Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Pointless and Awesome

Monday, June 10th, 2013

There are many things that are pointless, and some that are awesome.

Here’s something that’s both:

Pointless: Because there’s absolutely no practical point in having your food delivered by quadrocopter if your waitress has to stand there and guide the Quadrocopter to your table using an iPad.

Awesome: Because they’re still flying food to your table in a quadrocopter.

I may have to eat there when I’m in London for Worldcon next year…

A Hole In the Water Into Which You Pour Money

Friday, May 10th, 2013

I never cared about the America’s Cup, which has always been a race for rich guys to compete against each other. But this article on the crash of Oracle’s radical 13-story, rigid-sail driven ship is fascinating from both engineering and failure analysis perspectives.

Post crash footage:

And here’s Mark 2 of the boat, back on the water and hydroplaning:

Like most Oracle products, the ship seems to need a large number of consultants to keep it operating…

Technology Marches On!

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Is your retroincabulator up to snuff?

XKCD’s Time

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

It’s easy to assume that everyone in the world follows Randall Munroe’s geeky online stickman webcomic XKCD, since it seems all my friends do. For those that don’t, last Monday he put up a strip called “Time.” This strip, like his uber-large “Click-and-Drag”, plays with the conventions of the form. “Time” started out with a static, non-gag image with the hover-over label “wait for it.” Since then, he’s updated the image every half-hour to an hour, even though he’s done new strips on the usual M-W-F schedule. If you follow the images in order, “Time” shows two people (which XKCD devotees have dubbed “Cueball” and “Megan”) building a sand castle.

Here’s an animated gif of the images so far:

Here’s a quicker version, which you can also step through, speed up, slow down, etc.

Here’s the explanation page for it, as well as its own Wikia. We now have a real-life version of those people obsessively tracking online image snippets from Pattern Recognition, except we actually know who they’re from.

The obvious metaphor is how time continues to flow and things change when you’re not watching.

As of this writing, the images are still being updated. Munroe could keep updating that one comic for a long, long, er, time, especially if he decreases the update rate.

Conceivably, “Time” could be a long-running conceptual art project and keep updating for the rest of our lives, and beyond, like that German church playing John Cage’s “As Slowly as Possibly” for 629 years…

All Glory [ ]

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Random Google auto-completes that amuse me:

All glory…

  1. …is fleeting

  2. …to the Hypnotoad

Pictures from the 2012 Chicago WorldCon: Friday

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The obligatory Stina Leicht picture:

Stina was a John W. Campbell Award nominee this year, and she moderated a panel that included Gene Wolfe, Martha Wells, and Joan D. Vinge (below).

After the panel I had lunch with Gene Wolfe, Gary K. Wolfe (below), Gene’s daughter Teri Goulding, and Gary’s girlfriend Stacie Hanes.

Gary ordered the Frank Gehry Sandwich, impressively postmodern and completely impractical.

Alaskan David Marusek:

Laura Ann Gilman. “Smile broadly! Drink heavily!”

Bookseller and Tiger Eye Press publisher Chris Edwards:

Allen Steele.

Jim Minz and Catherine Asaro. I trust you can guess which is which.

James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel and David Marusek. “Look into my eyes!”

Toastmaster and SFWA President John Scalzi:

Apple: The Most Valuable Company in the History of the World

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Today Apple became the most valuable publicly traded company of all time. Not bad for the once “beleaguered” company which has been declared dead more times than pretty much any other company.

Here’s a quick history of the company pre-iPhone:

And here’s a quick visual look at of a few of Apple’s computers over the years:

Attack of the Zune Spam Zombies

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Microsoft discontinued the Zune (i.e., their unpopular iPod clone that, despite coming in brown and being able to “squirt” songs at other people) back in October of 2001. So why am I still getting the same braindead Zune-related comments spam I’ve gotten for the past two years?

“This is getting a bit more subjective, but I much prefer the Zune Marketplace.”

“The new Zune browser is surprisingly good, but not as good as the iPod’s.”

“Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune.”

My theory is that someone out there sells a ScriptKiddie Comment Spamming Kit that includes pre-loaded Zune comments as the example payload text, and most spammers never bother to switch them out.

Now if I could just figure out why I keep getting comment spam promoting a washed-up rapper…

Dear Google: Thanks Ever So Much for Breaking Attachments in Gmail for Firefox

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Yesterday Google managed to break uploading attachments in Firefox, so that it doesn’t do anything when you click the Attack a File Link, and it’s still broken as I write this. I am not the only one having the problem.

Worse still, Gmail used to have a work-around for the problem, instructing people to go to Settings page and disable “Advanced attachments.” Well, guess what? They’ve removed that setting from the settings page, so you’re just stuck with it being broken.

This may be a simple screw-up, but it follows more user-hostile actions from Google, such as not carrying search strings over from the main Google search to the Google News search, and removing the Google Blog search from both the main search bar and the More menu as well. It seems like Google is trying to make their system less usable to…what? Force them to use Chrome and Blogger? Whatever the reason, it’s extremely annoying.

Updated: As of just after noon today, the upload attachment problem seems to be fixed.

Skynet Now Has Its Own Band

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Flying robot quadrotors perform the James Bond theme:

This was done at Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science‘s Vijay Kumar, Daniel Melligner and Alex Kushleyev. The quadrotors are under computer control.

It’s not a particularly good version, but I’m sure they’ll have time to improve before the final enslavement of humanity. Now you’ll have to excuse me, I have to write a quadrotor heist novel…

(Hat tip: Derek Johnson)