Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for July 25th, 2017

Parisian canals now open to swimmers

Posted by kenmay on July - 25 - 2017

Paris, France is making good on its promise to reopen long polluted waterways to bathers. Up to three hundred people at any time can use the lifeguard-protected pools, although the pools only have locker space for 80. Located in a part of Paris already popular as a place to stroll in fine weather, the new bathing spot is likely to prove a major hit in an already hotter-than-average summer. Early reports suggest that the water is indeed delightful, though a small residuum of green algae does make a post-bathe shower a good idea. How did Paris pull this off? The city’s been working on cleaning up the waters here for decades. Paris’s canals here were once unsurprisingly filthy, running as they do through a former industrial area once packed with cargo barges and polluted by sewage. Since the 1980s, however, regulations managing industrial run-off have tightened substantially, while Paris has invested heavily in wastewater treatment and in preventing sewage from being discharged into the canal during periods of high water. Two years ago, following a concerted clean-up, bacteria levels dropped below safe levels, and rogue bathers have been jumping in the water here for a while. Meanwhile, the Canal Saint Martin, which runs downstream from the basin down to the Seine, was entirely drained and cleaned in 2016, a process that sent a powerful visual message to Parisians that the area’s historic filth was being swept away. Via CityLab

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Adobe is ending development and support for Flash in 2020

Posted by kenmay on July - 25 - 2017

Adobe announced today that it is ending support for and development of Flash in 2020. The company cited declining usage statistics (80 percent of Chrome users visited a site with Flash daily in 2014, as compared to 17 percent today) and a plethora of alternatives as the reason for the termination. Developing… Via: Axios Source: Adobe

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It’s been almost 30 years since Matt Groening launched his yellow nuclear Simpsons family on the Fox network. It’s been about 18 since he took to the stars with Futurama . Both series have been successful, with plenty of recent merchandise , VR celebrations and mobile games to keep fans invested in the respective animated universes. Groening is headed to Netflix with his next project, Disenchantment , another animated series for grown ups. This time, however, Groening will explore the epic fantasy genre via the misadventures of the “hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo, and her personal demon Luci.” “Ultimately, ” said Groening in a statement, ” Disenchantment will be about life and death, love and sex, and how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you.” Disenchantment has an all-star voice cast as well. The lead voice actors feature BoJack Horseman ‘s Abbi Jacobson as Bean, Nat Faxon from The Cleveland Show as Elfo and American Dad’ s Eric Andre as Luci. The cast will also have Futurama ‘s John Dimaggio and Ren and Stimpy ‘s Billy West along for the ride. The animation is being created by the same studio that does Futurama , Rough Draft Studios. The show itself will appear on Netflix in ten episode blocks starting in 2018. Source: Netflix

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Nielsen might be the lord of all TV ratings, but they’ve been scrambling to catch up in this new media landscape we’re in. Over the years, the service has been shifting and adjusting its traditional model to take into account the new and myriad ways we are all consuming TV. And now, they have a new announcement: Nielsen is adding Hulu’s live TV service and YouTube TV to its traditional TV ratings. Nielsen has a separate digital ratings system , where it tracks what we’re watching (and how we’re watching it) on Netflix, Amazon Video and other streaming services. The noteworthy aspect here is that Nielsen is adding what’s watched on Hulu’s new live TV service and YouTube TV to its C3 and C7 ratings — time-shifted ratings of viewership three and seven days beyond airing that networks use to negotiate with advertisers. Right now, purely digital numbers are not incorporated into C3 and C7 numbers for many reasons, one of which is that different ads are shown on streaming versus TV. The service does blend digital and TV ratings for networks to show overall Total Audience numbers, but these aren’t used officially or directly for sales. Instead, the networks might use the data to discuss their overall reach, and advertisers could strategize accordingly. As more people, especially younger viewers, cut the cord and turn solely to streaming services for TV, it’s important that Nielsen change its model to accurately reflect what and how viewers are watching. There needs to be a more seamless integration between how TV and network executives treat digital and traditional TV; if it’s the same content, platform shouldn’t make as big of a difference as it does. Via: TechCrunch Source: Nielsen , The Wall Street Journal

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Over thousands of years, the building science of timber framing developed independently in both Northern Europe and China. But one big difference between the regions is that China, by virtue of its size and geological traits, is prone to devastating earthquakes. Ancient Chinese builders thus needed a way to create wooden structures that could not be shaken apart, and that were not so stiff that its support members would shatter. They designed and engineered the solution at least as early as roughly 500 B.C. The builders created a series of brackets known as dougong .  When interlocked together, these could transfer the incredibly heavy weight of a temple roof to the supporting columns, and they contained so many redundancies that they could not be shaken apart.  They also, by spreading their tolerances over multiple joints, contained a measure of flexibility that prevented them from cracking and splitting. Check out the ingenious way that they fit together in the computer animation below: The craziest part of that system is that the columns are not sunken into the foundation nor moored, but are freestanding, and yet they stayed in place during the shake test. The video below, which is of a modern-day architect demonstrating dougong with a scale model, is a bit slower but really gives you a good look at the components and how they fit together: It’s crazy to see how wobbly it all looks, but how it all gets locked into place by the immense weight of the roof; and that wobbliness of course affords the flexibility required for the structure to withstand an earthquake without shattering. Also, this architect must look at people playing Jenga and think “Idiots.”

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An anonymous reader shares a report: A mysterious piece of malware has been infecting hundreds of Mac computers for years — and no one noticed until a few months ago. The malware is called “FruitFly, ” and one of its variants, “FruitFly 2” has infected at least 400 victims over the years. FruitFly 2 is intriguing and mysterious: its goals, who’s behind it, and how it infects victims, are all unknown. Earlier this year, an ex-NSA hacker started looking into a piece of malware he described to me as “unique” and “intriguing.” It was a slightly different strain of a malware discovered on four computers earlier this year by security firm Malwarebytes, known as “FruitFly.” This first strain had researchers scratching their heads. On the surface, the malware seemed “simplistic.” It was programmed mainly to surreptitiously monitor victims through their webcams, capture their screens, and log keystrokes. But, strangely, it went undetected since at least 2015. There was no indication of who could be behind it, and it contained “ancient” functions and “rudimentary” remote control capabilities, Malwarebytes’s Thomas Reed wrote at the time. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hacker News: Swedish media is reporting of a massive data breach in the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) after the agency mishandled an outsourcing deal with IBM, which led to the leak of the private data about every vehicle in the country, including those used by both police and military. The data breach exposed the names, photos and home addresses of millions of Swedish citizen, including fighter pilots of Swedish air force, members of the military’s most secretive units, police suspects, people under the witness relocation program, the weight capacity of all roads and bridges, and much more. The incident is believed to be one of the worst government information security disasters ever. In 2015, the Swedish Transport Agency hand over IBM an IT maintenance contract to manage its databases and networks. However, the Swedish Transport Agency uploaded IBM’s entire database onto cloud servers, which covered details on every vehicle in the country, including police and military registrations, and individuals on witness protection programs. The transport agency then emailed the entire database in messages to marketers that subscribe to it. And what’s terrible is that the messages were sent in clear text. When the error was discovered, the transport agency merely thought of sending a new list in another email, asking the subscribers to delete the old list themselves. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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An anonymous reader writes: “Veritaseum has confirmed today that a hacker stole $8.4 million from the platform’s ICO on Sunday, July 23, ” reports Bleeping Computer. “This is the second ICO hack in the last week and the fourth hack of an Ethereum platform this month. An ICO (Initial Coin Offering) is similar to a classic IPO (Initial Public Offering), but instead of stocks in a company, buyers get tokens in an online platform. Users can keep tokens until the issuing company decides to buy them back, or they can sell the tokens to other users for Ethereum. Veritaseum was holding its ICO over the weekend, allowing users to buy VERI tokens for a product the company was preparing to launch in the realm of financial services.” The hacker breached its systems, stole VERI tokens and immediately dumped them on the market due to the high-demand. The hacker made $8.4 million from the token sale, which he immediately started to launder. In a post-mortem announcement, Middleton posted online today, the Veritaseum CEO said “the amount stolen was miniscule (less than 00.07%) although the dollar amount was quite material.” The CEO also suspects that “at least one corporate partner that may have dropped the ball and [might] be liable.” Previous Ethereum services hacks include Parity, CoinDash, and Classic Ether Wallet. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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