Unsupervised Learning No. 253

News & Analysis

I spend my time reading 3-6 books a month on security, technology, and society—and thinking about what might be coming next. Every Monday I send out a list of the best content I’ve found in the last week to around 40,000 people. It’ll save you tons of time.  

STANDARD EDITION | EP. 253 | November 2, 2020


How to Write Well — What I've learned in over two decades of writing online. More

The Future of Sensors, Algorithms, and Recommendations — How algorithms will continuously monitor everything in our lives. More

I Actually Like Remote and Pre-Recorded Presentations — Are you missing conference content or the conference scene? 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


The US government is continuing its trend of releasing state-sponsored malware it finds—this time releasing 8 samples developed and deployed by Russian hackers. Six were for the Turla hacking group, and two others were being used by APT28. More

Zoom has rolled out end-to-end encryption. More

An Australian newspaper has discovered a Chinese government database containing more than 2 million scientists around the world. The Overseas Key Individuals Database (OKIDB) includes many thousands of nuclear and other strategic industry experts, their personal information, and even where their relatives live. I've written about China doing this in the past. More

CoreView Research says 78% of Microsoft 365 admins, and 97% of all Microsoft 365 users, don't use multi-factor auth. Yikes. More


  • WordPress has patched 10 security bugs as part of their recent 5.5.2 release. More


  • Eagle Eye is bringing video surveillance to the cloud, and just raised a $40 million Series E. More


Cloud infrastructure revenue grew by 33% last quarter, reaching nearly $33 billion. More

Flippy robots will cook burgers in 10 more White Castle locations. This is a great example of where the door to automation was opened by COVID. They tried one robot because of social distancing, but now it's worked so well they're getting 10 more. This is pee that won't get taken out of the pool when the pandemic is under control. Once the jobs go to cheaper robots that don't show up late to work, get sick, and cause HR violations—the trend will only flow in one direction. More

Google Play Music has been shutdown. But don't worry, I'm sure they have 13 other music apps you don't know about that will also soon be removed. Google Meet Music Wave? More The Google Graveyard 

There's a new, super-white paint that can reduce cooling bills and even cool the planet. If it's used enough. More


  • Eagle Eye is bringing video surveillance to the cloud, and just raised a $40 million Series E. More

  • Shotcall is a new company that lets fans play with their favorite streamers. More


Researchers appear to have found a way to detect asymptomatic COVID patients by using AI to listen to how they cough. More

Netflix is raising prices again. The “Premium” plan (4k and 4 simultaneous streams) will go from $15.99 a month to $17.99. The “Standard” plan (1080p and 2 simultaneous streams) will go from $12.99 a month to $13.99. The “Basic” plan (SD and 1 stream at a time) will stay at $8.99.

Researchers have found a key brain mechanic in mice that handles motivation to learn. They can increase or decrease activity in strisomes to increase or lower engagement in a task. More


  • Flash Forest is a Canadian company that uses drones to plant trees. They can plant 40,000 trees in a month. More


Nicholas Christakis (MD, PhD, MPH) was just on Sam Harris' podcast, and he predicts 2021 will be much like 2020 for the pandemic, with the vaccine arriving in late 2021. He thinks 2022 will be the year of widespread vaccine distribution and the turning of the corner, with things returning to something like normal in 2024. I really liked his analysis of how this will all play out. Podcast Episode

Laura Rosenberger, appearing on the Lawfare Podcast, had some great points about election security. She said that the risk of actual election hacking seems to be low, or at least lower, than in 2016, but the real risk of mis/disinformation from actors like Russia might not fully pick up until after the election. She made the point that reducing confidence in democracy overall is the primary goal, and that this can be done by attacking the election after it's over just as well. She also pointed out that in 2016 the primary goal was still to attack Democracy, and hurting Clinton and helping Trump were secondary.

Cloudflare's COO says the future of cybersecurity is going to be a lot like water treatment, where you have known-bad inputs being treated by multiple layers of filtering until it's safe to drink. More

Americans are spending 2-3 months a year on their phones. More

68% of Americans say they know someone with COVID. More


Should be a fairly slow week, but I think there's some kind of an election going on.


  • I just finished, Wintersteel, the 8th book in the Cradle series (LitRPG), and it was a lot of fun

  • I'm currently reading The Upswing for the UL Book Club

  • I added The Life of Samuel Johnson to my queue based on a recommendation

  • Nudge was really good, which we read for UL Book Club last month

  • I'm really looking forward to How to Read and Why

  • I'm nearly done with Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville


CrowdSec — A Go-based, modern replacement for Fail2ban. Download My Tutorial My Metrics 

Thinkst Canary — Near-zero false-positive attacker detection, especially great when your logging/monitoring game isn't where you want it. More

Ninja — A simple way to do builds. More

How journalists use YouTube-DL More

Someone just subscribed to 50+ newsletters, and they give their analysis of what makes a good one. More


How to Read and Why — A new book on reading that I can't wait to get to. More


“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”

~ Elbert Hubbard