Saturday, June 13, 2015

Interstellar Tomorrowland

Warning, the following may contain spoilers for both Tomorrowland and Interstellar.  I'm a little liquored up so that's not a certainty.

Also, due to the aforementioned liquor there may be some opinions expressed that some will find offensive.  I'm trying to offend anyone, but opinions being what they are someone is bound to be offended.  I'm truly sorry, and I refuse to be bound by anything I write as a guarantee that my opinion may not change in the future.

How's that for a disclaimer?

BRB, I gotta get a refill.  It's a good time for the easily offended or spoiler-averse to find another spot on the internet.

So two movies that I've seen recently have been both refreshing and had a profound impact on me.  The first was Christopher Nolan's Interstellar.  From the first trailer I knew that this was going to be different, or at least different from what we've seen recently.

See, we've all fallen into the trap of the worship of the apocalypse.  I admit, I was right there with you, and one of the proudest achievements I own is how often my friends talk about the Cyberpunk 2.02.0. that I ran once upon a time.  I captured the atmosphere, and they helped build that universe with me.  Let's face it, I grew up reading about how the world would be ruined by the time I was an adult, and the only hopeful science fiction I read was from 20 years before I was born.

Interstellar has a leg in both worlds.  The future is very bleak, but there's a small group that still won't give up, that's still trying to make a difference.  That determination, stubbornness, and drive towards a goal that's over the horizon an not just the object of making it to another day is what makes it different.

The depiction of a future where a young girl can be an agitator merely for the affront of suggesting that once, during a brief period of history, we managed to land men on the moon, and where that amazing accomplishment can be officially declared a hoax, made me tear up in anger.  Because I can see it happening in my lifetime.

"We used to look up and wonder about our place among the stars, now we just look down and think about our place in the dirt."

Tomorrowland was along the same lines, but it started in the present day and looks back.  Back at the future we thought we were going to have, filled with the marvels that technology could bring to us.  A future of flying cars, robots, jetpacks, and space travel.

Again, there's a scene that entices the heroine to search for the entrance to this future that brought angry tears to my eyes.  What did we do wrong?  Looking back, it seems like it was all right there, ours for the taking!

Again, the character that's key to the story, an in this case the protagonist, is a young girl.  (As a side note, this tells me that there are a lot of fathers who want a better world for their daughters, but I could be wrong about that.)

During a shooltime montage of all the ills and evils of the world, from war, to famine, disease, to climate change she stops the teacher in his tracks and asks "What are we doing about it?"

And here's where you can feel free to begin disliking me.  Because I want to know the same thing.

Windmills are great.  Geothermal and solar too.  There are lots of alternative forms of energy, but pretending that they're a substitute for on-demand fossil fuel energy is a fantasy.  The only reliable, consistent replacement has been a pariah for 30 years, and as a result we haven't built a new nuclear power plant in this country in decades.

So we're stuck with fossil fuels, or we can go back to living in mud huts.  Here's a clue, folks, we stopped living in mud huts not because we were forced to, but because it basically sucks.  Vaccines were developed because the alternative was piles of corpses.  And GMO's are better than starvation any day of the week.

But we've turned away from that future.  We pretend that we never needed those miracles of research, products of human ingenuity and inventiveness.  Why?

The villain of Tomorrowland tells us.  Because a future without hope asks nothing of us.  If there is no hope then we don't have to put the energy in to make it happen, and we can focus on our small slice of life and bicker about sexual orientation and who gets to marry who.

"What are we doing about it?"  If we're stuck with fossil fuels and our options are conserve back to the stone age or fill the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, what are our choices?

Conservation is a lifeboat strategy.  It's what you do when you expect the rescue party to show up at any minute and you just have to make that last crust of bread last one more day.

Guess what?  Nobody is coming to rescue us.  We're it, we're all there is, and if we starve ourselves until we can't move, we'll never get the crops planted to feed ourselves.

Specifically, if carbon production is the issue, and China is already pumping more carbon into the atmosphere than the US, what are we doing about it?  Threatening?  Making treaties?

There are already successful carbon sequestration technologies that are being resisted and banned, despite the obvious advantages.  Why?

When humans move to a place that lacks something they need, they used to find a way to get it.  Now we're destroying dams.  What happened?  Why is a beaver dam, built for a beaver's purposes, more sacrosanct than a human dam, built for human purposes? (With apologies to Robert Heinlein for the paraphrase)

Look.  That future is still out there.  We just have to want it bad enough to make it happen.  The world is already more amazing in some ways than the previous generation could have imagined.  WE CAN MAKE IT MORE.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Waking up

I just finished my second sleep study, ever.

It was very different than I remember. The wiring was more restrictive. The bed was uncomfortable to the point of being painful. The furnace sounded like a car crash every time it came on.

Granted, that first time I was sleep deprived so I may be making an unfair comparison.

The results are curious. I've been using a pressure of 16/20 mm of water for the last 8 years. That means that with a BiPAP I have a pressure of 16 on the exhale and 20 in inhale, and that's pretty high.

Tonight's pressure peaked at 11. No split pressure, just 11.

What. The. Hell.

It's possible tonight's testing was botched horribly. The pain in my hip gives that option some weight.

There's another possibility. I've had sinus issues my entire life, and my initial great was done using a nasal mask that put pressure in my face right where my airway is smallest. I remember mentioning it to the tech at the time because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to breathe through my nose.

The mask was mounted before I went to sleep as well, and almost uncomfortably tight. I didn't know any better, so I let it go.

