Tag Archives: stupid

The Apocalypticon ~ Capitalism over, data, disease, climate, guns, funs and hell

How many days do Americans waste commuting? Too many! (Red is the worst, at 56-77 days!)

Another week, another slew of terrors — Capitalism as we know it is over, or so suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General. [Bull, you say? Maybe we’re just over capitalism.] Climate change and species extinctions are accelerating even as societies are experiencing rising inequality, unemployment, slow economic growth, rising debt levels, and impotent governments. [I’m starting to wish I lived in uninteresting times.]
Just to get you in the mood: 9 movies about AI becoming self aware and killing us.

Talking about data — The voting records of some 14.8 million Texas residents were left exposed online and eventually got discovered by a data breach hunter in New Zealand. [Gotta love the ’net.]
MacAfee’s ‘unhackable’ storage was … hacked. Yep, computer programmer John McAfee released “the world’s first un-hackable storage for cryptocurrency & digital assets”, a US$120 device called the Bitfi wallet, that McAfee claimed contained no software or storage. McAfee was so sure of its security that it launched with a bug bounty inviting researchers to try and hack the wallet in return for a $250,000 award. Lo and behold, a researcher by the name of Andrew Tierney managed to hack the wallet, but … Bitfi declined to pay out!
Facebook and the Myanmar genocide — Facebook announced it has banned several members of the Myanmar military and organisations that were named by the United Nations as complicit in the genocide. Way too slowly to do any good, of course.
LinkedIn spying — The United States’ top spy catcher said Chinese espionage agencies are using fake LinkedIn accounts to try to recruit Americans with access to government and commercial secrets, and the company should shut them down. [How will this look on your resumé?]
India’s biometric database is creating a perfect surveillance state — And US tech companies are helping.
What’s Crap? Is OK, I will tell you: WhatsApp users on Android will be able to back up their messages to Google Drive for free and it won’t count towards Google Drive storage quotas … yay! But, as WhatsApp warns, those messages will no longer be protected by end-to-end encryption. Boo.
Trump spits Google dummy — President Trump says Google search results for ‘Trump News’ show only negative coverage about him. [Jeeze, can’t work out why … must be a plot.] A few hours later, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration is “taking a look” at whether Google and its search engine should be regulated by the government. [Lol. Yeah, that’s exactly what Goebbels would have wanted.]

How many days do Americans waste commuting?  Educated Driver used Census Bureau data on average daily roundtrip commute times in hundreds of cities across the US to calculate how much time Americans spend traveling to and from work over the course of their lives, assuming a 45-year career working 250 days a year.
Speaking of Americans, who got Cohen’s $50-thou? Cohen seems to have been a very busy boy, with legal documents showing he made a $US50,000 ($68,560) payment to an unidentified “technology company during and in connection with the campaign.” The unknown payment suggests Cohen may have been doing more for Trump, and for the Trump campaign, than simply paying off people Trump had been bonking on the side.
Amid mounting acrimony with NATO, Russia’s military has announced plans to hold its “biggest exercises since 1981.” The country’s defence ministry says the massive exercise will involve some 300,000 Russian troops, more than 1000 aircraft plus the participation of some Chinese and Mongolian units.

On health — In a dangerous twist to Ebola, outbreaks are starting to crop up in distant areas. It could already be the worst outbreak to date.
Store-bought chicken could be causing UTIs — A new study published in mBio suggest urinary tract infections could be coming from Escherichia coli bacteria transmitted via poultry.
China withholds flu data — For over a year, the Chinese government has withheld lab samples of a rapidly evolving influenza virus from scientists in the United States. Specimens are needed to develop vaccines and treatments, according to federal health officials talking to The New York Times.
Pollution sapping our nutrients — According to new research, rising carbon dioxide levels will sap some of the nutrients from our crops and lead to dietary deficiencies in millions of humans. In 2014, field trials of common food crops including wheat, rice, corn and soybeans showed that as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased, the levels of iron, zinc and protein decreased in the dietary staples by 3 to 17%. This could have a big impact in poorer nations.

Climate — We’re living in hell. The image above, created by NASA’s Earth Observatory, has red representing soot, purple showing dust, and blue for sea salt. Central Africa is awash in smoke from farmers clearing land for crops. And those little glowing specks across China, the eastern US, India and Europe are cities where air pollution from cars and buildings is strong enough to create a clear signal to satellites.
Air pollution is making us stupid — Air pollution causes a ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health. [Ah, weren’t we stupid to create air pollution in the first place?] High pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
Japan to get a ‘most powerful’ storm — A dangerous super typhoon currently packing 274km/h winds could make landfall in Japan shortly. [Jebi nights.]
Sea level rise may seem like a far-off threat — But a growing number of new studies, including one out this week, shows that real estate markets have already started responding to increased flooding risks by reducing prices of vulnerable homes. [Aw, sucks to be you, right?]

