Unsupervised Learning No. 230

News & Analysis

MEMBER EDITION | EP. 230 | May 25, 2020

THIS WEEK’S TOPICS: Twitter Bots, Face Recognition Headsets, Chrome Bug Memories, Virtual Currency, White House OPSEC, Realtime Language Translation, Technology News, Human News, Ideas Trends & Analysis, Discovery, Recommendations, and the Weekly Aphorism…


Ukraine has raided the home of and detained the hacker named Sanix who tried to sell 773 million stolen email addresses and 21 million passwords. More

Carnegie Mellon found that between 45-60% of Twitter accounts discussing COVID-19 could be bots. Many of the accounts spreading m/disinformation were created in February, and have been amplifying bad information about the virus ever since. More

A number of companies are trying to make AR headsets that do facial recognition so they can sell them to law enforcement, first responders, retail, etc. I think this is extremely likely to happen, just because it's so heavily desired by so many groups. The question is just how dystopian it'll be when it happens. More

70% of all Chrome bugs are related to memory safety. More

A hacker group going after virtual currency is targeting game developers by installing malware (called PipeMon) that lets them gain access to development servers. They're using that access to modify the game itself, allowing them to acquire in-game currency. More

The US Press Secretary displayed a check in front of the media that included the president's account and routing numbers. More

A grandmother in Europe has been posting pictures of her grandchildren against their and their parents' wishes, and she's now been ordered to delete them under GDPR. More

US Special Operations are looking to use AI to translate enemy language in realtime. More

Google has turned on DNS over HTTP by default in Chrome. More

China is moving in on Hong Kong and establishing new rules, possibly ending much of its autonomy. Taiwan has pledged to help Hong Kong, which doesn't bode well for stability in the region. More

China is starting to use "Cold War" language in its dealings with the US around blame for COVID-19. More


  • There is a critical flaw in Cisco's call center in a box product. More


  • People who had their data hacked in the EasyJet breach didn't just lose their credit card details; the attackers also got access to their travel itineraries. This reminds me a lot of the Chinese hacks on Equifax, OPM, and Marriott. The more you know about someone the easier it is to take action against them, and knowing where they're traveling is a great piece of that puzzle. More

  • HomeChef loses 8 million records. More

  • Thailand's largest cellphone network provider had a database of 8 billion DNS queries. More


Facebook, along with many other tech companies, is saying a massive percentage of their workers will be transitioned to remote work permanently. More

Joe Rogan, who probably has the most popular podcast in the world (192 million downloads a month, evidently), signed an exclusive podcasting deal with Spotify. He says it'll be the same exact show, but it won't be on YouTube or anywhere else anymore. Podcasting continues to evolve into a serious medium. More My Thoughts on Rogan's Popularity

Researchers from three different Melbourne universities achieved a new download speed of 44.2 terabits per second over normal fiber optic cable. More 

Netflix is going to stop charging you if your account has been inactive for two years. That's unexpected and spectacular. More

Magic Leap, after saying it was laying off 1,000 employees, now says they just raised $350 million dollars. More

AT&T will supposedly drop the 5G Evolution branding for its current 4G phones. Which makes sense given the fact that all their 4G phones are in fact 4G, and not 5G, which is different than 4G. I can't believe they really did that in the first place. I bet the change will roll out right as actual 5G gets released. But now they've spoiled the release since people will think they've already had it. More


The US birthrate has fallen to the lowest level in 35 years. The teen birthrate peaked in 1991, and has fallen 73% since then. More

Dolphins are so upset from the lack of human contact that they've started bringing presents to shore in an attempt to get people to return. More

The next big threat to the economy could be people saving money. The savings rate jumped to 13.1%, which is the highest its been since 1981. More

Google evidently doesn't plan to go entirely remote, and Zuckerberg has said similar things about perhaps only half ending up being fully remote. More

The University of California will stop using SAT and ACT tests for admission criteria because they believe they're biased against minorities. More

