davidb's recent activity

  1. Comment on Lil Dicky - Earth in ~music

    davidb Link
    On the solutions page, they don't include nuclear power as an option for energy. With just wind and solar (and hydro - which they don't really touch on) we still need either massive energy storage...

    On the solutions page, they don't include nuclear power as an option for energy. With just wind and solar (and hydro - which they don't really touch on) we still need either massive energy storage solutions or "peaking" power plants to deal with the intermittent nature of solar and wind energy availability. If we don't embrace nuclear, those peaking power plants will likely be natural gas powered (unless we can build more hydro dams and use that for energy storage).

    2 votes
  2. Comment on Why vi rocks in ~comp

    davidb Link Parent
    I think the problem is that this list is meant to show the power of vim, which means a varied list of usage examples. In the real world, no one would be memorizing each of these examples. The list...

    I think the problem is that this list is meant to show the power of vim, which means a varied list of usage examples. In the real world, no one would be memorizing each of these examples. The list is constructed from primitive commands (that would be memorized) that combine to show the power of vim to do useful things that other editors likely can't do (ie: applying a regex to a selection of lines or emailing a paragraph).

    2 votes
  3. Comment on Why vi rocks in ~comp

    davidb Link Parent
    Agreed. It takes active engagement to learn new commands in vim. You start with something like vimtutor, then read the manual, testing commands as you go. Then, you need to practice, which means...

    Agreed. It takes active engagement to learn new commands in vim. You start with something like vimtutor, then read the manual, testing commands as you go. Then, you need to practice, which means you need to recognize editing patterns that could potentially be commands, look them up, and then use them. regularly.

    1 vote
  4. Comment on What are some good entry points for getting into poetry? in ~books

    davidb Link
    I can't really recommend a good starting point, but Anthony Etherin's palindrome and anagram experimental poetry re-sparked my interest in poetry. Check out some of the PDF pamphlets on his...

    I can't really recommend a good starting point, but Anthony Etherin's palindrome and anagram experimental poetry re-sparked my interest in poetry. Check out some of the PDF pamphlets on his website - aelindromes.pdf and the_white_whale.pdf particularly captured my fascination when I first discovered his work. Also, I haven't followed him closely, so I enjoyed finding his recently published line-by-line anagram of Hamlet, halt_me.pdf.

    2 votes
  5. Comment on Twitter Platform Manipulation - (Part 2/3) | SmarterEveryDay in ~tech

    davidb Link Parent
    Ya, I debated whether or not to call it "disguised" because I agree - he calls it out pretty clearly, but calling it "disguised" went along too well with the flow to not use it. Poetic license?

    Ya, I debated whether or not to call it "disguised" because I agree - he calls it out pretty clearly, but calling it "disguised" went along too well with the flow to not use it. Poetic license?

    1 vote
  6. Comment on Twitter Platform Manipulation - (Part 2/3) | SmarterEveryDay in ~tech

    davidb Link Parent
    Absolutely! I will add that "fearmongering the fearmongering" wasn't my goal, but concede it's a fair critique. I didn't and don't really have a strong conclusion, which might be why it came off...

    It's skepticism all the way down!

    Absolutely!

    I will add that "fearmongering the fearmongering" wasn't my goal, but concede it's a fair critique. I didn't and don't really have a strong conclusion, which might be why it came off as fearmongering. My primary claim is simply that it feels icky to me that the DoD + this VPN advertiser paid him to make this series. That doesn't contradict that there could be (and I will say that there is) some good information discussed in the video. All my claim does is provide motive and perspective (the series is US-military sponsored propaganda - we know because Destin says so in the video I linked).

    As for why the US DoD would pay for this series? I really don't know. My top guess would be to lobby public opinion and government for more funding for military multi-domain operations (particularly cyber and "human"). I would also think it is a useful recruiting tool - I'm sure plenty of tech-minded folks that watch Destin's channel have more of an interest in US national security jobs as a result of seeing that video. But, I can't make very strong claims for either, which is why I ended up more or less rambling around such claims in my first comment.

