Archive: January 19, 2015
Blue Monday. Is today actually the most depressing day of the year?
At least now we're over the hump :)
Great post from VC Mark Suster: Blogging for the Hell of it, not blogging to stay relevant. "I used to love blogging ... it feels good to be back." Hehe, yep, that's me!
Well that should be easy! "Please visit to begin the application process" Click to enbiggen and smile :)
Wired asks Why is it so difficult to land a rocket? It's like balancing a broom just by placing the end of the broom on your hand.
So, today is the last day to buy a Google Glass. So be it. This doesn't mean Google have finished with smart glasses, they're simply retooling for version 2. As you know, I became a Glasshole last March. I don't wear mine all the time, but it was most useful to see the future. Especially in the context of visual search :)
Meanwhile, Audi is putting a virtual car dealership inside the Oculus Rift. Of course they are. Pretty soon that will be the only kind of car dealership there is.
For the record: Tesla Model S P85D 1/4 mile record set. 10.85s at 126mph. Wheeee!
And so what will search look like in Mobile? John Battelle shares a visit with Jack. In which companies are working to make the mobile app world more web-like.
And Amazon is going to produce its own movies and release them in theaters. Why? But then that's the question with a lot of things Amazon do, and while some of them don't work out, some of them are amazing.
These people demonstrate how a cantilever bridge works. Awesome! They built Scotland's Forth Bridge in 1890, and it was the world's longest cantilevered bridge for 17 years.
Can't wait for the next one :)
Archive: January 25, 2014
I've never been a fan of Microsoft (understatement) and never a fan of Bill Gates as a CEO and tech leader. But I'm a huge fan of Bill Gates as a philanthropist and world leader.
During the past year I've had an opportunity to work with a tiny part of the big picture - an organization called Global Good which is fighting Malaria worldwide. They're funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and through them I've come to learn a lot more about Mr. Gates and his contributions and leadership. It's staggering; did you know that his foundation's annual contribution to world health exceeds that of the World Health Organization?
Anyway, the foundation have released a letter from Bill and Melinda Gates: Three Myths that block progress for the poor. It's interesting and accessible, and I recommend it highly. The quick version:
- Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.
- The bottom line: Poor countries are not doomed to stay poor. Some of the so-called developing nations have already developed. Many more are on their way. The nations that are still finding their way are not trying to do something unprecedented. They have good examples to learn from. I am optimistic enough about this that I am willing to make a prediction: By 2035, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world.
- Foreign aid is a big waste
- The bottom line: Health aid is a phenomenal investment. When I look at how many fewer children are dying than 30 years ago, and how many people are living longer and healthier lives, I get quite optimistic about the future. The foundation worked with a group of eminent economists and global health experts to look at what’s possible in the years ahead. As they wrote last month in the medical journal The Lancet, with the right investments and changes in policies, by 2035, every country will have child-mortality rates that are as low as the rate in America or the U.K. in 1980.
- Saving lives leads to overpopulation
- The bottom line: Saving lives doesn't lead to overpopulation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Creating societies where people enjoy basic health, relative prosperity, fundamental equality, and access to contraceptives is the only way to secure a sustainable world. We will build a better future for everyone by giving people the freedom and the power to build a better future for themselves and their families.
I wonder if Bill and Melinda Gates ever worry about Unnatural Selection, the idea that the world population is becoming less intelligent because of differential birth rates? Would be most interesting to get their view on this. In the meantime, the work they are doing is amazing and inspiring.
Archive: January 6, 2013
Greetings blog friends, and Happy New Year. Yes, it is 2013 (yay!), and yes, it has now been over a year since I've posted regularly over here; I'm posting daily on my Facebook, and it's all public, so if you'd like please subscribe to me over there. I know, I know, it's not the same - and I'm not ruling out returning to more or less daily blogging - but I have no immediate plans to do so.
I do still intend to recover from my extreme Yak shaving and come out the other end with a blog I can completely maintain via email. As I've shifted more and more of my daily spelunking to my iPad this has become more and more pressing. Or speaking of pressing, I could move the whole thing to WordPress... hmmm.
For the past ten years I've had the annual ritual of updating my blog's navigation bar with "this date in" links for the prior year. As I added '12 to the list it occurred to me, there's not much there; I did my daily posting on Facebook. Boo.
On 9/11 this year I posted my usual remembrance and on that occasion also paused to revisit everything that had happened in the past year. That was a pretty cool list to have (for me anyway). So in lieu of having personal history in my blog archive, here's that list again, updated...
- Moved to Westlake Island
- Started a daily view from the bridge, following bike rides
- Celebrated leap day
- Visited Vancouver: USCAP conference
- Sailed in the Caribbean (fourteen days, seven islands)
- Attended conference in San Jose: ATA conference
- Began following the baby geese
- Rode Breathless Agony (114 miles, 12,000 feet)
- Spectated Amgen Tour of California, Mount Baldy stage
- Visited Venice, Sweden, and Munich, conferences, customers, and symposia
- Started something new; still cooking, stay tuned for [much] more :)
- Cherished my Megan, wow
- Sailed Round the Island race, yay, and...
- Survived the C-15 nationals, double yay
- Kept riding to the beach
- Enjoyed Le Tour de France, as always
- Watched the London Olympics
- Cheered as Curiosity landed on Mars
- Felt amazing as Aperio agreed to be acquired by Leica (okay to celebrate :)
- Raced the Hoodoo 500 (517 miles, 34,000 feet), and finished!
- Czeched out Prague: ECP conference
- Loved the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival
- Experienced my first Parker 100
- Weathered Hurricane Sandy in Baltimore: Path Visions conference
- Voted for Romney / Ryan, and accepted their defeat...
- Escaped to the Ritz Laguna Nigel for a celebratory weekend
- Celebrated Fall on the Lake
- Made a pilgrimage to the Tesla toy store :)
- Gave thanks for everything, not least my wonderful family <3
- Wondered and shopped in Chicago, dressed for Holiday: RSNA conference, and...
- Listened to a performance of Wurther, my annual brush with opera
- Traveled to Dublin (!), met my new colleagues and enjoyed their city
- Completed my 54th trip around the sun
- Journeyed to Winnipeg, and...
- Landed in Vegas (!), with the Jersey Boys
- Boarded Big Bear
- Wished everyone a Merry Christmas
- Welcomed the New Year in Napa
So what's next? Well, I'm still living on Westlake Island, and still working for Aperio. But I do have some cool new projects cooking, and I'm totally excited about 2013...
Please stay tuned and I'll keep you posted!
Archive: January 13, 2012
Well I'm moved. And I now have FIOS! And I like it; it's seriously faster than the DSL I had before. And after two days of unboxing and messing around and running cables and configuring routers and ... whew, my servers are back up, and the bits you are reading right now came from deep inside a closet of my new house. Yay.
my new blogstation
Also yay: the Tivo HD is up and online via FIOS without any problems. And the AppleTV is up and running too, with HD movies now streaming in realtime. All good.
I shall have more to say "soon" - assuming I ever get back to blogging, that is - please stay tuned...
Archive: January 25, 2011
Tonight President Obama delivered his annual State of the Union address; I didn't watch (had *much* better things to do :) but the early returns are pretty negative. Apparently this was his "Sputnik moment", and he didn't handle it well. Perhaps this picture sums up the general opinion:
This could drive a caption content; I think Glenn Reynolds nailed it: are we having fun yet?
One thing that seems apparent about Obama, he can't seem to take responsibility. The huge deficit we are running and the consequent negative impact on the economy are a direct result of his administration's policies.
Archive: January 24, 2010
Today I made my annual pilgrimage to the top of Mount Palomar, accompanied by my British colleague and friend Peter. We start at Lake Henshaw, ride about 10 miles along the base of the mountain, then ascend the South Grade, 8 miles at 8%. (Yee haw!) Visit Mother's, visit the observatory, and then descend the East Grade, 13 miles at 5%, for a nice little 40 mile ride with about 4,000' of climbing. This year's incarnation was made more interesting by the fact that Palomar is presently shrouded in snow (!), and in fact we were unable to go all the way to the observatory because the roads were closed. We also shared the day with hundreds of families who thought to take their kids to the snow. And yes, it was a bit nippy at times, but all in all it was a great day.
Anecdote of the day: Peter rented a [nice] Cervelo from Nytro in Encinitas, which happened to have a 36x25 as its low gear. We're climbing, and he says he wishes he had a 27, and I said yeah I have a 27, wish I could give it to you, since I'm not using it. (What I didn't tell him, I didn't use my 25 either; did the whole climb in my 23.)
on a clear day you can see for miles and miles and miles and...
yes this is a real climb, an epic climb, Lance even said so :)
self-portrait, top of Palomar in the background (going around a switchback)
relaxing in the "front yard" at Mother's
the back yard was filled with white stuff
surreal scene descending the East Grade, Californian winter wonderland
Well it's the start of a long and interesting week, for me personally as we have Aperio's sales team in town for our annual kickoff meeting, and for the world as President Obama is giving his state of the union address and Apple are announcing their tablet. May you live in interesting times, indeed!
Much socializing ahead so blogging will be
light nonexistent this week, but here's a brief filter pass...
Marc Cantor: you can't make up these images (from Mars!) They are incredible...
Twelve resolutions on how to be a mensch. A good list; better than many similar which have come before. Seems like a key attribute of mensch-ness is intent; you do good things, but also, you do them for good reasons. [ via Guy Kawasaki ]
Wow: WSJ reports VCs put $350M into Better Place. This is the electric-car-as-utility company I keep posting about; they sure have attracted a huge following (and now, a ton of money). Now let's see what they do; say what you like about Tesla, but they are shipping electric cars while lots of others are just talking about it.
