Semi-Random Musings

The whole blogging thing doesn’t really work for me; the majority of the time, anything I want to write about is either not substantial enough or—much more likely!—not thought-through enough to make the effort worthwhile. So I’m going to give this a try: posting stuff that’s (possibly) longer than a tweet but (probably) shorter than an essay.




Are You Really Muted?: A Privacy Analysis of Mute Buttons in Video Conferencing Apps:

In the post-pandemic era, video conferencing apps (VCAs) have converted previously private spaces — bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens — into semi-public extensions of the office. And for the most part, users have accepted these apps in their personal space, without much thought about the permission models that govern the use of their personal data during meetings. While access to a device’s video camera is carefully controlled, little has been done to ensure the same level of privacy for accessing the microphone. In this work, we ask the question: what happens to the microphone data when a user clicks the mute button in a VCA?

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Currently waiting for a flight at LaGuardia, and it’s kind of weird to see so many people without masks. I’d say it’s about 50/50 for the passengers. None of the aircrew I’ve seen are wearing them, but all of the ground crew are.

(For the record, I am wearing one and will on the plane; I don’t think I’m quite ready to be unmasked in close proximity to other people for extended periods just yet.)


Keeping this post handy for the times I need to explain RSS to people (which admittedly isn’t all that often, but probably more frequently than you’d expect).



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Even outside of the context of the article it is taken from, this opening paragraph by Ruben Schade is right on the money (emphasis mine):

You know the online refrain facts over feelings? Aside from unintentionally belying a lack of emotional intelligence, it posits that a perfectly logical world without human affordances is possible, expected, or desirable. The first two are false; we’re not robots. The latter belongs in the purview of psychopaths and handsome fictional detectives.

Trying to debate anything with anyone online is a pretty pointless exercise, but I do hope there’s a special place in hell for all of the pretend hyper-rationalists that use this kind of argument.



Today is the last day I can say that I’m in my early 40’s and for that statement to be, you know… true.



I finally got around to enabling Universal Control between my Mac and iPad this morning and it’s one of the most magical computer experiences I’ve encountered in recent memory. The keyboard and the mouse and even the clipboard is shared seamlessly between the devices. Amazing. 🤯


Things have been… unsettled… recently, so updates have been pretty few and far between. I’m hoping to get back into to a more regular routine soon and get back to a more frequent posting cadence.


Shanti Escalante-De Mattei, writing for WIRED:

If a user has to pay to be part of web3, and if web3 is the future of the internet, it’s easy to see a future where the average consumer is completely blocked from participating. It seems like we’re in line to experience an internet where having more money very directly translates to having the power in one’s online community. An explicitly classed internet. Kind of sounds like hell.

Yep.



Gotta say that I really enjoyed The Book of Boba Fett (even if a couple of episodes were more a continuation of The Mandalorian than Fett’s story). But Mayor Mok Shaiz has been bothering me more and more over the week or so since I watched the finale. Not because of anything the character said or did, but more because it just sounds far too close to “Mayor McCheese”.




For no good reason, I’ve had this quote on my mind recently:

I distinguish four types [of officers]. There are clever, hardworking, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and hardworking; their place is the General Staff. The next ones are stupid and lazy; they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the mental clarity and strength of nerve necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is both stupid and hardworking; he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always only cause damage.” General Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord