TripMode 2 helps me keep my tethered data usage under control

Unless I'm in a cafe, hotel or staying at someone's home I connect to the internet over a tethered connection to my smartphone. I've got an unlimited data plan--but only the first five gigabytes of information that I send or receive is at LTE speeds. After that, things turn slow as molasses flowing uphill in January. To try and keep my data useage under control and, thus, my speeds higher for as long as possible, I use an application called TripMode 2. It's available for MacOS and Windows ten and, priced at eight bucks, it's ridiculously inexpensive to purchase a copy.

Once installed, TripMode is stupid easy to use. Activate the app, locate it in your Menu Bar (MacOS) and click it to get at its drop-down menu. There you'll see every piece of software on your computer that's begging for access to the interwebz. If you're not using the apps you see on the list, de-select the check mark next to it. Boom, they're cut off from using your tethered device's data. You'll note that at the bottom of the list, you can see how much data you've used since you started your session, during the course of a day, month or year. If you're on a plan with limited data, having that information is pure gold.

Best of all, when you're not using it, TripMode 2 can easy be shut off. It's easily up there with Scrivener, ProtonMail Bridge and Adobe Lightroom as one of the most important bits of software that I use on a regular basis. Read the rest

Animated "Income Mountains" for the world's continents, 1950-2015

Inkoativ charted income per day against population and animated the "mountains" that result for each continent. Click through to watch the developing world, well, develop. [via Data Is Beautiful] Read the rest

Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in over 15,000 published scientific studies

Vanessa Hill at BrainCraft got obsessed with tallying up how many times Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared in scientific papers, but she wasn't prepared for the actual number of papers: over 15,000. Read the rest

Craiglist traffic fell sharply after FOSTA

Redditor datacanbeuseful charted the wounding of Craigslist and the death of Backpage. After a political panic over sex trafficking, the latter's domain was seized by the government. Craiglist, to avoid the prospect of a similar fate, shut down all its "casual encounters" and similar categories overnight. It turns out to have been a significant but not critical element of the site's traffic: about 25 percent, but only as inferred through Google Trends.

The figure is based on Google Trends data of search for terms "Craigslist" and "Backpage" before and after Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). It largely reflects the actual traffic at both sites. Chart created using Excel.

Because of FOSTA and the shutdown of Craigslist's Personals section, Craigslist lost a whopping 1/4 to 1/3 of the web traffic. Backpage, while enjoying a short lived traffic uptick, was soon shut down by law enforcement.

Where can this much traffic go? Does it just evaporate? Does it flow elsewhere?

Journalists usually suppose "the dark web" but reality surely involves more pimps and streetcorners. [via] Read the rest

Cambridge Analytica shut down

Cambridge Analytica, the firm that consulted on Trump's 2016 campaign and mined the data of 87 million Facebook users without their permission, has shut its doors. Same goes for the company's UK counterpart SCL. From Wired:

The decision to close the company's doors internationally was announced to employees during a town hall meeting in the firm's New York City offices Wednesday. One source says that NYC employees were told to pack up and leave immediately....

Just yesterday, Cambridge Analytica's official Twitter account tweeted out a link to a website refuting the waves of bad press the company has received with the caption, "Get the Facts Behind the Facebook Story."

(image by Mark Frauenfelder) Read the rest

The most common words in movie titles

AC-- on Reddit used IMDB's dataset to create a good old-fashined word cloud of the most common words in movie titles. The inevitable Vader movie should clearly be titled "One Big Black Love: Sex and Blood on the Death Star" [via] Read the rest

The case for storing digital data in DNA

Using DNA to store digital data has been a classic forecast in infotech futurism for more than two decades. The basic concept is that you could synthesize strands of DNA encoded with digital information and then decode it with DNA sequencing techniques. While several amazing experiments have demonstrated that DNA data storage is possible, it's mostly been thought of as too expensive and impractical. But as researchers continue to make technical strides in the technology, and the price of synthesizing and sequencing DNA has dropped exponentially, systems for backing up to the double helix may actually be closer than you think. From IEEE Spectrum:

Even as our data storage needs surge, traditional mass-storage technologies are starting to approach their limits. With hard-disk drives, we’re encountering a limit of 1 terabyte—1,000 GB—per square inch. Past that point, temperature fluctuations can induce the magnetically charged material of the disk to flip, corrupting the data it holds. We could try to use a more heat-resistant material, but we would have to drastically alter the technology we use to read and write on hard-disk drives, which would require huge new investments. The storage industry needs to look elsewhere....

It still may not match other data storage options for cost, but DNA has advantages that other options can’t match. Not only is it easily replicated, it also has an ultrahigh storage density—as much as 100 trillion (1012) GB per gram. While the data representing a human genome, base pair by base pair, can be stored digitally on a CD with room to spare, a cell nucleus stores that same amount of data in a space about 1/24,000 as large.

