Archive: April 9, 2024

eclipse pics

Tuesday,  04/09/24  09:02 AM

If you were hiding yesterday (or perhaps on your lear jet to Nova Scotia), you might have missed that we had a solar eclipse.  I won't be the 1,000th site to share pics - though they were supercool - but thought these reactions were great:

from the incomparable xkcd, a perfect take

and loved this, from the Oatmeal

 
 

Archive: April 1, 2023

inauthenticity

Saturday,  04/01/23  07:56 PM

<rant>

If you've been around here at all, you know: I hate dislike woke-ness.  So, why?

I have asked myself this question too.

It isn't that I disagree with much of woke-ness dogma, although I do. 

My fundamental challenge with many "woke" ideas is that I don't believe government action is the best way to handle them.  But I recognize the contra points of view and will happily engage on them.

My dislike stems from the inauthenticity of woke-ness.  It's virtue signaling; most wokies* don't understand the issues, haven't actually thought about them much, but have absorbed prevailing wisdom and eagerly parrot it in order to show that they, too, are a "good" person.  Does it make them feel better about themselves?  Maybe.  And maybe that's the attraction.

One tell is that wokies* reject facts which don't fit their narrative.  If you think X, and you encounter a fact which is ~X, what do you do?  Do you inquire about the fact?  Do you process it and maybe come up with X'?  Or do you simply reject the fact? 

* is wokie a word?  No.  Should it be?  Yes.

I often refer back to an incredibly insightful ontology of ways to disagree, from Paul Graham: 

  • DH0.  Name-calling.
  • DH1.  Ad hominem.
  • DH2.  Responding to tone.
  • DH3.  Contradiction.
  • DH4.  Counterargument.
  • DH5.  Refutation.
  • DH6.  Refutation of the central point.

Wokies rarely engage on the facts, even if there are legitimate arguments available; instead they go for contradiction, ad hominem, and name calling.  And there is an even weaker response: silencing the source  This is happening all over, and is even institutionalized.

My central gripe isn't with these people's actions, it's with their intent.  I have many friends with whom I disagree, and I have no challenge with their disagreement if it is authentic.

On this day, April 1, we encounter a lot of falsehood for the sake of humor.  And that's great.  I've never laughed harder or enjoyed myself more on account of some of it.  You might say this is authentic falsehood.

Unfortunately and irritatingly, our public discourse has moved strongly toward inauthentic falsehood.  We say things we know are not true and act upon them, because others will agree, and we'll feel better about ourselves.

The other day I mentioned nut picking, "acting as if the craziest people in any group represent the group".  This is not authentic.

I wish the pendulum will swing back, but I'm not optimistic.  I see several parallel gradients that reinforce inauthentic behavior, locking it in.  The antidote is to question everything.  Not just on April 1, but every other day.

</rant>

 

April not-Fools

Saturday,  04/01/23  08:34 PM

Happy April not-Fools!  The one day of the year on which we are not fools, because we don't believe everything we read.  (Every other day, "it's on the Internet, it must be true!)

This prank was my favorite, from Secret Los Angeles: no more Dodger Dogs!  The comment thread on Facebook is priceless; half the posters are horrified, the other half are earnestly correcting the first half.  Personally I had a hot dog to celebrate :)

I went sailing today, gorgeous, sunny and breezy, actual heat.  Nicest day in about five months.  Spring has *finally* sprung. 

Waay back in 2012, I posted Moved ... to Facebook.  In 2011 I became a daily Facebook poster.  Weird to think that was a thing.  But it's interesting to think about why it's not a thing.  You can do just about anything on Facebook you can do on a blog; post pictures, text, link to things; and there are Likes, and Comments, and all kinds of infrastructure.  But it's not a thing, is it?  In no way was that the same as posting here.  So be it. 

Another oldie, from 2008: the lost art of desk checking.  That was fifteen years ago, so if it was dead then, it is surely dead now?  Um, no.  For example, for the desk programs for my series on CUDA and GPUs, I did a lot of it.  I guess dinosaurs gonna dino. 

This might be the reason AI models don't entirely replace human programmers.  OTOH, maybe they become great at desk checking, and it might be the reason AI makes programming more efficient.  We'll check in on this in another fifteen years :)


Ottmar Liebert: flow.  A subject on which he is expert.  "It’s difficult to know ahead of time which way the wind blows. Sometimes one recognizes what’s happening immediately, one feels the invincible flow of creativity, one feels switched ON. Sometimes one can feel the struggle.

News I can use: how to unlock the 100kph achievement badge in Zwift.  You have to find the steepest downhill and ride as fast as you can in your biggest gear.  Stay tuned! 


Steven Wolfram: ChatGPT gets its "Wolfram Superpowers"!  A great pairing.  This is rather remarkable for how fast it got done as well as how powerful it is. 

NotTheBee: I just asked Google's new AI chatbot "Bard" the very same question about both Biden and Trump. The difference in its answers is astounding.  This is super bad.  And maximally inauthentic


Ottmar Liebert: Millions of Drops.  "Water drops don't sound like rain.  millions of drops do."  A video editing tour de force. 


One step closer to success: Reality Space's 3D-printed rocket launches, fails to reach orbit.  SpaceX's early launches didn't make it either.  Onward. 

Interesting: Oliver Stone Releases Trailer for His Pro-Nuclear Energy Movie, ‘Nuclear Now’.  Can't wait to see it. 


Elon Musk links Arthur C. Clarke about the future of AI ... in 1964! 

I have found this to be true: the more you want to see a video clip on any news site, the less likely it will play when you click it.  Weird that this isn't 100% by now, like clicking on an HTML link. 

Did the video of Arthur C Clarke play for you?

Michael Kagan, Nvidia's CTO, says other uses of processing power such as the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT are more worthwhile than mining crypto.  I have to agree. 


Inhabitat: do you think zoos and animal parks are good or bad?  A reasonable balanced analysis.  They did not however consider the opportunity offered for a great afternoon with a little kid :) 

And also... no pictures!  I picked one for them...

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2022

 

Archive: April 13, 2021

 

Archive: April 12, 2020

I needed a eero

Sunday,  04/12/20  11:04 PM

I needed a eero.  Three actually.  "They gotta be strong, and they gotta be fast, and they gotta be fresh from the fight."  And they were :)

This weekend I decide to replace my 10-year-old Apple Airport WiFi routers with a new eero pro mesh setup.  It was quick, it was easy, and now I have full speed tri-band WiFi with no muss no fuss.  Should have done so 5 years ago, but who knew?

Now that the three little eero routers are up and running and working, it's great having super fast WiFi.  But the coolest part was how easy the routers were to set up.  It's all done from an iPhone app, and it was dirt simple.  Plug in the router, answer a couple of questions, and poof it works.  Plug in the next router, answer another question, and poof it works too.  Third router, question, poof.  Done!

I know how hard it is to create this kind of awesome out of the box experience, and I have a ton of respect for the developers here.  Onward!

 

 

Happy Virtual Easter

Sunday,  04/12/20  11:43 PM

Hey y'all ... Happy Virtual Easter!  Like me, you probably Zoomed (or Skyped, or Facetimed) your family and friends, and I hope you were able to get some of the pleasure and joy of being together.  Truly a weird time, and one we will all never forgot.

I must report, the rack of lamb was not virtual, and was most excellent :)

Health Care Blog: the Tipping point for Telehealth.  "Many ways of doing business will change forever after the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, and health care, too, will never be the same."  Amen. 

WSJ notes: ICUs leverage remove doctors and telemedicine to manage Coronavirus deluge.  "Physicians and nurses at many of the country’s largest hospital systems are leveraging a decades-old technology in new ways...  Generally known as 'tele-ICU,' this two-way bedside video is sort of like FaceTime or Zoom. The difference is that it typically adds a host of other technologies to videoconferencing, in order to connect critically ill patients in hospital ICU beds with teams of doctors and nurses who specialize in delivering care to the sickest, even when those teams are miles or even whole states away.

A month ago I shared this graphic from the Visual Capitalist comparing the deaths due to Covid-19 to other pandemics.  They update it daily; at that time the toll was 4.7K people; now it stands at 112K.  Still catching the Swine Flu of 2009-2010 which kills 200K people, but getting there quickly. 

The Origin of the Wuhan Coronavirus.  No, not from the market.  View it and make up your own mind, but they sure make a case. 

As benefits being leader of the US during a crisis, President Trump has been holding daily press briefings.  The "journalists" present beclown themselves.  Allie Beth Stuckey:  Every. Single. Coronavirus briefing is like this.  Sadly, true. 

How DuckDuckGo makes money without tracking you.  "It’s actually a big myth that search engines need to track your personal search history to make money or deliver quality search results... search advertisers buy search ads by bidding on keywords, not people."  -- Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO. 


This I love: Every moon in our solar system, ranked.  The top 26, quite a collection.  Of course our favorite Titan is #1, but can you guess #2? 

Apropos: Trump signs executive order to support moon mining, tap asteroid resources.  Who will be the first to take advantage? 


With Paris-Roubaix cancelled this year (well, delayed for now, but, you know), Velonews revisits Philippe Gilbert's masterful win last year.  I love this sort of inside insight, cycling is sooo tactical. 

Onward... I hope you have a great week sheltering in place, and that we won't have to do so too much longer!

 

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2019

 

Archive: April 13, 2018

 

Archive: April 9, 2017

Roubaix day

Sunday,  04/09/17  10:17 PM

Happy Paris-Roubaix day!  Did you watch?  Did you love it?  (Do you have any idea what this is all about?)

Congrats to Greg Van Avermaet, he is having a great year, and dominating the classics, as he dominated today.  And wow what a race!

Today was Tom Boonen's last day as a professional in the peloton, he finished sixth, not bad, but not on the top step of the podium as he had hoped.  He brings his magnificant career to a close at Roubaix, the race which he has won four times. 

The ultimate example of going out on top was Fabian Cancellara winning gold in the Rio Olympics time trial.  Another great career ended in perfect fashion; the Swiss time machine rang the bell one more time. 

And speaking of Van Avermaet and Rio, I wasn't blogging back then, but the road race was pretty much the best race ever.  A great route with a mix of terrain made for a wide-open race, it wasn't a race for sprinters, or climbers, or strong men, or anyone ... it was a race for everyone.  Yay. 

The women's race was great too; Anna van de Breggen won, for the Netherlands (yay), but her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten was on her way to possible victory when she suffered a horrible crash.  Fortunately she was okay.  Whew. 

Well so much for cycling, what else is happening? 

President Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile strike against the Syrian air base from which it is believed that a chemical weapons attack was launched against Syrian civilians.  Whether you agree with this action, you have to agree: yay, we have a President again!  That message will be much more important than the strike itself. 

We also have a full Supreme Court again; President Trump's nominee Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as a replacement for Antonin Scalia, after the Senate voted to repeal the ability to filibuster confirmation hearings.  So much winning. 

Walt Mossberg is retiring in June.  The most influential tech journalist of all time; he will be missed. 

John Gruber reports: The Mac Pro Lives.  So be it.  This strikes me as "announceware", something Apple hardly ever do.  A clear sign of weakness, IMHO; they have lost the edge at the high end of the market, and they know it. 

In case you were wondering: Why climate change models are so horrendous.  "Among the culprits are a failure to accurately account for clouds and the Sun, two things which, in Earth science, are kind of a big deal."  There may be global warming taking place, and some of it may be influenced by the actions of men, but the vast majority of "climate science" is junk, influenced by politics. 

New you can [maybe] use: Robert X Cringley explains How to Get Rich Trading Bitcoin.  "My new Bitcoin trading strategy, which I admit I have only tried so far on paper... when Bitcoin value goes down, BUY!  When Bitcoin prices rise SELL!"  There you have it, buy low, sell high; who knew? 

Seth Godin: The Candy Diet.  "The bestselling novel of 1961 was Allen Drury's Advise and Consent.  Millions of people read this 690-page political novel.  In 2016, the big sellers were coloring books."  A thoughtful discourse... but maybe just evidence for Unnatural Selection

I have to agree: Damn, that's an ugly ship!  [via the Horse's Mouth

 

 

coffee?

