For this week's link roundup (not that I do these on the regular - for more reliable and entertaining linklists you might want to check out andrewducker's and silveradapt's) I present you with the Dark and The Light. Just when the nth article in one day about the government spying on you through lifelike birds equipped with video cameras and coming up next, a lifelike toilet bowl also equipped with video cameras, is about to make you make that funny slicing motion against your throat while rolling your eyes until you can almost feel them strain as they start to pop out of your head, some cocoa farmers might make you think to lighten up again.
The Dark Side Called; Wants Your Frowns Back
The Eight Scariest Security Stories of 2014 - So Far: Heartbleed, of course, affects everyone - especially when you take into consideration that there's now (an OpenSSL-only) Heartbleed II that no seems to talk about, perhaps because they're still dumb-founded over Heartbleed I. Heartbleed in general is why I'm convinced the NSA lives on most website servers, including perhaps our own on DW. And a full list of the stores and websites hacked just this year alone (which I haven't pinned down yet, but the partial lists are looking bad enough) makes me wonder how I've not had to sign up for credit protection (I can get free credit monitoring for one year now from several sites - that's how much I've been affected by the sheer amount of hacking going on) but so far, so good - unbelievably enough.
Hackers don't just hack websites, your password, help the NSA do some hacking, and so on; they're also hacking into all kinds of hardware and peripherals. For example, hackers can tap USB devices, or so a researcher warns. What this boils down to is stealth software can be put on USB devices that anti-malware and anti-virus programs cannot - will not - detect. No security company is working on a fix for that: there just isn't one.
Presumably this method works on all peripherals: your mouse can be programmed to watch your online travels, your keyboard can and will type without your help, thank you very much, your camera can be set up to...yeah, it's like that. The saddest part is even if the NSA one day gets dismantled - to the delight of almost anyone who never worked for the NSA and probably a few people who do, I'm sure - your peripherals will still be beyond hope. They can be used by any laymen to do the same nefarious things the NSA can presumably do with them, as can many laptops and routers. So we'd not only have to halt the NSA program but also trash all personal and business equipment - which is a very tall order, indeed.
If you want to take your mind off the NSA for a moment, just think how even they'd be shit out of luck if this happens: What if we got hit by an EMP? If that doesn't make you happy to get on your smartphone each day even if the NSA is storing most of the audio on it and ruining our entire economy in the process then chances are, nothing will.
On The The Lighter Side
The world's fastest Internet makes Google Fiber look like dial-up. But I'd still use GF in a pinch. On that note, did you know that roughly 3% of Americans still use dial-up - and that 2% of them - roughly 2 million - still use AOL? Neither did I until I wrote that sentence and like, Googled it. Does having 2/3 of that market still qualify as a Charlie Sheen sort of WINNING? If so then bravo, AOL... *one-handed clap*
Huh, did I say "AOL"? Yes, yes I did. While I'm on that topic, this is not so light: here are 19 stories from call center hell that will practically boil your blood. My main reason for not starting a blog about Comcast's bad behavior (besides how I'm a burnt-out anti-blogger and haven't had to cancel Comcast, which will surely send my blood pressure through the roof - I couldn't NOT start a blog about their shitty practices then): it's not just Comcast. We are treated like shit by most utility companies, yet "Anti-Utility Company" doesn't make for a very salacious blog name, does it? Not much of a ring to it.
What's wrong is not just Comcast's lousy treatment of their customers but the entire system behind it, supporting it, encouraging it, and bowing down to the almighty dollar to perpetuate it at any cost: that system is what needs to change. Not through extreme answers like converting our entire government over to communism (which has been floated here as an answer so I must mention it as I'm highly opposed) but through smaller yet hopefully more binding answers like clear, unmistakable force of law: in short, more regulation and government oversight. Put a legal end to their antics.
Speaking of antics, you yourself will contribute to the end of Network Neutrality and a free and open Internet by falling for any of these plans in which you get free (or low-cost), unlimited access per app instead of free access, period. The companies trying to lock you in AOL-walled-garden-style - and lock the rest of the world out forever - are much more numerous these days than just good old AOL, which started the whole lock-in culture, if you ask me. Everyone imitates it simply because it works.
If that wasn't enough news about your smartphone to keep you hopping, know that hackers can control your phone using a tool that's already built into it and that goes for you iPhone users, too, so stop already with the "only Windows/Android users" bragging.
Fighting online harassment from trolls through educational punishment rather than shunning or banning them outright without any stated reason might be in your best interest. This assumes, of course, that your troll is a known, named and singular entity, that he or she is not beyond hope or help from his or her first comment on, and that under more non-trollish circumstances this person might have something to offer. I offer these caveats because it's relatively hopeless with anons and any known or unknown entities who employ sock puppets and/or their online/offline friends. Which makes me feel bad because I do believe everyone does have something to offer if they would only learn how to word it correctly in the first place...but that's not why some people choose to show up.
So, folks, this is the mathematically correct way to eat your bagel. The end result is a yeast-rich Mobius Strip; with the correct math you can make bagels resemble other Mobius Strips besides the one featured. I don't think the broader surface area that holds slightly more cream cheese than your average sliced-in-half control is worth the fact that you can't put anything else on top of the damn thing without risking it falling off. Like onions, tomatoes and lots of smoked lox. OMG...
Not exactly light, but is Dr. Oz trustworthy? No. Just say "raspberry ketones" or "green coffee bean extract" to trigger a short but impassioned rant in which I go on about how the guy starts mass panics and store runs that wipe out retailer's stockrooms for months on end over the most ridiculously obscure, unknown, and unproven remedies that don't seem to improve the health of anything in the long run except his pocketbook.
This isn't exactly light, either, but I found it informative and sort of darkly funny. Are you a Truth Shouter or a Cutlery Thrower? One thing I admired about my mom was she was much more of a Truth Shouter than I, the original cutlery thrower. Wouldn't it be sort of cute if there was a t-shirt for that? You could order them for the whole family based on which camp each individual falls into, so in the case of me and my mom one would say, "Truth Shouter: Deal with it" while mine would warn you that I am a: "Cutlery Thrower: grab shield before approaching".
The main difference I see between the two is Truth Shouters think you can handle their flawless recounting of why you suck simply because by God, it's the truth, while Cutlery Throwers are more like, "Here, catch this knife - and the next 20 - because you had no right to say that to me." TSs: less emotional/more confident/more to the point, CTs; less confident/extremely intense/more careless. My cutlery thrower mind is, conversely enough, what attracts me to the practice of law: no cutlery allowed. I thrive on the challenge of that.
(Also; CTs can be TSs and vice versa - no one's all one or the other - and most of my cutlery throwing is over being misunderstood: I want to tell you what the truth about me isn't, not hear what you decided the truth about me is. How tearing down the other person could possibly help accomplish this clear goal is where most Cutlery Throwers go wrong. Even if your TS is a horrible person they don't really care: they just want to talk about what's wrong with you, so anything said against them in retaliation will just piss them off more because you're not getting The Point.)
And last but not least, for realz I used to know how to do all the math on this page. And I'd learned most of it by the seventh grade. If only I'd kept focusing I'd probably be running NASA by now, but I didn't, so now I need to study anything beyond remedial math. Funny how that works: math is definitely "use it or lose it".