What I Read This Week: 2021-29
If Richard Feynman applied for a job at Microsoft
Feynman: If we are just considering the round [manhole covers], then they are round by definition. That statement is a tautology.
This Hacker News comment on AWS’s Egregious Egress
If it’s expensive to move data out of AWS, it’s not just about making it hard for customers to leave AWS. It means that any third-party service that wants to sell to AWS customers must also use AWS.
I did not find the article that interesting, seems like just another piece of content marketing, but well-written and particularly the following bit was incredible so I copy those four paragraphs:
Standard practice then would be to vaccinate everyone for miles around. But Foege’s team just didn’t have enough doses. Instead, he used radio and the local network of missionaries to spot new cases. Every evening at seven o’clock, they’d switch on the radio and put the word out. Whenever an outbreak was reported, Foege and his team quickly raced to the scene and administered vaccines.
The hope was to create something like a firebreak, keeping the disease from spreading. And it worked. Using this tactic, Foege’s team eliminated smallpox from eastern Nigeria within six months. It was 1967, and soon civil war engulfed the country. Despite the chaos and enormous bloodshed of that war, smallpox did not return.
The secret was to worry less about the blanket coverage that was never quite good enough and to worry more about quickly finding exactly where each outbreak had appeared. Eradication was all about information. Up until that point, information had been very patchy. The WHO realised it had been finding only 100,000 or so cases each year against a backdrop of 10 million.
Foege’s experience showed that public health workers could beat smallpox if they had the data. The strategy became known as ring vaccination. It’s not the same as contact tracing, but it has a lot in common: in both cases you need to rapidly isolate infected people and find their recent contacts.
Zip - How not to design a file format.
It’s your classic rant about file formats — my favourite still being the one about PSD. A major advantage of Zip is both the ability to create one on-the-fly (streaming) and also the format allowing random access to its files without having to scan the whole archive (such as with tar, but then its name literally derived from “tape archive” so you can’t be mad at it).
In summary, the author makes a point about why PDFs might be a healthier alternative to serving HTML pages. I don’t fully agree that PDFs are the best way forward, having tried reading it on mobile, but it is clear that there is some interest in an alternative to Web that is more lightweight and more private. My bet would be on neither.
At its core, Solarpunk is a vision of a future that embodies the best of what humanity can achieve: a post-scarcity, post-hierarchy, post-capitalistic world where humanity sees itself as part of nature and clean energy replaces fossil fuels.
It’s all about post-scarcity baby; information is not scarce!
I once figured that you don’t need light in your house if your eyes are closed, and I hooked up blink detection to my smart bulbs: