Thursday 8 December, 2022

Happy Birthday, Transistor

The transistor, the building block of the digital age, was invented 75 years ago this month.

Image from the issue of the IEEE Spectrum magazine celebrating the anniversary.

Quote of the Day

”Humour is emotional chaos remembered in tranquillity.”

  • James Thurber

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Humphrey Lyttelton | Bad Penny Blues


With a great intro. Many thanks to John Darch for suggesting it.

Long Read of the Day

 What if failure is the plan?

The inimitable danah boyd on Twitter’s ongoing crisis.

Nearly everyone I talk with is surprised that the actual service of Twitter is mostly still working. What that says to me is that the engineering team was far more solid than I appreciated. Any engineering team worth its salt is going to build redundancy and resilience into the system. Exceptions that are thrown should be caught and managed. But that doesn’t mean that a system can persist indefinitely without maintenance and repair.

Think of it in terms of a house. If you walk away from your home for a while, the pipes will probably keep working fine on their own. Until a big freeze comes. And then, if no one is looking, they’ll burst, flood the house, and trigger failure after failure. The reason for doing maintenance is to minimize the likelihood of this event. And the reason to have contingencies built in is to prevent a problem from rippling across the system.

What happens when Twitter’s code needs to be tweaked to manage an iOS upgrade? Or if a library dependency goes poof? What happens when a security vulnerability isn’t patched?

Interesting and wide-ranging piece by one of the world’s leading experts on social media.

Why you won’t find much ‘free speech’ about China on Musk’s Twitter

Tesla is the only substantial American company to continue in China. Amazon, Google, Best Buy, Uber, LinkedIn, Macy’s and eBAY have all exited with tails between legs. Apple is desperately trying to move production of iPhones to somewhere else. But Tesla stays.

Why? Because the company sells $16 billion-worth of cars a year in the country. And it’s in too deep to pull the plug. Its Shanghai plant, which the FT says can turn out around a million cars a year, is too big to abandon.

In the meantime, the Chinese regime is suspicious about Tesla cars, which are barred from military complexes and other ‘sensitive’ areas due to ‘security’ concerns. And military staff and employees of key state-owned companies are restricted from using Teslas.

All of which means that if Musk allows critical tweeting about Xi Jinping et al on his platform then he can expect trouble.

Being a sensible chap, he will avoid that possibility.

My commonplace booklet

Because of my newspaper column I receive an astonishing number of PR pitches every day. Sometimes, they make me wonder if the people who write them have any idea of the implications of the tech ideas they are pushing.

Yesterday’s email contained a pitch for an outfit called ZHIYUN entitled 9 must-try tips to improve your TikTok videos. One of these tips runs as follows:

Set the tone, mood and atmosphere with lighting

Lighting is an essential aspect of producing a successful video. TikToker Christian Shay mentioned that lighting is very important, so choose what works best for you. Use proper light control and manipulation for texture, the vibrancy of colour, and luminosity of your subjects.

A handy tool to help you out with your lighting is the ZHIYUN FIVERAY F100 light stick, a portable photography tool with six different lighting effects including fire, faulty bulb, and candle, allowing you to create ambiance and illuminate your subject, day or night.

Clearly, the PR flack who sent me this doesn’t know what I think about TikTok. But then, why should s/he?

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