Friday, September 28, 2012

Why are OS X solutions easier to find than Windows solutions?

When something goes wrong on a computer, we all turn to Google. 

Almost all. I suppose Apple employees have to use Bing.

I can usually find OS X fixes fairly easily, even though when I need an OS X fix it's often a pretty obscure issue.

Windows 7 is another story. I rarely find solutions. Searches run into unanswered questions, paywalls, and wrong answers; it doesn't matter if I use Bing or Google.

Why is OS X search so much better than Windows 7 search? Windows 7 is still much widely used than OS X.

Has anyone else noticed this? Maybe it's just me.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Islamic rage and free speech.

A guy with a big chip on his shoulder isn't going to do well. He's easy to play with, but even without manipulation he's going to wreck his life.

A lot of the Islamic world is like that, probably because the population is young, social structures are intensely patriarchal, employment opportunities suck, education is distorted by religious doctrine and the world is a very scary place. Just be glad the "The End of Men" isn't a video. Threats to patriarchal structures are not entirely imaginary.

But it's not just Islam. The anti-Japanese riots in China look awfully to Cairo; and does anyone remember burning cities in 1960s America?

So national rage isn't as simple as a cultural trait unique to Islam.

What about free speech, how simple is that?

As any high school student should be able to describe, we don't practice completely free speech in the US. The NYT mentions a couple of examples but Wikipedia has more ...

Freedom of speech in the United States - Wikipedia

... the Miller test for obscenity, child pornography laws, speech that incites imminent lawless action, and regulation of commercial speech such as advertising. Within these limited areas, other limitations on free speech balance rights to free speech and other rights, such as rights for authors and inventors over their works and discoveries (copyright and patent), protection from imminent or potential violence against particular persons (restrictions on fighting words), or the use of untruths to harm others (slander)...

... Publishing, gathering or collecting national security information is not protected speech in the United States ... The unauthorized creation, publication, sale or transfer of photographs or sketches of vital defense installations or equipment as designated by the President is prohibited.[13] The knowing and willful disclosure of certain classified information is prohibited ... It is prohibited for a person who learns of the identity of a covert agent through a "pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents" to disclose the identity to any individual not authorized access to classified information, with reason to believe that such activities would impair U.S. foreign intelligence efforts.. 

Julian Assange could say something about national security and restrictions on free speech -- though the material he published was widely redistributed in the US without much consequence. The US didn't exercise blocks on web servers. Other information is more restricted. Although the wikipedia article on nuclear weapon design is pretty detailed, more practical 'make your own terror weapon' recipes are hard to find.

Even videos of this type of restricted material would be unlikely to provoke popular outrage. Neither would videos attacking religious beliefs, politicians, science (the GOP makes those) or history -- denial of American slavery, Amerindian genocide or the Holocaust are all protected speech.

The only exception I can think of would be child pornography. Videos that use children under the age of 12 in sexual or harmful activities are strictly illegal in the US and would create anger and disgust. I can't see riots, though and, of course, the Islamic reaction would be at least as negative.

National rage is not uniquely Islamic, but protected speech is pretty distinctly American. Perhaps a consequence of that protected speech is that while sticks and stones will trigger invasions, "names will never hurt us".

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tom Cook's great test: the response to Apple maps.

Contrary to Joe Nocera's impression, Steve Jobs' Apple screwed up a lot. MobileMe wasn't the only disaster; even iCloud was a regression. OS X Lion was nothing to write home about. Apple did better under threat, worse when they felt confident. Ultimately, of course, Jobs cruel genius coupled with unprecedented power over a public company meant Apple escaped mediocrity.

Post-Jobs most of us expect Apple to behave more like a typically dysfunctional publicly traded company. We expect more products like iOS maps and Siri -- heavily marketed but only marginally useful. (Under Jobs Apple buried flops quickly.)

Of course there's still a chance Cook can find a way to escape this mediocrity. I'm watching for how Apple responds to user submitted map corrections. 

Historically Apple seems to ignore users. Even respected developers have a hard time getting their bug reports reviewed. Google, to their credit, has responded to every map correction I've made. Sometimes I get a response in a week or two, sometimes in a month or two, but I always find out which corrections were accepted and which were rejected. (So far 5/6 accepted, I think the other one had already been fixed.)

This is something Cook can change. If Apple provides feedback to users on the fate of their corrections, then I'll be hopeful that Cook can chart a new post-Jobs course. If they don't then they're on the fast track to Microsoft-land.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What has Apple done for me lately?

The new iOS connector cable. iOS 6 maps. iOS 6 Podcasts. RSS Deprecation. iTunes 11 (train coming). iCloud. Siri. Lion. Embedded webkit hole in iOS parental controls.

I'm sure there are more. Apple hasn't been doing much for me lately. Yeah, I'm in a grumpy mood. The good news for Apple is that Google's done even worse. The past two years have not been great for the 0.00001% like me.

It can't be all bad though. What, with it's zillions of dollars, has Apple done in the past 1-2 years that I like?

I'll grow the list, but here's the start. Send me additions if you can think of them...
  • Mountain Lion looks promising.
  • MacBook Air.
  • iMessage.
  • iOS 5 let me override exchange calendar color assignments.
  • Six years late, Apple finally delivered iPhoto Pro with it's agonizingly slow and still incomplete Aperture/iPhoto integration project. Way, way late, but it counts.
  • Find Friends (I think it will be useful for our family eventually).
  • iPhone retina screen - good for old eyes.
  • iPhone camera.
The bad and the good are close to balance, which is kind of sad for the world's richest tech company. Of course I'm not their market.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tachytely and human evolution: implications for the Drake Equation and Fermi Paradox

I haven't done a Drake/Fermi Paradox post for ages. A lot has happened in the meantime; in particular estimates of the number of potentially-life-compatible planets in our galaxy has grown exponentially.

Of course not all life supporting planets will develop sentient tool using species. Unless there's something about sentience and tool use feedback loops that produce tachytelic development. That would boost the Drake estimate into the low thousands. We ought to be tripping over little green things.

But we don't. Of course if technological civilizations all self-destruct quickly this would all make sense.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why I'll be deferring iOS 6 and iPhone 5: podcasts gone

I listen to several Podcasts; using smartlists to identiy partly played casts and those I haven't started.

That won't be possible come iOS 6:

TidBITS Networking: Does Apple’s Podcasts App Suck Cellular Data?

...In iOS 6, the Music app removes podcasts altogether ...

Leaving us with the crummy

We've also been told to expect an iTunes update. I wonder if that will drop podcasts too. I expect smart lists to go. We already know iOS 6 will lose Google Maps.

For me iOS 6 and iTunes 11 look to be big regressions. iPhone 5 and it's new cable hasn't impressed me either. I'll be going slow on both, which means I'll likely defer my iPhone 5 too.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Information archeology: a challenge for Google Reader (or its successor)

There's an immense amount of knowledge, insight and entertainment in the feeds I follow. Using on my iPhone, and Google Reader web or on my desktops, I learn something new every half-hour or so. I share some of the stream via Pinboard (archival),, twitter and wordpress (archive and indexed into my custom search).

Works pretty well -- but it could be better.

I'm skimming the surface of the knowsphere. There's great material below, sometimes in once beloved blogs that have gone silent. We need a way to dig it up.

That's someting old-Google might have added to Reader. Using signals like links, non-spam comments and authorship Google Reader could define an "archeology" stream -- the best of the past, where 18 months might be the start of old.

Google's probably not going to do this, but a third party service could do this and create a feed. Yahoo!'s wonderful but forgotten Pipes! product could be modified along these lines.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Gerbil- the Achilles tooth

And now for something completely different.

This posts consists of two warnings about gerbils, the weird and probably inbred [1] semi-domesticated desert rat of Mongolia formally known as Meriones unguiculatus.

The first warning is that you shouldn't let your kids be exposed to a school gerbil that is going to be fed to the school snake unless someone adopts it. 

If this warning arrives too late, then you need to read the surprisingly detailed wikipedia entry and this UK article on Gerbil Health. From both you will learn about the Achilles tooth:

Gerbils can sometimes lose teeth ...  the first sign of this can be that the animal looses weight due to not being able to gnaw their food - they will stop chewing cardboard quite a while before this so if your pet is not destroying cardboard boxes with its normal enthusiasm have a look at its teeth.

If your gerbil looses one or more front teeth it is essential that any remaining teeth are trimmed by the vet every 2-3 weeks...

Trimmed ever 2-3 weeks at a cost per visit of $30-$50 or so (more if sedation is needed). And you thought Apple's #$@ iPhone 5 adapter cable was expensive.

MG 6564  2012 09 14 at 07 59 46

Teeth, it turns out, are a rodent's curse. A pet gerbil can lose its tail and do well, but if anything disrupts chewing the teeth will grow until the gerbil dies [2].

Which brings me to the second warning. Don't buy your gerbil a house ...

41roxp1Ev L

These cute things are held together by tacks (and probably, since they're made in China, lead paint and radioactive waste). Gerbils, which live (and die) by chewing can chomp into the tacks and break a tooth. This is not a good thing. Don't buy these. Consider instead Totally Chewbular Tubes and Critter Caves.

You have been warned. No gerbils. If the kids get one, then no damned tack houses.

You're welcome. I don't think I'll have anything more to say about gerbils.

[1] Between 20 and 50% of all pet gerbils have the epilepsy. (according to Gerbil Health)
[2] Vets claim they don't tolerate suffering -- they dwindle and die instead. The lack of capacity for suffering implies that the great Programmer likes rodents, and that one escape from Samsara might be cyclic reincarnation as a gerbil.

Update: Another gerbil reference

Update 10/18/2012: Much to our surprise, a mere month later, he's fat and happy with both his upper teeth. He ended up having to regenerate two front teeth. During the long healing process he became addicted to Emily's deluxe ground gerbil food, devouring a dish in seconds. He's probably doubled his weight from his low famished state.

The Cosmo story, the facade of online security, and the US Postal Service.

Mat Honan, who is making a career out of being hacked, has a solid profile of a juvenile delinquent hacker [1] - "Derek", alias Cosmo (Cosmo, the Hacker 'God' Who Fell to Earth (via Schneier).

"Derek" is a troubled kid, but, in addition to hurting a lot of people, he's also done us a favor. He's become the latest in a series of people exposing the facade of online security.

Unsurprisingly AOL is the worst -- until recently you could reset someone's account just by knowing their address. Apple, Amazon, Netflix and just about everyone else isn't much better. Only Google makes a good try at it, and they just plugged a big hole.

This won't surprise anyone who knows the history of credit card hacks (example). The reasons are fairly easy to understand:

  1. If your iCloud account is hacked, Apple loses approximately nothing.
  2. Good processes and security are expensive. You have to train staff. To prevent one hack you probably have to irreversibly piss off somewhere between 10 and 1000 customers. Each of these customers will rage to at least five friends.
  3. Less than 1 person in a zillion can manage password security, and that person's family will be completely screwed when they run off or die [2].

What we have here is a market failure. Market failures are one reason we have governments.

Governments, particularly post offices, have managed identities for a long time. Passports for example, are managed by Post and Passport Offices. There are laws and procedures in place.

Digital identity management in most nations will eventually be handled by some cooperative mixture of government and business within a regulatory framework. We'll use multi-factor authentication, and we will have "break the glass" functionality available through government when access is lost (for a fee).

Preposterous? No. Six years ago these kinds of proposals generated snort-milk-out-the-nose laughter. I don't hear the laughter any more. It will take a decade, just because these things always stagger on for longer than I can imagine, but it will eventually happen.

See also:

[1] Steve Jobs was the most famous member of this cohort.
[2] Number of people who have both a highly secure password system and a method to pass information to spouse in event of death or disability? Does your spouse have your list of ten Google two-factor bypass codes? What if s/he dies in the car crash with you? Does your estate have them?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

iPhone 5: meh.

What I wanted from the new iPhone and Apple

  • Ability to specify calendar colors for Exchange Server/ActiveSync calendars
  • Water resistance
  • Lower cost data plans
  • Parental controls that work (ability to disable embedded browsers).
  • Fix the Apple ID debacle
  • Bicycle directions on the Map app

What I got

  • A new connector with a $30 adapter.
  • No more parental controls for YouTube (since it's a separate app).
  • A map app without Google bicycle routes
  • A bunch of features I don't care much about
  • A dumbed down version of iTunes that will probably omit much of many of the query (smart list) abilities I rely on
  • More iCloud fail

Meh. I'll probably buy another AT&T iPhone and extend my contract, but I'll wait until I see how the different data plans shake out. The $30 adapter is particularly arrogant.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Home maintenance: Our toilet leak, why Google searches about home problems suck, and my fix

Emily claimed the toilet was running. It seemed fine to me. Flush, fill, stop.

She didn't believe me, despite my stellar home repair history (I know how to stand aside while she calls a contractor). She bought a new flap valve, but still she could hear a leak. Obsessed, she took to spending hours staring at the toilet, listening ...

Or maybe minutes. She showed me that the tank water level was dropping until it triggered the float valve, and the tank refilled. There was no sign of water entering the bowl -- so where was it going?

Google was no help, but eventually we figured out that when I last replaced the float/valve mechanism I'd failed to trim the refill tube. It was so far down the overflow pipe it was below the fill line, and water was being siphoned into the overflow pipe. I assume this must run into the bowl, but we couldn't detect the flow (ok, that puzzles me - but I can't believe there's another flow option.)

That solved our home problem, but not the Google problem. It's not the first time I've noticed that searches for home issues don't work well. For some reasons, Google seems to have lost the SEO battle for the home maintenance market.

The answer to that problem is a free (ad-supported) Google custom search engine.

First, now that I knew the problem, I searched for a site that would have solved it:

Toiletology ... : "Another occasion when siphoning is a problem in a toilet tank occurs when the refill tube drops too far down into the overflow pipe. Then the water is siphoned from the tank into the overflow pipe and down the drain. While this scenario won't harm you, it will wreak havoc on your water bill, because you have water constantly recycling through your toilet. This problem often arises when a new refill valve is installed. They usually come with extra long refill tubes that are meant to be cut to size, but instead a do-it-yourselfer just drops the long tube down inside the pipe. The refill tube should be cut to just reach the top of the overflow and then be clipped to the top edge of the pipe. "

Then I started my home repair and maintenance custom search engine (see all of mine) with toiletology. Next I added the site for a magazine Emily subscribes to - "The Family Handyman". I'll gradually add sites to the CSE, but I don't want to add too many. That will produce Google's behavior -- lots of duplicative references on common problems, and the real result buried on page 114. 

See also:

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Learning French: using free speech recognition services to improve pronunciation and accent

I can learn most things pretty easily; but not music or language. Tone deaf is an understatement.

This was a problem for a lower class anglais caught up in Quebec's Quiet Revolution. Around the age of 12 I had to learn French; at a time when nobody knew how to teach it. This did not go well. Much later a delightful summer immersion in Chicoutimi was more successful, but I still struggled to be understood. My French diction is almost as bad as my Thai.

This is a hard problem. I needed a demanding listener who could tolerate repetitive errors without annoyance. It would help if they were available at any time, and were willing to work for free.

Happily, that teacher has long been available. It occurred to me long ago that I just needed to practice with a French speaker-independent non-adaptive continuous speech recognition engine until the output matched my input. I waited for that to be built into language education software.

And I waited. Sometimes I idly thought about putting the software together myself.

Today I realized I could simply use Mac speech recognition and language support to learn French speech. It works rather well. I expect many iOS, Android and OS X language education apps will be able to integrate this  capability into language education for French, Chinese and English. Android will have an advantage here, since iOS is more restrictive about what developers can do.

I'm looking forward to buying those apps when they become available. In the meantime my son will be using this during for his High School French class.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Education - how much has math teaching changed?

I have thought of myself as somewhat mathic. I'm certainly no mathematician, but I did it well back when raptors roamed the earth. When I did another grad degree in the 90s I enjoyed my grad stats.

I've changed my mind though, now that I'm reading math blogs like Gödel’s Lost Letter and P=NP, and now that I'm seeing the 13yo cover math topics years ahead of when I did them (MN public school). I was mathic in my day, but the curve is wider now.

Math education has changed, perhaps more than most of us realize. It's likely to change a lot more. Math classes still require medieval calculators, and math exams often mandate particularly primitive calculators. Meanwhile the cost of a used iPod Touch is falling to $120, and Wolfram Algebra Course assistant sells for $1.99.

Sometime in the next few years, despite the drag of obsolete standardized testing [1], math classes will switch from primitive calculators to symbolic math software.

Times are changing.

