1. 3

    I wonder how much of this can be prescribed to web developers being lazy, or for whatever other reason not wanting to host the JS code on their own servers? Because it should be obvious, no matter what the downsides are, just adding a <script src="..."> to the head, is pretty easy.

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      adding a <script src="..."> to the head

      Tip: if you’re writing script elements without an async or defer attribute, add them to the bottom of body rather than to the head. When browsers parse HTML, as soon as they find a script element with neither of those attributes, they pause parsing the rest of the page in order to parse and execute that script. So if the script is in the head, that means users will have to wait longer to see the body.

      Another disadvantage of scripts in the head is that they break if they refer to an element on the page without waiting for the DOMContentLoaded element. This problem can also be solved by adding the defer attribute.

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        Sorry, but how is that related to what I’m saying? :/

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          You said web devs should add a script tag to the head. I found useful the reply detailing why that isn’t best practice.

          1. 1

            My point was that it’s easer to just reference a CDN (along the lines of what @pbsds also said), than to host it yourself, which was a point that the article didn’t seem to comment on. Where specifically the script tag is added is unrelated, as far as I understand what @royokane wanted to say.

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              My comment wasn’t meant to refute or support your main point. I just wanted to highlight a best practice that you, and perhaps other people, didn’t know of.

      2. 3

        I just don’t want to run npm or store the minified bundles in my repos

        1. 2

          Nothing wrong with being lazy :-) I think it all depends on what you’re using it for. When I create a “serious” website I almost always self-host everything; but sometimes I create simple static (sometimes temporary) websites that consist of just a single HTML page, and I don’t really see a problem with being lazy and using a CDN or Google fonts or whatnot in those cases.

          But external JS on your payments page? Yeah, that’s just stupid. Years ago I found that a server admin tool did the same on their backend interface where you could manage your entire server. This was 6 years ago, so hopefully it’s better now (I’m not 100% sure which one it was, only 90% sure, so I’d prefer to avoid name-and-shaming it since I might name the wrong one).

        1. 4

          I think there’s an easier proof that Knuth-Yao: from state S1 there are four possible 2-flip sequences: TT, TH, HT, HH. But HH just brings us back to S2, so only three of the sequences lead to unique states, and they’re all terminating. So each of them has probability 1/3 from S2, and we have a probability 1/2 of reaching S2 for a total prob of 1/6.

          1. 2

            Oh yeah actually, that makes sense. You just kind of throw away the HH flips; hadn’t considered it that way. Actually really similar to Von Neumann’s method for getting a fair coin from a biased coin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_coin#Fair_results_from_a_biased_coin

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            OK, so with bitcoin, banks can’t just remove money from your account at their own discretion. But does this really happen?

            It happened to me, and when it happens it really leaves you with a weird feeling.

            So this is how it happened to me: I have a few different bank accounts. It was the end of the tax season and I made the payment for my income tax. The trouble was - for some reason the payment wasn’t registered with the tax inspection institution (maybe because I made the transfer from my other account, who knows, but it happened). So the next day after the deadline, I go to do some shopping and at the cashier - I cannot pay. Not enough funds. I go back home - and my balance is negative. Any money I put into the account is immediately sent to cover the taxes (which I already paid from a different bank).

            I had to write a complaint in order to sort this out, and it succeeded, I got everything back after a few days when they traced the payment I made from that different bank. But it is a very unpleasant experience. The bank allowed some institution to access my bank account and even charge it below zero, with no warning. And all because of an error on their part.

            I can only imagine what the people who acquire fines that they cannot pay have to go through.

            1. 8

              I had to write a complaint in order to sort this out, and it succeeded, I got everything back after a few days when they traced the payment I made from that different bank.

              ok sure but if that was all on a blockchain, the erroneous transactions could not have been reversed. I guess I’m not really sure why this counts as a spooky story about non-blockchain systems.

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                Blockchains don’t allow “pull” transactions, only “push” ones. Also in the parent’s story, the transaction was presumably “reversed” by the entity issuing a refund.

                1. 2

                  Maybe I made some things unclear.

                  First - I am not really defending blockchain things from criticism. Also not trying to spook non-blockchain systems. Simply providing one counterpoint to one argument that author made. In my experience banks can take money from your account and even give access to third party (mostly government) agencies to do what they wish.

