Critical Section

Archive: May 26, 2015

Tuesday,  05/26/15  07:26 PM

Back at work after a loong pleasant weekend "off"; checking in with colleagues, partners, customers, and of course coding.  And making a filter pass!

Steven KruiswijkI haven't blogged about the Giro d'Italia this year, but I am watching it, and it has been tremendous fun.  Even the "flat" stages have had surprised on GC, with crashes and such, and several breakaways have defied the odds and succeeded.  Can't wait to see today's killer stage up the Mortirolo, a legendary climb considered by Lance Armstrong to be the toughest climb he'd ever ridden.  (Did he ever ride the Angliru?  Must check.)  Anyway I'm rooting for Steven Kruiswijk, the young Dutchman, who has been impressive as one of the only riders who can stay with Alberto Contador in the big mountains.

Great advice for graduates, from Ted Nugent:

  1. Life is not fair.  Get used to it.
  2. Social justice is a commie scam.  Read the drivel of Saul Alinsky and fight it with all you've got.
  3. Nobody owes you jacksquat.  You will either earn your own way, or feel like a helpless leech.  There is no middle ground.
  4. Economic equality is for sheep.  If you really believe we are all equal in our capabilities you will go nowhere.

(I can't help it, reading this, I could hear those amazing opening chords of Stranglehold playing... :)

result of minimum wage: robot food serviceLaw of unintended consequences hits liberals again.  Sigh.  I must write more about this whole minimum wage thing; the entire concept is flawed, and backfires immediately.

Related: Minimum wage hikes hit San Francisco comic book store.  "I'm hearing from a lot of customers, 'I voted for that, and I didn't realize it would affect you.'"  I have to say these people are too dumb to vote.

Agree entirely: Glenn Reynolds comments on the Irish vote to legalize gay marriage: "It's much better to see change happen this way than by judicial fiat."

Sting joins Jimmy Fallon to sing 'Roxanne' in a barbershop quintetSting joins Jimmy Fallon to sing Roxanne in a barbershop quintet.  Hehe... Excellent.

I have to say, Fallon has been great as the Tonight Show's new host.  His sense of playfulness and energy has revitalized the entire concept of a late night "talk" show.

Good news: Bats' white-nose syndrome may be cured.  Horrible disease obliterating the bat population, fought with bacteria.  Amazing.

animation: Taking the PlungeToday's best animation (and it's great): Taking the Plunge.  This student project feels as polished as a feature movie from Pixar.

How to mine Bitcoin with a 55-year-old mainframe.  A great description of what "mining" means in the context of Bitcoin.  I do think the challenge for Bitcoin is going to come from distributed swarms of mobile phones, not ancient mainframes :)

Okay, now to settle down and watch the queen stage of the Giro.  Please pass the popcorn!


Archive: May 27, 2014

Tuesday,  05/27/14  11:15 PM

minions!My goodness; nearly two weeks since my last filter pass.  Let's get on with it then, shall we?

Why should read The Circle, even if you don't buy it.  I'm reading it, and while it is interesting, yeah, I don't buy it.  It's tough to like a book which has such a strong point of view, especially when none of the characters are likeable.  I'm struggling on...

Meanwhile, I enjoyed Hatching Twitter tremendously.  What a story; four co-founders, all of whom contributed and none of whom are still involved in the day-to-day workings of the company.  Such politics, such intrigue, and yet the company survived and indeed prospered.  One gets the impression it all worked out because of the strength of the product, and the essential simplicity of the business model.

illusion of life, animation explainedOn the illusion of life; "The 12 basic principles of animation were developed by the 'old men' of Walt Disney Studios."  Excellent.

Wow: Image is everything: Snapchat tops WhatsApp as biggest US messaging app by volume.  It certainly could do with image search :)

Apropos: Facebook goes after Snapchat, again.  "If you guys were the inventors of Snapchat, you'd have invented Snapchat."  Hehe.

Chef ... TwitterReminds me to mention: great movie I've seen recently: Chef.  In which a chef's son uses social networking to wildly publicize his father's food truck.  There's a lot more to it than that ... watch it!

Marketing by Beats by Dre.  "It's easy to see why Apple might want to buy them."  Nope, I don't get it.  I don't see the fit, and moreover, if this was real, I wouldn't expect to see so much information leak ahead of time.  I believe there were discussions, but will be surprised if they actually lead to a deal.

