In this old Motorola commercial they mention that, “…today there are only a few thousand cellular phones…”. Watch it and then quit whining about *any* limitations you think you have with today’s smartphone!
Today I drive a 2009 Toyota Prius (see my 2008 post here) and now I’m torn about what to buy next. Another Prius that gets 50MPG? A plugin hybrid Prius that gets 99MPGe? A Chevy Volt that, like my neighbor who has driven over 12,000 miles and still has 25% of his first tank of gasoline, uses electricity for most driving?
We know climate change is happening and that total oil production by the big producers has fallen 25% since 2004 while global energy demand is expected to double by 2050 (see 2013 World Energy Issue Monitor (PDF)), so the obvious choice is to buy the most efficient vehicle I can afford (and fit in to).
But it’s not so simple. Since CAFE standards are focusing car manufacturers on ensuring the average mileage of their fleets increase fairly dramatically to 2025, if prices fall and mileage rises isn’t the net impact of a larger vehicle justifiable?
I thought so until this past week when I was behind a woman driving a Lincoln Navigator at the gas pumps. She asked me what kind of mileage I got in the winter and what it cost to fill my tank. “42-44 mpg and a full tank is about $38,” I replied. “How about you?“
“Um…I asked because my husband and I measured it over the last few months and it’s supposed to get 14 in the city and 20 on the highway but we were getting about 8mpg driving around town and 12mpg when we drove up to Duluth to see my mother.” She went on, “…and it costs about $115 to fill the tank.”
Well, that’s what happens in the winter when we run our heaters, electric seats and it’s harder to efficiently burn fuel. What she and I DIDN’T talk about was an ugly truth I discovered later: That $115 would fill her 33.5 gallon tank and take her about 396 highway miles. My Prius (at the 44mpg highway amount) would go 462 miles for filling my 11 gallon fuel tank for only $38! A savings of $77 and for not using 22 gallons of gasoline.
I know, I know…it’s a helluva lot better to drive a Lincoln behemoth vs. a tiny little Prius. But what a waste of fuel—not to mention the extra carbon I’d be spewing in to the atmosphere—when I’m just hauling my own ass around. Do I really need something like that Lincoln Navigator? Nope. Regardless whether gas prices fall to $2/gallon since it’s just an inefficient waste of energy.
So now the questions: regular or plugin Prius or Chevy Volt?
In the CTD Podcast Archive I just cleaned up and posted you’ll find 47 podcast ‘shows’ that I recorded from May of 2005 until March of 2007. Yes, I still podcast but do it now over at Minnov8.com and, as of this writing, we’ve done 212 shows since June of 2008.
One of the reasons for this archive is that I’m a family historian and I love storytelling. The more I’ve learned about my ancestry in the late 1700s to early 1900s, the greater my desire is to have heard any of them tell me stories about what was on their mind. Though my podcasts vary greatly and aren’t always stories, one can still get a good sense of what was on my mind while I was recording them.
Hope you enjoy these and let me know if you think I should start podcasting again!
Don’t know how I missed this in January but my aunt Marlys just sent a bunch of us an email with a link to it inside. It’s an NBC Rock Center segment called iDoctor and it’s about the healthcare revolution being enabled because most of us are carrying around incredibly powerful computers called a “smartphone,” a device that can send data directly to our doctors.
If you’re interested, here are some links you’ll like to view:
My dad died less than a month ago (here is our tribute site to dad) and my sisters and I have been going through the house and his belongings. Besides removing anything of value and cleaning the place out, we have a relative staying there who also has uncovered some cool stuff like this old newspaper in a crawl space which I saw and went through yesterday. Dated Friday, April 2, 1982, it was the last of the Minneapolis Star evening editions which was then merged in to the morning paper to make today’s Minneapolis StarTribune.
Paging through this yellowed rag brought back a lot of memories of the role this newspaper played in our lives and yet it was another reminder of how the old makes way for the new. People, and information delivery methods, all outlive our usefulness as direct economic contributors. The history of mass media shows how the first “high circulation” newspaper was the London Times in the early 1800s, so the major daily newspaper is but a blip in the timeline of humanity.
Thankfully, as evidenced by how wonderful it was for my dad to be around for twenty five years after he retired at 62 years of age, dad’s influence and ‘usefulness’ to everyone around him continued on.
But back to newspapers. A lot has been written about the demise of ‘traditional’ media like TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. Most of us are aware that things are downtrending, some magazines have gone to digital only, and clearly newspapers are struggling.
My 18 year old son, a guy born in 1994, just showed his Mom and I this video from 1994. If you don’t think we’ve come a looooong way in technology, just watch this:
As someone with a high degree of interest in quantum physics—as a lay person and certainly not as a scientist—I’ve always been fascinated by the double slit experiment (video) and how matter and energy can display characteristics of both waves and particles in what is known as the wave–particle duality.
Is light a bunch of particles like we’ve come to believe (think “photons”)? Or is light a frequency wave (think the “electromagnetic spectrum“)?
I came across the video below that demonstrates the properties of light, using the double slit experiment, with “real” people on the street. Usually these videos belittle people and their lack of science knowledge, but this one was done in the spirit of fun, being informative, and truly showing how light behaves. (via HighT3ch)
Though I use Google Chrome all-day, every-day…I radically minimize the use of plugins and extensions. Why? Because it’s like going to the hardware store to get a new housekey made and having to agree in writing that, “You agree the locksmith can make a duplicate key and use it whenever he/she cares to do so.“
The thing is, as I described in my September 2011 post, “Don’t Just “Allow” Permissions for Cloud Apps,” there are just too many opportunities for rogue infiltration of my computers if I load ones that are inherently insecure (because I’d have to grant access to all my tabs, web history and more). I just don’t agree willy-nilly to terms and conditions and actually think-through what sorts of potential insecurities and “holes” I’m opening myself up to if I choose to use an extension or plugin.
Google makes it clear that you have to be very, very careful when you load Google Chrome extensions. I’m often blown away when I see how many developers, many of whom are outside the U.S., deliver NPAPI extensions. Google says on that page that developers should strongly consider these security considerations with NPAPI:
Including an NPAPI plugin in your extension is dangerous because plugins have unrestricted access to the local machine. If your plugin contains a vulnerability, an attacker might be able to exploit that vulnerability to install malicious software on the user’s machine. Instead, avoid including an NPAPI plugin whenever possible.
Though Google is working on an experimental new plugin/extension API called “Pepper,” today I decided (in advance of a client session) to experiment with Google Remote Desktop. It works well, my client uses Chrome, but when I went to implement the extension on my main machine I encountered this:
Wait a second. What is that last sentence, “Perform these operations when I’m not using the application” I’m agreeing to if I install it?
Figuring that it would be fast to discover more detail behind that bullet point and get comfortable I wasn’t opening myself (and our entire office network) to who-knows-what, I did a Google search on that phrase. Basically I found nothing. Then I went to the Google Chromium project (the project behind Chrome the ChromeOS, etc.) and looked at their “security brag sheet.” Again, nothing.
Does this mean that, if my computer and Chrome are running and I’m not around, that Google (or whomever they grant access to) can view any of my computer’s desktops? Security neophytes would think, “Come on…your locksmith analogy is a straw man argument and Google would never allow that sort of intrusiveness.” Maybe, but if CISPA passes (PDF), like I posted about yesterday, Google won’t have a choice in opening up desktops to intelligence and policing agencies (though, in Google’s defense, they are rattling their sabers).
I clicked “No thanks” to using Google Remote Desktop until Google reveals—and their description is verified by security specialists—that Google Remote Desktop isn’t a backdoor. You should too until Google makes it crystal clear what we’re signing up for when we install their, and third-party, extensions.
Would it be OK for the government to collect all of your private data in one place, share it between agencies, enable companies to send anything “suspicious” to our intelligence agencies, all in the name of keeping us “safe?” What if your Facebook friends and photos you post were collected and sent to the government by Facebook? What if your internet provider (e.g., Comcast, Time Warner) or mobile provider (e.g., AT&T, Verizon) intercepted and sent your check-ins, photos posted, emails sent, websites visited and all your digital traffic to a government intelligence agency?
It’s happening now and a bill, CISPA, will only make it easier.
CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives. It’s the contentious bill that would provide a poorly-defined “cybersecurity” exception to existing privacy law. CISPA offers broad immunities to companies who choose to share data with government agencies — including the private communications of users — in the name of cybersecurity. It also creates avenues for companies to share data with any federal agencies, including military intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency.
Andrew Couts at Digital Trends — a refreshingly pragmatic voice in technology — pointed out in this article All You Need to Know about Washington’s Big Cybersecurity Push that this CISPA bill isn’t horrible, just far too incomplete.
The problem with CISPA—and many of these Washington knee-jerk “homeland security” legislative reactions—is that the legislation itself has far too many holes in it, the obvious potential for abuse exists with the usual lack of strong oversight, and companies have been granted immunity (just like AT&T was in the ongoing NSA Warrantless Wiretapping fiasco) so there are no checks-and-balances on them either.
As an aside, if you don’t know about the NSA $2 billion plus data center nearing completion you should. Read this Wired article from last April and it will make you stop-and-think about what the government might do with all the data they’ll increasingly have access to if CISPA passes as-is: The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say). It always amazes me that the gun-nuts out there are SO concerned about their 2nd amendment rights being taken away but are either clueless, too stupid, or not bothered to become aware of the fundamental Constitutional rights U.S. citizens have already lost…and continue to lose bit-by-bit.
Couts said this in his article:
Like Obama’s cybersecurity order, CISPA’s primary aim is to increase the sharing of cyber threat information (or CTI, as the cool kids call it). Unlike Obama’s order, however, CISPA allows the sharing of information in both directions – from government to business, and vice versa. Sharing is not required by the law, but it is allowed.
CISPA also provides broad legal immunity to companies that collect and share CTI with the federal government, as long as they do so “in good faith” – which might mean businesses can’t be sued or charged with crimes for collecting and sharing CTI under CISPA. Furthermore, CISPA shields the shared CTI from transparency mechanisms, like the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Read the full text of CISPA here: PDF.
HOW TO OPPOSE CISPA (it’s really easy and fast to do so): That’s why I oppose this legislation. Since I’m a member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) I was particularly pleased that they made it extremely simple and fast to send a letter to your congressional representatives. You can do so here and it will take 2-5 minutes. [Read more...]
Comic-Con, the San Diego event that happens each summer, was a delight to take my 18 year old son Alex to last year. Buying the tickets in advance was a huge disappointment (we didn’t get the preview night nor Saturday as they were sold out) but we still had a great time.
I’m unable to get in to buy tickets and he’s still waiting. The reason I couldn’t get tickets was not solely because of demand, but more because the EPIC registration Comic-Con uses failed and it is not designed to scale.
The exact second our computers ticked over to 9am PST (11am CST here in Minnesota) my son and I clicked the button to register. Six minutes later I received an ASP.NET failure screen and my son’s browser is still trying to load the registration page, well over an hour later (and we’re not holding out hope he’ll get in at this point).
How long did it take for 2013 Comic Con International to sell out? According to some reports, it took all of six minutes. According to posts on both Facebook and Twitter, many people who tried clicking on the link right when tickets went on sale didn’t even make it into the waiting room. Reports of the page not loading, error messages, and other issues were frequent.
As someone who works with serious I.T., software and web app experts, I continue to be stunned by how incredibly weak the EPIC registration system is and how easily it could be improved. As I mentioned, my browser received a server failure screen 6 minutes after I clicked and, after refreshing, I instantly received the “waiting room” page you see below (click for larger view):
ASP.NET is Microsoft’s web application framework and, out of the HUNDREDS of serious developers I know—especially those who have created web apps that can scale to MILLIONS of concurrent users—think that ASP.NET is a joke and would NEVER use it for anything but low-level, minimal use corporate web applications.
A smart registration company would:
- Have a scalable solution that would let everyone get to a lightweight page with a queue-counter on it, would automatically queue everyone up, and then would “let them in” to the registration system as the “slots” opened up. All of us would know the moment we landed on the “counter page” whether or not we had a chance of getting in or not rather than simply FAIL with a server crash
- Anticipate demand by using an edge serving company like Akamai and their web application accelerator.
Unfortunately Comic-Con is a non-profit who is using a dumb registration company, EPIC, and doing a quick search on Twitter shows there are hundreds and hundreds of disappointed people like my son and I. I’m stunned that the Twitter account, @Comic_Con, is saying nothing. Even THAT is a fail since they should say SOMETHING to their potential attendees. Get your shit together Comic-Con.