Links March 2023

Interesting paper about a plan for eugenics in dogs with an aim to get human equivalent IQ within 100 generations [1]. It gets a bit silly when the author predicts IQs of 8000+ as there will eventually be limits of what can fit in one head. But the basic concept is good.

Interesting article about what happens inside a proton [2]. This makes some aspects of the Trisolar series and the Dragon’s Egg series seem less implausible.

Insightful article about how crypto-currencies really work [3]. Basically the vast majority of users trust some company that’s outside the scope of most financial regulations to act as their bank. Surprisingly the author doesn’t seem to identify such things as a Ponzi scheme.

Bruce Schneier wrote an interesting blog post about AIs as hackers [4].

Cory Doctorow wrote an insightful article titled “The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok” which is about the enshittification of commercial Internet platforms in general [5]. We need more regulation of such things.

Cat Valente wrote an insightful article titled “Stop Talking to Each Other and Start Buying Things: Three Decades of Survival in the Desert of Social Media” about the desire to profit from social media repeatedly destroying platforms [6].

This Onion video has a good point, I don’t want to watch videos on news sites etc [7]. We need ad-blockers that can block video on all sites other than YouTube etc.

Wired has an interesting article about the machines that still need floppy disks, including early versions of the 747 [8]. There are devices to convert the floppy drive interface to a USB storage device which are being used on some systems but which presumably aren’t certified for a 747. The article says that 3.5″ disks cost $1 each because they are rare – that’s still cheaper than when they were first released.

Android Police has an interesting article about un-redacting information in PNG files [9]. It seems that some software on Pixel devices hasn’t been truncating files when editing them, just writing the new data over top and some platforms (notably Discord) send the entire file wuthout parsing it (unlike Twitter for example which removes EXIF data to protect users). Then even though a PNG file is compressed from the later part of the data someone can deduce the earlier data.

Teen Vogue has an insightful article about the harm that “influencer parents” do to their children [10].

Jonathan McDowell wrote a very informative blog post about his new RISC-V computer running Debian [11]. He says that it takes 10 hours to do a full Debian kernel build (compared to 14 minutes for my 18 core E5-2696) so it’s about 2% the CPU speed of a high end 2015 server CPU which is pretty good for an embedded devivce. That is similar to some of the low end Thinkpads that were on sale in 2015.

The Surviving Tomorrow site has an interesting article about a community where all property is community owned [12]. It’s an extremist Christian group and the article is written by a slightly different Christian extremist, but the organisation is interesting. A technology positive atheist versions of this would be good.

Bruce Schneier and Nathan E. Sanders co-wrote an insightful article about how AI could exploit the process of making laws [13]. We really need to crack down on political lobbying, any time a constitution is being amender prohibiting lobbying should be included.

Anarcat wrote a very informative blog post about the Framework laptops that are designed to be upgraded by the user [14]. The motherboard can be replaced and there are cases designed so you can use the old laptop motherboard as an embedded PC. Before 2017 I would have been very interested in such a laptop. Now I’ve moved to low power laptops and servers for serious compiles and a second-hand Thinkpad X1 Carbon costs less than a new Framework motherboard. But this will be a really good product for people with more demanding needs than mine. Pity they don’t have a keyboard with the Thinkpad Trackpoint.

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