January; Web Typography, Privacy, EM Drives

January 29, 2017

Welcome to the first edition of my monthly publication. As previously mentioned, the aim of this blog is to highlight content and media I found to be valuable throughout the month. Hopefully, you can find something valuable here, too.


Articles

  1. Get your loved ones off Facebook, Salim Virani

    Salim Virani thoroughly explains just how dangerous Facebook is and why you would be better off without it.

    It actually hurts your relationships with a lot of people because you think you’re in touch with them, but you’re not. At best, you’re in touch with a filtered version of your friends. Those relationships fade, while your relationships with people who make “Facebook-friendly” posts take their place.

  2. Why design is key to Airbnb’s incredible success, Tanya Combrinck

    We started with a small team that essentially built a manifest of all the patterns, flows and elements that existed in our products. It was important to quickly build a scaffold of sorts for the system; a set of common components with common names. This showed us we could take something that had been developed over years by many different people and organise it into a very reasonable set of patterns.

  3. The Futures of Typography, Robin Rendle

    Robin Rendle looks at the future of typography on the web and how we need to make it more resilient.

    What I’m really interested in though are the technologies and ideas that are likely to stick around for the long term. Which tools should we be looking out for that will change how we set type on the web and how do we keep those Aldine principles of typography in mind?

  4. Reclaim Your Privacy, Tom Moor

    A useful guide to help make you and your data more safe on the web. I highly recommend making these changes. Aside from the visual change of my search engine, I really haven’t noticed the difference.

  5. How I Got My Attention Back, Craig Mod

    A thought provoking piece by Craig Mod on getting one’s attention back in a digital age full of distractions.

    “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” wrote Blaise Pascal. Did any of us remember how to sit quietly, alone, without a phone in hand? I certainly didn’t. By the time the curtain closed on act one of our political tragedy, if there was action to be taken, I was in no state to take it. I had long since lost control of my attention.

Books

  1. Out on the Wire: The Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio

    I picked this up because I was interested in reading about the behind the scenes of radio production. I didn’t realise this would be such a great resource for anyone interested in producing great public radio stories.

    Out On The Wire by Jessica Abel

  2. The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World

    This found its way onto my list after Carl Sagan mentioned the lost works of Aristarchus of Samos in his ‘Cosmos’ (the below excerpts are from ‘Cosmos’).

    We know, for example, that there was on the library shelves a book by the astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, who argued that the Earth is one of the planets, which like them orbits the Sun, and that the stars are enormously far away…we had to wait nearly two thousand years for their rediscovery.

    Imagine what mysteries about our past could be solved with a borrower’s card to the Alexandrian Library. We know of a three-volume history of the world, now lost, by a Babylonian priest named Berossus. The first volume dealt with the interval from the Creation to the Flood, a period he took to be 423,000 years or about a hundred times longer than the Old Testament chronology. I wonder what was in it.

    Some essays in the book are better than others, but overall it’s a good read. One of my favourite passages is by Wendy Brazil:

    for I have walked the streets of Alexandria with Strabo, I have burned Caesar’s boats, I have bought my books, I have fallen in love with a city which I have never seen. I have haunted the great library through the few existing books. I have mourned the future loss to the world of so many valuable books, for here in the library reside the greatest Greek, Roman and Jewish authors, each carefully rolled around umbilicus, and I, too, have come to the end of my scroll.


Podcast Episodes

  1. Inside Intercom: Tina Roth Eisenberg

    Tina Roth Eisenberg discusses her side-projects or “labours-of-love” and how some of them have grown into full time businesses.

  2. Working File: 5 - Who Gets to Say No

    Discussion around critique and criticism in a professional context.

  3. TWiML Talk #11 - Hilary Mason – Building AI Products

    This Week in Machine Learning & AI, Hilary Mason shares practical advice for building AI products.


Research Paper

I’ve recently started keeping up-to-date with interesting research papers. Sites like arXiv, PLOS, and SSRN are what the Web is all about—open access to knowledge. I have a whole stack of A.I. papers I want to read in the coming weeks, but this month I want to share with you the controversial EM Drive. I can’t profess to fully understand everything in the following paper, but I’m interested in it nonetheless.

Space travel is hard. Rockets need thrust to move, creating thrust requires fuel and lots of it. The EM Drive was invented by Roger Shawyer in the early 2000s and it essentially uses an electromagnetic field to generate thrust, albeit very little.

Measurement of Impulsive Thrust from a Closed Radio-Frequency Cavity in Vacuum by Eagleworks Laboratories, outlines that the tests they carried out with the EM Drive were consistent with a positive result. An interesting prospect for space travel should it become a reality. How far could we go without having to rely on fuel?

it would work by bouncing microwaves around inside a conical cavity. The shape creates an imbalance, which translates into a thrust without any propellant.

I found a great YouTube channel called PBS Space Time. They do a really good job at breaking down the theory of the EM Drive and they have plenty more interesting videos that you should check out: