Engadget Tours Dyson’s Headquarters

Engadget got a pretty in-depth tour of Dyson’s Headquarters in England. These are the kind of articles that give you faith in people running companies. A company that is spending good money to keep ahead and in the lead in their market segment. While it is a tough pill to swallow, $500 plus dollars for a vacuum, it is undeniable that they have some great engineering.

Another great part of the article is that they do so much to treasure previous engineering feats. These are from the pioneers who advanced our knowledge to where it is now. It also is great when companies spend some of the massive profits they make, to keep old historical things going. Whether it is Dyson and some old jets or Norfolk Southern Railroad helping to keep a steam engine running.

Enough of my rambling, go read the article yourself: https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/14/dyson-hq-tour/

Apple has heavily customized the GPU in the iPhone 7

Macworld, along with a few other sources, have uncovered the fact that Apple has heavily customized the GPU in the iPhone 7. It has been no secret that after Apple announced their own custom CPU’s, they have be acquiring graphics chip talent at a voracious pace. As history has shown us before, this usually means they have plans to bring all of their GPU work in-house.

Cost Savings

Some will argue that this is a cost-saving move, because now they will not have to pay for the technology. I’d argue that increasing head count, benefits expenditure, etc. costs way more than licensing some designs and technology. Its why companies, I’d argue to their detriment, outsource things like IT staff. On top of that, I’m sure they would still have to license someones IP as Apple itself does not have any patents regarding graphics processing. I doubt they would be able to somehow engineer a solution that will not run afoul of the current technology leaders in this space.

Control and Leadership

I believe that this is more of a control play. Much like they caught the mobile processor space off guard with a production ready 64 bit solution, they wish to increase the performance/power lead in the graphics space with something their competitors can’t also license. I’m sure this will also help them control some of the leaks around new technology as well. This could prove fruitful as we know VR is becoming the next “big thing”, and GPU tech is what is needed to make it possible on mobile, and the desktop. Another possibility is that they want to use this same tech in their desktops instead of relying on AMD/Nvidia for their middling mobile solutions.

Only time will tell how this plays out. Macworld: http://www.macworld.com/article/3146630/mobile/the-mysteries-of-the-gpu-in-apples-iphone-7-are-unlocked.html#tk.rss_all

Finally Apple has cleaned up the App Store

Finally; finally; Apple has removed broken and outdated apps from the App Store. I always hated when you go looking for an app, find one that sounds perfect, and then you find out it hasn’t been updated in two years. Or you find an app that sounds super promising, but it has some bad reviews. And they you realize the developer hasn’t done anything since iOS 5. Hopefully this will make much easier to find apps and reward developers that are keep their applications up to date.

Thanks to AppleInsder: http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/11/15/apple-purges-47300-broken-outdated-app-store-titles-in-october

AeroGarden Round 2 – The end

AeroGarden Round 2 - Final
3 Herbs and 3 Lettuce at the end in the AeroGarden

AeroGarden round 2 has come to an end. 101 days planted, and some plants are dying and some are essentially not harvestable.  I did get some good salads out of this last go round, even with only 3 lettuce pods growing.

Lessons Learned

You really have to keep the Romaine trimmed, otherwise it will take off like you see in this last picture. It doesn’t have any edible leaves and it is trying reach the skies height wise.  Also, you really need to keep the lettuce trimmed on a regular basis, otherwise it grows out of control and you can trim off too much. I had one bad week that I wasn’t around and it grew out of control.

As far as growing herbs, I’d say unless you cook a ton, they aren’t worth it. I don’t cook enough with a use for herbs to justify growing them. The chives are just not flavorful enough to be useful, the parsley died an early death, and the basil grew out of control. With me not cooking a lot of pasta, to keep carbs under control, I ended up with a ton of basil with no use for it.

Next Round

In this next round I’m about to get a 7 pod lettuce kit. They sprout quick and I now know to keep it under control for this round.


Hard Drive Confiscated, Data Used 2 years Later

ArsTechnica brings us an article that will make anyone who enjoys freedom sick to your stomach. A person who was subject to an investigation had their computer and hard drive confiscated. At that time the government made a copy of said drive, obviously for evidence in the first case/investigation. They then used that copy two years later to build a separate case against them and that drive provided the damming evidence.

Hard Drive
All your data belongs to us

Now I get it, you may be saying well this person is a prior bad actor. They are a criminal and do not have the rights of us that aren’t. But this shouldn’t matter. This is akin to the government at one time getting a search warrant for your house, to investigate one case, but retaining a key and the right to come back later and have a look around for “other violations.”

Add further the fact that if you say, are crossing an international border, the government can search and seize your device. At that time they could make a clone of said drive and keep and mine the data for either a crime. What about if they keep the data and then try to argue you committed a crime prior to it becoming a crime?

I don’t seem to understand that as we citizens have made the governments job easier going all digital, they seem to need to change the rules that existed for paper and hard evidence. Just because it is now easier to store data/evidence doesn’t mean we should.

