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Archive: March 2009

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weird disaster recovery!

Sunday,  03/01/09  09:05 AM

I have some fantastic news to report: I have officially recovered from my weird disaster!

Kestrel recovery! - an awesome perfect repair, with a new dropout   
check out this repair - new dropout was machined
and bonded back into the stays
looks really good

Kestrel recovery! - the alignment is perfect   
the axle alignment is perfect
and we have a spiffy new derailleur

Kestrel recovery! - I'm so glad to have it back :)   
a happy Kestrel, ready for the next double century!

Yesterday afternoon I did a great ride up Decker, down Mulholland, up Encinal, and back down Decker.  On my Kestrel.  Which has been repaired.  Successfully.  And most excellently.  YAY.

You will perhaps recall, about six weeks ago I ran over a coat hanger which nearly destroyed my trusty 9-year-old Kestrel road bike.  This prompted me to begin dreamin' Orca (getting a new bike), and I contemplated whether it was lust or love.  I then spent a week test riding new bikes, including a Cervélo, a Pinarello, a Felt and another Pinarello, and then ultimately decided it was lust and not love (i.e. I did not get a new bike).

In the meantime I found RoadRunner Velo, a shop which said they could repair my Kestrel, and mailed off my bike to them.  And through blogging met Brenda Lyons, area rep for Kestrel, who introduced me to Kestrel's new bikes and got me thinking about buying one of them.  Turns out Kestrel are sponsoring the Rock Racing pro cycling team, who would be competing the in Tour of California, and I had a chance to oogle the new bikes (which are not available to consumers yet) while watching the Solvang Time Trials.  And somewhere in there I had a first date with an Orca, which didn't go as well as I'd hoped.

Time will tell whether this repair is truly as strong and stiff as the original, but the early returns are really positive.  The bike felt exactly the way I remembered.  In fact in the course of riding so many other bikes I've become more aware of the various ways bikes differ, and I must tell you it was really great to be back on my bike.  The Kestrel has a soft fork, which makes for a cushy ride, and yet the bottom bracket and stays are stiff, which makes it accelerate quickly.  And it is light, so it is a great climber.  I really appreciate this machine.

One thing I did notice: my time trial bars make for a really heavy handlebar; the steering [now] feels sluggish.  Perhaps it is time for a nice integrated carbon handlebar / TT bar setup.  It would be cool and way cheaper than a new bike :)

So - I have my bike back, and I've learned a lot.  (And had a lot to blog about.)  And the story isn't quite finished, because there are still those new Kestrel RT900s coming out, and I plan to stay in touch with Brenda and ride one as soon as I can.  Who knows...  In the meantime I am excited; there is a 400K next weekend and yes I am planning to ride...  stay tuned!

[Update Sunday 3/1/09: So I rode the bike again today, and really I have to say this repair is perfect.  The bike feels exactly the same, and the craftsmanship is wonderful; you have to look really close to even notice something was done.  And nobody who didn't know could ever tell that the dropout is not original equipment.  My hat is fully off to Edgar Chavez and his team at RoadRunner Velo!]


proud father

Sunday,  03/01/09  09:19 AM

Last night it was my privilege and joy to take Alexis to Oaks Christian School's annual Father / Daughter Dance.  We had a great time; of course the girls dress up for each other, and the dads dress up for their girls, and the whole thing is rather fun.  In addition to dancing they have all kinds of conversation stimulators; little surveys to take ("how much do you know about your Dad?") and activities ("give your daughter an award for ___").  Pretty cool and I had a wonderful time.  If nothing else it was an excuse to have a nice dinner, one-on-one, and then enjoy some time together, but it was much more; we actually got in some real conversation and [I think] learned a few things from each other.

Here's a picture of a proud father and his cool daughter.  I always say everyone thinks their kids are special, but mine really are, and Alexis is amazing :)

Alexis and me



Sunday,  03/01/09  10:56 PM

Mulholland sunsetGetting caught up after a few days...  after my week-long funk I did have a nice weekend...  Friday we had dinner in Marina Del Rey with our friends from Ottawa, and that was fun, and Saturday I got my good old bike back, yay it’s all repaired and everything, and that made me pretty happy.  And Saturday night I took Alex to her school’s father/daughter dance, and that made me really happy.  And today I did a long ride and thought about stuff and reflected on my little world.  (And took a picture of the sunset from Mulholland :)  I keep wondering just how conservative I should be, how careful.  So far I haven’t done anything, I’m just watching the world turn to crap.  Should I be selling everything and moving to a cave in Montana?  No idea.

So I've been blogging for a while now, and one of the things I like about it is being able to see what I was up to a year ago.  And guess where I was?  Eating bison in Denver, getting ready to go skiing with friends while attending a conference.  Wow, was that really a year ago?  I have not yet implemented the ability to see what I will be doing a year from now :)  I can't even guess.

Powerline surveys liberal reaction to the Obama budget: that was then, this is now.

Philip Greenspun notes the stimulus bill is already creating jobs.  "As long as we think that we can grow GDP by having an ever-larger proportion of our best citizens working as full-time lobbyists, it would seem that the stimulus bill is working as advertised."  In all seriousness, boardrooms all over the country are asking what should be done to position for getting stimulus bill money.  It is a strange time.

At least the budget is strong in science funding.  The sums are other-worldly, but I guess this is investment I could support.  If I believed it was the government's job to finance science, which I don't...

FDA application approvals, 2000-2008BTW here is an interesting interactive chart showing FDA application approvals from 2000-2008.  Investing in more resources for the FDA would be a good thing to do, that might really make a difference.

One of the all-time worst practices in implementing websites is emailing passwords back to users after they've signed up.  Today I signed up for TechRadar - a site you would think would know better - and they did this.  Not good.

ancient footprintThe Panda's Thumb notes a brief moment in the magnificent history of mankind.  "It’s an ancient footprint in some lumpy rocks in Kenya…but it is 1½ million years old. It comes from the Koobi Fora formation, familiar to anyone who follows human evolution, and is probably from Homo ergaster."  That's one small step for man...

Scott Adams ("Dilbert"), on Marriage and Economies: "My hypothesis is that places where marriage happens early, by custom or religion, will also be the places with the slowest rate of development. In such places there might be fewer entrepreneurs and everyone would take fewer risks."  Make sense.  In cycling it is said of a timid rider: "he descends like a married man" :)

Levi crash - stage 3 of the AToCSo Levi Leipheimer is married, but he doesn't ride like it; in fact it turns out he broke a bone during stage 3 of the AToC, and rode that way for the next five days, winning anyway.  "Leipheimer said that he had been 'wondering why the pain wouldn't go away.'"  Now that's tough.

triple-nozzle rain showerheadAnd here we have a collection of cool showerheads.  I must confess, I am a shower-lover, and hence a showerhead-lover too.


big boys don't... (New Yorker 3/2/09)

Monday,  03/02/09  09:30 PM

don't actually cry...

(hits the nail on the head, doesn't it!)


Monday,  03/02/09  10:05 PM

A roller coaster day...  it began early, as I was up late, and then headed down immediately as I discovered a unplanned IT fire.  I also experienced a cold shower of reality reading the Monday morning news...  but later I had a couple of nice conversations with friends, which pulled me up, and rediscovered for the nth time how much better I feel working to music (Journey, if you must know, remember them?).  So the equation for the day is: friends + music = happyer.

A year ago I posted this rather nice think piece: entertainment: "Why would people labor so hard to entertain each other, instead of working on something 'useful'?"  Weird, eh?  Must be making each other happyer :) 

Warren Buffet has posted his annual letter to shareholders.  2008 was Berkshire Hathaway's worst year ever, so the letter contains some nice humility.  It isn't optimistic either.  They lost $11.5B, which makes me feel better by comparison...

electronic medical recordsThe NYTimes discusses How to make electronic medical records a reality.  "Washington is about to embark on an ambitious government-guided effort to jump-start a market - in electronic health records...  In its economic recovery package, the Obama administration plans to spend $19 billion to accelerate the use of computerized medical records in doctors’ offices.  Medical experts agree that electronic patient records, when used wisely, can help curb costs and improve care."  And as I never tire of pointing out, electronic medical records require digital pathology to incorporate the vital pathology information for a case.

Yamaha digital pianoWho knew?  The Economist reports a digital piano good enough for Carnegie Hall may have arrived.  So be it.

Today's fish story: Nokia phone still works after a week inside a fish.  This one is hard to believe.


Tuesday,  03/03/09  10:29 PM

3/3/9Welcome to square [root] day!  The next won't be 'till 4/4/16, so I hope you enjoyed it.

McKinsey: A better way to fix the banks.  Essentially, fix the way assets are valued to remove the uncertainty, enabling a consistent recording of collateral, enabling lending to resume.  Sounds very sound.

Reid Hoffman (friend, ex-colleague, CEO of LinkedIn): Let Start Ups Bail us out.  "The government should improve the situation by offering incentives for entrepreneurship and innovation. How to get started?  First, encourage small business with loans.  Second, welcome foreign innovators. Lawmakers could improve the situation all around by removing the cap on H-1B visas while imposing a 10 percent payroll tax above and beyond the benchmark salary for any position being filled by holders of such visas.  Finally, match funds for venture capital and angel investments."  Sounds great!

Jason Kottke considers odd software bugs, including mandelbugs (too complex to find), heisenbugs (existence affected by efforts to isolate), and bohrbugs (consistent under unknown conditions).  My own favorite are schroedinbugs, which only manifest themselves after someone notices they should exist :)

Aston Martin one-77Dreaming: The Aston Martin one-77.  A mechanical masterpiece.

Trizilla!Way more pictures of my favorite boat and heart's desire: Trizilla.  Someday that will be me, at the helm...  no idea how or when, but it will happen...

Today Apple updated almost everything.  Read all about it.  At least some companies are continuing to execute, earn revenue, and progress...

world's strangest yacht club: Lake Eyre in AustraliaThe world's strangest yacht club.  On a lake which is dry most of the time, in the middle of Australia...  I love it.

ZooBorn: little LangurZooBorn of the day: a little Langur.


the tyranny antidote

Wednesday,  03/04/09  11:28 PM

the antidote to the tyranny of email


This I love.  A visual representation of exactly what must be done to counteract the tyranny of email

The key elements are all here:

  • Check email at scheduled moments, do not take interrupts
  • Set aside three-hour periods to "get work done"
  • Focus on max of three activities in a day
  • Single-task as much as possible

If I could do this I would rule the world!


we might as well win

Thursday,  03/05/09  10:47 PM

We might as well win - Johan BruyneelNon-cycling fans might not know the name Johan Bruyneel, but in cycling circles he's a legend; not only was he a great professional rider himself, but as the Team Director for Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador he's won eight Tours de France in nine years.  As a Coach/Manager this puts him in John Wooden / Vince Lombardi / Joe Torre territory.  So he wrote a book called We Might as Well Win, and being a cycling fan and owning a Kindle, I figured I might as well read it. 

Last night I downloaded it, sort of as an impulse buy, and idly started reading it.  Wow.  What a great book

I had pretty low expectations, I guess I thought it would be your usual run-of-the-mill athlete memoir, but the philosophy and approach is fascinating.  Within five pages you can see why he's been so successful, and why he's been able to help a world-class athlete like Lance become a universe-class athlete.  It is really well written, interesting, and useful; I honestly felt myself putting some of what he writes about into practice today.  (Interestingly, some of it ties closely to the Tyranny Antidote stuff, like focusing on what's important and eliminating distractions.)

I've only gotten about 1/3 of the way through it so far and am pretty excited about going to bed tonight just so I can continue.  Stay tuned for more...


the power of babies

Thursday,  03/05/09  11:05 PM

I have a good friend whose sister delivered a baby girl today (congratulations!).  She emailed pictures, and as I'm looking at this teeny little being I was overcome by emotion.  There is something amazingly powerful about babies.  Of course we are all hardwired for reacting to babies; evolution has seen to it that we think they're cute and want to care for them.  Babies hit us at a deep level.

But the emotion I felt wasn't just about the baby girl, it was about the parents, and my friend, and me, and everyone whose lives were touched by this event.  (Maybe about you, too, reading this blog post!)  It brings us all back to what's important.  These are weird times, wherein it's been possible to lose all the material things you've worked hard to gain over ten+ years in six months.  Which makes you wonder, what's the point?  And then you consider this baby girl, and you think about the paths that led to her existence, and the road ahead for her - paved with the unknown, as Tolkein says - and you realize what's really important, and it isn't your big house or your fancy car, it's your family and your friends.

This ties in pretty nicely with the philosophy of Johan Bruyneel, who advocates focusing relentlessly on the things which matter, and with the tongue-in-cheek-but-really-good Tyranny Antidote, which includes pruning away the things which don't.  I think I'm going to go spend a few minutes with my daughter :)


Thursday,  03/05/09  11:41 PM

Today was a day of deep work, immersed in coding, on negative time trying to fix some bugs and ship something.  I tried to practice the Tyranny Antidote, eliminate all distractions, focus.  I was somewhat successful at this, but somewhat unsuccessful at the debugging.  A tough slog remains, and I'm traveling to Boston tomorrow for a conference.  Whew.

Okay; I haven't made a filter pass in a couple of days, and it's all happening...

stock market "gyrations" since stimulus announcedObama claims he's not worrying about the "gyrations" in the stock market.  Riight.  The chart at right shows what has happened to the Dow since the stimulus package was announced.  The markets are clearly pissed off.

David Brooks: This is not the Obama I thought I knew.

Glenn Reynolds: Actually, it's the same Obama it always was.

Bill Quick: Same thing, same results.  "California spends far more than it takes in, despite having some of the highest taxes in the United States. It is hostile to business, and the middle class is fleeing in droves...  Does any of this sound familiar? It’s what Obama and the Democrats have in mind as a 'solution' for the rest of the country."  I hope not.

Oh, and meanwhile 8 million mortgage holders are now under water.  California lost $1.2T in real estate value last year, accounting for about half of those mortgages.

The WSJ considers the boutique banks which thrived taking dot-com businesses public, and wonders will the four horsemen ride again?  I sure hope so; an IPO market for venture-backed companies is a good thing for innovation, the economy, and everyone...

StatoilHydro headquarters in NorwayCool green building of the day: the StatoilHydro headquarters in Norway.

Thou shalt not text until Easter.  When 21st century technology meets 1st century religion, weirdness results.

Michael Arrington thinks it is time to start thinking of Twitter as a search engine.  I think it is time to start thinking of Michael Arrington as a koolaid drinking fool.  I could be wrong but I still think the Twitter emperor is not wearing any clothes.

DaVinci surgical robotRobots!  The Boston Globe's Big Picture delivers again.  As many of you know my daughter Megan had open-heart surgery performed via robotic arm seven years ago, when she was four.  That technology was incredible, but it has become even more amazing since...

This makes me happy: VB 6 supported in Win 7.  The ice age has been postponed and the dinosaur lives on :)  This was almost a given considering how many of Microsoft’s customers continue to use VB 6 because of difficulties and incompatibilities with migrating to VB.NET; not little companies like Aperio but little companies like Texaco and GE and Nabisco and State Farm and Walmart, where most of the internal applications are written in VB.  Still it is good to have it confirmed...

Zooborn: baby WombatZooBorn of the day: a baby Wombat.

Josh Newman: remember when I used to blog?  I, too have found blogging about not blogging to be a great way to start blogging again :)  Welcome back!


my virgin blog post

Friday,  03/06/09  02:12 PM

VirginAmerica - featuring in-flight WiFi internet access!So here I am, at 35,000', flying from L.A. to Boston, and I'm posting to my blog, thanks to the good people at VirginAmerica.  Very very cool.  I must tell you other aspects of the flight are nice too - the seats, the food (yeah, you have to pay a la carte, but you do it by ordering through a touchscreen and the food itself is great), the movies, etc. - but the ability to use my laptop online via WiFi is a game-changer.  It feels fast, too, with good bandwidth and without too much latency.

The sky is no longer the limit :)


It's the Camembert (New Yorker, 3/2/09)

Saturday,  03/07/09  06:57 PM


It's the Camembert

At least it wasn't Epoisses :)


Saturday,  03/07/09  10:59 PM

LaPosta Malbec / BonardaThe Ole filter makes a pass...  from Bahstan...  had a fantastic dinner tonight, in the North End (Hanover Street), at a restaurant called Taranta, a combination Peruvian / Italian, beet salad w goat cheese, killer homemade ravioli stuffed with Porchini and artichokes, lamb shank marinated in red wine, accompanied by an Argentinean Malbec / Bonarda blend...  it was pretty great...

I've noticed a trend - I discover a new appellation for cheap inexpensive good wines, the world discovers the same thing, the prices rise, and I have to move on.  This happened to me with Chilean Cabernet, Australian Shiraz, Spanish Tempranillo, and now, Argentinean Malbec.  DO not buy this wine.  It will only cause them to raise the prices :)

Telling it like it is: Hillary Clinton says 'never waste a good crisis'.  Part of Clinton's apology tour, echoing Rahm Emanuel.  I would say Obama is totally wasting this one.  He has already squandered a great deal of the goodwill with which he entered office - mine included...

Glenn Reynolds nails it: what if George Bush or Dick Cheney had said something like that?

Reid Hoffman interviewed by Charlie RoseReid Hoffman on Charlie Rose: Every individual is now an entrepreneur.  Now, and was before, too.  LinkedIn isn't new - Reid started it in 2002, shortly after leaving PayPal (after it was acquired by eBay), but it is definitely the right business for *now*.

Looking to be LinkedIn: Robert Scoble leaves FastCompany.  It will be most interesting to see where he lands...  and I hope it means he will go back to posting more often.  Robert sort of disappeared into Twitter-land for a while.

Brad Feld wants Daily Data from the companies in which he invests.  As I commented on his blog: "I have to disagree with this... giving board members 'daily data' encourages them to micromanage the business...  Boards are great for advice, big picture discussions, introductions to relevant contacts, and strategy. Get them involved in day to day operations of a small company and bad things happen."  There's a good discussion in the comments; most agree with Brad.

Kepler satellite blastoff: the planet hunterNASA's "planet hunter" blasts into the sky.  It is interesting how preoccupied we are with "finding life" in space; so much of the public PR for our missions revolves around it, and this mission seems focused on it (as do in some sense the Mars missions).  Truly the space missions are conducting science, and the practical aspects are honing technology and paving the way for man's future colonization of space.  Finding life of any kind would be incredible, but I think the probability is low.

night and day in Beverly HillsNight and Day in Beverly Hills.  I love it!

The ultimate straight line: Vote now for Miss Nuclear Reactor 2009.  An actual Russian contest, apparently...  I like this one: white smoke does not mean we have a winner.

[From Shirley: may the most explosive woman win]

Good timing: Catching the Healthcare IT wave.  Perhaps they're a great company, who knows, but I must tell you this swilling at the federal trough rubs me the wrong way.  Perhaps the worst effect (among many) of the stimulus bill...

Related: Is Healthcare a right?  My answer: no.  This one can be debated on both sides, though...

Video killed the video store.  Bye bye Blockbuster, we hardly knew ya...  I totally called this, the Blue Ray vs HD DVD thing was a non thing; online video is the future.

John Gruber wonders why we aren't talking to our iPods.  I guess it might work, but perhaps not; the background noise in many environments would just screw things up.


when the student is ready, the teacher will appear

Sunday,  03/08/09  08:20 PM

I’m attending the USCAP conference in Boston – many more pics and a report to follow – but today I was in the Exhibit Hall checking in with the Aperio team getting ready and I saw this poster in the entrance to the CME (continuing medical education) area:

when the student is ready, the teacher will appear

How cool is that?  USCAP are using Aperio's technology in their online CME!  And if you visit the URL, you’ll find a bunch of electronic case studies, presented with whole slide images using Aperio's ImageScope and WebScope as the viewers!

This is excellent. I must tell you, it gave me chills when I saw it.  Our vision of transforming pathology is becoming a reality!


Sunday,  03/08/09  08:38 PM

2005 Tignaneello - the queen of super Tuscans...Ah, the life we lead...  had a wonderful dinner tonight with good friends at Bricco, in the North End of Boston...  beef carpaccio w parmesan cheese, zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and infused with truffle oil, tortelli w pumpkin amaretti, accompanied by a bottle of the reliably amazing Tignanello...  pretty much doesn't get much better.  Thanks Greg!

How nice to just take a break; slept in and read for a bit (finished We might as well win, which ended as great as it started, highly recommended), walked around, shopped a little, and spent time in vacation mode before flipping the switch back into work mode.  I am on negative time delivering some code and did make some progress... some.  I'm here attending the USCAP Conference, and tomorrow it kicks off in earnest.

The weather in Boston is delightful - walked around in the sun, enjoyed the day, had a nice lunch on an outside patio - and everyone here is surprised; apparently this is a major departure from a crummy winter.  Good timing I guess, what can I say, it has been delightful...

And so the Ole filter makes a right coast pass...

Philip Greenspun wonders Will turning the U.S. into Europe save our economy?  This is one of those questions where if you have to ask, you already know the answer.  The good news is that I doubt Americans will really stand for this; we'll tolerate a little now, because we're going through some pain, but as soon as it is obvious federalization makes things worse, the pendulum will start swinging back.  I hope I'm wrong, but Obama already looks like a one term President.

Apropos: Meltdown.  [ via Instapundit ]

PS John McCain thinks GM should be allowed to go bankrupt.  Me, too.  They've worked hard for it, they've earned it, and now they deserve it.  Honestly, what bad thing will happen?

spiral wine cellarMaybe you don't have room in your house for a wine cellar, or wine room, and then maybe this is your solution!  This spiral wine cellar will go anywhere, and they move the dirt straight out your front door.  I love it!

the Audi Shark hovercraftAnother object of desire: The Audi Shark Hovercraft.  To the bat cave, Robin!

Excellent news: Richard Morgan has a new book out: Steel Remains.  I am going to read it - via Kindle, of course - and you should too...

This totally misses the point: Why iPhone users won't flock to the Palm Pre come June.  The Pre is not a better iPhone, it is a better Palm.  There are a lot of us who want a real keyboard and who like Sprint better than AT&T, and we are the ones who will flock to the Palm Pre come June.  I have my Pre-order in already, do you?

Straits of Messina bridgeAnd so Italy are building the world's longest suspension bridge, two miles, across the Strait of Messina between Sicily and the mainland.  Wow, you can believe this is pretty controversial.


Monday,  03/09/09  08:51 PM

Greetings from Boston - 3/9/9, cooler in a way than 3/3/9, if less obviously so...  it was snowing today, so it was cool in more ways than one.  Fortunately I am safely ensconced in the Prudential center, and experienced the weather as a pretty vista through windows :)

You are getting tired of hearing me boast about meals, I know, so I will not mention the wonderful dinner in a French Bistro; nor the goat cheese salad followed by killer lamb, rare, nor the nice Rioja which accompanied it.  And I will certainly not mention the decadent praline cake for dessert.

Penn and Teller on ESP: Bullshit!Penn and Teller on ESP: Bullshit!  They are wonderful.

Watchmen - watch it!ArsTechnica review Watchmen: huge, awkward, and pitch-perfect.  I keep hearing good things about this movie, I guess I have to go see it.  So be it.

These lists are usually worse than this one: top 10 inventions of the 20th century that changed the world: 1) the Internet, 2) TV, 3) computers.  I notice derailleur-shifted gears did not make the list?

I read this in paper Wired, but here it is online: Design under Constraint, how limits boost creativity.  There's a real point here, all design involves limits, and creativity is often finding the hidden local maxima on a given potential surface.

Joel Spolsky: How to be a Program Manager.  Interesting for making the subtle point that programmers should not work for the Program Manager, so that feature debates aren't prematurely ended by fiat.  I am guilty of doing that pretty often...

the blue screen of death reaperGerard Vanderleun: It seems to me.  Worth clicking through just for the blue screens :)

Sam Ruby tries Twitter: "Of course, this is totally and completely insane. Just yesterday, my sister-in-law was asking me how, if I just signed up on Thursday, did I already have 200 followers? Today it is over 300. I can’t begin to fathom what exactly is so riveting about this drivel."  Me either.


Tuesday,  03/10/09  09:45 PM

Blogging at 38,432' high above Pennsylvania, thanks to VirginAmerica my new favorite airline, returning to L.A. from Boston.  This time I even found the power plug - unlimited online computing for 5½ hours, what could be better :)  This was a couldn’t sleep go go go busy day and I am still going; will land around midnight and by the time I get in bed it'll be about 24 hours after I got up.  Whew =O

ArsTechnica: the state of in-flight WiFi.  Now that I've experienced having it, not having it will be really painful.  I would go well out of my way to fly VirginAmerica again.

Ferrari F1 steering wheelWho knew?  Formula One steering wheel user interfaces.  Wow, I had no idea; the entire dashboard (and they are complicated) is in the center of the wheel.  Seems like you could go right off the road playing with all those little dials.

TTAC wants to become a subscription site.  Would I pay $12/year to visit TTAC?  Huh, tough question.  I might.  Currently the only website I can think of which I pay to visit is Salon, and I'm not sure that's worth it...  but I do it.

Panda's Thumb reports in detail on a Richard Dawkins lecture: "The purpose of purpose".  Wish I could have been there, but thanks to this report it feels like I was...

false apology cardsHere we have false apology cards.  Don't like 'em?  I'm sorry you feel that way :)

ZooBorn: newborn GibbonZooBorn of the day: a newborn Gibbon.


Wednesday,  03/11/09  11:24 PM

My coding deathmarch continues - today I was sequestered away in my office, coding, emerging only for short periods to eat and drink and, um, act human.  More of the same tomorrow, but first a little blogging...

I'm still on East Coast time, feels late.  Well it is late, but it feels later.  Yawn. - shopping online for shoes!So an update on my Endless shopping experiment...  so far the limitations of shopping for shoes without actually being able to try them on have been exposed.  The first pair I ordered didn't fit - just slightly too large - and so I returned them (no muss no fuss free shipping etc), and ordered a second pair, and these didn't fit either, and also they were uglier in real life than they were on the Internet.  So I returned them also, and have now ordered a third pair.  I must say it has been easy - it could be that third times a charm - or that this experiment is endless...  stay tuned.  (Isn't a great name?  Lends itself to endless puns...)

So 3/11; it doesn't quite have the same significance in the U.S. as 9/11, but for Spaniards and Europeans it does; today is the fifth anniversary of the Madrid train station bombing...

Congress has designated March 14 as National Pi Day (π =3.14...).  Good thing they're worrying about the important stuff, eh?  (No word on whether 3PM will be National Pi Hour :)

graph of real GDP decline in various recessionsPowerline puts the recession in context.  "So far, the current recession looks a lot more like the other post-war recessions than the Great Depression. The unique feature of today's economy is not the decline (so far) in GDP, but the financial crisis that has created chaos in our banks."

Rich Karlgaard thinks Washington should stop favoring short sellers.  A rather optimistic take on the current situation, overall, he thinks the economy is better than we think, masked by the banking crisis.  His prescription: 1) Suspend mark-to-market accounting, 2) Make the SEC enforce its own ban against naked shorting, 3) Reinstate the short-uptick rule.  "These are not radical suggestions."

Chrome: frozen page error messageJeff Atwood asks why can't error messages be fun?  Like the one at right; a graphic from Google Chrome for reporting a frozen page...

This makes total sense: Air France and KLM now offer boarding passes on mobile phones.  I can't wait to try it.  I'm sure it is only a matter of time before all airlines offer this.

awesome Brazilian windsurfing videoThe Horse's Mouth links an awesome Brazilian windsurfing video: Lucky Bastards, indeed.  In addition to being lucky, those guys are really good; imagine the practice it takes to be able to pull off these maneuvers on waves in that much wind.  Wow.

Okay, so much for that; I'm off to bed, and I'll see you tomorrow...


band spectacular

Thursday,  03/12/09  11:28 PM

Tonight I had the distinct pleasure of hitting pause on my self-imposed coding deathmarch (!) and attending the Oaks Christian School's second annual Band Spectacular.  And spectacular, it was.

The highlight was a performance by the Oaks Concert Band, featuring my daughter Megan on flute (that's her, dead center in the picture above, with her back to the camera).

I have to tell you, these kids sounded great.  Just as I experienced with the Oaks "Define" Dance Concert, the quality of the performance was impressive.  I'm not necessarily the biggest concert band fan, but I really enjoyed myself.

My hat's off to Ryan Kelly, the Director of Bands, and to all the kids, and to the school itself, for setting and achieving such a high goal.  Wow.


Thursday,  03/12/09  11:36 PM

My coding exile continued today; I had a meeting with a customer this morning but otherwise spent the whole day cloistered.  I'm making slow progress but it is quite a slog.  Anyway I'm poking my head out just for a moment, and huh, what do we have here?

Hey guess what, today I experienced endless success!  The third time was a charm, as today a new pair of spiffy tennis shoes arrived, they fit, and I like them.  Whew.  So this shopping-for-shoes-online thing can work!

the Antwerp diamond vaultHow to rob the world's most secure diamond vault.  A really great story, sort of a real life Italian Job :)

So Facebook has reworked my home page, and I don't think I like it.  I know, you have to get used to these things, but it seems like there is less information than before.  How lame is that?  I can understand merging the home page with the wall - I never got the difference anyway - and I can understand realtime updates (that's a good thing) but I can't understand not showing all my friends' updates.  Huh.

I know what you're thinking, you're thinking: huh, isn't that interesting that Ole even cares what Facebook did.  Yeah, I'm thinking that same thing.  Huh.

client/server hypertext: Tim Berners-Lee's diagram of "the Web"CNet notes twenty years ago Tim Berners-Lee authored information management: a proposal, thereby starting the Web.  Twenty years ago.  Just twenty.  I bet Tim would have been pretty amazed to have seen Facebook :)

I remember when Google bought Grand Central two years ago, and I didn't get it.  And so now Google has launched Google Voice, and it is either the Next Big Thing or I still don't get it.  I just haven't figured out which yet, but when I do, I'll tell you.  It offers you a single phone number which can be routed to home, office, or cellphone (big deal, I never answer my home phone and my office is permanently forwarded to my cell), and turns voicemail into email with a speech-to-text capability.  Doesn't seem overly compelling, but we'll see...

Jason Kottke thinks it sounds really spectacular.  Hmmm...

And finally: this is really cool: a 360o panorama of a coral reef, taken underwater:



remembering Daniel

Friday,  03/13/09  04:36 PM

Daniel Jacoby w Ernest ShackletonToday is the fifth anniversary of my great friend Daniel Jacoby's death.  If you're a regular reader you know I miss him and think of him often, and perhaps today is no different in that regard.  In fact, I not only think of him, I think like him, and this is the most valuable of all the things Daniel gave me. 

But one thing is different today, because I spent some time thinking about how strange it is that people's lifetimes are finite.  You exist, you do stuff, and you die, and depending on what you did while you are alive other people are affected by your existence.  (Most notably, if you have kids, they go on to affect others, and their kids, and their kids, and so on...)  At some level the most important thing you can do is to leave a legacy, to make the world better in some way.  I hope the work I've put into Digital Pathology while at Aperio will be like this, for example.

In addition to making the world better in some way, there is another kind of legacy, too; you can show other people how they can make the world better.  That has a lot of leverage.  The people we remember the best - the ones who have had the greatest impact - are the ones who have shown us how we can make the world better.  Maybe we don't use that information explicitly, but the glimpse is there, ratholed away, and affects us whether we realize it or not.  Daniel definitely contributed in this way; I know any number of people who are different - better - because of their interactions with Daniel.  He is gone, but his legacy lives on in each of us...


mega bonk

Saturday,  03/14/09  05:19 PM

Today I rode in the Solvang Century, and I bonked cramped seized everything - my worst day on a bike.  I managed to finish, but just barely.  And the worst of it is, I have no idea what happened.  I ate well yesterday, had a good breakfast, drank a lot, but I must have done or not done something...  I started with the lead group and for the first 50 miles hung with them nicely, and felt pretty strong actually.  I figure I was in about 20th - out of 4,500 riders!  (I hasten to point out I would not have finished 20th; there are a lot of fast riders who would have kicked past me at the end.)

This picture was taken at 55 miles in...  before it all went pear-shaped...

At 55 miles, still feeling good!

Just after this I began getting little crampy twinges, which got progressively worse.  A little later my power output began waning, and I was unceremoniously dropped by the lead pack.  By 75 miles I was a mess, with just about every muscle in my body cramping.  My progress slowed to a crawl as a steady progression of riders passed me.  At one point I stopped entirely, disabled by cramps, and I couldn't even stretch them out because my entire leg had seized up.  I seriously questioned whether I could finish; in the last 20 miles the Solvang century features a long steady climb and two sharp hills.

I went into the day thinking maybe I could break 5 hours of riding time (a 20mph average) and I was just behind that when my mega-bonk hit.  I ended up at 5:46; those last 20 miles took me an hour and a half =O.  I think I finished around 400th.

Well so be it; onward.  I would love to figure out what happened, but I may never know...

P.S. You might be wondering how my trusty ol' Kestrel did, in the wake of its disaster recovery.  So - it was excellent.  I didn't notice any difference, in fact, I was about halfway through the ride before it even occured to me to think about it.

[Update: (next day)...  I slept like a stone for 10 hours last night.  I think I was just exhausted.  I got three hours the night before this ride, and had been stressed and not sleeping for several days beforehand.  Memo to self: get enough sleep.  Not exactly a breakthough observation...]


Saturday,  03/14/09  09:09 PM

Still recovering from my mega-bonk...  Oh and by the way my deathmarch is over; I finally finished the code and checked it in Friday morning.  Whew.  Still more to do (always!), but I've relieved some pressure.

I am really tired; maybe it was the ongoing lack of sleep last week exacerbated by the pressure of the deathmarch that triggered the bonkage?

I still don't like the Facebook changes.  So there.  Dave Winer does, but I do not.  (He doesn't use Facebook, he is a Twitter guy...)

Gerard Vanderleun thinks Twitter validates Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is crap).  You must click through to see the picture; it's awesome.

Seems I was not alone in bonking today; Alberto Contador semi-bonked on the final climb of today's Paris-Nice stage and ceded three minutes to Luis Leon Sanchez, who is now leading the race.  The final stage is tomorrow...

human egg cellFifteen microscopic images from inside the human body.  Wow, these are so cool, like the human egg cell at left.

