Is Craig Wright the real creator of Bitcoin?

The internet has been blowing up since it was revealed on Monday that Craig Wright is the creator of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a new currency that was created in 2009 by a phantom developer that went by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. The currency is unique because it allows its users to make transactions without a bank, and has grown popular enough to allow Bitcoins to be used to buy items from pizza to websites.  Nakamoto’s identity has always been shrouded in mystery, and added to the allure of the culture around Bitcoin. As of Monday, it was revealed to the world that Nakamoto is really an Australian businessman with 9 degrees. But everyone is not convinced.

This isn’t the first time the the creator of Bitcoin was said to be revealed. Just last year Wired and Gizmodo magazines claimed that Wright was Nakamoto. The reports were immediately criticized, with Wired reporting that claims of Wright as the creator of Bitcoin was a hoax. This time, Wright wrote his own blog post staking the claim as Nakamoto himself. This post was backed up by Bitcoin Foundation chief scientist Gavin Andresen, who showed support by writing a blog post of his own.

So how can we tell if Wright is really the creator of Bitcoin? It all comes down to signed cryptographic keys. Wright claims to be in possession of cryptographic keys that only the real Satoshi Nakamoto would have access to. Encryption works by using two keys, a private and public key to move data safely over the internet. Wright is claiming to have a private key that shows that he is the real Nakamoto. But even the existence of a private key has been contested. Having a private key doesn’t prove identity, it just proves that the person that is signing has access to the private key.

While Wright has taken steps to prove that with his private key, he can link to a bitcoin address mined by Satoshi Nakamoto, it makes you wonder how much it matters. Satoshi Nakamoto left the Bitcoin project. Although his work is the backbone of Bitcoin, it isn’t necessarily important to know who the real creator of Bitcoin is as far as Bitcoin’s future is concerned. But at least for now, there will still be a hint of mystery attached to Bitcoin’s creator.

Article via Mashable, 2 May 2016

Photo Vires In Numeris by Zach Copley [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Giving sight to homeless LGBTQ youth

For the homeless it is a luxury to have glasses to see properly. Usually they are burdened with more immediate needs such as food, shelter, and personal hygiene. But not having glasses can mean not being able to see, which is a large problem, especially when you depend on shelters to survive. Just ask Clay Ferguson. The twenty-three year old recently got jumped in a New York City coffee shop. In addition to taking his identification, and cell phone, they also broke his glasses.

“I can’t see the street signs. I can’t barely see nothin,” Clay recounts.

But, there is a program that is trying to change that. ChildSight is a program of Helen Keller International that provides free glasses to underserved youth in need, like Clay. This initiative is not new. ChildSight has historically served children from low-income public schools. But last July it branched out to help another underserved community, the Ali Forney Center. The center is a Harlem-based LGBTQ youth homeless shelter that served 1,200 young people last year and directly housed 440 of them — including Clay Ferguson.

Homelessness is an epidemic within the LGBTQ youth community.  Estimations of homeless youth find as many as 40 percent identifying as part of the queer community. Compare that statistic to the 4 percent of the general population, which includes more than just youth, that identify as LGBTQ. One reason for the increased rate of homelessness is that about 40% of the young people the Ali Forney Center are kicked out of their home after coming out.

As a result, the majority of youth from the Ali Forney Center that are referred to ChildSight have had blurry vision for  years.

“We’re really interested in finding other populations that are vulnerable and have difficulties accessing health services,” Nick Kourgialis, VP of Eye Health at Helen Keller International. “Certainly this is a population that faces these challenges…When you are young, you see the world the way you see it and assume everyone else sees it the same way,” Kourgialis says. “But when someone puts lenses before their eyes, the look on these kids’ faces is like, ‘What the hell?’

ChildSight has been working with the Ali Forney Center for less than a year, through a grant from New York Community Trust. The group has examined 122 young people and their program has delivered 88 pairs of free eyeglasses to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to improved sight.

Article via Mashable, 25 April 2016

Photo Glasses by Kate Brady [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


FBI hack to remain secret from Apple

The FBI has no plans to reveal how they hacked the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, not even to Apple.

