Posts

Graduation

Image
"It's up to you to save the world.  Our generation messed up." said an older person to no one in particular.

I graduated in 1982 with a degree in Chemistry.  As is tradition at Cornell, there were no hired inspirational speakers.  The send-off was given -- more appropriately, I think -- by the then university president Frank H.T. Rhodes.   The economy was in rough shape, but President Rhodes nevertheless emphasized the importance of setting great goals and finding meaning in service and leadership.

I found a portion of his speech in the NY Times

My graduating class had 4,200 students, and President Rhodes was a distant figure.  Yet, we were separated by one degree.

One summer, I had a job at Uris Library doing general inventory, cataloging, and shelving.  I learned this library was steward to a very special collection: all the issues, from number one with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, to the present, of Playboy Magazine.  I got the plumb assignment of checking the collect…

On The Internet, No One Knows You’re A Targ

Image
A recent project had me fitting my Mazda3 with a cloaking device.  The  goal was just to learn, as speeding without being seen is arguably more dangerous than speeding while visible.
Here is a photo sequence of the cloaking device in action.  There was absolutely no photoshop trickery!
Photo 1: Mazda3 j

Photo 2: So'wI' chu'  (Engage cloaking device)

Photo 3: Qapla'! (Success!)

The most difficult part of this project wasn’t the installation, although I did need special tools, including a phase coil resonator.  Nor was it the additional power requirements; I simply advanced the engine’s spark timing and switched from regular gasoline to premium.  No, the difficult part was locating the parts.  eBay and Craigslist were dead ends.  Inquiries on various car forums went unanswered.  And I sniffed around several junkyards to no avail. 
The last junkyard search ended like all the others — in  failure — but it led me to a nearby bar for a much needed drink.   Like so many patrons befo…

Goose-y Ways

Image
This post is not about the migration of geese.  Rather, it's about the migration of humans who use Google Maps, Siri (Apple Maps), and Waze.

Google Maps, my preferred app, recently went squirrelly on me, suggesting routes that didn't make sense.  It recovered the next day, but the episode was enough to make me reconsider Waze and Apple Maps.

Waze filled in admirably, but it was not without its quirks.  I liked that I could send my route and ETA to someone I intended to pick up. Waze would also automatically text the person when I was about five minutes away.

The very social nature of Waze, however, makes the screen busy.  While Google Maps can be summed up as no nonsense cartography, Waze has a whimsical side.  I don't use Waze's options to report accidents, police presence, or red light cameras.  Once you begin reporting hazards on the road, you become that hazard on the road.  When my son is in the passenger seat though, he freely taps away.  He finds it all mildly dive…

Evolution Of A Roach

Growing up in New York City gave me plenty of opportunities to observe roaches.  I remember the first ones I saw run away from me in a straight line.  Despite their speed, they were easy to chase down and step on.
A later generation of roaches learned to zig-zag as they tried to escape.  Those were much harder to catch.
Then there were the roaches I spotted on the wall.  They were fairly easy pickings, but a later generation startled me.  As I closed in for the kill, they let themselves fall to the floor and then scurried away.  Their ability to learn and evolve was little bit frightening.
I was a child then, and now, as an adult living in the suburbs, haven’t seen a roach in quite a while… until recently at Grand Central Station.  That day, like all the days before, morning commuters slowly, quietly, somberly, shuffled off the train toward their places of work.  But the woman in front of me suddenly broke stride and jumped and twitched.  Then zigged.  Then zagged.
Then I saw why.  Great

Ohio LinuxFest 2015

Image
This is a shout out to Ohio LinuxFest 2015.  On October 2-3, they will have their thirteenth annual gathering to talk all things Linux.  It takes place in Columbus Ohio at the downtown convention center.
The first time I attended was back in 2008.  It was free, so I made the 10 hour drive from NY to Ohio. It was worthwhile and I attended again in 2011, but as a “supporter” contributing $25 to the cause.  I learned much.
Last year, 2014, I had the nerve to attend as a speaker and gave a talk: “Stupid Shell Tricks” I had the after lunch sleepy crowd, and the organizers gave me the “big” room to fill.  At first, not many showed up and that made me nervous. But as the start time neared, more people showed up, and well… that made me nervous too  (sorry for the blurry photo, but my hands were shaking). My presentation and demos were driven off a raspberry pi with a Lego enclosure: And once I started, I grew confident.  My secret weapon was my raspberry pi had something no other raspberry pi had: …

XO: SO-SO future

When I first learned of the One Laptop Per Child program 2 or 3 years ago, I was very, very skeptical. A $100 laptop for kids in developing nations? Meh. Don't children in developing nations have more important needs?

But on second thought, there already were many organizations addressing those needs. Perhaps it is a good thing one group tries a different tack.  So in November 2007, I signed up for the OLPC Give-One Get-One program.  That I could explore a new piece of hardware running Linux appealed to the geek in me.  That my then 7 year old son would benefit from the XO appealed to the father in me.  And that an XO  would be donated to a child in a developing nation appealed to the "do a good deed" in me.
But after winning me over, the future of the XO laptop seems cloudy. With several departures of key OLPC employees and the replacement of Linux with Windows XP, it appears that OLPC has lost its way.  It's not that the  children care whether their laptop runs Li…

Eyeing the iPhone

Image
I've always wanted a phone without a keyboard, and HandSpring actually delivered one back in 2001:




But it didn't sell as well as the version with the keyboard, and as a result, HandSpring never evolved its design for a keyboard-lessphone. Instead, that path was taken by Apple and has led to the much coveted iPhone.
I confess that I am among those who covet the device, but I have hesitated in buying one. It's not the price, as I feel the hardware and technology is worth it. It's the 2 year commitment to AT&T that gives me pause. Coverage for the areas I frequent is spotty and I would certainly lose coolness points as I run to just the right spot in the office and start speaking loudly to overcome a bad connection.
Sadly for me, the iPhone on the AT&T network would be too much like driving a Lamborghini on a pot-hole ridden road.