Food Random recommendations

Pistachios and cashews are gangster

Imagine yourself a sea captain, sailing from port to port with cargos of food. Which ones are a risk?

So a cargo of pistachios seems harmless, doesn’t it? It’s totally not – they can suffocate you, set themselves on fire in two different ways and might, for bonus hazard points, explode.

Cashews? They’re covered in toxic irritant irushiol, which has to be burned off before they’re safe for consumption. That’s why you’ll never see cashews in-shell.

I learned both of these and more at the latest issue of The Whippet, which I recommend to you. S/he finds interesting stuff.

essays Random recommendations

Building a Cathedral — The Prepared

Well worth your time!


More hovering and circling

Police helicopter. I always wonder.


Random ADS-B today

You see odd things on ADS-B sometimes when you view traces.

Googled and it was an acrobatic plane.

Guess they were doing a routine?

Random recommendations

Grim reading

Three long reads – or at least bookmark:

Takeaways? Install pi-hole at home, use 1Blocker on iOS, uBlock Origin on your desktop, reconsider if you use Android at all, and always have a 6-digit PIN on your phone. It’s probably worse than you thought.


10gig completed

Two sfp+ transceivers and some reconfigurations layer…

Note the magic “10G” lights!

Full view.

A test via nfs shows 300MB/sec writes and 350 reads. Next I can play with jumbo frames and such. Might put an old SSD in the NAS to see if it’ll speed it up.

But even so it’s super fast.

Computer science Random

Ten gigabit home networking

This will be a series of posts. I upgraded my NAS to a model with dual 10G ports, and the compute server already had 10G so I had an excuse.

Old setup – 4-bay Synology DS416play and a USB3 drive caddy for a temporary backup solution. TP-Link 16 port switch, all ports in use.

After some searching, I found this Mikrotik switch for $142 on Amazon. 28 ports of 1G plus two 10G ports. Most switches with 10g are either $100 per port or have fans – this one is 19 watts, no fans, and cheap. Note the “sfp+” notation – it means you need more pricy bits to finish the job, but you can use other media like fiber optic links. So total cost of almost 2x.

Switch in and waiting for NAS backup to complete:

Power usage went down by 20 or 30 watts. Always something I pay close attention to. Here’s semi-final:

Next week I get the SFP+ transceivers and rewire a bit. Trunked dual 1G links for now. Power usage is back to where it was, maybe down a watt or two. The new switch is only 19W (the old was around 30) but the larger NAS uses more power, so even under heavy load with 5 disks going.

Random Watches

Truth, beauty and quartz

A recent podcast (Scottish Watches, with Adam Craniotes) there was a nice side discussion of the nature of men’s watches. “Metal Barbie dolls,” to paraphrase, and it did inspire a thought or two.

This is the watch on my wrist now – Seiko SBGX117, a Grand Seiko quartz diver made between 2014 and 2017. 42mm, steel, titanium hands, thermocompensated quartz movement accurate to ten seconds per year. List price was about 4k USD new, I got it used in a trade for about about 2500.

Seiko SBGX117
Seiko SBGX117

If you’re curious, Ariel wrote a nice review here on ABtW.

I’ve also been enjoying this Scurfa recently too:

Scurfa Diver One DI-500

And of course my even-more-accurate 9F GMT:

Seiko SBGN001

For men in the western culture milieu, the only socially acceptable forms of jewelry are the watch and wedding band. There are few exceptions, of course; I’m speaking in generalities here for cishet.

And we’re not allowed to ever, ever call them ‘pretty.’ It has to be masculine, engineering-focused, etc. All gendered language. Yet all the while, we’re always looking for beauty, even if we call it proportion, ratio, finishing and craftwork.

We are, however, allowed to Seek Truth, and for that quartz is king. There’s a wonderful well of difficult problems, interesting physics and obsessive engineering required to make a really accurate timekeeper, and these Seiko 9F movements are among the finest ever made. For that matter, I have a lot of meetings these days, often over video with remote participants, so it is super useful to know the precise time.

9F movement, picture Seiko

So watches are how we thread the needle of societal expectations. We can enjoy manly bonding over our shiny jewelry while still performing masculinity. And hey, it really does come in handy to know what time it is with a watch that can get wet, handle rough treatment, lasts a decade or more and doesn’t require charging every day or two and setting every week.

Random Travel

Thoughts on the Amazon re:MARS 2019 conference

The usual disclaimer: my employer paid for me to go, but this is my personal take, etc.

TL;DR: hell of a show, varied tech content, unusual breadth and amazing audience. Crazy attention to branding.

So most of the conferences I attend are tech focused: PyCon, Supercomputing, Google I/O, that sort of thing. re:MARS is machine learning, AI, robotics and space, which is why I went, I’m a machine learning engineer these days. But the audience was wild – I met CEOs of aerospace companies, the head of robotics strategy at Amazon and dined with the CTO of a mid-cap German tech company. I can’t recall any tech conference with such good C-level attendees and I really appreciated the opportunity to talk as peers. Or at least fellow attendees. And having Robert Downey Jr as keynote was… boss.

Many of the talks were transparently ads for services or companies. Blech. Some were excellent- the DeepRacer half day was great. I liked very much some of the Ground Truth and Ground Station talks… and wow are those a span. Who’d have anticipated the bookstore becoming a purveyor of 10gbit satellite downlinks?

Machine learning is hugely dominant throughout as expected, with an interesting explanation from a VP that every single project has to explain in their OP-1 plan how they’ll use ML. It’s a requirement now! So if you’re not onboard yet, they opened up their ML course – free!

The expo floor was quite cool and over half cool robotics. And spaaaace.

Cool indeed.

And a selfie bot.

As is often the case, it was 100F outdoors and downright chilly inside. Pro tip, always pack a light layer. Your mom was right.

Show floor:

Someday I’ll have a robotic lawnmower.

Rivian had their truck there and I drooled on it. Presumably unaffordable though.

The weather was Vegas summer. I promptly gave up the idea of finding a beach volleyball game as suicidal.

The motor speedway party was epic. The pace car ride was a total blast, being driven 122MPH in, of all things, a stocky Camry SE driven by a former racer. Zoom zoom indeed.

The battlebots bored me, to my surprise. No seats left.

I only sorted this out at the end, but in retrospect Amazon went to astonishing lengths to brand everything. It’s amazing. So signs of course.

Note the odd size and shape. But covering all logos on the wireless gear? On a 15m ceiling mount even?

And the podiums.

And the monitors. All blanked out. Ditto all loudspeakers. An impressive, Steve Jobsian level of attention to detail and message. Tour busses even go co-branding.

The mock space capsule was fully awesome.

My employer got some great mentions –

Though I am biased, I think it’s true that Intuit is doing cool stuff in ML. End advert.

Oh yeah, this is tasty and I need to buy some.

If you’ve questions, leave a comment and I’ll answer or append here.

Should you go? Tough call if you look at just ROI – you don’t learn as much tech but the crowd might well be a sound investment. Some of the space talks, for example, had an amazing audience of experts and entrepreneurs. I’ve got an idea for a startup now based on SAR data that I need to investigate, so maybe that’s my personal takeaway. I’m really glad that I got to go.


School 3D

Older daughter’s school has printers too and a high power laser cutter. Damn.

And my Scurfa arrived! More to come on this.