Spider News Digest 11/28/2017



  • Japan detects radio signals pointing to possible North Korea missile test: source (Reuters):

TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Japan has detected radio signals suggesting North Korea may be preparing for another ballistic missile launch, although such signals are not unusual and satellite images did not show fresh activity, a Japanese government source said on Tuesday.

After firing missiles at a pace of about two or three a month since April, North Korean missile launches paused in September, after Pyongyang fired a rocket that passed over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island.

“This is not enough to determine (if a launch is likely soon),” the source told Reuters.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported late on Monday that the Japanese government was on alert after catching such radio signals, suggesting a launch could come in a few days. The report also said the signals might be related to winter military training by the North Korean military.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean government source, also reported that intelligence officials of the United States, South Korea and Japan had recently detected signs of a possible missile launch and have been on higher alert.

Asked about the media reports, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters the United States continued to watch North Korea very closely.

“This is a diplomatically led effort at this point, supported by military options,” he said.

“The Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance remains strong and capable of countering any North Korean provocations or attacks.”

Two U.S. government sources familiar with official assessments of North Korean capabilities and activities said that while they were not immediately familiar with recent intelligence suggesting that North Korea was preparing to launch a new missile test, the U.S. government would not be surprised if such a test were to take place in the very near future.

Other U.S. intelligence officials noted North Korea has previously sent deliberately misleading signs of preparations for missile and nuclear tests, in part to mask real preparations, and in part to test U.S. and allied intelligence on its activities.

  • Pope in Myanmar: Francis sets off for tricky trip (BBC): 

Pope Francis has departed the Vatican for Myanmar on the first papal visit to the country that has this year been widely accused of ethnic cleansing.

Focus will be likely be on whether he uses the term “Rohingya” to describe the country’s Muslim minority.

Myanmar officials strongly reject the term, raising concerns it could spark some potential violence if he does.

He is scheduled to meet Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the head of the country’s military.

The Pope will then visit Bangladesh, and meet a small group of Rohingya refugees there in a symbolic gesture. The 80-year-old pontiff has become known for his liberal views and willingness to denounce global injustice.

The Pope used the term “our Rohingya brothers and sisters” while denouncing the persecution then, but Myanmar’s sole Catholic cardinal has asked him to avoid using it on the trip, fearing inflaming local insensitivities could lead to violence in the Buddhist-majority nation.

Myanmar officials do not use the term as they say the Rohingya migrated illegally from Bangladesh so should not be listed as one of the country’s ethnic groups. They say the military crackdown in Rakhine is to root out violent insurgents there, but – a sentiment echoed by international critics.

The visit was organised before the crisis, when the Pope met the country’s de facto leader Ms Suu Kyi at the Vatican in May. The former Nobel Peace Prize laureate has faced .

A large proportion of the 660,000 strong Catholic minority of Myanmar are expected to see him hold mass in Yangon.

He will then become the first Catholic leader to visit Bangladesh since 1986 when he arrives on Thursday.

The new year is a perfect time to say “hello” to workplace happiness and “good-bye” to the bad habits that make you miserable and hinder your professional success. You’ll enjoy your time in the office a little more—and improve your professional reputation—if you make it your New Year’s resolution to cut down on these 11 counterproductive behaviors:
1. Excessive complaining

Enough already. Constant whining about insignificant things (“It’s horribly unfair that Department X got a casual day and we didn’t!”) doesn’t serve a purpose and keeps you in a perpetually bad mood. Plus, happy people will avoid you.
2. Gossiping

Ditto for gossiping. The next time a colleague tries to engage you in the office drama du jour, offer a one-word response, like “interesting” or “wow,” and follow it with, “I’ve got to go. See you later.” Repeat as necessary.
3. Heartlessly criticizing others

Sometimes you must criticize a colleague’s or subordinate’s performance. But have a heart when giving feedback. If possible, mention a few positives for every negative, and try to be constructive rather than cruel.
4. Beating yourself up

So you made a mistake, or your brilliant idea actually turned out to be a bad one. No one is perfect. Own up to your mistake, or take responsibility for your failure. Then move on.
5. Taking yourself too seriously

C’mon, lighten up. Admittedly, this may be tough for overworked employees in a difficult labor market. But that is precisely the reason to flash those pearly whites and crack a joke now and then (even of the “gallows humor” variety): Everyone benefits when the tension is brought down a notch, even for just a minute.
6. Stagnating

Are you content to be bored at work? Do you want your boss to consider you uninspired? Probably not. So make it a resolution to learn something new or try something different.
7. Isolating yourself

In today’s topsy-turvy job market, professional networking is more important than ever. So this year, don’t hole up in your cubicle. Get out there and meet some new folks—both inside and outside the company—who share your profession or work in your field.
8. Blending into the woodwork

Even if you’ve always had a hard time speaking up in meetings or expressing your opinion to your boss, it’s never too late to start putting in your two cents. Pick one work-related issue that is close to your heart and that you’re knowledgeable about. Contribute a few comments on this issue during a meeting—you may be surprised at how seriously people take the input of someone who speaks sparingly!
9. Blabbing unnecessarily

Stating your mind is important, but don’t just talk to hear your own voice in meetings, either. Speak up only if you’re adding something of value to the discussion.
10. Burning bridges

Don’t assume that colleagues, customers and others who cross your professional path will forgive and forget when you do them wrong. So make it one of your resolutions to stay on good terms with your professional acquaintances. Yes, it’s sometimes hard, but oh-so-worth-it in the long run.
11. Wasting time via social media

Wasting time at work is as old as work itself. But a particularly timely pet peeve of many bosses is the overuse and/or misuse of Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media. Alas, this final resolution—to curb your social media addiction—may not make you happier at work in the short term, but it will protect you professionally in the long term.

