Recently in Geekdom Category

Fake news again - Global Warming

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Don't these "reporters" do their homework? A two-fer:

First - from the UK Independent:

First ship crosses Arctic in winter without an icebreaker as global warming causes ice sheets to melt
A ship has made a winter crossing of the Arctic without an icebreaker for the first time as global warming causes the region’s ice sheets to melt.

The tanker, containing liquefied natural gas, is the first commercial vessel to make such a crossing alone during the winter months.

And a bit more - the company and the ship in question:

Belonging to the shipping company Teekay, the ship Eduard Toll made its way from South Korea to the Sabetta terminal in northern Russia in December.

Second - from Teekay itself:

Eduard Toll is the fourth of 15 Arc7 LNG carriers being built for the Yamal LNG project and Teekay’s first of six LNG Carrier Newbuildings contracted to service the project.

Recently, the vessel made history as it underwent the latest seasonal independent passage by a merchant ship on the Northern Sea Route.

A fitting legacy for its namesake: Baron Eduard Toll, a Russian geologist and explorer who dedicated his life to the discovery of the Arctic – and pioneered Russian Polar expedition.

The vessel was technically accepted in Korea at the beginning of December 2017 after successfully completing sea trials and immediately thereafter departed for her journey to Northern Russia.

Over the past month, she has transited via the Northern Sea Route, breaking ice 1.8 metres thick at speeds of five knots astern – and arrived at the Sabetta terminal ahead of schedule.

This marked a major milestone for shipping in the arctic as this was the first time a shipping vessel made independent passage, without the support of an ice breaker, during this time of year.

The ship did not need an icebreaker escort because of global warming, the Eduard Toll did not need an icebreaker escort because the ship itself is an icebreaker. Teekay figured it would be cheaper in the long run to build an LNG transport ship that was ice certified - saves the cost of the second ship and crew.

"Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent" was the Independent's author and he should be ashamed of himself - what a moron.


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Interesting move in video photography

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From Nikkei Asian Review:

Foxconn eyes digital film sector as smartphone demand weakens
Major iPhone assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn Technology Group, said on Sunday that it plans to team up with premium camera maker RED Digital Cinema to make professional-quality and affordable film cameras for the general public, while expanding into the manufacture of semiconductors for displays and cameras.

Those moves come as the Taiwanese company is building facilities to make large-scale display panels in the U.S. and China. It is seeking new revenue sources to compensate for weakening smartphone demand. It wants to reduce its business dependence on Apple, which accounts for more than 50% of its sales. Foxconn assembles iPhone mobile phones and MacBook computers among other products for Apple, but profit margins are razor thin. The manufacture of more electronics equipment and components could improve the company's earnings.

"We will make cameras that will shoot professional-quality films in 8K resolution but at only a third of current prices and a third of current camera sizes," Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou told reporters in Taipei following the company's annual employee party before the Chinese New Year. 8K ultra-high definition resolution has become the benchmark standard for digital television and cinematography.

Emphisis mine - Ho. Li. Crap. And this will only foster more competition from other vendors driving the prices down even further. Fun time to be alive! A tricked out RED 8K is around $30K - to have the same image quality in a $10K camera will be a gamechanger. Not something that most people will own but cheap enough to rent for a week or two for a given project.

Paper Jams

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When I was living in Seattle, I owned a computer store for 12 years and over the last six, it morphed into a copy and print business. People were buying computers online and I could not compete on price so I moved over to graphic arts and taught myself how to run a printing press (I had two). My Mom's family had a large paper business in Pennsylvania so I was exposed to printing from a very early age and always liked it. Had a lot of fun running the business but the profit margins simply were not there. I got a killer job offer at Microsoft so I sold the business and moved on.

