I’ve just finished watching Unnatural Selection — a new Netflix docuseries on gene editing, maverick biohackers and designer babies. It is well worth a look as it highlights some of the very promising and potentially very dangerous, often stranger-than-fiction, technologies quickly developing on the basis of recent advances in biological sciences.

As mind-blowing and far-reaching the implications of these discoveries and technologies are for the future of humanity and our world here on Earth, I could not help but notice something else as well:

In popular media, scientists are still being portrayed as romantic heroes working alone in desolate labs.

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Staged!

Science leaders work in offices, not labs


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A multi-billion dollar company like Twitter — with its stellar engineering and design teams — surely will not have any readily noticeable and persistent user-facing bugs in their main product, right? Not for months! Gasp. Years?!


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Ever wanted to delete your Facebook account, but had good reasons why you couldn’t, but still really wanted to? Read on for what you can do. The goal is to stop using Facebook, break your ties to it and get the habit out of your system. To help you with that, there are a few changes you can make that are much harder to undo than to recover a deleted account within the allowed 30 days.

But why not #DeleteFacebook altogether?

I wish I could say goodbye to Facebook. But a few years ago I made an app that uses Facebook Login and pulls information…


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Mastodon is a new breed of social media, flagship planet of the fediverse, a decentralized open-source non-commercial putting-the-user-first alternative to Twitter. Founded by a then 24-year-old student Eugen Rochko, the platform has been up for two and a half years. It now boasts over 2 million registered users. Easy-to-follow explanations of how it works and what makes it different can be found here.


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Every time a prominent social media platform falters, I watch a fallout of tech news articles offering intelligent and well-articulated opinions on what went wrong and who messed it up. All based on the fundamental assumption that a social application is a machine that stops running only if it breaks down — or when abandoned in favor of a better machine.

And yet only a decade ago social networks were largely considered a peculiar and volatile business. Myspace (est. 2003) killed Friendster (est. 2002), and Facebook (est. 2004) destroyed Myspace. Numerous smaller social networks rose up to millions of users…


Soon after I joined Medium two years ago, back in 2016, I followed about twenty people. I discovered them via the feed, they all had popular stories and thousands followers. Yesterday I went through their profiles and found that very few of these authors have been active here beyond 2017. Wow.

This is what happens when you try something out, but decide it isn’t worth the trouble. They say Twitter has one billion dead accounts. As for me, there have been times when I would visit Medium every day, and also times when I would not load it up for…


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Reddit is strangers amusing me. Facebook is people I know pissing me off. — Unknown

Reddit is now the 3rd most popular web destination in the United States, taking the bronze away from Facebook yesterday according to Alexa.

Daily time on site is also in favor of Reddit by 50%, 15 minutes versus 10. These data are for browser visits only. Mobile apps are not taken into account. Alexa’s traffic rankings are determined via an undisclosed function of the number of unique visitors and pageviews. Facebook’s pageview counts can’t be very high — you mostly just scroll the feed. Still…


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You usually know how tired or well-rested you are physically. You can feel it. But if you are like me, you cannot as easily tell if your brain is fatigued. You attempt something that requires mental acuity or concentration, find it more difficult than usual, make mistakes, and then sort of get the idea that you might not be at your best at the moment.

I have found a simple way to gauge how fresh my mind is at any point in time. The upsides are:

  • it only takes 5 minutes;
  • it is quantitative — you get a score, not…


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Facebook is like chairs. (Photo by Just a Prairie Boy, Flickr)

You were too old if you didn’t get Facebook in 2007. You are too old if you get it in 2017. If you are on Facebook more than ten minutes a year, you are probably over thirty. And so are all your friends.

The Memories feature, all the “looking back” videos? Think about it. Facebook is for older people now. The young don’t reminisce.

That’s alright, I’m north of thirty myself. I understand why Facebook is popular. On the other hand, I don’t. Because it shouldn’t be. As in, you shouldn’t be smoking. Or, you shouldn’t drink and drive.

Let’s…


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Normally, you would not want to try and do this. Build a responsive web app and use media queries instead. But sometimes you want different behavior from your app when used on a phone as opposed to a laptop — not just a different look depending on the width of the browser window.

A brute force approach

One way would be to grab the browser’s user agent string and and look up the associated device in a database of all known devices and their user agent strings. This is what WURFL allows you to do, for a fee. There are free and open-source alternatives…

Andrew Archer

Biochemist. An architect of online environments. Writing for the aliens. Trying to change the world.

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