Fighting Facial Recognition

Fighting Facial Recognition

Friday, Feb 5, 2021

Listening To: Destructos - Blast
Photo: A Tandy 102 portable computer (and Willy). Used by field reporters for many years as it ran up to twenty hours on common batteries and included a modem to file reports with. Still works!

The various Privacy Watchdogs of Canada just filed a report finding that Clearview AI’s facial recognition software use in Canada was not legal. It seemed obvious from the outset (scraping copyrighted images and using them without consent) but various corporate and government entities resisted and even denied using the technology until leaked documents exposed them.

Joint investigation of Clearview AI, Inc. by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, and the Information Privacy Commissioner of Alberta

is the source but you can find both interviews and summaries from various media outlets. (TYEE) (CBC)

How to protect against this? The best thing an individual can do is familiarise themselves with the present privacy laws (Federal, Provincial (BC), Document Act) and have a good think before giving away any personal information. Especially to government and businesses who have proven not only to disrespect it, but often seem unwilling or unable to protect it. I worked with a woman who, several years after the Sony Hack, was still feeling the effects of identity theft.

If you are refused a job, good or service because of your application of the privacy laws, there is a formal grievance process through the office of your local Privacy Commissioner. It can be considered a form of actionable discrimination. There is often a thirty day cool-down period for the parties to negotiate before the formal application can be made, but I found submitting the complaint documentation directly to the head office of the company you are dealing with makes for swift action.

Seems nobody wants a government privacy audit of their practices.

Funny that.

2 minutes read
Not The Whole Truth

Not The Whole Truth

Wednesday, Feb 3, 2021

Listening To: Sofia Portanet - Freier Geist (“Planet Mars” is perhaps my best find of 2021 so far).

Filed my first complaint against a major media organisation today. I won’t name them as the practice seems common and to their credit, they have now changed the article’s text to better reflect the present pandemic rules.

A number of published articles recently have included blanket statements such as:

British Columbia restrictions include a ban on gathering with anyone outside one’s household”.

This is not accurate.

If you read British Columbia’s Official Province-wide Restrictions document it states that this restriction applies to multi-person households. Single-person households have a limited exemption in that they are allowed to have up to two outside contacts (expand the “Core bubble” portion of the document linked above). There are also some exceptions for other cases.

Somewhere around four million Canadians over the age of 15 live alone and many either don’t work, or work from home these days. Expecting them all to completely isolate themselves 24/7 isn’t reasonable:

  • extended isolation has been shown to cause both physical and mental illness. (1) (2)
  • one may need to move for some reason. From escaping a abusive partner to being evicted or renovicted. (1) (2)
  • nobody knows when this will end. (1) (2)

The risk from a single person household who is obeying the pandemic rules can be very low. For instance: I generally work and live alone and only frequent businesses respecting the rules (grocery shopping off-peak, only buying take-out, wearing a mask outdoors when near others etc.).

Note that going for a “safe walk” is also within the current rules.

If you can, please get outside! Stanley could always use another sunny day walking buddy. Get in touch (top left site button) if you’re in need. Reach out to somebody if you’re struggling.

I have.

2 minutes read
Matrix My Way

Matrix My Way

Monday, Feb 1, 2021

Photo: Otto Von Bismark and Audrey Hepburn (aka “the buns of destruction”) - rescue rabbits from VRRA
Listening to: Joe Jackson - Awkward Age (it should come as no surprise that this one resonates with me):

“You look at me like I know what’s going on
I’m looking back and I wonder what went wrong
I really thought by now a few things might just clarify
I got a mind that goes out to lunch for days
And a body that sometimes disobeys
I get into the parties but I hate them ‘cause I’m shy
Oh my
I’m still at an awkward age”

One of the few disadvantages of using external services for communication is that on occasion, they don’t last, whether they be commercial or community supported. Alas, I just received a message telling me my Matrix server of choice is being taken off-line before the end of the month.

In an effort to turn adversity into advantage, an effort is underway to set up my own server (the software is called Synapse). That way this never has to happen again as the entire system is under my own control. I may even host it from home as texting takes next to no bandwidth.

Presently I’m experimenting in a non-destructive environment with a server on Linode. The advantage is that you can create snapshots, screw up, create and destroy servers at a whim. And it only costs about $0.007/hour. Seven cents. Ha.

Failure is part of the learning process (or so I keep telling myself).

2 minutes read
Projector Hush Box

Projector Hush Box

Saturday, Jan 30, 2021

Photo: “Hush Box Project” by Chaz
Listening to: Nina Hagen - Live at Rockplast 1978 and Herman Brood - Live at Rockplast 1978 . The movie they co-starred in, Cha Cha, was released the next year (it was a hot mess with an really awesome soundtrack album).

