Issue #004 - It’s no use going back to yesterday

.. because I was a different person then


Are you a fan of mystery movies? Yes? If so, skip to the next link because I’m about to ruin a bunch of them for you.

Turns out movie producers need to ask Apple for permission to use an iPhone in their movies. And that’s fine - no big deal - Apple would be very happy for you to use an iPhone in your movie, so long as the ‘bad guy’ uses another phone. Their protectiveness over the use of their brand is such that, if you’re ever watching a whodunnit, if all the characters are using iPhones except one - well there’s your bad guy.

Rian Johnson: Apple won’t let movie villains use iPhones on camera

(via David Perell)


If you’ve been having a rough time of it of late, it might help to ‘zoom out’ and take a higher-level view. Will the issues you’ve been stressed about matter in 10 minutes? In 10 months? In 10 years?

But you might like to take a step further even and start thinking about your life as a sequence of months; years; decades. Read about this way of thinking at the excellent website, wait but why.

I’ve found this very helpful in my own stressful times.

For example, I now know that synthetic insulin was invented by a dude named Frederick Banting in 1921. Last year, after struggling through a flu that just wouldn’t go away, I went into hospital and came out diagnosed with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults. The short version is that I now need to inject myself with synthetic insulin to keep living.

Adopting the ‘your life in months’ approach to this development, I might colour the dot in the middle’ish of the row just below the ‘30th Birthday’ line. And now I can remember that, had I been born in 1884 rather than 1984, that’s where my journey would end. I would miss out on all the other dots. But thanks to ol’ mate Banting I get to keep on keeping on. Everything from there on in is really just a bonus. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!


I have been really enjoying the work produced by Anne-Laure Le Cunff lately. Here is a wonderful piece about dealing with the fear-of-missing-out.

… the main difference between loneliness and solitude is that the latter is a conscious decision. Solitude can be beneficial. Loneliness, on the other hand, is associated with a bunch of negative effects, such as depression, suicide, and even cardiovascular disease. And it’s not hard to understand why loneliness is linked with FOMO: being alone hurts more when you don’t want to be alone, and where people you know seem to be enjoying themselves together.


Have you, as I have, eaten your fair share of banana and peanut paste sandwiches (note: ‘peanut butter’ is the American and thus incorrect expression)? Have you stopped to think though about the ‘right’ distribution of banana throughout the sandwich?

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No, you only think about yourself, don’t you.

Well - worry not - this clever person has used machine learning to confirm the answer.

You see, I have this urge, this desire, this need to maximize the packing fraction of the banana slices. That is, I want to maximize the coverage of the banana slices on the bread. Just as bowl-form food is perfect because you get every ingredient in every bite, each bite of my sandwich should yield the same golden ratio of bread, peanut butter, and banana.

If you were a machine learning model (or my wife), then you would tell me to just cut long rectangular strips along the long axis of the banana, but I’m not a sociopath. If life were simple, then the banana slices would be perfect circles of equal diameter, and we could coast along looking up optimal configurations on packomania. But alas, life is not simple. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and banana slices are elliptical with varying size.

So, how do we make optimal peanut butter and banana sandwiches? It’s really quite simple. You take a picture of your banana and bread, pass the image through a deep learning model to locate said items, do some nonlinear curve fitting to the banana, transform to polar coordinates and “slice” the banana along the fitted curve, turn those slices into elliptical polygons, and feed the polygons and bread “box” into a 2D nesting algorithm.

(via Matt Birchler)


Hopefully, most of you are using the one true smartphone and not that other Android muck. Many of you clever and good looking correct-phone-folk will likely remember the iPod, which served as the gateway-drug-device between the Nokia Brick and the smooth pane of glass we now all covet before bedtime.

What has only just come out recently, though, is that within Apple there was a secret mission to construct a Top Secret iPod for the United States Government. The theory is that it was to be a device that looked and worked just like any other iPod, but which could also act as a covert geiger counter for those that carried it.

Read about the story of this secret iPod’s development at TidBits.

As they learned their way around the system, they explained what they wanted to do, at least in broad strokes. They had added special hardware to the iPod, which generated data they wanted to record secretly. They were careful to make sure I never saw the hardware, and I never did.


Based on feedback I’ve made the above five links a little longer with more commentary on why I found them interesting. Let me know if you prefer this longer format or if you’d rather I go back to a much short and sharper approach.

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Bennett.