Critical Section

Archive: April 2011

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April lion

Saturday,  04/02/11  04:13 PM

in like a lion, out like a lamb?April came in like a lion for me; was in Boston where I enjoyed an April Fools storm.  Came back last night and here I am, in warm and sunny Los Angeles, blogging away...  Yay.

Quick notes:

  • Flew back on Virgin America, on a brand new plane.  First commercial flight.  The pilots celebrated by gunning it down the runway, it fairly jumped off the ground.  That was fun.  Plane has airbags, iPod holders, and nicer headrests, all enhancing the already enhanced Virgin America experience.
  • While in Boston rented a Ford Fusion.  Not a bad little car, nice looking, comfortable, drove well.  I am so rooting for Ford, unlike GM they are NOT Atlas Shrugged motors.
  • The GPS in my Palm Pre is infinitely better than any in-car unit, and 100% competitive with any handheld unit.  Even down to having realtime traffic.  Love it.
  • My "new" Kindle 1 arrived.  Perfect condition, I love it.  eBay sellers' customer service is awesome.  (Thanks!)
  • While I was out, got a giant shipment of light bulbs from, and some batteries from  Honestly how did we do this before the Internet?
  • Also while I was out, received new memory for my laptop (from, am now running 8GB.  Perfect for several concurrent VMs.  It was, like, $200.  Amazing.

Okay, enough of that, how about some of this:

Bruno Santos tidal boreHere we have the coolest tidal bore on the planet, at Bruno Santos, Indonesia.  Yes you must watch this, 20 perfect sets rolling in for a mile.  Looks computer generated it is so perfect.  Wow.

Burt RutanHuh, aeronautical engineer Burt Rutan is retiring.  What a legend.  Wonder if Scaled Composites is going to make it without him?

So the final tally is in for my for a teen: iPad vs Macbook survey; Macbook won in a landslide, 80% to 12%.  So be it.  Still most of you voters are already computer users, while iPads are the computer for the rest of us :)

Apropos: How Apple made the world safe for the future of keyboards.  I don't know; for serious typing there's nothing like an actual keyboard.  In fact the old metal clicky ones are the best!

Check out Google Page Speed Online.  Critical Section gets an 82 / 100.  So be it.

the Macalope announces his Fools of the YearWay too funny: the Macalope's Fools of the Year.  I especially like the iPad success-deniers.  At this point they have been overtaken by history.

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: The importance of new ideas (even bad ones).  One of the reasons I like blogging :)

Excellent: It's no joke, IPOs are back.  Just in time!

bathing Color in a new lightTrue colors: bathing mobile in an entirely new light.  We'll see about that; I think this is advanced kool-aid drinking.  There doesn't seem to be a there there.

Speaking of missing theres, Dave Winer has remerged his linkblog with his realblog, ending an experiment with Twitter.  I find the number of ex-Twitter users among my friends is growing.

Well of course: Google plans facial recognition app that can pull up personal data.  You know this will happen (we've talked about it); the only question is how soon.  And of course when can we have it built into our shades?

Go K'Cats!Amazingly and surprisingly, I realized I have no idea who is in the Final Four, and was only dimly aware it takes place this weekend.  Wow and in years past I was all over this.  No #1 seeds!  No #2s either, one #3 and #4!  Wow.  UConn, Kentucky, Butler, and Virginia Commonwealth (!) ... I guess I'm going to root for Kentucky.  Just because.

BTW: ESPN's website sucks.  Too much glizty crap and auto-video.  Almost impossible to find the bracket!

The real big sporting event is tomorrow's Tour of Flanders.  Can't wait!  Onward, have a nice weekend...


the tsunami

Sunday,  04/03/11  09:58 PM




itemized deductions

Sunday,  04/03/11  10:02 PM

there is no opt-out either



Sunday,  04/03/11  11:43 PM

triple Klein bottleIt's a wrap ... another long Sunday happily spent in the land of 1s and 0s.  I've been  developing / testing a client/server/server interaction between my laptop and a VM running on my laptop and another VM running on my laptop.  I could do this *anywhere*, how cool is that?  And while doing so, could even take time out to blog...

Philip Greenspun: Why I love international organizations.  "As a taxpayer, my only comfort in our newest war is that it provokes some thought on the nature of international organizations. A Nobel Peace Laureate is killing people who recently chaired the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Why? Because the United Nations Security Council has decided that the former chair of the Human Rights Commission doesn't provide enough human rights. Truth is truly stranger than fiction."  Even stranger than the Onion.

Butler BulldawgCongratulations to Butler and UConn, not only for winning their semifinals yesterday but for providing us with some great basketball to watch in the process.  Man, the sense of energy in those teams is amazing.  Should be a great final tomorrow...  I am rooting for Butler, as the underdawg :)

Nick Nuyens wins the Tour of FlandersCongratulations to Nick Nuyens, winner of the 2011 Tour of Flanders.  I didn't even know Nick, but he outsprinted Sylvain Chavanel and favorite Fabian Cancellara for the win.  Sounds like it was a great race, I can't wait to watch it tomorrow on Versus.  (Tried to watch it today, but we don't get Versus HD anymore - thanks, Time Warner Cable - and my Tivo didn't know that.  Sigh.)  Sounds like Nick won the cool way, by following wheels, hanging around, and then having more gas in the tank at the end.

Amazon MP3 Uploader - to the cloud!Another background task I did today while coding; installed Amazon's MP3 Uploader and loaded about 3GB of music up into their cloud.  Wow, is this a game changer.  How long before every smartphone and tablet has players for this?  How long before every car does?  How long before this is the *only* way to buy and store and listen to music?

Yes, the iTunes store should be in the cloud.  It was awesome for what it was, back in the day when we all ripped CDs, but now having it as a desktop app doesn't make sense.  How long before this happens?

Helena RubinsteinLoved this story in the New Yorker: Helena Rubinstein and the Business of Beauty.  Took me a while before I realized it was a book review, and a while after that to realize it was written by Malcolm Gladwell.  Great piece on L'Oreal, Rubinstein, WWII, the business of beauty, and the nature of entrepreneurship.  Yes you must read it to see how these threads come together :)

Finally!  Sed - an Introduction and Tutorial.  "sed is a marvelous utility. Unfortunately, most people never learn its real power. The language is very simple, but the documentation is terrible."  Few things are as powerful and frustrating to use as sed.


Feynman the thinker

Monday,  04/04/11  11:58 PM

Richard Feyman, the thinkerMy friend Bob emailed a link to this NYTimes book review: Richard Feynman, the Thinker.  It's a good review of what appears to be a good book, a noble addition to the overflowing shelves of books about the Nobel-prizewinning physicist.

Among other things he was an incredible lecturer, fitting that he's shown at right in 22 Gates, "the low temperature lab", a lecture hall in the sub-sub-basement of the physics building at Caltech.

Yeah, I did see a Feynman lecture while at CalTech.  By the time I got there he was “retired”, but occasionally came out to give talks.  I knew him slightly from before, he was a friend of my father’s, actually played bongo drums at my parents’ wedding :)  My dad was a postdoc at CalTech in the late 1950s, working for Linus Pauling.  Anyway when I was a freshman I remember one week the Physics I lecture was moved from the usual hall to a much larger one, and rumor spread that Feynman himself was giving a lecture.  Sure enough, on the day there were about 2,000 people in attendance besides my little class of 100, to hear him speak about Special Relativity, many of them senior administrators and faculty.  What can I say, he was great; to this day I remember it so well.  He spoke with a distinct New York accent, used a lot of slang, and was completely irreverent, yet he discussed the subject as only one who completely understands it can do, with simple analogies that led easily to "aha" moments.  He also kept referring to Albert [Einstein] and Murray [Gell-Mann], which was a little unsettling :)  I remember walking out of the hall dazed and amazed, sure I *finally* understood Special Relativity.  Of course two hours later I had lost it again, never to return.  Anyway that was cool.

I’ve read a number of biographies of Feynman, he was of course an amazing character beside being a brilliant physicist.  “Surely you must be joking, Mr. Feynman”, remains my favorite.  I'll have to check this one out.


downwind faster than the wind?

Tuesday,  04/05/11  09:48 PM

I saw this article in Wired which asks "Can a wind-powered craft move faster than the wind which pushes it?", and have been pondering ever since.  Thin Air Designs claim to have created such a craft; it consists of a land yacht with a propeller linked to the drive shaft of the wheels.  There's even a movie showing the craft in action.

You could imagine such a craft going into the wind quite fast, as it goes faster into the wind the apparent wind is faster, and the craft goes even faster, etc.  Sailboats do the same thing.  But can you imagine such a craft going downwind?  It seems like the faster it goes, the slower the apparent wind, and when it reaches wind speed the apparent wind will be zero.  At that point there is nothing to turn the propeller, and no power to the wheels.  Right?

Or ... maybe the wheels turn the propeller?  Maybe the faster the craft goes downwind, the faster the wheels turn the propeller, which bites the air, moving the craft faster?  In which case once it is going the same speed as the wind, the propeller is grabbing at air which isn't moving at all.  But that would imply a sort of perpetual motion machine.

Huh.  I'm not sure about the physics here, what do you think?


Millie Podmore, 1929-2011

Friday,  04/08/11  09:47 PM


Today we had the memorial service for Shirley's Mom

It was ... really nice. 
Emotional of course, and there was a bittersweet aspect to having lost her, but as she suffered from Alzheimer's in a way we had already lost "her" over the years, bit by bit.  The highest level feeling was that now she's reunited with Shirley's father Charles, who passed away ten years ago.  And it was certainly a time to reminisce about how wonderful she was, and the legacy she leaves, her three children and eight grandchildren, and the beautiful memories of a beautiful person that we all carry around of her.




Good Morning, Kansas City!

Saturday,  04/09/11  06:30 AM

Kansas City bull!You know what happens when you had a long emotional day, but then you have to fly to Kansas City to give a presentation the next day?  And you get in late and are tired beyond tired but you can't sleep, and so you watch a movie (the King's Speech - most excellent)?

tropical workout Kansas CityAnd you toss and turn and get up after two hours of "sleep" to go work out, and find some kind of weird tropical atrium right outside the workout room, but you have a great workout anyway?  Want to know what happens?


Paul Ryan for President.  Maybe.  "If we choose to have a federal government that tries to solve every problem, then as long as society keeps growing more complex, government must keep on growing right along with it. The rule of law by the people must be reduced and the arbitrary discretion of experts expanded..."  Indeed.  The longer I live, the less I look to the government to solve any of our problems.

the electronic RollsThe electronic Rolls Royce, it's amazing.  "The first electric Rolls-Royce is big. It is smooth. It is mind-bogglingly luxurious. And the torque just keeps coming. It has the largest battery ever installed in a passenger car, a 71-kilowatt-hour monster that would power your iPhone until Armageddon."  Yes.

Mian ManshaMian Muhammad Mansha, Pakistan's richest man, speaks...  and what he says makes a lot of sense.  I'll say it again; the best hope for countries like Pakistan is their own leaders, not help from the U.S.

SpaceX Falcon HeavySpaceX promises biggest rocket since Saturn V.  "SpaceX is poised to take a giant leap with the biggest rocket since the Saturn V carried men to the moon, and it could blast off by early 2013.  Elon Musk’s private space startup announced Tuesday that the 22-story Falcon Heavy will carry more than 117,000 pounds into low Earth orbit, giving it twice the lift capability of the space shuttle or the Delta IV heavy rocket built by Boeing–Lockheed Martin."  Yes.

Virgin OceanicRichard Branson launches Virgin Oceanic: deep-sea exploring submarines.  "Today, Sir Richard Branson, American sailor, pilot and explorer Chris Welsh, and submarine designer Graham Hawkes launched Virgin Oceanic, a project to explore 'the last frontiers of our own Blue Planet: the very bottom of our seas.'"  Yes.

Loving this: The next Napster?  Copyright questions as 3D printing comes of age.  Ah yes, what happens when atoms can be encoded as bits?  It means physical objects become information, and as we all know information wants to be free, or at least easy.  When do you suppose we'll be able to buy [the instructions to print] a chair on iTunes?

