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 →
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.
In case you haven’t heard, Boeing has been having battery troubles with its new flagship Dreamliner aircraft. The batteries have occasionally been catching fire, and the planes are now grounded until they determine what the issue is.
Hopefully they’ve figured this out already, but there’s one big difference between their on-the-ground tests, and a live flight – the passengers.
I wonder if they’ve tried plugging in a couple of hundred randomly selected laptops into the passenger , and seeing what happens to the electrical system then?
Sounds silly? What if one (or half a dozen) of them has a bad battery, or an electrical short circuit?