Great Billboard Hack

Updated on Sunday, May 3, 2020

Bernal Bug

Updated on Sunday, February 20, 2022

Bernal Bug

Photo of a Jerusalem cricket (aka potato bug) marching up Bernal Heights.

(Related: Banana Slug; Teddybear Cholla; Moth)

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(Recent Photos)

Drones and Gun Control

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Drones and Gun Control

A quick question for the two thirds of Americans who see gun rights as being protection from tyranny. Your government has just refused to rule out killing you by drone in the US without due process (never mind that US citizens outside the country are already fair game). If not now, then when?

You realize that by the time ATF has seized your weapons and you're all locked up in internment camps for gun enthusiasts it will be too late, right?

If the Attorney General deciding that under circumstances he won't reveal it's OK to kill you without a trial doesn't cross the line then what does? Seems like the dictionary definition of tyranny to me. 

I've got to admit that I wouldn't like to try taking down the government via violence. They've got drones. Not to mention aircraft carriers, nukes, F-35s and whatever it is that's festering on Plum Island. Personally I'll stick with voting and blogging. 

So if you're not actually going to overthrow the government can we drop this ridiculous 'need' for guns and move on?

(Related: I would do anything to reduce gun violence, but I won't do that (an open letter to Joe Manchin); Intelligence Squared Two-Party Debate; Episode Four)

(You might also like: Privacy Policy Update and Comment Notifications; Open Immigration; Twin Peaks Loop)

(All Politics Posts)

NailMathAndScienceFirst.org

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

NailMathAndScienceFirst.org

Code.org wants every student in every school to learn how to code. The have an inspirational video of software luminaries saying how easy it is to do and then somewhat contradicting themselves by saying they can't hire enough engineers. If addition, subtraction and ten minutes on a web tutorial was enough then Facebook and Microsoft could hire just anyone. The project comes off as being just a little bit self serving. Sure, we need more skilled software engineers but we also hardware engineers and biohackers and makers not to mention doctors and lawyers and accountants.

Rather than getting everyone to code, how about just stopping Oklahoma from banning science teachers from failing students who fail to learn science: “but no student in any public school or institution shall be penalized in any way because the student may subscribe to a particular position on scientific theories,”.

I'm not in any way against learning to code. But you can't code without a reasonable grasp of mathematics. And you're not going to be successful as a professional developer if you can't communicate. And when your code inevitably goes horribly wrong then debugging is the very essence of the scientific method. Maths, literacy and science come first, are relevant to many careers and the US isn't doing a particularly great job of delivering the goods. 

Get the basics right and plenty of students will become developers. 

(Related: Home of the Whatevers; The Economics of Digital Rights Management; Sod Searle And Sod His Sodding Room)

(You might also like: Sutro Baths Timelapse; News: Google, Microsoft, Mozilla And Others Team Up To Launch WebAssembly, A New Binary Format For The Web; Catfood: Cleat)

(All Politics Posts)

Instead of punishing bankers why not disrupt them?

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Instead of punishing bankers why not disrupt them?

I'm not the biggest fan of banks. Not content with crashing the world economy my own bank took the time to personally defraud me. The EU is currently planning to cap banker bonuses and this is just nuts.

It feels like an attack on the UK, where the lions share of our economy is banking and people coming to see the Queen. 

It feels anti-capitalist - why bankers? Why not footballers or movie stars or orthodontists? 

But mostly it feels like the wrong form of revenge, too easy to circumvent and ultimately likely to be toothless. Banks may say they have to pay outlandish bonuses to attract the best talent, but really it means the industry is ripe for innovation. Regulators should figure out and then remove barriers to entry (and throw up barriers to unfair competition, and hold competitions to encourage innovation) so that startups and software can eat the financial services sector.

Too big to fail all at once, but not too big to be disrupted into irrelevance. 

(Related: HOWTO: Punish Banks; More on breaking the Internet; San Francisco November 2020 Ballot Measures)

(You might also like: Moth; Better related posts with word2vec (C#); What if the Senate Voted Proportionally to Population)

(All Politics Posts)

Reviews and Links for February 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Shift Omnibus Edition (Wool, #6-8) by Hugh Howey

3/5

I read this straight after the Wool series. The Shift trilogy fills in the back story of how the silos were created and then starts to overlap with the events from Wool. Shift didn't have quite the same tension as Wool and I didn't care about the characters as much. Still hooked though and can't wait for Dust later this year...

 

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

4/5

Collection of five novellas set in a mysterious silo. A little more is revealed with each chapter and the series gets more compelling and ambiguous as we learn more about what's really going on. Didn't know what to expect (got this as a Christmas Present) but very enjoyable and I've gone straight on to the next omnibus with a final tranche due later this year.

 

(Related: Kindle: Figure out sorting!; The Secret Diary of a Xamarin Android Developer, Aged 48 1/3; Real Time)

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Bringing a SHIELD to a conker fight

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

Bringing a SHIELD to a conker fight

I've supported the SHIELD Act before, which would force patent trolls to pay legal bills for unsuccessful shakedown attempts, but a TechCrunch article today made me think this through some more. 

SHIELD would be a serious deterrent for trolls who have their eye on large companies with the means to defend themselves. But trolls eat startups first and a startup is often unable to fight through the courts and get to the point where SHIELD would help. If the troll is after something like $1,000 from every company using a scanner then not many businesses are going to risk going to court. And if the troll isn't interested in any reasonable settlement then the legal fees and management distraction can kill you

SHIELD is well intentioned and would certainly help. But we need to stop examining patents before issuing them and do the job properly for the few that ever get used in anger. 

(Related: How to fix software patents; HBR on the Wrong Patent Reform; More on breaking the Internet)

(You might also like: Pulling the plug on Facebook and Twitter, Tweet Archive; Out of Office Hours; Badge Driven Development)

(All Politics Posts)

Chinese New Year

Updated on Sunday, September 18, 2022

I can't post a single photo

Updated on Thursday, November 12, 2015

I can't post a single photo

You'd think Facebook or Twitter could scrape together a semi-functional Android client but apparently not.

Twitter has some size limit for photo uploads. In a sane world the client would resize a photo that was too large and just get on with it. Table stakes would be an error message. But no, it pretends everything is just peachy and then fails to upload. To post a photo to Twitter I have to remember to go into the camera settings and ratchet down the megapixels which I remember to do about never. 

Facebook used to work occasionally but now just dumps an ugly immobile progress bar that won't go away until I reboot the phone. 

Google+ probably works fine technically but if a photo is uploaded to a forest and there is nobody there to see it is that still in any sense counted as success?

(Related: Capture DropCam (Nest Cam) frames to Google Drive; I didn't think I'd ever fall for fake news on Facebook; The Trust Project, Fake News and a Partial Facebook Uninstall)

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(All Etc Posts)

Reviews and Links for January 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2/5

I always want to like Kim Stanley Robinson a lot more than I do. The setup here is an interesting mystery set in a fascinating fully populated Solar System and if 2312 delivered on this premise it could have been a great book. But it's bogged down with exposition and a lengthy middle section on randomly repopulating extinct mammals and ended up just being a slog for me.

(Related: Go-arounds: LEGO and Legislative Service; Get ITHCWY By Email; The Harvard Business Review Fallacy)

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(All Book Reviews)

I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison's blog.

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