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Archive: August 2011

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we're back!

Wednesday,  08/03/11  08:00 AM

Well, sorry for the gap, but yes we were gone for two weeks, visiting Paris and Amsterdam, and yes we had an amazing wonderful incredible time, and yes I will tell you about it, now, but no I did not make time for blogging while traveling.  Scanning my RSS feeds I see I have much to catch up, please stay tuned.

Megan, Alexis, Shirley, and Jordan, at the famous pyramidal entrance to the Louvre

But first things first, the trip...  So we flew to Paris, me and Shirley and our daughters Jordan (24), Alexis (18), and Megan (14), and we stayed on the Rue Pont Neuf, which if you look at the map is like dead center in Paris, walking distance to everything.  I've come to believe this is crucial to visiting somewhere; you want to get out and walk and experience the place, not just see everything through windows.  (Of course in Paris you can take the Metro everywhere, easily, but most of it is underground so you don't see much until you get there.)  We did all the touristy things, visited museums (Musee d'Orsay!) and gardens and saw old buildings and churches, and also walked around a lot, and ate a lot (cheese!) and drank a lot (wine!), and had some unexpected nice experiences and [fortunately] few not-so-nice experiences.  We did manage to have luggage lost on the way out, but it was found and delivered, and if that's the worst thing that happens you can't complain.  And we did have an expected amazing experience, dinner at Guy Savoy (***), about which I'll say more below.

We managed to schedule this trip to coincide with the Tour de France - as you know, I am a mega-cycling fan, so this turned it into a sort of pilgrimage - and Shirley and I took a TGV train to Grenoble to see the Tour's time trials, before returning to watch the final stage on the Champs d'Elysee in Paris.  Yeah, that was pretty darn cool.

Tour de France champion Cadel Evans at the time trial in Grenoble; we were there

After finishing our week of touristing Paris, we took the hispeed train to Amsterdam.  We stayed in the Hotel Amrath which is a converted old office building ("the Shipping House") with amazing art deco architecture and windows and elevators and all.  Way cool.  And again, perfectly located right downtown on the harbor, walking distance to everything including the central station.  We spent a fun week doing more touristy things, walked all over the city, visited more museums (Van Gogh!) and gardens, and took in Amsterdam's weird and wonderful combination of canals, old buildings and churches, new music and sex, and people of every stripe.  Quite an experience.

We also made a day trip to my hometown of Vlaardingen (yes of course we bought nine dozen Ijzerkoekjes), and had an Indonesian Rijsttafel with my cousin Marco and his family, and saw some incredible break dancing in the street, and had a wonderful dinner on a canal boat, and ... yeah, it was cool.  The trip back was uneventful except that the train from Amsterdam to Schiphol airport took off while I was unloading our luggage, so I made an unplanned visit to Rotterdam and nearly missed the flight back.  Every bad thing that happens is a good story later :)

You can believe, I took a kazillion pictures, here's a smattering in case they are of interest, interspersed with some remarks about the trip:

the little red A is our hotel on the Rue du Pont Neuf, walking distance to everything

plotting our next move in a cafe

the scenic Seine at the center of Paris
(that tall pointy thing in the background is vaguely familiar)

my favorite view of the Notre Dame is from the back; beauty follows form follows function

classic Parisian: the beautiful Hotel de Ville with a rock concert stage setup in the square

city of lights, including a searchlight beam from the Tour Eiffel

the classic fountains at the Centre Georges Pompidou
(note the ancient church in the background)

amazing street art; the artist and the dog are real :)

The Louvre is just as amazing as you've heard; it is huge, and the building is almost as impressive and interesting as the art it displays.  We tried to visit the galleries in chronological order of the art, which was pretty interesting.

in the Louvre: miles of long corridors filled with amazing art

art about art; this piece depicts the Louvre itself
can you find this piece in the painting?

Paris to Grenoble, gateway to the alps

The TGV trains are pretty cool; no problem, you just walk on board and poof off you go at 300kph to the other side of the country.  Makes airplane travel seem primitive.  Why don't we have fast trains in the U.S.?

TGV train - 300kph in silent luxury

The great thing about cycle racing is that anyone can just walk up and watch, and be a few feet from the action.  (Try that at the Super Bowl or World Series :)  The atmosphere in Grenoble was great, one big sports party.

standing on the finishing straight of the Tour de France time trial stage

incredible!  we walk up, and stand right next to the start house

Pierre Rolland, best young rider and winner the previous day at l'Alpe d'Huez.

celebrating our Tour swag in a cafe afterward

The Paris metro is just as cool as everyone says, it's easy to figure out, and it's easy (and cheap) to go anywhere in the city.

riding on the metro...
art deco city

yes it really looks like that
view from the Trocadero

the Arc d'Triomphe punctuates the Champs d'Elysee

By tradition the Tour de France finishes on the Champs d'Elysee, the main shopping street in Paris.  It draws a *huge* crowd, and unlike the sports fans in Grenoble these are people who just want to be part of the event.  The peloton makes eight laps up and down the long boulevard, giving everyone a chance to see pro riders at 40kph.

final stage of the Tour de France, on the Champs d'Elysee
Cadel Evans looking good in yellow as
one kazillion people look on

There are cafes *everywhere*; you can't go twenty feet without finding a cool place to eat and drink.  Lots of cheese (!) and lots of red wine (!!)

dinner at the Smoking Dog (La Chien Qui Fume)

We took a number of unstructured walking tours; the streets in Paris are at weird angles, so you never know what you'll find around any corner.  I love the way the height of buildings is restricted, it gives the city center a neighborhood feel.

touring the Rive Gauche ("left bank", although its south); the awesome Palais du Luxembourg

shopping!  we visit the Bastille

Megan had her heart set on buying a dress at this particular boutique, "Baby the Stars Shine Bright"

fountains in the Place de la Concorde
(aka "where Andy throws her cellphone at the end of Devil wears Prada" :)

I must tell you it took, like, fifteen minutes to get this shot; buses kept intervening

unexpected encounter: exercise class in a plaza in front of a church, how cool is that?

The Louvre is amazing, but my favorite museum is the Musee d'Orsay, a converted train station which has some of the most amazing art, displayed in the most amazing way.

the Musee d'Orsay
(forbidden photo :)

check this out - an incredible sculpture, and a painting featuring the same figure...

Paris is home to fourteen Michelin three-star restaurants, more than any other city, and picking one for a celebratory dinner was not easy, but we choose Guy Savoy.  Wow.  The entire experience was amazing, and the food was incredible.  We choose the prix fixe menu, about fifteen courses, each tiny and wonderful in flavor and presentation.  My favorite was probably a lobster tartar cooked over a bed of dry ice; it looked and tasted like magic.  And who knew you could match a different bread with each course?  Wow.

at Guy Savoy

the second of three desert courses: cheese!
yes, that is Epoisse in the round container, and yes, I had some :)

Champs d'Elysee at night ... goodbye, Paris!

onward to Amsterdam

more hispeed train travel, Thalys from Paris to Amsterdam via Brussels

we stayed at the red A, right on the harbor, right downtown
everything seems close in Amsterdam

One of the first things you notice in Amsterdam is the bicycles, everyone rides them everywhere, and they are these big utility looking things that are designed for heavy use in bad weather.  It isn't uncommon to see businesmen in suits or girls in skirts and heels riding them, and they're leaned on and chained to every surface.  The city is setup for them too, with bike paths and racks everywhere.

the city of bicycles

Hotel Amrath, fka The Shipping House, amazing art deco architecture

the nautical-themed skylights are incredible
stained glass is everywhere

Like Paris we took a bunch of walking tours in Amsterdam, and the streets were just as haphazard; but here you have to deal with canals and bridges everywhere, and bike traffic instead of cars.