    We can debate whether or not the VPN advertiser influenced Destin (and can't really know for sure whether it did or not unless Destin says that it did), but I still think my claim of irony (which is the point I was trying to make by calling out the VPN ad) is valid.

    7 votes
  7. Comment on Twitter Platform Manipulation - (Part 2/3) | SmarterEveryDay in ~tech

    davidb Link
    Something I didn't see discussed in the previous discussion that still bothers me is the fact that Destin is a US Department of Defense (US Army) employee. I think he can still be honest, but the...

    Something I didn't see discussed in the previous discussion that still bothers me is the fact that Destin is a US Department of Defense (US Army) employee. I think he can still be honest, but the video that kicked off this entire series was commissioned by a US Army Four Star General while Destin was employed under him. Destin even says in that video, "this video is a weapon." In the Twitter video we're discussing in this thread, he mentions being contacted by NATO's Strategic Communications Center of Excellence and interviews Sebastian Bay on the topic of the social media black market.

    The reason this bothers me - this whole series is disguised propaganda by a state actor calling out disguised propaganda by state actors. Even more ironic, Destin uses all the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) that he stirs up to plug his VPN advertiser. Even funnier, as he determined in the previous video - most of these bot-based/fake accounts on YouTube and Twitter weren't actually state actors trying to manipulate platforms for political benefit and were instead clever folks trying to exploit the platforms for economic benefit (getting ad clicks). That's exactly what he's doing (manipulate you with fear-mongering video content so you want to secure yourself by signing up for this VPN service that paid for this series).

    I don't doubt that both economic and politically-motivated fraud are very real problems for these platforms, but I feel the impact is being overstated for political reasons, which is why I think it is important to discuss Destin's employment by DoD.

    All that said, I do agree with one of Destin's conclusions - that the way to combat this problem is by people developing better skepticism skills to assist their evaluation of accuracy, credibility, perspective, and relevance of potential propaganda.

    9 votes
  8. Comment on Should I go to college for computer science? in ~talk

    davidb Link
    As others stated - you do not need a degree to get a job, really a degree isn't strictly necessary for any career path. But, it can help to know what you want to do? Here's a quick high level...

    As others stated - you do not need a degree to get a job, really a degree isn't strictly necessary for any career path. But, it can help to know what you want to do? Here's a quick high level guide:

    If you want to do research or develop new technologies, get a degree. A degree can help you navigate the theoretical concepts of computer science (computer architecture, data structures, algorithms, programming language concepts, compilers, interpreters, parallel/distributed systems, graphics, AI, cryptography, databases, networking, etc). That theoretical knowledge is super useful in researching/developing new technologies. As an example: you want to do research for NASA/google/facebook/awesome new hardcore tech startup, you want to develop a new crypto algorithm, you want to work on new machine learning algorithms, you want to develop a new programming language, etc.

    If you'd rather develop products that utilize new technologies, a degree is only somewhat useful. It will help your understanding of how to use new technologies, so you can more quickly pick up and use new technologies. As an example of this: you want to take that fancy new computer vision classification algorithm and use it to infer the emotional state of someone from a photograph, you want to take a crypto algorithm and use it to develop the next shipping logistics blockchain product, you want to take a machine learning algorithm and use it to develop a model to suggest which brand of deodorant someone would most likely use based on their clothing and toilet paper purchases, you want to take a new programming language and write a website backend with it, etc.

    If you'd rather use existing technologies to develop applications and software products, a degree is much less useful. If your end goal is to be a web developer, knowing about a bunch of different programming languages and the details of how code is interpreted/compiled from high level languages down to machine code, how the CPU manipulates machine code, formal methods, etc - that won't very often be useful.

