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Hey, I'm Dwayne. This is my blog. I usually post commentary on the articles I'm reading, but sometimes I write longer articles about what I'm working on, including this website itself. Check the about me page for info about me, and the technologies page for more about the website.
Latest
18 hours ago

Re: More than 40 Bay Area school principals in quarantine after in-person meeting

Sigh.

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Re: Face recognition vendor vows new rules after wrongful arrest in U.S. using its technology

From Reuters:

Robert Williams, who is Black, spent over a day in Detroit police custody in January after Rank One’s face recognition software connected his driver’s license photo to surveillance video of someone shoplifting, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan (ACLU) said.

Terrible.

I want to talk about this line from the article:

In a video shared by the ACLU, Williams says officers released him after acknowledging “the computer” must have been wrong.

This shows some of the stupid thinking behind this mess. Anyone who thinks the computer should be the one to be “right” or “wrong” about identifying a person is very confused. Computers can help you do analysis, and might support a conclusion, but they should not determine who committed a crime or who goes to jail.

Trusting software (which is always buggy and about two wrong variable states away from falling apart completely) to decide people’s guilt or innocence is not only stupid, but a well known sci-fi trope that ALWAYS ends badly, especially in the hands of organizations who are generally lazy, racist, corrupt, and/or ignorant.

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Re: Study Finds Black Lives Matter Protests Didn't Lead to Growth in Coronavirus Cases

Also very interesting:

“Our findings suggest that any direct decrease in social distancing among the subset of the population participating in the protests is more than offset by increasing social distancing behavior among others who may choose to shelter-at-home and circumvent public places while the protests are underway,” the report reads.

So based on what we can tell, people protesting outside in open air (with a lot of masks as far as I could see from the pictures) causing everyone else to stay home leads to a better outcome than people doing stuff inside buildings together. That seems to line up with the facts we’ve been hearing.

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Re: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will quarantine travelers from states with surging COVID-19 cases

Interesting:

As of midnight tonight, travelers to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut coming from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, and Washington state will all be asked to quarantine for two weeks.

Cuomo talked about enforcement, but I still don’t get how it’s supposed to work. Once you found a person from one of those states, how would you know if they were heading into the state for the first time, done with their own quarantine process, or just ignoring it completely?

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Re: Google is on a mission to stop you from reusing passwords

Google has been trying to fix passwords for a while:

“Passwords are one of the worst things on the internet,” Mark Risher, Google’s senior director for account security, identity, and abuse told The Verge. Though they’re essential for security and to help people log in to many apps and websites, “they’re one of the primary, if not the primary, ways that people actually end up getting compromised.”

It’s a strange thing for a Google security executive to say because the last time you logged into Gmail, you probably typed in a password. But the company has been trying to nudge users away from the model for years, or at least minimize the damage. And in the coming weeks, one of Google’s quietest tools in that fight — the Password Checkup plugin — will be getting a higher profile, as it joins the Security Checkup dashboard built into every Google account.

Any time I work on any web project that requires accounts, I always think about how if it can be done without passwords. I wrote the user account system for this website (I’m the only one who has an account right now) and it started out with NO passwords at all.

Originally, logins to this website were only done by entering an email address. If the email matches an account in the system, it would send an email with a login link. Clicking on that link logs the user in and keeps them logged in for a few days.

I eventually added a password field because waiting for the login email was annoying and I didn’t want to rely on a third party email service. 🤷🏾‍♂️

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Re: The Mac’s iconic startup chime is back in macOS Big Sur

The Verge wrote about the Mac startup chime coming back in the new version (11! not 10.x) of macOS:

Apple is bringing back the Mac’s iconic startup chime in macOS Big Sur. The company hinted it might return by playing the chime very prominently during yesterday’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, and people who have installed the first Big Sur developer beta have reported that it’s back.

The startup chime was first removed from Macs in 2016 with the redesigned MacBook Pros released that year, and Macs released since then (with the exception of the 2017 13-inch MacBook Air) didn’t play the chime when you turned them on.

I would guess removing the chime was a Jony Ive decision (along with the keyboard and the obsession with thin devices with small batteries). It looks like a lot of things Apple has been doing lately are about undoing those choices. And the whole product line seems better for it.

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Re: Microsoft will shut down Mixer, transition users to Facebook Gaming

From Polygon

An important part of this partnership, Spencer stressed, is the integration of Project xCloud technology onto Facebook. He has previously said that Microsoft’s biggest competitors when it comes to streaming games from the cloud are Amazon and Google. This partnership with Facebook makes sense, strengthening the xCloud platform with access to a massive global audience. Sharma said fans should expect to see click-and-play experiences on the social media platform in the future.

Microsoft announcing shutting Mixer down half way through WWDC was a really bad look. And choosing Facebook Gaming as the destination/partnership is just terrible. It sounds like they didn’t really have much of an option based on the goals they set for themselves, but this still a really bad outcome. Also, integrating xCloud and Facebook just makes it something I’ll never use.

Very disappointing.

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Writing Code for my Twitch Stream

Defund The Police

Apparently people think “defund the police” is a bad slogan and needs to be reworded to be more attractive as a policy.

But you know what? I don’t give a shit. Defund the police.

Vox:

A three-word slogan is not a detailed policy agenda, and not everyone using the slogan agrees on the details. The basic idea, though, is less that policing budgets should be literally zeroed out than that there should be a massive restructuring of public spending priorities.

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Re: Facebook employees walk out in protest of D***** T****’s posts

From The Verge:

The virtual walkout comes on the heels of a decision from Facebook not to take any action against a series of controversial posts from Trump last week, including one that seemed to threaten violence against protestors by saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter determined that the same message violated its rules against the glorification of violence last week, limiting the ability to view, like, reply, and retweet the post on its platform.

Mark Zuckerberg is a coward. He once again made a terrible decision because he’ll never stand for anything right, he’ll just ensure Facebook’s survival as a engagement machine no matter what the cost. He should have resigned a long time ago.

I’m glad some of the employees are trying to do something. It’s too late, but it’s good to know there is some pushback to Zuckerberg’s bullshit.

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Re: Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide

From Slate:

The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd were caught up in violence again on Saturday, as police all over the country tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with nonlethal rounds on journalists or people on their own property, and in at least one instance, pushed over an elderly man who was walking away with a cane. Here are some of the ways law enforcement officers escalated the national unrest.

This is exactly what I’ve been seeing unfold on Twitter over the past few days. The original protesters of the killing of George Floyd don’t seem to be the ones out of control here.

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Astoria, NYC

Golden Hour in Astoria

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Thousands Of New Yorkers Protest Police Killing Of George Floyd As NYPD Responds With Batons And Pepper Spray

Gothamist:

By the time the evening’s protests were over, the frustration of the New Yorkers gathered had run headlong into the aggressive mass-arrest protest-policing tactics of the NYPD. Some protesters were in the hospital. Police vehicles were on fire. And with more protests scheduled over the weekend and in the days ahead, there was every indication that the outpouring of anguish over police violence, and the violent police response to it, will only continue.

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Black Lives Matter

#GeorgeFloyd
#BreonnaTaylor
#AhmaudArberry
#BlackLivesMatter

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City Slicker

CASISDEAD - City Slicker

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Krisp.ai - Noise Cancelling App

I started using this app called Krisp over the weekend, and I’m def impressed.

I was using Discord over the weekend and tried the built in noise suppression. The description for the feature explains that it uses an embedded version of Krisp for it. The app uses machine learning to figure out which sounds are voices, and filters out everything else.

I live right above a night club (which sadly has been silent for the past few months) and next to the N train (which seems to run exactly the same as it always has) and New Yorkers are still New Yorkers so voice calls have been hard with all the noise. I’ve been using Krisp for my Discord, FaceTime, and Hangout calls over the weekend and it completely blocks out all of it.

I’m impressed with how it works but I’m also into machine learning (ML) and all the stuff people are calling AI these days so it’s even more interesting to me. I’ve also been reading about NVIDIA’s version of this, which works through their RTX graphics cards.

I’ve been wanting to start using ML in my projects for a while but I never came up with good enough applications for it. Voice detection is a perfect use case. I think this might have given me a reason to try playing around with it again.

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Re: Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Shows Promising Early Results

A coronavirus vaccine trial has gone well! It looks like we might actually be on track for having a vaccine ready by the end of the year, which is critical since the US government has decided that the best course of action is to pretend the virus doesn’t exist.

From the article:

Those people, healthy volunteers, made antibodies that were then tested in human cells in the lab, and were able to stop the virus from replicating — the key requirement for an effective vaccine. The levels of those so-called neutralizing antibodies matched the levels found in patients who had recovered after contracting the virus in the community.

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