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Archive: January 2020

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first post ...

Wednesday,  01/01/20  02:39 PM

... of the new decade.  Yay.

Did you watch the Rose Parade this morning?  Of course you did.  And did you like the floats?  Amazing, huh, seems like they get bigger, better, and cooler every year.  And so which was your favorite?  Well probably - like us - you liked the Northwestern Mutual float featuring relaxing llamas, entitled "spend your life living":

spend your live living

Note only a great float (any float with llamas is automatically better, plus bonus points for the sunglasses and hats), but a great message on New Year's Day.  Great as it is, I don't think it is on the same plane as 2017's surfing dogs; that was a high bar and hasn't been threatened since.

So far I have spent my post-parade pre-bowl morning debugging software*.  Not sure if that counts as living, but if I don't debug it then tomorrow 400 people in my company are going to get an invalid email, and that will count as dying.  A big part of living is avoiding dying, when you think about it.

Are you a "resolutions" person?  I am, although I must admit I'm better at making them than sticking to them.  I won't reveal them all (yes there are more than one) but one I will share: try to stay high-level and not disappear into details.

Okay, so back to debugging then :)

(Oh and my pick?  Heart says Oregon, head says Wisconson.  Quack!)

* the root cause of the bug: 2020 is a leap year.  Sigh.


Wednesday,  01/01/20  11:56 PM

Once upon a time ... in HollywoodRewatched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tonight (on Amazon, after having seen it in a theater when it came out).  What a great movie.  Did you ever think you'd laugh watching someone use a flamethower to kill someone in a pool?  But you did, didn't you...

Did a bit of blogcleaning today ... got rid of the Facebook "like" links, which I never liked (and which nobody ever clicks).  And anyway I'm not sure I ever cared.  I've been doing it for ten years, and all it did was add complexity and load time.  I also fixed the archive - yay, my 18th year of blogging, if you don't subtract 2007, 2018, and 2019, in which I hardly posted.  In fact the last two years I only posted on 9/11 ("never forget", and I didn't).  So this year is already better!

Jason Kottke: the best of the best-of-the-decade lists.  YMMV.

Paul Graham: the Lesson to Unlearn.  I love this.  "No, I would explain, that is not how to get lots of users. The way you get lots of users is to make the product really great."  The lesson to unlearn is that there is no shortcut, and finding one is not the answer.  The way to be good is to be good.

Mark Suster: Startup Advice.  "Everything I learned about being an entrepreneur I learned by F’ing up at my first company."  I definitely learned more by F'ing up my first company than by being part of six other great companies...

a new coding game: assembler!Here's the Programming Game you never asked for.  I have to say programming in assembler is completely passe and mostly useless, but such good background for coding in anything else.  Kind of like the way a Jedi master must build their own light saber :)

Matt Zimbel: What the digital age means for my music — and my paycheque.  "So the digital age has given us two ‘gifts.’ The technology used for playback sounds terrible and our recorded music no longer has any monetary value."  Do you remember laughter?

Happy new decade!xkcd: Happy New Decade!


seven deadly social media sins

Thursday,  01/02/20  08:39 PM


seven deadly social media sins



Thursday,  01/02/20  08:48 PM

Just got back from the gym.  First workout in ... I actually cannot remember.  "I wish I hadn't made time to work out", said nobody ever.  Onward!

Learning: Air Pods are amazing for working out.

Mathieu van der Poel wins Amstel Gold with incredible attackPerfect call: VeloNews awards 2019 cyclist of the year to Mathieu van der Poel.  Not only did this guy win races on the road, cyclocross, and mountain biking, but he was nearly champion in all three.  And Amstel Gold, my goodness, the attack of the century.

Thoughts from the Ammo line (from Powerline): why free college is a bad idea.  "The students have no skin in the game; the colleges have no skin in the game; and the taxpayers who are skinned alive have no say at all."  Agree entirely.  Subsidizing anything makes it more expensive.

OMG: scientists just discovered a new state of water molecules.  Could it be Ice Nine!?

John Saddington: On taking credit.  "The cure, of course, is to just give away credit as much as you possibly can, all the time"

Dilbert: taking credit

And the bookend: On Blame.  "Most of the things in life are outside of our control and what we really are control over is how we respond to those things."

Dilbert: on blame

Good news: GM Crops Like Golden Rice Will Save the Lives of Hundreds of Thousands of Children.  Like pesticdes, genetically modified plans are a modern miracle.  It's amazing how often "greens" end up on the wrong side of these issues.

