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"It’s Time to Break Up Facebook" says Facebook Co-Founder as the company is so big and powerful that it threatens our democracy - I say break the walls down instead

Date Published: Thu, 9 May 2019 20:00:14 +0200

#^"It’s Time to Break Up Facebook" says Facebook Co-Founder as the company is so big and powerful that it threatens our democracy - I say break the walls down instead

Whilst I fully appreciate the reasons I don't think another government agency is needed. Let's rather enforce an open standard between social networks so that users can migrate to and from networks whilst retaining their contacts and posts. In this way, you break down the walled gardens that lock users in and give them choices.

This is essentially what the Fediiverse is about already with Diaspora, Hubzilla, Friendica, Mastodon and others all interacting and you can move between them. I can post from Hubzilla while you follow me and reply or like from Friendica or another network. Imagine if Facebook was forced to rather open up and comply with open Fediverse protocols along with Instagram and WhatsApp? If open standards did not exist today we would not have e-mail working between different providers, Internet networking working between countries, USB plugs working across computers, cellphones roaming to another country, cars in various countries being able to use petrol/gasoline, SMS messaging that works between phone brands and OSs, and the list goes on and on.

So why do we have walled gardens for instant messaging and some social networks in tightly closed walled gardens? That's why we have this mess of lock-in today. Break down the walls and enforce standards that must stay open.

See www.nytimes.com/2019/05/09/opi… for a lot more insight into the problems with the way Facebook has grown to dominate globally with many negative consequences

#facebook #fediverse

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Who can convince those who reject climate science? Maybe their kids - US Experiment showed middle-schoolers got their parents thinking

Date Published: Thu, 9 May 2019 18:55:24 +0200

#^Who can convince those who reject climate science? Maybe their kids - US Experiment showed middle-schoolers got their parents thinking

There are significant generational differences when it comes to opinions on climate change in the US. Students are more open to learning about this scientific issue without getting snagged on the culture wars that have divided American opinions along political and cultural lines, which probably explains why younger people are less likely than their grandparents to claim that climate science is “a hoax.” But can kids help us with that problem now, or will they have to wait decades for their turn behind the levers of power?

A team of researchers led by North Carolina State University’s Danielle Lawson set out to test how kids affect their parents’ opinions by bringing what they learn home. The researchers recruited middle school teachers in coastal North Carolina, assigning some to try out a specific climate change lesson plan and using the rest as a control group for comparison. In total, about 200 families went through the experimental curriculum, with about 100 kids in the control group taking unchanged classes.

The experimental curriculum consisted of four class activities teaching students about the difference between weather and climate and how climate change impacts the species around them. They then participated in a relevant local community project. This experience was designed to fulfill education standards but also to be similar to other lesson plans in which novel experiences have been shown to get kids talking at home, resulting in parental attitude changes. To that end, the kids were also given an assignment to interview their parents about their perceptions of changes in the local weather.

All of the students and parents filled out surveys assessing their opinions on climate change and whether their family had discussed the topic. The results showed that, unsurprisingly, the experience increased the students’ concern about climate change. But it also had an effect on their parents. There were significant increases in parental concern about the topic—particularly among the demographics that started out least concerned.

I suppose this makes sense as the older generations have their thinking a lot more "polluted" by politics and grew up in the era of everything plentiful and the end of the industrial revolution. The youth of today are more open to learning and questioning what is being said. The future belongs to today's youth. Older folk may switch off from external influences but it's difficult to switch off from your kids living in your own house and wanting to discuss this topic where they have a real interest and care in the topic. Often just rational debate/discussion will open minds and this will be easier to happen when there are no external threats butting into the discussion.

Read more about the outcomes and conclusions from this experiment at arstechnica.com/science/2019/0…

#climatechange #education

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New York's Columbia University Scientists discover a game-changing way to remove salt from water called Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction

Date Published: Thu, 9 May 2019 18:33:23 +0200

#^New York's Columbia University Scientists discover a game-changing way to remove salt from water called Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction

The process is called Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction and it's designed to purify hypersaline brines (water that contains a high concentration of salts, making it up to seven times as salty as seawater). This kind of wastewater is produced by industrial processes and during oil and gas production, and it poses a major pollution risk to groundwater.

