Sweden leaks massive data, Amazon misleads consumers and the Library of Congress opens its catalogs — Issue #19

Gregory B.
Aug 14, 2017 · 8 min read

Swedish Government leaks massive data, Amazon misleads consumers and the Library of Congress opens its catalogs to the world 🤓


🌍 Around the web

Swedish Government Scrambles to Contain Damage From Data Breach

There it is, your weekly mind blowing data leak. This one is very impressive in quantity and kind of information leaked.

Sweden’s government is scrambling to contain the political fallout from a huge breach of confidential data, including the possible disclosure of the identities of undercover operatives, under the watch of a government contractor (…) adequate safeguards were not adopted, and as a result, unauthorized personnel at IBM subsidiaries in Eastern Europe had access to vast troves of sensitive information, including details about bridges, roads, ports, the subway system in Stockholm and other infrastructure. In addition, the identities of people working undercover for the Swedish police and the Swedish security service, known as Sapo, may have been revealed, along with names of people working undercover for the special intelligence unit of the Swedish armed forces.

Amazon jacked up Prime Day prices, misleading consumers, says vendor

Amazon is in trouble with this vendor that realized during Prime Day that they bump up the price of products as soon as they start seeing it in high demand. It also seems like he’s not the only one noticing.

A Charlotte-based startup says e-commerce giant Amazon jacked up their suggested retail price during the company’s annual discount event — Prime Day — to deceive consumers into thinking that they were getting a deal, when in reality, they weren’t.
Last week, Reuters reported The Federal Trade Commission is looking into similar allegations against Amazon regarding discount-pricing policies misleading consumers (…)
“We did two studies that patterned Amazon using bogus prices to create the impression that people were getting a discount when their ‘was’ price never was. Our survey in June examined 1,000 products on the retailer’s website and found more than half (61%), had ‘was’ prices that never were,” John M. Simpson, consumer watchdog privacy project director.

Amazon’s Whole Foods deal under scrutiny

Rough week for Amazon, US regulators will review Amazon’s $13.7bn acquisition of Whole Foods after some groups have raised anti-trust concerns.

The proposed merger has drawn extra attention, coming amid rising concern about the effects of consolidation in a variety of US industries, including airlines, banking and telecommunications. (…) Amazon plans to resubmit paperwork to the Federal Trade Commission this week, re-setting the deadline for a preliminary government review of the deal, Whole Foods disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

VPN crackdown an ‘unthinkable’ trial by firewall for China’s research world

You can’t cut people’s connexion to the world and expect nothing to happen.

Like most academics, biology ­researcher Dr Jose Pastor-Pareja relies heavily on Google’s search engine, using it “every 10 minutes”, he says. But access to this resource is not guaranteed as he works at Tsinghua University in China — where the government has been tightening what are already among the strictest controls over the internet in the world. (…) If researchers cannot use VPNs to access a free and open internet, it might lead to government censorship of academic information and a “brain drain” of skilled individuals overseas, one researcher says. (…) His personal VPN subscription, paid for out of his own pocket, allows him to access Google, monitor his Twitter feed for the latest scientific literature, and connect with the wider scientific community via social media. “Everybody here does the same,” he said. “First-class research at a truly competitive level can’t go on with researchers cut off from the outside world. It’s truly unthinkable.”

Trump’s Policies Are Already Sending Jobs to Canada

Startups look north for refuge as the US pauses a program meant to keep them here. Who’s surprised?

Bidshahri had moved to the United States three years earlier to study neuroscience, and was just months away from graduation, after which she wanted to launch her online education startup in the Bay Area. She planned to take advantage of something called the International Entrepreneur Rule, which would give immigrant founders who raise at least $250,000 in funding temporary legal status in the United States while they build their businesses. For Bidshahri, the rule was perfectly timed. Finalized in the last days of President Obama’s tenure in office, it was set to go into effect this July, just months after she received her diploma. But that email from Boston University about the travel ban got Bidshahri thinking the United States might not be such a welcoming place for her or her company after all. And so, in June, she did what so many other foreign founders have done over the past year: set up shop in Toronto.

The Library of Congress opened its catalogs to the world. Here’s why it matters

Can’t wait to experiment with this stunning data set!

The Library of Congress has made 25 million digital catalog records available for anyone to use at no charge. The free data set includes records from 1968 to 2014.
This is the largest release of digital catalog records in history. These records are part of a data ecosystem that crosses decades and parallels the evolution of information technology.


🤖 Technology / AI / Blockchain / IoT

The Multi-sig Hack: A Postmortem

Remember the crazy multi-sig hack we discussed last week? This is the post-mortem from the Parity team (spoiler alert: they take it very seriously).

While there is no fool-proof means of practically ensuring software contains no bugs, Parity Technologies is committed to minimising the chances that its software contains exploits. In response to the present exploit we will refine our development processes and CI system.
The first and biggest change will be to ensure that any alterations to the codebase that involve live contract code (which can be generally identified through .sol files) be reviewed by Solidity experts. At present the multi-sig wallet is the only Solidity code that is user-deployable and in wide use within Parity.

Bitcoin May Have Just Solved Its Scaling Problem

Follow-up of last week’s update about an end coming to the Bitcoin civil war. The solution being the “Bitcoin Improvement Plan 91,” or BIP 91.

Once BIP 91 is locked-in, the blocks of miners who fail to signal support for segwit will be abandoned by the network. Thus, BIP 91 creates a strong incentive for miners to signal support for segwit. The proposal is timed so that this will all take place before August 1, so that the entire network should be in total consensus before BIP 148 kicks off and splits the blockchain.
Implementing segwit would increase size of blocks of bitcoin data by changing the way cryptographic signatures are recorded in the block. Right now, when you want to send somebody some bitcoin, you “sign” the transaction with the private key associated with your wallet address, as well as the public key of the recipient. These signatures account for the bulk of data (about 60 percent) in a given block on the bitcoin blockchain, which currently have a maximum amount of space of 1 megabyte per block.

If they effectively split, a new currency could appear: Bitcoin Cash. Read more about it here: coindesk.com/coindesk-explainer-bitcoin-cash-forking-blockchain/

Beijing Wants A.I. to Be Made in China by 2030

While Trumps denies sciences and cuts back on science funding China does the exact opposite.

The country laid out a development plan on Thursday to become the world leader in A.I. by 2030, aiming to surpass its rivals technologically and build a domestic industry worth almost $150 billion. (…) The world’s second-largest economy will be investing heavily to ensure its companies, government and military leap to the front of the pack (…)
The plan comes with China preparing a multibillion-dollar national investment initiative to support “moonshot” projects, start-ups and academic research in A.I. (…)The United States, meanwhile, has cut back on science funding. In budget proposals, the Trump administration has suggested slashing resources for a number of agencies that have traditionally backed research in A.I. Other cuts, to areas like high-performance computing, would affect the development of the tools that make A.I. work.


⚙️ Development / Design / DIY projects

Rest APIs are REST-in-Peace APIs. Long Live GraphQL.

Will GraphQL be able to replace REST? Probably not totally but it’ll keep growing for sure.

Please don’t interpret this wrong. I am not going to accuse GraphQL of “killing” REST or anything like that. REST will actually never die, just like XML never did, but who in their right mind would use XML over JSON today? I simply think GraphQL will do to REST what JSON did to XML.
This article is not actually 100% in favor of GraphQL. There is a very important section about the cost of GraphQL’s flexibility. With great flexibility comes great cost.

Flash & The Future of Interactive Content

We know it’s been coming for a while but here it is, finally: the official end-of-life plan!

In collaboration with several of our technology partners — including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Mozilla — Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.

Solidity tutorials to build the future of applications

This course explores all the basic principles of writing smart contracts. From deploying your first smart contract to inheritance, modifiers and simple smart contracts development.

The JavaScript Way book

Learn javascript, the javascript way. Currently in beta but definitely worth the read.

Apple’s refusal to support Progressive Web Apps is a detriment to future of the web

Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are one of the most exciting and innovative things happening in web development right now and Apple doesn’t seem interested.

PWA’s enable you to use JavaScript to create a “service worker”, which gives you all sorts of great features that you’d normally associate with native apps, like push notifications, offline support, and app loading screens — but on the web! Awesome.
Except for is one major problem — While Google has embraced the technology and added support for it in Chrome for Android, Apple has abstained from adding support to mobile Safari. All they’ve done is say that it is “Under Consideration.” Seemingly no discussion about it whatsoever.

Turn Your Raspberry Pi Into an Ultra-Mobile PC

Another amazing geeky project for your long winter weekends.

Perhaps you’ve seen mini Raspberry Pi computing terminals, but thought that, while interesting, they generally involve more tedious electronics work and setup than you prefer. If this sounds like you, then there is good news in the form of the Raspberry UMPC Project.


🔥 Bits and pieces

Best thing you’ll see this week: a Homemade Robot Cracks a SentrySafe Combination Safe in 15 Minutes. The Guardian announced that Microsoft was killing Paint after 32 years and they responded that MS Paint is here to stay.

Little trip down memory lane with “A Million Squandered: The “Million Dollar Homepage” as a Decaying Digital Artifact”. Learn more about trust and Game Theory with this awesome illustration game.

Verizon Throttles Netflix Subscribers In ‘Test’ It Doesn’t Inform Customers About and gives them a taste of what no net neutrality would look like. Kite seems to be using the open-source projects for profit and it doesn’t look good!

Discover the (many) tools selected for Black Hat Arsenal USA 2017. See how AlphaBay and Hansa have been taken down. And finally, check out Troy Hunt’s article about the evolution of passwords: Authentication Guidance for the Modern Era.

The Aspiring Nerd

Weekly curated articles at the crossroads of web marketing, development and technology.

Gregory B.

Written by

Web strategist with a conscience.

The Aspiring Nerd

Weekly curated articles at the crossroads of web marketing, development and technology.

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