Critical Section

Archive: February 23, 2017

 

Archive: February 21, 2016

Going Gaga over Bowie

Sunday,  02/21/16  11:04 AM

A Saturday night filter pass ... wow, it's all happening ...

2016 Grammy's: Lady Gaga's tribute to David BowieDid you watch the Grammy's?  Yeah, me neither.  I love music, but I don't necessarily love all of today's music, and I especially don't love today's music's culture.  But.  If you, like me, did not watch the Grammy's, you must still watch Lady Gaga's incredible tribute to David Bowie.  A wonderful performance, and the technology was out-of-this-world.  The Thin White Duke would have loved it...  and he probably did.

Good to know: Lady Gaga's robotic keyboard had some help from NASA.  When they're not making space travel posters, they're helping musicians create cool performances.  Our tax dollars at work.

NASA: astronautI don't know whether it was the travel posters, Lady Gaga's keyboard, or [more likely!] the success of The Martian, but NASA have been inundated with astronaut applications, 18,300 of them.  Mine is somewhere in that pile, but I'm not sitting next to the phone.

Virgin Galactic VSS UnityMeanwhile in the real world of space travel, Virgin Galactic unveils the new Space Ship Two (named the VSS Unity).  You might recall their previous SST broke apart during an October 2014 test flight; they've regrouped, and now this is the vehicle they hope will enable them to take people into space.  (Where by space, they mean, about 100km up, not necessarily visiting moons and planets...) 

I rate a "space flight" by Virgin Galactic significantly more likely to occur than a manned mission by NASA...

So ... today we had the South Carolina primaries, and as expected Donald Trump won, but as perhaps not expected Marco Rubio finished second, and Jeb Bush dropped out.  At the conservative Powerline Blog, Scott Johnson regards this as bad news (because Trump remains ahead), while John Hinderaker sees reasons for optimism (because Rubio is emerging as they alternative).

And Scott Adams finds reasons for humor ... the Pope vs Donald Trump:

Scott Adams: the Pope vs Donald Trump 

Speaking of humor, wow, Steve Martin performed stand-up last night for the first time in 35 years.  Would that I could have been there...  I've searched YouTube in vain but so far no video of the performance has surfaced.

how a sewing machine works!You might find this interesting (as I did), how a sewing machine works.  This sort of ancient mechanical magic is always cool, right?  The problems that people were able to solve without computers before computers...

Chris Nuttall on publishers raising e-book prices: Reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  "I recall a story from the night the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank. The crew, realizing the ship was in trouble, started launching lifeboats, but the passengers were largely reluctant to believe that the unsinkable ship could actually be sunk. Accordingly, the first set of lifeboats were largely empty. Unsurprisingly, as the ship continued to sink below the waves, there weren't enough lifeboats to take the remaining passengers."  The value of a book doesn't come from its production cost, but people will balk at paying the same prices for e-books as hardcovers...


And here we have a breathtaking fairytale home worthy of a Hogwarts wizard.  The woodworking on those floors is definitely wizard-ly magic :)

fairytale house worthy of a Hogwarts wizard

 

Apple HAL

Sunday,  02/21/16  06:47 PM

 

perfect

 

 
 

Archive: February 23, 2015

Monday,  02/23/15  10:22 PM

Crescent Dunes solar power plantDo you know what this is?  Depending on your point of view, it's either a solar power station, or a serious threat to birds.  JWZ reports this battle station is now fully operational.

If you're a frequent reader you know I think solar power stations like this are ridiculous, not because of their danger to birds, but because of their inefficiency; if there were no subsidies available they would be uneconomical and would never be built.  Solar power makes sense for heating water on rooftops, but not for generating electricity.

From John at Desk: thoughts on distribution.  "I have historically and naively believed in the if you build it they will come sentiment around building great apps and making them work as a business and I now know, without a shadow of a doubt, that having anything close to that attitude and perspective is the easiest way to through away time, effort, and a ton of money."  Amen.

He quotes Peter Thiel in Zero to One: It's better to think of distribution as something essential to the design of your product.  Yep.

should you be a startup CEO?VC Mark Suster asks: Should you be a startup CEO?  A really good discussion about the personal economics as well as the other considerations.

John Gruber: On the pricing of Apple Watch.  Everyone seems to agree the gold Apple Watch Edition models will be expensive - thousands of dollars - but nobody can agree on just how many thousands.  My vote goes for $4,999.  Based on trying to get a mass market, not on trying to maximize profit.

Apple Watch Edition gold caseRelated: I think if Apple make the case reusable / innards upgradeable it will help their sales tremendously.  Everyone knows there will be a Watch 2, a Watch 2S, a Watch 3, etc., and if that means you'll only get one year out of your $5,000 investment it will restrict the market significantly.  On the other hand, being able to upgrade the innards every year and keep the watch case for a while would be quite different.

 

digital darkroom

Monday,  02/23/15  10:41 PM

Adobe Photoshop turns 25Cannot believe it but Adobe Photoshop is now 25 years old.  Co-creator Thomas Knoll reflects: Dreams from my Digital Darkroom.

I've been using Photoshop for a long time now ... remember Kai's Power Tools? ... and my current active version is (sigh) v6.01, from 2001.  (Hey, it works!)  Can't honestly believe there was ever imaging life before Photoshop.

It's not often that a software tool becomes a verb :)

Onward!

 
 

Archive: February 23, 2014

Sochi!

Sunday,  02/23/14  11:30 PM

Tonight the Sochi Winter Olympics came to a close, and I have to say I thought they were great.  The opening ceremony, the competition, the NBC coverage (!), I loved all of it.  And the closing ceremony was way cool too.  Here's some screen grabs, in case you missed it :)

Amazing that this stadium was built specifically for the opening and closing ceremonies,
no athletic events were hosted there.  Wonder what it shall be used for now?

Beautiful.  The projected water was flowing.

My favorite part.  How great that the organizers did this, in a nod to the ring which didn't open
during the opening ceremonies.  Russians with a sense of humor, who knew?

The athletes file in

Russian visual art

Chagall!  With upside down houses, of course.
("happiness is not happiness without a guitar-playing goat")

The ballet

Writers!  And poets!

A blizzard of paper

The Olympic flag is handed over to South Korea

The Russian hall of mirrors ("reflections on the games")

Misha blows out the Olympic flame

And the exterior flame is extinguished also (*sniff*)

A steampunk airship wraps things up

Goodbye Sochi!

And so now we have to wait two years until the next Olympic Games, in Brazil, and four years until the next Winter Games in South Korea.  Boo.  I can't wait!

 
 

Archive: February 23, 2013

 

Archive: February 23, 2012

 

Archive: February 19, 2011

blogging while high, again

Saturday,  02/19/11  11:07 PM

blogging while highOn the road again... starting with a whirlwind one-day trip to Orlando, to attend the HIMSS conference, before spending the week with Aperio's sales team in Vista.  I am presently high above ... Arizona? ... en route; thank you Delta for the WiFi.  Whew.  (Does this count as cloud computing? :)  I did manage to have a productive morning; cranked out some stuff I've been waiting to finish for weeks.

Please do not mention the word "compliance" to me.  Just ... don't.

And so I am off!  And meanwhile, this:

federal spending vs jobsPowerline: what the house did last night.  That graph of federal spending vs total jobs is rather scary.  So much for the stimulus, huh?  And meanwhile we are left with a crushing debt.

Wired in 1997: how to save ApplePretty amazing: A detailed follow up to Wired's "101 Ways to Save Apple" from 1997.  I remember that issue well, and I remember thinking "why does everyone always have so much advice for Apple?"  And it is still true today; even now, as the most successful tech company on Earth, everyone is always telling them what to do.  Even me :)

Apropos: Apple in the Sky with Diamonds: A cloud-based safe deposit box.  I love the title (!) but also the discussion; so many people are now saying that the next iPhone/iPod whatever will not have local storage, but will instead rely on cloud servers.  I don't think so.  Apple is all about the product experience, and accessing your information "in the cloud" is a lousy experience.

The AOL way claims its first victim: Engadget editor Paul Miller resigns.  Wow, too bad.  I love Engager, I hope this doesn't mean the start of a slow decline, but I fear it does...

is this how the Escher Waterfall Machine works? (clever!)So, is this how the Escher Waterfall Machine works?  You have to see the linked video, pretty amazing, even if it isn't "real".  How cool is that?  (BTW the reverse engineering is clever; even if it isn't right, it's a good guess!)

cutest ZooBorn ever? : a baby TapirWow this could be the cutest ZooBorn ever: a baby Tapir.  Awww.

Oh, yeah, we survived the invasion!  In fact it all went amazingly well.  A great group of kids had a great time.  How great is that?

 
 

Archive: February 22, 2010

never get mad

Monday,  02/22/10  08:40 AM

A parable told me by a Spanish friend and partner:

A young man set out to find the best examples he could for living.  He heard of a man who was older than the hills themselves, living quietly in peace with his surroundings.  He sought far and wide for this man, and finally found him.  "Oh father," he said, "I wish to learn all I can.  Please tell me, what is the secret to your long life?"  The old man studied him for a long moment.  "I never get mad."

 
 

Archive: February 23, 2009

Monday,  02/23/09  10:24 PM

A busy day of work, multitasking around four things and getting none of them done :(  At least I escaped for a nice bike ride tonight up the beach in Carlsbad, across into Oceanside, and then down through Vista.  Oh, and I had a nice steak, served by a nice waitress :)

But meanwhile, in the blogosphere it's all happening...

I guess this is really going to happen: US eyes large stake in Citi.  Who would have ever thought we'd get to the point of nationalizing banking?  Wow.

While major stock market indices fall to 1997 levels.  Sigh.

And three out of four Americans are scared about the economy.  Include me in the three.

Wall-E: best picture?Daring Fireball thinks Wall-E should have won Best Picture.  I didn't see all the others - not even Slumdog Millionaire, which I would potentially find interesting - but I have to admit, I liked Wall-E a lot.  Perhaps it is time to stop separating "animated" films from "live action", especially since these days so much live actions is enhanced with CGI.

Another apparent shortcoming of the Oscars: failure to recognize Dark Knight.

I worry about this too: How many links are too many links?  Is too much not enough, or is less more?  I find I am linking a lot these days, perhaps because I'm following a lot.  Hmmm...

Google is too big to be lovedNYTimes: Everyone loves Google, until it's too big.  Absolutely true.  I remember when they were a cute startup with a funky name across the parking lot from Intuit in Mountain View.  They were pretty lovable back then...

mission: the moons of JupiterCool!  NASA and ESA to send next big mission to moons of Jupiter.  Seems like science fiction, doesn't it?

Interesting advice from Brad Feld: How to check your VC's pulse.  "three questions: 1) What year (vintage) is your fund?  2) Have you raised a new fund since you invested in our company?  3) When are you planning to raise a new fund?"  Interesting...

Tomorrow's workday, tonight: Michael Lewis talks about his writing process.  "I've written in awful enough situations that I know that the quality of the prose doesn't depend on the circumstance in which it is composed. I don't believe the muse visits you. I believe that you visit the muse. If you wait for that "perfect moment" you're not going to be very productive."  Equally as true for coding as writing in English :)  [ via kottke ]

lit lightbulb being brokenHere we have an awesome picture of a lit lightbulb being broken.  In the very act.  Check it out!

nuclear duct-tape!You know how you can fix almost anything with duct-tape?  Well for those rare cases where it doesn't work, you can always try nuclear duct-tape...  I am not making this up.

 
 

Archive: February 23, 2008

Saturday,  02/23/08  06:54 PM

Levi and me - on TV!I'm back!  After two hectic and wonderful days of watching the Tour of California...  Friday I was at the Solvang Time Trial (check out that pic, yeah, that's me applauding Levi Leipheimer on TV), and today I rode to Balcom Canyon to watch the Peleton blow up that unbelievable 18% climb.  Levi came through at the Solvang TT, and now has a solid lead overall.  Nothing is better than a nice ride up a beautiful canyon, then sitting there with thousands of other fans watching a pro peleton demolish the same canyon.  Anyway it was really fun.  Now, back to work!

The Macbook Air is getting a lot of well-deserved "air time" for its amazing design, but Tom's Hardware wonders Has Lenovo created the "perfect" laptop?  "In many ways, the X300 is a much more practical version of a new category of notebook computer we saw launched with the visually aggressive and less compromising Macbook Air and the idea Lenovo has come up with suggests that a new 'Perfect' notebook for our time is approaching quickly and turning into a moving target."  So be it, but great design wins every time...

"great design" posterSpeaking of great design, check out the winners of the "what is graphic design" competition, on Veerle's Blog.  They really are awesome!  [ via Daring Fireball ]  My own favorite entry is shown at left.

colored atomsThis is pretty cool: ScienceDaily reports New Electron Microscope Identifies Individual Color-coded Atoms.  "A new electron microscope recently installed in Cornell's Duffield Hall is enabling scientists for the first time to form images that uniquely identify individual atoms in a crystal and see how those atoms bond to one another. And in living color."  The pic at right shows four different edges in an artificially layered material, with the atoms' colors showing the characteristics of their bonds.

I'm going to guess that the scientists at Cornell who are using this device are not overly concerned with the moral implications of doing so :)

 
 

Archive: February 23, 2007

 

Archive: February 23, 2006

Thursday,  02/23/06  08:51 PM

One of my favorite bloggers is Joshua Newman.  We've never met - had one conversation over the 'phone, and several in email - but somehow I feel I know him.  Anyway Josh runs Cyan Pictures, an indie film producer, and he recently told me he'd send me some DVDs.  Of course I ragged him about not posting them online instead, and he pointed out the "living room problem"; how to get that MP4 from your PC to your TV.  And he's right; the movie watching experience in my office on my PC is 100% different than the movie watching experience in my family room on my TV.  And although I have every gadget known to man, the only way I currently have of solving the "living room problem" is to physically take my laptop into the family room and plug it into my receiver.  Which is just hard enough that I seldom do it.  So what's the answer?  Clearly someone has the solution to this problem?

Floyd LandisTour of California - Big Sur coastlineFloyd Landis won the stage 3 time trial of the Tour of California, taking the overall lead as well, and then held it through stage 4, and most observers think he's going to win.  Check out these awesome pictures of the Tour along the Big Sur coastline.  Excellent.

We could call this "Pluto strikes back".  After seemingly daily discoveries of new Kuiper belt objects which cast doubt on Pluto's planetary status, Hubble confirms new moons of Pluto.

Today's economic lesson, courtesy of Eric Raymond: Outsourcing breeds more jobs.  "Is there, like, some cosmic law that reporters have to be poisonously ignorant about economics?  Of course outsourcing stimulates domestic demand. Increases in efficiency and better exploitation of comparative advantage do that."  Indeed.

Here's more economics, courtesy of Scott Adams Dilbert:

Dogbert explains "fungible" to Dilbert

[ via The Horses Mouth, who notes: "Sunday's Dilbert demonstrates more literacy about international energy markets than anything that the White House, NRDC, MoveOn, or Tom Friedman has ever published." ]

Apple's iTunes store sold its one billionth song yesterday.  Excellent.  Remember when it started?  I do.  Who would have thought it would be this successful?  I did.

For more, see this post on Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin.

Here's some non-news: Dutch found to be most computer literate in world.  "Residents of the Netherlands, armed with a tax break for computer purchases and some of Europe's lowest broadband fees, lead the world in the use of personal computers and the Internet, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts released Tuesday."  Take that, Korea!

Clive Thompson wonders Do iPods help Olympic athletes perform better?  Of course they do!  "The music, says snowboarder Dustin Majewski, helps him stay in the zone: 'It enables you to focus on what you're doing without actually focusing, if that makes any sense'."  Makes sense to me.

HAL 9000 memory unitUp until now I have resisted the urge to get a USB thumb drive.  I know they're cute and all, and possibly useful once in a while, but it just hasn't been compelling.  Up until now.  Here we have the HAL 9000 memory unit.  I am not making this up, and I want one.

 

 
 

Archive: February 21, 2005

Monday,  02/21/05  10:14 PM

I had a good day today, thanks for asking.  One of those days where you clean up a lot of loose ends, and feel virtuous as a result...

"the world" - an island development opportunityHere we have "The World", 300 islands in the shape of the world, a unique investment opportunity.  Amazing.  You, too, could own California - or France.  Check it out!  [ via Tom Coates ]

"the Posiden" - underwater hotelIn the same vein, here we have "The Poseidon", a five-star $1,500 per night hotel under water in the Bahamas.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

John Stanforth: Why do we overcommit?  Read it all, but essentially, we are better at measuring tangible resources than we are intangibles like time.  Oh.

Yippee the Economist has RSS feeds.  Welcome to the party, boys.  This is one of the few magazines left that adds value; I look forward to getting updates in between issues.  And stay tuned for links :)

For a typically insightful articles, consider The Economics of Sharing.  "Economists have not always found it easy to explain why self-interested people would freely share scarce, privately owned resources.  Their understanding, though, is much clearer than it was 20 or 30 years ago: co-operation, especially when repeated, can breed reciprocity and trust, to the benefit of all."  There is no such thing as altruism, but enlightened self-interest is another story...

Flash kaleidoscopeThis is pretty cool, a kaleidoscopic use of Flash.  Move your mouse back and forth for extra weirdness.  Kinda makes you want to inhale, doesn't it :)  [ via collision detection, in a link titled "dude" ]

parallel linesIf you like that, you might enjoy this graphic, too.  Just too weird what your brain does after it gets the signal from your eyes, huh?

Thrasymachus at GNXP considers The Flynn Debate.  "Possibilities: 1) The Flynn Effect is based on bad data.  2) The Flynn Effect tracks non-g rises in IQ.  3) The Flynn Effect measures a rise in g. Therefore better environments improve g a lot.  4) The entire concept of g is somehow faulty  5) The entire concept of IQ is somehow faulty."  I like (1), but he likes (3).  I'm pretty sure g is not that tied to environment...

Basketball.  Whoa.  [ Via Jane Galt, via Marginal Revolution, via Ottmar Liebert. ]

Via Dave Winer, Howard Greenstein links the User's Guide to the Brain.  Looks like a cool book, I've one-clicked it.  I have a brain, but I never got the user's guide.  I guess I'm one of those people who never read the manual.  It would be nice to hit F1 for online help once in a while :)

 

wish you were here

Monday,  02/21/05  10:48 PM

From Steven Wright:

A friend of mine once sent me a post card with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space.  On the back it said, "Wish you were here."

Every so often, I like to stick my head out the window, look up, and smile for a satellite picture.

I'm moving to Mars next week, so if you have any boxes...

I have a map of the United States... Actual size.  It says, "Scale: 1 mile = 1 mile."  I spent last summer folding it.  I also have a full-size map of the world.  I hardly ever unroll it.  People ask me where I live, and I say, "E6".

You can't have everything.  Where would you put it?

When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.

tap, tap.  crash :)

 
 

Archive: February 23, 2004

 

Archive: February 23, 2003

Who Are You - Survey

Sunday,  02/23/03  12:27 AM

Please see who are you for an introduction to my hypothetical readers.  And please tell me...

Who are you? 

The scientist.  I am well-informed, open-minded, and skeptical.
50%

The philosopher.  I have thought about this and have a point of view.
18%

The politician.  I have an agenda.  The ideas must be simple.
2%

The blogger.  I am smart, outspoken, and thoughtful.  And I'm online. 
13%

I am somebody else...

15%

total votes = 182

  (ended 04/30/03)

 

Who Are You?

Sunday,  02/23/03  10:47 AM

[Moments pass.  Ms. X and I stand there, the elevator door hanging open.  I wait...  She makes her decision.  She doesn't look at me, she just strides out of the elevator.  I begin to follow.  Suddenly she stops, reaches into her pocketbook, and pulls out her card.]

X: "Call me." (Crisp, businesslike.)
O: "Sure!" (Totally un-businesslike, I'm afraid.)
X: "I want to know who's going to read your book."

[Then she turns away and disappears into the lobby, leaving me standing agape.  Okay, that was good.  That was very good.  But now what?  I've thought about my intended audience - who I want to read this book - but who will read it?]

... three days later ...

[I call X Books, and ask for Ms. X.  After negotiating with her secretary, he puts me through...]

X: "Hello?"
O: "Uh, hello!  You asked me to call, so, er, I'm calling." (Off to a bad start.)
X: "Oh, yes...  the book about human intelligence.  Thank you for calling.  I think your project has... potential.  (Every book is a project, every project has potential.  How much potential?  That's the question.)

X: "So please tell me, really, who will read your book?"  (I sense a smile.)
O: "Um - yeah." (Four years of college, and I sound like a valley girl.)  "First, I'll tell you who I think will read my book.  Then, I'll tell you who I hope will read my book - the people for whom I'm writing..."

O: "Okay, let's take the 'I think will read it' group.  At the center are the people who read every book in this space.  They read Dawkins, Gould, and Dennett.  They read Sterelny.  They think Pinker is great.  They hate Lewontin but they read him anyway.  They actually read The Bell Curve instead of just complaining about it.  They're the core group, and they'll be all over this."
X: "Doesn't sound like a very big group..."  (She's right, it isn't.  Carry on.)
O: "Well, that's true.  You might call these the early adopters of new science memes.  But they are smart, influential people, and if they like something or think it is interesting, they'll spread the word.  So if I can write a book they think is worthwhile, they'll get the buzz started."
X: "Hmmm...  Anyone else?"  (She's disappointed.  Of course.  A book for science nerds!)

O: "Memes spread from early adopters in several directions.  There are academics who are professionally interested in genetics, human intelligence, sociology, and politics.  If they hear about this book, they will give it a try.  There are intellectual philosophers who are professional pundits - radio personalities, columnists, politicians, other writers.  They pick up interesting themes and spin them, looking for validation of their points of view.  They will read the book.  There are smart people everywhere who are thoughtful about humanity and enjoy debate on topics of interest, particularly ideas which affect the future.  They may read it.  And finally, there are journalists looking for controversy.  Any applications of science to human intelligence seem to attract their attention.  I'm afraid they will jump on this.  They may not read the book - but they'll skim it looking for an angle."
X: "Yes, that's true, isn't it?"  (She's beginning to warm up!)

O: "Now let me describe the 'I hope will read it' group.  I mentally picture three hypothetical readers, a scientist, a philosopher, and a politician:

  • The scientist is well-informed, open-minded, and skeptical.  She will reject any poor logic or unsupported assumptions.  She wants data, not opinions.  In the end, a well-reasoned argument will please and intrigue her.
  • The philosopher is also well-informed, but is not open-minded.  He will have thought about this already, and has a point of view.  He will be intensely critical of arguments which oppose his views, but even more so of poor arguments in favor; only solid logic will please him.
  • The politician is not well-informed, nor open-minded, nor skeptical.  She has an agenda.  She will evaluate the book's ideas carefully, and spin them to her advantage.  For her the concepts are key, the ideas must be simple and the arguments easily grasped.

X: "Fascinating...  How will you know if you're reaching these people?"  (Good question!)

O: "I enjoy reading weblogs and have started a little 'blog of my own.  It is tough to generalize, but bloggers tend to be smart, outspoken, and thoughtful.  I'm really hoping the blogosphere will like my book.  So I've added a fourth hypothetical reader, a blogger - someone who is intelligent, analytical, well-read, interested in the world, and who might well visit my 'blog.  In fact, I'm posting parts of my book online and soliciting as much feedback as I can from the online community."
X: "What an unusual idea.  Very interesting."
O: "The great thing is that the other three hypothetical readers are likely to be online as well.  They might even visit my site."  (They might even be reading this, right now :)
X: "I'd like to hear more about your project, maybe run it by some friends of mine.  Could you send me a brief synopsis?"  (Excellent.  She's definitely interested!)
O: "I've written a tentative outline, which I'd be happy to share.  What's your email address?"

[Well, that went great.  And thanks for visiting, I couldn't have done it without you.  In fact, you're the reason for the whole project.  So tell me, who are you - would you mind taking a survey?]

[Please see In the Elevator and Baby Steps if you have no idea what's going on here...]


© 2003-2017 Ole Eichhorn

 
 

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