Thursday, October 26, 2017

Amazon Key: Have Packages Dropped INSIDE your home... Wait, What?

Ever have you had packages stolen from your porch?
Are you never home because you work dawn til dusk?
Do you share your entire life with the world via social media?

Then you're probably a Millennial and Amazon Key is for you.

While the concept stands to reason that controlling one of the oldest interfaces in your home with an Internet-Connected interface, might be a step into the future, it's down-right scary to anyone older than 35.  Read the top comment on the above video to see the harsh rejection that has come from the public. It's fairly clear that the general public does not believe that Amazon has their interests at heart.

Personally, I have Internet-Connected (Nest) Cameras all over my house so that I can see the activity OUTSIDE of my home.  While I do have one camera INSIDE, its squarely pointed at the family pet (our Cockatiel, who rarely leaves his cage).   I am probably one of the few who would be willing to have a delivery person drop off a package inside the house, but my spouse would not.  But I can definitely see why many people reject this concept.

One of the last bastions of defense and security to our private lives is opened to a total stranger through the use of Amazon Key. While the actor in the video may be acting like the trust-worthy face of Amazon, we do not know what the Amazon delivery driver in our local town is like.  Is Amazon willing to back the possibly liability issues that may occur with this service?  Is the added fee enough to cover insurance claims when it fails?

Amazon is a huge company and there is probably more to the suggestion of Amazon Key than merely offering a different sort of security for packages and entry to our homes.  Like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri, the large data mining corporations of this age want all that they can get from us, and access to our homes is likely the greatest gold mine of all.  Where does it stop, or does it stop?

It starts and stops with each of us.  While these corporations have the money to launch a concept to offer features that might be pleasing, there is no mandate to use these offers.  Like Facebook, the choice to post our personal information belongs to each of us; the choice to allow Amazon into our homes is also in our power.  Of course they have a great, fast delivery service, with an immense library of products, but we are the customers and we have the option choose (thankfully).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

E-Ink Clock

E-Ink Clock, based on E-Reader Screen

For ages, ever since I first heard of such things, I have had a minor obsession with Electronic Paper or E-Ink.  

And while searching about the internet today (Sunday, Oct 15, 2017) I came across an MIT Engineer's project to turn an E-Reader Screen into a clock.  

"This is PERFECT!!", I wrote on his blog post.  Because it was exactly what I was looking for.  A large format clock that could be managed by a digital interface.  Granted what I am hoping for in the long run is a Wireless connection so that the clock or device could be used for more than just the clock face that is shown.

My interest in these formats is that they can be changed easily and power cheaply.  Like a Grandfather clock, the power was mechanical and cheap, requiring only that the clock be wound up again by hand every so often.   It's not quite the same here, but then the utility is far more than just telling time.

I want a digital clock to be able to change faces and offer more than just the time, but also possibly the weather.  But I want feedback too.  With a Grandfather clock you'll never know if it's not working until you see that it is either out of winding or when winding it does nothing. 

A wirelessly connected digital clock could give feedback to the user, like battery levels, hyper local weather info (maybe even visual info).  But on output side, a digital, internet-connected clock could list an immense amount of information that can be updated every minute.  The Time, the Date, the Weather, a News Headline, a Favorite Stock price, Times in other zones.... And with an adaptable screen the output can be reformatted to meet with other styles or formats. 

In essence, it becomes an interactive device.   

Thank you to Michael Kainer for building this device.  I look forward to further development on the E-Ink Clock.  Please check out his blog for more information on this device

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Automatic Vehicle Sunshade

Automatic Vehicle Sunshade; Not Stylish, but Still Alluring

I've found some particularly odd new tech things on the interwebs, but this one caught my intrigue.  I'm still not sure if it was my interest or disgust that lured me to the Amazon page for this product. At the very least, they make a good pitch for the product.


You may remember that uncontrollable set of environmental variables under which we live daily, also known as the Climate.  It definitely plays a major role in the reason that we do not all ride motorcycles and that we rely so heavily on that portable HVAC inside our motorcars.  So, why again do we need an Automatic Sunshade to place atop said vehicle? Is the exterior shell of the vehicle not enough?

By the testimony of anyone who has owned a vehicle that is black exterior with black interior, even limo-tint doesn't stop the sun from hitting the roof of the vehicle. If only there were a way to block the Sun's rays before they hit the vehicle.

Enter: the Vehicle Sunshade

Laying aside for the moment any latent American style-struggles, there is a very practical side to this product.  It blocks heat in exactly the same way that a beach umbrella keeps you cool on the sand.  It takes the brunt of the Sun's rays to keep it from hitting the vehicle, like a beach umbrella or a tree's leaves or the next floor up in a garage. But unlike all those other items, it is designed to be portable and easily usable on the roof of a vehicle. 

