How to hack a buttplug

❝ Voting machines weren’t the only thing getting penetrated at DEF CON this year.

When most people think of the Internet of Things, they think about light switches, voice controllers, and doorbell cameras. But over the past several years, another class of devices has also gained connectivity — those used for sexual pleasure. One such device, the Lovense Hush, advertised as the “world’s first teledildonic buttplug,” became the subject of a Sunday morning DEF CON talk this year after a hacker named “smea” managed to exploit not only the device and its associated computer dongle, but software used with it for social interaction (read: people remotely playing with each other’s buttplugs)…

❝ The talk in Las Vegas’ Paris Hotel & Casino drew hundreds of largely hungover conference-goers who couldn’t help but chuckle at every mention of the word “buttplug.” But the implications for the sex toy industry are obviously quite serious, especially if exploiting a device enables an attacker to compromise the computer they’re linked to or spread malware via the buttplug’s accompanying social software — all of which smea demonstrated was possible live on stage.

That’s about as far as I let my curiosity wander on this topic. :-]

Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole Has Pooped Out a Big Bright Flare

❝ The supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*, is relatively quiet. It’s not an active nucleus, spewing light and heat into the space around it; most of the time, the black hole’s activity is low key, with minimal fluctuations in its brightness.

Most of the time. Recently, astronomers caught it going absolutely bananas, suddenly growing 75 times brighter before subsiding back to normal levels. That’s the brightest we’ve ever seen Sgr A* in near-infrared wavelengths…

❝ “I was pretty surprised at first and then very excited,” astronomer Tuan Do of the University of California Los Angeles told ScienceAlert.

“The black hole was so bright I at first mistook it for the star S0-2, because I had never seen Sgr A* that bright. Over the next few frames, though, it was clear the source was variable and had to be the black hole. I knew almost right away there was probably something interesting going on with the black hole.”

The explosions in the video up top from DOCTOR STRANGELOVE are little pinpricks compared to the energy from interaction with a black hole. Luckily, not a neighborhood happenstance.

Apple Titanium Credit Card

So far it works like a champ. Notified, a couple days ago, I would be part of the first rollout group of users. Sort of a shakedown cruise for Apple, I guess.

Responded to the first set of instructions. Setup the card in my iPhone wallet – [Saturday morning: – Apple just sent me notification that the snazzy Titanium card will be here Monday]. Popped over to Target who is into Apple Pay. Grabbed a couple 32oz containers of Greek-style yogurt brands I hadn’t yet tried and some frozen spinach we forgot to get on our last shopping excursion to town. Trundled into the self-checkout lane and [for me, actually] ApplePayed for something for the first time.

Normally, my wife does the Apple Pay wherever we’re shopping. I pay back with Apple Pay cash direct to her – iPhone to iPhone – when we unpack at home and we sort out the goods.

Everything smooth as silk. Automagic chuckle when the iPhone pops up my first cash back from a purchase = $0.21…

Today, I setup the payment process which is identical to that on my other favorite credit card – and expanded the reminder in my calendar to pay off the week’s balance for the other card I use + Amazon + Apple [now] the same day every week. Bingo.

Google and Amazon follow Apple’s lead on voice assistant review

❝ Apple on Thursday suspended its Siri grading program, which seeks to make the virtual assistant more accurate by having workers review snippets of recorded audio, after a contractor raised privacy concerns about the quality control process.

Now, Apple’s competitors in the space, namely Google and Amazon, are making similar moves to address criticism about their own audio review policies

❝ Shortly after Apple’s announcement, Google in a statement to Ars Technica on Friday said it, too, halted a global initiative to review Google Assistant audio. Like Siri grading, Google’s process runs audio clips by human operators to enhance system accuracy.

Unlike Apple’s Siri situation, however, a contractor at one of Google’s international review centers leaked 1,000 recordings to VRT NWS, a news organization in Belgium. In a subsequent report in July, the publication claimed it was able to identify people from the audio clips…

❝ Amazon is also taking steps to temper negative press about its privacy practices and on Friday rolled out a new Alexa option that allows users to opt out of human reviews of audio recordings, Bloomberg reports. Enabling the feature in the Alexa app excludes recorded audio snippets from analysis.

Many of the articles posted on this topic never mentioned anonymizing and using random quotes. I have no doubt the folks who produced those articles were aware of the practice. I imagine they decided that might diminish their sensational revelation.

Using anonymous clips used to be “good enough” – in my experience. Nowadays, with rising privacy standards acknowledged by most, Apple, Amazon and Google are changing practices with changing times.

Something else that will become “opt in” or “opt out”.