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


    (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


    (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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Links for 2019-10-17

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Links for 2019-10-16

  • How a new class of startups are working to solve the grid storage puzzle – MIT Technology Review

    A rake of energy storage startups, from giant batteries to molten salt to cranes and barrels

    (tags: energy energy-storage startups future climate-change technology batteries)

  • How A Massive Facebook Scam Siphoned Millions Of Dollars From Unsuspecting Boomers

    Since 2015, Ads Inc. has made money — lots of it — by executing one of the internet’s most persistent, lucrative, and sophisticated scams: the subscription trap. The subscription trap works by tricking people into buying what they think is a single free trial of a celebrity-endorsed product. Although the customers would receive the product — which in most cases was not made by Ads Inc. itself — in reality, the celebrity has nothing to do with the offer. And in purchasing the free trial, the customer unwittingly commits to a pricey monthly subscription designed to be hard to cancel. As for the products, a current employee described the diet and male enhancement offerings as, “the worst of the worst … China-made sawdust in a capsule.” But the subscription trap was just one part of Ads Inc.’s shady business practices. Burke’s genius was in fusing the scam with a boiler room–style operation that relied on convincing thousands of average people to rent their personal Facebook accounts to the company, which Ads Inc. then used to place ads for its deceptive free trial offers. That strategy enabled his company to run a huge volume of misleading Facebook ads, targeting consumers all around the world in a lucrative and sophisticated enterprise, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found.

    (tags: facebook scams ads-inc subscriptions account-rental scammers social-media)

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Links for 2019-10-15

  • Computer says no: the people trapped in universal credit’s ‘black hole’

    This is some horrifically dystopian shit from the UK:

    Tears filled the eyes of Danny Brice, 47, in London when he showed the Guardian how difficult he has found negotiating the UC programme with learning disabilities and dyslexia. “I call it the black hole,” he said. “I feel shaky. I get stressed about it. This is the worst system in my lifetime. They assess you as a number not a person. Talking is the way forward, not a bloody computer. I feel like the computer is controlling me instead of a person. It’s terrifying.” Nine million people in the UK are functionally illiterate and 5 million adults have either never used the internet or last used it more than three months ago. And yet many of these people rely on a “digital by default” welfare system.

    (tags: poverty ai algorithms uk politics universal-credit dystopia bureaucracy dwp benefits grim-meathook-future)

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Links for 2019-10-14

  • Unpopular opinions on solar power

    from Jenny “@solar_chase” Chase. Lots of interesting solar-power factoids, like: 12. A lot of current household PV systems are designed suboptimally and may not make economic sense or even perform well. Also, most countries will move to paying a pittance for solar exports, so self-consumption rate is becoming the most important financial parameter. 13. To financially assess a proposed rooftop solar system, you will need at least a year’s data on hourly electricity consumption to estimate selfconsumption. Also, get it built when you have scaffolding up for something else, scaffolding is expensive.

    (tags: solar solar-power power electricity generation renewables future factoids twitter)

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Links for 2019-10-11

  • thoughts on rms and gnu — wingolog

    I can hear you saying it. RMS started GNU so RMS decides what it is and what it can be. But I don’t accept that. GNU is about practical software freedom, not about RMS. GNU has long outgrown any individual contributor. I don’t think RMS has the legitimacy to tell this group of largely volunteers what we should build or how we should organize ourselves. Or rather, he can say what he thinks, but he has no dominion over GNU; he does not have majority sweat equity in the project. If RMS actually wants the project to outlive him — something that by his actions is not clear — the best thing that he could do for GNU is to stop pretending to run things, to instead declare victory and retire to an emeritus role. Note, however, that my personal perspective here is not a consensus position of the GNU project. There are many (most?) GNU developers that still consider RMS to be GNU’s rightful leader. I think they are mistaken, but I do not repudiate them for this reason; we can work together while differing on this and other matters. I simply state that I, personally, do not serve RMS.

    (tags: rms gnu leadership open-source foss free-software organisations emeritus)

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Links for 2019-10-10

  • UK launched passport photo checker it knew would fail with dark skin | New Scientist

    “User research was carried out with a wide range of ethnic groups and did identify that people with very light or very dark skin found it difficult to provide an acceptable passport photograph,” the department wrote in a document released in response to a freedom of information (FOI) request. “However; the overall performance was judged sufficient to deploy.” Samir Jeraj at the Race Equality Foundation says: “It’s outrageous. It clearly shows it wasn’t a priority for them that it would work for people with black skin.” Jeraj called on the government to be clearer and more robust about what improvements it will make, and by when. In the meantime, he adds it would not cost the passport office anything to put a note on its website acknowledging the issue.
    And it took a fecking FOI to discover this! Terrible.

