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Any articles that I have linked to, and commented on.

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16th July 2019
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Trevor Nace, writing at Forbes:

NASA has some good news, the world is a greener place today than it was 20 years ago. What prompted the change? Well, it appears China and India can take the majority of the credit.

In contrast to the perception of China and India’s willingness to overexploit land, water and resources for economic gain, the countries are responsible for the largest greening of the planet in the past two decades. The two most populous countries have implemented ambitious tree planting programs and scaled up their implementation and technology around agriculture.

This is very encouraging. Hopefully this is something that we can start to compete on, as it will only result in a better planet for us all.

16th July 2019
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Leah Burrows, writing at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences blog:

People have long dreamed of re-shaping the Martian climate to make it livable for humans. Carl Sagan was the first outside of the realm of science fiction to propose terraforming. In a 1971 paper, Sagan suggested that vaporizing the northern polar ice caps would “yield ~10 s g cm-2 of atmosphere over the planet, higher global temperatures through the greenhouse effect, and a greatly increased likelihood of liquid water.”

Sagan’s work inspired other researchers and futurists to take seriously the idea of terraforming. The key question was: are there enough greenhouse gases and water on Mars to increase its atmospheric pressure to Earth-like levels?

In 2018, a pair of NASA-funded researchers from the University of Colorado, Boulder and Northern Arizona University found that processing all the sources available on Mars would only increase atmospheric pressure to about 7 percent that of Earth – far short of what is needed to make the planet habitable.

Terraforming Mars, it seemed, was an unfulfillable dream.

Now, researchers from the Harvard University, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, and the University of Edinburgh, have a new idea. Rather than trying to change the whole planet, what if you took a more regional approach?

This is all rather fascinating. And I wonder if any of this stuff will actually happen in the near future? Or if it will remain in theories, and local experiments here on Earth.

13th July 2019
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BBC:

In 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight drove into a forest in rural Maine. He abandoned his car, and taking just some very basic camping supplies, simply walked into the woods. He didn’t come out again for 27 years.

After getting deliberately lost, Knight eventually found the site that would become his home, a small clearing in the densely wooded area surrounding a lake called North Pond. He stretched some tarpaulin between trees, put up his small nylon tent, and settled down. He was completely hidden, despite being only a few minutes’ walk from one of the hundreds of summer cabins that dotted the area.

My immediate expectation of this article, after reading the headline, was a story about how someone worked their way to having a sustainable living outside in the woods. Turns out, I was wrong, and it’s fascinating in a whole other way!

12th July 2019
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I stumbled upon this video just now, and it immediately grabbed my attention. As for some reason, the working life of others is interesting to me, and the Japanese culture, even more so.

So watch the video, and follow Makoto through a day in his life:

Japanese work day at a Japanese office for an average Japanese salaryman in a Tokyo office.
Living in Japan and working in Japan is quite a unique experience. This is a day in the life of Japanese worker, Makoto, 27 years old who lives in a Tokyo 3-story house with his family.
This Tokyo salaryman works in a small Tokyo office, but spends many of his Japan working hours traveling from client to client on the Tokyo trains.
Makoto works for a company called Mobal and as many Japanese salarymen, he entered the company straight from a Japanese University and he plans to spend his entire salaryman career at the same company.
That is the life in Japan for a salaryman. We take a look inside what it’s like to work in a small Tokyo office as well as to visit clients throughout Tokyo city area.
His job experiences maybe unique to his company, but fundamentally he is very much an average salaryman.

He commutes by train everyday to get to work and has to ride his mama-chari bike to get to the train station from his home.
This Tokyo salaryman life has him arriving to work early and working late. As a salaryman, Makoto receives a standard salary every month for all the long work hours.
The Japanese office is also configured so his boss’ desk is right in front of him, quite a Japanese style office working environment. This very average Japanese work day and work lifestyle showcases a true day in Japan work life.

30th May 2019
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Ryan Christoffel, writing at MacStories:

Linky is a tiny utility for iOS that I love. The app serves as an easy way to share to Twitter or Mastodon from the iOS share extension, and I use it every day to tweet MacStories articles or new episodes of Adapt. Used from Safari, the Linky share extension can automatically populate a tweet compose field with information from the site you’re viewing, such as its title, URL, and featured images. Linky’s ease of use makes it my favorite way to share content via tweets.

Earlier this week, Linky was updated with two new enhancements to its text shot feature. For years now the app has enabled easy creation of text shots for sharing portions of an article, or personal thoughts that exceed Twitter’s character limit. That text shot feature is now better than ever though thanks to the addition of highlighting and visual customization options.

I’ve been looking for a good quality “text shot” app for a while, and I was even thinking about making my own one. However, I already use Linky for sharing links, so it’s great that it’s now incorporated this feature.

You can expect me to be sharing more text shots on Twitter from now on.

30th May 2019
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Sharon Bradford Franklin and Andi Wilson Thompson writing for Lawfare:

Last fall, Lawfare published a piece by Ian Levy and Crispin Robinson of GCHQ entitled Principles for a More Informed Exceptional Access Debate. Our organization, the Open Technology Institute, has worked alongside other people and organizations to coordinate a response from an international coalition of 47 signatories, including 23 civil society organizations that work to protect civil liberties, human rights and innovation online; seven tech companies and trade associations, including providers that offer leading encrypted messaging services; and 17 individual experts in digital security and policy. Our coalition letter outlines our concerns that the GCHQ proposal poses serious threats to cybersecurity and fundamental human rights including privacy and free expression. We shared our letter with GCHQ officials on May 22, and we are now releasing it to the public as an Open Letter to GCHQ.

In the open letter, which is notably backed by Apple, Microsoft, Google, WhatsApp, and others, explains how the “Ghost Protocol” would work, the consequences, and also the recommend to abandon the idea completely.

Lawfare and the letter explain the Ghost Protocol quite well, but in essence it means every message and conversation would also be sent to a hidden recipient. Similar to how BCC works with email.

It’s pretty serious stuff. And I sincerely hope it’s abandoned. However, institutions like GCHQ seem to always have another idea up their sleeves to try and bypass your personal privacy.

Here’s one section from the paper I found interesting about the risks it creates in regard to cybersecurity, and threats to human rights:

The GCHQ’s ghost proposal creates serious threats to digital security: if implemented, it will undermine the authentication process that enables users to verify that they are communicating with the right people, introduce potential unintentional vulnerabilities, and increase risks that communications systems could be abused or misused. These cybersecurity risks mean that users cannot trust that their communications are secure, as users would no longer be able to trust that they know who is on the other end of their communications, thereby posing threats to fundamental human rights, including privacy and free expression. Further, systems would be subject to new potential vulnerabilities and risks of abuse.

Read the Open Letter to GCHQ

25th May 2019
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Raisa Bruner, writing for Time:

Hugh Grant is one of our most iconic rom-com leads, often playing a dashing — but hapless — British suitor.

In perennial favorite Love Actually, he achieved perhaps the pinnacle of the form, even going so far as to very winningly dance through the halls of his residence at 10 Downing Street (also known as the prime minister’s home) to the tune of the Pointer Sisters’ “Jump (For My Love).” The spring in his step is all due to love, of course.

But it turns out that the actor wasn’t actually very keen to get his groove on.

I certainly read some strange articles. But at leat for myself, this was pretty interesting. I’m not embarrassed at all to say that I’ve watched Love Actually quite a lot of times, and this dance is my favourite scene.