Uber self-driving car kills pedestrian

Source: Uber self-driving car fatality halts testing in all cities, report says



A very decent explanation for those not wanting to read the technical paper:

“There’s no easy way to explain Bitcoin, but let me wave my hands and try: When you go to the ATM at a store and get money to buy a six-pack, you put in your bank card. The transaction processor verifies it somewhere in the ether, takes a fee, and spits out cash. It’s all powered by software. OK, deep breath. Acquiring Bitcoin is like using an ATM, except instead of government-backed money you get proof that a computer somewhere solved an automated puzzle faster than other computers, and instead of using an ATM card you’re using an auto-generated token that only you have, and instead of connecting to a bank you’re connecting to a decentralized network of computers that collectively maintain and update copies of a massive historical database of transactions—and that also collectively validate transactions, using, well, math, and spit out new Bitcoins from time to time, to reward the puzzle solvers. Slow exhale. Almost there. And instead of buying a six-pack from someone behind a counter, you’re transferring some amount of Bitcoin to another anonymous token. Over time, all the transactions that people make get lumped into blocks and validated, and they get a special code that takes into account all the codes in the blocks that came before, and thus you have it: a blockchain. According to Bitcoin.org, the Bitcoin blockchain is about 145 gigabytes, though it will be bigger by the time you read this.”

Source: Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous: Paul Ford – Bloomberg

The author goes on to write:

“The current wave of coins will eventually ebb, because it’s a big, inefficient, unholy mess. It’s more ideology than financial instrument, and ideology is rarely a sustainable store of value. Plus, transactions are slow (everyone says they’re fixing that), and you shouldn’t have to use an aluminum smelter’s worth of power to make new currency.”

The article spot lights some very scary ramifications of blockchain technology, such as encoding a permanent record of allegations (not convictions) that would tarnish individuals for life as it could not be deleted.

Read the whole article to get an un-hyped perspective on bitcoin and blockchain technology.

Loyalty Cards are used to spy on  your purchases, and not just with the vendor

The story of how that Sudafed ad got to me begins at Walgreens. As I bought tissues and Afrin, I keyed in my phone number so I could get loyalty points.

Source: Facebook Really Is Spying on You, Just Not Through Your Phone’s Mic – WSJ

Stores use your loyalty card to identify you and all of your purchases. Your purchase transactions are then sold to other marketing companies. This data, in turn, can and is matched to your Facebook account and other online data using the phone number that you gave to the store and to Facebook or Google.

Think about how Facebook, Twitter and other online services are constantly pestering you to give them your phone number. Once they have your phone number, anything else you do that is linked to your phone number – such as using a loyalty card when buying stuff at Safeway or Walgreen’s is then accessible.

Everyone is also using the tracking data that Google collects on your Android phone to monitor where you are. Remember, that too is tied to your phone number. As I described on my other blog, the Facebook dossier even tracks what apps you have on  your phone and data mines that to identify potential marketing opportunities.

Google and Facebook are doing highly invasive surveillance and almost no one understands what is being done or what this means.


EU Aviation Safety Agency Proposes Significant new Drone Regulations

(I have changed the formatting to make it easier to read)

This new proposed framework regarding drone regulations and categorizations of various UAVs, there are three distinct sections: Open, specific, and certified.

The first one affects recreational users, with the “specific” section affecting professional UAV pilots (aerial inspection, monitoring, etc.). Lastly, those in the “certified” section are entirely comprised of aerospace corporations (if the Ehang ever finds its way to Europe, for example, it would fall under this category).

  • The “open” category would cover UAVs weighing between 8.81 ounces (250 grams) and 55.1 pounds (25 kilograms). \
  • The maximum height permitted proposed by the EASA would be 394 feet (120 meters).
  • Safety tests and required registration would be included here, as well.
  • “Specific” users will have to declare their done flights in advance.
  • “Specific” users are also the only ones allowed to operate BVLOS flights, which would mean recreational users won’t be allowed to fly around using first-person view goggles, for example, as they’d need to keep their UAVs in sight during operation.

Source: EU Aviation Safety Agency Proposes New Drone Framework and Regulations – The Drive

My interpretation of the above is that recreational use of R/C aircraft will be restricted to small aircraft, flying no higher than 120 meters, within line of sight visual range, and flyers will be required to pass an exam and register their craft with the government.

In some ways this is similar to the U.S. today – but the U.S. does not require hobbyists to  pass an exam but I believe this is the direction this is headed.

Why? I have seen numerous videos on Youtube of people flying their drones out 1 to 3 miles distance (which is against regulations in the U.S.), and I have seen social media commentary from drone hobbyists that think rules are to be ignored. This is an inappropriate response from some in the drone community that will lead to increased regulations and restrictions on the use of drone aircraft.

I see a not very distant future where it may be required, using a smart phone app, to register your R/C aircraft operation (literally file a flight plan), unless flown at an existing, well known, R/C airfield.

Where I live, there are so many airports (mostly private air strips) that I would need to drive a very long ways before I could fly a drone legally, or get clearance from ATC or each private airstrip and airport operator, which is not practical. For that reason, I do not have a drone and do not intend to get one until we move.

Total information surveillance society

Law enforcement agencies are now using systems, even mobile devices, that automatically and quickly perform facial recognition of subjects. This data is being stored into databases to create dossiers that could eventually track all of us as we go about our daily lives.

Without restrictive limits in place, it could be relatively easy for the government and private companies to build databases of images of the vast majority of people living in the United States and use those databases to identify and track people in real time as they move from place to place throughout their daily lives. As researchers at Georgetown posited in 2016, one out of two Americans is already in a face recognition database accessible to law enforcement.

Source: Face Off: Law Enforcement Use of Face Recognition Technology | Electronic Frontier Foundation

The tech industry arrogantly believes everything in life is a tech problem that can be solved with the application of more tech. Systems like this, however, will always be plagued with significant false results. At some point, you will hear the tech promoters say something along the lines of “that is the price we must pay to be safe”. Watch and see.

Governments set to regulate and issue their own cryptocurrencies

Why the Bitcoin bubble may explode when it pops:

One reason for regulating blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, also known as digital tokens, is the growing concern that the virtual money they represent could be used for nefarious activities, such as money laundering. Cryptocurrencies could also be a threat to the current financial system because they have at times encouraged unbridled speculation and unsecured borrowing by consumers looking for a piece of the crypot action.

Source: Governments eye their own blockchain cryptocurrencies | Computerworld

Government or central bank issued, blockchained-based cryptocurrencies could be far more useful for legal transactions than the underground currencies like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is great for secret or questionable transactions that do not want to be tracked, of course, but most transactions are not in the camp.

(Note “blockchain” is an important bit of technology that has numerous applications other than cryptocurrencies.)

Google issues near death sentence to all non-encrypted web sites by summer of 2018

Google in July will start inserting a ‘not secure’ label in the address bar of every website that uses HTTP connections between its servers and users.

Source: Chrome 68 to condemn all unencrypted sites by summer | Computerworld

Initially Chrome will say “Not secure” but will later add a red danger icon. (There is nothing dangerous about looking at an unencrypted web site about cats.)

Google previously announced that it down ranks unecrypted web sites in search results.

Just as Youtube is killingly off new Youtube channels (to qualify for advertising, new channels must have at least 1,000 subscribers and an even tougher, 4,000 measured hours of views during preceding 12 month), Google is now working to kill off small personal web sites where many find implementing https is more trouble than its worth.

In effect, the distributed content of the original web (personal blogs, web sites, and RSS feeds) is largely pushed to migrate to Google and Facebook platforms, where Google and Facebook control everything.

My coldstreams.com web site now uses an annually purchased digital certificate, and 3d.coldstreams.com uses a “free” digital certificate for security. Unfortunately, the free certificates expire every 90 days, must be renewed and re-installed manually. For small and personal web sites, this is a bit of bother. My ISP can also issue a self signed digital certificate but that results in a different error message presented to the web visitor – not an improvement.

Related: Twitter and Facebook are increasingly trying to clamp down on fake news, conspiracy theories, hate speech, and who knows what else using many methods. One method, obviously, is to simply make it more difficult for individuals to place their own content online. No idea if this is what is happening but it is a potential side effect of the changes that are underway.

Related: I originally moved my coldstreams.com blog to coldstreams.wordpress.com to use their https services, their faster servers, and to let them do the frequent software updates. A side effect is it looks like Google down ranks searches for content hosted on *.wordpress.com web sites – by a lot. Consequently, I am considering moving this blog back to coldstreams.com. Truth is, I had – and still have – far more readers on the old blog than the *.wordpress.com blogs have ever gotten. Search traffic barely ever reaches the *.wordpress.com web sites whereas I still get lots of search traffic, every day, to my original and dated web sites. For that reason, I am giving serious though to moving back.