    (tags: passports racism uk photos biometrics data-quality home-office equality)

  • Origins of the Party Parrot

    … just this week, I got an email from a Florida man claiming to be the person I had been looking for. What’s more, he says he made the original emoji in December 2009 and uploaded it to Something Awful, a website popular in the 2000s for its comedic blog posts and forums. He had no idea his work had turned into a meme until he read my story on Tuesday. 

    (tags: something-awful memes history party-parrot emoticons internet)

  • libeatmydata

    ‘a small LD_PRELOAD library designed to (transparently) disable fsync (and friends, like open(O_SYNC)). This has two side-effects: making software that writes data safely to disk a lot quicker and making this software no longer crash safe.’ Good for tests….

    (tags: fsync linux performance mysql testing)

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Links for 2019-10-09


    this is incredible

    (tags: gaming magazines funny retrogaming arcade-games games parody digitiser)

  • Gen A

    Most of those under the age of around forty will live lives defined by the anthropocene: by the immense challenges contained in mounting climate chaos and ecological collapse. As these twin calamities evolve, there will be no meaningful way to distinguish between those young generations delineated by marketing agencies: Gen Z and Millennials, the two big generations still under forty. Instead, they will likely become a single transition generation overseeing our move from the old world to a new one. Their shared experiences will be grafted together by the wildfires they’ll weather together, their shared values moulded and alloyed by the acts of violence that have always trailed ecological collapse. The existential crisis inherent to this transition is so dire and so unique that our usual way of demarcating generational cohorts needs revamping, and the generation experiencing it needs a new designation. Welcome Generation Anthropocene, or Gen A, to the social scene.

    (tags: gen-a generations future youth anthropocene climate-change)

  • 150 successful machine learning models: 6 lessons learned at

    Good tips for real-world production ML/classification adoption.

    One tactic have successfully deployed in these situations with respect to binary classifiers is to look at the distribution of responses generated by the model. “Smooth bimodal distributions with one clear stable point are signs of a model that successfully distinguishes two classes.” Other shapes (see figure below) can be indicative of a model that is struggling.
    Also very interesting to note that people found an over-accurate prediction engine to be “creepy” and an example of the “uncanny valley” effect.

    (tags: learning ml ai machine-learning production

  • A quarter of UK mammals and nearly half of birds are at risk of extinction

    A quarter of UK mammals and nearly half of the birds assessed are at risk of extinction, according to the report, which was produced by a coalition of more than 70 wildlife organisations and government conservation agencies. When plants, insects and fungi are added, one in seven of the 8,400 UK species assessed are at risk of being completely lost, with 133 already gone since 1500.

    (tags: xr news horrifying extinction uk wildlife future climate-change)

  • Revealed: the 20 firms behind a third of all carbon emissions

    The top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35% of all energy-related carbon dioxide and methane worldwide, totalling 480bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) since 1965. Those identified range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell – to state-owned companies including Saudi Aramco and Gazprom. Chevron topped the list of the eight investor-owned corporations, followed closely by Exxon, BP and Shell. Together these four global businesses are behind more than 10% of the world’s carbon emissions since 1965.

    (tags: coal emissions business gas oil fossil-fuels climate-change co2 carbon chevron exxon bp shell)

  • The big polluters’ masterstroke was to blame the climate crisis on you and me | George Monbiot | Opinion | The Guardian

    the biggest and most successful lie it tells is this: that the first great extermination is a matter of consumer choice. In response to the Guardian’s questions, some of the oil companies argued that they are not responsible for our decisions to use their products. But we are embedded in a system of their creation – a political, economic and physical infrastructure that creates an illusion of choice while, in reality, closing it down. We are guided by an ideology so familiar and pervasive that we do not even recognise it as an ideology. It is called consumerism. It has been crafted with the help of skilful advertisers and marketers, by corporate celebrity culture, and by a media that casts us as the recipients of goods and services rather than the creators of political reality. It is locked in by transport, town planning and energy systems that make good choices all but impossible. It spreads like a stain through political systems, which have been systematically captured by lobbying and campaign finance, until political leaders cease to represent us, and work instead for the pollutocrats who fund them. In such a system, individual choices are lost in the noise. […] This individuation of responsibility, intrinsic to consumerism, blinds us to the real drivers of destruction.

    (tags: capitalism consumerism fossil-fuels climate-change plastic-straws keep-cups)

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Links for 2019-10-08

  • Scylla compression benchmarks

    ScyllaDB tested out LZ4, Snappy, DEFLATE, and ZStandard at several different levels on a decently real-world-ish workload. tl;dr:

    Use compression. Unless you are using a really (but REALLY) fast hard drive, using the default compression settings will be even faster than disabling compression, and the space savings are huge. When running a data warehouse where data is mostly being read and only rarely updated, consider using DEFLATE. It provides very good compression ratios while maintaining high decompression speeds; compression can be slower, but that might be unimportant for your workload. If your workload is write-heavy but you really care about saving disk space, consider using ZStandard on level 1. It provides a good middle-ground between LZ4/Snappy and DEFLATE in terms of compression ratios and keeps compression speeds close to LZ4 and Snappy. Be careful however: if you often want to read cold data (from the SSTables on disk, not currently stored in memory, so for example data that was inserted a long time ago), the slower decompression might become a problem.

    (tags: compression scylladb storage deflate zstd zstandard lz4 snappy gzip benchmarks tests performance)

  • Financial supports to growing forests on farmland in Ireland

    Rather than focusing on the production of a commercial conifer (or broadleaf) timber crop, you can also choose to establish a new native woodland. Not only will an ecologically rich, biodiverse woodland be created, but it also presents opportunities for planting in various environmentally sensitive areas such as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). Establishing a native woodland will provide you with higher annual payments of €665-€680/ha/yr for 15 years.

    (tags: farming forestry trees growing rewilding ireland funds)

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Links for 2019-10-07

  • electricityMap

    This is fascinating! ‘a live visualization of where your electricity comes from and how much CO2 was emitted to produce it.’ (via

    (tags: electricity statistics graphs data energy climate renewables carbon co2)

  • Project Drawdown

    ‘The objective of the solutions list is to be inclusive, presenting an extensive array of impactful measures already in existence. The list is comprised primarily of “no regrets” solutions—actions that make sense to take regardless of their climate impact since they have intrinsic benefits to communities and economies. These initiatives improve lives, create jobs, restore the environment, enhance security, generate resilience, and advance human health.’ A little over-optimistic IMO, but a good resource nonetheless

    (tags: climate-change society environment climate drawdown future)

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Links for 2019-10-04

  • “See bike, say bike”

    This is useful advice, on how to avoid the SMIDSY, or “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”, accident type.

    When we looked at what predicts whether you do remember the motorbike, it’s not whether you looked at it, or how long you looked at it for, it’s what you do afterwards. So the more things you look at after the motorbike, the more likely you are to forget it. Now that looks like forgetting, not a failure to attend to it in the first place. […] it looks as though this error is a limitation in short term memory. Now what we do know about short term memory, and we’ve known since the 1960s, is that you’ve got two types of short term memory that are essentially independent systems. You’ve got visuospatial working memory, for the things you look at and you’ve got phonological short term memory. That’s a verbal form of store for things you say. The two are separate. So I’ve suggested that if you’re at a junction and you see a motorbike or a pedal cycle coming, you just say aloud or under your breath, “bike”, that will automatically encode it in phonological working memory. That gives you extra capacity, essentially doubling the amount of stuff you can remember. See bike, say bike could be a simple intervention that might make a big difference.

    (tags: memory cycling safety roads driving smidsy accidents attention brain)

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Links for 2019-10-02

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Links for 2019-10-01

  • JSON originally had comments. They were removed

    Oh christ. This is some terrible logic from Douglas Crockford:

    Comments in JSON (Apr 30, 2012) I removed comments from JSON because I saw people were using them to hold parsing directives, a practice which would have destroyed interoperability. I know that the lack of comments makes some people sad, but it shouldn’t. Suppose you are using JSON to keep configuration files, which you would like to annotate. Go ahead and insert all the comments you like. Then pipe it through JSMin before handing it to your JSON parser.
    I’ve never even _heard_ of JSMin. Meanwhile various tools which chose to use JSON as a configuration file format work around this crappy decision with messy hacks.

    (tags: hacks json bad-decisions design apis configuration file-formats javascript douglas-crockford fail jsmin parsing comments)

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Links for 2019-09-30

  • How To Use The Bridgefy Offline Messaging App

    Decent offline messaging system for smartphones — uses Bluetooth to connect p2p, without requiring working internet

    (tags: apps mobile offline networking bluetooth chat emergency)

  • The Loudest Sound Ever Heard

    The Krakatoa explosion registered 172 decibels at 100 miles from the source. This is so astonishingly loud, that it’s inching up against the limits of what we mean by “sound.” When you hum a note or speak a word, you’re wiggling air molecules back and forth dozens or hundreds of times per second, causing the air pressure to be low in some places and high in other places. The louder the sound, the more intense these wiggles, and the larger the fluctuations in air pressure. But there’s a limit to how loud a sound can get. At some point, the fluctuations in air pressure are so large that the low pressure regions hit zero pressure—a vacuum—and you can’t get any lower than that. This limit happens to be about 194 decibels for a sound in Earth’s atmosphere. Any louder, and the sound is no longer just passing through the air, it’s actually pushing the air along with it, creating a pressurized burst of moving air known as a shock wave.[…] Amazingly, for as many as 5 days after the explosion, weather stations in 50 cities around the globe observed this unprecedented spike in pressure re-occuring like clockwork, approximately every 34 hours. That is roughly how long it takes sound to travel around the entire planet.

    (tags: sound shockwaves earth krakatoa disasters volcanos eruptions noise decibels)

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