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Archive: August 2010

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Alexis' Mini!

Sunday,  08/01/10  09:34 PM

Well we did it; yesterday we celebrated the end of the month by closing a sweetheart deal on a cute little Mini Cooper for Alexis.

one happy daughter

a most excellent cockpit, should have been featured in Wired :)
"world's cutest car"

I don't know why but this car just makes me happy :)

A perfect bookend to my sadness over wrecking my car last Tuesday.  I'm already pretty much over that - well, I am, but my wallet is going to take much longer to recover - but it was not a great way to start a vacation.  This was however a great way to end one!



Monday,  08/02/10  11:27 PM

contemplationAh... back from vacation, still recovering from wrecking my car, still glowing from buying a Mini for Alex, and back in the real world of work (which I never really left !)...  it has all left me contemplative, unsettled.  I am running about five threads in parallel, trying to sort it all out, and some of the conclusions are a little scary.  Too much thinking!

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

the Maltese Falcon - click to view slideshowThe Maltese Falcon...  279' long, wow.  Click to view slide show.  You might be impressed by the yacht, but I'm impressed by the amount of time it must have taken to design this yacht; all the myriad details of this huge beautiful complicated thing.  And I ask myself, how did the owner (Tom Perkins) make time for this?  The whole idea of leisure time - whether spent doing nothing, or spent doing something like designing one's yacht - is strange, alien.  I must master this but I have not [even] so far...

Meanwhile: study finds that busy people are happy people.  Aha, I knew it!  I am happy!

Elon Musk is one of the busiest people ever - try running SpaceX and Tesla at the same time - and he wants to retire to Mars.  So be it.  I'm sure he is happy too :)

farm auction, 1940So: why does the past always seem so far away?  "In part, because we so often see it in black and white."  Huh.  I don't think that's it... I think the past is receding ever faster, as the pace of change accelerates.  Marshall McLuhan is right.

That said, you must click through to the slide show; the color photos from the early 1940s are amazing.  That was not so long ago - for many of us, our parents lived in that time, or for others their grandparents - and look at the immense change which has taken place in the meantime.

And my friends and colleagues can verify this: San Diego has a record cool July.  The marine layer has settled in permanently, or so it would seem... and would-be beachgoers are not happy about it.

things on a university websiteThere is a sobering reality to this, behind the humor: best chart ever.

slippers with flashlights!I'm linking this just for the gratuitous slippers-with-flashlights reference: Groupon was almost a slippers with flashlights company.  Almost... and how great would that have been :)

Don't laugh: L.A. pushing to become nation's mass transit leader.  Well okay, laugh, because it will never happen; the city is too spread out for mass transit.

Tim Bray on mobile devices: The Great Game.  "This is the big league; bigger today than the computer industry ever was, and growing fast. This is as fierce a concentration of R&D heat and manufacturing virtuosity and distribution wizardry and marketing mojo as humanity has ever seen."  Indeed.  The one thing Tim misses is HP's acquisition of Palm.  We'll see whether that ends up mattering, but HP is the leader in consumer computers, and they have a lot at stake.

And so my contemplation continues...  I will try to stay busy while I figure it all out!


the week that was 8/2/10

Friday,  08/06/10  04:58 PM

the infinity pool at the Hotel du Cap on the Cote d'Azur possibly the most tranquil spot I knowWow, what a week that was!  I must remember this:  do not schedule a car accident, vacation, and board meeting in the same timeframe.  And having said that doesn't *even* include all the other things I did - like buy a car with my daughter, and conduct twelve phone interviews - or which happened... whew.  Anyway it is over, I am back home for the first time in two weeks, and contemplating a nice weekend... and busy people are happy people, so I am happy!  (And I may ask myself, how did I get here?)

{ Interesting aside... I Googled for "tranquility", and every single hit included water.  As I think about this weekend and being tranquil myself, I look out the window at my pool and picture myself sitting next to it, book in hand...  I finally chose the picture above of the Hotel du Cap's infinity pool, where I have been myself and where I would like to go again! }

bike / choir flashmob in a Brussels train stationThis is awesome!  A bike / choir flashmob in a Brussels train station.  Yes of course you must click through to watch, you will thank me.  How random and yet how excellent.  [ thanks Richard... ]

Toolman tagline: "we finish what your husband started"From Greg: an example of a great tagline... 
I love it.

Now here's an important subject, near and dear to my heart: Sentence spacing, one space or two?  My answer is two of course.  That's what &nbsp; is for :)  glad to see Slashdot still unearthing important discussions like this...

Did you know? 50% of Windows 7 users run 64-bit version.  I think I'm going to be one of them soon - I want to get from 3GB to 4GB on my laptop, mostly so I can run VMWare more efficiently...

You guys know I love Windows 7, but I don't love everything about it, and the thing I love least is kind of trivial: how come it can't leave the icons on my desktop in the same place?  I keep putting them back, and it keeps messing them up.  Pisses me right off.

Huh: Android hits top spot in US Smartphone market.  Eric Raymond calls it perfectly.

Eric also thinks Inception was brilliant; everyone is talking about it and yes I must see it.  Also Despicable Me :)

Facebook the movie [trailer]Facebook the movie [trailer].  Wow, I Like it.  Especially the first part - it beautifully conveys the emotion people invest in friends.

Wrong headline: On Facebook, wife learns of husband's second wedding.  How about this one instead: On Facebook, wife learns husband is an idiot.  Wow.

