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Archive: May 2010

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breathless agony

Sunday,  05/02/10  05:26 PM

Yesterday I rode the 2010 edition of the famous Breathless Agony, "the hardest century in Southern California", and man is it a killer.  Seems harder every year.  You have 112 miles, 12,000' of climbing, and the summit is the 8,400' Onyx Pass above Big Bear Lake.  Not to mention heat in the lowlands and freezing breeze near the top, where the mountains are covered with snow.  My favorite part is the climb from checkpoint 2 to checkpoint 3, where you go from 3,000' to 6,000' in 11 miles in one long unremitting ascent, two hours at 7%.  Yikes!

Anyway it was great fun - now that it's over - and the scenery was *amazing* as always.  And yes, I took a few pictures:

the route: 112 miles, 12,000' of climbing, with the summit at 8,400'
the real killer is that steep section between miles 44 and 55
the descent is pretty wild - 35 miles of downhill

the flat early sections in the morning light
not too much traffic out here

Jack Rabbit trail - the first summit - features some nasty sections of road
note the snow off in the distance - that's where we're headed later

Oak Glen - the second summit - as the sun starts beating down...

and on to the third summit - 11 miles straight uphill at 7% - yikes

checkpoint 3 - smiling because I made it this far, and there's only 20 miles and 2,500' left

more and more and more climbing - the last 10 miles seem to take forever
also where - gasp! - are the oxygen masks

final straight up to the summit! - yay - 8,400'

the hills up here are covered with snow
makes for a nice icy breeze

For the record it took me 6:32 to reach the summit - pretty good.  Every year after I finish I say it's the last time, but already by the next day I'm less sore and the hard parts are forgotten...  onward!


Sunday,  05/02/10  06:31 PM

Quiet little Sunday... still in recovery from the ride yesterday... we did a little shopping (that was fun) and I got caught up on email and status and so on from last week.  I find I fall behind when I travel, and it takes time to catch up.  Have a busy week ahead, too; will be on the road *again* and next weekend I will no doubt be blogging about having fallen behind and catching up...

So... can you even believe it is May already?  May!  I must admit as I look back on this year a lot has happened, but it is *really* hard to comprehend that 1/3 of 2010 has already passed by.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the U.N.You already know the United Nations is beyond parody, but this is incredible: U.N. Elects Iran to Commission on Women's Rights.  "Without fanfare, the United Nations this week elected Iran to its Commission on the Status of Women, handing a four-year seat on the influential human rights body to a theocratic state in which stoning is enshrined in law and lashings are required for women judged 'immodest.'"  I can't think of *anything* which could top this for sheer lunacy.  If I were king I would stop U.S. support for the U.N. immediately.

This is correct: 'Immigration' isn't the problem.  "Very few Americans, on the other hand, are inherently opposed to immigration.  For the most part, the controversy we face isn't about immigration at all. It's about the systematic failure of federal government to enforce the law or offer rational policy.  There's a difference."  Indeed.

I'm linking this just for the excellent use of the Talking Heads' Once in a Lifetime: iPad 3G jailbroken: same as it ever was.

And you may ask yourself, what it is good for?  I found a pretty good use for the iPad last night – reading and replying to email while soaking in the bath.  Of course you have to be careful not to drop the iPad into the water, and it is kind of heavy.  Other than that, I put it firmly in the dancing bear category, cool but not useful.

BTW we can put the consistently clueless Leander Kahney in the "I'm confused about Flash" category.

Palm Pilot with folding screen - exists only in patentsHere we have the Palm Pilots that never were.  In some cases there are interesting ideas, others, not so much.  My favorite is the folding screen; the tradeoff between big screen and small device remains unsolved.

Just in case you're as much of a geek as I am, and so I can find it later: Sed: An introduction and tutorial.  The best reference I've found for this amazingly powerful and infuriating tool :)


Midway Checkup

Sunday,  05/02/10  10:25 PM

Last September I posted Midway, revisited, a rather depressed take on the preceding 12 months in which I wrote:

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

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

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

And so what has happened since?


My family are still great, Aperio is still doing great, all the "big important things" are still great.  But in the past 6 months my head has changed a lot.

Maybe it was the realization that I wanted to change that did it.  I gave myself permission. 

If you didn't know me then and met me, and met me again right now, you probably wouldn't see the difference.  But if you read my blog then and read it now, I believe you'll see it.  I just checked all posts in September 2009, and compared them to all posts in April 2010, and they just feel different.  Can you tell?

Anyway it has been quite a period of change, good change, and I am confident that when I ride by the Midway at this years' Pathology Visions conference (and I definitely plan to do so!) I will *not* conclude that I am still midway to figuring it all out.

I am probably midway to somewhere else, but I definitely took off from where I was last fall :)  Onward!



Monday,  05/03/10  11:00 PM

Greetings y'all...  quite a  l o n g  day today and so you may ask yourself, why is he blogging?  But that's not the right question, is it?  No... the right question is, why isn't he blogging more...

I have a little ethical dilemma for you... say you have a friend, a good friend, who recommends a band.  Say you download some of their music and find that it sucks.  (For you it sucks; of course for your friend, it doesn't; suckiness is relative.)  Okay now your friend asks if you liked it.  Do you tell the truth ("your band sucks, I can't even believe you like that crap"), or do you tell a little white lie ("yeah it was interesting, need to listen to it a bit more"), or do you politely decline to respond ("huh, can't really remember, I'll check it out again")?

And so Apple is shutting down Lala.  " was never really clear how Lala’s streaming Web-based music model was going to fit into the Apple iTunes universe."  So they bought Lala just to take them off the market?  Huh.  Maybe someone should start Lala2?  It was a pretty nice service!


Tuesday,  05/04/10  10:52 PM

Any day spent in an all-day meeting is bad, unless the meeting is great, in which case the net is good; and so it was today.  Ended with a brisk ride along the coast from Carlsbad to Del Mar, and then a great dinner at the Third Corner in Encinitas; rapidly becoming a favorite because they serve good food late.

{ BTW thanks for your emails regarding my Midway checkup.  It's the kind of thing you post with fXf, hoping it isn't too weird, and I guess it wasn't.  At least not for those of you who emailed :)  stay tuned... }

color names if you're a girl or a guyImportant work: xkcd's color survey results.  Please click through and read it all, but especially check out this chart from the doghouse diaries...

Cult of Mac notes a difference of opinion on pens and tablets.  Bill Gates: "We think that work with the pen that Microsoft pioneered will become a mainstream for students."  Steve Jobs: "If you see a stylus, they blew it."  So, I actually think Mr. Bill is right; pens are better than fingers for many tasks.  As keyboards are better than touchscreens for text entry.

fastest gun in the worldStrange doesn't even describe this: Fastest gun in the world.  Check out especially when he shoots two targets in one draw.  [ via Boing Boing ]

Google Voice for the iPhone and Palm Pre.  All HTML web development.  As John Gruber notes, "no app store in sight".  And this is a voice-over-IP app; not trivial.

making of Google Chrome speed testsSo there's a new beta version of Google's Chrome browser, and it's supposed to be really fast, and so the Google people made a video (about making a video): faster than a speeding potato.  Amazing.  [ via Daring Fireball ]

Kottke on The Science of Avatar.  "'We tried to make it not completely fanciful, if it was too outlandish, there would be a believability gap.' So while Pandora features floating mountains, that might not be so far-fetched.  Of course, the reality-based scenario did have its limits. 'We figured that to actually lift mountains, the magnetic field would have to be strong enough to rip the hemoglobin out of your blood'."  While watching it I found Avatar entirely convincing, although of course the science doesn't really work.  The biggest disconnect is actually the root premise of the movie, that a being could control another [alien] being remotely.

