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As the messaging app Telegram continues to try to evade Russian authorities by switching up its IP addresses, Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor (RKN) has continued its game of whack-a-mole to try to lock it down by knocking out complete swathes of IP address. The resulting chase how now ballooned to nearly 19 million IP addresses at the time of writing, as tracked by unofficial RKN observer RKNSHOWTIME (updated on a Telegram channel with stats accessible on the web via Phil Kulin’s site).
As a result, there have been a number of high-profile services also knocked oput in the crossfire, with people in Russia reporting dozens of sites affected including Twitch, Slack, Soundcloud, Viber, Spotify, Fifa, Nintendo, as well as Amazon and Google. (A full list of nearly forty addresses is listed below.)
What’s notable is that Google and Amazon themselves seem still not to be buckling under pressure. As we reported earlier this week, a similar — but far smaller — instance happened in the case of Zello, which had also devised a technique to hop around IP addresses when its own IP addresses were shut down by Russian regulators.
Zello’s circumventing lasted for nearly a year, until it seemed the regulator started to use a more blanket approach of blocking entire subnets — a move that ultimately led to Google and Amazon asking Zello to cease its activities.
After that, Zello’s main access point for its Russian users was via VPN proxies — one of the key ways that users in one country can effectively appear as if they are in another, allowing them to circumvent geoblocking and geofencing, either by the companies themselves, or those that have been banned by a state.
It’s important to note that the domain fronting that Google is in the process of shutting down is not the same as IP hopping — although, more generally, it will mean that there is now one less route for those globally whose traffic is getting blocked through censorship to wiggle around that. The IP hopping that has led to 19 million addresses getting blocked in Russia is another kind of circumvention. (I’m pointing this out because several people I’ve spoken to assumed they were the same.)
Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder and CEO, has made several public calls on Telegram and also third-party sites like Twitter to praise how steadfast the big internet companies have been. And others like the ACLU have also waded into the story to call on Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft to hold strong and continue to allow Telegram to IP hop.
But what could happen next?
I’ve contacted Google, Amazon and Telegram now several times to ask this question and for more details on what is going on. As of yet I’ve had no replies. However, Alexey Gavrilov, the CTO and founder of Zello, provided a little more potential insight:
He said that ultimately they might ask Telegram to stop — something that might become increasingly hard not to do as more services get affected — and if that doesn’t work they can suspend Telegram’s account.
“Each cloud provider has provisions, which let them do it if your use interferes with other customers using their service,” Gavrilov notes. “The interpretation of this rule may be not trivial in case when the harm is caused by third party (i.e RKN in this case) so I think there are some legal risks for Amazon / Google. Plus that would likely cause a PR issue for them.”
Another question is whether there are bigger fish to fry in this story. Some have floated the idea that just as Zello preceded Telegram, RKN’s battles with the latter might lead to how it negotiates with Facebook.
As we have reported before, Facebook notably has never moved to house Russian Facebook data in Russia. Local hosting has been one of the key requirements that the regulator has enforced against a number of other companies as part of its “data protection” rules, and over the last couple of years while some high-profile companies have run afoul of the these regulations, others (including Apple and Google) have reportedly complied.
Regardless, there’s been one ironic silver lining in this story. Since RKN shifted its focus to waging a war on Telegram, Gavrilov tells me that Zello service has been restored in Russia. Here’s to weathering the storm.
Bill Moore, Zello’s CEO, believes that there is a fight to keep fighting here. “We are small,” he said. “Technology leaders like Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook can cooperate with each other to avoid becoming a tool governments use to control speech. We hope Amazon and Google stay firm even if the short term cost is real.”
We’ll update this post as and when we get responses from the big players. A more complete list of sites that people have reported as affected by the 19 million address block is below, via Telegram channel Нецифровая экономика (“Non-digital economy”). Some of these have been disputed, so take this with a grain of salt:
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If you had to pack all your conversion wisdom and power into one tiny space, it would be the call to action button. It’s amazing how a single button can make or break an online business. I believe there’s no such thing as a successful marketing effort unless there’s a successful CTA. That’s why I’ve spent a lot of time and money making sure that my call-to-action buttons are as optimized as possible. I’ve co-founded two businesses and helped thousands of entrepreneurs, so I know how important conversions are. And more importantly, I know how the call-to-action button plays into…
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Facebook has posted a job opening looking for an expert in ASIC and FPGA, two custom silicon designs that companies can gear toward specific use cases — particularly in machine learning and artificial intelligence.
There’s been a lot of speculation in the valley as to what Facebook’s interpretation of custom silicon might be, especially as it looks to optimize its machine learning tools — something that CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to as a potential solution for identifying misinformation on Facebook using AI. The whispers of Facebook’s customized hardware range depending on who you talk to, but generally center around operating on the massive graph Facebook possesses around personal data. Most in the industry speculate that it’s being optimized for Caffe2, an AI infrastructure deployed at Facebook, that would help it tackle those kinds of complex problems.
