Archive: September 2009'

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Tuesday,  09/01/09  09:20 PM

And so it is September... already!  Soon it will be Fall, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and then 2010.  Where did this year go?  Man, I guess it seems like a lot has happened, but it also feels like this year fairly flew by...  cannot believe it.  And yet, and yet; I have blogged more this year than any since I started in 2003, and it has created an incredible record of all these amazing things that happened.  Cool.  I guess we'll see what September brings...  kids are back in school, football is back on TV, and at Aperio we're making a push for a great Q3 and preparing for the Pathology Visions conference, one of the highlights of our year.

I have to agree with Dick Cheney on this one: "We had a track record of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from Al Qaeda.  The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, how did you do it?"  Yeah, but... 

I won't do much news-blogging here, but the fires surrounding L.A. are pretty horrible.  The Station Fire is the worst, and seems to be getting worse :(  Whenever we have these fires, I have to say I am so grateful to the firefighters; we are fortunate there are people who are willing to do those risky jobs. 

One of the weapons used by the firefighters is this supertanker 747, which can drop 20,000 gallons of fire retardant chemicals in one shot.  Excellent...

But even more excellent is this Martin Mars, a WWII-vintage flying boat converted into a tanker which can scoop up and deliver 7,000 gallons of water at a time. How cool is that?

Apple are planning one of their famous "events" on 09/09/09: It's only rock and roll (but we like it).  Fueling speculation about what will they announce.  Not their oft-rumored tablet, surely, not with that tagline...  actually the big rumor is that Steve Jobs himself will preside! 

This is really cool: the New Yorker's music critic Alex Ross considers Imaginary Concerts.  "Some authors have accomplished the rare feat of inventing musical works that seem nearly as real as those we have heard."  And so now we have to ask, what makes them beautiful?  It can't be anything happening at the ear level, since this music doesn't even exist.  Somewhere in your brain you can synthesize the same sort of signal stream that results from sensory input.  I'm listening to Metallica's Enter Sandman just now...  in my head. 

So, is the Hyundai Equus a genuine Lexus competitor?  I don't know about that... it might be a fine car and seems to be not-hideous-looking, but the branding isn't there for Hyundai.  Very hard to live that "low-end" reputation down.  Although I guess it is worth noting, Toyota had it at one time, and they've successfully gotten rid of it... 

Here's the real competition, the Tesla Model S.  Beautiful and all-electric, and coming in for about the same price as the Equus.  Or so they say... 

The New Yorker has a fascinating article about Elon Musk, Tesla's co-founder and CEO, and the quest to make a business out of selling electric cars.  They really seem to have a chance. 

Boing Boing: Why the Space Shuttle should always take off at night.  It's those beautiful pictures, stunning, as the Discovery blasts off into space... 

...but SpaceX has won a contract to resupply the ISS, replacing space shuttles for that purpose.  Congratulations to them, and to us taxpayers, that will save a ton of money.

An interesting concept: things that are better than a New York City hot dog.  I could think of a few, starting with an L.A. City hot dog :)  Actually it is a good list; I particularly like "Prince Edward Island", for sheer randomness. 

Woman fired for using upper-case only in email.  AS SHE SHOULD BE. 

Dave Zabriske wins U.S. Pro Time Trial championshipCongratulations to George Hincapie, who won the U.S. Pro Road Racing championship (his third), and Dave Zabriske, who won the U.S. Time Trial Racing championship (his fourth).  They will represent us well as they wear the stars and stripes next year! 

The ZooBorn of the day: An adorable newborn Zebra
Looks a little like George and Dave, doesn't it :)


televisions everywhere (and it sucks!)

Tuesday,  09/01/09  10:19 PM

Have you noticed, as I have, that TVs are sprouting up everywhere?  I guess you could hardly miss it, but what a horrible trend.  Just as everyone is bemoaning the death of mainstream media and how there's 600 channels and nothing on, we are slowly but surely turning into Brazil (the movie, not the country).

I've noticed this for a while now - flatscreen technology has made it easy to stick TVs everywhere, and somehow because something is possible it is considered desirable.  I hated it when airports filled up with CNN (still do).  I hated it when restaurants filled up with sports (still do).  Note: restaurants, not sports bars, we must keep the distinction clear, although what with TVs everywhere, soon there won't be a distinction.

The other day I found TVs in my supermarket.  Time to change markets, but it won't help; soon every market will have them.  The other day I found TVs next to my gas station's pumps.  Time to change gas stations, but it won't help; soon every gas station will have them.  The other day I found TVs in my favorite breakfast dive, the Denny's in San Juan Capistrano.  Time to change places to eat breakfast, but it won't help; soon every breakfast place will have them.

The worst part of this trend is when the sound is on.  There's a little boutique hotel in Carlsbad called the West Inn, I stay there often, it's a nice place.  But in the breakfast room they have not one not two but three TVs, each tuned to a different channel, with the sound on!  And not a remote control to be found.  How anyone can eat breakfast with CNN, a reality show, and kids cartoons blaring at you is beyond me.  I shall no longer eat breakfast there, even though it's good and included with the room; it is a lousy way to start the day.

There's a TV in my company's lunchroom, always on, usually surrounded by people watching.  The new opiate of the masses, to be sure.  Anyway I hate this trend, I hate it.  I hate it a lot.  It's enough to make me carry one of those remote controls that turn off every TV.  Which will probably not work, just make me unpopular.  I must tell you, I regard this as a leading indicator of Unnatural Selection...


Oceanside sunset

Wednesday,  09/02/09  10:04 PM

So tonight I took a little ride from Carlsbad up the coast to Oceanside Harbor, and I got there just in time for an amazing sunset...

the harbor, beautiful in the low angle light

the sun sets over the pier, framed by palm trees

You get on your bike, you never know what you'll see...


Thursday,  09/03/09  09:17 PM

I continue to be frazzled; busy days and long days, my earlier proclamations about not drowning and surfacing and keeping my head above water were reckless precelebration.  When you have too much on your plate, eating as fast as you can is not the answer; the only solution is to give food away or trash it.

Anyway, you don't care about that, you care about this...

(Oh, and thank you for your emails agreeing with my Televisions Everywhere post.  You hate them too; the audience for my blog is definitely not the target demographic for all those TVs...)

Something to bring a smile to your face; the landing at the lake, filled with kids in sabots.  Took this picture while riding around the lake, something I don't do often enough anymore.  I tell myself that I'm too busy, but that's a lie; I feel too busy, but I know I'm not; time spent riding is virtually free.  A bad spin cycle. 

I sometimes save old posts in my RSS reader, just because I like them.  I've saved Summer all summer.  Can't delete it yet.  Maybe in October :) 

Here's the perfect solution to reducing the cost of space travel: Send astronauts on a one-way trip to Mars.  It's genius when you think about it.  Not only do you save the cost of the return trip, but not having to carry the fuel etc. for the return trip saves cost on the outbound trip, too.  Sure, there will be fewer who will be interested, but there will be some who will, and that's all you need.  Personally I would be willing to make a one-way trip to Titan... 

Not really news: Men lose their minds speaking to pretty women.  That pretty much explains my married life :) 

Here's some important news you might have missed: IKEA have switched their default font from Futura to Verdana.  Seems Futura is designed for print, while Verdana is designed for online presentation; using either for both is a design faux pas.  Clearly the precursor to a relentless dive to the bottom, in which they sacrifice quality and design for price.  What cracks me up about this debate is that we're talking about IKEA here...  [ via Daring Fireball, who is not amused :] 

Dave Winer loves his Sony Walkman.  And wants you to know why it is better than his iPod.  "The Walkman has lots of nice features, but it's nicest feature is that it's really simple.That is the buzz. 

Wired Autopia lives the wet dream at the wheel of an Aston Marton One-77.  They are pretty cool, but I don't think they're that cool; somehow exclusive is good, really exclusive is better, but unknowably exclusive is ... worse.  I tried this idea out on Shirley, the closest thing we could think of to cars for me was shoes for her, and she said "as long as I liked them, it wouldn't matter".  Huh.  I must admit, that engine is nice :) 

Here we have some Delightful Crosswalk Sign Alterations.  I love the one labeled "reboot universe".  Too bad most crosswalk buttons are placebos...



stop asking (New Yorker, 08/10/09)

Thursday,  09/03/09  10:44 PM

gets back to the nature of why


JPL or Mordor?

Thursday,  09/03/09  10:53 PM

My colleague's brother works at JPL in Pasadena;
with the Station Fire on the hills behind the complex, it looks like Mordor



Saturday morning post

Saturday,  09/05/09  10:30 AM

I am back in the blogitorium, and I am NOT riding in the Son of Death Ride.  I am somewhat feeling guilty, but then again, not; was out last night with friends, dinner at their beachhouse, and the thought of getting up at 2:00am for a brutal ride was unappealing.  And I have stuff to do - like blogging! - and relaxing, and hanging out, and enjoying what looks to be a perfectly beautiful day...

Ann Althouse considers the fact that the news anchors on two out of the big three networks are women: "I think it means that the network news isn't important anymore. That women do something signifies that it isn't considered important."  I don't know about the general point - maybe it is well taken - but it is certainly true that network "news" isn't considered important. 

Maximum congratulations to l'Equipe l’Hydroptère, the French team with the amazing foiling trimaran, which have set new world records for 500m (51.36 knots!) and 1000m (48.72 knots).  Wow.  Check it; this boat goes over 60mph over the open ocean, powered solely by wind.  How cool is that? 

TechRadar: Nice shoes, where did you download them?  "3D printers combine, in all the best ways, the worlds of industrial manufacturing machines with that of the traditional desktop printer.  They might not be whirring away in the home office just yet, but the technology is far from science fiction and it's maturing fast."  It might be a while before you can make shoes - the materials problems are daunting - but for many objects it is going to be possible very soon.  I can't wait :) 

This is seriously cool: a hyperbolic graph tree control, implemented in JavaScript.  I wish I had a use for it, definitely a solution looking for a problem. 

Just finished Alex Wellen's Lovesick.  Highly recommended, an interesting plot about everyday people.  Makes you feel good about life. 

Shirley is reading My Life in France, about Julia Child, and enjoying it; she reports Julia used to use Brussels Sprouts to play with her cat, Mini.  This must be the best use of Brussels Sprouts ever found; Julia Child was truly a genius :) 

From an Allstate ad; the scariest road sign of them all.  I think they have it backward; the minimum drinking age should be 16, but the minimum driving age should be 21... 

Congrats to Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss time machine, who blasted to victory in the Vuelta's 7th stage, a 30km time trial.  It is increasingly amazing to me that Albert Contador was able to beat Cancellara in the Tour de France ITT, I don't think he gets enough credit for that...  tomorrow the Vuelta starts in earnest with the first mountain stage; eight categorized climbs, including a finish at the top of a 21km HC... 

Interesting: Loopt uses a server-to-server mechanism from AT&T's network to provide location-based social networking on the iPhone.  A lame and complicated alternative to background processing on the 'phone, but since the iPhone doesn't have background processing... 

Tim Cox: please don't put your iPhone in a case.  I so agree with this...  there is no case where the case looks better than the original device.  It is exactly like covering your couch with plastic. 

ZooBorns of the day: Mongoose pups


the oriental doghouse

Saturday,  09/05/09  10:10 PM

Today Megan and I made a doghouse.  Not just any doghouse, but an oriental doghouse, a rather cool one if I may observe, out of scrap wood and cardboard and popsicle sticks, for our two little Shih-Tzus.

