How Dropbox saved my Kindle and kept me from destroying my Google CR 48

For the last couple months, I have been living my life from Google’s Beta Chrome laptop. It’s great for the most part. Boots fast. Does most of what I need it to do. But it doesn’t have a freaking file browser, yet… and that’s a big problem:

Tonight, when I vanquished my Kindle’s screen against the sharp end of a pointy stick, it was a real bummer. I’ve got a replacement coming, But what about the books that I got from Project Gutenberg? Am I supposed to re-download those to the Kindle’s terribly slow browser? I think not.

Fortunately, Dropbox is there to save my life. I’m currently uploading all the books from my old, busted-ass kindle to the Dropbox and afterwards I will be able to download them to the replacement device. Sweeeeet.

If you want to checkout, I think they’re pretty cool and signing up through that link will get me an extra GB of storage with them :)

Flying with birds

Often times I find myself in a conversations about how people will be able to plug into machines. Specifically, you might remember an earlier post about how much I’d like to control the flight of a bird like an RC plane, or my recent post about zombie pets… I got a lot of questions about that one.

So, here’s an interesting video from Newscientist. (that link is broken now) In the video, a blind man has his visual cortex connected to a video monitor feeding him some sort of video through his the computer chip installed on the surface of his brain.

The future is now.

The CR-48 is not suitable for web development or design of any sort

Perhaps this is old-hat. Or maybe I’m just waking from some dream in a cloud (pun-intended). It could even be the case that I should keep my mouth shut and be happy that the Chromebook I’ve been using was free and came with no strings attached. But damnit….

This CR-48 is shockingly, painfully incapable in several crucial ways. Specifically creating text files and interfacing with FTP. (yes I know about ssh, but my hosting doesn’t seem to love me). I can do about 95% of what I want to with the machine, but the 5% i can’t do is crippling… :( Sorry Google, I’m out of this noise ASAP.

Yes, there are undoubtedly possible workarounds. But at this point, using the machine for anything other than a one-way portal through which to consume the web (slowly, mind you) requires a painful “work” around which is more like a “stumble-around-blindly-in-the-dark-until-you-stub-your-toe-on-a-solution” around.

On this site I used Thesis 1.6 (or something) to get the design and organization of the page settled. But I’ve been working recently on a few other sites, generally trying to improve my web-skillz. Both of these other sites are built on WordPress, and both are going to need a few tweaks to work the way I’d prefer. Specifically, I want to make forward to Doing so requires a file to be created and uploaded to the server.

There’s no way to create the file on the CR-48, but I could write the file in Google Docs… download it… then SSH into and FINALLY (I had to hold down the shift key to shout that, piss off google… I never use your damned search key anyway) upload the file into the proper location on the server. Well, that’s just a crock of shit. It shouldn’t be so damned hard to do.

I just went to check if there was a text editor (vi, or something like it) in the terminal of the CR-48. There isn’t. And that’s even further frustrating. /end_rant(for_now ;)

Or maybe I’m doing it wrong.

What do nano-photonics have to do with virtual pets and zombies?

So, this morning at work I read an interesting bit about silicon nano-photonic CMOS chips from IBM. And, while this crap-hole of a blog is probably the last place you’d look to find information about such developments, it’s still a good outlet for some sci-fi sort of thinking about the future.

What follows started out as an e-mail to a couple engineer friends of mine. They have long been on my list of people to spam with futurespeak… but I figured they’d appreciate the opportunity to read this on a page, rather than from an inbox.


As I’m sure you’re aware, today big announcements were made at IBM. According to their press release we (the proverbial civilizational “we”) will be getting optical CMOS chips sometime in 2011. As the release indicates, these chips will allow for tremendously greater data processing capability than we have today. While they will first be used in supercomputers, they’ll likely next move to the consumer market… where they will be digested at Moore’s speed as quickly as they are

What may surprise you however is that these sorts of press releases leave me with a head-full of thoughts about the future. HA!

Okay, so here’s what I’m thinking about. These new chips are supposed to be something along the lines of 10x faster than our current chips. But when scaled, they should be closer to 1000x faster than our current device capabilities. But what of it? Well, for one, i’m always interested in the notion of machine brain interfaces. Suppose we take a look at some other news that’s come about in the recent past. There’s a story I remember reading a while back about something called optogenetics. Optogenetics is, roughly, the method by which animal neurons are made to be sensitive to light by encoding genes for creating light sensitive proteins into the animal. Then there’s some other news about photoperiodism in animals being the method used by quail to track the seasons. Scientific method aside, if the birds can do it, so can the people.

Right, machine brain interface! So, we’ve got ultra-fast optical computer chips… and we’ve got optical sensitivity in the brain. It seems to me that one of the advantages that optical computing over electrical computing in the brain is that we could use biologically-inert materials for optical transmission. Instead of using metals that are susceptible to corrosion and buildup of scar tissue, it seems we could use fiber-optics instead. This may be a bogus argument though, because I’ve read of silk-substrate computer implants that are biologically inert in the brain.

What’s important here though is the minimal energy usage and minimally invasive size of these devices. While I don’t suspect that they will be used in humans without a need for them (whether to overcome disability, or to increase ability for strategic reasons / i.e. controlling a wheelchair, or controlling an ultra-complex war-machine), I think that there will certainly be a lot of research into ways that these devices can be implanted into animal brains. We’ve already seen similar research with existing technology, there’s no reason to assume that we wouldn’t follow the same approach with more sophisticated tools.

What does it all mean?!?! Perhaps we’re all headed for some version of hysterical-consumer-focused distopia? I hope not. Instead, as you might be able to tell, I’m really excited by all of the possibilities that are opened up by these inventions. Specifically because I want to get my brain connected to the internet so that I can learn and digest information faster, and have access to the many informative and entertaining resources offered on the internet.

But, like I said above, I don’t suspect that we’ll be doing much with actually *implanted* chips. There’s too much risk of damage from invasive devices like that. Instead, from what I’ve read, those sorts of devices probably be ‘grown’ inside our heads (read: bloood-borne-nano-swarm), rather than application through invasive surgery. But it’s still neat to think that we could take these chips and implant them into a rodent/bird/insect/etc. And some of you may remember my post about how much I like watching bird flight.

So, for a moment, let’s imagine some of the nifty roles that our pets and service animals might have in a world where these sort of inventions were commonplace. Consider the notion of a ‘pet’ falcon with serious mental problems, for instance. By “problems” I mean more specifically: a difficulty controlling it’s movement by force of will. While our pet lacks certain amount of control, we as ‘pet owners’ have the joy of control. By way of that optical chip you had implanted at the vet this afternoon, you’ve given yourself control of the animal’s desire to tuck & roll, or dive, or hover. Also, you and your family get a sweet, ultra-high-definition ‘1st person’ video transmitted to your VR suite (you remember, the virtual environment you had installed for your home-schooler) from the optical nerves of the beast.

So, while your falcon is zombified as long as the batteries last, you’re more like a man-with-the-ability-to-hunt-mice-from-above. Your daughter might be less horrified by the hummingbird pet. Maybe she’s mean, and wants to hunt mice too… perhaps as a cat? But watch out for your feet when you’re laying in bed.

Cock-fighting would be a totally different sport. As would horseback riding… perhaps such a large beast would be more nimble without a rider?

How about in-the-field research? Jane Goodall could have zombified a few of her favorite gorillas and gotten a totally different experience. Though, perhaps not with the same emotional impact.

Where would you go? What would you like to see from a bird’s or bug’s eye? Let me know in the comments below.

Also, here’s a bit of link-spam for you :)\ width=384

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