Friday, October 31, 2014

Cops can force you to use Touch ID, but not your passcode

Cult of Mac reports Cops can force you to use Touch ID, but not your passcode.

"A related feature has now been the subject of a court case in Virginia, however, with the judge ruling that cops can legally force suspects to manually unlock their iPhones using Touch ID. This differs from the current ruling related to passcodes. Police cannot force defendants to give these up on the basis that they are considered ‘knowledge’ rather than a physical object, and that knowledge is protected by the Fifth Amendment. A fingerprint, on the other hand, is considered to be more in line with a DNA sample or physical key, which means that citizens are compelled to give them up to police."

I hate when laws don't keep up with technology. This is similar to when you privacy rights were different based on if your ISP was a phone company or a cable company.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Rand Paul just gave one of the most important foreign policy speeches in decades

Last week Vox reported Rand Paul just gave one of the most important foreign policy speeches in decades. "Sen. Rand Paul just gave one of the most important speeches on foreign policy since George W. Bush declared war on Iraq. But instead of declaring war on another country, Paul declared war on his own party. Or, at least, its entire approach to foreign policy."

"His moderate non-interventionism is a far cry from his father's absolutist desire for America to exit the world stage. But Paul's stance is light years away from the hyper-hawk neoconservatism that's dominated Republican foreign policy thinking for decades."

6 reasons Elizabeth Warren should run for president

While I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Warren, I don't think she's managed to accomplish much in the Senate. Now that's fine, no one in the Senate has accomplished much and she has managed to raise a lot of money (though I wish there was less money in politics). I've been mostly annoyed with all the questions about should she run for President. To me the obvious answer is no. But Ezra Klein gives 6 reasons Elizabeth Warren should run for president and I find them pretty compelling.

Most of it comes down to that by doing so she could have more influence in political agenda and if she loses she'll probably have more influence as a prominent Senator. And hey, Obama won with not much more experience.

Here's how gun control works in Canada

After last weeks shooting in Ottawa, Dylan Matthews explains Here's how gun control works in Canada "Here's a more detailed rundown of how Canada and the US's gun control regimes differ."

European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible

NPR reports European Scientists Conclude That Distant Comet Smells Terrible

"A European spacecraft orbiting a distant comet has finally answered a question we've all been wondering: What does a comet smell like? 'It stinks,' says Kathrin Altwegg, a researcher at the University of Bern in Switzerland who runs an instrument called ROSINA that picked up the odor. The European Space Agency has posted a full rundown of the comet's BO on its website. The mix includes ammonia (NH3), hydrogen sulphide (H2S), formaldehyde (CH2O) and methanol (CH3OH). Of course, anyone visiting the comet would be wearing a spacesuit (on top of that, the sense of smell is notoriously numb in space). Nevertheless, taking a whiff of this comet would be like sharing a horse barn with a drunk and a dozen rotten eggs."


Watch: Neither candidate at a Congressional debate could name a book he'd read recently

Vox writes Watch: Neither candidate at a Congressional debate could name a book he'd read recently "In a debate Tuesday night for a contested House of Representatives seat in Staten Island, Rep. Michael Grimm (R) and his opponent Dominic Recchia were each asked, "What was the last book you've read?" Neither could come up with an answer"

I'm not sure if it's better that they couldn't come up with a lie. I wonder what newspapers and magazines they read?

This is what it’s like to try to get a Voter ID when you’re disabled, poor or don’t drive

WonkBlog describes This is what it’s like to try to get a Voter ID when you’re disabled, poor or don’t drive - The Washington Post "But it glosses over the reality of life for some voters, who may struggle to get around because of disabilities, who may lack the seemingly small sums necessary to pay for documentation, who may not have the flexible scheduling to visit a government office twice, or three times, or more."

