Links for 2020-06-29

  • Understand Wi-Fi 4/5/6/6E (802.11 n/ac/ax)

    Some excellent advice regarding the currently available wifi devices out there, 802.11ac, 4×4 MIMO, beamforming, and DFS channels. Top recommendations are the Ubiquiti nanoHD AP and the Netgear R7800

    (tags: wifi 802.11n 802.11ac networking wireless home mimo mu-mimo dfs)

  • ????? (revenge bedtime procrastination)

    “a phenomenon in which people who don’t have much control over their daytime life refuse to sleep early in order to regain some sense of freedom during late night hours” Welcome to my life. (aka parenting)

    (tags: day night life kids parenting procrastination bedtime sleep china)

  • Witnessing the unthinkable

    According to this new [analysis of the latest generation of climate models], led by scientists at the CSIRO and [Australian] Bureau of Meteorology, the worst-case scenario could see Australia warm up to 7°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. On average, the results from 20 models show a warming of 4.5°C, with a range of between 2.7°C and 6.2°C. [….] Another profoundly significant result is buried 16 pages deep into the paper. The scientists show that this revision now means that 2°C of global warming is likely to be reached sometime around 2040 based on our current high-emissions trajectory. The implications of this are unimaginable – we may witness planetary collapse far sooner than we once thought.
    This is horrific, if those are solid estimates… those warming levels will mean Australia (and parts of the rest of the world) becomes pretty much uninhabitable.

    (tags: australia future grim climate-change models warming)

  • Weak bits floppy disc protection

    Amazing anti-piracy scheme from the BBC Micro era, devised by Simon Hosler of Sherston Software: “Weak” or “Flaky” bits, caused by “a weak signal or non-existent magnetic signal on the disc surface. You might also see the term no-flux area (NFA), which is the same as a non-existent signal. Weak bits are almost always a non-existent signal, as opposed to a weak signal. The flaky nature of weak bits actually comes out of the drive electronics: when there are no clear flux changes, the drive just amplifies harder until it starts seeing and signalling ghosts within the noise.” Simon Hosler wrote: “Soft lock (was what we called it) was actually my system, so what I remember… This came about because I lived next door to an electronics geek! So break the write data line of the parallel disk cable. Add a bit of electronics to this line. (thank you Mike) Most of the time this electronics does nothing – lets the data go through as normal. If you turn it on (I think I did this through the serial port) and write to a single sector – it would count the bits going through say 256 – and then stop the next 256 bits going through”

    (tags: bbc-micro microcomputers history copy-protection anti-piracy piracy weak-bits hardware hacks simon-hosler)

  • The Center for Land Use Interpretation

    More than 30 uranium disposal cells have been constructed over the last 25 years, primarily to contain radioactive contamination from decommissioned uranium mills and processing sites. They are time capsules, of sorts, designed to take their toxic contents, undisturbed, as far into the future as possible. Uranium disposal cells are unusual constructions because they are built to last far beyond the lives of most engineered structures, to isolate their radioactive contents from the environment for hundreds of years. They are generally low geometric mounds, sometimes as high as a hundred feet tall, covering a few acres or as much as a half mile, and composed of layers of engineered soil and gravels designed to shed rainwater and limit erosion. […] The contents are not considered high-level radioactive waste, like spent fuel from nuclear reactors. That material has yet to find a permanent home. What these cells contain is radioactive tailings from uranium processing sites, as well as the demolished buildings and apparatus from the mills themselves. The amount of radioactivity in these cells varies, but is generally considered harmful to people if exposure takes place over sustained periods. Most of the radiation comes from uranium 238, which has a half life of 4.47 billion years, nearly the age of the earth itself.

    (tags: nuclear uranium history waste toxic-waste radioactivity u-238 radioactive structures land-use)

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Links for 2020-06-26

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Links for 2020-06-25

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Links for 2020-06-24

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Links for 2020-06-23

  • The Trump 2020 app is a voter surveillance tool of extraordinary power | MIT Technology Review

    Trump’s casino-like campaign app seems to be his own attempt to create a “one-way tool of propaganda.” Its deployment is part of a global trend, piggybacking on years of unresolved privacy and security issues within the app ecosystem. As researchers studying the intersection of technology and propaganda, we understand that political groups tend to lag behind the commercial ad industry. But when they catch up, the consequences to truth and civil discourse can be devastating.  The array of data-gathering tools the Trump and Modi apps use are a legacy of a “freemium” social-media and app landscape that is manipulative, non-transparent, and purposefully addictive, with a mentality of “collect data first and ask question later.” For the last five to 10 years, the pervasiveness of these tools and their use in data scooping has been well documented. Sporadic, state-by-state data regulations have been the only response. In Europe, the GDPR was a big step toward meaningful consent and transparency, but the Official Trump 2020 App does not fall under its jurisdiction. A global perspective is now critical to understanding the implications of data-fueled political manipulation and preparing for the next wave of disinformation. Countries must work together to create effective regulation, and citizens must demand this of them. It took about five years for Modi’s strategies to jump from India to the US, and in the next few years we are on track to see the arrival of strategies used in the dark-money disinformation campaigns of Mexico and Latin America. The Mexican journalist we’d interviewed for our study put it this way: “I think what’s coming all around the world is going to be very chaotic, at least in [the US], I think you’re on the brink of a sort of civil war in one or two years … You’re going to have a lot of work to do.”

    (tags: trump politics apps surveillance advertising voting modi gdpr privacy data-privacy)

  • Abolish the #TechToPrisonPipeline – Coalition for Critical Technology

    ‘As per a press release, Springer will publish “A Deep Neural Network Model to Predict Criminality Using Image Processing.” Sign our letter to urge all publishers to refrain from feeding the #TechToPrisonPipeline with physiognomy 2.0.’ (via Niall Murphy)

    (tags: via:niallmurphy crime prediction image-processing springer research prison law ai ml)

  • Automating safe, hands-off deployments

    Great doc from Clare Liguori about current AWS best practices around deployment. A fair bit of it is similar to what they were doing by the time I left; this “wave” concept is a good new approach though:

    Each team needs to balance the safety of small-scoped deployments with the speed at which we can deliver changes to customers in all Regions. Deploying changes to 24 Regions or 76 Availability Zones through the pipeline one at a time has the lowest risk of causing broad impact, but it could take weeks for the pipeline to deliver a change to customers globally. We have found that grouping deployments into “waves” of increasing size, as seen in the previous sample prod pipeline, helps us achieve a good balance between deployment risk and speed. Each wave’s stage in the pipeline orchestrates deployments to a group of Regions, with changes being promoted from wave to wave. New changes can enter the production phase of the pipeline at any time. After a set of changes is promoted from the first step to the second step in wave 1, the next set of changes from gamma is promoted into the first step of wave 1, so we don’t end up with large bundles of changes waiting to be deployed to production. The first two waves in the pipeline build the most confidence in the change: The first wave deploys to a Region with a low number of requests to limit the possible impact of the first production deployment of the new change. The wave deploys to only one Availability Zone (or cell) at a time within that Region to cautiously deploy the change across the Region. The second wave then deploys to one Availability Zone (or cell) at a time in a Region with a high number of requests where it is highly likely that customers will exercise all the new code paths and where we get good validation of the changes. After we have higher confidence in the safety of the change from the initial pipeline waves’ deployments, we can deploy to more and more Regions in parallel in the same wave. For example, the previous sample prod pipeline deploys to three Regions in wave 3, then to up to 12 Regions in wave 4, then to the remaining Regions in wave 5. The exact number and choice of Regions in each of these waves and the number of waves in a service team’s pipeline depend on the individual service’s usage patterns and scale. The later waves in the pipeline still help us achieve our objective to prevent negative impact to multiple Availability Zones in the same Region. When a wave deploys to multiple Regions in parallel, it follows the same cautious rollout behavior for each Region that was used in the initial waves. Each step in the wave only deploys to a single Availability Zone or cell from each Region in the wave.

    (tags: automation ops devops amazon aws deployment waves az multi-region ci cd)

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Links for 2020-06-22

  • FlexBuffers | Hacker News

    Fairly decent discussion on various binary encoding formats, with or without schemata, and with or without zero-copy

    (tags: flatbuffers flexbuffers json encoding data formats file-formats avro protobuf zerocopy sbe schemas)

  • _Measurement-Based Evaluation Of Google/Apple Exposure Notification API For Proximity Detection In A Commuter Bus_

    Douglas J. Leith, Stephen Farrell School of Computer Science & Statistics, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland 15th June 2020: ‘We report on the results of a measurement study carried out on a commuter bus in Dublin, Ireland using the Google/Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) API. Measurements were collected between 60 pairs of handset locations and are publicly available. We find that the attenuation level reported by the GAEN API need not increase with distance between handsets, consistent with there being a complex radio environment inside a bus caused by the metal-rich environment. Changing the people holding a pair of handsets, with the location of the handsets otherwise remaining unchanged, can cause variations of ±10dB in the attenuation level reported by the GAEN API. Applying the rule used by the Swiss Covid-19 contact tracing app to trigger an exposure notification to our bus measurements we find that no exposure notifications would have been triggered despite the fact that all pairs of handsets were within 2m of one another for at least 15 minutes. Applying an alternative threshold-based exposure notification rule can somewhat improve performance to a detection rate of 5% when an exposure duration threshold of 15 minutes is used, increasing to 8% when the exposure duration threshold is reduced to 10 minutes. Stratifying the data by distance between pairs of handsets indicates that there is only a weak dependence of detection rate on distance.’

    (tags: papers bluetooth contact-tracing exposure-notification covid-19 accuracy testing buses radio gaen mobile)

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Links for 2020-06-18

  • This War of Mine to be added to school reading list in Poland

    This War of Mine, which was first released in 2014, drew on the experiences of the Bosnian people during the Siege of Sarajevo in the 1990s. It won widespread acclaim for its realistic portrayal of the human cost of war, and had sold more than 4.5 million units in April 2019. The game will be included in the Polish reading list for the 2020/21 academic year, but will only be available to students aged 18 and above due to its age rating in the country. It will be recommended for those studying sociology, ethics, philosophy, and history, and will be available to students of those subjects for free.

    (tags: war history bosnia sarajevo games gaming poland school)

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Links for 2020-06-17

  • _Opportunistic Paper about COVID-19 using my Favorite Theoretical Approach_

    lol science: Mason Porter on Twitter: “I am here to help.”

    _Opportunistic Paper about COVID-19 using my Favorite Theoretical Approach_ Abstract: COVID-19 is a disease that is killing a lot of people. It really sucks. To help save the world (or at least add to my publication list), I examine the dynamics of COVID-19 transmission using my favorite theoretical approach, whether or not there is any justification or relevance for it. I do some curve fitting with previous data, and my theory seems to match the data pretty well (at least for some parameter values). I also find some evidence for universality, which may be interesting from the perspective of fundamental theory. A more practical application of my work is its influence on the signal-to-noise ratio of COVID-19 papers on preprint servers. I am here to help.

    (tags: funny papers preprints science physicists pet-theory latex argh)

  • “Internet folklorist” tracks down the origins of a “heart shaped honeycomb” meme

    A South African beekeeper called Brian Fanner created it by routing a heart-shaped pattern into the lid of a hive:

    ‘The things that come up are really funny from how bees have “artistic sensibilities” to bees creating that shape “to increase airflow”. I’ve seen companies using it in their websites and so many claiming it came out of their hive somewhere in the world. I used this board, routed in the slots… a rush job I’ll admit… waxed in some foundation strips into the slots and screwed inside a deep langstroth hive lid and stuck it on the hive. The bees made do best they could… The lines are slots into which a foundation wax with the comb pattern on it can be placed…secured with melted beeswax. Normally…a sheet…to guide the bees as to where to build. So they just come across this weird pattern of foundation strip and start building onto it. After that they just fill it out best they can. It’s a simple manipulation. The bees are Capensis. The honey was most likely early season succulent type plant called a ‘vygie’. I called the image ‘a sweet heart’ dedicated to my wife…per the very first post of it on my Facebook page in 2013.’

    (tags: beekeeping hives honey honeycomb history folklore facebook social-media brian-fanner bees)

  • A Shared File System for Your Lambda Functions

    AWS Lambda can now attach an EFS NFS filesystem. This is pretty cool tbh

    (tags: aws serverless lambda storage efs nfs ops)

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Links for 2020-06-16

  • Umarell

    I love this:

    Umarell (Italian pronunciation: [uma?r?l?]; modern revisitation of the Bolognese dialect word umarèl [uma?r??l]) is a term popular in Bologna referring specifically to men of retirement age who pass the time watching construction sites, especially roadworks – stereotypically with hands clasped behind their back and offering unwanted advice.[1]
    (via Mltshp)

    (tags: via:mltshp umarell building construction building-sites work spectators old funny words italian bologna)

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Links for 2020-06-13

  • The hidden patterns behind the Covid-19 map of Dublin

    Excellent article analyzing COVID-19 patterns here:

    The four new classes defined by Robert Reich might also apply to Ireland. The results of the analysis of Dublin infection cases from the HSE map which show the so-called Remotes are definitely present in the Irish society as the economic wealth is clearly related to chances of being infected. Recently published information shows that 1030 of Covid-19 deaths had happened inside of the nursing homes and other facilities caring for older. This represents 63% of total deaths from Covid-19 in Ireland and suggests that the so-called Forgotten class has suffered the most from the mismanaged public health policy which disregarded their specific life situation. The exact structure and divisions between the new classes of the Irish society in the new Covid-19 world can only be known with the extensive research and dissemination of data related to Covid-19 infections and deaths. It is crucial to abandon the current practices of omitting the data. We must apply the principles developed by John Snow in the 19th century which aim to collect and disseminate as much data as possible. This is the only way we will be able to develop the public health policy which will defeat the virus without scarifying the wellbeing of those who lack the privilege of having high economic and social status.

