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Archive: March 2005

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Tuesday,  03/01/05  07:33 AM

I woke up this morning and thought, wow, March, crap.  Why crap?  I don't know, it can't really be March already, can it?  I mean, the year just started...

Ellen MacArthur's trimaranSo, do you know Ellen MacArthur?  I didn't think so.  She's kind of a secret here in the U.S., but she recently did something pretty amazing; she sailed singlehanded around the world, and broke the record for doing so.  It took her 71 days.  Now sailing singlehanded means you basically have to be paying attention all the time, there isn't much time for sleeping or eating or anything, no matter how good your equipment.  And she was sailing a trimaran, they're fast, but they tip over.  So this was 71 days of paying attention.  Pretty amazing.  The picture was taken during a doublehanded race she competed in during 2003, and it captures the flavor of what it is like to sail one of these things.  Anyway my hat's off to her.  [ This article captures the essence of her accomplishment, which has been much more celebrated in Europe than America. ]

Ragtime!In other sailing news, I came across this article about Ragtime, one of the greatest racing yachts of all time.  I had the pleasure of sailing on her several times, and man is this a fast boat.  She was built specifically as a "sled", a boat which is fast downwind for competing in the Transpac race from Los Angeles to Honolulu, but she ended up being just fast period and graceful under all conditions.  Basically just a 62-foot dinghy.

John H. Marburger III, director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, stated point blank “Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory.”  He got that right.  [ via Panda's Thumb ]

FuturePundit wonders Do Hydroelectric Dams Cause Global Warming?  I've often wondering the same thing; one of the knocks on nuclear power has always been the excess heat they generate which has to be siphoned off into the environment.  But dams generate more heat and far more environmental disruption, of course.  I'm still waiting for greens to get on the right side of the nuclear power debate...

Toyota PriusHalley notes the Toyota Prius was one of the celebrities at the Acadamy Awards.  In this as in many things, Ottmar Liebert was leading the way :)

Saturn has three new moons.  Or at least, we've discovered three more.  One of them, "Polydeuces", is a so-called Trojan moon - it is twinned with a larger moon (Dione) in orbit around Saturn.  Dione already has another Trojan moon called Helene.  Quite the planetary ecosystem out there, and I can't wait to visit :)

flash gameIf you have some free time, you may enjoy this game
Pretty cool, but by all means turn off the piano.
  [ via Tom Coates ]

Bigwig made me smile; his daughter Ngnat read her first book.  Yippee.

 

 

Introducing Max

Thursday,  03/03/05  09:37 PM

We have a new member of our family,
please say hello to Max:

Max and Megan

He's a wonderful little Shih-Tsu and we're very excited to have him.
More to come...

 

Thursday,  03/03/05  09:50 PM

As time passes since January 30, the Iraqi people's vote is assuming more and more significance.  Not only was it a psychological turning point for Iraq, but it seems to have triggered events throughout the mid-East, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran.  Excellent.  People are even asking What if Bush was Right?

On January 30 the best way to get a sense of events was from Iraqi bloggers, of whom there are now quite a few; my favorite post was this one, from Life in Baghdad, consisting of the simple statement "I did".  They all did, and it has made a huge difference.  At Iraq the Model, they said "The People have Won."

As usual, Chris Muir nailed it:

Day by Day: the finger

The news is so good, American Digest is nervous...

[ Later: Gerard Baker wonders What Have the Americans Ever Done For Us? ]

the African cliffWant to see something amazing?  Check out the African cliff.  In the last ten years the life expectancy in many African countries has plummeted, due solely to AIDS.  Wow.

If you're not reading Mark Cuban's blog, you should be.  Here's a great post on the broadcast flag, entitled "call their bluff": "Although the broadcast flag is bad for consumers in every possible way, it would be great for my content businesses.  Not because it would protect content, it wouldn't.  They all would benefit because we wouldn’t use the broadcast flag.  While the big networks would create confusion and anger with their customers, our businesses could be the knight in shining armor and provide content in exactly the means consumers want it, unencumbered and available to watch, where and how they like."  I love it.

