Hrmbee OP t1_jaezir8 wrote

>ShrimpApplePro reports that accessories like AirPods and cables are already being manufactured overseas based on the standard. Any cables that aren’t MFi-certified will be “limited in data and charging speed.” > >What does MFi stand for? Well, it’s “Made for iPod,” which isn’t a device that exists anymore (RIP to the mp3 players of yore), but the certification program was implemented back in 2005. Apple expanded it when the iPhone and iPad were introduced and rebranded it as MFi in 2012 after the iPhone 5 adopted the Lightning standard—remember going from 30-PIN connectors to Lightning connectors? What a journey it’s been. In addition to helping standardize cables, MFi certifies all sorts of gadgets and accessories to label what’s safe for Apple users, including headphones, speakers, and even smart home devices. The only caveat to this program is that accessory makers have to pay a licensing fee of about $100/year. It only applies to manufacturers of electronic accessories, however, particularly those that don’t utilize an Apple standard like MagSafe. > >While it’s easy to see this as another way that Apple is sealing in its walled garden, Android manufacturers practice the same exclusivity with charging cables. OnePlus, under the Oppo brand, uses the red cable motif for its charging standard. The brand has long offered a faster charging specification than the rest of the Android brood within its ecosystem. And now that it’s adopted SuperVOOQ, buying the right cable and adapter is essential to reach full 80W charging speeds. Its latest release, the OnePlus 11, can charge fully in about 30 minutes with the cable and adapter included in the box.

One of my ongoing frustrations with cables and connectors in computing more broadly are the proliferation of standards using the same plugs. Without clear markings, it's sometimes impossible to know which cables are capable of what until you plug them in - and even then it's not always clear either. Manufacturers should be doing better to ensure a better user experience for all users here.


Hrmbee OP t1_ja0j8ou wrote

>The Vancouver-based technology company says the tool, which allows users to browse, manage and schedule social media posts, will come with a fee beginning March 31. > >After that date, anyone who used the Hootsuite Free plan will have to stop using the service or switch to one of four new, paid plans starting at $99 per month for its Professional tier. > >... > >The move away from the free tier comes after Hootsuite cut seven per cent of its staff — about 70 people — in January, making it the company’s third layoff in the last year.

Haven't used this service in years, but it seemed to be useful especially for those who have to manage multiple social media channels. For our company with a single social media channel, it was convenient but hardly necessary.


Hrmbee OP t1_j8ybagg wrote

>We worked on ways to improve our toxic-speech-identification algorithms so they would not discriminate against African-American Vernacular English as well as forms of reclaimed speech. All of this depended on rank-and-file employees. Messy as it was, Twitter sometimes seemed to function mostly on goodwill and the dedication of its staff. But it functioned. > >Those days are over. From the announcement of Musk’s bid to the day he walked into the office holding a sink, I watched, horrified, as he slowly killed Twitter’s culture. Debate and constructive dissent was stifled on Slack, leaders accepted their fate or quietly resigned, and Twitter slowly shifted from being a company that cared about the people on the platform to a company that only cares about people as monetizable units. The few days I spent at Musk’s Twitter could best be described as a Lord of the Flies–like test of character as existing leadership crumbled, Musk’s cronies moved in, and his haphazard management—if it could be called that—instilled a sense of fear and confusion. > >Unfortunately, Musk cannot simply be ignored. He has purchased a globally influential and politically powerful seat. We certainly don’t need to speculate on his thoughts about algorithmic ethics. He reportedly fired a top engineer earlier this month for suggesting that his engagement was waning because people were losing interest in him, rather than because of some kind of algorithmic interference. (Musk initially responded to the reporting about how his tweets are prioritized by posting an off-color meme, and today called the coverage “false.”) And his track record is far from inclusive: He has embraced far-right talking points, complained about the “woke mind virus,” and explicitly thrown in his lot with Donald Trump and Ye (formerly Kanye West). > >Devaluing work on algorithmic biases could have disastrous consequences, especially because of how perniciously invisible yet pervasive these biases can become. As the arbiters of the so-called digital town square, algorithmic systems play a significant role in democratic discourse. In 2021, my team published a study showing that Twitter’s content-recommendation system amplified right-leaning posts in Canada, France, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Our analysis data covered the period right before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, identifying a moment in which social media was a crucial touch point of political information for millions. Currently, right-wing hate speech is able to flow on Twitter in places such as India and Brazil, where radicalized Jair Bolsonaro supporters staged a January 6–style coup attempt. > >Musk’s Twitter is simply a further manifestation of how self-regulation by tech companies will never work, and it highlights the need for genuine oversight. We must equip a broad range of people with the tools to pressure companies into acknowledging and addressing uncomfortable truths about the AI they’re building. Things have to change.

