Extenuating Circumstances

is a weblog by Dan Hon

Bookmarks for July 12th through July 14th

This is an auto-posted collection of public links I’ve either posted to, or favourites from Twitter, my Instapaper bookmarks and my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 12th from 21:21 to 16:37:

  • High thermal conductivity in cubic boron arsenide crystals | Science – “The high density of heat generated in power electronics and optoelectronic devices is a critical bottleneck in their application. New, high thermally-conducting materials are needed to effectively dissipate heat and thereby enable enhanced performance of power controls, solid-state lighting, communication, and security systems. We report our experimental discovery of high thermal conductivity of 1000 ± 90 W/m/K at room temperature in cubic boron arsenide (BAs) grown through modified chemical vapor transport technique. Such thermal conductivity is a factor of 3 higher than that of silicon carbide and surpassed only by diamond and the basal plane value of graphite. This work establishes BAs as the first realization of a new class of ultrahigh thermal conductivity materials predicted by a recent theory, and a potential revolutionary thermal management material.”
  • Have the Tech Giants Grown Too Powerful? That’s an Easy One – The New York Times
  • Build-A-Bear ‘Pay Your Age Day’ chaos is sign of success – Business Insider – "On Thursday, Build-A-Bear was set to celebrate "Pay Your Age Day" in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, where customers could purchase a stuffed animal and pay only their age. Kids could pay just a few dollars for stuffed bears, while the fee for adults was capped at $29. The bears usually cost $20 to $35."
  • The IceCube Neutrino Detector at the South Pole Hits Paydirt – IEEE Spectrum – “The 170922A event alert, with its estimated coordinates of the neutrino’s origin in the sky, went out to astronomers running instruments which can detect gamma rays, such as those onboard the orbiting Swift observatory. Swift quickly spotted that the 170922A event coordinates matched with those of known blazar TXS 0506+056, and that the blazar was flaring in brightness. “Thanks to the automated trigger … Swift was observing within four hours of the neutrino detection,” said Jamie Kennea, science operation team lead for Swift in a press release.”
  • PlaneBae saga: Woman breaks her silence, asks for anonymity – “I did not ask for and do not seek attention. #PlaneBae is not a romance – it is a digital-age cautionary tale about privacy, identity, ethics and consent.”

Bookmarks for July 12th from 14:58 to 16:09

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 12th from 14:58 to 16:09:

  • New Drone ‘Cockpits’ Aim to Make Remote Warfare Feel More Real – Motherboard – "[The] most significant change will come with the Block 50 control station, which features six 24-inch touchscreen displays for each operator. The three topmost screens, arranged side-by-side, display the drone's own camera feed, giving the pilot a view that's more than three times wider than that of older control stations.

    Additionally, the main joystick for steering the drone using the Block 50 platform more closely matches the models found in manned fighter jets, though as a backup for extremely long missions, General Atomics added a Playstation-style controller that's easier to hold for hours on end. A drone pilot can switch between controllers, depending on whether realism or endurance poses a greater challenge at the time.

    "They’ve made the controls and displays more advanced technologically as well as ergonomically better and along with some other human-factors-engineering angles," Strawser said. "In short, the so-called 'cockpits' look, feel, and function better than they did a few years ago.""

  • Not a Single Origin – "Combining code and confectionary, every part of this concept originates from data and algorithms. We used experimental 3D printing techniques to visualise each suburb on their respective chocolate, literally bringing the streets to your taste buds. The packaging is a feat of algorithmic art – photographs of all our ingredients twisted and transformed into an other-worldly terrain bursting with the colours and vibrancy of Sydney's multicultural makeup." – this is incredibly well done. claps all around to the team
  • Mark Zuckerberg says he’s ‘fundamentally uncomfortable’ making content decisions for Facebook – Recode – “Things like, ‘Where’s the line on hate speech?’ I mean, who chose me to be the person that did that?” Zuckerberg continued. “I guess I have to, because we’re here now, but I’d rather not.”
  • Facebook touts fight on fake news, but struggles to explain why InfoWars isn’t banned
  • (14) Rethinking CS Education | Alan Kay, CrossRoads 2015 – YouTube – Alan Kay talks about alternative approaches to teach Computer Science in schools
  • People Aren’t Dumb. The World Is Hard. – Freakonomics Freakonomics – "I like to use G.P.S. as an analogy of what we’re trying to do. So, I have a terrible sense of direction. And Google Maps is a lifesaver for me. Now, if I want to go visit you, I can plug in your address, and suppose I’m walking across the park, and I see, “Oh, there’s a softball game over there. I think I’ll go watch that for a while,” Google Maps doesn’t scold me. It will re-compute a new route if I’ve gone a bit out of my way. It doesn’t suggest addresses to me. It just suggests a route. And if there’s a traffic jam, it suggests maybe you should alter your route." – of course, new iterations of Google Mail *do* in a way scold you by "reminding" you of emails you may have forgotten about

