Alterslash

the unofficial Slashdot digest for 2019-Nov-09 today archive

Do You Remember MIDI Music Files?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
A new article at Motherboard remembers when the MIDI file format became the main way music was shared on the internet "for an incredibly short but memorable period of time..." [I]n the hunt for additional features, the two primary developers of web browsers during the era -- Microsoft and Netscape -- added functionality that made audio files accessible when loading websites, whether as background music or as embedded files with a dedicated player. Either way, it was one of the earliest examples of a plug-in that much of the public ran into -- even before Flash. In particular, Microsoft's Internet Explorer supported it as far back as version 1.0, while Netscape Navigator supported it with the use of a plug-in and added native support starting in version 3.0. There was a period, during the peak of the Geocities era, where loading a website with a MIDI file was a common occurrence.

When Geocities was shut down in 2019, the MIDI files found on various websites during that time were collected by The Archive Team. The Internet Archive includes more than 51,000 files in The Geocities MIDI Collection. The list of songs, which can be seen here, is very much a time capsule to a specific era. Have a favorite song from 1998? Search for it in here, sans spaces, and you'll probably find it...! They sound like a musical time capsule, and evoke memories of a specific time for many web surfers of the era. "Even in an age of high-quality MP3s, the chintzy sounds of MIDI files resonate on the Web," writer Douglas Wolk wrote for Spin in 2000, immediately adding the reason: "They play on just about anything smarter than a Tupperware bowl, and they're also very small...." The thing that often gets lost with these compositions of popular songs done in MIDI format is that they're often done by people, either for purposes of running a sound bank (which might come in handy, for example, with karaoke), or by amateurs trying to recreate the songs they enjoy or heard on the radio.... [I]ts moment in the sun reflected its utility during a period of time when the demand for multimedia content from the internet was growing -- but the ability for computers to offer it up in a full-fat format was limited. (Stupid modems....) MIDI is very much not dead -- far from it. Its great strength is the fact that a MIDI-supporting iPad can communicate with some of the earliest MIDI-supporting devices, such as the Commodore 64.

Using a browser plugin called Jazz-Plugin, their writer even re-discovered John Roache's Ragtime MIDI Library. "[I]t occurred to me that I should spend more time writing about one of the things that makes the Web so special -- labors of love. Unlike any medium before it, the Web gives people with unusual talents and interests a chance to share their passions with fellow enthusiasts -- and with folks like me who just happen to drop by."

Re:MODs

By Akardam • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

God bless Winamp for still supporting MOD files. I still have a few from days gone by. This has sparked me to throw a few of my favorites into the playlist.

I still have respect for the tech that could encode what to most ears sounds like a full-featured 5-minute song in 750kB...

I remember but what I loved was MODs

By HalAtWork • Score: 3 • Thread

I remember a software wavetable synth driver for Windows 3.1 and that really brought those MIDIs to life, but what I loved was MOD muaic (and S3Ms and all others). I loved downloading those from BBSes and listening to the great original music, and the cool demoscene compositions that were like nice realtime music videos that used personal computer hardware in impressive ways.

Sheet music

By WaffleMonster • Score: 3 • Thread

For the longest time I thought MIDI sucked because it sounded like crap.

Really MIDI is just sheet music in electronic form. How good or bad (e.g. MS synth) it sounds depends entirely on the performance.

Have a collection of 110k MIDI files eating up some 3 GB of storage. Much larger collections are readily available online.

VirtualMIDISynth with about 4 GB of my favorite sound fonts loaded and MIDI files sound amazing some sound nearly identical to recordings of real life performances when the instrument mappings are not screwed up.

I still use a MIDI ringtone

By ET3D • Score: 3 • Thread

Been using it since the Nokia days. Good thing that Android kept MIDI support. (Well, I'm not sure if it still does, the latest Android version I had on a phone was 6.0, but that supported it. Hopefully it does. I'm used to that ringtone and it's unique, since I did some editing of the MIDI data.)

What do you mean "remember"?

By BAReFO0t • Score: 3 • Thread

MIDI is still the standard music production protocol. You seem to assume it somehow went away because you only know things if they exist on the web. Just like you probably think Java is "that applet thing in browers".

Yes, your USB keyboard uses MIDI too.

6 In 10 Websites May Be Impacted by jQuery XSS Vulnerabilities

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Although the JavaScript library jQuery is no longer as popular as it was, it is still widely used. As a result at least six in ten websites are impacted by jQuery XSS vulnerabilities," reports I Programmer: Even more security issues are introduced by the jQuery libraries used to extend jQuery's capabilities. These findings come from open source security platform, Snyk and are included in "The state of JavaScript frameworks security report 2019". While this report is mainly devoted to a security review of the two leading JavaScript frameworks, Angular and React, it takes a "sneak peek" into the security vulnerabilities in three other frontend JavaScript ecosystem projects - Vue.js, Bootstrap and jQuery.

jQuery was downloaded more than 120 million times in the last 12 months, which is equivalent to the number of downloads for Vue.js (40 million) and Bootstrap (79 million) combined. Snyk reports that four vulnerabilities had been found for Vue.js, all of which have been fixed. Bootstrap contained seven cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities. Three of these were disclosed in 2019 and there are no security fixes or upgrade paths to avoid them. In the case of jQuery, Snyk tracked six security vulnerabilities affecting jQuery across all of its releases to date. Four are medium severity Cross-Site Scripting vulnerabilities, one is a medium severity Prototype Pollution vulnerability, and the final one is a low severity Denial of Service vulnerability.

The report concludes that unless you are using jQuery 3.4.0 and above then you are using vulnerable jQuery versions.

Re:Don't use jquery

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
JQuery is Javascript so Yes all the functionality is actually in Javascript, and always has been. However, the plugins for JQuery UI, and also some of the extra controls. It does make it migrating off JQuery difficult if you have a site that was based on it. Also many applications it is easier to upgrade the version of JQuery over time then do a full Javascript rebuild.

One of my popular Intranet Apps Uses JQuery, this App was originally designed to run in IE 6, As work had that as standard. Normally I avoid third party libraries, however, I picked JQuery, knowing IE 6 would be on its way out, and when Chome/Edge became the standard, it was a quick upgrade. I did upgrade jQuery, and it worked much easier then if I had to convert all my IE6 Javascript hacks to work for standard browsers.

New Apps I avoid JQuery, but old apps I am glad I used it and I still use it.

prototype.js

By bussdriver • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

People complained about prototype.js and how it was more of a series of hacks and one shouldn't modify DOM but should encapsulate it like jQuery's approach. HOWEVER, if we had all used prototype perhaps most of it's features would be built-in today and it would be extremely easy to migrate away once IE was not longer the prime driver of browser difference patching. But we went with jQuery so now it's quite entrenched and it's nicer workflow has many still clinging to it way beyond it's usefulness. Perhaps it's impact will be better designed interfaces for programmers?

It certainly is not making people think twice about jumping into entangling their projects around libraries which merely automate some steps by creating a whole new framework of doing things... almost like how we keep inventing new languages... something else that has spread into this world... (at least typescript is more like a future javascript.)

The problem is scripting has it's purposeful niche just like libraries and we eventually end up with feature creep pushing them beyond where they are best suited... rising to the level of their incompetence... what scripting should be doing is linking components written in many different tools as the coupler of loosely coupled work. At least web assembly has a promise of making that a reality and perhaps reducing the demand to make javascript the scripting version of C++ (and all the mess of browser issues and now the language itself requiring a mess of tools if you want to use new things early... all needing to be handled at runtime... big sites running slower on faster computers. ) Why we couldn't have macro/parser hacks in JS -- they should have done it in ECMA 6!! It would have mitigated some of the mess that continues to fester... while some would have abused it; that wasn't the reason to stop it.

Re:Don't use jquery

By LifesABeach • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread
"Although the JavaScript library jQuery is no longer as popular as it was, it is still widely used.

When 6 out of 10 web sites use something, that is popular. Would it be better described, is it that EditorDavid does not like jQuery?

Please explain XSS in this context

By ptaff • Score: 3 • Thread

Let say I build a basic Hello World HTML page, including a vulnerable jQuery library that's only used to print the Hello World text. Please explain how can jQuery be exploited and who are the victims.

Thanks.

Bullshit headline.

By Qbertino • Score: 3 • Thread

So you can sideload stuff and feed it into the DOM easier and more relyably in jQuery?

Well, duh, Captain Obvious, that's the whole point of jQuery.

That's what jQuery is supposed to do. It is not jQueries job to check libs and plugins you ad without checking what they do and, most importantly, without managing your own dependencies. That's the job of the web developer.

This "study" is beyond pointless. I want my 5 minutes back.

Ask Slashdot: Are There Storage Devices With Hardware Compression Built In?

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Slashdot reader dryriver writes: Using a compressed disk drive or hard drive has been possible for decades now. But when you do this in software or the operating system, the CPU does the compressing and decompressing. Are there any hard drives or SSDs that can work compressed using their own built in hardware for this?

I'm not talking about realtime video compression using a hardware CODEC chip -- this does exist and is used -- but rather a storage medium that compresses every possible type of file using its own compression and decompression realtime hardware without a significant speed hit.

Leave your best thoughts and suggestions in the comments. Are there storage devices with hardware compressiong built in?

Check your CPU Usage

By jellomizer • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
Hardware compression isn't really going to help you.

For the most part, the speed of your CPU has gotten faster at a higher rate than the speed the storage media can work. Using the CPU to compress your data for most use case scenarios is actually faster because you are writing fewer bits to the storage making the write much faster. Also reading you read less data, then your CPU can decompress it rather fast.

Oddly enough I rarely see a PC or CPU when running properly has 100% CPU, where Compression becomes a factor.

Having hardware compression will probably be slower as the Hardware CPU will not be as fast as your Main Computer, as well you will not have the ability to manage the compression algorithm.

Do it on the CPU.

By thegarbz • Score: 3 • Thread

The SATA link is a bottleneck on modern drives. Having it get compressed before passing over that link is a benefit to speed and software compression often gives speed boosts.

The law of diminishing returns applies, and in this case likely won't benefit much on modern NVMe drives.

Do Not Want

By JBMcB • Score: 3 • Thread

For various and sundry reasons, you generally don't want your storage device doing this for you. Use the built-in filesystem compression. Unless you have some strange workload, a compression task eating up one of your cores won't be a big deal usually.

If you are on an industrial scale, you want a dedicated file-server doing this for you. Ideally, use ZFS with it's built-in compression. It works great. If you are moving a ton of stuff over and overwhelm the compression algorithms, you can use an uncompressed SSD to cache the writes to the array and maintain performance.

Re:Check your CPU Usage

By Jeremi • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Your cpu has other things to do, the controller does not.

On a modern desktop/laptop/cell-phone, that is generally no longer true. CPUs have become so insanely fast relative to the rest of the hardware on the machine, that scenarios where the CPU is the limiting factor in performance are uncommon.

Instead, system bottlenecks are usually found in RAM or I/O bandwidth -- so it's usually faster to reduce the amount of data the CPU pumps out (e.g. by compressing it on the CPU) than to lighten the CPU's workload, since the CPU would only use those extra cycles to wait for I/O to complete anyway.

As for relative power efficiency -- well, maybe, but mobile CPUs benefit from dumptrucks full of R&D money every year to make them more power-efficient, while a one-off "intelligent" I/O controller probably won't.

Re:That's software compression

By ShanghaiBill • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

The dude is asking about a drive that does the compression on its own (Without using any processor time).

Yes, but Slashdot is a discussion site, not an "answers" site. So rather than just giving him what he thinks he needs, you should explain why it is likely NOT what he needs.

In-device compression is dumb for the following reasons:

1. Many files are already compressed, including photos, movies, pdf, zip, tgz, etc.

2. By sending uncompressed files to/from the device, you need more I/O bandwidth, which is likely to be a bigger bottleneck than the CPU.

3. Your main CPU is likely FAR more powerful than a small embedded coprocessor in the drive. So the coprocessor may be compressing/decompressing while the CPU is idle, waiting for it to finish.

