Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Money for artists when art is free

Anything that can be distributed digitally tends towards free, even if people are willing to pay. The money usually needs to come from somewhere else, then, and things that are not free: merchandise and experiences. Meeting someone, talking with them, getting their autograph, seeing them perform their work live, are all experiences that cannot be copied. Official merchandise (mugs, shirts, physical copies of books, music and movies) is relatively easy to copy or knock off, but what you can't copy are the actual props, set pieces and costumes used in filming a movie or TV show. Their uniqueness and history is their value, rather than their shape or materials.

How does this relate to books? As ebooks become more popular and their price tends towards free (however slowly it gets there), the money in writing will have to come from more public appearances by authors, or by selling autographed artifacts, or, most likely, the rights to make movies and TV out of their works. They can't very well sell off the artifacts of their writing in this digital age, or rather, they can, but there aren't enough of them to make money from. "This is the very keyboard on which So-and-so wrote my favourite book!" It's a one-off discussion piece, but selling your keyboard after every book would be hardly worth it. You'd have to sell Skype time or perhaps charge for personal correspondence, which is not just annoying but unwieldy and off-putting.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It will be interesting to see where the world ends up.
PPS - Public appearances and tours will become a lot more important, I expect.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

The limits of summarisation

Ideas and words can only be summarised so far before they start losing their essence, in the same way that binary data can only be compressed so far before losing something. You can summarise stories down a long way to a description of the setting and main characters, but in doing so you miss out a lot of the nuances, and a lot of incidental settings and characters too. You can make them shorter to some degree, but eventually, to reach a certain word count, some scenes are going to have to disappear. If you have a story containing one hundred scenes, you can't possibly summarise it to fifty words, or else each single word would have to represent two entire scenes. If it contains twenty essential characters, summarising it in fifteen words won't even let you name them all, let alone describe them or their relationships or what they're doing.

My point is that we like to look for the sound bite version - the quick, easily-digested nugget at the core of some stories, lectures, ideas and subjects, but some things take a long time to say, and you can't say them any faster. It is not a failure of our language, nor of our intellect. Some things are just too rich to be summarised further.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - That doesn't mean we shouldn't try to express ideas more succinctly, though.
PPS - It's a big help, but it is never as rich and deep as the original.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Low-clearance bridges

There are some low-clearance bridges around the world that routinely get hit by trucks, just because they are a few centimetres lower than a standard clearance for some reason. After the third or fourth time they get hit, you'd have to imagine someone at the city council saying "why don't we raise that bridge?" and someone else replying that it would be too disruptive to existing traffic, plus it's not a simple matter of jacking it up and putting in some chocks to keep it there. Bridges are complicated.

So why don't they just dig a trench underneath the bridge to increase the clearance those few extra centimetres? It's much simpler and cheaper, and it could be done in one day. Problem solved. At least until a slightly taller truck figures he can duck under the new slightly-higher bridge.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - They should probably routinely lie about bridge clearances.
PPS - Though they should only under-report them, obviously.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Ad Smog

Tommy stepped out his front door and the ads assaulted his eyes right away. Bright flashing lights, radioactive glowing signs hung unsuspended in the air. Buy this. Go there. Eat at Joe's. Just Do It. Spinning and jostling for position, they filled any space they could find. They'd found another loophole in the standard filters. Tommy checked for an update through the neon haze in his vision, but there was none. He briefly considered turning off his contact lenses for the drive to the office, but he had work to catch up on. He'd just have to hope for an ad filter update later today.

The ads were relentless on the highway - reality was barely visible, so most commuters had their cars on automatic. The law said auto drive cars had to stay under 20 kph, keep left and not overtake. With most people on auto, the whole highway was just about deadlocked.

Tommy tried to pull up some work documents to review, but the local network nodes were congested too. Must be a lot of parents trying to entertain their kids with video on the way to school. Well, that and the constant onslaught of advertising trying to download to everyone at once. His local cached copies of the documents might do well enough, most days, but today Tommy knew there were important updates he didn't have yet. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed heavily.