"In the Waag", a landmark in Niewmarkt with a great little cafe


the Royal Palace, built directly on the original Amstel Dam

(seen in the window of a bookshop)

canals everywhere

high fashion: Rem Koolhaas' amazing shoe store United Nude

a picture of painting a picture

break dancing on the Leidseplein: awesome street act

the flower market

city of canals, locks, and bridges

wonderful dinner on a canal boat

the dining room of the world

We took a day trip via train down to my home town of Vlaardingen, near Rotterdam.  The ostensible purpose was to show the kids my little city, but really it was to get Ijzerkoekjes, the world's greatest cookies which can only be bought here.  (Yes, we bought nine dozen.)

Vlaardingen is an ancient seaport on the Maas river

relic of a bygone era at the inner harbor

We made it back just in time to join my cousin Marco and his family for a wonderful Indonesian Rijsttafel.  In the Netherlands Indonesian food is the most common ethnic takeout, kind of like Chinese in the U.S.; Rijsttafel is a feast of many little dishes, spicy and savory and wonderful.

Rijsttafel! - yum

The Rijksmuseum is the National Museum of the Netherlands, housing amazing pieces by the Dutch Masters like Rembrandt, and nearby is a newer Van Gogh museum.  We made an excursion to both...

walking down the Niewe Speigelstraat ("new mirror street"), the art and antique district

the Rijksmuseum

at the Van Gogh museum ... wonderful
first you see it up close, and wonder at the painterly style, and then you back up and it all makes sense
how did he do that?

the Oude Kerk ("old church") in the Red Light district

visiting the Hortis Botanicus

four-foot lily pads
(who knew they could be so big?)

up close in the butterfly house

Everywhere we went Alex and Meg were served alcohol, no questions asked.  The legal drinking age is 16 in Paris and Amsterdam, but clearly they aren't too strict about it, and no babies die.  (Drinking and driving by anyone is however socially frowned on as well as a serious crime.)

Alex, Jordan, and Meg at their posts in the hotel bar

goodbye to Amsterdam; we'll miss you, and we'll be back

All in all, a wonderful trip.  And now, back to reality ... which in my case means, back to six more weeks of vacation.  I do however plan to spend it doing a bit more than sitting around reading (although I want to do a lot of that too...) - please stay tuned!



Thursday,  08/04/11  10:53 PM

she's definitely blowing already :(So ... I'm back, I've wrapped up my Tour de France reports (*sniff*, always sad when it's over), and it's time to sync up.  During the last two weeks much happened, and I won't review all of it, but there was some stuff worthy of note...

I must tell you it was most interesting to be in Europe while the whole debt "crisis" debate played out.  At that distance it seemed so ridiculous, like someone arguing with themselves about how much they would allow themselves to spend.  The problem isn't raising the debt limit, it's limiting spending.  How absurd that the congress hasn't passed a budget in over two years!  I am fully with Paul Ryan on all of this.  Any pretense I might have had that I was once a Democrat (I did vote for Al Gore) is now gone.  I just hope Obama continues to look this bad so we can get a different administration in to clean up the mess.

BTW as far as Europeans are concerned, the bloom is totally off the Obama rose.  They didn't like Bush, but they think Obama is incompetent.  Time for an American version of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Being on vacation was kind of like a dream; weird to think it was only a month ago our plans were set.  Now we're back, and it's back to reality - which in my case means six more weeks of vacation.  Excellent!  And onward...

underwater volcanoes near AntarcticaCool: Enormous underwater volcanoes discovered near Antarctica.  Just when you think we've seen it all, you realize, no we haven't :)

Huh, this could be interesting: Wolfram's computational document format.  A key to adoption will be how open the format will be.

Bertalan Mesko: Why do I like Google+ even in Medicine?  Everyone says they like Circles because it has more power than mere Friending.  I get that, but I wonder, am I really going to use them?  Feels like just one more thing to garden...

find your SPFLove this chart: Which sunblock SPF is right for you?  I think I'm somewhere between "you just want someone to rub lotion on you" and "you need suntan lotion that can double as a drink" :)

More on Apps vs the Web.  I can see the analogy to running an OS under a VM - browsers are a different environment - but this argument seems to be "what's easiest for the user", not "what's best for the company making the software".  Maybe there's a fundamental tension there.

Rabobank's cardboard officeRabobank unveils cardboard office.  How cool is that?  BTW while in Amsterdam we saw Rabobank everywhere; they are clearly "the" bank in the Netherlands now.  Don't remember that before.

Coding Horror: nobody's going to help you, and that's awesome.  "95% of self-help books are complete bullshit."  I'm surprised that 5% are not.

News you can use: allocating equity and founder's investment.  Just in case you ever decide to start a company :)

TED talk: Craig Venter on Synthetic LifeTED talk: Craig Venter on Synthetic Life.  He's an amazing guy, and this is an amazing talk.  I would like to attend TED someday, the talks you see online are about everything and incredible.

Adobe Edge: a Flash-like tool for HTML5.  Appears to be a nice GUI for a procedural programming language, but Marc Cantor points out where's the notational timeline system?  As one of the pioneers of multimedia (he co-founded Macromind, which became Macromedia, which was bought by Adobe) he should know.

Mango - is it too late for Windows Phone?Is Mango too late for Windows Phone?  Yes.  While in Europe I had a loaner HTC with Windows (my Verizon iPhone is CDMA and hence can't ride the European GSM airwaves) and while it wasn't horrible, it wasn't great.  The phone was heavy and sluggish, with a poor touchscreen, so perhaps much of my experience was bad hardware.  (I've always said if the Pre had the iPhone's hardware I wouldn't have switched.)  Anyway I think Windows has to be better than the iPhone to get traction, and it isn't.

[ Update: turns out I did not have Windows Phone 7, it was an earlier version. ]

Even though I couldn't use my iPhone as a phone, I still used it as an Internet device anywhere I could find WiFi, which was pretty much all over.  I even downloaded and installed IOS 5 beta 4 while in Amsterdam; works great.  I took a kazillion pictures and loved the new photo app enhancements.  Everywhere we went we saw iPhones and iPads and ads for Apps, the whole ecosystem has tipped.

Dilbert: disaster preparationDilbert: thoughts on disaster preparation.  Excellent!

I was wondering this myself: What happened to software engineering?  There's a nice discussion about why software is different to, say, building bridges.

Spock is not impressed :)Excellent new blog: Spock is not impressed.

IQ considered unintelligent.  Spock is not impressed, and neither am I.  It *so* bothers me that people - even intelligent people like Cory Doctorow - parrot the PC line that IQ doesn't correlate to intelligence.  Of course it does.  I might even say: "IQ considered unintelligent" considered unintelligent.

ZooBorn: Koala joeyZooBorns of the week / summer: Koala Joeys!  (awww)

Going through these updates, it occurs to me, my blog has degenerated into a mere clipping service.  True I am adding value by filtering, and maybe even by making pithy comments, but I'm not adding much original content.  Huh.


movie IQ

Friday,  08/05/11  03:16 PM

Night at the Museum - really? Dumber than dirt.Lately I've watched a bunch of movies including some new stuff and some old favorites, and I've come to realize a key element in whether I'll like a movie is the movie's target IQ.  The higher the movie's aim, the better I like it.  If I can't figure out what's going on, that's okay, but if the movie is working hard to make everything painfully obvious, that's painful.  Sometimes you have to re-watch a movie several times to get everything, and that's okay (in fact it's great, and fun) but sometimes you feel like you know what's going to happen, so why bother, and you walk out (or click Stop).

Four Weddings and a Funeral - more to see and appreciate every time.I must admit my usual genre right now is "romantic comedy", since I generally watch with Shirley, and this works against intelligence.  Many date movies are pretty horrible.  If I watched Adventure or Science Fiction I'd probably enjoy the movies more but I'd be watching them alone :)  At least we've learned to avoid Comedy altogether; how often is a "funny" movie actually funny?  Yeah, never.  They're always dumb.  I started watching "Night at the Museum" on the plane and I was astounded at the stupidity; I could not finish it.  But I re-watched "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and loved every minute.  YMMV!