Style: The Bane of American Intellect

What shallow individual would dare be caught taking the time to make a practical change to their vehicle.  This is 'why' we have window-tint, not just that it makes us look 'cool'.  This device takes time to setup, time that could be otherwise spent aimlessly wandering around the mall or checking out the opposite gender, while looking 'cool'. 

Practicality: The Real Reason for this Post

I quite like this product.  It is a good idea.  But is has it's limits.  For the model at the top, the Lanmodo, it's a tad-bit heavy at 30 lbs to lugging about in the trunk of my vehicle.  It's also a bit of overkill with it's automated opening and closing.  However, It is shown on the website to be useful in more ways than one, as a Tent or Canopy.  It has a battery that can charge a phone or run a projector.  

The general concept of the Vehicle Sunshade appears to have taken-off as several manufacturers have taken to Amazon to sell the idea. If you search for "lanmodo" as I did, it will yield at least 3 other offerings. (YEEGE, YIKESHU, Dr. Deng)

Final Thoughts

For those who live in the desert, this seems like a pretty good idea.  I used to live in Bakersfield, California where the weather was known to crest 40-45 C (104 - 113 F) all summer.  I lost, to excessive heat, more than one car-thermometer, the highest record stuck the last one at a record 57 C (135 F ).  I would have liked to have had one of these sunshades back then. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

MST3k Hybrid B-Movie Names

Mystery Science Theater Returns with some amazing awesomeness.

In episode four of the new season, Jonah (the host) makes a Public Service Announcement on behalf of all who love / hate Hybrid B-Movies.  They have registered the names of as many concepts as they could think of and scrolled them on the screen, mocking them.

Here they are...

  • Snowcano
  • Triceraquake
  • Birdaclysm
  • Gatorlanche
  • Ghost Orca
  • Horsetapus
  • Three-Toes Blitzsloth
  • Rainicane
  • Frog Fog
  • Pugslide
  • Gatoricane
  • Underlanche
  • Brunchtapus
  • Narwarlrus: Arctic Terror
  • Blitzcano
  • Blitzfrog
  • Crocowasteland
  • Mastodennui
  • Swanpedo
  • Firenadosarurus
  • Eaglesaurus: American Frightmare
  • Tor-NATO
  • T-Rexplosion
  • Clamorrhoids
  • Frankesnake Riftbeaver Vs. Outer Space Napalmuskrat
  • Abominable Meg Snow Spiders
  • Beet Wave
  • Vocanosaurus Rex
  • Wooly Clammoth
  • Dinoseal
  • Beluga Moose
  • Rabbitoxicity
  • Rabbi Rabbit
  • Pugslide 2: The Puggenining
  • Cesium Storm-odile
  • Monsoonicane 6000
  • Monsoonasaurus
  • Ptarmageddon
  • Blitztastrophe
  • Sunfishoscopy
  • Cancercano
  • Snaketological Duckopalypse Vs. Protopuffin
  • Catpuffin
  • Bluejayquake
  • Buffalocalypse
  • Volecano Vs. Mole-atron
  • Snowbeaver Vs. Ultra-Fox
  • Lemonado
  • Streptocrocker Spaniel
  • Mechaflood Vs. CloneSnake
  • Swanquake
  • Moose Moth Vs. Lemming Bear
  • Mothometer Vs. Pianodon
  • Ponyshark Meets the Tortostito
  • Basswasp
  • Velociwalrus
  • El-Nino Bear
  • Spider-Man: But a Monster, not the Superhero
  • Roboquake
  • Beaglebot Vs. Horsetapus
  • Shark-Heatindexwarning
  • Tarantullama
  • Blitzcanoswordapocalastronaut
  • Dogclopse II
  • Volcanosaurus Rex
  • BlitzCraig
  • Adobe Flashflood
  • Fraggle Rockslide
  • Frankenferrent
  • Rikki Tikki Tarantula
  • Robo-Bonobo
  • Sharkstesthiologist Vs. Proctologerbil
  • Clowntapus
  • Skunk Bucket
  • Mech-Shakespeare-icane
  • Magpatonsil
  • Platapocalypse Vs. Clownocerus
  • Cari-BOO
  • Raptor Identity Theft 2016
  • Wooly Clammoth Vs. Leopardvangelist
  • Nerdemic
  • Global Worming
  • Night of the Were-Dads
  • Sharkstadon
  • Rhinoculus
  • Shrimptologastrophe
  • Will Feral Cats
  • GoatSwarm
  • Kangapus Vs. Gullfrog
  • Mastadonatello
  • Underwater Kidnaposaurus
  • Robocowboys Vs. Sickle Squid Anemia
  • Influenzalanche
  • Glutenoceros
  • Mammalsquid Vs. Sandstorm
  • Lionado
  • Wedgiegeddon
  • Underground Coyoteprawn Meets the Tsunami Crab Squirrel