Just then, through the jungle of bright banners, Tommy saw a council labourer on the side of the road, scrubbing real paint graffiti from a bridge underpass and gathering rubbish in a bag. Without even thinking about it, Tommy pulled out his contacts, opened the door of his barely-moving car and strolled through traffic to lend a hand in a blissfully ad-free and unenhanced environment. The council worker looked up once, nodded in greeting and handed Tommy a shovel without a word.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It would feel like fresh air for the mind.
PPS - I'm reading Vernor Vinge's book Rainbows End where people wear contact lens computers like this.


The buzz about the voice-activated personal assistant software Siri on the iPhone 4S seems to have settled down now. I wonder whether that means it has seamlessly integrated into people's lives or that it wasn't such a big deal after all. It's taken me a little while to realise, but I think the main advantage of Siri is that it is task-based. If you want to send a message, you go to Siri. If you want to look up a fact, you ask Siri. If you want to check your schedule, you ask Siri. On any other phone, if you have a task in mind, you have to think of what app does that task, find it in your menu and remember how to use it. The fact of apps is a barrier between you and what you want to do. Siri helps break that down, and that's a good thing.

But if it works so well, why isn't there a popular equivalent on desktop machines? Here's the most likely reason:

Look at this video of a man with a Japanese accent struggling to get Siri on his iPhone 4S to understand the word "work". Siri recognises that he wants to send an email, and knows that he needs to specify "work" or "home", but over numerous attempts still fails to find a match. You can hear from his voice that he's getting more frustrated as time goes on. Now, the point is not that Siri should recognise his accent, nor that he should adapt and use an American accent for this word. The point is that Siri should change tactics after a while, because this clearly isn't working.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Digital assistants need to recognise when they're failing and try something new.
PPS - Douglas Adams talked about this as the need for boredom in AI.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Kindle's slightly broken bookmark sync

A problem with the Kindle platform is that you might ruin the progress sync by opening a book on a different device before it is synchronised. The platform sees two bookmarks and chooses the latter, which is wrong. I've done this between my Kindle and my phone, because my phone didn't have a data connection right away to load the latest bookmark online.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - An unreliable network connection should have been designed for.
PPS - Because our wireless networks are significantly unreliable.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Responsibility means inconvenience

A robot dog will never teach you responsibility. If you forget to "feed" it, no big deal. Just plug it in later, when you remember. Forgot to walk it? Who cares? It's not like it makes a mess in the house. It won't need washing or brushing (unless it has fake fur), and you won't ever need to check it for fleas and ticks. It won't chew your shoes, bark all night or anything like that, which is good, but a pet that you can switch off, put away in a cupboard and forget about for a month or two is not a pet. It's a toy, and will always be a toy until it comes with crippling inconveniences. That, in a very real and practical way, is the meaning of responsibility: having to trade off your own happiness and convenience for the well-being of a person or creature that depends on you. When that need is designed not to outweigh your own wants (as in the case of a robot dog) then you are not responsible for it any more than you are responsible for keeping your TV plugged in.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - We've pretty much built our modern society on greater convenience.
PPS - And that means we don't know responsibility any more.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Organising ad-hoc information

Sometimes I get disheartened about my options for organising and capturing information. When I'm at the stage of vaguely contemplating a project, such as building myself the ultimate bedside table, I'll have lots of random thoughts, sketches and research threads to track. And keeping it all together semi-coherently just doesn't happen. I can make notes and keep them in a text file, but if I make a baseline sketch, I'll need to manually digitise it, file it and annotate it to keep it with the rest of the project notes. What I really want is a tool that I can draw in, type in, use like rearrangeable index cards and generally just capture all my thoughts in whatever format they come to me. It sounds amazing, but it's nowhere near reality yet.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It might be too busy with all of those features, though.
PPS - Unless it's really well designed.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Growing medium companies into global ones

Economically, the world is spreading apart. Bigger corporations are ever expanding as always, but there is also a resurgence in smaller industry, also known as cottage industry. But there are other corporations in the middle - too big to give each customer personal attention, and too small to compete globally. How do those companies cross that gap from micro-industry to mega-industry? While they grow, they need to maintain the ability to treat each customer as a valued individual, and they can't take great advantage of economies of scale until they grow large enough to be a global megacorporation. Maybe they need to grow as a chain of micro-business units, each individually managed and semi-independently operated, like a franchise.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'm just interested in the issues that come up when you reach that point.
PPS - It must be tough to seek growth as a company like that.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Lucky

