Tag Archives: coffee

The Productive Commute

One of the key reasons people want self-driving vehicles is to make their daily commute less tedious. But the possibilities go much further than simply allowing you to take your hands off the steering wheel so you can text your friends on the way to work.

At a conference in Bavaria recently, I asked the question, “Where would you most like to spend the time between getting up in the morning and arriving at the office?” For me, that place would need to have a charger for my laptop, a table, comfortable chairs, and a really good coffee machine, ideally filled with my choice of coffee beans. My coffee mug would be in the cupboard, and there would be fresh milk in the fridge.

Yes, I basically want a self-driving cafe.

The closest image I could find online was this; the front of a large and luxurious motorhome:

Now, I might not need something this large and luxurious just for my own personal commute, but you get the idea: this is nothing like my current car; it’s more like a room of my house that just happens to move around.

People often predict that autonomous vehicles will mean the end of car ownership; if you’re just a passenger in the vehicle, why not treat it like a taxi, and summon it when you need it? No doubt that will happen in some situations, if your main use for a car is the occasional trip to a restaurant, or the shopping mall, or the airport. But for a daily commute, very few people choose a taxi at present, and I think that’s unlikely to change much if the driver happens to be silicon-based instead of carbon-based.

But if we ever get something like the self-driving breakfast bar I describe above, it will, I think, be an even more personal space than the cars of today: it’ll grind my coffee beans, play my music, have the right adapter for my laptop. It may even have my choice of curtains at the windows. It will be more tailored to the various needs I have while using it, than is a traditional car, which is tailored primarily to the single task of guiding it down the road.

In short, so many more personal preferences may be involved in choosing and using such a vehicle that I think — for the purpose of commuting, at least — rumours of the death of car ownership may have been somewhat exaggerated.

Efficient Caffeine

Richard has his cafetiere workflow nicely optimised, both for time and energy.

Lots More Pots

Following on from the article mentioned yesterday, the World Service broadcast about the Trojan Room Coffee pot went out today.

Links to the programme, and a downloadable version here, if wanted.

Digital Archaeology: Ode to a Cantabrigian Urn

Tucked away on a backup disk yesterday, I discovered a few thousand of my emails from the 1990s. And in the folder from late Feb 1992, I found something I thought was lost forever.

Bob Metcalfe was visiting Cambridge, on sabbatical to the University Computer Lab, just as we were setting up the Trojan Room Coffee Pot camera. He wrote about it in his column in Communications Week, a publication which, sadly, closed down not long afterwards (roughly at the time when the camera was connected to the web and became quite famous). This original article was therefore, unknowingly, the first published reference to what was to become the world’s first webcam.

But I didn’t have a copy, and nor did Bob – the old Mac floppy on which he saved it would have been hard to read now even if he could have found it – and if anyone kept an archive of CommWeek articles, I haven’t found it on the web. (Few people in 1992 would have heard of the World Wide Web, even those reading this kind of technical article.) But, as it went to press, Bob sent me a copy by email, and, sure enough, just over 20 years later, there it was, easily readable by my Apple Mail program. There’s probably some useful lesson there about the longevity of different data formats…

Anyway, while it may have little interest to anyone not closely involved with networking technologies at the time, I’m still very glad that, with Bob’s kind permission, I can now make the article available here.

And I must take more care of my email archives in future…

What goes around comes around…

It’s – wow! – almost twenty years since we set up the original Trojan Room coffee pot camera.

Now some cunning Danish developers have a demo of how you can monitor the level of your coffee using a Management Pack plugin for Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007, which is quite fun, and I imagine is even more useful if you’ve ever actually heard of Microsoft System Center Operations Manager 2007…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser