Critical Section

Archive: February 26, 2009

<<< February 25, 2009


February 27, 2009 >>>


Thursday,  02/26/09  06:54 PM

a new unit of code quality: WTFs/minute



endlessly buying shoes - online!

Thursday,  02/26/09  08:37 PM

I'm a bigtime online shopper, have been for years; just about anything I can buy online I buy online.  You can buy nearly anything online, but some things are easier than others.  The acid test for shopping online would have to be shoes.  You have to see shoes in person to know what they really look like, and you have to try them on to feel how they fit.  And you have to walk around in them in front of a mirror to know whether you really want them.  So you really can't buy shoes online, right?  Right. - buying shoes onlineWrong.

I recently received a pseudo-spam email from Amazon announcing a sale wherein they are offering 25% off new athletic shoes.  Amazon sells shoes?  Who knew?  More out of curiosity than anything else I clicked through, and discovered a whole online shopping experience for shoes on Amazon.  The user interface for this is really good

It turns out Amazon front-ends a store called which is the actual merchant from which you buy.  And the people have really thought about this, and have solved [almost] all the problems.  First, you can shop along a bunch of dimensions - brand, style, color, size, etc.  They have a huge selection.  Second, you can see the shoes really well; for each shoe / style / color they have about ten different high-resolution photos, and an interface which allows you to pan through the photos just by hovering your mouse over a low-res photo.  The prices are great (AFAIK), and they offer free overnight shipping, and free return shipping.  In other words you can look, buy, and try with little risk. 

The whole thing was compelling enough that I bought a pair of tennis shoes.  Pretty cool.  I can see myself endlessly buying shoes online :)


me on TV on Palomar

Thursday,  02/26/09  09:47 PM

So tonight I watched stage 8 of the Amgen Tour of California on TV, after having watched it in person from Palomar mountain last Sunday.  And lo and behold, there I was, on TV, taking pictures of the leaders cresting the summit....

me on TV on Palomar... shooting the leaders cresting the summit
me on TV on Palomar
shooting Levi, Jens, Andy as they crested the summit

Here's the picture I was taking at that moment:

the break crests the top
the break crests the top...
Levi isolated in a group that includes Dave Zabriske and Michael Rogers

That's pretty cool.  Really if you want to get on TV, all you have to do is go watch a pro cycling race, climb to the top of the biggest mountain, and stand there :)


Thursday,  02/26/09  10:06 PM

I was in a full-on funk today.  I spent the whole day battling an IT/email problem I didn't even know I had when I woke up.  In between I was on conference calls with customers - that wasn't bad, but it didn't cheer me up.  Even a bike ride on a beautiful day didn't do it.  Even discovering WTFs/minute didn't do it.  Even endlessly buying shoes didn't do it.  Even watching me on TV on Palomar didn't do it.

Now I guess we'll find out if blogging can do it.

One of the interested effects of blogging every day is that you become aware of time passing beneath you, kind of like riding a bike down a road.  There are different time horizons; "stuff happening now" (need to blog about it), "stuff which happened recently" (blogged on my home page), and "stuff which happened in the past" (in the archive, but no longer on the home page).  Experimentation has yielded the arbitrary boundary of ten days between "recent" and "past"; that is, I keep 10 days worth of posts on the home page.  Invariably when I check my home page I scroll down to see what has just scrolled off, what things from my recent past have now slipped back into the less-than-recent past.  Right now the stuff at the bottom of the home page seems immensely far away, much further than recent.

Don't know if this is good (lots happening in my life) or bad (life tearing by)...
Maybe that's why I'm in a full-on funk.

federal budget deficitYippee!  We have a $1.75T deficit.  The graph at right gives some idea of how out-of-the-ordinary this is...  a complete disconnect.  The direct result of a giant stimulus for which we don't have the money to pay.  Yes, Virginia, this is inflationary, and amounts to taking money away from you and me and giving it to, well, other people.  The great redistribution of wealth is on - disguised as a recovery plan.

Maybe that's why I'm in a full-on funk.

Related: Philip Greenspun considers can we dig ourselves out of this hole by taxing the rich?  Quick answer: no.  Slower answer: the rich aren't rich enough, and there aren't enough of them.  Hence the stimulus, which amounts to taxing everyone.

Meanwhile it is worth asking: should we let California go bankrupt?  Check out this snippet: "Another budget buster is California’s spending on social services, clocking in at about 70 percent more per capita than the national average...  California’s legislature has only reluctantly embraced federal welfare reform, and for years the state has had one of the worst records in moving people from welfare to work because state law limits the ability of welfare administrators to sanction those who refuse to participate in work programs."  We're not worthy of being bailed out.

Maybe that's why I'm in a full-on funk.

Apparently nobody wants to nationalize Citi, but we're going to end up doing it anyway.  First FNMA and FDMC, then AIG, and now...  As bad as things have gotten, how much worse would the have been if nobody had been bailed out?  Why should the government do anything?

asymmetric TV for displaying 4:3 and 16:9 contentThis is pretty awesome - an asymmetric TV for displaying both 4:3 and 16:9 content.  I love it.

ad for Loewe's high-fidelity TVAnd while we're talking about TVs, check out this excellent ad by Loewe's...  high fidelity, indeed!

Carol Bartz, Yahoo's new CEO, blogs about getting our house in order.  No idea whether this will help, but the openness is refreshing.  Actually I have some idea that it will help.

Kindle 1 and 2, comparedEveryone seems to like the new Kindle 2; ArsTechnica says evolution yields revolution.  I like love my Kindle 1, and the '2 is apparently better in many ways, so it must indeed be cool.

One reason is the screen; apparently it took 12 years and $150M to develop by E-Ink, the company behind the Kindle's display.  Wow.

Zen Bound - a peaceful iPod "game"John Gruber links Zen Bound, a game for the iPhone.  I mostly ignore these things, most iPhone apps are duller than dirt, or dumber, but this one looks pretty cool.  I like the general concept of doing something fun as meditative, instead of as a pseudo competition.  Who knows, I might even try it. 

Might even get me out of my full-on funk.

Huh: Hearing damage occurs after more than 5 minutes of full-volume listening on iPod.  I wonder what happens after riding a fourteen hour double century with your iPod at full volume?

Well, it didn't work.  Blogging was all very exciting, but I'm still in a full-on funk.  Blech.


Return to the archive.

About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
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
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
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?