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Archive: November 2009

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Sunday,  11/01/09  11:15 AM

Halloween 2009 - Megan and companyWow, November.  October is over, Shirley's Birthday [was wonderful but] is over, Halloween is over.  Time to pay attention to football (although USC was massacred yesterday by Oregon, how crappy was that?), and baseball (although with the Phillies and Yankees in the series, I have no serious rooting interest except against New York).  Time to think about colder weather (can't just cycle in a light jersey anymore, boo) and darker evenings (can't just cycle at 5:00PM anymore, need to get on the road by 3ish).  It feels like a transition.

I love that I was blogging a year ago, and I love that I can just click and poof! see what I posted a year ago; I had a nice recap of October (Boo!).  I was in a reflective mood then too; recovering from being sicker than I've ever been, and from Shirley's birthday (in which she turned 50!) and dreading mine (in which I would turn 50, a big deal for me), and anticipating a business trip to Brazil! and a major birthday party!  And of course we had the big Presidential election about to take place.  I have a funny feeling if people knew then what they know now, Obama would not have been elected; it hasn't turned out the way they thought, has it?

So what do we look forward to now?  (I need to think about this carefully, because in a year I'll be reading it again :)  It feels a bit quieter than last year, doesn't it?  No election, no economic disaster looming; it has hit already, and bad as it is, it doesn't feel like it is going to get worse - we'll check how that turns out in a year.  At Aperio things are quieter / steadier, lots of work to do as always, clean growth, but nothing dramatic.  We'll see how that turns out in a year.  My family are all a year older and a year better, the girls are all doing great, each in their own way; the biggest thing I might have to worry about isn't something I'm worried about.  And as for me?  Well, maybe this month I'll make time for the mythical Project Q.  Let's hope, it would sure be great to look back a year from now and realize this was the moment I actually made time for it!


Monday,  11/02/09  09:50 PM

A day of coding, and a nice hard ride.  Good stuff...

With much football and baseball left to watch.  Enjoyed the games yesterday while coding :)

AAPL vs GOOG vs MSFTTechCrunch notes Google equals Apple in value, talking about market cap, which for both is $169B.  Quick, without looking, which has more revenue?  (GOOG $22B and AAPL $36B)  Which has more employees?  (GOOG 20K and AAPL 34K)  Interesting.  And also interesting to compare both to Microsoft, with a market cap of $252B, revenues of $56B, and 93K employees).  Comparing the stock prices over the last five years (right), AAPL is up 600% (green), GOOG is up 200% (blue), and MSFT is flat at 0% (red).  What do you think this will look like in five years from today?

a WebVan vanThe WSJ remembers Ten years ago, when online groceries were all the rage.  Man do I remember WebVan, we loved them, and used the heck out of them.  But there was no business there, and they ended up one of the biggest bombs of the dot-com era.  Hard to believe that was ten years ago.

robots explore TitanWell this is cool: an Armada of Robots to explore Titan!  As you all know my "out there" goal is to visit Titan, but maybe I won't physically visit it, maybe it will be a virtual trip using robots as sensors.  Now that would be cool!

how to open a bottle of wine with your shoeNews you can use: how to open a bottle of wine with your shoe.  Amazing.  I would suggest trying this with TJ's crap before doing this with a bottle of Mayacamus, but who knows, it could come in handy...


pithy titles

Monday,  11/02/09  10:49 PM

your title hereSometimes when I post a comendium of items from a given day I just use the date as the post title.  But I was thinking, when I'm scanning blog posts, I often decide whether to look at a post based solely on the title, after all, that's all you have to go on... so maybe I'd be better off summarizing each post with a pithy title?  Huh.


Tuesday,  11/03/09  11:41 PM

Tireder than crap; man, what a long day.  It has been a while since I went down to Vista, worked all day, rode, ate dinner, and then drove home all in one day.  A good day actually in which quite a bit was accomplished; I have such great colleagues, it is an amazing pleasure sometimes to work on stuff with them.  Tonight it was cold and freezy and foggy and really felt like winter was at hand.  I kind of liked it.

So much for the pithy title thing, I'm too tired.  But not too tired to blog!  ZZzz..

Trizilla dismasted!So Trizilla aka BOR90 has a blog!  Subscribed!  And just in time to report that they've been dismasted!  Oh, no, Mr. Bill!  Fortunately nobody was hurt as the $10M carbon fiber tree was felled.  Well maybe Larry Ellison felt it in his wallet.  Yikes!  Stay tuned for more...

the Twitter PeekThe Twitter Peek, a handheld device which, um, Tweets.  That's all it does.  "This thing is pretty rough...  Weird batches of tweets would come in, all from one person, for example, or weird messages like 'Oh Hey, you're Tweeting so much!  We're going to try to catch up' or something to that effect.  It's also really slow.  You have to click twice to read a Tweet – once to bring up the menu and once to read the Tweet – and scrolling is really bad."  Sounds pretty compelling.



Wednesday,  11/04/09  09:59 PM

A nice quiet day of work, steady progress against some technical goals (while my teammates make steady progress in parallel).  I shouldn't say but how rare and how nice is that?  (Rare and nice :)  Meanwhile had to drop off our Volvo for repairs and rode back from the dealer in Calabasas via Old Topanga Canyon, Mulholland, Rockstore, and Decker.  Whew.  A *tough* 30 miles, I'll tell you, in the darkening cold.  I am pooped but happy.

(enough with the pithy title thing; forget it... not happening.)

the Obamas vote, one year ago todaySo today is the one-year anniversary of the Big Day, on which we elected President Obama.  It was weird for me, I was a McCain supporter (and a Palin supporter!), and worried about Obama, but I had a sense of hope too; like maybe if everyone thought he was going to succeed, then he would.  Confidence.  But it didn't turn out that way, there was no there there, no plans, no way to deal with the huge problems which confronted him.  Popular opinion has shifted, the health care reforms have not made sense or worked out, and the economic reforms have backfired; stimulus money hasn't helped (and will hurt once inflation kicks in).  Perhaps it is too early to make a brutal summation, but the sense of hope has largely dissipated.

I must say I am struck, as I look at pictures from a year ago, how much President Obama has aged...

Google celebrates 20th anniversary of Wallace and GromitOn a lighter note, today Google celebrates the 20th anniversary of Wallace and Gromit.  Yay!  (That has to be one of the more complicated Google logos ever, right?)

Unbelievable: A Connecticut woman blinded by her neighbor's chimpanzee is suing the state for $150M.  Don't get me wrong - I feel really bad for this woman, but her actions in trying to help subdue a 200lb animal were her own, and in no way was the state responsible for what happened.  Ridiculous.  Even worse, the state will probably settle out of court to save the cost of litigation.

Amgen TOC 2010 routeOur local paper The Acorn has a nice article about the upcoming 2010 Amgen Tour of California, the final stage of which is pretty much in my back yard, here in Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, and Thousand Oaks.  The pro peloton are going up Rockstore, down Decker, up Westlake, etc. - all my local trails - in a criterium format.  How cool.  Of course Amgen is headquartered in Thousand Oaks, and there is some great riding in our area, so it totally makes sense.


Thursday,  11/05/09  10:30 AM

Another day of coding, interrupted by budget reviews (urgh!), a job interview, and other administrivia.  It was too cold to ride, or at least that was my excuse; it wasn't really that cold, but I guess I was tired, or something.  Blech.  The worst part about not riding is the way you don't feel afterward.

Westlake Inn vineyard (location of old gas station)A vineyard in Westlake Village?  Why not!  "The idea to plant a vineyard on the corner of Lakeview Canyon and Agoura Road came, appropriately, over a glass of wine."  I know exactly where this is, it used to be a gas station, and now it is a vineyard.  (see at right)  How cool is that?

Steve Jobs: CEO of the DecadeThe Decade of Steve: Fortune Magazine names Apple CEO Steve Jobs "CEO of the decade".  A pretty good call, who else would even be in the running?  Not only has he driven Apple to the top of the tech heap, with the iMac, OS X, iPod, and iPhone, he piloted Pixar to the top of the movie heap too.  Awesome.

In interesting sidebar, Fortune interviewed eight other star CEOs about Jobs.  Larry Ellison (Oracle): "The difference between me and Steve is that I'm willing to live with the best the world can provide.  With Steve that's not always good enough."  Jimmy Iovine (Interscope): "Whatever anyone says about Apple, if it wasn't for Steve Jobs there would be no legitimate music online."  Andrea Jung (Avon): "He's laser-focused on getting it right. It's a great lesson in this quarter-to-quarter world."  I didn't know the CEO of Avon was on Apple's board.  How interesting.