In March, the FBI announced that they would be dropping their case with Apple after having purchased a hacking tool from a third party to aid in breaking into the phone. Apple had cooperated with the FBI, but would not create new firmware to break their own encryption. The high profile nature of this case brought the debate about privacy and security to the national stage. Although there was a judge assigned to rule on the case, the FBI’s purchasing of a hacking tool put the need for a ruling to bed.

Since then, the FBI has been mum on how this hacking tool was able to be successful and how it works. Prior to purchasing the tool, the FBI insisted that it needed Apple to update the firmware in order for them to do a hack on the shooter’s iPhone. The security on iPhone only allows 10 consecutive attempts to break the passcode before all data is erased on the phone.

Apple has a vested interest in understanding the hack, because the tech company would want to patch any vulnerabilities that allowed the FBI to use this tool to access the iPhone.  Hacking into this iPhone will make all iPhones vulnerable to the same sort of attack, which ultimately puts many iPhones around the world at risk.

An Apple attorney has stated that the company has no plans to sue the government to reveal how the San Bernardino iPhone was unlocked.

The government already has policies in place, called theVulnerabilities Equities Process, which governs disclosure of security problems to companies. This policy is notoriously shrouded in secrecy, but the government is generally supportive of vulnerability disclosure in order to ensure that vulnerabilities are not exploited by malicious hackers.

The FBI has found success with this tool, but it doesn’t mean that they are in a place to support vulnerability disclosure. The agency has already made plans to argue that it does not know enough about the hacking tool that it purchased to substantively explain how it works. FBI director James Comey has revealed that his agency spent more than $1 million to obtain the tool.

Article via TechCrunch, 26 April 2016

Photo El FBI no necesita a Apple para desbloquear un iPhone by iphonedigital [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]

 


ESPN fires Schilling over transgender comments

ESPN fired Curt Schilling, a major league baseball analyst, over expressing offensive comments regarding transgender people.

“ESPN is an inclusive company,” the network said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post. “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.”

Schilling’s conduct has been called into question before by ESPN for offensive or political statements that the analyst has made. But, it was his social media post on Tuesday that was the last straw for the network. Schilling posted a meme that depicted a man wearing a wig and ripped clothing. His comments accompanying the post read, “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves,” referring to the recent bathroom laws that have been passed in several states. “I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.”

After receiving backlash from readers, Schilling went on to say, “You frauds out there ranting and screaming about my ‘opinions’ (even if it isn’t) and comments are screaming for ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ while you refuse to do and be either.”

Schilling is known for his outspoken comments, so this isn’t the first time that he has garnered controversy over social media. Just last month Schilling was in hot water after telling a radio station that Hillary Clinton“should be buried under a jail somewhere,” violating ESPN policy about sharing political opinions on the election.  He was suspended by ESPN in August, for making comments that compared Muslims to Nazis. This suspension was eventually extended for the rest of the baseball season.

It appears that Schilling expected that his days were numbered with ESPN. Shortly after his suspension during the baseball season, a filing with the Federal Election Commission showed that Schilling, while donating $250 to Ben Carson’s presidential campaign, had listed his employer as “ESPN (Not Sure How Much Longer)” and, under “Occupation,” he wrote, “Analyst (For Now Anyway).”

Article via The Washington Post, 20 April 2016

Photo 150730-D-FW736-016 by DoD News Features [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Tech boom coming to an end?

For the last few years Silicon Valley has been the darling of venture capitalists looking for the next big thing. The result has been huge investments and valuations for companies that often come with whimsical names (Think Twilio and Sprinklr). The rise of mobile has contributed to the belief that there should be and “app for that”, and paved the way for companies less than 10 years old to become part of the billion dollar startup club. But that seems to be coming to an end.

At least, that is what the data shows anyway. Since the end of 2015, venture capital has been pulling back on investing in Silicon Valley unicorns. Unicorns are Silicon Valley companies with valuations of a billion dollars or more. Funding fell 8 percent to $25.5 billion, extending a steep decline that began the quarter before, according to a report released Wednesday by KPMG, an accountancy, and CB Insights, a venture researcher.