4. Your main CPU can use the latest algorithms for compression, can easily update those algorithms, and has more information about the filesystem and the types of files being compressed. A "smart drive" co-processor may only have a block-level view.

5. If you have N dollars to spend, instead of buying a "smart drive" that will speed up only one aspect of your system (and likely not even that if you are I/O bound), it is usually better to spend the same N dollars on a BETTER CPU or MORE CORES, which will speed up many more aspects of your system.

NPM Adds Command-Line Option To Help Fund Open-Source Coders

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"Despite its own solvency concerns, NPM Inc on Tuesday deployed code changes that add a 'funding' command to the latest version of the npm command-line tool, namely v6.13.0," reports the Register: Henceforth, developers creating packages for the JavaScript runtime environment Node.js can declare metadata that describes where would-be donors can go to offer financial support. Doing so involves adding a funding field to package.json, a file that lists various module settings and dependencies. The funding field should be a URL that points to an online funding service, like Patreon, or payment-accepting website....

In a phone interview with The Register, NPM Inc co-founder and co-CTO Isaac Schlueter said: "The problem we're solving is open source projects need funding and there are very few ways people can get that information in front of people using their code...." Schlueter allowed that NPM Inc's funding mechanism may reward good marketers more than it rewards good developers. But he believes it will work against that. "One thing nice about this approach is that it does take some of the marketing skill out of the equation," he said. "Because all you really have to do is set up a payment URL and then put that in your packages. You don't have to craft the message expertly, you'll show up on that list at the end of the install."

"At the end of August, we made a promise to the community to invest time & effort to better support package maintainers," explains an announcement on the NPM blog.

"This work is just the first, small step toward creating a means/mechanism for a more sustainable open source development ecosystem."

NPM? Isn't that some of that webifying cancer?

By BAReFO0t • Score: 3 • Thread

The ecosystem only true nutjobs care about, and everyone else wishes a quick and permanent death?

Which will happen as soon as WebAssembly gets all the APIs that JS has in the browser, and nobody needs to learn or use JS anymore, unless he really wants to.

(1) Fork (2) Change url (3) Profit!

By greggman • Score: 3 • Thread

This is not going to end well. Now there will be an incentive to fork projects and try to get money. Maybe all your fork does is add a command line option or something else trivial but if through SEO and other hacks you can get people to pick your fork you make money.

Of course the licenses low this but most devs expected their open source library to be some tiny part of a much larger program. If people are getting paid for individual tiny libraries they're not going to be happy seeing others take that money.

Boeing's Poor Information Security Threatens Passenger Safety, National Security, Says Researcher

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
itwbennett writes: Security researcher Chris Kubecka has identified (and reported to Boeing and the Department of Homeland Security back in August) a number of security vulnerabilities in Boeing's networks, email system, and website. "[T]he company's failure to remedy the security failures she reported demonstrate either an unwillingness or inability to take responsibility for their information security," writes JM Porup for CSO online.

The vulnerabilities include a publicly exposed test developer network, a lack of encryption on the boeing.com website, failure to use DMARC for email security, and, perhaps most notably, an email server infected with malware.

For its part, Boeing says that the vulnerabilities Kubecka reported are "common IT vulnerabilities — the type of cyber-hygiene issues thousands of companies confront every day" and that the company has "no indication of a compromise in any aviation system or product that Boeing produces." What Porup's reporting and Kubecka's research clearly shows, however, is how poor information security practices can become aviation security risks.

Boeing's response is typical for big business

By Indy1 • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

ignore IT problems until it becomes a massive disaster that costs you hundreds of millions if not billions, then hire a pile of over priced consultants from IBM, Booz Allen, etc.

Then ignore all your IT problems again, until the next disaster.

American Aerospace: Straight out of 1990.

By 0100010001010011 • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Since I've harped on terrible design decisions that go into the aircraft, the supporting infrastructure is bad or even worse when it comes to actual security and other bits.

Aerospace, in my experience, is the place where IT is least valued. Everything comes down to return on 'investment'. IT brings no profit to the table so why spend money on it? /s

Not to mention the Aerospace engineers that never worked in any industries push back hard enough that sometimes IT gives up. Because 2FA is "hard" and they already have enough to learn.

IT also suffers from the 'grandfather' clauses plugging the airplane design. Actual secure systems aren't used because they're not certified. But the certified systems are 20 years old and "already certified". GE Aerospace's entire Git/etc infrastructure is external facing: https://vault.geaviation.com/ Everything up to ITAR is protected by that https. You actually had to disconnect from the 2FA VPN to connect to The Vault because internally they couldn't plumb the traffic correctly. But the Vault is ITAR certified and certified for DO-178 work. So the vault is what gets used.

It's not just the big companies that have this problem. All of their sub-contractors used to money just flowing in haven't put any work into bettering their setup either. GitLab's 2FA was failing because of a slight time error. IT couldn't be bothered to fix it. So an ITAR, functional safety, Aerospace GitLab server is just sitting on a Cox cable modem (wsip-*.ph.ph.cox.net), forward facing the world without 2FA. Their IT/security departments have grown with the company and just not needed to do anything 'right' because 'it works why fix it'.

It all comes down to liability for the company, I have a family member that works brokerage company. They have everything locked down to the 9s. Because if they screw up their company is on the hook for millions. If Boeing gets hacked and it takes down a future plane we see a human life is $150k a head. Proper IT security would cost way more than that, so nothing gets done.

How about those pentagon contracts?

By DCFusor • Score: 3 • Thread
One wonders if they've gotten too fat on cost plus fixed fees for defense and NASA work, and if their IT is as sloppy there. Oh, of course it is. Subsidies do that to lazy MBA types. Heck, they even have the Exim bank to subsidize their customers for overseas sales, something even big normal companies don't get the benefit of. MIC at work, you tax dollars at play.

It indicates a serious Boeing problem of attitude

By Sqreater • Score: 3 • Thread
"...Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), a subsidiary AVIC Aircraft, maker of China’s warplanes; and China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, which is building China’s first indigenous aircraft carrier and other advanced military systems. As revealed in chapter 6, AVIC subsidiaries were the beneficiaries of the massive cyber espionage against Boeing that compromised vital technology from the C-17, F-35, and F-22 aircraft." Gertz, Bill. Deceiving the Sky (p. 144). Encounter Books. Kindle Edition. This is a book every tech person here should read.