Gadgets of days gone by: the Palm IIITechCrunch celebrates Gadgets of Days Gone By.  My favorite is the Palm III, a breakthrough device that changed the world.


1+1=1 on 5/5/10

Thursday,  05/06/10  10:20 PM

Back home after a busy week down in Vista, and looking forward to a quiet stretch of "real" work after all the meetings and dinners and discussions.  After all is said and done, much more was said than done :)

I wish I could explain the headline - you would love it - but I can't.  Yet.

Mark Andreessen has a great post: Big Enough for the Job?  "While you always want the best executive team you can recruit, there are downsides to asking this question too early or in the wrong way.  Ben enumerates the risks in his latest blog post The Scale Anticipation Fallacy, then offers his suggestions on the right way to evaluate and develop your executive team."

Google Chrome speed tests - awesome!Tuesday I blogged about Google's Chrome speed test video, which was accompanied by a "making of" video.  Well now we have the speed test video itself, and it's awesome!  I don't know whether the new Chrome beta is faster or not, but the video alone justifies this release :)

Kin One and Kin Two smartphonesEngadget posted A review of the Kin One and Kin Two, Microsoft's "project Pink" cellphones.  "And that about sums it up - there are much better choices for much less money on the market."  Why do these products even exist?

This looks useful: iPhone app development: the missing manual.  "In short, there’s more to learn than just how to code, so I wrote about it.  Of course, I cover topics like Objective-C and Cocoa Touch in detail, but that’s not the overall focus. This book walks you through the entire iPhone app development process from start to finish."  Bookmarked by blog :)

The Onion: Supreme Court upholds free speechFrom the Onion: Supreme Court upholds freedom of speech in obscenity-filled ruling.  "I don't know what kind of bullshit passes for jurisprudence down in the 4th Circuit these days, but those pricks can take their arguments about speech that 'appeals only to prurient interests' and go suck a dog's asshole."  I love it.

Can the iPad save Newsweek?  No.  If people didn't want to read the print edition, they won't want to read the online edition either.  This is the problem for all publishers, in most cases the number of people who want to read online editions is a proper subset of the people who read print.

Add Jason Kottke to the list of people who have found a "third niche" for the iPad.  "I do a lot of reading and light writing for this site and I'm hoping that the iPad will allow me to do that somewhere that's not my desk."  Good luck with the "writing" part, Jason...

ZooBorn: Eurasian LynxZooBorns of the day: Nashville's storm babies.  "This past weekend, record rainfall caused catastrophic flooding in Nashville and the Nashville Zoo staff worked day and night to ensure their animals' welfare. Their hard work paid off with not one, but two remarkable births, welcoming a Eurasian lynx cub on Saturday and a Baird's tapir on Sunday."


Megan at thirteen

Friday,  05/07/10  10:42 PM

Yesterday, in an under-reported event which will change the world, my daughter Megan turned thirteen.  And so tonight we celebrated with a blowout party, with our family and friends.  A great time was had by all.

Alex records the moment as Meg consumates turning thirteen

A must tell you I am a little sad that the last of my four kids has reached teenage-hood, no more children in the house.  Then again, she has been -going-on-sixteen for a while now.  Amazing to look back, these thirteen years have just flashed by, and yet I can hardly remember life-before-Megan.  Onward!

Alex, Shirley (aka proud Mom), Meg, Ole (aka proud Dad), Jordan


Central Coast Double - 215 miles, 14,000'

Sunday,  05/09/10  03:53 PM

Yesterday I trekked up to Paso Robles for the Central Coast Double, a beautiful ride which goes out to the coast at Cambria, up PCH for about 40 miles (stiff headwind), climbs inland to Mission San Antonio inside the Hunter Liggett army base, and then meanders past Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento before looping back via the mountains East of the 101.  At 215 miles and 14,000’ this is one of the more demanding doubles around.

The ride started at 5:30 and I didn’t finish until 10:00 last night (!)  15:46 for 215 miles, it was endless.  Compounding the fun I managed to wipe out on a pothole in the dark, broke my headlight, and had to follow other riders in to the finish.  I will say the scenery on this ride was awesome, I’ve posted some pics if you’re interested:

Central Coast Double

And here are a few excerpts:

the route: 215 miles, 14,000' of climbing
that long stretch up the coast is the best, but it is *all* headwind

the early morning voyage to the coast, down seldom-used lanes

pacing along the beach from Cambria, how beautiful

the Piedras Blancas lighthouse in San Simeon guards the past

happy cyclist at Ragged Point

the Big Sur coastal views are *amazing*

climbing Nacimiento Road; 7 miles at 7%, yippee
views back down to the sea made it worthwhile

in Hunter Liggett army base, two pacelines pass each other :)

Mission San Antonio, lunch! at the halfway point

powering through vineyards with a tailwind

great views from the ridge between Lake San Antonio and Lake Nacimiento, wow

Now that it's over I can relax and enjoy it, with that pleasant sense of accomplishment that accompanies long rides.  During the day it was not so pleasant, a lot of hard work on a  l o n g  day.  Last night I celebrated with a cheeseburger, two shakes, and six tacos.


Happy Mother's Day

Sunday,  05/09/10  04:17 PM

Happy Mother's Day!Happy Mother's Day!  Yay...

I was just thinking, Mother's Day is one of those holidays, for some it is joyous and amazing and wonderful, but for others, it is sad and lonely and no-so-wonderful.  If you've lost your Mom, or you don't have kids and want some, or you're alone it can be a pretty tough day.  And if that's you, I'm sorry.

For me, I love Mother's Day.  The whole process of being a Mom, of having kids, of caring for them and raising them; it's amazing.  I am literally in awe.  And Mother's Day is a great chance to celebrate that!

WebOS tabletGerry Purdy: Why HP buying Palm will succeed.  I must tell you that as I play with my iPad, I am struck by the fact that even more than on smartphone, WebOS is actually a significantly better OS than the iPhone OS.  The multitasking, the management of running apps, easy cut-and-paste, easy swapping; I think it will work.  (Especially with a slide-out physical keyboard :)

BTW this picture is from a ZDnet article written on May 26, 2009.  Let's give Jason Perlow some credit for being ahead of his time - and right!

Apropos: John Patrick: iPad part 4, what you can not do.  It mostly boils down to "you can not type".  Annotating is hard also.

Did the coyote ever catch the roadrunner?Important question: Did the Coyote ever catch the Roadrunner?  Answer carefully before clicking through...

The Giro is under way!  Bradley Wiggins won stage 1 - a time trial in Amsterdam (!) - and Tyler Farrar won stage 2 - leaving Cadel Evans in pretty in pink.  Vino is right there in the hunt.  Yippee.

SpaceX update: prepares for Falcon 9 flightSpaceX have posted an update as they prepare for the inaugural launch of the Falcon 9.  If it works, great, they have a contract to take over from the Space Shuttle to resupply the ISS.  If it doesn't... well, that would be bad.

Why Newsweek failed.  "Newsweek's chief competitor wasn't The EconomistNewsweek's chief competitor was actually People Magazine.  People won."  Of course Newsweek chose their competition through the positioning of their magazine.  They could have chosen to position against The Economist.  They would have lost that, too.

So, is an MBA a plus or a minus in the startup world?  A plus, duh...  the kind of question only people who haven't lived in the real world ask...

ZooBorns: a Cheetah Mom and her familyZooBorns of the day: a Cheetah Mom and her family.

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!


Monday,  05/10/10  09:13 PM

... more time ...This is a wonderful Monday... why?  Because I was home all day (working, in my home office), and I get to stay home all day tomorrow, too (working, in my home office).  I stay home from work so I can work from home :)  And man I have some fascinating stuff going on, a big marketing project and some interesting technical work too.  Just need more time!

Also had a chance to attend a *great* event tonight, a Ride with George Hincapie, who is spokesperson for Amgen's Breakaway from Cancer campaign.  (More on that later.)

And so now... filter pass!

In re: Arizona's immigration enforcement law; of 64 chases last month, not one criminal was an American citizen.  Hmmm...

Climbs of the 2010 Amgen Tour of CaliforniaImportant work from Williams Cycling; their annual survey of the Climbs of the Amgen Tour of California.  Pay particular attention to stage 8 which features four laps up Rockstore and down Decker.  I must tell you I am disgusted by the ride in the video, who climbed Rockstore in 10.5 minutes; my *best* is 15.5, and it normally takes me 17-18.  But anyway it is interesting commentary on all the climbs, and this year there are many of them!

Who would have predicted this?  Alexander Vinokourov leads Giro after stage three.  Wow.  There's a long way to go, but Vino is back.  How cool would it be if he could actually win the Giro?  He's one the Vuelta already - I was there to watch him do it :) - and he's come close in the Tour de France also.  He'll be a worthy teammate of Alberto Contador for sure...  and you know they are testing the piss out of him and so he is not doping anymore.  If he ever was.

the lost tribes of Radio ShackWired: The Lost Tribes of Radio Shack.  You can see why they've had to change their business model - they've gone from serving hobbyists resisters and capacitors to serving teens cell phones - but it really is too bad.  I was one of the lost tribe; I can definitely remember making my own color organ to blink lights in time to music.  Man that was 100 years ago...

The power of Why.  Don't start with What, go to How, and then to Why, instead start with Why, go to How, and then What.  Okay!

I always find it slightly weird that Who, What, When, Where, and How are all factual, but Why is always conjectural.  Why is not like the others... it depends on human motivation.

A definitive reference: How to embed videos in your web pages with HTML5.  Okay.  Mostly I just link to videos embedded on other pages, because 1) it is a lot of work to embed videos in a cross-platform manner [BTW HTML5 doesn't address this at all] and 2) most people don't click through to watch videos anyway [BTW HTML5 doesn't address this at all].

in which great matters of state are decided...American Digest: In which great matters of state are decided.  Be careful with this one, I almost blew coke out of my nose :)

ZooBorn: a little TapirNashville's storm babies, part II, yields the ZooBorn of the day: a little Tapir.


A Ride with George Hincapie

Monday,  05/10/10  09:56 PM

Tonight I had the privilege of attending A Ride with George Hincapie, a fund-raising event associated with the Amgen Tour of California, for whom all-everything rider George Hincapie is a spokesperson.  A new DVD is out about George - named, not surprisingly, A Ride with George Hincapie, and they screened it, but they also had some nice Q&A with him, and he signed tee-shirts and stuff, and overall it was just really nice.

yippee we got to go

You might now know that in addition to having won all sorts of races himself - he is the current U.S. Champion - George was also part of eight victorious Tour de France teams, a record; all seven of Lance Armstrong's winning teams (the only one who was), as well as Alberto Contador's victory in 2007.

the cover of the DVD, this photo was of the movie theater screen
that's George competing in Paris-Roubaix, the race with which he is most associated

Turns out George is from a cycling background - Columbian! - and grew up in Queens and Long Island, and now lives in South Carolina, and is about the nicest person you could possibly imagine.

George signing my Amgen Tour of California tee-shirt, which I am wearing right now :)

This year George is riding with BMC, which is World Champion Cadel Evans' team, too, so he'll be supporting Cadel in the tour and may well get his ninth victory.  Meanwhile he's here at the ATOC while Cadel is riding the Giro, and will be hunting stage wins.  He's had quite a few in previous years' TOCs, so he'd be considered a favorite, especially on stages which combine climbing with sprinting.

George answered every questions, politely, non-controversially, but honestly
you can see why he's considered one of the good guys in the peloton

One of the coolest things was discovering that George loves the Conejo Valley area - and Rockstore is one of his favorite climbs.  Cannot wait to see it - final stage of this year's tour!

how often do you get to sit in a movie theater with a nice glass of wine
while watching cycling?

not often enough :)


Tuesday,  05/11/10  09:03 PM

In which your blogger got a lot done, and washed his car, and fixed his bike, and did a little BD, and a little marketing, and coded pretty much all day in between, and then ... blogged.

Gravity is talking, LISA will listen - testing relativity with three spaceships and lasersTesting relativity with three spaceships and lasers.  Awesome project, awesome tagline ("gravity is talking, LISA will listen"), and awesomer headline, but shouldn't that be friggin' lasers?

Eric Raymond: Android Rising.  "The news comes to us today that in 1Q 2010 Android phones outsold Apple’s iPhone by a significant 7%. As it said on the gunslinger’s gravestone, 'I was expecting this, but not so soon.'"  Interesting.  Will Google's Android be Windows to Apple's iPhone's Mac?  Could be...

Oatmeal: eight websites you need to stop buildingThe Oatmeal: Eight websites you need to stop building.  Hilarious!

Interesting; Amazon's Kindle showing promise as means to access medical literature.  "One advantage the Kindle has over the iPad, and just about any smartphone, is its free mobile Internet access... With the help of a federal grant, Duke medical librarians converted textbooks and clinical guidelines for use on the Kindle and added functions to search PubMed and the Internet. They gave the devices to various medical students and preceptors for their rotations in primary care. Though the device is much slower than a full-powered computer, it scored high in terms of reliability and usability."  Excellent.

BTW I stumbled across another Kindle value the other day; A friend is reading Ken Follett's [awesome] World Without Ends, and she said she loves it on the Kindle because the book is so large!  And it is.  Whereas the Kindle is pretty much the same size and weight when loaded with 100 books :)

photo gallery: handmade hobbit holeFrom CNet, this is pretty amazing: A photo gallery of a handmade hobbit hole.  The attention to detail is amazing.  How great would it be to live in one?  I like round doorways :)

A U-2 in flight - still in use today!NYTimes: Flying with the Dragon Lady.  "Fifty years ago today, the Soviet Union announced that it had shot down an American U-2 spy plane and that its pilot, Francis Gary Powers, was alive.  It seems like a long-ago event from the cold war.  That may be why, in this era of satellites and drones, most people are surprised to learn that the U-2 is not only still in use, but that it is as much a part of our national security structure as it was a half-century ago."  I'm surprised!  Wow, U-2s are still flying, who knew?

Okay, back to coding... :)


week of 5/10, redux

Friday,  05/14/10  06:35 PM

Bongard Problem #4A rare Friday night post, and I catch up after another busy week in Vista, coding and meetings and design and people and everything... much of it applied pattern recognition... and a couple of nice brisk rides in the dusk.  Getting ready for another century tomorrow, Ventura Velo's Tour du Green, but ...

...meanwhile, it's all happening...

Marlboro barcode carThe sneakiest. design. ever.  aka what to do if you're a tobacco company sponsoring a race car, and tobacco ads are banned from race cars.  I love it.  (Not that I love tobacco, mind you, but I love this clever solution.  And also I must say I do not love banning anything from anything.  Let the market do that...)

Mike Arrington posts a fantastic rant: You're welcome, you bastards.  This illustrates the problems that big media have with little media so perfectly.  Big media want to control the message, and little media are all about corrupting the message and routing around control.

ArsTechnica: Google fails to revolutionize cellphone market.  "Google has announced that it will soon bring an end to its online sales of its Nexus One handset. The company will still show off Android phones on its site, but purchases will be done the old-fashioned way: through mobile service providers."  Ars notes the problem - the cost of the phones was $529 - but missed its significance; this was the only reason that mattered why people didn't buy this way.  If the cost of each phone was $129 the approach would have worked, but that would have required Google to subsidize the handset costs, and why would they have done that?  Whereas cell providers have a business model which finds the subsidization...

Adobe loves Apple, just not what they doAdobe launches "we love Apple" campaign.  Nice.

BTW have you noticed what a bloated pile of junk Adobe Reader has become?  Yeah, me too.  Remember when little ol' Acrobat launched immediately and "just worked".  Yeah, me too.

Levi Leipheimer at the Tour of GilaThis weekend the Amgen Tour of California starts!  Are you ready?  I am... cannot wait.  Velonews posted a great set of interviews with some of the major contenders talking about each other - and themselves.  I think Levi is going to win, but I also think it will not be easy.

The infancy of mobile video.  "There are two obvious things that everyone wants but just aren’t there yet on the devices we carry around.  First of all, video chat.  The second thing that’s not there yet is the world’s single most popular application of video technology: TV."  I think video chat would be cool, and I have no idea why we don't have it yet.  Pre app, anyone?

Ottmar Liebert: Petals on the PathOttmar Liebert reports new album arrived.  "Petals on the Path".  Excellent!

Zooborn: rare white otter pupZooBorn of the week: a rare white otter pup.


Tour du Green

Saturday,  05/15/10  10:23 PM

Today I rode in the Ventura Velo's Tour du Green.  It was a nice little century, 105 miles and 4,500’, from Ventura up Santa Rosa Valley to Moorpark, over Grimes Canyon to Fillmore, Santa Paula up and over to Ojai, and then back to Ventura via the bike path on the river.  Along the way there were eight checkpoints showcasing various “green” installations in Ventura County; pretty cool, our tax dollars at work.

This was my fourth consecutive Saturday with a long ride; the Wildflower Ride, Breathless Agony, Central Coast Double, and now Tour du Green.  Unfortunately I don't have a ride scheduled next weekend so that will break the string; although I do (of course) plan to ride Rockstore and watch the Amgen Tour of California's Stage 8 next Sunday.  Maybe I'll ride it four times like the pros to get in 100 miles... :)

You will not be surprised if I tell you I took some pictures, if you’re interested you may find them here:

Ventura Velo's Tour du Green

And here's a selection:

The route: 102 miles, 4,500', and eight interesting 'green' stops along the way...

stop 1: City of Oxnard's LEED Gold Water Campus & Brackish Water Desalter Facility

stop 3: City of Thousand Oak's Hill Canyon Plant's large solar array
watching a slideshow about the bio-methane electric generation facility

blasting down Grimes Canyon toward Fillmore - halfway point

stop 4: City of Fillmore's new Water Recycling Facility

crossing Sespe Creek

awesome bike path along the Ventura River from Ojai

not everything on this ride is 'green', even if it is green :)

back at the beach - still a little overcast
105 miles, 5:35 riding time, 6:45 elapsed

I did manage to spend an hour playing with my bike; at stop 5 (Ventura Regional Sanitation District Bio-solids Drying and Bio-methane Electric Generation Facility) I flatted three times consecutively, used up all my tubes and had to wait for the helpful SAG to bail me out.  A bad moment in an otherwise good day.

Cheers and see you out there!


Sunday,  05/16/10  10:32 PM

A quiet Sunday in which I recovered from the Century yesterday - the fourth weekend in a row (!) - and while hanging out I plotted nefarious deeds in the upcoming week.  Just kidding.  And coded!  Not kidding about that... whenever I have to get my hands dirty with actual programming these days, it is a pleasant bonus.

From Powerline: Apologizing for Arizona.  "China murdered millions of its citizens who opposed the government's Communist policies and allows most of its people little or no freedom. We, on the other hand, enforce our immigration laws. No, wait--actually we don't. That's why Arizona had to take a shot at it."  I just don't understand why enforcing our laws is so controversial.  Even among those who don't disagree with the laws themselves...

Mark Cavendish outsprints J. J. Haedo to win 2010 ATOC stage 1Well the Amgen Tour of California kicked off today, a flat "sprint stage" from Nevada City to Sacramento, and to no one's surprise Mark Cavendish won a field sprint at the end, although he was pushed nicely by J. J. Haedo.  The big news was that some of the big names hit the deck in the final circuits around downtown Sacramento, including Tom Boonen, George Hincapie, and Jens Voight.  On to tomorrow's stage which features more climbing but will likely end in a sprint as well.

In the other big race taking place at the moment, Cadel Evans won stage 7 of the Giro d'Italia, and Alexander Vinokourov leads overall.  Wow, could Vino really do it?  Stay tuned.

The other day I mentioned video chat as a cool future; reader Marc alerts me to the announcement of Sprint's upcoming HTC EVO 4G phone, which will have - ta da - video chat.  We'll see whether it's a dancing bear, but it seems like it would be a big winner.  Especially for, um, private chats...  yeah.

ZooBorn: a baby elephantWrapping up, here's the ZooBorn of the weekend: a baby elephant.  Yeah I know we have had many little elephants and they are all really cute, but this little girl might be the cutest.


Alexis promenades

Sunday,  05/16/10  11:14 PM

Parental chest-beating: last night Alexis attended the Thousand Oaks High School prom (she doesn't attend there, but her friend Eric does); she had a great time, and I get to post a picture:

Man they grow up fast.


Monday,  05/17/10  09:48 PM

A rainy Monday, managed to enjoy it; sometimes it's nice to get a change of weather, right?  Tomorrow I'm off again, to Vista, and then up to Portland Wed and Thu, but today had a nice quiet day working from home.

"wild birthday party" - coming up Saturday...Warming up for a massive party Saturday too; Megan has just turned 13, and in consequence we're being invaded by about 50 seventh graders.  So be it.

TheScientist reports Fate of Science hero uncertain, regarding the reelection prospects of Arlen Specter.  "It isn't often that citizens from a single state in the union can dramatically shift the fate of research support in the United States, but Pennsylvania voters may have the chance on Tuesday (May 18). They head to the polls in a primary election that will determine whether democratic Senator Arlen Specter -- arguably the most celebrated champion of biomedical research in Congress -- will remain in his seat next year."

The inconvenient facts about global warming.  I no longer know what to believe; it seems there is global warming taking place, it is exacerbated by human behavior, but it doesn't seem to be an impending disaster...

Brett Lancaster wins Amgen Tour of California stage 2Of course not everyone enjoyed today's rain; consider the organizers of the Amgen Tour of California, who moved the TOC from February to May for better weather only to have a rain-soaked stage 2 from Davis to Santa Rosa.  The weather was so bad the TV 'copters were grounded, making for a pretty boring viewing experience.  In the end Brett Lancaster prevailed over Peter Sagan in a wet bunch sprint, leaving those two leading the GC as well.  Tomorrow the selection begins in earnest with the stage to Santa Cruz featuring the Bonny Doon climb.

Scott "Dilbert" Adams with a marvelous post: The Value of Attention.  "If the New York Times asked you to write a guest editorial, for no pay, on the topic of your choice, would you do it?"  Absolutely!  Read it; definitely worth your attention :)

The steady increase continues: Seagate confirms 3TB hard drive.  Wow, unbelievable.  And interestingly, they might have to make it look like two drives on older computers which can't handle drives larger than 2.1TB.

One way to get attention: IndiaRealtime reports companies might soon have a Chief Tweeting Officer :)  Well at least I wouldn't have to change my acronym!


Windows 7: paging that works

Monday,  05/17/10  10:02 PM

Hi!  Yes, it is time for a


You all know, I am not the biggest fan of Windows.   (*cough*)   Over the years I have criticized Microsoft for focusing on the wrong stuff, adding all sorts of bells and whistles which aren’t even properly part of an operating system and adding cruft and overhead while neglecting core facilities like memory management and networking.   So hold on to your hats because here comes a compliment.  

Windows 7 finally has paging that works.   And that is a breakthrough.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been assembling extremely large images for Jacopo Annese, a researcher at UCSD’s Brain Observatory.   You may know him as the leader of the team which sectioned H.M.’s brain.  The assembly process consists of compressing large tiles together into columns, and then compressing columns together into the final image.   It takes about eight hours to complete one image; the files are about 2.5GB in size after 40:1 compression with JPEG2000.

So here’s the thing: I’ve been able to do this in the background on my laptop while doing all sorts of other stuff; sending email and surfing the web, editing various documents, blogging, making and presenting powerpoints, working in Excel, even coding in Visual Studio.   The compression processes just run in the background, sucking a ton of storage and grabbing CPU cycles when they are available, and paging when necessary.  I can put my laptop to sleep, Zzzz…, then wake it up, and everything resumes; under Win 7 it all “just works”.   I don’t have to worry about the background processes dying or stalling, and more importantly don’t have to worry about their impact on my foreground work.   Finally in 2010 we have a version of Windows that works the way a computer ought to, instead of falling off a performance cliff as soon as physical memory is exhausted.

I know, I know; precelebration is the root of all failure.   I’m now probably five minutes away from a blue screen.   Still I thought it was worthy of mention… if you’re not on Win 7 yet, think about upgrading; you’ll like it.



Wednesday,  05/19/10  11:45 PM

A  _l_o_n_g_ day yesterday, round trip to Vista capped by a nice Kessel Run, and another today as I flew up to Portland to visit some customers.  I am delighted to report that I had dinner at Ten-01 and can recommend it highly; fois gras and strawberries (yum), delicious Ahi tuna, paired with a marvelous Erath Leland Pinot, and capped off by a terrific cheese plate and some Warre's port.  Ah, life on the road.

Big news today as Google's I/O conference kicks off...  they've announced a Chrome App store, for web apps; interesting!  Perhaps the biggest news was their stance; they are so clearly contra-Apple.

Dave Zabriske wins ATOC stage 3Francesco Chicchi wins stage 4 of the ATOCDave Zabriske won yesterday's ATOC stage 3, as he, Michael Rodgers, and Levi Leipheimer left the field on the Bonny Doon climb to become the GC favorites.  Those three finished 1-2-3 last year, too.  Then Fransesco Chicchi won today's stage 4 in a bunch sprint; the big news was that Mark Cavendish didn't win as the GC remained unchanged.

Meanwhile, at the Giro d'Italia, the entire race was thrown in the air and shuffled as a break of 54 riders succeeded, putting ten minutes into all the contenders.  I can't ever remember such a thing happening in a grand tour, but I guess that's why they race.  Unbelievable.  Vino is now nine minutes back, but still right among the contenders; it will be interesting to see how it all sorts out with a serious amount of climbing left...

And in some extremely sad cycling news, Floyd Landis has admitted doping, and accuses a bunch of other cyclists of doing the same.  Shame on me but I had maintained Floyd's innocence all these years despite his disqualification for doping in the 2005 Tour de France.  I guess I was wrong, and he was (as his book title says) Positively False.  I don't believe all his allegations, first he has no credibility, and second as a fan of the sport I chose to believe today's controls are sufficient to prevent widespread doping.  For sure this is sad news...

Headline of the day: Algorithm spots sarcasm -- suuuuure it does.  How appropriate that it was developed at the Hebrew University :)


(New Yorker 5/10/10: tilting at windmills)

Wednesday,  05/19/10  11:56 PM

"tilting at windmills"

I love it


Friday,  05/21/10  05:08 PM

Yippee I'm back.  Yesterday was yet another _l_o_n_g_ day, starting in Portland and featuring a couple of interesting customer visits (and a visit to my next bike!), and ending back here late, but today I was able to relax at home and get a little "real" work done.

Oh, and psyching up for a big weekend: the finale to the Tour of California (yeah, I rode Rockstore today :), and Megan's party...  meanwhile it's all happening...

Craig Venter creates life!Wow!  Craig Venter creates synthetic life form.  "J. Craig Venter and his team at J.C Venter Institute announced the creation of a cell controlled by a synthetic genome in a paper published in SCIENCE. As science historian George Dyson points out, 'from the point of view of technology, a code generated within a digital computer is now self-replicating as the genome of a line of living cells. From the point of view of biology, a code generated by a living organism has been translated into a digital representation for replication, editing, and transmission to other cells.'"  Venter is amazing; while everyone is talking about doing stuff like this, he is doing it.  Wow.

Late for hair appointment, 72-year-old woman drove 102 mph.  That's happened to me too.  Well, not the hair appointment part, but the late part, and then the driving too fast part.  Whew.

Peter Sagan wins ATOC stages 5 and 6!Yesterday Peter Sagan won ATOC stage 5, and Michael Rogers took over the GC lead.  And Lance crashed out, sigh, after having to answer all those questions raised by Floyd Landis, not a great day for him.  Then today in the "queen stage" up to Big Bear, Peter Sagan won again!  And the GC remained relatively unchanged, with Michael Rogers, Dave Zabriske, and Levi Leipheimer still in the mix.  Tomorrow's ITT in download L.A. will prove decisive...

So: Is the next Prius going to be a Tesla?  As Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, announces a new partnership with Toyota...  the state of California is in the mix, too.  Wow, good PR for both companies, and maybe it means we will have all-electric Toyotas someday too.  (Keep in mind hybrids are gasoline-powered cars, Tesla are the only ones making electric-powered cars right now...)

Meanwhile: Small nuclear reactors under development.  "Several start-up and existing companies are developing smaller sized nuclear reactors. While utility-scale reactors cost about $2.3 billion apiece and produce 1.2 gigawatts of power, Hyperion's price tag is $50 million for a 25-megawatt reactor more comparable to a diesel generators or wind farms."  This is very cool, but they're still not quite in range to power cars :)

Shrek returns to formExcellent news: Shrek returns to form.  "This may be the final installment of 'Shrek,' the franchise, but Shrek, the ogre, is having a midlife crisis. Screaming children, cake gone wrong, and that pathetic, gnawing feeling that, wait, didn't I used to be cooler than this? Oh, Shrek, we feel you."  A must see!

art studio made from shipping containersFrom Inhabitat: gorgeous shipping container art studio.  Wow, how cool is that?

Big news from Google I/O, as their competitive assault on Apple continued with the announcement of Google TV.  MG Siegler gives a great overview of the rivalry including an analogy to Lost which left me, a non-Lost-watcher, feeling rather lost...  (I gather the last episode of Lost is this weekend, and is a biggish deal.)  Whether the analogy is apt I cannot say but certainly the rivalry is interesting and fruitful for consumers...

Apropos: Daniel Lyons switches from iPhone to Android.

Also related: The 'I'm a PC, and I'm a Mac' campaign is over.  Why?  Because the competition that matters to Apple isn't Mac vs. PC, it's iPhone vs Android.

Microsoft seems to be a non-player in the smartphone world.  Maybe they're too busy modeling the world...

Eric Raymond with a new music update, and I find myself agreeing with 100% of it, including Pandora, Porcupine Tree, Planet X, Dream Theater, and Spock's Beard.  Back to Pandora for me!

Tom Petty: I should have known it.Oh, and courtesy of LGF, Tom Petty's latest: I should have known itIndeed.

ZooBorns: baby otters!ZooBorns of the week: baby otters!


visiting my next bike at Renovo

Friday,  05/21/10  05:23 PM

Yesterday in between customer meetings I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Renovo bike works in Portland.  Yes, I am in love!  I got to meet the founder and he gave me a tour of the factory; they make the most beautiful machines... 

smiling with my next bike

it all starts with the wood - carefully tested for strength and stiffness ... and beauty

a computer controller laser cutter makes the frame components

assembled frames are carefully glassed...

...and then tested for stiffness and resonance

with Ken Wheeler, founder and chief designer, holding a 3lb masterpiece

I am trying to convince myself I deserve one :)



Saturday,  05/22/10  11:16 PM

Quite a day today; preparations for Megan's Party, in which we were invaded by 40+ 13-year-olds, and a reconnaissance ride of Rockstore preparing for the Amgen Tour of California stage 8 tomorrow, and then the party itself; an invasion of noise and fury in which nobody was hurt, nothing was broken, and a good time was had by all :) give you a flavor of Meg's Party, Shirley prepares the "cake" made from donuts...

wrapping it all up, a little blogging...

From the Hmmm... department: Creatures of Cambrian May Have Lived On.  Compelling evidence against those who thought the "post-Cambrian apocalypse" proved evolution wrong.

Michael Rogers was second in the ATOC stage 7 ITT, but extended his lead overallIn today's Amgen Tour of California stage 7, an individual time trial in downtown Los Angeles, Tony Martin won (!) and teammate Michael Rogers slightly extended his tenuous lead overall over Dave Zabriske, now at 9 seconds.  Levi Leipheimer was a disappointed fourth and now sits third overall, 25 seconds back.  It sets up quite a showdown in tomorrow's stage 8, a circuit race in my backyard...

Meanwhile Vincenzo Nibali won stage 14 of the Giro d'Italia, as a tough mountain stage allowed the GC favorites to recover time and realign the standings after that weird huge breakaway mixed everything up.  They're still quite a ways back, but you can see it will all be okay in the end...

John Gruber has some Post-I/O Thoughts.  "What we’ve got here is a good old-fashioned epic rivalry.  It’s exciting, vicious, fun to watch, and ultimately should prove to be excellent news for consumers."  Yep.  He, too, notes Microsoft's absence from this party.  It is interested to reflect on the fact that while I use Google every single day, all day long I have never paid them one penny.  Even while they've earned a lot of money from me, indirectly.  Meanwhile I pay Apple for stuff all the time.  Different business models as well as products.

Time Magazine: The strange new world of the InternetI love this, a Time Magazine cover from 1994: The Strange New World of the Internet.  Ironic in that one of the biggest victims of the Internet's rise has been Time itself, which is now irrelevant.

RIP Martin Gardener, a pioneer in modern recreational mathematics and inventor of popular math games.  For thirty years, he penned a math games column in Scientific American, and I read a lot of them.  He will be missed.

Onward into tomorrow...


ready for stage 8!

Saturday,  05/22/10  11:27 PM

I am so ready for stage 8!  That would be the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California of course, which takes place in my local stomping ground...  including the "world famous Rockstore climb".  I will be stationed on that very climb, having wangled an invitation to join the Amgen Cycling Club who have a nice "VIP compound" on the last turn of the climb.

Tomorrow's route is a circuit race, four laps around a 20 mile course:

right there from mile 10 to mile 12.5, that's the Rockstore climb...
and not to be neglected, from mile 16 to mile 18 is the descent down Westlake
the green arrow is at the finish line location

here's the Versus version of the course, which includes the start at the Oaks Mall

the Versus route profile (not quite as accurate as RideWithGPS above)

For a detailed tour of the Rockstore climb and the Decker descent, check out this video I made back in January... a 4X playback of me riding the very route of stage 8:

re-watching this video - especially the descent - I can't wait to see the pros doing it

Today I made a little reconnaissance run up Rockstore, down Decker...  checked out all the barriers and signs and parked motor homes and so on... pretty amazing to have a world-class tour finishing stage on my little playground.

an informal scoreboard at the base of the climb

the Rockstore itself!  will be considerably busier tomorrow...

the summit awaits, glowing in the sun

last bend before the summit, with the Amgen Cycling Club compound at left

final straight - could be the scene of some fireworks tomorrow!

It is going to be a very interesting stage, as Michael Rogers is only leading Dave Zabriske by 9 seconds, and Levi Leipheimer by 25.  There are bound to be some attacks.  You can imagine a breakaway taking out the finish time bonuses, with the peloton sitting tight for three laps, and then fireworks on the last lap as the GC contenders try to get clear for the finish.  Yippee.



Amgen Tour of California: Stage 8 - Rockstore!

Sunday,  05/23/10  10:30 PM

Today was the *big* day; 2010 Amgen Tour of California stage 8, a four-lap circuit race right in my hometown, including the fabulous Rockstore climb I'm always telling you about, and the terrifying descent down Decker Canyon.  I was there (!), and managed to wangle an invitation into the Amgen VIP compound.  It was great.

Setting the stage, going in to this final day Michael Rogers of HTC/Columbia was leading overall, followed by Dave Zabriske of Garmin-Transitions 9s back, and Levi Leipheimer of Team Radio Shack 25s behind in third.  BTW those three finished 1-2-3 last year, and they figured to do it again; but in which order?  With such a tough finishing stage, anything was possible.

Naturally I took pictures, and naturally I'm going to share them with you.  Here we go:

I began at the finish :) in Westlake Village; all calm right now... but later will be a madhouse

riding up Rockstore, there it is, the Rockstore itself,with a zillion motorcycles parked in front as usual
there was a huge crowd here to drink beer, hang out, and oh yeah watch those cyclist guys

the climb was packed with cars and people and bikes and tents
lots of people chalking the road, too

here it is, the Amgen VIP compound, located on that last big turn before the top

yippee I'm in

the Amgen area included the peak overlooking the turn - and the whole valley
the red arrow shows where I stationed myself, an awesome spot
note the DJ in the foreground, rocking the Rockstore...

the view of the valley from the peak was unbelievable
the entire climb was visible, it was possible to watch the riders all the way up
the red arrow shows the location of the Rockstore at the base

overview of Amgen compound and the final straight of Rockstore up to the KOM point
note the crowds - it was really packed

and so the race is on!
on lap two a breakaway of seven riders formed, including George Hincapie
here they have about 2:30 on the peloton

the peloton fragmented behind the break
with the GC men and their domestiques in the chase group
tucked in note Rogers (yellow jersey), Zabriske (orange helmet), and Levi (red and black kit)

check out the size of the "peloton" after 35 miles of racing

the leaders on lap three
R-to-L: Chris Horner leads Rogers, Rory Sutherland, and Levi, with Zabriske at the far left

on the final lap the break itself broke; here are leaders Baredo, Pujols, and Hincapie
George was the crowd favorite (of course) and looked great for the win

after a series of attacks the GC men pulled out from what was left of the peloton
Levi, Rogers, and Zabriske mark each other, followed by Horner, Ryder Hesjedal, and Thomas Rabou
with no gaps by this point it was evident that Rogers was on his way to the overall win

the leaders crest Rockstore on the final lap
what a marvelous sight!

After the peloton passed I rode down Rockstore and cut through Triunfo Canyon to Westlake Village, but instead of heading for the finish line I headed home, so I could watch the whole thing on Versus.  Which I did, amazed that only a few minutes ago I had actually been there.

Oh, you want to know what happened?  Well, on the Mulholland rollers between Rockstore and Decker Hesjedal attacked, and Horner went with him.  They ended up catching the three leaders on the descent, and that group of five sprinted it out to the finish, with Hesjedal edging out George for the win.  Congratulations to him but boo; I was really rooting for George to get it.  Horner was third.

Must make a point of recognizing Thomas Rabou who won King of the Mountains going away.  A promising young rider on Rabobank, he had a horrible accident which took him over a year to recover from, and is now coming back as a member of Team Type 1.  He's been living a dream this week.

And in the GC it ended up being a parade; after all that work Rogers, Zabriske, and Levi finished together, and so they ended up on the podium in that order.  A great win for Rogers, and poor Dave finishes second in the ATOC for the third time.  Maybe next year!

Another fantastic day watching pro cycling... and this time right in my own town, on a climb I ride myself just about every week.  I'll never do it again without thinking of today.  How did I get here? :)


Sunday,  05/23/10  10:47 PM

Wow, quite a weekend, what with Megan's par-tay yesterday and the Amgen Tour stage today.  And so whew I get to relax... no wait that's wrong, I get to fly on a red-eye to Philadelphia!  I am in fact sitting at LAX at this very moment, waiting for my [late] flight to board.  Upon arrival it will be a day of meetings, followed by two days of customer visits, with a late flight back Wednesday and then a trip to Vista on Thursday.  I will be one tired puppy.  But don't worry, I will blog :)

the Treatment - the search for drugs to fight cancerThe latest issue of the New Yorker features a fascinating article by Malcolm Gladwell, The Treatment (PDF), about the search for drugs to fight cancer.  A must read even if you aren't in the business of building tools for cancer researchers like I am.

Dog bites man story of the day: HP confirms slate to run WebOS.  I bet it won't suck, and in fact might give Apple's iPad a run for your money.  Of course as with any platform the key will be the availability of content; will there be WebOS Apps?  Or perhaps the question should be will there be web apps.  You could see a version of Chrome for the WebOS too, including flash...

In this regard, it is interesting to ponder whether the Android platform is fragmenting [already].  What's important here is not bifurcation of versions or features, but whether all versions support the same apps.  E.g. Chrome + web = commonality.

More on Apple vs Google, in the wake of the Google I/O announcements: Robert Scoble posts hey Apple, you have mobile competition, and Eric Raymond thinks now's a bad time to be an Apple fanboy.  I love this from Scoble: “Hello?  This is Scoble.  You’re not calling me on your iPhone, are you?  Why do you say that?  Because I can hear you."  Ouch.  And Eric concludes "Apple has been outflanked by Google’s multi-vendor strategy, outsold in new unit sales, and is now outgunned in technology and user-visible features. Again, I was expecting this…but not so soon."  In this battle between two successful companies I don't see a loser, and for sure we consumers are the winners!

Stage 8 of the ATOC featured beautiful shots of Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake VillagePS to my ATOC stage 8 report, not only did Ryder Hesjedal and Michael Rogers win, but so too did the cities of Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village.  There were huge crowds everywhere, and the PR value of all those beautiful aerial helicopter shots is incalculable.

Oh and in the other big cycling race taking place at the moment, Ivan Basso won stage 15 of the Giro!  David Arroyo remains the overall leader, as the GC favorites continue to recover time from that amazing break which shuffled the standings.  They have a rest day tomorrow but then a week of climbing left.

Zooborn: quail chickWrapping up, the ZooBorn of the weekend is this quail chick.  Wow.  I must tell you I am a sucker for cute chicks :)


week of 5/24, redux

Sunday,  05/30/10  04:11 PM

Bongard Problem #5Wow what a week.  Amazing.  It has to have been the longest week ever, starting with the final stage of the Tour of California (was that really only a week ago) and then a red-eye to Philadelphia, and a non-stop schedule with partners and customers and prospects while there, and a flight back Wednesday night and a drive down to Vista Thursday morning, and more amazingness while there.  Yes, I am now Aperio's VP/Product in addition to remaining Chief Technology Officer.  "There are two tragedies in life, not getting what you want, and getting it."  I choose the latter!  Oh and yesterday I rode another double, more on that in a future post...

...In the meantime I have fallen behind *again*, time for a filter pass...

Mark Steyn: we're too broke to be this stupid.  "Across the developed world, a beleaguered middle class is beginning to understand that it’s no longer that rich. At some point, it will look at the sheer waste of government spending, the other shoe will drop, and it will decide that it no longer wishes to be that stupid."  A total home run, please read it.

Wired: Animating a Blockbuster: How Pixar built Toy Story 3I read this in print but you can read it online, from Wired: Animating a Blockbuster, how Pixar built Toy Store 3.  My number one takeaway is how painstaking the process is, the attention to detail and how long everything takes.  The results are amazing.

BTW kudos to Wired for having "full page" links.

Eric Raymond continues his series of rants on how Google's Android is going to defeat Apple's iPhone: Flattening the Smartphone Market.  "Common cellphone operating systems like Android, WebOS, and Maemo are depriving cellphone carriers of one of their most treasured means of keeping customers in the dark and feeding them bullshit. They’re making smartphones comparable to each other, and by doing so brutally intensifying the competitive pressure on the carriers."  And this is happening fast.

Whoa: Apple surpasses Microsoft in market cap.  Of course, they do have a ways to go before they equal Microsoft's earnings...  but that just shows the premium the markets place on innovation.

the LittleDog robot - amazing!The LittleDog robot.  Awesome!  The technology here is absolutely amazing, this is real, not CGI.  [ via Daring Fireball ]

Powerline engages in a moment of snark.  In which the NYTimes are caught not knowing that Zinfandel is a red wine.  "These aren't sophisticated fools, as many think; they aren't sophisticated, period...  There is no respect in which they are more knowledgeable than you are."  Buffoons!

PS: ROFL - Instapundit linked Powerline with the title: the clock strikes thirteen.  Indeed.

There are a few bloggers of whom I'm just plain jealous, because they consistently write better things than I do.  Mark Pilgrim is one of them.  In me, but you, but me, he introduces the fascinating concept of 25-year friends.  "... a 25-year friend is not just 'a friend for 25 years.' It’s not the passage of time that matters as much as the 'of course'-ness of it all. Of course I want to hear about your breakup. Of course you can come over anytime. Of course I’ll help you move... Of course you’ll 'lend' me some money when I hit hard times. 25 years of 'of course.'How many 25-year friends do you have?  I have three.

1938 Graham 'sharknose'Cory Doctorow on the 1938 Graham 'sharknose'.  "I'm at a loss to explain why every car made doesn't look exactly like this."  It is rather delicious.  I love the ancient racing yacht in the background too.

RIP Art Linkletter.  Love this: "I know enough about a lot of things to be interesting, but I’m not interested enough in any one thing to be boring."

Ivan Basso wins the 2010 Giro d'ItaliaCongratulations to Ivan Basso for winning the 2010 Giro d'Italia.  One of the toughest, with a maniacal course featuring dirt roads, towering climbs, and narrow dangerous sprints, and which took place in horrible weather.  He is back, and would have to be counted among the favorite for the 2010 Tour de France.  Cadel Evans and Alexander Vinokourov looked pretty good too, but were caught out by a 96-rider breakaway.  What an amazing stage race.

Lucas Mathis explains why touchscreen UIs are like command lines.  You can't discover the commands, you have to know them.  Unlike graphical UIs.  Interesting point.

Paul Rand wants to dump section one of the 14th amendment.  That would be the one where children of illegal immigrants who are born in the U.S. become citizens automatically.  Can anyone explain to me why this is controversial?  It seems obvious; if you're going to have such a thing as citizens, there are going to be non-citizens, and if non-citizens have a child, that child is not a citizen either.  Regardless of the location at which they were born.  (BTW I don't agree with Rand on many other things...)

Kia: A new way to rollThe car ad of the year, or of any year: A new way to roll, for the Kia Soul.  Wow, how awesome, how creative.

So this is my problem: Future Pundit notes Human Brains not Wired for Consumer Credit.  "How were consumers expected to fare in, if not a free-money environment, certainly an easy-money environment here at home?  The idea that you can walk into a store with a piece of plastic you may even be a college student with no income and buy $5,000 worth of stuff is unbelievable."  I think there's a reality to this, but a reason is no excuse.

ZooBorns: skate pupsWrapping up, ZooBorns of the week: Skate pups!  They come in peace :)


Heartbreak Double

Sunday,  05/30/10  05:06 PM

Yesterday I completed the Heartbreak Double, a maniacal ride from Palmdale to Gorman and on into the Los Padres National Forest; 204 miles, 15,500' of climbing, 13:35 riding time, and 14:55 elapsed.  In addition to being tough - there is no such thing as a flat section anywhere, and there is wind, and cold, and heat - this ride is beautiful; in particular the views of the Central Valley from Mil Potrero Highway are amazing.

You just might remember I rode this event last year too, and managed to get lost in the dark (!); I succeeded in turning a long ride into a much longer ride, and almost didn't finish.  This year I found the key was to ride faster so I finished before nightfall.

Yes of course I took some pictures :) you can find a gallery here:

2010 Heartbreak Double

And I have posted a selected few below...

the route: 204 miles, 15,500' - the crosshair is on Heartbreak Hill

full moon in the early morning leaving Palmdale

the amazing beauty of Los Padres National Forest

incredible views into the Central Valley from Mt. Pinos

descending route 54 for miles and miles

halfway: 104 miles down and still smiling

entering Lockwood Canyon; a road sign or a metaphor?  (or *both* :)

climbing Heartbreak Hill - 3 miles and gets steadily steeper, topping out over 10%

looking back down the Heartbreak climb

late afternoon self-portrait, blasting home

Next weekend: theOjai Valley Double Metric (a double metric is 200km = 130miles instead of 200miles).  Interestingly it heads up route 33 from Meiner's Oaks and almost connects up with part of the Heartbreak.  Stay tuned!


Happy Memorial Day

Monday,  05/31/10  09:11 AM

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness - thanks!Happy Memorial Day everyone!  Well I guess maybe it's not "happy" if you're memorializing someone close to you; it could be a time of reflection and sadness. 

For many years this day has had a special meaning for me; my father was in the [Dutch] Navy during WWII (served five years and was a Japanese POW for three of them!), and my oldest daughter Nicole was in the Navy for seven years.  She's out now (!) but I *still* think of her and her Naval colleagues on this day, and all those who came before them, protecting our way of life. 

My biggest challenge on Memorial Day is generally turning on the pool heater, and so it will be today, but it's only thanks to them that I don't have much more serious concerns.  Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...  THANKS!


setting Facebook privacy

Monday,  05/31/10  09:52 AM

As a public service I have undertaken to understand Facebook's new privacy settings, and to tell you how to set them.  Facebook have recently "simplified" these settings - *ahem* - and it gave me a chance to dig into them a little.  What follows is good advice, but you may find that it's worth what you paid for it :)

First the Golden Rule: assume that anything you post in your Facebook could become public.  If you post pictures or messages or link things that you don't want the whole world to see, you could be in trouble later.  Why?  Because Facebook reserves the right to change their privacy settings at any time.  You might think only your friends can see something today, but that might not be true tomorrow.  So be careful.

Okay, onward.  At the highest level there are now three groups of privacy settings.  When you first click on Privacy Settings, this is the page you see:

This page shows the sharing levels for all the information you post on your Facebook.  Each kind of thing can be shared with Everyone, Friends of Friends, or Friends.  You pick!  To change them, click Customize Settings...  In my case I am only sharing each kind of thing with Friends Only, as shown above.  (If I want something to be public, I post it on my blog :)  Your mileage may vary.  Be especially careful with Friends of Friends; since some of the people with whom you're sharing are not your Friends, you have to assume it is pretty close to Everyone.  Of course, this could be a cool way to meet new Friends, too!

Next, you have Basic Directory Information; when you click on View Settings, this is the page you see:

On this page you set the privacy levels for information displayed about you when people search.  As you can see I have all these set to Everyone.  The setting you are most likely to want to change is "See my friend list"; this has caused some controversy.  You could restrict access to this if you don't want Everyone to know who your friends are...  then again, maybe you don't mind others knowing, your choice.  I'm proud of my Friends :)

Finally there are the settings for Applications and Websites, displayed on this page:

Here you set the privacy levels for Facebook Applications and for third-party websites affiliated with Facebook.  At the top are shown the Applications which you've authorized to use your Facebook information.  I'm using a handful as you can see, but lots of people have tens or even hundreds of these; be careful, because they can use your Facebook information!  A lot of them are fun and some of them are useful, but many of them are useless and some are even dangerous; periodic "gardening" to remove applications you aren't using is a good idea. 

  • I have changed the default setting for Game and Application Activity to Friends Only.  I don't know what Applications might do with my Facebook data, so this seemed safest.  Your mileage may vary... 
  • The link to Info Accessible through your Friends is subtle; this defines what information about you is available to your Friends when they use applications.  I have all of them enabled, but I trust my Friends; I only "friend" someone who is truly a friend.  If you're someone who "friends" everyone you meet, you might want to turn these off.
  • The link to Instant Personalization lets you set whether "partner websites" can use your friend network to personalize your experience.  This has caused a lot of controversy but I've left it on.  For example using my friend network, Pandora can tell me about music my friends like.  Seems like no bad thing.
  • The link to Public Search lets you set whether people can find you with a non-Facebook search engine.  Since the only information available is stuff you've already shared with Everyone, this seems harmless. 

In all of this, remember the Golden Rule.  These are Facebook's settings today, but they could change tomorrow.  In the meantime have fun Facebooking!


how and why to stop multitasking

Monday,  05/31/10  10:34 AM

I came across a great article the other day: How (and why) to stop Multitasking, by Peter Bregman.  There is some great advice in here; basically the message is that yeah, you can do ten things at once, but you can't do any of them well.  And the net is that you'll be less happy and less productive than if you focus on one thing at a time. 

multitasking... stop it!Peter did an experiment: "For one week I would do no multitasking and see what happened."  And he discovered six things:

  1. It was delightful
  2. I made significant progress on challenging projects
  3. My stress dropped dramatically
  4. I lost all patience for things I felt were not a good use of my time
  5. I had tremendous patience for things I felt were useful and enjoyable
  6. There was no downside

There you go.  Single-tasking is clearly better.  It is interesting to consider why we multitask, but theory aside concentrating on one task at a time does make you more productive.  So how do you do this?  Well Peter offers some suggestions:

  1. The obvious: The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off.
  2. The less obvious: Use your loss of patience to your advantage.

The first suggestion is similar advice to my famous Tyranny of Email article from 2003 (still by far the most popular thing I've ever posted online).  I find the worst source of multitasking interruptions is email.  Stop reading it!  And the second worst source of multitasking interruptions are blogs.  Stop reading them!  Now :)

The second suggestion is interesting; as Peter notes: "There's nothing like a deadline to keep things moving.  And when things are moving fast, we can't help but focus on them."  This is definitely true for me; I can procrastinate on something infinitely but when it is really due, I do it.  And am astonished at my productivity while doing so!


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About Me

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