May 2019 Articles

For someone who loves space, this is a pretty darn cool way to experience nearly real-time data from GOES-16 and GOES-17 on my computer. No more static images of planets, now you have a real time view of the world we live in. Amazing.

While browsing the GOES Image Viewer a few months ago, I had an idea: with the data frequency that these new GOES satellites provide, I could build a Mac app that pulls the newest image every 20 minutes and sets it as your desktop background.

What resulted was a simple little menu bar app that gives you a near real-time view of Earth all day long. I’ve been using it for a few weeks as I’ve built it, and it is an absolute joy to have a window to Earth all day.

There are 8 different views of Earth to choose from in the first version of the app, including full disk images from GOES-East, GOES-West, and Himawari-8 (which happens to have a nearly identical imager). Real time views of Earth (and other planets) are only going to get more popular, so the idea is to keep the app updated with the newest image sources in the future.

Head over to the Mac App Store, get Downlink for free, and let me know what you think!

Cubesat Launch

Randall Munroe · xkcd ·

Cubesat Launch

The bittersweet consequence of YouTube’s incredible growth is that so many stories will be lost underneath all of the layers of new paint. This is why I wanted to tell the story of how, ten years ago, a small team of web developers conspired to kill IE6 from inside YouTube and got away with it.

…the Amazon Prime membership program is perhaps the biggest reason why [Amazon is worth more than $900 billion today].

The service, which launched in February of 2005, was a first of its kind: For an upfront payment of $79, customers were rewarded with all-you-can-eat two-day delivery on their orders. At the time, Amazon charged customers $9.48 for two-day delivery, meaning if you placed just nine of these orders in a year, Prime would pay for itself.

An interesting question: what are the options and corresponding costs to ship a print version of the magazine without a plastic wrap? I hope they continue to think about this question.

Love it. Looking at the Mueller report through the lens of a technology product.

Key take-aways

  • If Mueller delivered a “born digital” PDF to Justice, that file was printed and scanned back into a set of low-quality images for release; a disservice to all future users of the document, and also a violation of Section 508 regulations.
  • If Mueller delivered a paper document to the Department of Justice which was subsequently scanned, DoJ’s treatment of the document is more understandable, but still non-conforming with Section 508.
  • Irrespective of the evidence and conclusions about the Trump campaign, the Special Counsel’s report showcases the essential qualities of static, self-contained, reliable, sharable PDF in a world that increasingly runs on HTML.

Learned a little bit more about DNS from RJ than I already knew. Worth the quick read.

An interactive essay by Kevin Simler:

If you’ve spent any time thinking about complex systems, you surely understand the importance of networks.

Networks rule our world. From the chemical reaction pathways inside a cell, to the web of relationships in an ecosystem, to the trade and political networks that shape the course of history.

…But as much as I’ve thought about networks over the years, I didn’t appreciate (until very recently) the importance of simple diffusion.

Diffusion is powerful.

AT&T’s Privacy Policy

AT&T ·

Information I didn’t know my wireless and home Internet service provider gathers, direct from their privacy policy:

Here’s some of the information we collect:

  • Account Information includes your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, service-related details such as payment data, security codes, service history and other information like that;

  • Network Performance & Usage Information tells us how you use our networks, our products and our services, and how well our equipment and networks are performing;

  • Web Browsing & Wireless Application Information tells us about the websites you visit and the mobile applications you use on our networks;

  • Location Information tells us where your wireless device is located, as well as your ZIP-code and street address;

  • TV Viewing Information tells us about which programs you watch and record and similar information about how you use our video services and applications.

Bullet points #3, #4, and #5 I find highly intrusive. Bullet #2 makes me uneasy because it’s so vague.

As a subscriber I have to agree to this privacy policy, there’s no opt out. My only recourse in the marketplace is to switch providers.

My second recourse is to lobby for legislation that restricts these types of intrusive information collection.

I believe privacy means that what I do in my home is my own business — that includes how and why I use other utilities like electricity, gas, and water is my own business for which I pay a monthly usage fee (and am very willing to pay). Why should my Internet Service Provider (ISP) get to know which “websites [I] visit” when I’m browsing the Internet from home?