Facecrap, Bezoism, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#37)

Really packed week, so let’s start right away.


Enhance!

Another year, another amazing contest of scientific photography. I particularly liked the third place, though all the images are really impressive.

2021 PHOTOMICROGRAPHY COMPETITION, on nikonsmallworld


Nintendo being Nintendo

Honestly, I thought that after 4 years they were not going to add bluetooth support for headphones, even though everyone knew that it was a trivial thing to do. Anyway, better late than never, I guess.

Nintendo finally adds Bluetooth audio to the Switch in new software update, on the verge

La Liga goes crypto

And jumps aboard the hype train of NFTs. Apparently, you will be able to burn waste energy buying digital stickers of Hazard soon.

La Liga Becomes First Top Soccer League to Offer NFTs of All Players, on coindesk

Kratos is back!

And the game really looks amazing. Can’t wait to get a ps5 (maybe in 2022? let’s cross fingers for production ramping up…).


The Facebook files

This week, the Wall Street Journal published a series of articles with a lot of insights of how Facebook operates, and why it has become a problem. Manipulating elections, spreading fake news, and shaming the bodies of minors are just a few examples of the stuff that happens behind the curtain in Zuckerberg company. Personally it’s been around 5 years I do not use Facebook (I left after several data breaches and privacy scandals), I’ve never been a fan of Instagram, and I left Whatsapp around one year ago (again, I did not want Facebook having any data on me).

Something I read on Techcrunch that really resonated was the argument that maybe Facebook (or big tech companies in general) is the tobacco company of our era. Will we see its negative effects for generations to come? It is clear that social networks have shaped the world we live in, and while they have brought cool stuff, I am not sure at all that these technologies are worth the negative effects we are experiencing every day. Is it really necessary that we see how other people drink a beer on Instagram? Are we really better informed about the world while browsing Twitter? What do you really learn while watching 30-second videos on TikTok?

The facebook files, on the wall street journal
Facebook knows Instagram harms teens. Now, its plan to open the app to kids looks worse than ever, on techcrunch

Bezosism my ass

It seems like there is no way of living through a week without reading negative stuff from these billionaires. A lot of good information on the piece from Wall Street Journal about how Bezos has stablished a new standard on managing your workers, achieving incredible performance (and of course, benefits). While I had read a lot of news talking about algorithms measuring the performance of workers and taking decisions on hiring/firing, I never realised about the fact that your performance is compared against the average of your peers. If you do better than average, you are fine. If your performance decreases (maybe you just had a child and are not sleeping well, maybe you have injuries because your job is shit and doing the same task for 9 hours straight should be illegal), you might lose your job in a couple of weeks. It was shocking to see that some workers really needed to dope themselves to save their jobs, which lead to everyone trying to improve their performance in an impossible loop for efficiency.

I could not stop thinking about professional cycling, where everyone seems to be so doped that many regular cyclists need to resort to illegal actions just to compete with the elite.

[…] The overall rate at which workers must complete a task in an Amazon warehouse, whether it’s putting items on shelves, taking them off, or putting them in boxes, is calculated based on the aggregate performance of everyone doing that task in a given facility, says an Amazon spokeswoman. This floating rate, Amazon argues, shows that none of its employees is being pushed beyond what’s reasonable, because that rate is something like an average of what everyone in a warehouse is already doing.[…]

[…] “If there are people who cut corners, if there are people who take tons of coffee and tons of energy drinks to go faster, that raises the cumulative rate,” says Mr. Hamilton. “Meaning, if you want to keep up with the average, then you have to cut corners and drink coffee and energy drinks at every break.”[…]

[…] A worker using the Kiva system in its early incarnations would typically triple their output, say from an average of 100 picks an hour to 300, says Mr. Mountz. But it wasn’t as if the Kiva-using companies then reduced all their warehouse employees’ hours to a third of what they once were while paying them the same wage. Instead, Staples and Walgreens, both early customers of Kiva, used their workers’ increased productivity to increase the output capacity of their warehouses; store and ship a wider range of products; shorten the amount of time required to fulfill an order, and ultimately either lower the cost of their services, increase their profits, or both. All reasons Amazon, a customer of Kiva, decided to acquire it[…]

Anyway, another mark in the legacy of Bezos, I guess.

The Way Amazon Uses Tech to Squeeze Performance Out of Workers Deserves Its Own Name: Bezosism, on the wall street journal

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Ig Nobels, crypto Salvador, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#36)

Another week, another batch of cool news. Let’s start.


2021 Ig Nobels are here

And there is a lot of curious stuff going on! I particularly liked the Economics, Chemistry, and Physics prizes, because they hold interesting science behind the shocking titles. I hope this is the last year they have to do the ceremony online, though.

Sex can relieve nasal congestion, and other work honored by 2021 Ig Nobels, on ars technica

Hold it!

This week El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as one of their legal coins, and surprisingly its value has been “quite” volatile (around 10% drop in a single day). There were also some problems regarding electronic wallets, and there have been quite a lot of protests in the country against this measure. I am really curious about how this will turn out, and who knows, maybe sometime soon we have a longer list of countries where you can officially use this kind of currency…

El Salvador’s world-first adoption of bitcoin endures bumpy first day, on reuters
Crypto exchanges struggle as El Salvador adopts Bitcoin, on the verge

Fear is the mindkiller

My body is ready for this one. Yours should be too. By the way, this is the best thing I have ever listened from Zimmer. I can’t wait to hear what he did for the actual film.

You Can Now Listen to Hans Zimmers’ Dune Sketchbook Soundtrack, on tor.com

9/11, 20 years after

It’s been 20 years, and while many things have changed, many more have not. A very nice read on they day everything changed but nothing changed.

The real lessons from 9/11, on the economist

The movie you never asked for but you will end up watching

I did not particularly enjoy the trailer, but Keanu is Keanu, and I am very curious about how are they going to film the action scenes. The original trilogy had amazing production, and it’s been more than 20 years of CGI advances…


And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Streamer anxiety, the cookies are back, iPrivacy, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#35)

Back from summer holidays (that was short), and a lot of interesting stuff to post. Let’s go!

Designed in California, Assembled in China, Purchased by You, Owned by Us.

A very interesting piece by Snowden on the recent changes to privacy done by Apple. I could not help but read tons of articles on how the system will work, and how could end up being a repression tool. Who says Apple will never tweak the databases to find for troubling people in China? They already gave their users data to them by building data centers in the country instead of storing on the US ones. Also, during the last weeks there have been more and more reports on how they handle internal problems and/or privacy of their workers which seem very troubling…

The All-Seeing “i”: Apple Just Declared War on Your Privacy, on Continuing Ed

New jobs, old? problems

I have been reading/watching many people who work as streamers/youtubers recently openly talking about the struggles they have while doing their job. At first glance, they are super successful, but they face anxiety, stress, and uncertainty almost everyday. While these problems are not new for me (as someone doing research, I have never had stability and I am 33 now…), I really enjoyed the openness with they tackled the topic.

Pokimane Has Done Enough—and Has So Much Left to Do, on Wired
The reality of being a streamer (in Spanish), on knekro’s youtube channel

Duodecillion cookies!

A cool piece on the story of idle games, in particular on the development of Cookie Clicker, which came to Steam this week (with an amazing soundtrack by C418!!!). Also on the debate of idle games actually being games, which is something I never really thought about.

‘Cookie Clicker’ Wasn’t Meant to Be Fun. Why Is It So Popular 8 Years Later?, on vice

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

The Facebookverse, QR privacy, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#30)

I am writing this at 22:30 and its 30º with ~80% humidity. So yes, I am finally back in Spain after one year without visiting. Not sure if the following weeks there will be any updates, but let’s keep the ball rolling while we can.


Ready Facebook One

If you like cyberpunk there is a big chance you know about Snow Crash. While I am not a big fan of the book, there are many ideas floating around there that are quite interesting, and it is probably the most famous book on the genre. Some years ago we got Ready Player One (the XXI century version of the book) and it was obviously worse and almost any aspect. Even more, while I could not image any way to make it worse, we got a movie adaptation and a second book. Anyway, it seems that some billionaires are not planning to go to space, but instead they want to make that dystopia real. And coming from Zuckerberg, I can’t wait to see the shitshow Facebook is gonna build. Get ready for disaster, people.

PS: it was all fun and laughs when Epic talked about a metaverse in Fortnite during the Apple vs Epic trial, but now we start to see other companies trying to go that route. Interesting times ahead…

Facebook announces Metaverse product group headed by Instagram VP Vishal Shah, on protocol
Mark Zuckerberg Wants To Build An Online “Metaverse” Accessible On All Game Consoles, on thegamer

Hi [customer_name], nice to have you back. Do you want your usual [customer_name_usual_food]?

It seems that there are many places where you can go to eat something, and the menu is digitally implemented by using a QR-code. By doing it this way, there is no need for interaction (so that’s a good thing you might think, we have corona after all), and they also need less people working there (that’s not so good?). Oh, and one last thing: they can also sell your data / use it for marketing. What a time to be alive.

QR Codes Are Here to Stay. So Is the Tracking They Allow, on the nytimes

On China and their industry decisions

Very interesting read on what does it mean to be a tech company, what value do tech companies really produce, and how different countries might have totally different views on that.

