Earlier this week, Nissan announced that it would have several models of driver-less cars on the market by 2020. Now GM and Honda have made several similar announcements. This could be an inflection point, where the driver-less car becomes somewhat inevitable (barring legislative ramifications, or a particularly gruesome accident). Continue reading
The New York Times, commenting on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s retirement, stated their belief that his replacement should be a catch-up artist, in order to allow Microsoft to somehow “get back in the game”.
I disagree. Playing catch-up is a fool’s game, a form of fighting the last battle. Continue reading
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about a few topics in the past few years – distributed systems, lowering humanity’s environmental footprint, and also food. None of what I’m about to write is particularly original, nor is it going to change the world – the potential product I’m describing is more oriented towards first-world apartment dwellers. I’m hoping that the idea will start other people thinking about the problem though.
The underlying issue is that our food supply is extremely fragile, and (while affordable in first-world terms) costly. There has been much research into reducing bottlenecks in the food supply chain, as well as well-known programs to encourage people to consume locally produced food.
One solution that has evolved is the idea of a food wall. They’re a form of vertical high density gardening. You can see examples here and here. Some examples are really impressive, and can generate vast amounts of food in a relatively small area. Most of the ones I’ve seen are intended for outdoor use though, and are still labor intensive. Continue reading
A few people have asked for my opinion about the Yahoo! purchase of Tumblr.
Short version: this is a “bet the farm” deal. Y! has (at last report) $1.2 billion in cash on hand, and this is an all-cash $1.1 billion deal. If anything goes wrong elsewhere, they’ll need to raise cash in a hurry, which would be costly. Continue reading
Every motorist knows the pain of a flat tire. The modern low-profile tire is an amazing piece of technology, but it is still susceptible to sharp pieces of metal, carelessly left on a service station floor. Continue reading
There are a great many indices that attempt to measure aspects of the world, and quite a few consolidated indices (like the HDI) that create measures out of a number of other indices.
I thought that it might be a fun project to put together a single index that produces a single number for the “state of the world”.
It won’t necessarily mean anything, but it would be amusing to track over time.
I can do the programming work, but I could really use help figuring out which indices to include, and how to weight them. Opinions please!
A few possibilities can be found here:
The basic layout of vehicles on the road (in North America, anyhow) is amazingly homogenous. Think about it: there are cars with four wheels, motorcycles with two, and trucks with anywhere from four to twenty-plus wheels (in two varieties – attached and detached cabs).
The last time I saw a three-wheeled T-Rex, it looked so outlandishly exotic, that a crowd gathered around it (the owner had parked it on the sidewalk outside a store). You don’t usually see that even with exotic Italian supercars.
There’s actually a lot of experimentation with wheel plans (i.e. the vehicle equivalent of room plans in a home), but we don’t see it much on a day-to-day basis. Continue reading
One of the drawbacks with current 3D printing technology is the slow rate at which objects are built up in layers from hot plastic thread. The process of printing objects of any significant size can take hours.
Using a technique similar to airbrushes may speed things up. If the source material is in a fine powdered form instead of a solid thread, and is pushed through the print head (or nozzle in this case) under pressure, then it is simply a matter of determining a way to accrete the plastic into a solid object. Continue reading
There’s an asymmetry in the data center, and it might be an opportunity for somebody to build a new product line (hint, hint: HP, Dell).
There are plenty of products that consist of a box filled with storage devices – we call them SANs (storage area networks). They’re essentially what allows big data to exist, by packing large amounts of storage into a relatively small space.
The problem isn’t anything new, really – most people have hundreds of accounts on different websites.
The username is usually their email address, and the password…well the password tends to be the same on all of the sites, and it is usually eight characters or less.
It is simply too hard for most people to memorize passwords much longer than that.
So they use something simple like “12345678”, and the next thing they know, they’ve been well and truly pwnz0red.