Random notes while drinking coffee this morning. First note: I love coffee. A lot. Second note: it is a beautiful day. Really gorgeous. I think I am going to use it for my annual brush with death: putting Christmas lights on the house. I was going to do that tomorrow, but today seems perfect.
An increasing number of my neighbors are hiring firms to put lights up for them. I am not going to criticize them for this; many of them are older than I am, or have never put up lights before, so I understand and support this. But I just want to say, there are very few activities more satisfaction-inducing than putting lights on your own house. All through December, every time you drive up to your house, and see that wonderful warm glow, the sense of satisfaction returns. I recommend it highly to everyone. (Providing, of course, that you don't fall off the roof :)
I need to be rather ruthless with myself over these RSS items I've saved to post about. Currently I have about 200. Do you want to read about 200 old and odd things that I've collected? No, you do not. I might just dribble in the most interesting ones, though. While commenting on current events, you know.
I often have posted about SpaceX, the latest in a line of interesting and successful companies founded by Elon Musk, who was my boss for a brief while at PayPal. (Elon founded a company called x.com which merged into PayPal, and ended up as PayPal's CEO - for a time. Yes, he likes the letter X.) SpaceX aims to be a private supplier of space transportation, at first for satellites, and later for people, and given Elon's track record and personal resources you cannot bet against them. I've enjoyed their periodic progress reports greatly, and now they are on the cusp of a great moment: their first launch, from a Pacific atoll named Kwajalein. It was originally scheduled for today but has been postponed last-minute by the Army until tomorrow. Elon's brother Kimball has begun a blog entitled Dr. Evil's Island about the launch experience; do not miss it!
FuturePundit has Objections to Multi-generational Space Exploration. Personally I don't think the moral issues matter much. This will happen, it is only a matter of time. Insisting that travel to anywhere take only one human lifetime is a pretty artificial limit.
Have I mentioned reddit.com yet? I like it. A lot. But their RSS feed is links-only, so you have to actually visit every site. Kind of a step backwards. I find myself filtering heavily based on entry title - it is all you have to go on - and so am probably missing stuff. So be it. Still worth it :)
Suppose, as Gerard Vanderleun did, that you had to find the license plate at left in a 2.5 gigapixel panorama. How would you do it? Brute force would work, but it might take a while. And for a human it would be boring, although computers don't get bored. You could scale down the license plate to a teeny picture, and scale down the image by the same amount, and then find possible matches of the teeny license plate in the smaller panorama, and then check them at full resolution. That would be faster and less boring, and this technique is the key to pattern recognition in Pathology, too. Of course Pathologists don't know exactly what the license plate looks like, and they have two orders of magnitude more pixels...
One of the important things that happened during my blog-posting holiday was the introduction of the videoPod, aka iPod video. We all knew it was coming, and now that it's here, wow, it's cool. (Although I must say the Steve-note was a bit disappointing.) Of course content for the little thing is still lacking; the major Hollywood studios have not signed up to deliver their content. Yet. In the meantime Mark Pilgrim shows us how easy it is to rip a DVD for viewing on an iPod. Think people won't do this? (Even from their Tivos?) And share the results? Then you haven't been paying attention. This genie is not going back in the bottle. [ via Boing Boing ]
And we do have video podcasting, in fact, we had it before we had the iPod video. I personally think this is even nichier than audio podcasting. At least with audio podcasts you can listen to them in your car, or while flying, or something like that; kind of like the way people listen to the radio (another thing I don't do). But when are you going to devote time to watching a video podcast? It better be really interesting and/or really professionally done, preferably both, if it is going to get my attention. (On this I disagree with Russell Beattie, who I link here to give you the contra point of view.)
If you're going to have an iPod video, naturally you'll want to connect it to your TV, right?
I think Tivo has officially jumped the shark. If you look at their current product lineup, they do not have any models which support HDTV. None. Now I happen to be in the market for an HDTV; I am tired of watching ESPN and realizing that I could be watching ESPN-HD. I have made the considerable investment in understanding the difference between 720p and 1040i, and between plasma and DLP. (In case you're wondering, "the answer" is 1040p DLP. At least today.) So why doesn't Tivo support HD? I have no idea. I only know that my next TV is going to be HD, and therefore my next DVR is going to support HD, and therefore it will not be a Tivo. Rats. (I actually think it will be a Moxi, now from Motorola, as offered by Adelphia.)
Apropos, Matt Haughey reviews the Comcast HD PVR: "the good outweighs the bad but after using a TiVo for so many years, the Comcast box just barely works enough for me to keep using it". That's what I'm afraid of, I'll love HD, but hate the GUI of the box. I want everything, and I want it now!
One more apropos, back in August I saved a link to an Engadget story about a 71" Samsung DLP TV. Wow, I thought, that is the TV for me, even if it did cost more than $7,000. Now three months later I'm considering buying a 72" Toshiba DLP TV which is less than $5,000. Now that's progress. The biggest challenge is all the cabinet editing necessary to get Shirley to accept this
monster device as part of our household :)
Jeff Atwood, whose every post seems worthy of a link, considers Undocumentation. This is so true, and I
hate dislike it intensely.
Let me leave you this morning with Rendezvous, a one-take 10 minute movie shot from the bumper of a Ferrari blazing through Paris in the wee hours of the morning, ending with, well, a Rendezvous. Excellent. The initial 200+mph run up to the Arc d'Triomphe is heart stopping. Apparently now, nearly thirty years after the movie was made, Google maps has been used to map the drive. Also excellent. [ via Ottmar Liebert ]