About Steve

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In Our Time

Today I’ve been catching up on In Our Time. Despite listening to 3 episodes on the commute I’ve still 8 in the feed to catch up on. Fortunately In Our Time is timeless so I can catch up whenever.

Every week Melvyn Bragg sits down with a group of academic experts and leads them through an exploration of this week’s topic. He must be doing an amazing amount of preparation for these programs, he pretty much always has a good grasp of the subject in hand, and on occasion corrects facts when they are accidentally misspoken by an expert.

Today I listened to ‘The Fable of the Bees’ which discussed Bernard Mandeville’s critique of the economy at the start of the 18th century. His work was both scandalous and influential. Mandeville was an interesting character with some radical philosophy. A program well worth listening to.

Then I followed up with a program discussing ‘Free Radicals’. These are molecules with an extra electron looking to bond with or disrupt other molecules. It turns out that the discovery of free radicals lead to the chemistry of polymers that in turn lead to the revolution in plastics during the last century. Additionally free radicals have been associated with radiation damage and ageing. Free radicals are not entirely a bad thing, for instance organisms have always used free radicals to create the structural building blocks of life such as lignin in flora and collagen in fauna. Another fascinating listen.

I’m currently part way through the episode on Marie Antoinette where the discussion has just reached the time of the French revolution … I’ll find out what happens tomorrow. Ok, I know roughly what happened but I will have a much clearer understanding by the end of the podcast.

In Our Time is to be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/598SVYJ2smP8qJlpH29y7Vj/podcasts

Listening on the commute

I have a commute of over one and a half hours each way.This gives lots of time to listen to podcasts. Normally I would listen to the news on Radio 4 whilst getting breakfast, but this morning I’ve had about as much Brexit and Prince Phillip nonsense as I can take, So the podcast listening started early.

Whilst preparing and eating breakfast and getting ready to leave for work I listened to ‘We Study Billionaires”, which is also called “The Investors Podcast“, there seems to be a bit of a branding issue. After that I needed a little light relief so I listened to the BBC Comedy of the Week podcast. This week was “Mark Steel’s in Town” where Hastings was the town, and Mark Steel has the townspeople eating out of his hands.

For the journey home more light relief with the Sowerby and Luff show, of which more another time.

Missed posting

I missed posting on the 19th. We are working our way through a box set of Game of Thrones and succumbed to ‘just another episode’. Not a lot to post today, it’s been a quiet Sunday all I’ve done is cook dinner. We had a beef casserole with mash potatoes, brussel sprouts and carrots.

An Inventory of the media consumed today is:

So although not that busy, I’ve learned quite a bit.

Chef Knife

Alec Steele has a Youtube Channel about black smithing. I’m not sure if this is a case of nominative determinism or the YouTube equivalent of a nom-de-plume. The image that comes to mind with the term blacksmith is Grizzly Adams style guy with a leather apron, streaming in sweat and covered in grime. Alec is more the typical motormouth high energy YouTuber. I thought it was running at 1.5 times speed, but no it was set at normal.

There is no denying the skill displayed in the creation of this chef’s knife. The first step in creating the knife is making the block of steel that the becomes the pattern showing on the blade.

There are 7 videos taking you through the process to the finished product. It is an incredible journey from a small pile if steel strips to the finished product, with some drama on the way.

Dust

Today a found a new YouTube channel, Dust. Basically the channel offers a collection of short Sci-Fi films, form my brief wander around their channel the films are generally less than 20 minutes and appear to have very high production values. This is how they describe themselves.

DUST is the first multi-platform destination for binge watchable sci-fi. We feature science fiction short films and other content from emerging filmmakers with stunning visual effects, captivating plots and complex character explorations. Robots, aliens, space exploration, technology, and human experience are all a part of DUST.

From the Dust channel description

I found the channel via the short film “FTL” by Adam Stern. About early faster than light flight.

Seeing the ‘presented by Dust’ tag line lead me to their YouTube channel (just search for Dust), then on to their website watchdust.com.

This evening I also watched the first episode of their series Glimpse exploring futurology.

If you could control all your devices from a tattoo on your arm, would you feel safer? What if that sense of security was an illusion? “Circuits” presents a glimpse into the future of…body modification.

Dust is somewhere I am likely to revisit when I’ve a few minutes to burn.

Tesla in Pwn2Own 2019

Image from mariordo59’s photostream

Tesla, in putting up the Model 3 as the top (non-cash) prize in this year’s Pwn2Own, is throwing down the gauntlet to other car companies.

In addition to the cash prizes there are two Model 3 cars up for grabs, with one going to the person with the most ‘Master of Pwn’ points and the other for going to the hacker with the first successful exploit of the event.

TargetPrize
Modem or Tuner$100,000
Wifi or Bluetooth$60,000
Gateway, Autopilot or VCSEC$250,000
Autopilot DOS attack$50,000
Key fobs or phone-as-key$100,000
Persistence$50,000
CAN Bus$100,000

I suspect their competitors are not there because they are not ready. Given what we have seen from the automotive industry to date, I suspect most of Tesla’s competitors vehicles would be highly vulnerable to skilled hackers.

Tesla’s more traditional automotive rivals are, with the launch of luxury electric models, trying to take back the ground they have lost to Tesla (particularly in the US market). This prominent public display of Tesla’s willingness to be security tested in such an openly public arena is raising the cost of a ticket to the game for its competitors.

From the outset Tesla have operated differently from the rest of their industry. They have their own operating platform built from the ground up. With respect to their car operating system they have behaved more like a software company, with security inherent in their design process from the outset. For instance Tesla has run a bug bounty program since 2014, although the initial prizes were much more modest.

Despite their best efforts, recently there was an issue with the early model S keyless entry systems, though that was mitigated promptly with a software update to the cars that allows owners to set a PIN to augment the security.

One of my earliest memories

I recall being very young, visiting my grandparents when I saw on television a man with his head trapped behind a pole. For years I had this vague memory, but it made no sense. Then about 10 years ago my wife bought me a box set of Laurel and Hardy movies. It turned out that my early memory was the film ‘Towed in the hole’ from 1932.

The scene can be seen here:

Earthcore

Scott Sigler’s audio books have been a long time feature of my podcast listening. Scott Sigler is among the first (if not the first) to publish his books as podcast audiobooks. Almost every thing he has written has been made available as podcast audio. Earthcore was the first, originally available as a promotional ebook in 2001, Scott decided to podcast the book in 2005 when the publisher withdrew the imprint and would no longer publish the novel (see the Siglerpedia for full details).

Since then he has gone on to become a New York Times best seller, founded his own business with his publishing partner A Kovacs, has written a further 15 novels and many novellas in partnership with his contemporaries.

Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find.

Wealth and fame lie under that Utah mountain, but at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting … and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out first-hand why this treasure has never been unearthed.

Excerpt from the blurb in the Siglerpedia

With the accumulated experience of the 17 years since he first completed Earthcore Scott has re-written Earthcore. The podcast feed is now on Episode 30 and the action and intensity is starting to reach a climax. There’s still time to load the Scott Sigler Audoibooks feed and catchup. Alternately the book is also available in print or on Audible.

Scott is currently working on the long promised sequel Mount Fitzroy, the first chapter of which was teased back in 2007.

Here’s some fun reviews read by the author.