Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Random pictures - maps

Click to expand

Source: The David Rumsey Map Collection - The historical map collection has over 77,000 maps and images online.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

HTC U11 - first look

The sapphire blue HTC U11 that I pre-ordered just arrived, so here goes:


Dimensions and Weight: 153.9 x 75.9 x 7.9, 169g
Platform: Android™ 7.1 with HTC Sense™
Main Camera: 12MP (HTC UltraPixel™ 3 with 1.4μm pixel), UltraSpeed Autofocus,Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), ƒ/1.7 aperture, Dual LED flash, RAW format support, HDR Boost, Slow motion video (1080P@120 fps), 4K video recording with 3D Audio
Sound: HTC USonic with Active Noise Cancellation, HTC BoomSound™ Hi-Fi edition, 3D Audio recording with 4 microphones
Display: 5.5 inch, Quad HD  (2560 x 1440 pixels), Super LCD 5, 3D Corning Gorilla Glass
SIM Card Type: Nano SIM
Front Camera: 16MP, BSI sensor, ƒ/2.0 aperture, HDR Boost, Selfie Panorama, Full HD 1080p video recording
Sensors: Ambient light sensor, Proximity sensor, Motion G-sensor, Compass sensor, Gyro sensor, Magnetic sensor, Fingerprint sensor, Sensor Hub, Edge Sensor
Battery and Charging: Capacity: 3000 mAh, Talk time on 3G/4G network: up to 24.5 Hours, Standby time on 3G/4G network: up to 14 Days, Power saving mode, Extreme power saving mode, Quick Charge 3.0
CPU Speed: Qualcomm™ Snapdragon™ 835, 64 bit octa-core, up to 2.45 Ghz
Memory: ROM: 64GB , RAM: 4GB, Extended memory: microSD™, Flex Storage supported Network: 2G/2.5G- GSM/GPRS/EDGE, 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, 3G UMTS, 900/850/AWS/1900/2100, 4G LTE 
Connectivity: NFC, BlueTooth® 4.2, Wi-Fi®: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 & 5 GHz)
Buttons Keys and Connection Ports: USB 3.1 Gen 1, Type-C, Capacitive keys, DisplayPort 

Go here for the full specifications. Setting it up, more to come...

HTC U11 user reviews:
HTC U11 review - T3
HTC U11 review in depth - Recombu
Hands on: HTC U11 review - Digital Trends
HTC U11 Review: Squeeze It! - Ubergizmo
HTC U11 review: back in the running
HTC U11 review: Hands-on with the squeezy smartphone featuring the best camera yet

The first 11 things you should do with your new HTC U11

YouTube Reviews:

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Non-sequiturs, etc.

As I read reporting on the news, politics, science, and all manner of subjects it is quite amazing to me to see so many of what I consider to be untruthful, inaccurate, illogical, and sometimes even nonsensical items... replete with non-sequiturs, leaps of logic, full of misunderstandings (sometimes unintentional, sometimes perhaps intentional), etc. Here are a few examples:


I. Apparently a new subject for litigation is the 'follow' and 'block' functionality of various social media vehicles such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., see: Trump’s Not the Only One Blocking Constituents on Twitter.

Apparently a number of people are annoyed at various politicians have 'blocked' them after they "voiced dissent." They are claiming that "losing this form of access to public officials violates constituents’ First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." In fact, they supposedly claim that "it’s akin to being thrown out of a town hall meeting for holding up a protest sign."

The Executive Director of The Knight Institute said "Though the architects of the Constitution surely didn’t contemplate presidential Twitter accounts, they understood that the president must not be allowed to banish views from public discourse simply because he finds them objectionable,” 

Hmm, I'm not exactly sure how blocking someone on Twitter (note: I routinely block all accounts that 'follow' me that appear to be bots, purveyors of MLM, and other accounts that do not appear to be "real"people... and since there are so many of these I have blocked hundreds of accounts!) in any way abridges their access to public discourse. Hell, it does not even stop their use of Twitter, it just means that they don't show up in the blocker's timeline! And, after having been blocked by others, one may not to able to follow them, but one can still go and look at their tweets any time he/she feels like it, via direct navigation to the blocker's feed...

Apparently some folks not only want to vent their frustration on Twitter/Facebook, they also expect the person they are venting at to be obliged to see/read their tweets/posts (at least if they are an elected representative).  That seems to be quite a stretch!

II. Next up is this article: 'Trump Administration Returns Copies of Report on C.I.A. Torture to Congress.' It would have you believe that the Trump administration is working to deep-six Congress' "torture report" by conspiring with the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Apparently, "The Senate Intelligence Committee, which was run by Democrats when the executive summary was released, sent copies of the entire report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate it into their records — a move that would have made the documents subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That law, which allows citizens, the news media and other groups to request access to information held by the federal government, does not apply to congressional records..."

