I Remember Those Days (Until Christmas)

Sounds like Jeffery Snover’s daughter is eager for Christmas to arrive.  She was wanting to know how many days she had left to wait, so of course he wrote her a PowerShell function so that she could always find out.

I called my daughter over to explain what a wonderful tool PowerShell was.  I explained that if she ever wanted to get the date, all she had to do was to type “Get-Date”.  I then explained how she could cast a string containing a date into a datetime object:  [Datetime]“12/25/2011″ .  She didn’t get that one so I quickly moved on to explain that the reason why that mattered is that PowerShell is … well … powerful and that it does something called “object math”.  Object math (the ability to perform mathematical operations on any object which supports them) made everyone’s life easier because that means you can do things like:
PS> [DateTime]“12/25/2011″ – (Get-Date)

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I can picture this same conversation playing out at my house a few years back, and the solution sounds like something I would do.  The conversation would probably go something like this –

  • One of my kids [Oomk] : Hey dad, how many days until Christmas?
  • Me: I don’t know, let’s figure it out.
  • Oomk: That’s alright, I just thought you might know.
  • Me: No problem, let’s fire up PowerShell and…
  • Oomk: Dad, there’s a calendar right here…
  • Me: …and let’s see, we can do date addition…
  • Oomk: … we can just count, it will only take a minute
  • Me: Yes, but then we will have to count every time, if we take the time to write a function now…


I would love to work on a project like this…


With 400 transistors and standard CMOS manufacturing techniques, a group of MIT researchers have created the first computer chip that mimics the analog, ion-based communication in a synapse between two neurons.

Not So Fast

via Evolving Scientist:

Einstein always said faster-than-light speed travel was impossible.

Recently, neutrinos were clocked as going 64 nanoseconds faster. Understandably, this made everyone flip their damn lids.

The velocity of the neutrinos, within earth’s atmosphere, was measured using GPS satellites higher in the atmosphere. The earth’s rotation and gravitational field has known to cause time dilation, such as slowing down atomic clocks carried in high flying planes.

Calculating out the effect of the difference between the satellites and the neutrinos comes out to almost… 60 nanoseconds.

Which is why I was skeptical when I read the report – because even with good experimentation, something this monumental takes a lot of investigation and verification.

SIRI is no Watson

The iPhone 4S is a nice device, and I’ve had fun using the voice integration with SIRI, but it seems more like beta code than a released product.  If I were the Product Manager for SIRI, I would make several changes –

  • Open Source the answers SIRI gives so that web users and the developers could see common questions that SIRI is asked that it could not answer, and they could build the correct responses for them.
  • Make SIRI handle “No Network” issues better – it seems like some basic functions should work without network access.
  • Give more feedback on why it can’t accomplish certain tasks – why you can’t set certain alerts or launch applications.
  • Make it smarter for reading email – if you can’t handle the amount of email I have, then handle the number of emails you can handle.

iPhone 4S – SIRIously Funnny

This is funny..

Initial reports revealed that Siri’s got answers for just about everything from pop culture queries to math problems. She’s even got an answer to the eternal question, “What is the meaning of life?” that pays homage to Monty Python. But she’s also shown she has a good sense of humor.

When Macworld’s Jason Snell sent a jab Siri’s way by asking her to “open the pod bay doors”, a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the personal assistant responded, “We intelligent agents will never live that down, apparently.”

Snell also threw in another nerdy reference, this time to Douglas Adams’s classic “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” He asked Siri for the answer to “life, the universe and everything,” and she responded, correctly, “42.”

Over at The Loop, Jim Dalrymple expressed his love for Siri, causing her to admonish him, “I hope you don’t say that to those other mobile phones, Jim.” She’s also been known to tell, er, friendly iPhone owners that “All you need is love. And your iPhone.”

Siri has proved that she can think on her feet, as well. When Brian Chen at Wired told Siri, “I’m drunk”, the considerate app offered this advice: “I found a number of cabs fairly close to you.”

Friends, even digital ones, don’t let friends drive drunk.