Boehner’s Lawsuit Has No Legal Basis

Remember when the Republicans in the House voted to sue Obama for delaying a provision of Obamacare? Whatever happened with that? Oh right, nothing. The Washington Monthly writes The Congressional Research Service Finds that Boehner’s Lawsuit Has No Legal Basis

"Now, three months after the party-line House vote to green-light the lawsuit, no complaint has yet been filed. If this stretched out delay means that Boehner has actually redirected his sue-Obama gambit toward oblivion, the reason may be this unnoticed six week old CRS report. While bearing an opaquely generic title - ‘A Primer on the Reviewability of Agency Delay and Enforcement Discretion,’ the report actually targets a single instance of alleged agency delay and exercise of enforcement discretion - the Obama Administration’s adjustments of effective dates for the Affordable Care Act’s so-called employer mandate to offer employees ACA-complaint health insurance or pay a tax. This delay happens to be the basis - the sole basis - for the legal action against the President that Boehner outlined in July. Although shrouded in twelve pages of fine print and protectively bureaucratic phraseology, the report’s bottom line is clear: not merely are the legal underpinnings of the Republicans’ planned lawsuit weak; the report turns up no legal basis - no ‘there’ there - at all."

"The Report offers two conclusions: First, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), no rulemaking procedure was necessitated by the Administration’s initial one-year delay in enforcing the employer mandate, past the ACA’s prescribed January 1, 2014 effective date. This was so, the Report states, because, `where an agency fails to take a discrete action by a statutory deadline, … no rulemaking is required.'"

"Second, the Report states that, when, in February 2014, the Administration announced an additional year’s postponement of full enforcement of the mandate, until January 1, 2016, “informal rulemaking procedures” appeared to be required. In fact, as the report’s authors reference, the Administration had engaged in precisely the type of informal rulemaking process that, the report concluded, was called for. The Administration’s action finalized a September 2013 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, making adjustments in response to comments from interested parties, precisely as prescribed by the APA. In other words, having been asked whether the Obama administration had crossed all its t’s and dotted its i’s, the CRS’ answer was unequivocal: yes it had."

USS North Dakota SSN 784 Commissioned

DefenceTalk reports USS North Dakota SSN 784 Commissioned. Excerpts:

USS North Dakota (SSN 784) officially became the Navy’s newest addition to the submarine force following a commissioning ceremony held Oct. 25, at Naval Submarine Base New London.

North Dakota is the 11th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the fleet, and the first of eight Block III Virginia-class submarines to be built. The Block III submarines are being built with new Virginia Payload Tubes designed to lower costs and increase missile-firing payload possibilities.

The 10 current Virginia-class submarines have 12 individual 21-inch diameter vertical launch tubes able to fire Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMS). The Block III submarines being built will have two-larger 87-inch diameter tubes able to house six TLAMS each.

As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, the submarine can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities. North Dakota will be a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, delivery of special operations forces, strike warfare, irregular warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and mine warfare.

The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for 33 years without ever refueling.

TIL the word littoral.

Apple Replaces iPad Destroyed by Exploding NASA Rocket

So I'm reading this story in Cult of Mac, Apple replaces iPad destroyed by exploding NASA rocket.

I setup my iPad to take a time lapse on the ledge of the road, it was being held by the Smart Cover. Rocket launches everything looks good and then it blows up, about 15 seconds later the shockwaves comes and knocks my iPad down into the swamp. I can’t see it because the water is so murky and when I finally get it it doesn’t turn on so I lost the video also… Tried cleaning it and plugging it into iTunes nothing happens.

However, after being prompted by his fellow Redditors to try bringing the iPad into the Genius bar to tell them “it landed in a swap because a spaceship exploded,” iOSecure found himself rewarded for his good faith.

I just went to the Genius Bar and explained what happened. He called out the manager and the manager said “I think we’ve officially seen it all” she then offered a free replacement but on 16GB instead of 64 which I had (not complaining)

Great story, I totally believe this about Apple (or about a genius bar). As I read "it landed in a swap because a spaceship exploded" I thought of the Luke in the Empire Strikes Back who landed in a swamp because (basically) a spaceship exploded. He should name his iPad "R2". Then I thought, I wonder if I could rename Siri to "R2" so I could say "Hey R2...". Well my iPhone was plugged in, so I said "Hey Siri, can I call you R2?". Well both my iPhone and iPad were plugged in so I got two different answers:

iPhone Siri: But...everyone else calls me Siri

iPad Siri: No. But really, I can't imagine why you'd want to

First I think it's nice that I got two different answers. It gives Siri some personality. Second, this situation is an answer to iPad Siri's response. It would be nice to talk to only one Siri if more than one is listening.

