rashbre central: September 2014

Monday 29 September 2014

a generational pointer from Billy Elliot

Along to see the dynamic special performance of Billy Elliot on Sunday, introduced by the producer Stephen Daldry.

Harder-edged than the movie, it features the stark political climate of 1984-1985 during Thatcher's closure of mining villages.

Set in Easington, there's the theme of the lad inspired to dance, played alongside the prolonged miners' strike, with police from the south sent to control the protests in County Durham.

A superb and energetic cast, driving a spirited musical - the story of nurturing creativity in adverse conditions - with music in this stage version by Elton John.

The writer, Lee Hall, expressed a sentiment scarce from this September's political conferences:

"We owe it to the next generation to create a world where it is possible for the Billy Elliots...to have a chance to succeed and flourish rather than be fed to the machine which grinds us into identical pieces only fit for consumption..."

It may be thirty years since the original story, but it does seem to be another speech point that today's politicians have forgotten.

Sunday 28 September 2014

adding heat to If This Then That

Like many, for quite a while I've used Hazel to keep my Mac systems tidy.

It's "automation for the rest of us", with a rules engine to do things like tidy the desktop and file things away without having to do anything.

I regard it as a sort of magic nowadays and occasionally have to remember to switch it off when I deliberately want to make a mess.

The cloud equivalent of Hazel type rules, which doesn't yet get much coverage, but which can become a twitter-like phenomenon, is IFTTT.

"If This Then That" can be used for all kinds of event triggering.

Although it has the makings of a 'Rise of the Machines' scenario, I'm kinda relying on Asimov's first law (A robot may not injure a human being etc...) as protection through my experiments. This is mainly through the application of 'Keep it Simple' with the IFTTT recipes I've added. And yes, I'm familiar with HAL 9000.

Although hardly Jedi mind tricks my basic examples of automation include a "probably a rainy day" notification first thing in the morning (to pop up on the iPhone). I know, I could look at the sky or listen to the radio, but a small notification to the iPhone seems a reasonable test.

The wheely bins don't have RFID, so the best I can do is to have an automated reminder on a Tuesday evening. I've just hooked up the home thermostat to send occasional alerts. Currently there's no Garmin or Strava channel, although I've noticed they can both be set up as RSS channels.

Because it can work with many types of channel triggers (things like location sensitivity) and also with many applications, there's also potential to trigger an event such as reminders based upon location (e.g. office/supermarket/train station).

The 'approaching home in the car' scenario is one that I'll want to explore further, as will be the obvious applicability of short notifications to smart watch technologies.

For me it will be mainly 'silent running' because I'm unwilling to let IFTTT have access to broadcasters like twitter in case of the potential for unexpected side-effects.

Nonetheless it is already providing some intriguing potential.

Friday 26 September 2014

unbendium as the next unobtanium?

One of my favourite marketing examples is the use of Unobtanium in the construction of Oakley sunglasses.

For ages they emphasised the straight side bits and nose grips featuring a 'three point grip system'. If I see modern Oakleys with ear-shaped or wiggly side bits, then I automatically think they are sub-standard, under-utilitising or even omitting the Unobtanium.

Which brings me to the gambit pileup facing Apple. Will the iPhone 6s need to feature a new material? Unbendium. The gambit is because they can't solve a problem they won't want to admit to in the first place. A real case of the 'I Know You Know I Know', but needing to be handled with just eye gestures (maybe iGestures?). Okay, and maybe some stress test pictures with really big weights.

The handwaving of the announcement worked. Only later did the media have a collective refrigerator moment, thinking, "Wait a minute, it's big and thin, and made of pliable metal..."

It wouldn't take long to find a few twits tweeting about how quickly they've wrecked their new phone. By sitting on it or using it as a hammer.

I've briefly examined my iClone for the alleged fault, but even with this non-Apple engineering it'd take a serious amount of force to recreate what I've seen on the telly.

It reminds me of those groovy California 1 wooden postcards I bought in Santa Monica last year. I put them in my back jeans pocket, then later sat down and, yep, only one survived. Come to think of it, they weren't made of tempered aluminium with titanium inserts.

Thursday 25 September 2014

feed them on your dreams, the one they fix, the one you'll know by

My bicycle is still blogging away quietly most times I ride it, and since I started using tapiriik, it copies similar information to a couple of other health analysis sites as well.

