Red Echo

February 18, 2013

Went up to Crystal today with Eric S. The snow wasn’t fresh but we had a good time anyway. The weather was strange – the sky was totally overcast, but the clouds floated above the level of the mountains, so you could see clearly across ridge after ridge. The light was even but not bright so it was unusually easy to see the volume of space and peak – the ridges didn’t just foreshorten down on themselves like they usually do when it’s bright. It would have made a good picture if I’d brought a camera… but who brings a camera skiing?

I skied hard and took advantage of the wide-open slopes – fast, fast, fast, skis biting into the snow… Oh, it’s fun. I could go on but you know what I mean if you’ve tried it, and I don’t have the energy tonight to really dig in and explain what it’s all about if you haven’t. I just feel tired in that really good way, my knees are sore, my cheeks are still warm, and I’ll sleep well tonight.

February 15, 2013

Ubuntu Phone edition available next week

From ZDNet, good news about the open-source phone OS, including confirmation that it will run on my Galaxy Nexus:

Six weeks after Canonical first revealed that they were throwing their Ubuntu Linux hat into the smartphone ring, the company announced that on February 21, they’ll be releasing the Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu. According to Canonical, “Images and open source code for the Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu will be published on Thursday 21st February, supporting the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 smartphones.”

People who are less concerned about the openness of source code may be excited by the observation that this is the first time it will be possible to develop a single app which will run on either a phone or a PC. Bits will be downloadable here.

February 14, 2013

Google Play store shares private info with app developers

EVERY time you purchase an app on Google Play, your name, address and email is passed on to the developer:

The “flaw” – which appears to be by design – was discovered by Sydney app developer, Dan Nolan who told that he was uncomfortable being the custodian of this information and that there was no reason for any developer to have this information at their finger tips.

“I can’t see any way to opt out of providing that information and it seems to be a feature of the Google checkout process. I don’t know whether it applies to free apps, but there are hundreds of thousands of apps that are available for pay on the play store and there are millions of people who buy Android apps out there, I’d say easily millions or tens of millions of people.”
“It’s active in every market that Google accepts payment for apps. That’s a lot of people having their personal information handed over without them knowing.”

Right, well, now I feel like my paranoid decision never to sign up for Google Play was justified. The article’s a bit sensationalistic – I don’t think anyone’s really going to get bank account details out of this – but quietly giving away someone’s contact info is not cool regardless.

February 13, 2013

February 12, 2013

Here is a PDF with information about the Tesla Roadster’s log system. It looks like they don’t record a continuous GPS trace, but it’s a pretty detailed record and not fully documented.

February 11, 2013

I like the idea of the electric car, and I’ve generally been impressed with the style and quality commitment I see in Tesla; friends who drive Tesla cars have been very happy with them. The New York Times posted an article today about aTesla test drive which didn’t go so well, and Elon Musk, head of Tesla, used Twitter to post an allegation that the author was not being totally honest about his experience:

NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour.

Wait a minute. Forget the question of battery performance in cold weather; that’s old news. Forget the question of whether the journalist lied – disappointing if true, but we’re not exactly talking Judith Miller-level malfeasance here. No, what really concerns me is this: what the hell are “vehicle logs”? Obviously the Tesla cars are deeply dependent on computers: are those computers infested with spyware? How much does Tesla know about what the car was doing? Is this custom spyware for demo models only or is this something they can enable for every car? Do these cars record GPS traces or something? I’m suddenly worried that the Tesla future is actually a grim police state dystopia, where anyone who gains physical access to your car can reconstruct your movements from its computer’s memory.

Clise Mansion

February 10, 2013

A new observation technique has revealed small rocky planets around many red dwarf stars, which are the most plentiful type of star in the galaxy. The article calls them “earth-like” but it’s not clear whether this just means that they are small and rocky or whether it further implies that they are located in the Goldilocks zone. The nearest is practically next door: only 13 light-years away.

February 4, 2013

We’ve been working out of a temporary office for the last few months while the Bellevue Place contractors build out the permanent office upstairs. We moved in last Friday and today everyone is busy running power and network cables and setting up their desks. There’s a guy with a paintbrush finishing up some trim work, there are boxes all over the floor, and nobody has pulled the protective plastic film off the fancy stainless-steel wall panels yet…

It’s an open-plan office, and all the developers sit in one long room with south-facing windows. We picked out where we wanted to sit today, and I grabbed a desk with a westward view: I may have to spend my days in Bellevue now, but I can look up any time and see the Space Needle peeking over the top of Capitol Hill. The window frames my home neighborhood almost perfectly.

Now it’s time to figure out how the new coffee maker works.