Among the superheroes and villains of this city, they called me "Lucky", and I never quite fit in with either group. Oh, I could have, I just chose not to. I didn't want to run around in a mask dressed in bike spandex fighting crime, but likewise I didn't want to use my powers for evil and cause all those spandex-wearing wannabes to come after me just to make a name for themselves. Mostly I used my powers just to have really good luck at an ordinary life. I won several "Ten-Thousandth Customer!" competitions as I did my ordinary shopping, the bank was constantly making errors in my favour, and I always got good traffic, good job offers, and generally good timing. I led a charmed life, when I used the luck.

When I turn it off again, probability kind of snaps back into place. Like a rubber band, you eventually have to let go, and there's a sting in the tail. The longer it's been on, and the less likely the outcomes I've been experiencing, the harder the fall. Once I won $20,000 in a radio competition, then crashed my car on the way to pick it up. Broke both my collar bones. Still totally worth it.

It was just that one time, the casino weekend that stretched into a week, then a month. I kept winning, of course, but I also kept drinking, and I had to keep the luck turned on to avoid getting caught by the casino thugs who don't like winners. I thought it would be fun, just to stretch the power and see how far it could go, really test my limits. Now I think it's just gone way too far, and it's too late to turn it off, or something awful and probably fatal will happen immediately. I'm up in the casino's hotel penthouse for now - they're hoping I'll spend away my winnings rather than bankrupt them - and looking out the window over the city. Behind me, I'm sure it's my doom being examined on the TV.

"A week ago, astronomers noticed the asteroid, called BES-0114 or 'Bessie', hurtling towards Earth on a direct collision course. Debate still rages over whether it's big enough to cause any damage, and whether it will hit us at all, but as the days go on, the measurements get more precise..."

I know exactly where it's going to hit: right where I am. But maybe, if I'm lucky, it will be too small to hurt anyone else.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I'd like Lucky to be a reluctant member of a superhero group.
PPS - I don't have a story for them yet, though.

Sending links between desktop and phone browsers

I've been looking for a while for an app, plugin or service that allows me to easily move browser tabs between my desktop and my phone, both ways. So far, to send a URL to my phone, I would convert it to a QR code via a Chrome app, then scan that code with my phone and open it that way. To send a URL back to my desktop, I'd just have to email the link to myself.

Lifehacker recently featured 2SendTab for Android that might be just the thing I need, allowing me to post and retrieve links on all of my devices in any direction. The only problem I have is that it involves yet another web app that requires yet another login account, and some days that alone is enough to turn me away.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If Chrome synchronised its tabs with Android, I might not even need this.
PPS - But I imagine that's a hassle in its own right.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Walk in their shoes

All political and business leaders should be forced through a period of homelessness for no less than a month at some point in their careers, preferably repeatedly. If we must set up a place for them to do so where they will not be followed or recognised, so be it. I think it's important that the people at the very top of our society fully sympathise with those at the bottom, by literally walking in their shoes.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - It's probably not a bad idea for most people, regardless of their station and status.
PPS - Assuming you don't get badly and permanently injured or ill in the process.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How to open PDFs in Google Chrome by default

When Adobe Reader annoyed me for the last time, I realised something: I don't ever actually need that program. So I configured Windows to open PDFs by default in Google Chrome. Here's how to do it in Windows 7:
1. Right-click a PDF and select "Open With" then "Choose Default Program".
2. Click the Browse button.
3. Find the Chrome executable (which is usually under C:\Users\[your_name]\AppData\Google\Chrome\Application\chrome.exe). Select it and click "Open".
4. Make sure the "Always use the selected program to open this kind of file" checkbox is ticked and click "OK".
From now on your PDFs will open automatically in Google Chrome instead of Adobe Reader. Feel free to uninstall Adobe Reader and never think of it or its stupid face again.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Of course this only works if you have Google Chrome installed.
PPS - And if you ever deal with PDFs.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Engineering as art

There's still a fair amount of art involved in engineering. Yes, it's science as applied to construction or industry, but the science is done separately to the design. The science discovers properties of materials or methods, but when it is applied in design it comes out more like speculative mathematics. If we did it this way, what would happen? Okay, how about this way instead? Deciding what path to pursue and designing the way to apply the science is still an art you learn with time.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is why, so far, engineers have not been replaced by software.
PPS - If programmers can ever be replaced by software, we'll be in the singularity.