The new LinkedIn platform: the professional web.  Facebook -like features for LinkedIn, including the ability to "Recommend" items online and sign-on via LinkedIn's authentication system.  This could be important.  I started to add a LinkedIn "Recommend" button to my blog, but then I realized 'hey this is my personal blog'.  But perhaps I will do so on The Daily Scan?

ZooBorn: [Chinese] baby giraffeHow do you say Giraffe in Chinese?  ZooBorn of the week: a [Chinese] baby giraffe.

Onward: I am giving a talk about Digital Pathology for Patient Care in an hour.  Wish me luck.  And have a great weekend!


$100 gas

Tuesday,  04/12/11  06:50 PM

You read the articles and you see the prices posted (or not posted) at gas stations and you see the little meter running running running and it doesn't actually hit home until...


Yikes!  $100 to fill my tank :(


(w)here am I?

Saturday,  04/16/11  01:12 PM

Hi y'all sorry for the interruption in service; Kansas City, Westlake, Edmonton, Vancouver, Vista, Chicago, (w)here am I?  Will try to get caught up but have more travel ahead.  Sigh.  Having fun but it is better when you can actually unpack :)

Are you sitting down?  Holding any sharp objects?  I've discovered I *like* using my iPhone.  While in Canada my Sprint Palm wasn't able to roam freely, so I started using my Verizon iPhone.  I still don't like not having a physical keyboard but with daily use found the virtual keyboard was okay; you have to develop a friendly relationship with auto-correct and then things go better :)  I love the iPhone's camera!  Wow.  With the iPhone I do NOT have to carry a separate camera, it's that good, and it's connected so you can email / text / Facebook pictures in realtime.  Love that.  I also like the iPhone's screen (wow) and the speed (wow wow) clearly better than the Palm.  Still webOS is nicer; prefer its search its contact integration and having multiple things running at once.

I want to leave you with some samples from the awesome modern art collection here at the Hotel Intercontinental:




Oh, PS, Atlas Shrugged is out!  The critics hate it and the people who've seen it love it.  Can't wait to see it myself, please stay tuned.

PSS have been wearing my Reardon Metal bracelet, it is a *sure* conversation starter.  So many people have heard of Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, but fewer know what the fuss is all about, and fewer still have read the book, or at least, have read it since college :)


views from Chicago

Saturday,  04/16/11  11:16 PM

swimming with the brown trout :)I am in Chicago today*, after day one of the CAP Futurescape conference, and I am blogging...

"kick to pick" baby naming iPhone AppAre you having trouble naming your unborn baby?  Why not let the baby itself decide?  There's an app for that :)

Augmented reality comes closer to reality.  As searching with pictures improves... will make searching with text seem quaint within five years.

Stunning augmented reality stargazing arrives on the iPad 2.  And so it continues...

Are you a short sleeper?  "'Short sleepers'...typically turn in well after midnight, then get up just a few hours later and barrel through the day without needing to take naps or load up on caffeine."  I keep wondering if I am, or if I'm just kidding myself.

Stratosphere Giant, *almost* the tallest tree, now eclipsed by HyperionClimbing Hyperion, the world's tallest tree.  Awesome.  The tree is so tall and the surrounding trees are so dense, you really can't even get a sense of how tall it is, just that the climber is working his way up and up and up.  What amazes me more than anything about trees is that they can live, I mean, how does water get from under the ground to 380' above the ground?

Ohad Samet thinks PayPal is about to get a bruising from Facebook and Square.  Nope, don't think so.  Payments is hard, and PayPal's network effect combined with their fraud sophistication make them hard to compete against.  Stay tuned, we'll watch this play out together.

PS remember when Google launched Google Checkout?  Lots of people thought that would be a threat to PayPal, but it hasn't even made a dent.

wave disk engineHere we have the Wave Disk Engine.  Cool.  I love that people come up with this stuff, but they never seem to work as well as the inventors say :)

John Newman quotes Mark Andreessen: "First and foremost, a start-up puts you on an emotional rollercoaster unlike anything you have ever experienced... The level of stress that you're under generally will magnify things to incredible highs and unbelievable lows at whiplash speed and huge magnitude. Sound like fun?"  Yes!

