M Thomas Apple Author Page

Science fiction, actual science, history, and personal ranting about life, the universe, and everything

75 years and counting

August 9, 2020
MThomas

DSC01148.jpg

14 years ago, my wife and I went to Hiroshima by high-speed ferry boat, on our way back from visiting her parents in Kyushu. Her father’s family comes from Hiroshima (although her father was actually born in Dairen/Dalian (大連), China) and her uncle and his family still live about an hour’s drive north of the city.

It was my first time to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. We arrived about a week after the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony and Peace Message Lantern Floating Ceremony, but the museum was a very sharp reminder of the horror that my country visited upon Japan.

August 6th, 8:15 a.m. Hiroshima.

August 9th, 11:02 a.m. Nagasaki. Continue Reading

Meet Arisa, our local “inforobo”

July 16, 2020
MThomas

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This is Arisa, the “Information Robot.” It was recently installed at Yamato-Saidaiji, a Kintetsu Railway station in Nara City that I travel through to go to work.

Actually, today I went through the station on my way to renew my driver’s license. Interacting with the robot was much easier.

She (oops, I mean “it”?) can speak four languages (Japanese, English, Mandarin, and Korean) at the touch of a panel. But the functionality is still only limited to basic phrases about where to change trains and which platform to use. Still, it’s a first step (toward replacing human-controlled info booths, so get started learning programming, kiddos!).

US phones come with preinstalled Chinese malware

January 9, 2020
MThomas

One of the pre-installed apps, which looks and operates as a wireless update program, automatically installs more apps without user consent, according to Malwarebytes.

And it appears to be a variant of Adups, malware previously traced to China, which transmits text, call-location and app data to a Chinese server every 72 hours.

China is so far ahead of the US in terms of hacking and spyware. And this is only the stuff that they didn’t even bother hiding…

Btw the image used is a repeat from a 2018 article about Lebanon-based spyware installed on phones in five different countries.

Missile strikes are distractions. The next war will be online.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51054901

Your Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker Reviews All Miss The Point

January 7, 2020
MThomas

Rey

Okay, so I figured that I would never do this.

I mean, write a Star Wars movie review? When so many have already been there, done that, loved it/hated on it/debated it? When I already did it (ah, twenty years ago, but still…)

But, then again, why not?

Especially when so many have gotten it so wrong… Continue Reading

No “Planet McPlanetface” option. Sorry.

April 15, 2019
MThomas

planetoid

The three choices fit IAU naming regulations and are associated with mythological creatures and figures that reflect aspects of 2007 OR10’s physical properties, which include rock, water ice, possibly methane ice, and a surface that’s red in color.

Your three choices?

Gonggong (共工, the bringer of floods 洪 and chaos)

Holle (which I always thought was Hulda or Holda)

Vili (which I knew as Wela in English class)

At least these scientists learned an important lesson from our recent past…

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Info here: www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/scientists-launch-public-vote-for-the-name-of-a-distant-world/

Vote here: https://2007or10.name

The Race for Your Face: Recognize this?

April 4, 2019
MThomas

Face

The Chinese government uses facial recognition for large-scale surveillance in public CCTV cameras, both to catch criminals and monitor the behavior of all individuals with the intent of turning the data into a score. Seemingly harmless offenses like buying too many video games or jaywalking can lower your score. China uses that score for a sort of “social credit” system that determines whether the individual should be allowed to get a loan, buy a house or even much simpler things like board a plane or access the internet.

Yeah. That’s a real advantage for human rights and democracy. And when the hackers get involved, it’ll lead to an entirely new definition of the term “face lift.”

https://www.cnet.com/how-to/facial-recognition-apple-amazon-google-and-the-race-for-your-face-facebook/?ftag=CAD-04-10aac3a&bhid=100000000000000000000000000831528

Wandering Earth and the future of SciFi — the China syndrome?

December 8, 2018
MThomas

foldingbeijingChinese science fiction has been up and coming for a while now. The work of Liu Cixin, for example, earned the author (or translator, not sure which) a Hugo Award. (I reviewed and found the Three-Body Solution to be full of interesting ideas but bogged down with poorly written dialogue, unexpected shifts in voice and style, stereotypes, and two-dimensional characters.)

And, of course, China is about to (re)discover itself as a major player on the world stage. Complete with the “only our civilization can save humanity” trope, a.k.a., just like the US.

So it was just a matter before Chinese cinema followed suit. Continue Reading

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