Red Echo

March 27, 2015

Antarctic heat wave

63.5°F in Antarctica: Possible Continental Record

The warmest temperature ever recorded on the continent of Antarctica may have occurred on Tuesday, March 24, 2015, when the mercury shot up to 63.5°F (17.5°C) at Argentina’s Esperanza Base on the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. According to weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera, the previous hottest temperature recorded in Antarctica was 63.3°F (17.4°C) set just one day previously at Argentina’s Marambio Base, on a small islet just off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Prior to this week’s remarkable heat wave, the hottest known temperature in Antarctica was the 62.8°F (17.1°C) recorded at Esperanza Base on April 24, 1961.

Why is the “Internet of Things” supposed to be a good idea?

It was easy to understand why the Internet was awesome, right from the beginning, because you could use it for something really useful: communicating with other people. This is something every human being wants to do.

I still don’t understand how this internet of things is going to provide a service that human beings actually want. I can see why the economics of chip manufacture have made it possible to add a microcontroller to every electronic device, and a network interface to every microcontroller, but then what? Why would we want to do that?

March 24, 2015

Fixing a Chromebook Pixel

How to turn the Chromebook Pixel into a proper developer laptop and get rid of that crazy control-key-on-boot nonsense normally required if you want to run linux on a chromebook.

March 10, 2015

Self-driving cars: not for me, please

My feelings about the so-far-still-pretty-much-speculative self-driving car future range from “meh” to “please stop already”, which is odd for such a blatantly sexy application of robotics. Aside from the obvious privacy/tracking problems, which are increasingly moot given the proliferation of license plate scanners and toll pass sensors, I think the real problem is that it just sounds boring. If I’m driving, at least I have something to do with my brain. Handing the controls over to a robot leaves nothing but the tedium of sitting around waiting to arrive.

I can imagine self-driving cars as a replacement for human drivers in a service like Lyft or Uber much more easily than I can imagine individuals purchasing their own. I use Lyft a fair amount, actually – though I usually chat with the driver, and getting acquainted with somebody new is a nice way to circumvent boredom. Riding alone in a silent, empty car with nothing to do sounds… much less pleasant. It’d still be nicer than taking the bus, which is neither silent nor empty nor comfortable nor rapid, and offers little in the way of stimulation for a hungry brain.

At least there will always be motorcycles.

March 8, 2015

I want one of these for my birthday

You are all hereby notified that this is simultaneously adorable and awesome and I want one. Or maybe two.