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Adventures in coffee-making: Parte the Firste

Today I am trying to sort out the order of operations in making iced coffee.  DON’T MOCK ME, coffee is serious stuff.  Empires have been raised and fallen over it’s use.

I have the following ingredients in hand:

64oz of old brewed coffee (in the fridge).

cup of sugar

cup of heavy cream

cup of ice

 

Attempt#1

Order:  Fill glass with ice.  fill to 3/4 with cold coffee.  Add 1 tbsp cream and 1 tbsp sugar.  stir.

Result:  The cream freezes to the ice cubes and the sugar stays mostly undissolved.

Assessment:  Tasty, but not very sweet.  When the coffee is gone you get this sugar-water mix because the sugar doesn’t dissolve.

Go Big or Go Home

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Sana Choudary for a couple of years now.  I took  my mobile start-up through the Yetizen accelerator program, so I know, first hand, that the issue of women in tech is something she feels needs to be, and CAN BE brought to parity.

She’s is putting together a new conference that focuses on how women can improve the way they do business NOW, is what is still a male-centric industry.  Not discuss, not protest, but rather develop strategies that are applicable to the business world in its current state.  The more of us that step up and make our businesses shine, the more of us there will be to serve as examples, as inspirations to the women that come next.

Go buy a ticket!

BeUrHero

 

The Djinni and the Bottle

Person of Interest Logo S02

Person of Interest Logo S02

 

When the shows creators were quizzed about the reveal of PRISM (IRL) they mentioned that they were surprised by the relative non-reaction of the general populace here in the US.  The idea that citizens might not actually care all that much about the Govt. being able to play the ultimate peeping tom was not what they had expected.  Within the show, however, they finally seem to have found their new footing.

See, there is this psychological barrier, this “djinni in a bottle” effect that we have with regards to technology and scientific effort.  You often have several groups all pushing towards the same goal, be it the splitting of the atom, the development of wearable technologies, the creation of a shampoo that doesn’t sting when it gets in your eyes, and they can often run neck and neck when it comes to approaching the finish line.  Oftentimes everyone hits a wall and the research just spins its wheels for a few years (or decades).

But eventually someone breaks through.  Sometimes it’s a newcomer with deep pockets backing a new team (like Google with Glass) sometimes it’s a team that’s been working on solving the problem for years and a piece of new research or tech kicks them over into the winner’s circle. But in almost all cases, once that barrier has been broken, once one person or team has made the discovery, more follow, and usually swiftly.

But the tragic thing is that oftentimes, the group that makes the discovery, who breaks the barrier first is not the group that survives.  They are not the ones who figure out how to use the technology, or turn it into a viable product.  Sometimes they get crushed and bought up by a company that played it safer, or a group that came late to the party, sometimes the discovery sits idle for years.

In POI, that djinni is now well and truly out of the bottle.  Rather than trying to recruit Finch and his team, the Desima group has simply gone around, acquiring a parallel technology and preparing to crush (in a very literal fashion) any and all competitors.  We are looking at the difference in mindset between Finch (who proposed the Machine as a Shield, as a defensive tool) and Desima (who is interested only in the business of running the world).  Historically, IRL, the groups who are more business minded generally come out the winners.  I’m looking forward (perhaps apprehensively) to seeing how POI’s creators resolve this conflict in their own (already eerily predictive) created universe.

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A last note, y’all may have noticed that I keep the comments closed on this blog.  I am, however, always willing to talk about any of these posts, so come find me on G+ if you like.  The blog is perpetually fighting SPAM posts (even with CAPTCHA and other safeguards in place) so I keep the comments closed.

Short forms

You know what I miss? Novellas. Or, what we now think of as novellas. I used to own stacks of books than ran 150-200 pages long. They were serials, like the Travis McGee novels I still have locked away in my storage unit, or classics like The Scarlet Pimpernel and it’s many sequels.

Recently, only a very few writers are permitted the novella form. I think the last one I saw as a standalone was Patricia McKillip’s “The Changeling Sea” back in the late 80′s.

They still exist, but usually in that odd flip-flop format, you know where they print one novella by a famous name author in the front half of the book, then you flip the book OVER and rotate it and voila! There is a completely different novella on the back.

But now, with the ebook coming to the fore, I’m wondering if page-count will be less important. I mean, open a half a dozen books in your average Barnes and Noble and you will find different typesetting, different formatting, a different number of words per page, just so that the book can hit a satisfying weight and feel in the hand. Sometimes you run across a book (looking at YOU, “Monuments Men” where the type is small and crowded, or you run into a book (A few recent Patterson novels have this) where the font is large and the kerning stretched as far as you can take it before the words start to fall apart.

But without the page count, without the need to make a reader feel like they are getting $8 work of paper and ink, what counts is a satisfying story. What counts is that, at the end of the work, the reader feels they paid just the right amount (or maybe even that they got a bargain).

A couple of publishers are starting to take advantage of this new opportunity. Tor, for example, publishes exclusive shorts from it’s bestselling authors. Some are short stories, some are novellas, all are works too short to fit into the trade paperback format, but all are works equally worthy of sale.

The Problem is the People

Today, Mt. Gox, reportedly the largest and best trusted of the Bitcoin exchanges, vanished entirely.  They didn’t just halt trading, they took everything offline and the name on the url seems to have been sold.

http://www.coindesk.com/mt-gox-loses-340-million-bitcoin-rumoured-insolvent/

And over 340 million has gone missing along the way.  Needless to say, the price of Bitcoin has tumbled (don’t expect that to last, however) and a lot of people seem to be rethinking their decision to jump on the Bitcoin Bandwagon.

The problem, however, isn’t with Bitcoin itself.  The virtual currency is itself sound, still (as far as I know) un-hackable and non-counterfeit-able.  The problem is with the exchanges and the techniques used to store, trade and sell Bitcoin.  Much of it is probably due to the speed with which Bitcoin has gone viral.  You’re seeing it mentioned in TV shows (even ones targeted at older ladies with cats, like Castle) on the news, the cat is out of the bag and what previously was a niche trading market is now going the way that baseball cards, comic books and that creepy old vase you found in great-auntie Aida’s attic.  It’s gone insane.  Millions of dollars are being shoveled into Bitcoin exchanges and (for better or worse) the common-man investors are entering the market, bringing with them a limited understanding of how Bitcoin works.  The exchanges that might have been able to slowly upgrade themselves and their security to accommodate a slow, reasonable adoption of Bitcoin as a currency, are now beset from both sides, from buyers clamoring to sign up and from malicious opportunists looking to exploit the flaws in the system.

This type of aggressive exploitation is not unique to Bitcoin either.  A quick stroll through the history of currency and exchanges in general will reveal that we are just seeing updated versions of the kinds of scams and hacks that have plagued every new transnational method.  These kinds of problems have been solved before, and when the Bitcoin exchanges solve their generations issues, then the currency will be ready for global adoption.