Tire Pressure Fiction #CarTips #Geek #Nerd #Science

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Tire pressure hoax #1 – I mentioned low tire pressure to my car dealership and they recommended Nitrogen. http://www.pedrosgarage.com/Site_5/Nitrogen_or_Air.html

Tire pressure fallacy #2 When I mentioned low tire pressure to my friends they mentioned weather. I’m in Southern California so this means a drop from 90F to 40F. Sounds like a lot, but in Kelvin which is what matters, it is only 10%.  https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideal_gas_law

Tire pressure confusion #3 When filling tires I remember being warned about hot and cold tires. The same Kelvin scale as before says that at highway speed heating is only about 10% pressure increase.  http://m.caranddriver.com/columns/a-look-behind-the-tire-hysteria


“Forcible sex offenses” Words you don’t want to see at your #college #women #rape

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What do Amherst, Vassar, Swarthmore, Williams, Princeton, Stanford, Wesleyan, Loma Linda, Claremont McKenna, Brown, Skidmore, and Harvard all have in common? You might think of their high academic standards, prestige, or tuition. All those might be correct, but they also all share a place on the American School Search .com list of 100 Most Dangerous American Colleges.

For people who follow this issue, they might not be surprised that the safety concern is “forcible sex offenses,” which I presume is Department of Education speak for rape. The data from the Department of Education comes with interesting caveats.

The crime statistics found on this website represent alleged criminal offenses reported to campus security authorities and/or local law enforcement agencies. Therefore, the data collected do not necessarily reflect prosecutions or convictions for crimes. Because some statistics are provided by non-police authorities, the data are not directly comparable to data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting System which only collects statistics from police authorities.

Regardless, when the data was analyzed for 6,694 campuses, only 194 received a score of F, and presumably the 100 at the bottom of the F group made the above list. For comparison, the majority of the campuses (over 4,000) were graded A.

No idea what to think? Fortunately for me, my daughters are long ago graduated, and my grand daughters are not yet old enough.

#Code. #Coding. #Coder. What is Code?

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This is an IBM 1620. I didn’t learn to program on this computer, but it was my first computer. My first project was to program the game of dots. I programmed the game in Fortran using recursive algorithms. Fortran did not support recursion: FAIL. My second projects was a graphical simulation of a four-bar linkage. FAIL AGAIN.

This was 1964 and these were ambitious projects, even for a freshman at MIT. Both recursion and graphics were still research topics for machines designed for bookkeeping and sometimes used to replace rooms of calculators. Recall that calculator originally referred to a person (aka mathematician).

Here we are a half-century later and all of a sudden, (as in deja vu all over again) the people in charge are interested in computers. Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) are rising in power and both the Millennials and Boomers feel the pressure to understand whats it all about.

Well coders, programmers, software engineers, or computer scientists have earned their reputation as asocial elitists. If you are wondering, I love to explain it to you, but old habits die hard. But give me the benefit of the doubt, maybe there is not simple explanation.

Here is a pretty good explanation: http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-paul-ford-what-is-code/

It is so good, I wouldn’t attempt to compete with it. The catch? It is about 40,000 word, plus exercises, so a longish novella. Go on intrepid explorer, give it a try. It is excellent.

Famous Mnemonics Roy G. Biv #geek #science #nerd

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Victoria Falls 1

Roy G. Biv is the mnemonic for the colors of the rainbow, in order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. This is a less popular mnemonic as most students learn this lesson in kindergarten, so do not need the mnemonic.

The #robot uses a sophisticated form a cheating. #Geeks #Nerds

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A short while back, I wrote about how the assumptions behind inspection (inspection target does not change between inspections) are no longer valid, as demonstrated by the clever engineers at VW.

Now we have another story about how technology takes advantage of human assumptions.

Robot wins Rock-Paper-Scissors every time.

Thus, the playground arbiter of fate falls to cyber-tech. Is this a mind reader robot? No. Like the VW engineers realizing that they can instantaneously change the pollution control system for optimal test results during testing, and optimal performance at other times, these engineers realized that before their opponent shows their hand, the robot can predict what the hand will show from analysis of finger position and trajectory.

Remember this phrase: “The robot uses a sophisticated form a cheating.” That is how the report explains the robots ability to win every time.

This is a robot winning at rock-paper-scissors, but it also a VW passing its emissions test, and the profits of high-speed program trading.

Keep watching, we are looking forward to “The robot uses a sophisticated form a cheating” becoming the new normal.

Famous Mnenomics SOH-CAH-TOA #geek #mathchat #mathschat

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All trigonometry students learn the mnemonic SOHCAHTOA, sometimes characterized as native American word. It is a memory aid to remember the definition of the basic trigonometry functions:

  • Sine = Opposite / Hypotenuse
  • Cosine = Adjacent / Hypotenuse
  • Tangent = Opposite / Adjacent


How did #VW fool the #EPA? The #death of #inspection.

