Wise Guys on WHO Radio - April 16, 2016
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
In the news this week
The DoD says cyberattacks are now a threat on par with missiles themselves
We're looking at you, Iran and North Korea
Boeing/Lockheed "United Launch Alliance" is making job cuts
New competition has tightened the rocket-launch market
It would be a good thing if all citizens thought about science more often, but "citizen scientists" is a clever title to offer people for participating in an NYU study of baby sleep patterns. The study asks parents to record their baby's sleeping patterns in a widely-used smartphone app -- something many parents were doing with the app already, but by aggregating the data, they can turn it from micro-information (used by the parents) into a macro-study with far more data points than the researchers were ever going to get by handing out paper surveys.
The National Weather Service will kindly stop shouting now
They are at long last changing the format of most of their reports to conventional sentence case, rather than the ALL CAPS format that had been in place since the teletype days. The practice was a technological artifact -- it was necessary when there wasn't sufficient means to send mixed-case messages. But now there is, and since sentence-case messages are easier to read and comprehend, this is a good change.
Microsoft is reportedly testing the use of QR codes within the dreaded "Blue Screen of Death". They're supposedly in line for inclusion with the "Anniversary Update" to Windows 10 that is expected this summer (which, by the way, is probably the last shot anyone will have remaining to avoid the upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 to 10).
Is the addition of the QR code a good thing? Yes, on balance, it probably is. But here are some other thoughts:
- The addition of a QR code might help people actually find out the source of the problem. The only problem with that is that so few people know how to actually use a QR code.
- The emoticon is a pleasant way of humanizing the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) a little bit, and people like when that happens. It's like a good 404 page -- they're always necessary, but the people who want to show they care about their website visitors come up with funny and/or utilitarian ones.
- Related: The Windows 10 Anniversary Update announcement
Street-smart social media
A radio play-by-play announcer quits with an online posting. There are so many mistakes made here: The announcement includes misspellings and takes place in a public forum while burning all bridges along the way. These things persist, you know. Something like this becomes the #1 search result in your next job interview. To anyone who doesn't know the back story, this looks like sabotage is your M.O.
Gadget of the week
Build an Alexa device with Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi is a super-cheap computer processor, and Amazon is giving out instructions to make something of it. It's a very low-cost experiment, well within the reach even of hobbyists, and Amazon appears to be betting that someone will use it to create something that will draw people heavily into their "ecosystem".
Dispatches from the flying-car future
Lab-grown diamonds are on the way -- in a big way
Fundamentally indistinguishable from organic diamonds, they don't come with any of the ethical baggage and offer creative cutters options they didn't have before
Iowa tech this week
Due to printing problems, the Des Moines Register isn't distributing an April 16th printed edition. As pointed out by a former staffer, printing problems used to activate backup plans -- today, it would appear, the answer is to just tell people to access the online edition for free. But if they're really equivalent substitutes for one another, then why go to the trouble of printing and distributing the print edition at all? And if they are not equivalents, then shouldn't a press failure be important enough that some kind of emergency plan can be rolled out? Either the print copy matters or it does not. This response seems to suggest that, institutionally, the latter belief is in the driver's seat.
MidAmerican Energy now targets 80% of power generation from wind
They expect to get there by the end of the decade, putting Iowa light-years ahead of everywhere else
Listen again on-demand
- Podcast of this episode - segment 1 (A kinder, gentler Blue Screen of Death)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 2 (No print edition of the paper today -- does it matter?)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 3 (Iowa leaps ahead in wind energy)
- Podcast of this episode - segment 4 (The National Weather Service stops shouting)