Critical Section

Archive: April 22, 2021

 

Archive: April 19, 2020

going full terrarium

Sunday,  04/19/20  10:26 PM

going full terrarium

Aren't we all?
New Yorker, 4/20/20

 

Wahoo Zwifting

Sunday,  04/19/20  10:39 PM

Wahoo KickrLike a lot of you my activities have moved indoors, and while road cycling is still possible in California (you just have to do it in the middle of nowhere), I decided to scratch a longtime itch and get a Zwifting setup.

A what?

Zwift is an online community of cyclists who ride "smart trainers".  It's a sort of dynamo for your bike.  You mount your bike on a stand which includes a flywheel that connects to the back wheel which measures your speed.  And the flywheel is connected to Zwift via your computer.

ZwiftingYou ride various courses - either on Zwift's own virtual island of Watopia, or "real" courses like Alpe d'Huez - and Zwift shows "you" riding on the screen.  The faster you pedal, the faster you go.  Heading uphill, Zwift tells the trainer's flywheel to increase the resistance, downhill, yippee, you can fly.

The experience is not exactly like riding - the biggest difference I've noticed so far is there is no cooling wind in my office (!) - but it's a lot of fun and a great workout.  And you get to ride "against" a bunch of other people, so it's competitive.  In fact a lot of pros are on Zwift, working out until pro racing gets going again.  (You cannot believe how fast you get dropped by those guys with dollar signs on their jersey :)

After a bit of research I ended up getting a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer, which seemed to be one of the most popular.  So far it's working perfectly.  It connects to my laptop via Ant+, so I needed a little Ant+ USB dongle.

You can also get on the Kickr and "just ride" ... for example, while watching old pro races from last year :)  I actually out-sprinted Matthew Van der Poel to win the 2019 Amstel Gold ... in my mind :)

 
 

Archive: April 22, 2019

 

Archive: April 22, 2018

 

Archive: April 16, 2017

Easter!

Sunday,  04/16/17  01:29 PM

 

Happy Easter!
may you spend it peacefully with your family and those you love

 

 

space-ing out

Sunday,  04/16/17  04:39 PM

Happy Easter everyone, hope you're having a nice day.  I slept in, watched Amstel Gold (congratulations, Phillipe!, wow), and have been working away here quietly, awaiting the familial invasion a bit later.

While I was out not blogging there was a bunch of stuff that happened in and around space, so I thought I'd space out a little bit...

National Geographic: colonizing MarsNot least among the interesting space stuff, National Geographic published a phenomenal supplement on the subject of colonizing Mars.  Check it out in case you're thinking of going there :)

Astonishing video from NASA/JPL: Four days at Saturn.  Wow.  Yes, you must watch it full screen.

UranusFrom NASA: the Shakespearean Moons of Uranus.  I think sometimes Jupiter and Saturn get all the press, but Uranus is actually pretty amazing.  It has 27 [known] moons, including Oberon and Titania, which are larger than all of Saturn's moons other than Titan.  And Uranus does have rings like Saturn, and does have a bright spot like Jupiter.

Titan's methane lakesAnd speaking of Titan, it has liquid lakes! - but they're filled with methane, not water.  And yeah, they could support some weird "life".

If any more were needed: Another good reason to sail the seas of Titan.  (life!)

But just so you know: We're probably imagining aliens wrong.

I thought the aliens in Arrival were pretty cool.  From Stephen Wolfram: How might the Alien spacecraft work?

NASA's New Horizons set to explore the Kuiper Belt.  Cool!  This is an encore performance for the space probe, after having sent those incredibly detailed pictures of Pluto.  Onward!

Juno enters orbit around JupiterMeanwhile, after 1.7B miles, Juno nails its Jupiter orbit to within ten miles.  Pretty good shot :)  The burn time was 35 minutes, and it was off by one second.

Sadly: Juno was a success - but there is precious little coming after it.  "The party is just about over. NASA, and more particularly the Obama administration, have failed to invest in future planetary science missions."  It is my sense that like a lot of the Obama administration, NASA substituted PR for accomplishment.

Andoria - NASA's second favorite Star Trek planet (but it's a moon)From NASA: Top 10 Star Trek planets chosen by our scientists.  This would be cute if there were manned launches taking place every few months, but since we are now relying on Russian rockets to visit the ISS, it's pathetic.  I think NASA thinks we don't know the difference between what they should be doing and Star Trek.

