Bonobo’s Fragments, ArXiv milestones, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2022#02)

Welcome back, routine. Really packed week, but at least today was sunny. Moreover, days are slowly getting longer and longer, so the optimistic inside me says: Spring, here we go!


Bonobo did it again

Just fresh out of the oven today, a new album by Bonobo. It never ceases to amaze me how much he has changed in style over the years, but always keeping such a high quality in his songs. Go enjoy this, folks, do not take good things in life for granted.

FRAGMENTS – BONOBO at Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud

The chips strike back

Such a fun story provoked by the shortage of microchips. As you probably know by now, printer ink is one of the most expensive things in the world. Moreover, builders introduce many systems that try you to force to buy ink only from them, and make refills an herculean task. For decades now, ink/toner cartridges come with chips that check whether or not there is ink inside, and then prevent you from using your device (even for functions that do not entail the use of ink) when the cartridges are empty.

So, what’s all the fuzz about? Apparently Canon had to change the model of the chips on their own toner cartridges, and their printers see those as counterfeit ones, which prevents users from using them. Kudos for the solution they gave, by the way.

It fills me with glee that Canon printers now think Canon’s own toner is fake, on the verge

The story of a ~trillion

Cool read on how the least visionary tech CEO ever managed to grow its company value to a trillion USD (american trillion, for the people using logical units elsewhere). Let this quote from the article sink:

Apple’s market value has grown by more than $700m a day from when Cook took over in August 2011 to this week when it struck $3tn, before falling back.

For me this is the perfect example of how business nowadays does not really need to be neither truly innovative nor creative to succeed. Jobs was some kind of visionary, or at least someone that had clear technological visions and pushed a lot for them to become reality. For the past fifteen years, Apple has been cashing loads of money by selling the most important device of the century: smartphones. And all of that comes from the crazy idea that one device should be able to do emails, music, video, surfing the web, calling your grandpa, and basically all the communication technologies we have ever developed. Cook is one of those robot-like managers that could make a deal with the devil if that was good for the stakeholder pockets, as all the news I’ve shared in the past months show, which is the reason Apple has been growing at such an incredible rate. Is that management style going to be enough when the next technological shifts change where all the money is made? What is Apple going to do in the future about blockchain-based technologies, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and video games taking over all entertainment forms? It will be interesting to see, that’s for sure.

Apple at $3tn: the enigma of Tim Cook, on Financial Times

A new record?

Another news with crazy numbers: Take-Two (yes, the company that has been burning money with Ken Levine for that Bioshock videogame we still have nothing to see) buying a mobile video game company (well, not just “a company”, but the biggest one out there) for more than 12 billion USD. Let’s see what are the final numbers, but the deal is set to broke the previous record (Microsoft buying Bethesda for ~7.5 billion a few years ago) by a big margin. Amazing how mobile gaming is where most of the money is made, while being the place with the worst video games (and monetisation practices) are.

Take-Two to acquire mobile gaming giant Zynga for $12.7B, on techcrunch
Why Take-Two wants to pay nearly $13 billion for the maker of FarmVille, on the verge

Two million papers!

ArXiv, the webpage that changed how we do science, got to two million papers last week. While reaching this milestone, Scientific American published a cool piece on its history, and the challenges that the service is currently facing (shortage of people working there, money). Quite an interesting read.

ArXiv.org Reaches a Milestone and a Reckoning, on Scientific American

The Wordle incident

Chances are high if you are on Twitter that you have recently seen in your timeline some tweets full of coloured squares. If you do not know about it, everything comes from this Wordle game, where you try to guess a different word every day. Everything started as a simple game, hosted on a website. It got extremely popular, and of course many copycats started to appear in both the Android and Apple stores. This is not really new, as success attracts money-grabbers since the start of times. However, there was a lot of backlash on twitter for some of those copycats, and quite a lot of websites reported on the fact and wrote many articles. What I find interesting here is that I have seen a general feeling that the developer of the web-based game was being scammed by either Android or Apple stores because of the fact that it is not straightforward (or possible at all), to put web-based services in there.

Come on, the guy just wanted to make a cool game for his girlfriend, and published it for free for everyone to enjoy. He did not plan to win millions offering in-app purchases or anything. It is not like he really invented the game (I have played this on paper+pen a million times when I was a kid). Can’t we enjoy these little nice things for once without making everything revolve about money?

