Category Archives: Sufficiently Advanced Technology

A Nightmare Scenario

The coming rise of predatory, parasitic spambooks — Charlie Stross via Cory Doctorow.

In the future, readers will not go in search of books to read. Feral books will stalk readers, sneak into their ebook libraries, and leap out to ambush them. Readers will have to beat books off with a baseball bat; hold them at bay with a flaming torch: refuse to interact: and in extreme cases, feign dyslexia, blindness or locked-in syndrome to avoid being subjected to literature.

Code implodes into text, and it is only a matter of time before we see books that incorporate software for collaborative reading. Not only will your ebook save your bookmarks and annotations; it’ll let you share bookmarks and annotations with other readers. It’s only logical, no? And the next step is to let readers start discussions with one another, with some sort of tagging mechanism to link the discussions to books, or chapters, or individual scenes, or a named character or footnote.

Once there is code there will be parasites, viral, battening on the code. It’s how life works: around 75% of known species are parasitic organisms. A large chunk of the human genome consists of endogenous retroviruses, viruses that have learned to propagate themselves by splicing themselves into our chromosomes and lazily allowing the host cells to replicate themselves whenever they divide. Spammers will discover book-to-book discussion threads just as flies flock to shit.

But then it gets worse. Much worse.

Someone has an evil, evil imagination.

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It’s a Theory

Why I Believe Printers Were Sent From Hell To Make Us Miserable. Among the evidence:

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Almost the Ultimate Keyboard

Jeff Atwood designed the CODE Keyboard, which he says is the keyboard designed to satisfy the most discerning members of the keyboard cult.

Looks good. Love the layout (it’s a lot like the aging Logitech I’m typing on now). Not as sure I need the backlighting, could be good, though.

But, just one thing.

It’s not wireless.

Not being a gamer, and thus not worried about whatever little delay I might be adding to the keystrokes, I like having one less source of clutter on my keyboard. For $150, why couldn’t I have wireless?

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3TB of Storage for Under $150

Amazing. I would almost buy one just to have it. The truth is, though, I don’t need it: I’ve almost given up recording movies I’m not getting around to watch.

Specs: Fanless, USB3 external drive, $149.99, free shipping. Not tiny, not the fastest, but it has a 3 year warranty.

Still, three Terrabytes. I remember when 1.2M 3.5″ rigid “floppy disks” seemed a huge advance over 360K/640K floppy disks. In fact I still have some of each in a closet.

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I’d Rather Own the Book

Every now and then I start to think it could be fun and even useful to buy a Kindle. Then I read stuff like Amazon remotely wipes woman’s Kindle, and come to my senses.

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 1 Comment

Extreme Alert! (False Alarm) Shows Flaws in the System

So there I am at my computer, trying with some difficulty to set up two-factor authorization for my gmail account (the sticking point seems to be what I have to do to get it to work on my phone), when all of a sudden the phone makes a horrible loud noise, and a big scary popup appears warning me about an EXTREME ALERT.

Tornado Warning in this area til 10:15 PM EDT. Take shelter now. Check local media – NWS

Sounds serious. Even though it’s not even raining out at the moment. Tapping it, then asking for “more information” is not much more informative.

CMAE category: Met
Response type: Shelter
Severity: Extreme
Urgency: Immediate
Certainty: Observed

So naturally, not having a basement to hide in (this is South Florida, there are no basements) I turn to Google, searching for tornado and Miami-Dade, but I don’t find much at first. Eventually I get to a page at, of all places, the College of Dupage, which says it is located at 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, and has has the text of an announcement from the National Weather Service, one for which I only later find the official site.

