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Archive: June, 20

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how did I get here?

Sunday,  06/01/08  09:25 AM

Do you ever look at your life and think "how did I get here"?  Mine is sometimes borderline ridiculous.

On Friday afternoon I did my usual Rockstore ride.  Usually I do it in one go, but for some reason I stopped to smell the flowers, or rather, to view the Pacific Ocean; at a certain point along Mulholland Drive you can see the ocean to the left, and the Conejo Valley to the right.  It was a bright clear day with a beautiful view, and I stopped to enjoy it.  Sometimes I pretend my iPod is prescient; it foretells the future by picking songs while on "random play".  So while I'm sitting there, my crystal ball iPod picked Eddie Money's "two tickets to paradise".  I tried to figure it out; huh, why did it choose that?

That night I ended up taking my daughter Alex, her boyfriend Nathan, his friend Des, and Des' girlfriend Madi to a concert; we saw Thrice and Circa Survive at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood.  O.M.G.  Of course!  Des is ... Eddie Money's son.  I am not making this up.

Thrice! - in concert at the Avalon...

Thrice tickets

In the middle of the concert - which was awesome by the way; I had never heard of Thrice, but they're great - I found myself thinking about "two tickets", and how weird and wonderful life can be, and the thought sprang into my head, "how did I get here?"


back in the saddle

Sunday,  06/01/08  09:48 AM

Yesterday I rode the fabulous Ojai Valley Century with my friend Tim Huber.  It was a great event; interesting and beautiful route, good organization, perfect SAG, and [thanks to the organizers] excellent weather.  It wasn't the hardest century I've ever ridden - two good climbs, about 5,000' total - but we rode it at a nice brisk pace; I finished in a respectable 5:45 riding time.

One of the cool things about the ride was a professional photographer strategically positioned at the bottom of a descent; here's what I looked like:

Ole - Ojai Valley Century

If you're a regular reader you may be wondering how my chest felt; well, let's just say Motrin is a good thing :)  I will say sleeping seems to hurt more than riding, so I've been riding more and sleeping less... 

Next up: the Eastern Sierra Double Century next weekend.  Stay tuned for that!


Sunday,  06/01/08  08:59 PM

Friday I was talking with a friend and said I wasn't doing anything this weekend.  I lied.  Between the "how did I get here" concert on Friday night and riding the Ojai Valley Century yesterday, I had a pretty full weekend.  But today, I did nothing. 

Well, not really nothing, because I spent the day playing with my new TivoHD.  I installed it last weekend, and we've been using it all week, but Friday afternoon the Time Warner guy came and plugged in their multicast cable card, and Poof!  Yay, Tivo with HD, baby.  What could be better than that?  I gleefully downloaded all the guide data for 400+ digital channels, and spent most of the day watching all sorts of random stuff.  Track and field.  Baseball.  Old movies.  Even a biography of Hedy Lamarr, who improbably combined being a beautiful actress with inventing spread spectrum encoding.  Anyway it was a great way to do nothing all day.

In a weird way, having the TivoHD is a bit like my new Centro phone.  Each replaced an older less capable version of itself, and each was bought for one specific reason (the Tivo, to get HD, the Centro, for its size).  But with each I've discovered all sorts of little improvements which together make them way better.  An interesting lesson in user experience...

But meanwhile, it was all happening!  A busy weekend...

I can't believe it, but the Democrats actually seem to be self-destructing in realtime.  Unbelievable.  Who could have believed six months ago that any Republican could have a chance against any Democrat?  But somehow it has happened; John McCain cleanly emerged from the pack, and has moved steadily toward the middle (plus, he could be the Republican least associated with George Bush).  Meanwhile Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have spent the year tearing each other down and committing unforced errors.  Obama has now thrown his whole church under the bus, and is confronted with an Iraq dilemma, while Clinton wins big in Puerto Rico after losing the weird debate over whether to seat delegates from Florida and Michigan.  At this point I can't possibly vote for either Obama or Clinton.  There had to be some great Democrat candidates out there, but where are they?

the 2008 Giro podiumCongratulations to Alberto Contador, who today won the Giro d'Italia!  Wow.  He didn't even know he was invited, until a week before it started, and he managed to survive one of the toughest and most competitive grand tours in memory.  Unbelievable.  He is definitely the best rider in the Peloton right now.  (Even though it must be said, I still believe Michael Rasmussen won last year's Tour de France.)

Mike PiazzaWow, I missed this; Mike Piazza has announced his retirement.  To me he'll always be a Dodger, and when, inevitably, he is elected to the hall of fame, I hope he'll be inducted as a Dodger.  There will be those who support Roy Campenella, and those for Johnny Bench, but for my money he was the best catcher of all time.  Certainly the best hitting catcher, and while his arm was suspect, his handling of pitchers was masterful.  He will be missed.

Lexus LS600hLTTAC likes the 2008 Lexus LS600hL.  Me, too.  It could be the best luxury sedan ever built.  If it makes a statement at all, it's: "I liked this car, so I bought it".

I know I said this before, but what is it with start buttons in cars?  Would anyone really buy a car because it starts with a button instead of a key?  It's like cupholders, only less practical.

the Fremont theaterJason Kottke links photos from vanishing America.  Hauntingly beautiful...

square watermelons!And so here we have...  square watermelons.  Wow, just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought...






user experience

Monday,  06/02/08  09:41 PM

Hi all; here's some musings on user experience...

<essay optional=completely comments=welcomed>

I’ve had a couple of “user” experiences recently that reinforced each other, and wanted to share some observations.

First, I bought a new phone, a Centro, to replace my old Treo, and second, I bought a new Tivo, a TivoHD, to replace my old Tivo Series/1.  In each case there was one single feature that drove the purchase decision (phone = smaller size, TivoHD = HD support).  And each case after having the new gadget, I am delighted by a whole raft of improvements and new features that I didn't know about.

So first, the conclusions, and second, some discussion.

  • People make purchase decisions for simple reasons, often one single factor.
  • People’s subsequent satisfaction or delight (or dissatisfaction or frustration) is driven by an overall experience that includes many complicated factors.

The implications for product design, packaging, and positioning are interesting.

If people make a purchase decision for one single factor, you want to provide that capability, and feature it alone in packaging and positioning.  But different people might value different things.  I bought a Centro because of its size, but someone else might buy one because it was cute, or sounds good, or has a nice keyboard.  So you have to figure out the set of individual factors that drive purchases, implement those, and feature those in advertising, packaging, sales demos, etc.  A small set is good, for simplicity and to avoid confusion. However there are many other factors that you know people will like, but that will not drive a sale.  For example it is cool that you can charge a Centro with just a USB cable, but that alone would never drive a sale.  These characteristics should not be “on the box”, or featured in advertising.  For an example of this, contrast Apple packaging with Microsoft packaging.  Apple tends toward simple messages, like one thing, while Microsoft seems to cover their entire package with bullets.

If people are delighted by the overall experience, you should include a bunch of other characteristics.  The essence of delight is positive surprise.  I bought a phone for its size, so I knew how big it was, and while I like the size, that was not going to delight me.  But I had no idea I could charge the phone from a USB cable, so finding that out was delightful.  How did I learn of this?  The product itself told me; “did you know” tips are a good way to share this sort of stuff.  (It is easier for users to digest one feature at a time, and that way they remain delighted for a while as they keep learning about new features.)

The “delight” can go the other way too; if people are consistently frustrated by a new gadget, they will like it less and less.  For example what if my new phone kept dropping calls, or inconsistently synced with my computer?  (Or was just plain hard to figure out?)  That would be irritating, and the fact that the phone was small would be outweighed by the ongoing irritation.  Even though people buy stuff for simple reasons, they evaluate them over time based on a whole bunch of more complicated ones.

For a personal analogy, think of a major purchase decision you recently made… a car, or a house (or a purse, or a piece of furniture).  You probably bought it for one or a small number of simple reasons (often including appearance!)  And then as you used it over time, your opinion has evolved based on a lot of more complicated reasons, to the point where you might recommend it to a friend, or not, based on entirely different reasons from the ones which determined your purchase.

I know, this isn’t any deep insight, but it just struck me as somewhat non-obvious and interesting...



Monday,  06/02/08  09:52 PM

Well as of today I am no longer the Motrin man; I've gone off the stuff cold turkey.  Felt okay and even worked in a nice 25 mile ride, although a fit of hiccups was not a good thing.  Sometimes a bruise is just a bruise, whew.

Today for some reason the people at StumbleUpon decided to feature this blog; I've received hundreds of referrals that led to thousands of page views.  Interesting, I cannot explain why, but I'm happy to have the visitors.  Perhaps some of you will enjoy the site and bookmark it or subscribe to the feed...  in any event thanks for stopping by.

Okay, so let's make a pass on the blogosphere, shall we?

Now that Obama's nomination as Democratic candidate seems assured, we're starting to see a bit more criticism in the press; like this: should have walked before they made him run.  Ironically I think this will help; right now there are some - possibly including me - who could like him but are turned off by the sense of entitlement that seems to surround him.  Turn him back into a normal person, and he's probably quite likeable.

Obama and McCainThe always reliable and interesting Victor Davis Hanson gives his autopsy of the primaries, including advice for both candidates.  "There is a certain irony here. In a year that for historical and contemporary reasons should be a Democratic shoo-in, the Democrats have nominated about the only candidate who can lose in November, the Republicans the only one of their own who can still win it."  Still you'd have to say Obama has the edge, given Democratic demographics.  He's bound to move toward the center once the nomination is secure.

One more thing: Obama is going to have to stop changing positions.  I realize some of this is inevitable, but he's starting to remind everyone a little too much of the twistable turnable man, John Kerry.

Centros!More on the Centro, and the iPhone...  So apparently I'm not the only one who likes the Centro; Engadget reports Palm's share is up because of it.  Nice.  And this was apparently at the expense of Apple, who's share went down, despite selling a passel of iPhones.  Not everyone has had a great iPhone experience; Brad Feld is reconsidering using an iBrick.  In fairness his problems seem more Vista-related than iPhone-related.

