Thursday, June 23, 2016

This shirt is for Northcutt

I go to Facebook about once a week to see "Where's Waldo". Saw this ad:

I don't particularly need a sweatshirt with my last name on it, but it is a great reminder of targeted advertising.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Guns used in homicide, is the rate increasing or decreasing?

16 One of the hot button items in the upcoming election is gun control. Post Orlando, people are swarming gun shops trying to purchase guns, the media is discussing assault rifles. Most, (over half), Americans have been percepted to believe that gun violence is increasing. It is not. However, the use of guns in suicide is rising.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The "secret" intel chip

Chip on chip is hardly new. But, we generally know what they are. Blogger Damien Zammit writes, "Recent Intel x86 processors implement a secret, powerful control mechanism that runs on a separate chip that no one is allowed to audit or examine. When these are eventually compromised, they'll expose all affected systems to nearly unkillable, undetectable rootkit attacks."

If what Damien is percepting is true, this could be a huge problem and would be a clear cyberwar target.

In Network World, Andy Patrizo poo poo's the alarming statement, "The impending doom comes from the Intel Management Engine (ME), a subsystem that uses a 32-bit Argonaut RISC Core (ARC) microprocessor that's physically located inside the x86 chipset. It's described as "an extra general purpose computer running a firmware blob that is sold as a management system for big enterprise deployments." 

The ME engine runs completely out-of-band with the x86 CPU, so it runs independent of the PC, even when your main CPU is in a low power state like suspend. On some chipsets, the firmware running on the ME implements a system called Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT). AMT is used for remote management of the PC for things like upgrades and installations, which can be done even when a laptop is powered off. ME was introduced on the Core 2 series introduced in 2006 and is in every CPU since then."

Where is truth? Computers have had this basic capability for at least a decade, it is called Wake on LAN. Howtogeek says, "Wake-on-LAN is an industry standard protocol for waking computers up from a very low power mode remotely. The definition of “low power mode” has changed a bit over time, but we can take it to mean while the computer is “off” and has access to a power source. The protocol also allows for a supplementary Wake-on-Wireless-LAN ability as well."

The key point is that Wake on LAN is industry standard, the new Intel management chip is proprietary. We will have to watch and see.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Google search: Three black teenagers

Slashdot reported: On June 6, Kabir Alli, an 18-year old in Virginia, posted a brief video of himself running a couple of quick Google image searches. First he searched for "three black teenagers" and was met with several rows of decontextualized mugshots. Then he searched for "three white teenagers" and was served up stock photos of relaxed teens hanging out in front of various plain white backgrounds. The tweet has stirred controversy, with many people accusing Google of being racist. But is that the case? 

Screenshot for search three black teenagers june 11, 2016

Alli says that while it's Google's fault in some sense as they should have better control over the things people see, he also believes that at the end of the day, what Google shows us is a reflection of what people think. 

A Google spokesperson had similar things to say.

"Our image search results are a reflection of content from across the web, including the frequency with which types of images appear and the way they're described online. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what image search results appear for a given query. These results don't reflect Google's own opinions or beliefs -- as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures."

Rape is becoming the norm in Europe - Nobody is talking about it

For this blogpost we define rape as: a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration perpetrated against a person without that person's consent. Wikipedia has a very well balanced and researched description of what is called the Cologne rapes, but it was more involved than than just Cologne.

"During the 2016 New Year's Eve celebrations, hundreds of sexual assaults (including groping), numerous thefts, and at least five rapes were reported in Germany, mainly in Cologne city centre.

Similar incidents were reported in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Stuttgart, and Bielefeld. All of the incidents involved women being surrounded and assaulted by groups of men on the street. There are more than 1,900 victims and it is reported that up to 1,000 men may have been involved in Cologne, acting in groups of several dozen. Police reported that the perpetrators were men of "Arab or North African appearance" and said that Germany had never experienced such mass sexual assaults before. The attacks sparked an international outcry, a debate about women's rights, the sustainability of Germany's asylum policy, and social differences between European societies and those of North Africa and the Middle East. Taking place during the European migrant crisis (see timeline), the attacks also led to a hardening of attitudes against mass immigration."

Did the assaults end after New Years? No.

This is a graphic from the Gatestone Institute of the reported rapes in Germany and surrounding countries since then. The red ones are assaults against children.  In the United States, according to the Department of Justice, The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that the majority of rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated against women and girls in the United States between 1992 and 2000 were not reported to the police. Only 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes, and 26 percent of sexual assaults were reported.

In Germany, the percent is believed to be lower. Much lower. When most Americans heard about the events in Cologne, they wondered why the police did not do more. According to buzzfeed:

"This is the irony women’s activists are struggling with in the wake of attacks in Cologne. A quick squeeze of the breasts, a hand on the ass, an unwanted kiss — when it happens in a public space, none of these are against the law in Germany.

“The German law accepts that a man generally has the right to touch a woman, to have sexual intercourse with a woman. It’s his right, unless the woman shows her resistance very, very strongly,” said Chantal Louis, an editor at Emma, Germany’s oldest feminist magazine. “We have a situation where … even touching the breasts or vagina can’t be punished in the logic of that law, because if the perpetrator does it very quickly, you don’t have time to resist. It seems weird and crazy, but that’s German law.

There are several perceptors in play here. We could talk about the muslim perceptor that women must dress differently. Or the backlash against muslim immigrants. But I would like to drill down on the fear and pain women and children feel right now in Germany. And from January till now, it has been cool in Germany, winter to spring, June 20, the start of summer, is just around the corner. This is when people tend to wear looser and lighter clothes.

