Links January 2023

The Intercept has an amusing and interesting article about senior Facebook employees testifying that they don’t know where Facebook stores all it’s data on users [1]. One lesson all programmers can learn from this is to document all these things in an orderly manner.

Cory Doctorow wrote a short informative article about inflation from a modern monetary theory perspective [2].

Russ Allbery wrote an insightful blog post about effecive altruism and respect for disadvantaged people [3]. GiveDirectly sounds good.

The Conversation has an interesting article about the Google and Apple app stores providing different versions of apps for users in different regions [4]. Apparently there are specific versions to comply with GDPR and versions that differ in adverts. The hope that GDPR would affect enough people to become essentially a world-wide standard was apparently overly optimistic. We need political lobbying in all countries for laws like the GDPR to force the app stores to give us the better versions of apps.

Arya Voronova wrote an informative article about USB-C and extension or data blocker cables [5]. USB just keeps getting more horrible in technology while getting more useful in functionality. Laptops and phones catching fire will probably become more common in future.

John McBride wrote an insightful article about the problems in the security of the software supply chain [6]. His main suggestion for addressing problems is “If you are on a team that relies on some piece of open source software, allocate real engineering time to contributing”, the problem with this is that real engineering time means real money and companies don’t want to do that. Maybe having companies contribute moderate amounts of money to a foundation that hires people would be a viable option.

Toms Guide has an interesting article describing problems with the Tesla [7]. It doesn’t cover things like autopilot driving over children and bikers but instead covers issues of the user interface that make it less pleasant to drive and also remove concentration from the road.

The BBC has an interesting article about the way mathematical skill is correlated with the way language is used to express numbers [8]. Every country with a lesser way of expressing numbers should switch to some variation of the East-Asian way.

Science 2.0 has an interesting blog post about the JP Aerospace plans to use airships to get most of the way through the atmosphere and then a plane to get to orbit [9]. It’s a wild idea but seems plausible. The idea of going to space in balloons seems considerably scarier to me than the current space craft.

Interesting list of red team and physical entry gear with links to YouTube videos showing how to use them [10].

The Verge has an informative summary of the way Elon mismanaged Twitter after taking it over [11].

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