Blog Post #361:  It sure is HOT in Texas (Global Warming)

Blog Post #361:  It sure is HOT in Texas (Global Warming)

Taken from:  https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/what-does-climate-change-mean-texas

Okay, it is HOT in Texas.  Not a new concept. But maybe it is HOTTER in Texas!!!

This article suggests global warming is going to continue in Texas with these problems:

  • Drought – major dry periods
  • Heat Waves – more days over 100 degrees
  • Flooding and Downpours – but … when it rains it POURS
  • Sea level rise – affecting the Texas coast (maybe not as much as the eastern seaboard, but enough)

The article states:

“Unfortunately, it applies to climate change in Texas as well. With a super-sized state, the impacts of climate change are bigger and badder than in the other 49. In fact, Texas experienced 75 weather and climate disasters between 1980 and 2015, each of which produced at least a billion dollars in losses (across the states in which they impacted), more than any other state.

Here’s what global warming means for the Lone Star State. In other words, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Now global warming has been discussed by smarter minds than mine.  There are facts and figures and projections all over the board. Some suggest that global warming is just a periodic trend – give us a few more years and we’ll be in a global cooling period (maybe some significant number of years).  Or … if we don’t do something soon, the ice caps at the north and south pole will melt. With the melting ice caps, New York, Boston, Miami and other cities right on the coast will disappear under seawater. Food crops will dry up (or will have to be grown in Norway and Alaska).  Cacao and vanilla may have trouble growing in their current locations.

Recently I’ve written about using renewable energy resources.  Some countries are already at 100% renewable energy and others are close – and the United States is quite a distance behind.  Even Australia which has abundance solar energy is not harnessing that energy.


So … maybe there is a chance we can change our lives and our usage of energy to help stem global warming – maybe we need to think, talk and act on it sooner rather than later!

 

Bruce

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Blog Post #360:  Pass me the (Norwegian) Bananas!!

Blog Post #360:  Pass me the (Norwegian) Bananas!!

Taken from:  https://www.thelocal.no/20161003/why-norways-farmers-will-benefit-from-climate-change

Well, maybe not bananas, but Norwegian farmers are having longer and longer growing seasons.  

This article states:

Tore Furevik of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research said that the good crop yields are confirming what climate models have predicted. ”

“We have already observed a longer growing season in Norway; spring comes earlier and the summer and autumn last longer. We see this in the temperature measurements,” Furevik said.”

While the higher temperatures brought on by climate change generally have a negative impact on food production for the rest of the world, Norway is experiencing the opposite. ”

“Norway is among the countries where one sees the greatest positive effect of climate change with a longer growing season,” Furevik said.”

“Although increased precipitation also can give the farmers challenges, we can nevertheless see that the longer growing season gives more positive than negative effects on agriculture. But the harvest will obviously vary from year to year, and some years can experience extreme rainfall that will lead to particularly vulnerable periods,” he said.:”

 

So, global warmth seemingly will push farther north with longer growing seasons.  It also will affect other crops – may be negatively. Seemingly about 70% of all the cacao (i.e. chocolate beans) are grown in western Africa (Ghana  and Ivory Coast) and global warming is predicted less growing areas for chocolate!! (Hmm … since chocolate might be in shorter supply in the future, I better go buy it up and save it now!!!)

(And … vanilla too!!!)

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #359:  Father’s Day – a tongue-in-check look!!

Blog Post #359:  Father’s Day – a tongue-in-check look!!

Taken from:  https://www.cnet.com/news/fathers-day-list-of-all-the-tech-my-kids-have-wrecked-ipad-nintendo-switch/

Okay a light look at Father’s Day today!!!  Ah yes, Father’s Day! Hmm … in the past, yes, Father’s Days generally came with a tie (I did wear ties most days when I was a professor – but I preferred the funny ones, Looney Tunes, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and sports (Scooby Doo playing baseball, St. Louis Cardinals, Bugs Bunny as Brett Favre).  I also have golf ties, seasonal ties like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, even Easter (with bunnies and eggs) and flag ties for those patriotic days.

I also got cards – and I also got to take my family to dinner someplace (amount went on my credit card, but dads are also known as Family ATM machines!!).

In the article today, the author talks about Father’s Day in a different light – how his children have destroyed his technology items!!

Here is an excerpt:
“My children have destroyed more video games than I care to count.

“I’ve spent a significant part of my working life writing about video games, so as you might expect, I own a lot of them. The vast majority of the TV we consume is now streamed digitally, but video games are the last bastion of physical media.”

