lauren

@lauren@mastodon.laurenweinstein.org

< Tech Systems & Policy Analysis: Internet, Privacy, plus his other sundry topics >
Los Angeles - lauren.vortex.com

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lauren, to random

Boiled down to its essential components, the continuing plot line of the "Resident Alien" TV series is that the planet Earth is saved from destruction at the hands of extraterrestrials by ... pizza. Works for me.

lauren, (edited ) to random

BREAKING: At Trump trial, judge warns Trump lawyer that he will not permit prospective jurors to be intimidated, after Trump speaks loudly enough to be heard by nearby prospective jurors.

lauren, to random

During a small meeting during the production of the first Trek film ("Star Trek: The Motion Picture" - 1979 - ST:TMP), an executive asked for examples of special effects that we thought were inappropriate. I named a famous sci-fi film and noted some effects from it that I always thought were silly. As I said this, the gentleman seated to my immediate right started squirming -- a well known special effects guru. Finally he couldn't take it anymore - "I did those!" he blurted out. Everybody had a nervous laugh, and I was reminded of the importance of staying up to date with coworkers' filmographies.

lauren, to random

BREAKING: Truth Social announces video streaming of content that "is being suppressed elsewhere". Stock immediately tanks even further.

dmandl, to random
@dmandl@mastodon.social avatar

Feeling down? There's always this.

lauren,

@dmandl "Feeling down." No pun intended, right?

cstross, to random
@cstross@wandering.shop avatar

So of course it is in my headcanon that Dr. Phibes' muse Vulnavia writes Fantômas fanfic in her spare time between murdering their enemies by sneaking rabid weasels into their underpants drawer. Right?

lauren,

@cstross One of my favorite short scenes in any film is when Price exits after draining all of Terry-Thomas' blood. He walks past a garish nude painting which the camera locks down on for several seconds. Then Price reenters, looks at the painting, looks at Thomas, and looks disgusted. Then he exits again.

Knowing that Price was an art connoisseur makes this so delightful.

lauren, to random

This is the script from my 4/15/24 national radio commentary on Ukraine's use of Chinese drones instead of U.S.-made drones, and the implications for U.S. technology and our relationship with China. There were some very minor wording changes that I made on-the-fly as I gave this report, related to how the piece was introduced, etc.

= = =

So this is a great example of how complicated relationships with China are and why some of the supposedly simple solutions like technology bans often aren't practical in the real world.

As we know, in Ukraine's battles against Russia's invasion, Ukraine has been using a lot of drones. And many of these are actually apparently off the shelf Chinese drones mostly from DJI. I've mentioned DJI before and they by far are the most used drones here in the U.S., for law enforcement, other public safety organizations, agriculture, utility inspections, all kinds of things including recreational flyers of course. And it's DJI drones that the U.S. government has pushed to prevent government agencies from buying, and there are other legislative attempts to ban them entirely including from recreational users.

And these bans seem to usually be predicated on claims that DJI drones are a security risk because they're from China, even though there appear to be no confirmed instances demonstrating that DJI drones are stealing data, and in fact DJI has done quite a bit of work to store data locally in the U.S. and provide ways to turn off telemetry reporting, and other quite reasonable steps.

So there are suspicions in some quarters that these bans are more about how successful DJI has been in a competitive sense with this technology and the support structure they've built for it, compared with U.S.-made drones that aren't as popular.

And this brings us back around to Ukraine. And it turns out there have been efforts to send U.S.-made drones to the front lines of Ukraine, and many have been, but they reportedly just don't perform as well compared with Chinese drones like DJI. Reportedly there are problems like being vulnerable to Russian control jamming and GPS jamming, problems with how far they could fly and what payloads they could carry, and so on. And this apparently is pretty disturbing to the Pentagon too, because they need lots of drones, and if they're going to ban the Chinese ones that work best, this puts them in a pretty untenable situation.

Obviously any military force that is going to use drones wants the best drones they can get at the best prices they can get. The Pentagon of course wants to buy American but if you can't get what you need from American manufacturers, that can present quite a dilemma.

So while we know that there's a lot of serious issues regarding China with which we need to be very concerned, the fact that in certain sectors their tech is considered to be superior doesn't seem to be their problem, it looks more like our problem in terms of how we choose to invest public and private funds into technology R&D and manufacturing.

Because if you aren't going to build the technology yourself that in this case military operations in, for example Ukraine can rely on, those countries and even our own country will have no choice but to use technology designed and manufactured elsewhere, and in some cases that's probably going to be China.

And if we don't like that situation, we need to be rethinking how we're going to help U.S. industries including high tech so that the superior products are being made right here at home. Ultimately, it's up to us!

= = =

lauren, to random

In about one hour on my usual Monday evening national network radio tech segment, I'll be discussing how Ukraine has been using off the shelf Chinese (mostly DJI) drones in their battles against Russia, because U.S. drones they have tried have reportedly been inferior on the battlefield.

lauren, to random

Musk plans to force new users to wait 3 months to post, or pay a fee to post sooner.

Give Musk your payment method? UH, NO WAY.

https://techcrunch.com/2024/04/15/elon-musk-plans-to-charge-new-x-users-to-enable-posting/

lauren,

@jonahstein There are no viable ID proving mechanisms that cannot be subverted into systems to track users across sites in enormously abusive ways, including by governments. The entire bipartisan "protect the children" legislative push is actually about enabling such tracking tied to government IDs.

lauren,

@jonahstein While you could build a system that didn't hold PII, the ulterior motive in all of these demands is to link users across the Net to their government IDs, and anyone who tried to build a system that didn't do this would find themselves the target of courts and other government entities demanding they do so, at least in secret.

lauren, to random

Sling TV has begun throwing up static ads after an interval of a program being paused. The ad page noted that it can be disabled in settings, but it's still a bad sign.

lauren, to random

I'd be less than honest if I didn't admit that I'm really looking forward to Trump's criminal trial starting in NYC tomorrow morning. I've followed a LOT of trials over the decades, and while this one won't be televised it will be covered extensively in real-time by reporters on the scene. It will, I predict, be like nothing anyone on this planet has ever experienced before, a true spectacle.

lauren,

@phaedral I didn't say anything about guilt or innocence. I said it would be a spectacle. And it will be.

lauren,

@kflanagan All that matter are independents and getting out the vote efforts. The MAGA cohorts are irrelevant in this context.

lauren,

@kflanagan No, there will be no effect on their "energy" level at all. All of this is relatively de minimis to them in their world view.

lauren,

@kflanagan Nothing will discourage it. They are irrelevant in this respect, baked-in so to speak. All efforts need to be focused beyond that cohort.

lemay, to random
@lemay@mastodon.social avatar

@cstross I dreamed last night that you and I got together to save the world by trapping an angry elder god in an old NeXT machine. You thought the NeXT machine was too expensive but I volunteered to pay for it given the whole saving the world thing.

We thought we had trapped the elder god and all was well but then it turned out said elder god freed itself by oozing out in the spaces between the strands of the ethernet cable.

You died messily as I ran away. Sorry about that.

lauren,

@lemay @cstross I saw that film on Tubi this morning.

dangillmor, (edited ) to random
@dangillmor@mastodon.social avatar

I'm wondering if there's a precedent for one country deliberately bombing another country's embassy (killing a senior government official) in a third country?

Anyone know?

lauren,

@dangillmor Sources I've seen mostly say that it wasn't actually the embassy but rather a building next to a claimed embassy that was being used for military purposes. If or how that affects the equation is beyond my expertise.

lauren,

@LALegault @dangillmor You're not supposed to use embassies or consulates for military purposes.

stux, to random
@stux@mstdn.social avatar

root@earth.universe:~# sudo world peace -F

lauren,

@stux
Command 'world' not found, but can be installed with:

sudo snap install world

lauren, to random

Personally, I'd like to teleport the entire Middle East to Pluto. But then the Plutotonians would probably retaliate.

lauren, to random

Even though the Trump NY trial won't be televised, it will be covered and reported in depth in real time by reporters attending. Anyone who didn't live through the OJ trial really has no idea what's in store for the next maybe 6 to 8 weeks.

lauren, to random

Trump Criminal Trial: 2 Days to Show Time! Visit the refreshment stand now!

lauren, to random

Why does the U.S.S. Enterprise in the first Trek film "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (1979) - ST:TMP - have silly ROUND screens on the consoles?

In a way, you can sort of blame me. Or at least, blame bad timing on my part.

When I was working on this film I saw production drawings showing the round screens, which I found ludicrous. I brought this up with the powers-that-be. I pointed out that the Enterprise displays should not emulate 1950s TV sets, and that round screens wasted display space unnecessarily. I also suggested that by the time of the film, displays would probably be holographic (the franchise eventually caught up to this idea in the more recent productions).

My criticism was taken seriously. It was agreed that the round screens would go and that rectangular screens would replace them. Mission accomplished!

Except ... a few days later, I was pulled aside and told that, unfortunately, the round screens would stay. Why? It turned out that they had already been cast in fiberglass by the Paramount set crews, and there wasn't sufficient budget to redo them. So the silly round screens are what you see in the film today.

If I had been able to move on this a bit earlier, this probably would have turned out differently. But I did try.

lauren,

@MisterMoo It was a classic "troubled production" in a variety of ways.

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