Python Finally Overtakes Java on GitHub

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
"The hit programming language Python has climbed over once-dominant Java to become the second most popular language on Microsoft-owned open-source code-sharing site GitHub," reports ZDNet: Python now outranks Java based on the number of repository contributors, and by that metric Python is now second only to JavaScript, which has been in top spot since 2014, according to GitHub's 'State of the Octoverse' report for 2019...

Another interesting aspect of GitHub's report is its ranking of fastest-growing languages. Google's Dart programming language and Flutter, for building UIs for iOS and Android apps, are getting major traction with developers on GitHub. Dart was the fastest-growing language between 2018 and 2019, with usage up a massive 532%. It was followed by the Mozilla-developed Rust, which grew a respectable 235%. Microsoft is experimenting with Rust in its Windows code base because it was designed to address memory-related security bugs -- the dominant flaw-type in Microsoft software over the past decade.

Last year Kotlin, the Google-endorsed programming language for Android app development, was the fastest-growing language on GitHub. It's not a top-10 language yet, but it still grew 182% over the year. Microsoft-backed TypeScript, its superset of JavaScript, is also growing fast, up 161% over the past year as more developers use it to grapple with large-scale JavaScript apps.

Other languages making up the top 10 fastest-growing category are HCL, PowerShell, Apex, Python, Assembly, and Go.

Re:All programming languages have some bad design?

By RightSaidFred99 • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

The worst quality of C++ is that it's obscenely complex. I do C++ right now and one of my C++-nerd co-workers and I were joking about how shitty Perl is and how the code looks like a mishmash of random punctuation.

We had our ha-has (I still use Perl for some basic scripting, it's fine for linear automation) and then the next day he was showing me some template code he wrote to do automatic dereferencing deep copies of a pointer or some shit.

That code (Paul Harvey voice)? A random fuicking hideous mishmash of ellipses, angle brackets, and inscrutable keywords that would be 100X as much of a 'write-only' exercise than the worst fucking vomitous Perl code you can imagine. Now you know..the rest of the story.

Re:All programming languages have some bad design?

By drinkypoo • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

Sounds less like a problem with C++ and more like he wrote some shit that didn't need to be done, and sounds like an early draft that should be simplified after the problem is understood.

That's exactly how we get inscrutable perl code, too. It's not the law, it's just "clever" coders being smartasses, usually when there's a library in CPAN to do what they're trying to do much easier.

AI Cracks Centuries-Old 'Three Body Problem' In Under a Second

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader taiwanjohn shared this article from Live Science: The mind-bending calculations required to predict how three heavenly bodies orbit each other have baffled physicists since the time of Sir Isaac Newton. Now artificial intelligence (A.I.) has shown that it can solve the problem in a fraction of the time required by previous approaches.

Newton was the first to formulate the problem in the 17th century, but finding a simple way to solve it has proved incredibly difficult. The gravitational interactions between three celestial objects like planets, stars and moons result in a chaotic system -- one that is complex and highly sensitive to the starting positions of each body. Current approaches to solving these problems involve using software that can take weeks or even months to complete calculations. So researchers decided to see if a neural network -- a type of pattern recognizing A.I. that loosely mimics how the brain works -- could do better.

The algorithm they built provided accurate solutions up to 100 million times faster than the most advanced software program, known as Brutus. That could prove invaluable to astronomers trying to understand things like the behavior of star clusters and the broader evolution of the universe, said Chris Foley, a biostatistician at the University of Cambridge and co-author of a paper to the arXiv database, which has yet to be peer-reviewed.

Even worse..

By thesupraman • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Worse worse... all they seem to have done is made a system that allows for a lower error over a bit larger timestep, hence making it look 'faster', however it cannot give error bounds! so you have no way of tracking the cumulative error... on an iterative solution....

In other words, its junk for any real use - but at least its fast!

There are similar systems for turbulent fluid flow... they work very well... most of the time, until they dont.

Re:That's not cracking the problem

By Solandri • Score: 4, Informative • Thread
I get the impression all their ANN is doing is plotting the different parameters of the three bodies (mass, distance from each other, and initial velocity vectors) in a big static multi-dimensional chart, and spitting out the approximate value of the closest solution or interpolated solution. Kinda like how (as a one-dimensional example) if you know that a body falls 1 unit in 1 second, 4 units in 2 seconds, and 16 units in 4 seconds, then you can guess that it'll fall 9 units in 3 seconds.

Your answer is probably correct. But since the 3-body problem is chaotic, if there's a localized hole or attractor which wasn't present in the data used to train the ANN, then the results it gives will be completely wrong in that region of the solution space.

Re:Brutus or the New Algorithm: WHICH IS CORRECT?!

By Your.Master • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

1) You don't think you can have a meaningful calculation in 80 milliseconds? The actual paper suggests, by the way, that the time taken was on the order of 1 millisecond, no need to reverse engineer. It's a fixed-time result. Which means that I agree it can't be totally general in an analytic sense.
2) In physics the inputs are *always* precision-bounded, so outputs are always in comparison, even in chaotic systems. Chaos here is a relative term, not absolute. Almost any chaotic system is non-chaotic when the changes in initial conditions are constrained enough. Given the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, and well, practical reality, a truly absolutely chaotic system is one we cannot make predictions on, so it's ultimately indistinguishable from truly random and therefore irrelevant to something we think we can calculate. In any case, chaotic systems are sensitive to initial inputs, but the accumulated error is *not* initial inputs, it's outputs (and intermediate internal states). The arxiv article contains analysis of error accumulation.

Re:Chaotic systems and humility

By ClickOnThis • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Climate scientists predicted that the temperatures would rise, sea levels would rise, and polar ice caps would shrink.

Temperatures have risen, sea levels have risen, and polar ice caps have shrunk.

Models can make useful predictions that nevertheless contain some error. The goal is to create models and continue to refiine them so that they have as little error as possible. That's not unmeaningful or impractical -- that's just how you build models.

Science makes predictions all the time that contain some error. Get over it.