For people interested in copy machines and graphic arts and paper, Joshua Rothman has a delightful article on Paper Jams at The New Yorker:

Why Paper Jams Persist
Building 111 on the Xerox engineering campus, near Rochester, New York, is vast and labyrinthine. On the social-media site Foursquare, one visitor writes that it’s “like Hotel California.” Conference Room C, near the southwest corner, is small and dingy; it contains a few banged-up whiteboards and a table. On a frigid winter afternoon, a group of engineers gathered there, drawing the shades against the late-day sun. They wanted to see more clearly the screen at the front of the room, on which a computer model of a paper jam was projected.

The jam had occurred in Asia, where the owners of a Xerox-manufactured printing press were trying to print a book. The paper they had fed into the press was unusually thin and light, of the sort found in a phone book or a Bible. This had not gone well. Midway through the printing process, the paper was supposed to cross a gap; flung from the top of a rotating belt, it needed to soar through space until it could be sucked upward by a vacuum pump onto another belt, which was positioned upside down. Unfortunately, the press was in a hot and humid place, and the paper, normally lissome, had become listless. At the apex of its trajectory, at the moment when it was supposed to connect with the conveyor belt, its back corners drooped. They dragged on the platform below, and, like a trapeze flier missing a catch, the paper sank downward. As more sheets rushed into the same space, they created a pile of loops and curlicues—what the jam engineers called a “flower arrangement.”

A fun read. The article references this scene from Mike Judge’s 1999 film “Office Space”

Classic - we have all been there...

Cool software

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Been wanting to record some things for YouTube and was looking for a decent webcam. I have several Nikon cameras and software to do still photos but nothing for video. Just ran into SparkoCam Virtual Webcam

SparkoCam is a webcam and video effects software for broadcasting and applying live webcam effects to your video chats and recordings.

    • Use Canon / Nikon DSLR camera as a regular webcam
    • Enhance USB webcam video by adding cool webcam effects and graphics to your live video chats and video recordings
    • Split your single webcam and use it simultaneously in several applications

You can do green-screen and also import your desktop (or portion thereof) into the video feed so if I was demonstrating software, I could capture the screen as I worked with it.

Decently priced at $70 for one family of camera (Nikon -OR- Canon) and free upgrades for life. Free download but your video is watermarked.

Now this is cool - filtering water

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Potential to be a game-changer - from Phys Org:

Researchers discover efficient and sustainable way to filter salt and metal ions from water
With two billion people worldwide lacking access to clean and safe drinking water, joint research by Monash University, CSIRO and the University of Texas at Austin published today in Sciences Advances may offer a breakthrough new solution.

It all comes down to metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), an amazing next generation material that have the largest internal surface area of any known substance. The sponge like crystals can be used to capture, store and release chemical compounds. In this case, the salt and ions in sea water.

Dr Huacheng Zhang, Professor Huanting Wang and Associate Professor Zhe Liu and their team in the Faculty of Engineering at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, in collaboration with Dr Anita Hill of CSIRO and Professor Benny Freeman of the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, have recently discovered that MOF membranes can mimic the filtering function, or 'ion selectivity', of organic cell membranes.

With further development, these membranes have significant potential to perform the dual functions of removing salts from seawater and separating metal ions in a highly efficient and cost effective manner, offering a revolutionary new technological approach for the water and mining industries.

I hope this technology is made cheaply - lots of people around the world would love to have a cheap desalinization plant.

Heh - Bitcoins in the news

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Bitcoins are mined using a hashing algorithm - you can either buy a dedicated machine for Bitcoin mining or you can use your personal computer. Seems that some folks in Russia grabbed a bit more than they should have - from the Beeb:

Russian nuclear scientists arrested for 'Bitcoin mining plot'
Russian security officers have arrested several scientists working at a top-secret Russian nuclear warhead facility for allegedly mining crypto-currencies.

The suspects had tried to use one of Russia's most powerful supercomputers to mine Bitcoins, media reports say.

The Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov, western Russia, is a restricted area.

The centre's press service said: "There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining."

