Items of Interest

Alias Voice Assistant Parasite

Bjørn Karmann and Tore Knudsen have created Alias, a parasite smart device that can be used to stop your voice assistant device from spying on you. The DIY device deafens the assistant's microphone with white noise, and only stops when alias hears you speak the device's wake word. Alias then cuts the white noise and relays a recording of the wake word to the assistant, allowing it to work as intended. Details on how to build the alias device are available on Instructables.

No Hard Border?

It would appear that some people, particularly in the vicinity of Westminster and Dundela Avenue in Belfast, have forgotten about the 30 years of violence perpetrated at the hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland during the troubles.

Immediate Fossil Fuel Phaseout Needed

A study from the University of Leeds says that there is a 66% chance of keeping temperature increase below a 1.5 degree increase if a fossil fuel phaseout begins immediately. The research assumes a lifespan for powerplants of 40 years, cars 15 years and planes 26 years. It also assumes a rapid end to beef and dairy consumption. If the phaseout doesn't being until 2030, the chances reduce to 33%.

Oumuamua

The first object in history to pass through the solar system and to be identified as originating outside the solar system was discovered in October 2017 by Canadian astronomer Robert Weryk in Hawaii. The object was named Oumuamua, which in Hawaiian means first distant messenger.

Kirkos Speaking of Music

Last week I had the pleasure of photographing another amazing Kirkos event, Speaking of Music. The night of contemporary music and art involved a paint filled piano, newspaper stories played through instruments, whistling, space, a fish tank and a microphone massaged with Nivea, to mention but a few of the fantastic pieces performed in Riam Dublin on the night. You can check out the photos I took of the event here.

Book Review: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century - Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Noah Harari's third book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is an interesting look at 21 topics where we humans can improve. The lessons are grouped into 5 categories; The Technology Challenge, The Political Challenge, Despair and Hope, Truth, and Resilience. The subject matter for the first part of the book is tough reading. Harari takes a cold and calculating look at the societal organisations and structures that humans have created, from religion all the way up to modern day terrorism, before looking at how the species can be resilient in the face of these challenges.

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