    (tags: covid-19 mapping society ireland dublin class)

  • Interpreting Covid-19 Test Results: A Bayesian Approach

    This is very clever — it hadn’t occurred to me at all, but of course it makes sense. tl;dr: prevalence, the prevailing rate of infection in the community, is a key factor in Covid-19 testing.

    a brief tutorial on Covid-19 testing, with an emphasis on a Bayesian approach. After presenting the basics, we’ll walk through four confusing Covid-19 testing scenarios, just to give you a feel for the kinds of pickles we often find ourselves in.

    (tags: prevalence covid-19 bayes bayesian statistics testing)

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Links for 2020-06-09

  • How We Solved the Worst Minigame in Zelda’s History

    a lovely bit of RNG hacking in this YouTube speedrun vid

    (tags: videos youtube rng prng hacks cool via:reddit)

  • The Climate Case for a Jobs Guarantee

    Kim Stanley Robinson on a Jobs Guarantee:

    It would mean that governments would set a higher minimum wage than ever before, and if that minimum were a true living wage, private enterprise would have to match it to attract workers. And then, suddenly, everyone would be both employed and making a decent living. Private enterprises would therefore have more prosperous customers, and all would then rise in a virtuous cycle. Given the immense stresses that climate change is sure to bring, finding useful work for people would not be a problem. There will be a lot to do. Recall that 5% unemployment is often said to be the “natural” level, such that markets get nervous when the jobless rate goes lower than that. Unemployment at 5% is said to create “wage pressure,” which it definitely does, because millions of people are thereby living in fear and will take any job they can get, even ones that don’t pay enough for a secure life. The phrase “wage pressure” is yet another indication of how markets exert power to keep power. In this context, a Job Guarantee would erase wage pressure (meaning fear and misery), and the less fearful and more productive populace that resulted might thrive in a feeling of security.

    (tags: jobs work unemployment economics economy qe future ksr scifi climate-change)

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Links for 2020-06-08

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Links for 2020-06-06

  • No, coronavirus apps don’t need 60% adoption to be effective | MIT Technology Review

    But even though the researchers know that lower levels of adoption will be useful, they aren’t entirely sure what different ranges will actually mean. Still, every successful notification means a life potentially saved. Fraser says his team had assumed that lower levels of usage might have very small benefits—but that, in fact, simulations show the upsides are significantly higher than they thought. “The expectation going in was that app usage wouldn’t be very effective at low levels,” he says. “If you have 10% of people using the app, then the chance of contact between two people being detected is 10% of 10%, which is 1%—a tiny fraction. What we found in the simulation was that that actually isn’t the case. We’ve been working to understand why we actually see benefits of usage accruing.”

    (tags: contact-tracing apps exposure-notification covid-19 papers)

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Links for 2020-06-05

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Links for 2020-06-03

  • The Italian Covid contact-tracing app is now developed in open source

    The Immuni exposure notification app, based on the Google/Apple protocol, is now OSS and up on Github. Sounds like HN are generally positive about its implementation

    (tags: immuni italy covid-19 exposure-notification contact-tracing apps android ios)

  • We should have done more, admits architect of Sweden’s Covid-19 strategy

    Annike Linde, [Anders] Tegnell’s predecessor as chief epidemiologist from 2005 to 2013, said last week that she had initially backed the country’s strategy, but had begun to reassess her view as the virus swept through the elderly population. “There was no strategy at all for the elderly, I now understand,” Linde told the Swedish state broadcaster. “I do not understand how they can stand and say the level of preparedness was good, when in fact it was lousy.”

    (tags: sweden covid-19 lockdowns anders-tegnell pandemics herd-immunity)

  • Japan’s approach to combat COVID-19 [pdf]

    Very interesting and detailed presentation, particularly the info about how they perform retrospective contact tracing to narrow down the sources of community transmission and monitor other contacts, who may be asymptomatic but still infectious.

    (tags: covid-19 japan pandemics contact-tracing clusters infection)

  • We’re All Living In The Cool Zone Now – VICE

    The Cool Zone is usually defined by people on Twitter as a period in history that’s super cool to read about, but much less cool to live through. This definition is usually attributed to Matt Christman from the leftist podcast Chapo Trap House. Looking back on what parts of history I like to read about, it makes sense. Reading about the long, protracted war in Vietnam is fascinating, for instance, but I do not wish to live through any part of the Vietnam War. Nor do I wish to live in Vichy France, or be part of the original Black Panthers movement, or to wage a revolution against the King of France, or be tossed in jail for a lunch counter sit-in like my father was in Selma. I counted myself lucky to be able to read about resistance leaders who took stands without being forced to make such a stand myself. Except, well, now I am, as I march in the streets with thousands of others all across New York City and the country.

