Critical Section

Archive: June 20, 2019

 

Archive: June 20, 2018

 

Archive: June 10, 2017

not liking not liking

Saturday,  06/10/17  01:37 PM

Hi all.  Still missing in action, I know*.

Anyway a quick update: I am not liking Not Liking.  I was about to do it, and it didn't feel right.  If you my friends want to post crappy crap about politics, who am I to judge.  I might not like it, but I won't Not Like it**.

* I'm either too busy or my priorities are messed up, possibly probably both.  I mean, I haven't even blog-bragged about sailing in Tahiti yet, and that was already a month ago.  Sigh.  And I haven't blogged about Tom Dumoulin winning the Giro, and about ... a lot.  But please stay tuned...

** I still reserve the right to hide your feed.  But you would never know, bwa ha ha.

 
 

Archive: June 20, 2016

 

Archive: June 18, 2015

Galapagos: island animals

Thursday,  06/18/15  10:58 PM

A beautiful advertising campaign for the islands of Galapagos, from Ecuador, showing the islands imagined as large animals.

I already had the Galapagos on my bucket list, this might bump the position up a little :)

 

 
 

Archive: June 15, 2014

happy Father's Day

Sunday,  06/15/14  05:18 PM

Happy Father's DayHappy Father's Day!  I'm celebrating in the usual way ... by eating and drinking a lot :)

That's me and my Dad.  I miss him.  Hi, Dad!

Awakening ... En Zed!Awakening.  A stunning 4K time-lapse video from New Zealand.  Want. To. Go.  Also a great soundtrack :)

Philip Greenspun: If Piketty is right about rich people getting high returns, why do banks lend at low rates?  Good question.  The math doesn't seem to match the reality.

Uber's problem is that it offers insufficient opportunities for graft.  Hehe.

Brazil's fight against deforestationMeanwhile: Brazil's fight against deforestation has been a surprising success.  Wow, indeed surprising.  Good for them!

when will the bass drop?When will the bass drop?  Awesome.  And ... pretty accurate :)

Beyond the stack.  Hmmm.  This is taking something evolutionary and casting it as something brand new, which always makes me suspicious.  I don't think the cloud is a "platform"; it's simply a way of delivering existing platforms like Linux / PHP / MySQL in a more efficient, scalable way.  Right?

Tim Bray: trusting browser code.  "It would be useful if you could really trust code running in your browser. It’s not obvious that this is possible; but it’s not obvious that it isn’t, either."  A useful analysis.

trading private BergdahlTrading Private Bergdahl.  Brutal.  It's not so much that I disagree with the trade, as that I'm embarrassed that my government is so clueless and unprepared.  It's like little boys pretending to be men.

Turkish Airlines: selfie shootoutTurkish Airlines' award winning ad: Selfie Shootout.  It's pretty great.

So, did Eugene pass the Turing Test?  My instinct is ... NO.  This is a false accomplishment by false people.

Dave Winer's Little Pork Chop.  Is this the end of Twitter as we know it?  No...  but it is an interesting extension, right?

Tipping point: Microsoft Azure sponsors Daring Fireball.  Seriously.  This shows me that Satya Nadal gets it.

every time the sun goes down for a nap...Every time the sun goes down for a nap...

Leon Trotsky, the pigLeon Trotsky, a piglet on the move with help from his custom cart.  Awwww!

You're getting old!  If you don't believe it, check out this website...   yikes!

Happy Father's Day!

 
 

Archive: June 20, 2013

 

Archive: June 20, 2012

 

Archive: June 20, 2011

views from Europe

Monday,  06/20/11  05:27 PM

Ole in London; the Eye on to the left, Parliment and Big Ben to the rightI'm back!  From Europe at least, although I'm still off from work, in fact today is the first day of a three month vacation.  Yay!  And so I have much to tell you about; the world didn't stand still while I was in London and Basel and Amsterdam and Groningen and Utrecht and Leeds.  Always fun to be on a different day different city different customer trip, whew.

Anyway.

I'm back - I will be back now for a while, although one of my key tasks now that I'm on vacation is to plan a vacation (probably Paris and Amsterdam!) - and it's all happening, so let's take a look, shall we...

I've been trying to stay out of politics, but I loved this: when government jumps the shark.  It is SO true.  Fanniegate was the cause of all the financial disasters which have followed.  Anyway I link, you decide...

