Archive: January 2006

<<< November 2005


February 2006 >>>

restart n

Sunday,  01/29/06  06:27 PM

Here we go again, yet another restart.  I'm getting tired of having to explain why I stopped blogging, especially since I don't really know why, but I felt like posting again tonight, so here we go.

Recently I have been engaged with two ridiculous "problems".  They are actually opportunities, buying opportunities.  In each case I already have a great solution, and the problem is choosing a greater solution.  And in each case doing nothing is an option, too... 

First, my TV.  I have a perfectly great TV setup at the moment, a Sony 36" TV (I know, old technology, but it looks great), on Adelphia Cable, via a Series/1 Tivo (I know, old technology, but it works great).  I have Bose surround sound speakers (I know, old technology, but they sound great).  So I've been investigating HDTV setups.  I would need a new TV, a new broadcast source (cable or satellite), and a new DVR.  For a new TV my choices are limited by the fact that it would have to be thin in order to fit anywhere, so I could chose plasma or LCD.  A new broadcast source, well, that's pretty straightforward; I could stick with Adelphia cable or switch to DirectTV or something else...  And DVR is crummy, because, unbelievably, there is no Tivo HDTV DVR available yet (I know, the Series/3 is "coming later this year").  So I could go with Adelphia's combo cable box / DVR, which would be a decent solution, I guess, or I could switch to DirectTV and use their DVR, or I could even find the old DirectTV Tivo box, which supports DirectTV and provides a Tivo HDTV DVR.  Ah, decisions...

I could always wait for SED, I guess...

BTW, if you find yourself in a similar situation, don't drink the HD-tuner kool-aid!

The other problem is my car.  I have a perfectly great car at the moment, a 1992 Lexus SC400 (old technology, but it runs great).  So I've been investigating new cars...  There are a million choices.  My car is a great car; I have 220,000 miles on it, and it runs like new.  So I'm strongly attracted to getting a new Lexus.  But they don't make my car anymore, and the new models, well, every one involves some sort of compromise.  And a lot of money.  Ah, decisions...

Pretty stupid to have such problems, right?  My friend Hy Kolkowitz tells me the Yiddish word for such a problem is a "mishegosh", which literally means insanity or madness but which is often applied for such "problems".  So be it.

By the way, Happy New Year.  Just noticed it has been that long since I last posted.  Sheesh. 

So what else is going on?  Well, let's see...

SpaceX almost launched their new rocket for the first time, twice.  It was pretty darn exciting.  Fortunately Elon Musk's brother Kimbal started a little blog to record the blow by blow.  If you're at all interested check it out, it is pretty cool.  The next scheduled attempt is February 8 - mark your calendar! 

The inimitable Marshall Brain posted a pretty cool essay: Why does God hate amputees?  [ Thanks for the link, Liron...]  A devastating argument against the existence of God (any God, but especially a Judo-Christian one).  The longer I live and the more I think, the less I find the concept of God has any use for me.  So be it.  

{ Daniel Dennett agrees: common-sense religion. }

While I was out, the Intelligent Design wars raged.  C'mon.  We all know that there are religious people out there who believe God created the heavens and the Earth and so on, and that evolution is a bogus scientific theory.  That is their right.  But to say this belief is science is ridiculous.  It is [merely] a belief, and a belief unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. 

{ Bill Maher has it right: "New Rule: You don’t have to teach both sides of a debate, if one side is a load of crap".  [ via Panda's Thumb ] }

{ Interestingly, the Vatican does not think Intelligent Design is science, either.  Neither do Nobel Laureates, which is a little less surprising... }

{ Are you a Pastafarian?  The NYTimes, of all sources, says Pastafarianism gains prominence and support in intelligent design drive.  I have a Pastafarian tee-shirt, and I wear it proudly :)  }

{ One more note, Geoffrey Moore has a blog (!) and it is called Dealing with Darwin (!!) and he posted this great missive from Davos, where he hosted a roundtable.  I love this: "In the world of economics, it is the U.S. that believes in natural selection, and it is Europe, specifically the EU and its leading countries, which clings to an outmoded ideology of intelligent design."  Exactly. }

I thought these guys were pretty cool, giant jellyfish are invading Tokyo!  I am not making this up. 

This is going to be a great year for bike racing.  Of course if you're a Lance Armstrong fan - like I am - you're going to miss Lance.  But now the field is wide open!  A lot of people think Jan Ulrich is going to win the Tour this year, but I don't know...  Levi Leipheimer beat him in the Tour of Germany.  And then there is George Hincapie, and Floyd Landis, and that's just the Americans. 

Oh, and there's a new tour on the block, the Tour of California!  Sponsored by Amgen, the ToC features a pretty cool route, and it finishes just a few miles from my house in Thousand Oaks!  Excellent.

BTW, if you're suffering Lance withdrawals, check out this two part interview with lance in Velonews...

My favorite new blog: The Dilbert Blog.  It is Scott Adams at his best, which means it is very good.  And lest you think it is all office weirdness, it isn't; for example Dog catches Car:  "You know the old joke about the dog that chases cars – 'What would he do if he caught one?'  I was reminded of that when I read that Hamas won an election victory.  I imagine a room full of Hamas leaders looking at each other behind closed doors and saying, 'Oh crap, we won.'

This is pretty cool - a game for a "404 page".  (This is the error page you get when you go to a website and request a page which isn't there.)  [ via digg, where they call it "the best 404 page ever", which may be a little farfetched; there is some stiff competition :)   ]  

I liked this: zero-sum thinking from John Hagel.  "In a conversation with Jack Welch earlier this week, he raved about Rich Kaarlgard’s recent column in Forbes on “World’s Worst Disease”.  No, Rich is not talking about cancer, AIDS or avian flu – he is talking about “zero-sum thinking” – the belief that if one person gains, other people must inevitably lose."  This could be the defining difference between right and left. 

This is awesomely useful: identify a font.  Have you ever had a sample of a font, but didn't know the name of the face?  This is your tool...  I tried it with a few and it works every time. 

Business 2.0 have come out with their annual 101 dumbest moments in business.  I always look forward to this, but I must say I found this years' a bit disappointing.  I think they tried too hard to write funny captions, instead of trying to find funny stories.  The net result was, well, kind of dumb.  Anyway I link, you decide. 

Fast Company: the beauty of simplicity.  "It is innovation's biggest paradox: We demand more and more from the stuff in our lives--more features, more function, more power--and yet we also increasingly demand that it be easy to use.  And, in an Escher-like twist, the technology that's simplest to use is also, often, the most difficult to create.

{ Paul Graham touched a similar theme in Ideas for Startups.  "Simplicity takes effort-- genius, even.  The average programmer seems to produce UI designs that are almost willfully bad.  I was trying to use the stove at my mother's house a couple weeks ago.  It was a new one, and instead of physical knobs it had buttons and an LED display.  I tried pressing some buttons I thought would cause it to get hot, and you know what it said?  "Err."  Not even "Error."  "Err."  You can't just say "Err" to the user of a stove.  You should design the UI so that errors are impossible.  And the boneheads who designed this stove even had an example of such a UI to work from: the old one.  You turn one knob to set the temperature and another to set the timer.  What was wrong with that?  It just worked."  I love a good rant :)  }

My favorite product announcement during the hiatus was LaCie's Lego Bricks.  [ via Gizmodo ]  These are external disk drives which are - of course - stackable.  Up to 500GB.  Excellent. 

Oh, and while I was out, Salon celebrated their tenth anniversary.  Now that's pretty cool.  I mostly disagree with Salon writers, they are pretty much at the left edge of reason, but it is a great online magazine.  I can well remember when they were hailed as the great new wave of the future.  It hasn't quite turned out that way - yet - but they have survived, and remain relevant.  And King Kaufman is pretty funny, too... 

Wrapping up, here's a pretty cool cartoon, courtesy of the New Yorker (sorry but I did not make note of the issue...).  By the way, we did see "the Penguin Movie", and yes, we loved it.  What delightful and wonderful animals.  { Gerard Vanderleun posted his ownrather pithy synopsis... ) 


dualing 'scopes

Sunday,  01/29/06  07:21 PM


I love it.


three years ago

Sunday,  01/29/06  09:10 PM

While I was out, I passed my three year blogiversary.  I started blogging January 1, 2003.  So that means on any given day, it is possible to see what I wrote last year, two years ago - and now - three years ago!  Wow.  I added a little link over there on the right for three years ago.  Pretty cool.

I'm going to have to do something about the archive pages, the calendar is fine, but choosing a month from a list is getting unwieldy.  Oh well, that's a nice problem to have.  Another mishegosh, if you will :)

And, in other useless blog-format news, I eliminated the blogroll from my navbar.  Poof!  I really don't think blogrolls matter in 2006, do they?  I mean, RSS and OPML are the way to go.  I do still have my blogroll page for those of you looking for my blog recommendations...


Monday,  01/30/06  09:21 PM

Ha!  Two days in a row.  Didn't think I could do it, did you?  I wasn't sure myself :)

So let's see, what's happening...

LGF notes Hamas News is Good News.  "I think the sweeping Hamas victory is by far the best result that could have been hoped for.  I say that not because Hamas is anything other than a blood-drenched terrorist group, but because its lopsided win is an unambiguous reality check into the nature of Palestinian society.  And if there is one thing that the West badly needs, it is more realism and less delusion about the Palestinians."  Good point. 

Well this is a cool rumor; Matt Haughey reports Cisco might be buying Tivo.  That would be cool.  Actually anything which allows Tivo to survive and maybe maybe bring out an HD-compatible PVR would be cool. 

Oh, by the way, I think I'm iterating on Mishegoss #1, the problem of the TV.  I'm seriously considering a Fujitsu P55XHA40US.  It is very expensive, and very beautiful.  Stay tuned!

Joel Spolsky ponders What Makes it Great?  So here's my answer: It makes you feel good about yourself.  I know, this isn't helpful as a product requirement, but that's what makes something great... 

This follows on his previous post, the first in a series, What is Design?  Although it pains me to take issue with Joel, when he writes that design does not involve aesthetics I differ strongly.  I believe he means aesthetics in a superficial way - he contrasts decoration with design, for example, but I would claim there is a deeper more fundamental sense of aesthetics which influences design strongly.  Exemplified by W=UH!

Jeff Jarvis posted a great rant: Deconstructing the Newspaper.  [ via Brad Feld ]  "Newspapers waste too much money on ego, habit, and commodity news the public already knows.  In an era of shrinking circulation, classified, and retail ad revenue — and in the face of shrinking audience and increasing competition — papers have to find new efficiencies and cut these expenses to concentrate instead on their real value (which, I’ll argue, is local reporting)."  As they say, read it all. 

One of those bloggers who consistently hits the nail on the head is Jeff Atwood.  Here he does it again: Google is the Help Menu.  "Local help simply can't compete with Internet search. I'll go even further-- if you are building local help files for your application, you're wasting your time.  And more importantly, you are wasting your users' time."  A fascinating point.  We are having an active debate about this at Aperio.  Should we have local help?  Or post a Wiki?  Or do both? 

Here's something for Lance: a USB flash drive shaped as a wristband!  Livestrong indeed.  [ via Gizmodo

Slate takes a look at Disney's acquisition of Pixar: The $6 Billion Man.  My opinion: in retrospect, this is going to be really big.  As Disney and Apple remake digital entertainment. 

David Strom takes a look into the future with Intel: Total Recall.  It looks cool, and scary, and entirely plausible.  The world is becoming more and more virtual. 

I saved this old link: baseball season opens with two innings on jumbotron.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

Here's Clive Thompson's take: even better than the real thing, andeven better, part 2.  "Personally, I think we should just skip the inevitable transition point here, and emulate South Korea: Instead of televising actual real-life games, let's simply broadcast video-game matches."

You must be this tall to have an opinion: 




New Yorker (01/09/06)

Monday,  01/30/06  10:06 PM



Perfect.  The New Yorker strikes again...


Tuesday,  01/31/06  11:14 PM

Three days in a row - woo hoo.  I know, so what.  Okay, let's make a pass, shall we?

This is kind of interesting:  The Economist reports, "Iran is finally beginning to feel a noose tighten around it.  For several years, western countries have suspected that the Islamic Republic has been developing nuclear weapons, and for just as long Iran’s falsehoods, evasions and hard-nosed negotiating have fed those suspicions.  Yet Iran has been adept at dividing those who would make it suffer any consequences.  On Monday January 30th, however, America, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, joined by the European Union's representative, agreed that Iran's case should be reported to the United Nations Security Council."  As I'm sure you'll remember, this was the first step with Iraq, too... 

Not a good idea:  Taking on Cory Doctorow.  A company called Star-Force makes some sort of copy protection scheme.  Cory posted about it, and so a PR flack at Star-Force sent Cory a bullying email.  Ooh, bet that scared him :)  "Thank you for your response.  I have appended it to my original post and have forwarded it to the Chilling Effects project to be part of the permanent record of abusive attempts by companies to silence their critics."  I look forward to episode II, Star-Force strikes back... 

Ouch!  Google Earnings Disappoint, Shares Plunge.  That sound you hear is air  leaking from the balloon... 

Not real world: Dave Winer, a glass half empty kind of guy (when it comes to politics, anyway), reports: "Basically the state of the union is so bad that I'd rather crawl into my TV set and live in a fictional presidency."  I've never even watched The West Wing, and so I can't get too upset about its cancellation.  But those are real terrorists out there, Dave... 

In other news, Samuel Alito was confirmed 58-42 as our newest Supreme Court judge.  So be it, yawn.  Back to your regularly scheduled programming! 

Frank Petrie opines: It's Not Easy Being Steve Jobs.  "This conundrum is starting to come to a head.  Since we always expect Mr. Jobs to WOW us with 'One More Thing …,' people seem to get more and more ho-hum every Macworld about the announcements.  They’re ready and geared to whine."  There's an element of truth in this, but he still manages to do it; take Disney buying Pixar, that was a WOW. 

And putting on those Stevenotes isn't easy, either; here's a peek Behind the Magic Curtain.  "To a casual observer it is just a guy in a black shirt and jeans talking about some new technology products.  But it is in fact an incredibly complex and sophisticated blend of sales pitch, product demonstration and corporate cheerleading, with a dash of religious revival thrown in for good measure."  There are zero other CEOs who's speeches I look forward to and watch via webcast.  [ via Liron Shapira ]

I've been looking into new TVs, along with possibly a new receiver.  There is some pretty cool new stuff out there!  And some pretty amazing weirdness, too...  such as a $485 wooden volume knob.  I am not making this up, but I hope they are.  [ via Mark Frauenfelder

This is pretty cool - a sculpture which is the 3D shadow of a 4D object!  "The subject of the projection is a regular 4-dimensional solid of intermediate complexity, an 'octacube.'  It has 24 vertices, 96 edges and 96 triangular faces, which enclose 24 three-dimensional 'rooms.'  Physically, the sculpture is a giant puzzle of 96 triangular pieces cut from stainless steel and bent into spherical shape."  Do I have to say - I want one! 

Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Recruiting.  Great stuff.  I particularly liked the shopping center test: "Suppose you're at a shopping center, and you see the candidate.  He is fifty feet away and has not seen you.  You have three choices: (1) beeline it over to him and say hello; (2) say to yourself, 'This shopping center isn't that big; if I bump into him, then I'll say hello, if not, that's okay too;' (3) get in your car and go to another shopping center. My contention is that unless the candidate elicits the first response, you shouldn't hire him."  I conducted three interviews today, and I heartily agree with this (two "yes", one "no"). 

Apropos: Malcom Gladwell on The Talent Myth.  "Are smart people overrated?"  Although the principle can be carried too far, I say, "no, they aren't"; intelligence is the primary metric I use for choosing employees.  There are all sorts of other factors like experience, skills, track record, personality, you name it, but that's #1.

Doc Searles tookthis beautiful shot of a So Cal sunset.  "It's amazing how little Winter we've had this year.  Meaning how little rain: almost none.  All of it has hit North of here.  The forecast is for a high of at least 70 degrees (21 Celsius) all week.  With no rain...   Meanwhile, we're out on bikes and rollerblades, dining outside at the beach, living in a SoCal brochure.  What hell.




shades of grey

Tuesday,  01/31/06  11:37 PM

Check this out!  What an awesome illustration of the relatively in human perception:




Return to the archive.