Scott "Dilbert" Adams considers First Impressions.  "As part of my training for hypnosis, years ago, I learned that human brains are rationalization machines, not logic machines. That's hard to accept, especially in yourself. Your brain tells you otherwise. It insists it is completely rational."  Wow, what an amazing insight...  scary.

jet-powered 367mph school busHere we have the 367mph school bus.  I am not making this up.

Dave Winer: What I think matters.  It is definitely true that what he thinks matters to me :)  One of the things he thinks: Embracing failure is a good way to fail.  I think you can learn from failure without embracing it.

Eric Schmidt on the demise of Google Wave.  The thing about Google is that they can play with things like Wave without betting the farm; it is dinner, not life.

The most Beautiful Planet EarthThe most beautiful planet Earth.  An awesome video, well worth clicking through and be sure to watch full screen.  The music is perfect too (Loreena McKennit - Night Ride Across The Caucasus).  [ via Gerard Vanderleun, who comments: "More and more I am convinced that our purpose is to extend our vision in all directions to bear witness to the miracle." ]

Off to Leila's with Shirley for some flat iron steak, a nice Pinot, and wonderful cheese... what could be better?  (How *did* I get here?)


checking out (of) Foursquare

Friday,  08/06/10  10:45 PM

Foursquare and seven days ago...You guys know, I've been checking out Foursquare, that service which lets you "check in" from your phone to record where you've been, earning badges and the attention of your friends.  I've decided it is an input-only system, I'm not getting anything out of it.  In fact I'm not even sure what you would get out of it, if there was anything to get.  Maybe if all of you were always checking in from everywhere I'd know where you were, but so what?  Meanwhile as far as telling you where I am, well, if I want to do that I can do that, by posting to FB or right here.  So... I'm checking out of Foursquare.  I'll be back if I can ever figure out a reason to do so :)


tranquility challenge

Saturday,  08/07/10  10:20 AM

I am sitting on the deck outside my bedroom, quietly enjoying a beautiful morning, blogging.  Oh wait, it's not quiet, not at all, because no fewer than five count 'em five of my neighbors are blowing their yards trimming their trees murdering their cats and/or otherwise making hideous noise.  It would be a much nicer morning without all that disturbance in the force.  I can't see anything but man can I hear it.  I swear the business opportunity of the world is to invent a quiet little engine for leaf blowers and tree trimmers and such.

Anyway it *is* a nice morning and I cannot allow any amount of unwelcome noise to ruin it.  Challenge, met.


despicable me

Saturday,  08/07/10  04:31 PM

Despicable me - an emotional roller coasterJust saw Despicable Me with Megan...  liked it a lot.  It started slow and didn't meet my [high] expectations at first, but it got better and better and then sold me with the now-famous roller coaster ride.  And then got better from there... great stuff.  How come animated movies are consistently better than live-action ones, huh?  The emotions were pitch-perfect.

I found it a little rougher than a Pixar film, but even making the comparison is a complement, and it hangs in there pretty well.  Every Pixar film has left me thinking, and I'm not sure that's so true here, but I'm off on a bike ride now so maybe it will  :O

Here's a quiz: what was *your* second-favorite part of the movie?  I'll tell you mine later...


revisiting ancient posts

Saturday,  08/07/10  10:19 PM

l'Hydroptere [still] flies!Today I happened to check my referer logs - they tell you how many people have visited your blog, what they're reading, and where they came from - and I was surprised to find some ancient posts *still* attracting visitors.

Heading the list: The Tyranny of Email (my all time greatest hit), The Two Switches (a great puzzle which at first seems impossible, and hence intriguing), L'Hydroptere Flies (eye candy and sailboat porn, per pic at right), and finally and most surprisingly, Texas Chili Tasting (which upon rereading still has me laughing hysterically).  I'm glad I can provide such great entertainment for the Internet :)

It is rather fun to have been blogging for eight years - yeah, I can't believe it either! - and to have some of that ancient content to reread; I enjoy displaying a "flight", which shows the posts I made on or near today's date of each year.  And then of course it is fun to check referer logs, you just never know where people will come from, and it is most fun to see the searches which bring people in.  Today's most interesting: "using your beauty for god", which resulted in a hit to God and Beauty, one of my all time favorite posts from May 2003.  I love it!


reading an actual book

Sunday,  08/08/10  10:11 AM

Kindle vs actual booksOn this rather perfect morning - coffee and eggs on the balcony, sun shining, air still, with a hint of breeze to come, and with NO leaf blowers or other disturbances in the force - I am amazed to report I am reading an actual book.  This came about a couple of weeks ago, when I accidentally allowed my Kindle's battery to run down; heading off to bed, I picked up The Last Theorem in physical book form, and enjoyed it.  Of course I didn't take it with me on my recent travels, so I Kindled All Tomorrow's Parties (yet another William Gibson tour de force; man, he writes so incredibly well it makes me jealous).  I finished that yesterday, and so have returned to The Last Theorem.

