13 March 2022

Useful websites (via TikTok)

  • MyBib - Citation generator
  • Sci Hub - Get free access to paywalled papers

How is JK Rowling's blog on sex and gender transphobic?

 In June 2020 JK Rowling wrote this: J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues

So what's wrong with it?

  1. Her main point is that because she was abused once by a man in a toilet, no men can be trusted. She's actually  following the slippery slope fallacy: not all men are abusers
    1. Slippery slope fallacy explained: TED-Ed
  2. It's far less likely than trans women will attack women than men, even though Jo repeatedly points out about trans women using changing rooms and toilets.
    1. Trans people are "so much more scared of you than you are of us" - TED
  3. She basically ignores the concerns of trans people
    1. In the whole reported LGBT+ community, trans people suffer the most and commit suicide the most compared to any other group - National LGBT Survey 2018 
    2. Trans people also attacked just for being themselves, in public, in the workplace, at home - literally everywhere. And it's getting worse - Transgender Equality
    3. Gender dysphoria is the reason trans people exist - it is a known and proven medical condition where the mind's version of things (gender) and the body (sex) don't line up (NHS). Trans people's thoughts stem from mild unsatisfaction to committing suicide over it. Some have even performed surgery on themselves over how desperate they are for their body to match their gender. Imagine that - being so disgusted or out of touch with your own body that self-harm with intent. Trans people are constantly reminded about how ingrained gender is in society - pronouns, toilets, clothing, and filling out forms are all triggers that make trans people think of who they aren't. (YouTube) (TEDx)
    4. Science shows that brain structure difference aligns with the gender people perceive themselves to be (PMC)
    5. Being trans is not a choice, and therefore, trans people deserve equity and the chance to live their lives as their authentic selves - everyone deserves the right to be authentic about who they are. Even if that means people putting someone's preferred gender and pronouns first over their biological sex.
    6. There are other people in the LGBT+ community who aren't trans but also don't identify as a specific gender - they don't "feel" male or female. The most common gender instead is "non-binary".
    7. Trans people are not trying to erase sex or gender, or bring about the "erosion of women’s and girl’s rights" they ultimately just want to be accepted for who they are. Trans people want to feel included, and there is no harm in including trans people to society or language.
    8. Misgendering people is a form of violence as it causes physical pain - Healthline
    9. The best way to be inclusive of trans people is not to question them, but to listen, and accept them for who they are. Rather than be gender critical or trans exclusive, what trans people need right now is support. (Me)
  4. She supports the views of others who are transphobic
    1. She quotes Maya Forstater who is gender critical - BBC. I personally disagree with the court's decision on protecting beliefs.
    2. She followed Magdalen Berns, another gender critical person, who thinks that being trans is a fetish, rather than what it actually is, which is a medical condition - YouTube
    3. Related transphobes:
      1. Germaine Greer
      2. Graham Linehan
      3. Julie Bindel (Guardian)
      4. Lisa Littman
  5. She says she's "followed the discourse", but she's only ever discussed her side of the issue, especially when it comes to her retweets
  6. She debates the term TERF even though it's established that it's about trans exclusion and therefore about her
  7. She continues to make transphobic comments and brings up irrelevant points:
    1. "a lot of people in positions of power really need to grow a pair"
    2. When she says her "five reasons" that justify her reasoning to be an expert on trans issues:
      1. her first point (she owns a charity) is just her explaining how charitable she is to women's causes, but mentions nothing about trans people
      2. her second point (she was previously a teacher) is just pointing out how charitable she is
      3. her third point (she's a writer) is her just stating she's a good author
      4. her fourth point is saying she's worried about transitioning and transitioning back
        1. why is it her concern what people do with their bodies?
        2. She's also generalising problems based on a small number of cases, and doesn't provide evidence to back up her claims. The only evidence she's cherry-picked is basically that girls are effectively being peer pressured to transition because of the pressures women have against privileged men, and this is obviously a generalisation and not the rule, and does not mean that discrimination of women leads to transitioning.
        3. She is right about "a person’s gender identity is innate, like sexual orientation", which it is.
        4. She then generalises again, saying "The argument of many current trans activists is that if you don’t let a gender dysphoric teenager transition, they will kill themselves." This is a false generalisation - as stated in the National LGBT Survey 2018, trans people have a lower satisfaction, and yes, they do commit suicide as stated, but that does not mean all of them do, and trans activists don't mean that either.
