Monthly Archives: August 2017

On August Blues 

If you feel yourself out of sorts or not your best in the month of August, you are not alone.  August can trigger bad emotional responses in us for a number of reasons, whether we love the summer or hate it. To see what I mean, see this: August Blues Are Like Sunday Blues, But for a Full Month — Science of Us.

I would add for some, August can be the most extreme month in terms of weather (just like February) and that can make it difficult to deal with too. If you find yourself struggling at this time of the year, cut yourself some slack and prepare yourself for the true start of the new year: September. (A much nicer month than August for many reasons).

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Reduce Your Stress in Two Minutes a Day – Harvard Business Review via Pocket

If you struggle with stress and don’t know where to start, start here: Reduce Your Stress in Two Minutes a Day – Harvard Business Review – Pocket. It is general advice, but even adopting a few of these practices in daily life should help releave your levels of stress. It is especially good advice for driven people who need to succeed in the areas of life they focus on, but find that their usual approach doesn’t help them when it comes to stress.

Is it okay for a city to track … and other thoughts

This: Is it okay for a city to track what’s in your poop? – Macleans.ca, is a provocative question that headlines a good article.

Now for most people, the answer would be a loud “no!”.  But as you can see in the article, smarter cities lead to municipal governments gathering more information about you. Certainly in the case of smart meters, the government agency can tell alot about you just from when you use power. Digital technology and the need to better manage government resources can lead to further tracking, including to what is in your waste water. Expect to see more such tracking in the future.

Ideally for any information being gathered about you, there would be strict control over who has access to the information and what they can do with it. As well, there would be some accountability with regards to that information. I would expect there is a mixed record for much of that information, but the fact that I can only speculate tells me there is more work to be done with regards to accountability.

Read the article. It helps to be informed about such tracking so you can know how you can be tracked and how you can ask questions about such tracking to government officials and elected politicians.

On the myth that Hitler and the Nazis were unopposed

With the rise of right wing extremists, including neo-Nazis, I see it often said on social media that the German people of the 1920s and 1930s did little if anything to oppose Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party’s rise to power. This is untrue. There was a lot of opposition to the Nazis rise to power, opposition that the Nazis spent much time and effort to overcome. Ideally you should read this history to see this, whether you read works by AJP Taylor, Ian Kershaw, John Toland, Joachim Fest, or others (but not David Irving). For a start, you can read this: Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, beginning with the Beer Hall Putsch. As you read along, you can see many opposed to the rise of the Nazi party. You can argue that they were ineffective: you cannot argue that they did not exist. Many of the opponents were killed (members of the Red Front) and many others, like Ernst Thälmann, were sent to concentration camps. Some fled, others became silent, and still others become supporters. Many died in the war to come.

The Nazis were supported, of course: that is how they managed to be in a position to take over power in the first place. But the idea that they met with little or no opposition is wrong.

For more reading, you can find a link to

Don’t discount the Apple Watch, for two reasons

Reason #1: Apple is seeing growth in sales of the Watch, and plans to give it cellular capabilities will drive growth further. If cellular networks allow you to share your number across your phone and watch, it could really support people who may want to go without their phone from time to time.
Reason #2: is my belief that the Watch will provide Apple with a platform to develop miniaturization. Having different platforms and different scales allows Apple to innovate and gets their partners like Intel to do the same. This will support Apple in being either first or best in the areas they have products.

I'm glad to see the Watch continue to grow. I would not be surprised to see some of the features we once saw in the Shuffle morph into the Watch. That would make up some for the lost of that other once great platform of Apple, the iPod, which was loved and now lost.

AI is hard, China version

According to this, chatbots in China have been removed after being critical of the Chinese government. This to me is not unlike what happened to Microsoft's chat bot that became racist after being feed racist input from users. If you put AI out there and allow any form of input, then the equivalent of vandals can overtake you AI and feed it whatever they choose. I'm not certain if that was the case in China but I suspect it was.

AI researchers need to expect the worst case use cases if they allow their software to do unsupervised learning on the Internet. If they don't, it's likely that their projects will be a disaster and they will do damage to the AI community in general.

Cindy Sherman is on Instagram and is doing something new

And the New York Times has a good analysis of here work so far. I really enjoyed the analysis. As for me, I found it interesting that she has transitioned the account from a basic one that recorded events the way most of us do into something that extends her art in a way few of us can do. I also like that great artists like Sherman can take new media and incorporate it into their work but also extend it. David Hockney did something similar with the Brushes app. Here's hoping more artists do such things.