Megan shows the doghouse to Bijou and Maxie

princess Bijou approves

We are quite pleased with ourselves.  A most excellent use of three hours :)


one face plant short of wisdom

Sunday,  09/06/09  11:55 PM

Tonight I attended "one face plant short of wisdom", a performance art show by my friend Mark, given at the Orange County Mensa Society's annual convention (!)  It was, well, incredible; probably the most ambitious talk I've ever seen, an attempt to combine wry wisdom with philosophy with physics with a theory of self, threaded with a mountain climbing theme, bookended by a pair of skits in which Mark is given a choice (and makes it both ways), and interspersed with snippets of his life superimposed over a series of movies.  If that sounds impossible, well, it was.  Which is what made it so incredible :)

space cadet, ready for blastoff

choose wisely
or you will become the singularity

taking the red pill
on the path to enlightenment

the difference between heaven and hell
trajectories through spacetime

wisdom achieved

sorting it out in the bar, afterward
did that really happen, or did we just think it did

As enjoyable as it was to watch the show, it was even better seeing a bunch of old friends also on hand to witness the event.  And better yet sitting around in the bar afterward as we tried to make sense of it all (!)  We were collectively on the path to wisdom, but still perhaps one face plant short...


memorable day

Monday,  09/07/09  05:33 PM

A memorable day this Memorial Day, in which I celebrated our freedom and liberty by choosing to crew for Meg in a Regatta on Westlake, and we won all three races by miles.  Megan is getting very fast.

I do want to say - as always - that I am so thankful for all the men and women in our armed forces who have given their lives so that we can enjoy ours.  My daughter Nicole is no longer in the Navy (honorably discharged after seven years' service!) but thinking about her still brings it home, how proud I am and happy that we have people who are willing to defend us and protect our way of life.  (I am not going to add, let's hope President Obama doesn't screw it all up, although I'm strongly tempted.)

Meanwhile I have a busy week ahead and am [somewhat] trying to get ready for it - ha! - by relaxing and hanging out.  I think I spent more time doing less this three-day weekend than any time since I can remember, and I'm happier for it.

So, onward, the Ole filter makes a pass...

MSNBC celebrates the month in space.  Awesome pictures, every one.  You will not be surprised that I chose the one at left as my favorite, a temperature map of Saturn flanked by Titan (the dot in the lower middle).  Check 'em out! 

I'm liking IPO Dashboards, a new blog about, well IPO Dashboards, analyzing the companies who could and have gone public.  An interesting and timely subject :)  It is clear that when a company can go public depends more on the market than on the companies maturity.  [ thanks Gary ] 

I'm a day behind watching Vuelta stages, but let me congratulate Damiano Cunigo for attacking on the final climb and winning stage 8 up to Alto de Aitana.  The first real climbing stage left Cadel Evans in the Mallot Oro, with Alejandro Valverde 2 seconds back.  The other GC contenders include Robert Gesink (go Rabobank!), Ivan Basso, and Tom Danielson, doing really well for Garmin. 

From TTAC, the quote of the day: "If all the cars in the U.S. were placed end-to-end, it would probably be Labor Day."  Fortunately we were able to stay off the road parking lot. 

Here we have a ginormous pink handknit pink bunny, lying in the Alps.  What can I say about this? 

So have you noticed that a lot of tech workers start their sentences with so

ZooBorn of the weekend: a snow leopard cub


required texts (New Yorker, 09/07/09)

Monday,  09/07/09  06:25 PM

"required texts"

Interestingly, the New Yorker seems to have stopped honoring 9/11 in their cover stories.
One is tempted to hope time heals all wounds, and also there's been a change in the liberal storyline.


l'Hydroptère flys!

Monday,  09/07/09  09:40 PM

Saturday I noted that foiling trimaran l'Hydroptère set new world records for 500m and 1,000m, exceeding 50 knots.  Wow.  Here's a video of the record run, well worth watching for sheer coolness.  I cannot stop watching it.

Some notes to add on this amazing vessel:

  • It is a real boat, on real water.  It can go any point of sail, and seems to be able to handle fairly rough open water in the ocean.  Sometimes one-shot speedboats built for setting record only go on one tack and only in flat water.
  • The rig is pretty "normal".  Sure they're flat carbon fiber sails, but the setup is a basic sloop, nothing weird going on at all.  Sometimes people think to go 50+ knots you need hard wings or something.
  • The design of the hydrofoils is really clever, because they counteract heel as well as lifting the boat out of the water and reducing drag.  As the boat heels, the lee foil become more horizontal, generating more lift, and the weather foil becomes more vertical, generating less.  The resulting forces balance the heel.  As a result you see the boat powering along staying flat, despite gusts of wind in the 20-30 knot range, and an apparent wind of over 60 knots.
  • The design of the rudder is really cool, it has to act as a lifting foil as well as steering device.  You can see it clearly in this picture of the triamaran, after it turtled going 60+ knots!

Perhaps we could say that for this design, the sky's the limit :)


Happy ninesday!

Wednesday,  09/09/09  09:09 PM

I hope you were dressed to the nines today, as I was,
and had a day which was a nine on the scale, which mine was also.

This was the perfect way to tell time today :)


Kessel Run sky view

Thursday,  09/10/09  10:55 PM

Made a great Kessel Run* tonight, warm and breezy, with an amazing sky.
Rediscovered Dire Straights ... Telegraph Road ...

The reactors at San Onofre silhouetted against the multicolored cloudbank.

Yes it was that beautiful.  Thank you.

*Dana Point Harbor to Camp Pendleton's Las Pulgas gate, and back.


Thursday,  09/10/09  11:10 PM

Now I lay me down to sleep... exit light, enter night.  But first blogging!

Ann Althouse takes a cold look at the text of Obama's speech.  "What if companies go out of business when you deprive them of the ways they've come up with to be profitable?  I'm afraid making the insurance business unprofitable is completely acceptable to you, because you don't mind if in the end government takes over everything."  A pretty good fisking, from an Obama supporter

The Universe, in high definition!  As the Hubble's new Wide Field Camera is put through its paces.  Wow. 

Wave of the day: psycho-slab.  Whoa. 

It's a smartphone world: Like you, I get an email from Amazon periodically with their "top 10 deals in electronics".  Interestingly many of the products on offer are already obsolete because of smartphones!  The Garmin GPS?  Replaced by smartphones!  Flip video camera?  Ditto!  Samsung DVD burner?  Um, what was a DVD, again?  Nikon coolpix camera?  Smartphone again!  Digital photo frame?  Cute, but really you can keep all your pictures on your phone...  I will say that HDTVs have not been replaced by smartphones, yet... (but wait until we have embedded projectors!) 