Joel Spolsky pontificates about Office Space: "During the lease negotiation, I sent the landlord a long list of upgrades we wanted -- at our expense, of course.  Glass partitions, floor-to-ceiling mosaic tile, imported German fittings by Dornbracht, granite and marble -- and that was just what we wanted for the shower.  I think the building management went into a little bit of shock.  What?  You want nice?  Unheard of.  Don't you know that you're going to have to pay money for nice?"  We just built out a new building ourselves, so I could relate.  Our philosophy is a bit different to his, though; we go for nice and cheap instead of just nice.  I think we ended up with nice, pretty much, but we also sent a message with cheap that we're not Google or Microsoft.  Yet.  And have no aspirations to be like either one.

Dilbert - cubiclesAnother place where we disagree is the office vs cube thing.  Joel is a passionate defender of giving every engineer their own office.  We created an array of 40 9x9 cubes, surrounded by 10 conference rooms.  Every engineer has a laptop (anyway), so they can pretty easily move into a conference room when they have to, either to work quietly, have a meeting, conduct a conference call with a client, or fight with their boyfriend.  Or maybe just a change of scenery.  Meanwhile we think the cubes foster a team feeling and design crosstalk that we couldn't get from a bunch of offices.  A row of closed doors kind of scares me.  Yes of course I have a cube like everyone else :)

Peter Bright has published part III of the series chronicling his conversion from Windows to OS X.  This article gives us a nice overview of the Mac OS internals, including why Objective C was chosen as the "system" language.  Peter notes, as he did before, the difference in UI consistency between Windows (not so much) and OS X (quite a lot).  A key difference is that while Apple engineers pretty much eat their own dogfood, at Microsoft just about every team has their own set of nonstandard controls!

In the same vein, Jeff Atwood wonders whatever happened to UI consistency?  "And for my money, nothing is more disappointing than the overall fit and finish of Vista, which is truly abysmal. It's arguably the worst of any operating system Microsoft has ever released."  Menus, buttons, windows, scrollbars, each team seems to be rolling their own – within Microsoft.  And third parties just make things worse.  This is what makes Windows such a UI mess.  Either because it is easier to use the standard controls or harder not to, Apple developers seem to use them, which is the source of the relative consistency.

If, like me, you have wondered how Microsoft is going to escape from the Vista swamp, here's part of the answer: Microsoft warns hardware makers to begin testing Windows 7 ASAP.  They're going to rush it out, partially to fix the most egregious faults of Vista (backward compatible video drivers!) and partly just to change the momentum; Vista's reputation is now irreparably damaged.  I think this is a good move.  Maybe they'll even fix paging?  Nah...

Microsoft Silverlight logoThis is going to move the share needle: New Microsoft-HP Live Search deal is all about Silverlight.  Well not all about Silverlight, search share is a big part of it too.  The power of defaults in action...  Still, having HP bundle Silverlight instead of Flash is a pretty big deal.  And pretty rotten for Aperio, now we have to make sure everyone knows how to install Flash.  It's not like we're going to abandon Flash for Silverlight just because of this.  And it's not like many other vendors are going to either.  So HP will basically be reducing the functionality of their machines - and increasing their support costs - because Microsoft paid them to do it.

Finally, here we have goosh, the Google shell.  Now that's cool.


Tuesday,  06/03/08  09:59 PM

So I had a great day today...  spent the day in Vista.  Lots of exciting things moving at Aperio.  The company is getting big enough now that there are many things moving in parallel that I don't know about in detail; discovering them is exciting.  Of course there are the usual "people" challenges as you grow, but it sure beats the alternative. 

Apparently Obama has accumulated enough superdelegate votes to win the Democratic nomination.  Whew!  Now on to the real debate - which will center on the economy, I think, not on Iraq - and on to each candidates' selection for running mate.  I think there is zero chance Obama will pick Clinton, by the way.

You've got to love Bridget Bardot, an ardent animal rights supporter, her opposition to barbaric Muslim rituals has gotten her convicted of being a racist.  We need a new word, like culturist, for someone who is biased against certain cultures.  That would be me, for example, I do not believe all cultures are equal.

wine!Cliff Kuang, guestblogging for Jason Kottke, wonders why people will pay for good wine but not for good food.  First the premise is wrong; the same people who spend money for great wine will do so for great food.  Next, value is not linear; a $100 bottle isn’t 10X better than a $10 bottle.  (Never mind that most $10 wine is undrinkable, so the $100 bottle is likely infinitely better.)  The real question is simply, is the $100 bottle worth $100?  If someone spends the money, they clearly think so.  There is an experience to be enjoyed, and a value associated with it.  The market decides.  If there was no market for $100 wine, nobody would make it.  Similarly if nobody ever wanted to go to the French Laundry or Michael’s, then they would not exist.  But people do like to pay for a great meal with great friends and great wine, so they do.  Nobody is holding a gun to their head.  For myself, I can't think of too many things I enjoy more than a fine meal with friends, accompanied by a fine wine.

Eclipse VLJPhilip Greenspun with the latest on VLJs (very light jets).  I am following this market with great interest :)  How great would it be to own your own little jet?  But they still cost too much :(

The NYTimes looks at Disney's acquisition of Pixar, two years ago.  "When Disney bought its rival, Pixar, in 2006 for $7.4 billion, many people assumed the deal would play out like most big media takeovers: abysmally...  But two years into the integration of Pixar - and as the company rolls out 'Wall-E,' a risky love story about robots that is estimated to cost at least $180 million - the merger is notable for how well it’s faring."  Seems like Robert Iger has really turned things around at Disney.  Mergers are fascinating things...

A classic from John Gruber: but that's all.  "'I have nothing against iPhone. It’s great,' says Manjit Singh, CIO at Chiquita Brands International Inc.  'But we're a BlackBerry shop, and I don’t think iPhone brings anything new to the table.  It has a great user experience, but that’s all'".  Oh.

This is cool: TuneCore gets you on iTunes for $30.  This is really enabling the long tail, huh?



all truths are simple

Wednesday,  06/04/08  05:52 PM

All truths are simple.  Seems simple, but seems true :)

The corollary is that anything which is too complicated is not true, or perhaps is not fully true.  {A classic example of this is particle physics.  Whenever someone tries to explain the nuclear forces, electromagnetism, charged particles, quarks, etc. it is too complicated, so we don't yet know the real truth.  Contrast with special relativity, E = mc2.  That's simple enough to be true.}


Wednesday,  06/04/08  09:00 PM

Crappy day... not much scheduled, but didn't get much done.  Did a ride but felt weak and slow.  Some days are like that.  I hope tomorrow is not...  but in the meantime:

So Obama has won!  Wow, good for him.  And now we will have the great McCain vs Obama election debates.  Or not.  Should be quite interesting :)

Tony Resko is guilty.  Bet we haven't heard the last of that.

Ottmar Liebert - the scent of lightOttmar Liebert has released a new album!  Check out The Scent of Light...  I'm listening to it right now, this is seriously excellent!  :)

Salon's review of Just how stupid are we? is entitled Are you too dumb to vote?  Good question, are you?  "No one thing can explain the foolishness that marks so much of American politics. But what is striking is how often the most obvious cause -- public ignorance -- is blithely disregarded ... We feel uncomfortable coming right out and saying publicly, The People sometimes seem awfully stupid."  What's worse is that The People are getting dumber...

PVRBlog reports TBS ups the ante on annoying commercial insertion.  Whenever I read something like this, I think someone has forgotten their customer.  And when you forget your customer, you're screwed.

Milky Way infrared mosaic imageThis is pretty cool: astronomers make 5Gp image of Milky Way.  "It's called the Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire, and extraordinary it is: the Spitzer Space Telescope created a 180-foot-long mosaic of 800,000 high-resolution snapshots, all on glorious 400,000-pixel by 13,000-pixel display at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in St. Louis."  I'm trying to find a high resolution downloadable version; no luck so far.

sunset on MarsNASA's image of the day: sunset on Mars.  Whoa.  Looks like a Roger Dean illustration for a Yes album cover :)

It is pretty easy to get jaded about our space exploration, but really the recent missions to Mars have been phenomenally successful.  The planning required for zero failures is hard to fathom.  My hat's off to the great team at JPL!



Thursday,  06/05/08  11:07 PM

An interesting day...

  • Today GE announced they are entering the digital pathology market.  Always a bit scary to have an 800lb gorilla in your market, but really it is a good thing; they are validating the market ($2B!), and still a long way from having a competitive product ("about two years").  It certainly adds some urgency to our efforts :)
  • Spent considerable time today organizing data from all the refinances I've done on my house.  I've lived it in for seven years now, and have refinanced seven times.  Each yielded a solid inch of paper.  Getting out a few data like interest rates, property taxes, appraisals etc was not easy.  Surely this is old technology right, someday loans won't be like this?
  • Sapra Street - 1/2 mile at 18%I had a nice ride with my friend Mark, capped by our ascent of the famed Sapra Street in Thousand Oaks, 1/2 mile at 18%.  (Please click the link / picture at right for a photo tour from our ride.)  We are getting ready for the Eastern Sierra Double Century, leaving tomorrow.
  • Mood = good.  Listening to more of Ottmar Liebert's new album, The Scent of Light.  I'm more of a rocker - usually I would prefer Joe Satriani to, well, just about anyone - but I really like Ottmar's stuff...

Bummer: Americans are $1.7T poorer.  Declines in home values and the stock market take their toll...  Given that, you'd have to say the fact that we're not in a recession is amazing.

This sounds like an Onion headline: Vladimir Putin makes satirizing him illegal.  And thereby makes satirizing him impossible...

"green blade" in Santa MonicaInhabitat reports on Jean Nouvel's "green blade", a new 45 story building in Santa Monica.  $400M is being spent on 177 residential units, ranging in size from 3,400 to 9,400 sq ft.  Wow.

With Apple's WWDC coming up next week, the blogosphere has reached fever pitch trying to figure out what will be announced.  John Siracusa did his annual WWDC Keynote Bingo card: "This edition of WWDC keynote bingo presented some challenges. In the past, there's been more than enough rumor and unfounded hype to fill the board. This year, the near certainty of the 3G iPhone combined with the absence of any remotely credible reports of other exciting announcements has made square selection a struggle."  I must say I think he did a great job.  The "Mobile Me" stuff seems the most interesting, as Apple tries to sell a service...

This is awesome: fake bus stop keeps Alzheimer's patients from escaping.  "'It sounds funny,' said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, 'but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.' The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place."  Wild.  What a pleasant solution.

Technologist turned politically junkie Dave Winer introduces NewsJunk, "T h e  F r e s h e s t  P o l i t i c s  f o r  N e w s  J u n k i e s".  Pretty cool :)

RepRap - 3D printer that can copy itselfFinally, how cool is this?  RepRap, a 3D printer which can make copies of itself!  I want one!

Unfortunately for Skynet fans, this machine can make the parts of which it is composed, but requires a human to assemble it.  Still, that's just a little detail I'm sure they'll work out...



quadruple double

Sunday,  06/08/08  01:00 PM

Yesterday my friend Mark Burson and I completed our fourth double century of the year, the Eastern Sierra Double.  It was amazing, a great route starting in Bishop, CA, climbing up through Mammoth Lakes and June Lake to Mono Lake, and then back through the East Sierra badlands near the Nevada border, for a total of 10,000' of climbing.  The highlight was definitely the last 30 miles from Benton, downhill and downwind, averaging near 30mph all the way.  Took me 14:07 of riding time, which I'm pleased with considering the amount of climbing, and the altitude (most of the ride is above 7,000', and portions peek over 8,000').

Here's a picture of me at the 130 mile mark, having just crested the Sagehen Summit.  Note the amazing Sierras in the background.

at the Eastern Sierra Double

This was also my third consecutive weekend doing at least 100 miles; last weekend I rode the Ojai Century, and the weekend before a 100-mile training ride.  Next weekend?  Father's Day!  I will do nothing :)

By the way, some of you may be wondering what's happening with Ole's Ride for Cancer.  Well it is very much still something I'm going to do, I'm making plans for the Furnance Creek 508.  I just need to get organized about managing sponsorships, thanks for your patience and please stay tuned...


Sunday,  06/08/08  10:20 PM

Quiet day today; got up early in Bishop, drove home (uneventfully), and hung out, getting a little work done in the process...  Days after a long ride always feel a bit anticlimactic...  I guess it was relaxing and I did get some stuff done, so I shouldn't complain.  Still.

The other day I came across GE Research's group blog From Edison's Desk.  This has to be the most boring blog ever, in fact, really it isn't a blog, just a series of carefully polished press releases.  You can feel the personality being sucked out of each post by a relentless marketing department.  So the subject matter of these posts is interesting, why aren't the posts themselves?  I think it is because the essence of blogging is personal context, you want to feel someone is talking to you.  That is entirely missing.  Also as I've noted before, problems are more interesting than success, and on this blog, every team is executing, every product is wonderful, every business is a big success.  Pretty darn boring :)

3D cell divisionThis is really cool; MIT Technology Review has detailed 3D images of cells.  "There is a revolution afoot in microscopy, as biophysicists come up with ways to image the nanoscale structures of living cells. Using a new technique called 3-D structured-illumination microscopy, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have made some of the most detailed optical images yet of the interior workings of cells, and they are gorgeous."  Such as the 3D cell division shown at right...

So I'm reading trying to read Megan Crane's Names My Sisters Call Me, and it just isn't working.  I really enjoyed English as a Second Language, and sort of enjoyed Everyone Else's Girl, but I think I'm going to give up on this one.  I hate when that happens; you like an author, and you root for them to improve (or at least keep doing what they do), but instead they turn into a parody of themselves.

A perfect counterpoint is the magnificent Patrick O'Brian; I read and enjoyed every single one of the great Aubrey / Maturin books (e.g. Master and Commander), and just recently encountered The Unknown Shore.  It was every bit as good.  And now I've begun The Golden Ocean, and it is great too.  Yay.

museum of natureInhabitat notes the Museum of Nature, by Ilkka Halso.  "Finnish photographer Ilkka Halso’s photographic series ‘The Museum of Nature’ intelligently challenges how we can imagine the natural environment of the future. This collection of images capture a series of man-made structures that enclose nature, protecting it like a relic of the past."  Very cool and just beautiful.

Levi Leipheimer cranks to win the Dauphine prologThis was awesome: Leipheimer wins Dauphine prolog.  I watched this today (via Tivo, it was on Versus); first Thor Hushovd posted a time more than 11 seconds faster than anyone else (it was really short, just 6K), and then Levi beat it.  He looks fast; I was thinking Evans and Valverde would be the contenders to win, but now you have to add Levi to the list...

Techcrunch: Twitter suffers minor period of uptime.  Ouch!  They better be ready for tomorrow (Apple's WWDC, at which Steve Jobs is expected to announce the new 3D iPhone), or they won't suffer any more :)

Speaking of the 3G iPhone, the hype on this announcement is really extraordinary.  The funny thing is that I believe Apple isn't going to announce a new phone at all, instead, they're going to announce a new release of the software (basically, OS X for the iPhone), and feature new third-party applications for the iPhone platform.  (John Gruber agrees.)  The D in WWDC stands for Developer...


Monday,  06/09/08  09:16 PM

Hi all!  Today was iPhone 3G day; unless you were hidden under a rock somewhere, you were probably inundated with iPhone news.  I had a reasonably productive day although as usual on Mondays, my todo list is longer now than it was this morning.  I have this ongoing tension between "real work" (coding, documenting, etc) and "scorekeeping" (mostly emailing back and forth :).

Want to see eight months compressed into eight minutes?  Jason Kottke has a video of the entire Democratic primary.  In case you were, you know, on a space flight to Jupiter or something.

So Alejandro Valverde won stage 1 of the Dauphiné Libéré.  Leaving Thor Hushovd in yellow, by one second, with Levi Leipheimer in third by five.  This is going to be a great race.  Watch for George Hincapie too, he's close.

Ken Griffey hits his 600th home runCongratulations to Ken Griffey for hitting his 600th home run.  I can remember when he was considered the best bet to break Hank Aaron's lifetime homer mark.  That probably won't happen - Griffey had too many injuries, and is now too old - but he's still one of my favorite ballplayers.  Likeable, you know?  Unlike, well, some others we won't mention...

WWDC keynote: Steve Jobs announces iPhone 3GSo, to the iPhone 3G: Wow.  Here's the WWDC keynote if you haven't yet watched it; as always, the Stevenotes are amazing for their form as well as their content.  This one actually featured quite a bit less of Steve himself, but was still really well done.  The demos of various apps (both Apple and third-party) on the iPhone were amazing; just a year ago (right before the iPhone was introduced) such applications on a handheld would have been considered impossible.

I monitored the keynote "live" using Engadget; it was great to get such detailed information, but as usual when covering live events the "latest on top" sequence is confusing.  The only way to do this is to have "latest on bottom" so the whole thing is chronological, and then if you want, you can have "keep scrolled to bottom" logic.

Engadget commented separately on several aspects of the announcements: iPhone 2.0 software, MobileMe, the iPhone 3G details, and the impact on GPS manufacturers like TomTom.  (Slate discusses this, too.)

Meanwhile Crave comments on what we didn't get.  Multimedia messaging, cut and paste, video recording, voice command, bluetooth.  A pretty tame list, seems like we mostly got what we wanted!

I loved John Gruber's take: "The iPhone 3G seemingly only has two major hardware additions: 3G networking and GPS".  Reminds me of his classic recounting of the Chiquita IT guy who said of the iPhone: "It has a great user experience, but that’s all."  At least John didn't say "but that's all" :)

Centro vs iPhone 3G size comparisonFinal iPhone 3G note; you might wonder how I feel having just bought my spiffy little Centro.  Well, nothing announced today makes my Centro any less spiffy, or less little.  (See size comparison of Centro to iPhone 3G at right.)  I still have to have Sprint (due to where I live), and I still prefer a "real" keyboard for email and texting.  But I might get an iPhone solely as a portable GPS unit!

IBM RoadRunner supercomputerIn other computing news, IBM's RoadRunner computer breaks the petaflop barrier.  Very cool.  A tad larger than either a Centro or an iPhone, however...

In October 2003 I posted the Joy of Craftsmanship, about my local bike shop mechanic; for some reason it has been linked and referred a lot lately.  It was a cool post and I still take delight in craftsmanship.



alcohol is not a performance enhancing drug

Tuesday,  06/10/08  08:13 PM

In the public interest I want to report a key finding from personal research: alcohol is not a performance enhancing drug.

Megan graduates from elementary school!Here's what happened: today Megan graduated from Elementary School.  (Yay, Megan, congratulations! - that's her walking up to get her diploma at right...)  And afterward we had a celebratory lunch, together with several other families.  And we had some Pinot Grigio.  Some.  And for whatever reason, thus far unexplainable by science, white wine in the afternoon hits me harder than red wine at night.  So I was buzzed.

Later I went for a bike ride; one of my "usual" routes through Westlake and Hidden Hills, about 25 miles.  Not good.  I was tired, weak, slow, and unmotivated.  I couldn't climb worth a lick.  I couldn't even descend.  I was passed by small children on tricycles.  I thought perhaps I would ride my way to being sober, gaining strength in the process, but it didn't happen; I finished as weak and listless as I started.  It was easily my slowest time ever on that ride.

Anyway with this experiment in hand, I can report: alcohol is not a performance enhancing drug.  I don't think your mileage will vary.


pictures of Iran

Tuesday,  06/10/08  08:29 PM

You might not think about it, but Iran is an extraordinarily beautiful country. 

These days we view them as "an enemy", because of conflicting religous politics, but it was not always so; there was a time when Iran was a staunch U.S. ally, and a time before that when Persia was one of the most influential and advanced countries on Earth. 

How things changed I'll leave to others and other times to explain, but in the meantime I wanted to share this collection of amazing photographs of Iran.  Enjoy.

Armenian Church - North-Western Iran

Cottage in northern Iran

Uramanat - North-Western Iran

Izeh - South-Western Iran

Layalestan - Gilan, Northern Iran

Bagh-e Eram Palace & Gardens - Shiraz

Oroomieh Lake - North-Western Iran

Winter night in Isfahan

Marble Palace - Tehran

Vank Cathedral - Isfahan , Iran

Museum of Fine Arts - Tehran , Iran

Shahzadeh Gardens -Mahan - Kerman

Waterfalls near Shiraz - Iran

Chehel Sotoun Palace Pavilion - Isfahan

Aali Gaapou - Isfahan , Iran

Lahijan - Guilan Province , Iran

Asalem - Khalkhal - Northern Iran

Niasar - Isfahan , Iran

Mansion in Mazanderan - Northern Iran

Pear Orchard - Shiraz

Parandegan   Park in Isfahan

A serene Lake in Guilan, Northern Iran

Latian Lake near Tehran

Margoon waterfall

Outskirts of Shiraz - Iran

Oroumieh Lake - N.W. Iran

Ramsar - Northern Iran

Village of Roodbarak - Norhtern Iran

White Bridge - Ahwaz, South-Western Iran

Chahar Bagh Avenue - Isfahan

Arg-e Kola Farangi - Birjand , Iran

Kohgiluyeh & Boyer Ahmad Province - Iran

Traditional Persian outdoor teahouse

Saayeh khosh - southern Iran

Sistan & Baluchestan province

Sobatan Village - Ardebil

Ferdowsi - toos, Khorasan, Iran


Tuesday,  06/10/08  09:20 PM

A great day today; not only did Megan graduate from Elementary School (yay!) but before the alcohol test I made good progress on some key projects.  I have two kinds of work, "real work", in which I create code, write documentation, or otherwise produce real output, and "scorekeeping", in which I monitor and advise others doing real work.  (There is also, I suppose, "meta-scorekeeping", in which I monitor and advise other scorekeepers :)  Anyway in all my years of managing I have never managed to enjoy scorekeeping as much as real work, and I suppose by now it is hopeless.

Holland over Italy 3-0 in Euro 2008Woo hoo!  Holland's thrilling victory over Italy finally brought Euro 2008 to life!  Yeah, baby, shutting out the defending World Cup champions in the group of death, what could be better than that?  I am so not a soccer fan, but I am now :)  TivoHD to the rescue...

And whew, Kobe & co. staunch the bleeding, win at home over the Celtics.  Another series for the Tivo...

George Hincapie wins stage 2More sports: George Hincapie powers to a win at the Dauphiné Libéré.  Excellent!  Thor Hushovd is still in yellow, with Alejandro Valverde in second and Levi Leipheimer in third; they're separated by five seconds.  The time trial tomorrow should sort things out a bit.

The NYTimes reports Wine may keep liver healthy.  "Recent reports suggest that red wine is a potent force in increasing lifespan, and a new study offers still more good news for wine drinkers. A glass a day, whether white or red, may reduce the risk of developing the nation’s most common liver disorder, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease."  Another point in favor of drinking wine!  [ via Instapundit ]  (Although as noted, alcohol is not a performance enhancing drug :)

TechCrunch: Google app engine 'accidentally' blocks PayPal.  "Google App Engine, their new platform for building and hosting third party web applications, is blocking applications from integrating with PayPal for payments.  Developers who are building apps that use PayPal to handle payments require the application to send a request to the PayPal service.  The URLs used in these requests are all on the domain name.  In Google App Engine apps, requests to these URLs returns a generic ‘download’ error with no specific details."  Wow, whatever happened to "don't be evil"?  Even at their competitive worst, eBay never blocked PayPal URLs(back in the bad old Billpoint days, before eBay capitulated and bought PayPal).

Mike Davidson: I really do think Apple just split the mobile world into two choices: settle for a free phone or buy an iPhone.  Well maybe; my spiffy new Centro wasn't free, and I didn't buy an iPhone.  It is possible that in the wake of the iPhone 3G, cellular providers like Sprint will have to offer Centros for free to keep their subscribers; time will tell...  [ via John Gruber ]


Wednesday,  06/11/08  04:47 PM

I am feeling overwhelmed, guilty, and unproductive.  Too many threads, not enough processors.  Context switching and garbage collection are eating up all my free cycles.  Crud.

Cory Doctorow links Linda "continuous partial attention" Stone on time management: 1) Each day, make a short list of your intentions, 2) List only what you really expect to do that day, 3) Give yourself meaningful blocks of uninterrupted time to focus on each intention, 4) At home, be clear about what technology you'll use and where.  Good advice...

Alejandro Valverde wins Dauphiné time trialToday Alejandro Valverde seized the lead in the Dauphiné Libéré with a blistering time trial, beating Levi Leipheimer by 19 seconds and leaving him 23 seconds ahead overall.  That might be enough to win, unless Levi attacks in the mountains; Cadel Evans is third at 37 seconds back.  A great race brewing!

If you don’t have an hour to watch the Jobsnote from Monday at Apple’s WWDC (at which iPhone 2.0 was introduced, many third-party applications, MobileMe, the iPhone 3G, etc.), then you may want to watch this 60s version.  Pretty cool.

You may have heard Pluto is no longer a planet?  So ... what do we call it?  How about a plutoid?  "Plutoids are celestial bodies in orbit around the Sun at a distance greater than that of Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical) shape, and that have not cleared the neighbourhood around their orbit. The two known and named plutoids are Pluto and Eris. It is expected that more plutoids will be named as science progresses and new discoveries are made."  I love it!  Note that plutoids are not to be confused with Kuiper Belt objects like Sedna and Quaoar.

plug-in Prius hybridToyota have announced that they're going to have plug-in hybrids by 2010.  Wow.  Despite the similarity of name, a plug-in hybrid is an entirely different type of vehicle from a hybrid.  Plug-in hybrids are electric cars, you plug them in to give them energy, whereas garden-variety hybrids are gasoline powered cars, you put gas in them to give them energy.  This is a cool and great reaction to $4.00 gas.  Toyota's track record lends this announcement a great deal more credence than GM's Volt vaporware.

Aston MartinSo apparently Aston Martin is going public.  Cool.  First the split from Ford (yay) and now they're raising money for new product development (yay).  Seems like they're back to being a real company :)  Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but most beholders would agree that Astons are amazingly beautiful.

Mark Pilgrim: Purity.  I love it.  Buzzzzz...




happy Bicycle Day!

Thursday,  06/12/08  09:28 AM

Just wanted to wish you all Happy Bicycle Day!

Megan - bicycle day - June 12, 2001In our house we celebrate June 12 as bicycle day, because it is the anniversary of the first day upon which my daughter Megan was allowed to ride a bike following her successful heart surgery, in 2001 when she was four.  Riding a bike became a symbol that she had "recovered", and indeed if you know Megan she is fully recovered, a high-energy kid, healthy and wonderful. 

(At right is a pic of Megan on the original bicycle day :)

Nowadays we generally celebrate with ice cream (!), and I send a thank you note to Dr. Michael Black, her surgeon, and to Yulun Wang, founder and CEO of Computer Motion, the company which made the robotic arm used to by Dr. Black to perform the surgery.

Thinking about Megan's surgery reminds me of the worst / best day of my life, the day on which the surgery took place; I have vivid memories of wandering the halls with Shirley in the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University, waiting while the surgery was performed...  Megan was born with an Atrial Septal Defect, a little hole between the two upper chambers of her heart; the surgeon takes a small section of the meniscus which surrounds the heart and uses it to patch the hole, all done through a 1" incision using a robotic arm and internal camera!  Amazing fantastic wonderful technology.  If repaired young, as Megan's was, the long term prognosis is excellent, with only a tiny fading scar to show for it.

Today is Megan's last day of school (can it really be summer already!  Wow) and who knows, maybe later we'll go for a little ride together...


school's out for summer...

Thursday,  06/12/08  11:11 PM

... school's out for ever, school's out completely ...

Well okay not completely, but yes today was Megan's last day in Elementary school, so we are now "done"; they've all moved on, there are no more little kids.  And the summer is upon us.  Kind of bittersweet.

Megan and I did take a ride together to celebrate Bicycle Day, a 15 mile lap around Westlake, and it was very nice.  Looking at her long legs it is really hard to picture her as a little four year old.  Man, they do grow up...

And today was a day for reflection in other ways; yesterday I participated in a successful walkthrough of a new Aperio product, really great work on the part of our team, following another last week.  Our next release is by far our biggest ever, with multiple large projects in parallel.  It is amazing to see it all coming together, but also prompts a bit of nostalgia for "the old days" when we were just a little gang, and we all knew what everyone else was doing...

Dude, where's my recessionRetail sales jump by largest amount in 6 months.  There are some big challenges in the economy right now, gasoline / transportation costs and the general bursting of a property bubble among them, but still money is being made and businesses are growing - as is the economy as a whole.

NBA finalsWell, boo; the Lakers lost to the Celtics tonight, after leading by 24 points, and now trail in the series 3-1.  Someone once said a best-of-seven series doesn't start until one team has 3 wins, so I guess this one has now started.  The Lakers better figure something out or before long this one will have ended.

Tomorrow is a big day in sports; Holland plays France in Euro 2008, a clash of favorites, while we have the "Queen stage" of the Dauphiné Libéré, a seven-climb trek over the Croix de la Fer which finishes atop the Col de la Télégraphe that should determine the overall winner.  My picks are Holland and Leipheimer :)

Have you had enough of the iPhone hoopla yet?  No?  Well, then here we have iPhone 3G: everything you wanted to know (but were afraid to ask).  Have a ball.

Meanwhile the Palm Centro is now on Verizon, too.  "Thanks to Verizon's expected announcement today, the top three US carriers now carry the diminutive Garnet device, which Palm actually says is 'off to the strongest start of any smartphone in Palm's history'."  Hey, if iPhone is Pepsi, something has to be Coke, right?

Slashdot links an interview with Douglas Hofstadter, of Godel, Escher, Bach fame.  He's an interesting guy, and GEB is my favorite book of all time, but yet I couldn't even finish I am a Strange Loop.  I think he's mellowed and diffused, and lost a bit of what he'd found.

So are you ready for Friday the 13th?  Hope you're not afflicted with paraskavedekatriaphobia...


long day's journey into Lagos

Friday,  06/13/08  09:20 PM

Ole at the Lagos de CovadongaBack in September 2007, I was in Spain on business, so I decided to visit the Vuelta.  Stage 4, one of the nastiest climbs the Pro Tour ever rides, from Cangas des Onis to the Lagos de Covadonga.  And yes, I rode it myself.  I was not blogging at that time, but I did take a bunch of pictures and wrote an email report for friends.

I've decided to retroactively post the email report, here it is, for your reading and viewing pleasure...






Friday,  06/13/08  10:26 PM

Dutch fans celebrate in BernI am feeling good today...  got some niggling stuff done, which was nice, and enjoyed several interactions with friends, which was nicer.  And had a good solid ride.  And - maybe this is the capper - watched Holland defeat France 4-1 in the Euro 2008 soccer championships.  So in one week they've defeated both of the finalists in the last World Cup, and are now the odds-on favorites to win.  I'm not a big soccer fan but these were entertaining matches, and of course Go Oranjie!

It was also fun going back through my report and pictures from my incredible ride up to Lagos de Covadonga last September; I'm really glad I made time to post that...  I'll have to go back and do some others, too...

Beside Holland, my other pick from yesterday didn't do quite as well; Levi Leipheimer hung in on the Joux-Plane but had a bad moment and wasn't able to gain on Alejandro Valverde, who seems headed for overall victory in the Dauphiné Libéré.  Another tough day tomorrow, we'll see...

In the wake of the dissolution of talks between Yahoo and Microsoft, and a subsequent announcement of a partnership between Yahoo and Google, Mike Arrington comments "I don’t believe that there is anything Yahoo could do at this point to further destroy their business that would surprise me".  Certainly their stock has taken a big hit, and it is hard to see how they have improved their prospects over the past few weeks...  too bad, because we need them as a counterweight to Google.

Instapundit on Google: "A few years ago Google lost its position as an outfit that people trusted because they thought it was run by friendly well-meaning geeks, and became just another big corporation out for the money. I think that's hurt them, and I also think it's sad, if perhaps inevitable".

Google Gears logoAnd in other news, Get ready for a platform war.  Google (Gears) vs. Microsoft (Office).  I totally believe this.  More and more people I know are using Google Apps instead of Microsoft Office, and not only because they cost $0.  (Although, one must say that is a pretty compelling price.)  And the third player from stage left is Apple; those AJAX apps they demoed in conjunction with MobileMe looked pretty slick.  Microsoft is in BIG TROUBLE.

Of course, Google still hasn't figured out how to make money from YouTube.  Will they figure out how to make money from Google Apps?  Have they already?  Time will tell...

So the new Hulk movie is out; Jason Kottke quotes Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw, who pans the movie in Hulk-speak: "Hulk take all effort of cinema, effort getting babysitter, effort finding parking, and Hulk put great green fist right through it. Hulk crush all hopes of entertainment".  So much for seeing that!


A perfectly incredible day: La Vuelta eTapa 17e

Saturday,  06/14/08  04:59 PM

Ole on Alta de Monachil outside Granada, SpainBack in September, 2006, I was in Granada, Spain, and went to watch stage 17 of the Vuelta a Espana, which finished one street over from my hotel.  I wanted to see the last climb of the stage, a Cat 1 climb up Alto de Monachil, a legendary black hole for cyclists, and ended up riding it myself.  I was not blogging at that time, but I did write a long email with embedded pictures for friends.

I've decided to retroactively post the email report, here it is, for your reading and viewing pleasure...






happy Flag Day!

Saturday,  06/14/08  07:51 PM

American FlagHappy Flag Day!  This is an auspicious day for me; in addition to celebrating our Flag, it was my father's birthday (he would have been 85 today) and the anniversary of my first date with Shirley (17 years ago).  Wow.

I celebrated with a nice mountain bike ride today - Sycamore Canyon, up Backbone, down Guadalasca - and by doing quite a bit of nothing.

Well, looks like the Dauphiné Libéré is over; Levi Leipheimer gave it his best shot today, attacking on today's four-climb 233km stage to La Toussuire, but Alejandro Valverde withstood the attacks and remains in yellow.  Tomorrow's time trial could decide it, but Levi would have to make up 1:10 to win.

space shuttleThe space shuttle lands flawlessly; this has become so routine we hardly notice, but the technology here is impressive.  5.7 million miles flown, wow.  There are nine planned missions left before the end of the program.

the Polyphonic SpreeThis is a cool Flash game: The Polyphonic Spree.  Kind of a mini-adventure; no creatures are harmed :)  Check it out.  And oh yeah, by the way, it is an advertisement for a band called The Polyphonic Spree, and features their music from a new album called Quest for the Rest.  Very creative :)






happy Fathers Day!

Sunday,  06/15/08  10:13 PM

Happy Father's Day to y'all; and yes, I did have a very nice one, thank you for asking.  We went out to brunch (pigged out rather seriously - all you could eat ice cream!), hung out by the pool, and otherwise did very little.  I managed to do some fatherly things like fix pool rafts and inflate them (!), and gave a respectable account of myself in a few squirt gun fights.  The less said about the bird nest I found in the pool toy storage chest, the better.

Cedar Rapids floodingTigerHawk on Iowa's Katrina.  It seems to be under-reported, but there's a massive flooding crisis in Eastern Iowa, with a good bit of Cedar Rapids under water...  not everyone is having a happy Father's Day, unfortunately :(

AlterNet: How Breast Cancer Became Big Business.  "Since 2002, the group Breast Cancer Action has promoted its 'Think Before You Pink' campaign.  It's fighting 'pinkwashing,' which is when corporations try to boost sales by associating their products with the fight against breast cancer.  Pinkwashing is a form of slacktivism - a campaign that makes people feel like they're helping solve a problem, while they're actually doing more to boost corporate profits.  Pinkwashing has been around for a while, but is now reaching almost unbelievable levels."  Huh, very interesting...  as they say, please read the whole thing...

Aperio Relay for Life tee-shirtAperio Relay for Life tee-shirtMy company Aperio has joined the fight against breast cancer, not only with our products and services which help cancer researchers and pathologists, but also by joining the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life campaign.  I spent part of tonight happily designing a team tee-shirt - modeled at left (thank you, - and no, sorry but they will not be pink :)

So Alejandro Valverde won the Dauphiné Libéré, congratulations to him, with Cadel Evans second and Levi Leipheimer third.  They were the favorites going in and would be the favorites for the Tour de France too, except of course Levi won't be there because Astana have not been invited.  Which leaves Valverde and Evans as the favorites.  Others might include Damiano Cunigo and Kim Kirchen, both presently competing in the Tour de Suisse...

Kobe BryantYay, Lakers!  They won game 5 today at home, staving off a Boston win on their floor, and earning them a chance to play two games in Boston.  It should be pretty interesting.  One more Laker win sets up a winner-take-all game 7.  Whew.

Euro 2008!So I'm not a soccer fan - at all - but now that Holland have defeated Italy and France and are favored to win Euro 2008, I'll be watching closely.  Two things about watching soccer, first, it is a really simple game (even a total non-expert like me can follow it), and second, it looks really great in HD.  The wider screen format really suits this sport, because you can see more of the field at a time, and so can see all the movement away from the ball.  Beautiful.

Daniel Dilger has posted a long missive about Apple's SproutCore JavaScript framework.  Daniel suggests that this is Apple's answer to Flash, Silverlight, and other client-side development technologies, and that instead they'll be creating more and more Cocoa-like APIs on the client for JavaScript development, enabling rich web apps with nothing more than AJAX.  I don't know enough to comment, but this seems pretty important.  It is true that Google have built a whole Office Suite with nothing more than AJAX, and Apple's latest MobileMe apps seem pretty cool, too.  Maybe there really is no need for a client-side runtime other than JavaScript.

Speaking of which, John Gruber asks the iPhone 3G upgrade question.  One thing worth noting in this regard: there is more to 3G than higher speed, it also enables concurrent voice and data.  This allows the "always-on-ness" which makes Blackberrys so compelling.  I've found a qualitative difference since upgrading from my Treo 650 to a Centro, because now my email inbox is always current.



Monday,  06/16/08  08:41 AM

Dear lazyweb, good morning...  Have any of y'all used Xobni, and if so what did you think of it?  Thanks!  (A lot of people seem to like it...)


Monday,  06/16/08  10:38 PM

Hi all - still basking the in glow of Father's Day here...  and enjoying "summer" (yeah I know not yet but it feels like it).

You know what's cool?  So I posted these old cycling trip reports from Granada and Asturias, when I visited (and rode) Vuelta de Espana stages, and somehow the web found them and now I'm getting a bunch of links and hits from people in Spain!  Hola!

I think this might work; John McCain tries positioning Barack Obama as having a Sept 10 mindset.  That resonates for me.

Techcrunch bans AP stories.  So be it.  This is pretty weird, that after all this time the AP would think they could prevent linking and quoting by blogs.  And that they would want to...

BusinessWeek: The iPhone's impact on rivals.  I actually think the biggest impact has been on cellular providers, given the exclusivity AT&T enjoy.  RIM and Palm and Motorola and Nokia and Samsung continue to have distribution because of that.

And of course another big impact has been on consumers; those who don't actually buy an iPhone benefit from lower prices set to compete against iPhones.  As a Sprint Centro customer, I say bring it on!

I seldom mention TidBits, Adam Engst's weekly Mac newsletter which has been continuously published since 1990, but I read it every week, and it remains a valuable resources; check out for example these iPhone details and this Centro review.  Weekly newsletters have had to adapt to the "instant" news world by adding perspective and providing analysis (just like weekly magazines), and TidBits does.

Innovative Watertechture in the Dead SeaThis is way cool: Innovative Watertecture in the Dead Sea.  "In the Dead Sea region, control of water is a source of political friction and presents an ecological quandary that threatens the drinking supply for inhabitants. A research project from New York-based architect Phu Hoang Office seeks to address and solve these site specific issues with ‘No Man’s Land’, a series of artificial islands that would provide recreation, tourist attractions, renewable energy, and create fresh water."  Excellent.  Now to pay for it...

the Think OxGood work: Mythbusters prove electric vehicles outperform gas.  Now, where I can I buy one?  I want an electric vehicle (not to be confused with a gas-powered vehicle like a hybrid).  It should be big enough to hold me, my friend, and my bike, and it should look like a car, not a golf cart.  Is that too much to ask?  {I'd take a Think Ox, pictured at right, but I can't buy one...}

Here's some important research: Chocolate has been found to be a potent anti-cancer agent.  Excellent, now I know why I love chocolate so much.  I'm sure red wine enhances the effect, too :)

Gerard Vanderleun's synchronicity...  I love it.

