The Quotable Elon Musk 

Monday, May 11th, 2015

As the title suggests, Elon Musk is the subject of Ashlee Vance’s new book, “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future”. The Washington Post has pulled out some of the best quotes from the book.

14. “I wanted him to meet me behind security so he couldn’t pack a gun.” — Jim Cantrell, describing his first meeting with Elon Musk. Cantrell was once accused of espionage by Russians, so he was fearful when he received a call from a stranger with an accent asking to help him with a space program. They met in an airport, hit it off, and would later travel to Russia hoping to buy rockets.

Taller 

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Jamaal Allan is a high school teacher in Iowa, one who plays basketball and lists Muhammad Ali as an inspiration. He’s also white.

“And she said, ‘Oh, you’re Jamaal, I expected you were going to be’ — and there was a very long, very pregnant pause,” Allan recalls. “And the word she came up with was ‘taller.'”

As Little as One-Tenth as Much

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Mother’s Day is this Sunday in the US, and throughout much of the world.1 On the 10th, many an overpriced greeting card will be given, and many a brunch will be eaten. Most folks will plan to do something for their own mothers. You ought to do something for the mother of your own children as well. But if you’re married, what do you do about the ol’ mother-in-law? This seems a thorny problem indeed.

Fortunately, GroupOn is there to help you show just how much you care:

Gifts for Mom-in-Low: $5; Gifts for Mom up to $50

Now we know: As long as you spend at least 10% as much on your mother-in-law as you do on your own mother, your gift-giving will be beyond reproach. You should also aim to spend $5, because that appears to be the magic number. In fact, according to the subject of this email, $5 gifts are “[p]erfect for Mothers-in-Law”.

And just what can you get for $5? Well, who wouldn’t love a five-dollar haircut?

$5 Haircut

And of course, in addition to jewelry and custom photo printed mugs, there’s crap like this:

Notepad; Magazine Subscription
Hey, at least this stuff runs out

This one cracked me up:

Photo on a trivet

It’s sort of awful to put a burning hot casserole dish on a picture of your baby’s face, isn’t it? But if your mother-in-law has only barely-concealed contempt for you, get her a trivet featuring your ugly mug. She’ll get to act out her most violent fantasies, while your own skin survives unscathed, and that’s a classic win-win scenario.

Perhaps the best offer, however, is this one:

Eyebrow Shaping and Waxing

Why tell your mother-in-law that her eyebrows are a goddamned disgusting travesty, and that you can barely stand to look at her? Instead give her a thoughtful deal that leaves the truth politely unspoken, while also allowing her to fix that heinous mess.

The best part?

Eyebrow Shaping and Waxing: Sold Out!

I guess people really do hate their mothers-in-law.


Footnotes:

  1. When I was visiting England back in March, I happened upon this sign:

    Mother's Day March 15th

    My momentary panic was quelled upon realizing those wacky Brits have their own date for Mother’s Day. ↩︎

Nightmareliner 

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Apparently, Boeing’s 787 has another problem. This one is caused by an integer overflow bug, which basically means that eventually the airplane counts so high that it goes a little nuts. Yes, really.

From the FAA directive on the issue:

…a Model 787 airplane that has been powered continuously for 248 days can lose all alternating current (AC) electrical power due to the generator control units (GCUs) simultaneously going into failsafe mode…We are issuing this AD to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane.

Oh. Shit. Well, that’s alright I’m sure. After all, the FAA directive also gives clear directions on avoiding the issue:

(g) Repetitive Maintenance Task: Electrical Power Deactivation

At the latest of the times specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD, accomplish electrical power deactivation on the airplane, in accordance with step 2) in “DESIRED ACTION” of Boeing Multi Operator Message MOM-MOM-15-0248-01B, dated April 19, 2015; or Boeing Multi Operator Message MOM-MOM-15-0248-01B(R1), dated April 20, 2015. The main and auxiliary power unit (APU) batteries do not need to be disconnected when performing the electrical power deactivation. Repeat the electrical power deactivation thereafter at intervals not to exceed 120 days.

(1) Within 120 days after the last electrical power deactivation in accordance with step 2) in “DESIRED ACTION” of Boeing Multi Operator Message MOM-MOM-15-0248-01B, dated April 19, 2015; or Boeing Multi Operator Message MOM-MOM-15-0248-01B(R1), dated April 20, 2015.

(2) Within 120 days after the date of issuance of the original certificate of airworthiness or the date of issuance of the original export certificate of airworthiness.

(3) Within 7 days after the effective date of this AD.

Ok, great, great. As long as they remember to reboot the plane, we’ll be completely free from danger!

Immediately Everything Was Wrong 

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

As Dave prepares to end his decades-long late-night run, Conan O’Brien has a few words on David Letterman.