Bookmarks for July 11th through July 12th

This is an auto-posted collection of public links I’ve either posted to, or favourites from Twitter, my Instapaper bookmarks and my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 11th from 19:07 to 11:34:

  • Doing good data science – O’Reilly Media – “The problem we face is different: how do we put ethical principles into practice? We’re not talking about an abstract commitment to being fair. Ethical principles are worse than useless if we don’t allow them to change our practice, if they don’t have any effect on what we do day-to-day. For data scientists, whether you’re doing classical data analysis or leading-edge AI, that’s a big challenge. We need to understand how to build the software systems that implement fairness. That’s what we mean by doing good data science.”
  • CS4ALL Blueprint Beta – “Computer science (CS) is the study of the capabilities and limitations of computers. Computational literacy is the ability to understand how CS can be applied in all walks of life. New York City public school students develop computational literacy through creative computing.”
  • Apple worked with Blackmagic on a new external GPU – The Verge – Okay yes, this is good. But it still *feels* like Apple is prioritizing "quiet and small" even when it doesn't have to – Apple *could* offer an external GPU solution that on the high end, but this still isn't that. I don't see how splitting the difference and having an Radeon Pro 580 *and* a RX Vega 64 would've been worse. It still feels like Apple doesn't get it.
  • How Much for Just the Planet? – Wikipedia – They find the planet Direidi and its inhabitants to be very strange indeed. Planet inhabitants occasionally break into song to explain their narratives or seemingly attack the visitors. Both crews (as well as the three-person crew of the Federation prospector that found the planet in the first place) get into various adventures with the planet's inhabitants and each other.
  • sub-Q Magazine – About – sub-Q is an interactive magazine for interactive fiction. We publish original and reprint works of science fiction, fantasy, horror, weird tales, magic realism, and mash-ups.
  • nvALT – BrettTerpstra.com – nvALT 2 is a fork of the original Notational Velocity with some additional features and interface modifications, including MultiMarkdown functionality. It has been developed by Elastic Threads (David Halter) and Brett Terpstra, and made available for free (donations accepted).

Bookmarks for July 10th through July 11th

This is an auto-posted collection of public links I’ve either posted to, or favourites from Twitter, my Instapaper bookmarks and my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 10th from 20:45 to 14:45:

Bookmarks for July 10th from 17:29 to 18:21

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 10th from 17:29 to 18:21:

  • Use Digital Touch on your Apple Watch – Apple Support – “Show anger” – I totally forgot all the Digital Touch stuff Apple did with their watch.
  • Google now refers to its different Assistant voices using colors – The Verge – I think this is pretty smart and also am totally getting Culture-style Drone aura vibes from it.
  • Gigaom | What Microsoft got right with its smartwatch nearly a decade ago. (More than you think) – “Apple’s forte is in mobile apps thanks to its strong developer base and tool set. It also has a wide reach for providing those apps. If anyone is going to crack the “useful apps on the wrist” market, my money is on Apple. But I’m personally not sure I want apps on my watch. I have enough devices that run apps: a smartphone, tablet, and laptop. Apple also redefined the smartphone market through the iOS breakthroughs in mobile user interfaces; something that’s key for truly mainstream smartwatch.” – from 2013
  • Smart Personal Objects Technology – Wikipedia – “The Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) is a discontinued initiative by Microsoft to create intelligent and personal home appliances, consumer electronics, and other objects through new hardware capabilities and software features.”
  • Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence – "When AI is framed as cheap prediction, its extraordinary potential becomes clear: Prediction is at the heart of making decisions under uncertainty. Our businesses and personal lives are riddled with such decisions.; Prediction tools increase productivity–operating machines, handling documents, communicating with customers.; Uncertainty constrains strategy. Better prediction creates opportunities for new business structures and strategies to compete." also – prediction-making is not the same as decision-making

Bookmarks for July 10th from 11:24 to 14:43

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 10th from 11:24 to 14:43:

Bookmarks for July 9th through July 10th

This is an auto-posted collection of public links I’ve either posted to, or favourites from Twitter, my Instapaper bookmarks and my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 9th from 21:06 to 10:07:

Bookmarks for July 9th from 14:00 to 19:45

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 9th from 14:00 to 19:45:

  • Some reviews & reviewers of 2018’s SF/F short fiction so far | MetaFilter – “Setting aside stories posted previously, a selection of recommendations from other sources offers additional perspective on six months of SF/F short fiction.”
  • Razor brand Billie embraces women with body hair – Video – Creativity Online – “Billie, a brand launched around the contention that women pay a "pink tax" on razors by paying more than men do for similar products, has a new campaign to pay homage to the stuff razors remove–female body hair in all its glory. "Project Body Hair" means to reflect Billie's belief that women aren't "goddesses" for shaving and should only shave when they want to, plus the idea that they shouldn't pay more for a razor just because it has a pink handle.”
  • NOEMIE LE COZ- Project Bodyhair – “As creative director of the brand, my role was to lead the campaign creative. With body hair as hero, I themed the shoot 'fuzz', forming direction for the campaign's styling, props, location, wardrobe and copywriting. From pom poms and fluffy socks to prickly plant life and brushed out perms, we made 'fuzz' a little more fun.”
  • Security — Timehop – “To reiterate: none of your “memories” – the social media posts & photos that Timehop stores – were accessed.”
  • Circle Medical – Primary Care Nurse Practitioner – “We are modernizing traditional office and house calls and bringing care to the patient; our unique model enables providers to see fewer patients each day and spend more time engaging in thoughtful decision-making, discussing diagnoses and creating truly personalized treatment plans; in other words, we let doctors be doctors.”
  • A New Series: Digital Transformation for CFOs and Finance Departments | AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog – “CFOs might feel pressured to take risks and support such transformations, even if they don’t feel prepared to do so. But I come bearing very good news. These new approaches have the additional advantage of supporting virtually all of the goals of the CFO. The cloud and DevOps practices, in fact, help enterprises to establish controls and governance, to document these controls for auditors, to reduce costs, to control IT investments, and to help enterprises earn good returns on their assets. Most of all, this transformation is tremendously risk-reducing—even if on the surface it appears to bring the risk of the new and the unknown.”

Bookmarks for July 8th through July 9th

This is an auto-posted collection of public links I’ve either posted to, or favourites from Twitter, my Instapaper bookmarks and my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 8th from 23:17 to 13:17:

