TEH 047: This Cloud Thing — We Should Do Something With That

In This Episode: IBM: trying to stay relevant? New copyright rules means you can fix your own phone, and…! The Hubble Space Telescope. No CAPTCHA in ReCAPTCHA? Bitcoin’s electricity draw, and Facebook is spying on us? Say it ain’t so!

This Week’s Hosts

  • Randy Cassingham, founder of This is True.
  • Leo Notenboom, “Chief Question Answerer” at tech education site Ask Leo!
  • Gary Rosenzweig host and producer of MacMost, and mobile game developer at Clever Media.
  • Kevin Savetz, web site publisher and Computer Historian at Atari Podcast.
  • Longer Bios on the Hosts page.

Show Notes

  • In the warmup, Randy says his own podcast, relaunched last month, is doing well, and mentioned his discussion of this viral story as a good example. Kevin attended the 20th anniversary party for textfiles.com, a site that serves up old “text files” from BBSes; it’s now 20 years old. The most popular document there is “Koalas are little bitches”, but Kevin read “How to have phun at your parents’ dinner party.” Leo is working on “Ask Leo! Shorts”, and Gary the same-ol’ same-ol’.
  • Kevin talks about the Copyright Office’s new right-to-repair rules, as reported by iFixit and Vice, which has far-ranging consumer rights implications. Leo mentioned that, perhaps related, Tesla released its parts catalog for the first time (Electrek). This topic devolved into a discussion of the new right to fix your John Deere tractor, and maybe even hack it. Is tractor malware next?
  • Randy reported that the Hubble Space Telescope went into “safe mode” earlier this month when its last gyroscope, which is needed for pointing, failed. But NASA got it back by “turning it off and back on” (as ati put it), but, Randy says, it was more complicated than that: more like pounding the top of your TV and adjusting its rabbit ears….
  • Leo notes that: IBM is buying open source specialist Red Hat for $34 BILLION (Wired). The question is, is this the last gasp of a company trying to remain relevant in the cloud computing era, or is this something that they’ll actually be able to leverage? Randy likened it to Microsoft buying Github (as discussed in TEH 47), but at $34B, that’s the company’s 12x annual gross, so what do they have in mind to make it worth the premium?
  • Kevin and Leo are super excited to hear that the new version of Google’s ReCAPTCHA will automatically decide if you’re human without making you click on street signs (ZDnet). This went on tangents, including a discussion of Distributed Proofreaders, where you can volunteer to proofread OCR’d text, turning public domain books into digital text versions.
  • Gary pointed to an article at CNET that theorizes that Bitcoin electric use could really add to climate change. Leo noted that he wrote a primer on how Bitcoin mining works.
  • Randy says Gizmodo says that Facebook “admits” it will use the Facebook Portal (which we talked about in TEH 45) to spy on you: it has a camera and a microphone under Facebook’s control. We again agree we don’t want them in our homes, and Randy said it all reminded him of an article from Vice last June that reports Vice writer (not a security researcher as Randy remembered) experimented with talking about things with his phone “listening” and then watched Facebook …and found they showed him ads relating to things he talked about.

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