Recent Articles By John Martellaro [RSS]

Fundamental Units of Measure: Furlongs, Fortnight and Firkin

· · Cool Stuff Found

In older times, graduate students in physics and engineering spoke fondly of a unit of speed called furlongs per fortnight. (About a sixth of a mm per second.) Recently, I discovered that there really is a formalized (but playful and humorous) system, like the metric system, called the FFF system. The unit of mass is the firkin, time is the fortnight, and distance is the furlong. Many other derived units, sans electric charge, can be derived from these basic FFF units.  As Mr. Spock would say: “Fascinating.” (I propose the unit of electric charge be called the frakkin.) Homework assignment: calculate the speed of light in the FFF system.

Fundamental Units of Measure: Furlongs, Fortnight and Firkin

TMO Background Mode Interview with Technical Journalist Dr. Gina Smith

· · Background Mode Podcast

Gina Smith on Background Mode.

Dr. Gina Smith is a technical journalist and author. She’s well-known for her biography of Steve Wozniak: iWOZ: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It which was a New York Times bestseller. And she’s written several other science books. She is also a former correspondent for several ABC News shows including Good Morning America. Gina also hosted a nationally syndicated talk radio show with co-host Leo Laporte for more than a decade. Recently, she earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. We talked about her career which started in chemistry, how she was mentored and evolved as a tech journalist, the writing of the iWoz book, and what she disliked most about TV news. She also told me the famous “Gil Amelio” story which you don’t want to miss.

TMO Background Mode Encore #2 Interview with Science Communicator Dr. Kiki Sanford

· · Background Mode Podcast

Dr. Kiki Sanford on Background Mode

Dr. Kiki Sanford is a neurophysiologist with a Ph.D from U.C. Davis. She’s a popular science communicator and creator of This Week in Science (TWIS) podcast and radio show. This is her third appearance on Background Mode. In this episode, Kiki and I once again get geeky with science: an in-depth discussion of 1) Whether it’s a bad idea for our AI agents to have human names, 2) How attitudes about some science affects all science budgeting, 3) The wholistic system effects of climate change, 4) A fascinating discussion about the human microbiome and how the digestion of key nutrients affects whole body health and 5) How astronomers use Pulsars to detect gravitational waves. Kiki has a special way of inspiring one to learn about … everything, so don’t miss this very special guest.

TMO Background Mode Interview with Ecovacs Head of Marketing Christopher Caen

· · Background Mode Podcast

Christopher Caen on Background Mode

Christopher Caen is the Head of Marketing at Ecovacs Robotics, a company well know for its robotic vacuum cleaners and window cleaners. Christopher has a balanced academic background, being both accomplished in English as well as computer science. His first job was as an summer intern at Atari where he worked in marketing, something that immediately appealed to him. Later, at Paramount, he co-founded the Paramount Technology Group which developed interactive programming and games. Christopher’s career-long expertise in marketing took him to Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Informix and NEC. We talked a lot about internet of things (IoT), modern security practices, and how modern IoT products create a business model that requires a new understanding of and relationship to the customer. If you’re interested in robotics and IoT, this is a must listen.