What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security

I thought I had blogged this already. Astrophysicist Brian Schmidt, who won the 2011 Nobel Physics Prize for co-discovering dark energy—the mysterious element of the universe that is causing the expansion of spacetime to speed up describes What It’s Like to Carry Your Nobel Prize through Airport Security "Among the many changes the Nobel Prize brought to Schmidt’s life: travel hassles. Here’s what he said it’s like to carry a Nobel medal aboard an airplane:"

They’re like, ‘Sir, there’s something in your bag.’

I said, ‘Yes, I think it’s this box.’

They said, ‘What’s in the box?’

I said, ‘a large gold medal,’ as one does.

So they opened it up and they said, ‘What’s it made out of?’

I said, ‘gold.’

And they’re like, ‘Uhhhh. Who gave this to you?’

‘The King of Sweden.’

‘Why did he give this to you?’

‘Because I helped discover the expansion rate of the universe was accelerating.’

At which point, they were beginning to lose their sense of humor. I explained to them it was a Nobel Prize, and their main question was, ‘Why were you in Fargo?’”

Apparently they didn't think it was as dangerous as a belt buckle.

Happy 45th Birthday, Internet!

Yesterday was the 45th birthday of the Internet. Happy 45th Birthday, Internet! "How do we define the invention of the internet? It's a question that scholars and armchair historians have debated for decades. Did it start with the birth of the web? Did it start with the adoption of TCP/IP? You could make a case for either. But one seminal moment in the creation of the internet cannot be denied: the first host-to-host connection of the ARPANET between UCLA and Stanford on October 29, 1969. At 10:30pm."

TSA Confiscates Raygun Belt Buckle BECAUSE TERRORISM!

Reason reports TSA Confiscates Raygun Belt Buckle BECAUSE TERRORISM! "Award-winning videographer Sean Malone had a raygun belt buckle confiscated recently by the good folks at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). You know, because all of the 9/11 hijackers were packing rayguns or something."


Tim Cook: "I'm Proud to be Gay"

Not a surprise, but Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out in Businessweek, Tim Cook: "I'm Proud to be Gay". Even less of a surprise, he does so eloquently.

"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.

Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It’s made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It’s been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It’s also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you’re the CEO of Apple.

The world has changed so much since I was a kid. America is moving toward marriage equality, and the public figures who have bravely come out have helped change perceptions and made our culture more tolerant. Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.

I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others. So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy."

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Ten hours of walking in NYC as a woman

"In August 2014, Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative reached out to Hollaback! to partner on a PSA highlighting the impact of street harassment. He was inspired by his girlfriend — who gets street harassed all the time — and Shoshana B. Roberts volunteered to be the subject of his PSA. For 10 hours, Rob walked in front of Shoshana with a camera in his backpack, while Shoshana walked silently with two mics in her hands."

The comments on YouTube are pretty disgusting. Most along the lines of "but they were just saying have a nice day". So this video also works as "What it's like being a woman on the Internet". Now she's getting rape threats.

Alex Alvarez tackles the Relax, it's a compliment argument:

To anchor this more concretely, consider the behavior of the men in the video. Take a look at how they seek the woman out to wish her a good morning, despite her not having made eye contact or shown any interest in talking to them. Take a look at how they’re not wishing a good morning to any other person, particularly male people, also walking around. The woman is walking directly behind the man filming her (the camera is hidden in his backpack), and not one of the men shown in the video are seen to be greeting him and wishing him a good day. Just her.

Why is this?

It’s because they don’t care, really whether she has a good day or not. What they care about is letting her know that they have noticed her — her hair, her face, her body, her outfit. They want her to notice that they’ve noticed, and they want her to notice them, however fleetingly.

I’ve had men wish me a good morning by looking me in the eyes and smiling, their tone light and pleasant. And I return the sentiment. And I’ve also had men wish me a good morning with their eyes tracking my body, resting on whatever they like the most. I can hear the growl in their voices, like a small, untamed animal living at the back of their throats. And I don’t say anything back.

I mean. Would you?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Syfy Plans to Lure You Back With These 5 Shows

EW says Syfy plans to lure you back with these 5 shows "Syfy knows they messed up. Now they have a plan to win you back. The cable network’s top executives won’t say this in such blunt language, but they acknowledge that somewhere along the line, the network missed an opportunity to have more great scripted dramas. It happened sometime after the name change from Sci Fi Channel to Syfy and the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica—the acclaimed series that was once mentioned by critics alongside titles like Mad Men and The Sopranos as representing TV’s top-tier of storytelling."

