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Email to my class about the Facebook et al. scandal

I teach Applied Machine Learning at the University of Maryland College Park. The class is 3 hours of lecture/lab every Wednesday. Today, I spent 30 minutes going through the scandals with Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Microsoft banning NSFW content from most of their consumer facing cloud services, and China's Social Credit System, and discussing my concerns with each incident. Afterwards, I sent this email to my class and a colleague, who requested I publish it, and it's reproduced in it's original form below (hence the grammar and formatting).



Point of Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, China and Microsoft stories
When I went into the data and privacy stories today, part of it was just so you guys knew what happened, and part of it was to illustrate some broader points. I don't think I stated all of the key points as explicitly as I should've, so here they are:

-Data, particularly the nuanced profiles in social media websites Facebook and messaging histories, is in…

So I Accidentally Found a Security Vulnerability in Windows 10

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About six months ago, in the process of going all Linux, I was selling off an old laptop of mine with an SSD and Windows 10 to a friend. I wanted to securely remove all my data without removing the Windows install since I had lost the OEM key. I recalled seeing Windows 10 having a secure reset feature, described as being designed for easily removing all personal data from your computer before recycling or selling it. That sounded great, and so I pressed the button to start it and the ridiculousness of the last six months of my life began. The reset went most of the way through (around 60% if I recall correctly) and gave a strange error about not being able to delete a file that wasn't there anymore. So I opened up Windows explorer to poke around and found a hidden folder had been created: C:\$SysReset. What appears to have happened after reviewing system log files and experimenting on other computers was the reset feature copied all program installs (including x64, UWP system lo…

An Argument For Why Windows Will Go Open Source

Microsoft has publicly stated that Windows 10 will be the last product in the Windows line. This is in part because releasing discrete products (as opposed to continuous ones), has caused Microsoft to develop operating systems that people wanted at the design inception and not the release; in Microsoft’s words, what people wanted 2 years ago. The question then, is how will Microsoft monetize Windows in the future? Sure, Microsoft will still earn money every time someone buys a new Windows PC. However, the average desktop user keeps their PCs for a very long time, especially when compared to products like smart phones. This change would superficially cause a massive cut to Microsoft’s bottom line from Windows, and they certainly know it. By switching to this model for the advantages to relevance and responsiveness, Microsoft must also be looking to monetize Windows in a new manner than before.
Before we dive deeper, let’s briefly run through how Android and all of Apple’s operating syste…