Nobody Cares: Technology-only Edition

Free

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This is sad.

[O]ver the past year or so, some 27 human genes have been renamed, all because Microsoft Excel kept misreading their symbols as dates.

The problem isn’t as unexpected as it first sounds. Excel is a behemoth in the spreadsheet world and is regularly used by scientists to track their work and even conduct clinical trials. But its default settings were designed with more mundane applications in mind, so when a user inputs a gene’s alphanumeric symbol into a spreadsheet, like MARCH1 — short for “Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1” — Excel converts that into a date: 1-Mar.

This is extremely frustrating, even dangerous, corrupting data that scientists have to sort through by hand to restore. It’s also surprisingly widespread and affects even peer-reviewed scientific work. One study from 2016 examined genetic data shared alongside 3,597 published papers and found that roughly one-fifth had been affected by Excel errors.
The solution would be for Microsoft to come out with a geneticist-friendly mod to Excel. Which is just a version that turns off all the fucking auto-conversion bullshit.
 
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Tasker is an android app where one can say when some event happens do this. I've lately been plagued by spam text messages, "I missed you last night" and that sort of crap. I had my phone set to bong me when I get a new text. That was driving me crazy. So time to learn how to use tasker. It can take regular expressions. So, if I have an incoming text with a from name that has 4 or more digits in it, don't bong the phone, otherwise do. That translates to, if the name is in my contacts bong, otherwise, it's a phone number and don't. Yay! The end of a headache.
 

Free

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A billion or more Android devices are vulnerable to hacks that can turn them into spying tools by exploiting more than 400 vulnerabilities in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, researchers reported this week.

The vulnerabilities can be exploited when a target downloads a video or other content that’s rendered by the chip. Targets can also be attacked by installing malicious apps that require no permissions at all.

From there, attackers can monitor locations and listen to nearby audio in real time and exfiltrate photos and videos. Exploits also make it possible to render the phone completely unresponsive. Infections can be hidden from the operating system in a way that makes disinfecting difficult.
 

Free

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Ugh.

Boeing’s 747-400 aircraft, first introduced in 1988, is still receiving critical software updates through 3.5-inch floppy disks. The Register reports that security researchers at Pen Test Partners recently got access to a British Airways 747, after the airline decided to retire its fleet following a plummet in travel during the coronavirus pandemic. The team was able to inspect the full avionics bay beneath the passenger deck, with its data center-like racks of modular black boxes that perform different functions for the plane.

Pen Test Partners discovered a 3.5-inch floppy disk drive in the cockpit, which is used to load important navigation databases. It’s a database that has to be updated every 28 days, and an engineer visits each month with the latest updates.
 
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Brought back happy memories fishing out floppy drive shields that had become jammed in the drives. :oops:
 

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The emergence of mobile voice calls over the standard known as Long Term Evolution has been a boon for millions of cell phone users around the world. VoLTE, short for Voice over LTE, provides up to three times the capacity of the earlier 3G standard, resulting in high-definition sound quality that’s a huge improvement over earlier generations. VoLTE also uses the same IP standard used to send data over the Internet, so it has the ability to work with a wider range of devices. VoLTE does all of this while also providing a layer of security not available in predecessor cellular technologies.

Now, researchers have demonstrated a weakness that allows attackers with modest resources to eavesdrop on calls. Their technique, dubbed ReVoLTE, uses a software-defined radio to pull the signal a carrier’s base station transmits to a phone of an attacker’s choosing, as long as the attacker is connected to the same cell tower (typically, within a few hundred meters to few kilometers) and knows the phone number. Because of an error in the way many carriers implement VoLTE, the attack converts cryptographically scrambled data into unencrypted sound. The result is a threat to the privacy of a growing segment of cell phone users. The cost: about $7,000.
 

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There's a bunch of programming languages that support emoji variable names. Character graphic cartouches in comments are pretty common.
 

Free

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This is just...dumb.

Here’s the thing: the WordPress app on iOS doesn’t sell anything. I just checked, and so did Stratechery’s Ben Thompson. The app simply lets you make a website for free. There isn’t even an option to buy a unique dot-com or even dot-blog domain name from the iPhone and iPad app — it simply assigns you a free WordPress domain name and 3GB of space.
 

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Just saw the repost reference in the Tech Support thread. Sorry Free. Should've known you'd already have put it out there.
 
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Free

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It looks like Trump will have a lot less bird deaths to mourn.

Something as simple as black paint could be the key to reducing the number of birds that are killed each year by wind turbines. According to a study conducted at a wind farm on the Norwegian archipelago of Smøla, changing the color of a single blade on a turbine from white to black resulted in a 70-percent drop in the number of bird deaths.
 

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Just saw the repost reference in the Tech Support thread. Sorry Free. Should've known you'd already have put it out there.
Either way, I wants my damn grape 🍇 soda! 🥤