The Law of Digital Sexual Assault

In short, there really isn’t a clear framework for punishing remote sexual assault. But, this is an issue that will become more real over time.

We are slowly approaching a world in which people can be intimate without being physically close to one another. The internet allows us to have sex with people situated on the opposite side of the world. To bridge that distance, we use web-connected devices like masturbation sleeves and vibrators.

What would the legal implications be if, say, skilled and malicious hackers were able to hijack one of these devices? On one hand, they will have gained control of an object that is used to penetrate, and therefore are potentially responsible for it. On the other, the device’s owner is likely to have overall control of the hardware and, we assume, consents to its use.

For now, getting an internet-connected sex toy is a bit risky, and not in the sexy kind of way.

Read the rest over at Engadget

Drone Delivery

I like drones.

They are great for making beautiful video. Unfortunately, they are also great for filming naked people in their backyards.

That fear is probably why they get shot down.

Drone racing is also a thing now. I don’t say that flippantly. I’d love to go watch one.

Companies like Amazon also think that drones should deliver our packages. I don’t like that idea–I am 90% sure that packages will fall from the sky and land on my head and kill me. There is no way around it. The drone will hit a bird, get hit by a bullet (or baseball, or frisbee, or squirrel). They will fall, either from failure or sabotage.

And now, Chinese retailer JD.com is working on a drone that can carry up to 2000 lbs. That takes things from death by head injury to death by Looney Tunes-style squishing. No thanks.

via Recode

Newsletter: You need the Internet

Stop whatever you are doing. Stop reading this newsletter. Go watch the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’ll wait here.

Ok, now that you are back, I want you to think about what just happened. I mean, yeah, the trailer was cool and you are pumped for the next Star Wars movie. But how did that whole process occur? You got a link to my newsletter, or an email if you are a loyal subscriber. You clicked on a link in the newsletter to take you to YouTube. You watched the video. You came back. What else do you do on the Internet besides read about science and sci-fi? How much of your knowledge comes from the Internet? How much of your current job depends on the Internet? How much of your job hunting? How much could you get done without using the Internet on a regular basis? Alright, with that thought in mind, click on this link and read about the Congressman who recently said that, “Nobody has to use the Internet.” This was in response to a town hall about those ISP privacy rules that were recently killed. I will reiterate this every time: This does not have to be a partisan issue. But, it is an issue, and no matter what side of the aisle you align with, you should care. And, you should mock this guy for being an out-of-touch clown.

Let’s chat a little more about policy before we move on to our regularly schedule space news. I like gadgets. I like having computers in all of my products. Sometimes I get nervous that they will rise up and kill me. But, on the whole, I believe that technology is a good thing. It is more legally tricky than some people realize, though. One of the big ongoing fights is the “right to repair” our gadgets. If John Deere has its way, farmers won’t be allowed to get their tractors repaired by third-party repair shops (or to do it themselves). Why? Because SAFETY! HACKERS! THE CYBER!!! But really it is about the extra money they can make by being the exclusive repair person for your gear. The same goes for Apple (and many other gadget makers). They want you to only be able to repair your products by using their people. Fortunately, a number of states are beginning to consider legislation that actually recognizes a right to repair. “But John Deere and Apple do it best,” you say. Perhaps, but that still doesn’t mean that this should be their only option.

Blah, blah, blah. On to the space already.

Last week, I said that a group of astronomers were planning on taking a picture of a black hole. Last week, the earth-sized shutter was finally snapped. Don’t expect to see a picture anytime soon, though–each of the 8 participating observatories have about 500 terabytes of data to work through. Hopefully, in 2018, when the film is finally developed, we won’t be looking at images of an interdimensional hellscape looking back at us. While you wait, though, take a look at all of these images that aren’t of black holes.

Closer to home, NASA thinks that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, could host alien life. That doesn’t mean that there is alien life on the moon, just that the conditions are right. While Mars is interesting because it speaks to our desire to colonize and live the sci-fi dream, I am much more interested in sending better and better probes to Enceladus, Titan, and one of Jupiter’s moons Europa. Mars colonies are sexy. Alien bacteria on crazy moons are sexier.

In case you haven’t thought about Jupiter in a while, it is still gorgeous. And, we found another spot recently. I’ve already made a 2010 joke in this newsletter. Insert your own this time.

Extra Bits

Disney filed a patent for robots that can hug you. Presumably, they will file the patent for the ability to hug you to death later.

Someone hacked Dallas’s emergency sirens. This is a little funny, but also a scary remind of the fragility of our infrastructure.

Burger King trolled Google Home (and Google Assistant) users.

Did you get the Nintendo Classic Mini yet? No? Well, you never will.

Your shoelace is untied…by science!

Things You Should Know This Week (05.21.16)

Movies

A second trailer for Star Trek Beyond has been released. While I kind of enjoyed the first Beastie Boys fueled trailer, it didn’t feel too Star Trek to me. This latest one is more promising.

We got a new trailer for the Ghostbusters reboot this week. I am excited. I also find it annoying that there are dudebros out there that don’t like the idea of an all-ladies Ghostbusting team. Hopefully the movie is good and shuts them all up. Though, even if it is, some will still complain.

Tech

Google I/O happened this week. For those who aren’t developers or gadget fans, this is their annual developers conference where they preview the upcoming version of Android and other upcoming hardware and software products. Here are the products I am most looking forward to. (all links will be to The Verge’s coverage)

Android Apps on Chromebooks
I am a huge proponent of the Chromebook for home use. The average computer user–at least the ones that I know–spends most, if not all, of their time on the web. Do you desperately need to do some word processing or spreadsheeting? Fine, use Google Docs or Office 365. Are you heavy into music production or other multimedia editing? Ok, maybe you need a Mac or Windows-based computer.

That said, it would be nice to have access to some of the apps that I commonly use on my phone, especially ones that run offline. Integrating Android apps into Chromebooks will fill that, admittedly, tiny void and make the proposition of a Chromebook that much more compelling.

Google Daydream
Google Cardboard–a simple cardboard box with lenses that you drop your phone into for VR content–has been available for some time now. Daydream is a much fuller implementation of virtual reality using your phone. The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require expensive computer hardware setups. The Samsung Gear VR requires a Samsung phone. Daydream will also require phones with certain specs, but you will be able to use a wider variety of them, resulting in a much lower barrier to entry. Implemented correctly, this will be the product that pushes VR into the mainstream.

Android Wear 2.0
I dream of the ultimate wearable. Notifications at a glance are key, and already well implemented in the couple smartwatches that I own. The Pebble Time is my current favorite and I really can’t recommend it enough. But, there is a next step that I am waiting for–I want a smartwatch that I can untether from my phone for short periods of time. There are some times where I don’t want to have a giant phone bulging in my pocket, or where I don’t want the temptation of distraction. In those instances, I want to be able to leave my phone at home, but still send and receive quick messages, grab an uber, or even get some quick directions. I wouldn’t be disconnecting–because come on, that is increasingly unreasonable to expect–I would be limiting the amount of connectivity, distraction, and pocket bulge. Android 2.0 seems like the promise of this dream.

Other announcements

  • I am not too interested in Google’s new video and text messaging apps. Not that they don’t look good, but I don’t see a compelling reason to switch over yet.
  • Google Home is the competitor to Amazon’s Echo. I like my Echo. Again, I don’t have a good reason to switch.
  • More AI is going to be integrated into Google’s products. This is cool and scary and warrants a separate post in the future.

Cybersecurity

If you haven’t already done so, please go change your LinkedIn password.

Ending on a Happy Note

Mars is beautiful.

Things You Should Know This Week (05.15.16)

Music

Radiohead has a new album, A Moon Shaped Pool. If you are, or have ever been, a Radiohead fan, you need to check it out. I’ll make your life easier and embed the video for Burn the Witch below.

Science

NASA shared footage of mercury passing in front of the sun. A reminder of how beautiful our solar system can be.

Privacy

In the coming weeks, I am going to write a blog post on why you should care about online privacy. But, for those of you who want a quick and simple list, head over to the Center for Democracy and Technology for some tips on how to protect yourself.

Law

Prince should be remembered for being a fantastic musician and a prolific songwriter. He should not, however, be remembered for his terrible views on the law. Minnesota’s legislature has put together the Personal Rights In Names Can Endure (PRINCE) Act, which would create a perpetual (i.e., lasts beyond death) right of publicity. It is bad enough copyright protection gets extended past death (see last week’s post). This is just one more law that will waste court resources to protect the parties that don’t actually need protection (the estates of dead famous people).

The Director of the FBI, Jim Comey, continued his never-ending campaign against encryption. He also said that even though he has no proof, he thinks that the police are scared of being videotaped which has led to an increase in violent crime. Well, Jim, you know what you call something that you believe, is provable, but can’t prove? Hmmm.

The Philadelphia police have been driving around a vehicle equipped with license plate readers disguised as a Google Street View truck. Another of the many examples of why you should be concerned about your privacy, even as a law-abiding citizen.

Politics

An anonymous former Facebook contractor claims that his colleagues engaged in the suppression of conservative stories in the trending topics sidebar (that thing you never look at). Lots of commentary on the issue. Here are a few links:

Ending on a Happy Note

A dog ran away from home to go to doggie daycare. I hate linking to CNN, but this is too damn cute.

Things You Should Know This Week (05.07.16)

Movies

I saw Captain America: Civil War. Twice. I loved it. If you like movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will too. Here’s a review on io9.

In a couple years there is going to be a young Han Solo movie. Harrison Ford is too old to play him, but Alden Ehrenreich isn’t.

Music

DJ Shadow has a new album coming out in June. It’s his first since 2011. This week, a video for The Mountain Will Fall was released and it is beautiful.

Law

WhatsApp was shut down for 3 days in Brazil. Why? Well, law enforcement wants access to messages. WhatsApp employs end-to-end encryption, meaning that they can’t get at the messages even if they wanted. So, a court got mad and told the 5 Brazilian wireless carriers to shut them down for a few days.

Copyright and Trademark law can be incredibly obnoxious in the hands of the wrong dead musician’s estate. Frank Zappa’s family highlights this as they get into a dispute with one of their own, Dweezil Zappa, over the use of the band name, Zappa Plays Zappa.

Ending on a Happy Note

The 100% Human Candidate will not be the Republican Presidential Nominee. He will, however, be a source of entertainment for days to come…and then hopefully fade into obscurity.

Ted Cruz Elbows Wife

Things You Should Know This Week (04.30.2016)

Movies

The final trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse was released. I am a sucker for a good piece of music in a trailer. In this case, they used Hey Man, Nice Shot, which isn’t the greatest song ever, but works well in the trailer. In terms of music setting the tone of a trailer, one of my favorite examples is the trailer for X2 which used Mars, Bringer of War by Gustav Holst.

Science and Health

Over the past couple years, I have gotten really into running. I used to only go a mile or two, never loving the experience. Then I discovered that crossing three miles is where the magic happens. All of the things that have been bugging me–and which I ruminate on those first two miles–just fade into the background. I can look at my problems and worries more objectively. And, I feel great. Well, there is science that explains why this may happen. Maybe it will inspire you to run too.

On top of that, there is evidence that you can fight depression by combining meditation with running.

Productivity

I procrastinate. You probably do too. I read this article last night and realized how much of a procrastinator’s mindset I truly have. Time to forgive myself and get working on the tips for overcoming the problem.

Gadgets

Dropbox is going to let you look at the synced files on your computer without taking up space on your hard drive. It’s called Project Infinite, and for those of us who have small SSDs, this is a welcome feature.

I have an obsession with bags. I love backpacks, messenger bags, man bags (stop gender shaming me), and other accessories to hold my stuff. The latest product that I lust after is North Face’s Access Pack. It’s not cheap, but it sure is gorgeous and useful looking. Oh, and my birthday is coming up, so pool your money together and buy me one.

Ending on a Happy Note

Windows 10 will ruin your weather report if you don’t install it.

Things You Should Know This Week (04.22.2016)

Law
The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in the Google Books case. For a number of years now, Google has been scanning millions of books and making them searchable (but not freely available). The Authors’ Guild sued them for copyright infringement. Google won the case in the 2nd Circuit using the defense of fair use and now that ruling will stand.

Surprising no one, the FBI wasn’t able to get any useful information off of the phone of the San Bernardino shooter’s phone.

Gadgets
More augmented reality is on the way. This time from a company called Magic Leap. Where Microsoft’s Hololens seems pretty cool, Magic Leap sounds revolutionary. As I’ve said in the past, I am more interested our world with AR than VR.

Music
Prince died this week. We all know that he made lots of great music, but not everyone realizes that he was also a ridiculous guitar player. Seriously, go search around for some Prince live performances, You might have trouble finding them, though, because he was super protective of his copyrights and hated the Internet.

TV
Doctor Who has a new companion. I really wanted to love his last companion, Clara, but she just wasn’t written that well. Hopefully they will fix that with Bill.

Ending on a Happy Note
Harriet Tubman is the new face of the $20!