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A Map of the World Where the Sizes of Countries Are Determined by Population


World Map Population

Max Roser has constructed a cartogram of the world where the size of the countries are determined by their populations (big version of the image here). He refers to it as “the map we need if we want to think about how global living conditions are changing”.

The cartogram is made up of squares, each of which represents half a million people of a country’s population. The 11.5 million Belgians are represented by 23 squares; the 49.5 million Colombians are represented by 99 squares; the 1.415 billion people in China are represented by 2830 squares; and this year’s entire world population of 7.633 billion people is represented by the total sum of 15,266 squares.

As the size of the population rather than the size of the territory is shown in this map you can see some big differences when you compare it to the standard geographical map we’re most familiar with. Small countries with a high population density increase in size in this cartogram relative to the world maps we are used to — look at Bangladesh, Taiwan, or the Netherlands. Large countries with a small population shrink in size — talking about you Canada, Mongolia, Australia, and Russia.

Some observations (Roser has many more if you click through):

1. Look at how teeny Russia is. (So is Canada.)

2. Seriously, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Brazil all have larger populations than Russia. Japan, Ethiopia, and Mexico are very close.

3. 60% of the world’s population lives in Asia.

4. 5 times as many people live in Madagascar as do Ireland. The populations of Ireland + the Scandinavian countries = the population of Peru.

5. Europe is tiny. Guns, Germs, and Steel, yo.

6. India and China. Damn.

I would love to see an animated version of this cartogram from like 1950 to 2100 (like this one of the US).

Tags: maps   Max Roser   population
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12 days ago
Oakland, CA
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Why Are E-Bikes Legal For Citi Bike Users And Not Immigrant Delivery Workers?: Gothamist

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Chen Qixiong, 56, delivering food on his throttle-controlled e-bike in Midtown this past winter. "For us delivery guys, we don’t make that much money," Chen told Gothamist. "To fine us $500, that’s a whole week’s worth of money gone.”

On Wednesday morning, nearly 50 people hopped on brand new electric Citi Bikes to demonstrate how easy (and fun!) commuting over the Williamsburg Bridge can be, once the L train shuts down in April of next year. An electric moped service recently launched in Brooklyn, and the Daily News reported that two city councilmembers are drafting legislation to legalize the kind of app-based electric scooters that have swept across cities like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.. Meanwhile, the NYPD continues to confiscate electric bikes used by immigrant delivery cyclists, issuing them summonses that carry $500 fines for using what is essentially the same kind of technology.

New York Administrative Code Section 19-176.2 prohibits the use of "motorized scooters" on City streets; that term is defined as:

any wheeled device that has handlebars that is designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator, is powered by an electric motor or by a gasoline motor that is capable of propelling the device without human power and is not capable of being registered with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

The e-bikes favored by delivery cyclists tend to use a throttle, so they are "capable of propelling the device without human power," and are thus illegal.

The pedal-assisted e-bikes put on city streets by Citi Bike and other bikeshare operators propel the rider forward as they pedal, and have technically always been legal. Last month the City made that clear by adopting a tweak to the law that explicitly legalized them. "[T]hrottle-controlled e-bikes continue to be illegal to operate on City streets under State and city law," read the DOT release. The pedal-assisted Citi Bikes have a maximum acceleration speed of 18 mph, but the maximum speed by law for pedal-assisted bikes is 20 mph.

Throttle-controlled e-bikes have maximum speeds of around 24 mph. (In 2011, the Daily News found some cyclists in Prospect Park traveling at a speed of 31 mph, using only their legs.)

The electric scooter carve-out being prepared by Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez and Rafael Espinal Jr. removes the word "stood" from 19-176.2, according to Espinal spokesperson Erika Tannor, and does nothing to address throttle-controlled e-bikes, but she cautioned that the legislation was still being drafted.

