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Archive: December 2009

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RSNA, just like I pictured it...

Wednesday,  12/02/09  05:59 PM

This past Monday and Tuesday I made my annual pilgrimage to the RSNA show in Chicago (Radiological Society of North America).  This huge conference features about 50,000 attendees and nearly 1,000 exhibiting companies in the largest medical imaging show in the world.   Some of the larger exhibitors have city-block-sized booths with hundreds of employees, including bars and restaurants, conference rooms, presentation theaters, and all kinds of state-of-the-art medical imaging equipment.

Digital Pathology isn’t a big deal at this show – yet – but many of the Radiology imaging companies are aware of digital pathology and some of them have even begun their own product development, such as GE and Philips.  It is always interesting to go and see what the industry is doing, and especially to compare what has changed year-over-year.  Of course one of the biggest changes this year was that the whole show was scaled back; most companies plan their presence at the show a year in advance, and given the economic downturn at the end of last year, booked smaller spaces for this year.  As a result the overall square footage of exhibitors was less than in years past, and somewhat less spectacular.  It is still an amazing showcase.

What follows are a few notes and pictures from the show (please click any picture to enlarge)… 

DSCF5318Welcome indeed! RSNA, just like I pictured it.

DSCF5319McCormick Center Grand Concourse never fails to impress.

DSCF5462Good to know.

DSCF5324The show is smaller this year, but not small; as always the sea of booths is amazing.

DSCF5325GE has a smaller presence, but not small; they still have a city-block-sized booth.  This year their theme is "healthy imagination".

DSCF5326Toshiba's presence is as large as ever.

DSCF5327... exhibit booths stretch off into the distance ...

DSCF5328... in every direction ...

DSCF5321A meeting with Stephen Willaert of Barco.  They use Aperio's ImageScope viewer to demonstrate their 3840 x 2400 pixel 800 lumen 16-bit color 30" display.  Cool!

DSCF5322I like this Hologic navigation pad.  Something like this dedicated to digital pathology reviewing would be great.

DSCF5366Okay, time for a walk around the hall!

DSCF5331GE Healthcare - here we go...

DSCF5333Very cool projection screen. The display technology for exhibits keeps getting better.

DSCF5345If this RSNA had a theme, ''women's healthcare'' was it. Featured everywhere...

DSCF5347GE is definitely in the imaging hardware business. Note FDA 510(k) pending sign.

DSCF5348Inside GE's innovation pavilion. Omnyx were exhibiting their digital pathology system here.  I managed to get myself kicked out :)

DSCF5350Check out this display.  Amazing.  Would be great for reviewing slides!

DSCF5351Healthcare IT is an increasingly big emphasis for GE

DSCF5335Hitachi has some amazing MRI machines.

DSCF5337Invivo, another MRI vendor. I like their ''private'' meeting room.

DSCF5338Nuance - a speech-to-text company. A few too many concurrent messages in this display, I think.

DSCF5339Bracco had a huge booth. Among other things, have software for *improving* image quality.

DSCF5436Vital Images - 3D workstations. Had a nice meeting with them, they're expanding into other 'ologies' and have a nice 3rd party API.

DSCF5340Hitachi's presence was scaled back this year. Note empty carpet areas.

DSCF5341IHE is an initative sponsored by NEMA (the DICOM people) to demonstrate inter-operabilty between vendors.

DSCF5342Thinking Systems - CAD solutions (pattern recognition).  I love the 256 processor activity map (displayed between the people in the foreground).

DSCF5343As usual remote MRI trucks on display, but this year a focus on breast cancer.

DSCF5344Konica Minolta had their usual array of amazing digital radiology machines.

DSCF5346Varian - emphasis on software solutions for *Oncologists*

DSCF5352One of the more interesting and different booth designs...

DSCF5430NightHawk - outsourced radiology services - their presence has expanded

DSCF5353NightRays - lots of other companies are in the ''Nighthawk'' business now also.

DSCF5438Imaging on call - customized teleradiology (aka outsourced :)

DSCF5355Fuji has had the same booth for years, but still big and impressive.

DSCF5357These photomultiplier tubes from a Chinese company are like fine sculpture.  Also would make a great chess set :)

DSCF5358The huge Toshiba booth was packed. Now featuring women's health prominently.

DSCF5361Toshiba's industrial design is awesome!

DSCF5360biospace - X-Ray machines you can stand in! Whole body images, cool.

DSCF5362DR Systems - a San Diego -based PACS company, we might work together...

DSCF5364Merge Healthcare - a company or an imperative? Huge presence as always...

DSCF5365Quantum digital radiology systems - note emphasis on 'made in U.S.A.'...

DSCF5367Cerner has a huge presence, primarily featuring HIS and RIS solutions.

DSCF5368Sentinelle featured a lot of pink-colored devices, saw that a lot...

DSCF5369Pink was definitely in vogue at this show, even pharmas like Bayer got into it.

DSCF5372Shimadzu's mobile digital X-ray machine, compact and cool.

DSCF5373Medrad is a PACS company moving into EHR.

DSCF5374Brit Systems - best penguins at the show :)

DSCF5410Digrad makes 'test phantoms'; targets used for calibrating digital radiology systems.  Perhaps there will be 'test phantoms' for digital pathology too some day...

DSCF5417Bard - handheld breast core biopsy devices. These are used to create the needles analyzed by our customers.

DSCF5418Carestream had a strong entry into the 'lifelike display' sweepstakes, wow. 32 monitors stitched together.

DSCF5420Imris systems for neurosurgery - imaging and surgery on one table.

DSCF5425TeraRecon sells systems which manage radiology imaging workflow.

DSCF5441An increasing number of Asian firms exhibit at RSNA, including many from Korea...

DSCF5443Canon had their usual large presence; they make components for other vendors.

DSCF5445Philips had a HUGE exhibit area, with lots of cool 9-panel displays.

DSCF5446Philips' industrial design is pretty cool. Note new message: ''people focused healthcare''.

DSCF5450Philips had an interesting ''workflow pavilion'' with maps showing how their products integrate. Nicely done.

DSCF5447SonoScape - a Chinese ultrasound vendor.

DSCF5448Amicas is a leading EHR vendor; always like this poster at their booth...

DSCF5451The Agfa city. They'll take you there (wherever 'there' is :) ...

DSCF5452... especially if 'there' is image-enabled EHR. They need Aperio for digital pathology :)

DSCF5453McKesson had a somewhat scaled back presence, booth was full of people.  Interesting new tagline: 'take financial control'.

DSCF5454Sony has radiology solutions, and entered the 'huge lifelike display' contest with a strong entry...

DSCF5456Virtual Radiologic's teleradiology booth seemed scaled back from previous years.

DSCF5457Dalsa - Camera vendor (!) and also make digital X-ray panels.

DSCF5414Time to cross the bridge to the Lakeside Plaza... no shortage of attendees.

DSCF5415... keep going straight through the RSNA administrative booths ...

DSCF5434... and there's Lake Michigan! Calm and clear today.

DSCF5433This year the Lakeside Center had exhibitors also, instead of a big CME area.

DSCF5422The winner, largest display - Siemens. Their huge booth had a huge monitor running from one end...

DSCF5426... to the other.

DSCF5423Siemens tagline: 'images, my way.'

DSCF5437Covidien is one of the leaders in FNA equipment.

DSCF5439Sectra - another company focused on women's health.

DSCF5459The inner guts of an MRI - very cool. The rollers have to conduct power into the rotating center.

DSCF5461Quest International - support for imaging monitors. And they have a pretty big one of their own!

DSCF5429Hologic turned pink for the show as well...

DSCF5431... they seem to be marketing to patients as well as to hospitals.

DSCF5432A sobering reminder of what RSNA is all about.

DSCF5464Always the coolest part of visiting McCormick Center - the programmed water fountains :)

DSCF5500And the coolest part of attending RSNA in Chicago is always... Michigan Avenue, dressed for Christmas!

Every year RSNA gets a little more interesting for Digital Pathology; wonder what it will be like next year?  Stay tuned...


Wednesday,  12/02/09  06:22 PM

A filter pass made while flying from Houston back to L.A...  (offline, will be posted when I land :)  It has been a great trip so far, with my annual visit to RSNA, and a great meeting with an impressive customer this morning (wow! was it only this morning?)  And now on to L.A, a late dinner in Encinitas, and then... my birthday!  The big Five-one, which does not feel big at all; and I've switched to hex anyway so it is 33 :)

dinner at Sepia in ChicagoDinner report: Sepia, in Chicago was amazing...  pictured at left, flat iron steak, bone marrow beignets, braised greens, w Callejo Ribera del Duero and of course my trusty Kindle, serving up Nine Dragons.  It doesn't get better.

So Monday was "Cyber Monday" - did you do any shopping online?  I didn't, but I think maybe I was the only one; I heard that 96M people bought something, 4% from smartphones.  Cool.

Apparently Amazon "won", with a 44% year-over-year increase.

The Sun: U.K.'s best handheld :)This is clever; The Sun celebrate their 40th anniversary with iPhone-like ads.  When you look at it this way, a newspaper really does have some advantages.  I particularly liked the emphasis on speed; once you have on in hand, there is literally no waiting for content.

Stephen Baker, blogger at Blogspotting for BusinessWeek, is moving to TheNumerati.  Adjust your bookmarks.  I guess having bloggers was an interesting experiment for BW, but they found there is no money in blogging.  Sorry :)  It is fun though!

Square - a new payment service which uses audio input jacks to take credit cardsSquare looks really cool; a new payment services which uses a small [square] peripheral to read credit cards and converts their contents into sound, which can be used by any device with an audio input jack.  Clever.  I'm not sure credit cards will be with us long term - phones themselves will probably replace them - but for now, this is a good way to replace cash with debit cards.

White House with a pink ribbonFrom Slate: Slap on a pink ribbon, call it a day.  "That little loop seems to have replaced real feminism, which is why women's health priorities are so screwed up."  I will say, having just attended RSNA, that awareness of breast cancer is at an all-time high.  Which might be more important than "real feminism".

Photos of Dubai in decline...Amazing photos of Dubai in decline.  Wow, that bubble has burst at last.  [ via kottke ]

The biggest story of 2009?  The rise of the virtual newsroom.  I'm not even sure it's really a 2009 story, but definitely it has become apparent this year that the virtual army of amateurs is out-executing the mainstream media.  I think going into the tank for Obama  in 2007-08 was really the MSM's shark jump...

I like this, from David Pescovitz: "Beschizza's Law: 'Any sufficiently advanced reality is indistinguishable from Photoshop.'"  Just wait 'till we have augmented reality, then the line will really blur.

Related; I like Paul Spinrad's idea for an opening title sequence:  The following titles fade in and are crossed out one by one:

  • A True Story
  • Based On A True Story
  • Inspired By A True Story
  • Inspired By Real Events
  • Inspired By Reality
  • Partially Inspired By Reality

This could totally describe my blog!

Picture of the day, this amazing sunset from Jason Weisberger.  In me it inspires a feeling of serene peace.  Please enjoy!

peaceful sunset


Cycling at Stanford

Wednesday,  12/02/09  06:51 PM

Cycling at Stanford

... left on my desk by a friend ...
I like it


Happy Birthday for me

Thursday,  12/03/09  09:01 AM

happy birthday for me - I am rocking :)I am having a perfect birthday, thank you for asking.

The best thing about this birthday is all my friends; thank you for all the cards and emails and Facebook notes and voicemails and smiles. 

I am ready to have another one tomorrow.


Friday,  12/04/09  05:10 PM

I had a great birthday yesterday, and because I didn't get home until last night it has extended into today, with a nice dinner planned tonight.  What could be better.

Cyclelog: up and down Decker Canyon to Mulholland, survived a wild flat while descending.

John Stossel: Who creates jobs?  "Today, the White House holds its 'Jobs Summit' stunt.  It’s typical Washington-think: assemble interest groups and concoct special tax credits and handouts to the politically connected.  What conceit.  The political class think that economies revolve around them, that Washington makes things happen, that politicians are the most important players...  They and the political class can’t imagine a decentralized world where good things happen…without them.  But in the real world, that’s exactly how good things happen, and how jobs are created.  When government sets simple rules that everyone understands and then gets out of the way, free people create jobs."  Dead on, read the whole thing.

motley CRU: have humans really caused global warming?The American: The meaning of motley CRU.  "It’s time for climate science to clean house. Whatever investigations come of Climategate, they should not stop with the United Kingdom."  I sure wish I could get a clean bearing on all this; so far the discussions in the blogosphere have generated more heat than light. 

Tim Oren has a good layman's analysis.  "The Army of Davids is beginning to assemble; we're going to end up with transparency one way or another."  Indeed.

Meanwhile: Climate skeptics welcome U-turn.  It isn't so much that climate scientists were wrong, as that they were dishonest.  It will take a lot of openness to get people's confidence back.

conversation! are you being boring?This is important: How to tell if you are being boring:

  1. Repeated, perfunctory responses.
  2. Simple questions.  People who are bored ask simple questions.
  3. [Lack of] Interruption.  Interruption is actually a good sign.
  4. [Lack of] Requests for clarification.
  5. Imbalance of talking time.
  6. Abrupt changes in topic.
  7. Body position.  People with a good connection generally turn to face each other.
  8. Audience posture.  People slouch and lean when bored.

I am scared to death of being boring, I would rather be despised than ignored.

the eighteen strangest roads in the world: #1 is the Hana HighwayNot boring: the eighteen strangest roads in the world.  I've actually driven #1, the Hana Hiway on Maui.  Beautiful but not for those in a hurry :)

Gentlemen of BacongoAlso not boring: The Gentlemen of Bacongo, about an extreme fashion subculture in the Congo slums.  Wow.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought.

Interestingly and strangely, Google gets into the DNS business.  Huh.  Not sure whether to immediately switch over everything or wait.  The consensus seems to be that it is faster.  I think I'll let this soak, I don't need to be an early adopter.

Jeff Atwood: Version 1 sucks, but ship it anyway.  (I'm pretty sure he isn't referring to Google DNS :)  This is good advice for anyone with a web-based service, you can learn and iterate rapidly.  If you're shipping turnkey software into the field, you have to make sure version 1 doesn't completely suck before you ship it, because learning and iterating is going to be slower and costlier.  Overall this is one of the biggest benefits of online software delivery, for both customers and vendors, and it is often unappreciated.

What?  No foosball, today's startups are smaller, leaner, faster.  They're too busy shipping version 1 I guess.

Salon's Scott Rosenberg: Memories of a Paywall Pioneer.  I've subscribed to Salon for years; it is one of the few things I've ever paid to read online, and I did it mostly as an experiment.  It would appear that ads are the only viable business model for online content.  And as Scott notes, once a site erects a paywall, it is really hard to take it down later.

surprised kitteh :)Finally, today we have surprised kitteh.  Click through for the best 17s of your day, I promise :)


birthdays are probably necessary

Saturday,  12/05/09  10:48 AM

thanks guys
this one has been great, I'd have one every month

(I am considering alternate celestial events, an Earth orbit around the Sun is so conventional.)


Sunday,  12/06/09  09:39 AM

Ah, a lazy Sunday.  A freezing cold overcast lazy Sunday.  A day on which I have a number of things to accomplish, including decorating our newly acquired Christmas tree, preparing for a long week, and getting in a ride, freezing cold overcast lazy Sunday.  But first, a teeny bit o' bloggin'...

#2 Alabama beats #1 Florida to win the SECSo yesterday we had some of the best college football of the year, or maybe ever; I'm going to count Thursday night's Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State, since I watched it yesterday, which Oregon won 37-33 to win the Pac 10 and go to the Rose Bowl, then Cincinnati eeked out a 45-44 final over Pittsburgh to win the Big East and a BCS berth (great game), then the biggie, #2 Alabama soundly defeating #1 Florida 32-13  to win the SEC and play in the BCS championship; I think Mark Ingram solidified his inside track on this year's Heisman too.  Oh and then, the best game of them all, #3 Texas beating Nebraska 13-12 on a last-second field goal to win the Big 12 and join Alabama in the BCS championship bowl.  Also in there, Arizona upset USC (boo!), and Washington upset California (boo!) to keep the Pac 10's rep for turmoil alive.  Wow.

Pam OliverCan I just say, I think Pam Oliver is the best.  Sideline reporter, etc.  Did you know she is 48?  Wow.

Remember Lala?  Or maybe you use it?  I was infatuated with it for a while, a nice streaming music service.  In the end I fell back to my default random-playing from iTunes, but I did like it.  Anyway apparently Apple has bought them; there is speculation to kill them off, or perhaps to have help building an "iTunes in the cloud" product.

UK power plug: improvedThis is cool: student radically improves UK plug.  If you've ever used one, you know they could use radical improvement; they're bigger than some of the devices they connect :)  Nice design.

The thing keeping Chrome from being my daily browser is the lack of extensions (lack of Adblock specifically!); apparently Chrome is about to get extensions, yay!  Most of the early ones are Google-specific, but over time you can anticipate all sorts of stuff, including Adblock...

Carly Fiorina on regular mammograms and ObamacareCarly Fiorina on regular mammograms and Obamacare.  A pretty compelling take from someone who has personal experience with cancer.  Also gives you a sense of the calm intelligence she would bring to being our Senator, instead of [arg!] Barbara Boxer...

Dilbert on climategateDilbert on climategate.  I love it.

Enjoy the day!


Monday,  12/07/09  10:35 AM

And so a maximally busy week gets off to a rather weird start...  drove down to Vista this morning, took 4½ hours!  Yes it is raining - heavily - and in L.A. that means people have no clue what to do; I swear I saw people get out of their cars to take pictures.  Also must have been five different accidents.  And so then I got to play rock star (!) as we are making a fun video for an upcoming sales meeting; I don't think I've worn zebra-striped tights before, nor a mesh shirt, and definitely not with a Gene Simmons wig (stay tuned, maybe I'll have some video for you).  Then a four hour product roadmap meeting, after which I was ready to drink an entire bottle of Sanford Pinot Noir... so I did. 

And now I am blogging.  (hic)

Cool news of the day, or of any other day: Google Goggles, aka searching with pictures.  You could totally see this coming, and if you're a regular reader you know we've discussed this many times.  Small glasses-mounted cameras feeding this search, with a heads' up display, and poof! augmented reality becomes real and useful.

A report from the Copenhagen Climate Summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes, and caviar wedges.  Possibly the most pretentious sanctimonious and hypocritical political gathering of all time, amid strong competition.  Blech.

clippy: new media failTechCrunch: getting it right and wrong with the new media.  It's a good post, plus anything accompanied by clippy automatically gets style points :)

Google QR codes link to business infoThis is cool: Google is using 2D barcodes to link businesses to online information, a kind of assisted augmented reality.

Well you know this was going to happen: the iPhone orchestra.  Right now it is more of a dancing bear than anything real, but given time you could see smartphones gradually displacing other instruments; after all, they can sound like anything given modern sampling techniques...

BBC: winged vine seed vignetteCheck out this cool BBC science vignette about winged vine seeds which float hundreds of yards through rainforest from a football-sized pod.  Nature is radical.

Excellent news!  Cancer rates continue to fall in the U.S.  Deaths continue to fall, too, as the number of types of cancer which can be fought keeps going up.  The war continues but the battles are going well...

Virgin Galactic: Space Ship TwoCool!  Virgin Galactic announces Space Ship Two!  We're getting ever closer to private space travel.  Of course it is still *expensive* and there is still nowhere to go.  (Titan, anyone?)  But those things will change!

Ultraviolet blacklight posters!Wow was this a blast from the past: Boing Boing posts about blacklight posters.  There was a time I was heavily into these; I can probably close my eyes and picture them in my room, when I was fourteen...  definitely the Age of Aquarius.  The post is about a book called Ultraviolet which is printed with fluorescent ink. Whoa.

Twenty of the world's most beautiful libraries; Abbey Library in SwitzerlandHow excellent is this?  Twenty of the world's most beautiful libraries.  I love my Kindle and digital is the future, but books are beautiful and libraries are excellent.  I wonder how long they'll last?  (BTW it is very cool that Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Public Library made the list; not only have I been in it, but it is way cool :)

Liron Shapira has left Slide and started Quixey.  "For the last month I've been working full-time as a co-founder at a small startup called Quixey...  Quixey's mission is to enable you to discover apps."  Excellent, good luck!

ZooBorn: a rare Amur Leopard cubZooBorn of the day: A rare Amur Leopard cub.

I must confess I'm not sure when I'll be back; tomorrow is maximally busy, Wednesday even more so, and Thursday, well, is hideous.  Please stay tuned!


visualizing lightspeed

Wednesday,  12/09/09  11:33 PM

This is cool: visualizing the speed of light, in which it takes 1.26 seconds to travel from Earth to the Moon.

Knowing that light is *really* fast, for me this says more about the distance between the Earth and Moon than about light's speed...


Hubble ultra deepfield

Wednesday,  12/09/09  11:38 PM

This is way cool: Hubble's ultra deepfield, taken in late August 2009; the faintest and reddest objects in the image are galaxies that formed 600 million years after the Big Bang..

Hubble ultra deepfield photo montage

(click to enbiggen amazingly) 


Wednesday,  12/09/09  11:42 PM

Another long day followed by a long (but pleasant) meeting over dinner; we managed to drink a bottle each.  So it's going to be like that, is it?

Beware, coherence may be limited.  Even more than usual.  (hic)

A really important resource: the Western States Ride Calendar.  Every known organized cycling ride in the Western U.S.  Wow how cool is that?

Monster Monday: giant waves in HawaiiMonster Monday: Surf's up as biggest waves in five years come to Hawaii.  Wow, those are cool.  I am a wimp when it comes to surfing, but we all love looking at those huge waves, don't we?

Ed Driscoll wonders Is Newsweek a Brand that will Disappear in 2010?  You mean Newsweek still exists?  I thought they transformed themselves into a political-People magazine for liberals, and quietly faded into irrelevance.  Oh, they did.

Google Chrome - now with extensions!Google's Chrome browser now has extensions.  Yay.  Give me Adblock, and Firefox may be history.

Facebook pushes people to go public.  I predict this will not end well.  I knew enough to explicitly switch all the preferences back to private, but I bet many many people will not, and Facebook will never be the same.

Virgin Galactic's Space Ship Two: the Tip of the Iceberg for Private Space TravelYesterday I reported on Virgin Atlantic's Space Ship Two launch; Rand Simberg has more: the Tip of the Iceberg for Private Spaceflight.

Pantone Turquoise: 2010 color of the year?Pantone has named Turquoise 2010 color of the year.  "...evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing."  So be it.

TTAC reports Speed Cameras Gift Wrapped in the Netherlands.  As they should be, everywhere.  Big brother please take a hike.

From the Onion: Alphabet updated with 15 exciting new letters.  Paging Dr. Suess, some people stop at the Z, but not me!  I love it :)

ZooBorn: a tiny Kimodo DragonZooBorn of the day: a tiny Kimodo Dragon.  See even baby giant lizards are cute!


post #508

Wednesday,  12/09/09  11:51 PM

This is post #508 this year, officially making this my most prolific blogging year ever.  So far.  It is also post #1999 of all time.  (Perhaps I should have made another post celebrating that, which would have been #2000 :)  This is probably more exciting to me than to you, but I just had to note the milestone; if you're interested, all 1,999 posts are linked from The Archive.

Cheers, and please stay tuned for thousands more!


SecondSlide on fire

Saturday,  12/12/09  09:28 AM

SecondSlide logoEarly this year Aperio launched a cool service called SecondSlide ; it is a digital slide sharing service, which enables pathologists, researchers, and educators to share scanned microscope slides with each other.  (Why not use Flickr or Slide?  Well, the images are about 400MB each, and special serving and viewing software is needed to make sure it all works:)  We had set a goal to have 250 active users for this year, and we've far exceeded that with over 400 already.  So last Thursday night the SecondSlide team had a little celebration to mark achieving our goal.  Naturally we decided to have a cake… with 250 candles.  The result exceeded our wildest expectations:

SecondSlide on fire!

I do want to report that while nobody was hurt and no structures were threatened, you should not try this at home.  It is not clear if we will be welcome back at the Charthouse :)

I believe the goal for next year will be in the neighborhood of 2,500 users.  Stay tuned!


Saturday,  12/12/09  10:25 AM

And so I am back home, *finally*, after the world's longest week.  The last two days especially were back-to-back-to-back meetings celebrations (including burning cakes) and parties.  Too much fun and so it is good to be back.  We are hosting a wine-tasting party ourselves tomorrow night, and there is much to do; decorating organizing etc., but that will be fun too.

And of course in the meantime it's all happening...

Death Ride 2010Thursday I registered for next summer's Death Ride, making it my third in row.  That is something I can look forward to!  Dum dum dum...  (just when you think they can't make their logo any more garish, each year, they do :)

Avatar: Jake Sully; the early reviews are way positiveWe're getting some early reviews of Avatar, and man are they positive.  Everyone seems to say the same thing: 'my expectations were really high, and it exceeded them'.  Among others, Roger Ebert gave the film four stars.  Could be the film of the decade...  John Cameron seems to have done it again.  Cannot wait to see it!

John Gruber finds Dragon Dictation for the iPhone to be "faster and more accurate than I imagined possible."  And he is not free with such praise.  Perhaps that's the answer to input to smartphones - voice?

[ Update: Josh Newman likes it, too.  And so does David Pogue.  It does appear that since the Nuance app can't run in the background, you can't speak directly into other apps, you have to copy-and-paste.  Still I am encouraged by the apparent accuracy and usability, we seem to be moving beyond the dancing bear stage with voice input! ]

PVRblog - now, for sale on eBay!Huh, this is interesting: Matt Haughey is selling on eBay.  Current price $3,900.  A nice blog I am subscribed to, and have been for some time.  I guess this means updates have been interrupted :)  Anyone out there want to continue?  I guess you'd have to be interested in PVRs...

The Segway - tech flop of the decade?As we near the end of 2009, we also near the end of the decade of the 2000s, unbelievably, and so we're getting all the "top X lists of Y" that always come out...  but I liked this one: CNet's list of the decade's biggest tech flops.  There is some interesting stuff in there, and I remember it all...  check it out, you'll probably have some "oh yeah I remember that" moments, like I did.  Most forgotten: The Segway.  I know, I know, it's still with us; but man, remember the hype when that thing came out?

Here's an important study: casual sex is not bad for your emotional health.  Well that's good to know.  An Instapundit reader notes: "Apparently it's pretty good for your golf game, too." :)

Tim Bray reminds us all about colonoscopy.  Yeah yeah yeah.  He's right.

Fake Steve takes on AT&T's Randall Stephenson over their desire to reduce iPhone users network usage.  His rant is so funny and so right, you must read it.  C'mon, click the link.  There, wasn't that worth it?

Chris Anderson's Long Tail goes on hiatus.  Whatever that means.  The only thing less interesting than blogging about blogging is blogging about not blogging.  Of course blogging about someone else blogging about not blogging is worse.

I'm going to close out the morning with the Horse's Mouth's Wave of the Day

wave of the day

may your weekend be equally so


your cat for my car

Monday,  12/14/09  09:55 PM

The phone rings...

Yes, hello, is Ole Eichhorn there?
This is Ole...
Yes, I'm calling about your car, is it still for sale?
Um...  well...  uh...
You live in the Los Angeles area, right?
Uh, yeah, but...
Do you know anyone at Walt Disney?  Anyone high up in the company?
Uh, no... sorry.  Why are you calling exactly?
Well I have an item, a collectible item, which could be worth a lot of money to the right collector, it's a Disney item, one-of-a-kind, could be worth a million dollars - or more! - to the right person.
Yeah, but what does that have to do with my car?
Well I was thinking, maybe we could make a deal, I could trade my item for your car, there could be some cash involved too.
Huh.  (pause)  I'm not sure I want to sell my car, I haven't thought about it.
Okay, let me tell you...  you see, I have this cat, and my cat's coat has this marking, it looks just exactly like Mickey Mouse, and I was thinking...
Are we talking about your cat or my car?
Well I was thinking, maybe we could work a trade, because this cat is very valuable, I posted it on the Internet, you can see it for yourself...
Wait a minute, you want to trade your cat for my car?
You really have to see this cat, it looks just like Mickey Mouse, it is amazing...
Are you serious?  This sounds like a joke.
Am I on a radio show?
You're calling to see if I would trade my car for a cat?
(dial tone...)

I am not making this up.


Monday,  12/14/09  10:16 PM

Monday Monday, what was I going to do with you?  Well as it turns out, a lot; managed to plow through all my status / email / reporting stuff and make it to some real work: coding!  I have a technical project which just has to be done this week, and although I have a million many balls in the air and high-level meetings etc. it just has to be done.  So why am I wasting time blogging?  Um ... um ...

This is fantastic: Sarah Palin and William Shatner do dueling dramatic readings... of each others' autobiographies.  Rarely in something like this do you end up liking them both better, but in this case, you do.  It worked.  Powerline, not usually a fan of either, observes resistance is futile.

Rainstorm wallups Southern California.  No kidding.  You try cycling in that stuff, it's not easy!

An obituary for obituaries?  "You probably didn’t read the story – because what red-blooded American reads a newspaper anymore? – but apparently the nation’s newspapers, having already lost their editorial dominance to cable news and the Web, their sports coverage to fan sites, their classifieds to Craigslist, and their editorial pages to the blogosphere, are now under heavy assault on their last profitable redoubt: the obituary page."  So be it.  (BTW the "rainstorm" link above is to the LATimes website, but via Drudge's RSS feed.  That's the future, right there...)

Tim Oren says it is an obituary for an industry.  I think that's right.

Wired: Fail!Actually what I think is that newspapers aren't dead, they're just fading away into irrelevance.  Same with news magazines.  Print media will continue to exist, but they'll just evolve.  I just got the latest issue of Wired - one of my favorite magazines, and it is about 1/8" thick, about half what it used to be.  On the cover, in 72pt. type, is the word Fail.

Related: Michael Arrington bemoans the end of hand-crafted content.  Oh I don't know about that...  seems like blogs and Facebook and Twitter all facilitate hand-crafted content.  No machine can crank out this stuff!

Doc Searles agrees with me: the revolution will not be intermediated.  "Just as an aside, I’ve been hand-crafting (actually just typing) my “content” for about twenty years now, and I haven’t been destroyed by a damn thing."

the Google phone!The Google Phone: this changes everything.  Aka the HTC Passion, running Android.  To me the fact that Google are "making hardware" isn't that big a deal (they're reselling hardware).  But if they sell an unlocked phone and it uses VoIP, that would be different.  A data-only phone could change the model.  How interesting.

John Gruber notes the phone will be called Nexus One, after the androids in Bladerunner.  Excellent.

I'm shocked: Microsoft's top developers prefer old school coding methods.  "'Graphical programming environments are usable when they are useless, but unusable when they would be useful," said Jeffrey Snover, a Microsoft distinguished engineer... While visual programming can be easier to learn and can help make developers more productive, it's also 'easier to delude yourself,' said Butler Lampson, a technical fellow at Microsoft.  For instance, 'no one can ever tell you what a UML diagram means.'"  This makes me so happy; I knew that UML emperor wasn't wearing any clothes...

A valuable reference: text messaging smileys.  Bookmarked!  o-)

Titan's shining lakeTitan news: Shining lake confirms presence of liquid on Titan.  So be it, I cannot wait to go.  BTW with the advent of virtual reality, I am beginning to think when I do go, I might not have to go physically.  Maybe I'll just send my avatar!

Avatar!Speaking of which, Avatar is just getting the best reviews, cannot wait to see it.

Some people don't care about Z, but not me: I love my new notebook and like Win7, but over time I've noticed a galling problem; it messes up Z-order.  This is the sequence of windows from front-to-back.  Alt-tab does not always do what you expect, and that's annoying.  Seems like this would have been easy to find and fix during beta testing, too.  PS yeah I know about Window-Tab, and yeah I think it's cool too, but it doesn't solve this problem; the Z-order is wrong.

The Matrix: concept artLost concept art from the Matrix, found.  Spectacular.

the Giant Crystal CaveThe Giant Crystal Cave: deadliest place on Earth?  "It's 50oC and has a humidity of 100%, less than a hundred people have been inside and it's so deadly that even with respirators and suits of ice you can only survive for 20 minutes before your body starts to fail. It’s the nearest thing to visiting another planet – it’s going deep inside our own."  Sounds like a scene from a movie.  Another good place to visit via avatar...

ZooBorn: baby pygmy hippoZooBorn of the day: a baby pygmy hippo.
Is it a jumbo shrimp, or a little jumbo?


Pre blogging

Wednesday,  12/16/09  08:39 PM

This is coming to you live from the Charthouse in Dana Point, post Kessel Run, as I attempt to use my Palm Pre to blog (!).  I am dragging, had a *long* day yesterday; up early, busy day of meetings, long and exhausting, ending with a good ride and a fantastic dinner.  Yeah, I might have had some Pinot, too.  It left me tired but smiling :)

And today was pretty good too!  Okay, let's see how well this works, as we make a filter pass...

It looks like healthcare reform might die completely.  Wow, could that really be true?  It seemed too much to hope for, and yet each attempt to craft a bill is worse than the previous, crufted with pork and graft, and the American public is getting progressively less excited.  What a failure.  We need reform, but all these attempts are doomed by too much government involvement.

Red, White, and Sacre Bleu: How American Wines Shocked the World.  I love it.  I love American wines, too, in fact I'm enjoying one right now...

Wow, Toyota testing a plug-in Prius, to go on sale in 2011.  Another game changer?  Could be...

Jeff Atwood celebrates International Backup Day; he's urging you to do backups after suffering a disaster.  Amen, brother.

