2018/12/07: why the U.S. and its allies are apprehensive of using Huawei's products:
1. There could be "kill switches" in Huawei equipment.
2. ... That even close inspections miss.
3. Back doors could be used for data snooping.
4. The rollout of 5G wireless networks will make everything worse.
5. Chinese firms will ship tech to countries in defiance of a US trade embargo.
6. Huawei isn't as immune to Chinese government influence as it claims to be.
2018/12/19: scientists are discovering subsurface microbial beings that shake up what we think we know about life. Archaea and bacteria make up the majority of life in the deep subsurface, and it’s estimated that there are more of these kinds of microbes below ground than above.
Some 200 to 600 octillion microbes live beneath our continents, suggests an analysis of data from sites all over the world, and even more live beneath the seafloor. Together they weigh the equivalent of up to 200 million blue whales — and far more than all 7.5 billion humans. Subterranean diversity rivals that of the surface, with most underground organisms yet to be discovered or characterized.
There are basically two kinds of feeders in the deep subsurface. Some scavengers survive on leftovers of photosynthesis from the surface that have been buried for up to hundreds of millions of years.
“We are familiar with oxygen breathing, but the microorganisms have multiple options,” said Isabelle Daniel, a geobiologist at Université Claude Bernard Lyon in France.
Candidatus Desulforudis audaxviator, the cobalt, rod-shaped bacteria in the picture above, breathes what’s released when certain rocks meet water: “You take a rock. Put it with water. Heat it up a bit, not even extreme heat, and it will produce everything that life needs to go,” said Karen Lloyd, a microbiologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Other microbes even breathe uranium and expel the waste as teeny crystals.
Subsurface microbes might only reproduce every thirty years, or take even longer. If nutrients run low, the microbes enter a dormant stage and focus the little energy they have on maintenance.
They’ll reproduce when some other energy source comes along — and that takes time, perhaps geological time. It can take tens to thousands of years for a new population to replace an old one.
2018/12/21: In this post I want to lay out the way we leverage Kubernetes to automate much of our deployment process, using https://snapcraft.io
as an example.
2018/12/20: DevOps is about streamlining development and optimizing operations to enhance service delivery while decreasing the time it takes to design, build, deploy, and support applications.
The three main approaches to achieving a DevOps operating model outlined in this paper. They are:
Traditional application acceleration: Applying Six Sigma theory to the IT Operating Model.
Native cloud application deployment: Deploying SaaS, PaaS, and FaaS application services.
Cloud native application development: Implementing Cloud Foundry technology.
All three create a tight integration between the Development and Operations teams and increase the release to production. Now comes the Cloud Native approach which provides significant new power to the development group over Operations functions. This shift in power is often met with resistance from the Operations group.
2018/12/20: If the point of Musk’s overly complex system is to move actual people, not cars (which he also happens to sell), this is a very bad idea. Some quick math shows why: Musk claims the tunnel will have the capacity of moving 4,000 cars per hour at 155 mph — that would require having cars enter and leave the tunnel via an elevator once every 0.9 seconds. But existing underground freeway alternatives (aka subways) can move 30,000 passengers an hour, more than if every 5-seater Tesla was full and Musk somehow figured out the capacity issues.
Musk says his new underground highway idea, if fully realized, would feel like “teleporting within a city.”
Musk isn’t just looking below ground for new superfast transportation methods. He is also currently developing a goddamn passenger rocket to take you from New York to Shanghai in 39 minutes. And yes! That rocket will be a whole lot more efficient than present-day rockets, but it’s still a ROCKET.
If you make flying faster and make driving in the Los Angeles area less painful, you’ll likely just end up with more flights and more cars on the road. We see this whenever a city tries to alleviate traffic by adding more lanes. More people start driving. And rocket flights and more cars on the road will eat up an awful lot of our planet’s remaining carbon budget.
Musk is embarking on a philosophy of ecomodernism — the idea that doing what we’ve been doing (except more so!) will lead society down to a techno-fueled decoupling of the economy from environmental constraints. Musk’s bet is that by radically increasing efficiency of mundane industrial tasks — building cars, digging holes, making batteries — it will help usher in a carbon-free utopia.
If Musk’s goal is (as he says) to save the world from climate change, many of his “innovations” are not helping. Decades of evidence shows that making more cars and building our cities to accommodate them are bad ideas for almost everyone. Even factoring in the additional time cost of walking or riding your bike, it’s nearly always cheaper compared to driving.
All of these greener transportation technologies have been in use for more than 100 years — it’s the cars that have been the problem, not the answer. Musk’s tunnels could be a game changer, but only if they’re digging more subway lines.
2018/12/11: a homebrew 6502-based microcomputer. I have a lot of ideas for features I’d like, but before I make too many crazy decisions I’d like to solidify my understanding of the processor I’m building the whole system around.
2018/12/17: Open data in Ukraine is also beginning to be recognised for its potential economic value. Research by Kyiv School of Economics estimates that open data contributes between $746 and $903m to the Ukrainian economy currently and can increase to $1.4b or 0.84% of GDP by 2025. Realising the maximum economic value of open data to Ukraine’s economy will require sustained investment and high level political support.
2018/12/04: If chatbots are approaching the stage where they can answer diagnostic questions as well or better than human doctors, then it’s possible they might eventually reach or surpass our levels of political sophistication. And it is naïve to suppose that in the future bots will share the limitations of those we see today: They’ll likely have faces and voices, names and personalities — all engineered for maximum persuasion. So-called “deep fake” videos can already convincingly synthesize the speech and appearance of real politicians.
Unless we take action, chatbots could seriously endanger our democracy, and not just when they go haywire.
The most obvious risk is that we are crowded out of our own deliberative processes by systems that are too fast and too ubiquitous for us to keep up with. Who would bother to join a debate where every contribution is ripped to shreds within seconds by a thousand digital adversaries?
2018/12/17: First, people all over the world pay for communication services. We regularly pony up for Netflix, HBO Go, and Amazon Prime on top of sizable monthly payments for cell phone plans. A Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter without a bloated ad infrastructure could likely charge far less than these other services, which after all have to buy or produce their content. Before WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook, it charged users $1 per year, and it was growing like a vine.
2018/07/16: Machine Learning is eliminating the time wasted in traditional programming and instead gets computers to program themselves. In a nutshell – machine learning is like farming; nutrient is the main data, gardener is the farmer, seed is the algorithm while the plant is the program.
Thus the key areas machine learning plays its critical role is:
Computational biology – designing remedy to diseases or simply drugs;
Breeding and coming up with ideal traits;
Predicting the climate change;
Robotics and auto driven tractors
Soil nutrient evaluation; among others
2018/12/15: Either the subway or the highway option for the pedestrian is a solution that only an essentially anti-democratic society could have come up with.
We need to recognise that those who walk to work or to a point where they can access public transport constitute more than 60% of daily commuters. Let us also remember these are people going to work, children going to schools, young people travelling to colleges and universities, or home makers walking to the neighbourhood market or to pick-up their children from school.
2018/12/13: The top scholars of the news media say that a right to control links will only cement the dominance of the legacy news media, while weakening the press overall. The world's most renowned technologists say that copyright filters are a stupid, dangerous, unworkable idea that is doomed to fail.
So Voss had to come up with "compromises" that would allow him to convince fellow MEPs that things weren't that bad. For example, he expunged all mention of "filters" from the filter rule, but still made it impossible for companies to avoid filters. He also allowed for minor exemptions for "microenterprises" that would maybe get some of them out from under the necessity of having filters.
These figleafs didn't fool his opponents, but they did let him advance the Directive through the Parliament and into the trilogue negotiations. However, the big rightsholder organisations hated even the appearance of compromise, and so first the movie companies and sports leagues denounced the Directive and asked to have their products removed from its scope, and then the music industry (who have been the strongest proponents of filters) completely condemned the process and called for a restart.
2013/01/14: Then, unfortunately, the data people took XML and decided that it solved their problems. So we got configuration files in XML, databases in XML, and so on. Some of these applications did ok. Storing data in XML for long-term interoperability is an acceptable use of XML. Indeed, XML is supported by virtually all programming languages and that is unlikely to change.
However, XML as a technology for databases was supposed to solve new problems. All major database vendors added support for XML. DBAs were told to learn XML or else… We also got handfuls of serious XML databases. More critically, the major database research conferences were flooded with XML research papers.
And then it stopped.
2018/12/12: a patent application from Amazon became public that would pair face surveillance — like Rekognition, the product that the company is aggressively marketing to police and Immigration and Customs Enforcement — with Ring, a doorbell camera company that Amazon bought earlier this year.
2018/12/13: top customers want to move their corporate data "across multiple cloud environments with no lock-in." That means a hybrid cloud.
A hybrid cloud is one that runs simultaneously on a public and private cloud. Historically, that's been done with three models: Hybrid-cloud management software such as HPE Helion; vendor-native hybrid cloud platforms, such as Microsoft with Azure and Azure Stack; and Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS) clouds, including Cloud Foundry, which can bridge over Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) clouds.
There are places for each of these approaches, but the first two tend to be difficult to deploy. The PaaS model is easier... if you want to run a PaaS.
2017/01/20: A viral image has revealed that palm oil is one of the major ingredients in jars of Nutella, amongst excessive amounts of sugar.
The diagram shows layers of the brand’s five main ingredients in their raw form. These are palm oil, cocoa, hazelnuts, skimmed milk powder and sugar.
According to reports, the size of the labelled section in the diagram is said to represent the real proportion in the jar, which many were shocked to see was 50% white sugar.
2017/05/17: The GDPR covers all personal data defined as any data from which a living individual is identified or identifiable, whether directly or indirectly. This broad definition includes data outside the scope of HIPAA, but GDPR includes specific requirements relating to “sensitive personal data” such as racial or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, political opinions, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation. GDPR’s “data concerning health” and HIPAA’s “protected health information” are very similar. GDPR specifically defines data concerning health as personal data relating to the physical or mental health of an individual, including the provision of health care services, which reveal informat
2018/12/05: The whole “fighting climate change” frame rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get things done. But that’s not always the case, as the linguist Deborah Tannen wrote in The Argument Culture: Stopping America’s War of Words back in 1998. Military and sports metaphors train us to see everything in terms of conflict — this side versus that side — and that perspective limits our collective imagination about what we can do to fix complex problems.
