Archives for: July 2011

George Carlin and Stuff

posted by ben on 11.07.03 at 13:37, null, null, 1 comment Permalink

I'm a little concerned about the masses of things I cart around when moving from place to place. I think I have far more belongings than many of my old friends, yet fewer than most any of my peers. It's an odd place to be. The past few weeks I've been cutting down massively, selling all sorts of random stuff on ebay. That was more trouble than it's worth.


Thinking more about the Stross augmented consciousness sort of thing, I'm wondering if blindly getting rid of my belongings is a bad idea. The books, music and movies I've consumed have had a significant effect on my character.

The physical items serve as useful reminders. While I may never read most of the books I have, they are useful both as reference and as a symbol that serves to trigger memories. If I actually knew anything about how the brain works perhaps this argument would be coherent.

Comment from: Pat Burns [Visitor] ·
I think of my books as carbon storage.
Permalink 07/05/11 @ 09:16

The Ben in the High Castle

posted by ben on 11.07.02 at 12:09, null, null, 1 comment Permalink

I really like the high floor on buildings. This could be the result of 5 years of staring at walls out my window in Seattle, NY and London. I'm wondering if there's a way to get the high floor without all that bit in the middle.

In Texas they put the parking garages on the low floors and the apartments higher up. What about something a little more extreme?

I'm thinking Cloud City of Bespin from Star Wars or that floating city in Dragon Ball Z. I think we might be able to build that relatively cheaply.

You would need to generate lift somehow. Some options immediately spring to mind:
(1) Live in a tethered blimp. It could be filled with helium or perhaps hot air heated through solar, gas, even an electric heater tethered to solar panel/electric grid on the ground.
(2) As long as you're thinking about powering it, why not use gigantic helicopter like blades. I wonder what the math works out to on that one.

Really all I'm thinking is a tractor trailer in the sky with a little elevator. That should be eminently doable. I'm really wondering about buying a couple acres in the middle of nowhere on a lake in Texas... actually the lake might have an added bonus if this thing failed catastrophically...

In the meantime I'll have to settle for Hilton upgrading me to the executive floor.

Comment from: ben [Member] ·
Permalink 07/16/11 @ 15:40

Melty Plastic Goo

posted by ben on 11.07.02 at 12:02, null, null, technology, Leave a comment Permalink

I'm a little disappointed by the 3d printers out there, at least the hobbyist ones. I'm not sure about the professional machines yet.

I would think these things are going to explode as soon as it's possible to print a 3d printer on a 3d printer. The RepRap people seem to claim you can print one but that's a little disingenuous as you buy all the exciting bits and then print a little plast to help hold them together.

Part of the issue is that I'm having a hard time imagining what you could print out of plastic that would actually be useful. I look around my apartment and virtually nothing is made out of plastic. As many things as I could manage are wood, metal, paper, leather. I am wondering if I go ahead with this wearable thing if it might be useful to fab bits out of plastic on one of these things. Not sure...

Since 3d printers self duplicating seem a long way off, I'm wondering what else there might be.

Some sort of home lithography thing would be fascinating. Just keep printing more and more nodes, maybe buy a bunch of solar cells. If nothing else, I could always aim the thing at making me some bitcoins.

Not terribly exciting either, but better.

What if you could build a little solar powered earth mover? Set it loose on a couple acres in the middle of nowhere in Texas and have it build a modern great pyramid? That seems at least moderately feasible.

I wonder what it would take to get that going...

Gargoyle Cowboy

posted by ben on 11.07.02 at 10:56, null, null, hci, 1 comment Permalink

I just read Accelerando by Charlie Stross and am having a bit of a cyber utopian moment. Apparently this is well timed as I just got a call from a friend in London claiming the venture cap is flowing like it's 1999.

One of the three protagonists, Manfred, builds up a custom wearable from random bits and pieces to augment his memory. I'm wondering if technology has gotten to the point where it's finally possible to do this. I've made a few fitful attempts in the past but a combination of crap technology and my cheapness made it impossible.

I'm wondering if goggles/glasses are not the way to go. They'd be great if there were COTS HUDS but those don't exist. What if instead you had a number of small displays, much like a cross between a trader's workstation and the numerous magnifying glasses watchmakers used to mount on their heads. You could move them around and still have some semblance of interaction with reality even if no one would talk with you.

So, I'm thinking:

(1) Cowboy Hat (maybe a top hat?)
(2) Drill a couple holes in it and mount some little displays. Something like these Of course it looks like these have some awful interface that is VGA but not through a VGA plug, so there's probably a lot of work involved in getting this going.
(3) Now you need to provide computer power for the thing. Maybe a stripped netbook with VGA out and a three way splitter? Maybe the innards of a full laptop? I'm a little stuck here.
(4) Then there's the question of battery life. This really needs to have enough juice to go for a day.
(5) Net connectivity is easy. Just jam a USB 3G card in the top and you're good to go.
(6) Input used to be a nasty problem. Now I'm just thinking bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Maybe those pretty Apple ones. It'd be nice if there were something you could use while wandering around but the convenience of a real input device probably outweighs this.

I really like the idea of building this all into a 5lb hat. It might be a little heavy, but it'd be some much better than dealing with a million cables.

Comment from: ben [Member] ·
It looks like putting together what I'm imagining would cost something like $10,000. I suppose I'll wait another 5 years and look again.

I'm thinking about buying a Lenovo X220T to replace my work computer. It seems like it would be a good ubiquitous thing to cart around the country.
Permalink 07/03/11 @ 13:32