Now that there's a renewed interest in health applications we can expect an armful of smart watches to wind up in the stores by year end. At present I'm pretty comfortable with the (invisible) fitbit, which is a useful daily tracker but without needing to light up one's wrist.

As well as this Personal Area Network stuff, I've been turning attention to the Internet of Things, and the related Innernet of Things, which are the basis to link ever increasing amounts of home systems together. My recent experiments have been with a mainly unnoticed device - the home thermostat.

We've replaced the old clicky unit with one of the nest devices, somewhat jazzing-up a relatively mundane task.

The nest replaces the room-style thermostat with a combined thermostat and day-to-day programmer, which uses heuristics and sensors to dynamically determine the settings. As well as a wi-fi link to the home network, it has a separate and persistent Zigbee wireless protocol between the thermostat and a small unit connected to the boiler/pump system.
The end result provides a remarkable range of capabilities. As well as the normal temperature up/down control, it learns the rate of heat exchange in the environment and also monitors whether anyone is at home, potentially dropping to an economy setting when everyone is out.

Our smoke detectors also have motion sensors, which the nest wirelessly hooks into to improve motion coverage. It uses the postcode to collect weather information. We've also set it to send its telemetry to the cloud, so that the temperature and home heating use can be analysed and adjusted remotely from a phone or browser.

A catalyst for this was a recently quick energy audit as part of the annual gas and electricity service provider review. In our case I am certain that the improved intelligence in the new device will save a decent chunk of cash. For us, probably at least the cost of the unit in the first year, compared with the previous 'set to stun' heat setting that has been routinely deployed.

Some might say this technology is giving away ever more information to the world of corporate Big Data, with naysayers predicting the thermostat will start running adverts on its display. Okay, it may also have a bit of a HAL vibe, but I'm finding that this all presents interesting ideas for the connected home.

Monday 22 September 2014

Enjoying The Bone Clocks, but now a dilemma...

I've been reading the polyphonic adventure of David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks, but still have a way to go.

I've just noticed that it is being serialised starting Monday night on Radio 4, which presents me with a kind of dilemma.

Should I listen to the radio adaptation, which has the potential to overtake my reading speed? Or should I ignore it until I've finished the book?

I'm enjoying the multi-perspective and multi-timed story telling, which began in 1984 and has been jumping forward in roughly ten year increments, from different narrative points of view. It's compellingly written with sudden moments where everything pivots onto another plane, as well as various clues being dropped into the storyline ahead of later reveals.

David Mitchell also wrote 'The Cloud Atlas', which I haven't read, and to be honest I gave up when watching the movie. My guess is that the prior book started out with similar multiple point of views but somehow the movie struggled.

Mitchell has created very accessible characterisations. The initially 15 year old heroine of Holly gets a somewhat Roald Dahl styled start (No spoiler to say that Dahl would say 'Kill the parents' as a quick way to give young protagonists free will). By the first 10% (Kindle-speak) the story is jagging off unexpectedly.

The thinking explores connections and arcs much broader than the grounded start. From very early in the book there's hints of strange and paranormal topics, which I'm expecting to clarify over the last third of the book.

"she’s sort of sketched onto the corner where nobody’ll spot her"

Weirdly, in just looking for a cover art image to head this blog post, I notice the alternative U.S. cover actually has a series of arcs. Like those strange enamel black and white labyrinth signs in tube stations, the book is messing with my mind in a good way.

I'm trying not to give too much away. Suffice to say we get straightforward human interest, mysticism, academe, conflict, humour, economic catastrophe and metaphysics. And I've still got a decent chunk left to read.

A thoroughly enjoyable page turner, with (so far?) a positive heart.

Sunday 21 September 2014

goofing around with an iClone 6

iClone 6
Aside from the rather early Xmas displays, I also passed by an Apple store yesterday. There was a long patient looking line of people standing outside waiting to pick up their new pre-ordered (pre-ordained?) iPhones*.

The 6 appears to be winning over the 6 Plus, but that could be a supply thing.

I should explain that I've had an iPhone 6 shaped device for some time.

When I'm in New York I like to visit Canal Street to see what kinds of special offers are available. It usually comprises sunglasses or similar which bear the name of a famous brand, the packaging of a famous brand, but for some reason are on sale for, oh, 'ten dollar'. Maybe 'two for 18 dollar'.

My iPhone shaped device has similar cloned origins. It's from a Chinese company that produced their iPhone 6 clone back in July. It's quad processor, 13 Megapixel camera, dual SIM and runs on Android 4.4.2 (KitKat), with an iOS shell. There were two USB lightning cables and a charger (they'd be £45 from Apple) and some awful-looking headphones in the box.

To my surprise it is genuinely quite usable. All the standard smartphone capabilities work. It downloads Apps from Google Play store and they install and work correctly. The 'OK, Google' speech recognition works. The iOS style display can be toggled back and forth, so the phone can look like it's running both Android and Apple operating systems.

It won't replace my regular phone, but as a way to continue to use an old pay as you go SIM, it cost less than a burner from Tesco. It's only borderline pocketable though.
Goophone iClone 6
* The line I saw was quite a lot shorter than on launch day outside the Regents Street store. There's a video of it here, which is like a mini tour of Regents Street, Hanover Street, Hanover Square and Brook Street.

Saturday 20 September 2014

too early for Santa sightings?

I know it's a bit of a messy photograph, but I snapped it hurriedly as I walked past the front of a shop today. Notice anything abnormal?

It's September.

There's reindeer and fir trees in the display.

Oh, and a little Santa Claus popping out of the chimney.

It seems a bit early to be checking xmasclock.com

Friday 19 September 2014

well, you say you want a federation

307 years and still counting. Yes, I woke to still being in the UK this morning, based on the last 5.3% of the Scottish votes.

The voting gap sounds bigger because of the way it gets represented, but undoubtedly the last 191,969 'No' votes from a voting capacity of 4.24 million still decided it.

The surviving politicians have been quick to move to the next stage of 'devolution' bringing up a question that has languished since, oh, 1977. Yes, the wonks are looking for the next political advantages.

We are now being promised answers to all kinds of issues by November 2014. Nothing unrealistic or distracting in these moves? I wonder if they will last until tea-time? There'll also be plenty of arguments for the media to recycle - will anyone bring up the Stone of Scone?.

I predict some speedily arranged new field appointments and swap outs including democracy task forces or similar sounding edifices (no, I didn't say artifices).

Probably, by November it will have to be along the lines of a plan for a plan.

Or maybe to incept a plan of how to make a plan of a plan. But maybe I'm entering unconstructed dream space when I say that.

Thursday 18 September 2014

time to delete a few more apps

A useful change in the iPhone operating system is the ability to add a different keyboard.

I've noticed others using the Swype-type keyboards for a while on Android and thought the idea was pretty good.

I've settled for the free Swiftkey at the moment, which can be a keyboard and also does a pretty good job letting the words be predicted by dragging a finger across the keyboard area. It learns new words fast, too.

The new iOS 8 is also a perfect catalyst for me to delete a few of the unused apps sitting on my phone and iPad.

Aside from Swiftkey, my only other recent addition has been the freemium Moleskine app, which may be a replacement for the little notebooks which I've used for several years.

I've also been playing around with that Moleskine smart paper with Evernote and wonder if that will eventually be the way to go...Write on the paper and it appears in a document in the phone...Maybe I'll use it to make a list of the Apps to delete.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

nothing belongs on a poker table but cards, chips and whiskey

We've just seen the NT production of Tennessee Williams 'A Streetcar named Desire' which has Gillian Anderson playing Blanche DuBois.

It's been running at the Young Vic, although we actually tried out the NT Live screening of it, which was a very interesting experience.

First, the play. A real tour-de-force for Anderson, from the time she tidily arrives at the New Orleans split house of her sister Stella (Vanessa Kirby) and seeks the Jim Beam from the cupboard under the sink.

Then we watch an alcoholic decline in her fortune, interspersed with squandered saving moments.

Blanche wants the lights dimmed, symbolising a reduction in truth, although it's more about an escape from realism.

"I don't want realism. I want magic. …I try to give that to people. I misrepresent things to them. I don't tell truth, I tell what ought to be truth…."

Her sister's husband Stanley Kowalski (Ben Foster) is altogether more worldly, wanting to know where the family property has gone, harking to the New Orleans Napoleonic Code of 'what's yours is mine', for what he considers is his share of the (non-existent) family fortune.

The catalyst of Stanley sets a path towards Blanche's self-destruction, along with the twisting revelations from her life before arriving in New Orleans.

There's plenty of brilliant lines delivered, sometimes at a whipcrack pace that leaves one reeling from the need to process as the story moves along.

"…...Soft people have got to shimmer and glow. They've got to put on soft colors, the colors of butterfly wings..." before the demise of Blanche towards living in the bath with a glass of bourbon.

It's been set in a supposedly modern time, although the scripting is original with arcane phone numbers 'Magnolia 1234' etc. some dated expressions and cordless but not cellular phones. For me, this didn't matter one jot and the sparseness of the unwalled setting gave mental licence to edit for the key aspects.

And that's where the NT Live big screening comes in.

It allowed an added intimacy as the camera action stalked in amongst the actors. Still very much a play, it gave stunning perspectives that would never be seen in a conventional production. The Young Vic set revolved too, spinning slowly in its slightly addled state, with the skeletal walls providing ways to see every angle on what was happening.

I loved this way to watch this play. It won't replace conventional theatre, but was a fascinating and appropriate alternative way to see this production, allowing every aspect to be scrutinised. The production anyway calls for the various monologues to be widely delivered and the Young Vic audience in the round formed the bubble of a world representing the New Orleans Quarter.

This was a kind of 'for one day only' thing, but I shall watch out for others.

Monday 15 September 2014

office, hotels and cycling statistics

City Hall
I've made several adjustments to plans this year as a result of work, which has taken me away from home more than I'd originally predicted. I notice I've somehow moved through all of the loyalty card stages of a particular hotel chain, from their lowest card right up to platinum.

Not that it makes much difference, although it's sometimes hard to believe it was only this year that I started that particular block of work. It almost seems a longer time ago.

My time away from home is reflected in my cycling stats for the year, which are somewhere around the 2,800 mile level at the moment.

It's quite a way down from the same period last year. I think I finished last year somewhere over 6000 miles, whereas I'm guessing I'll be around 4,000 miles this year.

I only monitor the mileage clocked up via the little Garmin unit on the handlebars, but I've been doing that for at least the last three years now, so have a base of interesting data.

My stats are still considerably above the UK cycling average, which is a surprisingly low 79 miles per year with only 7-8% of the population cycling 3 times a week.

And across my three years of counting, I've only had one bicycle disappear: the heavy green one, which vanished without trace.

Friday 12 September 2014

Quickly designed Apps for the Watch

I've invented some Apps for the new Watch.

The first is called iSpacer. It's a black circle that doesn't do anything. It requires multiple installations around the edge of the visible Appspace on the fascia of the watch. It's only purpose is to take control of the space immediately around the main six/eight Apps that surround the watch App. It's there to declutter the face of the watch.

The next one is called iFolder. It's another circle, that this time lets you dig deep. Basically a folder selector so that instead of everything being on a flat watchworld, it's possible to drop down a level into a folder containing a related class of Apps.

iSpacer and iFolder can also be combined to create iWorld which provides the de-clutter circle, but this time with clickable drop down folders on each of the segments- it all works from the crown, or from the clickable front surface of the watch. Think planar.
By the time the slimline Watch Air appears (thinner, better battery life, extra bright screen for outdoor viewing, front facing camera, health functions that can run for extended periods without access to iPhone), everyone will be using iSpacer, iFolder and iWorld.

Maybe I'll put the revenue generated towards another kind of planar. One of those biomorphic Marc Newson iJets.

Thursday 11 September 2014

stunt squirrels

I see the Queen will stay out of the Scottish debate, what with being above politics and all that.

Like many Londoners, I'm used to seeing the Queen being driven around for state occasions, in fancy looking Rollers or even fancier horse drawn carriages.

It contrasts with a different royal experience when in rashbre north, which is along the road from Balmoral on Royal Deeside. Quite a few of the local shops in Ballater have royal crests over their doors, as the household pops out for flowers, groceries and the other day-to-day essentials of castle living.
And instead of being driven about, Her Majesty might be behind the wheel of a vehicle tailored for the Scottish terrain.

We accidentally followed her along a road once. It was the backroad to Balmoral, on the south side of the Dee. That's where I found out about the stunt squirrels.

The royal Land Rover pulled on to the road ahead of us and made off briskly in the direction of Balmoral. We were following at a conservative distance, and losing ground to the vehicle in front.

Then, suddenly, the stunt squirrels appeared.

Red squirrels of course, they dived across the road in front of us. We had to stop and in that fleeting moment the Land Rover was able to twist around the next corner and out of sight, never to be seen again.

We haven't worked out whether the squirrels are kept in special chutes, or perhaps pop up from silos, but they certainly do the trick to encourage a decent distance and suitable escape for the royal vehicle.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube?

The 'United Kingdom' news is filled with commentary about the Scottish vote next week.

And I see Downing Street is flying the Saltire this afternoon. I say flying, it's more like hanging, because of the lack of breeze.

I'm not so sure these last minute gestures will compete with the £4.5m "Yes" funding (around 80% of the total) from those two Scottish £160m Eurolottery winners.

Down south, it's all been fairly slow burn until these last few days. The first TV debate wasn't even aired south of the border.

Westminster politicos have only cautiously made visits north, instead thinking "Who can we send up there who seems properly Scottish?"

That is until we get tomorrow's tokenistically skipped PM Question Time, permitting the Cameron/Clegg/Miliband trio a fly-by to passionately discuss asymmetric federalism over neeps an' tatties.
Assuming it is level-pegging with 20% undecided swing voters at the moment, presumably WIIFM (Whats In It For Me) arguments will play out over the next few days?

So pick a topic: economy; governance; energy; wages; health; education; currency; defence; setup cost and latency, or pick a novelty: border crossings; driving on the wrong side of the road; international roaming charges. Then add a bit of hearts over minds...you get the picture.

We won't get back to rashbre north in lovely Ballater until after it's all decided, whichever way.

Meantime, I could wonder whether my existing toothpaste packaging will need to be upgraded? It currently has 10 languages on the front and 12 countries' worth of explanations of the ingredients on the back.

At this rate, maybe it will need 13 countries by St Andrew's Day?

you've gotta haptic to 'em, great taptics

insert timely statement here

Sunday 7 September 2014

Lightroom and Aperture along a cloudy edge

Since I set up Lightroom 5 as a test replacement for Aperture for my photographs, I've had to rethink my backup strategy. Lightroom backs up its catalog, but not the related photos. Aperture backs everything into its vaults. So I needed an additional backup regime for the Lightroom photos.

I'm using Chronosync which requires individual folder hierarchies to be nominated for backup. It can be scheduled and will only copy changes, set by user preference. It seems very reliable and will retry if a disk or machine is offline. The end result is also a recognisable folder and file format, which is reassuring when thinking about recovery.

The initial backup of Lightroom took a few hours across the home network. I also made a further backup of Aperture using Chronosync. Aperture's backup took 2-3 days, but the way that Aperture stores the individual photos in its folder structure meant there were over 2 million items to copy. Given there are around 100,000 images, that's a lot of extra objects.
The files are now stored in a workspace, on a fileserver and on a separate backup server. Everything is RAID5 and I've added dual disk redundancy to the two server environments.

It got me thinking about my early home computer systems, back in the days of proper floppy disks. That's the type that do actually bend. Type in 'floppy disk' nowadays to google and most of the images that come back are of the IBM-style 1.3MB diskettes.

My original hard-disk enabled computer had two drives with a total capacity of 30MB. That's about the size of a single photograph as a raw file from a fancy camera nowadays. Back in the day, the 30MB seemed like a decent amount of space, although the Apps were 'green screen' and the games were retro blocky graphics. Even in the early PC days, it was commonplace to have a pile of 15-20 diskettes to load to install, say, MS Office.

Fast forward to now. No DVD drives (let alone CD or diskette drives) on many modern systems. Storage being measured not in Megabytes, not even Gigabytes, nowadays its Terabytes and discussion of Exabytes. As iPhones start to use 128GB storage, it's with over 4000 times the storage of that ancient home computer.

Saturday 6 September 2014

I finally see castles in the sky

I didn't see any advertising about the programme dramatising the invention of what later became known as radar, which screened earlier in the week. Fortunately it created enough interference for me to download it to watch later.

A cracking little story about Scotsman Robert Watson-Watt, who led the team that designed what later became known as radar. This version was used to defend the British coastline in World War II. Eddie Izzard played Watson-Watt in what was a kind of 'weathermen vs the toffs' story about the project.

It started as an unworkable British ministry plan to produce a 'death ray' by focusing energy onto a target, and turned into overcoming multiple hurdles to piece together the components to build radar.

Izzard's character was tracking thunderstorms using an oscilloscope bridged the ideas to what became the plane detection technology. He walks around with lots of papers, presumably containing contemporaneous references to similar investigations conducted in other countries.

His team had the big breakthrough moments such as using pulses to preserve the otherwise exploding valve amplifiers and using a weatherman inspired trick to bounce signals from the ionosphere to get range. His and Arnold Wilkin's design used short wave radio signals to detect incoming planes 60 miles as the basis for a 20 minute scramble warning during the Battle of Britain.

Some of the story-telling would have befitted a similar yarn told in an old black-and-white war movie, but this didn't detract from something both entertaining and informative.

Thursday 4 September 2014

jean pocket upgrade for iPhone 6

It's still a few days before the iPhone 6/Air and its companion device appear, but the phenomenon of early queues to get them has already started.

Television reports show a small row of camper beds outside the Apple Store on 5th Avenue already. Brilliantly, the lady at the front of the line is using her global TV interviews to promote an App. Come on Regent Street, opportunity awaits.

The phenomenon this time is that the device hasn't even been announced.

Sure, there's the Russian video of a complete prototype and plastic protective cases are already on sale on Amazon, for immediate delivery.

The headline news seems to be that it will be a little bigger (grr. yet another car kit swap out?), have a better camera with image stabilisation (and a little ring on the case where the lens sticks out. Hmmm).

It's expected there'll be a new glass Apple badge presumably to support NFC and/or inductive charging through the aluminium case? As Marques explains, even if the screen glass is tougher, it will still scratch if wrapped in sandpaper - although the scratching will sound different.
I use the iPhone all the time, but there's a few things that often don't get mentioned.

1) The look of an iPhone is great in the store. Nearly everyone I know then adds a case to protect it. And guess what? the showroom look is then hidden by leather, plastic or a flappy wallet thingy.

2) Like many using it as work tool, I have one of those Mophie battery expanders. It means I can get 2 days at a squeeze, but one day could sometimes be tricky otherwise - if there were a few long conference calls or similar. I wonder how a bigger high resolution screen and a thinner form factor will affect the new one?

3) The device should really pass the jeans pocket test. If it won't fit into a pocket, then it's starting to become a small tablet, rather than a phone. The iPhone 5s is already borderline. The Samsung PingPong doesn't make it. I hope Apple are onto this?

Which ever way, I suspect we'll all need deep pockets.

Wednesday 3 September 2014


I see this hypnotic little movie from Life of Shannon has already played 19 million loops.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

casa tomada or maybe garaje tomade?

Casa Tomada at Saatchi / Pangaea
The big truck came to take the filled skip away this morning. The clearing process started at one end of the house, then out to the garage and finally into the skip.

I've seen whole new genus of garage spiders in the process, as well as all manner of other bug, many of which are now on a surprise trip to another location. No Calponia Harrisonfordi though.

Of course, the clearing process unearths further historical artefacts and can create that 'I just threw one of those away' moments. Some ruthlessness is required to preserve sanity, linked with a passing interest in blogging potential of discoveries.

In practice, it's still difficult to keep up with even recent events, let alone digging further into the archives. As an example, something I didn't mention recently was our visit to the Saatchi for the Panagaea Exhibition, featuring African and South American artists.

My photo shows Rafael Gómezbarros' big ant like creatures, representing the human scale of often unseen displaced people crossing the globe.

Monday 1 September 2014

oops, there goes another 400 nanoseconds

I just updated one of the servers in rashbre central and after I'd tested that it was working properly I decided to move it to a different room. Instead of a little stack of boxes with twinkly lights, this one now shimmers alone at the far end of a 30 metre ethernet cable.

I went through the slightly irrational thought process that moving it further away would somehow impact its performance. Because it's only running along a gigabit ethernet, it won't make any material difference, of course, but it somehow feels as if moving it further away changes things.

Electricity flows pretty quickly, and I remember the Grace Hopper visualisation of a light-nanosecond. Yes, in a nanosecond speedy light travels around .299 of a metre, or roughly one foot.

Electricity can only propagate at that rate in a superconductor or a vacuum and is slower along, say, copper. For a computer's main processor, the nanosecond is already a finite design limit, but as soon as the action moves to a disk or a bit of wire things slow down dramatically. I believe a nanosecond's proportion to a second is like a second's proportion is to 31 years. At such a rate a CPU cache lookup would be half a second, but a moving the read head on a disk would take four months.

So I don't need to worry about the 60 metre return trip to the relocated twinkly box. With copper wire to slow down the electricity I reckon I've added a good 400 billionths of a second to the latency. Putting it another way, I'd need to have made 2.5 Million return trips to have added a single second.

I think I can handle that.