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Links and Notes

Links and Notes – Week 3, 2021

Technologists Use Facial Recognition on Parler Videos‘. Vice [c]. ‘It demonstrates the democratization of facial recognition, but comes littered with ethical issues.’ Indeed. I’m against facial recognition in nearly all forms. I’m also concerned that facesoftheriot.com seems to have lots of images of people who were just protesting, not rioting.


‘Online speech and publishing’. Benedict Evans [c].

The internet and then social platforms break a lot of our definitions of different kinds of speech, and yet somehow Facebook / Google / Twitter are supposed to recreate that whole 200-year tapestry of implicit structures and consensus, and answer all of those questions, from office parks in the San Francisco Bay Area, for both the USA and Myanmar, right now. We want them to Fix It, but we don’t actually know what that means.


A visit from the Zune squad.’ The Verge [c]. ‘Microsoft may have killed off its flagship MP3 player nearly a decade ago, but these fans are keeping their enthusiasm alive.’


Intel is re-hiring retired employees. AnandTech [c]. New CEO Pat Gelsinger is already making changes.


Slate Star Codex is back. Astral Codex Ten [c]. The anonymously written blog was taken offline by its author after the New York Times was going to reveal the authors real name. Now the blog is back via Substack. If you’ve never heard of Slate Star Codex before now is probably a good time to start reading.

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Links and Notes

Links and Notes – Week 2, 2021

Is Letterboxd Becoming a Blockbuster? New York Times. I’ve been an on-again off-again user of the movie reviewing social network Letterboxd ever since they launched. It’s a lovely little corner of the internet. And it’s been a good year for them:

In 2020, however, the site’s growth was explosive. Letterboxd has seen its user base nearly double since the beginning of the pandemic: They now have more than 3 million member accounts…

I’m astounded by that figure. Because the site still feels as boutique-y and small as the day I joined. I would of guessed they had 60,000 users or so. With most users having the premium Pro plan as the reason the site was still viable financially. But 3 million?! Blimey. And it’s a testament to the folks behind it that it’s as nice a place to visit as the day I joined.


Twitter Shares Fall 7% Following Permanent Trump Ban. Bloomberg. I find it mildly interesting that Twitter is one of the most well known and popular social media sites on earth. It is firmly embedded into the zeitgeist of our time. A single Tweet can ruin careers, alter elections or spark violence. But despite this it’s been a pretty bad investment. All its competitors share prices have gone from strength to strength over the past five years. But $TWTR has been stagnant.


Wikipedia is 20 years old! Wikimedia. It’s still the best thing about the internet.


Hyundai Buys Boston Dynamics for Nearly $1 Billion. IEEE Spectrum. Electronic cars have gone mainstream now. I wonder how long it will take for robotics to join them.


Intel is getting a new CEO. MarketWatch. VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger will be the new head of Intel. He worked at Intel for over 30 years before leaving a decade or so ago. Does he have what it takes to save the sinking Intel ship? Doubtful in my opinion. All that’s needed now is for AMD to aggressively go for the server market and then Intel will be dead.


A Few Thoughts On Writing. Morgan Housel. Morgan Housel’s “The Psychology of Money” was my favourite book of 2020. It’s one of the most beautifully simple books on money ever published. It’s been added to the list of books that I’d insist my child read before they turn 21. Please buy it.



Burger King has been rebranded. Creative Bloq. I like it. Very ’70’s. Very simple. Now they just need to work on every other aspect of the business (at least in the UK). I haven’t eaten at a Burger King for years now, so I’m a little behind the times here. But the things I liked about BK were their fries were crispy and their burgers had a nice strong smokey flavour and plenty of meat. The bad: I’ve never seen one with a drive through, the inside was always filthy (including the kitchens), it had so little foot-traffic that nothing was ever ready, the staff were for the most part not great and the chicken nuggets were hilariously bad. I noticed not long ago that Deliveroo was offering BK delivery in my area and I felt immediate feelings of disgust. Crappy BK food, totally crushed and entirely cold delivered to me with a £2.69 delivery charge. I could think of few things worse. Anyway, nice rebranding. It’s live on the UK site too.



The Dissident (2020). The new documentary by Bryan Fogel. You may have seen his previous film “Icarus” (2017) on Netflix. It was fantastic and won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. His latest project is about the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by his own government inside their consulate in Turkey. I’ve just finished watching it. And whilst it’s not quite as good as his previous film, which benefited massively from having a tremendous story essentially fall into his lap, this is still very much worth your time.

The editing does takes a little bit of getting used to, with the entire film almost feeling like a montage or trailer. But there’s no denying this a slickly made documentary that will likely keep your attention for its entire two hour runtime. If you liked Citizenfour, the documentry about Edward Snowden then you’ll like this too. It’s currently quite expensive at $20. But give it a while and it will probably appear on a streaming platform you’re a member of eventually. More info (be warned the movies website is a crappy, CPU intensive, Flash-looking mess).

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Technology

ARM Macs This Year?

Intel have been dragging their feet when it comes to advancements in laptop-class CPUs for a while now. And it’s costing the Mac dearly. The iPad Pro is a more powerful device than most MacBooks! So for a few years it’s been rumoured that Apple is going to switch to ARM processors like their iOS devices.

In my head this was still a year or two away. But maybe not. Tim Cook:

For our Mac business overall, we faced some processor constraints in the March quarter, leading to a 5 percent revenue decline compared to last year. But we believe that our Mac revenue would have been up compared to last year without those constraints, and don’t believe this challenge will have a significant impact on our Q3 results.

As someone who just had their 6-year-old MacBook die on them and is waiting for WWDC before biting the bullet for a new one I really do hope ARM chips arrive this year.

{via Daring Fireball}