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Issue 0013, February 2018

Sovryn Tech Newsletter


Greetings programs! And welcome to Issue 0013 of the Sovryn Tech Newsletter! See that picture above? On September 15, 2017, the already legendary Cassini spacecraft ended its valiant 13-year mission by performing a kamikaze dive into Saturn’s upper atmosphere. This new image released by NASA shows the exact spot where the Cassini craft was lost to us forever.

What’s particularly cool about this image is that Cassini took it just a few hours before it dove into the ringed planet (its entry point is indicated by the white oval). The spacecraft was about 394,000 miles (634,000 km) from Saturn at the time, and it shows the planet’s night side. The scene appears
 illuminated, because it was: Saturn’s extensive ring system reflects sunlight onto the planet’s night side. By the time Cassini plunged into the upper atmosphere, however, this particular area had rotated into daylight.

Before you move on to the articles, videos, and short fiction, take a few moments to enjoy this remarkable view of the Solar System’s infamous planet. Good things like this seem scarce these days—and who knows what horror the next click of your mouse might bring. While Cassini's time of astounding exploration is over, this amazing picture lives on for us to ponder and appreciate.

Okay, once again, you can now read the rest of the latest Sovryn Tech Newsletter. Enjoy!

-BBS
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THE 30-YEAR AI SCARE CYCLE


Ah, I am such a big fan of John C. Dvorak. I've literally been reading his tech journalism since I was a teenager. While I don't agree with him 100% on every little thing, I think more often than not he hits the nail on the head. Including his recent write-up for PC Magazine about artificial intelligence. He holds a pretty similar view to me, as I've stated on Sovryn Tech, that AI is far, far from being anything serious, and it may never be anything remotely like Skynet, at all. Take this doozy of a quote from JCD, for example:

"Currently, AI can barely do optical character recognition; I have yet to see text analysis worth a powder. Until AI can translate French to English flawlessly, I'm not buying any of it. Hitting 99 percent is not good enough, not in OCR or AI. I'm reminded of the airline that made the proud claim that 99 percent of all luggage got to its destination as promised. But that means three people on a plane with 300 passengers routinely lose their luggage. That's terrible."

Bingo. Along with myself, Jerry Kaplan, and others, the reality check is hopefully starting to set in. While I recognize the work of Nick Bostrom and others in this area, and have supreme respect for the late Marvin Minsky, the fact is that general artificial intelligence (as in, something that could be Skynet, or to others, the savior of humanity) has been promised to us every five years for decades now...and it never happens.

You should read the rest of JCD's write-up by clicking the button below, but my personal take on it is that there is a hype cycle simply to please investors. Too few people outside of these companies realize just how much rhetoric they're buying into that is really just propaganda for the venture capitalists. 
FULL STORY

THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE TO NOT OWN A SMARTPHONE IN 2018

 
I'll be honest, as much as I talk about relying more and more on my laptop computer than my smartphone, I don't know that I can totally make the leap to not having a smartphone. And believe me, I've tried in recent years. In particular, I tried a "dumb phone" model that at least had Facebook on it (back when I used that) in hopes that I could at least contact people on Facebook Messenger with it and not have to rely on the very real problems with SMS. It didn't work, mainly because the phone barely even had 2G for a cellular connection.

My biggest hope is that the newly announced (and talked about recently on Sovryn Tech) Signal Foundation will maybe come out with some kind of Signal hardware. Because if I had Signal at least on a "dumber phone" compared to a smartphone, I might be able to pull it off (while having a separate GPS device, too). It's a big might, though, I admit. At best, I think it's most practical to just severely lessen what you rely on smartphones for, and your usage of them overall.

But there are those that are already living without them, or never got on the smartphone bandwagon in the first place. Kathleen Davis is one such person. And in her story she has some pretty wild insights:

"But it’s more than just addiction and information overload [with smartphones]. In the rush to adopt and upgrade devices, we’ve collectively given up a lot–our privacy and data chief among them. Consider this recent video highlighting an average smartphone user whose GPS coordinates were shared with third parties 3,545 times over the course of a single week, based on permissions she gave in those user agreements no one reads."

Read her whole story. It's pretty wild
 stuff, and definitely makes you think twice about our relationship with these devies.
FULL STORY

DON'T USE VERO

 
There's a new social media platform that you just have to get on!

No, don't you fucking dare. But if you're on Instagram, you're probably being asked to. It's called "Vero," and it's bullshit (surprise, surprise). Billed effectively as an Instagram alternative--and that's key to understanding where this dark horse rode in from--just a couple of weeks ago it was one of the lowest ranked apps in the world, and not because it's new. It's actually been around since 2015. In February of 2018, however, it's now the #1 app in the world.

Why?

What do they call people that are only famous on Instagram? Insta-famous, or something? I know there's a term out there for them, but these Instagram-
inatti (thank you) are telling all of their followers to now follow them on Vero. And telling them this has launched the app to the top.

So why the migration (though it's not really a migration, more of an addition) away from Instagram? Because of Insta's algorithms. Those algorithms are keeping the Instagram-famous from reaching their followers with their bullshit products and bullshit antics.

I mean look, I like Instagram fine, but then I'm also not expecting to make money off of being on there. I like to share some inspirational art and other little things from time to time. The algorithmic control
on the platform doesn't really mean shit to me.

But for the Instagram-famous, it's life or death, and they want you to get on a platform where the algorithms no longer have
purchase. But that's the rub. It's not that Vero has any real advantages over Instragram for the average user...it just gives these numbskulls more opportunity to sell you bullshit. And right now--three years in--Vero still has not monetization model, and sooner or later they're just going to implant all the same stuff that the Instagram-famous complain about Instagram doing now. Again, it will just be done on Vero.

Don't fall for this nonsense. A new social network isn't going to make
your feel better. A new app isn't going to give you the life of your dreams. And these people on Instagram telling you to switch to Vero don't give a shit about your online experience or the ethics of the software and technology you're using.

Just go live your life, eyes facing forward instead of down at that goddamned screen of lies.
FULL STORY
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  • How to use VPNs.
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This is your no-nonsense guide to reclaiming your privacy and to begin using best practices for security. Written for beginners and experts alike!
Buy the Dark Android eBook

THE VIDEO DIMENSION

 
This is the section of the Sovryn Tech Newsletter where I share various videos from all kinds of sources. Videos of things that I've found either entertaining, informative, or even trailers of things to come...maybe even documentaries of the strange and unknown!
Documentary - Phase II - The Lost Enterprise
A rare glimpse into a Star Trek that never was! Most people forget the history that in the 1970's, Paramount wanted to create a fourth major television network, and a new Star Trek TV series was going to be its top show (decades before UPN would be a thing, though ironically, Star Trek would flagship that network as well...this time with the inimitable Star Trek: Voyager).

The show was
to be-called, or at least was internally called, Star Trek: Phase II, and William Shatner would return, along with other original cast members. Of note, however, Leonard Nimoy would not return to play Spock, and would instead be replaced by a new Vulcan character: Xon. Along with Lt. Ilia (who would still appear in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which Phase II would eventually become, unlike the character of Xon), and others, we were going to get served up with a redesigned Enterprise, revamped uniforms, technology, and more. A multitude of scripts were even written (some of which would end up getting used for Star Trek: The Next Generation, along with some character ideas).

It's an interesting piece of science fiction and Star Trek history to me, and this 12-minute documentary does a phenomenal job of covering what could have been. As I've said before when talking about Star Trek: Phase II, I sometimes imagine there is an alternate universe out there where this show is the biggest thing in history.
The Story of Tetris | Gaming Historian

A not so short documentary, this 1-hour long piece of video gaming historical masterfulness is a must watch for anyone interested in the history of video gaming...or Hell, really everyone should watch this. This is the remarkable story of one of the biggest games and franchises of all-time: Tetris.

The Gaming Historian knocks out of the park with this opus, telling a true story of global political, economic, and development intrigue that practically rivals a Mission: Impossible film...and even has what you could say is a good ending, with enduring friendships and happiness for all.

C'mon, you know you've played Tetris. Now it's time to find out just how you were able to.
"How To Treat Women Online" Sovryn Tech Patreon Excerpt

Something that I'm sure will surprise no one (and if you're a long time reader/subscriber to the Sovryn Tech Newsletter, you know better), I am not above sharing my own videos in the Video Dimension! The video above is actually an 8-minute excerpt from a Sovryn Tech Patreon-only episode with myself and Dr. Stephanie Murphy!

During a review--and the purpose of this episode--of the hentai mini-series Fencer of Minerva, I went on a little tirade (which will also surprise no one) that Stephanie so much enjoyed she wanted me to put it out there for free to the rest of the world (the entirety of the original episode was shy of an hour long). What's the tirade about? Well...what women seem to enjoy that men do on social media. You'll have to listen to figure it out! And become a Patron if you want to hear other wild content!
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THE SOVRYN TECH BOOK CLUB



The what?! Well, here by very recent and popular demand is the Sovryn Tech First University Book Club! Wait...doesn't everybody have a fucking book club? Yeah, it seems like it, and I find most of them annoying, but since so many Sovryn Tech Patrons asked for this, you're getting one from me, too, as a new feature in the Sovryn Tech Newsletter!

But understand, I don't expect you to follow along and read (or listen to) all of this at the same speed I do, and myself and the other members of the Sovryn Tech Cabal (my lovely co-hosts) may never talk about these books on air, but if you want to see what we're taking in on our
lesiure (or not-so-lesiure) time, below, every month, will be the books we've read for that month, or are in the middle of reading. Most likely, though, we'll have completely gone through it if we're going to even mention a book here.

So enjoy, turn your screens off, and flex your mental muscles for a journey in the literary world!

FICTION:

This Perfect Day by Ira Levin
Star Trek: Discovery - Drastic Measures by Dayton Ward
Metropolis by Thea Von Harbou
Alien: Covenant Origins by Alan Dean Foster
The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent
Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
Zero-G: Book1 by William Shatner
Area X (The Southern Reach Trilogy,
Annhiliation) by Jeff VanderMeer
Dune by Frank Herbert
Batman: Knightfall by Dennis O'Neil
Paris in the Twentieth Century by Jules Verne

NON-FICTION:

How To Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking
The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
The Pluto Files by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Tantric Jesus by James Hughes Reho
The Empath's Survival Guide by Judith Orloff


GET READING!
 

SOVRYN TECH T-SHIRTS, MUGS, AND STICKERS!


 
It's true! You can now get Sovryn Tech t-shirts! But now there's not just the shirt with the retro Sovryn Tech logo on it, there's also the first gear from Sovryn Tech First University...STFU!

Available in sizes S-5XL, as well as in unisex t-shirt and women's shirt styles, you only get one color choice: triple-black, baby! But then, what other colors are there, really?

Also available are Sovryn Tech mugs with the same design, a hoodie, and even stickers! Don't miss out on getting some of the coolest swag in the universe! All in our new Sovryn Tech Gear store!
 
The Sovryn Tech Merchandise Store Page: http://store.sovryntech.com
 

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A SMOL TALE FROM THE SOVRYN UNIVERSE

"The Villa"
by Brian Sovryn

 
  Dr. Stephanie Murphy pulled down her sunglasses slightly and lifted her head from the pillow on the recliner she was sunning in on the side of the pool, and stared at Agent Sovryn in shock, “You’re telling me the IEF gave you this whole villa? On the island Icaria? As in…it’s yours?”

  Brian Sovryn whipped his head to get some of the blinding wetness from his face after submerging himself in the crystal-clear, aqua-water filled, rectangular pool, getting out a, “Yes, indeed,” as he rubbed his nose. He then reached to touch the ancient masonry work that encapsulated the pool, and briefly looked around at the Romanesque columns and shrubbery encircling where he and the other ladies were enjoying some sun. “I told you there would be a lot of perks to offloading our organization to the Intergalactic Espionage Foundation. Not only does the IEF give actual vacation time, they even give you the vacation spot. Don’t tell me you’re complaining…”

  The raven-haired woman lying next to Stephanie with her back turned to the sunlight, her large breasts holding her upper body up as much as the pillow she rested her arms on mumbled, “I’m not complaining. I feel right at home.”

  Stephanie rolled her eyes with a mock laugh, “Har. Har. Of
 course you do, Elektra. You’re Greek! And this is a Greek island!”

  To the other side of Stephanie, the lithe legs of Dr. Goldblossom shifted as she voiced her own opinion, “I don’t know, Stephanie, I could really get used to this. The Antarctica Base certainly has its advantages, but it doesn’t have this view…or this warmth. And hey, we even have a dock for the G-9155.”

  “You and your vehicles, Miriam,” Stephanie said, shaking her head which quickly turned into a smile. “I’m not complaining, Brian, I just find it kind of hard to believe.”

  Brian responded with mock disbelief, “That the IEF recognizes the talent of you amazing women and wants to bring us onboard? Please.” Agent Sovryn hopped out of the pool and sat on the edge of it, relaxing at the feet of the three women before him. He smiled at the sight of them relaxing after all they had been through, but that thought then brought on a somber feeling for him. “After our last…encounter…with the Nazis, I figured it was all over. Done. We beat the bad guys. Saved civilization back to the point that it was…for whatever that’s worth. But then Nostra forms out of the remnants of all that, threatening everything all over again,” he breathed, pausing and looking around the villa they now inhabited, “and I knew this wasn’t something we could take care of alone. Too many people have gone. Too many timelines…too many universes…” After another pause, his smile returned, “But now, we’re a team that’s just a part of a larger organization. And with it maybe we can finally make a real dent against authoritarianism, stopping Nostra.” Brian then looked over at Dr. Goldblossom with a grin, “And have fun and take vacations in some of our favorite spots in the world while we’re at it.”

  Dr. Goldblossom returned his grin with her own, then lifted her hand and crooked her finger, motioning for him to come over to her. Brian got up and hovered over her, lowering his lips to hers and kissing her deeply.

  “Miriam,” Stephanie exclaimed, and gently smacked the woman’s leg next to her in the middle of the lip lock. “You two aren’t having any fun without me!”

  The woman on the other side of Stephanie, Elektra, quickly got up and started heading indoors, “Oh I’m not going to be in
any orgy without showering first. I know how these things always go, especially with you three.” Before Dr. Elektra Lesbos could even get to the door to the inside of the villa, she turned to see Dr. Goldblossom, Stephanie, and Agent Sovryn already completely nude, with Dr. Goldblossom on all fours on one of the recliners by the pool. Elektra could see the grin still on Miriam’s face as Brian got behind her and Stephanie moved in front of her.

  Elektra, feeling fortunate that the villa’s courtyard was completely walled-in, shook her head, sighed, and crossed her arms over her bare chest. She then started walking back towards her three, sex-crazed comrades feeling her own irresistible urge, throwing up her hands, and saying to no one but herself, “How do we ever get anything done?”

 
END
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QUOTE OF THE MONTH

"Poets, poetry, and music should be the basis of all education and anarchism."

~Eisner
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