AllTrails is Centrally-Planned Centrally-Managed System Dangerous to Hikers

An interesting Bay Area article has taken AllTrails to task for being a heavily funded attempt to centralize and plan an economy, without investing in data integrity required to keep people safe.

I get a call from Meaghan Praznik, AllTrails’ head of communications. I ask her why my email led to an immediate change when the National Park Service’s previous outreach did not. She mostly doesn’t answer the question and instead talks about a new feature they’ll be debuting soon, which will apparently let park employees monitor and edit illegal shortcuts added to their 300,000 trails. (This does not seem like something park employees will have time to do.) “What I can say is we really do pride ourselves on offering the safest routes possible,” she says, after I ask her why they gave explicit directions to this incredibly dangerous shortcut. […] I ask her how big a “large team” is, and she says the San Francisco-based company employs more than 100 people, but most of them work on engineering and data integrity. “So you only have a fraction of 100 people trying to keep up with more than 300,000 trails?” I ask. “It is wild,” she replies. Not exactly the reply I was expecting, but it does lead to more questions: To what degree is the largest hiking app in the world responsible for the safety of hikers?

This of course begs why AllTrails exists when they could have just funded improvements to the National Park Service.

There is NO park-sanctioned “Alamere Falls Trail”
Please take note! Many social media posts, websites, and older (and some newer) guide books reference an “Alamere Falls Trail” (also sometimes referred to as a “shortcut to the falls”). The “Alamere Falls Trail” is NOT a maintained trail, and poses many hazards to off-trail hikers—crumbling and eroding cliffs, massive poison oak, ticks, and no cell phone service. Visitors who use this unmaintained trail may endanger themselves and rescuers, and inadvertently cause resource damage, such as trampling plants, which may lead to the death of the trampled plants. On an almost weekly basis, visitors get hurt scrambling down the heavily rutted route leading to the top of the falls or sliding down the crumbly cliff-face to get to the beach, sometimes requiring search and rescue teams to be mobilized. The National Park Service strongly advises visitors against using this unmaintained route. Please use the recommended routes described below to visit the falls.

While a public service like NPS is regulated as an official resource using distributed personnel dedicated to local expertise, AllTrails seems to bank on very low cost of centrally acquiring information from others yet avoiding accountability for being out of touch or lacking knowledge.

Danish Navy Intercepts Pirates, Kills Four

The US Naval Institute reports that ladders in a speedboat were one indicator that led to interception near Malaysia:

The ship was responding to reports of pirate activity and heading to the scene while sending it’s embarked Royal Danish Air Force MH-60R helicopter in advance to observe the area, according to a Thursday news release from the Danish Armed Forces. The helicopter sighted a speedboat that afternoon with eight men on board in the vicinity of merchant ships in the area and observed that the boat was carrying a number of piracy-associated tools, including ladders.

By the evening, Esbern Snare was close enough to launch rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs) carrying Danish naval special forces personnel and called on the boat to halt and permit boarding, the news release said. When the boat refused to respond to the call, warning shots were fired, with the pirates responding by firing directly at the personnel in the RHIBs. A brief firefight then ensued, in which no Danish personnel were hit but five pirates were shot, with four of them killed and one wounded. The motorboat sank after the firefight and the surviving four pirates and the bodies of the dead pirates were taken aboard the frigate, where the wounded pirate was given medical treatment. The release said that Denmark’s inter-ministerial working group will handle what will happen next to the pirates.

Unregulated seas and collapse of safe markets generally is the root cause of piracy in the modern age. Someone financed a speedboat and ladders, let alone weapons.

Language Pattern Analysis to Detect Social Network Attacks

I have updated our 2006 paper on language pattern analysis to detect social network attacks. Some minor formatting changes were needed, given the last time I generated the PDF was 2011. The original post is here.

Attacks by scammers appear to make sophisticated use of language ideology to abuse trust relationships. Language that indexes a social group allows perceived “authenticity” to be constructed in a way that breaks down a victims’ defenses — a variety of linguistic devices are used as attack tools.

NOT Everyone Says Data is the New Oil

Many times before now I’ve written and given talks about the subject of big data as an asset, and there are a LOT of people repeatedly saying data is not like oil.

  • Forbes: “Here’s Why Data Is Not The New Oil”
  • BBC: “Data is not the new oil”
  • Financial Times: “Data is not the new oil”
  • Harvard Business Review: “Big Data is Not the New Oil”
  • WeForum: “You may have heard data is the new oil. It’s not”
  • Wired: “No, Data Is Not the New Oil”

I say this again here because I still see events in 2021 claiming things like “everyone says data is the new oil.”

Everyone does NOT say it.

Data is logically very different than oil.

Bicycle Helmet Safety Ratings: Specialized Tactic 4 (MIPS) Comes Out on Top

Virginia Tech’s helmet test labs, started in 2018, have rated a particular Specialized design the safest for bicycling.

Cost: $110
Style: Mountain
Certifications: CPSC
Score: 8.6

It’s neither the most expensive nor the least fashionable. However, for half the cost of the best design, the Specialized Align II (MIPS) also received a five STAR rating with a close score of 9.6.

The STAR equation was originally developed to estimate the incidence of concussion that a college football player may experience while wearing a given helmet over the course of one
season… The bicycle STAR equation sums the exposure-weighted risks for each impact to generate a single representative concussion incidence value per helmet model. The predicted exposure (𝐸𝐸) is determined for each impact location (𝐿𝐿) and velocity (𝑉𝑉), while concussion risk (𝑅𝑅) is computed as a function of the average peak resultant linear acceleration (𝑎𝑎) and average peak resultant change in rotational velocity (𝜔𝜔) in each impact configuration.

the poetry of information security