Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Wood

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

The friendly skies

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Cool it

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Hampton

Bifurcated Rivets: From FB

Excellent

Recent additions: bindings-GLFW 3.2.1.1

Added by Mokosha, Sun Apr 22 23:34:54 UTC 2018.

Low-level bindings to GLFW OpenGL library

Slashdot: UK Teen Who Hacked CIA Director Sentenced To 2 Years In Prison

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A British teenager who gained notoriety for hacking a number of high profile United States government employees including former CIA director John Brennan and former director of intelligence James Clapper was sentenced Friday to two years in prison. Eighteen-year-old Kane Gamble pleaded guilty to 10 separate charges, including eight counts of "performing a function with intent to secure unauthorized access" and two counts of "unauthorized modification of computer material," the Guardian reported. Gamble, otherwise known by his online alias Cracka, was 15 at the time that he started his hacking campaigns. The alleged leader of a hacking group known as Crackas With Attitude (CWA), Gamble made it a point to target members of the U.S. government. The young hacker's group managed to successfully gain access to ex-CIA director John Brennan's AOL email account. The group hacked a number of accounts belonging to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, including his personal email, his wife's email, and his phone and internet provider account. The hackers allegedly made it so every call to Clapper's home phone would get forwarded to the Free Palestine Movement.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Recent additions: alg 0.2.1.0

Added by MatthewFarkasDyck, Sun Apr 22 22:53:41 UTC 2018.

Algebraic structures

search.cpan.org: Bio-MUST-Core-0.181120

Core classes and utilities for Bio::MUST

Slashdot: Tesla Batteries Retain Over 90 Percent Charging Power After 160,000 Miles, Survey Finds

According to a survey of over 350 Tesla owners, Tesla batteries retain over 90 percent of their charging power after 160,000 miles. The EVs dropped only 5 percent of their capacity after 50,000 miles, but lose it at a much slower rate after that. Most Tesla vehicles will have over 90 percent of their charging power after around 185,000 miles, and 80 percent capacity after 500,000. Engadget reports: Tesla has no battery degradation warranty on its Model S and X luxury EVs, but guarantees that the Model 3 will retain 70 percent battery capacity after 120,000 miles (long-range battery) and 100,000 miles (shorter-range battery). That's a bit more generous than the one Nissan offers on the Leaf (66 percent over 100,000 miles) for instance. According to the survey data, Tesla will easily be able to meet this mark.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

MetaFilter: Letting Mother Nature reclaim prime farmland

What happened when a British couple decided to let their farm go to the weeds

search.cpan.org: Win32-SqlServer-2.011

Access SQL Server from Perl via OLE DB

Planet Haskell: Joachim Breitner: Verifying local definitions in Coq

TL;DR: We can give top-level names to local definitions, so that we can state and prove stuff about them without having to rewrite the programs.

When a Haskeller writes Coq

Imagine you teach Coq to a Haskell programmer, and give them the task of pairing each element in a list with its index. The Haskell programmer might have

addIndex :: [a] -> [(Integer, a)]
addIndex xs = go 0 xs
  where go n [] = []
        go n (x:xs) = (n,x) : go (n+1) xs

in mind and write this Gallina function (Gallina is the programming language of Coq):

Require Import Coq.Lists.List.
Import ListNotations.

Definition addIndex {a} (xs : list a) : list (nat * a) :=
  let fix go n xs := match xs with
                     | []    => []
                     | x::xs => (n, x) :: go (S n) xs
                     end
  in go 0 xs.

Alternatively, imagine you are using hs-to-coq to mechanically convert the Haskell definition into Coq.

When a Coq user tries to verify that

Now your task is to prove something about this function, for example

Theorem addIndex_spec:
  forall {a} n (xs : list a),
  nth n (map fst (addIndex xs)) n = n.

If you just have learned Coq, you will think “I can do this, this surely holds by induction on xs.” But if you have a bit more experience, you will already see a problem with this (if you do not see the problem yet, I encourage you to stop reading, copy the few lines above, and try to prove it).

The problem is that – as so often – you have to generalize the statement for the induction to go through. The theorem as stated says something about addIndex or, in other words, about go 0. But in the inductive case, you will need some information about go 1. In fact, you need a lemma like this:

Lemma go_spec:
  forall {a} n m k (xs : list a), k = n + m ->
  nth n (map fst (go m xs)) k = k.

But go is not a (top-level) function! How can we fix that?

  • We can try to awkwardly work-around not having a name for go in our proofs, and essentially prove go_spec inside the proof of addIndex_spec. Might work in this small case, but does not scale up to larger proofs.
  • We can ask the programmer to avoid using local functions, and first define go as a top-level fixed point. But maybe we don’t want to bother them because of that. (Or, more likely, we are using hs-to-coq and that tool stubbornly tries to make the output as similar to the given Haskell code as possible.)
  • We can copy’n’paste the definition of go and make a separate, after-the-fact top-level definition. But this is not nice from a maintenance point of view: If the code changes, we have to update this copy.
  • Or we apply this one weird trick...

The weird trick

We can define go after-the-fact, but instead of copy’n’pasting the definition, we can use Coq’s tactics to define it. Here it goes:

Definition go {a} := ltac:(
  let e := eval cbv beta delta [addIndex] in (@addIndex a []) in
  (* idtac e; *)
  lazymatch e with | let x := ?def in _ =>
    exact def
  end).

Let us take it apart:

  1. We define go, and give the parameters that go depends upon. Note that of the two arguments of addIndex, the definition of go only depends on (“captures”) a, but not xs.
  2. We do not give a type to go. We could, but that would again just be copying information that is already there.
  3. We define go via an ltac expression: Instead of a term we give a tactic that will calculate the term.
  4. This tactic first binds e to the body of addIndex. To do so, it needs to pass enough arguments to addIndex. The concrete value of the list argument does not matter, so we pass []. The term @addIndex a [] is now evaluated with the evaluation flags eval cbv beta delta [addIndex], which says “unfold addIndex and do beta reduction, but nothing else”. In particularly, we do not do zeta reduction, which would reduce the let go := … definition. (The user manual very briefly describes these flags.)
  5. The idtac e line can be used to peek at e, for example when the next tactic fails. We can use this to check that e really is of the form let fix go := … in ….
  6. The lazymatch line matches e against the pattern let x := ?def in _, and binds the definition of go to the name def.
  7. And the exact def tactic tells Coq to use def as the definition of go.

We now have defined go, of type go : forall {a}, nat -> list a -> list (nat * a), and can state and prove the auxiliary lemma:

Lemma go_spec:
  forall {a} n m k (xs : list a), k = n + m ->
  nth n (map fst (go m xs)) k = k.
Proof.
  intros ?????.
  revert n m k.
  induction xs; intros; destruct n; subst; simpl; only 1-3:reflexivity.
  apply IHxs; lia.
Qed.

When we come to the theorem about addIndex, we can play a little trick with fold to make the proof goal pretty:

Theorem addIndex_spec:
  forall {a} n (xs : list a),
  nth n (map fst (addIndex xs)) n = n.
Proof.
  intros.
  unfold addIndex.
  fold (@go a).
  (* goal here: nth n (map fst (go 0 xs)) n = n *)
  apply go_spec; lia.
Qed.

Multiple local definitions

The trick extends to multiple local definitions, but needs some extra considerations to ensure terms are closed. A bit contrived, but lets say that we have this function definition:

Definition addIndex' {a} (xs : list a) : list (nat * a) :=
  let inc := length xs in
  let fix go n xs := match xs with
                     | []    => []
                     | x::xs => (n, x) :: go (inc + n) xs
                     end in
  go 0 xs.

We now want to give names to inc and to go. I like to use a section to collect the common parameters, but that is not essential here. The trick above works flawlessly for `inc':

Section addIndex'.
Context {a} (xs : list a).

Definition inc := ltac:(
  let e := eval cbv beta delta [addIndex'] in (@addIndex' a xs) in
  lazymatch e with | let x := ?def in _ =>
    exact def
  end).

But if we try it for go', like such:

Definition go' := ltac:(
  let e := eval cbv beta delta [addIndex'] in (@addIndex' a xs) in
  lazymatch e with | let x := _ in let y := ?def in _ =>
    exact def
  end).

we get “Ltac variable def depends on pattern variable name x which is not bound in current context”. To fix this, we write

    exact (let x := inc in def)

instead. We have now defined both inc and go' and can use them in proofs about addIndex':

Theorem addIndex_spec':
  forall n, nth n (map fst (addIndex' xs)) n = n * length xs.
Proof.
  intros.
  unfold addIndex'.
  fold inc  go'. (* order matters! *)
  (* goal here: nth n (map fst (go' 0 xs)) n = n * inc *)

Reaching into a match

This trick also works when the local definition we care about is inside a match statement. Consider:

Definition addIndex_weird {a} (oxs : option (list a)) : list (nat * a)
  := match oxs with
     | None => []
     | Some xs =>
       let fix go n xs := match xs with
                          | []    => []
                          | x::xs => (n, x) :: go (S n) xs
                          end in
       go 0 xs
     end.

Definition go_weird {a} := ltac:(
  let e := eval cbv beta match delta [addIndex_weird]
           in (@addIndex_weird a (Some [])) in
  idtac e;
  lazymatch e with | let x := ?def in _ =>
    exact def
  end).

Note the addition of match to the list of evaluation flags passed to cbv.

Conclusion

While local definitions are idiomatic in Haskell (in particular thanks to the where syntax), they are usually avoided in Coq, because they get in the way of verification. If, for some reason, one is stuck with such definitions, then this trick presents a reasonable way out.

Slashdot: Pornhub Hasn't Been Actively Enforcing Its Deepfake Ban

Pornhub said in February that it was banning AI-generated deepfake videos, but BuzzFeed News found that it's not doing a very good job at enforcing that policy. The media company found more than 70 deepfake videos -- depicting graphic fake sex scenes with Emma Watson, Scarlett Johanson, and other celebrities -- were easily searchable from the site's homepage using the search term "deepfake." From the report: Shortly after the ban in February, Mashable reported that there were dozens of deepfake videos still on the site. Pornhub removed those videos after the report, but a few months later, BuzzFeed News easily found more than 70 deepfake videos using the search term "deepfake" on the site's homepage. Nearly all the videos -- which included graphic and fake depictions of celebrities like Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Daisy Ridley, and Jennifer Lawrence -- had the word "deepfake" prominently mentioned in the title of the video and many of the names of the videos' uploaders contained the word "deepfake." Similarly, a search for "fake deep" returned over 30 of the nonconsensual celebrity videos. Most of the videos surfaced by BuzzFeed News had view counts in the hundreds of thousands -- one video featuring the face of actor Emma Watson garnered over 1 million views. Some accounts posting deepfake videos appeared to have been active for as long as two months and have racked up over 3 million video views. "Content that is flagged on Pornhub that directly violates our Terms of Service is removed as soon as we are made aware of it; this includes non-consensual content," Pornhub said in a statement. "To further ensure the safety of all our fans, we officially took a hard stance against revenge porn, which we believe is a form of sexual assault, and introduced a submission form for the easy removal of non-consensual content." The company also provided a link where users can report any "material that is distributed without the consent of the individuals involved."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ScreenAnarchy: Indian Film Fest LA 2018 Review: IN THE SHADOWS, There Be Men And Monsters

Delhi's dark alleyways get their closeup in filmmaker Dipesh Jain's Gali Guliyaan (In the Shadows), a psychological thriller about paranoia, isolation, and the long lasting effects of trauma. Khuddoos (Manoj Bajpayee) is a loner, a man who lives vicariously through his neighbors and who sees the world through the dozens of security monitors he has set up in his sparse office. He's obsessed with watching, with the voyeurism that makes him both all-knowing and invisible at the same time. He speaks only when necessary, and one gets the impression he'd forget to eat if he weren't reminded. His only real connection is to his friend Ganeshi (Ranvir Shorey), who helps to makes sure Khuddoos is fed and taken care of and protects him from the...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

search.cpan.org: Test-BDD-Cucumber-Definitions-0.39

a collection of step definitions for Test Driven Development

search.cpan.org: HTTP-Tiny-UA-0.006

Higher-level UA features for HTTP::Tiny

search.cpan.org: Session-Storage-Secure-0.011

Encrypted, expiring, compressed, serialized session data with integrity

Slashdot: Google's AR Microscope Quickly Highlights Cancer Cells

An anonymous reader quotes a report from UploadVR: Google Research this week revealed an AR microscope (ARM) capable of detecting cancerous cells in real-time with the help of machine learning. Locating cancer with a standard microscope is a difficult and time-consuming process, with a raft of information for doctors to study and investigate. With this new solution, though, the microscope is able to quickly locate cancerous cells and then highlight them as a doctor peers inside. The platform uses a modified light microscope integrated with image analysis and machine learning algorithms into its field of view. An AR display sits above a camera that communicates with the algorithm to display data as soon as it locates an issue. In order words, the microscope immediately begins looking for cancerous cells as soon as you place a sample beneath it. It's effectively doing the same job as a doctor just, according to Google, a lot faster. Google posted a video about the AR microscope on YouTube.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Worsts

When the official numbers emerge in a week or so, the extent of social engineering will become obvious. Vancouver is pooched. Socialism doesn’t work. You cannot make things cheaper by taxing them more. Every politician in Canada should be watching, taking notes, and never forgetting. One of our great cities is in trouble, largely of its own making.

March was a mess. April will probably be worse. A silent spring on the left coast.

Consider the recent stats coming out of one of the most expensive and petulant housing markets in North America:

  • Detached house sales in the city are sitting at a 27-year low. Fewer than 140 homes changed hands last month, toppling 44% from a year ago.
  • As sales plunge, listings decline. Sellers are “confused”, the real estate board boss says. “They’re just holding on, taking a wait-and-see approach.”
  • Sales for the entire urban region are scarcely better, falling 37% from last year.
  • There haven’t been this few properties for sale since the end of the credit crisis. That has helped keep prices from collapsing along with sales. But this will change when owners understand the market’s about to get a lot worse.
  • Condo prices have shot high with the sales ratio sitting far about that of detached houses, thanks new mortgage rules. What was affordable no longer is. Meanwhile investment dollars have been driven away by the empty houses tax, the luxury property tax, the anti-Alberta speculation tax and the 20% anti-foreigner tax.
  • In the first 90 days of this year, a mere 350 houses sold in YVR, the lowest ever. Worse that during the darkest days of the financial crisis.

“It’s going to be a very dry year,” realtor Allan Angell told his clients the other day. “Our government continues to steal the equity from our houses.”

Angell has been compiling stats for more than 30 years, back to the mid-Eighties. What he’s just published is at shocking odds with the subdued story being told by the Great Vancouver Real Estate Board. “We saw less demand from buyers and fewer homes listed for sale in our region in the first quarter of the year,” the board admits. “High prices, new tax announcements, rising interest rates, and stricter mortgage requirements are among the factors affecting home buyer and seller activity today.”

But only by putting this in historic context can you see the damage now being wrought by the perfect storm of monetary policy, regulatory overkill and elected morons.

  • West Vancouver. Average sales for a March over 34 years have been 77. The worst-ever March saw 40 sales – until now. Last month just 26 occurred.
  • North Vancouver. Average sales over the last three decades for a March have been 141. The worst March on record had 79 deals. Last month there were only 70.
  • On the Westside the three-decade March average for sales is 182. The worst month ever had 94. This March the number was 58.
  • Greater Vancouver. The March average for the whole region is 1,415, with the worst recorded total being 1,036. But last month just 757 sold – a precipitous drop of 46.5%.
  • Finally, unsold inventory of detached luxury houses is mounting fast. For example, only 3% of the 117 properties worth more than $6 million have sold this year. So, 97% linger.

This is the start, not the end. The impact of Comrade Premier Horgan’s market-killing plan has been largely psychological so far, as the spec tax is just being legislated. Sentiment has turned negative against BC almost everywhere outside the province, since the notion of seriously taxing long-time property owners just because they have Alberta or Ontario license plates is anti-Canadian. Ripping off buyers coming in from other countries with a massive 20% surcharge looks xenophobic and tribal. It makes BC seem like a backwater economy. The river of money that jurisdictions like Florida and California welcome to help pay for local services, is slowing to a dry trickle in the Lower Mainland and on the Island. Meanwhile mortgage regs are pushing demand into condos, escalating the debt of newbie buyers.

Sales go first, prices later. The only brake on valuations now is the paucity of listings. When it becomes clear there are several years of NDP incompetence, rigid ideology and trial-and-error legislation ahead, sellers will be scrambling to get out. Mr. Angell will have many more ‘worsts’ to record.

Recent additions: genvalidity-vector 0.2.0.0

Added by Norfair, Sun Apr 22 19:54:44 UTC 2018.

GenValidity support for vector

Recent additions: genvalidity-uuid 0.1.0.0

Added by Norfair, Sun Apr 22 19:54:42 UTC 2018.

GenValidity support for UUID

Recent additions: genvalidity-unordered-containers 0.2.0.0

Added by Norfair, Sun Apr 22 19:54:40 UTC 2018.