This was an interesting perspective from someone who experienced this shift firsthand. It's certainly worth taking heed of the warning of algorithmic biases that are already baked into many systems. Further, self regulation though laudable, has proven at least in most tech sectors, to be ineffective at best. What we need are regulators who are familiar with key issues that are facing technology as it relates to broader society, but not beholden to tech companies or platforms. This will be tricky going forwards, but if properly administered can bring lasting benefits not just to the platforms, but also to the rest of society as well.


Hrmbee OP t1_j8ojqup wrote

Yeah, if they're in the same trench/conduit then that certainly presents additional challenges. For sites that are subject to frequent construction and/or maintenance activities such as airports, it would be prudent to have at least one backup that is using a different physical route. In some facilities that I'm familiar with, they've gone with wireless systems (microwave, satellite, etc) as a backup in case the physical link goes down.


Hrmbee OP t1_j8nvdqh wrote

>Lufthansa confirmed the cause of the outage in an email to Gizmodo, saying “During construction work in Frankfurt, fiber optic cables belonging to a telecommunications service provider were damaged.” The company said on its website that all Frankfurt flights were suspended while some flights in and out of Munich were also canceled and recommended that passengers should not travel to the airport. > >Deutsche Telekom spokesman Peter Kespohl told Bloomberg that Telekom had repaired two cables thus far and is working to repair the others but did not specify how long the process would take. > >Lufthansa said in its email that it “expects the situation to ease further over the next few hours” and expects its flight operations to largely resume and be back on schedule on Thursday. The company added that passengers who booked “domestic flights can switch to Deutsche Bahn until Sunday.”

It's amazing that in 2023 a major airline at a major international airport doesn't have redundant service to keep things running in case of an outage. Given the IT challenges observed of late by several airlines though, perhaps this is more of an industry wide issue, and one that requires a shift in attitude by the industry as a whole.


Hrmbee OP t1_j856i35 wrote

>The Supernova release will include an overhaul of Thunderbird's user interface. Castellani didn't share screenshots, but he indicated that the new UI would be "simple and clean" and targeted mostly at new users. For "veteran users," the interface will also be "flexible and adaptable" so that people who prefer the way Thunderbird looks now can "maintain that familiarity they love." > >Supernova will also include several other big changes, including a redesigned calendar and support for Firefox Sync. > >Beyond news about the redesign, the blog post is worth a read if you're curious about what the team is doing to battle the software's technical debt or if you want to know why it seems like the app's development moves so slowly (the developers spend a lot of their time simply keeping up with upstream changes from Firefox since the browser still serves as the foundation for Thunderbird's email rendering). The post is also helpful if you need a refresher on the long and complicated relationship between Thunderbird and Mozilla. > >Thunderbird used to be maintained by Mozilla alongside the Firefox browser, but in the modern era, it hasn't always been clear who's responsible for it. Mozilla executives had wanted to spin Thunderbird off as early as 2007, and it moved to a more community-driven development model in 2012.

It's good to see that an old stalwart client is getting a much-needed overhaul. Fingers crossed that this goes well, and that they have enough resources to properly execute on their vision.


Hrmbee OP t1_j730v4s wrote

For those interested in the original paper, it's available here:

Multilayered optofluidics for sustainable buildings


>Buildings consume 32.4 PWh (32%) of our global energy supply, a footprint that is expected to double by mid-century. Designing facades like the skins of biological organisms, with dynamic multilayered optical reconfigurability, would enable homeostasis-like environmental responsiveness and significantly improved energy efficiency. Here, we develop an adaptive building interface, leveraging confined multilayered fluids to achieve a versatile library of shading, scattering, and selectively absorbing solar responses. Configurable optimization of this “building-scale microfluidic” platform can reduce energy consumption in our models by 43%, representing a design paradigm toward net-zero buildings.
>Indoor climate control is among the most energy-intensive activities conducted by humans. A building facade that can achieve versatile climate control directly, through independent and multifunctional optical reconfigurations, could significantly reduce this energy footprint, and its development represents a pertinent unmet challenge toward global sustainability. Drawing from optically adaptive multilayer skins within biological organisms, we report a multilayered millifluidic interface for achieving a comprehensive suite of independent optical responses in buildings. We digitally control the flow of aqueous solutions within confined milliscale channels, demonstrating independent command over total transmitted light intensity (95% modulation between 250 and 2,500 nm), near-infrared-selective absorption (70% modulation between 740 and 2,500 nm), and dispersion (scattering). This combinatorial optical tunability enables configurable optimization of the amount, wavelength, and position of transmitted solar radiation within buildings over time, resulting in annual modeled energy reductions of more than 43% over existing technologies. Our scalable “optofluidic” platform, leveraging a versatile range of aqueous chemistries, may represent a general solution for the climate control of buildings.


Hrmbee OP t1_j730akc wrote

>Squid and several other cephalopods can rapidly shift the colors in their skin, thanks to that skin's unique structure. Engineers at the University of Toronto have drawn inspiration from the squid to create a prototype for "liquid windows" that can shift the wavelength, intensity, and distribution of light transmitted through those windows, thereby saving substantially on energy costs. They described their work in a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. > >“Buildings use a ton of energy to heat, cool, and illuminate the spaces inside them,” said co-author Raphael Kay. “If we can strategically control the amount, type, and direction of solar energy that enters our buildings, we can massively reduce the amount of work that we ask heaters, coolers, and lights to do.” Kay likes to think of buildings as living organisms that also have "skin," i.e., an outer layer of exterior facades and windows. But these features are largely static, limiting how much the building "system" can be optimized in changing ambient conditions. > >... > >Kay and his colleagues thought the structure of squid skin might hold the key to creating dynamic, tunable building facades. “Sunlight contains visible light, which impacts the illumination in the building, but it also contains other invisible wavelengths, such as infrared light, which we can think of essentially as heat,” said Kay. “In the middle of the day in winter, you’d probably want to let in both, but in the middle of the day in summer, you’d want to let in just the visible light and not the heat. Current systems typically can’t do this: they either block both or neither. They also have no ability to direct or scatter the light in beneficial ways.” > >So Kay et al. constructed a prototype microfluidics system featuring flat sheets of plastic containing an array of thin channels for pumping fluids. Adding customized pigments or particles to the fluid changes what wavelength of light gets through, as well as the direction in which that light is distributed. Those sheets can be combined into layered stacks, with each stack performing a different kind of optical function, such as filtering the wavelength, tuning how the transmitted light scatters indoors, and controlling the intensity—all managed with small digitally controlled pumps. > >According to Kay, this simple and low-cost approach could enable the design of "liquid-state, dynamic building facades" with tunable optical properties to save energy on heating, cooling, and lighting. While their prototype is a proof of concept, the team ran computer simulations of the system's likely performance as a dynamic building facade, responding to changing ambient conditions. Their models showed a single layer controlling the transmission of near-infrared light would result in a 25 percent savings. Adding a second layer controlling the transmission of visible light could achieve closer to 50 percent in energy cost savings.

This looks to be some interesting research with particular applications to building science and energy performance of buildings. Hopefully further testing and development can provide us with usable systems to help architects and engineers design and build more energy efficient and comfortable buildings in the near future.


Hrmbee OP t1_j6g7orr wrote

>The repeated emphasis on “I,” instead of “we,” embodies a defining characteristic of current startup culture, one that has plagued the tech sector. These companies, the world has been told, aren’t simply run by chief executives or entrepreneurs – they are managed by founders. And founders are very special people who should not be questioned.
>Last year, Michele Romanow, Clearco’s co-founder, filmed promotional videos dubbed “Founder Diaries.” In one she declares that it is her life’s work to protect her breed. “If I can do anything in this world,” she says, “it is to help and defend founders, because they ultimately build the world we want to believe in.”
>Entrepreneurs, of course, deserve some praise. It is scary to venture out on your own, especially when the statistics show the vast majority of startups fail. Economic growth is also becoming more dependent on fresh ideas. In Canada, the oil and gas sector has been a major engine of gross domestic product for decades, but the world is moving away from fossil fuels.
>Yet the fawning over founders has become obscene. Even though cult-like admiration has deep roots in the tech sector, worship was once reserved for true visionaries such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Somehow it was co-opted by oodles of entrepreneurs over the past five years – and turned truly perverse during the pandemic. Even Sequoia Capital, one of Silicon Valley’s leading venture capital firms, was seduced by FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
>The excessive praise is particularly glaring now that so many companies are coming to grips with reality in a world of normal interest rates. Ms. Romanow stepped down as CEO of Clearco earlier this month after the company announced its second round of deep job cuts in six months. The new CEO, a U.S. finance-industry veteran, will try to turn Clearco around.
>Every business cycle has its alleged geniuses. The 1980s were dominated by junk bond specialists, the nineties by investment bankers, the aughts by hedge fund mangers. Eventually, they lose some, or all, of their glory. Many of the megamergers concocted by investment bankers blew up, and many hedge fund managers struggled to outperform the broader market for more than a few years. Founders, who personified the past decade, are facing their own comeuppance now.
>With some luck, a prolonged rout will humble them. And in the aftermath, a much healthier ecosystem may emerge, because entrepreneurs will refocus on building quality companies.
>Because startups, and particularly software startups, became so sexy, it was hard to tell what was truly motivating founders any more – the experience or the money.
>Does it mean we’ve been building some bad businesses? “I would argue there’s some real truth to that,” Mr. Bartha said. After selling eCompliance in 2019, he launched GoodCapital, which backs founders who try to solve what he describes as “real world problems.”
>This theme – using the entrepreneurial spirit to make life better – is having a bit of a renaissance. It’s still early days, but even Mr. Suster is hopeful. For years he has ranted about how the goal of attaining unicorn status – a billion-dollar valuation on paper – destroyed so much of the good that startups can do. “Instead of growing revenue and holding down costs and building great company cultures, the market chased valuation validation,” he reiterated in a post last month.
>Lately, though, he believes we’re getting back to building “real businesses.”

It will be interesting to see what directions business, and in particular startup culture will take going forwards.


Hrmbee OP t1_j50iv8b wrote

>The oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is a staple of many kinds of cuisine, prized for its mild flavors and a scent vaguely hinting at anise. These cream-colored mushrooms are also one of several types of carnivorous fungi that prey on nematodes (roundworms) in particular. The mushrooms have evolved a novel mechanism for paralyzing and killing its nematode prey: a toxin contained within lollipop-like structures called toxocysts that, when emitted, cause widespread cell death in roundworms within minutes. Scientists have now identified the specific volatile organic compound responsible for this effect, according to a new paper published in the journal Science Advances. > >Carnivorous fungi like the oyster mushroom feed on nematodes because these little creatures are plentiful in soil and provide a handy protein source. Different species have evolved various mechanisms for hunting and consuming their prey. For instance, oomycetes are fungus-like organisms that send out "hunter cells" to search for nematodes. Once they find them, they form cysts near the mouth or anus of the roundworms and then inject themselves into the worms to attack the internal organs. Another group of oomycetes uses cells that behave like prey-seeking harpoons, injecting the fungal spores into the worm to seal its fate. > >Other fungi produce spores with irritating shapes like stickles or stilettos. The nematodes swallow the spores, which get caught in the esophagus and germinate by puncturing the worm's gut. There are sticky branch-like structures that act like superglue; death collars that detach when nematodes swim through them, injecting themselves into the worms; and a dozen or so fungal species employ snares that constrict in under a second, squeezing the nematodes to death. > >The oyster mushroom eschews these physical traps in favor of a chemical mechanism. P. ostreatus is what's known as a "wood rotter" that targets dead trees, but wood is relatively poor in protein. Its long branching filaments (called hyphae) are the part of the 'shroom that grows into the rotting wood. Those hyphae are home to the toxocysts. When nematodes encounter the toxocysts, the cysts burst, and the nematodes typically become paralyzed and die within minutes. Once the prey is dead, the hyphae grow into the nematode bodies, dissolving the contents and absorbing the slurry for the nutrients. > >... > >But Lee et al. could not identify the specific toxins responsible for the effect, though they did note that the oyster mushroom's chemical mechanism was distinct from the nematicides currently used to control nematode populations. For the new study, Lee and co-authors used gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to do just that. The first version of the experiment tested a vial sample containing just the culture medium and glass beads. A second version tested a vial sample containing P. ostreatus that had been cultured for two to three weeks. The third version was a combination of the first two, testing a vial sample that contained both cultured P. ostreatus and glass beads. > >The culprit: a volatile ketone called 3-octanone, one of several naturally occurring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that fungi use for communication. It seems 3-octanone also serves as a potent nematode-killing mechanism. Exposing four species of nematode to 3-octanone triggered the telltale massive (and fatal) influx of calcium ions into nerve and muscle cells. The dosage is critical, per the authors. Low dosages are a repellant to slugs and snails, but high dosages are fatal. The same is true for nematodes. A high concentration of more than 50 percent of 3-octanone is required to trigger the rapid paralysis and widespread cell death. The team also induced thousands of random genetic mutations in the fungus. Those mutants that didn't develop toxocysts on their hyphae were no longer toxic to the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Some super interesting mycological research here on carnivorous fungi and a chemical mechanism that is used in lieu of physical ones.