Thursday, December 31, 2020

The UK have listened to the wise Canadians

The Guardian brings the news: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine rollout plan changed following approval

the MHRA and the government’s advisory Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation delivered a surprise by announcing approval of a regime that was not trialled. Both the Oxford vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech jab which is already in use will be given to people as one shot, followed by another up to 12 weeks later, in order to extend some protection to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

Boris Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference that the benefits from the vaccine would kick in within 21 days. “What that means is we can vaccinate and protect many more people in the coming weeks,” he said.

I hope this becomes just one of many such stories. Let's do it everywhere!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The world should listen to the wise Canadians

I find this a compelling argument: New data favour administering COVID-19 vaccines as fast as possible, not reserving doses; I agree with Alex Tabarrok's short post: Wise Canadians:

The second dose, Dr. McGeer and other experts agree, is crucial to ensuring immunity lasts as long as possible. They say everyone should get the second dose on schedule, but if supply issues delay that injection by a week or two, it shouldn’t hamper how well the vaccines work.

I, of course, am not a medical professional, nor am I trained in any of the relevant disciplines.

Just a very interested observer and participant in the worldwide experiment.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Infrared Roses: a very short review

I have this weird album that I pull out of a drawer once every few years.

It’s called Infrared Roses. A guy named Bob Bralove was a sound board guy for the last decade or so of the original Dead, and he was a particular fan of those “in between “ jams, where they haven’t finished one song but are already starting the next one.

So he collected about a dozen of his favorite such segments from the tapes, gave them fanciful names ("Little Nemo in Nightland", "Silver Apples of the Moon", "Magnesium Night Light", etc.), and released it as an album.

As music, it's somewhere in the nether regions between rock, acid jazz, and experimental music.

Anyway it’s fascinating I think, it’s like a show where they took out all the songs and what you get is what was left.

Bryan sez: give it a try some day! Happy holidays 🙂

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Tiamat's Wrath: a very short review.

Tiamat's Wrath is, ahem, Book 8 of The Expanse.

By the time you get to the 8th 500+ page installment of a Science Fiction epic, there isn't much more to say about the matter, I guess. You're not at that point unless you wanted to be at that point, after all; you don't accidentally get to Book 8.

And, since the author(s) have indicated that they will tie it all up in Book 9: Leviathan Falls, you might expect that Book 8 is mostly a book which makes that tieing-up possible.

Which is pretty accurate.

But still: it was surprisingly good! There were the regular action and thrills and chills that we have come to expect from The Expanse, but also much more to chew on, with deepening involvement of several of the newest characters, lots of time with our favorite existing characters, and strange new mysteries to ponder.

Put differently, it turned out to be the perfect book to keep me distracted from Nov 1 to Dec 14, a time when I was desirous of a fair amount of distraction.

But anyway: hurry up Leviathan Falls! This is the first time in 4 years that I've been fully caught up with The Expanse and it's left me with rather a gnawing, unsatisfied feeling.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Holiday Random Reading

A little of this, a little of that.

Mostly, a lot of the other thing.

  • A Book about Aircraft Scale Drawings
    I altered here the proposed workflow, using Inkscape as my basic tool.
  • Inkscape: Draw Freely
    Inkscape is a Free and open source vector graphics editor for GNU/Linux, Windows and MacOS X. It offers a rich set of features and is widely used for both artistic and technical illustrations such as cartoons, clip art, logos, typography, diagramming and flowcharting.
  • No Cookie For You
    At GitHub, we want to protect developer privacy, and we find cookie banners quite irritating, so we decided to look for a solution. After a brief search, we found one: just don’t use any non-essential cookies. Pretty simple, really. 🤔

    So, we have removed all non-essential cookies from GitHub, and visiting our website does not send any information to third-party analytics services. (And of course GitHub still does not use any cookies to display ads, or track you across other sites.)

  • Web Conversations With the Year 2000
    ’00: How do you change the <title>?

    ’20: You can’t.
  • AlphaFold: a solution to a 50-year-old grand challenge in biology
    In his acceptance speech for the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Christian Anfinsen famously postulated that, in theory, a protein’s amino acid sequence should fully determine its structure. This hypothesis sparked a five decade quest to be able to computationally predict a protein’s 3D structure based solely on its 1D amino acid sequence as a complementary alternative to these expensive and time consuming experimental methods. A major challenge, however, is that the number of ways a protein could theoretically fold before settling into its final 3D structure is astronomical. In 1969 Cyrus Levinthal noted that it would take longer than the age of the known universe to enumerate all possible configurations of a typical protein by brute force calculation – Levinthal estimated 10^300 possible conformations for a typical protein.
  • ML Lake: Building Salesforce’s Data Platform for Machine Learning
    ML Lake is deployed in multiple AWS regions as a shared service for use by internal Salesforce teams and applications running in a variety of stacks in both public cloud providers and Salesforce’s own data centers. It exposes a set of OpenAPI-based interfaces running in a Spring Boot-based Java microservice. It uses Postgres to store application state and metadata. Data for machine learning is stored in S3 in buckets managed and secured by ML Lake.
  • Salesforce, Slack, and the future of work
    With Slack, Salesforce is blowing past those traditional departmental boundaries and entering the communication and collaboration space in the biggest way possible, enabling them to go enterprise-wide and have a new front-end for the future of work. This isn't just about the future of "collaboration." This is a new "operating system" for how knowledge workers will interact in the future, connecting the front office, back office, and customers all together in a single platform.

    For Slack, they now have the backing of one of the world's largest software companies, which means they get a major distribution advantage bringing their platform to vastly more customers globally. This is almost invariably a great thing for them. Salesforce knows how to disrupt markets and in Slack, they know they're getting a great product, which is why unlike more legacy acquirers they'll surely let the Slack team continue to do what they do best -- keep moving fast, pioneer, and innovate.
  • Salesforce Buys Slack
    It has become a better social network for me than anything else: a comfortable place for asking dumb questions that turn into brilliant discussions, a space among friends for cracking wise or venting frustration. I know that it is a serious business tool for serious business people, but I am sure that its simplicity is a key reason for its success, and the reason it has inspired so many clones.
  • How Microsoft crushed Slack
    That’s not to say that the incumbents won’t always face new challengers. But I wonder whether the low ceiling that Slack turned out to have has implications for some of the other fast-growing productivity companies of the current moment. Should Slack’s sale diminish our expectations for Airtable or Notion or Coda? Don’t get me wrong — I’m confident their investors will all get their money back, and then some — but do they have a real future outside the arms of a monolith?

    If not, then the productivity market will become as consolidated as any number of other spaces on the internet, from app stores to search engines to social networks. And as our government antitrust regulators begin to awaken after a long period of hibernation, I wonder if they’ll have anything to say about it.
  • The Strange Story Behind the Best Game of 2020
    In Kentucky Route Zero, there are no weapons, no skill trees, no items to collect, and no customizable characters, and there is no open world. The only mechanic is to point and click. Following the cursor, characters—who are animated so deceptively simply that they almost look 2D—can move from place to place, either on a set stage or via a black-and-white map, and sometimes engage in conversation. It never gets more complicated than that, but the elements—the art, the writing, the music—all coalesce into an eerie, unforgettable experience.
  • Winners of the 2020 IFComp
    The Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (IFComp) welcomes all kinds of text-driven digital stories and games, making them freely available in order to encourage the creation, play, and discussion of interactive fiction.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Understanding Enterprise Software Press Releases is hard ...

... luckily, there's Paul Ford to help: Let’s Skim! The Slack/Salesforce Press Release

The raw hot synergy coming off this paragraph could merge lead into gold.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Great article on the Versabar VB 10000

Doesn't Versabar VB 10000 sound like something out of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie?

It isn't, though, it's a real machine, and check out this wonderful article on Jalopnik about its recent activity off the coast of Georgia: A Chain Just Cut Through A Capsized Cargo Ship Filled With Cars And The Process Is Fascinating

They're right: it IS fascinating!

You'll want to read the entire article, but to stimulate your appetite, look at this amazing picture of a "slice" of the salvaged MV Golden Ray on the recovery barge, with all those cars still packed inside:

Reading through the entire St. Simons Sound Incident Response website is just the way to make the hours pass. Amazing!

Don't cheat, just take your time

Have a look at this lovely map and see how long it takes you to find the Missing Seven: Contiguous 41 States.

I didn't time myself, but it was about 70 seconds for me. What was the last of the 7 that you found?

Thursday, December 3, 2020

DBMS Transaction Logging Research

Nearly every DBMS implementation has a transaction log, where transactions write information about the changes that they are making to the database.

Transaction logs are about as foundational a technology as exists in Database Systems, and Database Systems are about as old a technology as exists in Computer Science (there are seminal notes on transaction logs dating back, I believe, to the 1950s, and papers which are still studied today which were published in the mid-1970's), so it's a little bit surprising, I think, to see that significant research is still occurring in the field of transaction logging.

Here are a few very interesting examples to back up my claim: 2 books (!) and a handful of fairly recent papers.

It's good to see that people are still working away at trying to figure out how to improve these age-old techniques, squeezing just a little bit more out of their computers, making their databases work just that much faster.

Onwards and upwards!