Facebook fires worker who refused to do 'negative testing'

Facebook secretly killed users batteries, worker claims in lawsuit:

The practice, known as "negative testing," allows tech companies to "surreptitiously" run down someone's mobile juice in the name of testing features [...]

"I said to the manager, 'This can harm somebody,' and she said by harming a few we can help the greater masses," said Hayward, 33, who claims in a Manhattan Federal Court lawsuit that he was fired in November for refusing to participate in negative testing. [...]

"Any data scientist worth his or her salt will know, 'Don't hurt people,'" he told The Post.

Killing someone's cellphone battery puts people at risk, especially "in circumstances where they need to communicate with others, including but not limited to police or other rescue workers," according to the litigation filed against Facebook.

"I refused to do this test," he said, adding, "It turns out if you tell your boss, 'No, that's illegal,' it doesn't go over very well." [...]

He said he doesn't know how many people have been impacted by Facebook's negative testing but believes the company has engaged in the practice because he was given an internal training document titled, "How to run thoughtful negative tests," which included examples of such experiments being carried out.

"I have never seen a more horrible document in my career," he said.

Pluralistic:

We don't know much else, because Hayward's employment contract included a non-negotiable binding arbitration waiver, which means that he surrendered his right to seek legal redress from his former employer. Instead, his claim will be heard by an arbitrator -- that is, a fake corporate judge who is paid by Facebook to decide if Facebook was wrong. Even if he finds in Hayward's favor -- something that arbitrators do far less frequently than real judges do -- the judgment, and all the information that led up to it, will be confidential, meaning we won't get to find out more.

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MUNI Floppy

SF's Market Street Subway Is Running on Reagan-Era Technology:

"Our train control system in the Market Street subway is loaded off of five-and-a-quarter inch floppy drives," SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin told KQED's Priya David Clemens this week. "We have to employ programmers who are experts in the programming languages of the nineties in order to keep running our current system. So we have a technical debt that stretches back many decades."

Ah yes, the withered programmers from the Nineteen-Hundreds. I'm glad they included these historical fun facts about floppy disks!

For those who've never had to use one -- and keep it far away from any magnets -- floppy disks are still used as the "save" icon on computers worldwide, but they've been obsolete for 30 years or more. Originally a full eight inches across when introduced in the 1970s, floppies later shrunk to five-and-one-quarter inches, and, eventually, a mere three. Early generations were indeed bendable, although the final generation was made of a harder, thicker plastic, with no flop at all. Eventually, CD-ROM technology superseded them before becoming nearly extinct, too.

Here's an article from 2015 about some upgrades, but this sounds like an even older, pre-floppy system:

Muni train control system gets biggest upgrade since the '90s:

In a dank walkway tucked away inside the Van Ness Avenue Muni station is the mainframe that controls Muni trains underground.

Relay racks extend down a cramped hallway nearly 15 feet deep, where dozens of 4-inch copper filaments clatter up and down like teeth. The speedy "click, clack" sound signifies a smooth running Muni light rail automatic control system [...] The clapping beat signifies the proper alignment of the railway's 83 axle (controls) and numerous other track switches. [...]

When this happens, or a track switch is damaged, a green relay cable running the length of the underground track is tripped. This signals the maintenance crew, which then checks each ticking copper relay for those with an off beat, or ones that have stopped altogether. [...]

"Last year, we had water up to here" Haley said, gesturing with his hand to his waist. The relay system is under a city drain, he said. A yellow tarp is strung at the roof of the relay room, while sandbags, a bucket and more tarps are tucked away in the corners. [...]

"These things are hard to replace," Kelly said. "You can't just go to Relays R Us." [...]

The crew that maintains and inspects the relays every night said it is hopeful for the new system -- but it also respects the old one. "I trust it to run another 20 years," said Hoa Huynh, a 20-year maintenance crew member. But, he said, "It's slow. Very slow."

I love the idea that part of the diagnostic process is to stand in this room and listen to it -- "that's not how the tunnel song is supposed to go." An interface that draws big red boxes using a supercomputer is not necessarily easier or more expressive than one that communicates ambiently through the system's inherent musicality.

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Projection Connections

A 16 × 24-inch tangled web showing how 100+ different map projections are all related to each other:

I'm not sure which corner of this image should be labelled "Chaotic Evil".

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The date is now Thursday, March 1069th, 2020.

Adam Daniel: I watched Groundhog Day every day for a year:

"What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?" [...]

In 2021 I was wrestling with the same question. Living in lockdown, I was feeling frustration, ennui, and like forward progress had ground to a halt. The circumstances created an opportunity to subject myself to a very unusual challenge: to watch the same film once a day, every day, for a year. [...]

I began to notice the reoccurrence of certain extras from scene to scene, building my own narrative around their identities. I realised the boy in a wheelchair in the background of the hospital scene is the same boy Phil will eventually save from breaking his leg every day. [...]

By the midway point, my viewing had shifted into a mode of cataloguing and memorisation. Phil Connors's weather reports ran through my head unbidden, and I had built myself a mental map of Punxsutawney to where I felt like I could give directions to a visitor. I began to talk to the film as it played.

Some days, the viewing felt like a curse. When Rita discovers Phil's dilemma, she says: "Maybe it's not a curse. Maybe it depends on how you look at it."

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SOMA Nature Walk: Glue Factory

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Autonomous murderbots still going great

Self-driving cars are causing mayhem on SF streets

In letters to the California Public Utilities Commission seeking to curtail their expansion, the city's Municipal Transportation Agency and County Transportation Authority documented at least 92 incidents between late May and December where self-driving taxis created mayhem on city streets -- disrupting traffic, Muni transit and emergency responders.

Jan 22: Firefighters were battling a two-alarm apartment blaze on the corner of Hayes and Divisadero streets when a driverless Cruise car entered the active firefighting scene and nearly ran over fire hoses on the street. Firefighters at the scene stood in front of the car to try to get it to stop, but the autonomous vehicle came to a halt only after one of them smashed the Cruise car's front window amid the chaotic effort to put out a fire that displaced 25 people.

Sep 22: A Cruise vehicle entered a bus lane, stopped next to a Muni bus near the intersection of O'Farrell and Franklin streets and blocked traffic for 21 minutes.

Sep 23: Five Cruise autonomous vehicles blocked southbound Mission Street just north of the intersection with 29th Street. One of the cars stopped on the central double yellow line, partially blocking an opposing lane of traffic. Traffic was stopped for at least 13 minutes.

Sep 30: A Cruise vehicle came to a stop after nearly colliding with a Muni N-Judah train at the intersection of Carl and Cole streets. The Cruise car blocked light-rail tracks in both directions for close to seven minutes.

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Current Music: Wet Leg -- Oh No ♬

For police PR flacks, quack lives matter

HamasakiLaw:

Watch for "cops save baby ducks" stories in the next few months. Media collaborates with police to produce these puff pieces after every police brutality incident. Literally every dept does these after police killings, it's amazing.

Police seem to be heroically rescuing baby ducks... pretty much everywhere:

I found 30 -- yes 30 -- separate stories from just the last two years before I decided I'd spent enough time on this post. I'm sure a more thorough search would have turned up a lot more.

What's incredible is not just that so many baby ducks keep wandering into storm drains, but also that there are so often police officers nearby to save them, and that word of these rescues keeps finding its way to a local news reporter. It's quite the fortuitous string of coincidences.

In any case, please enjoy these 30 stories about police saving baby ducks.

  • Eureka, California
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Sevierville, Tennessee
  • Hudson, Wisconsin
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania
  • Andover, Massachusetts
  • Bartlett, Tennessee
  • South Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Bellevue, Washington
  • Topeka, Kansas
  • Manlius, New York
  • Jamestown, New York
  • Caldwell, Idaho
  • North Mankato, Minnesota
  • Marlborough, Massachusetts
  • Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Rome, New York
  • Cape May, New Jersey
  • Blue Ash, Ohio
  • Harlingen, Texas
  • Heyward, California
  • Evansville, Indiana
  • Anne Arundel County, Maryland
  • Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Punta Gorda, Florida
  • Overland Park, Kansas
  • Somewhere in Arizona
  • Edmond, Oklahoma
  • Calabash, North Carolina

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The Topologist's World Map

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Lunar Time

Not only do you need leap seconds to keep solar time and atomic time in sync, you'll need a different kind of leap second to keep Lunar atomic time and Earth atomic time in sync, because mass distorts spacetime.

So good luck with that...

Defining lunar time is not simple:

Although the definition of the second is the same everywhere, the special theory of relativity dictates that clocks tick slower in stronger gravitational fields. The Moon's gravitational pull is weaker than Earth's, meaning that, to an observer on Earth, a lunar clock would run faster than an Earth one. Gramling estimates that a lunar clock would gain about 56 microseconds over 24 hours. Compared with one on Earth, a clock's speed would also subtly change depending on its position on the lunar surface, because of the Moon's rotation, says Tavella. "This is a paradise for experts in relativity, because you have to take into account so many things," she adds.

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Storing your calendar in the Clown

Dear Lazyweb,

Can anyone explain to me what the default event alert time actually does on macOS and iOS with iCloud syncing?

What I would like it to mean: "When I create a new event, that event is created with an alert 15 minutes before, instead of needing to add that by hand."

What it seems to actually mean: "If you create an event, even a recurring event, and at any point change the time of that alert, or delete the alert, then the 'default' 15 minute alert is going to show back up anyway, but some random amount of time later, and also only like 70% of the time."

I suspect that if I turned off the default alert on my desktop as well as every other device it would stop re-adding it, but then I would accidentally end up a bunch of events with no alerts at all.

Previously.

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