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Amazon Prime Air: Drone deliveries

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Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, went on 60 Minutes tonight to describe Amazon Prime Air, a service that flies your Amazon Prime purchases straight to your house with tiny, unmanned helicopters. FAA willing, it will go into operation in 2015. I look forward to a future where petty criminals steal my Cyber Monday deals out of the air with big nets.



Keep Tapping Your Pencil, Asshole

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I used to have a coworker who would tap his pencils. Not while he was thinking, because he was never thinking, but for hours, for fun. These drumstick pencils are just encouraging others like him to continue with their tapping. Tap tap tap tap tap. It’s morse code for “you hate working here.” Tap tap tap.

The only thing worse would be a desk toy that makes drum sounds with a tinny speaker. Of course, such a terrible thing exists, and I hope that your local pencil-drummer doesn’t read this, or he’ll have it overnighted to work so he can play it as soon as possible.



Bitcoin Miners: Burning Coal to Make Pretend Money

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The Block Erupter USB is a little device that mines Bitcoins. Bitcoins are the electronic cryptocurrency which was once used to buy drugs online through the Silk Road, but since the site was revealed to be an FBI/DEA honeypot, it is now solely used for currency speculation. Mining bitcoins is done through a computational method that uses large amounts of electricity and generates large amounts of heat. In fact, if you check out the customer pictures of Block Erupters, owners have set them up in rows with fans blowing on them to keep them from overheating.

The problem with mining bitcoins in late 2013, apart from the fact that you can’t easily exchange them for US dollars (the main exchange, Mt. Gox, had their US-based branch shut down for violations of money laundering laws) is that the computational difficulty of doing so has gone up astronomically. It’s gone up so much, in fact, that the Bitcoins you would be able to mine are far less valuable than the cost of buying the device in the first place.

Of course, the fundamental problem with Bitcoin mining hardware is the obvious: if the devices were profitable, wouldn’t the manufacturers just keep them and use them to mine Bitcoins themselves? You could ask this question to everyone from the makers of the relatively-cheap Block Erupter USB through the $500+ Block Erupter Blade all the way up to Butterfly Labs, maker of a $4,500+ bitcoin miner.

 







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