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16 Jan 10:56

How to Stay Young

by Scott Meyer

The specific model this comic was written about is no longer available, but a similar product can be had for under $50.

On a related note, I think that seeing something really cool exists, and knowing that you could buy it, but choosing not to because the item serves no useful purpose in your life is one of the hallmarks of adulthood, and also is one of the reasons kids find adults insufferably boring.


As always, thanks for using my Amazon Affiliate links (USUKCanada).

16 Jan 10:54

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Perception of Time


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Just two days left to submit a proposal for BAHFest London!

16 Jan 10:52

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Portrait


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Zach forgot to update his own website . So hey, it's Kelly! Hi, everyone!

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07 Jan 17:59

Big Banks Are Stocking Up on Blockchain Patents - Bloomberg

by brandizzi

In the headlong rush to revolutionize modern finance, blockchain enthusiasts are overlooking one potentially costly problem: their applications, built on open-source code, may actually belong to someone else.

Recently, some of the biggest names in business, from Goldman Sachs to Bank of America and Mastercard, have quietly patented some of the most promising blockchain technologies for themselves. Through mid-November, the number of patents that companies have obtained or said they’ve applied for has roughly doubled since the start of the year, according to law firm Reed Smith.

As the blockchain -- essentially a shared, cryptographically secure ledger of transactions -- evolves beyond its techno-utopian roots and startups like Chain and Hyperledger open their source code to the public, the risk is growing that patents will turn into powerful weapons in protracted lawsuits over intellectual property, especially in the hands of trolls trying to cash in on the technology’s skyrocketing rise. Increasingly, experts warn established firms will use them to assert exclusive rights over the work of blockchain’s pioneers.

“Open-source code -- that doesn’t necessarily restrict the ability to patent the underlying innovation,” said Patrick Murck, a long-time blockchain legal expert who joined Cooley LLP last month. “Anybody who’s investing in the ecosystem, anybody who’s interested in the technology should be worried about this.”

Goldman spokeswoman Tiffany Galvin declined to comment, while Bank of America didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Playing Defense

Mastercard’s Justin Pinkham says, that like many other companies, it’s simply filing patents to defend its blockchain inventions -- as it always does, in all areas of its work. The company has filed for more than 30 patents related to the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, he said.

Read more: Blockchain’s potential to reshape finance -- a QuickTake

“We have expanded our patent portfolio to protect the company’s thinking, innovations and intellectual property,” said Pinkham, the head of payments innovation at Mastercard Labs.

Because open-source code is freely available to the public, legal disputes have cropped up over who actually owns the rights to the innovations built using that code. Patent wars over Linux -- a popular, open-sourced software used in phones, computers and servers -- have raged for more than a decade.

In the fledgling blockchain industry, the stakes are rising fast. Originally developed to record bitcoin transactions, the distributed ledger has attracted big-name backers like Blythe Masters -- a former JPMorgan banker who’s become one if its most vocal proponents -- because of its potential to reshape how financial services, supply chain and health-care industries are run.

Growth Potential

In finance alone, blockchain’s adoption could create a multi billion-dollar market in the coming decade, from just tens of millions today, according to Gil Luria, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

That’s prompted firms to patent their most lucrative innovations. Companies worldwide applied for or received patents for 356 families of blockchain- or cryptocurrency-related patents in November, up from 180 in January, according to Marc Kaufman, who specializes in fintech intellectual property at Reed Smith, and Questel, a database provider. While the figure doesn’t compare to other, more developed industries, Kaufman expects the number to balloon.

“We are seeing an increase in filings that’s exponential,” he said. “I predict that we’ll see in five years thousands of patents. It’s an emerging risk, no doubt about it.”

‘Harm Innovation’

Until now, many blockchain startups have downplayed the importance of patents and pinned their hopes on wider adoption through open source. Hyperledger, a venture led by companies including IBM, Accenture and Intel, makes its code free for others to use and enhance. Chain, which lets companies use the blockchain to issue and transfer assets, released its code in late October. Even R3 -- a consortium of some of the largest banks -- made its Corda blockchain available last month.

As such projects have multiplied, some blockchain supporters have suggested open-source makes patents irrelevant. It doesn’t, according to Vitalik Buterin, co-creator of the popular Ethereum blockchain.

Companies could find themselves being sued by one-time collaborators. Large firms could wield patents to muscle into promising businesses developed by today’s startups. Patents could also be used to shut down rivals.

“Blockchain software companies may end up being amalgamated into existing software giants, at which point blockchain patents will just become part of the existing patent war,” Buterin said. “As is the case with all software patents, in my opinion their availability will only slow down and harm innovation.”

Patent Enforcement

Not long ago, BitX, a well-known cryptocurrency exchange in Africa and Southeast Asia, released its code for switching between fiat currencies and bitcoin. Soon after, the startup noticed Bank of America filed a patent for a similar technology, said Marcus Swanepoel, BitX’s chief executive officer.

That put BitX in a bind. If the patent is granted, the bank could theoretically go after BitX or some of its users, or try to charge royalties. BitX’s lawyers concluded the patent would be hard to enforce and the company ultimately decided against going to court.

“The success of those protocols depends on broad-market adoption,” Swanepoel said.

In another worrisome sign, Goldman recently quit R3, people familiar with the consortium said last month, and others may soon follow.

To forestall potential disputes, some firms like Blockstream have made patent pledges, promising its own patents will be available to others for free.

Others are working to set up a patent pool, where members can cross-license each other’s patents. Cooley’s Murck points to Open Invention Network as a model. Launched in 2005, OIN was set up to cross-license and buy up Linux-related patents. OIN is now considering buying up blockchain-related patents as well, according to CEO Keith Bergelt.

“We are creating a patent non-aggression environment,” he said.

Nevertheless, good intentions may mean very little when push comes to shove.

“I would take people at face value, that they’d take patents without intending to assert them,” Reed Smith’s Kaufman said. But, “if you are part of a public company and companies infringe your patents, you may have an obligation. There have been many, many patent cases based on patents that were initially considered defense patents.”

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07 Jan 17:58

monstirinha #14

by Fábio Coala


O mundo é muito melhor visto pelos olhos de uma criança.

O post monstirinha #14 apareceu primeiro em Mentirinhas.

07 Jan 17:57

rockpapercynic:Tried, tested and true.


Tried, tested and true.

07 Jan 17:55


by Reza

07 Jan 17:55

Eu tô bem

by Will Tirando


07 Jan 17:55

Team Chat

Adam Victor Brandizzi

Sigh, let them use IRC...

2078: He announces that he's finally making the jump from screen+irssi to tmux+weechat.
07 Jan 17:54

For sharing:Long-ways | Box-ways

For sharing:

Long-ways | Box-ways

07 Jan 17:48


07 Jan 17:46

Viva Intensamente # 292

by Will Tirando


07 Jan 17:45


I didn't even realize you could HAVE a data set made up entirely of outliers.
07 Jan 17:45


by Lunarbaboon

07 Jan 17:42


by Laerte Coutinho

07 Jan 17:42


by Laerte Coutinho

07 Jan 17:42


by Laerte Coutinho

07 Jan 17:41

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Hiring Metrics


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Extending the logic a bit, Cartooning is the most scientific discipline of all.

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07 Jan 17:40

Pavê ou pacomê

by Will Tirando


02 Jan 16:50

kids these days with their wing-wangs, beep-bop and their hoop...

kids these days with their wing-wangs, beep-bop and their hoop moop scadoops!

02 Jan 16:49

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Monty Hall Problems


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Actually, pretty much everything beyond intro calculus is run by goblins.

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01 Jan 18:10

How to ask good questions

Asking good questions is a super important skill when writing software. I’ve gotten way better at it over the years (to the extent that it’s something my coworkers comment on a lot). Here are a few guidelines that have worked well for me!

To start out – I’m actually kind of a big believer in asking dumb questions or questions that aren’t “good”. I ask people kind of dumb questions all the time, questions that I could have answered with Google or by searching our codebase. I mostly try not to, but sometimes I do it anyway and I don’t think it’s the end of the world.

So this list of strategies isn’t about “here are all the things you have to do before asking a question, otherwise you are a bad person and should feel bad, but rather “here are some things that have helped me ask better questions and get the answers I want!”.

what’s a good question?

Our goal is going to be to ask questions about technical concepts that are easy to answer. I often have somebody with me who has a bunch of knowledge that I’d like to know too, but they don’t always know exactly how to explain it to me in the best way.

If I ask a good series of questions, then I can help the person explain what they know to me efficiently and guide them to telling me the stuff I’m interested in knowing. So let’s talk about how to do that!

State what you know

This is one of my favorite question-asking techniques! This kind of question basically takes the form

  1. State what you understand about the subject so far
  2. Ask “is that right?”

For example, I was talking to someone (a really excellent question asker) about networking recently! They stated “so, what I understand here is that there’s some chain of recursive dns servers…”. That was not correct! There is actually no chain of recursive DNS servers. (when you talk to a recursive DNS server there is only 1 recursive server involved) So them saying their understanding so far made it easy for us to clarify how it actually works.

I was interested in rkt a while back, and I didn’t understand why rkt took up so much more disk space than Docker when running containers.

“Why does rkt use more disk space than Docker” didn’t feel like the right question though – I understood more or less how the code worked, but I didn’t understand why they wrote the code that way. So I wrote this question to the rkt-dev mailing list: Why does rkt store container images differently from Docker?.


  • wrote down my understanding of how both rkt and Docker store containers on disk
  • came up with a few reasons I thought they might have designed it the way they did
  • and just asked “is my understanding right?”

The answer I got was super super helpful, exactly what I was looking for. It took me quite a while to formulate the question in a way that I was happy with, and I’m happy I took the time because it made me understand what was happening a lot better.

Stating your understanding is not at all easy (it takes time to think about what you know and clarify your thoughts!!) but it works really well and it makes it a lot easier for the person you’re asking to help you.

Ask questions where the answer is a fact

A lot of the questions I have start out kind of vague, like “How do SQL joins work?”. That question isn’t awesome, because there are a lot of different parts of how joins work! How is the person even supposed to know what I’m interested in learning?

I like to ask questions where the answer is a straightforward fact. For example, in our SQL joins example, some questions with facts for answers might be:

  • What’s the time complexity of joining two tables of size N and M? Is it O(NM)? O(NlogN) + O(MlogM)?
  • Does MySQL always sort the join columns as a first step before doing the join?
  • I know that Hadoop sometimes does a “hash join” – is that a joining strategy that other database engines use too?
  • When I do a join between one indexed column and one unindexed column, do I need to sort the unindexed column?

When I ask super specific questions like this, the person I’m asking doesn’t always know the answer (which is fine!!) but at least they understand the kind of question I’m interested in – like, I’m obviously not interested in knowing how to use a join, I want to understand something about the implementation details and the algorithms.

Be willing to say what you don’t understand

Often when someone is explaining something to me, they’ll say something that I don’t understand. For example, someone might be explaining something about databases to me and say “well, we use optimistic locking with MySQL, and so…”. I have no idea what “optimistic locking” is. So that would be a good time to ask! :)

Being able to stop someone and say “hey, what does that mean?” is a super important skill. I think of it as being one of the properties of a confident engineer and an awesome thing to grow into. I see a lot of senior engineers who frequently ask for clarifications – I think when you’re more confident in your skills, this gets easier.

The more I do this, the more comfortable I feel asking someone to clarify. in fact, if someone doesn’t ask me for clarifications when I’m explaining something, I worry that they’re not really listening!

This also creates space for the question answerer to admit when they’ve reached the end of their knowledge! Very frequently when I’m asking someone questions, I’ll ask something that they don’t know. People I ask are usually really good at saying “nope, I don’t know that!”

Identify terms you don’t understand

When I started at my current job, I started on the data team. When I started looking at what my new job entailed, there were all these words! Hadoop, Scalding, Hive, Impala, HDFS, zoolander, and more. I had maybe heard of Hadoop before but I didn’t know what basically any of these words meant. Some of the words were internal projects, some of them were open source projects. So I started just by asking people to help me understand what each of the terms meant and the relationships between them. Some kinds of questions I might have asked:

  • Is HDFS a database? (no, it’s a distributed file system)
  • Does Scalding use Hadoop? (yes)
  • Does Hive use Scalding? (no)

I actually wrote a ‘dictionary’ of all the terms because there were so many of them, and understanding what all the terms meant really helped me orient myself and ask better questions later on.

Do some research

When I was typing up those SQL questions above, I typed “how are sql joins implemented” into Google. I clicked some links, saw “oh, I see, sometimes there is sorting, sometimes there are hash joins, I’ve heard about those”, and then wrote down some more specific questions I had. Googling a little first helped me write slightly better questions!

That said, I think people sometimes harp too much on “never ask a question without Googling it first” – sometimes I’ll be at lunch with someone and I’ll be curious about their work, and I’ll ask them some kind of basic questions about it. This is totally fine!

But doing research is really useful, and it’s actually really fun to be able to do enough research to come up with a set of awesome questions.

Decide who to ask

I’m mostly talking here about asking your coworkers questions, since that’s where I spend most of my time.

Some calculations I try to make when asking my coworkers questions are:

  • is this a good time for this person? (if they’re in the middle of a stressful thing, probably not)
  • will asking them this question save me as much time as it takes them? (if I can ask a question that takes them 5 minutes to answer, and will save me 2 hours, that’s excellent :D)
  • How much time will it take them to answer my questions? If I have half an hour of questions to ask, I might want to schedule a block of time with them later, if I just have one quick question I can probably just ask it right now.
  • Is this person too senior for this question? I think it’s kind of easy to fall into the trap of asking the most experienced / knowledgeable person every question you have about a topic. But it’s often actually better to find someone who’s a little less knowledgeable – often they can actually answer most of your questions, it spreads the load around, and they get to showcase their knowledge (which is awesome).

I don’t always get this right, but it’s been helpful for me to think about these things.

Also, I usually spend more time asking people who I’m closer to questions – there are people who I talk to almost every day, and I can generally ask them questions easily because they have a lot of context about what I’m working on and can easily give me a helpful answer.

How to ask questions the smart way by ESR is a popular and pretty hostile document (it starts out poorly with statements like ‘We call people like this “losers”’). It’s about asking questions to strangers on the internet. Asking strangers on the internet questions is a super useful skill and can get you really useful information, but it’s also the “hard mode” of asking questions. The person you’re talking to knows very little about your situation, so it helps to be proportionally more careful about stating what exactly you want to know. I don’t like ESR’s document at all but it has some useful things to say. The “How To Answer Questions in a Helpful Way” section is actually really excellent.

Ask questions to show what’s not obvious

A more advanced form of question asking is asking questions to reveal hidden assumptions or knowledge. This kind of question actually has two purposes – first, to get the answers (there is probably information one person has that other people don’t!) but also to point out that there is some hidden information, and that sharing it is useful.

The “The Art of Asking Questions” section of the Etsy’s Debriefing Facilitation Guide is a really excellent introduction to this, in the context of discussing an incident that has happened. Here are a few of the questions from that guide:

“What things do you look for when you suspect this type of failure happened?”

“How did you judge that this situation was ‘normal?”

How did you know that the database was down?

How did you know that was the team you needed to page?

These kinds of questions (that seem pretty basic, but are not actually obvious) are especially powerful when someone who’s in a position of some authority asks them. I really like it when a manager / senior engineer asks a basic but important question like “how did you know the database was down?” because it creates space for less-senior people to ask the same kinds of questions later.

Answer questions.

One of my favorite parts of André Arko’s great How to Contribute to Open Source post is where he says

Now that you’ve read all the issues and pull requests, start to watch for questions that you can answer. It won’t take too long before you notice that someone is asking a question that’s been answered before, or that’s answered in the docs that you just read. Answer the questions you know how to answer.

If you’re ramping up on a new project, answering questions from people who are learning the stuff you just learned can be a really awesome way to solidify your knowledge. Whenever I answer a question about a new topic for the first time I always feel like “omg, what if I answer their question wrong, omg”. But usually I can answer their question correctly, and then I come away feeling awesome and like I understand the subject better!

Questions can be a huge contribution

Good questions can be a great contribution to a community! I asked a bunch of questions about CDNs a while back on twitter and wrote up the answers in CDNs aren’t just for caching. A lot of people told me they really liked that blog post, and I think that me asking those questions helped a lot of people, not just me.

A lot of people really like answering questions! I think it’s important to think of good questions as an awesome thing that you can do to add to the conversation, not just “ask good questions so that people are only a little annoyed instead of VERY annoyed”.

Thanks to Charity Majors for reminding me that I have something to say about asking questions, and to Jeff Fowler & Dan Puttick for talking about this with me!

01 Jan 18:09

How to do what you love and make good money | Derek Sivers

by brandizzi


The problem:

People with a well-paying job ask my advice because they want to quit to become full-time artists.

But full-time artists ask my advice because they’re finding it impossible to make money.

(Let’s define “art” as anything you do for expression, even just blogging or whatever.)

The solution:

For both of them, I prescribe the lifestyle of the happiest people I know:

  1. Have a well-paying job
  2. Seriously pursue your art for love, not money

The ingredients:


You’ve heard about balancing heart and mind, or right-brain left-brain, or whatever you want to call it.

We all have a need for stability and adventure, certainty and uncertainty, money and expression.

Too much stability, and you get bored. Not enough, and you’re devastated. So keep the balance.

Do something for love, and something for money. Don’t try to make one thing satisfy your entire life.

In practice, then, each half of your life becomes a remedy for the other.

You get paid and get stability for part of your day, but then need creative time for expression.

So you push yourself creatively, expose your vulnerable darlings to the public, feel the frustration of rejection and apathy, and then long for some stability again.

Each half a remedy for the other.


Be smart, and choose something that pays well with a solid future.

Look for statistics in your area about what pays the best, when factoring in training required.

You’ll probably need to study for a few years to build up the rare skills that are well-rewarded.

Read the book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” for more great thoughts on this.

This is a head choice, not heart choice, since you’re not trying to make your job your entire life.


Pursue it seriously. Take lessons. Make weekly progress. Keep improving, even if you’ve been doing it for decades.

If you don’t progress and challenge yourself creatively, it won’t satisfy the balance.

Release and sell your work, like a pro. Find some fans. Let them pay you. Make a band and do some gigs for fun.

But the attitude is different than someone who needs the money.

You don’t need to worry if it doesn’t sell. You don’t need to please the marketplace. No need to compromise your art, or value it based on others’ opinions.

You’re just doing this for yourself — art for its own sake.

And you’re releasing it because that’s one of the most rewarding parts, is important for self-identity, and gives you good feedback on how to improve.


Your main obstacle to this amazing life will be self-control.

Mind management, to leave your job at the office, and not bring it home with you.

Time management, to stop addictions like social media and video-watching, and make your art your main relaxing activity.

Read the book “Daily Rituals” for great examples of this.

Final thoughts:

How nice to not expect your job to fulfill all your emotional needs.

How nice to not taint something you love with the need to make money from it.

Most full-time artists I know only spend an hour or two a day actually doing their art. The rest is spent on mundane crap that comes with trying to make it a full-time career. So skip the art career and just do the art.

I’m fully expecting you to disagree with this advice. But I’ve met about a hundred people a week for the last 18 years, many of them full-time musicians, many of them not, but the happiest people I know are the ones that have this balance. So there’s my blunt template advice, given only because people keep asking.

Don’t try to make your job your whole life.

Don’t try to make your art your sole income.

Let each be what it is, and put in the extra effort to balance the two, for a rewarding life.

© 2016 Derek Sivers. ( « previous || next » )

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01 Jan 18:08

No False Users

by brandizzi
Adam Victor Brandizzi

The most interesting thing here is not the argument about personas etc. It's the argument against the economic history where banter was basic. So apparently banter was never this initial economic tool we believed was the primeval one! Which makes me wonder: which other economic systems existed?

I’m always struck in technical meetings how quickly people dream up imaginary people. People with very specific needs that they didn’t know they had. A recent meeting I was in suggested that if streetlights and hospital shift patterns were connected to the Internet of Things, we could potentially make sure that nurses can get home safely at given times, by increasing lighting at the end of shifts. Or that by comparing bus times with air pollution data, we can start to think about where buses are idling and reduce respiratory disease. But of course, they’re just possibilities! We don’t know yet! Think of the potential! Article length: 1131 words.
Approx. 6 minute read.

And sure. All those things are possible. But they’re fantasies. And it’s OK to start with a fantasy – decades of science fiction have guided science and engineering. Everything starts with an idea, at some level of application. But those ideas rapidly get blown wildly out of proportion. The problem is that by creating these stories and allowing them to persist, they get repeated ad nauseum as post hoc, ego propter hoc justifications.

User stories A common software development technique where individual tasks someone might want to do are listed and prioritised. Read more on Wikipedia. are meant to be non-fiction. We should not be in the business of giving any more airtime to fictional user stories than we need to, given how easy it is to gather them. The cart should not lead the horse. I’m sure that if you asked medical staff their top 20 desires, the lighting on the way home wouldn’t even factor, and that streetlights are part of a carefully orchestrated city engineering process. And I’m sure that if one really wanted to reduce air pollution, having a networked grid of air quality sensors would give useful information, but do absolutely nothing to tackle the problem of air pollution in cities. And in the vacuum of applications for these ideas, I suspect these “straw users” will have already been referred to half a dozen times as hypothetical benefits Including myself when describing the meeting to my partner in the evening. I had to say them out loud before realising how silly they were..

Adam Smith famously described in The Wealth of Nations the obvious progression of how humans moved from a barter system, to coinage, to a bookkeeping system. This version of economics is widely accepted as the obvious - if not inevitable - backdrop to modern society. Except, he totally made it up. There is no anthropological evidence of a society where barter existed before other forms of currency, anywhere in the world. David Graeber Graeber, David (2011). Debt: The First 5,000 Years. Melville House, New York. explains:

For centuries now, explorers have been trying to find this fabled land of barter - none with success. Adam Smith set his story in aboriginal North America (others preferred Africa or the Pacific). In Smith’s time, at least it could be said that reliable information on Native American economic systems was unavailable in Scottish libraries. But by mid-century, Lewis Henry Morgan’s descriptions of the Six Nations of the Iroquois, among others, were widely published - and they made clear that the main economic institution among the Iroquois nations were longhouses where most goods were stockpiled and then allocated by women’s councils, and no one ever traded arrowheads for slabs of meat. Economists simply ignored this information.

