Scientists Running For Office – Episode 66

Citizens of Tech episode 66 proves that, like Schrodinger’s cat, we can be both here and gone at the same time. Now that Eric and I have found compatible calendar space, we have cleverly cornered in canny cohesion the craftiest conversation starters we could connect with.

So Sutphen, slap down the stories we’re subjecting our citizens to today…

I was into typing before it was cool!

  • Retro styled bluetooth keyboard for your phone / tablet / other bluetooth type-y-tappy device.
  • Form over function? Probably, to some extent.
  • However you control the hipster-factor with configurations and options
  • Cherry switches
  • Diamond keycap – 3 years of R&D to enhance typing accuracy and comfort despite typing angle / technique.
  • Chrome keycaps – Full retro – mode. Look really cool. Probably terrible to type on if you’re doing more than light wordsmithery.
  • Macro Bar
    • Flip it up and start pecking at the keys
    • Return to “normal” position when you’re done recording
    • Tap it down to execute order 66… I mean, execute the macro you just recorded.
  • Bluetooth 4.2 – enabling low power mode – 6 months of idle time on 2 AA batteries
  • Pair with up to 5 devices
  • Windows / Android / Mac / iOS / Linux (pretty much anything that supports bluetooth
    • Switchable key layout for Win / iOS
    • Switchable key layout for US, UK, FR, DE
  • Hipster pouch (additional purchase)

GPS isn’t accurate enough for self-driving cars. NEED MOAR HD MAPZ.

  • GPS accuracy is a math problem. You need more numbers for the most accurate calculation. Terrain can get in the way, reducing GPS accuracy. Think hills, valleys, cityscapes.
  • And even then…
  • Autonomous vehicles deserve better.
  • “Fully aware of this need, car makers like BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford have been voting with their wallets. They’re investing in companies like Here and Civil Maps that are building the platforms and gathering the data required. The end result will be a high-definition 3D map of our road networks—and everything within a few meters of them—that’s constantly updated by vehicles as they drive along.”
  • Better maps starts with 96 megapixel camera arrays, plus a 32-beam LIDAR array to provide a 3D scan of the road .
  • Aiming for 2020 use.
  • 2 way information. Data comes from the scans, but cars have cameras and sensors that will be used to update the database in real-time. Machine learning (so called) to make sense of it all and apply it back to the maps.
  • nVidia GPUs will be powering the ML algorithms.

Fight the sySTEM

  • The article leads off talking about Tracy Van Houten, a Systems Engineer at NASA JPL
  • She’s been with NASA for 13 years and has worked on the Mars Curiosity Rover among other amazing projects.
  • She’s looking at walking away from her dream job to try to push anti-intellectualism out of Washington
  • She’s looking at running for 34th Congressional District of California, but she’s one of over 20 considering a run for it, so the campaign will be tough.
  • That’s really where the article heads, because it talks about how Tracy is not alone, there has been an upswing in the number of highly educated, STEM employed folks looking at getting into the political world; and how they have no idea how to run a campaign.
  • Enter – the 314 is a reference to… 3.14 – The short version of Pi.
    • “We are members of the STEM Community, grassroots supporters, and political activists committed to bring innovation to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, aggressively advocate for real solutions to climate change and elect more STEM-trained candidates to public office.”
    • Under The Scope: Our mission is to put members of Congress who are anti-science under the scope. By scrutinizing their actions and voting record that go against the facts and data, we will bring attention to practices and policies that are decidedly anti-science. It is no longer the time to sit idly by as partisan motives are promoted in direct opposition to leading scientific consensus on topics such as climate change, clean energy and evolution. 314 Action is committed to holding these members accountable for their actions and their votes.
    • They’re offering support and training for STEM folks in running a campaign for local and national offices.

Privacy Watch

Your Internet data can’t be bundled up and sold.

  • Popular notion lately that ISP’s can sell off your Internet usage to anyone that wants it. Not how that works.
  • There are many ways to track browsing behavior. For example, cookies.
  • But it is somewhat difficult to tie that behavior to a specific individual, especially for an ISP.
    • NAT, CG-NAT (less prevalent over time with IPv6, especially mobile/LTE networks)
    • As you move from place to place, you’re hiding behind a different IP.
    • Limited ability to store data.
    • Encryption.
  • We’re not saying impossible. But we are saying that there is no database in your ISP’s data center when they can say, “Susan Smith surfed these sites for this long and clicked on these things. And then she logged in at her bank. And then…”
  • So what’s really going on?
    • “When ISPs or online services have your data and “sell” it, it doesn’t mean that you can go to, say, AT&T and offer to buy “all of Louis Gohmert’s browsing history.” Instead, what happens is that these companies collect that data for themselves and then sell targeting. That is, when Gohmert goes to visit his favorite publication, that website will cast out to various marketplaces for bids on what ads to show. Thanks to information tracking, it may throw up some demographic and interest data to the marketplace. So, it may say that it has a page being viewed by a male from Texas, who was recently visiting webpages about boardgames and cow farming (to randomly choose some items). Then, from that marketplace, some advertisers’ computerized algorithms will more or less say “well, I’m selling boardgames about cows in Texas, and therefore, this person’s attention is worth 1/10th of a penny more to me than some other company that’s selling boardgames about moose.” And then the webpage will display the ad about cow boardgames. All this happens in a split second, before the page has fully loaded.
    • At no point does the ad exchange or any of the advertisers know that this is “Louis Gohmert, Congressional Rep.” Nor do they get any other info. They just know that if they are willing to spend the required amount to get the ad shown via the marketplace bidding mechanism, it will show up in front of someone who is somewhat more likely to be interested in the content.
    • That’s it.”
  • I will totally VPN all the things.
    • ORLY? That will not help. Just moves your piece to a different part of the board.
    • Obfuscate you personally a little more? Not with cookies.
    • Just means your browsing happens on someone else’s network that can do the same sort of tracking your local ISP was doing.
    • Only now, your performance is slower.
    • And maybe your VPN provider, where your traffic is de-encrypted, isn’t trustworth.
  • Use Ghostery that can help with some of the tracking, if you’re that paranoid.
    • Note that some sites just won’t work if you do. So if they are important sites to you, you might need to “trust” them in Ghostery.

Content I Like

Ghost In The Shell (2017 live action movie)

  • Been years since I saw the anime. Remember largely as this big impression it left on my brain with the word “awesome.”
  • The movie was good. It was not awesome.
  • The complex issues of robot sentience and related morality concerns were mostly not addressed.
  • The cyberpunk/online aspect was desperately underplayed.
  • The visuals were utterly stunning.
  • It was not endless, mind-numbing action.
  • It was not too long.
  • Surprisingly PG-13.

Into The Mind

  • “Sherpas Cinema creates a brain-melting, genre-blurring film that combines next-level skiing and riding with a story about the constant struggle between risk and reward. With this stunning cinematography, freeriding has never looked better.”

Today I Learned

TIL that there is a scientific measurement for the ‘risk of death’ of any action: the micromort. If an activity is rated as one micromort, you would have a one in a million chance of dying while doing it. Running a marathon is ~7 micromorts, sky diving 10, and climbing Mount Everest 40,000!

According to Wikipedia, “Vantablack is a substance made of vertically aligned carbon nanotube arrays and is the blackest artificial substance known, absorbing up to 99.965% of radiation in the visible spectrum.”

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