Saturday, September 02, 2017
Friday, September 01, 2017
...Even after three weeks with these computers, I find choosing between the two of them to be difficult. If you must have the technically better and more capable computer, the $1,299 MacBook Pro is the way to go. You’ll appreciate the extra screen size and its added vibrance, the better speakers, and the extra power. You’re on your own with the whole 128GB of storage thing, though.
But if you’re planning to regularly move around with your laptop, I don’t think any of the MacBook’s shortcomings should hold you back from picking it up instead. Having twice as much storage will make using it a bit easier, since you’ll spend less time managing files; the computer’s processing power has caught up in a big way; and its battery life is significantly better.
For someone really serious about editing or graphics work, I’m not sure that either of these computers will be right for you. You’ll probably want to spend more on a MacBook Pro, or else look to Windows where there are often better deals. In fact, if you’re not tied to the Mac, Microsoft’s very good Surface Laptop offers similar specs to the MacBook Pro, but with twice the storage, for $1,299. And for $100 more, Razer offers a laptop with a faster processor, four times as much storage as the Pro, and twice as much RAM. (Though, in all cases, you’ll still have to spend more to get better graphics.)
For me? I’m leaning toward the Pro, but I’m not sure the entry-level model is the one I’ll get. And I have a strong suspicion that’ll be the case for a lot of people: if you want a $1,299 Mac laptop, pick up the MacBook. But if you’re looking at the Pro, you may find yourself wanting a bit more — and ultimately, spending a bit more to spec it out.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
"Last Tuesday, the New York Times published a foggy story noting that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell "has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond."
The time for musing has passed. It’s now time to begin a serious conversation about the impeachment and removal of President Trump by opening a formal impeachment inquiry.
The evidence of criminality on Trump’s part is little clearer today than it was a day, a week, or a month ago. But no conscientious member of the House of Representatives can at this stage fail to share McConnell’s doubts about Trump’s fundamental fitness for office. As the Trump presidency enters its eighth month, those members of Congress who are serious about their oaths to "support and defend the Constitution" must confront a question. It’s not, in the first instance, whether the President should be removed from office, or even whether he should be impeached. It is merely this: whether given everything Trump has done, said, tweeted and indeed been since his inauguration, the House has a duty, as a body, to think about its obligations under the impeachment clauses of the Constitution—that is, whether the House needs to authorize the Judiciary Committee to open a formal inquiry into possible impeachment.
It’s not a hard question. Indeed, merely to ask it plainly is also to answer it.
“YouTube has always been useful; since its founding in 2005, it has been a pillar of the internet. But over the past year or so, for me anyway, YouTube had started to seem weirdly good. The site had begun to predict with eerie accuracy what clips I might be interested in — much better than it ever had before. So what changed?
BUT OVER THE PAST YEAR OR SO, FOR ME ANYWAY, YOUTUBE HAD STARTED TO SEEM WEIRDLY GOODOver the course of 12 years, YouTube has transformed itself from a site driven by search to a destination in its own right. Getting there required hundreds of experiments, a handful of redesigns, and some great leaps forward in the field of artificial intelligence. But what really elevated YouTube was its evolution into a feed.
It can be hard to remember now, but at the beginning YouTube was little more than infrastructure: It offered an easy way to embed video onto other websites, which is where you were most likely to encounter it. As the site grew, YouTube became a place to find archival TV clips, catch up on late-night comedy, and watch the latest viral hits. Along with Wikipedia, YouTube is probably the web’s most notorious rabbit hole. Your coworkers mentioned the Harlem Shake at the water cooler, and so you went to YouTube and watched Harlem Shake videos for the rest of the evening.
Meanwhile, Facebook had invented the defining format of our time: the News Feed, an infinite stream of updates personalized to you based on your interests. The feed took over the consumer internet, from Tumblr to Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn. YouTube’s early approach to personalization was much more limited: it involved asking users to subscribe to channels. The metaphor was borrowed from television, and had mixed results. A huge subscription push in 2011 had some success, but the average time a person spent watching YouTube stayed flat, according to data from ComScore.
CHANNELS NO LONGER DOMINATE YOUTUBE AS THEY ONCE DIDChannels no longer dominate YouTube as they once did. Open YouTube on your phone today and you’ll find them hidden away in a separate tab. Instead, the app opens instead to a feed featuring a mix of videos tailored to your interests. There are videos from channels you subscribe to, yes, but there are also videos related to ones that you’ve watched before from channels you may not have seen.
This is why, after searching for straightforward Dishonored videos, I started seeing the recommendations for stealth runs through the game and satirical reviews. YouTube developed tools to make its recommendations not only personalized but deadly accurate, and the result has lifted watch time across the site.
“We knew people were coming to YouTube when they knew what they were coming to look for,” says Jim McFadden, the technical lead for YouTube recommendations, who joined the company in 2011. “We also wanted to serve the needs of people when they didn’t necessarily know what they wanted to look for.
"WASHINGTON — In the hours after European antitrust regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in late June, an influential Washington think tank learned what can happen when a tech giant that shapes public policy debates with its enormous wealth is criticized.
The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left.
