Archive: November 12, 2013

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it's a new world

Tuesday,  11/12/13  12:44 AM

Hi blog public, it's me, blogging.  As previously agreed nothing is more boring than a blogger blogging about not blogging, and so I won't do that.  I'm just going to blog.

Today is Veteran's Day, and I wish to observe a moment of silence and respect for all veterans, especially my father (a Dutch veteran of WWII, now sadly no longer with us), and my oldest daughter (a veteran of the Iraq conflagration).  Thanks! 

And now to blogging.  You will be delighted (or frightened) to know, I about 200 juicy blogworthy items saved in my RSS reader, stretching back to October 2011, when I stopped blogging regularly, and over time I'll try to work them in.  A steady drip seems preferable to a one-shot deluge, don't you think? 

I'll just note parenthetically that somehow RSS feeds seem to have fallen from favor, but I still think they're a wonderful way to scan hundreds of news sources daily without spending hours doing so.  There was a biggish kerpuffle over Google having discontinued their Reader blog reader, but there's a lot of other ways to monitor RSS feeds.  I use a freeware program called SharpReader which is now about 10 years old, and it works great.

I'm going to stay away from Obamacare bashing.  You are either for it or against it, and I'm not going to change your mind.  Anyone who can't see that there's no free lunch - that some of us must pay more for health insurance so that others of us can get it at all - is not going to be convinced by mere logic.  How much more are you willing to pay so that previously uninsurable people can get health insurance?  I'd be willing to pay a little more, I guess, but not very much. 

The real key to this problem is lowering the cost of healthcare overall.  Two things would surely help, cap liability, and unlink reimbursement from Medical and Medicaid.  Also medical insurance should be insurance, a hedge against disaster, not a way to share ongoing maintenance expenses.

This is pretty amazing: Amazon is closer than ever to running the US Postal Service.  Does anyone still care about real mail?  Seems like if it's important, it gets sent UPS or FedEx.  Increasingly the USPS is simply a way to distribute recyclable trash. 

From LGF: The Feynman Series: Beauty.  Beautiful! 

From Kottke: The Feynman Lectures in Physics, in HTML.  Good to know in case you're in the mood for some light reading :) 

This is good to know: How to Edit Wikipedia.  Raise your hand if you've ever done this?  Aha, thought so.  Wikipedia is amazing, we should all help make it more amazing.  It's so easy, too. 

Something I missed: Messenger!  Amazing pictures of Mercury.  Fun fact: Mercury's "days" are twice as long as its "years". 

Tim Bray says Ads in Front of Things are bad.  He's entirely correct.  "When I see it, I suspect a broken business model; if you need to inflict this kind of abuse on your readers, a barrel’s bottom is being scraped."  Yep. 

So, you might ask, what prompted you to blog?  Well...  today is an anniversary of sorts, an inflection point, if you will; I'll tell you more about this over the next days and weeks.  But I figured what the heck.  Yeah, I missed you too! 



11 ... 12 ... 13 ...

Tuesday,  11/12/13  09:14 PM

Greetings, it's 11 ... 12 ... 13 day.  I worked all day, coding, and at the end of it my trusty Chinese food prediction module tells me I shall be rewarded for these efforts.  Good to know.

Thanks for welcoming me back.  I'm not sure I'm truly back, only time will tell.  But two's a trend. 

Did I tell you, I have a MakerBot Replicator 2?  I do.  It is a most awesome toy.  Whenever people ask me "why did you get it", I don't know what to say ... it seems almost self-evident. 

Anyway I just completed my finest print yet, a Voronoi -style chess set.  (That link goes to the amazing Thingiverse, a public repository of most excellent designs to print.  Think of Napster in the early days, everything is there, and everything is free.)  Voronoi was a guy who studied random distributions, and his name is now used as an adjective for physical objects with lots of random holes in them.  These are particularly great for 3D printing because they look cool, they're printable, they're not entirely solid, and they're hard to make any other way.

Besides the MakerWare software which actually prints stuff, the other magic here is Tinkercad, a free web-based 3D modeling software.  That such a great tool can be developed entirely in a web browser is amazing, and that it can be used by anyone free is even more amazing.  What a time to be alive.

While I was out a lot of interesting events occurred, including the 10th anniversary of the iPod.  Do you remember the original iPod announcement?  It was a classic Jobsnote; I remember it well.  I didn't "get" where this was going, but I remember feeling like something important just happened.  Who knew this was going to completely change the music industry, and lead to changing the movie industry as well as cellphones?  (And might we even say, change the computer industry?) 

Yeah, I know; Newsweek!  Wow.  It has been a long ten years.  I guess print media is another industry which changed completely :)

Here's another big change: the death of the home stereo system.  Sigh.  This *totally* rings a bell for me; I loved home stereos.  I loved everything about them; the sound of course, but also the display panels, and the switches and the knobs, all the connections in the back, even the smell of hot electronics :) 

How excellent is this?  Steam powered car from 1884 sells for $4.6M.  Looks like it is worth every penny.  It took about 50 years to get from steam to gasoline, and another to get from gasoline to electricity.  How much will gas powered cars sell for in 2084? 

Here's another thing I want: Hublot rebuilds the famed Antikythera Mechanism.  I've always loved Hublot watches, they're ridiculous but in a cool way. 

Here's an interesting thought: what would be the greatest technological leap you'd have to explain to someone who time traveled from the 1950s?  Well, you'd have to explain what happened to music, movies, print media, telephones, and computers.  Maybe you could cover a lot of this simply by describing the latest iPhone :)  

What's interesting is that the answer would be mostly the same for someone from the 1880s, and maybe even someone from the time of the Antikythera Mechanism (est 100BC).  A lot has happened lately!

News you might be able to use: the Earthiest planets in the Universe (that we know of ).  Complicating this search is the inconvenient fact that Earthy planets aren't especially easy to find.  There might be many of them out there - undoubtedly there are - but we might never know it. 

Then there's stuff like this: Dwarf planet Eris is bereft of atmosphere, about the size of Pluto.  It's been out there right in our own solar system all along, but we just found it.  How many objects like this exist?

You know I'm a total fan of Cassini, right?  Well here's why: check out these awesome pictures of Saturn, backlit by the Sun.  There are not frames from a sci-fi movie, these are real pictures of a planet.  Yippee.




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