Google: Are the Smart People Leaving?

There’s a stage in every company’s development when the smart people leave and the company runs on autopilot from then on, in a zombie-like half-life. It happened to Hewlett-Packard when Dr. Hewlett and Dr. Packard passed on; it happened to Apple when Steve Jobs left the first time, and it happened to eBay and PayPal ages ago (as anyone who has ever tried to find an actual human being to help them with a problem knows to their sorrow).

Now I’m wondering if it’s happening to Google. Their “new look” for Gmail is a train wreck. Where did all the emphasis on tiny, faint gray text come from? Is everyone over thirty supposed to find a new mail provider right now? read more...

EU Banning Farm Preventative Antibiotic Use

In one of its more typical fits of bowing to popular prejudice, the EU is banning farm preventative antibiotic use, with the alleged purpose of reducing the threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, though probably they’re mostly just caving into pressure from the “drugs = bad” lobby.

It has always seemed to me that these arguments ignore a basic fact: antibiotics have overused in agriculture for well over 60 years. Starting in the Forties, poultry magazines showed farmers striding manfully towards the poultry house, carrying a five-gallon bucket of antibiotics. Modern technology can do much, but it can never restore the virginity of these aged drugs! read more...

See my New Autism and Diabetes Blog

My 17-year-old autistic son Karl was hospitalized with Type 1 diabetes in July, and I’ve started a blog about what we’re doing about it.

Karen and I are both engineers and are relentless about doing our research, so this ought to be worth following if you or a loved one are diabetic, and especially if it’s a diabetic child or someone in the autistic spectrum.

We’ll be talking about how we adjust Karl’s diet — in spite of his very strong food preferences — and monitor and manage his insulin. We are adjusting his dosage ourselves to keep things under better control than if we waited for a regular doctor’s visit. read more...

Get Your Hens Ready for Winter

Winter is right around the corner, and what does this mean for your chickens?

For me, in the mild Pacific Nortwest climate, only 40 miles from the ocean, winter is not that big a deal, all things considered. The waterers freeze sometimes, and we get snow once or twice a year, but weather that actually bothers the hens? Doesn’t happen.

The rule of thumb is that chickens that can keep dry will keep producing and be in fine health so long as the daytime highs are mostly above freezing, and will stay healthy down to twenty below if they can stay dry and out of the wind. In both cases, of course, they need plenty of feed to keep warm. So for many of us, winter is not an “OMG!” moment, just another thing to deal with. read more...

Unlocking the Plotto Plot Generator

When William Wallace Cook wrote Plotto: A new Method of Plot Suggestion for Writers of Creative Fiction, his introductory chapter made a lot of readers sit up and ask, “Huh?”

So Cook got do work and came up with an instruction booklet in the form of a seven-lesson course on how to use Plotto to help you overcome the thorny task of coming up with plots for short stories and novels.

The original Plotto Instruction Booklet is impossible to find, and I counted myself very lucky when I discovered that the University of Oregon library in Eugene had a copy. A quick round-trip to the Emerald City later, I’ve republished it for the benefit of anyone who has a copy of Plotto. read more...