Archive: February 2005

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Friday,  02/18/05  07:36 AM

I am reengaging with the blogosphere.  Just coming up for air.  I've been working on a couple of new projects, one of which has become very real, and which I'll be blogging about, and one of which has not [yet or maybe ever].  No excuse, as usual, just a reason.

My thought right now is that I'm going to take a new tack here.  Post more about me, more about my thoughts, and less about the world.  More of a think blog and less of a link blog.  Maybe just less, period.  I think I had set kind of a high standard for myself in trying to capture the world as it interests me each day, and I may simply not have the time or energy for that going forward.

As usual, stay tuned :)



RSS feed for digital slides

Friday,  02/18/05  07:51 AM

As you guys know I'm a big fan of RSS.  (If you don't know about RSS, please check out my RSS cookbook, as before I promise this will be worth it.  My mailbox is full of thanks from satisfied customers :)  So recently I did something new and cool with RSS; we added the capability to Aperio's digital slide software to create RSS feeds for directories of digital slides.

For a sample feed, try this one:   Pretty cool, eh?  Well I think it is, anyway :)  BTW you can see the directory itself here.



Friday,  02/18/05  10:15 PM

The Ole filter makes a pass...  (Yes, I have 171 posts queued up to link, and no, I'm not going to link them all at once.)

As you know, I want to visit Titan.  Right now this isn't possible, but as Wired notes Titan's Features Emerge from Haze.  "NASA scientists unraveled more of the mystery shrouding Saturn's largest moon this week when the space agency's Cassini orbiter beamed home some of the clearest photos to date of Titan's surface."  Excellent. 

One of the best hopes for people like me to visit Titan someday is SpaceX, a little company founded by Elon Musk, who was a founder (and my boss) at PayPal.  Elon posts semi-monthly updates on the SpaceX website which are fascinating.  What they're doing truly is rocket science. 

Oh, and BCC reports a huge star quake shakes the milky way.  "One calculation has the giant flare on SGR 1806-20 unleashing about 10,000 trillion trillion trillion watts."  Whoa. 

On another frontier, Star Wars III aka Revenge of the Sith is going to open at Cannes.  Cool.  May the force be with them.  It certainly was not with Star Wars II which was the lamest in the series by far despite featuring the best effects. 

Joel Spolsky likes Microsoft's AntiSpyware but notes lazy user-interface-manship.  The contra view on this software, which I endorse, is that Microsoft should not give away for free utilities which others are charging for.  At first glance you might think that MS is being magnanamous, however a zero-cost utility from MS will cause all others to exit the market, however superior they might be, and we all benefit from a healthy ecosystem of choices, especially regarding something like anti-spyware. 

Some of you may have seen the SuperBowl ad from, featuring a nice looking young woman and I can’t remember what else.  And your opinion of might have been formed right there, never to change.  However Bob Parsons, the founder and CEO of GoDaddy, is a blogger (!), and among other things has posted his rules to live by.  I particularly think these three are spot-on: 

8. Be quick to decide.  Remember what the Union Civil War general, Tecumseh Sherman said: “A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

9. Measure everything of significance.  I swear this is true.  Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.  If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven’t examined for a while.  I guarantee you problems will be there.

These three rules are THE formula for success in managing software projects.

John Battelle notes videora, a Bittorrent RSS reader.  "I've long theorized that video over IP will come from the bottom up, as opposed to the top down, much as it has with blogs, and with music before that."  I've long theorized the same thing :) 

Oh, and Tivo Surfs the Internet for New Service.  Hmmm... 

The Blogs Must Be Crazy.  [ via Dave Winer



Saturday,  02/19/05  08:40 AM

Boy, it just won't stop raining out here.  I'm telling you, this is like the rainiest winter ever in Southern California.  Not to mention the coldest.  So much for global warming, we have local cooling, and wetting.

Oh well, coding weather!

[ Later: Wired reports Global Warning is Real.  It must be non-uniform. ]


Sunday,  02/20/05  09:39 AM

One of the things I missed blogging about last month was the new Mac Mini.  Man is it cool.  Have you seen one?  They're tiny.  Basically the size of a DVD drive.  Very nice, especially considering the $500 price.  I'm trying to figure out a good reason to buy one; I am working on a Mac development project... 

Here's one thing you might be able to do with one; a concept for a Mac Mini A/V dock.  [ via Engadget, who also ran how to turn your Mini Mac into a media center. ]  There seems to be a theme to this speculation :) 

Robert X. Cringley thinks the Mini Mac is all about movies.
He also ponders whetherthe iPod is the razor or the blade

AppleHere's to the crazy ones :)  [ via Gerard VanderkLeun

I've been flying a bit lately, and I can totally recommend  This free site will tell you everything you need to know about every seat on every commercial airplane. 

