State Department Announces That Great Firewall For The US; Blocks Chinese Apps & Equipment


So, take the talk of banning Huawei and ZTE on the networking side, and the rumblings about banning TikTok on the app side, and multiply by everything.
I certainly understand the arguments that certain Chinese companies and technologies may be conducting surveillance on Americans (even though investigations into both Huawei and TikTok haven't shown anything out of the ordinary), but this approach is incredibly short-sighted. First of all, it goes against the basic American stance on openness, especially regarding the internet. That just damages what little moral high ground we had left to stand on regarding the internet.

Second, all this does is justify the Chinese approach. Make no mistake about it, China will turn around and use this to justify its (much worse) practices, by saying "look, even the Americans filter out "foreign" apps and services." Giving the Chinese ammo like that is so incredibly short-sighted.

Third, so much of American technology is still made in China -- including pretty much every electronic gadget and IOT and "smart" device that fills everyone's homes these days. This is going to backfire in so many ways. The trade war and tariffs have already hit parts of the technology industry hard, and this move will certainly lead to retaliation in all sorts of ways -- potentially having a massive impact on American firms being able to make use of factories and technology from China. That will have ripple effects throughout the economy and will likely limit certain innovation possibilities. Indeed, this may even allow Chinese firms to justify abusing technology to do the kinds of surveillance people are now freaked out about.

Fourth, it will allow China to expand its influence elsewhere in the world, showing how the US can't be trusted and plays favorites with its own companies through protectionism.

In short, this is the kind of short-sighted policy that we're all too familiar with from the Trump Administration, but which will do significant damage to the US in the process.

Like I said folks, this [State Department's announcement of their own Great Firewall would simply create up to 10 different internets globally when there would be lots of inequality.

IBM is Already Gutting Red Hat and Firing Employees Without Warning


First, as a little bit of background, earlier this year we researched for long periods of time to better understand whether IBM’s planned (and openly announced) layoffs in NC area affect Red Hat (formerly RHAT and then RHT, now IBM). We looked for some rumours online, but came up with too little; almost empty-handed, but that was months ago. Remember that Red Hat has its own operations in NC (the headquarters and founding place); corporate media said IBM planned to lay off in NC and 4 other states, the total being — reportedly — about 5,000 people (IBM is still hiring in India by the way). The tricky thing is, IBM and Red Hat both have NC-based operations and a rather large number of workers there. It’s somewhat of a business hub. But we also know that IBM does not need two HR departments, two marketing departments, etc. Managers are sort of converging in duties, conflicting in terms of roles, overlapping in the workflow sense and so on.

Last year, as we noted here before, I had heard from an IBM acquisition victim (whom I cannot name, but he is a high-profile person) that they always wait 2 years before the guillotine falls. Why 2 years? Go figure. But if one studies the pattern (after IBM acquisitions), then it’s always 2 years. It has now been almost exactly two years since the acquisition was announced (a couple of months from now).

Has IBM begun axing staff of Red Hat? Well, nobody has explored or covered that subject (which we know of…) and it is unlikely that IBM or Red Hat will just spoon-feed this kind of information. It needs to be ‘pulled’, as they won’t ‘push’ out such information. Citing a recent press report, Ryan saw signs of impact for Red Hat. “They said it would “make it difficult to hire more people” with the pandemic raging,” he quoted. “No comment when asked about whether that meant layoffs from Red Hat.”

Welp, this is what happens when a legacy company like IBM acquires a company like Red Hat this happens folks.

NVIDIA is in talks to buy ARM for $32 billion


Nvidia is said to be the only company that’s involved in concrete discussions with SoftBank for the purchase at this time, and a deal could arrive “in the next few weeks,” although nothing is finalized yet. If the deal does go through, it would be one of the largest deals ever in the computer chip business and would likely draw intense regulatory scrutiny.

SoftBank bought ARM in 2016 for $31 billion, and ARM has only grown in value since then as its designs have become more and more integral to Android and iOS devices alike. Microsoft already makes an ARM-based Surface and a version of Windows designed for ARM; Apple also recently announced that it would be switching its Mac computers over to ARM-based chipsets in the latest boon for the company. As SoftBank looks to pay off its growing pile of debt in order to appease uneasy investors, a sale of ARM at its peak could help bolster the Japanese technology conglomerate’s finances.

ARM might be sold to NVIDIA in yet another monopoly ploy. If successful, it'll reduce the chip players from 5 to 4 folks. NOT GOOD.

More on the USPS' road to privatization


But this is more than an anecdotal set of incidents. Since Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist and donor, took over as Postmaster General this month, he has moved to cut overtime among postal workers. He also noted in a memo that postal workers should leave mail behind if it would cause delays to routes. Another program would deliver mail early and rolling back sorting, which would delay the mail even further, and this compounds over time. Numerous post offices across the country were also suddenly scheduled to close, although the agency seems to be backing away from that now.

DeJoy has cited financial losses and said that the agency must “make necessary adjustments.” Critics have charged this is an effort to wound the culture and reputation of the Postal Service, and leave it open to privatization. UPS and FedEx have exploited this crisis by raising shipping rates, knowing that their competitor is being undermined from within.

All corruption, all the time. Not enough people int eh US are paying attention to this national emergency.

Publisher Decries Damn Libraries Entertaining The Masses Stuck At Home For Free


But, perhaps the most frustrating part in all of this, is that whenever these copyright maximalist authors and publishers are confronted about this, they twist themselves into knots to say "well, I actually love libraries, but…" before beginning a bunch of arguments that show they do not, in fact, like libraries. Sometimes, however rarely, a maximalist just comes out and admits the facts: they fucking hate libraries.

The latest example of this is Kenneth Whyte, a small publisher of Sutherland House Books in Canada, who seemed to think now was the time to take to the pages of The Globe & Mail to whine about libraries competing with book stores that sell books. Of all the things to be bothered with right now. Even the setup of this column is just ridiculous, arguing that libraries -- with their public taxpayer funded support -- are unfair competitors to booksellers

I'm saying it again folks: if libraries were created today, copyright holders (publishers and most authors) would sue them out of existence. They put out PR statements saying "we love libraries" but deep down inside, they really hate them.

This from Mike Masnick on a post Kenneth Whyte, a small publisher of Sutherland House Books over in Canada wrote for The Globe and Mail shows why.

Pre-orders for the Analogue Pocket retro portable game console start August 3, ships May 2021


Analogue estimates that the hardware should actually start to be delivered to customers in May, 2021. That’s due to “the unfortunate global state of affairs and supply chain challenges outside of our control,” according to the company, and they’re hardly the only indie hardware outfit feeling the pinch of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on tech suppliers.

The good news is that so long as you’re patient, the Pocket will almost certainly deliver the goods. Analogue isn’t new to this, having successfully shipped multiple products in the past, including the Nt mini, the Super Nt and the Mega Sg. Each of these more than delivered on their promises, offering fantastic performance in bringing classic games to modern TVs and displays — without relying on emulation.

Analogue Pocket has changed a bit since it was originally introduced last year, with the start and select button relocated to the base of the front of the device, a design change designed for “optimal comfort,” according to the company. The Dock you can use to connect the Pocket to your TV for a big-screen gaming experience also now features a recessed USB-C port to make the connection more stable.

I surely hope Nintendo doesn't shut this project down closer to release like they always do. I'm hopeful that it can be released but I'm also waiting for that shoe to drop.


VICE's sources share screenshots of an internal control panel they say birdsite workers use to interact with user accounts, which may have enabled today's account takeovers


Two sources close to or inside the underground hacking community provided VICE with screenshots of an internal panel they claim is used by Twitter workers to interact with user accounts. One source said the Twitter panel was also used to change ownership of some so-called OG accounts—accounts that have a handle consisting of only one or two characters—as well as facilitating the tweeting of the cryptocurrency scams from the high profile accounts.


How COVID-19 affects our sleeping patterns


Let's start with a simple comparison. On the first two Tuesdays in April 2019 (uneventful days a year ago), about half of the people woke up before 7:00am to start their day. It was most common to wake up between 6:30am and 7:30am. But one year later, on the first two Tuesdays in April 2020, many countries were in the initial stages of lockdown with most people waking up after 7:00am local time. There's a shift to a later wake up time. The data here controls for day of week, part of month, tries to remove naps, and only includes people who tracked on all four days.

If we want to dig further, we have to account for the day of week. Because sleep is shifted during normal times too, notably on weekends. Here's several months of sleep with bars marking the time in bed, using the median time across everyone (about 100,000 people). Weekends are colored orange while weekdays are colored blue, so you can see that on average people go to bed half an hour later, but wake up nearly 1.5 hours later on weekends.

Here's a nice post on how the pandemic is affecting our sleep, and it's interesting.

Microsoft issues patch for wormable Windows DNS Server flaw after 17 years


The vulnerability, which was uncovered by a researcher at Check Point, would allow hackers to intercept and interfere with users’ emails and network traffic, tamper with services, and steal users’ credentials, by exploiting Windows’ Domain Name System (DNS) Server; DNS is essentially the protocol that translates between website names and their corresponding IP addresses.

The vulnerability can be triggered by a malicious DNS response, which could lead to a heap-based buffer overflow, according to Check Point. The vulnerability, which Check Point has dubbed SigRed, is widespread as it affects all Windows Server versions, according to Microsoft.

Wow, that's a long time. I guess it's well done to and crew.

Lucasfilm and MythBusters roboticist Grant Imahara has passed away


Imahara worked for years at storied special-effects firm Industrial Light and Magic, where he worked on films such as A.I: Artificial Intelligence, Galaxy Quest, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the two sequels to The Matrix, and George Lucas' Star Wars prequel trilogy. On the last of those, he was responsible for restoring and recreating the iconic R2D2 robot for the new films. Imahara also created Geoff Petersen, the comedic robot co-host from The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

But he is probably best-known to most people as a member of the build team on MythBusters for many years, with co-hosts Tory Belleci and Kari Byron. On the show, Imahara was often portrayed as the geek of the group as he worked on robots and computers related to the myths that were tested over the course of the series. He was an infectiously positive personality on screen and was beloved by fans.

He was also a fan of live-action role-playing and was a widely known and well-regarded figure in many online communities, as well as in the Los Angeles robotics, science, and geek culture social scenes. He is remembered by friends and colleagues as a down-to-earth, warm, and positive human being.

This hurts a lot since I'm always fond of Grant over the years especially during his time on MythBusters.

Brain aneurysms are just terrible. A huge loss to a talented, humble person. :(