Stanley Jevons, for example, who in 1871 wrote what has come to be considered the classic book on the origins of money, took his examples straight from Smith, with Indians swapping venison for elk and beaver hides, and made no use of actual descriptions of Indian life that made it clear that Smith had simply made this up. Around that same time, missionaries, adventurers, and colonial administrators were fanning out across the world, many bringing copies of Smith’s book with them, expecting to find the land of barter. None ever did. They discovered an almost endless variety of economic systems. But to this day, no one has been able to locate a part of the world where the ordinary mode of economic transaction between neighbors takes the form of “I’ll give you twenty chickens for that cow”.

There’s a moral somewhere in here about the power of persuasive storytelling. John le Carré comments in many interviews that it is his job to make characters believable, not truthful. And much like a good piece of misdirection from a spy, Smith’s fairy tales about fictional civilisations have made us believe something fundamental about human behaviour that isn’t true. The great revelation here of course is that fundamentally people share, and support each other: not something very palatable to colonial Britain’s Whiggish history “…an approach to historiography that presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy” (Wikipedia).

Clearly, something about Smith’s tale was so believable and so persuasive that it has fundamentally changed the way we think about money. I’m not suggesting that anyone is doing this by making stories about products - but I do think that the stories dreamt up on the spot like this have a habit of sprouting wings and taking flight. And we should be extremely careful to not release our personal fictions masquerading as technical specifications into the world.

There’s an underlying, unspoken assumption with technology projects that “if you build it, they will come”, much like the Whigs’ belief that we simply march forwards towards greater enlightenment. As Maslow famously remarked: when you’re holding a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. But we must be careful to not allow these ideas to persist without testing them straight away. There’s a lot of power in stories, and we shouldn’t be using them to justify the enormous expense and time commitment that most technology projects command. The irony is we live in a world with unprecedented potential for gathering data: asking a few nurses what they think about it would take minutes on something like Twitter or Facebook. And by doing so we can put the cart back behind the horse, and make technology solve people’s problems, rather than inventing problems to justify technology.

Making solutions to problems no-one has is a waste of everyone’s time and our planet’s dwindling resources. Innovation shouldn’t mean disengaging from society and has no built-in moral “goodness” - unchecked, it simply will replicate and support the injustice and inequality already in the world. Imaginary scenarios are a fine place to start, but user stories should be non-fiction, and we need to be careful to separate the two.

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01 Jan 17:39

FreeDOS then and now

by Jim Hall
In the 1980s and 1990s, I used MS-DOS for everything. I had used MS-DOS systems for a long time, and regularly used MS-DOS and DOS applications for my work. I had taught myself C programming, and wrote DOS utilities to improve MS-DOS and expand its functionality. While I also used Linux since 1993, I thought DOS was the best system for me, with its rich catalog of useful applications that helped me as an undergraduate physics student—mostly analyzing lab data and writing papers for class.

So I was disappointed in 1994 when I read articles where Microsoft announced that the next version of Windows would do away with MS-DOS. "DOS was dead," so they said. But I didn't like Windows. If you remember what Microsoft Windows 3.1 looked like, you'll know it was clunky and awkward. If Windows 4.0 was going to be anything like that, I wanted nothing to do with it.

I started FreeDOS in 1994 with a small post to the comp.os.msdos.apps group on Usenet. Almost immediately, other developers contacted me, and we began work creating our own version of DOS that would be compatible with MS-DOS. I packaged my own extended DOS utilities, as did others, and we found other public domain or open source programs that replaced other DOS commands. A few months later, we released our first FreeDOS Alpha distribution. This interested new developers to join FreeDOS. From there, FreeDOS grew very quickly.

Our FreeDOS History page has a timeline of interesting events in FreeDOS history. Let me share just the major milestones:
  • Free-DOS Alpha 1 (16 September 1994)
  • Free-DOS Alpha 2 (December 1994)
  • Free-DOS Alpha 3 (January 1995)
  • Free-DOS Alpha 4 (June 1995)
  • FreeDOS Alpha 5 (10 August 1996)
  • FreeDOS Alpha 6 (November 1997)
  • FreeDOS Beta 1 "Orlando" (25 March 1998)
  • FreeDOS Beta 2 "Marvin" (28 October 1998)
  • FreeDOS Beta 3 "Ventura" (21 April 1999)
  • FreeDOS Beta 4 "Lemur" (9 April 2000)
  • FreeDOS Beta 5 "Lara" (10 August 2000)
  • FreeDOS Beta 6 "Midnite" (18 March 2001)
  • FreeDOS Beta 7 "Spears" (7 September 2001)
  • FreeDOS Beta 8 "Methusalem" (7 April 2002)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 RC1 (July 2003)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 RC2 (23 August 2003)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 RC3 (27 September 2003)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 RC4 (5 February 2004)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 RC5 (20 March 2004)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 (28 September 2004)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 SR1 (30 November 2004)
  • FreeDOS Beta 9 SR2 (30 November 2005)
  • FreeDOS 1.0 (3 September 2006)
  • FreeDOS 1.1 (2 January 2012)
  • FreeDOS 1.2 RC1 (31 October 2016)
  • FreeDOS 1.2 RC2 (24 November 2016)
  • FreeDOS 1.2 (25 December 2016)
Before FreeDOS 1.0, we released frequent Alpha and Beta versions. After FreeDOS 1.0, we went into a "stable" mode where FreeDOS doesn't need to change very quickly.

Earlier this week, we announced the FreeDOS 1.2 distribution. In many ways, FreeDOS has changed a lot since 1994. But under the covers, FreeDOS is still just DOS.

In our Alpha releases, FreeDOS (then "Free-DOS") was a collection of commands and a few extra utilities. Our DOS kernel was pretty bare-bones back then, and didn't support networking or CDROM drives. But FreeDOS could run a lot of popular programs and games, including compilers, and became quite popular. Over time, developers have added to FreeDOS and built it up to what it is today. FreeDOS 1.2 now includes a ton of useful utilities, graphical desktops, games, and other tools that help people to develop embedded systems, run legacy software, or just play classic DOS games.

While it's interesting to look back on how FreeDOS has changed since 1994, it's also important to mark how computing has changed in that time.

User londonpopstar on Imgur found an old Best Buy ad from October 23, 1994. That's the same year we started the FreeDOS Project. Check out what personal computing looked like at the time, via this sample:

Personal computers were based on the Intel '486 processor in 1994. The Pentium processor had been available since 1993, but the cost-to-performance wasn't really there until 1994 or 1995. It's safe to say that most users at home ran a '486. Notebooks were a thing, but were much bulkier than the ones you find today. And to make them cost-effective, most ran a '486 in 1994. From the Best Buy ad:
Model CPU Speed Memory Drive Cost
Desktops IBM 486DX2 50MHz 4MB 363MB $1397
Acer 486DX2 66MHz 8MB 540MB $1576
Packard Bell 486DX2 66MHz 8MB 720MB $1798
Compaq 486DX2 66MHz 8MB 420MB $1798
Laptops Compaq, 8.4" display 486DX2 40MHz 4MB 250MB $2598
Compaq, 9.5" display 486DX2 40MHz 4MB 250MB $3298
Today's computers are much more powerful. Using today's Best Buy as a comparison, the most-recommended Intel desktop is a Dell Inspiron desktop with 6th Gen Intel Core i3-6100 (3.7GHz) processor, 8GB memory, and 1TB hard drive for $379.99. The top-recommended Intel laptop is a Dell Inspiron laptop with 13.3" display, 7th Gen Intel Core i5-7200U (2.5GHz) mobile processor, 8GB memory, and 256GB solid state drive for $599.99.

Let's compare. The 1994 Acer is the "middle of the road" desktop, so let's use that as our point of reference.
1994 2016
CPU 486DX2 (32-bit) Core i3 (64-bit)
Speed 66MHz 3.7GHz = 3,700MHz
Memory 8MB 8GB = 8,000MB
Drive 540MB 1TB = 1,000GB = 1,000,000MB
Cost $1,576 $380
So desktop computers have gone from 32-bit to dual-core 64-bit, now 56× faster, 1000× the memory, and over 1800× the storage. All that for a quarter the price (not adjusted dollars). Today's laptops are one-fifth the price but over 62× faster, 2000× the memory, and 1000× the storage. Computers have gotten faster and cheaper.

And that's if you even use a traditional "computer" anymore. Many people use the Cloud for most of their day-to-day computing: responding to email, writing documents, or planning events. For that, you can just as easily use something like a Google Chromebook (most are $300) which has very little on-board storage but provides a platform to do everything via the Cloud.

But when you think about it, much of your "computing" tasks can be done on a smartphone. The ever-present smartphone does pretty much everything your 1994 computer could do, and also includes a phone, GPS, and camera. Comparison to 1994 is pretty tough; back then, the most popular mobile phone was the Nokia, but it was just something you called people with.

And how you run FreeDOS has changed, too. In 1994, almost everyone ran FreeDOS directly on hardware. Typically, you installed FreeDOS in a separate hard drive partition on your computer, and used a boot-selector to let you boot FreeDOS when you wanted. But today, most people prefer to run FreeDOS inside a virtual machine or PC emulator; we also recommend that on our website. You can still run FreeDOS on a modern computer, but it's just easier to use a PC emulator instead.

