Options Techtonic with Mark Hurst: Playlist from October 15, 2018 Options

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Conversations with creators and thinkers who are charting the way forward in a tech-saturated society. Tech, community, video games, and whatever else is next.

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Options October 15, 2018: Station Manager Ken Freedman on algorithms - and a new Scam Roundup

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This week: Station Manager Ken Freedman, on algorithms - and a new Scam Roundup

Two recent examples of algorithms in the news, from Amazon:

Amazon has been promoting its own products at the bottom of competitors' listings (CNBC, Oct 2), "raising questions around how Amazon uses its marketplace sales data to potentially gain an unfair advantage over other sellers." And on secret Amazon-owned brands (BoingBoing, Oct 5): "If you seee a brand on Amazon and you've never heard of it, there's a chance that it's just Amazon. The company operates a growing number of labels with names like 'Arabella', 'Lark & Ro' amd 'NuPro' to market its own products."

This Is How Amazon Loses, by John Battelle (Oct 10): "Algorithmic merchandising leaves a bad taste in my mouth. ... I no longer trust Amazon to have my best interests at heart. I’ve lost any trust that Facebook or Twitter can deliver me a public square representative of my democracy. I’ve given up on Google delivering me search results that are truly “organic.” And YouTube? I can’t possibly trust the autoplay feature to do much more than waste my time."

Amazon built an AI tool to hire people but had to shut it down because it was discriminating against women (BusinessInsider, Oct 10): Amazon's AI-based recruiting tool "showed a bias against women... the AI was unfavorable toward female candidates because it had combed through male-dominated résumés to accrue its data." It was shut down last year.

Recent Tech News

• (following up on my Little Slice of Tech Pie segment on this morning's Wake & Bake) - New Evidence of Hacked Supermicro Hardware Found in U.S. Telecom (Bloomberg, Oct 9): A security expert "provided documents, analysis and other evidence of the discovery following the publication of an investigative report in Bloomberg Businessweek that detailed how China’s intelligence services had ordered subcontractors to plant malicious chips in Supermicro server motherboards over a two-year period ending in 2015."

Myanmar’s Military Said to Be Behind Facebook Campaign That Fueled Genocide (NYT, Oct 15): "Members of the Myanmar military were the prime operatives behind a systematic campaign on Facebook that stretched back half a decade and that targeted the country’s mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group, the people said. The military exploited Facebook’s wide reach in Myanmar, where it is so broadly used that many of the country’s 18 million internet users confuse the Silicon Valley social media platform with the internet. Human rights groups blame the anti-Rohingya propaganda for inciting murders, rapes and the largest forced human migration in recent history."

Facebook Isn’t Sorry — It Just Wants Your Data (BuzzFeed News, Oct 9): "Despite all of the bad press and fallout (which includes everything from disrupting the media business to election interference to ethnic cleansing in places like Myanmar), Facebook is vast, powerful, and profitable. You know what happened after the Cambridge Analytica scandal? After its first president, Sean Parker, expressed regret over its ruthless monetization of attention? After legislators trotted out examples of election interference in front of executives? Facebook reported earnings and monthly average users that exceeded expectations. The stock spiked. Facebook is intimidatingly large and deeply woven into our cultural fabric, largely because we have allowed it to become so, and we can’t consider a world without Facebook in it."

• Via Jason Kint (today, Oct 15): "Facebook press cycles:
- Thursday: 1 domestic fake accounts + 2 Russia scraping
- Friday: 3 "Breach" details (29mm + search & location histories)
- Today: 4 Devastating report on Myanmar...
- 5 can't be far off at this point. ICO (UK Information Commissioner's Office) report expected in next 2 weeks."

How to Delete Facebook and Instagram From Your Life Forever (NYT, Oct 10): When the Times is telling you how to delete Facebook, it's past time to get it done.

It's also time to wean yourself off of Google, Gmail, and all other Alphabet products.

Google Executive Declines To Say If China Censors Its Citizens (The Intercept, Sept 27): Ken Enright, Google's chief privacy officer, dodged questions from Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. "We are not close to launching a search product in China." Asked whether China censors its citizens, Enright responded: “As the privacy representative for Google, I am not sure I have an informed opinion on that question?”

Leaked Transcript Of Private Meeting Contradicts Google’s Official Story On China (The Intercept, Oct 9): "Google has refused to answer questions or concerns about Dragonfly. On Sept. 26, a Google executive faced public questions on the censorship plan for the first time. Keith Enright told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that there 'is a Project Dragonfly,' but said 'we are not close to launching a product in China.' When pressed to give specific details, Enright refused, saying that he was 'not clear on the contours of what is in scope or out of scope for that project.'" But actually, in remarks in an internal meeting, search engine exec Ben Gomes told his team that (as The Intercept puts it) he "hoped the censored Chinese version of the platform could be launched within six and nine months, but it could be sooner." The meeting was in July.

Tech Workers Now Want to Know: What Are We Building This For? (NYT, Oct 7): Jack Poulson, a Google research scientist, quit his job over his concerns about Google's censorship-enabled Dragonfly. Not everyone can afford to leave their job at a toxic company, but more and more people are leaving Big Tech companies for similar reasons.

- - -

PODCAST: Subscribe to the Techtonic podcast

Artist Track Album Images Approx. start time
  Station Manager Ken Freedman talks with Mark about new tech scams.
Tomaš Dvořák  Game Boy Tune   Options Machinarium Soundtrack 
  Mark's intro    
  Conversation with Station Manager Ken    
0:21:27 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Scam Roundup from Station Manager Ken    
0:23:08 (MP3 | Pop‑up)
  Your calls and comments 201-209-9368    
0:49:11 (MP3 | Pop‑up)

Listener comments!

  6:00pm average earbuds:

Avatar 6:01pm geezerette:

Star Tech!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:01pm ultradamno:

Hello Mark! Techitigants!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:01pm listener james from westwood:

Ah, the graphic designer's version of that meme.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:03pm queems:

hey mark & sm ken & all
Avatar 6:03pm TDK60:

Hi Mark, Ken.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm -Ken:

Hi all!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:04pm listener james from westwood:

Best line out of the otherwise pallid film The Freshman, uttered by Brando: "This is an ugly word, this 'scam.'"
  6:04pm Colleen:

Hello there station manager Ken..... truly miss your show!
Avatar 6:04pm Neckbard:

Has "techstatic" already been suggested?
  6:04pm takalado:

:o that machinarium song outta nowhere. loving this radio.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm queems:

so psyched about the art auction
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:05pm -Ken:

Aww thanks Colleen. I'll be back. @queems, me too!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:06pm chris:

hi, Mark and Ken and folks. Scam roundup!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:06pm Webhamster Henry:

Hi What The Techs?
Avatar 6:07pm herb.nyc:

a scam episode?! no way I'm gonna post, because some worm is gonna follow me.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:07pm Bas NL:

Hi Mark & Ken and all Techtonicals!
Avatar 6:07pm JakeGould:

I like how Google is just ditching Google+.
  6:07pm Colleen:

Hey there Queens!
  6:07pm Colleen:

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:08pm queems:

hey @colleen!
  6:08pm TheMo:

can you turn off the echo Mark? Can't understand what you're saying! :)
  6:08pm melinda:

Hi friends
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm listener james from westwood:

This chip story is so ultra screwed up. The news gets stranger every week!
  6:09pm TheMo:

hahahaha, my bad, two players open at once. We were blaming Scott W.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:09pm listener james from westwood:

FWIW I dig that you're among those who get segments on Clay's show! It's great for those folks who just don't hear these tech bits among their daily news diet.
Avatar 6:09pm geezerette:

Scamarama ! Drama !
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:10pm Ken From Hyde Park:

I was getting into scam mode over the weekend listening to some Jolly Roger recordings. They made the main stream news reports: www.today.com...
Avatar 6:11pm TDK60:

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:11pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Was there any analysis of updates to the board wiring? The chips need to get their power and signals from somewhere.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:12pm ultradamno:

You may recall Facebook being used to help a community target a trans child in OK: www.washingtonblade.com...
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:14pm chris:

plus birthdate, i believe
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:14pm queems:

i can't give up my instagram yet
  6:14pm Colleen:

This is all really heavy and scary shit
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:15pm queems:

you can pry it out of my cold, dead, virtual hands
  6:15pm Colleen:

But oh please don’t take away my Facebook
  6:15pm takalado:

b52s bout facebook
  6:15pm Colleen:

I wouldn’t know how to get off Google
  6:15pm average earbuds:

10 months Instagram free *pat on the back for me*
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:16pm chris:

Avatar 6:17pm geezerette:

"Smart" devices make stupid people.
I have no solutions.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Nice weasel words, Google.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm queems:

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:19pm ultradamno:

Avatar 6:20pm geezerette:

Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm RomanDogBird:

enough with the fucking civility, get somebody to smack this smug fucker (and all smug fucks) in the face until he gives a straight answer, jesus christ
Avatar 6:20pm Jeff Moore:

"Not close to launching" – "not clear on the contours"

That's the most weaseling I've heard in a long time.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:20pm ultradamno:

That's some high-grade gorilla dust.
  6:20pm Daybreak the Teacher:

Never thought I’d say this but at that moment good for you Ted Cruz
Avatar 6:21pm herb.nyc:

Enright shoulda done a Kavanaugh - "do YOU have a dragonfly project?"
Avatar 6:21pm northguineahills:

What Daybreak The Teacher said......... I'm scared now, someone hold me.....
  6:22pm melinda:

@herb haha
  6:23pm Daybreak the Teacher:

But how close is close?
  6:25pm Daybreak the Teacher:

Well then we are back to your original question: if we expect these workers to quit google we should expect the billions of users to quit google who would have a problem with Chinese censorship. Don’t be evil my ass!
Avatar 6:25pm TDK60:

Obviously China censors; but Repubz' concern for rights is selective. Saudi Arabia?
  6:25pm liXiviated life:

Trust no corporation
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm RomanDogBird:

this is where the FUN begins
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Webhamster Henry:

Scam or Algorithm ? I know! Scammy Algorithms!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:26pm Folsom:

One thing to ask Ken is how well does he trust radiorethink.com for the web player? You are tracked by radiorethink and another site called mixpanel.
Avatar 6:27pm geezerette:

love sinkface !
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:27pm Webhamster Henry:

"this is the Visa Mastercard Security Center with an alert" <<< I get this about 3 times a week.
Avatar 6:30pm JakeGould:

Sorry to say this, but you know, Matt Howie sounds completely like a sucker. Hang up the phone and log into your account on your own. That is the key to panic phishing scams. Just get off the phone and login to the account.
  6:30pm Daybreak the Teacher:

If you do not shred the plethora of receipts you get everywhere the last four digits of whatever card you use is right there!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:31pm Webhamster Henry:

Ask to call them back.
Avatar 6:31pm northguineahills:

I would have loved to see the scammers go through that effort and get all of my ones of dollars from my account.
Avatar 6:31pm JakeGould:

I meant, Matt Haughey.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm Ken From Hyde Park:

Folks can set up their accounts to send an email or a text message when cards are charged or accounts are credited/debited. If things are compromised, at least he'd have known right away.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:32pm queems:

@northguineahills SAME
Avatar 6:33pm dale:

i keep getting emails from someone who tells me my (old) password from my email account claiming they have video of me watching porn online and they want money to not ruin my life. I've had tape over my camera for a couple of years so i know it's a scam, but how do these folks get your passwords?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:33pm listener james from westwood:

Oh, jeez, I always wiggle the input slot of the ATM in case it's a bolt-on fugazi.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Webhamster Henry:

@dale that's a new but well known scam. They have a bunch of old passwords (usually from mYSpace 10 years ago)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm Bas NL:

He, he.. I've had my credit card blocked a couple of times on account of 'suspicious activity' settling pledges to WFMU. ;)
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:34pm chris:

some passwords are available on the dark web, for purchase, dale. to see if an account password has been leaked, check out: haveibeenpwned.com
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:35pm queems:

also wiggle it at the metrocard machines in the subway
Avatar 6:36pm JakeGould:

Robbing mail from a physical USPS box has been a problem in South Brooklyn. They have changed the openings on mailboxes now so it’s just a slot not a big opening and that makes things safer.

That said, when they “fish” for checks they are specifically looking for checks that are signed and have an amount but do not have a payee filled in. This is common in poor neighborhoods where people send checks to landlords without a payee on it; the legitimate landlord or business puts whatever name of their business they wish to deposit it into; many small businesses juggle books.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Folsom:

Microsoft Paul Allen died today.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm listener james from westwood:

Have heard it used as slang for "fake"!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm RomanDogBird:

F**ed Up, Got Ambused, Zipped In
Avatar 6:37pm northguineahills:

@dale: My wife doesn't care if I look at porn, and I'm not sure I can be embarrassed.
  6:37pm jeremyb:

fugazi. fake
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:37pm Webhamster Henry:

Or lifting the veil of your bride (because Jacob married Leah instead of Rachel)
Avatar 6:37pm TDK60:

..just looked it up: fugazi is Italian slang for 'fake'
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm ultradamno:

Fugazi = fake, knockoff
  6:38pm liXiviated life:

It’s wiseguy talk for a fake.
Didn’t you guys see Donnie Brasco?
Avatar 6:38pm JakeGould:

So the mail fishers are looking for those checks made out for rent and such and they fill out their name as the payee, go to a check cashing place and cash out.

Lots of local wholesale distributors for fruit and produce work like that.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:38pm Rich in Washington:

@Folsom: I just read that at this second too.
He's big around the PNW also for owning the Blazers but I'm fond of his big huge Sci Fi and rock history museum.
  6:39pm Last White Rhino:

Hey Matt , nice karaoke performance Saturday night at Monte Hall.
  6:39pm jeremyb:

Avatar 6:39pm herb.nyc:

I got that old password scam involving me watching porn. ironically, I had been watching porn on my cellphone (done only once). then the nytimes had a short article about it a month or 2 later.
Avatar 6:39pm TDK60:

So we're all victims of fugazi news. Sad.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:39pm queems:

if the worst thing that happens to me in 2018 is someone recording me watching porn than i've made out ok
Avatar 6:40pm Jeff Moore:

Fugazi: per an entry in the 100% reliable Urban Dictionary:

Italian wise guy slang for.... a fake, a phony
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:40pm queems:

Avatar 6:40pm JakeGould:

Hello! I am a member of a very famous international hacker group! We have all of your Don Felder LPs. PAY UP OR ELSE WE MAKE THEM INTO POTATO CHIP BOWLS!!!
Avatar 6:40pm herb.nyc:

here's my scammer hacker's email - Ahmad Hudon <wxbpngalecp@outlook.com>
Avatar 6:41pm dale:

i only went to porn for the blind - what's so wrong with that?
  6:41pm liXiviated life:

Unfortunately the only Vice I have is WFMU.
Avatar 6:42pm TDK60:

queems: thanks for not using 'than' like that!
Avatar 6:42pm herb.nyc:

Ahmad writes this (oh, Ahmad and me are great buddies now!). - At this point you may be thinking, “I'm going to report to the cops”. Without a doubt, I've covered my steps to ensure this email cannot be tracked returning to me plus it will not prevent the evidence from destroying your health. I am not planning to break your bank. I am just looking to get paid for the time I placed into investigating you. Let's assume you have chosen to produce all of this go away and pay me the confidentiality fee. You'll make the payment via Bitcoin (if you do not know how, search "how to buy bitcoins" on search engine)

Transfer Amount: $1900
Send To This Bitcoin Address:
Avatar 6:42pm Jeff Moore:

Never ever ever use the same password for more than one site.

Use passwords which look like modem line noise!
  6:43pm JDM:

probably the best thing on any station right now

change your passwords, Im getting mails from hackers that have my 15 year old password, probably hacked form some old Isp or comapny that's changed hands. If i didnt change passwords since then, I'd be thinking they got me.
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm queems:

@tdk60 you're welcome, i would never let that typo stand
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm queems:

is hello123456 not a good password someone please advise
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:43pm Bas NL:

I once was confronted with people receiving spoof emails with my work email address as sender. Traced it to a DTP shop in Thailand as the source. Contacted them and they found one of their systems that was hacked & pulled the plug on it..
  6:43pm Dean:

I received my first ever sextortion email today. It was so obviously a scam for so many reasons, not least of which was the absurd characterization of my web browsing habits, which a Puritan would deem prudish.

Wore the moon-freaker t-shirt all weekend.
Avatar 6:45pm northguineahills:

I change my passwords on all of my accounts every 3 months (sans wfmu) going through algorithmic iterations. It takes about an decade to complete the cycle.
Avatar 6:46pm JakeGould:

Come up with a password recipe that mixes words, numbers and symbols and change it at least twice a year… And send me all your emails or else!!!!
Avatar 6:47pm herb.nyc:

I told my niece's husband of a Rent-a-rock-band-tee idea, and he told me of Rent the Runway. but come on, let's do a geographically local tee-borrowing . we can wear each other's WFMU tees, for inst, via physical meetups.
Avatar 6:47pm northguineahills:

Rescue is near Carmichael, CA (Sacramento area)
Avatar 6:47pm Jeff Moore:

@queems: It's fine! What hacker would think of the word hello for a password *and* count all the way to six?
  6:50pm Robert Tables:

I like to use diceware
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:50pm queems:

@jeff GREAT thanks for your professional insight
Avatar 6:50pm JakeGould:

“PaSsw0rd!69” is a sexy password… Until you actually have sex and then it’s silly.
  6:51pm liXiviated life:

Did you get your ice cream yet?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:51pm Folsom:

I got scammed on Kickstarter once, now only get stuff once have some history on them.
  6:52pm jeremyb:

zungle sunglasses... terrible kickstarter I funded
  6:52pm Daybreak the Teacher:

I swag for life and sang at the Karaoke, questionable performances of Blister in the Sun and Under Pressure.

I’ve also had my full Identity stolen: name, address, social security number. I followed it up to the point where I realized the person was caught on camera, but was told if less than $15,000 was stolen, there is so much crime, the police DO NOT investigate.
  6:53pm Dean:

I believe the California story involved a Little Johnny who was an actual person, alive and kicking, and that's how the scam was discovered. Stupid con artists!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:53pm listener james from westwood:

Someone should set up a crowdfunding page in some random actual Springfield for a monorail.
Avatar 6:54pm dale:

that actually sounds like a people problem. not a platform problem.
Avatar 6:54pm northguineahills:

haha, james!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:54pm Ken From Hyde Park:

There appear to be scammers at the top level of the US government these days. The whole family. Imagine that!
Avatar 6:54pm geezerette:

It's just all so sad. :c[
Avatar 6:54pm JakeGould:

Avatar 6:54pm JakeGould:

Ken saw “Donnie Brasco?”
Avatar 6:56pm JakeGould:

What’s everyone’s GoFundMe scam? Cancer baby? Sick dog?
Avatar Swag For Life Member 6:57pm Ken From Hyde Park:

How about wfnu.org?
Avatar 6:58pm northguineahills:

Thanks KenMark!
  6:58pm JeremyB:

sorry... I took Wfmu for the name of my warcraft character
  6:59pm P-90:

Thanks, Mark and Ken
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Bas NL:

Thanks Mark & Ken!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm listener james from westwood:

Thanks, Ken and Mark!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm queems:

thanks guys!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm Webhamster Henry:

A nice lively show this week! Lots of talk!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:00pm melinda:

Thanks, I look forward to the convo about not being able to get off google and fbook.
Avatar 7:00pm geezerette:

Thanks,Mark & Ken!
Avatar Swag For Life Member 7:02pm Mark Hurst:

Thanks, everyone! Appreciate all your comments (and Zachary's call). If you haven't pledged yet, click the Pledge link & go get those t-shirts! Have a great week.
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