Alex

Meet the Robin Hood of Science.

Alexandra Elbakyan, my fucking hero. Been meaning to write about her for a while now. Because of her work I’ve been able to access and read things I would’ve had no easy way to — and so have hundreds of researchers with funding too poor to pay extortionate fees. I do have a friend or two in academia with access to most things, but I don’t like to bother them all the time when I want something.

Not everyone has that advantage, though.

People like her should win the Nobel Peace Prize. Elsevier and other scam companies should be burned to the ground.

Alexandra E. rules.

Herding the cattle

I am not opposed to encryption in itself. Quite the opposite.

But Mozilla and Google and others are using encryption as a cudgel to force people into services they don’t and can’t control. This isn’t a side effect. This is the intended result.

Expect to see more of this bamboozlement sold as “security” when in reality it’s much less secure from a number of important threats — including from the companies themselves who now control all of your data.

True security would be empowering people to have control of and say over their own data, all the time. What these large companies are doing is just using a nimiety of pseudo-security to make it too difficult for even someone technically-competent to be able to provision and operate their own services without lots of time invested and unnecessary work.

For the same reason in other spaces, it’s why large companies actually like regulation — it eliminates competitors in their arena who do not have the resource base they do to comply with them.

I don’t track calories

I wanted to elevate my comment (slightly edited) to the front after a reader complained that I didn’t report any actual calorie numbers for my consumption posts:

I don’t track calories at all, sorry, not even approximately. Calories reported on manufacturer’s labels are notoriously wrong and I neither measure my food by weight or track by calorie. Only by what you see above.

And yet I still managed to get rid of and keep off 25%+ of my body weight for over five years.

So I do what works for me. If you want actual numbers, you’ll have to track yourself. But I guarantee it’ll be off by a lot and be misleading. Also many of the things I eat I have no way to estimate the calories as they aren’t the types of places who post this (small bakeries, etc.), and any estimate I’d make independently would be off by 30% or so, at least. Perhaps more.

That said, I changed the post to make it more accurate. The only way to truly track calories relatively accurately for anyone would be to purchase or somehow gain use of a laboratory-grade calorimeter, use it on an exact duplicate of the food you intend to eat, and then eat the non-destroyed dupe. And then — even then — it is not well-known how every body responds to each food eaten, how calories are processed by the same person at different times (hormonal and diurnal changes, etc) nor how differing compositions of foods with the same calories as measured by a calorimter will be processed and perhaps stored differently. Nutrition science just is not very solid. Wish it was, but it isn’t.

That said, calories in, calories out is still the way to lose weight. Judge what to eat by how your body responds to it, with self-experiment, is my advice — not that you sought any. Calorie counting in most cases probably is not helpful and is going to be wrong by at the minimum 20%, and most likely 30%+. Which is exactly why I did not even attempt to report calories and have never tracked them and never will.

That was the end of the comment. One seeking certitude where there is none will never find it. QED.

Screened out

Yet another reason for diversity in tech: there would be no lack of small phones if 50% of phone designers and engineers were women.

But in bounding after large screens, phone makers seemed to ignore the usability issues that accompany them. Small studies have shown before that 4.3 inches is about as big as a phone can get before people start struggling to use it. The time to operate the phone slows down significantly because one-hand use is awkward—and that’s for average men’s hands. Assuming a normal distribution, for half of men and most women, a phone bigger than 4.3 inches—like the current smallest iPhone—is too big.

I have pretty large hands, and even with that being true anything beyond 4 inches I find unusable. A phone with a 3.7 inch screen would be perfect for me.

I know, some women choose large phones on purpose. A few times in public I’ve seen a woman with a 6+ inch phone hold it up to her face and it’s so large that it nearly covers her whole head. This is kind of funny because it looks like some Alice in Wonderland tableau.

But most women — like my partner — would choose smaller phones if any were for sale.

As would I. So in other words phone makers are not just ignoring half the market — they are probably ignoring 60% or more of the market.

What’s that about the omniscalar efficiency of capitalism again?