Jason Burns notes the LATimes breaking news.  They are beyond parody.


ties can be a good thing

Tuesday,  06/17/08  10:35 PM

So today, [I hope you are sitting down] I wore a tie.  I’m one of those people nobody can ever buy gifts for, so for Father’s Day my kids bought me a tie, kind of as a joke, but it was a really nice Nicole Miller tie with bikes on it (!) so I thought I’d wear it to my office.  I'm pretty sure this was the first time I've ever worn a tie at Aperio.  What a great thing; so flattering everyone noticed and commented.  (I am always surprised to find how “visible” I am :)  Some thought I had a job interview (yeah right) and some that we had a board meeting (not a bad guess) and some that I was raising money for a new company (now that would be cool :).  Anyway it made for a great day.  I’ll have to do it again, maybe once a year (I could celebrate Bicycle Day!).

Reflecting on this, when you give a gift, you are really giving a series of feelings.  First there is the way the person feels when they receive the gift.  Then there is the feeling they get when they use the gift (whatever it is, and however many times they use it).  When I'm shopping for a gift I try to imagine how the recipient will feel later, when they're using whatever it is.  My kids probably didn't know it, but they not only gave me a tie, they gave me a nice day :)


Tuesday,  06/17/08  10:42 PM

Today was a funky day; first there was the fact that I wore a tie to work...  then after work [I hope you're sitting down] I went to a Hooters to watch the Lakers.  Wow what a scene that was; the bar at Mos Eisley comes to mind :)  Anyway I had a wonderful greasy cheeseburger with a couple of beers while watching the Lakers get blown out.  So be it.  Later I went for a night ride past Lake Hodges on the Dos Dios highway; that was really cool because there was a full moon out (although I again verified that alcohol is not a performance enhancing drug).

Cedar Rapids under waterI can't get over the pictures I'm seeing from Eastern Iowa.  This looks exactly like the pictures of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina.  I'm not surprised but exasperated by the fact that the media are not featuring this disaster the way they did Katrina.  Iowans have just stolidly got down to work and are recovering, instead of whining for federal aid like Louisianians.  I will say no more.

If you're a regular reader you know I continue to be delighted with my spiffy Centro.  Yesterday I discovered a new coolness; it can use Sprint Location Services, a feature that you must explicitly enable but which allows it to triangulate between cell towers to know where you are.  It isn't GPS, but it works like GPS.  Excellent.

Holland continue their winning ways at Euro 2008 and handily defeated Romania, 2-0, and so emerge from the first round undefeated.  Go Oranje!

Smithsonian: Diamonds on Demand.  "Lab-grown gemstones are now practically indistinguishable from mined diamonds. Scientists and engineers see a world of possibilities; jewelers are less enthusiastic."  I appreciate the technology but wonder about the art.  A few years ago, on our tenth wedding anniversary, I splurged on an "internally flawless" diamond for Shirley.  You can't tell and nobody else can either, but we know, and it makes us feel special.  If such diamonds could be manufactured at will, perhaps we would feel less so...

Wow, LinkedIn is now worth $1B, at least on paper.  Congratulations to my friend and ex-colleague Reid Hoffman and his whole team, that's just amazing...

Angel FallsWrapping up, here's some eye candy; the ten highest waterfalls on Earth.  #1 is Angel Falls, pictured at right.  Incredible.





China's olympic gardens

Wednesday,  06/18/08  11:44 PM

In China, even the gardeners are getting ready for the Olympics...  wow!


Wednesday,  06/18/08  11:52 PM

the LGF flying pig!Are you sitting down?  Holding any sharp objects?  The LATimes (!) publishes James Kirchick:  Bush never lied to us about Iraq.  This feels like an Onion parody, it is so unexpected.  [ via LGF, who didn't give it a flying pig for some reason?  But I did :) ]

John McCain has called for building 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.  "McCain said the 104 nuclear reactors currently operating around the country produce about 20 percent of the nation's annual electricity needs.  ' Every year, these reactors alone spare the atmosphere from the equivalent of nearly all auto emissions in America.  Yet for all these benefits, we have not broken ground on a single nuclear plant in over thirty years,' he said.  'And our manufacturing base to even construct these plants is almost gone.'  He said he would set the country on a course to build 45 new ones by 2030, with a longer-term goal of adding another 55 in the future."  Good for him.

So Team High Road is now Team Columbia, and Team Slipstream-Chipotle is now Team Garmen-Chipotle.  Congratulations to both of these top tier U.S. Pro Cycling teams, and to their sponsors.  This shows that perhaps cycling is over the hump going into this year's Tour de France...  fingers crossed...

Spanish high-speed trainIn Europe, high speed trains are killing airplanes.  I don't know about "killing", but there are definitely advantages; I've ridden several European high speed trains recently in lieu of flying.  The main benefits are time (don't need the extra hour for security) and access (train stations are everywhere, airports are not).

Firefox logoSo are you on Firefox 3 yet?  (You do know it is now "out", right?)  In fact over 8 million people downloaded it yesterday, the first day it was available.  If you just want to dip your toe in the water, don’t worry; you can have Firefox and IE installed at the same time, and you don’t have to make Firefox your default browser (although you can if you want to, and you’ll want to…)  One of the best things about Firefox is the various extensions you can get.  My top three: Adblock Plus (gets rid of ads!), IETab (lets you easily switch between Firefox and IE rendering), and Firebug (great tool for web development).

Forbes: Why Firefox matters

Oh, and here's a Power User's guide to Firefox 3...


Thursday,  06/19/08  10:44 PM

Man is it HOT here!  We're talking 107o hot.  This afternoon I did a ride at 5:30, and it was still over 100o.  We climbed Decker Canyon to the Mulholland Overlook of the Pacific Ocean, and it was still over 100o; I went through four bottles in an hour.  I have to admit it was almost fun, in a "man against the elements" kind of way.  Almost.

the Death Ride!Speaking of man against the elements, I've found a new ride to do: the Death Ride.  I am not making this up, that's really what it is called, 129 miles and 15,000' in the middle of the Sierras South of Lake Tahoe, in the middle of July.  What could be better than that?  It nicely fills a gap in my schedule between the Grand Tour Double and the Knoxville Classic Double :)

Tonight I was idly reviewing my referer logs, and found some cool old posts.  Back in February I opined about Microsoft's attempt to buy Yahoo: "My own view is that it won't happen; either the DOJ will intervene, or the deal will fall apart during negotiations.  But it will hurt both companies anyway; valuable talent is already leaving Yahoo and MSN."  Good call.  I also like this rant about Universal Healthcare.  With the price of oil rising and the housing bubble bursting and the credit crunch, our economy is making candidates' headlines, but I'm sure healthcare will still be a subject in their debates.  For both the economy and healthcare candidates find it so hard to say NO to government intervention, but that is the right answer...

Okay, let's make a pass on the world, shall we...

Martian iceOn the hottest day of the year, the Mars Lander has found ice!  And told the world using Twitter!!  (And used "WooT" in doing so!!!)  How cool is that?  (ice-y cool...)

This seems like good news, the Scientist reports Boost for NSF Funding.  "The US Senate and House of Representatives have approved a 14 percent funding increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for 2009. The spending bill would net NSF, which is the second largest federal funder of academic research after the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $6.9 billion for FY 2009. More than 80 percent, or $5.6 billion, of this total budget would go towards research grants."  It is arguable whether the government should administer these programs, but pooling funds for scientific research seems worthwhile.

This is not good news, Ars Technica reports US adoption of electronic health records is abysmal.  "The impact of computers to increase efficiency has been fairly widespread; try to imagine an architect, accountant, or administrator working without one in 2008. But some occupations seem to be holding out, and the medical profession is one of those. A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine paints a disturbing picture of just how slow adoption is."  Interesting, because the value proposition is there.  (P.S. Don't you just love that word, "abysmal"?)

Velonews asks: Will pro cycling split into two leagues?  It sure looks that way.  But man will that be complicated, because the same teams and the same riders would compete in events from each league.  Why can't we all just get along?

Congrats to Gerard Vanderleun; his American Digest blog just turned five.  Nice work.  In addition to similar political views, we like the same music too :)

crystal skullI'm sure by now you've seen Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, right?  Here's a slightly abridged script.  [ via Kottke ]

HARRISON teaches his film class entitled 'How To Ruin Millions Of Childhoods In 2 Hours' when he is interrupted by the DEAN, JIM BROADBENT. 

JIM BROADBENT - Sorry Harrison, but the government thinks you might be a Soviet. Apparently someone rented “K-19: The Widowmaker” and panicked.

HARRISON FORD - Bullshit, nobody saw that movie.

Perhaps the aliens competed in the Death Ride?

Check out this press release from Apple: iTunes store tops over five billion songs sold. And the subhead: Apple Renting & Selling Over 50,000 Movies Per Day.  Wow.  Apple has been the top online music store for a while, they are now the top online movie store as well.  You could argue the details, but their model is working.

Finally, this seems like a headline from the Onion, but it's real: Man gets Windows Vista to work with printer.  I love it :)


happy summer solstice!

Saturday,  06/21/08  11:20 PM

bocce ballsHi everyone, happy summer solstice!  Yep, the longest day of the year, and whew, easily one of the hottest.  Today we had the fabulous annual Aperio picnic...  nothing like playing bocce ball in 100o+ heat.  It was fun though, Meg and I played as "momentarily confused".  (She even made an awesome tee-shirt.)  We didn't win, which was kind of a plus because we could sit in the shade and watch the finals :)  Anyway it was a great way to celebrate the official start of summer...

Megan pointed out something really interesting; why is it that driving with kids qualifies you for a diamond lane?  Seems like only having other drivers in the car should count.

Boo.  The Russians upset the Dutch, knocking them out of Euro 2008.  Just when I had become a soccer fan, they take away my rooting interest.  Oh well, Go Italy!

This is pretty interesting, the Mayo Clinic has launched a YouTube channel.  Well anyway the idea is interesting, but I'm afraid the channel itself is not; relentless marketing of the Mayo brand, without much actual content.

Last Wednesday Ottmar Liebert posted two thoughts, one of which was how horrible all-you-can-eat buffets are...  as an instance of all you can X (cell phones, electricity, etc).  I don't know about X, but in the case of food I think all-you-can-eat actually saves food; the portions of most restaurants are way larger than the average person would eat.  Leaving you with a choice, eat too much, or waste food.

Tivo remote timelinePVRBlog links Gizmodo: the history of the Tivo remote.  A great TUI, perfectly matched to the great GUI.

