Photo illustration by Jim DeMaria/The New York Times and photo by Ben Margot/Associated Press.
In a recent NY Times article, “Nest Thermostat Glitch Leaves Users in the Cold,” Nick Bilton writes about a recent bug in a ‘smart’ home thermostat that left many (millions?) of customers’ homes very cold on a winter night.
He goes on to explain that this sort of issue “points to a larger problem with so-called smart devices that we are inviting into our lives: Small glitches can cause huge problems.”
He’s right, of course: software will always have bugs, and bugs may have serious consequences.
While there are very serious and nasty potential consequences from faulty software in the connected home (just imagine if your home is hacked the way your credit card can be), what really worries me is the smart car, especially the autonomous, driverless ones being developed and tested now.
Elizabeth D. Herman for The New York Times
Buggy thermostats are one thing. But a buggy or hacked driverless car is quite another thing! Especially one with me in it. John Markoff writes, also in the NY Times, of some of the current issues with autonomous cars: “For Now, Self-Driving Cars Still Need Humans.”
You won’t catch me in one of those any time soon. I know too much about software!
Share of Fuels in the Global Energy Mix Across Modern History
In a recent article in The Atlantic, ‘We Need an Energy Miracle’, Bill Gates (interviewed by James Bennet) talks about his efforts “moving the world beyond fossil fuels and mitigating climate change.”
This chart, showing the mixture of fuels in global energy consumption, is a really clear depiction of the changing sources of energy in modern history.
Laurie Anderson’s new film “Heart of a Dog” is a poignant and beautiful meditation on memory, death, and loss. As always with her work, it is complex, evocative, and wraps many themes and observations on our society up with her personal life, weaving it all together in an immersive sensory experience.
Ostensibly dealing with the death of her dog, Lolabelle, the film’s unmentioned but shadowy overhanging presence is her late husband, Lou Reed.
Manohla Dargis’ review in the NY Times is, as usual, wonderfully eloquent: nyti.ms/1QPPxzV.
The cover of this week’s New Yorker magazine has an illustration by Christoph Neimann just made for the intersection of coffee and technology: newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/cover-story-christoph-niemanns-coffee-break.
“Coffee Break,” Christoph Niemann.
Tom Gauld, NY Times, May 3, 2015
For the rest of this amusing take on the life cycle of the fruits of our technology design labors, see “The Amazing New Thing” strip, by Tom Gauld, in the NY Times Magazine of May 3, 2015: nytimes.com/2015/05/03/magazine/the-amazing-new-thing.html.
HCDE is launching an exciting new course for Autumn 2015: Introduction to Human Centered Design and Engineering (HCDE). See Announcing HCDE 498 for details.
This course introduces the basic principles of HCDE in an engaging, fast paced format that combines a weekly one-hour lecture with a separate two-hour studio section. It is open to all underclass undergraduate students, with no prerequisites.
In a series of weekly, hands-on activities, students will explore application areas for human-centered design and engineering such as health and wellness, personal informatics, social media, and data visualization. Students will practice skills necessary to succeed as a human-centered designer and researcher through activities such as intensive brainstorming and ideation, user research, interaction design, and software/hardware prototyping. They will learn how these techniques are used to understand human needs and interests to design and build engineering solutions to many of the problems our world is facing.
Led by HCDE Professor Jennifer Turns and HCDE Senior Lecturer Andrew Davidson, the course will also feature guest sessions with other HCDE faculty and researchers.
Registration: HCDE 498 — Intro to HCDE (SLN 15459)
I only wish I had seen this wonderful production of “Our Town,” the classic American play by Thornton Wilder, before closing night so that I could have recommended it in time for people to go see it.
It was produced by Strawberry Theatre Workshop, a small, award-winning Seattle theatre company now based in the brand-new arts space on Capitol Hill called 12th Avenue Arts. Almost every one of their recent productions I have seen, including the brilliant “Breaking the Code,” about Alan Turing, has been excellent.
It is no wonder that this Pulitzer Prize winning play, written almost 70 years ago by Wilder, is still one of the most performed plays in America. Its examination of ordinary lives is poignant and still resonates today.
And Wilder’s “form of expressionism that demanded an audience collaborate in the creation of the story without the aid of production elements of any kind” is supremely effective in Strawshop’s modern telling of this American classic.
In the Spring 2015 quarter, I will be offering a DRG to develop a “UCD Charrette” outreach effort to promote HCDE to high school students and teachers. For more details, see Outreach DRG.
I spent the weekend cycling with my friend Jim in Cascade Bike Club‘s annual ride from Seattle to Vancouver, BC: RSVP.
It’s a great trip, on some beautiful Washington and British Columbia rural countryside roads, with some challenging hills (among them Chuckanut Drive along the coast in Whatcom County), crossing a towering and soaring bridge (Golden Ears, spanning the Fraser River outside of Vancouver), and a lovely day in a wonderful destination city.
Some ride stats:
|Total hours en route
|Hours of pedaling
|Hours of pedaling in the rain
|“On your left!“
|Calories consumed in PB&J sandwiches
|Desire to eat another energy bar
|Flat tires, mechanical problems
|Body aches and pains
||none to speak of
|Value of training
|Navigation errors by me
|Consequences of navigation error
||4 very long extra miles (at the end of the first 104)
1 very steep extra hill climb
|Cost to friendship
|Beers at finish line
||just one, but …