Saturday, December 30, 2017

Google should have done with the Nexus 6P what Apple is doing for iPhone batteries

You may or may not have seen the recent article Apple posted about the iPhones battery performance, and how they are offering battery repairs for $29 and updating iOS to include information about battery performance that will be visible to the user.

This is exactly what Google should have done with the Nexus 6P where there are loads of people who experienced random shutdowns where the device wouldn't reboot until it was plugged in (SOL if you are in an emergency and don't have a charger).

To be honest, this really puts Google to shame. With all the talk of how Google is an "AI" first company, they sure don't like to provide consumers with actually beneficial features, like reporting when the battery is under-performing physically.

What's the use of Doze, background throttling, app standby and all these optimisations if the physical cell itself is the issue? These changes don't magically fix the chemistry, and don't give consumers the knowledge if their battery is no longer performing as it should.

Hopefully we can use this to encourage Google this is a step in the right direction.

Alternatively, they could just remove the battery status indicator, because that seems the direction they're headed...

India inches closer to criminalizing Muslim practice of instant divorce

The practice allows a husband to divorce his wife by simply saying the Arabic word for divorce, "Talaq", three times.

Amit Shah, Modi's closest political ally and the President of his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, called the bill "a historic step towards ensuring dignity for Muslim women."

Asaduddin Owaisi, a prominent Muslim parliamentarian from the southern city of Hyderabad, claimed it was an attempt to demonize the entire Muslim community.

"My appeal is that this bill should not be seen through the eyes of political parties, religion or as a vote bank. This is for the honor of our sisters and our daughters. This is for their dignity and justice. I want to follow the legacy of this house by seeing that India stands up for its Muslim sisters and daughters. That if they don't have justice, this house will give them justice."

"This is a historic moment because of the destiny of our 90 million citizens. If there are 180 million Muslims in our country, there are 90 million Muslim women. Ninety million is not a small number, it is more than the population of Britain. Today, we are here for them," Akbar said in parliament.

India is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, but unlike most Muslim-majority countries, has been slow to ban triple talaq.

Friday, December 29, 2017

How Amazon Alexa Works ?

Disclaimer: I have several Internet friends who work for the Alexa division at Amazon, and much of the workings of the Alexa/Echo devices are public knowledge if you are a skills developer or connected home, etc. tech partner so I'm not really revealing any major secrets here.

"Amazon Alexa is what Siri is to Apple." 

The virtual assistant program can't be bought on it's own, but can be called upon when using Amazon devices, like an Echo, Dot, or Tap. It's now even compatible with some third party vendors. Alexa reportedly mimics conversations and analyzes voice commands. A list of handy tasks that the lifelike assistant can help you with. This includes "playing music," and controlling your vacuum to reading a Kindle book to you, paying your bills with an app and ordering pretty much anything you want online. '

The Echo units have two main "modes." The first is a small firmware chip wired to the microphone that only contains about 50-60k of onboard memory. Its only purpose is to listen to the wake word, "Alexa," "Echo," etc. It doesn't do any actual language processing for this, but only listens for distinct combinations of syllables. This is why they can't be programmed to respond to arbitrary words.

Once the firmware chip hears the wake word, it powers up the main ARM chip, which runs a stripped down version of Linux. This startup process takes just under a second, during which time the firmware chip has barely enough memory to buffer what you're saying if you immediately start talking after the wake word without pausing. Once the ARM chip is on, the blue ring on the top illuminates and recording begins. The firmware chip dumps its buffer to the start of the recording and then serves as a pass-through for the mic. Only this main ARM chip and OS has access to the networking interface, in or out.

The purpose of this next stage is to wait until it's heard what sounds like a real natural sentence or question. Amazon is not interested in background noise -- that would be a waste of bandwidth and resources. So there is a rudimentary natural language processing step done locally to determine when you've said a real sentence and stopped speaking. It also handles very simple "local" commands that don't need server processing, like "Alexa stop." Only at that point is the full sentence sent up to the actual AWS servers for processing.

It is physically impossible for the device to be secretly constantly listening, as the mic, networking, main wake chip, blue LED ring, and main ARM chip just aren't wired that way from a power perspective. If you are curious to confirm any of the above, try disconnecting your home internet and playing around with the Alexa a bit, and you'll see that it only even realizes something is wrong at that very last step, when it goes to upload the processed sentence to the servers.

As for the stories about "eerie" advertising coincidences popping up due to things you've said around Alexa, it just goes to show how spooky accurate advertisers' overall profiles are of you these days. They can track everything you have done across every device you own, and then make such educated guesses about what you're probably interested in that they don't even need to listen in your home.

Multiple Levels of Internet

Internet is like a skill tree there are multiple levels to it, here's my understanding of it...

Level 1: Google, Hotmail

Level 2: P***Hub, XN**, incognito mode, Gmail

Level 3: Wayback Machine, streaming sites

Level 4: Torrents, shift-tab, ctrl-tab, ctrl-shift-tab, ctrl all the things! hotkeys, firewalls, ports can be selectively enabled, disabled, triggered, forwarded, and monitored, MLG and Twitch, newsgroups, first stirrings of interest in furryporn and clop-clop

Level 5: Dark Web, using torrents to download cracked torrents, learning that Lolita = CP, and they aren't bluffing, access to crackerware, brute-force libraries, unnatural aversion to direct sunlight and increased appetite for sugary carbonated beverages, GBP freely exchanged for tendies..

Level 6: Cryptomining & custom Linux distros, seeding torrents, tingly sensation when MLP or TNG theme songs are played, Shrek is love

Level 7: btc mixers Whitehat/Blackhat for hire, wetworks for hire (dubious at best), auto killswitches for VPN lag, BIOS level deathswitch with mulifactor ID verification, odd obsession with watching unsecured webcams continues to grow, porn now exclusively 2D or VR

Level 8: Single use Tor & Onion sites, creation of dark web nodes, Silkroad clones, stripped TAILS, contact made with infamous hacker known only as "4chan" (air quotes required), admin user changed from root to root2, initial start up time is sub 5 seconds for an OS that supposedly never requires restart

Level 9: No hard drive USB OS, botnet utilization for IP obfuscation, custom made broad spectrum VPN's, energy drinks now a food group, taste in music skews to obscure "sounds" (for lack of a better word), traps aren't gay after all, rare memes become disturbingly important

Level 10: Stuxnet source code stored in encrypted USB and worn as necklace, ransomware deployment to Internet security firms for the lulz, CPU replaced with pre-2003 hardware to avoid boot level exploits courtesy of NSA/CIA, ironic T-shirts about Rick & Morty inexplicably appear without being ordered, renting botnets by the hour

Level 11: Hunter-Seaker viral loads, 0-Day exploits for major anti-virus applications, active deployment of infected USB sticks by leaving them in parking lots at universities and government research facilities (with car keys to exploit social engineering),TB's of furry and hentai "art" stored in feraday cage and secured with a high school combination lock, Shrek is life

Level 12: Dumb AI research and development in double quarantined virtual machines, Windows auto-updates permanently removed, photoshopped iPhone ads encouraging users to microwave their iPhone to increase battery life

Level 13: Self-improving software, ability to refer to greyhats as "script kiddies" if they didn't literally write their own distro

Level 14: Constant terror of, and desperate yearning for, The Singularity, neckbeard now required to sustain life, strong opinions on the differences between nerds and geeks froth and foment beneath the Adderal-infused mind, at least one password is a variation of "checkem"

Level 15: The sight of "" now causes physical pain, not unlike a vampire being exposed to a cross, primary source of exercise is aggressive masterbation, most websites viewed now end in .tor, .onion, or are irritatingly long strings of random characters for no god-damned reason at all

Level 16: True joy can only be found in doxxing people with the WRONG opinion about the latest Linux distros, the omnipresent hum of unnecessarily over-clocked 1080 TI's has caused permanent hearing loss, Windows auto-update on virtual machine crashes Mint (you didn't actually write your own distro after all), quints now predict the future, meme-magic has a taste, and it's surprisingly similar to Szechuan Sauce

Level 17: Bodily fluids routinely stored in Mountain Dew bottles, ability to crash all but the largest websites on the planet with massive botnet army

The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins: Fish

I am a pescatarian, i.e. one of those annoying vegetarians who makes exceptions for fish. I grew up with the diet because of my dad, and mostly I stuck to it. There was a while where I ate other meat, but eventually stopped because I didn't like the idea of contributing to an animals suffering if I could help it. I still ate fish though, because they are great for you, they taste delicious, and they supposedly don't have feelings like 'higher' animals. That's what my dad believed anyway, and I believed it too, until I read things that made me rethink it.

I read about how they have memories. I read about how they can recognise familiar faces. It all came to a head when I watched blue planet II and saw the clown fish family solve the problem of how to lay their eggs. They investigated different kinds of rocks, seemingly able to make decisions about the kind of rock they needed. After they find a coconut shell half, they pushed it towards the anemone that they lived in. But it wasn't just mindless pushing. 

They would work together, evaluating their progress as they went, trying out different methods to see which would be most effective with the awkward shape. It all looked suspiciously like higher function. Since then I can't shake the feeling that if fish can think, they can also consider their own pain, just like mammals can.

I'm still going to eat fish because they are so good for you and humans have dietary needs. But I can no longer eat fish guilt free.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Amazon Has Applied For A Trademark On A Name That Sounds Like A YouTube Competitor

There’s been a fascinating new twist in the ongoing feud between Amazon and YouTube. As the two digital media power players squabble over the availability of their respective products on each other’s devices, Amazon has filed a trademark application for the name AmazonTube, which some observers believe could belong to a YouTube competitor.

The trademark application, which was first spotted by the “TV Answer Man,” terms AmazonTube as a provider of “non-downloadable pre-recorded audio, visual and audiovisual works via wireless networks on a variety of topics of general interest.” If my Legalese-to-English dictionary is up-to-date, that description identifies AmazonTube as an on-demand streaming video hub — which is exactly what YouTube is.

The reveal of AmazonTube comes two weeks after YouTube announced its plan to pull its app from Amazon’s Echo Show and Fire TV devices. Among its grievances, YouTube noted that Amazon own Prime Video app is unavailable on Google Chromecast. Since then, the two tech giants have been engaged in negotiations that a Google spokesperson described as “productive.”

Is the AmazonTube patent a power play on the retailer’s part, or is it a legitimate clue about an upcoming YouTube competitor? Amazon hasn’t offered a statement regarding the TV Answer Man’s discovery, so for the time being, we can only speculate about what this development means.

Source: Tubefilter

'Hello' Review: Say Hello to Akhil

Akhil Akkineni’s second film has been in the news for a long time. The film caught everyone's attention when the interesting teaser came out.

Directed by Vikram Kumar, who is considered as one of the best directors of today’s times, ‘Hello’ has been the most-awaited film this season.
'Hello' is a magical case study on the same; how the whole universe conspires to bring two people together when they're meant to be.
Avinash/Seenu (Akhil) meets Junnu/Priya (Kalyani) during childhood and their love is simple and pure. He loves how her bangles jingle when she eats paani puri, the bells on her anklets make a sound as she runs and most importantly, he loves her quirky nature. She loves the fact that he has a golden heart and how he makes up a tune especially for her when she asks. When Junnu's father is transferred to Delhi, fate cruelly separates them, but as if in penance, it also brings his adoptive parents into his life. Fourteen long years and they're both still in search of each other. If they ever find each other or not, is what 'Hello' is all about.

Music by Anup is excellent. Dialogues are simple and neat. Film has high production values.

Do not expect duets shot in exotic locales or hero elevation fight scenes because you will be disappointed. Give this one a watch this weekend, you won't regret it!

EU unanimously backs UN World Bee Day

A recent study by the Radboud University in the Netherlands found that insect populations have dropped by >75% since 1983. Not just bees but all insects need our attention.

Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services. Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning. 

Here, we used a standardized protocol to measure total insect biomass using Malaise traps, deployed over 27 years in 63 nature protection areas in Germany (96 unique location-year combinations) to infer on the status and trend of local entomofauna. Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. 

We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline. This yet unrecognized loss of insect biomass must be taken into account in evaluating declines in abundance of species depending on insects as a food source, and ecosystem functioning in the European landscape.

Any country that is polluting and not trying become greener should be sanctioned as a crime against humanity - Bee Day is a start, some people will say "It's not enough" they are the problem, sure, not enough is better than nothing.

1. Journals plos
2. Euractiv

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Being a Capitalist and Socialist in a Free Market

Warren Buffett is one of the most successful capitalists of all time. Yet he advocates for a system that so-called "free market" capitalists would denounce as a "welfare state."

I would argue, though, that Buffett makes an excellent point when he says that someone who is wealthy through inheritance benefits from a sort of privatized welfare.

The argument that you have to earn your wealth is smoke and mirrors. Upward mobility has always been at least as much about timing as it has been about strategy, and if you say "hard work" I have a big ol' can of elbow grease to sell you.

That is to say, with very few exceptions, wealth has always been about luck.

How can a very successful capitalist advocate for a system that free market capitalists decry as "socialist?"

Unfortunately, many labels which are meant to be objective have been tainted by context, subjectivity and emotion. "Socialism" absolutely does not mean the same thing it meant a century ago.

So what does it mean?

That's tricky. You might point to Scandinavian countries as an example, or you might point to China. These countries utilize VERY different systems, and in some ways could be described as polar opposites, but both rely on a mix of socialist and capitalist elements.

Even India can only be described as a "mixed economy."

To my second point: power is not some kind of magic that obeys categorization. The point of government is to limit the behavior of non-government actors, and in the modern sense, the power of government should be limited.

We bear witness to a new kind of power. With modern communications, technology, and economic means of accumulating vast stores of wealth, the private sector has power that could not have been accounted for in drafting the rules by which government functions.

Some would argue that markets are self-regulating. That's a nice idea, but the rose-colored glasses need to come off. Power and wealth trickle upward.

The century-old populism which tore into the heart of monopolistic capitalism has been replaced with a corporate-sponsored populism which tears instead into the means by which we can speak for our own interests.

We should fear the power of corporations as much as, if not more than, the power of government. And we should put ourselves closer to the tools of government, not distance ourselves from our only means of ensuring for ourselves the comforts of freedom.

An in-depth interview of petitioner challenging the AADHAR in the SC

"The proposition that two biometrics together will work more effectively in the field than accepting one photographic document and sending a text message (widespread possession of both a paper identification and a telephone is a little known fact emerging from documented UIDAI figures) is the outcome of searching for a problem to which this solution can be somehow fitted.

However, security is not the vault, it is the contents. And the most precious item added to the archives while digitising them is the UID number, the one branded by the UIDAI, which fiercely marketed the mandatory linking of the number to all kinds of records, some relating to welfare services, others merely aimed at coercing the well-off to comply.

As a first principle, not collecting data in the first place is paramount to data security. Whatever data is collected, must be collected strictly and minimally, according to the need. Whenever data is shared, the first step must be to erase links between individuals and other data, before allowing duplication".

Movie Review: Bright [Spoilers]

I was looking forward to the movie and I'm happy that it exceeded my expectations. Not a masterpiece, and definitely not Ayer's best overall, but I think as a stand alone movie it was a solid piece of entertainment and as a starting point for a Netflix franchise either as a set of films or a TV show it was fantastic.

The beginning credits going over all that graffiti was really cool, it helped to make the world seem lived in and real without just a narration saying "Two thousand years ago..."

This is my favourite Will Smith performance in a long time, he's a brilliant actor no doubt but he definitely plays "Will Smith as Will Smith" instead of "Will Smith as x/y/z" a lot, this time around he's playing a straight up arsehole and he takes that concept and runs with it. No shitty jokes at stupid times, he's dead serious when he needs to be, but their is a bit of levity when things slow down.

The visuals were on point, the special effects and choreography were great. But there was a lot of weird pacing/jumping around when it came to storytelling. Like, significant moments needed a bit more time to breathe, and they didn't get it. And that stopped me from fully investing in the characters.

Everything about Orcs was brilliant, their makeup was brilliant, they all looked unique in their own way and all the Orcs actors were great. Be Yorcself.

Because the pacing was so rushed and compressed, I found the fantastic visuals/choreography did a lot of the heavy lifting of keeping my attention that the story should have done, and could have done if it had been given a little more time to breathe. It's like there was always a deadline around the corner.

By the way, there's been a lot of time where critics have changed their reviews to fit the audience because there's been a huge disconnect like fight club. I don't Bright is really that much of a changer however I think it does provide a perspective on modern critic reviews and audiences. And this down the road, might be regarded as a bit of a cult or special movie that most didn't agree with.
Overall, I recommend this film, it's solid, very watchable if you just watching a lot of action movies whatever from modern action or fantasy. It's a nice premise to have while you have a lot of films and TV shows about modern military premises with very little change between them all.

Watch Bright Online here. [720p] | Let me know in the comments what you liked about this movie. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mi Band HRX Edition Review

The Mi Band HRX Edition from Xiaomi is actually a Mi Band 2, minus the heart-rate sensor, and with an added endorsement from Hrithik Roshan.

The Xiaomi mi band is a fitness monitor and sleep tracker, with an integrated sleep-cycle smart alarm. Its battery keeps you tracking your daily excercise for a month per charge, and the device is IP67, meaning it's water and dust resistant.

Cool Features:

There are a number of cool features that come with the band.

Counting steps

The band will keep track of your steps while you're wearing it. This is found to be not super accurate, but then again, the band itself is about 17 dollars. It detects steps by measuring the movement of your arm with its built in accelerometer. This is also why it won't detect biking, your arms are generally not moving all that much when on a bicycle.

Streaks and Lazy days

When you reach your goal for several days in a row, you'll build up a streak. After a 7 day streak, you'll earn one "Lazy day". Beating previously set records might also earn you Lazy days. On days that you walk less then your goal you can use a lazy day to avoid breaking your streak. Do this by going into the app after around 10PM, and clicking the orange message "set as lazy day". You have to do this manually!

Calculating distance walked

Both the original and tweaked app will also display the walked distance. This way you can grossly see how far you've walked/ran on a day, on average, and in total.

Improving distance accuracy

If you find that the measured distance is less (or more) than the actual distance covered, you might be able to fix this by fiddling with the set height in the profile settings. The app calculated this by multiplying the number of steps by the distance covered per stride. If the app generally displays too short a distance, increase your set height in the app, if the distance is higher than it should be, lower your set height.

Sleep tracking

The miband will track your sleep in deep and light sleep periods. This probably relies on movement, and should not be used scientifically. The sensors are quite sensitive, and it might have registered "steps" when you wake up. This is normal. You're (probably) not sleepwalking.

(Early bird) smart alarm

The miband can wake you by buzzing at a set time, or up to 30 minutes before a set time with the Eerly bird alarm This last one looks at your sleep pattern and tries to wake you in a light sleep period, so that you'll wake up feeling more awake, as opposed to being dragged out of deep sleep and feeling groggy. If you don't get up after the first alarm, it will snooze for 10 minutes, for two times more. If you do get up, the band will notice, and won't snooze anymore. You can stop the alarm from snoozing manually by whacking your arm around violently, smashing the band on the wallforcefully tapping the band, or just by getting out of bed.

Silly gesture to see daily progress

This works out of the box with every miband, regardless of app used. In the profile settings of your band, select which hand you're wearing the band on, then make an exaggerated "looking at my watch" gesture. start your gesture from the wrist being by your hip, the MiBand should be roughly parallel with the ground. Move your wrist out/away from you and up, then turn your hand so the back of your hand faces you. You should end with the MiBand being perpendicular to the ground. Wait a second or two and the lights should flash. Like this. (image from official Miui forums) Each LED matches a third of your daily goal, and if one blinks solid, you've completed that part. If it blinks, you're currently working on that third of the complete goal.

Starting it up

When you receive your band in the mail, before you do anything else, charge it. DON'T use a wall power output with a usb port, it's possible that with this type of charger, the voltage will be too high, and you will fry your band. Instead, use a usb port on a PC or mac. For more info on charging, see this page.


There are a few different apps you can use with your miband. There are official apps in both Google Playstoreand iTunes. Next to this, for Android there's a Tweaked version, which is the official version with a few minor edits, mainly to make it completely in English, and there's also the Notification Version. You can download these from the official forums, or check this Google Drive.

Another app that is quite new and still in development, is GlideRun.

MI Account

For using the original or tweaked apps, you need a Mi account. You can create this on the official mi website or do it right there in the app. They're asking for your phone number, but this is completely optional, because when you scroll down you'll see this highlighted button, Register using an email address.


After installing an app to work with, the band needs to be paired. You can do this inside the app. Make sure your Bluetooth is turned on before you try pairing. The app will search for you miband, and when it finds it, the band will buzz and lights start flashing. You need to tap the band to finalize the pairing (aka whack it violently, there's no touch sensor, only a motion sensor). If you have trouble pairing, try to turn off any other Bluetooth devices in the area, or go to a place where there's no wireless/Bluetooth interference.

Pairing the notify-version

There's an extra step in getting the notifications to work on your band: you have to allow the app access to your notifications. In your Android phone, go to Settings > Security > Notification access, and allow BleNotificationService access to your notifications. Sone phones (LG for instance) hide this menu. To access the notification settings, try this NotifierPro app.

Should you buy one?

When you are in the market looking for good fitness trackers, there are the ones from Garmin and Fitbit among others, but they on the expensive side. In fact, for that cost, you could easily buy an affordable smartphone along with a good wireless Bluetooth headset. Xiaomi, on the other hand, has been very aggressive with the prices of its products.

For Rs 1,299, you get a good fitness and activity tracker that will let you monitor your sleep, the number of steps you take, and more. And with an OLED display, you don’t need to constantly open the app to check your daily progress. Of course, having a heart rate sensor would have been excellent, but considering the price tag, I have no complaints whatsoever.

For those who want the heart rate sensor without breaking a bank, I’d recommend the Mi Band 2, if you can get a hold of it. Considering that it is usually out of stock, the Honor Band 3 would be the next best alternative for an affordable tracker with a heart rate sensor.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Mozilla seems to have become a rather diluted Company

If you’re a Firefox user, you may have noticed a weird new extension that suddenly showed up in your browser this week.
The extension is called “Looking Glass 1.0.3” and this is its description: MY REALITY IS JUST DIFFERENT FROM YOURS. Now that sounds ominous. It’s really not, though. It’s a promotional campaign between Firefox and the TV series Mr. Robot that brings an alternate reality game to your browser. This must have sounded like a great idea when somebody pitched it to Mozilla, but the backlash has been fierce - TechCrunch
Ever since the release of 57, Mozilla's marketing department's got me on the run. I made a new sync account and enabled the newsletter expecting some info on new technical advancements or features, instead I'm spammed with random jokes and meme-like content.

Then this happens. You can't freaking install random add-ons on your users machines and expect to be held as an idol of privacy.. plus the worst thing is, Mr. Robot hasn't even really been about privacy since the middle of the first season and I like that show. Although, Mr. Robot is more about bi-polar personalities and schizophrenia, which seems appropriate considering the Firefox developers and management/pr don't really seem to be on one page...

– Mozilla’s statement on this issue is available here.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review [Spoilers]

I’ve had a few hours to collect my thoughts on the movie. I left the theater thinking – okay, well that happened. Now I think I see at least what they were trying to do – the key is in the conversation between Luke Skywalker and Yoda, where Yoda essentially says that failure is an important part of growth.
This is a movie where everyone fails.
Rey was convinced that she could turn Kylo Ren back into Ben Solo, and even stand up to Snoke. She tried and failed on both accounts. But we do see her better coming to terms with her own powers, and taking steps to make this journey on her own without relying on a father/mentor figure.

I wasn’t able to re-watch TFA, but IIRC Finn was never that big on the resistance. He’d become disillusioned with The First Order but was mostly in it thanks to his friendship or whatever it is with Rey. So we see him at the beginning this movie recognizing that the rebellion is f’ed and trying to sneak out and lead Rey away from them. He ends up getting drafted into a save the rebellion plot, and I think the casino scene was him seeing more of the “this universe needs someone to stand up for the little guy” kind of mentality. He fails in his mission, but ultimately embraces being a rebel soldier when he fights and defeats Phasma. 

By the end of the movie he’s gone from wanting to bail, to being willing to sacrifice his life for this fight. ...As for Rose and the whole romance thing, I don’t think she actually love loves him...remember at her beginning, she’s got a mild case of hero worship towards him. She’s also still broken up over losing her sister and probably a bit vulnerable/not wanting to lose more comrades. I don’t see this as her having fallen in love with him after half a day.

Poe starts off as the cocky, reckless hot shot who thinks he can do everything. He fails spectacularly with his plan and the mutiny. He has to learn to put more trust in his superiors, and that sometimes you can’t just shoot your way out of trouble. We see him having learned his lesson when he accepts the order to fall back on the battering ram cannon.

Luke failed Kylo as a teacher, and then failed Leia’s trust in taking care of her son. His self-imposed exile was him not really being able to deal with/address this failure, and it affected him so deeply that he was willing to let the entire Jedi culture die with him. He had to learn to accept it and move on, and he did as he talked with both Leia and Kylo, expressing his regrets over what happened. At the start of the movie he wants the Jedi to die out, but by the end he’s comfortable with passing the torch to Rey and trusting her, even if she may fail along the way.

So it’s a character story more than anything else, and I feel like the characters have made progress and grown through their failures. But I’m not sure if the movie really pulled it off successfully.

I have lot of mixed and strong feelings about this movie that I'm sure will be completely swamped here. Just my opinion though, if you disagree then that's fine, I'm here not to take away anyone's love for this movie.

New Dragon Ball Film Announced for December 2018, will focus on the origin of the Saiyans

From the little I've learned so far, the plot and designs is already made (by Toriyama) and the story will cover the origins of the Saiyans as a race and the first Super Saiyan God aka Yamoshi, pretty hyped imo!

This pretty much confirms that the movie (is this a first?) will be canon, Toriyama himself canonized the whole Yamoshi / S-Cells thing and now a movie comes from all of it. 

From the Heroes panel, DB movie 20 (counting all franchises) will be released in December 2018. I'll add more details as we get them. Here's the website they registered a few months back which caused the rumors about this movie to start flying in the first place. Now it has something on it. (Not much, but something.)

Article on Toei's website.

English Toei article:
The team behind the new film will be making intensive efforts to ensure that the scale and the quality is the best of the series. Akira Toriyama, the original author of Dragon Ball, will lead the original story, screenplay, and character design.
The theme for this remarkable new film will be “Saiyan”, the strongest race in the universe. Since “Battle of the Gods”, Goku has undergone new forms from Super Saiyan God to Super Saiyan Blue to other evolved forms that have gone up against many invincible warriors from multiple universes. This new story will focus on the origin of the Saiyans’ strength and what it means to be Saiyan.
If you missed the Toriyama interview about the origin of the Saiyans, it's here. Chances are, the details in this interview will play some part in the movie.

As was the case with the last movie, original author Akira Toriyama-sensei is in charge of the original work, script, and character designs, raising expectations even higher. It looks like he’s already done more image illustrations than for any movie before, so we can’t wait for the film’s debut in December 2018!

Feeling too Empathetic for Internet Strangers

Sometimes I come across people online at random where i feel very empathetic for. It can be a sob story from someone, or just a cry for help or attention, or people willing to help others. 

Most of the times these people are in their 40's or older and have a way of typing where you just know their age by seeing it. Their way of typing has a certain endearing thing to it while you are fully aware they are probably much older then you and have a lot more life experience under their belt. They are most likely new on the internet, don't really 'get' things of our online world as you would assume of most online people roaming around the internet. The first time I encountered such a thing was a youtube comment underneath a Twitty Conway song. It was from a guy saying he had good memories of this song because he and his grandma used to dance to it, she passed away but he still loved her and reminisced by listening to the song. It made me tear up a little. You really never know how much something you write can impact a total stranger like that.

I came across one of these people again recently on steam, he left a review under a game stating he had cancer and was playing the game for 9 hours a day because he had a lot of free time. He was willing to help other people with the game so the developer could focus on developing and even posted his personal email saying he would answer any mail that would come through. He built this whole world in this game, i looked through his screenshots and guides he made for it. I don't know what it is but somehow it was really touching to me. It really made me ponder if I should friend this guy and buy the game to play with him and brighten him up or something or accompany him in his journey to help people play the game. But that might be too much, what if i would do that for every person i came across. I do believe it would be a good thing to do, and I don't believe I would do it just to feel better about myself or boast about it (Yet I'm writing this post I can hear you think.). But I can't let go of the thought. 

You make a thousand decisions a day but this simple one i can't figure out. It's just that I feel so empathetic to his situation, but then again his life would just go on if I wouldn't do anything, and maybe he doesn't need any charity from me and has a pretty good life and social contacts outside his situation. Guess i just needed to get this off my chest how weird it may sound.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Is Indian Culture a Sham ?

Now a days we have so many quotes and so many videos and so many articles coming up shaming the conservative culture of India. Most millennial, or many people in age category of 25- 40 have joined this bandwagon too. And the mode of protest or shamming is clicking the like buttons or forwarding some similar content among like minded people. Which is good in a way. At least we Indians have started voicing our opinions and being clear on what our likes and dislikes are. But where most of us fail is getting influenced too quickly and making a choice too soon and carving an opinion without pondering before calling religion, traditions, Indian society a sham .

Yes I don’t refuse in many ways we are conservative. For e.g. most parents in metropolitan cities give absolute freedom to boys, but if a boy chooses to marry a girl who loves and dresses up in Gothic style, same parents would raise eyebrows even if the girl is highly educated, same caste, a virgin and fits all other set benchmarks of being an eligible bride. The guy ultimately will need to make a decision which will be badly effecting his future life. The story for being a girl in Indian society is completely different. Everyone wants their daughter to be serene like a goddess and skillful like a super woman, she shouldn’t have any flaws whatsoever and should behold virtues of sacrificing, compromising, hardworking, motherly and devoted to family always, self-giving; vices like love, fun, her own happiness, sexual needs , she should curb at a very early age . Marriage is just one aspect of our conservative Indian culture which I have highlighted. There are many other blocks like choosing a profession, choice of a certain lifestyle like live in relation or staying single, academic performance, achievements in life, financial status etc etc many ways that shun the growth of intelligence.

But is it all bad we have?. Not really isn’t it. We all know and will agree there are so many beautiful things in our culture. Like bonding between teenage child and parent, which is very rare to see elsewhere. The respect we have and show towards our grandparent or any elderly stranger is uncommon in other parts of the world. Basically somewhere we most Indians are spiritually connected to humanity and have more empathy within us for others. And this qualities have been instilled within us from the same family culture and upbringing which we so easily sham.

Yes we need to change. We need to strike a balance somewhere. Lack of freedom and sudden exposure to modern thinking will lead to making wrong choices and kill the warmth of family love within them. Our society needs to change fast enough. We Indian are more emotional I believe, and that is our strength. We just need to channelize our emotions in right direction by stop being judgment of any person around us, by respecting the choices people make, by avoiding enforcing others to behave as per our principles. It isn’t easy but it’s not impossible either. Just try to understand your loved one more, don’t take them for granted!!

Let's stop romanticising the 'hustle'

I see it all the time: people talking about how many hours overtime they do, how they don't get any sleep because they're too busy working, how they have so many jobs and they work their arses off. 

If you need to work that much to survive, well done for managing it and trying to look at it in a positive light. But being exploited by your workplace or living in an economy where full-time work isn't enough to live off isn't something to be proud of. Being more sleep deprived than the next person doesn't make you better than them. Taking on extra work and then "complaining" to everyone about it so they know how good you are at working is ridiculous.

There's nothing wrong with a good work ethic but so many people are treated like crap by their employers and then pride themselves on never missing a day/taking a holiday/saying no to extra hours.

It shits me too because heaps of people like this go home to their partners/families etc and treat them poorly because they're too overworked to engage in real relationships.

You're not winning at life if you're working 80hrs a week and never having fun.

AI is more certain than colonising Mars

For those who are unaware, the self learning AI "Google Deep Mind" has taken the chess community by storm with the Alpha zero algorithm.

Alpha zero, armed with nothing but the basic rules of chess and 4 hours to play itself, has just dominated the most advanced chess engine ever created. Deep Mind beat the stockfish 8 chess engine champion in a match of 100 games with a record of 28 wins and 72 draws. 3 of these wins with the black pieces, which are at a disadvantage in chess because they always move 2nd.

10 of these games have been released. The deep mind computer plays much like a human, it is very willing to sacrifice material for an attack or positional advantage. This is considered an abstract concept not suited for computers that are only good at calculation and tactics. Although stockfish can calculate 70 million positions per second, deep mind can only analyze 80,000. It seems to win through intuition about which positions are worth deep thought. This is attributed to its neural network based on real biology.

As a perspective, the stockfish engine is considered to have a rating of 3400 mmr, the current chess champion Magnus Carlson has breached 3000 a few times. It is hopeless for a human to win against stockfish although Magnus may secure draws. If this match is true, googles deep mind has made stockfish look like a child.

My question to you is what if googles deep mind was given the rules of melee and allowed to play itself for hours?

How would its playstyle look if it played fox?

This event has really made me a believer in artificial intelligence. I truly think it is the final frontier and legacy of humans. 

My thoughts on Socialism from a modern perspective

Socialism is I think an early way of understanding how a post-scarcity society would be. It's quite incomplete and there isn't really a historical precedent of a true post-scarcity society yet. 
That doesn't necessarily mean scarcity as true scarcity, but how the society creates its value system. It's not true that we won't ever run out of resources, but we can probably achieve food and shelter (the basic needs of any life form!) right now. It's how we define access to goods where scarcity comes in. That access can very well be a reflection of actual scarcity of food, in earlier agricultural society for instance when productivity wasn't as high (work required to make a unit of food).

That moral framework stayed with us because for the majority of human history, even pre-history, we've evolved along the notion that it takes a lot of work to just survive, let alone do other things. When we achieve a state where it takes very littlework to survive, then it would be necessary to reevaluate that moral framework. Greed for instance can be understood as an evolutionary concept that is beneficial for an individual to survive in the face of utter scarcity. The more you hoard of something, the more you buffer against times when you don't get as much new stuff (food, water, resources etc.). In an environment of utter scarcity, one can see how this idea of competition comes to life, because life on Earth is really a zero-sum game. If you don't get enough to survive, taking from others if necessary, you don't get to survive.

I'm not saying in the future we'll make a virtue out of lethargy. If anything, true balance would be the desirable characteristic (at least in my view). Once you have access to way more than you actually need, you are in a position to evaluate just how much you actually need. Then we can assess our resource situation and make rational decisions on how much we mine, how much we produce and how much we consume.

The problem is overcoming that evolutionary baggage. When a society switches over from scarcity to post-scarcity, we can expect an initial period of utter gluttony. And that's something we have to overcome, we need to learn that even in the case of overwhelming productive capacity we shouldn't really raise our consumption. It's kind of like when we grow up and start having an income rather than being rationed stuff from our parents. You grow up learning that cakes are these awesome things you get on special occasions, and when you get the chance for sure you'll want to get shitloads of cake as the first thing. But after a while you get used to having an income and planning your expenditure, and suddenly even though you are fully capable to go out right now and buy like 10 cakes you won't really do that. Because the way you judge cakes now is different; there are other reasons to want them and to not want them. Now you're thinking of how much or little they cost, and importantly what the nutritional benefit is. Suddenly it's not this overexaggerated, and really coveted thing, but it's just another thing that exists and has a proper use and function.

