Critical Section

Archive: May 2009

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Did you feel it?

Friday,  05/01/09  06:30 PM

Westlake Village, magnitude 4.4...  boy I sure did!

Earthquake! - Westlake Village 4.4 magnitude


favorite: Dave Ullman

Friday,  05/01/09  07:53 PM

Dave UllmanSailing Anarchy has a cool new feature, they ask renowned sailors "what's your favorite boat?"  Some answer specifically with a particular boat and some more generically with a class...  recently they asked Dave Ullman (he picked the 470 class, which he dominated for about 20 years back when it was the only Olympic doublehanded dinghy).  You need to know of all the great sailors I've raced against or knew about, Dave is my favorite.  Well okay Paul Elvström is in the conversation too, but since I've raced against Dave and only read about Paul, I'm going with Dave.  As I wrote to Scot Tempesta (Sailing Anarchy's editor):

Saw “favorite” w Dave Ullman, man that brought back memories…

Dave was untouchable in the 470 in the 70s (well, in just about anything). He was the first guy I ever sailed against I knew I would never beat. (I was young then :) I always considered that Carter’s boycott of the ’80 Moscow Olympics hurt Dave more than anyone, he would have gone for sure and won. And then the trials for the ’84 Olympics were on that lame lake in New York in incredibly light air, and Dave got screwed out of going.

Anyway that was cool to see his note, great idea for a series...

In his note where he picks the 470 class as "his favorite", Dave mentions "My next class I would like to sail is the Moth. I would be interested to see if I can sail a class that is so challenging and fast at my age. It could be great fun!"  Which brings me to another Sailing Anarchy post, All Good, that includes this picture of a Moth, flying:

Moth, flying

I'm with Dave, that looks like great fun.  And I'm not even 60+ like he is :)

BTW my own favorite?  That would be the 505 class.  Which brings me back to Paul...


Friday,  05/01/09  08:42 PM

Today was a reasonably good day.  Reasonably.  I spend the morning heads' down on a project, got it done, did some programming this afternoon, and no I didn't ride because I'm resting and eating and will shortly be sleeping to get ready for the Breathless Agony ride tomorrow.  But first this...

One month.  That's how long it has been since I first began working on Project Q.  In that time I've done about two days of work on it.  That sucks.  That's horrible.  If I am posting at the end of May and I've only spent two days all month working on Project Q, please shoot me.  Actually no need I'll shoot myself.  Stay tuned.

The Hunt for Gollum!Are you ready for The Hunt for Gollum?  I am.  Yee ha!  It looks awesome.  In fact, it looks fan-tastic.  Mark your calendars, just two more days and it will be online, free.  What a great time to be alive.

plasma arc speakers - check em out!So here we have plasma arc speakers.  Wow.  Just wow.  Yes of course you must check this out, click through, you silly reader people you will be amazed.  The choice of the Thompson Twins for this demo was inspired, too.

tables with tentaclesMore coolness: Tables with tentacles.  These designers have clearly been spending a little too much time with the funny mushrooms, but wow, how cool.

Congratulations to my favorite physical wine shop, the Duke of Bourbon, on their 42nd birthday!  That's very cool.  And another cool thing about "the Duke" is their wine tastings, which have been known to introduce friends to each other as well as to new wines; some of those friends formed lasting relationships, and two even got married.  It could happen, and in fact, it happened to me, because Shirley and I met at a Duke tasting :)  Duckhorn Merlot, I think, and Long Chardonnay, both of which remain favorites.  Wow, that was ... seventeen years ago...

Not only is the Palm EOS real (apparently), but it is going to be on Sprint (apparently).  So Palm is going to release the Pre "soon", wait until the buzz has built nicely, and then release the EOS "later" as its little brother.  Very cool.  At this point I am totally rooting for Palm to make it.  Who would have thought they'd even be in the game a year ago, let alone creating news with rumors...

ZooBorns: more Meerkats!ZooBorns of the day: more Meerkats!

And, so, what really makes people happy?


breathless agony

Saturday,  05/02/09  08:51 PM

I rode the appropriately named Breathless Agony century today, 114 miles with 12,000' of climbing and an 8,400' summit.  Whew.  There is one stretch of 11 miles called Damnation Alley where you climb 3,000', I think that might be the hardest climb I've ever done.  But it is a beautifully organized ride with a great burrito lunch at the end, great SAG, and the views and riding is first class. Highly recommended if you ever want to test yourself :)

I posted a bunch of pictures in case you're interested:

This guy is everpresent on this ride:

Breathless Agony 2009

PS let the record show my time to the summit was 6:00.  Respectable :)



hope and change (New Yorker, 5/4/09)

Sunday,  05/03/09  09:11 PM

New Yorker: caption contest

New Yorker: caption contest
my own favorite:

"hope and change"

(somehow I don't think mine will win :)



Sunday,  05/03/09  09:49 PM

Had a nice quiet day, thanks for asking...  took it easy, I'm still pretty thrashed after battling Breathless Agony yesterday.  It was a gorgeous day and we celebrated by going for a nice walk in the morning, and having a wonderful lakeside brunch.  Every Sunday should be like this.  Oh, and I did some intense coding... in PowerPoint.  And made no time for Project Q.  Again.

My Caltech class of '79 is about to have - ta da - our 30th reunion.  Wow.  I've been in contact with some of my classmates, and it seems many are going.  I went to our 20th reunion, and that was fun, -ish, but this seems funner.  Somehow at 50+ I think we're more relaxed than we were at 40+, the pressure is off.  I'm thinking about this quite a lot, stay tuned...

Completely rational: Catholics attack Dan Brown film Angels and Demons.  Aka the thought police, apparently.  I am reading the book now, preparatory to watching the movie; so far I like it a lot (and yes, it reminds one of the Da Vinci Code quite a lot).

Good question: Why is it so difficult to fire bad teachers?  The first answer is "unions", and that pretty much tells you all you need to know.  (Note: this is the answer to another good question: why did U.S. carmakers become uncompetitive?)

NewTek video toaster, circa 1990This is a total classic, the NewTek Video Toaster, from 1990... wow how cool was that?  I remember it well...

fractal timepieceHere we have an extensive collection of strange and wonderful timepieces.  Some of them are really quite wonderful.

SearchEngineLand reviews the Wolfram Alpha "fact engine"...  it looks really cool, but I'm hard pressed to say whether it is useful...  I suspect it is something you use once, then like, then start using more often.  Right now I haven't used it :)

The WSJ's Daily Startup wonders: Is that an IPO we see?  SolarWinds Inc. is apparently going to test the waters, which would make then only the second IPO in the last twelve months (Rackspace is the other one).  Wow, let's all wish them luck!

cool bike bridge over I-280More of these please: a cool bridge just for bikes.

Dave Winer starts out loving his new iPhone, but then "I'm reminded how shitty the keyboard is on the iPhone, and think it's a paradox that Apple's COO says netbooks have 'cramped' keyboards.  The iPod has the worst keyboard.  Even if I type something correctly, there's a pretty good chance it'll change it to something ridiculous."  Personally I'll take a Palm any day, and I cannot wait for the Pre...

Firefox tip: how to keep sites from resizing or moving windowsThe killer tip of the day, how to prevent websites from resizing or moving your Firefox windows.  This is major, I totally hate it when sites do that (and why do they do this, nobody knows...)  Anyway here you go... you're welcome!

ZooBorn: white lion cubAnd finally to kick your week off on the right note, my ZooBorn of the day, a little white lion cub

Have a great week!


Monday,  05/04/09  11:37 PM

Work work work but made great progress (isn't a funny how accomplishing stuff makes the work work work fun where otherwise it would be, well, just work?)  And had a nice ride along the beach at sunset, down to La Costa Resort where I remembered being there 18 years ago for a conference.  Wow, just wow.  I wonder if I'll visit again in another 18 years :)

Watched He's Just Not That Into You tonight.  I though it was pretty good, better than I expected.  Jennifer Aniston and Ben Aflack especially were pretty good, and especially were better than I expected.  Maybe I was just in the mood for a cute chick flick :)

I agree with this: TechCrunch thinks the big screen Kindle Hail Mary to newspapers will fall incomplete.  First you have to know, I love my Kindle.  And everywhere I go it is recognized and appreciated (happened at dinner tonight).  But I would not want it to be bigger, it is borderline too big now, or at least the right size for reading "stuff".  I think few people will want a bigger one, but those who do will be people who need big type to read.  Nobody is going to read newspapers on a bigger Kindle if they weren't reading newspapers on smaller Kindles before.  Newspapers are dead, and electronic distribution on physical devices will not save them.

Hunt for Gollum: dancing bear?There's a lot on the net about the Hunt for Gollum, the fan-movie which was released online Sunday.  The whole project is appealing and cool, but it is useful (is it actually an entertaining movie)?

Tim Oren: Gollum, the dancing bear.  I haven't watched the movie yet - maybe tonight! - but I was hoping for more, I do agree with Tim's central point that this is a new step forward in user-generated content and there will be more of this...

the Sarah Connor Chronicles...Meanwhile while we're waiting for ever-cooler user-generated content, how about saving Sarah Connor?  This is one of the very few TVs shows I watch.  Really great.  I must tell you I'm not surprised the show is in trouble based on the fact that I like it; seems like my taste is pretty different to the average TV-watcher...

Saturn's rings with Titan in the backgroundPicture of the day?  Titan peeking out from behind Saturn's rings!  Wow, how cool is that?  Cassini just always seems to be in the right place at the right time to take this amazing pictures, I guess maybe Saturn and Titan and all the other moons are just photogenic :)

Kara Swisher nicely debunks the Apple-buying-Twitter rumors, in the parlance of a pretty girl being courted :)  [ via Daring Fireball ]

the brain-directed wheelchair, how awesome!I have to agree with Engadget on this: Mind-controlled wheelchair prototype is truly, insanely awesome.  Even if this one doesn't work, you just know this technology will exist, and it will be amazing.  What a great time to be alive!

You can imagine all sorts of great uses for this technology for people who aren't handicapped also.  Like, maybe, brain-directed computer user interfaces?  Brain-directed blogging?  Yes!

dolphins leaping off the bow of an oceanic research vesselOkay, maybe this is the picture of the day, dolphins leaping off the bow of an oceanic research vessel.

By the time most of you read this it will be Cinco de Mayo, so... Olé!


Tuesday,  05/05/09  10:57 PM

pentagonal infinityThe Ole filter makes a pass, Cinco de Mayo edition.  I must warn you I am really tired; had a long day of strategy meetings which somehow take more out of me than tactical ones (!), and then a long ride and a long dinner and a long drive home...  please forgive me if I nod off while posting...

I've been ruminating on the value of unique names in business.  It is increasingly important/useful to be able to "find stuff" by name, and if you are looking for a unique name, it is that much easier.  For example a company name of Aperio is pretty good, because while it isn't completely unique (it is a Latin word) it still isolates search results pretty well.  If we named our company Digital Pathology Inc. that wouldn't be nearly as good, at least for searching.  And in a not-so-subtle way it wouldn't nearly as good for branding either.  Something to keep in mind for Project Q... 

Oh to be a fly on the wall: Jason Kottke blogs about the New Yorker Financial Summit, with Malcolm Gladwell, Nassim Taleb, and Robert Shiller speaking...  "Experts talking about how experts are wrong! My brain is seizing up..."

Joel Spolsky hits a familiar nail on the head: why Circuit City failed while B&H thrives.  Basically, you have to deliver value to your customers to have a business.  That's what it's all about.

Wonderwall: is horizontal scrolling the future?Horizontal scrolling and the evolution of medical content on the web.  "I have the impression that a major technical shift is underway regarding how web pages are organized and formatted."  Huh, interesting.  I don't have that impression at all, but I guess we'll start monitoring for horizontal scrolling sites...  Note this is different from something like Kindle which doesn't scroll at all.

Alternative reality: Steve Gillmor says Rest in peace, RSS.  "It's time to get completely off RSS and switch to Twitter. RSS just doesn't cut it anymore."  I suspect this is just link bait, nobody can really argue Twitter in any way replaces RSS, right?  The signal to noise ratios are way different.

Huh, looks like the Tour of California is moving to May.  That means it would take place head-to-head with the Giro d'Italia, the Tour of Italy.  "We will be head-to-head with the Giro but frankly I don't think that will really affect us.. The Giro is a great race, but very few cyclists who are serious about the Tour de France will also race the Giro."  Interesting and aggressive move.

thinking cat desk checks some code...If you're a regular reader you know I occasionally post about desk checking, the lost art of carefully verifying computer software in your head before doing so live on a computer.  I get quite a lot of email about this, mostly in the "yes!" category, and it tends to have a "kids these days" flavor (correspondents often tell an "I used to walk to school in the snow barefoot" type of story by way of introducing their interest :)  So today I was looking for a trivial formatting bug and I was trying to use Visual Studio to step through the code but there were too many branch paths, so I forced myself to resort to a little desk checking.  Not only did I find the trivial bug, I actually found an unrelated nontrivial bug in the process.  I sometimes wonder if it wouldn't be good to take away interactive debuggers altogether.  Ah, kids these days, why I remember walking to school in the snow, barefoot...

And now, ZZZzzz...


Happy Birthday M.E.

Wednesday,  05/06/09  09:23 AM

Happy Birthday to my wonderful amazing incredible daughter Megan, aka M.E. ("emmy"), who was born twelve years ago but who combines the sophistication and maturity of a young woman of eighteen with the curiosity and openness of a six-year-old kid.

A self-portrait:

ME self-portrait

It captures her perfectly, including the self-referential aspect that she did it herself :)
As she would say, "I'm ME!"


Wednesday,  05/06/09  11:15 PM

And so today was Megan's birthday and also Shirley's Mom's birthday (she turned 80!); we had an interesting dinner with family, friends, and family of friends...  Megan’s heart’s desire for her birthday was a drum set (!); fortunately electronic kits now exist which are small(er) and quiet(er).  So be it, my little drummer girl :)  ... and meanwhile it is all [somewhat] happening ...

I can tell what kind of day I've had by the tools I use.  On my best days I use Word (thinking and expressing) or Visual Studio (coding, with C++ or PHP being better than VB or JavaScript).  On my worst days I use Outlook (getting and responding to email) or Excel (modeling, budgeting).  In between there is PowerPoint (creating presentations).  Photoshop is also good (diagrams pictures) as is Citydesk (blogging :)

Capresso 454 coffeemaker - da kineCan I just say, I love Capresso.  (I guess I can, this is my blog after all :)  We have a Capresso coffeemaker, it gets daily not to say twice-daily use, and it works, and we love it, but more than that the company is so easy to deal with, on several occasions I've called customer service (yeah for a $200 coffee maker they have real people who answer the 'phone!) and they actually know what you're asking and give you good answers.  Highly recommended.

Yay, we have another roller, the WSJ's Daily Startup reports OpenTable is joining SolarWinds to test the IPO waters...  let's keep fXf for them, we need this market back open...

Tesla GPU - great for image analysis?This intrigues me - Dell are now shipping systems with the Tesla processor, Nvidia's coprocessor which turns a GPU into a general-purpose parallel-processing machine (aka "personal supercomputer").  It is a solution looking for a problem, seems like it would be great for image analysis of large pathology images :)

Microsoft integrates Photosynth with Visual Earth.  Excellent.  A cool combination of two cool things (and possibly a great use for a Tesla processor :)  I don't think Photosynth is a dancing bear, that is, I believe it is useful, but I have yet to figure out what it is useful for...  a solution looking for a problem, even as it is the solution for another problem :)

ZooBorn: a baby ManateeZooBorn of the day: a baby Manatee
Proving that all babies are cute...


off to see the wizard

Thursday,  05/07/09  05:33 PM

off to see the wizard!I'm off to see the wizard!  Well actually off to a hearing at the FDA in Washington.  Should be interesting, I am rather nervous.  Please keep fXf :)

I am flying Virgin America so there is some chance I can blog from 35,000' tonight, stay tuned...


.. 5 .. 7 .. 9 ..

Thursday,  05/07/09  10:23 PM

Blogging from the friendly skies thanks to Virgin America...  I wonder if someday I will be blogging from the friendly spaces with Virgin Galactic?  Could happen... maybe on my way to Titan :)

Star Trek - young Spock and KirkI wonder if the world in which I take Virgin Galactic to Titan will be like the world of Star Trek?  Guess I'll find out, and probably blog about it.  Stay tuned... (for a long time...)

Just horrible: fire rips through Santa Barbara neighborhoods...  wow.  I use "sucks" a lot, but this really sucks...

So I just reported on OpenTable possibly going public, and then found myself using them, to find a restaurant in Arlington and make a reservation.  Not the first time, and not the last; they have a real business...

Base.  A really old post from Liron Shapira showed up in my RSS reader today, and I read it, and I liked it (and I linked it :).  "What I'm wondering is, did people had an analogous base state in their homes before computers became ubiquitous? I guess in the last century it was in front of the TV. Before that, in front of the radio? In the easy chair with a newspaper? At the desk with a pen and paper?"  I think increasingly now people use their cellphone as their "base".  I can feel mine slowly moving from my laptop...

Sergey Brin has posted Google's 2008 founder's letter.  It's a bit long but pretty thought-provoking and interesting...  he takes a longer view, and he's right; the technologies we are developing *now* are going to change the world forever.  In fact this is an interesting moment in time, when all technology ceases to seem like magic, no matter how magical...

have an odd day...Over and out... I hope you celebrated Odd Day in style :)


.. 5 .. 9 .. 9 ..

Saturday,  05/09/09  10:37 AM

Well I'm back after a whirlwind 24 hour visit to Washington DC and a meeting with the FDA.  All good.  Thank you Virgin America, as your on-board WiFi, laptop power, seatback entertainment, a la carte whenever munchies, nice staff, efficient terminals, and general air of getting it done in a casual way makes air travel better.  I was pretty toasted last night, but after a good night's sleep am ready for a weekend ... of nothing!  How nice, as is the weather, maybe a poolside drink is indicated...

2941 restaurantYesterday night vastly enjoyed dinner at 2941, on the ground floor of General Dynamics headquarters: ceviche, gnocci w morels, and Elysian Fields lamb, accompanied by a delightful Burgundy, and after a mille feuille and a glass of Banyuls, a French port made from grenache a delightful new introduction for me.  Life on the road :)

sculpture at 2941The grounds feature beautiful waterfalls and exquisite sculpture; I had the pleasure of viewing the amazing piece at left while dining.  The photo doesn't do it justice (please click to enbiggen), there is something quite emotional about it, a sense of power.  Perhaps it was the fact that I was concurrently reading Dan Brown's Angels & Demons, or the Banyuls...

Quantas A380 - double decker airbusUpon landing last night I looked out my window and did a double-take, literally; there it was, a Quantas A380, the amazingly huge double-decker Airbus.  If you haven't see one yet, trust me, they are qualitatively larger than, well, anything.  How cool that we humans can make machines like that, and they fly...  (Please click for a bigger picture of a bigger plane :)

Okay, meanwhile it's all happening...

Jesusita fire in Santa BarbaraThe Santa Barbara Jesusita fire continues to threaten homes and evict people; Doc Searles posted a great report.  Seems the winds have died a bit and a marine layer has moved in, giving firefighters a chance, whew.

Randall Parker aka the FuturePundit was one of those evacuated, and blogs about living like a refugee.  I've noticed in the past how hard it is to get map information like Doc Searles has posted; fire reports tend to be sensational rather than informational.

Sounds like a plan: NASA approves partial privatization of space program.

Aptiva power ampStereo porn: the Audiophiliac on how to double your receiver's power (add a power amp!)  Not only does it improve the sound, it adds some blue LEDs, always a good thing.

Roomba time-trackGuess what this is?  If you guessed a time-track from a Roomba cleaning a bedroom, you're right...  robot art!


still one of their kind

Saturday,  05/09/09  11:44 PM

old Toledo at sunsetA year ago today I was in Amsterdam, as my trusty this date in '08 link tells me; a great trip in which I celebrated my Mom's 75th birthday with our extended family there, made a number of important business contacts, and presented at and attended a Pathology conference in Toledo, Spain.  In between I did a great number of things; visited Eindhoven and Groningen and Berlin, on business, toured the Berlin wall (wow...), and while in Spain I ended up clubbing in church.  But the most interesting thing was that while in Holland I [re]discovered I am one of their kind.  Which brings me to this post.

Amsterdam mansion on the canalsI have thought about this idea (being one of the Dutch kind) often, since...  I'd been to the Netherlands any number of times in my life, and had always felt, well, comfortable there, but it wasn't until last years' trip that I realized why.  That land and society is of its people, it was created by them and for them, and suits them, and it makes sense that as one of them (at least genetically) it would suit me, too.  Multiculturism is all very exciting, but people are different, as are their societies, and people are generally most comfortable in their own element.  Perhaps not a revelation to you, but it was to me :)  Ik ben echt wel Nederlands.


happy mother's day!

Sunday,  05/10/09  09:42 AM

Good morning to y'all, and Happy Mother's Day!

To my Mom, my wife, her Mom, and all Moms everywhere, I hope you have a wonderful day hanging out with those you love. 

We've heated the pool and plan to do very little but sit next to it, and read, and drink some Spanish Yecla :)



Sunday,  05/10/09  10:41 PM

Altos del Cuco - Spanish YeclaI hope you had a nice weekend?  I did, a pretty unproductive weekend, but I caught up on sleep, finished Angels & Demons, started Pattern Recognition, discovered Cuco, a Spanish Yecla, and spent quality time with my family and my pool.  Doesn't get too much better than that, except my todo list isn't any shorter and I know I will pay for my sins of omission tomorrow...

caution new driverDid I mention?  Alexis successfully passed her driving test and is now in proud possession of a learner's permit.  Oh no!  How exciting for her, and, um, how exciting for me, too...  If you live in Ventura County and see a blue Volvo station wagon, you have been warned :)

So about that bailout...  Bankruptcy 'inevitable' for GM, experts predict.  The non-expert experts at TTAC have been predicting that for about three years.  Note to all: they are not victims of a bad economy, that was just the last straw.  Between their union relationships, their pension funds, and their inability to make cars people want this writing has been on the wall for a long time...

If you think the government is immune from the same fate, check out the recent terrible treasury action.  "There are two critical consequences to the economy stabilizing. The first is that the massive liquidity injected into credit markets by the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world transforms from economic medicine to inflationary heroin.  The second dangerous consequence is that President Obama is on course to double the national debt in just four years."  Oh goody, inflation.

Good news: US Dept of Energy kills hydrogen vehicle program.  Now we won't be wasting time and money on that dumb idea...  let's concentrate on electric cars and nuclear power, okay?  Actually, I don't think the US government should spend any money on this at all, private industry should make the investments.  That way the economics will be sound.

Alessandro Petacchi wins stage 2 of the GiroThe Giro d'Italia is under way, the three week Tour of Italy bike race...  favorites for the overall include Levi Leipheiper ably assisted by super-domestique Lance Armstrong...  interestingly, Alessandro Petacchi edged Mark Cavendish in the sprint finale to stage 2; wow, I didn't think anyone beat Cavendish in a sprint anymore.  Cavendish remains first overall for the moment, but when they start climbing that will change.

dirty money ad - nicely doneThis is pretty cool: hilarious ad about dirty money...  nicely done.

This has to be the dumbest idea of all time, amid heavy competition: Twitshirt prints tee-shirts with tweets you like on them.  The next time you see a tweet which is worth printing on a shirt, let me know.  I haven't even see any worth putting in a blog post; every time a blogger tries that, it flops miserably.  Maybe I should tweet about this?  And maybe you would print it on a shirt? :)

Nautilus shell - a living Fibonacci SequenceFibonacci spiralThe Fibonacci Sequence illustrated by nature.  Very cool...  a must-click-through...  1..1..2..3..5..8..13..

And this seems to be related, the Andromeda Galaxy, a rather extended sequence over 100,000 light years in diameter...
Andromeda Galaxy
(click through to enlarge)

Hope your week spirals in the right direction!


Monday,  05/11/09  07:31 PM

ZZZzzz...  what?  Oh, I have to post, yeah, right.  Nodding off here for some reason, too much sleep over the weekend I guess...  and too much work today as a result.  And looking at my schedule I have two solid days of meetings coming up.  Whew.  Well too much work is better than not enough.

StarTrek the movieI am hoping to escape my schedule briefly, to see Star Trek.  Too many nice things have been written about it, looks like a must-see, and in fact a must-see-in-a-theater-with-DLP-projection :)

From the New Yorker's 5/11/09 issue, one of their most interesting for quite a while: How David beats Goliath (Malcolm Gladwell analyzes how underdogs win, basically, by working harder and being unconventional), The Fifth Blade (ruminations on marketing in the canonical razor / blade market), Brain Games (an interview with unconventional neurophysiologist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran), and my favorite, the controversial and thought-provoking The Instigator, about Steve Barr's Green Dot charter schools, which are slowly "taking over" Los Angeles and which [under Obama's administration] might become a nation-wide phenomenon.  Much food for thought... no wonder it takes me an hour to shave every morning :)

Howard Kurtz thinks Lack of Vision to blame for Newspaper Woes.  Weeell...  is it really lack of vision, or just changing times?  Could a forward-thinking newspaper really do anything to prevent being replaced by electronic online media?  Any more than a forward-thinking buggy manufacturer could have done anything to prevent being replaced by cars?  I honestly don't think so, newspapers are old tech, and they won't survive.  I used to think books and magazines might make it, but now I think their days are numbered too, the Kindle and its brethren will see to that.  One day there will be no physical media left.

Da Vinci surgical robot enters the Robot Hall of FameThe Robot Hall of Fame is expanding to include Da Vinci, Terminator, and Roomba.  A worthy selection, the Da Vinci surgical robot especially (my daughter Megan had heart surgery performed by a Computer Motion robot which was the Da Vinci forerunner).

Shuttle Atlantis lifts off to repair the Hubble TelescopeThe Shuttle Atlantis has a perfect lift-off, on its way to repair the Hubble Telescope.  Although we don't necessarily think about them that way, the Atlantis and the Hubble are "robots" too, and one is being used to perform "surgery" on the other :)  We are surrounded!

Jeff Atwood: the browser address field is the new command line.  And that means Google is the new operating system.  Which is not too far from the truth, and getting closer all the time...  His post has a great list of various shortcuts showing how Google can parse what you enter:

weather San Francisco (weather report)
CSCO (stock symbol)
time London (time conversion)
san francisco 49ers (sports news)
5*9+(sqrt 10)^3= (arithmetic)
Henry+Wadsworth+Longfellow (people)
earthquake (topical news)
10.5 cm in inches (unit conversion)
population FL (information lookup)
Italian food 02138 (business search)
movies 94705 (movie search)
homes Los Angeles (real estate listings)
Seattle map (map)
Patent 5123123 (patent lookup)
650 (area code)
american airlines 18 (flight information)
036000250015 (UPC code)
JH4NA1157MT001832 (VIN number)

Things I hate: when web designers use fancy techniques to create unconventional user interface conventions.  For example, if you want a button, use a button which, when clicked, works like a button.  Don't make a graphic which looks like a button and which, when clicked, somewhat acts like a button, but somewhat doesn't.  Facebook, are you listening?  (probably not :)

I've found the worst offenders to be sites afflicted with AJAX, because they are so browser dependent; half the time they don't test with Firefox, and half the time Firefox doesn't do what IE would do, so a quarter of the time badness results.  Flash is unconventional but [at least, mostly] consistent.

LaCie RAID array - 10TB for $2,000Things I love: LaCie RAID arrays which hold 10TB for $2,000 and which look like HAL.  I mean, how awesome is that, both the price point and the design?  What's interesting to me is that this is a classic attack from below, these storage arrays are designed for consumers and sold at consumer prices, but they pretty much duplicate the functionality of "commercial grade" arrays which cost an order of magnitude more.  Yeah you can talk about MTBF and all, but let's face it, these drives will be obsolete before they break.  Remember 200GB drives?  I have one in my closet, sitting next to an 80GB drive, and both are awaiting their next use as doorstops.  They were superceded long before they stopped working.

No word on whether, when you go to switch it off, it says “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that”…

Since I have nothing better to do, I am contemplating switching to Windows 7.  As in, installing the RC right on my main computer, and living with it.  I've run it under a VM enough to believe I could live with it, and perhaps over time could learn to like it if not love it.  I need a reinstall anyway, my XP has become excessively cruftified.  Stay tuned...


live long and prosper

Tuesday,  05/12/09  11:30 PM

the original Spock says live long and prosper - to himself

I saw the new/old Star Trek tonight, and it's every bit as great as you've heard, greater even.  We have interesting characters, consistent with the ones we know and love, but fresh, a new plot, again, consistent with the world we knew (humans, Vulcans, Romulans, etc) but updated, and we have great special effects which were not totally opposed to the laws of physics as we know them.  Overall a great effort.

  The series has definitely lived long and prospered.


Tuesday,  05/12/09  11:37 PM

Quick updates after a busy busy day...

Here's a rather weird headline: Obama slashes Chrysler's advertising budget.  This is not good, people.  Not good at all.  This is not change I can believe in.

WSJ: The Obama administration's behavior in the Chrysler bankruptcy is a profound challenge to the rule of law.

extreme archaebacteria - suitable for Europa?What life might look like on Jupiter's Europa: new extreme species discovered.  Does not look like Vulcans, Klingons, or Romulans...

Danilo DeLuca won stage 4 of the Giro today, the first "mountain" stage, in which the GC contenders were sorted for the first time.  This left Astana with Yaroslav Popovich, Levi Leipheimer, and Lance Armstrong with three of the top six positions, all within 0:28 of the lead.  More sorting in another mountain stage tomorrow...  Stay tuned!

ZooBorns: Lynx cubsZooBorns of the day: Lynx cubs!


the Kessel run (in under 2 hours)

Wednesday,  05/13/09  11:30 PM

Tonight I made the Kessel run in under two hours!  The Kessel run, you say?  Ah yes, well, that would be my ride from Dana Point Harbor to the Las Pulgas gate of Camp Pendleton and back, a round trip of 40 miles.  The mathematicians among you will deduct that yes, I had to average over 20mph to do this, 20.4 precisely, if you must know, and yes I am quite pleased with myself.

the Kessel run - in under 12 parsecs?Of course "Kessel run" refers to a line in Star Wars; Han Solo brags about his ship by noting it "made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs".

I know you know parsec is a unit of distance, not time (the distance from the Earth to an astronomical object which has a parallax angle of one arcsecond, or 3.2 light years), but as the invaluable Wookieepedia explains

The Kessel Run was an 18-parsec route used by smugglers to move glitterstim spice from Kessel to an area south of the Si'Klaata Cluster without getting caught by the Imperial ships that were guarding the movement of spice from Kessel's mines.  Han Solo claimed that his Millennium Falcon "made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs".  Solo was not referring directly to his ship's speed when he made this claim.  Instead, he was referring to the shorter route he was able to travel by skirting the nearby Maw black hole cluster, thus making the run in under the standard distance.

So be it.

I celebrated with a rare prime rib and a nice cab :)


Wednesday,  05/13/09  11:37 PM

In which I take a deep breath and celebrate my successful navigation of two straight days of dawn to dusk meetings... in between which I saw Star Trek and made the Kessel Run :)  And I am now happily back home amongst my family (all asleep except for Reggie, my cat) and happily blogging before sleep...

UP - the movie!Want to know what's up?  Well, "UP" is the new Disney / Pixar movie, it is opening the Cannes film festival (the first animated film to have that honor), and according to the pre-reviews I've read, it is great.  This would make Pixar 10 for 10, which is an unbelievable record for a studio.  Wow.  I must say, I can't wait to see it.

For those keeping score at home: Toy Story, Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, Monster's Inc, Finding Nemo, Incredibles*, Cars, Ratatouille, Wall-E (from memory, except I couldn't remember Nemo...)

*my favorite, although TS2 made me cry

Oh, great: Earmark transparency takes a step backward.  As Glenn Reynolds notes, worst. congress. ever.

the Hubble space telescopeTen things you don't know about Hubble.  And now you do!  Plus, pretty pictures...

Meanwhile, it's make or break time for NASA...  "The results of misbegotten space policy choices over the past decades are finally coming to a head in the new administration. The cans have been kicked down the road as far as possible with regard to when to retire the space shuttle, and the future of NASA’s human space flight program in general and the International Space Station (ISS) in particular. Indeed, we’re reaching a point of no return."  Do we really think using government money for these projects makes sense?

Space Shuttle Atlantis videos - in HD!NASA does do some pretty cool stuff, however, check out these videos of the Shuttle Atlantis launch, in HD... cool does not equate to economically sensible, of course... but cool is good :)  really the videos are amazing, how did they get those camera close-ups of the shuttle when it was seven miles above the Earth?

Cool: Google Chrome extensions draw near.  As soon as there is an Adblock for Chrome, it becomes my daily browser.  Until then, Firefox remains king.

So Denis Menchov won stage 5 of the Giro, good for him, and good for Rabobank, their first Giro stage win after all these years, and Lance lost three minutes, putting him out of contention.  Levi is still right there however, dangerously, as are Michael Rogers, Ivan Basso, and Carlos Sastre.  Let the sorting continue!

Tough times indeed: Sony reports $1B loss.  It was across the board, too, not just one or two of their businesses.

I have discovered that I prefer (mobile edition) to (normal).  It is more like the old Facebook, you can see more/all "transactions", it doesn't seem to employ weird heuristics to decide what to show and what to hide.  Amid all the discussion and controversy it is now apparent that Facebook aren't going back, the new Facebook is what it is, even though some of us don't like it.  This is the price I pay for being an atypical user :)

Kindle publishing now available to *all* blogs!  Wow, I'll have to do that, so that you can read my blog on your Kindle... stay tuned...


the Oaks run (yay Alex)

Thursday,  05/14/09  08:21 AM

learner's permit!This morning I completed "the Oaks Run", or I should say my daughter Alex did; she successfully drove to school :)  Actually she did a great job and I wasn't nervous at all.  (Well okay I was a little nervous...).   This will be our daily routine now, as she drives everywhere and I drive with her...  the joys of having a daughter with a learner's permit :)


Thursday,  05/14/09  08:54 PM

It was so nice to be home today, a beautiful day and I spent some of it in the backyard, thinking and talking, and enjoyed it through my office window.

Reginald is now seven...Today is Reggie's seventh birthday.  Woo hoo!  Or as he would say, so?

Last night I noted that Amazon is now letting anyone publish their blog for Kindle users.  So I did it.  I'm not sure anyone will pay $2/month to read my blog, but we'll see :)  I must say the implementation was clean.

There does seem to be a teeny glitch, anyone can publish anyone else's blog.  So you could publish mine and make money from it.  Good luck with that, but seriously this is a bit of a hole in the system...

I'm pretty much a Malcolm Gladwell fan, but I do have to agree with this: Gladwell's generalizations.  Essentially makes the same point I made a little while ago in The Law of Significance.  Not everything is an amazing new general principle, sometimes it is just an isolated data point.

Angels and Demons - watch out, that's antimatter you're holding there...Next week Angels & Demons will be released, yay! (the box office war against Star Trek is billed as "the Illuminati vs the Romulans).  I loved the book, and yes, I will see the movie.  Tom Hanks is not how I picture Robert Langdon, but Ayelet Zurer is exactly how I pictured Vittoria Vetra :)

Where is it written that movies have to have such complicated websites?  They're well done and all, but so ponderous.  Hard to navigate and find stuff.  Same with car websites - they're always really complicated too - and also rock bands, which are not only complicated but often out-of-date and broken.

Deep Flight Super Falcom winged research submarineThis looks like (and sounds like) something from a Dan Brown novel (or a movie): Deep Flight Super Falcon winged submarine readies deep sea exploration in San Francisco.  Despite the revolutionary angle to the story, wings are not new on submarines, so I don't get what all the fuss is about.  I guess I'll have to wait for the movie :)

I find this hard to believe: "Cyber Millennials" Are Drinking, and Working Out, More Than You Are.  Really?  How many of them recently discovered Cuco, from Yecla, and how many of them completed the Kessel Run in under two hours? :)


Ole votes

Thursday,  05/14/09  11:44 PM

don't vote!Want to know how I voted in the May 19 special election?

  • 1A - "Rainy day" stabilization fund: YES.  Seems like a good idea to save more in good years so you'll have more in bad years, although it probably won't matter that much.
  • 1B - Education funding payment plan: YES.  A stopgap to "borrow from the future", but we probably need it.  What we really need is to repeal Prop 13, but that's another subject.
  • 1C - Lottery modernization act: YES.  I'm a big fan of the lottery, especially since I never play :)  It raises money without raising taxes.  Good on 'em.
  • 1D - Children's services funding: NO.  I kind of didn't get this, seems like taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another, too confusing to be a good idea.
  • 1E - Mental health funding: NO.  Another "borrow from the future" proposal, but unlike education this doesn't seem as critical, and we can't do everything on a line item basis.  Tough call.
  • 1F - Prevent pay increases for elected officials in deficit years: YES.  I can't think of anything which would be better to assure a balanced budget :)

As always with every election, let me remind you, please don't vote.  Well, unless you take the time to read the initiatives and think about them, of course.  Hopefully you don't just read some blog post and then vote :)


Windows 7!

Friday,  05/15/09  03:15 PM

Well I did it, I am now - ta da - running on Windows 7.  I did a clean install onto another drive, which went amazingly well, and am now in the process of installing applications and copying over data.  I'm sure this is going to take a long time and there will be all kinds of niddly things which don't work and hassles.  And I'm sure I will ask myself more than once what problem exactly I was solving by doing this.  But...  I had reached the point where my Windows XP system needed to be re-installed anyway; cruft had accumulated to the point where the system was slow, the mean-time-to-reboot was about one day, and all sorts of stuff had stopped working or at least stopped working right.

Windows 7 desktopThe install process was fast and smooth, and "everything" worked right away  as far as the hardware; somehow all of my laptop's devices were detected and connected.  This includes stuff like the network card, WiFi, USB, audio, trackpad, power management, etc. - all stuff that in the past I would have been worried about, as being manufacturer specific instead of generic.  That was a great thing.

The system feels "snappy"; I don't know if we give Win 7 the credit for this, or if it is just the result of a clean install, but at least Win 7 isn't slowing things down dramatically.  I installed Office 2003 and Sharpreader and Citydesk and Photoshop, so I'm able to blog (!), and have a longish list of other applications to install and configure.  And of course I am keeping a careful log of all changes so I can fall back if necessary.

Precelebration is the root of all failure, but so far, so good...


thirty years

Saturday,  05/16/09  10:38 AM

thirty year reunion - nametagLast night I attended my Caltech class of '79 thirty year reunion.  Wow, thirty years.  It gives me goose bumps just typing those words.  I was looking forward to it, but it was even more fun than I anticipated.  There were about thirty members of my class present - out of about 250 total, I think - and about ten people from my "house", Ricketts House, one of the seven undergraduate dorms.  The weird thing is we're all 50+ instead of 20+, but people don't change.  Honestly everyone looks, acts, thinks, and is exactly the way I remember them.

Which is not to say everyone's life has played out as I might have expected; if you made two columns, one with names, and one with life stories, I would have been hard-pressed to match them up.  Some have taken conventional paths to their future, and others pretty weird ones, and of course there are probably some even weirder ones among those who didn't or couldn't attend.  But their experiences didn't change them.

I had gone to my twenty year reunion (sorry, no link, that was pre-blogging) and that was fun, but it was different; as I noted the other day, at 50+ you're a lot more relaxed than at 40+, or at least I am...  It was thoroughly enjoyable to be among a group where everyone accepts everyone else without question.  And they're all really smart; which makes them really interesting.  I could spend any amount of time hanging out.

I'm looking forward to our fortieth year reunion already!

BTW there was a reception before the dinner where each class presented a donation to the Caltech Alumni Fund, and it was interesting to see some of the older classes present theirs...  The members of the class of '49 attended Caltech sixty years ago, and are now in their eighties... what amazing lives they must have led, joining Caltech just as WWII ended, and seeing everything that has happened since.  Incredible.


