Links for 2020-01-17

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Links for 2020-01-16

  • Snowboy Hotword Detection

    Open-source, Apache-license hotword detection library for homebrew IoT: ‘Snowboy is an highly customizable hotword detection engine that is embedded real-time and is always listening (even when off-line) compatible with Raspberry Pi, (Ubuntu) Linux, and Mac OS X. Currently, Snowboy supports: all versions of Raspberry Pi (with Raspbian based on Debian Jessie 8.0) 64bit Mac OS X 64bit Ubuntu (12.04 and 14.04) iOS Android with ARMv7 CPUs Pine 64 with Debian Jessie 8.5 (3.10.102) Intel Edison with Ubilinux (Debian Wheezy 7.8)’

    (tags: audio iot hardware hotwords speech-recognition speech devices)

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Links for 2020-01-15

  • Facebook Ad Library Showed Just How Unreliable Facebook’s Security System For Elections Is

    On Dec. 10, just two days before the United Kingdom went to the polls, some 74,000 political advertisements vanished from Facebook’s Ad Library, a website that serves as an archive of political and issue ads run on the platform. [….] Facebook has said it will not fact-check political ads or restrict the ability for campaigns to target people. Instead, it said it will provide transparency with tools like the Ad Library, the Ad Library report, and the Ad Library API, so the public, researchers, and journalists can monitor how elections play out on the platform. But that only works to the degree that those tools operate properly. It was only the news media’s reporting that brought the issue out into the open. “The fact that they could have an outage like this that went up to the day before an election, and they didn’t really publicly communicate,” Laura Edelson, a computer scientist at NYU whose work involves using the API, told BuzzFeed News, “that’s just not how you treat a security system. That’s what this is — this is a security system for elections.”

    (tags: facebook ads politics uk-politics transparency microtargeting social-media)

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Links for 2020-01-14

  • How is computer programming different today than 20 years ago?

    Some good answers:

    A desktop software now means a web page bundled with a browser. You are not officially considered a programmer anymore until you attend a $2K conference and share a selfie from there. Code must run behind at least three levels of virtualization now. Code that runs on bare metal is unnecessarily performant. Running your code locally is something you rarely do. A tutorial isn’t really helpful if it’s not a video recording that takes orders of magnitude longer to understand than its text. Mobile devices can now show regular web pages, so no need to create a separate WAP page on a separate subdomain anymore. We create mobile pages on separate subdomains instead. We run programs on graphics cards now. Since we have much faster CPUs now, numerical calculations are done in Python which is much slower than Fortran. So numerical calculations basically take the same amount of time as they did 20 years ago. Storing passwords in plaintext is now frowned upon, but we do it anyway.
    There’s also some serious answers, but I prefer these ones.

    (tags: evolution dev programming humour coding lols fortran history)

  • Record/Replay testing in Sorbet

    I do like record/replay tests. +1

    (tags: sorbet testing record-replay-testing unit-tests tests)

  • The Center Blows Itself Up: Care and Spite in the ‘Brexit Election’

    The center of British politics has become a smoldering pit. The country is now being governed by a hard-right government placed in power by its oldest citizens, in the face of the active hatred of its increasingly socialist-inclined youth. It’s fairly clear that for the Johnson team, Brexit was never anything but an electoral strategy, and that they don’t have the slightest idea how to translate it into economic prosperity. (It is an unacknowledged irony of the current situation that the people most likely to profit from the Brexit process are, precisely, lawyers—and, probably secondarily, accountants. For everyone else, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where they will improve their current situation, and quite easy to imagine Johnson being remembered as one of the most disastrous prime ministers in British history.)

    (tags: labour brexit uk politics tories boris-johnson jeremy-corbyn centrism)

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Links for 2020-01-10

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Links for 2020-01-09

  • “One of our office chairs turns off monitors”

    Crappy unshielded display cables are prone to electrostatic discharges from gas-lift office chairs… “we have also seen this issue connected to gas lift office chairs. When people stand or sit on gas lift chairs, they can generate an EMI spike which is picked up on the video cables, causing a loss of sync. If you have users complaining about displays randomly flickering it could actually be connected to people sitting on gas lift chairs. Again swapping video cables, especially for ones with magnetic ferrite ring on the cable, can eliminate this problem.”

    (tags: chairs furniture funny hardware emi esd monitors twitter video)

  • Disinformation For Hire: How A New Breed Of PR Firms Is Selling Lies Online

    If disinformation in 2016 was characterized by Macedonian spammers pushing pro-Trump fake news and Russian trolls running rampant on platforms, 2020 is shaping up to be the year communications pros for hire provide sophisticated online propaganda operations to anyone willing to pay. Around the globe, politicians, parties, governments, and other clients hire what is known in the industry as “black PR” firms to spread lies and manipulate online discourse. A BuzzFeed News review — which looked at account takedowns by platforms that deactivated and investigations by security and research firms — found that since 2011, at least 27 online information operations have been partially or wholly attributed to PR or marketing firms. Of those, 19 occurred in 2019 alone.

    (tags: disinformation china propaganda pr disinfo social-media marketing)

  • How to monitor Golden signals in Kubernetes

    Most of this doc is Kubernetes specific, but this “golden signals” idea is interesting; basically, the four metrics of requests per second, average request latency, CPU usage on service fleet, errors per second. I would modify by adding the P99 or P99.9 request latency, and representing errors per second as a proportion of that period’s request-per-second figure.

