2021 Prediction #1: Trump will do fine without Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook

I’m no Trumper. This prediction has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with how social media actually works. Following the U.S. Capitol riot of January 6th, President Trump was bumped from nearly all social media, even YouTube, with many of those changes subsequently made permanent. These moves led to speculation that Trump would be hobbled without his beloved accounts, his immediate impact on public discourse muted without the ability to tweet. While this may be true in the very immediate sense, it won’t last. Even Trump, the technical luddite, will figure it out and roar back shortly with or without those accounts.

This prediction is very similar in thinking to a […]

Bob’s 2021 Tech Predictions: What a Difference a Pandemic Makes

This is when I typically generate a list of technology predictions for the coming year. The challenge this year isn’t coming up with predictions, it’s finding a moment of calm to share them when people are most likely to read. With a pandemic rolling along and the nation in political and economic crises to boot, such a moment of clarity isn’t likely to ever arrive, so I’ve decided just to write the damned columns and see what happens.

This is the column in which I’ll review my predictions from 2020 to see how I did and whether it is even worth your while to read further. Having done this for over 20 years, historically […]

The Big Sky is Falling

The history of instrument flight (originally called blind flying) has had three distinct phases. The first began with Elmer Sperry’s Gyro Horizon in the 1920s that allowed skilled pilots to fly through clouds by showing them where was the horizon they couldn’t otherwise see. Race pilot Jimmy Doolittle used Sperry’s gyro and a precision altimeter, a gyro compass and a primitive navigation radio in 1929 to make the first flight entirely “under the hood” with takeoff, flight, and landing all without visual references. That Jimmy Doolittle was one hell of a pilot. But for the purposes of this column what I want to concentrate on is that in this first era of instrument flight the only thing Doolittle had to worry about hitting […]

2020-21 is the asterisk academic year

A few weeks ago I wrote a column about helping our children cope with distance learning as we hide from COVID-19. Since then I’ve watched the progress of my own children — Cole (16) and Fallon (14) are still at home — and I’ve spoken to friends and teachers all over the world. It isn’t going well. In fact, the whole distance learning experience has been a disaster that will ultimately result in this academic year being forever assigned an asterisk to separate it from every other academic year, before or after.

I hope your experience is better, but I doubt that is the case. And the fact that people […]

Tesla won the self-driving car war, they just aren’t telling us

There was a time when I could figure something out, just plain figure it out of raw data, then blurt my conclusions out to the world through this rag just to see what would happen. And what would inevitably happen was a thousand experts would pipe up just to tell me to pipe down, saying that I was too frigging stupid to read, much less write. Except occasionally I got it right (pure luck) so, damn it, they had to keep reading my work. Well I’m back to try again and here it comes: When the history of autonomous cars is written, the winner will be Tesla. Heck, I think they’ve already won.

Autonomous […]