Wow, this is BIG NEWS: Google Closure.  An Open source JavaScript compiler, debugger, library, and templating system from Google.  It is becoming clear that JavaScript is the one universal language, even more universal than C, at least for application development.  And these tools have the potential to make it faster and also non-plagerizable.

Can I share a pet peeve?  I hate strongly dislike it when people reply to my email but don't quote my email in theirs.  I mean, that's lame, right?  Right.

Walmart: freedom from wantGerard Vanderleun on the Enduring Greatness of Walmart: "No wonder the left hates Walmart.  The company feeds more people more for less than any socialist system you can imagine today."  Bing.

More: I love that Rockwell illustration, "Freedom from Want".  Check it out (click through to enbiggen.)  Check out the faces, the glassware on the table.  Amazing.

ZooBorn: a baby PuggleZooBorn of the day: a baby Puggle.  I have no idea what Puggles are, but this little one is maximally cute.


Westlake vineyard

Saturday,  11/07/09  01:30 PM

The other day I noted the owner of the Westlake Inn tore down a gas station to create a vineyard right here in Westlake Village.  So this morning I went on a ride with the Conejo Valley Cyclists' Red Riders* and we rode right by it; and there it was!

Westlake Inn Vineyard!

Still under construction, but most definitely a vineyard, and most definitely much nicer looking than a gas station.  I can't wait to see it fully planted...  I guess it will be a couple of years [at least] before it begins producing wine, can't wait for that either.

* Wow, what a ride - 45 miles, up and down Decker, Mulholland, Encinal, and Rockstore - I discovered I'm not in the same shape I was six months ago...  more of this kind of riding is indicated...


Saturday,  11/07/09  01:44 PM

Recovering from a hard ride, and preparing for a big dinner party, and enjoying an absolutely beautiful day.  Wow, I think sometimes November is the *best* month in Southern California, especially when it isn't too windy...  anyway, let's make a filter pass, shall we?

Well Technorati is officially dead.  At least for me.  For the longest time I had an RSS feed there, to tell me about inbound links and other references to my blog, but it *never* worked.  Not really.  At lately it has worked less and less well.  And the other day they started sprinkling "headlines" into the RSS feed, stuff which doesn't have anything to do with me.  So that's it, unsubscribed, and see you later...  not.

PS yeah I use Google's blogsearch RSS feed and that works just fine.

unemployment, Oct 2009Think the economy is recovering?  Check out the chart at right.  Seems like Obamanomics isn't all it was cracked up to be.  I think in some senses the economy is recovering; the stock market is better, but the job market is not.

Powerline on Fox vs CNN: time to stop this fight.  On election night "More people watched Fox News than all of its cable news competitors combined, and CNN came in a dismal fourth."  Wow.  I know the White House want America to believe Fox is ultra-conservative, but the truth is that their cable competitors are ultra-liberal, and Americans want a more balanced narrative.  Interesting that the pendulum is swinging back.  It might be that helping get Barack Obama elected ends up being the "jump the shark" moment for the liberal media.

Spirit, stuck in Martian sand...I'm rooting for 'em: Mars Rover plans its escape.  "After being stuck in soft soil on Mars for six months, Spirit, one of two NASA rovers on the red planet, is about to attempt an escape."  I love these robots; remember, the original mission was 90 days back in 2003, and they're still ticking...

Pac-10 standings, a/o 11/7/09... stay tuned!Finally, on a day when I plan to watch a little football before our party tonight, and with Oregon seemingly on their way to losing to Stanford, check out the Pac-10 rankings at the start of the USC / Arizona State game...  what a mess!  The conference is so good everyone is beating everyone else, and nobody has a clear path to a BCS bowl.  I guess it will be Arizona, huh?  Stay tuned!


remembering Julia

Sunday,  11/08/09  09:25 PM

A little while ago Shirley saw Julie and Julia with some friends (the new movie about Julia Child), and they were inspired to form a dinner group, and the first dinner theme was chosen to be "Remembering Julia", and it was at our house last night.  And man it was fantastic.  Smoked salmon and caviar canapes (with a dry Pinot Grigio), a wonderful selection of pate (with a French Burgundy [aka Pinot Noir]), outrageously good beef Bourguignon (with a Saint Emilion, yay), a fantastic selection of cheeses (with a Saint Julian, double yay), and wrapping it up the queen of deserts, chocolate mousse.  Wow. 

the table is ready...

...the wine too, breathing steadily...

...and the cheese was amazing!

(Not to mention a great group of friends and wonderful conversations...)

Act II is going to be Indian Food, that should be most excellent...


Sunday,  11/08/09  10:01 PM

Megan's awesome football cakeA day of football, as I watched the end of the college games from yesterday and three pro games from today.  Whew.  Good thing I have two Tivos and two Slingboxes, so I didn't have to leave my computer :)  How great is it to be able to work while "watching"?  Don't answer that.

Megan got into the spirit by baking an awesome football cake.  It tasted as good as it looked (click to enbiggen).

Damian Williams dives for the pylonPlay of the weekend, week, month, or year: USC's Damian Williams takes a short pass from Matt Barkley and bursts through the Arizona State secondary for 75 yards and a touchdown, but the last 5 yards were a dive along the sideline, ending with a midair touch of the football to the pylon as he was going out of bounds.  Incredibly athletic move.  'SC barely survived and is barely alive for the Pac-10 title, as Oregon and Cal both lost.

I must tell you, I OD'ed fully on commercials.  Yes I was Tivoing so No I didn't watch them, but I had to keep skipping through them, how annoying.  I think the networks have responded to lower CPM prices by increasing the number of commercials per millisecond.  If you didn't have a Tivo, you'd kill yourself.

price war!James Surowiecki on price wars: Priced to Go.  Interesting analysis, sometimes a seemingly negative sum game is worth playing, especially if you're a big company playing several games in parallel.

Quote of the day from Villainous Company, a great blog I discovered via Instapundit: "Everyone likes the Marines because they unapologetically like to kill bad people."

The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: Why the mainstream media is dying.  "Every once in a while you get to see a mainstream outlet cover a story right alongside a blog, so you can put them up against each other and see why one was so much better than the other."  This is so true.

Motorola Droid: awesome or awful?Scoble says the new Droid fails as a product compared to the Palm Pre and iPhone.  And Adam Curry is more succinct: Droid sucks.  These are both guys I would have expected to be squarely in the middle of Droid's target demographic.  Huh.

Interesting: Slashdot reports HTML5 viewer for YouTube, no flash required.  Huh, wonder if this is the future?  Video seems to be single-handedly keeping Flash relevant.

Trizilla's new wing mainWeird and wonderful news from the Trizilla (BOR90) camp, as they unveil a new hard wing mainsail!  No wonder they weren't that concerned about losing their $10M mast the other day...  Can't wait to see this one on the water.


Kindle anniversary: still rocks

Sunday,  11/08/09  10:42 PM

Today is the one-year anniversary of Shirley giving me a Kindle as an early birthday present, as I was planning for a business trip to Brazil.  I loved it then, and I love it even more now.

A lot of my initial reactions have held up; the screen is wonderful, the buttons and keyboard are fine (although the buttons on the side are too large), the cover is nice.  I still like the user interface.

my Kindle!
(click to enbiggen)

my Kindle's cover

But I've learned a few things over time which make me like it even more.  First there's the "instant gratification" factor, you can buy any book you've heard about *now*.  The iPod has this (for music), and AppleTV (for video), and the iPhone (for apps); it seems to be an important component of a good user experience.  Second there's the capability to change the font size; this is huge for me, it means I don't have to carry reading glasses into dark restaurants :)  And third I love the ability to lookup the definition of any word at any time, and to search for anything in any book.  Overall the device just works; it is an eminently suitable replacement for books.

I find it amazing that in one year it has become so accepted that it isn't even a novelty; when I first had it all sorts of people would comment on it, now, nobody does, everyone has seen one.  Airplane flight attendants know what it is and don't ask you to turn it off.  Etc.  In a conversation over dinner last night, three out of four friends had one.  We literally had a conversation that while we have houses filled with books, our kids are not even going to have bookcases.  It is like our parents had racks of records, but we don't, at least not anymore :)  Remember having tons of VHS tapes?  And tons of cassettes?  And tons of CDs?  And tons of DVDs?  All unnecessary, all old technology.  Digital information does not need to be stored on physical media anymore, and at some level, books are just digital information.

