Month: April 2011

Animated Physics

Piled Higher & Deeper comics created a great animation to go along with an interview with Jonathan Feng. A fun look at where we in the realm of physics research. If you’re a physics geek, though, you’ll be a bit bored as it’s very high-level. But the animations that go with this are still worth watching.

Dark Matters from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Thoughts on SSDs

Received yet another ad for SSDs (solid-state hard-drives). I’d love to have the benefits: faster boot times, less heat/more battery, longer life. As cool as a solid state drive is, I’m not sure I can justify the costs. Or, to bring the costs in line, lower my used disk space. As I think, though, I can see something of a work-around. Go with the smallest SSD I can justify, but then use the cloud, or an external hard-drive, or both for the bulk of my information storage. Also, bodes the question of “why do I save so much data?”

I do save nearly everything. That goes way back, though. Every so often, I purge my 4 drawer file cabinet. Yet I have years worth of receipts, various miscellaneous files. My data hoarding goes back to hard-copy days. And, perhaps, it’s time for that to end.

I think of the times that that one, random file, saved has been either helpful, or has saved my butt. Producing that email saying “I want you to do ‘x'” was perfect when a manager was yelling at me (during a meeting) about why I had done ‘x’. A few times, yet meaningful. Perhaps the positive response to this reinforced a pack-rat mentality, or the fear that this one document will be the one that saves me. Hmm…fear…an issue in-and-of itself.

More reflection is needed for me to know if this is need for data space, and fear-driven, or simply “I don’t have the cash for buying un-needed technology right now”. Perhaps someday I’ll flesh this out further. Perhaps. Someday.


I just watched part of a show about 9/11 conspiracy theories (click here for more). Now, I’m no engineer (though have a great deal of related training), so am disinclined to argue the facts on either side of this debate. I lean towards to official story, though, My main criteria for this? For such a secret to be maintained would truly be a revolutionary event. These same people who can’t keep secret the next speech are going to keep THIS under wraps? The divergent and conflicting agendas within the federal government will work together in this instance?

Now, if there is some shadow org affecting such actions, the ramifications are amazing. Keeping such secrets with actions that would work across departments is something unique. Perhaps it’s possible. It escapes my observations, though.


After several attempts to over-generalize my key-fobs functionality (front door >2x, mailbox, store-front, kitchen lights), I started wondering how awesome life would be with remote control of every major appliance. Kitchen lights reflecting on my computer screen? Click! Hands full and trying to get in the house? Click! Mailbox? Yep, Click! Oh, wouldn’t life be so much easier?

Well, no. Imagine the way such could be executed. Either multiple fobs for each action. I’m imagining an electronic age version of the jailers key ring. Or walking with a universal remote that’s more like an iPad. Not very practical after all.

Wait! How about an implant wired to your nervous system? We’re not quite there yet, but we can see the proverbial light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel for this (though faintly). Imagine that world. Need the lights on? Just think it. Etc, etc, etc. But, besides the risk of infection, what other issues would this bring? First, the Revelation/bible based “mark” that would get a significant part of our population in a tizzy. Regardless, I’m unlikely to elect this “service”, if ever offered. Mainly for security. Think how insecure data is right now. And we’re going to let this technology access our minds? Not mine!

Are you going to be at the front of the line to get your mind hard-wired to the net? Going to trade everything in for guns and a cabin in the high woods and wait for Skynet to come online? Or somewhere in between?

Random thoughts on a Sunny Saturday.

The Medical Industrial Complex

Just watched a spot for a prescription eye-lash grower. Watching it makes me think of the treatments for gas, hair-loss, and all sorts of trivial ailments. Seems rather superfluous and silly. Clearly, even such a noble endeavor as medicine looses its ethical compass in the face of profit.

How do we get treatments developed for serious diseases that don’t have large markets? The invisible hand won’t bring them about. A disease, no matter how dreadful its affects and the suffering it causes, that only has a minute number of “customers” won’t attract the medical industrial complex. Is there any way to build these treatments, products? To alleviate these diseases and mitigate suffering? This ethical concern is one, unspoken, draw for me towards a nationalized (perhaps globalized?) system. I hope that we could find a non-socialized system.

La Vida Smartphona

One of my Facebook chums just got her first smartphone (an Android for those keeping score at home). Thus, she was looking for some suggestions to get the best use of the thing. Which got me thinking; and that’s a dangerous thing. I gave her some pointers, but kept it brief out of respect for her Wall. But, since this is my blog and I can do whatever-the-heck-I-want, I’m going to elaborate.

Smartphones have been a key part of my life for years. It was a small conversion at the time, as I had Palm & HP handhelds before. Shifting from two small devices to one was wondrous. Geekous maximus. In the smartphone realm, my first was a Treo, then to Blackberries (when Treos finally annoyed me enough). Then I got a iPhone, followed with a brief foray into Windows (both a WinMo 6.1 & the WP7). So, I think I know how to use the devices efficiently.

Anyway, here are the basics of how I use mine. Some things I’ve used for years, some are only germane now with post iPhone smartphones.

  • email: should be evident. It’s dangerous, though, to be always online.
  • calendar: my phone is my calendar. It’s always with me, so I’m able to commit to time requests right off. My wife and I send each other appointments so we know when we have larger commitments. Also, I’m now very dependent on alarms. It’s synced, of course.
  • to-dos: I downloaded a feature rich to-do app since this is critical for me. Pop-up reminders are important for me on this, too.
  • Notes: having notes that sync to my computer has become critical for me. I also take voice memos and having a tool that integrates them all is priceless.
  • Traffic/GPS: it’s great to be able to check traffic as I’m walking to my car, or for my navigator to check while I’m on the road. There’ve been a few times where the GPS directions have really helped me out.
  • financial: my bank and broker have apps, which are quite helpful. Not life-or-death, but quite slick.
  • I love Urban Spoon and Yelp! for guidance when dining out. They’re really useful when I’m in a town I don’t know.
  • music: when the iPhone first came out (I held out for a cycle, keeping my Blackberry), I downloaded some music to see the value. I thought the convergence of phone and music player to be dumb. My notions have mollified. Now, I use my iPhone’s iPod all the time. I especially like podcasts during my commute.
  • games: invaluable tool to kill time in lines, the dmv, et al.
  • reading: relatively new to me, using the phone as a reader has been a boon in times of boredom (see above).
  • This has been a simple stream-of-consciousness list. Hardly all-inclusive. Have anything you want to add? Drop a note in the comments. I’d love to hear it.

    An Edmonds Kind Of Day

    This afternoon I chose to stroll along the waterfront in Edmonds. A lovely, quiet downtown, I enjoy taking an hour or so to walk along the beach, past the marina, enjoying the views. Today, though, was unique. First, I heard the (surprisingly loud) cries of eagles. The nesting pairs of bald eagles are back. They followed my path for quite some time. Of course, my walk took me a block from their aerie. The several other walkers and I conjectured the crows trying to dissuade the eagles from their nest were doomed to fail.

    The entirety of my walk was haunted by the eagles, but they weren’t my only wild moment. A small family of sea-lions were passing outside the marina. And, lastly, at the end of the waterside stroll of my sojourn, I watched an otter in the Sound. I adore these wild moments, brought to me right in the heart of town. Solid reminders of why I love it here.

    How to be an Analyst

    I zipped out a snarky answer on TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) and thought I’d share…I am rather proud.

    (Setting the scene: Gwydion commented that “I want a job as analyst, I can say any silly thing and be paid for it” [comment #1])

    “Gwydion, it’s not quite that easy. First, you need to collect copious amounts of BS data. Proceed to dump into the spreadsheet of your choice. Then torture this into the most eye-burning/bleeding set of graphics and slides that you can. That is a critical step, for it instills a sciencey note (giving credibility) and causes intense dizziness, which enables you to use your hypnotic skills (there’s an app for that, I’m sure). Then just make sure to include that Steve Jobs is/will be giving Steve Ballmer an economic wedgie and off you go.”