Friday, August 19, 2016
1. Is Google losing its mojo as a search
engine? I don't know, but I'll be just fine, at least whenever I need
to find something from my own archives.
Here's what I get when I use Google's custom search for an author I distinctly remember mentioning at some point in the past:
Your search - Petroski site:gusvanhorn.blogspot.com - did not match any documents. [format edits]Using the Linux command, "grep" was much more useful:
$ grep -l Petroski 20??/??/*.htmlThree cheers for grep! This command (and others like it) save me enormous amounts of time on a daily basis because I employ it in scripts that allow me to follow news from many different sources quite efficiently.
2. And speaking of Henry Petroski, author of The Evolution of Useful Things, I recently enjoyed this lengthy, but fascinating article in Popular Mechanics about the many inventions behind the pencil. Here's an excerpt:
At the dawn of the fighting, England imposed an embargo on France, which had been one of the primary importers of English pencils. While it may have made sense militarily, the embargo had a nasty side effect on England's commerce. France suddenly suffered a shortage of pencils and graphite. A year after the war started, French Minister of War Lazare Carnot commissioned scientist and military commander Nicolas-Jacques Conté to find a solution.The piece mentions and draws upon another book by Petroski, The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance.
At the time, Conté was working on military uses for the newly invented hot air balloon, an effort that cost him his left eye when a balloon experiment resulted in an explosion. Conté had to push the balloon project aside to find a new way to make pencils. That meant either finding a substitute for graphite or coming up with a suitable mixture of graphite and another substance. The story goes that it took the inventor just a few days to come up with an answer.
3. And returning to Google, I am looking forward to trying out its new competitor to Apple's FaceTime app and Microsoft's Skype:
Video calling is the next best thing to being with someone in person, but too often it can be a frustrating or complicated experience. You shouldn't have to worry about whether your call will connect, or if your friend is using the same type of device as you are. It's no wonder that nearly half of us never make video calls on mobile*. [bold added, asterisk in original]Assuming this works better than search and is as easy to use as it sounds, I'm looking forward to trying it out and spreading the word.
4. I was a young man in the 1990's, so I'll indulge myself a little, here:
Q: What is an Achiever?There's quite a bit more in that vein at the LebowskiFest site.
A: "Achiever" is the preferred nomenclature for a fan of The Big Lebowski. Yes, and proud we are of all of them.