Critical Section

Archive: June 2009

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 I club NY (New Yorker, 6/1/09)

Monday,  06/01/09  08:08 PM

I club NY



shining a light

Monday,  06/01/09  08:15 PM

Way back last Christmas my kids gave me a Rolling Stones concert DVD called Shine a Light, filmed by Martin Scorcese.  I like the Stones, but have never felt they were necessarily my favorite band, you know...  but they have created a metric ton of great music over the years.  And I've always respected them for their longevity and purity, they've always been, well, who they are, and they still are, even though who they are is a lot older :)

the Rolling Stones Shining A LightSo I've had this DVD, and kind of set it aside, and recently kind of re-found it, and last Friday I watched quite a bit of it while stuck in traffic (don't ask).  And it is great!  Really, really, really great.  In addition to being a pretty nice movie of a pretty great concert, it is interspersed with lots of interesting flashbacks and interviews and personal vignettes which really give you a feel for the band as people.  I'm going to say they are masters of the fine art of just being who you are.

One little example: so they interview Ronnie Wood, and they ask him: "who is better on guitar, you or Keith?"  And he kind of hems and haws and finally says "well I am of course".  Laughing.  And then they interview Keith Richards, and ask him the same question.  And he hems and haws and says "oh I don't know", and they tell him "well Ronnie said it was him".  And Keith says "yeah he would say that".  And then he adds "the truth is we're both pretty lousy, but together we're better than ten others".

And that sums up Keith and Ronnie and Mick and Charlie and the whole band for me.  They're each pretty lousy, but together they're better than ten million others :)


Monday,  06/01/09  08:53 PM

Blogging from Great Neck, New York...  may have a slight Long Island accent :)

North_East_Long_IslandDriving around Glen Cove (where I had dinner, Bistro M, really nice pistachio-encrusted halibut), and Bayville, and Oyster Bay, and Great Neck, I am struck by the fact that the fractal dimension of the East Coast coastline is far higher than the West Coast.  It is almost 2, and ours is barely 1.  (That is to say, on the East Coast there are a lot of bays and coves and peninsulas and islands and all sorts of "stuff" going on, whereas on the West Coast we have a beach, and that's about it.  A nice beach, of course :)  There is so much surface area along the shores of Long Island, lots and lots of land for people to have houses on the shoreline.  Interesting...

One more observation about Long Island: the radio stations kick ass.  I listened to 88.7 for a while (WRHU, Radio Hofstra University) and they played seriously excellent stuff, great old hard rock.  And not just the really popular classics either, but stuff that made me say "wow, I remember that song".  Made me wish my little Ford Fusion had a better stereo...  anyway I miss stations like that in L.A.  KMET, oh where you have gone...

So GM is bankrupt.  Government Motors.  Good thing we taxpayers pissed away all that money to save them, huh?  Does anyone really think they are going to turn themselves around and become viable again?  No way.  They are going to be a joke, a bad, expensive joke, for a long time...

GM and Citi have been replaced by Cisco and Traveler's in the Dow Jones index.  So be it.

Good call: TTAC declares the end of their GM bankruptcy watch.  They saw it coming long before most of us (although I must say I believed them).

This sounds really cool: World's largest laser to attempt nuclear fusion.  "Laser enthusiasts everywhere, rejoice. California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory just unveiled its $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility, a 10 story building as wide as three football fields that contains the world’s largest laser. When it goes online the facility will focus 192 laser beams on a 2 millimeter ball of frozen hydrogen gas in an attempt to create nuclear fusion - the holy grail of clean energy. If the machine does succeed, it stands to monumentally alter our energy landscape - one cubic kilometer of sea water has the fusion energy equivalent of the entire planet’s oil reserves."  Yeah, baby.  What a great time to be alive!

Falkirk wheel joining two canals at different heightsThe best way to join two canals which aren't at the same height?  A Falkirk wheel, of course!  How cool is that, a very clean and economical solution.  Much better than locks.

An interesting profile of the lock-hacker who can "bump" Medeco locks.  The capabilities of lock-pickers are always amazing to me; it doesn't seem like it would be that hard to make an un-pickable lock, but it is, apparently...

Wow, someone's in line for a Palm Pre already.  That's incredible.  I'm going to get one as soon as I can, but I'm not willing to sit outside for days to do it :)  I suspect they'll be available online, from the comfort of my web browser...

John Gruber: Why Palm Pre's sync with iTunes can't be legit.  Wherein "not legit" is not the same as "not legal"; seems to me they're entirely free to do this, just like the way all browsers say "Mozilla" in their user-agent.  The question of whether Apple will block this is interesting; I think they will not.  The upside from more music sales will exceed the downside of greater competition for the iPhone from the Pre.

Taking attendance with iPhones, in Japan.  A new location-based service!

computer languages compared graphicallyComparing [many] different programming languages for size and speed, graphically.  Interesting technique for showing the characteristics, although the results don't contain any surprises.  Natively compiled languages like C/C++ are fast, and bytecode interpreters like Java/C# are not.  And scripting languages like Perl and PHP are really not.  So be it.

ZooBorn [of all time!]: Panda bear cubZooBorn of the day, and in fact ZooBorn of all time: a Panda bear cub.  If that doesn't make you smile, then you may not read my blog anymore.


waiting for Facebook (New Yorker, 6/1/09)

Tuesday,  06/02/09  08:58 PM

waiting for Facebook...


Tuesday,  06/02/09  09:07 PM

Blogging from the Virgin skies, 35,000' above Colorado...  on my way back from New York after a one-day trip for a two-hour meeting.  I am one tired puppy.  (But I am happy to have WiFi and power :)

Pontaic AztecIf you want to turn GM around, your first task is to understand why they failed, and what can be done about it.  Jason Kottke has assembled links to collective wisdom about why GM failed.  Reading through them there are many reasons, and none of them seems easily fixed...

PS my vote from the ugliest car of recent times goes to the Pontiac Aztec, pictured at left.  Physical embodiment of the principle that while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we can all agree on ugly.

In case you missed the new Tonight show, now with Conan O'Brian, here it is...  As you know I don't watch TV, but I did used to like Johnny Carson, and so I was curious about the new heir.  Not a bad start, IMHO.

Socotra plantPretty cool: Socotra Island: the “Galápagos of the Indian Ocean.”  "Isolated from continental land masses for 18 million years, Yemen’s Socotra Island showcases an alien-like landscape with unusual plants and animals, such as the blood dragon tree, pictured, and desert rose. Its high degree of biodiversity has earned it the name the 'Galápagos of the Indian Ocean'."  Who knew?

Don't these plants look very Seuss-ian? :)

Well, so now we know; Alberto Contador will be Astana's leader for the Tour de France.  "Armstrong is not the team's second rider. With what we saw in the Giro, that is for Levi."  So be it, but I have a feeling this is not the last word...  stay tuned.

SpaceX' Dragon capsuleFrom Wired: Space 2.X: The Private Rocket Race Takes Off.  "Building a successful startup in Silicon Valley is hard, but it’s not rocket science. Unless you’re SpaceX."  They have another launch coming up, fXf!


Wednesday,  06/03/09  11:35 PM

Man, morning came early today; after getting back from New York late last night I drove down to Vista this morning...  left late, deliberately (so I could sleep a little more), and traffic was fortunately not horrible...  long day of meetings, sometimes I think problems could be solved more easily without other people :) and so I badly needed a hard ride and so I blew out of the office and headed for my now-usual ride down from Dana Point, and my now-usual nice dinner afterwards... and then drove home and then blogged!  Whew.

The art of living dangerously.  "But here's the cool thing. I found that moderate, rational, risk takers, that is, those with scores between the mean and one standard deviation to the right are the people who are most satisfied with their lives."  I think perhaps there is some confusion between correlation and causality here, but it is an interesting finding.  I will try to take more risks... tomorrow!

Titan - where it is springtime!Hey guess what?  It's springtime on Titan!  Honestly I cannot wait to go there, I'm saving up a whole bunch of small risks and I'm going to spend them all at once on one big risk.  The adventure of a lifetime.

Apropos (sort of); a great article by Seth Shostak: When will we find the extraterrestrials?  Please read it for a nice overview of SETI and the various ways we might find life beyond Earth.  Interestingly, Seth argues "I think that if there's a conscious intelligence out there, it's synthetic."  Basically because machines will outlast the organisms that create them...

the Keating hotel in downtown San DiegoThis is pretty cool: The Keating Hotel in downtown San Diego was designed by Pininfarina.  How did I know this?  Well the other night my parking valet gave me his card; he happens to run events and marketing for the Keating :)  Looks awesome, too bad I rarely have occasion to stay downtown...