Contrast the scummy Republicans (working to let the report "remain hidden") with the virtuous Democrats (working to make sure that the report becomes available to the general public). One small problem with this characterization... the President referred to in the first paragraph, the one fighting a "pitched battle over how the history is told" is President Obama, and he was on the side of keeping the report a secret. Had he been on the side of disclosure, the report could have been declassified and released! Something you would never understand from this article, which, while recounting factual details, at the very least has glossed over a significant part of the truth!

III. On to the next article, 'This is what would happen if North Korea launched a real attack.' The article begins as follows:

"President Trump would have “maybe 10 minutes” to decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike against North Korea — should it ever fire a missile that’s capable of reaching the US mainland, experts say. 

Speaking to the Associated Press about what would happen in the event of a nuclear strike from the North, scientist David Wright, of the UCS Global Security Program, and rocket analyst Markus Schiller, of ST Analytics in Germany, described how the drama would unfold. 

“The timelines are short,” Wright explained. “Even for long-range missiles, there are a lot of steps that go into detecting the launch and figuring out what it is, leaving the president with maybe 10 minutes to decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike.” 

So, according to this expert the President has "maybe ten minutes to decide whether to launch a retaliatory strike" on being informed of a North Korean ballistic missile launch (once they have a credible, working missile that is)!  What a load of codswallop!  Say North Korea launches a nuclear-tipped ICBM, say even a half dozen... why exactly does the President have only 10 minutes to make a decision? He could wait an hour, a day., a week, a month... and then order a retaliatory strike.

Now if it was a case of hundreds of ICBMs coming from Russia, then there may be a very short timetable, because it could be case of "use them or lose them!" Even in such a scenario, given the nuclear triad with resources around the globe, it is highly likely that the U.S. could absorb an attack.. and still maintain a second-strike capability, even if you buy the 'end-of-life-as-we know-it EMP' scenarios!

The bottom line? The 'only ten minutes to respond to a North Korean nuclear missile' meme is risible, and the so-called 'expert' should be ashamed of peddling such nonsense!

IV.  On to the latest leaked NSA document on Russian "hacking" of the U.S. presidential "election" as detailed by an article published by The Intercept

One problem with this article was its use of multiple, different characterizations of exactly what the scope of the attack consisted of. In the article this was variously characterized as  a "cyber effort against elements of the U.S. election and voting infrastructure" and "...Russian hacking may have breached at least some elements of the voting system..." and also "...targeting voter registration software..." among others.

Another problem is the article simultaneously included a number of (mild) reassurances from the leaked document (e.g."unknown whether the aforementioned spear-phishing deployment successfully compromised all the intended victims, and what potential data from the victim could have been exfiltrated") with various speculations from "experts" about worst-case scenarios. However, at least The Intercept covered it all, clearly doing a better job than much of the other reporting which lost all nuance and turned it into "The Russians hacked the elections"

Friday, June 9, 2017


I recently saw this in my Twitter timeline and watched this video: Watch: Ray Kurzweil Predicts When We’ll Be Able to Program Matter

OK, so this guy is widely recognized as a genius, but watching this I found it made no sense to me at all. Most of the time he seemed to be conflating two different things. OK, so a foglet of nano-robots I can go for... and that they could be programmed to do different things (assemble to form a couch, reassemble to form a chair, etc.), OK, all very reasonable. But how exactly does that constitute man being able to "program matter" as claimed?

He then goes on that "you can transform yourself... project yourself into a space that is far away..." Eh? Is it I can "project myself" or I can project an avatar of myself? The two are not exactly the same! Once again, projecting an avatar is uncontroversial, but "projecting myself" is in the realm of science fiction...

He goes on, that by the 2040's "You could reconfigure yourself into a completely different person... you can look like someone else..." and that "...what is doable in virtual reality will be doable in real reality..." Again, am I re-configuring my nano-based avatar to look like someone else (OK), or does he actually mean what he is (literally) saying? "A couple could become each other...", etc.  I, for one, am willing to say that will not be possible in "real reality"

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Random chart - H1B visas


"... Almost 1.8 million H-1B visas have been distributed in fiscal years 2001 through 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The program, created by the Immigration Act of 1990, allows employers to hire foreigners to work on a temporary basis in jobs that require highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher..."

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Random chart - income growth

Source: Growth in State Personal Income Slows in 2016

Random chart - books

"About a quarter of American adults (26%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form. So who, exactly, are these non-book readers?

Several demographic traits correlate with non-book reading, Pew Research Center surveys have found. For instance, adults with a high school degree or less are about three times as likely as college graduates (40% vs. 13%) to report not reading books in any format in the past year..."