“Some, like poor old Splatoon, were flat-up snapped in two. Most got the “used as makeshift frisbees” treatment. Others were used as surfboards on my nice, scratchy wooden floorboards.”

“Let me tell you, nothing beats waking up in the morning to find your favourite video game disc data down on the floor. You know the scratches are there if you dare to look. A waking nightmare.”

But in particular was the destruction of the iPad 2:  The author writes:
“Dear iPad Mini 2, I’d like to thank you for your service.

“When I needed help making my kid sit on the potty during toilet training, you were there for me. During three-hour drives from Sydney to Canberra, you kept my children occupied with your myriad games and Netflix app. When my children woke up at some ungodly hour and I needed an extra hour of sleep or I would literally and actually die, you provided respite.

“You fought well. You stood up well to the punishment of everyday life in a household with two young boys. When accidentally dropped onto hard wooden floors, you dusted yourself off. When yanked off the charger like a misbehaving dog on a leash, you sucked it up like a champion.

“But even the boldest warriors have their limits. iPad Mini 2, you did well. Two months ago, when I tried to charge you for the last time, you started back up for a minute … then died. You never stirred again.

“Rest well, my friend. Rest easy. You’ve earned this.”

While I’ve been into technology a long time, my children were around for the TRS-80; Commodore 64; and early home PC’s (even the ones with dial-up internet access).  Our children grew up on technology and are (not maybe) more technological than their father now – but not the same as the article’s author.

So, how are you doing this Father’s Day?  (As I am writing this two days before the big day, I anticipate I will NOT get a tie this year – but I will get a card – and I will be able to buy dinner for my local family!!!)

Bruce

 

 

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Blog Post #358:  Closing a loophole!!

Closing a loophole!!

Taken from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/13/technology/apple-iphone-police.html

In the past few years, law enforcement and phone manufacturers have done an intricate dance about security, privacy and public safety.

In particular, Apple, the maker of the iPhone has said that a phone is a private device, and even if the user is a suspected criminal (innocent until proven guilty), the phone (or iPhone) is private.  In a case with a mass execution in San Bernardino California, the FBI wanted the phone to see if the suspected killer was working with others – or had texted others or had other evidence on his phone relating to the incident.

The article states:

Apple has long positioned the iPhone as a secure device that only its owner can open. That has led to battles with law enforcement officials who want to get information off them, including a well-publicized showdown with the F.B.I. in 2016 after Apple refused to help open the locked iPhone of a mass killer.”

“The F.B.I. eventually paid a third party to get into the phone, circumventing the need for Apple’s help. Since then, law enforcement agencies across the country have increasingly employed that strategy to get into locked iPhones they hope will hold the key to cracking cases.”

“Now Apple is closing the technological loophole that let authorities hack into iPhones, angering police and other officials and reigniting a debate over whether the government has a right to get into the personal devices that are at the center of modern life.”

So, Apple comes down on the user side – it is a private communication device.  And the government says something like for public safety we need to find out if this person worked alone, or was part of a larger terrorist cell.

So – does the government have a right to get into personal (electronic / technology based) devices – even if it saves lives?  Or is the individual protected from government interference? For the time being, Apple has made their point. Will the government challenge that?

Bruce

 

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Blog Post #357:  Just a boring blog post today

Blog Post #357:  Just a boring blog post today

Taken from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/06/14/tesla-in-a-tunnel-elon-musk-to-build-125-mph-underground-transit-line-from-ohare/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.fb4ac64ff734

Okay, not quite ‘boring’ as in not-exciting; but ‘boring’ as boring a tunnel.  In this case, the tunnel will go from O’Hare airport to downtown Chicago at speeds up to 125 miles per hour!!!  

The article states:

Musk’s firm, the Boring Company, won a four-company competition to build and operate the underground loop.  The skates, according to a fact sheet from the company, would probably run every 30 seconds, 20 hours per day, the company said. The skates would be battery-powered and “autonomous,” of course, meaning no driver.

“The project will be entirely privately financed, Musk’s company said. The operating firm will keep the revenue collected from passengers and any revenue from concessions. The fare would be about $25, less than the average $45 taxi trip but more than Chicago’s Blue Line route from O’Hare.

So, what’s not to love?  A trip from O’Hare (one of the busiest airports in the world) to downtown at about 60% of the cost of a taxi and about 4 times as fast as a taxi (plus it will run about every 30 seconds!!).  

Tesla / Musk is trying to prove the concept that tunneling can make sense (and maybe make ‘cents’ too).  Subways are so twentieth century as are taxis. Dream big!!

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #356:  Anniversary

Blog Post #356:  Anniversary

Taken from:  https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/anniversary

Today is our anniversary!!!  (I was going to write today is ‘my’ anniversary which is true, but in terms of a wedding anniversary it takes TWO people).

We have been married forty-four years – 44!!!  WOW. For 62.8% of my life, I have been married to Connie.  You know – that is pretty significant!!!

Are we the same people as got married 44 years ago in Mason City Iowa?  No. We’ve gone through raising and loving two children; loving five grandchildren (I love the comment “If I know grandchildren would be so much fun, we would have had them first”); several jobs; several moves; getting a doctorate; working; traveling – and LOVING each other.  

I truly think I am more in love with Connie now that I was then (and, I was ‘head-over-heads’ in love then).  

Yes, I’m not the man she married – and she is not the woman I married.  Older, hopefully wiser, more experienced.

It was probably something like this:

“I, Bruce, take thee,Connie, to be my wedded wife to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I pledge thee my faith.”

We have had almost all of those – maybe now ‘richer’ but in those early years ‘poorer’; we’ve had sickness – Connie’s cancer; Bruce’s aorta surgeries; for better (mostly) and some days for worse (fortunately not all that many)).

There have been fights – and there have been great (very great) times – and very special times.  

Would I do it again?  YES (as they say “in a New York second” – which seems to be faster than a second elsewhere).  

Happy Anniversary Connie – here’s to many more!!!

Bruce

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Blog Post #355:  Look who took a candid picture!!!

Blog Post #355:  Look who took a candid picture!!!

Taken from: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/30/technology/google-clips-photography/index.htmlhttp://money.cnn.com/2018/03/30/technology/google-clips-photography/index.html

Okay, here is a concept – a camera placed on a table or someplace and it captures candid pictures.  It might take a lot of pictures, or just a few, but the ones it considered “candid” and “random” will make it onto storage.  

The author of the article doesn’t have pets (cat – or maybe playful kittens; dogs – or cute puppies); but does have children – so there is a great candid opportunity for taking the kids being kids.

While maybe not quite perfect in selecting the candid pictures, the author wrote this:

“The new $249 gadget, released in February, automates much of the job of a certain kind of photographer. You place the 2-inch high white square on a surface, preferably someplace frequented by children or pets. It automatically captures any “candid” scenes it determines are worthwhile with its wide-angle lens.”

“I spent a week with the camera, planting it on countertops, floors and shelves. Unfortunately my cat and bunny both passed away last year, so Clips only had children to work with. Luckily, my children are extremely good looking.”

“Even so, the resulting photos and videos had a common, soulless look to them. The wide-angle meant they were busy, with too much in focus and no appealing composition.”

“Essentially, Clips combines the hands-off approach of a surveillance camera with the visual style of a surveillance camera.”

Well, not quite a ringing endorsement – “soulless look to” the picture; the ‘hands-off approach of a surveillance camera with the visual style of a surveillance camera”.   But, if you are looking for the true random picture – this might just work for you.

The article also states:

“The software looks for children, animals, and faces, preferably within three-to-eight feet of the lens. Clips likes movement, but tries to avoid blurry photos and can tell when something is blocking the lens, like the hand of a curious child. It learns the faces of the people you save the most and takes more pictures of them. It is programmed to have a preference for happy, smiling faces.”

I was trying to think of places and times a camera like this might be nice.  I was at a wedding last weekend – and sure the photographers were trying to get good candid pictures.  Maybe a camera on top of DJ’s stand might be a good place to get candid pictures from the dance floor.

When we visit our daughter’s house, the girls run to “Papa”.  A camera in the right place might capture that random, candid moment.  

What do you think??

 

Bruce

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Blog Post #354:  Cheaper Car Batteries?

Blog Post #354:  Cheaper Car Batteries?

Taken from: https://electrek.co/2018/06/09/tesla-battery-energy-density-cost-breakthroughs/

One of the extra expenses in electric cars is the battery cost.  General Motors is paying $145 for a kilowatt hour for their electronic vehicles.  Tesla is closing in on $100 for a kilowatt hour – a 36% decrease in costs for a kilowatt hour.  Considering the total costs of batteries in an electric car – a significant decrease in battery costs would make the vehicles more affordable.

This article suggests that:

“Elon Musk is generally careful not to use the term “breakthrough” when describing advancements in battery technology but he has used it this week to talk about Tesla’s latest advancements in battery energy density and cost.

“Tesla’s CEO even gave us a pretty good idea of the automaker’s current battery costs.

“One of the automaker’s most important goal is to achieve a battery pack cost of $100 per kWh.

“At that cost, the battery pack isn’t a bottleneck to achieve price parity with gas-powered cars, which would make any of Tesla’s vehicles even more competitive.

“As for the cost at the pack level, Musk sees Tesla achieving that important price point of $100 per kWh for the overall battery pack in less than two years.

“Musk also added that he sees Tesla achieving a 30% improvement in volumetric energy density within 2 to 3 years using current proven technology that “needs to be scaled and made reliable.”

“Such an improvement in volumetric energy density would mean that Tesla could, for example, fit 130 kWh of energy capacity in its current Model S and Model X 100 kWh battery packs and push the range of those vehicles over 400 miles on a single charge.

Taking this concept a step farther, cheaper batteries can work in a lot of things.  That is a good thing.

Would you be interested in an electric vehicle?  In a Tesla vehicle? What is your break point for a new car?

What do you think?

Bruce

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Blog Post #353: Car Dashboards for the future?

Blog Post #353: Dashboards for the future?

Taken from: https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/future-car-technology/

 

While this article highlights lots of new ideas, I’ll pick the ones that I like (after all, it is my blog!!!)

Augmented Reality Heads-up Display:

This incorporates information on your windshield – such as speed, GPS for turns, information on gas stations, restaurants and more.  The article states:
Having augmented reality display on a car windscreen would add a lot of functionality to the car. We would be able to see information like speed, navigation details and even the name of an incoming call with minimalistic designs on our windscreens.

Batteries:  

Okay, electric cars will need lots of batteries (especially for longer trips).  This concept is to make the body with batteries (disguised as body parts – door panels, roof panel). The article comments on this:

As batteries used in existing electric cars are bulky and heavy, manufacturers have to find a suitable place to put the large amount of batteries, and at the same time, ensure that the car is well balanced throughout. What will be really cool is to have batteries hidden in plain sight by replacing the cosmetic parts of a car.

Self-healing paint:

So that scratch in the grocery store parking lot is ugly – well, with self-healing paint it disappears in a matter of time.  Again, the article shares this thought:
Self-healing paint has been around for some time now, but somehow hasn’t been implemented in consumer cars yet. Whatever the case may be, this is one cool technology – surface scratches will magically disappear after just a few minutes and your car will look like how it once was.

The article ends with this statement:

Technological advancements have certainly surpassed our expectations of what can be integrated into cars. However, some of these advanced features we have looked at may come with hefty price tags. Nonetheless, we can still hope for a time where technology becomes more efficient and cheaper, allowing for all these cool and futuristic features to be implemented in cars of every price range.”

 

What would you like to see in your future vehicle!!!

 

Bruce

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Desalination Issues

Blog Post #352:  Desalination Issues

Taken from: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-dont-we-get-our-drinking-water-from-the-ocean/ce

For years I’ve been waiting for a cheap(er) way to desalinate seawater.  I view this as one of the last frontiers in global change.

Can you imagine with me – the global change with desalination of seawater?  Deserts (like Mojave in California; Saudi Arabia could bloom; the Sahara would be green.  That could be a major economic change. One thing that all humans need is food. So, a place like Saudi Arabia can pump oil – but doesn’t have enough water (but has seawater along its coasts).  What if desalination was cheap and Saudi Arabia could have an abundance of water? They could become the next ‘Imperial Valley’ of crops and produce.

But, this article explains:

Even with all of the water in Earth’s oceans, we satisfy less than half a percent of human water needs with desalinated water.* We currently use on the order of 960 cubic miles (4,000 cubic kilometers) of freshwater a year, and overall there’s enough water to go around. There is increasing regional scarcity, though.
“So why don’t we desalinate more to alleviate shortages and growing water conflicts?
“The problem is that the desalination of water requires a lot of energy. Salt dissolves very easily in water, forming strong chemical bonds, and those bonds are difficult to break. Energy and the technology to desalinate water are both expensive, and this means that desalinating water can be pretty costly.”

The expense is significant.  But with technology (although I don’t have a clue how it would be done), I anticipate that some enterprising company will find a way to break that chemical bond between salt and water cheaply.  

We have talked about disruptive technologies before, but I think desalination of seawater will happen (maybe not in my lifetime), and will really be a ‘game changer’ for this blue planet.  (Of course, that might not be the right environment case as we would end up with mountains of salt on the shorelines of the world!!)

What do you think?

Bruce

 

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