Monday, 13 February 2012


I love the concept of learn another language for free while helping to translate the web. It's brilliant, simple, and ticks all the right boxes for a project like that. I've signed up to learn Spanish, but I haven't used it much yet. The one concern I have is that they say their aim is to translate the whole web into all major languages, but I probably produce more English text in a day than I would get through on duolingo in a week, and that's just me. If not everyone is participating, and they have to aggregate translations to get good results, and furthermore the participants are producing more new native language text than they are translating daily, the project is going to start behind and get further behind as time goes on. Granted, it's better than starting behind and staying still, and if you focus your efforts on major websites like Wikipedia, you probably will get through a reasonable amount quickly, so I think it's definitely worthwhile. If you've ever wanted to learn another language (and you probably have) then this is a good way to go, if only because it's free.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I wonder whether a similar concept could work for programming languages.
PPS - The task would have to be platform-porting.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Time Step

We discovered the Time Step by accident one day while we were practicing some new moves for a dance-off. Jason said he had something new he wanted to try out, so we gave him the space. He started out pretty standard, looking like he was just warming up to the music, finding his rhythm, then he did this weird thing where he stood on one foot and kind of started flapping his arms. I started to laugh at it, then he got this surprised look, there was a *whump* like someone dropping something huge onto thick carpet and he was just gone! We panicked right away, and we looked everywhere for him, and just when we figured we should call someone, there was that same sound and he was back again, right in the spot where he disappeared, standing in that same stupid pose with the same surprised expression.

"Jason, what the hell? You've been gone for an hour!" said Max, our crew leader.

"I dunno, man. I was just doing like this..."

We all shouted "STOP!" just as Jason stood on one foot again. Idiot was going to do it all over.

We figured out eventually that Jason stumbled on some kind of voodoo move that sent him just a little way into the future. Who knew how it worked, and it looked stupid as hell, but it was amazing. We started trying it, after Jason failed to get sick or drop dead, and it only seemed to work in certain places, but anyone could do it once they knew how. Mitch found a kind of spinning flip that looked awesome and sent him almost exactly four beats ahead, so we figured we could use it in our routines sometimes, especially for big finales.

So that's what we practiced. We worked out this incredible routine - one of our best, I have to say - that finished with Mitch jumping ahead a few seconds and the rest of us timing our landing to his. It was beautiful.

When we went to perform, we had everyone on their feet even before we reached the ending they'd never forget. Mitch hit his jump right on cue, and the rest of us landed just right to match him ... only Mitch never reappeared. Someone thought we'd used some stage magic or something, until they saw that we were all kind of shocked. We waited for hours that night for Mitch to come back, but he never did.

I still go back to that club now and then. It's abandoned and run-down now, but I figure one of these days Mitch is going to reappear to finish that move. I'm not sure what else to do, so I leave a newspaper to let him know how long he's been gone. We really should have known it would be different in a different place, but we can't fix that now.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I just had a weird idea about a dance move that made you time-travel.
PPS - This is what came out of that.

Windows app store development loses to Java

When discussing the upcoming Windows 8 and its app store, Microsoft showed a chart like this, to show relative market share:

Well, not exactly like that. The "WP7 share" mark was added by Scott, and his was the only source of this image I could find. The big blue dot is Windows, at 500 million installs. Leaving aside whether or not that number is accurate (probably not), the next one, the green dot, is Google's Android, a mobile OS, presumably included because it, too, has an app store.

The point I gather Microsoft was trying to make was that the Windows blob is the biggest, so you should develop for that. My own reaction is that I didn't realise Android was so huge, and the big green blob makes me want to do Android development. Also, it would be easier if I just focused on Java development, since that's Android and Windows covered together, the two biggest blobs, which is a double-bad hit for Microsoft, because I'd be moving away from Windows as my only development focus, and also because I wouldn't be using their tools any more either.

So Microsoft's intended response from developers like me is:
"Wow, Windows is the biggest platform out there! Golly, gee, I should definitely be focusing on that instead of those other crummy platforms!"

And my actual response is more like:
"Hm. Android is pretty darn big, and Java runs on it and Windows. I could get an even bigger reach by switching to Java instead."

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Not exactly a win.
PPS - Then again, I'm still developing on Windows for now.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Laplink PCmover Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant

At work, I was furnished with a loan laptop while my new PC is on order. It was running Windows XP, and although I should only have to put up with this for a few years (at our IT support's glacial pace) I figured I would have a better time of it if I upgraded myself to Windows 7. I was wary of having to reinstall all my old software again, though, so I used Laplink's PCmover Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant to help me along. I am writing to warn you against doing the same.

Though the program appeared to run properly on the Windows XP side of things, packing up a file it called a "moving van", after the installation of Windows 7, everything went to hell. I started getting errors on startup from programs that I could no longer uninstall or disable. All of my software failed to run and had to be reinstalled. Some of it produced errors when I tried to run the uninstallers, leaving my machine in a very unusable state. Ironically, I would have been in a better position if I had not taken any special steps to preserve my files, settings and programs, since then I would only have had to install new copies rather than wrestling with Windows to let go of the old, corrupted ones. And to pour salt onto these wounds, all of my hardware drivers, including the vital network port, had failed to transfer, too.

Of course your experience may vary, and they have cherry-picked some positive reviews to post on their website about the product. They also have some warnings about incompatible software and some that may need to be unregistered before upgrading Windows, then re-registered later, but when "some programs" means "every program" and "unregistered" seems to mean "uninstall", what benefit do you get from such a process?

In short, Laplink's PCmover made my transition from Windows XP to Windows 7 actively worse, and I recommend fleeing in the opposite direction.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I really wanted this to work.
PPS - But it seems the dream of a smooth upgrade from XP to Windows 7 is still just a dream.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Happiness comes before success

I shared this on Facebook yesterday, but it's impacted me so much that I wanted to show it here, too:

The basic message is that we have it backwards: we work harder to be more successful and hope therefore to be happier. But we perform our best when we are happy now, so we need to focus on that. He presents it really well, and I can't do it justice in a paragraph summary. You'll be glad you watched it, I promise, but in case you can't do that, you need to do these five things today instead:

1. Write down 3 new things you are grateful for.
2. Journal one positive experience from the past 24 hours.
3. Exercise.
4. Meditate or pray.
5. Email someone in your support network to compliment or thank them.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Then keep doing that every day for three weeks.
PPS - That's straight from the video, too.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Travel computing

There are two options for travelling computing. Either mobile network access or offline data and opportunistic sync. Neither covers every case. The advantage of mobile network access is that everything you need is as fresh and up to date as possible. The obvious downside is that the network is not available everywhere and compared to what you've got locally it's very slow. Besides that, sometimes you have to work with files that are enormous and just too big to transfer remotely.

The other option is synchronisation, but it obviously has its own problems. You need to know in advance which files you need so you can download them while you have access, and if you're not the only one working on them, you might need to merge your changes with someone else's when your copies synchronise again. The advantages are that anything you have downloaded will be available immediately, regardless of how unreliable or unavailable the network is, and the synchronisation can just work in the background without bothering you.

Is there a way to get the best of both worlds? Either one of those can get closer to ideal, but I don't know what the final answer should be.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - My preference is offline data with sync.
PPS - Possibly just because I've found mobile networks so unreliable.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Private cloud operating systems

Private clouds are where most corporations will find the most value, and for that they need off-the-shelf operating systems to do the heavy lifting for them. At the moment, cloud computing means purchasing time, space and bandwidth for specially-created apps from a third-party provider that may or may not be trustworthy and may be required to hand over data to some untrustworthy government depending on where the cloud service data centre is hosted. To avoid those uncertainties and hassles, large companies will seek to turn their own data centres into flexible clouds, which means they need a server operating system built for such a thing. If the purpose of such a cloud is to run virtual Windows servers, then it won't much matter whether the underlying OS is Linux-based, so I can imagine that being the first place such a product will come from.

Converting will still be a pain, since you'd have to keep all your existing servers online while you switch, but imagine being able to add a new server to a data centre, install an off-the-shelf operating system and entering a few configuration parameters, then it goes and adds itself to the cloud of local machines, including sharing its storage, offering its CPU for new threads and its RAM for direct addressing. Whenever another machine dies, all the storage is already backed up onto other machines and whatever processes it was running can be resumed on other CPUs in other RAM. That's the power of cloud computing without the dangers.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Cloud computing is getting a lot of hype.
PPS - But there are also some problems.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Friday Flash Fiction - Forgotten Apocalypse

Our lives, our very minds, are digital these days. The upside is that an event can truly be undone. Words can be taken back once spoken by deleting them from the recipient's mind, if they're willing. Entire tragedies can be averted by restoring from backups. That's what I think happened. Somewhere in our past - at a very specific time index, actually - there is a gap in all our records. I think, somewhere in that gap, we did something awful, collectively, and erased our own memories to avoid dealing with it.

I've looked over all the backups, and they've all been altered or erased. I've looked out on the world through the cameras and satellites, but everything looks the same as it always has. There are old highways and buildings, disused now except for the maintenance robots that keep the power flowing. All normal. Eerily normal.

So I take a remote bot out where things can't be erased. I start exploring the old cities to see what we might have missed. Did we leave marks on this world that we couldn't wipe away? The cities are clean. Too clean. Pristine. Whatever we did, it happened here, but we paved it over.

Outside the fields there is rich farm land. Robots are growing crops and spraying them with fertiliser. I pause for a moment. Why are we doing this? Nostalgia? Environmental balance? I stop one of the farmer-bots and inquire:

?:- Why do we do this
.:- it is required
?:- Where does the fertiliser come from
.:- the tanks underground
?:- And what fills the tanks

I realise I have come back to reality with no memory some time after my conversation with the farmer-bot. This time there is my own digital signature on a remnant deletion command, logged just a moment ago. Whatever I learned, clearly I did not want to remember it, and I left myself a message in the form of that signed deletion: don't go back. It's hard not knowing what I learned about those fertiliser tanks, and it doesn't seem like it should drive me to erase my own memory, but that is clearly what happened. For now I will let it be, but I doubt I will keep my secret - our societal secret - from myself forever.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - The power to erase the past would undoubtedly be abused.
PPS - As is all power, eventually.

Tasks and Projects in computers

We need our computers and our technology to be arranged around Tasks and Projects. We shouldn't need to think in terms of apps and websites. It shouldn't matter that I am browsing to Facebook with Google Chrome. What I am thinking of when I do this is connecting with my friends - communicating, catching up. My goal was never to use Facebook itself. Facebook is a means to an end. My Task is what matters to me, and I can do it any way I please.

Similarly, when my hard drive is arranged into drives and folders, and I have this list of recently opened files in Word, this different list in Excel and a separate email folder for certain things in Outlook, where do I find what I've been working on? I don't want files, folders and apps on my computer. I want Projects, where all the data for one project is organised together, and any apps I have open inside there are incidental - they exist only because they are part of that Project context. The only reason I have to think of Word and Excel at all is because they are awful at maintaining context together.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I've ranted along these lines before.
PPS - I should really write an essay about it or something.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Invisible traffic calming

I wonder if you could design subtle traffic calming like long wavy roads that you only notice at speed. That is, when you travel at the speed limit, you don't notice anything unusual about the road, but as soon as you go over the limit, it starts feeling funny because you're encountering subtle bumps and curves just a bit too quickly. It should make you subconsciously want to slow down and obey the limit.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - In practice, it would probably be too small a change to notice and be effective.
PPS - But it would be interesting to try.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Iced coffee

I have a new iced coffee technique to use at work. Long story short, I put an ice cube in the mug, then get a single shot of hot espresso over it. Melt the ice by stirring, then sweeten and add milk to taste.

I tried "New Orleans"-style cold brewing in a jar overnight, but it was too weak for me. I prefer the stronger taste of espresso, which I used to cool with milk after the sugar dissolves, but cooling with ice immediately seems to make it taste even better. The down side, of course, is that I need to prepare ice at work, which is a pain, but not impossible. And if I run out of ice, I can still fall back on milk-cooling. If you're an iced coffee fan, I recommend giving this method a go.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I tried a couple of times to use milk ice for this, but it didn't work so well.
PPS - I've heard this is called "Japanese-style" iced coffee.