makeovr Web app lets iPhone users create blank spaces on home screen — If you’ve ever found yourself despairing over Apple’s insistence that home screen icons be lined up neatly in rows, but can’t — or won’t — turn to jailbreak tweaks, a relatively new Web app called Makeovr has come to your rescue.

ViewExif is a handy iOS extension for viewing photo Exif data — It installs as a standalone app, but ViewExif is actually an iOS extension that allows you to view the Exif information of the photos on your iPhone. This Exif information is stored with each photo and contains a range of photo and camera settings including ISO speed, exposure time, aperture, location information, camera make and model, lens make and model and more.

Inbox by Gmail heads to the iPad, bringing yet another Google app to Apple tablets — Google’s new email app is designed to surface the most important messages and better organise the rest.

Do The Right Thing, China Telecom, apps for Paris, Beats app, home invasion, wearable tech, Weather


where would you prefer to wear your tech?
Where would you prefer to wear your tech?

Apple’s Beats makes documentary celebrating 25th anniversary of film ‘Do the Right Thing’ — Beats Music last Thursday published a short 22-minute documentary on Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, a landmark film dealing with race in America celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

Apple now using China Telecom servers to store customer data in China — Apple has reportedly begun storing data from iPhone users in China in data centres operated by “state-controlled China Telecom.” Originally reported by the Wall Street Journal, the move comes amidst allegations from elements within the Chinese media which have claimed that the iPhone poses a security risk. [Well, they do now!]

Three apps for a Paris visit — If you’re heading to Paris anytime soon, you might consider one of the three apps featuring in this week’s Free on iTunes on the Mac Observer: guided tours, maps, photos and more, all for free.

Beats Music app added to ‘Made by Apple’ list in iOS App Store — More than two months after its acquisition of Beats was announced, Apple on Friday officially added the Beats Music streaming audio app to the App Store’s featured Made by Apple list, although the developer is still listed as Beats Music, LLC. [It’s not yet available for New Zealand, though.]

Prepare for the home invasion — An interesting Mac Observer article points out the more we automate our homes, the more open they are to being hacked.

Where do you want to wear your ‘wearable tech’? — TUAW wants to know,  so is running  poll, and feel free to leave a comment below if you have another idea of where wearable tech can reside on the human body (keep it clean…). [Pic, above, from the TUAW poll link.]

Facebook fixes longstanding iOS bug, lowers crash rate by 50% — Facebook announced that it had cracked a long standing bug that affected app stability on iOS. As a result, Facebook engineers are touting that the crash rate for the iOS Facebook app has been reduced by a whopping 50%.

Get more from Apple’s Weather app — Apple’s Weather app is fairly easy to navigate and use; opening it presents you with a list of your favorite locations, along with quick glances at their time zone and current weather. Tap a location to view it in more detail. Macworld’s video shows you how to get the most out of it.