Architechnosecurigeek. Tinkerer. General trouble maker.
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Flourish

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Flourish is a visual toy app that draws harmonographs, sinuous curves simulating a multi-pendulum trace:

Front page of Flourish, showing thumbnails of harmonographs

Each harmonograph is determined by a few dozen parameter values, which are chosen randomly. The number of parameters depends on the number of pendulums, which defaults to 3.

Click a thumbnail to see a larger version. The large-image pages have thumbnails of “adjacent” images. Each harmonograph is determined by a few dozen parameter values. For each parameter, four nearby values are substituted, giving four thumbnails for each parameter. Clicking an adjacent thumbnail continues your exploration of the parameter space:

A large harmonograph, with adjacent thumbnails

The settings dialog lets you adjust the number of pendulums (which determines the number of parameters) and the kinds of symmetry you are interested in.

I started this because I wanted to understand how the parameters affected the outcome, but I was also interested to give it a purely visual design. As an engineer, it was tempting to present the values of the parameters quantitatively, but I like the simplicity of just clicking curves you like.

I repeated a trick I’ve used in other mathy visual toys: when you download a PNG file of an image, the parameter values are stored in a data island in the file. You can re-upload the image, and Flourish will extract the parameters and put you back into the parameter-space exploration at that point.

This is one of those side projects that let me use different sorts of things than I usually do: numpy, SVG, sass, Docker, and so on. I had more ideas for things to add (there is color in the code but not the UI). Maybe someday I will build them.

BTW, I am happy that my first post of 2021 is called “Flourish.” I hope it is a harbinger of things to come.

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petrilli
6 days ago
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Arlington, VA
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High school student newspaper exposes Nazi symbols in local police training videos

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The Manual Red Eye is the student newspaper for DuPont Manual High School in Louisville, Kentucky. And lately, they've been doing some fantastic work reporting on the white supremacist infiltration of local law enforcement.

Following up on their story about a Kentucky State Police (KSP) training presentation that cited Robert E. — Read the rest

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petrilli
53 days ago
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Arlington, VA
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The Swiss Cheese Covid-19 Defense

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The Swiss cheese respiratory virus pandemic defense

The Swiss cheese model of accident causation is a framework for thinking about how to layer security measures to minimize risk and prevent failure. The idea is that when several layers of interventions, despite their weaknesses, are properly stacked up between a hazard and a potentially bad outcome, they are able to cumulatively prevent that outcome because there’s no single point of failure. During the pandemic, health care workers and public health officials have been using the Swiss cheese model to visualize how various measures can work together to help keep people safe.

Virologist Dr. Ian Mackay has visualized the Swiss cheese Covid-19 defense in a wonderful way (pictured above). Each layer of cheese represents a personal or shared intervention — like mask wearing, limiting your time indoors w/ crowds, proper ventilation, quarantine, vaccines — and the holes are imperfections. Applied together, these imperfect measures work like a filter and can vastly improve chances of success.1 He even added a “misinformation mouse” chewing through one of the cheese slices to represent how deceptive information can weaken these defenses.

Mackay has released this graphic under a Creative Commons license (free to share and adapt w/ attribution) and is available in English, German, French, Spanish, Korean, and several other languages. (via @EricTopol)

  1. It’s interesting that the Swiss cheese model is physically how masks work to stop aerosols and droplets — like layered filters and not sieves.

Tags: COVID-19   food   Ian Mackay   infoviz   science
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petrilli
68 days ago
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I used this model in security all the time and I find it super helpful.
Arlington, VA
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The Real Trolley Problem

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Real Trolley Problem

The trolley problem is an ethical thought experiment that’s fun to think and argue about but is often not that applicable to real-world situations (and has been memed to death in recent years). However, I think this one has a certain resonance to with current events.

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acdha
99 days ago
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Washington, DC
petrilli
99 days ago
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Arlington, VA
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Jackson Bird’s Transition Timeline

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Jackson Bird, who kottke.org readers may know as the host of Kottke Ride Home, recently made a video showing his lifelong transition from the assignment he was given at birth to “the man I am today”.

Instead of photos, I used thirty years worth of home videos to share my story. I called this my Five Years On Testosterone video, but it could more accurately be called Thirty Years In Transition. This is three decades worth of what it looks like to be a transgender person. From childhood tomboy days to confusion and questioning to denial and finally coming out, starting hormones, changing my name, getting top surgery, and all of the moments in between. Not all of our stories are the same, far from it, but this is one story — my story. The story of how I became the man I am today.

What a great video and fantastic storytelling. Undertaking a journey in public like this cannot be easy; thanks for sharing this with us, Jackson. If you’d like to know more about his story, check out his memoir: Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place.

Tags: crying at work   Jackson Bird   LGBT   video
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petrilli
101 days ago
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Arlington, VA
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On the use of a life

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In a recent discussion on Hacker News, a commenter posted the following question:
Okay, so, what do we think about TarSnap? Dude was obviously a genius, and spent his time on backups instead of solving millennium problems. I say that with the greatest respect. Is this entrepreneurship thing a trap?
I considered replying in the thread, but I think it deserves an in-depth answer — and one which will be seen by more people than would notice a reply in the middle of a 100+ comment thread.

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petrilli
106 days ago
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Arlington, VA
rosskarchner
123 days ago
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DC-ish
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