Archive: April 2014
Yes yes, I know, I've been gone ... gone coding. Working on eyesFinder, if you must know; image hotspot support in the visual search engine, including polar kernelization. I shall explain, please stay tuned. It takes time, teaching the 1s and 0s to dance.
Last weekend we had some great basketball, did you catch any of it? Thanks to two Tivos and a Slingbox, I caught way more than I should; fortunately "watching" basketball on my desktop and coding are two things I can do at the same time. Must be a right/left -brain thing. Anyway my bracket is history:
I did okay picking the Elite eight; Florida and Arizona were easy, Michigan State did beat Virginia, and Michigan survived Texas. But Dayton defeated Stanford (rather impressively, for a #11 seed), Wisconsin whacked Baylor (that was a crummy choice on my part), Connecticut handled Iowa State (good game!), and Kentucky beat their inter-state rival Louisville (whew). So, 50%, though two of those were from revised picks (Michigan and Michigan State).
But it gets harder, and I didn't do so well picking the final four; yeah, Florida made it (over Dayton, as expected, and looking pretty good as Dayton played their best to give them a game), but Arizona fell to Wisconsin (thereby eliminating my pick to go all the way), Connecticut handled Michigan State (so a #7 made it to the final four), and Kentucky squeaked by Michigan (so a #8 made it too).
I have to say the officiating was awful; not only because of that bad call in overtime which let Wisconsin win, but all through the various series. Refs should not decide games, especially at the end. And somebody has to rewrite the charge/block rule so mere humans can make the call without looking at monitors and guessing. It ruins the game where every play at the end is someone driving the lane, someone guarding them closely, then a whistle and a zebra decides what happened. That is *not* basketball, or it shouldn't be.
And so onward into the Final Four, what do I think? Well, I'm picking Florida to end Connecticut's hopes (not a controversial pick, but I'm sticking with the only team I have left from my original bracket), and Wisconsin to beat Kentucky (after your team loses, you have to root for the team that knocked them out). And in the final... I'm picking... Wisconsin. Just because I can't root for Florida to win it all.
NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day:
Saturn's Raging Storm
(click to enbiggen)
The atmospheric turmoil extends all the way around the planet
Just the large swirl at upper left is larger than the Earth
Saturn's rings are seen nearly edge on as the blue line
Note their shadow cast on the planet's surface
Watched Grand Budapest Hotel tonight; wow, how cool! Entirely different from any other movie you'll see this year, and visually amazing. Capped an interesting weekend ... a little riding, a little sailing, a little coding, and a lot of thinking. Meanwhile, it's all happening...
I'm at an interesting transition point with eyesFinder; we're one quarter old now (sort of, if you consider the start of the year as day zero), and it's time for some changes. Good ones. Perfect timing as I started reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things... it's a great book, has me highlighting passages left and right.
So ... didn't pick the final two did I? Who knew we'd end up with a #7 against a #8 in the final (Connecticut vs Kentucky)? So my final pick now is ... UConn. They looked very good against Florida. We'll see!
The Huskies have a chance to win both the Men's and Women's NCAA championships ... the Huskie women defeated Stanford today and will play Notre Dame in the final Tuesday night.
Did you see this? The enchanting Tesla ad that wasn't made by Tesla. So awesome... In 2014 you know you have a cool product when your customers are making ads for you.
Did you know? A Tesla Model S owner has found a hidden ethernet port, and attached a laptop to his car's "network". Inevitable, right? Can't wait to jailbreak my car :)
Interesting that Tesla knew about it, and warned the owner not to do it anymore. The legal position is quite interesting, are they allowed to do that?
Knolling. Okay, now there's a word for what I do. "Knolling is the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization." Aka, minimize entropy wherever possible :)
Looks like Adobe's transition from one-time sales to subscriptions is working. Good for them. This is a tough change for a public company to make, because revenue drops during the transition, but long-term it is a much better model. For the company and the customer.
Excellent: The massive soviet sub that inspired Hunt for Red October. Too bad such a cool thing was built for such a bogus purpose.