Wordle is being punished by app stores for choosing the open web, on techcrunch

Awesome Games Done Quick is live!

Not for long now, but there is this cool event gathering money for fighting against cancer. Super cool video games getting beaten extremely fast.

Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 Online – Benefiting Prevent Cancer Foundation, on twitch.tv

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe (if you can)!

Bioshock’s development hell, buy Apple or die, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2022#01)

First recap of the year. Just came back from holidays, so it will be a short one. Let’s get to it:


Arcane was a hit, so now we are going to see a bazillion video game tv shows

Basically the header. Arcane, based on League of Legends, was a mega hit on Netflix by the end of last year. This means that the rest of platforms also want to make their own video game shows, and Prime Video seems to be starting with Fallout. I am super skeptical with these kind of adaptations (and even more with the people involved right now), and the story behind Fallout is not so good to start with (actually, it is borderline ridiculous), but the setting and the atmosphere of the video games are so cool that there might still be a little chance we get something cool. It cannot be worse than The Witcher, right? RIGHT?

‘Fallout’: Kilter Films’ TV Series Based On Games Moving Forward At Prime Video With Jonathan Nolan Directing; Duo Set As Showrunners, on deadline

Pay to win

From the creators of charging you for doing their work, while other researchers work for them for free, now we get the novel scam on the block: pay even more for having a faster peer review process. I am specially puzzled by the number of submissions on the test, and what are the kind of conclusions you can get with that ridiculous sample size. Probably the biggest chunk of information they got is the fact that +150 editors working for the editorial would resign if they finally implement that system.

Nature journal ‘playing with fire’ over fee for fast-track review, on timeshighereducation

Fast-track peer review experiment: First findings, on nature


Do you want to be alive? Buy our watch

The trillion dollar company does it again. Fear of missing out (FOMO) now gets to a whole new level: fear of dying if you do not have an Apple Watch. Don’t get me wrong, wearables are incredible tools for monitoring your health, and of course a device like this can save lives in dangerous situations, but this ad seems too macabre for my taste.


The figure police is here

Last year I was contacted from an optics journal to perform a review on a manuscript that was sent for publication. This is not news, as I do a lot of peer review (around 1-2 papers a month, on average). Typically I take a quick look at the manuscript before I decide whether or not to accept the review: I see if it lies inside my area of expertise, if I will be able to make a review in time (sometimes reviews can last for months, and schedules are always tight), etc. While having this quick look I got the feeling that I was very familiar with the topic, so review would be easy to do, and I accepted it. Moreover, one of the authors is a very well known researcher in the field, and I know his papers tend to be quite well written, which always eases the reviewing process. After my first read in detail, the feeling that I had read the results before got bigger and bigger. While this is usually a bad sign, it is quite common to publish pre prints of your works, so I performed a quick internet search in order to see if that was the case. However, I immediately discover that the authors had published a couple papers before on the same topic, and after downloading them, I realised in a matter of minutes why the results felt so familiar: multiple figures with the experimental results of the paper I had to review were duplicates of figures in those older papers. After an in-depth reading, it was quite clear that they were trying to publish the same results two times in different journals. Of course, I informed the editor of the journal and wrote a letter to the authors, which in the end resulted in the rejection of the submission. Usually that’s the end of the story, but a couple months later I received another mail from a different journal (from a different editorial group), with the same manuscript (zero changes were made, including the same figures). I rejected the publication again (stating that it was the second time I had received the manuscript), and never got to see the manuscript again. I forgot about it, only to see it published about half a year later in a third journal (from a third editorial group). You know what they say: three times the charm. In the last submission they managed to get a reviewer which was not familiar enough with the topic, so no one noticed the fraud, and the paper got published.

These kind of stories happen more than what you might think, and some journals have started to use machine learning tools to try to fight back. Using anti plagiarism software is not something new, but these new approaches might be so sophisticated that even if you try to add noise or edit your figures (adding rotations or small modifications) it could be possible to discover the stratagem before publication. Happy to start the year sharing some good uses of Artificial Intelligence.

Journals adopt AI to spot duplicated images in manuscripts, on nature

Ken Levine being Ken Levine

Last year I read a couple books by Jason Schreier on video game development and how the industry works. In one of those, there was a chapter talking about the development of Bioshock: Infinite, which gave a lot of insight on how the studio director, Ken Levine, managed development. Now we see a new piece on what’s the status of his next video game (if it manages to see the light someday). It really makes you think about how much money big companies are willing to bet in order to have a small chance of releasing one of those gems that change the way people perceive the medium (and that sell tens of millions of copies worldwide).

The Next Video Game From BioShock’s Creator Is in Development Hell, on bloomberg

Hold it

From the industry that tried to shove 3D down your throat (with ridiculous results), now comes the stupid trend to pay $$$ for showing ugly .jpeg files to your friends. At least they will not be able to copy/paste them from your screen, which I guess is a big advance in the field? 2022 starts as 2021 ended, with crazy liberal bullshit going mainstream faster and faster…

Samsung promises ‘groundbreaking’ new TV feature: NFT support, on the verge

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Featured image from Minority Report

AI therapy, the new tech giants, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#52)

Bye bye 2021, crossing fingers for a better 2022. This week I had the chance to catch up with my reading list (I had a feed of news that was more than 2 months old, lol), so there might be a few old links in here…


MIT tech review pictures of the year

Last week I shared the photography recap from Nature, and this week I saw the one from the MIT tech review, which is also quite good. Transhumanism, RNA vaccines, and the algorithms behind social media are just a few of the news in the link. Cool reads for the holidays.

Our favorite photographs from 2021, on the MIT technology review

The list gets bigger and bigger

This is not a very big news, but I cannot help but notice all the big tech companies bending the knee during the past few years to the Chinese government. Not long ago I posted about Apple and Amazon, and now we see Intel letting forced labour pass in order to increase benefits.

Intel Apologizes After Asking Suppliers to Avoid China’s Xinjiang Region, on the wall street journal
Intel facing China backlash after Xinjiang statement, on reuters

All hail our new overlords

Very interesting article comparing old industry leaders (car, health, and technological manufacturers) to the biggest companies around today (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook). It is cool to see some of the parallelisms, such as the general trend to expand their business into new markets and services. However, a relevant difference is how the current giants are managed. Most of the new giant conglomerates have been built around some kind of ecosystem that started small, but increased in capabilities over time. Take Apple for example. They started building computers, but later introduced music players (and digital music stores), smartphones, and tablets. Of course, they also introduced devices around those, such as headphones and other peripherals. During the past decade or so, they also expanded the software they provide: you have the OS, but also a streaming service to watch series and films, listening to music, a cloud service to store your files and pictures, etc.

This makes an enormous difference with old conglomerates. When a giant such as Toshiba launches a new product line that has nothing to do with their core activity, its survival depends on the economical success of that small company. They might have the patience to wait for a couple years if things do not go well, but sooner or later they will terminate the business. On the other hand, Google can maintain YouTube forever even if its a losing money machine, because it is part of a rich ecosystem of services on the web. The money they lose there, they earn in other services that profit from its existence. The same applies for other products from Microsoft, Apple, or Facebook.

One point that I missed in the article is how the old conglomerates helped shape the world we live in right now. Cars completely modified how we build cities (for worse, in my opinion). They influenced society in a way that provoked huge ecological impact, an impact we are seeing nowadays and we have not fixed yet. Modern tech giants have done similar things. Social media has changed how people interact, how we see ourselves, and how we show our life to others. Nowadays, everyone is a personal brand, and getting likes on a social network is more important than having a good life for many (in fact, getting likes equals a good life for many). Manufacturing everyday electronics (computers, smartphones, autonomous cars) keeps polluting at an alarming rate, and its based on materials such as rare earths, that are only available in a bunch of locations around the globe. Most of those devices are built in countries where human rights are second, and cheap labour is first. We see how legislation is years behind (if not decades) concerning the services these companies offer “for free”, which attacks our privacy in multiple ways. Furthermore, these giants have so much power that changing that legislation has become extremely difficult, either because they openly oppose it, or just by the fact that they can escape from it in almost infinite ways. It seems to me that we do things because we can, not because we actually need them, which has proved to be quite dangerous in the past.

We started rebuilding our cities with people in mind, not cars, not long ago. Let’s see how much time do we have to wait for our society to reconsider the use we make of technology.

Move Over, GE. The Tech Conglomerates Are the New Leaders of Industry, on the wall street journal

art + alchemy = science?

Amazing piece on the MIT technology review about how the use of machine learning is providing new tools to improve how psychotherapists help their patients. I’ve always been amazed about psychotherapy, because it just feels million light years away from any medical science. It is extremely dependent on the relationship between patient and doctor. Each therapist has its own arsenal of tools and techniques, with different therapy modalities depending on the person seeking help. This makes mental health problems extremely hard to cure, and people tend to desist going into therapy if their first experience is not good. What really puzzles me is how by adding machine learning, which is another kind of black box, you can improve the results of therapy. It seems that we are not that far away from machines to identify that personal touch or je ne sais quoi from exceptional psychotherapists, after all.

The therapists using AI to make therapy better, on the MIT technology review

No sir, our model is the trapezoid

And the last one this year, another NFT joke. Removing the uniqueness of tokens for the sake of making money.

Two NFT copycats are fighting over which is the real fake Bored Ape Yacht Club, on the verge

And that’s it for the year. Stay safe!

Featured image from Karolin Schnoor

2021 in review: games, books, music, series, films…

Year is almost over, and I want to write a brief recap of some cool things I’ve enjoyed in 2021, in no particular order (but with a “best of the year” in each category, marked in blue):

Video games

Monster Hunter: Rise

Monster Hunter Rise llegará a PC a principios de 2022 - Vandal

This was the first Monster Hunter I played since the PSP era, and boy I liked it. Quite polished mechanics, super fun with friends (even though the online with the Switch was a bit shit) and super accessible (I love how they have simplified a lot of stuff from older games).

Hades

Hades | Programas descargables Nintendo Switch | Juegos | Nintendo

100% achievement run, with additional hard challenges (that 32 heat run was epic). I can’t believe how good this game is (no surprise is the only game with a Hugo award, hehe). Hades fight with Extreme Measures is something I think I will remember for a looong time.

Loop Hero

Loop Hero | Descárgalo y cómpralo hoy - Epic Games Store

Such an original indie roguelike. Super fun, innovative mechanics, and a good story.

Inscryption

▷ Inscryption: Cómo abrir la caja fuerte - consejos y trucos

Game of the year by a small margin (Obra Dinn and Loop Hero are fantastic), but this was incredible. The game is super fun, but then you add the meta storytelling, nice visuals and music, and mind blowing twists. Easily one of the best video games I have ever played, and a work that shows the unique storytelling this medium can achieve.

Return of the Obra Dinn

Return of the Obra Dinn foto 3 - MasGamers

Super cool “detective” game from our lord, Lucas Pope. You get to the ship with some notes about a disaster, and you have to identify all the people on board, and how they died. Masterpiece.

Mini Metro

Analizamos Mini Metro, el premiado simulador de transporte público para  iPhone

Such a cool little puzzle game. Build your metro lines and help people go to work, with a minimalist style and calming music.

Shows

The wheel of time

Amazon's The Wheel of Time Immersive 360 Official Trailer Sets Up A Dark  Magical World | Geek Culture

I haven’t enjoyed any fantasy on tv since Game of Thrones season one, and I was gladly surprised by The Wheel of Time. I knew the books before but I was always afraid of starting such a long series (+15 books), so I was interested in the show as an introduction to the world. Music, scenarios, and production in general was top notch for a series, and the story was interesting enough for me to get back every week. Now I have a problem, because I want to start reading the books but time is so scarce…

Y: the last man

Y: The Last Man Season 1 Episode 5: Mann Hunt Recap – Metawitches

Loved the adaptation. The casting was amazing, and the story, while known (I loved the comic), is super cool. I was very surprised when they cancelled the show midseason, but I am pretty sure the project will come back in a different channel, because it has a lot of potential.

Avenue 5

Avenue 5' tendrá temporada 2: HBO renueva la serie del creador de 'Veep'

This was such a surprising small series. Super fun, with a lot of sci-fi details for fans of the genre, and with a short duration (which I particularly prefer). Highly recommended and a strong contender for show of the year among the stuff I watched.

Invincible

Five Thoughts On Invincible's “Where I Really Come From” – Multiversity  Comics

Very cool adaptation from the comics. Before airing, I only hoped to see some particular scenes animated, but the show delivered in every aspect. For future seasons I would love to see an increase in the budget so we can see better animation and more details in the designs, but I will gladly keep watching even if the quality keeps the same.

Fleabag

Emmys 2019: "Fleabag", la sorprendente serie que rompió estereotipos y robó  protagonismo a "Game of Thrones" en la gala - BBC News Mundo

Fun and deep in equal parts, talking about topics that are not very common in modern tv. After devouring the show in a week, I saw all the work from Phoebe Waller-Bridge, which I liked a lot. Looking forward to see what she does next.

Films

The french dispatch

The French Dispatch Review – A beautiful but hollow movie | Federal  Regulations Advisor

This was so beautiful that I had to re-watch a couple stories in it because I was not paying attention to the dialog. Wes Anderson is a unique director, and this is another exhibit.

Captain Fantastic

Pediatría Basada en Pruebas: Cine y Pediatría (483). “Captain Fantastic” y  los hijos de Noam Chomsky

Beautiful and funny on the surface, but deep and hard below it. Probably my all time favourite anti capitalism film.

Dune

Dune: Parte dos': Personaje y argumento de la secuela

Visually stunning, and a good adaptation of the first half of the book. Looking forward to the second part.

The Father

The Father (2020) - IMDb

Almost tied with my favourite movie of this year. Anthony Hopkins is one of the best actors alive, and this film gets carried to really high standards by him (with an amazing cast around). Funny at times, but with extremely tough moments, it is a movie I still think about from time to time.

Summer 1993

Festival de Málaga

Spanish movie about dealing with the loss of your loved ones, from the perspective of a small girl. Beautifully shot, with clever writing and covering a relevant and usually overlooked topic. Highly recommended, and the movie that surprised me the most this year.

Books

Brandon Sanderson – The stormlight archive saga:

The Way of Kings

WAY OF KINGS: Book One of the Stormlight Archive: 1 : Sanderson, Brandon:  Amazon.es: Libros

Words of Radiance

Words Of Radiance: Stormlight Archive 02 (Tor Books) : Sanderson, Brandon:  Amazon.es: Libros

Edgedancer

Edgedancer: From the Stormlight Archive (English Edition) eBook :  Sanderson, Brandon: Amazon.es: Tienda Kindle

Oathbringer

Oathbringer: Book Three of the Stormlight Archive: 3 : Brandon Sanderson,  Brandon Sanderson: Amazon.es: Libros

The Stormlight Archive has become my favourite fantasy saga by far. What surprised me the most is how Sanderson created his characters, which are the most human I’ve ever read in the genre. Intriguing story, full of twists and epic moments (Honor is dead!). Fully recommended.

Darren Byler – In the Camps: China’s High-Tech Penal Colony

Columbia Global Reports | In The Camps · Columbia Global Reports

Super nice piece of journalism about the stories that we never see about China, particularly about how religious minorities are treated (spoiler: human rights are a joke).

Clifford D. Simak – Way Station

Way Station : Simak, Clifford D.: Amazon.es: Libros

This year I wanted to read some stories from my favourite science fiction author, and Way Station was the best of them all. While below the level of City (which is my favourite science fiction book ever), Way Station was a very nice read. Space stations, teleportation, interplanetary travel, what makes us human, and the fear of total annihilation by a nuclear war are some of the topics in the novel.

James Clavell – Shōgun

Shogun: A Novel of Japan (Asian Saga) : Clavell, James: Amazon.es: Libros

While a bit clichéd, a captivating novel about an european lost in the feudal Japan. Think about The Last Samurai, but with pirates instead of USA soldiers. If you like Japan or its culture, you will love this for sure.

Jason Schreier – Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made & Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry

Press Reset: Ruin and Recovery in the Video Game Industry : Schreier,  Jason: Amazon.es: Libros
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video  Games Are Made by Jason Schreier

A couple wonderful books about the world of video game development. It was really surprising for me to read about the miracle that is when a big budget video game sees the light, and how the industry mistreats their working force (which I couldn’t help but link to the situation at academia, btw).

Music albums

Here I will just make a list of new stuff that I loved or surprised me, plus a blast from the past:

Greta Van Fleet - The Battle at Garden's Gate.png

Greta Van Fleet – The Battle at Garden’s Gate

Favourite song: Built by Nations

A Beginner's Mind - Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine.jpg

Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine – A Beginner’s Mind

Favourite song: Olympus

Mayéutica: Robe, Robe: Amazon.es: CDs y vinilos}

Robe – Mayéutica

Favourite song: Tercer movimiento: Un instante de luz

Sour : Olivia Rodrigo, Olivia Rodrigo: Amazon.es: CDs y vinilos}

Olivia Rodrigo – Sour

Favourite song: enough for you

Maduk - Transformations – Liquicity

Maduk – Transformations

Favourite song: Go (ft. Lachi)

Soothing Melodies Shine on Lane 8's Latest Album, Brightest Lights -  EDM.com - The Latest Electronic Dance Music News, Reviews & Artists

Lane 8 – Brightest Lights

Favourite song: The Rope (ft. POLIÇA)

Blast from the past: Madeon – Icarus – Fred V & Grafix remix

Extra ball: Favourite song in a video game, Hades – God of the Dead (+ The Unseen Ones)

Random stuff

I went running 245 times, which accounted for more than 2000 km.

Published a cool paper, and almost managed to squeeze another one in December, but it will go on the 2022’s list.

I survived my second year in Paris, managed to evade Covid, and got three vaccine shots.

Re-read The Lord of the Rings, and this time I kinda loved it. I guess it gets better with age…

Re-started the weekly recap, and had a lot of fun writing every piece.

Kept doing the podcast, and also a bit of streaming on twitch, which was quite fun.

I was able to travel a little bit and come back home to see family and friends. I spent Christmas back at my parents, where everyone is healthy.


And that’s it for the year recap. I could not help but add more and more things while I was writing it, which is always a good sign. I am pretty sure I missed some stuff that I really enjoyed, but I do not like to take notes on entertainment, so I am going to call it done for now.

Featured image from Stephen Li

Tsunami’s magnetic fields, AI dungeons, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#51)

Already back home, resting with the family. Not going to lie: while I enjoy writing this a lot, do not expect very extended takes on some of the news for a couple weeks, as my brain is officially on holidays. Let’s start:


Detecting a Tsunami by using magnetism

Classic news that I read and say “yeah, this totally makes sense”, but never really crossed my mind. Instead of looking at how sea level grows when a tsunami is happening, it is actually possible to just look at the magnetic field that the water generates while moving (you know, as charged particles moving generate a magnetic field when you study physics 101). The cool thing here is that you can detect the event even before the water level rises, so this could help avoid deaths when tsunamis occur close to urban areas.

Tsunamis’ magnetic fields are detectable before sea level change, on phys.org

AI in gaming: this is how I like it

Imagine a game that is completely different every time you play it. It is also different for each person playing it, and learns the stuff you like, and how much action, story, or cool visuals it needs to generate for you to have the best possible experience. It creates totally unique and curated stories for you, and has endless replayability. This is exactly what the people at AI Dungeon want to develop. I had a short experience with AI Dungeon 2 this year, and while “just” being a conversational adventure, I had a lot of fun. Of course, there are a lot of rough edges to polish, and the pitfalls about what kind of content the AI algorithms can or should generate will always be there (we should be extremely careful about that, and it feels like a topic that not many people care about).

Still, I really like the idea of exploring these novel tools on the videogame medium. Can’t wait to see what kind of games we will have in a decade.

AI Dungeon’s creators are launching an experimental AI-powered game platform, on the verge

5⭐ this

I’ve already shared the news about Apple working shoulder-to-shoulder with the Chinese government: you do as I say, and I let you sell your stuff in one of the biggest markets in the globe. The problem comes when the government peeks into people’s privacy, or commits genocide. Still, those seem to be minor things that we should not worry about, or at least it seems that it is for a growing list of companies, which Amazon is part of. Manipulating search results? We are experts on that. Cherry-picking 5⭐ reviews? No problemo, we also know how to do that. We just want to sell our cloud services in return.

Funniest thing is that Amazon says it is just a matter of free speech. Is it almost as good as the privacy motto from Apple.

Special Report: Amazon partnered with China propaganda arm, on reuters

🔥🔥🔥 🦆🦆🦆 🔥🔥🔥

2020 sucked, and though 2021 has been better, it still sucked in many ways. However, there has been a constant over the past few years, which is Maduk doing these amazing mixes with the best from the drum’n’bass genre. He also did a couple sessions during the confinement that particularly helped me not going completely insane. Kudos to him, and I hope we can enjoy these forever (and for live concerts to be a thing again in the near future).


Is there any hope left in the MCU?

I’ve grown quite tired of the MCU during the past few years, but Dr. Strange is one of my favourite characters from the comics (I still remember Triumph and Torment from time to time, and its been years since I read it) , and the first movie had super cool visuals. Moreover, Benedict Cumberbatch is freaking amazing, and it seems there will be at least two of them on this. Plus Scarlet Witch. Crossing fingers for this being a good movie. Please. Please please please.


And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Sci-Hub trials, entering The Matrix, and more: THE WEEKLY RECAP (2021#50)

Two weeks to finish the year, and many rankings are starting to appear. I will try not to saturate the remaining recaps, but some are quite cool and I want to share them. Also, if time allows, I will try to write a bit about the videogames/books/shows/movies that I particularly enjoyed this year. Let’s get to it:


Nature’s best images of the year + 10 people who helped shape science in 2021

Nothing new here about the pics, as I have been sharing them every month. However, it is always to cool to take a look at the recap of the year, just in case you missed some interesting story. I am still particularly impressed by the pictures from La Palma, though there are some other impressive articles on the list.

On the other hand, Nature also wrote a cool piece about ten people who delved into relevant aspects of science. While I am not a big fan of personalising studies or causes (nothing is really researched or solved by a single person), I think it is quite cool to give voice to the people that dedicate their work to relevant topics. Of course, this year all the rankings are going to be filled with Covid related stuff, and this is no exception. However, there are still several mentions to themes that I have covered along these posts. Climate change research, the morals of AI, and aerospace are just some of the stories you can dive into. A cool read for the holidays!

The best science images of 2021, on Nature
Nature’s 10, on Nature

This week we also saw how a trial in India could reshape the way we publish and read scientific papers. The main point of the news is that India might allow Sci-Hub to operate in the country, based on the fact that a free access to scientific information is more relevant for the nation that copyright claims from giant publishers.

I have written about Sci-Hub many times in the blog, and also about how the whole publishing sector feels like a bad joke to me. For a decade now, Sci-Hub has been fighting against the system by allowing researchers all over to globe to jump above the paywall system that many publishers have imposed. While doing so, they have created a service which is exceptionally efficient: you just copy the link of the paper or its digital identifier and the content “magically” appears before your eyes. It literally takes less than 20 seconds to do the whole process, while conventional systems require multiple logins, institutional checks, and going through obsolete webpages that have not been updated since the 90’s (another day we can talk about some paper submission systems, which usually make you lose a full day just to send a pdf with your work for reviewing). And of course, that only works if your institution payed millions to the publishers in the first place. Otherwise you can buy a full article for about +40$, or the journal’s full volume for +100$.

There is actually a big resemblance with how music was consumed just a couple decades ago. People were doing music, people were buying music, but most of the money was going on the wrong hands (i.e. not to the artists). With scientific research, everyone is paying the scientists to do research (mainly with their taxes), the scientists are writing, proofreading (for free), reviewing (for free), editing (for free), and paying for publishing and accessing the papers, while publishers get a massive cut for basically maintaining an online database (to no surprise, academic publishing is one the business with the biggest profits in the world).

I don’t think that Sci-Hub’s model is the perfect solution, and many things have to change in science in order to solve the publishing problems (impact factors, institutions favouring number over quality of publications, etc.). However, I am all in on something that disturbs the status quo. As Napster was the first step to a more fair music ecosystem, Sci-Hub might be the most important movement we have seen in how science is accessed in a very long time (maybe ever?). It is time that supposedly clever people get out of such a dumbass system, once and for all.

What Sci-Hub’s latest court battle means for research, on Nature

The Matrix Awakens

It is quite challenging to describe with words the Matrix demo that people from the Unreal team made. I think it is even hard to grasp the tech jump even by watching it on video. I am really curious to see how movies will look like in the upcoming years. Will we still watch non-interactive films in a decade from now, or the genre will start to fuse with interactive experiences? Will games take over as young people today get to conform the majority of the mass market?

Anyway, really impressive details on the faces of both Neo and Trinity, amazing movement animations, and a city that just feels unrealistically real. The future is here.

There is also a cool interview on how was the making of the demo, with really good points on the future of tech by Moss and Reeves. Kudos to Keanu for the comments on NFTs, crypto, and Facebook’s metaverse.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss on making The Matrix Awakens with Epic Games, on the verge
The Matrix Awakens didn’t blow my mind, but it convinced me next-gen gaming is nigh, on the verge

And that’s it for the week. Stay safe!

Featured image from Emilio Morenatti