Weekly Digest 15 - HQ Audio Makes You Smarter, NFT Gambling, FLoC, and Soft Robots
Apr 18, 2021
6 minute read

Must Read

High quality audio makes you sound smarter

Bad quality audio makes us think less of the speaker and what they’re saying. Ensure your audio is high quality in calls, online meetings, interviews, podcasts, or any other voice recording. When audio quality is high (vs low), people judge the content as better and more important. They also judge the speaker as more intelligent, competent, and likable.

I bought a Blue Yeti microphone and it had served me well throughout the pandemic.

Science & Technology

Study shows Yale’s massively popular (and free) “science of well being” course actually does boost well being

The study recruited three groups of students who took one of the two online courses. All participants took the courses between August 2018 and August 2020. The authors examined the participants’ well being both before and after taking one of the two courses. To do so, they used a psychometric self-report measure called the PERMA Profiler. In terms of their overall average score on the 15-item measure, the “science of well being” students went from a baseline average of about 6.6 to an average of 7.7 after completing the course. The “introduction to psychology” students, on the other hand, went from a baseline of 6.7 to a post-course average of about 7.3. Still an improvement, but a significantly smaller improvement.

Single-use plastics dominate debris on the North Pacific’s deep ocean floor

By doing video surveillance deep in the ocean, researchers working in the North Pacific have discovered the densest accumulation of plastic waste ever recorded on an abyssal seafloor, finding that the majority of this waste is single-use packaging.

[Video] This Unstoppable Robot Could Save Your Life

This self-extending soft robot has applications to archaeology, space exploration, and search and rescue — with a simple elegant design inspired by a plant.

‘Whitest ever’ paint reflects 98% of sunlight

Scientists in the US have developed a paint significantly “whiter than the whitest paint currently available”. Tests carried out by researchers at Purdue University on their “ultra-white” paint showed it reflected more than 98% of sunlight. That suggests, the scientists say, that it could help save energy and fight climate change.

Grind Your Teeth? Your Night Guard May Not Be the Right Fix

Some experts say tooth-grinding is a behavior rather than a disorder, and the dentist’s chair isn’t the best place to address it.

Business & Technology

Why has no one made a better Goodreads

Goodreads enjoys a monopoly in the space of book social networks. Looking at data from Similarweb, Goodreads records 95mn visits per month, whereas its closest competitor, LibraryThing, is less than 1.5mn visits per month. The biggest moat is their superiority in organic search.

Commercial Free Childhood letter against Instagram for Kids

According to an internal memo published by BuzzFeed, Facebook plans to build “a version of Instagram that allows people under the age of 13 to safely use Instagram for the first time. Instagram, in particular, exploits young people’s fear of missing out and desire for peer approval to encourage children and teens to constantly check their devices and share photos with their followers. The platform’s relentless focus on appearance, self-presentation, and branding presents challenges to adolescents’ privacy and wellbeing.

There’s Nothing to Do Except Gamble

Welcome to the non-fungible, memeified, cryptodenominated, degenerate future of finance. What is happening? It’s tempting to blame the money mutations of the past year on the coronavirus and to see the financial bets on Robinhood and the soaring prices of NFTs as the anguished outcries of the bored, locked down, and anhedonic. Roiling under this familiar surface is the reverberation of a much larger, fundamental shift: Something is changing in how we think about money. Maybe the question we should have been texting our financially literate friends wasn’t “What is an NFT?” but “What is money now?”

BitClout Has Reaped $160M for Tokens Pegged to Celebs. Is It All a Scam?

BitClout is pitching itself as a “crypto celebrity network.” The site offers consumers the opportunity to purchase tokens tied to the identities of 15,000 influential Twitter accounts, including the likes of Elon Musk and Katy Perry—albeit without their permission.

In the space of a week, BitClout has reportedly earned $160 million and attracted the interest of prominent investors and cultural figures. But already, crypto security firms are pointing to suspicious transactions patterns, and warning the site has all the appearances of a scam.

Software & AI

Google’s FLoC Is a Terrible Idea

Google is leading the charge to replace third-party cookies with a new suite of technologies to target ads on the Web. Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is a new way that browsers could enable interest-based advertising on the web, in which the companies who today observe the browsing behavior of individuals instead observe the behavior of a cohort of similar people. The technology will avoid the privacy risks of third-party cookies, but it will create new ones in the process. It may also exacerbate many of the worst non-privacy problems with behavioral ads, including discrimination and predatory targeting.

The True Meaning of Technical Debt

Ward describes debt as the natural result of writing code about something we don’t have a proper understanding of. But how do we land to such disagreement? In the author’s experience, there are two offenders:

  • 🎨 Wrong Design — what we built was wrong from the start!
  • 🏃 Rapid Evolution — we built the right thing, but the landscape changed quickly and made it obsolete.

Deep dive in CORS: History, how it works, and best practices

Learn the history and evolution of same-origin policy and CORS, understand CORS and the different types of cross-origin access in depth, and learn (some) best practices.

Estate agent’s hi-tech house tour exposes personal data

An estate agent has apologised after a 3D tour of a house for sale in Devon was published with a substantial amount of personal information visible. Financial paperwork in the study could be read by zooming in on the image. It included a shares dividend cheque, an insurance policy document and an invoice for a stairlift. Some family photos had also been left unblurred.

Culture & Fun

The Silent Patient [Book]

Easy 5 star book for me. The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

How A 17-Year-Old Craigslist-Swapped An Old Phone For A Porsche

Starting with an old cell phone a friend gave him, 17-year-old Steven Ortiz of Glendora, CA, used Craigslist to trade up 14 times over two years and eventually ended up with a Porsche Boxster. Here’s how he did it.

How “My Octopus Teacher” Defied Convention

Known simply as “her,” she would become the star of My Octopus Teacher, the Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary and surprise pandemic hit that told the story of Foster’s unlikely relationship with that eight-armed mollusk.

City Guesser

Video walk version of GeoGuessr. Watch a video walk in a city and guess where it is on a map!

Is it true? Can COVID-19 vaccines connect me to the internet?

The Australian government had to assert that COVID-19 vaccines do not – and cannot – connect you to the internet.


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