Sunday Paper - Facial Recognition, Python, Happiness, Apple Software Quality, iCloud

The New York times and leaders within the democratic party agree that facial recognition technology is dangerous to civil liberties and must be banned.

The essential and unavoidable risks of deploying these tools are becoming apparent. A majority of Americans have functionally been put in a perpetual police lineup simply for getting a driver’s license: Their D.M.V. images are turned into faceprints for government tracking with few limits. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases without citizens’ knowing. Detroit aspires to use facial recognition for round-the-clock monitoring. Americans are losing due-process protections, and even law-abiding citizens cannot confidently engage in free association, free movement and free speech without fear of being tracked.Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog

Cybersecurity professionals are not impressed with Google's facial recognition technology which doesn't know when you're sleeping.

"If someone can unlock your phone while you're asleep, it's a big security problem," said cyber-security expert Graham Cluley.
"Someone unauthorised - a child or partner? - could unlock the phone without your permission by putting it in front of your face while you're asleep," he told BBC News.
"I wouldn't trust it to secure the private conversations and data on my phone."Chris Fox

Well, damn it! Now I actually have to learn the langue instead of hanging my hat on Perl as I have for the last twenty-five years.

A study conducted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) put Python at the top of the list of favorite languages among such contenders as Java, JavaScript, C++, and Go.
To gauge the popularity of different languages, the IEEE's study ranked 11 data points from eight different sources: CareerBuilder, Google, GitHub, Hacker News, the IEEE, Reddit, Stack Overflow, and Twitter. Depending on the source, the IEEE looked at such factors as searches, new repositories, posts mentioning each language, and job postings made within the last 30 days. Using this method, Python was the only language that scored a 100% ranking.Lance Whitney

Apparently, people don't want to be happy and pursuing happiness can actually make us less satisfied with life. At least according to Nobel Prize-Winning Psychologist, Daniel Kahneman.

Kahneman draws a distinction between happiness, the momentary joy we feel when we do something pleasant like eat chocolate or hang out with friends, and life satisfaction, the feeling of contentment we experience when we look back at our lives with a sense we've accomplished something consequential.
There is such a thing as too great a focus on happiness, which can crowd out a longer-term focus on life satisfaction. That approach is also probably not going to get you where you want to be.Jessica Stillman

Redefine what blogging is by looking back at what blogging was.

So, what is blogging?

I always return to Dave Winer's "unedited voice of a person" with the caveat that it should be free from self-editing as well as external. There are always going to some things we won't, or shouldn't, put online but second guessing ourselves in order to fit an agenda or image is as much to blame for losing that spontaneity.

There is a place for focused long form but the honesty of the personal blog should not be sacrificed at its altar.Colin Walker

After the macOS Catalina update, I've noticed that my iMac slows to a crawl and freezes to the point of useless and sometimes spontaneously reboots. Not a shutdown-restart type of reboot, the sudden black screen and startup sort of reboot. The Activity Monitor and Console apps have not been helpful in troubleshooting what might be the issue. David Shayer on TidBits offers some possibilities as to what may be the cause.

iOS 13 and macOS 10.15 Catalina have been unusually buggy releases for Apple. The betas started out buggy at WWDC in June, which is not unexpected, but even after Apple removed some features from the final releases in September, more problems have forced the company to publish quick updates. Why? Based on my 18 years of experience working as an Apple software engineer, I have a few ideas.David Shayer

I am not sure what Daniel means by put your files on your iPad but assuming he is using the Files app, accessing files is as simple as accessing his iCloud account in many ways including iCloud in Finder on macOS. If he means he wants direct access to the iOS file system - never gonna happen. The apps are sandboxed and the file system is encrypted by hardware.

Once you put your files on your iPad running iPadOS 13, you will find it really hard to move them off again. Unlike Android that acts like an external hard drive when connected to a computer, iPadOS doesn’t show the files from On My iPad in Files app when you connect with a sync cable to your macOS. And transferring those files with iCloud and Dropbox is really slow, days slow. And in my case, I have an older version of macOS with AirDrop that won’t talk to the newer iPad. So my last resort after being very frustated with all my wireless options was to remember that macOS provides File Sharing and I was able to add a Server on the Files app using an SMB path to my computer. Voila! All the files are transferring over to the computer very quickly. My persistence paid off.Daniel Brinneman

Sunday Paper - Facial Recognition and Civil Liberties, Dream Colleges and the Democratic Communist Party, Geeks and Nerds, 5G, Mental Fatigue

Facial Recognition Tech Straight Out of 'Robocop' Could Be a Real Threat to Civil Liberties

Civil-liberties concerns have driven California lawmakers to consider Assembly Bill 1215, which would ban police agencies from using facial and biometric tracking devices as part of their body cameras.

"Having every patrol officer constantly scanning faces of everyone that walks into their field of view to identify people, run their records, and record their location and activities is positively Orwellian," said ACLU attorney Peter Bibring.

This technology is creepy, especially when one considers the next step that's under active development: Tying facial-recognition software into security cameras that are practically everywhere. The bill's author, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D–San Francisco), points to an incident in China where the authorities used recognition software to grab someone from a crowd of 20,000 people during a concert.

Opponents of the ban naively insist that there's no difference between using such software and looking at a mugshot—and that police are still required to follow the Constitution's Fourth Amendment restraints on unreasonable searches. That's nonsensical. Police admit that they want to use these cameras as part of wholesale dragnets, by scanning everyone at public events and not only those that they suspect of having committed a crime.

In its official opposition to the bill, the Riverside Sheriffs' Association argues that, "Huge events…and scores of popular tourist attractions should have access to the best available security—including the use of body cameras and facial-recognition technology." There you have it. The goal of police is to scan our faces at every event.


According to the Assembly analysis, the ACLU used such software to compare photos of all federal legislators and "incorrectly matched 28 members of Congress with people who had been arrested. The test disproportionately misidentified African-American and Latino members of Congress as the people in mug shots." The company that produced the software disputed the ACLU's approach, but this is disturbing, especially in terms of racial bias.

Some of the presidential hopefuls in the Democratic Party sound like front runners for the Communist Party. At what point will they start advocating to bring back slavery and indentured servitude?

The world doesn't owe you a dream college or a dream house or a dream job. You have no right to someone else's labor and time. If you want to attend free college, ask professors to offer you their lectures gratis or ask school administrators who run massive endowments to open their doors to everyone.Bernie Sanders' #CancelStudentDebt Is a Dangerous Scam

Are you a geek or a nerd? Both? It's ok to be both but know which one you are at any given moment.

I had an LOL moment last night watching Jimmy Fallon [a late-night talk show, for y'all in different countries]. Ex-gangsta-rapper and "Law and Order" detective Ice-T was on TV (it was broadcast here, anyway—I don't watch often enough to know whether it was a rerun or not) with his extravagant wife Coco, and he pointed out that there's a big difference between a nerd and a geek. Given any little area of enthusiasm, a nerd is a guy who knows all about it—and likes to talk about it and argue about it—and a geek is a guy who likes to do it. Whatever "it" is.

So I'm a darkroom geek but a Miata nerd. (Makin' me laugh again*.)
I remember back when I occasionally participated in the often contentious forums of a certain high profile British digital camera review site. I got into it once with a guy who was evangelical about a certain brand of high-end professional DSLR and outspokenly critical of the competing brand's flagship model. (I forget whether he loved C and hated N, or loved N and hated C...not that it really matters.) When I dug into it, it turned out that the fellow was a teenager who didn't own a nice DSLR at all.

A goal for him to aspire to: geekhood!Geeks vs. Nerds by Mike at The Online Photographer

5G networks may be faster but less ubiquitous and more costly to build out.

Thousands of engineers and planners like Mr. Hubbard, along with diggers of trenches and installers of antennas, must coordinate to link more fiber-optic cable, in more places in the U.S. than ever before. All so we can do more stuff on mobile devices.

This is the paradox of 5G, the collection of technologies behind next-generation wireless networks: They require a gargantuan quantity of wires. This is because 5G requires many more small towers, all of which must be wired to the internet. The consequences of this unavoidable reality are myriad. The 5G build-out, which could take more than a decade, could disrupt our commutes, festoon nearly every city block with antennas, limit what cities can charge for renting spots on their infrastructure to carriers on which to place their antennas, and result in an unequal distribution of access to high-speed wireless, at least at first.

The driving force behind this enormous build-out is that 5G networks don’t work like previous wireless cellular networks. Where 2G, 3G and even 4G rely on large towers with powerful antennas that can cover many square miles, the shorter-range, higher-frequency radio waves used by 5G networks—essential to their ability to deliver the 10- to 100-times faster speeds they promise—mean that 5G networks must have small cells placed much closer together.The Downside of 5G: Overwhelmed Cities, Torn-Up Streets, a Decade Until Completion by Christopher Mims in the Wall Street Journal

What exactly does it mean to be mentally tired? What’s actually happening in your brain? Proposing an answer to these riddles is the challenge that a new paper in Sports Medicine, from a team at the University of Canberra led by Kristy Martin, takes on.

The basic hypothesis that Martin and her colleagues present (drawing on a suggestion from 2014) is that mental fatigue results from the accumulation of a brain chemical called adenosine. In this picture, sustained cognitive activity burns up glucose, particularly in certain regions of the brain associated with “effortful mental processes,” such as the anterior cingulate cortex. This temporary and localized fuel shortage triggers a rise in adenosine levels, which in turn blocks the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine. The result is a rise in perception of effort and a decrease in motivation—in other words, a feeling of mental fatigue.Here’s What We Know About Mental Fatigue by Alex Hutchinson

Microsoft wipes facial recognition database

Microsoft discreetly wiped its massive facial recognition database

Microsoft has been vocal about its desire to properly regulate facial recognition technology. The company's president, Brad Smith, appealed directly to Congress last year to take steps to manage the tech, which he says has "broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse." Such are the company's concerns that it even blocked the sales of the tech to California police forces. Now, Microsoft is continuing its crusade by quietly deleting its MS Celeb database, which contains more than 10 million images of some 100,000 people.

I am not surprised.