Critical Section

Archive: September 11, 2016

never forget

Sunday,  09/11/16  12:01 PM

Wow, 9/11, again.  I will certainly never forget, as must we all not, for the evil philosophy which drove the horrible events of that day is with us still.  We must be ever vigilant to defend our ways of life against those who would take them away.

I have a calm quiet day; the biggest challenge I face will be riding my bike up a steep mountain.  I will worry only about how to make great things happen in the future, for my family and my business, and not about how to avoid bad things happening in the present. 

But I will not forget the recent past, and I hope you will not, either.

 

 
 

Archive: September 11, 2015

never forget

Friday,  09/11/15  12:01 AM

 

9-11-01 ... never forget

never forget

taken at the beautiful 9-11 memorial
the reflections were an amazing serendipity

 

 
 

Archive: October 1, 2014

Windows: 8 + 7 = 10

Wednesday,  10/01/14  02:00 AM

Windows 10News story: Microsoft skips 'too good' Windows 9, jumps to Windows 10.  "Deeming Windows 9 'too good to release,' Microsoft execs shelve follow-up to Windows 8 and proceed to Windows 10."  Oh wait, that wasn't a news story, it was an April Fools' story from a year ago.  Oh wait ... um ...

They are taking Windows 8, re-adding all the stuff we miss from Windows 7 (it will have a Start menu again!), and naming it Windows 10.  Pretty clever, they switched to base 9

Or maybe it will be pronounced Windows two?

 

the disappearing sea

Wednesday,  10/01/14  09:33 PM

The Aral Sea was once the world's fourth-largest lake. Now much of it is a vast toxic desert straddling the borders of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, two former Soviet states in central Asia. Yikes!

This isn't a climate change story, it's a screwing up rivers story.  With a not-so-happy ending...

 
 

Archive: September 11, 2013

never forget

Wednesday,  09/11/13  09:07 AM

most excellent 9-11 tribute at Pepperdine University in MalibuHi all; I'm emerging from my Facebook-induced sabbatical from blogging to post on 9/11; I will never forget, as must we all not do, so as to honor those who died that day and also preserve everything we have and want.

The picture at right is of the most excellent 9/11 tribute on the giant front lawn of Pepperdine University in Malibu; a flag for everyone who died, including foreign flags representing those from other countries.  Standing among the flags blowing around gives you chills, as you realize that each flag represents an ended life, and also how great it is to be standing there, alive, enjoying a beautiful fall day.

Last year on 9/11 I posted a tribute (after just having flown back from the Czech Republic!), and in so doing thought maybe it would prompt me to start blogging again.  That didn't happen; a year has passed and I've posted ... three times.  Yikes!  So this year I'm flying to Colorado today (why must I always be in the air on 9/11?), and I'm again thinking maybe it will prompt me to restart blogging.  We'll see... in the meantime, let's all take a minute and never forget.

 

 
 

Archive: September 25, 2012

one year in love

Tuesday,  09/25/12  10:18 PM

one year in love (my Renovo R4)From: Ole Eichhorn
Sent: Tuesday, Sept 24, 2012 6:20 PM
To: Ken Wheeler*; Nick Wood
Subject: One year! - lovin' it!


Greetings Ken and Nick –


It has now been a year since I took delivery of my spiffy Renovo R4, and I wanted to write you a love letter about it.  I knew I would like this bike, but it has exceeded my high expectations in every way. 


I’ve put about 6,000 miles on it in the past year, including the Furnace Creek 508 [right after I took delivery last year] and the Hoodoo 500 [about a month ago], and it is so darn comfortable on long rides I don’t know how I ever rode without it.  It climbs great – people are always amazed at how light it is (I have really light custom wheels, and the Di2 groupo is light too of course) – but what is amazing is the rock solid way it just motors along in the flats.  It is so smooth.  For an old guy like me it is perfect.


And oh yeah, it is beautiful!  Everywhere I go people admire it.  At the Hoodoo 500 start the announcer made a particular point of calling me to the front so he could show everyone “the first wooden bike we’ve ever had in the race”.  That was pretty cool.  Riding it around is like dating a supermodel, it sure gets positive attention.