Anyway I'm delighted with my Kindle, it was an inspired present, and I can't wait to see what the future of eBooks will look like...  (oh yeah, I do still an original iPod...)


Monday,  11/09/09  11:21 PM

A nice little day of work and work and work (followed by football; great game).  In anticipation of a nice little week of work and work and work (followed by football).  And sprinkled in, a bit of blogging...

SuperFreakonomics: planetary re-engineering?Did you read Freakonomics?  Did you like it?  Then perhaps you will read / like SuperFreakonomics...  but you might consider this review.  Perhaps they are exchanging science for voodoo.  As you guys know, I am no fan of over-reacting to global warming, but I am always on the side of science.

Dave Winer loves the Droid.  The key for him is developer freedom.  Yeah, but...  the user experience isn't quite quite, right?

Speaking of user experience, Jan Mikovsky introduces QuickUI, a fast and powerful way to create web UI controls (in C#).  It uses a superset of HTML as a control markup language.  Interesting...

Jeff Atwood: Whitespace, the silent killer.  I love it.  Who knows how many extra spaces I've wasted in this post?

Happy fifth birthday, Firefox!ArsTechnica celebrates the fifth birthday of Firefox.  Happy Birthday!  Hard to believe there was a time when I used IE as my daily browser, but there was...

Tim Oren warns of Buzzword heath death.  It is so true; once a technical term escapes into the real-world, it can be corrupted beyond all recognition.  ("there's an app for that".)

Twitter and LinkedIn are now connectedTwitter and LinkedIn are now connected together; when you tweet, it is visible on LinkedIn, and when you update your business status, it is tweeted.  I have an account on both, and they are now connected, but my life has not changed :) 

BTW awesome infographic by TechCrunch (at right).

Is there no limit to their ambition?  Amazon opens a new denim shop, with free shipping and returns.  They've just closed the Gap.  Wow.

Rock Band played with a flute, awesomeness redefined!Rock band played with a flute, awesomeness redefined.  Engadget's headline says it all.  I can see my daughter Megan doing this...  in fact I know she's going to try; stay tuned :)

ZooBorn: a baby BelugaZooBorn of the day: a baby Beluga.



Tuesday,  11/10/09  10:29 PM

A cold misty morning led me to wear a sweater today; a first for this winter.  Made me feel cozy and winterish.  All day.

If you're starting a company or working on a product these days, a consideration has to be giving it a unique name so it can be found online.  If you pick a name which isn't Googleable*, that's a huge mistake.  Especially if you pick a name which is likely to result in mis-hits.  Imagine naming your company Apollo Pools.  Not as good as Ole's Pools, is it? :)

* yes of course that is a word, silly.  And it's even Googleable.

Wolfram Alpha on "Ole"You might think my name Ole is unique, but it isn't that Googleable; you have Object Linking and Embedding, and Ole Miss, and so on...  Ole Eichhorn is pretty good though :)

According to Wolfram Alpha, Ole is the 6,053rd most popular man's name, with only nine of us expected to be alive.  Huh.

The Ditherer in Chief: "Reports that President Obama has made a decision about Afghanistan are absolutely false."  I agree with Cassandra: "that's the first believable statement I've heard from this administration in months."  Only I might drop "in months".  These guys are absolute clowns, aren't they?  In one year President Obama has become the biggest joke of a President since Carter.

More clownage: President Obama's non-celebration of the anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall.  He doesn't mention Russia as the cause of the wall or Reagan as the cause of the falling of the wall.  And he makes it sound like his election was as important as uniting Germany.  I think he really believes that, too.

Regarding the shooting at Ft. Hood, Jerry Pournelle comments: "There were plenty of indications that Major Hassan was behaving in an odd manner.  Nothing was done about that.  In my judgment it is not stupid to ask why nothing was done.  It is not stupid to pay attention to probabilities."  Not stupid, just politically incorrect, and that's what's really stupid.

Kareem Abdul-JabbarCrap:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has cancer.  Seems to be handling it with dignity and grace as he handles everything.  fXf!

Comment: The videos on the CNN website are uniformly horrible.  They not only violate the reverse pyramid dictum, they have pre-roll ads, thereby further violating it.  Most of the time I don't even make it through the ad.  I didn't this time.

WSJ reports on a study of VC-backed company boardrooms.  "But while 54% of VCs listed 'mentoring the CEO'” as one of their three top value-adds, only 27% of CEOs chose this as a benefit that VCs bring to the table."  Ha!

Tom's Planner: simple AJAX Gantt chart generatorTom's Planner looks really cool; a simple AJAX Gantt chart generator.  I'd play around with it, but I didn't plan time :)  Actually this is filed in "make time when I can"; stay tuned....

X-Ray named top scientific achievement by London Science Museum.  Huh.  Not a horrible choice, but does it really outstrip digital computers?

How to avoid an untimely death.  "#3: Do not road cycle or jog on public roads/roadsides.  This is self-evident."  I'm afraid this is true :(

ZooBorn: baby Porcupine fuzzballZooBorn of the day: a baby Porcupine.  Oh my.  A new candidate for the definition of fuzzball :)


buyer's remorse (NY, 11/9/09)

Tuesday,  11/10/09  10:50 PM

there will be a long line at the Obama store


wingin' it

Tuesday,  11/10/09  11:27 PM

Wow, Trizilla has a wing!  Yay!  How golden is this?

the wing emerges from the shed
six feet thick, 200' long, and non-trivially multi-sectioned

putting it in place with two giant cranes
I have stood on that very dock to admire that very boat

sheer awesomeness
cannot wait to see it in action against Alinghi's cat!


happy Veteran's Day

Wednesday,  11/11/09  07:42 AM

Long may she wave!Just wanted to say how much I appreciate and respect all the men and women in our armed forces, our military is the core of our freedom. 

As I go on with my little life each day, worrying about my family and my work and cycling and sailing, my problems are all little problems.  All over the world there are people whose lives are not their own, who don’t have the freedom to do what they want, and say what they want, and take control over their own existence.  It is easy for us to forget this, easy for us to take our life in America for granted.  But for our military we would not be able to life this way. 

So, thanks!


The Third Corner

Thursday,  11/12/09  11:04 PM

The Third Corner in Encinitas rocks - literally!Yesterday was quite a day and I'll tell you more about it, but it ended for me in The Third Corner, an awesome little wine bar in Encinitas.  Check it out: great wine at great prices, amazing food, open late, and ... hard rock playing!  With nice comfortable couches and friendly service.

I'll be back :)


Thursday,  11/12/09  11:18 PM

Probably the busiest couple of days in history; began early yesterday and ended late (!), and then more meetings presentations phone calls meetings all day today.  Ended with a nice Kessel Run (slow but steady in the fog, with mistly lights gleaming), dinner at the Charthouse, and finally I'm back home, whew!  And blogging...

yay, Alex!So my daughter Alex has her driver's license!  Yay Alex!  She's actually a pretty good driver for being sixteen, and I'm not too worried, except for all the other idiots on the road.

As I was posting this I wanted the image at left, so I looked up when Jordan got her license, and found this post from six years ago.  Alex had just turned 10, and Jordan had just gotten her license.  Man, they grow up so fast, don't they?

I love the comments about going to Magic Mountain ("a bunch of really fat, really ugly people"); that sure hasn't changed.  Actually the whole post is pretty good; I was a good blogger then :)

Cox and Forkum celebrate Veteran's Day 2004Finding that old post about Alex and Jordan prompted me to click on the "this date in" links above right.  11/11 was a good day for blogging; check out this post from 2004, with a great Cox and Forkum cartoon, Veteran's Day 2004.

Measuring Infinity - infinitely cool :)And check out this post from 2003, with probably my all time favorite cartoon ever, Measuring Infinity.

How cool is it to have been blogging for so long?  It is cool.  Onward!

Kindle for PC now available.  Awesome.  Downloaded it, tried it, liked it.  Just works, much like the Kindle itself.  I'm not sure of the use case for this, for me; seems like I pretty much have my Kindle all the time when traveling anyway.  But I could see an unexpected time kill need surfacing...

Google's vast storage arrayGoogle are now offering twice the storage for a quarter of the price.  16TB for $4K/year.  Wow.  Puts them in competition with Amazon's S3, I think.

Evan Williams: Why retweet works the way it does.  Makes total sense.  If you were into Tweeting, that is :)  I'm slowly coming to Twitter, I get it, lots of people use it, I just don't get why; the signal to noise is basically zero.  But given that lots of people Tweet, searching Tweets can be really useful.  So I'm paying attention.

Interesting example: my company Aperio recently hired an experienced and influential Pathologist as Chief Medical Officer.  Just before that, we were named San Diego County's Exporter of the Year.  On blogs, the CMO news was much bigger, but on Twitter, the Exporter of the Year news was bigger.  The difference is focus; there are many more people interested in exporting than bloggers interested in digital pathology.  Fascinating.  What a great time to be alive.

the awesome bicycle chain clockMost awesome clock ever: made from a bicycle chain.  Wow, do I need one of these!  ($2,500!)

Okay, that's it; I'm pooped....  see you tomorrow.


still desk checking

Friday,  11/13/09  05:31 PM

A little while ago I posted an ode to Desk Checking.  It's one of those articles I used to write more often; a little think piece about programming.  It gets linked every so often but it isn't a major traffic driver.  So yesterday I received the most excellent email ever from a guy named Adam:

Hello there,

I'm currently a sophomore in a computer science course and I am doing some last minute studying before a test I have tomorrow morning.  One thing my teacher told the class to review before the test was desk checking.  So, I Googled desk checking to find a more detailed description of exactly what it was.  I had an idea of what it was and it turned out I was correct.

I came across your article:  I read through it and was amazed by the story you told about the batch deck of cards.  I can only say that I'm glad I don't have to go through that kind of hassle.  Anyways, I was just letting you know that I found your rant to be very informative, funny and humbling.  I'm positive that on my test tomorrow I will be able to thoroughly explain what desk checking is and that from now on, because of your article, I will desk check my work before compiling.

I predict Adam will go far :)


Friday,  11/13/09  05:43 PM

Wrapping up a busy week, getting ready for a not-busy-at-all weekend!  Just talked to a friend and explained it as "football watching season", which also means "quiet programming while watching" season, thanks to Tivo and Slingbox.  I need some downtime.  Too bad USC lost to Oregon, otherwise tomorrow's Stanford game would be a lot bigger.

Rockstore!This afternoon I rode Rockstore for the first time in a while, and it was good.  After all this time, still one of the best climbs around, and it is just ten miles from my house.  For the record, 8:00+2:00+7:00+2:00=19:00.  The sections and the total time.  Not my best, but not my worst, either...

Palm Pixi - the Pre's little sister!The Palm Pixi is out, and Engadget posted a rather complimentary review.  Not groundbreaking like the Pre, but nicely evolutionary.  I would observe that if you already have a Pre, you wouldn't consider a Pixi; it is considerably less capability in a slightly smaller device.  Different from when I already had a Treo, and switched to a Centro; it was the same capability in a considerably smaller device.  And isn't it interesting that the Pixi strikes everyone as feminine.

Along with the Pixi we get WebOS 1.3.1; I installed it immediately of course, and it seems not-broken.  Web browsing seems snappier, but otherwise I have yet to notice any difference.  Nice that Palm is turning WebOS so fast.

Grand Theft KoyaanisqatsiLinked just for the title: Grand Theft Koyaanisqatsi.  Scenes from the game, although as Kottke notes not set to Philip Glass, although they should be :)  Someone please remedy this immediately!  (Someone will, I'm sure :)  The game technology is quite impressive, particularly the shadows and clouds.  The water is pretty excellent, too.  One suggestion for the game designers: wind; trees and plants move, too.

Once again we must note; pre-roll video ads strongly violate the reverse pyramid dictum.  I'm going to go out on a limb to speculate that inline ads will end up predominating video for this reason.

Bram Cohen (author of Bittorrent and Python aficionado) comments on Google's Go programming language.  Really interesting; I've ignored Go so far, but possibly I shouldn't.  Google has the scale to make something like this happen.

ZooBorns: Otter pups!ZooBorns of the day: Otter pups!  WOW, cuteness exemplified...


Saturday,  11/14/09  09:37 PM

Stanford over USC who are NOT going to the Rose BowlA pretty nice weekend day, although Stanford's dismantling of USC put a damper on it (guess I'm going to have to root for them now).  Worked steadily while watching football all day, and took time out for another cycle tour of Rockstore; really getting into that ride (and getting back into top climbing shape).

Ohio State over Iowa; going to the Rose Bowl...Congrats to Ohio State for a nice overtime victory over Iowa; who would have thought when USC blew them out at the start of the year that they would be going to the Rose Bowl, and not 'SC?

I must say I love Tivo - given - and the 30 second skip - given - but wouldn't it be great if the device did an autoskip?  And/or, if the Slingbox software could do it?  The number of commercials during a football game is staggering, and it is distracting to have to switch your attention to skip them :)

Japanese I400 submarine - which could launch airplanes!Two sunken Japanese subs found off Hawaii.  Remarkably, one of these WWII-era subs was equipped for launching airplanes.  Wow, who knew?

You really have to admire such "old technology"; imagine the effort that went into designing, testing, and building these submarines way back in those pre-computer days.  Wow.  Interestingly, the sub was sank by the U.S. after it was captured and studied, possibly to avoid sharing the technology with the Russian military.

I have begun a major operation; I am moving to a new laptop.  I've had the new machine for three months, but with one thing and another have not made time.  It is time.  And oh by the way the new machine is running Win 7.  fXf, stay tuned!

Matrox' single adapter to drive eight monitors!Matrox single adapter to drive eight monitors!How excellent is this?  Matrox Unveils World’s First Single PCIe x16 to Power 8 Monitors.  I think the technology of graphics adapters has become more impressive than general purpose CPUs.  Perfect for digital slide viewing.  Coming soon to a desk near me (I hope :)

So I was working on a Linux machine today, and I wanted to change the priority of a background process, and I couldn't remember how exactly, and so I typed "man renice".  Which of course brings up the manual page for the "renice" command, which is how you change a process priority.  So Meg walks in and sees what I've typed, and starts laughing hysterically.  How could I possibly explain?

visualizing sound waves with fireVisualizing sound waves with fire.  Basic science concepts are definitely more fun to learn when you add open flames.  BTW this video violates the reverse pyramid dictum, but I did watch it.  Still if it began with flames, it would have been better.

Why does the universe look the way it does?  "Every time you put milk into your coffee and watch it mix and realize that you can't unmix that milk from your coffee, you are learning something profound about the Big Bang, about conditions in the very, very early universe.  This is just a giant clue that the real universe has given to us to how the fundamental laws of physics work.  We don't yet know how to put that clue to work."  Sean Carroll looks to be a worthy successor to Richard Feynman and Kip Thorne; a physicist who can share his insights in a way that enlightens rather than intimidates.

Really when you think about it, this is THE question.  There was so much order at time zero, order which creates energy, and the universe has been running on that order ever since.

The Lemur (click to enbiggen)Beautiful: The Lemur.

Slow Loris tickled :)Have you ever seen a Slow Loris tickled?  I didn't think so.  Cheers :)


November Sunday

Sunday,  11/15/09  11:33 PM

Just an amazing, gorgeous, fantastic, beautiful November Sunday.  Bright and clear, warm but with a crisp tang in the air, the angle of the shadows and the colors of the trees telling you it's fall.  Wow.

Cyclelog: Rockstore, third day in a row.  Blazed it.

Colts vs PatriotsDid you catch the Colts - Patriots game tonight?  Wow.  That's some of the best football I've seen, what a great game.  Who would have thought the Colts even had a chance?  I know Bill Belichick will be second-guessed for going for it on fourth down, but I think [statistically] it was the right call.  It sure made for a great game to watch!

Obama stumbles in JapanWant to see our wonderful President in action?  Check this out.  He might have been an articulate and thoughtful candidate, but he's a dazed and confused leader.  In Japan on a state visit, how could he not have an answer for a question about Hiroshima?

Powerline nails it, in reviewing The NYTimes' review of Sarah Palin's book:  "The 'colorful personal narrative' that most 'overshadow[ed] policy arguments and actual knowledge' in the 2008 campaign was that of Barack Obama, not Sarah Palin...  We are now living through the debacle that results from electing a President based on a 'personal narrative' rather than 'policy arguments and actual knowledge'."  I know there are those among you who disagree, but fewer with each passing day; President Obama has not distinguished himself.

Win 7Day two of my migration to Win 7.  Most of my issues have to do with migrating, period, not with Win 7.  So far all of the benefit I've seen has to do with a [somewhat] faster laptop, not with Win 7.  A lot of work to stay in one place...