Sunday,  04/09/17  11:45 PM

 

 

 
 

Archive: April 6, 2016

reality

Wednesday,  04/06/16  11:49 PM

Today I had a new experience; I flew around the Earth!  My ship was an HTC Vive.  I was able to fly around, zoom in and out, and even see population statistics and social media traffic superimposed over the globe.  It was seamless 1080p at 90fps, and I was there.  I didn't feel sick or scared, I felt liberated and elated.  And I can't wait for my next flight!

The headset is light and comfortable, but it's a headset, and it's tethered by a not insignificant wire bundle.  That's the downside.  The controllers are easy to use and importantly, appear in the field of view.  So while your hands do not - and they could be added, of course - you definitely have the sense of your movement corresponding to the world's movement.  I don't know how this stacks up against the Oculus Rift, but I can't wait to find out.  Stay tuned :)

For the to-learn list ... Unity.  [Apparently, one of] the easiest / best ways to develop VR content for Vives, Rifts, and their brethren.

Inside Industrial Light & Magic's virtual reality lab.  "Industrial Light & Magic’s Experience Lab (ILMxLAB) is a newly-formed supergroup of artists, engineers, sound designers, and storytellers prototyping the future of interactive, immersive cinema for Lucasfilm."  Next gen moviemaking. 

Of course the ILMs of the world will be making VR content, but with the tools now available, there's going to be a democratization and everyone will be able to make VR movies, just like anyone can shoot HD with their phone.  It will be all about the destinations and stories.



And this: StreamVR featuring the HTC Vive

----- Meanwhile, back in the "real" world... ----- 

Jeff Immelt of GE counterpunches: Bernie Sanders says we’re ‘destroying the moral fabric’ of America. He’s wrong.  "We create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches."  Absolutely. 

Sigh: Jerry Brown admits $15 minimum wage does not make economic sense.  California is such a contradiction, a bastion of liberal thinking and the best counterexample :) 

John Hindraker considers The Left's new battleground: co-ed bathrooms.  "The 'discrimination' consists of the fact that men can’t use women’s rest rooms ... There was a time when, if you had said that one of our major political parties would someday consider it a vital civil right that men be allowed to use women’s bathrooms, people would have thought you were nuts. They would have been right.

I can see on the Internets including my Facebook feed that the North Carolina law has attracted the ire of many liberals, protesting this "discrimination".  More proof, if any were needed, that Idiocracy was a documentary.

All is not lost, however: When Mark Steyn struck back.  The rapid decline of conditions in Europe are a cautionary tale for sure.  Those who fail to learn the lessons of history current eventsare doomed to repeat them. 

Re Mark Steyn: Tomorrow's civilizational cringe today.  Featuring the evergreen Tim Blair headline: British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.  [Thanks, Zoya]

----- But on the plus side... ----- 

Peter Sagan wins Tour of Flanders, his first monument, but surely not his last.  It's not just that he won - while wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey - it's the way he won, riding right away from the field to power to victory.  You just don't see that very often in today's peloton.  I can't wait for Paris Roubaix next Sunday! 

Hat tip to Fabian Cancellara, who finished a charging second; he did his best in his final effort (he's announced his retirement), but nobody can catch Sagan when he's on a good day anymore.

This is HP's new logo.  I like it. 


The incomparable xkcd: Mycology:

Perhaps the fungus actually causes comics about fungi :)

 

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2015

and again (noone noticed)

Monday,  04/13/15  11:48 PM

Gone again, on a school visit trip with Meg to Boston (Mass Art) and Chicago (SAIC), and back again.  (And again noone noticed :)  Great trip and great to be back.  And once again it's all happening...

Congrats to John Degenkolb for winning Paris-Roubaix, in fine fashion, following all the right moves and then winning a seven-man sprint in the velodrome at Roubaix.  He won Milan-San Remo earlier this year, quite a double.  

He and Alexander Kristoff have been the most impressive riders this year; Kristoff having won MSR last year, and Tour of Flanders in a powerful performance last weekend.

Excellent: The Apple II Watch.  What could be better? 

propos: John Gruber reviews the Apple Watch itself.  Interestingly he doesn't love it.  Reading all the reviews it seems nobody knows quite what to make of this new device.  Of course, that's what we all thought about the iPad when it launched, and now we can't imagine living without one :) 

The Bush Era, a reminder

Gas prices were low.
So was unemployment.
The labor participation rate was higher.
Minority representation in the middle class was increasing.
We had a manned space program.
We had elections in Iraqi towns, instead of slave auctions.
Our allies in Europe trusted us.
Our rivals worldwide were wary of us.
And our enemies did their absolute damnedest to hide from us. Well. The ones still breathing, at least.

It has not been the best six years, has it?  Let's hope we reverse the trend!

From Josh Newman: Dotted Line.  "I’m an old man. I’ve been a rabbi for many years, and I’ve celebrated Passover every year of my life. And in that time, not once, NOT ONCE, have I ever seen a single piece of matzo break along the perforation."  Hehe :) 

Onward ... a quiet week of coding lies ahead :)

 

 

Maori

Monday,  04/13/15  11:58 PM

Tim Bray shares some Maori snapshots:


The carving in this Maori meeting house is amazing

I've been fascinated with New Zealand for a while (it's at the top of my "must visit someday" list), not least because of the Maori and their amazing culture.  It seems like one place among very few others where colonists have adopted and embraced a native culture.


Maori dance - a way of life

Beautiful land, beautiful people ...

 

 
 

Archive: April 10, 2014

Political correctness run amuck

Thursday,  04/10/14  10:04 PM

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.

You know the story; Brendan Eich, a legendary software developer (creator of JavaScript while at Netscape) and a founder and longtime Mozilla employee, was promoted to its CEO.  Mozilla is of course the company behind the Firefox web browser and other open source projects.  Shortly after his promotion news broke that back in 2008 he had contributed $1,000 to support California's Proposition 8, which specified that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."  (Voters passed the amendment but it was overturned by a court in 2010 as unconstitutional.)  This was translated into "Eich is anti-gay", there was a sizeable uproar including companies redirecting users who surfed with Firefox to special anti-Eich pages, and after a couple of weeks Eich chose to resign rather than fight.

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?

Pretty scary.

* BTW many notable public figures have changed their mind about same-sex-marriage, including President Obama. 

 

Thursday,  04/10/14  10:51 PM

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 hoodOnward! 

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 :)

 

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2013

 

Archive: April 1, 2012

moved ... to Facebook

Sunday,  04/01/12  10:43 AM

Hi y'all!  Well I haven't posted here for a while - a long while - my last post was in January, right after I'd moved physically.  The truth is that without meaning to I've moved digitally too ... to Facebook. 

http://facebook.com/ole.eichhorn

Over the past six months I've become a daily Facebook poster, and while I don't really do my "linkblog" thing there (yet!), the best way to keep up with me is to subscribe to me there.  Everything I post to Facebook is public, and while it isn't necessarily the most interesting stuff on the 'net, you're welcome to read it :)

The pic above right is one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite movies, the Social Network.  Right after they've "gone live" they email a bunch of friends to tell them about it.  And Mark Zuckerberg's character says "the question is, who are *they* going to tell?"

The background truth is that I'll go back to blogging "someday", I do miss it.  But I've been super busy at Aperio with a massively interesting project, and involved in two startup companies as a consultant, and have done a little vacationing here and there, and have been cycling a lot, and ... blogging has fallen off my daily todo list.  But please stay tuned and please follow me on Facebook in the meantime :)

 
 

Archive: April 12, 2011

$100 gas

Tuesday,  04/12/11  06:50 PM

You read the articles and you see the prices posted (or not posted) at gas stations and you see the little meter running running running and it doesn't actually hit home until...

Yikes!  $100 to fill my tank :(

 
 

Archive: April 11, 2010

week of 4/5, redux

Sunday,  04/11/10  08:53 PM

I'm baack...  whew.  Quite a week, in Europe, what with riding and watching the Tour of Flanders, and then meetings in Utrecht, Netherlands, Bonn, Germany, and Zurich, Switzerland.  In between I managed to screw up trains in every way possible; in one case, I took the right train to the wrong station, in another, I got on the wrong half of the right train (yes, they separate the cars, and off you go in the wrong direction), and in yet another I took the right train to the right station but got off at the wrong place.  It was all great :0  Have I ever told you I love trains?

And so now I am back, and it's all happening...

Bill Whittle: Vigilance and the Siren Song of the State

Here's the Velonews replay: Cancellara conquers Flanders.  And not content with that, Cancellara cruises to Roubaix triumph, again defeating Tom Boonen and the usual cast of classic characters.  Wow, that's awesome, winning Flanders and Roubaix on consecutive weekends.  He can take the next weekend off :) 

Interesting question: Cancellara to challenge Leipheimer for California Crown?  Too much mountain climbing in the TOC for Cancellara, I think, but it is hard to put anything past him... 

Meanwhile, Chris Horner gets his txapela, wins Basque tour.  Good for him, that's cool.  Probably his biggest victory as a pro. 

Ted Dziuba undergoes a blog upgrade.  I sometimes think about switching to a standard blogging software, but then I read stuff like this and the feeling passes :) 

Earthquakes!  7.2 in Baja California.  Yikes.  Felt all the way in Holland; I was visiting relatives and my Mom called to report the news and check if we were okay.  Ha.  And not to mention 7.8 in Sumatra, Indonesia.  Double yikes. 

Here's some important research: would a Lava Lamp work on Jupiter?  Featuring a homemade test rig: "The centrifuge is a genuinely terrifying device. The lights dim when it is switched on. A strong wind is produced as the centrifuge induces a cyclone in the room. The smell of boiling insulation emanates from the overloaded 25 amp cables. If not perfectly adjusted and lubricated, it will shred the teeth off solid brass gears in under a second. Runs were conducted from the relative safety of the next room while peeking through a crack in the door."  Yes, you must view it in action.  

BTW the conclusion is...  yes!

Fox: It's a fact, sex makes you do stupid things.  Depends on the definition of "stupid" :) 

Yes: smooth jazz version of Metallica's Enter Sandman, with James Hetfield on vocals.  Surprisingly not terrible, and interesting for being so different.  I have an Ottmar Liebert version of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir which is similar. 

Today's iPad pundits include: 

  • Paul Thurrott: "Anyone who believes this thing is a game changer is a tool."  Just call me hammer.  [ via Daring Fireball, for likely reposting as claim chowder :] 
  • Eric Raymond: "And the thing that has me scratching my head, two days after the iPad announcement and knowing it has sold 300K copies in that time on the strength of Apple’s brand, is that I can’t find a real use for it either."  Overall he doesn't like it, and doesn't get it.
  • Dave Winer: "Most of this is negative, and it reflects my feeling about the iPad, which is generally negative, even though I have a lot of fun discovering the problems with the device."  Overall he doesn't like it, though he thinks it is important.
  • Glenn Reynolds: "So I tried out an iPad today and I'm kinda lukewarm."
  • John Gruber: "There’s something fundamentally strange about how fast the iPad feels considering how underpowered it is versus a modern PC or Mac."  Overall he likes it.  A lot.
  • Ars Technica: "Truthfully, this device is one that can only really be understood by playing with it firsthand (we know, it took us more than 18,000 words to tell you that)."  Overall, they like it.
  • Xeni Jardin: "Apple's iPad is a touch of genius."  Likes it :)
  • Cory Doctorow: "Why I won't but an iPad (and think you shouldn't either)."  An anti-DRM rant.
  • Fake Steve Jobs: "An open letter to the people of the world."  First of all, you're welcome...

Can't wait to get mine... waiting for me at my office.  Stay tuned!

Sarcasm of the day/week/year: Microsoft changes name of next-gen mobile OS from 'Windows Phone 7 Series" to "Windows Phone 7", and John Gruber comments: "Good to see Microsoft having just as amazing a weekend as Apple."  :) 

Also would be remiss not to link The Macalope's Fools of the Year.  "If you’re someone who’s written something intensely stupid about Apple in the past year and your name is not on this list, please, please don’t think we didn’t notice your effort."  ROFL... 

The thrill of flying the SR-71 Blackbird.  Awesome! 

Scott (Dilbert) Adams contemplates The Happiness Button.  "Suppose humans were born with magical buttons on their foreheads. When someone else pushes your button, it makes you very happy."  An interesting analysis which results in a deep conclusion, with which I agree entirely: "I can't think of any imaginary situation in which long term happiness could come from other people. The best you can hope for is that other people won't thwart your efforts to make yourself happy.

From NewScientist: Enter the matrix: the deep law that shapes our reality.  Some classic non-science as we get a dose of BS around "random matrix theory".... 

It's about time: Slashdot reports C programming language back at number 1.  Primarily due to the decline of Java.  Ha! 

The teeniest ZooBorn yet: a French Polynesian tree snail

 

clash of the Titans: Apple vs Adobe

Sunday,  04/11/10  09:36 PM

Unless you've been traveling at lightspeed to another galaxy, you must have heard about the great Apple vs Adobe tweetle beetle battle*.  The iDevices (iPhone, iPod Touch, and now the iPad) do not support Flash, and will not support Flash.  Ever.  So Adobe created a Flash-to-native-iDevice converter.  And now Apple have announced iPhone OS 4.0 (in yet another magnificent Stevenote, yes, you must watch it), and the terms of the new developer agreement prevent cross-compiling apps originally written in languages other than Objective C, C, or C++.  Wow.

Sure, we can all see why Apple wants to prevent Flash web apps - that would route around their App Store monopoly - but I can't quite see why Apple wants to prevent native iDevice apps originally written in Flash.  I wonder if this will have the intended effect...

Anyone who is creating apps for iDevices now has two choices, create a native iDevice app, or create a web app using AJAX.  The third way of creating a Flash app which also runs as a native iDevice app seems shut.  Writing an iDevice app means learning Objective C and creating a decent native app from scratch is a pretty big development.  And at the end of the day it would be iDevice-only; you couldn't also run it on Android or WebOS or whatever.  Creating a web app with AJAX means it might not be great – probably less great than a Flash client – but it would run on iDevices, Android, WebOS, or whatever, and might make having a Flash client unnecessary for PCs and Macs too.

This is the problem with Apple’s strategy.   There will be people who take their existing Flash apps and rewrite them as native apps.   That’s what Apple wants.   But there will also be people who just switch to AJAX.   I can’t see why that helps Apple.  Overall the user experience is going to be worse.   Wouldn’t the Flash-to-native-converter approach have been better?

A final point.   Apple reviews all apps before letting them be published in the App Store.   Presumably if an app is super ugly or crappy or buggy or just doesn’t look like it belongs on an iDevice, they won’t approve it.   Since they have that level of control, why do they care about the underlying technology?   If the app was written in Flash (heck, if it was written in COBOL) and cross-compiled, and it looks and behaves like it belongs, who cares?

* from Fox in Socks

 

Mark Burson, RAAM competitor

Sunday,  04/11/10  09:48 PM

You might remember I've posted about my friend Mark Burson before...  he's a cyclist who had to have his hip replaced, after which he became a significantly more serious cyclist.  He got me into ultra cycling, and in 2008 we completed the California Triple Crown together, just before the first anniversary of his artificial hip.


Mark Burson and I during our sixth double century, in 2008

So he hasn't stopped there; he's gone on to ride the Race Across the West, and is now entered as part of a four-person team in the Race Across America (RAAM), possibly the most arduous cycling event of them all.  Congratulations and best of luck to him and his team!

 

Stargazing: the Umbrella Galaxy

Sunday,  04/11/10  10:21 PM



 

Today's Astronomy Picture of The Day is the awesome Umbrella Galaxy
we see these pictures and they just don't seem "real"; but
imagine you are flying and you look out your window and there it is
wow
it would take a little while to reach it, 35M years at the speed of light
 :)

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2009

Monday,  04/13/09  11:10 PM

In Seattle...  cold, rainy, crisp, clear...  it was an effort to get here (almost missed my plane, left my jacket on board, couldn't retrieve my luggage, car rental didn't have a car, took a wrong turn on the highway while retrieving voicemail instead of paying attention, etc.) but well worth it.

Dinner tonight: Wild Ginger, downtown  Excellent.  Thanks, Gary!

David Clunie, a major contributor to the DICOM medical imaging standard, has a blog!  And says to push or to pull; that is the question...  focus is on Radiology imaging [as you would expect] but implications for Pathology images also... 

VentureBlog: StumbleUpon brings serendipity back to the web.  I've always liked StumbleUpon, not least because they're a major traffic driver for my blog :)  And not a bad way to waste spend time and find new stuff, either... 

... and I see where eBay lets StumbleUpon fly free.  So after paying $75M for the business two years ago, they're selling it back to the original founders and a consortium of investors.  Interesting.  I wonder if this will be part of a trend, where "bad" acquisitions get unwound; speculation has Skype in the same position.  Will YouTube be next? 

Awesome old technology: Soviet nuclear control devices.  Don't they look exactly like they should? 

Jeff Atwood considers the esoteric yet crucial issue of code formatting: death to the space infidels!  Truly no arguments are more entrenched than various groups of engineers arguing about the placement of spaces, tabs, braces, etc. within code.  The only thing everyone can agree upon is that some style is good, and consistency is a virtue. 

Classic confusion of correlation with causality: Facebook users get worse grades in college.  Could as easily be: students who get worse grades in college use Facebook.

 

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2008

Unplugged

Sunday,  04/13/08  06:07 PM

So I unplugged this weekend, and it was great.  No rides, no work, and no kids.