I'm amazed at how far FreeDOS has changed. From 1994, when you ran FreeDOS directly on a '486 computer with 8MB memory and 500MB hard drive—to today, when most people run FreeDOS inside a virtual machine on a much more powerful computer. Computing has definitely changed. But it's nice to know that FreeDOS is still just DOS, and you can run your old DOS programs on it.
01 Jan 16:08

Srahaaaj’s New Year

by Reza

29 Dec 23:08

Break the bars

by Scandinavia and the World
Break the bars

Break the bars

View Comic!

29 Dec 23:03

Find me here:webtoon / website / facebook / twitter / patreon

Find me here:

webtoon / website / facebook / twitter / patreon

29 Dec 23:02

Space saving Skull-saver

by Sarang Sheth

We’ve all seen the collapsible paper helmet. It’s sturdy, and folds into an unsuspecting flat piece of board that can be carried and unfolded and worn again. However, not many people feel comfortable putting their trust in paper to protect something as precious as their skull. The Fend takes what’s best about the paper helmet, its fold-ability, and breathable design, and puts it into a conventional helmet, creating something that is volumes better in shock absorption, but still manages to be foldable.

The design doesn’t deviate from regular helmets in material choice. Made out of ABS and with an EPS Foam lining, the Fend feels like any other helmet. It’s only when you’re packing it away that you marvel the wonderful folding interaction. The entire design collapses into a mass not more than 110mm wide. That’s enough to not just fit into a laptop bag, but even a regular purse! Gives a different meaning to ‘carrying protection with you’, doesn’t it?!

Designer: FEND
















29 Dec 10:29

South Koreans Build The World's First Human-Driven Bipedal Giant Robot

by brandizzi
Adam Victor Brandizzi

I'm always skeptical, yet there are more videos

(Photo Credit: Vitaly Bulgarov)

Bullies giving you a hard time at school? Not anymore.


The giant robot has been one of the coolest concepts in sci-fi since forever. I mean, who hasn’t fantasized about wielding the strength and size of an enormous mechanized avatar? As of this week, that fantasy looks close to being realized.

Behold the 13-foot tall 1.5-ton “Method-2,” brainchild of South Korean robotics company Hankook Mirae Technology, which is taking its first “baby steps” under the watchful eyes of about 30 engineers and members of the media this week.


As The Telegraph quotes company chairman Yang Jin-Ho: “Our robot is the world’s first manned bipedal robot and is built to work in extreme hazardous areas where humans cannot go [unprotected.]”

Yang has reportedly invested $200 million in the project since 2014. “The robot is one year old so it is taking baby steps,” Yang told The Telegraph. “Just like humans, it will be able to move more freely in the next couple of years.”

The paper also says Method-2 will be “ready for sale by the end of 2017 at a price of around 10 billion won ($8.3 million).” So perhaps the company’s planning to sell an elemental version or something about the timeline got lost in translation there.

Meanwhile, let’s focus on what’s important: it’s a freaking giant robot you can drive.

At first I was sure this machine was just a Hollywood prop, especially given the involvement of designer Vitaly Bulgarov, whose work you might recognize in Transformers, RoboCop, Terminator and other sci-fi projects.



But while Bulgarov did draw up some dramatized battlebot renders for Hankook Mirae, it looks like Method-2 is an honest-to-god Earth-stomping manned mech, with 286-pound arms mimicking the movements of the robot’s pilot, just like the suit from the last battle scene of Avatar.

Yang has spent millions of dollars and years of energy to “bring to life what only seemed possible in movies and cartoons,” and yeah, looks like his company pretty much nailed it.

Method-2 is apparently slated to be deployed in Japan’s Fukushima disaster area, as Bulgarov detailed on his Facebook page:


“One of the most common questions we get is about the power source. The company’s short term goals include developing robotic platforms for industrial areas where having a tethered robot is not an issue. Another short-term real world application includes mounting only the top part of the robot on a larger wheeled platform solving the problem of locomotion through an uneven terrain as well as providing enough room for sufficient power source. A modified version of that is already in development and is planned to help in restoration of Fukushima disaster area. Stay tuned for more updates!”

Method-2 looks like it could do everything from construction to military patrols, but of course the true extent of the robot’s practical applications will be determined by what its real-world functionality ends up looking like.



That said, if a consumer version really is made available for $8 million, I bet the Koreans would have no trouble selling a few of these to eccentric rich people as toys.

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