Unsupervised Learning Newsletter No. 264

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 50,000 people. It'll save you tons of time. 

MEMBER EDITION | Ep. 264 | Tuesday, 19 January 2021


The NSA is recommending that enterprises use designated DNS resolvers, and that they deny all others. This has always been my primary security tell. Show me how a company manages DNS and I'll show you how secure they are. More

GSA, which is the central buying for the US Federal Government, is removing all but five higher-trust drones from its contract offerings. More

Parler was "hacked" via an IDOR vulnerability, which is basically where each post was assigned a numerical ID number, so you could programmatically pull them to bypass access control. They also found out that they could pull deleted posts as well, which means they were just tagged, not actually removed. More

Parler is now partially back online, and it's now being protected by DDoS-Guard, a Cloudflare-like company run by two Russian guys who've also hosted a number of racist, conspiracy, and pro-Russian government sites. More

The White House has launched the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office, an organization that will coordinate and oversee national AI policy initiatives for the United States government. It has a cool logo, which is an eagle holding the connections of a neural network. More

A reporter looked at all the different information available to companies through Microsoft Teams. It evidently allows people to see tons of data on how many meetings you've taken, of what type, and tons of other metadata about how people are working. The concern is that this could lead to micromanagement that leads to performance management, and I understand that concern. More

The FBI says a woman may have tried to sell Pelosi's stolen laptop to Russian Intelligence. She's currently on the run and has changed her phone number and deleted her social media accounts. It's stunning to me how millions of so-called patriots seem to think Putin is more pro-America than mainstream Democrats. More

Rob Joyce has been appointed the Director of Cybersecurity at NSA. More

Jabber is evidently the Russian hacker communication tool of choice due to its decentralization and use of encryption. More


  • SAP has patched multiple code injection and DoS vulnerabilities. More

  • Apache Tomcat has an advisory for multiple versions. More


  • Ubiquity says they had a breach and that you should change your password. More

  • OpenWRT reports a data breach due to someone getting admin access to their forum. More


  • Coalfire has purchased pentesting platform Neuralys. More


If your organization uses Elasticsearch or Kibana you need to start looking at alternatives. They just switched their license from Apache v2 to SSPL, which means if you use them you could have to start sharing your intellectual property. More

Engadget's Best of CES 2021. Video

Citi analysts are saying Spotify's bet on podcasting isn't going so well. More

Medium has purchased Glose, a social book-reading comapny. It lets you share highlights and comments on books among people on the platform. More

China has decided to nationalize Jack Ma's Alibaba and ANT Group. Well that certainly sends a strong message to would-be entrepreneurs in China. Basically, if you get too big or too cocky we'll just take you over. I see this as great for the west, as it'll cause more of China's smartest to try to get to the US, Canada, or Europe. More

Fitbit has been fully acquired by Google, which, I'm sorry, just means we'll likely never hear much from Fitbit again. I would not be surprised if the next major thing we heard was, "Google Discontinues Fitbit Line to Focus on Google Fitness". Sigh. More

Tons of tech workers are leaving the Bay Area due to high rent and high taxes. They're mostly going to Austin, but many other places as well. More

The New York Times discusses their own in-house adtech that they're using to transition off of third-party cookies. They say their internal solution based on first-party data performs as well or better than what they had with third-party cookies. More


About a third of Americans regularly get news from Facebook (36%), and the next most common is YouTube (23%). More

The Chinese economy grew by around 2% in 2020, compared to the US' losing around 4.3%. More

Testosterone levels continue to decline for young US men. Primary suspected causes include obesity and lack of physical exercise. More

Netflix is releasing 70 original films in 2021. More

The "Seven Sisters" myths based in astronomy could be 100,000 years old, making it one of the earliest stories ever. The basic idea is that there were seven girls hiding from men, and one of them ran away, leaving only six. More

65% of Americans are currently willing to get the COVID vaccine. More


Enthusiasm is Life — One path to happiness might be as easy as being obsessed with something interesting. Essay

Beliefs Have Consequences — The primary risk from misinformation is the propagation of cult-like ideologies. Essay

The Bay Area Exodus — I see that tons of people are leaving the Bay Area, but I honestly think many of them will be back. Or if they don't return, they'll wish they could. As someone born and raised here, I can't imagine living anywhere else, except maybe London. The weather and geography is too wonderful, and the diversity of thought and people is nearly unmatched. There's so much to do, and there's easy access to nearly every type of terrain. I know some real-estate types who are already helping people move back who left and built houses in other states. Turns out, Texas is hot, and there's only so much you can do in a giant house in the middle of nowhere. The Austin Experiment will be interesting. I wonder how much the city will change and how many people will come back to SF or LA after a few years. For younger people, I'm betting a lot.

What Happens When Moderation Comes to Every Influencer Platform? — Companies like Substack and Spotify will start moderating content in the same way that Twitter and Facebook have, and since they're private companies they'll be able to make decisions based on what's good for their business and their reputation. This could be a problem for anyone with a non-mainstream view on a topic, depending on how powerful and expansive the cancel-culture becomes. If it stays focused on Parler-level offenses I don't view that as a problem, but if they start going after anyone with non-standard ideas, and they can exert their influence everywhere, including Patreon, Memberful, Onlyfans, et al., that will be really bad for the internet. More


I'm worried about this week. We have an inauguration and an impeachment trial going on simultaneously. And then the FBI is warning about widespread violence. I'm tapped out, honestly. I can see the violence fizzling anti-climatically, or I can see it starting the demise of the union. At this point I'm just unable to care anymore. I don't know of an action I can take to help, so I must withdraw my attention and find a way to inject something positive.

I'm excited about the new member podcast feed. I've been wanting to offer more exclusive content to members for a while, and I have some ideas. One is sharing more thoughts on optimization and long-term planning, especially around career, goals, and similar topics. Another idea is more interviews. One question I have is whether I should keep sharing the even (member) News & Analysis episodes on the public feed, or if I should move them completely to the member feed. Let me know if you have any ideas on that, or any requests for content.

I'm looking at what large monitor to get for my home studio space, and I'm currently thinking of either the 48" LG OLED TV/Monitor, or this 40" DELL, which has a resolution of 5120 x 2160. The OLED has a lower PPI, but OLED. Hard choice. More


GNU Radio just released version More

Big-O Notation Explained More

This story of a Capitol Police officer in a MAGA hat is a trip. He's a Black Democrat, but he puts on the hat and asks some protesters for some help getting his police officers out of the building. They call him brother and lead a train into the building and help escort like 10 officers out. Really strange mix of sides and emotions in this one. More

We need data engineers a lot more than data scientists. More

The Terminal, Console, and Shell More

A list of the most popular college books in different categories and regions. More

Someone's 10-question DSQ (Dumb Security Questionnaire) More

This is a Deepfake of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman in the latest movies. More

WP-Recon — A Wordpress vuln scanner written in Go. More

Cheat.sh — A really creative way to do tutorials. More


If you haven't seen them already, you have to check out these sea shanties. They're quite emotional to me, especially given how the entire internet has joined forces (mostly on TikTok) to mix and mash them. They're wonderfully simple and unifying. More

Read one of these Greatest Books of All Time. More

Take care of yourself this week. It could be a crazy one. If you need to stay riveted to the news, so be it, but be sure to eat well and get some sleep. And if you need to disconnect, don't feel guilty about that.


“Never take investment advice from someone who has to work for a living.”

~ Nassim Taleb