But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had chaired New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.
The statement disappeared from New America’s website, only to be reposted without explanation a few hours later. But word of Mr. Schmidt’s displeasure rippled through New America, which employs more than 200 people, including dozens of researchers, writers and scholars, most of whom work in sleek Washington offices where the main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.” The episode left some people concerned that Google intended to discontinue funding, while others worried whether the think tank could truly be independent if it had to worry about offending its donors.
Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google, which is now part of a larger corporate entity known as Alphabet, for which Mr. Schmidt serves as executive chairman.
Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that “the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,” according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team — nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows — would be exiled from New America.
While she asserted in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, that the decision was “in no way based on the content of your work,” Ms. Slaughter accused Mr. Lynn of “imperiling the institution as a whole.”
Mr. Lynn, in an interview, charged that Ms. Slaughter caved to pressure from Mr. Schmidt and Google, and, in so doing, set the desires of a donor over the think tank’s intellectual integrity.
“Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings,” Mr. Lynn said. “People are so afraid of Google now.”
Google rejected any suggestion that it played a role in New America’s split with Open Markets. Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman, pointed out that the company supports a wide range of think tanks and other nonprofits focused on information access and internet regulation. “We don’t agree with every group 100 percent of the time, and while we sometimes respectfully disagree, we respect each group’s independence, personnel decisions and policy perspectives.”
New America’s executive vice president, Tyra Mariani, said it was “a mutual decision for Barry to spin out his Open Markets program,” and that the move was not in any way influenced by Google or Mr. Schmidt.
“New America financial supporters have no influence or control over the research design, methodology, analysis or findings of New America research projects, nor do they have influence or control over the content of educational programs and communications efforts,” Ms. Mariani said. She added that Mr. Lynn’s statement praising the European Union’s sanctions against Google had been temporarily removed from New America’s website because of “an unintentional internal issue” unrelated to Google or Mr. Schmidt.
Ms. Mariani and Ms. Sciuto said Google is continuing to fund New America.
It is difficult to overstate Mr. Lynn’s influence in raising concerns about the market dominance of Google, as well as of other tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook. His Open Markets initiative organized a 2016 conference at which a range of influential figures — including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — warned of damaging effects from market consolidation in tech."
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
“PEOPLE ARE WEIRD. YOU, ME — EVERYBODY. A Cornell University study from May called ‘Alexa is my new BFF’ proves the point. Researchers analyzed 587 customer reviews of the Amazon Echo smart speaker, powered by the Alexa voice assistant. They found that the more we personify the Pringles-can-shaped gizmo — using words like ‘Alexa’ and ‘her’ instead of ‘Echo’ and ‘it’ — the more satisfied we are with the device (I mean ‘her’). ‘Simply put, people who love her, love the Echo,’ the researchers wrote. "
(Via.). Alexa, be more human:
Monday, August 28, 2017
Sunday, August 27, 2017
"Every so often, the worst-case scenario comes to pass.
As of Sunday afternoon, the remnants of Hurricane Harvey seem likely to exceed the worst forecasts that preceded the storm. The entire metropolitan region is flooding: Interstates are under feet of water, local authorities have asked boat owners to join rescue efforts, and most of the streams and rivers near Houston are in flood stage.
Some models suggest that the storm will linger over the area until Wednesday night, dumping 50 inches of water in total on Houston and the surrounding area.
“Local rainfall amounts of 50 inches would exceed any previous Texas rainfall record. The breadth and intensity of this rainfall are beyond anything experienced before,” said a statement from the National Weather Service. “Catastrophic flooding is now underway and expected to continue for several days. ” (In years of weather reporting, I have never seen a statement this blunt and ominous.)
This means that thousands of people—and perhaps tens of thousands of people—are facing a terrifying and all-too-real struggle to survive right now. In an age when the climate is changing rapidly, a natural question to ask is: What role did human-caused global warming play in strengthening this storm?
Climate scientists, who specialize in thinking about the Earth system as a whole, are often reticent to link any one weather event to global climate change. But they say that aspects of the case of Hurricane Harvey—and the recent history of tropical cyclones worldwide."
How Climate Change Is Shaping the Floods of Harvey - The Atlantic
"A few weeks ago I bought my iMac 5K for the home office (which I love), and that meant shifting away from using my MacBook Pro, a fall 2016 13” model with the Touch Bar and TouchID sensors that I’d been using as my primary computer. I was curious how I’d feel losing access to those features.
The short answer: I didn’t miss the Touch Bar at all, and I missed the touchID sensor a little bit, but a lot less than I expected to. Josh Centers at Tidbits wrote on this topic recently and I think he did a good summary of the issues with the Touch Bar.
Much as I love the TouchID sensor, what keeps me from missing it much is 1Password. It’s marginally more work for me to type in my password to open 1Password than use my fingerprint, but not much. My Apple Watch unlocks the Mac, and so I don’t need the TouchID sensor for that, and when I use Apple Pay on the iMac, the Watch makes that quite painless, too.
So having lived with the Touch Bar and Touch ID sensor for months and then migrated away from them again, I’ve found they seem to be solving problems I don’t really have... "