Maserati Gran Turismo STTAC reviews the Maserati Gran Turismo S.  There are many reasons to like this car, but let's face it; it has you at hello.  Beautiful.

BW reports on eBay's big plans for PayPal.  It took about two years for eBay to buy PayPal, and one of the reasons was because eBay didn't share PayPal's view of the huge strategic opportunity to displace credit cards as the payment instrument of choice on the web.  They're finally starting to see it; eight years after buying PayPal...  it seriously could end up bigger than eBay's auction business.

Robert Scoble has landed; he's starting a new social networking site called Building 43, "a place for people fanatical about the Internet".  So be it.

My friend Lil sent me this: an unbelievable juggling exhibition from Chris Bliss to the Beatles' Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End medley.  Absolutely amazing!



the ides of March ...

Sunday,  03/15/09  10:39 PM

... dum dum dum ...  beware ...

Did you know?  Ides is used for the 15th day of the month, but only in March, May, July, and October.  It apparently started because the ides was a full moon, but of course every 15th of March isn't a full moon.  The lunar calendar just doesn't align with the solar calendar that cleanly, much to the chagrin of ancient astronomers.

And so I spent today further recovering from my mega-bonk - which I now believe was mostly just lack of sleep, and was locked in my little office, cold rainy crummy day visible through the windows, coding and testing up a storm.  My mood is somber as the day.

And in the blogosphere, it's all happening...

Today I was working on some code, and Megan happened into my office, and there was a comment block at the top of a function labeled "process arguments".  Which she thought was hilarious.  And now that my attention is called to it, that is a rather funny convention we use, isn't it?  Parameters, sure, variables, why not, but arguments?

IBM IntellimouseI have the world's oldest mouse, an IBM Intellimouse which has to be ten years old.  I love it.  The little pointing stick thingie is great - much less finger movement than a wheel to scroll up and down.  And even though it is a mechanical mouse (with a removable ball!) and even though it is serial and not USB and even though I don't use a mousepad, it works great.

GE's augmented realitySo I tried this augmented reality thing from GE and it works, but somehow it isn't quite as cool as I thought.  You print out this pattern on a piece of paper, and hold up the paper to your camera, and then as you move the paper around the graphics on the screen change.  I guess the pattern recognition in the camera stream is impressive, but in a dancing bear sort of way, not in a wow this is really useful sort of way.  Try it and see what you think...

PS not clear what this has to do with "smart grids", either...

I see that uncov is gone.  Ted Dziuba has finally called it quits.  First it was great, then it faded, then it was put on hold, then it came back...  but now, it is gone.  So be it.  I still use the phrase "fail" often.

Yammer!My old friend and colleague David Sacks has a new startup called Yammer ("what are you working on?").  Seems to be a sort of Twitter for work.  Which, since I don't understand Twitter, I don't understand.  Still David is really smart - the best user-experience person I ever worked with - and he's probably way ahead of me on this...

Thursday I noted Google Voice had launched, the relaunch of Grand Central in the wake of Google's acquisition, with the value proposition being that you have one number which routes to all your phones.  And it occurred to me that while this isn't useful for me to use, it is useful to me for you to use!  So all of you with four phone numbers, please use this service so I just have to call you in one place :)

Luis Leon Sanchez wins Paris-NiceSo Luis Leon Sanchez won Paris-Nice, defeating Alberto Contador who finished fourth after his bonk yesterday.  This was a good loss for Alberto, I bet he learns from it.  No need to attack the way he did, using precious energy.  But congratulations to Sanchez, what a great result for him!

Finally today was NCAA selection day, the brackets for March Madness have been set.  Weirdly I have no rooting interest this year, have hardly paid attention to college basketball at all.  I guess I'll fall back on my default and root for UCLA.  Time to warm up the 'old Tivo...


2009 bracketology

Monday,  03/16/09  06:56 PM

2009 NCAA bracket - Ole's picks!

Here it is, for your amusement; Ole's picks for the 2009 NCAA tournament.  You already know I haven't been following basketball much this year, and many of these picks were hunches or going with a hot player or just picking the higher seed.  And yeah, I have UCLA winning, and they're a #6 seed, so that's a stretch.  Anyway stay tuned and we'll laugh at this together :)


Monday,  03/16/09  09:01 PM

Back to normal... or what passes for normal in my life :)  The coding deathmarch is over - code done, checked in, and being tested - my dismal century last Saturday is a distant memory (bonk? what bonk?) and I am planning ahead a bit.  An interesting measure of how happy I am is the distance to my time horizon; when things are good, I am thinking ahead, when things are bad, I am living in the present trying to make it from moment to moment.  (And when things are really bad, I live in the past :)  So, onward...

Did you know?  Our economy is sound after all.  Perhaps McCain or anyone would have struggled this badly, but I must tell you Obama has not been impressive.

Powerline says let's hear it for bankruptcy, with which I agree wholeheartedly; the AIG bailout shows the problem with bailouts, and we're going to have a lot more of these problems before we're through.  Not to mention, the precedent definitely creates a moral hazard.

...nylon...Mental floss: Eight brilliant scientific screw-ups.  My favorite is Nylon, which was discovered when trying to make synthetic milk.  I am not making this up.  I'm not sure "screw-ups" is the right description, this kind of serendipitous discovery is a key part of all science...

growing up on facebook...NYTimes: Growing up on Facebook...  the tone of this article, like many reviewing the new online social networks is maudlin, like the author wishes for the old world.  But it is what it is, our kids are growing up in this world, and we are living in it.  Better get used to it, this genie is not going back in the bottle...

Darren Waters at BBC thinks social networks are the new email.  Bzzzzt, that's not right.  Email is the new email, same as it ever was.  Social networks are something else, they do other things, even if using them sometimes has the one-to-many character of email.

A quote I've heard often in different connections, this time referring to computer operating systems: "The head of Black and Decker once said, folks don’t buy our products because they want one inch drills, they buy our stuff because they want one inch holes." Excellent.  [ via Daring Fireball ]

Teams invited for the 2009 Tour de FranceThe teams invited for the 2009 Tour de France have been announced.  Reading the list, it occurred to me how weird it is.  There is a team from Kazakhstan, Astana, and it is not only the best in the world, but it includes Lance Armstrong and Levi Leipheimer, the two top Americans, and Alberto Contador, the top Spaniard.  Not to mention Andreas Kloden, a top German, and Yaroslav Popovich, a top Russian.  How weird is that?

ZooBorns: Sun Bear cubsAww, the ZooBorns of the day are two little Sun Bear cubs...


Happy Lá ’le Pádraig!

Tuesday,  03/17/09  08:16 AM


green bikes! - Happy St' Patrick's Day!

Happy Lá ’le Pádraig to y'all!



Tuesday,  03/17/09  08:39 PM

Green Day: warning:Did you have a nice green day?  Excellent, me too.  Busy busy busy but nice nice nice.  Got a lot done.  And meanwhile, it's all happening...

green bike lane!Perfect for St. Patrick's Day: Green is the new black!  In which crucial sections of bike paths are colored green to call attention to them for both bikes and cars.  What an excellent idea, I love it!

PS and of course for a green bike lane you need a green bike :)

Michael Franc in the NRO asks Where's Alex?  (meaning Alexander Hamilton)  About how citizens are now more involved with the Federal government than their local ones...  your attention follows your money.  "Obviously, the far better solution to this mess is not to send all those dollars to Washington in the first place."  Obviously.

Chris Muir: day-by-day for 3/18/09Chris Muir's day-by-day is excellent today...

John Battle on The Change: It's very sorta Twitter (Facebook, that is).  I commented: "Unlike many of you [apparently] I was/am a Facebook user but not a Twitter user. And I don't like the changes at all. If I want to Tweet or be Tweeted, I'll use Twitter. Facebook used to show me more information about my friends, static information rather than dynamic. Now it is down to just showing me what my friends are doing *now*, and that isn't as interesting to me. Net net I think this was a mistake, Twitter already exists and Facebook shouldn't try to be Twitter, they should keep being Facebook."

PS there is more here on Facebook's blog.

Jeff Atwood remembers the hardest interview puzzle question ever.  He doesn't like "puzzle" interview questions, but as I commented: "As someone who poses interview questions a lot (and answers them rarely if ever) I must tell you, they are really important. Until we are allowed to give candidates IQ tests they are the best / only way we have to form an estimate of how smart people are, in the sense of how they think. And the interaction of working through a puzzle together gives you a chance to see how they think, how they problem solve, and how they handle stressful situations."

My own hardest interview puzzle question would be the two switches...

Maverick's: the green wave...The wave of the day, from the horse's mouth...  taken at Maverick's, of course...  you have to  love that color!

ZooBorns: black-necked swan cygnetsZooBorns of the day: Black-necked swan cygnets.  ("cygnets"? who knew?)

Wired: How to make small talk.  Good to know :)


the first bird

Wednesday,  03/18/09  01:05 AM

the first bird...I am somewhat intermittently rereading The New New Thing, Michael Lewis' book about Jim Clark, dating from 1999; the height of the Internet boom.  I was struck by a passage about "the first bird".  Jim Clark and Michael Lewis are at sea, sailing from Europe to the Caribbean on Clark's computer-controlled mega-yacht, and before their landfall they see a solitary figure: the first bird.  The first bird is a cheery site for the crew of a boat because it means land is nearing, but it isn't great for the bird; likely, it has strayed too far from land and cannot make it back.  An interesting metaphor for Clark himself.  There is a chance the bird cannot make it back to the land it has left, but is nearing new land ahead.  I sometimes feel exactly like such a bird.  I cannot turn back, it would be too far, so I must press on hoping to find new land.  Onward!


Friday,  03/20/09  07:19 PM

Sorry I skipped two days, just too busy.  Coding.  Attending meetings.  Running out of gas on the freeway.  Watching basketball.  Riding (a little).  Worrying (a lot).

And so the Ole filter makes a pass...

Not good news: 4.3M babies born in U.S. in 2007.  Don't get me wrong, I love babies; babies are powerful.  But this is unnatural selection for sure.  I'd love to see graph of babies born vs family income.  Yeah, I know, my resolution to work on my book this year isn't working out...  yet...

WSJ: 536,600 minutes... and just one IPO.  It was Rackspace.  This is the worst period ever for IPOs, even including the dot-com crash and post-911.  Wow.

chrome logoI have a browser open [almost] all the time with a few pages open; my blog (!), my Facebook home page (!!), etc., and for years my browser of choice has been Firefox.  Lately I've been experimenting with using Chrome for this purpose.  Kind of interesting; it is definitely faster and uses less memory than Firefox.  Don't tell me about other people's benchmarks, this is a real world thing, and it is real.  I still use Firefox as my default browser because of Adblock; Chrome's biggest deficiency at the moment is lack of plug-ins.  But other than that, Chrome rules.

Safari is an interesting contender.  The speed of Chrome, but not the memory thriftiness or solidity.  And doesn't have plug-ins, no Adblock.  But unlike many I like the tabs at the top, because I keep my browser at the top, so they poke out.

Meanwhile, IE8 is out.  Yawn.  Yet another Microsoft browser which is incompatible with all others, although apparently this one is less incompatible than IE7.  So be it.

It is interesting that a lot of the competition between browsers centers on which can interpret JavaScript the fastest.  Personally I don't care; they're all fast [enough].  I care about security, Adblock (!), stability, and usability.

the first bird... leading the flockYou guys liked the first bird.  Me, too.  Rereading the passage in the book, I realize there is more than one way to be first, you can be first in space (farthest from old land, closest to new) or first in time.  Nobody is as isolated as a guy ahead of his time.  But the difference is that time moves, land doesn't.  So if you just wait, the world will catch up.  It isn't in the nature of a first bird to wait however :)

Saturn: a quadruple transit (taken by Hubble)Wow, check this out, a quadruple transit on Saturn!  And this picture was take by the Hubble space telescope orbiting Earth, not by Cassini.  Looks like a scene from a movie.

Remember I wrote about when new versions suck?  Well I have a problem; I am running Norton Antivirus 2003 and I need to upgrade.  I am really really afraid of Norton Antivirus 2009.  I'm afraid it will be slow, intrusive, crappy, and get in my way.  And try to sell me stuff.  And break my machine.  But I have to do it; I need antivirus software and I can't keep running a version written seven years ago.  Oh well, every bad that happens is a good story later; please stay tuned...

Speaking of new versions sucking, check this out: a Facebook app which is a survey about whether people like the new Facebook home page.  Over 1,060,000 users have said they don't (vs 66,000 which do).  I would say the dogs do not like the new dog food.  What's weirdest about this to me is that it was entirely predictable.  Facebook knows their users.  This is what happens when the boardroom makes product decisions.  ("Let's be more like Twitter")  The good news is that it's not too late to change back :)

Terrafugio flying care (drivable plane)Wow, a real flying car.  Actually it is more like a drivable plane.  Still...  This is one of the biggest things science fiction writers in the 50s missed; they thought this would be easier, and by 2009 we'd all have them.  Not yet ;(  [ via Philip Greenspun ]

David Pogue interviews Shai Agassi of Better Place.  "Most of the car efforts were done from within the car, and assuming that there is no infrastructure change at all. It’s as if people were trying to build cars, but skipping over the gas station.  We started from the infrastructure."  I am so rooting for these guys to make it.

nuclear power? yes, please!ArsTechnica: Nuclear power?  Yes, please!  Absolutely yes.  "Nuclear power is safe, affordable, and the waste problems are much more manageable than the public realizes. That was the take-home message from this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago, where a group of experts from the US and EU participated in a session called "Keeping the Lights On: The Revival of Nuclear Energy for Our Future." "

cute little Tasmanian DevilHe isn't a ZooBorn, but we have to feature this little guy; a cute little Tasmanian Devil.  There's more to this story than the Devil, however; turns out these guys are threatened by a mysterious disease, and two young sailors, Paul Carter and Jamie Duncan, set out to bring some awareness to the plight of the animal, and raise money for research to find a cure before the species is wiped out, by making the crossing of the Bass Strait in a 14' skiff.  Excellent.


Madness: Round One

Saturday,  03/21/09  09:06 AM

Games I have watched (at least partially):

  • Memphis(2) over Cal State Northridge(15) - 81-70.  CSN put up a good fight but was outmanned in the end.  FS=02:50*.
  • Purdue(5) squeaks U. Northern Iowa(12) - 61-56.  Purdue looked dominant early but got caught and almost blew it.  They made their free throws.  FS=00:05.
  • Maryland(10) rolls Cal(7) - 84-71.  Fun game to watch, they seemed evenly matched but then suddenly Maryland pulled away.  Watch out for them, looked great for a #10...  FS=04:00.
  • Michigan(10) upsets Clemson(7) - 62-59.  Great game, I was rooting for Michigan.  They pulled out a nice lead in the second half, but Clemson caught and almost passed them at the end.  FS=00:00.
  • Gonzaga(4) survives Akron(13) - 77-64.  You'd never know it from the score, but this one was close.  One big rally in the second half gave Gonzaga the breathing room to survive.  FS=02:00.
  • UCLA(6) wins at the wire over Virginia Commonwealth(11).  Wow.  Great game.  I am rooting for UCLA - yeah, they are my [admittedly unlikely] pick to win it all - but I have to admit, VCU game them all they could handle.  One missed shot at the buzzer decided it.  FS=00:00.
  • Syracuse(3) blows out Stephen Austin(14) - 59-44.  I'm tempted to say FS=40:00, but in truth it was FS=20:00.  Didn't watch much of this one...
  • Kansas(3) holds off North Dakota State(14) - 84-74.  This game was never really in doubt, but it was fun because ND kept hanging in there, and you just didn't know if they could suddenly close it up.  I would not say Kansas looked great.  The gap was only 6 with a minute left.  FS=00:45.
  • Marquette(6) barely beats Utah State(11) - 58-57.  Watched the last two minutes, they were great.  Again won on the line at the finish.  FS=00:00.
  • Arizona State(6) handily wins over Temple(11) - 66-57.  Didn't really enjoy this one, don't know why.  Low energy.  FS=0030.
  • Pittsburgh(1) pulls it out against Eastern Tennessee State(16) - 72-62.  This one was bad basketball, but it was fun watching Pitt struggle.  You could see they were thinking "I can't believe we're not killing these guys".  But they couldn't pull away.  FS=01:00.
  • Louisville(1) blows out Morehead(16) - 74-54.  A classic #1 vs #16 match, it was over before it started.  FS=20:00.
  • USC(1) "upsets" Boston College(7) - 72-55.  Everyone in the Pac-10 knows USC is dangerous, and they proved it.  They are not a #10.  They rolled against a good BC team.  Michigan State better be ready.  FS=05:00.
  • Sienna(9) out-clutches Ohio State(8) in second overtime - 72-72.  This was a great wonderful game.  Two evenly matched teams, both playing well, and it went down to the wire, then another wire, and then a clutch shot at the end.  Wow.  I was rooting for Sienna, not knowing anything about them, because I have friends who picked Ohio State in their brackets :)  This is why you watch.  FS=00:00.
  • Wisconsin(12) surprises Florida State(5) in overtime - 61-59.  A totally classic #12 over #5 match, in which defense predominated.  I had picked FSU but in retrospect this would have been a good upset to call.  FS=00:00

The Wisconsin FSU overtime was interleaved with Sienna's overtimes against OSU, it was an amazing half hour of basketball.  Always set your Tivo for an extra hour.  Always!

* I don't remember where I got it, but I use this concept called the "fridge score" when watching a game (FS above).  This refers to Chick Hearn's famous "this game is in the refrigerator" call, when a game is still being played but the result is no longer in question.  The fridge score is the time at which this happens; the lower the score, the better the game.  A fridge score of 00:00 is what you want :)

When you have 20+ games on your Tivo, the fridge score has another meaning too; it means the point at which you fast forward to the next game :)  I must confess, I also sometimes fast forward through the first half.  The game is always decided in the second half.  Always.

One good thing; this year CBS doesn't seem to have the "cult of the coach" thing going quite as much.  Yeah a good coach matters, but let's face it, they don't determine the outcome, the players do.  I would say [for example] that a football coach has way more effect on the outcome of a game than a basketball coach.

original Tivo + original SlingboxMan, there have been a lot of commercials.  I don't watch them, but I have to blip my Tivo past them, and just that was annoying.  Just as bad are the house ads; why does CBS promote March Madness from within the games?  We're already watching!  I think the basketball / commercial ratio is lower this year than ever...

I'm watching the tourney with old technology.  My original Tivo Series/1 is now ten years old (upgraded a long time ago with an 80MB drive).  My original Slingbox is now four years old.  Still I must tell you it works great...  I'm able to blog / code / email / surf / whatever and watch the basketball at the same time.  Lovin' it.


Sunday,  03/22/09  09:07 AM

Spent yesterday working, and watching basketball (I'll review Madness Round Two when I've had a chance to watch all of it)... had intended to ride, but did not...

... and last night Shirley and I attended "Swinging on a Star", the Assistance League of Conejo Valley's annual charity auction (for which Shirley was co-chair).  It was a great event, featuring the Harry Selvin orchestra, a "big band" jazz ensemble featuring some awesome musicians, many/most well over 60 (I'm guessing).  Emcee Bill Jones did a wonderful job too, not only running the live auctions but describing some of the philanthropic activities of the ALCV to help motivate bidders.  Best of all the event raised a lot of money; of course with the economy being what it is we were afraid people might not be able to contribute as much as in previous years, but it seems things went better than expected.

Saxo Bank Tour of California Team JerseyOh, and yes I did win an auction for a Saxo Bank team jersey, signed by their entire Tour of California team: Fabian Cancellara, Jens Voigt, Stuart O'Grady, Jason McCartney, J.J.Haedo, Gustav Larsson, and Frank and Andy Schleck.  It was donated by George Morrow, EVP of Amgen and key sponsor of the Tour of California.  I'm not a sports memorabilia person but this is cool.

I'm sure you've heard about Barack Obama's gift to Gordon Brown, a collection of 25 DVDs...  so it turns out they are region-coded for the U.S., and can't be watched on U.K. DVD players.  Heh.

Instapundit: Bush league?  This isn't even A ball.

Victor David Hanson: Why are so many Americans depressed?  A great analysis.  And... somewhat depressing.  Seriously.

Scott Loftesness tells a great Henry Kissinger anecdote: Is this the best you can do?  Who knows if it is true, it could be true, and it is great no matter what.

The Force: action figure :)The best Star Wars action figure.  I love it.  And may it always be with you :)

Mark Cavendish wins Milan - San RemoSo my hat is fully off to Mark Cavendish for winning the Milan - San Remo cycling race, proving that he is more than "just" a sprinter.  300K over hill and dale, and then a bunch sprint with the break.  Whew.

From a year ago: Paul Graham's ontology of ways to disagree.  I still agree with this :)  Well worth keeping in mind while reading "the news".

Robert Scoble: Why Facebook has never listened to its users and won't start now.  They might not, but they should.  If nothing else it would give people like Robert something new to blog about...  and also it would make me oh so very happy because I really dislike the new home page.  To the point where I've stopped Facebooking, there's no there there anymore...

Dave Winer: What Firefox should do.  Essentially, break the mold and implement stuff in a browser which has never been there before...  I fully agree with this.  Firefox could be a platform, but if they're not careful Google Chrome will get there first.

I missed this, but it's cool: Apple adds HD video purchases to the iTunes Store.  You could totally see this coming.  Blockbuster is so very dead.  And I think I think I think Netflix too, although they might have a chance.

49ers racing at World Championships in WeymouthSailing pic of the day: 49ers racing at the World Championships in Weymouth.  Excellent.

TP52 Artemis going to weatherRunner up for sailing pic of the day: TP52 Artemis going to weather.  Awesome.


