Selecting Tax Software, 2017 (Tax year 2016):
Do you need to file a State income tax?
- Yes: TurboTax Deluxe
- No: TurboTax Deluxe
Selecting Tax Software, 2018 (Tax year 2017):
- Pick a Kanji pictogram
- Convert it to ancient Chinese
- Speak it in hushed whispers to Cthulhu
- Cthulhu will, in turn, flash a gang sign to the ancient Egyptians
- The ancient Egyptians randomly pick a hieroglyph
- The hieroglyph has nothing to do with anything
- Pick some TurboTax edition at random
- Pay $30 more than you planned.
In movies, we often see technology myths that get repeated and propagated until they become “common knowledge”.
The technology of bombs and bomb-diffusal is no different.
Please note: This has NOTHING to do with pizza coupons nor discount codes. If you want pizza coupons, click here.
Every now and then, I run across the Geek Code, a compact notation for sharing basic profile and personality information.
I recently ran across this again, while looking for something else, and it inspired me to answer these questions:
- Could you define a compact yet robust notation for ordering a pizza?
- Could you order any pizza within an 80-character text message?
- Could you manage a single order with multiple pizzas within an 80-character text message?
Let’s find out…
(Credit to my son, Morgon)
The Next Indiana Jones Movies
- (Raiders of the Lost Ark) Supernatural artifact from God
- (Temple of Doom) Set of supernatural artifacts related to an ancient religion
- (Last Crusade) The most famous supernatural artifact, related to King Arthur, the Knights Templar, and the Crusades
- (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) Supernatural artifact related to Aliens
- PREDICTION: Supernatural artifact related to time travel
- PREDICTION: Star Wars Cross-over
The Danger of Artificial Intelligence
AI Done Properly:
“I know that you have selected several items colored red when buying things online. Therefore, I assume that your favorite color is red, and I automatically selected the color red when you asked me to purchase new curtains”
AI Done Poorly:
“I know that you have selected several items colored red when buying things online. Therefore, I murdered 200 people because blood is also red.”
The Coffee-Muffin Death Spiral
Step 1: Mmmmm this nice, warm muffin is delicious. You know? This would go GREAT with a cup of coffee…
Step 2: Obtain coffee.
Step 3: Finish muffin.
Step 4: This is great coffee… it sure would go PERFECTLY with a nice, warm muffin…
Step 5: Obtain muffin.
Step 6: Finish coffee.
Step 7: Repeat Step 1.
MacGyver was a 1980’s TV action hero, known for being able to quickly apply his extensive math / science / engineering skills in order to save the day.
MacGyver always carried standard gear on his person that included his iconic Swiss Army knife, duct tape, paper clips, and chewing gum. In every episode, he employed creativity, his gear, and science to re-purpose common items in order to build a machine or otherwise develop a solution for some major problem.
Fast forward to fall 2016 – CBS is about to release a modern reboot.
What skills and technology would a “modern” MacGyver employ?
(Note – this is being written without any advanced knowledge of the reboot, except, having seen the trailer)
Read on, to find out.
Craptangle (noun): An irregular, open, geometric curve, formed primarily by bad planning.
Lighting The Griswold House
In National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation”, Clark famously went way overboard decorating his house.
When the lights are turned on, we see the neighbors being blinded, and someone at the power company flips an “Auxiliary” switch as klaxons sound, indicating an emergency condition, necessitating the extra power.
Edit: Originally, I based the number of strands on the common number of C7 bulbs per strand that you can buy today, which is 25 bulbs per strand. In the movie, Clark mentions that he used 250 strands of lights, meaning that each strand has 100 lights, so I’ve edited my first bullet point, accordingly.
Further, I’ve seen some other websites that performed the calculation based on miniature lights – these are what we think of today as “normal” Christmas lights, that come in strands of 100, use a plug type connector, and consume about 1/2 watt per bulb.
In the movie, you can clearly see that the bulbs in question are the much larger C7 or C9 incandescent bulbs – C7 is about 5 watts per bulb, while C9 is about 7 watts per bulb. I saw one website that performed the calculation using C9, but I’m sticking to my original guess that these are C7 – a very popular option at the time the movie was made. The numbers for C7 and C9 are very similar.
Based on Ellen’s comment about there being 25,000 lights, Clark’s comment that he used 250 strands, and assuming they are C7 incandescent lights, we can extrapolate a few statistics about the Griswolds’ Christmas lights:
- Today, C7 lights are less common, and come in strands of 25. If he were decorating his house today, he might need 1,000 strands @ 25 lights each, rather than 250 strands @ 100 lights per strand.
- C7 lights each consume about 5 Watts of power, thus all of the bulbs, lit at once, would consume about 125,000 Watts, or 125 kiloWatts.
- At a nominal rate of 6 cents per kWh (killoWatt-hour), every 1000 Watts of power costs 6 cents to run for 1 hour. Clark’s lights would cost $7.50 per hour to run. Assuming he runs them for about 6 hours per night – from around dusk until around midnight – it would cost $45 per night to run them. If he leaves them up for two weeks, the total electrical cost would be around $630.
- At 110 volts and 125 kw, the current would be about 1,136 Amps. Most houses have a 200 Amp main, and most household circuits can handle only 15 Amps. Your clothes dryer and air conditioner might each require 30 Amps, running on a special circuit that can handle the extra power.
- Spaced 1 foot apart, the total length would be 25,000 feet, or 4.7 miles. That’s 4 miles, 3,880 feet of lights.
- Rolled in to a ball, it would be about 34 inches (just under 3 feet) in diameter, with an internal volume of about 12 cubic feet, and would weigh slightly less than 1,000 pounds.
In the movie, Back to the Future II, Marty, Doc, and Jennifer travel to October 21, 2015 from the year 1985. Although the movie immediately follows events at the end of the original Back to the Future, the movie itself was actually released in 1989.
The future tech in BTTF II, therefore represents a 26 year guess in to the future.
As of this writing, we just passed BTTF Day, so the future is now. Let’s see how the writers did, predicting future tech.