How to ‘Disappear’ on Happiness Avenue in Beijing

On a busy Monday afternoon in late October, a line of people in reflective vests stood on Happiness Avenue, in downtown Beijing.


Moving slowly and carefully along the pavement, some crouched, others tilted their heads towards the ground, as curious onlookers snapped photos.

It was a performance staged by the artist Deng Yufeng, who was trying to demonstrate how difficult it was to dodge CCTV cameras in the Chinese capital.

As governments and companies around the world boost their investments in security networks, hundreds of millions more surveillance cameras are expected to be installed in 2021 – and most of them will be in China, according to industry analysts IHS Markit.

By 2018, there were already about 200 million surveillance cameras in China.

And by 2021 this number is expected to reach 560 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, roughly one for every 2.4 citizens.

China says the cameras prevent crime.

And in 2018, the number of victims of intentional homicide per head of population in China was 10 times lower than in the US, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

But a growing number of Chinese citizens are questioning the effect on their privacy.

They also wonder what would happen if their personal data was compromised.

‘Recruited volunteers’

It is rare for Chinese citizens to stage protests against government surveillance.

And it is not without risk.

But creative types such as Deng are coming up with innovative ways to bring the issue out into the open.

Before the performance, he measured the length and width of Happiness Avenue with a ruler.

He then recorded the brands of the 89 CCTV cameras alongside it and mapped out their distributions and ranges.

Don’t give your information to marketers who might pelt you with spam or even expose you to a potential hack. Use Abine Blur instead.

source: fastcompany.com

Over the summer, I came across an online store that was promising big discounts on All-Clad cookware, but with a catch: You had to hand over an email address just to see what the deals were.

This would have given me pause if not for a secret weapon: I loaded up a service called Abine Blur and generated a free “masked email” address to use instead of my real one. While the masked email would still forward messages to my actual Gmail inbox, the store would never learn my real address, and I could cut off any future emails with one click.

I started using Abine Blur about five months ago, after hearing about it from one of my newsletter readers, and it’s since become one of my most cherished privacy services. With masked email addresses, I don’t have to worry about getting spammed just because I signed up for an app, made a donation, or subscribed to some retailer’s newsletter in exchange for a coupon. I just tell Abine Blur to stop forwarding their emails, and our link is severed.

Continue reading “This Free Service Is a Genius Way to Foil Spam…”

Harvesting Energy as you Move: The Future of Wearable Technology

source:  azonano.com

contributed by Artemus FAN, Steve Jones

EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow, Dr Ishara Dharmasena, speaks to AZoNano about their groundbreaking triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) technology that has the potential to convert our movements into electricity.

 

How did you begin your research into energy harvesting technology?

I was interested in renewable energy technologies and their impact on our lifestyle and the environment since my undergraduate years back in Sri Lanka. However, it was during my PhD project at the University of Surrey that I started researching energy harvesting technologies, specifically those that have the potential to convert human motion into electricity such as the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG) technology.

Following the completion of my PhD project, I started TENG energy harvesting activities at Loughborough University, focusing on the design and application aspects of TENGs toward powering the next generation of portable and smart electronics.

What are triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) and how are they revolutionary in the energy industry?

Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENG) are small-scale energy generators that can convert the energy from movements in our surroundings (e.g. human motion, machine vibrations, vehicle movements, wind, and wave energy) into electricity.

These generators work based on the combination of two common effects – “triboelectric charging” and “electrostatic induction”. Triboelectric charging or static charging is typically an undesired effect we experience in everyday life. Static charging is the reason why a balloon rubbed on our hair can stick to a wall or attract small pieces of paper, while it also causes lightening, and, clothing to stick to our skin on a dry day.