Jon Udell's "screencast": walking tour of Keene, NHThis is awesome; Jon Udell's "screencast" walking tour of Keane, NH.  A great introduction to the capabilities of Google Maps, if you haven't checked it out yet.

Luke Hutteman likes Google Maps.  (He's the author of SharpReader, BTW.)

Business 2.0: The 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, recapping 2004.  These are really good.

I just found this: Science Made Stupid.  You have to be clever to catch them :)

The NameVoyager tells you how the popularity of various names has changed over time.  My name was most popular around 1905.  Go figure.  Anyway it is a cool application and a cool Flash UI, too.  [ via Clive Thompson ]

My "two years ago" link took me to this article from March 2003, coverage of the cricket finals between New Zealand and India.  If this isn't the funniest article ever written, I don't know what is.  I've read it about ten times, on about ten different occasions, and laugh harder each time.  No?  Only me then.  Good.

 

more Titan

Friday,  03/04/05  11:32 PM

Titan crater from HuygensWhile I took my little "blog holiday" in January important things were happening on the Titan exploration front.  First, on January 15th the little Huygens probe successfully entered Titan's atmosphere and made a crash landing, transmitting video and sound along the way (via Cassini).  The European Space Agency website has a bunch of great pictures, including the one at right, of a 440km crater.  Yes, that's big, imagine the object which created it!

One of the early and interesting discoveries: Titan has streams like Earth.  "There is liquid that is flowing on the surface of Titan.  It's not water -- it’s too cold -- but liquid methane.  And it flows in the same way it does on Earth."  Cool.  (Sorry :)

Merlin test firingIn other big news, SpaceX's Merlin rocket engine was fired for 160 seconds, the time required to boost their Falcon rocket into orbit.  They're in the hunt for "America's Space Prize", a $50M bounty for the first private spaceflight which takes five people into Earth orbit.  As I've pointed out before, it takes 25 times the energy to reach orbit as it does to reach "space", so this will be quite an accomplishment.  That's their engine test rig at left.  I think SpaceX or companies like them will be my best bet to visit Titan.

The companies which are vying for this prize have formed the Personal Spaceflight Federation.  How cool is that?  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]

Time December 1952 - landing on TitanCheck out the Time Magazine cover at right, from December 1952, featuring a landing on Titan.  (Click for larger view.)  I love it.  The subtitle is "will man outgrow the Earth", a subject for speculation 50 years ago as it is today.  Here's the cover story blurb:

"The youngsters have already zoomed confidently off into the vast ocean of space; they can buy space suits, space guns and rockets in almost any toyshop.  In 50-odd science fiction magazines, space travel is a favorite theme.  Eight comic strips and at least two TV programs are flying through space.  "Scientific" space books are brisk sellers.  But not all members of the space cult are storytellers, crackpots or kids.  Some serious scientists believe that space flight will surely come, and perhaps soon...

Awesome!  [ via Mark Frauenfelder ]

 

Friday,  03/04/05  11:59 PM

More rain today...  Man, has this been a wet winter, or what?  And in Holland it is snowing.  Global warming, indeed!  Anyway, here's what's happening...

ice spireSo what do you do during a long, cold, winter?  You make an ice sculpture, of course!  And then you climb it.  Wow.  Keep clicking through until you reach the part where it is 120 ft. high.  Excellent.  [ via Kehaar ]

ice pirate shipHere's another possibility, you can make an ice pirate ship.  This one is 56 ft. tall and 52 ft. long.  Also excellent.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

PhysicsWeb reports that the classic "double slit" experiment has been performed in a novel new way, by Gerhard Paulus, who separated the electrons in time.  Now this is even weirder than the original experiment.  You might know, light waves passing through adjacent slits in a wall will "interfere" with each other and cause a pattern of dark and light bands.  The original double slit experiment showed that electrons will do this, too, and in fact it only takes a single electron to do it, essentially interfering with itself.  That's a bit odd, but now in this new variation the "slits" are actually consecutive crests of a wave, separated in time.  I don't have any intuition for this, but it sure is cool.

h. floresiensis skullIt looks like those small humanoid fossils discovered in Indonesia, and popularly dubbed "hobbits", might have been from a heretofore unknown homo species, homo floresiensis.  An article in Science, summarized in Nature, presents brain scan evidence.  Pretty cool, these little guys were around as recently as 18,000 years ago...