When you're in Europe, you can't help but feel some of what is going on in America is preposterous.  And they [mostly] think so too.  They didn't like Bush but they're embarrassed by Obama.

Google Les Paul logoThe Google logo celebrating Les Paul's birthday was classic; you could play it, and even record from it.  Excellent.

From O'Reilly: dating with data.  Lessons learned from millions of users...  like don't be ugly by accident.  (Did you know, the camera you use to take your picture makes a big difference! - among cellphone pictakers iPhone users are more popular than BlackBerry users, but using a "real" camera makes you look even better :)

Apropos: five myths women have about men.  Hmmm...

iCloud - storms ahead?I noted Apple's iCloud announcement, with a little skepticism that they'd make a success of it, and Ars Technica share similar concerns in more detail.  "Apple's perennial difficulty with creating scalable online services is not a coincidence. Apple has a corporate culture that emphasizes centralized, designer-led product development. This process has produced user-friendly devices that are the envy of the tech world. But developing fast, reliable online services requires a more decentralized, engineering-driven corporate culture like that found at Google."  I think their secret is that they don't want to create a world-class destination website for iCloud, instead they want it to be infrastructure for their devices.  And in that way, they're competing with Amazon more than with Google, and in that way, they may succeed.

BTW I am *so* excited about IOS 5's new camera app; being able to get right into the app and use a hardware button to take pictures could save my life (while cycling).  While in Europe I used the heck out of my iPhone as a camera and it was great.  Having to enter my access code every time was my biggest complaint.

Apple's new headquartersYou all probably saw this already, but it was cool; Apple's plans for a new megabuilding in Cupertino.

Lego-making machine made of LegoYes!  A Lego-making machine made of Lego.  Now we just need a Lego-making machine assembly machine made of Lego, and the singularity will be neigh :)

Tim "XML" Bray on the web app vs native client dilemma.  I grant him that they are all "Internet apps", but the real debate is about client side technology; is JavaScript interpreted by a generic web browser the way to go, or do you need code compiled for a specific platform?

Apropos: Project Spartan; Facebook are apparently creating a client app in HTML5.  That is the best explanation for the lack of a Facebook iPad client I've heard, but it is sure taking them a long time...

Levi Leipheimer wins Tour of SwitzerlandCongratulations to Levi Leipheimer for winning the Tour of Switzerland!  And he had to gain nearly two minutes on Damiano Cunigo in the final ITT in order to do it.  Almost as remarkable, Andreas Kloden almost beat Fabian Cancellara.  Looks like Radio Shack are ready for the Tour!  As am I ... starts July 2 ... mark your calendars...

Oh yeah, I mentioned I am going to Paris?  Oh yeah, we're going to be there for the finish of the Tour.  Champs d'Elysee here we come!

Dave Winer reviews June 14, a big day in his life (he had a heart attack, and nearly died).  It's a big day in my life too; my Father's birthday, and the anniversary of my first date with Shirley!

Angry Birds - the breakout success story of mobile apps?The iPhone, the Angry Bird, and the Pink Elephant.  "Shockingly, lost in the stunning growth of iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android-derived devices - 300 million devices sold combined and counting, 600,000-plus apps built, and more than 18 billion app downloads - is the disconcerting truth that no one is talking about. Namely, that the closest story of financial success that we have to Facebook, Amazon or Intuit is ... Angry Birds!"  True.  But it's early days yet for mobile apps...

Scott "Dilbert" Adams proposes a stupidity tax.  Hmmm, not a bad idea, but unfortunately the dumbest people will also have the least money.  Better to keep them from being born in the first place, but how do you do that?

IBM mainframe from the 60'sIBM has turned 100; the NYTimes has some lessons in longevity.  One of the lessons is to build on the past; how cool is that picture of an IBM mainframe?  Man, computers were cooler then :)

ZooBorn: Sea Lion pupZooBorn of the week: a Sea Lion pup.

I'll leave you with a useful link from Scott "Dilbert" Adams: Vacation Science.  Virtual vacations, anyone?

 
 

Archive: June 20, 2010

I'm back! + enjoying Father's Day...

Sunday,  06/20/10  10:30 AM

Ole & Shirley in Bernick's bar in Paso Robles, watching the Lakers beat the Celtics in game 7Good morning y'all, I'm back!  (pause to allow cheers to subside)  Last night Shirley and I returned from our brief soiree to Paso Robles, relaxed and happy, and not at all ready to return.  We ate a lot, drank a lot more, and did a considerable amount of nothing.  In between we watched the Lakers beat the Celtics, yay (that's us in a bar at right, waiting for the game to start), did some poolside reading, and drove through a lot of vineyards.  We even did a bit of wine tasting, discovered some new grapes (Wild Horse negrette, who knew?) and took a tour of "the caves" at Eberle.

