essays Law Law enforcement Politics

Worth a read: 99 problems

Ever wondered about your rights? Can, for example, you say no when the police ask to search your car?

Caleb Mason is here to help. (PDF)

This is a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of 99 Problems by Jay-Z, from the perspective of a criminal procedure professor. It’s intended as a resource for law students and teachers, and for anyone who’s interested in what pop culture gets right about criminal justice, and what it gets wrong.

The song is often known for it’s crude language. I had avoided it, but according to Jay-Z and this article, it’s a reference to a K-9 search dog, not a woman or women. Also, you can’t refuse to exit the car, a locked trunk doesn’t require a warrant, and my home state is 2-party-recording consent.

Well worth a read. I’m no lawyer, but this was entertaining and informative.

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.

Travel Watches Wrist shots

The 9F as an adventure watch

Took the SBGN001 for a weekend jaunt. Hiking, snow, desert. It did great. The wear comfort on this 39mm size is fantastic.


EV has spoiled me

Saw this cool old car the other day and realized that, although the style is cool, I am so not interested in the hassle of and old gas engine. EV really has made a convert out of me.


New Apple bug

Twice in two days, when I plug in the monitors I get solid colors and nothing else. Forced reboot.

Come on Apple, fix this crap.


Poor mans’ Corum Golden Bridge

Screenshot 2018-04-01 18.18.43.png
Image credit: Atto Verticale

Atto Verticale TO/03‘, $352.80. A very unusual baguette movement that was clearly inspired by the Corum:

Screenshot 2018-04-01 18.22.35.png
Image credit: Corum

I’m not a fan of Corum, but for the Golden Bridge I’m happy to make an exception. (Though it’s $$$; out of my budget). The Atto Verticale is interesting, though I’m not sure how much I’d enjoy it after the new wore off. Nice to see some new ideas out there regardless. They sell it in round and rectangular cases, anodized aluminum, different colors for a nice and unusual look.

via Atto Verticale

Watches Wish lists

Ratcheting/extensible clasps

I was reading OceanicTime: ORIS ProDiver GMT and the last image reminded me:

ORIS ProDiver GMT 06.jpgImage credit: OceanicTime

That’s a nice clasp. If you look close, it has two side buttons, and when pressed you can lengthen or shorten the strap by about 1cm.

This is a brilliant feature and every strap and bracelet should have it.

Here are the ones I’ve seen, reviewed or coveted:

gp-8.jpgImage credit: ABtW

That’s the Girard-Perregaux Sea Hawk II, from my review on That was the first time I had ever seen one, as as noted in the review, they’re a damned fine idea.

Rolex introduced their Glidelock (details here) and it’s on several of their models now:

inside_Sub_clasp.jpgImage credit:

I owned a Tudor Pelagos for a while; it has a superb clasp and adds a spring-tensioned mode; probably the best of any design I’ve used:

02-light-and-resistant.jpg Image credit: Tudor

That’s not a great picture, here’s a better one found via Pinterest:

da9f5fbbf3b25068116a6d486cd56907.jpg.pngImage credit: Unknown/Pinterest

It’s more complicated but works better.

The Seiko Marinemaster SBDX001 I owned had one but I disliked it: too thick, sharp bits that poke the wrist and awkward to use.


Omega makes one too, part number 117stz001154, has quite a few fans:

IMG_2792 (1).jpg Image credit: WatchUSeek

IWC Mark XVIII (18) looks elegant:

Image credit: AblogToWatch

Now, with all of those (and others that I’ve missed), you’d think that buying one would be easy.

Or at least possible. Nope. This is one of the very few that I’ve found:

Image credit: Strapcode

It’s just OK, compared to the others, and they want $63 for it, more if you want it in PVD black.

Formex sells clasps designed to work with normal 2-piece watch straps. They’re pricy at $65 to $120. I’ve not seen one in person.

Hey watch companies: Please add these to every bracelet you sell! And the dive straps too.

Update: There’s now an entire site devoted to this, called where ‘tolmia’ stands for ‘tool-less microadjust’.

More please!


Today’s NSFW fun

First link is so-so, but videos aren’t safe. Totally worth your time for both videos and the MF discussion. In case you’re curious, it’s the video and the making-of video for Turn Down for What (by DJ Snake & Lil Jon). Much more interesting and funny than you’d expect.

Politics Random

Urban surveillance in San Diego

I am beta-testing an iOS app that shows ADS-B flight data, and yesterday this showed up:

That is not normal. I did a search for ‘N812FS’ and found this:

The story explains that this plane, a turboprop Pilatus PC12, is owned and flown by FLIR Systems and

…air mission profiles fall into 4 different areas: demonstration, transportation, cargo and engineering. Greg says that approximately 60% of their flights fall into the demonstration category. With a maximum cruise speed of 280 kts, a range of over 1500 nm, and short-field takeoff and landing capabilities of 2650 ft and 1850 ft, respectively, they can take a sensor almost anywhere in the world for show-and-tell to potential customers.

From the product page for the FLIR Ultra 8500 we learn that it is

The world’s number one selling law enforcement thermal imager, the Ultra8500 is a compact, stabilized multi-sensor system designed for Pursuit/Patrol and Surveillance missions. This model is based on the 9″ gimbal design, configured for specific law enforcement missions.

So basically FLIR (the company, that is) is circling for hours over a few neighborhoods, capturing video and showing what it can do for potential clients, presumably the local police department. Here’s a snip from the product sheet:

I have the $320 version that attaches to your phone, and even it is surprisingly capable.

E.g. here I used it to look for leaks in a drain, which is easy if you run hot water to provide contrast:

Or insulation:

And my server closet – that Airport does run hot.

I’d guess that the airborne version could easily spot grow houses, which matters less now that California has legalized pot. More worrying to me is that fact that, due to a mild climate, many local houses were built with no wall insulation at all, thus meaning that the airborne FLIR can literally see through walls. If you add a dirt box to the plane too, it’s scary as hell.

Here’s the thing: In Kyllo v United States, the Supreme Court ruled that FLIR imaging was a search and required a warrant. What’s a company doing? Is it legal? Are they selling imagery or derived data to law enforcement for the disgrace that is ‘parallel construction’?