Things we did not know about things we know about

Late night after shooting/editing/posting video segments (here’s one) AND Zoomified images to the web I needed some unwind time so I did some news trolling and then catching up on science news.

Wow! Things are popping – figuratively popping up for us to notice but they’ve been there all along and we just hadn’t been paying close enough attention …

Half the World Is Infected with Something We Just Found

So it turns out that there is a virus living in the bacteria that live in human guts and has since forever and we just became aware of it.
It’s in half the humans they’ve checked.

The bacteria it lives in is at the far end of the intestinal tract, you know where that is, and the researchers who found this virus have named it crAssphageI shit you not.

This virus has likely been around in humans forever – we just found out about it. It might have some influence on the life and behaviour of the bacteria and through that maybe on obesity so they’re studying that.

Bugs making Caves

For the second time tonight I read about how something was happening under our noses and we just now twigged to it. And this time it’s something about an organism we study and work with a LOT.- E Coli.

When E Coli finds itself in salty water that is drying up it creates a little shell structure of Salt for itself to hide in and goes dormant. Later on when it gets wet again it wakes back up.

The discovery was made by chance with a home microscope
How cool is that?
I really do have to start playing with mine …

And when I read “the bacteria had the ability to join the salt crystallisation and modulate the development and growth of the sodium chloride crystals”
I wondered: How much EColi genetic material is involved in that?
And could it be used for similar purposes in other environments?

Like a biological-based 3D printer/constructor ‘nozzle’ that spins chemistry into structures for instance …


social commentary

Is Facebook Stealing moving media from web pages?

I recently has occasion to make a whiny, complaining, post on FaceBook about something I suspected FB of trying to do. Seeing as it was my post I feel no compunction about repeating (and maybe expounding on) it here.

The posting (from July 11, 2014):

Most interesting (and worrying):
I posted a link to a posting on my news blogging site. The post has a YouTube video in it as well as some textual and pictorial content.

After I posted I see FaceBook has given the link a sort of video playback graphic. Click on it and you get an embedded (in FB) video playback window … but nothing happens inside it.

Below I can see the reference to the two FB group feeds I posted the link to and it’s just a hyperlink. But above those two references is this not-quite-functional video window.

Aside from wondering why it doesn’t work (and how that negatively reflects on me / my site) I’m more worried another aspect about it.
It looks like FB is trying to make the video I’ve got in my off-site posting playable in FB without you having to visit my web site at all.

IF that’s what I wanted I’d do that myself.

BUT that’s not why I posted the link to the site and post. I want you to visit the site and read whatever there is on the page supporting the video.
I don’t have any advertising on my site right now, but if I DO try to have it pay for itself by having ads then an action like this on FaceBook’s part of this would mean I’d get NO site visit and NO ad revenue.
There is No possibility of someone clicking on an Advert they cannot see.

In the last few years many news organizations have been pissed at Google because their news aggregator allows visitors to jump right into the middle of a news site to the story they are reading without going through the ‘front door’ and having to visit at least one or two revenue generating pages. I’m not in that crowd – at least Google got you a visitor.
(when you see YouTube videos embedded in the Google News page that you can watch without leaving the page you have to remember that Google owns YouTube and the ad revenue gets shared)

BUT if FaceBook is trying to filch the media content from my page without the viewer ever visiting … that’s something to be upset about. On my part anyway.

Some of you might not care OR feel that I’m just whining sour grapes BUT when shit like this happens it makes us independent producers think twice about participating in social networks like FB or even trying to do whatever it is we are about.

Furthermore … IF this is what FB is trying to achieve then I’d be screwed no matter whether I’m a FB user or not since anyone posting a link to a story on my site that contained playable media might see the same result: FB filching the media content without any other part of the site.

There was a time when I transitioned from posting my videos to FB as well as YouTube or AWS to mostly posting links on FB. Because I felt that I was helping Zukerberg and company in some small way like an unpaid employee or volunteer. And I put in volunteer time with local groups that need it but NOT freely for multi-billion dollar corporations. And I don’t want to be involuntarily drafted into a volunteer for FB either.

IF I find this is what’s going on then I’ll have to see how much it would cost to have my site recognize FB’s spiders and bots and keep them out. Which would be a cost I’d incur to protect my Intellectual Property from FaceBook …

I hope this is all just a bad guess on my part. I really do … but what I’ve seen tonight smells wrong.

Well that was the original post. Unfortunately I didn’t think to do a screen grab of the failed video playback window …. but I did think about it in this next part.

Part 2 – Facebook’s different behaviour regarding Animated GIFs.

The FB post:

Somewhere along its history Facebook decided animated GIFs were a bad thing not to be allowed on FB. So people try workarounds with flash movies in SWF format.
I just responded in a private message to someone who was asking where my coverage of the Canada Day celebrations was. I found the posting on my site and passed them the link in a private message. FB then looks into the page and finds two pieces of pictorial media embedded in the text of the page. One of them is an animated GIF and the other a YouTube video. Facebook shows the animated GIF as the link’s thumbnail image. AND its animated!
Let’s see what it does here:

And the link followed normal FB behaviour – the thumbnail WAS taken from the animated GIF BUT it was a still picture.

To prove the point I got the Private Message up on the same screen and grabbed the screen as a video. Which you can watch below:

Ok, Google has settled in the attacks it got from European news organizations. You can read about that here at the Guardian.

