Web dev in DC http://ross.karchner.com
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October Cranberry Harvest

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Kristina Makeeva on IG:

October Cranberry Harvest near Vancouver, Canada. Every year, farmers harvest cranberries by filling them with water. Since the berry contains air bubbles, it pops up. The ponds are covered with red berries, and it looks amazing.

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rosskarchner
19 hours ago
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Stream Ken Burns’ Baseball Documentary Series for Free on PBS

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It would have been Opening Day for baseball here in the US. Since we’re without the actual thing due to COVID-19, Ken Burns asked PBS to allow people to stream his 18-hour documentary series on baseball from 1994 for free (US & Canada). Here’s part one:

(via open culture)

Tags: baseball   Ken Burns   PBS   sports   TV   video
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rosskarchner
5 days ago
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And Now, for Something Awesome... SANS Launches New Series of Worldwide Capture-the-Flag Cyber Events

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SANS launches NetWars CyberCast offerings, new virtual, hands-on CTF events for free.
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rosskarchner
11 days ago
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Free Access to the Time Management Course

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For anyone and everyone who is working from home, schooling their kids from home, and just generally feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment…

We are giving away our flagship Time Management Course.

This course has several lessons that are specifically relevant to work-from-home creative folks as well as full-time, stay-at-home parents.

Right now the entire course is available for anyone to sign up at no charge. It will remain free at least through the end of March 2020.

The response to this has been astonishing.

Yesterday afternoon I posted about this on Twitter. In the 24 hours since then, more than 1,400 people have signed up for the course. That’s more than $345,000 worth of courses!

Here is a blog post with more details as well as direct, public links to some of the video lessons.

Or, you can sign up here and use the coupon code WFH to get access at no charge.

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rosskarchner
13 days ago
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The reckless, infinite scope of web browsers

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Since the first browser war between Netscape and Internet Explorer, web browsers have been using features as their primary means of competing with each other. This strategy of unlimited scope and perpetual feature creep is reckless, and has been allowed to go on for far too long.

I used wget to download all 1,217 of the W3C specifications which have been published at the time of writing1, of which web browsers need to implement a substantial subset in order to provide a modern web experience. I ran a word count on all of these specifications. How complex would you guess the web is?

The total word count of the W3C specification catalogue is 114 million words at the time of writing. If you added the combined word counts of the C11, C++17, UEFI, USB 3.2, and POSIX specifications, all 8,754 published RFCs, and the combined word counts of everything on Wikipedia’s list of longest novels, you would be 12 million words short of the W3C specifications.2

I conclude that it is impossible to build a new web browser. The complexity of the web is obscene. The creation of a new web browser would be comparable in effort to the Apollo program or the Manhattan project.

It is impossible to:

  • Implement the web correctly
  • Implement the web securely
  • Implement the web at all

Starting a bespoke browser engine with the intention of competing with Google or Mozilla is a fool’s errand. The last serious attempt to make a new browser, Servo, has become one part incubator for Firefox refactoring, one part playground for bored Mozilla engineers to mess with technology no one wants, and zero parts viable modern web browser. But WebVR is cool, right? Right?

The consequences of this are obvious. Browsers are the most expensive piece of software a typical consumer computer runs. They’re infamous for using all of your RAM, pinning CPU and I/O, draining your battery, etc. Web browsers are responsible for more than 8,000 CVEs.3

Because of the monopoly created by the insurmountable task of building a competitive alternative, browsers have also been free to stop being the “user agent” and start being the agents of their creators instead. Firefox is filling up with ads, tracking, and mandatory plugins. Chrome is used as a means for Google to efficiently track your eyeballs and muscle anti-technologies like DRM and AMP into the ecosystem. The browser duopoly is only growing stronger, too, as Microsoft drops Edge and WebKit falls well behind its competition.

The major projects are open source, and usually when an open-source project misbehaves, we’re able to to fork them to offer an alternative. But even this is an impossible task where web browsers are concerned. The number of W3C specifications grows at an average rate of 200 new specs per year, or about 4 million words, or about one POSIX every 4 to 6 months. How can a new team possibly keep up with this on top of implementing the outrageous scope web browsers already have now?

The browser wars have been allowed to continue for far too long. They should have long ago focused on competing in terms of performance and stability, not in adding new web “features”. This is absolutely ridiculous, and it has to stop.

Note: I have prepared a write-up on how I arrived at these word counts.

  1. Not counting WebGL, which is maintained by Khronos. 

  2. You could fit the 5,038 page Intel x86 ISA manual into the remainder, six times. 

  3. Combined search results for CVEs mentioning “firefox”, “chrome”, “safari”, and “internet explorer”, on cve.mitre.org. 

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rosskarchner
14 days ago
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Video: What is a Contact Investigation for COVID-19?

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Posted at 10:27 a.m.

You’ve probably heard the term “contact investigation” as a result of all the news about the coronavirus (COVID-19). The aim in doing a contact investigation is to prevent disease spread.

If a resident in Fairfax County tests positive for COVID-19, the Health Department will conduct a contact investigation, which means that health professionals reach out to anyone who has been in close contact with an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.

These are the same public health actions we take to stop the spread of all types of disease, including tuberculosis, measles or meningitis.

Barbara L. Downes, communicable disease epidemiology manager with the Fairfax County Health Department, explains contact investigations in this video.

If you have had close contact with anyone who is confirmed to have COVID-19 infection and you have symptoms, you should contact your health care provider and they will assess your health and determine if you need to be tested.

Stay Informed


The post Video: What is a Contact Investigation for COVID-19? appeared first on Fairfax County Emergency Information.

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14 days ago
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