Links for 2018-04-09

  • If iPads were meant for kids

    A long list of the misfeatures that IOS/Android devices have regarding child use. 100% agreed with this

    (tags: ios ipad iphone parenting devices kids android youtube)

  • A Closer Look at Experian Big Data and Artificial Intelligence in Durham Police

    ‘UK police bought profiling data for their artificial intelligence (AI) system, deciding whether to hold suspects in custody, from … Experian.’ ‘The AI tool uses 34 data categories including the offender’s criminal history, combined with their age, gender and two types of residential postcode. The use of postcode data is problematic in predictive software of this kind as it carries a risk of perpetuating bias towards areas marked by community deprivation.’

    (tags: experian marketing credit-score data policing uk durham ai statistics crime hart)

  • lemire/JavaFastPFOR: A simple integer compression library in Java

    a library to compress and uncompress arrays of integers very fast. The assumption is that most (but not all) values in your array use much less than 32 bits, or that the gaps between the integers use much less than 32 bits. These sort of arrays often come up when using differential coding in databases and information retrieval (e.g., in inverted indexes or column stores). Please note that random integers are not compressible, by this library or by any other means. If you ever had the means of systematically compressing random integers, you could compress any data source to nothing, by recursive application of your technique. This library can decompress integers at a rate of over 1.2 billions per second (4.5 GB/s). It is significantly faster than generic codecs (such as Snappy, LZ4 and so on) when compressing arrays of integers. The library is used in LinkedIn Pinot, a realtime distributed OLAP datastore. Part of this library has been integrated in Parquet ( A modified version of the library is included in the search engine Terrier ( This libary is used by ClueWeb Tools ( It is also used by Apache NiFi.

    (tags: compression java pfor encoding integers algorithms storage)

  • Austerity is an Algorithm

    Fucking hell, things sound grim Down Under:

    Things changed in December 2016, when the government announced that the system had undergone full automation. Humans would no longer investigate anomalies in earnings. Instead, debt notices would be automatically generated when inconsistencies were detected. The government’s rationale for automating the process was telling. “Our aim is to ensure that people get what they are entitled to—no more and no less,” read the press release. “And to crack down hard when people deliberately defraud the system.” The result was a disaster. I’ve had friends who’ve received an innocuous email urging them to check their MyGov account—an online portal available to Australian citizens with an internet connection to access a variety of government services—only to log in and find they’re hundreds or thousands of dollars in arrears, supposedly because they didn’t accurately report their income. Some received threats from private debt collectors, who told them their wages would be seized if they didn’t submit to a payment plan. Those who wanted to contest their debts had to lodge a formal complaint, and were subjected to hours of Mozart’s Divertimento in F Major before they could talk to a case worker. Others tried taking their concerns directly to the Centrelink agency on Twitter, where they were directed to calling Lifeline, a 24-hour hotline for crisis support and suicide prevention. At the end of 2015, my friend Chloe received a notice claiming she owed $20,000 to the government. She was told that she had reported her income incorrectly while on Youth Allowance, which provides financial assistance to certain categories of young people. The figure was shocking and, like others in her position, she grew suspicious. She decided to contest the debt: she contacted all of her previous employers so she could gather pay slips, and scanned them into the MyGov app. “I gave them all of my information to prove that there was no way I owed them $20,000,” she says. The bean counters were unmoved. They maintained that Chloe had reported her after-tax income instead of her before-tax income. As a result, they increased the amount she owed to $30,000. She agreed to a payment plan, which will see her pay off the debt in fortnightly installments of $50 over the course of two decades. “I even looked into bankruptcy because I was so stressed by it,” she says. “All I could think about was the Centrelink debt, and once they upped it to 30k, I was so ashamed and sad and miserable,” she says.

    (tags: austerity algorithms automation dystopia australia government debt-collectors robo-debt dole benefit grim-meathook-future)

  • The Irish Border’s Ladybird How It Works book on The Technological Solution


    (tags: ladybird parody funny ireland politics northern-ireland brexit)

  • Mythology about security…

    A valuable history lesson from Jim Gettys:

    Government export controls crippled Internet security and the design of Internet protocols from the very beginning: we continue to pay the price to this day.  Getting security right is really, really hard, and current efforts towards “back doors”, or other access is misguided. We haven’t even recovered from the previous rounds of government regulations, which has caused excessive complexity in an already difficult problem and many serious security problems. Let us not repeat this mistake…
    I remember the complexity of navigating crypto export controls. As noted here, it was generally easier just not to incorporate security features.

    (tags: security crypto export-control jim-gettys x11 history x-windows mit athena kerberos)

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Links for 2018-04-07

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Links for 2018-03-30

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Links for 2018-03-24

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Links for 2018-03-23

  • Brad Templeton’s commentary on the Uber robocar killing a pedestrian

    At this point, it does seem as though a wrongful death lawsuit might emerge from the family of the victim. The fame for the lawyer will cause pro bono representation to appear, and the deep pockets of Uber will certainly be attractive. I recommend Uber immediately offer a settlement the courts would consider generous. And tell us more information about what really happened. And, if it’s as surmised, to get their act together. The hard truth is, that if Uber’s vehicle is unable to detect a pedestrian like this in time to stop, Uber has no business testing at 40mph on a road like this. Certainly not with an inattentive solo safety driver.
    It certainly sounds like they need to answer questions about LIDAR usage on that car.

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Links for 2018-03-22

  • Arena

    Film by Páraic McGloughlin A brief look at the earth from above, based on the shapes we make, the game of life, our playing ground – Arena. Created using Google Earth imagery. Pearse McGloughlin and I collaborated on the audio resulting in something between music and a soundtrack. Audio mastered by TJ LippleHear

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Links for 2018-03-21

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Links for 2018-03-20

  • SXSW 2018: A Look Back at the 1960s PLATO Computing System – IEEE Spectrum

    Author Brian Dear on how these terminals were designed for coursework, but students preferred to chat and play games […] “Out of the top 10 programs on PLATO running any day, most were games,” Dear says. “They used more CPU time than anything else.” In one popular game called Empire, players blast each other’s spaceships with phasers and torpedoes in order to take over planets.
    And PLATO had code review built into the OS:
    Another helpful feature that no longer exists was called Term Comment. It allowed users to leave feedback for developers and programmers at any place within a program where they spotted a typo or had trouble completing a task. To do this, the user would simply open a comment box and leave a note right there on the screen. Term Comment would append the comment to the user’s place in the program so that the recipient could easily navigate to it and clearly see the problem, instead of trying to recreate it from scratch on their own system. “That was immensely useful for developers,” Dear says. “If you were doing QA on software, you could quickly comment, and it would track exactly where the user left this comment. We never really got this on the Web, and it’s such a shame that we didn’t.”

    (tags: plato computing history chat empire gaming code-review coding brian-dear)

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Links for 2018-03-19

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Links for 2018-03-14

  • Interesting Twitter thread on email UI design, vs Slack

    “When redesigning Outlook, we found two basic groups of users: pilers and filers. Pilers kept a single, ever-expanding list of mail in their Inbox and then worked it down to “inbox zero.” Filers wrote rules or manually filed mail into folders, creating an organizational system. Filers rely on their bespoke, highly customized knowledge of where things go in their email system, much like you might organize your kitchen in a way that makes sense to you. You know where the strainer or little corn-cob-holders go, and no one else does (or needs to.) Pilers rely on search to find things in their huge amassed pile. We moved Outlook from the fundamental organization unit of “message” to “conversation” (or “thread”) so that when pilers found mail via search, messages would return with the context of the surrounding conversation. Both pilers and filers have one key thing in common: their systems require an affirmative, discrete action to take a mail out of their list. Filers file to a folder when done with a message, and pilers archive/delete. This turned out to be essential for people to feel in control.”
    really, “filers” (update:) “pilers” are using the UI that GMail pioneered, where credit is due (as far as I know at least).

    (tags: mail ux ui pilers-and-filers filepile email slack outlook)

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Links for 2018-03-13

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Links for 2018-03-12

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Links for 2018-03-09

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Links for 2018-03-01

  • Yes, bacon really is killing us – The Guardian Long Read


    Since we eat with our eyes, the main way we judge the quality of cured meats is pinkness. Yet it is this very colour that we should be suspicious of, as the French journalist Guillaume Coudray explains in a book published in France last year called Cochonneries, a word that means both “piggeries” and “rubbish” or “junk food”. The subtitle is “How Charcuterie Became a Poison”. Cochonneries reads like a crime novel, in which the processed meat industry is the perpetrator and ordinary consumers are the victims. The pinkness of bacon – or cooked ham, or salami – is a sign that it has been treated with chemicals, more specifically with nitrates and nitrites. It is the use of these chemicals that is widely believed to be the reason why “processed meat” is much more carcinogenic than unprocessed meat. Coudray argues that we should speak not of “processed meat” but “nitro-meat”. […] When nitrates interact with certain components in red meat (haem iron, amines and amides), they form N-nitroso compounds, which cause cancer. The best known of these compounds is nitrosamine. This, as Guillaume Coudray explained to me in an email, is known to be “carcinogenic even at a very low dose”. Any time someone eats bacon, ham or other processed meat, their gut receives a dose of nitrosamines, which damage the cells in the lining of the bowel, and can lead to cancer. You would not know it from the way bacon is sold, but scientists have known nitrosamines are carcinogenic for a very long time. More than 60 years ago, in 1956, two British researchers called Peter Magee and John Barnes found that when rats were fed dimethyl nitrosamine, they developed malignant liver tumours. By the 1970s, animal studies showed that small, repeated doses of nitrosamines and nitrosamides – exactly the kind of regular dose a person might have when eating a daily breakfast of bacon – were found to cause tumours in many organs including the liver, stomach, oesophagus, intestines, bladder, brain, lungs and kidneys.
    But there IS some good news for Parma ham and sausages:
    In 1993, Parma ham producers in Italy made a collective decision to remove nitrates from their products and revert to using only salt, as in the old days. For the past 25 years, no nitrates or nitrites have been used in any Prosciutto di Parma. Even without nitrate or nitrite, the Parma ham stays a deep rosy-pink colour. We now know that the colour in Parma ham is totally harmless, a result of the enzyme reactions during the ham’s 18-month ageing process. […] the average British sausage – as opposed to a hard sausage like a French saucisson – is not cured, being made of nothing but fresh meat, breadcrumbs, herbs, salt and E223, a preservative that is non-carcinogenic. After much questioning, two expert spokespeople for the US National Cancer Institute confirmed to me that “one might consider” fresh sausages to be “red meat” and not processed meat, and thus only a “probable” carcinogen.

    (tags: bacon sausages meat parma-ham ham food cancer carcinogens big-meat nitrates nitrites)

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Links for 2018-02-28

  • 30 kWh Leaf Nissan Connect Issues

    seems there’s some kind of firmware/importation issue with the Nissan Leaf app integration…. bit of a mess

    (tags: nissan-leaf nissan leaf apps mobile cars driving)

  • Palantir has secretly been using New Orleans to test its predictive policing technology – The Verge

    Predictive policing technology has proven highly controversial wherever it is implemented, but in New Orleans, the program escaped public notice, partly because Palantir established it as a philanthropic relationship with the city through Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s signature NOLA For Life program. Thanks to its philanthropic status, as well as New Orleans’ “strong mayor” model of government, the agreement never passed through a public procurement process. In fact, key city council members and attorneys contacted by The Verge had no idea that the city had any sort of relationship with Palantir, nor were they aware that Palantir used its program in New Orleans to market its services to another law enforcement agency for a multimillion-dollar contract. Even James Carville, the political operative instrumental in bringing about Palantir’s collaboration with NOPD, said that the program was not public knowledge. “No one in New Orleans even knows about this, to my knowledge,” Carville said.

    (tags: palantir creepy surveillance crime forecasting precrime new-orleans us-politics privacy)

  • Huy Fong sriracha hot sauce label – Fonts In Use

    The fonts of the iconic sriracha bottle, analysed. Interestingly, the Chinese serif text is typeset in a universally-reviled font, PMingLiu:

    For East Asian designers, PMingLiu was probably as despicable as Papyrus. Many have publicly voiced their disdain for PMingLiu, and some even see the elimination of PMingLiu from public sight as a career goal. Julius Hui, then consultant for Commercial Type, exclaims: PMingLiu inhibits the type business, maims the public’s aesthetic judgment, and puts a bad face on the Minch? genre. As long as the public have not harbored a deep hatred against PMingLiu, it is futile to completely eliminate it from the world.

    (tags: typography packaging sriracha pmingliu mincho fonts type food labels)

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Links for 2018-02-22

  • The Codex – I Do Not Like Go

    Some gripes about Go from this blog, specifically around developer ergonomics (syntax highlighting and language-inherent error detection), politics, packaging and distribution, GOPATH, and the tuple-oriented error handling idiom. As R. I. Pienaar noted, the Go community seems full of “at-Google-wes”, which is an excellent way of putting it.

    (tags: golang go criticism blogs syntax-highlighting coding languages google at-google-we)

  • Can I Extend and Renovate my “Fixer Upper” for €100,000? A First Time Buyer’s Renovation Budget Explained

    In 2013, €100,000 was like a king’s ransom to most businesses in the Irish construction industry. Now clients approach us with budgets at this level and are shocked when we tell them how little can be achieved with such a large sum of money. We have decided to tackle this issue with a clear worked example. In 2018, rates for some types of construction have increased 50% since the recession, client expectations have increased, there is a shortage of competent construction workers, and subcontractors are now more accountable for quality. These pressures have inflated the many expenses which make up a typical renovation budget. Even the most seasoned commercial clients are struggling to achieve tenable construction prices, and first time buyers must understand the financial risk of buying a home in need of complete renovation.

    (tags: renovation homes architecture houses building)

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Links for 2018-02-19

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Links for 2018-02-14

  • Single Trapped Atom Captures Science Photography Competition’s top prize – EPSRC website

    An image of a single positively-charged strontium atom, held near motionless by electric fields, has won the overall prize in a national science photography competition, organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). ‘Single Atom in an Ion Trap’, by David Nadlinger, from the University of Oxford, shows the atom held by the fields emanating from the metal electrodes surrounding it. The distance between the small needle tips is about two millimetres. When illuminated by a laser of the right blue-violet colour the atom absorbs and re-emits light particles sufficiently quickly for an ordinary camera to capture it in a long exposure photograph. The winning picture was taken through a window of the ultra-high vacuum chamber that houses the ion trap.

    (tags: atom photography science strontium ion-traps light)

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Links for 2018-02-12

  • Thousands of websites hijacked by hidden crypto-mining code after Browsealoud hacked

    The affected sites all use a fairly popular plugin called Browsealoud, made by Brit biz Texthelp, which reads out webpages for blind or partially sighted people. This technology was compromised in some way – either by hackers or rogue insiders altering Browsealoud’s source code – to silently inject Coinhive’s Monero miner into every webpage offering Browsealoud. For several hours today, anyone who visited a site that embedded Browsealoud inadvertently ran this hidden mining code on their computer, generating money for the miscreants behind the caper. A list of 4,200-plus affected websites can be found here: they include The City University of New York (, Uncle Sam’s court information portal (, Lund University (, the UK’s Student Loans Company (, privacy watchdog The Information Commissioner’s Office ( and the Financial Ombudsman Service (, plus a shedload of other and sites, UK NHS services, and other organizations across the globe.,,,,,, the list goes on.

    (tags: browsealoud accessibility http sri coinhive monero hacks ico nhs)

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Links for 2018-02-09

  • How the Game Genie worked

    “Sometimes it was really easy to find cheats, because the code was very straightforward, and sometimes it was a massive pain in the arse,” recalls Jon. “In simple terms, if a game started you with three lives I’d set up the logic analyser to stop when it found the value three being written to RAM. Then I’d use the Game Genie to change that 3 to say a 5, reboot the game and see if I started with 5 lives. If not, then I’d let it find the next time it wrote 3 into RAM and try that. “Infinite lives codes were always the best. Once I’d found where in RAM the lives value was stored I’d then monitor when it got decremented. What I was looking for was where the game’s original coder used -most likely – the DEC A (&H3D) instruction after reading the lives value from RAM, and then storing it back into RAM. If I found this then all I had to do was swap out the DEC A (&H3D) decrement operation with a NOP (&H00), which performed no operation. So the lives value would be left as-is and voila the player had infinite lives.”

    (tags: games gameboy game-genie via:its logic-analysers reverse-engineering history hacking)

  • Last orders: Ireland’s vanishing ‘quirky’ shopfronts – in pictures | Cities | The Guardian

    Graphic designer Trevor Finnegan spent seven years documenting traditional shopfronts throughout Ireland.
    Lovely examples of a vanishing vernacular style.

    (tags: architecture ireland rural shopfronts signs history)

  • Russia Did It, Y’all. And Nobody Fucking Cares.

    That’s right, that’s CRAZY LIBERAL CONSPIRACY THEORIST George W. Bush […] saying it’s still an open question whether Russia actually successfully rigged the 2016 election. What a Code Pink Occupy Democracy Now liberal George W. Bush is being, to even ask that question!

