» It looks like human speech may have a universal transmission rate of 39 bit per second.

Italians are some of the fastest speakers on the planet, chattering at up to nine syllables per second. Many Germans, on the other hand, are slow enunciators, delivering five to six syllables in the same amount of time. Yet in any given minute, Italians and Germans convey roughly the same amount of information […]: they tend to transmit information at about the same rate: 39 bits per second.

This is extremely interesting, as it applies to written languages, where information density per syllable was investigated, as well as spoken languages. The conclusion is also fascinating:

But the “why” is another question entirely. Pellegrino and his colleagues suspect that the answer has everything to do with the limits imposed by […] how much information our brains can take in—or produce—at any one time. […] De Boer agrees that our brains are the bottleneck. But, he says, instead of being limited by how quickly we can process information by listening, we’re likely limited by how quickly we can gather our thoughts. That’s because, he says, the average person can listen to audio recordings sped up to about 120%—and still have no problems with comprehension. “It really seems that the bottleneck is in putting the ideas together.”

» Deep Fake with Will Smith in “The Matrix”. I find this interesting because Will Smith turned down the role of Neo in the original films, and he looks nothing like Keanu Reeves, which makes this a very impressive demonstration of Deep Fakes.

September 4, 2019

» This is a classic example of hidden complexity:

In Tetris, a randomizer is a function which returns a randomly chosen piece. Over the years, the rules of how pieces are chosen has evolved, affecting gameplay and actual randomness.

Everyone who has ever played around with random numbers has already met the concept of “floods” and “droughts”, but possibly not with that name. It’s interesting to see which solutions they came up with to strike the right balance between keeping the game unpredictable, but still beatable and fun.

August 27, 2019

» The whole mess of Boing is going further than originally thought. This makes me deeply uncomfortable, as I always regarded aviation as the one sector where people have time and budget to thoroughly test their software. Aviation was even the example #1 when it came to formal proving of algorithms, back in university.

» We officially have the first case of a suspected crime in space:

Nasa is reported to be investigating a claim that an astronaut accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse from the International Space Station, in what may be the first allegation of a crime committed in space.

August 16, 2019

» Squarespace on three kinds of Good Technical Debt. There are two interesting parts in this article.

“Tech debt” is a dirty word in the software engineering world. It’s often said with an air of regret; a past mistake that will eventually need to be atoned for with refactoring.

Financial debt isn’t universally reviled in the same way. Your friend takes out a mortgage to buy a house and what do you say? Congratulations!

The debt metaphor should be taken literally. Taking a debt means taking money someone with the promise of paying back in the future, then using that money for your benefit (possibly generating even more money) and paying it back with benefits. It’s a win-win situation - in theory, that is.

The other good point is this:

The key is to be intentional about what you invest time in and aware of the costs you’re taking on. […] Good tech debt has clear, well-known limitations. Document these in code comments, READMEs, FAQs, and conversations with the people who’d care.

Used carefully, good tech debt will help you build software faster by focusing your time on the things that matter most.

At the end of the day, it boils down to “Take a debt consciouisly, aware of the risks and with the intention of paying it back”.

» Google Search is evolving into a walled garden.

We’ve passed a milestone in Google’s evolution from search engine to walled-garden. In June of 2019, for the first time, a majority of all browser-based searches on Google.com resulted in zero-clicks.

Step by step, Google is taking over all the information from the web to their own page. I can see the benefit from the end user: They are searching for a specific bit of information and do not care about your website. So from a user’s perspective, I applaud this trend. However, this is taking traffic and therefore money away from the websites, which means that Google is destroying business models all over the world.

» The future is now:

It looks like an Apple lightning cable. It works like an Apple lightning cable. But it will give an attacker a way to remotely tap into your computer.

It’s annoyingly difficult to make sure that your phone is only loading via USB, without the data access. It’s obvious that this type of attack is suitable for more high-profile targets, as long as the average joe keeps plugging his phone into every public USB hub to charge it.