Monday, July 31, 2017

Oakland has definitely regressed.

One of my favorite chicken and waffles place is in Oakland. So, on the way back from the kite festival we decided to stop there. It's been a couple of years since I've been out there because I just haven't wanted to make a special trip. If I'm going to the city for some reason we try to stop in.

When Mr S. and I started going to Lois the Pie Queen we were kinda nervous, but over the years Oakland had really been improving to where you didn't feel nervous at all. Honestly it was starting to feel almost too gentrified there. And I'm not talking about the fixing up the neighborhood kind of gentrified which was also happening. But, if you are going for chicken and waffles - you want the place to be full of black people. And there were decidedly way too may white people there the last time we went.

To my surprise a tent city had popped up not too far away on the MLK. I'm not even sure if these are really homeless people or just urban campers. The real trolls are more on the Albany/Emerville line and that crap is insane. I'm going to have to start getting video because these people are living in the cloverleafs of freeways and like trolls - under the overpasses. And the amount of garbage they are collecting is stunning. There has been a tent city on the Albany/Emerville/Oakland line for years and I've walked around there and taken photos before - but I would not feel safe doing that now.

It's just really messed up and frustrating. Letting people live on the streets only makes other people think it's not that bad. And really if you are living on the streets in Oakland, maybe Oakland isn't that bad either because when I was a kid - you would never do that shit. You'd wind up dead.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

I'm not sure what to make of this.

This not not a ghost lot. It seems to be filled with Teslas with front end damage. Since Tesla's all look the same to me I can't tell if these are older Tesla's before autopilot. Even still, it seems like a lot of cars with front end damage. There are only about 55 cars. But they are parked on one of those "wework" sites. So...... maybe they are teaching people how to fix them? You wouldn't need that may cars if this was a mechanic school, right? Just one of each type.

Some of the cars had license plates. A couple look like they've never gotten out of the factory plastic. Maybe they were injured in transit. All I know is it looks like they have been there a while.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Berkeley kite festival 2017.

I haven't been to this in a couple of years because I-80 is the last freeway you want to be on. It's gridlocked all the time. But I guess the trick to this thing is get there right as it opens. You can find parking. There aren't tons of people in your shots. It makes everything way better.

Ummmmmmm. Is that sperm?

Friday, July 28, 2017

I wonder what that guy had on his record.

Earlier in the week Mr S. was rear ended. He wasn't injured thankfully. But you can almost see the outline of the other guys license plate numbers in our bumper. And it's dented.

Since my whole excessive speeding ticket I've been really aware of the point system. The guy who hit Mr S. only dented the bumper we didn't want to ding his insurance. It's just a bumper - how much could it cost? I did talk to my insurance company and they said anything over a grand would go on his record. Anything under wouldn't.

So we got an estimate and it turned out to be 2600 bucks! This is on a tiny Pontiac Solstice that's like 10 years old. It's the beater commute car. The guy who hit him was also in a beater truck and he lived in Danville! (which for everyone outside of the Bay Area is a super rich city)

Anyway - you can not believe how much bumpers cost these days.  You think it's going to be like 500 bucks. But you pretty much can't get a new bumper without having to go through insurance. Most of them cost at least a grand to replace. It's crazy. We were sure that he was just going to have us turn it in to insurance.

We told the guy we were happy to take the car to any garage he chose so he could have his own estimate. I mean, we are going above to not screw the guy. It was just an accident. You just hope some day someone pays it forward. No one was trying to be a dick about the whole thing. So why not give the guy a break? No one needs an at fault accident on their record.

I guess the guy has decided to pay out of pocket. We deducted some money for paint because it is a beater commute car. But what kind of crap does he have on his record that he pays 2 grand out of pocket when both cars were total beaters?

All I know is that this has been the most amicable accident I have ever seen. People always get shitty.
Techcrunch wrote a really accurate article about robots called The real cost of robotics.

It's a year old, but I can assure you - robotics don't improve that fast.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yep.... bubbly.

"It just seems like, it doesn't matter what job you have, there's always some robot out there about to take it," he said. "I think people are worried, and they want to buy tech, because they feel like they're taking part [in] the thing that's threatening them. So there is this deep emotional fear which is increasing, which is having the effect of pushing up prices for now. 

This fear is "substantially driving the market," he said." Source. 