    (tags: wonkette elections donald-trump 2016 us-politics george-w-bush hacking)

  • Car Hacker’s Handbook

    Modern cars are more computerized than ever. Infotainment and navigation systems, Wi-Fi, automatic software updates, and other innovations aim to make driving more ­convenient. But vehicle technologies haven’t kept pace with today’s more hostile security environment, leaving ­millions vulnerable to attack. The Car Hacker’s Handbook will give you a deeper understanding of the computer systems and embedded software in modern ­vehicles. It begins by examining vulnerabilities and providing detailed explanations of communications over the CAN bus and ­between devices and systems. Then, once you have an understanding of a vehicle’s communication network, you’ll learn how to intercept data and perform specific hacks to track vehicles, unlock doors, glitch engines, flood communication, and more.
    Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike license.

    (tags: cars books hacking exploits can-bus)

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Links for 2018-02-07

  • Pubs reveal drinks firms’ exclusive deals

    ‘You could be offered €100,000 – it’s big money’: Pubs reveal drinks firms’ exclusive deals; Heineken has already been accused of using its clout to squeeze out rivals.

    (tags: heineken beer ireland craft-beer payola scams pubs)

  • Horslips respond angrily to xenophobic #irexit use of their hit “Dearg Doom”

    Some of you may have spotted that the saddos in the Eirexit conference had the feckin’ temerity to use Dearg Doom as a soundtrack and to show the image of the album cover on the big screen. Needless to say, they didn’t ask us. If they had, we’d have pointed out that we wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire -which they’re unlikely to be, anytime soon. Five hundred damp, self regarding eejits being patronised by the Crazy Frog lookalike Nigel Farage … isn’t going to set the heather blazing in the near future. Horslips stood for a hopeful, outward looking, inclusive vision of Ireland with plenty of drink and a Blue Range Rover. This lot stand for a diminished, fearful, xenophobic state. Little Irelanders. Checking out whether we can do them for copyright infringement. We’ll keep you posted.Feel free to share.

    (tags: horslips music 1970s irexit facebook copyright)

  • why Cheddar Man was dark skinned

    ‘But why should that be surprising? He’s over 10,000 years old, while mutations that led to white skin [the depigmentation gene SLC24A5] only began to spread widely [across Europe] 5,800 years old!’

    (tags: europe history prehistory skin-colour cheddar-man race skin slc24a5 genetics david-grimes)

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Links for 2018-02-05

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Links for 2018-02-02

  • Amazon Aurora Parallel Query is Available for Preview

    Looks very nifty (at least once it’s GA)

    Parallel Query improves the performance of large analytic queries by pushing processing down to the Aurora storage layer, spreading processing across hundreds of nodes. With Parallel Query, you can run sophisticated analytic queries on Aurora tables with an order of magnitude performance improvement over serial query processing, in many cases. Parallel Query currently pushes down predicates used to filter tables and hash joins. 

    (tags: parallel aurora amazon mysql sql performance joins architecture data-model)

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Links for 2018-02-01

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Links for 2018-01-30

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Links for 2018-01-29

  • Key metrics for RabbitMQ monitoring

    Good suggestions from Datadog

    (tags: rabbitmq mq monitoring metrics graphite ops)

  • Amazing thread from @gavinsblog on the Strava leak

    ‘This often led to the same results you see with Strava. In low population countries, or countries with low smartphone penetration, it was often easy to detect Westerners (usually soldiers) in remote areas. this usually led to being able to identify bases and other types of things based solely on social data. Iraq, Afghanistan = always easy to find US troops (Instagram being a common sharing tool). Same true of IDF troops in staging areas before invasion of Gaza in 2014. and the same true in 2014 with Russian troops in Ukraine. All too easy. Of course the other thing you might be nosey about [is] known military facilities. Social geotagging can give you staff/visitor lists if you persist long enough. the difference between this technique and Strava was you could usually quickly deduce first name/last name if you wanted, and infer other social profiles eg LinkedIn -> FB -> FB friends -> work colleagues. Not only that but it was possible to automate.’

    (tags: strava privacy military security geotagging geodata gavin-sheridan)

  • My £300 32Amp Charging Station Install

    good writeup of a DIY EV car charger install

    (tags: ev cars diy car-chargers home)

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