Re:Chaotic systems and humility

By Your.Master • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Here's a webpage with a meta-analysis of old climate predictions and giving the difference between predictions and observations, all well beyond 5 years:

https://www.carbonbrief.org/an...

Not all of the ones that were looked at were within 20%, though all were within 30%, and not all of them were over or underestimates, and 20% is pretty much an arbitrary limit that isn't applied generally to all cases of other sciences like Physics and Biology. *Especially* when error bars are provided beforehand.

if "Climate Science" were a real scientific discipline, it would've produced numerous such predictions the way Physics or Biology do.

Funny you should say this, this *is* predictions using physics. Biology predictions are quite difficult and it's interesting you should say that. The obvious analogy is to predict the future course of evolution for a multicellular nimal species given predicted changes to the environment.

Also, your last argument is not sound, you do not get net linear motion from moving internal portions of something. Throwing an artillery shell just changes the shape of the Earth, but nothing leaves the Earth. Only things like space shuttle launches have any real relevance, and even that has a calculatable influence.

Acetaminophen In Pregnancy May Be Linked To Higher Risk of ADHD, Autism

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
schwit1 tipped us off to an interesting new study. Newsweek reports: Babies of women who took acetaminophen -- a common painkiller marketed in the U.S. under the brand name Tylenol -- near the end of pregnancy had a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders or with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, cross referenced blood samples taken from the mother after the baby's birth and samples taken from the babies' umbilical cords, which were used to assess how much acetaminophen the mother had ingested. A mother-to-be who takes Tylenol during their pregnancy is liable to have some of the medication reach a developing fetus, as the drug has been demonstrated to cross the placenta, according to United Press International (UPI). The children involved in the study were reexamined when they were around 10 years old. Researchers found that those children whose umbilical cords had contained higher levels of acetaminophen were significantly more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD than the children who did not appear to have been exposed to acetaminophen in utero.

According to UPI's analysis of the findings, "the odds of these developmental disorders were more than twice as high in children exposed to acetaminophen near the time of birth. The association was strongest between exposure to acetaminophen and ADHD in the child."

Correlation is not causation

By gweihir • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Any factor that may have made the mother take acetaminophen may be what caused the actual observation in the babies. There is no reason to assume a causation here without some actual proof that there is.

The Anti-vaccine community ...

By surfcow • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

It this turns out to be true, the Anti-vaccine community will have a collective embolism.

All this time, it was Mom's Tylenol, not the vaccines.

Q: Do they still give Tylenol to women in labor? Please stop.

Re:Smarter children, yes please

By aardvarkjoe • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Despite the "autistic genius" stereotype, children with autism are far more likely to have intellectual disabilities than non-autistic children.

Mechanism mystery?

By deviated_prevert • Score: 3 • Thread
The chemical compound Cx8+Hx9+N+Ox2 or "acetaminophen" is known to increase hepatocyte death and can kill in large doses especially if taken in excess with alcohol. If it does enter the brain in the third trimester and create abnormal synaptic nerve creation patterns then the mechanism at work must be investigated. Possible activity as an inhibitor of cellular creation the way some of the new direct acting antivirals work? Or perhaps the nerves and dendrites of the human brain when forming need some form of mild pain like stimulus to connect correctly during the essential final stages necessary for the formation of the human brain in utero, thus this compound might be damaging the final stages of the process?

Until at least these possibilities are examined we cannot know for certain whether or not this chemical is dangerous to the fetus. But at the same time we also need to very critically find out how much acetaminophen has been taken by the mothers who gave birth. Johnson and Johnson has historically resisted putting stronger warnings on this medication for liver patients and alcoholics. If one of their biggest cash cows does turn out not safe for pregnant women then you can bet they will again lobby to keep Mr. and Mrs. J Q Public in the dark about how dangerous the overuse of tylenol and the generics of it can be.

I say this as I take my extra strength Robax with acetaminophen seeing that I have not had a beer this week fortunately I am not pregnant!

'Is Eating Red Meat OK, After All? Probably Not'

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Remember last month when "an international collaboration of researchers" suggested there was no reason to reduce consumption of red meat? Here's a response from Frank Hu, chairman of the Nutrition Department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The recent guidelines published in the Annals of Internal Medicine should not change existing recommendations on healthy and balanced eating patterns for the prevention of chronic diseases. Guidance to reduce red and processed meats is based on a large body of evidence indicating that higher consumption of red meat -- especially processed red meat -- is associated with higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancers, and premature death.

While this guidance is supported by both national and international organizations, including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and the World Health Organization, consumers should know that the new guidelines were released by a self-selected panel of 14 members. Furthermore, when my colleagues and I closely reviewed the studies informing the panel's decision, we saw that their findings contradicted their guidance. In short, the three meta-analyses of observational studies actually confirmed existing evidence on the potential for health benefits when cutting back on red and processed meats. However, because they based their analysis on a measure of three servings of red meat per week, the effects of an individual reducing consumption appeared small. But if you consider that about a third of U.S. adults eat one serving or more of red meat each day, the potential health benefits of reducing consumption become much greater...

[N]utrition research is complex, and rarely do [its findings] reverse so abruptly. That's why it's so important to look beyond the headlines at the quality of the evidence behind the claims. Still, the publication of these new guidelines in such a prominent medical journal is unfortunate as it risks further harm to the credibility of nutrition science, eroding public trust in research as well as the recommendations they ultimately inform.

Re:Inhumane treatment

By dogsbreath • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Eating meat does not equate to support of inhumane treatment of animals. Healthy and humane livestock production are serious and important issues that are not dealt with by simply reducing meat consumption and increasing soy (for example). Plant based food production has a plethora of environmental and health concerns that similarly should not be ignored. Eating vegan does not equate to support for agricultural replacement of rain forests.

We consume a lot and there are a lot of us. No matter how we satisfy our needs, our methods of food production have a massive effect on the environment. Don't be thinking that tending soy, wheat, or rice is really any better than raising cows and chickens. You can argue that the cost of one is cheaper than the other, or that the food value energy efficiency is better but modern massive plant agriculture devastates insect populations, pollutes ground water, and damages soil.

My neighbors' cattle operation makes very localized and limited use of pesticides and medications. His fields are natural grass that are fertilized with composted manure. He almost never tills a field. Their cattle have a diverse genetic heritage and they work to keep it so. Contrast that with local canola production that depends on massive spraying of fertilizer and pesticides. The soil is tilled annually and the crop seed genetic diversity is suspect. It's genetics are patented and diversity is not part of the plan. They also consume a heck of a lot of diesel fuel throughout the production process.

The real issue is too many people on Earth along with the drive to increase production by any method without regard to the ethical and environmental consequences.

Health

By philmarcracken • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

Ah yes, the devil called health. When it comes to food I've never heard more yelling about health ever before in history. Yet the same people are usually drinking ethanol or smoking, not getting enough sleep or regular exercise. So what is health to people really?

I view it as a large spider that sits right next to them. Its invisible until they look at it. And when it bites the fuck out of them, they yell and look at it for a brief moment, then move the exact distance of its fangs out of reach. Then look away and stay where they are.

So the bigger issue with meat isn't health effects, its environment impacts. Feed conversion ratios for beef are horrible. Pork is not much better. But chicken and certain farmed fish are a lot better. It would be far better for us all to focus not on dropping meat entirely but switching to more efficient production of it. This doesn't require waiting for lab grown stuff to be market ready either.

First they wanted to take away your car

By guacamole • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

First the eco-fascists wanted to take away your car and mcmansion so you could move into a much more energy efficient community college dorm (hello, AOC and the Green New Deal). Next, they wanted to make you vegan. And now finally they're admitting that they want to take our pets away too.

Re:Whatever

By sexconker • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"Everything in moderation" is a cop out. The real answer is "we have no fucking clue".

Re:Whatever

By quenda • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

"Everything in moderation" is a cop out. The real answer is "we have no fucking clue".

If you "have no clue", moderation is an excellent strategy. Same as in investing: you don't need a ton of research to know that diversification reduces your risk at little cost.

Scammers Are Actively Exploiting A Firefox Bug

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
Long-time Slashdot reader slack_justyb shares this story from Ars Technica: Scammers are actively exploiting a bug in Firefox that causes the browser to lock up after displaying a message warning the computer is running a pirated version of Windows that has been hacked... The message then advises the person to call a toll-free number in the next five minutes or face having the computer disabled...

Jérôme Segura, head of threat intelligence at security provider Malwarebytes, said the Firefox bug is being exploited by several sites... On Monday, Segura reported the bug to the Bugzilla forum. He said he has since received word Mozilla is actively working on a fix. In a statement sent seven hours after this post went live, a Mozilla representative wrote: "We are working on a fix to the authentication prompt bug that we expect to land in the next couple of releases (either in Firefox 71 or 72)."

What's the hold-up?

By drinkypoo • Score: 4, Interesting • Thread

a Mozilla representative wrote: "We are working on a fix to the authentication prompt bug that we expect to land in the next couple of releases (either in Firefox 71 or 72)."

What could be more important than fixing a DoS bug in a basic browser feature? Tighter Pocket integration?

Re:What's the hold-up?

By Luckyo • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

Worth noting that this "feature" has been around for several years at this point. My mother called me about getting this exact problem with firefox over a year ago, and she didn't know what to do about it locking her "internet" down.

I told her to pull the network plug out of the VDSL2 modem sitting next to her, then press ctrl-shift-esc, find firefox, right click on it and select kill process and then press enter. Then start firefox again and close the offending tab and then plug the cable back into the same spot she took it out of.

To my understanding, this is still the easiest method to bypass this problem should you run into it. Mozilla didn't give a single fuck about fixing it back then. I guess the scams got big enough that they can't just look away any longer.

What? No way!

By AndyKron • Score: 3 • Thread
Firefox doesn't have bugs. How could it with the never-ending updates? They're simply unintended engineering features.

Temporary Solution - Noscript

By burni2 • Score: 3, Insightful • Thread

Don't allow Javascript to every Jo and Sam that comes around.

It's affecting Edge too

By SIGBUS • Score: 3 • Thread

My dad just got hit by that one this morning while using Edge. Killing Edge, disconnecting from the network, restarting Edge, and closing out the tabs was the only way out.

It's sheer stupidity that the "restore all tabs" behavior can't be disabled other than by a registry edit.

What Shape Is the Universe? A New Study Suggests We've Got It All Wrong

Posted by EditorDavidView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes Quanta magazine: A provocative paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy argues that the universe may curve around and close in on itself like a sphere, rather than lying flat like a sheet of paper as the standard theory of cosmology predicts. The authors reanalyzed a major cosmological data set and concluded that the data favors a closed universe with 99% certainty — even as other evidence suggests the universe is flat.

Re:Sphere-ish

By SuricouRaven • Score: 4, Funny • Thread

Hypersphere. It's like a sphere, but rounder.

Re:What do they mean "flat"

By Rockoon • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread
The 2D analogs, when seen in a 3D environment...

A flat 2D universe is the surface of a plane when seen in said 3D environment
A closed 2D universe is the surface of a sphere when seen in said 3D environment.

A close 3D universe is the surface of the 4D analog of a sphere, and one of the nifty things about it is that "parallel lines" eventually meet.

All through the 60's and 70's the big debate was if the universe was such a closed shape or not, and if this was indeed the same as asking if the universe was a black hole or not. If you perform the calculations for a black hole with a mass similar to what we believe the mass of the universe is, you find that its event horizon is also similar to what we call the "visible universe" and that its average density would be far lower than, for instance, a gas at atmospheric pressure. I suspect some people will jump in and make the argument that everything would be at the singularity, but in fact, event horizons dont require singularities... its the other way around. Now even if the universe is not a black hole, a very large region of it can form a gravitational event horizon without forming a singularity. At the extreme end a hollow sphere is gravity neutral everywhere inside, while in the outside it is gravitationally indistinguishable from a single point mass (aka singularity.)

Re:What do they mean "flat"

By DavenH • Score: 5, Informative • Thread

They're referring to the macroscopic shape of spacetime. If you imagine a 3D (+1 time for you nerds) grid of spacetime coordinates, and can picture how that grid distorts in the presence of stars and black holes, the question is how this grid is distorted overall, by the presence of all the universe's energy & matter.

Because there's both positive energy density in the form of particles and fields and dark matter, and negative energy density in the form of "dark energy", the net curvature depends on how well these balance eachother.

Hitherto, it's been thought that they were perfectly balanced, and therefore flat -- at the very least the curvature is so small that the full universe would need to be a minimum of 10^30 times larger than the observable universe to appear so flat.

The article doesn't do any favours by referring to it as spherical, which is a specifically 3D form, which isn't what a 4D curvature would look like. Unless I'm mistaken, it'd look like a ring in just the 4th dimension -- the one along which spacetime curves -- nothing terribly obvious in our usual 3 spatial, except that in principle light rays would eventually return to high the back of a flashlight.

Interesting - But Let's See If Others Can Confirm

By careysub • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Announcements of revolutionary breakthroughs in cosmology are much more common than actual breakthroughs. This looks like serious work, but it needs to be scrutinized by other researchers before we can judge its significance.

Re:What do they mean "flat"

By Immerman • Score: 5, Interesting • Thread

This can be a little tricky to talk about or visualize, because our brains aren't wired to perceive additional dimensions. But I'll take a stab at it. We'll have to talk by analogy though

Picture a sheet of paper lying on the table. Now put a 2D universe on it - a bunch of little stick figures, living their lives, talking about how they know what "flat" means when you're talking about a line, but what does it mean when you're talking about a 2-dimensional thing? And it's going to be kind of hard to see from their perspective. 2-D light only travels along the surface of the paper, so even if you came along in 3D space and curled the paper into a tube, they couldn't see across the gap to the other side of the tube, still just along the surface. But something important would have changed - while the universe was flat they could see forever in in every direction, but now that you've curved their universe back on itself - if they look directly parallel to the direction you curled the paper, they'll look all the way around the tube and see the back of their own head. From their perspective within the 2D universe they're looking in a perfectly straight line and something profoundly weird is going on. But from our perspective we can see that the line is in fact curved, because the paper it's drawn on is curved - the curve is just happening in a 3rd dimension that they can't see.

Does that make any sense? If our 3D universe were curled into a small enough 4D tube, we could look out into space in the right direction, and see the opposite side of Earth looking back at us, because our whole 3D universe is looped back on itself in a direction we cant see.

Of course there's no particular reason the curvature would have to be a tube, you could wrap it into a mobius strip instead, or just stretch and wrinkle it without curving it back on itself at all. That's essentially Einstein's insight with General Relativity - there isn't actually any "force of gravity" pulling the Earth towards the sun - instead the sun stretches the universe itself in such a way that when the Earth travels in a straight line, it keeps ending up back where it started. Or something like that - I admit I don't really understand the details.

Physicists though like to keep things simple - so when they talk about the shape of the universe they're mostly ignoring the "gravity wrinkles" , and in the absence of a compelling argument usually assume it's the 4D analog to one one of three simple shapes that are curved uniformly in all places and directions. Each of which has distinctive geometric properties. Using our 2D analogy the corresponding 3D shapes would be:
-- A flat plane = no curvature. Things keep going in all directions forever (or maybe there's a boundary somewhere), a straight line is actually straight no madder how many dimensions you're looking at it from, and if you fired parallel laser beams out of your eyes, the center of those beams would stay a fixed distance apart.
-- a sphere = positive curvature - go far enough in any direction and you'll end up back where you started - straight lines all follow "great circles" (e.g. lines of longitude are straight, lines of latitude are actually curved), so your parallel laser beams would actually end up crossing each other because space is always curving towards itself.
-- and finally a shape we don't normally see - a hyperbolic surface with negative curvature. Like the flat plane it doesn't curve back on itself, but your laser beams are actually gong to get further apart the farther they travel, because space is curving away from itself. To compare it with a sphere - if you tried to lay out the the surface of a non-stretchy sphere (an orange peel for example) on to a flat surface, you'll have to cut it up into pieces first because the further you get from your central starting point, the less orange peel you have to go around. If you tried to do the same thing with a hyperbolic surface you'd have the opposite problem - the further you get from the center, the mo

Singapore Wants To Become an Asian Hub For Virtual Banks

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Singapore's welcome mat to virtual banks is going beyond its own shores. The island nation wants to become a regional hub for technology firms with advanced data expertise, said Ravi Menon, managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Doing so would improve banking services at home and in other parts of Southeast Asia, he said. "Singapore wants to be a base for these players as they grow in the region," Menon, who has led the financial regulator since 2011, said in a recent interview. "And that means anchoring them here at the early stage of their development, and allowing them access to the domestic banking market.

Singapore's traditional incumbents likeDBS Group Holdings Ltd., Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and United Overseas Bank Ltd. already provide digital services through mobile phones and other channels. Still, more can be done by technology firms, according to Menon. "Some of these other players use a range of other data to make very quick assessments and are able to disburse these loans in a very short space of time," Menon said. "Those kinds of things are not met adequately or as easily, or it would require tremendous additional cost or effort on the part of traditional banks." Menon said he expects non-financial firms to work with traditional banks through joint ventures and other combinations. "As with all competition, you will see some consolidation taking place, some creative destruction taking place," Menon said. "What's most important for us as policy makers is to make sure that the consumer benefits." .

Removing counterparty risk

By slashways • Score: 3 • Thread
Bitcoin is designed to remove counterparty risk. Banks are counterparty risk. At the present time, there are issues with some Lebanon or India banks.

Bitcoin is more than removing counterparty risk. Bitcoin is sound money, this property alone is already an achievement!

WeWork Says It Will Divest All 'Non-Core' Businesses

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
WeWork released Friday a "90-day game plan" that details sweeping changes to its businesses, including a divestiture of all "non-core businesses" and a reduction in headcount. CNBC reports: The changes are detailed in a nearly 50-page presentation, which was first put together in October as part of a pitch to investors, but was made public on Friday. WeWork said it plans to divest several of its side ventures, including content marketing platform Conductor, women-focused co-working start-up The Wing, office management platform Managed by Q, Meetup, real estate-focused start-up SpaceIQ, workplace software company Teem and Wave Garden, a maker of wave pools.

