R is a powerful, open-source programming language and environment. R excels at data management and munging, traditional statistical analysis, machine learning, and reproducible research, but it is probably best known for its graphics. This guide contains examples and instructions for popular and lesser-known plotting techniques in R. It also includes instructions for using urbnthemes, the Urban Institute’s R package for creating near-publication-ready plots with ggplot2.
2019/04/03: Security researchers in Israel dupe real doctors into misdiagnosing patients by hacking hospital X-ray-scanning machines and altering the images they produced.
Hackers trying to steal your data is one thing, but what if they tried to trick your doctors into thinking you had cancer? Or fooled them into ignoring it?
It's a ruse that's not as far-fetched as you might think. Security researchers in Israel recently duped real doctors into misdiagnosing patients by hacking a hospital X-ray scanning machine and altering the images it produced.
"In particular, we show how easily an attacker can access a hospital's network, and then inject or remove lung cancers from a patient's CT scan,"
2019/03/31: More than 20 African countries have joined together in an international mission to plant a massive wall of trees running across the continent – and after a little over a decade of work, it has reaped great success.
The tree-planting project, which has been dubbed The Great Green Wall of Africa, stretches across roughly 6,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) of terrain at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, a region known as the Sahel.
The region was once a lush oasis of greenery and foliage back in the 1970s, but the combined forces of population growth, unsustainable land management, and climate change turned the area into a barren and degraded swath of land.
After decades of political collaboration, the Great Green Wall project was finally launched by 11 countries in 2007.
The initiative has since recruited at least nine additional countries to plant drought-resistant acacia trees across the entire width of the continent. Though the wall is currently only about 15% percent complete, it has already dramatically impacted the participating countries.
Byproducts of the restored landscape include many groundwater wells refilled with drinking water, rural towns with additional food supplies, and new sources of work and income for villagers, thanks to the need for tree maintenance.
2019/03/21: In the next two weeks, Russia is planning to attempt something no other country has tried before. It’s going to test whether it can disconnect from the rest of the world electronically while keeping the internet running for its citizens. This means it will have to reroute all its data internally, rather than relying on servers abroad.
The test is key to a proposed “sovereign internet” law currently working its way through Russia’s government. It looks likely to be eventually voted through and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, though it has stalled in parliament for now.
Pulling an iron curtain down over the internet is a simple idea, but don’t be fooled: it’s a fiendishly difficult technical challenge to get right. It is also going to be very expensive.
As well as rerouting its ISPs, Russia will also have to unplug from the global domain name system (DNS) so traffic cannot be rerouted through any exchange points that are not inside Russia.
“An alternate DNS can be used to create an alternate reality for the majority of Russian internet users,”
While blockchain technology is the core focus for the vast majority of both retailers and companies, there is a competing technology on the rise that is touted by some as the blockchain killer: the Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) structure.
DAG-based projects maintain the industry’s core concepts of decentralization and tokenization — but with a strong technological upgrade.
In this article, we take a deeper look at DAG structures, explore whether DAG-based networks really are a potential blockchain killer and what projects are using the technology for their decentralized projects.
Because of the DAG structure, block times aren’t required. This means that transactions can occur near-instantaneous. Moreover, the problem that blockchains face when two miners find a block at exactly the same time and multiple chains exist until consensus is reached on which blockchain to use and which to abandon, is not present in a DAG structure.
Due to this, DAG-based decentralized networks have a far larger scalability potential than blockchains do, which is important given the current scalability limitations of most large blockchain networks.
Moreover, they are far more energy-efficient than, for example, Bitcoin’s Proof of Work whilst maintaining fully decentralized and thus maintaining the high levels of security enabled by decentralization. There is also no possibility for a 51% attack.
2019/04/01: Currently, I believe that online voting is not ready for any high-stakes elections (such as national elections). On the other hand, there are many elections that are not high stakes. Last December in France, for example, we had all our professional elections, where we voted for union representatives and so on. The stakes for that sort of election are not especially high, in the sense that there is not a high risk of coercion, so e-voting could be a viable alternative.
2019/03/23: Many drivers are not aware of the limitations” of the technology. The report also found that one in five drivers were just like me — they had become so reliant on the backup aids that they had experienced a collision or near miss while driving other vehicles.
The fact that our brains so easily overdelegate this task to technology makes me worry about the tech industry’s aspirations — the fully autonomous everything. Could technology designed to save us from our lapses in attention actually make us even less attentive?
Though a supercomputer will always surpass the human brain in terms of pure speed, the brain is beyond complex in its ability to reprioritize salient data inputs from multiple sources. If one input becomes less relevant, our cognitive systems shift their attention to the next most relevant one (which these days is usually our mobile devices).
2019/03/18: We treat open source like it’s a poison pill for a commercial product. And yes, with an open source license it’s harder to force someone to pay for a product, though many successful businesses exist without forcing anyone.
I see an implicit assumption that makes it harder to think about this: the idea that if something is useful, it should be profitable. It’s an unspoken and morally-infused expectation, a kind of Just World hypothesis: if something has utility, if it helps people, if it’s something the world needs, if it empowers other people, then there should be a revenue opportunity. It should be possible for the thing to be your day job, to make money, to see some remuneration for your successful effort in creating or doing this thing.