And what is the solution now? Do you encrypt and silo all of your data? Sure, there are those that will say if you are doing nothing wrong, what do you have to hide. But in a free society I shouldn’t have to concern myself with these things. Sadly with the way that warrants are handed out nowadays you may be involved in a case that you had no clue was coming. The rest of your data should not and never be used against you.

Link: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/05/feds-can-keep-your-hard-drives-indefinitely-and-search-them-too/

Thermaltake Tower Project Case

Thermaltake The Tower Project Computer Case
The Tower Project

Thermaltake unveiled a new high end computer case at Computex 2016 called the The Tower Project.  I have to admit at first look I really like it. There is almost this look of it being an aquarium for computer parts, which makes even more sense with liquid cooling.  Granted the downside is the case looks like it would take up a ton of desk real estate which goes against my newer trend of minimalism. Then again, the entire idea is it to be a show piece of your office.

More info here:  http://computex2016.thermaltake.com/news_view_th_531_1.html

Quick Italian Penne Dinner

When you have a crazy assortment of ingredients and not a lot of time you end up with something like this, an Italian Penne Dinner.

Penne with Tomatoes and Basil
Penne with Tomatoes and Basil

On my quest to eat healthier, I’ve been eating better portions and more vegetables. In my AeroGarden currently I have three types of lettuce which actually produce quite a bounty. I also have some fresh herbs in it, a nice healthy Genovese Basil plant is one.

Ingredients :

  • 3 oz Penne Pasta ( I used Barilla)
  • 1 Hot House tomato (Roma may have been better)
  • 3 leaves of Fresh Basil
  • Garlic Salt and Parmesan
  • Robusto Olive Oil

This is too easy, just boil some pasta. When done, mix the pasta with Olive Oil, add the basil and tomato, add a bit more olive oil and mix. Top with a bit of garlic salt and Parmesan and you have a great meal.

Panama Canal Railway Trains Recovered

Recently salvage crews pulled up old French Trains from the bottom of Lake Gatun, that were sent to build the original Panama Canal Railway.  These were sent over as part of the original excavation effort to create the Panama Canal. Sitting at the bottom of Lake Gatun for almost a century, they are actually in very good shape. Not only do they have steam locomotives, but they have a full fleet of muck cars as well. Head on over to Vintage News for more information and pictures.

Link: Recovered 100 years later: Panama Canal workers flooded a derelict railway yard in 1910

Russia researching undersea cable locations

Ars Technica has an interesting article discussing US Intelligence reports that Russian subs are committing “aggressive” activity near underwater cables. While good intelligence is always looking at all information and possible scenarios, I have to say I think this one is a bit of a red herring.

First, looking the map included in the story, they would have to cut 20+ cables to have an effect on the global internet. This would mean a ton of missions all being conducted at once, or they would have to plant some sort of charge all over the place to conduct the operations at the same time. All this without being found out. On top of that, I don’t believe that Russia has enough submarines to conduct a mission of that scale.

Second, what would they expect to achieve by this? They won’t bring down the global network and at worst, they will slow things down. Plus, they have nothing to gain by crippling the global economy. One would assume that they would mean to make themselves the new global superstore and sell their resources. If all countries can’t send payments etc. how do they expect to be the worlds new global superstore.

It does begat the question though, that if we are so reliant on these networks and have no good backup, we really do need to do something about this.

Lastly, we have been doing this as well. So is this a new plan or just a response to our own “research” activity. If we do something, Russia will do it as well. Whether they are doing it for some actual research or at the very least to let us know they are watching.

I really think of all the threats we have in the current climate today, this one is so low on the priority list why even worry about it.

Link: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/10/russian-navys-aggressive-activity-near-underwater-cables-worries-us/

Tivo Bolt First Look

I finally got tired of using the local cable companies clunky DVR box. A Scientific Atlanta/Cisco box with the bone stock GUI and firmware. It was miserable to use and made me not want to watch TV. After also realizing I was paying $16 a month for this “privilege” I decided to lower my monthly cost and buy a Tivo Bolt.

Tivo Bolt
The Tivo Bolt in its natural habitat.

I went with the 500 GB model as I don’t record a whole lot of TV. Plus if I do somehow need more storage, I can buy an external drive to upgrade it. I also bought a Tivo Mini extender for my bedroom so I can enjoy all of my cable and recorded shows from my bed if I like.

The Good

  • The UI is incredible. Coming from the stock cable box UI which looked like it was drawn in paint, the Tivo UI feels like it is in this century
  • So far i’m intrigued by the idea that it will record shows it thinks I will like.
  • It is nice that it has apps for Netflix, Amazon, etc.
  • I like that I can get essentially all of the functionality in another room with the Mini box. Much cheaper than the cable companies solution.

The Bad

  • You need to have wired ethernet run to the box if you want to us MoCa for the Tivo Mini. I was unaware of this at the time and ended up running Powerline Ethernet throughout my place (I rent and cannot run Ethernet through the house).


  • I’ve heard some people think the new design is ugly. I actually kind of like it, it looks different when sitting in the dark wood cavity of my entertainment center.

I’m actually working on a longer more thorough review to be posted soon.