2005 RubiconThe high point might have been dinner last night at the Stonehouse at San Ysidero Ranch in Montecito, featuring a 2005 Rubicon paired with Steak Diane, preceded by an asparagus salad and followed with unbelievable spearmint ice cream (!), wrapped up by a wonderful cheese plate and some Warre's '70 port.  The meal of the world...


The low point was watching email pile up, and my todo list getting longer and longer...  I have look into this delegation stuff.  I was gone three days and it will take me three more days to catch up.

Sitting poolside, reading my Kindle*, looking out over a magnificant view of Paso Robles vineyards, I was struck by an exchange in A Good Year:

"This place does not suit my life
"No, it's your life that does not suit this place

So true.  I must find a way to hit <pause> from time to time...

And today is Father's Day!  Yay.  You may be sure I will be poolside once again, drinking a blue drink :)  And perhaps later I will retire to the blogitorium, as there is much to post...  stay tuned!

[ Update: Jordan has mastered making blue drinks - we call them "blue J's" :) and I had way too many, and am not qualified to post or indeed do anything.  Mostly I just toasted myself today in all senses.  And tomorrow I am leaving for Boston (!) for a few days...  so we'll see about posting, but please do stay tuned... ]

* The Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet's Nest was excellent.  A perfect ending to a great series.  I cannot put my finger on why these books were so compelling, but they were...

 
 

Archive: June 18, 2009

gone sailing!

Thursday,  06/18/09  01:03 PM

Huntington Lake!I'm off!  Or should I say "we're off"; just about to drive up to Huntington Lake, at 7,000' in the Sierras, North-East of Fresno, to crew for Megan in the C-15 North American Championships.  Should be excellent!

A few quick notes on the way out...

I14 on Donner LakeParticularly apropos considering I'm sailing on a windy mountain lake this weekend, check out this picture of an International-14 on Donner Lake.  Wow.  You must click through to enlarge, what a great shot...

I had to switch from my Pre back to my Centro.  The battery life on the Pre was too horrible.  I need an actual phone for this weekend...  after my local Sprint store has more units in and can swap, I'll switch back.  I remain hopeful that my particular unit was defective and that they don't all have such horrible battery life.

RAAM 2009 route mapRAAM is under way!  A 3,000 mile cycle race from California to Maryland, wow.  I always think this is the weirdest thing, that RAAM doesn't get more press coverage.  It is an incredible event.  The route is a single stage, 35% longer than the Tour de France, and the athletes finish in 9 days instead of 23.  No stopping to sleep, eat, nothing.  On and on and on until you finish.  Wow.

ZooBorn: Tawny Frogmouth hatchling (aka fuzzball)Can you handle this ZooBorn?  It is a Tawny Frogmouth hatchling.  Personally I would say it is the living embodiment of "fuzzball" :)

 
 

Archive: June 19, 2008

Thursday,  06/19/08  10:44 PM

Man is it HOT here!  We're talking 107o hot.  This afternoon I did a ride at 5:30, and it was still over 100o.  We climbed Decker Canyon to the Mulholland Overlook of the Pacific Ocean, and it was still over 100o; I went through four bottles in an hour.  I have to admit it was almost fun, in a "man against the elements" kind of way.  Almost.

the Death Ride!Speaking of man against the elements, I've found a new ride to do: the Death Ride.  I am not making this up, that's really what it is called, 129 miles and 15,000' in the middle of the Sierras South of Lake Tahoe, in the middle of July.  What could be better than that?  It nicely fills a gap in my schedule between the Grand Tour Double and the Knoxville Classic Double :)

Tonight I was idly reviewing my referer logs, and found some cool old posts.  Back in February I opined about Microsoft's attempt to buy Yahoo: "My own view is that it won't happen; either the DOJ will intervene, or the deal will fall apart during negotiations.  But it will hurt both companies anyway; valuable talent is already leaving Yahoo and MSN."  Good call.  I also like this rant about Universal Healthcare.  With the price of oil rising and the housing bubble bursting and the credit crunch, our economy is making candidates' headlines, but I'm sure healthcare will still be a subject in their debates.  For both the economy and healthcare candidates find it so hard to say NO to government intervention, but that is the right answer...

Okay, let's make a pass on the world, shall we...

Martian iceOn the hottest day of the year, the Mars Lander has found ice!  And told the world using Twitter!!  (And used "WooT" in doing so!!!)  How cool is that?  (ice-y cool...)

This seems like good news, the Scientist reports Boost for NSF Funding.  "The US Senate and House of Representatives have approved a 14 percent funding increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for 2009. The spending bill would net NSF, which is the second largest federal funder of academic research after the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $6.9 billion for FY 2009. More than 80 percent, or $5.6 billion, of this total budget would go towards research grants."  It is arguable whether the government should administer these programs, but pooling funds for scientific research seems worthwhile.

This is not good news, Ars Technica reports US adoption of electronic health records is abysmal.  "The impact of computers to increase efficiency has been fairly widespread; try to imagine an architect, accountant, or administrator working without one in 2008. But some occupations seem to be holding out, and the medical profession is one of those. A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine paints a disturbing picture of just how slow adoption is."  Interesting, because the value proposition is there.  (P.S. Don't you just love that word, "abysmal"?)

Velonews asks: Will pro cycling split into two leagues?  It sure looks that way.  But man will that be complicated, because the same teams and the same riders would compete in events from each league.  Why can't we all just get along?

Congrats to Gerard Vanderleun; his American Digest blog just turned five.  Nice work.  In addition to similar political views, we like the same music too :)

crystal skullI'm sure by now you've seen Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, right?  Here's a slightly abridged script.  [ via Kottke ]

HARRISON teaches his film class entitled 'How To Ruin Millions Of Childhoods In 2 Hours' when he is interrupted by the DEAN, JIM BROADBENT. 

JIM BROADBENT - Sorry Harrison, but the government thinks you might be a Soviet. Apparently someone rented “K-19: The Widowmaker” and panicked.

HARRISON FORD - Bullshit, nobody saw that movie.

Perhaps the aliens competed in the Death Ride?

Check out this press release from Apple: iTunes store tops over five billion songs sold. And the subhead: Apple Renting & Selling Over 50,000 Movies Per Day.  Wow.  Apple has been the top online music store for a while, they are now the top online movie store as well.  You could argue the details, but their model is working.

Finally, this seems like a headline from the Onion, but it's real: Man gets Windows Vista to work with printer.  I love it :)

 
 

Archive: June 20, 2007

 

Archive: June 20, 2006

 

Archive: June 20, 2005

morning notes

Monday,  06/20/05  07:26 AM

A few notes as I drink my coffee:

There will be a lot of buzz around Google's payment system.  I totally think this is real.  They will need a solution as they offer more consumer-to-consumer solutions - like their Video search - and they don't want to give that revenue to someone else.  Completely understandable.  Will they succeed?  I think, no.

Consider the lesson of eBay.  They have a natural monopoly based on a network effect if ever any business did.  eBay began without a settlement solution.  I'm sure if they had to do it over, they would incorporate payments on day one, but they didn't.  So after a while there were about 50 companies in the person-to-person payment space, and they bought Billpoint.  But despite having high-profile partners like Wells Fargo and Visa, Billpoint lost out to PayPal.

Three reasons - first, the network effect.  PayPal already had a lot of momentum when eBay got behind Billpoint.  Today PayPal is the clear leader.  Second, PayPal was easier to use.  It might look easy to make something easy, but it isn't.  Google is great at UIs, but they will find it hard to be easier than PayPal.  Third, PayPal had a better handle on fraud, which enabled them to be less expensive.  The margins are razor-thin in the payments business.  Unless Google uses this as a loss leader for a while - quite possible - they'll find they will be more expensive than PayPal.

More on multi-dreaming.  I now think this is more like cooperative multi-tasking than multi-processing.  In my dream, I made an explicit decision to switch to the other dream.  I actually think the brain's hardware can probably only handle one scenario at a time.  This might explain why we only dream when we sleep, and it might even explain why we need to sleep.  The downtime from the real world enables us to explore new scenarios.

Beyonce on InStyle magazineHalley Suitt bemoans the fact that female standards of beauty are unnaturally thin.  "Women are constantly served up visual images in women's magazines and TV and all media that they should look like skinny little girls."  Is this as true as it was?

I think the pendulum on this is swinging back.  My daughter reads InStyle magazine, and on the cover each month they have glamorous pictures of “current stars”.  Recent covers include Reese Witherspoon, Beyonce (cover tagline: “I have curves, most women do – and I'm happy with them”), Drew Barrymore, Terri Hatcher, Diane Lane, Halle Berry, Liv Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, even Queen Latifa.  These are women who are shaped like women.  I'm happy for Alex – she’s 11 – that she's not growing up feeling like she has look like a boy.

317 spams in the last 24 hours.  Er, make that 321.  Thank you, SpamBayes.  However it isn't obvious why this won't increase without limit.  If I received 3,000 spams in a day instead of 300, I might be able to handle it.  30,000, not sure.  300,000, now we have a problem.  And especially since all 300,000 would pass through a mail server somewhere which has many more clients than just me.  Since the incremental cost of sending spam is essentially zero, this might happen.  Some sort of solution in the network is going to be required.

And note: with 300+ spams per day, I've already passed the point where I can review the classifications.  If SpamBayes says something is spam, I don't even look at it.  There is a nonzero probability that I've trashed good mail because of this.

This will be an interesting week.  I'm looking forward to Dave Winer's  editor - to be announced at Gnomedex.  Billed as "really simple groupware".  I sort of get OPML, but I think I don't get the whole picture.  But then, I didn't get RSS at first, either, and now I am a huge fan.

 
 

Archive: June 17, 2004

(new yorker, 6/13/04)

Thursday,  06/17/04  01:07 AM

complaints

 

C++ method pointers

Thursday,  06/17/04  08:57 AM

Have you ever wanted to use a pointer to a class method?  This might be basic C++ but I couldn’t remember how to do it, and spent some time Googling and messing around to figure it out.  So here’s the way:


To define a pointer to a class method:


returnval (myclass::*method)(parameters…)


For example:


char *(myclass::*pmethod)(int parm);


This defines a pointer named pmethod to a method of the myclass class.  The method has a single int parameter and returns a char*.


To assign a value to the pointer:


pmethod = &myclass::method;


For example:


pmethod = &myclass::mymethod;


This sets pmethod to point to mymethod.


To call the class method:


(myobject.*method)(parameters…)


For example:


mychar = (myobject.*pmethod)(myint);


This calls the method pointed to by pmethod.


The pointer can itself be in a struct or class as well.  For example:


struct {                      // processing table

char  *name;

char  *(myclass::*pmethod)(int parm);

} proctbl[] = {

{ “text”,  &myclass::mymethod},

{ “text2”,&myclass::anothermethod}

};


This defines a table of structures with two entries, each of which has a method pointer.  The function can then be called as follows:


mychar = (myobject.*proctbl[index].pmethod)(myint);


In this example, the pointer proctbl[index].pmethod identifies the method to be called.


Note that “::*” and “.*” are actually separate operators in C++.  There is also a “->*” operator.


You might never need this, but just in case you do…

 
 

Archive: June 18, 2003

Ottmar Liebert

Wednesday,  06/18/03  01:09 PM

Ottmar LiebertLast night we saw Ottmar Liebert at the House of Blues.  We had a terrific time - drank too much ('97 Kendall "Artist Series" reserve - excellent / 92!), ate too much, and laughed too much.  Thanks Liz and Cyn for setting it up!

Ottmar was terrific.  I had never heard of him or his band, Luna Negra, but they have a great latin flamenco style.  (Their website plays a brief audio clip.)  The stage presence is very laid back, almost mystical - Ottmar plays guitar barefoot, sitting in an easy char, and one of his band members sits crosslegged on the floor and plays a Macintosh Powerbook.  Wow.  If you ever have a chance to see him/them, take it.

Naturally this morning I wanted to buy some of Ottmar's music.  Did I run out to the store?  Are you kidding - too hard!  Did I buy an album from Amazon?  Are you serious - I don't want to wait!  Did I download it from Kazaa?  No, of course I went directly to Apple's Music Store, where I could preview the music, pick the album I wanted, and download it.  I am now listening to Barcelona Nights, the best of Ottmar Liebert (Amazon).  It is synced to my iPod, so I can listen to it in my car.  I burned it to a CD so Shirley can listen to it.  This whole experience shows how right the Apple Music Store is.

Adding excellence to awesomeness, Ottmar has a blog!  Naturally I've added him to my extended blogroll, and intend to visit regularly.  It is really interesting to see the artist's point of view...  I encourage you to read it if you're thoughtful about DRM, the music business, consumer rights, etc.

His most recent 'blog entry was about something I've been interested in for some time - why is there no "Tivo for radio"?  Actually he put it differently, he asks "why is there no Tivo-like audio recorder", and perhaps that's the best way to look at it, because "tuning shows" like Tivo does for video is not really important for audio, what is important is simply recording a pre-tuned audio stream.  Actually makes the problem simpler.

He points out that with a handheld version and a microphone you could just keep it on all the time - recording everything around you - and when there was something you were interested in playing back, you could.  Great for journalists, students, businesspeople, and - musicians!

 

WinRAR

Wednesday,  06/18/03  02:03 PM

Praise for a tool I use often - WinRAR.  It is both faster and more flexible than WinZip, and provides a superset of functionality.  And it is only $30 (shareware, like WinZip).

Do you back up often?  Imagine you are sitting there at your computer, and suddenly the screen goes black.  Your hard drive is toast.  You have lost your email, your calendar, your contacts.  You have lost all your Word documents, all your code.  You have lost all your pictures.  All your music.  All your videos.  Are you toast?

This has happened to me only once, but it has almost happened to me many times; often through pilot error.  I do regular backups - at least once per week - because the fear of losing "everything" is so great.  It is not an exaggeration to say I live my business life on my computer.

I have two old PCs at my house which are setup as servers (running RedHat Linux); in fact, good old Critical Section is hosted on one of them.  I run samba, which lets me use Windows networking to share directories on the servers with the Compaq laptop which is my "desktop" (running Windows XP Pro).  Each night the servers back themselves up to each other.  Once a week I use WinRAR to back up my laptop to the servers.  The great things about using WinRAR in this way is that it only backs up changed files (new or modified since the last backup), and it incrementally appends to a set of archive files.  The archive files are limited to 2GB in size (by RedHat Linux, and therefore by samba), but I actually have about 10GB of files to back up, so WinRAR simply spans them across six files.  Works perfectly.

And if I ever need to restore a file, I can do so easily, on a file or directory basis...  I can even go back through different versions of the same file.

There was a time when removable media were terrific for backups.  Especially since the cost of CD-RWs is down to less than $1/disk.  But they just don't hold enough data - my "working set" on my laptop is about 10GB, and that would require about 20 CDs to back-up.  Even doing incremental backups, I'd have a whole stack of CDs to keep track of.  Just doesn't really work.

So - two points; back up often, you will thank yourself someday, and WinRAR is a great tool.  Over and out.

 

Wednesday,  06/18/03  04:04 PM

It's all happening...

Old news, kind of, but Linus Torvalds is leaving Transmeta to work fulltime on the Linux kernel; the Open Source Development Lab will be funding him.  [ Later: apparently it is a leave of absence, not strictly a departure... ]

Speaking of Linuses, Linus Pauling's research notebooks are now available online, spanning 1922 - 1994.  Dr. Pauling was a true giant in science; not only a Nobel-prizewinning chemist but a thoughtful philosopher who guided scientific practice throughout the 20th century.  My father was privileged to work with him as a post-doc at Caltech, studying the structure of Vitamin C.Fossil PDA Watch

Nerd alert: The Fossil wristwatch is now available from Amazon.  This is the watch with a Palm pilot built in...

Tim Bray discovers that Nasdaq makes stock quotes available online via XML.  Pretty soon he's going to discover OFX, and then he'll start thinking about SSL encryption and authentication and stateful servers :)

Another Tim Bray note, from a historical series he's doing; On Search: The Users.  The two biggest lessons:

  1. Nobody uses "advanced" search.
  2. People only view one page of results.

These both feel right to me; although I sometimes use advanced search I dislike it, the syntax varies with every site, and you never quite know what to do.  I do often view more than one page of results, but just as often if I can't find what I'm looking for on the first page, I change the search string.

Boo hoo dept.; Wired reports MLB umpires are complaining about QuesTec, a camera-based system which tracks pitches and rates umpire calls.  Personally I think the subjectivity of calling balls and strikes is not part of the game's charm, especially since the zone as defined by the rules is quite different from the zone as defined by the average umpire.  (Umps typically give pitchers an extra ball width on either side of the plate, but take away the high strike.)

Pre-hype about the as-yet-to-be-released Handspring Treo 600 is overflowing.  TreoCentral has some good pictures and diagrams.  If you're a regular visitor you know how much I like my Treo 300, but the one drawback is its size; small for a PDA but still big for a 'phone.  Looks like maybe the Treo 600 solves that...

Graeme Foster has built PopHeadlines, an RSS->POP3 gateway.  This allows you to receive RSS feeds as email.  Similar in effect to NewsGator but done differently; NewsGator integrates into Outlook, whereas PopHeadlines pretends to be a mail server.  Interesting...

You heard about Orrin Hatch's comments, right?  He wants to develop technology that will destroy the computers of people running file sharing software.  "Mr Hatch said damaging computers 'may be the only way you can teach someone about copyright'."  This actually speaks for itself, but boy, is this stupid.  And I thought Orrin was a reasonable politician.

 

Google and Escher

Wednesday,  06/18/03  04:35 PM

Google a la EscherIf you visited Google yesterday, you might have been intrigued by their logo; a grayscale drawing which showed a couple of hands drawing each other.  This was their very cool way of celebrating M.C.Escher's birthday.

Escher's Drawing Hands"Drawing Hands" is one of my favorite works (and Escher is one of my favorite artists); a print of this piece is actually hanging in my office as I, er, speak.  Please click on the pic at right for a larger view of this amazing piece.  Up close, the detail is nearly photographic.  But execution aside, the idea behind this piece is amazing; I like to call it "the C compiler" (because C compilers are often written in C).

The message seems to be a piece of paper drawing itself, or perhaps hands drawing themselves.  But at another level this is a metaphor for humans; we create works of art which are then perceived by us.  In essence we are drawing ourselves.  Escher created many interesting "self-portraits", but none more intriguing than this one.  Fascinating.

 

Wednesday,  06/18/03  09:16 PM

Much blogging today, much going on...

After reading through Ottmar Liebert's blog, I couldn't help but notice "the problem with music", a fascinating article from three years ago, linked from Dave Winer.  Read it - clearly the economics for artists in signing with a label are terrible.  No wonder they're eagerly embracing self-publishing on the Internet.  Business 2.0 has noticed "the MP3 economy".

The same post on Scripting News has a great entry, "where do I send the money'", about Napster.  Remember Napster?  Yeah, they were big in mid-2000, nobody bigger.

James Lileks: France is living down to our expectations.  More well-deserved French bashing...  "Parisians are reduced to sneering at each other, just to keep in practice."

It gave me great pleasure the other night to pass on ordering French Champagne at the House of Blues, despite a wonderful selection; the Schramsberg we ordered instead was great.

Another week, another Carnival; this one is at Real Women Online.  Despite the threat, entries were not limited to women only :)

Wow.  CNet reports that according to a study by the American Management Association, U.S. workers spend a quarter of their day dealing with email.  I hope this isn't true for programmers.  Actually I hope it isn't true at all.  That can't be right, can it?

Jeremy Zawodny: The Bot from Redmond.  MSN's new search bot is crawling...  Here's more on the MSN site.  Will this be the Google killer?

[ Later: Dave Winer posted this email from an anonymous source; "they have Google in their crosshairs" ]

Aaron Swartz presents Edward Tufte's essay about the evils of PowerPoint - as a Powerpoint presentation.  I love it!  [ via Philip Greenspun ]Handspring Treo 600

There's more on the Handspring Treo 600; apparently it has been formally announced a the CeBIT show in New York.  From the pictures it looks really cool.  The screen is the same size as the Treo 300, but the device is much smaller and lighter.  It includes an integrated camera, and has the ability to exchange pictures as "caller id" on 'phone calls.  Sprint will be selling it - and I will be buying it :)

Want to read something really bogus?  There are two modern ways to connect things to computers, USB and firewire.  A few years ago when they both became available firewire was much faster than USB.  The USB people figured out how to make USB somewhat faster, and the old USB was called 1.0, with the new USB called 1.1.  Well it was still way slower than firewire, so they kept working, and came out with a newer version they called 2.0.  This is *almost* as fast as firewire, and backwards compatible.  So far so good, right?  Well, it turns out people like you and me wanted USB 2.0 and not USB 1.1, so we began asking "what kind of USB does this PC have"?  And PCs with USB 1.1 stopped selling.  So what did the USB people do?  They renamed USB 1.1 as USB 2 "full speed", and USB 2.0 as USB 2 "hi-speed".  Is this bogus, or what?  Buyer beware!  Actually buyer should choose firewire, which just works, is still faster than USB, and has no downside or industry bogusness.

 
 

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