Jim Clendenen

Saturday night Shirley and I attended a winemaker's dinner at the Qupé winery in Los Olivos, hosted by Jim Clendenon of Au Bon Climat (left) and Frank Ostini of the Hitching Post (right); yeah, if you saw Sideways, that Hitching Post.  We left Saturday morning, and before the dinner drove all over the Solvang / Lompoc / Los Alamos / Santa Maria / Los Olivos wine area.  The dinner was fabulous: great food, and even greater wine; fortunately some of the winemakers present sampled their own wares and began one upping each other, and before long the really good stuff was coming out; a '96 Sanford and Benedict Pinot Noir was amazing (from the Santa Rita Hills), but I give the night's honor to a '00 Hitching Post, a Pinot made right there in what is today the Qupé winery, in the middle of the Bien Nacido vineyard; paired with pheasant and butternut squash purée.  You might say it had the home field advantage :)


Frank Ostini

Today we got up at the crack of noon, headed up Ballard Canyon, and ambled through the town of Los Olivos.  That sleepy upscale town is doing fine - no shortage of tourists, wine drinkers, or art patrons - but I did notice something kind of amusing; a Countrywide Home Loans office with a Coldwell Banker "for sale" sign out front.  A sign of the times, I suppose, for Countrywide if not for Los Olivos.

Then we drove the long back way to Ojai (along Lake Cachuma and through foothills of Monecito and Carpinteria).  Once there we happened upon the Garrett Lemire Grand Prix, a 45 mile criterium bike race!  I swear it was a coincidence, I had no idea.  Pretty much at random we picked a little restaurant to have lunch, and upon walking out the front door I discovered we were directly opposite the podium.  How cool was that!

So we ate a leisurely lunch while the riders did lap after lap in the 95o heat, and then walked out to watch the finish, as the survivors of a 20-man break sprinted home.  Pretty awesome.  Kyle Gritters outkicked the field for his first pro victory.  Once again I must tell you that you have to see a pro bike race live in order to appreciate the power and speed.

Anyway I'm back now, rested, mentally and physically, full of food and wine, and with my batteries charged.  As I plug back in I am happy to note my experiment with using Gmail as a server-side spam filter remains a massive success.  Just a few wayward spam have escaped, and meanwhile there are over 7,000 spams on the server.  How satisfying...  Onward into the week!

 

Sunday,  04/13/08  07:26 PM

Far from being the PR success the Chinese government had hoped for, the Olympics are becoming a sort of bad political joke.  The headline news seems to be speculation about who will show up at the opening ceremonies.  And this is rather typical: how the Bejiing Olympics got its logo

Remember I reported I changed my site to direct hotlink requests to a special logo image?  Well today pretty much randomly I checked my referer logs for images, and I can't believe it but there are still a metric ton of hotlinks to images on my site!  All these sites all over the place are serving billboards advertising this blog.  I think what must happen is that the images get cached by would-be hotlinkers' browsers, so they never see the logo image instead of the one they think they're linking.  Amazing.  Moral of the story: don't hotlink :) 

Good news from the front: Cancer rates decrease for some groups.  "The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, released in October, found that cancer incidence rates have stabilized and, for many of the most common forms of cancer, are actually dropping.  Among men, incidence rates for lung cancer (the leading cause of cancer death in men) decreased by 1.8% a year from 2001 to 2004, and rates for colorectal cancer fell by more than 2% annually. Perhaps most impressive were the changes in the incidence of breast cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung cancer. Those rates for women dropped by 3.5% a year during this period."  Excellent.  As people live longer, more will get cancer - it tends to be the thing that kills you in the end - but we are now increasing the quality of life for the average person. 

And speaking of the odds of dying somehow, this great chart shows that your chance of dying from a bicycle accident are 1 in 5,000, less than in a car (1 in 84) and from cancer (1 in 7).  Heart disease is still the worst at 1 in 5.  (Yeah, I know you can't read it; click it to enlarge.)  Good stuff to know.  [ via Ottmar Liebert ]  

I find it very weird that suicide is 1 in 119.  Wow.  Can that be right?  Also weird: earthquakes (1 in 117,000) are worse than floods (1 in 144,000).  Not shown, but found in the table of the linked National Safety Council report: cataclysmic storms (e.g. hurricanes) are much worse, at 1 in 4,300.

Tom Boonen is the king; he triumphed in a bunch sprint to win Paris-Rubaix, the toughest one-day bike race in the world (sorry, Milan-San Remo) and arguably the toughest one day sporting event, period.  Poor George Hincapie was riding in the front and feeling good when his rear wheel broke.  Such are the breaks... 

Brad Feld: Sillyness-as-a-service.  I love it.  He forgot AaaS - Acronyms as a Service :) 

 

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2007

 

Archive: April 13, 2006

 

Archive: April 13, 2005

 

Archive: April 13, 2004

Tuesday,  04/13/04  10:45 PM

Whew, missed a day, again.  I must work less so I can blog more :)

I have a bunch of links here with Iraq- and Bush- and Kerry- related stuff; Condi Rice, polls, commentary from both sides, even alternative histories and Miss USA.  And President Bush's press conference and reaction.  But you know what?  I'm going to bag it all.  It's important, sure, but you don't need to get that news from me.  I do have a meta-observation: It seems like the polarization in the U.S. is getting sharper all the time.  Maybe I just wasn't paying attention - or maybe we weren't "at war" - but I just don't remember this level of acrimony and negativism in the last presidential election.  I wish both sides would spend more time on the future, and less on the past.  Whether you believe Bush is doing a great job or a horrible job, whether you believe we should have invaded Iraq or not, whether you believe the tax cut was helpful or horrible, it is what it is.  Bush is president.  We did invade Iraq, and are occupying it right now.  We did enact the tax cut.  So my question for both candidates and both parties is: given that it is what it is, what are your plans?

This is so cool: The NYTimes reports With Tiny Brain Implants, Just Thinking May Make it So.  "Cyberkinetics Inc., a medical device company, plans to implant a tiny chip in the brains of five paralyzed people in an effort to enable them to operate a computer by thought alone.  The Food and Drug Administration has given approval for a clinical trial of the implants."  Excellent.

I wonder if someday I'll be able to blog just by thinking.  Now that's scary :)

You know what's great about Slashdot?  You get some awfully interesting discussions.  Like this one: "I live out in the middle of nowhere, and I lose power at the drop of a hat.  My house is right next to the Susquehanna river, and all the kinetic energy going past my house makes me just want to go off grid.  What would be a good, unobtrusive way to generate electricity from a high volume/low speed body of water?  I think maybe a miniature version of one of the recent submerged tidal generators might work...  Does anyone have some suggestions on how I might go about this project?"  I have no idea myself, but it was fun reading all the responses and discussion...  One approach is shown at left.

VC legend Vinod Khosla discovers the microlending economy of India: Tiny Loans have Big Impact on Poor.  The economics of microlending are pretty cool.  Just like on eBay, a built-in reputation system is critical to ensuring the benevolent outcome of a prisoner's dilemma, and both lenders and borrowers benefit.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

Adam Curry has nothing to report.  From the Guerrilla News Network.  I wonder how soon GNN will be publishing daily using an RSS feed?  Seriously.

Speaking of free media (we were), Ed Felton has developed the Grand Unified Theory of Filesharing.  "The Grand Unified Theory explains the [disparate] study results by breaking down the users of filesharing into two subpopulations, the Free-riders and Samplers."  The free-riders are young and filesharing reduces their CD buying, while samplers are older and filesharing increases their CD buying.  This actually makes a lot of sense to me.

Oh, and PCWorld has Step-by-Step: Turn Your PC into a Personal Video Recorder.  Somehow, given that I have a Tivo, I have no desire to do this.  I can't see the upside.  Now if I could use it to "tune" programs from GNN, that would matter :)  [ via Matt Haughey ]

Finally, RSS reader NewsGator now has a Media Center Edition.  You need a Media Center PC to use it, but if you had one, it would be cool.  Somehow I don't think this is the way to get video to Aunt Tilly, or even GNN to me.

This one is for Steph: Scientists aid eagles with bird-and-switch.  "The story began as it ended Friday, off the east side of Catalina Island with wildlife ecologist Peter Sharpe dangling from a Kevlar rope 200 feet above the Pacific Ocean.  His mission: to revive the population of bald eagles on the island.  Two months ago, Sharpe snatched 11 eggs from the nests of five breeding pairs of eagles.  On Friday, he attempted to return two young eaglets to the cliff-side nests."  Some guys will do anything to pick up cute chicks.

The BBC reports a man was cited for driving his mini-cooper 2,100 mph in a Brussels suburb.  Man, those cute little cars are fast :)  [ via BigWig ]

Dave Winer suggests search engines change the unit of the web from a page to a post, presumably by indexing RSS feeds.  You would think Google might be doing this already, especially after their acquisition of Blogger, but they haven't - yet.

Steve Gillmor thinks we're at the RSS Tipping Point.  Could be.  "If it's going to be true, it is true."  [ via Robert Scoble ]

I'm not a big moviegoer, but I have to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  I just keep reading great things about it.  And I loved Being John Malkovich, another bizarre masterpiece from screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.  Who ever would have guessed Jim Carrey would end up doing "real" movies?

Robert reports on a seasonal menace in L.A.: goathead thorns, aka puncturevine.  "Puncturevine is just one of the myriad natural hazards living in SoCal.  With all the mudslides, forest fires, earthquakes, impending fire ant and killer bee fun...  well, some days it's almost too scary to leave the house.  Almost."  Yeah, almost.  But not quite.

 
 

Archive: April 13, 2003

Site Optimization

Sunday,  04/13/03  05:29 PM

Recently I systematically optimized this little site.  By way of documentation and in case it is of public interest, here's what I did...

  1. Conform to standards.  Make more people and robots able to "view" the site.
  2. Reduce file sizes.  Increase speed loading pages.
  3. Serve a special home page to "robots".  Help them find everything easily.

Conform to Standards

HTML is a "loose" language.  Just about anything goes.  The popular browsers like Internet Explorer and Mozilla will "do the right thing" with all kinds of weird errors.  But for maximum compatibility it is best to have pages which are "correct".

The easiest way to make sure your pages are correct is to use an HTML validator.  I like Doctor HTML, but there are a bunch out there.  You point Doctor HTML at a page, and it tells you what (if anything) is wrong with it.  This is a great way to pick up unclosed tags, invalid syntax, etc. - it also verifies links and even checks spelling.

Most browsers and programs don't care about content-encoding, but some do.  (The ones that don't pretty much assume U.S. ASCII is in use.)  The easiest way to take care of this is simply specify the encoding in a META tag:

    <META HTTP-EQUIV="Content-type" CONTENT="text/HTML; charset=US-ASCII">

If you have templates for your pages, put this in the template and you're done.

Finally, if you're a heavy user of CSS, be sure to test the CSS you're using on all the browsers with which you want to be compatible.  I test with Internet Explorer, Mozilla, and Opera (Windows), Internet Explorer, Mozilla, and Safari (Mac), and Mozilla (Linux).  Even though your CSS may be "valid", it may not be interpreted the way you want by all browsers.  This is one reason I've stuck to frames and tables, they've been around so long pretty much all browsers treat them the same way.

Reduce File Sizes

Everyone's browsing experience will improve if you can reduce file sizes, especially people with slower connections to the Internet.  It will also enable your site to serve more people concurrently with the same amount of bandwidth.  There is nothing you can do which is better for your visitors (except give them interesting content!)

Reducing file sizes bifurcates into two kinds of activities: reducing image sizes, and reducing page sizes.

Reducing Image Sizes

Image sizes are a function of three things - the pixel dimensions of the image, the type of image, and the compression ratio.  You should never make images any bigger than they have to be.  If you have a really big image which just must be big, then put a thumbnail for it in the page's content which links to a new window with the big image.  Any image bigger than 200 x 200 pixels is a candidate for shrinkage or thumbnailing.

There are two kinds of images in wide use on the web: GIFs and JPEGs.  GIFs are best for images with a small number of colors and well-defined borders - cartoons, diagrams, flow charts, etc.  JPEGs are best for images with gradients of colors and smooth transitions - mainly photographs.  The coolest tool for shrinking images is Adobe Photoshop's "Save for the Web" feature.  This allows you to take any image and try "what if" scenarios with file format and compression ratio.  In addition, when Photoshop saves for the web it optimizes image headers, storing only the minimum information required, and enables progressive rendering, allowing larger images to be displayed incrementally as the browser receives data.  There are other tools which have similar capabilities, but Photoshop is the leader.

Reducing File Sizes

HTML pages are plain text; making them smaller is pretty tough.  Of course it is always better to use less words if you can, "brevity is the soul of wit" and all that.  But that won't really make your pages smaller.

The best thing to do for reducing HTML page sizes is to implement GZIP compression.  This means each page will be compressed before sending it out over the network, and decompressed by the browser.  Typically this reduces file sizes by about 50%.  All modern browsers say they support compression and do, but many robots do not.  If the client does not support compression the server will automatically send an uncompressed page.  There is really no downside to implementing this - do it!

If you're using Apache, the way to implement compression is via mod_gzip.  There are many parameters for mod_gzip; I found this page to be very helpful.  I use the following directives in my HTTPD.CONF file:

LoadModule gzip_module modules/mod_gzip.so   in LoadModule section, should be last
     
AddModule mod_gzip.c   in AddModule section, should be last
     
<IfModule mod_gzip.c>    
mod_gzip_on Yes   enable mod_gzip
mod_gzip_command_version '/mod_gzip_status'   status URL
mod_gzip_minimum_file_size 500   minimum file size to compress
mod_gzip_maximum_file_size 500000   maximum file size to compress
mod_gzip_maximum_inmem_size 100000   maximum file size to compress in memory
mod_gzip_min_http 1000   require HTTP/1.0 for compression
mod_gzip_handle_methods GET POST   use compression for GET or POST
mod_gzip_item_include file .html$   compress HTML files
mod_gzip_item_include file .cgi$   compress CGI output
mod_gzip_item_exclude file nph-.*.cgi$   don't compress nph CGI output
mod_gzip_item_exclude file .css$   don't compress CSS files
mod_gzip_item_include mime ^text/   compress any text types
mod_gzip_item_exclude mime ^image/   don't compress any image types
mod_gzip_add_header_count Yes   include header size in statistics
mod_gzip_dechunk Yes   correctly handle chunked output
mod_gzip_send_vary Yes   correctly handle incremental output
</IfModule>    

If you're using IIS, the way to implement compression is via the Web Service property sheet.  Microsoft has a good description of how to do this on their website.  They are cautious about recommending page compression for CPU utilization reasons, but in my experience it is always beneficial; most of the time your webserver runs out of bandwidth long before it runs out of CPU cycles.  This page also has good information about configuring IIS for compression.

After you get compression configured, you can test it using this site.  Very handy.

Serve a Special Home Page to "Robots"

I don't know about you, but I've found that "robots" make up a good deal of the traffic to my site.  These robots can be search engine spiders, various indexing tools like technorati, or analysis tools.  There are also tons of RSS aggregators out there, and although they load your site's RSS feed first, many of them come back and get page data, too.

So - I have my website setup to look for the HTTP_USER_AGENT, and if the client is a robot I serve a different home page.  This serves several purposes:

  • Robots are not interested in visual presentation, so you can eliminate images, tables, styles, etc.  (And if you're using them, you can eliminate frames, too!)  This makes the page smaller and also avoids confusing the robot.
  • Robots are interested in your links.  My "normal" home page has links as part of the articles posted there, but all the navigation links are on a separate page served as the navigation bar.  And this doesn't have all the links, either, because I have an "extended blogroll" of sites I like.  So for robots I serve a page which has the home page content, all the navigation bar links, and the extended blogroll.  This gives them all the links in one place.

How do you tell if you're dealing with a robot?  Well, if the agent string doesn't start with "Mozilla" or "Opera", it's a robot.  (For historical reasons all versions of Netscape and Internet Explorer have always used "Mozilla" in their user agent strings.)  If it starts with "Mozilla" it might still be a robot pretending to be a browser; I check for two common cases, "Slurp" (Inktomi's spider) and "Teoma" (Ask Jeeves / Teoma's spider).  There are others, but this will get you 99% of the robots.

Some handheld browsers report a non-Mozilla user agent, like Handspring's Blazer and AvantGo.  This is a good thing; the robot version of the home page is perfect for a handheld (no graphics, straightforward layout, all links present, etc.).  For this reason it is better to put links at the bottom than the top; nobody wants to see your blogroll before your content.

It was a little more work, but it's nice to keep the robots happy :)

[Update 1/1/23: no more special page for Robots.  This was a lot of work, but ultimately not needed anymore, if it ever was.]

 

Sunday,  04/13/03  09:17 PM

Bruce Tognazzini, longtime UI guru, has written a terrific piece about Apple Squandering the Advantage.  I like his thoughts about how UI design isn't moving, and some of his suggestions for innovation (a return key on the left side of the keyboard so you don't have to drop the mouse, "piles" on the desktop, people as objects, etc.).

Paul Graham considers the Hundred-Year Language.  In 100 years "we know that everyone will drive flying cars...  What kind of programming language will they use to write the software controlling those flying cars?"  I say it won't be Java.  He says it will be Lisp.  { I don't know what it will be, but I bet the compiler for it will be written in C. }

Andrew Sullivan, writing in Salon, notes the best reasons for supporting the war were liberal, humanitarian ones in Swinging Left.  I am as confused about the left's strange opposition to the war to liberate Iraq as I am about a similar phenomenon: environmentalists' strange opposition to nuclear power.  Sometimes you must choose the lesser evil.

New Scientist reports that the human genome is being published, and observes that the total number of human genes is now estimated somewhere between 27,000 and 40,000; significantly less than past estimates which ranges as high as 140,000.  So that's it, an equation with 40,000 parameters...  [via slashdot]

I think this is important: Slate reviews Mail Fraud; yet another shortsighted plan to bail out the Postal Service.  This pseudo-private corporation with a public monopoly is one of the most inept and poorly run businesses around, and it is time for them to put their house in order.  If they had public shareholders, the problems would solve themselves...

Two notes on the Masters: Tiger Woods didn't win (Canadian Mike Weir did), and the protests against Augusta National for not having women members died in a sea of silliness.  Read the story - it is pretty amusing.

Wired notes software that turns your cell phone into a sex toy.  Please.