FCT Library Blog


A Robot-Run Society?

John Markoff Is Guest on NPR's Fresh Air, Hosted by Terri Gross.
August 20, 2015

How Close Are We To A Robot-Run Society?

I found this to be a really interesting interview. John Markoff is the technology editor for the New York Times. He is highly informed on the topics of robots, warehouses, etc. What he says about cars may not be what you expect. At the same time, it makes sense with my lifetime of driving experience, both long distance and city. –Carol Bell, Fountainhead Librarian

"From self-driving cars to automated warehouses, humans are being pushed out of the equation. Soon, robots will "do a million other things we can't even conceive of," author John Markoff says."

If humans don't have jobs, how will we be paid? Society will have to figure this out.

Later in this podcast, "TV critic David Bianculli reviews the IFC spoof 'Documentary Now!' and the prequel series 'Fear the Walking Dead.' "

Scroll down the page to find the title. Organized in reverse chronology.




Safety: Kitchen Fire

GREASE FIRE in the Kitchen.

1. Which of these is the WORST thing you can do to try and stop a grease fire on the stovetop, oven, or microwave?

A. Smother it (remove oxygen) with a lid (or another pot, cookie sheet, etc.).

B. Smother it by thoroughly covering burning oil with a dry powder (baking soda).

C. Smother it by pouring water on it.

D. Toss it outside into the yard.

E. Turn the heat source off.

F. Use Fire Extinguisher.

G. Smother it with a wet cloth.

H. Swat at it with a dry towel.

I. If in oven or microwave, smother (remove oxygen) by shutting the door.

2. What are the BEST thing(s) to do for a stovetop fire?

3. What are the BEST thing(s) to do for an oven or microwave fire?


4. What could go wrong with above-mentioned methods, A-I?

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1. What is the WORST thing you can do to stop a small grease fire in the kitchen?

POURING WATER IS THE WORST. Either the water will sink beneath the oil without smothering the flame or, far worse, it will splash, causing the oil to flare up much bigger. It is easy to lose control of the flame this way, burn your kitchen or entire house.


2. What are the BEST thing(s) to do with a STOVETOP FIRE?




3. What are the BEST thing(s) to do with an OVEN or MICROWAVE FIRE?






See F and G for two other effective methods.


4. WHAT COULD GO WRONG with the above-mentioned methods?


A.  Lid does not cover well enough, oxygen still enters the fire.

B.  Insufficient amount of the powder. It must do more than soak up the oil/grease; leave plenty of dry power on top.

  Bicarbonate of (baking) soda is most recommended; salt seems next best. Although some say flour works, others say it will explode and cause a worse fire. (Suggestion: Keep stale refrigerator-deodorizer soda near the stove for this contingency.)

C. The danger of pouring water is explained above.

D. Attempting to get the fiery skillet or pot outside is very foolish. You can burn and scar yourself badly doing this. You can splash it on someone else or drop it and melt your flooring. Even if successful in getting it outside, you might start a grass fire.

E. Turning off the heat source (burner) is essential unless the fire is beyond control and/or you will get burned doing so.

F. NOT JUST ANY FIRE EXTINGUISHER WILL WORK. Some are worse than nothing (contain water). A Class B Dry Chemical (or Class K) extinguisher is/are the recommended types.

  How to use a fire extinguisher and types of extinguishers: http://www.wikihow.com/Use-a-Fire-Extinguisher  With extinguishers, ALWAYS AIM AT THE BASE OF THE FIRE to be effective at actually extinguishing and to not waste content with ineffective use.

The extinguisher was not listed as best above because: (1) it is questionable whether most people will have the correct type, and (2) of this caveat: When you use the Class B extinguisher, you will contaminate your kitchen. However, if you do have one handy, it may be your best option, if you cannot immediately smother the fire out with a lid or baking soda.

G. A WET cloth (kitchen towel, cotton shirt) can block oxygen if there is no dry powder or adequate lid quickly available. But be sure, on the one hand, that it is totally wet so that it doesn't burn, but, on the other hand, that it is also not dripping so as to explode the flame.

H. DO NOT swat at it with a dry towel. This is almost as dangerous as pouring water; you will catch the towel on fire.

I. If in oven or microwave, smother flame (remove oxygen) by shutting the door. The inside will likely be damaged; that is better than the alternatives.




Access Point



Internet Space Crunch

The Internet Is Almost Full

"The internet's fibre systems could reach capacity within the next five years."

"Fear of a capacity crunch stems from a hard physical truth—there is a limit to the amount of information you can cram down any communications channel, fibre-optic cable or copper wire. Discovered in 1940 by Claude Shannon, this limit depends on the channel's bandwidth—the number of frequencies it can transmit—and its signal-to-noise ratio."

