I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Judge Awards Chevron Access to Nine Years of Americans’ Email Metadata

Mike Masnick, reporting for TechDirt (the entire post is worth a read):

This seems like a pretty big problem, given the rationale of the judge initially. Beyond that, just the basic chilling effects from finding out that a giant company could get access like this to so much metadata on a large list of its critics is fairly incredible. As the article notes, while subpoenas on people who aren’t actually parties to a lawsuit are “routine,” they’re not supposed to be mass fishing expeditions, which they appear to be in this case.

So, we have more than just the NSA to worry about now. I find it pretty insane that a judge would just hand this kind of personal data over to a corporation. Insanity seems to be the new norm.

SIM Card Vulnerability Opens Millions of Phones to Attack

Pierluigi Paganini writes, for Security Affairs :

A serious vulnerability on SIM cards used in some mobile phones has been found, exploiting the flaw an attacker could eavesdrop on phone conversations, could install malicious applications on the device or it could impersonalize handset’s owner. The discovery is very concerning, the vulnerability could compromise the security for 750 million mobile phones.

You can barely look around recently without encountering yet another potentially disatrous security breach which affects millions of unsuspecting people. As Moore’s Law leads to faster and faster computation—while our encryption methods seem to advance and propagate at a slower rate—breaches and catastrophes are only going to become more and more common1.

Nohl revealed that it is possible to exploit the vulnerability in less than two minutes using a common PC.

In the words of the great philosopher, “yikes!”

  1. Get ready for a neverending stream of calls from your mother, your father, your aunt, your cousin, that one guy you used to work with who knows you’re some kind of geek or something, your neighbor’s friend, etc. 

Ubuntu Edge Is A Smartphone / Computer Hybrid

Perhaps I should say that it will be (or even that it only might someday be) a smartphone / computer hybrid, since it’s currently just an Indiegogo campaign, and may never see the light of day.

This sort of hybrid usually sounds like a great idea on paper, but past experiments with it have not turned out that well.

61 Tons of Silver Recovered From Shipwreck

Paul Toscano, CNBC:

On Monday, Tampa-based Odyssey Marine Exploration announced that it had recovered over 61 tons (1.8 million ounces) of silver bullion this month from the wreck of a cargo ship torpedoed 300 miles off the coast of Ireland during World War II.

This is why I want my own submarine. If only I had $61 million in silver with which to buy one.

Paramount Pictures Map of California Shows Geographic Facsimiles

This map, from 1927, was used internally at Paramount Pictures to find locations in California which could stand in for distant locales. California’s geographic diversity is one of the major reasons[1] why Los Angeles became the global nexus of film production.

Paramount Studio map of California's geographical facsimiles, fron The Motion Picture Industry as a Basis for Bond Financing, 1927

HT: Kottke

  1. Another reason was the sunny weather. Early film stocks were far less sensitive than what we have today, and the sun was the only light powerful enough to register an image. Indoor sets would be built without roofs for this reason.  ↩

Rape Victim Imprisoned in Dubai

The BBC:

Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv was on a business trip in Dubai when she says she was raped.

The 24-year-old reported the March attack to the police but found herself charged with having extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury.

At least this hasn’t happened in Texas yet.

UPDATE, July 22, 2013 1:56 PM: Perhaps due to pressure from the media in the West, Dalelv has been pardoned. That’s good news, but I don’t think it’s the end of the story.

Who Knew It Was This Hard To Give a Film a Title?

The Hollywood Reporter‘s Gregg Kilday details the terms of a petty title dispute between the Weinstein Company and the MPAA. Apparently, TWC would run afoul of MPAA rules if they entitled their film simply The Butler. Check out the Byzantine insanity which guides the approved new title, Lee Daniels’ The Butler:

[A]ll letters of all words in the title must be in the same size and prominence as the size and prominence of the word ‘butler,’ except that if the name ‘Lee Daniels’ is used in the title, then ‘Lee Daniels’ must be of a size of at least 75% and of equal prominence of the word ‘butler’.

I expect nothing less that utter inanity in anything involving the MPAA, but this is beyond laughably ridiculous.

Build Your Own Cell Phone With an Arduino

Instructables user "xiaobo__" has shared detailed instructions from which to build a fully functional cellular phone using an Arduino Uno microcontroller, a number of other off-the-shelf parts, and a 3D-printed plastic case.

The design actually seems pretty practical, even if a little clunky by today’s standards. Don’t give me the crazy eye when I say that I might actually take a crack at something like this.

Jimmy Carter Supports Snowden, Decries Spying

The Huffington Post :

Former President Jimmy Carter announced support for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden this week, saying that his uncovering of the agency’s massive surveillance programs had proven "beneficial."

I’m surprised that any present or former American federal official would admit in public that the intelligence community has pushed too far into fascistic territory, but I suppose Carter would have to be the only guy who’d have enough of a soul left.

Here’s my favorite bit:

No American outlets covered Carter’s speech, given at an Atlantic Bridge meeting, which has reportedly led to some skepticism over Der Spiegel’s quotes.

Oh, really. Let’s not cover it, and then impugn those who do. Sounds a bit like what a totalitarian state’s propaganda wing might do, doesn’t it?

Something Destroyed Mars’ Atmosphere 4 Billion Years Ago

The Telegraph:

A “catastrophic” event destroyed the atmosphere of Mars four billion years ago, according to scientists.

An analysis of data returned by the Curiosity rover, which landed on the planet a year ago, suggests there was a major upheaval which could have been caused by volcanic eruptions or a massive collision which stripped away the atmosphere.

And we thought Earth was special.