I’ve seen this video a few times over the past few years. Each time I’m fixated on it. I find working a ladder changing a few lighting fixtures to be pain in the butt. This is nuts to me. Worth noting no safety lines when climbing.
Wired has an interesting article on the use of glow in the dark paint on roadways. It seems like an ingenious way to cut power consumption for street lights. I’m not entirely sure I really get the point of the temperature sensitive warnings though. The road getting icy when cold is generally common sense. It seems like it would be better if cars were just required to display outside temperature and perhaps have an audible alarm when it drops below freezing. The cost of this in a modern car would be relatively low as the electronics needed are all cheap. The added benefit would be both a visible (dashboard light) and audible (tone) warning.
Simple ideas can change things.
I’ve spent a few hours of the last few days on hold waiting for customer support representatives (CSR). It’s a task that drives everyone nuts. Services like GetHuman.com are pretty useful, but still hardly a solution.
A few companies now have “call me back” functionality where they will essentially just call you back when the CSR is available rather than make you wait on the line. It strikes me as strange that more companies don’t rush to implement this ASAP. For starters given most of these numbers are 800 numbers, they are footing the phone bill. They also need to have the capacity to have all these calls on hold for sometimes an hour. These costs can’t be trivial. I would think a system that keeps customers happier and reduces your telecom needs would be a win/win. I’m also betting some patent prevents this from being an easy to implement solution.
This is why when given the choice I prefer the online chat option. I can work with it in the background. It’s quiet, not disruptive and much more pleasant.
PCWorld has a pretty interesting story on Microsoft’s R&D efforts. While Microsoft is viewed as an old technology company they aren’t done innovating. In many ways they remind me of AT&T in the Bell Labs days. It’s very possible some of the best research of the day is being done there, and we quite possibly won’t realize it for years to come, and will do so in some derived way.
The research and innovation methods of companies is always interesting. Big companies who invest big bucks with little guarantee of a payoff are the most interesting. We rarely hear/see much about them though.
The EFF has a pretty good post on the move to make HTTPS closer to the new normal on the web. It’s hardly normal yet, but it’s improving. Already some of the bigger sites on the internet like Google, Facebook and Twitter are serving up HTTPS for almost everything. They do it for security as well as performance (SPDY).
In the longer run (few years from now) I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of web traffic starts moving over HTTPS. This will not be well accepted by many institutions including all governments, but it’s certainly better for people, especially those in nations who restrict speech and rights the most. We’ll also see a lot of legislation to only use encryption methods with known vulnerabilities and back doors. I wouldn’t even be surprised if some countries try and break the web by using alternate means of encryption similar to what South Korea did years ago. Obviously fighting this is going to prove important.
Carrying over the commute from last year (minus a few more WFH days) and taking an extremely educated guess at foot travel.
Commute: (6.85 mi [drive] + 47.4 mi [train] + 1.29 mi [subway]) x 2 = 111.08 mi daily x 245 days -------------- 27,214 mi Flying: 2,676 mi + 2,437 = 5,112 mi 2,948 mi + 2,518 = 5,466 mi 3,656 mi x 2 = 7,312 mi = 17,890 mi Cruise: 850 mi (estimate) = 850 mi Walk (via pedometer minus treadmill estimated) ~1,200 mi - 294 mi = = 906 mi Etc (misc, pretty random guess here): = ~3,500 mi -------------- Total: 50,360 mi Velocity for 2012: 50,360 / 8,760 = 5.75 mph Laps around Earth: 50,360 mi / 24,901.55 mi (earth circumference at equator) = 2.022 laps
That might be the first time I’ve ever broken 2 laps around the earth. It’s alarming to think that with relatively little travel I still did 2 laps around the earth. I’m always on the go.
Susan Crawford has a very interesting read on the high prices Americans pay for Internet access:
The FCC’s National Broadband Plan of March 2010 suggested that the minimum appropriate speed for every American household by 2020 should be 4 megabits per second for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads. These speeds are enough, the FCC said, to reliably send and receive email, download Web pages and use simple video conferencing. The commission also said it wanted to ensure that, by 2020, at least 100 million U.S. homes have affordable access to download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 50 Mbps.
Other countries have different goals. The South Korean government announced a plan to install 1 gigabit per second of symmetric fiber data access in every home by 2012. Hong Kong, Japan and the Netherlands are heading in the same direction. Australia plans to get 93 percent of homes and businesses connected to fiber. In Britain, a 300 Mbps fiber-to-the-home service will be offered on a wholesale basis.
That pretty much sums up the argument. Think about the innovation and jobs created by the Internet in the past 15 years. Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay and the entire ecosystem that supports them from hardware sales to shipping, to energy they purchase. This is all happening despite the efforts to stifle growth. 1-GigE symmetrical to the home would change how the world works. It will redefine the economy. Someone will get there, either Korea South or someone else. The opportunities will be vast.
Joël Franusic has an interesting theory that the reason microwaves have so many different UI’s is because patents make it difficult for them to share a similar interface. Like Joël, I’m not totally convinced, however I do suspect this is at least part of the problem. I also think it goes way beyond just microwaves, that particular appliance is just a great example. The end result is the products created, and the users who buy and use them loose out. If you skim through some of these patents, it seems pretty obvious and hardly innovative, even for the times.
Patents will be the downfall of technology and innovation in America if it’s not reformed.
Bruno Ferreira wrote a good article on how to improve the PC as a gaming platform. As someone who is a PC gamer, I couldn’t agree more with what he says. It’s extremely difficult to build a system for PC gaming, and very difficult to buy games since the metrics used are so difficult to work with.
In my opinion once every 12-18 months the platform should create a new standard based on the latest and greatest. It’s assigned a number, likely the year. A software profiler would then establish what standard your computer meets. Don’t buy any game that exceeds that number. A game can support “minimum” and “optimal” but would just put the number below vs. spelling out all the specs. Profiler could then advise on how to upgrade. For example if you upgrade you’re weak GPU and add more RAM you’d meet the requirements for 2013. Or just leave it at 2012 standards if that’s good enough for your needs.
There is now a assign NASA to do a feasibility study and conceptual design of the Gen1 USS Enterprise interplanetary spaceship I’m all for a Manhattan project style roadmap, it pushes to do great things and changes the world and the nation for the better. I’m not convinced we have the technology or will in the near future for the propulsion system. I also suspect it’s size would make it difficult secure enough resources, the same problem with the death star proposal.