    (tags: cool-zone history change twitter chapo-trap-house)

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Links for 2020-06-02

  • OPINION: Coronavirus Response Is Haunted By Colonialism

    There was public knowledge of a viral respiratory epidemic threat from China in January, yet serious nationwide public health responses in the U.S. and U.K. did not start until March 2020. Even once it became clear that wealthy countries were at risk, there was a widespread reluctance to learn from China and from other Asian countries. The American reaction focused instead on blaming China – consider President Trump’s use of the term “Chinese virus.” China was further criticized for using draconian measures when millions of people in Wuhan were put under lockdown – even though the countries of the West that denigrated such tactics might today be better off if they had acted similarly. Indeed, recent data suggests that the majority of cases in the United States came from New York City. Restricting travel out of the city, as was done in Wuhan, might have meant far fewer cases in the U.S.

    (tags: colonialism diseases covid-19 history neocolonialism china usa uk asia)

  • CA Root expired on 30 May 2020 | Hacker News

    A root CA cert from Certigo expired over the weekend and lots and lots of shit broke. SSL PKI is awful.

    (tags: ca certificates ssl tls pki pain oncall fail ops security)

  • Will there be a second Covid wave?

    in science, you hold all your variables constant except one: keep the lid on your styrofoam cup and your china cup. That’s true, and if we were doing pure science — if we only cared about finding out what lockdown measures worked and which didn’t — then it would be simple: introduce measures one at a time, wait and see, do it slowly.  But we’re not doing pure science. We’re also trying to make a country that works for its citizens, in conditions that change daily. “We’re trying to build a plane as we fly it,” my US epidemiologist told me. The most important thing, according to Javid, will be “nimbleness; being able to change policy in the light of new evidence”. If it turns out opening schools was wrong, then close them again. And we in the media need to be wary of shouting about mistakes and U-turns and instead say: when the facts change, you change your mind.

    (tags: science epidemiology covid-19 second-wave lockdown medicine u-turns)

  • Origami Maze Puzzle Font

    ‘any orthogonal maze, with vertical walls protruding equal heights from a rectangular floor, can be folded efficiently from a rectangle of paper just a small factor larger than the floor. The design algorithm has been implemented as a freely available web application you can design a maze or generate one randomly, and the application produces a crease pattern, which you can print and fold into your design’

    (tags: origami fonts text puzzles mazes)

  • Hoare’s Rebuttal and Bubble Sort’s Comeback

    New processor behaviour means everything we know about performance optimization is wrong again:

    We’ve seen how crucial it is to understand data dependencies in order to optimize code. Especially hidden memory dependencies between load and stores can greatly influence performance of work loops. Understanding the data dependency graph of code is often where the real performance gains lie, yet very little attention is given to it in the blogosphere. I’ve read many articles about the impact of branch mispredictions, importance of data locality and caches, but much less about data dependencies. I bet that a question like “why are linked lists slow?” is answered by many in terms of locality, caches or unpredictable random memory access. At least I’ve heard those reasons often, even Stroustrup says as much. Those reasons can play a part, but it’s not the main reason. Fundamentally iterating a linked list has a load-to-use on the critical path, making it 5 times slower than iterating a flat array. Furthermore accessing flat arrays allow loop unrolling which can further improve ILP.

    (tags: data-dependencies sorting algorithms performance optimization coding)

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Links for 2020-05-29

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Links for 2020-05-22

  • Coronavirus hijacks cells in unique ways that suggest how to treat it – STAT

    Recent studies show that in seizing control of genes in the human cells it invades, the virus changes how segments of DNA are read, doing so in a way that might explain why the elderly are more likely to die of Covid-19 and why antiviral drugs might not only save sick patients’ lives but also prevent severe disease if taken before infection. “It’s something I have never seen in my 20 years of” studying viruses, said virologist Benjamin tenOever of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, referring to how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, hijacks cells’ genomes.

    (tags: coronavirus covid-19 sars-cov-2 genes immunology interferons antibodies)

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Links for 2020-05-21

  • Patent case against GNOME resolved

    Great result for open source at large, too!

