Unsupervised Learning No. 252

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. 252 | October 26, 2020


You Should Be Running Your Own VPN Server — Remember that VPN providers are third-parties that can be targeted by governments. More

Substack is Great for Newsletters, But Not for New Creators — Don't build your entire brand on new tools that only do one thing. More

Retroactive Mindfulness — Can you use memories to extract meaning from the past? More


The US has indicted 6 Russian hackers for a number of major attacks, including the NotPetya disk wiper and various power grid attacks against Ukraine. More

The NSA has released a considerable list of known vulnerabilities being accessed by Chinese state-actors. More

NSS Labs has shut down, citing COVID as a primary cause. More

The US is continuing to investigate a series of unexplained illnesses in US diplomats stationed overseas, including in Cuba and China. Some think they're just coincidences, and others think the incidents are the effects of advanced weaponry. Symptoms include headaches, difficulty sleeping, difficulty thinking, etc. More

The Pentagon is moving its primary biometrics systems to AWS. The system contains face, fingerprint, iris, and other biometric identifiers on around 18 million people—most of which are identified enemy combatants—and allows troops around the world to identify the people they're interacting with across multiple federal systems. More

Patreon has joined Twitter, Facebook, and many other tech companies in banning accounts that discuss the conspiracy theory called QAnon, which believes democrats and celebrities are running a massive ring of Satanic Pedophiles, and that Donald Trump is secretly fighting against them. More

The US Army's new Tactical Information Warfare Units have conducted their first exercises. Under Army Cyber Command, the units include 12 cyber and electromagnetic teams meant to support brigade combat teams with cyber, electronic, and information warfare capabilities. More

Snowden, who's been living in Russia since 2013, has been given permanent residence. More


  • Google has released a new version of Chrome 86 to address multiple security vulnerabilities. More

  • Cisco patches 17 high-security vulnerabilities in its security appliances. More

  • Adobe has released another out-of-band patch fixing critical bugs in Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Indesign. More

  • VMware has patched some code execution flaws. More

  • SAP has put out their October updates, including an OS Command Injection vulnerability. More

  • Mozilla has related updates for Firefox, Firefox ESR, and Thunderbird. More

  • Juniper has released updates for multiple products. More

  • QNAP issues an advisory on the Zerologon vulnerability. More


  • Securonix is going to be integrating with Tanium to provide endpoint visibility with insider threat detection. More

  • Arctic Wolf raised $60 million in its Series D round to help provide a security operation center as a service. More


Quibi spent almost 2 billion dollars and has shut down 6 months after going live. The idea was to create short videos for peoples' commutes using A-list talent, but then the pandemic happened. I think the bigger issue is that there was nothing stopping any other video provider from doing 5-minute videos—assuming that worked at all. More

Ubuntu 20.10 is out. It includes the 5.8 version of the Linux Kernel, AD support in the installer, and sharable Wi-Fi Hotspots using QR codes. More

Facebook is open-sourcing a new language model that can translate between 100 different languages. More


  • Stir is a company that allows content creators to share revenue amongst each other. More


San Francisco has nearly 12 million square feet of vacant office space, which is almost double its five-year highs. More

In response to a history teacher being killed by an Islamic terrorist, images depicting the prophet Mohammed were projected onto government buildings for multiple hours in France. More

Researchers have used AI to count 1.8 individual trees in a massive portion of West Africa, and they think they can use satellite images to eventually count every tree on the planet. More


Remember when 280 characters destroyed Twitter? And when Microsoft destroyed GitHub when they bought it? It’s crazy that people move to aggressive panic insults when tiny, inconsequential things change on the internet. You can only use Word 97 for so long. Embrace change. Discussion

Two of the most interesting terms I've heard in the last few days have been, "Choice Architecture", and "The Tyranny of Meritocracy."

The Shrinking of the American Mind More

You Don't Need a Blockchain; You need Need A Time-Series Database More


We just had a fantastic Book Club today on the topics of the book Nudge, how much control we really have in our lives, and how much we'd be willing to give up to have a better life. Thanks to everyone who joined and participated.

We also picked the next book, which is The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago, and How We Can Do It Again. Really looking forward to this one!

I've done a few hours of testing of 5G speeds on Verizon and AT&T in and around San Francisco and parts of the Bay Area, and I can say conclusively that everywhere I went the coverage was better, and the speeds were faster, on AT&T. For one, Verizon's 5G stops right at San Francisco's southern border, like around Brisbane, and I didn't have any coverage in the East Bay. I hear it's in San Jose but I didn't go there. AT&T's coverage goes all the way from SF, down to the Dumbarton (on the freeway and near it) and then includes at lease Newark, Fremont, etc. Performance-wise, AT&T had much lower ping times and higher upload speeds, as well as more consistent and faster download speeds. Plus, the place where I live in San Francisco (next to a hill) I couldn't actually get 4G Verizon coverage in my house, where I can with AT&T.

I'm looking for a video editor for the show (YouTube), preferably who works in Final Cut Pro. If you know anyone who's really good and looking for long-term, part-time work, please let me know.


Brilliant — A new app from people at MIT, CalTech, Duke, Google, et al, designed to help you build quantitative skills in math, science, and computer science through interactive tutorials. More

The IP ranges used by Amazon. More

A stunning 2.5 gigapixel image of the Orion constellation. More

Gitdorker — Scrape secrets from repositories using dorks. More

Carbon — Share beautiful images of your source code. More


I think this book we're reading for UL Book Club this month is going to be extraordinary. I've finished the first chapter already and it was spectacular. It claims that America's in the same place we were at the start of the 20th century, aka The Gilded Age, and that we need to follow the same path we did then to fix things. The Upswing


“Seek simplicity and distrust it.”

~ Alfred North Whitehead