                  Second - in my case the transaction was not erroneous. It was correct, except the tax agency didn’t count it in. I think mainly because I sent it from a different bank account than the one I entered in their system. So really there was nothing to reverse.

                  Third - I do think that blockchain, as a technology, has (or had) the potential to provide financial transaction services for the little guy, out of reach of banks, corporations, and big government. Wether or not that is still feasible I have no idea, since I never owned any bitcoin or really any other crypto currency.

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                The desk seems a bit spendy to me. I noticed that once I became accustomed to standing, I rarely felt the need to sit down, so spending more on an motorized sit/stand solution seems … extravagant. I agree that wobbly desks suck, however even with the cheap desks that I’ve had (e.g., IKEA handcranked) I’ve not found this to be an issue.

                The keyboard thing I take issue with though. Ergodox has basically ruined me for any other keyboard. I’d rather put more of my money there than in a high or even moderately priced desk.

                I’d also recommend a single big monitor to a dual setup. I’m not a fan of the ultra wide monitors, but I also prefer them to duals. At the moment I’ve got an LG 43 and wouldn’t go back.

                1. 1

                  It’s pretty ironic that he goes straight from “don’t spend money on stuff you don’t need” to “I have a standing desk with motorized control to adjust the height” isn’t it…

                  1. 1

                    I wanted a standing desk, as I’ve used them for years at Microsoft and enjoyed them greatly. You can get standing desks with cranks but I know myself well enough to know I would just be lazy and never adjust it up to standing height if I had one. You can, of course, purchase motorized adjustable standing desks for cheaper - but not by a ton.

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                  Nice setup.

                  1. I really advice against the side by side monitors. There problem is, your going to have your main app open in one monitor at a time so your going to be turning your neck for hours at a time. Suggest either stacking it going with a single large monitor. I got a Dell 43” 4k monitor for $700 ish. I previously had a single 32” ultra wide, which as the author mentioned is too short. Then a friend sold me his and I stacked them. That was ok but made me standing desk hard to use in standing mode.

                  I like the single monitors with a window management app. I’d love this setup now if I could get it in a curved version and a higher resolution for sharper text, but otherwise it’s amazing.

                  1. I’m always amazed that people are so hesitant to spend money on their work tools. They are tax-deductible but more importantly, they are in investment in your long term health and happiness. It’s one of the biggest advantages of working from home. Your don’t have to use the cheap crap your employer provides.

                  It’s doubly amazing because many in this situation are making $100k (possibly multiples of that). Also do many people have some crazy expensive bike,car,boat,guitars, home theater, etc that’s only used a few hours a week.

                  I know it’s tempting to cheap out, but 30,40,50 year old you will thank you.

                  That’s my PSA if the day.

                  1. 3

                    Shouldn’t have read this. The night just got expensive.

                    1. 3

                      turning your neck for hours at a time. Suggest either stacking it going with a single large monitor.

                      So you should be looking up for hours at a time?

                      1. 1

                        The distance between the center of two widescreen monitors is much smaller when stacked than when side-by-side. And of course that’s not true of landscape or square monitors. Not ALL stacked monitors are ergonomically arranged but you can reduce neck movement by stacking.

                        1. 4

                          I don’t know if it’s just about distance. I find the vertical angle matters much more than the horizontal angle. For example, I find laptops difficult to use for long periods because my neck gets sore looking down all the time, instead of looking straight ahead. However, I don’t have any problems with horizontal monitors.

                      2. 1

                        That’s a good point about the dual monitors. I’m considering having one facing flat forward, and another angled off to the side. I’d probably have to sit off to one side of my desk but that’s not too concerning.

                        I get your point about spending money on work tools, which might fall in the same category as what people say about beds & shoes. I do worry this attitude if adopted too enthusiastically can dull judgement about whether a given tool is really necessary - for example a gas-spring monitor stand instead of a basic one or an Ergodox instead of Goldtouch keyboard (although I admit being tempted by the Kinesis Advantage2 from seeing all the people who swear by it). With the way our society is set up it is often very difficult to determine (even within our own heads) whether something expensive is a reasonable purchase that supports good craftsmanship, or just a flex.

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                          Consider rotating one of the screens. I sit straight down the middle for the landscape screen, then have the portrait screen to my right.

                          I’m pretty sensitive to shitty ergonomic setups, and this causes me no problems at all.

                          1. 2

                            I do this too. The only problem is that 16:9 screens reeally don’t like being in portrait. I have a 24” 16:9 screen to the left of the primary screen used mostly for web browsing, and it’s really common for websites to grow a combination of horizontal scroll bars and buttons with text extending outside of their bounds.

                            1. 1

                              Hah, yeah I got the last 16:10 that dell sold a few years ago and just picked up a partner for it, and having them side-by-side vertically is great, but I would be loathe to throw away 10% of that space.

                            2. 2

                              This is my setup too. Looks dorky, works great.

                              1. 1

                                That’s a neat idea, I think I’ll try that!

                              2. 2

                                The main point is this: every single person I’ve had a discussion on buying quality tools for work and had an objection to spending money also had some expensive hobby they were willing to splurge on. (I’m sure not everyone is like this, just seemed the people with the strongest objection had other money sinks). Is just a matter of logical consistently. They might have $25k of bike equipment in the garage but get upity about spending $500 on good equipment. That’s why this is one of my hot button issues. A course of physical therapy is going to cost more than decent equipment.

                                My old equipment always finds it way to friends and family and tends to get years of useful life beyond me.

                                1. 2

                                  There’s nothing logically inconsistent about spending money in some places and saving it in others. “I spent a bunch of money on thing X, so I should also spend a lot of money on thing Y” sounds more like sales tactic psychology than logical reasoning. You can easily get good enough ergonomic equipment to keep the PT away without spending much money. A $20 used Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard, a $25 Anker vertical mouse… even monitor stands can be replaced with a stack of old technical manuals. A good chair is really the only thing I’d say you need, and you can get a good-enough used Costco model for like $60.

                                  1. 1

                                    It is if a) this is the way you make your living and b) you are oddly cheap in this area but spend big money on things you use way less. That’s the point in trying to make and I still find the behavior quite baffling.

                                    Invest in yourself and your health.

                                    I’m not trying to sell you a standing desk.

                                    1. 1

                                      a stack of old technical manuals

                                      To be fair, these are harder and harder to find. Same goes for phone books…

                                  2. 2

                                    All decisions come with error bars. Fall on one side, you have a flex; fall on the other, you are performing worse at work than you could be.

                                    I know which side I’m happier to land on.

                                    1. 1

                                      That’s a good point about the dual monitors. I’m considering having one facing flat forward, and another angled off to the side. I’d probably have to sit off to one side of my desk but that’s not too concerning.

                                      At work with a two monitors set-up, I tended to have my main one in front of me flat and the other angled on the left. Not being in the centre of the desk allowed me to have a notebook and pen on the left of the mouse that I can reach for quick notes and having a space not in front of the main screen for thinking with reasonable space to use the notebook.

                                    2. 1

                                      Could not agree more with this! Many of my colleagues think I’m crazy for sticking to one monitor but I find it not only saves my kneck but also helps keep focus.

                                    1. 1

                                      Something like 5 years ago I transitioned to standing desks, and I really haven’t used a work chair since. Other than the rare times when there’s something wrong with my legs, sitting is now for resting and eating. I’m not absolutely certain if standing so much is that good for the body either, but it’s probably quite a lot better than sitting down all the time.

                                      1. 1

                                        That’s interesting, I can probably stand for at most an hour or two before it becomes uncomfortable in my lower back and sitting is preferable for a while. How long did it take you to adjust to full-time standing?

                                        1. 1

                                          Perhaps half a year to a year. I was doing a martial art that had lots of leg techniques at the time, so that probably helped me there. Any other aerobic leg muscle workout would probably be as beneficial.

                                          edit now that I think about it, I wasn’t actually trying to transition to full-time standing. Just over time I felt less and less comfortable with sitting and eventually when I switched offices, I just kinda forgot to pick a chair and that was it. Also, I do sit down for a few minutes every now and then.

                                      1. 1

                                        You seem to have some kind of stand for your computer on the floor. What is it?

                                        1. 1

                                          And why, if I may ask

                                          1. 3

                                            Just a cheap tower riser stand to keep my computer off the carpet and so improve airflow/reduce dust. Also gives me slightly more footroom.

                                        1. 4

                                          Looks great! I would do one thing differently: The sit/stand rising desk.

                                          Instead of $835 from Uplift, get the adjustable leg frame from Monoprice for $350 (or Primecables for $379 CAD if you’re Canadian). There are even cheaper models if you don’t want memory buttons or prefer hand-cranked. Even if you go with the cheapest variant, the quality of life is definitely worth it–even for just being able to make fine adjustments while seated (though I do enjoy standing a few hours per day).

                                          I have the Primecables one with a $69 IKEA top and it’s fantastic.

                                          1. 1

                                            How stable are they near the top of their range? I’ll admit to not shopping around for a standing desk as much as I should have, just took a few peoples’ recommendations for Uplift (they all worked for big tech companies which should have been a warning sign lol)

                                            1. 1

                                              As stable as I can imagine it being. My office has broadloom carpeting right now so it took a few days for it to “sink” in low enough for full stability, but I suspect on normal flooring it would be maximum stable.

                                              The construction itself is very high quality and very sturdy. It’s decently heavy so it’s nice that each leg has its own motor. The footing design itself is very similar to what you’ll find from Uplift etc.

                                              I’m certain you won’t regret Uplift, but it’s easier to recommend a cheaper option for other people who might be more on the fence. :)

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                                            I am currently thinking of investing in an ultra wide monitor for my work from home office: a completely different direction than what is described in this article. I basically want more space at the expense of the pixel density.

                                            As I am getting older, I enjoy a lot more a clean layout and clean desk. It is most certainly subjective but minimalism brings me joy.

                                            As such, I am excited by the new LG lineup; their 34” and 38” are now good compromises for gamers and software developers. I happen to be both!

                                            1. 6

                                              I’ve been using a 34” ultra-wide display with 3440x1440 pixels for… (checks) my goodness! Almost 5 years now. I’ve tried various multi-monitor setups but using this one display seems to be the sweet spot for most of what I do. The 38” 3840x1600 displays seem to have a similar pixel size (110 dpi vs 109?) so would probably be even better, though they weren’t as readily available at the time I bought this one. I believe these days you can even get 5120x1440 monsters?

                                              For testing purposes, I’ve also got an LG 27” UHD 4K display. (~163 dpi) I can’t get on with this as a primary display with macOS. At native retina resolution (“looks like 1920x1080”) everything seems huge and I’m constantly fighting with the lack of screen real estate. And as the article says, at native 1:1 resolution, everything is too tiny, and the scaled modes are blurry. So I’m going to dissent on the advice of going for a 27” 4k. The ultra-wide 5120x2160 displays have the same pixel pixel size so I’d imagine I’d have similar problems with those, though the bit of extra real estate probably would help.

                                              Don’t get me wrong, I like high resolutions. But I think for this to work with raster based UI toolkits such as Apple’s, you basically have to go for around 200 dpi or higher. And there’s very little available on the market in that area right now:

                                              I can find a few 24” 4K displays which come in at around 185dpi. That wouldn’t solve the real estate issue, but perhaps a multi-monitor setup would work. But then you’ve got to deal with the bezel gap etc. again, and each display only showing 1080pt in the narrow dimension still seems like it might be a bit tight even when you can move windows to the other display.

                                              Above 200dpi, there are:

                                              • The LG Ultrafine 5K. Famously beset with problems, plus only works at 5K with Thunderbolt 3 inputs, and can’t switch inputs.
                                              • Dell UltraSharp UP3218K. This is an 8K (!) display at 31.5”. So it actually comes in at around 280dpi, plus of course it costs over 3 grand. I mean I’d be happy to give it a try… (I suspect I’d have to use an eGPU to drive it from my Mac Mini though - what the article’s author fails to realise is that DisplayPort 1.4 support depends primarily on the GPU, not port type, and to date I believe Intel GPUs only go up to DP 1.2.)
                                              • ASUS ProArt PQ22UC. Only 4K, but higher pixel density as the panel is only 21.6”. 4 grand though! I’m guessing this has awesome colour reproduction, but that’s wasted on me, so if I was to experiment with 4K displays, I’d go for the 24” ones which cost an order of magnitude less.
                                              • Apple’s Pro Display XDR. At 6K and 216dpi, I’m sure this one is lovely, but I don’t think it’s worth the price tag to me, particularly as it once again can’t seem to switch between inputs.

                                              That seems to be it? I unfortunately didn’t seize the opportunity a few years ago when Dell, HP, and Iiyama offered 5K 27” displays.

                                              Now, perhaps 27” 4K displays work better in other windowing systems. I’ve briefly tried mine in Windows 10 and wasn’t super impressed. (I really only use that OS for games though) It didn’t look great in KDE a few years ago, but to be fair I didn’t attempt any fine tweaking of toolkit settings. So for now I’m sticking with ~110dpi; I’ve got a 27” 2560x1440 display for gaming, the aforementioned 3440x1440 for work, and the 4K 27” for testing and occasional photo editing.

                                              I’m sure 27” at 4K is also great for people with slightly poorer vision than mine. Offloading my 27” 4K onto my dad when he next upgrades his computer would give me a good excuse to replace it with something that suits me better. Maybe my next side project actually starts making some money and I can give that 8K monitor a try and report back.

                                              Another thing to be careful with: high-speed displays aren’t necessarily good. At the advertised 144Hz, my Samsung HDR gaming display shows terrible ghosting. At 100Hz it’s OK, though I would still not recommend this specific display.

                                              (Now, don’t get me started on display OSDs; as far as I can tell, they’re all awful. If I were more of a hardware hacker I’d probably try to hack my displays’ firmware to fix their universally horrible OSD UX. Of course Apple cops out of this by not having important features like input switching in their displays and letting users control only brightness, which can be done from the OS via DDC.)

                                              1. 1

                                                I switched from a single LG 27” 4k monitor to two LG 24” 4k monitors for around $300/each. I’m happy with the change. Looking forward to the introduction of a 4k ultrawide to eliminate the bezel gap in the middle; currently all such ultrawides are 1440p.

                                              2. 1

                                                The 34WK95U-W is a high-DPI ultrawide with good color reproduction. It has temporary burn-in problems but I’ve been using two (stacked) for a year and overall I’m happy with them.

                                                They aren’t high refresh though (60hz).

                                              1. 2

                                                At work: finishing up the last week or so of work as a full time employee, then going freelance consulting. Risky economic environment but I have a good cash cushion.

                                                At home: writing a language grammar in tree-sitter, which is a parser/lexer designed for use in editors. It has a focus on parsing error recovery, incremental re-parsing, and speed. It was originally created just for better syntax highlighting but it looks like you can use it as the foundation of a full language server. I’ve never written a parser or compiler or anything like that before, it’s a lot of fun!

                                                1. 2

                                                  I’ve done most of the exercises in Logical Foundations (in Coq), and quite enjoyed the process. However:

                                                  I believe learning Lean has brought great clarity to my understanding of mathematical proofs. In a way it’s like the perfect scratch pad, focusing your mind on the goal while keeping track of all your assumptions and checking your thinking.

                                                  I can’t say I share this few. In my experience, mechanized proofs are overly verbose and at times more difficult than informal proofs (you can’t prove by contradiction, nor assume the principle of excluded middle; there’s some hoops to jump through!). In particular, while the proof in the article is certainly correct, it could quite easily be informally proven using geometric intuition.

                                                  Further (and the authors of LF caution against this), it’s easy to get caught up in the mechanical details of the proof, and hammer away at the keyboard transforming your goal until finally you get something that works. This approach does not at all elucidate the actual high-level reasoning behind the proof, neither to the creator of the proof, nor to others.

                                                  Either way, nice article! I’d look into the code highlighter; it seems like it treats multiplication as a comment delimiter :D

                                                  1. 2

                                                    I think for me mechanized proofs really scratch my desire to have each transformation documented & checked… but I could see that getting annoying after a while! I agree with you there have been times where I’ve been lost in the middle of a more complicated proof, churning away without really thinking about what I’m doing. Translating existing informal proofs into formal language is a skill I still need to learn - lot of it is just inability to translate many handwavy proof constructs into Lean. For example, I think it would probably be difficult for me to translate the informal proof given at the start of the blog post into Lean.

                                                    I’ve talked with Leslie Lamport about Lean and he generally dislikes it (and interactive provers in general); he has an idea about how proofs should look, hierarchical in nature so you can see the high-level steps then recursively expand the proof steps to see all the lower-level proofs of those steps. Supposedly something like this is implemented in TLAPS (the TLA+ Proof System) but I haven’t yet managed to learn it.

                                                    Thanks for the tip about the code highlighter!

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                                                    I’ve been reading The Age of Surveillance Capitalism lately and would recommend it to anyone interested in this topic. So far, my main takeaway is that privacy is not a good framing of the problem: technologies like differential privacy and federated learning [0] neutralize any practical privacy-related objection. The author argues that the core issue is non-consensual behavior modification by organizations whose motives are inscrutable to us. This framing also has the benefit of preserving space for some positive applications which require giving up privacy (example: access to population medical data) for some benefit.

                                                    Cynical readers might think - well, behavior modification doesn’t really apply to me. I’m an independent thinker! Here we must each of us be humble and admit we are not immune to propaganda. Behavior modification (most commonly encountered in advertising) works on all of us. It is a travesty that these companies put us under total surveillance then see fit to play with our thoughts. A stronger society would crush this business model, and my respect for those who lend it their labor shrinks every day.

                                                    [0] https://federated.withgoogle.com/

                                                    1. 5

                                                      That’s the thing: I don’t really want to go back to the era of untargeted ads. It wasn’t fundamentally better for consumers. It ads unecessary costs to the products and services I do want to buy.

                                                      And I don’t have a fundamental problem with behavior modification, either. I just want the modifications to improve my life, rather than degrade it.

                                                      And from this perspective, it’s unclear to me how legislation/regulation can really improve the situation.

                                                      1. 6

                                                        That’s the thing: I don’t really want to go back to the era of untargeted ads. It wasn’t fundamentally better for consumers. It ads unecessary costs to the products and services I do want to buy.

                                                        What is bad about untargeted ads? Do you have any sources to back up the claim that untargeted ads are costlier overall? Some of the best ads I’ve seen were untargeted. For example advertisements for electrical engineering jobs and electronic components in a booklet about the latest developments in electronics. This actually makes sense because it’s contextually targeted - but no individual person was tracked - and if I’m in the mood to read about electronics, I’m much more open to advertisements on this subject. This is how you advertise properly. Whereas, with the modern web, they somehow know that you have a baby so now the tech news website is plastered with diaper ads. In whose world is that acceptable, let alone better? I think targeted ads are creepy and need to vanish from our lives.

                                                        1. 1

                                                          Fair point. I would consider that targeted, but it shows you don’t need to collect user info in order to target.

                                                          But then there’s services like Instagram, where I’ve seen multiple ads that I was interested in for art and clothes. Those were likely targeted, at minimum, on my being a male (at least some of them).

                                                          I’m not fundamentally against regulation requiring transparancey and opt-in, but there’s a cost to those regulations: it makes it much harder for small business to get started and compete against the big guys. Regulation burdens are bad for entrepreneurship.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            Is that because small businesses rely on targeted ads to reach a customer base, whereas the “big guys” already have name recognition?

                                                            On the other hand, the really small guys may not have the resources to purchase targeted ads, and are at a disadvantage compared to big companies or well-funded startups who can afford targeted ads. Regulating targeted ads might make it easier for the small companies that aren’t buying ads anyway.

                                                        2. 3

                                                          I just want the modifications to improve my life, rather than degrade it.

                                                          The issue is that these firms aren’t testing whether modifications improve or degrade, only if they are profitable. Selling more sugar water and luxury cars isn’t meant to make me better or worse.

                                                          I also don’t think “targeted” ads are any better for me than the old days of stuff blasted on tv and newspapers. I can’t think of how I’ve found an item faster or acquired a higher quality item.

                                                          I do have countless examples of how some family member reshared some garbage post that was targeted to them.

                                                          1. 1

                                                            The issue is that these firms aren’t testing whether modifications improve or degrade, only if they are profitable. Selling more sugar water and luxury cars isn’t meant to make me better or worse.

                                                            I totally agree. My point was that I don’t see how regulation is going to help with that. What’s needed is a cultural shift.

                                                            1. 1

                                                              A cultural shift will never happen when these companies are paying heaps of money to armies of smart people to get us more & more engaged (addicted) to their services. People even recognize it as a problem in their lives and still struggle to disengage! No, legislation needs to come in and destroy these companies.

                                                              1. 1

                                                                No, legislation needs to come in and destroy these companies.

                                                                Why? Wielding what hammer?

                                                          2. 1

                                                            Nobody can argue with your personal opinion, but you’re in a unique position because you’re aware of what’s going on (to some extent) and approve of it.

                                                            A lot of people don’t realize how much data Google captures about them, have no idea how that data’s used, and don’t know how Google makes money with it. They don’t even know Google’s invading their privacy, so how can they agree or disagree to it? Google certainly isn’t transparent about it, and there’s no oversight to make sure what little they say is actually true.

                                                            Nobody is saying Google can’t offer free stuff in exchange for private information, just that they need to be up front about it so users can make informed decisions.

                                                            Personally, I don’t approve of any advertising (targetted or not) or data collection, even if it means I can’t use things like YouTube, Facebook, etc. and that I pay for things like email.

                                                        1. 5

                                                          I have to say, reading this post was pretty cathartic; about five years ago I brought up the general idea (classifying encrypted images) to a software engineer friend of mine over drinks and he became extremely agitated that it was simply impossible on a mathematical level. Started condescending to me that I didn’t understand encryption and all that. Truly an immensely frustrating experience which damaged my enthusiasm for interacting with other software engineers in general.

                                                          Software engineers like to put themselves in the shoes of the expert tasked by idiots with drawing seven mutually perpendicular lines[0], but really they’ve just never considered spaces with more than two dimensions.

                                                          [0] https://youtu.be/BKorP55Aqvg

                                                          1. 3

                                                            Your friend is wrong that it is mathematically impossible. I’m not terribly surprised that they didn’t know about homomorphic encryption, or that they didn’t know that they didn’t know ;)

                                                            I studied it a little, but the takeaway was that this was interesting but currently useless, like quantum computing.

                                                            That may be changing, though: https://juliacomputing.com/blog/2019/11/22/encrypted-machine-learning.html

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                                                              You may have seen (D. Scott Williamson, Expert)[0]. This is very much what this comment reminds me of. Many experts are somewhat expert, but really have not gone all that deep or wide, especially in software engineering.

                                                              [0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7MIJP90biM

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                                                              Starting to read through the Feynman lectures on physics, plus exercises; I got the first volume from the library to see whether it’ll stick. Exploring whether my love of physics can be rekindled enough to consider grad school.

                                                              Also phone banking for my preferred presidential candidate (Bernie). I thought it would be a slog but I tried it today and turned out to be quite addicting; conversing directly with people across the country, via voice, is so much more fulfilling than reading all the yelling on twitter. Especially in the states which haven’t yet been carpet-bombed with phone calls.

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                                                                One “resource contention” I’ve definitely seen inside bigco is integrating with an internal service. Often the documentation & samples are incredibly half-assed or outdated. The onboarding process is thus getting someone sufficiently far up your management chain to talk to someone sufficiently far up their management chain to convince them to assign one of their full-time employees to helping you get set up. Given that modern software development is mostly just about gluing services together, productivity slows to an absolute crawl (and morale craters because the whole thing is a boring slog).

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                                                                  Setting up an automated release pipeline for the Z3 SMT solver; includes stuff like assembly signing, nuget packaging, uploading release, etc. I usually find this sort of infrastructure work pretty boring but don’t mind doing it to help out with neat research projects; frees up the researchers to focus on more important things!

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                                                                    Always nice and inspiring to hear of someone voluntarily doing something kind of less glamorous but valuable for free software projects.

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                                                                    Thanks for writing this! Wondering if you’re planning a second part with a higher dimensional state, demonstrating entanglement or more sophisticated behaviour?

                                                                    Asiking since I feel like this particular example doesn’t answer yet “why bother using quantum computing for that”? In essence, here we just multiply initial state by the evolution matrix, which is a trivial task for classical computers (when the size isn’t exponential).

                                                                    For instance, when justifying use for Shor’s or Grover’s algorithm it’s easy to understand the speedup since the problems are fairly abstract and it’s clear how compexity grows with size. Wonder if in a similar manner, it’s possible to come up with some made-up system of N electrons (or other particles, if it would make Hamiltonian simpler/closer to reality), that would be relatively easy to solve analytically (or just reason about qualitatevely), but straighforward construction of Hamiltonian matrix would be infeasible? And then once could map the Hamiltonian onto quantum gates and that demonstrate that the results predicated by quantum computer match the analytical solution.

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                                                                      Glad you enjoyed it! I submitted another of my quantum-themed blog posts here: https://lobste.rs/s/ohmr6o/walking_faster_than_light_tightrope

                                                                      You’re correct that classical computers are perfectly capable of executing the simulation method described in the post, and indeed this is a simulation method used on classical computers in the real world. However, this method reaches its classical limit for systems with 40-50 atoms; beyond that other approximations must be used. Quantum computers would (theoretically) encounter no such limit, and could simulate systems scaling more or less linearly with the size of the quantum computer itself.

                                                                      It’s a common problem with introductory quantum computing presentations: by necessity they must be simple, and simplicity requires small problem sizes, so anything in an introductory presentation will be easily simulated by a classical computer. I suspect any presentation involving systems that would actually be difficult to execute on a classical computer would be extremely math-heavy (requiring dense notation to wrangle the large problem size) and thus have very limited appeal.

                                                                      Your idea of a problem which is easy to solve analytically might exist, I’ve heard things involving the Ising model are like this; I’ll have to ask my coworkers about it!

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                                                                        Yeah, and to be fair even something with, say 10 particles even if it’s possible to solve numerically by classical computer (e.g. if one just uses the 1024 x 1024 matrix, which is manageable for modern cpus), the solution would still be sort of blackboxy and hardly comprehendible for a human (at least, to the target audience who wants to learn why quantum simulations would be cool).

                                                                        That’s why I feel it’s important to have some pedagogical made up example/approximation that allows for some analytical solution and scales well with number of atoms/particles involved. I understand though that it might be harder than it seems (e.g. like in QFT where numerically simulating vacuum is a big achievent and still requires supercomputers). Would be interesting if with some tweaks or unphysical assumptions it was possible to simplify Hamiltonian and make it tractable, just for the sake of demonstrating quantum advantage :)

                                                                        Oh, cool, Ising model was on my reading list for a while; should bump it up. Thanks!

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                                                                          Was also discussing that with a coworker today and he wondered, perhaps known statistical properties of quantum systems would be a good candidate for demonstration?

                                                                          E.g. we know certain properties of Bose-Einstein condensates analytically and experimentally, now what if we try to infer these properties via ‘quantum brute force’, that is solving equations explicitly on quantum computer?

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                                                                        Unless there is something relevant about the link itself (such as wikipedia news article, commentary page, etc), I generally consider simply posting bare wikipedia links as “spammy” (more like “noise” but that isn’t a flag option).

                                                                        I would rather read an article/post/story about TLA+, than simply being given a link to the wikipedia entry about it.

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                                                                          At the time of submission I had just written the entire article from scratch.

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                                                                          Learning plans:

                                                                          • Learn more about physics, especially quantum physics, as preparation for possible grad school; I work with a bunch of physicists and all of them recommended the Feynman lectures while offering to answer questions.
                                                                          • Probabilistic model checking - use PRISM to verify bounds on probabilistic consensus protocols from the snowflake family.
                                                                          • Write a language server for a simple language (probably PRISM); I’ve never actually written a compiler before, so writing an incremental compiler that can gracefully handle malformed syntax while the user is typing should be interesting. I’ve heard about this thing called TreeSitter which is supposed to help.
                                                                          • trad climbing
                                                                          • Mandarin
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                                                                            I’m really aiming to get a blog running. I have a decent grasp of the topic I’d like to base my blog on, but I need to get past the paralysis of playing web-configuration-Lego.

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                                                                              I used gitlab pages with hugo and google domains, has been simple enough. Github pages are the same idea.

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                                                                                What @ahelwer said. Pick a static site generator and use whatever config pleased you that’s easy to plug in. Don’t over think it. You will never make 100% of people happy. Write what you want to write and do the best you can with presentation.

                                                                                I use Wordpress.com. That’s not a popular choice here because while I own my own data and make regular back-ups of all my posts, I don’t own the platform or the infrastructure, and that matters a lot to some people.