Thursday, May 31, 2012

Progression 2 Step, The Great Format Wars

This wonderful graphic, courtesy of the NY Times, accompanies a terrific article titled Daddy, What Were Compact Discs?, a whimsical tour through the various skeins of tech we used to hold music, images, text and god knows what else while moving from analog to the Net over the past 30+ years.

All in all, the transition to the web whereby we store and retrieve all of our content is a good thing but 33lp records played on a really good stereo system still sound the best to me. (Turntables of that era along with today's models are outrageous examples of exotic and cool looking hardware without a doubt.) With luck, tech like this will never die, just like that of radio, a medium that will never die as well. :) Seen below are two examples of esoteric turntables able to brings warm cackles to any audiophile's heart.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Incendiary Words

Smart Planet comes through again, this time with a post titled Top Keywords that Homeland security use to spy on you.

Obviously, neural nets are being use here to the extreme. The problem with using this tech lies in the difficulty of extracting the real meaning of these words when used in context, a goodly portion of which we all have said in conversations with others from time to time, either face to face or in blogs, emails, phone calls or social sites, the primary places where surveillance of this type takes place. Without question, we are being surveilled against but, as often stated in BRT, this type of 24/7 surveillance should be universal and applicable to all, not just reserved for agencies like Homeland Security, an agency who's unfortunate title uncomfortably reminds one of repressive regimes like Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany and North Korea.

The music of Pan

Seems music and tech have been inexorably intwined for millennia but researchers have discovered the connect extends nearly as far back as the emergence of homo sapiens, something most interesting to say the least.

Scientists led by Thomas Higham of the University of Oxford in England reported last week that improved radiocarbon tests determined that animal bones found with the flutes were 42,000 to 43,000 years old. This is close to the time when the first anatomically modern humans were spreading into Central Europe, presumably along the Danube River valley.

A writer's ambition should be to trade a hundred contemporary readers for ten readers in ten years' time and for one reader in a hundred years' time. - Arthur Koestler

The ancient craftsman who made this should be proud. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Reaching 900

900 posts, I still can't believe it. 900 blurbs is quite a number one must admit. Something yours truly never thought possible but the subject matter is simply memorizing just as light memorizes a moth in enticing it to fly endlessly around it during a hot summer night. For 5 years, BRT has thrived and will continue to do so thanks to you, my loyal readers, who actually like to read the musings of someone who is endlessly fascinated with how reality works and how science and tech enable us to see these inner workings in ways impossible to imagine just a few years ago.

To me, this quote says it all.
The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.. - Einstein

Sunday, May 20, 2012


We had a beloved neighbor who had to go to a nursing home, hence, her house went on the market. Being that we are in a depression, her home has not sold for months, which, in an interesting way, shows what happens when man's not around, as her property has become a bird sanctuary with songs and sounds emanating from her environs at a level bordering on the astonishing. Like the DMZ in Korea, it goes to show why earth doesn't need us when one sees how rapidly nature takes over when we leave the scene. Something to consider, don't you think?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Where the Wild Things Are

Maurice Sendak, like Roald Dahl, wrote children's books that were real as imagined danger, uncertainty and fear comprise a large part of childhood as everyone knows. Sendak's stories and illustrations simply are amazing, something yours truly never tires of re reading from time to time when one wants to revisit one's childhood from the "safe" perspective of being an adult. 

Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is another gem whereby dangers lurk in the pursuit of a cherished prize offered by the sly host, Willie Wonka, the purveyor of the finest chocolate in the world. 

This quote says it all in why books like these matter...

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Foundation's Edge

When looking at this outrageous tech whereby ordinary objects like door knobs, sofas and water could become smart, Isaac Ashmov's Foundation's Edge comes to mind whereby starships were controlled by hands, something somewhat akin to but, in actuality, far beyond the realm of Minority Report even though this work was written over 30 years ago.

Foundation's Edge - The Avatar of touch.

Hesitantly Trevize placed a finger on the circle of light and at once the light spread out to cover 
the desk top. On it were the outline of two hands: a right and a left. With a sudden, smooth movement, the desk top tilted to an angle of forty-five degrees. 
 Trevize took the seat before the desk. No words were necessary. It was clear what he was expected 
to do. 
 He placed his hands on the outlines on the desk, which were positioned for him to do so without 
strain. The desk top seemed soft, nearly velvety, where he touched it--and his hands sank in. 
 He stared at his hands with astonishment, for they had not sunk in at all. They were on the surface, 
his eyes told him. Yet to his sense of touch it was as though the desk surface had given way, and as though something were holding his hands softly and warmly. 
 Was that all? 
 Now what? 
 He looked about and then closed his eyes in response to a suggestion. 
 He had heard nothing. He had heard nothing! 
 But inside his brain, as though it were a vagrant thought of his own, there was the sentence, 
“Please close your eyes. Relax. We will make connection.” 
 Through the hands? 
 Somehow Trevize had always assumed that if one were going to communicate by thought with a 
computer, it would be through a hood placed over the head and with electrodes against the eyes and skull. 
 The hands? 
 But why not the hands? Trevize found himself floating away, almost drowsy, but with no loss of 
mental acuity. Why not the hands? 
 The eyes were no more than sense organs. The brain was no more than a central switchboard, 
encased in bone and removed from the working surface of the body. It was the hands that were the working surface, the hands that felt and manipulated the Universe.

Any Questions?


Wikopedia rocks and so does Pharyngula, a free thought website articulating why intelligent design and creationism simply doesn't work given the evidence science presents regarding how reality functions. Everyone has the right to believe or not to believe in whatever but no one has the right to censor or condemn anyone who may have a belief system differing from theirs, something religion has done since the beginning of time.

Question, who designed the designer?

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Never get Rev 1.0

Finally, there's a common plug for recharging electric cars. It took years to make it happen but it's real and the impact it will have on this tech will be huge.

While reading this this, I sense some bleeding edge adopters of electric cars are regretting their quick plunge into new technology when the basics of how these cars would be recharged had not been worked out until now, which brings up the mantra we techies all over the world who say, Never get rev 1.0, a fact yours truly often ignored and got burned for doing so without question. :)

Friday, May 04, 2012

Smart Grids

Smart Grids or the ability to monitor electric power using tech is gathering speed, something drastically needed as the electricity network of the nation continues to age while power requirements continue to rise. To that end, electric companies and governments are beginning to implement this technology with promising results.

This will not be cheap but in the long run, cost savings and the ability to better manage an essential resources becomes reality.

Everything has a cost but we already knew that, right?

Spinning Spare Parts

Interesting posts from Kurzweil and MIT's Technology Review regarding cardiovascular tech using a patient's skin cells to do the deed, thus eliminating the rejection process inherent with anything foreign introduced into the body to, in this case, replace blood vessels compromised by disease, aging or traumatic injury. 

But that's not all.

It seems some aspects of creativity mimic the 1st law of Thermodynamics whereby, like energy, an idea is transformed, not created or destroyed, in similar fashion to the 1st law. In this application, the invention of spinning wool or other material into threads to make clothing has been around for thousands of years, a process now being integrated into doing the same thing for health in creating woven blood vessels to save lives, something very cool if you ask me. 

Understatement :)