Friday Four

Friday, May 04, 2012

1. I dislike the emphasis of this column on the image (!) of the Occupy movement, but I am glad that the FBI stopped a bombing plot by infiltrating it. Kevin O'Brien of the Cleveland Plain Dealer also makes a good point: "Movements that are destructive in their ends, as Occupy is, have two choices: die when the public is not persuaded or turn to violence to justify continued existence." Guess which is happening? Perhaps a corollary is that such movements go underground.

2. If you've ever wondered why potato chip bags are so hard to open, then mosey on over to It's the Rheo Thing to find out:

The point here is that while technical options exist to prevent premature opening of the bag [i.e., when air pressure dropped in trucks driving through the Rockies from California --ed], such as reducing the initial air pressure in the bag, attempting to add this to the existing processing equipment would be a nightmare. So it was necessary to increase the seal strength.
The author should know: He came up with the solution to this problem.

3. Tech writer Alexis Madrigal gives his thoughts on why iPad sales results were below expectations:
I don't want to overpredict based on one number, but I've had a nagging sense from my own spotty iPad usage that the devices may remain a luxury. They don't quite replace your computer and they're not as mobile as your phone. What if the incredibly enthusiastic, urban, travel-all-the-time iPad early adopters actually have very different needs from the broader mobile computing market? What if beyond the perfect world travelers, the price is just too high for what you get? What if the upgrade cycle is going to be much, much slower than for phones?
As someone who is weary of seeing iPads overhyped, I recall thinking, "Yes. Thank you!" when I read that.

4. Ars Technica has run an interesting feature story on the Carrington Event of 1859, the most powerful solar storm in recorded history.
It hit quickly. Twelve hours after Carrington's discovery and a continent away, "We were high up on the Rocky Mountains sleeping in the open air," wrote a correspondent to the Rocky Mountain News. "A little after midnight we were awakened by the auroral light, so bright that one could easily read common print." As the sky brightened further, some of the party began making breakfast on the mistaken assumption that dawn had arrived.
Although this account mentions the enormous destructive potential such an event could have today, its main focus is on what it was like for the people who witnessed the week-long event.

-- CAV


RE said...

Actually, as is typical for The Atlantic, the article paints a very misleading picture. Tablet sales overall plummeted because it was the post-Christmas quarter. Apple released their refresh and not only held serve but basically dominated the sales that were there to be had. The raw numbers:

You can criticize Apple for a number of things *coughMacProNeglectedAndTooExpensivecough* but there's not much room for fault on how the iPad has done -- it really is replacing computers for a fairly broad market demographic. A demographic that does not include tech geeks like you and me. :)

Gus Van Horn said...


I believe I saw something to the effect that the big dip was due the end of the holidays at Ars Technica today, as well.