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Why we don't commute with helicopters

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Choppers are now associated mostly with militaries, hospitals, news reporting and other institutional uses. But they were once seriously touted as mass transit vehicles, the original flying car. It all came to an end in 1977, when four passengers were killed in the spectacularly nasty Panam rooftop disaster. Efforts to revive scheduled passenger helicopter service is periodically revived, but everyone's failed at it -- including future president Donald Trump.

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philipstorry
102 days ago
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Well, yes, accidents.
Oh, and the fact that it's really inefficient and expensive.
Even most of the people who read Bloomberg can't really justify the expensive of a daily commute by helicopter...
London, United Kingdom
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MAC randomization: A massive failure that leaves iPhone, Android mobes open to tracking

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Security flaws smash worthless privacy protection

Analysis To protect mobile devices from being tracked as they move through Wi-Fi-rich environments, there's a technique known as MAC address randomization. This replaces the number that uniquely identifies a device's wireless hardware with randomly generated values.…

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philipstorry
258 days ago
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This is interesting, because nobody gets it right. Samsung just forgets to turn the feature on. Apple did it correctly, then broke it, and are trampling on other's property when they do it anyway.
And it's all moot, because a chipset issue (which isn't specified) means that MAC address randomisation doesn't work.
Basically, evading tracking is hard. And this is just at one level of the stack...
London, United Kingdom
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This photo of some strawberries with no red pixels is the new 'the dress'

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UCLA neuroscientist Matt Lieberman posted the 'no red pixels' image on the left. It's developed from an original by Experimental Psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka (right) that, despite appearances, does have some very slightly red-tinged pixels in it.

Remember internet kerfuffle that was 'the dress' ? Well, there's another optical illusion that's puzzling the internet right now. Behold: the red strawberries that aren't really red. Or more specifically, the image of the strawberries contains no 'red pixels.'

The important distinction to make here is that there is red information in the image but, despite what your eyes might be telling you, red is not the highest value for any individual pixel in the image. Hence, no 'red pixel' in the image.

As was the case with 'the dress,' it all relates to a concept called color constancy, which relates to the human brain's ability to perceive objects as the same color under different lighting. Which should immediately bring to mind a familiar photographic concept: white balance. Although there's a significant cyan cast to the whole image, your brain is able to correct for it without you having to consciously identify a neutral part of the image (as you'd need to in processing software).

As a photographer, this should make it clear just how clever auto white balance algorithms have become and also why, when color accuracy is critical, you're still better off telling the camera or leaving yourself a target to confirm what grey looks like in the available lighting.

We have Experimental Psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka to thank for turning this puzzle loose on the world, and neuroscientist Matt Lieberman for turning it viral. Curiously, the first image contains a few red-dominated pixels (which Lieberman's edited version doesn't), yet appears more grey than Lieberman's version.

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philipstorry
266 days ago
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I remember early digital cameras and their white balance. Got snow? The world turns cyan.
My smartphone does better white balance than a 2002 digital camera. Which is amazing. Especially when these images show how fickle human vision is...
London, United Kingdom
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America is confused about healthcare coverage

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According to a recent poll, over a third of those polled did not know that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were the same thing.

In the survey, 35 percent of respondents said either they thought Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were different policies (17 percent) or didn’t know if they were the same or different (18 percent). This confusion was more pronounced among people 18 to 29 and those who earn less than $50,000 — two groups that could be significantly affected by repeal.

And that’s perhaps not even the worse part:

For instance, only 61 percent of adults knew that many people would lose coverage through Medicaid or subsidies for private health insurance if the A.C.A. were repealed and no replacement enacted. In contrast, approximately one in six Americans, or 16 percent, said that “coverage through Medicaid and subsidies that help people buy private health insurance would not be affected” by repeal, and 23 percent did not know.

I’ve never liked the Obamacare moniker, but clearly that’s only part of the problem.

Tags: healthcare   politics
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philipstorry
288 days ago
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It's easy to blame news outlets for this kind of misunderstanding.
It's not the news outlets. If you only want news that agrees with you and/or is entertaining, then it's your damned fault your news outlets are never going to educate you.
London, United Kingdom
digdoug
287 days ago
If news outlet's only responsibility is to their shareholders, they're going to maximize profit. That means not wasting potential ad space on pesky things like background and context. So, I guess I don't blame the outlets, I blame the shareholders?
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A new NewsBlur Android release for the new year

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Version 5.0 has a bunch of new features. It’s got new gestures, better looking icons and thumbnail previews, and little UI design details to better match the rest of NewsBlur.

Take a look:

The full feature list:

  • New gesture to mark a story as read and unread by swiping on the story title
  • UI updates to story titles
  • New preferences for the font size of feed titles and story titles
  • Fleuron on the bottom of story lists better help you keep tracking of where you are in a feed.
  • Thumbnails in story lists
  • Recover a forgotten password
  • Higher resolution icons
  • Mute feeds
  • Option to enable confirmation for destructive mark-reads
  • Custom server support

What a good way to close out January.

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philipstorry
301 days ago
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Just tried the update, and it looks and feels great! Nice work. :-)
London, United Kingdom
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UK Councils Used Massive Surveillance Powers To Spy On... Excessively Barking Dogs & Illegal Pigeon Feeding

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Over in the UK, we've highlighted many of the problems of massively expanding surveillance through the (most likely illegal) "DRIPA" (Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill) and the new Snooper's Charter. And yet, the government there keeps insisting that such powers would never be abused. But, that's ridiculous. As we've seen in the past, it's difficult to find examples of surveillance powers not being expanded and abused over time. And, now the UK is realizing exactly how that works. The Guardian, via Freedom of Information requests, has discovered that local British councils were given the ability to use surveillance powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to spy on all sorts of people for what appear to be minor infractions:
A mass freedom of information request has found 186 local authorities – two-thirds of the 283 that responded – used the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to gather evidence via secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives.

Among the detailed examples provided were Midlothian council using the powers to monitor dog barking and Allerdale borough council gathering evidence about who was guilty of feeding pigeons.
Remember, of course, that every time these kinds of surveillance powers are discussed in government, everyone is told that they're necessary to stop the horrible threat of imminent death from terrorism. No one talks about how they'll stop the scourge of illegal pigeon feeding.

While the article rightly quotes politicians horrified by this abuse of surveillance power -- and using it to question why the UK is giving itself more powers under the Snooper's Charter, which will be similarly abused -- there are also some local politicans who defend spying on the public in this manner:
“I’m frankly far more concerned about the rights and civil liberties of the victims and wider council tax-paying public, who are currently having to pick up the tab, than the small minority criminal element who continue to treat the rest of us with open contempt.”
And this is how civil liberties die. By claiming that it's more important to give them up to capture people involved in petty nuisance activities, and claiming that the government needs to spy on everyone to stop such activities.

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philipstorry
328 days ago
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Because blanket surveillance is never abused.
Warrants or no surveillance. That's what we should demand.
London, United Kingdom
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