Joel Spolsky suggests let's stop talking about backups.  It is not enough to do backups, you must also do restores.  Amen, brother.

Facebook passes AOL in the U.S., in unique visitors.  The surprising thing about this to me is that they hadn't done so already; does anyone still visit AOL?  Really?

Google wants you to give Chrome for Christmas.  Price $0, and they'll do the [virtual] gift-wrapping for you.  What a cute idea.  Have you been good this year?

Hey, I think my Pre blogging worked!  Next up, pictures; yeah I know, you miss them.  Stay tuned!



Thursday,  12/17/09  07:53 PM

we were laughing in a daydream
with the world beneath our feet
and the sun smiled on the water
where the skies and the ocean meet
we were spellbound
oh ... spellbound

 I was riding along Mulholland tonight
listening to Robin Trower

and the music and the words and the sunset
and my feeling of joy came together


Friday,  12/18/09  07:41 AM

Breakfast blogging!  Two cups of coffee down, so it should be okay...

Baobab trees in MadagascarHere we have The 10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World.  Amazingly, I have seen several of these myself, including the Bristlecone Pines just this summer.  I do need to see those Baobab trees though, how Suess-ian; they're definitely on the list...

the most dangerous road in GermanyThe most dangerous road in Germany.  Watch out for flying boats!  Hint: It's not even a real road, it just plays one on TV (and in the movies...)

Change Blindness.  Whoa.  This reminds me of that basketball-passing video, where the guy in the gorilla suit wanders through and you're so busy counting passes, you don't notice.  So much for believing your own eyes, eh?

Speaking of which, Climategate is reversing the burden of proof.  "Now the default position is slowly mutating into: It's all made-up nonsense."  I was never a hard-core global warming worrier, but I must admit I am now questioning where there's a there there.  The lack of science is disturbing...

Eric Raymond says it's crazy in Copenhagen.  I love it that a blizzard has settled in for the week :)  And be sure to view Lord Monckton's smackdown, classic for his devastating logic as well as dry British humor.  Oh, and for more fun, there's record snow in Alaska.  Proving that individual data points prove nothing.

Powerline weight in on adjusting the data:  "It is important to understand that none of the charts and graphs that purport to depict the Earth's climate ever show you raw data. None."

I follow a blogger named Bruce Friedman for business, and sometimes link his posts from my company blog, but he recently veered slightly off topic (for him) to make some insightful remarks about Google's Nexus One phone.  "There is no way to look at this announcement but as a profound game-changer for the cell phone market...  Google views mobile phones as PCs that have cell phone functionality as one of many features...  Wireless carriers, in contrast, view mobile phones primarily as telephones that can also surf the web."  I think that's right.  More business models will be good.

Apropos: I'm posting this from my laptop in a diner, using my Sprint cellular modem.  I love the instant-on-ness; for me WiFi is a thing of the past when I'm out and about.  I could make a call with Skype right now.

Hubble Butterfly NebulaAnother top ten: Astronomy pictures in 2009.  I can view any amount of pictures of space, can't you?  My favorite in this group is the picture of the Butterfly Nebula, shown at left, taken from the Hubble after it was upgraded this summer.  Whoa.

In 2010, the new space industry finally takes off.  Excellent.

Ted Dziuba: How I spot valuable engineers.  "When I interview a candidate, I'm trying to determine how valuable the candidate is, not just how smart he or she is."  Huh.  I usually just go for smart, if there's enough horsepower it will overcome anything.  Including especially lack of experience...

Roy Disney, RIPThe Horse's Mouth says Aloha, Roy.  Roy Disney was one of the true greats in ocean sailing; his movie Morning Light was one of the best movies I saw this year, and not just because of the sailing.  He will be missed...

Onward, into the day...  Happy Friday!



Friday,  12/18/09  01:17 PM

Avatar screening!I have the BEST friends:

From: Franklin
To: Ole
Subject: Avatar Screening


Ahoy Ole!


Would you like to join me for a 3-D screening of Avatar at FOX in Century City on Monday, December 21st at 7:00 PM.  We'd need to get there early to guarantee seating.  I believe it is being shown in the same theater the audio was mixed in.



From: Ole
To: Franklin
Subject: RE: Avatar Screening



How awesome.  Thank you and count me in…

How cool is that?  Stay tuned for a full report :)



Saturday,  12/19/09  10:21 AM

Good morning!  Yes, it is a good morning, although it began (before coffee) with a demonstration why Shih-Tzus are so named...  It is cold and windy, football is on and Tivoed, Par-tays are taking place, and people are being all Christmaslike.  Frantically shopping.  Being friendly and neighborly.  Traveling home for Christmas.  Etc.  And I am contemplating a relatively unscheduled weekend, what shall I do with it?  Perhaps I shall blog!

Ole Reads I:  I am not a fan of opera, but I am a huge fan of Alex Ross, the New Yorker's opera critic, who writes so well and makes opera sound so interesting, I hang onto every word.  His review of Tosca, at the Met, ends thusly: "From the crackling first bars of the prelude, you knew that this would be no ordinary night at the opera.  A hundred minutes later, the last harsh chord sounded, a stunned audience burst into a prolonged ovation, and it seemed as though the grand old Met had been the scene of a revolution."  Doesn't that make you wish you were there?

Ole Reads II:  I am not often moved to tears, but The Games of Their Lives, a story by Jon Wertheim in Sports Illustrated about swimmer Marin Morrison and sailor Nick Scandone, really hit me.  Both amateur athletes, they were each struck by debilitating and ultimately fatal diseases (Marin, brain cancer, and Nick, ALS [Lou Gehrig's Disease]), and each competed in the 2008 paralymic games.  Wow, what a story.

Gladys GloverOle Reads III:  I loved a little vignette Critic's Notebook in the New Yorker about Gladys Glover, a lonely young woman who becomes famous by putting her name on a huge billboard in Columbus Circle.  Yes it is just a story, from the 1954 comedy It Could Happen to You, but what an amazing concept.  I am tempted to do this myself (just kidding).  Last year's Wired cover of Julia Allison is brought strongly to mind.

May I note, parenthetically, that I love the name Gladys, it reminds me of another name I love, Hermione, in that you have this surprised reaction when you realize it sounds so much nicer than it looks.  Second order note: I liked "Hermione" long before Emma Watson was cast in Harry Potter, but she hasn't changed that I like it :)

From my friend Gary, after reading CNet's list of the decade's ten biggest tech flops and realizing that he'd owned most of them: "the beauty of being an early adopter is that you start to live the way everyone else will live a few years before everyone else does."  I love it, back to the future!

Chrome beta + extensions!Speaking of living the way everyone else will, this morning I side-graded to Google Chrome Beta, and happily installed AdBlock and IETab, the two Firefox extensions which I absolutely cannot live without.  (Well okay I also love Firebug, but Chrome has its own developer tools...)  I am strongly considering switching my default browser to Chrome.  In fact, I just did.  I think I heard a peal of thunder...

Speaking of the decade's ten biggest flops, Slashdotters discuss Has a decade of .NET delivered on Microsoft's promises?  I'm not sure what Microsoft promised, I was confused at the time (and still am) by what .NET was supposed to be.  Perhaps as a business initiative .NET was successful; it is hard to say how things would have gone if .NET hadn't ever been.  Perhaps it opened the door for Macs' resurgence, or smartphones, or the rise of web apps, but perhaps those things would have happened anyway.  As a software development technology .NET has failed miserably, my company Aperio stays away from it as much as possible.

OSes as seen by OS fanboysHumorous aside: how various OSes are viewed by OS fanboys.

Wow, Yahoo! Cycling Team to launch in 2010.  "An online survey targeted at Silicon Valley Professionals revealed that an astonishing 50 percent are cycling enthusiasts and follow the local scene.  The results were presented to the Yahoo! Management, the internet services company which operates the third most-visited website in the world, and prompted it to come onboard as the main partner to launch America's newest team in 2010: Yahoo! Cycling Team."  To this I can only say, Yahoo!

Browser Pong.  Yes, you must play this, and yes, you must join me in saluting its awesomeness!  Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you realize “it all” is so much more than you thought :)

Okay I have to say, Chrome opens a link in a new window faster than Firefox.  I'm a huge Firefox fan, but I open links all day long, and for browsers speed kills.  A particularly brutal comparison was playing browser pong (!); Chrome just kills Firefox at stuff like this, because it multiprocesses instead of multitasks.

People forget that the main reason that IE 4 took over from Netscape 4 was because it was faster.  Windows 95 shipped with IE 2, which was the piece of crap of the world.  Then came IE 3, the infamous "AOL browser", which was not only a piece of crap, it was an incompatible piece of crap, but because AOL used it you had to support it.  At that time Netscape was king.  Then in 1997 we got IE 4, the heavens parted, and angels sang.  It not only supported DHTML, it was faster.  And Netscape was history.

But I digress, what I meant to say was: Chrome is now my default browser.  BONG.


browser size

Saturday,  12/19/09  11:20 AM

Check out Google Browser Size, a cool tool which allows you to visualize how a given site will be viewed by users with different-sized browser windows.  Here's my blog loaded into the tool:

Google Browser Size with loaded...

It really gives you an appreciation for the value of the page real estate in the upper left corner!  (People don't scroll right, much or ever, and often don't even scroll down!)

OTOH, There Is No Page Fold.  Except when there is, which is always...


la vie Grand Marnier

Saturday,  12/19/09  12:28 PM

la vie Grand Marnier

how much do I like this?

a blonde in a backless dress
a stranger in tuxedo, bowtie untied
the art deco doorknob
the decision
and best of all, the anticipation...

romantic minimalism fully rendered

I like this a lot...


white Christmas in Copenhagen

Saturday,  12/19/09  04:53 PM

white ChristmasI know weather is not climate, but I couldn't help enjoying the irony that President Obama had to leave the Copenhagen conference early, before any agreement was reached, because of a snowstorm in Washington D.C.  This after a blizzard dumped snow all over Copenhagen just as the speeches about global warming began.  The agreement which was finally announced is about as watered down and ambiguous as you might expect; a statement of intent rather than a plan of action.  The conference crashed under its own ponderous weight, and as ESR notes "the glum tone of the report is palpable".

Perhaps global warming really is a problem, perhaps the actions of men have exacerbated it, and perhaps there are more things we should do to preserve the ozone layer and otherwise avoid affecting the Earth's natural balance.  At this point I'm conflicted and honestly don't know.  What I do know is that "global warming" is a political industry, and that conferences like Copenhagen are absurd theater rather than serious efforts to solve problems.  Imagine inviting Robert Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hugo Chavez to speak, as if they knew anything at all about it.

Anyway I'm glad our President made it back, and I wish him a Merry Christmas, hunkered down in the snow.

[Update: apparently they are having record snowfalls in the capital.  Heh.]

Obama welcomes Santa Claus[Update 2: just saw the latest New Yorker cover.  Perfect.  As the veil slips ever further, the MSM pendulum is swinging back to center.  This balances cheer and irony perfectly, very New Yorker -ish :) ]


the facts about bottled water

Saturday,  12/19/09  05:35 PM

(yes, there is no page fold)


Definitely, Maybe

Sunday,  12/20/09  10:10 AM

Definitely? Maybe!We watched Definitely, Maybe last night; a romantic comedy from 2008 that we had totally missed, and loved it.  The acting was great, the story was great, the moviemaking itself was great, and the whole thing ended up being really fun.  (Perhaps the bottle of Ocean's Ghost Pinot with fudge helped too :)

You think you're in for a formulaic romantic comedy, a couple are getting divorced, the guy tells their story to their daughter, and okay you get it, she's going to help him put it all back together.  Bssst... sort of, but not really!  The mystery angle works, because not only does the little girl not know what happens, we don't either.  (And you *still* don't!) 

All the relationships worked for me, you could really see it, and they didn't all end in flames, they ended as relationships really do... and restarted the same way.  Okay, okay, Elizabeth Banks, Isla Fisher, and Rachel Weisz, yeah, that worked for me too...  Shirley would say she still prefers Hugh Grant, but Ryan Reynolds was okay.  Best of all, the movie was well made, the scenes were set appropriately, lots of little touches were "right" (like a computer in 1997 running Win 3.1 and going online with a modem and IE 3, I'd recognize that hideous turquoise anywhere :).

Should you rent it?  Definitely, maybe.


the soprano

Sunday,  12/20/09  10:39 AM

soprano Danielle de Niese performs at the New York MetThis picture of soprano Danielle de Niese, performing at the New York Met, caught my eye; there's just something about it.  She's beautiful and talented, but there is other stuff going on here: confidence, intelligence, a point of view, ambition, maybe even arrogance.

Sometimes a photo feels like it gives insight into personality; can you really figure out what someone is like from a snapshot?  Who knows.  But I would like to meet Danielle, she seems ... interesting.


Sunday,  12/20/09  08:26 PM

A crummy lazy Sunday, in which I accomplished less than I wished.  Blech.  And had far less fun than I could have, in trying.  Double blech.

A fascinating analysis by Gerry Purdy of Frost & Sullivan: Why Android is Getting so Much Traction: Less Than Free.  Microsoft charges a handset makers a license fee to use Windows Mobile.  Google charges them nothing, and gives them a cut of the ad revenue.  "As you can clearly see, the OS software license fees just went from fee-based (Microsoft) to free (Apple) to less than free (Android) in less than two years."

So I'm in a restaurant, and I'm reading a menu, and it says "Almond Tuile".  Tuile?  And I am so used to reading on my Kindle, that I instinctively make a move to scroll to the word so I can look it up in the dictionary!  Um, that doesn't work with a paper menu...  Yet!  (Although I did whip out my Pre and ask Mr. Google :)

Titan Sea: Ligeia MareWell this is great news: Proposed NASA Mission Would Sail the Seas of Titan.  Perhaps my skills as a sailor would help overcome my lack of any other qualifications for this mission? 

Q: is a sea on Titan, a "Titanic Sea"?  And would such a mission be called the Titanic?  Are there icebergs on Titan?  Questions abound...

The Dial cellphone - it's all the in the wristAn interesting design for a cellphone: The Dial.  ("Um, your wrist is ringing...")  Of course the lack of keyboard would make this a non-starter for me... but it looks cool.

Huh, I'll have to check this out: Palm launches new Web-based mobile development tool.  It begs the question, if I could have any App at all on my Pre, what would it be?  I have a hard time thinking of anything I need on it.  Maybe a really fast digital slide viewer?

Avatar: the blue people rule!Avatar: the blue people rule.  I am going tomorrow, and I am happy about it.  Stay tuned!

RSS Reader Market in Disarray, Continues to Decline.  I have always been puzzled why RSS hasn't become more widely used.  I guess the activation energy is just slightly too high.  It doesn't surprise me that browser-based readers like Google have won out, they have in email too.  (Browser-based anything seems to win, just because it is easier...)  But it does surprise me that given there are good free browser-based readers, more people don't use them...

ZooBorns: baby porcupine twinsZooBorns of the weekend: baby porcupine twins.

So that's it then, onward into the week before Christmas!  I have much to do, and much fun to have; should be great...  I hope it is all great for you too!


Calvin & Hobbes: snow art

Sunday,  12/20/09  08:29 PM

Calvin and Hobbes: originality

I love it

taken from the most excellent
Calvin & Hobbes snow art gallery
which is your favorite?


Avatar: I see you

Monday,  12/21/09  11:19 PM

I saw Avatar tonight. 
It was AWESOME. 

Yes, you must run out and see it.

Yes, you will wear funky glasses.
And you will experience 3D as never before, and you will love it.
You will feel like you did when you first saw Star Wars
or Alien or Terminator 2 or The Matrix
as you realize that moviemaking has again reached a higher plane.
And you will say to yourself, as I did: "soon we will all have 3D in our houses".

Yes, the story is amazing and moving;
it will remind you of Fern Gully, and this is no bad thing.
You will sit through three hours and it will feel like one.
You will love every minute of it.

Yes, you must run out and see it.

"I see you"

(thanks, Franklin!)



the steroid era (New Yorker)

Tuesday,  12/22/09  08:53 PM

(maybe they have to raise the bar?)


Tuesday,  12/22/09  08:58 PM

Working on deadline today, a big project which has to be done by year-end...  and so we celebrated the winter solstice with one of the coldest days of the year, freezing with a bitter breeze.  I marked it with one of my faster Rockstore rides, 1:43, not bad considering my teeth were chattering :)

*Still* buzzed from Avatar; can't wait to see it again.  But first, a filter pass...

Ole Reads ITesting, testing.  A crummy headline for a great article, the best defensive of the current health reform plans that I've yet read.  I'm a skeptic; it seems to me that these plans don't hit at the core of why healthcare is so expensive, and I am always opposed to government solutions.  But the analog to how government solutions helped farming become more efficient in the U.S. - something of which I was entirely ignorant, previously - is compelling.  I was happy to read this because it gives some reason for hope; it looks like some version of one of these plans is going to be passed...

Hanukkah StoriesOle Reads IIHanukkah Stories.  This is absolutely hilarious.  You must read it, but please put down any hot liquids beforehand.

Sumerians Look On In Confusion as God Creates WorldThe incomparable Onion: The Top Stories of the Past 4.5B Years.  My favorite: Sumerians Look On In Confusion as God Creates World.  "According to recently excavated clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform script, thousands of Sumerians - the first humans to establish systems of writing, agriculture, and government - were working on their sophisticated irrigation systems when the Father of All Creation reached down from the ether and blew the divine spirit of life into their thriving civilization."  I love it.

I totally agree with this: Apple is a Bad Example.  Using Apple - or Microsoft, or Google, or Facebook - to make a point about startup companies generally doesn't work.  There is only one Apple, and what works for them does not work for everyone else.

Darth Vadar opens the NYSENot the Onion: Darth Vader opens New York Stock Exchange.  Wow, who could have imagined?  (I wonder if Jake Sully will be next?)

Ford's Wired Fleet: WiFi Hotspots on Four Wheels.  I'm confused about this; seems like WiFi in a car has a pretty limited usefulness, considering everyone can just use cellular modems.  Give us more drinkholders instead!

ZooBorn: baby BelugaZooBorn of the day: a baby Beluga.  Yeah we've had one before, but man are they cute!


Yule in high def

Thursday,  12/24/09  09:36 AM

Yule in high def :)

(next up - Yule in 3D :)


Merry Christmas Eve!

Thursday,  12/24/09  10:14 AM

Merry Christmas Eve!Merry Christmas Eve to y'all...  I must tell you I had a wonderful day yesterday, but I must not tell you all the reasons why.  Suffice it to say it was a great way to end the year... and to look forward to the next!

I was talking with a friend about my "Midway" resolution, that next year will not be like this year.  So far, so good; this year since then hasn't been like this year before... not sure why exactly, but it hasn't... I am staying focused on a bigger picture, and it is good.

iPhone in iPhone - augmented reality!An iPhone app which, um, simulates an iPhone in augmented reality.  Complete with apps!  Yes you must see it; useful, no, but interesting, definitely...

So... I am back on Firefox, after dallying with Chrome as my default browser.  Chrome is faster, but there are two things which caused me to switch back, first, I no like-a da tabbed browsing; I want a new window when I click a link.  Second, there are a number of sites which don't work, some kind of JavaScript incompatibilities (like Typepad!).  The first thing is a kind of stubbornness, Google wants you to like tabbed browsing, so they make you use it.  It would be easy for this to be an option, and hopefully it will.  Fixing JavaScript to support "everything" will come I am sure.  So this could be a temporary switch back...  stay tuned.

Saturn's moondanceThis is pretty cool, from Nasa and Cassini: Saturn's moondance.  Set to Tchaikovsky, of course...

A treatise: The science of Avatar.  As with any sci-fi movie Avatar takes some license with physical laws, but on the whole it seems less farfetched than most, and honestly makes an effort.  The least plausible science is the Avatar technique itself - could a human mind really be linked to an alien body? - but if you let that go the rest follows pretty naturally.  Well okay, there is that strongly magnetic anti-gravity unobtainium, too...

Jeff Bezos on Amazon's success, including the surprise popularity of the Kindle.  "Lyons: Have you been surprised by the Kindle's success?  Bezos: Astonished. Two years ago, none of us expected what has happened so far. It is [our] No. 1 bestselling product."  Cool...

wind turbine Christmas star!Siemens transformed a windmill into a Christmas star, by adding 9,000 LEDs to the 30 meter blades ...  wow how cool is that?

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  Hope you have a wonderful time hanging out with those you love...


new worlds (New Yorker, 12/21/09)

Friday,  12/25/09  10:50 AM

new worlds

"new worlds"

another great New Yorker cover
this sums up exactly  how I've been thinking...

the week between Christmas and New Years' is always a time of reflection
for me
and reloading mentally, and
making plans
there are new worlds inside each of us
waiting to be let out and actualized
who knows what 2010 will bring?


Christmas day

Friday,  12/25/09  10:31 PM

Santa cycling...Merry Christmas!  I hope yours was Merry and Happy?  Mine was, thanks for asking.  It was great having our oldest daughter Nicole and her finance Chris with us; the past few years they've both been in the Navy, posted in Sicily, and not able to celebrate with us.  And we ate a lot, and drank, and ate a lot more (chocolate!), and exchanged presents, and it was all very fun...  and I did a ride, Rockstore, in a really fast 1:39 (for which I give credit to my new long warm jersey, not the chocolate :)...  and Meg and Alex and I saw Avatar (2nd time for me) and it was great once again.  What a fantastic movie!

Gerard Vanderleun takes a serious look at gifts.  He describes a small wooden box with simple objects, each of which has a personal meaning.  In a similar way I have evolved a metaphorical box with imagined tokens, each representing a friend.  I sometimes take out the box (in my head) and examine the objects to treasure my friends.  As I live my life I keep adding to my friend collection.  It is the most valuable thing I own, and nobody can ever take it away.  I thought about that today, while riding; what a coincidence to come back and read Gerard's post...

Santa sailing...What does Santa do on Christmas Day?  Either cycling (above right) or sailing (left)...

From Slashdot: the science of Santa.  Important work!

Palm Pre - playing Bing Crosby's Christmas Album, freshly downloaded from Amazon...More Pre celebration...  so we're all at my mother-in-law's house yesterday night, sitting around opening presents and eating chocolate (!), and we don't have any Christmas music.  Oh no!  We try playing a channel on the cable box, but it's really lame Christmas muzak.  What to do... wait a minute, my Palm Pre has Amazon's MP3 service... so I search for Christmas and get like 3,000 hits, and the second most popular album is Bing Crosby singing Christmas classics.  All right!  I buy it - tap tap - and the songs download - poof, done! - and I plug the Pre into the stereo, and off we go.  Bing singing White Christmas, it doesn't get any better.  Have I told you how much I love my Pre?

Looks like about 2/3 of the U.S. had a white Christmas!  Cozy and fun for many, but a headache for some, especially those traveling back from "going home".  Out here in L.A. it has been cold (40o, brrr!) but no sign of snow :)

Powerline: the climate change scam, a concise summary.  I know, weather isn't climate, but when you dig into the science of climate you discover there doesn't seem to be any climate change.  The warmest year in the U.S. in the last century was 1934.

Harbin ice festivalHarbin ice festivalIt's time again for the amazing Harbin Ice Festival in China.  Stunning.  Someday I must go there to see it in person...  Wow.  The way they light up the ice from underneath is amazing.
(kind of reminds me of all the flora on Pandora, in Avatar :)


rodeo Pinot

Saturday,  12/26/09  08:12 PM

nothing is scarier than a clown, especially in your wine cellar...


blind wine tasting

Saturday,  12/26/09  08:35 PM

A couple weeks ago we hosted a blind wine tasting... it was great fun, a perfect excuse for a party.  Not that we ever need an excuse.  Anyway in the public interest I thought I'd document how we did it.  I make no claim that this is the only way to do it, or the best, but I can tell you it worked great and a wonderful time was had by all.

So here's the concept: everyone brings a bottle of wine, everyone's wines are tasted and rated "blind", and prizes are awarded for the winners.  In our particular case we told everyone they could bring any wine they liked so long as it cost no more than $20.  You may wish to restrict the kind of wines (reds, Pinots, etc.) and use a different dollar limit (or no limit!).

ready for tasting - blinded, opened, and labeled...

As everyone arrives, I take the bottles and wrap them in foil.  Then I pull the cork to let them breathe for a bit.  Wrapping bottles in foil doesn't blind them perfectly - you can still tell a lot from the bottle shape - but it is pretty good and really easy.  Each wine is labeled with a unique number; I use little tags which hang around the neck of the bottle.

tasting in progress - serious fun...

Next it's time for tasting!tasting scoresheet - click to enlarge  Everyone doesn't have to taste every wine; they can just try whatever wines they like, and rate them, on a scale from 1-10.  Yeah, everyone won't have the same definition for a "7", but so be it; we all have a somewhat intuitive feel for rating stuff from 1-10, and it all averages out.

I made little scoresheets with the numbers of all the wines, as shown at left, and a box of cheap pens is helpful.  People don't have to put their names on the scoresheets (unless they want to get them back later :)  I encouraged everyone to try their favorite wines twice; that way they can refine their scores, and enjoy more of their favorites...

As people finish tasting they turn in their scoresheets (and again, everyone doesn't have to taste every wine).  We then compute the average score for each wine.  Yes there will be math.  If you have about thirty guests tasting about ten wines each, there will be so much math that you may wish to use a spreadsheet, as I did.  That makes it possible to compute the scores for each wine in realtime, and we actually had a crowd gathered around the laptop eagerly watching as the final scoresheets were tallied.  In our case about five wines were neck-and-neck, so the suspense was palpable :)  And then finally... the great unveiling.  Everyone gathers 'round as the top wines are revealed and those who brought the top wines are congratulated.  We gave our winners a Venturi Wine Aerator, but of course bragging rights are the real prize.

the winners are revealed...  and the crowd goes crazy

Finally the contestants are arranged in score order (the wines, not the guests) and everyone can take a look, and even take another taste.  Our winner was a Sonoma Zinfandel, second place was a Meritage from Napa, and third was a central coast Cabernet.  Fourth was a New Zealand Pinot; my own entry :)

Anyway it was so much fun, we'll probably do it again.  Good friends, good wine, and good fun; what could be better?


Mountain High

Sunday,  12/27/09  09:49 PM

And so today we skied, at Mountain High in Wrightwood.  Not the greatest skiing but it was fun; pretty nice to get up, drive a couple of hours, ski all day, and be home in time for dinner.  I love L.A.

freshly groomed and ready for carving
35o, no wind, and the sun poking through
what could be better?

Riya and Meg, my delightful (and delighted) companions

the perfect way to wrap up a great Christmas weekend!

I will observe that anymore skiers are outnumbered by snowboarders about 100:1.  Mountain High totally caters to 'boarders; lots of jumps, pipes, rails, etc.; even the chairs and lift lines are designed for them.  I may have to take up snowboarding; have done it twice, but didn't take it seriously.  I must tell you it does look fun.  A possibility in 2010...


Sunday,  12/27/09  10:23 PM

Did you have a nice Christmas weekend?  I hope so...  I certainly did.  Seems like from Christmas Eve through today it lasted for ..d..a..y..s.., and yet now suddenly poof! it is over, and tomorrow it will be back to work.  So be it.  And so it is time for a filter pass, because yes, it's all happening...

iSlate? - rumors rampantI don't like engaging in speculation but man, the blogosphere is positively going crazy over the prospect of an Apple tablet computer, rumored to be called iSlate, rumored to be announced at the end of January.  Cult of Mac's take seems prescient, that the tablet will me more like an iPhone than an iMac, in order to extend the Apple App Store franchise.  I totally believe this, but who knows if it's true :)

Jamie Zawinski: how to use Facebook with a feed reader.  Huh.  Three things, 1) I wonder if this is useful or merely cool (need to try it), 2) I wonder why Facebook makes this so hard; is it deliberate or benign neglect, 3) I have subscribed to the JWZ feed, lots of good stuff.  (but LiveJournal?  Really?)  If you don't know Jamie was one of the original Netscape crew.

mountain Yak - hang in there! (click to enbiggen!)Picture of the day, a mountain Yak (click to enbiggen), Yikes!
Hang in there!!

So here is some important work: study finds link between house chores and sex.  "We're not saying that housework causes sex; rather there are groups who 'do it all' and other groups who do not."  Not only interesting but accurate in that they don't muddle correlation and causality.

Amazon's KindleUnbelievable: as of this Holiday season Amazon's Kindle is the most gifted item in their history, and as a result Amazon sold more virtual books than real books on Christmas Day.  Wow.  And yet this is no anomaly, it is the future.  I must tell you I *still* love mine...

An interesting little mini discussion on Instapundit about students' motivations; I like this: "America has the world’s worst 18-year-olds and the world’s best 30-year-olds."  I wonder if this is because the world's best 18-year-olds move to the U.S.?

Space Shuttle: men at work, with a view (click to enbiggen!)Okay we had a picture of the day, so maybe this can be the space picture of the day: Men at work, with a view (click to enbiggen).

CNet's top ten [tech] news stories of the decade.  Their #1 is Google launches Adwords and becomes tech's most important company, which is hard to argue with...

SR-71 R/C plane!Here we have the coolest remote controlled plane you've seen: an SR-71 blackbird.  Wow.

Sadly, this movie violates the inverted pyramid dictum; it starts out boring, with titles etc., but hang in there because watching the plane take off and fly is worth it.


the hour of Pink

Wednesday,  12/30/09  09:12 PM

well we made it
but we made it

Pink is history
I will tell you more later, but
for now I will say I am wearing a big smile


Thursday,  12/31/09  09:39 AM

Time and past time for a filter pass...  Happy New Year's Eve y'all!  I have been on deadline with a project at work, and yes, we made it, barely, and that was good.  I was up most of the night Tuesday and crashed last night, and am now back to normal (well, what passes for normal for me anyway :) wearing a big smile.  Today features cookie eating, dinner, and later on a wine tasting at friends at which I can celebrate 2009 properly and blast into 2010 in style...

In the meantime...  let's see what's happening out there, shall we?

Obama and Iran: this is a moment in history, and he's missing it.  Yeah, too busy golfing in Hawaii I guess...

On the TSA: "their obsession with fighting the last war is so strong that I expect any day to see them building wooden forts at our nation's airports in order to keep the redcoats at bay".  Ridiculous, as Christopher Hitchens notes in the truth about airport security.

dark matter in space, from the year in space, 2009NewScientist: the year in space, 2009.

webOS 1.3.5 installed!So I upgraded my little Pre to 1.3.5, and I love it.  The whole OS feels faster, again.  How great that Palm can keep rolling out meaningful updates.  There is also this: Exchange syncing on huge folders now works (which means my Sent mail is now available, and searchable), and when you have more than one number for someone they are all referred back to one contact, which is great.  Texts are now searchable too; increasingly important as I have some friends who use text as an alternative to email :)

So I say "I love my Pre", and iPhone users say "yeah but there are no apps for the Pre".  Which isn't true, there are now about 1,000.  But really, a Pre comes with everything I need out of the box: phone, contacts, calendar, browser, email, texts, camera, GPS, you name it.  And check out Wired's list of their 20 favorite iPhone apps.  They're all junk!  Games and stuff.  Nothing "real".  I grant you the iPhone is an incredible platform, but if you didn't already have one you would never buy one for the apps.

Matt Haughey is selling PVRBlog, and has made his last post: the decade of the DVR.  He will be missed.  Indeed Tivos and their brethren have fully taken over...

planetary gravity wellsGravity wells for the solar system, scaled to Earth's.  Very cool.  You can see why plotting planetary travel is complicated...

Uh oh: women can sense attraction in men's sweat.  Crap.  I guess we create our own gravity wells :)

the Andromeda galaxyWe are not alone: 85 years ago, Hubble discovers Andromeda is a galaxy rather than a star, and Wired marks the moment.

blue moon!Are you ready?  Tonight will not only be the end of the year, and the end of the decade, it will be a Blue Moon!  How often does that happen?

Looking forward to seeing the new Sherlock Holmes movie; the blogosphere seems to like it, including Eric Raymond...

To be fair, that's a lot of decline to hide.  Wow.  A lot...

RSS and Twitter? Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate?Marrying RSS and Twitter?  Huh.  Not sure I get it, but will continue to track... 

bears holding hands...Picture of the day...  awww...

Okay, people, listen up: it's twenty-ten.  Got that?  Not two-oh-one-oh, nor two thousand ten.  So be it.  See you over there!


my last naughty post

Thursday,  12/31/09  05:45 PM

the Y2K bomb - fizzledMy last "naughty" post... of the 2000s... aka the naughties?  Not clear yet how they will be remembered, but they were eventful to be sure.  My life certainly went through a large number of changes in the past ten years, wow.  It seems like only yesterday I was concerned with Intuit's bill payment service making it through Y2K...  and AOL buying Time Warner, and the dot-com bubble in full swing.  Amazing.  And then we had 9/11, certainly the defining event of the decade (I think history will agree), and all the rest that followed...  and of course the great depression of the late naughts, from which we are only just emerging.

ScanScope CS - the Aperio legacyWe moved back to Westlake Village and I spent most of the decade helping build Aperio from a three-person startup into a real company, and watching my kids grow up, and having a pretty good time eating and drinking and cycling and sailing.  I can't complain though sometimes I still do.

And of course on 1/1/2003 I did something momentous, I made my first post to Critical Section.  And now, 2,030 posts later, I am *still* posting.  It is pretty cool to have my own personal record ...

countdown... 2010!And so what will the 'tens hold for us?  So hard to say, isn't it?  The future is cloudy but bright.  The immediate future holds a wine-tasting party, and then a day of eating and football.  That's always a great way to start the year.  And Saturday I'm riding a 200K, starting off the year right...  After that we'll see, 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