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sabik's blog

12 January 2014, 9:45 UTCA simple problem...

A simple problem in math: The world has agricultural capacity to feed twelve billion people. There are seven billion people in the world. How many are going short?

˙uoıןןıq əuo :ɹǝʍsu∀

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10 January 2014, 12:30 UTCIdea: grape juice tasting

Idea: grape juice tasting for children. This one's a Riesling and this one is a Cabernet-Sauvignon blend and this one is a Sémillon.

(Not sure it's a good idea, or a wise idea, but it is an idea...)

PS: Apparently this already exists. So much for that one.

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10 December 2013, 8:54 UTCOver-engineering your thermal mass water tank setup

Various energy-efficient building designs emphasise high thermal mass. When retrofitting existing buildings, one would probably use a water tank — easy to install and very high heat capacity per volume. Pretty simple to use, too; just put it in, fill it with water and maybe check it once or twice a year.

Of course, once one has a water-based thermal mass system, one can over-engineer it...

PS (10.1.2014):

PS (28.1.2014): I knew I've heard some of these ideas somewhere... See: N Hurst and P Harrison (2007) Low-cost active heat storage. ReNew Magazine, Winter 2007, Melbourne, Australia.

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27 November 2013, 5:07 UTCDoctor Who and the Copenhagen Interpretation

I wonder if the concept of "time-locked" in Doctor Who corresponds to:

We, the audience, are the observer.

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27 November 2013, 5:03 UTCDoctor Who and the 13th regeneration

There's any number of ways they could do it...

(a) It might be a law of Gallifrey rather than a law of nature, in which case it can be set aside (in consideration of his efforts in the war?) and/or broken by the Doctor. It wouldn't be the first law he's broken and, given the current state of Gallifrey, enforcement is likely to be patchy at best.

(b) Something like the Sisterhood of Karn or Bad Wolf might reset the count and/or remove the limit. Indeed, might have already done so, the Sisterhood incidentally with the regeneration potion, Bad Wolf, well, it's not like she was really in control of her faculties, was she?

(c) The Doctor could regenerate, say "Huh, that was... unexpected!" and carry on.


I'm hoping for (c), myself.

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22 November 2013, 6:30 UTCSelf-driving model cars

I wonder if technology is now at the stage where one could put together a self-driving model car. One that uses a camera for lane-following, collision avoidance, obeying street signs and traffic lights...

A rough calculation suggests that a Raspberry Pi would just about fit inside a 1:32 model car. Certainly there are radio-controlled cars as small as that, and a computer these days is not going to be much larger than an older R/C receiver. It needs to be powerful enough to do video processing, but that, too, doesn't sound like a problem any more. If it's really a problem, one could use a bigger scale, maybe 1:18 or 1:12 or something; that would give ample room for pretty much anything.

I wonder if that already exists, or if I should try to put it together and popularise it as a hobby.

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18 October 2013, 6:08 UTCSilk Road shutdown

What does the shutdown of Silk Road mean for the future of such enterprises?

(Assuming the allegations are true for the sake of discussion...)

DPR made some rookie mistakes, from opsec to language selection to contingency planning. There were other infelicities on Silk Road, probably on the entire scale of difficulty all the way up to really difficult problems with no known solutions: its public key infrastructure, for instance, was primitive; delivery of physical goods via ordinary mail was naïve; even the reliance on a central server was unfortunate, since ultimately it had to be physically located somewhere. In the middle of the scale come things like connecting to the server through a short chain of ssh connections rather than via Tor.

It was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually be caught.

Yet — a moderately incompetent operator ran Silk Road for about two years. A more competent person would probably have lasted longer; but does "longer" mean three years, or thirty?

Do we stand at the end of online black markets, or do we stand at the drug equivalent of the Napster shutdown, in a pause before something else takes its place, something that's stronger and harder to shut down than what came before?

I do not know what such a next stage would be, whether it would learn a lot from the first iteration of Silk Road or only a little. There are obvious puns about drug-dealing via DHT, but they are just that — puns. The reality would be completely different, maybe quite sophisticated, with real innovations, maybe completely ordinary, just doing the same thing more carefully.

Or maybe Silk Road really will stay shut down.

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27 September 2013, 0:56 UTCUsing Google Calendars with multiple e-mail addresses

Sometimes, I get Google Calendar invites that I need to respond to, but which are sent to my main e-mail address (I rarely use my Google one). By default, that doesn't work and shows a red error message.

I've recently found out, though, that there's a check-box in the settings to make it work: https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/74783

With that check-box ticked, it works the way you'd expect.

I'm not sure which genius came up with that default, or with the UX of being shown a red error message which doesn't even mention this option, let alone allowing you to change it. It certainly seems suboptimal. However, at least the option itself is there.

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22 May 2013, 9:36 UTCThe relationships in the stories we tell

The other day I saw an analogy somewhere that teenagers effectively getting their "sex ed" from watching porn is a bit like doing "driver's ed" by watching James Bond films. Come to think of it, though, it could be worse — people could be getting their "sex ed" by watching James Bond films.

Stories are how we make sense of the world, right? What sort of stories, then, are we giving our children and ourselves? Do they involve relationships that are healthy and positive, or ones that are problematic? If the latter, if the stories we tell celebrate problematic and even deeply disturbing relationships, what impact does that have on us, on our world?

And there are some pretty troubling stories out there, whether it's the likes of James Bond on the one hand or something like Beauty and the Beast or Twilight on the other.

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15 May 2013, 3:47 UTCBitcoin central

One of the selling points of Bitcoin is that it has no central point of control... yet it does.

In three different ways, on three different time-scales, there is indeed quite substantial degree of central control in Bitcoin. Some of them, especially the last, may be unavoidable; but we should not be blind to them.

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7 May 2013, 2:52 UTCPost-scarcity now
6 May 2013, 5:25 UTCTerraforming the galaxy
3 May 2013, 12:51 UTCPrivacy; a draft
1 May 2013, 6:35 UTCGoogle Glass
1 May 2013, 6:22 UTCFood miles and self-driving cars
1 May 2013, 6:02 UTCBitcoin is not disruption
26 February 2013, 4:57 UTCDemocratic social network
4 November 2012, 9:10 UTCOlder things — parallel-run, today, backlinks, auth, ecash, inflatable sailing boat...
3 November 2012, 10:42 UTCExercise bikes and Google street view
1 July 2012, 13:45 UTCThe Internet as an alien
1 July 2012, 13:37 UTCWhy would anyone do that ...? (Self-aware AI)
10 June 2012, 5:59 UTCRevolution in Art & Design using 3D Printing — Neri Oxman
4 June 2012, 12:45 UTCEben Moglen — Innovation under Austerity
13 May 2012, 3:15 UTCThe future is normalised
30 April 2012, 2:37 UTCSmall payments among friends
29 April 2012, 11:01 UTCxkcd random²
27 April 2012, 16:01 UTCTalk slides — The Version 3 Effect — April 2012 SLUG meeting
27 April 2012, 1:36 UTCA/B testing and optimisation methods
19 April 2012, 5:13 UTCVirtualisation on the desktop?
28 March 2012, 12:36 UTCElsevier's two jobs

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  File "/home/jiri/public_html/ae", line 761, in markup
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