What’s shaking?

Quill is a feather short of a full pen.

Quill is a feather short of a full pen.

Wandering around the Innertubes this morning I stumbled across a Slate piece about how the first story on Monday’s earthquake in Los Angeles was written by a robot — specifically, an algorithm called “Quakebot.”

Quakebot isn’t exactly H.L. Machina. It’s merely intended to “get the basic information out,” says journo-programmer Ken Schwencke of the Los Angeles Times.

And bits of electronica pumping out the news isn’t exactly … well, news. Outfits like Narrative Science have been cranking out sports stories for years now.

There may be a few bugs yet. For example, Narrative Science’s Quill may or may not know the preferred spelling for “judgment.” But chances are a harried reporter or editor might miss that one, too. Somebody at Narrative Science certainly did.

However, for first word on some item that doesn’t require the immediate attention of a MeatBot — an earthquake, a ballgame, where (or if) Andy Schleck placed in a bike race — it sounds like just the ticket for cash-strapped publishers trying to get a hammerlock on the cost of that notoriously hard-to-control human element.

They’ll probably have to keep relying on us for snark, though. For a little while yet, anyway. Beep.

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34 Responses to “What’s shaking?”

  1. Steve O Says:

    Watson (the IBM machine that played Jeopardy) told a quip or two. And Siri has a few canned jokes. But those are just scripts, showing about the same level of cognitive processing as a Jay Leno monologue.

    Gotta figure it’s inevitable though, yeah?

  2. Pat O'Brien Says:

    I get my earthquake reports from the same place Quakebot does, the USGS. I assume the the Quakebot report was generated as a post on the LAT website. So the question is, why go there when you can go to the source?

    Andy who?

    Just peddled around town today with no particular destination. 17 miles of rambling on the SOMA ES. I do need some bigger tires for it though. The roads around here are getting a little rougher as the chip separates from the seal.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Pat, have you ever tried the Schwalbe Little Ben? I have a set on my Soma Double Cross and like ’em quite a bit.

      No riding here, alas. The wind is blowing at 32/47 mph, with either light snow or heavy pollen. We just had to finish the job of pulling up landscaping cloth that the breeze started, as our landscaper doesn’t appear to be getting out of the hoosegow anytime soon.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        No I haven’t. Thanks for the tip. I am currently using Schwalbe Marathon HS420 in 700×25. I should have known better. I was thinking of going to 700×28 of the same tire, or taking MJ’s advice and trying the Conti Hard Shell in 700×28. I really don’t want to go to 32 or 35 on the ES, just on the Saga.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        After I read my comment, I wonder if I am missing something. I built the ES as a strictly road bike. No plans for racks or anything other than a seat bag. Won’t a 700×32 or 35 or bigger turn my ES into a slug?

      • James Says:

        POB, if you like the Schwalbe, I have been riding a few pairs of the Durano (folding and wire bead) in 700×28 on my Orange_Ventana CX bike. Love, love, love them for any type of pave – chip/seal, fresh rubberized asphalt, hardpack, etc. – up to, and including dirt. The exact model escapes me but they have some light (for Schwalbe) armoring under the tread and are durable. A bit heavier than I would prefer but then again so am I.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        The Panaracer Pasela TG folding models are good, too. And lately the wiseguys are saying that bigger is better as far as tires are concerned. Me, 28mm is as small as I go; 35mm is probably the average, with some big ol’ honkin’ 43mm Bruce Gordon Rock n’ Roads on the Voodoo Nakisi.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I like the Pasela TG folding tires. Right now they (700-32) are not mounted as it is winter and the spare wheelset has 700-45 offroad tires mounted in case it snows, but they fit well on the Salsa Delgado Cross hoops and roll nice. The Little Bens look nice in that photo.

    • Larry T. Says:

      PO’B, you might check out some of these too
      they’re far from cheap, but they ride oh-so-good.
      I have their Parigi-Roubaix’s on my winter bike and a set of Strada’s on my Mondonico road bike – they’re the fattest things that’ll fit on it.
      Warning: like bed sheets, the higher the thread count, the better and once you ride on these it’s very hard to go back to machine-made, vulcanized, wire-beaded rubber.
      No road riding here either – another exciting session on the trainer trying to burn off some of the road food from the NAHBS trip. After a trip like this I’m not surprised that so many Americans are obese, it’s darn hard to find anything not fried or otherwise full of salt, sugar and fat when you can’t cook for yourself.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Someone was recently talking up the Clements to me, Larry. You ever give any of them a workout?

        Good seeing you in Charlotte, by the way. Mr. Deme reports something like a 12-hour trip back to Missoula and a slow St. Paddy’s Day at the pub.

      • Steve O Says:

        // After a trip like this I’m not surprised that so many Americans are obese, it’s darn hard to find anything not fried or otherwise full of salt, sugar and fat when you can’t cook for yourself.//

        The latest “news” is that agave syrup might have some properties that fight diabetes and help you lose weight. But I’m thinking there’s no way you can tell amercans that more sugar is good for you without everyone going overboard.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Someone pointed out how Americans are obsessed with finding something they can EAT that will somehow make them lose weight. I don’t think that’s the answer for some reason.

        PO’G the pleasure was all mine. Meeting you guys made the trek out to Charlotte worth the time and expense. Bikes are pretty, but in the bike world, the PEOPLE are far more interesting. The CycleItalia blog will soon have a post on the people now that I’ve gotten the bikes post out-of-the-way.

        I have not tried any Clement tires as of yet, the 120 tpi model with the classic brown sidewall looks rather interesting. Odd that they have the Clement name, while Challenge has the molds, tread patterns and factory from the famous brand.
        I like Vittoria’s handmade clinchers too – years ago I decided that my cycling life is too short to waste riding cheap, harsh-riding tires on ANY bike, so the expensive, high tpi, handmade stuff is worth the extra cost.

      • khal spencer Says:

        The Vittoria Open Pro tires are above and beyond anything else I’ve tried. Having said that, they are not mounted on my weekday commuter bikes. At well over a hundred bucks a pair, I save them for the weekend.

  3. khal spencer Says:

    Newest invention. Snarkbot.

  4. Weaksides Says:

    Well you’ll be pleased to know you got out of nc in the nick of time Patrick and Larry. Yesterday and today were rainy/sleety with the temp sticking at 32. It very nearly made my first trip out of the house to outpatient pt a trip to the er instead. Luckily I didn’t fall and made my appointment safely. ‘Twas close for a second though.

    No riding here either, naturally.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Hey, Weaksides … glad to hear you stayed upright and made it to PT OK. Looks like spring is taking its sweet time about making an appearance there and here. We’re into screwball-weather mode, bouncing back and forth between sunny and soggy, with a side of tree pollen. Blaugh.

    • Larry T. Says:

      Thanks! Great to hear you’re making progress. I hope the progress against the bozo who caused the whole mess is going as well.

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        You’d cry the most Larry. My bike was a 2008 De Rosa Neo Primato in Molteni Orange with Campy Record 10 speed with carbon cranks. The driver did have a license and insurance (unlike the guy that hit me in 2003) and I have a lawyer that rides on the case. At this point I’m more pissed at the highway patrolman than the driver. He apparently threw away my rear wheel- that’s right Larry…a Record hub with a Record cassette. Obviously I have no idea if either were salvageable, but it would have been nice to decide for myself.

        First follow-up went well today. The walking technique I learned in rehab has to go, because the ortho thinks it’s too much on my hip; but my collarbone seems to be well enough to also use to support me with a regular walker- rather than the hemi-walker I’ve been using. Luckily I can get one from my sister in a couple days. Meanwhile, I’m putting around in a small wheelchair. It’s a good thing I stocked up on beer the day before the wreck.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Ouch. As the man said, “Flesh heals, Campy doesn’t.”

