Big Tech &
SpaceX launches Starship “hopper” on dramatic test flight (2 minute read)
SpaceX's Starship 'hopper' is a sub-scale version of the Starship's propulsion system. It uses the Raptor engine, which burns cryogenic methane with liquid oxygen. The hopper completed a one-minute flight at a test facility in Texas, rising up to its FAA-approved 492-foot altitude before moving sideways and descending on a nearby landing pad. The new two-stage booster-Starship system will eventually replace the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets as well as the Cargo and Crew Dragon capsules. It consists of a Super Heavy Rocket and a winged Starship. Starship is designed to deliver satellites into space at a lower cost than the current Falcon vehicles. Elon Musk's goal is to launch a cargo mission to Mars in 2022 and a crewed flight as early as 2024. There is a video showing the hopper’s test launch.
Tesla launches car insurance offering in California (2 minute read)
Tesla has launched a car insurance offering which provides Tesla owners with up to 30 percent lower rates. It will start rolling out to US states in the next few months, beginning with California. Factors such as the company's vehicle safety features, including Autopilot, make lower-priced insurance possible. Tesla doesn't use GPS or camera footage when pricing insurance, but some of the data collected from the vehicles is used when calculating insurance prices. Existing customers will be able to purchase an insurance policy in as little as one minute on Tesla's website.
Telegram Pushes Ahead With Plans for ‘Gram’ Cryptocurrency (7 minute read)
Telegram will start sending out its Gram currency to investors within two months. The 200 to 300 million global users of Telegram's messaging app will soon have access to a Gram digital wallet. Regulators are concerned that cryptocurrencies could be useful for unlawful activities and have started to shut down smaller cryptocurrency projects, citing them for violations of securities law. Telegram has developed its Cryptocurrency mostly in secret. The company has always operated with a degree of disregard for the opinions of government authorities. Its messaging app is designed to make it easy to encrypt messages between phones, making it unpopular among governments. Once Gram is released, it will be a decentralized currency, meaning that it will be controlled by a network of peers and not any one central authority. There will be no currency backing Gram, and like Bitcoin, its value will be determined by the market.
Lip-reading CCTV will have people 'cupping hands over their mouths' in street, warns surveillance watchdog (3 minute read)
Technology that can read lips and recognize people via their gait, among other things, could have a large suppressive effect if they aren't regulated. People may start covering their mouths when having conversations outside, as football managers currently do while giving instructions for the fear of being exposed. Facial recognition is being increasingly used in the UK in shopping centers, museums, conference venues, and other public areas. Millions of people are having their faces unknowingly scanned and stored in databases. These technologies could be an important tool for law enforcement, but we are currently at risk of losing a free and open society due to the impact of technology.
Programming, Design & Data Science
Privilege Escalation Cheatsheet (GitHub Repo)
Vulnhub is a website that provides virtual machines for penetration testing. It gamifies the experience by making the goal to 'capture the flag' inside the system. This repository contains cheatsheets and walkthroughs for Vulnhub players to help them understand the fundamentals of Privilege Escalation with examples.
I test in prod (12 minute read)
Testing in production happens all the time, but many engineers don't admit to it. If they were honest about testing in production, then the whole experience could be a lot smoother, as safeguards and testing parameters could be put in place in case of failure. Once deployed, it is the systems that are being tested, rather than the code. Systems can have factors that cause instability that are hard to predict. Some bugs can't be found until the code has been deployed. It is important to manage risks by planning ahead for issues. Only production code represents reality, and testing in production is the only way to build high-quality programs.
American Cyber Command hamstrung Iran’s paramilitary force (3 minute read)
The Iranian military is still recovering from a US cyberattack that was launched earlier this summer. A key database used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, Iran's paramilitary forces, was wiped out. The database reportedly contained information that was used to plan attacks in the Persian Gulf. No action has been taken against oil tankers in the Gulf since the cyberattack. The US has become more active in cyberattacks in the last few years, with the head of the US Cyber Command stating that he was using a 'persistent engagement' strategy against adversaries.