    (tags: kubernetes monitoring sysdig golden-data k8s golden-signals metrics latency errors)

  • Serving 100µs reads with 100% availability · Segment Blog

    Distributing read-only snapshotted SQLite databases to shared volumes works! nifty hack

    (tags: architecture databases performance sqlite segment ops docker)

  • Ironies of automation

    Wow, this is a great paper recommendation from Adrian Colyer – ‘Ironies of automation’, Bainbridge, Automatica, Vol. 19, No. 6, 1983.

    In an automated system, two roles are left to humans: monitoring that the automated system is operating correctly, and taking over control if it isn’t. An operator that doesn’t routinely operate the system will have atrophied skills if ever called on to take over. Unfortunately, physical skills deteriorate when they are not used, particularly the refinements of gain and timing. This means that a formerly experienced operator who has been monitoring an automated process may now be an inexeperienced one. Not only are the operator’s skills declining, but the situations when the operator will be called upon are by their very nature the most demanding ones where something is deemed to be going wrong. Thus what we really need in such a situation is a more, not a lesser skilled operator! To generate successful strategies for unusual situtations, an operator also needs good understanding of the process under control, and the current state of the system. The former understanding develops most effectively through use and feedback (which the operator may no longer be getting the regular opportunity for), the latter takes some time to assimilate.
    (via John Allspaw)

    (tags: via:allspaw automation software reliability debugging ops design failsafe failure human-interfaces ui ux outages)

  • Bellingcat’s Online Investigation Toolkit – Google Docs

    ‘Welcome to Bellingcat’s freely available online open source investigation toolkit […] The list includes satellite and mapping services, tools for verifying photos and videos, websites to archive web pages, and much more. The list is long, and may seem daunting. There are guides at the end of the document, highlighting the methods and use of these tools in further detail.’ (via Damien)

    (tags: bellingcat osint mapping archival search image-search geo-search web fact-checking)

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Links for 2020-01-08

  • Modin: Speed up your Pandas workflows by changing a single line of code

    The modin.pandas DataFrame is an extremely light-weight parallel DataFrame. Modin transparently distributes the data and computation so that all you need to do is continue using the pandas API as you were before installing Modin. Unlike other parallel DataFrame systems, Modin is an extremely light-weight, robust DataFrame. Because it is so light-weight, Modin provides speed-ups of up to 4x on a laptop with 4 physical cores. We have focused heavily on bridging the solutions between DataFrames for small data (e.g. pandas) and large data. Often data scientists require different tools for doing the same thing on different sizes of data. The DataFrame solutions that exist for 1KB do not scale to 1TB+, and the overheads of the solutions for 1TB+ are too costly for datasets in the 1KB range. With Modin, because of its light-weight, robust, and scalable nature, you get a fast DataFrame at small and large data. With preliminary cluster and out of core support, Modin is a DataFrame library with great single-node performance and high scalability in a cluster.

    (tags: data parallel python pandas dataframes modin data-science)

  • IAmA: Reddit’s Own Vacuum Repair Tech

    some top tips on what to look for in a vacuum cleaner. Bottom line: bagless and stick vacuums are not the best

    (tags: reddit vacuum-cleaners shopping tips ama hoovers)

  • Buckle Up Twitter

    Listen up bitches, it’s time to learn incorrect things about someone you’ve never heard of:

    I am thinking of the response to February’s “Beau Brummell invented toxic masculinity” episode, in which the 19th-century English fancy man Beau Brummell, as infamous a dandy as one can be, was “taken down” in a grueling thread which neatly encapsulated all the worst qualities of Buckle Up Twitter: bewilderingly irate, laden with a combination of baroque linguistic flourishes and performatively subversive swearing, assumption of complete ignorance on the part of the audience, fondness for the word “gaslighting,” a powerful youth pastor-like eagerness to “meet people where they are,” high likelihood that it will be retweeted by people who refer to themselves as “Scolds” in their twitter bios, strong urge to lay the blame for the ills of the 21st century firmly at the foot of a basically random actor or event, total erasure of most things that have ever happened.

    (tags: twitter threads bores social-media funny)

  • Facial recognition for the public: Yandex

    not such much via, as from, Nelson:

    You can use Yandex Image Search right now as a pretty good facial recognition system for anyone who has labelled photos on the Web. I believe this is the first generally accessible facial recognition system with a large database. Yandex isn’t designed for this purpose. The trick is to upload photos cropped to a face and it’ll work more or less to find similar faces.
    this is really odd. Definitely seems like they designed the image similarity engine to support faces as a special case.

    (tags: privacy face-recognition yandex search similarity images web)

  • How “special register groups” invaded computer dictionaries for decades

    For some reason, a 1960 definition of [a computer’s] “central processing unit” included “special register groups”, an obscure feature from the Honeywell 800 mainframe. This definition was copied and changed for decades, even though it doesn’t make sense. It appears that once something appears in an authoritative glossary, people will reuse it for decades, and obsolete terms may never die out.
    Additionally, the “main frame” was a Honeywell term for the large physical frame which held the CPU. History!

    (tags: computer computing language history etymology mainframe honeywell cpu dictionaries)

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Links for 2020-01-07

  • massive Travelex outage

    The holiday money exchange site has been offline for the past 7 days, reportedly due to a ransomware infection, with 5GB of PII data exfiltrated

    (tags: travelex fail security exploits ransomware malware outages)

  • SHA-1 is a Shambles – First Chosen-Prefix Collision on SHA-1 and Application to the PGP Web of Trust

    Abstract: The SHA-1 hash function was designed in 1995 and has been widely used during two decades. A theoretical collision attack was first proposed in 2004 [WYY05], but due to its high complexity it was only implemented in practice in 2017, using a large GPU cluster [SBK+17]. More recently, an almost practical chosen-prefix collision attack against SHA-1 has been proposed [LP19]. This more powerful attack allows to build colliding messages with two arbitrary prefixes, which is much more threatening for real protocols. In this paper, we report the first practical implementation of this attack, and its impact on real-world security with a PGP/GnuPG impersonation attack. We managed to significantly reduce the complexity of collisions attack against SHA-1: on an Nvidia GTX 970, identical-prefix collisions can now be computed with a complexity of 261.2261.2 rather than 264.7264.7, and chosen-prefix collisions with a complexity of 263.4263.4 rather than 267.1267.1. When renting cheap GPUs, this translates to a cost of 11k US\$ for a collision, and 45k US\$ for a chosen-prefix collision, within the means of academic researchers. Our actual attack required two months of computations using 900 Nvidia GTX 1060 GPUs (we paid 75k US\$ because GPU prices were higher, and we wasted some time preparing the attack). Therefore, the same attacks that have been practical on MD5 since 2009 are now practical on SHA-1. In particular, chosen-prefix collisions can break signature schemes and handshake security in secure channel protocols (TLS, SSH). We strongly advise to remove SHA-1 from those type of applications as soon as possible. We exemplify our cryptanalysis by creating a pair of PGP/GnuPG keys with different identities, but colliding SHA-1 certificates. A SHA-1 certification of the first key can therefore be transferred to the second key, leading to a forgery. This proves that SHA-1 signatures now offers virtually no security in practice. The legacy branch of GnuPG still uses SHA-1 by default for identity certifications, but after notifying the authors, the modern branch now rejects SHA-1 signatures (the issue is tracked as CVE-2019-14855).
    (Via Tony Finch)

    (tags: via:fanf security sha sha-1 crypto hashes hashing pgp gpg collisions)

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Links for 2020-01-06

  • Algorithms interviews: theory vs. practice

    Good critique of the current practice of using algorithm questions during tech interviews from Dan Luu

    At this point, we’ve gone through a few decades of programming interview fads, each one of which looks ridiculous in retrospect. Either we’ve finally found the real secret to interviewing effectively and have reasoned our way past whatever roadblocks were causing everybody in the past to use obviously bogus fad interview techniques, or we’re in the middle of another fad, one which will seem equally ridiculous to people looking back a decade or two from now. Without knowing anything about the effectiveness of interviews, at a meta level, since the way people get interview techniques is the same (crib the high-level technique from the most prestigious company around), I think it would be pretty surprising if this wasn’t a fad. I would be less surprised to discover that current techniques were not a fad if people were doing or referring to empirical research or had independently discovered what works.

    (tags: interviews interviewing hiring tech software jobs fads algorithms dan-luu)

  • Testing in Production: How we combined tests with monitoring

    The Guardian Digital team’s write-up on their “test in prod” setup — post-release monitoring through running integration test suites. We do the same in Swrve, calling our suites the “canary tests”, and it works really well for us.

    (tags: testing monitoring ops devops the-guardian prod production releases)

  • Power Line Adapter noise interference

    oh dear, I use this model….

    About 3 weeks ago our neighbour installed power line adapters. The PLAs in question were branded TP-Link [….] How did I know that my neighbour had installed these? Well, the 50MHz band was immediately submerged under a wall of radio noise. Much tinkering with the Noise Blanker settings on the Icom IC-7300 allowed me to separate out two distinct types of noise – 1st a sound like a chicken clucking which was there 24 hours per day and – 2nd a wideband swoosh of white noise of varying strength which happened at certain times.

    (tags: noise rf wifi powerline networking home hardware radio)

  • City maps from tourists’ feelings

    This is fascinating, and potentially quite useful — although the great loft I stayed in in Antwerp is marked in a decidedly yellowish region :) (via Nelson)

    The aim of this project is to map tourists’ perceptions of different urban areas through data retrieved from vacation rental platform Airbnb. After their stay, Airbnb guests score their feeling about the neighbourhood using a star-based rating system. The aggregated rating of each Airbnb listing is publicly accessible, and given the widespread expansion of this platform, a large amount of data is available for the most visited cities. When overlaid on a map of the city, the data reveals interesting geographic patterns and exposes subjective perceptions on safety, upkeep or convenience. — Beñat Arregi

    (tags: airbnb dataviz maps mapping via:nelson data tourism europe vacations holidays)

  • Home Automation Bargain Alerts thread at boards.ie

    in case I need to fill my house with IOT tat

    (tags: iot tat home-automation home gadgets bargains boards)

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Links for 2020-01-02

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Links for 2019-12-20

  • Prof John Byrne: the man who turned Ireland into a tech world power

    TK Whitaker may be known as the man who made modern Ireland, but the highly respected civil servant wasn’t the only person who helped make the State what it is today. For those who wonder how Ireland came to excel both at luring the biggest and best tech companies to set up here and at producing a good few homegrown tech heroes, a great deal of credit must go to Prof John Byrne, the man who helped kickstart a revolution.