"The councilman has no intention of continuing to criminalize e-bikes while legalizing e-scooters, it just absolutely doesn't make sense for his agenda and his record on e-bikes," Tannor said. "Council Member Espinal is in support of e-bikes. We'll look into this further before introducing the bill in September."

Do Lee, a member of the #DeliverJusticeCoalition who wrote his PhD thesis in environmental psychology on delivery cyclists at the CUNY Graduate Center, said the City's actions are a "pattern of making decisions to help those who are already privileged, and excluding those who actually need the help the most."

"Mayor de Blasio and the City have created a Tale of Two E-bikes by bending over backwards to give white collar commuters an e-assist while hyper-policing immigrant delivery workers for their e-bike riding for their jobs," Lee said.

Lee told Gothamist that the DOT had scheduled three meetings with the #DeliverJusticeCoalition to discuss ways to help delivery cyclists convert their throttle-assisted e-bikes to pedal-assist, and cancelled three times, most recently at the end of July.

In a statement, Seth Stein, a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio, said, “In order to increase the transportation options for New Yorkers, including delivery workers, the Mayor clarified DOT rules that pedal-assist bikes are legal in the City. The Administration is currently considering additional actions to help delivery workers transition their throttle e-bikes to pedal-assist.”

The NYPD has yet to present any evidence to suggest that throttle-controlled e-bikes are more dangerous or harm New Yorkers more than traditional bicycles.

"If we want delivery workers to slow down, then we should improve their working conditions, pay better wages, eliminate wage theft," Lee added. "If we're truly trying to be the fairest big city in the world, as the mayor likes to say, we shouldn't be doing this sort of policymaking."

You can read more on New York City's war on e-bikes here.

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33 days ago
I am always disappointed to remember that despite many airy promises tech requires a lot of extra effort to actually get deployed equitably and it’s rare for that effort to get put in from the get go
Oakland, CA
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Police Suspect a Shipwreck Filled With Tons of Gold Was a Cryptocurrency Scam


Last month, a South Korean company known as the Shinil Group announced it had discovered the wreckage of a 100-year old Russian warship, which the company said held 200 tons of gold bullion worth roughly $130 billion USD. Now, South Korean police are investigating the company on the suspicion that the story of sunken treasure was an elaborate cryptocurrency scam.

The Dmitrii Donskoi was a Russian armored cruiser that sunk one mile off the coast of South Korea in 1905 during the Battle of Tsushima. According to the Shinil Group, it was discovered over 1,400 feet below the surface using two single-person submarines.

The initial announcement of the discovery was accompanied by footage allegedly showing the submarines exploring the wreck.

Shortly before the Shinil Group announced its discovery of the Donskoi, a “Singapore-based affiliate” of the company, according to South Korean outlet Yonhap News Agency, created a cryptocurrency called Shinil Gold Coin that was tied to the shipwreck’s discovery. Shinil Group previously denied any affiliation with the entity promoting the cryptocurrency, and Motherboard hasn’t confirmed any connection. The scheme tried to attract investors to the cryptocurrency by promising that it would pay dividends worth 10 percent of the value of the gold it alleged was on the ship—about $13 billion—in the first half of 2019. This resulted in over 120,000 Korean investors sinking over $53 million into the Shinil cryptocurrency, according to The Korea Herald.

Yet less than a month after the Shinil Group’s initial announcement, according to the Herald, the company announced that it had failed to identify the gold it had previously believed to be aboard the sunken ship. The underwater footage of the ship was deleted from YouTube, the cryptocurrency website is offline, and the company’s former executives are being investigated for fraud.

On Thursday, Korean police questioned two former executives of the Shinil Group about their activities related to the sunken ship. According to Yonhap, the law enforcement officers suspect that the entire operation may be “a scam by a fraudster family.”

The company’s CEO Choi Yong-seok stepped down earlier this month after Korean officials began investigating whether the Shinil Group was a scam. Now law enforcement officials are looking into his ties to Rhu Seung-jin and Rhu Sang-mi, two siblings who were also involved in the Shinil Group. According to Yonhap, Rhu Seung-jin fled to Vietnam after he was implicated in a separate fraud case from 2014.