PS their #1 was Vulcan, showing a shallow familiarity with the Star Trek universe...

PPS their #2 was Andoria, a good choice, but a moon, not a planet...

NASA fantasy: a moon-orbiting spaceportSee now this is just sad: NASA just unveiled plans for its moon-orbiting spaceport.  What moon-orbiting spaceport?  There is NO plan to create a moon-orbiting spaceport, and in fact, no plan to create a rocket capable of reaching the moon from Earth.  Our tax dollars at work play.  Sad.

Apropos, from science fiction author chrishanger: Stupidity on Space.  "... if you genuinely care about Earth’s ecology, moving into space is the best possible solution.His blog has become a favorite of mine...

SpaceX to Mars!Meanwhile, there is hope: Elon Musk and SpaceX announce details of plan to colonize Mars.  In seven years!

Teslarati: the challenges involved in a mission to Mars.  News you may be able to use :)

Earth in high def, viewed from the ISSCloser to home (well, depending on where you live :), here's an ultra high def view of Earth, from the ISS.  Most definitely best full screen on a huge monitor.

RIP: John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, dies at 95.

Parenthetically, I thought Missing Figures was one of the best movies I've seen recently... and Glenn was apparently accurately portrayed.


And finally, here we have the USS Enterprise in mind-blowing detail.  To boldly go everywhere.  Will we be alive to see it?  I hope so!

USS Enterprise - click to enbiggen
(click to enbiggen amazingly)

 

 
 

Archive: April 16, 2016

filter pass

Saturday,  04/16/16  10:27 PM

the Kepler space telescope - is okay!Woah, 10 days since my last filter pass!  What happened?  Nothing in particular, I've just been ... busy?  I guess.  The days go by.  Anyway here's a catchup... because [as you know] it's all happening...

In case you were worried: NASA's Kepler space telescope is back in good health.  Whew.

Clive Thompson: The new site.  In case you were a fan of his Collision Detection, or especially if you weren't.  Check it out!

It's funny to read about someone who thinks Moveable Type is legacy, when I started blogging, there was no Moveable Type, in fact, Blogger had just come out.  I had to write my own CMS, and it's still running.  Also, I had to walk in the snow to school, uphill both ways :)

From October, Heather MacDonald testifies before the Senate: The Myth of Criminal-Justice Racism.  "The most poisonous claim in the dominant narrative is that our criminal justice system is a product and a source of racial inequity."  In which once again we see that correlation does not imply causality.

space shuttle Challenger 30 year anniversaryThirty years ago (!) - space shuttle Challenger explodes, killing all seven astronauts aboard.  For me this was totally a "remember where you were when you heard it" event.

Scott "Dilbert" Adams ponders a presidential persuasion pardon.  "Let’s say Donald Trump promises that when he gets elected President he will pardon Hillary Clinton of any future convictions regarding her email server situation."  An interesting what-if, but I don't read him that way.

Dumb dumb dumb dumb: PayPal withdraws from North Carolina because of new LGBT discrimination law.  The law is pretty benign - requiring each sex to use bathrooms for their sex - but everyone sure is jumping on this bandwagon.  This is nothing but virtue signaling, but it sure is compelling.

Meanwhile: Chariot launches, an Uber-like service for women only.  No word about how they will treat men who "present" as women.

One down: Panama papers scandal brings down Iceland's prime minister.  Wow.  Wonder who's next?

I use a tool called WordFence to protect eyesFinder's website (which is running WordPress); check out this post on the WordFence blog about how the Panama papers got exposed.

the next big sport: first-person drone racingThe latest sport?  First-person drone racing descends upon Wembley Stadium.  Wow.  And meanwhile, ESPN is trying to make drone racing a mainstream sport.  Well why not?  Better than poker :)

The thing that will be really cool?  First-person drone racing ... in virtual reality!

AR/VR business modelsApropos: the reality of AR/VR business models.  A great survey.  Personally I think VR content creation will be like making movies ... a huge business.  (With many of the same people and players.)

Related: How virtual reality is looking to reawaken the joy of arcades.  Might even get me back into one :)

Major League Baseball approves wearable tech for in-game use.  Specific products for now, but it's a slippery slope.

The three things Apple needs to do to unlock the potential of Touch Id.  I totally agree with the first thing: use Touch Id to override web passwords.  It is such a pain to remember (and recover) passwords on every site; how great would it be if authenticating yourself on your phone was all you had to do?

The headline is clickbait but the article is better: a survey of the challenges that Yahoo faces, as it explores the sale of its core business.  Not a pretty picture.  How the mighty have fallen...  I thought Marissa Mayer had a chance to turn them around, but apparently she did not.

I remember when I was at Intuit, in 1999, that Yahoo was THE online service, the Internet challenger to non-Internet AOL.  That was a long time ago, and in all that time Yahoo has steadily declined.

the Tesla Model 3As Tesla Model 3 preorders approach 400,000: If you built it, they will come.  "Prior to the Model 3 event, the rhetoric you still routinely heard was ... that Tesla is a niche product, a 'Valley-thing.' These pre-order numbers destroy that notion. It’s still up to Tesla to execute on the plan, but at least right now, that plan is clearly working."  This is most definitely starting to look like genuine disruption.

the new (!) Tesla Model SOh, and: Tesla unveils new Model S design.  Wow for everyone, and Sigh for me.  The number of reasons to upgrade to a brand new one keep growing. 

Teslarati explores the details behind the Tesla Model S update.  Interestingly, they've got a "normal" center console now, standard.

the Bazooka canoliWrapping up, here we have The Bazooka, a huge super Canoli filled with 50 normal canolis.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you imagined :)

 

 
 

Archive: April 19, 2015

Sunday,  04/19/15  10:14 PM

mobile worldThe Ole filter makes a pass ... curiously, it's not all happening, very little seems to be going on for some reason...

I have been self-analyzing myself, watching me not preorder an Apple Watch.  I just don't want one.  Maybe I don't think the learning curve on how to use another device is worth it, or maybe ... I just don't want one.  Huh.

New Horizons: PlutoNASA captures first color image of Pluto.  "The New Horizons probe, which is bearing down on Pluto, has captured its first color image of the distant dwarf planet."  Excellent.  It's truly amazing that we can launch satellites so far away and retrieve images from them.  It takes 4.6 hours for a photon to travel from the spacecraft back to Earth!

Star Wars VII - trailer IIA new trailer for the new Star Wars movie is up, and it looks ... great.  Cannot wait to see it, although I guess we all will; it is schedules to be released on December 18.  I love the way the Internet is trying to reverse engineer the plot from the trailer teases.

BB-8 the rolling droidOh, and remember the little round droid BB-8 introduced in the first teaser trailer?  Apparently it really exists!  Wow, what cool technology.  Sort of Segway-ish.  I would have thought actually building it would have been harder slash more expensive than just generating it on a computer screen, but surely it's more fun this way.

the crab camAnd here we have the crab cam.  Of course...

 
 

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.

Voltaire: I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say itA 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

Minion!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. 

Land Rover's virtual transparent hoodThink 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."

Cancellara just ahead of Boonen in the 2014 Tour of FlandersI'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.)

Office for iPad: it's here!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...

Amazon's Fire TVMeanwhile, 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...

finding flight 370 ... the depth of the problemSo, 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!

You, too, can be a Glasshole! (On April 15, one day only)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 22, 2013

 

Archive: April 20, 2012

Zeno's paradox

Friday,  04/20/12  10:39 AM

 

at 53 I feel like this has been going on for a while
so far it hasn't caught me yet :)

 

 
 

Archive: April 22, 2011

blowing up the moon

Friday,  04/22/11  11:23 PM

Tonight I took Meg and Alex and some of their friends to see some local bands at the Canyon Club, our local rock shop.  And it was amazing!  Blowing Up the Moon were particularly great:

Live rock up close and personal with my kids and their friends, what could be better...  yay!

 
 

Archive: April 21, 2010

Wednesday,  04/21/10  09:53 PM

riding the roller coasterWow, another roller coaster day.  There's only one thing to do: Filter pass!

Leonard Nimoy hangs up his Spock.  "'I want to get off the stage. Also, I don't think it would be fair to Zachary Quinto,' Nimoy told the Toronto Sun, referring to the actor who portrays young Spock in the new Trek film. 'He's a terrific actor, he looks the part, and it's time to give him some space. And I'm very flattered the character will continue.'"  How classy is that?  Live long and prosper...

xkcd: circuit diagramThe incredible xkcd with a circuit diagram...  I love it!