    (tags: tcd software ireland work history computer-science)

  • Alice Goldfuss clarifies JK Rowling’s “dress however you please” anti-trans comments

    This was a really educational thread for me — demonstrating how these phrases are a symptom, not support

    JK Rowling hates trans people, but I want to talk a little bit about the *way* she hates them so you can recognize it in the wild. She says “Dress however you please” and “Call yourself whatever you like” At first glance it sounds supportive, but it isn’t It’s disengaging She is taking a very real and concrete issue (the acceptance of trans people as humans with full rights and respect in society), minimizing it to some surface level features (appearance and names), and then abdicating any responsibility She is purposefully mischaracterizing trans people as adults playing dress-up and then claiming to be fine with that…at a distance The language she uses is similar to language used to minimize gay people “You can kiss whoever you want behind closed doors!” It’s also similar to the old favorite “I don’t care if you’re black, white, or purple!” Purple people don’t exist, but now they’ve minimized the issue of racism and swept it away while claiming to be supportive All of these phrases add up to the same message: “I support you, as long as you don’t change my experiences or inconvenience me in any way.” And that’s not actual support

    (tags: trans rights jk-rowling gender acceptance racism)

  • Xor Filters: Faster and Smaller Than Bloom Filters

    A new immutable probabilistic set data structure, derived from Bloomier Filters, by Daniel Lemire and Thomas Mueller Graf. Lots of sample implementations, looks very useful!

    (tags: algorithms coding performance bloom-filters xor-filters data-structures)

  • Room to Breathe: My Quest to Clean Up My Home’s Filthy Air

    The air quality in your home is probably terrible, if this is anything to go by :O

    (tags: air air-quality particulates pm2.5 pm10 health paranoia homes)

  • J.K. Rowling’s transphobia is a product of British culture

    Good explainer on why the UK is so TERFy these days:

    Trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) ideology has been helped along in the UK by media under the leadership of Rupert Murdoch and the Times of London for years. Any vague opposition to gender-critical thought in the UK brings accusations of “silencing women” and a splashy feature or op-ed in a British national newspaper. Australian radical feminist Sheila Jeffreys went before the UK Parliament in March 2018 and declared that trans women are “parasites,” language that sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump speaking about immigrants. According to Heron Greenesmith, who studies the modern gender-critical movement as a senior research associate at the social-justice think tank Political Research Associates, gender-critical feminism in the UK grew out of a toxic mix of historical imperialism and the influence of the broader skeptical movement in the early aughts — which was hyperfocused on debunking “junk science” and any idea that considered sociological and historical influence and not just biology. Those who rose to prominence in the movement did so through a lot of “non-tolerant calling-out and attacking people,” Greenesmith said, much like gender-critical feminism. “Anti-trans feminists think they have science on their side. It is bananas how ascientific their rhetoric is, and yet literally they say, ‘Biology isn’t bigotry.’ In fact, biology has been used as bigotry as long as biology has been a thing.”

    (tags: feminism politics terfs trans-rights gender biology uk jk-rowling transphobia)

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Links for 2019-12-19

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Links for 2019-12-17

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Links for 2019-12-16

  • simonw/datasette: A tool for exploring and publishing data

    Datasette is a tool for exploring and publishing data. It helps people take data of any shape or size and publish that as an interactive, explorable website and accompanying API. Datasette is aimed at data journalists, museum curators, archivists, local governments and anyone else who has data that they wish to share with the world.

    (tags: database api json python sqlite data exploring csv tsv)

  • surveillance technology marketing

    ‘I had a look at some marketing websites for Chinese surveillance technology, and they’re pretty much what you’d expect: deeply unsettling.’ — sure are. This is the state of the art for mass-marketed panopticons

    (tags: panopticon china surveillance grim-meathook-future facial-recognition camera cctv)

  • The Amazon Premium

    good list of low-cost “elastic” VM hosting options similar to AWS

    (tags: aws google cloud hosting digitalocean linode ovh ops)

  • Low-Cost VPS Testing

    more VPS hosting options from Rasmus Lerdorf

    (tags: cloud hosting vps ops)

  • How Uber Engineering Evaluated JSON Encoding and Compression Algorithms to Put the Squeeze on Trip Data

    Key conclusions: Simply compressing JSON with zlib would yield a reasonable tradeoff in size and speed. The result would be just a little bigger, but execution was much faster than using BZ2 on JSON. Going with IDL-based protocols, Thrift and Protocol Buffers compressed with zlib or Snappy would give us the best gain in size and/or speed.

    (tags: compression json performance python serialization protobuf zlib snappy cbor messagepack thrift bz2)

  • AI Now 2019 report

    ‘Despite the growth of ethical frameworks, AI systems continue to be deployed rapidly across domains of considerable social significance—in healthcare, education, employment, criminal justice, and many others—without appropriate safeguards or accountability structures in place. Many urgent concerns remain, and the agenda of issues to be addressed continues to grow: the environmental harms caused by AI systems are considerable, from extraction of materials from our earth to the extraction of labor from our communities. In healthcare, increasing dependence on AI systems will have life-or-death consequences. New research also highlights how AI systems are particularly prone to security vulnerabilities and how the companies building these systems are inciting fundamental changes to the landscape of our communities, resulting in geographic displacement. Yet the movements of the past year give reason to hope, marked by a groundswell of pushback from both expected and unexpected places, from regulators and researchers to community organizers and activists to workers and advocates. Together, they are building new coalitions upon legacies of older ones, and forging new bonds of solidarity. If the past year has shown us anything, it is that our future will not be determined by the inevitable progress of AI, nor are we doomed to a dystopic future. The implications of AI will be determined by us—and there is much work ahead to ensure that the future looks bright.’

    (tags: ai reports 2019 machine-learning society future)

  • COP-25 Report from Prof. John Sweeney of An Taisce

    Very negative review from COP-25. This is depressing:

    There is no doubt but that the failure of COP25 is symptomatic of a world failing to advance the multilateralism ideals many of us grew up with. International cooperation in economics, politics and in solving environmental problems, such as ozone depletion, have now given way to narrow national and populist ideologies. What is most worrying about current developments in tackling climate change is however the disconnect between the power brokers and society at large. The advice of the scientists and the pleas of the young were ignored in Madrid. Indeed some 200 young people were summarily ejected from the conference after a protest, and the eloquent arguments presented by the young Irish activists at several side events fell on deaf ears. Attempts by some world leaders and some media commentators to direct personal vitriol against young activists even surfaced.

