Peugeot-Citroën de Vigo a Madrid sem mãos no volante

Claro que esta viagem entre Vigo e Madrid em Espanha parece mais uma habilidade para jornalistas do que propriamente um programa continuado de desenvolvimento. Basta ver a quantidade de engravatados que o video mostra.

O que é interessante é que quase todas as companhias automóveis tem neste momento planos de desenvolvimento de automóveis de condução autónoma e esta concorrência será certamente o driver de novas soluções.

Há um detalhe que no entanto é de se considerar que estes sistemas precisam de milhões de kilometros para que as redes de deep learning possam funcionar bem. É por isso que acho que a forma de distribuir a aprendizagem da Tesla pode acelerar rapidamente os resultados — em benefício próprio é claro.

Outro aspecto que vai ser necessário ter em linha de conta é que para que estes veículos funcionem, alguns países vão ter que harmonizar a forma de construir estradas. É fácil encontrar em Portugal situações de estradas onde se fica a pensar quem terá sido o iluminado que desenhou tal solução e que são um perigo para a condução. Estes outliers serão certamente uma dor de cabeça para os sistemas autónomos.

  2015/11/26 8:53 AM Follow @sixhat

Dell pulling a Lenovo/Volkswagen?

You don’t need David Cameron to break encryption, or the feds, or any secret agency in the world. Computer companies are doing it gladly. Dell laptops have been found to be pre-installed with rogue SSL certificates that can allow attackers to impersonate as any HTTPS protected website. Want a backdoor? Dell will provide it quickly and for everyone with a few skills. The worrying part on this story is that this certificate is what has been found until now. Who knows what else has Dell (or other companies) done to break trust in and give access to their laptops?

  2015/11/24 11:16 AM Follow @sixhat

Are we buying smartphone spies into our lives?

With all the “apps” you can eat (install) mantra, smartphones represent one of the biggest threats to our privacy. MIT researchers found that most popular Android Apps are killing device’s batteries with constant background covert communications. 63 percent of the external communication has no effect on user-observable functionality. The authors concluded that the covert communications could impair transparency and undermine the users’ trust in the mobile application ecosystem. The top 500 apps in google play are full of phone-home crap. What information are they sending? Why are they sending? Smartphones are empowering a new generation of users but are also challenging our rights and privacy. How can we protect ourselves from these negative impacts?

  2015/11/21 9:12 AM Follow @sixhat

The crazy fear of the West with refugees

Why is the west so alarmed with refugees? Well, science explains it but knowing our fears and the ways our primal brains work won’t we be forced — as rational beings that we think we are — to fight our prejudices and ease the boundaries between us and them? Or we might just need to teach people more math.

  2015/11/19 11:23 AM Follow @sixhat

Telegram shutting down ISIS sites won’t solve the problem

While some argue that the fact that ISIS is using encryption is a good reason to break encryption — it is a little like saying that because ISIS uses guns, then the West should ban guns too (hm, might not be a bad argument after all…) — the fact is that banning their channels from existing communication services will not be enough as they will certainly setup new channels. In any case it is a measure that can have some effect on the recruitment and propaganda. If we make ISIS propaganda expensive (both in terms of cost and in terms of man-hours to setup, a bit like making SPAM expensive by forcing them to buy more servers), and with limited reach, then we might start winning part of this war. On the other hand it might also create the illusion that they are under control. Don’t get into that delusion. Telegram shutting down ISIS sites and all the active monitoring and control of ISIS propaganda is just a small step. Their activities need to be stopped on a global level.

  2015/11/19 11:04 AM Follow @sixhat

Printing all Bibtex references into a single document

When dealing with Bibtex reference files sometimes they just grow BIGGER THAN LIFE and sometimes it is important to have a printed copy of all references for handing out to some colleagues. Well. Some people still make fire with flint.

Here is my trick to produce a printed version of all the references in my master bib file references-master.bib. together with the file I keep a references-master.tex file with the following content:

\documentclass[11pt, a4paper]{scrartcl}

When I need to produce an updated print of all references I just typeset this small document. The document uses the \nocite command to output all references in the references-master file.

This is also a great way to check the bib file for errors in the entries as it forces you to correct them into proper format. One by one you can fix the entries and in the end you’ll get better bibliographies in Latex that are ready to use in any paper or publication.

  2015/11/17 2:38 PM Follow @sixhat

More stupid attacks on Encryption

The NYT reveals that the Paris terrorists used encrypted systems to communicate and organise the attacks. WHAT IS THE SURPRISE IN THIS? The stupidity is that the MILITARY want to push for broken encryption systems, and that mentality is so flawed that one has to ask HOW ARE THE INFORMATION SERVICES PROTECTING US AGAIN?

The role of encryption is to guarantee privacy end-to-end in any kind of communication. Encryption runs the world today and If it wasn’t so the world would just collapse. Financial systems would be broken and caos would be everywhere.

The military mentality behind requesting backdoors assumes that they can stay ahead of the competition. While this could be used in the context of real physical military weapons, in digital realm one has to assume that EVERY THING I CAN DO, SOMEONE ELSE CAN TOO.

That is why putting a hole in encryption will just create a new target to be used by terrorists. Please stop this stupidity of thinking that encryption has to be BROKEN BY DESIGN. The scenario would be even worse than having terrorists encrypting their communications. They would be the ones using the loopholes to create global HAVOC.

  2015/11/17 12:11 PM Follow @sixhat

The age of easy things in software development

With the advent of App Stores in many platforms we’ve seen a change in programming paradigm and a decrease in software quality in general.

When there was no other option to sell your product other than making it so good that word of mouth would carry if forward, developers invested a lot of time in the quality of their code and great pieces of software were produced. But now, with stores and fast distribution channels for the many platforms, software developers realized that shelf time of most of their products is very short in these stores — that are the de facto channel for software distribution. This pushes software developers to lower quality software. It is not an intentional decision, but is a matter of survival and having a quick meal while the food is hot.

The tools to develop software are more accessible and widespread while at the same time more cross platform. Write code once and distribute everywhere is of interest for comercial developers that save time and optimise workflows to be more productive. This “productivity race” has created a situation where quality software is more difficult to obtain and in the meanwhile we are seeing a lot of subpar products that are cheap, but one has the feeling they will never see an update because the brains behind it have moved on to another quick-buck-to-be-made.

Can we solve this? I don’t really know if we can. A few years ago while discussing with Maria João Valente about software she was in the camp of those defending the little app developer charging some money for it and her argument against open source versions was that the paid version would have more quality because of the commitment of the developer with the client, forcing a cycle of interaction that ultimately would drive the quality of the product up. And it was hard to fight this argument. In the Mac environment there were many examples of software that were just perfect examples.

But today, with the profusion of the stores can we still say the same? I’d probably say that 90% of the paid software in the stores is useless or broken or of dubious quality. I would argue that Open Source on the other hand, with all its flaws, still offers a more rewarding experience — even if at a slower pace. And as the software production is not driven by the need to make a quick buck, its quality increases steadily over time. Is open source the solution for everything and everyone. Some will say it is, some will say no. But its importance is without a doubt different from that of a few years ago. Every time a website prompts me to visit the “App Store” I immediately ask myself it it is worth even that click.

  2015/11/16 3:30 PM Follow @sixhat

Cuidado com a EDP Comercial

Temos urgentemente que criar uma lei que criminalise o marketing telefónico de uma vez por todas. Ultimamente é o número 210340970 em que a voz do outro lado se diz da EDP Comercial. Perguntei-lhes claramente se se tratava de uma campanha de marketing ao que não me responderam.

Será que estas companhias não percebem que estão a tornar o uso do telemóvel insuportável e que com isso estão a fazer que cada vez mais as pessoas bloqueiem os números que não conhecem? E é claro que com este comportamento agressivo perdem os clientes de vez. O SPAM telefónico tem que acabar, mas em Portugal os políticos parecem muito preocupados com estas invasões de privacidade constantes.

  2015/11/16 2:16 PM Follow @sixhat

Posting to Blog from Quicksilver

I’ve managed do find a solution to post text from anywhere to this blog using quicksilver to select text from my text editor and send it directly to the Dave’s Conundrums. The trick is to use an applescript and execute it via QS. Technically the script was used to allow you to type directly in the 1st quicksilver window, but instead of using it to compose you can just paste de selected text with CMD+G. Also, as I use MultiMarkdown on the server side of the blog I can write my short posts in it and need not to worry about HTML and other things. Posting images is not possible … yet, but for most of the daily writing this is more than enough.

  2015/11/16 12:35 PM Follow @sixhat

CM de Lisboa vai controlar Tuk Tuk

Segundo o link do Público a CML quer controlar, ou antes está a pensar em meter a colherada, num negócio que se percebeu que é florescente? Onde está o estudo a mostrar a necessidade de controlar o número de Tuk Tuk na cidade? Ou será que se trata apenas de apaziguar a malta dos Taxis?

Posting to blog from any application

One of the issues with blogging is that you can’t really do it from within any app you choose. There are dedicated clients like Ecto, MarsEdit or Windows Live Writer, but you have to use them. What I really wanted was something that would allow me to blog from anywhere. I could just use my […]

A rádio na internet, novidades podcast

De repente são como cogumelos e os podcasts nacionais estão a aparecer um pouco por todo o lado. 2015 está realmente a ser pródigo em novidades sonoras. Eis alguns que me chamaram a atenção nos últimos dias e que estão ainda nas primeiras edições. Boa onda! Palavras Cruzadas – um podcast sobre as palavras dos […]

Replacing a Toshiba Satellite A100 Hard Drive with an SSD

This is a step by step on how to replace the internal hard drive of a Toshiba Satellite A100-376 with a stock off the shelf SATA SSD drive. In my case I chose a Kingston 240GB ssdNOW V300 that is in the sub 100€ price point. But if you shop around you might be able […]

On The faux Sharing Economy

AirBNB and Uber are probably the two most well known brands of the so called sharing economy, a concept where — through technology — normal people can earn some extra money by optimisation of resources through information. The concept is highly distorted and the sharing economy businesses in many cases have little differences from traditional […]

Driving Cars or Letting them Drive You. How? TL;DR

People should, very much, be concerned. There are a lot of questions we should be asking about self-driving cars (Will they be privately or publicly owned? Both? Will nonautonomous vehicles be banned? When? How will we secure them from hacking and viruses and malware and plain old-fashioned bugs? How can we preserve our location privacy? […]

A ver: Fortitude

Ver ep. 1 na RTP Play. A RTP2 está a transmitir Fortitude até dia 6 de Outubro. A não perder, todos os dias às 22h. Só é pena que o site da RTP seja tão parco na informação prestada sobre a programação das séries e que seja quase preciso ir adivinhando dia a dia se […]

In the Couch with Movies: The Longest Ride

I’ve just seen the movie The Longest Ride, a movie about a young couple that has to make difficult decisions about growing up and are inspired in the process by an older couple’s life story. Check The Longest Ride Website. The storyline is set with a Bull-riding background and when I started seeing this movie […]

My Challenge to Portuguese politicians:

Dear Portuguese politician, Thank you for taking the time to read this message. Please bear with me and listen to these two episodes of the Allusionist and then think for a moment about the Portuguese 1990 language agreement. I hope this didn’t mess your political convictions, but if by any chance the neuron in your […]

Crossing from Plymouth to Santander on board of the Pont-Aven

When I was first looking into bringing my car from the UK I was suggested to take a look at the ferries for Santander and Bilbao. At first I was a bit afraid of the trip. There were many parameters to choose from, many preparations to do. And the trip itself is 24h at sea. […]

Eu Votava Num Partido Que . . .

Revogasse o acordo ortográfico de 1990. Acho que não é preciso explicação para este desastre em que só a classe política continua a insistir. Propusesse o 10 de Junho como data única para a realização de eleições. E tomadas de posse na primeira segunda-feira subsequente. Que dia de Portugal poderia ser melhor celebrado do que […]

Second Life Abandoned Virtual Realities

There is something strange about online entities, be it blogs, virtual games, moocs, or vles. There’s something ethereal about all those entities. Because they will fade away quickly as they were praised. They have a lifetime so short that some users are still hanging to those entities while the servers are being shut down. An […]

A Model for Foraging Ants, Controlled by Spiking Neural Networks and Double Pheromones

A model of an Ant System where ants are controlled by a spiking neural circuit and a second order pheromone mechanism in a foraging task is presented. A neural circuit is trained for individual ants and subsequently the ants are exposed to a virtual environment where a swarm of ants performed a resource foraging task. […]