Happy Friday, To All & Sundry

Friday, October 11, 2013

Behold! A glorious miscellany of week-end links. 

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Facebook Reduces Its Privacy Options (Again)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Yesterday, Facebook announced that users who've asked for their timelines to be unsearchable will now searchable. 

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Why Amazon Should Keep Publishing Rape and Incest Porn

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The online magazine Kernel is after Amazon for publishing pornographic eBooks that fetishize rape and incest. 

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Drunk Dial Your Congressperson

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Via Politico, news of a new website that lets angry citizens and furloughed DC employees drunk dial their congressperson. 

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Divorce Map, Pt. 2

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Yesterday, we talked about Patch's new Divorce Maps, which show you where the divorced people in your town are congregating so that you can avoid those areas or, perhaps, start up specialty businesses that cater to divorcees. 

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A Map Of All The Divorces

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The hyperlocal site Patch has a history of strange dysfunction. But today's dysfunctional Patch story is exceptionally strange. As Romenesko reported, every single Patch outlet has been publishing maps of where divorced people live.

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How Could A Train Full of Commuters Not See An Armed Gunman? Pretty Easily, Actually.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Slate brought my attention to this shocking San Francisco Chronicle story about inattentive commuters

A man standing on a crowded Muni train pulls out a .45-caliber pistol.

He raises the gun, pointing it across the aisle, before tucking it back against his side. He draws it out several more times, once using the hand holding the gun to wipe his nose. Dozens of passengers stand and sit just feet away - but none reacts.

Their eyes, focused on smartphones and tablets, don't lift until the gunman fires a bullet into the back of a San Francisco State student getting off the train.

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Authorities Arrest More Internet Drug Dealers, Still Can't Open Internet Wallet

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The past week has seen the first of what will likely be many arrests of Silk Road drug dealers. The FBI announced the arrest of Steven Sadler, who they say was a top Silk Road dealer. And British police arrested four Silk Road users today, with more to come. 

So what happens now? A lot.

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Healthcare.gov:You Can Be Mad Now

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Ah, last week. We were so young. So naive. Seven days ago I wrote about how conservatives who were jumping up and down with excitement about bugs in the Healthcare.gov rollout were getting ahead of themselves. I argued that any massive tech rollout is bound to have errors. It was just too early to say whether Healthcare.gov's problems were nature (bad design) or nurture (good design that was temporarily failing because of sheer demand).

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New York wants AirBnB to Turn Over its Users' Data

Monday, October 07, 2013

Update 3:46PM: Airbnb has now said that they're refusing to comply with the Attorney General's demand. Whoa. This should be interesting. More over at New Tech City.

The New York Attorney General has ordered AirBnb to turn over records for anyone in New York who's ever rented out their apartment on the site. 

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Apple Killed An App That Let Chinese People Circumvent the Great Firewall

Monday, October 07, 2013

OpenDoor is an app that lets you anonymously surf the internet on your iPhone or iPad. A third of OpenDoor's sales have historically come from China, where internet freedom's restricted and most people access the net on mobile. That is until this past summer, when Apple pulled Open Door from the app store after the Chinese government complained. 

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Happy Friday, Everyone!

Friday, October 04, 2013

Another week is gone. Here are some fun links to distract you from time's ceaseless rush. 

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How To Talk About The Government Investigating You When You Can't Legally Talk About the Government Investigating You

Friday, October 04, 2013

Yesterday, we talked about Lavabit, the privacy-first email system used by Edward Snowden. Lavabit's owner, Ladar Levison, shut the service down rather than complying with an government request to provide access to his users' emails. Our friends at New Tech City interviewed Ladar last week, while he was still legally prohibited from talking about his fight with the government. 

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#3 - JOKES.TXT

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Daniel Drucker's father died earlier this year. Daniel was excavating stuff on his Dad's computer when he found a file called JOKES.TXT. It was filled with thirty one punchlines to jokes, but not the jokes themselves. So he turned to the internet for help

Thanks for listening. If you like the show, you can subscribe to us on iTunes. Also, please check out all our previous episodes!

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The Owner of An Encrypted Email Service Says "No" to the FBI (In a tiny, tiny font)

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Yesterday, a federal judge unsealed records from the case of Lavabit, the privacy-first email service used by Edward Snowden, versus the government. It's a compelling read, and it's a rare story because it shows a company refusing to comply with demands to give up a customer's privacy. 

