The Pace of Genomics Learning. Rob Carlson revisits and updates his charts on gene sequencing learning curves. Carlson is commendably modest about this effort: "I have cautioned both the private sector and governments from attempting to use this data to forecast trends." However, that's overlooking a collateral benefit of well-defined learning curves such as Moore's Law: They serve as a synchronizing vision among current and potential creators and users of a technology. Users start working on applications in advance of economic feasibility, with a fair amount of comfort that time will fix that problem. Innovators and infrastructure creators on the sell side proceed with greater confidence that new demand will appear to reward their efforts in reducing costs. Carlson uses a 'Thousand Dollar Genome' as a way to think about the possible consequences and limits of demand. While that's undoubtedly useful, it has some risk of falling into the 'Who needs an IBM machine in their home?' trap from the computing world. Make the technology cheap enough, and all sorts of uses pop up that defy the original idea of how it should be packaged. (Note Carlson also has some interesting but less well established curves for gene synthesis. Well worth watching for futurists and would-be biotech investors.
WiFi not so fine. A lot of the Bay Area's attempts to turn 802.11 into a metro access solution are shutting down. WiFi's ubiquity and consequent low costs got a lot of people, from engineers to investors to city councils, excited about the possibility of bending it to a use for which it was never designed. While I've seen some ingenuous attempts at things like meshing and remote management, the crux of the matter seems to be operations, which is often overlooked by those who've never run a network. Earthlink, at any rate, has been finding out the hard way that running an outdoor WiFi access network is a bit tougher than remotely managing racks of modems in Telco central offices. (Via Jeff Nolan.)
California ablaze. It's a tragedy for those caught up in the wildfires, but it can also make for some stunning photography.
You say you'd prefer a somewhat damper location? In the Navy.... Those waves are breaking over the equivalent of a six story building.
The Science of Scotch. The New York Academy of Sciences hosts a podcast with the brew master of Laphroig, one of my favorite tipples. Turns out the flavor is due in part to ancient seaweed. Here's some music to go with your wee drop.