Skip to main content

Posts

Reading List, December 2017

Brian Merchant, How email open tracking quietly took over the world, in Wired, 11 December 2017. [Online]: https://www.wired.com/story/how-email-open-tracking-quietly-took-over-the-web/It is no longer a secret that every website you visit silently tracks you in an effort to maximise ad revenue. What is less known is that emails also track you, through the use of tracking pixels and redirect links. These techniques were used by spammers and legitimate companies alike when creating newsletters or other mass email, in order to figure out their reach. What’s happening now is that private people are also using these techniques in order to create invisible and intrusive read receipts for email, which is incredibly frustrating from a privacy point of view.My solution to the tracking woes? I only open the plain-text component of email, which gets rid of tracking pixels entirely. Redirect links are harder to beat, and I don’t have a good solution for this.Dan Luu, Computer latency 1977–2017. D…
Recent posts

Reading List, November 2017

Samuel Vee, I see trad people, in Status 451, 5 November 2017. [Online]: https://status451.com/2017/11/05/i-see-trad-people/It seems that more and more, I’m sharing articles that would be frowned upon by the mainstream. I see this as a way to break some of the bubbles that are a part of life in a left-leaning college town. In this article, Samuel Vee cites theories by Haidt and Graham to understand why people who identify either as progessive or conservative do things that are decidedly un-progressive or un-conservative. In doing so, Vee argues that our political leanings come in through our moral foundations, and that these are innate, therefore identifying as part of the other political ideology is akin to being in the closet.Vee makes another point right in the beginning of the article pointing out the social progress that we have already achieved, and mentions, rightly so, that we should view today’s moral and social issues through the lens of society fifty years ago. This reminde…

Reading List, October 2017

Jenny List, Accidental satellite hijacks can rebroadcast cell towers, in Hack A Day, 3 October 2017. [Online]: http://hackaday.com/2017/10/02/accidental-satellite-hijacks-can-rebroadcast-cell-towers/Satellites are simple transponders placed in the sky, often with old but robust technology. It is no surprise then, that they could sometimes pick up and rebroadcast some unintended traffic, in this case, GSM traffic from Nigeria broadcast to large parts of Europe and Africa.Steven Englehardt, Jeffrey Han, and Arvind Narayanan I never signed up for this! Privacy implications of email tracking, in Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETS) 2018. [Online]: https://senglehardt.com/papers/pets18_email_tracking.pdfIt is no secret that information is the new oil. Today, everyone and everything is tracking you, including your email. This paper discusses the techniques for email tracking, and how tracking pixels and links in mass emails leak way more information than you could ever imagi…

Reading List, September 2017

Joel Kotkin, Trump damaged democracy, Silicon Valley will finish it off, in The Daily Beast, 27 August 2017. [Online]: http://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-damaged-democracy-silicon-valley-will-finish-it-offKotkin writes about the lack of competition in Silicon Valley, a problem that has led to a lack of technical innovation along with decreasing the economic mobility in America. While I think that it is easy to blame Silicon Valley for all the problems in the world today (hacking the election, gentrification, exploiting workers in the gig economy, & c.), I think that this falls into the American trap of thinking of the world in terms of a ‘single actor’.Kashmir Hill, Yes, Google uses its power to quash ideas it doesn’t like – I know because it happened to me, in Gizmodo, 31 August 2017. [Online]: https://gizmodo.com/yes-google-uses-its-power-to-quash-ideas-it-doesn-t-li-1798646437Something we knew already, that Big Business will crush any criticism of itself. In this case, the Big …

Reading List, August 2017

Simon Penner, Another point of view, in Status 451, 3 August 2017. [Online]: https://status451.com/2017/08/04/another-point-of-view/This is not a post for people who have already made up their minds. If, however, you are the type who can wrestle with an alternate point of view, or even acknowledge that privilege is not necessarily universal and is fluid within social and political contexts, do read this post about the challenges faced by a Canadian Midwesterner in Politically Correct Liberal California Bay Area.The reality is that software engineering jobs are not magical privileges, not lifetime keys to the lands of luxury and riches. They are hard, important work taking smart, skilled, and highly practiced people a lifetime to master. Most people here will have struggles, because hard things make you struggle. Focusing on a very small subset of those struggles is a very curious definition of “fairness”. Respectfully: Check your goddamn privilege.Alex Mayyasi, The invention of Pad Th…

Reading List, July 2017

Cyrus Farivar, WinAMP woes: How the greatest MP3 player undid itself, in Ars Technica, 3 July 2017. [Online]: https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/07/winamp-how-greatest-mp3-player-undid-itself/A fascinating tale of WinAMP, my favourite music player in the early 2000s, and how it was run into the ground by AOL.Mike Masnick, State dept. enlists Hollywood and its friends to start a fake Twitter fight over intellectual property, in Techdirt, 5 July 2017. [Online]: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170705/10241437723/state-dept-enlists-hollywood-friends-to-start-fake-twitter-fight-over-intellectual-property.shtmlThis article is just so crazy that I find it very hard to believe. If it indeed turns out to be a fake, I may actually delete it from this list. Apparently, the State department wants to start a fake Twitter feud to advance MPAA and RIAA propaganda, and they thought that reaching out to Stanford Law School professors and students was a good idea.Well, turns out it is true. Ars …

Reading List, June 2017

Eric Diaz, The oral history of Star Trek: TNG’s best episode: “The Inner Light”, in Nerdist, 31 May 2017. [Online]: http://nerdist.com/the-oral-history-of-star-trek-tngs-best-episode-the-inner-light/‘The Inner Light’ is probably the best Star Trek: TNG episode, and this is a very interesting history on how the episode was conceived and how it made it to its final form. I did not know that we could have had a sequel to this episode. I must say that it was strange that ‘The Inner Light’ was never referenced again except for one small passing reference.Robert Graham, How The Intercept outed Reality Winner, in Errata Security, 5 June 2017. [Online]: https://blog.erratasec.com/2017/06/how-intercept-outed-reality-winner.htmlAll printers insert invisible dots in files that are printed that can identify the model and serial number of the printer as well as the time a document was printed. Just putting this out there, governments mandate printer companies to insert code that tracks the documen…