Here’s some fun and/or interesting stories and images that crossed my browser this week.
Dune is the best science fiction novel ever written, and I will gladly have an unshielded knife fight with anyone who wants to dispute this statement.
David Lynch’s movie version of Dune is probably the worst adaptation of a book in the history of cinema, and definitely not worth fighting over (and I’m certainly not going to link to it). However, this image combining a visual from Lynch’s movie and a certain autumnal coffee beverage is awesome.
Allergic To WiFi?
A Massachusetts couple have sued their son’s school because they claim that the school’s wireless network is causing medical problems for their son, including “nosebleeds, dizziness, heart palpitations, and nausea.”
The condition is know as electromagnetic hypersensitivity, but as the article points out, there’s no good evidence for a causal connection between electromagnetic waves and the symptoms.
Robot Fight: USA Vs. Japan
A Kickstarter project has raised more than half a million dollars to help a group called MegaBots compete in a giant robot fight against a team from Japan. The robots, controlled from inside by human operators, will fight hand-to-hand.
The US team will spend the money to upgrade an existing robot to improve armor and weapons, boost its speed, and enhance its power pack. More than 7,000 people donated money to the project.
Part of me thinks that this money could be put to better purposes. But another part of me thinks “Giant robot fight? Hell yeah! Thanks, Internet!”
From the Overblown Headlines Dept.
Researchers at the University of Illinois have created a smartwatch app that uses the watch’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope to figure out what the watch’s wearer is typing on the keyboard.
It sounds like a neat project, and IoT security is a serious issue, but the university’s PR department got a little ahead of itself with the headline “Watch out: If you’ve got a smartwatch, hackers could get your data.”
Very attention-grabbing, until you read the release and find out the app “can’t detect special characters such as numbers, punctuation, and symbols that might appear in passwords. The space bar or key also poses an obstacle. In addition, researchers can only collect data from the hand wearing the watch and from people who have standard typing patterns.”
That’s a lot of caveats. And if you’re really worried about your privacy, there are more pressing issues, as the next section demonstrates.
Just Because You’re Paranoid…
Hey, remember how we found out that government agencies in two of the world’s largest democracies were spying on their own citizens? Now there’s a way to see if your calls or emails got caught in the net, thanks to an advocacy group called Privacy International.
According to a story in Wired:
Thanks to a legal victory Privacy International obtained earlier this year, the UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal is now required to search through data the GCHQ obtained from the NSA for information collected on anyone in the world if that person so requests it. If you request the info and the Tribunal finds something, it must let you know.”
Privacy International set up an online tool to make it easy to request a search.
But as the Wired story notes, you have to make your request before December 5, 2015. I guess you can think of it as an early Christmas present for your paranoia.