What A Lot Of Things

Ian Smith & Ash Winter

Ash and Ian talk about interesting Things from the tech industry that are on their minds. read less
TechnologyTechnology

Episodes

Episode Seventeen – Large Action Models and Creativity
Jul 9 2024
Episode Seventeen – Large Action Models and Creativity
In this episode of "What A Lot Of Things", Ian and Ash consider the nature of time, before diving into two main topics: AI's evolving role in our lives and the nature of creativity.They discuss "large action models", the new Rabbit R1 device, and Apple's recent AI announcements, debating whether AI is best viewed as a feature or a standalone product before going on to challenge the common belief that some people "aren't creative," examining how past experiences shape our perceptions of our own creativity. Ian and Ash explore the importance of practicing creative skills, maintaining a growth mindset, and the challenges of creating art while still developing skills.LinksThinking Digital conferenceJennie Maizel’s Sketchbook ClubTED: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?Every Child Is an Artist. The Problem Is How to Remain an Artist Once He or She Grows Up – Pablo Picasso (apologies for the obnoxious ads on this link)TED: Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improveIra Glass on the gap that creators must bridgeQuote from Douglas Adams on deadlinesPsychology Today: The Science of CreativityPsychology Today: The Unromantic Truth Behind Creativity MythsCory Doctorow: What Kind of Bubble is AI?Deepmind’s AlphaFold and their protein structure predictions for nearly all catalogued proteins known to scienceConnections game from the New York Times Using AutoGPT to save moneyRabbit R1 pocket companionHumane AI PinReact (Reason & Act) AI agent paper from GoogleGlue and pizza (BBC)Leeds Testing Atelier
Episode Sixteen – Local Democracy and Algo-Free Living
Jun 4 2024
Episode Sixteen – Local Democracy and Algo-Free Living
In this episode of "What A Lot Of Things", Ian and Ash celebrate their podcast's return to a regular cadence, with episodes now coming out every two weeks.The duo cover two main topics - local democracy and the backlash against social media algorithms. On local democracy, Ian discusses his experience running for town council, the arcane rules and challenges involved, and his belief that more ordinary citizens should get involved to make local councils less political and more pragmatic.The conversation then shifts to the pros and cons of social media algorithms. Ash and Ian examine how platforms like TikTok and YouTube quickly learn user preferences, sometimes recommending questionable content, and debate whether such algorithms ultimately benefit users or simply enable more effective advertising and "shitification". They also discuss some emerging alternatives that aim to provide more transparent, human-curated social media experiences.Ian and Ash conclude by sharing the best way for listeners to get in touch with their thoughts and feedback. Another thought-provoking installment of "What A Lot Of Things"!LinksLeeds Testing AtelierManifesting Agency and Days, Ian’s other podcasts.The famous meeting of Handsforth Parish Council at which it turns out that Jackie Weaver did in fact have the authority.Flatpack DemocracyIan’s website made for Ilkley Community AlliancePlay Rock Paper Scissors with CGP GreyWired: The Latest Online Culture War is Humans vs Algorithmspi.fyi, Spread Social and the Prosocial Ranking Challenge.Ian's Ilkley Community Alliance website (and, through the magic of Vercel, here is the version from the time of the election)WSJ: How TikTok's Algorithm Figures You Out (Youtube)
Episode Fifteen - Testing Career Paths and the XZ Hack
May 21 2024
Episode Fifteen - Testing Career Paths and the XZ Hack
In this latest episode of the "What A Lot Of Things" podcast, hosts Ian and Ash explore intriguing aspects of technology and its broader implications. They delve into the evolving career paths for testing specialists, discussing how testers can navigate organizational challenges and develop fulfilling careers. The conversation shifts to a significant security furore involving the XZ compression tool, where they unpack the complexities of open-source software maintenance and the vulnerabilities introduced by subtle malicious contributions. Throughout, the hosts' lively banter and insightful anecdotes make for a thought-provoking listen that bridges technical details with broader tech culture reflections.LinksGuardian TechScape: How cheap, outsourced labour in Africa is shaping AI English and "ChatGPT cliches" gist iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S22+ (better link for the Samsung?)2030 Status meeting with Mother Nature video from Apple.Pachyderm and Hachyderm.Agile Testing FellowshipMaaret Pyhäjärvi's post on LinkedIn quoting Anna Baik, plus a Youtube video on how to pronounce Pyhäjärvi. We will do better next time! We can find other people quoting Anna saying this, but not the original source for the quotation.Articles for Thing One:Ministry