[1] Old-fart anecdote. I grew up with Quebec provincial standardized exams. I don't know when they started, as a teen they seemed eternal. In the 1970s they still included exercises that involved logarithm table lookups. Paper logarithm tables -- what people used before slide rules. So we learned how to use paper logarithm tables (not hard) at the expense of slide rules (that was dumb). This didn't turn into much of a handicap because calculators came along, so the exams just dropped the log tables and never had to address slide rules. So these transitions are not without precedent.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Do evolutionary strategies evolve?

Biologists study evolutionary "strategies", such as r and K selection.

These are the strategies deployed the Great Programmer as she fiddles with the game states of the multiver... erkkk. Just kidding. These are, of course, human terms for the emergent phenomena of natural selection.

At a more granular level, a predator's niche might be contested on the basis of bigger teeth, stronger claws, faster moves, greater endurance, or bigger brains.

Likewise, microbes, who rule the earth, have a range of "strategies". Symbiosis, parasitism, fast reproduction, encysting and so on.

Presumably the catalog of strategies changes over time. Before there were teeth, big teeth strategies were not available.

Before there were neurons, big brain strategies didn't work.

So that leads to the obvious question, do evolutionary strategies evolve? That is, do new strategies emerge from variations of strategies such that the strategies themselves are subject to selection pressure (a sort of meta-selection I suppose)?

Seems an obvious question, but as of Sept 2012 Google has 9 hits on that precise phrase, none by biologists.

So I guess it's an obvious question, but maybe obviously dumb. I'm surprised though that I didn't find a blog post explaining why it's dumb.

(A bit of context, this came up in a discussion with my 13yo about what species would fill our ecological niche (global multicellular apex predator). Having hit upon the strategy of investing in brains, would natural selection keep returning to the theme?)

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Weird economics - why our kids end up with expensive iPhones that make me nervous

The US mobile market may not be quite as bleak as Canada's, but it's pretty bad. What I really want is to be able to buy a full-price iPhone and then buy metered data services separately (oh, and some voice too). Unfortunately, that's hard to do here. We're stuck in a market where the economically rational thing to do is buy a new device as soon as AT&T or Verizon allows (typically ever 12-18 months depending on how much money you spend during a 24 month contract). 

If we don't buy new, we pay the same data rate as someone whose data rate includes their phone payment. Sucks really.

This has some odd side-effects -- lots of used iPhones.

These can be sold, but only at a fraction of their original $660 cost [1.] Amazon, for example, will currently buy a 16GB iPhone 4 for $300 and a 32GB for $320. That's good money, but it's comparable to the cost of a 16GB iPod Touch (@$250)[2] and the iPhone includes phone and much better camera capability.

So it makes some sense to give the old iPods to the kids [3], who tend to lose them or drop them in the toilet. Which drives me kind of crazy because these are, in some sense, $500 devices and we're not Romney-rich.[5],[7]

If iPhone economics weren't so weird we wouldn't do this. We'd give the kids cheap disposable phones and an iPod Touch (less cost) or iPad Mini (harder to lose/drop in toilet) [6]. Given iPhone economics though, they end up with overpriced phones which they can't take to school [4].

Weird market.


[1] $300 initial plus $15*24= 660
[2] Target has cut the price of an 8GB Touch to $180. They call it an "MP3 Player", which is like calling my iMac a DVD player. The price crash on this pocket computer isn't getting much attention. 
[3] We pay $10 a month for each 12+ kid for their texting and voice services, no data.
[4] If they really need a phone we put the paygo SIM in a disposable plain phone. They each have persistent Google Voice numbers through the family Google Apps domain, so we can route calls as needed. 
[5] Romney rich is when not working doesn't significantly alter your net worth. Below that is simply rich, where not working means you become comfortably upper middle class but do need to sell the mansion. Then there's us and I'm not complaining. Interestingly, in terms of power and security, the merely rich have more in common with the 99% than they have with the Romney Rich.
[6] Very cheap game consoles and media devices because all the real costs are shared across multiple devices. 
[7] At which point they inherit the tail-end device or have to help pay for a used iPod Touch ($130 or so now!) while we wait for a new iPhone to trickle down. 

Nexus 7 - what is it good for?

I bought a Nexus 7 four weeks ago, deliberating violating Gordon's Laws of Acquisition. In particular, I wasn't sure what I'd do with it. I took a calculated risk.

Time for a progress report. I haven't figured out how it can help me. It has however, taught me what to look for in a future device.