Super cool: Interactive Vitualization of the scale of objects in space.

relative size of various space objects



code quality

Saturday,  01/04/20  09:13 PM


xkcd: code quality

And I thought my code reviews were tough



Day Four

Saturday,  01/04/20  09:42 PM

day four - dum dum dum dumDay four of the year, and day four of working out.  So far, so good. 

Another key learning, it's great to watch football while working out, and man was there some great football today?  I have to admit, I have not paid attention to pro football at all this year, until today.  I could not have told you who had made the playoffs - okay, I knew the Rams did not - but it was fun shifting gears from the Bowls and getting into the playoffs.  Onward.

Am I the only one who 1) admires the Patriots and 2) was glad to see them lose?  The end of an era, and we might not see such domination again.

SpaceX - the company that changed spaceflight foreverJoe Papparlardo in Popular Mechanics: The SpaceX Decade: How One Company Changed Spaceflight Forever.  "Something very strange happened to spaceflight over the past 10 years: Commercial Space companies now have devotees. Like impassioned sports fans, their conflicts play out on social media, where detractors and worshippers swap insults and Delta-v rocket equations with equal invective."  And meanwhile government organizations like NASA have stopped launching missions!

Don't you love the way we can't speak the truth anymore?  Powerline notes The Euphemism of the Decade.  "I suspect that once upon a time 'juvenile delinquent' was a liberal euphemism for 'young criminal.'  As often happens, however, eventually even the euphemism is thought to be too harsh, and so a better one has to be found. And so one has: This press release yesterday talked about 'justice-involved youth.'"  Nobody is fooled.

And here we have the Epic Correction of the Decade:  "The authors regret that there is an error in the published version of 'Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies' American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51.  The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed."  Heh.  If we apply the [correct] interpretation of the study to the authors themselves, we find ...

Airplane!So, this was fun: Every joke from Airplane, ranked.  Makes you want to watch it again, doesn't it?  Well do; it's just as great as you remembered.  And most pleasantly un-PC.  For me the very best part was Lloyd Bridges' "I picked a bad week to give up X" running joke.  When he reaches "sniffing glue" I pretty much lose it.

Apropos: Josh Newman: Basically, Darwinism.  "If you are hearing about something old, it is almost certainly good.  Why?  Because nobody wants to talk about shitty old stuff, but lots of people still talk about shitty new stuff, because they are still trying to figure out if it is shitty or not.  The past wasn't better, we just forgot about all the shitty shit."

Zooborn of the day: baby Aye-AyeAnd wrapping up for the day, reviving an important tradition; here's a baby Aye-Aye.  "Nocturnal primates with bushy tails and bony middle fingers, aye-ayes are endangered on their native island of Madagascar."  Let the puns begin!





2020 bingo

Sunday,  01/05/20  10:27 PM


2020 prediction bingo

From the most excellent VisualCapitalist, 2020 prediction bingo!

Of these, they all seem pretty good, but I think "deepfakes will influence the U.S. Election" is iffy, "United States will see modest economic growth" is possibly wrong (depending on how one defines 'modest'), "the death knell of cookies" is premature, as is "5G will hit the market in noticable ways", and "Global economic slowdown" seems well under way but might be reversed mid year.  We'll see!



think day

Sunday,  01/05/20  11:15 PM

the thinker in actionA lazy "think" day for me today - drove [all the way] out to 29 Palms, came back through the mountains, and thought [a few] deep thoughts...

Did you know?  Rodin's iconic The Thinker was actually named The Poet.

I rediscovered something super cool today.  If you want to use someone's Twitter Feed as an RSS feed, simply do this.  There are a lot a blogs and websites which don't have RSS feeds, but which do echo their content (maybe just as a link) to their Twitter feed.  You're welcome.

Richard Branson (via Twitter->RSS): Why I think writing down New Year's Resolutions helps me stick to them.  YMMV.

wine around the world (click to enbiggen)VirtualCapitalist (via Twitter->RSS): Wine around the world.  A great infographic, please click to enbiggen.  This is one of my new favorite feeds, stay tuned for much more from them...

So apparently Meat Loaf says Greta Thunberg has been brainwashed into thinking climate change is real.  He has predictably been castigated for this; I love Glenn Reynolds' (Instapundit) take: The SJW crowd is going after Meatloaf, but this time I think they've bitten off more than they can chew.  Heh.

Kohler's Alexa-enabled showerheadImportant work: Kohler puts an Alexa-enabled smart speaker in a showerhead.  Seems like everything is Alexa-enabled, but so far not quite useful.  For example I can't say "Alexa bring me the conditioner from the other shower", which would be most useful.  I guess we need personal robots for that, and they're probably not far off...

