Are you using Google’s reCAPTCHA? Then you might unknowingly be training Pentagon’s killer drones.
With the rise of blogs, web 2.0, and user-generated content, came a torrent of SPAM. Automated computer programs, or bots, were flooding the internet with comment SPAM, more often than not drowning out actual discussion. In an effort to deal with the problem, the good guys on the internet took advantage of the fact that computers used to be quite bad at recognizing objects in an image. And thus the “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, or CAPTCHA was born.
A classic CAPTCHA that resolves to “smwm”,
The first CAPTCHA implementations were dead simple. To be allowed to write a comment on a web site, the user had to recognize the letters in an image, and then write those exact letters in a text box. If the letters in the image matched the ones provided by the user, the site knew user was human, and was thus allowed to comment. Recognizing the letters in the image was an easy task for most people, but the bots didn’t stand a chance.
A terrible, terrible CAPTCHA that resolves to “ah, fuck this”.
But as image recognition software became more advanced, the bots started to solve the first CAPTCHA implementations. The dam was about to break, and to prevent this, the internet created more advanced CAPTCHAs. Some of these second generation CAPTCHA implementations were terrible, like the one in the image to the left. Sure, they were impossible for bots to solve, but they were also very hard for a human being to figure out. It happened more than once that I simply gave up filling out an online form because of an unsolvable CAPTCHA.
Then Google came along with their silver bullet: reCAPTCHA.
Continue reading "You Might Be Helping Pentagon Train Killer Drones."
Once again, we’re seeing outbreaks of measles across Europe. How is that even possible in this day and age? Because some people still think it’s a bad idea to vaccinate.
Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease. It’s airborne, and spreads easily through the coughs and sneezes of infected people. Nine out of ten people who are not immune, and share living space with an infected person will catch it. And measles is a pretty shitty disease to catch. Initial symptoms typically include a high fever, often greater than 40 °C (104 °F), cough, a runny nose, and inflamed eyes. After a few days, a red rash will usually start in the face, and then spread to the rest of the body. In about 30% of the cases, you’ll see complications like diarrhea, blindness, inflammation of the brain, and pneumonia.
in 2014, a whooping 73,000 people died from measles. But that’s a massive decreased when compared to earlier years. In 1980, a staggering 2.6 million people died of it. What caused this impressive decline in the number of deaths? Global vaccination programs. As a result of these programs, the disease was practically eliminated from the Americas, and most of Europe, by 2016.
But now the number of registered outbreaks increases across Europe. Why? Because people are idiots.
Continue reading "Don’t Speculate. Vaccinate!"
It’s March 1, and time for some new one-liners. This time, it’s a nice mix of one-liners that should make you think and laugh.
- “Of those who say nothing, few are silent.” — Thomas Neil
- “A wise man talks because he has something to say; a fool talks because he has to say something.” — Plato
- “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.” — Nikita Khrushchev
- “I’d rather be vaguely right than precisely wrong.” — John Maynard Keynes
- Be a voice, not an echo.
- “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” — Charles Kettering
- Throwing acid is wrong, in some people’s eyes.
- The first time I got a universal remote control I thought to myself, “this changes everything”.
- I recently decided to sell my vacuum cleaner as all it was doing was gathering dust.
- Don’t you hate it when someone answers their own questions? I do.
- “My name is Fin, which means it’s very hard for me to end emails without sounding pretentious.” — Fin Taylor
- I, for one, like Roman numerals.
- Retirement is wonderful. It’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught.
- Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much more for them.
I’m not a professional writer. But I’ve got some experience with it. After all, I wrote an A+ essay back in junior high, which pretty much makes me an expert on the subject in internet terms. So here is my guide to joyful writing.
This guide is not primarily about joyful writing in the sense that your readers will enjoy themselves. It’s more about how you, as the writer, can enjoy what you’re doing. I’ve kept this site alive for 18-ish years now, and I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. The guide probably won’t make you a better writer, though, because in that field I’ve got little to teach.
But it doesn’t matter much that you suck at writing as long as you love doing it.
Everything I write these days is published on this site, which is powered by WordPress. So when it comes to the tools of the trade, WordPress will be the main focus. You should, however, be able to apply everything else in the guide to your writing, regardless of the tools you’re normally using.
So without further ado, here’s the guide everyone’s talking about:
Continue reading "The Amateur’s Guide to Joyful Writing."
Are you ready for another personal story of a birth with Too Much Information written all over it? If not, you should bail out now. But if you are indeed ready, you’re more than welcome to continue reading.
Let’s turn back the clock to the middle of May last year. We’re closing in on the due date of our second born, Hedda. We’re also fast approaching the 3 year mark of the birth of her big sister, Vilde. Anniken was getting pretty nervous, not because of the upcoming birth, but because our second child might be born on the same date as the first. Sharing birthdays? What a nightmare! But thankfully, that faithful Sunday came and went.
Hedda had the common decency to wait a day, and Anniken didn’t go into labor until early Monday morning. Or at least it was labor-ish. The contractions were semi-regular, and not particularly intense. Still, we decided to head for the hospital to beat the morning rush hour traffic. It’s not uncommon that the second birth happens a lot faster than the first when it starts, and none of us were particularly happy about the thought of getting the baby on the freeway.
But as it turned out, you don’t simply beat rush hour traffic. It started way earlier than we thought. The scheduled one hour ride to the hospital took a little longer, but we were still only two people in the car when we got there. At the hospital, they did some routine checks, and we were given the all clear. Then followed hours upon hours of eating well, staying hydrated, and walking around the hospital. The contractions continued, but they didn’t become regular, neither in frequency nor length.
Continue reading "Birth Two Point Oh."