MasterClass just raised $100 million for celebrity-powered content. More

The Atlantic has laid off almost 20% of its staff. More


An Information Security Glossary of Terms More

Analysis of the 2020 Verizon DBIR Report More

Is China Making a Major Strategy Mistake More

The University of California will stop using SAT and ACT tests for admission criteria because they believe they're biased against minorities. This is idiotic because you need some way of predicting who will succeed in college, otherwise you end up clogging up the system with people who aren't prepared to succeed. And any such test that's used in place of standardized tests, e.g., high school grades, will have the same exact results. So what you're left with is either not testing at all or getting the same results from whatever test is used. What's not mentioned is that asians are also minorities, but they score even higher than whites on these same tests. Why? Because they have a superior work ethic when it comes to academics. The answer to getting bad test results is to determine and address root causes, not to stop testing. And actually, let me save the state many millions of dollars for multi-year studies and provide the answer everyone already knows: high scores are correlated with study time. Asians study more. Asians get better scores. It's like magic! Whites don't study as much, and they get lower scores. Amazing! Where's my Nobel prize! And if you find groups that get really bad grades, and really bad scores, you'll find groups that don't prioritize (or aren't able to prioritize) school or studying, and thus don't spend time doing it. This is not a mystery; it's simply uncomfortable because families that prioritize academics tend to be more affluent. So the connection is made between affluence and privilege, when the actual connection is usually affluence and academic prioritization, academic self-discipline, and academic work ethic. It's absolutely true that it's a luxury to have a family that instills these things in you, but it's not the type of thing that you solve by letting everyone into the universities where they are extremely likely to fail. Or, to put it another way, if poor people are bad at math we have two options as a society: we can ban math because it’s discriminatory against poor people, or we can address poverty. And California has unfortunately decided to ban math. This is yet another well-meaning, far-left policy that will end up hurting the exact people it's meant to help. As the public schools are flooded with people who aren't prepared to be there, those who prioritize academics will simply move to better, more exclusive options. And the result is as inevitable as it is obvious, i.e., rich and poor students moving even further apart in achievement than they were before. More SAT Scores by Group

Remember how everyone hated open-plan offices? Well those are about to be even less popular when people head back to the office. People are going to want more partitions, not zero.

Here's an argument that book clubs should meet more often and discuss the book as the group reads it. Is this something we should try here for the UL Book Club? More


I am currently reading two books:

  1. Data Loom, by Stephen Few More

  2. Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy More

I am astounded by the quality of Tolstoy's writing. It's the most insightful look into human psychology that I've ever experienced through reading. The dialogue, the way he describes small gestures, etc. He makes every interaction acutely realistic. If you've not read this book, you should. There's a reason it's considered the best work of literature of all time.

The book club is meeting this coming weekend, and I think we're going to select another book this time.


I'm thinking about trying one of these HELIX mattresses. Anyone have one already? More

Calculus Made Easy PDF More

Why OPSEC is for Everyone, Not Just People With Something to Hide More

The state of facial recognition around the world [Infographic] More

A great collection of data visualizations. More

Wired's list of the best online mattresses. More

Bespoke Software, and a Simple RSS Aggregator More

How to Manage an Employee Who's Struggling to Perform Remotely More

If you're a Reddit user, you can use this link to pull your whole ecosystem as RSS. That means all your messages, your upvotes, your downvotes, etc. More

How to Draw Block Diagrams More

Why the Cessna is such a badass plane. More

Honeybees eat the leaves of plants to force them to flower. More

ScoutSuite — A multi-cloud security auditing tool. More

Org Mode — Organize your life in plain text. More


We're all going to be spending more time at home—likely for a long time. I just went through a major upgrade phase in a number of key areas. Basically, my idea is that anything that you interface with often, and that interacts with your senses regularly, you should consider doing a major upgrade on. Here are some examples:

  • Your mattress (get a sleep mask)

  • Your pillows

  • Your webcam

  • Your monitors

  • Your TV (Go OLED if you can)

  • Your coffee setup (grinder, coffee, brewers, etc.)

  • Your speaker system

  • Key cooking utensils

  • Etc.

You spend so much time interacting with these items that you can magnify your efficiency or your happiness by upgrading them. If you want specific recommendations, let me know. Bottom line: for the things you interact with a lot at home, that you've been putting off upgrading, now might be the time.


“Art, like life, should both be free, since both are experimental.”

~ George Santayana

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