Remote sensing without video is a tough row to hoe

SNUPI/Wallyhome cuts staff — sad to see a Seattle startup struggle, and these guys have some really interesting technology that has come out of Patel’s work.

But I’ve always thought that remote sensing without video (and to a lesser degree audio) is uninteresting. The first thing you want to do when a remote event is triggered is see exactly what is going on. Without that, remote sensing is just kind of frustrating. I’ve tried Wally and Smartthings and every other kind of remote sensor, the only thing that has stuck is Dropcam because it lets me see what is going on.

It is why cameras and video is at the heart of what we are doing at Surround.io — vision is fundamental, and solving the hard scale issues of video processing, storage and transmission puts you in a great position to deal with other types of sensor data.

“I’ll be that guy for a couple of weeks”

Sadly, I am as much a tool as this guy — Money quotes from USA Today:

Perkins says he’s “all in” on Apple products from the iPhone to Apple TV. And, in his line of work, he has to lemmingstay abreast of important tech trends.

But the main reason he’s an early adopter of the Apple Watch? “It’s the perfect sports watch,” said Perkins who plans to wear it while jogging. He’ll also wear it the office for the notifications that remind him to get to meetings on time and as a conversation piece.

“I will have that showpiece that everyone wants to see,” Perkins said. “I’ll be that guy for a couple of weeks.”

Books — Noir, Pradeep Mathew, Secret Speech

  • Noir by Robert Coover. Noir mystery meets mushrooms. Very strange story. Engaged me but I’m not sure I’d want a steady diet of this.lastman
  • The Legend of Pradeep Mathew by Shehan Karunatilaka. Very nicely written, but ultimately defeated me. My lack of any cricket knowledge and lack of any Sri Lanka knowledge put me in too deep a hole.
  • The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith. Excellent pageturner, not surprising, Smith writes engaging tales.
  • The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming. Also a great pageturner, for some reason the hunt for moles inside the British intelligence community never gets old.
  • The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. I enjoyed, kind of an extended Greek tragedy set in rural Wisconsin. With dogs.
  • Y: The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan, Pia Guerra, Jose Marzan Jr. I don’t read many graphic novels but this got such great reviews, and it is a great tale. Every male human and male animal dies off suddenly, except for one, and the race is on to save and recreate the world. This would be a fantastic TV show, tho I’d tame down some of the comic parts a little.

RPI alternatives — Tessel 2, Spark Electron

I see I can pre-order a Tessel 2 now. Interesting part, it is nice that wifi is built in, and they have the same entry price as the pi, and they seem to be more focused on embedded solutions, with a lot of messaging around pricing and use for embedded. But no GPU on this chip which seems unfortunate, unless I am missing something. And no camera port, usb only. This might or might not be ok, tho part of the RPI’s appeal is the camera port dumping right to GPU ram with no use of the limited usb/io bus.

The Spark Electron is another interesting device, built in low cost cellular plan, which is very nice. I am compelled to trial one just for that. Now this is a much more compute limited device than the others, but a great idea.

If you are into this kind of stuff, we are hiring…

Recent Books — Beatles, Sisters Brothers, Wool, Stone’s Fall, Zoo City, Terror of Living

  • The Beatle Lyrics, edited by Hunter Davies. Not a terrible addition to the Beatles literature, but not great either. The discussion of the lyrics is not very deep, which might be ok, but the discussion of what was going on with the writers at the time is also thin. Just OK.stonesfall
  • The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. Fantastic Old West characters, I loved the two brothers. The tale started out strong and kind of petered out, but memorable characters.
  • Wool Omnibus Edition by Hugh Howey. OK we don’t really need any more near future post apocalyptic dystopia novels, but this was fun.
  • Stone’s Fall by Iain Pears. Well this was twisty and fun. Deception and intrigue across several generations in the 1900s.
  • Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. Near future science fiction set in South Africa, not the usual setting for most books available here in US.
  • Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson. Someone recommended this as a great YA title, but I thought it was a bit of a mess.
  • Unseen by Karin Slaughter. How does this thing get good reviews on Amazon, it is a poorly written mess. Gave up on quickly.
  • The Terror of Living by Urban Waite. Smuggling on the Canadian border goes very very wrong.

1G quadcore pi…

armevothe latest pi rev is phenomenal. and when you look at where arm procs are heading — wow we are going to have a lot of compute power at the edge. Which makes me happy about what we are doing at Surround.io, we are betting in a big way on edge compute power.

Recent Books — Peregrine, Dog and Wolf, Baxter, Orfeo

  • Miss Pregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom HourBetweenDogandWolf_300dpiRiggs — basically, the X-Men in novel form. X-Men are more exciting tho this isn’t terrible.
  • Proxima by Stephen Baxter. Settling new planets isn’t for sissies. Unless you find a magic wormhole.
  • The Hour Between Dog and Wolf by John Coates. Our “rational” behaviour is driven by our physical bodies and emotions in ways we are just understanding. Interesting but drags on.
  • Orfeo by Richard Powers. A biohacker, a terrorist, or just eccentric? Nicely written.

