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An Indian orbiter reached Mars five years ago, and it’s still ticking

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Without fanfare, an Indian spacecraft just completed its fifth year in orbit around Mars last week. As the spacecraft nears the end of its design lifetime, this is a moment that seems worth a little more recognition.

When it launched the Mars Orbiter Mission in November, 2013, India had never attempted an interplanetary flight before. And Mars is really treacherous. About 50% of spacecraft sent to Mars fail either upon launch, attempting to enter orbit, or landing on the surface. India made it on the country's first try, with a budget significantly less than $100 million. The spacecraft remains in good working order, with fuel for at least another year of operations.

While the orbiter didn't make any huge new scientific discoveries—it had neither the very best cameras nor instruments among its modest 15kg of payload—it carried far more weight symbolically as it expanded the community of Mars exploration beyond the traditional space-faring nations. Before the Mars Orbiter Mission reached Mars, only the United States, Soviet Union, and European Space Agency had successfully sent robotic missions to Mars.

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lelandpaul
15 days ago
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For all that the camera wasn't "the very best", a number of my very favorite images have come from this mission. Check out the one of Phobos!
San Francisco, CA
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★ iOS 13 Autocorrect Is Drunk

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I asked the following on Twitter Tuesday: “Does anyone else find that autocorrect on iOS 13 (including 13.1) makes more mistakes than before? Can’t tell if it’s a real issue or just an anti-placebo effect.”

The resulting thread is overflowing with answers in the affirmative. One thing I and others have noticed is that when you type a dictionary word correctly — meaning you hit the exact right keys on the on-screen keyboard — iOS 13 autocorrect will replace it with a different dictionary word that makes no contextual sense. Even beyond dictionary words, I’m seeing really strange corrections. Two nights ago I typed “Dobbs”, including the Shift key for the “D”, and iOS 13.1 autocorrected it to “adobe”, with a lowercase “a”.

I don’t see how that’s even close on a QWERTY keyboard. The way autocorrect tends to work is to look for alternate words based on the proximity of letters on the keyboard. Most famously, fuck gets replaced by duck because the D key is next to F on a QWERTY keyboard. That’s why it never replaces fuck with, say, suck or puck or luck — it’s always duck because D and F are next to each other.1

So how in the world does “Dobbs” get replaced by “adobe”? Even “Adobe” would make slightly more sense, because that’s a common proper noun (and one I personally use) and would acknowledge that I hit the Shift the key to type an uppercase letter. Letter-by-letter, with “×” denoting letters nowhere near each other on the keyboard, “✓” denoting the same letter, and “-” denoting characters close to each other on the keyboard:

D o b b s
a d o b e
× × × ✓ - 

Even the S/E substitution is questionable, though — iOS’s autocorrect, in my experience, usually looks at characters next to each other in the same row of the keyboard. The E key is above and mostly to the right of S.

A lot of the examples in the responses to my tweet are even more baffling, including words being substituted [from other languages][L].

[l}: https://twitter.com/mattcassinelli/status/1177281315147636736

I tweeted this wondering if the autocorrect suckage I was seeing was just me — perhaps the result of a reverse placebo effect (a.k.a. nocebo effect) where, once I suspected autocorrect in iOS 13 might be bad, I started seeing what I expected to see. But now I’m close to convinced that, among iOS 13.1’s numerous other bugs and problems, autocorrect has suffered a severe regression.

One possible culprit: iOS 13’s new “Slide to Type” feature, which is on by default. I have tried various swipe-to-type keyboards over the years (on both iOS, via third-party keyboards, and Android, where they’re more prevalent), and have never taken to them. My thumb-pecking habits were long ago hardwired into my brain. So I turned this feature off on iOS 13 last night. I have no idea if that’s the culprit — I haven’t used the iPhone long enough since turning it off to pass judgment — but given that I don’t want to use Slide to Type anyway, it can’t hurt to try. Feel free to chime in on the Twitter thread if you’re seeing similar autocorrect wonkiness.