The biggest issue is that it's a network-centric device that's wifi only. That would make it potentially useful at home, but here I have my iPhone and my computers. At work there's only the corporate network; some of our offices have a BYOD 'guest' wifi network but we don't. I tried it on the corporate network, but it doesn't easily connect to our peculiar VPN protocol (Lion has no problem. I didn't persist because even if I could make it work there was little added benefit).

In theory it works for reading documents, but I've found that drag and dropping over a wired connection doesn't always put docs in places where the reader app can find them.

I could install standalone added value software that doesn't need a net connection, but I already have a computer at work -- and I have my iPhone.

I can't give it to the kids because there are no parental controls - it's a wide open net device. We like to monitor the kids net use.

I'm still playing with it; technically it's impressive. I'm sure I'd have a use if it had a LTE chip, but then it would be significantly more expensive.

I suspect when if/when I get an iPad of some kind, I'll sell the Nexus 7.

Update 9/2/2012: Charlie Stross has the best guide I've seen to worthwhile Android apps. Ironically for me, the best use of the Nexus may be as a Kindle reader. Also, thanks for comments on this post. To clarify: If I had tethering or mifi there's no doubt it would be useful. In the US that hasn't been cost effective for me, but see American MIFI - priced for a limited and shrinking market and Mobile broadband hope: Walmart, TruConnect, Netzero, Sprint, Amazon and why I'm waiting on my next iPhone.

Update 9/17/2012: I sold it to a colleague who will make good use of it. He got a good deal; when I sell things I want the buyer to be delighted. In the end 7 things killed it for me:

  • Jelly Bean has a longstanding bug with 802.11X EAP connections. That meant I couldn't turn it into a word device. I'm sure this will get fixed, but it doesn't work now. It's been broken for a while.
  • It's a network-centric device without built-in cellular connectivity. An iPhone works well when disconnected, the Nexus doesn't.
  • I expected better identity management -- including OS level support of my 3 primary Google identities. There is some identity support, but it's inconsistent and weird.
  • Jelly Bean reminds me very much of Windows 3.1. I have to manage Win 7, OS X and iOS. I don't have time for Windows 3.1. It's very crude compared to the iOS environment (sorry, true).
  • The App Store is weak, but the Play store is even weaker.
  • Android's security issues.
  • I'm not sure in the end that I really need a pad.

The last one means I'll hold off on an iPad purchase for a while. I do most of my reading work on my iPhone, and I like my MacBook Air for portable work. A low end Kindle may make more sense for me, but at this time I'm holding off on all pad purchases.

Calculators are really weird tech, but their time may finally pass

My 8th grader needed a 'scientific calculator'. I looked at the requirements, and it seemed that my 1980s Made in Singapore HP 32SII would work quite well. [1]

Photo 739539

Of course many things from 1980 still work. Pencils, rulers, and notebooks haven't changed much (pens have improved). A computer from 1980 though is a museum piece.

So why is my old HP still better than most of the modern alternatives? (Not to mention it comes with a massive manual.)

It's because calculators are weird tech. They exist because they were perfected decades ago for a set of tasks that haven't changed in centuries. The i41CX+ (HP-41 emulator, vintage 1979) app on my iPhone (below) has more RPN power than the 32SII, but the physical buttons mean the 32SII is a better calculator.

They also exist because schools haven't been able to base their curricula on symbolic math software and spreadsheets. A shoddy but useable modern calculator costs about as much as a set of notebooks -- so it's a reasonable universal requirement.

The time of the calculator, however, may be coming to an end. By next year it's estimated that half of the phones in the world will be full fledged computers. My son's H2O Wireless iPhone 4 (not allowed in school) runs the i41CX+, but it also runs Wolfram Algebra. So does the iPod touch, and the Nexus 7 certainly could. The much heralded iPad Mini will probably debut at $250, but will drop to $200. Eventually, perhaps before I die, some device will make my 1998 "Cereal Box" $20 prediction come true.

See also:

[1] Yeah, he might lose it and they sell for $170 for Amazon. OTOH, it's just sitting in my drawer. I've not used it in years; I have spreadsheets and symbolic math and google math and my i41CX+ emulator. So better it get some use. Also, who's going to steal an old-grody looking RPN calculator than almost nobody knows how to use? Not to mention if someone takes it, it will be kind of obvious.