Friday, April 27, 2018

Small things 27 Apr

  • Some days, my idea of a reduced carb diet is eating peanut butter with a spoon.
  • It would be funny if a biology or physics teacher had a little joke at students' expense by showing them a black lung and insisting that this is what oxygen does to the lung - it makes it rust on the inside.
  • "I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."  ~Stephen Hawking
  • The scariest thing at school should be a pop quiz.
  • I think in a few years Elon Musk is going to miss his old Tesla roadster and wish he didn't launch it into space. Then he's going to try and launch a rocket to try and retrieve it.
  • Banker pick-up line: "Are you a loan, because you're gaining my interest." Appropriate come-back: "Are you a banker, because leave me a loan."
  • Elon Musk is making a sequel of the movie "Dude, where's my car?"

Parenting today

How to be a parent in 2018:

Make sure your children’s academic, emotional, psychological, mental, spiritual, physical, and social needs are met while being careful not to over stimulate, underestimate, improperly medicate, helicopter, or neglect them in a screen free, processed foods free, GMO free, negative energy free, plastic free, body positive, socially conscious, egalitarian but also authoritative, nurturing but fostering of independence, gentle but not overly permissive, pesticide-free two-storey, multilingual home preferably in a cul-de-sac with a backyard and 1.5 siblings spaced at least two years apart for proper development. Also don’t forget the coconut oil.

How to be a parent in literally every generation before ours:

Feed them sometimes.

Neil still ruining sci-fi movies

Things I learned lately 27 Apr

  • Abba is writing material for a new album.
  • You can ask for a 'round egg' at McDonalds to get the real egg. So like, order a Big Breakfast with the round egg and you won't get the powdered egg.
  • Ford plans on killing off sedans in its lineup. This is partly due to Trump's tariffs.
  • Fewer than 10% of people in Norway use cash.
  • Best headline seen this year: Uranus smells like farts, astronomers have confirmed — which could indicate there was 'a big shakeup' early in the solar system.
  • Amazon Prime members who own a car equipped with OnStar or Volvo's On Call will be able to choose Amazon Key delivery, where the package is put in your car's trunk.
  • YouTube has revealed the scale of the task it faces in removing videos that violate its terms. The platform pulled down 8.3 million videos just between October and December 2017. Pulled videos were under the categories of: Sexual: 30.01%; Spam or misleading: 26.4%; Hateful or abusive: 15.6%; Violent or repulsive: 13.5%; Harmful dangerous acts: 7.6%; Child abuse: 5.2%; Promotes terrorism: 1.6%.

Save the balance for the last sentence?

Here is an example of what I find hypocritical of some media.

In a tasty article on CTV's website, we start with a controversial headline 'Outrage in Alberta after feds discovered funding anti-pipeline group'. The article goes on to say that a position is being filled, paid for by a federal summer jobs grant, that will be involved in helping coordinate Kinder Morgan pipeline protests. Oh no! Bad Liberals! Jason Kenney, now UCP leader, formerly of the previous federal Conservative government, weighs in. 'This is what you get with Trudeau, [etc.]'.

In a short statement at the very end of the article, they throw in this little nugget. 'The same position was funded by the Conservative party when they were in power'. That kind of changes the whole point of the commentary, doesn't it? Liberals bad! Bad Liberals! Justin is bad! Oh wait, the last guy did the same thing. The article is rendered meaningless in my mind, but of course Trudeau haters won't make it past the first or second paragraph to see the balance.

So let's review, shall we? Did the former Conservative government give a grant for this position? Yes. Did they champion the controversial pipeline? Nope. Did the Liberals give a grant for this position? Yes. Did they champion the pipeline? Yes. So who exactly is the bad guy here?

Also, it's such a big story, Albertans are so enraged, that the story made it into no other media outlets. Media bias in full bloom.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Small things 21 Apr

  • Back in the day, if you were 'live streaming', basically you were fishing.
  • Bananas, nuts and crackers. 3 food words that also mean crazy.
  • If it's so normal and well intended, why don't men tell other men to smile? Or that they look great.
  • The only thing flat earthers fear...... is sphere itself.
  • If you ever see a cat meowing at the front door of their home, just sneak up to the door, ring the doorbell and run. When the owner comes to the door, they'll think maybe the cat rang the doorbell.

We get it poets

Things I learned lately 21 Apr

  • It's not just living spaces in Hong Kong that are expensive — a car space in Kowloon City district was just rented out for HK$10,000 (US$1,274) a month, making it the city's most expensive rented car park. Property agents confirmed the 135 sq ft park was rented on Monday in the residential Ho Man Tin area.
  • At Home Depot, check the price for a hint about whether an item will be marked down again. If a clearance item's price ends in .06, the price will drop one more time, and if the price ends in .03, that means it's the lowest price possible.
  • Uber just bought a company (Jump) that rents out electric bikes at a rate of $2 per 30 minutes. They only operate in DC and SF for now.
  • Some rules NFL cheerleaders (on various teams) have to abide by: no fraternizing with the players (not even social media contact); have to leave stadium wearing outfit; maintain a certain weight; no wearing sweatpants in public; turn off GPS tracking on phones.
  • When two dead stars smashed together, as was observed in October 2017, the event threw off a very large quantity of neutrons that almost immediately decayed into lighter elements. Astronomers predict that this formed 50 Earth masses of silver, 100 Earth masses of gold and 500 Earth masses of platinum.
  • If you search for solitaire, you can play the game.
  • The world's biggest hotel, by number of rooms, is the First World Hotel and Plaza in Genting Highlands, Malaysia.

Surviving Mars review

Ever since Elon Musk told us about his plans to race NASA (or anyone else for that matter) to Mars, the idea of sending people to the red planet has become a common topic of discussion. Well, now thanks to the awesome folks at Haemimont Games, you can try your hand at establishing a working Mars colony in the latest planning simulation game - Surviving Mars, which was released March 15th 2018.

I heard about this game more than a month before it was released and began watching demos and tutorials from people who got pre-release versions of the game. I put my money down immediately. This is yet another example of a sim that would work wonders in schools, to give students an idea of what needs to be managed in order to build and keep a living colony of humans on another planet that has no breathable air or surface water.

You start by choosing your mission sponsor and a few other details that essentially affect the difficulty level of the mission, including how many rockets you get, how much money you start out with, and what technologies you are gifted with out of the gate. Then you pick a spot to establish your colony, which could throw things like regular dust storms, meteor showers, cold spells and more your way.

Once your first rocket lands, robot drones will build anything you command them to, as long as the raw material resources are available. The idea is that you can use whatever money you have to order raw material from earth in subsequent rocket launches, but your goal is to start finding or mining everything you need to eventually become self-sufficient. Higher level resources have to be manufactured using the kinds of raw materials you'd get from the land, so once you are able to extract water from the soil, you can then start making other things which need water as an ingredient, like fuel. You learn that just because you have the material, you also have to have power cables, and possibly water and oxygen pipes if you want to build something new. But you also need rovers in range of the thing you're building, so they can carry the material to the build site and perform the construction.

Everything needs power, so you need to slowly build out a working grid supplied by solar, wind, and other futuristic power sources, with storage capability. As you collect materials and harvest power, you can watch your stockpile grow and shrink, while monitoring power, water and oxygen.

You need to have built a sustainable water, power and oxygen supply, plus a dome with living quarters and hopefully a food supply, before your first colonists even arrive by rocket. Once they arrive, they'll need a place to live, jobs and ways to be entertained. So, before long, you're managing things like work shifts in factories, farms and diners, while watching their morale and comfort. You can even be picky about the skills and personality traits of the colonists before they board the rocket from Earth.

You even have to monitor the battery levels of all your robot vehicles so that they don't get stranded far away from base. I like that you can override to a certain extent what vehicles are doing, to help focus on tasks that are falling behind, like emptying a cargo rocket of its load, or moving a bunch of rovers closer to a dome you're trying to build more quickly.

While all of this is going on, you can decide which research projects get prioritized in the background, as each researched technology unlocks more research, and the ability to build new structures or enhance existing ones. The research also evolves your biotechnology, engineering, transport, mining and extraction, social resources, and more.

In addition, you can send an explorer vehicle out to newly scanned sectors of the map to scan anomalies, some of which reveal new technologies to you, some of which make the mission a bit strange and mysterious.

Mars is a harsh environment though, so even while you're building and exploring, your infrastructure is being punished with dust, radiation and other Mars mysteries, wreaking all sorts of havoc on the health of your colony even if you chose a location that is relatively meteor and dust storm free. Thankfully, as long as you have time, materials and working rovers in range, whatever is broken can get fixed.

