our dark future

CO2 is Poison

You may have seen the recent report about surpassing 400ppm for good. You've certainly heard about how CO2 is the main culprit behind climate change. Odds are you haven't heard that the greatest threat from rising carbon dioxide levels may in fact be to our health. To be clear, CO2 is poison (just like Oxygen or water are) at high enough levels. The trick is figuring out what levels (and for how long) cause a detrimental health effects in humans. Perhaps you remember the tense scene in Apollo 13 where Houston has to figure out a way for the astronauts to scrub the gas from their... read more »

E2E Encryption, Facebook Messenger, and a Whole Bunch of Problems

Tech blogs were awash with news today that Facebook, a world leader in exploiting user data for profit, is introducing end to end encryption to Facebook Messenger. The new feature, called Secret Conversations, is an opt-in (booo) conversation mode that utilizes Open Whisper Systems' Signal Protocol (yayyy) for complete end to end encryption (meaning facebook cannot read the data exchanged). Facebook added a few bonus features such as self destructing messages and suggests that this tech would be excellent for communicating private information like health issues or financial info. That's where most of the articles ended, just enough info to give a nice bit of PR... read more »

Apple Patents Tech to Control Your Camera

A recent Apple patent filing (benignly titled "Systems and methods for receiving infrared data with a camera designed to detect images based on visible light") hints at future filled with smart device limitations. In it's most basic form, the patent explains a technology that detects invisible information (infrared light in the examples) that are read by your phone when trying to take a photograph or record a video. The infrared light is captured by the camera on your phone and can execute special commands based on the data it carries. Starting to sound a little ominous, but let's continue. The main use case for this, Apple... read more »

Everything is a Microphone: VibraPhone

A very intriguing research paper (PDF) just came out of the University of Illinois Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. PhD candidate Nirupam Roy and associate professor Romit Roy Choudhury have devised an ingenious use for the vibration motors commonly found your phone, activity tracker, smartwatch, and any other electronic device that can vibrate: a ubiquitous microphone. Dubbed VibraPhone, the researchers realized that the construction of a vibration motor is very similar to that of a microphone diaphragm. Microphones work at their simplest level by having a moving piece (a diaphragm) that vibrates in sync with the sound vibrations that travel through the air. These vibrations... read more »

Google Allo is Fucking Stupid

Yesterday, Google announced their new messaging app (after several previous attempts and failures in the space) Allo (pronounced Aloe). I'm going to spare you the circlejerk the tech media world has had over the "groundbreaking tech" and just go over the ways Google fucked up. Incognito Mode One of Google's big features for Allo is the inclusion of an end to end encrypted "incognito mode." The encryption for this is provided in partnership with Open Whisper System's signal protocol which is considered the state of the art for encrypted mobile messaging (and can be found in WhatsApp and OWS's own Signal application). This is big news... read more »