With Apple's tablet announcement Tuesday, Robert Scoble dusts off some advice taken from his days at NEC, when they made Windows tablets. "This is just a fun way to remind you that Bill Gates actually has been pushing Tablets for many years, but his failure in capturing the industry’s imagination has left the door open for Steve Jobs to hit a grand slam home run." Stay tuned!
Picture of the day or perhaps any day: an owl in flight! I agree with Clive Thompson that it's awesome; what's so cool is that the logic of the head shape is much more apparent when seen like this... the eyes and beak in front, the blunt yet aero shape. Evolution is a magnificent watchmaker, all the more so for being blind :)
Archive: January 25, 2009
In the public interest (and so I can find it later), I thought I'd reveal how I embed YouTube videos. YouTube makes this really easy, and they take you almost all the way there, but not quite quite.
If you view a video on the YouTube site, you'll notice at the upper right they have an Embed text box with the HTML you have to insert in a page to play that video. You can configure the size, whether to include a border, the color, and so on... really nice. But just sticking this HTML into your page this isn't exactly what you want, because what you really want is to display an image first which, when clicked, causes the YouTube video to play. This is prettier for people who visit the page itself, and much prettier for people who read the page via RSS readers and so on which may not know what to do with embedded videos.
Okay, so how is this done? Well first make the image; generally edited from a screenshot of the YouTube video, but it can be any image at all. And then insert the following HTML into the page:
<div id="ytvid" style="display: none">
<object width="640" height="505">
<param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" />
<param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" />
width="640" height="505" />
The numbers are so I can refer to the lines. The brown text is what you get from YouTube's Embed text string. You start by copying that in, and then add the rest. Some notes:
Line 1/16 are optional if you want to center the whole thing.
Line 2 includes the image; the src= parameter gives the image URL. Note pointing hand cursor.
Line 3 is what happens when you click; the image is hidden and the video is displayed.
Line 4/15 are a <div> surrounding the video; this is what you enable.
Line 7 and 10 add &autoplay=1 to the video URLs so the video plays immediately.
A mid-day Sunday post... why not? Last night I took a long hard ride in the rain and fog and cold on my mountain bike, and it was great. I really need cycling right now, it is so simple: you get on your bike, you ride, you have fun, you feel good afterward, and it keeps you fit. What could be better? Otherwise a pretty quiet day, cold and rainy, spent some time coding, trying to programmatically clean up and analyze some study data...
I have a friend with a Chumby; he really like it, and apparently has it set to display RSS feeds when he wakes up. Sometimes the first thing he sees in the morning is the last thing I posted the night before. Wow, now there's some pressure; post something interesting for people to read when they wake up. Perhaps they'll read this...
Don't know why but this really hit me: Kay Yow loses battle with cancer. One of the most successful college basketball coaches ever, she battled breast cancer for 22 years, and finally lost. So inspiring! Makes me want to do whatever I can to help others like Kay Yow win.
ESPN counts down college football's most prestigious programs (since 1936, when the AP poll was started). #1 is Oklahoma, #2 USC, #3 Ohio State, #4 Notre Dame, #5 Nebraska. That seems pretty right to me. Obviously in the last decade USC is #1 and Notre Dame has been shot out the back, but it was not always so. Certainly a good subject for a bar debate :)
More bank news; the infographic at left compares the market caps of various banks between Q2 2007 (blue) and Q1 2009 (yellow). Wow. The second big circle in the top row is Royal Bank of Scotland; the biggest circle on the bottom is Citibank. The bank that's shrunk the least is Spain's Santander. And this of course only includes banks which still exist. [ via Gary on Facebook ]
Still noodling over Scott Adam's Define Friend. I've decided it really comes down to trust, someone who will share your interests in the future.
TTAC reviews the Lexus LS600hL. "To reality check my impressions, I floored it. And backed off. And pressed a couple of buttons. And floored it. And backed off. And then it hit me: the LS600h L has the world’s finest automobile engine." The interior is spectacular, too, and the electronic toys like the GPS are top-of-the-line. I'm not in the market for a new car (who is?) but if I were, I'd definitely consider this one.
Randall Parker says SoCal overdue for Carrizo Plain earthquake. Great, that's just what we need right now, a disastrous earthquake. I've actually visited the Carrizo Plain, it's beautiful, although I must tell you it is a bad place to have a flat tire :) You can see the San Andreas fault quite plainly, it runs right down the middle...
Congratulations to Allan Davis, winner of the Tour Down Under. Yesterday he won his third stage of the eight-day tour, pretty much wrapping things up. Of course the big news in this tour has been Lance Armstrong's return to competitive stage racing. What I found interesting is that while Lance was right in there - competitive as always - you realize that he doesn't win everything each time he gets on the bike, and he has bad days just like everybody else. I must tell you I can't wait for the Tour of California!
From PCWorld: The Seven Worst tech Predictions of All Time. They are pretty bad, including "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers", and "there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home".
Robert Scoble reports FriendFeed hits one million users. Huh, FriendFeed? I have a FriendFeed account, but I don't get it. Yet another Web 2.0 social network thing that I don't get - once again it seems there's no there there. Really the only one of these sites I get is Facebook. It might be hopeless for me, but I keep trying... old dog, new trick, etc.
I shared Steve Jobs' classic introduction of the Macintosh from 1984 with my colleagues at Aperio, and one of them pointed me to this YouTube video, Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005. I had read excerpts from this speech but never seen it. Some great wisdom and emotion packed into just 15 minutes. I found it inspiring, and I hope you do too.
PS it is especially poignant given his current medical issues...
Archive: January 25, 2008
Entries for an art contest at the Hirshorn Modern Art Gallery in Washington, DC.
The rule was that the artist could use only one sheet of paper.
Update (2/15/08): I am told that the "art contest" is a myth; and this art is actually all the work of Danish artist Peter Callensen. That it is the work of one artist makes it even more remarkable! Enjoy...
So the rain has stopped, briefly; I am given to understand more is on the way. So be it. In the meantime, we can blog!
Yesterday I had someone email with an offer to place ads on this blog. I think it was a human, too! Weird. First, there isn't enough traffic to matter, and second, what advertiser would want to be associated with me? And then there's the fact that I hate online ads; fortunately with Firefox and Adblock I hardly ever see them. Even if they are on a blog...
Yuck! Powerline notes A reason to vote for Hillary: "Barack Obama is putting out the word that if he is elected, he will appoint John Edwards as Attorney General." I don't think that's a reason to vote for Hillary but it is a reason to vote against Obama.
So Pixar's upcoming Toy Story 3 will be produced in 3D. That is, played in 3D; all the Pixar movies are rendered from 3D models. And the original Toy Story and Toy Story 2 will be converted to 3D as well. This could be the first time 3D is "real" as opposed to a toy :) Actually I loved the Toy Story movies so this will be fun to watch... [ via Jason Kottke ]
Why I hate frameworks. "Each hammer factory factory is built for you by the top experts in the hammer factory factory business, so you don't need to worry about all the details that go into building a factory. Yet you still get all the benefits of having your own customized hammer factory, churning out your own customized hammers, according to your own specific hammer designs." This is so totally what goes on with Microsoft. They believe the proper study of programmers is their tools, not their applications. Or maybe their tools for building tools :)
This is funny: Pickup Logos: Mine's Bigger than Yours. "Welcome to the Battle of the Badges, an arms race among pickups to adopt a logo capable of obscuring everything between the lights and the bumper." This seems very logical, an extension of the trend toward big trucks in the first place. Classless, IMHO.
Clive Thompson links How to imagine in ten dimensions. Good to know! Actually this comes up in connection with String Theory, which holds that the universe exists in ten dimensions. Do I believe this? No. Not on physical grounds, but on metaphysical; the number ten is not round enough to be right :)
Archive: October 15, 2006
I spent this afternoon voting, in the comfort of my [home] office, with football playing in the background. Picture me browsing to websites, reading the Official Voter Information Guide and the candidates' statements in the Sample Ballot, and actually spending time thinking about the issues. Weird, isn't it?
I know, most people don't do this, most people have never heard of most of the candidates and don't trouble to inform themselves, most people don't understand the issues they're voting about. So be it, our system is not perfect.
Anyway, here are my votes in case you wanted to know...
California State positions
- Governor - Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Lieutenant Governor - Tom McClintock
- Secretary of State - Bruce McPherson. Tough call over Debra Bowen, even though she's way liberal.
- Controller - Tony Strickland. An uninformed decision but I like his website.
- Treasurer - Claude Parrish. This is a vote against Bill Lockyer.
- Attorney General - Chuck Poochigian. A vote against Jerry Brown.
- Insurance Commissioner - Steve Poizner. A vote against Cruz Bustamante.
- Member, State Board of Equalization, 2nd district - Bill Leonard. Doesn't like the parcel tax (prop 88), neither do I.
- State Assembly, 37th district - Audra Strickland. I agree with her positions on virtually every issue.
- Senator - Dick Mountjoy. I like him, plus a vote against Dianne Feinstein, who I voted for originally but who has disappointed me over and over and moved to the left while in office.
- Representative, 24th district - Elton Gallegly. He's been a great representative for a red district in a blue state.
Joyce Kennard - Yes.
Carol Corrigan - Yes.
Robert Mallano - Yes.
Frances Rothschild - Yes.
Roger Boren - Yes.
Victoria Chavez - No. A thousand times no. No on her dad, too, except he's not on the ballot.
Patti Kitching - Yes.
Richard Alrich - Yes.
Norman Epstein - Yes. Liberal but smart.
Thomas Willhite - Yes.
Nora Manella - Yes.
Steven Suzukawa - Yes.
Richard Mosk - No. On the Christopher Commission and Iran - United States Claims Tribunal. Not real world.
Sandy Kriegler - Yes.
Arthur Gilbert - Yes. Has a blog :)
Dennis Perluss - Yes. A Davis appointee but surprisingly rational anyway.
Fred Woods - Yes. Solid citizen.
Laurie Zelon - No. She and Madeleine Flier are flaming liberals, both appointed by Davis.
Candace Cooper - No. Not enough on the web about her considering how long she's been on the court (appointed by Davis in 2001).
Madeleine Flier - No. See Laurie Zelon above.
Community College District - Cheryl Heitmann. Seems to be doing a good job.
Conejo Valley School District - Mike Dunn, Pat Phelps, Tim Stephens. Based mostly on statements in voter guides.
Thousand Oaks City Council - Dennis Gillette, John Diguiseppe, Bob Wilson. I like the current council, our city is in great shape. I'm voting incumbents.
Conejo Recreation and Parks - Joe Gibson, Susan Holt, Mike Berger. Based on voter guide.
We interrupt my vote for a rant. Why oh why do we have voter information published in Spanish? There is one official language in California, and it isn't Spanish. I'm Dutch, why don't we publish voter information in Dutch? There must be people from hundreds of countries speaking thousands of languages living in California; why not publish voter information in every used language? It doesn't make sense. People who can't speak English or comprehend written English should not vote. Simple as that. Okay, now back to voting...
- 1A - No. I think gas taxes probably should be used for transportation improvements, but I don't like earmarked taxes. Let the Governor and Legislature have flexibility to reallocate when necessary.
- 1B - Yes. $20B bond issue for state and local transportation improvements. Although there's an argument that we shouldn't use bonds for this stuff ("borrowing against the future") the fact is that these investments are needed and we can't fund them out of tax revenue, and shouldn't choke economic growth by raising taxes. So...
- 1C - No. $3B bond issue for housing and development programs. Unlike 1B, It isn't clear that these investments really are investments, or whether they're needed.
- 1D - No. $10B bond issue for school infrastructure. Unlike 1B, I don't think school infrastructure is a one-time upgrade; rather, this is ongoing maintenance and investments needed, and should be funded from tax revenues.
- 1E - Yes. $4B bond issue for flood management projects. This feels like 1B to me, so I'm for it.
Note: 1A through 1E are generally being promoted as a package, supported by [among many others] Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I have chosen to vote for them a la carte... despite all being bond issues they have less to do with each other than supporters of the package claim.
- 83 - No. Increased punishments and restrictions on sex offenders. If I thought this would help prevent sexual abuse I'd vote for it, but I don't, so this would be just more money thrown away on bad people.
- 84 - No. $5.4B bond issue for water quality and flood control. I might not understand this well enough to make the right decision, but it feels to me like a special interest thing which isn't really needed.
- 85 - No. Makes it more difficult for minors to get an abortion. I think anyone who is pregnant and doesn't want a baby should get an abortion, especially minors who are less likely to care for the kid.
- 86 - No. Excise tax on cigarettes. I don't like "sin taxes" and this one especially doesn't seem to make sense. Seems to have special interest language in it, too, to protect hospitals from antitrust laws.
- 87 - No. $4B tax hike to fund alternative energy [sic]. I am a big fan of alternative entropy but I don't think government subsidy is the way to get there. Instead let's remove government barriers to private enterprise solutions. Anyway this kind of tax is a waste of money.
- 88 - No. This is the infamous parcel tax. Although this is a way to carve back on Prop 13, which was a big mistake, we should change Prop 13, not enact new taxes in different configurations to work around it. Also, it isn't progressive (that is, doesn't scale to the value of the parcel), which seems unfair. Backed by Reed Hastings (Netflix) and John Doerr (Kleiner Perkins).
- 89 - No. Public campaign funding. I don't think candidates' campaigns are a good use of public funds, sorry, even though I understand and somewhat accept the argument that in the absence of public funding, rich candidates have an advantage. I think they do anyway (!), and people should raise money for their campaigns based on merit.
- 90 - No. An anti-Kelo attempt to restrict public seizure of private property. I am sympathetic to the intent of this proposition, but unfortunately it goes too far by requiring government to compensate property owners for actions which change the value of their property, as well as actions which seize the property. This could trigger a rash of lawsuits and restrict governments from conducting business. ("You didn't put the new school next door to my property, so it is now less valuable!")
Thanks for your attention!
By the way, I am not one of those people who say to everyone: "you should vote!" Instead, if you don't know what you're voting about, don't vote! If you know the people and understand the issues, and we disagree, so be it. But if you don't know the people and don't understand the issues, then please don't dilute my vote with yours.
Archive: November 26, 2005
Can't really call these coffee notes, because I've already had my coffee. In case you're wondering, yes, I did put up our Christmas lights yesterday, and yes, I did not fall off the roof. It wasn't raining and it wasn't windy, so this year was easier than some. (Of course there was a light string which worked perfectly in the garage, but failed when attached to the gable on the second floor, with me standing on the sloping roof, changing bulbs, trying to find the bad one...) Anyway, here's what's happening...
I am reading Woken Furies by Richard Morgan. Almost done with it. I love it, this is his best yet. (The third in a series which began with Altered Carbon and continued with Broken Angels.) And I am so happy because I really loved the first two books in this series, but then Morgan wrote Market Forces, which wasn't part of the series and which I didn't like at all (and didn't even finish), and so I didn't think there would be more books in the series. But there are, so yay!
My favorite and weirdest part of this book is where Morgan describes huge vertical structures on alien planets. (Morgan's planets were formerly occupied by "Martians", who flew, and who left behind amazing "buildings" made of inexplicable materials with unexpected properties.) Somehow their verticality really confers alien-ness, I can feel my vertigo as I read the words. Great stuff.
Speaking of science fiction (we were), did you catch this picture of Saturn's moon Hyperion? Now that is cool. How did those craters form? What a mystery. Almost like something from a Richard Morgan book :) Cassini is awesome!
Christmas Cards are on my mind today. Today is the day I must compile a collage of pictures of my kids, so we can print them, so they can be included with our Christmas Cards, so you-all can see how beautiful they are! Seriously it sounds like a fun project, and it is, but having today as the deadline makes it a bit less fun. I wish I'd done it, like, last weekend. But I didn't, and so here we are. Weird the way that works...
A little while ago Wired ran a story called The Silence of the Leaf Blowers. With which I so agree. I hate that sound - especially on a Sunday morning, or a Saturday, but all other times as well - and I wish there were a good alternative. He who invents a quiet powerful motor will reap great rewards, and not only financial ones. Talk about a problem worth solving!
This problem doesn't only affect yard equipment. How about off-road bikes? Or snowmobiles? Or outboard engines? There are a lot of recreational vehicles which make a ton of noise, and wouldn't it be great if they didn't?
Today is the day for SpaceX. Finger's crossed, good luck, guys! Although they don't need it. I'll be monitoring Kimball's blog all day...
Do you hate business jargon as much as I do? Blech. Stephen Baker of Business Week's Blogspotting wants to Rid the World of "Solutions", and I heartily agree. One of the first things I do when I encounter a company is check whether their website has a “products” page or a “solutions” page. Products = good, this is stuff they make and sell. Solutions = bad, it is sometimes impossible to tell what is being made or sold, besides marketing hype. As an example, I received an email from a company called BSIL, and this was on their home page:
"We are a global, end-to-end IT solutions provider with a global delivery footprint. With over 20 years of experience, we understand our customers’ needs better and provide a portfolio of services, using robust processes, which enable them to leverage their IT investments."
Do you have any idea what these people do? Nor do I. (Apparently they "provide solutions" :)
A classic example of meaningless jargon is "Web 2.0". Nobody knows what it means, it doesn't mean anything. It is simply buzzword-compliant crap to put in a marketing plan. Or for naming a conference.
(And don't tell me it means "web applications built with AJAX", because that is not what it means, and anyway "web applications" and "AJAX" are two other examples of bogus jargon. (meta-jargon, anyone?))
I'm not the only one to think so, there seems to be backlash forming:
Xeni Jardin spots trends before most of us: Web 2.0 cracks start to show.
Joel Spolsky's reliable BS meter reports: The Architecture Astronauts are Back!
And not only is "Web 2.0" itself jargon, it has spawned other jargon; check out this page, which allows you to create your own Web 2.0 company. The general schema, "X via Y", is a great clue to the cluelessness of it all. Truly interesting concepts are just "X", the "via Y" part is mere implementation...
Hey, and we even have Web 2.0 Bingo!
For an unbelievable example of jargon run amuck, consider Microsoft's recent "Live" announcement. Talk about meaningless blather.
Just look at this diagram, does this make any sense at all?
I happen to think Bill Gates is incredibly overrated as a smart guy. He is a lousy presenter, and really smart guys give good, focused presentations that make you realize they are really smart. Steve Jobs would be an example. Kip Thorne - now he's a smart guy. Or how about Richard Feynman; in addition to being interesting, he exuded intelligence and deep understanding. Bill Gates may be a great businessman, but he is not a great technologist. And he is not a really smart guy. Sorry.
If you disagree, please refer back to the picture. Would a really smart guy stand in front of that diagram? (Click for a bigger picture, or see Niall Kennedy's Flickr photo, which has a great comment thread. Via Tom Coates, who comments: "God, does anyone have the slightest idea what Microsoft are on about?")
We've all become a bit immunized to Microsoft's jargon; the reaction to the "Live" announcement was fortunately muted and mostly negative:
Steve Gillmor: Beep Beep. "Remember Wily Coyote? He's the Roadrunner's nemesis, chasing him out off the cliff's edge. Then there's that exquisite moment where he stands on thin air, about to realize he's got nothing. That's Microsoft, folks." Ouch.
Joel Spolsky's BS meter pegged immediately: Massive Frontal PR is Incompatible with Ship Early and Often; a wonderful roasting even though it lacks Joel's usual pithy title.
Robert X. Cringley had Deja Vu All Over Again, in which he notes Microsoft's "Live" reaction to Google is analogous to Microsoft's "Active" reaction to Netscape. Perfect; neither "Active" nor "Live" have any content at all.
Mary Jo Foley: Hailstorm take 2. (You know you're in trouble when your new jargon is seen as the second version of your old jargon.) "When you get past the marketing fluff of 'sea changes' and '21st century Internet,' Microsoft did not announce a lot of new deliverables." She did go on to write, "We didn't notice a single mention of Web 2.0 during Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Technology Officer Ray Ozzie's remarks. That earns Microsoft some big points in our book." Okay, I'll give 'em that. They piled on their own jargon, but steered clear of everyone else's...
Poor Robert Scoble was left to respond: "I don't think it was clear." (D'ya think?) "This was the beginning of a major rudder turn on Microsoft." Iceberg ahead.
The "Live" demo itself was as lacking in content as the concept; Dave Winer liveblogged: "An hour into it they finally start the demo. The screen is blank, the guy is talking. It's live.com. The demo didn't work. A total demo disaster."
(Gates' performance prompted Dave to link his classic Demoing for Fun and Profit, from 1995; as true and relevant today as it was then. Perhaps Gates should read it.)
Even if the demo had worked, it would have been unimpressive; to my eye live.com is pretty uninteresting. Okay, we have a personalized portal. What is this, 1997? Not to mention, it is not even a good personalized portal; maybe they should have visited My Yahoo! or NetVibes, or even their own Start.com. Cue the clowns.
Perhaps we need some new jargon, a word which means "a word which actually means nothing".
Archive: January 3, 2005
Now I'm in San Diego, and it's still raining. What! This is Southern California, it never rains here. Anyway here's what else is happening:
David Hornik's New Year's Resolution is the same this year as it has been every year; he wants to meet great entrepreneurs. So what makes a great entrepreneur? One thing. You must be able to convince others to believe in you. That's it. If you can do that, you can raise money, you can recruit people, and you can do anything. If you can't do that, you'll have trouble raising money and recruiting people, and it won't matter how great your ideas.
Randall Parker reports Vitamin D could decrease overall cancer risk by 30%. "A long-term study of 50,000 men by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health suggests vitamin D may reduce the risk of all cancers. The study, which is still under review for publication, found that men who consumed higher levels of vitamin D reduced their overall cancer risk by at least 30 percent... a separate study of women is expected to produce similar results." Wow, 30%? That's really moving the needle.
I have to report - TivoToGo is live! This feature allows people to copy video from their Tivo to their Windows PC. Or course, the video is DRMed. And I want video to go the other way, from my PC to my Tivo... [ via George Hotelling ]
Here are some pictures from the Tropical Island dome; a converted zeppelin hanger which is now a beach resort in Eastern Germany. This building is three football fields long, and taller than the Statue of Liberty. Wow.
Okay, you knew this was going to happen; the Vonage WiFi phone. Yep, this is a cell phone, except it's not; it's a cordless phone, except it's not. Well, it's a working phone and it is cordless, and it's practically free.
Oh, look, another Vonage cordless phone. Only this one doesn't use WiFi, it has it's own 5.8GHz wireless receiver. For ten points explain the difference :)
Either way, VoIP is taking over. It is only a matter of time, now, before analog phones are history.
Finally, here we have a hobbit hole, inhabited by humans. "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort." Proving once again that just when you think you've seen everything, you realize "everything" is so much more than you realized :) [ via Clive Thompson ]
Know what would be really cool? A a link to one year into the future :)
P.S. I also added a link to Amazon's Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund Donation page. Just in case the urge strikes you to help while you're reading my blog. I decided to use an image of the classic woodcut "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", by Katsushika Hokusai, depicting a tsunami in 1831. "Oddly, though it's a sea storm, the sun is shining..."
Archive: January 19, 2004
Man, it is busy out there! It's all happening...
So let me start tonight with Kerry's (and Edward's!) victories over Dean in Iowa. They say Iowans don't pick the winner, but they prune the field. So Gephardt is out, and Dean has lost momentum, if not the race.
Doc Searles, who is an ardent Dean supporter, lets the roots speak. The results, and the emotions. He also observes "The best looking candidates won in Iowa... Kerry and Edwards aren't just the best looking candidates, but the best-talking ones as well. They are practiced and excellent public speakers. As message delivery boys, they hit the porch every time. Dean is an okay speaker. He's not great." Is communication important? Yes.
It is pretty tough to follow "everything" in a campaign these days; Taegan Goddard posted this wonderful quote from Michael Barone: "In the 1980s, I believed that you could cover a presidential election from five rooms--the morning meetings of the two campaigns, where the day's message was set, and the afternoon meetings of the three networks, where executives decided what part of that message would make the evening news... But today you couldn't cover the 2004 fall campaign from 100 rooms. Too much of it will be going on over back fences and on the Internet."
Dave Winer premiered an RSS feed for political junkies following Dean: Channel Dean.
My favorite way to follow the campaign is The Command Post, which has a 2004 Presidential Election feed. What a wonderful resource. I love comparing their timeliness and accuracy against "big media"; they are consistently better.
Martin Luther King Day. Doc Searles posted a picture of a plaque with this quote: "Through our scientific genius, we have made this world a neighborhood; now, through our moral and spiritual development, we must make of it a brotherhood. In a real sense, we must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools." Amen.
Did you know 35 countries have troops in Iraq? Unilateral action, eh?
Steven Den Beste lauds Japan as an unsung ally. "Japan has emerged as the second most reliable ally we have." Who would have thought...
As I was spacing out the other day, I noted a difficulty of manned space missions lies in the need for return. Space.com contemplates the Helium-3 found on the moon. "Helium 3 fusion energy may be the key to future space exploration and settlement." It could be a "cash crop", or merely fuel for a return voyage, or a trip to Mars...
is cheering again, as are their shareholders; AlwaysOn reports Yahoo emerging from dot-com gloom. "Yahoo's comeback represents another hopeful sign for the high-tech industry. As more people get high-speed Internet connections in their homes and invest in portable devices to stay online, tech leaders also are reporting higher profits." I don't use Yahoo nearly as much as I used to, thanks to Google, but they have a huge variety of useful services.
Apropos, the NYTimes reports Television Commercials Come to the Web. "Beginning tomorrow, more than a dozen Web sites will run full-motion video commercials in a six-week test that some analysts and online executives say could herald the start of a new era of Internet advertising." Yuk. How soon before someone builds a free tool to disable them?
Joi Ito links some excellent articles on writing, including this one: Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do). Really great stuff.
Ottmar Liebert ponders the difference between Musiker and Musikant ("craftsman" and "artist"). "Think of a musician who plays only cover tunes... Not art, but a lot of craft. On the other hand a punk guitarist who knows only two or three chords may be an artist because of his vision. Not a lot of craft, but art. Very tricky, this stuff, isn't it?" Then there is Ottmar himself, who is both :)
Is this the musical instrument of the future? The OpenSynth Neko64 has a music keyboard, and a computer keyboard. With dual AMD 64-bit Opterons, 64MB of memory, and MIDI interfaces. And it runs Windows.
Vertical Hold wonders about Radiohead's desire that their albums be played all in one piece. "My CD player has a random feature. Am I allowed to listen to the Radiohead album on random play? If my house were to catch on fire while I was listening to the Radiohead album, would I be allowed to escape certain death if it meant not hearing the whole album?" If they regard the album as one piece, why not release it that way? On the other hand, few people play the movements in Vivaldi's Four Seasons out of order.
I love Adam Curry's Quote of the Day series. Yesterday's was from Eric Hoffer: "You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you." Indeed.
More Adam: He notes Big Hair is back! You have been warned...
And finally, the Joke of the Day, courtesy of Citizen Smash: The Cow from Minsk.
The ESA's Mars Express orbiter has begun taking some phenomenal high-resolution photos of Mars. This image shows a region of Valles Marineris ("the Grand Canyon").
(click image for full-size interactive viewer)
Be sure to hit F11 to maximize your browser's window so you can see as much of the image as possible.
As usual, I upsampled the image and am serving it with Aperio's image server software.
Archive: January 25, 2003
Just a few I had to share today - I'm too busy coding for anything else :)
I find the latest announcements by the Bush administration very disturbing. Either the Bush administration has a smoking gun – tangible evidence that Iraq has WMDs or has been trying to make them – or they don’t. I’ve been assuming all along that they did, and that at the appropriate moment, they’d present their evidence to the American people and begin bombing. Our so-called Allies would see this evidence and could decide whether it was conclusive or not, but there would be no doubt about why the American government felt war was necessary. The Weasels would know the rationale even if they continued to disagree with the right response. Now it appears the Bush administration does not have a smoking gun. If they did, why back down now? And if they don’t have a smoking gun, then the whole strategy is called into question. All the troop movements, all the talk of war, all the machinations of the U.N. and U.S. diplomats, would be revealed to be mere saber rattling – and very expensive and diplomatically damaging saber rattling at that. Nobody believes the U.N. inspectors are going to find a smoking gun, in fact, their activities have caused all guns of any kind to be hidden or destroyed, whether smoking or not. The chances of a smoking gun being found now are slim. Without firm evidence the U.S. could never have made a case for war, even with full international support; the U.S. people would not have stood for it. Perhaps Colin Powell will clarify things in tomorrow's address...
Slashnot: the Onion for geeks... Really well done.
Check out this picture. This is a real crop circle. Wow.
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
where are the desktop apps?