Net Neutrality for non-techies

Imagine you live on an island and the only way in and out is a ferry.  The ferry service was privatized years ago but most of the infrastructure was initially supplied by local government.

There have been some attempts to set up competing ferries and a bridge but those attempts have been defeated by lawsuits and lobbying by the ferry company.

The ferry company notices that people use the ferry primarily for shopping.  Some businesses located on the mainland use the ferry to deliver groceries and pizza to the residents of the island. Some of these businesses have been profiled in the news because of their popularity and success.

The ferry company has traditionally charged a fee based on the size and weight of each vehicle.

The ferry company opens a store and restaurant on the island but people mostly like the food delivered from the mainland much much better.

Because of these concerns, the company wants to charge much much more for trucks delivering food to the island.  They have recently delayed some pizza and milk deliveries until the food was no longer edible.  They refuse to publically announce what the new rules will be.

When people confront them about the issue, they state that they are slowing down everyone and just charging some trucks more to get to the front of the line.  The ferry system is great, they added new ships just this last year. There has never been a regulation controlling how the system works and that is what made it so great for all these years. The company is also going to start searching every vehicle before being allowed on the ferry.

“Trust us we know what is good for you and the island!”

GoT Time Lab hints (introduced March 20, 2013)

GoT Time Lab (introduced March 21, 2013)

This is a new feature that is complicated but so far, in my opinion, fairly nice.

Slapped this out quick so people can see it. I will update it as I learn more.


There is a bunch of words below but you will likely be able to figure it out by banging on it for a while without my help.  Read this and comment if you get stuck or have questions or just don’t want to deal with it.  I am sure I am not using the correct terminology either.

I am not currently done with this so some of this could be wrong.

Minor story line reveal: you need to repair a book by completing tasks laid out as wires or a piping system.  There seems to be two paths you can take but I bet that in the end you will need to complete both.


When you go to the time lab you have two tabs.  The “time lab” and the “time mechanism”

time lab

“time mechanism”


The time lab is where your quests are and you need to work through this to get items for the mechanism

They have created several new objects to collect.  These are similar to the time crystals we are familiar with but with some differences.  At first there are pieces of glass you need to collect.  You can get them one of three ways:  buying with gold (no surprise), playing normal scenes (they show up at random just like time crystals do, or playing the special scenes you get access to on the mechanism tab.  You can not get them from friends or request them as far as I can tell.

There are also tokens to collect which look much like the loyalty coins in my limited color vision. But they serve an entirely different purpose. (more on these later).

In the time lab, you click on one of the pages (look like port holes) you have access to and it shows you if you have all the glass fragments you need to complete that part of the quest for that page (which I will call a task).  For example the pagel may require you to collect one yellow and one blue glass fragment if you have at least one of each you can complete the task.  If you have three red and one blue but no yellow you cannot complete the task. however you may be able to complete a task on the other path as the requirements vary.  Each pagemust be completed a set number of times before you can advance through the pageto the next one in line.  Progress is shown in the thermometer in the lower right corner. Each time you complete a task, you get the reward for that task.  For example, the first bottom portal for me earns 3 tokens every time I complete its task up until I have completed it enough times to finish the portal. Note it looks like you might still be able to play this page after you finish it.

It does not require energy to do these tasks so I see no reason not to do them.  Just do your normal scenes and then go on collect the rewards.

A couple of unusual things you should be aware of.  You have to complete the task, ask for the reward, and wait for the timer to expire (but you can go back to your garden and do other work.  A popup will tell you when it is done) then actually go back into the lab and collect the reward.

Some of the buttons are available at times when they are not clickable.  The color will change when they are available.

Time Mechanism: The second tab is an “older version” of the time machine we know and love.  Some differences I have noticed however. In order to travel you must have 10 energy units AND a token.  It takes you to a random scene.  This can be a scene you have seen before, a new scene, or a blitz even (although it is not specified what if anything you are competing with.)  The scenes are much more likely to be in flashlight mode.

You are much more likely to collect glass fragments (and glass petals?) than on a normal scene.   It may not make sense to play the scenes in the mechanism before you need to.  one of the challenges that show up in the garden requires some items to be found in the mechanism scenes. It has a problem like the collection stuff does in that if you get it to early it does not seem to count.

