Archive for January, 2011

double-sided usb

This design is pretty good, though it would probably break prematurely. Stuff that needs to be plugged in and out repeatedly maybe should not have moving parts. More to the point, why was USB specified to be one-sided in the first place? There are no two rows of pins like in some connectors, so there is really no problem with a receptacle having contacts on two sides.


After some recent bouts of navel-gazing, it occurred to me that I had no idea what was on the other side of the navel. The umbilical cord couldn’t have been spilling nutrients into the abdominal cavity — so there must be something connected on the other side!

Turns out there is.
(Read the article)

written in the snow

After last week’s snow, this appeared near the new Media Lab building (Amherst Street near Ames Street):

“CAL (butt-print) MIT”

I think it’s a sentence…

different times

By way of Slate, we can read John F. Kennedy’s Harvard application, sent in 1935. Things must have gotten (much) harder. Would this application get you in these days, even as a legacy candidate? I’d be surprised. Competition in admissions arises from scarcity of education opportunities. Is education necessarily a scarce resource? Perhaps not, but as an abstract enabling opportunity, that scarcity cannot be eliminated, I don’t think, even with the likes of OpenCourseWare, etc. This is by definition: the scarcity is what makes a thing (e.g. an elite education) an enabling opportunity.

(Read the article)

over-excited referee

“Joey Crawford (the referee) fouls Damon Jones yet calls it against Chauncy Billups”

electric heating

There is something disturbing about electric heating, especially if the electricity used is generated by thermodynamic processes, such as burning coal or natural gas. Lots of heat is sacrificed at the power plant to be able to turn a fraction of the input energy into this superb high-quality electricity that can do mechanical work. Then at the other end, an electric heater just turns it right back into waste heat without doing anything else useful.

But something useful can be done. Instead of straight heating elements, I suggest a server farm. Maybe box it up like an electric heater, sell the CPU cycles back while still getting the same heat out.