Open Source has some big questions ahead

Open Source has some big questions ahead

There’s no doubt that open source software makes up the majority of the world’s internet services. However, some recent, and not so recent problems are starting to shine the light on some of the problems facing the open source communities.

  1. Malicious maintainers and contributors – xz compression backdoor that went for an amazingly long time before it was detected. The backdoor was added by a contributor Jia Tan who had been making contributions for 2 years. The level of obfuscation and sophistication was unprecedented. It was only discovered by a very astute senior Microsoft engineer.
  2. Hacking of open source maintainers/distro servers – Kernel.org was infected and came to light in 2011, when kernel maintainers revealed that 448 accounts had been compromised after attackers gained root system access to servers connected to the domain. There’s no evidence source was changed, but it just as easily could have.
  3. Open source burnout – The burnout levels among Rust developers spawned an interesting article that really speaks to general burnout problems. Honestly, this is just one more example of why ‘passion’ jobs are bad for you and what you really want is a job you work 8-5 and then unplug from completely.

That’s by no means the entire list. Open source is now the backbone of our modern computer infrastructure – and is under attacks from more threats than it has ever faced. From ransomware hacker groups, for-profit botnets, all the way to the increasing occurrences of state-sponsored hackers/infiltrators. The attacks and manipulations can now be combined with AI actors and code to create nearly limitless attack vectors and attackers.

Combine this with unpaid contributors that need to police themselves and this represents some serious threats.

The New Stack has a great article describing the new challenges facing open source development.

Global CloudStrike Microsoft Outage

Global CloudStrike Microsoft Outage

Here’s a 12 hour time lapse of American, Delta, and United during the outage. Possibly the biggest IT outage in human history. Definitely worse than Y2K ever was.

It’s a reminder that this all happened by accident from people trying to prevent issues. Shows you how fragile modern infrastructure really is.

Recompiling N64 games

Recompiling N64 games

Wiseguy is responsible for the release of both N64Recomp and Zelda64Recomp, a project that ports The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask to PC with graphical and QoL improvements like ray-tracing, uncapped FPS, and proper ultrawide display support.

While previous decompilation efforts took years, N64 recompile can do this automatically – in just a few minutes. Even more amazing is that it should work on just about any N64 game.

It’s pretty incredible work.

Articles:

AI has become skilled at deceiving people

AI has become skilled at deceiving people

AI systems have already demonstrated the ability to bluff in a game of Texas hold ’em poker against professional human poker players, to fake attacks during the strategy game Starcraft II in order to defeat opponents, and to misrepresent their preferences in order to gain the upper hand in economic negotiations.

The most striking example of AI deception the researchers uncovered was in their analysis of Meta’s CICERO, an AI system designed to play the game Diplomacy – a world-conquest game that involves building alliances. CICERO placed in the top 10% of human players who had played more than one game; but the methods it used were the most interesting.

Even though Meta claims it trained CICERO to be “largely honest and helpful” and to “never intentionally backstab” its human allies while playing the game, the data the company published along with its Science paper revealed that CICERO used multiple kinds of deception such as premeditated deception, betrayal, and outright falsehood (faking being on the phone with its girlfriend).

Articles

Now Oregon software has been shrinking since 2022, chips and entrepreneurs since 2023

Now Oregon software has been shrinking since 2022, chips and entrepreneurs since 2023

Not content to see 3 years of decreasing population, Oregon is now seeing its innovation hubs of software and chip design dry up and move away.

Software employment statewide is down 7.4% from its peak in the summer of 2022. The software cutbacks may mirror what’s happening in Oregon’s chip industry, which boomed during the pandemic and then lost jobs last year.

Venture capital investment in Oregon startups fell sharply last year — to its lowest level since 2017. Relatively few entrepreneurs are starting tech companies in Oregon and those that are launching don’t seem to be attracting much attention. The Portland Incubator Experiment, which was at the center of Oregon’s software boom a decade ago, shut down its tech component last summer as tech entrepreneurship waned.

The article noted that Multnomah County now has one of the highest personal income tax rates that is likely making Portland less attractive for ambitious entrepreneurs.

Links:

David Attenborough Narrating your life – or your cat’s adventures

David Attenborough Narrating your life – or your cat’s adventures


Replicate built a GPT-4 powered vision + ElevenLabs python script so you can star in your own Planet Earth episode narrated by David Attenborough. (Code: https://github.com/cbh123/narrator)

AI Raspberry Pi Cat Detection constantly monitors your feline friend and immediately sends you an email the moment it makes mischief. You can also configure the AI narrator to keep you posted on your cat’s activities

Wacca and Japanese Arcade Rhythm Games

Wacca and Japanese Arcade Rhythm Games

While US arcades haven’t seen a lot of growth or interesting development, Japan has kept their arcade experiences fresh and expanding in all kinds of creative ways.

Wacca is a Japanese rhythm arcade system developed by Marvelous along with hardcore techno label HARDCORE TANO*C. What makes it interesting is it’s focus on techno music and features a unique 360 multicolored touchscreen interface. The game’s circular display screen is enveloped by a circular touch panel on the outside. The player taps on the corresponding section of the touch panel as music notes approach the border of the circular screen. In addition to touch notes, the game also features hold notes, notes that slide left and right, and notes that involve flicking forwards and backwards on the touch pad.

Circular interfaces aren’t new. When I was in Japan before Covid, Sega’s game maimai was just becoming popular and really proved the interface had some serious possibilities. While first joking about the fact it looked like a front-loanding washing machine, it became a real hit.

An interesting part of Japanese arcade games is the increasing social and internet connectivity component. Unlike old stand-alone arcades, players can use players cards or a computer or smartphone to connect with maimai DX NET to access their scores and achievements, customize game settings, register with and compare friends’/rivals’ accomplishments/scores as well as compete in national rankings. Before maimai DX was released, it was possible to link a niconico account to upload a recording of the play from the camera built into the arcade machine. As time has gone on, there are now collaborations between different rhythm games and accounts.

This online and connected social aspect of the game along with the fun gameplay has really helped it become popular. As time went on, over 20 updates to the game and songs were released as well as a second generation of cabinets that were also constantly updated.

The regular updates (almost like seasons) keeps the play fresh and fun. As updates come out, players rank up and unlock new songs and new play mechanics. As players become advanced, they discover interesting hidden techniques and methods. Certain artists use particular touch motifs/techniques to add their own signature to their songs (swipes, taps, etc). It’s a real rabbit hole you can get into.

Wacca continued this trend of social connected play with regular updates when it was introduced in 2018. It looks like they have shut down Wacca and the online servers are now gone, but there is still a very active social community and now a fan project to bring it to VR.

It even made an appearance at GDQ 2024

But I go to church every Sunday

But I go to church every Sunday

Thus says the LORD:
They made kings in Israel, but not by my authority;
they established princes, but without my approval.
With their silver and gold they made
idols for themselves, to their own destruction.
Cast away your calf, O Samaria!
my wrath is kindled against them;

When Ephraim made many altars to expiate sin,
his altars became occasions of sin.
Though I write for him my many ordinances,
they are considered as a stranger’s.
Though they offer sacrifice,
immolate flesh and eat it,
the LORD is not pleased with them.
He shall still remember their guilt
and punish their sins;
they shall return to Egypt.

Hos 8:4, 11-13

Hosea here is calling out how Israel has strayed. The people started picking leaders without consulting or asking God who should lead them. They started making gods for themselves from gold and silver. God calls them out for paying lip service to how they are called to act. Worst of all, God says that despite their sacrifices, they are about to be wiped out and those offerings are not going to save them.

This lesson about God and being a follower of Him is just as relevant today – and the warning just as stern.

How often do we pick the kings and princes in our life? Who are we spending the most time each day listening too? Do we let influencers, tik tok clips, politicians, social media, society, movie and music stars, the internet and forums, or even our own egos run the show? Do we spend any time to ask God what we should do and follow him instead of what society tells us to pursue? Who are we paying attention to as king of our life?

What about our gods of gold and silver? What worldly wealth do we worship? A fancy house in the right place? Travel and vacations? Cars/boats? Clothes and shoes? Our investment portfolio? What possessions could we not get rid of? Is our career the master of our life – or is our work at the service of others and God? Do we pray about our career and ask God where he’d like us to work? Are we more interested in promotions and making money so we can buy the house/car/boat/toys/travel/lifestyle we want instead of what God tells us about the work of our days? Do we put our faith in God before our own wishes?

Do we pay attention to any of the teachings of God – or are they just a ‘nice suggestion’ from a stranger? Do we genuinely seek His will in our life every day? Are we a public example on how to live out Christian joy/purity in the world? Do we obey the commandments? Do we follow the instruction of the Church regarding marriage, living together when unwed, and pre-marital sex? Do we seek forgiveness and forgive our neighbors – even when they hurt us? Do we gossip and slander others? Do we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, aid the orphan, widow, and foreigner? Offer a kind word and encouragement to those struggling?

Yet it’s the admonition their sins remain after their sacrifices that is most chilling of all to me.

God is telling us that just going to mass for an hour on Sunday is not enough. We can’t just rely on the offering of Christ for us – we must be transformed into Christ for the world. We cannot just be onlookers at the feet of the cross and then go back to our shops and homes to live like we did before we came in. We must become the disciples who’s lives are transformed and sent forth – never to be the same.

If your life is not changing and you are not becoming more full of Christ and less of yourself it’s time to spend some time in prayer. What voices and leaders are ruling us besides God? What gods of gold and silver we are getting in the way of walking hour by hour with God? Do we have habitual or unrepentant sin in our life dulling our senses? Because if we do not convert, just going to mass on Sunday is not going to save us.