"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."

Spatial Computing

09:22 Saturday, 10 June 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.67°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 12.66mph

I watched the WWDC thing, ("State of the Union"? "Keynote"? I don't know. The one with Tim Cook and all the videos and the "one more thing.")

Apple has been something of a lightning rod ever since it became an "overnight success." It draws scrutiny and sharp opinions no matter what it does. And there's just something perverse about human nature that causes people to want to hope for successful people or entities to fail, regardless of what they're doing.

I'm not the Apple fanboy I once was, but I do believe that some corporations are more humane, more ethical, than others. That doesn't mean they're perfect, never inhumane, or never unethical; just that if I had to choose between Google, say, or Apple, I'd pick Apple every time.

I think there are unintended, undesirable consequences of our hyper-connected, always online selves. I think the automobile is the worst invention of all time. I think the smart phone has a very good chance of taking its place. I think Apple has at least some self-awareness in that regard. Not enough, perhaps, but it's a corporation with shareholders in a capitalist culture. Short of just voluntarily going out of business, I don't know what people expect.

As regards Apple Vision Pro, I don't think anyone would be smart betting against Apple. I'm impressed by the device. Like everyone else, I'm not sure what I would use it for, but I want one. Same as I did when I bought an Apple ][+ in 1982 or '81, I can never remember.

$3500? Big deal. My iMac, which I bought in 2019 and spec'ed to last me seven years, cost $3700. Yeah, I'm "well-heeled." My iMac will receive it's last OS update with Sonoma, so I'm not sure it's going to technically "last" seven years. I'm sure it'll work for many more years after that, and hopefully Apple will offer security updates for at least a few years. But the price wasn't shocking to me. I hadn't been following the rumor mill, and as Mitzi and I watched the presentation, our guesstimates tended northward. I was guessing $7999 before the big reveal at $3500, so I was impressed.

AR/VR devices are happening. It's not as though the marketplace is going to just collectively decide, "Nah, don't think so." At least, not yet and not for several more years.

If it is going to decide, shouldn't the best possible products make it to market to inform that decision? And what if Samsung or Google built a device almost as good as Apple's, or better? Only, they knew they had something they wanted very badly in that eye-tracking data? At least Apple is putting stake in the ground and letting the market know that this type of information may be valuable, but it should be private.

I'm happy to see Apple enter this space, and move the debate forward. I don't think anyone knows, yet, what this thing may turn out to be. Personally, I'd like to be able to experience far away places without having to fly there.

I saw someone post something about it being a "jackpot" device. A toy for the well-heeled to have a better experience in a degraded world. Well, the world is degrading just fine on its own. And the well-heeled will always have a better experience.

I say kudos to Apple for bringing this thing to market. I'll almost certainly buy one. Will it be a wise purchase? Probably not. The wisest thing I could probably do would be to save all my money and leave it to my kids so they'll have a better chance to survive in a degraded world. And I may choose to do that at some point.

But I'm not there yet.

Unwelcome Suprise

09:14 Saturday, 10 June 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.67°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 12.66mph

I've been a client or patient of Mayo Clinic's Community Internal Medicine department for over twenty years. I haven't been seen since before COVID because, well, COVID. But I had been corresponding with my care team about vaccinations and so on.

Well, I figured it was probably about time to get seen, check how my kidney is doing, get my hide inspected for suspicious moles or lesions and so on. Went to schedule an appointment and discovered I've been dis-enrolled.

With no notice. No warning. Nothing.

Many phone calls, lots of wasted time on hold. It turns out I'm too old. You see, Mayo no longer offers primary care to Medicare patients, Tricare for Life or not.

Very disappointing. Perhaps more so because of the gratuitous telephone messaging about putting "patient care first" while waiting on hold and not receiving a return phone call when one was promised.

So now I have to figure out a primary care solution. Or I can just go without periodic testing and wait until I develop something catastrophic and go to emergency room like most of the rest of America, I guess.

Don't get old, boys and girls. It'll kill ya.

Nothing personal. Just a business decision.

Weekend Update

08:18 Saturday, 10 June 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 74.19°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 3mph

It's been a while.

We went to Kennedy Space Center last weekend for my birthday. Mitzi had made reservations for a lengthy bus tour of the launch complex, so we had to be there by 1100. I was surprised a bit by the amount of traffic heading into the complex, and grateful for a last-minute Apple Maps update that took us by another route and likely improved our position in the line.

After hustling through security and the ticket gate, stopping by the restrooms (line at the women's because, of course) and finding the bus tour we discovered our tour had been cancelled. Briefly, when Mitzi booked the tour, SpaceX wasn't scheduled to launch on the 3rd. Later, I learned that there was a launch scheduled that day, and we wondered if they'd stop the bus so we could get out and watch. We were certain they would.