Continue reading “Harvesting Energy as you Move: The Future of Wearable Technology”

Find out if you can meet all your needs within a 15-minute walk from your house.

source:  fastcompany.com

In a “15-minute city,” it’s possible to meet your basic needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. Instead of sitting in traffic during a rush-hour commute, you can work at home or walk to an office nearby. You can walk to get groceries, go to the doctor, take your kids to school, or run any other everyday errand. Housing is affordable, so a barista could live in a walkable neighborhood as easily as a lawyer. It’s a concept championed by the mayor of Paris and, more recently, pitched by a global network of cities as a tool for helping urban areas recover from the pandemic—and improve sustainability and health as people start to get more exercise while conducting their day-to-day activities.

In the U.S., car-dependent sprawl is more common. But a new tool lets you map out local services to see how close your neighborhood comes to the ideal.

 

Click here to try out the tool:

https://app.developer.here.com/15-min-city-map/

“The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of location and proximity,” says Jordan Stark, a spokesperson for Here Technologies, the location data platform that created the map. The company typically creates maps for businesses, such as delivery companies that need to route vehicles, and built the new tool to demonstrate how developers could work with its data. While the current version maps out amenities like grocery stores, transit stops, and medical care—along the lines of Walkscore, another tool—the company says it might later create an iteration that considers how far residents might have to travel to get to an office.

The map also shows how many services can be accessed by car from an address. “We wanted to show, especially in the U.S., the contrast in the accessibility between walking and driving,” Stark says. “And as you can imagine, there are a number of communities where you have all of your essential items within a 15-minute drive, but potentially less than one essential location in a walk. So it was a way to show that contrast in spatial makeup.”

While pockets of American cities are walkable now—the map tells me that my own neighborhood in Oakland qualifies as a “15-minute city”—it’s possible that more neighborhoods will move in this direction as cities begin to use it as a framework for urban planning. Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development is one of the latest to say that it is exploring the concept of 15-minute neighborhoods.

“We wanted to show, especially in the U.S., the contrast in the accessibility between walking and driving,”

IT Predictions from the Past: How Accurate Were They?

predictions

source: eweek.com

eWEEK looks back at three years ago on the conversation around automation: As the internet gets increasingly more fragile, automation–as it is in most other IT categories–becomes a big factor in making it run more efficiently. How accurate were the predictions from thought leaders?

[Editor’s note: Each December, eWEEK asks IT professionals to look ahead to the next year and let us know what important trends they see coming. We’ll be publishing these predictions again this year, so get them ready to send us! Meanwhile, periodically we look back at previous years’ predictions to see how how accurate–or inaccurate–they were. In this case, the thoughts around automation were particularly on target. Enjoy!]

Networking in 2017 encompassed far, far more technology than simply the pipes used to hold data as it moves from one location to another. It always has. In 2018, networking will evolve even more into software-controlled, artificial intelligence-fortified systems that will be thinking far ahead of humans as data moves through its veins.

 

Continue reading “IT Predictions From The Past: How Accurate Were They?”

too much tech

‘I’m Not Sure We’ll Survive It’:  How Constant Tech Is Breaking Our Brains


source: fastcompany.com

 

If you’re worried that our brains are being permanently and irrevocably altered by the constant use of technology during the coronavirus pandemic, Jaron Lanier has bad news and worse news.

“I’m not sure we’ll survive it,” the VR pioneer and noted technology skeptic said this week during a virtual panel discussion at the 2020 Fast Company Innovation Festival.

 

Granted, he followed that up with a more optimistic afterthought: “I do think the capacity of people to become more self-directed [with their use of technology] during the pandemic is actually a good sign—and it gives me some hope,” he added.

Continue reading “‘I’m Not Sure We’ll Survive It’: How Constant Tech Is Breaking Our Brains”

source:  Fastcompany.com

As 2020’s experiment with working from home turns into something more permanent, gitlab—the world’s largest all-remote company—offers a glimpse of what’s ahead, for better or worse.

A group of employees at the tech firm is debating the merits of an inflatable kayak over Zoom.
“It’s definitely [for] calm waters,” says engineer Lien Van Den Steen, 
as Thursday afternoon sun streams through a window in her Ghent, Belgium, home. 
 

