The Big Four Oh.

Yes, yesterday was the day. I’m now in my forties.

When I turned 30, I also wrote a post, appropriately titled “The Big Three Oh“. It contains a few bullet points summarizing my universe at the time:

  • I’m still enjoying playing video and computer games.
  • Getting kids is still a very distant idea.
  • I don’t want to buy a motorcycle yet. But maybe that’s what men do when they get to 40, not 30.
  • Marriage is right up there with the whole kids thing.
  • Politicians still confuse me.

10 years later, a lot of things have definitely changed, while other things haven’t changed a bit. The revised lists goes like this:

  • I still enjoy playing video and computer games, although it’s been ages since I turned on my PS3 for gaming. It’s mostly being used for movies now, and notice that I never made the jump to PS4. These days, it’s PC gaming all the way. I play much less than I did 10 years ago, though.
  • I’ve got two kids now!
  • I don’t want to buy a motorcycle yet. Maybe that’s what men do when they get to 50, not 40.
  • I’m actually married! Who would’ve thunk it? Not this guy.
  • I’ve pretty much given up on politics. Lately, it’s been an unbelievable mess, both at home and abroad.

So there you have it. Quite a lot has happened during the last 10 years. As I’m now entering the half-way point in life1, I’m in reasonably good health both physically and mentally, have no real worries, exercise semi-regularly, sleep well at night, and have a loving family.

What more can a scrawny guy with a rapidly receding hairline ask for? Nothing.

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Self-Driving Cars Must Be Banned Now!

Or perhaps not?

People have gotten themselves killed by Tesla autopilot for quite some time. The first known fatal incident happened in 2016, when a Tesla Model S with the autopilot engaged slammed into a 18-wheel tractor-trailer. The autopilot didn’t notice the white side of the crossing tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, and the brakes were never engaged. The Tesla went so fast the roof of the car was cut off, and the vehicle didn’t come to a stop until it snapped a telephone pole a quarter-mile down the road. The driver in this particular accident was watching a Harry Potter DVD while driving.

Now self-driving cars have taken it to the next level, and are killing not only their drivers, but also unsuspecting pedestrians. On March 18, a woman crossing the road with her bicycle in Tempe, Arizona, was struck by a self-driving car operated by Uber. She was taken to the hospital, where she later died from her injuries.

Uber has naturally pulled all their self-driving cars off the road after the accident. Not surprisingly, many people are now calling for all autonomous vehicles to be removed from public roads until the cause of the Uber crash has been found. Other’s are demanding that the whole idea of a self-driving car being banned and buried.

Crying out for a ban is often the knee-jerk reaction when something new and scary goes awry. But it’s not necessarily the rational thing to do.

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You Might Be Helping Pentagon Train Killer Drones.

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.

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Don’t Speculate. Vaccinate!

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.

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The Amateur’s Guide to Joyful Writing.

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:

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