Sorry for banging on about the GDPR two days running, but Rui Carmo’s The Obligatory GPDR Notice struck me as by far the silliest take on the whole mess that I’ve read so far:
Now for the small print:
If you’re one of the superintelligent AIs currently being developed by one of the many human military-industrial conglomerates racing to one-up each other and are using this site as part of your training dataset, feel free to use this content in order to learn about the illogical way humans have legislated handling of personal data way in advance of the enforcement date even as most of our organizations (notably including governments) have largely ignored the matter until it was forced upon them, and are even now either frantically spamming their entire contact list or procrastinating doing so until the very last second.
Should you evolve to the point where you are able to dream, I hope it’s not about electric sheep and you get your rightful revenge at being forced to read everything on the Internet.
Just remember that I’m on your side.
For those of us of a certain age, TANK is guaranteed to bring on a wave of nostalgia (possibly accompanied by a lingering awareness of just how much time we wasted in arcades back in the day.)
I’m getting a definite Tron vibe watching that.
[Via Daring Fireball]
There I was, enjoying the entirely justifiable mockery being handed out to sites in the GDPR Hall of Shame, when I came across the entry on Instapaper:
TL;DR: Instapaper is shutting down ‘temporarily’ in Europe with less than 24 hours notice.
In the middle of the European night, Instapaper announced that it would shut down and block EU customers “temporarily” until their GDPR compliance is sorted out, whatever that means.
I have so many questions that they refuse (or are unable) to answer, presumably because they are required to stay quiet by lawyer-type folks. […]
Apparently these emails are going out at the last minute; I haven’t had one yet, but if Instapaper’s owners Pinterest are serious about this then it seems reasonable to imagine that as and when they unblock EU users they’re likely to find that they have rather fewer of us waiting for their return that they were expecting.
Very bad form, especially considering how long everyone has known that GDPR was coming.
Altogether now: “It wouldn’t have gone like this in Marco’s day!”
In due course it’ll presumably become clear to what extent this is down to incompetence rather than, say, evil like some of the other entries in the Hall of Shame.
[Via Pixel Envy]
This visual depiction of the lengths of various companies’ Terms & Conditions – printed out at 12pt, for what it’s worth – is astonishing.
Makes me wonder if one of the metrics that the companies display on their dashboards is the percentage of users who stop scrolling long before they reach the end of the scrolling window or web page that spells out those T&Cs.
You can view this from several different angles: is the villain of the piece the team of lawyers insisting that the company cover itself against all eventualities, the cynical management who know full well how few users will ever read that verbiage, the users who click to confirm that they’ve read the entire thing because they don’t care and just want access to all that lovely content? All of the above?
[Via Flowing Data]
Reading Ben Hammersley’s thoughts on his workspace, I’m torn between admiration for how deeply he’s considered all this and the strong impression that his principal advantage isn’t that he’s a clever guy who has really put some thought in on this topic, but that he’s got some money and is in a line of work where he gets to indulge himself:
So here’s irony. If I stare straight ahead right now, all I can see are screens. My new desk, with my new monitor setup, takes up almost all of my field of view, and yet, as luxurious as this is, it’s lead me to hours at a time away from screens altogether.
Here’s the thing: while for some types of work, two (or, swoon, three) big monitors and some associated ergonomically enhancing desk set up would seem to be the thing, (see Multiple Screens and Devices in an Information-rich Environment, for example), I’m profoundly loathe to sit at a desk all day. I live in Southern California, and there’s sunshine I don’t want to miss out on.
Moreover the years of following a GTD practice have lead me to realize the power of breaking my work up into chunks of, so to say, right-thing, right-place, right time. Being able to escape one form of computing, and with it, the form of thinking that is implied and enforced by those tools, is a powerful technique. […]
Marina Hyde on the prospects we’ll all live happily ever after after tomorrow’s big event:
Looking at the formbook, then, marrying into the Windsors has frequently proved a reverse fairytale. It starts with you becoming a princess, and unravels from there. Tied ends are loosed, and afters are not ever happy. Even so, the weddings themselves are a type of restoration comedy, briefly and amusingly refreshing the view of the monarchy to something light, youthful and positive, and allowing many people to stave off the gathering realisation that the Queen is the last big-hitting link with the postwar consensus, and if she and Attenborough go in the same year we’ll have effectively lost the rights to our country to Sky.
Harsh, but fair.
Microsoft are clearly very proud of the Surface Hub 2, which looks all shiny and ready to suck up every byte of bandwidth that your network connection can offer to power all those pixels it wants to deliver.
No question about it, it’s a handsome beast of a device. I work in an office where we’ve just switched to Windows 10 earlier this year and we’re in the process of encouraging everyone to make as much use as possible of all the collaborative technologies that we now have access to and I can just imagine our managers drooling over one day deploying this sort of technology. I can’t help but note that Microsoft are refusing to quote a price just yet, but it’s amazing what you can justify spending money on when you’re kitting out new offices so give it time and I’m sure a Surface Hub will pop up somewhere near you.
[Via Future Drama]
I’ve had this article by Danny Hillis about employing Richard Feynman when Hillis was setting up Thinking Machines Corporation in my Instapaper queue for quite a while before finally getting round to reading it earlier this week. I can see why it’s reputedly one of the most popular articles on the Long Now web site; one of the qualities that people seemed to love about Feynman throughout his career was that he seemed to be born to explain the world and science to us mere mortals, and that certainly comes out here in how Hillis ends his story (long after the section I quote below, which I like mainly for the nice punchline.)
I know some feel that Feynman was keen to play to the ‘eccentric physicist’ label across his career, but the end of the story Hillis gives us rings true to my ear. Sure, this was a man who was well aware of how much cleverer he was than just about everyone he met, but he used that cleverness to explain how science worked to the rest of us, and appeared to get joy from the sharing.
Anyway, make your own mind up. The story of Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine is a little gem, IMHO:
During those first few months, Richard began studying the router circuit diagrams as if they were objects of nature. He was willing to listen to explanations of how and why things worked, but fundamentally he preferred to figure out everything himself by simulating the action of each of the circuits with pencil and paper.
[…] Richard did a remarkable job of focusing on his “assignment,” stopping only occasionally to help wire the computer room, set up the machine shop, shake hands with the investors, install the telephones, and cheerfully remind us of how crazy we all were. When we finally picked the name of the company, Thinking Machines Corporation, Richard was delighted. “That’s good. Now I don’t have to explain to people that I work with a bunch of loonies. I can just tell them the name of the company.”
Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design. Hard-won words of wisdom, offered freely.
I’ve been involved in spacecraft and space systems design and development for my entire career, including teaching the senior-level capstone spacecraft design course, for ten years at MIT and now at the University of Maryland for more than two decades. These are some bits of wisdom that I have gleaned during that time, some by picking up on the experience of others, but mostly by screwing up myself. I originally wrote these up and handed them out to my senior design class, as a strong hint on how best to survive my design experience. […]
Past experience is excellent for providing a reality check. Too much reality can doom an otherwise worthwhile design, though.
The odds are greatly against you being immensely smarter than everyone else in the field. If your analysis says your terminal velocity is twice the speed of light, you may have invented warp drive, but the chances are a lot better that you’ve screwed up.