Archive: March 2014

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Iditarod: day zero

Saturday,  03/01/14  11:03 PM

Today was day zero of the Iditarod, the Ceremonial start of the 1,000-mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome in Alaska.  Today each of the sixty-nine mushers start with only twelve dogs in their teams, down from the sixteen they'll use in the "real" race, and they ride twelve miles through downtown Anchorage in a little parade, two minutes apart.  Each of the mushers towed a sled with a passenger, an "IditaRider", who has a one-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of the race.  Tomorrow the real race starts with the "restart" in Willow, on the North side of Anchorage.


Everything is in readiness but there is a big problem with this year's Iditarod: not enough snow.  This January was one of the warmest in Alaskan history, and as a result the trails are wet and slushy and even dirty.  That's not great for sledding of course.  In addition to the trail conditions, warm weather isn't great for the dogs; they do their best work when its cold and their bodies don't overheat from the exertion.  (The typical sled dog burns over 10,000 calories a day while racing.)  And if the weather now gets colder it will result in ice, which is also not greta for sledding.  Doesn't seem like the mushers are too excited about the conditions, nor the dogs...


If you're planning to follow the race, there is of course the Iditarod offical website, which has up to the minute standings, and the Anchorage Daily News, which has great coverage including an Iditablog.  There is as always speculation about the favorites; a lot of people are picking Norwegian Robert Sorlie, a two time winner who is back this year after a four year absence, or Aliy Zirkle, who's finished second twice including last year.  (There are three Norwegian teams this year, all strong contenders, and a fair number of women are competing, including of course my favorite DeeDee Jonrowe, who has finished second twice.)  Other favorites include Mitch Seavey, last year's winner (and oldest ever), and his son Dallas Seavey, 2012 campion (and youngest ever).  Dallas' brother Dan is also in the race this year.

One thing to be aware of is that in the early days of this eight-day race the fastest teams may be going the slowest; "go slow to arrive fast" is an Iditarod truism.  The best way to see which teams are going to win is to watch the dogs eat, and if you can't do that you have to scan the blogs and Twitter.  Onward to the restart, and Go Deedee!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Saturday,  03/01/14  11:40 PM

It's Oscar pre-night, did you know?  Yep, tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 the red carpet show begins, and the Academy Awards themselves start at 5:00...  get your Tivos ready.  I plan to be sailing in the rain :(


picked to win

my favorite


Twelve Years a Slave

Dallas Buyer's Club


Alfonso Cuarón

Alfonso Cuarón


Christian Bale

Matthew McConaughey


Cate Blanchett

Sandra Bullock

Warmed up for the Oscars by renting Quartet on the AppleTV, a beautiful little movie directed by Dustin Hoffman.  Highly recommended.  I'm starting to think all my favorite movies are the ones without special effects... 

Women want their partners to be as smart as they are, men want to be slightly smarter than their partners.  And both are likely to be disappointed :) 

Who holds the seven keys to the Internet?  And one ring to bind them... 

The next frontier in software tech?  Cars.  Which is why Apple and Google are all over them.  What OS will your next car be running? 

We know now that Tesla's forthcoming Model E will have a 200 mile range, be 20% smaller than the Model S, and will cost about $35,000.  But what OS will it run?  (Tesla's Model S currently runs a Linux distro.) 

Yes, I am missing Sochi already.  Not so much the city, but the Olympics ... without cross country skiing to watch, life just doesn't seem as fun?  Seriously it has been a tough week, with Ukraine poised for civil war and the Russians invading the Crimea; was sure nice to set all that aside and pretend that bobsled racing was our only problem. 

Happy 10th birthday, Engadget!  Man I can't believe it.  (Still remember when Peter Rojas left Gizmodo to start it.)  My first reaction is, wow, I've been blogging for a long time now... :) 


Iditarod 2014

Saturday,  03/01/14  11:48 PM

For you Iditarod fans out there, here's an index of my 2014 Iditarod posts:

02/28/14 10:51 PM -

ready, set, Iditarod

03/01/14 11:03 PM -

Iditarod: day zero

03/02/14 11:44 PM -

Iditarod day one - and they're off!

03/04/14 12:26 AM -

Iditarod day 2 - fast start over dirt

03/04/14 11:15 PM -

Iditarod day 3 - three ways to win

03/05/14 10:45 PM -

Iditarod day 4 - leaders race while resters rest

03/06/14 10:44 PM -

Iditarod day 5 - to the Yukon, Jack!

03/07/14 10:32 PM -

Iditarod day 6 - onward to Unalakleet

03/08/14 08:52 AM -

Iditarod day 7 - AM - Aliy takes the lead

03/08/14 11:51 PM -

Iditarod day 7 - PM - Leaders off across Norton Sound

03/09/14 09:57 AM -

Iditarod day 8 - AM - Zirkle, King, Buser, Lindner, and the Seaveys

03/09/14 07:48 PM -

Iditarod day 8 - PM - Jeff King takes the lead in Kayuk

03/10/14 10:04 AM -

Iditarod day 9 - AM - King into White Mountain, heading for Nome

03/10/14 08:04 PM -

Iditarod day 9 - PM - final push into Nome to crown the King

03/11/14 12:28 AM -

Iditarod day 10 - Zirkle passes King into Safety first!

03/11/14 01:48 AM -

Iditarod day 10 - King scratches (!), Aliy holed up, Seaveys closing in

03/11/14 02:41 AM -

Iditarod day 10 - Seavey in and out of Safety, Zirkle gives chase

03/11/14 05:15 AM -

Iditarod day 10 - Dallas Seavey wins!, Aliy Zirkle a close second

03/11/14 10:00 PM -

Iditarod wrap



Iditarod day one - and they're off!

Sunday,  03/02/14  11:44 PM

And they're off!  Today was the "restart" of the 2014 Iditarod, in Willow, Alaska, wherein the real race across Alaska begins.  The weather is cold but clear, raising the possibility of icy conditions on the hard and rocky trail which hasn't seen nearly enough snow.

As always at this stage of the race there is much discussion between mushers about "strategy"; how hard to run your team early, when to rest, and when to take the mandatory 24-hour break and 8-hour break.  The book move is to go relatively easy until Takotna, which is nominally the halfway point, take a 24-hour break there, then go hard the rest of the way, taking an 8-hour break somewhere along the Yukon river.  But some are saying with these hard conditions a faster early push may pay dividends.

Another interesting subject for discussion is that some mushers are using sleds with a "caboose", a dog cabin at the back which can hold one or two dogs which are not running.  Each team starts with 16 dogs, and there is a lot of strategy about when to "drop" dogs (they are left in the care of vets at checkpoints).  When a dog gets tired or just isn't feeling it they might get dropped, but with a caboose they can be carried along for a while before rejoining the team to run with it.  This sounds like a good innovation.  Another factor is that near the end of the race a larger team takes longer to feed and water.  Sometimes having just eight fresh and eager dogs for the final sprint is the way to go.

(The map at right shows the Northern Route, used in even years; please click to enbiggen)

Stay tuned... (and Go DeeDee!)

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Oscars revisited

Monday,  03/03/14  11:46 AM

Revisiting the Oscars, which I watched almost all the way through from red carpet to picture of the year ... it was a bit boring but on the whole not bad, as such things go.  I thought Ellen DeGeneres did a nice job as host, although some of the "common" touches like ordering pizza and taking selfies kinda didn't fit.  I mean, these are movie stars, right?  They don't behave like we do, or maybe they do but we don't think of them as doing so.

I am as always disgusted with the fake political correctness of Hollywood; it's almost like they're insecure, or something.  How predictable that Twelve Years a Slave would win best picture.  Maybe it was a great movie - I haven't seen it - but it wasn't chosen because it was great, it was chosen because we all have to feel bad about slavery and good about the people who survived it, even after all this time.  Blech.  I would have liked to see Gravity win - let's celebrate an astronaut's battle against space - or Dallas Buyer's Club - let's celebrate an HIV victim's battle against the FDA.  But what do I know?

My award for best dress goes to Charlieze Theron - wow - with Jennifer Garner as runner up - double wow.  The red carpet features some amazingly beautiful women, so you would think it would be hard to make them look bad, but most stars' dresses seemed designed to prove it was possible.

My favorite moment: U2, performing Ordinary Love.  Awesome.  Worst moment, Ellen's failed joke at Liza Minelli's expense.  Awkward.

BTW if you missed the six hours of broadcast you can always watch the two-minute summary.  It seems to capture the essence if somewhat missing the Gravity of the event :)


Iditarod day 2 - fast start over dirt

Tuesday,  03/04/14  12:26 AM

The Iditarod is off to a fast start ... over dirt.  The race begins with a climb over the Alaska Range, passing through the villages of Yenta, Skwentna, and Finger Lake before climbing the ridge to Rainy Pass, and then descending the Northern side into Rohn.  As the picture at right shows this was a tough slog for dogs, sleds, and people, will little snow and lots of rocks, gravel, and ice.

Martin Buser is in the lead; he's clearly duplicating his 2013 strategy of blasting off to a fast start, taking his 24 early, and then letting attrition and exhaustion take its toll as he rolls through the pack.

Onward ... tomorrow will be an interesting day!  (And as always, Go DeeDee!) 

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)



I, Glasshole

Tuesday,  03/04/14  10:48 PM

Yesterday I took possession of my very own Google Glass, while attending the 2014 US and Canadian Association of Pathologists conference in San Diego.  I wore it for the second half of the day, before I had even charged the battery :) and found it was an amazing conversation starter; everyone wanted to know "is that a Glass" or "wow how do you like it?"  (and even, "how do people react when you're wearing it?" :).

I charged the battery overnight and this morning had a chance to play with it a bit, and so far I like it a lot. 

Some early observations:

  • The out of the box experience is great.
  • Hardware fit and finish is beautiful, Apple-like in quality.  Looks better in person than in pictures.
  • The display is easily readable, and doesn't intrude into your field of view unless you want it.
  • The touch strip on the side of the Glass is a good way to interact.  After a bit of practice seems quite easy.
  • Voice recognition is good although I haven't pushed it.  "Ok, Glass" is always recognized for me (this is the prefix to tell Glass to expect a command), and "take picture" or "record video" seem to work well.
  • Glass is a lousy Bluetooth headset.  At least so far.  I have not been using the optional in-ear speaker/microphone which I'm told works a lot better.  Must try it although that makes the whole thing a bit more intrusive to wear.
  • Pairing with my iPhone was seamless.  At that point the Glass can use the iPhone's cell connection for Internet access.  Otherwise you have to connect to a WiFi network which is painful unless you're at home or in your office.
  • The software is kind of basic at this point, there isn't too much you can do.  I've just started exploring.  Longer term there will be Apps for various specific functions making it a lot more useful.
  • I can't wait to develop something for it!  A great reason to dive into Android development.  (The Glass is a "vanilla" Android device, albeit one with a slightly weird form factor.)
  • Yes, of course we are building an eyesFinder App :)

Right now the question isn't "why do you have one?", it's more "what would I like it to do?"  Stay tuned!


Tuesday,  03/04/14  10:57 PM

The Ole filter makes a pass...

A Collection of Murmurations of Starlings, via Kottke.  Wow. 

Equations are art in a mathematicians brain.  Really!  (Maybe they look like Murmurations :)  

Benedict Evans on WhatsApp and $19B, and really on mobile vs desktop.  Key observation: the winner-take-all lock in of social on the desktop hasn't yet extended to mobile. 

Speaking of WhatsApp, people are trying to figure out what happened there.  Of course, it's a one-time event, and hard to replicate.  But I don't think the founders thought "we should create something with a big network effect, so we can make lots of money".  Instead they were focused on creating something useful for lots of people, and it happened to be something with a network effect, so they happened to make a lot of money. 

Here we have the strange thing that is the longest aircraft in the world.  It's an airship, of course, and amazingly it is based at Cardington in the UK, where the famous R101 was built.  The article is misinformed because it refers to the R101 as "ill-fated" and twice as long as this machine.  It is of course referring to the R100, which did indeed crash in France; that crash killed interest in the R101, which flew successfully to Canada and had a lot of promise as a cross-continental means of transportation in that pre-jet era.  Anyway I wish the makers of the Airlander well! 

Thor's Well, at Cape Perpetua, in Oregon.  Awesome!



Iditarod day 3 - three ways to win

Tuesday,  03/04/14  11:15 PM

Day three of the 2014 Iditarod is in the books, and three clear strategies have emerged among the race leaders striving to get their dog teams to Nome, first.  Remember that each team must take a 24-hour break somewhere along the trail, and an 8-hour break.  (There is a forced 8-hour break for everyone in the town of White Mountain at the end, 80 miles from Nome.)

Strategy 1: rest early.  (Nikolai)  This is the course chosen by Martin Buser; blast off out of Willow, run full speed over the Alaska range, and then rest.  Most of the race will pass you, but then you can blast off again and pass them back.

Buser tried this last year, but he got bogged down breaking trail in rough conditions.  (The first musher through an area is said to "break" the trail, and it often requires finding it, and finding the best way through it, which takes extra time.)

Strategy 2: rest middle.  (Takotna or Ohfir)  This is the book move, and the course taken by favorites Aliy Zirkle, Robert Sorlie, and Dallas and Mitch Seavey.  You save strength, rest your team while you can, and then take the long rest roughly halfway to Nome.  Then you press on at a faster pace and hope your team outperforms the others.

The people with the strongest teams seem to be taking this approach.  No tricks, no going too fast or too long.  But it also means they could be vulnerable to a different strategy in the hard and fast (and dry and icy) conditions this year.

Strategy 3: rest late.  (Cripple)  This it a bit unconventional but it has been tried; run as long as you can as steadily as you can, keep moving while others are resting, and then finally rest when you must.  Favorites Sonny Lindner, Aaron Burmeister, and Jeff King are all taking this approach.

Observers have noted that run times this year have been fast, even with the tough conditions, making the rest late approach less risky.  Of course these teams might not have enough left at the end, and be vulnerable in the long smooth stretches after the Yukon River.

Finally and sadly, our favorite DeeDee Jonrowe has scratched, after a tough run down into Rohn from Rainy Pass.  DeeDee lost her team three times in the Dalzell Gorge, and needed help retrieving them.  So far twenty mushers have scratched, a record for this point in the race and testament to the tough conditions this year due to lack of snow.

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 4 - leaders race while resters rest

Wednesday,  03/05/14  10:45 PM

Day four of the Iditarod ... and it's getting hard to follow the leaders. 

There's a pack of leaders heading out of Ohfir, led by Jeff King and Sonny Lindner (at 64, the oldest musher in the face), and another pack of would-be leaders resting in Takotna, including favorites Aliy Zirkle and Robert Sorlie.  And then there's Martin Buser, who is way behind on the trail but moving again out of Rohn after having taken his 24-hour break already.  On paper he's now the one to beat, as he'll keep moving while the others rest, but only time will tell whether he'll be caught back before the finish by fresher teams.

Tomorrow will be interesting, as the teams in Takotna hit the trail again, and we can start to see how much fresher / faster they are than Buser, who will be ahead of them.  And the day after we'll see the same with Jeff King and Sonny Lindner.  At that point everyone will have taken their break, and it will be head-to-head racing... except for the 8-hour break everyone has to take along the Yukon River :)

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Wednesday,  03/05/14  11:08 PM

(Yawn)  Whew a long day, starting with a breakfast presentation to investors and finishing with a nice Chardonnay, with a four-hour meeting about JSON APIs in between.  Meanwhile, it's all happening...

So, who is the reclusive billionaire creator of Bitcoin?  Turns out he's apparently been found, his name *is* Satoshi Nakamoto, and he's not a billionaire, except perhaps "on paper".  Excellent. 

Meanwhile, Ars Technica have created Arscoin, their own custom cybercurrency, and the Winklevii have paid for a trip into space using Bitcoin.  Is this a great time to be alive, or what?

NASA says it wants to go to Jupiter's crazy moon, Europa.  No word yet on whether you can hitch a ride if you pay in Bitcoin, but nothing would surprise me anymore :) 

Don't you love Salon?  Just kidding.  Over the years they've gone from being an interesting source of liberal points of view to a sad shadow of their former selves.  I find the difference is that now their writers are ill-informed and stupid, where before they were just ... wrong :) 

Speaking of wrong: Los Angeles becomes the latest city to ban e-cigarettes.  Seriously?  I live in a nanny state, and I don't like it. 

From GigaOm: Lit Motors is awesome, but let's be realistic.  In which a new entrant in the electric vehicle market is celebrated and counted out all at the same time.  Obviously there's a steep ramp to success and many have failed, but let's root for them and not predestine their failure.  They will have to raise a little more than $1M to succeed, however... 

Inhabitat: Mind-blowing photographs of Earth taken from space.  Way cool.



Iditarod day 5 - to the Yukon, Jack!

Thursday,  03/06/14  10:44 PM

The 2014 Iditarod moves into the halfway point, with the leaders all having "taken their 24s" and moving to the Yukon River.  Every musher is required to take another 8-hour stop along the Yukon somewhere, in a checkpoint, so that vets can examine their team closely.

The current leader on the trail is Jeff King, closely followed by Sonny Lindner; they are both camped out in Ruby, taking their 24-hour break there.  (That's Jeff at right, celebrating the nice dinner he received for being the first musher to the Yukon.)  These are ones using the "rest late" strategy. 

But the real leader is Martin Buser, who is heading into Ruby with a full head of steam, having taken his 24 long ago.  He's using the "rest early" strategy.  And a few hours behind Martin are a whole host of other competitors, led by Aliy Zirkle and Robert Sorlie, who have also taken their 24s back in Takotna (the "rest middle" strategy).  And don't forget Mitch and Dallas Seavey, father and son champions in 2012 and 2013, close behind.  That's Mitch and team at left.

Some of these mushers will take their "8" in Ruby, others in Galena a bit further down the Yukon, and others yet in Nulato.  Most observers think Buser will take his 8 in Ruby, and Zirkle in Galena; King and Lindner, having just completed their 24s, will probably take their 8 as far down the river as possible, probably in Kaltag.  Sorlie is an unknown and he isn't saying, even in his native Norwegian.

Right now it is possible to see things a bit more clearly head-to-head.  Buser could win if his team holds up; he has the lead, but history shows that a lot of ground can be lost in the second half if your team gets tired.  Zirkle and Sorlie are proven favorites, as are King and Lindner.  And Aaron Burmeister could get into the mix also; he's up there right now, but hasn't yet done his 24.  It's all about the dogs!  (That's Allen Moore's team of puppies at right, he's Aliy Zircle's husband.)

Onward down the Yukon!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 6 - onward to Unalakleet

Friday,  03/07/14  10:32 PM

Today the leaders in the 2014 Iditarod mushed along the Yukon in -20F weather, slight wind but otherwise "nice".  Each team's strategy has played out, and now the pack are all together for the final third of the race and the push into Nome.


Martin Buser and Aliy Zirkle are running one two, in the small checkpoint city of Nulato, with Kaltag to go and then Unalakleet at the Bering Sea.  They're closely followed by Nicolas Petit (where did he come from?) and Jeff King. 

I'm thinking Buser will lead for a while, but Zirkle is going to pass him.  And then the question will be, can she hold on or will she win her first Iditarod (after having finished second in each of the past two years!)


A whole host of challengers is not far behind, including Mitch and Dallas Seavey, Sonny Lindner, Aaron Burmeister, and Robert Sorlie.  Any one of those teams could win.  It now comes down to exhaustion and patience.  There is still a long way to go...

Onward to Unalakleet!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Friday,  03/07/14  11:02 PM

Re-watched Silver Linings Playbook tonight.  Great movie.  A nice way to end what was otherwise a disappointing and unproductive day...

Pictured: Scorpion Weed.  Grows in the desert once every few years.  Smells terrible and causes skin rash, but looks beautiful :)

Reading "the news", I'm struck by how much news has morphed into opinions about the news.  It's no longer considered wrong for writers, editors, and especially headline writers to slant stories.  They've always done it, but now they're doing it without guilt or restraint.  Meh. 

It's hard work filtering the news, I tell you, it's hard work :)

Pass the popcorn: Dorian (Satori) Nakamoto chased by reporters, denies founding Bitcoin.  And "real" Satori Nakamoto claims he is not Dorian Nakamoto.  Yay.  Meanwhile, from the Bitcoin Foundation: Bitcoin has no leader, is decentralized by design.  Who would have thought a new currency would make such great theater?  (Okay, Neal Stephenson did :) 

BTW must say, Newsweek's return to prominence based on this scoop is typical, right?  They didn't get their facts right, but they made "news".

Never mind personal drones: For sale on eBay: one lightly used Soviet "bear" bomber.  Wonder if the seller would accept Bitcoin? 

Must try this: the Google Glass App that tells you how others are feeling.  Based on realtime analysis of a video stream.  Hmmm. 

Chef Watson prepares food at SXSW.  Awesome.  I don't know what real-world applications IBM has wound for Watson, but as a PR generator it is unsurpassed.  Wonder what's next? 

If this is real, I want one: Two college students invented an adapter that allows 3D printers to print in full color.  A 3D printer like my MakerBot 2 prints pre-colored plastic filament; the idea is that the plastic is colored in realtime, just before it is fed into the printer.  By appropriately compensating for the distance between the coloring device and the printhead, you could print anything in full color.  Wow. 

This is wild: the magical chain fountain.  One of those things where you understand the physics but you still can't believe it ... like sailboats and airplanes.  I love that it can even be done with spaghetti :)



Iditarod day 7 - AM - Aliy takes the lead

Saturday,  03/08/14  08:52 AM

Good morning all; while you were sleeping Aliy Zirkle has taken the lead in the 2014 Iditarod, mushing past Martin Buser while he rested in Kaltag.  They are now headed toward Unalakleet, and as you can see below it is a close race.

To orient you, the teams are headed West (<-) toward Norton Sound on the Bering Sea; the finishing town of Nome is behind the leaderboard at the upper left.  The blue labels are checkpoints; UNA = Unalakleet, KAL = Kaltag, and NUL = Nulato.  #10 is Aliy Zirkle, now in the lead, followed by #36 Martin Buser, #29 Nicholas Petit (!), and #14 Dallas Seavey.  A team's tag turns Orange when they are not moving; resting in a checkpoint.

I've been following the Iditarod for several years now and I must tell you, this is the most exciting race I've seen.  There are ten teams within a few hours of each other with 300 miles to go.  Onward!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 7 - PM - Leaders off across Norton Sound

Saturday,  03/08/14  11:51 PM

The 2014 Iditarod continues its record-breaking fast pace over hardpack and dirt, as the leaders are now through Unalakleet and off across Norton Sound to Shaktoolik.  Each team rested for a while in the heat of the afternoon, and of course there's some strategy involved; leave earlier and save time or leave later and go faster.  Aliy Zirkle was the first to go, with Martin Buser 52 minutes behind, and Sonny Lindner 1:20 behind.  Jeff King took off fourth, trailing by 2:50, and Aaron Burmeister fifth, needing 3:40.  Those are the teams that can win, with about 300 miles to go.

At right, Aliy Zirkle and team (11 dogs)


A lot will depend on the how rested each team are after their long trek between Kaltag and Unalakleet.  Interesting that the lead group includes Martin Buser ("rest early"), Aliy Zirkle ("rest middle"), and Sonny Lindner and Jeff King ("rest late"), and that after seven days they are all within a few hours of each other.  There's a lot of racing left and it will be a close finish.

At Left, Martin Buser and team (14 dogs)

Veteran musher Sebastian Schnulle isn't racing this year, he's blogging while leapfrogging the leaders via snowmobile, and he's been posting some great reports.  Here's his view on the trail to Shaktoolik.  "The trail into Shaktoolik is challenging. Leaving Unalakleet there is very little snow, sometimes none, sometimes a ribbon of ice."  Whew.

At right, Sonny Lindner and team (14 dogs)

Onward across Norton Sound!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)



Iditarod day 8 - AM - Zirkle, King, Buser, Lindner, and the Seaveys

Sunday,  03/09/14  09:57 AM

Good morning Iditarodians (or is it Iditarotarians?) - and it is a *late* morning, with daylight savings time.  Yawn.  While we were sleeping and springing our clocks forward, the leaders in the 2014 Iditarod race were mushing across Norton Sound from Unalakleet to Skatoolnik. 

First out of Ska was Aliy Zirkle, still in the lead, but now Jeff King has moved up to second, passing Martin Buser, with Sonny Lindner still up there.  (That's King's team pulling into Skatoolnik, at right.)  And now both Dallas and Mitch Seavey, son and father, champions in 2012 and 2013, have moved up into the mix.  Last night I thought there were five teams left who could win, now I'd have to say there are seven, as Aaron Burmeister is up there too.

Here's the position, with Skatoolnik hidden under the orange #70 tag (Sonny Lindner, not yet moving) and Koyuk at the top of the Norton Sound, now solidly iced in; #10 is Zirkle, #17 King, and #36 Buser.

The racing is incredibly close; Zirkle has only 6 miles on King, and 9 on Buser.  The top seven are within 12 miles of each other.  Ultimately this isn't going to be decided by who moves faster across the ice on Norton Sound, it will be the fatigue of the teams and how much rest they'll need when they reach Koyuk.  From there it is still over 150 miles to Nome.  Most likely the teams will rest for a while in the heat of the afternoon, then take off late afternoon for a final push to White Mountain, where they have to take an 8-hour rest.

Onward to Nome!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 8 - PM - Jeff King takes the lead in Kayuk

Sunday,  03/09/14  07:48 PM

A long cold windy day, with the lead mushers and their teams crossing an unusually barren and snow-free Norton Sound (the race route is actually 12 miles longer because it runs further inland than unusual, to avoid ice fissures).  Jeff King caught Aliy Zirkle at the Kayuk checkpoint, and now the two of them are off to Elim, with King slightly ahead.  Just behind are Martin Buser, Dallas Seavey, and Sonny Lindner, all resting in Kayuk, and Mitch Seavey and Aaron Burmeister are about to join them.  Dallas has put in some terrific runs, gaining nearly 10 hours on the leaders since Kaltag.  The experienced musher/bloggers at are thinking his team might have the chops to win.


Here's the current position, with Elim (ELM) to the West, where the teams are headed, and Kayuk (KYK) to the NorthEast.  You can see there's quite a spread now, the big selection has been made.  Zirkle (#10) and King (under #10) in the lead, and the others close behind resting at the Kaltag checkpoint:

The so-called "heat of the afternoon" never materialized, and it is likely that the leading teams will press on through Elim on to White Mountain, where they must take a mandatory 8-hour break.  After that it is 80 miles to Nome.  Most years the first into White Mountain is the first into Nome, but this year there are so many contenders so close together that the final stretch may well decide the whole race.  Onward!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Sunday,  03/09/14  10:34 PM

The Ole Filter makes a pass, after a quiet weekend of coding...

(Lamu Island looks like a nice place for coding, too :)

I've been experimenting with updating the firmware on my MakerBot Replicator 2, to make it easier (and more accurate) to change filament mid-print (and thereby change color).  There isn't a lot of documentation so it isn't easy, but it's possible, and that's what makes this so cool. 

The print at left is tiny - about 20mm x 10mm - and has exact color changes on layer transitions.  Progress...

Open source pioneer Eric Raymond contemplates the myth of the fall.  "A lot of younger hackers have a simplified and somewhat mythologized view of how our culture evolved, one which tends to back-project today’s conditions onto the past... In particular, many of us never knew – or are in the process of forgetting – how dependent we used to be on proprietary software."  Indeed. 

So have you / are you planning to watch Cosmos?  I'm not a TV watcher - at all - but I was intrigued by this series after reading a glowing New Yorker article about Neil deGrasse Tyson, the new emcee.  I like that they're continuing in the spirit of the old series a la Carl Sagan, but at the same time doing things in an updated way.  Sounds like they're off to a good start:  I wish them well; there are so few channels to expose the man on the street to the majesty of science. 

BTW it sucks that President Obama had to get into this act.  Just because Tyson is black, I suppose.  Blech.

Here's something Obama could worry about: the Demise of the American Dream.  Check out that "welfare cliff"; a single Mom is better off earning $29,000 than $69,000.  And you and I pay the difference.  

Related: James Suroweiki examines the Mobility Myth.  People incentivized by their government not to work harder are not going to be upwardly mobile.  Another unintended consequence of bad policy. 

Where Apple design is headed in 2014.  "iOS 7 is a series of solvable problems. The things you could label as deficiencies are mostly a result of that swinging pendulum - an overcorrection of skeuomorphism."  I agree but I wish the pendulum would swing back as soon as possible. 

This is not a frame from a science fiction movie.  "It's an actual image from the successful Morpheus vehicle test completed today at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility."  Awesome!  Check out the video at the link, too...



working from home (NY 3/3/14)

Sunday,  03/09/14  10:57 PM

( me too :)


Iditarod day 9 - AM - King into White Mountain, heading for Nome

Monday,  03/10/14  10:04 AM

Day nine of the 2014 Iditarod, and it looks to be the finishing day as 5-10 leaders are on pace to smash John Baker's 2011 record by nearly eight hours.  Jeff King pulled into the White Mountain checkpoint at 7:00AM this morning, starting his mandatory eight-hour layover.  When he pulls out at 3:00PM this afternoon he'll have 77 miles until Nome, and that should take him less than nine hours, so he's likely going to finish *today*.  Wow.  Aliy Zirkle came into White Mountain an hour behind, and unless she can find some new speed in the final stretch she's going to finish second for the third year in a row.

That's Aliy Zirkle (red) and Jeff King (green) leaving Elim together

Meanwhile Dallas Seavey has found a new gear and is charging, but it might be too little too late.  He's now just three hours behind, but he's running out of track.  His father Mitch Seavey is also closing, now in fourth, with Martin Buser and Sonny Lindner fading.  That whole group are ahead of Baker's record pace, which shows how the conditions have been bad but fast.

Left: frozen tundra, cold and hard and dirty


Here's the GPS tracker's view this morning:

King and Zirkle are both stopped in White Mountain (orange #17), with the checkpoint of Safety and the finish line in Nome left to go.  Dallas Seavey (#14) is almost there too, but it will be first in first out with an eight-hour break for all teams.  Still mushing from Elim to White Mountain are Mitch Seavey (#6), Martin Buser (#36), and Sonny Lindner (#70), with Joar Leifseth Ulsom charging into that pack (#47).  Onward to Nome!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 9 - PM - final push into Nome to crown the King

Monday,  03/10/14  08:04 PM

The leading teams are in the final stretch of the 2014 Iditarod, heading for Nome.  Jeff King has widened his lead over Aliy Zirkle a bit - it is now 9 miles, with about 50 left to go - and they look to finish one two.  Jeff has already won this race four times and will join a select group of five-time winners (nobody has won six).  And Aliy is going to finish second for the third straight year, behind a different team each time.  That's got to be tough.

Reminds me of listening to DeeDee Jonrowe speak, a few years ago; someone asked her "what does it take to win the Iditarod" and she said "if I knew that I wouldn't have finished second twice" :)

Dallas Seavey is running a solid third but although he's closing on Zirkle he still needs 13 miles, and it doesn't look like he'll catch her.  Shown at left are the three leading teams, resting in White Mountain, King, Zirkle, and Seavey.  In fourth is Dallas' father Mitch, the defending champion (Dallas won the previous year in 2012); that's Mitch's team above right, on the way into White Mountain.

A recent post by experienced musher and blogger Sebastian Schneulle about the final stretch from Golovin to White Mountain is a great overview of the conditions, and is accompanied by great pictures of the leading teams.  Sebastian has been following the race all week via snowmachine, leapfrogging the leaders, and he's given us all great insight.  Knowing the intricacies of what it takes to get a team of sled dogs through 1,000 miles of back country makes the accomplishment seem all the more impressive.  Here's his latest: Safety update.

Here's the current GPS tracker map, showing King (#17), Zirkle (#10), and Seavey (#14) all heading to Safety, the last checkpoint, and then on to Nome:

It looks like the race will finish right around midnight tonight, and the King will be crowned :)  I'll check back in with a final post just after...  onward!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 10 - Zirkle passes King into Safety first!

Tuesday,  03/11/14  12:28 AM

Wow!  Just when everyone thought Jeff King was headed to another Iditarod win, he's run into some kind of trouble outside the Safety checkpoint - word is there are high winds over the glare ice, making visibility difficult - and has been passed by Aliy Zirkle!

That's Aliy and team on the right...

The GPS tracker seems to show that both Aliy and Jeff have stopped, perhaps seeking shelter in the wind.  Dallas Seavey is in third and still moving, catching up fast.  This thing is not over yet...


Here's a picture Sebastian Schnulle posted of his snowmachine in the whiteout conditions outside Safety.  Perhaps Jeff King lost the trail?

They three leaders are 11 miles apart with about 20 miles 'till the finish, and anything could happen...  stay tuned!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)



Iditarod day 10 - King scratches (!), Aliy holed up, Seaveys closing in

Tuesday,  03/11/14  01:48 AM

Sad news; erstwhile race winner Jeff King has scratched from the 2014 Iditarod.  Apparently his team was blown off the trail into some driftwood, and while he was able to gather the team together they holed up in the drift for 2 1/2 hours, and he finally decided to get help from a snowmachine to take him to Safety - the checkpoint which is only a few miles in front of him.  Shows you how strong the winds are and how crappy the conditions have become.

The cool shot at right shows Jeff King's team just ahead of Aliy Zirkle's, as they left White Mountain...

Meanwhile Aliy Zirkle is now the leader, holed up in the Safety checkpoint and waiting out the wind.  Dallas Seavey is now second, just two miles from Safety, and his father Mitch is third another 14 miles back.  It will be interesting to see what Zirkle does when Seavey gets to the checkpoint, and whether Seavey will stop or continue on.  The conditions ahead into Nome are reportedly terrible with strong winds, glare ice, and a poorly marked trail.  No less authority than Joe Runyon, an ex-champion and now blogger, says the race should shut down for safety reasons.

The pic at left is Cape Nome in the howling winds.

It's going to be an interesting finish ... wow.  Maybe everyone stays holed up in Safety for a while, and then there's a mass sprint finish.  Please stay tuned!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 10 - Seavey in and out of Safety, Zirkle gives chase

Tuesday,  03/11/14  02:41 AM

So Dallas Seavey reached Safety (the checkpoint), checked in, and left again three minutes later, leaving Aliy Zirkle there waiting for the wind to abate.  Could he win again (he won in 2012) with Zirkle second?  Will his father Mitch reach safety in time to catch Zirkle too?  (Right now it looks like Mitch is resting his team along the trail.)  And the big question, can Dallas reach Nome in these conditions?  Stay tuned...

Oh wait a minute.  Just as I was clicking Post, it looks like Aliy is now on the move also, about two miles behind.  Excellent.  Let's see how it all ends!

Update 3:05: Aliy has 10 dogs left, moving at 7.9mph, Dallas mushing with just 7 at 7.4mph.  About two miles apart with about 18 miles to go...

Update 3:18: Still neck and neck. I don't understand why Aliy didn't leave directly after Dallas, if she was not going to wait.  She's moving faster but only a little, and the gap is essentially the time she waited before following...

Update 3:33: Zirkle definitely closing in.  Could be that she has three more dogs, could be that she's reaping the benefits of that 2 1/2 hour rest in Safety (Seavey was there for three minutes).  Or maybe her leader wants it more :)  Here's a great shot of the wind blowing over Cape Nome.  You can just hear it, right?

Update 4:06: Watching GPS tracker in realtime and reading everyone's Tweets.  Some say Zirkle has passed Seavey but I haven't seen that, they're still about a mile apart, and now about 10 miles from finish.

Update 4:14: Good info from Joe Runyon with more detail about what happened in the dark.  Sounds like Jeff King had a bad accident, and Aliy passed him without knowing.  Also interesting that there is a point where leading musher no longer has to let trailing musher pass.  This could be neck-and-neck down Front Street.  First nose across the line wins!

Update 4:25: Closer and closer but Seavey still leads as they battle down the Nome stretch.  I don't think Zirkle is going to do it, but still much too close to call.  This could come down to a sprint.

Update 4:28: Just found the Nome web cam, pointed down the finishing straight.  There's no place like Nome.  Awesome!

Update 4:36: Carumba the GPS trackers are no longer updating.  Last telemetry now 20min ago :(

Update 4:43: Still no new news, anything could be happening, and probably is.  Can't believe they didn't design the GPS tracker for scale but then again this is a more exciting finish than usual.

Update 4:46: Yay finally new data.  Looks like about the same gap, but now just a few miles to go.

Update 4:58: 1/3 mile apart with 1 1/3 miles to go.  Going to be close but I don't think Zirkle can catch Seavey.  Do sled dog teams have a sprint?

Update 5:04: And Dallas Seavey wins!  Whew.  Aliy Zirkle is going to be about three minutes behind.  What a great race.  Looks like Mitch Seavey is back in Safety with a comfortable lead for third.

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 10 - Dallas Seavey wins!, Aliy Zirkle a close second

Tuesday,  03/11/14  05:15 AM

And so the 2014 Iditarod is history.  Dallas Seavey held off Aliy Zirkle by about two minutes to win his second Iditarod; this is the third year in a row Zirkle finishes second.  And Dallas' father Mitch is back in Safety, but looks to be a solid third. 

At right: Dallas with his lead dog Beatle, the top dog of this year's Iditarod.

The final 20 miles were pretty exciting, with Zirkle pulling to within about 1/3 mile but never quite catching Seavey.  Both mushers obliterated the previous time record set by John Baker in 2011 by nearly five hours, despite the frozen windstorm on the way to the finish.  This year's race featured little snow, hard rough conditions, and lots of interesting strategy.

We have to feel bad for Jeff King, right?  Just a few hours ago he was poised to win, but then his team was blown off the trail into driftwood and he couldn't recover and had to scratch.  Check out this video of Jeff going through Dalzell Gorge.  Wow!

Please do click though to watch this video, you won't believe it.

And we have to feel bad for DeeDee Jonrowe, who had to scratch early in the race after serious trouble negotiating that same gorge, and the Farewell Burn which follows it.  In fact, there were a record number of teams who scratched this year ... given the ever increasing level of preparation, that more than anything shows how tough the conditions were all week.

Here's my favorite picture of this year's race, "mushing into the sunset".  Every year I resolve to actually visit Alaska and see the race in person.  Maybe next year...

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod wrap

Tuesday,  03/11/14  10:00 PM

Did you enjoy the 2014 Iditarod?  What a great race, right?  Who would have thought that after nine days of racing it would come down to the final minutes, with the leader dropping out, and the third place team passing second place with 22 miles to go, and a sprint down Front Street in Nome.

Well guess what the true story is now coming out, and it's even weirder than we thought.  Check this out.  When Jeff King was blown off the trail just before reaching Safety (!), he had a comfortable lead of about an hour.  When Aliy Zirkle passed him an hour later she had no idea she was doing so.  Pulling into Safety, with a high wind blowing, she decided to rest her team and wait out the weather, conceding first to King.  When Dallas Seavey came along another hour later, he had no idea he was passing King on the trail.  And when he pulled into Safety, he had no idea Zirkle was already there.  His one thought was to stay ahead of his father, who was running fourth, so he went in and out of Safety in minutes.  Zirkle suddenly realized she was losing second to Seavey, and took off after him, fifteen minutes later.  Seavey thought he was racing for third, ahead of his father, and Zirkle thought she was chasing second.  Neither knew King had scratched.  It wasn't until Seavey finished that he found out he had won!  And it wasn't until Zirkle finished that she found out she had been racing for first, not second.  Wow.

Above, right: Seavey and team finishing first in Nome.  They thought they were finishing third.

Well that's it, a wrap for the 2014 Iditarod.  We now return you to our normally scheduled blogging.  Hope you have enjoyed the race and see you all next year!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Wednesday,  03/12/14  11:47 PM

Not good: laptop blue screens while restoring iPhone.  There is a stunned silence in my blogotorium.  The potential for serious disaster is high. 

And I was having such a nice day, too :P

Meanwhile, back on the Internets...

Good point: It is 100% easier not to do things.  "In terms of instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin."  Yeah, but how do you feel afterward?  The hangover can be painful. 

Still buzzing from that amazing finish to the 2014 Iditarod.  Awesome... I must visit Alaska and see it in person.  Most definitely on the list. 

Click through for a whole series of beautiful photos at the Baltimore Sun...

This is perfect: Why I retired from the NFL at 26.  From Rashard Mendenhall.  Should be required reading for all college football players who are trying to live the dream... 

So, Google Glass still needs a killer app.  Yeah, and it might be Visual Search... :)  Actually, after a few days of playing with Glass here's what I think: there will be job-function-specific applications which are incredibly useful for people within those specific jobs, e.g., surgeons, mechanics, chefs, anyone who doesn't have their hands free.  And there will be sports-specific apps like for cycling.  Gradually usage will increase and a network effect will form; as there are more reasons to have one, more people will get them, etc.  And then at the end of the day, the killer app will be ... reaches for the envelope ... 

Excellent: Yahoo Maps adds indoor navigation.  A much needed feature, but I must confess my first reaction to this article was ... Yahoo Maps?  (Who knew?) 

Tim Bray watches Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, and identifies all the reasons we should be Punishing Peter Jackson (as well as the exact punishments for each offense).  Excellent. 

I have to agree that it is rather unforgivable that having brought the immense complex stories of Lord of the Rings to the screen so well - and so accurately! - Jackson has messed up The Hobbit so badly.  Stretching one book into three films was the first sign that this was a crassly commercial endeavor.

In which Lego is compared to Apple: Back to the Brick.  "Losing focus is the quickest and surest path to death for any company."  True, but then where does the growth come from?  In Apple's case, new products, in Lego's case, new revenue streams.  And trying new things can result in a loss of focus.  It's a tough balance. 

Mind-blowing photographs of Earth taken from space.  I think "mind blowing" might be a little strong for these pictures taken by the European Space Agency, but they are way cool... 

Okayyy... back to disaster recovery, fXf!



everything is awesome

Thursday,  03/13/14  10:52 PM

LEGO Unveils The ‘Star Wars’ Sandcrawler and Minifig Set.  Yes!

So interesting how LEGO is a brand that burnishes other brands.  I'm sure LEGO paid a license fee to Disney for this, but on the other hand I'm sure Disney were delighted to have this PR, especially with a new Star Wars movie in the works.  In the meantime, may the force be with you...


everything is ok

Thursday,  03/13/14  11:02 PM

So the endgame to my near brush with device death worked out.  My laptop rebooted, and my phone reloaded itself.  (I am now officially on IOS 7.1)  There were a few hours of yak shaving involved, but so be it...

(In case you're wondering, yes, you can restore an iPad backup to an iPhone :)

So what do I think of IOS 7.1?  Well, it's slightly better.  The new round buttons are better than the old square ones.  Lots of little things have been fixed to be more obvious.  On the other hand, the shift key on the new keyboard is a joke... how could they possibly let something so crummy ship?  At the highest level 7.1 does not "fix" the usability issues of IOS 7, it just mitigates them.  I would go back to IOS 6 in a flash. 

Here's something they could fix: Browse vs Search.  It's true, who wants to pick from a long list...  Contacts, Songs, Artists, these lists appear everywhere in IOS and they're hard to use.

Perception: the day I saw Van Gogh's genius in a new light.  Original is on the left, color shifted version (the way he might have seen it) on the right. 

The Hard Thing about Hard Things.  I feel like I should read this, but it feels ... hard.  Can't someone please summarize in a few bullets? :) 

This is great: Books in the age of the iPad.  Written four years ago, and every bit as true today as it was then.




Saturday,  03/15/14  02:17 PM


One of the efficiencies of the human brain is the way it filters short- and long- term memory.  We can't remember everything, and even if we could, we can't access everything.  In fact search is often more of a limitation than storage; we've all had the experience of having something "trigger" a memory, bringing back a whole bunch of long-forgotten (inaccessible) details.

These filters keep us from remembering high levels of detail for even small amounts of time.  While you're in the middle of working on something you have a million details to hand, but as soon as you set it aside for a few days, the details fade.  And if you come back to it weeks later, they're gone.

Those details are important.  So people have evolved notebooks.  Of course for the longest time notebooks were actual books in which notes were taken, but today they can be computer files, including ancillary data like photos and links.  The first advice any young lab researcher gets is "keep a notebook".  You're to log everything that you do, in the sequence that you do it, so that you can do it again (or avoid doing it again, as the case may be :)  It's odd but I don't think the same advice is handed out to software engineers, yet it is just as vital, for all the same reasons.

When I start any project I immediately create a simple text file log, in which I record everything I do: date, time, and a simple description.  Doesn't matter whether I'm creating something new, debugging a problem, or trying to learn something.  In these days the log entries are often URLs of websites where I learned something, or which contained further instructions.  Now that logs can be electronic, they can be searched easily - which makes them even more powerful.

This simple act of keeping a notebook is so valuable.  As often as I tell people about it - as if I am telling them a great secret - they never do it.  I'm telling you now, and if you try it, I promise you'll be a convert for life.  But you're not going to try it, are you?  Nope.

I'm not sure why people resist keeping a notebook of their work.  There is extra effort involved, but it is trivial; honestly the time spent is in the noise, no matter how simple the project.  And the value is so high!  After even a couple of hours of digging into something, you're going to forget what you did and what you learned.  After a couple of days, the gap will be huge.  Yet people resist.  I think there must be an extension of that efficiency I mentioned at the start, of filtering short- and long- term memory.  We don't want to remember everything, because we know we can't.

Many many people use email as a sort of notebook, without even realizing it.  For many people their inbox is a sort of to-do list, and their interactions with colleagues are a goldmine of information.  Yet few people keep all their old email -as a sort of notebook - and even fewer have a good way to search it.  For about fifteen years I've been keeping all my email (yes that is a lot), and for about eleven years I've used a little tool called X1 to search it.  This is literally the third most used program on my computer (behind Outlook and Chrome).  My colleagues know me as the guy who never forgets anything - a nice thing for which to be known - and X1 is the reason.

In the bad old days I used to take paper notes.  Many of them.  Every time I was in a meeting or presentation, I took notes.  I filed these notes using a simple chronological system, and used an online text index to find them.  So if I was in a meeting on 3/15/14 at 12:00, I might have made an entry that said: "1023 140315 1200 meeting with Spock to discuss Klingons and universe expansion".  Then I'd write #1023 at the top of the paper notes, and put them in a file, just behind #1022 and ahead of #1024.  Later I could at least find the notes, even if I couldn't search full-text search the details. 

And now in the good new days since iPads (and Logitech keyboards) I take text notes.  I use a little mobile app called Captio which captures typed text and sends it to me as an email.  Subject line: "meeting with Spock to discuss Klingons".  The email is sent, it gets saved forever, and indexed with X1 automatically.  I can always find those notes and can full-text search anything which was discussed.  My infinite notebook of notebooks.

Okay, I'm going to give this one last try.  If you try to keep notebooks, I promise you'll like it.  Well, I tried.




Sunday,  03/16/14  09:48 PM

let the games begin


happy St Patrick's

Monday,  03/17/14  11:06 AM


Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I'm not Irish, but I like Ireland a lot, and certainly celebrating their patron saint is a great excuse for a little partying.  And wearing green is kind of fun, sort of like wearing orange on Dutch Queen's Day :)

I found this interesting, the greening of the Chicago River:

No word on whether they make it orange on Queen's Day, need to investigate further.  In the meantime, have a great day!

Oh, and in other news, Los Angeles had a little 4.4 magnitude earthquake at 6:30 this morning, a quick adrenaline shock to get us all awake.  Local wags are calling it the shamrock shake :)



Monday,  03/17/14  10:05 PM

Well it's been a little while; let's see what's happening, shall we?

This 3200 Year Old Tree Is So Huge It's Never Been Captured In A Single Image.  Wow, how cool is that?  247 feet tall with a 27 foot trunk.  The little red dot near the base is a person :) 

The case of the missing 777 is becoming more and more interesting.  It seems unlikely that the plane just crashed - but on the other hand, where is it?  Philip Greenspun considers stealing and stashing a 777.  The map at right shows all the possible landing places within 3 1/2 hours of the plane's disappearance, but of course we'd know if it had landed at any of them. 

Here's a cool theory: maybe Malaysia Air 370 disappeared using another 777?  Apparently it would increase the possible locations.  It sure seems to fit the otherwise weird behavior of running off course in one direction for so long, then reversing back in the other before vanishing.

So, is the era of Facebook an anomaly?  (Based on everyone showing up in the same social space.)  I think it was kind of inevitable, given the strong network effect.  Imagine how difficult it will be to displace it.  (Look how hard Google have tried with Google+, and how ineffectual it has been...) 

Glassholes: at least you know who they are.  Ah, but do you know who they really are? 

Microsoft CEO Nadella may unveil Office on iPad.  Awesome.  I knew he was reading my blog :) 

And so, if Office were available, would I use it?  The answer is, it depends... with Apple's Pages, Keynote, and Numbers I have three "Office" programs which interoperate with Office pretty well, and which have UIs which are designed for a tablet.  Microsoft will have to do at least as well.  But they could!

The Billion-dollar telescope race.  Excellent.  I love "big science"!  My money's on the TMT, pictured at right.  Weirdly this article does not mention Caltech, only that both the TMT and GMT projects are "headquartered in Pasadena", and not even in connection with the Palomar Observatory. 

Speaking of big science, it looks like Gravity Waves have been Detected.  Wow!  First the Higgs Boson, and now this.  It does seem like the Big Bang Theory is on firm ground :) 




Different Scales (NY 11/14/11)

Tuesday,  03/18/14  08:49 PM


"different scales"

(from my backlog of unposted awesome New Yorker covers)


Google Android Wear

Tuesday,  03/18/14  09:03 PM

Today's big news is BIG: Google Android Wear

"Google has revealed that their Android operating system is coming to wearable technology as part of their newly announced Android Wear project."

Not only does this make Android available as a platform for all sorts of devices – Google Glass, and now Google Watches, and who knows what else – but these will have Google’s voice activated technology built in.

"Okay Watch, take picture"

It’s interesting to me that while Google aren't first to this market, they've beat Apple to it. We all know Apple is working on wearable computing devices but where are they? Maybe, like with phones, they'll wait until everyone else gets it wrong for a while, learn, and then get it right. But Android seems headed for a nice head start.

Also I have to say, these are not ugly.  Of course Google are making a platform, and anyone can use their SDK to build on their platform, so Hublot or Cartier or whomever can make a Google Wear watch.  Android jewelry, coming soon!


Angry Nerds

Saturday,  03/22/14  09:18 PM

From Atlassian (makers of JIRA) ... Angry Nerds:

I love it.  Check out especially the character descriptions.  And of course ... play it!


Google unjumps the shark

Saturday,  03/22/14  09:33 PM

So... I think Google have unjumped the shark.

I was just looking at some old links I'd saved for possible blogging from the depths of time, three years ago.  At that time I was convinced Google had jumped the shark; that marketing people had taken over from engineers, and the company was headed for a slow sad decline, following in the path of so many technology leaders before.  Check out their home page; I saved this as "Google shark jump 1":

And this as "Google shark jump 2":

Just look at that... I mean, look at it.  Who would ever think this was a nice clean home page?  That black menu is hideous, and there are way too many things going on.  But check out Google's home page today:

A lot cleaner.  Yeah there's still that Google+ junk, but someone has clearly gotten a clue.  And Google have unjumped in a lot of other ways; take the fact that this screenshot uses Chrome, which is now my default browser, having supplanted Firefox.  And look at the success of Android.  And Glass.  And Android Wear. 

Who knows what will be next?


Saturday,  03/22/14  09:49 PM

Such a busy week ... traveling, meeting, and ... coding.  I have two awesome development projects going at the same time, and it feels like I just don't have enough time to do everything.  (One, a cool improvement to the eyesFinder kernelizer, and the second, a custom update to my Makerbot's firmware :)  So I shall blog.

The stress of being a programmer is driving many of them crazy.  Then again, many of them were crazy to begin with, so who can tell? 

Glassholes: at least you know who they are.  So interesting the difference in reception given Glass vs smartwatches. 

Wearing Apple.  "The first step is to start looking at things from Apple’s point-of-view. I ask myself, 'What problems can a wearable device solve?'

Disrupting healthcare with Google Glass.  Unfortunately this is another incorrect usage of 'disrupting', but there's no doubt Glass can deliver value in healthcare, and any industry where people cannot use their hands to access information. 

The Moto 360 watch: 'we wanted to hit the whoa mark'.  It's a nice looking watch, but there are many of them.  Will it work?  Seems an always on screen implies poor battery life.  Still contextual information at a glance could be most useful

Dave Winer: New Scripting News.  My pattern with Dave is I never get what he's working on until much later, and then I realize he was just way ahead of me.  FWIW he is more responsible than anyone for getting me into blogging. 

Here we have a Grass Printer.  Excellent. 

How Earl "Madman" Muntz changed car (and American) culture.  Give this article a chance, it picks up steam and ends up making some pretty subtle points.  I love the 4-track cartridge player.  "Always good at spotting the next trend, Muntz went on to be among the first people to market satellite dishes, home video recorders and big screen TVs. By the time of his death in 1987 he had become the biggest retailer in southern California of a new device called the cellular phone."  Good call. 

iPhone6 will include temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors.  Of course it will. 

And ... it will include "Healthbook" software.  That will be cool.

The BBC has 10 theories on what could have happened to Malaysia flight 370.  Quite interesting.  I guess the simple disaster theory is the most likely, but I love the idea that the plane hid in the shadow of another plane.  

Edward Snowden gives a TED talk.  How cool is that?  I'm a little conflicted about Snowden, but there's no denying his motives were good.  At this point, we must shine more light. 

An abandoned Paris Metro station reimagined as a swimming pool.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize 'it all' is so much more than you thought :)




Monday,  03/24/14  09:28 PM

Well, did you get enough basketball last week/end?  Here's what happened to my bracket:

Not terrible; 25/32 in the second round*, and 7/16 in the third round*.  My best call was Stanford, worst was Duke.  I had to repick six teams for the fourth round*, two teams for the final four, and a new team for the finals; they're shown shaded in yellow.  Yes I am picking Michigan State over Florida.  My overall pick is still Arizona.  How did you do?

* bogusly, this year the tournament's four "play in games" are called the first round (or "first four").  So the round of 64, previously called the first round, is now the second, and the round of 32 is now the third, etc.


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