The supercomputer was not supposed to be connected to the internet - to prevent intrusion - and once the scientists attempted to do so, the nuclear centre's security department was alerted. They were handed over to the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Russian news service Mash says.

Oops - that would have been awfully tempting. Connecting it to the internet was their downfall.

In honor of the SpaceX launch

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From Chris at A Large Regular:


Ground control to Major Tom...

Congratulations to SpaceX


Major launch this morning - from Yahoo/AFP:

SpaceX launches world's most powerful rocket toward Mars
The world's most powerful rocket, SpaceX's Falcon Heavy, blasted off Tuesday on its highly anticipated maiden test flight, carrying CEO Elon Musk's cherry red Tesla roadster to an orbit near Mars.

Screams and cheers erupted at Cape Canaveral, Florida as the massive rocket fired its 27 engines and rumbled into the blue sky over the same NASA launchpad that served as a base for the US missions to Moon four decades ago.

"Wow, did you guys see that? That was awesome," said SpaceX commentator Lauren Lyons as applause thundered through mission control.

Loaded with Musk's red Tesla and a mannequin in a spacesuit, the monster rocket's test voyage has captured the world's imagination.

About two minutes into the flight, the two side boosters peeled away and made their way back toward Earth for an upright landing.

Both rockets landed side by side in unison on launchpads, live video images showed.

Reusable boosters - I love it. I also love their payload.

Superbowl Sound

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Great article on how the half-time act's sound and staging are done. Quite the Herculean act as all of the equipment has to come through the tunnel and the quality of sound has to be a lot better than the stadium's built-in system can provide.
From The Verge:

Patrick Baltzell has been the sound engineer for most of America’s most-watched events in the past few decades. He’s sitting alone in the convention halls of NAMM, a trade show for the music making industry. Though I instantly recognize his signature thin frame and curls of white hair, no one looks as Baltzell stands to greet me with unbridled enthusiasm. It’s likely everyone in this room has no idea who he is. But Baltzell was not only in charge of the audio for the past 19 Super Bowls (excluding this year’s) — he also currently designs and mixes sound for the Grammys, Oscars, and presidential inaugurations.

One hundred-eighty countries will be watching this Sunday’s Super Bowl 52 between the Eagles and the Patriots. And, while everyone will be cheering on the players, the halftime performer, and the person who sings the national anthem, we often forget there is someone, unseen, who has spent months making sure you can hear every word and note. Baltzell talks with The Verge to give an insider’s look at how to make sure everything is heard without a hitch during one of the country’s most-anticipated broadcasts.

I would love to find out about how the video is edited and switched - that has to be another task of epic proportions.

Mary Lee Berners-Lee passed away last November - if that name is somewhat familiar, it is her son Sir Tim who invented the whole concept of the world wide web. Turns out she was quite the computer person as well - from The Guardian:

Mary Lee Berners-Lee obituary
The computer scientist Mary Lee Berners-Lee, who has died aged 93, was on the programming team for the computer that in 1951 became the first in the world to be sold commercially: the Ferranti Mark I. She led a successful campaign at Ferranti for equal pay for male and female programmers, almost two decades before the Equal Pay Act came into force. As a young mother in the mid-1950s she set up on her own as a home-based software consultant, making her one of the world’s first freelance programmers.

Modest about her own pioneering achievements, she is on record (in an interview with computer historian Janet Abbate) as saying that her biggest contribution was to be “the grandmother of the web”. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee (now Sir Tim), the eldest of her four children, proposed a system to access and exchange documents across the internet, and soon afterwards built the first web server, website and browser.

Tim recalled that his mother had a strong sense of the potential of computers right from the start. “It was obvious to us growing up how incredibly exciting it was,” he said, “not just that you had a new device, but the sense that what you could do was limited only by your imagination.”

Be sure to read the whole thing - she led quite the life.

I thought their motto was Don't be evil? Oh. Wait. They dropped it. Now they personify evil. From the The Daily Caller:

Google Has An Actual Secret Speech Police
More than 100 nongovernment organizations (NGOs) and government agencies around the world help police YouTube for extremist content, ranging from so-called hate speech to terrorist recruiting videos.

