Let’s face the truth. We are in an abusive relationship with our phones.
Ask yourself the first three questions that UK non-profit Women’s Aid suggests to determine if you’re in an abusive relationship:
- Has your partner tried to keep you from seeing your friends or family?
- Has your partner prevented you or made it hard for you to continue or start studying, or from going to work?
- Does your partner constantly check up on you or follow you?
If you substitute ‘phone’ for ‘partner’, you could answer yes to each question. And then you’ll probably blame yourself.
A fresh take by an excellent article. Bringing a feminist viewpoint to our connection to our smartphones helps to expose the fact that our relationship with the devices would easily be classified as abusive were they human. The article goes on to attempt to diffuse the inevitable self-blame that comes from this realisation and move forward to propose a more-utopian future in which our devices might work for us, rather than for the companies that provide the services for which we use them.
Possibly CGP Grey‘s best video yet: starting with the usual lighthearted and slightly silly look into an interesting piece of history, it quickly diverges from a straightforward path through the Forest of All Knowledge (remember No Flag Northern Ireland?) and becomes an epic adventure into fact-checking, healthy scepticism, and demonstrable information literacy. Speaking admittedly as somebody who genuinely loved the Summer of Grey Tesla Road Trip series of vlogs, this more-human-than-average Grey adventure is well-worth watching to the end.
One way I’ve found to enhance my nights as Dungeon Master is to call on experiences as an amateur musician and fan, to ramp up the intensity and sense of fantasy with playlists of tunes from the history of composed and recorded music.
I realised that this might be something I was OK at when I saw our party’s rogue lost in imagination and stabbing to the beat of a bit of Shostakovich.
Over the months some of the collections I’ve curated have picked up a few followers on Spotify and upvotes on Reddit but I thought it was time to put more effort in and start writing about it.
The opening post from Lute the Bodies, a new blog by my friend Alec. It promises an exploration of enhancing tabletop roleplaying with music, which is awesome: I’ve occasionally been known to spend longer picking out the music for a given roleplaying event than I have on planning the roleplaying activities themselves! Looking forward to see where this goes…
I write the integers 1-9999 (inclusive) on a huge chalkboard. Each number is written once.
During the night the board is visited by a series of naughty math elves (it’s a thing!)
Each elf approaches the board, selects two numbers at random, erases them, and replaces them with a new number that is the absolute difference of the two numbers erased.
This vandalism continues all night until there is just one number remaining.
I return to the board the next morning and find the single number of the board. The question is: Is this remaining number odd or even?
A fun, lightweight maths puzzle for your amusement. I was able to find the right answer pretty quickly by spotting the pattern; it took me longer to find the words to adequately explain the pattern.
This adventure took a lot of planning. It’s 350 miles from where I live to Glasgow. I have a Honda CG 125cc, and my maximum range in one day is around 200 miles – if I have the full day for travelling, which I wouldn’t have, most days. I figured if I was going to have a road trip, I’d have to make stop offs at various parts of the UK, to break it up. This actually worked out really well, as there are lots of parts of the UK that I wanted to visit.
After booking the series of hotel rooms, I started to think about the actual riding. It was two weeks before the trip. I didn’t have enough thermals, or a bike suit that was protective enough. I also didn’t have a way of storing luggage on my bike, or keeping it dry (and two laptops would be in the bags). There was also an issue with the chain on my bike that needed fixing. Not exactly a trivial to do list! So the next two weeks turned into a bit of an eBay and Amazon frenzy, with a trip down to see my dad in Kent to get the bike chain fixed, and rummage around for my old waterproofs in my grandparent’s attic. It was pretty close: the final item arrived the day before the trip. I got ridiculously lucky on eBay with my new, more visible, better padded, comfy bike suit though, which I love to bits. In hindsight, more time for all of this would have been helpful!
My friend Bev wrote about their motorcycling adventure up and down the UK; it’s pretty awesome.
Sure: I think you’ve earned a blowjob, Tailsteak. I think we might need a spin-off of Patreon where you can offer content creators sexual favours in exchange for their work…
But while we’ve learned to distrust user names and text more generally, pictures are different. You can’t synthesize a picture out of nothing, we assume; a picture had to be of someone. Sure a scammer could appropriate someone else’s picture, but doing so is a risky strategy in a world with google reverse search and so forth. So we tend to trust pictures. A business profile with a picture obviously belongs to someone. A match on a dating site may turn out to be 10 pounds heavier or 10 years older than when a picture was taken, but if there’s a picture, the person obviously exists.
No longer. New adverserial machine learning algorithms allow people to rapidly generate synthetic ‘photographs’ of people who have never existed. Already faces of this sort are being used in espionage.
Computers are good, but your visual processing systems are even better. If you know what to look for, you can spot these fakes at a single glance — at least for the time being. The hardware and software used to generate them will continue to improve, and it may be only a few years until humans fall behind in the arms race between forgery and detection.
Our aim is to make you aware of the ease with which digital identities can be faked, and to help you spot these fakes at a single glance.
