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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
6 days ago

Re: How the Pandemic Defeated America

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Re: NYC Releases Plan For Handling COVID-19 Outbreaks In Schools

This NYC School COVID-19 plan cannot seriously be the answer.

Aside from testing, the plan lays out six possible situations involving confirmed infections. They range from a single positive case, in which a classroom will close for 14 days and students and staff with close contact will self-quarantine, to more than two cases in different classrooms. Under the latter scenario, the entire school would shut down and transition to remote learning.

So we’re going to open and close individual schools all throughout the year? Really?

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Re: A Very American Suicide

Came across this anonymous blog post about the general narcissistic attitude of certain parts of America right now:

Here is the internal narrative that dictates this state of affairs: “I am the only thing that matters; what I want is the only thing that it is valid to want; what you want is so unimportant that is is not worth discussing. I see you, but I am not convinced that you exist in any significant way, except as a potential blocker to what I want. This is your only real importance. Your assertion of personhood is irritating to me, because it gets in the way of what I want. Which is more money, more power, more self-gratification, at any cost, by any means necessary. The end always justifies the means, and if this means your end, that means nothing to me. My rights trump your rights, always, molehills to mountains no matter. I am not open to discussion of my position. I will become angry if you attempt to discuss this with me, then if you persist, I will kill you, because you are getting in the way of what I want. How dare you disagree with me.”

And:

Internal narrative #2: “I do not recognize that I am part of a society, even though I am wholly dependent on society for my continued existence. My actions, whatever they may be, are justified, because they are what I want. To shed any residual guilt I may have, I will deny evidence as conspiracy. I am, by design, so poorly educated that this does not trouble me at all. So I will not wear a mask in public, and I will not socially distance, because to do so inconveniences me, and I do not want to be inconvenienced, and what I want is the only thing that matters.”

Selfishness in its purest form.

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Re: The Pandemic Is Changing Work Friendships

I’ve definitely been noticing some of these post-pandemic work relationship changes:

According to Gallup research, having a close work friend increases fulfillment, productivity, and even company loyalty; on the flip side, loneliness in the office can affect both professional and personal well-being. The absence of casual hallway chats and long lunch breaks during the pandemic could potentially make workers feel more isolated, according to Hilla Dotan, an organizational-behavior researcher at Tel Aviv University. “What we’re doing through virtual work is we’re neutralizing the social aspect of [work],” she told me.

I don’t maintain relationships well when I don’t see people regularly. It’s been a struggle.

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Re: Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets

Again, things are bad:

Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.

The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to “quell” nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.

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Re: A new format of Magic launches online, with hundreds of new cards

I’ve heard about Magic: The Gathering for a long time, but I only ever knew it as a physical card game so I never really looked into it or considered playing it. A few years back, a friend told me about the digital version of the game (MTG Arena) so I gave it a try.

It’s a great game that I end up getting really into but then abandoning once I get annoyed. I’ve played it on and off for the last few years. I really like the way the game is played (although I don’t think I have the patience to play physically), the sound design in Arena is dope, and I’m definitely into deck building, but I think I just hate the metagame (the optional deck building part of the game where you do some research and try to create and defend against irritating/janky/overpowered decks).

Anyway, they just launched a new game mode and a lot of new cards. It’s probably a great time to try it out if you’ve ever been curious about it.

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Re: First Human Tests of Coronavirus Vaccine Are Promising

Some more good vaccine news:

There were no serious side effects associated with the vaccine at any of the dosing levels, though more than half of the study participants who received the vaccine experienced minor events including fatigue, headache, chills, and pain at the injection site. All of the participants produced antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. And when researchers tested these antibodies against a lab version of SARS-CoV-2, they found these antibodies neutralized the virus as effectively as antibodies taken from people who were naturally infected with SARS-CoV-2 and recovered. They also tested the antibodies taken from a smaller group of study participants against actual samples of SARS-CoV-2 and found their ability to neutralize virus was at least equivalent to that found in people who had recovered from infection.

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Re: Introducing the First Black Woman-Owned Skateboard Company

This makes me happy.

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Things Are Bad

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Re: Filling middle seats on airplanes doubles the risk of catching COVID-19, according to an MIT study

Filling flights beyond capacity has been terrible, but now we know it doubles the risk of catching the deadly pandemic. But of course people dying is the least of the concerns of a company in a hyper capitalist society. Here, money will always be more important than lives.

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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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