All of them have confidentiality agreements barring Google, YouTube’s parent company, from revealing their participation to the public, a Google representative told The Daily Caller on Thursday.

A handful of groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and No Hate Speech, a European organization focused on combatting intolerance, have chosen to go public with their participation in the program, but the vast majority have stayed hidden behind the confidentiality agreements. Most groups in the program don’t want to be publicly associated with it, according to the Google spokesperson, who spoke only on background.

YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” program goes back to 2012, but the program has exploded in size in recent years amid a Google push to increase regulation of the content on its platforms, which followed pressure from advertisers. Fifty of the 113 program members joined in 2017 as YouTube stepped up its content policing, YouTube public policy director Juniper Downs told a Senate committee on Wednesday.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Video software

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Been looking at video recording software - something that can capture input from a computer screen or webcam as well as import and export various file formats. Just ran into OBS Studio

Looks pretty comprehensive and it runs on Windows, iOS and Linux. It can be extended through the use of scripts which is a real boon.

This looks like way too much fun

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The Slo Mo guys run a YouTube channel where they video objects in very slow motion. YouTube funded them to spend a couple weeks in Los Angeles (they are from England) and built them a set and hired a support crew. Here is the trailer for the show - looks like a lot of fun:

Here is their YouTube channel.

Very clever idea - a new unit of time

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Another unit of time? This one is specific to video. From The Verge:

Facebook announces that it has invented a new unit of time
Facebook launched a new product today: Flicks, a new unit of time. Yes, that’s right. A unit of time, like seconds or minutes or hours. After all, why limit asserting your corporate dominance to social connections, the consumption of the news cycle, and advertising on the internet, when you can define the very flow of time itself?

According the the GitHub page documenting Flicks, a Flick is “the smallest time unit which is LARGER than a nanosecond,” defined as 1/705,600,000 of a second. (For comparison, a nanosecond is 1/1,000,000,000 of a second, making a Flick roughly 1.41723356 nanoseconds long.)

Now, you may be sitting there wondering what was wrong with regular seconds that Facebook had to go and invent its own unit, especially since the second is one of the few units that is universal across SI and imperial units. The name itself is a portmanteau of the phase “frame-tick,” which is also why you might want to use them. Flicks are designed to help measure individual frame duration for video frame rates. So whether your video is 24hz, 25hz, 30hz, 48hz, 50hz, 60hz, 90hz, 100hz, or 120hz, you’ll be able to use Flicks to ensure that everything is in sync while still using whole integers (instead of decimals).

Programmers already use built in tools in C++ to manage these sorts of exact frame syncing, especially when it comes to designing visual effects in CGI, but the most exact timing possible in C++ is nanoseconds, which doesn’t divide evenly into most frame rates. The idea to create a new unit of time to solve this problem dates back to last year, when developer Christopher Horvath posted about it on Facebook. I asked The Verge video team if they thought this could actually be useful, and was told that it could be in theory, but that things are up in the air until they can see it in practice.

Great idea - should simplify all sorts of editing and CGI. It can be found at GitHub - it installs as a C++ header file.

Fun mashup:

Great website for Netflix

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Check out Flixable

You can sort by Genre, IMDB rating and release year. Movies and TV Shows

Clever idea - Crashtag

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Very clever idea if you are traveling or have a medical condition and want an alternative to the traditional Medic Alert bracelet.

Check out Crashtag:

Be Somebody (especially in the E.R.)
Titanium Crashtag® and Crashtag® Mini

    • Clearly holds your emergency information
    • Features iridescent laser-embedded colors in dozens of great styles
    • Comes with or without a built-in bartender-grade opener
    • Links to more of your info with a personal QR code
    • And at $29.90, it just may save your bacon.

Here is what it looks like - they use a laser to etch the titanium. Very good looking. NKDA stands for No Known Drug Allergy. The QR code links to the Crashtag website - each customer has a personal page they can upload things to.


There is another company - Road iD - that makes a very similar product. Either one would be an awesome thing to get.

You know it - this is the dam whose spillway failed during last winter's heavy rains and forced the evacuation of 180,000 people. Turns out the engineering was not good. From Next Big Future courtesy of Wirecutter:

Failed Oroville Dam Spillway designed by inexperienced grad student in the 1960s
California’s Department of Water Resources was blasted in an independent report for having a culture of complacency and incompetence that contributed to last year’s near-disaster at Oroville Dam.

The full 584 page independent forensic team report is here.

The agency’s largest water storage site and the nation’s tallest dam at Lake Oroville fell into disrepair. In February, pounding rain and large water releases caused the reservoir’s spillway to collapse. A back-up spillway also failed. Fears that water would pour uncontrollably downstream prompted the evacuation of 180,000 people.

The independent panel of safety experts said the dam was badly built from the start in the 1960s. The principal designer of the spillway told the dam-safety team that he had just completed post-graduate work at the time he worked on the Oroville project decades ago, had had no previous engineering employment beyond two summer stints, and had never designed a spillway before.

Only in California. All their money goes to free stuff for the proles and nothing to developing or maintaining the infrastructure because a better highway doesn't buy you the votes to keep you in power.

Welding nerd-vana

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Been watching a lot of welding videos on YouTube - looking to improve my TIG welding skills.

Just found out that my favorite metals store has their own YouTube channel. Check out the website for King Architectural Metals and their YouTube channel.

Excellent people to deal with - great prices and a lot of information.

A bit of excitement in Hawaii

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Someone pushed the wrong button - from Hawaii News Now:

'Terrifying': False ballistic missile threat sends Hawaii into panic
A false ballistic missile threat alert was sent to all Hawaii cell phones on Saturday morning, sending the state into a panic for more than 30 minutes until emergency officials confirmed the message was a mistake.

While city and military officials took to social media within 15 minutes to quell fears and say the message was sent in error, it took state emergency management — which sent out the message in the first place — nearly 40 minutes to send out a "false alarm" alert to cell phones using the same mechanism that distributed the emergency warning in the first place.

"It's totally unacceptable," said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii. "There was anxiety across the state and it was terrifying. There was a lot of unnecessary pain and anxiety. It's important to have accountability at the state level and the emergency management level in terms of what exactly what went wrong."

Gov. David Ige and head of Hawaii's Emergency Management agency, Vern Miyagi, told Hawaii News Now that the false alert was the result of human error — and boiled down to someone pushing the wrong button.

I look at this from a different perspective - the system worked well. They have "the button" and it was effective in getting the warning out. What would happen if there had been a major earthquake or other event - tsunamis are a part of Hawaiian life.

From CNBC:

Why one small Washington town has seen so many bitcoin miners move in
A small town three hours east of Seattle is turning into the epicenter of bitcoin mining in the United States.

Wenatchee, Washington is home to a dozen of the largest bitcoin and cryptocurrency miners in the country. And the head of the local power utility, Steve Wright, says another 75 have inquired about coming here since the price of bitcoin surged in December.

"We've come from just a few people out there who have been knocking on the door all of a sudden to people who are banging on the door pretty loudly," Wright said.

Malachi Salcido is one of the area's earliest miners. He runs 3 mining operations in the area, producing 5 to 7 bitcoins per day.

Salcido uses 7.5 megawatts of power — enough to power 11,000 homes. He wants to produce 50 bitcoins per day by July, which would require a whopping 42 megawatts of power.

That's why he's in Wenatchee: Power is extremely cheap — between 2 to 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

The reason? A series of dams on the Columbia River provide abundant hydroelectric power.

But it's not just the cheap power. Cooler temperatures help keep the servers at the right temperature. And for a small town Wenatchee has great internet capacity.

Confluence of cheap power, cool weather and fantastic internet bandwidth. Nice place to live if you wanted to go rural and away from the ocean.

Lawsuits at the Goolag

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From Tech Crunch:

James Damore just filed a class action lawsuit against Google, saying it discriminates against white male conservatives
James Damore, a former Google engineer who was fired in August after posting a memo to an internal Google message board arguing that women may not be equally represented in tech because they are biologically less capable of engineering, has filed a class action lawsuit against the company in Santa Clara Superior Court in Northern California.

His claims: that Google unfairly discriminates against white men whose political views are unpopular with its executives.

Damore is joined in the 161-page suit by another former Google engineer named David Gudeman, who spent three years with Google working on a query engine. According to Gudeman’s LinkedIn profile, he left the company in December 2016 and has been self-employed since.

The lawsuit, filed by Dhillon Law Group, says it aims to represent all employees of Google who’ve been discriminated against due to their “perceived conservative political views by Google,” due to “their male gender by Google” and “due to their Caucasian race by Google.”

This is what the late great Andrew Breitbart would call punching back twice as hard. Good - make them think. Rattle their own cages. If you want to live in an echo chamber of your own making, join a church or attend a college. Don't bring your smarmy PC attitudes into the workplace.

I need to do this

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From Eat Liver:


Sticking with your core competency

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Too many companies try to diversify too much. Best to stick with what you do well - GoPro in this case. From TechCrunch:

GoPro cuts 200-300 jobs, largely impacting its drone division
GoPro is in the process of laying off around 200-300 employees this week, TechCrunch has learned from sources close to the company. The hits to the company were largely concentrated in its aerial division, the segment of the company responsible for its Karma drone.

GoPro has the action camera market sewn up (except for other companies like Yi - very happy with my Yi). DJI owns the drone market (but my Yuneec Typhoon is superior in many ways). They are learning this lesson about core competencies.

From United Press International:

Tinted glasses may help device-users get a better night of sleep
For the tech-obsessed who use their smartphones, laptops and tablets right before bedtime, a small new study suggests that inexpensive amber-tinted glasses might guarantee sound slumber.

The glasses block the blue-wavelength light emitted from many hi-tech devices. That light suppresses the brain's production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep and wake cycles.

But in the study, researchers found that adults diagnosed with insomnia got about 30 minutes more sleep when wearing wrap-around amber lenses for two hours before bedtime.

"We expect that blue-light exposure before bedtime might contribute to sleep difficulties or exacerbate sleep problems in individuals who already experience difficulties, so we were not surprised there was an improvement in sleep quality," said study author Ari Shechter. He's an assistant professor of medical sciences at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

They did a double-blind study. Personally, I run f.lux - works great. Free download for Win/iOS/Linux and Android Available here: just get flux

From Engadget:

Amazon and Microsoft employees caught up in sex trafficking sting
The tech industry has a clear history of sexism and misogyny, but a recent Newsweek report highlights another problem. The publication got its hands on a slew of emails sent to brothels and pimps between 2014 and 2016 that document the industry's patronage of brothels and purchasing of services from trafficked sex workers. Among the emails, which were obtained through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor's Office, were 67 sent from Microsoft employee email accounts, 63 from Amazon accounts and dozens more from companies like Boeing, T-Mobile, Oracle and local Seattle tech firms.

And this bit of interesting (but not surprising) news:

Seattle's sex industry has grown right alongside its tech industry and the city's authorities have said that some men spend up to $50,000 per year on sex workers. Brothels are even known to advertise how close they are to tech offices. Alex Trouteaud, director of policy and research at the anti-trafficking organization Demand Abolition, told Newsweek that the tech industry is a "culture that has readily embraced trafficking."

What boggles my mind is that many of these mokes used their personal corporate email accounts - the internet is forever. Especially when it flows through a privately owned server. Even though you have not caught flak for something you sent two years ago does not mean that it is not still there on a backup tape somewhere - cataloged and indexed, waiting for retrieval.

News you can use - Santa

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Wonder where he is? NORAD is tracking him tonight.

Meet The Guardian Project

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Looks interesting - a group of developers who are focused on security and providing apps for the general public.

Check out their website: Guardian Project

Here is one of their projects:

One of their latest projects is Haven - looks really interesting:

Very clever use of existing technologies...

Baby steps

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Tonight is the shortest day of the year - we had 8:25:26 of daylight. Yesterday we had 8:25:30 and tomorrow we will have 8:25:32

The days will get longer but it will take time for this to be apparent - like I said, baby steps but a wonderful thing to hold in your mind during these dark winter nights. They days are getting longer.

Fun with Chrome

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A couple of days ago, my home machine auto-updated to the new version of the Chrome browser. I like it compared to Internet Explorer and use it on all of my devices.

The bookmarks were presented in a new horrible display though - much less efficient. My laptop had not updated so I took a screen cap and let it run overnight to catch the new version - here is a before and after shot:



The screen-cap software was set to the same size (640x242) for each picture - I did not mess with the scaling.
A lot less displayed on the screen and what is shown there is not displayed in a graceful or scaleable manner. Downright ugly.

Fortunately, the workaround is very simple. Cut and paste this into your Chrome address bar:


and select Disabled. Relaunch Chrome and things will be back to normal until Google pushes a new update.

I want to believe

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Sigh - Google Chrome

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They did an update and now the bookmarks look all different.

They changed the User Interface and it sucks - takes up a lot more real-estate on the screen - I have folders with lots of links and now I have to scroll to get them all.

Interesting remnant from WW-II

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Fences made from medical stretchers:

More here: The Sumburgh Head Foghorn

I really love old machinery...

Boldly going - a new Star Trek movie

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Looks interesting - from Deadline Hollywood:

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Star Trek’ Will Be R-Rated: ‘The Revenant’s Mark L. Smith Frontrunner Scribe
EXCLUSIVE: After Deadline this week revealed that Quentin Tarantino pitched aStar Trek film to JJ Abrams and Paramount, the whole thing is moving at warp speed. Tarantino met for hours in a writers room with Mark L. Smith, Lindsey Beer, and Drew Pearce. They kicked around ideas and one of them will get the job. I’m hearing the frontrunner is Smith, who wrote The Revenant. The film will most certainly go where no Star Trek has gone before: Tarantino has required it to be R rated, and Paramount and Abrams agreed to that condition. Most mega budget tent poles restrict the film to a PG-13 rating in an effort to maximize the audience.

Sounds like quite the combination - Tarantino and Trek. A lot of fans will be up in arms for violating the canon but hell - this should be a really fun ride!

Should have called the experts

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When anyone talks about explosive demolition of a structure, the go-to people are the Loizeaux family at Controlled Demolition, Inc. They are a family-run business operating since their founding in 1947.

Here is what happens when you do not use them - from the Detroit Free Press:

Demolition executive says wiring to blame in failed Pontiac Silverdome implosion
A series of thunderous detonations rocked the Pontiac Silverdome early Sunday morning, sending up clouds of smoke and thrilling a spectator crowd of hundreds out to watch the start of the stadium's demolition.

But as the smoke cleared, a problem became apparent: the Silverdome was intact.

Officials with the demolition contractor, Detroit-based Adamo Group, confirmed that the explosions failed to bring down the steel columns supporting the Silverdome's upper level. The detonations — and anticipated collapse of the upper level — were to be the opening round for a year-long demolition project, which will mostly be done with hydraulic excavators.

Roughly 10% of the explosive charges did not detonate due to a wiring issue, said Rick Cuppetilli, executive vice president with Adamo. These unexploded charges were set up in eight key locations around the Silverdome. The precise cause of the wiring issue remained unclear early Sunday afternoon.

Here is how you do it - CDI's work at Seattle's Kingdome Sport's Arena - Sunday, March 26, 2000

Happy 25th birthday

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Yesterday - turns out Trish and Texting share the same birthday. From cNet:

OMG! Texting is 25 years old
Texting turned 25 on Sunday, ICYMI.

The first text message was sent on Dec. 3, 1992, by British engineer Neil Papworth to Richard Jarvis, an executive at British telecom Vodafone, who was attending his company's holiday party in Newbury, England.

Typed out on a PC, it was sent to Jarvis's Orbitel 901, a mobile phone that would take up most of your laptop backpack, and read: Merry Christmas. But Jarvis didn't send a reply because there was no way to send a text from a phone in those days.

Although Papworth is credited with sending the first text message, he's not the so-called father of SMS. That honor (or blame) falls on Matti Makkonen, who initially suggested the idea back in 1984 at a telecommunications conference.

But texting didn't take off over night. First it had to be incorporated into the then-budding GSM standard. Makkonen feels the technology actually was launched in 1994 when Nokia unveiled its 2010 mobile phone, the first device that let people easily write messages.

Today, about 97 percent of smartphone owners use text messaging, according to Pew Research, and along the way, a new set of sub-languages based on abbreviations and keyboard-based imagery has evolved. More than 561 billion text messages were sent worldwide in June 2014, about 18.7 billion texts sent every day, according researcher TextRequest.

It is a handy way to keep in touch and also, if TEOTWAWKI ever happens, it is a very robust method of communication. Not fast - messages can take a while to get through the system but... they still get through even when the cellular network is overloaded or down.

No auction tomorrow

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The University of Washington is having a surplus equipment auction tomorrow and I spent an hour today looking over the lots being offered for sale.

Some nice lab equipment but I already have what I need. There were some nice machine tools - a CNC Bridgeport milling machine but it was missing major components (some of the drive motors, control panel, etc...)

February 2018

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Environment and Climate
Cliff Mass Weather Blog
Climate Audit
Climate Depot
Green Trust
Jennifer Marohasy
Planet Gore
Science and Public Policy Institute
Solar Cycle 24
Space Weather
Space Weather - Canada
the Air Vent
Tom Nelson
Watts Up With That?

Science and Medicine
Derek Lowe
Junk Science
Life in the Fast Lane
Luboš Motl
New Scientist
Next Big Future
Ptak Science Books
Science Blog

Geek Stuff
Ars Technica
Boing Boing
Don Lancaster's Guru's Lair
Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories
Hack a Day
Kevin Kelly - Cool Tools
Slashdot: News for nerds
The Register
The Daily WTF

The Argyle Sweater
Chip Bok
Broadside Cartoons
Day by Day
Medium Large
Michael Ramirez
Prickly City
User Friendly
What The Duck

Awkward Family Photos
Cake Wrecks
Not Always Right
Sober in a Nightclub
You Drive What?

Business and Economics
The Austrian Economists
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Photography and Art
Digital Photography Review
James Gurney
Joe McNally's Blog
The Online Photographer

A Western Heart
American Digest
The AnarchAngel
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
Babalu Blog
Belmont Club
Bayou Renaissance Man
Classical Values
Cold Fury
David Limbaugh
Defense Technology
Doug Ross @ Journal
Grouchy Old Cripple
Irons in the Fire
James Lileks
Lowering the Bar
Maggie's Farm
Marginal Revolution
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Roger L. Simon
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The Smallest Minority
The Volokh Conspiracy
Tim Blair
Weasel Zippers

Gone but not Forgotten...
A Coyote at the Dog Show
Bad Eagle
Steven DenBeste
democrats give conservatives indigestion
Cox and Forkum
The Diplomad
Priorities & Frivolities
Gut Rumbles
Mean Mr. Mustard 2.0
Neptunus Lex
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Ramblings' Journal
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shining full plate and a good broadsword
A Physicist's Perspective
The Daily Demarche
Wayne's Online Newsletter

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