Christmas Day for Dads

Christmas for dad used to mean unboxing absurdly secured toys from wires and installing batteries. Today it’s full-blown technical support for account creation, device registration and navigating system updates.

Happy “Day Off” to all the system engineers out there.

In-game Currency Income Tax

This is fascinating to me, but I’m a nerd.

Taxation of virtual currencies – particularly within video games – is an emerging revenue stream, one that the IRS is still clearly trying to figure out. Game engines are on the verge of becoming banks… actual banks. Guess what? That’s going to throw a whole new problem into their business model because it exposes them to something that their industry isn’t priced for: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency oversight.

Continue reading In-game Currency Income Tax

Automation Nerd

You’d think for a guy who thrives on creating automated solutions – someone whom also rarely sleeps – that I would have some tricked out masterfully orchestrated robotic coffee brewing and delivery system for zero dark thirty when work starts.

Nope. That basic Mr. Coffee brewer is still blinking the wrong time since last year when I plugged that shit in. Meanwhile, the security system’s motion triggers activate our Halloween decorations and Alexa will let me know that the fans in the boys’ room are still running so I can have her shut them down on demand.

#nerdRebel #IbrewMyOwn #AlexaDeleteYesterday

It’s Cool, Man, Just Fix It.

I had a disagreement with a programmer today and I realized my explanation sounded like it was coming from the Big Lebowski…

Me: Your new code is failing when it attempts to divide by zero for the tax rate.
Programmer: But it works here perfectly.
Me: Sure, I’m certain it does, but it fails … like everywhere else. Particularly when your variable is still set to zero and then you try to divide by it.
Programmer: But my code is correct.
Me: At times, sure man, except where… you know… the fundamentals of math are involved.
Programmer: How can I possibly fix what I don’t feel is broken?
Me: that’s the thing: feelings. Math doesn’t care about my feelings or your feelings. That’s the beauty of it, math is just math whoever the hell you are. And it says your code can’t divide by a variable that equals zero. Don’t let your code try to beat the laws of math, man, it will always lose. And it would be cool if you could get that into a pull request by the end of the day.

Pick Up the Phone First

When you receive “A File has been shared with you” email from a client you haven’t spoken to in a few months, pick up the phone and call him before clicking that link or flagging it as spam.

I called. My client’s exact words when answering the call were, “Aidan, don’t click on that link.” His phone was exploding and the SysAdmin was already scrambled to clean up the mess. I offered my assistance if he should need it, we had a good chuckle and wished each other well. The call was less than 30 seconds.

Benefit: virus not spread and now I’m back on my client’s radar when he reminds himself, “Oh, yeah, I need to have Aidan check on that thing that’s been nagging at me…”

Google or Apple Maps?

A friend asked his network, “Google or Apple maps? Discuss.”

I could rant for days here. On one hand, we have GPS. Its government controlled, slow, somewhat inaccurate but usually works. On the other hand we have a cluster of USPS data, cars & cameras collecting imagery, and wildly abused user-contributed information all of which are dumped into the collective hive-mind of free map software. Like a map, scrawled in Sharpie, on the wall of a bathroom stall.

Google maps is brilliant for traffic info. Not just real time, but predictively, too! That’s because every Android and logged-in gmail account has been sharing real-time informatics (whether you like it or not). It’s brilliant. You can even see traffic patterns based on day of week, time of day, even holidays. Provided that you know exactly where you need to go.

Apple/iOS maps… I think I had 3 birthdays the last time I tried to load that up. It was so slow I used my car’s navigation system instead. Gawd knows that’s an act of pure desperation.

In all fairness, I can’t attest to which system is more accurate for physical addresses. The final responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the US Postal service. Unfortunately, that tax-payer funded agency is now little more than an indentured servant to Amazon. Ultimately, we need the USPS for authority in this department…as if they should be surveying geological and location data, not just stamps and commercial mailers, and providing accurate information on locations and addresses within our country.

We could call it the United States Geological Survey agency, or USGS.govfor short.

Oh, damn, that domain name is already registered.

Auto-focus

There are companies investing hundreds of millions of dollars into cramming more and more tech into goggles and glasses: gps, video recording, augmented overlays, social media feeds. That’s all fine and dandy. But they’re missing one critical feature that would revolutionize the tech space:

Auto-focus. My camera can do it. My phone can do it. Why can’t my glasses?

(Drops mic)

Asteroid Selfies

Japan can send a spacecraft 200 MILLION miles from Earth almost 4 years ago so that it can land on an asteroid, take some selfies, email them to us, pick up some pebbles as souvenirs, then pack up its kit and COME BACK TO EARTH (e.t.a. 2020). Just kidding, it’s not really ’email’ per se, but at 200 million miles, does the carrier protocol really matter?

Meanwhile my bluetooth devices a few feet away from each other aren’t friends and couldn’t be bothered. The Chromestick? Apparently it has a grudge against the Apple Airport based on each other’s stock prices. My phone that is 2 years newer than Hayabusa2 and can’t take a picture that can be trusted to self-adjust its white balance, let alone reliably send it as an attachment to my Gmail account. A $90,000 electric car can’t even manage a range of 400 miles.

Yet, Japan’s Hayabusa2….

Here I was thinking those of you that will spend over $1000 for the new iPhone XS were out of your minds… but you’re right: I need to start my own government so I can create my own space agency to buy some tech that just friggin’ works, where I want it, when I want it… even if that is 2, 20 or even 200 MILLION miles away. Or right here at my desk, every single time I need it…without a system update notice that includes a reboot.

Fruity with a Hint of Cesium

Interesting and slightly terrifying impact of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011: California red wine prior to 2011 had no noticeable trace (outside of background “noise”) of Cesium-137 radioactivity. After 2011? Cesium-137 appears by a factor of two (meaning double the background noise).

How did it get here? The ocean, the wind. From Japan to Seattle, then down along the west coast of North America where it was absorbed by agriculture and – potentially – every living organism in its path.

What does it mean? We’ll find out eventually once it’s too late.

There were significant problems with the meltdown that could have been prevented if we had functional, radiation shielded robots or R/C systems to mitigate the exposure as reactive systems. We weren’t ready for it. It happened and we’ll pay a price far beyond the initial “573 non-exposure” deaths. Researchers have just started to report findings that are tied to date and agriculture.

I still believe in nuclear energy. Outside of renewables like wind and solar, nuclear is necessary. But it comes with the overhead and preparation for the inherit risks. The Fukushima melt down could have been prevented, even when the tsunami could not have been, and the resulting disaster could have been better mitigated. We failed.

That sucks. It’s going to take its toll eventually. We’re at the initial steps of measuring how. We have to learn from this and invest in better management, over-site and response.