December 2, 2013
With current technology, delivery could be made to points within 10 miles of a fulfillment center.
I wonder if you get to keep that handy plastic box that your item would come in, or are they like those crates the post office has that you have to return. It would seem that the recipient of the package needs to have a secure backyard or, perhaps, balcony where the drone can drop the package. The package recipient would have to first indicate on a map the precise location of his backyard. If you live in a high-rise with balconies, Amazon would also need a view of the side of the building (something like Google's Streetview) where you would indicate your balcony. Or would the drone be smart enough to count the number of floors from outside the building? Maybe those customers without balconies or secure backyards could agree to leave a window or slider wide open for the drone, but that would create other security issues.
November 21, 2013
Tablets In Public Schools
The problems with the iPad program in the LAUSD schools have been administrative; failure to evaluate the full cost, failure to fully consider the physical security of the devices, failure to understand how quickly their bright students would bypass their flimsy filtering software.
OTOH, here's a community college in County Laois in Ireland that went for 64 GB HP Elite Pads. They paid €550 each for them (about US$740). "Students experienced problems such as tablets failing to switch on, tablets spontaneously going into sleep mode, devices looping while performing automatic repairs, system board failures and issues with wi-fi." According to HP's website, the HP Elite Pad runs Windows 8 Pro 32. The school has replaced all the pads with books.
November 16, 2013
Dynamic Shape Display
November 7, 2013
I will not spend the rest of the day feeling awesome
The caption under this video says "If you already knew these, spend the rest of the day feeling awesome." These are 6 Essential Mac [keyboard] Tips. I knew not a single one.
November 6, 2013
Two Die In Netherlands Wind Turbine Fire
News video (there is no audio) of a wind turbine fire in the Netherlands. If you've never had the misfortune to see one of these fires in the Coachella Valley, have a look:
According to the news story (or as I understood the Google-translated version) there were four people working on the turbine and two escaped alive. This is alleged to be a photo showing the two remaining engineers on the turbine before they died, but its source is Reddit which is highly unreliable. You will see in the discussion that a wind turbine technician says the turbines are equipped with controlled rate descenders which would permit a safe emergency escape.
November 1, 2013
Good Customer Service
Noteburner Audiobook Converter is an application for OSX that converts audio files with DRM (or without) to MP3 with no DRM. In my truck I have only two devices that can play MP3s: the CD player and the Garmin GPS. Neither of them can play files with DRM. I also have an old iPod Shuffle which will not play files with DRM. I could put the DRM files on my iPod Mini or my Android phone or tablet and they would play okay, but using one of those in the truck requires more fiddling and can distract me from safe driving for dangerously long moments. So I have been using Noteburner to convert an occasional file with DRM to wild and free MP3.
Then I upgraded my Mac to Mavericks. Noteburner uses iTunes to decrypt the DRM files. But the version of iTunes that came with Mavericks does not like Noteburner, shutting itself down whenever I tried it. I sent off an email to customer support at Noteburner. I may have been the first user to report this incompatibility. They asked for more data, which I supplied, and now, just 8 days after my initial email they've released the upgraded Noteburner that works with Mavericks flawlessly. So I'm happy and thought that good, responsive customer service should be pointed out when it happens.
October 27, 2013
Geek Gushes Over Tesla Model S
An ArsTechnica reviewer drives a Tesla S from Houston almost to Austin and back and loves it even though it required four recharge stops.
Google's got a barge floating off of Treasure Island with shipping crates stacked high on it, wrapped with black netting. There is speculation that they want to pull it up to the waterfront of mainland San Francisco. And then there's a lot of handwringing about how Google doesn't have the proper permits for such a thing, and such a thing would not be legal anyway, oh my, oh my.
I don't know why no one is guessing the obvious: this is a Google data center that they are going to float into international waters to escape the intrusiveness of the U.S. government. Google needs data centers that the other nations of the world will trust. All they need to do is anchor this thing and bring alongside another ship to provide power. I think Google has the resources to buy a used nuclear-powered boat from some nation. They also need a very broadband connection up to a satellite. Or maybe they hook it into a cable running to a country that respects privacy and freedom of information, like Mexico or Canada.
UPDATE: CNet discusses the possibility that it will be a floating data center. They say at least some of the contents of the barge were constructed in Hangar 3 on Treasure Island. The legal owner of the barge and the tenant of Hangar 3 is By And Large LLC.
Bal0010 is 249.6 feet in length, which is far longer than the average for all Freight Barges. It is 16 feet in depth, which is significantly deeper than the average for all Freight Barges.
Bal0010's gross tonnage is 2,164, which is 183% larger than the average for all Freight Barges. It's net tonnage is 649, which is 15% smaller than the average for all Freight Barges.
October 26, 2013
Google Glass at Burning Man
Didn't I predict Google Glass videos from Burning Man this year? The first one comes from DJ Paul Oakenfold.
October 25, 2013
New Photography Stuff
Some interesting new things from PhotoPlus 2013.
- The Nikon 1 AW1, a waterproof, shock-resistant mirrorless camera. They say it's the first waterproof, shock-resistant camera with interchangeable lenses. (There should probably be an asterisk on that claim.) Get it from B&H for just a hair less than $800. Comes in white, silver or black. You can buy a silicone jacket for $37 in orange, khaki, or black.
- Steel-plated SD cards! A 32GB, Class 10 card is $90. I've never had an SD card break on me, but I've never done war photography, and who knows what could happen there. To go along with those cards, a steel-plated SD and CF card reader for $50 because we all know how often a card reader gets crushed. Like, pretty much never. I wonder if having all that steel increases the chance of static electricity - a real threat to the data on your SD card.
- Hyperjuice battery packs for MacBook, iPad or iPhone. It's a lithium-ion battery and the rep says there is a selection of sizes ranging from the smallest which will power a MacBook for 10 hours, up to the biggest which they claim will run a MacBook for 40 hours. He doesn't say whether MacBook Air or Pro, or what size, which I would think would make a difference. I hadn't realized that the MacBook's battery is like an iPod battery now: not user replaceable. B&H has one model which they say will handle a MacBook for 34 hours: $250.