What's most exciting about the process is its implications. The team was able to remove up to 98.4% of the salt, which is comparable to the current "gold standard" process, reverse osmosis. But unlike reverse osmosis or other methods of desalination, this process doesn't require high temperatures or high pressures -- just a low-grade heat of less than 70 C (158 F).

And that makes it a game changer -- both for treating wastewater and even creating drinking water fit for human consumption.

Current methods are very expensive and consume a lot of power so if this is actually as efficient and is scalable then it could be a game changer. Water is getting scarcer and is more valuable to life than most other commodities.

The article at www.cnet.com/news/scientists-d… contains links to further published reports on this process

#drinkingwater #environment
#^A New Paradigm for Desalination

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George Clooney for United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation And Support Science (UDUMASS) - With all the Information we have available today are we Dumber than ever before?

Date Published: Thu, 9 May 2019 18:32:45 +0200

#^George Clooney for United to Defeat Untruthful Misinformation And Support Science (UDUMASS) - With all the Information we have available today are we Dumber than ever before?

We have way more information today, more quickly available, to many more people than ever before in our history. We should be the brightest and best-informed humans that ever lived on Earth. Yet we seem to have really conflicting ideas on health issues, diet issues, shooting up schools, abortions, climate change, gender rights and a distrust/suspicion around scientists (I'm referring to the global situation and no single country is entirely blameless).

The social media stirring pot is not really doing much to make things better at all. If anything it is just stirring more and more mud into the mix with emotions, noise, opinions and ideologies ultimately triumphing over what some see as common sense and science.

According to a new report from the United Nations, our planet is in worse shape than at any other time in human history. Scientific fact is suddenly seen as some kind of partisan scare tactic. It endangers us all, so George Clooney is spearheading a new initiative to raise awareness of this foray into ignorance, and what he has to say is important.

For me it is not about who is just right or wrong, it is about how do we agree to determine who is right or wrong. Right now it seems to be the people with the most Twitter, YouTube or Facebook followers.

So yes this video did get me thinking a bit - watch it at youtu.be/0Ab4BRAQElw

#UDUMASS #georgeclooney
#^George Clooney Against DUMBF**KERY

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According to a new report from the United Nations, our planet is in worse shape than at any other time in human history. The Trump Administration has done ev...

Short video clip showing detailed graphics on a Leopard A1A1 tank in War Thunder

Date Published: Thu, 9 May 2019 18:31:45 +0200

#^Short video clip showing detailed graphics on a Leopard A1A1 tank in War Thunder

Amazing how the paint details and movement of the tank's wheels and tracks appear in the game.

See youtu.be/N1DodDEarMU

#warthunder #WT #tank
#^War Thunder - German Leopard A1A1 Premium Tank Graphicss

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Short video clip just showing off some of the detailed graphics and how you can see details such as the track and wheels moving as the tank manoeuvres.

Non-invasive glucose monitor EasyGlucose takes home Microsoft’s Imagine Cup and $100K

Date Published: Wed, 8 May 2019 21:36:15 +0200

#^Non-invasive glucose monitor EasyGlucose takes home Microsoft’s Imagine Cup and $100K

EasyGlucose takes advantage of machine learning’s knack for spotting the signal in noisy data, in this case the tiny details of the eye’s iris. It turns out, as creator Brian Chiang explained in his presentation, that the iris’s “ridges, crypts, and furrows” hide tiny hints as to their owner’s blood glucose levels.

These features aren’t the kind of thing you can see with the naked eye (or rather, on the naked eye), but by clipping a macro lens onto a smartphone camera Chiang was able to get a clear enough image that his computer vision algorithms were able to analyze them.

The resulting blood glucose measurement is significantly better than any non-invasive measure and more than good enough to serve in place of the most common method used by diabetics: stabbing themselves with a needle every couple hours. Currently EasyGlucose gets within 7 percent of the pinprick method, well above what’s needed for “clinical accuracy,” and Chiang is working on closing that gap. No doubt this innovation will be welcomed warmly by the community, as well as the low cost: $10 for the lens adapter, and $20 per month for continued support via the app.

It’s not a home run, or not just yet: Naturally, a technology like this can’t go straight from the lab (or in this case the dorm) to global deployment. It needs FDA approval first, though it likely won’t have as protracted a review period as, say, a new cancer treatment or surgical device. In the meantime, EasyGlucose has a patent pending, so no one can eat its lunch while it navigates the red tape.

See techcrunch.com/2019/05/08/non-…

#easyglucose

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Steam Hardware & Software Survey for April 2019 shows the most popular CPU's graphics cards, RAM, VR headsets in use by its gamers

Date Published: Wed, 8 May 2019 19:14:42 +0200

#^Steam Hardware & Software Survey for April 2019 shows the most popular CPU's graphics cards, RAM, VR headsets in use by its gamers

Steam conducts a monthly survey to collect data about what kinds of computer hardware and software their customers are using. Participation in the survey is optional, and anonymous.

What its telling me is that my hardware is generally all above par but my graphics card is in the under 1% category and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 has a clear lead over all other cards. It's a VR read card too. I'm feeling a very strong pull....

You can click below each graph for a detailed breakdown of that category and above the summary chart you can also switch to filtering between Windows, MacOS and Linux hardware stats. Nice to see Manjaro Linux users outnumber Linux Mint users but Ubuntu is still way ahead. Linux machines on average have slightly faster CPU's with double the RAM of Windows users (why when Linux is happy with less). Windows users have more hard drive capacity with more free space than Linux hardware on average. Interesting...

I'd have been very interested to also see keyboard and mouse stats but I think those are not easily obtainable.

See store.steampowered.com/hwsurve…

#gaming #hardware

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Blockchain is a lot like teen sex: Everybody talks about it, no one has a clue how to do it - Still a solution looking for a problem?

Date Published: Wed, 8 May 2019 09:38:16 +0200

#^Blockchain is a lot like teen sex: Everybody talks about it, no one has a clue how to do it - Still a solution looking for a problem?

Blockchain remains a solution to a problem that doesn't exist and of the supply chain projects that got past sign-off, most remain in the pilot phase.

According to a survey of supply chain specialists carried out by Gartner, nine out of 10 blockchain-based projects will have come unstuck by 2023. Only 9 per cent of companies have actually spent money on blockchain projects and just 19 per cent said it was a very important technology for their business.

The analysts blamed the difficulty in identifying the right projects for the technology forcing companies to run multiple pilot schemes, a confused vendor market and the lack of off-the-shelf solutions to purchase. Its defenders note, somewhat fairly, that these accusations could be levelled at the introduction of any new technology.

Bottom line is don't rush in for the sake of it. Think carefully about what your business reason is for using it.

See www.theregister.co.uk/2019/05/…

#blockchain

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UK power plants just went five days without burning any coal - Wind picks up as coal declines

Date Published: Wed, 8 May 2019 09:34:41 +0200

#^UK power plants just went five days without burning any coal - Wind picks up as coal declines

UK power plants have just gone over five days without burning any coal, their longest coal-free streak since the Industrial Revolution, Bloomberg reports. The five-day period, which began on May 1st, beats the 90-hour record that was set earlier this year. The UK intends to phase out coal power completely by 2025.

This new record comes just over two years after the UK achieved the milestone of going one day without coal. However, the makeup of the country’s energy sources has changed significantly in that time. The biggest increase has come from wind power, which is up to as much as 27 percent from 12.2 percent, but the proportion of nuclear power also increased from 21.2 percent to 24 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of the country’s energy from natural gas decreased from just over 50 percent to 25 percent.

See www.theverge.com/2019/5/7/1853…

#windpower #coal

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Google debuts cheaper Pixel smartphones from US$399

Date Published: Wed, 8 May 2019 00:02:48 +0200

#^Google debuts cheaper Pixel smartphones from US$399

Google unveiled cheaper Pixel smartphones on Tuesday after the company’s line of premium handsets failed to sell in large numbers.

Slower processors and cheaper materials helped Google price the Pixel 3a with a 5.6-inch screen at US$399. The larger Pixel 3a XL has a 6-inch screen and costs $479. That’s roughly half the price of the company’s existing Pixel phones, before recent discounts.

The 3a and 3a XL displays aren’t as advanced as those on the high-end Pixel smartphones. But in a test, the screens weren’t noticeably inferior. They look nearly identical to the current Pixel 3 line, save for a few key differences.

At less than half of the price of the flagship models, these may be perfectly livable alternatives to still get the fuill Pixel goodness with monthly security patches and updates.

See the list of some key differences at techcentral.co.za/google-debut…

#pixel #google

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