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Category Archives: Technology

Redundancy and its cousin, resilience

The cockpit of an Airbus A380. Notice the symmetry and redundancy, with two of everything (including the pilots). Wikipedia photo. Quick now: How many hearts does an octopus have? Answer: Three! However, two of the hearts are not backup hearts, exactly. Rather, the three-heart system is an element of octopus engineering that offloads pumping blood […]

Boeing: It’s even worse than we think.

Wikipedia photo I have long been fascinated by aviation. Though I never got a pilot’s license (I chickened out), I have about 45 hours of flying time as a student pilot. On my trip to Scotland last fall, I was eager for the opportunity to fly from New York to Edinburgh and back on Boeing’s […]

Why does this feel familiar?

One of the creepiest Zuckerberg photos of all time, which he himself cluelessly posted on Facebook The sound of derisive laughter from the entire civilized world almost drowned out the din of the Washington circus. Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook will “pivot to privacy.” Yes, and pigs will pivot to flying. We veterans of the […]

Linux

Recently someone gave me a 10-year-old (or so) laptop that had been written off as dead. It was sold with Windows Vista, and it would no longer boot. I installed Ubuntu Linux on it and found that it works great. Bottom line: Free laptop. I’m a Mac loyalist and a conscientious objector to anything from […]

Rethinking the unthinkable

Those of you who recognize the quote in the image above will guess the subject of this post: thermonuclear war. The quote is from the 1983 classic film “War Games” starring Matthew Broderick. First of all, I’m not the only person with a renewed concern about nuclear weapons. It seems to be in the zeitgeist […]

The Apple watch EKG function

Apple released a bunch of software updates yesterday — 10.14.2 of Mac OS; 12.1.1 of iOS; and 5.1.2 of watchOS. The updates for the iPhone and the Apple watch enable the long-promised EKG function on the Apple watch 4. I’m going to guess that thousands of people who’ve never seen an electrical graph of their […]

The eternal elegance of good technology

The signal strength dial on a Collins 75A-4 receiver, circa 1952 Uh-oh. This is a nerd post. Every so often, I have a maintenance day for my collection of obsolete technology. Stuff gets dusted. Stuff gets turned on and exercised. Batteries in portable devices get charged. Little fixes gets done. These things are like pets. […]

Kirby vacuum cleaners

A Kirby Avalir vacuum cleaner Sorry again, non-nerds. This is another nerd post. Though we’ll also talk about Kirby’s business practices. I had not been inside a pawn shop in probably 50 years. Nice people don’t go into pawn shops. But I was waiting for the oil to be changed in my car, with a […]

Using the Apple watch in fringe areas

Sorry, non-nerds. This is a nerd post. Technology companies these days assume that everyone, everywhere, has fast Internet and good cell phone coverage. In rural America, that is not the case. Millions of us have been left behind. In the 10 years that I have lived here in the woods, things have gotten better. But […]

Apple Pay? Yes, you should …

When I first heard about Apple Pay a few years ago, I assumed that it was nothing more than a play by Apple to insert itself into the lucrative credit card transaction business and extract a cut. To some degree, that’s true. But, as far as I can tell, Apple gets only a meager 0.15 […]