The Seattle PI has a nice article about their new Rem Koolhaas -designed library, and how he almost didn't get a chance to do it.  [ Thanks, Tom ] 

If you're an IE user, check out this cool clock!  Ah, the wonders of DHTML.  [ Thanks, Diane ]  (This illustrates both sides of the DHTML situation; you can do cool things with it, no question, but it is incompatible across browsers.) 

What the heck was this?  Not quite the way to make a landing...  Could this be real?  It looks pretty real. 



tsunami relief

Sunday,  02/20/05  10:21 AM

I still have a little link to the Amazon tsunami relief fund on my pages; the Katsushika Hokusai woodcut from 1831.  The fund currently stands at $15,751,953, from 190,768 individual donations.  Wow.  I'm sure there were people from many countries who contributed, but I'm also sure the vast majority of these donations came from U.S. citizens.  I think I'll leave it a bit longer... 

This is kind of old news by now; there was a blog called Diplomad which chronicled the U.N.'s perfidity in taking credit for U.S. Tsunami relief.  (I say "was" because they're not blogging any more, although the site is still on the air.)  Anyway the U.N. defies parody; I can't wait until we finally stop funding this horrible excuse for graft. 

L.T.Smash weighs in: The Dishonesty is breathtaking

Meanwhile here's an interesting analysis of the effect of the tsunami on the Indian Ocean seabed.  More here

Gerard Vanderleun ponders Rules?  In a Knife Fight?  "One gets the impression that the President and his core group would prefer it if Americans and the world began to think of the Iraq stage of the Terrorist War as a kind of Tsunami relief effort with guns."  This is always a problem; we fight "fair", some of our opponents do not.  But that's the difference between us and them, and why we must win.  We just don't want to lose who we are in the process. 

And "who we are" is exemplified by that Amazon relief fund!


think green, think nuclear

Sunday,  02/20/05  04:42 PM

If you're a regular reader you know that I'm a green in wolf's clothing.  I think we must get better at preserving our environment and slowing our consumption of natural resources.  And I also think - gasp! - that nuclear power is the key to this.

Wired magazine's February issue has a great article on this point of view: Nuclear Now!  You should read the whole thing, but here's a taste:

"In the years since [Three Mile Island] we've searched for alternatives, pouring billions of dollars into windmills, solar panels, and biofuels.  We've designed fantastically efficient lightbulbs, air conditioners, and refrigerators.  We've built enough gas-fired generators to bankrupt California.  But mainly, each year we hack 400 million more tons of coal out of Earth's crust than we did a quarter century before, light it on fire, and shoot the proceeds into the atmosphere.

"The consequences aren't pretty.  Burning coal and other fossil fuels is driving climate change, which is blamed for everything from western forest fires and Florida hurricanes to melting polar ice sheets and flooded Himalayan hamlets.  On top of that, coal-burning electric power plants have fouled the air with enough heavy metals and other noxious pollutants to cause 15,000 premature deaths annually in the US alone, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study.  Believe it or not, a coal-fired plant releases 100 times more radioactive material than an equivalent nuclear reactor - right into the air, too, not into some carefully guarded storage site.

"Burning hydrocarbons is a luxury that a planet with 6 billion energy-hungry souls can't afford.  There's only one sane, practical alternative: nuclear power.


The Wired article has an interesting sidebar: Green vs. Green, which discusses the current state of Green opposition to nuclear power.  I've always been amazed that people who are anti-fossil-fuel aren't pro-nuclear power, but perhaps there is an education gap.  Nuclear power is not even the same thing as nuclear energy.


(new yorker, 2/20/05)

Sunday,  02/20/05  06:40 PM

Do you get a discount if the light comes on in the store?


Monday,  02/21/05  10:14 PM

I had a good day today, thanks for asking.  One of those days where you clean up a lot of loose ends, and feel virtuous as a result...

Here we have "The World", 300 islands in the shape of the world, a unique investment opportunity.  Amazing.  You, too, could own California - or France.  Check it out!  [ via Tom Coates

In the same vein, here we have "The Poseidon", a five-star $1,500 per night hotel under water in the Bahamas.  [ via Cory Doctorow

John Stanforth: Why do we overcommit?  Read it all, but essentially, we are better at measuring tangible resources than we are intangibles like time.  Oh. 

Yippee the Economist has RSS feeds.  Welcome to the party, boys.  This is one of the few magazines left that adds value; I look forward to getting updates in between issues.  And stay tuned for links :) 

For a typically insightful articles, consider The Economics of Sharing.  "Economists have not always found it easy to explain why self-interested people would freely share scarce, privately owned resources.  Their understanding, though, is much clearer than it was 20 or 30 years ago: co-operation, especially when repeated, can breed reciprocity and trust, to the benefit of all."  There is no such thing as altruism, but enlightened self-interest is another story... 

This is pretty cool, a kaleidoscopic use of Flash.  Move your mouse back and forth for extra weirdness.  Kinda makes you want to inhale, doesn't it :)  [ via collision detection, in a link titled "dude" ] 

If you like that, you might enjoy this graphic, too.  Just too weird what your brain does after it gets the signal from your eyes, huh? 

Thrasymachus at GNXP considers The Flynn Debate.  "Possibilities: 1) The Flynn Effect is based on bad data.  2) The Flynn Effect tracks non-g rises in IQ.  3) The Flynn Effect measures a rise in g. Therefore better environments improve g a lot.  4) The entire concept of g is somehow faulty  5) The entire concept of IQ is somehow faulty."  I like (1), but he likes (3).  I'm pretty sure g is not that tied to environment... 

Basketball.  Whoa.  [ Via Jane Galt, via Marginal Revolution, via Ottmar Liebert. ] 

Via Dave Winer, Howard Greenstein links the User's Guide to the Brain.  Looks like a cool book, I've one-clicked it.  I have a brain, but I never got the user's guide.  I guess I'm one of those people who never read the manual.  It would be nice to hit F1 for online help once in a while :) 


wish you were here

Monday,  02/21/05  10:48 PM

From Steven Wright:

A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space.  On the back it said, "Wish you were here."

Every so often, I like to stick my head out the window, look up, and smile for a satellite picture.

I'm moving to Mars next week, so if you have any boxes...

I have a map of the United States... Actual size.  It says, "Scale: 1 mile = 1 mile."  I spent last summer folding it.  I also have a full-size map of the world.  I hardly ever unroll it.  People ask me where I live, and I say, "E6".

You can't have everything.  Where would you put it?

When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.

tap, tap.  crash :)


Thursday,  02/24/05  11:39 PM

Here's something I agree with 100%: Suppressing Intelligence Research: Hurting Those We Intend to Help, by Linda Gottfredson.  Don't get me started.  Anyway read the article, it makes great points in a very balanced way.  [ via GNXP

If you liked that one, check this out: Anti-racist multicultural math.  "The school department was recently forced to publicly admit that the sixth-grade MCAS math scores have steadily declined over the past three years to the point where 32 percent of sixth-graders are now in the 'warning' or 'needs improvement' category..."  And yet "In 2001 Mr. Young, Mrs. Wyatt and an assortment of other well-paid school administrators, defined the new number-one priority for teaching mathematics, as documented in the curriculum benchmarks, 'Respect for Human Differences - students will live out the system wide core of 'Respect for Human Differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors.'"  I'm not sure unbelievable is the right word.  I actually do believe it. 

Wired wonders Wither the Wall Street Journal?  "The paper still carries a lot of weight in the business world, but some clumsy decisions about web content are making it insignificant in the online world."  I think this is an example of the echo chamber in action.  There are still millions of businesspeople who read the WSJ and who don't even use a computer, let alone know what a blog is... 

Oh, look, the AP now has RSS feeds!  Cool.  I'm going to try their headline news feed, but I'm guessing it will be a firehose.  I'll probably have to rely on bloggers to filter it, first. 

AlwaysOn reports the video rental business generates $8.2B per year.  Wow.  People sure will pay a lot to entertain themselves. 

So, do you think Apple will buy Tivo?  That would be interesting, for sure, but actually I'm not sure what Tivo would bring to Apple's party.  Seems like Apple will be able to execute an IP-based video strategy without them.  George Hotelling reviews the pros and cons...  It would put an end to the Tivo deathwatch :) 

This is a great story.  Monowi, Nebraska, a one-person town with a library.  Why does this make me happy?  I don't know why, but it does.  [ via Mark Frauenfelder

Doc Searles: Without the Smog, everyone would freak.  Yes, you can ski in Los Angeles! 

So, are you following the debate about the  new Google toolbar?  Apparently it automatically highlights terms in whatever you're browsing; essentially, it modifies what you're looking at.  Dave Winer thinks this is the top of a bad slippery slope, similar to Microsoft's ill-fated SmartTags.  It seems okay to me, as long as they make this an option.  Could be a test of whether the new, bigger, more powerful Google is truly "not evil".  [ Later: Here's Scoble's take. ] 

P.S. As a Firefox user, who cares?  I have a Google search bar built in already.  Yet another reason, if any were needed to check out Firefox...

Here's what I want for Christmas whenever - a Samsung 102" plasma TV.  Wow.  I know it costs a bizillion dollars but I want it anyway. 

This is really cool: Heathkits, a walk down memory lane.  Yeah, I remember Heathkits, boy do I ever; as a kid I used to help my Dad build stuff for our boats.  Here's the Heathkit virtual museum.  Wouldn't it be cool if they were still around?  You could make your own iPods, 'n' stuff... 


masters of the universe

Monday,  02/28/05  10:45 PM

Masters of the Universe
Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel

The 2/28 issue of the New Yorker has a terrific article entitled "Time Bandits", about Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel.  Well it is really a review of John S. Rigden's new book, “Einstein 1905: The Standard of Greatness", and Rebecca Goldstein's biography “Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel”.  (Both of these books seem interesting and well worth reading.)  The review is a wonderful overview of these two amazing men and their improbable friendship, as well as their shared quest to understand the nature of time.


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