A while ago, when Raspberry Pi systems were hard to find, I bought a cheap ARM based system called an Inovato Quadra to see what it could do. It doesn’t have the GPIO options of the R-Pi, but it has USB, HDMI and Wi-Fi built in. With the optional USB dongle shown it gains faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well.
Ironically, these are now sold out (they are selling them as part of a HamClock bundle rather than standalone). For those who already have one (or, should they become available again), there were a number of cooling designs online that placed large fans under the case, but they made the footprint much larger and much of the air flow from the fans was going to blow up the outsides of the case. So, I went hunting on Amazon for some better cooling options…
Along with announcing a renaming of the company (to Meta), Facebook also showed off some of its thinking about their new virtual world concept, which they call the metaverse.
This is not a new concept. Indeed, Second Life has been offering most of what they describe for many years now, and, obviously, there is also the fictional Oasis from the Ready Player One novel and movie, which goes well beyond anything Facebook / Meta have talked about so far.
Just what are the challenges here though? Why has Second Life not been able to become a mainstream way of interacting, especially in the last 18 months while we have been trapped at home in the real world. Can Meta make this concept something billions use.
One of the included services the Taycan comes with is unlimited, free 30 minute sessions on Electrify America, the charging network that Volkswagen are building as part of their retribution for dieselgate. As early Tesla Model S and X owners will attest to, free rapid charging makes road trips even better. Half an hour on a 150kW charger should be enough to get the car back up to 80% in most cases. On a 350kW charger, if you can find one, it will be more than you need.
Sounds great doesn’t it? Finally, a network to rival Tesla’s awesome super=charger network, backed by vehicle manufacturers so the experience with their cars will be as seamless as Tesla owners are used to: pull up, plug in and charge. And, yes, that really is how simple it is. We’ve rented a Tesla Model X twice now, once in the UK and once here in California. In both countries the experience was that simple. The navigation took us to the charger location, we plugged in (after a short wait on a couple of occasions) and that was it. No cards, no apps. Just plug in & charge.
Do you know what personal information it is important to protect? Have you ever thought about what could happen if people manage to piece together the various bits of information about you that are stored in various databases or filing cabinets to create a more complete picture?
More specifically, most people in the US know not to share their Social Security Number with people at random. How about your driver’s license number, or state ID card number? Your passport number?
I’ll admit, I am typically slow to update to the new versions of Mac OS X, mostly out of fear of what peripherals I have that might stop working completely, or require me to jump through hoops to get working again. In the case of Mojave, the risk was my venerable Fujitsu document scanner, an S1500M, which I love and since it is still working perfectly I am loath to even consider replacing (even more so since I’ve been told that newer ScanSnap devices have a faulty license manager on the software that causes headaches at every update). Back to Mojave… I checked the interwebs for information, and on the Fujitsu site I found this statement:
ScanSnap S1500/S1500M does not support macOS Mojave. There are no plans for adding support in the future since the support for ScanSnap S1500/S1500M has already ended.
Fujitsu Global Support
Not promising, and right now we enter the craziness of tax season here in the US, the scanner gets more use than at any other time of the year.
On the way home tonight on the ferry discussion turned to Clippercard, the SF Bay Area’s NFC-based transit payment card, and some of the strange limitations it has. What followed was a collection of ideas for how to improve it, some quite practical and others less so.
Here’s a few of my favorite’s, and while I don’t expect the folks at Clippercard to implement any of these, it is fun to think about what could be done with a card like this.
Despite increasing coverage of cases where personal information is stolen, often en masse from large companies, as well as new legislation attempting to limit how much personally identifying information (PII) companies collect to just what they actually need, I am still encountering places that are clearly asking more than they need, and providing no information about how they will protect the information they collect.
I’ve written a few threaded tweets on this subject this week, the first prior to reading about the special event Facebook held to tell journalists all about the actions they are taking to limit the spread of fake news, or, as I prefer to call it, lies, conspiracy theories and propaganda. That event turned into a PR disaster, but it has revealed a lot more about their thinking and apparent lack of either understanding or commitment to fixing the problem. Tweets, even threaded ones, are not a great place to write detailed thoughts on a subject as complex and important as this, so I am writing it here.
A week ago today, I was up at 6:30am as normal making lunch for my youngest to take to her pre-school. Typically, when I get to the cooking phase I ask Alexa to turn on the “counter” lights, allowing me to see the stove top without using the high wattage incandescent lights in the hood (aside: I must see if I can get LED replacements for those yet). Somewhat surprisingly, she sat for a few seconds and then said that the Insteon hub the lights were connected to wasn’t responding. That happens sometimes, and I get the Alexa app to search for new devices again and it sorts itself out. Only my phone was still upstairs, so I walked over, switched the lights on myself and forgot about it. Continue reading →
Our local, city owned, electricity utility has been working on a project to upgrade all our electricity meters to smart meters. For those that have not heard of these before, a smart meter is essentially the same as a modern digital electricity meter (so none of the moving parts of the classic electricity meter) with the addition of a radio that allows it to send data back to the utility periodically.
In most cases, they record the meter’s value every 15 minutes and then upload blocks of data to the utility periodically.