Cupertino, Start Your Photocopiers 

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Windows 10 is coming, and when it arrives it will instantly catapult Microsoft to the front of the pack when it comes to emoji. This summer, the company from Redmond will be providing the world with these glorious glyphs:

Windows 10 Emoji Middle Fingers
Such wonderful diversity, too!

I’ve previously expressed my concern that I’ll have to switch my mobile OS to Android. Now, I’m terrified I’m going to have to switch to Windows as well. For now, I’m fervently hoping Apple shows us something good at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June.

Water Resistant-Ish

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Today, we’re going to dive deep on the subject of the water resistance of the Apple Watch! Let’s begin with a brief discussion on nomenclature.

While the term is often used casually, most watches are not actually “waterproof” (generally, only high-end dive watches actually use this word in marketing). However, just about all wristwatches are “water-resistant” to some degree, with even cheap digital watches offering excellent water resistance. For most people, these watches are effectively waterproof. Standard use, including swimming, will have no ill effects.

Unfortunately, devices in the new category known as smartwatches have often lacked good water resistance, and the Apple Watch is definitely not a leader in this area. When Apple first unveiled the Apple Watch in 2014, they made no public mention whatsoever of its ability to withstand water. At the time, however, some reporters did receive a bit more information. The word from Apple was that “sweating, wearing it in the rain, washing your hands, or cooking with it are fine”, but you should “[t]ake it off before you swim or get in the shower”.

The next news came in February, when Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly stated that he wears his Apple Watch even in the shower. Here’s a really mediocre French-to-English Google translation of the statement in question:

According to the report that is in us, the boss explained that Apple now always wore his watch “even in the shower.” Casually, it’s since Apple has never communicated info on the tolerance of his watch to water: rather dog or cat instead? It was just a visual on the site with a sporty wet arm but not swimming scenes.

I included this lousy translation (the report is where?) mostly because I really love the idea of measuring a watch as having “dog-like” or “cat-like” water-tolerance. It’s not at all precise, but it certainly is evocative.

Apple’s site was updated in March to include an official water-resistance rating, stating:

Apple Watch is splash and and water resistant but not waterproof. You can, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise, in the rain, and while washing your hands, but submerging Apple Watch is not recommended. Apple Watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529. The leather bands are not water resistant.

Now, the IP Code is actually a bit tricky. That IPX7 rating means only that the device can handle immersion in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. It doesn’t tell us anything about other types of water resistance. A footnote from the above-linked Wikipedia page leads to this page, which states:1

Ratings IPX7 and IPX8: Tests for the ratings IPX7 and IPX8 address the possibility of moisture ingress from submersion in water. For IPX7 testing, the sample is submerged for 30 minutes. The lowest point of the enclosure should be 1000 mm below the surface of the water, and the highest point at least 150 mm below the surface…Compliance with either of these tests does not imply compliance with IPX5 or IPX6 unless the product is marked with both ratings (for example, “IPX5/IPX7”). [Emphasis added]

Thus, an IPX7-rated device like the Apple Watch does not necessarily include any protection from water jets (IPX5, IPX6, IPX6K) like those found in a shower. It would seem odd for Apple’s CEO to admit to showering with his Apple Watch if the device can’t actually handle it though, right? Of course, Cook was never quoted as stating that the device survived the shower. Perhaps it’s all part of an evil strategy to trick customers into drowning their watches, forcing them to buy new ones.

On April 24th, the watch was finally released to the public. Due to myriad factors, including the direction of the Earth’s rotation, the placement of the so-called “International Date Line”, and—well look, it’s all very technical. Suffice it to say that Australians got the watch hours upon hours ahead of their jealous counterparts to the West. The young New Zealand lads at FoneFox did some stress testing, posting a video of the watch surviving the shower, a bucket of water, and even a swim in a pool.

Apple Watch in Pool
Apple Watch: Takes a(n extremely shallow) dive and still stays alive

The watch outperformed its IPX7 certification, and all previous announcements, both formal and informal. In fact, the Apple Watch performed so well that the FoneFox folks rewarded it by bashing it to death with a hammer. If you’re still waiting on your Apple Watch, you may wish to skip that video, but you should know that it took several strikes to break the watch. It turns out that much like yourself, a bit of water won’t kill the Apple Watch, but four blows right to the face probably will.

Nevertheless, between Apple’s CEO stating that he showers with the Apple Watch and the Kiwis stress-testing it, it would seem to offer good water resistance. And yet most recently, I stumbled upon the following, buried on page 137 of the 159 page Apple Watch User Guide:

Exposure to liquid Apple Watch is water resistant but not waterproof. You may, for example, wear and use Apple Watch during exercise (exposure to sweat is OK), in the rain, and while washing your hands. If water splashes on to the watch, wipe it off with a nonabrasive, lint-free cloth.

