Via the article I link to on Gizmodo:
For the most part, the experiments showed that the cats were able to distinguish their own name, even when the name was said by a complete stranger. All cats were equally good at distinguishing their names from general nouns.
However, if you read the article you’ll see the study does come in for some criticism and it may not be as clear cut as the scientists who organised this study claim.
I can see some difficulties in interpreting a cat’s responses. Cats do not see themselves as in any way inferior to humans. Quite the opposite in fact — they rule most households they live in.
It’s perfectly feasible that a cat would recognise it’s name just fine but simply cannot be bothered to grace the idiot human with any sort of response. It's a case of "Hey, you’re wasting your breath. I'll call you if I want something."
I think the world went mad in 1989 but sometimes I read something that makes me wonder if it has breached the ‘crazy’ barrier and now resides in some category of lunacy that’s so extreme it doesn’t even have a word to describe it yet.
This particular section of the article I link to was what did it:
Mother-of-four Cecilia Leslie has built up a stash of about 500 nappies.
The full-time midwife is now a cloth nappy "influencer" with more than 22,000 Instagram followers.
A cloth nappy influencer? Really? I had to check to make sure it wasn’t April 1st.
Now I’ll forgive anyone who has a strange hobby and when she says:
"I paid £60 for a limited edition print that TotsBots brought out when Prince George was born. And I once paid £160 for a pair of limited edition Bumgenius nappies - there were only 100 made."
It makes me cringe but, well, each to their own.
It’s the fact that we have ‘influencers’ that astonishes me; that 22,000 people are ‘influenced’ to purchase something ludicrously expensive just for a baby to crap into.
When she says:
… she's chatted to her husband about how he feels about her nappy habit. "He agreed the money could be better spent … “
I can’t help but sympathise with the guy.
If you measure something and then I measure what you measured, we could disagree about the measurement yet both be correct.
Eugene Wigner proposed this in 1961 as part of a thought experiment called Wigner’s Friend and it has now been proven to be true.
So does this mean you could be eating a bag of cheese and onion crisps yet I could 'measure' that you're eating a bag of smokey bacon crisps and we'd both be correct? Well, not really. This all takes place at the quantum level and your choice of crisp flavours remains safely agreeable.
Mind-bending stuff though.
Wired reports on how reCAPTCHA tests — which aim to determine whether a website visitor is human or a bot — can be fooled by AI.
But the question I ask is why do we have to see these things in the first place?
I hate having to decipher some barely legible text to prove I’m human, and I positively despise those tests that ask me to highlight any buses or crosswalks in a set of small, unclear images, often numerous times.
In all likelihood I’ll just give up with the website. Few websites are worth the bother.
I know I’m human and if a computer doesn’t believe me then that’s its problem. If it needs to do any checks, they should be invisible to me and not involve me fighting with crappy text or images.
Don’t bother me with “there’s no other way”, find one. The visitor’s experience should be untarnished. I don’t care if bots are visiting your site, that’s your problem. Please don’t make it mine.
‘Pi day’ is when we celebrate the number pi. Streamers are hung from ceilings and we wear party hats to honour the most famous of irrational numbers. It’s on the 14th of March because of the odd way Americans write dates: 3.14.
As part of their celebrations, Google announced that one of its employees with rather too much time on her hands has set a record for calculating pi digits. She calculated it to 31,415,926,535,897 digits, which is a lot.
It would be easy to mock and ask why she bothered but I have a grudging respect for things that are done purely for the sake of interest or challenge, but are otherwise pointless. So well done to Emma Haruka Iwao.
If you’re interested — and really you should be — NASA has previously posted 18 ways in which it uses pi.
And if your geekdom knows no bounds you might want to read about how ancient geometers went about squaring the circle.
All hail pi.
Mark Zuckerberg says:
I believe we should be working towards a world where people can speak privately and live freely knowing that their information will only be seen by who they want to see it and won’t all stick around forever.
If we can help move the world in this direction, I will be proud of the difference we’ve made.
Hmm, forgive my disbelief from a man whose reputation in areas of privacy is, frankly, terrible and has recently even exploited two-factor authorisation security as means to invade users’ privacy via their phone number.
It’s a bit like hearing Hannibal Lector plead he’s strictly a salad man these days.
As a content creator you’d have to be window-licking mad to sign up to Facebook’s planned fan subscription model.
Amongst the truck-load of things wrong with it, you give Facecbook:
Non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use [creators’ content]
This license survives even if you stop using Fan Subscriptions.
Which essentially says Facebook has control of your content now and forever more.
On top of which they can take up to 30% of creators’ royalties.
Facebook is trying to compete with Patreon (which, incidentally, only takes 5% of your royalties) and Patreon do indeed have similar terms to the ones Facebook propose. There are differences, though. Patreon is a dedicated platform for this sort of stuff. Facebook isn’t and it has a poor reputation when it comes to data, content and the treatment of creators, as recent scandals have demonstrated.
Jed Oelbaum at Gizmodo tells the (long) story of Ong’s Hat, which involves physics, mysticism, inter-dimensional travel and government raids. It was only ever a game but the early internet got hold of it and turned it into a conspiracy.
Any article with this sort of stuff in it is going to be fun to read for me:
According to the brochure, which included detailed, technical descriptions of the scientific activities and day-to-day life at the Ashram, “the spiritual rhythms permeating the place proved ideal.” The group thrived, living in “a scattering of weather-gray shacks, Airstream trailers, recycled chicken coops, and mail-order yurts,” as its experiments grew increasingly bizarre and esoteric, in an effort to train the powers of the mind to manipulate the quantum underpinnings of reality itself. Finally, after some years, they produced “the Egg,” a pod that could actually pierce the veil between parallel universes, enabling travel to other dimensions.
It’s complete tosh of course but what’s interesting is the way these things expand and grow, driven mainly by people who just love to believe a conspiracy.
It’s a subject I keep coming back to. If you write content for the web, keep it all under your control. Text, images, code, domains …. the lot.
Colin Devroe writes about how even big, 100m-user sites can just suddenly disappear because they’re just “not worth the bother” to some big tech companies.
On a related note, companies can just change APIs at will too, screwing up some of the services you use. The Red Sweater blog writes about how MarsEdit can no longer support Blogger because Google is shutting down the Picasa Web Albums API.
I helped a friend of mine set up a Wordpress site a while ago and we were up and running with a blog on his own domain name, on a private server within about an hour. That’s all it takes.
I worry when people effectively journal on places like Facebook. They’re just not in control of their data. It seems incomprehensible that Facebook might one day disappear, but why take the risk? Why leave years of journals in a place where you have no real control? Use your own site and simply point to it via social media if you must.
Keep control of your data and back it up regularly.