        5. She then proceeds to conflate gender dysphoria with other mental conditions such as "anxiety, dissociation, eating disorders, self-harm and self-hatred" and jokes that she might be trans for the next 3 paragraphs.
        6. Her next point is about desistance: "between 60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria". She doesn't take into account that the studies have been discredited or that if being transgender "persists during puberty and into adolescence, it is very likely permanent" (Wikipedia) (KQED). She hasn't taken the full picture into account.
        7. She goes on to claim that she has "met some trans people", she picks out a single example with anecdotal evidence, which is a logical fallacy.
        8. She then goes on to argue in favour of "rigorous process of evaluation, psychotherapy and staged transformation" just so that "A man ... may now ... be woman in the sight of the law". How exactly does this affect her personally?
    3. She then goes on to conflate sexists with trans activists as being generalised discriminators of women (at: "We’re living through the most misogynistic period...")
  8. She basically supports "importance of biological sex" over gender, but as discussed, when it comes to trans and non-binary people, their sex is not more important over their gender. Why is it important to put sex over gender?
    1. Medical reasons - I think that's a completely valid reason, but does it have to be public? No
    2. Confusion over whether you should be attracted or not - Why should the sex interests of others decide whether trans people can use non-binary pronouns, toilets? How does it even affect you, personally? Does it make you uncomfortable of your own gender? Does it lessen your own gender in any way? No, it doesn't. Trans people are not out to "confuse" you or "trick" you into being attracted to them, trans people just want to be treated like normal people. And if you are attracted to them, you have to ask yourself, what is your sexuality? There's nothing wrong with being attracted to trans people, even if they haven't had surgery. Not all attraction is sexual either, there is also romantic and platonic attraction which is separate to sexual attraction and they don't have to overlap.
    3. There is a lot of toxic masculinity in the world. Straight white men are those most privileged group of people, and women are disproportionately abused by men including domestic violence, lower pay, treated with less respect, and not given the same opportunities. Straight men are stereotypically aggressive compared to other groups, and some people don't want to associate themselves with masculinity. Note that we have many biases around sex and gender as well. - TED
    4. When it comes to boys and girls, in the example of toys, there are plenty of gender-neutral toys so it's not accurate to say that boys and girls prefer gendered toys outright. (Me)
    5. One day, we should be able to reach a point where labels are not needed at all, where everyone is accepted equally regardless of their sexuality or gender and considered normal in everyone's eyes universally. Until then, labels are necessary to support others. (Me)
    6. We may have an instinct to determine someone's sex when we meet them, and we may be programmed to put everything into neat little boxes, but we have to learn to look past that. Ask yourself: Why does it matter to you what someone's sex is? - TEDx
  9. There is more than one sex, and more than one gender
    1. Sex determination is a spectrum - Scientific American
    2. Our language and mindset already supports non-binary. We already use "they" and "them" when we don't know someone's gender, like a placeholder, and so they are the most inclusive terms - Tom Scott (and also me)
  10. She offers no other alternative solutions to the problem, instead basically coming to the conclusion that trans people don't deserve the right to identify as the gender they say they are at all, including but not limited to gender affirming certificates that support a birth certificate, using toilets that match their gender, or using pronouns
  11. She is not an expert on trans matters, but effectively acts as if she knows everything, and that imbues her with power in her words because of how famous she is. She doesn't quote or refer to a single trans-inclusive entity in this blog or any of her tweets, instead coming up with everything on her own terms and understanding. She cherry-picks only views that support her own. If you want to understand trans people, you need to give trans people the platform and hear what they have to say.
  12. JK Rowling has so much influence, but uses it poorly. When she could be spreading messages of love, respect, kindness and compassion through inclusivity, or donating to charities, or doing literally anything else, or just saying nothing at all instead of spreading hatred, she seeks to discredit trans people and their identities and continues to do so to this day to prove her point. 
  13. She is relentless and is refusing to listen to the voice of reason, and has created an echo chamber where she is ignoring the voices of trans-inclusive supporters.
  14. Her other tweets
    1. With my reply  - https://twitter.com/rjc_uk/status/1470410076104101901 


Controversial topics explained

 Topics I will be covering in upcoming blogs, keen to hear more suggestions.

