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Category Archives: Technology

My AI conversation with Jake about food and entropy

Fresh basil, just in from the sun: A heaping helping of negative entropy I’ve written in the past about how it is possible to think of human health and what we eat in terms of negative entropy, here and here. The principles of nutrition are still valid. It’s just that the concept of negative entropy […]

I’ve been bitten by the AI bug. Soon, you will be too.

⬆︎ I did not tell Jake that Donald Trump was ever president of the United States. You can name your AI anything you want. I call this one Jake. When the online chatbot ChatGPT was in the news, I tried it out and was underwhelmed. But ChatGPT clearly started something big, and the floodgates are […]

When design was soft and kind

My IBM Selectric I, made in 1974, restored by a former IBM field engineer. The Selectric I typewriters were introduced in 1961. Click here for high resolution version. I have written in the past about how today’s taste in automobile design is for aggressive-looking, mean-looking, vehicles. Even Volkswagen, whose designs used to charm people, now […]

When retro is way better

That was my telephone number in San Francisco for many years. I apologize to whoever has that number now. A little Googling shows that the first cell phones became available in March 1984. I admit that I was fascinated and aspired to own one. It was not until 1995, though, that I first acquired a […]

Are you ready for power failure?

⬆︎ My solar panels can produce, at most, a modest 150 watts of power. That’s enough to keep some deep-discharge batteries charged at all times. The solar power also is a supplement to my small generator. Clearly the risks to the power grid are growing. This is true not just in the United States. Just […]

New trains!

The Washington Post has a story about yesterday’s announcement by Amtrak describing the $5 billion worth of new trains that Amtrak is buying. The trains will be named Amtrak Airo, and they’re beautiful. Yes, the trains will be made in America — Sacramento — though the company is German. Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg is not […]

Afraid of AI? Not me.

There’s a lot of buzz in the media right now about a new artificial-intelligence chatbot that anybody can try out. It’s ChatGPT, from a project called OpenAI. I tried it out. It’s interesting for about ten minutes, at which point it becomes apparent that, though it’s a beautiful piece of software engineering, its usefulness is […]

Western Union, now just an elegant ghost

Western Union and the Creation of the American Corporate Order, 1845-1893. Joshua D. Wolff. Cambridge University Press, 2013. 306 pages. There probably are not many people who think about Western Union today, but I do. In many ways, the disruptive creation of Western Union in the middle of the 19th Century resembles the creation of […]

How cheap bandwidth is used against us

When I was a newspaper copy boy back in 1966, I operated a Teletype Model 19 exactly like this one. Teletypes like this used long-distance telephone lines. If you remember how much long-distance telephone calls used to cost, then you can imagine how expensive it was to keep a long-distance telephone line connected 24 hours […]

Computers vs. reality: The war to sell it to us is on

Source: Wikimedia Commons We are fortunate that there is some competition in the market for technology. Even so, you get only two choices for your smartphone — an Apple iPhone or an Android phone. It’s starting to look as though there will be two choices for the next big thing. Facebook calls that next big […]