Geeks at the Wellhead

This morning, one of the now-interminable news items on the oil spill took a look at the Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) that was being used to do all the actual work. The reporter made a good deal of fuss over how difficult the things are to fly, and spent some time with a demo model in a pool, under a professional operator’s supervision.

When he said that it was “like driving a car on ice,” I realized that video-gamers would probably be perfect ROV flyers. Not only does the ROV handle like a brick on skates, but you have only a TV monitor as your main sensor… and gamers have become expert at maneuvering in a virtual 3D world with only a 2D representation and totally screwed-up ballistics.

At the very least, I hope that operator training for these things includes a good many hours at Wolfenstein, Half Life and Descent.

Convince Me

So the inevitable conversation has finally arrived in my household, initiated by an innocent question by email:

I think we should get android phones.
Our phones are useless for anything other than calls, and everyone who has smartphones LOVES them. It really makes me wonder what we’re missing.

Ever the late adopter, I have to wonder whether I’m really missing anything at all… and it occurred to me that my own workplace, heavily populated as it is by smartphone devotees (and not a few outright Apple fangeeks), might be just the place to put such a question. And so I did: Continue reading