Submerging Apple Watch is not recommended. Apple Watch has a water resistance rating of IPX7 under IEC standard 60529…The following may affect the water resistance of Apple Watch and should be avoided:

  • Dropping Apple Watch or subjecting it to other impacts.

  • Submerging Apple Watch in water for long periods of time.

  • Swimming or bathing with Apple Watch.

  • Exposing Apple Watch to pressurized water or high velocity water, for example, showering, water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, jet skiing, and so on.2

  • Wearing Apple Watch in the sauna or steam room.

If nothing else, it would appear that Tim Cook is violating the recommendations of his own company’s user guide. Assuming he was accurately quoted by a French website describing a meeting Cook had with retail employees in Germany, anyhow. Regardless, there’s definitely some confusion as to just how water resistant the Apple Watch really is.

So it is that I, and you, arrive at the end of this post without any real conclusion. Real-world tests indicate that the Apple Watch is fairly rugged. It can certainly stand up to use while running and sweating, and it also seems capable of withstanding trips into the shower. Apple appears to be under-promising and over-delivering, which is better than the reverse. As well, given that the company certainly wants to avoid their brand new product acquiring a reputation for flakiness, they’d be foolish not to swap any water-damaged devices which succumbed under reasonable usage. All that is to say that while Apple should probably do a better job of explaining exactly what users can expect in the real-world, you probably don’t need to worry much.


Footnotes:

  1. At the time of writing, that page wouldn’t load, so the Internet Archive’s wonderful Wayback Machine was used to retrieve it. ↩︎

  2. It seems just a bit ridiculous for “showering” to be lumped together with “water skiing, wake boarding, surfing, (and) jet skiing”, no? ↩︎

Hoist With Their Own Petard 

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

On Tuesday of this week, Twitter’s stock (their actual stock), took a beating. What made it tank? Well, it all started with a tweet.

Weird and Wrong

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

This afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles are scheduled to square off against the Chicago White Sox. While it’s a home game for Baltimore, there won’t be any Orioles fans in attendance at Camden Yards. For that matter, there won’t be any White Sox fans either. Due to the civic unrest in Baltimore, and following postponement’s of Monday and Tuesday nights’ games, Major League Baseball has made the unprecedented decision to host today’s game in private.

The title of this post reveals my thoughts on the matter. This feels downright un-American. While European football has hosted matches “behind closed doors”, it’s simply not something which has ever been done in the US before. The idea of a professional sports match being played in a vacuum is disturbing, almost dystopian. Given current events, it’s also tone-deaf. Bad things are happening in Baltimore, and forcing these teams to play strikes a sour note.

Rescheduling this game may be difficult, but it’s not as if MLB is unfamiliar with the process. Baseball isn’t an all-weather sport and rain causes games to be rescheduled dozens of times each season. Further, the postponed games from Monday and Tuesday still need to be played, so it hardly seems impossible for this contest to be held at a later date as well.

More To Take In

There’s plenty more to absorb with this story, but let’s boil it down to some peculiar bullet points:

  • This weekend, Baltimore was supposed to host Tampa Bay for three games. Instead, those games will be played down in Florida.

  • Even though the games will be in Tampa Bay, Baltimore will be the “home team” this weekend. Getting to play “at home” on the road is bad enough, but doing it at one of the worst stadiums in the world is a real shit sandwich. Tampa Bay’s stadium is nicknamed “The Trop”, which sounds like a venereal disease, and it only gets worse from there.

  • Baltimore and Tampa Bay are scheduled to play two more weekend series at Tampa Bay this season. Why not swap one of those series with this weekend’s?

  • Baltimore will earn the revenues from whatever tickets manage to sell down for the games down in Florida. Tampa Bay has been the lowest-drawing team for three straight years, and that’s for games which were actually scheduled to be played there, so Baltimore can probably look forward to a nice mid-to-high four-figures check.

  • Fans affected by these schedule changes will be able to exchange their tickets on a “dollar for dollar” basis, but it appears no refunds will be issued. As well, exchanging requires either a trip to the box office or via certified mail.

Just Don’t Do It

There’s a whole lot of baseball-related lousiness going on here, but today’s game is undoubtedly the worst part of the whole mess. Holding a sporting event in the middle of a rioting city is fraught enough, but at least a claim could be made of doing it for the fans desiring a dose of normality. Playing to an empty stadium, however, will only alienate the public further. If a city isn’t safe enough to host a baseball game in front of a crowd, it shouldn’t host a baseball game at all.

Nevertheless, that’s what’s scheduled to happen this afternoon. While you can’t see it in person, this bizarre Orioles—White Sox matchup is available to watch free on MLB.tv at 2 PM. It should really be something to see.

You Know What They Say 

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

If at first you don’t succeed, murder-for-hire again.

Also, what percentage of supposed “hit men” are actually undercover cops? 95%? 99%? More?