  • Google Is Building a City of the Future in Toronto. Would Anyone Want to Live There? – POLITICO Magazine – "In Toronto, Sidewalk sketches out a picture of a neighborhood where intelligent “pay-as-you-throw” garbage chutes separate out recyclables and charge households by waste output; where hyperlocal weather sensors could detect a coming squall and heat up a snow-melting sidewalk. Apps would tell residents when the Adirondack chairs on the waterfront are open, and neighbors would crowdsource approvals for block-party permits, giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down based on the noise the gathering was expected to produce. Traffic signals could auto-calibrate to ease pedestrian congestion during public events, or to ensure a smooth rush hour. The data from such systems would feed back into the city, which would constantly learn, optimizing its own operations from month to month, year to year. Sidewalk promises “the most measurable community in the world.”"
  • We need a publicly funded rival to Facebook and Google | Financial Times – "Maybe there is a more direct approach: let us build public service digital corporations that offer better services to consumers." – everything old is new again
  • We Are All Public Figures Now – Ella Dawson – "As the content creator of this media circus, Blair is responsible for the behavior of its fans. When faced with the opportunity to discourage their privacy violations, she has done the opposite: “I’m sure you guys are sneaky.”" – knowing how to lead and moderate a community can be useful even if it's not your job.
  • The dark side of ‘Plane Bae’ and turning strangers into social media content – The Verge – "Creating threads of content based on the lives of average people, particularly with photos, has the potential to summon panoptic interest in the form of millions of eyes whose gaze weighs terribly on a person who is unused to a life of celebrity, as the vast majority of social media users are. We should be thinking more seriously about the ethics of live-tweeting: when is it appropriate? When it is, what should and shouldn’t you do? In Blair’s case, she seemed to think that lightly obscuring the faces of the two people she surveilled was enough to be ethical. (One face, that of a small child looking over her seat two rows ahead, was not obscured at all.)"
  • Pokémon Go creator Niantic announces Ingress animated series for Netflix this fall – Polygon – “Ingress: The Animation will tell the story of two characters, Makoto and Sarah, who develop paranormal abilities from exotic matter leaking into their world. Together, they uncover a company abusing this matter infiltration to experiment on humans and take it down. Ingress: The Animation will introduce an antagonist named Jack who will also debut in the new Ingress Prime game.”

Bookmarks for July 8th from 21:03 to 22:14

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 8th from 21:03 to 22:14:

  • Cage the Mastodon – Official Mastodon Blog – “Before I proceed, I need to delineate that the following design decisions are more about what the software nudges you towards, rather than a tamper-proof barrier against some behaviours, which is not possible.”
  • Polar Fitness suspends its global activity map after privacy concerns – The Verge – “Finnish fitness company Polar has temporarily suspended Explore, its global activity map after a pair of reports from De Correspondent and Bellingcat (via ZDNet) pointed out flaws in the app’s privacy settings that made it easy for someone to locate the location data of users, echoing a similar privacy incident with another fitness app earlier this year.” – WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING, CRY INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS
  • Nanette: Why Everyone Is Talking About Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix Special | IndieWire – “Gadsby says what most people in Hollywood are afraid to say: Cancel them all. No amount of art is worth even one person’s lifetime of healing from trauma. Movies are more than just entertainment, they are our mirror, the stories we watch are the stories we play out in our own lives. And by excusing one sexual predator, we excuse them all.”
  • Jonathan Cooper on Twitter: “That’s a mega-swing! Sidenote I learned on joining the team: Drake doesn’t ever take bullet damage. The red UI that shows ‘hits’ is to represent his ‘luck’ running out. Eventually enemies will get a clear shot and – “Drake doesn’t ever take bullet damage. The red UI that shows ‘hits’ is to represent his ‘luck’ running out. Eventually enemies will get a clear shot and kill him if he takes enough near-misses.” There’s a lot that is VERY GOOD about Uncharted’s game design. (Amy Hennig also pops up donwhtrwsd to confirm that the “luck” conceptual thinking was baked in from the start, in homage to the films they were referencing)
  • ‘I was shocked it was so easy’: ​meet the professor who says facial recognition ​​can tell if you’re gay | Technology | The Guardian – Kosinski says his critics missed the point. “This is the inherent paradox of warning people against potentially dangerous technology,” he says. “I stumbled upon those results, and I was actually close to putting them in a drawer and not publishing – because I had a very good life without this paper being out. But then a colleague asked me if I would be able to look myself in the mirror if, one day, a company or a government deployed a similar technique to hurt people.” It would, he says, have been “morally wrong” to bury his findings.

    One vocal critic of that defence is the Princeton professor Alexander Todorov, who has conducted some of the most widely cited research into faces and psychology. He argues that Kosinski’s methods are deeply flawed: the patterns picked up by algorithms comparing thousands of photographs may have little to do with facial characteristics. In a mocking critique posted online, Todorov and two AI researchers at Google argued that Kosinski’s algorithm could have been responding to patterns in people’s makeup, beards or glasses, even the angle they held the camera at. Self-posted photos on dating websites, Todorov points out, project a number of non-facial clues.