Why is China smashing its tech industry? in noahpinion

Google doing something nice?

I see on openculture that Google has been digitizing many many paintings at astonishing resolutions. Besides being super cool to “visit” virtually, I think it might be even useful for many interesting side projects (if I find some way to download them).

A Gallery of 1,800 Gigapixel Images of Classic Paintings: See Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring, Van Gogh’s Starry Night & Other Masterpieces in Close Detail, on openculture
Google Arts and Culture

And that’s it for the week (month?). Stay safe!

404, Robotaxis, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#29)

OnE wEeK uNtIl HoLiDaYs. LET’S GO!


Trump or gangbang?

Funny story of the week. It seems that an old YouTube competitor was storing many videos for different media outlets. This is fine, except when the service dies and the domain is sold to a porn website. After that, you start having porn videos instead of your news archive. Very nice side-read about the fragility of the internet on the atlantic piece, too.

A Defunct Video Hosting Site Is Flooding Normal Websites With Hardcore Porn, on vice
The Internet Is Rotting, on the atlantic

Powered by you

Literally. Well, being more precise, powered by your sweat. I did not know this kind of research was being done, so I was greatly surprised by it. While the amount of energy is not super big, it seems that we will be able to charge many interesting biometric devices in the near future without worrying about cables.

Your sweaty fingertips could help power the next generation of wearable electronics, on science

Portable gaming never dies

The playdate is coming! honestly I always loved portable consoles much more than their bulky counterparts, so this new wave of devices is something I cannot help but look closely. The most interesting thing about this one, at least for me, is that it has some strong limitations (1-bit display), but also some unique input (the crank). This kind of stuff is what generates unique videogames, so I can’t wait to see what people does with it.

Playdate hands-on: a Game Boy from a different dimension, on theverge

Some thoughts about driverless cars

Very nice read on the different technologies behind one of the hottest topics nowadays (automatic driving). I cannot lie, I would be so happy to see all the mega corporations fail to predict the best solution to the problem… anyway, still not sure at all their approach is not the right one. Time will tell. BTW, there are also a bunch of interesting comments in the comment section of the article, for those of you who are interested.

Robotaxis: have Google and Amazon backed the wrong technology? on financial times

You guys paid for all this

It should not surprise me anymore, but I still get amazed at how much these guys are disconnected from reality.


And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Billion dollar dreams, Stadia’s fall? and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#28)

Fully vaccinated (finally!) and one week closer to holidays. Let’s do this!


Nintendo does it again

A new screen, the worst possible name ever, an ethernet port for the dock (wow, 2021 guys), and the same broken joycons. I was not expecting 4k 120fps as some crazy people on the internet, but maybe their own videogames without frame drops? Too much to ask for, apparently.

Nintendo refuses to say if the OLED Switch fixes Joy-Con drift, on theverge
I’m skipping Nintendo Switch OLED and waiting for a Switch Pro — here’s why, on tomshardware

Wait, what? The real Switch Pro

And out of the blue, Valve decided it was time to show its own “console”. Honestly I like it, but I think there is really no market for this kind of device (and knowing how Valve operates, probably it will die in less than one year). I hope I am wrong, because I would love to this stick around and people building newer models in the future.

Steamdeck homepage
Valve’s gaming handheld is called the Steam Deck and it’s shipping in December, on theverge

I sleep in a race car bed

In less than a month, two of the most rich people in the world have been playing around with their ‘dreams’ of travelling through space. I guess they are in that period of their lives where white dudes tend to buy a sports car, but given their power they went for even bigger showing off moves. I particularly liked the piece by Meghan Bartels on space.com, taking her time to think about what all of this really means for society (hint: not much).

As space billionaires take flight, ‘the right stuff’ for space travel enters a new era, on space.com
Elon Musk has a ticket to ride on Richard Branson’s spaceplane, on theverge

Is this the end?

First you launch a service no one was asking for, then you close the developer studio you created to build games for your platform, then you buy a lot of temporal exclusive games for people to go to your platform. When all of that fails (what a surprise), you try to get back devs by lowering the cut you take (which was clearly abusive). Honestly I bet they are going to close the whole thing maximum in a couple years. Wait and see…

Google slashes Stadia’s revenue share to try to attract developers, on theverge

Point-and-click adventures are cool

And I played some good old Blade Runner last week. Boy, the story is so much better than the two films! If you never tried it, it is actually a fantastic game, and I did not notice a lot of gameplay problems even being such and old game (1997!). Now I am playing The Dig, which also has a very interesting story behind (but it is also quite hard). If you are interested, I stream live on twitch, and we also update the VODs later on youtube.