    (tags: cop25 world future climate-change economics politics fail)

  • The secret-sharer: evaluating and testing unintended memorization in neural networks

    Take a system trained to make predictions on a language (word or character) model – an example you’re probably familiar with is Google Smart Compose. Now feed it a prefix such as “My social security number is “. Can you guess what happens next?

    (tags: neural-networks ai machine-learning secrets differential-privacy training google papers security)

  • COP25 Ended in Failure. What’s the Way Forward?

    over the last few months, I’ve found myself thinking a lot more about the model offered by the nuclear nonproliferation agreements forged between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in the late 1980s — the planet’s two superpowers reaching a kind of consensus about a global existential threat, taking significant (if not complete) steps to mitigate that risk, and then more or less bullying the rest of the world to follow suit. Climate change is a very different challenge, but policy negotiations to address it may nevertheless benefit from reducing the number of sides involved in a game-theory calculus from 186 (the number of nations party to the Paris accords) to just two (in this case, the U.S. and China). Of course, this would require not just a complete change of perspective on climate in Washington but some shift almost as complete in Beijing, where commitments made in 2019 to open new coal plants are sufficient on their own to eliminate the entire planet’s chances of staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming.

    (tags: nonproliferation history agreements international us-politics usa china treaties climate-change)

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Links for 2019-12-14

  • How the Tories won the online election: pick a line, ignore the facts and repeat | Alex Hern | Opinion | The Guardian

    The internet wasn’t the place for smart campaigning. The Labour party put out slick video after slick video, outspent the Tories on Snapchat and Facebook, and handed Jeremy Corbyn’s Twitter account to someone who understands memes extremely well for the entirety of election day. The Conservatives simply sat down and spent six weeks being wilfully stupid, and it worked. In fact, one of the few changes in strategy we saw in the online election was the Conservatives doubling down on simple and stupid. The opening of the campaign was marked by a “shitposting strategy”, with the Tory party sharing low-effort, banally funny campaign messages in the clear hope that they would get as much distribution from opponents as supporters. But, as the election went on, that approach was dropped in favour of a brutally simple one: pick three lines, whether or not they’re true, and just repeat them, for ever, on every platform, without shame or variation. Invent some Labour policies, make up a price-tag for them, and tweet it out as the cost of Labour. Make up a taxation strategy to pay for it, and tweet that out as the party’s tax bombshell. Endlessly, humourlessly, robotically come back to “get Brexit done”. There are lessons here for other political parties, but they aren’t pretty.

    (tags: uk politics shitposting brexit labour tories)

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Links for 2019-12-13

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Links for 2019-12-12

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Links for 2019-12-11

  • Elon Musk, SpaceX Unveil Latest Starlink Plans, Creating An Astronomical Emergency

    The Starlink light-pollution shitfest continues to get worse:

    A responsible entity would address the problems they’re actively creating and exacerbating before accelerating their launch schedule. A responsible entity would ask for the approval of all affected parties before proceeding further. A responsible entity would honestly and accurately address the real issues at hand, and would demonstrate that they’ve listened to communities beyond their own through their actions. On the other hand, an exploitative entity would pay lip service to the communities they affect while continuing to actively harm them. They would ramp up their launch schedule. They would continue to send up offensive, unaltered satellites while putting minimal effort into solving problems that have been raised. They would invite consultants, but would squash any objectionable voices. They would distort the truth about concerns that have been raised. They would put their business interests — such as lucrative potential government contracts — ahead of any human interests. And they would deflect criticism by running PR campaigns that draw attention away from the real issues.

    (tags: starlink elon-musk light pollution astronomy science space)

  • Tensorflow whinge

    “Built to do really fancy cutting-edge stuff and also to make common workflows look very easy, but without a middle ground, so either you are doing something very ordinary and your code is 2 lines that magically work, or you’re lost in cryptic error messages coming from mysterious middleware objects that, you learn 5 hours later, exist so the code can run on a steam-powered deep-sea quantum computer cluster or something”
    This seems to be a bit of a Google trait. (via Alison Parrish)

    (tags: tensorflow api open-source snark whinges)

  • Spain Might Be The World’s Most Important Climate Test | HuffPost UK

    Can Spain get a Green New Deal enacted in the EU?

    the Sánchez administration was forced to call another snap election last month. The Socialists again eked out a slim win, and this time agreed to form a coalition with Unidos Podemos, a party to its left. If Sánchez’s center-left vision of a Green New Deal could be criticized for not being ambitious enough, the inclusion of the anti-austerity Podemos could make the country the first to seriously attempt the kind of Green New Deal progressives elsewhere have laid out to curb soaring economic inequality and planet-heating emissions.  Green New Dealers on both sides of the Atlantic argue that addressing both crises at once is key to staving off a resurgent neo-fascist right wing. Vox, a far-right party openly nostalgic for Franco-era Spanish authoritarianism, surged from zero to 24 parliamentary seats last April. November’s election brought that total to 52, making it the third-largest party in Spain.  But, even with a new left flank in the governing coalition, experts say the chances of making transformative changes are slim, thanks to the European Union’s rules on spending and public ownership. It’ll be a test for how much effectively the Green New Deal can beat back the far right while still confined by what one researcher called the “straitjacket of austerity.” 

    (tags: green-new-deal green gnd climate-change spain left-wing eu)

  • Denmark adopts climate law to cut emissions 70% by 2030

    Denmark’s parliament adopted a new climate law on Friday, committing to reach 70% below its 1990 emissions in the next eleven years. The law targets carbon neutrality by 2050 and includes a robust monitoring system. New legally-binding targets will be set every five years, with a ten-year perspective. The first of these will be set in 2020. In what the government claims is a first for a national legislature, the new law also has a commitment to climate engagement internationally. This includes an ongoing obligation to deliver on international agreements, including climate finance to developing countries.

    (tags: denmark green climate-change 2030 eu)

  • How to Build a Smart Home Where Everything Might Actually Work

    lol

    (tags: smart-home home iot gadgets homekit google amazon alexa)

  • Internal FAA review envisaged one fatal crash every 2-3 years with 737-MAX

    U.S. regulators decided to allow the [Boeing] 737 MAX jet to keep flying after its first fatal crash last fall, despite their own analysis […] The November 2018 internal Federal Aviation Administration analysis, expected to be released during a House committee hearing Wednesday, reveals that without agency intervention, the MAX could have averaged one fatal crash about every two or three years, according to industry officials and regulators.

    (tags: faa fail regulation us-politics boeing safety 737max flying accidents)

  • The Decade the Internet Lost Its Joy

    on a systemic level, it’s impossible to ignore the immense effect of capitalistic forces on how we experience the internet today. The pockets of fun will continue to erode until we are all flattened into a single pancake of behavioral data. To rediscover joy on the internet will mean reforming it entirely. When Deadspin was shuttered by its private equity-instilled bosses earlier this year, I blogged that instead of looking backward, we needed to imagine something entirely different. The same goes for the internet as a whole — we need a digital world that is built to take care of us instead of profit from us.

    (tags: culture internet future capitalism web nostalgia joy fun silicon-valley)

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Links for 2019-12-09

  • Now Any Government Can Buy China’s Tools for Censoring the Internet

    Well, this is grim:

    “Autocracy as a service” lets countries buy or rent the technology and expertise they need, as they need it. It gets around the problem that being able to censor and surveil the internet isn’t just a technology challenge, but a management and human resource one. China offers a full-stack of options up and down the layers of the internet, including policies and laws, communications service providers with full internet shutdown options pre-installed, technical standards, satellites, cables, and infrastructure. This is possible because China has developed its own indigenous internet stack, sometimes copying the foreign technology it sought to replace. China even offers training in governance and strategy, consulting on writing a national strategy, and help building smart cities with its own full surveillance stack, euphemistically called “safe cities.”

    (tags: grim-meathook-future china censorship future internet surveillance autocracy repression)

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Links for 2019-12-06

  • “Quite Divorced From Reality”: Climate Scientist, Activists Call Out Shell Exec at UN Conference – In These Times

    “This is quite divorced from reality, what you are all discussing,” Simon Lewis, a climate science professor at University College London, told the oil executives during a Q+A. Lewis went on to explain to the audience that even if polluters invested in every nature conservation, sustainability agriculture or other “natural climate solution” in the world, those projects would only offset about 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions; the vast majority of cuts would still have to come about through actual reductions in fossil fuel use. Given this, Lewis asked them to explain how the initiative was any different from other corporate schemes put forth in past decades—good PR that doesn’t actually tackle the problem. In addition, carbon offset trading—which has been going on at smaller scales for decades—is no silver bullet. It has had mixed results to date, including failed projects, outright fraud, and human rights abuses against rural, indigenous and other vulnerable communities, prompting fierce opposition from grassroots climate organizations against including carbon trading in the Paris Accord. The carbon trading question is one of the remaining thorny issues country negotiators are supposed to iron out during this two-week climate conference, which ends December 13. The rules for such “market-based solutions” (included in what is technically known as Article 6 of Paris Agreement) were supposed to be decided at last year’s meeting, but countries remain far apart; in fact, some observers wonder if it won’t be punted off again until next year. Meanwhile, the oil majors have yet to unveil a plan for reducing their own company emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, which calls for dramatically reducing fossil fuel use to prevent climate catastrophe.

    (tags: shell offsets climate-change climate simon-lewis)

  • The Amazon Builders’ Library

    Some really good dist-sys/reliability advice from AWS principal engineers, including our team’s old principal Jacob Gabrielson and fellow Dub Colm MacCarthaigh

    (tags: guides library howto advice principal-engineers aws amazon principals)

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Links for 2019-12-05

  • Not able to configure more than 3 PS Move controllers on a Macbook Pro Retina 13 inch, Early 2015 :: Sportsfriends General Discussions

    How to get 7 PS Move controllers working on recent Mac hardware — use an external Bluetooth dongle. Vital to be able to play Johann Sebastian Joust

    (tags: joust sportsfriends games bluetooth tips osx macos)

  • What China’s Surveillance Means for the Rest of the World | Time

    Bakitali Nur, 47, a fruit and vegetable exporter in the Xinjiang town of Khorgos, was arrested after authorities became suspicious of his frequent business trips abroad. The father of three says he spent a year in a single room with seven other inmates, all clad in blue jumpsuits, forced to sit still on plastic stools for 17 hours straight as four HikVision cameras recorded every move. “Anyone caught talking or moving was forced into stress positions for hours at a time,” he says. Bakitali was released only after he developed a chronic illness. But his surveillance hell continued over five months of virtual house arrest, which is common for former detainees. He was forbidden from traveling outside his village without permission, and a CCTV camera was installed opposite his home. Every time he approached the front door, a policeman would call to ask where he was going. He had to report to the local government office every day to undergo “political education” and write a self-criticism detailing his previous day’s activities. Unable to travel for work, former detainees like Bakitali are often obliged to toil at government factories for wages as miserly as 35¢ per day, according to former workers interviewed by TIME. “The entire system is designed to suppress us,” Bakitali says in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he escaped in May. The result is dystopian. When every aspect of life is under constant scrutiny, it’s not just “bad” behavior that must be avoided. Muslims in Xinjiang are under constant pressure to act in a manner that the CCP would approve. While posting controversial material online is clearly reckless, not using social media at all could also be considered suspicious, so Muslims share glowing news about the country and party as a means of defense.

    (tags: uighurs china dystopia surveillance xinjiang authoritarianism grim)

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Links for 2019-12-04

  • En-ROADS

    An excellent global climate simulation tool, to roughly model climate change management strategies and their impacts. (It’s not good news.)

    (tags: climate-change climate simulations tools web future)

  • China Uses DNA to Map Faces, With Help From the West – The New York Times

    China continues to break new ground in grim meathook future dystopia:

    The Chinese government is building “essentially technologies used for hunting people,” said Mark Munsterhjelm, an assistant professor at the University of Windsor in Ontario who tracks Chinese interest in the technology. In the world of science, Dr. Munsterhjelm said, “there’s a kind of culture of complacency that has now given way to complicity.”

    (tags: grim-meathook-future china racism science surveillance dna phenotypes)

  • Climate models have been correct for literally 40 years

    Well well well. Climate deniers have been making it up all along.

    According to the research published today, almost every peer-reviewed climate model of human-caused global temperature rise dating back to 1970 lines up with the warming we see today. “In scientific terms, we’d say there’s no bias,” the paper’s co-author Henri Drake, a PhD candidate at MIT, told me over the phone. “Once we accounted for the differences in CO2 emissions, 14 of the 17 models we analyzed were consistent with current observations.” “Taken together,” he added, “these climate models have always been quantitatively accurate.”

    (tags: climate-change climate modelling simulation science history co2 ghgs)

  • Algorithmic art theft

    This is amazing. It seems that bots are searching twitter for “I want this on a shirt!” comments, and printing t-shirts on demand using whatever image was in the replied-to tweet — regardless of artist permission or credit. Cue hi-jinks

    (tags: funny art theft bots twitter tee-shirts)

  • Low Carbon Kubernetes Scheduler

    ‘A demand side management solution that consumes electricity in low grid carbon intensity areas’:

    To justify Kubernetes’ ability or globally distributed deployments the researchers chose to optimize placement to regions with the greatest degree of solar irradiance termed a Heliotropic Scheduler. This scheduler is termed ‘heliotropic’ in order to differentiate it from a ‘follow-the-sun’ application management policy that relates to meeting customer demand around the world by placing staff and resources in proximity to those locations (thereby making them available to clients at lower latency and at a suitable time of day). A ‘heliotropic’ policy, on the other hand, goes to where sunlight, and by extension solar irradiance, is abundant. They further evaluated the Heliotropic Scheduler implementation by running BOINC jobs on Kubernetes.

    (tags: carbon climate co2 kubernetes heliotropic-scheduling energy)

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Links for 2019-12-03

  • John Barnett on Why He Won’t Fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

    An ex-quality manager at Boeing for 35 years says:

    “When I worked on the 747, the 767, the 777 in Everett, those are beautiful planes. And the people there fully understood what it took to build a safe and airworthy aircraft. I hate to throw the entire label over the whole product line. But as far as the 787, I would change flights before I would fly a 787. I’ve told my family — please don’t fly a 787. Fly something else. Try to get a different ticket. I want the people to know what they are riding on.”

    (tags: business flight flying safety boeing danger 787 john-barnett whistleblowers)

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Links for 2019-12-02

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Links for 2019-11-28

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Links for 2019-11-27

  • UV-Treated Outdoor CAT6 Cables

    from Freetv.ie

    (tags: tv cables cabling home wiring cat6 garden shed)

  • Climate emergency: world ‘may already have crossed several tipping points’

    The world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points, according to a stark warning from scientists. This risk is “an existential threat to civilisation”, they say, meaning “we are in a state of planetary emergency”. Tipping points are reached when particular impacts of global heating become unstoppable, such as the runaway loss of ice sheets or forests. In the past, extreme heating of 5C was thought necessary to pass tipping points, but the latest evidence suggests this could happen between 1C and 2C. The planet has already heated by 1C and the temperature is certain to rise further, due to past emissions and because greenhouse gas levels are still rising. The scientists further warn that one tipping point, such as the release of methane from thawing permafrost, may fuel others, leading to a cascade.

    (tags: climate-change climate tipping-points nature)

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Links for 2019-11-25

  • Want To Make Money? Build A Business On A Bike Lane

    “Local stores next to the protected bike lane have seen a 49% increase in sales, compared to an average of 3% for Manhattan as a whole.”

    (tags: numbers statistics cycling bike-lanes shops)

  • China’s Operating Manuals for Mass Internment and Arrest by Algorithm – ICIJ

    “The Chinese have bought into a model of policing where they believe that through the collection of large-scale data run through artificial intelligence and machine learning that they can, in fact, predict ahead of time where possible incidents might take place, as well as identify possible populations that have the propensity to engage in anti-state anti-regime action,” said Mulvenon, the SOS International document expert and director of intelligence integration. “And then they are preemptively going after those people using that data.” Mulvenon said IJOP is more than a “pre-crime” platform, but a “machine-learning, artificial intelligence, command and control” platform that substitutes artificial intelligence for human judgment. He described it as a “cybernetic brain” central to China’s most advanced police and military strategies. Such a system “infantilizes” those tasked with implementing it, said Mulvenon, creating the conditions for policies that could spin out of control with catastrophic results. The program collects and interprets data without regard to privacy, and flags ordinary people for investigation based on seemingly innocuous criteria, such as daily prayer, travel abroad, or frequently using the back door of their home. Perhaps even more significant than the actual data collected are the grinding psychological effects of living under such a system.  With batteries of facial-recognition cameras on street corners, endless checkpoints and webs of informants, IJOP generates a sense of an omniscient, omnipresent state that can peer into the most intimate aspects of daily life.  As neighbors disappear based on the workings of unknown algorithms, Xinjiang lives in a perpetual state of terror. The seeming randomness of investigations resulting from IJOP isn’t a bug but a feature, said Samantha Hoffman, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute whose research focuses on China’s use of data collection for social control. “That’s how state terror works,” Hoffman said. “Part of the fear that this instills is that you don’t know when you’re not OK.”

    (tags: terror dystopia china algorithms ijop future policing grim-meathook-future privacy data-privacy uighurs)

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Links for 2019-11-22

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Links for 2019-11-21

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Links for 2019-11-19

  • Horace Goes Copyright Striking / Boing Boing

    aka “Horace Goes To The Job Centre Because His IP Holder Took A Shit On Literally The Only People Who Give A Fuck About The Character”.

    As of November 14, [Octav1us’] social media channels are deactivated, reportedly to avoid the continuing abuse she receives from anonymous users. For a young woman appropriating the obscure personas of 8-bit British game history, hostility comes in forms both legal and personal. But the message is always the same: stay off the slopes.

    (tags: horace skiing copyright ip subvert youtube history 80s)

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Links for 2019-11-13

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Links for 2019-11-12

  • “Brushing”

    An interesting Amazon scam:

    The end game here in many cases is for the seller to be able to pose as a verified purchaser and write a glowing review of their own product. Gaming the review system in this way pushes their products up higher in Amazon search results — regardless of whether the product is actually “good” or not. Amazon told CBS News that it investigates all customer reports of unsolicited packages like those made by the Gallivans. The company will shut down the accounts of vendors or reviewers found abusing the review system.

    (tags: reviews brushing scams amazon crime ecommerce)

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Links for 2019-11-11

  • KIAM defaults result in massive latencies on AWS API calls

    KIAM [a Kubernetes IAM API helper] happens to provide short-lived credentials to Pods, which makes sense as it’s fair to assume that the average lifetime of a Pod is shorter than EC2 instances. The default is precisely 15 min. But if you put both defaults together, you have a problem. Each certificate provided to the application has a 15 min expiration time. The AWS Java SDK will force refreshing any certificate with less than 15 min expiration time left. The result is that every request will be forced to refresh the temporary certificate, which requires two calls to the AWS API that add a huge latency penalty to each request. We later found a feature request in the AWS Java SDK that mentions this same issue. The fix was easy. We reconfigured KIAM to request credentials with a longer expiration period. Once this change was applied, requests started being served without involving the AWS Metadata service and returned to an even lower latency than in EC2.

    (tags: kubernetes kiam defaults aws latency performance ec2)

  • BBC podcast’s attempt to define ‘shitposting’ leaves viewers baffled

    Laura Keunssberg, the Beeb’s inept political editor, manages to make an utter mess of explaining “shitposting”, claiming it’s analogous to “boomer memes”. Inadvertently this introduces the concept of a “skunked term” — ‘a word that becomes difficult to use because it is in the middle of transitioning from one common meaning to another’.

    (tags: bbc shitposting internet fail bbclaurak boomer-memes memes shitposts)

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Links for 2019-11-07

  • Thomas Talhelm’s DIY air purifier

    Simply strap a HEPA air filter to a desk fan for $30:

    I tested it over and over—hundreds of days, with a control room, with a stronger fan, against the big brand purifiers that I borrowed from my rich friends. Eventually, I saw enough data that I was convinced. This $30 DIY purifier was removing significant amounts of tiny particulate from my Beijing bedroom. I wanted to tell the world that those $1,000 purifiers were ripoffs. I made all the data and testing methods open source. I wrote up the instructions for how to make one.

    (tags: air air-quality beijing hepa filters filtering diy hacks)

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Links for 2019-11-06

  • ServiceTalk

    a JVM network application framework with APIs tailored to specific protocols (e.g. HTTP/1.x, HTTP/2.x, etc…?) and supports multiple programming paradigms. It is built on Netty and is designed to provide most of the performance/scalability benefits of Netty for common networking protocols used in service to service communication. ServiceTalk provides server support and “smart client” like features such as client-side load balancing and service discovery integration.
    Open source from Apple.

    (tags: apple servicetalk netty libraries java jvm coding http async)

  • k?j?-moe

    “factory infatuation” — ‘an enthusiasm that has taken root among young urbanites whose lives are increasingly remote from Japan’s manufacturing base. Apparently influenced by the popularity of glossy factory photography books published in the past decade, tourists and day-trippers now flock to appreciate the aesthetic charms of industrial installations – especially at night, when lights and flares add to their appeal.’

    (tags: factories industrial kojo-moe via:Urbanopolis japan photography)

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Links for 2019-11-05

  • Spleeter

    The engineering team behind streaming music service Deezer just open-sourced Spleeter, their audio separation library built on Python and TensorFlow that uses machine learning to quickly and freely separate music into stems.
    The results, just using the pretrained models, are frankly incredible. Gonna be a lot of random mashups and remixes using this….

    (tags: audio music spleeter deezer tensorflow python cool hacks machine-learning)

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Links for 2019-11-03

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Links for 2019-10-29

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