Speaking of smartphones, the Palm Pre has a little sister, the Pixi.  It is teeny, has a real keyboard, and runs the WebOS.  I like it

The coolest supercar you've never heard of...  Spyker Spyder of course, and yes of course I have heard of it.  Dutch of course! 

Twitter and the revenue dilemma.  The argument being, once you have revenue, you are valued based on revenue, before that you are valued based on potential.  (Next we'll have Twitter and the profit dilemma, they should be so lucky :)  This is so fascinating to me.  I cannot remember any company which was getting so much business model help :) 

Congratulations to Tyler Farrar on winning Vuelta stage 11, his first win in a grand tour.  Of many more in the future, we can be sure; he is a very promising young rider.  As well as [seemingly] a really nice guy.  This was a much needed win for Garmin, too, they have been so close so many times this year. 

Berci Mesko embeds this great slideshow on Social Media, the umbrella term for all the new consumer Web 2.0 services.  While I like this presentation, I must say that grouping Facebook with MySpace with Twitter and trying to make common observations about them is pretty tough. 

Jeff Atwood with Nine ways marketing weasels try to manipulate you.  A pretty amazing list, really.  Consider #1: Encourage False Comparisons: "When Williams-Sonoma introduced bread machines, sales were slow. When they added a 'deluxe' version that was 50% more expensive, they started flying off the shelves; the first bread machine now appeared to be a bargain."  Huh. 

Here we have Glass sculptures of viruses and bacteria.  Wow, beautiful!  The one at right is swine flu...



Never forget

Friday,  09/11/09  08:46 AM

never forget

at 8:46 on 9/11/01, exactly eight years ago, I remember
I was in the bathroom getting ready for work and Shirley yelled through the door
"the news is not good, they're flying airplanes into buildings"

where were you?  I'm going to guess you have not forgotten


the inverted pyramid for video

Friday,  09/11/09  10:11 PM

Do you ever watch videos?  You know the random YouTube -type stuff?  Yeah, me neither.  And do you know why?  Because videographers have not mastered the inverted pyramid.

When I was in high school I took journalism, and worked on the school paper, and it was pounded into your head from day one that newspaper stories had to grab the reader from the first line and had to be organized as an inverted pyramid, with the most important best stuff up front.

This was a good rule because people start reading at the start, and they read until they get bored, and then they stop.  That's just how it works.  You don't hook 'em, they're gone.

So the same is true with video.  People start watching at the start, and they watch until they get bored, and then they stop.  It isn't like a movie, where you have a captive audience for an hour, or even like a TV show.  You have zero time to get your audience's attention and hold it.

I find most YouTube -type video is organized like a mini movie.  No good.  Grab me immediately on startup, or I'm gone.  A great example is the video I posted of l'Hydroptère the other day.  From the first second, it grabs your attention; no titles no setup no nothing, off we go, with the boat sailing full blast at 50 knots.  I have been looking for a cool video of Moths sailing, and they are all badly broken.  They start with music, they start with titles, they start with someone talking.  Bsssst!  I am gone and all the great content further down in the video remains unwatched.


into the spin cycle

Saturday,  09/12/09  09:21 PM

I am heading into the spin cycle, blogging turbulence ahead...  tomorrow I am off to the Pathology Visions conference, which used to be Aperio's annual user group meeting, but which has morphed into an industry conference, sponsored by the newly formed Digital Pathology Association.  Either way it will be several days consecutively of dawn-to-dusk-to-last-night breakfast meetings, customer meetings, lunch meetings, partner meetings, dinner meetings, and colleague hanging-out, all compressed into a few days.  I cannot expect to even read blogs posts let alone compose them.  But stay tuned for a report on the other side...

...and meanwhile, the Ole filter makes a pass...

Congressman Mike Pence: "You look like the cavalry to me".  Me, too. 

When Steve Jobs returned to the stage to host Apple's latest product announcements last week, he looked thin.  Hey, the guy has been really sick, okay?  He had a liver transplant.  But the WSJ  distastefully posted an add with a skeleton alongside a picture of Jobs presenting.  Ha ha.  The WSJ deviated from its usually classyness here, and it didn't work. 

Philip Greenspun wonders: How come iTunes sales haven't hit a wall?  A good question without a good answer. 

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  The ancient philosophers could never decide.  And now we have the enigma which is Twitter, as the punits analyze why Facebook will never be Twitter.  There is a fundamental difference, of course; Facebook is you and your friends, in detail, Twitter is you and everyone, in sparse summary.  You know where I think the value lies :) 

A fantastic article in Computerworld, from Jeff Ello: The unspoken truth about managing geeks.  It rings so true.  This should be widely emailed to senior managers everywhere! 

Congratulations to Ryder Jesjedal for winning a Vuelta stage, the first Canadian to do so... which gave Garmin its second consecutive Vuelta stage, too. 

Meanwhile, Tom Danielson eagerly anticipates stage 13, up Sierra Nevada.  This stage has a special place in my heart, as the finish is at the top of the Alto de Monachil, scene of my perfectly incredible day, as I rode this climb myself almost exactly three years ago... to watch Tom Danielson win his only grand tour stage (my pic at right!). 

Bach canon played as a Moebius strip.  Yay!  Paging Douglas Hofstader; as Mark Frauenfelder notes, this would have been great to listen to while reading Godel, Escher, Bach... 

Robert Scoble on "assisted driving technologies".  The safety aspect of adaptive cruise control is all very exciting and it is a real benefit, but the hidden REAL benefit is the efficiency of caravans

Wired photo gallery: Surgical robots operate with precision.  You may know, I am a massive fan of this technology, as a forerunner of today's DaVinci made by Computer Motion was used by Dr. Michael Black at Stanford to repair my daughter Megan's heart, when she was four.  I think of that often.  Pretty amazing... 