Now here's the big difference:  About a year ago I decided to try something different. That's unusual in this situation because cpap headgear is expensive and most folk don't want to risk something that might not work. However, I took the leap and switched to nasal pillows from the nasal mask.

And that's what I wore last night.

I won't talk to the doctor for two weeks, but I think that the mask is the single biggest factor.

I'll never dismiss the value that using a BiPAP has brought to me, but the thought that I've been fighting leaks and dry morning eyes for eight years because I was using the wrong mask is angering.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Life with the Chromebook

Just recently I purchased a used Acer C-7 Chromebook, and the first thing I did was upgrade the 320GB hard drive with a 32GB SSD.

The upgrade only had one issue: the new drive is slightly bigger than the old one. I made it fit.

The installation of Chrome OS went without a hitch. Everything went exactly as it should have.

The Chromebook itself is... Boring. Seriously.

Everything does exactly what it's supposed to.  All the apps imported from my Google Chrome, so there was no more setup than logging in. It powers up, shuts down, hibernates. The touch pad is a little weird, but very versatile once you get used to it.

Battery life is a little disappointing at 4 hours, but I was aware of that when I bought this model. I understand the Samsung does better.

I've only run into one thing that I use on a regular basis that it can't handle.  Microsoft Silverlight.

Actually, that's not bad.

I think the Chromebook does exactly what it set out to do:  bring the web to the desktop simply and reliably.  And as a result I've taken the drastic step of powering my laptop down and putting it on a shelf.  Let's see how long it stays off.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Patience

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

We're all familiar with that quote, and while it's a pretty decent argument for taking that first step, it doesn't really address the step after that, and the thousands to follow.

I started blogging in 2003, I think.  I started on Wordpress and learned a lot playing around with PHP and embeddable code.  In October of 2005 I added  Google Adsense code.

Blogging is something that you have to want to do, or get paid to do.  You have to have the desire to share your opinion or knowledge with other people, and you can't be disappointed when you don't have thousands coming to your site.

Looking at my Adsense stats, I think it's safe to say I've achieved that.  As of today I have $95.00 in my account and I've never received a payout, having never hit the $100 limit.

I lost interest.  What I was saying was mostly for my friends so I constructed a complex internal system where technology related stuff went to Google+, jokes went to Facebook, and more inflammatory stuff went on the blog.

Eventually I stopped posting to the blog, because frankly I didn't care to be inflammatory any more.  I had bigger, more personal fish to fry.  (I have a theory on activism that I may expand on later) And I've sort of given up on Facebook.  The occasional post I miss from friends and acquaintances usually isn't important enough to worry about, and the important ones I hear about anyway.  Sorry to be a social media leach y'all.

And now Google is trying to integrate more of their services.  My blogger profile is associated with my G+ profile, and posts and comments can cross-post.  That makes it harder to "segregate" the parts of my personality, and easier to reach more eyes.

So why is this called "Patience?"  Because between Google and I, we've been waiting for $100 to change hands for almost 8 years.  Google profits were down to only $3.35bn this year, so I'd better get it while I still can.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dusting and Cleaning

It's been about a year since the last time I posted here.  A year that's brought a lot of change.

I have some longer stuff in my head that really doesn't fit on G+, although it's nice that there's an automatic share feature now.

There's some tech stuff, and some house stuff, and maybe even some career stuff, but I'm hoping I can organize my thoughts and hone my focus.  And maybe share something cool from time to time.

Welcome back, time to move forward.

Ed vs the WOW Router

In the ongoing saga of Ed vs the WOW Router, I've learned that necessity is the mother of invention.

Getting access to a network from the outside isn't easy.  For obvious reasons, it's not supposed to be.  But there are a couple of tricks, and of course, your mileage may vary.


The technical difficulties in this case are that the WOW router can't maintain a static DHCP assignment for my home "server".  When the lease runs out, or the system reboots, it gets a new IP address.  This means that port redirects are pretty much useless, so standard methods (vpn server, RDP) won't work. Also, the virtual server and port forwarding don't seem to be consistent.


Hosted solutions seem to be the only answer.  

LogMeIn seems to be a nice solution, and it works well from a browser outside the network.  Once the server application is installed on my server I can connect and RDP through a browser by logging into the site.  The service itself is free for non-commercial use, but the Android client is expensive at $29.99.


Teamviewer is another popular choice.  Just like LogMeIn, there's a desktop server application, and once everything is configured web access is easy.  The Android app is free, but kind of klunky and it doesn't work well at all with a keyboard and mouse on my tablet. It's so bad, in fact, that it might be a deal breaker.


The last option I'm looking at is NeoRouter Mesh.  Unlike the others, there's no web component, but it does provide a good vpn option and a portable client.  The client will allow you to launch RDP or VNC clients after it's established a vpn connection.  The downside is that it's not completely free, at $1 per license per month.  I'm not sure that over the long term I can justify that.


Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education: an article by William Deresiewicz about how universities should exist to make minds, not careers | The American Scholar

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

One of the great errors of an elite education, then, is that it teaches you to think that measures of intelligence and academic achievement are measures of value in some moral or metaphysical sense. But they’re not. Graduates of elite schools are not more valuable than stupid people, or talentless people, or even lazy people. Their pain does not hurt more. Their souls do not weigh more. If I were religious, I would say, God does not love them more. The political implications should be clear. As John Ruskin told an older elite, grabbing what you can get isn’t any less wicked when you grab it with the power of your brains than with the power of your fists. “Work must always be,” Ruskin says, “and captains of work must always be….[But] there is a wide difference between being captains…of work, and taking the profits of it.”