You do quickly run out of tokens however. So far, other than buying them with gold, the only way I know of getting them is as a reward for completing tasks in the time lab


If you have comments, questions, suggestions… please reply below.  Or send me an email at (Got time at remove spaces  from the email address and put GoT in the subject line to make my spam filters happy.

Hope this helps.

Best Video to Introduce Windows 8

This is the best video I have found so far showing how to use Windows 8



End of the world

I was going to write a long article about the end of the world but it would not be finished in time!

Revolution: Its a gas!

Revolution mistakes:  Carbon Dioxide Gas?

Today’s mistake:

In the episode Kashmir, they attempt to sneak into Philadelphia via a subway tunnel.  They step on a landmine which causes the tunnel to collapse behind them.  Shortly thereafter, they start hallucinating.  This is explained as being due to the accumulation of carbon dioxide because the tunnel is now blocked.

There are all sorts of problems with this:

Hallucinations are not a symptom of carbon dioxide poisoning.

Their breathing and use of torches would not deplete the air for weeks

Moving faster would increase the symptoms

They would be dead long before the torches were noticeably affected.


Some rock formations produce natural carbon dioxide.  If the tunnel was being filled by this, the lower levels and pockets in the tunnel would be fatal at all times.  Carbon dioxide is heavier than air so it sinks. They would never have made it out of the water.

If carbon dioxide infiltration was a problem in this tunnel, the builders would have needed to build many venting shafts in the tunnel and sealed it from leaks.  They could not have relied on powered fans because they would have killed everyone in a train in the event of a power failure.

Revolution mistakes: Power Speculations

I just got the chance to watch the episode from the 5th of November, “The Children’s Crusade.”  The previews had led me to believe that we would be finding out the full story of how the power went out.  I had no real hope that that they would tell us everything and I was not surprised.

I have decided to tackle the issue of how the power could have gone off based I where I speculate they are going with this.  Please let me know what your speculations are about the “science” behind the pendants. I am interested in your theories.


They need some method of stopping all electrical devices without draining batteries, allowing them to function again, not affecting the electrochemical processes inside humans and animals.

It cannot eliminate lightning as we could hear that in an early episode.

The process also must not require its own source of energy to run.  If the government collapsed, no one would be secretly maintaining some power plant in area 51.  If they were doing that, they would probably decide to shut it down if they had any idea of the problems they were causing.


Possible methods of power outages:

1)    Much speculation on the internet has centered around a possible Electro Magnetic Pulse:

Also known as an EMP, this was discovered in the early 60s.  When a nuclear bomb is detonated at high altitude, a very large, very high voltage field is generated.  Metal objects can collect some of that energy and convert it back to electricity.  This pulse is very very short but some electrical circuits can be destroyed by this extremely short pulse.  It is possible to generate these pulses using other energy sources but the devices would be huge and would require large amounts of energy.  Problems with this approach include:

a) Common batteries are not affected.

b) Items that do not have transistors are not generally affected.  Flashlights, older cars and electric motors would not be affected

c) The government knows about this and shields military items from its effects.  Also most items which are shielded from the effects of lightning would also not be affected.

c) Items damaged by this effect would never start back up.

d) Spare parts generally would not be affected


2) My guess based on the content of the current episode is anti-superconductivity.

When electricity moves through normal wires, a small amount of electricity is converted to heat.  This wastes some of the power.   Some materials when cooled to extremely low temperatures, allow electricity to flow through them without generating any heat.  These materials are called super conductors.  As you can imagine, people have been working on developing materials which would allow warmer and less expensive materials to be used to transfer electricity.

My speculation is that they will postulate a field that totally stops electrical conductivity in metals.  This would be some sort of super-nonconductivity (or super insulator).  I do not know where you would generate the power to continuously affect the properties of every metal object on the planet.

It could account for much of the effects we have seen so far.  Scientists would discover if this was the case and would discover methods of developing devices that used non-metalic conductors.  Batteries would slowly lose power unless the chemical properties of metals and acids were changed.  If they were changed, scientists would quickly figure out the problem.


Revolution screw ups: Candle power

Before we had light bulbs the world mostly shut down at night. People would quickly go back to that type of schedule.

In an effort to impress us on how much things have changed since the black out, they use lit candles everywhere.  If you have ever been in a real blackout that lasts more than a few hours you know that you want to put out the candles to save them.  They would be a critical resource since paraffin wax is made from oil.  The candles shown so far in the show are almost entirely manufactured candles and are not made of bees wax.

In the bar/card room scene in the second episode, they have more than a dozen candles lit in the daytime.  Some of them are mounted in  chandeliers which have tinted glass in them and would be a pain to reload when the candle burned down. Candels would be kept low to allow easy replacement, blown out during the day, and likely would have foil reflectors behind them to reflect the light. Tinted glass would not be used because it reduces the amount of light.

People would mainly use oil lamps and especially lamps that burn fat.  They would also put them out during the day so as not to waste them.  I would expect 15 years into the blackout that the cost of candle wax would be greater per ounce than gold.  It would be used for medical purposes, sealing and preserving food and other things where substitutes would be harder to find.

We do see kerosene/oil lanterns in various places. These you would see everywhere because fuel could be made locally by distilling coal, wood, and other materials.

Another type of light you would see is gas lamps.  The gas burned is called “Town Gas.” This is an old technology where gas is produced by the heating of coal or wood in a closed container. It was very common prior to the advent of natural gas pipelines.

There is a scene in “The Plague Dogs” where Miles is using a torch for lighting as they travel at night.  No explanation of where he obtained the standard Hollywood manufactured torch.  Looking at the amount of fire coming off the torch you can tell it would only last at most 15 minutes before running out of fuel or burning through the wooden stick handle.

Would a reasonable person do this?  Traveling across country at night with a large lit object which could be seen for miles does not sound like a good idea if you are in hiding.  The light is thrown in all directions so it hurts the night vision of the person carrying the torch.   A lantern made from a discarded can and some wire would work much better.

After 15 years of doing without, these folks would be experts.  We would learn things by watching them.  I expect the writers of the show to spend some time camping or at least thinking before they film the scenes.


Revolution Screw Ups: Two Amulets?

In the pilot as the power is going down, Ben downloads something into a USB device and then plugs that device into the bottom of what I will call an amulet.

Here is a picture of the Amulet while he is plugging it in:

amulet from the pilot

Notice the USB port and how thick it is

Note the slot in the front of the amulet for the USB device.  You would expect to be able to see the seam of the port edges after the device is completely assembled.  I expected people later in the series to notice that it was not just a pendant that it was an electronic device, remove the USB device, etc…

Here is a close up picture of the front of the (an?) amulet from the second episode:

Note that there is no seam for the USB device.

In various later shots in the series we see that the back is smooth and unmarked as well as the edges.

This leads to four possible conclusions:

  1. They messed up again and just did not think we would notice
  2. There will be a second pendant showing up on a later episode that is thicker and has a USB device embedded in it
  3. Ben remade the pendant from scratch, or somehow modified it
  4. It is magic or alien technology…

Since this is the most important prop on the show and based on the lack of attention to continuity* they have shown, I am guessing they just messed up again.

I will update this post if it turns out I am wrong.

* For a definition see:




Revolution screw ups : Stopping in the center of the road

If your car engine dies on the highway you coast to the side of the road so you can get a tow.

When the cars die during the start of the blackout everyone puts on the brakes and stops in the center of the road.

Revolution screw ups : Airplane Spin

In the trailer/pilot, jetliners are shown spinning out of control/crashing.  I have to assume this is because the electronics on the plane have shut down.   If this is the case, why are the running lights on the plane still lit and some of them flashing in the normal manner?

I assume this was done so that we could see the plane crash.  I suspect that they knew this was a problem and decided to add the lights into the graphic because otherwise the audience would loose track of it in the dark sky.

Most airplanes use hydraulics to control the plane.  Except for some Airbus aircraft they are temporarily flyable without electricity.  Landing and some other systems would be a problem, but they would not be out of control before the electricity went out.


Here is an interesting blog post I found that talks about some of the problems in the show.  Warning the language is less than polite: