• Facebook Messages Can Reveal Substance Abusers

    I’m on the fence a little about this one, but want to throw it out there.

    How Data Mining Facebook Messages Can Reveal Substance Abusers.

    Substance abuse changes people’s patterns of behavior, and this is detectable in their social media messages, say researchers.”


    I have mentioned in the past about how machine learning roughly works.
    You feed it a ton of data, tell it what is good and bad (roughly) and then it goes to work on said ton, learns and spits out some results on the data.
    You tweak it and feed it back in. In short order, the machine knows better than we (humans) do.
    This is exactly what they did.
    Got people to volunteer if they used drugs, alcohol or smoked and posted on Facebook.
    The machine learning used those people’s habits to learn the differences in their posts between when they were clean and when they were on drugs.
    Once that baseline was set, they then released the AI on Facebook at large and….. well, according to them….

    The results make for interesting reading. The team says its technique was hugely successful. “Our best models achieved 86% for predicting tobacco use, 81% for alcohol use and 84% for drug use, all of which significantly outperformed existing methods,” say Bickel and co.

    Whoa. So the computer can pick with ~80% accuracy if someone is posting on Facebook under the influence.
    Scary. Super scary.
    I will leave it to you to think about that for a moment.
    (And Dan, just because you don’t post to Facebook does not let you off the hook, you have a blog right… it can be scraped…. Gary. Mate. No hope for you :-).

    So why was I on the fence about blogging about it? Because it appears that the study has not been peer reviewed. The whole ‘study’ was done by a couple of guys that had an interest in machine learning.

  • Make the Internet work how I want it to

    Aaron Swartz once said, “It’s no longer OK not to understand how the Internet works.”

    He was talking to law-makers, policy-makers and power-brokers, people who were, at best, half-smart about technology — just smart enough to understand that in a connected world, every problem society has involves computers, and just stupid enough to demand that computers be altered to solve those problems.

    Paging Theresa May.

    Theresa May says that last night’s London terror attacks mean that the internet cannot be allowed to provide a “safe space” for terrorists and therefore working cryptography must be banned in the UK.

    Longish sensible destruction of Theresa Mays request to break all crypto on the Internet.

    Blogging about it not because I am political in anyway (you know me, I don’t understand people, how in the world then can I ever hope to understand politics?), but because these people are in some position of power, they can ‘force’ software engineers to do or not do things.

    (I have likewise stayed away from the Net Neutrality ‘war’ that has been going on over here).

    No, I am blogging about it to just raise awareness. I feel totally powerless to do anything about any of this, but figure that more people should know about some of the dangerous stuff that gets spouted about as knee jerk reactions to horrible events.

    Had a ‘run in’ with a software developer once that thought like this. Without reading the manual, he just instinctively knew how every Opto command worked. When his code did not do what he expected, he complained to me that the core firmware should be changed so that the command worked how he wanted it.
    No questions asked. He was right, Opto was wrong. This was a solid fact.

    “Its no longer Ok not know how the core functions of our life work.” Thebaldgeek – June 2017.

  • Update

    So, uh… we just ran out of scheduled posts…..
    This means I either have to tackle the backlog of stuff I want to share or I let the blog languish for a bit or I blog about what I am doing that is keeping me busy…. Is there a 4th option?

    I have been at an old co-workers house since getting back from the canyon.
    Freddy has been there for a week on her own – when we signed up to do the two week stint a few months ago there was no hint of the canyon thing, so we agreed since we would be at the house together.
    It was a bit of a rough first week for Freddy on her own, the puppy is pretty crazy energetic.
    Having me around is not much help on the dog side of thing, but more just another human to talk to.
    We are back at our house tonight. For a week and a wee bit, then we are off to another house for a dog sit for just shy of a week.
    Once we get back from that, we have my mate and his wife (and newish baby) come visit from Phoenix for 4 days.
    All in a all, it turned out to be a really busy month.
    Not complaining, just explaining why the blog is a little bumpy.

    I took around 4671 photos while in the Canyon, so first order of getting home and on my photo editing computer is to get them uploaded and started to be sorted so I can see what edits are required.
    Would love to thin that lot down to something like 100 of the best.

    Our church has asked me to step up and get involved in the video editing of the church services. This will take a bit of a learning curve on some of the software, but is something I am happy to do.

    I honestly thought I would start twitching after a day or so of being 100% off-line in the Canyon, but nothing of the sort happen. In fact, since getting back, I have not been all that active on social media, and am going to try and keep it that way…. In other words, let the time spent doing that flow into the photo and video editing rather than try and do both.

    So, thats a bit of an update from this end of the world.
    Work is going as usual. We are in the studio a little more than usual, have one video in the bank – connecting our controller to IBM IoT platform.
    Just recorded another yesterday on temperature sensing – Our video guy is still editing that one.
    Today I am working on a script for the next video.
    The hope is that Terry is going to Intern at Opto for some of the summer and do my job while I keep cranking out videos.
    Since Terry will be home for summer, I am sure there will be some drone adventures we will get up to, so yeah, busy times ahead…. Not sure how to blog it….

  • Not whats on the wrapper

    We all knew this, but it’s getting worse.


    We recently designed a barcode scanner to use with our online store. To power the scanner, we decided to use 18650 size lithium ion batteries as they are high capacity for their weight and cheap to buy. This was the first project that has used li-ion batteries so we looked on ebay for some that would be suitable and found some UltraFire batteries that were supposedly rated at 5Ah.

    So, to sum up the intro, they have a product that needs to run on batteries, so they jumped on eBay and bought some.
    The wrapper said 5000mAh (or 5 amp hour).

    The device should have run 20 hours, it ran 5. Either the device was way wrong (they designed it themselves) or the batteries were not giving their rated output.
    Spoiler. They tested the batteries first. They did not have to test their device.

    All four UltraFire batteries were well below their rated 5000mAh with the lowest at only 643mAh and the highest at 930mAh. The two Samsung batteries held a capacity of just over 2.5Ah so they were close to their rated capacities.

    Just pause here a moment and think about this. The batteries were sold as 5000mAh, they lasted around 700mAh. 700!!!!!!!!
    Total crap! I mean, not just junk, not just mildly useless, but total and utter junk.
    The seller had to know this…. I know, I know, I should not be shocked that someone was knowingly dishonest. I mean are you really going to try and return them? Give them a one star rating? Nothing we can do this one time is going to ‘hurt’ them. Nothing. We just have to suck it up, take the loss and move on.

    The bottom line is the whole point of this blog…..

    The lesson to be learned from this test? Don’t buy cheap batteries from ebay.

    To that, I have to add Amazon. Terry and I have had a hard time finding good quality drone batteries even from Amazon.

    Another blog – because at this time, I don’t have any proof – but I suspect that ‘we’ (Joe Public) are having a hard time buying good quality Lithium batteries because of the electric car companies are buying all the good stuff for themselves.

  • Using a human brain to teach a robot how to shoot better

    We (the humans) are teaching them (the robots) how to shoot better by uploading our brains into theirs…. What could possibly go wrong?


    Modern sensors can see farther than humans. Electronic circuits can shoot faster than nerves and muscles can pull a trigger. Humans still outperform armed robots in knowing what to shoot at — but new research funded in part by the Army may soon narrow that gap.

    See, I don’t make this stuff up! I really don’t… mostly because I have better things to do, and mostly because I don’t have to!!
    (I just have to sit still for a brief moment and this crazy real stuff just shows up on my RSS feed – in real time).

    Researchers from DCS Corp and the Army Research Lab fed datasets of human brain waves into a neural network — a type of artificial intelligence — which learned to recognize when a human is making a targeting decision.

    The goal, one day, is a neural net that can learn instantaneously, continuously, and in real-time, by observing the brainwaves and eye movement of highly trained soldiers doing their jobs.

    So yeah, that’s about the guts of it.
    We have people working on making neural nets and we have others working on making them faster.

    Just yesterday I may have Googled how to build my first neural net on a Raspberry Pi…… I have to dip a toe into this stuff, super curious what it’s all about and how I can start training one with some of the data floating around in my house…. My thinking is, we may as well give up now and invite this stuff in through the front door, least then I know where the kill switch is for when it becomes self aware.