Category Archives: Go Read This

There’s a lot of news and other stuff that crosses my desk. I used to keep a Web page with nothing but pointers but this seems like a better way.

Changing the World

This points to a LONG article but it’s something you should read anyway. The title is exceedingly misleading – the author doesn’t actually get into talking about Tesla and Musk and his cars until more than halfway in! On the way there are lots of things to see and think about. Many well-thought-out graphics, links to sources and citations, and good footnotes, too.

Besides being interested in the subject material, something else that helped me breeze through the article is that I liked the writing style. You may or may not agree.

Depending on your interest and/or free time might take you a couple of sittings to work through this. Seriously.

So if the car industry has a cupcake and its parents are forcing it to eat vegetables, the oil industry has a cupcake but its parents are forcing it to eat razor blades. The car industry will resist the veggies and have a little tantrum before grudgingly giving in—the oil industry will furiously try to gouge the parents’ eyes out in resistance because for him, this is life and death.

How Tesla Will Change The World

BASIC at 50

BASIC is 50 years old!

BASIC was my first computer language. I already had it in my bag of tricks when I bought my first computer, an Apple ][. It cost about $1,400 new, a huge amount of money back then. With that I became the first person I knew that owned their own computer!

My friend Joe who, to this day, doesn’t dick around much with social networks, had been doing some CompSci work at college. He couldn’t understand why I’d spend so much on such a bitty box. What the hell could it possibly be good for? He came over to see the thing for himself.

Joe and pulled our first all-nighter programming Conway’s Life – in BASIC – into the box. I think the inspiration came from an article in Scientific American about cellular automata. (There may have been some burnt vegetable matter involved, as well.) By dawn we were watching patterns of dots crawl around on the screen. But hey, they were OUR dots, playing by OUR rules!

(Pam saw it! We go back *way* further than that. I doubt it made much of an impact on her; it would be a long time indeed before computers became generally useful enough for non-geeks to take seriously…)

Soon Joe had an Apple of his own.

We each found our way into lucrative careers in technology that have lasted to this very day. Our professional paths have intersected several times over the decades.

But I doubt either of us have programmed a single line of BASIC for a very, VERY long time. Lemme give it a shot.


Now go read this great article from Dartmouth, where BASIC got its start.


This is worth reading. Then go act!

OnStar Updates Terms & Conditions – Look Out!

Spies, everywhere!

Jonathan Zdziarski wrote this fascinating piece, makes me glad that none of my vehicles have OnStar. Really, REALLY glad. If yours does, you won’t want to miss.

OnStar Begins Spying On Customers’ GPS Location For Profit

Bonus discussion: How soon before such systems become mandatory in every vehicle?

Your Web Site Sucks

It’s been a while since I ran across a simple article with simple concepts – they all make good sense, by the way – raise a firestorm of commentary. Go see for yourself.

This is why your website sucks by C. Todd Fluhr

Today is World IPv6 Day!

Internet Society – World IPv6 Day

How are you faring? Here, I found that we were offline when I tried to log in this morning. We’d been down for a while, apparently, as the servers had stopped their incessant chatter to my inbox. Power cycling the cable modem put things right.

Coincidence? [shrug]

Alas, Optimum Online doesn’t support IPv6. I hear they’re not alone.


Good article in the NY times, talks about what appears to be the best tool for fighting spam which accounts for some 89% of ALL email sent. What is it? Why, money, of course.

A recent study found that a vast majority of the money collected by spammers flows through a small number of financial companies. The best quote from the article is as predictable as it is telling:

Visa, the largest credit card company, declined to comment.

Go read John Markoff’s article, Study Sees Way to Win Spam Fight.


Once Again: The Importance of Privacy

My work as a mentor for the local robotics team puts me in contact with lots of smart kids from all over this rock. One of the (many) things that astound me is the continual erosion of awareness and concern for personal privacy. If there’s one way that I guess I really show my age it’s that I still hold that archaic concept in pretty high regard.

This article, from The Chronicle of Higher Education, is a very astute response to what’s probably the most common retort, “if you’ve got nothing to hide then there’s nothing to worry about.” Actually, the worries are very, very real.

Go read Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’, by Daniel J. Solove.

Automattic in the News Today

Seen on

WordPress, the popular blog-hosting site, is reporting a breach of several of its servers.

Automattic, the company that drives WordPress, as well as Akismet, “had a low-level (root) break-in to several of our servers, and potentially anything on those servers could have been revealed,” said WordPress […]

Folks that use WordPress or other Automattic products will want to keep an eye on this.
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Do you know what a ‘cinematic scientist’ is? Or what they do? I’ll confess, until just a few short minutes ago I didn’t either.

Apparently one cinematic scientist has hit upon a way to fit an entire movie into one image? Howzat? It works something like this.

Take a frame and stretch it vertically while compressing it horizontally. Take the next frame and do it again. And the next and the next until you’ve processed the whole movie. Stand back and look at your work.


(How the hell can I get a job like that?)

A Good Reason to Keep Your Old Automobile

Old cars never had problems like this.

There’s too much not-necessary-for-driving stuff that you can do with cars these days, and few of ’em are any good. At best, many new features serve to distract you from the task at hand: driving the thing competently.

Even stealing cars isn’t what it used to be. With the demise of discrete wiring in favor of networks, in some cases all you need to do is access the network. Used to be you needed to break off a mirror to gain physical access. Jack in with your laptop and command the doors to open, the engine to start…

But now? Make a “phone call” from your laptop.

How long before we see car-botnets controlled from IRC? Or maybe viruses to cause an accelerator to stick? Or brakes to stop braking? Or, more subtly, stability controls to destabilize? Hmmm, cause your ex to seem like s/he’s driving drunk? For a price, of course, cash, please.

Here’s a NY Times article that ought to shake you up. (But I’ll bet it won’t.)

Researchers Show How a Car’s Electronics Can Be Taken Over Remotely



If it’s not needed or wanted then you probably want to get rid of it. A common problem is that sometimes you just don’t know the best way to go about doing that. Here’s a site that might help. And it’s highly entertaining, too.


Usage-Based Billing

An excellent treatment of usage-based billing can be found here:                  [edit: link died]

Last year I paid my ISP a bit under US$600 for my Internet service alone. I’m expecting costs to rise this year, mostly because recent legislation will allow my service provider to add extra charges depending upon the ‘flavor’ of the bits consumed, i.e. Netflix streams. In the face of this, and also over the past year, quality of service has declined perceptibly: I’ve logged more service interruptions and outages.

I’m curious. How much does your service cost? And has your quality of service changed?

Drive With the Power of… Thought?

Can you imagine this? In today’s world of distracted drivers?

Scientists Steer Car with the Power of Thought

Computer Scientists at Freie Universität Couple Brain Waves with Driving Technology – Testing at Former Tempelhof Airport

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The World’s Total CPU Power

What the??? How the heck can anyone derive figures to estimate something so… nebulous?

Find out. The results may, no will surprise you.