Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Weekly Bits and Pieces - 04 Dec 2013

How do I gather these links? They are the ones I find most interesting during the previous week, and I don't want to lose them. So - I share!
Incoming package!

The technology is available to deliver packages by drone, and that is certainly a much better use for drones than seek and destroy missions. However, the procedural problems might hinder the expansion of this idea into the realm of reality. We'll see. Amazon says they are committed to having this ready as early as 2015. I can wait that long to see if it works. I'm more interested in drones that can save lives.

Some bits of the comet ISON might have survived the close encounter with the sun. Scientists don't have enough data yet, but we'll keep an eye on that.
Three is the charmed number! SpaceX now has a satellite in geosynchronous orbit on its third try.

I love this one. Years ago I read a book called Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, a classic Futurist book where a society defeated poverty by paying everyone the same amount. That won't happen, but the "Swiss are set to vote on whether their country should introduce a basic national income of 2,500 Swiss Francs ($2,800) a month for every adult, regardless of their salary or net worth." In the United States, "the Census Bureau estimates that our total welfare spending is four times the amount that would be needed to lift all Americans currently living in poverty above the poverty line by giving them cash." You can make a lot of arguments about how that will encourage people to not work, but I think that's hogwash. Most people want better than a subsidized minimum lifestyle. So it would cost taxpayers 25% of the current costs to do this in the United State? Is anyone looking at it? (Of course not.)

As much as we like to bash governmental inadequacies (who doesn't?) the website for the Affordable Care Act was just designed to fail. I've designed a few things in my lifetime and I learned very early to start simple and work my way up to more complex programming solutions. It's like the government hired a bunch of beginners to do the job. Sad, really, but I'm not surprised.
It will get better. Even version 1.0 of Microsoft DOS was bad. Let's not even talk about version 1.0 of anything Apple…
CNN Says there are three questions the current administration won't answer about the Affordable Health Care Act. "How many people are on the website?" (I get a metric like this every month for the database I work on.) "How many people are signing up?" (I get one of these numbers, too.) "How broken is the back end?" That's a poorly worded question that usually can't be answered. I think they want to know "how much work remains?" That's tough question for any software system.
Senator Reid allowed some of his staff to keep their federal employee insurance plans instead of switching to the new Affordable Health Care Act. This shouldn't be a big deal, but I promise it will become a political hot potato, because our leaders are like a bunch of school kids fighting on the playground. They forget why they are there.

I can't say much about this interactive chart. It shows the disparity in incomes between the wealthy and less-wealthy. Much as I hate to admit it, the gap widens over the years, especially in the last twenty years or so. However, one point to consider is that US citizens are still among the wealthiest people in the world. For now. Be thankful if you live in the USA. Give back. It's the season, after all!

There's the story of John and Jen Palmer who wrote a negative review of a company after not receiving a product they ordered. Due to a small-print "non-disparagement clause" the company demanded $3,500 from the couple - five years after the original post. Without the means to hire an attorney, the Palmer's credit report plummeted. The non-profit advocacy group Public Citizen took the case and is counter-suing KlearGear. We'll see how this one ends  up. I guarantee one thing, though - I won't buy anything from KlearGear and it isn't the original negative review that impacts that choice.

It might soon be possible to print batteries, pretty much on any surface. How cool is that?
I missed this one when it was published in October, but MIT is working on a low-cost, high-capacity fuel cell that runs on natural gas.
You can make your own cell phone. My buddy is getting his 3D printer soon. Maybe I'll try it.

Pyramids were discovered in Antarctica, though I couldn't find independent confirmation of this. Scientists need to do further study to determine whether the pyramids are man-made or natural.
Archaeologists have uncovered ruins in Jerusalem from a building from the Hasmonean period, the first find of its kind. That's the historical period when the Macabees ruled the city.
Scientists are trying to map the tunnels under Rome.
Underwater researchers in Hawaii found a WWII Japanese sub, scuttled in 1946.

A consortium started building a solar-powered plane in 2003. The plane has 11,628 solar cells and two pilots plan to fly it around the world in 2015, during the day and night. I wonder how much the batteries on the plane weigh.
I have friends who work on stand-alone machines because of the sensitive nature of what they do for the government. Until now, that was enough to keep the machines protected from the nearby networked machines. Now scientists have developed malware that uses the built-in microphones and speakers of standard computers to transmit small amounts of data, including passwords.

PC magazine released their 2013 Holiday Gaming Guide. It's a fun read and includes some PC games as well as console games. I'm not surprised to see Bioshock Infinite and Skyrim. Both are amazing games.

I'm less than an enthusiastic Facebook fan. I started my page simply to post the WWII documents that accompany my book, My Mother-in-law Misadventures. In fact, one of my nieces recently deleted her Facebook page. Now you can un-friend someone and still stay linked. I sort of like that. I might actually change my page to a fan page, though.

You don't need to click. The eagle looks like this.
I don't usually post links to videos, but this eagle in Australia stole a park ranger's camera and flew it for hundreds of miles - filming the journey. How cool is that? Wait for the end of the flight and you'll see the eagle looking at the camera. National Geographic, eat your heart out. I have no idea how they got the camera back, though.
No ugly creature pictures this week. Isn't that nice?

Personal notes:
Thanksgiving was nice. The kitchen sink was clogged and even with the excellent assistance of the Lad and my buddy Rex we couldn't get it clear. The plumber came Friday.
A Doctor had a plumbing problem and the plumber showed up to fix it. After fifteen minutes the problem was solved and the plumber gave the man a bill for $250.
"Two hundred and fifty dollars?" shouted the man. "That's a thousand dollars an hour. I'm a Doctor and I don't even make that much!"
The plumber smiled. "I didn't either when I was a Doctor."

I did buy something on Friday, but I ordered it on-line. I ordered something on Monday, too - a push lawn mower (no motor) and a new cover for my phone. Both will be delivered by Friday. I think I can use the mower for our grass in the winter since it grows so slowly and I don't have to do the hard work of edging and weed-eating.

I do need to get a compost thingy working in the back yard soon. The luffas are almost all ready for harvest. I'll post pictures of them soon! (Really, our only crop of the year. I think I'll just stick with the Farmer's market next year.)

The Lad's car needed repairs over the holiday and he needed to have it back in time to go back to school. Thanks to the mechanics that worked to do that. It cost a lot, but everything does.

My Darling Daughter, the youngest, is struggling a bit with her thesis paper. I understand. We have differing points of view on that. When I did mine I just wanted it good enough to get me out of school. She wants hers to astound and amaze, and it could. Drop a prayer her way if you have a minute.

Send some prayers up for the prisoners in jail and prison during the holidays. It's a tough time for them, too.

Today is our eldest daughter's birthday. She doesn't read my blog, but Happy Birthday anyway! I'd post a picture, but then all the guys who read my blog would want her phone number.

Our second daughter is doing well in Colorado. That's pretty good for a girl who thought you had to travel to see snow. Now snow comes to her! Her hubby has a new motorcycle. Can you drive those in the snow? I have no idea!

Thanks for reading! Have a blessed week!



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