Saturday,  05/16/09  10:05 PM

Megan debates!Spent today watching Megan compete in a middle-school debate (!), which amazingly was at Pasadena Polytechnic school, right next door to Caltech, while still under the influence of my reunion dinner last night.  What are the odds of that?  In other ways it was a quiet day, but there was stuff going on in the blogosphere...

Still enjoying Win7 although getting everything installed and working is quite a time sink.  There is no question it is faster and less buggy than my XP system was, admittedly a low bar.  And I am almost ready to disable UAC, it is less intrusive than under Vista, but still seems to add no value, just mouse clicks.  Also I've decided the Aero look of Explorer is stylish but it makes using it harder, I guess that is what it is, and I'll probably get used to it.

Here's something really useful that I did under XP too: create a default association for files with no extension.  I associate it with Notepad and then I can leave notes on my desktop.  This is useful if, like me, you ask Windows always to display file extensions.

Win 7's 3D Alt-Tab (Windows-Tab)I'm not sure yet whether this is a dancing bear, but Win7's 3D-alt-tab is amazingly cool; you activate it by Windows-Tab instead of Alt-Tab.  I'm using it right now because it is cool, time will tell whether I keep using it because it's useful...

I'm a Mac... and I'm a MeganThe PC / Mac ad wars have definitely led to some pretty entertaining ads; the latest from Apple is great.  "I'm a Mac", and "I'm a Megan".  I'm an Ole, and I love it :)

Slate helpfully explains why trains run slower now than in the 1920s...  train travel is definitely a weird exception to the rule that technology keeps getting better and cheaper.  (and how great is it that the article is written by a Vanderbilt :)

the Veritas roadsterLike Glenn Reynolds, I too have absolutely no use for this car, and I too think it looks really cool...

Back in the real world, a nice comparison of the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight.  I am becoming more intrigued by these hybrids, yeah, I know, they're efficient gas-powered cars, not electric cars, but until Tesla get their Model S Sedan on the market this is all we've got...

shuttle Atlantis and Hubble space telescope silhouetted against the sunI'll be the ten billionth blogger to link this picture, but it is too cool not to, the shuttle Atlantis and the Hubble space telescope silhouetted against the sun.  How cool is that?

Dave Winer: when will Twitter start for real?  "At some point we will finish this sentence: Twitter is... ?"  Hype.  And that's all it is.

ZooBorn: baby cotton-topped TamerinZooBorn of the day: baby cotton-topped Tamerin.


back on XP

Sunday,  05/17/09  08:15 PM

sad computerTwo days into my up-'till-now-successful Windows 7 experiment, my computer failed to reboot.  I suspect a hard drive problem, and *not* a Win7 problem, but it is Sunday night, I have a busy week ahead, and I can't afford to mess around.  So I am back to running on my WinXP system.  I was able to mount the Win7 drive and access it, so I easily copied all my "volatile" files back (thanking myself for keeping a careful log of the stuff I'd done).  When I have time, probably next weekend, I'll do some triage and figure out what happened.  Boo.  Stay tuned...

(precelebration is the root of all failure)



Monday,  05/18/09  10:00 PM

supersoakerThere's a guy in my cycling area who thinks it's fun to drive around squirting cyclists with a supersoaker.  He has been the subject of much discussion within the Conejo Valley Cyclists, my local riding club; it sounds harmless but it isn't, one of these days someone is going to get hurt, perhaps seriously.  On a bike it only takes a second of inattention to end up in front of a car or in a ditch.  We refer to this guy as the "silversoaker" since he's known to drive a silver SUV.

So today, while climbing Decker Canyon as part of my local "Malibu CC" ride, I was silversoaked myself!  He didn't pass me close or try to run me off the road, just squirted me with Gatorade or something like that.  Still.  I managed to ID the vehicle, it was a silver Toyota Highlander license #6AJG163, and notified our local sheriff, who has been accumulating reports of this guy's activities.  I hope we find the guy so we can gently explain he shouldn't do this anymore :)  Stay tuned!


Monday,  05/18/09  11:58 PM

Kind of an interesting day today, had some good strategic discussions while working, got silversoaked*, and attended a cool art history exhibition at Megan's school.  And blogged...

*rode Malibu CC in 1:59:26, not my best but not bad.  This ride contrasts perfectly with the Kessel Run, which I plan to do tomorrow after work; Malibu CC is 100% up and down for 30 miles, including the Decker Canyon wall, while Kessel is practically flat for 40.  A good training combination, which I need because I have the horrible Heartbreak Double coming up this Saturday (202 miles with 15,500' of climbing)...

...and I have a metric ton of travel coming up, including a little trip to Raleigh, NC later this week...

Well enough about me, let's see what's happening "out there":

Rant of the day, or of any day: Daily Kos' Kos notes newspapers are clinging to a dead business model for dear life.  As I keep saying, this isn't their fault either, it is what it is...  creating and selling bits is a tough business.

Apparently Wired magazine can't sell ads.  Too bad, because [unlike newspapers] they would seem to have a product which is much better in print than online.  But if they can't sell ads, they're going to be just as dead...

As an aside, I've loved Wired since issue #0, and can remember when "wired" was a euphemism for "high tech and cool".  Now something wired is old tech and retro, and wireless has replaced it.  As they would say, wired=tired, wireless=wired.  Maybe they should change their name?

The Palm PreSpeaking of wireless, the Palm Pre is launching on June 6, for $200 with a two-year plan.  Yes of course I'm going to buy one, I've been waiting for six months!  This is the must-have product of the year for me...

Scott "Dilbert" Adams on your phone: "I was thinking about how different our lives will be as cell phone technology continues to improve..." (and he lists a bunch of cool stuff) "All of this technology already exists in some form, or will soon.  In the future, the only computer you will ever need will be in your pocket."  No question.

WolframAlpha logoWolframAlpha has launched, and it looks pretty amazing.  What's funny to me is that so much of the MSM insists on comparing them to Google; I can see parallels, but they're definitely doing something different to "search".  (Henry Blodget has a particularly clueless take.)  For one thing, WolframAlpha doesn't return links, it returns information.

Seth Godin helpfully explains the difference between Luxury and Premium.  This *totally* makes sense to me, it is the difference between Maserati and Lexus.  If you're trying to be either one you have to be clear on which one :)

e-Ink watchHow cool is this?  e-Ink watches...  what will they think of next?

Philip Greenspun: Ruby on Rails and the importance of being stupid.  A tale of two servers...  I love it.

cloverstack interchange... interesting :)Here we have a field guide to freeway interchanges.  Very helpful, now you'll know what to call the thing you find yourself stuck in... when you're parked halfway between one freeway and another in the middle of a nest of ramps.


Tuesday,  05/19/09  11:54 PM

Late night blogging - I'm pretty tired after a  l o n g  day - you have been warned...

Completed the Kessel run again tonight but not quite in two hours, in my defense may I note a fierce headwind.  While riding along the beach at San Onofre I noticed a bunch of helicopters flying in and out of Camp Pendleton, more than usual... turns out a bit later one of them crashed!  Wow.  Having been right there makes it so much more real.

Big Ten logo - with hidden eleven insideTwenty-five logos with hidden messages.  (For example, the BigTen logo has an embedded eleven, becauase there are now 11 schools in the conference.)  Very cool.  And of course these are just the ones we know about :)

Death Star bailout (note Air Force one :)The latest bailout request: too big to fail.  I love it.  (... and I especially love Air Force One in the picture - I wonder how they did that :)

It's official: SolarWinds breaks nine-month IPO drought.  Yay!  Let's all wish them well... in other IPO news, IPO-ready OpenTable hit with suspicious lawsuit.  That really sucks, there should be a special penalty for nuisance lawsuits filed on the eve of a company's IPO.  (This happened to PayPal, too.)  Anyway I wish OpenTable the best, not only because they're going public but because they offer a great service which I use all the time when travelling...

Queen Rania of Jordan tweets!Sounds-like-the-Onion-but-isn't headline of the day: An interview with Queen Rania of Jordan about how Twitter can change the world.  I am not making this up.  Actually Queen Rania seems like an impressive and enlightened leader.  (I'm pretty sure I never thought I'd have a picture named "QueenRania_tweets.jpg")

Great for both: Daimler buys 10% stake in Tesla (for a reported $350M!)  Tesla will get money and know-how, and Daimler has a solid entry point to make electric cars.

Good news for all you fellow Pre-buyers: Best Buy will offer instant rebates on the Pre.

ZooBorn: fluffy pheasent chickZooBorn of the day, or of any other day: a fluffy pheasant chick.


8304 6805 2235

Wednesday,  05/20/09  10:13 PM

From Durham, NC, after having spent the day flying...

Pattern RecognitionI have been reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition, enjoying it immensely, and I find that in the way of all great books the world it creates in your head it isn't just engrossing, it makes you think about the world outside your head, too.  The central character in P.R. is Cayce, a "coolseeker", who immerses herself in culture and can later tell, in an intuitive way, what "works" and what doesn't.  Reminds me that this doesn't only happen with consumer products, it happens in business; you have to understand your customers, immerse yourself in their business, to understand what "works" and what doesn't.

In addition to being interesting and thought-provoking, P.R. is also of it's moment, early 21st century online, more so than any other book I've read; you can tell that Gibson immersed himself in the culture at the time in order to write this book.  Examples Palmed while reading: "a cellphone large enough to look passé or unusually powerful", "a James Bond set, Brosnan rather than Connery", and of course, "Palmed".  Google is featured, as are blogs and message boards, but you can tell it was published in 2003 and not 2009 because Facebook and Twitter are not :)  Post-911 security concerns are also more strongly drawn than they would be today.  I love the advertising people and their marketing; a character named Bigend comments "I was drawn to advertising when I realized the way products are positioned is invariably more interesting than the products themselves".

Gibson himself is a coolseeker... the patterns are recursive...

Yes of course the title of this post comes from P.R., you must read the book, silly :)


Wednesday,  05/20/09  10:37 PM

A travel day, Burbank to Dallas, long layover including an amazing dinner at Mr. G's in the Hyatt Regency in the middle of DFW (a game selection: Bison, Elk, and Quail, paired with amazing Burgundy, and an Italian cheesecake w cherries which was transporting), then Dallas to Raleigh, and here I am in Durham, blogging...

I am still really loving my Kindle.  It allowed me to read Pattern Recognition all day, including during dinner in the very dark and formal Mr. G's, where I was able to continue reading by setting the font size to 6.

One result of having watched Megan debate last weekend, I am thinking of many things in the "prop/opp" way; you have a hypothesis, and you have points in favor, points against, and rebuttals for each.  Proposition: the government should intervene to save large organizations from going bankrupt.  Argue for and against!

We can now consider California as one such large organization.  Wow...

Apropos: voters don't just say No, they say No Way.  Hasta la vista, Arnold...

Kaiser's online EHRCNet has an image gallery of online personal health tools: taking your health record with you.  Ah, but does it include the pathology information?  It should :)

Absinthe and FlamethrowersMaybe my next book: Absinthe and Flamethrowers: Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously.  "I’ve spent the last two years writing my just released book Absinthe and Flamethrowers, an exploration of a single, important question: Are people who take risks happier than those who do not?"  Interesting; I keep thinking I might be happier if I took more risks, but I'm not willing to risk it :)

Dave Winer's big idea for the NYTimes: write about Twitter for your Twitter audience.  And let them write about it, too.  Huh.  I swear, I still don't get Twitter.  Everyone else does, I know, even Queen Rania of Jordan, but not me.

Another thing I don't get: researchers store optical data in five dimensions.  What does that even mean?  It can't just be a five-dimensional array, right?

Looks like VS 2010 is out, at least in Beta form, so it looks like I'll have to try it.  I am still using VS 6 for VB and VS 2005 for C++; I've done some experiments with VS 2008 but not for production.  Stuck in the stone age :)

Levi Leipheimer TTTomorrow is the big day at the Giro d' Italia, the Cinque Terre time trial which will likely decide the overall winner.  It is long and hilly, and most observers think the time gaps will be huge.  Go Levi!  I wish I could watch...


Friday,  05/22/09  04:56 PM

Yes, I know, a ... gap!  Argh!  Well that's what happens when you're traveling traveling traveling ... you're not blogging.  Sorry.  Anyway I am baaack and will try to catch up.  Tonight I have a hot date (w Shirley :) and tomorrow I'm riding the Heartbreak double (203 miles + 15,500') so don't expect much from me this weekend either; I will be toast.

I have hit "economic meltdown depression" again.  I should be cheered by OpenTable's IPO, which I did cheer for and which I am so glad went well for them, but it is an isolated positive island in a negative sea.  The economy is not getting better, and having the government spent money we don't have to prop up failing companies is not going to help.  Blech.

According to the WSJ, SolarWinds' and OpenTable's IPOs will change the mood in boardrooms.  We'll see.  Right now think they're more the exception than the start of a new rule.

I'll tell you one good thing: spam is down.  I can't believe how much less spam I'm getting these days compared to, say, a year ago.  Google saves one month's worth of spam before deleting it; last year I was averaging 30,000 spams a month (yes that is 1,000 per day!) and now it is more like 4,000.  Maybe spam doesn't pay?

little blue PriusWhile in Raleigh I rented a little Prius, and may I just say, wow, what a cool little car.  Never mind the fact that it is a hybrid, okay, that's cool, but in all other ways it is pretty nice, too.  The success of the Prius has to do with the fact that it is a nice car in addition to the fact that it is a hybrid...

Google Chrome logoI've been testing Google Chrome 2.0, and man is it fast.  Wow.  Qualitatively faster than Firefox.  I wish it supported extensions so someone could create an Adblock, that's all that's preventing me from switching entirely.  But that's a pretty big IF, too.

Denis Menchov in pink after winning the Cinque Terre time trialDidn't have a chance to blog about it yesterday, but congrats to Denis Menchov for winning the crucial Cinque Terre time trial in the Giro d'Italia and taking the Maglia Rosa (pink jersey, symbolic of the race leader).  Levi Leipheimer finished second, 20" back.  Looks like Menchov, Levi, or Danilo DeLuca (now in second) are going to win.

Jaguar E-type: the most beautiful car of all time?The 1965 Jaguar E-type is reviewed.  Once again :)  That's an article I would like to write!  When new, the E-type sold for $5,595.  Such a deal.

This has been an interesting story to follow: Scientist: Fossil Frenzy.  "On Tuesday, the world met "Ida" -- a 47-million-year-old primate fossil touted as a "REVOLUTIONARY SCIENTIFIC FIND THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING," according to a press release.  The media went berserk.  All this has led many to cry foul about how the finding -- published Tuesday (May 19) in PLoS ONE -- is being sold."  Scientists adopting business PR - hmmm...

enormous Agatha Christie Miss Marple compilation - 4,032 pages and one foot thickThis Agatha Christie compilation of all the Miss Marple novels has 4,032 pages and is over one foot thick.  Huh.  I wonder how big the Kindle edition will be?  :)

ZooBorn: baby Bactrian camelZooBorn of the day: a Bactrian camel baby...  proving that all babies are cute.

Have a great weekend, and see you "soon"...


Heartbreak Double

Sunday,  05/24/09  12:43 PM

Yesterday I successfully completed the Heartbreak Double Century, 202 miles and 15,500' of climbing.  Whew.  And actually I got lost at the end, blundering about in the dark, so I actually rode over 210 miles.  It was a really hard ride, but beautiful and really fun (now that it's over :) 

The middle hundred miles are the Heartbreak Hundred, the third-leg of Plant Ultra's King of the Mountains competition, and I had previously ridden the Mulholland Challenge and the Breathless Agony, so I completed the KOM successfully.  Can't wait to see where I ended up, I was in 21st overall after the first two...

I took a bunch of pictures yesterday, they are posted here for your viewing pleasure...

Here's the route:

heartbreak route - click to enlarge

And here's a happy rider at the finish:

heartbreak finish - click to enlarge

Next up, the comparatively mild Ojai Valley Century next weekend...


Skymall: the inventors parade

Sunday,  05/24/09  12:51 PM

I'm sure it's happened to you; you're sitting on a 'plane, waiting to take off or whatever, and you idly pick up the SkyMall magazine in the seat-back and glance through it.  I did this recently, and I was struck by the amazing inventor's parade on display.  All of these weird and wonderful gadgets were invented by someone, and after they had the idea they built a prototype, iterated, tried to get someone to make it, iterated, and finally found someone to distribute it.  Whether the idea is great or horrible, each product in the SkyMall catalog represents a lot of work.  Impressive, really.

eVision video glassesConsider these things, if you will:

  • Pen which records video.
  • Eyeglasses which display video on the inside of the lenses.
  • LP record to CD recorder.
  • Tiny universal cell phone charger.
  • iPod to iPod media transfer device.
  • A 7'x7' crossword puzzle.
  • Keychain WiFi signal locator.
  • Tabletop photo studio.
  • Automatic water dispenser for cats & dogs.
  • Pump-action gun that shoots mini marshmellows.
  • Swiveling deck chair.
  • Insect repellent hat.
  • 'Birdwatchers' motion-activated camera.

And that's just the first twenty pages.  Who said innovation is dead?


Sunday,  05/24/09  01:07 PM

blue drink - the canonical poolside companionA quick filter pass, before grabbing a blue drink and sitting out by the pool...

I suppose I should get back to my Windows 7 experiment - I have the weekend available - but I'm feeling lazy and it just doesn't appeal to me.  I have to debug a non-booting hard drive which would require, you know, actual thinking, and that doesn't feel like it is in the cards.  Maybe tomorrow.

blogging about nothing to say...Wow, a quick check of my RSS reader, and after two days there is nothing to blog about.  So be it :)  off to the pool...


In Memorium

Monday,  05/25/09  09:18 AM

in memorium...

In Memorium...

Just wanted to say thank you to all the men and women who've given their lives
and continue to risk their lives
so that we can live free

We sometimes take it all for granted until it is taken away
but liberty is the most precious right of all



Monday,  05/25/09  10:05 PM

I hope you had a great Memorial Day?  I did...  hung out with friends (thanks Yogi and Deepa, that was a GREAT party), drank wine, ate BBQ, swam, and mostly sat around talking...  couldn't get much better.  Oh, and I helped Megan set up her new drum kit (yay for electric drums! and thanks, Jeroen!).

NY_090601 - made on an iPhone!As a fan of New Yorker covers you knew I would note this one, painted on an iPhone.  Whoa, how cool is that?

You can watch a reply of how it was made here...

iPhones are all the rage, as is the Apple App Store, but here's a dose of reality for would-be App Store millionaires: "Most of the 36,000 applications on the App Store aren’t selling at all - for many apps, most days go by without a single sale."  The long tip of the long tail...

Pre-celebration?  "Investors should not think the upcoming version of iPhone 3 is going to be as successful as iPhone 2.0 because it will have solid competition from Palm Pre, developed by ex-Apple designer Jon Rubinstein.  Palm Pre has a superior operating system than iPhone. It runs on a better network - Sprint CDMA - versus iPhone which runs on GSM."  I don't know about the UI and OS comparisons - time will tell - but I must say every time I see a friend's iPhone in action, the network seems pokey compared to my Palm Centro on Sprint.  There is a there there in the CDMA vs GSM debate.

(Of course, precelebration is the root of all failure :)

The power of crowds: mapping North Korea.  "Here is one of the most closed countries in the world and yet, through this effort on the Internet by a bunch of strangers, the country's visible secrets are being published."  Awesome.

I can't drive, 55TTAC with news I can use: How to drive fast - responsibly.

Unbelievable stat of the day, via Kottke: "American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Nielsen Company - almost 80 messages a day, more than double the average of a year earlier."  My daughter Alex (15) is setting the pace :)

windmills! - cool, but can you rely on them?Futurepundit: On the dependability of wind energy during peak demand.  Aka, nuclear power is the future...

Interesting, from David Sacks, an ex-colleague at PayPal for whom I have the utmost respect: The awesome potential of Retweet.  "While there are many new features that Twitter could launch, the most powerful are likely to be based on behaviors that users have invented themselves."  Maybe all those Twitter users will figure out a way to make it useful; to me it is still a solution looking for a problem :)

Carlos Sastre wins stage 12 of the Giro and takes the overall leadCongratulations to Carlos Sastre, who came out of nowhere to win the hardest stage in the Giro d'Italia, thereby moving into third overall.  Menchov did well also, defending his overall lead and extending it slightly over Danilo Di Luca.  Levi Leipheimer had a bad day unfortunately and slipped to fifth, over three minutes down on GC and effectively out of it.  Carlos has that ability to star on the really nasty climbs; this performance recalls last year's charge on l'Alpe d'Huez  which led to his overall victory in the Tour de France.  Still, at this point you have to like Menchov... go Rabobank!

Buckaroo Banzai summarized in four frames!Movies in frames sums up each movie with four frames.  What a cool idea.  Seems like you couldn't do it, and yet... check it out!  (the example at right is of course Buckaroo Banzai...)

Finally, who knew?  When you reach 25, it's time to grow up and be an adult.  I totally missed that, now that I'm 50, is it too late?


hunter lecturers (New Yorker, 5/25/09)

Tuesday,  05/26/09  10:21 PM

hunter lecturers

I love it.
aka "the evolution of language"...


Tuesday,  05/26/09  10:30 PM

Tough to get back into "work mode" this morning (at 4:00AM!), a productive day but a long one - work work work - good thing I enjoy my job because I certainly spent a lot of time on it :)  And then a little bike ride up and down the beach (today I thanked the world for allowing me to live in a place where I have such beauty to enjoy while riding) and then a nice dinner with friends / coworkers and then blogging and then... sleep!

My car's airconditioner has crapped out.  Crap.  It did it in a very unpromising ($$$!) way - loud bang followed by smoke coming out from under the hood.  Don't need the A/C but do need the $$$ it will take to fix it.  Not thinking about that right now ... nnnn ...

the most interesting ad on TVThe most interesting commercial on TV... features the most interesting man in the world.  I, too, don't always drink beer, but I, too, prefer Dos Equis when I do :)  Stay thirsty, my friends!

chicken racing :)Interesting note from Gerard Vanderleun, Marijuana Country: "The tax-free produce of this fertile region probably produces the only section of California that isn't bankrupt."  You'll have to click through for more on the picture :)

Great new feature in PayPal: balance manager.  Automatically transfers money when your account goes below $X to reset it to $Y.  This is huge for me; the main reason I have to carry two credit cards is that I often forget to check my PayPal balance (which affects the amount available through my PayPal debit card).  Ah, it's the little things in life...

Euro Disney in 3D on Google EarthGoogle Earth have added a bunch of new 3D models, among them Euro Disney.  Cool.  Now I can go there without, um, going there.

frankenwatch!Is this the world's ugliest watch?  I think it might be, amid stiff competition.  Isn't it amazing that people keep trying to come up with new innovative watch designs, even though just about everything now contains a clock?

Apparently Time Warner are considering spinning out their AOL subsidiary...  after trying and failing to find a buyer.  The $147B "merger" of AOL and Time in early 2001 has to be considered the peak of the dot-com bubble as well as the "jump the shark" moment.  AOL has declined amazingly since then, are they even relevant?  Who uses AOL anymore, for anything?

Adenovirus: cancer-cell killerExcellent: Virus Tamed To Destroy Cancer Cells But Leave Healthy Cells Unharmed.  "Scientists at Oxford University have tamed a virus so that it attacks and destroys cancer cells but does not harm healthy cells. They determined how to produce replication-competent viruses with key toxicities removed, providing a new platform for development of improved cancer treatments and better vaccines for a broad range of viral diseases."  What a cool approach, more please!

ZooBorns: baby MarkhorsEver heard of a Markhor?  Yeah, me either.  Well anyway they are endangered goat-antelopes indigenous to Central Asia, and their babies are cute...  ZooBorns of the day!


the greatest dinghies

Thursday,  05/28/09  08:48 AM

My list for the Tillerman, the greatest dinghies of all time (that I have sailed):

  1. International 505505.  The greatest doublehanded racing dinghy of all time, indisputably, as well as the prettiest.  Not to mention one of the toughest classes.  I raced in the 505 Worlds in, um, 1990 (had to think about that), in Kingston Ontario, finished about 50th in a fleet of 100 boats, and rate that one of my best regattas ever (that was back when I could sail).

  2. Laser.  The greatest singlehanded racing dinghy of all time, although the Finn would have a case, too.  Certainly the most popular; there are Lasers everywhere.  I've never had any success racing Lasers, exception in local fleets, the class is just too tough.  I've owned three lasers including Locomotive Breath, my current one, which is eight years old; I'm guessing I've had one for over half my life, and hope to keep that going...

  3. C-15: It's the WaterC-15.  This is my sentimental favorite, as I've owned my current C-15 It's the Water for 30 years, and have won three national championships in it.  Of course the C-15 isn't as fast as a lot of other doublehanded boats, but it is built better and they last.  (And in enough wind, they do manage to get out of their own way :)  Probably the high point of my sailing career was winning the C-15 International Championship in Japan, in 1978.  Yeah, I was 19; I peaked early...

  4. Snipe.  As the Laser is the most popular singlehander, the Snipe would have to be the most popular doublehander; you can find them all over the world.  They are not fast, but they're fun to sail and durable, and they have a feature which has ensured their popularity: they can be sailed by a guy with his girlfriend.  I owned a Snipe for about ten years, finally donated it to the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club when garage space became more important to me than sailing :)

  5. Hobie 16 in its natural environmentHobie 16.  The most popular catamaran of all time, by far; you can find them all over the world on every beach.  They're simple and fun and fast, and at one time there was a huge racing fleet which was amazingly competitive (seems to have died out a bit in recent years).  I raced them off Malibu, and enjoyed their speed and ease of sailing as much as the competition.  They are as happy sitting on a beach as they are in the water.

Assembling this list gave me a strong sense of nostalgia.  Nothing is as worthwhile as spending time sailing; my father used to say God did not count time on the water against your allotted days on the Earth.  I need to spent more time "out there"... maybe next weekend, with my daughter (the Westlake Cup Regatta, which I first won in a Cyclone at age 17), or a bit later, the High Sierra Regatta, fixture of the C-15 Class calendar, my first "out of town" race when I was a young teen, wide-eyed with wonder at seeing so many boats from so many places, and Huntington Lake is still one of the best places to sail anywhere.  Stay tuned!


Thursday,  05/28/09  09:01 AM

(...composed on USAir en route to Phoenix from Burbank...)

Yesterday was amazing, in fact it feels like part of today, because I woke up in Vista, spent the day working (productively, yay), had a fantastic dinner with colleagues and friends in Carlsbad (at which, I'll note we sampled a mini-vertical of Duckhorn Three Palms merlots, and concluded once more they are amazing), drove home, slept for three hours, got up and drove to Burbank airport, and here I am... whether this bodes well for my meetings later today remains to be seen :)

Scott "Dilbert" Adams is calling the bottom: "In January I wrote a post about Captain Sullenberger safely landing his plane in the Hudson River. At the end of the post I said it was a sign that the economy had reached bottom and would soon improve, thanks largely to what I predicted would be an upsurge in consumer confidence...".  And this appears to be exactly what happened.  But as Scott cautions, "Disclaimer: Don't get your financial, legal, or medical advice from cartoonists."

Sonia SotomayorSo President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court Justice, to replace the retiring David Souter.  Her proposition: 'I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male'.  Ugh.

From the department of unintended consequences: "Bond investors literally can't afford to lend to unionized companies because it's clear that current power in Washington will take the unions' side, despite past bankruptcy law precedents that favor senior creditors. That means Washington's actions in pushing for these bankruptcy verdicts to come out in favor of the unions will probably hurt unionized companies in the long run."  Repeat after me: governments should not be involved in markets...

President Obama's response to North Korea's apparently successful test of a nuclear weapon: "'Let's be clear: we are not taking adverbs off the table,' Mr. Obama said. 'If the need arises, we will use them forcefully, aggressively, swiftly, overwhelmingly and commandingly'."  As Powerline notes, no verbs in prospect.

RAID!Jeff Atwood tells us everything you wanted to know about RAID, and more...  I've become a convert to RAID, slowly; in the bad old days it seemed like the arrays' unreliability was worse than their drives', but these days that's no longer true and using RAID on servers seems almost required.

stand up to cancer!Now you can [apparently] Stand Up to Cancer, with Twitter...  possibly the best use of Twitter that has yet been found, although it cannot transmit pictures of Jennifer Aniston :)

FierceBiotech reports Cougar trial sees big response to prostate cancer drug.  "Researchers say that Cougar's lead drug candidate--abiraterone acetate--produced positive data in a small clinical study on prostate tumors.  Abiraterone is designed to stop the body from producing a hormone tumor cells thrive on.  Imaging scans of the 54 patients in the study demonstrated that nine of 24 subjects demonstrated a decrease in tumor size."  Excellent!

Cult of Mac reports iPhone under fire: "For the first time since the announcement of the original iPhone, there are legitimate competitors all around, many of them even approaching Apple’s thinking in creating a holistic ecosystem of supporting software, third-party development and services. There are three big threats to the rise of the iPhone right now: Palm Pre, mass availability of Android, and the Zune HD platform".  The iPhone will do just fine, competition is good.

Meanwhile TechCrunch thinks the Palm Pre will fail: "I'm afraid to report that after all the magic, all the tears, all the joy the Palm Pre will be just another phone.  It won't save Palm, it won't change paradigms, and it won't send the iPhone hegemony crashing to its knees."  We'll keep think link around and check back in a couple of months :)  My own view is that the Pre will succeed, and it has saved Palm already, although I agree it won't dent the iPhone hegemony.

'Up' - rising...CNet: How technology lifts Pixar's 'Up'.  It looks really good, wow, how can they have done it again?  Can't wait to see it; opens Friday...  BTW the Disney acquisition of Pixar looks like it worked, huh?

ZooBorn: baby baboonZooBorn of the day: a baby Baboon.  Looks like more trouble than a barrel of monkeys, doesn't he?


Saturday,  05/30/09  11:03 AM

Wow, sorry for the gap, but I have been busy...  Thursday I had a one-day business trip, got home late, and yesterday I drove back down to Vista for a business meeting, and then went bowling with the rest of Aperio (worst game of my life, but had a great time).  And then drove back in Friday afternoon traffic for a fun party with friends.  I know, I know, a reason is no excuse, but that's my reason...

Oh yeah and no, I did not ride the Ojai Valley Century today; instead I slept :)  For about twelve hours, whew!  I figured it was okay since I just rode the Heartbreak Double and have the Eastern Sierra Double next weekend...

Meanwhile, it's all happening...

Lakers beat Denver! - advance to finalsYay, Lakers!  I am such a fairweather fan, I barely pay attention to pro basketball at all until the playoffs, and barely notice the Lakers until they make it to the finals.  Which they did, beating Denver last night...  watched from our friend's party.  Now I'm pulling for Cleveland to survive Orlando so it can be Kobe vs. LeBron in the finals - fXf!

Peter Robinson: The problem with California.  "The central problem in the Golden State–the disorder that affects every aspect of state government–can be described very simply: The political class in Sacramento believes the people of California exist for the state government, not the other way around."  I am confident we'll reverse the tide, but things have gone badly wrong.  And unfortunately Arnold has become part of the problem, not the solution.

Arnold with hydrogen carSchwarzenegger: California will support hydrogen, always.  Never mind that we don't have the money, nor that it makes no sense in the first place.  That's the kind of thinking that got us where we are, I'm afraid...

Apparently GM is going to file Chapter 11 on Monday.  Wow.  We have to wonder if they'll ever come out of it, of whether they'll be a ward of the state forever.  I guess that would depend on whether they build cars people want to buy again.  My own guess is no, they will not.  I can't imagine a government-owned corporation doing anything innovative...

Swiss writing knifeThe awesome Swiss Writing KnifeHow cool is that?  Makes me wish I was a writer.  Oh, wait a minute, I am!

BTW any ideas what a Swiss Coding Knife would look like?  I guess maybe it would be on-screen rather than physical, right...  could have various virtual tools for user interfaces, algorithms, debugging, and perhaps blogging :)

the analog digital clockHere we have the analog digital clock.  Which is to say, a digital clock made out of analog clocks; the clock hands form the "LED" segments.  I love it.

Sorry I'm Late - stop action movieThis movie is amazingly cool: Sorry I'm Late.  It takes a little while to realize it was shot stop-action, from above, onto a hardwood floor.  [ via Boing Boing ]

I haven't blogged about it every day, but I've been closely following the Giro; Denis Menchov continues to maintain a small lead over Danilo Di Luca, and looks to be the champion if he can hold on in tomorrow's time trial.  I've always liked Menchov, and not just because he rides for Rabobank (!), but although he's won two Vueltas I didn't regard him as a top-tier GC rider until this Giro.  With the competition in this race, if he wins he's definitely in the top tier, wow.  I think Levi Leipheimer will probably win the time trial tomorrow, but he has no chance to win overall and only a slim chance to move up to the podium.

One more note on the Giro: it is great to see Ivan Basso back, and amazing to see him in fifth overall, just ahead of Levi, in his first major race back.  He's going to be a threat in the Tour for sure.

In the wake of Microsoft's Bing announcement (their new search engine), we have Bing vs Bing...

There are apparently Bing ads on Google.  Already.  Cool.  And how funny :()

TechCrunch wonders What Happened?  Thursday was supposed to be Bing Day.  "One problem right off the bat: the site wasn’t live.  Another problem: A team of Google engineers based in Sydney was simultaneously announcing a stealth project 4+ years in the making called Wave."

You never want to under-estimate Google, but I can't figure out what Wave is all about, which is a bad sign.  If it is that cool, you would think it would appear to be that cool to me.  Well stay tuned, we'll figure it out together...

Here's John Gruber's take; he's skeptical like I am, but cautiously so, like I am.

McNamee and Rubenstein: remaking Palm...Meanwhile at the "D" conference, Rubenstein and McNamee are Remaking Palm.  The video linked at right is awesome; a fake commercial in which McNamee makes over-the-top pronouncements about the Pre while Rubenstein interrupts with the truth. Which is also a bit over-the-top, despite being true :)  Only a week before the Pre is out!

More Pre: the Boy Genius report, with a pre-review.  He likes the screen and WebOS and the size, the keyboard not so much.  Too bad, but at least it has a keyboard.  Anyway enough with the Pre-hype and Pre-reviews and all, I want one!  Fortunately there is only one more week to wait...

Even more Pre: DVD Jon on how it interfaces with iTunes...

Okay one more: the Pre has a 3.5mm headset jack.  Which means... it doesn't suck, for that reason anyway.  Although that might mean I'd have to get a new headset, which kind of sucks...

Scoble: Why the "D" people are wrong about Web 3.0.  "The idea that we have a version for the Web is just plain ridiculous.  It makes the innovations we're implementing too easily dismissed.  How many times have you heard that “Twitter is lame?”  I lost count 897 days ago."  I think Robert's right about Web 3.0, but I still think Twitter is lame :)

reasons for using Internet ExplorerThis is pretty funny: reasons for using Internet Explorer, and pretty true; downloading Firefox is by far the biggest reason :)  I never run IE, except perhaps under IETab under Firefox in order to load a site which bogusly requires it or perhaps to do some testing.  It is interesting to see that "downloading Chrome" didn't make the list.  Yet.

Oh, and looks like we're going to get Chrome Extensions, yippee.  Hopefully this will allow us to get Adblock for Chrome, too...

Atlantic Walrus!Picture of the day: an Atlantic Walrus.  (please click to enbiggen!)  Wow, they're amazing.  Perhaps someday we'll even have a Walrus ZooBorn, but in the meantime...

ZooBorns: Prairie Dog pupsZooBorns of the day: Prairie Dog pups!


in praise of Up

Sunday,  05/31/09  10:13 AM

Going Up!Last night Shirley and I saw Up, and I must tell you, it is fantastic!  Not just a great animated movie, not just a great 3D movie, but a great movie, period.  The opening sequence which sets the stage is amazing cinema, I think I was tearing up within the first five minutes.  But the movie just went Up from there, with great characters, wonderful action, and as usual with a Pixar film a great blend of a simple story with sophisticated undertones. 

You should see it, you'll love it.

PS we're not the only ones who liked it; I've never seen a movie get 98 at Rotten Tomatoes before.



Sunday,  05/31/09  03:03 PM



I love it!
refresh page to replay animation)

...if anyone knows to whom credit should go for this, please let me know...


Sunday,  05/31/09  08:32 PM

Last day of May...  and off to New York tomorrow!  Had a nice day today... hanging out with family and celebrated my Mom's birthday (which is really tomorrow).  We gave her - ta da - a Kindle.  I think she's going to love it, we'll see...

...and now the Ole filter makes a pass...

SETI@home in actionWow, SETI@home has turned 10.  Amazing.  I can remember having dozens of computers at Intuit running SETI in their spare time, back in 1999...  that screenshot [shown at left] is absolutely iconic...

Guess what?  Turns out Pixar's 'Up' house could really fly!  Well, under some set of assumptions, anyway...  I still think that garden hose would probably tear out :)

Apparently Up is really flying at the box office.  As it should be.  That makes an unbelievable ten hits in a row for Pixar.

Toy Story 3 - teaser trailerAnd - here's the trailer for Toy Story 3.  I'm ready!

Mozilla and Google's 'don't be evil' bulldozer.  Pretty interesting.  Long term it is tough to see how Mozilla can remain competitive, but there they are, with Microsoft, Apple, and Google as their competition.  Pretty amazing.  And I have to admit, Firefox is still my everyday browser.

Denis Menchov wins the Giro!Wow, congratulations to Denis Menchov, who won the 2009 Giro d'Italia.  A great victory considering the competition and the way he won it, by pulling away and winning the toughest stage.  This makes him a sudden favorite for the Tour de France, I think, along with Alberto Contador...  As much as I like Menchov, it is also great to see Rabobank win a grand tour.  They came -> <- this close to winning the Tour with Michael Rasmussen in 2007.

Richard Feynman plays the bongosDid you know Nobel-prize winning Physicist Richard Feynman played a pretty mean pair of bongos?  No?  Well check these videos for evidence...  Here's something else you probably didn't know: Richard Feynman played bongos at my parents wedding.  Yep, my Dad worked for Linus Pauling at the time, and a whole bunch of Caltech physicists and chemists were there...

My own Feynman annecdote: When I was a freshman at Caltech, in 1976, Feynman was still there but no longer actively teaching.  Toward the end of the semester the weekly lecture was suddenly moved to a much larger hall, and the rumors spread - Feynman himself was to give it.  Sure enough, that morning the huge hall was full, with freshman physics students as well as all manner of grad students, senior faculty, and administrators.  No introduction or anything, he just walked out, introduced himself, and launched right into explaining Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity.  I still remember that lecture, the quiet concentration as everyone listened intently, the laughter (Feynman was really funny), and the sense of occaison.  I didn't know then I'd be blogging thirty years later, but I knew then I would be talking about that lecture.  Walking out of the hall, I felt I really understood the Special Theory for the first time, even though I'd been working with it all term.  That feeling soon passed - I still have only an emperical understanding of it - but the tantilizing feeling of having it within my grasp stayed with me.  He was truly exceptional.

I am finishing Nassim Taleb's The Black Swan...  hit pause temporarily to read some other stuff, including William Gibson's Pattern Recognition...  One of the cool paradoxes is that we necessarily know more about things which are wrong than about things which are right.  For the longest time everyone thought Newtonian physics was right - all the evidence supported it.  But yet slowly evidence from astronomy began accumulating that it was not quite right, which led to Einstein's theory, which has Newtonian physics as a special case.

Another interesting gem from The Black Swan: how we handle incomplete information is at the core of intelligence.

winner: Inhabitat's eco-bikini contest :)I have been following Inhabitat's eco-bikini contest with great interest :)

Electronic Daybook: things that depress me.  I agree with the list, to which I would add, "lists of things that depress me".

Something that cheers me up: strange loops :)

ZooBorns: Nubian goat kidsSomething else that cheers me up, the ZooBorns of the day: Nubian goat kids.

Have a great week!


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this date in:
About Me

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