GenValidity support for unordered-containers

ScreenAnarchy: Review: SWATHANTHRYAM ARDHARATHRIYIL Is A Stylish SHAWSHANK In South India

Whatever is in the water in Kerala these days, I've gotta get some for myself. India's newest hot spot for thrilling filmmakers is churning out new and exciting films all the time, and the latest thriller to hit cinema screens in Tinu Pappachan's Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil (Freedom at Midnight). Pappachan, making his first feature after working as an assistant on the films of Malayalam cinema's current critical champion Lijo Jose Pellissery, is a force to reckon with. The film feels like the work of a hungry contender looking to make his mark, and with a crackling script by Dileep Kurian to work from, it definitely succeeds in making an impression as an incredibly solid thriller punctuated with brilliant action and storytelling. Jacob (Antony Varghese) is on...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

Paper Bits: somethinglronic: bleh i paid 10 doll hairs for a company to run my raw data file for a health...

somethinglronic:

bleh i paid 10 doll hairs for a company to run my raw data file for a health analysis since I don’t have any family medical history

Slashdot: Dutch Study Finds Some Video Game Loot Boxes Broke the Law

The Netherlands Gaming Authority has published a study it conducted of 10 video games that reward players with loot boxes, packages players can sometimes buy with real money that contain random-in game rewards, and found that 4 of the 10 games it studied violated the Dutch Gaming Act. "It determined that loot boxes are, in general, addictive and that four of the games allowed players to trade items they'd won outside of the game, which means they've got a market value," reports Motherboard. From the report: According to the study, the authorities picked games "based on their popularity on a leading Internet platform that streams videos of games and players." Motherboard has reached out to the Gaming Authority for clarification on both the games it picked (the study doesn't name them) and the method by which it picked them, but did not receive an immediate reply. However, Twitch is the most popular way gamers watch others play and it's a good bet that Twitch is how the Gaming Authority focused its attention. Six of the ten games the Gaming Authority studied aren't in violation of Dutch law. "With these games, there is no opportunity to sell the prizes won outside of the game," the press release said. "This means that the goods have no market value and these loot boxes do not satisfy the definition of a prize in Section 1 of the Betting and Gaming Act." The four others though offer the opportunity for players to trade items outside of the game and therefore meet the the Netherlands definition of gambling. To come into compliance, those games need to make their loot boxes less interesting to open. The Gaming Authority wants the companies to "remove the addiction-sensitive elements ('almost winning' effects, visual effects, ability to keep opening loot boxes quickly one after the other and suchlike)...and to implement measures to exclude vulnerable groups or to demonstrate that the loot boxes on offer are harmless."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Instructables: exploring - featured: Wooden Planter - Easy Recycled Pallet Project for Your Garden

Welcome!Below you will find a step-by-step guide to making an “almost free” wooden planter from euro pallets. Almost free as you will need some paint and... well that’s about it! I hope you will find it useful.Any questions please get in touch! What Will You Need? Materials:2 pallets ( I used the...
By: _woodify_

Continue Reading »

Instructables: exploring - featured: Small Component Storage From Ariel 3 in 1 Wash Pods Box

I needed an efficient way to organise and store resistors so it was easy to find specific values. This Instructable describes my solution using an empty Ariel 3 in 1 Wash Pod box (30 pod size), 16 cotton bud stems, 6 slide binders, some balsa wood and 16 grip-lock bags. It is my entry in the 'Tras...
By: Wingletang

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MetaFilter: Jamón Ibérico Southern Style

An organic farm in Georgia received Spanish hogs a few years ago and they should be ready to release next year. Will it really be as good as the fabulous Spanish ham? We'll see. Content warning: hog butchery

MetaFilter: Holiday with spies: come for the windsurfin, stay for the refugee rescue

A Sudanese desert resort operated my Mossad was used as a cover to rescue Ethiopian Jews stranded in refugee camps in the 1980s. (SL BBC)

ScreenAnarchy: Review: BEYOND THE CLOUDS Finds Human Compassion In Times Of Antagony

Celebrated Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi makes his first foray outside of his homeland with Beyond the Clouds, a story of Indian siblings brought together by circumstance and separated by prison bars. While Majidi made his name expressing his truth through realism, here he succumbs to the rhythms of Mumbai filmmaking a bit too frequently, taking an already engaging story and wrapping it in layers of melodrama and an unusual sweetness that sabotages any kind of consistent tone he may have been aiming for. For a film as technically accomplished as this, it's a bit of a disappointment, but Beyond the Clouds has plenty going for it, it just feels like someone forgot to connect he dots. Amir (newcomer Ishaan Khatter in his first feature lead)...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

MetaFilter: More Americans work in museums than work in coal

You already know who. It's white people in general and white men in particular, and especially white Protestant men, some of whom are apparently dismayed to find out that there is going to be, as your mom might have put it, sharing. The history of this country has been written as their story, and the news sometimes still tells it this way—one of the battles of our time is about who the story is about, who matters and who decides.
Rebecca Solnit talks about the myth of the real America and whose stories are treated with respect and whose are not.

Paper Bits: heroofthreefaces: goddessofidiocy:the riveting inner monologue...











heroofthreefaces:

goddessofidiocy:

the riveting inner monologue of max rockatansky 

that’s it, that’s the film

Needed: a similar set of screen caps with Furiosa thinking, “What the fuck now?”


Also the film.

Daniel Lemire's blog: Science and Technology links (April 22nd, 2018)

  1. You probably can’t write the two forms of the letter g, even if you have seen them thousands and thousands of times.
  2. Some neurodegenerative diseases might result from a fungal infection. This would include diseases like Parkinson’s. The theory seems to be that many of us get infected with nasty things that remain dormant in most of us, but not in the weakest or unluckiest among us. That is, you may already be infected with whatever is going to kill you later. Scary.
  3. Mangan suggests that the sometimes reported health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption might have to do with its bactericidal effect?
  4. Researchers use machine learning to identify cells under a microscope without having to intervene on the cells themselves (e.g., with fluorescent labels). This might turn out to be a big deal as it could reduce the cost of research drastically.
  5. Google appears to be able to isolate voices when several people talk at the same time.
  6. Google launches Talk to Books. It is a tool where you can ask questions and get back answers from a large collection of books. It works well and reminds me of Vernor Vinge’s Rainbows End where some entrepreneurs wanted to digitalize books to build an artificial intelligence. Seems like we are well on schedule to realize the program set forth in the novel (set in 2025).
  7. Two eggs per day do not adversely affect the biomarkers associated with heart diseases, but increase satiety throughout the day in a young healthy population.
  8. Microsoft will distribute its own version of Linux. Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, repeatedly opposed the GPL, the license under which Linux is distributed. So it is definitively a post-Bill-Gates era at Microsoft. I have mixed feelings regarding the GPL myself, but I like the new directions that Microsoft is taking. It much easier to like Microsoft today, they seem much less confrontational.
  9. An extra robot per 1,000 workers reduces the employment to population ratio by 0.18-0.34 percentage points and wages by 0.25-0.5%. Should you worry? Maybe not:

    These are sizable effects. But it should also be noted that even under the most aggressive scenario, we are talking about a relatively small fraction of employment in the US economy being affected by robots. There is nothing here to support the view that new technologies will make most jobs disappear and humans largely redundant.

  10. Google published do-it-yourself artificial intelligence maker kits.
  11. Coffee consumption may reduce the total cancer incidence and it also has an inverse association with some type of cancers. (Credit: P. D. Mangan)
  12. When I was a teenager, I assumed that strong people and smart people were distinct groups. Not so it seems. Grip strength is associated with cognitive performance, according to a study over half a million participants. It is unclear which way the causality goes. Fit people are likely to be both smart and strong. I don’t know how you can get smarter directly, but I know how you can get stronger (lift weights and such), could it be that getting stronger makes you smarter? For older people, this might very well be true.
  13. Patients with major depression exhibited higher epigenetic aging in blood and brain tissue, suggesting that they are biologically older than their corresponding chronological age.
  14. Lenovo sells a high-quality virtual reality headset for $200.
  15. According to Ceci and Williams, current policies to increase female representation in science are misguided:

    Explanations for women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields of science often focus on sex discrimination in grant and manuscript reviewing, interviewing, and hiring. Claims that women scientists suffer discrimination in these arenas rest on a set of studies undergirding policies and programs aimed at remediation. More recent and robust empiricism, however, fails to support assertions of discrimination in these domains. To better understand women’s underrepresentation in math-intensive fields and its causes, we reprise claims of discrimination and their evidentiary bases. Based on a review of the past 20 years of data, we suggest that some of these claims are no longer valid and, if uncritically accepted as current causes of women’s lack of progress, can delay or prevent understanding of contemporary determinants of women’s underrepresentation. We conclude that differential gendered outcomes in the real world result from differences in resources attributable to choices, whether free or constrained, and that such choices could be influenced and better informed through education if resources were so directed. Thus, the ongoing focus on sex discrimination in reviewing, interviewing, and hiring represents costly, misplaced effort: Society is engaged in the present in solving problems of the past, rather than in addressing meaningful limitations deterring women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers today.

    In fact, it seems that there are strong biases favoring women as it is:

    Comparisons of oral non–gender-blind tests with written gender-blind tests for about 100,000 individuals observed in 11 different fields over the period 2006–2013 reveal a bias in favor of women that is strongly increasing with the extent of a field’s male-domination. This bias turns (…) to about 10 percentile ranks for women in math, physics, or philosophy.

    If I had to guess, I would think that I have a bias favorable to women when it comes to recruiting. So the question is: why so few women?

    A colleague of mine works on female equity issues. She gave me a tip on how to recruit women: stress that there are already other women around. Women will be hesitant to join a lab that is made exclusively of men. Sadly, that’s kind of a vicious circle.

  16. Cloning horses appears to be a profitable business.
  17. According to the New York Times, robots can assemble Ikea furniture semi-autonomously. It is not clear that the robots actually start from Ikea’s instructions. And they clearly start from already layed out parts. (Credit: Peter Turney)
  18. Gary Bernhardt writes:

    Reminder to people whose “big data” is under a terabyte: servers with 1 TB RAM can be had about $20k. Your data set fits in RAM.

    Gary is correct. In 2011, I wrote:

    Many information systems have storage costs which are proportional to the number of individuals. I call them sapien-bound systems. (…) Soon, all sapien-bound systems will fit in RAM cheaply.

    To describe my own research, I prefer to use the term “data engineering” rather than “big data”. However, processing data quickly and efficiently is not a solved problem. Having a terabyte of RAM does not make your computing problems go away and, in some sense, it outlines them.

  19. Our atmosphere is filled with trillions of viruses according to the New York Times:

    Generally it’s assumed these viruses originate on the planet and are swept upward, but some researchers theorize that viruses actually may originate in the atmosphere. Whatever the case, viruses are the most abundant entities on the planet by far. While Dr. Suttle’s team found hundreds of millions of viruses in a square meter, they counted tens of millions of bacteria in the same space.

    (Source: P.D. Mangan)

  20. Human beings transformed the planet in deeper ways that is often assumed:

    Our assumption that modern ecosystems are “normal” is flawed,” says Theodor. “They’re not necessarily functioning in the way that they did even 11,000 years ago.

  21. Machine-learning and artificial intelligence are popular today, and people tend to want to use them everywhere. Top researchers in these fields are paid millions of dollars.

    It is possible that current machine-learning techniques are being overrated. Makridakis et al. found that, on prediction tasks, the accuracy of machine-learning models (“artificial intelligence”) is below that of simple old-school statistical models. The motivation of their work is interesting:

    The motivation for writing this paper was an article published in Neural Networks in June 2017. The aim of the article was to improve the forecasting accuracy of stock price fluctuations and claimed that “the empirical results show that the proposed model indeed display a good performance in forecasting stock market fluctuations”. In our view, the results seemed extremely accurate for stock market series that are essentially close to random walks so we wanted to replicate the results of the article and emailed the corresponding author asking for information to be able to do so. We got no answer and we, therefore, emailed the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal asking for his help. He suggested contacting the other author to get the required information. We consequently, emailed this author but we never got a reply. Not being able to replicate the result and not finding research studies comparing ML methods with alternative ones we decided to start the research leading to this paper.

    A major fault in contemporary research is that people fail to honestly and fairly compare their “fancy” work with simpler alternatives as if simplicity was a fault. It is not! You always want to use the simplest thing that works.

  22. Jordan has a worthy essay entitled Artificial Intelligence — The Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet. He points out that what we have is good statistical algorithms, but that it remains to build a new kind of engineering which we might call “artificial intelligence engineering”.

    I’m also a computer scientist, and it occurred to me that the principles needed to build planetary-scale inference-and-decision-making systems of this kind, blending computer science with statistics, and taking into account human utilities, were nowhere to be found in my education. And it occurred to me that the development of such principles — which will be needed not only in the medical domain but also in domains such as commerce, transportation and education — were at least as important as those of building AI systems that can dazzle us with their game-playing or sensorimotor skills.

  23. A technical called “repetition lag training” can significantly improve a particular type of memory task:

    Repetition lag training improved objective measures of recollection, eliminated the age-related recollection decrement, and these improvements maintained over three months.

    That is, elderly people who train become as good as young people at recollection tests. The results appear robust even with people who suffer from mild cognitive impairment. However, participants fail to report an improvement in their daily life. That is, you can train for a memory task and improve to a youthful level even if you are very old, but you only improve what you train. I think that this is viewed in a pessimistic light, but I think it suggests that “training” becomes increasingly important when you get older, or if you suffer from cognitive limitations.

  24. Prescription drugs rapamycin and metformin regenerate hair.
  25. Matt Ridley points out that we have not extended the maximal lifespan of human beings, and I call him up on his pessimism, using Twitter. He wrote a book entitled The Rational Optimist.

MetaFilter: Too many men

Men outnumber women by 70 million in China and India. The consequences of having too many men, now coming of age, are far-reaching: Beyond an epidemic of loneliness, the imbalance distorts labor markets, drives up savings rates in China and drives down consumption, artificially inflates certain property values, and parallels increases in violent crime, trafficking or prostitution in a growing number of locations.

On the other side of the demographic equation is a smaller, equally new group that has received rather less attention: women like June, whose parents chose to allow a daughter into the world at a time when others wanted a son. These girls were lucky in many ways, and given opportunities that would once have been reserved for their brothers. They were pushed to study, succeed and achieve as only boys had done before them.

Paper Bits: wolfliving:*Automata Farm













wolfliving:

*Automata Farm

Paper Bits: wolfliving:*Automata Farm Design fiction for real futures.













wolfliving:

*Automata Farm

Design fiction for real futures.

ScreenAnarchy: Crowdfund This: Estonian Horror Comes Alive in BAD HAIR

There aren't many genre films being made in Estonia, but director Oskar Lehemaa is trying to turn to tide. Lehemaa and his producers have initiated an crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for a new body horror short film called Bad Hair. This project boasts a great concept, lots of practical makeup effects and a credentialed team that includes actor Sten Karpov. Be sure to watch the campaign video, which provides a good overview of the short's cast, crew and concept. The synopsis is provided below. Bad Hair is an intense body transformation horror short film, entirely without dialogue, set in one apartment, happening during one evening, slowly destroying one character. The film talks about male body image through our balding main character, but does...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

Explosm.net: Comic for 2018.04.22

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Instructables: exploring - featured: Science About perfect Mirror Glaze Cake Instructables Colors Mouse Cake

amazing mirror glaze cake with all techniques AND secretthis récipe make one cake 17x17 cmlet's start yo make best ever Mousse cake Let's Start the Show firstyou have to do your coulis in this case i make Raspberry coulis ( ITS like a jelly)you needFrozen or fresh fruit 250gramsgelatine 2 Tsp w...
By: alessandraanguiano

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Instructables: exploring - featured: Silicone Devices

Silicone Devices deliver the early advantages of soft and stretchable electronics through a Maker-friendly approach. By following this Instructable, you will learn the basic skills necessary to create your own fully integrated soft electronic circuits. Think about Baymax! He's an excellent future vi...
By: Noagels

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Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Mint

DOUG By Guest Blogger Doug Rowat

For sports-collectible enthusiasts like me this is a big week.

While there are many iconic sports cards, the two most important are the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner and the 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. Both transcend the sport of baseball and have achieved an elevated status in the sports-collectibles market not unlike that of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the art world.

The Honus Wagner card is incredibly rare and virtually never comes up for sale (this card became even more famous after Wayne Gretzky owned one for a time back in the 1990s along with now disgraced former LA Kings owner Bruce McNall). The Topps Mantle card does come up for auction occasionally, but very, very rarely in mint condition. This week, though, one did. It is one of only six in the world in such immaculate shape. You can learn more about the card here.

At the time of this writing, it wasn’t known what the card actually sold for, but pre-auction estimates had it valued at US$3.5 million. Sports cards are an undeniably real, and often lucrative, alternative investment. Ken Kendrick, managing general partner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has one of the most famous card collections in the world. He owns Gretzky’s former Honus Wagner card and also one of the finest examples of the Topps Mantle card. These two cards combined are estimated to be worth more than US$20 million. Based on relative size and weight, they may actually be the most valuable investments in the world. What would compare? Gold? Nope. Diamonds? Probably not. In fact, on a per-gram basis, it might take the actual Mona Lisa to rival the value of these two tiny pieces of cardboard (if you’ve ever seen the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, it’s actually quite small).

The Holy Grails

  

Source: Wikipedia, Heritage Auctions

In fact, sports cards have become so investible that earlier this year the first trading card index was constructed by PWCC, the biggest seller of investment grade trading cards. The PWCC Top 100 Card Index tracks the 100 most valuable and liquid trading cards on the market. The Index includes cards of baseball players such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle as well as cards of legendary players from other sports including Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky. PWCC makes every effort to make their data transparent, but even a casual check of recent auction results indicates that the below performance rings true.

PWCC Top 100 Card Index vs S&P 500 (% change)

Source: PWCC

Now, I don’t present all of this information to plug my favourite hobby, but rather to highlight the value of alternative investments. As I’ve written before on this blog, traditional portfolio managers are often dismissive of investors who pursue such interests. Not so with me. There’s nothing wrong with having a small allocation (perhaps 2–3%) of your overall portfolio held in something non-traditional.

Perhaps you collect wine, scotch, antiques, vintage cars or motorcycles, artwork, coins or stamps, vinyl records, classic movie posters, sports memorabilia or Star Wars collectibles (check out the Netflix show The Toys that Made Us—a rare Boba Fett action figure can put your kids through university). What’s important is 1) it’s enjoyable and remains so, and 2) you constantly educate yourself and purchase carefully, thus increasing the odds that your collection actually appreciates.

You also need to be fully aware of the risks of your investment. For instance, I know that sports card companies can easily disrupt the market by producing too much product. This is what happened in the mid-1990s when the sports card market was on life support due to oversupply. I’m also fully aware that fraud and counterfeiting are ongoing problems. But this is true of most other investments as well, including art and wine. Witness the collapse of the legendary New York art gallery Knoedler in 2011 or the uncovering of prolific wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan in 2012.

The Next One?

Source: eBay

So, what do I personally collect? Connor McDavid rookie cards similar to the one above. He’s clearly lived up to the hype. We’ll see if my investment appreciates in 10 years, but it’ll be a lot more fun than investing in, say, a bond ETF. Don’t misinterpret: bond ETFs are crucial long-term investments, but they certainly don’t get the pulse racing.

Collecting hockey cards connects me to a sport that I love and no bond in the world is going to able to compete with this:

Doug Rowat, FCSI® is Portfolio Manager with Turner Investments and Senior Vice President, Private Client Group, Raymond James Ltd.

 

ScreenAnarchy: BUFFALO BOYS: Full Trailer For The Indonesian Western Delivers Epic Scale Action

It was just last month that we shared the first teaser for Mike Wiluan's upcoming Indonesian western Buffalo Boys and that has now been followed by a full theatrical trailer to serve up far more of the film's storyline and showcase some impressive action. A producer on Beyond Skyline, Dead Mine, Headshot and Macabre, Wiluan steps in to the director's chair for the first time himself here with a story set during the Dutch occupation and the return of a pair of brothers - the son's of a slain sultan - returned from a life in exile to avenge their family. It's a big story that demands a broad canvas and things are looking awfully fun in this new trailer. Take a look below!...

[Read the whole post on screenanarchy.com...]