Nice interview with Bill McGoldrick, SyFy's head of original programming.

  • Ascension - 6 hour mini-series, premieres Dec 15, 2014
  • 12 Monkeys - 13 episode series, premieres Jan 16, 2015
  • Childhood's End - 6 hour mini-series
  • The Expanse. Series - 10 episode series
  • Hunters - 13 episode series

I don't know, isn't it time we had a Star Trek series again?

Verizon's 'Perma-Cookie' Is a Privacy-Killing Machine | WIRED

Wired reports Verizon's 'Perma-Cookie' Is a Privacy-Killing Machine.

Verizon Wireless has been subtly altering the web traffic of its wireless customers for the past two years, inserting a string of about 50 letters, numbers, and characters into data flowing between these customers and the websites they visit.

The company—one the country’s largest wireless carriers, providing cell phone service for about 123 million subscribers—calls this a Unique Identifier Header, or UIDH. It’s a kind of short-term serial number that advertisers can use to identify you on the web, and it’s the lynchpin of the company’s internet advertising program. But critics say that it’s also a reckless misuse of Verizon’s power as an internet service provider—something that could be used as a trump card to obviate established privacy tools such as private browsing sessions or ‘do not track’ features.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Nighttime Rocket Launch Will Be Visible from US East Coast Monday

Sorry for the last minute notification, Nighttime Rocket Launch Will Be Visible from US East Coast Monday "If you live along the U.S. East Coast, you have a great opportunity to see a rocket launch from your own backyard Monday evening (Oct. 27), but you'll need to know when and where to look to spot the brilliant liftoff. Early Monday evening, a commercial Antares rocket built by the Orbital Sciences Corp. is due to blast off at 6:45 p.m. EDT (2245 GMT) from a pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia. It is the first-ever night launch of the two-stage Antares rocket, and the flight could be visible from Massachusetts to South Carolina, weather permitting."


Long Article Dump

I've been making progress through my Instapaper queue but have been bad about blogging them. Here's a bunch of articles I found interesting to load up your Instapaper queues. If you want to follow me on Instapaper, my profile is, HowardLikedThis.

Politics and Economics





Saturday, October 25, 2014

Daring Fireball: Retailers Are Disabling NFC to Block Apple Pay

Daring Fireball: Retailers Are Disabling NFC to Block Apple Pay

Earlier this week, pharmacy chain Rite Aid shut down unofficial support for the Apple Pay and Google Wallet mobile payments systems, resulting in an outcry from users who have been testing out Apple’s new system since its launch on Monday. Rite Aid was not an official Apple Pay partner, but the payments system generally works with existing near field communications (NFC) payment terminals anyway, and many users had had success using Apple Pay at Rite Aid stores early in the week.

It now appears that fellow major pharmacy chain CVS is following suit and as of today is shutting down the NFC functionality of its payment terminals entirely, a move presumably intended to thwart Apple Pay. Google Wallet services are obviously also being affected by the move.

"Think about what they’re doing. They’re turning off NFC payment systems — the whole thing — only because people were actually using them with Apple Pay. Apple Pay works so well that it even works with non-partner systems. These things have been installed for years and so few people used them, apparently, that these retailers would rather block everyone than allow Apple Pay to continue working. I can’t imagine a better validation of Apple Pay’s appeal.

And the reason they don’t want to allow Apple Pay is because Apple Pay doesn’t give them any personal information about the customer. It’s not about security — Apple Pay is far more secure than any credit/debit card system in the U.S. It’s not about money — Apple’s tiny slice of the transaction comes from the banks, not the merchants. It’s about data.

They’re doing this so they can pursue a system that is less secure (third-party apps don’t have access to the secure element where Apple Pay stores your credit card data, for one thing), less convenient (QR codes?), and not private."

Friday, October 24, 2014

iPad Air 2

So the new iPad is available in stores. I noticed it today and ran over to pick one up. The Apple Store was a little less busy than usual and there was no crazy long line, it was nice. I picked up an iPad and found it really nice and an employee asked if I had any questions. I said "Yes, can I have one". They had stuff in stock that was easy. I replaced my 64GB iPad 2 with another maxed out iPad; 128GB with cellular using Apple's new SIM card. I'm sure 64GB would have been fine, but I was trying to future-proof a little. I also could have done with a wifi only model, but I have used the cellular connection on occasion and while I could tether to my iPhone, I like that the iPad can use another network if Verizon isn't giving good reception. Also, you only get real GPS if you get the cellular model.