FPGA is designed to be a more flexible and modular design, which is being championed by Intel as a way to offer the ability to adapt to a changing machine learning-driven landscape. The downside that’s commonly cited when referring to FPGA is that it is a niche piece of hardware that is complex to calibrate and modify, as well as expensive, making it less of a cover-all solution for machine learning projects. ASIC is similarly a customized piece of silicon that a company can gear toward something specific, like mining cryptocurrency.
Facebook’s director of AI research tweeted about the job posting this morning, noting that he previously worked in chip design:
While the whispers grow louder and louder about Facebook’s potential hardware efforts, this does seem to serve as at least another partial data point that the company is looking to dive deep into custom hardware to deal with its AI problems. That would mostly exist on the server side, though Facebook is looking into other devices like a smart speaker. Given the immense amount of data Facebook has, it would make sense that the company would look into customized hardware rather than use off-the-shelf components like those from Nvidia.
(The wildest rumor we’ve heard about Facebook’s approach is that it’s a diurnal system, flipping between machine training and inference depending on the time of day and whether people are, well, asleep in that region.)
Most of the other large players have found themselves looking into their own customized hardware. Google has its TPU for its own operations, while Amazon is also reportedly working on chips for both training and inference. Apple, too, is reportedly working on its own silicon, which could potentially rip Intel out of its line of computers. Microsoft is also diving into FPGA as a potential approach for machine learning problems.
Still, that it’s looking into ASIC and FPGA does seem to be just that — dipping toes into the water for FPGA and ASIC. Nvidia has a lot of control over the AI space with its GPU technology, which it can optimize for popular AI frameworks like TensorFlow. And there are also a large number of very well-funded startups exploring customized AI hardware, including Cerebras Systems, SambaNova Systems, Mythic, and Graphcore (and that isn’t even getting into the large amount of activity coming out of China). So there are, to be sure, a lot of different interpretations as to what this looks like.
One significant problem Facebook may face is that this job opening may just sit up in perpetuity. Another common criticism of FPGA as a solution is that it is hard to find developers that specialize in FPGA. While these kinds of problems are becoming much more interesting, it’s not clear if this is more of an experiment than Facebook’s full all-in on custom hardware for its operations.
But nonetheless, this seems like more confirmation of Facebook’s custom hardware ambitions, and another piece of validation that Facebook’s data set is becoming so increasingly large that if it hopes to tackle complex AI problems like misinformation, it’s going to have to figure out how to create some kind of specialized hardware to actually deal with it.
A representative from Facebook did not yet return a request for comment.
It’s the end of the day, your stomach is in knots, your neck is cramped, and your jaw is sore from clenching your teeth. It’s safe to say stress has taken hold, and it seems there’s nothing you can do at this point to take the edge off other than waking up to a new day.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to reduce stress, many of which require only five minutes a day. All are research-backed, and some have even been used for thousands of years. Continue reading to take the first step toward stress-relief.
You’ve probably heard someone tell you to “take a breather” or “just breathe” during moments of high stress and anxiety. At first glance this might seem like superficial advice with no real effect (i.e. they’re just saying anything to calm you down), but in fact, research shows that breathing a certain way actually has a profound impact on your stress hormones.
In particular, “belly” or diaphragmatic breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system—the one in charge of making you feel relaxed. The reason this type of breathing is called belly breathing is because when you’re doing it correctly, your diaphragm should expand completely, pushing your belly outward.
Studies show that breathing this way helps to: (1)
Eventually, your goal will be to breathe this way often throughout your day.
Do you ever feel like your shoulders are up to your ears with tension by the time you get off work? You’re not alone. Most people store the majority of their tension in various locations in their bodies, from their stomachs to their necks. The body reacts to fear and anxiety like this due to the fight-or-flight response. In essence, it’s gearing up for movement away from danger, whether or not that “danger” is purely emotional or psychological.
Progressive relaxation is a technique that focuses on these areas of tension one by one to help unravel and loosen them, while easing your body back into a normal state.
Mindfulness involves becoming more aware of your thoughts and reactions to stressful situations as they’re happening, so that you can essentially take a step back from them. This allows you to not only react with less stress to events that have already occurred, but also builds your emotional and mental strength so that stressful situations have less impact on you in the future.
To begin, think about a recent stressful situation. Notice how your stomach might immediately flutter or knot up, or your throat will become tight. Notice also the emotions that come up and try to identify them as precisely as you can. Do you feel anger? Fear? Anxiety? Really tune into them.
Now, focus on bringing positive emotions into these negative emotions. Bring curiosity along with them. Ask why this situation is causing such a profound reaction, as well as how you can see it in a different, more positive light. Reach out with acceptance to the negative emotions and give yourself permission to let them go. You can even smile outwardly to help reinforce the positive feelings.
In the future, instead of immediately reacting to a stressful situation, go through this process first to temper the initial tense reaction.