BTW I have great advice for anyone who is doing something like this: keep a log.  Not only is it a great deal for problem determination, but it is a great record of what you did for the next time.  And there will be a next time.  I just use Notepad, simple one liners for each thing I do.  Try it, you will thank me.

iPod billboard reverts to whale muralI am happy about this: 13,750 sq ft iPod billboard goes missing.  Sure the Apple ads are cool, but that whale mural is way cooler...  everything doesn't have to turn into an ad for something, does it?  (Don't answer that :)

ZooBorn: baby white RhinoZooBorn of the weekend: a baby white Rhino.  How cute!


Mandelbrot in 3D

Sunday,  11/15/09  11:46 PM

The Mandelbulb
a 3D Mendelbrot Fractal set

the detail has no limit, zooming in anywhere yields more and more wild vistas

Truly amazing!


Monday,  11/16/09  09:50 PM

A sad and dreary day.  I do not know why, but I know that it was so.

Cyclelog: Rockstore, slow and tired, fourth day in a row.

Roger Simon: The importance of being Leiberman.  "I am increasingly becoming convinced he is the indispensable man in the US Congress, indeed in the entirety of our government, a welcome whiff of integrity in a morass of group think, self interest and outright dishonesty."  I agree.

Postal service posts $3.8B loss.  You and I are paying the difference.  Can't wait until healthcare is a subsidiary of the Federal Government, too.  Blech.

Win 7 - so far so goodWin 7 update of the day: so far, still so good.  Biggest problem right now is a weirdness with my blogging client, CityDesk.  Second biggest problem is Acronis, my backup software; might need a new version.  It has tendrils deep into the system.  I must tell you I am -> <- this close to disabling User Access Control, it serves no purpose and it is annoying.

Robert Farago, founder of TTAC, says goodbyeWow, TTAC bids farewell to it's founder.  TTAC of course is The Truth About Cars, a great blog that tells it like it is, all about ars and the car industry.  Robert Farago has left the building, and he will be missed.

Richard Dawkins totally looks like Emma WatsonWho knew?  Richard Dawkins totally looks like Emma Watson.  Well actually not totally, I'm going to say their nose and mouth are nearly identical, but their eyes are quite different...

Can we tell lossless from MP3?  No.  But you already knew that.  What's interesting is that people who knew more about audio gave better explanations about why lossless is better than MP3, but they were no better at telling them apart :)

Microsoft Store breaks into songScariest thing you'll see today: this video, apparently real, taken in a Microsoft Store.  You have to feel sorry for Microsoft, they are so tone deaf.  As John Guber says, "jiminy".

ZooBorn: a Hyena cubZooBorn of the day: a Hyena cub.


Origin of Species Revisited

Tuesday,  11/17/09  10:21 PM

Darwin and Origin of SpeciesHappy Anniversary to Origin of Species, Charles Darwin's amazing work, unquestionably the most important work of natural philosophy ever published.  On the occasion of the work's 150th anniversary, New Scientist has a great survey by Steve Jones, Origin of Species Revisited:

Unique among scientific theories, evolutionary biology finds its roots in a popular book by a single author.  Darwin presented a new and radical view of existence: that life has changed over time and space, in part through a simple process called natural selection.  To a modern reader Origin of Species seems lengthy indeed, with only a single illustration to enliven its 150,000 words.  But Darwin was a clear thinker and the book is an impressive piece of advocacy.

It is amazing that after all this time, all the evidence in favor, and all the debate, there are *still* so many people who don't think this theory is true.  Apparently about 40% of U.S. citizens.  Clear evidence of the ongoing influence of 2,000-year-old religious teachings in our present day lives.


Tuesday,  11/17/09  10:47 PM

A really long day, whew.  Up at 0400, drove down to Vista, and meetings and presentations and conferences all morning, over lunch, all afternoon, and over dinner.  I know, I know, queue the violins.

Cyclelog: squeezed in a tough 25 miler through Vista, down to Oceanside, and along the beach back to Carlsbad.  Man I needed that...

drinking and driving don't mix :)Maserati abuse!  If you drink, don't drive.  And if you drive like Michael Schumacher, don't mix a drink :)  [ thanks, Craig ]

Win 7 so far so goodToday was my first on the road with my new Win 7 laptop.  I enjoyed the battery life :)  Didn't have any problems with WiFi, which was good, but missed Sprint PCS (my new laptop has an Express Card slot, so I had to order a new Sprint modem).  Win 7 is rock solid at going to sleep and waking up, and hot docking.  I don't like the trackpad support; you have to click to give focus to a window before brushing the pad scrolls.  This might be a configuration option; must investigate.  Anyway still so far so good.

Actually I have to say there is one thing definitely better about Win 7: the way Explorer handles image thumbnails.  Under XP rendering thumbnails was excruiatingly slow and buggy.  Not any more.  Yay.

The eight best questions we got while raising money.  A guest post on TechCrunch by Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin.  They are all great.  Interesting that Roelof Botha of Sequoia is featured prominently; I remember Roelof as a colleague, he was CFO of PayPal in the early days.  Whip smart.  I am not surprised he is a successful investor :)

Bad Code Offset - 10,000 lines!The Alliance for Code Excellence is selling Bad Code Offsets.  I love it.

I know a few people / companies who should be investing in these...



Thursday,  11/19/09  09:39 PM

Yesterday was just about perfect.  I can't tell you why, but it left me very inspired.

"contemplation"This morning I slept in and actually did a little nothing for a while before “going to work”.  It was good.  Weird but good.  Somehow the world didn’t stop just because I didn’t check my email immediately.  I realize, *this* is the mindset I need for being productive.  Not the customer / email / status / phone kind of productive, but how-do-I-change-the-world productive.  It is so easy to fall into the spin cycle and lose the big picture.

Cyclelog, 11/18: Kessel run, 30 miles.  Took it easy in the fog.
Cyclelog, 11/19: Hidden valley, 25 miles.  Cold and dark and thoughtful...

vista: Eze and Cap FerratThe BMW Oracle team racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup apparently have bicycles, and used them to ride from Nice to Monaco, stopping to take the amazing picture of the ancient city of Eze at left.  That would be Cap Ferrat in the background, some of the most amazing real estate on Earth.  I have fond memories of a certain dinner in Eze itself, overlooking the Cote d'Azur...

66,666 miles at 66 mphYesterday I passed a milestone; 66,666 miles.  Naturally I did it at 66mph.  Unfortunately the temperature did not cooperate; as I was in San Diego, it was of course 70o :)

Paul Graham: Apple's Mistake.  "Software isn't like music or books.  It's too complicated for a third party to act as an intermediary between developer and user.  And yet that's what Apple is trying to be with the App Store: a software publisher."  For a company that has shown everyone it knows what it is doing, Apple sure does get a lot of criticism and advice.  The iPhone App Store sure doesn't feel like a mistake to me...

dinner with M: Michelin inspector in actionThe New Yorker interviews a Michelin inspector, and has Dinner with M.  An interesting peak behind the curtain.

Finally, here we have the Top Ten Internet Moments of the Decade.  See if you can make your own list first, before reading theirs...  man there are so many.  My own vote would go for Google AdWords, it seems like in fifty years looking back, that would be the most significant.


Quantum Sculptures

Thursday,  11/19/09  11:03 PM

These are awesome:
Julian Voss-Andreae's Quantum Sculptures
Please click through and check 'em out

I would love to have some of these :)

Julian Voss-Andreae's Quantum Sculptures

[ via Boing Boing ]


Friday,  11/20/09  05:33 PM

Another great day.  I'm on a streak!  Focusing on the big picture is making me happy :)

Cyclelog: Rockstore, 28 miles.  Ninth day in a row, not getting easier.

Job Seeking Advice.  I happened to come across this post I made in 2003, and I like it.  This advice might be worth what you've paid for it, but then again it might be worth a little bit more...

NY: the debt economyI disagree with his politics, mostly, but I still like James Surowiecki, the New Yorker's Financial Page columnist.  This week he tackles The Debt Economy; how the tax code encourages borrowing.  "The government doesn’t make people go into debt, of course.  It just nudges them in that direction.  Individuals are able to write off all their mortgage interest, up to a million dollars, and companies can write off all the interest on their debt, but not things like dividend payments."  Just about every effort the government makes to influence behavior via economic means backfires.  The current financial crisis was triggered by the government trying to help people who couldn't afford homes to buy them anyway.  It made just as little sense as it sounds. - Megan's showerI've told you before, but I love  It isn't just that they have every possible bulb.  It isn't just that I can order all sorts of bulbs just sitting here in my office.  It isn't just that they're cheap (when you include shipping, they're not).  No, the main reason is they remember.  After I've painstakingly figured out what kind of bulb is required for Megan's shower, I don't have to do it again.  That's worth a lot.