Johan van Summeran wins Paris-RoubaixAwesome, congratulations!  Johan van Summeran wins Paris-Roubaix.  And Fabian Cancellara made a brave charge after him to finish second.  I love it when a journeyman like van Summeran has a "white swan" day and kills the field.  Fabian will have [many] other days but maybe this was Johan's only one, and he made the most of it.  And then he proposed to his longtime girlfriendYes!

The scary reality of a real-life Barbie doll.  I agree with Ann Althouse: "The reason the Barbie doll has to have such a small waist relative to the size of the breasts is that Barbie is designed to look good in doll clothes, and when you make doll clothes, you have to use normal fabrics, and you have to make seams and double the fabric over in a way that gets very bulky, especially around the waist. The doll's unreal proportions become much more real if you put the clothes on."  I've always liked Barbie :)

Philip Greenspun with some interesting perspective on the federal budget deficit: "We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family’s income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year."

Cars 2 posterNext up from Pixar: Cars 2.  Start your engines!

baby hummingbirds in their nestAwww....  babies of the day, little hummingbirds in their nest.  Yeah they're cute but then notice the housefly in the foreground, and they get cuter...

*actually I'm in Rosemont, about 35 miles from Chicago.  Onward!


views from Washington DC

Monday,  04/18/11  11:56 PM

"Pyramid" outside the Smithsonian Space Museum, but it looks like it belongs in the National Sculpture Garden :)I am in Washington DC today, flew in yesterday, and had a sort of "day off" in between the CAP Futurescape conference last weekend and the ACLA conference coming up this week.  I'm at the Grand Hyatt just off "the Washington Mall" and spent the day visiting two of my spiritual homes, the Smithsonian Museum of Space and the National Sculpture Garden.  Great stuff.  And in the meantime, this:

higher education... a bubble?My ex-boss (at PayPal) Peter Thiel on the Higher Education bubble.  "A true bubble is when something is over-valued and intensely believed...  Education may be the only thing people still believe in in the United States. To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there’s no Santa Claus."  No Santa Claus?

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: The Education Complexity Shift.  A subtle point; at one time, school was more complex than real life but more recently this has been reversed.  "That means the best way to expand a student's mind is by teaching more about the practical complexities of the real world and less about, for example, the history of Europe, or trigonometry."  And of course, students should study Dilbert :)

Pearls before Swine: It's getting harder and harder to write a college graduation card.

Philip Greenspun wonders Why doesn't the average camera automatically upload?  Yeah, I've wondered that too, and this more than even the increasing quality of cellphone cameras is going to make them obsolete.  I think the answer is that cameras are not on a cellphone network (if they were, that would cost money), and free WiFi is too sporadic.

Flip camera in actionHuh, sad: Cisco to shut down Flip camera business.  Another industry subsumed by cellphones.  My daughter loved her Flip, and I did too (used it to record some excellent rides :) but now any phone can do just as well...  I must tell you I never understood Cisco's purchase of Flip in the first place.

Related: Scoble asks Does anyone in Silicon Valley care about Windows anymore?  Um ... Windows?

Atlas Shrugged: Hank and Dagnyblog review: Atlas Shrugged on the Big Screen.  Sounds like it worked, despite the double challenges of interpreting a long iconic book and tiny budget ($15M).  Can't wait to see it!

(I am rereading the book after 30 years and loving it :)

Ayn Rand: from fiction to fact in 52 yearsOf course Atlas Shrugged is more than a movie or a book or a movie made from a book, it is a statement of philosophy, and some are opposed to the statement and all embodiments of it on general principle.  And yet sadly the US today is a lot like the world of Atlas Shrugged' we've gone from fiction to fact in 52 years.  (Actually 54 years, that WSJ article is now two years old :)

Video mashup: Atlas is shrugging already.  Excellent.

The NR: Ryan's budget passes the house.  Excellent.

WSJ: Obama opposes spending cuts right up to the time he calls them historic.  Excellent.

Gilbert wins Amsel GoldCongratulations!  Philippe Gilbert repeats and wins the Amstel Gold.  Interesting how each of the Spring Classics has its own rhythm, and certain riders excel in certain rides.  Gilbert had this one at hello.

Moving bikes stay upright, but not for the reasons we thought.  Huh. Who knew?

The Science of Why We Don't Believe in Science.  Of course a lot of "science" isn't real, and that makes it harder to know what to believe.

Cirque du Soleil's KA's "sand deck"Wow, this is pretty amazing: Backstage at the Cirque du Soleil's KA.  Another one for my "must see" list, which is getting pretty long...  what am I waiting for?

Sarah Palinism of the day: Caribou Barbie.  Perfect.

Courtney Fielding: Table for two and a tablet please.  Will tablets replace waiters?  I doubt it...  but there is no doubt the waiter / restaurant ordering experience could be improved.

ZooBorn: tiny Egyptian tortoiseZooBorn of the day: Tiny Egyptian tortoise.  Awww...

Hey I have a question for you: should I implement Facebook comments?  I'm torn.  I've never had comments, and I don't know if I even want comments, but this seems like the easiest way to do it (aka least likely to attract spam and hence require ongoing gardening).  You can't post a comment about this - yet :) - but if you have thoughts please let me know...


don't debate, collaborate

Tuesday,  04/19/11  04:15 PM

collaborate!I'm at this ACLA conference which is 0% science, 1% business, and 99% politics, and one of the themes of the sessions has been the difficulty our congress faces in getting bipartisan support for anything.  And it occured to me, that when we learn about candidates it is often in debates.  In a very real way we are selecting for politicians who are contentious, because they are good debaters.  But what we need to get things done is politicians who are diplomatic and pragmatic, and who can work well with others.  Maybe instead of debates, we should have collaborations.

How would this work?  Well, suppose there were four candidates, and instead of each debating each other for an hour, they each worked with one of the other candidates for 20 minutes.  They would be given a task or project or idea to develop, and would have to work together to come up with a solution or approach and they they'd present it together.  Each of the candidates would be paired with each of the others, so we'd have a chance to see how well they each worked with the others.  Out of that we'd get a pretty good idea of who could actually get things done.

What do you think?


amazing Apple

Thursday,  04/21/11  11:09 PM

amazing Apple!Apple posted their Q2 results yesterday, and they are amazing.  This company is now bigger than Microsoft in market cap, revenue, and profits, and their growth is phenomenal for such a large company (83% revenue, 95% profit).  They sold 3.8M Macs 18.7M iPhones, 9M iPods, and 4.7M iPads.  Whoa.

Yet .. the stock is under valued, at a PE of 16.3.  Horace Dediu did an analysis in which he suggests Google's Android may be at fault, reducing Apple's market cap by $300B.  Since Google's value is only $169B, if Apple bought Google and shut down Android, it would be a huge win :)


blowing up the moon

Friday,  04/22/11  11:23 PM

Tonight I took Meg and Alex and some of their friends to see some local bands at the Canyon Club, our local rock shop.  And it was amazing!  Blowing Up the Moon were particularly great:

Live rock up close and personal with my kids and their friends, what could be better...  yay!


back for a minute

Saturday,  04/23/11  09:30 AM

home sweet home :)I get to be home for a week before heading out on the road again, and get to hang out quietly at home today, and blog...

Dave Winer: I need to learn jQuery.  Yeah, me too.

Atlas Shrugged!The box-office power of Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' baffles insiders.  Ha!  And I love it that on Rotten Tomatoes the critics give it 13%, but the audience gives it 82%.  There is a lesson here somewhere...

PS let's hope Part 1 makes enough money to enable Parts 2 & 3 to be made!

Real life Atlas Shrugged: Obama to Boeing: drop dead.  "We can't allow any one company to be too successful...Scary!

The 50th anniversary edition of The Phantom Tollbooth!  Wow.  Not quite as influential as Atlas Shrugged, but almost...  definitely on my top ten.  "... when I got to Milo getting lost in The Doldrums where he found a watchdog named Tock, it was probably already too late for me..."  Same!

PS in the eighties there was a band called "Talk Talk", and I was so disappointed when I found out they weren't named "Tock Tock".  A missed opportunity for punishment :)

ugliest couch in the world ... yikesHere we have the ugliest couches in the world.  Reminds me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we can all agree on ugly.

Philippe Gilbert wins Liege-Bastogne-LiegeMan, Philippe Gilbert is having quite a Spring, as he takes Liege-Bastogne-Liege to go with earlier wins in Fleche Wallonne and Amsel Gold.  Chapeau!

Have a great weekend!  I'm planning to (gasp!) sit by the pool, work on my tan, and read...


absolute Azzura

Saturday,  04/23/11  07:17 PM

Running this picture of TP52 Azzura just because:

Some things just make me happy, and this is one of them :)


Happy Easter

Sunday,  04/24/11  10:39 AM

Happy Easter everyone!  Hope you spend it peacefully and happily with those you love.  We are having a family gathering - the first since Shirley's Mom passed away - and while she's gone she will not be forgotten, and I'm looking forward to it.

Does anyone understand the relationship between Easter, bunnies, eggs, and Christ?  Just wondering...


Happy Easter too

Sunday,  04/24/11  09:58 PM

A good day with a good time had by all...

My Easter bunnies, Meg and Alex :)


I think therefore iPhone

Monday,  04/25/11  02:41 PM

iPhone self-portrait :)I did it!  I bought my own iPhone and decommissioned my Palm Pre.  (...and so goodbye Sprint, hello Verizon...)  If you've been following along you know I've had an iPhone from Aperio for a while, using it for demoing digital slide viewing, and then a couple of weeks ago while in Canada I was forced to use it as my actual phone, and I've been using it ever since.  I haven't looked back.

I still like the Pre and still like its physical keyboard and webOS, but the iPhone is just way better.  It's way faster, for one thing, and way more responsive, and the screen is way better, and the camera, and I'm getting used to Mail and Messages and Safari and the virtual keyboard and it all just works.  Every day brings a new App too; even when the Pre had an App it was an afterthought, e.g. the Facebook App on the iPhone is much better, the Open Table App is too, the LinkedIn App, the Moviefone App, oh and now I have Google Goggles and how cool is that! 

I feel kind of silly now that I didn't get an iPhone long before.  None are so devout as the converted :)  Onward!

(Oh, and I like having a front-facing camera too, makes taking self-portraits easy :)


cell vs WiFi

Wednesday,  04/27/11  10:00 PM

iPhone hotspotOne of the cool features of my cool new iPhone is that it can serve as a WiFi "hotspot", using its cell connection.  This means my laptop and iPad and anyone else's devices can go online everywhere I have a Verizon signal.  Which is way cool.  And it prompted me to think about the pervasiveness of cell signals and the robustness of those connections vs WiFi, which is faster but which is way harder to use, way flakier, and pretty much inferior in every way except speed.

This doesn't seem to be a technical difference so much as a business difference.  Your cell signal comes from one company which controls the entire experience, including both ends of the connection, and which earns a profit from providing that service.  And it has competition!  Meanwhile your WiFi signal comes from a huge variety of companies which control only part of the experience, including only one side of the connection, and which mostly provide the service free.  Viewed that way it isn't surprising that cell is so much better.

Makes me wonder when someone - like Apple? - will offer a laptop with a built in cell connection, always on 100% of the time much like an iPad or iPhone.  You could do a lot with that...


royal post

Thursday,  04/28/11  08:26 PM

the royal invitationTomorrow morning ... ah you know so why even mention it; every channel has the story.  Meanwhile I am back home after a week in Vista; Saturday I'm riding a century, and next week I'm off again to New Orleans and Tampa.  But in I have time for a filter pass...

I like this: Why speed matters.  It matters because time is our enemy, our main fixed resource.  Speed is the most important metric in progress.

3D carbon fiber loomAwesome!  A circular carbon fiber loom.  But of course...  how else can you make 3D carbon fiber struts.  Whoa.

Kottke: how to beat Apple.  The net of it is, don't do what they do and expect to do it better, instead, do something else.  Social.  Cloud-based.  Interesting!

Meanwhile, back in court: Amazon quotes Steve Jobs to support motion to dismiss App Store lawsuit: "So there will be at least four app stores on Android, which customers must search among to find the app they want and developers will need to work with to distribute their apps and get paid. This is going to be a mess for both users and developers. Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest-to-use largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone."  I can't imagine that Apple will prevail on this one.  "App Store" is just too generic.  (BTW 'integrated App Store' suggests iApp Store, which is not generic :)

SpaceX Falcon 9WSJ interviews Elon Musk: We can put a man on the moon within ten years.  Awesome!  And who would bet against Elon?  He has made a success of SpaceX already...  with much more to come.

SETI@home - iconic, right?Bummer!  SETI project on hiatus.  Can you remember SETI@home?  Boy, I can...  I had it running on about 50 servers at Digital Insight....and at one time was in the top 100.  I guess in the end this project didn't have the sensitivity it needed to find alien signals.  Still, we know they're out there, and how important would it be to find them?

Great post: the Pirate in the Arena.  "You've either started a company or you haven't. 'Started' doesn't mean joining as an early employee, or investing or advising or helping out. It means starting with no money, no help, no one who believes in you (except perhaps your closest friends and family), and building an organization from a borrowed cubicle with credit card debt and nowhere to sleep except the office."  I have not started a company, but I want to... I think I want to.

Joel Spolsky: Lunch.  "What do you do for lunch every day? Where do you eat it? With whom?  I’ve been on teams that eat together every day, and it’s awesome. I’ve been on teams that don’t, and lunch every day is, at best, lonely."  When I was at PayPal in 2001 we had three meals catered every day.  It was excellent.

Huh: Sprint fends off iPhone challenge, adds subscribers.  Well good for them.  I was happy with Sprint, but when we all switched to iPhones they lost five subscribers at once.  And we're not likely to come back anytime soon :(

royal programmeOkay, well I'm off to bed, have to get up early for ... you know :)


Three things I learned when my plane crashed

Thursday,  04/28/11  09:52 PM

Please click through and watch this, you'll be happy you did...  Ric Elias: Three things I learned when my plane crashed:


  1. It all changes in an instant. 
  2. Don't waste time on things that don't matter with people who matter.
  3. Spending time with your kids is the most important thing.

I'm glad he survived so he could come back and share this!


Happy Queen's Day

Friday,  04/29/11  09:56 PM

Coat of Arms of The NetherlandsHappy Queen's Day!  No, I'm not referring to the bride of the Royal Helicopter Pilot...  I'm talking about tomorrow which is Queen's Day in the Netherlands, a national holiday in which Koningin Beatrix is celebrated. 

Did you know that the Dutch Royal family are the House of Orange?  Yes indeed William of Orange was Dutch.  And that the Dutch flag was orange until the time of Napoleon?  When the French conquered Holland they flew French flags everywhere, and when the Dutch were liberated they turned them sideways to thumb their nose at France; ever since the Dutch flag has been a sideways French flag, red white and blue, even though the official color of the country is orange!

Koningin BeatrixI'm celebrating tomorrow in typical Dutch fashion, on a bike, riding the Wildflower Century in Atascadero near Paso Robles, and yes of course I will be wearing my orange Rabobank kit.  (The Rabobank have sponsored a pro cycling team for 26 years and it is regarded as essentially the Dutch national team.)

Stay tuned for a full report, and in the meantime Long Live the [Dutch] Queen!


Wildflower Century

Saturday,  04/30/11  08:19 PM

Yay me; today I rode the Wildflower Century, my first century in six weeks, whew.  This is an "easy" century, 98 miles with just 6,500' of climbing, but today it was spiced with a chilly 15mph+ wind.  (Eichhorn's Law: every wind is a headwind.)  I finished in 6:15 riding time, not bad considering the wind, and I took it easy; tried to avoid the temptation of blasting after pacelines.  It is a beautiful ride and although there were no wildflowers this year (!) the scenery was amazing.

Some pictures:

the route: 98 miles, 6,500', and cruising through some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere

even "easy" rides have climbing, and this one was *not* easy

my bike enjoys the scenery, although where are the wildflowers?

this is the classic section of this ride, up Sea Shell Drive
not pictured, 15mph+ headwind - who ordered that?

Chardonnay basking in the sunshine :)

the final climbs through the mountains are beautiful and all the nicer for being the final climbs

happy Rabo rider - another century conquered

All in all, yay, a pretty great way to celebrate Queen's Day!


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Correlation vs. Causality
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On Blame
Try, or Try Not
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Emergent Properties
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Moving Mount Fuji
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IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
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In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
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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
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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