World changing

I’ve seen loads of articles lately about how the world isn’t changing at all — that none of the advances since the 1920s have really mattered in any way. That technology is and has stagnated. In some ways, I agree with some of this but in most ways I think it’s utterly delusional and extremely harmful to what happens next, bad or good.

These misguided ideas are all of a piece with the people who just can’t see social change no matter how quick or how drastic (and these people are the vast majority).

Sure, if you are just talking about physical characteristics of reality and meeting basic human needs (food, water, housing) then yeah, we pretty much got there by the 1930s.

But are humans — and is modern society — just an epiphenomenon of basic needs being met? Is that all that matters, all that is consequential to a life? To a society? To a polity?

No, of course not. This is obviously wrong. And pretty damn stupid.

To be clear, I’m not aligning myself with the singularity nuts or the Extropians or any of these also-delusional groups. They are just as useless for having any cogent thoughts.

Nor am I walking a middle ground. No, I am forging a new path that takes into account that what matters to most modern, non-impoverished humans is not some basic meeting of physical needs but in the informational spaces in which that person dwells and who controls, influences and corrupts those.

One of the reasons in fact for the narrative that nothing done since the 1920s matters is so that those who very much realize that is false can successfully monopolize and dominate what has become nearly — and in some cases more — important than food, water and housing.

We live in an information society. Yes, that is a cliché but no one repeating that cliché seems to actually know what it implies.

And technology of late has made the control of information the most important factor in success and flourishment on the micro and the macro scales.

Pretending that none of the absolutely amazing and information-space-enlarging technologies coming to fruition in the last 30-50 years — as Ian Welsh and most others do — don’t matter at all is so damn dangerous I don’t even have words for it.

(Also, I am glad I’m not an academic, because I don’t care about being published or even being widely read. But I do care about coming up with original ideas with no one’s sanction (yes, I intend both meanings of that contranym) and being able to call the stupid “stupid,” which unless you are very famous you cannot do in an academic paper.)

Windows 10 steals everything

This is a clean, unused Windows 10 install and it exfiltrates massive amount of data.

I also discovered the same thing in my own analysis which I never posted due to lack of time to write it up (would’ve involved several hours of work). This is contra all those who said, “If you turn off all the options, it doesn’t send any data!” They were of course completely deluded and wrong. As wrong as could be.

Here is the roughly 8-hour network traffic analysis of 5508 connection attempts of an unused, base install of Windows 10 Enterprise (NOTE: I did not remove any 192.168.1.x home network IP addresses from the analysis).

3967 connection attempts to 51 different Microsoft IPs, too, all on an unused install. Just imagine what happens if you use the damn thing.

Those who say that Windows 10 does not steal all your data are completely mistaken (of course many of those who claim that on internet forums are probably paid to do so).

Status

Dia 7

Availed myself of these aliments, Feb 7:

  • One almond knot pastry. Brunch.
  • Two blueberry-pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup and butter, cheese grits, and a fried egg over medium with some cheddar on top. Dinner.

And that’s a week of data — everything with any calories at all that I consumed (even single bites of food) reported and none omitted.

Out of touch

This article is way out of touch. At first I was interested. Then just annoyed.

Now, there isn’t anything particularly unusual about young white kids identifying with hip-hop culture. That’s been happening since the beginning. But the performance of hip-hop culture as a normalized part of white identity is fairly unusual.

That’s been happening since the 1990s. Probably since the 1980s, but went mainstream in the 90s. Vine and the internet had nothing at all to do with that.

The part about black contributions being downplayed or minimized is correct, though, and has been happening since forever.

Bye, Twitter

If Twitter implements this, the few Twitter feeds I pay any attention to will be deleted from my bookmarks and I won’t go back there again.

An algorithm-tampered timeline is completely useless and is another concession to the moron contingent — the same ones who can’t stay off Facebook — and not something that I’ll find usable even as an observer (I do not and never will have a Twitter account myself).

Like Firefox, Twitter seems hellbent on destroying its one (in this case, small) advantage over other services.

Good luck to them with that.

For reference, this is how goddamn clueless the Twitter engineers are about their own product. Comically idiotic.