Numlock News: July 16, 2020 • Hitchhikers, Knock Codes, Gauls
By Walt Hickey
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Gulf
Marine ecologists at Florida State University scraped samples off the backs of migrating sea turtles to understand just what kind of organisms were clinging to life on their shells. It’s pretty well known that loggerhead turtles are teeming with life that tags along, animals larger than bacteria but still microscopic. The researchers anticipated finding thousands of organisms on the back of each turtle but were shocked with the sheer amount and biodiversity of the life: they found an average 33,000 small creatures per turtle, with the gnarliest loggerhead sporting 150,000 beasts on its back. Fully 7,000 nematodes from 111 genera were found on the turtles, an amount of biodiversity that makes a locker room look like a surgical theater.
Imagine if there was one specific country on earth that inexplicably hated Batman, for no evident reason having zero cultural affinity for a character that everyone else around the world tends to like. This is evidently how French people feel, like, all the time. Asterix is a global comics juggernaut that’s moved 380 million books and has seen translations in 111 languages, a multimedia franchise that is iconic in its home country, France. It’s also barely a blip on the American cultural radar, with estimated sales of the comic — telling the story of a short Gaul with a large best friend who goofily pranks conquering Romans — selling about 100,000 copies annually. The 2015 title was the top selling book on Amazon’s French site but came in at 4,917th on the U.S. charts. In a modern-day last-ditch stand at Alesia, the publishers have put out a new compendium combining re-issues of three early graphic novels — Asterix the Gaul, Asterix and the Golden Sickle, and Asterix and the Goths — that seeks to conquer what Vercingetorix could not, the Amazon.com charts.
Make It 1997 Again Through Science or Magic
When you turn on your television and watch NBC, you’re receiving that network signal through either an owned-and-operated station — one owned by the National Broadcasting Company — or through an affiliate, where a different corporation owns the network and they pay NBC to air the network in an area. These companies — Nexstar, Tegna, Hearst, Gray Television and Sinclair — have a lot of sway over programming, as they’re technically the customer for NBC’s offerings in a lot of the country. And they are very mad about NBC’s 30 Rock reunion special this Thursday, and have opted out of airing it. This is annoying for NBC because it’s also their upfront pitch to advertisers as well as a pitch for Peacock, the new streaming service launched by Kabletown, or whatever that company actually is. Peacock, one might imagine, is seen as a threat by the affiliates, so as it stands the owned-and-operated stations — which cover 40 percent of the U.S. population in the nation’s largest television markets — will be the ones airing the special.
A knock code is a password alternative for phones where you have a two-by-two grid and you punch in a sequence you like to open a device. This unlocking mechanism is used by an estimated 2.5 million people, and the bad news is that a new research paper found that most of those people had the same idea about the code they made. People like to start in the upper left hand box and take it from there, and as a result 18 percent of all codes were one of four different sequences. The 30 most popular codes accounted for 42 percent of the passcodes in the study, and given 10 tries at unlocking a device someone can guess the code 28 percent of the time. Why not, I don’t know, add more boxes, liven it up a bit? Well, they thought of that too, and a two-by-three grid is somehow even worse — people tend to like the same patterns when there are more choices.
Sony is getting ambitious about the PlayStation 5, and will produce up to 10 million units this year rather than the original plan to ship 5 million to 6 million units by March 2021. The revision is understood to be a bet on caution regarding the pandemic this year, with more people spending more time indoors and, thus, more likely to spend time clicking heads and shredding people in ranked competitive. Sony anticipates making 5 million units by the end of September and 5 million in the last quarter of the year, most of which would hit shelves in early 2021 because of the logistical difficulties.
Manufacturers in China are reporting a collapse in the spot price of wholesale face masks as the manufacturing glut that emerged amid unprecedented global demand for protective face coverings is satisfied. The sky-high 1.6 yuan ($0.22) per mask price seen by producers in March is down 90 percent, and the export prices of the final products have fallen from $0.65 in March to anywhere from 17 cents to 20 cents.
Many companies are pulling back from their commitments on Facebook, attributing it either to a high-minded boycott designed to push back on the extremities of what the platform lends voice to or just out of slimming ad budgets. While car companies have pumped the breaks on Facebook ads, apparel companies slimmed down and soft drink companies fizzled out, one industry — Hollywood — is unapologetically throwing money at Facebook with nearly no defections. The top advertiser on Facebook from January 1 to June 30 was The Walt Disney Company, which spent an estimated $212 million according to analyst Pathmatics, and rival studios like WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS and Lionsgate all were in the top 15 buyers in the period. Disney’s spend is more than double the company in the number two spot, Procter & Gamble.
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