Oh and by the way the Di2 has worked great … I was worried about the wiring and the battery in the seat post and all that, but the bottom line is I haven’t had any trouble with it.  The battery lasts forever and it is pretty much worry free.


Anyway I just wanted to report in and tell you how much I’ve enjoyed my Renovo.  If you ever need a testimonial from a customer, please let me know :)


Cheers

 

* Ken Wheeler is the founder and owner of Renovo Bicycles, Nick Wood is the guy who built my bike (and yeah, that really is his name :)


 
 

Archive: September 30, 2011

EOQ!

Friday,  09/30/11  10:29 PM

end of Q3Wow, end of September, end of Q3, end of ... summer.  And now onward into fall and the holidays and so on, all the stuff that happens in Q4.  Next weekend I have the Furnace Creek 508, which I've been thinking about all summer, and so that feels like the real end of Q3, but here we are.  Today was quite a day; started out driving down to Vista for a planning meeting, then drove up to the Valley for another meeting (and yes, it rained, and yes, I had mega traffic), and finally made it home in time for a nice dinner :)  Yay.  Meanwhile, it's all happening...

Don Draper pitches Facebook TimelineDon Draper pitches the Facebook Timeline.  This is great, but I'm not a big fan of the timeline.  Actually I don't mind the timeline, I mind that my News Feed isn't in chronological order anymore.  Anyway.

John Gruber's take on Amazon's New Kindles is much the same as mine.  "It’s all about the content, though. That’s the difference that other tablet makers missed. Motorola, Samsung, RIM - they seem to be chasing the iPad on specs, building the best tablet they can manage at the same starting price of around $500. But they have no clear message telling people what you can do with them."

Apparently Amazon are considering bringing Silk to Windows, Mac, and Android.  Not surprising.

Meanwhile: Finally, the tablet to make HP and RIM feel better.  "On NBC's 'The Office,' the fictional Dunder Mifflin team was forced to sell a triangle-shaped tablet, dubbed the Pyramid."  Hey you never know, with the right content...

Life of George: digital-to-physical gameplayThis is just fantastic: Life of George melds Lego bricks with IOS for 'digital-to-physical' gameplay.  Apparently you build stuff with the Legos, then take a picture to get credit inside the iPhone App.  A whole new category.

Mike Arrington takes a look back one year to AOL's acquisition of TechCrunch, which blew up spectacularly in recent weeks, leading to Mike's departure.  Too bad because there has been so much interesting tech news of late, and news about news isn't so interesting.

$40M eco-yacht!Check this out: $40M Solar Sailboat for Eco-Conscious Yachtsman.  Does it actually sail?  Well yeah, apparently.  And it's so pretty!

I can *so* relate to this:  My non-linear work stream.  "In the era before Blackberrys, iPhones, instant messaging, social networks, and blogs, I had a predictable day."  Eliminating all the interrupts and focusing is hard.

I'm gonna wrap with a couple of most excellent pictures, first, here we have one from a surf-city surf dog competition held in Huntington Beach:

surf dogs!

And here's my picture of the day quarter, a bunch of Giant Panda cubs, all taking a nap:

Giant Panda cubs, taking a nap :)

 

 
 

Archive: October 1, 2010

the world's smallest elephant

Friday,  10/01/10  05:55 PM



The picture above shows the world's smallest elephant; a rather oddly shaped cell in a cluster of other cells imaged from a pap smear at 1/4 micron per pixel.  The elephant cell is about 4 microns across :) which is 4/1,000,000th of a meter.

 
 

Archive: October 1, 2009

Furnace Creek 508, here I come!

Thursday,  10/01/09  11:00 PM

I am delighted to report that in addition to my experienced crew captain Joani, I have now added Greg to my team, and yay I can ride!  Whew.  And OMG, now what?  All week I have not allowed myself to get excited, because I was not sure I'd be able to ride.  Now suddenly I'm going to do it, and I'm excited and scared and worried all at once.

If you're new here, I'm talking about the Furnace Creek 508.  A 508 mile cycling race through Death Valley, in which you have 48 hours to finish.  For some it truly is a race, but for me, it is an adventure.  If I finish, I win.

My 508 'totem': Rocky the Flying SquirrelWell first things first, make the [long] list of things I'll need to bring, read as much as possible, eat, drink, make a plan, and then... go for it!  It is better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved...  and infinitely better to have raced and dropped out, than never to have ridden.  Although it might not feel that way on Saturday night.

You might wonder, if you're doing one of these long rides, what do you do?  It is amazingly not-boring.  There are always things to see - you see a lot on a bike at 18mph that you miss in a car at 70mph.  And you can think - cycling is great for thinking.  And you can listen to music!  I will certainly be Powered by Chickenfoot!

So I start at 0700 on Saturday, checkpoint one is California City, checkpoint two is Trona, and by Saturday night I should be climbing the incredible Townes Pass into Death Valley.  Check point three is - ta da - Furnace Creek, where I should be in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  At that point I plan to sleep, get about 3-4 hours.  Then it is up the Salsberry grade to Shoshone, checkpoint four, and then Baker checkpoint five.  That should be mid-afternoon Sunday.  Then the endless climb up to Kelso, checkpoint six, descend through the desert to Amboy, checkpoint seven, into the evening.  And the final false flat to Twentynine Palms, and the finish, late late Sunday night aka early Monday.

Please keep your fXf!
You may follow my progress here...

See you Monday night, same blog channel :)

 
 

Archive: October 1, 2008

you can't script October

Wednesday,  10/01/08  07:03 PM

So I’m sitting on my couch with my guinea pig, watching the Dodgers start their series with the Cubs, and TBS’ tagline for their playoff coverage is “you can’t script October”.  Amen to that, I’m thinking; why just a week ago, although I was already sick, I thought I was recovering.  I thought I was heading to the College of American Pathologists' conference, enjoying a nice ride over the weekend, and then working normally this week, while eating and otherwise preparing for the Furnace Creek 508 next weekend.

Um, no.  Bzzzzzzt.

who scripted that?I was actually just about to get really sick, I just didn't know it.  I did attend the CAP conference (where I had an incredible "how did I get here moment", which I will share with you), but barely staggered through it, and upon my return Saturday I was toast.  I spent the weekend alternating between fever spikes as high as 103o and impressive coughing fits.  Turns out I have a fungal lung infection called "valley fever", must have caught it while riding the double century in Napa, with an immune system lowered by a preceding week of stress and no sleep, not to mention the exertion of the ride itself.  I *finally* saw my doctor on Monday, who prescribed Levaquil (a strong antibiotic) and Promethazine (an antihistamine), along with Codeine, and I am on the mend.  Today I actually worked in my office, instead of in bed, and though I am weak and woozy my brain is slowly reengaging, after being pretty well disconnected for a few days.  I am definitely not riding the 508 next weekend; even if I felt up to it, my doctor and Shirley would not allow it, and both have spent significant amounts of time saying so.

So be it.

Meanwhile the background is equally unscriptable, at Aperio I have a couple of colleagues dealing with far more serious medical situations than mine (fXf), and our next release remains on track for beta despite a flurry of last minute bugs.  And of course the world financial markets can’t figure out what to do, congress are debating the nature of the infinite while Wall Street burns, and the Presidential election has descended into farce.  Unscriptable.

Yet I am feeling better, and the baseball playoffs have started!  How bad could it be?

 

 

on the state of medicine, 2008

Wednesday,  10/01/08  07:57 PM

I've been sick, so I visited my doctor.  Being a patient is a unique experience for me, I never get sick, and when I do, I take a DayQuil or Motrin, and two days later I'm fine.  My doctor is the guy who conducts my annual checkups, annually.  As a result of my really lightweight brush with the state of medicine in 2008, I have a few observations.  These are not earth shattering and for those of you who have dealt with medical practice as a patient rather than a vendor, probably all too familiar.

one sick puppyFirst, there is really lousy communication.  My doctor is a GP, also involved in my case are a pulmonary specialist, a radiology lab, a lab where the blood analysis was done, and two pharmacies.  They are all colocated in one wealthy city.  You would think these entities would have an electronic way to communicate, but they don't.  Many phone calls are made, many faxes are sent (faxes!  In 2008!), and many data are manually transcribed.  Prescriptions are handwritten!  Worst of all, they all rely on me, the patient, to be the central repository of my information.  The pulmonary specialist asks me for my medical history, in great detail, when it is already sitting in my GP's files.  He asks me what drugs were prescribed, when the prescriptions were made by the GP.  The radiology tech asks me to describe my symptoms.  The pharmacy interprets a handwritten prescription.  The lab results are phoned and faxed.  Etc, etc.  In the case of a 49-year old with reasonable mnemonic capacity, these questions can be answered (although I could easily mis-remember drug names and dosages).  But what if I was older, sicker, less able to comprehend?  There is no excuse for this.  I have to believe a huge amount of efficiency could be gained and a large number of errors eliminated by some kind of physical repository for each person's medical history.  A thumb drive, for example.  We could carry them around with us from doctor to doctor, doctor to lab, doctor to pharmacy, with the requisite information stored and history updated.

Please someone!  Insert business plan here!

Second, the level of medical technology is amazingly uneven.  My doctor has a device the size of a shoebox used for measuring blood oxygen.  The pulmonary specialist has a similar device for a similar purpose, but it is the size of a large clothespin.  My doctor's nurses use their wristwatches for measuring pulse.  At the hospital, they have a device which clips to your earlobe, takes two seconds.  The hospital's X-ray machine writes film, which they digitize to store in their PACS (computer system).  My doctor actually asked me to drive to the hospital to pick up the film to take to the pulmonary specialist.  When I expressed shock that they weren't able to share the X-rays digitally, he expressed shock that doing so was possible.  (It was :)

It isn't just the technology, of course, it is knowledge of the technology.  Doctors spend a great deal of time doing CME (continuing medical education), but it seems to be disease and drug oriented, rather than technology oriented.  Maybe the doctors themselves choose this, I don't know.

Third, my doctors, labs, pharmacies, etc. do not share information with me, despite the fact that each of them seem to rely on me, the patient, to be the central repository.  The labs don't send me results, they send them to my doctors.  The pharmacies don't tell you about the drugs they make for you, or the devices they sell you.  The doctors consult with each other, but not with me.  It is like they all get together and collaborate on a diagnosis and treatment, and only then can the secret be revealed, as a single ground truth.  I am certainly not an expert in lung infections and would not presume to contribute to a discussion of possible diagnoses or treatments.  But there is some amount of debate, clearly, and I am not exposed to it.  Knowing that the radiology lab found X, and that doctor Y thinks this means Z, but doctor Q thinks this means R, that would be nice.  I do appreciate, medicine is sometimes art as well as science.

Enough!  I am complaining, but I should be grateful, because I do have access to the best in medicine, 2008, from doctors to labs to pharmacies, as a result of which I am feeling frisky enough to blog.  And that's what is really important!

 

 

the ultimate driving machine

Wednesday,  10/01/08  10:46 PM

I'm in San Diego, and I'm walking along the nice little boardwalk between the convention center and the bay, convalescing, and I see something up ahead...  what the heck is that?  ...  it looks like, huh ... holy crap, IT IS -- TRIZILLA!

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

Yep, right in front of me, there it was, good ‘ol BMW Oracle just arrived, and they let me walk into the compound and take pictures and everything.  Of course I only had my cameraphone so they’re crummy pics. 

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

The sheer size and scale of this monster are tough to grasp until you’re standing next to it.  I think the spar was the most amazing thing of all – seemed like it was ten feet wide, and two hundred feet long. 

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

Here is a picture of the bird in flight, you may remember from an earlier post:

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

90' long x 100' wide x 160' high.  It could go under the Coronado Bridge.  With 15' to spare :)

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

What an amazing craft. I’d sure love to take it for a test drive :)

 

 

Wednesday,  10/01/08  11:08 PM

Well, I'm baaack to blogging.  This is all done under the influence of strong drugs, you have been warned.