    All of those are just my recommendations, obviously not hard/fast rules. A degree can definitely be useful for web development, and even if you were to work in enterprise software as a "code monkey" that theoretical background can make it easier to get a job and to complete your work. If you're motivated, no need to go to college at all (even if you wanted to do academic research, the only benefit to you getting a degree over studying on your own would be the networking and credentials). You can get everything you need to learn from books and websites. You could probably teach yourself everything just with a computer and access to github.

    If you are specifically interested in web development, this roadmap provides a pretty good idea of what order to learn things in. It doesn't link to particular tutorials or courses, but it can help give you an idea of the landscape of core technologies without getting too burdened down in all of the different frameworks (though.. it does still include most of them).

    One final note - in a CS degree program you will not really learn as much of the practical side of software development in your coursework. Topics like software engineering lifecycle, project management, software design patterns, revision control, continuous integration, testing frameworks, debuggers, etc. tend to be glossed over in computer science coursework ("left as an exercise for the reader").

    5 votes
  9. Comment on How supermarkets tempt you to spend more in ~life

    davidb Link
    A friend of mine is an architect for a small-scale (20 store) corporate grocery chain and another friend owns an inner city upscale grocery store. I had always assumed my architect friend worked...

    A friend of mine is an architect for a small-scale (20 store) corporate grocery chain and another friend owns an inner city upscale grocery store. I had always assumed my architect friend worked primarily on the building architecture, but he spends most of his time creating store layouts. Talking with both of them about their jobs was quite fascinating. The architect works with psychology and marketing consultants, data analysts, the store managers, vendors, and corporate management on the store layout. His chain specifically targets locations where there is no/little competition (small towns), yet their product placement is still quite sophisticated. I knew things like staple items being placed in the back corner of the store, but it goes far past that even as of 10 years ago when we first started talking about his job.

    The store owner friend (only one store) spent a lot of his time discovering, negotiating with, and managing vendors. One thing that isn't discussed in the article is the amount of "woo-ing" those vendors do to influence their clients - things like suites at sports stadiums, special dinners and parties, etc. That happens in every industry, but it definitely a huge factor that vendors use to secure preferential placement.

    Additionally, there are two primary pricing models for large grocery chains - every day low prices and bargain-based prices. The two major grocery chains in my city represent each, respectively. The every day low price store ensures staple items are sold at the lowest possible price consistently, and the high-value items are priced at considerable markup. The bargain-based store puts out weekly fliers emphasizing their promotions: buy-one-get-three, meal value deals (buy all the taco ingredients and get free tortillas) and similar type deals that are loss leaders and undercut the competitor. However, all the other items in the store are highly variable pricing - updated weekly - so unless you really pay attention and only buy the bargain/sale items, your total bill can easily exceed what you'd pay at the other store. Both models have their merits.

    This is tangential, but something I've thought about in the past week: I've read a bunch of studies in the past about "food deserts" in cities and always assumed it referred to areas that are served by convenience marts rather than grocers (ie: twinkies are available, but carrots are not). I live near the downtown area of a small city. There are two grocery stores within a mile of my home, and a few nicer grocery stores within 3 miles. I walked to the closest store a week ago to pick up something for lunch and had a hell of a time finding healthy food. Outside of fresh produce, there weren't any healthy options. The nicer grocery stores have a variety of pre-prepared foods, frozen foods, etc. To give a concrete example - the only "healthy" food in the frozen food section was plain frozen vegetables. Everything else was high calorie with low nutrtional contents - pizza, burgers, fried chicken, etc. It made me curious if there is good data on nutritional content availability per grocery store. I haven't been able to find that data if it exists, but I am most curious what variables result in that product offering trend.. if the trend even exists. Is it simply a matter of the market demand, promotional offering from vendors, price sensitivity, etc. - what results in the pricing structure they use?

    3 votes
  10. Comment on People of Tildes, what apps and programs do you use regularly on your PC? in ~tech

    davidb Link
    OS: Arch Linux Browser: Chromium (work/productivity), Firefox (personal and work testing), and Brave (personal) Music: Pianobar (pandora CLI), ncmpc (mpd CLI for local music), youtube Text: Gedit,...

