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Friday, March 23, 2018

Midi Fighter Pro Firmware Flashing Issues, Random Stuff, and More

- if you don't already know I play around with firmware modifications often and regularly. Recently got a MidiFighter Beatmasher in a swap. Obvious thing to do is to update firmware when you begin to use it (I stopped doing this a while back after I had some problems but started to do it semi-regularly when the firmware was well tested). Tried it. Ended up bricking the thing. Nothing was responsive and everything online was giving me nothing. This is basically the story of how I de-bricked it
- looked at the following document. Felt like I was doing the right thing but it didn't seem to be doing anything. Nothing online seemed to provide me with any direction on what to do next...
midi fighter not recognised usb
Midifighter Classic Bricked?
- all online instructions indicated that there was basically a key thing/set of sequences that needed to be done to get the thing into bootloader mode which would get it ready for the firmware to be flashed. Instructions online often make things some simple but I've experienced much strangeness over the years:
# flash chips that would no longer be writable because they had been written to too many times
# incompatible firmware despite evidence to the contrary
# bricked hardware because I loaded incomaptible hardware. Thankfully, a lot of hardware offers DFU modes that allow you to get to firmware re-write stages. Main issue is lack of documentation. Often you have to short two pins on a 'core chip', start the thing in some sort of sequence, etc...
- none of the solutions online seemed to work so I had to do what every other 'technology Jedi master' does. Randomly bash buttons until I found one that seemed to work. LOL If I recall correctly it's something similar to buttons 1/2 simultaneously and then button 1 which sort of resembles what's outlined/documented but not... The strange thing with my circumstance was that it got to the final stage before it sent a signal for a device reset and it had two errors prior to the reset finally doing through and allowing me to conduct a firmware re-flash. Distressing...
- note that in order to get to the buttons to do the reset you have to open up the device which requires hex screws. Beware damaging the screws themselves. They're in pretty tight so ensure you find the right hex screwdriver to remove them (consider using a screw removal liquid/degreaser if you think there is enough of a gap to make it possible). If you do damage it consider using epoxy glue to attach something on it and removing it (really strong quality glues allow you to do this), drilling it out (need quality drill attachments though), using a screw removal extractor system, etc...
- consider using an older version of the Midifighter Utility if need be (I prefer 2.6.3 to 2.7.0) if you have problems with the latest download
- there seem to be 'odd modes' in the device that are undocumented. Press the correct sequence and combination of buttons and you can have very strange light sequences. I'm assuming these are for production and diagnostic purposes
- out of curiosity I looked at the Github to see the difficulty in loading a new layout to the hardware. It would take a bit of work getting the toolchain setup correctly but it seems very possible (uses an Amtel chip at it's core which requires a special utility tool to flash/load new software). Else, you can use something like Bome's MIDI Translator to act as an intermediary mechanism
How To Flash the Midifighter with New Firmware - DJ TechTools Forums
midi fighter github
midi fighter site:github.com
// This table maps key numbers to midi note offsets, to match
// up the notes with Ableton Live drum racks, e.g. key 5 will initially
// send NoteOn G#3 = 44, with the rest of the keypad sending:
//     C4  C#4 D4  D#4
//     G#3 A3  A#3 B3
//     E3  F3  F#3 G3
//     C3  C#3 D3  D#3
// The table is coded as note offsets so we can re-base the pad at another
// MIDI note, with the default offset being C3 = 36. The "PROGMEM" setting
// forces the table into program memory so it won't take up precious RAM.
const uint8_t kNoteMap[16] PROGMEM = {
    12, 13, 14, 15,
     8,  9, 10, 11,
     4,  5,  6,  7,
     0,  1,  2,  3,
- a few things about Midi Fighter devices. They can be 'awkward'. The parts may be quality but the older devices in particular look like they've been designed for pure function and don't really consider aesthetics, the software usability of the device is questionable for people who are brand new to the electronic music scene (I've had to deal with conflicts before. Diagnostic messages could have been 'more useful'), etc...
- found these programs while undergoing my search... Really neat. Some people have figured out how to use MIDI devices to control lighting and graphics software. Others have even figured out how to build DIY devices using arduino and Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) hardware and electronics

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Random Quotes:
- And that is the actual case. Executing a successful ICO is difficult. A lot of things have to fall in place. This is why the majority of these ideas will fail and you will never see an actual working product or service on the market.

