Newsletter: You need the Internet

Stop whatever you are doing. Stop reading this newsletter. Go watch the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I’ll wait here.

Ok, now that you are back, I want you to think about what just happened. I mean, yeah, the trailer was cool and you are pumped for the next Star Wars movie. But how did that whole process occur? You got a link to my newsletter, or an email if you are a loyal subscriber. You clicked on a link in the newsletter to take you to YouTube. You watched the video. You came back. What else do you do on the Internet besides read about science and sci-fi? How much of your knowledge comes from the Internet? How much of your current job depends on the Internet? How much of your job hunting? How much could you get done without using the Internet on a regular basis? Alright, with that thought in mind, click on this link and read about the Congressman who recently said that, “Nobody has to use the Internet.” This was in response to a town hall about those ISP privacy rules that were recently killed. I will reiterate this every time: This does not have to be a partisan issue. But, it is an issue, and no matter what side of the aisle you align with, you should care. And, you should mock this guy for being an out-of-touch clown.

Let’s chat a little more about policy before we move on to our regularly schedule space news. I like gadgets. I like having computers in all of my products. Sometimes I get nervous that they will rise up and kill me. But, on the whole, I believe that technology is a good thing. It is more legally tricky than some people realize, though. One of the big ongoing fights is the “right to repair” our gadgets. If John Deere has its way, farmers won’t be allowed to get their tractors repaired by third-party repair shops (or to do it themselves). Why? Because SAFETY! HACKERS! THE CYBER!!! But really it is about the extra money they can make by being the exclusive repair person for your gear. The same goes for Apple (and many other gadget makers). They want you to only be able to repair your products by using their people. Fortunately, a number of states are beginning to consider legislation that actually recognizes a right to repair. “But John Deere and Apple do it best,” you say. Perhaps, but that still doesn’t mean that this should be their only option.

Blah, blah, blah. On to the space already.

Last week, I said that a group of astronomers were planning on taking a picture of a black hole. Last week, the earth-sized shutter was finally snapped. Don’t expect to see a picture anytime soon, though–each of the 8 participating observatories have about 500 terabytes of data to work through. Hopefully, in 2018, when the film is finally developed, we won’t be looking at images of an interdimensional hellscape looking back at us. While you wait, though, take a look at all of these images that aren’t of black holes.

Closer to home, NASA thinks that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, could host alien life. That doesn’t mean that there is alien life on the moon, just that the conditions are right. While Mars is interesting because it speaks to our desire to colonize and live the sci-fi dream, I am much more interested in sending better and better probes to Enceladus, Titan, and one of Jupiter’s moons Europa. Mars colonies are sexy. Alien bacteria on crazy moons are sexier.

In case you haven’t thought about Jupiter in a while, it is still gorgeous. And, we found another spot recently. I’ve already made a 2010 joke in this newsletter. Insert your own this time.

Extra Bits

Disney filed a patent for robots that can hug you. Presumably, they will file the patent for the ability to hug you to death later.

Someone hacked Dallas’s emergency sirens. This is a little funny, but also a scary remind of the fragility of our infrastructure.

Burger King trolled Google Home (and Google Assistant) users.

Did you get the Nintendo Classic Mini yet? No? Well, you never will.

Your shoelace is untied…by science!

WordPress and Google Docs

I am always trying to figure out the best way to draft my writing before sending it off to the blog. I am a big fan of iA Writer on Mac and Android, but it does not exist on Chromebooks, at least not until full Android integration happens. But, I may not need to worry about that now because I can push my drafts straight from Google Docs into WordPress. Best of all, I can still use Markdown in my drafts and it will translate over when I push the document into my blog. Yay.

Find out more here.

Productivity and Control

Over the past few years, I have gotten into the idea of productivity and optimizing my workflow. This desire grew from working in an environment defined by the constant churn of responding to emails and attending meetings.

It was easy to fall into the trap of trying to clear my inbox and calling that productive. Or, I would have a full day of meetings and, again, label that as getting things done. The reality, though, was that not many real tasks get completed through email replies and hour-long share outs. I could say that I was “busy,” but busy is not the same as being productive.

Eventually, I started to think about how to get out of that trap. How could I be proactive, rather than reactive? How could I be the boss of my own work? I’m not talking about being my own boss. I’m talking about having some degree of ownership of my work product. The problem is, when you have a boss who wants you to be responsive to their emails and meeting requests, you don’t get to be proactive. You are stuck in a state of reactivity. No matter what your title, you become their admin assistant.

And so, I realized, that all of the Harvard Business Review articles, and all of the Tim Ferriss podcasts wouldn’t magically give me more control. I needed to find a different outlet, whether a new job, or a new hobby.

There is a lot to be learned from all of the self-help and productivity gurus out there. You just have to accept that their advice is going to be tempered by the control (or lack of) that you have in your present situation.

More on that another time.

Adobe Audition = $$$$

Out of nostalgia for my days of slicing up audio using Cool Edit Pro, I checked out Adobe Audition today. After searching in circles, I realized that there is no purchasing Audition. You have to subscribe to access the software through Adobe Creative Cloud. Minimum price = $19.99 a month. If this model was the only way to access music software, I imagine we would have a lot more piracy or a lot fewer budding dorm room producers and engineers.

Thank you, PropellerheadAbleton, and so many other music software companies for not going this route.