25 January 2014
Astronomy, Black Holes, Hubble Space Telescope, Professor Stephen Hawking, The Register, Theoretical Physics
I’ve never been aware of any call for consideration of theoretical physics in the realm of local government. But it was a topic that I had a fringe interest in back in my youth, before I realized you have to have a mastery of calculus to actually do anything with it. Likewise, my past dabbling in computer technology marketing (calculus not required, thank you very much) brought me close to some folks at the online British IT rag The Register. That’s where I found this article about Professor Stephen Hawking‘s latest musing on the nature of black holes.
Professor Hawking has been grappling with the idea that black holes aren’t quite as static as we’d imagined them. The classic, suited-for-TV-and-movies model, was that black holes are a dark point of super-nothingness that once you get too close to, it’s the end of days (and time). That model is rebuffed by astronomical evidence. As we’ve found lately, black holes are surrounded by a giant electro-magnetic haze that’s generated by the quantum warping of matter. Such features are readily visible to the Hubble Space Telescope. (I wonder, what if a black hole is out in space, away from matter. Does it still have an EM cloud about it?)
Hawking’s latest argument is that black holes do not have an event horizon, which in the classic model was the gravitational line that once matter crosses, it’s forever trapped in the black hole’s clutches. According to The Register, Hawking thinks it’s an ” ‘apparent horizon’ made up of space-time that’s fluctuating too wildly to have a fixed boundary as such – leading to a grey hole, if you will, instead.” While the term “grey hole” loses a lot of the mystery and intrigue that the term “black hole” evokes, it’s good to have the model evolve.
Coming back to Earth, here’s Pink Floyd in 1968 playing “Astronomy Domine.” Enjoy.
9 January 2014
Slashdot, Wearable Technology
So of course Slashdot has a poll: “I think wearable computing will take off…”
Which leads to a natural question for you, my faithful reader. When do you think wearable computing will take off?
8 January 2014
Apple, Apple ecosystem, Apple Inc, DRM, Free Software, GNU/Linux, Mac, Technologists, Wearable Technology
Call a sign of growing old. Call it a sign of a growing curmudgeonly nature. Call it what you will—I don’t understand this push for so-called wearable technology. What I’m really saying is, I don’t understand the value that this will add. How will it be sufficiently better than what tablets and smartphones can give us, and how will it be better enough to make us want to add it to our repertoire of devices? Especially when these super-powerful and super-portable devices already cost us quite enough time and capital.
The spate of media coverage of the CES show that I saw today on MacRumors.com — having been largely unaware that it was happening at all — got me thinking about this. Obviously the push toward this wearable paradigm is nothing new; the aforementioned Mac rumors site has a whole section on the much-rumored iWatch. But I’ve still got some questions about it.
One reason I’ve always liked Apple products is that they integrate a lot of features and abilities, and then get out of your way, allowing you to get on with your life. Sometimes you do need to be able to more deeply interact, but the vast majority of people do not. That’s the value-add of Apple products. Especially if you’re in the ”Apple ecosystem,” everything works quite nicely together. That means you don’t mind the lock-in to the Apple ecosystem and the constraints of DRM and higher price tags that come with it. As someone who bleeds in six colors, it’s hard to object to that. (He says as he dictates to his iPhone…)
Come to think of it, a smart watch with voice recognition capability that is able to sync with the free* services I do use maybe helpful. But I still have to be convinced. Again, what is the value in adding another expensive toy that may break or be lost?
This goes to show that I am not in the bleeding edge 1% of technological adopters. But as a Mac user since 1987, I’ve hardly been one at all. Let me think back to the wide plethora of games and entertainment titles we had on the Mac in the 1990s… Yeah. Not so much. (Note that at least one person apparently disagrees with that. And admittedly, things did start to get better after Marathon. If you’ve never heard of it, a company called Bungie created Marathon. It was descended from Pathways Into Darkness, and was the progenitor of a little game called Halo.)
So, technologists, what is the value-add? That’s what I would like to know.
* Mostly free, anyhow. What’s truly free? Aye, little, if anything. Google makes kajillions off of advertising. Microsoft made theirs out of licensing and buying (and copying) other people’s ideas. Apple found success in hardware that was inexorably linked to its software. Et cetera and so on. Linux is more mostly free than any other system, but even the hardware it runs on costs something, even if it has free BIOS and bootloaders and runs a truly free GNU/Linux. It’s a bitter cycle.
25 October 2013
Humboldt Park, Milwaukee County, Milwaukee County Budget (2014)
So here’s the official announcement of my budget town hall for my constituents to tell me what’s on their minds.
SUPERVISOR HAAS TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETING OCTOBER 30th
Neighbors Invited to Share Input on Milwaukee County’s 2014 Budget
Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas will hold a town hall meeting on October 30 at the Humboldt Park Pavilion. District 14 residents are encouraged to attend and express their views on the County’s 2014 Budget, including the proposed pool closures and the MCTS bus contract award.
The meeting will be held on:
Wednesday, October 30 at 6:30 p.m.
Humboldt Park Pavilion
3000 South Howell Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207
24 October 2013
Germany, Nein Quarterly
According to this blog engine’s Stat-O-Meter, this blog had its first visit from Germany.
Somehow, I feel vindicated.
23 October 2013
Apple Macintosh, Google Chrome, Mac OS X, Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks, Mavericks
The latest version of Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks is on my iMac and running smoothly. The only real change I’ve noticed is a slight increase in speed of Google Chrome, which is my primary browser, along with the Finder. Other applications seem snappier as well. My long time gripe (unspoken till now) about Macs was that shy of being fresh out of the box, they seem to lack a certain snappiness when switching between applications. Perhaps it’s just using the same machine too long between clean installations of the system software. Perhaps I’ll use the savvy instructions from Ars Technica entitled “How to make your own bootable OS X 10.9 Mavericks USB install drive”.