Madness: Round Two

Monday,  03/23/09  01:09 AM

We are not going to say much about the UCLA game, okay?  We're just... not.  My bracket is a shambles, of course it was a flyer to pick a #6 to go all the way, and so be it.  Meanwhile, there was some great basketball; I watched 'em all (at least partially):

  • Villanova(3) blew out UCLA(6) - 89-69.  Painful.  I'm going to say FS=35:00*, and I mean it.
  • Memphis(2) in a laugher over Maryland(10) - 89-79.  Not fun to watch, FS=20:00+.
  • UConn(1) steamrolled Texas A&M(9) - 92-66.  Third straight demolition (fast forwarding a lot).  FS=20:00+.
  • Purdue(5) squeaked by Washington(4) - 76-74.  Finally a good game, as the Huskies came back in the second half and kept it exciting to the end.  FS=00:20.
  • North Carolina(1) pulled away from LSU(8) - 84-70.  A nice close game, with LSU thinking they could do it until about five minutes to go, when UNC pulled away cleanly.  FS=05:00.
  • Oklahoma(2) powers by Michigan(10) - 73-63.  A really physical game, not pretty to watch...  FS=03:00.
  • Duke(2) grinds it out over Texas(7) - 74-69.  The best game of the day, really well played.  That save going out of bounds was the play of the tournament, and probably won it for Duke.  FS=00:10.
  • Gonzaga(4) wins at the buzzer over Western Kentucky(12) - 83-81.  Close and evenly matched all the way, with a bank shot at the end to win it.  The perfect end to Saturday's games.  FS=00:00.
  • Syracuse(3) handled Arizona State(6) - 78-67.  Not pretty but it worked; Syracuse are pretty physical.  Arizona State kept hanging around but had too many turnovers to win.  FS=03:00.
  • Xavier(4) over Wisconsin(12) - 60-49.  A defensive struggle, with Xavier finally getting on track at the end.  You kept thinking maybe Wisconsin could do it, but FS=02:30.
  • Kansas(3) blew out Dayton(11) - 43-60.  This game was really never in doubt.  FS=12:00.
  • Arizona(12) cleanly defeated Cleveland State(13) - 71-57.  A match between two over-achievers, with Arizona looking like they belonged.  I fear they won't be able to handle Louisville, but we'll see.  FS=03:00.
  • Pittsburgh(1) survived Oklahoma State(8) - 84-76.  Much closer than anyone thought, a fun game.  FS=01:00.
  • Michigan State(2) overpowered USC(10) - 74-69.  A close hard-fought battle, I was rooting for 'SC of course and they almost pulled it off.  FS=00:30.
  • Louisville(1) just nips Sienna(9) - 79-72.  Seemed like Louisville was cruising but then Sienna caught them and made it really interesting before Louisville won the foul shot battle at the end.  FS=00:15.
  • Missouri(3) by a nose over Marquette(6) - 83-79.  Only saw the end of this one, but it was great.  FS=00:00.

* As before FS means "fridge score", the time at which the game is no longer in doubt.

And so pretty much the seeding ran to form, with only Arizona (a #12) a surprise amongst the sweet 16 teams (and I picked them to do it, yay me).  A great great weekend of basketball, I don't know how it happened but the best games each day came at the end.  And despite the crapload of commercials I do think CBS did a nice job of switching around; given they could only show one game at a time (!) they did pretty well.

See you next Thursday, same time, same channel!


Monday,  03/23/09  11:18 PM

A quiet day of work, while listening to the frozen wind howl...  spent a lot of time directing traffic.  You would think I’ve used up my life’s quota of sent emails by now.  And *sigh* I have not ridden in three days (bad prep for my first double in six months, coming up this Saturday...)

NAV 2009 logoI survived a brush with near-computer-death; I successfully upgraded from Norton Antivirus 2003 to NAV 2009.  And not only was it a relatively smooth upgrade, but now that it's done, my computer feels faster.  I know, precelebration is the root of all failure, but so far I'm delighted by the non-fiasco.

And in a related move, I upgraded from IE7 to IE8.  So far so good, although it perpetuates the Microsoft tradition of being incompatible with everything and forcing everyone else to adapt.

Still to do: upgrading SQLServer to SP3.  That also has real disaster potential.

Powerline wonders are we going bankrupt?  "One wonders whether a people as feckless as we evidently are deserves to survive."  It is depressing.

ABC reports JPMorgan Chase, a recipient of TARP funds, is proceeding with a $138M plan to buy two new corporate jets.  Even if this makes sense (and it could) the optics are horrible.  Wow.

Instapundit collects a list of MSM criticisms of Obama.  Buyer's remorse is definitely setting in.

Steve Wozniak: dancing bearI have a confession to make: last night I watched Dancing with the Stars.  Well just part of it; I had to see Steve Wozniak dance.  And I must tell you, he doesn't suck, but he doesn't belong in this competition either.  It was in fact the perfect example of a dancing bear - cool, but not useful.  CNet's take: the Worm turns sour.

Really useful: Smiley Icons.  Both graphic and ASCII...    :)

Michael Barry, a rider on Columbia Highroad, blogs about the Milan - San Remo race (which his teammate Mark Cavendish won).  I love these "inside the peloton" type of reports.

I keep thinking I have to play with Yahoo Pipes.  "Yahoo Pipes provides an interactive, web-based way to manipulate information from the web in order to create custom feeds and web apps. With its graph-based, Lego-like GUI you can pull data from RSS sources, Flickr, Yahoo search, arbitrary web pages, and more."  It has been out for two years now, and seems like it should be really useful, but somehow it is just a solution looking for a problem.  Maybe if I just tried it, I'd think things I could do with it...

California creation museumHere we have...  a creationist museum in California!
The mind boggles.  [ via LGF ]

ZooBorn: fluffy little porcupineZooBorn of the day: a fluffy little porcupine.


LV Madonna

Tuesday,  03/24/09  08:01 PM

Louis Vuitton: Madonna

From the back cover of the New Yorker, this ad for Louis Vuitton, featuring Madonna
what it has to do with LV, I don't know - a celebrity endorsement? - but
I love it


Tuesday,  03/24/09  09:10 PM

Spent today working from home, unusually for a Tuesday; this is my "meeting day" so I was on the 'phone for most of it...  was able to do a little work in parallel, but only a little...  and then I joined the Red Group of the Conejo Valley Cyclists; they ride every Tuesday, but I can't usually join them, so this was a nice treat.  I needed a good hard ride, I have a double coming up Saturday, and my brain needed defogging.

I am feeling like, in daily updates, I am posting too much stuffWhat do you think?

Boing Boing: Democratic North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan Saw What Was Coming (and no one listened!)  "'I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930's is true in 2010,' said Senator Byron L. Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota."  That was in 1999.  Good call.

From Inhabitat: top ten greenwash.  "Now that green is trendy, marketers are starting see green when they hear the term ‘green’. As the green movement grows, so does the amount of ‘green-wash’ out there - stuff that is marketed to look ‘green’, organic or healthy, but in reality is anything but."  1) ‘Eco-shaped’ bottled water, 2) Hybrid SUVs, 3) Carbon credits.

Google Voice logoJohn Patrick reviews Google Voice.  He likes it.  "When you start out you get a phone number for most any area code you want. The new number then becomes your only number. When someone calls it your cell phone, your office phone, you home phone, and a vacation home phone all ring."  As I noted before, I already have only one number so this isn't that cool for me, but I wish all of you would get it so I only need one number to call you!

Levi Leipheimer wins Castilla y Leon time trialInteresting doings at the Vuelta a Castilla y León in northern Spain; I'm sure you've heard Lance Armstrong crashed yesterday and broke his collarbone, so today Levi Leipheimer won the time trial, with Alberto Contador second.  Any question about whether Astana isn't the best team in the world?

inch-sized amoebaFrom Collision Detection: Incredibly weird, inch-wide single-celled creatures discovered rolling across the sea floor.  "It’s a single cell, it’s the size of a grape, and it propels itself across the ocean floor: Behold the Bahamian Gromia - one of the strangest beasts yet discovered in the briny deep."  The more we learn about this world, the more amazed we are at the diversity of life.  Wow.

Wow, who would have guessed?  TechCrunch reports Facebook Relents: Users Get More Control With Redesign Tweaks.  Wow, I can't wait.  I've basically stopped using Facebook, it is that much worse than it was.

Nine good things the Internet has ruined forever.  A good list.  #1 is privacy, #2 is journalism, and #5 is OMG Lists :)

Chris Anderson: My letter to the Economist.  "As a former Economist technology writer, I understand the attractions of 'simplify, then exaggerate'. But in the case of your article on freeconomics ('The end of free lunch—again', March 19th), you have done a bit too much of both."  I read that article, and I thought so too...

flowchart: which Internet blowhard am I?A handy chart from Wired: which Internet blowhard am I?  I love it.  I think I might be Chris Anderson :)

ZooBorn: world's cutest Francois LangurZooBorn of the day: the world's cutest Francois Langur.  Who could argue?

Well so far my "don't post so much" resolution isn't working out very well.  Good night!


Wednesday,  03/25/09  11:06 PM

Today was a bad day.  Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do, and you put them off, and then you finally do them and it is just as bad as you thought but you also feel a sense of relief afterward.  And so it was.  And will be...

It was also a day of living dangerously; I spent most of the day working offline while installing SQLServer Express SP3, .NET CLR 3.5, and Visual Studio 2008.  Fortunately Microsoft makes it possible to run VS2008 in parallel with VS2005, unfortunately the solution and project files are incompatible, so there's a merry dance trying to use both with the same projects.  Nonetheless I am determined to press on; I find VS2005 so hideously slow that I must switch to VS2008 (which I'm told is significantly faster) as soon as possible.  Stay tuned for more...  probably, much more...

Bush deficit vs Obama deficitThis picture is worth two trillion dollars: the Bush deficit vs the Obama deficit.  What can we say.

Alex Castellanos: things I learned Tuesday night from President Obama's press conference.  "Obama and congressional Democrats are angry that greedy Wall Street executives took $165 million in bonuses that the president and congressional Democrats gave them."  It would be funnier if it weren't so sad.

Liberia's Blackboard BloggerLiberia's Blackboard Blogger.
  Now that's cool.

Clive Thompson: Troll taming at  "Mr. President, bring on the trolls. The commentosphere is ready for them."  And may the best bot win...

Not-the-Onion headline of the day: U.S. bill seeks to rescue faltering newspapers.  Seriously, first we bail out the car companies who make cars nobody wants to drive, and now we bail out the media companies who sell papers nobody wants to read?  Whatever happened to "let the market decide"?

Appetite for Self-Destruction - a new book about how digital killed Big MusicArsTechnica: Lancing the f**king boil: how digital killed Big Music.  A review of Steve Knopper's new book, Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age.  Sounds humorous and informative.

Dave Winer: Me, Amazon, Scoble.  "So this insight led me to wonder if Amazon, being the smart, ambitious, rich company that it is, has already figured this out and is lying in wait to pounce on Facebook, or maybe buy them if the price gets attractive.  I can't imagine that they're not on top of this."  The essential insight: recommendations from your friend network are worth more than generic recommendations, which are valuable when buying... makes sense...

ZooBorn: Clouded Leopard kittenZooBorn of the day, and maybe the year:
Clouded Leopard kitten.


seeing Morning Light

Thursday,  03/26/09  10:05 PM

Tonight Meg and I attended a special fundraiser for the Westlake Sailing Foundation; a private screening of the movie Morning Light, hosted by Roy Disney.  The movie tells the story of a pseudo-reality-show setup: Roy Disney, an avid ocean racer, holds a sailoff to select fifteen young sailors to form a team to compete in the 2007 TransPac race from Long Beach to Honolulu.  After six months of training, the fifteen must decide among themselves on the final eleven who will compete in the race, sailing the TP52 Morning Light.  The first half of the movie is all about the training and the selection, and the second half is footage from the race itself, in which Morning Light ended up [redacted].

We really enjoyed the movie.  It somehow really captures the essence of long-distance ocean racing, the preparation, the incredible stretches of time, the waiting and the panic and the drudgery and the excitement.  Headlessly after eight days of racing Morning Light find themselves on the same patch of water as their arch-rivals, another TP52 called Samba Pa Ti manned by a professional racing crew.  For two days, they race neck-and-neck, day and night.

The movie also seems to capture the tension and possibility of being young (the crew are all in their early 20s) and of proving yourself to the world and yourself.  I don't know if the movie is going to be released theatrically, but it will definitely be on DVD and iTunes; highly recommended.