Did you watch the Oscars?  I didn't, I never do; I don't have the patience.  I did read where Chris Rock apparently offended some people who subsequently tuned out.  So be it.  But did you know that the Academy also succeeded in offending the country of Uruguay?  Indeed, read all about it.  Whew.

Queen meets Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Brian MayThis is a classic: Queen to Rock Stars, Who are You?  Rock legends Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Brian May meet the Queen.  I'm sure I'm not the only one to think she's aged better than they have.  Eic Clapton looks like a philosophy professor, which I guess in some ways one might say he is :)  [ via Adam Curry ]

Wired ran a puff piece about Adam and podcasting.  If you're new to the idea of podcasting, this might be a decent introduction, although the history seems wrong; Dave Winer's key role in developing this technology seems to have escaped mention.

 

onetrick pony

Saturday,  03/05/05  11:18 PM

I've been blogging for a little over two years now.  When I started, on January 1, 2003, I started slow.  My posts were short, with few pictures.  I had very few regular readers (hi Mom!) and very little traffic.  Then exactly two years ago I did something very few bloggers have done.  I wrote a "popular" article.  That one little article, The Tyranny of Email, transformed my blog presence.

Suddenly I was on the map.  Dave Winer linked it, and the rest, as they say, was history.  I'd only been blogging three months, but there I was on the home page of slashdot, and my traffic hasn't dropped much since.  That article remains by far my most popular page, and periodically someone new discovers it, links it, and poof! I get a bunch of traffic.  (This just happened, Omar Shahine, "yet another Microsoft blogger", posted a link two days ago, and I've had a flood of traffic since.  Thanks, Omar :) 

I could probably stop blogging altogether and I'd still get a bunch of traffic from that one page alone.  Don't worry, I won't.

I've posted a bunch of articles and notes and pictures and all sorts of stuff in the past two years - if you're new around here, please check out my greatest hits over there on the right, which are the posts which have received the most hits - but actually I'm just a onetrick pony :)

 

Saturday,  03/05/05  11:37 PM

The Ole filter makes a pass...

I have to say, Bittorrent is the coolest thing ever.  Tonight I wanted to download xCode v1.5, the latest version of Apple's Developer Tools.  So I'm a member of Apple's Developer Connection, and I find the link on their website, and I click on it, and I start the download of the 300MB disk image.  I'm getting 100KB/s, not bad, but this is going to take hours...  Okay stop that.  I launch Shareaza, find a torrent for xCode v1.5 on eDonkey in, like, five seconds, and crank up the download.  In no time I'm downloading at 350KB/s.  Fifteen minutes later I had the image.  Oh, and yes I did leave it running for a while to donate some upload bandwidth.  We care and give back :)

WritTorrent: Drag & Drop .torrent creation.  Excellent.  This is going to be IP TV.  Really.

Steven Den Beste pokes his head out of retirement for brief post: Victory is never cheap.  I'd kept U.S.S.Clueless in my aggregator in the faint hope this would happen, and it did.

I like this - the bathroom wall principle.  "If you write a poem on a bathroom wall, the owner of the restaurant isn’t obliged to erase it at your whim.  Nor should he have to let you back into the bathroom to edit it yourself.  He can stick a neon Guinness sign in the bathroom next to your poem.  If he happens to hoist his double-wide restaurant onto the back of a trailer and move it to another city (or country), then the bathroom goes with him and he’s still not obliged to do anything about your poem."  So be it.  [ via Sam Ruby ]

Jamie Zaworsky, ex-Netscape coder and current nightclub owner: Groupware Bad.  "So I said, narrow the focus.  Your 'use case' should be, there's a 22 year old college student living in the dorms. How will this software get him laid?"  Not coincidentally, everyone thinks Google is going to announce a calendar soon.  So be it.  [ via Tim Bray ]

Chris Anderson: In Defense of Endism.  "You have to realize that there are three kind of people:

A) Position People
B) Velocity People (first derivative)
C) Acceleration People (second derivative)

Category A people think: "4 million subscribers is a lot. Consumer Reports must be doing something right."

Category B people think: "It used to be 4.2 million. Consumer Reports is in decline."

Category C people think: "They lost 200,000 readers in three years! Consumer Reports is dead."

The jump from "their growth has slowed" to "they're dead" seems to be instant, doesn't it?

Yahoo! netrospective, 100 moments from the last 10 years...Yahoo! turned ten recently!  Wow.  Anyway they've posted a cool netrospective, 100 moments from the last 10 years, a la 10x10.  Check it out.  [ via Napsterization ]

What's really interesting is how many things came and went.  Sure there was Netscape and eBay and Google, but do you remember Excite?  Pointcast?  Webvan?  And Napster?  They were BIG.  And now they're gone.

xtreme overclocking with liquid nitrogenDo you read Tom's Hardware?  It's a cool site, they're sort of a Consumer Reports for computer hardware.  Plus they've got a dry and nasty sense of humor.  Anyway they just reported on the Ultimate LAN party in Texas.  You know it's going to be good when people show up with liquid nitrogen to cool their overclocked systems :)

 

 

Cool art that will mess with your head, part I

Sunday,  03/06/05  09:11 PM

I received a long picture-laden email entitled "Cool art that will mess with your head", courtesy of my colleague Steven Hashagen.   It is indeed cool art and it will indeed mess with your head.  I plan to dribble it out over time. Anyway here's the first:

 

 

  If anyone knows the artist please tell me; I'd love to give this proper attribution.
[ Update 1/7/14: This is The Sun Sets Sail, by Rob Gonsalves ]

 

 

 

Sunday,  03/06/05  09:29 PM

NYTimes: White House approves pass for blogger.  Excellent.  Amazingly, the usually clueless Times even included the URL to Garrett Graff's blog, FishBowlDC.  The Times, they are a changin'...

Microsoft Office dinosSteve Rubel: Microsoft Office marketing is stuck in the prehistoric era.  "It seems to me like they're trying the same ol' stuff they did back in 1995.  Where has the innovative Microsoft Office marketing machine gone?  The company's army of 1200+ employee bloggers do more to market Microsoft's products/services these days than anything the corporation has done in years."  I don't know, I think the dinos are cute.  Paleolithic, I think.  And they are a tribute to office diversity :)  [ via Scoble ]

Chris Anderson: The tragically neglected economics of abundance.  "Although there may be near infinite selection of all media, there is still a scarcity of human attention and hours in the day.  Our disposable income is limited.  On some level, it's still a fixed-pie game.  Offer a couch potato a million TV shows and they may end up watching no more television than they did before; just different television, better suited to them."  Another great introspection about the long tail.  Chris' blog is batting about 1,000, every post seems worthwhile.  Subscribe to it!

Oh, and here's another: What about producers?  "It's worth noting that commercial success is not the only (or even main) reason to be a Long Tail producer.  Most authors write books not to get rich but to reach a readership, whether it be to enhance their academic reputation, market their consultancy, or just leave a mark on the world.  The Long Tail effect may not pay their rent, but it will find them a bigger audience, and if what they're offering is really good it may be dramatically bigger."

Olivelink is person-to-person video streaming.  Wow.  Kind of like video podcasting.  [ via Matt Haughey ]

 
 

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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
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On Blame
Try, or Try Not
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Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
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In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
entertainment
triple double
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Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
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your cat for my car
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world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
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