According to Robert Schiller people are bidding up tech stocks because they think robots are going to kill them or put them out of work. Not fundamentals. Fear.

It's the best case I've seen for calling this a bubble.

For what it's worth I generally don't like Schiller. Just because he got one thing right doesn't mean he's right about other stuff.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

I'm starting to think these articles are clickbait.

Meet Tally: The Grocery Stocking Robot About To Eradicate 1,000's Of Minimum Wage Jobs.

I really get frustrated every time I read one of these articles. People all of a sudden think robots and A.I. is this magical thing that is lurking right behind them. I personally think that we are in a robot and A.I. bubble. That's right. Bubble. 

Will robotics take "some" jobs?  Sure. But people think this is coming faster than it is and the bloggers are just creating fake news.

For example - OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) rolled out one of these types of bots along with Lowes getting close to a year ago, and do you know how many of these I've seen in real life at the store? ZERO point ZERO.

These things are freaking novel when you first see them. But even every single conference I go to has one of them at their conference centers or hotels. They are always sitting idle. Robots don't always do things better than humans. That is just bullshit. People don't fully understand how complicated this technology is and so they just freak out.

I had TWO robotics lawn mowers and frankly I want to dedicate them the technology museum. I mow the lawn the old fashion way.

These articles are literally written by people who have never seen one of these in real life or interacted with one. And as someone who has - these stories are hype! Robots are generally SLOW. Everyone can do stuff faster than a typical robot. For grocery stocking - I bet not being quick kills this.
Gadget blogs have to be tearing their hair out for content. This is the slowest I've seen it in the Valley in like - forever.

Silly rabbits.

It was a woolly ride, but three wild rabbits managed to escape rising floodwaters in New Zealand by clambering aboard sheep and surfing to safety on their backs . Source.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

These people are conning you for their own purposes.

Elon Musk says - A.I. is going to kill us all.

Zuckerberg says - shut up bruh -  my whole business is built on spying on peoples habits. (essentially algorithms/ A.I)

I think the truth is somewhere in the middle. Listen, I've been covering robotics for longer than I care to admit at this point. This whole blog was started and was initially dedicated to robotics. It's in the title! And do you see how many times I post about this now? Almost never. And it isn't because I've become less interested or that I don't see robots all the freaking time, it's because there just isn't anything interesting. Even with the advent of A.I. For along as they've been working on this, the whole thing is actually quite disappointing to be honest.  

All of the billionaires talking about this right now are big government types. So they are going to be on the side of government regulating the shit out of things because they know they are rich enough to get past it. On one hand they encourage government to squeeze people so they can barely make it. Then in a last ditch reaction businesses deploy automation to stay alive and then these assholes scream about how robots are going to kill us all. They are playing on your irrational fears.

For example - everyone freaks out about how the Tesla plant is filled with nothing but robots. Right? Do you know how many "people" Tesla employs right now? 30,000. By that standard Musk is doing a really shitty job. That is one person for every freaking car they sell each quarter! So many people in fact that there is a Instagram page dedicated to the mad max nature of their parking lot.

I will believe that A.I. is going to kill us all when I never have to use a phone tree again. That will be the true test of A.I. Not burger flipping. Phone trees have been around for decades now. People in general are overly optimistic about product cycles. And this is a long tail cycle.

Monday, July 24, 2017

When they have nothing left sell - you become the product.

We are basically living through a time of product fascism. And I don't use that word lightly because when most people do - I roll my eyes. But hear me out.

You see, last night as Mr S. was trying to convince me to buy Lightroom for my Mac - I was like no. I don't want to store my images in the cloud. What happens when the cloud doesn't like you anymore? And it turned out to be worse than that. I guess Lightroom is now a subscription/cloud service now, so if you don't pay them every month you stop being able to access your account.

Gone are the days where you buy a product and it's yours to keep. Now....... you don't technically own anything. Right? You only slightly own a bit of that product. Like a timeshare. Making it so you have very little control over the products you buy. Constantly keeping you on a chain.

So when I read this story about Robot this morning just really queebed me out. I guess iRobot is going to start selling the data it collects from mapping your rooms. Which I'm not completely sure how that is interesting to other companies. But who cares? Irobot is no longer interested in selling you products. They are interested in selling you as a product.

"Angle said iRobot would not sell data without its customers' permission, but he expressed confidence most would give their consent in order to access the smart-home functions." Source.

And anyway - I'm sure this is a flat out lie. Because in product fascism they tell you one thing, and they do another. These are the things that can only happen in a very weak economy. (I hope)

Maybe we made animals extinct because they were just assholes.

"More than 200 sheep have plunged to their deaths in the Pyrenees while apparently trying to escape a brown bear. The bears have been reintroduced to the mountain region over the past three decades after being wiped out by hunters." Source.

I've also been reading about whales harassing fishing ships in Alaska.

"A report this week in the Alaska Dispatch News outlined instances of aggressive orcas harassing boats relentlessly — even refusing to leave after a desperate skipper cut the engine and drifted silently for 18 hours." Source.

Then there is this from San Diego from a couple of years ago.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Last of the ghost lots. ( I think )

It's been hot and I've been bored. So I got that last ghost lot I knew about today. I was pretty confused about this lot because it had a little of everything. New Acuras and Mini's.

It had some Lexus's that had actual license plates on. So I wasn't completely sure this was an overfill lot at first.

There is a truck back there and a Chevy Camero.

Oh, and I can't forget the Audi's. It has so many different car breeds it has to be communal storage.

Then I noticed they were storing some cars on this Storage lot on the same block.

At first nothing sinister there.

But if you zoom in you can see there are new cars on this lot.

And the mystery of the cars with license plates is explained. They are probably certified used cars. Cars with that stripe on the top of the front window are certified used. And while there are not that many. Why would they use a public storage place to store used cars?

The sign above says Acura Stop Sale. Yet some cars in that lot also still have the plastic protective coating that comes from the factory.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ghost car busters.

If there's something strange in your neighborhood. Who you gonna call? Ghost car busters!

I made it out to that lot in Newark today. It has Jeeps and Dodges. Thanks DF! I have to say that if I'd seen this lot before the others I would have just thought this was merely weird. It's the least terrifying lot I've seen. There were maybe 200 cars there. They are about 20 deep, and maybe ten/fifteen rows. The other lots have at least 500 cars. The one in the East Bay could easily have between 500 and 1000 cars.

It's completely open. I could have walked right into the lot. And they still had some empty space. But I have never seen car companies do this before.  If this is happening in the cities I hate to imagine what it looks like inland.  I would have thought they'd hide them in places like Stockton.

Mr S. wondered if any of these cars are manufactured in the US. Maybe political pressure is causing this.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

You mean in prisons we get to remodel kitchens!

When Does A Home Become A Prison?.

“Existing homeowners are increasingly financially imprisoned in their own home by their historically low mortgage rate. It makes choosing a kitchen renovation seem more appealing than moving.”

I wasn't going to post anything today because... meh. Then this article came across and I had to just laugh to myself and say who ever wrote this article is such a fool.

I can't even believe someone would write such an article after so many years of saying owning a house was a chumps game. And all the cool kids were out having "experiences" with all of that sweet, sweet money they saved from renting.

Well, we all buckled down and got a super low rates and now we can afford to do all the shit we couldn't before because we aren't paying as much interest. How is that renting going? If this guy thinks that is a prison.... all I can do is laugh and laugh and laugh.

What a hardship when the only thing you can do besides move is remodeling a kitchen or bath. It's positively inhuman. Worst prison Eva.

Such first world problems with all that extra disposable cash.  Those prisoners are going to have the best retirement ever. I can't wait to see the articles that come from now on because there is going to be a lot of butthurteddness going forward. In Oakland, hundreds of people are showing up to open houses.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This is complete insanitity - more ghost cars.

An intrepid reader brought this to my attention. It's in the East Bay and is full of Lexus's.  Since I live somewhat close to this area I knew about this lot. It's been building for a really long time now. I'd say six months. But while I was out there there the gardeners were working. So I asked them how long these cars had been building up. They said years, but I don't think it's been quite that long. Maybe a year.

They've been out there so long that the protective plastic is falling off the cars. And they are super dirty. Some still have the plastic on the seats.

I'm starting to think the feedback loop is the same as during the housing crisis. If they lower prices, then everyone has to lower prices. And from history it seems like they would rather go out of business than do that.

The sad thing is I ran across two other overflow lots trying to get these shots but I couldn't find a place to park so I'm going to have to do a pickup trip to get them. There are enough cars here I could have done a video, but I was by myself.