There’s a proliferation of the term smart, such as “smart things“, “smart home“, and even “smart nation“.  But what makes something smart?  How does a dumb thing become smart?  There’s a lot of confusion and misuse of the word smart when it comes to the Internet of Things.


Since Gavin Newsom walked down the steps of San Francisco City Hall with Larry Ellison three years ago to announce that the 34th America’s Cup would be held in the great city of San Francisco, I’ve been following what would become of this great tradition. Around since 1851, I’m not sure anyone has ever seen match racing like this, nor have they ever seen a comeback the likes of what Oracle Team USA just pulled off.

I keep watching the YouTube videos of the races, the press conferences, the post-race analyses over and over. There were no shortage of issues, mistakes, and controversies during this America’s Cup. But despite all of it, I’m so excited to be a part of it.

With the America’s Cup, there’s a lot to hate. And that’s probably what upsets me the most.

The Google Drive API has a lot of nuances that you only find through implementation. One such nuance is the fact that documents can be accessed through the API or search box that aren’t part of any folder in your Drive. These are called ‘Orphaned Files’.  Orphaned files are particularly concerning because they are often files that you uploaded to Drive and then deleted, but for some reason Google has decided to hold on to them.

If you don’t read anything else in this post, at the time of writing, I advise AGAINST using Google Drive for any documents where you need to ensure the file is deleted securely. This may be for legal, compliance, or privacy reasons. At this time, it just doesn’t seem like all delete/move/etc requests are properly handled. Here’s more details…

When I open Google Drive on one of my accounts, I have one file in “My Drive” that I put there. But when I access the API, there’s 2 files.  Where is this second file? And how do I handle this file with invalid parameters when using the Google Drive API / SDK?


If I know the name of the file and start typing it in the search box, it magically appears.



I spend a lot of time looking at maps. I’ve been called “the human map.” Cartography is one of my interests. Photography is another.

I use Runkeeper when I’m taking photos with my digital SLR, and later match up the GPS tracks to the photos in Lightroom. But every now and then there’s a photo that just doesn’t match up and you’ve got to manually assign it a location. Normally not a problem.

I noticed in August last year that my GPS tracks, when overlaid on Google Maps in Adobe Lightroom, would point to the wrong place on the map. I toggled to the satellite view, and the photo looked like it is in the right place. But you switch back to the map view and its in the wrong place again. What gives?  Notice in the example below, from Chengdu, China, that the park has moved but the “A” location icon stays in the same place. From my GPS data, I could tell that the satellite maps were spot-on, but the road maps weren’t even close.


A quick check of Baidu Maps and Soso Maps (two Chinese companies) revealed that everything was lined up perfectly. Microsoft’s Bing Maps, on the other hand, were so far off as to be completely unusable. I started checking other parts of the world — North Korea, Afghanistan, Russia — and they all lined up without this issue. You can even take a look at Hong Kong, where everything lines up, then move just 100 yards over the border to Shenzhen, China, and things are offset again.

Some investigation reveals that the cartography (the map on the left) has been shifted by a random amount (about 0.025°E,0.025°S in Chengdu, but 0.06°E in Beijing) due to Cold War era Chinese regulations.


I’m about to embark on one of the craziest, insane things I’ve ever decided to do: The Spring 2012 Rickshaw Run across India.

You can track my progress online, and see our updates, at rr.polastre.com.


About a week ago, I realized that I had not posted anything on my Facebook in 2012.  Actually, not true, I did post a Happy New Year message on the 1st, but nothing since.  It got me to thinking: What really is the value that I get from Facebook? And that turned me on to […]


Over the past few years, I’ve been an avid consumer of home-based energy monitoring solutions.  I fit in that 1% of actual consumers that will invest in energy monitoring and management but don’t have any clear ROI.  These are gadgets for these sake of gadgets, but I have a intense curiosity to know what’s actually […]


Oracle has launched a major lawsuit against Google’s Android for infringing upon Sun’s Java IP. As someone who was formerly strong-armed into licensing Java by Sun, I know first hand how seriously Oracle (formerly Sun) took Java IP. They couldn’t figure out any other way to make money from Java, so some lawyers came up […]


To continue in the theme of what the government is doing to make their data centers more efficient, let’s now focus on the state of California. In February of this year, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-03-10 which dictates efficiency goals for the state’s data centers. Similar to EO 13514, the goal is to bring […]


Cisco announced their intention to buy wireless sensor maker Arch Rock.  With this acquisition comes Arch Rock’s technology, a spin out from UC Berkeley.  The technology is around mesh networking, where every device can talk to each other and work collaboratively “bucket brigade style” to deliver data to far away places.  While the technology is […]


While it may seem like a silly obsession, I have been enthralled by the simplistic notion of ice energy storage. I generally subscribe to the KISS principal, and you’d be surprised how often I get in heated debates at work and at conferences about how the best solution is the simplest solution. The whole idea […]


To raise awareness of the impact of IT energy consumption, Friday August 27 is “Power IT Down Day“.  The idea is this — turn off your laptops, desktops, monitors, printers, and anything you’re not using for the weekend. Printers alone are estimated to be 12% of the IT cost in 2012 (8% in 2007).  The […]


In October, 2009, President Obama issued an Executive Order (EO 13514) that set federal energy efficiency standards.  EO 13514 superceeds the previous executive order put in place by President Bush (EO 13423) from 2007.  While the previous order required the government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3% per year, totaling at least a 30% […]