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Researchers Found They Could Hack Entire Wind Farms

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On a sunny day last summer, in the middle of a vast cornfield somewhere in
the large, windy middle of America, two researchers from the University of
Tulsa stepped into an oven-hot, elevator-sized chamber within the base of a
300-foot-tall wind turbine. They'd picked the simple pin-and-tumbler lock on
the turbine's metal door in less than a minute and opened the unsecured
server closet inside.

Jason Staggs, a tall 28-year-old Oklahoman, quickly unplugged a network
cable and inserted it into a Raspberry Pi minicomputer, the size of a deck
of cards, that had been fitted with a Wi-Fi antenna. He switched on the Pi
and attached another Ethernet cable from the minicomputer into an open port
on a programmable automation controller, a microwave-sized computer that
controlled the turbine. The two men then closed the door behind them and
walked back to the white van they'd driven down a gravel path that ran
through the field.

Staggs sat in the front seat and opened a MacBook Pro while the researchers
looked up at the towering machine. Like the dozens of other turbines in the
field, its white blades—each longer than a wing of a Boeing 747—turned
hypnotically. Staggs typed into his laptop's command line and soon saw a
list of IP addresses representing every networked turbine in the field. A
few minutes later he typed another command, and the hackers watched as the
single turbine above them emitted a muted screech like the brakes of an
aging 18-wheel truck, slowed, and came to a stop.
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Review: "Twitter and Tear Gas," by Zeynep Tufekci

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Bruce Schneier, CTO, IBM Resilient>.

      Book Review: "Twitter and Tear Gas," by Zeynep Tufekci

There are two opposing models of how the Internet has changed protest
movements. The first is that the Internet has made protesters mightier than
ever. This comes from the successful revolutions in Tunisia (2010-11), Egypt
(2011), and Ukraine (2013). The second is that it has made them more
ineffectual. Derided as "slacktivism" or "clicktivism," the ease of action
without commitment can result in movements like Occupy petering out in the
US without any obvious effects. Of course, the reality is more nuanced, and
Zeynep Tufekci teases that out in her new book "Twitter and Tear Gas."

Tufekci is a rare interdisciplinary figure. As a sociologist, programmer,
and ethnographer, she studies how technology shapes society and drives
social change. She has a dual appointment in both the School of Information
Science and the Department of Sociology at University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, and is a Faculty Associate at the Berkman Klein Center for
Internet and Society at Harvard University. Her regular "New York Times"
column on the social impacts of technology is a must-read.

Modern Internet-fueled protest movements are the subjects of "Twitter and
Tear Gas." As an observer, writer, and participant, Tufekci examines how
modern protest movements have been changed by the Internet—and what that
means for protests going forward. Her book combines her own ethnographic
research and her usual deft analysis, with the research of others and some
big data analysis from social media outlets. The result is a book that is
both insightful and entertaining, and whose lessons are much broader than
the book's central topic.

"The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest" is the book's subtitle.  The
power of the Internet as a tool for protest is obvious: it gives people
newfound abilities to quickly organize and scale. But, according to Tufekci,
it's a mistake to judge modern protests using the same criteria we used to
judge pre-Internet protests. The 1963 March on Washington might have
culminated in hundreds of thousands of people listening to Martin Luther
King Jr. deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech, but it was the culmination of
a multi-year protest effort and the result of six months of careful planning
made possible by that sustained effort. The 2011 protests in Cairo came
together in mere days because they could be loosely coordinated on Facebook
and Twitter.

That's the power. Tufekci describes the fragility by analogy. Nepalese
Sherpas assist Mt. Everest climbers by carrying supplies, laying out ropes
and ladders, and so on. This means that people with limited training and
experience can make the ascent, which is no less dangerous—to sometimes
disastrous results. Says Tufekci: "The Internet similarly allows networked
movements to grow dramatically and rapidly, but without prior building of
formal or informal organizational and other collective capacities that could
prepare them for the inevitable challenges they will face and give them the
ability to respond to what comes next." That makes them less able to respond
to government counters, change their tactics—a phenomenon Tufekci calls
"tactical freeze"—make movement-wide decisions, and survive over the long

Tufekci isn't arguing that modern protests are necessarily less effective,
but that they're different. Effective movements need to understand these
differences, and leverage these new advantages while minimizing the

To that end, she develops a taxonomy for talking about social movements.
Protests are an example of a "signal" that corresponds to one of several
underlying "capacities." There's narrative capacity: The ability to change
the conversation, as Black Lives Matter did with police violence and Occupy
did with wealth inequality. There's disruptive capacity: The ability to stop
business as usual. An early Internet example is the 1999 WTO protests in
Seattle. And finally, there's electoral or institutional capacity: The
ability to vote, lobby, fund raise, and so on. Because of various
"affordances" of modern Internet technologies, particularly social media,
the same signal—a protest of a given size—reflects different
underlying capacities.

This taxonomy also informs government reactions to protest movements.  Smart
responses target attention as a resource. The Chinese government responded
to 2015 protesters in Hong Kong by not engaging with them at all, denying
them camera-phone videos that would go viral and attract the world's
attention. Instead, they pulled their police back and waited for the
movement to die from lack of attention.

If this all sounds dry and academic, it's not. "Twitter and Tear Gas" is
infused with a richness of detail stemming from her personal participation
in the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Turkey, as well as personal on-the-ground
interviews with protesters throughout the Middle East—particularly Egypt
and her native Turkey—Zapatistas in Mexico, WTO protesters in Seattle,
Occupy participants worldwide, and others. Tufekci writes with a warmth and
respect for the humans that are part of these powerful social movements,
gently intertwining her own story with the stories of others, big data, and
theory. She is adept at writing for a general audience, and—despite being
published by the intimidating Yale University Press—her book is more
mass-market than academic. What rigor is there is presented in a way that
carries readers along rather than distracting.

The synthesist in me wishes Tufekci would take some additional steps, taking
the trends she describes outside of the narrow world of political protest
and applying them more broadly to social change. Her taxonomy is an
important contribution to the more-general discussion of how the Internet
affects society. Furthermore, her insights on the networked public sphere
has applications for understanding technology-driven social change in
general. These are hard conversations for society to have. We largely prefer
to allow technology to blindly steer society or—in some ways worse --
leave it to unfettered for-profit corporations.  When you're reading
"Twitter and Tear Gas," keep current and near-term future technological
issues such as ubiquitous surveillance, algorithmic discrimination, and
automation and employment in mind. You'll come away with new insights.

Tufekci twice quotes historian Melvin Kranzberg from 1985: "Technology is
neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral." This foreshadows her central
message. For better or worse, the technologies that power the networked
public sphere have changed the nature of political protest as well as
government reactions to and suppressions of such protest.

I have long characterized our technological future as a battle between the
quick and the strong. The quick—dissidents, hackers, criminals,
marginalized groups—are the first to make use of a new technology to
magnify their power. The strong are slower, but have more raw power to
magnify. So while protesters are the first to use Facebook to organize, the
governments eventually figure out how to use Facebook to track
protesters. It's still an open question who will gain the upper hand in the
long term, but Tufekci's book helps us understand the dynamics at work.

This essay originally appeared on Vice Motherboard.

The book:

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"It's not just about wheelchair access"

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I think that in disability discourse, wheelchair users face some fairly unique pressure to pretend not to be disabled. At the same time, wheelchair users are treated as the ultimate symbol of disability. In combination, I think there is very little space in which wheelchair users are allowed to talk about their actual experiences and needs. (Even in disability rights space.)

To some extent, all disabled people face some version of this. The thing I think is somewhat unique to wheelchair users is pressure to be the model of successful accessibility. There’s a misconception that accessibility is basically a solved problem for wheelchair users, and that we need to expand that model to all disabled people. This goes alongside a related misconception that the purpose of accessibility is to make disability irrelevant.

Wheelchair users face intense pressure to enthusiastically pretend that wheelchairs and ramps erase disability. This goes alongside pressure to have exactly the kind of disability that fits the story that others want to tell. The story goes: “Wheelchair users can’t walk. Wheelchairs and lifts and ramps solve that problem. If we had ramps everywhere, wheelchair users wouldn’t be disabled anymore.” The reality is much more complicated.

People get very angry when wheelchair users contradict this story. Wheelchair users are often not allowed to have access needs that don’t fit the story — and they’re also not allowed to have *abilities* that don’t fit the story. This anger is so intense that it’s dangerous for wheelchair users to stand and walk in public places. People also get angry at wheelchair users when a ramp is too steep, when it’s blocked, or when they insist that the existence of a lift isn’t good enough, they need to have the key so that they can actually *use* it. There’s not much room in the wheelchair access success story for talking about these realities.

There’s also not very much room in this success story for talking about the realities of growing up with a mobility disability. Children still grow up manhandled by therapists and pressured to learn to walk at all costs. Children still go through repeated surgeries aimed at fixing them. Children still get taught to allow adults to hurt them and touch them in ways that would be regarded as abuse if they were typically developing. Children are still pervasively excluded from educational and recreation activities and expected to bear it with a smile. Ramps and wheelchairs didn’t fix that, and accessibility advocacy should not make those things unspeakable.

The success story has even less room for talking about pleasure. Harriet McBryde Johnson said it better than I could, so I’m going to quote her:

“We need to confront the life-killing stereotype that says we’re all about suffering. We need to bear witness to our pleasures. …

Throughout my life, the nondisabled world has told me my pleasures must be only mental, never physical. Thinking to help me, it has said my body is unimportant. I respectfully disagree. For me, the body—imperfect, impermanent, falling apart—is all there is. Through this body that needs the help of hands and machines to move, that is wired to sense and perceive, comes all pleasure, all life. My brain is only one among many body parts, all of which work through one another and cooperate as best they can.”

McBryde Johnson, Harriet. Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life (p. 255). Henry Holt and Co.. Kindle Edition.

Treating wheelchair users as a symbol of disability successfully erased has the effect of silencing wheelchair users. I think that a lot of us have been complicit in this silencing, and that we need to address this in disability culture. Partly for the sake of better solidarity with wheelchair users; partly because the silencing is hurting all of us.

I think that all disabled people face pressure to see ourselves as characters in a story about accessibility. Sometimes we’re expected to write the story. Sometimes we’re seen as characters in a story someone else is writing. Sometimes we’re supposed to believe that the story has already been written, and that all we have to do is get people to read the book.

I think that wheelchair users face particularly intense pressure to pretend that the story has already been written and has a satisfying ending. That’s not something any of us should envy. It’s not privilege. It’s silencing. And I think we need a lot less silence and a lot more solidarity. It doesn’t have to be this way, and it isn’t always this way. When we have space for honesty about the realities of disability, our communities are a lot stronger.

Wheelchair users are not a collective accessibility success story. Wheelchair users are people. None of us are stories. We’re all people. No amount of accessibility is going to make our bodies and brains irrelevant. Disability rights advocacy shouldn’t be about erasing difference. The point is not sameness; it’s equality. Accessibility is about building a world that treats us all as fully human, differences and all.

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Question: L1-B visa question and can you recommend an immigration attorney?

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My friend has I-797 paperwork confirming an extension but doesn't have a visa stamp yet. He has a question, and he'd like to get some recommendations for an immigration attorney. Right now he's using yelp to search.

Here are the details from my friend.

On an L1-B visa that expires on July 29th. We extended from 3 to 5 years, and I have the I-797 confirming this, but I haven't got the new visa stamp in my passport, yet. Getting that in Montreal, in early August. I left the US for a weekend, and was re-admitted until the original July 29th 2017 date, not July 29th 2019. So, if I stay in the US until July 30th, is it going to be a problem?
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Windows 10 loves Ubuntu


Ubuntu 16.04 is now available as an app from the Windows Store for users running Windows Insider builds. The newly improved app is created by Canonical in collaboration with the Microsoft WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) team as a result of the work announced at Microsoft Build 2017 Conference, after the first unveiling at Build 2016 Conference. The installation experience has been greatly improved and using Ubuntu on Windows should be now easier than before.

To use this app, you need to be enrolled in the Windows Insiders programme and upgrade to the latest preview build of Windows. You can join the programme here. Insider builds have an optional feature that allows you to run Ubuntu binaries, natively. This can be activated by searching for “Turn Windows features on or off” and opting-in “Windows Subsystem for Linux”. And then install Ubuntu from the Windows Store.

Get it on Windows 10. 

Upon first launch of the app, a per-user copy of Ubuntu will be configured, including setting up unix account and the sudo password. Subsequently, you can pin Ubuntu to the Start menu or the taskbar for quick access to Ubuntu. In addition to launching the Ubuntu tile, you will also have access to run `ubuntu` from any cmd.exe terminal prompts as well.

If you get stuck, fear not, and join the community of WSL users. Use AskUbuntu , or Github, or StackOverflow Please enjoy running Ubuntu bash terminal, apt, git, ssh and many other tools and technologies from the comfort of your Windows 10 desktop.

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13 days ago
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My new novel DICHRONAUTS is now available for Amazon Kindle in the US (as well as everywhere else).
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17 days ago
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