Saturn: Greatest Show Off EarthAwesome: The Greatest Show Off Earth.  Indeed it is.

quadcopter at Big Sur, watching the Amgen TourThis is so cool: Stunning quadcopter coverage from Big Sur at Amgen Tour.  You can see where this kind of thing is going to become much more common, and soon we'll see sporting events from every conceivable angle.

Meanwhile I have to say, the video coverage of this event was awful.  The frame rate stuttered constantly, and the compression artifacts were ridiculous.  Embarrassing, really; when life cycle racing coverage in Europe is so excellent.

Agree entirely: Stop forcing people to wear bike helmets.  The nanny state is unnecessary and unwanted.

Speaking of which: Why global warming alarmism isn't science.  "Global warming alarmism fails the test of science. The alarmists' models generate one false prediction after another."  Note, this doesn't not mean global warming isn't occurring, only that we do not have models which correctly predict it.

Met collection onlineExcellent: Met puts huge image trove online.  (You can browse it here...)  There is going to be more and more of this, and it will be an incredible resource for widespread image search.

stunning world of fungiAbsolutely beautiful: Stunning photos reveal the enchanting world of fungi.

Dave Winer: In news, the front page is the first problem.  "When Twitter started owning the news cycle, that's what they call in business a "competitive threat." You can choose to respond or not respond. But if you don't respond, you pretty much always lose."  Yep.

On the future of Metafilter.  Google are the gatekeeper for traffic on the web, no question.  What can break their hegemony?  (Images?)

star trail photosAwesome: Stunning digitally composited star trail photos.  Way cool.  This could have been done with film, of course, but digital makes this stuff so much easier.

Wrapping up...  the proven way to add value:  "Do extremely difficult work."  Which might be true, and begs the question, "what makes work difficult?"  I claim it isn't doing it, it is knowing what to do.


Archive: May 27, 2013


Archive: May 27, 2012


Archive: May 27, 2011

Friday,  05/27/11  05:04 PM

cozy home :)Well I'm back home after a rather thought-provoking offsite; feels like I've been on the road *forever*.  Looking forward to a nice evening and then tomorrow I'm riding a tough century, the Heartbreak Hundred.  In the meantime I'm thinking ... and blogging.

Wow, happy 20th birthday, Visual Basic.  I totally remember VB v1, how revolutionary it was, and how easy it was to create graphical user interfaces (compared to "Petzold" programming in C).  Truly a major factor in Microsoft's success.

Of course I must add, about ten years ago they broke it rather badly; VB.NET has never been as easy to use or as cool as VB...

Eight reasons web workers should look forward to Windows 8.  Hmmm... are you looking forward to Windows 8?  Me neither.  Seems likely to be a disaster, like Windows Vista, and it won't be until Windows 9 that they fix it.

Hmmm: iPad causes Windows sales to shrink for the first time ever.

Cringley: What Microsoft should do.  Windows 8 is not his answer.

Google WalletAnd so Google announces Google Wallet, a way to use your Android Phone as a payment instrument via NFC.  I'm trying to decide whether I think this will matter.  Somehow it feels like it won't.  Maybe it's that Citi logo :)  Or more likely, the fact that Google have never succeeded at anything that required customer service.

Excellent detailed description from 2ality.

Did you know?  The computer science job market is red hot.  Unlike the job market for, say, automotive assemblers.  This is what's weird about the economy right now, some parts of it are at a much different temperature than others.

single home protection leveesKind of sad that these are necessary, but kind of amazing that they exist: single home protected levees.  Wow.

Your next phone will work better outside - because it will block glare in concert with polarized sunglasses.  Great idea, presently, phones suck outside.

Good stuff: six key principles of a successful acquisition:

  1. Keep principal objectives consistent
  2. Understand probability
  3. Option value
  4. Aligning incentives
  5. Buying market leaders
  6. Synergies, synergies, synergies

Cisco seems to understand how to make these work, unlike so many other tech companies.  Look at Yahoo for an example of destroying value through acquisition.  Even Google doesn't have this nailed.

I couldn't believe when I saw this, but Salon has a celebratory review of Seattle restaurant Canlis, where I've personally dined and enjoyed one of the finest meals ever.  Awesome.  If you're ever there ... yeah.

Porsche iApp measures your car's G-forceI need this!  Porsche iApp measures your vehicle's G-force while accelerating, braking, and cornering.  Yes!

ZooBorn: rare white Kiwi chickZooBorn of the week: rare white Kiwi chick.  Awww...


Archive: May 23, 2010

Amgen Tour of California: Stage 8 - Rockstore!

Sunday,  05/23/10  10:30 PM

Today was the *big* day; 2010 Amgen Tour of California stage 8, a four-lap circuit race right in my hometown, including the fabulous Rockstore climb I'm always telling you about, and the terrifying descent down Decker Canyon.  I was there (!), and managed to wangle an invitation into the Amgen VIP compound.  It was great.

Setting the stage, going in to this final day Michael Rogers of HTC/Columbia was leading overall, followed by Dave Zabriske of Garmin-Transitions 9s back, and Levi Leipheimer of Team Radio Shack 25s behind in third.  BTW those three finished 1-2-3 last year, and they figured to do it again; but in which order?  With such a tough finishing stage, anything was possible.

Naturally I took pictures, and naturally I'm going to share them with you.  Here we go:

I began at the finish :) in Westlake Village; all calm right now... but later will be a madhouse

riding up Rockstore, there it is, the Rockstore itself,with a zillion motorcycles parked in front as usual
there was a huge crowd here to drink beer, hang out, and oh yeah watch those cyclist guys

the climb was packed with cars and people and bikes and tents
lots of people chalking the road, too

here it is, the Amgen VIP compound, located on that last big turn before the top

yippee I'm in

the Amgen area included the peak overlooking the turn - and the whole valley
the red arrow shows where I stationed myself, an awesome spot
note the DJ in the foreground, rocking the Rockstore...

the view of the valley from the peak was unbelievable
the entire climb was visible, it was possible to watch the riders all the way up
the red arrow shows the location of the Rockstore at the base

overview of Amgen compound and the final straight of Rockstore up to the KOM point
note the crowds - it was really packed

and so the race is on!
on lap two a breakaway of seven riders formed, including George Hincapie
here they have about 2:30 on the peloton

the peloton fragmented behind the break
with the GC men and their domestiques in the chase group
tucked in note Rogers (yellow jersey), Zabriske (orange helmet), and Levi (red and black kit)

check out the size of the "peloton" after 35 miles of racing

the leaders on lap three
R-to-L: Chris Horner leads Rogers, Rory Sutherland, and Levi, with Zabriske at the far left

on the final lap the break itself broke; here are leaders Baredo, Pujols, and Hincapie
George was the crowd favorite (of course) and looked great for the win

after a series of attacks the GC men pulled out from what was left of the peloton
Levi, Rogers, and Zabriske mark each other, followed by Horner, Ryder Hesjedal, and Thomas Rabou
with no gaps by this point it was evident that Rogers was on his way to the overall win

the leaders crest Rockstore on the final lap
what a marvelous sight!

After the peloton passed I rode down Rockstore and cut through Triunfo Canyon to Westlake Village, but instead of heading for the finish line I headed home, so I could watch the whole thing on Versus.  Which I did, amazed that only a few minutes ago I had actually been there.

Oh, you want to know what happened?  Well, on the Mulholland rollers between Rockstore and Decker Hesjedal attacked, and Horner went with him.  They ended up catching the three leaders on the descent, and that group of five sprinted it out to the finish, with Hesjedal edging out George for the win.  Congratulations to him but boo; I was really rooting for George to get it.  Horner was third.

Must make a point of recognizing Thomas Rabou who won King of the Mountains going away.  A promising young rider on Rabobank, he had a horrible accident which took him over a year to recover from, and is now coming back as a member of Team Type 1.  He's been living a dream this week.

And in the GC it ended up being a parade; after all that work Rogers, Zabriske, and Levi finished together, and so they ended up on the podium in that order.  A great win for Rogers, and poor Dave finishes second in the ATOC for the third time.  Maybe next year!

Another fantastic day watching pro cycling... and this time right in my own town, on a climb I ride myself just about every week.  I'll never do it again without thinking of today.  How did I get here? :)


Sunday,  05/23/10  10:47 PM

Wow, quite a weekend, what with Megan's par-tay yesterday and the Amgen Tour stage today.  And so whew I get to relax... no wait that's wrong, I get to fly on a red-eye to Philadelphia!  I am in fact sitting at LAX at this very moment, waiting for my [late] flight to board.  Upon arrival it will be a day of meetings, followed by two days of customer visits, with a late flight back Wednesday and then a trip to Vista on Thursday.  I will be one tired puppy.  But don't worry, I will blog :)

the Treatment - the search for drugs to fight cancerThe latest issue of the New Yorker features a fascinating article by Malcolm Gladwell, The Treatment (PDF), about the search for drugs to fight cancer.  A must read even if you aren't in the business of building tools for cancer researchers like I am.

Dog bites man story of the day: HP confirms slate to run WebOS.  I bet it won't suck, and in fact might give Apple's iPad a run for your money.  Of course as with any platform the key will be the availability of content; will there be WebOS Apps?  Or perhaps the question should be will there be web apps.  You could see a version of Chrome for the WebOS too, including flash...

In this regard, it is interesting to ponder whether the Android platform is fragmenting [already].  What's important here is not bifurcation of versions or features, but whether all versions support the same apps.  E.g. Chrome + web = commonality.

More on Apple vs Google, in the wake of the Google I/O announcements: Robert Scoble posts hey Apple, you have mobile competition, and Eric Raymond thinks now's a bad time to be an Apple fanboy.  I love this from Scoble: “Hello?  This is Scoble.  You’re not calling me on your iPhone, are you?  Why do you say that?  Because I can hear you."  Ouch.  And Eric concludes "Apple has been outflanked by Google’s multi-vendor strategy, outsold in new unit sales, and is now outgunned in technology and user-visible features. Again, I was expecting this…but not so soon."  In this battle between two successful companies I don't see a loser, and for sure we consumers are the winners!

Stage 8 of the ATOC featured beautiful shots of Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake VillagePS to my ATOC stage 8 report, not only did Ryder Hesjedal and Michael Rogers win, but so too did the cities of Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village.  There were huge crowds everywhere, and the PR value of all those beautiful aerial helicopter shots is incalculable.

Oh and in the other big cycling race taking place at the moment, Ivan Basso won stage 15 of the Giro!  David Arroyo remains the overall leader, as the GC favorites continue to recover time from that amazing break which shuffled the standings.  They have a rest day tomorrow but then a week of climbing left.

Zooborn: quail chickWrapping up, the ZooBorn of the weekend is this quail chick.  Wow.  I must tell you I am a sucker for cute chicks :)


Archive: May 26, 2009

hunter lecturers (New Yorker, 5/25/09)

Tuesday,  05/26/09  10:21 PM

hunter lecturers

I love it.
aka "the evolution of language"...


Tuesday,  05/26/09  10:30 PM

Tough to get back into "work mode" this morning (at 4:00AM!), a productive day but a long one - work work work - good thing I enjoy my job because I certainly spent a lot of time on it :)  And then a little bike ride up and down the beach (today I thanked the world for allowing me to live in a place where I have such beauty to enjoy while riding) and then a nice dinner with friends / coworkers and then blogging and then... sleep!

My car's airconditioner has crapped out.  Crap.  It did it in a very unpromising ($$$!) way - loud bang followed by smoke coming out from under the hood.  Don't need the A/C but do need the $$$ it will take to fix it.  Not thinking about that right now ... nnnn ...

the most interesting ad on TVThe most interesting commercial on TV... features the most interesting man in the world.  I, too, don't always drink beer, but I, too, prefer Dos Equis when I do :)  Stay thirsty, my friends!

chicken racing :)Interesting note from Gerard Vanderleun, Marijuana Country: "The tax-free produce of this fertile region probably produces the only section of California that isn't bankrupt."  You'll have to click through for more on the picture :)

Great new feature in PayPal: balance manager.  Automatically transfers money when your account goes below $X to reset it to $Y.  This is huge for me; the main reason I have to carry two credit cards is that I often forget to check my PayPal balance (which affects the amount available through my PayPal debit card).  Ah, it's the little things in life...

Euro Disney in 3D on Google EarthGoogle Earth have added a bunch of new 3D models, among them Euro Disney.  Cool.  Now I can go there without, um, going there.

frankenwatch!Is this the world's ugliest watch?  I think it might be, amid stiff competition.  Isn't it amazing that people keep trying to come up with new innovative watch designs, even though just about everything now contains a clock?

Apparently Time Warner are considering spinning out their AOL subsidiary...  after trying and failing to find a buyer.  The $147B "merger" of AOL and Time in early 2001 has to be considered the peak of the dot-com bubble as well as the "jump the shark" moment.  AOL has declined amazingly since then, are they even relevant?  Who uses AOL anymore, for anything?

Adenovirus: cancer-cell killerExcellent: Virus Tamed To Destroy Cancer Cells But Leave Healthy Cells Unharmed.  "Scientists at Oxford University have tamed a virus so that it attacks and destroys cancer cells but does not harm healthy cells. They determined how to produce replication-competent viruses with key toxicities removed, providing a new platform for development of improved cancer treatments and better vaccines for a broad range of viral diseases."  What a cool approach, more please!

ZooBorns: baby MarkhorsEver heard of a Markhor?  Yeah, me either.  Well anyway they are endangered goat-antelopes indigenous to Central Asia, and their babies are cute...  ZooBorns of the day!


Archive: May 27, 2008

Tuesday,  05/27/08  10:55 PM

The King of Motrin checks in...  so I bruised a rib yesterday - ouch!, and it only hurts when I breathe.  I hardly slept a wink last night.  But I'm now bathing in Motrin, and feeling much better, so I have high hopes for tonight :)

Randall Parker asks If you could rejuvenate three parts of your body...  I know what I'd answer right now :)  Seriously, what is your list?  Mine would be brain, immune system, heart...

Saturn from CassiniSome space porn: awesome shots of Saturn taken by Cassini.  You know they just don't even look real, they are so cool.

amazing sea slugCliff Kuang is guestblogging for Jason Kottke, and links these amazing pictures of sea slugs.  Wow.  Beautiful and awe-inspiring; kind of like plants, where you wonder how evolution could have created them...

Bertalan Meskó announced that he will be teaching the first Medicine 2.0 course, at the University of Debrecen.  How cool is that?  And he'll be posting all his slideshows online (of course); stay tuned for links and commentary...

Danny Hillis on Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine.  "When we finally picked the name of the company, Thinking Machines Corporation, Richard was delighted. 'That's good. Now I don't have to explain to people that I work with a bunch of loonies. I can just tell them the name of the company.'"  Really cool.  [ via John Guber ]


Archive: May 17, 2007

entrepreneurs inside the machine

Thursday,  05/17/07  08:43 AM

entrepreneurs inside the machineFortune discusses Entrepreneurs Inside the Machine, regarding integrating acquired entrepreneurs into a big company.

I find this to be an important issue, as a shareholder as well as an entrepreneur.  In the early days the value of a company like Aperio lies largely in its people.  Over time the value becomes institutionalized, and moves into the customers, the market approach, the brand, the products, etc.  (Not that people don’t remain important, but they become relatively less important.)  If an acquiring company plans to realize the maximum value from an acquisition, they must either provide a good home to those people, or wait until the value has shifted away from the people.  Or both.

From my personal experience Intuit bought its billpay business (which was a separate company) too soon, the key people left, and the value was not fully realized.  Digital Insight went public, experienced turnover without losing value (over a period of years), and was then ultimately acquired by Intuit, long after the value had moved.  PayPal went public, experienced a great deal of turnover and lost some value (over a period of a year), and was then ultimately acquired by eBay.  The value to eBay has been immense, but there was an even larger and more valuable business inside PayPal which wasn’t fully realized.  At one time we legitimately spoke of forming a rival to Wells Fargo and Citibank, now that seems silly.  (Many of the PayPal people who left went on to start other successful businesses, YouTube being the highest profile example.  Maybe someday Aperio will be another :)


The Bakeoff

Thursday,  05/17/07  10:49 PM

the bakeoffI'd like to refer you to The Bakeoff, an amazing article that I recommend to everyone.  Really excellent, really thought-provoking.

This was published in the New Yorker a couple of years ago, and I can't find it anywhere online so I’ve scanned it. 

The article is superficially about the quest for a healthier cookie.  At a level down it is actually as much about software development – or innovation in general – as it is about baking; Joel Spolsky is quoted, as is Linus Torvalds, and the philosophy of “open source” is examined, and “extreme programming” is debunked.  Jon Udell posted a nice overview if you're too busy to read it all, but the writing is excellent so I recommend you do when you can.  The author is Malcolm Gladwell (of The Tipping Point and Blink), and he nails it.

P.S. This is an example of the kind of thing you can't find anywhere else.  I can't stand the New Yorker’s politics, or the way they seem to sneer at anyone not in New York, but the magazine is invaluable as a bulletin board for this sort of stuff.


bigger than baseball

Thursday,  05/17/07  11:03 PM

Barry Bonds is back in the news as he nears Hank Aaron's record of 755 lifetime home runs.  Which recalls this fantastic New Yorker cover, from April 3, 2006:

bigger than baseball
(click to make even bigger :)

Big news - I love it!


Archive: May 27, 2006


Archive: May 27, 2005

Friday,  05/27/05  10:56 PM

What's happening?  Well, let's see, shall we...

U.S. Constitution - one handwritten pageE.U. Constitution - 325 printed pagesThere's a great post on the Horse's Mouth about the upcoming referendum on the EU Constitution.  Tellingly, he's posted a picture of the US Constitution (a single handwritten page) and one of the proposed EU Constitution (325 pages of small print in a bound book).  Any questions?

So what do we make of Peter Lynds?  According to Wired, he is an apparent genius who has published a Physics paper 'Time and Classical and Quantum Mechanics: Indeterminacy vs. Continuity', in which he maintains that time isn't quantized.  "In his theory, reality is merely sequences of events that happen relative to one another; time is an illusion."  If that sounds like mumbo-jumbo to you, it is.  The low-level definition of time is not related to causality, it is related to the structure of matter.  This is where you wish writers for Wired and their like were scientists instead of English majors...

Titan's bright spot!Leaving no Titan-related stone unturned, I must note CNN reports Bright spot on Titan baffles scientists.  "The Cassini spacecraft captured an image of the 300-mile (480-kilometer) blotch during a flyby of Titan earlier this year."  It probably isn't a surface feature, more likely a persistent weather feature like Jupiter's red spot.  Cool.  Oh, and here's a Slashdot thread on the same subject.

Again I have to note that Matt Webb consistently posts the most "different" stuff on the web.  He asks for a new RSS reader feature:  "Every so often it should silently hide one of the feeds.  If I notice, and if I remember what it was is that's been hidden, I should be able to say:  Hey, you forgot feed X, give it back!, and the application would say:  Okay then, you got me banged to rights, here it is.  If I don't notice or can't remember, the feed is deleted permanently."  I love it!

Eric Mack discusses how to get your kids interesting in computers.  Now this is a blog post that's going to change my world.  I am a computer guy - duh! - but my kids are computer users, which is a different thing.  As expert as they are in the use of various programs, the idea that they could actually create their own programs has not taken hold.  [ via Robert Scoble ]

I think part of the problem is that development environments are so complicated.  When I was a kid, you launched Basic and poof, there you were.  Understanding VS.NET is a task for a lifetime.  It doesn't have to be that complicated, but it is.

Apropos, Jeff Atwood notes Incompetence considered harmful.  I love his list of coding paradoxes:

  1. Wicked Problems.  You can't understand the problem you're trying to solve until you've partially solved it.
  2. Iterative development.  Users can't fully express what they want you to build until you build a version of the software for them to experience.
  3. Extreme skill disparities. The worst software developers are profoundly bad; the best software developers are absurdly good. 

the Sea OrbiterHere we have the Sea Orbiter.  "The SeaOrbiter has a decidedly futuristic look, and a contemporary purpose.  Its mission: to follow the currents and give scientists a platform from which to observe sea creatures on their home turf and to study the interaction between ocean and atmosphere (and their effect on climate)."  I suspect it won't really work, but it sure is beautiful.  [ via the Horse's Mouth ]

I've continued to try using the new Bittorrent Search and have concluded that it doesn't work.  Yet.  Maybe their spiders just need time.  The bottom line on any search engine is whether it can find the stuff you're looking for, and this one can't...

Livestrong braceletHalley notes Livestrong is one year old!  Wow.  47 million little yellow bracelets.  I wear mine everywhere (actually I'm on about my 3rd or 4th one), and I've noticed people don't ask about it as much; I think they know what it is, now.  Extremely cool.  As is the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

I need to mention once again the sheer excellence of  If you ever fly anywhere, you must visit this site to select your seats.  Did you know that all seats in an Alaska Air B-737 are not the same size?  Aha, I thought so.  And did you know that the MD-80 is quieter than the B-737 because the engines are in the rear?  See, it's useful.  Check it out!

By the way, this is the kind of site where I love Firefox with Adblock.  They have Doubleclick ads and Google ads, but you'd never know it if you visit it the way I do.

Donky Kong does Van Halen's Maxwell...Donkey Kong does Van Halen.  Yes, you probably have to see this to believe it.  And you must see it.  An amazing compendium of old computer game screenshots, beautifully strung together.  Maxwell Jump!  [ via Gerard Vanderleun, in a collective link-filled post entitled 'Instapundit Lite'.  Indeed. ]

the iGuyFinally, check out the iGuy, "Gumby for your iPod".  One of the many effects of the Internet has been the speed with which company A responds to a product released by company B.  In addition to being a success in and of itself, the iPod has spawned hundreds of other products.  Excellent!  [ via Engadget ]



Archive: May 20, 2004

RSS cookbook simplified

Thursday,  05/20/04  10:36 PM

The other day I posted an RSS cookbook, hoping to entice those of you who haven't yet discovered how cool RSS readers are to do so.  Well I figured out a way to make it even simpler, so if you haven't already, please check it out - again.  This will be worth it, I promise.


Thursday,  05/20/04  10:55 PM

Busy day, for me, for the world, and for the blogosphere...

The frustration Democrats have with the electorate is understandable; even after all the "bad news" from Iraq, cheered on by big media, Bush remains ahead in the polls.  Command Post notes Kerry is now trying to make the price of gas an issue.  That's a good tactic for him, but realistically there's little the President can do about them.  The world is running out of gas, and prices will continue to reflect supply and demand.

John Robb quotes the WSJ: "If current oil prices are sustained, the estimated losses at the airlines is expected to top $5B this year."  So be it.

Not shocking, but too bad; China Shelves Plan for Astronauts on Moon.  "China plans to build its own manned space station by around 2020 but has shelved plans to put a man on the moon for financial reasons."  So be it.

AlwaysOn: Video Gets Personal.  "Analysts generally seem to agree that the 'Tivo-ing' of America opens up new markets for on-demand Internet-based video content."  Yep.

So today I get an email from Vonage, offering to change my plan from $30/month to $25/month.  What!  No strings attached.  Excellent.  They also introduced a new $15/month plan which offers limited calling.  If you're still using analog phone lines, you are overpaying for phone service.

P.S. They're offering a $40 referral fee; if you sign up and let me refer you, I'll split it with you :)

Steve Sailer points out Mind - The Adaptive Gap, from the Scientist.  A nice review of the current state of evolutionary psychology.  "As a field, evolutionary psychology (EP) has the difficult, and some say untenable, mission of discerning whether complex human qualities--everything from sexual attraction to language--are adaptations honed through natural selection or just nonadaptive byproducts of a uniquely human collection of cognitive systems."  Great stuff.

The Heisenberg Penguins: The Scientist reports on a study which found penguins with flipper bands are late to breed and less successful at it.  (Sounds like a job for RFID.)

Seattle public library, designed by Rem KoolhaasIf you're a regular reader you know I like modern architecture, and especially Rem Koolhaas.  Check out these pictures of new Seattle public library.  Wow.  That's art.  (I love the floor of babble - what a great idea.)  Oh, and here are some QTVRs of the interior.  [ via Cult of Mac ]

PearPC - Mac OS X under WindowsWant to run Mac OS X on your PC under Windows?  (Slowly?)  The check out PearPC.  Here's a report from a guy who got it running....  The use case for this is weak, but I love it!

Mac SE web simulation, running OS 7Remember the old Mac SE?  I do, in fact I still have one (named Hen3ry).  Check this out - Oliver Soehlke & Lukas Pajonczek have created a web-based simulation (in German, no less)!  More proof that some people have too much free time.  I must say, it is cool.

It was pretty cool having the OS X screen shot (above, right) and the OS 7 screen shot (above, left) sitting side-by-side in Photoshop.  You've come a long way, baby :)

The Atlantic considers Broken Windows, from 1982.  This seminal work strongly influenced William Bratton, who first as New York Transportation police chief and then New York city police chief had unusual success by focusing on “broken windows” (literally and figuratively).  He was impressively successful at reducing graffiti and crime in New York, and subsequently wrote a book ("Turnaround") and then became L.A.’s police chief (!).  So far he's receiving high marks with his efforts here. 

Ongoing application of this theory may explain Why Is There a Plunge in Crime?

The Sun reports Star Wars Episode III will be called Birth of the Empire.  So be it.  "The highlight of the space epic will be a thrilling lightsabre clash between Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) while surfing on lava."  Cool.  In the wake of Episode II my expectations have been lowered to the point where I'll probably like this one.

MSNBC has a running commentary on "how Episode III can be saved".  I'm sure George Lucas appreciates the help (but probably not the suggestion that somebody else direct), but as the creator of what is arguably the most successful movie series in history, I doubt he really needs it.

Tuck Andress on learning to play guitar: It's the Guitar's Fault.  [ via Ottmar Liebert ]

Soon it may be illegal to drive while distracted in L.A.  What!  "Drivers distracted by eating, talking to pets or combing their hair could face new fines under a bill that passed the state Senate."  These guys have too much free time.  Are they kidding?  What if you're driving and a pretty girl catches your eye, does that count?  [ via Blogging L.A. ]

My friend Cynthia told me about this the other day, and I didn't believe her: Born a Boy, Raised a Girl, Became a Man.  "Dr. John Money, who had authored 40 books on human sexuality, had radical advice.  He believed that the gender of a person depends on how a child is raised rather than genetics."  This guy was a doctor?  Sigh.

Oh, but four trans-gender people are graduating from the LAPD police acadamy.  I am not making this up.  (I couldn't, I'm not that creative :) The four-letter word that can get people excited.  Hint: It starts with a B.  [ via Scoble ]

Bill Gates gets blogs and RSS, too.

The RSS bandwagon keeps rolling, Time and ESPN.  As Dave Winer says, big bing!

Want to get your feed wet with RSS?  Check out my RSS cookbook...


Archive: May 27, 2003

Tuesday,  05/27/03  09:19 PM

SARS Cases Per has a great new feature - a graph showing the number of new SARS cases each day.  This is probably the best metric for monitoring our progress.  The image at right is "live" to their site; refresh to get the latest version.  Clicking the image takes you to who are providing the data.

SARS emoticonsSign of the times - SARS emoticons for the Chinese version of MS Messenger.  [ via Boing Boing ]  It is so amazing how this infection has just permeated society in China so quickly.  Boing Boing has been doing a series on "SARS digital folk art", and it is fascinating.  Check it out...

BusinessWeek has a special report: Five Hurdles for Biotech.  Hurdle #1 is Decode the Causes of Diseases.  Interesting reading...  { A big part of this is Pathology.  Hey, we ought to automate pathology! }

Interesting analysis on Wired: Let Someone Else Do It, about Sony's and Universal's decision to sell their Pressplay service to Roxio (acquirer of the Napster brand).  "We are in the content business. We don't have to own the highway necessarily unless it is strategic to do so."  This makes sense to me.  Apple has shown the way - there is a market for a well-designed online music store.  The problem Roxio will have is whether the store will have only Sony and Universal music, limiting its appeal.

In other online music news, Apple tunes iTunes.  Cory Doctorow is not amused.  Basically there is a new release which restricts iTunes file sharing to a local network.  This doesn't seem horrible to me, Cory.  True, it was a capability which has been taken away, but this was never the service's selling point.  By preventing this sort of file sharing Apple stays on the side of big music, and without those relationships and all that music, the iTunes store would lose its appeal.

And finally, Real is dropping MusicNet to promote Rhapsody, which it bought from  They also dropped their prices; burning a track now costs $.79.  Yippee, competition!  MusicNet was EMI, TimeWarner, and Bertlesmann's lame counterpoint to Pressplay; each of these services only had the half of the music the other did not.

Slashdot reports Kazaa is on track to become the most-downloaded program ever, surpassing ICQ.  It has been downloaded over 220M times - amazing!  CNet notes File Swapping Shifts Up a Gear, and discusses eDonkey and BitTorrent, two newer P2P file sharing services.  ZDNet reports ISPs reel from P2P bandwidth hogs, and estimates 60% of 'net traffic is file sharing.  That doesn't seem hard to believe.  Apparently the Matrix Reloaded is available online, less than two weeks after the film was released.

Scoble: "All of you who are asking 'Is IE dead?' are asking the wrong question."  So what's the right question?  I have no inside information, but let's consider.  If 'Is IE dead?' is the wrong question, that means the answer doesn't matter.  The answers could be "yes" and "no".  If "yes" doesn't matter, that means IE is no longer the way you surf the Internet.  If "no" doesn't matter, it means all the functionality of IE is available elsewhere.  These answers mean something is taking IE's place.  Perhaps MS went ahead and built IE into Longhorn?  But would that be different?  There is already an ActiveX control with IE's functionality which can be plugged into any application.  IE is already in the desktop (the under-used but reasonably cool "active desktop").  IE already has access to the .NET CLR.  IE can already run ActiveX controls.  One could imagine a little deeper integration - maybe a URL input line on the taskbar.  Maybe the entire OS GUI is really just a browser window, with all OS "views" being web pages.  Stay tuned.

[ Later: Scoble posts an update, but does not answer the question... ]


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About Me

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Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
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unintelligent design
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On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
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how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
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