Numlock News: July 21, 2020 • Camera, Code, Colorado
By Walt Hickey
Do AO3 Next You Cowards
Lots of us who write code for our jobs have felt the unmistakable urge after making some discombobulated, misbehaving junk code that beguiled us for hours to bury it hundreds of feet below ground in the remote wilderness so that chunk of accursed Python would never again darken our doorsteps or ruin another afternoon. Well, the good news is that Github has taken care of that for us, copying all open-source code now stored on its servers and burying it 820 feet below an arctic mountain. The bad news is that they’ve done it for archival purposes: GitHub copied data on to 186 reels of silver halide microfilm — 8.8 million pixels per reel — to store 21 terabytes in stasis for up to 1,000 years. This is part of a larger goal of constructing an immutable record of computing that can survive discontinuities or unpredictable systemic shifts.
Bring The Heat
According to video surveillance trade outlet IPVM, today there are 170 companies selling thermal imaging technology intended to detect fevers, which is up from less than 30 companies in the game at the beginning of the pandemic. Six companies — one French, five Chinese — dominate the manufacturing space for these screening stations, and another 47 companies resell the tech through their own cameras. The CEO of FLIR — the French thermal camera manufacturer — said coronavirus-related sales through May amounted to $100 million.
Underneath the hood, a lot of universities are more “incredibly wealthy hedge funds latching onto an ancillary not-for-profit educational hobby.” Under-performance for a university’s investment portfolio can cause problems down the line because the amount of money on the line can be really significant. A donor and alumnus of the University of Colorado is suing the school’s foundation, which has $2 billion in assets, arguing that the active management of those funds has under-performed compared to just investing it in an S&P 500 index fund over the same period. University of Colorado’s foundation under-performed the S&P 500 by 5.49 percent annually from 2010 to 2019, according to the suit, and missed out on $1 billion in gains had they just invested in the vanilla index fund.
The 2020 Olympic Games, originally intended to begin in Tokyo this very Thursday, were tentatively moved to next year, and organizers are now tasked with figuring out how it’s possible — if at all — to hold a global sporting event in pandemic conditions. Those considerations will continue at least until the end of the year, with no determination yet as to whether the Games can take place. Opinion polls in Japan show people are skeptical the event will be able to happen, and a Kyodo News poll released Sunday found just 24 percent of the public supported holding the games next year as currently planned. About two-thirds of the Japanese public think the games should be delayed or cancelled altogether.
A new study published in Nature Energy estimates that 8 million tons of solar photovoltaic panels will end up in landfills at the end of the decade, a volume of trash that will rise to 80 million tons by the middle of the century, something like 10 percent of all electronic waste. Landfills lousy with solar trash are hardly an inevitability, the researchers contend, with the brisk business of solar recycling poised to become a $15 billion industry by 2050 according to earlier research, with the old turned into 2 billion new panels. Just one dedicated facility exists in the world that recycles crystalline silicon panels, but the solar industry in the U.S. has scattered partners that can field parts.
As European nations have managed to wrangle the pandemic under control, more than 35 percent of European cinemas have reopened halfway into the summer. Even though the European movie scene is robust and healthy, in the summer the cinemas cede the screens to imports: in France, at least 70 percent of the summer movie market share comes from U.S. studio movies. But the American studios — faced with a spiraling pandemic at home — are effectively punting on the whole summer, exemplified by yesterday’s announcement from Warner Brothers that the Christopher Nolan film Tenet has been removed from the calendar altogether.
Roku has set itself up as a critical toll operator in the streaming space as the largest platform on smart televisions out there. While many know them for their devices that allow streaming services to be directly linked to a television, that’s just a tiny fraction of their actual business, which is advertising and subscriptions to streaming services that go through the Roku system. Roku can get up to 30 percent of those monthly fees for facilitating that access, and negotiates for a slice of the ad revenue for ad-supported streamers. In the first quarter of this year, they made $10.5 million selling Roku devices and $130.6 million from their platform.
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