For many people around the world, meditation is considered the holy grail of stress-managements techniques, and for good reason: studies show it can actually reverse molecular reactions within our DNA that cause stress. Essentially, it does this by training your brain to steer your DNA reactions in a direction that improves your wellbeing, rather than letting the stress alter your DNA in a negative way. (2)
While there are many, many different meditation techniques out there, the most basic of them all (and the one recommended for beginners) is simply focusing on the breath in stillness for as long as you can. For some this may mean five minutes, while others might be able to jump in and do 30 minutes right away. The key is to not focus on the time passing by, but to focus solely on your breath, letting thoughts slide away as they come.
Yoga is another amazing way to greatly reduce your stress levels. It is particularly great for those who would love to start a meditation practice but have trouble sitting still, as yoga has been likened to “moving meditation.”
Research shows that yoga also protects DNA from the damaging effects of stress, and can also lower inflammation, boost the immune system, and keep cortisol levels in check. (3,4) Yogis are also reported in studies to have reduced levels of anxiety and less depression, as well as better responses to stress.
Getting started with a yoga practice is as easy as seeking out a local studio, or even trying out free videos available online on blogs, or even via smartphone apps. Aim for two to three days a week of yoga practice, and increase from there. You can start with Hatha yoga, which is a gentler form, and then begin to explore the other varieties like power yoga and Ashtanga.
It can be intimidating to start yoga if it’s brand new, but you don’t already have to be flexible or in shape to begin a yoga practice, you just have to be willing.
Certain scents like lavender, frankincense, and rose have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety and stress. Lavender in particular has been studied for its amazing sedative, mood stabilizing, and antispasmodic properties. It also helps protect the brain from the damaging effects of stress. (5)
There are several ways you can use aromatherapy in your home and while you’re at work or traveling.
To use in your home, try adding a few drops of essential oils to a hot bath or a home essential oil diffuser. Alternatively, if you’re out and about, you can invest in roll-on essential oils that linger on your skin, or purchase certain necklaces that hold essential oil fragrance so that you get whiffs of it throughout the day.
Traditionally, tea time has been associated with relaxation throughout many cultures. It is considered a time to slow down and indulge in the moment, letting the worries of the day fall aside. Interestingly, it seems there is some scientific backing to the idea that tea reduces stress: studies have found that tea consumption significantly reduces cortisol levels and increases relaxation, with black tea in particular being a great aid to stress recovery. (6)
Guided visualization is similar to meditation. The main difference is that while meditation focuses on the breath, guided visualization takes you on a visual journey in your mind. This type of visualization has repeatedly shown in studies to improve stress management, reduce amounts of perceived stress, and reduce psychological symptoms related to stress. (7)
Typically, guided visualization exercises lead your imagination through scenes and images that are encoded with positive messages and symbols. These help nurture positivity and healthy stress responses, as well as encourage your brain to send your body relaxation cues.
The best way to get started with guided visualization is to try a free guided imagery video on Youtube or another platform. Typically, these last for only 10 to 15 minutes, making them great for those short on time.
No one can deny the bliss felt during and after a good massage. Research shows that just five minutes of touch massage is able to significantly decrease heart rate, cortisol levels, and even insulin levels, while also reducing sympathetic nervous system activity. (8)
Considering it only take five minutes to see these changes, try making a five to ten minute (or more!) massage with your partner a nightly ritual to wind down before bed. Or you could even indulge in a mini massage at a local spa after work a couple days a week.
The next time you’re stressed, whip out your art brushes and prepare to paint a masterpiece. A masterpiece of relaxation, that is.
Research shows that art therapy, the practice of simply painting or drawing to manage stress, has potent anti-stress effects. These effects are so strong that some centers for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients have replaced behavior and anxiety-controlling drugs with art therapy with great success. (9)
Don’t worry if you aren’t an artist—art therapy is about becoming immersed in the process, rather than in trying to produce a perfect work of art. Paint what you feel, or what you want to feel, and see where it leads. You can also explore other artistic outlets, like writing, pottery, or playing music.
Hypnosis is often used by therapists to make patients more suggestible to therapies and healing, as well as for fleshing out repressed memories or feelings. But did you know you can also use this technique on yourself?
In fact, you probably enter a hypnotic state several times a day without even realizing it. For instance, when you’re driving, or when you get lost in your thoughts staring out at the ocean or the sky. Self-hypnosis simply allows you to go into this state on-demand, which has been shown to have a remarkable ability to reduce anxiety levels. (10)
Below is a simple self-hypnosis script you can use whenever you’re feeling stressed. Aside from this, there are tons of MP3s and online videos you can download that will guide you through a self-hypnosis session.
As you can see, many of the stress techniques that are the most powerful are also the most simple. Just a few minutes out of your day practicing any of these methods can go a long way in not only recovering from a stressful situation, but also toward preventing excess stress or anxiety in the future.
You have a crush. You act awkwardly whenever she is around, putting your foot in your mouth or, even worse, not saying anything. You picture all sorts of scenarios for the day you will work up the courage to ask her out. But you don't actually do it. And then she hooks up with another guy. You are devastated and mad at yourself for not making a move sooner. You feel like a shy loser, which beco…
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