        Last time I got hit it was on a 10-day-old 1989 Specialized Allez Epic lugged carbon frame. Destroyed it, of course; I, happily, escaped unscathed.

        As in your case, the driver had insurance — she also felt responsible, which she was — and I got a new bike out of her husband.

      • Larry T. Says:

        AGGGHHH! Talk about adding insult to injury! I hope they buy you a DeRosa for every day of the week. What is it about highway patrol guys? Threw your rear wheel away? I remember when the wife was hit by the boat years ago – when the cop finally showed up, his first words were “Well, I wouldn’t ride a bicycle on this road” Amazingly, in this case she was banged up, but her bike had not a scratch on it.

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        Yeah, I just found out how rare that frame was. Apparently the Molteni paint job was a custom order only. Fuck! Oh that bike road sooooo sweet! I’ve kept a custom made ti frame on ice for several years now, because I had that De Rosa to ride. And I promise you the ti bike is no shitty frame by any stretch. Regardless, my friend with the bike shop is pricing the frame around 3 grand.

        Yeah, I made the trooper a little sick when I told him about the hub and cassette. Unfortunately that won’t bring them back.

        He peeved me a bit when I spoke with him today; because he’s still not assigning blame to the driver, because the driver says he didn’t see me until the last second. I mentioned looking into cell phone records and he said he “could” do that. Could? Why isn’t this standard procedure? Needless to say I passed this along to my lawyer. My lawyer is also not pleased about the lack of blame here. I’m sure there’s more coming later.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Glad to hear you have a lawyer on the case. I got left-turned many years ago and after getting the old run-around from the careless driver’s insurance company, had to hire one. It was amazing how quickly things changed once a pro started asking the questions and making the demands! You had a flashing red light on your bike yet the guy didn’t see you until the last (I’d say it was after that) minute? Sounds like he wasn’t looking where he was going? THAT should be blamed on him, not you.

  5. Jon Paulos Says:

    Hey Weaksides, great news that you’re already off to PT. It may look like forever now, from your vantage point at the beginning of it, but it will pass quickly. Best of luck to you.

    PoG, this is how the automated news generator will happen. Some bright young 22 year old in the Bay Area who grew up with a smartphone in their ear and a chip in their ass will develop an app that does this. Then some moron venture capitalist will throw a few million at it in hopes that it will be the Next Big Thing. It won’t, and will fail in a few years, but in the meantime it will scare all the newspapers and electronic media into adopting it because, you know, everyone else is doing it. So in 5 years you’ll see a further split between the increasingly expensive real content (like nytimes.com) and the automatically generated garbage which will continue to come free of charge, with a million ads and profiling lures to pay for it.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Scary, but a likely scenario.
      You guys gave me many tire choices to consider. Thanks for the education. I will let you know what I end up with.

  6. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Well, no new tires yet. However, I did just install Snow Leopard on the trust 2009 iMac. Other than an issue with E mail resolved by deleting the old icon off the dock and dragging the new one down from the application folder, and installing the newest version of Flash it was trouble free. It took about 90 minutes, and I didn’t say one bad word, lose my cool, or have an extra beer. A new record for me. I think Maverick installation can wait until tomorrow.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I still haven’t installed Mavericks on my 2009 iMac, Pat. It runs Snow Leopard quite well, barring the occasional and inexplicable MacBrain fart. So I’m reluctant to make the Great Leap Forward, especially since I have a Bootleg Hobo video to finish (everything’s done save the voiceover).

      I should finish the damn video and then take a stab at it. I owe it to science. Plus I have double backups, SuperDuper and Time Machine. What could go wrong?

      Hold my beer and watch this. …

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        Patrick, I think I will also run Snow Leopard for a few days and see how it works. I wonder, and will see today, what if any changes there are to iMovie and Garageband. If I install Mavericks, I will let you know how it goes.
        But, it is now time to get the bikes ready for another Brown Canyon run.

  7. Derek Lenahan Says:

    famous last words if I ever heard them.

  8. Larry T. Says:

    Here’s my wrap up on NAHBS 2014

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