Thursday, October 31, 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

[Off Topic] Hsieh Forbes Column On Unintended Consequences And Government Metrics

[Off Topic] My latest Forbes piece is now out: "How Patients Pay The Price For Unintended Consequences Of Government Health Care".

I discuss how various government "quality" metrics intended to improve patient care can have the exact opposite effect.

This is an example of Goodhart's Law in action, sometimes phrased as, "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

Why 3 Prongs?

AC Power: "Why is one wire called 'neutral?' What's all this stuff about 'grounding?' Why are three prongs needed?"

An oldie-but-goodie. Bonus: Old-school ASCII art!

Mathematicians Love Blackboards

"Why mathematicians just can't quit their blackboards"

Monday, October 28, 2019

Light Posting Notice

Admin note: Posting may be lighter than usual this week, due to external obligations.

Neanderthal Glue

"Neanderthal glue was a bigger deal than we thought". (Via H.R.)

iPod Retrospective

"The iPod at 18: The gadget that changed music and tech for ever"

Friday, October 25, 2019

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Aaronson On Quantum Supremacy

Scott Aaronson discusses the competing claims by Google and IBM on "quantum supremacy".

Versatile iPhone GarageBand

Video: "Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit on iPhone (GarageBand)"



More songs here.

I especially liked this rendition of "Sweet Child of Mine".

License Plate Surveillance

"Google And Facebook Are Reading Your License Plates"

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Feeding Mars

"What Will Humans Eat on Mars?"

Drone Delivery Update

"Google affiliate begins drone deliveries in Virginia town"

Privacy Tech

"Privacy-focused gifts for the paranoid tech lover"

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Terminator Score?

"What Is the Time Signature of the Ominous Electronic Score of The Terminator?"

tl;dr: "It's in 13/16. Three plus three plus three plus two plus two".

Helping Dogs Communicate

"The Tech Helping Dogs Learn to 'Talk' With Humans"

Data Fallacies

"Data Fallacies To Avoid"

Friday, October 18, 2019

Perfect Circles

Time sink of the day: "Can You Draw a Perfect Circle?"

Direct link to the website challenge.

Chinese Cybersecurity

"China’s New Cybersecurity Program: NO Place to Hide"

One noteworthy excerpt:
This system will apply to foreign owned companies in China on the same basis as to all Chinese persons, entities or individuals. No information contained on any server located within China will be exempted from this full coverage program. No communication from or to China will be exempted. There will be no secrets. No VPNs. No private or encrypted messages. No anonymous online accounts. No trade secrets. No confidential data. Any and all data will be available and open to the Chinese government.

Galactic Boom

"Not long ago, the center of the Milky Way exploded"

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Law Enforcement Tracking Bitcoins

"US Law Enforcement Traces Bitcoin Transfers to Nab 'Largest' Child Porn Site"

Hiding Billions

"How to hide a billion dollars"

Awesome Wildlife Photographs

"The Winners of the 2019 Wildlife Photographer of the Year"

I really liked this one:
Audun carefully positioned this tree branch, hoping it would make a perfect lookout for a golden eagle. He set up a camera trap and occasionally left road-kill carrion nearby. Very gradually, over the next three years, this eagle started to use the branch to survey its coastal realm. Audun captured its power as it came in to land, talons outstretched.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Best SF/F Series

"The 21 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Series Ever"

Poker Cheating Scandal

"The Cheating Scandal Rocking the Poker World"

Invisible Essay

"Japan ninja student gets top marks for writing essay in invisible ink":

Ms Haga, 19, soaked soybeans overnight, then crushed them before squeezing them in a cloth.

She then mixed the soybean extract with water - spending two hours to get the concentration right - before writing her essay with a fine brush on "washi" (thin Japanese paper).

Once her words had dried, they became invisible. But, to ensure her professor didn't put the essay in the bin, she left a note in normal ink saying "heat the paper".

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ars Technica On iPad OS

"iPadOS review: The iPad is dead, long live the iPad". (Via H.R.)

Apple And Hong Kong

"Apple's Loudest Supporters Turn Against the Company Over Hong Kong"

Beware Cheap Smartphones

"Cheap smartphones have a disturbing secret". (Via Rand Simberg.)

Monday, October 14, 2019

Vintage Passwords

"Forum cracks the vintage passwords of Ken Thompson and other Unix pioneers"

Apple Safe Browsing

"How safe is Apple's Safe Browsing?"

Catalina Prep

"Don't update to macOS Catalina without checking this first"

Friday, October 11, 2019

Quantum-Proof Encryption

"New Encryption System Protects Data from Quantum Computers"

Cyclist Pool Noodles

"Why every cyclist needs a pool noodle"

AI, Doctors, And Lawyers

You know medical AI is becoming the real deal, when lawyers start writing articles in major medical journals on malpractice issues: "Potential Liability for Physicians Using Artificial Intelligence".

(JAMA. Published online October 4, 2019)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Quantum Investments

"Quantum gold rush: The private funding pouring into quantum start-ups"

Fire Prevention Update

"New gel lets us spread flame retardant before wildfires start". (Via H.R.)

Star Wars Cookware

I probably won't buy one, but this Han Solo™ Carbonite Signature Roaster looks pretty damned cool. Click through to see more from the Le Creuset Collection.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Visualizing Card Shuffles

Video: "Visualizing Card Shuffles"



Some explanatory notes from the video:

Starting Distance is how far each card has moved, on average, from its starting spot. So, if the deck was originally 1234 and then shuffled to 4123, the 123 moved 1 space and 4 moved 3, so that’s an average move distance of 1.5.

Neighbor distance is looking the unshuffled deck and how far each card ends from the next card in order. So, if we have 12345 shuffled to 15243.

Card 1 is 1 space from the 2.
Card 2 is 1 space from the 3.
Cards 3 & 4 are considered 0 spaces away from each other since they’re still adjacent, even if their orders are reversed.
5 isn’t taken into consideration because it has no neighbor to start.

So that means the neighbor average is 0.5.

Catalina Review

"MacOS 10.15 Catalina: The Ars Technica review". (Via H.R.)

Colorado Beer

"The Thirty Most Important Beers in Colorado History"

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Monday, October 07, 2019

Implanting False Memories

"Scientists Implant False Memories in Birds to Teach Them Songs They've Never Heard"

This is both super-cool and super-creepy at the same time. #21stCenturyOrwellianHeadlines

Big Locomotive

"Meet the Man at the Controls of the World's Largest Steam Locomotive"

Dark Side Of The Moon

"The First Photograph of the Far Side of the Moon from 1959"

Friday, October 04, 2019

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Baby-Seat Map For Air Passengers

"Airline introduces baby-seat map so passengers can avoid infants on planes".

I like kids. I also like the idea of air passengers being better able to choose to sit closer to (or further away from) babies.

Surviving Lightning

"How to Survive a Lightning Strike"

Contra Caps Lock

"It's time for Caps Lock to die".

Which also gives me a chance to post one of my favorite Homer Simpson quotes. (Click on image to see larger version.)

Wednesday, October 02, 2019