    Today, on the 20th of May 2020, the GNOME Foundation, Rothschild Patent Imaging, and Leigh M. Rothschild are pleased to announce that the patent dispute between Rothschild Patent Imaging and GNOME has been settled. In this walk-away settlement, GNOME receives a release and covenant not to be sued for any patent held by Rothschild Patent Imaging. Further, both Rothschild Patent Imaging and Leigh Rothschild are granting a release and covenant to any software that is released under an existing Open Source Initiative approved license (and subsequent versions thereof), including for the entire Rothschild portfolio of patents, to the extent such software forms a material part of the infringement allegation.

    (tags: patents software swpats gnome open-source via:mjg)

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Links for 2020-05-20

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Links for 2020-05-19

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Links for 2020-05-18

  • ECDC COVID-19 Contact Tracing Guidelines

    Current guidelines for contact tracing and infection control of COVID-19 in the EU. Good data, with sources!, on what’s recommended here (although of course each country can make their own guidelines).

    (tags: covid-19 pandemics contact-tracing eu medicine)

  • An open letter to software engineers criticizing Neil Ferguson’s epidemics simulation code

    the main message of this letter is something different: it’s about your role in this story. That’s of course a collective you, not you the individual reading this letter. It’s you, the software engineering community, that is responsible for tools like C++ that look as if they were designed for shooting yourself in the foot. It’s also you, the software engineering community, that has made no effort to warn the non-expert public of the dangers of these tools. Sure, you have been discussing these dangers internally, even a lot. But to outsiders, such as computational scientists looking for implementation tools for their models, these discussions are hard to find and hard to understand. There are lots of tutorials teaching C++ to novices, but I have yet to see a single one that starts with a clear warning about the dangers. You know, the kind of warning that every instruction manual for a microwave oven starts with: don’t use this to dry your dog after a bath. A clear message saying “Unless you are willing to train for many years to become a software engineer yourself, this tool is not for you.”

    (tags: software coding engineering science teaching c++)

  • The ‘lockdown sceptics’ want a culture war, with experts as the enemy | Coronavirus outbreak | The Guardian

    in the comment sections of some of the rightwing press, a new, virulent strain of Covid-19 scepticism has emerged that is the precise opposite of journalism. Rather than holding power to account, it distorts and bends reality to serve elite interests – and to warp public debate. In the pages of the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator and other outlets, Britain’s contemporary “lockdown sceptics” have dedicated themselves to a singular cause: proving that the UK response to coronavirus has been a massive, hysterical overreaction. “Lift the lockdown” is their cogito ergo sum; Sweden their promised land.

    (tags: lockdown uk politics brexit experts daily-telegraph spectator right-wing covid-19 sceptics libertarians contrarians culture-war)

  • MyDIY

    Dublin online supplier of DIY equipment and parts, apparently decent enough. Free shipping for orders over 50 Euro

    (tags: diy building construction home dublin ireland)

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Links for 2020-05-14

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Links for 2020-05-13

  • An evidence summary of Paediatric COVID-19 literature

    ‘This post is a rapid literature review of pertinent paediatric literature regarding COVID-19 disease. We are proud to have joined forces with the UK Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to provide systematic search, and selected reviews of all the COVID-19 literature relevant to children and young people. Here we present the top 10 papers from each category (Paediatric clinical cases, Epidemiology and transmission, and Neonates). At the top is an Executive summary followed by all New and noteworthy studies.’

    (tags: covid-19 epidemiology diseases transmission school kids children)

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Links for 2020-05-12

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Links for 2020-05-11

  • The Risks – Know Them – Avoid Them

    Informative blog post summarising the dangers of enclosed spaces with a high density of people and poor air circulation in spreading COVID-19:

    Ignoring the terrible outbreaks in nursing homes, we find that the biggest outbreaks are in prisons, religious ceremonies, and workplaces, such a meat packing facilities and call centers. Any environment that is enclosed, with poor air circulation and high density of people, spells trouble. [….] Basically, as the work closures are loosened, and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgments. How many people are here, how much airflow is there around me, and how long will I be in this environment. If you are in an open floorplan office, you really need critically assess the risk (volume, people, and airflow). If you are in a job that requires face-to-face talking or even worse, yelling, you need to assess the risk. If I am outside, and I walk past someone, remember it is “dose and time” needed for infection. You would have to be in their airstream for 5+ minutes for a chance of infection. While joggers may be releasing more virus due to deep breathing, remember the exposure time is also less due to their speed.

    (tags: covid-19 health viruses infection epidemiology diseases work)

  • ‘Finally, a virus got me.’ Scientist who fought Ebola and HIV reflects on facing death from COVID-19

    Dr. Peter Piot reflects on his bout with COVID-19:

    ‘Many people think COVID-19 kills 1% of patients, and the rest get away with some flulike symptoms. But the story gets more complicated. Many people will be left with chronic kidney and heart problems. Even their neural system is disrupted. There will be hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, possibly more, who will need treatments such as renal dialysis for the rest of their lives.’

    (tags: covid-19 cytokine-storms immunology health diseases peter-piot)

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Links for 2020-05-08

  • Universal basic income seems to improve employment and well-being | New Scientist

    The world’s most robust study of universal basic income has concluded that it boosts recipients’ mental and financial well-being, as well as modestly improving employment. Finland ran a two-year universal basic income study in 2017 and 2018, during which the government gave 2000 unemployed people aged between 25 and 58 monthly payments with no strings attached. The payments of €560 per month weren’t means tested and were unconditional, so they weren’t reduced if an individual got a job or later had a pay rise.

    (tags: finland ubi dole unemployment society money life)

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Links for 2020-05-07

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Links for 2020-05-06

  • COVID-19 immunity passports and vaccination certificates: scientific, equitable, and legal challenges – The Lancet

    Caution is warranted about how population level serology studies and individual tests are used. It is not yet established whether the presence of detectable antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to further infection in humans and, if so, what amount of antibody is needed for protection or how long any such immunity lasts.3 Data from sufficiently representative serological studies will be important for understanding the proportion of a population that has been infected with SARS-CoV-2. These data might inform decisions to ease physical distancing restrictions at the community level, provided that they are used in combination with other public health approaches.5 The use of seroprevalence data to inform policy making will depend on the accuracy and reliability of tests, particularly the number of false-positive and false-negative results, and requires further validation.6 At the individual level, this reliability could have public health ramifications: a false-positive result might lead to an individual changing their behaviour despite still being susceptible to infection, potentially becoming infected, and unknowingly transmitting the virus to others. Individual-targeted policies predicated on antibody testing, such as immunity passports, are not only impractical given these current gaps in knowledge and technical limitations, but also pose considerable equitable and legal concerns, even if such limitations are rectified.

    (tags: immunity covid-19 future society vaccination)

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Links for 2020-05-05

  • Face Masks for the General Public | Royal Society DELVE Initiative

    Face masks could offer an important tool for contributing to the management of community transmission of Covid19 within the general population. Evidence supporting their potential effectiveness comes from analysis of: (1) the incidence of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission; (2) the role of respiratory droplets in transmission, which can travel as far as 1-2 meters; and (3) studies of the use of homemade and surgical masks to reduce droplet spread. Our analysis suggests that their use could reduce onward transmission by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic wearers if widely used in situations where physical distancing is not possible or predictable, contrasting to the standard use of masks for the protection of wearers. If correctly used on this basis, face masks, including homemade cloth masks, can contribute to reducing viral transmission.

    (tags: facemasks masks health covid-19 uk infection)

  • Tim Bray: Bye, Amazon

    This takes a lot of guts, I’m impressed:

    May 1st was my last day as a VP and Distinguished Engineer at Amazon Web Services, after five years and five months of rewarding fun. I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19.

    (tags: amazon aws ethics tim-bray covid-19 pandemics health workers-rights taking-a-stand)

  • 7 Upper Back Stretches For Pain Relief – YouTube

    recommendation from Damien Mulley — useful with my current shit homeworking setup

    (tags: wfh exercises back health stretches posture ergonomics via:mulley)

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Links for 2020-05-03

  • The Coronavirus and Our Future

    Top notch KSR:

    We know that our accidental alteration of the atmosphere is leading us into a mass-extinction event, and that we need to move fast to dodge it. But we don’t act on what we know. We don’t want to change our habits. This knowing-but-not-acting is part of the old structure of feeling. Now comes this disease that can kill anyone on the planet. It’s invisible; it spreads because of the way we move and congregate. Instantly, we’ve changed. As a society, we’re watching the statistics, following the recommendations, listening to the scientists. Do we believe in science? Go outside and you’ll see the proof that we do everywhere you look. We’re learning to trust our science as a society. That’s another part of the new structure of feeling.

    (tags: covid-19 ksr kim-stanley-robinson future sf feeling society pandemics climate-change)

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Links for 2020-05-01

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Links for 2020-04-29

  • Kim Stanley Robinson proposing “carbon quantitative easing”

    I love this idea. “It would be complicated and messy, sure, but not as complicated and messy as a mass extinction event”

    (tags: finance carbon climate-change kim-stanley-robinson economics quantative-easing future green-recovery)

  • Joint Statement regarding the NHSX contact tracing app

    From over 170 UK infosec and privacy scientists and researchers —

    It has been reported that NHSX is discussing an approach which records centrally the de-anonymised ID of someone who is infected and also the IDs of all those with whom the infected person has been in contact. This facility would enable (via mission creep) a form of surveillance. Echoing the letter signed by 300 international leading researchers, we note that it is vital that, when we come out of the current crisis, we have not created a tool that enables data collection on the population, or on targeted sections of society, for surveillance. Thus, solutions which allow reconstructing invasive information about individuals must be fully justified. Such invasive information can include the “social graph” of who someone has physically met over a period of time. With access to the social graph, a bad actor (state, private sector, or hacker) could spy on citizens’ real-world activities. We are particularly unnerved by a declaration that such a social graph is indeed aimed for by NHSX. We understand that the current proposed design is intended to meet the requirements set out by the public health teams, but we have seen conflicting advice from different groups about how much data the public health teams need. We hold that the usual data protection principles should apply: collect the minimum data necessary to achieve the objective of the application. We hold it is vital that if you are to build the necessary trust in the application the level of data being collected is justified publicly by the public health teams demonstrating why this is truly necessary rather than simply the easiest way, or a “nice to have”, given the dangers involved and invasive nature of the technology.

    (tags: nhs nhsx privacy data-privacy security contact-tracing covid-19 surveillance)

  • Revealed: the inside story of the UK’s Covid-19 crisis

    Wow, the knives are out inside the UK government. Massive leaks from the SAGE and other committees, to the Guardian, as the scientists involve find themselves being blamed for the UK’s COVID-19 disaster

    (tags: uk government covid-19 omnishambles leaks guardian)

  • For future use: “Fancy dataviz” vs “best chart for the data”

    great pic from Rodolfo Almeida on Twitter

    (tags: twitter funny comic dataviz graphs visualisation)

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Links for 2020-04-28

  • Coronavirus and Brexit: the connections and their consequences

    Have to agree with this…

    What both Brexit and coronavirus reveal are some fundamental flaws in the way [the UK] are governed and the political discourse around it. The populist explosion of this decade, of which Brexit was a prime example, has bequeathed a way of governing which is impervious to reason, and incapable of engaging with complexity. It isn’t just chance that we have a woefully incompetent Prime Minister, a dud stand in, and a cabinet of mediocrities, propped up by a cadre of special advisors with few skills beyond contrarian posturing. They are the legacy of Brexit. They were brought into power by Brexit. But all the things which secured the vote for Brexit – the clever-but-dumb messaging, the leadership-by-slogan, the appeal to nostalgic sentiment, the disdain for facts and evidence, the valorisation of anger and divisiveness, the bluff ‘commonsense’ and the ‘bluffers’ book’ knowledge – are without exception precisely the opposite of what is needed for effective governance in general, and crisis management in particular.

    (tags: uk-politics uk politics brexit covid-19 government populism crisis-management)

  • Google’s medical AI was super accurate in a lab. Real life was a different story. | MIT Technology Review

    When it worked well, the AI did speed things up. But it sometimes failed to give a result at all. Like most image recognition systems, the deep-learning model had been trained on high-quality scans; to ensure accuracy, it was designed to reject images that fell below a certain threshold of quality. With nurses scanning dozens of patients an hour and often taking the photos in poor lighting conditions, more than a fifth of the images were rejected. Patients whose images were kicked out of the system were told they would have to visit a specialist at another clinic on another day. If they found it hard to take time off work or did not have a car, this was obviously inconvenient. Nurses felt frustrated, especially when they believed the rejected scans showed no signs of disease and the follow-up appointments were unnecessary. They sometimes wasted time trying to retake or edit an image that the AI had rejected. Because the system had to upload images to the cloud for processing, poor internet connections in several clinics also caused delays. “Patients like the instant results, but the internet is slow and patients then complain,” said one nurse. “They’ve been waiting here since 6 a.m., and for the first two hours we could only screen 10 patients.” The Google Health team is now working with local medical staff to design new workflows. For example, nurses could be trained to use their own judgment in borderline cases. The model itself could also be tweaked to handle imperfect images better. 

    (tags: google health medicine ai automation software internet developing-world real-world images scanning)

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Links for 2020-04-27

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Links for 2020-04-24

  • Cloud Jewels: Estimating kWh in the Cloud – Code as Craft

    Good stuff from Etsy, who are attempting to reduce their non-renewable energy usage:

    Cloud providers generally do not disclose to customers how much energy their services consume. To make up for this lack of data, we created a set of conversion factors called Cloud Jewels to help us roughly convert our cloud usage information (like Google Cloud usage data) into approximate energy used. We are publishing this research to begin a conversation and a collaboration that we hope you’ll join, especially if you share our concerns about climate change.

    (tags: energy green climate-change power etsy kwh measurement estimation)

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Links for 2020-04-22

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