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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

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[LINK] “Almost None of the Women in the Ashley Madison Database Ever Used the Site”

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The analysis by Gizmodo’s Annalee Newitz of the fakery involved in Ashley Madison’s self-presentation as a site with many women is superb.

My analysis had to be entirely based on the profiles themselves, not the credit card data. There is no such thing as a “paid account” for women because women don’t have to pay for anything on Ashley Madison. As a result, I couldn’t use “paid account” as a proxy for “real,” the way analysts have done with the male data. Plus, the credit card data does not list gender — so it would have been impossible to be certain of gender ratios in the credit card information anyway.

In the profile database, each Ashley Madison member has a number of data fields, including obvious things like nickname, gender, birthday, and turn-ons; but the member profile also contains data that is purely for administrative use, like the email address used to create the account, and when the person last checked their Ashley Madison inbox.

I started my search in an obvious place. Were there any patterns in the personal email addresses that people listed when they signed up? I figured that if I were an admin at Ashley Madison creating fake profiles, I would use ashleymadison.com for the email addresses because it’s easy and obvious. No real Ashley Madison customer would have an Ashley Madison company email. So I searched for any email address that ended in ashleymadison.com. Bingo. There were about 10 thousand accounts with ashleymadison.com email addresses. Many of them sounded like they’d been generated by a bot, like the dozens of addresses listed as 100@ashleymadison.com, 200@ashleymadison.com, 300@ashleymadison, and so on.

A quick comparison of men’s and women’s email addresses revealed that over 9 thousand of these ashleymadison.com addresses were used for female profiles, while roughly 1000 went to men or to profiles where no gender was specified.

This pattern was telling, but not damning. What it suggests is that the majority of obviously fake accounts — ones perhaps created by bored admins using their company’s email address, or maybe real women using fake information — were marked female. These fakes numbered in the thousands, which is exactly what Impact Team suggested.

Go, read.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 27, 2015 at 7:38 pm

[LINK] “Bitcoins gaining traction around the Black Sea”

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I’m skeptical of this EconoTimes report, but it does not seem implausible that countries bordering the Black Sea–technologically advanced, but legally insecure–might resort to the use of bitcoins.

According to a latest report by Bravenewcoin, countries in the region, collectively known as the ‘Black Sea Basin,’ is experiencing rapid growth in both bitcoin adoption, and infrastructure. There are over 13,600 locations to buy bitcoin in person in the region.

It’s not at all apparent when looking at an ATM placement map, such as Coin ATM Radar, how densely populated these areas are with shops and machines that will sell bitcoins for the local currency.

Such websites only list bitcoin-focused ATM machines, not multipurpose kiosks, nor shops where you can go to the counter and purchase bitcoins from the clerk. If you could include these kinds of shops and machines, which are every bit as good at selling bitcoins as a bitcoin ATM, then it’s clear that countries in eastern Europe have an extraordinarily high degree of bitcoin access.

Some of the biggest payment Kiosk companies include the IBOX in the Ukraine, JSC Nova in Georgia and Zebra Pay in Romania, the report said. Striking agreements to add Bitcoin exchange applications to these kiosks, in one or both directions, has so far been an easy job for local Bitcoin entrepreneurs.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 25, 2015 at 10:19 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO notes that you can now LARP at Casa Loma.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the odd reddish marks on the surface of Saturn’s moon Tethys.
  • Crooked Timber takes issue with David Frum’s misrepresentation of an article on Mediterranean migration.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of the aurora of a nearby brown dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes evidence of carbonation on the Martian surface and suggests the presence of anomalous amounts of mercury on Earth associated with mass extinctions.
  • Geocurrents maps the terrifying strength of California’s drought.
  • Language Hat notes that Cockney is disappearing from London.
  • Language Log notes coded word usage on the Chinese Internet.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper examining the effects of hunting male lions.
  • The Map Room links to new maps of Ceres and Pluto.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe’s mapping orbits of Ceres.
  • Progressive Download traces the migration of the aloe plants over time from Arabia.
  • Savage Minds notes how hacktivists are being treated as terrorists.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how the Ukrainian war is leading to the spread of heavy weapons in Russia, looks at Russian opposition to a Crimean Tatar conference in Turkey, suggests that the West is letting Ukraine fight a limited war in Donbas, and looks at the falling Russian birthrate.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes that ferry tickets for the Toronto Islands can now be bought online.
  • Discover‘s Crux considers SETI.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper considering habitable exoplanets around nearby red dwarf stars, defends the potential existence of exoplanets at Kapteyn’s Star, and looks at the Epsilon Eridani system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that a second Scottish referendum on independence is possible, according to Alex Salmond.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Mormons are unhappy with the Scouts’ gay-friendly shift.
  • Language Hat considers the history of family name usage in Russia.
  • Languages of the World examines in two posts the argument that primitive peoples have simple languages.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the strategies of Spanish populist group Podemos.
  • Peter Watts considers the peculiar thing of people lacking large chunks of the brain who nonetheless seem normal.
  • Diane Duane, at Out of Ambit, is quite unhappy with an impending forced upgrade to Windows 10.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw notes how labour-saving technologies improved the lives of women.
  • The Planetary Society Blog considers proposals to explore small solar system bodies.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers what would happen if Bernie Sanders won the nomination of the Democratic Party.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to statistics on the population of Abu Dhabi.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the depopulation of South Ossetia and looks at the Russian Orthodox Church’s hostility to Ukraine’s Uniate Catholics.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell notes that although Labour apparently did a good job of convincing potential voters it was right, it did a worse job of getting them to vote.

[PHOTO] Video game machines at the Galleria Mall, Toronto

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Video games at the Galleria #toronto #galleriamall #videogame #arcade #videogamemachine

The vintage Neo Geo game machines of the Galleria are to die for.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 29, 2015 at 3:18 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Centauri Dreams explores Pluto and its worlds.
  • Crooked Timber considers the question of how to organize vast quantities of data.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to two papers on exoplanet habitability, noting that the composition of exoplanets influences their habitability and suggests exomoons need to be relatively massive to be habitable.
  • Geocurrents notes the inequalities of Chile.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an article about New York City gay nightclub The Saint.
  • Language Hat links to a site on American English.
  • Language Log suggests that the Cantonese language is being squeezed out of education in Hong Kong.
  • Languages of the World notes a free online course on language revival.
  • Peter Watts of No Moods, Ads, or Cutesy Fucking Icons examines the flaws of a paper on a proto-Borg collective of rats.
  • Spacing Toronto looks at the Toronto connection to a notorious late 19th century American serial killer.
  • Towleroad notes a study suggesting that people with undetectable levels of HIV can’t transmit the virus.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes the issues of compliance with lawful orders.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi likes the ASIS Chromebook flip.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the connection between the wars of Yugoslavia and eastern Ukraine, looks at Buryat-Cossack conflict, and notes disabled Russian veterans of the Ukrainian war.

[PHOTO] Photos from the Toronto Fringe Festival, 2015

This year, I decided to follow last year’s precedent and take photos from my Toronto Fringe Festival experience.

My photos this year concentrated on Honest Ed’s and the Alley, the venerable host of Fringe events that will be no more after 2017 when the complex is torn down.

Welcome to the Alley #toronto #fringeto #thealley #honesteds

My phone’s ability to serve as a hotspot was quite convenient.

Rereading source material #toronto #fringeto #thealley #thephilanderer #georgebernardshaw #thephilandress

The Alley at night was full of people …

The alley alit #toronto #fringeto #honesteds #thealley #night

… and the postcards left behind in the tents and on the tables to promote works.

Playing, 2 #toronto #fringeto #thealley #honesteds #postcards

Tent of postcards #toronto #fringeto #honesteds #thealley #postcards

Lineups could be quite significant at some venues.

Randolph in the evening #toronto #fringeto #randolphtheatre #evening

Lineup and ivy #toronto #fringeto #ivy #bathurststreet #annextheatre #thephilandress

Finally, some shots of the Alley at different times.

The Alley in evening #toronto #fringeto #thealley #honesteds #evening

The Alley in rain #toronto #fringeto #honesteds #thealley #rain

The wall of the Alley #toronto #thealley #fringeto #honesteds #night

Fringe at night #toronto #fringeto #honesteds #thealley #night

Written by Randy McDonald

July 13, 2015 at 5:47 pm

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