As I mentioned above IF FaceBook is trying out what I think they are it’s a far more egregious violation that Google was accused of. Because of the wealth or material out there related to words in a search it is kind of difficult to find out if this is going on and if someone else has remarked on it.



social commentary

How Connectedness creates drag in the real world

I recently read a news piece about a restaurant that had the desire to compare 2004 and 2014 Customer Service in their place of business. They’d become concerned over a negative change in the customer ratings of their restaurant in regards to service time. Luckily for them they had inadvertently retained one tapes’ worth of security camera footage for each of their cameras. And could compare the average customer visits and times for the various stages of their experience. You can read about that here.

The take away from that piece is that the average visit had nearly doubled from 1:05 to 1:55 and mostly the change had to do with the time that people spent using their phones AND time conscripting the serving staff into being adhoc network tech support AND/OR photographers for the customers. Meaning that the customers not only spent more time there but they also used up more serving staff time with things the 2004 servers never had to deal with.

The phones and tablets that keep us connected also increasingly disconnect us from the real world our bodies happen to occupy at any given moment.
When that happens in a restaurant it can generate a sort of friction in the machinery of face-to-face social experience as well as be annoying to those around you.
When that happens to someone behind the controls of a vehicle it can be deadly.

I wonder if anyone in the psychology / sociology fields have been tracking how much of the average humans’ time is spent on what activities in what sequence under which conditions (home/work/play/travel) so that we could see how things have changed for us.
30 years ago hardly anyone had a mobile phone and even 20 years ago the cell phone was just a phone.

Now we have always on, always connected, windows into the World Wide Web / TV / Phone living on the internet. These devices and connections have also become our on-demand infotainment delivery systems that never leaves us.

On Demand.
Which aspect of the human mentality comes to mind when you mouth those words; On Demand … to me it invokes the Ego.
So we have this nearly magical device that is constantly there at the beck and call of our Ego …

Addictive behaviour comes to mind.

I wonder what is must be like to hold a conversation with some ‘I can multi-task just fine’ person who’s wearing Google’s Glass technology. You’d likely have to watch them closely to see when they’re ‘there with you‘ and when they are ‘on the network‘ consuming some piece of infotainment sugar. Or they might adopt some sort of hand gesturing code to let you know when you’re on hold and they’re online and vice versa.

We never had to do any of that in the not so recent past.

It’s like they invented space/time travel
and let everyone take the trip to this new world
with all this new stuff
and we’ve all got to figure it out as we go
but it keeps changing
faster than our social and governmental systems can.

Our Culture is surfing a rising tide of change.
Let’s hope it’s a good surfer …

Remember Alvin Toffler‘s Future Shock?

He talked about the increasing pace of change radically changing existing society through shocks to people due to their inabilities to cope with that pace (of change).

Back around 1969 I read a futurist sort of publication. I think on of the big oil companies funded it.  In this a prediction of sorts was made that went along with some things I’d learned already. It’s quite neat really … if you want to be present at a cusp in history that is.

Take all the knowledge gathered and learned by Man from the beginning up to 1900 AD and call that a Unit Of Knowledge. In the next 45 years or so we doubled it to 2 Units. Then by 1957 we did that again. As time passes and more minds are put to work on more problems with better equipment and funding we make more progress faster. The specific years are approximate in my memory but the increasing rate of change is what is the point. The oil company funded futurist publication pointed at curves of progressive knowledge in various fields of human endeavour and sometime in the next few years most of them are going vertical …

Just like that old Chinese wish / curse: We Are All Living In Interesting Times.


How Hot Can It Get In A Car In Canada?

How hot can it get in a vehicle in the sun here in Grand Forks, BC?

In the early part of August 2005 we watched a news item from Toronto about a toddler left in a minivan on a very hot day. As part of the piece the news crew put a thermometer in a van and monitored it over the next half hour. The thermometer they used was identical to one we own and as I watched I wondered what it would read in our car in our driveway. So I did my own experiment.

the_carThis is our car sitting in our driveway. When this pic was taken it was overcast but normally the sun beats down from the passenger (far) side from early in the morning until mid afternoon.


thermometerThis is the thermometer we used.

Note that it only goes up to 50 degrees Celsius, so values above that are best-guesstimates. (but they’re not that far off 🙂




This is a graph of my results. Temperature is in degrees Celsius.

Time ºC ºF
12:00 26 78.8
12:05 30 86
12:10 35 95
12:15 36 96.8
12:20 38 100.4

(at this time it was moved to the head rest)

12:25 45 113
12:30 50 122
12:35 >55 >131
12:40 >60 >140

(at this time the windows were opened 2cm)

12:45 n/c no change
12:50 n/c no change
12:55 n/c no change
1:00 n/c no change

(at this time the windows were opened fully)

1:05 50 122
1:10 47 116.6
1:15 45 113
1:20 43 109.4

The experiment took place during the noon hour of Tuesday August 9, 2005.

Initially I set the thermometer down in the shade on the floor of the back seat. The windows were closed. Every 5 minutes I came out to read the temperature.

I found that the temperature on the floor stabilized at around 38ºC (100.4 ºF) so after a while I moved it up to the headrest – about the height of the driver’s neck … where I found that the temperature rapidly climbed off the scale – meaning way past 50ºC (122ºF) !!

As far as I can tell it was over 60ºC which means more than 140ºF … and it didn’t drop much after I opened all the windows about two fingers worth (nearly an inch). It only dropped after I’d opened all the windows all the way down. And at that it was still 5ºC hotter than the floor.