Gödel, Escher, BackThere are many advantages to reading on the Kindle, but there is one huge disadvantage; actual books have actual formatting, with page layouts, headlines, fonts, diagrams, pictures, etc.  On the Kindle every book looks the same, with the Kindle layout, fonts, etc.  This doesn't matter so much with a novel like All Tomorrow's Parties, but for others it would make a huge difference.  Consider Gödel Escher Bach, my favorite book ever; Douglas Hofstadter lovingly crafted the form as well as the content - in 1979, pre- WYSIWYG word processors - in line with the book's message about communications on multiple levels.  It would lose a lot in a generic presentation like Kindle's.  (Amazon is not presently selling a Kindle version of GEB.)  This limitation on formatting is holding back adoption of textbooks on the Kindle as well.  Eventually a more HTML-like format will have to be adopted for e-books; that would make books' data content larger, but would enable a wider range of content to be adapted.  I wonder if that happens already on the iPad with iBooks?  Must investigate...

Despicable Me: the reading of Three KittensI know you are all dying to find out my *second* favorite part of Despicable Me, the first being of course the roller coaster ride.  I think it was the reading of the Three Little Kittens book, emotionally pitch-perfect.  I will say this movie hasn't stayed with me like, say, Up! or The Incredibles, admittedly a high standard.  It was good but not great.

Other things of note this morning:

Have a great Sunday!


Aperio is hiring product people

Sunday,  08/08/10  11:15 AM

Aperio - we're looking for a few good product people!I don't like to post too much Aperio-centric stuff on this blog, but here's something that might be interesting to both of us: Aperio is expanding its product team and we are looking for some key product managers and business analysts.  We presently have the following new positions open:

Product Manager, Life Science
Product Manager, Image Analysis
Business Analyst, Healthcare Solutions
Business Analyst, Life Science

If you or anyone you know is interested in any of these positions, please send an email to  Thanks!

[Update: I am always amazed to see how fast stuff gets picked up on the Internet.  We just posted these openings on our website, and already they've been echoed far and wide, such as this posting on  Aperio isn't a startup anymore but we're happy to have our opportunities widely publicized :) ]



Monday,  08/09/10  09:58 PM

Interesting day today...  was offline for much of it, busy with personal matters, and yet was able to get an amazing amount of *work* done too... just reconfirms for me The Tyranny of Email, and the need to turn your email client off - entirely - for substantial periods of time in order to get stuff done.  I must tell you again, not running Outlook (or in my case today, not being connected to the Internet) is qualitatively different from running it and "not checking email"; if it's running, you will check it, and you will be disrupted just by that thought.  Anyway.

Uh oh: US Electricity Blackouts Skyrocketing.  The country with the cheapest entropy will win, I think.  Time for nuclear power!  [ via Instapundit ]


Russell Beattie, who is not always right, but who is usually interesting, thinks scraping is the future of web aggregation.  And accompanies his post with RIP, RSS.  I don't know; I agree that unstructured data is better than ill-maintained metadata, but RSS feeds are so easy and so much better for aggregation...

A good and subtle UI point: It is easier to imagine hiding an ad than redesigning a UI.  Interesting in that this company clearly wants to "sell" the non-ad-supported version of its software, so presumably they make less money from it.  You can imagine this not being the case.

We wish: Flash ported to iOS and iPhone 4.  This is a total dancing bear; the phone must be jailbroken before this can be done.  Way cool, but given that nobody actually jailbreaks their iPhone, way not useful.

spontaneous spindle detection - the secret to sound sleepThis however *is* useful: The brain's secret to sleeping like a log.  It is true, sleeping soundly (or not needing as much sleep) is a huge competitive advantage.


Megan on the cover of North Ranch Living!

Monday,  08/09/10  10:20 PM

Forgive me for some parental chest-beating, but this is SO COOL; my daughter Megan was featured in a cover story of North Ranch Living. 

For her recent thirteenth birthday we threw a party, inviting about 75 kids, and Megan asked that instead of gifts her guests consider donating to the Conejo Valley Assistance League instead.  And guess what?  She raised $750!  And donated it all... How cool is that?

Yes, we are very proud of her...


timing is everything

Tuesday,  08/10/10  10:28 PM


I was riding along the beach
with pleasant thoughts in my head
and most excellent sounds playing
and I looked at the water and saw



my life as an oriental curry

Saturday,  08/14/10  10:48 AM

Hornblower and the Atropos - first in a great seriesIf variety was the spice of life, his present existence must be an Oriental curry
                                                 - Hornblower and the Atropos*, C.S.Forester

Hi y'all, checking in from home, where I find myself finally after an amazing few days... at work, in Vista, with nonstop meetings, calls, presentations, and job interviews, and then yesterday I flew to Oakland with Alex and we visited UC Berkeley and USF, about which I will have more to say in another post.  It all leaves me tired and energized at the same time, with my mind racing while my body idles.  And in the meantime, it's all happening...

(Last night I definitely put my spindles to use, and slept like a log :)

Can sex make you more beautiful?  "A Scottish study found that thrice-weekly action stripped at least four years off participants' faces, and getting busy even boosts immunity and reduces heart disease. There are beauty bonuses, too - sex perks up your appearance instantaneously."  Seems well worth trying!

Related: Women put weight before sex.  "More than half of women, and 25 percent of men, would opt for a summer without sex over gaining 10 pounds."  The question is phrased incorrectly however, because having sex all summer would probably cause you to lose 10 pounds.  Well worth trying...