    OS: Arch Linux
    Browser: Chromium (work/productivity), Firefox (personal and work testing), and Brave (personal)
    Music: Pianobar (pandora CLI), ncmpc (mpd CLI for local music), youtube
    Text: Gedit, google docs
    Notes: Gedit, zim, gmail, google keep, or a physical notebook. I've been trying to convince myself to give Wolfram Notebooks a try, but since I don't know the language well it's been hard to jump into it.
    Scripting: python, jupyter notebooks
    Code: vim
    File browser: Nautilus
    Backup: borg (laptop) -> freeNAS server (local) -> CrashPlan PRO (cloud)
    PDF: evince (reading), xournal (editing/markup)
    Terminal: urxvt
    Videos: mplayer, ranger (for browsing media files). Plex browser client for watching from media server
    Password vault: Lastpass (work), KeepassX (personal)
    Graphics editing: inkscape (vector), gimp (raster)
    Video editing: lightworks (quick stuff I know I'll only work on), Adobe Premeire and After Effects (stuff I know I'm going to need other people to work on as well - I run these on a remote desktop with powerful graphics)
    Circuit boards: KiCAD (CAD - schematic capture, board layout), LT Spice (simulation), TopoR (autorouter)

    4 votes
  11. Comment on I might switch my PC media player from VLC to something else due to potential data leaks. What other media player should I choose if I do so? in ~tech

    davidb Link
    It's interesting that Spyhunter is picking up on that CVE. You should be completely fine. The vulnerability has already been fixed in the VLC code base and it looks like most OS packages starting...

    It's interesting that Spyhunter is picking up on that CVE. You should be completely fine. The vulnerability has already been fixed in the VLC code base and it looks like most OS packages starting with 3.0.6 include the patch to fix it. Make sure you are using the latest VLC (version 3.0.6) and if so, you can safely ignore that message. Even if you weren't, as long as you aren't opening CAF files, you have nothing to worry about with the current release.

    https://www.cvedetails.com/cve/CVE-2018-19857/

    10 votes
  12. Comment on Virginia governor signs bill making animal cruelty a felony in ~news

    davidb Link Parent
    His voting record, personal life, and professional career just doesn't support that. The gerrymandering case is the best evidence you have, and that is embroiled in political controversy more than...

    His voting record, personal life, and professional career just doesn't support that. The gerrymandering case is the best evidence you have, and that is embroiled in political controversy more than it is straight racism that I have to take the Occam's razor approach - the legislature wanted to secure more GOP districts and used the tools at their disposal to do so.

    I don't even want to defend the guy, but that level of "the other side is pure evil" rhetoric is leading to some bad ideas, specifically your claim that "words are wind," actions don't matter, but a hand gesture betrays the true Janus-faced insidiousness. Reality is more complicated than the idea that the GOP are pure evil and I believe you'll be more effective in seeing the policies you care about enacted if you acknowledge that, rather than worry about some dude's hands.

    1 vote
  13. Comment on Virginia governor signs bill making animal cruelty a felony in ~news

    davidb Link Parent
    That seems to me like quite a stretch. When I've been photographed and video-graphed for PR stuff, it can be awkward to know what to do with my hands. I could see myself ending up with an awkward...

    That seems to me like quite a stretch. When I've been photographed and video-graphed for PR stuff, it can be awkward to know what to do with my hands. I could see myself ending up with an awkward hand gesture like that. That seems like the simplest explanation here.

    If I take it as you say, that he is a racist and his hand is dogwhistling, how do you explain this cognitive dissonance?

    1 vote
  14. Comment on Virginia governor signs bill making animal cruelty a felony in ~news

  15. Comment on Podcasting Beginner Tips in ~creative

    davidb Link
    Focus on engaging content first, build up a relationship with your audience (lots of patreon type stuff is making the audience feel like part of the community - they'll reward your engagement)....

