The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for November, 2005

Accelerondo

Posted by Deliverator on 10th November 2005

I recently picked up a copy of Accelerondo, a new singularity themed book by Charles Stross, which has been getting mentioned by quite a few people I know. Anita, who needs all twenty digits to count her scifi author friends, was showing off her galley print of it at a recent Eastside Bloggers Meetup. Vernor Vinge sung the book’s praises at the recent Accelerating Change conference. About the only conferences I can afford to attend these days are free ones. But with great free events like Mind Camp, who wants to plunk down $500-$1000. Vernor Vinge is widely attributed as the creator (or some would say earliest predictor) off the Singularity concept. His science fiction stories are pure gold. They are always stuff to the gills with new imaginings – in the finest spirit of that part of the genre which should properly be termed speculative fiction. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Vinge, so his recommendation of Accelerondo was enough to seal the deal. I headed over to Amazon to make my purchase, only to find that they were actively promoting a free PDF edition as well. I chose to download and read on my Jornada and have been doing so with much delight for the last few days. I am sure I have read parts of the book before in serialized or novella form, but cannot recall where. I have thoroughly enjoyed the book thus far and will pick up a dead tree edition soon. I like keeping my author’s wallets full, even though I actually prefer ebooks, these days.

As to spoilers, I will only say this:

In space, nobody can hear your colorless green ideas sleep furiously

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The Hurricane – Damn The Man

Posted by Deliverator on 9th November 2005

Sign Outside

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A computer on your keychain

Posted by Deliverator on 9th November 2005

VMware recently introduced VMware Player, a free piece of software that allows you to run virtual machines created in any of their commercial products. The software requires you to have administrator rights on any machine you use it on, as it installs several services, but it is still extremely cool to be able to take your virtual machines with you.

Another option for those wishing to take a vm along for the ride is Qemu, which unlike VMware’s software, supports access to network hardware without needing to install any special services. Sticking qemu and a vm on a keychain is a great way to have a secure, network capable computing environment with you should you need to access the internet from a untrusted/public computer.

Still another option, and perhaps your best bet if you don’t have a 1 or 2 GB USB keychain is Portable CE which allows one to run a complete Windows CE environment from a small keychain.

Portable CE

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Hacknight – 11/08/05

Posted by Deliverator on 9th November 2005

Tonight’s hacknight was held at Joe Bar, rather than at our usual haunt, the Capitol Hill Internet Cafe. CHIC is closed at the moment, supposedly due to electrical problems, which they hope to have fixed by next Monday. That is an awful long time to be closed because of a bad fuse, so I think something else might be up. I noticed that their domain – http://www.capitolhill.net/ – is now for sale. It never hosted much of a site, as you can see, but it is odd for a business to get rid of a domain like that outright. There was some discussion as to whether to start hosting meetings at Joe Bar instead. I think it is a little bit cramped for the number of people we occasionally draw, although it would probably be just fine for the usual crowd of 4-5 of us.

Tonight’s topics:

-Mind Camp post-mortem
-Tunneling
-Multicast
-All things hidden/obscured
-A game, not unlike The Game with clues & missions seeded in reality. Short on details at the moment, but think the tone of Lost, with the tech of Global Frequency with a healthy dash of Illuminati for flavor. Rob and Casey are looking for help from a professional writer to flesh out multiple story lines that will run in parallel. Should be interesting to beat this idea around for a few weeks and see what comes of it.
-Devices/technologies that become standards for the wrong reasons. Challenging technical momentum.

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One Man’s Trash…

Posted by Deliverator on 9th November 2005

At the end of mind camp, everyone was asked to speak briefly about what they liked/disliked about the experience and make suggestions for future mind camp sessions. One interesting suggestion (I believe Richard Lotz suggested it) that seemed to strike with wide approval was to have a swap-meet as part of the event. A lot of people brought interesting tech to show and I would be very interested to see what unused stuff they have collecting dust in their closets. I really like this idea and I hope it becomes incorporated into future events. I am a big fan of freecycling & horse trading. I love dickering/bartering for stuff, particularly with merchants. Hagling over price might not get you far at Walmart, but you would be surprised how many smaller stores are receptive, once they get past the shock. In most areas of the world, haggling is the rule and not the exception.

I used to do a lot of trading during HS. I saw a lot of kids at school were in to the game, so I bought $30 worth of “starter decks.” I learned the game real well (and consequently what was worth trading for). I was consistently beating everyone at school and won a few local tournaments as well. Mostly, I loved the trading. I eventually got bored with the game. I entertained a number of offers to buy my deck (black & artifact), but decided to sell my cards off piecemeal. I spent a couple weekends at the local hangouts trading & selling my cards. I ended up making about 3 grand over the course of those few weeks. I was pretty pleased with myself at the time…then I heard aboutthis guy.

I have decided I will clean out my closet and bring a basketful to the next hacknight to trade and give away.

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Seattle Mind Camp – Aftershocks

Posted by Deliverator on 6th November 2005

I am home after 26+ hours at Seattle Mind Camp. The middle of the night was a wild ride:

-I am definitely having some after-effects of sleep deprivation. Namely, I keep getting the lingering feeling that Ryan is a Werewolf.

-I still think I can drink a gallon of milk in an hour, but nobody was willing to go get one. Matt and I will have to settle this learned debate once and for all in the near future.

-Had a crack at Casey’s CVS video camera. We tried the hardware attack that worked on my 3.62, but had no luck unlocking it. His camera will not reveal its firmware version through any of the known button pinches. His hardware revision is B3, same as my 3.62, but it does not appear to be a 3.62 camera. We attempted the hardware hack a couple dozen times. Using the hardware hack, we can get the textual overlay on the viewfinder to corrupt, but it still will not unlock. All this points to Casey’s CVS camera having a previously undocumented firmware revision.