I was at a conference last month where research was presented which concluded pretty solidly that the mechanisms used to make “deepfakes” meant that it was probably impossible to create artificial intelligence that can learn to distinguish between real and fake pictures of humans. Simply put, this is because the way we make such images is with generative adversarial networks, an AI technique which thrives upon having an effective discriminator component, and any research into differentiating between real and fake images feeds the capability of the next generation of discriminators!
Instead, then, the best medium-term defence against deepfakes is training humans to be able to identify them, and that’s what this website aims to do. I was pleased that I did very well on my first attempt (I sort-of knew what to look for already, based on a basic understanding of the underlying technologies) but I was also pleased that I was able to learn to do better with the aid of the authors’ tips. Nice.
Rapping about video games is one thing. Rapping about music/beatmatching video games takes this to a whole new level.
Some people fight their haters. Some people ignore their haters. Madilyn Bailey goes one step further and uses hate comments as the lyrics to a song.
To enable users to easily navigate to specific content in a web page, we propose adding support for specifying a text snippet in the URL. When navigating to such a URL, the browser will find the first instance of the text snippet in the page and bring it into view.
Web standards currently specify support for scrolling to anchor elements with name attributes, as well as DOM elements with ids, when navigating to a fragment. While named anchors and elements with ids enable scrolling to limited specific parts of web pages, not all documents make use of these elements, and not all parts of pages are addressable by named anchors or elements with ids.
This feature is currently implemented as an experimental feature in Chrome 74.0.3706.0 and newer. It is not yet shipped to users by default. Users who wish to experiment with it can use chrome://flags#enable-text-fragment-anchor. The implementation is incomplete and doesn’t necessarily match the specification in this document.
Allow specifying text to scroll and highlight in the URL:
Using this syntax
##targetText=[prefix-,]textStart[,textEnd][,-suffix] context |-------match-----| context
(Square brackets indicate an optional parameter)
This is a feature that I’ve wished that the Web had on many, many occasions. I’m sure you’ve needed it before, too: you’ve wanted to give somebody the URL of (or link to) a particular part of a page but there’s been no appropriately-placed anchor to latch on to. Being able to select part of the text on the page and just copy that after a
## in the address bar would be so much simpler.
Chrome’s implementation is somewhat conservative, requiring a prefix of
##targetText= (this minimises the risk of collision with other applications which store/pass data via hashes), but it’s still pretty full-featured, with support for prefixes and suffixes to the text to-be-selected. I quite like it, but of course it needs running down the standards track before it can be relied upon as anything other than a progressive enhancement.
I do wonder, though, whether this will be met with resistance by ad/subscription-supported content creators as a new example of the deep linking they seem to hate so much.
(with thanks to Jeremy Keith for sharing this)
If the different land uses of the UK were divided up into their percentage-ratio blocks, what would a 100-second tour of the country (with each second covering a single percent of the land usage) look like?
How can we increase gender representation in software engineering?
Our Developer Hiring Experience team analyzed this topic in a recent user-research study. The issue resonated with women engineers and a strong response enabled the team to gain deeper insight than is currently available from online research projects.
Seventy-one engineers who identified as women or non-binary responded to our request for feedback. Out of that pool, 24 answered a follow-up survey, and we carried out in-depth interviews with 14 people. This was a highly skilled group, with the majority having worked in software development for over 10 years.
While some findings aligned with our expectations, we still uncovered a few surprises.
Excellent research courtesy of my soon-to-be new employer about the driving factors affecting women who are experienced software engineers. Interesting (and exciting) to see that changes are already in effect, as I observed while writing about my experience of their recruitment process.
One of the best things about working at The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford? Pretending to be a PhD student for a photo shoot! Watch out for me appearing in a website near you…
My team and I do get up to some unusual stuff, it’s true. I took part in this photoshoot, too:
I’m absolutely not above selling out myself and my family for the benefit of some stock photos for the University, it seems. The sharp-eyed might even have spotted the kids in this video promoting the Ashmolean or a recent tweet by the Bodleian…
I was perhaps thinking about dark matter when I read this tweet from Andy Bell.
Interesting results. 1933 respondents with 78% using Sass or vanilla CSS.
Seeing Sass pull 49% confirms some theories of mine that _a lot_ of folks are still using it.
CSS-in-JS pulling a meagre 16% reminds me that as per, the (very) loud minority are really are a minority. https://t.co/1QzTq6KunY
— Andy Bell (@andybelldesign) July 29, 2019
The vast majority of respondents are still using Sass and vanilla CSS? Wow! This made me pause and think. Because I feel there’s an analogy here between that unseen dark matter, and the huge crowd of web developers who are using such “boring” technology stacks.
But when I take the time to learn a “new hotness”, these days, nine times out of ten it doesn’t “stick” for me. Why? Because most of the new technologies we seem to be inventing don’t actually add anything to the vast majority of use cases. Hipper (and often smarter) developers than me might latch on to the latest post-reational database or the most-heavyweight CSS-in-JS-powered realtime web framework, and they dominate the online discussion, but that doesn’t make their ideas right for my projects. They’re a loud minority with a cool technology, and I’m a little bit jealous that they have the time to learn and play with it… but I’ll just keep delivering value with the tools I’ve got, thanks.