Ultimately, once you have the infrastructure built and colonists living and working in your colony, the rest of the game becomes one of sustaining what you have and keeping your colonists from getting bored or going crazy while starting a new generation of humans born on another planet.

Since research is what unveils technologies to make life easier, getting that research becomes a priority. You can accelerate things by selling rare metals to Earth, which allows you to spend that earned money on outsourcing some research.

Depending on the level of difficulty you chose at the beginning, you might get a decent colony built and then start seeing things get sabotaged by the tough Mars environment. Let that damage get out of control and your colonists will die. Not to worry, you can fire up a brand new mission and try, try again.

Presidential approval ratings since the 60s

More insight on how Facebook data is used

Filtering your newsfeed of friends' posts is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you wanted to get a better insight of how your tracked browsing history, searches and Facebook posts (and more) can, and are being used, watch this incredible Ted talk.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Kickstarter strikes again (DJIN)

I'm always thrilled when I find a new product that I feel could make life easier on Kickstarter. Or just a cool gadget. Well, one of my most recent discoveries is a bit of both. It's the DJIN card holder by Koala Gear. Koala Gear made their name with a uniquely designed ergonomic backpack and decided to try their hand at a small, efficient card holder.

Here's why that appealed to me. My most recent wallet is nothing more than a glorified card holder. It has a lot of slots for credit, bank and club cards, but when fully loaded, it's thick. It's like sitting on a brick, and from all that butt-weight, starts causing some of the cards inside to bend. If you know anything about plastic cards, they don't like being forced to bend and the stress eventually makes them break. My workaround up until now was to occasionally turn the bent cards over in the wallet to try and bend them back straight. This works temporarily, but in time they bend the other way, which just weakens the plastic more. And it's ridiculous to have to even deal with such an issue.

Enter DJIN. It has a capacity of 10 cards, which you slide into a metal frame. It's perfectly sized to make it easy to slide the cards over top of each other to find and access the one you need. Before I pledged to help fund this product, I was skeptical that it would be easy to get a card out, but since taking delivery, I worried for nothing. The holder comes with an RFID blocking card, which you can slide over top of your other 9 cards to protect from unauthorized scanning. I didn't bother, as I need the space for all 10 cards. Extremely small, but capable magnets keep the holder closed. No worries of demagnetizing your cards inside.

There are other features that I haven't found a regular use for yet, but with the card holder open, there's room behind the card frame for a few coins or small keys, that just slide in and out with ease. Even cooler, is a small but clever hidden storage space under the card frame that can only be accessed by sliding the frame upward. This hidden space is big enough for an SD card and not much else.

I like the card holder, which I bought in the leather covering, because of just how small and purpose-built it is. I'm hesitant to keep it in my back pocket, but it's so small, it fits in my front pocket. When they arrive in stores, I may buy another for my ID cards and such. They're small enough that I could easily fit 2 in one pocket.

You can buy one too!

[Update] I'm now an official booster to this project, because I believe in it that much. If you want to buy the DJIN wallet, make sure you click the link above. Thank you.

I like the wallet so much, I bought a second one for all my ID cards, medical cards, etc. I got the second one in the microfiber finish so that I could tell which one was which.

Small things 13 Apr

  • You could tell me any group of white men was the band Imagine Dragons and I'd believe you.
  • Husband: Name one thing you'd like to try in the bedroom... Wife: Get a full 8 hours of sleep...
  • In the UK, they drive on the left. In Russia, they drive on what's left.
  • Did God download the commandments onto a tablet from 'the cloud'?
  • If the earth was really flat, cats would have pushed everything off of it by now.

Norwegian athletes are raised differently

(excerpt from Time)
Tore Ovrebo is the director of elite sport for the Olympiatoppen, an organization of scientists, trainers and nutritionists who work with Olympic athletes across Norway's sports federations.

Ovrebo says that in Norway, organized youth sports teams cannot keep score until they are 13. "We want to leave the kids alone. We want them to play. We want them to develop, and be focused on social skills. They learn a lot from sports. They learn a lot from playing. They learn a lot from not being anxious. They learn a lot from not being counted. They learn a lot from not being judged. And they feel better. And they tend to stay on for longer."

Trainers don't tell athletes how much they weigh. "It’s very dangerous. They can develop eating disorders." Olympic athletes don't receive prize money or bonuses from their federations. "We think prize money turns people into something they shouldn't be."