-Pictures are up at my Seattle Mind Camp Gallery

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Seattle Mind Camp – Late Night

Posted by Deliverator on 5th November 2005

Late Night Saturday

– Had an extensive, wide ranging conversation about transportation with Rick Woodbury. Rick is one of the chief guys behind the Tango electric car. The Tango is a two passenger vehicle and seats passengers front back, like many aircraft, rather than side by side as in conventional cars. The Tango is designed for commuter use, has incredible performance characteristics, is classed as a motorcycle and is small enough to park in the tinniest of spaces. He offered to take me for a ride, but I was running late for a talk, so asked for a raincheck. I haven’t seen him in a while, so he may have gone home to sleep. I wish I had taken him up on his offer immediately.

-Rode around on a Segway. The controls are incredibly intuitive and I was speeding around the main room in no time at all. Despite having many opportunities to ride them at robotics conferences, this was actually my first time on one.

-Played around with the Nomad wearable for quite a while. The included software isn’t great and as we didn’t have an easy way to run many of the activesync based installs, I used it mainly as a thin client to Remote Desktop into some boxes at home.

-Played around with an oQo, perhaps the smallest computer to ever run full blown windows. Spoke to owner of said device, who was a former employee. Spoke mainly about the Flipstart, Win CE based palmtops and how to improve the user experience on such small devices.

-Did lots of demoing of Tyr’s salient features, let people drive, and spoke at length with people about the TRC. A fair number of people took brochures, but there were no immediate donations.

-The mesh network is finally serving up internet access to a good percentage of the faciity. Matt and Rob switched the network over to a more conventional node based architecture, but with a twist. The nodes route traffic through each other using OLSR on a second radio for backhaul, but actual client devices aren’t required to run the OLSR client for basic internet connectivity.

-Did my talk about car-computing

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Seattle Mindcamp – Early Afternoon – Day 1

Posted by Deliverator on 5th November 2005

Sitting at Mindcamp half-asleep. I ended up getting to sleep around 4 am last night. I was soo excited I couldn’t get to sleep, so I watched “The Hustler.” I have been trying to see this movie for close to a decade, ever since seeing Paul Newman in “The Color of Money,” in which he plays the charcter of “Fast Eddie” again, but much later in life. I really enjoyed “The Hustler,” particularly as a companion to “The Color of Money.” I haven’t seen it available on DVD or on the P2P networks, so I think I will create my own archival copy.

Ryan and I have been demoing the robot all morning. The batteries that we thought we charged were only half charged, so they wore down pretty quickly. The batteries are both on chargers now, but it will be a few hours before we can let people drive again. I am using the downtime to rest my addled brain. I am going to be talking about car computers in 30 minutes.

Matt and Co. are working hard to get all the bugs ironed out of the mesh network. There were some unexpected issues getting it working properly. One of the cheif ones is that there is far less internet bandwidth available than was advertised. The whole building is running off a sub megabit speed DSL connection and a couple EVDO cards. Given that this building is filled with 150 people looking to upload pictures and podcasts, things are not working that well. Rob set up a squid proxy running off a USB hdd, so at least there is some caching going on, but people are just going to have to be considerate of the available bandwidth.

In the meantime, I am online courtesy of the EDGE connection on my Nokia phone shared out to my Jornada 720 over bluetooth.

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Nomad Wearable Computer

Posted by Deliverator on 5th November 2005

Ryan brought over a Nomad wearable computer to my house this evening. We took turns playing with it while working on printing out TRC promotional materials for use at Mind Camp. We felt the white paper on hand was a bit blaah, so we headed over to Kinko’s and picked up a ream of green paper that is a pretty close match to the International School’s official school color (hunter green and silver). While on the way over, Ryan hooked up his Nomad to the Carputer’s new wireless access point and did some surfing and continued work on the documents. I forgot to leave the phone in the car when I went in for the paper, so Ryan came in a few minutes later gathering some strange looks from customers and shop-help alike. I should have pretended not to know him :)

Pictures of the Nomad in action can be found on my Seattle Mind Camp Gallery

EDIT: Ryan created a blog entry on the Nomad while I was preparing some of the TRC materials


Nomad's Laser HUD (poor quality compared to when viewed with eye at proper focal length)

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Virtual Author Collaboration in Second Life

Posted by Deliverator on 5th November 2005

Stayed up far too late last night in order to chat with Cory Doctorow, who is currently in London. I found the mismatched hours particularly amusing given that I had recently read Cory’s second novel, “EST.” The chat took place in Second Life, at a new library that seems to serve as a place for authors to share and discuss their works in progress. Cory has been impressing me with the sheer volume of material that he has been putting out of late. Cory has a new novel out on shelves, another on the way, has been serializing a story called “Themepunks” and is of course a regularly featured Boing Boing blogger. The event was much smaller than his last official Second Life appearance, in promotion of his book “Someone Comes to Town…Someone Leaves Town,” perhaps due to being announced at the last minute and in the middle of the night. There were around 10 people in attendance, which gave the event a much more intimate, conversational feel. The main topic for the evening was nanowrimo, an annual event in which participants attempt to write a novel length book in a single month. Other topics included splogs (spam-like blogs that steal content from legitimate sites), serialization & syndication, dealing with agents & publishers, compensation schemes for content in general and writing in particular, etc. The typing was fast and furious, so this is the lightest touch of the subjects discussed. I had a very enjoyable time and I found SL to be a very effective way for people located around the world to converse about common topics in a fairly personal way.

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