BTW in case you're wondering, yes, I love my TivoHD.  I can't imagine what I was thinking, when I thought the Moxi was "good enough".  The Tivo UI is massively better, and much more responsive.  You click and bloop bloop, it happens.  The HD picture is wonderful too.  Another bonus; the unit runs cooler than the Moxi; I was able to unplug a box fan I had installed in my A/V cabinet to keep things cool.  It wasn't loud, but it was "there", and now it's not!

Russell Beattie fights conventional wisdom and believes in Yahoo!  Huh.  Okay, I believe they'll continue to be around for a while - they are profitable, after all - but I also believe they have relegated themselves to also-ran status.  Getting the leadership position back will not be easy.

Intempo rebel - rip FM radio to MP3Every once in a while you see a product, and you think "wow, I could have thought of that".  Or even "wow, I did think of that".  And so it is with the Intempo Rebel, a radio which records songs from FM, strips out chatter and ads, and rips them into MP3 files.  I wonder what the RIAA will make of this?




messing about in small boats

Sunday,  06/22/08  09:49 PM

There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as messing about in boats...

Meg, sailing...... and so it was that I found myself today, messing about in small boats with kids.  It was HOT and the breeze was sketchy, we got a bit burnt, and yet it was excellent...  hope your day was as nice.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

So, is everything seemingly spinning out of controlEverything?  Boy, I don't think so; this is the best time to be alive, ever.  This headline writer needs some historical context!

I have a theory, founded on observation, see if you agree.  The most strident, angry, over-the-top bloggers are liberal, while the more measured bloggers are conservative.  I think this holds even for bloggers who don't blog about politics.  For example John Gruber, who's Daring Fireball is an awesome blog about Apple, Macs, and technology, lapsed into politics every so often; so enough so his liberal-ness pokes through.  And he is definitely strident.  Dave Winer would be another example of a strident liberal.  Or Mark Pilgrim...  On the calm conservative side we have Eric Sink, or Tim Oren.  What do you think, does this hold up?  (Am I a counter-example? :)

Chris Maresca: when electric cars were the future.  "The media are making all kinds of noise lately to the effect that electric cars are coming, that they’re going to help us kick our imported-oil habit, and that you’ll be able to drive them for pennies a day."  That was from Car and Driver, June 1981.  It goes on "It’s a tall order, but GM is already well on the way to pulling it off. Whether the buyers will be there, however, is a question GM is still struggling to answer."  Helps you realize that the big car companies are all about appearance, they actually have no intention of shipping electric vehicles until the market forces them to do so.  Innovation is going to come from small companies...  the situation is ripe for a classic attack from below...

TTAC has a well-reasoned analysis why GM is going bankrupt.  They're going there slowly - dinosaurs take a while to die - but you can only run cash negative for so long, no matter how big you are.  And I don't think the public will stand for a bailout.

NASA spacewalking picturesAwesome space pictures!  [ from NASA, via Ann Althouse ]  These look like scenes from a movie, don't they?  (Reminds me of that classic observation, it would cost less to send men to Mars than to make a movie about sending men to Mars :)

Did you know - old iPhones (pre-3G) are actually more valuable than new ones to many people, because they could be bought without an AT&T contract, hacked, and subsequently used anywhere in the world with any SIM.  While the new ones can only be bought with a two-year contract.  I love it, the market at work...

Speaking of Apple, they've announced that the next version of OS X aka Snow Leopard will include support for ZFS.  That is potentially great news for server aficionados, and really ups the ante for Microsoft.  ZFS makes NTFS look twenty years old, which it is.

Oh man, this sucks.  George Carlin has died.  That really hurts, he feels like a contemporary even though he was 71.  On top of being really really funny, he was smart and a wonderful observer.  Let's hope he continues to entertain wherever he goes :)

  • If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?
  • Ever wonder about those people who spend $2 apiece on those little bottles of Evian water? Try spelling Evian backward.
  • The IQ and the life expectancy of the average American recently passed each other going in opposite directions.
  • What if there were no hypothetical questions?

[ Update: BTW check out how many bloggers are reporting his death.  Wow.  He will be remembered... ]


Wednesday,  06/25/08  10:32 PM

Society of Toxicologic PathologyI'm back!  Sorry for the gap; on Monday and Tuesday I attended the Society of Toxicologic Pathology conference in San Francisco, which involved dinners with colleagues and customers, and today I was in Vista (after flying directly into Carlsbad airport - very cool!).  A really worthwhile experience although like all conferences, tiring...  learned a lot and was "on" a lot, and am now rather exhausted...

Still, it's all happening...

Yesterday I did something I haven't done in a  l o n g  time: I sent a fax.  I was in my hotel room, needed to print my boarding pass, and this was the easiest way to get hardcopy.  I'm still carrying a modem cable (!) and it still worked (!!)  Felt like briefly returning to my youth, to hear that modem beeeep as it connected.  Weird that there isn't a TCP/IP way to "send a fax", isn't it?

honeycomb housing in SolveniaInhabitat notes Solvenia's gorgeous honeycomb housing complex.  Very nice.  Definitely a cut above your average public housing.  I wonder if the inhabitants are a cut above the average, too?

Powerline: Ania Egland answers MoveOn.  "Hello Senator McCain, these are my precious boys Noah and Daniel. Their daddy served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I grew up under communism. So, when you say we have to protect freedom in Iraq, I understand. And, someday, I would be proud if they volunteered to serve this great country. Senator, thank you for your leadership."  One more point that needs to be made - we have a volunteer military.  People like my daughter Nicole who serve in the military are there because they want to be, it is their chosen profession.  Who is Move On or anyone to tell them what to do?  And yes, I am really proud of my daughter and all our soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

src proteinProteins gone wild: a conversation between a molecular biologist and the proteins she studies.  I love it!

George Carlin: Modern ManGeorge Carlin: Modern Man.  A comedian / philosopher for our time.  Wow, was he great, or what?  [ via Daring Fireball ]

Michael Arrington on modeling the real market value of social networks.  "Is MySpace worth $3 billion, or $20 billion?  It depends on how you value a user.  It’s time to start comparing the big global social networks on something other than unique visitors and page views."  Absolutely.  Mere counting of noses assuming they could be monetized later was the air that inflated the dot-com bubble.  Now that we have advertising as a means to accomplish the monitization, you still have to run the numbers.

So what do you think of McCain's proposed $300M prize for an efficient electric car battery?  I think it is a pretty great idea, actually, perhaps offering prizes is the best way for government to stimulate development in such things. 

Jerry Pournelle thinks so too.  "The neat thing about prizes is that we spend no money unless someone wins. Now surely it would be worth far more than $300 million to have any capitalist have the battery technology McCain describes. Indeed it would be worth far more, and the only real criticism of the McCain prize might be that it wasn't large enough."

TechDirt: Yahoo needs to go private to right itself.  This sounds right to me.  There are people like Jerry Yang himself to put up the money, and once they're private they could go back to doing what makes sense, instead of what [they think] the market wants.  [ via Marc Cantor, who thinks so too... ]

bike with piano!Check this out: Rolling with 88 weighted keys, live on bike.  Yes of course, who wouldn't want a full size piano on the back of their bike, complete with the pianist?  I love it...

two-legged puppy gets landing gearThis is the cutest greatest thing: two-legged puppy gets landing gear.  What can I say?







Thursday,  06/26/08  10:46 PM

I'm feeling kind of melancholy today...  don't know why.  Just one of those blah days, I guess.  Another gorgeous summer day, got some good work in, had a great 45 mile ride with my friend Mark (up Stunt Road, and down Piuma, whew!), no reason I should feel this way, but I do...

I'm getting ready to ride the great Grand Tour Double this Saturday.  I know every inch of these roads, some of them I ride all the time, and at one point we actually pass within a few streets of my house.  I am not intimidated.  But that's bad, because it is still 200 miles in the heat, with a couple of serious climbs, not to be taken lightly.

Grand Tour Highland Double

A question for McCain and Obama: Will they recognize Mugabe?  If they don't, will it matter?  I think it will matter if there is a financial implication.  If the people of Zimbabwe come to feel that Mugabe is standing in the way of International assistance, that would matter.  [ via Instapundit ]

the Crab NebulaHorses's Mouth has a picture of the magnificent Crab Nebula.  The scale of this is unimaginable, but imagine looking out the window of your spacecraft and seeing that!  Wow.

China Impressions, from Electric Daybook.  "One WTF moment after the other."  Yep, I've been to China, and I can Roger that...  Wonderful.

Are you smart enough not to build this website?  Hint: never ever store passwords in recoverable fashion, and email is [insecure] plaintext.  It goes on from there...

vertical-axis wind turbineEcoGeek wonders Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines, where have you been?  I agree, they would definitely seem to make sense for a variety of reasons, and they're even prettier.  But I guess they must not be sufficiently efficient, because most wind turbines are the garden-variety horizontal kind...  this is the sort of thing the market figures out really well.

The Long Tail: Where to run the One machine?  "In the new issue of Wired, Kevin Kelly has written another one of his patented mind grenades: the observation that the Internet has now hit approximate computational equivalence to a single human brain."  This doesn't seem like a deep observation to me, sorry.  The behavior of the Internet in no way resembles the behavior of an individual.  Much more like an anthill :)

Should you let Instinctiv chose your next song?  I don't know, my philosopher iPod's "random" play seems to do an amazing job of foreshadowing the future, and commenting on the present.  I wouldn't want other heuristics to interfere!

In-car WiFi is coming...  of course.  Someday soon it will be standard.  Of course with EVDO, I have Internet access everywhere already...


full text feeds (Instapundit and Powerline)

Thursday,  06/26/08  10:58 PM

I love RSS, and I love full text feeds.  (There, I said it!)

But... unfortunately as a user I have no control over whether a given site gives me a full text feed.  I can email the blogger, but that rarely helps.  Several of my favorite feeds are not full text, they contain only bitty crappy teasers, designed to get me to visit their sites to read more; including Instapundit and Power Line.  So anyway it is what it is...

No, wait!  Stop the presses!  It isn't what it is, because I am a programmer.  I do have some control over this, I can make my own feed!  (A little while ago I got frustrated that Cycling News, one of my favorite sites, didn't even have a feed; so I made one; that gave me the idea.)  All there is to a feed is an XML-formatted description of the site's home page.  I can retrieve the home page and reformat it into a valid RSS format, and poof, full-text feed!  Man triumphant against the elements...

