I read 25 books in 2020. Here are my favourites. In no particular order.
Here are the podcasts that I enjoyed the most in 2020.
There was a lot of good music released in 2020. The Apple Music playlist embedded below has a list of my favourite 20. I was going to cut it down to a top 10. But it was too hard. So it is a top 20!
The pandemic scuppered One Film Per Week in 2020. It was on track until the 29th of February when I saw Pixar’s Onward in the cinema. It was the 11th film I’d seen in a cinema in 2020. Then I did a personal lockdown before it was official. I wasn’t back in the cinema until the 29th of August to see TENET. My final 20202 cinema trip was on the 14th of September to see The Broken Hearts Gallery. Making a total of 13 films seen in the cinema during 2020. Hopefully, vaccination will allow 2021 cinema-going to get back to normal.
From the 13 films seen I’ve picked a top 5 for the year. I think that these 5 would have been on, or very close to a top 10 list.
I took 1,937,711 steps in 2020. This equated to 1,086 miles walked in total. Surprisingly these figures were very similar to the 2019 totals. The 2020 data is presented in chart and table forms below.
The work that The Good Law Project is doing to hold the UK Government to account is fantastic stuff. It’s well worth reading this piece published in The Observer about its founder and public face, Jolyon Maugham.
In June 2020, as millions of Americans protested against systemic racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd – a killing described by many as a modern lynching – the proposal that some military bases be renamed after someone other than white supremacists prompted a tirade from Trump. He tweeted that they were “Monumental and very Powerful Bases”, “Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations” that “have become part of a Great American Heritage”, a “history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom” – in brazen denial of the fact that they had started a war over slavery and lost. Thus for “Winning, Victory, and Freedom”, we must read “losing, defeat, and slavery”, while remembering the importance of the big lie to the Nazi propaganda machine.
In the 2020 presidential election the cult of the leader has also, for the first time in American history, been codified in the official platform of the Republican Party, which promises only to “continue to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda” regardless of what that agenda might be. The Republicans’ current stated allegiance is not to the United States of America, but only to their own “modern Caesar”: in Trump they trust.
The Guardian reported on proposals to tax over-40’s more to pay for social care in later life. My initial thoughts on this are positive. It seems like a good idea to me. Works in Germany and Japan according to the article. Doesn’t add to burden on younger people, who already have a raw deal with rent and mortgage costs.
Doesn’t look like remote work will end anytime soon in the big tech companies. Google said their staff will be working from home until at least June 2021, as reported by Ars Technica. The same article also outlines long term plans by Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Microsoft to extend remote working. Apple followed them this week. As AppleInsider detailed.
This is fabulous. During the lockdown, an amateur woodworker from Belgium built an electric guitar from scratch using a thick wooden shelf he had to hand. This 26-minute video summarises the build. Well worth 26 minutes of your time.
On the topic of spear-phishing: it often uses social engineering techniques to get access to peoples data. Here is a short video that shows how easy it is for scammers to get your info over the phone.
Following the poor Intel results last week, and the announcement of more delays to their 7 nm fabrication process, the company announced some changes in senior roles. One notable one was the appointment of Irish engineer Ann Kelleher to lead the processor division.
We will probably never know how life started on Earth. Deep time and plate tectonics recycling the Earth’s crust will have destroyed the evidence. But it was likely via pre-biotic self-organising chemical reactions. New research summarised in Chemistry World last week shows evidence of some self-replicating molecules showing metabolism. Remarkable stuff.
This is intriguing. Algoriddim djay Pro AI – Neural Mix music app for iPad. It can extract individual vocal, melody or drum tracks from songs. And allow you to mix in different ones from other sones. Using an AI-based algorithm. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work with the DRM protected Apple Music I have. But for non-DRM protected tracks, it is is pretty impressive.
Neotext – a new Sci-Fi fiction publisher launched this week. Their website has both new short stories, and essays about Sci-Fi and concepts from Sci-Fi. This essay by Adam Roberts on how he defines Sci-Fi is excellent.
A New York Times article with inside details of the group that got access to Twitter admin tools and used it to steal valuable and sought after twitter user names to sell. And how one of the group then sent after popular bitcoins companies and then influential Twitter users to scam Bitcoin from people. It looks like 30+ (twitter updated their estimate) of the users also had their Twitter data downloaded. That has everything in it. Not good.
Intel announced this week that they will miss their targets for their next-generation processors. Before that TSMC disclosed that they were moving to risk estimates for their 3nm chip fabrication processes next year, with full production at this smaller scale targeted for 2020. Remarkable! Apple Insider has details. Apple’s iPhone and iPad chips are made by TSMC using Apple’s designs. Mac’s due this year will also use Apple Silicon fabricated by TSMC.
Tim Hartford, who presents the BBC More or Less radio show and podcast, announced that his latest book will be published in September. It is a layperson’s guide to how statistics and other numerical data is used and abused in everyday life. It’s called How To Make The World Add Up! I’ve preordered it on Apple Books!
First, be kind – Your feedback has the power to encourage another person, or shut them down, possibly forever. Excellent advice for everyone. When giving feedback or advice, or even just your opinion. Be nice.
Nebula is a subscription video service for content creators to post educational and information videos without having to worry about ads and the vagaries of the YouTube algorithm. To surface their content. Also, as it’s not YouTube, you won’t be lead by the hand to videos showing the worst of humanity. Only $3 a month. Bargain. I subscribed. They might need to throw more server capacity or network bandwidth at it though. Time will tell, but I’ve had a few buffering issues using it. Issues that I don’t get on YouTube.
WindowSwap opens a random video taken from someone’s window in their house, apartment, or office. The videos are showing what’s happening in that place when the video recording took place. Looks to be recordings rather than live webcams. But still fascinating, and brilliant.
The EU introduced new rules for mediation between businesses and online marketplace providers. The latter include online marketplaces, social media and creative content outlets, app distribution platforms, price comparison websites, professional collaborative platforms, and search engines. In effect in the EU from 12th July. Some interesting stuff, like having to give companies 30 days notice before terminating access to a service. Some are interpreting this as Apple and Google will need to provide 30 days notice before removing apps from their app stores. A summary of the provisions is available here. The full regulations are available in multiple languages and formats here.
Conrad Wolfram has a book and project to try to update the teaching of mathematics to take heed of the fact that computers exist and can be used to enhance the curriculum. Most people in the future will have access to computational power that they can use to do calculations for them. And with knowledge engines like Wolfram Alpha, and AI systems they will often be able to ask questions in plain language. There is a sample lesson for the new maths curriculum they are developing on the Wolfram blog.