Senko Rašić

A practitioning bit-shifting magician turned cat herder.

Internet, in 2018, was not a safe place.

By this I don’t mean spam arriving in our inbox, viruses or malware lurking in software downloaded from less-reputable places, or phishing sites masquerading as our favorite e-commerce platforms.

These risks are real, but well understood and widely recognized. However, in the past years there has been an increasing evidence for, and occurrence of, completely different kinds of risk that most of us online are exposed to.

Examples of these are pervasive tracking of behavior online, appropriation of personal data by the apps or sites we use, data breaches, and junk media optimized to maximize engagement.

Before I go over each of these in more detail, a disclaimer: I don’t think everyone’s out to get me, or that big corporations such as Google or Facebook are inherently evil. I do think that companies, big and small, are incentivized to behave in ways that create or increase these risks. That is, the default is to behave in a way that makes things worse.

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Dispelling one particular critique of UBI

Universal Basic Income (UBI) has started appearing with increasing regularity in research and experiments all around the world (Finland, India, …Oakland?). Of course, the scheme has both benefits and drawbacks, its proponents and critics, but in the absence of experience from a large-scale long-running UBI program, it is hard to evaluate what would actually happen.

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Voice-controlled AI assistants are advanced enough to be dangerous

Useful voice recognition, combined with AI capable of parsing specific phrases and sentences, is finally here. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant are showing us what the future will be like.

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What Shellshock can teach us about emergent behavior

As I write this (September 2014.), the Internet is in panic over a catastrophic remote code execution bug in which bash, a commonly-used shell on many of the today’s servers, can be exploited to run arbitrary code.

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Which is not to say you can’t make money out of it

A common theme nowadays in the open source developers’ circles is that you can’t live writing open source. There are sad accounts of people abandoning their (popular) open source libraries, frameworks or programs, because they suck too much of author’s time and with little or no financial gain. Others try their luck at Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns for funding a few milestones of their project, or set up a donation system via Gratipay, Flattr or Patreon.

This conflates several different approaches to making money off of open source, each of which requires a different way of thinking about how the money is related to the work.

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How I accidentally quit Twitter and Facebook

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This is an old article from my Croatian blog. It would lose much in the translation, so it is reposted as-is. To spare you the effort of learning Croatian: it chronicles my adventures in trying to purchase and furnish an apartment, in a manner similar to Kafka's The Trial, except there's a happy end and I'm not a literary genius.

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