From his home in Minnesota, Timm Ideker, a regional sales director, drops a link into the chat for  a kayak that breaks into pieces for easy transportation. “I have some concerns that this just means it’s going to leak in seven places,” says Simon Mansfield, a member of GitLab’s sales team, in Cardiff, Wales..

For most employees, this sort of conversation would be a brief sidebar from work, but discussing  kayaks—and weekend plans and favorite board games—is the entire point of this call. Employees from any GitLab team (or time zone) log on to these recurring 30-minute Company Calls to replicate the casual conversations that happen naturally when coworkers share the same office.

Artemus Note:  If you REALLY want to see a GREAT media-rich article about what GitLab’s doing on this front, click here!  You won’t be sorry!!

Continue reading “Extremely Transparent & Incredibly Remote: GitLab and Remote Working”

source: kottke.org (contributed by FAN Steve Jones)

 

Researchers have demonstrated that they can make a working 3D-printed copy of a key just by listening to how the key sounds when inserted into a lock. And you don’t need a fancy mic — a smartphone or smart doorbell will do nicely if you can get it close enough to the lock.

The next time you unlock your front door, it might be worth trying to insert your key as quietly as possible; researchers have discovered that the sound of your key being inserted into the lock gives attackers all they need to make a working copy of your front door key.It sounds unlikely, but security researchers say they have proven that the series of audible, metallic clicks made as a key penetrates a lock can now be deciphered by signal processing software to reveal the precise shape of the sequence of ridges on the key’s shaft. Knowing this (the actual cut of your key), a working copy of it can then be three-dimensionally (3D) printed.  The next time you unlock your front door, it might be worth trying to insert your key as quietly as possible; researchers have discovered that the sound of your key being inserted into the lock gives attackers all they need to make a working copy of your front door key.

It sounds unlikely, but security researchers say they have proven that the series of audible, metallic clicks made as a key penetrates a lock can now be deciphered by signal processing software to reveal the precise shape of the sequence of ridges on the key’s shaft. Knowing this (the actual cut of your key), a working copy of it can then be three-dimensionally (3D) printed.

How Soundarya Ramesh and her team accomplished this is a fascinating read.

 

Continue reading “Researchers Can Duplicate Keys from the Sounds They Make in Locks”

source:  washingtonpost.com (contributed by Artemus FAN, Demetria Simantiras)

 

Campaigns to manipulate public opinion through false or misleading social media postings have become standard political practice across much of the world, with information ministries, specialized military units and political operatives shaping the flow of information in dozens of countries, a British research group reported Monday.

These propaganda efforts exploit every social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and beyond — and rely on human users and computerized “bots” that can dramatically amplify the power of disinformation campaigns by automating the process of preparing and delivering posts. Bots interact with human users and also with other bots.

Though most social media platforms are designed and run by corporations based the United States, the platforms are infiltrated almost immediately upon their release to the public by a range of international actors skilled at using information to advance political agendas, within their own countries and beyond, said the researchers from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Research Project.

“The government propaganda evolved with social media and has grown along with it,” said Philip N. Howard, an Oxford professor and co-author of the report, called “Troops, Trolls and Troublemakers: A Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation.”

source:  technewsworld.com

 

United States government agencies and cloud technology providers are heading toward a reset in how they cooperate on cybersecurity challenges. The expected growth of cloud use will create a more complex federal security landscape, according to a recent report from Thales Group.

Federal agencies actually have moved ahead of businesses in cloud adoption, with 54 percent of agency data already embedded in the cloud, the report notes. Furthermore, cloud technology is central to a broader “digital transformation” goal in the federal government, recently highlighted by ramping up remote workplace sites in response to the COVID-19 virus.

“Data security requirements will only continue to be more stringent as more and more data and services are migrated to the cloud,” said Brent Hansen, federal chief technology officer at Thales.

“This year registers the first year where more federal data is stored in the cloud versus on premises. This is a huge turning point and the trajectory will only continue to favor cloud,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Continue reading “‘NEW NORMAL’ SECURITY ERA BEGINS FOR US AGENCIES, CLOUD PROVIDERS”