Friday, October 25, 2013

The Green Lantern Movie Got Some Things Right

The movie Green Lantern is running on FX. Lots of people hated it. I didn't hate it but didn't fail to recognize its problems either. I'd still like to see another try at using Green Lantern as a major character and would want to see him in any Justice League movie. One thing I thought they got right was the use of the ring. The catapult catching the ball of energy, the anti-aircraft gun, the big fist hitting Parallax and the emphasis on the importance of willpower all did a pretty good job of reminding me of the comics. It's the sort of thing that would be great to see in a Green Lantern video game. But how would you really give free reign to the imagination of the players? I would like to see a game that came with a key for the player to use a cloud based tool to come up with their own creations for the ring that could then be downloaded to their copy of the game and even shared publicly should the player choose to do so.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Not All Memes Mean Something

I've been seeing a variety of tech pundits and article comments claiming Microsoft is dying for a while now. I've never bought into it and the latest news on Microsoft's earnings wouldn't seem to support it either.

An End to Patent Trolls?

We can only hope that the headline of this Ars Technica article is right. Real patents are necessary for innovation. Overly broad patents are not. Patents held for the sake of hitting people up for licensing fees by people who couldn't build a real produce or write a line of code to save their lives aren't. Those patents hurt real innovators and our economy.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kansas City Chiefs' Tamba Hali leaves extra thousand dollar tip at restaurant - FanSided - Sports News, Entertainment, Lifestyle & Technology - 240+ Sites

Very impressive.

Kansas City Chiefs' Tamba Hali leaves extra thousand dollar tip at restaurant - FanSided - Sports News, Entertainment, Lifestyle & Technology - 240+ Sites

A Debt Ceiling Petition

After the near disasters in 2011 and earlier this month I've come to believe that the only way to avoid this kind of idiocy is to take away the political toy that is the debt ceiling. No political party should be able to threaten the economy of the nation for an instant whether it's to extort concessions from their opponents or to "make a point". We don't have to default to create potential economic problems and it should just not come up. I was surprised to find on the We the People site at that no one had yet thought of this but they hadn't so I created a petition on the site that reads as follows:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO: work with Congress to eliminate the debt ceiling Since the budgetary processes that have been in place since 1974 serve the same purposes as those originally envisioned by the legislators who wrote the 2nd Liberty Bond law in 1917 and also those of the members of Congress who modified it in 1939 to cover all general debt of the United States government the law should be eliminated or superseded by new legislation that would provide long term stability to purchasers of debt of the United States government. The law currently seems suitable only as a political Sword of Damocles that both political parties have used with varying degrees of responsibility. Since that level of responsibility has noticeably decreased in recent history no political party should have this "weapon" available any longer so it should be removed.
If you're interested in signing it the link is here. Cross posted at The Moderate Voice

Thursday, October 10, 2013

(Not So) Solid Ice

While the U.S. government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis are taking up virtually all the media attention other things are happening and should be pointed out. Despite contextually questionable claims by climate change deniers that Arctic ice increased by 29% (Initial figures published on the NSIDC on their web site were incorrect. Rose initially claimed a 60% increase.) from last year that are technically true but leave out that it still leaves the extent of ice up north well short of historical averages, news from the poles isn't all that encouraging if you really pay attention. It is true that compared to last years minimum Arctic ice extent this year's wasn't as bad. But the NSIDC points out:
Overall, 10.03 million square kilometers (3.87 million square miles) of ice were lost between the 2013 maximum and minimum extents. This was the seventh summer that more than 10 million square kilometers of ice extent were lost; all but one of the seven (the summer of 1990) have occurred since 2007. ... September average sea ice extent for 2013 was the sixth lowest in the satellite record. The 2012 September extent was 32% lower than this year’s extent, while the 1981 to 2010 average was 22% higher than this year’s extent. Through 2013, the September linear rate of decline is 13.7% per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average.
NSIDC also discusses another meaningful metric when they report on ice. Thickness.
The pattern of ice thickness for the summer of 2013 is similar to what has been seen in recent years. According to data from the European Space Agency CryoSat-2 radar altimeter, the spring melt season started with an Arctic ice cover thinner than in any recent year. This corroborates thickness information inferred from a calculation of ice age that showed first-year ice, which is thinner and more vulnerable to melt, over a significant part of the Arctic Ocean as the melt season started (see our earlier post).
Then we move to the part that is really beloved by the "skeptics". The Antarctic. It had another record extent in sea ice this year. The details from the NSIDC are:
Antarctic sea ice extent reached 19.47 million square kilometers (7.52 million square miles) on September 22, a record high maximum extent relative to the satellite record, and slightly above the previous record high set last year. This year’s maximum extent was 3.6% higher than the 1981 to 2010 average Antarctic maximum, representing an ice edge that is 35 kilometers (approximately 22 miles) further north on average. Overall, Antarctic September sea ice extent is increasing at 1.1% per decade relative to the 1981 to 2010 average. This increase is likely due to a combination of factors, including winds and ocean circulation. A recent paper by our colleague Jinlun Zhang at the University of Washington concludes that changes in winds are resulting in both more compaction within the ice pack and more ridging, causing a thickening of the pack and making it more resistant to summer melt.
On the other hand there's a new discovery that makes me wonder how well this will hold up. That sea ice in western Antarctica has gouges in it. Gouges that come up into the ice from the bottom and are as tall and wide as the Eiffel Tower. New research hints that these gouges are related to water flow from melting ice. What that might mean to further increases in ice extent is something we'll have to wait and see, though it doesn't bode well for it, I'd think. Cross posted to The Moderate Voice

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Promising Steps in Applications for Graphene

With all of the usual caveats applied, some new discoveries in using graphene membranes hold some promise if they can be scaled up. New configurations of graphene appear to be usable for tunable separation of gases, including carbon dioxide, and water treatment.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Let's Just Strangle the Consumers

Wow. And I thought I didn't like the Republican list of demands to raise the debt ceiling before. Now I find out that another little goodie they wanted was to kill net neutrality. Is there any pro-consumer policy they don't hate?

Trolls of the Patent Variety

One of the greatest threats to many tech startups are the trolls. Not the comments trolls but the patent trolls. Vermont Public Radio reports on a bipartisan effort to do something about them and hopefully make it possible for people who actually work in technology to develop new services and technologies. Cross posted at The Moderate Voice