Voyager 2 enters interstellar spaceAwesome!  Voyager 2's new messages home illuminate the mysteries of interstellar space.  "Last year, Voyager 2 joined its twin beyond the heliosphere, described by NASA as 'the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by our Sun.'  Today sees the publication of several scientific papers analyzing the data that Voyager 2 has sent back since its crossing."  So cool, and I love the illustration.




Monday,  01/06/20  08:37 PM



Wow, that's just about all I can say
(please click to enbiggen amazingly)

I was driving home and saw this, pulled over from PCH, and whipped out my trusty iPhone XR


space-ing out

Tuesday,  01/07/20  10:01 PM

Greetings SpaceX aficionados, more X-cellent news to report.

First, yesterday SpaceX launched another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit. 

Is it weird that we are sort of taking this for granted now?  There are now 180 of these birds, destined for “low” orbit of 550km.  (For comparison, a geostationary satellite orbits at 35,000km.)  At this altitude the typical latency experienced with communication satellites is significantly mitigated, with round trip latencies on the order of 50ms.  Perfect for telemedicine!

SpaceX’ goal is to blanket the Earth, creating a new means of communication.  And they seem well on their way.


We have liftoff!

(click to watch a video snip)

I never get tired of watching these launches.  So very cool.

Stage one lands on droneship – awesome – while stage 2 burns further into orbit.

(click for video snippet)

For those keeping track, this is the 48th successful landing of a stage one booster by SpaceX.  Seems like they’re getting the hang of this reusability thing.

And a bit later, poof, 60 count ‘em 60 satellites are deployed successfully into orbit.

(click for snippet)

Seems like they’ve improved the camera location and quality to capture the satellite deployments, too.

So that would be pretty exciting all by itself, but meanwhile, up at the ISS Space Station, the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft was preparing to return to Earth today, carrying about 3,800 pounds of science and supplies back.

The Dragon will likely be the next US spacecraft to take people back and forth to the ISS; the US has relied on Russian spacecraft to do so since the last Space Shuttle mission in July 2011.  Yes that’s right although it’s pretty hard to believe.

Successful departure confirmed at 05:05ET this morning!  The Dragon was released from the ISS and executed three departure burns to head back to Earth.

(click for snippet)

Dragon splashed down into the Pacific Ocean at 09:30ET.  Woo hoo!

As long as I’m space-ing out, some more interesting news:NASA astronaut’s blood clot in space gets treated by doctor on Earth.  The subhead is “There are no emergency rooms in space”.

Sounds like yet another great use case for telehealth!

Cheers, and space out


winging it

Tuesday,  01/07/20  11:30 PM

A most excellent day of sailing today with friends, and we were able to fly downwind wing-on-wing making 5.5 knots in 12 true; pretty awesome.

"Time spent on the water is not counted against you" - my Dad

News you can use: the best source of business ideas.  Who knew, the Virgin brand began with a trip to the Virgin Islands...

We are winning bigly at the border.  "The number of apprehensions at the southwest border plummeted from 144,000 in May 2019 to just 42,649 in November."  Not everyone thinks this is good news, but I do.

voyage to a comet!Following up on my space-ing out post, check out this video made from 400,000 photos of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  As you watch, please reminder yourself, this is not a simulation...

You've probably been following the horrible fires in Australia.  And many think climate change is to blame.  But two things, first, Australia has always had horrible fires; I remember reading The Far Country by Nevil Shute, written in 1950, in which "gum tree" (Eucalyptus)fires play a notable role, and second, nearly 200 people arrested in Australia for deliberately lighting bushfires.  What!

While I was out not blogging :( the Babylon Bee came to the fore, and my goodness is it great.  Here's a sample: CNN attacks Babylon Bee: 'The internet is only big enough for one fake news site'.  Hehe.

Speaking of CNN being a fake news site, did you see this? Covington Catholic Student Nick Sandmann Gets Settlement From CNN After $275 Million Lawsuit.  Wow.  I don't think the settlement was $275M, but hopefully it was large enough to make them think twice about being so irresponsible.

If you've been a regular reader, you know how much I like solar power*, and this is no surprise: Solyndra 2: Boondoggle Boogaloo.  "If you liked Solyndra, you're gonna love the Crescent Dunes solar plant near Tonopah, Nevada.  Thanks to the efforts of Obama energy secretary Steven Chu and then-majority leader Harry Reid, it sucked up $737 million in federal loan guarantees.  Tiny problem: It was obsolete before it ever came online."

*All solar power plants are obsolete before they come online; the sad truth is that it costs more to make them than they ever save in operating expenses, and they are in no way a replacement for fossil fuels.  Or nuclear power.