  1. How is JK Rowling's blog on sex and gender transphobic?
  2. Can there be a female or a black James Bond?
  3. Topics that Kurzgesagt have already covered well:
    1. Coronavirus
    2. Vaccines
    3. Brexit
    4. Universal Basic Income
    5. Meat
    6. Drugs
    7. Climate change
    8. Nuclear energy
    9. GMO
  4. Elon Musk
  5. Black Lives Matter: questioning black people even when it might seem innocent
  6. Explanation of terms like Black Lives Matter and Trans Lives Matter
  7. Christianity/religion
There are also some proposals to discuss:
  1. Importance of education: What's wrong with it, what should it look like, and what will the benefits be?
  2. How would non-partisan politics work and still be democratic?

14 December 2021

Android settings for performance, security and privacy

  1.  Network & internet
    1. Internet
      1. SIM card
        1. Roaming - Off (unless your contract is covered for roaming)
        2. Data warning & limit - set to cap at your contract
        3. Allow 2G - Off
      2. Network preferences
        1. Turn on Wi-Fi automatically - Off
        2. Notify for public networks - Off
    2. Airplane mode - On (when you have Wi-Fi Calling enabled. Texts and calls will still come through.)
    3. Hotspot & tethering - Off
    4. Data Saver - On
    5. VPN - Off (when using whole-LAN VPN or a VPN app instead)
    6. Private DNS - Automatic, unless you have a preference
    7. Adaptive connectivity - Off
  2. Connected devices
    1. Connection preferences
      1. Bluetooth - Off when not in use
      2. NFC - Off when not in use
      3. Nearby Share - Off
  3. Apps
    1. All apps
      1. For each app, change the settings for:
        1. Notifications - Off
        2. Mobile data & Wi-Fi
          1. Background data - Off (except for messaging apps)
          2. Unrestricted data usage - Off (except for messaging apps)
        3. Battery - Restricted (Optimized for messaging apps only)
        4. Remove permissions and free up space - On
        5. Install unknown apps - Not allowed
  4. Notifications
    1. Bubbles - Off
    2. Notifications on lock screen - Don't show any notifications
    3. Do Not Disturb
      1. Schedules
        1. Sleeping - On (12PM - 7AM)
    4. Wireless emergency alerts - Allow alerts (all enabled)
    5. Enhanced notifications - On
  5. Battery
    1. Battery Saver - On
    2. Adaptive preferences - Adaptive Battery - On
    3. Battery percentage - On
  6. Sound & vibration
    1. Set to vibration only
    2. Vibration & haptics
      1. Vibrate for calls - Always vibrate
      2. Ring vibration - On
      3. Notification vibration - Off
    3. Dial pad tones - Off
    4. Screen locking sound - Off
    5. Charging sounds and vibration - Off
    6. Touch sounds - Off
    7. Touch feedback - Off
  7. Display
    1. Adaptive brightness - On
    2. Lock screen
      1. Privacy - Show sensitive content only when unlocked
      2. Show wallet - Off (if unused)
      3. Show device controls - Off
      4. Now playing - Off
      5. Always show time and info - Off
      6. Tap to check phone - Off
      7. Lift to check phone - Off
      8. Wake screen for notifications - Off
    3. Screen timeout - 5 minutes
    4. Dark theme - On
      1. Schedule - Turns on from sunset to sunrise
    5. Night Light - On (10PM - 7AM)
    6. Auto-rotate screen - Off
    7. Smooth display - Off
    8. Increase touch sensitivity - Off (Unless using a screen protector)
    9. Screen saver - Off
  8. Accessibility
    1. Extra dim - On
    2. Text and display - Remove animations - On
  9. Security
    1. Screen lock - Password
    2. Device admin apps - No active apps (Unless required by antivirus etc)
    3. SIM card lock settings - Lock SIM card - Off
    4. App pinning - On (Familiarise with using when letting someone borrow your phone)
  10. Privacy
    1. Show passwords - Off
    2. Notifications on lock screen - Don't show notifications at all
    3. Autofill with Google - Off (Use a password manager app instead such as KeePass)
    4. Ads - Opt out of Ads Personalization - On
    5. Usage & diagnostics - Off
  11. Location - Off (only use when needed)
    1. Location services
      1. Wi-Fi scanning - Off
      2. Bluetooth scanning - Off
  12. Safety & emergency
    1. Emergency information - Fill out
    2. Emergency SOS - On (Familiarise with usage)
    3. Emergency Location Service - On
  13. Passwords & accounts - Don't use Google
  14. System
    1. Gestures
      1. Quickly open camera - On
      2. System navigation - 3-button navigation
      3. Press and hold power button - Hold for Assistant - Off
    2. Backup - Back up to Google Drive - On (if you trust Google and make backups of your Google account, Off if you have a different backup solution)
  15. About
    1. Take a screenshot of your IMEI

