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Reading List, June 2017

  1. 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.

  2. 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.html

    All 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 documents we print. Next time you buy a printer, verify that it does not print tracking dots by visiting this link by the EFF.

  3. the grugq, Real talk on reality, in Medium, 9 June 2017. [Online]: https://medium.com/@thegrugq/real-talk-on-reality-cf07cbb78530

    Perhaps invisible dots had nothing to do with the case. A list of opsec failures that led the DOJ to arrest a leaker.

  4. Chris Lee, Wibbly-wobbly magnetic fusion stuff: The return of the stellarator, in Ars Technica, 9 June 2017. [Online]: https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/06/wibbly-wobbly-magnetic-fusion-stuff-the-return-of-the-stellarator/

    Possibly the future of devices to contain plasma for nuclear fusion. Reading this article tells me just how far we’ve come, and how much further we have to go.

  5. Peter Bright, According to statistics, programming with spaces instead of tabs makes you richer, in Ars Technica, 15 June 2017. [Online]: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/06/according-to-statistics-programming-with-spaces-instead-of-tabs-makes-you-rich/

    I usually don’t have opinions about programming style, but I do have a very special hatred in my heart for people who indent C/C++ code using spaces. If you’re one of those evil people, from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

    This article is short and funny. You could read it in thirty seconds, but spend the next hour laughing.

  6. Arnab Ray, When did we lose the game?, in Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind, 18 June 2017. [Online]: https://greatbong.net/2017/06/18/when-did-we-lose-the-game/

    Arnab makes a point here about why we should not care about the outcome of a cricket match.

    Because they know, or should, that their pride as a people is not defined or determined by the outcome of a game.

  7. Sidin Vadukut, How to consume news, in Livemint, 26 June 2017. [Online]: http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/6vLjwbrZYZUwMOpy9XO8uN/How-to-consume-news.html

    This is a great article that I would strongly recommend you read. It’s a how-to on maintaining sanity through the twenty-four hour news cycle where non-news becomes news, and the amount of information is overwhelming and designed to engage emotionally rather than logically.

    I used to recommend political podcasts such as “Pod Save America” to my friends. I don’t any longer, mainly because I cannot stand the intense negativity of the reactions to the news. The world hasn’t ended, and probably won’t for the next few years. Until then, our priorities should be to more immediate tasks rather than get outraged about every latest tweet or headline.

    Perhaps the best thing that has happened over the last few weeks is that I’ve found myself getting inured to the news.

  8. Nick Heath, Hacking the Nazis: The secret story of the women who broke Hitler’s codes, in TechRepublic, 26 March 2015. [Online]: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-women-who-helped-crack-nazi-codes-at-bletchley-park

    Something cheerful to end the list. This is a fascinating read on how codebreakers cracked the Enigma code, on the utter secrecy they lived in, and about Tommy Flowers, the unacknowledged British Postal Worker who developed a key piece of hardware – the shift register – that enabled the first electromechanical computers to run. What’s fascinating is that the women who worked on the very first computer and helped the Allied forces win the war went on to their very ordinary lives, sometimes not touching another computer until the present decade.

    This is a longish read, but worth your time.

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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…