The Aspiring Nerd — Issue #5

Phishing seems more inevitable than ever, AI and Deep Learning get more and more accessible and USAFacts gives the power back to the people.

Around the web

💯 Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove

A little look at the story behind the very interesting USAFacts.

In an age of fake news and questions about how politicians and others manipulate data to fit their biases, Mr. Ballmer’s project may serve as a powerful antidote. (…) a person could look up just about anything: How much revenue do airports take in and spend? What percentage of overall tax revenue is paid by corporations? At the very least, it could settle a lot of bets made during public policy debates at the dinner table.

🔐 PGP public key and self-service postal kiosk expose online drug dealers

If you plan on selling heroin and cocaine on AlphaBay maybe you should generate a unique PGP key instead of using yours?

Initial analysis of DARKAPOLLO and AREA51’s public PGP key indicated that both keys were registered to the same email address: A social-media search for the phrases Adashc3d31 and Adashc3d resulted in the discovery of a Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook account belonging to someone identified as “Ahmed Farooq” or “Ch. Ahmed Farooq”

🎣 Sneaky Exploit Allows Phishing Attacks From Sites That Look Secure

It gets harder and harder to protect yourself against phishing. Learn more about homograph attacks:

his particular vulnerability takes advantage of the fact that many domain names don’t use the Latin alphabet (…) When English-based browsers run into those URLs, they use an encoder called Punycode to render each character from a standardized library of character codes maintained by Unicode, the standards body for text online. This exploit takes advantage of that conversion process; phishers can appear to spell out a familiar domain name using a different URL and web server. (…) you can check the validity of sites by copying and pasting the URLs into a text editor. A spoofed URL only appears familiar, and actually uses an address beginning “www.xn–” that you can see outside the browser bar.

🍽 How Google eats a business whole

Google’s Featured Snippets can (and will) really damage small businesses that depend on search traffic. This is the sad tale of vs. Google.

🕸 Why Facebook Keeps Beating Every Rival: It’s the Network, of Course

One of the points that most people usually overlook:

Mr. Zuckerberg realized early on that the most important thing in his business was not necessarily creating the best new features. It doesn’t matter who invents digital mustaches. What matters is owning the biggest and most engaged network. And because he has the network, he always wins.

👮🏻 The Latest Dump of Alleged NSA Tools Is ‘The Worst Thing Since Snowden’

When the people who are supposed to protect you push you in the arms of the enemy. Apparently Microsoft has released a patch, so if you are using Windows you might want to update.

On Friday, the group known as The Shadow Brokers dropped the hacking equivalent of a bomb, or perhaps several bombs, giving hackers all over the world the tools to easily break into millions of Windows computers.

🇨🇦 Canada is North America’s up-and-coming startup center

Always nice to read about the great projects and compagnies born here.

Canada also boasts incredible support for entrepreneurs, both homegrown and international. Many household names, such as Slack, Hootsuite and Shopify — which may be mistakenly considered as U.S. products — hail from north of the border. This proves Canada is capable of delivering on startup success.


🤖 How to Make Scavenger Hunts More Fun with Artificial Intelligence

When scavenger hunts meet Alexa, AWS Rekognition and Polly. Fascinating DIY project!

I’ve written an app for Amazon’s Alexa platform that modernizes scavenger hunts. It leverages the latest available technology — including artificial intelligence tools like image and voice recognition.

💥 Our Machines Now Have Knowledge We’ll Never Understand

Lengthy but fascinating piece about letting Go.

We are increasingly relying on machines that derive conclusions from models that they themselves have created, models that are often beyond human comprehension, models that “think” about the world differently than we do. But this comes with a price. This infusion of alien intelligence is bringing into question the assumptions embedded in our long Western tradition. We thought knowledge was about finding the order hidden in the chaos. We thought it was about simplifying the world. It looks like we were wrong. Knowing the world may require giving up on understanding it.

📚 Dive into Deep Learning with 10 free online courses

It’s all in the title.

☕️ Caffe2 Brings Cross Platform Machine Learning Tools

Curious to try to train and deploy models for the Raspberry Pi!

Training and deploying AI models is often associated with massive data centers or super computers, with good reason. The ability to continually process, create, and improve models from all kinds of information: images, video, text, and voice, at massive scale, is no small computing feat. Deploying these models on mobile devices so they’re fast and lightweight can be equally daunting. Overcoming these challenges requires a robust, flexible, and portable deep learning framework.

Web development / Web design

🐟 How We Built r/Place

Remember Reddit’s crazy April Fools’? A (technical) look behind the scenes!

⌨️ Let’s Build a Web App with Vue, Chart.js and an API

Easy little project to get started with Vue.js and Chart.js.

In this quick how to, we cover how to interact with the npm 💘 API to get download statistics of a package and generate a chart from this data with Chart.js

💻 Exploring Netlify CMS: React & Git-based Content Management

Your weekly dose of JAMstack.

📝 Putting comments in code: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“Good code is self-documenting.” or is it?

⏱ Improving Startup Time

If you use Atom, you’ll notice how quick it got compared to older versions. This is how they did it.