At least one part of the saga appears to be true, however. Phil Nuytten, owner of Nuytco Research, a Canadian marine exploration company, says the company found the Dmitrii Donskoi while working under contract with Shinil Group. “We were hired to do some very specific things, which is to locate the vessel, positively identify it as the Donskoi, and do a detailed high def video survey of the ship,” Nuytten told Motherboard over the phone. “And we did all three of those, and that’s all we were contracted to do. As far as the claim for gold and whatever other claims were made, I have no idea.”

This wouldn’t be the first time the Dmitrii Donskoi has been used for fraud. In 2000, after Dong-Ah, a Korean company facing bankruptcy, claimed to have found the ship, the company’s stock soared by over 40 percent. Although the company never claimed to have found gold on the ship, that didn’t stop rumors about its existence. , the rumor was contested by a Russian naval expert.

According to The New York Times, which reported on the alleged Dong-Ah discovery at the time, that much gold was an “impossible weight” for the ship to carry. At the time, the amount of gold on board was rumored to be worth $125 billion. Gold was a fifth of today’s price in 2000 so this would have meant that the ship held 14,000 tons of gold. According to the Times, this would have represented a full one-tenth of all the gold mined in the world at the time.

Read More: The Heyday of Treasure Hunting May Be At Hand

Given the past history of the ship, the Shinil Group’s claims about finding gold on the ship were immediately met with skepticism in Korea.

"Investors should beware because it's uncertain whether the ship is salvageable and whether Shinil would be able to gain ownership of the assets even if it gets permission to raise it," an official from South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service said after the Shinil Group announced its discovery. "Dong-Ah Construction made similar claims over the same ship but failed to deliver on its promises and went bankrupt, causing huge losses for investors."

In retrospect, this was sound financial advice. Only a week after the Shinil Group announced its discovery of over $100 billion worth of gold on the Donskoi, then-CEO Choi Yong-seok held a press conference and told reporters “there’s no way for us to figure out whether there would be gold coins or bars on the Donskoi.”

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40 days ago
Oakland, CA
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webshit weekly


An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the second week of August, 2018.

Google AMP – A 70% drop in our conversion rate
August 08, 2018 (comments)
A webshit is nervous about Google's shared-hosting free tier. Hackernews explains to one another that Google's AMP program is not a cynical consolidation of adtech power, but is in fact a deftly-engineered substitute for courage, since webshits apparently can't stand up for themselves or their work. Some Googles show up in the comments to defend their land grab beneficent community-empowerment tool, and to reassure everyone that despite the direct personal experience of literally every single person who has tried, Google is totally open to feedback and willing to care about bug reports from their tenants users.

Julia 1.0
August 09, 2018 (comments)
Some academics promise to try to hold it steady. Hackernews is cranky that the brochure doesn't look like other brochures and slightly afraid because people seem to be using the language to perform arcane rites with impenetrable magical symbols. The academics show up to reassure people that math is a normal, healthy hobby and anyway the language can also be used to do retarded things with garbage hardware if you want. Most of the comments are people complaining that languages don't provide enough handholding for people who failed to design their programs properly, or that languages don't provide enough handholding for people who failed to select their operating systems properly.

I don't trust Signal
August 09, 2018 (comments)
An asshole is pissed at some other asshole. None of the reasons are interesting. Hackernews draws lots to decide which asshole to defend unto death; the basic argument seems to be the set of Hackernews given to hero worship versus the set of Hackernews who thinks the world owes them (for free) flawlessly-implemented, perfectly-intuitive software capable of resisting concerted attack by advanced persistent threats. Nearly five hundred comments are posted, all of which stridently proclaim The Correct Opinions about software nobody uses except DEF CON cosplayers and journalists who followed bad advice on social media.