I ran into one issue buying it, my credit card was denied. First time that ever happened. I called the customer service number on the back and got to fraud detection. Apparently there was no other reason to suspect fraud other than I was buying an iPad, at an Apple Store I've regularly bought stuff at with that card. The Apple clerk told me it's pretty common happening 2-3 times a day. I finally got to a person and everything was cleared.

I got it home and backed up my iPad 2 and then plugged in the new iPad and did a restore. Oddly not everything came over. I got the right number of home pages and some folders but only a couple of apps. I called AppleCare and why the guy was walking through some simple stuff, I plugged in the new iPad again and it started another sync and it started copying all the other apps over. I told him it was working and he didn't have to wait for it finish and hung up. Though after an hour it was only about halfway done and stopped. I started another sync and that one finally worked, recopying over what was done and finishing with everything else.

So how is it? Great. It's smaller than my iPad 2 and feels a lot easier to hold. It's also a lot zippier. It's very responsive, like the iPad 2 was when I first got it. Because my iTunes backup was encrypted (there's a checkbox in the iTunes Summary page for the iPad to do this) and because I've been using iCloud Keychain all my passwords came over too, so all my apps just work. The new retina screen is nice. I can't say I can discern that's it's much better than the iPad 2, but everything does seem sharper. Comics look noticeably better on it. Handoff works and I suspect I'll use that a fair amount with the iMac. I've setup TouchID and I think I'll get used to that very quickly. I haven't used it much yet, but I'm looking forward to having Siri on my iPad, I've tried to use it a few times since getting it on an iPhone. Now I'll want it on my iMac, but I suspect Hey Siri will make up for it.

Two small issues so far. First it was nice that I got the rest of iWork included with the iPad (I had only bought Numbers). But while a version was on it, and update was in the App Store and it took 3 or 4 attempts to actually get them installed. I guess they were busy today. Also, while apps came over fine (eventually), any web apps that had home page icons were there, but their icon was a blank. A couple of times visiting the page was enough to fill in the icon, and a couple of times I had to reinstall the home page shortcut.

So hopefully, I'm done with Apple upgrades for at least a little bit.

The Fed is telling Wall Street banks to clean up their ethics or get broken up

Vox reports The Fed is telling Wall Street banks to clean up their ethics or get broken up "Speeches from Federal Reserve Bank presidents tend not to be very interesting, and indeed New York Fed President William Dudley's recent talk on 'Enhancing Financial Stability by Improving Culture in the Financial Services Industry' seems to have been titled so as to maximize the number of people who ignore it. But he ended with a bombshell, telling CEOs that unless they clean up their acts, the Wall Street megabanks are going to get broken up."

A Tale of Momentum & Inertia

A Tale of Momentum & Inertia from HouseSpecial on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Brain Barrier Opened For First Time to Treat Cancer

New Scientist reports Brain barrier opened for first time to treat cancer. "For the first time, doctors have opened and closed the brain's protector – the blood-brain barrier – on demand. The breakthrough will allow drugs to reach diseased areas of the brain that are otherwise out of bounds. Ultimately, it could make it easier to treat conditions such as Alzheimer's and brain cancer."


So lots of upgrades lately. iOS 8.1 came out and I installed on the iPhone 5 without difficultly. I still haven't upgraded the iPad 2 to iOS 8 as I understand it just slows to a crawl and 8.1 isn't any better. I'll just wait til I get a new iPad Air 2 which I'll do shortly.

I upgrade first the old MacBook Pro and then the iMac to Yosemite. It mostly went well. The MBP was easy and all my apps seemed to work so I did the iMac today. I started the download last night and was crawling for a while (5+ days to go for several hours) but then it started to come down quickly and was done after a few hours. There are a number of forum threads I found that said that changing DNS servers helped, but it doesn't really. (In fact I read a couple of years ago that if you change from your ISPs DNS servers to Google's or OpenDNS or something that your location information is lost and CDNs don't know which server is closest to you. I don't know if that's true, but my experience is that using FiOS DNS is at least as good as using others.).

