UberBoat Boston

This could be interesting. Starting this week, Uber began offering boat rides around Boston Harbor for $10/person:

“June 4 through June 15, you can use the Uber app to request a water taxi, powered byBoston Harbor Cruises. Make waves as you ride to your favorite Seaport restaurant. Sail over to the ICA for First Friday. Add a splash of fun to your morning commute – or even a quick cruise to or from Logan. Catching a flight has never been so easy!”

It actually seems like a reasonable deal to the airport from the Seaport, especially during rush hour. Or potentially as a quick way to get to Charlestown. Here’s a list of the pickup docks and destinations.

UberBOAT APP1 UberBoat Boston


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Some Nice Americana: Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis

MI0003734194.jpg?partner=allrovi Some Nice Americana: Bruce Robison & Kelly WillisI just discovered and really enjoyed Our Year by Austin-based Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis. The album came out late last month, and has a nice mix of Texas country and folk. The pace varies a good amount as well, with some upbeat tunes and plenty of mellow ones. And there’s some great harmonica and pedal steel work. The whole album’s on Spotify.

Here’s a blurb from All Music: “On their sophomore duet outing, this husband and wife deliver a soulful take on traditional (not retro) country music”

And here are a few tracks:


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Bullshit Detection Kit

Via The Big Picture, a brief excerpt from Carl Sagan’s book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark Bullshit Detection Kit, on how to detect when people are spouting nonsense:

 The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. If the new idea survives examination by the tools in our kit, we grant it warm, although tentative, acceptance. If you’re so inclined, if you don’t want to buy baloney even when it’s reassuring to do so, there are precautions that can be taken; there’s a tried-and-true, consumer-tested method.

1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.

7. If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.

8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.

All good rules of thumb for filtering through noise and distractions.


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A Flip iPhone

smartwatches A Flip iPhone


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Lasers for Space Broadband

Speeds of 622 Mbps from the moon:

Wireless broadband service went cosmic in a demo conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory and NASA, in which a laser-based communication uplink between the moon and earth beat the previous record transmission speed by a factor of 4,800.

The team’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) transmitted data over the 384,633 kilometers between the moon and earth at a download rate of 622 Mbps. In addition, data was transmitted from the earth to the moon at 19.44 Mbps, a factor 4,800 times faster than the best radio-frequency uplink ever used, MIT said.

Other moon-laser applications here:
laser pointer more power Lasers for Space Broadband


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Are There Hats?


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South Boston Filmed from a Drone


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Heartbleed Explanation

This is great:

heartbleed explanation Heartbleed Explanation


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So I Started Counting My Steps

My brother gave me a Fitbit One for my birthday back in August. I was initially skeptical about where or not I’d find it useful, and actually didn’t even start using it until 3 weeks ago. It’s an activity tracker, which essentially logs daily steps walked and stairs climbed using an accelerometer. It’s less accurate than GPS based apps such as RunKeeper, but the benefit is that you just keep in on a belt or in my case in a pocket, and it just passively logs what you do. And the USB-based rechargeable battery lasts about a week.

I was skeptical because while this type of information might initially be interesting, it doesn’t really serve much of a long-term purpose unless it changes behavior. And I didn’t think it could. But I was wrong.

Very quickly I realized that while I have a reasonably active routine — I run a few times a week and walk a few miles to and from work each day — there are some outlier days in which I don’t get much exercise at all such as a lazy Saturday or a rainy weekday when I take the train to work. I’ve stuck to the default daily goal of 10k steps (~4-5 miles), so on these days I’ve done something active to make sure I hit the goal. I also seem to be finding more excuses to go for walks to keep my daily averages high. I doubt I’ll use it indefinitely, but so far, I like it.

Here’s what the weekly summaries look like:

Fitbit So I Started Counting My Steps

I crushed Dan (although he was on vacation this past week). The daily reporting is well done too, but I only found it interesting for the first week or so.


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One Month Rails Update

As previously mentioned, I’ve begun the One Month Rails course to learn a little bit about coding. Unfortunately, given some time constraints, it’s looking more like it will be a Three Month Rails course. I’m about a third of the way in, and so far, I like it a lot. The quality isn’t impressive, the narrator isn’t too polished, and there are lots of small mistakes or oversights (especially for PC users), but the method is great. It’s much more practice than theory, providing only the necessary context, while putting focus on resources, tools, frameworks, etc that are necessary to build applications (e.g., using GitHub). The benefit of this approach is that within less than an hour, you already have an application with a solid foundation even though it doesn’t do anything yet. I’ll provide a more comprehensive update at some point, and will hopefully share the app I’m developing when I complete the course.


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