Hostile Architecture, SF Edition

Homeless scoff at SF strategy of dumping boulders at camp site

The homeless people the boulders were intended to dissuade simply moved their tents a few feet away. Most of the rocks stand a few feet high, and at about 400 pounds are too heavy to move easily. But there is plenty of space left between them for sleeping bags -- and plenty of Hairball ground beyond that for pitching tents.

"Not sure why they thought this would stop us, but it didn't," James Ayres, 36, said Thursday as he stood outside his tent at the Hairball, on a dirt field about 50 feet from a cluster of boulders. "Maybe they'll put more out here. I don't know. They've got lots of money to do it. But for now, you could camp right between them if you want. I mean, really, it's kind of funny." [...]

This dynamic has played out for decades, from resentment when benches at Civic Center Plaza were removed in the 1990s to keep people from sleeping on them, to sprinklers being installed at St. Mary's Cathedral doorways in 2015 where homeless people slept. The sprinklers were taken out after a public outcry, but the benches have never come back -- and many benches around the city, particularly at bus stops, are now designed to make them tough to stretch out on.

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Merry Last Christmas, Jack Dorsey

Mike Monteiro:

Among the changes, swastikas are now banned from Twitter. That's a good move. I applaud it, and it's beyond time. However, the Confederate flag, a hate symbol that defines one race's desire to own another race, is still acceptable. Twitter's reason is that the Confederate flag is historical. But so is the swastika. This decision seems less based on principles, but more on a desire to not piss off a certain group.

Despite their sanctimonious appeal to "principles", Twitter appears to be making decisions based on who they're afraid to (or can't afford to) piss off and then backwards engineering the rationale to make it palatable. That's not principled. That's cynical.

The new policy also allows a thinly veiled loophole for Trump:

This policy does not apply to military or government entities and we will consider exceptions for groups that are currently engaging in (or have engaged in) peaceful resolution.

For all his promises about wanting to reduce the amount of hate and violence and harassment on the platform, Jack Dorsey has purposely built in a loophole for the biggest perpetrator of all those things. That's not principled. It's cowardly. And it's dangerous. [...]

As of this writing, despite Twitter's new anti-harassment rules, Richard Spencer, Mike Cernovich, Joey Gibson, and David Duke are still on the platform. All known fascists. Ta-Nehisi Coates is not. Driven off by Richard Spencer's harassment. These are the voices we are losing because Jack Dorsey has chosen not to act. And it is probably too late. That's not hyperbolic. Jack has given Donald Trump the fuse to light a nuclear war. Jack has given Trump's minions the fuse to silence the voices America most needs at this moment. And Silicon Valley has allowed this to happen because their libertarian allegiance doesn't extend beyond their own pricks.

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"Bits, in this case, are actual physical objects."

MAME is now emulating LCD handheld games, which is weird and kind of amazing. The sort of games that had little light-up chunks of the "moving" portions on top of a printed background, like an old digital watch. Here's a thread describing the extraction process:


The first step is identification. They're usually microcontrollers, but can someitmes (rarely, even) be pure state machines in the form of an ASIC. This does happen, though, and if they're not an MCU, it makes it a lot harder to emulate.

To identify the MCU, the circuit board (which is usually simple, with just a handful of passive components other than the chip itself) is traced out, and "Sean Riddle" of the Bannister forums tries to match the pinout against any known pinouts.

In the event that it matches an MCU model for which there's a known method for dumping the internal ROM, Sean breaks out one of several test jigs and pulls out the data, then wires up the LCD and photographs the segments to be vectorized.

Since the chips themselves usually have all identifying markings scrubbed, this is about the only way to do it in a safe manner. It also assumes the chip is in a normal plastic or ceramic package. If it's unidentifiable or is "globbed" with an epoxy dot, the real fun begins!

In that case, the chip is removed from the board in any way possible, and the whole shebang is dissolved in fuming nitric acid until the silicon die itself is exposed. The silicon die is then cleaned in Whink and put under a microscope.

Multiple photos are taken of the exposed die, then stitched together. At this point, it would be a good time for a small digression about "mask programmed" versus "electrically programmed" silicon chips.

Hand-waving away certain details, the vast majority of modern chips are electrically programmed. The chip starts out blank, and has its program uploaded at the time of manufacturing, usually via pogo pins against the wafer itself, or a custom jig after the chip is packaged.

But, for chips that are going to have a lot of them made, this step costs too much time and money. In these cases, the ROM bits are literally a part of the photolithographic mask used to manufacture the silicon chip itself. So yes, bits in this case are actual physical objects.

The bright side to this is twofold: First, after photographing, the bits can be pulled out of the images however. Computer vision, some unfortunate fellow sitting and manually plugging 0/1 into an editor, whatever method results in the least number of errors.

Second, and most importantly, it means that the actual ROM bits are usually the absolute last thing to break. So, in the event that you have a partly-functioning or non-functioning LCD handheld that you'd like to see dumped, take heart and send me a DM! :-)

He's looking for donations to help him buy a big auction of old handhelds to de-cap and extract.

I understand that MAME can also emulate Pong now, and I'm not even really sure what that means, because Pong was arguably not a computer. It didn't have "code". It didn't have a CPU. It was wire-wrapped out of discrete analog components: a state machine and signal generator made out of relays as big as your thumbnail.

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