Read the rest

Eviction Lab: a comprehensive database of every eviction proceeding in America for the past 16 years

The Eviction Lab is a collaboration between Princeton University and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Paperback; the lab's team gathered the court records of ever landlord-tenant proceeding in every court in every county in America for the past 16 years. Read the rest

How to download and save your Facebook data before deleting

As #DeleteFacebook sweeps across the web in the wake of data misuse, some users are resisting because their account contains valuable information they don't want to lose. Saving all your data is easy to do and may make the decision easier. Read the rest

A "digital rosetta stone" for translating obsolete computer files

It's not for the public ("accessible in the Yale library"), but researchers are working on a "universal translator" for old computer files that might otherwise be lost to obsolescence. Jessica Leigh Hester, at Atlas Obscura:

When one CCA visitor wanted to take a look at a CD-ROM-based “multimedia website” produced in conjunction with a 1996 exhibition of work by the architect Benjamin Nicholson, Walsh needed to wind back the clock. He tracked down an old license for Windows NT and installed Netscape Navigator and an old version of Adobe Reader. This all enabled decades-old functionality on a two-year-old HP tower.

This strategy works, but it has drawbacks. “These environments are time-intensive to create, will only run on a local computer, and they typically require a lot of technical know-how to set up and use,” Walsh says. Ad hoc emulation is not for the novice or the busy.

Researchers at Yale are working to solve this problem by creating a kind of digital Rosetta Stone, a universal translator, through an emulation infrastructure that will live online. “A few clicks in your web browser will allow users to open files containing data that would otherwise be lost or corrupted,” said Cochrane, who is now the library’s digital preservation manager. “You’re removing the physical element of it,” says Seth Anderson, the library’s software preservation manager. “It’s a virtual computer running on a server, so it’s not tethered to a desktop.”

Image: Euan Cochrane/CC by 2.0 Read the rest

Data of 2.4 million more Equifax customers leaked

Equifax, a company that specializes in disseminating unsecured user information, upped its game. Despite having already loosed the personal data of around 143 million people into the wild, Equifax still felt that they could do better. After much effort, they've managed to pinch off the data of 2.4 million more people for identity fraud aficionados to leverage. What an amazing achievement!

According to Reuters, despite their zest for massive security breaches, the company has framed its latest efforts with a good deal of humility:

The company said the latest batch of consumers affected had their names and driver’s license information stolen, but noted less information was taken because it did not include home addresses, driver’s license states, dates of issuances, or expiration dates.

Oh, you should know that the company sometimes dabbles in providing credit score information, too. In a statement to the media, Equifax promised that they'll be reaching out to their newly affected millions to inform them of the breach as soon as possible.

Image: GotCredit/Flickr Read the rest

Find out where you fit on the global income spectrum

Anna Rosling Rönnlund, co-founder of the Gapminder Foundation, asked Swedish students where they thought they fell on the global income spectrum. They guessed somewhere in the middle; they were wrong. After having 264 homes photographed in 50 countries and collecting 30,000 photos, she made this tool to help everyone understand the world – and how they fit in – a little better.

Want to see how people at your income level live in other countries? Of course you do.

It's the perfect antidote to Instagram-induced envy. Actually, I'd like to see someone curate a Selby or Apartmento-style lookbook from these images. Anyone? Read the rest

Data shows bulldogs are by far the most overrated breed

David McCandless meticulously charted dog breeds by six scores: intelligence, costs, longevity, grooming, ailments, and appetite. The big loser: bulldogs. Read the rest

Google Maps knows all

Google is way ahead of the competition when it comes to the detail and complexity of its maps, writes Justin O’Beirne, and its thanks to a relentless program of turning satellite and street view imagery into accurate 3D models of buildings. It knows where your rooftop AC units are, and it's showing them to the world. And it's now calculating the most interesting groups of buildings and depicting them as algorithmically-generated "areas of interest."

And as we saw in “A Year of Google & Apple Maps”, Google has been using computer vision and machine learning to extract business names and locations from its Street View imagery. In other words, Google’s buildings are byproducts of its Satellite/Aerial imagery. And some of Google’s places are byproducts of its Street View imagery......so this makes AOIs a byproduct of byproducts. This is bonkers, isn’t it?

Google is creating data out of data.

It appears the competition (Apple, Microsoft) are so far behind they don't even have the data they need to create the data that Google has. Read the rest

Correlation between Trump tweets and Fox and Friends being on

If you hadn't noticed, Trump tweets constantly during Fox and Friends, a fact more apparent as his presidency continues, but subsiding during times of intense travel (such as his recent tour of Asia).

It's as if he lounges in the mornings watching Fox and dinking around on his phone. [via] Read the rest

The most self-obsessed rappers, according to their own lyrics

John Lemon AKA Ben conducted a statistical analysis of self-mentions by popular rappers to determine who among them was most interested in themselves. Mr. West doesn't even make the top 5; the winner was Ms. Minaj.

1st: Nicki Minaj (11.5% of all words)

Three albums. 17,665 words. 2026 explicit references to herself A self-reference every 8.78 words 42.87 self-references per song An average of 371.55 words per song On "Right By My Side" she referenced herself every 3.5 words, or 28% of the song Her most word-laden song is "All Things Go", at 718 words, with 67 self-references

Read the rest

Quantifying American urban food-waste

American households throw away a lot of food: sometimes it's spoiled, sometimes it's past its "sell-by" date (but still good), sometimes it's blemished, and sometimes it's just an unappetizing leftover. Read the rest

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