[ Update: we saw Change Up tonight; not awful, not amazing, not dumb, but not smart ]


back to normal

Saturday,  08/06/11  05:21 PM

the Summit at the top of Route 50, on the way to OjaiBack to normal here, or what passes for normal during the summer; took a 75 mile ride today out to Ojai and then Channel Islands Harbor... was a beautiful day and a great ride.  I need to start increasing my mileage, getting ready for the 508.  And so now I'm on my way to read by the pool, but I have to charge my Kindle, so I figured why not blog in the meantime :)

I'm not going to comment on the S&P downgrade of US Bonds.  This is not our finest hour :(

xkcd re G+on G+, from xkcd :)

If you're suffering from cycling withdrawals from the ending of the Tour de France, like I am, than join me in looking forward to the US Pro Cycling challenge, a six-day stage race in Utah, which will have Cadel Evans, Andy and Frank Schleck, Levi Leipheimer, etc.  And it will be broadcast on Versus!  Yay.  August 22... mark your calendar...

Wow, pro cycling team HTC-Highroad has disbanded.  That sucks.  Pretty much the winningest team in cycling over the past few years, this is the team of Mark Cavendish, but also Tony Martin, and Matt Goss, and Mark Renshaw ... and Tejay Van Garderen.  Not to mention they have a great women's team too.  Well, I guess you have to have a sponsor, and they couldn't find a new one.  All those athletes will find new homes but it's still too bad.  BTW this is the old T-Mobile team of Jan Ullrich etc.

vintage Marantz amplifier (awesome!)Why your Dad's 30-year-old stereo sounds better than yours.  This really strikes a nerve for me, I *love* excellent stereo systems.  (Do not even ask about the custom system in my car, but I will tell you the subwoofer is so big we put it in the spare tire :)  The bad old days of excellent receivers and fat speaker wire and incredible huge speakers are gone, or at least fading.  Remember turning the volume knob on an old Marantz amp?  It was like a direct link to heaven.

I love Lucy!Lucille Ball has turned 100Awesome!

35% of consumers want iPhone 5, sight unseen.  Only 35%?  Is there any reason to believe it won't be excellent, given Apple's track record?  I want one too :)

El Bulli closes.  Boo.  I never had a chance to eat there :(

Not exactly tipped: Nissan Leaf sales hit 931, Chevy Volt at 125.  Electric cars are all very exciting, but people are *not* buying them.

ZooBorn: little LemurZooBorn of the day: a little Lemur.

Good advice: what to do if you hate your job.  "Here is your takeaway point: It is not the job you hate. It is your relationship to it."  Bingo.


Paywall (New Yorker, 7/25/11)

Sunday,  08/07/11  09:22 AM

excellent :)


in tandem

Monday,  08/08/11  10:29 PM

Are you sitting down?  Holding any sharp objects?  Today Shirley and I rode our tandem!  From Ventura to Ojai and back, along the Ventura River Bike Trail, 22 miles out and back.

'Mark' by Jud Fine marks the trailIt's a cool trail, perfect for this purpose, a gradual climb with changing scenery as you leave Ventura's decrepit oilfields, pass through the Ventura River wilderness, and then enter the Ojai Valley before arriving in Ojai itself.  The trail is "marked" by an eighteen-piece scuplture called Mark, by Jud Fine; each is a pedestal displaying an ancient oilfield relic, emblazened with a definition of "mark".

After reaching Ojai we celebrated with Margaritas at Las Corparales, next to the central park.

Ventura to Ojai: we made it!

A most excellent adventure, soon to be repeated :)


Wine and Fire

Monday,  08/08/11  11:06 PM

Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance: Wine and FireSometimes you find you are synchronized with the universe, and great things just happen.  This is rare so you have to make the most of it, like blogging about it :)

{ I noted  on our recent vacation we happened to be in Paris for the finale of the Tour de France.  That was pretty cool. }

So ... on the spur of the moment we decided to spend next weekend in Ballard, in the wine country north of Santa Barbara. Sea Smoke!Well it just so happens that next weekend the Santa Rita Hills Winegrowers Alliance is celebrating its 10th anniversary (!) with an all-weekend event called Wine and Fire, including a grand tasting, winemaker's dinner, and open houses at a bunch of wineries.  You may know, Santa Rita Hills is probably my favorite appellation; the "sideways" valley features the world's best Pinot Noir (sorry Burgundy) and some pretty great Chardonnay too (sorry Napa).  In addition to being beautiful and a perfect region for cycling.

So ... we not only get to do a little cycling (!), a little shopping, a little touring and a little hanging out, we get to do a lot of eating and drinking great wine!  Yay.


back to work (kinda :)

Monday,  08/08/11  11:12 PM

foreground and backgroundToday I went back to work.  Not really; I have five more weeks of vacation (!), but today I started working on a new project.  Well not really; it's not a new project, actually I've been thinking about it for about ten years, off and on.  And I didn't really start on it today, I've been thinking about it all summer, and thinking counts as work too.  But today I sat down and started putting pen to paper, and fingers to keyboard.  It felt great.  I'll tell you more about it in the days to come.

In case you're wondering, this is not Project Q.  I've wanted to work on that too - have done since April 2009 :( - but this is something else, more urgent or interesting, or something.  I'll call it Project I, since it involves imaging...

Meanwhile it's all happening, a filter pass maestro, if you please...

Encelaus rain (from geysers)Saturn weather forecast: rings, with light right from Enceladus.  Good to know.

Meanwhile: NASA readies Juno spacecraft for mission to Jupiter.  Excellent!  Now that they're done playing with space shuttles, we can give this kind of unmanned spaceflight more attention.

We saw Crazy, Stupid, Love last night.  Well when I say we saw it, I mean, we saw about 30 minutes of it; just about the time Ryan Gosling starts saying "let's get out of here" to pick up women in bars, I said "let's get out of here" to Shirley, and she agreed.  The target IQ of this movie was about 85, and it wasn't the slightest bit interesting.  I see where it gets a 75 on the Tomatometer, which is amazing.  IMHO no redeeming qualities at all.

Other recent movies: Change Up (okay, kind of stupid), Arthur 2011 (ugh!), and Arthur 1981 (still excellent!)

In Time: time has replaced money as the unit of currencyInteresting movie concept: In time.  "In the late 21st century, time has replaced money as the unit of currency. At 25 years old, aging stops and each person is given one more year to live. Unless you replenish your clock, you die."  Sounds like a return to the 15th century, except for the 'aging stops' part :)  Actually it looks good, like the filmmakers are aiming high...

A great explanation of Google+, from Ars Technica.  If your problem is fine-grained control over who sees what post, G+ is a great solution.  Since I have a public blog and make everything I post to Facebook public, this is not my problem.  Hence my reluctance to adopt.  I am tempted by the content of others, however...

Ultimaker: a low-cost 3D printerExcellent: Ultimaker, a low-cost 3D printer.  You have to believe this technology will keep on improving, to the point where we'll be able to "print" all kinds of useful objects in our homes.  More faster please.

Was .NET all a mistake?  Yes :)  The C# language is fine, and the Windows APIs are great.  But the concept of a CLR and "managed code" sucked.

The IBM PC turns 30!Meanwhile, the IBM PC just turned 30.  Wow.  I had an original IBM PC, sitting on my desk, cost like $5K.  I programmed it in Basic.  My first real program was a terminal emulator :)

The One Rule: when working on your computer, context switches are horrifically expensive.  I *so* believe this, it's the basis of The Tyranny of Email, and the corresponding Three-Hour Rule.  Knowing it's true doesn't seem to be enough to keep you from manually switching though...

Fingers crossed: Rasmussen hopes to get back to the Tour, somehow.  He was my favorite rider, back in 2006-07, and I'm *still* pulling for him to come back.  I suspect he won't be the killer climber of old - time takes its toll - but who knows.

HarborWing, buzzedCelebrating my rehabilitation of my custom Sailing Anarchy feed (sorry for the  l o n g  delay taking care of this!), here's the picture of the day: HarborWing, buzzed.  How cool is that?


back at work (sorta :)

Wednesday,  08/10/11  02:48 PM

I'm blogging from my office in Vista ... where I am visiting for the day.  No, I'm not "back" yet - have six more weeks of vacation left - but decided to go down for the day, check in with everyone, and say "hi" to my friends.  I'm happy to report the business seems to be doing just fine without me.  And that's a good thing - it means when I do go back, I can focus on new stuff without getting too caught up in the day-to-day execution.

filming a commercial at the RockstoreSo yesterday night I went riding with the CVC Red Riders - man, they kicked my butt, I have been doing a lot of miles, but not enough of them at speed - and when we reached the foot of Rockstore they were filming a Nissan commercial right at the Rockstore itself.  (In case you don't know, The Rockstore is a world-famous old motorcycle hangout, which happens to be at the bottom of a beautiful three mile climb up Mulholland Highway; the climb itself has become known as "Rockstore".)  If you see a bunch of cyclists in a Nissan commercial, look for me; I was wearing my orange Rabobank kit...

Obama: Change (please?)Parsing the Internets, I can't believe how consistently President Obama is being criticized, by his former supporters as well as longtime opponents.  The new theme seems to be that not only are his policies not working, but he isn't willing to change.  How ironic is that?

[ex-Obama supporter] Dave Winer: Who cares if the stock market crashes?  "I think Obama has been pretty close to a disaster."  Me too.

[ex-ace conservative blogger] Steven Den Beste: What does Obama want?  Short answer: to be reelected.  Longer answer same as short answer.

These riots in London are scary, particularly because there doesn't seem to be an underlying reason for them.  A bunch of people have figured out they can riot and loot and the police can't do anything about it.  Yikes!

Congratulations to Glenn Reynolds on 10 years of Instapunditry!  "I've decided to observe it by just blogging as usual."  Heh, indeed :)

Opportunity reaches crater after 3-year trekExcellent!  Mars rover reaches giant crater after 3-year trek.  What an amazing scientific payout we've had from Spirit and Opportunity - and Opportunity is still knocking...

Cycling fans take note: Mark Renshaw signs with Rabobank.  Striking out on his own, after being Mark Cavendish' leadout man at HTC-Highroad, I wish him well!

John Taylor, world's fastest guitar playerThis is awesome, you must check it out: The world's fastest guitar player.  Flight of the bumblebee at 600bpm.  You can barely hear the notes - wouldn't call this my favorite rendition - but it is impressive.

So: Facebook gets into texting game with Facebook messenger.  Kind of like Apple getting into it with iMessage, but different.  I guess everyone can see messaging is a killer app, but this is a massive network effect; hard from anyone - even Facebook or Apple - to compete.  Facebook is outwardly compatible with SMS, but still, I predict general yawning.

new Zeppelin rolls off the "assembly line" :)A most excellent photo essay: Where Zeppelins are born.  I don't know if they make economic sense as vehicles, but they're photogenic!

So be it ... back to work for me :)


cloud Kindle

Thursday,  08/11/11  07:44 PM

Amazon have released a new Kindle reader ... for the cloud.  Written to use HTML5, it provides a complete Kindle reader application entirely in a browser, supporting Chrome, Safari, and [of course] IOS' Safari.  (Not Firefox yet - HTML5 incompatibility?)  Presumably it supports the Android's browser too; not sure.  The experience is amazing because it's exactly what you expect:

But there are some interesting wrinkles.  First, because it's a web app, it can be updated infinitely without your involvement.  As of 8/11/11, it doesn't support highlighting, but if Amazon adds that tomorrow, we'll all have that capability without doing anything.  Second, it has *all* of your books available, all the time.  There's no interplay between "books on the device" and "books in the archive"; they're one and the same.  And third, you get the same user experience on every device; some would argue that's not a plus, but to me - someone with a PC laptop, four Macs, an iPad, a Palm Pre, a Motorola Droid, and an iPhone - it's a big plus.

Most cool of all; it can store books offline.  I'm not sure how this works - have to dig into this further - but if you're reading a book and you get on an airplane, lose your cell signal, or otherwise go offline, you can keep reading.  That's a pretty interesting feature for a web app, and one we may see replicated on other sites soon.

BTW a common online take is that this is Amazon's response to the new Apple App rules, wherein an App cannot link to a website (and hence, Kindle readers cannot just click over to the Amazon store).  I think that's a pleasant coincidence, and Amazon have been working on this capability for a long time.  I suspect they want to get out of a world where they have a separate client App for every platform.


world population map

Thursday,  08/11/11  11:14 PM

As part of their "global 500" report Fortune magazine published this excellent map of the world, with the size of each country proportional to its population:

world by population (click to enbiggen)

I love this map; it shows just how small the U.S. is compared to the world (that's us in green rectangle at the upper left), and the comparatively huge populations of China and India, and the basically equal sizes of Brazil, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Indonesia.  You read these numbers but nothing like a diagram to bring them home.  I will refer to this often.


long lazy weekend

Monday,  08/15/11  11:35 AM

Spinning back up to speed from a long lazy weekend ... we went up to Ballard, did [more than] a little cycling (!), and [more than] a little eating and drinking, and [more than] a little hanging out, reading, and relaxing.  It was great to go riding together through the vineyards, so beautiful and relaxing, with the little towns as destinations.

It was great and I'm sorry it's over...  some pictures in case they are of interest:

long late lunch at Pierre Lafond in Santa Barbara

the Lompoc "Wine Ghetto", home of some of the world's greatest Pinot Noir
(just adjacent to Santa Rita Hills :)

Chardonnay (I think) basking in the sun

Shirley on a bike (yay!) passing some amazing lavender

at Panino in Los Olivos; 10 miles down, 15 to go

Alamo Pintado ... on the road again

double Chocolate Mint Chip - let the record show, I didn't spill any on my shirt

Solvang - a bit touristy but fun nonetheless

not all Ballard properties are well maintained :)

Santa Rita Hills: Fiddlehead Vineyard in the foreground, Sea Smoke in the distance

at the Santa Rita Hills Fire and Wine Grand Tasting

Lower Rose Lake - perfect for cheese, Finocchiona, and Sea Smoke

Sigh, a long lazy weekend ... but not long enough!


month two

Monday,  08/15/11  05:27 PM

It has been two months since I started my extended vacation, with one left.  Whew!  The time had seemed to pass so slowly, all the way up to and through our most excellent trip to Europe.  But the two weeks since have flown by...  good thing we just had a long lazy weekend, I needed it :)

wine not! - at least for a couple of months...I decided this morning its time to get *serious* about training for the Furnace Creek 508.  I have two months to prepare, and must use them wisely.  Riding every day, cross training by working out, eating properly, and sleeping, punctuated with some longer rides when I can...  and I am going to stop drinking entirely.  Tough to do, but I think I can make it.  That Sea Smoke we had yesterday will be my last bottle until I finish the 508 - and then I can have another to celebrate!

Onward, let's see what the world was up to over the weekend, shall we?

Getting a clue: UK Prime Minister David Cameron: 'This is not about poverty, it's about culture'.  So true, but who would have thought to hear that said out loud?

Powerline: Death throes of the welfare state.  Indeed.

Elsewhere: Dutch not so hot on multiculturism these days.  Nor the French either; this was lightly apparent in both Paris and Amsterdam when we visited this summer.

Meanwhile, back in the US: Government pays for empty flights to rural airports.  Sigh.

Rutherford atomic modelCool: the Rutherford model of the atom is 100 years old.  And the Bohr model was proposed just four years later, and proved to be largely correct.  1915 was a banner year for physics :)

Awesome: Dark matter may be an illusion caused by the quantum vacuum.  In addition to deploying some of the coolest buzzwords in science, it makes sense; dark matter always had that "and then magic happens" feel to it.

[ Update: jwz comments: "Dark matter may be an illusion caused by gravitational polarization of the quantum vacuum." - there's nothing about this sentence that isn't awesome ]

Mobius: an optical illusion public interactive sculptureMan is this cool: Mobius, an optical illusion interactive public sculpture.  Click through to see the time-lapse movies; people move the pieces around to create the illusion of motion.

Huh, Google bought Motorola's phone business.  Must be for the patents.  This cannot make sense any other way.  Might be good for Google, but I suggest, bad for Android.  Certainly it is good for the tech punditry who are having a field day in the blogosphere.

Meanwhile: Jean-Louis Gassee thinks Apple should buy T-Mobile :)

orangutan playing with iPadOrangutans love playing with their iPads.  I predict this picture will be repeated ... a lot :)

What do you think?  Why Apple is done inventing new devices.  I grant that they've created an incredible new ecosystem, but I'm not sure there are no new devices to create.  Who would have thought the iPad would be so successful?

Saw this: Apple looking to get rid of printer drivers.  I don't blame them, printer drivers are the bane of everyone's existence.  When WiFi printers came along I thought we might be rid of drivers, but I was wrong.  In the future, everyone will send email to a printer, and it will just print the attachments, no questions asked.  That future is hopefully close.

movie clichesExcellent: horrible movies cliches.  All of them are great; example: in the movies, computer geeks: a) hack into the alien mother ship's system, b) crack the CIA security password in only two attempts, c) fix the office printer.

James Lileks thinks Diesel's "Stupid" ad campaign is, well, stupid:  "Remember: it’s not wise to buy jeans that cost $285. It’s stupid. And they're admitting as much. For that, I'll give them credit."  It is pretty typical of today's ad ethic to imply you're smart for being stupid.

the invisible man - paints himself to hide in plain sightThe invisible man paints himself to hide in plain sight.  Wow.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought...

Do you Yelp?  I have been using it more and more, and finding it more and more useful.  It's one of those network effect things, the more other people use it, the more valuable it has become for me.  Almost the first thing I do now to find something is "Yelp" for it, depending on what "it" is, I might even do that before Googling...


343 balloons

Monday,  08/15/11  10:36 PM

This is pretty cool (or should I say, pretty hot?): 343 hot air balloons lauched at once.  Wow.  Certainly makes for some amazing pictures.



Rocky the Squirrel, on Facebook

Wednesday,  08/17/11  12:31 PM

Rocky the Squirrel rides the 508 (in 2009)Hey y'all ... a couple months ago I reported Rocky the Squirrel (aka me) was again riding in the Furnace Creek 508 (aka "the toughest 48 hours in sport").

In case you're interested, I just created a Facebook Page for the  Rocky the Squirrel team.  Please Like this page to show your support and to get updates on my training program, my crew, and our progress!  And if you'd like, please Follow us on Twitter as Squirrel508.

I hope to give ongoing reports during the race itself (October 9-12), I understand there's a lot more cell coverage along the route now than there was in 2009.

That's me at right, riding the 508 in 2009, about 100 miles in when I was still smiling.

In terms of preparation, I'm pretty far ahead of where I was in 2009; I have 2/3 of my crew set (fellow endurance riders Mitch Albo and Gene Smith), and I'm riding every day, including incorporating some long rides like the Cool Breeze 200K this weekend, and the Son of Death Ride a week later.  Now I just have to get my mental state where it needs to be (!); that was my downfall last time.  Onward!


Wednesday,  08/17/11  10:07 PM

Wine Not, continued... so I was telling a friend that I've gotten serious about training for the 508, and told her I've given up drinking wine (!), am just trying to take care of myself, eating, sleeping, riding, working out...  and she said "wait a minute, sleeping?" and I just had to laugh.  Yeah, I'm actually sleeping [more]...

I have found a truly marvelous proof of this theorm, which this mouseover message is too small to contain :)One of Google's better logos, celebrating Pierre Fermat's birthday; showing a rendition of Fermat's Last Theorem.  You know the story; he noted it in a book, writing "I have found a truly marvelous proof of this theorem, which this margin is too small to contain".  Of course his proof was never found, and despite huge efforts on the part of many mathematicians a proof was only found recently, in 1995 by Andrew Wiles.  While accepted, Wiles' proof is quite complicated and requires over 100 pages, which may explain why Fermat couldn't fit it into a margin :)

Doorbell ... "oh hi, I wasn't talking to you" :)Powerline's People's Choice award goes too ... Doorbell.  Pretty powerful, we are definitely mortgaging the future.

I enjoyed this quite a lot: It's the Economy, Dummkopf!  A nice treatise on European economies and Germany in particular, from the always-enjoyable Michael Lewis.  You can see that the situation in Greece and the impending situation in Spain are going to cause big time friction in the Euro world.  It's like Germany has to cosign for Greece.

Meanwhile: downgrade for US, but not for France.  "S&P was saying that the United States is a bigger credit risk than France."  Well that's Change all right :(

Disney World Tiki RoomWow, the Disney World Tiki Room is back!  Who knew?

Can I just say, that Twitter's recent change to convert all URLs to use their shorteners is bogus?  I can?  Whew.  Of course they want to capture the clickstreams but it's an icky change.  Twitter is going to fail, mark my words.

This feels like another kind of thing I find bogus, when a service deliberately cripples themselves to nudge users into premium upgrades.  An example is HotFile, which introduces delays and slows download traffic if you use the site without upgrading.  I get that they have a right to make money - so does Twitter - but it just feels ... icky.  Better to find a true premium feature for which you can charge than to artificially degrade service.

Firefox 6 has arrived, and I am using it.  I must say, no apparent change over Firefox 5.  (Here's Mozilla's list of the changes.)  I get that they're trying to show momentum, but this was not a major upgrade, more like a 5.1.  Blech.

This could be big: Skype launches WiFi finder for IOS.  Sure wish I could have used this while in Europe, maybe I wouldn't have needed anything but my [Verizon] iPhone.  There's WiFi everywhere, but figuring out how to connect is nontrivial.  The situation cries out for a "roaming" solution.

ZooBorn: a Potoroo joeyZooBorn of the day: a Potoroo joey.  What ... you never heard of a Potoroo before?  Well that's why you read my blog :)

You might be a geek if you like this: a side-by-side comparison of PHP, Perl, Python, and Ruby.  I like this.


goodbye, webOS

Thursday,  08/18/11  10:12 PM

HP's original garageKinda hard to avoid today's big tech news, HP are selling their PC business and sunsetting webOS, including their Pre phones and TouchPad tablets.  Wow.  Didn't see that coming - at least, not yet.  The theory seems to be that tablets are taking a big chunk out of the PC market, and HP couldn't compete, so they're getting out.  Aka, they're giving up on becoming Apple, and want to become IBM.  Wow.

MG Siegler was also surprised, and thinks Facebook should buy webOS.  Hmmm...  Nah.  His summary: HP to Apple, you win.

I loved my Pre phone, and thought webOS was great.  I will say that every webOS device seemed sluggish - even the newest ones - so perhaps there was an underlying performance issue which HP couldn't get past...  performance matters, one of the reasons the iPhone and iPad are so successful.  Neither Palm nor HP were able to get much developer enthusiasm going for building webOS Apps, so that was a problem too; we are living in a world where IOS is Coke and Android is Pepsi, and everything else is ... something else.  Sorry RIM.  Sorry Windows Phone.  And ... sorry webOS.

HP TouchPad 1.5MHz 64MB ... and now ... gone!There are a kazillion articles and blog posts and everything out there, reporting is mixed with editorializing and speculation, have fun sorting it all out.  I found it ironic that early in the day Wired featured the birth of HP today (Aug 18, 1947), Engaget posted about a new 64GB TouchPad, and PreCentral was excited about a new TouchPad with 1.5MHz processor.

John Gruber's takeaway was The Tablet Effect; we are living in a post PC world now, and HP doesn't want to be the leader in a dying market.  Huh.

So be it!  Onward... at least as a developer there is one less platform to worry about.  As Joe Hewitt Tweeted: "my hard work ignoring webOS has finally paid off".


Thursday,  08/18/11  10:30 PM

Day four of my focused training for the 508 race; did a nice 60 mile ride this morning with friends, I'm getting into the groove.  Eating, riding, working out, sleeping (!), staying focused.  And having fun :)  Cool.

If you haven't Liked Rocky the Squirrel on Facebook yet, please do :)

Occipital's 360 Panorama iPhone AppThis looks way cool: Occipital's Panorama 360 iPhone App.  Will try it.  BTW this is a great video, crisp and gets right into it, and totally explains why you want to do what they want you to do.

Is Groupon a financial train wreck waiting to happen?  Yes.

I have to say, while there is undoubtedly a tech bubble brewing (among investors, rather than consumers), a lot of today's high flyers are "real"; they have revenue and profits.  Groupon is, in which people buy dollars for 75 cents.  Yeah you get a lot of revenue that way.

Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell on the triviality of politicsLove this from Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, on the triviality of politics...

Did you know?  The next ISS mission will be launched by SpaceX on November 30.  No more shuttles.  Yay.

Outfitting the next Mars Rover

Meanwhile: Outfitting the next Mars Rover.  Excellent.

I continue to be amazed that any time I read an article about something I know about, it's wrong.  Not just slightly off, but incredibly incorrect.  Which makes you realize that first order, everything you read is wrong.  That could include this post :)



Cool Breezin

Saturday,  08/20/11  08:57 PM

Rode the Cool Breeze Double Metric today, wow, did I feel horrible. Got off to a good start riding with my fellow CVCers, but was dropped after less than 20M and struggled after that, fighting an upset stomach, saddle sores, hotfoot, and a general unwillingness to ride. Blech. Today was a bad day, tomorrow will be better.

Just a few pics...

Ventura River bike path, early in the ride, when I could still smile

CVC paceline powering through Ojai

the Ventura River burbles along...



Saturday,  08/20/11  09:04 PM

my original KindleWeekend!  Filter pass!  Yay!

I have been seriously enjoying reading on my Kindle.  No, not my Kindle 2, which I use all the time, my Kindle 1, which I lost and replaced.  There is a beautiful asymmetrical weirdness to this device which is quite compelling.  I'm rereading the Hornblowers, if you must know :)

Hitler finds out HP killed WebOSHitler finds out HP killed WebOS.  One of the better Downfall mixups ever, amid heavy competition.

So ... I complain about MSDN magazine quite a lot but there were a couple of articles in the most recent edition which were quite good; an introduction to HTML5, first of a useful series, and an overview of particle swarm optimization, an interesting iterative technique for finding approximate solutions to multi-dimensional optimization problems.  Nice.  So, I'll keep reading :)

AC45s showcase high tech sailboat technologyCool to see this coverage so mainstream, in Wired: America's Cup racers push sailboats to their limits.  "The next America's Cup will 'meet the expectations of the Facebook generation, not the Flintstone generation.'"  That's great, but my favorite AC of all time was the old 12 meters off Freemantle.  That was racing.

Bolero Flashmob in Copenhagen Central StationA Flash Mob at Copenhagen Central Station plays Bolero.  Cool!  Via ESR, who says it is a Flash at the heart of the West.


we're Lions!

Monday,  08/22/11  09:34 PM

LMU Lions!Yesterday afternoon we attended a nice send-off reception for incoming LMU students and their parents at California Yacht Club.  The kids were embarrassed, and the parents were proud, and some nice speeches were given by LMU administrators.  We are now, officially, LMU Lions, and once a Lion always a Lion.  We are starting to accumulate LMU paraphernalia; mugs, shirts, etc.; I have already received a nice compliment on the "LMU Parent" sticker I mounted on the back window of my car :)

Alex is moving out this week ... sniff.  Stand by for periodic Lion-related chest beating...


Monday Monday

Monday,  08/22/11  10:48 PM

the magnificant Alhambra in Grenada, SpainAnother Monday, and now three weeks of vacation left ... what shall I do with them?  Perhaps I shall ... blog ...

I had a most interesting product discussion this afternoon with some old friends and new ones who are starting a business; the early days of a new project are always so cool.  Many great ideas, everyone respectful and contributing, a clean focus on what it will take to succeed.  Of course there's a long road ahead for them ...  

What I *love* about the Internet: A post on a blog about Bed and Breakfasts in the beautiful city of Grenada, Spain, mentions *me*, because I posted about riding the Alta de Monachil climb outside of Grenada when I was there in 2006 to see the Vuelta de Espana. Five years ago, one little post on my little blog, and yet he found it and linked me! I love it.

Above right is pictured the Alhambra, a magnificent Moorish fortress built in the 14th century, one of the many reasons to visit Grenada.

John Gruber has a simple explanation for why HP abandoned Palm and is getting out of the PC business.  They switched CEOs.

Stirling Engine kitThese are awesome: gorgeous machined Stirling engine kits.  I want one!  (and ... I want to make one :)

As electric cars become reality, the important question is: where will we plug in?  The article thinks 'at home' is the right answer, but that's not where we get gas today...  I think Better Place and their battery swapping idea might work.

Huh: why rounded corners are easier on the eyes.  They're definitely "harder" to make, but I agree they cause you to focus inside the box instead of outside.  Most interesting...

chimp feeds tiger cubAwesome animal picture of the day year: a two-year old chimp feeds a 60-day old tiger cub.  Awww...



Wednesday,  08/24/11  10:34 PM

Last night we were powerless - for about nine hours, from about 8:00PM to 4:30AM - and this afternoon we were again from about 1:30 to 3:30.  Boo hoo, right? 

Well, I now know that we have eight timers in the house and yard, and five electric clocks and one alarm system, all of which must be reset, not to mention my three servers which despite having a UPS which protects them for 30 minutes always seem to need some kind of weird resetting after a power failure.  Even as I write some of my domains still have messed up DNS.  I sure hope they stop playing with our street.


power pass

Wednesday,  08/24/11  11:03 PM

beat to quarters!A nice day, got caught up on a number of things, took a great ride, and am enjoying re-reading the Hornblower series by C.S.Forrester (I'm on Beat to Quarters, the first written but the fifth in the series).  And now that the power's back up, a filter pass seems indicated...  here we go :)

ObaminationSo I'm reading a leader in the latest New Yorker entitled How Bad Is It, by John Cassidy, and I encounter this: "What sort of policies might make a real dent in unemployment? Providing subsidies to businesses that hire new workers is one. Extending extra tax cuts to firms that build new factories and offices is another. More radical ideas include investing in infrastructure projects, importing a version of the job-sharing scheme that Germany has used, and launching a national community-service program."  Amazing.  This is the Obamination in a nutshell; the only ideas for creating jobs involve spending government money.  No mention at all of the government getting out of the way of business, decreasing regulation, reducing taxes, and allowing value to be created.  And yet that's the only thing that's going to work.

I find the illustration which accompanies the leader ironically apt; it shows President Obama standing next to an idle gear cage, wrench in hand.  Your caption here :)

The usually solid James Surowieki doubles down in The Business of Austerity.  Sigh.

Max apropos: How to motivate people: Skip the bonus and give them a real project.  Exactly.

time spent using TupperwareFrom the Oatmeal: Time spent using Tupperware.  I love it :)

On 50lb bicycles and the lockability thereof.  "All bikes weigh 50lbs.  A twenty pound bike requires a thirty pound lock.  A fifty pound bike doesn't need a lock."

Richard Dawkins: Attention Governor Perry, Evolution is a Fact.  And ignoring facts is not a leading indicator of a good leader :(

LinkedIn iPhone App rocksI've been using the new LinkedIn iPhone App and loving it.  They made it simpler and more useful all at the same time.  I am actually going into it more often now to see "what's happening", much like I do Facebook.  Amazing how important the iPhone App interface is for a company these days, almost as important as their website UI.

This is *so* true!  Twitter is like ICQ.  Exactly.  Great call.

MG Siegler: A Perfect Circle: 'Friends'.  Why Facebook's privacy changes make it easier and better.  Personally I don't post anything to Facebook I don't consider "public", but I agree that "friends" and "public" are the two categories that matter.  This is why G+'s Circles feature hasn't excited me; I just don't need finer grained control.

Don't you hate it when you go to a site which you haven't visited in a while, and you can't remember your username and/or password?  Sucks, doesn't it?  Here are some suggestions for all websites which require registration:

  • Use an email address as the username.  Easy to remember and unambiguous.
  • If for some weird reason you need a username aside from an email address, tell users the username rules (minimum length, etc.), it will make it easier for them to figure out what username they chose.
  • Tell users the password rules (capital letter, digits, minimum length, etc.)  Users use the same passwords everywhere, depending on the rules.
  • Finally, let users enter more than one password guess at a time.  I only ever use one of a handful of passwords.  If I can guess them all at once, it would save time.

goodbye, Steve!I can't add anything to all the chatter about Steve Jobs resigning as CEO of Apple.  He's been amazing, but I suspect Apple will continue on just fine without him at the helm.  I sure wish him well.

[ Update: Scoble has a nice take ]


happy 18th, Alex!

Wednesday,  08/24/11  11:18 PM

Alexis turns 18, and shows off the octadecahedral birthday cardTonight we celebrated Alexis' 18th birthday (!) in style, at our favorite restaurant Tuscany.  We had a great dinner - I broke my "wine not" training rule for the night, so we could enjoy an '04 Tignanello - and a great time.  Alex is moving out Friday (sniff) to attend LMU, so it's definitely quite a transition.  And in about half an our she'll be an adult ... wow.  Anyway she'll always be my baby girl :)

The highlight for me was making an octadecahedral birthday card :) that's Alex at right, holding the result, and you can see the print template below.

This octadecahedron is not a regular polyhedron, despite being composed of 18 equilateral triangles.  Imagine an equilateral pyramid, and now stick two of them together; you have a hexahedron, but it isn't quite regular (two of the vertices are more acute than the other three).  And now if you replace each of the six triangular sides with an equilateral pyramid, you get an octadecahedron.


Alex at LMU

Friday,  08/26/11  08:14 PM

Alex' new home at LMUWell, she's off!  We moved Alex into her dorm at LMU this afternoon.  It was one of those sad/happy things.  The school is great, her dorm is great, the people are friendly and amazing, and I think she's going to have a wonderful freshman year.  But we're going to miss her!


son of death ride-r

Sunday,  08/28/11  03:06 PM

Yesterday I rode the Son of Death Ride, "the toughtest one-day ride in American", and man, it was tough.  138 miles, 17,500' of climbing, and ... 109 degrees.  The motto of the ride is "that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and I'm not dead so I must be really strong :)  Actually I am still in recovery, so we'll see.  The ride took me 13:54 and it seemed like all of that was uphill, with a lot of it in first gear, barely ticking over the pedals.

Anyway I survived - yay me! - and here are some pictures in case they are of interest:

the route: 138 miles, 17,500' of climbing
there's a huge climb up Nine Mile Canyon to start,
then many miles of rollers at 8,000',
then a deep descent to the Kern River,
before turning around and climbing to Sherman Pass (!),
blasting along the plateau,
and finally a wild descent back down Nine Mile Canyon

Nine Mile Canyon, here I come

long shadows in the early morning

looking back down, lots of climbing already but lots more to come

beautiful meadows

rollers through the pines along Kern plateau

so far so good

over 8,000' all the way

still smiling after 53 miles, time to descend

awesome views into the Kern River Valley

the Kern River!  halfway point
(click to enbiggen)

taking a cool break although it is 109 here (!)

onward, back up to Sherman Pass

the view back down - wow, I've come a long way

yay, the top (9,200') after 15 miles and 3 hours of climbing at 7-10%

back through the rollers

view down Nine Mile Canyon as dusk falls

yay!  made it in 13:54
I am pretty proud of myself

This seems like one of those things where you do it once, to say you've done it; not sure I want to do it again.  But maybe by next week I'll be looking forward to it :)


crack! but iPhone lives

Sunday,  08/28/11  03:21 PM

iPhone lives!Friday morning I was riding on a flat road, daydreaming (I guess), suddenly realized I was about to run over my friend, slammed on my brakes, swerved, and boom! went tumbling along the road.  I was fine (well, a sore butt and some scratches) and my bike was fine, but I landed on my iPhone.  Crack!

What's weird is that yeah, the glass is all cracked, but the iPhone lives! everything still works including the touchscreen including along the cracked edge.  Pretty amazing.  I used the phone all day yesterday on my ride, the camera was fine.

I'm going to have to replace the glass, but how amazing is it that the phone still works?


long weekend ...

Sunday,  08/28/11  07:15 PM

long weekend ...Another pleasant long weekend; started Wednesday night actually, with Alex' birthday, and Friday we moved her to LMU, and yesterday I rode the Son of Death Ride, and today ... I did very little :)  blogged and read and worked on a design document (!) and blogged a little more...

I guess this is the end of summer, huh?  End of August, kids back in school, etc.  Well it has been 100+ here and since I'm still on vacation, it's still summer to me.  It will all be over soon enough.

Not only has Steve Jobs retired from Apple, but Rob Malda aka CmdrTaco has left Slashdot!  Wow.  Slashdot is a legend, and *still* one of the first feeds I check every day.  Among other things they pioneered the voting system in which readers decide which articles are most interesting.

smartphone 1991I love this picture of a "smartphone" circa 1991...  so, what do you think phones will look like in 2021?

My own guess: we're going to see phones integrated into glasses, with built in cameras and heads' up displays.  Data entry will be via ... um ... not sure.  Maybe a separate "keyboard"?

So what do you think, will the iPhone 5 work on every network?  That would certainly be helpful, we could switch networks at will, and roam freely.  I for one would welcome this.  My current iPhone from Verizon doesn't roam in Europe, and while Verizon's customer service is great, their cell service at my house is spotty.

this cannot be donePlease inform her that what she is doing cannot be done.  Incredible.  You must click through to see this...

ZooBorn: Masked Meerkat pupZooBorn of the weekend: a Masked Meerkat pup.


one byte mistake

Sunday,  08/28/11  07:46 PM

I don't always null-terminate my strings...An article in ACM by Poul-Henning Kemp claims the decision to null-terminate strings is the most expensive one-byte mistake.  Not even.

Null-terminating strings was a great design decision, especially compared to the alternative of preceeding each string by a length.  First, a length "byte" would be just as prone to being corrupted as a null terminator, maybe more so.  Second, who's to say one byte is enough?  255 characters isn't very many, and if you need more than one byte, how many more?  Always two?  Always four?  If it's variable, how do you know?  Big endian or little?  Or both?  Third, how do you handle variable-length strings which grow - do you reallocate the whole string to make the length byte bigger?  The problems go on and on.

As the author notes, C has mostly be replaced by ${lang}, and in ${lang} you have string objects which encapsulate the byte arrays anyway.

The real most expensive one-byte mistake was using backslashes as path delimiters in DOS, which is even mentioned in this article.


US Pro Cycling Challenge, redux

Sunday,  08/28/11  08:02 PM

I've been watching the US Pro Cycling Challenge in Colorado this week, like all of you cycling fans (you know who you are), and it has been a most satisfying experience.  First, we had a world class field for a US stage race, including Cadel Evans, Andy and Frank Schleck, Ivan Basso, etc., as well as the cream of US cycling like Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriske, etc.  Second, the racing took place in *real* mountains - one stage had two passes over 12,000 feet! - and featured amazing scenery and cute towns to rival anything in Europe.  And third, there was some great cycle racing, with the final top five separated by less than a minute.  Oh yeah, and fourth, we had Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin on hand to commentate for Versus daily coverage.  Excellent.

Patrick Gretsch wins USPCC prologueThe first stage was a short prologue just outside Colorado Springs, a downhill sprint won by HTC's Patrick Gretsch.  It was too short to create meaningful time gaps, but it did provide entertainment.

peloton on USPCC stage 1Stage one was interesting, with a long uphill finish in Crested Butte.  Levi Leipheimer outsprinted the world-class field to take the stage and the overall lead.  Impressive, he was clearly acclimated to the altitude after recently winning the Tour of Utah.  Frank Schleck was third, and Cadel Evans fourth, followed by Christian Vande Velde.  Also up there was Tejay Van Garderen.

George Hincapie wins USPCC stage two, outsprinting a breakawayNext up was the "queen stage", finishing in Aspen, and George Hincapie outsprinted the rest of a breakaway to win!  Tejay Van Garderen took over the lead, with George second and Tom Danielson third.  What a feel-good story this was, huh?  Levi lost time on the final descent and dropped to fourth.  It was great mountain racing.

Levi Leipheimer powers to win the ITT in USPCC stage 3Vail hosted stage three, an individual time trial straight up Ten Mile Road.  The pros took around half an hour to ride ten miles, so you know there was climbing involved :)  Levi Leipheimer won by less than a second over Christian Vande Velde to retake the overall lead.

Elia Viviani wins a field sprint to take stage 4 of the USPCCStage four was the first "sprint" stage, mostly downhill into Steamboat Springs, and Liquigas lead out Elia Viviani perfectly for the win.  The GC was unchanged in a relatively undramatic race.

a quality break: Basso, Schleck, Peterson, and Ten Dam, but all for naughtBreckenridge saw the most interesting stage of the whole race, with a serious breakaway comprising Andy Schleck, Ivan Basso, Lawrence Ten Dam, and Tom Peterson clear by four minutes with eight miles to go.  One measly cat 3 climb was left.  Everyone thought someone in the break would win, and there would be attacks back in the Peloton as Garmin tried to get Vande Velde and/or Danielson time on Leipheimer.  So Schleck attacked the break, was pulled back, the break played with themselves, and were caught less than half a mile from the finish.  Viviani ended up outsprinting the field to win, and Schleck, Basso, and Van Dam were left to wonder what might have been, while Levi's lead looked safe.

final podium of the USPCC, Tejay Van Garderen (3rd), Levi Leipheimer (1st), and Christian Vande Velde (2nd)In the final stage into Denver, another field sprint, Daniel Oss won, and Levi was crowned with the GC title.  It's pretty cool that with Vande Velde second, Van Garderen third, Danielson fourth, and Hincapie fifth US riders took the entire top five, despite all the foreign heavyweights who came over to race.  Should be great next year and for many to come!


virtual Snow Leopard

Monday,  08/29/11  08:40 PM

Today I interrupted my usual aimless day (cycling, reading, blogging) for a random sideline activity; I installed Mac OS X 10.6 aka Snow Leopard under VMware on my [Windows] laptop.  Works great.

I have downloaded and installed Xcode 3.2.6 and am in the process of installing IOS SDK 4.3.  When this is done I will have a development environment for building native IOS Apps.  How cool is that?

So far I haven't had any problems, and in fact this is quite a nice fast Mac, running on my HP EliteBook with its Core2 Duo P8600 @ 2.4GHz and 8GB of RAM.  As I've noted before Win 7 x64 makes a great host for VMware :)

BTW kudos and thanks to iHackintosh for the instructions and prasys for the VMDK which made this easy.


Objective Sea

Tuesday,  08/30/11  10:13 PM

Objective SeaHi y'all ... are you wrapping up your summer?  Almost the end of August, kids are back in school, heat abating a bit, sun a little lower in the sky ... all the signs are there.  Still I'm hanging on, I have two weeks left in my summer-long vacation, and I'm going to make the most of them :)

One thing I'm doing is having fun playing with Objective C.  This is the language used to program iPhones and iPads, a superset of the C language which implements objects in the "sending messages" way pioneered by Smalltalk, instead of the "calling methods" way used by C++.  There have been some stormy waters to navigate; I've had to learn Xcode, Apple's development environment, and IOS, the underlying operating system, and figure out the whole test environment.  Yippee.

fetal neuronsFrom TheScientist: The heritability of intelligence.  "A new study of thousands of people in Europe quantifies the genetic underpinnings of intelligence, finding that some 50 percent of smarts stems from genes."  What's amazing about this study isn't the conclusion, which doesn't surprise anyone, but the fact it was performed and reported like any other study, without all the weird politics that always seem to accompany serious scientific investigations into intelligence.  Yay.

I great insight: The only question about Tim Cook: Will he be as good as Steve at saying "no"?  Of course it isn't just a matter of saying "no" all the time, it's a matter of knowing when...

Square transaction volume mapSquare goes mainstream.  Man, I'm sure hearing a lot about them ... must be a lot of people who wanted to accept debit/credit cards and couldn't.  For 2.7%, now anyone can...  That cool map at right shows the geographic distribution of Square's transaction volume.

Levi Leipheimer leads the peloton in the US Pro Cycling ChallengeA great interview with Levi Leipheimer in the wake of his impressive US Pro Cycling Challenge victory.  What a nice guy, he really does it right.  And there has never been any hint that he's doped, either...

Horace Dediu analyzes the television market.  "The answer is not to graft technology onto an archaic value network, but to build a new value network around new technology."  Exactly.

Facebook shuts down Groupon competitor.  Yawn.  Of course they did; Groupon is losing tons of money every month, they don't have a real business, while Facebook does.  Why would anyone compete with Groupon?

Win 8 Explorer previewMG Siegler comments on Microsoft's preview of Explorer for Windows 8.  You have to click through to see the preview in all its glory.  A UI disaster.  BTW the ribbon thing just doesn't work, right?  Nobody I know thinks Office 2007 was an improvement over Office 2003.

Flow|state: Infinitely postponing great feature suggestions is one of the toughest tasks in UX design.  Doesn't look like Microsoft took this to heart :)

Scott Adams: When Liberals attack.  Note that Scott is far from a conservative, he's trying to make an unbiased assessment of media bias.  We've lived with this so long that we've become inured to it, but honestly the MSM are way over the edge.

A thought experiment: What if Obama were Governor of Texas?  "Both Obama and Perry inherited an economy from George W. Bush, but here’s what happened in each case."  I don't want to like Rick Perry but this is the most compelling argument yet I've heard in his favor.

100 years of East London fashion, in 100 secondsThis is just awesome: 100 years of East London fashion, in 100 seconds.  The dancing and music are perfect.  What a great production.  You have to be struck at how cool some of those old fashions were, too :)

Fuzzball!Today I met a friend's two-week old kitten and the little fuzzball stole my heart.  We're definitely going to give him ZooBorn of the week :)


fault lines

Wednesday,  08/31/11  11:03 PM


when you're more worried about fixing the blame than fixing the problems

(from the most excellent Michael Ramirez, via Powerline)



garbage collection

Wednesday,  08/31/11  11:15 PM

a pretty nice collection :)Wow what a day ... you wake up, you lie in bed, you think your day will go a certain way, and then ... it doesn't!  Wow.  Quite an amazing collection of things happened... capped by another wipeout, my second in a week, this time mountain bike riding.  I'm okay but this is a bad habit.  Anyway here's a collection of things which are happening...

Solyndra files chapter 11 after $1B in investment.  You and I invested over $500M via the US Department of Energy. So much for "green" jobs, huh?  Another failed Obama initiative, although to be fair many others were riding this bandwagon.

Chevy Chase gives the Francisco Franco updateDave Winer:  Francisco Franco.  Is still dead.

A godsend for those of us saddled with supporting IE8 seemingly forever: Lockdown-evading Chrome Frame exits beta.  I have no idea how this works, but mean to find out :)

I find Mark Frauenfelder to be the weirdest and least reliable Boing Boing contributor, but his recommendation of Ready Player One seems legit.  Maybe I'll try it, cool new SF is always fun.

Horace Dediu makes an excellent point about the iPad, it isn't ready to be disrupted from below - yet - because it isn't good enough yet.  Will be most interesting to see how this plays out.

airplane boarding, analyzedCritical research: how to speed up plane boarding.  "Even random boarding is faster than the back-to-front method the airlines currently use."  I so believe this!  (Check out this detailed analysis on different methods, and which are used by which airlines.)

ZooBorn: Oncilla cubZooBorn of the day: an Oncilla cub.  (Oncillas are small cats similar to Ocelots)

Clive Thompson on the art of public thinking.  Aka, blogging :)


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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