Lehninger's Principle of Biochemistry; due for Kindle-ization?WSJ on the opportunity for Kindle-izing textbooks.  (Actually the article is about used-textbook marketplaces, but you and I know, that's about as relevant as Blue-Ray was to the future of DVDs.)  This is of particular interest to me, with a kid in college and two more teed up to go, and a subject Shirley and I have discussed often.  I love it that they illustrate dense textbooks with Lehninger's Principles of Biochemistry, which I read cover-to-cover (and also used for pressing leaves :), and which I'm sure is sitting in a box in my garage, weighing down a shelf.

Apple products of the future: the iMakeMacLife considers Apple products of the future: the iMake.  This is brilliant; you know this will happen.  It is probably being happened in the halls of Apple right now.  Unfortunately MacLife doesn't consider the fascinating question of whether an iMake will be capable of "printing" another iMake.  What a great time to be alive :)

Google's Chrome OS is out, prompting a blizzard of blogospheric comment.

TechCrunch has a video: Chrome OS for Dummies.  Simple and fast.  Could work.

Computerworld: Ten Observations about Chrome OS.  Thought provoking.  I think Google OS computers will be given away, and ad-supported.  With local ads.  This could be quite disruptive to computers as we know them.

Mike Arrington: The Google Phone may be Data Only.  An interesting route around the cell providers.

John Gruber notes The OS Opportunity:  "PC makers who want to succeed should create their own OSes."  And also, Maybe instead of two cars, you just need a car and a bicycle:  "One thing that strikes me about Chrome OS and Litl is that neither bother trying to do everything Windows or Mac OS X can do.  Not even close.  I don’t think either even bothers trying to serve as one’s primary computer."  Actually I think increasingly people are using less and less of the local OS, and more and more online services.  For a lot of people, a Chrome OS device could be their primary computer.

John Biggs: What Chrome OS means for Netbooks.  They're screwed.  And so is Microsoft.

Want to try out the Chrome OS yourself?  Instructions for running it in a VM.

Trizilla out for a spin on San Diego BayThe BMW Oracle blog reports on an Afternoon Spin on San Diego Bay.  Excellent!

Good news: Drinking alcohol every day cuts the risk of heart disease in men by more than a third.  I am going to put this into action right away :)  Cheers!


yay, Christmas season

Friday,  11/20/09  10:38 PM

We live in Westlake Village, a little town of 8,000 people right on the border between L.A. and Ventura County.  The communal center of the town is the  Promenade Shopping Center, which each year features a giant Christmas Tree.  The Friday before Thanksgiving they always have a tree lighting ceremony, complete with schoolkids in a skit, singing of Christmas songs, arrival of Santa, etc.; finally everyone counts down, the tree is lit, fireworks are shot off, and celebration ensues.  It is kind of corny but lots of fun, and tonight we were there...

Yay, Christmas!

Westlake Village Prominade's tree is lit!

well really I guess I should say
Yay, Christmas season...



Saturday,  11/21/09  04:47 PM

A nice day of football watching, working, hanging out, and cycling...  what could be finer?

Cyclelog: Rockstore, 28 miles.  Tenth day in a row.

Well okay, two things could be finer, going out to dinner with Shirley, and going to our friends' Beaujolais Nouveau party.  And both are on tap! 

...but first, this...

fake animated progress barThings I hate: fake progress indicators.  You know what I mean, right?  Some kind of animated GIF or something, which makes you think something is happening, but it isn't really?  These seem to be cropping up all over, replacing actual progress indicators.  The animated mouse cursors in Windows 7 are a good example.

Oregon 44, Arizona 41, in OTDid you catch today's Oregon - Arizona game?  Wow, what a great game.  Unbelievable.  It seemed like Arizona had the upper hand all game but the Ducks hung around, and then at the end they tied it (!) and then they won it in overtime.  Wow.  I guess we're going to see the Ducks against Ohio State (who mauled hapless Michigan today) in the Rose Bowl.  So be it.  Quack!

PS too bad Stanford couldn't beat Cal, but that's the way the Pac10 has rolled this year, everyone is tough.  The best conference in the country.  It is so great that everyone plays everyone, and there's no bogus conference championship tournament.  As it should be.

SecondLife: "sorry, we're closed"The BBC wonders What happened to Second Life?  "Once upon a time Second Life had a Twitter level of hype.  Even those without a cartoon version of themselves couldn't plead ignorance due to blanket coverage in newspapers and magazines."  Turns out it was all just a game.  A good game, but no substitute for first life.  Nothing to see here, move along...

my amazing long days' journey into the Lagos de CovadongaI am very excited about this: the 2010 Vuelta is returning to Covadonga.  Way back in September 2007 I myself rode and watched a stage of the Vuelta on the amazing Lagos de Covadonga climb: long day's journey into LagosOne of the most amazing days of my life, and it was fun to relive it rereading this post.  I cannot wait for the Vuelta, how excellent!

ZooBorns: tiny sea turtlesZooBorns of the day: tiny sea turtles!


outside the billboard

Sunday,  11/22/09  08:28 PM

thinking outside the billboard
I like it


Sunday,  11/22/09  08:56 PM

Another beautiful day in paradise, spent watching football (three games back-to-back), working, and generally enjoying.  After a generally cool year (especially summer) this has been a hot Fall, at least so far...

Cyclelog: Rockstore *again*, 28 miles.  Me and a kazillion motos.  Eleventh day of riding in a row, and it is still not easier.

Tenuta dell'Ornellaia - an amazing SuperTuscanDinner last night was exceptional, L'Opera in Long Beach, one of our favorites.  Had a 2004 Tenuta dell'Ornellaia which was unbelievable.  At this point I am rarely astonished by a wine, but this was so powerful and delicious, we were amazed.

Beaujolais Nouveau - est arrive!After which, we went to our friends Benny and Jan's Beaujolais Nouveau party, which was really fun; I am not necessarily a fan of Beaujolais, but my education in French wines continues.  And it was a great time seeing some old sailing friends.

Barack Obama...  we elected a candidate.  Run run run.

And so to get a health care bill passed, the Democratic leadership in the Senate has bought Mary Landrieu's vote for $100M.  Disgusting.  Federal aid to a state (Louisiana), disguised as healthcare reform.  Blech.

Turns out Mary Landrieu wants us to know, her vote didn't just cost $100M, it cost $300M.  Oh.  Triple Blech.

Neuhaus T-2 tube amplifier - audio heavenNeuhaus Labs T-2 amplifier uses tubes.  "Of course, the T-2 Amplifier has ruined my life.  All my other audio equipment now sounds like ass."  I could so get into tube amps.  But better I don't go there.

the Sea Cucumber, amazingIs this really an animal?  The curiously named Sea Cucumber.  Amazing.


share the road

Sunday,  11/22/09  09:54 PM

You are fat and especially lazy for thinking this could possibly be anything like me at all.
Share the road!

(thanks, Marc ;)


Olympus BioScapes

Monday,  11/23/09  09:13 PM

Olympus BioScapes competition winners

(who needs amazing 3D fracals when we have real life?)


Monday,  11/23/09  09:47 PM

A quiet week, lots of people on vacation, lots of people shifting to "Holiday mode".  Spending time on planning for next year, and reflecting on this year.  It was a tough one for all of us, but could have been much worse.

Cyclelog: yet another Rockstore.  Twelveth day in a row but who's counting :)

Where has the Obama thrill gone?  "A righteous anger about an Obama trifecta - of serial apologies and bows abroad, massive borrowing and deficit spending, and government-take overs of private spheres of life - is swelling up in the electorate."  I see it all around me, the disillusionment is palpable.

Obama: fading fastXeni Jardin: Hope is fading.  If President Obama's lost Xeni, then he's lost.

If only Barack Obama were more like Sarah Palin.  "The animating spirit that electrified his political movement has sputtered out..."  I agree with Glenn Reynolds' take: "Obama's 'charisma' was based on voter narcissism - people excited not just about electing a black President, but about themselves, voting for a black President."

Concord C1 QuantumGravity watch, a must have for kazillionairesUnbelievable watch of the day: the Concord C1 QuantumGravity.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought.  Despite the massive size I would love to wear this watch; it is so bizarre...  the price isn't given, but I am sure if you have to ask, you can't afford it.  Limited edition of *ten*.

Virgin Galactic's spaceplaneWow, this is excellent: Virgin Galactic's Space-Grazing Aircraft Is Ready for Liftoff.  [Somewhat] the start of space tourism, right?  (Although we must note, this spacecraft is not going into orbit or anything, just high enough to reach "space" and return.  Trips to the Moon and Mars will be coming soon :)


healthcare usability 2009

Monday,  11/23/09  10:09 PM

Healthcare Human Factors: the state of healthcare technology in 2009.  Pretty sobering.  Yes, we need to work on this...

User-interface design is not easy.  I spent a good part of the day in conversation with a colleague as we tried to get rid of one checkbox.  Every single question you ask a user makes things harder, and every control is a question.


Wednesday,  11/25/09  09:06 PM

Yesterday was one of my long before-dawn to after-dusk days, whew.  Productive but I was too tired to blog :)  And today I slept in, took it easy, coded for a while, hung out (all my kids are home!), and it was not productive at all, except in mental health.

Cyclelog, 11/24: Kessel run, 20 miles.  Max windy.
Cyclelog, 11/25: Rockstore, 28 miles.  In the moonlight.  Beautiful.
(BTW 14 days in a row now...  and not getting easier...)

Oaks Grandparents' Day concertThis morning my kids' school Oaks Christian had their annual Grandparents Day.  It was really corny but really nice.  They had a little concert - Meg played! - and the highlight was when one of the teachers asked the auditorium full of grandparents "how many of you served in WWII?"  A fair number of hands went up.  Wow.  That was sixty-five years ago.  Imagine - just try, because it is hard - imagine what those people have seen in their lifetimes...

Apple's iTunes App StoreIf I asked you to name the most successful software distribution mechanism of all time, what would you say?  Of all time.  You would say - you would have to conclude, after reflection - that it was Apple's iTunes App Store.  I don't even know what you would say was in second place.  And yet, all the blogospheric punditry insist on 1) criticizing Apple, and 2) making all kinds of suggestions for improvement, and 3) criticizing Apple for not listening to suggestions for improvement.  If it isn't broken, don't fix it, especially if it is the most successful effort of all time!  Sheesh.

Yay.  In fact double or maybe triple yay.  Embracing the obvious: Nuclear Power is Now Okay.  "'Nuclear power - long considered environmentally hazardous - is emerging as perhaps the world’s most unlikely weapon against climate change, with the backing of even some green activists who once campaigned against it.'  Considered by whom, exactly?  Well, by the green activists who never had a good explanation for why nuclear power wasn’t the solution to the hysteria they were creating over global warming and to the more realistic concern about lessening our dependence on foreign oil."  The longer I live, the more things I've believed all along are being embraced by others :)

San Onofre nuclear power plant - in the middle of my "Kessel Run"Parenthetically, you guys know I often do a ride I call my Kessel run, from Dana Point harbor down along the beach to Camp Pendleton.  This takes me right by the San Onofre nuclear power plant.  Every time I ride by it, I think; man, we should have these everywhere.  And no, my fingertips are not glowing :)

Windows 7 report: I am fully migrated and happy.  I am getting used to (and even liking) the new taskbar, and new alt-tab behavior.  I am enjoying the better handling of images and thumbnails, and minor performance improvements everywhere.  I like that I can sleep/unsleep and dock/undock with confidence.  Compatibilty has not been an issue.  The whole thing was a non-thing on which I will no longer report.

The numbers game: valuing Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  Oh, and AOL (shortly to be spun out as, well, AOL) is fighting a downward spiral, as it struggles to get back in the game.  Less than ten years ago AOL was bigger than Yahoo and Microsoft, and Google was not even in the conversation.


reasons to carry a camera

Wednesday,  11/25/09  09:15 PM

reasons to carry a camera
how great are these?

[ received from my Mom, thanks! ]

candidate for ZooBorn of the year

I know just how they feel

I think this is my favorite :)

WTF picture of the year

sharing is good

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday,  11/26/09  10:21 AM

Good morning y'all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Looking at the posts of Thanksgivings past, I see it is usually a day of contemplation for me.  Might be too early for that, so stay tuned; perhaps football, food, and a little ride (all planned) will yield some philosophy.

For now it is enough to note that it is a beautiful day, and I hope you enjoy it wherever you are, quietly and peacefully with those you love...

Speaking of which, one of my important tasks for the weekend is making our annual Christmas Cards...  which will probably feature the picture above (Nicole, Megan, Alexis, Jordan, Shirley).

My girls are definitely the thing for which I am most thankful!


Friday,  11/27/09  10:03 AM

Good morning y'all!  Hope this finds you well and recovering nicely from a great Thanksgiving dinner.  I must tell you Shirley and the girls outdid themselves last night, we had a marvelous meal, very traditional with turkey and stuffing and bread pudding (!) and vegetables and so on...  accompanied by a nice Jumilla.  And finished off with pumpkin pie, apple pie, and cheesecake, a la mode.  Just typing these words makes me feel full all over again.

Cyclelog (pre-dinner of course!): Rockstore, 28 miles, *again*.  Wow 15 days in a row and still not getting easier.  We'll see what today brings.  You might think I would be getting sick of this ride and you might be right.

Today is my annual brush with death as I put up Christmas lights.  Fortunately it is a beautiful day, not raining and not windy, both factors which have made previous years more interesting.  I will be inspired by Carson Williams' amazing "Wizards of Winter" display from 2005, YouTube at right.  I plan to take it slow and easy :)

I keep accumulating links about the Obamaniacs, but I'm in a good mood so I'm not going to share them.  I will say, it is becoming increasingly obvious to many (as it was to me all along) that John Bolton was right.

pie chart - um, noOkay, this is funny.  It defies summarization but you must click through.  You will thank me.  [ and I will thank Daring Fireball for pointing it out ]

Tim Bray makes a great observation about using his Android smartphone: "A huge amount of most people’s workload is manageable given anything with a decent email client and browser.  For now, I can’t really use the phone for anything creative: Writing, or coding, or photography. I wonder when and if that might change?"  Other than sending email, which is arguably a creative act, you can't originate content on a smartphone.  Okay, you can take pictures, crummy ones, which you have to edit later on a PC to make them halfway presentable.  But can I post to my blog?  Not yet.  And coding is clearly out of the question.  For now.  But like Tim, I have no doubt this will change...

the Matrix in Lego!The Matrix in Lego.  In HD no less.  Unbelievable.  Watch it now.  [ via Kottke ]

Space Shuttle Atlantis and Russian Soyuz docked side-by-side on the ISSThe Space Shuttle Atlantis landed this morning, boom boom.  We've become so used to this; the amazing fact that we can launch a spaceplane, have it dock with a space station for eleven days, and then return to Earth safely raises hardly an eyebrow anymore.  It costs a lot, but it works.  Check out these amazing pictures taken while the Shuttle was docked on the ISS and astronauts worked on the outside.  Scenes from a movie.  My favorite is the one showing both the Shuttle and the Russian Soyuz docked side-by-side.  How cool is that?


lights up!

Friday,  11/27/09  06:33 PM


lights up!

Lights up!
(I survived... thanks for thinking of me :)


about nothing

Saturday,  11/28/09  12:56 PM

This morning I did something very unusual - nothing.  I woke up at 6:30, and instead of getting up or going back to sleep, I grabbed a book my Kindle and started reading.  That led to a long lazy morning of reading, a long lazy shave while reading, and a long lazy session of sitting and doing nothing with Bo on my lap (our guinea pig).  Finally I had enough of long laziness and here I am in my office blogging about nothing.  The day is not off to a flying start.


about smartphones

Saturday,  11/28/09  01:02 PM

The other day I noted Tim Bray's observation that he could use his Android smartphone for consuming content, but not for creating it.  Which sparked an email exchange with my friend Gary:

{G} Note that I posted on my blog in 2004 with my Treo.

{me} There’s “blogging” as in the technical act of making a post (which I’ve been able to do for a long time too), and “blogging” as in the creative act of sitting and reviewing links and reading pages and editing photos and assembling an interesting post (which I still cannot do from my smartphone).  I will say with my Pre I am closer than I was with my Treo.

{G} Because the Pre/iPhone/Android phones allow a level of browsing and interactivity that were previously reserved for PCs.  Really, smart phones are the biggest threat to MS ever.  OTOH, for creating content, you want a PC, as you've observed.

{me} I accept that more and more of what could only be done on a PC before can now be done on smartphones.  And I guess I figured eventually everything which could be done on a PC would be doable on a smartphone.  Years ago I moved from a desktop to a laptop and never looked back.  Still, when docked I do have a fullsize keyboard, standalone mouse, and [maybe most important] a 24” monitor.  Sometimes on the road when I am using my laptop, I miss my desk.

{G} Well, there's a Nikon camera for sale now that has a projector built-in, and projectors are shrinking, so that could work.  But since my current NeXT machine (iPhone) is really the same as the one I had in 1990, but has more storage and processing power, I think the more likely scenario is that I just lay the phone on the desk (or really, keep it in my pocket) and my keyboard and large screen light up, and I continue computing, with a desktop metaphor as we have today, if that remains useful.

my blogstation - note Pre circled at centerI’ve been giving this a lot of thought.  An interesting subject.  Consider my blogstation, pictured at right, with my Pre circled in the center.

I think the difference with a phone is the communication bandwidth.  You can view just about anything now, but you still have a teeny view of it.  Perhaps when we have projectors built into phones (which I’m sure are coming) then you can view more of it, and consuming content will be more or less the same as with a PC.  As far as input, multitouch is all very exciting, but most content creation involves typing, and typing on a phone just isn’t like typing on a PC.  Yet.  If it ever will be, the physical size of fingers is what it is.  Seems like there are breakthroughs yet to be made there (virtual keyboards?).  Maybe it will take a mind-to-device link other than physical finger motion.

There was a time I would have found it amazing to be reading and composing email on a phone, and yet...  maybe next I'll be reading RSS and posting to my blog.  Stay tuned!


Saturday,  11/28/09  08:58 PM

A really nice day - it started lazily, and it's ending that way (I'm watching yesterday's Colorado/Nebraska game, with two games from yesterday and three games from today left to view!), and in between I actually accomplished some "stuff".  Best of all, I rearranged travel for tomorrow (I'm flying to Chicago for the RSNA conference) so that I'm flying on a redeye instead of all through the day.  So I get tomorrow back!  For more laziness :)

Flip video cameraCyclelog: back up Rockstore, with a wrinkle; I attached Megan's Flip video camera to the handlebars, and I got some great footage of the climb and the subsequent descent down Decker.  Now I just need to install Premiere so I can edit it, and then YouTube here I come...  stay tuned.  The Flip is a wonder; so clean and easy, and it *works*.  Created a new product category all by itself overnight.

It just came to me today, suddenly: Wow, it's almost my birthday!  Huh.  Last year as I was about to turn The Big Five-O (dum dum dum) it was very much on my mind, as a bad horrible not so good thing.  This year, so far, is the big so what.  0x33 :)

L'Hydroptere vs KitesurferVideo of the day: L'Hydroptere vs Kitesurfer...  in a sailing speed bake-off.  Excellent stuff.  I still think L'Hydroptere is the most amazing sailboat I've ever seen, and that includes Alinghi's mega-cat and Oracle's mega-tri.  This thing goes 50 knots in waves, stably, for miles on end.  Amazing.

I am heading off to Chicago - downtown, featuring the Michigan Ave. shopping district (aka The Magnificent Mile) - and it will be most interesting to see how busy it is with pre-Christmas shoppers... the combination of the economy and online shopping seems to have diluted the "black Friday" flood this year, and I doubt it means everyone is just late; I think it means everyone is holding back.  The recovery is not uniform and not trusted, especially with the Obama administrations missteps in every direction.

Antonio Rangel studies the neural basis for self-controlCaltech's excellent Engineering & Science Magazine has a new electronic format, check it out, very nice.  A Flash player which doesn't suck.  In the latest issue an article which is most relevant on Thanksgiving weekend: The Neural Basis for Self-Control.  Antonio Rangel (pictured at right): "Many of the world’s problems are the result of faulty decision making. If we could understand how the brain makes decisions, then maybe we could make better choices... I’m interested in self-control, which is at the core of many of the most pertinent public-policy and health issues in the United States."  I'm interested in pumpkin pie myself :)

Can I just say, eBay really sucks now?  Okay, thanks, because it does.  Yeah it is still *the* place to buy and sell online because of the huge network effect, but the UI is horrible.  So complicated, so many little nickel-and-dime extra options.  I can remember when it was not so; eBay's UI was a marvel.  It has cruftified badly over time.

Interesting...  a company like eBay creates a network effect by out-executing its competition, but then stops executing, because it doesn't have to anymore.  Like Microsoft.  Like IBM before Microsoft.  Could Apple be next?

PS gave up on Colorado/Nebraska as it is now 24-7 Huskers at the half.  On to Boise/Nevada on the blue carpet.  In pouring rain.  As Boise jumps ahead to a 13-0 lead halfway into the first quarter, may have to switch again...  (I love Thanksgiving weekend!)  Um now it is 19-0.  Wow, Boise are for real.


The Cornell Winery

Sunday,  11/29/09  08:16 PM

The Cornell WineryOn my daily cycling rides I often pass through the cute little antique town of Cornell, clustered on Mulholland Highway near the base of the Rockstore climb.  It is a grouping of about ten buildings which have the air of the old west about them; included is a former post office (with stables!) which is now a restaurant, called The Old Place, and an ex-tavern recently converted into The Cornell Winery

Cornell Winery tasting notesSo the other day I rode past the winery for about the 50th time, and decided finally to go in and check it out.  Really cool. 

But I couldn't do any tasting mid-ride, so later that night Shirley and I went back, and we had a most delightful time tasting some pretty decent *local* wines... (our favorite was the Cantara Tempranillo, a wine from Camarillo, which was really great; so we bought some :)

...ah, serendipity...


Sunday,  11/29/09  08:57 PM

Well we've reached the end of a long weekend - a great Thanksgiving weekend :) - and now its the start of a really long week for me.  Tonight I'm flying a redeye to Chicago for the annual Radiological Society of North American conference, the biggest medical imaging show in the world, and then on to Houston for a meeting with a customer, then to Vista for a board meeting.  Whew.  Oh yeah and squeezed somewhere in there is my birthday.  Who knows if I'll have time to blog, but in the meantime, it's all happening...

reconstructed temprature graph - but is this real data?I guess this "climategate" thing really has legs...  I'm not a student of the data in question, or the way it has been manipulated, but clearly the scientists involved where not behaving like scientists.  Eric Raymond has looked at some code and finds the comment: Apply a VERY ARTIFICIAL correction for decline!!.  His observation seems apt: "this, people, is blatant data-cooking, with no pretense otherwise."  That's not science; you're supposed to want the truth no matter what, not reason backward from some political point of view.

Unfortunately I'm sure there are some real scientists who will get tarred with the same brush.  Too bad science has always taken a back seat to politics when it comes to global warming.

Obama cabinet: private sector experienceNick Schultz notes that Obama's cabinet is substantially more slanted toward public experience than any which have come before...  not a good sign, considering how much worse government is than private industry at just about anything.

That same administration is shattering records for spending in its first year.  $3.5T, vs. $1.8T for Bush and $1.6T for Clinton.  This will end badly.

Charles Krauthammer says what I say:  Kill the bills. Do healthcare reform right: "The United States has the best health care in the world - but because of its inefficiencies, also the most expensive.  The fundamental problem with the 2,074-page Senate health-care bill (as with its 2,014-page House counterpart) is that it wildly compounds the complexity by adding hundreds of new provisions, regulations, mandates, committees, and other arbitrary bureaucratic inventions."  Man, seems like there is low hanging fruit, like tort reform and taxing employee benefits; why not just pick that?

Trizilla flying off San DiegoTrizilla's San Diego testing is done!  They have packed up the magnificent flying machine and it is on its way to Valencia, Spain for the American's Cup, for the first trimaran vs catamaran match race in the Cup's history.  (I can't believe I typed that, but it seems to be true.)  I guess that means my chances of riding on the craft have diminished, at least for now, since I have no plans to visit Spain.  Anyway let's say good by and good luck with one more picture...  (as usual please click to enbiggen.)

The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because retailers have traditionally sold enough by then to be "in the black"; last Friday was apparently record-breaking for PayPal, as a total of $595M was spent online.  Meanwhile the malls were busy but not overloaded.

ZooBorn: an Ocelot kittenZooBorn of the day: an Ocelot kitten.

Don't know when I'll see you next, but please stay tuned...


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this date in:
About Me

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