Newley's Notes

Newley’s Notes 121: Notes from ‘Sapiens’; Tractor Hacking; ‘Donkey Kong’ Scandal?

2018 02 10galaxy

Edition 121 of my email newsletter went out on Monday.

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Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes: The best of what I write. The best of what I read.

What I wrote at

Book Notes: ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,’ by Yuval Noah Harari — You might have heard about this book. It’s been all the rage among Silicon Valley types for a few years. I loved it, so as I sometimes do, I shared my notes.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

1. Cryptocurrency utopians are flocking to Puerto Rico, where they want to build a blockchain-based community, Nellie Bowles reports in the New York Times. Among the reasons:

Puerto Rico offers an unparalleled tax incentive: no federal personal income taxes, no capital gains tax and favorable business taxes — all without having to renounce your American citizenship. For now, the local government seems receptive toward the crypto utopians; the governor will speak at their blockchain summit conference, called Puerto Crypto, in March.

2. Farmers in the Midwest are hacking John Deere software to fix their tractors themselves rather than using pricey dealerships. Interesting video report from Vice’s Motherboard.

3. Megan McArdle’s 12 Rules for Life. Not exactly tech related, but just plain smart and fun: From relationship tips to giving better compliments to dinner rolls, the always-excellent author and Bloomberg View columnist has got you covered.

4. Did “Donkey Kong” legend Billy Mitchell cheat? Venture Beat’s Jeff Grubb reports:

A Donkey Kong fansite has removed three high scores from arcade legend Billy Mitchell after an analysis revealed he likely misled the community about playing on real arcade hardware and that he instead submitted emulator gameplay.

Using an emulator rather than the real arcade game could make it easier and thus enable cheating, apparently. The lion-maned Mitchell stars in the excellent 2007 documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” (Trailer is here.)

5. “The Chrome Extensions We Can’t Live Without,” by Wired staff members. There are some gems in this list of add-ons to Google’s browser, such as the new-to-me Great Suspender (stops loading tabs you’re not using); HabitLab (a Stanford University tool for curbing your use of social media and other sites); and xTab (which sets a limit on how many tabs you can keep open).

🔬 Quote of the week

“I think this is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology.”

That’s from Stephen Houston, a Brown University archaeology and anthropology professor, on the huge network of previously undiscovered Maya ruins researchers have found in Guatemala.

💫 1 Silly Thing

“Mr. Bean Is A Master Of Physical Comedy.” An entertaining video from NerdWriter.

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


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