And it turns out that the tornado watch is real, but for areas well north of me:

TORNADO WARNING
FLC011-086-270215-
/O.NEW.KMFL.TO.W.0038.120827T0149Z-120827T0215Z/

BULLETIN – EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MIAMI FL
949 PM EDT SUN AUG 26 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN MIAMI HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR…
SOUTH CENTRAL BROWARD COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST FLORIDA…
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF…PEMBROKE PINES…MIRAMAR…
NORTHEASTERN MIAMI-DADE COUNTY IN SOUTHEAST FLORIDA…
THIS INCLUDES THE CITY OF HIALEAH…

* UNTIL 1015 PM EDT

* AT 947 PM EDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
STORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO NEAR OPA-LOCKA…MOVING
NORTHWEST AT 45 MPH. %%

* THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR…
MIAMI LAKES…
MIAMI GARDENS…
MIRAMAR…
INTERSECTION U.S. 27 PINES BLVD…
WESTON…
AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

SEEK SHELTER INSIDE A STURDY BUILDING ON THE LOWEST FLOOR…AWAY FROM
EXTERIOR WALLS AND WINDOWS. GET UNDER A WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF
STURDY FURNITURE. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO COVER YOUR BODY.

TAKE COVER NOW IN A STURDY REINFORCED BUILDING. TORNADOES ARE
ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS AT NIGHT BECAUSE THEY ARE HARD TO SEE. IF YOU
WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE OR HEAR IT COMING…IT MAY BE TOO LATE TO GET TO A
SAFE PLACE! MOVE TO AN INTERIOR ROOM OR HALLWAY ON THE LOWEST FLOOR.
LEAVE MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES FOR REINFORCED SHELTER. STAY AWAY
FROM WINDOWS.

REPORT SEVERE WEATHER OR DAMAGE TO THE NEAREST LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY
OR YOUR COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT. THEY WILL RELAY YOUR REPORT TO
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE IN MIAMI.

&&

LAT…LON 2599 8055 2612 8039 2590 8018 2581 8027
TIME…MOT…LOC 0148Z 136DEG 40KT 2588 8027

$$

BAXTER

I think this reveals two real flaws in the emergency warning system that is being pushed on to our phones (without opt-in by the way). First, if the alert-generating system can identify me by location as someone in the general area of the warning, why can’t it be more fine-grained and figure out that I’m actually several miles away from it? Second, I absolutely don’t see why the alert couldn’t have a hyperlink to the more detailed statement. Some day this is going to start a lot of unnecessary panic.

Posted in Miami, Sufficiently Advanced Technology | 2 Comments

Creating Miami’s Future as a Technology Center

If anyone can pull of the trick of turning Miami into a communications technology center, it’s probably Manny Medina (and the smart people on his team).

Thus, this excerpt from his profile in today’s Herald is the sign of something that could be A Very Big Deal:

Q: You’re working with local leaders to initiate a not-for-profit Tech Conference of the Americas in Miami. When will it happen? Can you tell us what you’ve got in mind? How do you think it will help the region?

As I attended technology conferences in San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, etc., I was always amazed how any one of them would attract from 100,000 to 250,000 participants. Some conferences actually transform the entire city.

I began to ask why we couldn’t do this in South Florida. The answer was always that we could not compete with Silicon Valley, the Research Triangle, etc. My view is that we do not need to compete, we need to use our number one asset — that we are the undisputed capital of Latin America for everything except technology. Therefore, why not launch a Tech Conference in South Florida to serve as the technology bridge between Latin America and the rest of the world?

Circumstances today create the perfect storm for us to do this. The economic meltdown in Europe and the slowdown in North America are making Latin America substantially more attractive for technology companies. At the same time, Latin American enterprises and governments have an insatiable appetite for the transfer of this new technology.

The conference has to have three main attributes: It needs to be substantive. In other words, tackle real issues facing the industry today like cloud computing, cyber security, big data, analytics, etc.; it needs to be a great networking event; and lastly, it must be fun. I could not think of a better venue than South Florida.

If we think of Art Basel’s impact in our community, I am convinced that making South Florida the Tech Capital of Latin America could have as big if not a bigger impact. The idea has been overwhelmingly embraced by local leaders. We have already secured a few hundred thousand dollars of funding. The goal is to have the first annual conference in the Spring of 2014. Over the next few months, we will be reaching out to the broader community to invite everybody to join us and help make this annual conference a major success for our community.

I hear that the conference has reserved space for 2014.

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