Apropos: England giving up on wind power.  "Hugh McNeal, chief executive of the British wind industry’s trade body, has acknowledged that with subsidies at an end, there won't be any more wind turbine projects in England."  And note that most British wind power plants are in the ocean, and they have a lot of wind.

OTOH, Germany's massive nuclear fusion reactor is actually working.  These data points don't prove overall trends, but they are suggestive.

Nine Healthcare companies who changed the 2010s.  Epic is #1, of course, and Theranos #2, perhaps also of course but in my view incorrectly.  At the end of all they'll be a footnote, and will not have changed much.  But what about Aperio, which founded Digital Pathology?


Saturday,  01/11/20  09:41 PM

J70s racingWhew what a busy day.  Raced a J70 in Santa Barbara - yay, first race of the season - and also worked all day.  More about that tomorrow...  but in the meantime, it's all happening:

Per Dave Winer: Google no longer scrapes the web, now it just uses addresses of pages which Chrome users visit.  Interesting, and makes sense.  But what if nobody ever visits a page?  Seems like maybe they have to do both?

Coinbase blog an interesting history of Bitcoin in the 2010s:

  1. Bitcoin did not fail
  2. Coinbase did not fail
  3. Factions and civil war
  4. Bubbles (and crashes)
  5. Apps took longer than we thought
  6. ICOs
  7. Exchanges captured most of the value
  8. Stablecoins

Recessions vs expansions, courtesy of Visual Capitalist.  You can see the gains far outweigh the losses.  And also, we are now in the longest expansion since 1950, following the biggest recession.

Did you watch the Golden Globe awards?  I did not - I never watch these award shows, especially lately - but apparently host Ricky Gervais did some serious roasting.  "I didn't roast Hollywood for being a bunch of liberals. I myself am a liberal. Nothing wrong with that. I roasted them for wearing their liberalism like a medal."  Excellent.

News you can use (especially if, like me, you are a Star Wars aficionado): Star Wars lightsaber colors decoded.  In which we learn the background of the darksaber.

Baby YodaSpeaking of darksabers, isn't the Mandalorian great?  They seem to have re-found the magic recipe from the original three movies.  And awesome Baby Yoda is.

Well I've been saying this for a long time: IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries and that doesn't bode well for humanity.  Someone should write a book about this.

Well: GreenPeace Co-Founder Says ‘The Whole Climate Crisis Is Not Only Fake News, It’s Fake Science.'  I'm in the middle; human-caused climate change is happening, but it is not a crisis.  The facts are obscured by all those trying to profit from the supposed crisis.

Apropos: Scott Adams solves the climate debate and saves the world.

And here we have a stunning photo series featuring German pipe organs ... I so love these, the beauty of form and function is incredible.  When I walk into an old church, the first thing I do is walk to the middle, turn around, and look up.

German pipe organ


Teladoc += InTouch

Sunday,  01/12/20  07:59 AM


Teladoc += InTouch

Teladoc Health to acquire InTouch Health

Teladoc Health Inc. (NYSE: TDOC), the global leader in virtual care, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire InTouch Health, the leading provider of enterprise telehealth solutions for hospitals and health systems. This acquisition positions Teladoc Health as the partner of choice for health systems seeking a single solution for their entire virtual care strategy, and establishes the company as the only virtual care provider covering the full range of acuity - from critical to chronic to everyday care - through a single solution across all sites of care worldwide.

Big news!

Big for my company, for healthcare, and for the world ... also big for me. 
Please stay tuned for more.


Blogging at Buck's

Sunday,  01/12/20  05:27 PM

Buck'sHi all this afternoon finds me revisiting old haunts; I visited our old house in Los Altos (many many memories there!) and am now sitting in Buck's enjoying their maximally great chili and a new cuppa, and of course, blogging...

Gratifying and fun to see all the reactions in the blogosphere, LinkedIn-verse, and Twitter-realm to our big news about Teladoc acquiring InTouch.  Many friends from long ago have picked up this news and it's most fun to reconnect.

Of course everyone asks "what's next" and the short answer is "making the combination work".  The long answer is, um, longer.... stay tuned.

Apropos: why large-screen TVs are affordable and health care is not.  One word: competition.  And by the way, if you want to make something even more expensive, just make it free.  (Try to name one thing the government does less expensively than private enterprise...)

Gary Wolfram: Private Healthcare would be less expensive for all.  "It is important to realize the current system is not particularly market-based."

the Morning ShowJust started watching The Morning Show on Apple+ and two episodes in, enjoying in very much.  Great content seemingly comes from everywhere now; Amazon, Apple, who's next?  I like that it's relatively balanced politically and that it's realistic about TV "news".  Probably could not have come from a network.

I meant to include this in yesterday's Bitcoin note: Tim Bray: I don't believe in Bitcoin.  "Here’s the thing. I'm an old guy: I've seen wave after wave of landscape-shifting technology sweep through the IT space: Personal computers, Unix, C, the Internet and Web, Java, REST, mobile, public cloud. And without exception, I observed that they were initially loaded in the back door by geeks, without asking permission, because they got shit done and helped people with their jobs.  That's not happening with Bitcoin."  I agree with him entirely; it's cool technology, and I'm rooting for it, and so far there is not one important use case for it.

wind turbineCringley: why wind turbines have three blades.  TLDR: because they, um, do.  The whole wind turbine thing is going down in history as a giant government-subsidized scam.

Reid Hoffman: What important lessons on global entrepreneurship can be learned from Argentina?  InTouch Health has had an office in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, for 15 years, and it's been a big success for us.  I fully agree with the premise that you have to shift your perspective outside the US to address global issues ...

... like improving Healthcare!


writers' conundrum

Tuesday,  01/21/20  10:15 PM


writer's conundrum

none of that stuff gets any code written either


yellow week

Tuesday,  01/21/20  11:29 PM

yellow day Then comes a yellow week, and wheeeeeeeeeee.  I am a busy, buzzy bee.

Note to self: don't attend conferences, visit vendors, and meet with partners the week after your company is acquired.  You will not sleep.

So, how's it going?  Great, thanks for asking.  I've been busy - it's all happening! - but it's all good.  And now for a nice little filter pass...

I do try to stay away from politics, but if you didn't listen to this, you should: Trump's speech at Davos.  A pretty optimistic take.

Apropos: The distribution of the world's wealth.  Click to see a most illuminating diagram ... biggest surprise for me was Japan [still] in third place, well ahead of Germany, the UK, and France.

Brad Feld: The American Tailwind, a recounting of Warren Buffet's most recent Berkshire Hathaway annual letter.

Peter SaganVelonews stories of the decade: Peter Sagan.  Sorry Chris Froome but yes he was the best rider of the 2010s.  Three world championships in a row and six green jerseys.  And he had fun, and we did too, watching.

Congratulations!  To Mark Frauenfelder and Carla Sinclair, for 20 years of blogging at Boing Boing.  I so remember the early days of blogging, and Boing Boing was one of the first great group blogs.  And they still are...

Dave Winer: I want my old blog back.  He veered into Twitter-land, but now he's back.

Blogging pioneer Jason Kottke notes: Tim Bray is still blogging.  "The great danger is that the Web’s future is mall-like: No space really public, no storefronts but national brands’, no visuals composed by amateurs, nothing that’s on offer just for its own sake, and for love."

And one more early blogger: Jon Udell: I get to be a blogger.  Me, too :)

SpaceX DragonSpaceX are gearing up to send actual people into space; as a next step, they conducted a flawless in-flight abort test.  "Designed to prove that Crew Dragon can safely escape a failing Falcon 9 rocket at essentially any point from the launch pad to orbit, SpaceX voluntarily chose to perform a full-fidelity IFA test - blowing up a SpaceX rocket - something NASA left up to both it and Boeing."  Excellent.

From Sept, 2016: How human will colonize Mars (Elon Musk livestream).  SpaceX isn't just going to send actual people into space, they're going to land them on Mars.  What a time to be alive!

tribe sellingFrom Gilles Raymond in Jean-Louis Gassee's Monday Note: Tribe Selling.  This is a little different take on Gladwell's Tipping Point, and "influencers".

Good news: Trump administration proposes school nutrition guidelines with less fruit, vegetables.  Bring back Ding Dongs!

And a little postscript ... one of the things I missed most about not blogging was not being able to see what I would have blogged about.  And looking at those old posts, I am struck that "news of the day" doesn't last, but "interesting new things" does.  I'll try to remember that...


solar system changes

Wednesday,  01/22/20  11:21 PM


solar system changes

xkcd, of course

Well this is a great start on an interesting concept, but:

  • Don't merge Jupiter and Saturn.  They are both super cool and have amazing moons, and having two of them means twice as many.
  • I prefer Uranus to Neptune.  But agree we only need one.
  • Pluto is a planet!  It orbits the sun.  Instead of making it a moon - we already have lots of them - I'd add a mirror anti-Pluto on the other side, synchronized.  And a weird spacetime hypertunnel between them.
  • Finally, we need more stuff out of the plane of the ecliptic.  How about a planet that orbits the sun but goes around its poles?
  • And of course ... more cowbell.

What do you think?


head food

Wednesday,  01/22/20  11:30 PM

Grace SlickFilter pass...

OMG, White Rabbit Grace Slick vocals only.  Best. Voice. Ever.  Just gets better and better and if you don't have chills by the end, you're not alive.

Who is #2...  Karen Carpenter?  Barbra Streisand?  Aretha Franklin?

World population living in extreme povertyCapitalism in action.  Can your economic system do this?

Venezuela collapses, Colombia rises.  Exhibit #437.  Do we have to keep doing this experiment, when will the science be settled?

While I was not blogging, Vin Scully retired after sixty-seven years of being the best baseball announcer, ever.  He made some amazing calls ("and look who's coming up..."), but this is one of the best: he takes down an entire economic system between pitches.  "Socialism, failing to work as it always does. This time in Venezuela. You talk about giving everybody something free and all of a sudden, there’s no food to eat. And who do you think is the richest person in Venezuela? The daughter of Hugo Chavez. Hello."

Dilbert on climate science.Dilbert on climate science.  Pounds the nail directly through the wood.

From 6/1/17: Paris was yesterday.

From now: Australia's eco-fundamentalism turns to ashes.  If you'd like, you can "s/Australia/California/g".  Fires burn until they run out of stuff to burn.  Climate has nothing to do with it.

Matt Ridley: A menagerie of fallacies.  A beautiful collection, and well worth visiting from time to time...

statistical distribution of people's understanding of statistical distributionsThis is fantastic: a statistical distribution of people's understanding of statistical distributions.

University of Chicago: "we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."  Clearly at the opposite end of the spectrum from many universities; good for them.

Kansas State: "As a general rule, there is no right to not be offended."  Indeed.  I am frequently offended by those who think there is.

Department of Education?  Why?  Just another brick in the wall.

Marshall headphones ... feed your headThis filter pass brought to you by Marshall headphones.  Yes they look cool, but listen to Tommy on them with a candle burning and you'll see your entire future.  Feed your head...


already gone

Thursday,  01/23/20  07:23 PM

Brexit!An historic day!  No, not because of the weird show in the US Senate, and not even that Mr Peanut has died.  Today the UK have formerly decided to leave the EU on 1/31/20.  Say what you like about Boris Johnson, he did what his voters wanted him to do.

Nigel Farage: 20 years ago you laughed at me, you are not laughing now.

'Cause I'm already gone
And I'm feelin' strong
I will sing this vict'ry song
Woo hoo hoo

gravity warps lightDid you know  NASA have a blog?  Well they do, and it's amazingly interesting.  Take this post about How Gravity Warps Light.

But too bad all they do these days is post about spaceflight; time was, they built and flew spaceships.  Now the best they can do is fund others who do so...

NASA: That time we flew past Pluto.  They are entitled to the "we", but all their unmanned missions are run by Caltech's JPL.

NASA: Curiosity Rover: Five Years on Mars.  A great post filled with the science from the mission.  But before that we had...

... the Opportunity to Rove on Mars.  In which a 90-day mission lasted 15 years.

Cassini mission to SaturnNASA: Cassini spacecraft: Top discoveries.  A fantastic mission and who can get enough of those amazing pictures of Saturn...

... even more ultra-close orbits of Saturn.

SpaceX: Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species.

An incredible video of what it's like to orbit the Earth for 90 minutes:

Orbit the Earth for 90 minutes



Saturday,  01/25/20  09:22 PM

Clayton CristensenClayton Christensen, 1953-2020: How will you measure your life?

Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.

mercator vs true sizeHow will you measure country size?  Clever map shows true size of continents.  Biggest winners: African and South America.  Biggest losers: Canada, US, and Russia.  (click to enbiggen.)

US Space Force logoThe new Space Force logo sure looks like the Starfleet logo.  Awesome.


Pantone 448C: ugliest color in the worldPantone 448C is the ugliest color in the world.  So be it.  "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we can all agree on ugly."

93-Year Old Man Wins a Storytelling Contest With a Hilarious Story About His Valentines in 1933.  A beautiful story, well told.  Do you remember to whom you gave valentines 60 years ago?

Josh Newman: Bootleg.  "In retrospect, it’s clear that people were stealing music because that was the only way to get it online. As digital album sales data demonstrate, once they were able to buy music digitally, people flocked to that option in droves."

Ottmar Leibert: Opting Out.  "Things are not going well in the music industry…. That’s an understatement. The truth is that things are pretty screwed up in the music industry… That’s also an understatement!"

Jamie Zawinski: MP3 is finally free. "MP3 is supported by everything, everywhere, and is now patent-free. There has never been another audio format as widely supported as MP3, it's good enough for almost anything, and now, over twenty years since it took the world by storm, it's finally free."

Matthew Inman: You're not going to believe what I'm about to tell you.  Another beautiful story, well told.

Mathhew Inman: Listen



fish vs fishing

Sunday,  01/26/20  06:33 PM


80+ Federal programs spending $1T/year

(click to enbiggen)

This is rather a remarkable collection (thanks Gerard van der Leun).  It looks a lot more like giving people fish than teaching people to fish, even if some of the fish are given in the guise of teaching.  It most definitely vears into mutilated beggar territory, in which bad behavior is rewarded by "help".  So what is the answer?



Sunday,  01/26/20  08:43 PM

family treeHad a nice quiet day having lunch with my granddaughter and mother.  So cute together.

John Favini in Slate: What if competition isn't as "natural" as we think?  An interesting think piece but sadly misses the rather obvious truth that collaboration *is* a way to compete.

Jason Kottke: The story of two monks and a woman.  A beautiful little fable.

JPEG2000!Heh, this was a literal LOL for me; I spent years working on JPEG2000.  And it was great for digital pathology images; qualitatively better than JPEG.  But... standard browsers do not support it, so...

(BTW the xkcd image is a JPEG :)

Can you solve the two-fuse puzzle?  "Imagine that you're making a magic potion. You're a wizard with a long beard. But - the potion only works if you wait exactly 45 minutes before you stir it. If you stir it before or after the potion's totally ruined. You don't have a smartphone. You don't have a watch. You don't have any kind of time measuring device. What you have is two fuses of irregular consistency. The one thing you know for a fact is that it takes an hour for each of these fuses to burn from one end to the other. How do you use these to measure exactly 45 minutes?"  I'm a sucker for these ... stay tuned!

[Update: solved!]

paper airplanes!Paper airplanes.  Excellent. 
In which once again it is shown, that design flourishes in the presence of constraints...

Seth Godin: toward the honest job interview.

  • The candidate thinks, “I really need this job.”
  • The hiring manager thinks, “I'm tired of this, I really need to fill this job.”
  • As a result, the candidate says what he thinks will get him hired.
  • As a result, the hiring manager isn't really listening, not really.

It's so critical to hire the right people.  And so hard.

the mohawk-wearing fishHad me at hello:  Rare, Mohawk-Wearing Fish Discovered ‘Walking’ on Seafloor.

Joel Spolsky: the Stack Overflow age.  I've known Joel since his Joel-on-Software days, before his Citydesk days (and yes, this blog is *still* made with Citydesk), and Stack Overflow is just about the best thing ever.  Remember the days before you could Google for the answer to any technical question?  I do, and they were ... not as good.

Apropos: RIP Citydesk.

Jeff Atwood (Joel's partner for Stack Overflow): Let's encrypt everything.  I've always thought there was no reason to encrypt access to this blog ... but maybe ... I should?

Rosetta discJamie Zawinksi: offsite backup.  The Rosetta Disc is now safely installed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  "In 2014 the Rosetta Probe landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it measured the comet's molecular composition.  It will remain at rest as the comet orbits the sun for hundreds of millions of years. So somewhere in the solar system, where it is safe but hard to reach, a backup sample of human languages is stored, in case we need one."  Good to know.

Powerline: better living through chemistry, the settled science.  GMOs are one of the miracles of the world, like vaccines; we've figured out how to feed way more people and have way fewer infectious diseases.  Like nuclear power, it's a complete mystery why environmentalists have ended up on the wrong side of this issue.  It's almost like they don't care about the science, they just want to be mad about something...

"Hope" the baby KoalaFinally, in the wake of Australia's terrible bushfire season: "Hope" is born at Zoo Miami.  "For the third time in the zoo’s history and the first time in over 28 years, a surviving koala has been born at the zoo!! Though the actual “birth” took place on May 30th of last year, it was only yesterday that the joey (baby koala) first came completely out of the pouch!"




iPad turns 10

Thursday,  01/30/20  10:33 PM

iPad!Wow, so the iPad is now ten years old!

So interesting to go back and read what I wrote about it at the time, and the day after pundit reactions.  I don't think anyone was wrong exactly, but the value of a device like this halfway between a phone and a laptop was not clearly understood.  I myself thought that it would be "a computer for the rest of us", but since I already had a laptop, I would never use one.  Heh.  I use mine all the time, and very often - with a keyboard (thank you Brydge) - instead of a laptop.  And my prediction that it would replace the Kindle came true.

The one thing that has gone way off script is the value of iPad applications.  As John Gruber notes, "Apple set the standard that highly complex, innovative software that was only possible on the iPad could only ever earn 5 bucks from a customer forever."  You would not have predicted that 10 years ago, and it seems so weird.  I remember not too long ago desktop software cost hundreds of dollars, and people happily paid it.  Now seems like everything has to be "free".

Parenthetically Gruber has been writing about multitasking on the iPad and boy is that a mess.  Truly horrible UI design.  Even after you successfully get two apps side-by-side, it doesn't work the way you wish it did.  It's impossible to believe Steve Jobs would have let this ship.


Thursday,  01/30/20  10:53 PM

AR hyper-reality in actionFilter pass ... I'm sick, so calibrate accordingly (*cough*) ...

This is pretty great: AR takes over a person's life in 'hyper-reality'.  It could be a glimpse into the not-to-distant future.  Yikes.

xkcd: what's the worst that could happen?xkcd considers upgrading: What's the worst that could happen?

I love Dropbox but they just auto-updated the Windows client and now it runs at 50% CPU all the time.  I lowered the priority but it makes the fan run.  C'mon people let's get us some QA, hmmm?

Jason Kottke: the greatest chess game ever played.  I don't know about greatest, but the explanation from MatoJelic is most entertaining.  It's so weird that there is so much drama possible from such an apparently simple or perhaps I should say constrained game.

Flatland!Good news!  Flatland is non-contextual.  Whew.

Ever wonder: What exactly does a product manager do all day, anyway?  It's hard to define but you know it when you see it ... or when you don't.

Seth Godin: beware the gulf of disapproval.  "As your new idea spreads, most people who hear about it will dislike it."  If you're okay with that, you might be a product manager.

xkcd: code qualityanother from xkcd: code quality 3.  Another attempt to one-up my code reviews.  But actually it just gives me some good ammunition :)

John Gruber: the gambler who cracked the horse racing code.  TL;DR: improve pari-mutual betting odds by applying a large database of results based on about 20 factors, such as rest days since last race.

Whoa: Boring company's first Las Vegas tunnel poised for February completion.  That's not boring at all :)

Maybe they should be recruited to save the high-speed rail line between San Francisco and LA, which now turns out to be a low speed line between Merced and Bakersfield.

paper airplane gunHere we have the PFM-A5, a 3D-printed paper airplane gun that fires 120 planes per minute.  Some would say "why?", but I would say "awesome!"

SpaceX: liftoff!SpaceX report: liftoff!  That's another 60 StarLink satellites in orbit, ho hum.  And the first stage landed successfully on the drone ship again, ho hum.  This is starting to be like watching 747s take off and land, isn't it?

One thing that's not ho hum, they caught half of the nosecone.  No doubt they'll figure out this part also; those fairings cost $6M, so it's worth the effort.

Okay, off to a medicated sleep, wish me luck...!



Friday,  01/31/20  10:24 PM

Brexit!Congrats to our friends across the pond on Brexit.  I don't know how it will turn out and nobody does, but the will of the British people has been carried out.  Onward!

Spent a pleasant day sick, working from home.  I optimized a little database to make many functions nearly 10X faster.  Sometimes you just need a change of scenery.

Spitzer Space TelescopeGoodbye to the Spitzer Space Telescope, after an amazing sixteen year mission.  Incredible views like this one from the infrared spectrum have been the result.  (click to enbiggen amazingly).

Well this is sad news: Aston Martin won't release EVs until it's financial stable.  I was kind of hoping the e-Rapide would be the first non-Tesla which was as awesome as a Tesla.  (The Porsche Taycan is close.)  The biggest problem in 2020 with owning a Tesla is that everyone owns a Tesla, and who wants what everyone else has?

Powerline: Great news for fracking!  California's last nuke to close.  The Diablo Canyon power plant produced 2X more power than all the solar plants in California.  The only way to replace that production is with ... natural gas.  So yeah, we are trading a clean energy source for a dirtier one, and there's no lipstick which makes this pig look better.  I've become convinced environmentalists are more concerned with political change than with the environment.

Cirrus personal jetUp in the air with Cirrus Vision, a single-engine "personal jet".  The secret is whole-aircraft parachute technology, which allows single-engine jets to be considered "safe".  At just $2M this is way less expensive than other personal jets.  Wheeee.  I want one.

Wired: An oral history of Infinite Loop.

The Morning ShowSo we finished the Morning Show's 10 episodes, and now have to wait until November to get next season.  I thought it was great, and cannot wait...

And so ends blogging in January, my 25th post of the year.  So far so good, and already better than the last three years and two others.  Onward!


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this date in:
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