    Focus on engaging content first, build up a relationship with your audience (lots of patreon type stuff is making the audience feel like part of the community - they'll reward your engagement). Also, you'll be the one building your own audience. It's very much not "if you build it they will come" - your job will be promotion. Book guests spots for yourself on more successful podcasts with related audiences, book guests from more successful podcasts for your show. Use libsyn (or a similar service). Don't invest too much into your gear/setup - decent quality audio is all you need if you have solid content.

    7 votes
  16. Comment on What are you doing this weekend? in ~talk

    davidb Link Parent
    Is there a good video on how to contribute to OpenStreetMap? I like the idea and would put some time into it, but every time I've started to research it I've been overwhelmed.

    Is there a good video on how to contribute to OpenStreetMap? I like the idea and would put some time into it, but every time I've started to research it I've been overwhelmed.

    1 vote
  17. Comment on What are you doing this weekend? in ~talk

    davidb Link
    It's finally "warm" in north eastern US, so I will be outside - even if it rains. I stopped at the park today on my way in to work and just sat on a bench enjoying being able to wear just a...

    It's finally "warm" in north eastern US, so I will be outside - even if it rains. I stopped at the park today on my way in to work and just sat on a bench enjoying being able to wear just a t-shirt and not be miserable outside.

    I'm having a bunch of friends over tomorrow that I haven't really had an opportunity to really hang out with in over a year due to our lives being busy and calendars not aligning. I'm ridiculously excited about it. We'll talk, drink, watch music videos, play card and board games, and go out to a restaurant to eat. A simple, but lovely time.

    Finally, I'll be spending whatever "free time" I have coding a website and app for Agape. We came up with a tagline for it a couple weeks ago "A new way to say I love you" and I haven't been more excited about an idea in years. The first version of the product just texts you and your partner daily questions. Once you both answer, you get to see your partner's response. I was skeptical of the idea at first, but after using it for a month I think we're really onto something that is fun and will improve relationships. The questions are written by a clinical psychologist and I'll be working more with him in the next couple of months designing and implementing some NLP and machine learning to further personalize the questions. If you're interested in the product, check out the website for it.

    1 vote
  18. Comment on Making Activated Carbon | Cody'sLab in ~science

    davidb Link
    We use activated carbon as a filter media for our laser cutter. The exhaust from the machine is pulled through about 50lbs of activated carbon. We used to buy it pellitized but found a cheaper...

    We use activated carbon as a filter media for our laser cutter. The exhaust from the machine is pulled through about 50lbs of activated carbon. We used to buy it pellitized but found a cheaper source that is just ground. The carbon grabs all the nasty smelling gas that is released from the vaporized acrylic.

    The commercial filtering machines in our price range are made for a variety of industrial applications, so the filter media usually includes potassium permanganate as well the charcoal (up to a 50/50 mixture), which isn't very cost efficient for us since all we need is the activated charcoal.

    We briefly looked into making it ourselves, but there's a bunch of manufacturers of filter media and we were able to find it from a number of them for a good price. Still, we have to change the filter media every 1-2 months if we are using the laser for long periods of time. I've been curious how saturated the carbon actually is once the VOC sensor reaches our limit and we change the media. So, the most interesting part of the video for me was the titration experiment at the end where he measured how much iodine his carbon absorbs. Prior to that, my only idea was to measure the density of the carbon before and after.

    2 votes
  19. Comment on What are you an "expert" on? in ~talk

    davidb Link Parent
    Part of my profession in that schools are one of the customers of my business, part of my passion/interest in that I care about education. Charter schools have done good things in areas where...

    Part of my profession in that schools are one of the customers of my business, part of my passion/interest in that I care about education.

    Charter schools have done good things in areas where they're most needed (school districts that have been failing for a long time). If I think about why those institutions fail (obviously, this is just my opinion) - it's usually community/family problems that beat the "spark" out of teachers. That, combined with poor resources for the school result in increased stresses on administrators, in turn resulting in high turnover (or worse - apathy). New teachers come in and have limited resources to work with - so it is a daily battle for them to care or even be able to make a difference in the lives of their students. All of that results in a failing institution which can allow for bad players to take advantage (corruption, unqualified labor, etc.).

    That environment is what resulted in the idea of Charter schools that provide an opportunity to build a new institution with staff "that cares" and gives them the ability to perform without institutional barriers - often times, they even have wide freedom in curriculum, instructional methods, all of it. They can be an amazing model if everyone in the school is motivated for achievement-based outcomes. That is a requirement of their charter, but even so, it is a model that can still be abused due to tax incentives and the like. Charter schools aren't some silver bullet, and I have seen multiple charter schools with good intentions (and less good intentions) that result in poor experiences all around - lower pay/benefits for teachers, fewer resources for teachers/students/administrators, poor achievement outcomes. There's one charter school in particular that I've worked with that has some great staff, great admins, great resources, etc - but the community they're serving has so many other compounding factors that I think the school will end up losing its charter. In opposition to that, another I've worked with has poor administration, ok teachers, and poor resources. They will meet their objectives and ultimately serve as a slightly better alternative to the public school district for the students, and a worse alternative for the teachers. However, the majority of the charter schools I have worked with are well managed and I think will result in better outcomes all around than the public school buildings they are drawing their students from. But, that's because those buildings had serious institutional problems to start with.

    3 votes
  20. Comment on What are you an "expert" on? in ~talk

    davidb Link Parent
    That conversation is happening, but not in a massive public discourse kind of way. One kind of sticking point I have - the idea of education as a holdover from mass-production factory jobs is an...

    That conversation is happening, but not in a massive public discourse kind of way.

    One kind of sticking point I have - the idea of education as a holdover from mass-production factory jobs is an oversimplification. It is an idea that comes from the historians of the 1960s arguing that public education existed as a means to suppress the middle class. The progressives of the Progressive Era that created the expanding public education system, however, had noble motives its expansion - so this interpretation, I think, is misguided. It certainly was the social elite in the Progressive Era pushing for reform of public schools, but for the purposes of wrangling back political party control of education - not expanding it. America has had tax-supported public education since before its founding (as colonies). Compulsory education began in 1852, with every state requiring elementary education by 1918. Some of the curriculum was, still is, and always will be focused on training for the industrial skills of the time, and (because of the complexities of training teachers) it will always be a little bit behind the industry, but I think that the common hand wave of education as "daycare for factory employees so their kids can be trained to follow in their footsteps" disagrees with the reality.

    I also think people are being disingenuous with the history of the industrial revolution when it comes to new technologies like AI. Standardizing industrial processes has always had a goal of eliminating human labor - it is often the most costly line item for any category of industry - manufacturing, information, entertainment, etc. So, yes, jobs will be eliminated with AI, and people will have to be retrained, but the idea of a post scarcity economy happening seems silly and even if it does happen, that resulting in a change in the values of public education seems misguided. I think the values of the education system are constantly evolving and improving, so I do not see the need to treat it as a crisis.

    That said - AI instruction and assessment will give much better results for individual students, and there is much discussion of how AI should be deployed in education. With the amount of data collected and processed through these systems, we may be able to evolve past "standardized testing" that everyone loves to hate. We haven't really found a better, practical solution than standardized testing yet, but I think we may be able to through machine learning and AI.

    Even more interesting - pedagogy research has been rapidly adopting breakthroughs in neuroscience (things like fMRI, eye movement, etc) and we will see lots more interesting studies on what neuroscience can teach us about and how it can improve the way we learn. One concrete example of this - there's been much debate over the importance of syntax when learning computer science (should we use block based systems with simple syntax rules or textual programming languages with complex, strict syntax rules - which of these result in better programmers and/or more programmers). Neuroscience research techniques lets these researchers quantify things like cognitive load and will allow them to potentially perform longitudinal studies on students as they learn computer science to ultimately answer these types of questions.

    4 votes