A hush box would neat to build. Especially since my studio space is full of sawdust and scrap wood anyway with some ongoing renos.

A hush box channels air around baffles in order to quiet a projector’s cooling fans (which can be annoying after awhile, especially in a small space). Having recently acquired a Bomaker Parrot to watch movies on, I need one.

Figure wood will be free, it will just need some hardware (hinges, corner braces), optic glass, fans and power supply. Then a thin coating of acoustic foam. We’ve previously used thin layers of acoustic bat insulation for such things but the proper foam will be easier to handle. If I use industrial velcro to attach the baffles, it can be reconfigured for a different unit down the road.

Ya, will be fun.

Probably take me a month to decide what colour to paint it thou…

Hush Box project at hackaday.io

1 minutes read

Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

Photo: “Neither Mine Nor Yours, 9- view 2” by Michelle Dickson - (Website) (Instagram) Used with permission of the creator.
Listening to: Video Killed the Radio Star - Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club

A Guardian article ‘They said I wasn’t hot enough’: Carey Mulligan hits out again at magazine review just pissed me off (again) about the media’s attempts to control what or who we find attractive.

As a society we should grow up and recognise that everybody has different tastes and stop “listening to the voices”. Personally I find “character” attractive. What kind? Who knows, until it smacks one upside the head. Imagining what it’s like to talk to someone seems far more relevant than wondering how the masses will judge you with “that on your arm”. After all, there is only so long you can strut around in public, and a whole lot of time spent in private communicating with that person.

The same can go for media we consume. If you were casting a movie, would you want to pick actors that were right for the part or a generically attractive cast to please the broadest of fan bases (and the marketing department)? And I’ll admit here to indulging in a bit of reverse discrimination. If looking for a show to watch and the caption picture is filled with a (oft retouched) attractive ensemble cast, I’ll not read the description and move on. After all, if the casting is that generic, imagine what the script is like.

There have been a few interesting science articles about attraction in the past. From the chemical science behind lust, attraction and companionship to mid-20’s females are the most attractive to the broadest range of people or that if you average the faces of multiple people it turns out attractive. The age based bias seems obvious because of ingrained reproduction strategies, but the latter is interesting in that stereo-typically attractive people could be considered “generic”. And perhaps visually boring.

Or perhaps that’s just my own slant on things.

(edit: deleted personal content)

2 minutes read
Making Pins

Making Pins

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2021

Listening to: Broken Baby - Broken Baby LP (I so wanna dance to this)

Well, this is fun.

I have a bag of old pins that somehow got all rusty. Water damage? Humidity? I’ve always wanted to make my own but the proper machine costs $$ and making real metal-backed enamel pins looks complicated. Perhaps with a vice and hacksaw? Maybe later…

So I tried to DIY it last night. Stripped and sanded an old pin then sprayed it down with black “rust paint” gloss enamel. All the tiny bottles of “craft store” enamel paint cost far too much for what they were, so I got a pot of gloss white rust paint from a hardware store. At least it will be useful later. The spraying has to be done outdoors but the painting isn’t too stinky for indoors.

It’s thick and advertised as “paint and primer in one” which had both ups and downs. With the soft “dollar store” brush, it’s rather hard to control. I’ll look for a smaller, stiffer brush for the next one, and perhaps some sort of small flat tipped stick-thing to push it around a bit (I obviously know SFA about painting right?). Given a few more colours it may be possible to paint some tiny things on the pins. Total lack of talent is never a barrier. Palette schmallete, just rolling with what I can find/scrounge will be a fun way to spend some evenings.

Constantly fighting the damned cat off just makes it more… interesting.

2 minutes read
Pinephone Mobian Update

Pinephone Mobian Update

Monday, Jan 25, 2021

Listening to: Yuka Zolo - Bleed

Mobian is running well on my Braveheart Pinephone. I’m still going to order the updated motherboard when it comes available again, but stick with this for now. Besides the camera not yet working, the only other gotcha is that it’s easier to install new software and update via the command line. Not a problem for me, but I could see it turning off your non tech-savvy user. There is a GUI-based software hub but it doesn’t appear functional yet (or perhaps it’s my older hardware). Time to move over all my RSS feeds, podcast feeds, songs and contacts. Snagged a 128 gig SD card so I can fit all my music. The trials of a Bandcamp junkie with boxes full of albums and CD’s.

ps. If you’re upbeat and hopeful today, don’t read Pharmaceutical giants not ready for next pandemic, report warns

1 minutes read
DIY(ish) Video Streaming Setup

DIY(ish) Video Streaming Setup

Sunday, Jan 24, 2021

Listening to: Primetime - Going Places
Photo: “my” back yard. Lots of shade from the trees in the summer (and yes, the fence has been fixed now).

I said the video/streaming setup down at Red Gate would be documented. So that’s on today’s bill.

Turnkey systems can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and that obviously was not a go. So we had to DIY it. The quality and features suit us and match some far more expensive setups but it all takes a bit more in the way of tech skills to keep running. We also wanted to keep the setup flexible to accommodate various needs and future expansion.

Stream Box:

A refurbished Lenovo M93p SFF with an i5-4570, 16 gigs ram, 500 gig SSD and Geforce 1030 running a arch-based linux distro and OBS Studio. Everything was on used/free/on sale. If that’s ever not powerful enough any other computer could be used with very little tweaking. I’m presently building a second machine for that room so solo artists and interviews can be done there without all the setup required for the main area.

Camera Setup:

Three Panasonic G85’s and a Panasonic G7. The stabilisation from the G85’s stock lens is rather terrific for handheld work and after the cameras were set up, it only takes five or ten minutes of training to get the operational basics down (on manual, fixed zoom with ability to snap focus when needed). One can hand them to any available staff or group that books. All cameras will shoot 4k video to the internal card (until full, no time limitations) and if filming at 1080p 30/fps, can also output raw HDMI to a NDI encoder for streaming. We also have a 40mm (panasonic) and 85mm (Voigtländer) primes available for special shoots. Neither is stabilised but both work with the in-body and electronic stabilisation and are much faster lenses.

Encoders:

These were the fancy bit. Three Birddog Studio NDI units. They attach to the camera rigs and send the HDMI video over ethernet to the stream box. Quality is great and they’ve proven dead reliable. They are bi-directional and also feature SDI so that we could accept a show which brings proper broadcast equipment. They work over POE so there are no additional power needs.

Network Equipment:

Two Ubiquiti UniFi Switch 8 60w POE switches, a Unifi Security Gateway and a lot of gigabit ethernet runs. We have two rooms wired now and will eventually do the front gallery as well. It means we can move a camera, plug it in and it just works, auto-configuring itself with the stream box. The administration is simple and GUI based so anybody should be able to pick up administration if I’m not available.

Lighting:

Mostly donated. The lights were updated with stronger bulbs and the lighting board apparently dates back to Expo ‘86 in Vancouver. We do have a 5600k Godox SL-60 with softbox and a few DIY work lights to fill in when needed along with a small ring light for interviews and the like.

Software:

OBS Studio with only two additions. libndi-bin and obs-ndi-bin. Things like Krita and Shotcut are also on the box for graphics and any trimming of videos. The box is not heavily GPU fortified so any major editing is done elsewhere.

The Best Bit:

Even during a global pandemic, I occasionally get to see a performance.

Totally worth the hundred or so hours of work :-).

3 minutes read
Firefox Addons

Firefox Addons

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021

Listening to: Dream Nails - Dream Nails
Photo: pic taken with my first digital camera, the Olympus D-360L (bought 1999 in New Orleans). Still works!

I use Firefox. One of only a small percentage of people who do these days. The market is dominated by Chrome and it’s derivatives. I could go on about how a mono-culture on web access is dangerous, or how that it would be headed by what is effectively an ad firm/data broker with little sense of ethics, but I’d be digressing.

This is about add-ons. Mostly so I don’t forget what I’m using. You’ll probably want to go back to doing something more relevant to your life at this point (videos of goats cavorting is my go-to).

uBlock Origin - blocks lots of ads* and crap. Makes the web faster to browse.

Privacy Possum - reduces and/or falsifies data gathered by tracking companies.

Privacy Badger - learns to block invisible trackers.

Firefox Multi-Account Containers - lets you run each website in isolation.

Facebook Container - wraps Facebook automatically and generally screws with their tracking elsewhere on the web.

Decentraleyes - Messes with CDN (Content Delivery Network) delivery. Third parties that host web content and may monetise your data.

ClearURL’s - Removes tracking elements built into links and URL’s themselves.

HTTPS Everywhere - Just removed this one as the feature is now built into Firefox. Warns you when you load insecure websites (any password would be transmitted as plain text).

*I have no problems with seeing ads. I ran a site for a decade that depended on them for revenue. But those were topical, self-hosted and did not contain any trackers. Alas, many modern ad services are kinda shitty about that stuff.

2 minutes read

About Me

A dorky artist living in Vancouver, BC.

email: flay@pm.me

Matrix: @bunnyhuffer:matrix.org

Mastodon: https://fosstodon.org/@flay

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(Yes, I know. I have a problem.)