In case you didn't know; Pininfarina is the Italian design firm best known for Ferraris and Maseratis :)

gallium corrole: a molecular missileCaltech's Engineering & Science quarterly describes a fascinating new technique for fighting breast cancer: Molecular Missiles.  "A search-and-destroy molecular machine that selectively locks on to cancer cells could make radiation treatments a thing of the past, at least for breast cancers.  The method uses a chemical payload called a gallium corrole, mated to a protein carrier that seeks out a cancer-cell marker. Once it binds to the cell, the protein triggers endocytosis, a process in which the cell engulfs the corrole-carrier combo."  An interesting approach, non-invasive and seemingly very effective.

Parenthetically I'll note that I can remember receiving Chemistry lectures from Harry Gray thirty years ago. Dr. Gray always said the best biology was done by chemists :)

Of possible interest, and so I can find it later; Jeff Atwood tells us how to share files with Bittorrent.  Turns out it is a little more complicated to serve files this way than it is to download them...

So have you checked out Google Squared yet?  O'Reilly says it is an exponential improvement in search, a headline crafted more for the mathematical allusion than for truth; honestly it seems like a nice tool for certain work, but not broadly applicable.

Palm Pre - now viewing!Finally, the Pre-views are out!  That is to say a whole slew of reviewers have received a Pre-launch Pre, and are posting their reviews.  So far the results seem quite positive.  I'll have more to say when I'm awake again... good night!


through glasses, darkly

Wednesday,  06/03/09  11:54 PM

hyperspace jumpOakley Livestrong sunglassesSpeaking of taking risks (we were), there is one weird risk I love to take: I like cycling in the dark with dark glasses.  I prefer Oakley Livestrongs for this purpose, your mileage may vary :)  Not the world's biggest risk, after all I can still see - sort of :)  But I love that feeling of rushing along in the dark, little lights flashing by on all sides.  A nice hard rock soundtrack enhances the effect, such as Van Halen's Panama...  or Styx.  I don't know why this is fun, maybe I'm making the jump to hyperspace :)  One of these days I'll hit an unseen pothole or something, and it won't be so fun.  But for now, I prefer to see the world through glasses, darkly...


Pre views

Thursday,  06/04/09  08:13 AM

From Sprint: the Pre wait is over!The preview Pre units are out, and the Pre reviews are in!

  • Walt Mossberg.  "All in all, I believe the Pre is a smart, sophisticated product that will have particular appeal for those who want a physical keyboard. It is thoughtfully designed, works well and could give the iPhone and BlackBerry strong competition."
  • David Pogue.  "The Pre, which goes on sale first in the United States on Saturday and sometime in the second half of 2009 in Europe, is an elegant, joyous, multitouch smartphone that seems intended to be '‘iPhone, remixed.'"
  • Engadget.  "Ultimately - carriers and developers notwithstanding - what Palm has done is not only a major feat for a company of its size (and its dire position), we think it's an important step in the evolution of mobile computing."
  • Gizmodo.  (as usual with their reviews, too scattered to pick a quote as a summary.  They like it, but they can't stop "butting"...  okay, it isn't perfect, we get it...
  • CNet.  "Despite some missing features and performance issues that make it less than ideal for on-the-go professionals, the Palm Pre offers gadget lovers and consumers well-integrated features and unparalled multitasking capabilities."
  • PC Mag.  "Palm is back—and with the coolest handheld device we've seen in a long time. The Palm Pre has the same exhilarating sense of possibility as the iPhone—and it's even worth switching to Sprint for."
  • CNN.  Split as a review from a Blackberry user, and one from an iPhone user.  They both like it, for different reasons.
  • Fox.  "My takeaway: The Palm Pre is an impressive device with a slick design and an even slicker user experience."
  • Business Week.  "Adoption of Palm's new Pre smartphone will be hampered by its lousy applications, high price, and marketing missteps."

Some of these reviews are actual reviews, some are just pundits transmitting.  I guess time will tell.

I can't wait to get mine, but I might have to; I'm going to be gone Saturday (riding in the Sierras) and Sunday (sailing), and by then all the Sprint Stores and Best Buys will probably be sold out...

Palm Pre's new ad: flow[Update: you might enjoy Palm's amazing "Flow" ad...  ]

Palm Pre's "first run" video[Update #2: here's the Pre's "first run" video... way cool... ]



Thursday,  06/04/09  07:56 PM

Busy day getting ready for some downtime; riding the Eastern Sierra Double Saturday, which means tomorrow afternoon I'm driving up to Bishop, and then sailing with Meg in the Westlake Cup on Sunday.  Had to take my car in today, I'm afraid it is quite $sick, and ran a million errands, and ... blogged!

Kindle 2 - so easy to use your Mom could do it?You know that phrase "so easy my Mom could do it"?  Well, that doesn't quite apply to my Mom - there are a lot of things she can do (including reading my blog, so I have to be careful :) - but she just celebrated her 76th birthday (no, she doesn't care if you know) and we got her a Kindle.  I am very interested to see how she likes it...  Happy Birthday, Mom!

LGF reviews President Obama's speech to the Islamic World.  Not bad.  Certainly it isn't as bad as many (including me) might have feared...

US Air Force's X-37B space planeCool: US Air Force to launch space plane.  "While next year's flight profile remains a bit hazy, reports have the X-37B under auto-pilot control zooming into Vandenberg Air Force Base for a landing, or perhaps at Edwards Air Force Base, California."

Telsa is expanding into Europe, opening three showrooms in London, Monaco, and Munich.  Apparently they have now delivered 500 roadsters in the U.S., and the first European deliveries will take place this summer.  Very cool.  Remember, they are the only car company shipping electric cars.  Repeat after me, hybrids are not electric cars...

A panorama of the Enterprise's bridge, from Star TrekThis is amazing: a panorama of the bridge from the Enterprise, taken from the new Star Trek movie.  Kirk and Spock would feel right at home.

Time Magazine features Twitter as their cover storyTime Magazine has long since ceased to be relevant (to me at least, and to many others), but interestingly they feature Twitter on the cover of their latest issue.  I can't help but feel this is just the mainstreaming of the hype, but it is impressive.  What Joe and Jane make of this is anyone's guess.  Perhaps they can now follow Oprah and Shack.

Huh, this is interesting: RIM buys Dash.  I still have mine, but don't use it; the service has expired, and I can't renew it.  Perhaps now I'll be able to...  but no clue whether the old Dash hardware will ever be supported again.

World Wildlife Foundation's carbon-neutral headquarters in the NetherlandsWhat a beautiful building: the World Wildlife Fund opens carbon-neutral headquarters in the Netherlands.

ZooBorn: baby black RhinoZooBorn of the day: a baby black Rhino...


snow day

Sunday,  06/07/09  10:06 AM

Yesterday I did the ride from hell, honestly the hardest I’ve ever done.  It was the Eastern Sierra Double, which starts in Bishop, CA, and normally goes North from there to Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, and Mono Lake, before heading over to the Nevada border at Benton via the Sagehen Summit.  I say normally because this year there was snow forecast for Mono Lake and Sagehen, so instead of sending us North, they sent us South into the White mountains toward Death Valley, up and over Mount Waucoba, a nice little 7,500’ peak.  And guess what?  It snowed!  I have never been so cold.  And the descent down the backside was maximally scary because the road was all icy.  At the bottom my arms just about fell off from braking the whole way down.  Then we had to turn around and climb back up, over 12 miles at 7%.  My legs were not happy with me.  Finally we descended back down in Owens Valley, took a deep breath, and were just halfway through the ride.  The second half featured a little 80 mile out and back up to Benton on the Nevada border into a stiff 20mph headwind.  Brrr and Grrr.  It was horrible.  Anyway I did it – yay me – and now I can brag about it.

Eastern Sierra - route map

The (re)route; start in Bishop [center],
head south over Mount Waucoba (white outline indicates snow at summit),
descend wet scary road into valley (yellow outline),
turn around and ascend again (12 miles at 7%+),
descend back to Owens Valley and up to Bishop [center],
ride up route 6 to Benton (orange outline indicates 20mph headwind),
ascend climb to Benton Hot Springs,
and finally cruise back 40 miles downhill with tailwind (whew).

I have posted a bunch of pictures here if you're interested:

I like to say every bad thing that happens is a good story afterward, this was definitely a bad thing (or at least, a really hard thing), and now that it's over I guess it makes for a good story.  I sure was one happy guy when I finished:

Eastern Sierra - me, done, happy

In chest-beating mode I will note that 150 riders started while only 50 finished, and I did it in a respectable 14:30.  Finishing this ride meant I completed the Planet Ultra Grand Slam (yay me) along with only 9 other riders, and it is also my third double century of the year, which means I've completed the California Triple Crown again.