This gave me great satisfaction.  And so, for your feed-reading pleasure, you too may use my full text feeds for Instapundit and Power Line.  Enjoy!

P.S. Armed with this knowledge, I plan to create full text feeds for more blogs, so stay tuned :)

[ Update: There's another variation of this, blogs which do have full text feeds but where the feeds don't contain HTML, just text.  Napsterization would be an example.  I'm sure most of these bloggers aren't engineers and have no idea how to fix their feeds, but they sure are annoying.  But I can create full text feeds for them, too.  Yay.  Stay tuned... ]

[ Another update: I changed the URLs for the feeds to be on instead of ]


liquid tension experiment

Sunday,  06/29/08  11:07 AM

Last Friday night I went to see Liquid Tension Experiment, a prog-rock band consisting of members of Dream Theater and the keyboardist Jordan Rudess, thanks to my friend Bill Smith (who is a prog-rock guru par excellence).  To say they were fantastic would be unworthy; they were out of this world.  I expected it to be great, and it was that much greater.

One of the great things about this concert was the simplicity.  Simple venue (Downey Civic Theater), no opening act, no pyrotechnics, a minimum of light effects.  Just your basic four musicians on stage for two and a half hours, playing their brains out.  Before the show the promoter said he had a theory about the audience, and asked for a show of hands; "how many of you are musicians?"  About 80%.  Excellent musicians playing for other musicians.

Pictures (sorry, cameraphone in the dark):

LTE are: Jordan Rudess, Tony Levin, Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci...

John Petrucci did some amazing guitar soles, whew...

Matched by Jordan Rudess on keyboards (loved that handheld keyboard, BTW)...

A total explosion of sound, how could four guys do that :)...

Thank you, for a wonderful amazing evening!



quintuple double - joining the 1,000 mile club

Sunday,  06/29/08  11:28 AM

Yesterday I rode in the Grand Tour Double Century, my fifth this year, and have joined the California Triple Crown 1,000 mile club.  Yay, me.  This event was the 50th anniversary of the  original double; 50 years ago a group of century riders at the L.A. Wheelmen Club bet each other they couldn't ride 200 miles in a single day.  I completed it in 11:52 riding time, 13:55 overall, which I'm pretty happy about considering the amount of climbing - 8,300' - and the heat.  (I lost six pounds, clearly didn't drink or eat enough, and am rectifying that at this moment :) 

As usual I rode with my friend Mark Burson; here we are at the fifth checkpoint, 115 miles in, we're smiling because it was a nice day and there was food at this stop...

Ole and Mark - the Grand Tour

This wasn't the easiest double I've ridden - that would be Solvang - but it was the easiest for me; there is still no such thing as an easy double (there is always at least one point during the ride where you question your sanity) but I think I'm gradually getting used to spending that much time riding all at once.  My biggest problem on this ride was food; usually there is stuff at every checkpoint, but for some reason in this ride there really wasn't; well okay, they had bananas and orange slices and such, but how about some sandwiches, some power bars, something with calories?  I resorted to drinking [real] cokes, a source of sugar, but not exactly real food.

Next up - the Death Ride (dum dum dum), which is a mere 129 miles, but features 15,000' of climbing...


Sunday,  06/29/08  07:42 PM

Spent another lazy Sunday afternoon messing about in small boats, with Megan and her friend Madison; having discovered the joy of deliberately capsizing (aka swimming in the lake) they determined to perfect this important skill.  Meanwhile I got sunburnt and otherwise had a great time.

It must be said, two consecutive days of not working are somewhat guilt-inducing.  Yes, I am a workaholic.

AARP cardTalk about depressing; guess what arrived in the mail Friday?  A fake AARP card, as a solicitation for me to join AARP and get a real one.  My reaction to this is unexpectedly strong.  Perhaps turning 50 (as I will this December) is not going to be easy.

Big Sur fireHave you been following all the fires in Northern California?  Horrible.  One thing that strikes me, when there's a disaster, they never show a map.  Pictures of the fires and the firemen are all very exciting, but I want to see where it is...

I love this headline, about the Supreme Court's Heller ruling: News Flash: the constitution means what says.  Reading about the dissenting opinions, I'm struck that the court has really moved beyond interpreting laws to making laws.  There really isn't much question about the fundamental issue, given the second amendment.

The London Times: Cheer up, we're winning the war on terror.  "The evidence is now overwhelming that on all fronts, despite inevitable losses from time to time, it is we who are advancing and the enemy who is in retreat."  Ah yes.  But hey, let's leave Iraq anyway, as soon as possible.

Another case of gloom-and-doom denied: Palm's 4th quarter not as bad as you think.  "Palm continued to flaunt its almost inexplicable boost in health in an earnings call yesterday.  Honcho Ed Colligan boasted of a 29 percent gain in smartphone sales year-over-year, largely in part to the stellar performance of the company's budget-priced Centro."  I continue to love mine.  In fact I just discovered yet another cool thing it does, it auto-completes addresses based on information already entered.  If I start typing "Westlake Village" in an address, by the time I type "e" it fills in the rest for me.  Nice.

Qingdao's algae carpetValencia Sailing notes Qingdao's golf course.  Qingdao is the sailing venue for the 2008 Olympics; unfortunately the bay is presently covered with a thick carpet of algae.  It isn't clear whether this is temporary or a serious obstacle to the competition.

Bentley flying spurWhen carbon footprints don't matter: the 2009 Bentley Flying Spur.  A 600hp W12.  I bet when you accelerate you can use the gas gauge instead of the speedometer.  Note that Bentley's chief engineer is Dr. Uli Eichhorn; I don't know if we're related, but I suspect we are...  [ via Instapundit ]

Not sure what to make of Google Media Server, an add-on to Google Desktop which let's you stream movies and music from your computer to "any PnP-compatible device".  Huh.

Brad Feld considers the unintended consequences of hybrid cars.  The thing about hybrid cars is, they’re gas-powered vehicles.  They might be moderately more efficient than Hummers, and they might have electric engines inside, but at the end of the day you put gas in them to run them.  Someday there may be electric cars (go Tesla!) but that day is not here – yet.

Russell Beattie wants to know where are the electric cars?  Indeed.

[ Update: this just in, Arnold is going to help Tesla announce their new "whitestar" sedan tomorrow. ]

Wall-E rocksThe reviews for Wall-E are uniformly positive; CNN calls it a classic.  I can't wait to see it myself.  Weird how Pixar has been able to make one great movie after another, one hit movie after another, while other studies struggle...

Yay!  Eric Raymond is unstealthing...






Monday,  06/30/08  01:21 AM






(found this on my phone, forgot I took it; must have been from Mulholland on one of my rockstore rides... 
I like it)




Monday,  06/30/08  10:30 PM

Wow, half the year is gone!  Where did it go?

So it has now been six months since I've been blogging again, so far, so good.  I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am.  I get a fair number of emails saying "thank you" and "I like your blog" so my ego is duly gratified :)

Yesterday I noted receiving an AARP card in the mail, and how turning 50 is looming unpleasantly.  Perhaps all this riding I've been doing this year is a response; like if I can just ride enough, I won't get older :)  Seriously it does give me pause, not that I have a lot of regret for these 50 years, but just that, well, it is probably the halfway point, at best.  Makes me think about making the most of each day...

Speaking of which, June 26 was the two year anniversary of Rob Smith's death, aka the acidman.  I still hope he's secretly in Costa Rica.

Floyd LandisSo Floyd Landis lost his appeal before the Committee for the Arbitration of Sport.  In fact in addition to denying his appeal they went out of their way to insult him and his legal team.  Bunk!  I still say he's innocent.  No GC rider would take testosterone in the middle of a grand tour.  At this point we'd have to say it is unlikely we'll ever see him riding again, very sad.  Trust but Verify has a lot more...

BTW Le Tour is starting this weekend!  Are you ready!!  I am, and I will be rooting for Denis Menchov, or course.  Go Oranje Rabobank!

The Economist: the future of energy.  "Since the industrial revolution 200 years ago, mankind has depended on fossil fuel. The notion that this might change is hard to contemplate. Greens may hector. Consciences may nag. The central heating's thermostat may turn down a notch or two. A less thirsty car may sit in the drive. But actually stop using the stuff? Impossible to imagine: surely there isn't a serious alternative?"  Nuclear power, baby.  That is the alternative.

Not pretty: Yahoo reorg, a view from the ranks.  "As for the Google deal, HOORRAY! Now, you might be thinking that we employees - particularly those in Search - who have spent most of our waking hours trying to do battle with Google might in some way be disappointed that we are now getting into bed with the enemy. Au contraire! We love it! Nothing indicates a job well done better than outsourcing your own job to the competition. Am I right, or am I right?"  Ouch.

Wall*E + EveI keep reading good things about Wall*E, I really want to see it.  Pete Mortensen notes all the apple tie-ins.  "Lots of people have remarked that Apple Design Chief Jonathan Ive was involved in designing EVE, the sleek, white, glossy robot that WALL*E falls in love with. As much as she resembles an older iPod, however, the cleverest thing about EVE is that she appears to have no seams in her surface, though they appear when she lifts her arms."

Do you use regular expressions?  Jeff Atwood loves them.  To me they're a good tool, but not the greatest things since sliced bread; I do like this quote from Jamie Zawinski: "Some people, when confronted with a problem, think 'I know, I'll use regular expressions.'  Now they have two problems."  Indeed :)

"real" IBM keyboard from UnicompSo I can find it later: Unicomp keyboards.  These guys make the real IBM-style buckling spring action keyboards, just like in the old days.  I am strongly tempted.  Maybe my ten-year-old Micron keyboard will die soon and I can get one.

man hugs [sedated] bearWould you call this a bear hug?  Biologist Jumps in Gulf of Mexico to Rescue Sedated Bear.  "A 375-pound male black bear was seen roaming a residential neighborhood near Alligator Point, officials said. The bear was hit with a tranquilizer dart, but he managed to bolt into the Gulf of Mexico before he was sedated.  As the tranquilizer drugs took effect, FWC biologist Adam Warwick jumped in to keep the bear from drowning."  Whoa.  Nice work.

fake speed bumpsHere we have fake speed bumps.  Wow.  I'd happily slow down for these.  I find myself speeding up over real speed bumps, a weird passive resistance to authority :)






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this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
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
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained