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Ian Robinson's Weekly Digest - 19th February 2021

Ian Robinson's Weekly Digest - 19th February 2021
By Ian Robinson's Weekly Digest • Issue #3 • View online
Welcome to the latest issue of my Weekly Digest. Each issue is a collection of things that have interested me. This week has six items, one film that is a best of the year candidate, four pointers to new music, and the two books I’m currently reading. All links from names of people or companies go to their Twitter page if they have one, or their website if they don’t.
A word about tracking pixels - the email edition of this newsletter contains a tracking pixel. Using this pixel Revue (and me if I look at the stats) can see how many people opened the email and clicked links. I can also see how many people viewed the web edition of the newsletter. I can’t see individually which email subscribers opened it, nor what links they clicked on. It’s just a total. The same is true for the web stats in that I just see how many views there have been in total.
I don’t need or want to know how many subscribers opened the email. Or what links were clicked on. The subscriber total is plenty of info for me (currently 4 people), and the number of web views is also all I need (there were 48 web views of last weeks issue). I don’t want to know who viewed the web version.
I have spoken to the Revue support team. They tell me an option to disable email tracking pixels is in the works. As soon as it’s available, I’ll turn off all tracking on the email version. I’ll retain the anonymous view count for the web version.
If you want to learn more about how you are being tracked via your email, have a look at this page on the Hey.com website. Hey blocks tracking pixels on incoming email. This was one of the reasons I moved from Office 365 to Hey last year.

Technology
No To Spy Pixels - Dave Smyth - Link
Speaking of tracking pixels, a UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) representative said in an interview in the UK press this week that anyone bothered by tracking pixels and hadn’t consented to them should make a complaint. In response, David Smyth has created the excellent No To Spy Pixels page with instructions on how to complain to the email sender (don’t complain to me yet - see above!). Then the ICO if there is no satisfactory response from the sending organisation. It also has links to other good articles on this topic. We are seeing a groundswell in opposition to unauthorised tracking of all types right now. Just right too. People should be asked if they are okay with being tracked, and they can opt-in if they are.
Microsoft - Zero Trust Deployment Center - Link
Zero Trust Networking (and Zero Trust Network Access - ZTNA) are hot topics. Cybersecurity is a core requirement of almost every organisation now. ZTNA is an approach to providing application and system access that assumes that all connections are hostile. No matter where the connection request originates - be it on a PC in the corporate HQ or a laptop on public WiFi in a coffee shop. Both are treated the same from a security point of view. ZTNA solutions are being used across the board in cybersecurity protection, but they are rapidly replacing VPN connections as the preferred method of secure remote access. Gartner estimates that by 2023 at least 60% of Enterprises will have adopted some form of ZTNA.  Microsoft has a good page outlining the core principles of Zero Trust and how to plan for it.
Ars Technica - The $3,000 eVscope makes stargazing easy and fun - Link
I’ve never seen the Andromeda Galaxy. Or the Milky Way for that matter. The sky over Northern Ireland isn’t dark enough, or my eyes are not good enough! I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a computer-controlled telescope for ages. This Unistellar eVscope outlined in the Ars Technica review might just be the ticket. Want.
Science & Mathematics
Quanta Magazine - The Riemann Hypothesis, Explained - YouTube Link
This 16-minute explainer video on the unsolved Riemann Hypothesis problem in number theory is superb. You don’t have to be a maths geek to enjoy this (I’m not). But if you have an interest in popular science programs on TV you’ll probably like this. This is science communication at it’s best.
Sabine Hossenfelder - The Simulation Hypothesis is Pseudoscience - YouTube Link
Another Sabine Hossenfelder video to follow the one in last weeks Newsletter. She’s still a national treasure! This weeks video rightly debunks the notion that we’re living in a simulation. A notion that tells us nothing useful about the Universe, in my opinion: but watch the video for a proper explanation on why it’s bunk.
Wolfram Alpha - Step-by-Step Math Tools in Wolfram|Alpha - Link
I’ve always promised myself that at some point I’d buckle down and learn maths properly. But I’ve come round to the fact that it’s never going to happen. Luckily technology has probably negated the need. I’ve used (and subscribed to) Wolfram|Alpha for years. It just keeps getting better and better. It’s the closest thing we have to a publicly available Sci-Fi like ask me anything expert system. This blog post outlines its wonderful step by step mathematics and chemistry features. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just for that. You can ask almost anything about the world. A wonderful tool.
Culture
Films I enjoyed this week

The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. On Amazon Prime. Rated 10/10.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. On Amazon Prime. Rated 10/10.
New music I discovered this week
Pale Waves - Who Am I? - Apple Music - Twitter
Bosco Bosco - He Said, She Said (Single) - Apple Music - Instagram
Kings Daughters - The Devil I Know (feat. Arielle) (Single) - Single - Apple Music - Twitter
Engines Made From Soup - Again (Album) - Apple Music - Twitter
Books I’m currently reading
David Eagleman - Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain (audiobook) - Goodreads - Twitter
Janna Levin - Black Hole Survival Guide - Goodreads - Twitter
Did you enjoy this issue?
Ian Robinson's Weekly Digest

Writer, walker, atheist, optimist, Apple enthusiast, cinema lover, hobby musician, science junkie, perpetual maths student, cricket fan, chess patzer.

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