Well, they didn't have to. Any time there's a launch scheduled, the only bus that runs is the one that takes you out to the Saturn V exhibit. Mitzi had questions about refunds, but we didn't get those answered until we left the park and stopped by guest services. Because she booked the tour through AAA, she still hasn't been refunded, but she's confident she will.

As it happened, the launch was scrubbed.

I was surprised that Kennedy Space Center is mostly like a theme park these days. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it certainly wasn't what I expected. Lots of lines and attractions, lots of people too. I'd say it's great for kids.

I did enjoy it though. The Saturn V exhibit is nearly identical to the one in Huntsville, Alabama. Worth visiting, even if you've seen it before. You get to touch a lunar rock, I passed. It's more like a pebble, and has been touched by thousands of people. I'm sure they have to replace it periodically due to wear.

The difference between Huntsville and KSC is the entrance, which has an attraction that Huntsville doesn't. You queue up in a room that shows slides of 60s cultural icons, then a short film about Kennedy's goal to send men to the moon in a decade. Then you're ushered into a small amphitheater, which has the launch control consoles from the actual Saturn program at the front. Videos play on three screens above it, while audio from the the Apollo 11 mission is played and the consoles light up in sequence with the events, culminating in the display of the liftoff on the three screens accompanied by a very loud soundtrack. It was pretty cool.

The highlight of the visit was the Atlantis exhibit, which is very well done. Same sort of procedure as the Saturn exhibit, although there is no amphitheater, you're standing the whole time and the line was rather lengthy.

I was disappointed that the buses that run out to the Saturn exhibit were all diesel, though there is a large solar farm at the center. I don't think it generates enough power to run the visitors' attractions, but it's fairly substantial. Outside of the base, you may pass rather a significant FPL facility. (Not solar. I'm just commenting because I suspect KSC has rather large power requirements with cryogenic cooling and so on.)

We were staying at a kind of boutique hotel in Cocoa Beach and by then of course we knew SpaceX was doing a StarLink launch on the 4th. We went up on the deck at oh-dark-thirty only to learn it had been delayed. We returned about 0815 and got to see it go up. I only brought a 150mm lens, which was an error.

I thought we'd see the launch on the 3rd from the Space Center, and I knew I'd want to be taking a lot of photos so I debated between carrying the 12-100mm/f4, which is a very sharp but somewhat heavy "pro" lens, or my 14-150mm/f4-f5.6 zoom. I wasn't going to wear the Cotton Carrier G3, so I wanted something light. I removed the RRS tripod plate, mounted the 14-150 and used my sling, thinking I'd be seated much of the time on the bus tour so I wouldn't have any back issues.

I brought along the 12-40 as a backup lens in case the 14-150 failed (It's more than a decade old, a "super-zoom" with internal ribbon cables. It hasn't failed yet, but it had been my most-used lens, so I'm not certain it'll be there when I need it.)

In hindsight, since we were going by car, I should have just loaded my bigger bag with a larger assortment of lenses. I needed something much wider than 12mm on Monday, and 150mm didn't serve me as well as 300mm might have, or 400mm.

As to witnessing a launch from Cocoa Beach, very cool. You can definitely hear it, though several seconds after it actually launches. We did not hear a sonic boom, which was unusual according to the landscaper we spoke to. Perhaps due to atmospheric conditions, I don't know. Visually, it was of course more impressive than what we're used to over 100 miles north, but it was the sound that really made the experience. I can barely imagine what it must have been like when a Saturn V when up, or a Space Shuttle. The SLS is likely equally as impressive.

On the way down, we saw a billboard for a warbird museum, and we looked it up while we were staying at the beach. It's the Valiant Air Command, and they have a large collection of military aircraft, many of which are restored to flying condition. It's in Titusville and well worth visiting if you're in the area. Admission is a bit steep, perhaps, at $22.00, but they do some remarkable work.

The highlight of that visit was the Tico Belle, a WW II C-47 that flew three missions on D-Day, two airborne paratrooper drops and a glider tow. It also flew in nearly every operation subsequent to that, including the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Market Garden (A Bridge Too Far). Later it participated in the Berlin air lift. Then it was transferred to Denmark where it became the official aircraft of the king and queen of Denmark. It was eventually returned to the Air Force and finally ended up with Valiant Air Command.

It still flies today, and participated in relief operations to the Bahamas following a recent hurricane. It's been restored to its D-Day configuration, except a toilet that was installed in the tail for the king and queen is still there. Not sure it's "fit for a king," but it's there. We were able to go aboard and look around.

Of course, we did this on the 6th of June, so I was feeling kind of gooey during the whole thing.

We headed home after that, stopping at Buc-ee's for chopped brisket sandwiches. I watched the WWDC presentation on my phone as we neared home, but that's another post.

Anyway, that's the weekend update.