Unsupervised Learning No. 248

News & Analysis

I spend 5-20 hours a week consuming books, articles, and podcasts that explore the intersection of security, technology, and society. Then every Monday morning I send out the best of what I found.  

MEMBER EDITION | EP. 248 | September 28, 2020


Everyday Threat Modeling More

Why I Like TikTok So Much More


It appears the source code for Windows XP has been leaked online. More

SSH 8.4 has been released, and their release notes point out that it's now possible to perform a chosen-prefix attack on SHA-1 for less than $50K. So they're going to be disabling ssh-rsa soon. New features include support for FIDO keys that require an each-use PIN and a verify-required option in authorized_keys. More

Renée DiResta, who's been a guest on the podcast, wrote a great piece about how AI is soon going to be able to write propaganda, and she used GPT-3 to help her write it. More

A new feature of Shodan returns open external ports if you browse to it, and a 404 if your external IP is locked down. More

The Trump administration is looking to change the rules on student visas to lock them down to 4-years unless you have a strict reason to extend. More


  • Cisco has patched 34 high-severity vulnerabilities in its IOS software. More


  • The QAnon conspiracy has been gamified. More

  • Facebook has shut down 150 fake Chinese accounts. More


  • CrowdStrike has purchased Preempt Security for $96 million, moving into the Zero Trust market. More


AI models are learning how to automatically generate images based on a caption. More

Google Maps now has a COVID layer. More

Amazon announced that its new Echo devices are Sidewalk-capable. Sidewalk is a low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless protocol that seems to be designed to network neighborhoods and cities together. More

OpenAI has licensed the full version of GPT-3 to Microsoft. More

Game controllers seem to have consolidated on the Xbox design. More

The new Amazon Echo is spherical, has Zigbee support, and Dolby sound. More

Amazon's Ring announced an indoor drone that can take video. Sure, what could go right—I mean wrong. I respect the creativity though. More

Amazon also announced Luna, it's cloud gaming service that will compete with Stadia and Xbox. More

Google has launched an Airtable competitor called Tables. More

Spotify has added a poll feature to its podcast offering. More


  • Here's a full list of what Amazon announced at its product event. More

  • Petal just raised a $55 million Series C to give credit limits based on cash flow instead of credit rating. More

  • The trading app Robinhood just raised another $660 million. More


A large study has found that US cases of depression have tripled since COVID started, and it now sits at 28%. Over one in four. Wow. More

A choir in Spain practiced indoors for an event, in a room with little ventilation, and 30 out of the 41 members ended up getting COVID. More

Older people in Finland are younger—health-wise—than people their same age 30 years ago. More

90% of Indian immigrants to the US are of the highest caste, and there are allegations of caste discrimination even in Silicon Valley. More


Amazon's Volume Approach to Innovation — With all of Amazon's releases last week I continue to be impressed with their strategy. They are overpowering their competition with creativity and volume. They don't need everything to stick because they're trying so many different things, and they're throwing them in roughly the same direction. So they have a strategy, which is lots of cheap and connected devices that work with their ecosystem(s), and from there they simply open the gates to teams to innovate. It's brilliant, and I think in 5-10 years they're going to be considered the clear leader in this cheap/ubiquitous IoT space. More

Chomsky says the threats of global warming, nuclear war, and declining democracy are combining to make now the most dangerous time in history. More

Start Stopping Faster. More


I finally procured a weight bench for the house. Just a simple little flat bench. I've been missing doing chest exercises which I need free weights to properly isolate my arms due to an injury. I kept holding out for gyms to open, but finally had to just get a bench here at home.

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If you're looking to get into an OLED TV, it sounds like you could do a lot worse than this new 65" model from Sony. I myself have been partial to LG's offerings, and recently got myself a 77" OLED from them. Pandemics are the perfect time for AV upgrades. The Sony My LG

This smartphone pouch/wallet-like thingy blocks mobile phone signals so you can go off the grid. More

The BBC has released a collection of over 16,000 sound effects for free. More

Unsplash has released its high-quality dataset to the public. More

Mono Icons — A simple, consistent, open-source icon set. More

Short clips of Sam Harris' interview with Tristan Harris on the dangers of Social Media. More 

"I no longer build software." More

GoDork — A fast dork scanner written in Go. More

YAYA — An EFF tool for helping you manage YARA repos. More

CrowdSec — A modern take on Fail2Ban using Go and YAML. I've been having tons of fun with this. More


Sam Harris had Tristan Harris (no relation) on his podcast, which coincides with Tristan's appearance on The Social Dilemma, the documentary about the dangers of social media. Great episode. More


“Rivalry is the life of trade and the death of the trader.”

~ Elbert Hubbard