The company expects job cuts to occur across its ventures, G&A and growth-related functions, but said the community teams, which oversee WeWork's physical locations, will not be impacted as a result of the move. WeWork plans to focus on the core office-sharing desk business, in an effort to turn around the struggling company, as well as "re-energize employees" and "realign performance incentives." Specifically, the company plans to turn its focus toward enterprise customers, rather than the small and mid-sized businesses, such as start-ups, that it offered leases to in the past.
The company also said that it would be led by "proven executives in membership-focused, subscription-based businesses" moving forward, instead of being primarily "founder-led."

Golden Parachute

By TheReaperD • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

2000+ people are being laid off but, the executive being fired gets a 1.7 billion dollar buyout. Corporate greed at its finest.

Re:Another dotbomb 2.0

By indytx • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

This is just SoftBank throwing good money after bad. The CEO literally said he thought WeWork was going to be another Alibaba.

This was never going to be another Alibaba because the business model is completely stupid. When you're losing money in REAL ESTATE, and your strategy is to get bigger, faster to go public, to continue to lose money in REAL ESTATE, you're doing it wrong. I have been reading the WeWork stories in the WSJ for some a while, and my first thought after reading one of the early articles was how stupid the business model was . . . essentially a middleman office rental agency which was losing money. Consistently. Umm, wow?

This was sold as some sort of a technology company, but it was really just a [building management company] + [pothead, kibbutz-raised, hippie CEO/huckster/carnival-barker] + [free beer]. The only reason this is "News for Nerds" is because it was marketed as something "nerdy," but the "nerdy" that was being marketed was about like a Marvel movie being marketed as science fiction.

While this is not a Theranos 2.0 situation, it just amazes me how people can get so excited about an IPO for a company which does not have a viable path to profitability. That this stupid company was ever a major business story says so much about what is wrong with modern business, because a large corporation can be exciting and attract investment--not because it's profitable--but because investors think that they will sell the stock for a profit. As a small business owner, it annoys me that the excitement was never about the dividends but about the growth potential of the stock and the suckers down the line after the IPO.

Non core business

By Njovich • Score: 5, Funny • Thread

So they will just stick to the core business of defrauding investors now?

For the sake of completeness ...

By kbahey • Score: 4, Informative • Thread

Adam Neuman, the founder, was given $1.7 billion as an exit package.

This is the same founder who charged the company $5.9 million for the tradmark "We". Yes, that is right!

And now he (and other company officials) are being sued for the botched IPO.

Share of Cryptocurrency Jobs Grew 1,457% In 4 Years

Posted by BeauHDView on SlashDotShareable Link
The share of cryptocurrency jobs per million has risen 1,457% over the past four years, according to a study by job site Indeed.com. VentureBeat reports: Indeed analyzed millions of job postings on Indeed.com to unpack how Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain trends have affected the job market. Searches for Bitcoin, blockchain, and cryptocurrency roles are going down -- yet employer demand has skyrocketed. According to Indeed, in the four-year period between September 2015 and September 2019, the share of these jobs per million grew by 1,457%. In that same time period, the share of searches per million increased by 469%.

In the past year, the share of cryptocurrency job postings per million on Indeed.com has increased by 26%, while the share of searches per million for jobs has decreased by 53%. Bitcoin's volatility seems to correlate with job seeker interest, and the change in Bitcoin price this year might be why job searches have declined. Employers, however, are doubling down on the technology, which uses decentralized ledgers to produce secure and transparent transactions.
The report says that if you want a better chance at getting a job in this field you should be a programmer familiar with basic cryptography, P2P networks, and a language like C++, Java, Python, or JavaScript (along with certain soft crypto skills). To stand out, you should learn new blockchain development languages, like Hyperledger, Bitcoin Script, Ethereum's Solidity, the Ripple protocol, or even languages currently in development -- like Rholang.

The top hirers are as follows: Deloitte, IBM, Accenture, Cisco, Collins Aerospace, Ernst & Young, Coinbase, Overstock, Ripple, Verizon, Circle, Kraken, ConsenSys, JP Morgan Chase, and Signature Bank.

I retired.

By frup • Score: 3, Funny • Thread

I'd love to say that in 2013 I used to work for Bitcoin. 12 hour days clicking around for .1btc. My computer was mining from an fgpa and I traded deligebtly through the highs and lows. Everyone thought I was mad but now I am retired with a collection of rare gold coins. In reality I just browse Slashdot and still have to work.

"More jobs" sounds nice but ....

By CptJeanLuc • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

... I would like to see "carbon footprint per employment" statistics comparing that with other jobs. I am guessing bitcoin jobs would be number 2 on the list after professional deforesters from Amazon or wood burning countries like Indonesia.

Hmm...

By paradigm82 • Score: 3 • Thread
I would have the perfect background for working on this, having implemented large-scale cryptographic solutions for the past 20 years. Maybe I could earn twice what I do today. But I wouldn't be able to survive in this- I would have to cringe 100 times every day when hearing all the blockchain nonsense use-cases babbled out by people who don't understand anything about cryptography or blockchain for that matter. The blockchain primitive has been hyped up as a general thing, just because it worked for one use-case (coins). The more of the other potential use cases I read (and then think) about, the more I become aware of how limited blockchain is and how poor a fit it is for most use cases.

How many?

By jeremyp • Score: 4, Insightful • Thread

Four years ago, there was one person working with Bitcoin, now there are fifteen full time workers and the original person is semi-retired.

These percentage rise statistics don't work when something is new and the base number is very small.

Re:Hurr Durr

By Mr. Dollar Ton • Score: 5, Insightful • Thread

Nah, this is not the "tulips" phenomenon. This is the "growth from zero" phenomenon. It is always spectacular in percentages, because when you divide by zero you get infinity, and when you divide by a number close to zero, you get something very large.

You can easily see when the "growth numbers", i.e. percentages, are irrelevant - when there ain't no absolute numbers in there that will let you put things in perspective. 1470% growth in 4 years may sound amazing. "Growth from 10 people to 147" over the same 4 years - not so much.