The known tricks for forcing more and more along an optical cable have played out. Current research shows that the limit is about 100 terabits per second. That's approximately equivalent to 250 Blue-ray discs.

But, not to worry about using Netflix just yet. People are exploring and developing new tools. One analyzes interference and makes reconstructing the correct signal possible at the receiving end. Another is exploring the tricky process of combining multiple cable cores into a multi-core cable. This is tricky because when travelling distances, the cables must stay straight. Maybe that is not exactly optimal for trans-ocean routes—or even for a few kilometers.

"I don’t see a crisis.” "I've got a lot of faith in the ingenuity of people to keep delivering the goods," said a researcher at the UK firm British Telecom.

From New Scientist, 23 May 2015, p. 20.

This weekly magazine is available in the Student Lounge.

Access Point


"Why I Don't Like to Read" (What? Library Heresy!)

"Why I Don't Like to Read" (What? Library Heresy!)


A confessed former reading addict, life coach, counsellor, workshop leader, and sometimes commedian, J.P. Sears explains his current viewpoints about reading. And he presents some questions for us to think about, questions about how we approach the content of a book and reading in general.

JP Sears cropped














Turing, The Imitation Game


The Imitation Game

Movie about the life of Alan Turing, centering on his invention of the first computer during World War II. Its purpose was to defeat the German Enigma encryption machine, which appeared to be winning the war for the Nazis. Turing, his machine, and his team were successful, immensely so. Turing was a war hero, but to say that he was not treated as one is a deep understatement. Moreover, his efforts were a British state secret for 50 years.

The movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing and Keira Knightley as his loyal colleague and best friend. The acting, directing, screenplay, and technical aspects are A++. Highly Recommended.

Showing at Pinnacle at Turkey Creek, Downtown West, and Carmike 10 on Millertown Pike.

Official trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5CjKEFb-sM




"I Can Hear Wi-Fi"

"Frank Swain has been going deaf since his 20s. Now he has hacked his hearing so that he can hear the sounds of our digital infrastructure."

"Running on a hacked iPhone, the software exploits the inbuilt Wi-Fi sensor to pick up details about nearby fields: router name, signal strength, encryption and distance." Sorting this out was a process of trial and error on a test router, figuring out the meaning of large numbers of variables.

In a large city, any busy street may display "over a hundred independent wireless access points within signal range."

"[D]istant points click and pop like hits on a Geiger counter, while the strongest bleat their network ID in a looped melody. This audio is streamed constantly to a pair of hearing aids…."

Programming hearing aids is difficult in itself. Sorting out background noise from the desirable components makes it a large task. The latest hearing aid models allow the wearer to adjust parameters in real time with a smartphone interface.

The software Frank Swain is using is named Phantom Terrains. Exploring the terrains, they have found what we might expect: low-security routers in residential areas and "highly encrypted routers and a higher bandwidth" in commercial areas.

The author projects: "Headphones that whisper into our ear like discreet advisers may catch on ahead of Google Glass."


The complete article can be found in New Science, in the issue dated November 15-21, 2014, page 19.

This issue is located in the Student Break Room in the white magazine bins. The issue has a blue cover.

You may also be interested in these other articles in this issue:

"Past Notes" – on recreating prehistoric music

"World War R" or "Killing Machines" -- Should we let robots fight in our wars?


Access Point / FCT Library Blog 


Free Online Tutoring

Owl Photo-sm

FREE ONLINE TUTORING is available for Knox County residents via the KC Public Library. All you need is a library card.

Residents of other counties can get a Knox County Library card for $40 per year. 

The tutoring is available for college students, K-12 students, and non students.

To learn more about this program, go to www.tutor.com/TutorTN . The page includes a brief film showing how the service looks to the user. Also see http://tnsos.org/Press/story.php?item=583 at the Tennessee Secretary of State site.

If you already have a library card, you can go any time to the above page, enter the card number, then select the subject (including math, science, writing and history) and level. There is also tutoring for resumes, GED, attaining citizenship, and more. This may be something for you, your school-aged children, and other relatives.

To apply for a new card, go to Knox County Library card number. The direct URL is http://knoxrooms.sirsi.net/rooms/documents/2010-KCPL-Application.pdf .

Tutors are available 3:00 to 10:00 daily. It can be accessed via computers, mobile devices, and at the library.

*This pilot program ends June 30, 2014. However, if considered successful, it will be expanded to all Tennessee students beginning fall term 2014. 

See also the brochure on the library double doors.


FCT Library Blog 

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