TED vs. the average lecture

Pre-TED, I used to be able to sit through a boring lecture or presentation — diligently taking notes while being sufficiently nourished by whatever small sliver of new insights or information the speaker could provide. I had patience, fortitude, and a long attention span for the bad presentation. TED has extinguished this valuable skill.

Joshua Kim makes a good point on his blog that TED has skewed our view of lectures.  I’ve seen this when talking with people about the various local technical lecture series.  There is a different quality that you get from being a participant in a lecture then just an observer, but there appears to be a lot of inertia against going out to a lecture because of what exists on TED.

Where is Io v1.1 released

I just pushed Where is Io out to the Android market for the low low price of free.  The application presents a “spirograph” view of the 4 large moons of Jupiter over the next 96 hours, including an indicator on the current position.  There are details provided on each of the objects in the system.  Jupiter is just starting to come up in the early mornings, so over the next few months it should be handy.

You can download it directly here:

Or check out the Where is Io page for more screen shots and information (screen shots skipped for this post, because I just put some up in the last post).

It will be a couple of weeks before the next release, as I’ve got a real world building project that has to get done, but rest assured this is just the beginning.

Where is Io progress

I’ve made some more progress on what will be my first Android market application – “Where is Io”.  I’ve learned a lot about sqlite performance on the phone, which isn’t bad as long as you limit the number of database opens you do.  I’m also trying to make the interface more self explanatory to even those with less astronomy knowledge.  Here are the current screen shots:

I’m not going to explain anything else on the interface, but I would love questions / comments in the blog if this seems confusing.  My “must do” task list probably puts this at about 2 weeks away from publish into the market.  Fortunately, Jupiter is only just coming out of the Sun now (with a missing belt!) so as long as I get this out in the next month or so it will be useful to folks.

The Onion: EPA – Stubborn Environment Refusing To Meet Civilization Halfway

“For 40 years, we have worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of our natural environment,” a visibly angered EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told reporters. “But this can only work when it’s a give-and-take. If the environment won’t even meet us halfway by regenerating a rain forest or two, or pumping out some clean air and water every once in a while, then what’s the point of us trying?”

I love the Onion.

A Git epiphany, a journey in 3 acts

There have been a series of posts about Git in the last week over at The Reinvigorated Programmer. It’s fascinating to watch someone come to terms with Git that’s also a brilliant writer, and gets to the heart of the challenges so quickly. If you’ve ever struggled getting over that hump with Git, I encourage you to read the three posts, in order, and see if it helps you on your journey.

Act 1: Git is a Harrier Jump Jet. And not in a good way

Act 2: Still hatin’ on git: now with added Actual Reasons!

Act 3: You could have invented git (and maybe you already have!)

The new “pick two”

I think that the whole Facebook dust up around privacy really has brought us a new pick any two triangle diagram:

The New Pick Any Two

When it comes to some kind of online services you only get to pick two of: privacy, no effort, and no cost.  With free services, that you don’t have to manage yourself, it should be no surprise that you have to give up privacy.

I’m sure there is a better wording for the pyramid, or even a better distillation of the legs.  If you’ve got any thoughts on that front, please post a comment.

Why there is Ice forming a mile down in the ocean

News reports of the failed attempt to contain the oil-spewing equipment on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico have referred obliquely to things like “ice crystals” or an “icy slush” clogging the hardware that was intended to cap the leak. Anyone who is paying attention would recognize that there’s a bit of a problem here, in that, even at the temperatures and pressures of the ocean at the site, the water there is very much in its liquid phase, as are the hydrocarbons that are spewing through the leak. The methane that caused the original explosion remains gaseous down to -161°C. The “ice” that’s forming is actually a solidified mixture of methane and water called a clathrate. Clathrates have also been in the news because of a potential role in climate change, so it seems like an opportune time to explain what they are.

Ars Technica goes on to explain the chemistry of these Clathrates, and how they can exist at the bottom of the ocean.

And, on the subject of the oil breach, it’s a damn shame that it’s going to take the destruction of most of the marine industries in the Gulf, and large parts of the ecosystem, for people to realize off shore drilling, in both safety and trade offs, is a more complicated issue then “drill, baby, drill.”