  1. The origins of this heuristic are explored and explained in detail by the creator of the original iPhone keyboard, Ken Kocienda, in his book Creative Selection. Truly one of the most remarkable books on Apple ever written. ↩︎

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lelandpaul
21 days ago
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The shift key is close to “a”, though, and guessing that a repeated key is a mistake is not unreasonable. I’m guessing this was actually:

⬆️ d o b b s
a d o b • e


Which is very close, string-distance-wise. I’m not saying this is a good result — my own experience is similar to Gruber’s, I do think there’s been a regression — but at least the error is comprehensible.
San Francisco, CA
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Ten Authentic Mennonite Dishes to Make for Mennonite Heritage Week

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It’s finally here! Mennonite Heritage Week! A time to sit back and reflect on everything that it means to be Mennonite. While you’re arguing in the church lobby about the nuances of being a pacifist in the 21st century, here are some authentic Mennonite dishes to satiate your appetites!

  • Nasi goreng – You can’t have a Mennonite feast without this rice and meat dish from Indonesia. Try it once and you’ll never go back to eating non-Mennonite food again!
  • Injera – This delicious sourdough flatbread made of teff flour is a popular dish among Ethiopia’s 172,000 Mennonites.
  • Salteña – Please, don’t call it an empanada. More Bolivian salteñas are consumed each year than any other Mennonite pocket of dough.
  • Moambe chicken – The national dish of the Democratic Republic of Congo, this chicken stew is an excellent addition to your Mennonite Heritage Week party.
  • Bhutte Ka Kees  – You’ll find this popular corn snack on the streets of Madhya Pradesh, India. A truly wonderful Mennonite experience!
  • Raclette – Anyone up for a few pounds of boiling hot cheese? If you are, you may want to join the Swiss and try a real Mennonite raclette this week.
  • Som tam – Also known as green papaya salad, this is one of the most delicious dishes consumed by Mennonites. Trust me on this one. Mennonite grandma’s love it!
  • Cochinita pibil – No one makes this slow-roasted pork dish like the Mennonites of Mexico. Perfect for an after church meal!
  • Vereniki – Little known to most Mennonites, this obscure dish is popular among the small number of Dutch-origin Mennonites whose ancestors happen to have lived for a few centuries in Prussia and Ukraine.
  • Gross pizza from the food court – Once thought of a novelty, in recent years gross pizza from the food court has become a go-to meal for many North American Mennonites.

(photo credit: Rama/CC)

The post Ten Authentic Mennonite Dishes to Make for Mennonite Heritage Week appeared first on The Daily Bonnet.

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lelandpaul
40 days ago
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San Francisco, CA
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diannemharris
40 days ago
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hehe

.NORM Normal File Format

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At some point, compression becomes an  aesthetic design choice. Luckily, SVG is a really flexible format, so there's no reason it can't support vector JPEG artifacts.
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lelandpaul
235 days ago
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This comic brought to you by that one famous researcher in my field who gives all his presentations in Excel.

Like, with one sheet per slide, positioning text by just putting it in different boxes
San Francisco, CA
mw
234 days ago
I don't know if that's better or worse than the person I know who uses Excel to create wireframes.
satadru
231 days ago
And I shuddered in grad school when I saw a professor did all of his data analysis in Excel...
35 days ago
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popular
235 days ago
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35 days ago
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Covarr
235 days ago
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I prefer to send important data as videos embedded in PowerPoint presentations.
Moses Lake, WA
35 days ago
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alt_text_bot
235 days ago
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At some point, compression becomes an aesthetic design choice. Luckily, SVG is a really flexible format, so there's no reason it can't support vector JPEG artifacts.
HarlandCorbin
235 days ago
This is horrible. If someone expects me to do anything at all with the data, I let them know that I can't do anything with an image of the data and they need to send me the text instead.
eriko
235 days ago
Meh. Just OCR it.
HarlandCorbin
235 days ago
Forget OCR. If I do that, then I have to use OCR every time. Much better to train the user.
jepler
235 days ago
BRB creating a robot that repeatedly OCRs the typewritten letters "OCR", types them out again, and repeats the process indefinitely.
ZeroEffect
234 days ago
This is why they invented PDFs, thereby spawning the bane of my existence: the thing which is never really text nor image.
triss
234 days ago
reminds me of when we used lotus notes at work: when you pasted an excel table into an email it by default automatically converted it to an image :-)
satadru
231 days ago
FYI on OCR errors compounded by compression: https://abbyy.technology/en:kb:tip:jbig2_compression_and_ocr
35 days ago
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The Elements of Style

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A letter from E.B. White to J.G. Case, March 30, 1962:

Dear Jack:

The next grammar book I bring out I want to tell how to end a sentence with five prepositions. A father of a little boy goes upstairs after supper to read to his son, but he brings the wrong book. The boy says, ‘What did you bring that book that I don’t want to be read to out of up for?’

And how are YOU?

Yrs,

Andy

See Over and Out.

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lelandpaul
286 days ago
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I use this example all the time. For another great example of how it's perfectly fine and normal to strand prepositions, see "Up what are you throwing?!"
San Francisco, CA
satadru
287 days ago
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<3
New York, NY
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hannahdraper
288 days ago
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Twitch.
Washington, DC

I KNOW WHY YOU'RE SAD.

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On paper, Tuesday was a good day for Democrats. They took the House for the first time in eight years. Several important Governorships (in advance of post-Census 2020 redistricting battles) were won. Notably vile Republicans like Kris Kobach, Scott Walker, and Dana Rohrabacher lost. The high-visibility Senate races Democrats lost (Missouri, Tennessee) were pipe dreams anyway. You already knew that Florida sucks, hard. So you're not sad because "The Democrats did badly."

You're also not sad because Beto lost, or Andrew Gillum lost, or any other single candidate who got people excited this year fell short. They're gonna be fine. They will be back. You haven't seen the last of any of them. Winning a Senate race in Texas was never more than a long shot. Gillum had a realistic chance, but once again: It's Florida.

No, you're sad for the same reason you were so sad Wednesday morning after the 2016 Election. You're sad because the results confirm that half of the electorate – a group that includes family, neighbors, friends, random fellow citizens – looked at the last two years and declared this is pretty much what they want. You're sad because any Republican getting more than 1 vote in this election, let alone a majority of votes, forces us to recognize that a lot of this country is A-OK with undisguised white supremacy. You're sad because once again you have been slapped across the face with the reality that a lot of Americans are, at their core, a lost cause. Willfully ignorant. Unpersuadable. Terrible people. Assholes, even.

You were hoping that the whole country would somehow restore your faith in humanity and basic common decency by making a bold statement, trashing Republicans everywhere and across the board. You wanted some indication that if you campaigned hard enough, rednecks and white collar bloodless types alike could be made to see the light that perhaps the levers of power are not best entrusted to the absolute worst people that can be dredged up from Internet comment sections running on platforms of xenophobia, nihilism, and racism. In short, you wanted to see some evidence that corruption, venality, bigotry, and proud ignorance are deal-breakers for the vast majority of Americans.

And now you're sad because it's obvious that they aren't. Even where horrible Republicans like Walker or Kobach lost, they didn't lose by much.

So I get it. It's depressing. There's no amount of positives that can take away the nagging feeling that lots and lots of people in this country are just…garbage. They're garbage human beings just like the president they adore. These people are not one conversation, one fact-check, and one charismatic young Democratic candidate away from seeing the light. They're reactionary, mean, ignorant, uninteresting in becoming less ignorant, and vindictive. They hate you and they will vote for monsters to prove it.

Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.

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lelandpaul
345 days ago
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Oh, this is so hard for me. On the one hand, the piece is dead right: This is exactly what I'm feeling today.

On the other: I fundamentally believe people are redeemable and that we shouldn't write them off. (That's sort of core to Christianity...)

I don't know how to reconcile these two things.
San Francisco, CA
sirshannon
344 days ago
You can’t redeem the unwilling.
lelandpaul
343 days ago
But does that give you the right to stop giving them opportunities to redeem themselves?
sirshannon
341 days ago
Yes. You’re not powerful enough to stop someone from redeeming themselves any more than you are powerful enough to make them redeem themselves. As long as you’re not actively working to prevent them from doing the right thing, you’re good.
cjmcnamara
345 days ago
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gin and tacos absolutely spot on once again
popular
345 days ago
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zwol
344 days ago
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This seems like the right place to tell the story of the dude who drove me to the airport the other day. His other job, apparently, was owning a gun store, and when talking about guns his opinions were informed and reasonable , e.g. "banning bump stocks won't stop school shootings, but we should require gun owners to go through safety training and have proper gun safes," ok, I can see that. But then the conversation took a hard right turn into Fox News conspiracy land: all politicians are corrupt, Planned Parenthood spends 10x as much money on lobbying as the NRA, etc. etc. etc. and I just didn't know what to say.
Pittsburgh, PA
35 days ago
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tdarby
345 days ago
reply
Yes.
Baltimore, MD
rocketo
345 days ago
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How many words fit on a sampler? I don’t want to get this as a tattoo.

“Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.”
seattle, wa
notadoctor
345 days ago
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“They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.”
Oakland, CA
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