26 May 2021

Antivirus / Internet security products reviewed

 I've done technical tests of AV products in previous blogs, but this one is of my personal experience.

  1. Norton - generally slow
  2. BitDefender - good, but monumentally performance degrading, and features don't always work as advertised
  3. Avast - has always caused BSODs because of the network filter driver
  4. AVG - loaded with advertisements - do not recommend
  5. ESET - very lightweight load wet performant. High granular control esp over the firewall which does not interfere. Brower sandbox.
  6. McAfee - bloated, fragmented, slowly updated, archaic
  7. Kaspersky - one of the best, but no longer trusted by UK or US governments, and dropped by Barclays
  8. Webroot - all scanning is done online similar to how VirusTotal operates - so useless if there is no internet connection
  9. F-Secure - not bad
  10. Windows Defender - very basic
  11. Malwarebytes - poor detection
  12. Firewall products
    1. Glasswire - blocks rather than leaves requests pending

Not tried:
  • Trend Micro
  • Panda
  • Avira
  • Bulldog

6 February 2021

Broadband providers reviewed

If going for a new connection I'd recommend going to Topcashback, Quidco, Hotukdeals or Compare the Meerkat for some very good deals and check the reviews.

Rated best to worst:

Hyperoptic: Excellent speeds and very good customer service

Zen: best service, very rarely drops out, great router, just initially pricey and may include hidden fees or different prices on the phone to their website.

Plusnet: Good but regular disconnections and waited a month just for them to cancel an installation

BT: Most of the time okay but a nightmare when you have problems

Virgin: Dropouts once a month and speeds aren't as advertised. They may still be oversubscribed.

Sky: Avoid, many dropouts, bills doubling in price for no reason

TalkTalk:  From one of my neighbor's experiences 10 years ago I would say no, but maybe things have changed since.

Take a pinch of salt with any reviews site:

https://uk.trustpilot.com/

8 January 2021

Predictions

 Here are some predictions with guesses on years.

2021 Magnetic hangers

22 Intel releases ARM processors

23 First Earthbound city to city SpaceX flights

24 Prince Charles dies. First female US President.

25 David Attenborough dies

26 Queen Elizabeth II dies

27 Apple Car released, PS6 and Xbox 2 released

28 iPhone 20 released. Half Life 3 announced

29 Donald Trump dies

30 First people on Mars

31 Russia cuts themselves off from the internet for 3 months

32 Drones available for delivery

33 PS7 and Xbox 3 released

34 Lab grown burgers available on the market

35 VR affordable to most, Some watch can detect seizures before they happen

36 Hydrogen fuel cells used for 10% of transport

37 Large Hadron Collider finds new particle

38 AI replaces nearly all telemarketing

39 Baron Trump runs for presidency

40 Electric cars overtake diesel and petrol cars

41 PS8 and Xbox Infinity relased

42 Smart beds

43 Cure for Alzheimer's/Dementia

44 Cure for most cancers

45 Self driving cars are standard. The Matrix movies are rebooted

46 Los Angeles earthquake of 9.7

47 All coral reefs destroyed

48 PS9 and Xbox Infinity 2 released. Final Gorillaz album released

49 Asteroid comes very clos e to earth

50 Kim Jong-Un dies

51 Renewable energy makes up 50% of all UK power

52 HIV eradicated using CRISPR

53 Brain interfaces available on public health

54 Coal runs out

55 Most homes are smart houses

56 New element discovered

57 Tigers go extinct

58 Sony acquired by Microsoft, releases Playbox 1

59 Hurricane Sandy makes Florida unrecognisable

60 Oil runs out

61 Fibre networks nationalised

62 Heatwave in Spain kills 3 million

63 First designer baby born

64 Nuclear fusion power station in China explodes killing 60 million people

65 Population reaches 10 billion

66 The Internet v2.0 proposed

67 First people head to outer solar system

68 Planet of the apes reboot

69 Plastic recycling using enzymes can be done from home

70 Natural gas runs out

71 King William dies

72 First robots used all all purpose home assistants for cooking, cleaning, DIY

73 3D printable organs 

74 Polar ice caps are mere fragments

75 AI assistants are standard use in government

76 Wireless power in homes is standard

77 Nanobots widely available for killing viruses, bacteria, cancer cells

78 HS5 completed

79 First successful brain transplant

80 Universal basic income in at least 25% of countries

81 AI assistants help with most household tasks and have unique payables personalities like in 'Her'

82 Avengers movies reboot

83 Telomeres successful extended leading to an extra 40-50 year life span

84 Millennium Dome roof has to be replaced

85 VR sex

86 Evidence of Atlantis found

87 Hoverboards

88 Mega spiders

89 WW3 

90 Fission reactors achieve 10% efficiency

91 Brain of a 5 year old running in a computer simulation

92 Talking pets

93 Enzyme consumption replaces cremation and burial

94 Flying cars

95 Historical figures cloned from DNA

96 First robot and human marriage

97 Phones are dropped in support of AR projections through brain interface

98 Probes at edge of the solar system

99 COVID-52 and all previous iterations eradicated

2100 First 3D printed flying car




16 September 2020

Doctor Who Adventure Games

If you have a copy of the original installers for the Doctor Who Adventure Games (contact me on the form at the bottom of the page if you want them), you'll find out that they will fail to run with an error message, because they are validating them against the Doctor Who BBC website, and they were taken down due to a licensing issue with the developer.

However, it's not too hard to remove the validation on the underlying installer's code so that you can always run them.

Some things to be aware of:

A. The installers are partially cumulative updates on top of one another - meaning that by the fourth episode, a lot of the code in the previous versions was updated. The installer automatically replaces any old files based on their date - whatever is older automatically gets replaced with the latest version. The order is as follows:

1. City of the Daleks

2. Blood of the Cybermen

3. TARDIS

4. Shadows of the Vashta Nerada

5. The Gunpowder Plot (has its own launcher so can be done separately)

B. The Steam versions appear to put a valid keyfile.txt in the installer so that the games can be run and skip the validation entirely. It might be unique to each person's copy. I've not tried running it without Steam installed. Some other code was updated in the Steam version to add achievements, alongside general map and audio updates, so you won't want any of the achievement code if you're using these versions.


Here's a summary of the changes made:

1. Extract the EXE file with an InnoSetup extractor such as UniExtract

2. Using Resource Hacker, or a hex editor, you'll need to edit the file DoctorWho_Pc.exe as per the following screenshot. By changing the JNZ (Jump if not zero) to a JMP (always jump) - explained here, you can skip over the code that performs the validation. Here I am editing version 4.0 of the file which was in the fourth episode, Shadows of the Vashta Nerada. You can use this version with the three others without issue.







3. You need to create the file keyfile.txt inside the {app} folder, and it's just an empty file.

4. You need to edit the install_script.iss to not copy the InstallValidator.exe file, and instead copy the keyfile.txt




5. So to summarise the changes needed. The Output exe is created in the next step.




6. Next, you need to use Inno Setup Compiler to open the install_script.iss and compile the binary (Build > Compile). The output is the .exe file as above.

7. Rinse and repeat for all 5 of the installers. I'd recommend replacing the file DoctorWho_Pc.exe in each of the installers you recompile so that all of them can be installed. Note that The Gunpowder Plot uses a different EXE entirely so the hex edit will have to be reproduced for just that one.

6 August 2020

Keeping your home network secure

  1. Privacy
    1. Use a VPN that isn't part of 5/9/14 eyes, has unlimited data, doesn't log you https://www.vpn.com/guide/spreadsheet/
    2. Reduce Microsoft telemetry with O&O ShutUp - and why
    3. Pi-hole
  2. Updates
    1. OS
    2. Apps, firmware, drivers
  3. Credentials
    1. Passphrases instead of passwords, or random passwords and a password manager
    2. Unique passwords for everything - haveibeenpwned.com
    3. Enable 2FA on all accounts
    4. Change default passwords on all IoT devices including the router
  4. Router
    1. Move to WPA3 and change and hide your SSID so your model of router isn't publically available and it can't be tracked to your name. Disable older methods (be exclusive, not inclusive)
    2. Disable WPS, UPnP, remote management, port sharing, update the router or move to one with granular control like creating a second network for IoT devices
    3. Disable DHCP and use static addresses and known MACs, and change the IP range from 192.168.xxx.xxx
    4. If feasible, turn off the just the WiFi when you're not in so there is less chance of attack. Keep anything critical on LAN connections.
    5. When travelling, take a travel router with you, and/or use an SSH tunnel to your home address (the Firewalla has the option of a VPN server)
  5. Services
    1. Disable remote access
    2. Disable Samba v1
    3. Secure DNS
    4. Disable bluetooth and any listening devices e.g. Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri
    5. Port scanner e.g. nmap (use internally and externally) - prefer instead of website port scanners
  6. Internet
    1. Use an internet security product rather than just antivirus (e.g. sandboxed browsers for banking, phishing filter, granular control of incoming and outgoing apps)
      1. https://rjcuk.blogspot.com/2021/05/antivirus-internet-security-products.html
    2. Use more than one AV product or set of tools
    3. On any downloads, check SHAs where possible and use VirusTotal, enable SmartScreen, run apps in sandboxes where preferable
    4. Setup a honeypot
    5. Network/IP/LAN monitors and scans including scanning from the internet for open ports
  7. Isolation
    1. Use VMs, containers or sandboxes (Windows 10 has one now)
    2. Wipe and reinstall your machine regularly
      1. Attendees of Black Hat conferences go as far as to dump their laptops afterwards
      2. If you're going to the US, use burner equipment - why
      3. Elliot in Mr Robot uses the microwave, but I don't recommend it - more advice
    3. Encrypt your HDD/SSD
    4. Route all traffic through a local gateway/proxy e.g. Raspberry Pi
      1. Squid proxy for just HTTP/S
    5. Firewall e.g. Firewalla
    6. Use a guest network for IoT devices and friends
  8. Physical security
    1. Turn things off when not at home
    2. Don't leave any devices "on display" - lock them away when not using them
    3. Scheduled offsite backups - encrypt the data itself (some tools can provide this) e.g. cloud
    4. Cameras e.g. Ring. Either keep wireless ones on a separate guest network, or get wired ones instead.
      1. You could use Powerline but it doesn't work for everyone and your electrical grid may be shared with your neighbours.
  9. Use Linux
  10. Other general advice
    1. Online safety
    2. Cyber aware
  11. Security hardware
    1. linitx.com
    2. ebuyer.com
    3. novatech.com