Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gordon's Notes: The Net is a forest. It has fires.

Gordon's Notes: The Net is a forest. It has fires.: The first fire I remember was the end of Usenet. Yeah, I know it's technically still running, but it's a faint shadow of the days when I posted about Mosaic for Windows in WinOS2. The Usenet archive nearly vanished when DejaNews failed, but Google rescued it. That was a different Google that the one we know now.

The next fire took out GeoCities. GeoCities was once the third most valuable property on the Net; thirty-eight million web pages died when Yahoo closed it. (Did you know is still around and that it still hosts Tripod? I was shocked.)
What meteor will take out YouTube? (Energy costs?)

PS - this is a good blog. I'll miss seeing it in Google Reader.

George W. Bush’s presidency, in 24 charts

George W. Bush’s presidency, in 24 charts: But in the interest of history, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at Bush’s record, issue by issue, and, of course, in charts.
So many Teabaggers forget that every one of their claimed ills was set in motion during the Bush Presidency. Saying "Obama owns it now!" is like shitting on someone's carpet and walking out of their house saying "You own it now!"

George W Bush was the worst president/presidency in modern history.

We Had No Idea What Alexander Graham Bell Sounded Like. Until Now | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine

We Had No Idea What Alexander Graham Bell Sounded Like. Until Now | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine: Inside the lab, Bell and his associates bent over their pioneering audio apparatus, testing the potential of a variety of materials, including metal, wax, glass, paper, plaster, foil and cardboard, for recording sound, and then listening to what they had embedded on discs or cylinders. However, the precise methods they employed in early efforts to play back their recordings are lost to history.

As a result, says curator Carlene Stephens of the National Museum of American History, the discs, ranging from 4 to 14 inches in diameter, remained “mute artifacts.” She began to wonder, she adds, “if we would ever know what was on them.”
The historic discs bear an uncanny resemblance to modern compact discs. 

Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group

Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility : Scientific Reports : Nature Publishing Group: Finally, we show that one formula determines the uniqueness of mobility traces providing mathematical bounds to the privacy of mobility data. The uniqueness of traces is found to decrease according to a power function with an exponent that scales linearly with the number of known spatio-temporal points. This implies that even coarse datasets provide little anonymity.
 Remember: Your phone is a surveillance device that lets you make calls.

Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers? | ArchDaily

Can We Please Stop Drawing Trees on Top of Skyscrapers? | ArchDaily: There are plenty of scientific reasons why skyscrapers don’t—and probably won’t—have trees, at least not to the heights which many architects propose. Life sucks up there. For you, for me, for trees, and just about everything else except peregrine falcons. It’s hot, cold, windy, the rain lashes at you, and the snow and sleet pelt you at high velocity. Life for city trees is hard enough on the ground. I can’t imagine what it’s like at 500 feet, where nearly every climate variable is more extreme than at street level.

Buffett Mocking Gold Sidesteps Slump As He Bets on Stocks - Bloomberg

Buffett Mocking Gold Sidesteps Slump As He Bets on Stocks - Bloomberg: To illustrate the point, he asked readers to picture the world’s entire gold stock melded together into a cube 68 feet (21 meters) on each side valued at $9.6 trillion at then- prevailing prices. For the same amount, an investor could have purchased all the farmland in the U.S., 16 replicas of Exxon Mobil Corp., and still have about $1 trillion of “walking- around money.”

A century later, the farmland will be producing valuable crops no matter the currency, and dividends from the companies would probably added up to trillions of dollars, Buffett wrote.

The 170,000 metric tons of gold “will be unchanged in size and still incapable of producing anything,” he wrote. “You can fondle the cube, but it will not respond.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Crazy Train: April 16, 2013

Disconnected ramblings for the day:

  • Nobody is going to travel to Mars until a gallon of water makes it there and back. Until we build a canister that keeps those hydrogen and oxygen bonds from being blown apart by radiation, living things will be staying put.
  • Gold is "crashing" today, which means goldbugs have to figure out new rationales (and abandon old ones.) What will they be?
    • Collusion of 'powers'
    • But gold is still preferable because:
      • it's not prone to inflation/deflation (circle one)
      • people still value it for (pick any number)
        • Manufacturing.
        • "It's shiny!"
        • "History!"
        • "Rarity!"
        • Random wackadoodle econ theory
      • Insert rhetorical question
    • Bitcoin
  • Bitcoin reaches prominent discussion just as gold crashes. Why?
    • If gold crash is the result of policy decisions, then lack of central mgmt is central appeal.
    • If the crash is the result of manipulation, then Bitcoin won't experience bubbles because:
      • it can't be manipulated (see: Natural Resources)
    • Bitcoiners keep pointing at the trade price (measured in US dollars, in case anyone wondered), but I think its more important to look at what currency they convert Bitcoins TO: (answer: US dollars and apparently, drugs.)
    • The illicit trades of the world (blood diamonds, sex slaves, drugs, arms) all still use American cash. I think the dollar is still strongest. When Mexican cartels are caught with boatloads of Euros or Yuan, then I'll reexamine this.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bombs in Boston

(Note: This is a rough draft. Please forgive blatant grammar errors.)

Smarter animals run AWAY from things that blow up.
It hasn't been 24 hours, yet we already have the dominant meme by which this event will be remembered: PEOPLE RAN TOWARD THE EXPLOSIONS! AMERICA!

Various versions of this are appearing on FB newfeeds, almost all have been typed (vs shared image macros.) This means the meme has 'velocity' - people are replicating it by raw action instead of a passive one (click-share).

You could use this phenomenon to make a list of people you don't want around you in the event of an actual emergency because they'll be the last ones making clear decisions.

When someone types/shares this meme, what they're saying (remember, all of Facebook is about telling people about YOU!) is: "I'm a hero."

They're not.

You only need to listen to the mobile videos shot during the aftermath. You can hear person after person who runs up saying something like "I'm an EMT!" or "I'm a firefighter!" or "I'm a corpsman!" or "I'm a cop!"

You know, the ones who are actually trained to RESPOND to these situations. But your friends posting this tripe think THEY will be of clear mind - they will rise above and act with calm precision.

No, they'll shit themselves.

Two kinds of people run toward destruction: first-responders and fucking morons validating their own existence. There's only one of those you want touching your injured body.

But why the meme in the first place?

There is nobody to blame. Terrorism? Domestic? Foreign? We don't even have a go-to bogey-man right now. Broad blaming of groups seems to be out of vogue - we prefer our political violence to have a single face instead of considering the kind of inertia of a civil society fracturing at the seams.

Without someone to blame (external) we turn inward and deal with the crippling fear by telling ourselves we'd be stalwart and strong (but most importantly in this meme... NOT DEAD!).

Here's a way to test yourself: look at that picture of the guy with dangling leg remains being pushed in a wheelchair by two bystanders, then ask: Which person am I in this photo? Hint: Not the guy with no legs. You can't even imagine that, so instead you imagine yourself helping, because in that scenario, you still have your legs.

Law enforcement will probably find someone. Then we'll have more image macros about mental health again.

In the event someone sets off a bomb in your vicinity, here are a couple practical things to prepare for:

No, really, stay the fuck out of the way. Nothing is a bigger obstacle to first responders than "helpers" and "heroes." If emergency services personnel ask you to leave, do it. Do NOT decide that your heroism is more important than anything else.

#2: See #1.

While observing #1 and #2, remember to turn on your phone's camera and record. If you're doing video, let it roll as long as you can. Sound is almost more important than a clear video shot.

Last, you will remember none of this as you will probably be in shock.

My $5 prediction: the dude that did this is Irish.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Brain Dump: Dead or Sticking Keys on Yamaha Keyboards

(Update: A Yamaha rep has contacted me directly. Parts should be avail from repair shops - they should not be requiring customers to sell them only as part of a repair.)

Too many companies think their brand is their bottom line.

Turned around, too many consumers think they're a company's bottom line when they're not. What's the saying - your cheapest clients are also your most expensive?

I don't own the premiere model, nor am I an endorser. Should I have to be?

If Honda built great cars, their dealers would go out of business. Because like music instrument retail, car dealerships are not built on sales - they're built on service.

Built-in helplessness.

this is not a good paradigm, especially for musicians who are mostly DIY anyway.

Yamaha's "24x7" is most certainly not. On the day I needed someone, I called at noon only to be told that department was closed for lunch. When I called back an hour later, another recorded message indicated the department was closed for training. No coverage - no voicemail.

So here I sit - knowing *exactly* what I need, but without the precise part #, I can't fix my gear. A service center won't sell the part unless I pay them a 10x markup to put it in, too. Madness.

The premium I still have to "pay" is in time: I'm waiting for a part from a company that salvages used keyboards. Three days for a salvage rubber membrane.

The Problem:
Do you know what this is?

In Yamaha (and Korg) 88-key weighted keyboards, there is a rubber membrane underneath the keys. That membrane has small pegs that are capped with a micro-thin carbon cap. The cap is conductive, and when the key is pressed, the cap contacts the PCB, closes a circuit, and the synth plays a sound.

On one key, the carbon tab lost conductivity (micro fracture?) and didn't close a circuit any longer. It didn't take long to figure it out, thanks to YouTube.

A retailer up the street (Rainbow Electronics) refused to sell me the part, insisting that he also be paid to fix the keyboard, too. Ten day turnaround. In what world does this person live?

The local economy lost a sale AND a relationship AND a music show. These costs, while invisible, are real, and unfortunately, unmeasured, too.

Problem 2: Sticky Keys

On Yamaha (Korg) weighted keyboards, "sticky" keys can be a symptom of a few potential issues:
  • Warping in the keyboard's main bottom board
    • this can be caused by wetness or uneven placement
  • Debris between the counterweight and felt rests
  • Lubricant displacement / dirt buildup
    • Yamaha uses a specific grease that does not harm plastics. (UPDATE: The white grease is Yamaha part # V6274301)
    • Several places require lubrication:
      • Rubber absorbers/stoppers under keys
      • Keypost foot
      •  Hammer sliding mechanism
  • Displaced return spring
  • Broken hammer.
I hope this post helps you.

Today's Takeaways:
  • Salvage warehousing is a lonely trade.
  • Local economies are built on relationships
  • A policy that makes perfect sense internally (restricting parts sales to authorized repair centers) has reverberating consequences that are both invisible and non-intuitive.
  • Do NOT blow compressed air blindly between the keys. You'll blow grease all over everything. Just take a day and open the thing up and clean your keys.