Morning Ed: Technology {2018.06.05.Tu}

[Te1] I finds the prospect of an e-ink computer/typewriter to be fascinating and an interesting example of the lengths we may go to in order to avoid distraction.

[Te2] Either that or the programmers did a really, really good job.

[Te3] “Bluetooth” is a dumb name with a cool history.

[Te4] In case you were looking for alternative Windows browsers.

[Te5] It stands to reason that eventually robots will even be better conspiracy-mongers than we are.

[Te6] Well yes, they are. This is why it’s so hilarious when they do malfunction.

[Te7] Speaking of sales demos, I just got started on Bad Blood, the book about Theranos. So far my main impression is this: The book wastes no time in making the reader detest Elizabeth Holmes.

[Te8] This will end badly. (It actually probably will, though not for the reason the headline suggests.)

[Te9] A database of experiences in a robot spouse.


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17 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Technology {2018.06.05.Tu}

  1. Te1: There are a number of applications for PCs that take over and lock the screen for a specified period and provide a minimal text editor. Often using a green single-width font on a black background. No access to a browser, or mail, or any other app until the timer expires (or you jump through a bunch of inconvenient hoops). All billed as assisting in those situations where you just want/need to bang out text.

    Te2: Near the end, there is at least a nod at the notion that whoever is running the simulation may be better at math than we are.

    Te6: I spent a couple of years of my career doing road show tech demos. I was usually not the front person, but was responsible for keeping all of it running. To the greatest extent possible, there were no smoke and mirrors. I recall spending an hour with a columnist walking through all of the stuff that was literally behind the curtains. At the end he said, “F*ck. You’ve convinced me. Now I’ve got to toss the column I already wrote about cable companies’ fake demos and write one that says the engineering staff here seems to actually know what they’re doing.”

    Te0: Never underestimate the power of accountants…


    • Te2: Even that’s not necessary. An obvious optimization is to simulate only to the level of detail required to create the illusion of reality. You don’t have to simulate quantum mechanics in my desk; as far as I can tell, the desk itself an elementary particle. Of course, I could get a saw and try to cut it, but you don’t have to simulate that until I actually do it. Distant stars can just be simulated as points in the sky.

      Come to think of it, quantum mechanics might be the best argument for the world being a simulation there is. A particle doesn’t have a definite position or velocity until it’s observed? Obviously an optimization.


      • An obvious optimization is to simulate only to the level of detail required to create the illusion of reality.

        I don’t know why they’d even do that. Just _simulate_ simulating that.

        If we’re testing some low-level stuff in reality, why bother actually calculating that? Just alter our brain states to inform us that we saw the correct results.


    • Te6: Yeah… I’m assuming they mean giant massive global marketing demo… those are 100% scripted, they have to be… even scripted they can blow-up.

      Now, regular old tech demos? Those are mundanely real, if not necessarily representative of a) your exact company’s business and b) production levels of data and user stress.

      I *wish* our demo environments were much more curated than sparsely populated sandboxes.

      {but that’s just us, I always assume that my competitors have awesome demo environments with great sample data and awesome scenarios that highlight all their cool stuff and competitive advantages}


  2. Te0 – I was surprised how expensive (2.30 euro) and how slow (iirc, 4 to 5 weeks) it took a postcard we mailed from Italy last summer to get back to our house.

    That 13.84/3.16 split seems really odd to me. The transnational shipping company is getting 80% while the national postal service is getting just 20%? If anything, if you told me those were reversed, I’d accept it without thought or comment.


  3. Te1: I am very open to the idea of a device that is designed to do one thing and do it well. This is why I loves my Kindle Paperwhite. For reading straight text, there is nothing better. (Yes, not even paper. My aging eyes find reading the Kindle much easier.)

    That being said, it’s not clear to me what this does better. The talk of AA batteries brings visions of constantly replacing them, and while e-ink is great for ebooks, I’m not sure about the advantage for word processing. Or is it about extending the life of those AA batteries? As for distractions, once I get into the zone this isn’t a problem for me. And the sort of writing I do is heavily source-based. I often have these sources in electronic form, and this usually isn’t text. So I would have to have another device with me anyway. This might be good for people writing fiction, particularly the modern self-publishing crowd shoving out six or seven novels a year. I’m pretty sure research is not a prominent part of the process for those.

    Also, $500? Really?


    • I agree with the sentiments of here, the screen attracts me as I too greatly enjoy the paperwhite reading experience. I find it the happy medium from straight tech of a screen or my phone where I tend to read too fast and not comprehend as well, and it is easier on my eyes. I would love to write in that format as well, especially portably. But that price tag is not worth the aesthetics to me. You can get a passable laptop that is much more functional for the price, or an older Surface or the like. $100-200 probably would give it a look but that doesn’t seem worth it.


    • That’s about a 50% markup over the price on It ships direct from Japan, so that adds quite a bit, plus it looks like a pretty niche product for the reasons you stated, so any overhead for localization isn’t going to get spread very thin.


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