  • The Substitute Phone is designed to help smartphone addicts cope in their absence (The Verge): 


We’ve all been there: fiddling with your smartphone because it’s there, or reaching for it when you hear a text message notification. Austrian designer Klemens Schillinger created the Substitute Phone as a way to help smartphone addicts cope in its absence.

Schillinger tells Dezeen that more and more, phones are becoming an addicting object in our lives. Users constantly play with them, even if they’re not looking for a message or expecting a call, and he was inspired to design “a tool that would help stop this ‘checking’ behaviour.”

Schillinger designed five facsimile phones, made of black polyoxymethylene plastic with stone beads embedded in the surface, which allows a user to replicate familiar actions, such as scrolling, pinching, or swiping. The goal is that it could be used as a coping mechanism for someone trying to check their phone less.

The Substitute Phones don’t appear to be for sale (his website says that his shop is “coming soon”), but they were featured as part of an exhibition for the Vienna Design Week called #Offline – Design for the (Good Old) Real World, which took place earlier this fall.

  • Flat-Earther Delays Launch In His Homemade Rocket, Saying ‘It’s Not Easy’ (NPR): 

It appears we will need to wait a while longer to find out whether more than two millennia of thinkers and explorers — from Aristotle and Ferdinand Magellan, to Neil deGrasse Tyson and John Glenn — have been wrong about the shape of the Earth.

“Mad” Mike Hughes, limousine driver and self-proclaimed flat-Earther, announced that he had to delay his plan to launch himself 1,800 feet high in a rocket of his own making. The launch, which he has billed as a crucial first step toward ultimately photographing our disc-world from space, had been scheduled for Saturday — before the Bureau of Land Management got wind of the plan and barred him from using public land in Amboy, Calif.

Also, the rocket launcher he had built out of a used motor home “broke down in the driveway” on Wednesday, according to Hughes. He said in a YouTube announcement that they’d eventually gotten the launcher fixed — but the small matter of federal permission proved a more serious stumbling block (for now).

The BLM “informed me that they were not going to allow me to do the event there — at least at that location,” Hughes said.

Hughes asserted that the BLM last year had tacitly left the matter of permissions to the Federal Aviation Administration, and “of course, they can’t honestly approve it,” he added. The FAA “just said, ‘Well, we know that you’re going to do it there.’ “

It turns out the BLM wasn’t satisfied with that explanation — particularly after The Associated Press first reported on the launch for a national audience.

“Someone from our local office reached out to him after seeing some of these news articles [about the launch], because that was news to them,” a spokeswoman for the agency told The Washington Post, adding that Hughes had not applied to the local BLM field office for the necessary permit.

“So, it turned out to be not a good thing,” Hughes said.

Still, Hughes has not relented in his quest to launch himself roughly 500 mph on a mile-long flight across the sky above the Mojave Desert. He said he has found private property near his original launch site, where he anticipates finally taking off as early as Tuesday this week.

For Hughes, this launch would not be his first in a homemade rocket. In 2014, the 61-year-old sent himself flying a quarter-mile across the Arizona desert before pulling out several parachutes of questionable quality on his fall to Earth. He was “in a walker for a couple weeks” after that launch, he told a flat-Earth community Web show.

He also hopes it will not be his last such attempt. Since converting to the flat-Earth belief after “research[ing] it for several months in between doing everything else,” Hughes has seen a marked uptick in fundraising contributions to his rocket projects. And he has big plans, hoping eventually to launch himself into space, where he believes he can overturn a scientific understanding that predates NASA by at least 2,300 years.

“I don’t believe in science,” Hughes told the AP earlier this month. “I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that’s not science, that’s just a formula. There’s no difference between science and science fiction.”

For now, his mission will have to wait.

“It’s been very disappointing and, I guess, enlightening — this whole week. It really has been,” he said. “But it’s not easy because it’s not supposed to be.”

  • Security News This Week: Android Tracks Your Location Even When You Ask It Not To (Wired): 

In a perplexing violation of privacy norms, Android phones collect the location of nearby cell towers even if you’ve turned off location services. The company confirmed the practice to Quartz, saying that the feature was in place to improve push notifications and messages. It also said it would stop doing so by the end of November.

In many ways, the headline sounds scarier than what it means in practice. Google encrypts the data in transit, and says it doesn’t store any of it. It’s also distinct from the location data that it provides app developers and advertisers. Someone could conceivably use the location data for ill if they’ve compromised an Android device, but by that point they’d likey have access to the phone’s location—and even more sensitive information—already.

None of which excuses Google! It’s still an extremely bad look to collect location info on people who are unaware, especially given the many, many situations where a person has reason to fear for their safety if their location at any given moment were widely known. At best, Google’s overreach was incredibly tone deaf and intrusive. At worst, it could have had serious real-world consequences.



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