The fund raiser was really well done, too; there was a nice reception beforehand, some great raffle prizes were given away, and of course having Roy Disney there to introduce the movie and answer questions about it afterward was special.

PS Meg and I arrived to the theater late and ended up in the second row.  It has been a long time since I've watched a movie that close.  It was pretty cool, at times the boats fairly flew in the air in front of us, and you could feel the salt spray :)


Thursday,  03/26/09  10:14 PM

Today was way better than my day-before-today (it could hardly have been worse :); drove down to Vista, had a productive meeting, and then booked back in the afternoon in time to see Morning Light with Meg.  Did not watch any basketball; no spoilers please, I'm a Tivo guy.

I am super excited about today because driving home yesterday I got this idea for a new web service… I’m looking forward to cranking on it today.  Stay tuned for more; I am from the "do it then talk about it" school of programming :)

Ridiculously bad business story of the week month year: Google: Beware the eBay curse.  There are so many problems here, it is hard to know where to start.  First, Google and eBay in no way have similar business models.  Second, the premise that eBay suffered because of bad acquisitions is flawed; PayPal was a massive success, and while Skype hasn't generated a lot of revenue, it hasn't been a failure either.  And the "advice" is horrible; buy Twitter?  Well maybe, but there's no revenue there either.  Get better at acquisitions?  Like, YouTube?  What is this advice, exactly?  This is when you realize that journalism students were not necessarily the smartest people in their class.

Tesla Model S!Wow, a new Tesla.  I think it's beautiful.  And their target price is $50,000!  Of course, with deliveries starting in 2011, a lot may happen.  They are planning to ship 20,000 of these a year...  Apparently these pictures were leaked and then there was an official announcement.  The Tesla blog has more, too.  To keep this in perspective, with all the hype about electric cars and all, Tesla is currently the only company shipping all-electric cars.  So they do have some credibility...

peak water!An impending crisis?  How peak water would reshape civilization...  "If you think peak oil is a big deal, then just wait until the peak water crisis is in full swing. Experts say that in many areas aquifers and rivers are starting to run dry as human consumption and other factors are straining one of our most essential resources: fresh water."  This has been a theme for Ottmar Liebert for some time, and I'm hearing it more and more...

Scoble continues his comeback as a blogger: Facebook is lucky it missed buying Twitter and now should eat Yelp.  There's a lot in there and it is hard to summarize; click through and read the whole thing...

PS Yelp was founded by Jeremy Stoppelman, another overachieving ex-PayPal-colleague.  Being ex-pre-IPO-PayPal is worse than graduating from Caltech :)

The Onion: the most alienating airport in the worldFrom the incompatible Onion: The most alienating airport in the world.  Not only is the satire spot-on, but the production values in these videos is amazing.

And finally tomorrow I have to eat and eat and eat today, and drink and drink and drink, as I'm riding the Solvang Double Century tomorrow, my first double in six months.  Wish me luck...


The Joy of Craftsmanship, II

Friday,  03/27/09  06:40 PM

If you've been reading for a while - well, a long while :) - you might remember The Joy of Craftsmanship, a post about my local bike shop and my favorite mechanic.  Well today he did it again, and so today I am posting about him again :)

Ksyrium SL rear axle - oil those spokes!Ever since my bike has been "back" - ever since my weird disaster recovery - it's made a funny sound, kind of a tinkling sound, like there was a playing card clothespinned to twang against my spokes.  (Remember that?  Nah, I don't either.  But I've read about it.)  So I checked and there were no playing cards, and no loose spokes, and nothing loose at all.  It was a mystery.  I knew it wasn't the frame itself; frames creak sometimes, but they don't twang. 

So today I took my bike in to have it checked out.  Turns out it was simple, my mechanic knew immediately.  Squirt a little oil on the spokes, right where they connect to the back axle, and poof, the noise was gone...  Delightful. 

He checked out all my cables and tweaked the derailleur just a little, and so now I am ready for my double tomorrow.  Yay!


Madness: Round Three

Friday,  03/27/09  09:29 PM

Yeah, I watched 'em all (and amazingly called quite a few of 'em right, except for UCLA's trail which of course I called completely and utterly wrong.):

  • Connecticut(1) outlasted Purdue(5) - 72-60.  An ugly first half, both teams looked rocky, but Connecticut pulled it together and cruised in the second...  We'll say FS=10:00*, realistically...  
  • Pitt(1) clawed back and beat Xavier(4) - 60-55.  A neck and neck battle; Xavier looked good in the first half, but Pitt's caught back up and their quality told down the stretch and right at the end.  An entertaining game, if not well played; the Xavier upset potential kept my interest.  FS=00:04!
  • Missouri(3) rather easily  handled Memphis(2) - 102-91.  The battle of the Tigers :)  Wild scoring on both ends, a pro score in college time, with no overtime.  Pretty entertaining game.  FS=03:00 because Memphis made a late comeback.
  • Villanova(3) "upsets" Duke(2) - 44-55.  I had Villanova in this one, and I'm rooting for them to go all the way (since they made my team UCLA look silly).  A defensive struggle and not a great game; Villanova steadily ground out the win.  FS=04:30.
  • Louisville(1) blew out Arizona(12) - 103-64.  And so Cinderella goes home, the game wasn't even that close.  I'm going to say FS=20:00, but really it was over before halftime.  My friends who have chosen Louisville to go all the way have chosen wisely...
  • Oklahoma(2) over Syracuse(3) - 84-71.  A rather routine demolition, Oklahoma looked awfully good.  FS=15:00.
  • Michigan State(2) in a nail biter over (3)Kansas - 67-62.  The best game of the round, well played and hard fought, it came down to free throws at the end...  FS=00:15.
  • North Carolina(1) rolled (4)Gonzaga - 98-77.  Carolina took the early lead, led at the half, and steamrolled away in the second half...  FS=10:00.

* A reminder: FS means "fridge score", the time at which the game is no longer in doubt.

Not the greatest collection of games, somehow.  I did enjoy the end of Pitt against Xavier, despite the fact that Xavier lost, and Michigan State over Kansas was a good one.  So we have all four #1s left, and they all look pretty good.  At this point I'm going to pick Louisville over Oklahoma in the final.  But we're only halfway, we have three rounds left... stay tuned!


Solvang Double! (in 10:38)

Sunday,  03/29/09  10:05 AM

Good morning!  I know you all eagerly scanned your feed readers this morning to find out how my ride in the Solvang Double went yesterday...  it went great.  A perfect beautiful day for riding...  rode the first 100 miles in 5:15, which would have been my best Century ever, and the entire 200 in 10:38, which is my best time for a Double.

I flirted with cramping at about 170 miles but figured out the key: salt!  I had some string cheese just as things were turning pear-shaped and felt instantly better.  Glad I now know.

Some pictures:

rolling hills East of Santa Ynez, as the sun rises...

early morning paceline

overlooking Foxen winery

at Sisquoc checkpoint, with wonderful-smelling farmland in the background
I was happier than I look :)

lots of beautiful grazing land East of Santa Maria near Bull Canyon

at the Morro Bay checkpoint, with the famous rock and wonderful little harbour

salt flats Northwest of Guadalupe

yay I made it!  two hundred miles...

I must confess I'm feeling quite pleased with myself...  I knocked 20 minutes off my time in this ride last year, and [I think] have a handle on the cramping that plagued me in the Century two weeks ago.

Next up: The Mulholland Challenge, a mere century but with 12,000' of climbing (!), in the Santa Monica mountains, and that night, the Midnight Express, a 50-mile ride in the hills above La Cañada.  Stay tuned...


opening day (New Yorker 3/30/09)

Sunday,  03/29/09  07:32 PM

Opening Day

Bruce McCall wonderfully celebrates the two new baseball stadia debuting in New York
CitiField, new home of the Mets, across the street from Shea Stadium, and
Yankee Stadium, across the street from, er, old Yankee Stadium
(a cynic might ask, recession, what recession?)


good housekeeping

Sunday,  03/29/09  07:41 PM

Sorry, but it’s a Sunday afternoon, and you know what that means:

<rant type=random>

Good Housekeeping SealHere are a few things you should do, they’re like flossing your teeth.  You know you should do it, and later when things turn ugly you realize why.

  1. Backups.  Quick, stop and think how much time you would lose if your hard drive failed, right now.  You know you need to backup your computer, so why don’t you do it?  You can do it Friday night before going to bed, and it won’t cost you but three minutes.  My own suggestions – get a 1TB USB2 drive (Fry’s has them for $150 $100) and use Acronis.  Note that in 2009 hard drives are so big and so cheap that there is no reason not to back up everything - your entire drive partition, from A to Z.  It is simpler and much easier in the event of a recovery than having to reinstall stuff.  Your time costs much more than a hard drive.
  2. Scans.  Yes you should have an antivirus / malware tool on your computer, and yes you should have it scan your entire computer weekly.  My own suggestion is Norton but YMMV.  The time and aggravation you will save in the event of a virus or malware is your own.  The latest incarnations of these tools do it in the background when your machine is “idle”, you don’t have to think about it.
  3. Logs.  The best thing you can do to avoid “stuff not working” on your computer is to religiously log everything you do to it.  I’m talking about a simple text file; put in the date and what you did.  “Applied Windows Updates”, “Installed latest ImageScope”, “Backed up entire computer with Acronis”, “Performed Norton full scan”, etc.  Keep the file on your desktop so you will remember to update it.  This helps so much in problem determination, I can’t tell you.  And since it will be part of every backup, it is perfect documentation for what is missing in the event of a restore.



Sunday,  03/29/09  07:56 PM

Okay, time for a filter pass...  I've been busy doing stuff, ya know?  First there was social stuff, and then riding (which took all of yesterday :) and today there was the all-important basketball watching (and the accompanying all-important basketball eating... one of the joys of losing 5lbs. in a single day's ride :).  Away we go...

Have you seen the new Microsoft ads, with "Lauren" who is looking for a new laptop?  I think they're really effective, possibly the best Microsoft ads I've seen.  (Admittedly recent competition was weak.)  The angle is price; she's looking for a laptop with a 17" screen for $1,000, and she goes into a Mac store and can't find one, and then goes to a PC store and has a big selection.  There's even a sweet dig "I guess I'm not cool enough for a Mac" which is perfect; nobody is as cool as someone who admits they aren't.  She ends up with an HP for $699.  Cult of Mac makes fun of it (and check out the commenters!), but make no mistake; this ad hits a nerve.

On the other side of cool we have the new Coke Zero ads, which ask "are you as mad as a drink with real Coke taste and zero calories"?  Huh?  They have clearly been drinking too much of their own product.  Sorry but I can't bring myself to give them a link, nothing to see here, move along...

And have you seen the Ozzie Osborne / World of Warcraft ad?  The prince of darkness rules all...  ALL ABOARD!

TTAC's General Motors Death Watch gleefully covers Rick Wagoner's resignation.  This is symbology 101; the Obama administration [over]reacting to the uproar over the AIG bonuses.  The whole GM bailout is a mistake; they should have been allowed to go bankrupt, and their board should determine whether the management team is executing effectively.  The government has no business being in the car business.  I am really starting to hate dislike the Obama administration.

Mark Steyn: "The Economist is the latest of the smart guys to notice that President Obama is proving strangely unlike the guy they told us he was back in late October."  Uh, yeah.

Interesting: the Huffington Post is hiring investigative journalists.  "All of us increasingly have to look at different ways to save investigative journalism."  Pretty cool.  Of course we'll see about this: "We care about democracy, not Democrats", but they could hardly be more liberal than the MSM.

Related: all the news that's fit to be birdcage liner.  Newspapers didn't become irrelevant because of the Internet, they became irrelevant when they stopped being news reporters and started trying to be news.

the Vulca S supercar...Wired thinks you are not worthy of this car.  I disagree.  I am so worthy.  The Vulca S... wow, is it beautiful.  And the interior looks fantastic.

Who knew?  Turns out women like fast cars.  Actually, women like men who can afford expensive cars.  Not quite the same thing.  I would like to perform the experiment with a Vulca S :)

Another one bites the dust: Ann Althouse is tweeted out.  "I think I may have stopped tweeting. I'm a blogger not a tweeter."  Amen.

The opposite of a tweeter is Bill Whittle; he and his Eject Eject Eject pieces have become my favorite long-format blogger now that Stephen Den Beste has retired.  And now he's at Pajama's Media...

So, is 2009 the year print-on-demand goes mainstream?  I don't think so... this is a transitional technology, like arguing about whether Blu-ray or DVD-HD was going to win.  The Kindle and its brethern are the future of books, just as AppleTV and its kin are the future of movie distribution.  If we've learned anything we've learned that digital online trumps analog offline every time.

This you must go and watch.  Go ahead...  Extreme sheep herding, with the baaa-studs.  Just when you thought you'd seen it all, more evidence, if any were needed, that "it all" is so much more than you thought...  [ via Gerard Vanderleun ]

Wallace and Gromit are teaching science at the London Science museum.  Not quite worth a trip to England, but close; how cool is that?

Tools you can use: Fiddler.  A great free tool which acts as an inline HTTP proxy and shows you all sorts of interesting stuff about your web traffic.  Perfect for debugging web applications.  You're welcome :)

PS found out about it in MSDN magazine; this might be the first useful thing I’ve ever read there :)

dude, where's my bike lane? - Florida editionDude, where's my bike lane? - the Florida edition...  thanks Jim.

kitten and bird... awww...Possibly the cutest picture of all time?  Click to verify; possibly :)

For all of you who said you wanted more in my daily posts, thanks, and be careful what you wish for, you might get it...


Madness: Round Four

Sunday,  03/29/09  11:45 PM

And so after four rounds we have four survivors...
  • Connecticut(1) ground it out over Missouri(3)Missouri - Connecticut - 82-75.  UConn jumped out fast but Missouri caught them and hung tough.  Second half was continuous up and down, lots of action, and the teams played even until UConn started to pull out at the end (and Missouri missed some key baskets).  But then the Tigers almost caught them at the end in an excruciating free-throw-fest.  An entertaining game, FS=01:20.  { I have to add, as long as the foul / free-throw / inbound endgame always takes, it is much worse when it turns into foul / commercial / free-throw / commercial / inbound.  Even substituting "fast-forward-Tivo" for "commercial" it was pretty bad.  Feh. }
  • Villanova(3) buzzer beat Pittsburgh(1)Villanova - Pittsburgh - 78-76.  Pitt was outplayed for most of the 1st half, but took a 2-point lead into the locker room, and then it was a great second half, a well-played see-saw battle, ending with some unbelievable plays at the end, a coast-to-coast drive and a barely missed hail Mary at the buzzer.  Possibly The best game of the tournament so far.  FS=00:00.
  • Michigan State(2) upsets Louisville(1)Michigan State - Louisville - 64-52.  Got off to a slow start, with 13 points in the first 10 minutes, then turned into a pretty good game, if a little sloppy; nerves were in evidence.  The second half was better and the pace picked along with the excitement level, as Michigan State began to assert themselves.  Their confidence grew and Louisville missed shots they should make; they looked so much better against Arizona.  FS=05:00.
  • North Carolina(1) rolled over Oklahoma(2)Oklahoma - North Carolina - 72-60.  Carolina jumped out to a 13-2 lead, and never looked back.  The game ended when they held the Sooners scoreless for five minutes in the middle of the second half.  Not the greatest basketball, I must say...  FS=10:00.
Do we have to keep hearing about how great the Big East was this year?  I mean, they were great.  Now let's move on.  Mercifully the cult-of-the-coach thing was kept to a minimum, thank you CBS.  Unmercifully we were inundated with commercial breaks, thank you CBS.

At this point, with Louisville out, I'm going to pick Connecticut to go all the way.  I have it as UConn over Michigan State, Villanova over North Carolina, and the Huskies to win it all.  Amazingly my bracket is still in pretty good shape (except for UCLA winning, that is :)  Anyway next weekend we'll see how it all ends up; stay tuned...


Monday,  03/30/09  09:20 PM

I am digging out from a day of status / email / administrivia; just surfacing…  my [oldest] daughter Nicole [who is in the Navy, stationed in Sicily] arrived this afternoon with her fiancé Chris (he seems very nice) and everyone ran off to go shopping.  A bit of a whirlwind moment.  They’re going to be here all week, should be “interesting” ;)

Was just telling a friend...  I keep thinking about this web service idea.  I don’t have it distilled into an “elevator statement” yet and that bothers me; if it is really that great an idea, I should be able to boil it down.  Stay tuned for a ride in the elevator =)

Unnatural Selection!And speaking of elevators, yeah, I know; here it has been one whole quarter and I still haven't done anything about Unnatural Selection exception blog about it.  Does it count that I feel bad about not making time?  Nah, didn't think so...

Daniel Hannan delivers a classic rant: The devalued Prime Minister of a devalued government. Yes you must watch it, and then you must wish that we had our own Daniel Hannan in our Congress.

Glenn Reynolds has accumulated some links about the Wagoner firing, including James Lileks: maybe I'm old-school, but 'President fires CEO' looks wrong.  The more I think about it, the worse this feels.  The government has no business getting into business.  Would you buy a used car industry from Uncle Sam the car repair man?

"Duh" headline of the day: Online journalists more optimistic about the future of journalism than print peers.  I continue to believe that part of the reason for the MSM's negativism in reporting is because their industry is crashing around them.  Bloggers are a lot more optimistic :)

International Space Station and Earth, from Shuttle DiscoveryWow, check out this picture of the International Space Station with the Earth in the background, taken from the Space Shuttle Discovery.  Just wow.  (click to enbiggen amazingly)

Microsoft to shutter Encarta.  Pretty incredible.  Launched in 1993, the CD-based encyclopedia quickly put Encyclopedia Britannica and its competitors out of business, but it proved a transitional technology as it too has succumbed to the digital/online juggernaut; now Wikipedia rules.  This is going to happen everywhere information is published, in whatever form; music, movies, books, etc., and not only will the new replace the old, but the new will cost less and make less money, as there is now no premium at all for distribution.

Related: Josh Marshall on the Kindle and the future of books.  "In our living room we have two big inset shelves where I keep all the books I feel like I need or want ready at hand.  And last night, sitting in front of them, I had this dark epiphany.  How much longer are these things going to be around?"  This is really true; I own a lot of books, and I love them (I think bookcases make great decoration for a room :), but the last twenty books I've purchased were for my Kindle.

Related: Lala gets an upgrade, still rocks.  My favorite online music distributor :)

Levi Leipheimer wins Castilla y Leon (with teammate Alberto Contador)Coming to this a bit late, but congratulations to Levi Leipheimer for winning the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon.  This makes him two for two in one week stage races this year, after winning the Tour of California.  That's speed.  And of course he is on the same team with Lance "broken collarbone" Armstrong and Alberto Contador.

the world's most advanced mixing board...Technolust: the world's most advanced mixing board.  I have never used a mixing board and don't know the first thing about them, but I love them anyway.  All those screens, knobs, dials, sliders; what could be better?

Joel Spolsky on solid state disks.  "I did a little bit of benchmarking... don’t take these numbers too seriously since I didn’t run many tests and it’s hard to get everything right.  Boot time dropped from 2:11 to 0:34.  That’s from a cold boot to launching Firefox and navigating to  Launching 6 major applications went from about 20 seconds to about 10 seconds.  In general, the fact that app launching is so much faster makes a huge difference and it was totally worth it.  This little laptop is now the fastest computer I’ve ever used."  I totally believe this; with Windows paging sucking so hard disk speed is more important than CPU speed for most PCs.  I want one!

Monsters vs AliensMonsters vs Aliens seems to be getting a lot of good press.  Interesting that the batting average of animated movies is so much higher than movies with live actors, isn't it?  They aren't all great, but many of them are and few of them suck.  This one is [apparently] notable for having good characters (and the lead is a woman!) and an actual plot; that alone would set it aside from a lot of the current cinema :)

Macquarie Innovation - 53.23 knots in a sailboat!Wow, check this out!  53.23 knots in a sailboat!  Yes that is a new world record for a sailboat, and yes that is amazing.  This record was set with a 25 knot breeze blowing, which means the boat was going twice as fast as windspeed to weather.  Wow.

ZooBorn: Otter pups!ZooBorns of the day, Otter pups!


Tuesday,  03/31/09  10:26 PM

Another instance of "the world's longest day"; I cannot believe it is the end of Q1 already!  (And yet it has been a really eventful quarter, and so much stuff did happen...)  Good news and many good meetings, and did squeeze in a beautiful ride down to Solana Beach and back while watching the sun set.  Life is good.  And meanwhile, it's all happening...

Almost FamousI have decided that Almost Famous is my favorite movie of all time.  I certainly quote from it more than any other, and somehow the ethos of it stays fresh in my mind....  (And... I even really like the poster :)

National Geographic: The Top Ten Toughest Races.  I see that the Furnace Creek 508 is #8...  on my list for later this year...  whew.

'Ran' under sail...Isn't she beautiful?  Wow, the new Ran under sail...  I sometimes have these thoughts about what I would do if I was really rich, and buying a big racing sailboat generally comes to the top of my list :)

Josh Newman, who makes movies, quotes Walt Disney: "We don't make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies."  I love it.  I can't entirely say I don't make software to make money, I make money to make more software - there is always a large racing sailboat lurking in the back of my memory :) - but there's a lot to this...

Stephen Baker observes that Tivo is antisocial.  "This is the big dichotomy of digital entertainment. When we're social, we bend to other people's schedule, but when we take control of the media and enjoy it at our own time, we often do it alone."  Yeah, that's true... but on the other hand some of the most popular digital entertainments are inherently social, like spending time on Facebook.  And you can always invite friends over to watch a game on Tivo!

So now we have Skype for iPhone, and I can't figure out why.  I mean, the iPhone is already a phone, right?  Skype for the iPod Touch I could see...

meep meep!Dave Winer pre-celebrates the launch of Scripting News on April 1, 1997.  Pre-congratulations, Dave!  History does not record if it was even worse than it appears :)

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: The Bald Salesman.  "Generally speaking, a high level of fitness can compensate for whatever imperfect genes your parents gave you. Fitness is enough to achieve good looks if you bother to dress well, take care of your skin, and get a good haircut."  This is so true.  That's one reason I spend a lot of time on my bike :)

The God-Einstein-Oppenheimer dice puzzle.  "Don’t assume there’s an immediately obvious or intuitive answer."  I would never do that.

Eric Sink wants to know Why is Git so fast?  Possibility #3 is "Maybe Git is fast because it's written in C instead of one of those newfangled higher-level languages."  As I emailed Eric, this possibility is more or less likely depending on whether Git is CPU-bound.  If it is, then C matters (a lot!), if not, then not.

Headline of the day: Man driving motorized bar stool arrested for DUI.  I am not making this up.

See you tomorrow...  as always reading News and Blogs on April 1 is treacherous, use caution.  I can remember when Google launched Gmail on April 1, and everyone thought it was a joke, but it wasn't...  making it a great joke :)


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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?