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Justin Mason's Weblog Posts

Links for 2022-09-26

  • Google Photos corrupting images

    Is Google experimenting with a new (and broken) compression algorithm?

    Over the weekend, people began noticing that their years-old photos (over five years, approximately) have lines and deep cracks running through them, as well as other blurry or distorted areas. White dots are also a common occurrence. Some images are more damaged than others with seemingly no pattern to what’s impacted or the severity. It’s weirdly somewhat analogous to physical water damage, with reports across Google Photos for Android, iOS, and the web. According to those affected, the corruption persists when downloading the image. This apparently applies to both individual downloads and when using Google Takeout. The original copies of pictures do not appear to be impacted, but the edited ones are what appear in the Google Photos apps. 

    (tags: google google-photos images compression fail artifacts)

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Links for 2022-09-23

  • ‘I’m Dropping My COVID Hubris,’ Vows a Top Immunologist

    Commentary on the study led by Ziyad Al-Aly at the Washington University School of Medicine from an Aussie immunologist —

    the researchers found that the risk of heart, brain, kidney and blood complications all increased with each subsequent infection. As Goodnow has noted about the findings, “The risk of cardiovascular disease, for example, increased after one infection, but doubled in people who had two infections, and tripled in those who had been infected thrice.” Similar risks were found for heart disease, blood clotting problems, brain decline and diabetes. Nor did vaccines seem to help in preventing these problems, which most frequently occur up to six months after infection. “Every time you dip your bucket in that COVID well, you’ve got the same chance of a whole lot of bad things happening,” explained Goodnow, who considers the veterans study “really important real-world data.” His takeaway: “COVID-19 is not just a cold, and having it before doesn’t ‘get it over with.’”

    (tags: covid-19 long-covid health illness)

  • Long covid—an update for primary care

    The British Medical Journal’s set of guidelines for GPs and primary care providers on how to help long covid sufferers — gives a good idea of the current state of affairs for this tricky syndrome.

    What you need to know: Long covid (prolonged symptoms following covid-19 infection) is common; The mainstay of management is supportive, holistic care, symptom control, and detection of treatable complications; Many patients can be supported effectively in primary care by a GP with a special interest.

    (tags: bmj long-covid covid-19 care)

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Links for 2022-09-22

  • Long-term neurologic outcomes of COVID-19

    Our results show that in the postacute phase of COVID-19, there was increased risk of an array of incident neurologic sequelae including ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, cognition and memory disorders, peripheral nervous system disorders, episodic disorders (for example, migraine and seizures), extrapyramidal and movement disorders, mental health disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, sensory disorders, Guillain–Barré syndrome, and encephalitis or encephalopathy. We estimated that the hazard ratio of any neurologic sequela was 1.42 (95% confidence intervals 1.38, 1.47) and burden 70.69 (95% confidence intervals 63.54, 78.01) per 1,000 persons at 12 months. The risks and burdens were elevated even in people who did not require hospitalization during acute COVID-19.

    (tags: covid-19 veterans papers via:eric-topol neurology health medicine disease long-covid)

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Links for 2022-09-21

  • Cache stampede

    Nice terminology — similar to the “thundering herd” problem seen in distributed systems. “A type of cascading failure that can occur when massively parallel computing systems with caching mechanisms come under very high load. This behaviour is sometimes also called dog-piling”

    (tags: caching distcomp caches cache-stampedes thundering-herd dogpiling failures cascading-failures load)

  • To boost or not to boost – by Eric Topol

    Where we are with COVID boosters:

    There’s ample evidence that a 3rd shot or 4th shot (1st or 2nd booster) will help provide important protection, and that is especially vital for people age 50+, with ample support for the recommendation for all age 12 and older to get boosters. The right question is about the 5th booster, for which there are no clinical data yet, but will likely extend a high level of protection against severe Covid. But 4 or 6 months isn’t going to cut it as a public health protection policy, as there will be further attrition of interest and uptake for boosters as we go forward. Fortunately, we’re declining in cases and will likely experience a fairly quiescent phase (further descent, no surge) with respect to infections and hospitalizations for the next couple of months until BA.2.75.2 gets legs (or an alternative BA.2 derivative). Now is the time to stop chasing SARS-CoV-2 and start mounting an aggressive get- ahead strategy. There’s the intertwined triad to contend with: more immune escape, more evidence of imprinting, and the inevitability of new variants that are already laying a foundation for spread. Enough of the booster after booster, shot-centric approach; it has been formidable, lifesaving, sickness-avoiding, and essential as a bootstrap, temporizing measure. Now we need to press on with innovation for more durable, palatable, and effective solutions. They are in our reach.

    (tags: covid-19 boosters vaccination omicron immunity)

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Links for 2022-09-14

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Links for 2022-09-11

  • Online Art Communities Begin Banning AI-Generated Images

    ‘As AI-generated art platforms like DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion explode in popularity, online communities devoted to sharing human-generated art are forced to make a decision: should AI art be allowed?’ This makes sense, IMO — or at least sideline them to their own parts of the forum… (via Waxy)

    (tags: ai art via:waxy stable-diffusion dall-e midjourney)

  • Loab

    “I discovered this woman, who I call Loab, in April. The AI reproduced her more easily than most celebrities. Her presence is persistent, and she haunts every image she touches. CW: Take a seat. This is a true horror story, and veers sharply macabre.” Top-notch creepypasta, and/or real-world creepiness; either a ghost in the codec as Hari Kunzru would put it, or — let’s face it — AI’s haunted

    (tags: ai horror latent-space cryptids hauntings ghosts creepypasta)

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Links for 2022-09-08

  • Facebook Engineers Don’t Know Where They Keep Your Data

    LOL, this is madness. Move fast and forget everything:

    In the March 2022 hearing, Zarashaw and Steven Elia, a software engineering manager, described Facebook as a data-processing apparatus so complex that it defies understanding from within. The hearing amounted to two high-ranking engineers at one of the most powerful and resource-flush engineering outfits in history describing their product as an unknowable machine. […] The fundamental problem, according to the engineers in the hearing, is that […] the company never bothered to cultivate institutional knowledge of how each of these component systems works, what they do, or who’s using them.

    (tags: data engineering facebook meta privacy fail culture work)

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Links for 2022-09-07

  • Serverless Messaging: Latency Compared

    Various AWS queueing/messaging services’ latencies compared in eu-west-1: ‘When latency matters, there are a few obvious winners. SQS Standard can deliver a message to a consumer in as fast as 14 ms and is seldomly slower than 100 ms, assuming low batch sizes. Kinesis with Enhanced Fan-Out is only slightly slower and allows for multiple consumers and a long history of events. SNS falls in the low latency category too, although the SNS FIFO option includes more moving parts and thus a larger latency spread, up to half a second. Step Functions and DynamoDB Streams take up the middle section, with P50 latencies up to about 200 ms. The highest latency is introduced by EventBridge and Kinesis Data Streams without Enhanced Fan-Out. These services add at least a few hundred milliseconds to your integrations, but can easily run up to a second or more.’

    (tags: aws latency messaging queues architecture ops sqs sns kinesis)

  • Energy Monitoring: 2022 Edition

    home energy monitoring using HomeAssistant, MQTT, and a set of power-monitoring smart plugs preflashed with the open Tasmota firmware. This is all very practical, and the power-socket-based approach means no rewiring is necessary. I think this is the best UI I’ve seen so far for a home energy optimization system

    (tags: home energy monitoring tasmota plugs electricity homeassistant)

  • Lithium-Ion Batteries: Charging Guide for Maximum Endurance

    tl;dr: “Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries should be kept at charge levels between 30% and 70% at all times. Full charge/discharge cycles should be avoided if possible. Exceptions to this can be made occasionally to readjust the charge controller and battery capacity meter. Modern batteries do not have to be conditioned, and are at peak capacity out of the box. If you need to store batteries for long time periods you should charge them to roughly half their capacity and put them in the fridge. Very high and very low temperatures should be avoided, particularly while charging. When choosing a charger quality is key, and high quality chargers are by and large interchangeable.”

    (tags: batteries lifetime lithium-ion charging chargers)

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Links for 2022-09-06

  • What is Fog Data Science?

    EFF post on a data broker being misused by US police for warrantless “dragnet” surveillance:

    Fog claims that their product is made of [location] data willingly given by people. But people did not hand their geolocation data over to Fog or the police, willingly or even knowingly. Rather, they gave it over, for example, to a weather app so that they could see if it will rain in their town today. When they downloaded the app, they may have clicked a box purporting to grant various so-called “consents,” but no reasonable person expects this will result in the app tracking all their movements, the app developer selling this sensitive information to a data broker, and police ultimately buying it.
    and this is why the GDPR is so valuable.

    (tags: fog police surveillance gdpr privacy data-privacy location)

  • How a tool to map computer viruses came to power biology research

    This is some fantastic symmetry! Years ago, I took the BLAST bioinformatics algorithm, normally used to spot correlations between DNA/RNA sequences, and applied it to correlate and detect spam. And now here’s UMAP, an algorithm used to correlate and detect malware and viruses, going in the opposite direction!

    When mathematicians Leland McInnes and John Healy walked into their work’s annual “Big Dig” — a sort of classified hackathon for Canada’s version of the National Security Agency — in 2017, they were not thinking about biology at all. They wanted to find a way to quickly spot the differences between computer viruses. They ended up creating a tool to simplify datasets and visualize the data points in them: an algorithm they named Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection, or UMAP. They published a paper on it in 2018. To their great surprise, in fewer than five years, it has become one of the most ubiquitous tools in modern biology research. UMAP has now been used to study everything from forecasting rain in the Alps to identifying the many-hued pigments in a Gauguin artwork to modeling how Covid-19 tweets are disseminated. And, of course, scientists have applied UMAP to studying the actual virus itself. The technique is now the method of choice for most computational biologists who want to see what, exactly, is going on in a dataset.

    (tags: dna rna sequences matching correlation spam antispam malware umap blast algorithms)

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Links for 2022-09-05

  • don’t use JVM Flight Recorder profiling

    Solid tip from Nitsan Wakart on Twitter:

    If you are profiling for a CPU bottleneck [in java], DO NOT RELY ON JVM FLIGHT RECORDER METHOD PROFILING. Not even a little bit. Use `async-profiler` for profiling(`-e cpu,lock,alloc`), with `–jfrsync default/profile` for extra JVM/JDK events.

    (tags: profiling java performance optimization jvm async-profiler via:twitter)

  • The Ice-Cold Alchemy of Beer Slushies – Imbibe Magazine

    I had no idea that the beer slushy had been so perfected in Japan:

    In March 2012, Kirin pushed beer even closer to Arctic climes with the Ichiban Shibori Frozen Draft: a draft beer topped with a multi-inch-thick angelic swirl of marshmallow fluff-like frozen foam. At that time, ice-cold beer was booming in Japan, says Tsuneo Mitsudomi, president of Kirin Brewery of America, and Kirin sought its own take on the trend that also served a practical purpose. Inspired by a frozen smoothie machine found in Italy, Kirin lab techs developed technology capable of whipping up beer—yes, 100 percent beer—into a froyo-like state. “We focused on the function which can keep beer cold, and magical looks,” Mitsudomi says. Kirin spent roughly five years perfecting the texture and temperature (23 degrees Fahrenheit) of its frozen foam. An unorthodox lid, the layer of frozen foam not only prevents carbonation from quickly escaping, but also insulates the glass for 30 minutes, more time than it takes to polish off the average pint.
    Also “jelly beer”, excellent tech from Thailand:
    At Uncle Boons, the beer slushy takes the form of bia wun, or jelly beer. Unlike other beer slushies, jelly beer is shaped and served in the bottle. A motorized barrel sourced from Thailand is filled with ice, water and salt, the bottles placed within. The whole apparatus gently rocks back and forth with the enthusiasm of a small dingy to agitate its contents. The salted water drops to 27 degrees, while the pressure inside the bottle keeps the beer from freezing over and exploding. Once the beer is removed from the barrel, the bottle is given a shake, then a sharp tap, and ice crystals begin to form within. As the cap is removed, the beer starts to froth and foam, freezing over in a molecular equation most often described as magic.

    (tags: beer bia-wun jelly-beer slushies drinks cocktails beer-slushies thailand japan kirin beer-ice-cream)

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Links for 2022-09-01

  • How Google Cloud and AWS Approach Customer Carbon Emissions – Last Week in AWS Blog

    Google wins:

    On a larger scale, Google Cloud is already at 100% carbon neutrality, apparently via offsets and a few other accounting approaches, with a goal to move to 100% renewable energy for all cloud regions by 2030. Meanwhile, AWS’s carbon footprint tool is an embarrassment to AWS and its stated goal of reaching 100% renewable energy usage by 2025. The bottom line: One of these carbon neutrality approaches is indicative of a thoughtful approach to partnering with customers to lead to a better climate story around cloud usage. The other appears to have been phoned in by clowns the night before it was due.

    (tags: aws google carbon climate-change co2 hosting)

  • Calling Bullshit

    The world is awash in bullshit. Politicians are unconstrained by facts. Science is conducted by press release. Higher education rewards bullshit over analytic thought. Startup culture elevates bullshit to high art. Advertisers wink conspiratorially and invite us to join them in seeing through all the bullshit — and take advantage of our lowered guard to bombard us with bullshit of the second order. The majority of administrative activity, whether in private business or the public sphere, seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit. We’re sick of it. It’s time to do something, and as educators, one constructive thing we know how to do is to teach people. So, the aim of this course is to help students navigate the bullshit-rich modern environment by identifying bullshit, seeing through it, and combating it with effective analysis and argument.

    (tags: learning science teaching tutorial courses bullshit scepticism facts)

  • Pyroscope

    “Open Source Continuous Profiling Platform” — continuous profiling, as has been used in companies like Twitter for a while. This looks pretty practical though, due to some key features:

    Lightning Fast – Doesn’t matter if you’re looking at 10 seconds or 10 months of profiling data — the queries are always fast thanks to our custom designed storage engine. Minimum Overhead – Pyroscope doesn’t affect performance of your applications, thanks to the use of sampling profiling technology. Cost-Effective – Pyroscope uses a custom data storage engine and stores profiling data very efficiently, making it economically viable to store profiling data from all of your apps for years.

    (tags: monitoring observability profiling pyroscope continuous-profiling performance)

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Links for 2022-08-31

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Links for 2022-08-30

  • Exploring 12 Million of the Images Used to Train Stable Diffusion’s Image Generator

    Interesting dive into the training set:

    Stable Diffusion’s initial training was on low-resolution 256×256 images from LAION-2B-EN, a set of 2.3 billion English-captioned images from LAION-5B‘s full collection of 5.85 million image-text pairs, as well as LAION-High-Resolution, another subset of LAION-5B with 170 million images greater than 1024×1024 resolution (downsampled to 512×512). Its last three checkpoints were on LAION-Aesthetics v2 5+, a 600 million image subset of LAION-2B-EN with a predicted aesthetics score of 5 or higher, with low-resolution and likely watermarked images filtered out. For our data explorer, we originally wanted to show the full dataset, but it’s a challenge to host a 600 million record database in an affordable, performant way. So we decided to use the smaller LAION-Aesthetics v2 6+, which includes 12 million image-text pairs with a predicted aesthetic score of 6 or higher, instead of the 600 million rated 5 or higher used in Stable Diffusion’s training.

    (tags: laion training-data stable-diffusion images ai ml via:waxy)

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Links for 2022-08-29

  • AWS EC2 Carbon Footprint Dataset – Google Sheets

    ‘”This spreadsheet provides a way for AWS cloud users to estimate the carbon footprint of their EC2 based workloads. Two estimations are available: – Carbon emissions related to running the instance, including the datacenter PUE – Carbon emissions related to manufacturing the underlying hardware.’ Courtesy of French online ad company Teads

    (tags: aws carbon emissions ec2 hosting)

  • “Our online lives can never truly be our own”: Marie Le Conte on the generation that broke the internet – New Statesman

    “There were 15 years on the internet that were unlike anything else, and that I don’t think you’ll be able to really get unless you were there,” Le Conte tells me. The world she outlines was one inhabited by loners and misfits, where awkward teenagers could go to find themselves, reach out to people across the world with shared interests, create their own communities, forge new identities – anonymously and without adult supervision. It was dangerous, yes – she admits that young people probably should never have been given that much freedom – but also liberating and, above all, fun. So much fun, in fact, that soon it wasn’t just the weird kids who wanted to be part of it. She compares what happened next to a group of children building a treehouse to play in. “And then all their parents joined in and were like, ‘Hello, we hear you have a treehouse. We live here as well now.’”

    (tags: marie-le-conte internet web history online)

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Links for 2022-08-26

  • The Clean Hydrogen Ladder

    ‘my attempt to put use cases for clean hydrogen – whether it be green, blue, pink, turquoise or whatever – into some sort of merit order, because not all are equally likely to succeed. […] Clean hydrogen will have to win its way into the economy, use case by use case. It could do so on its merits, or it could do so because of supportive policy (including carbon prices). But it will have to do so in competition with every other clean technology that could solve the same problem. And that is where the dreams of the hydrogen economy hit reality: in almost all use cases there is a good reason why hydrogen is not currently used – because other solutions are cheaper, simpler, safer or more convenient.’ (via Chris Adams)

    (tags: hydrogen renewables power future h2 green-hydrogen)

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Links for 2022-08-23

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Links for 2022-08-15

  • Some Light on Long Covid

    Eric Topol on some recent research publications regarding Long Covid:

    I’m going to briefly review here the new reports on (1) prevalence; (2) mechanisms and biomarkers; and (3) potential treatments […] Much new information for Long Covid was reported in a matter of days. It would be great to keep up this momentum, now that we are pushing onto 3 years of the pandemic. I have many colleagues who have been severely affected, and have seen multiple patients in my clinic in recent weeks who are debilitated. I wish I had something to offer them, but hopefully over time we’ll build on this recent spurt of knowledge. While we have no treatment or biomarker, the CDC relaxation of Covid guidelines is totally unhelpful— staying Covid cautious is the right move, and we desperately need better tools to block infections and transmission. There’s some hope that the first completed 4,000 participant nasal vaccine randomized trial could be the start of patching up the leak of vaccines against the Omicron subvariants (currently BA.5). Prof Iwasaki and I have called for an urgent Operation Nasal Vaccine initiative. There’s only one surefire way to prevent Long Covid: not to get Covid.

    (tags: long-covid covid-19 treatments health medicine research)

  • The Junkyard Datacenter

    I love this idea — repurpose ancient phones as a DC for energy efficiency:

    It requires significant energy to manufacture and deploy computational devices. Traditional discussions of the energy-efficiency of compute measure operational energy, i.e. how many FLOPS in a 50MW datacenter. However, if we consider the true lifetime energy use of modern devices, the majority actually comes not from runtime use but from manufacture and deployment. In this paper, then, we suggest that perhaps the most climate-impactful action we can take is to extend the service lifetime of existing compute. We design two new metrics to measure how to balance continued service of older devices with the superlinear runtime improvements of newer machines. The first looks at carbon per raw compute, amortized across the operation and manufacture of devices. The second considers use of components beyond compute, such as batteries or radios in smartphone platforms. We use these metrics to redefine device service lifetime in terms of carbon efficiency. We then realize a real-world “junkyard datacenter” made up of Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 phones, which are nearly a decade past their official end-of-life dates. This new-old datacenter is able to nearly match and occasionally exceed modern cloud compute offerings.
    (via the Environment Variables podcast)

    (tags: climate datacenters hardware phones nexus emissions)

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Links for 2022-08-14

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Links for 2022-08-12

  • How to travel from Dublin to London by ferry and rail

    This is way more complicated than it should be, compared to the easy option of a quick flight :(

    (tags: dublin london travel rail ferry sailing)

  • Glutamate build-up is associated with mental weariness

    Thinking hard for several hours can leave us feeling mentally tired – and now we may know why. Prolonged concentration leads to the build-up of a compound called glutamate in regions at the front of the brain. This may provide an explanation as to why we avoid difficult tasks when mentally fatigued: the glutamate overload makes further mental work difficult. Too much glutamate is potentially harmful, says Antonius Wiehler at the Paris Brain Institute in France, who led the research. “The brain wants to avoid this, so it is trying to reduce activity.” Many of us have experienced mental weariness after a hard day of thinking, but until now, we didn’t know why. The brain doesn’t seem to run out of energy after working hard and even when we aren’t deliberately thinking about anything specific, some brain regions, called the “default mode network”, are as active as ever. To learn more, Wiehler and his team used a technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), which measures levels of various chemicals in living tissue harmlessly. They focused on a region towards the front and sides of the brain called the lateral prefrontal cortex […] Levels of eight different brain chemicals were measured, including glutamate, which is the main signalling chemical between neurons. After completing the memory tasks for 6 hours, those doing the harder version had raised levels of glutamate in their lateral prefrontal cortex compared with the start of the experiment. In those doing the easier task, levels stayed about the same. Across all participants, there was no rise in the other seven brain chemicals that were measured. Among the participants doing the harder tasks, their glutamate level rise tallied with dilation of the pupils in their eyes, another broad measure of fatigue. Those doing the simpler task reported feeling tired, but had no glutamate rise or pupil dilation.

    (tags: glutamate neurochemistry brain weariness tiredness sleep thinking)

  • What the Science on Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender Kids Really Shows – Scientific American

    Data from more than a dozen studies of more than 30,000 transgender and gender-diverse young people consistently show that access to gender-affirming care is associated with better mental health outcomes—and that lack of access to such care is associated with higher rates of suicidality, depression and self-harming behavior. (Gender diversity refers to the extent to which a person’s gendered behaviors, appearance and identities are culturally incongruent with the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender-diverse people can identify along the transgender spectrum, but not all do.) Major medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Endocrine Society, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, have published policy statements and guidelines on how to provide age-appropriate gender-affirming care. All of those medical societies find such care to be evidence-based and medically necessary.

    (tags: trans gender science biology transgender)

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Links for 2022-08-11

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Links for 2022-08-10

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Links for 2022-08-08

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Links for 2022-08-04

  • Researchers Discover What Attracts Mosquitoes to Humans

    It’s the sebum!

    The researcher found that mosquitoes that smelled a blend of decanal, which activates the human-specific glomerulus, and 1-hexanol, which activates the human-and-animals glomerulus, would fly upwind in search of the source. “Importantly, they also show that these components are behaviorally relevant to the mosquitoes—mosquitoes will track the binary blend of synthetic odorants in the same way that they respond to whole human odor,” notes Duvall.  The decanal and undecanal are probably derived from sebum, an oily substance that—unlike sweat—is secreted from hair follicles regardless of physical activity. Finding a role for sebum in mosquito attraction is novel, Matthew DeGennaro, a researcher in vector-borne diseases at Florida International University who was not involved in the study, writes in an email. “Previously, most the of the focus has been on human sweat components such as lactic acid or on how the human skin microbiome processes sweat and sebum into our distinct odor.” 

    (tags: sebum sweat mosquitos decanal undecanal skin pests smell)

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Links for 2022-08-03

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Links for 2022-08-02

  • Widely Mocked Anti-Piracy Ads Made People Pirate More, Study Finds

    Another problem is what the study identifies as “the social proof lever.” […] Anti-piracy campaigns make piracy seem like the social norm. If everyone is doing it, the logic goes, it probably isn’t that bad. “Informing directly or indirectly individuals that many people pirate is counterproductive and encourages piracy by driving the targeted individuals to behave similarly,” the study said. “These messages provide to the would-be pirates the needed rationalization by emphasizing that ‘everyone is doing it.” The study had one last piece of advice for movie studios: stop airing anti-piracy ads in the theater. “These messages are frequently edited out by pirates before being redistributed through the internet, the study said. “Consequently, individuals who see the message are paying users […] displaying descriptive information about how widespread piracy is to paying users is ill-advised.”

    (tags: piracy ads you-wouldnt-steal-a-car advertising fail social-norms)

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Links for 2022-07-29

  • Sectoral Budgets must align with legal requirements | An Taisce

    An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, responds to the government’s new sectoral ceilings for carbon emissions:

    “By agreeing to these sectoral ceilings the Government is potentially signing up to something which is not aligned with the Climate Act from the very get go. Where has the 2025 budget gone? Why does it only add up to 43% when the law itself requires 51%? It seems like they’re making it up as they go along, but this whole process has to be aligned to the legal requirements of the Climate Act, you can’t simply fudge it. This is a truly chaotic way to budget for the future” 
    Well said.