Also related: you don't need heavy weight to build muscle, just lots of repetition.  I think this is why those "body pump" classes are so effective, they encourage less weight and more reps.  Well worth trying :)

Lake Baikal ice artwork - nine square miles!Something to do this weekend: World's largest artwork created on frozen Lake Baikal.  Wow.  Imagine waking up one morning and saying "I think I'll make ice artwork on the world's largest freshwater lake".  Yeah.  I can see it.  And actually now you can see it; please click through, the art itself is amazing...

My real todo this weekend: upgrade my laptop to 64-bit Win 7.  I am running VMWare almost all the time now, I need the extra virtual storage.  fXf!

classic 1973 Sony ad for reel-to-real tape deckWow, what a classic 1973 Sony ad: "This could be the tape deck you'll leave your great-grandson."  Amazing that while the ad contemplates the possibility of new instruments ("whatever weird instrument your great-grandson will be playing") it doesn't think about the progression of recording technology.  I wonder what medium *my* great-grandson will use?

Paul Graham talks about What Happened to Yahoo.  "Why would great programmers want to work for a company that didn't have a hacker-centric culture, as long as there were others that did? ... without good programmers you won't get good software, no matter how many people you put on a task, or how many procedures you establish to ensure 'quality.'"  Indeed.

John Gruber linked it also, and notes this quote: "It’s hard for anyone much younger than me to understand the fear Microsoft still inspired in 1995. Imagine a company with several times the power Google has now, but way meaner."

Times for iPad - a feed reader that looks like a newspaperTimes for iPad.  A feed reader which looks like a newspaper.  Seems like this might end up being the closest think to a "killer app" we know.  I might try it :)

Glenn Beck quotes Thomas Jefferson: "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?"  Said in relation to gay marriage, and it definitely applies, but also true in so many other situations...

jet-propelled flying squid!How excellent!  Flying squid:  "The paper's authors argue that 'gliding' is too passive a term to describe what squid do when they leave the ocean for the air: 'flight' is more fitting."  And jet-propelled, no less!

Scott "Dilbert" Adams thinks an index fund based on Big Round Numbers would work.  "1) When the DOW is exactly 300 points below a big round number such as 10,000, 11,000, 12,000, etc., the fund would buy the stocks in the DOW, weighted the same as the index.  2) When the DOW rises above its big round number by 300 points, the fund would sell everything."  Amazingly, it does seem like a good idea...  "If this strategy worked, someone would already be using it, and you would know about it. What fascinates me is that it feels to me as if it would work while at the same time every bit of my knowledge, experience, and common sense tells me it couldn't."

World's largest tidal turbine - 120 tonsThis will be much-linked for sheer coolness: World's largest tidal turbine unveiled in Scotland.  Yeah it is massively cool but note that it generates just 1Mw of electricity, a teeny amount.

How Google routed around Sun's licensing restrictions on Java ME.  Essentially they built their own byte-code interpreter.  Seems like an obvious move, weird that Sun didn't anticipate someone would do this...

Horse's Mouth's best ever Fish on FridayI love the Horse's Mouth's Fish on Fridays series...  this might be the best ever!

*As a teenager I devoured the Hornblower series, reading entirely through it more than once, and a fair number of random quotes still circulate in my head.  I wish I could be a modern-day Hornblower, and sometimes I think I am - don't we all?


Alex and me in SF

Saturday,  08/14/10  11:42 AM

Yesterday.  Up at 0500.  Coffee.  Shave.  Long sleeves?  Yeah...  Out the door at 0530.  Burbank 0615, Southwest to Oakland.  ZZZzzz... stretch!  Rent world's ugliest car*.  Onward to Berkeley!  Slight sun, wind breezy.  In the town, cute.  *The* University of California beckons.  Excited!

the Camponile towers over UC Berkeley

Tour at 1000... our guide Nick is awesome.

Nick explains: special parking for Berkeley's sixty-five Nobel Laureates :)

meeting Berkeley's oldest resident: a T. Rex

Alex is excited - Cal definitely exceed our expectations

Both jazzed, Berkeley was cool.  And impressive.  And exciting.  We could both see Alex there.  Onward.  Across the Bay Bridge.  Find USF.  Have time.  Lunch!  In Haight-Ashbury, cool.

lunch at the People's Cafe on Haight

Up up to the Lone Mountain.  Tour at 1430.  Long Powerpoint.  Blech.  Walking tour better...

USF: at the Lone Mountain high above S.F.

touring USF - okay but socks not flying

Now 0430.  Have time.  Tea...  Debrief.  Back over Bay Bridge.  Dinner 1730 at Five Bistro in Berkeley.  Steak + Pinot + sorbet.  Nice.  Back to OAK.  Return car.  Wait [forever] for shuttle.  Security.  Run to gate.  Whew.  Southwest to Burbank.  ZZZzzz... yawn.  And home!  A good great day.

any day with Alex is better than any other day, and this one was great


the joy of solitude (New Yorker 8/2/10)

Saturday,  08/14/10  06:45 PM


"The joy and pain of solitude"
J.J.Sempe nails it again

(...brings back the Death Ride and a thousand others...)


on top of the world

Saturday,  08/14/10  06:52 PM

This afternoon I went mountain biking up Palo Comado and China Flat and Simi Peak, and I ended up with the view of the world looking out over Simi Valley and Camarillo and Oxnard and the Pacific Ocean.

And you may ask yourself... how did I get here? :)

It was 102º and not an easy trail, I definitely had to work, but how great was it, with U2 accompanying, out there all by myself, to be rewarded with such a view.  I may do it again tomorrow!