All these awards are designed to encourage the extreme masochism that these rides require... so why do we do them?  Why do I do them?  Enjoying the exercise and the chance to view amazing scenery is part of it, and hanging out with a little fraternity of fellow riders is another, but I think at core it has to do with the way it makes me feel about myself.  I like knowing I can do these rides, and I carry the knowledge around with me like a little jewel, to be taken out periodically and savored. 

Next up?  The Grand Tour Double, in three weeks, and then in mid July the Death Ride (dum dum dum).  Stay tuned.


Sunday,  06/07/09  10:36 AM

Hi y'all!  A little Sunday morning blogging, still recovering from my snow day yesterday (!), and anticipating a nice sail with Meg in the C-15 a little later, competing in the Westlake Cup.  I am a busy boy.  And tomorrow down to Vista for a few days of work work work, but first,

...the Ole Filter makes a pass...

Kobe fives Trevor in game 1 Thursday night; Lakers won 100-75Congrats to the Lakers, who dominated / blew out / overmatched [and generally made look silly] the Orlando Magic Thursday night.  It was 100-75, and it wasn't that close.  If the Lakers play like that the rest of this series, it's over.  Of course, they have been consistently inconsistent, so chances are they won't play like that the rest of this series, so it's not over.  Yet.

So the Pre is out!  And since I was otherwise occupied yesterday, and since I want one, I called around and the Pre is sold out.  Not one to be had anywhere around L.A. or San Diego.  Will keep trying...  in the meantime, TechCrunch notes a definite advantage of the Pre over an iPhone: push Gmail.  Since I use Exchange this doesn't affect me (both the Pre and the iPhone have push Exchange), but it does seem like a compelling advantage.

Daring Fireball reviews the state of Pre play: Palm Saturday.  "The iPhone was introduced at Macworld Expo on 9 January 2007.  On that day, Palm Inc. was screwed.  Their relevance in the industry had already been slowly draining, and they not only had no available products in the same league as the iPhone, they had no future products in the same league.  For all the mistakes Palm made to get to that point, and they clearly made many, it’s quite possible that they have done everything right since then... they did something few companies, no matter how deeply in trouble, ever do: they recognized that they were screwed and took drastic action. It’s an overused phrase, but in this case it is true: they’ve bet the company."  Regardless of how it ends up, Palm has already won, because they've already become relevant again.  Good for them.

stripes or dots? Too close to call :)Here's an interesting debate: stripes or polka dots?  (With regards to bikinis, that is :)  I think this one is too close to call, but I will monitor with great interest.  I would have to pick Denise Richards over Carmen Electra, stripes or dots or whatever, but YMMV.

In no way related to the previous post: Men married to younger women live longer.  "Now, it could be that guys who do not age as fast are more attractive in their 40s and 50s than guys who age more rapidly.  So they have an advantage over more rapidly aging guys when pursuing younger women.  Then they also live longer for the same reason they were able to get the young woman.  But some readers might want to play it safe and marry a younger woman just on the chance this might help."  Reported purely out of academic interest...

When GM's designs ruled the road, photos from 1925CNet has a great photo gallery from 1925: When GM's designs ruled the road.  How the mighty have fallen...

Looking at these pictures, I'm struck by the fact that aside from Cadillac, there was brand confusion even then...

Little Tykes Cozy CoupeThe top selling car in the U.S. last year?  Why, that's easy... it was the Little Tykes Cozy Coupe, of course.  "The Cozy Coupe sold 457,000 units in 2008, topping the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. In the '90s, it outsold both the Accord and Ford Taurus."  Not to mention it has maintained great brand recognition :)


Monday,  06/08/09  10:15 PM

Had a crummy day at work (todo list longer now than when I woke up many hours ago) and have some people / process issues to work through... this stuff would be so much easier without other people :)  Did manage to get in a ride - a really slow careful one, as certain parts of me are still in recovery mode from the double Saturday - and had a nice dinner with my friend / colleague Nick...

PS some of you asked about clothing on the snow day, well, I knew I was going to be facing crummy weather so I bought a long sleeved fleece jersey, and that pretty much saved me.  Along with full finger gloves and a hat.  (Although if I'd known I would have been riding in snow I probably would have worn ski pants and a parka :)

Critical Section Kindle edition!Did you know you can read this very blog on your Kindle? Yep... has a program whereby you can register to publish your blog for Kindle readers, and so I did.  Unfortunately for both of us you have to pay to read it ($2/month, which is why zero people have done so :)  So it is a dancing bear, cool but not useful.

Tim Bray echoes John Gruber on whether physical keyboards are necessary on smartphones.  Judging by the number of iPhones sold the answer is no, judging by the number of Blackberries sold, the answer is yes :)  It comes down to why you have the device I guess.  I want a Pre, which has the best of both!

Apple WWDC - iPhone 3GS announced with 50,000 application available for it...Today was Apple's WWDC, Steve Jobless, and Phil Schiller announced a bunch of cool stuff including a new MacBook, OS 10.6 (aka "Snow Leopard"), and a faster iPhone and an old cheaper iPhone.  To me the key iPhone stat now is the staggering number of applications which have been written for it as a development platform.  I really didn't see that coming, and at this point it is Apple's key advantage over anything else, no matter how cool the hardware... pretty much the same sort of monopoly that Microsoft's enjoyed with Windows.

Jeff Atwood: Unix is dead, long live Unix.  "So, yes, I'm a fan of Unix.  And I'm also a fan of Windows.  I think it's worth studying what both are getting right and wrong, because as a programmer, I'm a fan of whatever the heck works."  I agree with the philosophy, but I'm not a fan of Windows for the same reason :)

BTW wasn't it great when real programmers had real beards?  I had one myself :)

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: Happy Negative Christmas.  "I just invented a new holiday.  It's called Negative Christmas.  On this day, rather than giving gifts, you can force a family member or friend to discard one item that he or she already owns.  The selected item might be a hideous shirt that you consider an abomination, or that pair of bedroom slippers that are an insult to all footwear.  The idea is that the unrecipient should be better off without the item you ungift."  I love it.

As I think about it this sort of happens at my house; come June, Shirley goads the kids into giving away all the clothes they no longer want or which no longer fit, in preparation for summer (when they wear "other stuff") and next fall (when they buy new stuff).

LiveKick - a ticket / concert search engineLiveKick is the ticket to finding your favorite concerts.  Now that is a business plan, you can totally see this filling a need...

ZooBorns: Panda cubs growing in size and cuteness :)ZooBorns of the day: those little Panda cubs are growing in size and cuteness!


Pre and me!

Wednesday,  06/10/09  11:14 PM

I have a Pre!  Yay.  I'll tell you everything but the first thing you need to know is that everything you've heard is true, and more.  After 24 hours I would say it is probably the most amazing device I've ever owned.

Me and my PreSunday I called around and nobody in L.A. had a Pre left in stock, every Sprint store, every Best Buy was sold out.  Monday I was in Vista so I called around and nobody in San Diego had a Pre left in stock either.  I put my name on about fifteen waiting lists, resigned to wait.  Then yesterday afternoon the Sprint store in Encinitas sent me an email: they had a Pre for me!  Turns out they were operating a mini lottery instead of a FIFO queue - why, I cannot say - and they had one Pre left, and so despite getting on the list late it was mine.  And so I dashed down and bought the little guy, including a Touchstone charger (yes they had one of those for me too) and a car kit and so on.

The phone was activated in the store and I walked out with everything working.  I setup Exchange in about 15 seconds (just gave my username / password / domain / server URL) and poof, everything synced, and everything worked.  Email, Contacts, Calendar, perfectly synced and functional.  The only thing I couldn't copy over was old SMS threads.  The learning curve was shallow and I was a Pre demoer in no time.

I'll have more to say after a while, but my initial impressions are that the screen is great, the keyboard is great (better than the Centro), WebOS is really cool (just like you've seen), the camera is unexpectedly great (that self-portrait above was taken in a dark elevator without flash [yes, the Pre camera has a flash]), and the fit and finish are better than I was led to believe by some picky reviewers.  I really like the size and roundness and feel and clickiness and everything, and the light weight.  My hands just want to take it out and play with it all the time, it feels so cool.  I am worried about battery life; I love that it charges from USB, so you only need a cable if you're carrying your laptop, but I had to do that mid-day today, and that scared me a little.

Plantronics Pro bluetooth headset - really works (amazing)Oh, one more really cool thing, which doesn't really have to do with the Pre but with getting a Pre, I bought a new Plantronics Pro bluetooth headset, and it is amazing, qualitatively better than any bluetooth headset I've tried to use.  It even works (gasp!) in a car... while driving.

Well enough gushing.  I have one, it works, I'll be using the heck out of it, and you will hear all about it.  Stay tuned.


Wednesday,  06/10/09  11:36 PM

Whew, man it has been an eventful couple of days...  yesterday I worked all day, dashed out and got a Pre as you saw, took another rehabilitation ride (barely 15 miles, Carlsbad to Oceanside harbor and back), and had an amazing dinner (rare flatiron streak, Hitching Post pinot) with friends / colleagues after which I was in no shape to drive, barely in shape to walk (fortunately all I had to do), and unable to blog a word, coherent or otherwise.  Then today I worked all day (meetings from dawn to dusk!) and tonight rode my famous "Kessel Run" from Dana Point to Camp Pendleton and back.  And so I am now blogging to you from the Charthouse, anticipating Mahi Mahi.  We'll see what that means...

Forbes on the ARRA: the $787B mistake.  "The bottom line is that ARRA will leave us with a legacy of substantially rising debt without a commensurate benefit...  Our current crisis may soon be over, but we are in the process of creating a debt crisis of substantial proportion, and one that is not cyclical but rather is permanent."  My sense is that the economy is recovering, and that inflation caused by excess government spending will be the next crisis.  After which will come debt caused by excess government borrowing to fund the spending.  Blech.

Julian ComstockCory Doctorow gives Julian Comstock a glowing review.  I've one-clicked to my Kindle.  Can't wait...

... although I have to because I'm still reading William Gibson's Spook Country, previously one-clicked to my Kindle.  It is great, full of the same "coolseeker" observations as Pattern Recognition, although the book is newer so the observations are fresher.

And so now Google Apps sync with Outlook.  Wow.  That could be "goodbye Exchange" over time.  A central email server and shared calendars, and there you go.

Related, at least in my mind, this month marks the 10th anniverary of Napster!  Wow.  Napster was one of those mind-blowing things that heralded a completely new age.  I totally remember how blown away I was by it, a peek into the reality of the future, that digital information was going to be shared freely.  I suspect Microsoft sees the same sort of writing on the wall when they look into the future of selling server software...

Penguin USB driveHere we have the Penguin USB drive.  Wow, I love it.  What is it with Penguins, that they're so cute in any position?

Jason Kottke on the science of persuasion.  This is important because people are not logical, even though they try to be.  Figuring out ways to appear logical while actually being illogical is amazingly useful.

A real life "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" moment.  "I pull out the 17inch Macbook Pro, like it was the gold artifact in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, his eyes go wide, I open the lid, it’s on instantly, I’ve got like half a dozen spreadsheets and documents open, it doesn’t matter, I pop the movie in, it starts right up, as a final flourish I produce my remote control, and set it next to him, “You Drive,” I said.  The punchline: My new friend, is a senior executive at Dell."  Ouch.

top 10 most absurd Time Magazine coversThe top 10 most absurd Time Magazine covers.  Amid heavy competition, as the magazine itself has veered strongly toward the absurd altogether.  This is total linkbait, but I'm linking it anyway, and if you want my vote put it on the first one, Occult Revival.

Anil Dash considers the future of Facebook usernames.  Whenever one of these new "namespaces" is announced, there is always sturm and angst, and the Earth continues spinning.  Yeah, we'll all wish we could get the name we really wanted (I am betting that Ole.Eichhorn will be available :) but no, it won't be so bad to be ole99.  Stay tuned.

ZooBorns: baby lemursZooBorns of the day: baby Lemurs!  They look cute and mischevious, as all babies should...


(New Yorker, 6/1/09)

Thursday,  06/11/09  08:19 PM

last tweet?



Thursday,  06/11/09  08:41 PM

I've been thinking about my little dogs all day; I have two Shih-Tzus, Bijou and Maxie.  A close friend just lost her dog; he was old and ill, and it wasn't a total surprise, but of course it still it hurts like hell to lose a pet who's part of your family.  I told Bij and Max about it, and somehow they understood; they've spent the whole day in my office, quietly hanging out.  Interesting how they pick up our moods, isn't it...

Oh goody: Citi sets plan to convert $58B in stock.  Aka, the federal government now owns the U.S.' largest bank.  This is not good.  I don't know how we're going to put the cat back in the bag, either...

Yay; the Lakers won a nail-biter tonight, winning game four over the Magic to take a 3-1 lead (and I think, wrap up the series).  I watched this game, and I must tell you it was the worst-played basketball playoff game of all time.  Neither team wanted to win, but in the end the Lakers wanted to lose less than the Magic.  Brick city.

A catIn the [rather large] category of cool boats I've never sailed but want to: the A cat.  A list header by the Moth :)

Dave Winer on the impending Facebook personal name lottery: the Facebook Saturday night massacre.  It won't be that bad, Dave :)

Jason Kottke updates us on the search for alien life: more extrasolar planetary news.  "What scientists would look for are planets with unstable atmospheres, which James Lovelock said was an indication of life."  The weird thing of course is that all we have to go on is Earth-based life, so we're looking for ourselves.  There could be really alien life out there, which we would miss because we're not looking for it.  Which gets to the heart of the matter, what is life?

Menchov's bike change in the GiroYou might have read about Denis Menchov winning the Giro d'Italia (in fact, you might have read about it here), but you might not realize that he owes his victory to the Rabobank team mechanic.  Wrenches are always important in cycling, but this particular one is now a star :)

News I can use: 13 Palm Pre tips and hacks you didn't know about.  My Pre-report so far by the way is that I love it, it isn't perfect, and the battery life sucks.  In fact the battery life is so bad that I suspect I have a defective phone.  In all other ways it is great, and the best thing about it is the form factor.  The screen size / usability to physical size / shape ratio is better than anything.

Palm Pre fontsJohn Gruber links typephile on the Pre, singling out one of the nice touches on this device: the fonts are beautiful.  Honestly reading and composing email is a pleasure, the fonts are so beautiful and rendered so nicely on the screen.  The "look" of WebOS is amazing.

And in other important Pre news, it has now been hacked to run Doom.  Whew.  Couldn't wait for that to happen :)

ZooBorn: baby BelugaZooBorn of the day: a baby Beluga!  This is special for me as I read a book called "baby Beluga" to all my kids, I can't find it anymore and don't really remember it, but just saying the phrase "baby Beluga" brings back all kinds of memories.  And let's face it, white whales are cool.  Especially little ones :)


Friday,  06/12/09  04:44 PM

Michael Schenker
 A quick post before heading out to see Michael Schenker in concert!  Yay!  And then sleep, and then up at oh-dark-hundred to go to a conference over the weekend...  I will be a busy boy.  But first, a quick filter pass...

Important skill: how to type with a foreign accent.  "To sound Russian, omit definite or indefinite articles. 'No, you cannot have cheeseburger.'"  I love it  :)

Self-directed medicine: Teen trumps pathologist; diagnoses her own Crone's disease.  I, too, was impressed by the lack of defensiveness on the pathologist's part.  Diagnosis is tough, and mistakes can be made.  Which is why digital pathology is so important, among other things it facilitates secondary consults...

The Panda's thumb reports on fossilized insects revealed in 3D scans.  This is the classic "trapped in amber" scenario exploited to give scientific backing to Jurassic Park, but in real life.  I wonder if any of them have dinosaur blood in them?

goat tower!If your backyard is a little drab, perhaps you might consider a goat tower?  "Goats are the most curious animals in the world so they use the tower a lot. They come and go, passing each other on the ramp as needed."  I think little humans are even more curious, how great would it be for kids to have such a thing?

Facebook to sort of bring back the old site design.  Yay.  That might get me to start using it again.  BTW tonight is the great Facebook namespace rush, sign on at 9:00 PST to get your name...

ZooBorn: baby PythonZooBorn of the day: a baby python.  Awww....

See you on the other side of the weekend!


AA - the good, the bad, the ugly truth

Monday,  06/15/09  10:09 PM

This weekend I flew to Chicago to attend a conference - out Saturday morning, back last night - and may I just say for the record that American Airlines are horrible.  Not entirely bad, mind you, but overall ugly.

First, the good.

I needed to check in, so I did so online, and I saw (what's this?) the ability to receive a boarding pass on my phone!

AA electronic boarding

Wow how cool is that?  So I did it, and poof!

AA electronic boarding pass

You just show this on your phone, wave it under the barcode reader, and board the plane.  That's really cool.

Okay, now the bad.

Okay, so the flight was late - that happens - and okay, they had to switch planes - that happens - but how can you end up with no food and no blankets on a plane?  That does not happen.  That is bad.

And now for the ugly.

AA tight flight - the view from my "window"On the way back I had what must be the crummiest flight of all time.  Picture this: I'm in the "window" seat of the last row, window in quotes because all I can see though it is a jet engine three feet away (see "the view" at right).  In addition to blocking the view it is making as much noise as, well, a jet engine.  My seat does not recline of course, but the seat in front of me is broken and reclines too far, with the result that I have about six inches of arm room.  Seriously I cannot put my coke on the tray table the seat is reclined so far.  Using my laptop is fully out of the question and in fact there is barely room to type on my phone.  (Of course American doesn't have WiFi or power anyway.)  Did I mention they have no food?  Yeah, nothing.  Good thing I ate dinner in Chicago (forgettable steak).  Did I mention they have no wine aboard?  Yeah, only hard stuff (I had an unremarkable cab with dinner, but not nearly enough of it; vodka sounds tempting.)  There is turbulence, too much to sleep, and there is perfume from the rest room behind me.  Overall a "how did I get here" moment, not my best one :)

So that's all bad, but the ugly part was that the flight attendants were rude about it!  They were pretty much "hey it is what it is", no sorry, no gee we'll try to make it up to you, nothing.  So I spent four hours composing a blog post about how crappy American Airlines is in my head. 

And I will not fly American Airlines ever again.


Monday,  06/15/09  10:41 PM

Whew, I'm back.  L o n g  weekend.

Michael Schenker at the Canyon ClubI must tell you Michael Schenker [Friday night] was great, and furthermore the band which opened, Surfing with an Alien, was even greater; they were a Joe Satriani tribute band, and it was exactly like having Joe Satriani opening for Michael Schenker.  I slithered my way up to the stage like a splinter through the packed floor, and ended up ten feet away from the show, loving every minute.  I cannot tell you why I like rock guitar so much, but I do :)

Palm PreSo I've had my Palm Pre for nearly a week, and while I love everything about it I am concluding that either I have a defective unit, or the battery life is insufficient to support actual use.  I am literally carrying around my laptop as an external battery, because I'm getting about an hour of standby.  I know no device could have been designed with such a crappy battery life, so I'm holding out hope that it is a defective unit, but of course they're sold out and nobody has a replacement.  Sigh.  I like the WebOs and the keyboard and the applications and everything, but this is a show-stopper in the "so how did you like the show, Mrs. Lincoln" category.  Stay tuned for more...

Today Apple announced a new iPhone 3GS.  Looks really nice, an incremental improvement on an already great platform, but of course no keyboard.  Popular Science wonders if the Pre is better than the new iPhone, it is a nice analysis but the bottom line for me is that the Pre has a keyboard and the iPhone doesn't, end of story.

If you're interested in upgrading from an older iPhone to the new one, here's news you can use: how to make a profit upgrading to the iPhone 3GS.

Wired notes: Palm Pre scores a modest hit, despite problems.  Seems like the sales are limited by the inventory at this point, but in terms of problems and the launch itself, I'd agree.  The battery life seems to be the Achilles heel.

dual showerheadA key innovation: the dual showerhead.  Perhaps this is old hat to all of you, but it was brand new to me; the hotel I stayed at in Chicago featured them, and I loved it.  When it comes to showers more is more; and the more water the better.  I have to get one of those...

Kobe wins!Lakers Win!  Okay, we all knew they were going to win, but they did...  yay.  Congratulations to Phil Jackson who has now won 10 NBA titles, passing Red Auerbach, and to Kobe Bryant who has now won his fourth, and first "without Shaq", and who now belongs in the conversation with Michael Jordan and precious few others as one of the best players of all time.  And having said that, I must also say that these Lakers are a great team, without Fisher and Gasol and the rest Kobe sits next to LeBron, watching someone else in the finals :)

Interesting and unexpected: the Dow is back in the black for the year.  Bet you could win a few bar bets on that one.  So much for the federal stimulus money; it hasn't even made it out yet, let alone into the hands of consumers and businesses.  Anyway it is great that the stock market seems to have found a bottom.

Biden: everyone guessed wrong...Biden says: everyone guessed wrong.  Who you calling "everyone" there, Joe?  The weird thing is that he was making the point that the economy was worse than anyone thought, but meanwhile it seems to be recovering faster.  Clearly he is clueless, but then we already knew that.

So, should we be worrying about inflation?  YES.

Scoble: the day Twitter kicked CNN's behind.  So be it.  I got my Iran news from Scoble's blog :)

Escher lizard paving stonesThese are totally awesome: Escher lizard paving stones.  I don't have a place to put them in my house, but it is a solution looking for a problem, and I'm going to keep looking!

Tillerman ponders the next Laser killer.  There are a lot of great little boats being built but let's face it, at this point Lasers totally have a network effect.  Hundreds of thousands of them have been built and they can be found all over the world.  The quality of competition in the Laser class is second to none.  All of this has nothing to do with the qualities of the boat, just the qualities of the class.  I think the Laser is un-killable...

Wow, hard to believe: PETA pushes to halt Seattle fish-mongers from tossing fish.  "They argue that tourists would not be nearly so eager to snap photos if dead kittens or gutted lambs were sailing over their heads."  Huh?  I mean that's true, but what does that have to do with tossing fish?

I just got back from Chicago, where June has been the coldest on record.  Global Cooling!

ZooBorn: panther cub!Today's ZooBorn: a little Panther cub!


Wednesday,  06/17/09  11:45 PM

Whew - couple of super busy days of work.  Finally this afternoon I escaped (!) and had a nice ride, my "usual" Kessel run from Dana Point to Camp Pendleton and back (for the record, posted a new best time of 1:56 for a new best average of 20.4mph, despite being worn out).  Now I have to sleep, and tomorrow afternoon I'm driving up to Lake Huntington in the Sierra's to sail in a regatta with Megan! 

...but first, the Ole filter makes a pass...

change you can't believe in...James Surowiecki notes Change we can't believe in, an interesting look at currency as a commodity.  Apparently in Brazil at the moment change is at a premium, literally; people are actively optimizing for not using coins.

My pet peeve of the day: websites which open fixed-sized windows.  What!  This is 2009 people, we don't do fixed-size windows.  Either your web design works in all kinds of different windows - everything from smartphones to huge wide-screen monitors - or your web design is outdated...

Of possible interest: Software Engineering ≠ Computer Science.  This is absolutely true.  I remember telling a junior colleague once that writing compilers was the easiest possible programming task, because the inputs and outputs were perfectly defined, and there were relatively few human factors and no GUI.  He looked at me in astonishment :)

Venn diagram: work lifeThe Venn diagram of work lifePretty cool.

Not noted on the diagram: we spend 90% of our waking hours staring at glowing rectangles.  Wow, that would definitely describe me, I'm afraid.  Well maybe not 90%, my cycling sort of saves me, but still I do spend a lot of time at the computer.  What about you?  What are you doing right now?  :)

Top Gear thoroughly tests a Ford FiestaTop Gear "thoroughly tests" a Ford Fiesta.  Among the key questions answered: what if I'm asked to take part in a beach assault with the Royal Marines?  You must watch this :)  [ via Daring Fireball ]

So, have you tried Hunch yet?  It supposedly makes decisions for you, but in my admittedly non-rigorous experiments it either couldn't help me or made the obvious choice.  I think it is a dancing bear.

glowing jellyfishThe glowing jellyfish of the year.  Wow, amazingly beautiful.  (click to enbiggen and admire :)

ZooBorn: baby PangolinZooBorn of the day: a baby Pangolin.  (and yes, it is a mammal :)


gone sailing!

Thursday,  06/18/09  01:03 PM

Huntington Lake!I'm off!  Or should I say "we're off"; just about to drive up to Huntington Lake, at 7,000' in the Sierras, North-East of Fresno, to crew for Megan in the C-15 North American Championships.  Should be excellent!

A few quick notes on the way out...

I14 on Donner LakeParticularly apropos considering I'm sailing on a windy mountain lake this weekend, check out this picture of an International-14 on Donner Lake.  Wow.  You must click through to enlarge, what a great shot...

I had to switch from my Pre back to my Centro.  The battery life on the Pre was too horrible.  I need an actual phone for this weekend...  after my local Sprint store has more units in and can swap, I'll switch back.  I remain hopeful that my particular unit was defective and that they don't all have such horrible battery life.

RAAM 2009 route mapRAAM is under way!  A 3,000 mile cycle race from California to Maryland, wow.  I always think this is the weirdest thing, that RAAM doesn't get more press coverage.  It is an incredible event.  The route is a single stage, 35% longer than the Tour de France, and the athletes finish in 9 days instead of 23.  No stopping to sleep, eat, nothing.  On and on and on until you finish.  Wow.

ZooBorn: Tawny Frogmouth hatchling (aka fuzzball)Can you handle this ZooBorn?  It is a Tawny Frogmouth hatchling.  Personally I would say it is the living embodiment of "fuzzball" :)


A perfect Father's Day weekend

Sunday,  06/21/09  10:31 PM

Well we're back, and I must tell you Meg and I had the most excellent time!  She finished second in the B fleet, my little girl, the only female skipper and the only kid, and she handled the boat so well I was bursting with pride.  Yeah, we capsized twice (!), and yeah, we missed a couple of races while drying out (!), but overall she hung in there and did great, and it was a most excellent experience.  It couldn't have been a better Father's Day weekend; it's hard to believe this morning I was racing at Huntington Lake, and now here I am back home, celebrating Father's Day with Shirley and Alex and Jordan.

Me and Meg and our mighty steed
Me and Meg and our mighty steed...

Huntington Lake - one of the best places to race dinghies in the world
Huntington Lake, one of the best places to race dinghies in the world...

I’ve posted a couple of pics above (please click to enlarge) but there were lots of others taken on the water which I’ve seen but don’t have yet, stay tuned. As you can imagine the photo boats zeroed in on Meg, she was quite a story.


Monday,  06/22/09  10:11 PM

Huh, well I'm *back*; seems like with all the travel and everything, I've been gone forever; silly of course, but that's how it feels.  Best thing that happened today: got my hair cut.  I love that.  Worst thing: took a really slow sore ride around the lake.  Sailing appears to use different muscles from cycling :P

email spam!Email spam is a weird thing, isn't it?  We now take it for granted...  I get hundreds of spams each day, and I have filters which deal with them, and so be it.  But if you ever wanted to send me an electronic greeting card, forget it; it would not get through.  Strange that this problem which afflicts every single Internet user has gone un-addressed.  Seems like someone would have figure out a way around it by now.

What a concept!  LATimes suggests putting parents to work - caring for their own children.  This sounds like an Onion headline, but it's real.  Wow.

Sandcrawler on TatooineThis is way cool: The Architect's Journal selects the 10 coolest buildings from Star Wars.  They gave first place to the second Death Star, a worthy selection, but my personal favorite is the Sandcrawlers on Tatooine, from the first movie.  I so remember the way I felt when I first saw it on screen; awesome!

Excellent: Venture Capital Industry Moves Quickly To Jump-Start IPOs.  This is longer-term stuff, it won't help immediately, but innovation in the U.S. crucially depends on VC funding of new ideas, which in turn is driven by the potential of IPO exits.  Without an IPO market, VC money will dry up, and new ideas won't get funded... all of which is bad.  Still, you can't force a market.  The key is going to be investor confidence...

So, was 1959 the year everything changed?  Maybe.  I was born in 1958, that was a big change for me :)

This is probably going to make you tear up in that "feels good to feel bad way": 10-year-old Cancer Patient Gets Request Granted Before Death.  "Colby Curtain of Huntington, Calif., received a special visit from Disney-Pixar studios, which flew the animated movie, 'Up,' for her to see; just hours before her death.  It was her last request since her infirmity disallowed her from seeing it in a theater."  How excellent of Pixar.

medical imaging - saving reports: Study: Medical imaging increases U.S. life expectancy:  "Increased utilization of advanced medical imaging has improved the life expectancy of patients in the United States by nearly nine months, according to a study released this month from the National Bureau of Economic Research."  Wow, excellent.  And increased adoption of new modalities like digital pathology will increase life expectancy even more...

Slate: Step aside Windows, the browser is coming to save the day.  A conventional "web is taking over" analysis, but I liked this: "There are two kinds of Web surfers in the world.  Some prefer to open new pages as tabs within the same browser window.  Others open each Web page as a new window, accumulating lots of entries on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen.  On the face of it, this battle between Ctrl-T and Ctrl-N seems totally mundane.  A few years from now, however, I think we'll look back on the gradual drift to tabs as the browser's bid for emancipation."  Interesting.  I'm mostly in the Ctrl-N camp, unless I find myself on a small screen, and then I prefer Ctrl-T...

Barbie foosball table!Just in case you thought you've seen it all, here we have the Barbie Foosball table.  I am not making this up.

ZooBorn: baby skunksZooBorns of the day: baby skunks.  Proving that baby anythings are cute.


Tuesday,  06/23/09  11:19 PM

A productive day of work - dawn to dusk - and a nice hard ride, and a nice dinner with a friend - and yet I feel blah.  I think I am thinking too much.

Carlos Santana on guitar... makes me happyOne thing I think I know; music makes me happy.  I get in my car, I feel blah, I turn on some music, and poof! I feel less blah.  I get on my bike, I feel blah, I crank my iPod, no more blah.  Even now, blogging; feel blah?  Listen to music...  yes sir Mr. Santana, make that guitar cry...

Cirrus JetPhilip Greenspun discusses the new Cirrus Jet.  "This promises to be the least expensive of the very light jets, but for a lot of families possibly the most useful.  The plane holds two people in front and realistically should be flyable by one parent.  That leaves room for a second adult in the front, two sullen teenagers in the middle, and a parent with two younger kids in the back row of three seats (two of which are undersized)."  Yeah, a jet which is designed like... a car.

Tesla Model SElon Musk gives his version of Tesla's history.  It's amazing that Tesla are so transparent - about everything.  Perhaps that's one reason why the federal government are giving them $465M to help build their sedan.  A decent use of the stimulus money, it could be argued; a lot better use than "saving" General Motors...

While I'm waiting for a working Pre (you will remember my particular one doesn't charge correctly), a number of people have been reviewing them in detail: Steven Frank and ArsTechnica among them.  Both are good reviews if you want balanced detail.  Oh, and there's an update out, WebOS 1.0.3, but I don't think it will rehabilitate my phone.

John Gruber links John Dvorak in 2007: Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone.  That has to rank with the worst advice by any "analyst" ever, amid heavy competition.  Wow.

Round the Island Race, with 1,750 competitorsPicture of the day: this shot of the Round the Island Race, which had 1,750 competitors (the Island being the Isle of Wight).  How excellent.

Ball's Pyramid - rising 1,800' straight out of the oceanThis is just too cool: world's rarest insect found on rocky spire.  "The scientists found a colony of the huge Lord Howe Island stick insects living under a single bush, a hundred feet up the otherwise entirely infertile rock.  Somehow a few of the wingless insects escaped and managed--by means still unknown--to traverse 23 kilometers of open ocean, land on Ball's Pyramid, and survive there."  The spire itself is amazing - a rock which rises straight out of the ocean for 1,800'.  Looks like something from Myst!

iPhone wind meterProving that there is an iPhone app for everything, here we have the iPhone wind meter.  How does it work?  Using the microphone!  You point it into the wind and let it listen.  I doubt it is very accurate - in fact I suspect it is a total dancing bear - but it is ingenious...

Global Cooling news: polar bears are not dying out, and Arizona has longest stretch of days under 100 since 1913.

ZooBorn: baby dolphin!ZooBorn of the day: a little dolphin!  Which brings to mind this question: would you rather be a dolphin?  "Humans think they are smarter than dolphins because we build cars and buildings and start wars etc...and all that dolphins do is swim in the water, eat fish and play around.  Dolphins believe that they are smarter for exactly the same reasons."  - Douglas Adams.  I love it...


Bye, Farrah

Thursday,  06/25/09  09:10 PM

Farrah FawcettAnd so we lost Farrah Fawcett today, to cancer; she was 62.  I know the picture everyone remembers, the swimsuit pinnup, but this is the one I remember; it shows a beautiful girl, but also a fun girl, a friendly girl, a girl with personality and a bit of fire.  I had this very picture varnished onto the bottom of my own handmade wooden skateboard, circa 1974 (I would have been about 16).  So be it.  She will be missed... but I will always remember her like this.


Thursday,  06/25/09  09:27 PM

Hey everyone out there in blogoland...  how's it going?  Thanks for tuning in tonight; I've got kind of a nasty cold, and didn't ride, and I'm bummed about Farrah (and okay about Michael too), and worried about riding the Grand Tour Saturday with a cold.  Otherwise things are great; I can't complain, but sometimes I still do :)

I am aware of a disturbance in the force, somehow my posts are not syncing from my computer to my server, and so although I see them, and think they're "out there", you do not, and do not.  Compounding things I believe my dynamic DNS servers are intermittently down.  None of this is interesting to you, but I'm sorry if you can't see this!  Stay tuned...

[Update: I think I finally found and fixed the intermittent sync problem I've had.  Whew.  Stay tuned.]

John Hinderaker concludes Obamacare is disastrous in every way.  "The worst thing about socialized medicine isn't its ruinous cost, or the rationing of medicine, or the inevitable decline in quality.  It's the change it implies in the relationship between the individual and the state...  Congress is on the brink of making one of the worst mistakes in the history of the Republic."  Huh.  I thought it was bad, but I didn't think it was that bad, but now you've got me thinking...

Lance wins prologue TT in 1999 Tour de FranceWith the Tour de France a week away (yay!), Velonews helpfully published a video retrospective: Armstrong's first tour win, ten years later.  I wasn't a big cycling fan then, but I do remember Lance.  And the good news is this year Versus is broadcasting the entire tour in HD.  Wow, thirteen hours of coverage per day.  Get that Tivo ready!

image in a haystack - searching for video online is hardAn interesting article pointed out by my colleague Kathy: Image in a Haystack, about searching for video online.  Yeah, it is hard, and in fact searching for static images online is hard.  Unless either are indexed with text by humans they are pretty tough to find and classify.  This problem will be solved, but it hasn't been yet!

ZDNet: Blu-Ray buzzkill: the death spiral.  "Will consumers upgrade to Blu-ray?  The CEO & co-founder of fast growing Netflix believes mailed DVDs shall be replaced by web-sent movies.  And a recent Harris Poll finds that people today are less likely to buy a Blu-ray player than they were last year."  This is no surprise at all - physical media are dead.  In future you will have a box the size of a toaster which holds 10,000 movies.  The vPod.

Wow, this is bad: Rethinking the Kindle.  Did you know there's a limit on the number of times you can [re]download a book?  I didn't, and I bet you didn't either.  That's an amazing limitation, because it means although you've bought the book, if you don't keep it on your Kindle you'll lose it eventually.  And since your Kindle can only hold a finite number of books... wow.  I suspect this policy will change as it becomes more widely known.

the Tata Nano - $2,500 worth of disruptionElectric Daybook considers the Nano [car]: Shifting Gears.  "Go ahead and chuckle, sneer, and guffaw while pointing at the diminutive and ridiculously low-priced Nano automobile being made in India.  We can sit up high and superior in our massive SUVs... But the facts remain: Entrepreneurs in India, not America, designed a car that bested 700 entries to win the Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award in the 'Transportation' category."  This is a disruptive technology, clearly.  Watch out above!

Kodachrome! - we hardly knew ya...CNet: saying goodbye to Kodachrome.  Wow.  The end of an era, huh?  Check it out, there are some great photos in the collection...  that's my favorite, at left...

Ted Dziuba: Print isn't dying, serious journalism is.  "Print media isn't hurting because it's an outdated business model, print media is hurting because it's boring."  I think it's both actually, print is dying, along with serious journalism, and it's a chicken-and-egg problem to say which is causing which.

Sounds like an Onion headline but isn't of the day: Onion is an effective cancer cure.  Who knew?

But here's a real Onion story: 95% of Opinions Withheld on Visit to Family.  It may not be real, but man it rings true... 

I must tell you for me: 0% of Opinions Withheld on Blogging :)


Bye, Smokey

Friday,  06/26/09  07:21 PM

Smokey - RIPAnd so we lost our guinea pig Smokey this afternoon.  Poor thing.  He was only a little rodent, but, well, he was our little rodent, and now I won’t be able to watch baseball with him any more.  I'm going to miss his personality: a spunky little guy, always with something to say (yeah, guinea pigs chirp and click and squeak and purr and make all kinds of little noises).  He recognized me, knew when I was going to take him out and we were going to hang out together, and was great company.  He will be missed.  A very sad day.



Grand Tour Double

Sunday,  06/28/09  11:15 AM

Greetings... I'm a bit tired and more than a bit sore today, after having completed the Grand Tour Double yesterday.  It wasn't as tough as the Heartbreak, and wasn't nearly as tough as the Eastern Sierra (for one thing, it didn't snow :) but there's no such thing as an easy double, and with 8,500' of climbing, this one was not easy.  Compounding the difficulty, I was tired (once again, failed to get enough sleep the night before) and sad (still carrying the loss of Smokey) and just I don't know blah.  But I did it - yay, me! - and I have the pictures to prove it:

There were a few high points, first, since this ride goes right by my house, I was able to do a pit stop mid-race and say "hi" to Shirley and the dogs, and I pretty much knew every inch of every road.  I flatted twice so I was able to perfect my fast-tube-change technique.  And I was so sore that I spent the second half of the ride out of the saddle most of the time, so I got some great exercise (how many times are your arms more sore from a ride than your legs?)

the route - Malibu / Port Hueneme / Thousand Oaks / Simi Valley / Moorpark / Santa Paula /
Ojai / Carpinteria / Ventura / Port Hueneme / Malibu - a grand tour indeed

early morning fog shrouds Mugu rock

always photogenic Grimes Canyon

Lake Casitas

this got a smile out of me at 135 miles

an impromptu jazz band added to the flavor of the post-ride chili :)

Next up - the Death Ride (dum dum dum) - on July 11 (yikes, that's in two weeks)...




Oops, I'm doing it again

Sunday,  06/28/09  06:47 PM

the 508!Remember last year, I was going to ride in this incredible ultra-century, the Furnace Creek 508?  Yep that's 508 miles, starting in Valencia, going up through Death Valley, and then looping back through the desert to end in 29 Palms... all within 48 hours.  I had done a comprehensive recon and everything... but then a couple of weeks before I got really sick and couldn't ride.

Well, I'm going to try again.

I just submitted my entry, mark your calendar, it's October 3-5.  I'm excited and scared.  Stay tuned for more...


Sunday,  06/28/09  10:24 PM

Well today I did ... nothing.  Very little, anyway; nothing worth reporting.  The high point was sitting by the pool, drinking Cuco, and finishing Spook Country (I have become quite the William Gibson fan).  I am still sore and tired from yesterday, and it was good to stay away from the computer, too... well except for editing pictures and blogging I guess.  Speaking of which, it is all happening...

According to Auren Hoffman, engineers are the best deal, so stock up on them!  Apparently software engineering techniques have allowed software engineers to become twice as productive as ten years ago.  I still don't understand why that would lead you to want as many as you could get.  Seems like that means you only need half as many?  You read the article and see if you can follow the logic :)

SR71 blackbird - most remarkable plane of the 20th centuryJason Kottke links an appreciation of the SR-71 Blackbird, the most remarkable plane of the 20th century.  Really when you consider it first flew in 1964, it seems unbelievable.

twitter = ICQHere's an interesting article which asks is Twitter is a fad?  I wouldn't go that far, but it did cause me to remember another phenomenon like Twitter... do you remember ICQ?  Back in 1997 it was the biggest thing since sliced bread - peer-to-peer communications, between people!  Everyone had to have an ICQ account, the number of downloads per day was breathlessly reported, and we even had celebrity adoption of ICQ in the news.  AOL bought ICQ in 1998 for $280M, at that time a massive amount for a company with no source of income.  (I know what you're thinking, who would pay that much for a company with no income even now, but check out the Google acquisition of YouTube :)  ICQ still exists today, but it is barely a footnote in Internet life.  That's my prediction for the trajectory which Twitter will follow - they'll be bought for a huge amount, adoption will plateau, monitization will corrupt the user experience, and it will fade into a footnote.  We'll see...

MLB camera angle - off center vs centerA fascinating observation: Major League Baseball uses an outdated camera angle from centerfield.  (Basically for historical reasons, the camera is off center, distorting the angles of the pitch crossing the plate.)  When you see the comparisons, you realize there really is no comparison.  Dead center makes a huge difference.

Approaching Jupiter!Cool picture of the day: approaching Jupiter.  Please click through and watch, you will not be sorry.  I only hope someday I'll see it on the main screen of a spaceship control deck :)

Awesome news: the Palm Pre's WebOS SDK has been "leaked" into the Internet.  Known as Mojo, this enables developers to use proprietary interfaces to the WebOS API from within JavaScript.  I can't wait to play with it...

I'll just say parenthetically, I wonder to what extent this was unplanned.  Seems like by leaking the API Palm can get more apps developed and have an extended beta period, and if anything goes wrong they can claim they weren't ready...

maxi-trimaran Banque Populaire arrives in New YorkCheck this out: maxi-trimaran Banque Populaire arrives in New York.  Awesome.  They're trying for a new North Atlantic crossing record.

ZooBorn: Sea Lion pupZooBorn of the day: a Sea Lion pup.  Awww...


Father's Day (in pictures)

Monday,  06/29/09  10:37 PM

You will remember I had a most wonderful Father's Day weekend crewing for Meg in the C-15 North American Championship, at Lake Huntington in the Sierras?  Well yesterday I received a DVD with a ton of great pictures taken on the water, and some of them are amazing.  I've posted a smattering on Facebook in case you're interested, and am in the process of editing and posting the rest...

bullet start!
bullet start!

cranking to weather
cranking to weather

bearing off for the mark
bearing off for the mark

planing on a dead run
planing on a dead run

As much fun as it was sailing, and as proud as I was of Meg at the time, it will now last forever captured in these pictures.  A perfect Father's Day weekend :)


Monday,  06/29/09  11:10 PM

... and so I am somewhat back to normal, somewhat recovered from my long ride Saturday and from losing Smokey Friday, and somewhat caught up from a busy week during which I fell behinder* each day.  Was actually able to do some coding (in both English and C++).  Edited and posted some pictures.  And blogged...

* yes of course behinder is a real word

... which is something my friend Robert Scoble is back to doing (yay) after having shifted most of his communication to Twitter and Friendfeed (and apparently after having lost 50% of his traffic, wow).  Welcome back, Robert.

Oh and I have to agree with this post about Facebook, in which he wonders why they're trying to be like Twitter and Friendfeed.  I don't know either, seems like Facebook will be around long after Twitter is a footnote.

This is a really good thing: The Supreme Court has ruled that white firefighters in New Haven were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.  This is great news because any decisions based on race are racist.  Minorities benefit from this too because if promotions are made purely on merit, there won't be any hint that they weren't really qualified when they are promoted.  I really hope Sotomayor is not confirmed, although that seems unlikely.  It isn't that she's liberal, it's that she's activist.

Denis Menchov on the TT bikeAre you ready?  Tivo checked out, schedules arranged?  Yes that's right the Tour de France starts next Saturday.  Woo hoo!  Stay tuned for pixel-to-pixel coverage.  In case you haven't figured it out from the pic at left, I'm rooting for Denis Menchov, since it's unlikely Levi will be allowed to go for the win.  Menchov just won the Giro in fine form. Go Rabobank!

Quantum HoopsThe other day I mentioned Quantum Hoops, a great documentary about the Caltech basketball team, which hadn't won a league game for over twenty-one years.  So I bought the DVD, and last night I watched it.  Great stuff, especially if you're a Caltech alum, they have the whole backstory, the history of the school, historical figures who achieved great things (while floundering at basketball), etc.  Oh and the basketball is pretty cool too :)

This is excellent: Malcom Gladwell reviews Chris Anderson's Free.  I love this excerpt: "YouTube is a great example of Free, except that Free technology ends up not being Free because of the way consumers respond to Free, fatally compromising YouTube’s ability to make money around Free, and forcing it to retreat from the 'abundance thinking' that lies at the heart of Free.  Credit Suisse estimates that YouTube will lose close to half a billion dollars this year.  If it were a bank, it would be eligible for TARP funds."  Not all free things can make money :)

Since it is a Free Internet, Chris Anderson responds:  Dear Malcolm: Why so threatened?

If you want to invest in Free, Fox has a story about how to invest in Facebook and Twitter before they go public.  Apparently a lot of their own employees are doing this, rather than wait for liquidity.  Interesting.

Oh and speaking of Free, Mark Cantor has plain advice for the Plain Dealer.  "The point is that it’s NOT about changing the copyright laws and asking for special treatment.  If the Plain Dealer can’t sustain itself, it’ll go the same route as the auto industry, the housing market and oh yah - the world of investment banking."  Hits the nail on the head, IMHO...

And we have another roller: LogMeIn IPO 'should blow the socks off people'.  Let's hope so, the IPO market needs more players (and more successes)...

Here's a pretty interesting new company: Aardvark.  The NYTimes reports all your friends are now in the answer business.  Basically it is an automated way to ask your friends and your friends-of-friends for advice.  This actually seems like it will work.  Huh...

Java loading logoOf all the lame attempts to wedge branding in where it makes no sense, my vote goes to Sun's Java.  You load a web page, it happens to contain a Java application, and ... what's this?  Some weird spinning logo thing - what's Java? - and why is this taking so long? - and what's Java anyway?  Nobody can understand this.  Explain it to me, please...

So I was wrong to think I was wrong about the Kindle.  I'd thought there's a limit on the number of times you can [re]download a book, but that's wrong; the limit is on simultaneous devices.  Okay, that makes sense.  Whew.  [ thanks Gary for straightening me out :]

ZooBorn: A Lynx kittenZooBorn of the day: a Lynx kitten.  Adorable!


Hi, Bo

Tuesday,  06/30/09  10:08 PM

Today we adopted a new baby guinea pig, please say hello to Bo:

hi, Bo!

Man, there is nothing cuter than a baby guinea pig.

He is quite cuddly and [of course] a little scared in his new surroundings which include two very interested dogs (what's that?) and a very interested cat (it's dinner!).  We are attempting to communicate and so far he seems to appreciate the attention.  I look forward to watching sports with him, the Tour de France is coming up of course, and then it is baseball season.  We'll see if Bo knows baseball :)


Tuesday,  06/30/09  10:28 PM

Quarter end!  Gak, already!!  I had the most delightful day today, it began with the fact that I didn't go down to Vista, slept in and had a nice commute downstairs to work.  Then I was able to do some actual programming, which is always a treat, while watching a steady stream of new order bulletins flowing through my inbox (yay sales team).  Later I did a great Rock Store / Encinal Canyon ride with the CVC Red Group; they are fast and just keeping up with them in the flats is a challenge.  And finally we adopted Bo, our new little guinea pig.  I could go for Groundhog Day on this one.

So let's make a filter pass, shall we?

share the road!Absolutely the saddest story: Father and Son Grand Tour Dream ends with tragedy.  A father and son riding in the same Grand Tour I rode last Saturday, hit by a drunk driver on PCH.  The father was killed, the 14-year old son hospitalized with multiple broken bones and no father.  That could have been me.  It could have been anyone.  Just horrible...

Thar be pirates over yonder...No idea what to make of this: Swedish software firm acquires the Pirate Bay.  This feels like Napster going legit all over again.  Business model, anyone?  Cory Doctorow is confused too.  Anyway it will be interesting to watch, in all senses...

Remember I commented on Alaska Airlines' "north of expected" motto?  I flew Alaska and their service was indeed unexpectedly good, and significantly improved from my previous experience.  Turns out JDPower just found Alaska was airline flyers' favorite airline.  Wow.  Shows the power of a motto...

An interview with Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital:

Q: Opentable is one of the first 'silicon valley' initial public offerings (IPO) since the economic downturn.  Why do you think the company was able to get public and was received so well?

A: I actually believe that the buy-side has ample demand for IPOs. The key problem is a supply problem – most companies either don’t want to be public or aren’t willing to make the tough choices it takes to get public (healthy margins, sarbox implementation, etc).

Huh, interesting...  Bill is one of the most astute VCs out there (and before that he was one of the most astute analysts).

amazing papercraft castleCheck this out - an unbelievably awesome papercraft castle.  As you look at these pictures remind yourself that everything is made of paper.  Wow.  Some people clearly have too much time on their hands, and I'm glad they do!  [ via Boing Boing ]

Well this is good news: LiveScience reports Getting old is better than expected.  "Good memory, good health, good sex. It's enough to make the grandkids cringe!"  Of course my expectations for getting old are pretty low...

Now serving... Firefox 3.5Firefox 3.5 was released today, and apparently set all kinds of download records.  At this point they've served over three million downloads and at one point were averaging about 100 per second.  I don't know what's more impressive, that the servers stayed up or that their monitoring application :)

So what, right?  Well, it you're already a Firefox user, 3.5 is going to be faster, and perhaps enable compatibility with a few new websites.  And if you're not, this is your perfect chance to switch to a browser which is faster and more secure and supports extensions - like Adblock...

ZooBorns: baby otters!Finally our ZooBorns of the day: baby Otters!

(Almost as cute as Bo.  Almost.)


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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