In re ultracycling: That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger.  Very interesting, the degree to which success in endurance events is mental rather than physical.  I completely agree with this; when I failed to complete the Furnace Creek 508 last October, it was because my head said no, not my body.  [ via Kottke ]

Cadel Evans wins 2010 Fleche WallonneWow, congratulations to Cadel Evans for winning the 2010 Fleche Wallonne.  I'd kind of forgotten about Cadel, even though he's the current World Champion.  He is a factor.

Dave Winer: Vector Awareness, day two.  "I'm kind of disappointed that there wasn't much uptake on other blogs re what comes after location - but not really surprised."  He's not surprised because he thinks people underreact to blog posts.  I'm not surprised because his insight wasn't that earth-shattering :)

Amazing, Visa buys CyberSource for $2B.  Shows how much of Visa's total business and mindshare is now occupied by online transactions.

If you've been tracking the whole iPhone 4.0 developer agreement 3.3.1 clause thing, this will not be a shock, but sadly: Adobe throws in the towel on Flash for iPhone.  Essentially Apple has banned any applications from iDevices which were not written from scratch for iDevices, including especially anything written in Flash.

Android running on an iPhone!I’m just going to mention this because it is SO COOL and not because it is a solution; these guys were able to get Google’s Android running on an Apple iPhone! This is going down as one of the most amazing hacks of all time. They took a jailbroken iPhone (hacked to allow third party software) and then installed the Android OS. Amazing. Now track this… Android does not support Flash yet, but Google and Adobe have announced they are working together to make it so. Once they do, you could run Flash on an iPhone by jailbreaking it, installing Android, and then accessing websites from under Android. Something every user would know how to do :)

ZooBorn: baby BushbabyZooBorn of the day: a baby Bushbaby.

 
 

Archive: April 22, 2009

Wednesday,  04/22/09  10:32 PM

Today wasn't as nice weather-wise as yesterday - although one must admit it was nice - but I got a lot done and so it felt much nicer.  Squeezed in a nice ride too, and then took my kids out for dinner, and that was nice...  (okay, too much niceness, I know!)  And hopefully after a bit of blogging I can spend some time on Project Q, poor stepchild that it is...

... but first, a filter pass ...

(I generally read my RSS feeds twice a day, once in the morning, kind of a quick skim, and once at night, as I'm making a filter pass, and I've noticed I am much more likely to blog about something if I read about it in the night pass.  Pretty much I'm reading for news in the morning, and for features at night.  Huh)

cherry coupeToday was Earth Day, and Iowahawk celebrated with a wonderful virtual cruise-in, with readers submitting photos of their gas guzzlers in action.  I particularly enjoyed the various "hot rods"; a great blast from the past...  The giant two-cycle diesel engine was pretty amazing, too (check out the footholds so people can climb into the cylinders).

Earth Day predictions from 1970.  Aka, why you shouldn't believe the Earth Day predictions from 2009.  I predict you won't :)

CCR: Cosmo's Factory (1970)I'm linking this for the gratuitous Creedence Clearwater reference: and I wonder, still I wonder, who owns the rain...  You need to know that Cosmo's Factory was the first record I ever bought with my own money, and I listened to every song a million times...  at a volume which distressed my parents.  Note Fogerty on the bike.  I love it.  It might not be the best rock album of all time, but it belongs in the conversation...

Apple announced blowout second quarter results - congratulations to them, and in a recession, too - and Apple COO Tim Cook talked about Netbooks.  This was reported as "Apple to Netbooks, drop dead", but that's a terrible headline; what Cook actually said was "if we can find a way to deliver an innovative product that really makes a contribution, then we’ll do that".  That's the key.  Apple doesn't do anything if they can't deliver innovation and make a contribution.  That's why they had a blowout second quarter!

This Windows 7 Starter Edition stuff is kind of weird, isn't it?  A cheap version of Windows ($15) which only runs three apps.  Seems like Microsoft is doing exactly what Apple won't: they're releasing an inferior product at a low price.  Linux is going to rule this category, and maybe it will be a launching point for a Christensenian "attack from below"... remember, poor customers make poor customers.

Jawbone PrimeSo, there's a new Jawbone headset out, which makes me wonder: when will bluetooth headsets work?  You know, like, really work?  Everybody I know tried them for a while, and just about everybody I know doesn't use them anymore.  Bluetooth kits in the car, yeah, they work, bluetooth headsets, no.  Maybe Jawbone will break the code with this one.

BTW don't bother sending me email telling me your headset really works.  We both know you're lying :)

ZooBorns: baby CapybarasZooBorns of the day: baby Capybaras.  The world's largest rodent, but their babies are still cute :)

 
 

Archive: April 22, 2008

midnight special

Tuesday,  04/22/08  11:05 PM

You won't believe this, but I have to share it anyway.

I had a crappy day, but it ended great.  I am now enjoying a steak and a glass of Pinot after a nice ride.  A great ride actually.  I had a bad / complicated day at work, spent the day jumping onto the front lines.  It was a day of revelations followed by triage followed by quick decisions to move forward.  Frustrating :(  I almost didn't ride after work because I was frazzled and cold and just didn't feel like it.  But sometimes when you're frazzled riding helps.  And music.  So I take off for Oceanside, and almost the first song my iPod dials up is Midnight Special, by Creedence Clearwater.  This has to be the world’s oldest song, but their version rocks.  Pretty soon I’m smiling and warming up and defrazzling.  I decide to random play Creedence – haven't listened to them in a while - and it was excellent.  I get to the pier in Oceanside just in time to watch the sun set into the ocean, and my iPod selects Long as I can see the Light.  And then I ride down along the ocean, and as I get to Leucadia the moon appears, and my iPod gives me Bad Moon Rising.  I am not making this up, I had chills, it was that excellent.  I get back and I decide yes I need a steak and some Pinot.  So here I am.  And as I walk into the restaurant the house sound system plays… Midnight Special.  Whoa.

 

Tuesday,  04/22/08  11:32 PM

So, have we elected a new President yet?  What's that, this is just the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania?  Oh, sorry.  From the volume level in the news, I really thought we must be electing a new President.  Well anyway it seems Hillary is going to win, and so the Barack & Hillary show will continue for a while.  This whole thing is so weird, isn't it?  And you know, if the Democrats used a straightforward selection process like the Republicans do, Hillary would be so far ahead the contest would be over, with Obama just a footnote.  We'd be talking about McCain vs Clinton.  Well, it is what it is...

Gerard Vanderleun has a great post: The Dane's ask why bother.  "We in Denmark cannot figure out why you are even bothering to hold an election.  On one side, you have a b*tch who is a lawyer, married to a lawyer, and a lawyer who is married to a b*tch who is a lawyer.  On the other side, you have a true war hero married to a woman with a huge chest who owns a beer distributorship.  Is there a contest here?"  Politics defies logic :)

Aptera electric carCheck this out: Aptera.  0-60 in 10s, 85mph max, range 120 miles on electric.  Of course you have to be from Missouri with all these electric vehicles, until they're shipping (really shipping) you just don't know.  But it looks cool.  As the price of gas continues to rise (now routinely over $4.00/gallon in SoCal) the value proposition of electric cars gets better and better...

Men on the Moon!Scientific American: Fifty Years of American Space ExplorationAwesome, that's just about all I can say.  This is truly important work.  We can do everything we can to preserve the environment here on Earth - and we should - but eventually we will use up its resources, that is inevitable, and we will have to find new places to live.  Not to mention, new friends from alien races!  What a great time to be alive.

I am always struck by how much was accomplished so long ago, with such primative technology.  We put a man on the moon in 1969!

Congratulations to Adam Engst and TidBITS on eighteen years of publishing.  That is nothing short of unbelievable.  I can remember receiving TidBITS in the old SETEXT format through my CompuServe account, on my Mac SE II.  That was before I could even spell Internet.  And through all that time it has remained a valuable and interesting source of information about Macs...

Just wanted to sing praises to this Online Icon Maker from RealWorld Graphics, which I've found really useful.  I typically design icons in Photoshop, but then use this tool to convert them into an Icon file.  Works great.

Doc Searles: Grand Canyon TourDoc Searles gives us a Free Grand Canyon Plane Tour.  Wow!  Amazingly these pictures were taken by Doc through the window of a commercial jet.  The scale and variation of the Grand Canyon is unbelievable.

 

 

 

 
 

Archive: April 22, 2007

 

Archive: April 22, 2006

 

Archive: April 22, 2005

 

Archive: April 20, 2004

Tuesday,  04/20/04  10:25 PM

Terry Heaton reports the recent South Korean elections were decided by citizen-powered news.  "The liberal Uri Party swept into power [April 15] in the National Assembly elections, ending 44 years of conservative rule in the country.  What you'll likely NOT read is that this was accomplished largely through the steady efforts of a New Media entity that fought the conservative press in South Korea.  OhMyNews! is an Internet-based media company that took on the giants and won in its bid for influence.  In so doing, it has involved young people in the political process in record numbers and turned the whole culture on its ear.  It's a wake-up call for traditional media everywhere."  [ via Bill Hobbs ]  In this connection, it is worth pointing out that South Korea has the highest per-capita broadband penetration of any country, as well as the highest average hours-spent-surfing.

Josh Marshall can't figure out why the latest polls have Bush gaining on Kerry, despite, as he puts it "two or three weeks when the news for his White House has been universally and profoundly bad - principally because of the uptick in fighting in Iraq, but also because of the 9/11 business."  It's really quite simple.  War is the right issue.  As long as "war news" dominates the headlines, Bush will win.

Einstein probe launchEinstein is off!  The Gravity Probe B satellite designed to test general relativity has been successfully launched into space.  Excellent.

The article notes: "Mission controllers grounded the probe for 24 hours due to uncertainty about flight software during the countdown on Monday."  Ah yes, the software release control problem :)

I'm not sure what to make of this: Schwarzenegger promises California 'Hydrogen Highway' by 2010.  "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an order Tuesday for California to have a network of stations offering the pollution-free hydrogen fuel up and down the state within six years."  Interesting.

Rafe Needleman contemplates Skype economics.  Skype is a new P2P voice-over-IP offering; unlike Vonage it uses your computer rather than a 'phone as the handset, and also unlike Vonage it is free rather than $30+ per month.  On both counts it seems like a worse business.  We'll see, but I think Skype will go the way of Kazaa (Skype founder Niklas Zennstrom's previous venture); a wildly popular app which does not lead to a commercial success.

conformateurDo you know what this is?  Mark Frauenfelder asks the question.  It seems the prevailing theory is that it is a "conformateur"; a device for measuring the shape of a person's head by poking little holes in a piece of paper fastened in the oval clip shown hinged open, for the purpose of making a form-fitting hat.  To me it looks like a Riven linking book holder :)

CCTV headquartersGoing Dutch - in style.  Slate features Rem Koolhaas, "the most influential architect of the last decade."  The picture at right depicts the CCTV headquarters building, in Bejing.  Awesome - sculpture you can work inside!

A medical mood ring: "MIT mechanical engineers Harry Asada and Phillip Shaltis have developed a 'ring sensor' that monitors the wearer’s temperature, heart rate, and blood oxygen level.  The battery-powered ring contains a wireless link that can transmit vital signs to a cell phone or computer, allowing a caregiver to determine remotely whether a patient needs assistance."  This is the future, and it's here now.

Wired reports Science Women Get Cinematic Boost.  Two new movies in preparation chronicle the lives of Rosalind Franklin, the under-publicized third hero of the discovery of DNA, and Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood pinup who filed a patent on spread-spectrum technology.  Wow.

The NYTimes: Studios Rush to Cash in on DVD Boom.  "Between January and mid-March this year, Americans spent $1.78 billion at the box office.  But in the same period they spent $4.8 billion - more than $3 billion more - to buy and rent DVD's and videocassettes."  Which suggests there's a market for video-on-demand...  [ via Dave Winer ]

scissors in X-rayYahoo: "An X-ray showing a 17 centimeter (6.7 inches) pair of surgical scissors in the abdomen of 69-year-old Pat Skinner in Sydney, Australia.  Mrs Skinner had an operation at St.George hospital in Sydney's south in May 2001, but continued to suffer intense pain and it was only when she insisted on an x-ray 18 months later that she discovered the scissors inside."

BW wonders Can .Mac withstand the G-force?  Essentially this is the editors' suggestion that Apple abandon their .mac service in favor of a co-branded offering of Google's new email service.  This isn't a horrible idea, but why do the BW editors continuously try to run Apple?  They periodically admire Steve Jobs for doing a great job, but they can't help trying to run it themselves, anyway.

Apple powerbooks		Apple just made their G4 powerbooks faster and lower the prices, too.  They recently reported a strong quarter led by sales of the new mini iPods.  They must be doing something right :)

In Search Boosters for your PC BW admires X1.  I, too, feel X1 is a good thing; if you're not using it to search your Outlook folders and hard drives, you should be.

Interesting article on InfoWorld: Can email be saved?  Six pundits give their solutions to the problem of spam.

 
 

Archive: April 22, 2003

Tuesday,  04/22/03  12:00 AM

A busy day in the blogosphere...  enjoy!

John Tabin picked up the April 5 issue of le figaro, a French newsmagazine; the cover asks "Iraq, the next Vietnam?"  Talk about crummy timing...

L.T.Smash: Desert Bloom.  "After Friday prayers, a large group of men protested the US military presence.  No one was arrested, tortured, or executed afterwards."

Here's a cool site: How Americans can buy American.  Including extensive lists of French and German companies to boycott...

Ask Jeeves follows Alta Vista and Yahoo and does a search engine redesign.  Competition is good!  But, with Google as the clear leader, the others have to differentiate...  Why would I use Ask Jeeves?  I don't know.

Another terrific day-by-day today.  Becoming a daily habit for me...

Mitch Kapor of Lotus fame has released Chandler, an Open Source PIM.  Can it compete with Outlook?  Who knows, there was a time I didn't think Mozilla could compete with IE, but now I use it all the time...

A busy day for online music:

This is really cool.  Slashdot describes Synapse: "Students at Caltech and Harvard have developed a system that analyzes playlists and learns people's listening patterns.  It then channels its knowledge into generating streams of music that the people themselves would like to listen to."

Speaking of music, MacCentral reports Apple will hold a special event April 28 featuring "announcements that will be music to your ears".  Probably not the rumored acquisition of Universal Music Group, more likely the rumored debut of Apple's online music service.  BTW, Motley Fool has an interesting analysis: American Idle - about the state of the music industry and why Apple and Universal would be a good fit.

NapsterAnd - remember Napster?  Of course you do.  Well, Salon reviews a new book about the rise and fall of Napster, "A file-trading ship of fools".  My brief personal experience with their engineering team confirms - they had a great idea and a great application, but a terrible business.

Real buys Listen.com.  Yep.  $36M for a service (Rhapsody) which took $150M in investment to get started, not a bad deal.

Motorola takes Wi-Fi to the living room.  So does everyone else :)

In a former life I was GM of Intuit's online billpay service...  at the time, consumer adoption was lower than analysts expected, and we said consumer adoption would not really begin until online billpay was "better than free".  Well, C|Net reports Banks are offering sweetners to paying bills online.  This could do it.  And this is why: Banks cash in as more bills are paid online.  We all know someday all bills will be paid online, but will it be in five years, ten, or fifty?

{ I've been paying bills online with Quicken for ten years.  Writing checks is so 1900s. }

Discover reports you can turn anything into oil.  But Steven Den Beste says nope.

Tim Blair thinks the Mac needs one more key.  I agree.  Although the MacOS has better usability than Windows in many ways, the lack of consistent keyboard shortcuts is a defect.  After that, he goes on beyond Zebra!

Robert Scoble keeps describing joining Microsoft as "taking the Red pill".  I don't know.  Microsoft is a great company, no question, but with Windows and Office they are the Matrix.  I actually think joining Microsoft might be "taking the Blue pill".  And I think part of taking the Blue pill is that it makes you think you took the Red pill...

 

Fehlervorhersagefreude

Tuesday,  04/22/03  05:07 PM

As you know, I've been looking for a word which means "a malicious satisfaction in the mispredictions of others".  And here it is:

Fehlervorhersagefreude (fail-or-vor-hair-sock-froid-uh)

The derivation: schadenfreude is a German word made from two German words, schaden ("damage") and freude ("delight").  Schadenfreude means damage-delight.  After consultation with my Mom we decided to start with fehlervorhersage, which means "failure prediction".  Tacking on freude ("delight"), we get fehlervorhersagefreude, or failure-prediction-delight.  Perfect.

I was a reluctant supporter of invading Iraq; I was conflicted by the potential for disaster in not doing anything, vs. the potential for disaster in doing the wrong thing.  Once America began the process, I became a supporter; it seems like you have to pull together in these things.  And I am pleased beyond any expectation that we triumphed militarily so quickly, and at such a low cost in lives.  (H.D.Miller concludes that the war killed fewer Iraqis in a month than Saddam's regime did...)  Of course there are still many ways to fail, but so far so good.  Certainly the dire predictions of some anti-war pundits have not come to pass, and they look downright embarrassing in the rear view mirror:

I just read "Soaking the Rich", a column by Geoffrey Colvin in Fortune about what the war will cost in dollars, and how that cost will be borne.  This column was published on March 31, nine days before the fall of Baghdad, and it estimates that the war would last six months, and cost the average American $260.

Yesterday I relayed John Tabin's note about the April 5 cover of le figaro, which asks, "Iraq, the next Vietnam?"  The San Francisco Bay Guardian asked the same question on April 2.

It isn't important to rub it in (although it may be fun), but what is important is to keep a sense of perspective.  The common mistake of all mispredictions was drawing conclusions too soon.  It was entirely plausible that coalition military action in Iraq could have become a quagmire, but to declare it so after two weeks, as the San Francisco Chronicle did, was hasty.  Similarly, The Statesman has declared the peace to be a quagmire, after only a week.  (The interval for quagmire declaration seems to be diminishing...  time was, a good quagmire took several years to develop...)

I'll try to remember, as I indulge in Fehlervorhersagefreude, that history is written over decades and centuries, not weeks and months.  The mis-prognosticators could still be right.  Nah!

 

Tuesday,  04/22/03  07:06 PM

Man, is eBay a money machine, or what?  They again beat their numbers, easily, and raised guidance.  Of all the business models to emerge from the dot-com era, theirs is one of the most novel, and clearly the best.  I used to think they couldn't keep up their growth, but it is hard to bet against their track record...

New monitor: SARSWatch.  The graphs on the home page pretty much tell the story.  Nobody can say this virus is under control or even understood yet.  The BBC is reporting the SARS virus is mutating rapidly.  Bad news for would-be vaccine developers, but could be good news for the rest of us; perhaps the virus will become less virulent.  The CDC confirms "we are not out of the woods yet".  They know that in Bejing, they've closed all schools for two weeks.  Scary.

Ralph Peters considers Palestinian Reality in the NYTimes.  "The Arab world is as addicted to blame as any junkie was ever addicted to heroin."  [ via LGF ]

Ken Layne revives the fascinating tale of "that photograph" of the space shuttle Columbia (remember the purple corkscrew?)  Yeah, why haven't we seen it?

VodkaPundit: Hit the road, Jacque.  No more French wine and cheese for him.  (Nor for me, either.  You see how useful the blogosphere can be - I found an American Camembert in the comments.)

Remember the great Wither Apple debate?  Well, John Gruber pretty much nails it in this article; he makes great points about why it would be hard and stupid for Apple to go to Intel, and in the process explains Apple's positioning and strategy.  So be it.  [via No Signal, who also links the cautionary tale of Next, a Steve Jobs company which tried the transition from proprietary to commodity hardware, and failed.]

Speaking of processors architectures (we were, sort of); it's hammer time!  Today AMD released the Opteron.  Of course Tom's Hardware has conducted benchmarks, and finds a dual-Operton dusts a dual-Xeon.  IBM has noticed; these babies will really cook with Linux.  Yeah, if I were Intel I would not enjoy this; the Itaniums live in a different world.  And Microsoft can't be thrilled either - Windows can't take advantage of their 64-bit architecture...

More Napster stuff - Universal and EMI have sued Hummer Winblad, John Hummer, and Hank Barry, alleging that their investment in Napster contributed to widespread Internet piracy.  I totally disagree with the premise and the idea that investors can be sued for investing, but I must say it couldn't happen to a nicer group of VCs :)

Finally - have you noticed how many commercials are widescreen?  Is the programming starting to go that way, too?  Maybe 16:9 is the future of TV.  It sure makes sense for viewing movies.  Although PCs are going to stay 4:3, I would guess...

 
 

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