Win 7 x64 ...

Sunday,  08/15/10  10:18 AM

Win 7 - from i32 to x64...Okay, here we go...
Upgrading Win 7 from x86 to x64...

Update: Well, "upgrade" is the wrong word, because it turns out there is no supported path from x86 to x64.  So you have to do a clean install.  So I did.  And am now in the middle of re-setting-up *everything*, and experiencing the joys of installation and configuration.  Fortunately I kept a log when I setup Win 7 x86, so I am following along with what I did before, but unfortunately I didn't note enough detail in all cases.  So be it.  Please stay tuned...

Update 2: The long slog continues... lots of stuff to install, lots of little niddly things to configure.  I remember a lot of them just well enough to know I did something, but not well enough to remember what, exactly.  So be it.  I must say the machine 'feels' faster and it has not yet crashed :)

Update 3: It works!  Everything and I mean *everything* is faster, boots, app launches, apps themselves, screen refreshes... like having a faster computer, and it was fast before.  Most notably I can now run several 2MB VMWare machines alongside all my foreground stuff; I can run Photoshop, Office, Aperio's Spectrum system; all my usual apps, and instantly switch to a VM.  Clearly x64 is a better host for VMs.  Beyond the inconvenience of reloading and reconfiguring everything, there are a few niddly things I haven't got working yet; my Cannon scanner's Twain driver is the worst so far.  On the whole a success.  Stay tuned...



on the road again

Monday,  08/16/10  11:24 PM

Back on the road, back in Vista, back in my stupid little hotel room, and back to not being happy about it.  Had to come down to Vista for some job interviews - did I tell you, Aperio is hiring? - and worst of all 3rd Corner isn't open on Mondays...

log sailing canoesAn excuse to post the picture: Log Sailing Canoes.  Click through to view the video, too, although it blatantly violates the inverted pyramid rule.

Levi Leipheimer wins Leadville 100Most excellent: Levi Leipheimer wins the Leadville 100 - in record time, too, beating Lance Armstrong's time from last year...

If you've been following the whole P ≠ NP thing, here's P vs NP for dummies.  I can make it even shorter for you: an NP problem can only be solved by brute force search, whereas P problems have shortcuts.

Rupert Murdock is launching a new digital newspaper... for the iPad.  Good luck with that.  "What’s remarkable about this current escapade is that Murdoch is actually proposing to sell a product that people have previously failed to even give away for free."

Did you know?  There was an opening scene from Return of the Jedi which was deleted... and which is now on YouTube.  Darth Vader reaches out to Luke via the force, while Luke finishes his new lightsaber...

BTW I am delighted with Google's new image search UI, available in Firefox (it's HTML 5), wherein you can scroll down infinitely through multiple pages.  A great innovation.

Do you Bing?  Apparently a lot of people do... I don't know of anyone who has changed their default search engine to Bing however (at least, anyone who isn't saddled with the Windows default).

Saturn's Titan... will we find live there?Saturn's Titan: will we find life there?  Yes, please.  I for one would love to find out personally :)

Here we have the should I skip class today calculator.  Remarkable for its thoroughness, obviously someone skipped class more than once to build it.  [ via Althouse ]

Jennifer Aniston in Office SpaceWomen are on Team Aniston.  Me, too :)  Rewatched Office Space recently... best movie ever about Credit Union software.

An interesting longer post from Glenn Reynolds about men and women and priorities...  "Men care more about making money because making money is important to attracting and keeping women, and determining their status in general. Women don't value money as much, because it's not so important to attracting and keeping men or determining their status. On the other hand, caring - or at least the appearance thereof - is."  The state of the world in a nutshell.

Stephen Wolfram's Setup.  "By far my #1 tool is Mathematica. Which, of course, I built so I could have it to use! These days I use it not just to compute, but also to keep notes, to create presentations, and to do all sorts of other things. Partly, I figure that the more I actually use Mathematica, the better we'll make it work."  Dogfooding!  [ via Daring Fireball ]

Onward into the week - have a great one!


I'm baack!

Friday,  08/20/10  11:21 PM

Yay, back home, finally, after another long week on the road again...

Unexpected.  "The seemingly-endless parade of bad economic news, which time after time is described in the press as 'unexpected.' Apparently it is always a surprise when left-wing economic policies don't work. It happened again today, with the announcement that new unemployment claims rose to a nine-month high of 500,000."  It would be funnier if it wasn't our lives.

guy goes into a bar, there's a robot bartender...Guy goes into a bar, there's a robot bartender.  "So, you still happy you voted for Obama?"  It would be funnier if...

Q: Will Barack Obama be a one-term President?  A: Yes, he might last that long.

Union member fired for attempting to unionize union's employees.  I am not making this up.

Kindle and iPad displaysKindle and iPad displays, up close and personal.  Not only is the resolution on the Kindle better - as shown in these 400X pictures - but the contrast is *way* better, especially in bright light.  No comparison, really.

More on P ≠ NP: inside everybody's favorite million dollar math proof.  I love that everyone knows P ≠ NP, but proving it appears to be NP :)

rise of the MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra)The Rise of the MAMILs.  (Middle-aged men in lycra.)  "Flashy sports cars are out, now no mid-life crisis is complete without a souped-up road bike."  Very cool, and I love my bike, but I disagree that flashy sports cars are out :)

I have to pronounce my upgrade reload to Win 7 64-bit a success.  Everything is *faster*, and no babies died.  Woo hoo.

This is so funny, remember I told you my Mom was the only person I knew who used their iPad?  Well Bloomberg reports the iPad leads Apple to the elderly.  Probably not the main market but how cool is that?

Wired: the Web is deadWired: The Web is dead.  They must be desperate for circulation, this is the dumbest thing ever.  From the magazine that ran The Long Tail too.

bike shop with 120 bikes on the facadePicture of the week: A bike shop with 120 bikes on their facade.  I love it!  A sure-fire way of attracting MAMILs :)


no arms, no legs ... no worries

Friday,  08/20/10  11:41 PM

This you must see...

no arms, no legs ... no worries

Unbelieveable.  And incredibly inspiring!


Bowling for Tchaikovsky

Friday,  08/20/10  11:46 PM

Tonight we were guests of our friends Mike and Liz who took us to see the L.A. Philharmonic's Tchaikovsky Spectacular at the Hollywood Bowl.  It was indeed spectacular; the entire experience, including the ambiance, eating in their box (lobster salad!), the music itself - violin soloist Baiba Skride was awesome! - and of course the finale, featuring the 1812 Overture, the USC Trojan bands' brass section, fireworks, and yes of course cannon fire.  You can't get much more spectacular than that!

violin soloist Baiba Skride with conductor Bramwell Tovey
violinist Baida Skride with conductor Bramwell Tovey

Conductor Bramwell Tovey was magnificent, coaxing an energetic Capriccio Italien from the staid Phil, and then a rather peaceful and dreamy Swan Lake, before the excitement of the 1812 Overture finale.  Tovey's remarks to the crowd were delightful, about the trombone fanfare at the end he remarked "it is rather hard to ignore them, but I find it is worth the effort".

1812 Overture featuring fireworks, the USC Trojan bands' brass section, and cannon fire
the Bowl in full regalia; USC Trojan brass, L.A.Phil, fireworks, and cannon fire

A great evening and a wonderful example of a uniquely Los Angeles tradition...


Cool Breeze 200K was

Sunday,  08/22/10  10:58 AM

Yesterday I rode the Cool Breeze 200K, for the second year in a row, and it was ... a great ride.  Starts in Ventura, up the river along the bike trail, back into the quiet neighborhoods East of Ojai, then the climb above Lake Casitas and descent into Carpinteria, through Montecito, up into the hills above Santa Barbara, down into Goleta, and back along the coast via Hope Ranch, downtown Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, the 101 Freeway (!), and the coastal bike path.  The weather was perfect, and I rode most of it with some good friends from the Conejo Valley Cyclists which made it even better.

Some pictures, of possible interest:

the route: 126 miles, 8,100' of climbing, and yeah a cool breeze along the coast

self portrait in the early morning light of Ojai

my CVC compatriots Jim, Richard, and Gary climb the Lake Casitas grade

above Lake Casitas - wow! - all the climbing pays off

view of Santa Barbara and the Pacific Ocean from East Mountain Road

paceline through Hope Ranch - amazing properties

bike path along the Four Seasons in Montecito ... a perfect day

Rincon Beach checkpoint - all I needed was a book and a beer

riding the 101 is not my favorite part; traffic to the left, ocean to the right, paceline ahead

feeling great on a perfect day

And when I was all done?  I'd done it in 7:12 riding time, the fastest 200K ever for me.  Yippee.


Sunday,  08/22/10  03:16 PM

A quiet Sunday, we had a nice brunch down by the Lake, and I am still pleasantly worn out and buzzed from my 200K yesterday.  And tonight Alex and I are off to Seattle for a visit to University of Washington aka U-dub; I plan to visit a couple of customers as well...  but first, blogging!

Inkling: digital textbooks for the iPadFaster please!  Digital textbook startup Inkling scores Sequoia funding, publisher deals.  Using the iPad for textbooks is such a no-brainer, you can totally see the writing on this wall.  Textbooks are *so* expensive, and it is such an inefficient market.  Of course the challenge is that unlike novels and the like, textbooks must be "rendered", the formatting must be preserved via PDF or HTML or something like that... but it is doable, and it shall be done.

iPad: then this happenedMeanwhile: Then this happened
The iPhone happened, and smartphones changed. 
The iPad happened, and ... laptops changed?
I'm not sure I believe it, but it's cute.

An interesting think piece from Brad Feld: should you charge more for your product?  The conventional wisdom is no, you should charge less, and make it up on the volume.  But... yeah, you might be leaving money on the table, and yeah, you might be cheapening your brand.  Pricing is tough.

I love it: One more reason to ride a bike.  Most encounters between cars and bikes end badly, but not this one...

cactus bloomFrom LGF: Cactus bloom.  I find the lifecycles of desert plants to be amazing, wherein they wait patiently for weeks or months or years for a teeny bit of rain.  And often the blooms are equally amazing.

Here we have six fascinating underground homes that go above and beyond.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought!

fascinating burried homes


at U-dub

Monday,  08/23/10  11:01 PM

Woke up this morning in Seattle, at the beautiful Alexis Hotel downtown, got up (yawn), worked out (gasp), ate breakfast (yum), and drove up to Bellingham to meet with a client (wow what a beautiful drive!):

this picture does not fully capture the green and blue, wow

After an equally beautiful drive back, a visit to the University of Washington, aka U-dub, with Alexis...

we are here

our guide explains; statue of George Washington, "red square", that is a library, not a cathedral

the UW campus is stunning; note Mt. Raineer beyond the fountain

Husky stadium!

"the quad" is the main road down campus, lined with greenery and buildings

Alex was pretty impressed - a great place to spend four years learning and playing

a sample of campus life :)

And then ... off again, back home; the whole trip seemed a bit of a dream...

Mt. Raineer towers over the landscape; it doesn't look real, does it?


Tuesday,  08/24/10  10:11 PM

Home for a day, between trips to Seattle and Vista, and on the phone for most of it :(  although it was good to be home.  Trying to get caught up around here and I find...

The August 2, 2010 issue of the New Yorker was excellent; not only was the cover great, but the contents too; some selected articles:

  • Stuck in MoscowStuck - the incredible badness of Moscow traffic.

  • Letting Go - "what should medicine do when it can't save your life" - poignant and thought-provoking, an important subject...

  • The Scales Fall - "is there any hope for our overfished oceans?" - a tragedy of the commons if ever there was one.

Christopher Hitchens via Ann Althouse: "Tolerance is one of the first and most awkward questions raised by any examination of Islamism."  That's it.  That's why multiculturalism breaks down.  I can tolerate anyone who can tolerate me!

Eat Pray Love - so be itDave Winer reviews Eat Pray Love.  "The most powerful thing you can do to get through all this messy trickery is to first forgive your ghosts."  I'm not strongly tempted to see this, although I like Julia Roberts and I agree with the message.

Scott Adams goes nonlinear: Larger Than the Coolness of Corduroy.  You have to click through.

Ever wonder:  How promiscuous are you?  So I took the quiz, and "based on your response data, you'd be most at home in: Finland, the most promiscuous (#1) of the 48 countries evaluated by the study."  Finland?  Huh.

iPad for digital pathology?I must tell you, my opinion of the iPad is gradually morphing...  it is successful, of course, and to everyone's surprise there isn't a killer app; just a bunch of different things people are figuring out that it is good for...  it might not be good for me - so far, it isn't - but so be it.

PS my friend Gary, who has an extraordinary 20 years' worth of tablet experience, opines "his skepticism about his skepticism is warranted."  Yeah mine too.

Pluto the de-planet-ized planetDid you know?  Four years ago today, Pluto was de-planet-ized.  The Earth didn't stop rotating around the Sun, but it was a big deal.


No Socialists (New Yorker - Aug 2, 2010)

Tuesday,  08/24/10  10:34 PM


I see socialists myself
and they are scary...


buzz kill

Tuesday,  08/24/10  10:51 PM

This is interesting...  from Leo Laporte: Buzz Kill.  In which he noticed that everything he was posting to Google Buzz wasn't actually getting posted, and nobody noticed, not even him!

"Something happened tonight that made me question everything I've done with social media since I first joined Twitter in late 2006...

"It makes me feel like everything I’ve posted over the past four years on Twitter, Jaiku, Friendfeed, Plurk, Pownce, and, yes, Google Buzz, has been an immense waste of time. I was shouting into a vast echo chamber where no one could hear me because they were too busy shouting themselves.

"I should have been posting it here all along. Had I been doing so I’d have something to show for it. A record of my life for the last few years at the very least. But I ignored my blog and ran off with the sexy, shiny microblogs.


Related, from Paul Carr: Thnks Fr Th Mmrs: The Rise Of Microblogging, The Death Of Posterity.

(I must tell you, I love having my archive.  It's like a diary, only linked to the world.)

I honestly think this microblogging stuff is a fad.  An amazingly popular fad - think CB radios - but a fad nonetheless.  We'll see.



Alexis' edition...

Wednesday,  08/25/10  10:47 PM

Happy Birthday Alexis!It's the Alexis edition of my blog, as she turns 17 today... congratulations, to the most wonderful kid imaginable... and meanwhile, we find:

Chest Beating: NEMA Working Group 6 have approved supplement 145 to the DICOM standard, "Whole Slide Imaging for Microscopy".  This means that the huge complicated images created by scanning entire microscope slides can now be stored using the DICOM standard, a major step forward for my company Aperio and the entire digital pathology community.  It will take time for this standard to be adopted and propagate, but just having a standard is a major step forward, and every journey starts with the first step.  Yay.

From the August 9 issue of the New Yorker:

  • cool parking garage from Herzog and de MeuronThe Wheelhouse - "Herzog and de Meuron reinvent the parking garage" - and how great is that?  I've always admired the spiral parking of the circular Marina Towers adjacent to the Chicago River...

  • Empty Chamber - "Just how broken is the Senate?" - judging from this article, the answer is very broken indeed.  Yikes.

Squirrel drinking coffeeHere we have the T.O. Acorn's Squirrel of the Month.  A great feature, and a great choice :)


the end of summer

Saturday,  08/28/10  10:13 AM

the end of summer...Good morning!  A beautiful Saturday, sitting outside enjoying the morning... and I am anticipating a mountain bike ride with my friends in a bit... but I am also a bit melancholy, as it is now, unofficially, the End of Summer.  My kids are back in school, there is football on TV, and the air has a slight bite to it.  It has been a great summer for me, and I am not ready for it to be over!  Nooo...

Kindle 3 - smaller thinner lighter brighter cooler...NY Times: New Kindle Leaves Rivals Farther Back.  I just bought one of these for Megan, arrived yesterday.  Really impressive little device.  Smaller thinner lighter brighter cooler than Kindle 2 (which I have) which was smaller thinner lighter brighter cooler than Kindle 1 (which I had).  Definitely the future of reading.

Dog bites man: Blockbuster plans to file for bankruptcy.  And so electronic distribution trumps physical once again.  How long before this happens to Barnes & Noble?

Apropos: View from the trenches: surviving change...

Also: Phone numbers are dead, they just don't know it yet...

Good to know: Ogling beautiful women a natural reflex for men.  Um, duh.

The Onion wonders: Are tests biased against apathetic students?  It is so interesting the way test results are compared against "common knowledge", as a way of testing the tests.  I am in the middle of this with my daughter Alex, who has taken the SATs ahead of applying to colleges... far more time and energy goes into explaining why SAT results are incorrect (because they don't match "common knowledge") than goes into analyzing those results to learn what is really going on...

unnatural selection!Very important for future reference: Vanderleun's 330 word guide to writing a book proposal.  I *must* do this.  I must I must I must...

Coding Horror: Vampires (Programmers) vs. Werevolves (Sysadmins).  "The art of managing vampires and werewolves, I think, is to ensure that they spend their time not fighting amongst themselves, but instead, using those supernatural powers together to achieve a common goal they could not otherwise. In my experience, when programmers and system administrators fight, it's because they're bored."  I love it.

Lou Ruvo Center for Brain HealthTheScientist has A Q&A with Frank Gehry as he shares thoughts on his latest creation, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health."TS: When designing the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, were you inspired by the diseases and patients it was intended to treat? FG: Well, I work with the clients and they have programs, requirements for their labs and for their equipment and things like that, so we respond to that...  we take our direction from them as clients and explore ways to make their lives more interesting and better through the building."  How awesome is that building?  I suspect it will indeed influence the work done inside of it!

going downwind faster than the wind...Important work: How to sail downwind faster than the wind.  Interestingly it is necessary to accelerate the vehicle externally to a speed higher than the wind, at which point it can stay there.  Seems like cheating, doesn't it?

Did you know?  Clean people feel morally superior.  As we should :)

ZooBorns: Komodo Dragon hatchlingsZooborns of the week: Komodo Dragon hatchlings!


the Antonov 225

Saturday,  08/28/10  10:45 AM

The Antonov 225, the world's biggest airplane.  There is only one.

Awesome!  How cool is that?



weekend wrap

Sunday,  08/29/10  10:05 PM

Great weekend, didn't get enough done of course - as always - and feel a little guilty about it - as always - but I did have fun, got some exercise, and even (gasp!) got some sun.  All good.

The lightbulb goes on.  "The Fed will not come to the Democrats’ rescue, at least not in time to stave off a shellacking in November."  I'm not hoping for a Republican resurgence so much as a recognition that liberal economic policies have failed.

Women of Antarctica 2010 calendarI like this post by Scot Tempesta: Ice Queens.  "When I was 18 years old my best friend Ana died of breast cancer at the age of 32. This year I turned 32 and I realized exactly how much grace she exhibited during her ordeal in the prime of her life."  Wow.  Dying of breast cancer at 32.  Order the calendar!

Some of my best friends are that age.  When I was 32, I was divorced, my business was in trouble, and I felt my life was over before it had ever started.  When I think back to everything that has happened since, the possibility that life might have ended for me right then is frightening.  Makes you appreciate every day.

Google's HTML5 demo: The Wilderness Downtown featuring Arcade FireThis is awesome!  Check out Google's HTML5 demo, featuring Arcade Fire's "We used to wait", encapsulated in a "film" called The Wilderness Downtown.  You will need Chrome, and it will be worth it.

HTML5's capabilities notwithstanding, a LOT of sites use Flash, and they don't work under iOS.  John Gruber considers.  "Is there more pressure on Apple to add Flash support to iOS, or on websites with Flash-only content to produce iOS-compatible alternatives?"

I cannot believe the pre-hype and prognostication going on around Apple's "event" this week; nearly everyone agrees there will be some kind of iPod update, and also some kind of AppleTV update.  It is all very exciting, but let's wait to see what they actually announce instead of endlessly debating what they might announce...

[Update: yippee it will be streamed live.  Although I will be in sales training and will probably not have a chance to watch until... next weekend...]

Motto for this week: Drinks Well With Others:)


amazing 3D chalk art

Sunday,  08/29/10  10:18 PM

amazing 3D chalk art
I would love to see this stuff live


my Porsche Panamerica loaner

Sunday,  08/29/10  10:28 PM

I think you guys know, I smashed my little car, and the subsequent repairs have taken a long time.  By way of apology and sympathy, the awesome folks at The Auto Gallery have loaned me a brand new Porsche Panamerica! 

In case you don't know, this is a four-door sports sedan... and so far I have found the driving experience to be rather Lexus-like, smooth as silk if a little unexciting.  The interior is luxurious and it has all the bells and whistles, including an iPod interface and a great stereo.  How fun.

so what do you think?  beautiful?

the front definitely evokes "Porsche"...

... but the back seems a bit ... different

They say never look a gift horse in the mouth, and I do plan to enjoy it this week.  But I might have a few things to say about it next weekend... stay tuned :)


Return to the archive.

About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
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
the big day
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?