Spying On The Scammers

Fascinating stuff. This is part 1 of 4.

When a scammer connected to my PC, I was able to reverse their connection and discover that they had CCTV. You’re going to see the most detailed exposé of a tech support scam ever seen on YouTube. The company were called Faremart.com – A travel agency in Delhi who use their buildings and VOIP telephony to run various scams. They are one of hundreds of scam call centres in India and this one group will make over $3 million per year with scams.

And Now For Something Completely Obscure

Electronic pop duo Silver Apples released their first album in ’68.  I believe that makes them the first ever electronic pop band, predating Can, Kraftwerk, et al.  If any of you bastards know of someone prior to these guys, please clue me in.  They sold very few albums, but one somehow ended up in my house in the mid 70’s.  Ignorant that they predated Kraftwerk, I pretty much dismissed them because I didn’t like the songs very much.  They typically set up good initial ideas but, in my opnion, are let down by the singing and trippy lyrics, which creep me out for some reason.   But the electronic sounds are innovative and excellent.  Those sounds come from “The Simeon,” a primitive, homemade synth built by singer Simeon Coxe, an Alabaman.  He was just stringing together old WWII oscillators and claims that at the time  he’d never heard of Moogs or other synthesizers in develpoment.

Silver Apples’ legacy is hard to pin down.  Some 90’s experimental bands have cited them as an influence, but what about the electronic innovators of the 70’s?  You never heard a word about these guys back then, so did they influence Krautrock, Eno, Devo, prog rockers, or just work in a vacuum?  Who knows, but I can’t help but love their oddball creativity.  Very much in the tradition of American cranks innovating alone in the basement or garage.  But overall they show that first usually isn’t best.

Here is their full story, which is very interesting.  If you want to hear more, below is the entire first album and one song, “You and I”, from their second and final album, which was withdrawn soon after release.  The opening of “You and I” is suspiciously like “Station To Station,” but  I have no idea if Bowie was familiar with it.  The whole second album, which I haven’t heard,  is also on YouTube.

Shit

Florian Schneider, co-founder of Kraftwerk, dead at 73.

This Blew My Mind

Truly, we are living in the future.

Over 50 percent of The Mandalorian Season 1 was filmed using this ground-breaking new methodology, eliminating the need for location shoots entirely. Instead, actors in The Mandalorian performed in an immersive and massive 20’ high by 270-degree semicircular LED video wall and ceiling with a 75’-diameter performance space, where the practical set pieces were combined with digital extensions on the screens. Digital 3D environments created by ILM played back interactively on the LED walls, edited in real-time during the shoot, which allowed for pixel-accurate tracking and perspective-correct 3D imagery rendered at high resolution via systems powered by NVIDIA GPUs. The environments were lit and rendered from the perspective of the camera to provide parallax in real-time, as if the camera were really capturing the physical environment with accurate interactive light on the actors and practical sets, giving showrunner Jon Favreau, executive producer and director Dave Filoni, visual effects supervisor Richard Bluff, and cinematographers Greig Fraser and Barry Baz Idoine, and the episodic directors the ability to make concrete creative choices for visual effects-driven work during photography and achieve real-time in-camera composites on set.

The technology and workflow required to make in-camera compositing and effects practical for on-set use combined the ingenuity of partners such as Golem Creations, Fuse, Lux Machina, Profile Studios, and ARRI together with ILM’s StageCraft virtual production filmmaking platform and ultimately the real-time interactivity of the Unreal Engine platform.

New Strokes

I’m hearing good things about the next album, due April 10. I lost interest in The Strokes after First Impressions of Earth (2006?!), but I’d be hard-pressed to find a better debut album than Is This It.

Here’s a video for one of the new singles, “Bad Decisions.” If it sounds a lot like “Dancing With Myself,” it’s no accident. The band allegedly gave Billy Idol and Tony James songwriting credits to avoid litigation.

As near as I can tell, the message in the video is that The Strokes will be evolving musically, so if you want rehashed older albums (clones), too bad. Oh, and the band members’ faces are deepfaked onto actors playing the clones. Timely!

Quantum Supremacy


(artist’s drawing of Google’s quantum computer chip)

In October, Google built a quantum computer that solved an incredibly hard problem in 200 seconds — a problem the world’s fastest supercomputer would take 10,000 years to solve. This is called “quantum supremacy”, and has been compared to the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

”Until recently, every computer on the planet — from a 1960s mainframe to your iPhone, and even inventions as superficially exotic as ‘neuromorphic computers’ and DNA computers — has operated on the same rules. These were rules that Charles Babbage understood in the 1830s and that Alan Turing codified in the 1930s. Through the course of the computer revolution, all that has changed at the lowest level are the numbers: speed, amount of RAM and hard disk, number of parallel processors.

But quantum computing is different. It’s the first computing paradigm since Turing that’s expected to change the fundamental scaling behavior of algorithms, making certain tasks feasible that had previously been exponentially hard. Of these, the most famous examples are simulating quantum physics and chemistry, and breaking much of the encryption that currently secures the internet.

I’m sure this will go well.

More here.

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