Neither Confirm Nor Deny – Radiolab

How a sunken nuclear submarine, a crazy billionaire, and a mechanical claw gave birth to a phrase that has hounded journalists and lawyers for 40 years and embodies the tension between the public’s desire for transparency and the government’s need to keep secrets.

via Neither Confirm Nor Deny – Radiolab.

Radiolab rarely disappoints, however this recent episode was pretty amazing. It tells the story of the origin of the “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” (aka Glomar) response that government agencies give to freedom of information requests.

Worth a listen.

Bundling is Worse

This isn’t just an Amazon problem. In the last few years, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have all made huge attempts to move into major parts of each others’ businesses, usually at the detriment of their customers or users.3

Google, the geek world’s undeserved, unquestioned darling for well over a decade, has made all of its core products worse by forcefully shoving Google+ into them. They’re leveraging extreme success from some businesses (search, email, maps) to juice the numbers of one that’s faring poorly against its competitors (Google+). Sound familiar?

Apple’s Maps is still worse and has fewer features than Google Maps, which was previously integrated better into the iPhone and didn’t enable as much Google tracking creepiness. Not anymore. (Although I think the fault of this is shared between Apple and Google.) Many of Apple’s other applications and services have suffered as well as they’ve spread themselves too thinly and competed on more fronts.

via Worse –

I don’t usually read or link to Marco, because he’s got some very specific chips on his shoulder. However I think he hits the nail on the head here.

This vertical bundling of unrelated services that you can only really get if you buy into all of them is getting really frustrating. It’s actually one of the reasons I’ve always been anti-Apple, because the bundle was deep to their core, and I’m an a-la-carte kind of guy. But now everyone else is mocking Apple and trying to bundle all their services. Interop is being dropped left, right, and center.

You know who else loves bundles: your cable company.

This transition of tech services away from the pro consumer a-la-carte to monolithic bundles that mean you have to buy into a lifestyle to get any real benefits, is really frustrating.  You can no longer photo share from Picassa to anything other than G+, for instance, which was the last straw for me, and I’m getting all my photos out of Google now. It’s the reason I don’t buy much on VOD services, because I challenge you to find one that will let me play on a Linux Laptop, a Nexus 7 tablet, and a Roku (that’s my minimum set of devices I need to support).

It’s like the bad old internet with AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy silos all over again.

So, I agree with Marco, this situation is worse. It’s also the sort of thing that AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft were taken to anti-trust for. But, like the cable companies, because there are multiple monopolies it will probably be seen as ok, even if it’s anti consumer. Like the cell phone market in the US.

But it’s still worse.

Ball Aerospace

Yesterday I was listening to an episode of the Common Wealth Club on the B612 foundation. They are fund raising $200M to build a space telescope to detect and track all the asteroids that are big enough to destroy a city.

All of that is really interesting, and a very cool effort. However in doing research this morning I learned another amazing fact.



Ball Aerospace is the private company that will build the telescope. They built the Kepler space telescope for NASA, and are doing the James Web space telescope as well. I’d heard of them, but until google this morning, I’d never seen their logo. Which I know… from all the canning jars my mom used when I was a kid.

From Wikipedia:

1956, Ball formed Ball Brothers Research Corporation to produce goods and services for the aerospace sector. This was converted to a wholly owned subsidiary, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., in 1995.

Who knew that one of the top aerospace companies has it’s origins in making glass jars. Not I, until today.

One-Room Schools at the Vermont Folklife Center


Granville One Room School

One-Room Schools at the Vermont Folklife Center.

For grades 1 – 5, I was educated in a one room schoolhouse. A throw back to a time before cars, given that everyone had to be able to walk to their school. In small towns around the country a few remained late into the 20th century.

That’s me in the dark shirt in the front, probably about 4th grade. I think that’s about the same time we ended up in a national segment in the CBS morning news for being the oldest continuously running one room school house in the country.

The school is no more. It closed down a few years ago.  But I remain thankful that I had that opportunity as a child. I also think it means I completely expended my 15 minutes of fame before I entered high school (was on national TV twice related to the school), so I consider everything else gravy from here on out.

New Cosmos

“The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our contemplations of the Cosmos stir us. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
― Carl SaganCosmos

“It’s time to get going again.”

― Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos a Space Time Odyssey

Tonight, a new Cosmos series premieres on Fox. Ever since I heard about this project 2 years ago, I’ve been eagerly awaiting it’s premier. And we are finally here.

The trailer itself gives me goose bumps. Watch the trailer above, and then watch the show. I’m sure it will not disappoint.