GeekSpeak for 2015-03-14

Siri gets an alternative Lyft to Pi Energy

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Dedicated to Terry Pratchett on this PiDay episode we commemorate 40years of Hitchhiker’s Guide, 30year birthday of the oldest dot-com, chat about Seri voice data, wind and ocean alt energy, and talk about the new Apple products.

Dedicated to Terry Pratchett

Sir Terence David John “Terry” Pratchett, OBE (28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015) was an English author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known for his Discworld series of about 40 volumes. Pratchett’s first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983, he wrote two books a year on average. His 2011 Discworld novel Snuff was at the time of its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-audience novel since records began in the UK, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.

Favoriate Pratchett book: Good Omens

The book is a comedy about the birth of the son of Satan, the coming of the End Times and the attempts of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley to avert them, having become accustomed to their comfortable situations in the human world.

Text Adventure game for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Happy 40th anniversary of the publishing of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy!

Pi facts

  • in 1706 π was chosen as the symbol for pi using Greek letter for “p” to represent “perimeter”
  • π is irrational and transcendental (cool to say although meaningless for non-mathematicians until you say: “that basically means it goes on forever without repeating”)
  • the ratio of the Great Pyramid of Giza is roughly 2π

Santa Cruz Children's Museum of Discovery

Pi day celebration for the kids!
10 a.m. to 3 at the Capitola Mall.

Birthday of oldest dot-com (30 years)

Someone had to go first, so on March 15, 1985, Lisp computer maker Symbolics, Inc., registered the Internet’s first dot-com address:
Sunday will mark the 30th anniversary of that registration.

Listener Jim says,

A bit more about Symbolics: A really high-end (and expensive) Lisp-based workstation. It had a brief time as the coolest computer in the engineering world during the period that Lisp was the “in” language. It had some ground-breaking video compatabilities that we take for granted now – think panning a Google maps display.

Apple Admits Siri Voice Data is Being shared with Third Parties - DigitalMunition

Apple admits that its Siri — an intelligent personal assistant for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices — is collecting and also transmitting users voice data to 3rd party companies, which was disclosed in an unsurprising revelation two weeks back on Reddit.

Wind Power Without U.S. Subsidy to Become Cheaper Than Gas - Bloomberg Business

The cost of operating a wind farm in breezy states like Iowa and South Dakota dropped by more than a third to $45 a megawatt-hour in 2013 from $71 in 2008. Costs will continue declining as tower heights increase by as much as 50 percent to 150 meters and capture more energy.


  • New Macbook
  • Apple Watch
  • Apple TV with HBO Now
  • ResearchKit

Lenovo still shipping laptops with Superfish

Based on the experience of Ars readers Chai Trakulthai and Laura Buddine, Lenovo overstated both assurances. The pair recently examined a $550 Lenovo G510 notebook purchased by a neighbor, and their experience wasn’t consistent with two of Lenovo’s talking points. First, the PC was ordered in early February more than four weeks after Lenovo said it stopped bundling Superfish, and yet when the notebook arrived in late February it came pre-installed with the adware and the secure sockets layer certificate that poses such a threat.

3D printed Car Transmission

3D printed 5-speed transmission for a Toyota 22RE engine, created by a mechanical engineer named Eric Harrell of Santa Cruz, California. Not only does it look legitimate, but it also is completely functional.

Alternative power in Australia

CETO 5, named for the ancient Greek sea goddess, is part of the “Carnegie Perth Wave Energy Project,” a multimillion dollar initiative built to demonstrate the commercial viability of a large-scale wave power. The system is already turning heads both for the energy it produces, as well as the pollution it doesn’t. 
CETO 5 (the fifth iteration of the CETO technology) is a modular array of three, entirely-submerged 240 kW buoys and water pumps. As oceanic waves move the buoys, they in turn activate the pumps, pushing pressurized water through power turbines, while simultaneously feeding into a desalinization system.

Lyft raises $530 million in latest funding round | ITworld

Lyft has raised US$530 million in its latest funding round, and plans to use the money to beef up its IT staff, expand its footprint and boost existing services.

Great explanation of irrational numbers

Irrational numbers may have a quite discernible pattern in their decimal representations, for example,
.02002000200002… is irrational, but perfectly predictable.
What an irrational number may not have is a finite sequence of digits which repeat infinitely in translation, for example,
.777123412341234… etc., with the 1234 repeating forever!
Perhaps more interestingly, pi’s decimal representation is thought to be “normal," meaning any finite sequence of digits occurs with the same frequency as any other same length sequence within its digits. This would mean that every imaginable sequence appears infinitely often, for example, the complete works of Shakespeare, with one mistake, or your entire life history (coded by digits). But no one has proved pi’s digits are normal. Carl Sagan used these ideas in his book Contact, proposing some advanced civilization had embedded a message deep within the digits of pi..

—Thanks Karl Schaffer!