What do you do when all hell breaks loose in the world while you're sick?  You can't really comment on all that, right?  Right.  Well, you can comment on bits of all that.  The critical sections, you might say :)

I like this one from the WSJ: Congress lives up to its 10% approval rating.  I'm guessing at least 90% of us agree.

McCain vs. ObamaI thought Slate summed up last Friday's debate perfectly: Tie goes to Obama.  Each side thought they won, but the undecideds in the middle thought Obama won, so he did.

Here's some important analysis: how has the financial crisis affected the wine world?  At least some of the media are staying focused.  The answer: "bars, restaurants, and nightclubs have seen a sharp falloff in business, and many proprietors report that the customers who are showing up are purchasing fewer alcoholic beverages and less expensive ones. At the retail end, however, wine sales appear to be galloping along."  So be it.  Did I tell you about the Sea Smoke Pinot I had last week?  OMG.

SpaceX makes orbit!Something really great did happen on Sunday: SpaceX made orbit!  At 4:14PM PST their Falcon-1 spacecraft blasted off from their base at Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, and 2:35 later the two stages separated, perfectly, at 3:05 the fairing separated, perfectly, and at 9:26 the second stage engine was cutoff, perfectly, leaving the spacecraft nestled in Earth orbit.  (click the link for video, it's cool.)  Congratulations to Elon Musk and his entire team, this is fantastic.  It presages a whole period of privately financed space exploration, I am sure of it...

Actually next up is the F9, which has nine of the engines in the F1, and which can transport as much as 23,000lbs into orbit.  Orders for berth space on launches are going to be coming in now, and you can just imagine people being part of the cargo.  Of course that would [probably] require the capability to bring the spacecraft back, something SpaceX will do, but have yet to demonstrate.

The big winners in October so far are clearly Chicago and L.A., which each have both of their teams in the playoffs.  New York, oh for two.  San Francisco, zippo.  Neener neener.  Actually I must tell you that while I wasn't really paying attention, there was some great baseball last weekend, spilling into Monday, as the White Sox survived three must win games in a row, just to make the playoffs.  I'm rooting for them, well, until they meet the Angels.  And the Cubs have to be your sentimental pick, right?  I'm rooting for them, well, actually I'm not because too bad for them, they start out against the Dodgers.  Freeway Series baby, it will be great...

Fusionman!Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Fusionman!  That would be Yves Rossy, who Engadget helpfully point out is not Buzz Lightyear, flying across the English channel in a jet-wing.  "When asked if he was worried about risk, Rossy replied, 'I'm not worried about risk, I manage risk.'"  Sounds like a Wall Street investment banker!  At an estimated $190K, I can see quite a market for these things...

Google turns 10!Happy Birthday, Google!  They turned ten...  quite the tween.  I can still remember when I was working at Intuit, in 1999, at the old Sun campus in Mountain View, and there was this cute little startup called Google across the parking lot which used to have lots of parties.  Little did we know...

 

 
 

Archive: October 1, 2007

 

Archive: October 1, 2006

hotlinking

Sunday,  10/01/06  11:34 PM

During the past seven months, while I've been not posting (ouch!), I've occasionally checked my website stats, and I've found that my little site continues to get an amazing amount of traffic.  There are some old posts which are heavily linked, like Tyranny of Email and Unnatural Selection.  (And Religion vs. IQ continues to be debated!)  This is great, thanks for reading.

[ Update: on 6/14/08 I retroactively added a post in September 2006: a perfectly incredible day ]

But also there are more and more images being hotlinked, mostly from myspace sites but also from various message boards and random blogs.  (A hotlink is where there is a page on one site which loads images from another site.)  I don't mind sharing any of the images I've accumulated.  But please copy them to your own site, so I don't have to serve them!

Anyway tonight, in a fit of procastination regarding other things I should be doing instead, I decided to implement a few rewrite rules to discourage hotlinking:

RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} /images
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !^$
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !w-uh\.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !bloglines\.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !newsgator\.com [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !google\. [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !yahoo\. [NC]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} !search\?q=cache [NC]
RewriteRule (.*) /hotlink.jpg [NC,L]

The net effect of this is that sites which hotlink images are now served this image instead:

hotlink!