What I'm saying is, when no one else has food, there would be people who hoard it all and pride themselves on how much they have. But if everyone has access to food, there isn't any point in priding oneself on how much one has and can eat. If anything the opposite starts to happen, you get more conscious about what you eat knowing that if you eat too much you'll get fat and have worse health and so on. And in that environment, taking from someone else is not something that is sometimes necessary; it's a completely, laughably malicious act. If you have nothing to gain from taking things from other people, but the sole benefit is depriving others, the morality of it becomes just so obvious.

So when you translate this to society, once we go from a subsistence economy to a post-scarcity economy, we start to make rational decicions on the true value of things. For instance, gold is one of those ridiculously irrational things. The only reasons gold has had so much value is that it's a shiny beautiful metal that is also very rare. But it's pretty impractical for everything that is necessary for life. 

Freaking iron is more important than gold, all things considered. You can make steel out of it and build houses, bridges, tools. If you tried that with gold it wouldn't work, it's just too damn heavy and soft to make strong tools and structures. It's only literally in the last 100 or so years that we discovered applications where gold is actually practical (electronics, nanotechnology, metallurgy). Same goes for diamonds - it's one of the hardest materials we know, yet we didn't go around building our tools with them. We were just fascinated with how shiny they are. That's it. Again, now we do have proper uses for this material for industrial and scientific purposes. Hell, we can actually make freaking diamonds from coal dust via chemical vapour deposition. Those artificial diamonds are usually way way more pure than anything you'll find in a mine.

So in essence, I do think there will have to be some form of Socialism in the future. Just assess the meaning of the term alone: it's a moral system where the good of the society is the main focus. To me it's a culture that can rationally assess what is trivial and what isn't about human life. For instance, new inventions and insight about the universe, exploring our world, making new things is something completely non-trivial. An amazing piece of music, or going to other planets ot the like are things that just don't have a monetary value. If anything, value stops being this concept that has only one axis of measure (i.e. more or less value), but starts being something that is completely branched, more akin to the idea of utility.

I don't claim to know how exactly to achieve that sort of cultural shift, it's something that will have to come with time. Imagine a cultural framework where somebody would go to visit a historical palace and would marvel at the architecture and greatness of it. But then when they're told this was in its time all built to glorify one person, and guided by that person's will to dominate others, that person would feel some sort of pity at that past ruler's sad obsession. It's just an immoral construct then, and that factor actually cheapens the overall effort that went into it.

I think culture and overall value system would be the driving factor towards that sort of thinking. And access to goods and tools over time does alter value systems. In my view the whole fascination with magic was borne from a fascination with knowledge about the universe. But that knowledge was something so unattainable to the common person who was struggling to get enough food to survive the next winter, so much that those people who make knowledge their primary focus must be some kind of supernatural beings, or get their power from some supernatural force. Think about it, if you took a medieval person out of their habitat and walk them through a modern research centre, they'd think they're in some kind of wizard academy. So likewise, the values we ascribe to goods and things today might be considered pretty archaic in 100 years time. For instance 100 years ago, it mattered a huge deal what family you're from, what your parents' (or father's) occupation is. So much that it has a huge bearing on what you can and should do in your own life. Now it is possible for someone born from an uneducated, poor family, to become an engineer for instance and do something that no one's done in their family for generations. There are people who want to stop that, and market forces and politics can restrict that, but the fact is that somewhere on Earth it does exist.

Anyway the point I'm trying to make is, we'll realise sooner or later that we can simply build machines that can do physical labour much better than we can with what our body can do. The we ought to make truly human achievements the focus of our morals, and set the conditions so that humans can access what they need to make the best progress. I guess then progress would be a somewhat arbitrary value in itself, when survival pressures aren't the guiding force behind what should progress.

The problem is of course transitioning into this sort of morality. A good start would be, instead of thinking wow we're all gonna be out of work, start thinking along the lines of wow we won't have to work so damn much. The rest of our value system and how we assess access to goods simply has to change as a result. If we don't then we will burn through what little resources we have, making tons of shit that no one needs and kill each other.

My hope really is that we'll get there in time before the need for truly invasive measures to stave off the worst.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Jurassic World ''Fallen Kingdom''

I hope this isn't too unpopular of an opinion, but this trailer sets up really bad expectations for me. The BRoll teaser released the other day had an interesting, darker, horror-esque element and tone to it that seemed really interesting, consistent, and necessary for story progression: the potential for something more serious and tangible, rather than the off-set tone and unrealistic nature of "Jurassic World."

This trailer feels so off, and showcases too much of the one volcano scene, too much of the "Remember Blue?!?!?!", and too much of random scenes, rather than give a sense of the film as a whole. If the whole film is explosive set-piece after explosive set-piece, I can't help but feel that Trevorrow and Connelly don't understand what people enjoyed about the original, or even "Lost World" and "III" to an extent - they are about realistic plausibility in the established scientific story world, with tangible and realistic characters.

This trailer hints at nothing but Michael Bay-esque set pieces and grandeur. It feels wrong. Positives, though - I love Bayona, and I am stoked to see him at the director's helm. He is an atmospheric visionary, and will likely bring some excellent elements to it. I just fear for that script, mannnnn.

Also, as much as I pick it apart, of course I am gonna be there opening night, because I am an avid consumer of JP, and I have got to see everything that comes out of the series with eager eyes.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Project ''Bitcoin ABC''

Bitcoin ABC developers have been collaborating and communicating with developers and representatives from several projects, including Bitcoin Unlimited, Bitprim, nChain, Bitcrust, ElectrumX, Parity, and Bitcoin XT. Although these are independent projects, each with their own development processes and priorities, we share a common vision for advancing Bitcoin Cash. While we can only speak for ourselves, plans for Bitcoin ABC align with this shared vision.

The top priority for Bitcoin Cash is to keep improving it as a great form of money. They want to make it more reliable, more salable, with low fees and ready for rapid growth. It should “just work”, without complications or hassles. It should be ready for global adoption by mainstream users, and provide a solid foundation that businesses can rely on.

A secondary goal is to enable enhanced features, when it is safe to do so. We can facilitate use-cases such as timestamping, representative tokens, and more complex transaction scripting, when these features do not detract from the primary money function.

The next steps they plan to take are:
  • To schedule a protocol upgrade when Median Time Past reaches timestamp 1526400000 (May 15, 2018), and a subsequent upgrade for 6-months later when Median Time Past reaches 1542300000 (November 15, 2018).
  • To finalize the code and features to be included in the upgrade by three months prior to the upgrade (Feb 15, 2018).
  • Some of the features tentatively planned for the next upgrade are:
    • Increase default block-size limit, and move towards adaptive block size limit
    • Move toward canonical transaction order, perhaps removing transaction ordering consensus rule as a first step.
    • Improved Difficulty Adjustment Algorithm
    • Re-activate some deactivated Opcodes, and move toward adding protocol extension points to facilitate future Opcode upgrades Note that the specifics which features will be included is dependent on further discussion, implementation, and testing.
For anyone interested in seeing these features (or others) in Bitcoin Cash, now is the time to step up and work on them. The protocol upgrades will need solid implementation, with lots of time for review and testing.

Working together, we will make Bitcoin Cash the best money the world has ever seen.

Bitcoin ABC project’s plans for the medium-term future (next 6-12 months) as communicated in their statement.

Dark times for the Crypto World

For most of the cryptoworld it's moonshot this and rocket that due to ATHs on most of the top ten cryptos. The institutional investors don't see it coming, new investors are happy to be making gains, but there's something very unsettling going on right now.

BTC hasn't seriously corrected since around 3k (maybe 5k?). The gains have been too much too fast. Other valuable cryptos have been dragged down and are sitting at an undervalued ratio to BTC. The Tether situation looks like it could blow up any minute. There are now numerous versions of BTC cluttering the top ten market cap list and there entire Bitcoin space feels like a manipulated scam.

The market may currently be irrational, but it cannot be irrational forever. Better tech will eventually win the day. Right now crypto is a speculative investment and the investors are counting on two things: scarcity and utility. And utility is where BTC fails.

In order for BTC to have value, it must be used by a large number of people transacting value over the network. If BTC can't attract lots of users, it will implode. It needs to be able to be used by Amazon, Walmart, your local Chinese takeout, you need to be able to use it to pay your electric bills. That's what Wall Street is counting on; they don't need a store of value.

I'm not a huge believer in the Operation Dragonslayer type flippening. It could happen, but it's not going to be an over-night event. I think that sounds a bit far-fetched, but I have to admit that there are people out there with deep wallets who are heavily invested in Bitcoin who really understand the tech, and who are very concerned that Bitcoin Core will implode very soon and that there must be a safety net for Bitcoin. That's what I believe Bitcoin Cash is; usable currency that preserves value through it's utility.

I think there will be some dark times ahead. Some people will lose their shirts (especially newer investors). But I think Bitcoin will come out of it as resilient as ever.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Blockchain based community internet to render traditional ISPs obsolete

How blockchain can mobilize a community to provide Internet for each other and create a new sharing economy.The core principle is simple: Members of a community own the means for delivering Internet to each other.

It can be summed up in four points:
  • Users own all the wireless hardware necessary to form a large network
  • Management of the entire system occurs on a public blockchain
  • All users seamlessly transact with each other on the blockchain directly, meaning the network can function without any company
  • Wholesale Internet prices are brought to the consumer.
Someone with a well-placed corner apartment can invest $100 on hardware and end up paying $0 per month on an Internet bill because of the offset from providing Internet to others.

More for the Local Economy In the examples just mentioned we pay each other for sharing out Internet.

In this model, the infrastructure to deliver Internet to your neighbor is owned by the community.

This article was made possible with Inputs from Hackernoon. You can read more about this technology from Equinix[blog].

Bitcoin nears $10,000 mark as hedge funds plough in

Bitcoin has hit a new record high after passing $9,000 and is close to reaching five figures as investors in the cryptocurrency shrug off warnings of a bubble.

Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, "Cryptocurrency" - a decentralised tradable digital asset.
Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate uses.

Neil Wilson, senior market analyst at ETX Capital, said: "The legitimacy this gives bitcoin as a tradeable asset is very important. The market cap of bitcoin now exceeds that of IBM, Disney [or] McDonald's."

Warning of looming pain for bitcoin buyers, Wilson added: "But for traditionalists, it's hard to fathom. Rather than a commodity or currency, bitcoin is like owning stock in a company that will only ever issue 21m shares and never pay a penny in dividends. The only way it has value is if the next guy is willing to pay you more for it - the greater fool. With no intrinsic value to bitcoin, it's hard to see this as anything other than a giant speculative bubble."

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that emerged in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Source: The Guardian

Google trend indicates search Interest in Ethereum increases over Bitcoin

Thanks to its adjustable "block-size", Ethereum processes more transactions a day than all decentralised cryptos combined, and Ethereum transactions are faster and cheaper than the few transactions processed by Bitcoin.

microRaiden is coming very soon, allowing for thousands of instant and free transactions per second on Ethereum's network.

Casper updates Ethereum's network in 2018, abandoning the energy-wasting mining invented by Bitcoin.

ETH Futures start trading before June 2018.

Thousands of developers and hundreds of big companies deal with Ethereum. This is much more than Bitcoin, abandoned by big companies in 2017 because of its unreliable Core team as well as high transaction delays and fees.

Source: Google Trend

Cyber Monday Laptop Deals on Amazon

Black Friday 2017 was superb for many, as they got the chance to grab some very good laptops on great discounted prices. The chance is here to catch some of the spill over and or new deals on CYBER- MONDAY 2017.

Below is a listing of laptops that are currently on CM deals or have dropped $ from their prices. I have picked out the best deals I have seen up to this point, and will continue to update the list as and when I can.

⚡➖➖⚡CM NOVEMBER 27,2017⚡➖➖⚡
Amazon Online Store 🌐