I’ve lamented in the past how we don’t seem to be getting any closer to interesting cyberpunk tech, but two items in today’s news point to some activity:
Item The First:
[Troops in Iraq](http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2005-07-24-energy-beam_x.htm) will soon be shooting an experimental weapon that fires an invisible beam of energy instead of bullets to repel insurgents without killing civilians.
The idea is that the Active Denial System (ADS) penetrates the skin “to create a severe non-lethal burning sensation.” According to testing, the beam does not cause any lasting damage. Except perhaps for the memory of being burned alive.
While the idea seems good in that it can help avoid civilian casualties in high-stress environments like road blocks, a cynic might say that this kind of weapon has the potential for being used in a bit of an indiscriminate manner.
Item The Second:
Police in Mesa, Arizona have purchased the Mobile Plate Hunter 900.
Couldn’t make up a name like that if I tried.
The Mobile Plate Hunter 900 (why, oh why, did they go cheap and not call it the 9000? 9000 is a cool and studly number—900 is just wimpy) mounts on a patrol car and then scans license plates while the patrol car is moving; it sends the license plates it finds to a central computer, which then runs the plate. If a car has been reported stolen, the system alerts the driving officer who can then proceed to investigate.
I wish so fervently that the manufacturer had enough of a sense of humor to use an R2-D2 beep for the unit’s alerts.
*Soundtrack: * Stream from Groove Salad
Nic provides some basic not-too-paranoid tips for securing your digital life.
It’s not how much you have to do, it’s how many things you’re doing at the same time.
Did you know the U.S. government is planning to invade Texas? Well, it’s not. Nic attempts to explain.
Installing Jekyll on an EC2 Amazon Linux AMI is easy. Here are the steps.
After wearing the watch for over a month, Nic has thoughts on its future. Spoiler: Depends on how you define success.
Lots of fantasy and sci-fi in this installment plus a book about sports! Includes Boy on Ice, Difficult Men, Restaurant Man, The Red Line, Cunning Plans, Seveneves, Nemesis Games, Bitter Seeds, The Mechanical, Angles of Attack, and City of Stairs.
Turns out “it's just a big iPhone” is a stroke of genius.
Some technical terms still confuse people who should know better, like journalists.
Nic is sad about Terry Pratchett's passing. Includes No Land’s Man, Idiot America, Something Coming Through, The Burning Room, Foxglove Summer, and The Dark Defiles.
Bluetooth headsets are maturing rapidly and these are both good in their own ways and for different purposes.