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How did VW fool the EPA?

VW engineers realized something is fundamentally going to change regulation.

Most regulation is based on inspection. We have health inspections, building inspections, safety inspections, and of course, pollution inspections – among many others. We should not forget the inspections built into the Iranian Nuclear Deal.

What the VW engineers realized is that all inspections are built on the assumption that systems are static, unchanging, consistent, and stable. In the past this was true. For example, if a bridge is sound today, it is a good bet that it will be sound tomorrow. The VW engineering insight was that today’s systems, controlled by computers, can change in the blink of an eye.

When the system is inspected, it can be non-polluting, but as soon as it drives away, pollution can increase 40x. In the same way, a nuclear refining system in Iran can produce reactor fuel when inspected, but a short time later it could be producing weapons grade material. [Caveat: I don’t know anything about nuclear engineering, nuclear reactors, bombs, or inspections. I am just making up a story on the assumption that the equipment might be computer control and could be quickly reconfigured.]

The replacement of electro-mechanical systems by microprocessors, has lead to the death of transparency.

2013 Jacquard Loom

Before microprocessors, any self-educated and motivated person could understand the control system whether you were looking at an industrial machine (see the Jacquard Loom above), a consumer item like a car or clock, or even something mathematical like a calculator or a meter.

More importantly, before microprocessors change was slow and obvious, and in many cases impossible. The beauty of that Jacquard Loom is that those pattern cards can be changed to weave a different design, but that took time and was easy to see. In a car, the carburetor settings could be changed, but it was a slow manual process. Clocks and pianos could be tuned, but for all practical purposes, they were static.

For these reasons, mechanical devices were transparent. “What you see was what you get.”

Today with microprocessors, not only is the control code invisible, but as VW demonstrated, it can be changed instantaneously. Transparency is Dead!

Aside from the VW hack, what might we expect in the future.

With smart meters, the gas, electric, or water company can adjust the meters to record more than what is delivered. For that matter the same is true of your smart phone. It can easily over count your cellular data usage, and no one would be any smarter.

That is just metering.

As  has been suggested by many movies and TV shows, your phone, camera, TV can record and remember what you are doing, saying, and where you are going. No amount a care can prevent this if the control code decides to ignore your settings.

Fundamentally the concept of inspection is dead. Just because a device passes inspection, just because a meter reads correctly, just because your WiFi behaves, none of this guarantees that the test results will hold after the test is complete.

Every time you pump gas, there is an inspection sticker assuring you the pump is accurate. With today’s technology this means nothing, and as time goes on, all inspections will be similarly useless.

We should all thank VW for opening our eyes.

Does #Corporate #Fitness work?

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Target has kicked off their Wellness Initiative by providing Fitbits for their 335,000 employees. With massive investment, Corporate Fitness is again in the news. One might wonder if this is all hype and PR, or whether these corporate programs, which seem to come and go, have any lasting value.

I have a single anecdotal data point to contribute to the discussion.

In 1978, I was working at Xerox and corporate wellness and fitness was all the rage for large, progressive corporations. Their program was not as grand as Target current initiative, but given the 1970s technology, it was state of the art.

The handed out copies (it was Xerox) of monthly calendars for employees to log the miles they ran. After you ran 50 or 100 miles, you got a T-shirt. Not much compared to the $1 million prize Target is offering..

Did this work?

Well … in 1978 I was a cigarette smoking computer scientist – not so uncommon in those days. However, I took my running log, stopped smoking, and maintained the log long enough to turn in a record for my 100 miles and get my t-shirt.

It turns out that that was enough. By 1979, I ran my first marathon and continued that for 25 years, and still exercise daily. I am scheduled to participate in a team triathlon next month.

That corporate fitness program certainly worked for me.

Famous Mnemonics Henry VIII #Geek #History

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The couplet Divorced, beheaded, died // Divorced, beheaded, survived help remember the fate of King Henry VIII six wives, in order.

The six wives of King Henry VIII were, in chronological order:

  1. Catherine of Aragon (divorced)
  2. Anne Boleyn (executed)
  3. Jane Seymour (died days after giving birth)
  4. Anne of Cleves (divorced)
  5. Catherine Howard (executed)
  6. Catherine Parr (widowed)

Nice mnemonic for trivia among House of Tudor aficionados.

#NYFW Where do they get their ideas?

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So the designers at New York Fashion Week have declared sneakers are appropriate with fancy dress. Bloomberg has predicted this is one of the “trends to come in spring/summer 2016.”

2016? Coastal fashion slowly moving to the heartland? Forget that!

The picture above from a wonderful Minneapolis wedding was taken in advance of #NYFW. If you want to see the fashion future, checkout #MPLS.