of Testing: Navigating a Career Path in Software TestingTechBeacon: Two years with no testers: What I learnedDan Ashby: Dispelling the misconceptions #5 – “Lets 100% automate everything and get rid of all our testers”TestFort: AI in Software Testing: A Silver Bullet or a Threat to the Profession?Eton College King's Scholarship Exam, General Paper IAccessibility testing specialist, Ady Stokes on LinkedInThe best step-by-step story I found for the XZ backdoor was Everything I know about the XZ backdoor by Evan BoehsXKCD: All Modern Digital InfrastructureXZ maintainer Lasse Collin's page on the backdoorAndres Freund's email to the OSS Security mailing list on discovering the backdoorDosubot, an AI-powered Github maintainer agent used in Langchain's repos.The story of `left-pad`...and our new email address: technologyeeyores@whatalotofthings.com
Episode Fourteen – Managing IT Suppliers and AI Voice Cloning
May 7 2024
Episode Fourteen – Managing IT Suppliers and AI Voice Cloning
In this episode, Ian and Ash delve into the complexities of managing IT service providers, exploring the challenges and strategies of working with consultancies and independent contractors. They also discuss the cutting-edge topic of AI voice cloning, examining its potential uses and ethical implications. From historical pirate accents to futuristic technology, join them for a thought-provoking discussion on how these technologies impact our work and the broader implications they hold for society.Our shiny new email address, as promised in this episode, is... technologyeeyores@whatalotofthings.comLinksOpenAI, and the not particularly relevant to this episode but still oft-mismentioned OpenAPI.Be More Pirate, the book where Ian found out why we think pirates all had British West Country accentsPigeon Keeping – WikipediaDiagram Industries blog, where Ash documented his learnings from the Ministry of Testing's "30 Days of AI In Testing" event.NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month)LinkedIn is experimenting with a TikTok-like video feed in its app – TechCrunch, 27th March 2024hachyderm.io, the Mastodon server that Ian fruitlessly recommended to AshNavigating the Challenges and Opportunities of Synthetic Voices, OpenAI Blog, 29th March 2024Free Software: Freedom and Cooperation - speech providing an early overview of the Free Software movement, delivered by Richard Stallman on 29th May 2001.Crack Version 4.1: A Sensible Password Checker for Unix [PDF], white paper by Alec Muffett (estimated date, November 1991)Open LLMs – Wikipedia, a list of open source LLMs, including Meta's Llama 2 as mentioned.How one developer just broke Node, Babel and thousands of projects in 11 lines of JavaScript, The Register, 23rd March 2016Everything I know about the XZ backdoor, a rather heroic and very detailed explanation last updated (at the time of writing) on 8th April 2024AI Voice Cloning news linksOpenAI deems its voice cloning tool too risky for general release – The Guardian, 31st March 2024OpenAI’s voice cloning AI model only needs a 15-second sample to work – The Verge, 29th March 2024OpenAI is pitching Sora to Hollywood. Creatives are fighting back – Mashable, 25th March 2024Resemble AI Creates Synthetic Audio Watermark to Tag Deepfake Speech – voicebot.ai, 2nd February 2023Your Scientists Were So Preoccupied With Whether Or Not They Could, They Didn’t Stop To Think If They Should – Know Your Meme
Episode Thirteen – TikTok and X
Apr 23 2024
Episode Thirteen – TikTok and X
In this episode, Ian and Ash delve into the evolving landscape of social media, examining the implications of TikTok's potential ban in the U.S., the integration of AI in testing, and the shifting dynamics of platforms like Twitter (now X). They share personal anecdotes, discuss the significance of data privacy, and explore the future of social media engagement. The conversation also considers the challenges and opportunities presented by these digital shifts, offering insights into the broader tech community's response.LinksOn the TikTok saga:TechCrunch: TikTok ban: How Congress could force ByteDance to sell or push the app out of the USSpiceworks: There's Nothing Confusing About TikTok's Security RisksThe Guardian: TikTok has been accused of ‘aggressive’ data harvesting. Is your information at risk?NY Times: House Passes Bill to Force TikTok Sale From Chinese Owner or Ban the AppCory Doctorow: TikTok's Ensh*ttificationVine, the story of its demise, and Ian's vines archived on the old site.Postman and PostBot30 Days of AI in Testing from Ministry of TestingThe Leeds Testing Atelier, at which Ash has performed the role of Testing Game Show Host.How To Archive Your Tweets With The Wayback MachineThe original server operated by the Mastodon gGmbH non-profit (which runs on ActivityPub)Ivory for iOS client for Mastodon, from TapBotsThreads from Meta.Bluesky which runs on the AT ProtocolThe late, lamented Apollo Reddit clientThe celebrated What A Lot Of Things LinkedIn GroupYou can find our social media links (or link, in the case of Ash) on  the website.