Not getting much utility out of thetileapp.com

I bought these because, well, i buy every gadget. But they are useless without widespread adoption. Because I am the only person I know using them, the only time I can locate my tile-tagged items is when I am right next to them running the tile app.

It is great if your product can benefit from a network effect, that is a powerful accelerant. But if your product is useless without a network effect, well, you don’t really have a product.

Finally trying Atom

atomFinally downloaded Atom. I am getting a little frustrated with the plugin community around Sublime Text as it seems that people may be moving away from Sublime, and who can blame them given the uncertain path for Sublime. Atom seems nice, maybe a little slower than Sublime Text, but still good. Most of the plugins I want seem to be there.

College football doldrums weekend — let’s look at 2015 schedules

While we wait for the bowl season to kick off, what to do, what to do.

Interesting to look at 2015 schedules. Given how the playoff selection worked out — with conference championship game winners having a clear advantage, and non-FBS games dragging teams down, look at who is in trouble for making the 2015 playoffs already:

  • Big 12 teams. No championship game, and games like Baylor-Lamar, K State-UTSA, K State-South Dakota, TCU-SFA, WVU-Liberty, WVU-Georgia Southern. These teams start out with two strikes against them, they have no margin for error. Only an undefeated Big 12 team has a hope of making the playoff.
  • ACC — Clemson-Wofford, FSU-Texas State, FSU-Chattanooga, Louisville-Samford, VT-Furman. One strike against, these teams better hope they look good the rest of the season.
  • Pac12 — Oregon-Georgia State, UW-Sacramento State, AZ-UTSA, AZ-Northern AZ, ASU-Cal Poly, USC-Idaho.
  • SEC — because of these perceived strength of the SEC, most of these schools will probably get a pass on playing one FCS opponent, tho they should be embarrassed. But Georgia and Auburn both load up with two, not going to help them.

WIll be interesting to see if any schedule changes happen for 2015 or 2016. If I was an AD of a serious team, I’d be looking to eliminate this cruft.

Books — Angelmaker, Coldbrook, Speedboat, Grasshopper Jungle

  • Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway. A fun adventurous romp, reminds of the early Tim Powers books, but with a lighter touch.
  • Coldbrook by Tim Lebbon. Many worlds and zombies, almost a perfect book :). coldbrookA great tale, I am a little surprised he hasn’t penned a followup, tho some of the material might be off-putting to some readers.
  • Speedboat by Renata Adler. A stream of consciousness ramble. Not usually my style but I was engaged. The book has held up well.
  • Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. Zombies and giant bugs, another near perfect pairing. Not quite as engaging as the Lebbon but still quite fun.

New OSU 2016 football ticket policy announced — this will be fun

2688127883_0ba996ee25_zIt has always been a bit of a mystery exactly how our season tickets are assigned. Well, mystery no more. Starting in 2016 all ticket holders will get to pick seats in priority order based on their total giving standing. The brochure that OSU sent out has a handy stadium map and an estimated number of points needed to sit in a certain area, and the giving you need to do to get those points.

For example, you want 50 yard line eastside seats in the A section? 4500 points are expected to be needed, and if you haven’t given a dime, your 2015 gift will convert to points at a 4% rate, so a gift of $112,500 will get you in!

Prefer 50 yard line B deck? 2000 points, or $50k and you are in the bidding. C-deck end zone? A mere 100 points or a mere $2500. Your prior accrued gifts convert at a 2% rate, so those dollars still count.

It will be fascinating to see a) if people rush in 2015 in buy their way up the priority ladder, and b) how much OSU goads everyone to do this. I am looking forward to the “We’re sorry, but you’ve been pushed into C-Deck, only 30 days left in 2015 to secure your old seats” email.

The Raspberry Pi’s best features

I’ve had several people mention some other low-end hardware platforms to me recently — of course the beagle bone series, the intel galileo and edison products, and a couple others. All nice looking hardware with nice features.

And I am not spending any time with them. Because they lack the two most critical features of the Raspberry Pi — price and availability. If I need 100 Pis tomorrow, I can get them. And they are the cheapest thing going. The pricing on some of the Intel parts is wildly uncompetitive.

The open source linux software stack on the Pi is important too. Means I don’t have to worry about lockin, we can shift to another hardware platform easily.

All this adds up to a platform with really low trial friction — easy and cheap to acquire, no concerns about lockin. There is a reason they’ve sold ~4M and that the sales rate is apparently accelerating. And that is turning into an ecosystem advantage.

The exact technical features of the Pi are largely irrelevant. There are technical and design aspects of the Pi that I hate. I am sure the beaglebones have a better frimplestat and the intel parts are superior at ruzzmutzing and the nvidia tegra boards have nice plurblegots or whatever. But they all miss the availability, price, low friction marks. And are missing the emerging ecosystem advantage.