Interesting: Livestrong without Lance. I *still* wear my Livestrong bracelet every day; I started because of Lance, but continued because of Livestrong. This is my conflict with Lance; yeah, he cheated at bike racing, and that's bad, but he founded an amazing organization which has done incredible work to fight cancer, and that's good. Maybe in the end the good outweighs the bad.
Do you understand Secret? Me, either. So you can share things anonymously, so what? You could always do that before, and it was always uninteresting. (Apparently there was a secret version of iMessage called Rumor Monger.) If people aren't willing to self-identify with their message, it's questionable.
John Patrick: Reflections on Bitcoin. Links this nice overview article in Newsweek.
IRS: Bitcoin is property, not currency. Hmmm. That means its increases in value would be subject to capital gains.
Not surprising: Sony turns down Android Wear in favor of its own tech. This is interesting... we'll have to see whether the devices themselves win out, in which case proprietary approaches have a chance, or whether the platform will turn out to be more important. Given the need for Apps to make a smartphone smart, I think the best platform might win.
Stephen Hawking: Space exploration is vital to our future. Well yeah. "We'd be 'castaways on a desert island not trying to escape' if we don't explore." Agree.
ZooBorn of the week: A pygmy Slow Loris. You're welcome :)
I love it
Got up this morning determined to code something - a change to eyesFinder's upload API, if you must know - worked all day, and here it is 10:00 and haven't looked at a line yet. Oh well, some days are like that...
Yes of course that it my a 6:1 planetary gear. A great toy :)
Have you ever had a time that always shows up on the clock? For me it is 9:39. Seems like every other time I look it is 9:39. My wireless technology post was of course at ... 9:39.
Wild: Gamestop as a fee-free, convenient banking institution. So ... are game preorders considered property or currency?
Neil deGrasse Tyson explains evolution. "Some claim evolution is just a theory, as if it were merely an opinion. The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact. Evolution really happened." Excellent.
Scott "Dilbert" Adams: Guy changes civilization. A congressional candidate who checks his platform into github. Well that's transparency in plan, if not in deed.
Not sure what to make of Facebook's $2B acqusition of VR company Oculus yet. Seems like they must have more in mind than just an awesome gaming experience. (In the meantime, augmented reality gets a boost - along with the visual search technology that makes it possible.)
So interesting the backlash which surrounds this deal; Oculus was a Kickstarter, and some of their early backers are angry that they didn't get any participation in this return, but as well many Oculus fans (and John Carmack fans) are upset because now Oculus will never be what it might have been.
Meanwhile: the top 8 picks from Y-Combinator demo day. Hmmm. Voice Interface API, Matchmaker Assisted Dating, Synced Cross-Web and Mobile Notifications, Airline Compensation ... doesn't seem like anything interesting in there. At all.
Awesome: First astroid discovered sporting a ring system. That's an artist conception at left, but how cool would it be to actually be there? (Maybe we can do it via Oculus?)
And: Small world discovered beyond Pluto. The solar system is more and more interesting every day ... we need interplanetary space travel!
One more: Cassini points to hidden ocean on Saturn's icy moon [Enceladus]. To discover new worlds, to boldly go where no man has gone before...
I've been watching the whole Mozilla / Brendan Eich thing with great interest. Seems to me we've reached a new low in the political discourse of the United States, that a CEO could be forced to resign because of his alleged political views.
A new low.
You may know, I'm an ardent libertarian, and to me the salient point is not whether Eich is anti-gay (turns out, he's not) or anti-same-sex-marriage (turn's out, he's not anymore*), but whether the prevailing political winds should determine whether someone is fit to be an executive of a company. We should defend people's right to have whatever view they want, especially on something as controversial as same-sex-marriage, even if we disagree with them. We should not shut down public discussion of such issues by forcing a prevailing view. And we especially should not confuse an individual's personal views with their fitness and performance as an executive of a company.
Lest you think this is an isolated example, there have been serious suggestions that other executives who have contributed to unpopular / un-politically-correct initiatives be "purged". That's pretty scary, don't you think?
I think we should support different points of view and open debate, especially since the political winds can shift so quickly. While support for same-sex-marriage is now pretty strong, it wasn't too long ago that it was "politically correct" to have an opposite view. Consider the matter of abortion, which is not yet settled. Having either a pro-life or pro-choice view is okay for a CEO, today. But what about in five years? What if one of these positions "wins"? Should we then criticize or censure the people who had an opposite view today?
* BTW many notable public figures have changed their mind about same-sex-marriage, including President Obama.
Multithread city over here, I have been courting investors, coding, team-building, and assembling a sales plan all at once. And I need help, so I've also been making Minions =)
Biggest news the last couple of days has been heartbleed, the webserver bug (in OpenSSL) which is so bad it has it's own name (and logo). Server admins all over the world are scrambling to apply patches, and users everywhere are changing passwords. Crap. So, does this refute Linus's Law? (That with many eyes, all bugs are shallow.) Nope.
Think Visual Search is flying under the radar? No such luck. Facebook's face identification project is accurate 97.25% of the time. That's amazing. And Twitter adds photo tagging. It isn't automatic - yet - but imagine how cool when it will be. Won't be long, check this out: Impala lands on Android to herd more cat pictures. And there are applications like this: transparent Land Rover hood. Onward!
Seth Godin: Not even one note. "We opt for more instead of better. Better is better than more."
I've been remiss in my cycling commentary, which for some of you is just fine and others a travesty. We're in the middle of the "classics" season, and next Sunday is the most classic classic, Paris-Roubaix, featuring a head-to-head battle between Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen. In the last ten years Boonen has won four times, Cancellara three, including last year. My money's on the Swiss time machine; he looked pretty amazing winning the Tour of Flanders last weekend... (That's him leading Boonen in the Ronde.)
So, Microsoft have announced Office for the iPad, or rather, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Early reviews have been uniformly positive and the products are already very popular though some pundits seem to feel this is only for business customers. No, it is nothing less that a grand repositioning of the company away from desktop toward mobile; a great move, IMNSHO. Good for Satya Nadella: Who are you, and what have you done with Microsoft's CEO?
Meanwhile, Microsoft's OS Chief Terry Myerson does not get it, per this interview with Mary Jo Foley. "How the Windows experience spans these form factors and is familiar across them - that's what we need to deliver if we're going to delight people in the whole ecosystem." That's old school thinking; I predict he will be gone soon...
Meanwhile, Amazon launches FireTV, their answer to AppleTV, Roku, and Chromecast. Coolest differentiator is the voice-controlled remote, which apparently actually works. That would be cool.
Oh, and they also launched Dash, which is a combination barcode scanner and voice recorder to help you order from Amazon Fresh. Quite interesting. I could see this making a difference in convenience...
So, we still haven't found Malaysia Flight 370 :( despite an incredible effort. At this point the most likely scenario all along seems the only scenario; the plane had trouble and crashed into the ocean. The Washington Post created this illustration of how difficult it's going to be to find it. It's not going to be easy to find the black box at the bottom of the ocean, as this illustration shows.
esr: Zero Marginal Thinking (Jeremy Rifkin gets it all wrong). A thorough fisking. Whew!
Do you want to be a Glasshole, too? On April 15 - for one day only (tax day!) - Google will sell one to anyone. A mere $1,500 and you too can take pictures by winking. Go for it!
And finally: how to flirt, according to science. A big key is maintaining eye contact. So Glass is great for flirting :)
Greetings all! I hope you have an amazing Koningsdag, or "King's Day", the annual celebration of the Dutch monarch. It happens on April 27th every year except when that is a Sunday, and so ... it's today!
You may remember that last year we all celebrated Queen's Day, and yes ... Queen Beatrix abdicated, and her son Willem took the throne. Would you like to learn a Dutch word? Oranjegekte (oh-ran-yuh-kek-teh) means "orange craziness, and that's what's going on right now...
So ... wear orange!
And you, too can celebrate like these people in Amsterdam...
Whew! Nearly two weeks since I last posted, which tells you everything about how busy I've been, whether it is coding or courting investors or meeting with customers or bike riding or sailing or ... hanging out. Anyway sorry, here's a few interesting things the Ole filter caught along the way...
What the world looks like from the cockpit. Excellent!
Solving the important problems... an algorithm for exiting Burning Man. Yes. (I've never been to the Playa, but I want to.)
This seems related to that other important problem, the most efficient way for people to board and exit airplanes. The current algorithm seems to be among the least efficient...
Yay! NASA laying foundation for Jupiter Moon space mission. I knew it. Cannot wait to visit Titan... :)
A look back at the Sony Walkman. So weird to think it was so revolutionary to be able to bring music with you so easily... I remember having a Sony which was roughly the size of a cassette tape, which ... played cassette tapes. It was the coolest thing ever.
If you like Legos and robots, you'll like TinkerBots. (And who doesn't like both?) Okayyy.
Escape from XP! I love it. As John Gruber says, another sign that Microsoft have turned the corner.
Abbott and Costello discuss unemployment. It would be funnier if it wasn't quite so true. Right now reporting good numbers trumps helping people find work.
Byte Magazine from April 1981: Wearable Computers. Man, I used to love Byte. Good times. How interesting that the world is almost like we thought it was going to be ... but completely different.
Composite image of 8 hours of airplane departures at LAX. Amazing! (click through to enbiggen)
Niki Terpstra wins Paris-Roubaix. Congratulations to the first Dutchman to triumph there in 13 years. A great victory.
Software engineers think they're amazingly great. Well, yeah. Actually what's interesting about this survey isn't that 90% of all startup software engineers think they're the most important people in their company, it's that 10% don't...
Maybe employers should be allowed to use IQ tests. Um, yeah. Silly isn't it? You don't like the answer, so you don't let people ask the question.
Most interesting: Bloomberg: How Americans Die. Great data and cool presentations of it. My biggest takeaway was the AIDS success story. And also the prevalence of suicide as an increasingly prominent cause of death.
Antarctic sea ice growing at an alarming rate. Global Cooling! (I know, weather is not climate... but still)
And finally ... CodeBabes - the worst thing you'll find on the Internet this week. Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought.
From Dave Winer: Roy Wildstein:
"I've never known anyone named Roy Wildstein. Otherwise, everything in this story happened."
Yeah me neither, and this happened to me too. Only we chose to fight, and we won ... and we still lost, because it took a lot of money to win. Actually everyone involved lost, except possibly our attorneys.
"The charge, age discrimination ... here's what I learned, something that Roy clearly understood before he started working at my company. I could choose to fight it, and I would lose."
This doesn't just happen with age discrimination, it happens with every other kind of discrimination too. It's a tough problem; you want laws that protect people from discrimination, but you don't want to enable people to use them for a scam.
I think the solution lies in punishing the lawyers. If a lawyer represents a client and she wins, great, you pay their legal fees. But if they lose, they have to pay yours. I think that would put an end to illegitimate cases pretty quickly, and would raise the bar on the level of proof attorneys would need to see before they bring suit against a company.
Coolest story of the day (and maybe, most prescient...) Avram Miller: How Apple crushed Google in the fall of 2015 (via I, Cringley):
Steve Jobs was livid when he learned about Google plans to use the Android operating system which Google acquired to compete with the iPhone... Jobs began to realize that Google could become the next Microsoft which would have the same effect that the old Microsoft had on the pre-iPhone Apple, it would cut the company off at the knees. Jobs realized that the only way to prevent that, was to put a dagger into the very heart of Google – Search. So he started up the most secret project ever undertaken at Apple. The name of the project was "Found."
Huh ... pretty interesting. I can't imagine Jobs starting the project simply to get back at Google, but I can imagine Apple entering Search, and in a big way, with new algorithms and improved usability. (Who knows, maybe they'll even enter Visual Search!) According to Miller:
This effort was so important to Jobs that he pre-recorded the announcement before his death and instructed Tim Cook to use it.
August of 2015, huh? Stay tuned...
Return to the archive.
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
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
where are the desktop apps?