    (tags: an-taisce climate-change co2 ireland)

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Links for 2022-07-27

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Links for 2022-07-25

  • Range Extenders for Nissan Leafs

    Installing Muxsan power pack extension kits in Ireland, to add 11kWh, 22kWh and 33kWh extensions giving an additional range of +75km, +140km and +210km on top of the basic 24/30/40kWh Leaf battery packs. Very tempted!

    (tags: nissan leaf cars driving ireland evs range muxsan)

  • The Oral History Of The Poop Emoji (Or, How Google Brought Poop To America)

    “Darren: I thought it was a joke that they were pushing for the [poop emoji] to be in the first cut, but I quickly learned that it was not a joke at all. It’s basically like having all of the letters in the English alphabet, but getting rid of random ones. Like, “Let’s take out ‘B’ because ‘B’ kind of offends me.” In Japanese, emoji are more like characters than random animated emoticons, so we pushed back really hard. We said, “We can’t launch emoji without the poop.” Not only is it extremely popular in Japan—like extremely popular—you can’t just arbitrarily take letters out of the alphabet.”

    (tags: emoji gmail history google poop shit funny japan)

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Links for 2022-07-14

  • DynamoDB’s metastable cache load workaround

    Marc Brooker on the latest DynamoDB USENIX paper — good paper and commentary. He picks out this very interesting tidbit:

    ‘When a router received a request for a table it had not seen before, it downloaded the routing information for the entire table and cached it locally. Since the configuration information about partition replicas rarely changes, the cache hit rate was approximately 99.75 percent.’ What’s not to love about a 99.75% cache hit rate? The failure modes! ‘The downside is that caching introduces bimodal behavior. In the case of a cold start where request routers have empty caches, every DynamoDB request would result in a metadata lookup, and so the service had to scale to serve requests at the same rate as DynamoDB’ So this metadata table needs to scale from handling 0.25% of requests, to handling 100% of requests. A 400x potential increase in traffic! Designing and maintaining something that can handle rare 400x increases in traffic is super hard. To address this, the DynamoDB team introduced a distributed cache called MemDS. ‘A new partition map cache was deployed on each request router host to avoid the bi-modality of the original request router caches.’ Which leads to more background work, but less amplification in the failure cases. The constant traffic to the MemDS fleet increases the load on the metadata fleet compared to the conventional caches where the traffic to the backend is determined by cache hit ratio, but prevents cascading failures to other parts of the system when the caches become ineffective.

    (tags: aws dynamodb metastability caching caches production failure outages load memds marc-brooker papers usenix)

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Links for 2022-07-11

  • Fairphone Open

    Very impressed by Fairphone, the greener mobile option. Here’s more info on their open source commitments — “On every smartphone we produce and sell – we publish as much source code as we legally can. And we share all of this information publicly with our users and community on our Fairphone Code website.”

    (tags: fairphone open-source phones mobile android)

  • SleepHQ

    Via Nelson; webapp to analyze CPAP machine data logs

    (tags: cpap sleep-apnea health sleep medicine)

  • Pandemic Communication Without Argumentative Strategy in the Digital Age: A Cautionary Tale and a Call to Arms

    “argumentation theory” is an interesting idea in the age of weaponised memes:

    The Covid-19 pandemic has offered some notable examples of how public communication may backfire, in spite of the best intentions of the actors involved, and what role poor argumentative design plays in such failures, in the context of the current digital media ecology. In this chapter, I offer some preliminary considerations on the ongoing struggle to make sense of the new communication technologies in our media reality, analyze a concrete example of argumentative failure in anti-Covid vaccine communication in the European Union, and leverage this case study to issue a call to arms to argumentation scholars: argumentative competence is sorely needed for an effective response to the pandemic, yet argumentation theory will need to join forces with other areas of expertise to realize its societal impact. When it comes to arguments, self-isolation is not a viable strategy to fight Covid-19.

    (tags: memes social-media medicine public-health argumentation communication covid-19 society)

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