Unsupervised Learning Newsletter No. 300

News & Analysis

MEMBER EDITION  | Episode 300 | Monday: September 27, 2021


CISA, FBI, and NSA have released a joint cybersecurity advisory around Conti ransomware. Primary attack methods include: spearphishing, RDP, phone calls, fake software, and vulnerabilities in external assets. More

The Republican Governors Association had its email server hacked by a state actor. More

Microsoft is disabling Basic Authentication in Exchange Online starting on October 1st. More

China has deemed all cryptocurrency-related activity to be illegal, and is moving to ban the whole ecosystem. Bitcoin naturally crashed at the news, and took all the other major coins with it. They have since recovered significantly. More

ByteDance has limited TikTok use to 40 minutes a day for Chinese kids under 14. More


  • Cisco releases updates for multiple products. More

  • Sonicwall patches critical vuln in SMA appliances. More


  • A database of 106 million visitors to Thailand was exposed online. More


  • SecurityTrails acquires surface.io. More

  • F5 is buying Threat Stack for $68 million in cash. More

  • AI-powered disinformation detection platform Blackbird raises $10 million. More

  • Cyber risk management platform Panorays pulls $42 million. More

  • LG purchased automotive security company Cybellum for $240 million. More


Surface Laptop Studio is Microsoft's new laptop, and it's getting strong reviews. Its primary feature is a 2400x1600 display that works at 120 Hz and supports Dolby Vision. More

AWS is getting an Auckland, New Zealand region in 2024. More

Amazon has deployed cameras in half of its delivery vehicles, and they're now having 48% fewer accidents, and 77% fewer run red lights and stop signs. The cameras are still controversial, however, due to the perceived dehumanizing nature of Amazon's obsession with worker productivity. More

Cory Doctorow says The Framework is the most exciting laptop he's ever used. I'm somewhat intrigued, but I confess after reading a lot of his work that I see many of his technology choices as potential characters in his novels rather than actual tech choices. It's like he's picking stuff to use based on how cool it'll make him sound when he mentions it casually in a conversation later. It's somehow more annoying than talking about luxury or expensive things. It's more RMS-like. Like, "I browse the web using ed and an oscilloscope." … "so I can talk later about how I browse the web." Perhaps that's too harsh. It's just the vibe I get. And iFixit teardown conversations don't help the situation. I just can't imagine a world where I want to tear apart and fix/upgrade my laptop. Not in a world where the tech moves so quickly. It feels like scene-based rather than task-oriented computing. More

It looks like Apple is developing iPhone/Watch features to detect depression and cognitive decline. More

Amazon's ad group made $6.9 billion in the first quarter of 2021. More

Slack launches Clips, which are video messages that help you avoid meetings. They're basically like mini-presentations that might supplant the need to meet at all. More


  • AI-powered supply chain visibility platform Altana raises $15 million. More

  • Software supply chain platform Cloudsmith raises $15 million. More


The murder rate rose by 30% in the US in 2020. More

We just found the oldest human footprints in North America. They're 23,000 years old, and they're in New Mexico. More

A new study says it's your behavior and not your age that slows your metabolism. In short, being sedentary is the main culprit, and adding high-intensity bursts along with walking throughout the day can help significantly. More

TikTokers are investing by mirroring trades made by people in congress. More Tracker Site 1, Tracker Site 2

TikTok is merging (colliding?) with Hollywood. More

In the 1980s everyone was worried about population explosion, and now people are worried about population decline. More


Predictive Purchases This VentureBeat article makes a good argument around predictive transactions. Basically, you come home from work (so they went to an office?), and you have a bunch of Amazon deliveries waiting for you. And it's stuff that you needed but didn't have time to order. I wrote about this in my book in 2016, but I saw it more as a function of the person's digital assistant. I suppose it could be, and will be, both. It'll be the companies themselves, and the digital assistant. The reason I think it'll be more on the DA side, though, is because it'll have more real-time context than the companies will. Unless the DA companies and the back-end companies are the same company, e.g., Apple or Amazon or Google. Let's take an example: Your Mood. The system most likely to know your mood is one that's connected most intimately to you. Cameras in your house. Bio metrics on your body. Voice analysis. Gait analysis. Analysis of your conversational tone. Combine all that with the way you're driving home, and how many meetings you had, combined with what you've eaten and how much exercise and sleep you've had recently, and now the AI has a pretty good chance of guessing what you might want or need. But that's a LOT of context. I can see Apple or Amazon earning that trust over time, but it'll be somewhat harder for Google and much harder for Facebook. And then you need to own, or have access to, the entire software and hardware ecosystem that makes that all possible. So that's another limiter. Bottom line: to truly do prediction well, you're going to need to have context. And context requires data both from meatspace and from your back-end activity. More


This is my 300th episode, and I want to thank all of you for making this a thing. I'm humbled and enriched by the knowledge that there are people like you in the world. People who value curiosity and positivity above all else. Thank you for being an increasingly important part of my life.

We had a good book club yesterday, and we selected the new book that can be found at the bottom of the newsletter. I'll be putting it at the bottom of every member episode from now on. Thanks to Vicki for rightly recommending some BIPOC perspective diversity in our reading. This month's book is a good example of why this expansion of perspective is important: a number of us in the book club acknowledged that we'd never have read this book if it weren't for this book club. And most of us had never even heard of the author. Diversity in perspective is both an exercise and a reward. And like other types of health and fitness, it's something you have to work to maintain.

I'm excited about the new Foundation series on AppleTV+. The first episode is beautiful, but yeah—it's a bit slow. I feel like I want to read the books again. More

The new iPhone (I got the 1TB Pro) is a decent upgrade. The things you'll notice the most are 1) the battery, 2) the screen, and 3) the camera. The battery basically takes me all day now, where I only got like 2/3 of a day with the 12 Pro. More

After Paul posted about this telescope in our Slack channel, I went and bought its smaller sibling, the Stellina. I'd been researching telescopes, and this is the right combination of power and Apple-like interface I was looking for. More


How to live in AirBnBs for the price of an apartment lease. More

The First Rule of Machine Learning: Try it Without Machine Learning More

Does your company have a security.txt file? More

A visual of global submarine cables. More

Walking vs. Driving is now part of the Culture Wars More

How Putin's bodyguards work. More

Are You Playing to Play, or Playing to Win? More


The better the advice, the more boring it'll sound. Ask successful people later in life what got them there, and the answers will put you to sleep. Pay closer attention to that boring advice. It's the best stuff out there.


"There are periods when public opinion is the worst of opinion."

~ Nicolas de Chamfort