I have an important question: Is it okay to use smileys?  I use them all the time, but apparently not everyone think's they're okay.  Are they too cute?  Too immature?  Do they pretend at coolness?  I have no idea, but I like them :)



one ping only

Wednesday,  09/16/09  10:06 PM

An interesting observation: the fewer questions you ask in a survey, the higher your response rate.  If you want “everyone” to respond, ask only one question.

A few weeks ago I sent an update to some of my customers, and sprinkled among the status were a few highlighted questions.  I was thinking they would read the status, and as they were doing so they could type their thoughts in answer to my questions.

I got one response.

And some “I will do this when I have a chance” replies.  And some nothings.

So I tried again.  I forwarded the same exact same email to each of the non-respondents, and asked just one question: “If you had any advice to give, what would it be?”.

The next morning, less than eight hours later, I had a bunch of responses.  The replies were thoughtful and lengthy, too, the respondents took at least as long as it would have taken them to answer the ten or so questions in my original email.

SO if you want “everyone” to respond, ask only one question.


I'm going to lie to you (New Yorker 8/31/09)

Wednesday,  09/16/09  10:20 PM

and that's the truth :)


Wednesday,  09/16/09  10:26 PM

Whew, escaped from the spin cycle!  It was just as bad as I thought it would be... but it was also great, and I learned a lot, and was amazingly impressed with the quality and content of the speakers at Pathology Visions.  (Check out my Aperio blog for a recap.) 

I also revisited the Midway aircraft carrier on a late night ride around the back bay of San Diego, and must tell you about that when I have a chance...

Meanwhile, it's all happening...

If you're wondering how President Obama's health care proposals might work out, you should read Philip Greenspun: Massachusetts Health Care Reform Results.  The experiment has already been performed. 

Wow, so Intuit has bought Mint, for $270M.  The headline of the press release says it all: "tried and true combines with fresh and new".  I can't figure out whether Intuit really needed capabilities (and users) which Mint had already acquired, or whether this was just taking a competitor out of the market.  Either way the combination makes sense... 

What's interesting about this is that Mint is probably the most successful use of underlying technology for account aggregation developed by Yodlee.  After all these years, Yodlee has a success.  I wonder if they participated?

Inhabitat notes: Colossal green volcano building rises in Italy.  Unlike some of Inhabitat's rather interesting posts, this one is really happening; they are building this thing.  Wow. 

Power outage caused by squirrel.  Makes me proud to be an Eichhorn. 

Tim Bray wonders Where's the mobile biz?  Following up on Guy Kawasaki, Will Anyone Pay for Anything?  It does seem like FREE is the default expectation online, and despite Chris Anderson's book, it is not a great business model for most things.  I think it has gotten worse, too; if Amazon or eBay or PayPal launched today, their users would expect to get books or auctions or payments for free.  

I'm sure right now there are people working on business models to give books away (make it up with advertising?) or give auctions away (advertising?) or payments (advertising + aggregated information?)...

Related: does profitability matter for IPOs?  (quick answer: no, but a path to profitability matters a great deal.  This is why the YouTubes and Twitters of the world are much better being acquired than going public.) 

Also related: RedBeacon wins the TechCrunch 50 award.  RedBeacon is a referral site, kind of like OpenTable but for all kinds of products and services.  In theory it could be profitable, as merchants will pay to be referred (just like OpenTable makes money from restaurants). 

Speaking of FREE, from the Bing blog: visual search: why type it when you can see it?  Indeed.  Search is definitely one of the things we get free, supported by ads (Google!  Yahoo!  and now Bing!) and expanding Search to support more and different predicates is going to happen.  I think this will drive adoption of augmented reality; if you could search in realtime for what you are looking at now, how cool would that be? 

The Onion: Eight sailors suspended in boat-clearing brawl.  Ha!  I love the accompanying picture of Alinghi's cat becalmed on Lake Geneva, that's perfect...  [ thanks, Greg ] 

Roger Federer makes the most incredible tennis shot of all timeDo not try this at home - ouch! 

New Buick tagline: "the new class of world class".  Huh?  You have to know who you are, and Buick, you are not world class.  Not even. 

Remember my comment about smartphones taking over?  Well Kottke noticed it too: Your company?  There's an app for that.  "Few technology and device-making companies probably realize it, but they are in direct competition with Apple (or soon will be).  How did this happen?  Well, the iPhone does a lot of useful things pretty well, well enough that it is replacing several specialized devices that do one or two things really well."  Good is the enemy of great.  And good enough is the enemy of all specialized products... 

Meanwhile, in another attack from below, the Kindle version of Dan Brown's new book is outselling the hardcover on Amazon.  Well that didn't take long, did it.  I don't think you would have bet on this two years ago. 

ZooBorn of the day / week (/ and year!): A little Red Panda.  Wow, that could be the cutest animal picture ever, amid heavy competition... 


blogging shoes (New Yorker, 9/14/09)

Saturday,  09/19/09  09:45 AM

I put mine on this morning, before sitting down in my blogitorium :)


Saturday,  09/19/09  09:54 AM

Back in the blogitorium on a Saturday, enjoying the day.  I have a major coding project planned for this weekend, it will be Outlook down, Sharpreader down, Citydesk down, and Photoshop down, as I happily launch Visual Studio.  But first, this:

Can you even believe these ACORN videos?  Wow.  I really don't see how ACORN is going to survive this.  And of course President Obama worked closely with ACORN, but he is distancing himself as fast and as thoroughly as possible.  In him, we may have the new teflon President.  Although some of this crap is bound to stick... 

Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-man: bananas and antibananas.  I love this: 

Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann's chief competitor for the title of the World's Smartest Man but a stranger to pretension, once encountered Gell-Mann in the hall outside their offices at Caltech and asked him where he had been on a recent trip; "Moon-TRAY-ALGH!"  Gell-Mann responded in a French accent so thick that he sounded as if he were strangling.  Feynman - who, like Gell-Mann, was born in New York City - had no idea what he was talking about.  "Don't you think," he asked Gell-Mann, when at length he had ascertained that Gell-Mann was saying "Montreal," "that the purpose of language is communication?"

I can remember that both had their offices at the same end of the same hall at Caltech, a sort of living hall of fame.  And that the hall ended in a cul de sac, with a conference room as an island in the middle.  And that the rumor was, it was so they could chase each other in the hallway, endlessly...

Once again, Facebook owns "talk like a pirate day" on the web.  Avast! 

This is unbelievable: new lawsuit brings clarity to Skype's problems.  I have to agree with the conclusion: Prognosis: Screwed.  How could you possibly buy a business without also licensing the IP on which it is based?  Due diligence, anyone? 

Mike Arrington answers my question: Mint is Yodlee's YouTube.  "Yodlee never thought to ask for equity in Mint in the early days of the company, so they didn’t make anything from the acquisition."  Bummer. 

Robert Farago is leaving TTAC, prompting a retrospective.  My personal favorite was his review of the Subaru Tribeca, one of the ugliest cars ever built.  ("Once again, form murders function".)  He was definitely irreverent an entertaining, and he will be missed...



Midway, revisited

Saturday,  09/19/09  10:29 AM

You might remember a year ago, while attending Pathology Visions, we had a banquet on the Midway aircraft carrier.  And that in addition to being a great experience for me, it was also quite moving; I reconnected with the memory of my father, and I felt in some senses I was "midway" in my life, grappling with turning 50 in a couple of months.

As I noted at the time: "Midway is a great name, and a great concept, full of ambivalence and implied meaning.  Almost anything can be halfway between two other things."


Last Tuesday night, after this years' Pathology Visions, I took a little bike ride around the back bay of San Diego.  And it took me right by the Midway.  And I was able to re-experience all those emotions from a year ago, with the new perspective of a year. 


Has it been a good year?  No.  It has been a tough year; the first year of my second half (if so it will become) did not go as planned.  My family are great, Aperio is doing great, all the "big important things" are great, but my head is not.

It does not feel, in retrospect, like the Midway was in any sense an inflection point.  I didn't do anything differently, and nothing happened differently as a result.  I am still midway to figuring it all out.  It is ironic that the Midway has a banner saying "Welcome Home"; of course it is intended to seaman returning from war in the middle east, but for me it has another meaning; do I really live "midway"?  Perhaps I do.

Revisiting the Midway gives me an opportunity to rededicate myself to changing.  I strongly hope that when I ride by it again next year, I'll feel that this year was really a turning point.

We'll see.


Monday,  09/21/09  09:57 PM

Well as promised I did spent the weekend coding, and it was good.  Really good.  Man I miss coding.  Today I was back in  status report / planning / reviewing / emailing mode, and it was not good.  I am beginning to think there is a hierarchy of tools, ranging from unproductive blue sky to productive creation:

  • Powerpoint
  • Excel
  • Outlook
  • Word
  • Photoshop
  • Visual Studio

The more time I spent in Visual Studio, the happier I am.  Time spent in Powerpoint invariably makes me irritable.  Anyway tomorrow I am on my way to Vista for day of meetings, so I may not use any tools at all, which could be great, or could be horrible; we'll see.

And in the meantime, there is always Citydesk for blogging...

Yikes: Obama open to newspaper bailout bill.  [ via Instapundit, who labels it "Payoff". ] 

Smithsonian:  magnificent photos from space probes.  This is just complete porn to me, how wonderful...  My favorite is the one at right, Saturn with its rings backlit...  [ via Boing Boing

Well we must congratulate Alejandro Valverde for winning the 2009 Vuelta, his first grand tour.  He was not able to race the Tour de France this year - because, weirdly, he has been banned from racing in Italy - and so his form for the Vuelta was great.  He will be a force in the upcoming world championships, no doubt.  Chapeau also to David Miller for winning the final time trial, he too will be a force in Switzerland. 

The Tour of Spain was kind to Samuel Sanchez, who finished second, and Cadel Evans, who finished third (and is poised for the world's), but not to Robert Gesink, who finished sixth but was in it before he wiped out.  The Rabobank rider still has a bright future.

Here's some important research: The real reason women have sex.  "So why do women have sex? The vast majority (84 percent) have sex to guarantee a quiet life or to persuade their men to do some housework."  Huh.  So much for romance and shared intimacy.  And um, orgasms. 

Russian billionaire installs anti-photo shield on giant yacht.  I find the yacht to be amazing, much more so than the anti-photo technology, although I can appreciate why it might be necessary... 

A dog is a rat is a doctor is a vet.  In which we see that our pets get better care than some people.  As the post concludes: why can't we just be consenting adults? 

ZooBorn of the weekend: a baby Bongo...



Tuesday,  09/22/09  10:12 PM

Well, I'm sick.  Stayed home today and tried to recover.  *cough* *sniffle* *sneeze*

Serious wind today; the true harbinger of fall in our little corner of Southern California.  It isn't necessarily colder - sometimes September can be warmer than July or August - but the air is moving...  and it has a completely different feel....

Ten watches that shape the future of watchmaking.  Wow, how cool are these?  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought! 

Io in true color - bright yellow.  Wow. 

Jeff Jarvis looks at the new Google Sidewiki - a way for people to comment on websites even if the sites themselves don't support comments - and sees danger.  "Google is trying to take interactivity away from the source and centralize it."  There will be a lot of talk about this one :) 

New study says Palm Pre second only to iPhone in mindshare.  Huh.  I find that surprising, seems like Blackberry should be in there somewhere... 

ZooBorn of the day: a little Pudu.  These are the smallest species of deer, so their babies are, well, little.



home run

Thursday,  09/24/09  11:55 PM




flamenco art (New Yorker 9/14/09)

Saturday,  09/26/09  09:40 AM

from Ruven ... Flamenco art


Saturday,  09/26/09  09:48 AM

Catching up after a  l o n g  week... sorry for the gap.

So the other day I was chatting with a friend, and she asked about Project Q.  Huh, yeah, that...  well I made some progress for a while, back in April, but *sigh* I stopped working on it.  And I was thinking if I had just spend one hour each day working on Q, how great would that have been?  And so I have resolved to spend at least a little time each day on it.  So far so good, but I have made such resolutions before; we'll see how I do with this one.

Have you been following the President Obama / Iran intelligence thing?  So it was recently announced that we know Iran is building nuclear weapons (duh) and also that we knew Iran was building them, even when we said they weren't (duh).  As Powerline notes, "The conclusion seems inescapable that the 2007 NIE on Iran was a deliberately false document that was designed solely to embarrass the Bush administration and undermine its policies toward Iran."  (duh) 

Wow: Cancellara leaves no doubt about who's best against the clock.  He won by 1:27 over a 50km circuit.  Wow.  The more time that passes, the more amazed I am that Contador beat Cancellara in the Tour's ITT.  Either Fabian had an off day - but he did finish second - or Alberto is fast. 

Stay tuned for the road worlds tomorrow!  David Millar thinks the winner will have ridden the Vuelta, and I agree.  (My pick, Alejandro Valverde.  Or possibly Cadel Evans.)

LGF's book of the week: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.  By Richard Dawkins.  Kindled! 

Software puts captions on the real world.  Perhaps the least interesting way to describe augmented reality.  This is going to be so powerful; "captions" barely scratches the surface...



Trizilla flys

Saturday,  09/26/09  10:25 AM

The other day I reported on Midway revisited, but I forgot to mention on another thing I revisited while in downtown San Diego: Trizilla!  Here it is, in dock, resting comfortably:

Oh, and just to get your adrenaline flowing, here's another shot, of the bird in flight:

(please click to enbiggen amazingly)

No pictures can really convey the sheer scale of the thing; that mast, for example, is 180' high.  Standing next to it, I reconfirmed that riding on this beast is one of my life's goals :)  No idea how I'm going to accomplish it, but there it is.


bicycle polo (New Yorker, 9/14/09)

Sunday,  09/27/09  10:36 AM

a simple decorative picture in the New Yorker
"bicycle polo"
who knew?


Sunday,  09/27/09  10:59 AM

A beautiful morning, wow, it is wonderful and warm with a slight breeze; a great day for sitting in the blogitorium and doing nothing except, well, blogging.

Yesterday I had a real jolt; I began my final approach for competing in the Furnace Creek 508 next weekend, and I discovered that my crew captain had forgotten all about it and is unavailable.  *Sigh*  I guess when you count on unreliable people you're going to be disappointed, and I did, and I am.  Anyway it has left me scrambling; I am desperately trying to find a crew at the last minute, but I am not hopeful.  For a ride like this, you don't just need a crew, you need a GREAT crew.

On the off chance that I can ride I stocked up on spare tires and tubes and protein drink and all that, and got flashing amber lights for my car.  And I made my totem (!); competitors in the 508 are identified by an animal totem rather than a number; and I am [of course] Rocky, the Flying Squirrel.  I also reviewed my route recon from last year and got a little scared again thinking about all that climbing and all those miles.  And then I remembered, I'm probably not going to be able to ride.  Sniff.

So later today I will do a training ride.  And then tonight: Chickenfoot!  Yay.  Now that is a day to look forward to.  But first, the Ole filter makes a pass...

My hero Andrew Breitbart: Podesta spends Soros' money stupidly.  In which the White House appears far more interested in investigating the ACORN investigators than ACORN itself. 

Today's blatant correlation vs. causality confusion: "why kids who get spanked have lower IQs".  The alternative headline, "why kids with lower IQs need to be spanked", was apparently not considered, despite the fact that IQ is demonstratively harder to change than needing-to-be-spanked.  (This would be a great subject for a blog post.  I will tell you that my saying so did not cause the post to exist :) 

Congratulations to Cadel Evans, who soloed the last 5km to win the world road racing championship.  You have to feel good for Cadel, this is his biggest victory, capping a tough year.  The worlds is always a crapshoot but he rode smart, but himself in a position to win, and then had the legs to pull away at the end.  Chapeau! 

University demonstrates 3D printing with glass.  Wow, how cool is that? 

So WebOS 1.2 is out for the Pre!  And I am desperately trying to download it, but Palm's (or Sprint's) servers are overloaded.  Among other things, this is when we get the "real" version of Palm's App Store, including paid applications.  Supposedly there are a bunch of these just waiting to be released; we'll see. 

Related: Jamie Zawinski relates a not-so-happy story about how hard it can be to get a Palm app released.  Sigh, and I was so hoping they would be better than Apple at this...



Monday,  09/28/09  10:11 PM

What could possibly be better than seeing Chickenfoot live, on the final date of their inaugural tour, right after they received their first gold album? 

Seeing Sammy Hagar in his fourth major band (Montrose, Sammy Hagar, Van Halen, and now Chickenfoot), and seeing Michael Anthony [Van Halen] back on the bass, and Chad Smith [Red Hot Chili Peppers] wailing on drums?  And seeing my man, Joe Satriani, the finest rock guitarist period, blazing away?


Well okay, what could possibly be better?

How about seeing them with my daughters Jordan and Alexis, and friends Bill, Jim, and Glen?  Well that would be pretty good, what could be better?



How about seeing Chickenfoot live, but with Queensrÿche opening!  I could not believe it.  We got there just as the first act finished, and the stage was being set for the next band, and I saw the drum kit with the Queensrÿche logo, and I looked, and I looked, and I dared not believe it.  And yet - there they were!  Empire, Jet City, Della Brown, Silent Lucidity, the Thin Line... all my favorites, blasted at full volume.  Geoff Tate sounds exactly the same live as he does on the albums, what a great voice.  I loved every second.  He even did a cool ballad with his daughter.

I totally would have gone just to see them!

...and then...



We're talking FULL volume, every kick on the bass drum hit you in the chest, the bass was throbbing, and Joe's riffs were incendiary!

I don't know if you've ever seen Sammy Hagar in concert - I've seen him three times now, once before with his own band ("Red!"), and then of course with Van Halen - but I must tell you he is one of those performers who is much better live.  He radiates energy, and totally runs the show.  I can't believe he still does it, he must be older than God, but man he does not look a day older prancing around the stage and screeeeming those lyrics.


And I had not seen Chad Smith before, but he is just great.  He's this big old guy, and he sits behind his big old kit, and he beats the crap out of those skins, and yet weaves in some amazing subtle rhythms.  He and Joe did a drum-and-guitar solo which was about the best thing ever.  Just when you thought Chad couldn't pick it up any more, he did, and just when you thought Joe couldn't play any faster, he did.  And they were dead on together. 

It was wonderful.

Michael Anthony of course was the reliable force behind Van Halen, and in this band a few times he even cut loose for some bass solos, just having a little fun.  I think he was just delighted to be back on stage in a major band with serious musicians, playing his music and keeping the whole thing together.

Which brings me to Joe Satriani, who is for my money the best, I mean really the best, even amid heavy competition, and now we know that he can be just as great in any band as in his band, with his driving riffs pounding away.  About every fourth measure he sticks in some amazing little decorations, just for fun, some 1,024th notes to show you he can cut loose at any moment.  His improvisation on Get It Up was transcending, sometimes the rest of the band just stops and watches him, amazed, along with the audience.  At one point he was even playing two guitars at once, a steel acoustic and an electric, playing lead and rhythm guitar at the same time.  Show off.


Man, what a great concert.  I will be smiling for a week, just thinking about it :)


Universal Citywalk is the scene...

Geoff Tate and Queensrÿche open!

blazing lights, blazing sound = maximum energy

Joe Satriani, Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony

Satriani's guitar work drives the band's sound

Chad Smith ends the show by destroying his drum kit
he had pretty much worn it out by this time anyway :)

Chickenfoot! - thank you for an AWESOME show!


Tuesday,  09/29/09  10:23 PM

Okay... what's happening?  Well, I am somewhat digging out at work, I am not totally buried anymore and [as noted in recent posts] have been - gasp! - doing some coding.  You know, actual work.  And I am still fully buzzed from Sunday night's concert.  I have said this before, but I really think that might have been the best concert I've ever seen.  Queensryche just fully rocked, but what can we say about Chickenfoot?  Man I hope they stick around and stick together, I cannot wait for another album from them...

I have great great news, a wonderful angel named Joani has descended to offer her services as crew captain for me in the Furnace Creek 508.  Yay!  I still need to find a co-crew, but she is an experienced and able and willing crew chief so I am WAY ahead already.  I am scanning all horizons in parallel for volunteers to serve as crew, please don't hold back if you want to help.  I am now -> <- this close to being able to compete.

Let's make a quick filter pass, shall we?

I have officially upgraded my Palm Pre to WebOS 1.2 - it was totally seamless, the phone offered, and I accepted - and I am liking it.  So far everything works, there are little improvements everywhere, and the phone "feels" faster.  Good stuff. 

The Horse's Mouth eloquently frames the problem with Chicago's Olympic bid: So Let Me Get This Straight, It's Chicago Or Rio.  There's a lot more to hosting an Olympics than ambiance, and I happen to like Chicago a lot, but Rio is pretty compelling... 

Joke of the day, via Powerline: "WARNING: If you get an email entitled: 'Nude photo of Nancy Pelosi,' DON'T OPEN IT!! It contains a nude photo of Nancy Pelosi."  Ouch. 

I know we used to say this about YouTube, but Twitter has now reached historic levels of investment for a company with no revenue or business model.  They've raised $155M in capital, and for what?  So they can run a messaging service?  I so don't get it.  It is possible that Microsoft or Yahoo or Google will buy them, thereby bailing them out (and excusing them from ever figuring out a business model), but I think increasingly unlikely.  Let's watch this one play out. 

Russell Beattie: Yahoo! Needs a Real Vision.  I completely agree, they have lost the plot.  "To be the center of people's online lives" is something only a marketing committee could love.  There is no there there. 

Exclusive: Thermaltake's Jaw-Dropping Level 10 Chassis Unboxed!  It is a pretty darn cool design for a computer, one of the few new ideas we've seen lately...



American vice

Tuesday,  09/29/09  10:39 PM

an infographic from Wired's September issue

I find the correlations interesting...  Greed and Pride, Envy and Wrath, Gluttony and Lust. 
I question the measurement of Sloth; "entertainment" and "recreation" take a lot of energy :)



Wednesday,  09/30/09  11:01 PM

Wow, the end of Q3.  I cannot believe it, this year has absolutely flown by.  You know what happens next, right?  October, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and poof! before you know it, 2009 is gone.  Yikes!

Meanwhile I shall engage in a teeny bit 'o bloggin':

(Oh yeah, no luck yet finding a 508 crew.  If you or anyone you know would like to spend a pleasant weekend following a cyclist around in a car while seeing the Panamint Valley, Death Valley, and Mojave Nature Preserve, please let me know!)

Cancer research hit the news bigtime today, with an announcement of the University of California's Athena project.  Sounds like a wonderful use for ARRA funds, amid many not-so-wonderful uses.  I hope digital pathology can contribute! 

Related: Obama issues $5B in ARRA grants to NIH.  I still don't think this is a great way to fund basic medical research, but if the government is going to spend our money on something, might as well be this.  Better than bailing out failed businesses like banks, car companies, and newspapers... 

Here we have the most amazing skyline ever: an image composed with real buildings from all over the world, gathered together with Photoshop.  I must say it looks like Coruscant.  I love it. 
(please click to enbiggen) 

It is amazing how much mediaplay augmented reality is getting these days (well in advance of practical demonstrations of the technology), e.g. point your phone to ID places.  "Already, you can point your phone's camera at a building to identify it, and someday soon you may be able to aim your device at a person to see their name and personal information displayed on the live camera view."  Of course buildings don't move, so you can Id them with GPS and a compass; people move, so you need face recognition from movies, a much harder task.  Still the concept is definitely not going away. 

ZooBorn of the day: a baby Firefox!  (aka Red Panda) 


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