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Archive: January 2010

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Happy New Decade!

Friday,  01/01/10  01:01 PM

the Matrix - becoming visible...And so we have a new decade!  Wow.  Looking around it doesn't seem that different to the old one... it is a beautiful day (watched some of the Rose Parade this morning, and yeah, more of those people freezing in Iowa will be making plans to move out :) and there will be football (go Ducks), and there will be friends to share it with and tamales to enjoy with it.  And perhaps there will be a brief bike ride too as I attempt to work off the deserts and candy and great wine in great quantities from last night (thanks! Cindy and Russ thanks!)

Happy New Decade to y'all!

PS big change already - we moved the couch in our family room, after eight years in one place.  So it's apparently going to be a decade of change :)


Friday,  01/01/10  09:19 PM

Not blogging about football - yet - too many of you still have Tivoed stuff yet to watch, I know...  I can tell you that I enjoyed it all, ate too many tamales with too much chili, and am in no shape at all for an early morning 200K tomorrow.

McDonald's space station float - 2010 Rose ParadeDid you watch the Rose Parade this morning?  Kitschy but fun, somehow... you have to love those bands from random places and the horses, and the floats are tasty eye candy.  I loved the one with the bulldog on the snowboard, that was amazing, but I think my favorite was McDonald's space station float.  It was way cool, with moving parts everywhere.

reflecting on the decade, but what do we call it?Last night I referred to the decade past as "the naughties", and promptly received corrections in email; apparently some of y'all think it should be "the aughts".  Well good for you.  Apparently there is no clear consensus, what do you call it?

Man, they're at it again: Hundreds of cars torched in France at New Year.  Reuters can't bear to give the truth of this, they call them "youths", but we all know they are Muslim youths and that France has a huge social/racial problem.  Imagine 1,200 cars being torched overnight in the U.S...

Have you been reading about "personalized medicine" ad nauseam, and wondering just what the heck it means?  Then check out this editorial by Richard Gallagher in TheScientist, which explains it really well...

New Yorker: Van Gogh's EarAwesome article in the New Yorker: Van Gogh's ear.  He was definitely weird and who knows the real story behind his ear (did he cut it off himself, or did his roommate Paul Gauguin?), but man, was he talented...

Dave Winer casts a "no" vote on Sherlock Holmes: Indiana Holmes:  "A total waste - one of the dumbest two hours of movie ever."  Okay.

John Gruber speculates about the Apple tablet.  "The Tablet, I say, is going to be Apple’s new answer to what you use for personal portable general computing."  Interesting, John's guesses about Apple are pretty reliable.

My own view is that the tablet is real, and that it will be a sort of super-iPhone, and that it will be targeted at digital forms of print media; books, magazines, etc.  It will be a sort of super-Kindle, with the ability for magazines and websites to create tailored content to be readable on a slate.  I think the iSlate name seems defensible if a little boring.  Keep in mind the name "iPod" didn't exactly grab everyone at first either and now it is a household name.

Matterhorn by moonlightPicture of the day: Matterhorn by Moonlight, from Doc Searles...  how cool is that?

Onward into 2010 we go...  hey so I didn't tell you about my new year's resolutions, but I have two.  The first is that I'm going to spend more time coding...


first ultra of the decade

Saturday,  01/02/10  08:49 PM

Today I rode my first "ultra" of the decade, the PCH Rando 200K.  I've done this ride in previous years, too, but this year they added some serious climbing; a total of 5,700' spread over 127 miles.  Yikes.  It was great fun.  I managed to do it in 8:00 elapsed, 7:20 riding time, which is pretty good for that much climbing.  Out of 70+ riders, I think I ended up fifth, yay me.  I am completely blown and hobbling around the house, but very happy.  There is no feeling quite like successfully riding an ultra...

the "teeth" at the 55 mile mark are the climb around Lake Castaic
routemap courtesy of the awesome
(note automatically generated profile)

a little excitement at 70 miles (Carpinteria), broke a spoke
was sure I would end up "tacoing" the wheel, but although it was wobbly it made it
thank you Mavic

the view of Santa Cruz Island, 20 miles offshore
the wild beauty of the ocean is a feature of this ride

obligatory shot of the space park at Point Mugu
nice tailwind here, but it was a headwind all the way back to Moorpark

at the finish
one tired puppy, could barely smile, but happy inside :)

A great way to start the decade.  One of the best things about long rides is the think time; you are concentrating on nothing, your mind drifts, and it is such a luxury.  My typical days are go go go always focused on doing something.  Maybe that's why I ride?  I can't say I solved all the world's problems, but I did at least contemplate them for eight hours :)

[Update: thanks to Bill for pointing out this New Yorker cover; that is exactly what goes on in my head while riding...]


time to start the new year

Sunday,  01/03/10  09:22 AM

Good morning!  I slept for 10 hours last night, crashed while watching a football game, and didn't move one muscle after that.  Guess I needed it...  anyways it is a beautiful day, albeit a little windy; a good day for de-Holiday-ifying; the lights are coming off the house, the tree is being un-decorated and dragged to the curb, and my todo lists are being updated.  Fortunately I have *energy* coming out of the 200K yesterday.  Still buzzed and happy.  Ultracycling isn't for everyone but I must tell you it has a definite magic; there's the physical exercise of course but also the mental flossing, and the feeling you have about yourself and the world after you finish a long ride cannot be matched...

2010 vs 2009: more people think it will be worseSo what do you think, will 2010 be better than 2009?  Instapundit is running a poll, and right now "worse" is winning, 40% to 28%...  that surprises me, people are usually optimists even when they don't have reason to be.  I suspect Obama's steep fall from grace is a factor.  Personally I think 2010 will be better, for undefined reasons...

Some weird looking ahead: TechCrunch predicts the top ten digital M&A deals in 2010.  I don't see some of these at all; Cisco acquiring LinkedIn?

Why tending topics are spectacularly useless.  And by implication, why "realtime search" results from Twitter are a fad.  I *still* don't get it, I'm trying, honestly I am, but everytime I try to read Tweets from anyone my brain turns to mush.  BTW as Facebook becomes more like Twitter, it is becoming less interesting.  Have you noticed this too?

Mars roverCool space story of the decade: Mars rovers begin year seven on red planet.  Who knows, maybe they'll be the cool space story of the next decade, too.  In addition to being cool, they've been useful; here's a nice overview of what we have learned from the Mars Rover missions.

Okay, enough blogging around; time to start the new year!



Sunday,  01/03/10  01:58 PM

gnome [carefully] stowedDONE

Lights down, tree undecorated and out, garland out, reindeer garaged, decorations packed, and gnome [carefully] stowed.  Record time (a team effort).  Onward into the decade.


Rockstore! (the video)

Sunday,  01/03/10  10:43 PM

A cycling tour of
the Rockstore climb
including Mulholland
and the wild Decker descent
at 4X playback

I have finally loaded Adobe Premier
and so here you have it;


very not really

Monday,  01/04/10  08:25 AM

A Monday morning observation: the words "very" and "really" are never needed, and invariably detract rather than emphasize.  Really :)


on book ownership

Monday,  01/04/10  06:37 PM

the Kindle bookshelfFrom Dave:

I know from being a regular reader of your blog that you are a big fan of the Kindle. Amazon's sales figures for this past Christmas suggest many others are as well. I'm curious about your thoughts on the issues raised in this speech by Cory Doctorow:

How to Destroy the Book

Do these considerations temper your Kindle enthusiasm at all? Is Cory bringing up real ownership issues of concern, or are they the complaints of someone not willing to consider progress?

From Ole:

I like Cory and like his posts on Boing Boing and elsewhere, but he is definitely at the edge of anti-DRM activism. Although it would technically be possible for Amazon to destroy all the books I’ve ever bought from them for my Kindle, I don’t lose sleep over that. I guess I trust them at some level, or maybe I trust the market; there would be such an uproar if they ever did anything like that, I am confident eventually my books would be restored.

Think of it like this – I have money on deposit at my bank. That money is represented by little 1s and 0s in some computer. Yeah, the bank could destroy all my money but I don’t lose sleep over that, either.

There is a new world now, “information” is being stored digitally, including entertainment content like music, movies, and books. The devices for translating the digital forms of this information into human consumable experiences are getting much better, like the iPod and AppleTV and Kindle, and this is enabling a transition. I am sure in 100 years nobody will have physical forms of any of this information. Books will go into the dustbin of history, just like records and CDs and VHS tapes and DVDs. I must tell you I love books – my house is full of them – but that is the future. I loved records, too, and while I didn’t love VHS tapes I sure had a lot of them, and still have a lot of DVDs which I never watch because of my AppleTV. I know I love my Kindle :)

PS look for this conversation in a blog post … :)


Monday,  01/04/10  07:03 PM

boldly onward!And so we're off!  Boldly onward into a new year...  I have a great state of mind, slate clean, mind cleared, energy level high.  Just got back from a slow creaky Rockstore ride, still recovering from the 200K, but encouraged by editing and posting my little video.  (Thanks for the nice comments BTW :)  And there will be football; just now I am watching TCU against Boise; as a purist I bemoan the encroachment of bowls into January, but it is cool to have big games every night.  Looking forward to Thursday, will be rooting for ‘Bama…

So how are you feeling going into the year?  Optimistic?  Happy?

Tyler Cowen: It may not feel that way right now, but the last 10 years may go down in world history as a big success.  Excellent.

But perhaps not for our President: Why Time passed Obama by.  I wondered about this too, Ben Bernanke?  C'mon.

transparent goldfishImportant work: Japanese scientists create goldfish with invisible scales.  Aka a transparent fish.  Now how cool is that?  Not only cool but useful, it makes inspection of the fishes organs much easier...

Robert Scoble is back to blogging (yay) and back to posting about adaptive cruise control.  To him it is an important safety innovation, which is right of course, but to me it is a way to speed traffic...

A tip for those of you using Win 7 trying to connect to Samba shares (you know who you are :); here's how to get them to work together.  Courtesy of Mr. Google, the greatest tech support tool ever invented.

BW: Five ways Apple's Tablet may change the world.  "The iPad is on the way, and it just might reduce calling costs, cut your commute, and, to the delight of journalists everywhere, pull print media back from the brink."  We shall see...

don't tweet (or blog, or Facebook) out of context...This I love: Ten things thou shalt not Tweet.  Nor blog.  Anything is better than being boring.  I must confess by blogging about cycling I violate #5, "your workout," quite often; sorry...  I especially agree with #7, "speaking out of context"; this means you, my Facebook friends; posting something weird and enigmatic doesn't make you cool, it makes you boring.  Sorry.

The inimitable Mark Pilgrim dives into HTML 5: A form of madness.  Entertaining even if you don't give a whit about HTML 5 or indeed know what it is.

Fox: New HDTV's to be obsolete?  Thanks a lot, 3D.  I'm afraid so... with Avatar's incredible success, the writing is on the wall.  It will be interesting to see what solution evolves for filtering eyes; will we all be wearing glasses in our family rooms?  Contact lenses?  Seems like a technology barrier still exists...

Slashdot asks a great question: Whatever happened to Second Life?  Yeah, it was all the rage three years ago, and now, you never hear about it anymore...

Fark's Headlines of the Year.  Please be sure to put down any sharp objects and hot liquids before clicking this link.  The winner: "Gas blowing out exit brings 69 to a complete halt."

With that, onward...  into a couple of really busy days.  See you on the other side!


out to new worlds (BlPh)

Monday,  01/04/10  08:46 PM



Act Three

Wednesday,  01/06/10  11:34 PM

Act Three, in which it all plays out...

So, what do you love about music?  To begin with, everything!  Tonight my glorious philosopher iPod dialed up the random play track of the world, and it was heaven.  No set which begins with Van Halen's Panama can go wrong; and there was Nirvana, and Metallica..  I am indeed unforgiven!

I think I need to see Avatar again.  There is an addiction here, I can tell... the blue people, must collect the blue people...

I am [re]reading William Gibson's neuromancer.  For having been written in 1984, twenty five years ago, it is remarkably prescient; among other things, the concept of avatars in cyberspace was introduced...  you see, all you people who want to visit Pandora; it doesn't really exist you know; it is only a construct of the Matrix :)

Matrix operator


Get me a construct...

Okay, patching you in now...

We are all jacked in, right now.  Maybe you are not actually reading this, you just think you are...

Reality is just a series of nested frames.  

Google Nexus OneAnd so the Google Nexus One was introduced, and it was good.  You probably thought the Droid was the one you were looking for, the definitive implementation of Android, but now you can see, you thought wrong.  But doesn't this seem like a false move on Google's part, akin to Microsoft competing with Dell and HP?  The platform strategy here is very interesting...

In other news, Apple announces 3B apps have been downloaded in 18 months.  That is B as in nine zeros.  Wow.

How to change the world: how to make an iPhone App.  Where "App" is a packaged RSS feed...

In other news, the Nexus may get FlashInteresting...

And finally (yawn) Steve Ballmer gives a CES keynote.  Does anyone care what he said?  For the record, he announced "slate PCs", perhaps the first known instance where the first was a me-too.  I don't think the Apple tablet is going to be called iSlate, I think it is going to be called iBook, which Apple already owns, and which they can now repurpose beautifully.  John Gruber: I'm left with the impression of a company that's flailing...

Tim Oren reviews The Hardware in Question, which resulted from an Uninstall - from his leg.  Wow.  Best of luck, Tim, for a speedy recovery!

Please put down all sharp objects and hot liquids before clicking: How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell.  (From the awesome Oatmeal; subscribed!)


grand canyon flythrough

Thursday,  01/07/10  10:56 PM

the very definition of awesome


Thursday,  01/07/10  11:15 PM

Alabama over Texas in the first stand-alone BCS championshipWell, the college football season is  f i n a l l y  over.  I am back to my purist stance, although it was all very exciting having football to watch this week, it was much better when we had the season end on New Year's Day.  Compress the schedule, get rid of the crappy riff raff bowls, have the final four bowls and then it is done.  Too much eating this way, among other things, and how weird to have "the big game" on a working weeknight...  and meanwhile it's all happening, quite a day in the technical blogosphere...

My comment on last night's game; it was better than we had reason to hope, given that it ended in the middle of the first quarter when Texas QB Colt McCoy exited after a hard hit.  But it wasn't that good; considering we were watching #1 play #2 there sure were a lot of dumb plays.

And so it is time to switch to pro football; speaking of which, my friend Yogi and I have scored front row seats for the San Diego Charger's playoff game on Sunday Jan 17, just like we did last year.  (You may be jealous, but keep it to yourself.)  We don't know who they're playing yet, the algorithm is complicated but I believe it could be Cincinnati, the Jets, or [a rematch from last year] New England.  Yay.

Apropos, Kottke notes the rise of the punter.  "Are NFL punters the most valuable defensive players on their teams?  Punters think so...and so do an increasing number of coaches and teams."  In the Charger's overtime win over the Colts last year we watched the Bolts' Mike Scifres have what might be the best game of any punter, ever; as I noted:

He averaged 52.7 yards for his six punts; all six were inside the 20, and four were downed inside the 10.  One 67 yarder cleared the returner's head by thirty feet before landing inside the five and spinning back like a nine-iron.  And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he stuck a 51 yarder right into the coffin corner, pinning the Colts at the one.

Palm Pre Plus announced on Verizon!Yippee the Palm Pre Plus is out (do we call it the P3?), on Verizon along with little sister the Pixi Plus, so now Palm graduates to the largest cell network from the smallest (Sprint).  The Pre+ has some nice enhancements, including a new hotspot capability that allows it so serve as a WiFi gateway to the cell network, but what's really important is that they opened their development platform all the way, and this has enabled Adobe to develop Flash.  Wow.  The smartphone playing field has shifted again.  I love it!

[Update: Engadget's hands' on report.  They like it, among other things the keyboard is better.]

John Gruber engages in some Tablet Musings; he thinks it will not run Flash, and I agree.  That could be an Achilles heel but a client runtime like Flash routes around an App Store's walled garden.

Interesting: in addition to the HP "slate" announced by Steve Ballmer yesterday, there's another which will run Android instead of Windows.  And Android will presumably morph into Google OS?

Avatar - coming soon in 3D to your family room!At the CES show ongoing just now in Las Vegas 3D television is all the rage, but MoneyCentral thinks it will flop.  Bsst!  That's so wrong, those guys did not take the blue pill [yet].  As the Economist notes, we'll have Avatar in the home... as soon as they get rid of those geeky glasses...

Did you note?  The awesome Grand Canyon Flyover did not violate the inverted pyramid rule; it got going right away.  Nice.  But not nice, this video was originally posted on Vimeo, from where it could not be embedded!  How lame is that?  So I had to use ClipNabber to download the video and then upload it to YouTube.  Probably violated all sorts of laws, too.  Why oh why didn't the Vimeo people just make the viewer embeddable?  Lame.


the power of forward movement in platforms

Friday,  01/08/10  08:06 AM


It is Monday

The Apple iPhone dominates the smartphone market.   It has the best features and the largest installed base, and most importantly the best application ecosystem, with thousands of third-party applications which enable the iPhone to do lots of additional things.   Also rans include RIM’s Blackberry, and Palm’s Pre.   There is an interesting challenger from Motorola called Droid, which runs Google’s Android system; it is getting high marks for an open application development environment.   Still no significant challenge to Apple seems possible.

It is Tuesday

Google announces their Nexus One phone!  It is the best implementation of Android yet, slick, capable, and pretty.   Reviewers like Walt Mossberg in the WSJ like it.   Momentum changes.   The market story becomes Apple vs Google.   There are comparisons made at the feature level, and at the application ecosystem level; most give an edge to Apple for their large base, but tip Google for a better development environment.   The feel of the market has changed overnight, because of Google’s forward movement in their platform.   Suddenly it appears to be a two horse race.

It is Wednesday

Palm announces the Pre Plus!  It is newly available on Verizon, the largest cell network, in addition to Sprint, the smallest, and has spiffy feature improvements such as a “hotspot” feature which enables it to serve as a WiFi hub (!)   Importantly Palm opens application development entirely, enabling Adobe to ship Flash for this platform; neither the iPhone nor Android support Flash.  The story becomes Palm’s comeback.   The feel of the market has changed overnight, because of Palm’s forward movement in their platform.   Suddenly it appears to be a three horse race.

It is Thursday

And so we see how quickly markets can change.   A competitor does something, and the market dynamics shift.   The change can be subtle, but once the playing field shifts everything repositions.   Tomorrow RIM might announce changes to the Blackberry platform, and then it could be a four horse race.   Or Apple could announce something new, tilting the market once again to reassert their dominance.

This delightful dance shows how important it is to keep chugging, keep trying to understand what customers want, and what developers want, keep making improvements, keep iterating.  The phone competition is especially interesting because the entrants are not just products, they are platforms; each phone OS not only provides a raft of features to consumers, it enables a much larger raft to be created by third-parties.   The shifts in phone features don’t move the market as dramatically as the shifts in application ecosystems; that's the power of forward movement in platforms.

It is Friday

What will happen?  Who will win?



Friday,  01/08/10  05:30 PM

I am in a great mood right now.  Nothing is more boring than a happy person, sorry, I wish I had some deep issues to discuss, but I don't.  Just got back from a great ride - Rockstore (again), and met a fellow rider who pushed me to do it hard - and am now contemplating a nice dinner out with 4/5th of my family and then a weekend with nothing to do but code.  How great is that?

open platformsI reread my "platforms" post from this morning and got some email in response from some of you; this is going to be a good discussion, I can tell.  Important for me aside from the philosophy of it, too, because what we're trying to do at Aperio is create a platform, not only deliver great systems to customers but also create an environment for others to make our great systems greater, and the tactics employed by big successful companies like Apple, Google, Palm, and RIM make for instructive consideration.

House of PalmApropos Palm debuted their House of Palm app store today.  Importantly the site is optimized for viewing on a Palm (!), and they have RSS feeds (!!) although sadly the feed items are truncated and lacking graphics.  I will be monitoring their progress with great interest :)

MSN: It's all about the apps.  An interesting point: "With most apps now selling for nothing - 80% of the downloads from Apple's app store are free - the challenge for developers isn't writing software or even getting it accepted by Apple or Google. It's getting paid."

Tim Oren: Is Nexus a Platform War mistake?  "I think Google's move is no mistake, and the analogy to the PC market is false in this case. Both for the same reason: Wireless carriers."  He goes on to cite two purposes for Nexus, a high-end exemplar of what can be done with Android, and a market test for smartphones not subsidized by a carrier.  I get the second move, it's cool and bold and perhaps only Google could do it (Apple couldn't or at least didn't, they used AT&T).  But the first motive seems false; putting the high-end exemplar out there competes with all your distributors.  How do Motorola feel about their would-be-high-end Droid now?

Intel gets into the act with an app store (lamely called "AppUp"), but I don't get it.  These are applications for Netbooks, Linux-based.  I don't get Netbooks, and they've been flying off the shelves, so there's a lot here I don't get :)

augmented reality iPhone controller helicopterThink this augmented reality concept doesn't have wings?  Then check this out: the first iPhone-controlled augmented reality helicopter.  The first but not the last; this might seem like a toy but imagine the possibilities...  really this is a sort of Avatar.  (We need a 3D camera version :)  Stay tuned for a lot more of this sort of thing.

Possibly one thing standing in the way of augmented reality is the term itself; something catchier and less geeky is needed.  <your phrase here>

extended album art: Pink Floyd's AnimalsThis is beautiful: extended album art.  In which artists imagine the larger scene in which various albums were set...  Pink Floyd's enigmatic Animals is extended beautifully!  [ via Boing Boing ]

A well-reasoned and informative rant: Why you should use OpenGL and not DirectX.  If the "you" in question is a game designer, that is.  The availability of OpenGL on mobile platforms like iPhone and Pre has become important.

Lost: What?  If you've lost a "what", you might find it here :)


my dinner with Mr. Intensity

Saturday,  01/09/10  10:09 AM

Jerry West - Mr. Clutch, the logo, and... Mr. Intensity!Last night we went out to dinner; Shirley, Jordan, Meg, and me, at a little place down the street called Leila's.  We like Leila's, it's cool; a hidden gem in a shopping mall, good food and great wine, plus they have a cheese plate to die for...  but I digress, because I was telling you about my dinner with Jerry West.  So we're seated at a table, and at the next table is another party of four which includes Mr. West. 

I'm going to call him Mister, because he's been my hero for forty years; when I was a young teen and a huge Lakers fan, he was their leader, the little white guy who took over games with his sharpshooting, laser passing, and defensive intensity.  He was the best; John Stockton before John Stockton, Steve Nash before Steve Nash.  Chick Hearn nicknamed him "Mr. Clutch".  Later on he became the Lakers' coach, leading them to championships with Kareen Abdul-Jabbar, and then general manager, making the deals which brought Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant to the Lakers.  And Phil Jackson!  But I digress, because I was telling you about our dinner.

So Mr. West is at the next table, and it so happens that he and I were facing each other.  He seemed to be having a great time, calm, smiling, drinking wine, engaged in conversation.  But every time we locked eyes I got this incredible sense of intensity.  It was amazing; he wasn't staring at me and probably wasn't thinking about me at all, and yet wham! this laser like intensity was beamed at me.  It was really quite cool.  I found myself staring without staring, if you know what I mean, just so I could pick up the signal.  I'd love it if I could transmit that kind of intensity.  I'll have to work on that :)

PS reading his NBA bio, I found this phrase: "Despite a level of intensity so high it could melt lead, West was one of the most admired and well-liked figures in professional basketball."  I'm staring at my computer screen right now, practicing.  Can you feel it?


Saturday,  01/09/10  06:54 PM

Watching football while blogging...  The Jets and the Bengals are freezing in Cincinnati, it is 22o with a wind chill of 7o.  Whew.  Actually it seems to be snowing just about everywhere.  Meanwhile I just got back from a bike ride, it was a little cold, had to wear a long-sleeved jersey.  I love Southern California :)

So what color are you?  I can't believe people are actually upset about this.  It's harmless fun, first and foremost, and if it calls attention to breast cancer all the better.  Personally I prefer Pink :)

Asus Waveface smartphone braceletCoolest gadget this year: the Asus Wave smartphone/ bracelet.  Is this really real?  'Cause if it is, how excellent; it has an OLED display, and you control it by gesturing with your fingers.  And if it isn't real, it should be; what a great idea...

Microsoft tablet - circa 2000This I love: Apple looms over CES from afar.  "A device that doesn't yet exist from a company that doesn't even exhibit at CES was the most buzzed-about thing at the biggest gadgetfest in the world."  I have a friend who works for Microsoft, and who is [understandably] miffed that Ballmer's keynote was treated as a me-too announcement, when Microsoft has been shipping tablets for ten years.  Remember the original tablet?  Yeah, me neither, but I looked it up; that's it at right...

In re: the Android platform discussion; Om Malik wonders What should Motorola do now?  (after "partner" Google has announced a competing product.)  His answer: buy Palm!  Huh.

Tesla in blueI got a call today from a Tesla salesperson.  Invited me to Santa Monica for a test drive.  Wow.  I think I might go tomorrow, if nothing else it would make a nice bike ride :) about 75 miles round trip...


Tesla test launch

Sunday,  01/10/10  09:21 PM

Yee haw!  Today I test drove launched a Tesla Roadster.

As I mentioned I'd been invited to Tesla's Santa Monica store for a test drive, and this afternoon I rode down there and hung out for a couple of hours ogling cars.  And then I drove one... whoa!  So you've read the reviews, you know what everyone says, there is this incredible torque right off the line, and it goes smoothly 0-60 in 3.7s and 40-80 in no time at all.  But you have no idea how that really feels until you've sat in one and done it yourself.  It is amazing.  There is a slight whoosh and bam! you are going 60mph, with your body flattened into the bucket seats.  Amazing.  I could do that all day :)

The cars are truly teeny, with just enough room for two people and a storage compartment for a golf bag.  Perfect for traveling from A to B, just you and a friend, but forget anything you ever thought about carrying "stuff" along.  The soft top is easily removed and replaced, and leaves considerable headroom; but you will feel like you are 8 inches off the road while driving (which you are :) 

The car handles well, steering is tight, and the ride is smoother than you might think considering the size of the car; I believe because of the batteries it is heavier than you might think, too.  The regenerative braking makes the car feel like it has a manual transmission; you let your foot off the gas, and it slows down immediately.  You basically control how fast you're going with just the accelerator, and barely need brakes.

I have to say I am left wanting one badly, not to have an electric car, but to have a car which drives like this, which oh by the way happens to be electric.  Anyway it was great fun, much more than a good excuse for an 80 mile ride...

my mighty steed
not crazy about that orange, but the carbon fibre trim is rather excellent

the cockpit is big enough for you and a friend, and nothing else

nice wheel, and the steering is tight...
gauge on the left is speedometer, on the right is volts delivered; the green range is regenerative braking
there is a spiffy touchscreen in the middle which controls all the car's settings

the powertrain
276 ft-lbs of torque, up to 12,000 rpm, and a single-speed transmission

test launch!  off we go...

two thumbs up, whoa!

cool, comes in a nice blue, too...  hmmm :)



Full house, tens high

Sunday,  01/10/10  10:01 PM

binary coding01/10/10 at 10:01; full house, tens high :)

...and so today I coded...  it was good.

jumping whale!Say you're a whale.  Say you're happy.  Say you feel like, I don't know, jumping for joy.  What do you do?  You jump for joy, of course!  WOW.  And how amazing must it have been to be right there, watching?

So CES is over, and what did we learn this week?  Android (especially the Google Nexus One), and 3D TV.  Even though the former gathered more headlines, I think the latter is going to be more significant in the long run.  Everyone who's seen Avatar walks out of the theater primed to buy 3D for their family room.

So did you watch the playoffs today?  Did you see Kurt Warner put on a performance of the ages, leading Arizona to a 51-45 overtime win over Green Bay?  Wow, how cool was that...  I don't think Arizona is going all the way, and I don't think Mr. Warner is coming back next year, but what a way to exit, stage left.  Go old guys!

Huh, really?  TechCrunch thinks this will be the year Adobe's 2M Flash developers come to the iPhone.  I don't think Apple will ever support a Flash runtime, but I do think Adobe will successfully create a Packager for iPhone to compile Flash source code into a native iPhone app.  And I do think that will be big.  (And since Aperio has a digital pathology viewer built with Flash, I do think I'm rooting for it to happen!)

printer quality graphFrom the Oatmeal: printers were sent from hell to make us miserable.  "Printers, unlike other technologies, are remarkable in the fact that they're just as crappy and unreliable now as they were in 1995."  Amen.


Monday,  01/11/10  09:06 PM

Great ride this evening, Rockstore, timed it perfectly in the darkening night...  but *not* warm.  Following another day of coding...

Apropos my bike riding: Exercise helps with mild cognitive impairment.  "Moderate physical activity performed in midlife or later appears to be associated with a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment, whereas a six-month high-intensity aerobic exercise program may improve cognitive function in individuals who already have the condition."  Good to know.

I wonder if this is a trend: Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me.  "Throw the bums out. All of them. And this is how it begins."  I sure is true that the two-party system is flawed, the worst, as they say, except for all others.  I seem to fall cleanly between them, siding mostly with Republicans on national defense and the economy, and mostly with Democrats on social issues.

Popular Mechanics issue #1, 108 years ago in 1902Wow, 108 years ago, Popular Mechanics was launched.

Om Malik thinks Motorola should buy Palm.  And John Gruber agrees.  "If you want to compete in today’s mobile market, you need great software. The problem with Android for Motorola is that they don’t own the software. If they bought Palm, they would."  Makes sense, but I hope they don't; Palm seems to have a good vibe as a stand-alone company again.

So, is it just me, or is eBay broken?  It used to be such a simple, easy-to-use site, but over the years it has become crufty with options and add-on fees and links and menus.  It takes much longer and feels much more confusing to list something for sale than ever before.  Unfortunately there's no real competition to force change, either - the network effect is too strong...  yeah I know, it's not just me.  Boo.

Breathless Agony 2010!And so it begins ... again ... registered for the Breathless Agony today, in May.  A wonderful 114 mile ride with 12,000' of climbing up to the Onyx pass, 8,400'.  Can't wait :)


the Landing

Monday,  01/11/10  09:15 PM

the Westlake Landing

The Westlake Landing at dusk
not photoshopped, it really was that beautiful
(taken with my Palm Pre - not bad :)


week of 1/11/10, redux

Friday,  01/15/10  07:55 PM

Quite a nonstandard week; most of my colleagues were traveling all week for one reason or another, so I worked quietly at home - got quite a bit done, yay, and shipped a crucial fix - but today everyone was back and so I'm back too, in Vista, on a Friday.  And in fact I'm still there, because tomorrow *early* I'm riding the Stagecoach Century in Ocotillo, whew.  So I need sleep but first, a filter pass...

Victor Davis Hanson: Truths we dare not speak.  1) Illegal Immigration and California, 2) Iraq, 3) Affirmative Action, 4) The Ivy League is a Naked Emperor, and 5) The Middle East is a Fraud.  Wow.  Read the whole thing, as they say...  I find I not only agree with VDH often, but find he is thinking ahead of me.

And questions we should ask: Why is Haiti so poor?

Transparency redefined: President Obama has not held a press conference since July 22.  No comment.

From the LAT: Obama personally joins Massachusetts quake relief.  This is quite interesting, if Scott Brown wins - as is now appearing possible, if not likely - then Obama has a lot to lose by associating himself with this election.

U.S.S. Independance - anti-pirate shipA new anti-pirate ship, the U.S.S. Independence.  Cool.  A 200' long amphibious speedboat, capable of over 60 knots.  Who knew we would need these in the 21st century, but we do...  [ via Gates of Vienna ]

Google Nexus One smartphoneMG Siegler on TechCrunch gives an iPhone lover's take on the Nexus One.  "I’ll come right out and say what everyone will want to know: Do I think the Nexus One is better than the iPhone? No."  He does like it, though... tellingly the biggest shortcoming is the applications.

Eric Wiesen considers More Platforms?  "Startups have limited resources. If you are care about your mobile app, build a great app that can and will be used by the people who use apps all the time. Today, those people are iPhone users. Unless your app is deeply specific to another platform (like Viigo, for instance), you are better off trying to really succeed in the low-hanging fruit garden that is the iPhone.This is the incredible value of the network effect Apple has created, the same as Microsoft did with Windows on the PC.  If people only develop for one mobile platform, it will be the iPhone, and if they develop for more than one chances are their iPhone implementation will be their best.

Apple App economy - info-graphicApropos: From GigaOM: The Apple App Store economy, an info-graphic.  Click through to see it all, amazing.  This is a platform in action.  [ via Cult of Mac ]

The amazing Onion's highlights from CES.  I particularly like the "noise-postponing headphones", and as Boing Boing notes, "the TI-101 Graphing Bassoon", at last!

I love this so much: Electrosensitives tormented by radio tower that had been switched off for six months.  "A group of South African "electrosensitive" activists had been tormented by their local packet-data radio tower, with terrible symptoms that only subsided when they left the area.  They're suing.  Only one problem: during a six week period while they were experiencing their symptoms, the tower was switched off, but the symptoms persisted.  So, either the symptoms are psychosomatic, or these people are allergic to very tall pieces of inert metal."  Of course, they're still suing.

Priori Acute.  Massively cool, a 3Dish typeface.  As John Gruber notes, "if M.C.Escher had been a type designer".

This reminds me of the great Univers Revolved project, in which I took Wired magazine's circularly symmetry font and made an actual TrueType font out of it...  who knows how I ever made time for something like that!


TechCrunch reports Google GDrive Launches. Just Don’t Call It That.  Aka an online repository for, well, everything.  "You can soon upload any file type at all to Google Docs, not just the dozen or so Office formats that the service allowed as of yesterday.  Video files.  Images.  Audio Files.  Even Zip files.  As long as those files are 250 MB or smaller, you’re good.  The new feature will roll out over the next several weeks, says Google."  Huh, cool.

Microsoft Office, the movie :)Microsoft Office, the movie.  Hilarious.  Yes, you must watch it, but first please set down any sharp objects or hot liquids...  too bad Microsoft themselves don't do stuff like this, I think it would work for them.

Salon's cheat sheet for the best wine values... anywhere.   Print it out and carry it with you, in case of emergencies!  I do agree with finding nonstandard appellations for better prices, seems like the market has been chasing me around the world for years, first Chilean Cabs, then Spanish Tempranillo, then Argentinean Malbec...  now stay away from New Zealand Pinot, okay!

Huh, Flash on your iPhone, right now.  A Flash runtime written in JavaScript.  I don't even know what that means, exactly - does this interpret a Flash movie at runtime?  It seems cool, but I can't connect the dots.  I guess if this is a real solution to running Flash on iPhones, we'll know it soon enough :)

MIT food printerWow what a concept: MIT's food printer.  "Cornucopia's cooking process starts with an array of food canisters, which refrigerate and store a user's favorite ingredients. These are piped into a mixer and extruder head that can accurately deposit elaborate combinations of food. While the deposition takes place, the food is heated or cooled by Cornucopia's chamber or the heating and cooling tubes located on the printing head. This fabrication process not only allows for the creation of flavors and textures that would be completely unimaginable through other cooking techniques, but it also allows the user to have ultimate control over the origin, quality, nutritional value and taste of every meal."  I can has cheezburger?

Hey guess what?  Michael Rasmussen is back, with a Continental team called Miche Silver Cross.  "Rasmussen had wanted to ride for a higher-ranked team which would enable him to race one or more Grand Tours.  'I had hoped that I would return to a higher level than what is now the case.  But there is so much hypocrisy in cycling, it was not possible,' he told Danish website"  Unfortunately we won't see him in the grand tour pelotons this year, but perhaps it is a stepping stone back...


blazing sunset

Friday,  01/15/10  08:10 PM

blazing sunset over Malibu


Riding the Stagecoach (Century)

Saturday,  01/16/10  07:38 PM

Man, today was a  l o n g  day...  got up at 0400, drove from Carlsbad to Ocotillo, rode the Stagecoach Century (more about that below), drove from Ocotillo to Westlake (took approximately forever), and now I'm blogging.  Whew.  And tomorrow I'm driving down to San Diego to watch the Chargers beat the Jets!  And driving back.  And Monday, back to Vista...

But about the Stagecoach Century - well, I did it last year, and it was much the same, and actually I did it slightly faster, 5:22 riding time.  It's a nice out and back - on the way out, you're somewhat climbing, so you know once you make the turn "it's all downhill coming back".  It isn't really but it's a nice mental image.  The skies were threatening but no rain fell, and the wind was moderate, and overall it was a great day.  I am hobbling around but feeling great.

I have to relate a little story; on these rides it is all about pacing with other riders, and at 75 miles I was with one other guy and he was blown.  So I went into a rest stop for water, but really to pick up some riders.  No good, nobody there.  Just as I'm getting back on my bike, a paceline of four riders blazes by.  I realize if I can power for a few minutes and catch them, I'm set.  So I ride as hard as I can but it's no good, one rider against four and I can't catch them.  Suddenly they hit a little climb and slow down, and I'm able to hook on.... and I can see they're four women, riding as team.  (The Stagecoach has team racing as well as individuals.)  They're all strong and working well and we're blasting through the desert at 30mph.  I go to the front to take my turn, and the lead rider says she can't hook on, as a team they're not allowed to have any help.  I can draft, but I can't pull!  So for the next fifteen miles I rode caboose on the paceline, being towed along by four women.  How excellent is that?

A few pictures, of course...

the desolate beauty of the desert is ever-present on this ride

turnaround point - 50 miles down, 50 to go
this guy is going to stamp my hand to prove I made it

so far so good, still able to smile
knowing there was more climbing in the first half than the second helps

the final approach to the checkpoint, check out that sky!
(click to enbiggen)

my paceline from mile 75 to mile 90
they let me draft, but I was not allowed to pull
so be it

self portrait riding through the finish
5:22, yay

Well it was a great day, even if it was a little long...  onward!


the mark of sarcasm

Saturday,  01/16/10  07:43 PM

the sarc markKnow what this is?  Of course you don't, why would you?  You don't have any need for a punctuation mark to indicate sarcasm!  Why, you're never sarcastic anyway, and if you were, you'd be sufficiently obvious about it that no explicit mark would be necessary.

And if you somehow did need such a mark, you would definitely license it from Sarc Mark © software, there's no way you would just use it, right?  Right.  Because we all know something as subtle and complicated as a punctuation mark must have been invented, and is hence copyright-able.

Honestly, this defies parody.  You would think this came from the Onion, right?


Jets shock Chargers

Sunday,  01/17/10  09:24 PM

And so today my friend Yogi and I made our annual pilgrimage down to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to watch the Chargers in a playoff game.  Last year the Bolts shocked the Colts, in one of the best games ever (overtime, baby!); this year they fell short against a Jets team that just wanted it more.  Not to mention, the Charger's all-pro placekicker Nate Kaeding missed three field goals, any one of which would have kept them in the game.  So be it.  The view was wonderful (front row again!) and the hot dogs were great, and it was a day well spent.

the obligatory panoramic view of Qualcomm Stadium
(click to enbiggen)

me and my football watching friend Yogi
he claimed to be rooting for the Chargers, but is a closet Jets fan, I know

(note the lack of anything between us and the field :)

Nate Kaeding prepares for one of his three missed field goals
perhaps he shouldn't have warmed up

once again this year we forgive the Charger Girls for blocking our view
dance dance dance

as the clock ticks down to 0:00, the Jets prevail
argh!  wait 'till next year

Some random observations:

  • The front row is all very exciting, but next year we're sitting higher.  And I do mean sitting, because in the front row you stand the entire game.  Not great on a day following riding a century :)
  • One of the cameras is mounted on a cherry picker which drives up and down the sideline, all game long.  Except in this game, they had two cameras on two cherry pickers right next to each other.  Huh?  Aha - ESPN is recording everything in 3D.  They don't have a way to show it yet, but they're getting ready.  Excellent.
  • Those Charger Girls are not only attractive, they work hard.  They're dancing pretty much continuously for three hours, what a workout.  Yes I did happen to notice.
  • Once again I was struck by the physicality of crowd noise.  You think you're hearing it loud on TV, but that's a mere echo of the WALL OF SOUND generated by a screaming crowd of 70,000 people.  Wow.

Until next year...  over and out.


Edie Brickell: Good Times

Sunday,  01/17/10  10:17 PM

Do you remember Windows 95?  Cast your mind back, waaay back in time...  ah yes, I sure remember; in fact I was running pre-release builds of "Chicago" for nearly two years before it was finally released.  One of the key cool new things in this groundbreaking OS was support for multimedia.  What a concept!  Previous to Win95 there was Video for Windows, an add-on to Windows 3.1, but with Win95 for the first time the OS itself had support for audio and video and graphics and so on...  big stuff.  And to demonstrate these new capabilities, Microsoft bundled a video with the OS, and it just happened to be Edie Brickell singing Good Times.  I remember that so well, double-clicking that movie, and watching it play.  I liked the song and the video (and the artist!) but I loved the way it just worked, kind of like a peek into the future.

Just the other day I came across this very video on YouTube, and it took me back with incredible nostalia:

Good Times indeed!


week of 1/18/10, redux

Friday,  01/22/10  09:39 PM

rain and wind and ...Wow what a week, sorry I've been gone...  meetings all day and all night all week.  And rain!  Man, have we had rain; I've lived in Southern California just about my whole life and I can't remember water falling from the sky like this.  NO possible way to ride, so I've had lots of eating and not much exercise, and I'm a bit grumpy about that...  still it wasn't a bad week, in fact some parts of it were excellent...

...but enough about me, because it's all happening!

And so how did you feel last Monday?  Blue?  "Today is officially Blue Monday - the most miserable day of the year.  A combination of Arctic temperatures, Christmas debt and the next pay day feeling like it's months away leaves many of us depressed and unable to face work."  Huh, who knew?

News of the week was of course Scott Brown's incredible victory in Massachusetts, a Republican elected to fill "the Kennedy seat"!  I guess it really was the people's seat after all, and they proved it.  John Hawkins reviews five memes which were destroyed.

Ann Althouse had a great suggestion for what Obama should have said about the election.  "We won't agree on every issue... But we do agree that we love America equally, that we're concerned about the future of this country, and that we will do our very best to address big problems... The American people expect us to rise above partisan differences, and my administration will do its part...."  Those were of course the immortal words of George W. Bush, after the 2006 elections gave the Democrats a majority in the Senate.

Bush: miss me yet?Gerard Vanderleun asks the question: Are we better off now than we where a year ago?

Conservatives certainly are; as the review on Hot Air shows, it was a good week: Brown's victory, healthcare's defeat, Supreme Court's first amendment ruling.  Charles Krauthammer says it was his best week since spring break :)

The always-interesting Dave Winer has A breakthrough for the NYTimes.  "I’m not paying to read the Times.  I used to, but I don’t anymore.  It’s not like buying the latest gadget from Steve Jobs.  Paying the Times to read their stuff doesn’t give me sweaty palms.  But blowing a few bucks to get my thoughts into the flow alongside theirs, now that’s something I’d pay for."

Home Sapiens timelineInteresting: Humans were once an endangered species.  "Scientists from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in the U.S. have calculated that 1.2 million years ago, at a time when our ancestors were spreading through Africa, Europe and Asia, there were probably only around 18,500 individuals capable of breeding (and no more than 26,000). This made them an endangered species with a smaller population than today’s species such as gorillas (approximately 25,000 breeding individuals) and chimpanzees (an estimated 21,000). They remained an endangered species for around one million years."

Here we have Ten celebs who give PETA the middle finger.  Don't get me wrong I love animals - medium rare, with a wine reduction sauce :)  seriously I do love animals and I think animal cruelty must be avoided, but raising animals for fur and food doesn't raise my ire, somehow...  it is what it is.  PETA seems to have moved beyond reasonableness.

In the run-up to Apple's iTablet announcement next Tuesday (!), one recurring theme is the likely impact on Amazon's Kindle.  As a preemptive strike Amazon have opened up their platform somewhat, and ZDNet wonders Can the Kindle work as an App platform?  The move makes sense, but I wonder how successful this will be - seems like a virtue of the Kindle is its simple focus on being an electronic book, period.

BTW I have the same reaction to iPods; I do have an iPod Touch and I like playing with it, but for actual listening to music I much prefer my four-year old iPod nano, with its simple focus on being a music player, period.

iSlate: will Apple's tablet have a multitouch *back*?Interesting iSlate speculation: will it have a multitouch *back*?  Who knows, we definitely await this announcement with great interest :)

Joel Johnson: Show and Sell: The Secret to Apple's Magic.  "When Jobs reveals the company's next product, there's a critical difference: It exists."  I think there a little more to this - it's cool, and it exists - but the point is well taken.

the Palm Pre PlusThe Palm Pre Plus reviewed.  "So why choose the Pre Plus on Verizon? To answer that question, you have to figure out if you believe in the potential of webOS devices; Palm doesn't have the fastest phone, or the phone with the highest resolution, certainly not the biggest app selection, and it doesn't have a massive community behind it.  What it does have, however, is a brilliant platform with huge potential to change the way you work and live with your phone."

Isn't is amazing how Bittorrent just works?  You try all this stuff for downloading large files, and it all doesn't really work, ever.  And then you try Bittorrent and BAM you are downloading 5GB datasets at 300K for hours on end.  My hat is fully off to Bram Cohen.

YouTube HTML5 playerWill this be important?  YouTube launches HTML5 support.  Seems to work just fine in Chrome.  I sure won't miss the shenanigans required to get Flash to run, the <embed> inside an <object> and all the rest...  stay tuned!

Once in a blue moon MSDN magazine has an article which has useful information; at year-end we had a blue moon, and sure enough here it is: Web Application Request-Response Testing with JavaScript.  Way cool.

Popeye admits to spinach useA sad note: Popeye admits to spinach use.  "Popeye finally came clean Monday, admitting he used spinach when he delivered a savage and unlikely beating to romantic rival Bluto in 1998. Popeye said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Monday that he used spinach on and off for nearly a decade."  Sad, really.

ZooBorn: a baby GibbonZooBorn of the week: a baby Gibbon.


Palomar in snow

Sunday,  01/24/10  11:23 AM

Today I made my annual pilgrimage to the top of Mount Palomar, accompanied by my British colleague and friend Peter.  We start at Lake Henshaw, ride about 10 miles along the base of the mountain, then ascend the South Grade, 8 miles at 8%.  (Yee haw!)  Visit Mother's, visit the observatory, and then descend the East Grade, 13 miles at 5%, for a nice little 40 mile ride with about 4,000' of climbing.  This year's incarnation was made more interesting by the fact that Palomar is presently shrouded in snow (!), and in fact we were unable to go all the way to the observatory because the roads were closed.  We also shared the day with hundreds of families who thought to take their kids to the snow.  And yes, it was a bit nippy at times, but all in all it was a great day. 

Anecdote of the day: Peter rented a [nice] Cervelo from Nytro in Encinitas, which happened to have a 36x25 as its low gear.  We're climbing, and he says he wishes he had a 27, and I said yeah I have a 27, wish I could give it to you, since I'm not using it.  (What I didn't tell him, I didn't use my 25 either; did the whole climb in my 23.)

Some pictures:

on a clear day you can see for miles and miles and miles and...

yes this is a real climb, an epic climb, Lance even said so :)

self-portrait, top of Palomar in the background (going around a switchback)

relaxing in the "front yard" at Mother's
the back yard was filled with white stuff

surreal scene descending the East Grade, Californian winter wonderland


Sunday,  01/24/10  11:42 PM

Well it's the start of a long and interesting week, for me personally as we have Aperio's sales team in town for our annual kickoff meeting, and for the world as President Obama is giving his state of the union address and Apple are announcing their tablet.  May you live in interesting times, indeed!

Much socializing ahead so blogging will be light nonexistent this week, but here's a brief filter pass...

Mars cratorMarc Cantor: you can't make up these images (from Mars!)  They are incredible...

Twelve resolutions on how to be a mensch.  A good list; better than many similar which have come before.  Seems like a key attribute of mensch-ness is intent; you do good things, but also, you do them for good reasons.  [ via Guy Kawasaki ]

Better Place VCWow: WSJ reports VCs put $350M into Better Place.  This is the electric-car-as-utility company I keep posting about; they sure have attracted a huge following (and now, a ton of money).  Now let's see what they do; say what you like about Tesla, but they are shipping electric cars while lots of others are just talking about it.

With Apple's tablet announcement Tuesday, Robert Scoble dusts off some advice taken from his days at NEC, when they made Windows tablets.  "This is just a fun way to remind you that Bill Gates actually has been pushing Tablets for many years, but his failure in capturing the industry’s imagination has left the door open for Steve Jobs to hit a grand slam home run."  Stay tuned!

owl in flight!Picture of the day or perhaps any day: an owl in flight!  I agree with Clive Thompson that it's awesome; what's so cool is that the logic of the head shape is much more apparent when seen like this...  the eyes and beak in front, the blunt yet aero shape.  Evolution is a magnificent watchmaker, all the more so for being blind :)


Tuesday,  01/26/10  11:36 AM

A [rare] mid-morning filter pass...

Pondering Jevons paradox: the proposition that technological progress that increases the efficiency with which a resource is used, tends to increase (rather than decrease) the rate of consumption of that resource.  As in for example, energy conservation decreases the price of fuel (more efficiency, more supply, less demand) which increases usage of the fuel.  Hmmm...

Zimbabwe $100T noteOnce again, truth is stranger than Onion: Zimbabwe introduces $100,000,000,000,000 note.  That my friends is what inflation looks like.  Sure, laugh, but don't laugh too hard, people who live in glass houses...

Yak in a cliff - Yakes!I posted this the other day, but I need you to look at it again.  Go ahead, look at it (click through to enbiggen).  What we have here is a Yak, in the middle of a cliff.  It is unclear how the Yak got there in the first place, or why, or where it is going, but it is clearly amazing.

Everything old is new again: Mr. Edison's Kindle.  A compendium of ideas slightly ahead of their time...

If you're like me, you love RSS.  (And in this, we are unlike most others; for reasons I have not completely grasped, RSS has failed to take the world by storm, despite being massively useful.)  Anyway if you love RSS you will occasionally or not so occasionally happen across website which don't have feeds.  Gasp!  And if you're exactly like me, you'll make a homemade feed for it, but if you're not, you might check out Google's "follow changes on any website" capability.  In which they make a feed for just about anything.  Cool.

So... how much is a good idea worth?  Jeff Atwood considers the question.  "The value of my advice is debatable.  But you would do well to heed the advice of Mr. Sivers and Mr. Catmull.  If you want to be successful, stop worrying about the great ideas, and concentrate on cultivating great teams."  Amen.

Rocket Surgery Made EasyToday I came across a great new book from Steve Krug: Rocket Surgery Made Easy.  I was already a fan; Don't Make Me Think was great.  And so I decided to give everyone in my team a copy, via Kindle, since I know they all have Kindles :)  But guess what?  There is no way to give a specific book to someone on their Kindle!  I guess that must be Amazonian rocket surgery.  So I ended up giving everyone a gift card instead.

Floyd Landis wins Bahamian TTThis is awesome: Landis wins Bahamian time trial.  "Floyd Landis won the timetrial in the three-stage Tour of Bahamas this week-end.  The former OUCH-Maxxis rider reportedly beat the course record set by David Zabriskie in 2008."  And check out that bike - nice TT bars :)

Do you know how much football is actually played in a typical 60-minute game?  Eleven minutes.  "So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast?  ...commercials take up about an hour...  75 spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps."  Action packed!  (No wonder I love my Tivo :)

ZooBorn: a baby Dik-DikToday's ZooBorn: A baby Dik-Dik!  A miniature version of a miniature deer :)


Obama stumbles (New Yorker, 2/1/10)

Tuesday,  01/26/10  11:45 AM

Wow, how the mighty have fallen.
And this on the eve of the State of the Union address, too.

Interestingly Obama has disappointed liberals like the New Yorker by failing to do enough,
even while disappointing conservatives like me by doing too much.
As Victor Davis Hanson notes: Obama In Free Fall.

I must say I am *still* rooting for him, we need a successful President.
But I'm no longer optimistic, he's squandered the goodwill which was his best chance.


big day

Wednesday,  01/27/10  09:05 AM

Good morning!  Today is a BIG DAY.  We have Apple's announcement of their tablet (the iBook or whatever they're going to call it; stay tuned :) and later President Obama's State of the Union speech.  Which is more eagerly anticipated?  Ha!  I'll let you decide but I know what I am looking forward to more...

I must say both events have sparked a blogospheric frenzy of speculation.  One big change from offline to online news has been the advent of active pre-analysis.  An event is no longer judged by its relation to other events, it is now judged relative to the expectations which were set previously...



Wednesday,  01/27/10  11:39 PM

And so it is the iPad.  Really?  Wow, not the best name IMHO.

iPad!I found the Engadget liveblog to be the best.  And now that they've reorganized into oldest first, a great recap.  Go ahead read it, I'm not going to recapitulate the whole event here.  It was a great Jobsnote although maybe not his greatest.

My own takeaway: Apple's strategy is right there.  They began with the success of their stores, then with the App store, then talked about being a $50B company.  This is all because they have an awesome platform.  Then they extend the platform to fill a perceived gap between the handheld and the laptop.  Of course the iPad supports the App store, of course all those iPhone apps will run on it, and of course they are not including Flash (they want their gatekeeper status!)  It all makes sense.  The parts I found slightly confusing were: 1) no camera, 2) no USB.  Everything else makes sense including the WiFi-only and G3 options (think iPod Touch and iPhone), and the simplicity.  Look at all the stuff they left out.  It is too bad they didn't come out with some kind of groundbreaking new input technology, but a decent multitouch tablet is pretty good.

BTW largely neglected in the recaps was the iLife inclusion.  That was not accidental.  Apple spent a lot of time and effort reworking the entire UI of those apps to work well on a tablet.  This could be "a computer for the rest of us."

BTW2 yeah, this will be a threat to the Kindle.  I'm not ready to swap mine yet but we'll see.  The Kindle replicates a great book experience, the E-ink, battery life, etc.  The iPad might be able to surpass it with new stuff.  We'll see.

I noted earlier that this event would be compared to analyst expectations, and by that standard many analysts were disappointed.  They each seemed to have a separate take, but the big dings were 1) Flash, 2) AT&T, 3) no multitasking, and 4) low screen resolution, in approximately that order.

Pundits of note:

  • Cult of Mac: iPad Opens Vast New Software Development Horizons.  This is the right angle IMHO.
  • TechCrunch: Investors Didn’t Like The iPad Until They Heard Its $499 Price.  I think most people were surprised the prices were so low, that was a nice surprise.
  • Adobe: Flash will run on iPad, even full screen. Yippee.  This is via a cross-compiled which generates native iPhone / iPad apps.  You can get this will be a big seller if it works.
  • John Gruber: The iPad big picture.  "And so my takeaway from this - with the bragging about making their own CPUs and their annual revenue and their size compared to companies like Sony, Samsung, and Nokia - is that this is Apple’s way of asserting that they’re taking over the penthouse suite as the strongest and best company in the whole ones-and-zeroes racket."
  • This is terrific: When Hitler found out about the iPad.
  • Dave Winer is underwhelmed: Apple's jumbo Oreo.  "But given the lack of imagination and execution in this product, it's a cruel joke that illustrates that all that remains of Apple's brilliance is Apple's arrogance."
  • Scott Adams: what do you compare it to?  "The iPad doesn't feel like a genius creation.  I think Jobs was focused on his health when the iPad was conceived. It looks like committee work to me."
  • O'Reilly: Check Mate: Apple's iPad and Google's Next Move.  "There is an axiom that the biggest game-changers often result from ideas that, at first blush, seem easy to dismiss. So it goes with yesterday's launch of the iPad, Apple's entry into what they call the 'third category' of device -- the middle ground that exists between smartphone and laptop."
  • Russell Beattie summarizes the prognosticarians' lament: What we really wanted was a MacPad not an iPad.

Stay tuned, I'm sure this will be blog chowder for some time to come!

PS I am going to get one?  What, are you kidding?  How about you?


Friday,  01/29/10  10:14 AM

More [rare] mid-day blogging, as I am recovery mode from an awesome party last night!  Wow was that fun.  And after a week "out", wow do I have a lot of catching up to do.  But first, a filter pass...

So did you catch Comrade Obama's Speech to the Politburo?  I thought it wasn't terrible, long, and not massively inspiring, but more pragmatic than our President has been up 'till now.  I actually found it somewhat inspiring, in that he seems to realize the problems are not getting better by themselves.

Team BMC training in Agoura Hills, CAVelonews notes Team BMC gathers in California, in Agoura Hills, actually, my own backyard.  With the addition of world champion Cadel Evans and George Hincapie, this team has moved into the top ranks.  Can't wait to see how they do in the Tour of California, that will be a big test.  And in the meantime it will be fun bumping into them on Rockstore :)

Spyker buys Saab!Wow, didn't see this one coming: Tiny Spyker snaps up GM's Saab for $400 million.  I love Spyker - what's not to love about a Dutch car company making beautiful high-end V12 sportscars? - but does this really make sense?  Some kind of line extension, who knows...

More car news: Tesla files for IPO!  "Market watchers have bundled the maker of luxury sports all-electric vehicles as one of the likely exits of 2010, so the filing doesn’t come as a surprise. It does, though, bring to light many details about the company headed by Musk and backed by a who’s who of Silicon Valley."  Yay, go Elon...

Today's iPad news:

  • The Jobsnote itself.  As always worth viewing for the form as well as the content :)
  • TechCrunch: Top 10 Reasons The Apple iPad Will Put Amazon’s Kindle Out of Business.  Compete with yes, put out of business, no way.
  • Steven Fry: "The moment you experience it in your hands you know this is class. This is a different order of experience."
  • John Gruber: It's not a big iPhone.
  • NYTimes: it's Apple vs Amazon.  (A pre-spective.)
  • iJustine: I touched it!  BTW I like her, she's cute, but also smart and funny.  Not a bad summary.
  • Mark Pilgrim: Tinkerers Sunset.  "Once upon a time, Apple made the machines that made me who I am.  I became who I am by tinkering.  Now it seems they’re doing everything in their power to stop my kids from finding that sense of wonder.  Apple has declared war on the tinkerers of the world."  I think this says more about the world than about Apple or Mark.

3D TV FAQA useful 3D TV FAQ from CNet.  The net seems to be, close, but still a Pandora's box of issues to solve... 

Apropos: Slate considers how do you convert a 2D movie to 3D?  There are ways, but you don't really end up with a 3D movie.

Jamie Zawinski: Darwin's bootloader.  Such a great title, I would have linked this post even if I didn't like it, which I do.  In which the concept of "horizontal gene transfer" is considered.  Huh!

Kurt Warner retiresMore big news on the day: Kurt Warner retires!  Wow, so be it.  His #13 jersey is hanging proudly in my closet, will have to dust it off for the Super Bowl :)  A great career, all the more excellent for being rather inconsistent; he took the Rams to the Super Bowl, then flamed out, and then recovered to take Arizona there, too.

ZooBorn: baby KoalaZooBorn of the day: a baby Koala.  I know, there's a glut of ZooBorn koalas, but what can we say, they're just cute!


jetting through the Grand Canyon

Friday,  01/29/10  10:35 AM

The other day I posted a beautiful helicopter flyover of the Grand Canyon.

This is an interesting counterpoint, a flythrough by jet!
I love it, and the Joe Satriani soundtrack is perfect :)

(thanks, Kent)


lazy Saturday

Saturday,  01/30/10  11:29 AM

Ah, home sweet home, how nice to be lounging on a lazy Saturday...  nothing to do but a million things I want.  I'll probably do a little ride later and I do have much to catch up on after a week away (with another week away on the horizon), but for now, I have nothing to do but blog.  And so I will :)

I don't know how to take this: Obama said to seek $54B in nuclear-power loans.  On the one hand I'm a big fan of nuclear power, on the other, a big opponent of government sponsored anything.  I guess on balance I'm opposed...

Trizilla in ValenciaWOW!  An aptly titled blog post by the BMW/Oracle team, as they go onto the water in Valencia Spain with their magnificent Trimaran, preparing to challenge for the America's Cup. 

Prada w two-decker shipBut for all the majesty and power of that modern craft, today's sailing picture goes to this one, showing AC yacht Prada with a two-decker ship-rigged tallboy in the background.  What a wonderful contrast, the old, and the new, and the newest!

I so knew this: laws banning cellphones while driving have no effect.  Of course, they have increased sales of Bluetooth headsets...

Huh, Facebook announces HipHop, a PHP to C++ cross-compiler.  Interesting!

Onward, boldly into the lazy weekend :)


Tour of Flanders

Saturday,  01/30/10  11:41 AM

I am considering riding the Tour of Flanders (aka Ronde van Vlaanderen), the course that is, before the actual event, this April 4th.  I will be in Europe anyway, for meetings and customer visits, and the timing seems perfect.  I can't wait to climb hills like the world famous Koppenberg:

(please click to enbiggen)

Doesn't that look like fun?  For even more pleasure, it almost always rains in April...  nothing like steep cobbles in mud!


sunset over Dana Point

Saturday,  01/30/10  11:47 AM

sunset over Dana Point

last night I had the pleasure of riding my "Kessel Run" from Dana Point to Camp Pendleton
and observed this magnificent sunset over the breakwater
sound track: Once in a Lifetime from the Talking Heads

how did I get here?


helping Haiti

Sunday,  01/31/10  10:27 AM

Haiti earthquake disasterI'd like to spend a minute on a serious subject: helping Haiti.  Here's a question: should the United States use taxpayer money to assist with the disaster recovery of another country?

Before going on let me be clear*:  The disaster in Haiti caused by a huge earthquake was truly a disaster, and I have nothing but praise and admiration for individuals and private organizations helping with the recovery.

I'm personally rather skeptical that helping Haiti is an appropriate use of federal funds.  Consider that the U.S. is badly in need of those funds; the Economic Recovery Act is causing us to spend unprecedented amounts of money we do not have, piling on to a federal budget already running at a deficit.  We can barely afford to recover from our own disasters such as Katrina, Ike, and the Iowa City floods.

A related issue came up for me recently in an email exchange with an organizer of bike rides.  The organizer had scheduled a charity ride to raise money for helping Haiti - undoubtedly a good thing to do.  But in an email blast he implied that anyone who didn't participate was a bad person.  I politely replied that not everyone thought helping Haitians was more important, than, say, helping people in San Diego (where the ride was taking place).  He replied back "Is this a joke?  Are you even human?"  It wasn't a joke and while my humanity may be in question, I still don't know if helping Haiti should be a priority.

At the highest level, all of us can help those less fortunate at any time, but we draw the line somewhere.  I doubt the organizer of this charity ride sold his house to buy houses for Haitians, for example.  If those who need help are in our immediate family, we are more likely to help, and as we move outward to friends, neighbors, those who live in our city, our state, and our country we are progressively less inclined to help.  Our willingness to help is proportional to the proximity of those who need help, as measured in some karmic way.  It seems like strangers in another country would be at the bottom of the list.

As a final point, this is strongly related to the concept of borders, and citizenship, and aliens.  I have a friend who cannot understand why there should be borders, why we won't just let anyone move to the United States.  Perhaps he would help Haitians as readily as those in his immediate family, I don't know.  Or perhaps considering whether he would might bring him perspective as to why we have borders.


sunset over Malibu

Sunday,  01/31/10  11:15 AM

sunset over Dana Point

yesterday I rode Rockstore for the billionth time and timed it just right
and observed this magnificent sunset over the Malibu hills
sound track:  Morning has Broken from Cat Stevens

... praise for the evening ...


non-stop news

Sunday,  01/31/10  12:05 PM

non-stop news?

The New Yorker published a great article on Non-Stop News by Ken Auletta; "with cable, the web, and tweets, can the President - or the press - still control the story?"  And the answer is ... no.

While that is true, an interesting aspect of this is the asymmetry between the blogorati and the man on the street.  For those of us like us, we have cable, we read blogs, we receive tweets, etc. and the story is a mosaic; we can triangulate "truth" by integrating across tens or hundreds of sources.  But for the average Joe not much has changed; the President's message is still his message, delivered through the MSM, and the MSM's spin still frames the story.

I see this clearly in my discussions with my Mom.  She is intelligent, well-informed, and engaged, but gets her news primarily from the MSM, filtered by friends who get their news primarily from the MSM.  Her view of an issue is often quite different to mine.  She still thinks Al Gore is right :)


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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
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unintelligent design
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almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
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