Instructables: exploring - featured: Ultimate Steampunk Pirate Treasure Map

Ahoy Mateys,You've always wanted to be a pirate? You do if you have celebrated Talk-like-a-pirate-day for the last several years, you took a parrot as a pet as soon as your first salary after college arrived or whatever bad reason you can come up with. Somewhere deep inside everybody wants to be a p...
By: ruudcreates

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CreativeApplications.Net: Deep Learning: CAN to co-host Mapping LAB at Mapping Festival 2018

Deep Learning: CAN to co-host Mapping LAB at Mapping Festival 2018
At the upcoming (14th!) edition of Geneva’s Mapping Festival (May 9 – 12), CAN is proud to co-host Mapping LAB – a one-day educational program of 13 workshops run by leading artists, designers, and researchers in our field. Join us!

Explosm.net: Comic for 2018.04.21

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

MattCha's Blog: Online Puerh Shopping and The Deal That Got Away


I think this must have happened to a number of my readers by now but it’s the first time it’s happened to me with online puerh shopping...

Spot a real deal… probably at least ½ the going market price on this cake.  I figure it’s, at least, tastes twice as good as the asking price.

Line up your next puerh purchase (however you do that).  For me it included a few other purchases on for the ride.

Then just as you plan on sealing the deal and putting everything so nicely in the cart you go to the site and … Boom! It happens…

Sold Out.

At first I was kind of angered.  Felt like swearing out loud… like when I stub my toe.

Then I kind of pouted for a bit.  “Fine then, I will just scrap my order then”.

Then I come to the realization that, sure, I will never get a chance to get this tea that crazy cheap again but other puerh retailers have it (differently stored).  I will have to pay fair price for such things but hey maybe the storage will be twice as good as the sold out?  I start to justify even though I know I would have probably preferred the sold out storage much more.

Then I start thinking… I am supposed to be going after some higher quality stuff not this cheap factory puerh.  This was what I told all of you.  Perhaps this is all for good after all…

But man that was a great deal… and I can’t resist such things…

Over the last year I feel I have been very fortunate at snapping up great deals on some factory cakes that, with the rising price of puerh, will not ever be had at this quality at such low prices ever again.  I have had my old puerh eyes on a lot of different sites to nab up these forgotten bargains but this was the last one I spotted and it is now gone.  So now, my bargainbasement, clear out puerh strategy is no more.

It ended with this last one that got away… for better or for worse…

Then with my confidence up I decide to spend the purchase on one really nice cake, which I have been eyeing for a while.  I was hoping to purchase one in a few months’ time, for a special occasion.  Now, with the bargain basement order failing to go through I have freed up enough to finally justify this big purchase.

So, happy in my decision to go all in with one cake, I go to the site to drop one of these gorgeous cakes into the cart.  Once again I was meet with a big “Sold Out”.

Hahahaha…. Just my luck.

Peace

Penny Arcade: News Post: The Net Serpent

Tycho: People often talk about the “dadification” of games, which I suspect is at least partially a function of a workforce that is aging and a medium that is aging with it.  I mean aging in the sense of a casked liquor.  I don’t mean aging in demonstrable progression of decrepitude sense, but know this: the grave awaits us all.  Purely in terms of time spent there, it’s not even a contest; the tomb is the truest home of man. Along with this dadification comes various representations of young people, which is a very tough business.  It’s not…

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: The law

Four years ago I offered on a quirky building, saw that offer accepted, then had second (spouse-related) thoughts. “What,” she asked, eyes narrowing, nostrils flaring slightly, “were you possibly thinking?”

I slunk away to close the deal, since backing out was not an option. Reputation matters. The day of closing arrived and my money was sitting in the lawyer’s trust account when the call came. “The other side just contacted our office and indicated they will not have the necessary documentation in place to close today,” Peter said. “They’ve asked for an extension.” Good, I replied. Don’t grant it. We ain’t closing.

Legally, they’d dropped the ball. On the day the owners were obligated to hand over the property and the deed, they did not. I walked. Peter asked for my deposit back. They refused. The other side wouldn’t sign a mutual release, and without that, the listing broker (holding the funds, earmarked to cover the commission) told us to get lost.

It took weeks, money and a litigator to secure the refund. The owners then went on to sue their own lawyer for being such a stumblebum he couldn’t close a simple deal on time, and their new lawyer called me to volunteer as a witness. I laughed.

Buying real estate is not always easy, quick or efficient. Most realtors, who prepare a legally-binding contract called an APS (agreement of purchase & sale) have no legal training and may simply download clauses from the provincial real estate association website. What’s in that doc can be hugely important in the event of any dispute. So, kids, never ever ever ever make an offer (or accept one) without having your legal dude look at it first. Also include a clause giving you the right to secure your guy’s approval on any sign-back.

Be aware, too, of how deposits are handled. In almost all cases where a property is listed on MLS the deposit goes directly to the brokerage employing the listing agent, held in its trust account. The money is not given to the seller, or even the seller’s lawyer – unless specially designated. As shown in my little experience above, without a release signed by both parties in the event the agreement goes south, no funds will be released. So a buyer can walk away from a deal and the seller’s left with nothing but legal bills.

These days that’s happening a lot. People who entered into legally-binding contractual arrangements to buy real estate are turning tail. Yesterday’s post mentioned a few examples, like the new-home buyers in Oakville who want out of deals for $1.5 million houses they bought on spec to be built two years hence. They figured prices would continue to rise, but the opposite happened. The new homes have declined in market value (even before being finished) while their resale homes have also plopped. Now as closing day approaches, they’re moaning, whining, barraging the media, blogging, begging the builder and even telling the government to intervene.

Of course, there’s blog dog Derek. His buyer walked after over-paying in a bidding war, got sued when the house was resold for half a million less, and lost. It was a disastrous strategy, all flowing from the naïve belief he could sign a contract, repudiate it and lose only a deposit. Sadly most people cling to the same myth.

Yesterday half those coming to this pathetic blog to comment called Derek a greedy little weiner for going after the buyer and ultimately costing him hundreds of thousands in damages. This seemed to flow from the underlying sentiment that D ‘had enough’ already, still made a profit on his home and should cut the broken buyer some slack. Others defended our blog dog as a hero of righteousness punishing the stupidity and recklessness of a buyer who bid more than he could afford then tried to weasel out of a deal with zero legal justification.

At odds here are the concepts of legality vs morality. Derek was legally correct. The courts said so. Damages were determined and awarded. A deal’s a deal. Honour it or suffer. But was there a moral case for leniency, letting off the hook a guy who epitomized the behaviour that made real estate unaffordable for most families? Do you turn the other cheek? Weren’t both parties acting in their own self-interest?

Morality is fluid, so we need laws. When a beater house costs a million, involves extreme leverage and takes decades to pay off, the legal system exists to protect both buyer and seller. So if you can’t afford a property, don’t offer. If a bidding war erupts, go home. If you panic later, negotiate, or pray the seller’s lawyer is a doofus.

Planet Haskell: Mark Jason Dominus: Shitpost roundup, 2018-03

Here is a list of March's shitposts. I don't recall what my excuse was for there being only 22, but in my defense, I will add that they were almost all terrible. There was one decent math post I maybe should have promoted.

(And also Nancy and Squid, which was awesome, and also 100% Grade A shitpost. I thought when I posted it a crowd of people would burst into the room and carry me off on their shoulders. Instead, nobody seems to have noticed.)

April will be better; I'm on pace to break the previous volume record, and I've also been doing a good job of promoting better posts to the major leagues.

TheSirensSound: Calm Before the Dawn EP by brokencompass

New EP Calm Before the Dawn by Brokencompass.

"We are two brothers from Memphis, TN, who have been playing music together for over ten years. John Hash plays the guitar, bass, and handles all engineering duties. Dave Hash plays the drums, aux percussion, and keys. We recently decided to start making DIY records together and officially released "Calm Before the Dawn" on March 15th of this year. We are super happy with the responses we have received so far, and we look forward to learning from this experience and making our second project even better!

We started writing the early pieces of "Calm Before the Dawn" back in 2014, and after many setbacks and curveballs thrown at us by life, we were finally able to complete the tracking process in 2017.  John Hash plays guitar and bass, while Dave Hash plays the drums and keys on the record.  John recorded all tracks in a Memphis, TN garage, and mixed and mastered the project in 2018 on his home setup.  DIY ethics are a huge part of what brokencompass does and we are proud of what we've done so far and are eager to see how far we can take things."

FFO: Russian Circles, Explosions in the Sky, And So I Watch You From Afar, Scale the Summit, Dinosaur Jr, Cloudkicker, Sonic Youth, etc.



Tea Masters: The process of Wenshan Baozhong tea

Wenshan Baozhong (aka pouchong) is a kind of Oolong that is made in the Wenshan area in northern Taiwan. The very first plantation was in the mountains of Nangang, east of Taipei in the late 19th century. But as the city grew, the tea fields have been pushed farther away to Shiding and Pinglin.
What few people don't know is that Baozhong isn't the name of a cultivar, but a way of wrapping the tea in a piece of paper. Baozhong can be made with most tea cultivars that are suitable for Oolong. That's because Wenshan Baozhong is a partially oxidized tea and therefore belongs to the Oolong tea category.
The production process starts with the harvest of the leaves. Here, we see a machine harvest, because it's more and more difficult to find pickers for this tea.
The leaves are packed in big bags made of white fabric and are brought to the tea factory for processing.
The withering of the leaves can happen outside, usually in the shade, or in such an indoors installation equipped with fans and gas heaters. The advantage of this indoor solution is that it can be used even when it rains, which can be quite useful in northern Taiwan, where short (or long) showers happen frequently.
The leaves are then placed on these bamboo mats on these racks and rest for the night. There's little tossing in this Baozhong process (which is why its oxidation is rather light).
The next day, the leaves are  weighed so that each batch would have the same weight.
These 2 machines are going to be used first. A tumbling oven on the right and then a rolling and  pressing machine.
Notice the broom on the right. The floor is carefully cleaned before the work starts.
The tumbling oven is heated below 300 degrees Celcius and the leaves are tossed inside when it's very hot.
This high temperature kill green process lasts between 6 and 7 minutes approximately. The maker feels the leaves to know when they are ready.
The oven is pivoted downwards and empties the hot leaves on a flexible bamboo mat.
The leaves are then quickly placed on this machine that rolls and bruises the leaves in order to release their juice.
This process also lasts several minutes.
The leaves become very wet and compact as a result.
They are loosened up by hand
until they are evenly distributed on a mat. Then, the rack is left to rest while the other leaves are similarly processed.
These are the next 2 machines that will be used. A drying machine on the left and a roaster on the right.
After all the leaves have been heated and rolled/bruised, they now need to be dried. It starts with this machine where you place the leaves on top.
My job here was to distribute the leaves evenly on the rolling carpet. A revolving steel fork makes sure that the stacks of leaves are not too thick.
After a couple of minutes, the leaves come out and a rolled by hand in a white cloth.
This drying process is repeated two more times, but now the leaves land on a bamboo mat directly (instead of the white cloth).
The leaves are evenly distributed on the mat and placed back on the racks.
When all the leaves have been processed comes the drying in the roaster.
I transfer the leaves from the bamboo mat to the metallic roasting plate. The thickness on each plate must be the same so that the leaves dry in an even fashion.
The temperature was set slightly above 70 degrees Celcius and the time at 3 hours. This temperature won't roast the leaves, but simply dry them thoroughly. There's just one more step that needs to be done: taking away the stems on the leaves by hand. This step is usually made by different workers and for this maker it rarely happens on the same day as the process. That's why it can last several days to get a finished Baozhong tea.
While these leaves are drying, a new batch of freshly harvested leaves have arrived and the whole process starts anew for the tea maker! I didn't want to wait for the leaves to dry and went to drink this subtropical forest Baozhong from spring 2017! I'll show you how my brewing went next time... This picture shows the typical shape of twisted leaves of Wenshan Baozhong
Subtropical forest 2 Wenshan Baozhong from Spring 2017

Open Culture: Immaculately Restored Film Lets You Revisit Life in New York City in 1911

Other than one or two of the world's supercentenarians, nobody remembers New York in 1911. Plenty of living historians and enthusiasts of the city have paid intensive attention to that booming time period when the city's population fast approached five million, but none experienced it first-hand. They, and we, can get no closer to it than watching the footage above, originally shot by a Swedish documentary team which set out to capture the most celebrated places in the world at the time, a list also including Niagara Falls, Paris, Monte Carlo, and Venice. The practically immaculate condition of the film highlights both the similarities and differences between the street life of New York over a century ago and of New York today.

Take a look at the tailored or tailored-looking clothing on nearly everyone, even the one-legged man making his deliberate way past the Chinese grocery. Then as now, most New Yorkers got around on foot, and since the city's first subway line had opened just seven years before, the dominant public transit options remained streetcars and elevated trains.

In the realm of private vehicles, horse-drawn carriages had only just begun to give way to motorcars. (Since 1911 was still the age of silent film, the ambient sound of all this was added later.) "Take note of the surprising and remarkably timeless expression of boredom exhibited by a young girl filmed as she was chauffeured along Broadway in the front seat of a convertible limousine," says the Museum of Modern Art's notes.

MoMA, which exhibited the footage last year, also points out familiar landmarks: "Opening and closing with shots of the Statue of Liberty, the film also includes New York Harbor; Battery Park and the John Ericsson statue; the elevated railways at Bowery and Worth Streets; Broadway sights like Grace Church and Mark Cross; the Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue; and Madison Avenue." Any modern New Yorker halfway interested in the city will know all those places, and even if the city has changed in countless other ways, they'll sense the very same characteristic vitality in these clips that they feel there today. Will New Yorkers of the future have the same reaction, to, say, the Japanese high-definition video demo footage shot on those very same streets in the 1990s? It'll take about eighty years to find out. We probably won't be here by then, but New York certainly will.

via Kottke

Related Content:

1905 Video Shows New York City Subway Traveling From 14th St. to 42nd Street

See New York City in the 1930s and Now: A Side-by-Side Comparison of the Same Streets & Landmarks

The Oldest Known Footage of London (1890-1920) Shows the City’s Great Landmarks

Time Travel Back to Tokyo After World War II, and See the City in Remarkably High-Quality 1940s Video

Berlin Street Scenes Beautifully Caught on Film (1900-1914)

New York City: A Social History (A Free Online Course from N.Y.U.)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Immaculately Restored Film Lets You Revisit Life in New York City in 1911 is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Open Culture: Download an Archive of 16,000 Sound Effects from the BBC: A Fascinating History of the 20th Century in Sound

I was crate digging at my local used vinyl emporium a little while ago and came across some sound effects records from the early ‘60s. Nothing amazing, until I checked the track list and noticed “Sounds of Football Match -- ‘Block that Kick!’”

If you’re a Beatles fan like me, you’ll know what I suspected and then found to be true: I was holding the source of not just one, but several of the sound effects used in “Revolution 9” as well as the bird effects heard on "Across the Universe" and “Blackbird.” Apparently this must have been a popular disc at Abbey Road.

Now I mention this as a preamble to this amazing website by the BBC, in which they’ve opened their archive of 16,000 (technically 16,016) sound effects, many of which have surely been used over and over on various radio plays. (For the Americans out there, yes, BBC Radio still produces radio plays!)

The sounds, each of which you can download, are being released under a non-commercial use license as part of their RemArc program, which is “designed to help trigger memories in people with dementia using BBC Archive material as stimulation.”

The archives run from the nightmarish “South American parrot talking and screeching” which I actually never want to hear again:

to “Zeppelin bomb-drop mechanism. (Comedy Spot Effect),” which doesn’t *sound* funny, but who knows how it was used:

There’s also sounds of the 1966 F.A. Cup Final between Everton and Sheffield Wednesday:

Plenty of these sound effects were relevant at the time. However, a lot of them are now remnants of a time long past, from sounds of offices--noisy then, dead silent now--to high streets (much less music). How many kids would recognize a dial tone or a busy signal, let alone the majestic alien weirdness of a Creed Machine operating:

Back to my opening musing. I would suspect those sound effects also found their way into any number of television shows.

Could we assume, then, that Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam raided these archives for his animations? Or David Attenborough’s crew for any number of nature documentaries? Sound detectives, start digging. Enter the BBC Sound Effects Archive here.

Related Content:

BBC Launches World Music Archive

Watch 50 Hours of Nature Soundscapes from the BBC: Scientifically Proven to Ease Stress and Promote Happiness & Awe

David Bowie Becomes a DJ on BBC Radio in 1979; Introduces Listeners to The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Blondie & More

Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Download an Archive of 16,000 Sound Effects from the BBC: A Fascinating History of the 20th Century in Sound is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Colossal: Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Flower Obsession’ Invites Guests to Cover a Domestic Interior With Faux Blossoms

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017 Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Famed Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (previously) is known for her color explosions, light matrices, and proclivity towards covering many of her works in a dazzling layer of dots. In one of her most interactive installations, the artist hands her interest in dot making over to the visitor. The Obliteration Room invites guests to “obliterate” a domestic interior by placing colorful stickers onto the walls, furniture, and floors.

For her recent commission for the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria Triennial, the artist transformed this concept to include a flower motif. For Flower Obsession (2017) guests were given artificial gerbera daisies and flower stickers to place on any surface of their choosing, completely covering the faux-apartment by the end of the triennial’s four-month run. This floral theme taps into the beginning of the artist’s art-making, referencing a memory from her early childhood.

“One day, after gazing at a pattern of red flowers on the tablecloth, I looked up to see that the ceiling, the windows, and the columns seemed to be plastered with the same red floral pattern,” Kusama explains in a press release for the triennial. “I saw the entire room, my entire body, and the entire universe covered with red flowers, and in that instant my soul was obliterated … This was not an illusion but reality itself.”

The NGV Triennial closed late last week. You can view more documentation from the inaugural exhibition, including this massive installation of hyperrealistic human skulls by Ron Mueck, on the National Gallery of Victoria’s website.

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Crowds enjoy Yayoi Kusama’s Flower obsession 2017 on display at NGV Triennial 2017. Photo: Sam Wong

Crowds enjoy Yayoi Kusama’s Flower obsession 2017 on display at NGV Triennial 2017. Photo: Sam Wong

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

Exhibition image of Yayoi Kusama’s Flower Obsession 2017 on display in NGV Triennial at NGV International 2017. Photo: Eugene Hyland

 

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): The hidden power of food: Finding value in what we eat (Encore November 23, 2017)

In Canada we waste about a third of the food we produce. And yet four million Canadians experience food insecurity. In partnership with the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph, we hear from Dawn Morrison whose work focuses on Indigenous food sovereignty and Bryan Gilvesy, a long-horn cattle rancher who puts sustainability first. Part 2 of a 2-part series.

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Roaming Imagination: What the stories we tell about bears say about us (Encore November 22, 2017)

Bears hold a powerful place in the human psyche. From early cave drawings and myths as old as language itself, to modern scientific research, the family Ursidae has captivated the imaginations of humans around the world. At the heart of our obsession are contradictions: a magnetism that draws us in and fear that pushes us away. Contributing producer Molly Segal explores the stories we share about bears, what they say about us and our future.

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Playdoh's Republic: Children as natural philosophers (Encore December 19,2017)

Why were we born? Is life just a dream? What makes something wrong or right? Children often ask questions like these — sometimes to the exasperation of their parents. But children really want to know why the world is the way it is. And they want to know how we know. Maybe that's because they're open, curious and inquisitive — they're natural philosophers.

Penny Arcade: Comic: The Net Serpent

New Comic: The Net Serpent

Open Culture: Kind of Blue: How Miles Davis Changed Jazz

Why is it, as Brian Gilmore writes at JazzTimes, that “even people who hardly listen to jazz adore this album”? Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue hardly needs an introduction. Many thousands of words have been written about its legendary composition and recording, about the extraordinary ensemble responsible for its existence—Davis, John Coltrane, “Cannonball” Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, and a young Bill Evans—and about the year of its release, 1959, a watershed moment in the history of jazz, and of nearly all modern music.

“It’s no longer necessary to remind music lovers that Kind of Blue is essential listening,” argues The Guardian’s John Fordham, “and that everybody who wants to make sense of the music of our time ought to have at least some idea of what’s good about it.” Should your education in Kind of Blue be lacking, you can get caught up on the basics in the Polyphonic video just above, which quickly gets to the heart of Davis’ musical innovation: making the definitive break with bebop and setting the standard for modal jazz, and thus the explosion of free jazz innovations to come.

Where most forms of jazz had built increasingly complex chord changes over which soloists improvised, Davis shifted to using modes (the seven modes of modern music) as the basis for song structure. Without needing to get overly technical with music theory, you can understand immediately upon listening to the album that modal composition allowed Davis and his band to slow down, simplify, and create subtle, complex shifts in mood that can be at once lilting, cool, and kind of… blue. Davis had experimented with blues-based modal forms before. Here, he integrates that knowledge with classical ideas and improvisatory brilliance.

“As is now part of jazz folklore,” notes Fordham, “the New York sessions that produced this remarkable album were completed in a handful of takes over just a few hours, with a minimum of compositional materials.” From there, a revolution. It is "The most exquisitely refined of ambient music," writes Richard Williams in his definitive monograph The Blue Moment, and the one record many music fans would rescue "from a burning house." It may be the best-selling jazz album of all time. Steely Dan's Donald Fagen called it "the Bible." Quincy Jones called his "orange juice," because he listens to it every day

"No one could disagree with Williams when he connects this with the developments of John Coltrane," writes Sholto Byrnes, from his "shocking demolition of the dainty brickwork of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'My Favorite Things,'" to his masterpiece A Love Supreme. Its influence, according to Williams, runs through the work of Ornette Coleman Steve Reich, John Cale, the Velvet Underground, James Brown, Sly Stone, Soft Machine, Brian Eno, Moby, and so on and so on. If you've never quite understood what makes Kind of Blue so great, get a crash course in the video explainer above. Then sit down and listen to it a few hundred times.

Related Content:

Hear a 65-Hour, Chronological Playlist of Miles Davis’ Revolutionary Jazz Albums

Miles Davis Dishes Dirt on His Fellow Jazz Musicians: “The Trombone Player Should be Shot”; That Ornette is “F-ing Up the Trumpet”

John Coltrane’s Handwritten Outline for His Masterpiece A Love Supreme (1964)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Kind of Blue: How Miles Davis Changed Jazz is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Open Culture: Watch Choirs Around the World Simulate the Rainstorm in Toto’s “Africa” Using Only Their Hands

The Los Angeles-based choir, Angel City Chorale, above, captured the Internet’s imagination in a big way with their 2013 cover of Toto’s 1982 hit, "Africa," in which the group’s 160 performers created a realistic-sounding thunderstorm using only their hands.

Delightful! And more common than you may at first think.

The Chorale acknowledges that they owe a great debt to Slovenian vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile’s thunderous 2008 rendition. Stagehands accustomed to creating credible thunderclaps by waving wiggly sheets of aluminum backstage may want to switch to hundreds of feet hopping up and down in unison, as heard at the 1-minute mark, below.

Go a bit further back to find an actual African choir’s finger-snapping, thigh-smacking "Africa."

The Kearsney College Choir is based near Durban, South Africa, and they appear to have been the first to open this number with the now-famous rainstorm effect. Its members are school boys ranging in age from 13 to 18. The video below shows them performing the tune in the 2008 World Choir Games, an annual competition that will be taking place on their home turf this year.

Interestingly, there’s not that much rain in the original. Over the years Toto’s songwriters, David Paich and Jeff Porcaro have made various statements about its origins—a guy transfixed by images of suffering Africans on TV, a lonely missionary, a visit to the 1964 World’s Fair’s Africa pavilion …

There’s a bit of rain to be seen in the very 80’s official music video, but nothing that rivals the choirs’ spectacular downpours.

If you’re moved to whip up a tempest of your own, Jbrary’s children's librarians, Dana Horrocks and Lindsey Krabbenhoft, have created an instructional video that shows just how simple the effect is to master. The real trick is enlisting 100s of friends to do it at the same time.

Buy Perpetuum Jazzile’s "Africa" CD and vocal arrangements here.

Download Angel City Chorale’s "Africa" single on iTunes or CDBaby.

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Feel Strangely Nostalgic as You Hear Classic Songs Reworked to Sound as If They’re Playing in an Empty Shopping Mall: David Bowie, Toto, Ah-ha & More

What Makes This Song Great?: Producer Rick Beato Breaks Down the Greatness of Classic Rock Songs in His New Video Series

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, April 23 for the third installment of her literary-themed variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch Choirs Around the World Simulate the Rainstorm in Toto’s “Africa” Using Only Their Hands is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

Michael Geist: Government Response Suggests No Appetite for Canadian Anti-Spam Law Reform

The government released its response to the House of Commons study on Canada’s anti-spam law this week and while one report suggested that reforms are coming, the reality is that there appears to be little appetite for significant change. I wrote about the law’s effectiveness and appeared before the committee as part of the study.  The committee report stopped short of calling for an anti-spam law overhaul, instead recommending clarifications of several provisions in the law.

The response acknowledges the areas of potential clarification, but rather than “agreeing” with the committee (as the response does with several other recommendations), it merely “notes” the concerns:

The government has noted the Committee’s concerns that the Act and its regulations require clarifications to reduce the costs of compliance and better focus enforcement and that a number of witnesses echoed the concernd raises about perceived ambiguities in the interpretation of certain provisions of the Act.

That statement is a far cry from agreeing to reform the law. Instead, the government says it will work to find ways to improve the law:

The government recognizes that the more explicit the legislation and its obligations are, the more effective the Act will be. We also intend to work closely with stakeholders to identify ways to improve the areas that are the object of the Committee’s recommendations. Clear obligations support both senders and consumers, and it the government’s aim that the CASL be as clear as possible while remaining adaptable and neutral to technological developments.

The government is open to other recommendations: considering changing the name of the law, increasing education, and enhancing information sharing. However, the response does not suggest there is much urgency and any reforms will also consider implementing the now-delayed private right of action.  Given the current public concern with misuse of personal information, it seems unlikely there will be significant reforms to the anti-spam in the near future.

The post Government Response Suggests No Appetite for Canadian Anti-Spam Law Reform appeared first on Michael Geist.

Michael Geist: B.C. Court Leaves Google Global Takedown Order Intact Pending Full Trial

A British Columbia court has denied Google’s request to vary an injunction requiring it to remove search results from its global index, concluding that a U.S. ruling that did not demonstrate that the removal would result in a violation of U.S. law. The Google v. Equustek case has attracted international attention with the Supreme Court of Canada upholding a global takedown order. That decision noted that it was open to Google to raise potential conflict of laws with the B.C. court in the hopes of varying the order:

If Google has evidence that complying with such an injunction would require it to violate the laws of another jurisdiction, including interfering with freedom of expression, it is always free to apply to the British Columbia courts to vary the interlocutory order accordingly.

Google did just that by filing arguments in U.S. courts that “the Canadian order is ‘unenforceable in the United States because it directly conflicts with the First Amendment, disregards the Communication Decency Act’s immunity for interactive service providers, and violates principles of international comity.’” A U.S. court agreed, emphasizing that CDA immunity protections would be lost as a result of the Canadian court order.

After Equustek failed to delay a hearing on the implications of the U.S. order, the B.C. court conducted a hearing last month and issued its decision earlier this week. The court distinguished between an order inconsistent with the safe harbour protections and a violation of the First Amendment, concluding that “the U.S. decision does not establish that the injunction requires Google to violate American law.” Rather:

The effect of the U.S. order is that no action can be taken against Google to enforce the injunction in U.S. courts. That does not restrict the ability of this Court to protect the integrity of its own process through orders directed to parties over whom it has personal jurisdiction.

The court addressed several other Google arguments that will likely resurface during the full trial as the current temporary injunction is set to expire at the conclusion of the trial. Google may appeal the latest ruling or await the trial for a full airing of its arguments.

The post B.C. Court Leaves Google Global Takedown Order Intact Pending Full Trial appeared first on Michael Geist.

BOOOOOOOM! – CREATE * INSPIRE * COMMUNITY * ART * DESIGN * MUSIC * FILM * PHOTO * PROJECTS: “Looking for Hamza” by Photographer Fred Lahache

A new series by Paris-based photographer Fred Lahache (previously featured here). Shot in Morocco and dedicated to Lahache’s childhood friend, see more images from “Looking for Hamza” below.

 

Fred Lahache

BOOOOOOOM! – CREATE * INSPIRE * COMMUNITY * ART * DESIGN * MUSIC * FILM * PHOTO * PROJECTS: Artist Spotlight: Ted Larsen

BOOOOOOOM! – CREATE * INSPIRE * COMMUNITY * ART * DESIGN * MUSIC * FILM * PHOTO * PROJECTS: Artist Spotlight: Caitlin McCormack

Recent work by Philadelphia-based artist Caitlin McCormack (previously featured here). Using crocheted cotton string stiffened with glue to create a bone-like tissue, McCormack constructs beasts and humanoid forms based on memories warped over time and other uncanny moments. See more images below or on display at Last Rites Gallery in NYC April 27 – June 2.

 

Caitlin McCormack

Perlsphere: PTS 2018 - Day 1

I'm at the Perl Toolchain Summit 2018 in Oslo for a few days working with the MetaCPAN team. This is the 10th year of the summit (although confusingly the 11th actual summit!), and the 3rd year I've been able to attend.

My focus for day 1 has been making MetaCPAN front end and API more resilient and also to put together a what to do if site down and Disaster Recovery plan (day 2 I will be testing that DR plan).

I've setup our 2nd datacenter back to being a production ready cluster (of Elasticsearch). I added health checks and load balancing from Fastly (our CDN) to both the web front end (now using 4 nodes, 2 in each datacenter) and also setup our API (3 nodes in 1 datacenter as they all need to talk to the same elasticsearch). You can see what is running where in our domains document.

Now Github are running public projects you can see what MetaCPAN team are doing and have done

A huge thank you to the sponsors who make this possible:

NUUG Foundation, Teknologihuset, Booking.com, cPanel, FastMail, Elastic,
ZipRecruiter, MaxMind, MongoDB, SureVoIP, Campus Explorer, Bytemark, Infinity Interactive, OpusVL, Eligo, Perl Services, Oetiker+Partner.

Explosm.net: Comic for 2018.04.20

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

BOOOOOOOM! – CREATE * INSPIRE * COMMUNITY * ART * DESIGN * MUSIC * FILM * PHOTO * PROJECTS: The Dream-like Photography of Artist James Jean

MattCha's Blog: CNNP = Scary For Me! The 2005 CNNP Big Yellow Mark


Another thing that I really noticed when getting back into buying puerh was that a lot more people seem to be buying China National Native Products (CNNP) puerh.  This surprised me at first.  To me CNNP was associated with a risk of being lower quality puerh.  Basically, you never knew, for certain what the cake would be like and had no brand recognition behind it.  At the random tea tables in China, and to a lesser extent Korea, there was a decent chance that these teas would be almost undrinkable.  To order a cake of this stuff blindly was almost unimaginable 10 years ago.

Nowadays, the mentality toward the CNNP labeled teas has changed thanks to western pureh vendors.  Puerh vendors have picked up on some Western puerh drinker’s preference for value over brand and have started stocking these.  As buyers we no longer have to be concerned about them being undrinkable because the vendors basically do the leg work here to ensure something of a particular quality that won’t compromise their own brand.  I feel sorry for them, but grateful!

As a result, we are now ensured a certain level of quality with these CNNP cakes.  Without brand recognition behind these cakes- great value can be had.  This pretty much removes the puerh collector from driving up the market value of these teas.  These are the true puerh drinker’s puerh!

Recently, my feeling of the CNNP cakes changed because of good reviews and a general positive outlook overall and a run of good ones that I sampled from Stephane of Teamasters .  After reading some of these reviews I really wanted to try some out in my next order.  It took me longer than I thought to order again (probably a good problem to have), but I am happy to say that some of these CNNPs are on their way.  I am really hoping that these cakes help me overcome my fear of CNNP.

The first to arrive was….


Dry leaves smell of a faint smoke almost creamy sweetness and slight aged, almost roasted meat odour.

“Big Yellow” gets the big yixing and big Korean ceramic cups treatment today.  “Go bold or go home” I chuckle to myself.

The first infusion delivers a slightly smoke, slight sour initial taste.  There is a mild sweetness that lingers on the breath.  The base taste is slightly smokey, meaty, and savory here.  There is a soft subtle sweetness that tries to push through in the mild returning sweetness.  There is a soapy, almost cinnamon and rose pedal quality in there as well.  There is lots going on with this tea.  The mouthfeel has a bit of chalkiness to it in this first infusion.  I got some mild allergic symptoms off this one right after the first infusion.  Next time I will probably give it 2 or 3 rinses instead of just one.

The second infusion starts with a meaty, savory BBQ like taste then adds a slightly almost chalky rose edge.  The aftertaste is mildly cooling and evolves in the mouth.  The throat has a deeper chalkier mid throat feel which works well for this tea.  The aftertaste minutes later is a nice mild smokey menthol barely rose sweetness.  The aftertaste is long and interesting trying to push more subtle sweet flavours through.  The qi of this tea is strong enough to have a profound effect on the mind.

The third infusion starts with a smokey, BBQ like taste.  Then there is a splash of almost sweetness then back to smokey BBQ, then slowly and long evolving into a cooling returning aftertaste.  Minutes later there is a barely creamy rose aftertaste.  The taste profile of this tea is long and unfolds slowly.  The mouth and throat feel develop a nice astringency to it.  The aftertaste has a creamy almost sweet finish reminiscent of Nannou.  The way I am reacting to this tea, it contains more than a bit of evil qi in there.

The fourth infusion begins with this roasted meat and smokey BBQ taste.  The mouthfeel becomes more astringent but not overly so.  The aftertaste is more measured in this fourth infusion with less subtlety or sweetness pushing through.

The fifth still carries this burley, masculine feel of smokey, strong almost harshness followed by hints of Nannou creamy sweetness in the aftertaste that slides into a rose-like taste. There is much to see in this tea if you can see through its smokey strength.

The sixth infusion starts to coalesce nicely.  Its initial taste is almost a creamy sweet woody taste.  Its less smokey here and more rich and creamy.  It has a nice floral rose like finish that is more noticeable now.  The mouthfeeling is chalky and deeper and aftertaste is slight cooling evolving.  The qi is really nice and strong you can feel it in the chest as the heart beats stronger and in the head that feel cloudy, energy sure is felt, a boost for sure.

The seventh infusion is similar to the sixth but more smokey and woody.  Nice big qi in here for sure.

I think about throwing in the towel with this tea but it just tastes too damn good, despite some of the allergic like reactions I’m having to it.  It seems like it’s even getting better in these last infusions so I steep it a few more times.  The body of these infusions are decently rich and thick in the mouth with a more cohesive flavor profile of smokey wood and almost creaminess.  This tea feels like it could go a lot further with even more infusions.

This tea reminds me of 85% Xiguan, 10% Nannou single estate, 5% Yang Qing Hao.  It is robust and strong, almost harsh but has some elegance, some softeness as well.  To me the Nannou profile is the most obvious but the strength indicates other Menghai material mixed in there.

This tea tastes great and has some very nice qi but my body is reacting negatively to something in that cake.  Who knows what it is.  I really want to like this cake, but my body and the itch is telling me it’s probably not worth it.  Due to past recommendations of this tea by others there must be many people out there who have sampled it.  Is there anyone else out there that has experienced allergic type symptoms?  Maybe I'm just allergic to good puerh?  Hahaha...

Darn CNNP…

Peace



Peace

Disquiet: What Sound Looks Like


I couldn’t live here, but it’s sure cool to visit. The clock repair person says, understandably, that he keeps most (not all, but most) of the (many many) grandfather clocks turned off.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Going under

Here’s a safe prediction for you: expect far more media stories in the coming months on people being eaten by their houses. The latest was a TV news piece in Ontario Thursday night about a woman who fears losing her home since she cannot make outrageous mortgage payments to her private lender.

Why borrow from a high-rate sub-prime mortgage broker? Because she didn’t qualify for a bank loan. B20.

Lately housing anguish and suffering is all around us. There are the Mattamay Homes Refugees who think it’s unfair they paid $1.5 million for unbuilt houses at the peak which are now worth less. They cannot close deals, they say, since their existing homes have fallen in value. The company says, tough.

Then there’s blog dog Derek, whose tale was told here, then repeated across Canada in most media outlets. Buyers who ponied up $2.25 million in a bidding war for his house last spring walked, got sued, lost and now face a $470,000 judgment, plus having surrendered their deposit. Derek told me last night he saw one of the buyers in court this week as writs were issued against their property. “We actually felt really bad for him,” D says, “as he really appeared to be a broken man. But we gave him every opportunity to just close on the house. Really would have been the smartest thing to do.”

You bet. The fools will spend half a million and have nothing to show for it. Closing would have been so much wiser, securing an asset which may eventually rise again.

But not soon. The numbers are getting worse.

New house prices in the GTA, for example, just dropped by the largest amount in eight years – since the financial crisis. A 8% year/year surge last year has turned into negative numbers now, as sale prices in February fell more than 7% year/year. The reason, Stats Can says, is a rise in mortgage rates plus B20. The real underlying reason’s even simpler: few can afford a new detached house going for $1.2 million.

The result is an 82% crash in single-family home sales from this time last year, to a level almost 80% below the 10-year average. Condos aren’t immune, despite the price surge there. Sales of new units have crashed 50% in a year, reflecting the exodus of speckers, flippers and amateur landlords who face negative cash flow.

Meanwhile, something far more sinister is happening. Families continue to siphon equity out of their houses to do things like pay existing debt. HELOC borrowing has not slowed down even as real estate sales crunch across the country. The latest stats show Canadians have withdrawn (and spent) more than $283 billion from their houses – a number which is escalating almost 8% a year.