Or swimming pools, according to the daily mail, "The Arriba water park (picture) in Norderstedt, Germany, says it has been forced to segregate men and women after a string of girls were sexually assaulted by migrants over the last year 

The girls aged 14 and 18 had been using the water slides but their attackers, both from Afghanistan aged 14 and 34, had been waiting for them at the bottom and had then sexually assaulted them.

The accused are being kept in custody as prosecutors said that the degree of the sexual assault was so severe that it justified rape charges.

Before that, the fun park was at the centre of similar problems last summer when four teenagers aged 15 and the fifth aged 17 had also been molested on the slides by a group of asylum seekers.

And it is not just Germany, according to the Swedish Expressen, (translated from Swedish): "The popular Eriksdal in Stockholm introduced gender-segregated whirlpools earlier this year after extensive problems with boys and young men groping women.

Last year, there were 14 police reports concerning sexual molestation of the bath where girls as young as eleven years were victims , reported the Daily News earlier this year. On Monday, police announced that they will now expand its coverage of the bath and uniformed police regularly patrol in the bathhouse . The reason is that sexual assaults continued to increase."

One thing the German government is trying are posters depicting correct behavior. I have my doubts that they will serve as a powerful perceptor. Poster versus Bikini, you make the call.

SEME - Search Engine Manipulation Effect

WARNING: Don't Google the term SEME without the context shown below; I did and it was gross.

This blogpost is about a potentially huge perceptor if in fact true. From Fortune, "Robert Epstein, a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, and colleague Ronald E. Robertson recently conducted an experiment in which they conclude that Google GOOG has the power to rig the 2016 presidential election. They call it the Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME).

Through five experiments in two countries, they found that biased rankings in search results can shift the opinions of undecided voters by 20% or more, sometimes even reaching as high as 80% in some demographic groups. If Google tweaks its algorithm to show more positive search results for a candidate, the researchers say, the searcher may form a more positive opinion of him or her.

Considering the fact that most presidential elections are won by small margins, Epstein believes that biased Google search rankings could potentially decide the outcome of an election."

I have been doing research on search engine rankings for the words Trump and Clinton and other related terms. There is something happening that is hard to explain. Though the news about Trump is consistently being published, the number of results in a Google search for that name are decreasing. If I wasn't tracking this for myself, I would tend to dismiss Epstein as a kook.

Science magazine has a pretty good article on the topic and reports the results of an experiment run in the USA, "The large sample size—and additional details provided by users—allowed the researchers to pinpoint which demographics were most vulnerable to search engine manipulation: Divorcees, Republicans, and subjects who reported low familiarity with the candidates were among the easiest groups to influence, whereas participants who were better informed, married, or reported an annual household income between $40,000 and $50,000 were harder to sway. Moderate Republicans were the most susceptible of any group: The manipulated search results increased the number of undecided voters who said they would choose the favored candidate by 80%."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Triangle of life - fact or fiction

Interesting when you get two conflicting pieces of information in the same day. I was reading my email in the morning and it talked about the Triangle of life from rescue expert Doug Copps. The idea is that you have a better chance of survival by "simply rolling off a bed onto the floor if you are in bed or taking refuge next to a large sofa or chair when the earth starts moving."

Later, I was standing in the Sumner WA Parks and Rec center and I saw this poster.

Big difference. The poster advocates UNDER instead of BESIDE and is the Red Cross take on the subject. This has come up with Truth or Fiction. And keep in mind this really matters, we are talking about staying alive.

Ducking next to a refrigerator seems like a bad idea, most of them are not attached to the wall and it would really hurt if it fell on you.

I am leaning towards snopes summary: "We'd recommend sticking with safety information prepared by established earthquake safety experts, such as the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Earthquake Country Alliance."

Neighborhood roads - no longer

This was posted on Slashdot, June 8: "For many drivers, the app Waze is a godsend, providing real-time, crowdsourced traffic tips to motorists desperate for alternatives to congested thoroughfares but to some residents of the formerly quiet neighborhoods through which Waze has rerouted countless commuters, the app has destroyed their quality of life. Steve Hendrix writes at the Washington Post that when traffic on Timothy Connor's quiet Maryland street in Tamoka Park, MD suddenly jumped by several hundred cars an hour, he knew that Waze was to blame for routing cars around a months-long road repair through his neighborhood. "I could see them looking down at their phones," says Connor. "We had traffic jams, people were honking. It was pretty harrowing." So Connor became a Waze Warrior. Every rush hour, he went on the Google-owned social-media app and posted false reports of a wreck, speed trap or other blockage on his street, hoping to deflect some of the flow. Neighbors filed false reports of blockages, sometimes with multiple users reporting the same issue to boost their credibility. "It used to be that only locals knew all the cut-through routes, but Google Maps and Waze are letting everyone know," says Bates Mattison. "In some extreme cases, we have to address it to preserve the sanctity of a residential neighborhood." But Waze was way ahead of them. It's not possible to fool the system for long, according to Waze officials. For one thing, the system knows if you're not actually in motion. More importantly, it constantly self-corrects, based on data from other drivers. "The nature of crowdsourcing is that if you put in a fake accident, the next 10 people are going to report that it's not there," says Julie Mossler, Waze's head of communications. The company will suspend users they suspect of "tampering with the map."

We spend our winters on Kauai and live on a road that is the width of a one lane road. But it parallels the highway and when the highway gets congested people start turning out road into a highway trying to get ahead of the traffic. In the past it was locals, but lately it has included what are clearly rental cars. Now I know why. I hope that Google/Waze is balancing the cost of running over a child riding a bicycle, (hey, it is a neighborhood road), with the profits they are making.