That’s what we think the world should be like, but we all know it isn’t. You can’t make a living making music. Or art. You can’t even make a living taking care of children. I think this underlies many of this moment’s critiques of capitalism: there’s too many things that are important, even needed, or that fulfill us more than any profitable item, and yet are economically unsustainable.
I won’t try to fix that in this blog post, only note: not all good things make money.
Can we sell open source to other people? Can anyone else do anything with source code?
And so I remain pessimistic that open source can find commercial success. But also frustrated: so much software is open source except any commercial product. This is where the Free Software mission has faltered despite so many successes: software that people actually touch isn’t free or open. That’s a shame.
2019-03-19: The oil industry needn’t be too concerned -- for now -- about how Tesla Inc.’s electric cars are denting demand. China and its bus fleet could be more of a worry.
By the end of this year, a cumulative 270,000 barrels a day of diesel demand will have been displaced by electric buses, most of it in China, according to a report published Tuesday by BloombergNEF. That’s more than three times the displacement by all the world’s passenger electric vehicles (a market where Tesla has a share of about 12 percent.).
2018/01/31: Educational psychologists have discovered that much of our knowledge is “inert.” Students who excel on exams frequently fail to apply their knowledge to the real world. The same goes for students of biology, mathematics, statistics, and, I’m embarrassed to say, economics. I try to teach my students to connect lectures to the real world and daily life. My exams are designed to measure comprehension, not memorization. Yet in a good class, four test-takers out of 40 demonstrate true economic understanding.
2019/03/19: simply by visiting the Vessel, you are granting the Vessel the rights to use all of your Vessel content.
In the Hudson Yards Terms & Conditions (but as far as we could tell, there's no signage at the Vessel itself), there are two notable and exceptional clauses which state that by creating, posting or uploading any content depicting or related to Vessel, they have the right and license to use your content however they see fit in perpetuity. Likewise, if you merely appear in a photo with the Vessel, they also have the right to use your name, likeness, voice, and all the rest for any commercial purpose they see fit in perpetuity.
2018/03/08: As a parent, you might walk past your child’s room and see her happily typing away on a Google Docs page. “Lovely!” you think. “She’s probably working on her science report or finishing up her essay on the rise of RBG.”
Or, she could be in a secret chat room.
2017/01/10: a collection of 45 websites where you can download tens of thousands of books, plays and texts for free. Oh, and these sites are also all completely legal, of course!
CROSS-SECTIONS ALONG MERIDIANS
A collaborative wiki of tools for ethical pedagogy.
2019/02/21: The Bash Automated Testing System puts Bash code through the same types of testing processes used by Java, Ruby, and Python developers.
2019/02/14: On the surface, the open source software community has never been better. Companies and governments are adopting open source software at rates that would've been unfathomable 20 years ago, and a whole new generation of programmers are cutting their teeth on developing software in plain sight and making it freely available for anyone to use. Go a little deeper, however, and the cracks start to show. The ascendancy of open source has placed a mounting burden on the maintainers of popular software, who now handle more bug reports, feature requests, code reviews, and code commits than ever before.
At the same time, open source developers must also deal with an influx of corporate users who are unfamiliar with community norms when it comes to producing and consuming open source software. This leads to developer burnout and a growing feeling of resentment toward the companies that rely on free labor to produce software that is folded into products and sold back to consumers for huge profits. From this perspective, Heartbleed wasn't an isolated example of developer burnout and lack of funding, but an outgrowth of a systemic disease that had been festering in the open source software community for years. Identifying the symptoms and causes of this disease was the easy part; finding a cure is more difficult.
2018/01/31: Set out to solve new problems/Design products for longevity and reuse/Aim to influence culture
2019/02/13: The UNIX market is in inexorable decline:Only 1 in 85 servers deployed this year uses Solaris, HP-UX, or AIX. Most applications on Unix that can be easily ported to Linux or Windows have actually already been moved.
Most of what remains on Unix today are customized, mission-critical workloads in fields such as financial services and healthcare. Because those apps are expensive and risky to migrate or rewrite, Bowers expects a long-tail decline in Unix that might last 20 years. “As a viable operating system, it’s got at least 10 years because there’s this long tail. Even 20 years from now, people will still want to run it,” he says.
2019/02/10: Libertà di voto. Ciascun elettore è libero di votare senza condizionamenti e pressioni esterne. Tale principio viene rispettato più facilmente quando la procedura è soggetta a controlli, come avviene nei seggi elettorali. Ciò non può dirsi nel caso del voto online, quando la scelta si effettua con un click, seduti comodamente a casa. L'Estonia, tuttavia, consente ai suoi elettori di votare online più volte, fino al giorno ufficiale delle elezioni. Solo l'ultimo voto viene però considerato e va ad annullare quelli precedenti, eventualmente estorti con violenza. L'elettore ha quindi la possibilità di correggere il suo voto qualora non corrisponda alla propria volontà. Inoltre, il voto nei seggi elettorali viene preferito a quello online.