Extenuating Circumstances

is a weblog by Dan Hon

Bookmarks for July 6th through July 8th

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 6th from 18:31 to 20:54:

  • Intel’s Toxic Culture – Monday Note – “Perhaps Otellini truly didn’t believe Apple could sell huge numbers of iPhones?—?it wasn’t a sure thing at the time. But was there also an unconscious process that blinded him to the iPod’s volumes? More strikingly, why couldn’t Otellini “see” the hundreds of millions of handsets that were being sold by Nokia, RIM/Blackberry, and Windows Mobile licensees? Nokia had sold 265M devices in 2005 and the numbers were climbing rapidly. Not at PC prices, yet, but PC-like unit volumes, nonetheless.”
  • The Jackintosh: A Real GEM – Remembering the Atari ST – Paleotronic Magazine – “While the Atari ST’s specifications were impressive, what really stole the show was its operating system, GEM. Tramiel licensed GEM (short for Graphics Environment Manager) from Digital Research, who had initially developed it for their CP/M operating system and later ported it to MS-DOS. Tramiel wanted to give his new computer a user-interface layer similar to the Macintosh, but for a much lower price, and GEM fit the bill nicely, especially since Digital Research had no interest in 68000-based computers, it being fully focussed on the Intel 80286.”
  • Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo – “She longed for adventure.

    So she left her home and ventured out into the wide world.”

  • There Are No Cats in this Book: Viviane Schwarz: 9780763649548: Amazon.com: Books – “Our lovable feline friends Tiny, Moonpie, and Andre have returned, and this time they’re filled with the spirit of adventure: they want to go off to explore the world! They have their suitcases packed and are ready to set out, but can’t get out of the book. They try pushing their way out and jumping their way out, but nothing seems to work. Finally, they get a brilliant idea: they decide to wish themselves out! But they’re going to need help. Will it work? Are you missing them yet?”
  • Project Oasis: Voice Terrarium – Project Oasis is a Voice Terrarium you can talk to. It's a self-sufficient closed ecosystem that mimics outside weather but inside a box. You can ask the terrarium about 'Weather in Seattle' as a response to which it might start pouring inside the box. The terrarium can also generate clouds, mist or change lighting to represent other weather conditions.
  • Road Trip – This app will read you about the places and points of interest you drive by.

Bookmarks for July 6th from 12:08 to 15:00

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 6th from 12:08 to 15:00:

  • summit | Origin and meaning of summit by Online Etymology Dictionary – “The meaning "meeting of heads of state" (1950) is from Winston Churchill's metaphor of "a parley at the summit."”
  • Ethical Decisions for Designers and Product Teams Tickets, Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 9:00 AM | Eventbrite – "Like every other human being on the planet we share, designers are part of the social contract. By choosing to be a designer you are choosing to affect the people who come in contact with your work. Learn how to tell if your work will hurt or help those people and how to measure social impact alongside shareholder value. If you’re wondering whether this workshop is for you—it is."
  • Design Ethics :: Mule – "You’re responsible for what you put into the world. Every choice you make, whether working for yourself or working for someone else, needs to take that into consideration. This workshop will teach you the basic principles of working ethically. We’ll go over how to measure social impact as a key metric, how to tell if you’re designing something dangerous, and how to tell the people who hired you they’re designing something dangerous. The effect of what you put into the world needs to be a consideration in your work."
  • The Autobiography of Jean-Luc Picard | Memory Beta, non-canon Star Trek Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia – I accidentally read this the other night – accidentally, in the sense of starting something at past my bedtime and then keeping going until I'd finished it, instead of going to sleep – and let's just say that there's a lot in here about father-son relationships that I highlighted and that Star Trek just Keeps On Giving.
  • Disease as Political Metaphor – Susan Sontag [pdf] – "Punitive notions of disease have a long history, and such notions are particularly active with cancer. There is the “fight” or “crusade” against cancer; cancer is the “killer” disease; people who have cancer are “cancer victims.” Ostensibly, the illness is the culprit. But it is also the cancer patient who is made culpable. Widely believed psychological theories of disease assign to the ill the ultimate responsibility both for falling ill and for getting well." – via Duane King.
  • Circle of Influence and Circle of Concern @ David Rynick – “Covey’s simple assertion is that whichever part of the circle we spend time in will grow. If we spend most of our time worrying about things we cannot control, the white grows larger and the yolk smaller. When we spend time focusing on the things that we can actually do something about, the yolk, the area over which we have influence, becomes larger.” – although I think there's nuance here. The circle of control in the diagram includes "your attitude and enthusiasm" which, well, I think are *somewhat* in your control, but you have to learn how you control them.
  • Anti-Flow – Rands in Repose – Sometimes you have to not think about something to let yourself think about something.
  • Ron Johnson was right about JCPenney | Ken Segall – "As Johnson himself admits, he simply went too fast. He cut the coupons and sales before the stores could be physically transformed. In doing so, he alienated the old shoppers before he could attract the new ones."
  • Does Hierarchical Predictive Coding Explain Perception? – NYU Center for Mind, Brain and Consciousness – "Predictive models of perception propose that perception works by making predictions about sensory inputs and minimizing prediction error. Hierarchical predictive coding models say that at each layer in the visual hierarchy, predictions are made about the layer below. Any differences between predicted input and actual input are propagated up the visual hierarchy by the mechanism of predictive coding, altering the system to reduce prediction errors in the future. According to some theorists, this approach portrays perception as “controlled hallucination”. This event will bring two neuroscientists and two philosophers together to debate how well this approach can explain perception."
  • Predictive brains and embodied, enactive cognition: an introduction to the special issue | SpringerLink – "All the papers in this special issue sit at the intersection between work on predictive processing models in the neurosciences and embodied, enactive perspectives on mind. It is arguably one of the most cutting-edge and fast-moving intersections of research in the contemporary sciences of mind and brain. All contributions deal with questions of whether and how key assumptions of the predictive brain hypothesis can be reconciled with approaches to cognition that take embodiment and enaction as playing a central and constitutive role in our cognitive lives."
  • The Space Nation of Asgardia Inaugurated Its First Leader in an Incredible Ceremony – Motherboard – "[Asgardia] held an incredible ceremony on Monday inaugurating its self-declared leader Igor Ashurbeyli as its head of state. Ashurbeyli is a Russian billionaire whose money comes from weapons systems. His backing has allowed Asgardia to thrive and he wants the country to join the UN, but to do so it must have a functioning government. It elected a parliament in April (a motley collection of international characters between the ages of 40 and 80, as specified by the Asgardian constitution) followed by Ashurbeyli declaring himself head of state." – some sort of joke about a Marvel cinematic universe ARG.
  • We Talked to a Scientist Who Makes Those Incredibly Satisfying Computer Animations – Motherboard – For other people, SIGGRAPH technical papers preview season is also "weirdly satisfying computer animation" season.
  • Japan Tests Silicon for Exascale Computing in 2021 – IEEE Spectrum – "[To reach exascale territory, Fujitsu and RIKEN] have replaced the SPARC64 VIIIfx CPU powering the K computer with the Arm8A-SVE (Scalable Vector Extension) 512-bit architecture that’s been enhanced for supercomputer use, and which both Fujitsu and RIKEN had a hand in developing."
  • Digital delivery of government services – Report – Parliament of Australia – An inquiry into the digital delivery of government service, with particular reference to: whether planned and existing programs are able to digitally deliver services; strategies for whole of government digital transformation; and digital project delivery. 
  • Australia’s Digital Transformation Stumbles Badly – IEEE Spectrum – "Australian citizens’ satisfaction in the government’s digital services has dropped precipitously since 2011, and these and other services failures on the horizon will do nothing to increase it. A nation looking to implement digital transformation might wish to study the Senate committee report for lessons on what not to do, especially paying attention to former Digital Transformation Agency director Paul Shelter’s comments on the importance of successful ICT system delivery. It may then have a better chance of moving toward what Estonia has accomplished."
  • Don’t @ me if you didn’t play Okami on Twitter: “Realistic graphics are not impressive anymore and artstyle/direction is more valuable to a game’s visuals… “ – Pay attention – this is another sign that Games Are Growing Up As A Cultural And Creative Medium.
  • Brand New: New Logo and Identity for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 2018 Campaign by Tandem – "I would cautiously deem Ocasio-Cortez’s posters as this generation’s We Can Do It poster, in terms of a single visual powerfully driven by a woman’s portrait. But we will let history decide that, not a dude that blogs about logos." – more commentary on Tandem's frankly stunning identity and poster work for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's campaign.
  • A History of Production Company Logo Animations – I remember being unreasonably excited when the Universal Pictures studio logo was replaced with CGI.
  • Brand New: Incredible Disney Logo – Apparently there was a custom Disney logo for Incredibles 2 (of course there was). Still need to see that.
  • Brand New: New Logo and Identity for LNER by Brand Cooke – "The new logo scrapes away all Virgin-ness except for the red color to maintain some continuity. It is rendered in a geometric sans (looks like it’s possibly based on Gotham) with exaggerated spikes in the “N”s."

Bookmarks for July 5th through July 6th

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 5th from 12:14 to 11:57:

  • Asgardia – The Space Nation – "Asgardia is the first independent, free, unitary, and social Space Nation, which is transethnic and secular, is based on morality, fairness, peace, and the equal dignity of every human being, looks to the future and the infinite Universe, and is a Kingdom."
  • Asgardia – The Space Nation – "We believe that the creation of a new legal platform for the exploration of near-Earth and deep space is crucial to keep pace with humanity’s rapid technological and scientific expansion off-planet. Universal space law and astro-politics have to replace the current outdated international space law and geopolitics."
  • James Webb Space Telescope Digital Art by James Vaughan – "James Webb Space Telescope is a piece of digital artwork by James Vaughan which was uploaded on July 4th, 2018"
  • James Vaughan Artwork Collection: Space Exploration – "illustrations produced by James Vaughan for the Space-Aerospace industry and Government. A return to the 'G-Whiz' emotional themes that have and will inspire generations to come"
  • Making Educational Escape Rooms for Libraries Tickets, Tue, 31 Jul 2018 at 13:00 | Eventbrite – Please join CILIPinKent for a fun and informative afternoon with Andrew Walsh from the University of Huddersfield where he will walk us through the steps of creating our own escape rooms.

Bookmarks for July 3rd through July 5th

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 3rd from 21:04 to 11:35:

  • The App Store turns 10 – Apple – “While there have been many notable moments since apps first came to iPhone and later iPad, the milestones and testimonials below reflect some of the most significant over the past 10 years — defining how the App Store democratized software distribution and transformed how we live every day.”
  • Spiders Use Earth’s Electric Field to Fly Hundreds of Miles – The Atlantic – "Ballooning spiders operate within this planetary electric field. When their silk leaves their bodies, it typically picks up a negative charge. This repels the similar negative charges on the surfaces on which the spiders sit, creating enough force to lift them into the air. And spiders can increase those forces by climbing onto twigs, leaves, or blades of grass. Plants, being earthed, have the same negative charge as the ground that they grow upon, but they protrude into the positively charged air. This creates substantial electric fields between the air around them and the tips of their leaves and branches—and the spiders ballooning from those tips."
  • 7 Days With the 2018 Jimmy Awards Finalists – “What are the Jimmy Awards?” you ask, like an innocent child.

    Short answer? They are the high-school Tonys.

  • Your eyes are bad and your brain is a liar | MetaFilter – One interesting piece that didn't come up in the thread is how you go from the retina to the brain, and how those connections vary as a function of where on the retina we're talking about. This is, broadly, is the idea of cortical magnification and the problem of peripheral vision. So, the fovea (call it the central 1.7-2º of the retina) gets something like ~50% of visual cortex, but we've got the remaining 99%+ of the retina to deal with. The brain needs to represent all of that input, but there's not enough cortex to do it the way we do it with the fovea, so there's an ongoing question of how we represent the periphery, and what that information is good for. Does the brain throw a lot of it out? Does it code it in some weird, compressed fashion? What can we do with this information… and this is basically what I study (although I'm mostly looking at it in a pretty applied case, when it comes to driving). For what amounts to the current theory and model on this, I'd point anyone interested at this 2016 paper, which is a good overview of the misconceptions and what the current state of the field is.
  • Thread by @analogist_net: “In honor of @Foone’s thread on the visual quirks of our brains, let’s talk about “how bullshit insane our brains are”: sensory and motor sys […]” – In honor of @Foone's thread on the *visual* quirks of our brains, let's talk about "how bullshit insane our brains are": sensory and motor systems edition.
  • Trump’s trade war with China is finally here — and it won’t be pretty, analysts say – “It’s like a war where everybody points the guns at themselves,” Tan said.
  • Cory Doctorow: Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags – Locus Online – Facebook doesn’t have a mind-control problem, it has a corruption problem. Cambridge Analytica didn’t convince decent people to become racists; they convinced racists to become voters.
  • USCIS is Starting a Denaturalization Task Force | The Takeaway | WNYC Studios – As a result, the organization expects to hire dozens of lawyers and immigration officers in the coming weeks to find U.S. citizens they say should not have been naturalized, to revoke their citizenship, and then eventually deport them.
  • Latest Text Of EU Copyright Directive Shows It’s Even Worse Than Expected: Must Be Stopped | Techdirt – “This new text effectively says that the internet should only be a broadcast medium, and no longer allow for open user platforms.”

Bookmarks for July 3rd from 13:53 to 15:21

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 3rd from 13:53 to 15:21:

Bookmarks for July 2nd through July 3rd

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 2nd from 22:04 to 09:41:

Bookmarks for July 2nd from 14:35 to 21:19

This is an auto-posted collection of my public links posted to Pinboard.in for July 2nd from 14:35 to 21:19:

  • SimBrexit game Not Tonight releases next month | Rock, Paper, Shotgun – "In Not Tonight, you play a “bouncer” in an alternative (ish) post-Brexit Britain where some very bad people have come into power. In a gig-based economy, you travel between various, pubs, clubs, and festivals in order to help determine who is allowed in. As a bouncer, you’ll be responsible for checking IDs and following any other rules the location has regarding who is let in and who is not. Following the rules and doing a good job allows you to upgrade your life and even your body. And that personal success probably comes at the expense of the people around you and the future of the country itself.

    Also, you might notice that Brexit was a bad dumb idea and it will doom us all. That’s just some bonus facts."

  • Outer Wilds is getting ready to land (and still plays great) | Rock, Paper, Shotgun – "This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this scrappy-looking space lark. You might remember it for its Majora’s Mask style time loop. You play as an alien who blasts off to explore a tight-knit solar system, but every twenty minutes the sun goes supernova, and time rewinds to the moment before lift off. It’s Kerbal Space Program meets Groundhog Day and even in it’s alpha, it was a wonderful place to spend your lunchtime. It also won an IGF award back in 2015."
  • Please stop asking me to use the app – You can’t say no.
  • “I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets – “We demonstrated that the Web had failed instead of served humanity, as it was supposed to have done, and failed in many places,” he told me. The increasing centralization of the Web, he says, has “ended up producing—with no deliberate action of the people who designed the platform—a large-scale emergent phenomenon which is anti-human.”
  • Opinion | Facebook Isn’t Silicon Valley’s Only Problem – The New York Times – "All internet companies must place humanity first and profits second. The public scrutiny of Facebook has led it to make positive changes in that direction, but we can’t forget to hold the broader industry accountable, too."

Bookmarks for July 1st through July 2nd

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 1st from 20:18 to 08:33:

  • stacy-marie ishmael on Twitter: “before you share that viral thing, read the replies / comments for a bit. there is almost always a nuance, crucial additional context, or an outright retraction that follows.”
  • Mining the Sky – “That’s a good question. There’s nothing about Luxembourg, or where it is, or who lives there, that makes it particularly qualified to get into this game. They don’t have a space agency. They only just built a university. They only have about half a million people. They’re not a massive industrial power.

    But what they do have—and this is really important—is the ability to make laws. You can only make laws if you’re a sovereign country. There are only so many sovereign countries. Luxembourg is one of them. And throughout its history, it has survived by making laws that businesses want.”

  • ??????? – ??????? is a cyberpunk themed text-based hacking simulator for intel-compatible personal home computers. Get lost in a deep and complex world full of challenging puzzles.
  • Wow! 2001 video game Halo gets a TV show in 2018 | Rock, Paper, Shotgun – "A little known title from seventeen years ago is seeing a small screen adaptation on the horizon. Halo: Combat Evolved was a first person shooter that encouraged retro gamers to traverse national parks on a large ring and visit the local library. The TV retelling of a guy who doesn’t talk and the sexy lady who lives in his arm is coming to Showtime in 2019, thanks to Steven Spielberg’s company Amblin and The 343 Factory."
  • It Is As If You Were Making Love is complicated at best | Rock, Paper, Shotgun – "Set in a future where physical intimacy is (finally) a thing of the past, this free game invites you to find release in a medium that… I don’t know, man. What did I just play? Are we even playing this game or is it playing us? Do I feel used? Maybe you should just play it too. I recommend turning the sound on. It’s called It is as if you were making love and yes, it delivers on that premise."

Bookmarks for June 30th through July 1st

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 June 30th from 17:36 to 18:58:

  • Laura Solon: Talking and Not Talking – Wikipedia – “China Lion, a china ornament owned by a demented Teutonic lady.[2] In each of its occurrences, the German lady describes how she came by China Lion, each time in different, very strange circumstances. In later series, the lady interrupts various BBC procedures to recount tales of imaginary battles between her and her domestic staff, particularly her nemesis, the cleaner.”
  • Trick Shot 2 by Jonathan Topf – And I was just thinking about The Incredible Machine, too.
  • The Dipole Drive: A New Concept for Space Propulsion – “The dipole drive is a new propulsion system which uses ambient space plasma as propellant, thereby avoiding the need to carry any of its own. The dipole drive remedies two shortcomings of the classic electric sail in that it can generate thrust within planetary magnetospheres and it can generate thrust in any direction in interplanetary space.”
  • HyperRogue: the weirdest roguelike | Rock, Paper, Shotgun – “[Hyperrogue is] one of the best games I’ve played in a long time, which makes it all the more annoying that I could have been playing it for a long time. The first version came out in 2011 and by 2015, it was available on Steam. You can still play for free, but since I got home from EGX, where I played it for the first time in the Leftfield Collection, I’ve already bought it twice. Once on PC and, because it’s the kind of game I don’t want to let out of hand’s reach at any time, on tablet as well.”
  • HyperRogue – About – “[The twist is] the unique, unusual geometry of the world: it is one of just few games which takes place on the hyperbolic plane. Witness a grid composed of hexagons and heptagons, straight lines which seem to be parallel, but then they diverge and never cross, triangles whose angles add up to less than 180 degrees, how extremely unlikely is it to reach the same place twice, and how the world seems to be rotated when you do return.”

Bookmarks for June 29th through June 30th

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 June 29th from 21:01 to 00:09:

  • Taking Another Person’s Perspective Doesn’t Help You Understand Them – Facts So Romantic – Nautilus – “True insight into the minds of others is not likely to come from honing your powers of intuition,” Epley wrote, “but rather by learning to stop guessing about what’s on the mind of another person and learning to listen instead.”
  • Breaking LTE on Layer Two – Can this happen to me? In theory yes, but expect the effort to be high. The most likely victims of such targeted attacks in practice are persons of special interest (e.g., politicians, journalists, etc.).
  • Revenge of the PMO | Silicon Valley Product Group – “A couple years ago I wrote about the root causes of product failure in product companies and I identified ten key attributes of Waterfall and project-mindset.  I went through and compared this list with SAFe, and literally all ten problems exist in SAFe.  Indeed, I would argue that all ten problems are inherent in that process.”
  • United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program – Wikipedia – “Rolling Thunder became the Rorschach test for the Navy and Air Force, which drew nearly opposite conclusions.”
  • It started with your shoes, then your water. Now the TSA wants your snacks. – The Washington Post – “But the “recommendation” appears to be gaining steam and moving rapidly into the territory of de-facto protocol, according to travelers who have received snack-related notices from their airlines, and who have been informed by rank-and-file TSA screeners that the snack checks are now standard practice.” – ugh humans are so good at copying other humans.
  • Show your projects in motion with animated GIFs | The GitHub Blog – “Taking time to dress your UI before recording can create a much more realistic backdrop for your animation. In filmmaking, this is called mise-en-scène, and it can refer to things like scenery and props. For an animated GIF, this might mean seeding your app with content that reinforces the scenario you are demonstrating, but even random, realistic content is better than pasting in lorem ipsum text or names like “example for demo.””
  • Show HN: The Program – A fictional podcast inspired by Hacker News stories | Hacker News – “Every episode is a self-contained story, but all of them revolve around technological and societal themes that are close to the HN ethos. In fact, episode 3 was directly inspired by an HN story found at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15651510 and some of the comments from that thread have been incorporated into the story almost verbatim.”
  • The Program Audio Series – “The Program is a historical podcast, but a one that’s set in the future and examines the present day. The world of the future is exactly like ours, except that Money, State, and God became fused into a single entity called the Program. This hardcore sci-fi premise however is just the backdrop, and the series focuses on stories of ordinary people inhabiting this extraordinary world.”
  • Get your push NotiFICTIONs on! – Serial Box Serial Box – “Push notifications. Not a term that typically strikes enthusiasm or inspiration in the heart of the average mobile user. But we here at Serial Box are all about expanding the horizons of what’s possible in the world of storytelling, no matter the medium or screen size.

    Beginning July 9th, we are giving the shunned notification a shot at fame with the launch of an all-new feature: Microfiction Mondays.

    Every Monday we will release a new 150-character-or less story from our talented pool of more than 60 Hugo, World Science Fiction, and Nebula Award-winning and -nominated authors, all via push notifications.”

  • Jim Campbell, Electrical Engineer Turned Artist, Lights Up San Francisco’s Salesforce Tower http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IeeeSpectrumFullText/~3/azHmjYZdMUY/ee-turned-artist-lights-up-salesforce-tower – “Campbell loves both engineering and art, but says trying to make a career out of both felt “schizophrenic. The engineering and art parts of my brain are separate.” He even found himself using two names—Jack for his Silicon Valley career, Jim in the art world. At least then, when he got a phone call, he knew what the caller might be wanting. Finally, with a young child also demanding his time, he gave up the engineering job.”
  • Deceived by Design | MetaFilter
  • Too Many Cooks creator returns to skewer video games and streamer culture – The Verge – Final Deployment 4: Queen Battle Walkthrough, created by Kelly and Nick Gibbons, starts as a (barely) over-the-top sketch starring Blair Trigger, a streamer playing what best resembles a bad Gears of War game. In between dropping his best puns (“ass-id juice, see what I did there”) and playthrough tips, Blair reads aloud questions and comments from fans like “Masterqueef453.”