Hacking the EZ430 Chronos Watch on the Mac

Today my TI EZ430 Chronos Watch arrived, and I spent a little bit of time hacking it on my MacBook Air. It turns out that even though the documentation seems to require either a Windows machine or a Linux box, you can communicate with the watch from the Mac by modifying the serial port information in the TCL source. I learnt this from a Google Groups post, and I’ve copied the modified TCL source onto my Github account.

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Race Against The Machine

I just finished reading the Kindle book Race Against The Machine, a book I thoroughly recommend. This was the driver of the NPR article I blogged about recently.
The book is mostly oriented towards the US, although the issues they discuss seem to be prevalent across all major economies. The authors make the case that technological improvements are severely impacting every job market except those for highly-skilled individuals.

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Of Gaps and Grass-Eaters

Are the American people obsolete? Salon argues that because of globalisation and technology there is now a increased separation between capital and labour. The activities that generate wealth have both been outsourced to cheaper shores, and become more efficient because of technology. As a consequence the social contract in Western society between rich and poor – the rich provide the capital while the poor provide the labour – is breaking down. The rich still have capital, but they can now move the production of goods to the East, creating a shortage of jobs in the West.

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Eclipse Phase RPG

I just read this awesome thread over at RPG.net about character creation in the new RPG Eclipse Phase. Man, this RPG sounds awesome! As ExNihilo mentions in the thread:

The fact that a question like "Can my character upload his 
living consciousness into a distributed network-swarm of
microscopic robots?" results in actual debate is enough to
convince me that I'll like this game regardless of what the
answer itself turns out to be.

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Social Collapse – Best Practices

Hmmm…. first I read this transcript from a speech by Dmitry Orlov entitled “Social Collapse – Best Practices”, and then I saw on Boing Boing the post How are you coping with Collapse-Anxiety?

The first post describes what might happen if the US collapses in the same way economically as the USSR did in the 1990’s. It then goes on to making recommendations about what to focus on – essentially food, transportation, shelter and security. I thought it was fascinating because although I have been thinking for a number of years that the economic situation was going to get bad, I didn’t envision quite a collapse of that order of magnitude. As the crisis continues however, the possibility suddenly seems to become credible.

I found the comments interesting in the Boing Boing post. It seems as though quite a number of people were actually starting to find themselves in situations reminiscent of those described in the first post – primarily from posters in the US. Scary.

Evidence of the Impending Singularity?

While reading this article in The Economist, the section on rising inequality leapt out at me. The newspaper suggested that technology may be to blame. This is certainly a situation that I’ve been expecting for a while.

In contrast to the Singularity proposed by Vernor Vinge, I believe that as people become more educated, have better tools, and live longer, it will be harder and harder for young, less well educated, and poorer people to compete. This will stratify society.

The Redshift Techno-Economic Theory

The Redshift theory basically categorizes computing needs as either growing faster or slower than Moore’s Law. Traditional business is over-served by Moore’s Law, whereas applications such as financial market simulations, drug industry research, computer animation, and the high-growth end of the internet industry (Facebook, You-Tube, Flickr), are needing computing resources faster than Moore’s Law. These industries are apparently the ones going to generate above-GDP levels of return to an investor.

This theory was advanced by Greg Papadopoulos of Sun Microsystems. One of Sun’s solutions for servicing the computing needs of “Redshifting” companies is Project Blackbox – providing as much computing power as possible inside a shipping container.