Coming from a pacifist background, and obsessed with linguistics, I’ve grown uneasy with the way war shapes our words. The thought struck me earlier this year: By pitting one group against another, do war metaphors undermine our ability to address the complex problem of climate change, the biggest global crisis we face? Are there other ways to frame our predicament and convey the sense of urgency that’s needed — without dividing us into Hatfields and McCoys?
My gut feeling was that talking about climate change as a battle between rivals will ensure our ultimate defeat. But the reality might be more complicated than that.
Hundreds of other studies have shown that the best way to get people to stop demonizing each other is to introduce them to the actual human beings they disagree with.
Instead of turning differences into fights, I could frame the climate discussion in positive terms — discussing how a shift to renewable energy creates jobs, for example.
2018/05/30: unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability.
Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions— all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge.
MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers “to control the resultant popular anger.” The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right’s aggressive use of state power.
Could these right-wing capitalists allow private companies to fill prisons with helpless citizens—or, more profitable still, right-less undocumented immigrants? They could, and have. Might they engineer a retirement crisis by moving Americans to inadequate 401(k)s? Done. Take away the rights of consumers and workers to bring grievances to court by making them sign forced arbitration agreements? Check. Gut public education to the point where ordinary people have such bleak prospects that they have no energy to fight back? Getting it done.
Would they even refuse children clean water? Actually, yes.
MacLean notes that in Flint, Michigan, Americans got a taste of what the emerging oligarchy will look like — it tastes like poisoned water. There, the Koch-funded Mackinac Center pushed for legislation that would allow the governor to take control of communities facing emergency and put unelected managers in charge. In Flint, one such manager switched the city’s water supply to a polluted river, but the Mackinac Center’s lobbyists ensured that the law was fortified by protections against lawsuits that poisoned inhabitants might bring. Tens of thousands of children were exposed to lead, a substance known to cause serious health problems including brain damage.
Tyler Cowen has provided an economic justification for this kind of brutality, stating that where it is difficult to get clean water, private companies should take over and make people pay for it. “This includes giving them the right to cut off people who don’t—or can’t—pay their bills,” the economist explains.
To many this sounds grotesquely inhumane, but it is a way of thinking that has deep roots in America. In Why I, Too, Am Not a Conservative (2005), Buchanan considers the charge of heartlessness made against the kind of classic liberal that he took himself to be. MacLean interprets his discussion to mean that people who “failed to foresee and save money for their future needs” are to be treated, as Buchanan put it, “as subordinate members of the species, akin to…animals who are dependent.’”
Buchanan, a 1940 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University who later attended the University of Chicago for graduate study, started out as a conventional public finance economist. But he grew frustrated by the way in which economic theorists ignored the political process.
Buchanan began working on a description of power that started out as a critique of how institutions functioned in the relatively liberal 1950s and ‘60s, a time when economist John Maynard Keynes’s ideas about the need for government intervention in markets to protect people from flaws so clearly demonstrated in the Great Depression held sway. Buchanan, MacLean notes, was incensed at what he saw as a move toward socialism and deeply suspicious of any form of state action that channels resources to the public. Why should the increasingly powerful federal government be able to force the wealthy to pay for goods and programs that served ordinary citizens and the poor?
In thinking about how people make political decisions and choices, Buchanan concluded that you could only understand them as individuals seeking personal advantage. In an interview cited by MacLean, the economist observed that in the 1950s Americans commonly assumed that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. Buchanan vehemently disagreed — that was a belief he wanted, as he put it, to “tear down.” His ideas developed into a theory that came to be known as “public choice.”
Buchanan’s view of human nature was distinctly dismal. Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest. Crediting people with altruism or a desire to serve others was “romantic” fantasy: politicians and government workers were out for themselves, and so, for that matter, were teachers, doctors, and civil rights activists. They wanted to control others and wrest away their resources: “Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves,” he wrote in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty.
Does that sound like your kindergarten teacher? It did to Buchanan.
The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged “prey” of “parasites” and “predators” out to fleece them.
2017/12/07: Out of the 22 countries surveyed, “American parents stood out” as the “most unhappy.” Yes, U.S. parents are miserable and there’s a really simple reason why—lousy family-friendly workplaces. Per the Times, “in countries that had such policies, there was no happiness gap between parents and nonparents.” One expert was quoted by the Times saying she believes “it’s harder to be the parent of a young child and a full-time worker now than 30 years ago.”
The U.S. is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to federally mandated paid parental leave, and while more companies are offering parental leave, there is still a lot to be desired. For instance, only 21% of family leave is taken for new babies. And each year, more than 40 million people, or 18% of the U.S. workforce, spend an average of 24 hours a week providing unpaid care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member. So parents and families need to either accept their misery or add fighting for change to the long list of things they need to do each day.