Once it was downloaded the installer started. I quit it and made a bootable USB stick. This morning I did the install and it went pretty quickly. Then I started going through the new features, via a few articles I had saved. The only annoying thing I fixed was to Reduce transparency in the Accessibility System Preferences. I don't know why anyone would want it on.

I still have not enabled iCloud Drive because my iPad 2 running iOS 7 can't use it. But that shouldn't be much of a problem for while. Update: It turns out it breaks Tweetbot's sync'ing. It looks like there is not longer an iCloud "Documents & Data" setting, there's just iCloud Drive, so they probably have no other way to share data.

I really wanted to try some of the Continuity features that connect the mac to the phone. There were three. First I got AirDrop working. I find it's a little flakey. I enable it on both and turn on the phone but if I open the Finder to AirDrop it doesn't show me (and when it does it's just my picture with my name, not the name of my iPhone. I sometimes can use AirDrop from Safari's share menu and send it to my phone, but not always.

The next thing was Handoff. This didn't work until I rebooted my iMac. When it does work I can see the last app you've used on one device on the other device. I've used Handoff with Safari and Mail both ways and it's pretty slick.

The last one was Phone calls and that was a bear. Basically the Mac can act like a speaker phone for your iPhone and you're supposed to be able to start calls from the mac (in the old days you do this with a bluetooth connection, but that hasn't worked for a while). I kept getting an error that it wasn't working and to check that both devices were on the same wifi network and using the same iCloud account. They were. There's a setting to enable it in FaceTime and that was on too. I called AppleCare. I got a woman who didn't know much but was nice enough. She talked to second level support and left me on hold for a very long time and we didn't come to any conclusion (other than you didn't need to bluetooth pair your iPhone and mac, which didn't work anyway). She forwarded me on to some iPhone specialist but I think it went back to first line AppleCare and I got a woman with a thick accent I couldn't understand. She just seemed to forward me on to Bob. Bob was very helpful. He apologized that this stuff was new to everyone and they were getting slammed with support calls. We tried a few things (including resetting PRAM) but that didn't help. He did find on some forum the solution. On the iPhone I had to turn off FaceTime and Handoff and then turn them back on. That did it. Rebooting the phone didn't do it but manually turning those off and on did. It only took almost 2 hours on the phone with AppleCare (including hold time) but now a feature I'll probably never use again is working :)

Otherwise Yosemite seems nice. I'm fine with the new look though the new toolbars will take a little getting used to.

Also a new Emacs came out on Monday and seems to working well for me. Now to see if iOS 8.1 means my car can finally read text messages to me. :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Autumn Colors 2014

The Big Picture show some amazing Autumn Colors of 2014.

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IKEA Halloween

The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror might have left out The Shining this year, but IKEA makes up for it with this:

Your life on earth

The BBC presents Your life on earth.

"Find out how, since the date of your birth, your life has progressed; including how many times your heart has beaten, and how far you have travelled through space. Investigate how the world around you has changed since you've been alive; from the amount the sea has risen, and the tectonic plates have moved, to the number of earthquakes and volcanoes that have erupted. Grasp the impact we've had on the planet in your lifetime; from how much fuel and food we've used to the species we've discovered and endangered."

In the various little boxes, the V button is a drop down to show more information. E.g., under Space Age it shows your age on all the different planets. On Jupiter I'm 4!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Ten Scariest Film Scores Ever Composed

Badass Digest describes The Ten Scariest Film Scores Ever Composed. I can't say I've ever really considered this topic but the article has put some serious thought into it.

"Composing a scary score can sometimes be erroneously perceived as being ‘easy’ because all you need to do to elicit a response is weave ear-piercing bangs, crashes and screeches into a cacophonous mess. The skill in composing a well-crafted horror score of this nature is to impart an impression of cacophony, when in actuality, these textures are sculpted with an artistic precision that maximizes the fullest potential of fear from the narrative. It’s a delicate balance between what is visually and narratively frightening, and its aural counterparts.

Much like a good comedy, timing is everything. The setup is just as important as the payoff and every single second before or after is crucially important. Minute changes in timing have a vast effect on the overall success of the score. Anybody can create a loud bang after a prolonged period of soundlessness and elicit a jump or even a scream, but will that psychologically expose the audience enough to allow the terror to manifest itself within our own imagination? If music is not triggering our imagination, it’s not living up to its fullest potential."

Here's their list:

  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
  • The Changeling (1980)
  • The Omen (1976)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Altered States (1980)
  • Alien (1979)
  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Poltergiest (1982)
  • Evil Dead (2013)
  • Rosemary's Baby (1968)

1980 was a good year to be scared.

John Oliver on Translators

John Oliver last night was great. Here's a long segment on our failure to help those that helped us. "Translators who have aided the U.S. Military in Afghanistan and Iraq are in great danger in their home countries, but red tape is making it impossible for many of them to leave."

As a bonus, he covered the tired issue of the US Supreme Court not allowing cameras in a hilarious way.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

It's time to push the panic button on the global economy

Matthew Yglesias says It's time to push the panic button on the global economy. "One month's worth of bad data shouldn't necessarily cause a panic, but in light of all the other trends it's alarming. In particular, one would want to see that consumers who are spending less on gasoline and other energy products are pouring at least some of their savings into buying other stuff. Instead, the September report appears to show consumers pulling back across the board — even as demand from abroad is clearly falling apart. Just when it looked like hiring was poised to take off, demand for goods and services is slumping instead. A very troubling sign for an economy that, despite recent good news, is still on the weak side."

538 describes When To Pay Attention To The Stock Market (And When To Ignore It)

I'm not concerned about the stock market this last week, and the Yglesias article seems right to me. We still haven't addressed the real weaknesses in the economy so it's going to continue to putter along. The recent hopeful good news, well now it's pulling back, shocker.

Working: Stephen Colbert

SlateRadio talks with Stephen Colbert about his work process. It's about a half hour long and pretty interesting.

Breakthrough That Could Cut Costs on Solar Energy by 25%

io9 reports on A Single Breakthrough That Could Cut Costs on Solar Energy by 25% "A group of chemists at Ohio State University has invented a solar panel that stores energy without an external battery. The self-contained tuner/capacitor panels are already being licensed to industry."

"The invention also solves a longstanding problem in solar energy efficiency, by eliminating the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery. Typically, only 80 percent of electrons emerging from a solar cell make it into a battery. With this new design, light is converted to electrons inside the battery, so nearly 100 percent of the electrons are saved."

The FBI Director's Evidence Against Encryption Is Pathetic

The Intercept reports The FBI Director's Evidence Against Encryption Is Pathetic.

"FBI Director James Comey gave a speech Thursday about how cell-phone encryption could lead law enforcement to a ‘very dark place’ where it ‘misses out’ on crucial evidence to nail criminals. To make his case, he cited four real-life examples — examples that would be laughable if they weren’t so tragic. In the three cases The Intercept was able to examine, cell-phone evidence had nothing to do with the identification or capture of the culprits, and encryption would not remotely have been a factor."

"Hadn’t Comey found anything better since then? In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Comey both denied trying to use scare stories to make his point – and admitted that he had launched a nationwide search for better ones, to no avail."

"Facing the huge preponderance of evidence that encryption makes us safer, not less safe, Comey realizes he needs some solid evidence to support his side of the argument. But there’s a reason he hasn’t found it yet."

Supreme Court Allows Texas to Use Voter ID Law

The New York Times reports Supreme Court Allows Texas to Use Voter ID Law

"The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November election. The court’s order, issued just after 5 a.m., was unsigned and contained no reasoning.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page dissent saying the court’s action ‘risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.’ Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.

The law, enacted in 2011, requires voters seeking to cast their ballots at the polls to present photo identification like a Texas driver’s or gun license, a military ID or a passport."

Here's the part that should convince you this is all to reduce voting by those more likely to vote for Democrats: "Texas has required some form of identification to vote at the polls since 2003. In the decade after, before the new law imposed even stricter requirements, some 20 million votes were cast, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices, while 'only two cases of in-person voter impersonation fraud were prosecuted to conviction.'"

Friday, October 17, 2014

Crayon The Grids – Maps Of Street Layouts Colored By Orientation

Crayon The Grids – Maps Of Street Layouts Colored By Orientation

"That’s every public street, colored by the predominant orientation of itself and its neighbors, thickened where the layout is most “grid-like” – to use an old-school woodworking metaphor, it’s as if we brushed some digital lacquer over the raw geographic transportation network data to make the grain pop.

