More on TikTok…

I found this on slashdot. If you don’t read slashdot, you are missing out. The comments have been known to make my coffee flow out of my nose. The original article was posted on reddit.

So I can personally weigh in on this. I reverse-engineered the app, and feel confident in stating that I have a very strong understanding for how the app operates (or at least operated as of a few months ago).

TikTok is a data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network. If there is an API to get information on you, your contacts, or your device… well, they’re using it. 

Phone hardware (cpu type, number of course, hardware ids, screen dimensions, dpi, memory usage, disk space, etc)

Other apps you have installed (I’ve even seen some I’ve deleted show up in their analytics payload – maybe using as cached value?)

Everything network-related (ip, local ip, router mac, your mac, wifi access point name)

Whether or not you’re rooted/jailbroken

Some variants of the app had GPS pinging enabled at the time, roughly once every 30 seconds – this is enabled by default if you ever location-tag a post IIRC

They set up a local proxy server on your device for “transcoding media”, but that can be abused very easily as it has zero authentication

If true, this is damning evidence.

Using Chinese applications can be dangerous. Android users have it worse than Apple users. Apple is actively working on security. They also care about it. In Android’s case, having a platform that is more open to do what you want on it may sound great. You also leave yourself wide open for security breaches.

Chinese Apps

Great short article about TikTok misbehaving. I didn’t know this was a Chinese company but after discovering that, the article makes sense.

I recently signed up for a webinar for Postman. When I got the invite, I noticed it was a Zoom link. I did NOT attend. I don’t care how secure they say they are. The TikTok story just reinforces the reasons why you cannot trust Chinese based apps. Especially, the apps that have been “state sanctioned.”

From John Gruber at Daring Fireball

TikTok, I probably don’t need to remind you, is a Chinese company whose popularity algorithm is a black box. If you use TikTok you should assume they’ve stored a copy of anything and everything you’ve had on your clipboard while using the app. Their slogan might as well be “Chinese state-sanctioned social media” — which to me says don’t use them, but maybe that’s just me.

Daring Fireball

Here are some known Chinese based apps via IndiaTVNews

Bigo Live
Vigo Video
Clash of Kings
Mobile Legends
Club Factory
Game of Sultans
Mafia City
Battle of Empires

WWDC 2020 First Impressions

Wow! I have to admit that my expectations were slightly lower due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. I just didn’t think Apple was going to get as far as they may have planned because Corona happened.

I could not have been more wrong in my initial assessment. I am thrilled with what they presented. The presentation was absolutely wonderful and I’m sure a bunch of presenters were relived that they didn’t have to appear in front of a real crowd. I know I would be.

All of my devices are running the BETA software because I am insane and I like it that way. The look and feel, icons, and speed is just wonderful for the 1st version of the software. I usually have a lot more trouble.

The only casualty is something that always seems to break. My IBM iSeries software. It is java based and still manages to break with every upgrade.

There are so many other websites that are offering details this evening so I won’t add to the mix. I’d just like to say to Apple…well played!

The move to your own silicon…well, I won a bet from 5 years ago. I knew it was coming. They did not. I win. Hell, everybody wins!

COPS versus Terminators

I absolutely LOVE the Terminator franchise. All of it. I found this by way of Daring Fireball. Read the whole thing. If you are a Sci-Fi junkie, you’ll appreciate the message.

By now you’ve probably heard the news that a Terminator has killed another innocent civilian just days after the last innocent civilian was killed by a Terminator. This unfortunate incident has led to renewed calls to divert funding from the Terminator program and reallocate it into other services that would prevent Terminators from being necessary in the first place. But just because a growing number of Terminators have ignored their AI programming and begun slaughtering humans left and right doesn’t mean we should take the dangerous and radical step of defunding the Terminator program.

via McSweeney’s

Why Aliens Won’t Visit Us

This is a pretty cool article about a subject I most certainly have an opinion on. My idea about this is simple. If alien life can grow to the point that they are traveling among the stars, they have probably gotten to a point where they’ve killed themselves off. I don’t believe we’ll ever see interstellar life that isn’t in fossilized form. By the time we can travel the stars (assuming we haven’t killed ourselves by then) alien civilizations have probably risen and fallen. Use Star Wars as an example. The story takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. I’ll add, and then they all died.

This article isn’t quite as grim as that.

As Berezin explains, this doesn’t necessarily mean a highly developed extra-terrestrial civilisation would consciously wipe out other lifeforms – but perhaps “they simply won’t notice, the same way a construction crew demolishes an anthill to build real estate because they lack incentive to protect it”.


Common Sense

I believe it ok to protest something you feel very strongly about.

I believe that is NOT ok to damage other people’s property because you feel strongly about something.

People that damage other people’s property in the name of social injustice have a much bigger problem than their strong feelings about a particular subject. Their moral compass is obviously absent, damaged, or is currently rotting away. The only “justice” these types of people deserve is jail time.

I’m including something I found on Twitter…

The Truth About Hydroxychloroquine

If you are looking for evidence to suggest that this drug helps with COVID-19 treatment, you’d be hard pressed to find it. You can draw your own conclusions from the following…

From the BBC…

The death rates of the treated groups were: hydroxychloroquine 18%; chloroquine 16.4%; control group 9%. Those treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine in combination with antibiotics had an even higher death rate.

via BBC

From MySanAntonio…

The dangerous side effects of the drugs are much better known. Most seriously, the drugs can trigger arrhythmia, which can lead to a fatal heart attack in patients with cardiovascular disease or who are taking certain drugs, including anti-depression medications. Doctors recommend screening with an electrocardiogram to prevent the drug from being given to the 1% of patients at the greatest risk of a cardiac event. The drugs also can cause vision loss called retinopathy with long-term use, and chloroquine has been associated with psychosis.

via MSA

From The Journal of the American Medical Association…

Findings  In this phase IIb randomized clinical trial of 81 patients with COVID-19, an unplanned interim analysis recommended by an independent data safety and monitoring board found that a higher dosage of chloroquine diphosphate for 10 days was associated with more toxic effects and lethality, particularly affecting QTc interval prolongation. The limited sample size did not allow the study to show any benefit overall regarding treatment efficacy.

Meaning  The preliminary findings from the CloroCovid-19 trial suggest that higher dosage of chloroquine should not be recommended for the treatment of severe COVID-19, especially among patients also receiving azithromycin and oseltamivir, because of safety concerns regarding QTc interval prolongation and increased lethality.

via JAMA

And last but not least, from the New England Journal of Medicine…

Of 1446 consecutive patients, 70 patients were intubated, died, or discharged within 24 hours after presentation and were excluded from the analysis. Of the remaining 1376 patients, during a median follow-up of 22.5 days, 811 (58.9%) received hydroxychloroquine (600 mg twice on day 1, then 400 mg daily for a median of 5 days); 45.8% of the patients were treated within 24 hours after presentation to the emergency department, and 85.9% within 48 hours. Hydroxychloroquine-treated patients were more severely ill at baseline than those who did not receive hydroxychloroquine (median ratio of partial pressure of arterial oxygen to the fraction of inspired oxygen, 223 vs. 360). Overall, 346 patients (25.1%) had a primary end-point event (180 patients were intubated, of whom 66 subsequently died, and 166 died without intubation). In the main analysis, there was no significant association between hydroxychloroquine use and intubation or death (hazard ratio, 1.04, 95% confidence interval, 0.82 to 1.32). Results were similar in multiple sensitivity analyses.

via NEJM

Exhausting Audiobook Series

via TMBD Productions

I have a page link in the upper right hand corner called “Exhausting Book Series.” These are book series that I’ve listened to up to the point where I just couldn’t go on anymore. I believe the “Ashes” trilogy was the only series where I had to stop almost immediately after starting because the reader was over emotional. I’ve updated the section with other options from Audible on why others feel the same way I do about them. I was pleasantly surprised to see that someone felt exactly the same way about the Ashes Trilogy. You may agree or disagree. Feel free to leave a comment either way.