According to a recent article in Fortune magazine “Nearly Half of 2017’s Cryptocurrency ‘ICO’ Projects Have Already Died“. And Bitcoin.com found another 113 projects that it calls “semi-failed,” because their teams have gone off the radar or their community has withered away. Add those to the mix and the failure rate jumps to 59%. Nervous yet?

As investors grow wary and scared the flow of funds will begin to shrink.

People are getting smarter, earlier. They’re doing more research, sharing information, getting the facts and exposing the schemes, scams and con artists behind these projects. Regulators are getting more involved in cryptocurrencies and they are starting to prosecute scammers. This will make it more difficult for new ICO projects to achieve PRE-ICO and ICO success.
- Why do these journalists and many others keep quiet and try to stay in the good books of politicians? The answer is simple: though the jobs of journalists and public relations people are diametric opposites, journalists have no qualms about crossing the divide because the money in PR is much more.

Salaries are much higher if a journalist gets onto the PR team of a senior politician. And with jobs in journalism disappearing at a rate of knots year after year, journalists like Murphy, Maley and Baird hedge their bets in order to stay in politicians’ good books. Remember Mark Simkin, a competent news reporter at the ABC? He joined the staff of — hold your breath — Tony Abbott when the man was prime minister. Simkin is rarely seen in public these days.

Nobody calls journalists on this deception and fraud. It emboldens them to continue to pose as people who act in the public interest when in reality they are no different from the average worker. Yet they climb on pulpits week after week and pontificate to the masses.

It has been said that journalists are like prostitutes: first, they do it for the fun of it, then they do it for a few friends, and finally they end up doing it for money. You won’t find too many arguments from me about that characterisation.
- The price of bitcoin sank late Wednesday after a report by the Wall Street Journal that the Securities and Exchange Commission is ramping up pressure on the initial-coin-offerings industry, issuing scores of subpoenas and information requests to companies. The Journal reported the SEC is seeking information about the structure of ICO sales and pre-sales. Bitcoin BTCUSD, +2.10% immediately fell about 2% after the report, and was last trading at $10,346, according to Coindesk. The SEC has previously suggested that many ICOs may be violating securities laws. In December, a new SEC cyber unit took its first action, halting an allegedly fraudulent ICO. An ICO is a fund-raising method in which a company issues its own cryptocurrency, typically in exchange for bitcoin. The process has significantly fewer regulatory hoops to jump through than an IPO, and the ICO market has been booming, with $6.5 billion raised last year. They're also highly risky -- according to a new survey, 46% of new ICOs in 2017 either flopped out of the gate or have since gone out of business.
- "Why would the US Government fund a tool that limited its own power? The answer, as I discovered, was that Tor didn't threaten American power. It enhanced it."

Levine said the documents showed "Tor employees taking orders from their handlers in the federal government, including plans to deploy their anonymity tool in countries that the US was working to destabilise: China, Iran, Vietnam, Russia".

"They showed strategy sessions, discussions about the need to influence news coverage, and control bad press. They featured monthly updates that described meetings and training with the CIA, NSA, FBI, DoJ and State Department.

"They revealed plans to funnel government funding to run Tor 'independent' nodes. Most shockingly, the FOIA documents put under question Tor's pledge that it would never put in any backdoors that gave the government secret privileged access to Tor's network under question."
- And if that’s not enough, they may have detected mysterious dark matter at work, too.

The glimpse consisted of a faint radio signal from deep space, picked up by an antenna that is slightly bigger than a refrigerator and costs less than $5 million but in certain ways can go back much farther in time and distance than the celebrated, multibillion-dollar Hubble Space Telescope.

Judd Bowman of Arizona State University, lead author of a study in Wednesday’s journal Nature, said the signal came from the very first objects in the universe as it was emerging out of darkness 180 million years after the Big Bang.

Seeing the universe just lighting up, even though it was only a faint signal, is even more important than the Big Bang because “we are made of star stuff, and so we are glimpsing at our origin,” said astronomer Richard Ellis, who was not involved in the project.

The signal showed unexpectedly cold temperatures and an unusually pronounced wave. When astronomers tried to figure out why, the best explanation was that elusive dark matter may have been at work.

If verified, that would be the first confirmation of its kind of dark matter, which is a substantial part of the universe that scientists have been searching for over decades.
- SEAN PARKER: If the thought process that went into building these applications–Facebook being the first of them to really understand it–that thought process was all about “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever, and that’s gonna get you to contribute more content and that’s gonna get you more likes and comments. So it’s a social validation feedback loop. I mean it’s exactly the kind of thing that a that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in in human psychology. And I just think that we–the inventors/creators, you know, and it’s me, it’s Mark, it’s Kevin Systrom at Instagram, it’s all of these people–understood this consciously and we did it anyway.
- “In the past, when elephants were sick, they were often released back into the forest. The sick elephants would seek leaves and herbs to treat themselves. But now forests have been largely destroyed; there are few medicinal plants left,” Long added.

Long said elephants were big animals that were generally in good health. Most of their diseases are caused by working too hard and carrying loads that are far too big.

“In recent years, elephants tend to have more tumours in their bodies. The tumours stem from polluted food and water, which leads to lack of nutrition and resistance in their bodies,” he added.

Long often uses the bark of lộc vừng (fish poison tree or barringtonia), and leaves of trâm (Jamblon or syzygium cumini) and some salt boiled to rinse off the injured areas. After sterilising the injury, Long uses soil taken from the nest of termites or fermented rice to cover the open injury.

“Both substances have antibiotic functions and kill parasites and work very well for elephants with tumours,” Long said.
- Australians are loyal to their mobile phone operators, staying with them through thick and thin, with a newly published report finding that switching is in the too-hard-basket for many mobile users, and others find comparing their options too confusing.

According to comparison website finder.com.au, 10% of mobile users say it’s too much hassle to change providers and a further 6% find comparing their options too confusing.

But, according to finder many mobile users stick with the same mobile phone provider when they could be switching and getting a better deal – or even a better deal with their current provider.

Finder says that the average Aussie has been with the same telco for 6.5 years, with only one-third (38%) switching providers in the last 3 years, while a further 14% have been with their telco for 4-5 years and 26% haven’t switched for 6-10 years.
- Huawei's global chief executive Ken Hu told the AFR last week that the US and Australian concerns were based on "groundless suspicions".

"We welcome discussions and even debate if it is based on facts," he said. "We are very happy to conduct open and transparent discussions with the Australian Government and telecom operators."

The US has been increasing the pressure on Huawei from the start of this year. A deal for AT&T to sell the Chinese firm's phones on plans was cancelled by the American company at the last minute in January.

Not long after, Verizon was reported to have yielded to pressure from the US Government to stop selling Huawei devices.

In February, US intelligence chiefs warned against the use of Huawei equipment.

FBI chief Christopher Wray told a US Senate hearing: “We’re deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks."

But the UK works with Huawei and recently said it would continue to do so.

Australia denied Huawei any role in supplying equipment to the country's national broadband network project about six years ago, following advice by ASIS, one of its spy agencies.

And last year, Australia put pressure on the Solomon Islands to drop Huawei as the main contractor for an undersea cable project. The project was later awarded to the Vocus Group.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Social Media Bot Coding Notes, Random Stuff, and More

- I obviously dabble in the marketing space form time to time. Of late, I've been working with social media bots a lot. Here are my notes...
- you need to be able to code. It's plain nonsensical if you are using social media bots to increase your online presence but you have to wait for updates to come via alternative sources. One frustrating thing is that people could have pulled different version of code from source repositories online which means that patches may not be compatible with one another. The following is an example of this...
It's quicker to fix things yourself then to rely on others. My guess is that commercial operators suffer from the same issue during code alterations upstream but simply hide the fact that their bots are broken?
- if you've built anything which has to interact with anything else online you'll be aware of the moving target problem. API's can change without any warning and you have to update your code. My guess is that this is one of the reasons why many developers give up on maintianing their code. They just can't be bothered keeping up to date with changes. In the meantime, they're struggling to find ways to monetise their code
- code quality varies drastically across the board. Things to look at are error trapping, diagnostics, commenting, functionality, documentation, etc... The ad-hoc nature of a lot of code out there makes it hard to hunt down and figure out problems in more sophisticated bot software. Do not expect to just download code off the web and have it up and running instantly and perfectly
reddit python bot github
reddit bot github
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Reddit bot
- there are heaps of different types of 'bots' out there. CLI based, browser addon/extension based, web server based, etc... One of the ones that isn't so obvious is macro based. It circumvents the API issue entirely and can be more easily updated then ones based on code. The main caveat is that they aren't as flexible. Be prepared to build multiple layers of code/abstractions to get things done...
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- get used to bypassing or finding workarounds to security systems. This includes caching, anti-Bot systems, etc...
bypass google bot check
getting around cloudflare
- get used to huge amounts of code breaking. Don't be scared off by acronyms (XML, HTML, XHTML, CSS, REST, API, SOAP, JS, JSON, GraphQL, etc...). At the end of the day, coding is coding... and most high level languages don't really differ by much. Most of the social media bots I've come across require a lot of code re-writes just to run stably (they won't run continuously or without major errors without someone standing by or code modifications), commenting is poor, etc... and are generally forks of a core piece of code somewhere upstream, Times of major code changes at social media companies can be frustrating. Expect code to break all over the place... Following example is of instabot.py in the last few days
# mode 3, likers_protocol.py
        #if self.media_by_user[self.current_index]["likes"]["count"] >= 10 and self.media_by_user[self.current_index]["likes"]["count"] < 100:
        if self.media_by_user[self.current_index]["edge_liked_by"]["count"] >= 10 and self.media_by_user[self.current_index]["edge_liked_by"]["count"] < 100:
# mode 0, userinfo.py 
        #id_user = all_data['user']['id']
        id_user = all_data['graphql']['user']['id']
There is an issue on line 42 in userinfo.py. Key 'user' cannot be found. #1017
instabot github issue
- spend enough time on Github, Bitbucket, etc... and you figure out that most coders out there fork from existing code sets. Ironically, I've often found this to be counterproductive and is probably the inversion of my work? I have more original/clean code then forked code?
- exploit growth trends whenever possible...
- over time, you figure out what the 'commerical operators' of social media bots have done. They run their code all day, they've basically optimised the living daylights out of existing code out there and may possibly be using bots on top of bots. That's the only way that it makes economic sense for them to reach the numbers that they do for the cost levels that they do. Super basic modifications can lead to enormous performance increases which are less likely to draw suspicion from social media companies. Active user detection: minimum number of posts, follower to followers ratio to increase chances of a 'follow back', pure speed, counter measures to ensure your bot isn't banned or shadow-banned, etc... Ironically, I've found that related accounts (subject wise) are more likely to follow one another then brute force followforfollow type scams. It is genuinely realistic for you to hit 'commercial operator' (low to mid level) type figures by simply optimising existing code from currently popular social media bots. To hit the high level operators type numbers it will take genuine time, work, and effort though...
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- from time to time a lot of large scale 'bot operators' are get shutdown. If you examine their pricing models and contract terms it's obvious that many of them are worried about bankruptcy or future financial viability of their businsses...
- watch for traffic bot type scams... You're basically paying people for automated traffic to your website
traffic bot github
- don't forget about copying over relevant databases if something goes wrong and you need to start over. This will stop you from having to cover old territory and reduces error rates as your software/bot contacts the social media company's servers which reduces the chances of a soft or hard ban. Most database backends rely on flat files or else SQLite (I've been intending to build a master-master replication systems for SQLite for a while now (for fun really) but have been bogged down with other work. May do this in the near future if have time)
- I've worked in the SEO, marketing, sales, search engine, online advertising space before and I'm seeing the same rough patterns. Basically, linear growth is expected. For a given amount of traffic the percentage level of engagement is roughly the same (think back to algebra and y=mx+c where: x=engagement rate, c=base traffic, m=average traffic and y=a measure of overall efficiency. That's what you're mostly seeing here. Engagement rates oscillate at roughly the 0.5-2.5% level. Really good campaigns will hit closer to 5% mark. Yes, I'm aware that a lot of firms designate 3% mark as being an indicator/marker of possible fraud)... If you genuinely want to have faster growth you need decent content in combination with bots, etc... to make things better. This is the main reason how/why individuals and organisations seem to have such a huge online presence versus others. They've just optimised things across the board
- software such as hootsuite.com or dlvr.it can help a lot to centrally manage things and also provide semi-bot type functionality
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90% of traffic is coming from bots, how to get a refund? | Facebook
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- be prepared to deal with a lot of reconfiguration issues
praw subreddit configuration
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using reddit-twitter-bot
"You provided the name of a praw.ini configuration which does not exist." #12
sudo pip install praw==3.6.0
- there is obviously a growing place for automated marketing type solutions out there...
- some things are easier to 'bot/automate' then others... Obviously, the easiest way to 'bot' youtube views is a random JavaScript type script. Remember to use proxies, throwaway emails, implement countermeasures to overcome anti-bot systems (such as Cloudfare, Re-Captcha, Captcha, etc...)... Note, some anti-bot measures are super simple to bypass. For instance, just switching browsers, proxies, user agents, etc... will overcome a lot of them. Protocol level type anti-bot measures seem to be rarish...
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- graphics are a big problem if you aren't great with Photoshop or GIMP and your social media platform is heavily based on graphics (such as Instagram. Rely on automation to deal with this...
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- at the end of the day these companies are just technology companies...
- bots aren't a replacement for decent content... Traffic only stays up as long as the bot keeps on running... What bots do out there is basically tap other users on the shoulder from time to time. You need genuinely viable content to get 'free traffic'...
- people think that having a targeted campaign is the easiest/best way to do things but you at the end of the day 'need traffic' to get engagement to get sales. There's no way you can get around this. Look at all of the social media accounts out there and do a comparison. They seem favour traffic first even if it comes at the cost of getting their brand up front and centre
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- marketing people (particularly in your area of interest) will generally engage (likes, follow, retweet, etc...) more highly. Guerrilla marketing tactics will yield higher engagement levels as well...
- bot development proceeding smoothly. Certain accounts more likely to like, follow, retweet. Even more likely if areas of interest are similar. Marketers more likely to engage/retweet?
auto retweet twitter
- depending on needs you may need to combine code from multiple bots, start from scratch, extend existing bots, etc... Don't try to over complicate things. Building requisite bots isn't that hard. Core code is on my website/blog and via Github in other people's repos... If all else fails use Selenium (or equivalent product). Most of the time you'll be dealing with Python based bots. Ease of development and speed up. Use throwaway email addresses to ease account creation
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- there are lots of alternatives out there...
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- there are often very distinct indicators of bot activity... High following to follower ratio, exceedingly low or high engagement rates, relatively low activity but high number of followers, etc... A lot of them seem to be propaganda and commercially orientated... Incidence of individuals using bots seem to be lower. Normally, lift is across the board if quality is relatively even. If not, it indicates that their may be quality control problems somewhere in the chain?
- there seems to be a lot sub-communities out there...
- verify every single claim out there. This is the Internet. A lot of the time you do further investigation and the claims that a lot of people make no sense unless something 'strange has occurred'
- use your data and analytics... Some platforms don't offer internally so use alternate means... Fail fast so that you can succeed fast. Use A/B type testing. Else, all you're doing is burning away your company's money...
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follower analysis twitter
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- wanted to examine popular social media organisation accounts to see whether there were any commonalities. They post about half a dozen times a day. Often post uniquish content. Not necessarily always related 100% to the thing they're trying to hawk but there's definitely a bias there... Examples of this are NASA and National Geographic while Trump is much more heavily orientated towards their own hotel operations...
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- This is the ultimate/basic bot that this relies on Selenium. It basically requires a seperate system (or VM running at all times). If had more time or resources I would have turned this on...
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- the other type of bot out there seems to be based on P2P pools that basically auto-like/follow one another. This is how I'm guessing some of the unrealistic bot systems out there work. It's basically bots following bots following other bots with people thrown in as often as possible...
auto follow pool twitter
- this is the only option/situation for low resource environments. I'm currently building something similar...
- don't get annoyed if your social media numbers 'oscillate' (namely, they seem to move up and down for no good reason in small numbers). That's basically 'bot on bot action'...
- note, from time to time significant changes in policies can have a massive impact on bots downstream...
- a lot of code out there just flat out doesn't work... Be prepared to build your own solutions if need be. It may actually be quicker then looking for a solution on the Internet
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- don't be afraid to use multiple bots to get the job done... Try not to use them at the same time though as it may get you banned...
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- there are underground groups out there using their own codes, memes, etc... Figure it out and you can alienate or bring in large groups of people in one go...
- if you honestly want to know whether you're gaining genuine traffic the only way to do this is to keep things in house...
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GrowBot Automator for Instagram
- don't get sucked into the 'Big Data' arena if you don't need to. As the intelligence services and large commercial organisations have discovered you need to sift/wade through huge amounts of data just to get at the data that you need. It's not efficient particularly for SME type firms...
- don't be too worried if your social media demographic seems strange (overly young, doesn't make sense, etc...). That's the nature of social media in general. Four figures followers will general have you in a very tiny minority across most social media platforms...
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- for you to genuinely to be able to 'make a difference' in this area you need several months of work. This isn't the type of thing that you can simply knock over in a few days flat even if you do have a developer/marketing background. You need to study/analyse things for you to be able to make a genuine long term difference. I've been able to achieve linear type growth easily. Exponential/viral type growth requires decent content though... Learn not to be 'offended by the Internet' (you can't get angry or even with the Internet anyhow! LOL). Your product could be great but no one's interested because you haven't presented in a way that people find interesting relative to the competition, you may have done inadequate research into the market, you may have presented it poorly, you may have targeted the wrong people in your marketing campaign, etc... Just learn your way around. Hopefully, you'll figure out something eventually...

Random Stuff:
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Random Quotes:
- UNITED NATIONS –  North Korea says it can't pay nearly $184,000 in dues to the United Nations because of U.N. sanctions that prevent the transfer of funds from Pyongyang.
North Korea's U.N. Mission said sanctions imposed by the Security Council last August on the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which is in charge of international transactions, have made payment impossible.
The mission said Ambassador Ja Song Nam met Undersecretary-General for Management Jan Beagle Friday to request the opening of "banking channels" so the DPRK can make its 2018 required payments for U.N. operations.
The United States banned the Foreign Trade Bank from the U.S. financial system in 2013 and the DPRK Mission blamed the Trump administration for spurring last August's U.N. sanctions against the bank.
- The experts I spoke to all stressed that Kim could devastate Seoul without even needing to use his weapons of mass destruction. The North Korean military has an enormous number of rocket launchers and artillery pieces within range of Seoul. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service estimates that Kim could hammer the South Korean capital with an astonishing 10,000 rockets per minute — and that such a barrage could kill more than 300,000 South Koreans in the opening days of the conflict. That’s all without using a single nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon.
- Plenty of sensitive data has been found lying unsecured in S3 buckets, with the security firm UpGuard finding such stashes quite often.

UpGuard releases details of its finds on the Web regularly. It has found misconfigured S3 buckets leaking data from Paris-based brand marketing company Octoly, California data analytics firm Alteryx, credit repair service National Credit Federation, the NSA, the Pentagon, global corporate consulting and management firm Accenture, publisher Dow Jones, a Chicago voter database, a North Carolina security firm, and a contractor for the US National Republican Committe
- The British Home Office has announced that it has developed new technology that will be able to automatically detect what it calls "terrorist content" on all online platforms.

No date was given for rolling out the technology or what it would be called, but a statement, issued along with Home Secretary Amber Rudd (below), said tests had shown the technology in question could detect 94% of propaganda from the Islamic State group with 99.995% accuracy.

The statement also claimed that if the technology was used to analyse a million randomly selected videos, then only 50 would require additional review.

It said the technology had been developed jointly by the Home Office and artificial intelligence firm ASI Data Science and used "advanced machine learning to analyse the audio and visuals of a video to determine whether it could be Daesh propaganda". Daesh is another name for the Islamic State group.
- "While it may surprise you, it's not the least bit uncommon for jets to descend at what a pilot calls 'flight idle', with the engines run back to a zero-thrust condition," says pilot and author Patrick Smith in his book Cockpit Confidential. "They're still operating and powering crucial systems, but providing no push. You've been gliding many times without knowing it. It happens on just about every flight."

Smith explains that idle thrust is doing harder work than engines cut out altogether, but not by much. He likens it to coasting down a hill in a car with the clutch down.

Different aircraft have different glide ratios, meaning they will lose altitude at different rates, affecting how far they can fly without engine thrust. For example, if a plane has a lift to drag ratio of 10:1 then that means for every 10 miles (16 kilometres) of flight it loses one mile in altitude. Flying at a typical altitude of 36,000 feet (about 11 kilometres), an aircraft that loses both engines will be able to travel for another 70 miles (113 kilometres) before reaching the ground.
- "I am a person who would like to create opportunities for myself, because nobody could and would do that for me," Mr Meng said.
- So why do employers pay so much for people who’ve done them, or at least have got the certificates to show they once did them?

Caplan reckons it’s profiling, a bit like racial profiling, where police use the way someone looks as a rule of thumb to work out whether they are likely to commit a crime, or the profiling by insurance companies who use postcodes to tell them what to charge. It mightn’t be fair, but it's quick.

Seen that way, university is a sorting tool for employers, one they don’t pay for. It helps them identify characteristics that will be needed on the job but have nothing to do with what was learnt. One is intelligence. You need a certain amount to get enough marks to pass, whatever the subject. Another is conscientiousness. You need to apply yourself. And the third is conformity. Sane free-thinkers realise quickly there’s not a lot of point to what they are learning and drop out. Degrees certify IQ, the ability to knuckle down and a worker who won’t make trouble.

So they are great for employers and great for graduates, albeit at the cost of enormous wasted resources. Employers could get the same outcomes if the courses lasted for two years instead of four, or even one. Or if they administered tests themselves.

If Caplan’s right, we should be pushing politicians for less education rather than more, especially as the ageing of the population makes workers more scarce. My own company, Fairfax, is doing just that. It has taken on several truly excellent journalists precisely for the reason that they left university rather than see it through. They wanted to do the job rather than study it.

University isn’t for everyone, but life is. And it’s even better than university.
- The M27 was first being touted as an alternative to the M249 SAW. IMO this is a terrible idea and foolhardy. The M27 cannot provide the sustained fire the SAW can nor can it provide a high volume of fire. The standard load for the SAW gunner 600rounds. In contrast the standard load for a rifleman is 240 rounds (personally I always had 270 or 300 rounds). In a very real sense the M27 is the modern day equivalent to the BAR, which is I think a step in the wrong direction. If the US Military really wanted a suitable replacement to the M249 then I think they should take a look at the Negev and the new KAC LMG. 

I'm just an Army dog, but I think the USMC is onto something here. The paradigm is shifting. Volume of fire is great, but wasteful. Recent experience in Iraq and Asscrackistan has shown you can still lose the gunfight even if you're getting more rounds down range. With the 5.56mm NATO round (even the 70+ grain spec ops rounds) you reach a point of diminishing returns. You won't shoot through much and you won't have the range. Belt fed volume of fire is best served by 7.62mm NATO rounds found in the M240B. They will at least shoot through sandbags, walls, brick, mortar, heavy vegetation and more types of body armor. You get double the range too. The M27 allows them less volume, with much greater accuracy in a more common and lighter round. They like the M27 enough to use it as a DMR (not to be confused with sniper rifle). That has given birth to the M38, which is a DMR mod of a standard M27.
- Burke: The way you’re feeling right now … is why I have to believe in something bigger than me. Because if I didn’t, that powerlessness would eat me alive.
- Mr Vasta left the Caltex system last year after two years of financial hardship and emotional distress caused by his loss-making stores on Sydney’s suburban fringe.

Ahead of exiting the Caltex system, he had been on financial assistance from the oil refining and retail giant. At one point his debt relating to his stores had blown out to $355,000.

“I’m not a happy camper. We lost a lot of money,” he said.

As part of Caltex’s transition process, leases for franchises that end before 2020 will not be renewed. Those with leases ending after 2020 will receive some form of payout.

When asked if he thought it was fair to franchisees that Caltex would not be renewing leases after 2020, Mr Vasta said: “I think it’s wrong to ask if I think it’s fair. Fairness and Caltex do not go together."
- He told the interviewer that Indians were not encouraged to follow creative careers.

"The culture here is one of success based upon academic excellence, studying, learning, practising and having a good job and a great life. For upper India, not the lower. I see two Indias," he said.

"That's a lot like Singapore study, study, work hard and you get an MBA, you will have a Mercedes but where is the creativity? The creativity gets left out when your behaviour is too predictable and structured, everyone is similar.

"Look at a small country like New Zealand, the writers, singers, athletes, singers, athletes, it's a whole different world."

Asked about teaching students to code in schools, Wozniak said that while it was important, nobody should be taught to code before the age of 12.

"You don't get to a stage of symbolic reasoning until you are 12 years old. Some people get there early, but most people at 12, and that's why algebra can't be taught till you are that age. And programming can be taught only when you are ready for algebra," he said.

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