Luke's story begins and ends with a projection...

Things I learned lately 13 Apr

  • The most popular Black Lives Matter Facebook page turned out to be fake — and some of the money it raised may have been funnelled overseas.
  • It's better to cook lobsters live because it prevents Vibrio bacteria from forming in the meat, which can make you very sick.
  • Ballooning, or kiting, is a process by which spiders move through the air by releasing one or more threads to catch the wind, causing them to become airborne at the mercy of air currents. This is primarily used by spiderlings to disperse, however larger spiders do so as well. The spider climbs to a high point and takes a stance with its abdomen to the sky, releasing fine silk threads until it becomes aloft. Journeys achieved vary from a few metres to hundreds of kilometres. Mortality is high.
  • The food court at Costco makes the company a lot of money even though its prices are decent.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson-Atlanta airport processed almost 104 million passengers in 2017. For comparison, YYC in Calgary processed 16.3 million.
  • Sloths don't fart. They emit methane gas out of their mouths.
  • The world added more solar power capacity than any other type of energy in 2017, outpacing all fossil fuels. In 2017, solar energy attracted $160.8 billion in investment. Renewable energy, including wind, hydro, and solar, supplied a record 12% of the world's energy needs.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Small things 6 Apr

  • In my day, as kids, we didn't have Tide Pods. We ate dirt for fun.
  • Back in the day, when car windows had a crank to open and close them, it was so much easier to open the window to a precise amount, rather than the electric switch shenanigans we do today. Dooowwn. Too much. Up. Too much. Down. Too much. Up. Good enough.
  • There are no faith healers working in hospitals.
  • Wrestling. Where men with no pants fight for a belt.
  • They found a cure for dyslexia? Music to my arse!
  • Never make snow angels in an off-leash dog park.

"While it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company"

Here's an email Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, sent to his employees a few years ago.

"There are two schools of thought about how information should flow within companies," he writes. "By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company.

"Instead of a problem getting solved quickly, where a person in one dept. talks to a person in another dept. and makes the right thing happen, people are forced to talk to their manager who talks to their manager who talks to the manager in the other dept.
who talks to someone on his team. Then the info has to flow back the other way again. This is incredibly dumb. Any manager who allows this to happen, let alone encourages it, will soon find themselves working at another company. No kidding.

"Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else according to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager's manager without his permission, you can talk directly to a VP in another dept., you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone without anyone else's permission. Moreover, you should consider yourself obligated to do so until the right thing happens. The point here is not random chitchat, but rather ensuring that we execute ultra-fast and well. We obviously cannot compete with the big car companies in size, so we must do so with intelligence and agility.

"One final point is that managers should work hard to ensure that they are not creating silos within the company that create an us vs. them mentality or impede communication in any way. This is unfortunately a natural tendency and needs to be actively fought. How can it possibly help Tesla for depts. to erect barriers between themselves or see their success as relative within the company instead of collective? We are all in the same boat. Always view yourself as working for the good of the company and never your dept."

Welcome to the future of inner city flight

A Chinese company, Ehang, just began its world-first public autonomous electric passenger drone flights.

The drone can carry a single passenger weighing up to 100 kg on a 23-minute flight at sea level at a speed of 100 km/h and is touted as being able to fly through fogs and in force 7 typhoon conditions.

Long-range test flights were conducted at speeds of 130 km/h over 8.8 km.

They will cost up to $300,000 each.

I shall return presently

Things I learned lately 6 Apr

  • Brittany Howard, the lead singer and guitarist from the Band Alabama Shakes, has synesthesia, which means she sees sounds as colours.
  • Jimmy Page played an out-of-tune Fender 10-string steel guitar on the track 'Your time is gonna come'. He stated that he first learned how to play the steel guitar during the sessions for the first album.
  • Sade started out as a fashion designer of men's clothing.
  • Virgin Hyperloop One is in talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to build a hyperloop network that could connect Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi. The company claims that it could get passengers from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes, normally a two hour drive. The network would reduce the 10 hour trip from Riyadh to Jeddah to 76 minutes.
  • Black Panther will be the first movie publicly shown in Saudi Arabia after a 35 year ban on cinema.
  • A police officer from Texas who went to jail undercover for 8 weeks quit the force after he got out of jail.