Life can be much broader than you think

“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. And the minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”

Steve Jobs

Building a Real-Time Object Recognition App

If you are interested in testing and trying object recognition with TensorFlow, I recommend this Medium post:

Building a Real-Time Object Recognition App with Tensorflow and OpenCV.

I tried it and it works quite well and the available source code allows you to learn how this all works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You should also read Dat Tran follow up post, that shows how to train the NN with your own images, to identify new objects.

How to train your own Object Detector with TensorFlow’s Object Detector API

 

 

The Art of Invisibility – How To Protect Your Privacy

A new book by Kevin Mitnick is out, The Art of Invisibility. A good read on how to protect our information and privacy online.

I am going to list the tools and software mentioned on that the book:

ABOUT PASSWORDS

Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker: is intended to enable law enforcement and government agencies to access iCloud accounts.

iBrute: a password-hacking mechanism specifically designed for acquiring iCloud credentials from just about anyone.

oclHashcat: a password cracking tool that leverages GPU for high speed cracking

John the Ripper: password cracker

www.haveibeenpwned.com: to see if your account has been compromised in the past

Password Safe: passwords manager

KeepPass: passwords manager

EMAILS/ BROWSING

OpenPGP

GPG

Tor torproject.org

Orbot free Tor app from Google Play, iOS install the Onion browser

EFF HTTPS Everywhere

DuckDuckGo private search engine

startpage.com private search engine

Geo Location check: http://benwerd.com/lab/geo.php

Ghostery

Adblock Plus

https://panopticl check your browser signature

NoScript Firefox defense against third party tracking

ScriptBlock for Chrome

CanvasBlocker for Firefox

CanvasFingerPrintBlock for Chrome

Facebook Disconnect for Chrome

Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus for Firefox and Chrome

http://www.piriform.com CCleaner android/iOs/PC/Mac

Experian and Axiom: companies gathering info about us

CALLS/CHATS

Signal

ChatSecure

Cryptocat

Tor Messenger

Silent Phone

 

Ransomware/WiFi

aircrack-ng: can reveal the authorized MAC address of currently connected users to a WiFi router.

Reaver: can crack a WPS-enabled router within several hours

Cryptowall: it encrypts your entire hard drive, locking you out of every file until you pay the attacker

Wireshark

Transmit app on Mac or Tunnelier on Windows

VPN

TorGuard

ExpressVPN

make sure the service includes PFS (perfect forward secrecy), that does not block Tor and does not log the connections

Proxy

ProxyGambit

OS/Disk/Networks

Tails and Tor

BitLocker Disk encryption in Windows

PGP Whole Disk Encryption Disk encryption

WinMagic disk encryption for Windows

FileVault 2 Apple disk encryption

VeryCrypt Disk encryption

SpiderOak encrypted cloud storage

Network monitoring: Pwn Pulse identifies femtocells and even IMSI catchers such as StingRay (TriggerFish, Wolfpack, Gossamer)

Various

Keyboard Privacy Chrome browser plugin

KeySweeper Keylogger

Shodan IoT devices

syncstop.com a USB condom which allows you to safely plug into any USB charger or computer

Tumblers services that take Bitcoin from a variety of sources and mix or tumble them together so that the resulting Bitcoin retains its value but carries traces of many owners.

MagSpoof

Vanilla Visa and Vanilla MasterCard gift cards, viabuy.com in Europe

Paxful.com bitcoin wallet site. Using Tor, you can setup an initial Bitcoin wallet.

protonmail.com tutanota.com to create an email accout without any request to my verify the identity,  using Tor

Other links/apps not on the book but important to know

https://hackapp.com/

In Android I would recommend: Keeppass2Android (password manager), OpenKeyChain: Easy PGP (manage PGP keys), K-9 email (PGP encryption through OpenKeyChain), Orbot and Orfox (Tor tools).

VPN: Freedome by F-secure

Chrome Plugins: CryptUp (encrypt Gmail with PGP), Privacy Badger (to avoid tracking cookies)

 

 

You have been watched

Processing power has increased, data storage is increasingly cheap and algorithms to analyze that makes sense of all the data exist and are continuously refined.

Smartphones, camera and other devices are connected to the Internet (defined ioT Internet of Things) and continuously capture data. Websites track our interactions and preferences, what we like and do not like; who we interact with and who are our friends. Google, Facebook and other services know where we live, where we work, the road we take and many other things.

In most cases, aware or not, we give this information for free in return for the services. These service monetizes our personal information by showing us ads or selling our info to other third party that will aggregate it and make sure they can make money out of it.

Our info is analyzed not only for commercial reasons, but also by governments that intercept and analyze Internet traffic and more.

A couple of examples:

Get your loved ones off Facebook.

Facebook image recognition

Are you heading toward a big brother scenario? Is there a way to defend ourselves?

Some tools:

Privacy Badger

F-Secure Freedome

Tor Browser

Book: Weapon of Math Destruction

Do it yourself online safety

Machine learning as a service

Machine learning is the ability to learn and make predictions using data. Data are the input and the output. A diverse set of skills set are required for manipulating large amount of data, defining the problem and the outcome, an understanding of the algorithms and an understanding of a lot of maths and statistics. Overall, machine learning is a complex task that requires advanced knowledge of different and complex subjects.

Fortunately a set of services are available that abstract the level of competencies required and they support data scientists and analysts in their tasks. At the end, what we really want is to make sense of our data and be able to make predictions about them.

The level of abstraction is important and allows the creation of more advanced services on top of machine learning cloud platforms.

Below a list of some of the most well known services in this space:

Amazon: Amazon Machine Learning – Predictive Analytics with AWS

Google Cloud Machine Learning

Microsoft: Azure Machine Learning

Watson Analytics: Guided and automated analytics from the cloud.

BigML: BigML: Machine Learning made easy

Ersatz: Hosted deep learning with GPUs

ForecastThis: automated predictive modeling solution

 

Weapons of Math Destruction

Big data and predictive models are currently used and are going to be pervasive affecting our lives. There are many positive news coming from these new algorithms and techniques. At the same time, it is important to be aware of their impact, biases and how to deal with the imperfections and abuses that inevitable will come with them.

Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neil is an extremely good and important book on this subject and I highly recommend it to all the people that want to understand how society is and will be affected by all these new algorithms and predictive models.

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The Dentist Office Software Story

The Dentist Office Software Story is an excellent blog post by Fred Wilson at avc.com.

There were a couple of sentences what caught my attention and I want to emphasize here. Below the excerpt where I have highlighted the sentences in bold.

This story is designed to illustrate the fact that software alone is a commodity. There is nothing stopping anyone from copying the feature set, making it better, cheaper, and faster. And they will do that. This is the reality that Brad and I stared at in 2003 as we were developing our initial investment thesis for USV. We saw the cloud coming but did not want to invest in commodity software delivered in the cloud. So we asked ourselves, “what will provide defensibility” and the answer we came to was networks of users, transactions, or data inside the software. We felt that if an entrepreneur could include something other than features and functions in their software, something that was not a commodity, then their software would be more defensible. That led us to social media, to Delicious, Tumblr, and Twitter. And marketplaces like Etsy, Lending Club, and Kickstarter. And enterprise oriented networks like Workmarket, C2FO, and SiftScience. We have not perfectly executed our investment strategy by any means. We’ve missed a lot of amazing networks. And we’ve invested in things that weren’t even close to networks. But all of that said, our thesis has delivered for us and we stick to it as much as we can.

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari is out. A must read book. His previous book is awesome Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

In the concluding chapter he writes:

Yet if we take the really grand view of life, all other problems and developments are overshadowed by three interlinked processes:

1.  Science is converging on an all-encompassing dogma, which says that organisms are algorithms, and life is data processing.
2.  Intelligence is decoupling from consciousness.
3.  Non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms may soon know us better than we know ourselves.
These three processes raise three key questions, which I hope will stick in your mind long after you have finished this book:

1.  Are organisms really just algorithms, and is life really just data processing?
2.  What’s more valuable – intelligence or consciousness?
3.  What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?