An article at Wired reminds us that Google Search is not the objective source of information it appears to many users. We learn that “A New Tool Shows How Google Results Vary Around the World.” Researchers and PhD students Rodrigo Ochigame of MIT and Katherine Ye of Carnegie Mellon University created Search Atlas, an experimental Google Search interface. The tool displays three different sets of results to the same query based on location and language, illustrating both cultural differences and government preferences. “Information borders,” they call it.
The first example involves image searches for “Tiananmen Square.” Users in the UK and Singapore are shown pictures of the government’s crackdown on student protests in 1989. Those in China, or elsewhere using the Chinese language setting, see pretty photos of a popular tourist destination. Google says the difference has nothing to do with censorship—they officially stopped cooperating with the Chinese government on that in 2010, after all. It is just a matter of localized results for those deemed likely to be planning a trip. Sure. Writer Tom Simonite describes more of the tool’s results:
Microsoft Percept: Perception in the Azure Cloud
Does your printer work? The printer is fine and our Apple Minis and laptops have zero problem generating hard copy. What about people joining a Teams meeting when those individuals are not 365 paying customers? Have you plugged in a second or third monitor and wondered where the icons went when using Windows 10? How is Windows Defender working for you since you received the Revil ransomware popup?
Update (0736ET): After an hour of websites and apps worldwide went dark, many are coming back online around 0730 ET. The core problem was an “issue” identified on the Fastly CDN (content delivery network) network.
Popular websites such as Twitch, Pinterest, HBO Max, Hulu, Reddit, Spotify, which Fastly runs a content delivery network to push data around the internet, went down around 0600 ET. With so many websites relying on Fastly's technology to act as a high-level website and application hosting service to serve millions of users, the internet breaks when their servers go down.
Surveillance: Looking Forward
I read “The Future of Communication Surveillance: Moving Beyond Lexicons.” The article explains that word lists and indexing are not enough. (There’s no mention of non text objects and icons with specific meanings upon which bad actors agree before including them in a text message.)
I noted this passage:
Advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and pre-trained models can better detect misconduct and pinpoint the types of risk that a business cares about. AI and ML should work alongside metadata filtering and lexicon alerting to remove irrelevant data and classify communications.
Cyber Security: What Are You Doing?
I read “A Federal Government Left Completely Blind on Cyber attacks Looks to Force Reporting.” The write up uses a phrase for which there are a limited number of synonyms in English; namely, completely blind. There are numerous types of blindness. There’s the metaphorical blindness of William James, who coined the phrase “a certain blindness.” The wordy kin of the equally wordy Henry James means, I think, that some people just can’t “see” something. A friend says, “You will love working at Apple.” You say, “I don’t think so.” Hey, working at Apple is super, like the chaos monkeys on steroids.
Color—the stuff, the red-green-blue of the world—is a lot of things all at once. It’s the rain of uncountable photons of energy, bouncing off of and through everything around you. It’s electromagnetic waves. It’s the chemistry of paints and dyes. And it’s those things interwoven and pinging into sensors in your eyeballs and transducing into the mysterious electrical signals in your brain that make a world in your mind. Oh, and color is also the way that Pixar manipulates your feelings with each new billion-dollar, Oscar-winning movie, turning virtual light inside a computer into very real, very bright, laser-guided light on a screen. For my new book Full Spectrum: How the Science of Color Made Us Modern—excerpted this week on Backchannel—I went inside Pixar’s prismatic digital workshop to learn how the animators there teach infinitesimal flecks of light to evoke every color of the emotional rainbow.
This sounds like old news. This is really new news. The trust outfit Thomson Reuters published “U.S. Government Probes VPN Hack within Federal Agencies, Races to Find Clues.” The main idea is that despite the amped up cyber security efforts, another somewhat minor issue has been discovered. The trust outfit reports:
The new government breaches involve a popular virtual private network (VPN) known as Pulse Connect Secure, which hackers were able to break into as customers used it. More than a dozen federal agencies run Pulse Secure on their networks, according to public contract records.