A tiny revelation from James Bamford's compelling new profile of Edward Snowden in Wired: One day an intelligence officer told him that TAO—a division of NSA hackers—had attempted in 2012 to remotely install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Internet service provider in Syria, which was in the midst of a prolonged civil war. This would have given the NSA access to email and other Internet traffic from much of the country. But something went wrong, and the router was bricked instead—rendered totally inoperable. The failure of this router caused Syria to suddenly lose all connection to the Internet—although the public didn't know [...]
When I think of a future filled with little robot hummingbirds flying around videotaping everything for the Defense Department, it makes me want to build myself a life-size robot ostrich mecha suit programmed to bury its head in the sand.
Philip Markoff, the Craigslist killer, definitely one of our least favorite killers of all, gets the Maureen Orth treatment in the October Vanity Fair. What's creepy is how it points out the sheer amount of tracking in our lives. For instance, they know you're reading this website right now, at least if you're at work, you future killer! This, you know, is a great thing when you're trying to find a dude who kills people.
The bear cams are back: Feeds from Katmai National Park in Alaska are going live this week. Some are powered up already and in testing; others are still coming online. The bear cams have become an odd yearly ritual for the nature-obsessed and vocationally computer-bound alike, developing an avid fan base that tracks the comings and goings of dozens upon dozens of feeding bears. Each year the cameras get better, their hours longer, and their stories richer.
So what will happen in 2014? What are we in for? I called Roy Wood, Chief of Interpretation for Katmai National Park, who helps run the cams. He told me a [...]
First in a series of two essays today on freedom and the Internet. Next: Google, Sci-Fi And The MTA.
Late last Friday, news broke that the Whole Earth 'Lectronic Link, an online discussion board and community commonly referred to as the WELL, was on the verge of being shut down. Founded in 1985 as a dial-up BBS, the WELL is an enormously important part of internet history, both as a place where things happened and as a model for how discussion and community should work on the web; the comments system below this post owes its existence, in many ways, to the WELL. The site's ethos [...]
Today, a week after an major attempted terrorist bombing, Times Square was evacuated due to a "suspicious package"-a "white cooler" found at 46th and Broadway. About 1:50 p.m., the bomb squad arrived. In the end, it turned out to be a false alarm-the seventh since Saturday. And as for the previous real attempts-well, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Faisal Shahzad were both, thankfully, woefully incompetent at actual terror. But they did prove effective at spurring furious debates over national security, civil liberties, and citizenship that make Glenn Beck appear sane. (Although, I'm pretty sure that was not their intent.) Now Shahzad–perhaps to confirm his resume's boast of being "result-oriented"–may help [...]