“There’s a lot of cautiousness out there,” says Kerry Wu, an analyst at CB Insights. “It’s reflected in the data.”

What that data shows is the rate of new unicorn companies is slowing. In Q3 of 2015 there was a new unicorn showing up in the valley every four days. But by the end of 2015 that had tricked down to just 1 new unicorn that quarter. The report by KPMG points to a few key reasons for the slow down in venture capital funding.

  • Too many unicorns A unicorn is a unicorn because its rare, but there have been so many lately that it may have driven the value down. When the value goes down, the money starts to slow because investors don’t see the next app as the best way to make money fast.
  • Startups are still growing The unicorns that have received funding are continuing to get more, such as Uber. This is helping them to grow larger quickly. And spreading the money thinner for the new comers on the block.
  • American funding is cooling off  The total number of venture deals flatlined in the first quarter after plunging 15 percent a quarter earlier. The stagnation suggest that venture capitalist aren’t the excited to invest in this market.
  • California startups aren’t as exciting Funding has fallen by 1.5 percent. It’s down almost half from the $12.2 billion raised in the September quarter. Although these numbers don’t indicate trouble, it does confirm the latest data that suggest that the tech economy is slowing down.

Article via CNET, 13 April 2016

Photo Startup by Dennis Skley [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Facebook hires blind engineer to improve tech

Matt King joined Facebook in June as the company’s first blind engineer. His mission is to improve Facebook for the visually impaired. With Billions of daily users, Facebook is one of the most visited sites on the web. Yet, much of it’s content is driven by visuals and images that software isn’t designed to translate.

King’s first big project at Facebook is to improve this experience for the visually impaired. His software gives broad descriptions of what may be in the photos shared on a users feed. It is the first step in looping a user in on what is on their timeline beyond the artificial intelligence that dictates the words on the screen. This software was officially released by Facebook on Tuesday. At a demo for the new software, the artificial intelligence describes a friend’s photo in the timeline as, “may contain sky, tree and outdoor.” A second photo from another Facebook contact is said to include “pizza.” The references fill a void that was not being addressed. Before this software, a visually impaired user would not have any information about the photo.

Matt King didn’t come into the world completely blind. He was born with  a condition called retinitis pigmentosa, which destroys the retina. This made him legally blind at birth, but still able to see well enough to do schoolwork and ride his bike. But by the time he graduated Notre Dame with and electrical engineering degree, he was totally blind. He joined IBM in 1998, met the accessibility team which worked on making computing more accessible to this with disabilities, and ended up working with them for nearly two decades.

IBM’s accessibility department was created in 1985, well before most of Silicon Valley was thinking about the issue, partly in response to an IBM researcher who had gone blind.“The sense that was happening was that every person who was blind on the planet was losing access to the computer. There was no solution. You couldn’t write an email. You couldn’t go to work. You couldn’t go to school,” says Schwerdtfeger, an early member of the accessibility team who later worked closely with King.

“There were other blind people and several of them provided good input from the standpoint of a user, but what Matt brought to the table was an understanding of the technology underneath,” says one current IBM staffer. Looking for a chance to make more of an impact, Matt King left IBM and joined Facebook. The decision was somewhat personal for him, as King remembers the disappointment in creating his own Facebook page, and not know what was in the pictures. “Here’s one more thing, just like driving a car. Here’s another barrier for people who are blind,” said King. Now he is in a position to change that, and improve the platform for all its users. Kings technology will help the visually impaired, as well as those in situations where they cannot easily see their screens, such as when driving.

“The fact that you have somebody who has worked on accessibility who actually has the disability, is in a leadership position at probably the most pervasive application on the planet and is willing to put themselves out there like that,” Schwerdtfeger says, “that’s a big deal.”

Article via Mashable, 5 April 2016

Photo: First Ever Braille Library in Paradise, Mauritius by Exchanges Photos