If you are the owner of such a site, feel free to copy any images you like, but please host them yourself.  And if you have questions about this, please contact me.  Thanks...

[ Update: the image above was changed to include the URL; that way people might be able to fix the link! ]

 
 

Archive: October 1, 2005

 

Archive:

 

Archive: September 30, 2003

Tuesday,  09/30/03  10:50 PM

The Ole filter makes another pass...

So, it is the end of September.  Nine months of blogging.  Seems like only yesterday I started...  Looking back at "old" posts, I see that I've slowly begun blogging more "news" and less "commentary".  In particular, a lot of electronics "news".  I'm going to slow that down; check out Gizmodo (linked from my blogroll), which is a great site for electronics news (and their RSS feed).


Johan Hari has a great post, The Iraqi Homecoming, about the experience of some young Iraqi exiles from the UK who spent the summer in Iraq.  Fascinating, a great inside look at what's really happening.  Overall the picture is positive, especially in the longer view.  [ via Steven Den Beste ]

the Fanimatrix screenshot 1the Fanimatrix screenshot 2Wow - check out the Fanimatrix.  A terrific amateur effort, another segment in the Matrix saga...  They absolutely nail it, with the music, the sound effects, the green tint, everything.  Awesome!  It is spreading like wildfire over the 'net, fueled by word of mouth and P2P distribution.

Speaking of P2P, have you checked out Bittorrent?  The Fanimatrix is a great way to check it out.  First, download this program (the Windows client), and run it.  Now click on this link.  Man, it works.  High-speed P2P downloading of movies.  And there are a ton of them out there...  This looks to me to be the Napster of video; although great for music, Kazaa is just too slow and unreliable for 1GB movies.

Here's a great PDF paper which explains how Bittorrent works.  Author Bram Cohen has analyzed the philosophy of P2P in detail to craft a tool which has the right incentives.  The biggest thing is that clients only receive download bandwidth if they give upload bandwidth.

P2PUnited: fighting for the future of peer-to-peer technology.  "P2P United is the unified voice of the peer-to-peer ('P2P') technology industry's leading companies and proponents."  The members of P2P United are LimeWire, Blubster, Grokster, Streamcast Networks (Morpheus), BearShare, and eDonkey 2000.  Essentially "everyone" except Sharman Networks (Kazaa).

Meanwhile ACLU Takes Aim at Record Labels.  If nothing else P2P is keeping lawyers employed :)

internetnews.com: Remote Power: Can PVRs Kill TV Spots?  Lots of detail about PVR penetration figures and projections.  Everyone understands now that PVRs will take over, the 30-second spot is dead.  Now what will the industry do about it?

MovieBeam screenshotCNet reports Disney unveils video-on-demand service called MovieBeam.  It uses a dedicated set-top box which has PVR-like features (pause, rewind, etc.).  The experience will be similar to that of hotel video-on-demand, but for consumers in their homes.  Content distribution is via broadcast (cable), not over the 'net.  "It's a very TV-centric box. It doesn't face the same challenges that PC-based services have experienced, because the content is delivered directly to the living room."  Interesting, this will be one to watch!

James Cramer thinks MovieBeam Will Fade Like a Moonbeam.  "No more devices.  Sorry, I don't want still one more device attached to my television set.  And I certainly don't want to pay for it."  But people are buying Tivos, and ReplayTVs, and ...

Battery Ventures: Rays of Sunshine after a Perfect Storm.  Less interesting for the detail as the mindset.  As VCs think more positively, more startup activity will occur.Klockwerks clock

Check out Klockwerks.  Excellent!  I want one.

volumetric rendering of airplane

This is cool"Volumetric rendering" of movies.  "The basic idea is simple: Video is composed of a large number of individual frames, each with X and Y dimensions.  Just stack each frame on top of the next and you've got a Z dimension to place into a volume renderer."  Wow.  [ via Cory Doctorow ]

Finally, we have Duct Tape vs. Duck Tape.  Proving once again that you can find everything on the 'net, and that "everything" is much more than you ever thought.

 
 

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