Basile Simon (blog) Data, hackery, stories

Odd sketches - weeknotes #19

The week started with CVE 2021-3156, which I patched across Global Witness’ boxes with Ansible. Nice little tool, this! As the playbook grows, I wonder how folks keep track of what’s in the toolkit?

Some progress on my portable, dockerised and backed-up install of Neo4J, but I’ve hit a wall while trying to integrate it with Linkurious. I’ve got a hunch that in fact I shouldn’t have based this image on v4.2.0.
Oh, and since we’re using the free, “community” release of Neo4J, it’s actually not full Docker: the database/container needs to be stopped anyway in order to safely take a backup 😔

And I belatedly met Ben, Global Witness’ new (and only) interactive developer. As such, he’s going to work on building their stack – and I am hearing he’s quite the Observable fan… 😉


Sketching and storyboarding continues for Tactical Tech. Observable is such a good tool for this.

I’m still dealing with this very wide, sparse matrix of tags associated with companies (~1,000 deep and 250 across). Each company has several tags associated with it, and I’m looking for a general-purpose, explainable way of attributing each one with one qualifier.

This week, I asked the researcher to reduce the size of our vocabulary of tags by going through them and applying Human Reasoning ™.

Meanwhile, I’ve been looking at different k-means clustering. Here are two sketches illustrating one cluster defined by the algorithm:

  • The dendrogram represents the hierarchy and the distance between each tags, and is useful to spot lone branches or several clusters within the cluster.
  • The heatmap focuses on distance between items and can be used to spot odd spots. This blue banding around item #30, after looking more in detail, is caused by these four companies being very closely related to image signal processing.


Our demo of RadarTech got cancelled very last minute, which will only make the technical feedback I’m waiting for more overdue.


Had a good phone call with Niko, who’s joining Deutsche Welle’s Research and Cooperations projects.

Friedrich and I braved the arrival of the snowstorm on Friday afternoon for a drinkie and a work catchup. Wherever you find yourself in Berlin, there’s plenty of history to take in, and Friedrich is a nice guide. I did, however, catch a cold.

Read and seen