1/0 = 0
August 10, 2018 (comments)
A webshit gets wound up by a tweet. Hackernews does too. Most of the arguments involve the difference between mathematics and ALU design, but none of the discussion is interesting because none of the participants are meaningfully engaged with either topic. It doesn't help that the entire context of the debate is some webshit's disused toy langauge.

Worst Computer Bugs in History: Therac-25 (2017)
August 11, 2018 (comments)
An internet describes a time that bad software directly led to the deaths of actual human beings. Several "takeaways" are provided, absolutely none of which involve recommending anyone be held responsible in any way. Hackernews is gratified that so few deaths were all that was needed to distract people from all the other ways that software developers are failing civilization on a regular basis. Other Hackernews suspects the kill count is so low because only someone completely unhinged would put their safety directly in the hands of a computer programmer. When highlighting other, less severe failure stories turns out not to be fun, Hackernews explores ways they might blame someone else for the deaths.

Thank you HN
August 12, 2018 (comments)
A Hackernews thanks the rest of Hackernews for not advocating suicide. Hackernews lists all the terrible shit they did and/or had happen to them and, as usual, catalogs every single real or perceived solution to mental health issues they've ever tried or read about. The consensus is that exercise helps. No technology is discussed. An asshole violates the Prime Directive.

Using FOIA Data and Unix to halve major source of parking tickets
August 13, 2018 (comments)
An internet is trying to help. With awk. Hackernews squabbles over whether or not it's even possible for most people to help, given the baseline requirement of "noticing things." The Hackernews contingent of Critical Mass shows up to bitch about cars standing in bike lanes. Inadvertently, the Hackernewsest possible sentence appears in the comments: "If it's not technically criminal then that's all that matters."

Serverless Docker Beta
August 14, 2018 (comments)
Some webshits celebrate minutiae. Hackernews is excited about the minutiae, except for the ones who actually do things with computers once in a while. A long discussion breaks out about the proper method to embed auto-playing video containing nothing but text. After a while Hackernews gets bored with the actual limitations of the garbage software described in the article and starts running thought experiments about what even worse software might look like. They don't reach consensus, but I'm pretty sure they're accidentally describing Sun software.

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40 days ago
so jaded. subscribing
Oakland, CA
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41 days ago
'Inadvertently, the Hackernewsest possible sentence appears in the comments: "If it's not technically criminal then that's all that matters."'

Fast Pix2PixProject from Zaid Alyafeai presents a faster...

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Fast Pix2Pix

Project from Zaid Alyafeai presents a faster interactive verson of familiar image translation demos which presents instant renderings after each drawn input:

A simple implementation of the pix2pix paper on the browser using TensorFlow.js. The code runs in real time after you draw some edges. Make sure you run the model in your laptop as mobile devices cannot handle the current models. Use the mouse to draw. 

Try it out here

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42 days ago
Oakland, CA
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A review of the Microsoft Surface Ergonomic keyboard

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I came across this image on Twitter about five or six months ago and my heart basically skipped a beat.

Microsoft Surface Ergonomic keyboard

I’ve scoured my databanks and can’t find where this setup originated. I do know the gentleman was a reporter who spent most of his time behind the keyboard putting together his next column. (If you know where this image came from, let me know!)

The main actor in this show is the Microsoft Surface Ergonomic keyboard, of course. I’ve had some friends who swore by the Surface Ergonomic keyboard before I came across this photo, but it was this photo that pushed me over the edge. Whether it was the perceived ergonomic benefits, the smooth Alcantara wrist pad built right in, or the notion that a keyboard can be comfortable to use, the Surface Ergonomic keyboard became the backbone of my “Office Gear Wishlist.”

A few anecdotes from friends did give me pause, however:

  • This keyboard is a Microsoft product, and as such doesn’t have direct compatibility with macOS.
  • This keyboard is powered by AAA batteries rather than having a built-in rechargeable battery.
  • This keyboard has had connectivity issues with (what appears to be) specific Macs.

I’ll touch on each of these in a bit.


I say this partially in jest: A keyboard should be inviting and comfortable to use. From my chair, every keyboard coming out of Cupertino is designed with two purposes in mind:

  • Pleasing aesthetics.
  • Minute tolerances.

What do those two purposes sum up to? The result is a keyboard that looks great in setup photographs but gums up the moment it leaves the studio.

The Surface Ergonomic keyboard pins neither of these goals to the top of the list. This keyboard is built for comfort, ergonomics, and speed. A dash of aesthetics are thrown in, but comfort and ergonomics rise to the forefront.

The Surface Ergonomic keyboard is the successor to the original Microsoft Sculpt keyboard. Where the Sculpt cut out the section between the “T, G, B” and “Y, H, N” sections of the keyboard, the Surface Ergonomic fills it in with aluminum-colored plastic material used throughout the rest of the keyboard. The Sculpt generation included a standalone number pad, whereas the Surface Ergonomic includes a built-in number pad. Some folks preferred the cut out and standalone number pad in the Sculpt generation, but I think the larger, bulkier Surface Ergonomic is better suited for most people’s needs.

Where the Sculpt generation got things right was in the wrist riser (if that’s what you want to call it). The Surface Ergonomic includes a wrist base made of its now ubiquitous Alcantara material. This material is soft to the touch, but dense enough to provide proper support when typing. It also has a particular fashion to it that only Microsoft can pull off these days.

The Sculpt keyboard, on the other hand, had optional accessories for raising the bottom of the keyboard, thereby positioning your hands down and away from your body as you typed. For ergonomists out there, this is the ultimate form of typing — hands and wrists curved to the middle of the keyboard and positioned down and away from your chest. It may appear a tad wonky when explained in words, but I’ve been reassured this is quite the comfortable typing method.

This may be the one area where Microsoft cast aside comfort and ergonomics in favor of pleasing aesthetics and minute tolerances. I have no experience with the first generation Sculpt, so I speak from a third-person perspective: I’m happy with the aesthetic trade-offs between the two ergonomic keyboard generations and I greatly appreciate a built-in number pad.


My major complaints (and I have been doing a lot of complaining recently) with any of Apple’s recent keyboards is the resounding lack of feel. I chalk this up directly to the minute tolerances of that butterfly switch — there is no forgiveness in any part of any key, resulting in a keystroke no matter the amount of pressure applied. Apple labels this is a selling feature. I label it a failure.

Microsoft doesn’t comment on what type of switches are used, but it certainly isn’t butterfly and it certainly isn’t mechanical. (Microsoft claims the Surface Ergonomics switches can last 10 million actuations, which is only a third of the life of a mechanical switch.)

Regardless, each key has considerable key travel when compared to any Apple keyboard and has an inviting feel. Each keystroke has great depth and resistance, as though the key kind-of-sort-of wants to be pressed, provides a little resistance, then quickly returns to its home position after being fired. Apple’s keyboards have such limited travel that heavy typists will almost certainly feel their fingers bottom out when they really get going. Microsoft’s improved depth, great key travel, and perfected resistance give it a tremendous feel and has considerably reduced the strain on my fingertips after long periods of writing.

Despite the larger key travel, the Surface Ergonomic is orders of magnitude quieter than the MacBook Pro keyboards. The keystroke sound comes in at a lower octave than any Magic Keyboard actuation and better blends into the background of the noises reverberating throughout my house.

Of course, this is somewhat of a split keyboard, so it’s not meant for all types of typists. My wife gave it a shot and immediately became infuriated with the placement of the keys. For touch typists or for those who have to look down on occasion when inserting punctuation from the numeral row, a little transition period is in order before becoming comfortable with the layout.

The Alcantara wrist base is also worth mentioning. When I really get going, my wrists tend to get a bit sweaty and the outside bone on my wrist often gets tired of the friction with the desk. In both cases, the smooth, foam wrist base of the Surface Ergonomic eliminates any stress points and keeps my fingers and wrists aligned in a comfortable format.

I won’t lie, either: the Alcantara wrist base looks plain cool. It has such an inviting look to it.


Pitching a Microsoft keyboard to a predominantly Apple crowd may come with a few raised eyebrows, particularly due to compatibility concerns. Function keys don’t align with Apple’s built-in functions while command keys are labelled and function differently between OSes.

Out of the box, the Surface Ergonomic’s “Windows” key in the bottom left command row is mapped to the “Command” key on Apple keyboards. “Alt” is “Alt” and “Ctrl” is “Option.” If you can somehow get around this and retrain your muscle memory, you won’t have to do any remapping.

I jump between Windows and Mac every day, so I have quickly grown tired of trying to retrain muscle memory. As a result, I quickly downloaded Karabiner to remap keys on the Surface Ergonomic to approximate each key’s location on a regular Apple keyboard. “Alt” is now “Command” and the Windows key is now “Alt/Option”. This brings the experience fairly close to Apple’s own keyboards.

The function row can also be remapped, depending on which functions you normally use. On macOS, the default “ScrlLk” and “Pause” function keys change screen brightness, while the audio controls on the left side of the Surface Ergonomic’s function row function as advertised. These are the only function keys I use regularly, so I haven’t bothered remapping.


A friend of mine who purchased the Surface Ergonomic in the days around its launch complained heavily about the Surface Ergonomic’s connectivity to macOS. His frustration resulted in his returning the Surface Ergonomic keyboard, despite the fact that he loved the keyboard’s feel. He wasn’t alone either — there are numerous reports online that highlight the Surface Ergonomic’s connectivity issues in its early days.

So far, I haven’t experienced anything that should raise eyebrows. I have noticed general Bluetooth drops as a whole, but this isn’t directly attributable to the keyboard. These Bluetooth drops also take place with a Magic Keyboard, so I won’t be pointing fingers at anything.

On the plus side, the Surface Ergonomic does have one connectivity trick up its sleeve, which I think Apple should adopt immediately: When you fire up your sleeping computer with the keyboard, any keystrokes you input are saved and then inserted after the lagged Bluetooth connectivity period. This means you can instantly type your password and not have to wait for macOS and the keyboard to connect before inputting your password. This is a lovely touch and one which seemed so natural, I didn’t realize it was working until someone pointed it out to me.

Battery Life

Microsoft ships the Surface Ergonomic with two standard AAA batteries, which it advertises have a life of 12 months of use. I’ve had my Surface Ergonomic for a month, so I’m afraid I can’t comment on its long-term lifespan. It’s nice not having to tie up a USB port to charge the keyboard every month or two, but having to go out and purchase a pack of AAAs just for my keyboard is a bit of a bummer.

Most desktop keyboards don’t seem to be backlit these days and neither is the Surface Ergonomic. I use mine in front of an LG 27-inch UltraFine display, so the brightness of the display lights up the keys at all times of the day. This will surely allow those AAA batteries to last a little longer as well.


Remapping keys aside, I have finally found the keyboard to end all keyboards. The Surface Ergonomic keyboard spent an hour on my desk before I re-boxxed the Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad to be sold.

I’ve hammered out this review in less than 45 minutes and not once have I felt sore fingertips from bottoming out at the bottom of a keystroke or sore wrists from them rubbing on the desk on awkward pressure points. I also don’t have any sweat on my wrists, as I assume they’ve been whisked dry by the Alcantara base.

With the help of Karabiner, I’ve found a keyboard that feels great, works like an Apple keyboard, and looks as good on my desk as any prior keyboard. Although it’s expensive, the Microsoft Surface Ergonomic keyboard is a worthy option for those who are tired of Apple’s endless war on its once-treasured keyboard performance.

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42 days ago
Oakland, CA
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