On the lighter side — Police officers in Paraguay found that at least 42 of their battle rifles had been stolen from their armoury and replaced with toy replicas. It’s unclear if a flag with the word BANG! written on it popped out of the barrels.
Adopting Mediterranean diet in old age can prolong life, a new study suggests. The diet is typically said to be rich in fish, nuts, fresh vegetables, olive oil and fruit. [So that’s my secret?]

Excerpt from my forthcoming book: “Water absorption by the human body happens pretty fast – within five minutes of entering your mouth, it’s starting to filter into your bloodstream, with peak absorption hitting at around 20 minutes – but water at body temperature is absorbed more slowly than cold water, in case you were wondering why we instinctively prefer cooler water when we’re thirsty. “

Tuesday Talk ~ Apple is crazy, stupid, brilliant, game-changing …


The opinions about Apple have always covered the range from ‘it’s extremely terrible’ to ‘Apple is insanely great’. Back in the Mac-only days, people either hated Apple because they used PCs, or loved Apple because they used Apple. Usually the PC users had no experience of Apple at all, and simply scoffed at what they considered an expensive, outsider machine. It was, to be fair, both of those things – and the first criticism still applies, although value for money is assured – but now that Apple is so massive, so ubiquitous, so wealthy, the criticisms have remained strong but they have shifted focus. Now people criticise Apple for not introducing a game-changing next new thing every few months.

For a long time, once the iPhone was introduced, people would echo what developers were saying: that Apple was a closed shop, an exclusive ecosystem, a walled garden. That’s because Apple never made iOS open to developers in the way Google’s Android was. This meant that while iOS was more secure, the updates were controlled rather than open slather. The user experience was consistent, which of course is great for users. And apps had to fit Apple’s development and user interface guidelines. All these favoured the users, for obvious reasons (consistent experience, security, stability) but some developers chafed. And that’s why there’s such a confusion of Android systems out there now. Will an app work with your Android system? Who knows. Will your app work with your particular device? Who knows.
And for these reasons, the developer criticism has subsided.

Partly, perhaps, Apple’s refocused emphasis on its developer community (via WWDC) has been responsible for a happier Apple development climate. They feel loved again. Swift, aApple’s faster, easier coding system, really helped too.
But I remember when the Windows Phone was introduced to New Zealand. I talked to developers who had experienced Microsoft engineers being assigned to them one-to-one to help them with their progress. This was very, very far from what Apple developers, at least in New Zealand, were used to. Apple basically gives you the tools, makes resources available and off you go. Good luck! But that, of course, has been a very successful policy – the app developer community is vast, the apps available bountiful. And Swift Playgrounds, once it comes out for iPad, is an ingenious way to bring this approach to kids. (And me.) Meanwhile, Microsoft’s late entry into the smartphone market was a huge, embarrassing flop.

This year, Apple will no doubt release an iPhone 7, hopefully (and it looks increasingly likely) a new MacBook Pro, and maybe a new, second version of the Watch. These will probably be incrementally, rather than fundamentally, better than the models they replace. They will greatly please Apple users.
They will greatly displease the haters, who want entirely new products they can then scoff at.
It’s all par for the course, really.

Normally-Off Macs, doomed soaring stupid brilliant Apple, Outlook to very belatedly get the ability to resize images.


Future Macs could be Normally-Off — If a research team in Japan gets its wish, Normally-Off computers may one day soon be replacing present computers. Normally-Off is a method of computing that aggressively powers off components of computer systems when they don’t need to operate [like modern cars that turns themselves off when they’re idling, even at the lights, then on again when you accelerate].
Such a development would eliminate volatile memory, which requires power to maintain stored data, and reduce the energy losses associated with it. Most parts of present computers are made with volatile devices such as transistors and dynamic random access memory (DRAM), which loses information when powered off.: current computers are designed on the premise that power is ‘normally on.’

Apple is doomed, soaring , stupid, brilliant … which is it? Apple is a very large company, so big that it’s impossible to quantify it overall. Only specific elements of the company can be characterised. As such, writes John Martellero, it makes no sense to label Apple as a whole because some elements are failing and some are flourishing. This leads to my rule #1 for a large company.

Outlook for Mac will soon let you resize images and try new fonts
The new email editor will start to roll out in May — Microsoft is revamping the email editor in Outlook for Mac, providing new options for working with images and adding new fonts.
The biggest change is the ability to resize [you know, like Mail has been able to do for over a decade already] and rotate images. If you insert a very large image, for instance, you’ll soon be able to make it more reasonably-sized for email recipients. [You know, like Mail … I’ve never understood how people can prefer Outlook to Mail.]