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Ross Ulbricht, Who Allegedly Ran the World's Largest Online Drug Market, Arrested By the FBI

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Since 2011, the Silk Road has been the most popular place to buy drugs online. Despite being very well-known, it operated with impunity up until last night, when the FBI arrested 29-year-old Ross William Ulbricht, who they say ran it. Krebs Security posted the complaint against Ulbricht, which alleges that the site's generated around 1.2 billion dollars in sales in its lifetime. The FBI also alleges that Ulbricht tried to arrange the murder of a user named FriendlyChemist who wanted $500,000 in exchange for not revealing the identities of Silk Road users. 

For its users, Silk Road seemed to promise a way to buy and sell drugs with less risk. Users accessed the site via TOR-anonymized connections, and purchases were made exclusively in Bitcoin. In this case, human error, rather than technological error, brought Ulbricht down. According to the FBI, Ulbricht gave himself away by being sloppy. For instance, he used his own Gmail address on a forum where he was trying to gin up interest in the Silk Road during the early days of the site. 

People are scouring Ulbricht's digital trail in the wake of the address, particularly since the FBI included a specific reference to a manifesto on Ulbricht's LinkedIn page

I want to use economic theory as a means to abolish the use of coercion and agression amongst mankind. Just as slavery has been abolished most everywhere, I believe violence, coercion and all forms of force by one person over another can come to an end. The most widespread and systemic use of force is amongst institutions and governments, so this is my current point of effort. The best way to change a government is to change the minds of the governed, however. To that end, I am creating an economic simulation to give people a first-hand experience of what it would be like to live in a world without the systemic use of force. 

His Facebook page is also still up, if you feel like doing some relatively prosaic rubbernecking. 


 


 


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The Government Shutdown Panda Cam

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

As we all know, the government shutdown took effect October 1st, leaving vital services offline, suspending the pay of millions of federal workers, and disrupting things like food safety programs. But for some reason, the media seems preoccupied with the interruption of The National Zoo's beloved "Panda Cam." Seriously. Everyone mentions it. It's bananas. So, since this seems like a matter of pressing national importance, we've decided to put up our own makeshift panda cam, so that everyone can focus on more important things. Enjoy!


Live streaming video by Ustream

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California Bans Revenge Porn

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Last night, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that makes revenge porn illegal. Typically, attempts by well-meaning lawmakers to legislate the internet don't end well. These laws often end up restricting free speech without actually stopping the activity they're meant to. But if you're going to pass a law like this, California's looks pretty good. 

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Healthcare.Gov is Up and (Mostly) Running

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Healthcare.gov launched today. Users can log on to find out what kind of healthcare they're eligible for. One million people visited the site before 7AM today, which is mind-boggling, considering it launched at midnight. Two quick thoughts!

1. Conservatives who are touting the site's glitches as a synecdoche for Obamacare's failure sound very silly. It's impossible to roll out something as enormous and unprecedented as healthcare.gov without glitches. For perspective, when Apple released iOS 7 last month, there were bugs and delays. When Rockstar Games released Grand Theft Auto V, they had to delay its multiplayer component for two weeks because they couldn't get up to server capacity in time. These are two tech companies who, every few years, drop an enormous thing into the internet that everyone wants at the same time. They can't perfect that process. No one can. You just fix the problems as they arise and try to be transparent. It's just too early to say if the administration has done that.

2. Back in 2008, Candidate Obama promised he'd be a tech president. Specifically, that meant more openness, in the form of sites like data.gov. More broadly, Obama seemed to promise a government that you could interact with via nice websites instead of stacks and stacks of indecipherable paper forms. And on its face, Healthcare.gov actually looks like that promise realized. It's nice that you can learn about something as complex as your healthcare options from an interface that looks like the websites you're used to visiting every day.

And yet, healthcare.gov is launching in the midst of a government shutdown. The Twitter accounts for all these federally-funded organizations are dutifully reporting that they can't tweet anymore, since the people who are paid to tweet from those accounts cannot legally do so until the budget is restored. I'm not sure what I'm getting at, exactly, except that the contrast is striking. There's a limit to what technology can fix, and the messiness of political intransigence is beyond it. 

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