For the detail-oriented, these are 100%-algorithmic images generated from MapZen’s Migurski-inspired October 2014 OpenStreetMap Metro Extracts as follows. First, we assign each linear street segment a compass-heading-based tone from a modified sinebow, where a 90 degree directional difference corresponds to a full color revolution, so that roads at right angles to each other have the same hue. Then, to render each point on the map, we use Proximatic, my custom high-performance k-NN engine, to calculate the length-weighted average of the colors assigned to the nearest 500 meters of street, keying render weight to the local degree of parallelism/orthogonality (derived in a similar mod-90° vector space), with rolloffs for outlying roads and territory."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Silence of the Lambs - Who Wins the Scene?

I love this series. Here's a three minute class in how (good) films can convey important and subtle information in the ways it frames characters in each shot.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lockheed Martin claims “technological breakthrough” in compact fusion

Ars reports about Lockheed Martin claims “technological breakthrough” in compact fusion

"Reuters is reporting that defense contractor Lockheed Martin claims it has made a technological breakthrough that places us on the doorstep of affordable fusion energy. Supposedly, the breakthrough will result in compact fusion reactors before a decade is out.

But the Lockheed Martin press release that coincides with the coverage says little of the sort. There, the company simply states that after initial work in the area, it expects to be able to build a prototype in five years. If everything goes well, the design could 'be developed and deployed in as little as ten years.' The 'if' in the last sentence, however, is a big one."

How Ebola Compares To Other Infectious Diseases

Visualised: how Ebola compares to other infectious diseases "To give a universal metric for infectiousness, we’ve used the average ‘basic reproduction number’ (also ratio or rate). It’s a statistical measure of how likely and widespread an infectious disease outbreak might be - if nothing is done to control the situation."

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Real Christopher Columbus

Howard Zinn describes The Real Christopher Columbus "There was no heroic adventure, only bloodshed. Columbus Day should not be a celebration."

​NTU develops ultra-fast charging batteries that last 20 years

​NTU develops ultra-fast charging batteries that last 20 years "Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes. The new generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries."

"In the new NTU-developed battery, the traditional graphite used for the anode (negative pole) in lithium-ion batteries is replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide...Naturally found in spherical shape, the NTU team has found a way to transform the titanium dioxide into tiny nanotubes, which is a thousand times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. This speeds up the chemical reactions taking place in the new battery, allowing for superfast charging. "

This could be a really big deal and they say could hit the market in the next two years.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fall Foliage Map & Peak Leaf Forecast

"The 2014 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. This tool is meant to help travelers better time their trips to have the best opportunity of catching peak color each year."

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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Empire Strikes Back Uncut

The Empire Strikes Back Uncut. "With more than 480 fan-made segments culled from over 1,500 submissions, The Empire Strikes Back Uncut (also known as ESB Uncut) features a stunning mash-up of styles and filmmaking techniques, including live action, animation, and stop-motion. The project launched in 2013, with fans claiming 15-second scenes to reimagine as they saw fit – resulting in sequences created with everything from action figures to cardboard props to stunning visual effects. Helmed by Casey Pugh, who oversaw 2010’s Emmy-winning Star Wars Uncut, the new film has a wonderful homemade charm, stands as an affectionate tribute to The Empire Strikes Back, and is a testament to the talent, imagination, and dedication of Star Wars fans. "

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

John Oliver on Civil Asset Forfeiture

Here's another good John Oliver story, this one on Civil Forfeiture. I don't think I've blogged about it (maybe in the twitter feed) but a friend mentioned it to me last year. The first big stories I saw about it were from August 2013. Sarah Stilman's Taken in The New Yorker (and related 20 min podcast Out Loud: Highway Robbery) and ProPublica's Law to Clean Up ‘Nuisances’ Costs Innocent People Their Homes. The ACLU has a page on Civil Asset Forfeiture.

But John Oliver is funnier:

John Oliver on Drones

I'm back and catching up. HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is my favorite of the comedy news shows. By being weekly he's not playing catch up with the news of the day and tends to cover a topic in some depth and often one that doesn't get a lot of coverage. Here's a perfect example.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Northern Lights in the Skies Above Norway

In Focus shows the Northern Lights in the Skies Above Norway "Visible displays of the Northern Lights have been spectacular recently, for those in the far north, away from city lights. Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis recently took a trip to northern Norway, joining others making the journey to admire and try to capture the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis in photographs. Below is a collection of these images, looking to the skies above Troms County, Norway, last week. [18 photos]"