The Aspiring Nerd — Issue #9

Thank the NSA for the WannaCrypt ransomware outbreak, see how Google wants a ‘AI-First’ world and unfortunately the FCC are still douchebags!

Around the web

😡 One Step Closer to a Closed Internet

Breaking: it’s the end of internet as we know it…

Today, the FCC voted on Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to repeal and replace net neutrality protections enacted in 2015. The verdict: to move forward with Pai’s proposal

💡 Everything you need to know about the WannaCry / WannaCrypt ransomware

Good summary of the whole WannaCry incident (or how the NSA exploits leaked a couple of weeks ago brought several major networks down worldwide). If you want, get into the deep technical details here. You might also be interested in this: Massive cryptocurrency botnet used leaked NSA exploits weeks before WCry and how it all got kinda fixed by accident.

Since the release of the ETERNALBLUE exploit by ‘The Shadow Brokers’ last month security researchers have been watching for a mass attack on global networks. This came on Friday 12th May when it was bundled with ransomware called WanaCrypt0r and let loose. Initial reports of attacks were highlighted by Telefonica in Spain but the malware quickly spread to networks in the UK where the National Health Service (NHS) was impacted, followed by many other networks across the world.

🚀 Google, Not the Government, Is Building the Future

Nothing really new here but there definitely is a gap between governments and private corporations when it comes to cutting-edge technologies. This raises the question of who will own the future.

Technology giants, not the government, are building the artificially intelligent future. And unless the government vastly increases how much it spends on research into such technologies, it is the corporations that will decide how to deploy them.


🎧 “MP3 is dead” missed the real, much better story —

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits — the German agency that invented the mp3 format and licenses it — has officially terminated its licensing program. Some say it’s the end of MP3, Marco Arment doesn’t agree.

Very few people got it right. The others missed what happened last month: If the longest-running patent mentioned in the aforementioned references is taken as a measure, then the MP3 technology became patent-free in the United States on 16 April 2017 when U.S. Patent 6,009,399, held by and administered by Technicolor, expired.

📱 Collecting huge amounts of data with WhatsApp

WhatsApp opened a door for misuse of their service when they started WhatsApp web, see how it works.

Creating a database of phone numbers, profile pictures and status information of almost all users of WhatsApp turns out to be very easy . The user doesn’t even have to be added to your contacts. This should raise at least some privacy concerns and hopefully a lot more.

📦 Spotting a million dollars in your AWS account

If you’ve ever worked with AWS you know it can be a pain (and a struggle) to control (or even track down) your costs. Here is how to do it. You might also be interested in Segment’s article on how to save big money on your AWS bill.

You can easily split your spend by AWS service per month and call it a day. Ten thousand dollars of EC2, one thousand to S3, five hundred dollars to network traffic, etc. But what’s still missing is a synthesis of which products and engineering teams are dominating your costs.

👩🏼‍🏫 How we taught dozens of refugees to code, then helped them get developer jobs

Brilliant, inspiring and heartwarming initiative!

The opportunity we saw was the following: why not teach refugees web development while they are waiting in a camp? That way they would possess in-demand skills once they receive their asylum, and they can turn around and use those skills to find work.

Web development / Web design

⛵️ How Etsy Ships Apps

Fascinating to see how it’s done at Etsy!

A group of engineers (which we call a push train) and a designated driver all shepherd their changes to a staging environment, and then to production. At each checkpoint along that journey, the members of the push train are responsible for testing their changes, sharing that they’re ready to ship, and making sure nothing broke. Everyone in that train must work together for the safe completion of their deployment. And this happens very frequently: up to 50 times a day.

⛓ Web Developer Security Checklist

We’re (almost) all guilty of considering security as a side-project and it’s very very scary!

If you have drunk the MVP cool-aid and believe that you can create a product in one month that is both valuable and secure — think twice before you launch your “proto-product”. After you review the checklist below, acknowledge that you are skipping many of these critical security issues. At the very minimum, be honest with your potential users and let them know that you don’t have a complete product yet and are offering a prototype without full security.

🛒 How to design a habit-forming shopping experience

How to trigger that buying behavior!

Designing for e-commerce is an unforgiving task. Consumers (…) are inherently price-conscious. From mobile phone accessories to televisions, the cheapest listing wins. (…) how do you create loyal customers? How do you build a shopping experience that would help curb bargain-chasing, convenience-focused behavior?

🔨 After building my first React Native app, I’m now convinced it’s the future.

Hands-on example of building a React Native app.

A common reservation among developers is that they don’t want to invest the time to learn a new technology if there’s a strong chance it will become obsolete in the near future. Even from my relatively minimal experience with React Native, I’ve found it to be an enormously powerful tool. I am confident it will be used in the years to come.

📈 Design Better Data Tables

Data is useless without the ability to visualize and act on it. The success of future industries will couple advanced data collection with a better user experience, and the data table comprises much of this user experience. Good data tables allow users to scan, analyze, compare, filter, sort, and manipulate information to derive insights and commit actions.

Bits and pieces

Take a look at Apple’s New Campus. If you have time (and a huge coffee), go read Physiognomy’s New Clothes about the risks of training on biased data and the scientific racism that appears with it.

Interesting interview with Ross Anderson (security engineering prof. at Cambridge University) on the digital revolution, cybersecurity, hacking, crime, network effects and game theory. See how new digital tools mean that hackers don’t even need to have any skills to wage cyberattacks anymore.

Continue with how the new Persirai botnet uses exploit to infect 120,000+ connected cameras. And finish with the necessary preparation for the cyberattack that will knock out U.S. power grids. Oh yes, also, plenty of pleasure to come if the U.S. actually expands the airline laptop ban to Europe.