Public Economics and GPS

This morning, I was walking to the office and trying to catch a caterpie when I thought to tweet, Amazed the GPS network hasn’t been crushed under the load of #PokemonGo users! When I realized, Whoa, someone might take me seriously. Then I decided to write a blog post instead. About GPS. And using it up. The Global Positioning System, GPS, is an amazing system. Technically, it is not very complicated, but all the individual components are, if that makes sense. It was originally envisioned just down the road from me at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory and comprises

An Engraved Invitation

It has suddenly become fashionable to assert that children must be taught cursive handwriting or there has been some sort of failure in their education. In fact, here’s a New York Times article on the topic, posted after I had written this. Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age Do children in a keyboard world need to learn old-fashioned handwriting? There is a tendency to dismiss handwriting as a nonessential skill, even though researchers have warned that learning to write may be the key to, well, learning to write. I am, here, drawing a distinction between cursive and

Cell Phones Still Don’t Cause Cancer

I was recently explaining to someone that cell phones do not cause cancer. Of course, then this study comes out last week saying otherwise. There’s a number of flaws with this study, starting with the fact it is not a study. Ars Technica has a great discussion of its problems here: Study that found cell phones cause cancer in rats is riddled with red flags Late last week, headlines blared that a new $25 million years-long US government study had finally found a clear connection between cellphone radiation and tumors in rats-striking fear in the hearts of gadget lovers worldwide.

Classical Software Studies

James Hague writes, in a post, “Computer Science Courses that Don’t Exist, But Should,” a series of course descriptions for needed computer science courses, one struck me: CSCI 3300: Classical Software Studies Discuss and dissect historically significant products, including VisiCalc, AppleWorks, Robot Odyssey, Zork, and MacPaint. Emphases are on user interface and creativity fostered by hardware limitations. That’s a really good idea. Some of these programs did some really amazing stuff in a very limited environment. You could also add to this list the system software for the Voyager spacecraft, Sixth Edition Unix, and, of course, the Story of Mel.

Touchscreens: A New Hope

About three months before Beatrix hatched, I wrote that I might have a disease I called “touchscreen HCI disorder.” She’s now three and I asked her to help me set up an initial vector for my Bumblebees talk. She started poking the screen on my laptop and, since it’s not a touchscreen, got frustrated when it didn’t work. Clearly, touchscreen HCI disorder is genetic. Image by Intel Free Press / Flickr.

Card goes where?!? (Perspecsys Photos)

Chip and Signature, What a Waste

Across the United States, new credit card readers are popping up in stores and restaurants. These readers include an embedded chip reader and a keypad. And you’re probably getting new credit cards in the mail. My new American Express arrived while I was on vacation last week (3782-822463-10005) with an embedded chip. And this is a huge waste. On our trip to Iceland, most payment terminals accept the chip and PIN card. You have to type in a PIN after inserting your card to make a payment. These terminals in the United States are chip and signature. After inserting the