As mentioned here before, more than four in ten of those families are not paying back their home equity loans, while a quarter make interest-only payments. Thus, the debt load continues to escalate monthly as the outstanding balances grow. It’s a disaster in the making, since most HELOCs are demand loans at variable rates. As the Bank of Canada moves higher (looks like May could bring the next increase) that $283 billion will require over $700 million in additional payments each year.

That’s a ton of money to rip out of family budgets and send to the lenders (the banks). In total, Canadians now hemorrhage about $8.5 billion a year on HELOC interest payments, or tack it onto their outstanding loans. As interest rates rise, so will the toll. And if real estate values tumble in any particular location, lenders have the absolute right to demand immediate repayment of all or a portion of the borrowing to maintain LTV (loan-to-value) ratios. Go ahead. Read the fine print on your HELOC. Inebriate yourself a little first. Or a lot.

The tales of woe have just begun and as they ripple across the MSM, spill onto FB and into Twitter, the meme will spread of just how much risk is contained in residential real estate. Don’t plan on a quick drop, followed by a rebound. Instead, a steep correction, then a lengthy melt.

Derek will look like a genius.

Daniel Lemire's blog: By how much does AVX-512 slow down your CPU? A first experiment.

Intel is finally making available processors that support the fancy AVX-512 instruction sets and that can fit nicely in a common server rack. So I went to Dell and ordered a server with a Skylake-X microarchitecture: an Intel Xeon W-2104 CPU @ 3.20GHz.

This processor supports several interesting AVX-512 instruction sets. They are made of very powerful instructions that can manipulate 512-bit vectors.

On the Internet, the word out is that using AVX-512 in your application is going to slow down your whole server, so you should just give up and never use AVX-512 instructions.

Vlad Krasnov from Cloudfare wrote:

If you do not require AVX-512 for some specific high-performance tasks, I suggest you disable AVX-512 execution on your server or desktop, (…)

Table 15-16 in Intel’s optimization manual describes the impact of the various instructions you use on “Turbo Boost” (one of Intel’s frequency scaling technology). The type of instructions you use determines the “license” you are in. If you avoid AVX-512 and heavy AVX2 instructions (floating-point instructions and multiplications), you get the best boost. If you use light AVX-512 instructions or heavy AVX2 instructions, you get less of a boost… and you get the worst results with heavy AVX-512 instructions.

Intel sends us to a sheet of frequencies. Unfortunately, a quick look did not give me anything on my particular processor (Intel Xeon W-2104).

Intel is not being very clear:

Workloads that execute Intel AVX-512 instructions as a large proportion of their whole instruction count can gain performance compared to Intel AVX2 instructions, even though they may operate at a lower frequency. It is not always easy to predict whether a program’s performance will improve from building it to target Intel AVX-512 instructions.

What I am most interested in, is the theory that people seem to have that if you use AVX-512 sparingly, it is going to bring down the performance of your whole program. How could I check this theory?

I picked up a benchmark program that computes the Mandelbrot set. Then, using AVX-512 intrinsics, I added AVX-512 instructions to the program at select places. These instructions do nothing to contribute to the solution, but they cannot be trivially optimized away by the compiler. I used both light and heavy AVX-512 instructions. There are few enough of them so that the overhead is negligible… but if they slowed down the processor in a significant manner, we should be able to measure a difference.

The results?

mode running time (average over 10)
no AVX-512 1.48 s
light AVX-512 1.48 s
heavy AVX-512 1.48 s

Using spurious AVX-512 instructions made no difference to the running time in my tests. I don’t doubt that the frequency throttling is real, as it is described by Intel and widely reported, but I could not measure it.

This suggests that, maybe, it is less likely to be an issue than is often reported, at least on the type of processors I have. Or else I made a mistake in my tests.

In any case, we need reproducible simple tests. Do you have one?

My code and scripts are available.

Open Culture: The Feynman Lectures on Physics, The Most Popular Physics Book Ever Written, Is Now Completely Online

Image by Tamiko Thiel, via Wikimedia Commons

In years past, we let you know that Caltech and The Feynman Lectures Website joined forces to create an online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. They started with Volume 1. And they've since followed up with Volume 2 and Volume 3, making the collection complete.

First presented in the early 1960s at Caltech by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, the lectures were eventually turned into a book by Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, and Matthew Sands. The text went on to become arguably the most popular physics book ever written, selling more than 1.5 million copies in English, and getting translated into a dozen languages.

The new online edition makes The Feynman Lectures on Physics available in HTML5. The text “has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape,” and you can zoom into text, figures and equations without degradation. Dive right into the lectures here. And if you’d prefer to see Feynman (as opposed to read Feynman), we would encourage you to watch ‘The Character of Physical Law,’ Feynman’s  seven-part lecture series recorded at Cornell in 1964.

The Feynman Lectures on Physics is now listed in our collections of Free eBooks and Free Textbooks.

Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in August, 2014.

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Free Online Physics Courses (part of our larger collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities)

Free Physics Textbooks

‘The Character of Physical Law’: Richard Feynman’s Legendary Course Presented at Cornell, 1964

The Richard Feynman Trilogy: The Physicist Captured in Three Films

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Colossal: Artful Swirls of Plastic Marine Debris Documented in Images by Photographer Mandy Barker

SOUP – Refused © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic oceanic debris affected by chewing and attempted ingestion by animals. Includes a toothpaste tube. Additives; teeth from goats.

Photographer Mandy Barker creates deceptively eye-catching images to document the pandemic of plastic debris in the world’s waterways. Barker, who is based in Leeds, UK, works closely with scientists to collect trash from our oceans and beaches on the edges of nearly every continent. One research expedition covered the debris field (stretching to Hawaii) that resulted from Japan’s 2011 tsunami and earthquake; she has also explored the Inner Hebrides in Scotland with Greenpeace.

Barker manipulates her findings in Photoshop, mimicking the manner in which ocean water holds these objects in suspension. Swirls of colors and patterns draw in the viewer’s eye, only to realize that these visually appealing compositions consist of garbage that animals have attempted to chew, plastic pellets, tangles of fishing line, and water-logged soccer balls. The artist describes her work in a statement on her website:

The aim of my work is to engage with and stimulate an emotional response in the viewer by combining a contradiction between initial aesthetic attraction along with the subsequent message of awareness. The research process is a vital part of my development as the images I make are based on scientific fact which is essential to the integrity of my work.

Barker is currently a recipient of a 2018 National Geographic Society grant. Her work is on display through April 22nd at Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art, at Photo London Art Fair in May 2018, at the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg in June, 2018, and at BredaPhoto in The Netherlands in September 2018. The artist’s book, Beyond Drifting: Imperfectly Known Animals, was named one of the ten best books of 2017 by Smithsonian. You can see more of Barker’s photographs on her website as well as on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

EVERY… snowflake is different (detail) © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; white marine plastic debris objects collected in two single visits to a nature reserve on the East Coast of England.

EVERY… snowflake is different © Mandy Barker. Ingredients: white marine plastic debris objects collected in two single visits to a nature reserve on the East Coast of England.

Hong Kong Soup:1826 – Lighter © Mandy Barker. Discarded cigarette lighters make reference to our single-use throw away society. The panda, a national emblem of China represents endangered species and faces away from the group symbolizing mother nature turning its back on man’s inability to take ownership of its waste.

Hong Kong Soup:1826 – Spilt © Mandy Barker. 150 tonnes of pre-production plastic pellets (nurdles) spilt from a cargo container during Typhoon Vincente on 23rd July 2012 adds to Hong Kong’s waste issues in its seas and on its beaches.

PENALTY – Europe © Mandy Barker. 633 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) recovered from 23 countries and islands within Europe, from 104 different beaches, and by 62 members of the public, in just 4 months.

PENALTY – The World © Mandy Barker. 769 marine plastic debris footballs (and pieces of) collected from 41 countries and islands around the world, from 144 different beaches and by 89 members of the public in just 4 months.

PENALTY – 24 Footballs © Mandy Barker.

SHOAL – 30.41N, 157.51E © Mandy Barker.Included in trawl: child’s ball and Japanese character – fridge magnet found on the tsunami shoreline. Fishing buoy found in trawl sample, North pacific Ocean

SHOAL 33.15N, 151.15E © Mandy Barker. Included in trawl: tatami mat from the floor of a Japanese home, fishing related plastics, buoys, nylon rope, buckets, fish trays, polystyrene floats, shampoo bottle, caps, balloon & holder, petrol container.

SOUP – Alphabet © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic debris that includes surface text. Ironic random arrangement of 4 pieces of plastic that suggest a warning; ‘Sea’ ‘AND’ ‘HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES’ ‘FOUL’

SOUP: Bird’s Nest © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; discarded fishing line that has formed nest-like balls due to tidal and oceanic movement. Additives; other debris collected in its path.

SOUP – Ruinous Remembrance © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; plastic flowers, leaves, stems, and fishing line. Additives; bones, skulls, feathers, and fish.

SOUP: Turtle © Mandy Barker.

WHERE © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; marine debris balloons collected from around the world.

WHERE (detail) © Mandy Barker. Ingredients; marine debris balloons collected from around the world.

Disquiet: Disquiet Junto Project 0329: Extended Version

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, April 23, 2018. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0329: Extended Version
Make a piece of music in which you expand the functionality of an instrument — and document your technique.

Step 1: This week’s project is about unintended techniques applied to musical instruments. You can come up with a new idea, but better still to use the opportunity to document a technique you have employed in the past.

Step 2: Think about concepts like “expanded cinema” and “prepared instruments.” Think about how an instrument can be used to do things it wasn’t necessarily designed to do.

Step 3: Record a track employing a technique that arose from your thinking in Steps 1 and 2.

Step 4: When posting the track, be sure to document your technique so that others might try it.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0329” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0329” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Please consider posting your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0329-extended-version/

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, April 23, 2018. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

Length: The length is up to you. Around three minutes seems about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0329” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 329th weekly Disquiet Junto project (Extended Version / Make a piece of music in which you expand the functionality of an instrument — and document your technique) at:

https://disquiet.com/0329/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0329-extended-version/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

The image associated with this project is by David Cosand, used via Flickr and a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/9mUv8P

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

Planet Haskell: Mark Jason Dominus: Soldier fly protein: why so expensive?

Montgomery Burns, from ‘The Simpsons’, in his characteristic pose: scowling, hunched, with his fingertipes pressed together nefariously.

There have been recurring news stories about the use of dried maggots as protein supplement in animal feed. For example Insects could feed the animals of tomorrow’s meat industry (maggots fed on slaughterhouse waste, particularly blood) or Insect farms gear up to feed soaring global protein demand (maggots fed on rotten fruit). Then they dry the larvae and either use them whole or grind them into meal. In particular the fly meal can be used as a replacement for fish meal, which is ground dried fish that is used as feed for fish in fish farms. (Yep, we grind up fish we don't like, to feed to other, better fish.)

I was referred to that second article by Metafilter and The Google, in its infinite wisdom, decided to show me an advertisement for dried fly larvae. The ad was for NaturesPeck, which sells bagged fly larvae and fly meal for use as poultry feed or wild bird feed. They have a special “value pack” that contains 16 pounds of dried larvae for $88. That is $5.50 a pound! Holy cow, WTF? How can that even be possible when my local grocery store is selling boneless center cut pork chops for $2.50 per pound?

Okay, I thought maybe NaturesPeck was some sort of boutique operation, charging a high markup for small quantities, maybe they claim to have sustainably-harvested fly meal from free-range organically-fed flies or something. So I went looking for an industrial wholesaler of bulk fly meal and quickly found Haocheng Mealworms Inc. in Xiangtan, China. This is definitely what I was looking for; they will be glad to sell you a standard 40-foot shipping container full of dried maggots or other larvae. The quoted price for dried mealworm larvae is $8400 per metric tonne, plus shipping ($170–200 per tonne).

Prices, converted to U.S. dollars per pound, are as follows:

Dried soldier fly maggots $2.49
Powdered soldier fly maggots 2.81
Dried mealworms 3.81
Powdered mealworms 4.22
Live mealworms 5.67
Canned fresh mealworms 7.08
Dried superworms 4.76
Live superworms 8.30
Canned fresh superworms 7.71

So it wasn't just that NaturesPeck was marking them up. Even the least expensive product costs as much as retail pork chops.

I don't get it. There must be some important aspect of this that I am missing, because a market failure of this magnitude is impossible.

BTW, Haocheng recommends that:

As a source of high protein additive, put [mealworms] into the bread, flour, instant noodle, pastry, biscuit, candy, condiment, and direct into the dishes on the dining table like the foodstuff, and process into the health care nourishment to improve the human body immunity ability.

Not at those prices, buddy.

The Shape of Code: Influential philosophers of source code

Who is the most important/influential philosopher of source code? Source code, as far as I know, is not a subject that philosophers claim to be studying; but, the study of logic, language and the mind is the study of source code.

For many, Ludwig Wittgenstein would probably be the philosopher that springs to mind. Wittgenstein became famous as the world’s first Perl programmer, with statements such as: “If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.” and “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”

Noam Chomsky, a linguist, might be another choice, based on his specification of the Chomsky hierarchy (which neatly categorizes grammars). But generative grammars (for which he is famous in linguistics) is about generating language, not understanding what has been said/written.

My choice for the most important/influential philosopher of source code is Paul Grice. A name, I suspect, that is new to most readers. The book to quote (and to read if you enjoy the kind of books philosophers write) is “Studies in the Way of Words”.

Grice’s maxims, provide a powerful model for human communication; the tldr:

  • Maxim of quality: Try to make your contribution one that is true.
  • Maxim of quantity: Make your contribution as informative as is required.
  • Maxim of relation: Be relevant.

But source code is about human/computer communication, you say. Yes, but so many developers seem to behave as-if they were involved in human/human communication.

Source code rarely expresses what the developer means; source code is evidence of what the developer means.

The source code chapter of my empirical software engineering book is Gricean, with a Relevance theory accent.

More easily digestible books on Grice’s work (for me at least) are: “Relevance: Communication and Cognition” by Sperber and Wilson, and the more recent “Meaning and Relevance” by Wilson and Sperber.

things magazine: Here comes the bride

The former Wedding Palace in Tbilisi, by Victor Djorbenadze became the private house of the late oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, the definition of a colourful character. There only seems to be one plan available online, but it sort of backs up … Continue reading

Colossal: A Rare Glimpse at a Deserted Great Wall of China Captured by Andres Gallardo Albajar

This past February architectural photographer Andres Gallardo Albajar traveled to the Great Wall of China where he was able to take in a rare sight—one of the seven wonders of the world without a single soul to be seen. Albajar had expected to create the same tourist-filled images as others who visited the architectural feat, however when he arrived he found a thick fog encapsulating the structure. The dense cover may have been a deterrent for tourists, but this particular weather added further mystery to the deserted landscape Albajar captured in this recent series.

“I was expecting big amounts of people, even lines to access or things like that, but for my surprise there was very few people, which allowed me to capture the wall with no people, which in my opinion helps to create a more surreal and magic feeling,” Albajar tells Colossal.

You can view more of the Spanish photographer’s work, including his multi-part series on urban geometry, on his website, Instagram, and Behance.

Michael Geist: Be Careful What You Wish For: The Risk of Ceding Online Content Monitoring to Internet Giants

As elected officials place Internet giants such as Google and Facebook under an increasingly intense microscope, the pressure mounts on those companies to play more proactive roles in policing content on their networks. In recent weeks, the demands have come from seemingly every direction: privacy commissioners seeking rules on the removal of search results, politicians calling for increased efforts to address fake news on Internet platforms, and Internet users wondering why the companies are slow to takedown allegedly defamatory or harmful postings.

My Globe and Mail op-ed notes Internet companies can undoubtedly do more, but laying the responsibility primarily at their feet poses its own risks as governments and regulators effectively cede responsibility for content moderation and policing to private, for-profit companies. In doing so, there is a real chance that the Internet giants will become even more powerful, limiting future competition and entrenching an uncomfortable reliance on private organizations for activities that are traditionally conducted by courts and regulators.

Contrary to some claims, there has never been a fully hands-off approach to Internet regulation. All Internet companies – like any other company – respond to court orders to take down content or disclose the identity of their subscribers or users. The major companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter also regularly release detailed transparency reports that provide insights into lawful requests and takedown efforts.

Some companies have proactively attempted to block or mute certain content. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg emphasized his company’s success in combatting terrorist materials last week in his U.S. congressional appearance, noting that the technology is sufficiently effective to ensure that the vast majority of posts are never viewed by anyone.

Similarly, YouTube, the world’s largest video site, automatically flags copyright infringing content identified by rights holders, which is then muted, taken down, or used to generate revenues for the rights holder through advertising. These efforts at content moderation require significant resources with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in employees and technologies that can use automation to help facilitate content identification.

Before politicians or regulators mandate additional requirements, we should recognize the risks associated with outsourcing responsibility for content moderation to Internet companies.

First, mandating broader content moderation and takedowns virtually ensures that the big players will only get bigger given the technology, research, and personnel costs that will be out of the reach of smaller companies. At a time when some of the Internet companies already seem too big, content moderation of billions of posts or videos would reaffirm their power, rendering it virtually impossible for upstart players to compete.

In fact, we are already perilously close to entrenching the large Internet players. At a conference on large-scale content moderation held earlier this year in California, there was a wide gap between companies such as Google and Facebook (which deploy thousands of people to the task) and smaller companies such as Medium, Reddit, and Dropbox, which have hundreds of millions of users, but have only a handful of people focused on content moderation issues.

Second, there remains considerable uncertainty with what politicians actually want. Last week, members of Congress alternately took turns criticizing Facebook for not doing enough to take down content or for doing too much. For example, Representative David McKinley wanted to know why Facebook was slow to remove posts promoting opioids, while Representative Joe Barton raised concerns about Facebook taking down conservative content.

Similar issues arise in other countries. For example, Facebook faces potential liability in the millions of dollars for failing to remove hate content in Germany, but earlier this month a German court ordered the company to restore comments the company deemed offensive.

Third, supporters of shifting more responsibility to Internet companies argue that our court systems or other administrative mechanisms were never designed to adjudicate content-related issues on the Internet’s massive scale. Many Internet companies were never designed for it either, but we should at least recognize the cost associated with turning public adjudication over to private entities.

Leaving it to search engines, rather than the courts, to determine what is harmful and should therefore be removed from search indexes ultimately empowers Google and weakens our system of due process. Similarly, requiring hosting providers to identify instances of copyright infringement, removes much of the nuance in copyright analysis, creating real risks to freedom of expression.

Advocates of increased regulation are quick to point out that the Internet is not a no law land. Yet if the determination of the legality of online content is left largely to private Internet companies, we may be consigning courts and regulators to a diminished role while strengthening the Googles and Facebooks as concern grows over excessive power in the hands of a few Internet giants.

The post Be Careful What You Wish For: The Risk of Ceding Online Content Monitoring to Internet Giants appeared first on Michael Geist.

BOOOOOOOM! – CREATE * INSPIRE * COMMUNITY * ART * DESIGN * MUSIC * FILM * PHOTO * PROJECTS: Photographer Spotlight: Lola Paprocka

Disquiet: The Muffled Classicism of Christina Vantzou

“So, when you play this live, you just have to figure out a way to construct a huge bell jar to put over the entire orchestra except the cello player.” That is how a friend of Christina Vantzou’s described her aesthetic back to her, per Vantzou’s own recollection when I interviewed her a few years ago on the occasion of her third album, Nº3 (Kranky). It’s an apt comparison. There is a restraint, a sense of sounds emanating down a dark hall, music heard through thick fabric, to Vantzou’s recordings, and the approach holds strong on her new album, No. 4, released earlier this month.

This No. 4 track, “Staircases,” exemplifies Vantzou’s approach. Traditional classical elements, heavy on sedate strings and a minimal piano line that descends like the title subject, are heard in a quiet but intense echo, one in which space — whether real or virtual, physical or a matter of post-production — is as much an instrument as the instruments themselves.

Album posted at christinavantzou.bandcamp.com. More from Vantzou at her youtube.com channel and at christinavantzou.com.

Penny Arcade: News Post: AcqInc: The &#8220;C&#8221; Team Returns April 25th

Tycho: I have the last four pages of Nurse Normal‘s Jonaari opus, Never Mind That for you right here.  Pages 1-6 and here, pages 7-12 are here, and pages 13-16 are below: Very excited to get back on my shit next Wednesday. (CW)TB

: Weird blends

When you’re here to eat dim sum, the first thing that happens is you sit down, and they ask you what tea you want. Usually, your choices are as follows: shoumei, shuixian, puerh, jasmine. Some places offer some low grade tieguanyin instead of shuixian, but those are your basic choices.

So I was with some friends and we went to this place we’ve never been. Instead of actually getting a choice, they just plopped down some jasmine for us – which was very unusual. I think it was because we were chatting in English before sitting down, so I guess the staff figured we didn’t speak Cantonese and wanted to avoid dealing with us.

So I asked for some puerh instead. They quickly swapped the teapots and gave us what looked like puerh. So far, so good. Except when I tried to drink it, it tasted really, really weird.

At first I thought it’s a bad tea – some restaurants use really cheap, bad tea to save on money (even though they charge you $2 USD per person for the tea). Then, after a couple sips, it really became obvious something was really wrong. We mostly avoided the tea from that point on, and near the end of the meal, I pulled out the leaves.

It’s pretty clear here that something weird is happening. Some of the leaves are the typical puerh leaves – dark, wiry, somewhat stiff. The rest however are something different. The green stuff – what was it? I took a look, and it seemed like the tea is some kind of really low grade tieguanyin or something similar.

The question is – why would anyone do that? I have two theories, but neither are very satisfying. The first is simple – they made a mistake. That seems highly unlikely, because one look at the leaves and you’ll know it’s off. Of course, maybe they mixed it by accident and simply don’t care – it’s possible.

The other is that this is some really misguided idea of blending the teas thinking that this is a good idea – that the tieguanyin will help raise the aroma of the tea, while the puerh gives it body and bass. Well…. that simply didn’t work in this case. It was really, really weird tasting.

Penny Arcade: News Post: Fortuitous

Tycho: We actually wrote this comic  before it was announced that the guided missile was being shelved indefinitely.  They have a pretty aggressive schedule over there. I was talking to Jeff Kalles, who you might remember as Jeff No-Magic from Acquisitions Incorporated, about it yesterday.  The man is a Project Manager just, like, in his blood, and to hear him tell it managing the kind of seismic success a game like Fortnite is experiencing is an incredibly sophisticated challenge.  There’s always gonna be the “Good problem to have,” wink-nudge contingent, and…

Quiet Earth: Killer Drones Wreak Havoc in HOVER [Trailer]

Drones are already a part of every day life; from expensive toys to delivery services, they're cropping up everywhere, including the military but in Hover they are an essential tool for keeping humanity alive.


Written by Cleopatra Coleman (who also stars), this is the latest from Matt Osterman who previously directed Ghost from the Machine and Syfy's 400 Days. In this future, agricultural strain and crop shortages are commonplace and drones are used to maximize landuse and yield.


Coleman and Craig muMs Grant play compassionate care providers. They drive around and assist farmers in ending their lives when they get too sick to go on but at the sudden death of her partner, Coleman starts to think that the drones may be responsible for more suffering.

:::BREA [Continued ...]

Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate: Fail bail

When the lights went out ten years ago, Wall Street banks folded like cheap suits. A financial crisis turned into a credit crisis that swept the world. I remember talking to the guy who managed the local grocery store in Oakville. “We’ve been told there may be no shipments next week,” he said, shocked. “Head office told us they can’t finance the loads.” So suburbanites were close to not having their Bran Flakes and organic broccoli, thanks to collaterized debt obligations and scuzzy financiers in America.

That’s the world now. A digitized, seamless, integrated interconnected web of mutual interdependence both comforting and terrifying. Money has gone virtual and the financial institutions which control those channels control our lives. If the web went down, with no electronic banking, ATMs, credit card authorizations or online shopping, you’d have to get by with the cash in your pocket.

So, how much is on you right now? How much currency do you keep at home?

Right. Screwed. And this is why no big bank can be allowed to fail. Which brings us to bail-ins, and what happened on Wednesday. Ottawa just published the final set of actions – two years in the making – that would materialize if RBC, BeeMo, Scotia, TD, CIBC or the National Bank went paws-up. That could be the result of a devastating housing collapse or a run on bank deposits caused by panicked consumers. It could be a domino effect from a global economic event. Maybe a war.

So, what would happen?

First, let’s deal with what you do not need to fear, and what some people have been trying to milk in order to line their own pockets. Here. For example, is Toronto-based gold flogger BMG Group’s scary take on what a bank bail-in would mean:

“Those at risk of a bail-in in the event of a failure are subordinated debt holders, bondholders, preferred shareholders and any accounts in excess of $100,000 not covered by CDIC insurance. Their bonds, preferred shares, deposits etc. would be converted to capital to re-capitalize the banks. According to the financial statements of the CDIC, they insured some 30% of total deposit liabilities, or $684 billion, as of April 30, 2014. The remaining 70% not insured would primarily be large depositors, including both large and small businesses, and other banks and financial institutions.”

So, says BMG, if you own bank preferreds shares (or an ETF holding them) or have more than $100,000 sitting in accounts at any one bank, your wealth could be seized by the government and turned into common shares in the bank with the money being used to help rescue that institution. Obviously the shares would be near-worthless.

And here is the almost-always spectacularly incorrect and very popular web site Zerohedge, also telling you to be scared:

Deep inside the announcement, in the section discussing “tax fairness and a strong financial sector”, we have official confirmation that Canada has just become the latest country to treat depositors as the bank creditors they are, and as such, they too will be impaired, or “bailed-in” the next time a Canadian bank needs to be rescued. This new “bail-in” regime is spun as benefitting taxpayers; what isn’t mentioned is that most of those taxpayers who will be “protected” also happen to be the impaired depositors (also known as creditors) in these soon to be bailed-in banks, which begs the question: just who or what is being protected here?

Finally, here’s Canada’s resident right-wing nutbar, Ezra Levant. In this crazed video he says the bail-in is Trudeau’s plan to steal your family’s money (actually it was Harper’s idea, but whatever…):

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what is the truth?

Pretty simple. If a bank fails deposits will not be seized, even for big guys (as happened in Cyprus). No preferred shares will be forced to convert into common stock. No ETFs that own those preferreds will be impacted. You wouldn’t lose your chequing account funds, nor the money in your RRSP, TFSA or anything else TNL@TB got you into. Sadly, your mortgage or HELOC would not be cancelled, either. Yes, shares in that bank would collapse on the stock market and stockholders would be Hoovered dry, but the institution would be recapitalized nonetheless.

Banks will be required to have enough capital in reserve, plus sufficient debt which is convertible into equity, to survive. If collapse happened, bank regulators would force conversion of those assets into common stock, allowing the bank to remain open and preventing any burden falling on taxpayers (that’s  called a ‘bail-out’).

So, unless you owned a high-yield bail-in bond, there’d be no impact should the earth open and swallow the CIBC. Here is how the feds see this structured:

The regulations set out key features of the regime, including that the rules would only apply to debt issued by D-SIBs (the banks) that is unsecured, tradable, transferable, and has an original term to maturity of at least 400 days. Such debt is held predominantly by foreign and domestic institutional investors, such as asset and fund managers, typically as a small portion of these investors’ overall portfolios.

The bail-in regulations do not apply to deposits, including chequing accounts, savings accounts and term deposits such as Guaranteed Investment Certificates, which will continue to benefit from the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation deposit insurance framework. As such, deposits are not convertible under the regime.

Now, will one of our banks fail? If the answer’s ‘never’, you know where to invest.

Quiet Earth: Stealing Books Made Thrilling in AMERICAN ANIMALS [Trailer]

Writer/director Bart Layton has a long career producing and directing reality television but in 2012 he made his feature film debut with the hugely entertaining documentary The Imposter in which a Spaniard claims to be son of an American couple who has been missing for 3 years.


For his follow-up, a narrative feature called American Animals, Layton isn't going too far from the documentary world choosing to adapt the real life story four teenagers in Lexington, Kentucky who tried to get rich by ripping off a book worth ten million dollars.


The plan is simple: break into the archives of the local college and steal a number of rare books. And no, it doesn't seem like they worked out how they were going to unload said books. That's thinking too far ahead for these teens. [Continued ...]

Quiet Earth: Paul Schrader Back and Kicking with FIRST REFORMED [Trailer]

Over his decades long career Paul Schrader has continued to be a part of the film conversation, usually ruffling a few feathers along the way. Be it with creepy classics like Cat People and Taxi Driver or the debacle that was The Canyons, he continues to create content which gets people talking. His latest is no different.


First Reformed stars Ethan Hawke as Reverend Toller, the pastor of a slowly-dying parish which now sees more tourists than members of the congregation. When one of his parishioners, played by Amanda Seyfried, asks him for council about her eccentric husband who she thinks is on the verge of committing a horrible crime, the pastor finds himself plunged into his own tormented past which appears to include more than a handful of sins.


: [Continued ...]

Quiet Earth: Oh Canada! Celebrate Canadian Film Day With Some Great Genre Titles [List]

It's National Canadian Film Day and though, since a couple of us contributors hail from the Great White North, we try to celebrate Canadian film as much as possible, it's pretty great to have a day of National recognition so we figure, what better way to celebrate than to share some great Canadian movies?


If you're somewhere in Canada, chances are good that there will be a free screening to celebrate the day, you can find out more about the events here, but if you're more of a stay-at-home and chill with a movie type, here are a few readily available titles to help you celebrate some Canadiana.


[Continued ...]

Colossal: Dublin’s Sweep of Public Mural Removals Prompts Wave of New Artworks

Mural by @ADW

For the past several months, a collective of artists in Dublin known as Subset has been coming up against the letter of the law, as the Dublin City Council (DCC) issues orders requiring Subset to paint over their colorful murals with swaths of monochromatic paint. Blindboy Boatclub, an Irish comedian and hip hop artist who was the subject of a Subset mural, points out the conundrum in an interview with JOE:

Subset have been brightening up dull spaces all over Dublin. People were engaging… taking selfies, having craic [fun conversation]. That’s what art is supposed to be, socially engaged. A genuinely engaging spectacle for real people, not just hidden away in a gallery for those with an art education. Dublin council have disappointed me. How is it OK to paint a wall one dull color of paint? But it’s illegal to paint the same space with multiple colors.

The sweep of mural removals began in late 2017, despite previous successful collaborations between DCC and Subset, as cited in the Irish Times. Although the murals are created on private property and with explicit permission from property owners, under current law the artists are still required to apply for permits for each painting. These permitting fees are calculated by square meter, and can cost thousands of euros.

As explained by RTÉ (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) Ireland’s national public-service media organization, “The permission available to the artists at present is fixed and rigid whereas they require a more fluid process allowing them to apply for spaces on an ongoing basis and vary their artwork in response to changing events. As it stands, the collective must apply separately for each mural. The amount of time, bureaucracy and expense required to do this detracts from the spontaneity and impact of their art, so they don’t apply.” In contrast, the more up-to-date and efficient licensing processes in Irish cities like Limerick and Waterford have been beneficial for both artists and the city governments.

In response, members of the Subset collective have teamed up with other artists to paint new murals throughout Dublin, with a goal of adding twenty five new works. Some are vibrantly colored, drawing attention to the role that such large-scale public artworks play in enlivening urban environments. Others feature grey palettes in solidarity with the #greyareaproject hashtag, which is being used to unite the pro-mural movement, and you can see examples of both below.

Residents are also using the hashtag on social media to document pre-existing murals, as evidence of the city’s rich mural scene. You can follow the conversation on Subset’s Twitter and Instagram and via #greyareaproject on both platforms.

 

Mural by @Subset

Mural of Irish president Michael D Higgins by @Subset

Mural by @Subset

Mural by @KinMx

Mural by @Ominos_Omin

Mural by @Subset

Mural by @Subset

Mural by Dan Leo

Mural by Subset with additional Banksy-esque intervention as commentary on removal summons

Quiet Earth: Anonymity is Non-Existent in ANON [Trailer]

Looking at Andrew Niccol's filmography, it's clear he has an interest in technology and how it affects us now and in the future. From Gattaca on, this has been a central theme in his films and though The Host was a tiny misstep, even that carried through on Niccol's obvious fascination/fear of what technology will do to humanity. His latest is no different.


Anon takes place in a future where privacy is non-existent and someone is always watching. Clive Owen plays a detective working in this new reality when a murder suggests that someone has unlocked the ability to hack a person's brain and control what they see. Amanda Seyfried plays a woman who has mastered the art of anonymity and she'll do whatever it takes to stay anonymous.


In addition to Syefried and O [Continued ...]

Planet Haskell: Neil Mitchell: Ghcid with colors

Summary: I've just released ghcid-0.7, which provides a much better user experience, including colors.

Ghcid is now over three years old, with 28 versions, but I'm particularly pleased with the improvements in the latest version. The focus has been on better defaults and a more polished user experience, some things you might spot:

Color output: GHC 8.2 added colored output, with important information highlighted. Previously Ghcid would explicitly disable that color. Now Ghcid embraces that color, turning the flag on for GHC versions that support it and ensuring any output munging is aware of the colors. It also enables colors in Hspec and colors the "All good" message green.




Color defaults: While enabling more color, it also provides --color=never to disable colors, and auto-detects when colors are likely to work well.

Error spans: Ghcid has always recommended that people turn on the -ferror-spans flag, but now it does it for you. For people using the VS Code addin that will provide a smoother experience out of the box.

Parallel compilation: Ghcid now passes -j to ghci, which I find speeds up compilation by about one third. Not a huge speedup, but still useful.

Tracking files: Ghcid now tracks both the .ghcid file (which you can use to specify the command line you want to use with ghcid) and .ghci file (which configures ghci). If either change it will cause Ghcid to restart, picking up the changes.

Absolute paths: The internals of Ghcid have been rewritten to always use absolute file paths, rather than relative paths. If your ghci wrapper changes directory (as I believe multi-project cabal new-repl does) Ghcid will continue to work.

Enabling IDE improvements: I have improved the integration features for editor plugins - you can now output a .json file with the parsed messages, including start/end position, and escape codes. There is a new --setup flag for sending initial messages to the underlying ghci. I haven't modified any of the IDE plugins to take advantage of these new features, but that's phase 2.

Ctrl-C and cleaning up processes: Ghcid is a continual fight to deal properly with Ctrl-C and close down all appropriate processes at the right time. In this release I've fought the battle in a few more corners, seemingly with some level of success.

Crazy extensions: GHC 8.4 is now able to deal with both RebindableSyntax and OverloadedStrings and still start ghci. I've modified Ghcid so it can also deal with this composition.

Together these changes make for a much more pleasant user experience.

Planet Haskell: FP Complete: Why Haskell is hot for cryptocurrencies

This is a short and non-technical blog post demonstrating why the Haskell programming language is a good choice for building cryptocurrencies.

Colossal: Colorful Light Sculptures by James Clar Interpret Technology’s Effects on Our Perceived Reality

Wheeeeeeeeeeeee! (2015), neon, 125 x 155 cm

James Clar, Wheeeeeeeeeeeee! (2015), neon, 125 x 155 cm

Artist James Clar creates sculptural light systems that interpret the ways modern technology has altered our perception of reality and time. His multi-colored works often imitate society’s relationship to the screen, such as in his work Increasing Resolution, which shows the rapid incline of digital resolution on our TVs, computers, and phones, or his 2015 sculpture Wheeeeeeeeeeeee! which expresses the loosening of language structures due to an increasing dependence on communicating through technological devices.

“The majority of our daily experience and information comes from the artificial light sources of our screens and phones, shifting our habitat from the physical space around us to the non-physical space of online digital systems” explains Clar in an artist statement.

Clar received his masters in interactive telecommunication from New York University. He has an upcoming solo exhibition at Jane Lombard Gallery in NYC later this year. You can see more of the artist’s work on his Instagram and website.

Space Is A Hologram (2014), LED lights, filters, wire, 105 x 120 cm

Space Is A Hologram (2014), LED lights, filters, wire, 105 x 120 cm

Nemo (2013), fluorescent lights, filters, 130 x 75 cm

Nemo (2013), fluorescent lights, filters, 130 x 75 cm

Binary Star, (2016), LEDs, filters, wire, 190 x 190 cm

Binary Star, (2016), LEDs, filters, wire, 190 x 190 cm

Increasing Resolution (2012), fluorescent lights, filters, 120 x 190 cm

Increasing Resolution (2012), fluorescent lights, filters, 120 x 190 cm

Thermal Energy (2013), 160 x 120 x 90 cm

Thermal Energy (2013), 160 x 120 x 90 cm

Horizontal Force (2015), LEDs, filters, wire, 220 x 120 cm

Horizontal Force (2015), LEDs, filters, wire, 220 x 120 cm

BOOM (2011), fluorescent lights, acrylic tubes and light filters, 85 x 120 cm

BOOM (2011), fluorescent lights, acrylic tubes and light filters, 85 x 120 cm

new shelton wet/dry: Every day, the same, again

Hackers stole a casino’s high-roller database through a thermometer in the lobby fish tank. They are increasingly targeting unprotected ‘internet of things’ devices such as air condition systems and CCTV to get into corporate networks. ‘Bitcoin Heist’ suspect climbs out prison window in Iceland, gets on plane to Sweden, reportedly same flight as Iceland’s leader [...]

new shelton wet/dry: ‘Not necessity, not desire, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything, they remain unhappy.’ –Nietzsche

{ while ordinary people are struggling, those at the top are doing just fine. Income and wealth inequality have shot up. The top 1% of Americans command nearly twice the amount of income as the bottom 50%. The situation is more equitable in Europe, though the top 1% have had a good few decades. | [...]

Penny Arcade: Comic: Fortuitous

New Comic: Fortuitous

things magazine: Markings and territories

The Enfield Poltergeist made for an an interesting episode of The Renunion / a map of Europe’s Roman roads / South Hill Park, a Brutalist masterpiece in North London, for sale / on hull markings and plimsoll lines: the secret … Continue reading

Michael Geist: Data Rules in Modern Trade Agreements: The Video

Earlier this month, CIGI posted my essay contribution to its series on data governance in the digital age. Data Rules in Modern Trade Agreements: Toward Reconciling an Open Internet with Privacy and Security Safeguards focuses on the policy challenges associated with including data provisions in trade agreements such as the TPP and NAFTA. I also sat down with CIGI for a short video on the essay. It is embedded below.

The post Data Rules in Modern Trade Agreements: The Video appeared first on Michael Geist.

Perlsphere: Tau Station is now live!

It's been a few years in the making, but Tau Station is now live!

It's a free-to-play post-apocalyptic interstellar MMORPG that runs in a browser, tablet, or mobile. The backend is written in Perl.

Join Tau Station and let's show the world the awesome things you can do with Perl! (And hey, spend money if you can; I need to keep the lights on) :)

We follow WCAG 2.0 AA standards for accessibility (blind and mobility impaired people can play).

Tau Station is now live

OCaml Planet: The Bitcoin Piñata - no candy for you

History

On February 10th 2015 David Kaloper-Meršinjak and Hannes Mehnert launched (read also Amir's description) our bug bounty program in the form of our Bitcoin Piñata MirageOS unikernel. Thanks again to IPredator for both hosting our services and lending us the 10 Bitcoins! We analysed a bit more in depth after running it for five months. Mindy recently wrote about whacking the Bitcoin Piñata.

On March 18th 2018, after more than three years, IPredator, the lender of the Bitcoins, repurposed the 10 Bitcoins for other projects. Initially, we thought that the Piñata would maybe run for a month or two, but IPredator, David, and I decided to keep it running. The update of the Piñata's bounty is a good opportunity to reflect on the project.

The 10 Bitcoin in the Piñata were fluctuating in price over time, at peak worth 165000€.

From the start of the Piñata project, we published the source code, the virtual machine image, and the versions of the used libraries in a git repository. Everybody could develop their exploits locally before launching them against our Piñata. The Piñata provides TLS endpoints, which require private keys and certificates. These are generated by the Piñata at startup, and the secret for the Bitcoin wallet is provided as a command line argument.

Initially the Piñata was deployed on a Linux/Xen machine, later it was migrated to a FreeBSD host using BHyve and VirtIO with solo5, and in December 2017 it was migrated to native BHyve (using ukvm-bin and solo5). We also changed the Piñata code to accomodate for updates, such as the MirageOS 3.0 release, and the discontinuation of floating point numbers for timestamps (asn1-combinators 0.2.0, x509 0.6.0, tls 0.9.0).

Motivation

We built the Piñata for many purposes: to attract security professionals to evaluate our from-scratch developed TLS stack, to gather empirical data for our Usenix Security 15 paper, and as an improvement to current bug bounty programs.

Most bug bounty programs require communication via forms and long wait times for human experts to evaluate the potential bug. This evaluation is subjective, intransparent, and often requires signing of non-disclosure agreements (NDA), even before the evaluation starts.

Our Piñata automates these parts, getting rid of wait times and NDAs. To get the private wallet key that holds the bounty, you need to successfully establish an authenticated TLS session or find a flaw elsewhere in the stack, which allows to read arbitrary memory. Everyone can track transactions of the blockchain and see if the wallet still contains the bounty.

Of course, the Piñata can't prove that our stack is secure, and it can't prove that the access to the wallet is actually inside. But trust us, it is!

Observations

I still remember vividly the first nights in February 2015, being so nervous that I woke up every two hours and checked the blockchain. Did the Piñata still have the Bitcoins? I was familiar with the code of the Piñata and was afraid there might be a bug which allows to bypass authentication or leak the private key. So far, this doesn't seem to be the case.

In April 2016 we stumbled upon an information disclosure in the virtual network device driver for Xen in MirageOS. Given enough bandwidth, this could have been used to access the private wallet key. We upgraded the Piñata and released the MirageOS Security Advisory 00.

We analysed the Piñata's access logs to the and bucketed them into website traffic and bounty connections. We are still wondering what happened in July 2015 and July 2017 where the graph shows spikes. Could it be a presentation mentioning the Piñata, or a new automated tool which tests for TLS vulnerabilities, or an increase in market price for Bitcoins?

Piñata access Piñata access cumulative

The cumulative graph shows that more than 500,000 accesses to the Piñata website, and more than 150,000 attempts at connecting to the Piñata bounty.

You can short-circuit the client and server Piñata endpoint and observe the private wallet key being transferred on your computer, TLS encrypted with the secret exchanged by client and server, using socat -x TCP:ownme.ipredator.se:10000 TCP:ownme.ipredator.se:10002.

If you attempted to exploit the Piñata, please let us know what you tried! Via

[twitter](https://twitter.com/h4nnes)

hannesm@mastodon.social or a GitHub issue.

Since the start of 2018 we are developing robust software and systems at robur. If you like our work and want to support us with donations or development contracts, please get in touch with team@robur.io. Robur is a project of the German non-profit Center for the cultivation of technology. Donations to robur are tax-deductible in Europe.

Explosm.net: Comic for 2018.04.18

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

MattCha's Blog: People Prefer Their Own Puerh Storage Best


I am a believer that, as a general rule, people often prefer their own puerh storage over the storage of others.  You can position yourself on either side of the argument as to what the most optimal puerh storage is but in the end it comes down to past experiences and personal tastes.  There is an adage in puerh circles that “if the puerh is to your taste, then it is good puerh”.  This is just as true for the effect storage has on puerh as it is for the qualities we select in fresh puerh.

Recently, a wise puerh drinker suggested that you should probably get at least a few cakes of a puerh that you like because once you age it in your own unique storage, you will never be able to get that exact puerh experience from even the same batch of puerh ever again.  You may be able to get similar, if you are lucky, but never exactly the same.  Wise advice, I can personally relate to.

I can speak to my own personal experience here when restocking my puerh.  A lot of puerh I drank away is gone forever even if I had owned a tong of it, or a few cakes of it- it is gone now.  I noticed this effect when restocking the 2007 Boyu Manludashan and 2008 Mengku Wild Arbour King.  Of course there was nothing bad about the storage, some could even argue that it represents “better” storage, I suppose.  The problem was that it was not my storage- that’s it.

I feel that because puerh tea is so closely linked in our minds to our past experiences and memories of it, we automatically select this puerh storage over others.  Really, I think we are partly selecting our past memories and associations not necessarily the storage itself.   Of course, there are going to be examples of going for other storage conditions especially storage that are harder to replicate at home like Maylasian or Taiwanese for myself.

For the people who have amassed tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of pureh, who will admit to their storage actually not being good?  This is essentially devaluing their investment if they wish to sell or liquidate their puerh.

In the future, I think famous puerh personalities’ storage will create value.  “Cwyn’s famous crock storage”, “James’ famous Pumidor Storage”, “Shah8’s famous natural storage”.  Every time I read Marshal’N post about what do with bad puerh I can picture hundreds of people with their hand up saying, “Me please.”  To drink someone’s puerh is to know something deep about them, I think.  It’s to consume a part of them.  Even if to drink puerh that a famous puerh person once thought was worthy of buying but now thinks it is rubbish says something about that person.

“MattCha’s famous wrapped storage”…. Hahaha
 
I like that.

Peace

Paper Bits: Cat Ears Prototype 2 Test Run from Josh DiMauro on Vimeo.We...



Cat Ears Prototype 2 Test Run from Josh DiMauro on Vimeo.

We brought the ears out on an extremely frigid January day, and wore them to the mall.

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): Who are you? Five stories of how gender shapes identity

How does gender drive identity? And what do we mean by gender anyway? We live in an age of something far more fluid than the standard male/female dichotomy. It's not surprising many people are feeling confused. From The Stratford Festival, a discussion featuring "Radical Reverend" Cheri DiNovo, writer Rinaldo Walcott, artist Syrus Markus Ware, and trans activists and educators Kim Katrin and Tiq Milan.

OCaml Planet: Whacking the Bitcoin Piñata

@yomimono or @hannesm surely know if people have tried crowbar on the BTC Piñata. – @kensan@mastodon.social

tl;dr - yes, and it seems that ocaml-x509 is not trivially easy to trick.

Background

The Bitcoin Piñata

In 2015 David Kaloper-Mersinjak and Hannes Mehnert released ocaml-tls, an implementation of TLS (formerly known as SSL) written fully in OCaml. A full writeup of the stack is available in their Usenix Security 2015 paper, and as a series of blog posts on mirage.io. To accompany the release they also deployed a fully-automated bug bounty for the security stack – the bitcoin piñata.

The piñata will establish TLS connections only with endpoints presenting a certificate signed by its own, undisclosed certificate authority, but allows an attacker to easily listen to the encrypted traffic. The piñata always sends the same plaintext in such a connection: the private key to a wallet containing approximately 10 bitcoin. If the attacker can decrypt the ciphertext, or trick the piñata into negotiating a TLS connection with another host and disclosing the key, the information (and therefore the money) is theirs.

Crowbar

Crowbar is a library for writing tests. It combines a property-based API (like QuickCheck) with a coverage-driven generator of test cases (like the fuzzer American Fuzzy Lop). Crowbar tries to find counterexamples to stated properties by prioritizing the generation of test cases which touch more code. It is very good at finding counterexamples.

Testing ocaml-x509

TLS connections are usually authenticated via X509 certificates. ocaml-tls uses ocaml-x509 for this purpose, which is written as a standalone library. There is a clear separation of concerns between ocaml-x509 and ocaml-tls, and a straightforward API for certificate operations in ocaml-x509; both features help tremendously in writing tests for certificate handling.

Stating Tests

Of the possible operations in X509, the most interesting in the context of the BTC piñata are those related to certificate validation. We expect the piñata to check whether a certificate provided by the attacker has a trust chain to any CA it is aware of. This suggests a property we might want to find a counterexample to: * certificates signed by CA m will not be judged valid unless CA m is provided as a trust anchor.

If we can find a counterexample, we’re well on the way to getting the piñata to negotiate a TLS connection with an endpoint presenting a certificate not signed by the CA it generated at boot time.

Generating Certificates

In order to test this property, we need to be able to call X509.Validation.verify_chain_of_trust with something of type X509.CA.t (representing the certificate authority; for the piñata, this is a known and trusted value) and something of type X509.t (representing the certificate; for the piñata, this is presented by the remote host of the TLS connection).

For our tests, we’ll allow Crowbar’s random generators to specify most parts of the certificate, with the important exception of the key material – generating this randomly will cause the execution of each test to be very slow, and it’s not the goal of this testing to try to brute-force the key of our test CA.

The generators for certificates are largely automatically created by ppx_deriving_crowbar, although some manual help is needed to include generators for data types in dependencies used by X509 (and generators for their dependencies and dependencies’ dependencies). A maximalist interpretation can be seen in this iteration of the tests, which uses ppx_deriving to automatically generate equality tests and pretty-printers as well as generators for many of the relevant types.

Increasing Stability

Since we want all randomness in the test execution to be driven by the fuzzer, it’s important to remove other sources of entropy in the code execution. Luckily, ocaml-x509 and the cryptography library underneath it, nocrypto, were written considerately, and there is a facility for providing a constant seed to the pseudorandom number generator. Using the same seed across all test runs removes noise from the measurement of coverage between different test runs.

Running Tests

Tests built with the Crowbar library need to be run via afl-fuzz. To automatically launch afl-fuzz in a manner that uses all available computing resources and reports failures as quickly as possible, we used ocaml-bun. You can see the results of such a test run in Travis CI here.

The number of executions per second is appallingly low for OCaml native code running in afl-fuzz (cryptography is hard!); to compensate I ran this code over a weekend locally instead of briefly on whatever free resources Travis would give me.

Results

Many certificates with silly sets of extensions were generated:

`Priv_key_period (`Not_after (0066-02-08 09:28:58 +00:00))
`Subject_alt_name ([`EDI_party (((Some "mmmmmmmmmxmmmmmmmmmmmmmrs\146n\020sh&&&&&&&&&&.&&&'&&t\014the&w[rn Bx WrV"),
                                 "c\130 s'\186\186\186\186\186\186\186Te@rica tbiitx WrVc\127 s', or soTe@wos\127\141\018o\139\255repeeseb u"));
                                                      `Other ((0.32, "t \228ay of\015t"))])
                                                      `Priv_key_period (`Not_after (1088-06-01 06:08:11 +00:00))
`CRL_distribution_points ([((Some `Relative ([`Generation ("EEElE$EE \127\255E'EEElEEEYE$EE\151ai4RgEbEE\151a\214\214\214\235\214\214\214\214bnt\225")
                                               ])),
                            None,
                            (Some [`Surname ("~~~~~~~~~~EEEYE$EEB\127\255E'EEElEEEYE$EE\151a\214\214\214\235\214\214\214\214\214\214\214\214\214\214\214\214\198\214\214\214\215\214\214\214\214 \214")
                                    ]))
                            ])
`Certificate_issuer ([])
`Policies ([`Something (0.36.3703494230495416691)])`Certificate_issuer (
[])
`Subject_alt_name ([`Other ((2.2839008736452811263, "\140abbi\131\129\b',"));
                     `URI ("'[cay@")])

As we hoped, a certificate signed by the wrong CA with these sets of extensions don’t validate. ocaml-x509 isn’t tricked by arbitrarily ridiculous sets of extensions in a signed certificate, and I didn’t manage to steal any bitcoin.

None of this work targets ocaml-tls or any of the more general parts of the stack run by the piñata. Notably, neither tcpip which provides the TCP, IPv4, and Ethernet implementations, nor any of the hypervisor-specific virtual network devices, are examined by this work. (This includes mirage-net-xen, the originator of the only MirageOS security advisory to date.) With releases of all tooling used to test ocaml-x509 available via opam, this is easier to rectify than it previously was!

Acknowledgements

Thanks to OCaml Labs for funding this work, IPredator for stuffing the piñata, and robur.io for future and continuing work in building resilient systems.

Daniel Lemire's blog: Iterating in batches over data structures can be much faster…

We often need to iterate over the content of data structures. It is surprisingly often a performance bottleneck in big-data applications. Most iteration code works one value at a time…

for value in datastructure {
  do something with value
}

There is a request to the data structure for a new value at each iteration. Alternatively, we can query the data structure far less often by asking the data structure to fill a buffer…

for blockofvalues datastructure {
  for value in blockofvalues {
      do something with value
  }
}

It is not automatically faster: you have to store values to a buffer and then read them again. It involves copying data from registers to memory and back. There is some inherent latency and it is an extra step.

However, if you make your buffer large enough but not too large (e.g., 1kB), the latency will not matter much and you will remain in CPU cache (fast memory). Thus you should, in the worst case, be only slightly slower. What do I mean by “slightly”? Basically, you are adding the equivalent of a memory copy over a small buffer.

When accessing data over a network, or even across processes on the same machine, it worth it to process the data in batches because the cost of the transaction is high. When working in data structures that are in your own process, the transaction cost might be low. Repeated function calls in a loop are cheap, and they can become free after inlining. To my knowledge, batched iterations is not typically available in standard libraries.

Thus, until recently, I did not pay much attention to the idea of iterating in batches over data structures. I could imagine some gains, but I expected them to be small.

In the Go implementation of Roaring bitmaps, Ben Shaw contributed a way to iterate over values in batches, recovering many values in a buffer with each function call. It helped the performance considerably (almost doubling the speed on some tests). Richard Startin then did the same in the Java implementation. It also helped a lot:

The batch iterator is always at least twice as fast as the standard iterator (…) Depending on the contents and size of the bitmap, the batch iterator can be 10x faster.

So I started to wonder… is this an underrated strategy?

I modified the popular Go bitset library and on some iteration test, the batched iteration was nearly twice as fast!

The batched code is more complex, but not so terrible:

buffer := make([]uint, 256)
j := uint(0)
j, buffer = bitmap.NextSetMany(j, buffer)
for ; len(buffer) > 0; j, buffer = bitmap.NextSetMany(j, buffer) {
     for k := range buffer {
        // do something with buffer[k]
     }
     j += 1
}

Then I modified the cbitset library. I saw, again, almost a doubling of the speed. The code is once more a bit more complicated:

size_t buffer[256];
size_t howmany = 0;
for(size_t startfrom = 0; 
         (howmany = nextSetBits(b1,buffer,256, &startfrom)) > 0 ;
          startfrom++) {
       for(size_t i = 0; i < howmany ; i++) {
         // do something with  buffer[i];
       }
}

These good results depend on what kind of data you iterate over, how you use the data, and what kind of data structure you have. Obviously, it is useless to batch iterations over an array of values. Yet my few tests provide enough evidence to conclude that batch iteration is worth investigating when speed is a limitation.

On Twitter, Milosz Tanski explained the result as follows:

One thing to remember about CPU and optimization in general is that almost hardware is designed to operate at maximum speed when it’s doing similar work on similar data. Branch prediction, prefetch, caches, op code level parallelization all make this assumption.

TheSirensSound: The Cenozoic Implosion by Wanheda

Melancholic melodic songs from a dark confined space.

Wanheda is an emotional blend of post-rock and post-metal.

TheSirensSound: New single Always by Zkeletonz

'Always' is the third single from postpop trio Zkeletonz. It builds on momentum from their first two releases ’Trouble’ and ‘Don't Cover It Up’, which received support from Sunday Brunch, BBC Introducing and the Birmingham Mail. This new release has already secured radio play from John Kennedy on Radio X.

Despite overt sentimentality, 'Always' is not a classic love song. It tells the story of a partner's move to the big city after months and years of making things work long distance. 'Always' was the 1st ever postpop song Zkeletonz wrote together at Kafri Studios in London's East End.

TheSirensSound: Dream within a Dream by Marva Von Theo

Marva Von Theo is an Electropop / Synthwave duo formed in 2016 by the Athens-based singer-songwriter Marva Voulgari and the Vienna-based composer-producer Theo Foinidis.

Their Debut Album “Dream within a Dream” was released early in 2018. The 12 songs on their Album, lean towards an electronic sound that incorporates a variety of influences ranging from the music of the 80’s until today. Darkwave sounds, Jazz harmonies, Rock and Dance drum beats resonate together and mature into something darkly romantic.

The vocals weave this electronic veil with soul, trip-hop, and pop textures, retaining an inner tension that seduces the listener and drifts him along in a sentimental, melancholic trip inside the personal stories that are concealed in the lyrics.

The passion of Marva Von Theo for experimentation is evident in their compositions, seeking a way to surpass the identification or imitation of one specific genre and offer the listener the opportunity to feel and interpret the music differently upon every listen. Like a song within a song, like a “Dream within a Dream”.

TheSirensSound: New album Clear Future by Iain Belcher

"Clear Future" is a result of 4 years chipping away, layering instruments one after another. It shows a big evolution and maturity over previous releases like "Simple Builds", as the focus of the music that was previously on VST-Instruments, turns to live instrumentation and a more cohesive sound. The recording is raw like an early Appleseed Cast, or Dismemberment Plan album as I did it myself, but multiple listens brings out more  - like a Daniel Johnston effect. The album ranges from smooth instrumentals, technical math-rock sections, more mainstream grooves, and post-rock builds. 

Tea Masters: The many faces of spring

The cycle of the seasons is a recurring theme in Chinese culture and paintings. Celebrating spring (east), summer (south), fall (west) and winter (north) is so universal and almost common that it can feel boring. Are you still with me or are you already bored by the subject?! Let's turn to Kuo Hsi (1000-1090) a famous Sung dynasty landscape painter to make spring more interesting. He reminds us that there are infinite numbers of distinctions within the spring season: morning or evening, early spring or late spring, sunny, cloudy or rainy, cold cool or warm, snow in spring, misty after rain... The change from one state to another can happen dramatically, within moments.

Take these 2 pictures from the San Hsia tea plantation where my BiLuoChun comes from, for instance. They were taken just 13 minutes apart! Sunshine and clouds change the colors, the warmth of the picture, which then conveys a different feeling. With these observations, we also come closer to the meaning of Northern Sung landscape paintings. It's the creation of mental images that express ideas and emotions. 
New tea bush in San Hsia, northern Taiwan
The main idea behind most shan shui (mountain and water) paintings is the vastness of an orderly Universe in which man is almost insignificant, but lives an harmonious life with nature. (See this example: 'Early Spring' by Kuo Hsi and this video for more explanations). There are some recurring symbols that are important to know to understand landscape paintings, but the most important remains the state of mind, the feeling:
- the tallest mountain, often in the center, is a symbol for the State, the emperor. It dominates all other mountains,
- rocky mountains are like the bones of the earth. They are kernels of energy,
- smaller than the mountains, trees represent the enduring life. Pine trees are often symbols for the virtuous man in the wilderness,
- man is depicted smaller than trees and looks almost insignificant. He's sometimes on a path toward a temple in the mountain, which means a spiritual journey.
Today was cloudy, rainy and not a suitable day for harvesting tea. That's why I stayed home and felt like brewing a different kind of spring tea. Can you guess which tea I've chosen here above?

It's a spring 2005 BiLuoChun from Jiangsu! It's the highest quality there is: single buds harvested right before QingMing festival! (For green tea, the hand harvest is the most important cost factor: picking just 1 bud takes twice as much effort than picking 1 bud and 1 leaf at a time. And the earlier the tea is harvested in the season, the smaller are the buds and buds, which means the yield of a picker will be smallest for the same amount of work.
This Chaxi turns into a living landscape painting! It's just like what Kuo Hsi observed: "How delightful to enjoy a landscape painting rendered by a skillful hand! Without leaving one's home, to be transported to streams and ravines in faraway places, the cries of monkeys and birds faintly reaching one's ears, light dappling the hills, glittering reflections on the water dazzling the eye." Drinking tea is also a journey to where it came from.
The tea's taste adds another dimension that a painting doesn't have! In this case, the tea's light orange color is a good fit with the cloudy weather. The taste starts warmer and sweeter than a young green tea. But it has retained the same finesse and aftertaste. And what's amazing is that the freshness is still there, underneath or beyond the current dark flavors.
This cool river freshness comes from the brown open leaves, which is the theme of this Chabu! And like a northern Sung painting, my Chaxi tries to go beyond symbols. It reaches outward to recreate an harmonious nature. This then helps me, the brewer, to reach inward to master the mind and then satisfy my thirst!
When tea meets shan shui painting.

Michael Geist: Digital Trends and Initiatives in Education: The Study the Association of Canadian Publishers Tried To Bury

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology starts its year-long review of copyright today with the first of several hearings focused on copyright, education and fair dealing. The hearings begin with evidence from education groups to be followed by publishers and other rights holder representatives (sources indicate that Access Copyright declined an invitation but will presumably return at a later date). The Association of Canadian Publishers, the leading national publisher lobby, has been one of the most vocal groups on copyright and will likely appear to tell MPs that fair dealing should be narrowed.

While the ACP has not hesitated to speak out at industry events, it interestingly has said nothing about a study it commissioned on digital trends and initiatives in education in Canada. The ACP study, which received financial support from the Government of Canada and the Ontario Media Development Corporation, is not posted on the publicly available portion of its website. There was no press release when it was released last June and I can find no public reference to it anywhere on the site. Jean Dryden pointed out to me that the study is available through the OMDC.

The ACP’s effort to bury its own study is unsurprising once you read it. The ACP commissioned it “to better understand the digital trends and initiatives in education and how these trends and initiatives are impacting the acquisition and use of Canadian content in the K–12 and post-secondary sectors.” After months of interviews, roundtables, and consultations with teachers, institutions, and publishers, the 70 page report identified many trends and issues, but copyright is not among them. In fact, despite the ACP’s insistence in lobbying efforts that copyright is at the heart of publisher concerns, copyright and fair dealing are limited to a single reference with no discussion or analysis. Instead, the ACP’s study confirms much of what the education community has been saying, namely that the combination of open educational resources and paid access is driving the educational shift to digital, not fair dealing.

The ACP study examines the availability of open educational resources, describing it as an emerging cornerstone of the educational system:

The OER movement continues to grow and is becoming a cornerstone of the Canadian K–12 educational system. The proliferation of OER content is evident across the country and there are numerous initiatives that support the development, access, and distribution of content.

The study notes that OERs form part of the key sources of materials for education:

While the use of digital content is increasing, print-based resources continue to be widely used in Canadian classrooms to support and enhance learning. The shift from print to digital resource use varies from province-to-province, district-to-district, school-to-school, and classroom-to-classroom. Some jurisdictions and schools continue to purchase print-based supplementary resources and some are acquiring core curriculum resources that include digital components. Others are shifting from print-based textbooks to eTextbooks. Some are purchasing very few resources, making do with what they have until funding for new resources is available and/or the technology and technical infrastructure is in place. Meanwhile, teachers and students have access to more free and open content than ever before given the ubiquity of content via the Internet, as well as the proliferation of content repositories, databases, portals, and applications.

In a review of sources of materials, there is no reference to fair dealing or copyright. However, there are numerous references commonly licensed or free digital content collections or databases, none of which implicate Access Copyright or its licence.

The ACP study acknowledges the huge investment by education groups in digital products offered by publishers:

Digital supplements as well as eBooks available from the major educational publishers have pushed digital sales to more than 50% of their educational revenue. Pearson reports that digital products now account for more than 50% of their revenue and McGraw-Hill announced that digital unit sales overtook print unit sales in its U.S. Higher Education Group in 2015. Although eBooks are the cornerstone of publishers’ digital offerings, digital courseware such as assessment and testing software and homework or study guides are becoming more popular with instructors and students.

The report emphasizes the importance of Canadian content by highlighting the many sources of content with no reference or concern with copyright law given the paid and openly licensed sources:

It was abundantly clear from everyone we interviewed throughout our research that Canadian content is considered to be a critically important component in the delivery of education across all levels from K–12 to post-secondary. However, reduced spending on educational resources, the transition from print to digital resources, the ubiquitous nature of content available from the Internet, and a lack of clear policy on the use of Canadian content (particularly in K–12) has shown a diminished use of Canadian resources licensed or purchased from Canadian publishers for use in schools.

The report provides several recommendations, none of which involve copyright reform. The study is a good one, based on dozens of interviews and a thorough canvassing of the sources of materials in Canadian schools. While the ACP regularly cites copyright as a key issue, its own study – that it has not even posted on its publicly available portion of its site – is far more consistent with the views of the education community, which is spending record amounts on digital materials and making increasing use of the wide range of openly licensed works.

The post Digital Trends and Initiatives in Education: The Study the Association of Canadian Publishers Tried To Bury appeared first on Michael Geist.

OCaml Weekly News: OCaml Weekly News, 17 Apr 2018

  1. Lwt 4.0.0 — a major cleanup of the repo
  2. OCaml port of JS CUID library
  3. Calling Java function from OCaml
  4. Follow up to: Status of the OCaml RISC-V port (repost)
  5. Camomile 1.0.0 is released
  6. OCaml Documentation Open Thread
  7. dune (jbuilder) 1.0+beta20
  8. opaline - OPAm Lightweight INstaller Engine
  9. 4.07.0+beta2
  10. OCamlPro is hiring
  11. First ever rc release of llpp
  12. Tezos Tezos is recruiting!
  13. Sightings of OCaml around the Web
  14. findlib-1.8.0
  15. Would it be possible to add automatic, region-based memory management to OCaml?
  16. Ocaml Github Pull Requests
  17. Other OCaml News

Explosm.net: Comic for 2018.04.17

New Cyanide and Happiness Comic

Daniel Lemire's blog: Introducing GapminderVR: Data Visualization in Virtual Reality

I am a big fan of sites such as Gapminder and Our World in Data. Such data visualization sites are like intellectual pornography. You want to know which countries are doing better? Which continents drink more alcohol? How is alcohol related to GDP? Have people getting fatter recently, or is that a long trend? You don’t need to read thick books, you can just browse graphs.

I’m also a big fan of virtual reality (VR). In February 2016, I placed a bet against Greg Linden to the effect that by 2019, we would sell at least 10 million VR units a year worldwide. I might very well lose my bet but what is surely correct is that VR is part of our future. It is going to be everywhere, soon… where “soon” remains to be defined, but it is not 30 years.

What if you could mix data visualization and VR? What would happen? Could you make new things that nobody could think of before? I think so. That’s another one of my bets… but unlike my bet with Greg Linden, it is a bet I took by investing time and money in my lab.

To be fair, the idea that you could use data visualization in VR has been around for at least 20 years. It has gone exactly nowhere.

Why would it be different now?

The most obvious factor is cost. VR is much cheaper than it ever were, and it is getting cheaper by the day. And it is not just the hardware. The software is getting better and cheaper. This means that many of us can try new things and iterate much faster than ever before. If we can gather enough heads together, we will get somewhere.

If the work remains limited to a few academics, it is never going to take off. We need to engineers, designers and programmers to jump in.

In my lab, we decided to spend a few months building prototypes of what is possible in VR. We are publishing as demos two interesting cases:

  • Rail of time is a demo where you can control the time dimension with your feet (by walking). Walk forward and the time goes forward. Walk backward and the time goes backward. (YouTube)
  • Museum is a demo where you can visit a museum where the statues represent countries at a given time. The various attributes of the statues represent the various dimensions of the data. (YouTube)

If you have VR headset, you can try our demos in our site: GapminderVR.org. The name of the site is meant to pay homage to Gapminder and to the work of Hans Rosling. All our code is public and you can “steal” it. Or get in touch and we will help you. We hope to inspire future work. If you are interested in helping out, get in touch. If you can do better, please let us know about your work.

The design and programming work was done by Niko Girardelli. He is a super brilliant engineering student, and someone ought to offer him a six-figure job. Yet, to be fair, the programming is less demanding than you might expect. It is all JavaScript in the browser. And yes, the performance is decent. We owe a lot of credit to Mozilla and their work on WebVR. It is amazing.

OCaml Planet: Coq 8.8.0 is out

The final release of Coq 8.8.0 is available. It features better performances, tactic improvements, many enhancements for universe users, a new Export modifier for setting options, support for goal selectors in front of focusing brackets and a new experimental -mangle-names option for linting proof scripts. Feedback and bug reports are extremely welcome.

OUR VALUED CUSTOMERS: While criticizing the historical documentary BILL and TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE...


Planet Lisp: Lispjobs: Senior Lisp Developer, RavenPack, Marabella, Spain

See: https://www.ravenpack.com/careers/common-lisp-developer

As a Common Lisp Developer, you will be part of the Analytics team which is in charge of the development and maintenance of applications that, among other things, extract data from incoming news and deliver user and machine-friendly analytics to customers.

You will be reporting directly to the Analytics Manager and will work with an international team of developers skilled in Common Lisp, Java, Python and SQL.

The ability to communicate effectively in English both in writing and verbally is a must. Knowledge of Spanish is not a business requirement. European Union legal working status is required. Competitive compensation and a fun working environment. Relocation assistance is available, but remote working is not a possibility for this position.

Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights): It's Alive! - Frankenstein at 200

In 1818, the world was introduced to an entirely new kind of monster. Mary Shelley published Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus and for two centuries her creation has stalked the stage, then the screen; inspired art, and filled the pages of countless sequels and comic books. Frankenstein's creature has become the most famous monster of the modern era.

Planet Lisp: Lispjobs: Junior Lisp Developer, RavenPack, Marbella, Spain

See: https://www.ravenpack.com/careers/junior-common-lisp-developer

At RavenPack we are searching for a Junior Common Lisp Developer to join RavenPack's Development Team.

As a Junior Common Lisp Developer, you will be part of the Analytics team which is in charge of the development and maintenance of applications that, among other things, extract data from incoming news and delivers machine-friendly analytics to customers.

You will be reporting directly to the Analytics Manager and will work with an international team of developers skilled in Common Lisp, Java, Python and SQL.

The ability to communicate effectively in English both in writing and verbally is a must. Knowledge of Spanish is not a business requirement. European Union legal working status is required. Competitive compensation and a fun working environment. Relocation assistance available, but working remotely is not possible for this position.

new shelton wet/dry: Yes, tid. There’s where.

Twelve years ago, my now-Bloomberg colleague Joe Weisenthal proposed that startups that planned to disrupt an established industry should short the stock of the incumbents in that industry. That way, if they were right — if they were able to undercut big established public companies — then they’d get rich as those public companies [...]

new shelton wet/dry: Time to rebuild the

Across four experiments participants chose between two versions of a stimulus which either had an attractive left side or an attractive right side. […] In each experiment participants showed a significant bias to choose the stimulus with an attractive left side more than the stimulus with an attractive right side. The leftward bias emerged at age [...]

new shelton wet/dry: What then can Kant mean by his mysterious suggestion that ‘objects must conform to our cognition’?

The image of the world that we see is continuously deformed and fragmented by foreshortenings, partial overlapping, and so on, and must be constantly reassembled and interpreted; otherwise, it could change so much that we would hardly recognize it. Since pleasure has been found to be involved in visual and cognitive information processing, the possibility [...]

s mazuk: omgthatdress: Bracelet 1940s 1stdibs.com



omgthatdress:

Bracelet

1940s

1stdibs.com

The Shape of Code: The C++ committee has taken off its ball and chain

A step change in the approach to updates and additions to the C++ Standard occurred at the recent WG21 meeting, or rather a change that has been kind of going on for a few meetings has been documented and discussed. Two bullet points at the start of “C++ Stability, Velocity, and Deployment Plans [R2]”, grab reader’s attention:

● Is C++ a language of exciting new features?
● Is C++ a language known for great stability over a long period?

followed by the proposal (which was agreed at the meeting): “The Committee should be willing to consider the design / quality of proposals even if they may cause a change in behavior or failure to compile for existing code.”

We have had 30 years of C++/C compatibility (ok, there have been some nibbling around the edges over the last 15 years). A remarkable achievement, thanks to Bjarne Stroustrup over 30+ years and 64 full-week standards’ meetings (also, Tom Plum and Bill Plauger were engaged in shuttle diplomacy between WG14 and WG21).

The C/C++ superset/different issue has a long history.

In the late 1980s SC22 (the top-level ISO committee for programming languages) asked WG14 (the C committee) whether a standard should be created for C++, and if so did WG14 want to create it. WG14 considered the matter at its April 1989 meeting, and replied that in its view a standard for C++ was worth considering, but that the C committee were not the people to do it.

In 1990, SC22 started a study group to look into whether a working group for C++ should be created and in the U.S. X3 (the ANSI committee responsible for Information processing systems) set up X3J16. The showdown meeting of what would become WG21, was held in London, March 1992 (the only ISO C++ meeting I have attended).

The X3J16 people were in London for the ISO meeting, which was heated at times. The two public positions were: 1) work should start on a standard for C++, 2) C++ was not yet mature enough for work to start on a standard.

The, not so public, reason given for wanting to start work on a standard was to stop, or at least slow down, changes to the language. New releases, rumored and/or actual, of Cfront were frequent (in a pre-Internet time sense). Writing large applications in a version of C++ that was replaced with something sightly different six months later had developers in large companies pulling their hair out.

You might have thought that compiler vendors would be happy for the language to be changing on a regular basis; changes provide an incentive for users to pay for compiler upgrades. In practice the changes were so significant that major rework was needed by somebody who knew what they were doing, i.e., expensive people had to be paid; vendors were more used to putting effort into marketing minor updates. It was claimed that implementing a C++ compiler required seven times the effort of implementing a C compiler. I have no idea how true this claim might have been (it might have been one vendor’s approximate experience). In the 1980s everybody and his dog had their own C compiler and most of those who had tried, had run into a brick wall trying to implement a C++ compiler.

The stop/slow down changing C++ vs. let C++ “fulfill its destiny” (a rallying call from the AT&T rep, which the whole room cheered) finally got voted on; the study group became a WG (I cannot tell you the numbers; the meeting minutes are not online and I cannot find a paper copy {we had those until the mid/late-90s}).

The creation of WG21 did not have the intended effect (slowing down changes to the language); Stroustrup joined the committee and C++ evolution continued apace. However, from the developers’ perspective language change did slow down; Cfront changes stopped because its code was collapsing under its own evolutionary weight and usable C++ compilers became available from other vendors (in the early days, Zortech C++ was a major boost to the spread of usage).

The last WG21 meeting had 140 people on the attendance list; they were not all bored consultants looking for a creative outlet (i.e., exciting new features), but I’m sure many would be happy to drop the ball-and-chain (otherwise known as C compatibility).

I think there will be lots of proposals that will break C compatibility in one way or another and some will make it into a published standard. The claim will be that the changes will make life easier for future C++ developers (a claim made by proponents of every language, for which there is zero empirical evidence). The only way of finding out whether a change has long term benefit is to wait a long time and see what happens.

The interesting question is how C++ compiler vendors will react to breaking changes in the language standard. There are not many production compilers out there these days, i.e., not a lot of competition. What incentive does a compiler vendor have to release a version of their compiler that will likely break existing code? Compiler validation, against a standard, is now history.

If WG21 make too many breaking changes, they could find C++ vendors ignoring them and developers asking whether the ISO C++ standards’ committee is past its sell by date.


churchturing.org / 2018-04-22T23:58:27