Critical Section

Archive: May 31, 2020

wrap master Christo, 1935-2020

Sunday,  05/31/20  08:56 PM








... a unique creative force ... he will be missed ...


sine wave filter pass

Sunday,  05/31/20  09:03 PM

Today was a sine wave of emotions; great excitement with the SpaceX astronauts reaching the International Space Station, and great sadness watching rioting and looting all over the United States.

Reading my Facebook and Twitter feeds, it seems we may have reached peak virtue signaling...

Covid deaths in US on 5/7/20Meanwhile, oh yeah, we have a pandemic.  And check out this amazing graphic; the green counties are 1/3 of all the deaths in the US, the yellow are another 1/3, and the red the final 1/3.  Wow.  Please click to enbiggen...

the Clinton archipelagoReminds me of another remarkable map, The Clinton Archipelago, showing the areas of the US which voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, which famously contain more than 50% of the population.  Please click to enbiggen...

Mediterranean Sea of AmericaAs long as we're doing remarkable maps, here's another... The Mediterranean Sea of America.  Interesting that it is *so* large, and also, that the latitudes line up so well.  Who would have thought Northern Italy lined up with North Dakota?  This map also includes the Black Sea, which overlays the Great Lakes pretty nicely, both in size and location.  Supercool.

xkcd: confidence intervalAs we are all looking at models and maps, the inimitable xkcd nails it: confidence interval.

The CDC’s New ‘Best Estimate’ Implies a Covid-19 Infection Fatality Rate Below 0.3%.  That rate is much lower than the numbers used in the horrifying projections that shaped the government response to the epidemic.  But if they were so wrong before, maybe they are equally as wrong now?  (What is the confidence interval? :)

How Innovation WorksMatt Ridley has a new book out: How Innovation Works.  "Innovation is the main event of the modern age, the reason we experience both dramatic improvements in our living standards and unsettling changes in our society."  In the queue...

Finally, have you been following Magic Leap?  This company was founded in 2010 and has raised $2.6B (yes!) to develop augmented reality systems.  So far the demos have been excellent but the products have been terrible, and the company recently announced half the staff would be laid off "due to Covid-19".  Riight.  But wait! - they have now raised a new $350M (yes!), but their CEO is resigning.  John Gruber helpfully offers a Translation From VC-Backed PR Jargon to English of Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz’s Statement That He’s ‘Stepping Down’.  "I am amazed that we raised $2.4 billion and have managed to stretch this con out for 7 years and counting. We even convinced Google to invest.  Google!"  Stay tuned.

Well that's today's filter pass (and exercise in mapmanship); let's hope tomorrow is less exciting, and the day after even less so.  2020 is not messing around!



Archive: June 3, 2019


Archive: June 3, 2018


Archive: May 30, 2017

not liking

Tuesday,  05/30/17  11:50 PM

not likeHi blog public, how are y'all?  Sorry I've been missing; what can I say, I've been busy.  Tales for another time.

Today I am feeling feisty about all the crappy politics on Facebook.  I've borderline stopped visiting just because of it.  Some of my friends are stuck on politics all the time, and just have to sound off into their little echo chamber.  People on both sides, but mostly liberals who still haven't absorbed the results of the last election.  Yeah you know who you are.

So anyway here's what I'm going to do.  I'm inventing a little rating system.  Everyone starts at 10, because, well, they're my friends.  From there, I'll +1 if I like something they've posted, and -1 if I don't like something.  (A "Not Like".)  This will be for political posts which are just blasts into the echo chamber.  (Another way to get a -1: post a text-only "picture" with some random saying.)

Here's how I'm going tally my ratings:  For a Like, I'll click Like.  For a Not Like, I'll post a comment: Not Like : N, where N = that person's new rating.  If someone drops below zero, I'm going to unfollow them.  They'll still be my friend, but I won't be viewing their posts anymore.  I might miss a cute picture of their kids or a great book recommendation, but such is life. 

Anyway this will be my little experiment, we'll see how it works out.  Please stay tuned!

[Update: I never did this.  I was about to, once, and didn't like how it felt.  Onward!]


Archive: June 3, 2016


Archive: June 3, 2015

magic storefront

Wednesday,  06/03/15  10:57 PM

magic storefrontToday I was in a new little mall and walked past a shiny storefront with a "for lease" sign.  And I thought to myself, if that was *my* store, what would I sell?  Imagine for a moment you could sell anything, what would it be?

Of course, you could sell "stuff", but what would people want?  Clothes?  Electronics?  Food?  People pay a lot for entertainment (books, music, videos, games), but so much of that travels as bits these days, not atoms ... hard to sell entertainment from a storefront in 2015.  Sure, you can think of "needs", but those turn into commodities pretty quickly, what could you sell to satisfy "wants"?

Since people are motivated to like themselves, what could you sell them that would make them like themselves better?

You could fool people - sell mirrors that make you look thinner.  Or you could genuinely help people... make them fitter, or smarter, or more confident.  Or you could educate them; learning helps with many things, not least self esteem.

But maybe the answer isn't to change people, but to change the way they feel about themselves.  How about a store that sells counseling services?  Or a store that sells affirmation from others?  What would that look like?



Archive: May 27, 2014

Tuesday,  05/27/14  11:15 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Archive: June 3, 2013


Archive: June 3, 2012


Archive: June 3, 2011

changes brewing

Friday,  06/03/11  07:14 PM

changes brewing ...Wow, interesting week.  I found the Leadership Summit I attended last week and the long ride and the long weekend added up to a lot to think about.  And tomorrow I'm riding a 200K for even more think time :)  There are changes brewing...  but I'm not yet ready to spill the beans.  In the meantime, it's all happening!

what is a jellyfish?Have you ever wondered, what is a jellyfish?

According to Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, the iPad is not a revolution.  But the AppleTV ... is.  Huh, it must be a slow-developing revolution, then.

I think y'all know, I have an original AppleTV, and I love it.  Haven't rented a physical movie or watched a DVD for years.

Google +1 buttons for websites.  Okaaay.  I can totally see "Like" buttons, so you can share interesting content with your Facebook friends.  There's an ego-feedback thing operating.  But why would you +1 something?  There is zero payback.  I predict this will come to naught.

Totally agree with John Gruber: there weren't enough shitty little buttons on every post on every website.  The only one worth clicking is Facebook's Like.  Once you get that, you get social media.

Tim Bray has added +1 buttons.  Of course, he works for Google.  I don't deny they make search better, but they don't do anything for me ... or for my readers.

Madrid subway station - one of the world's 14 coolestFourteen of the world's most amazing subways.  Wow, cool.  As a Los Angelino I find *all* subways amazing, wouldn't it be great if we had one too?  Even a non-amazing one would be ... amazing.  But these are especially cool.  I have been in the one in Madrid, at right, and it is huge.

Cringley takes on HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health).  What he thinks we should do: "We figure out which is the best presently operating system in terms of functionality, reliability, ease of use, and any other criteria you'd like to add. Then we do something that is never done in IT. We take this off-the-shelf product, spend a little of that $30 billion to buy it outright, then give it to every hospital, clinic, and doctors’ office in America."  Who's "we", kimosabe?

George Lucas strikes backThis is seriously wonderful: The real George Lucas has been imprisoned while an imposter made the Star Wars prequels.  A fan trailer for "George Lucas strikes back".  Can't we all identify with this?  I mean, could the same person who brought us Yoda have brought us Jar Jar Binks?

Totally agree: Philip Greenspun: Destroy the Planet: Buy Organic.  There's a reason we use pesticides.

So, is Windows 8 the beginning of the end of Windows?  I'm not sure.  iPads might be the best computer ever for my Mom, but they aren't going to replace my laptop anytime soon.  (He writes, typing on his laptop :)

John Gruber: I feel like the Groupon IPO is an elaborate practical joke.  Same.  This is not a real business.

Okay that's it: play nice, and have a nice weekend.  I'm riding tomorrow, and then tomorrow night I'm flying to Chicago for a one-day visit to the ASCO conference.  I'll probably blog on the plane ... please stay tuned!


perfect guests (New Yorker 5/23/11)

Friday,  06/03/11  07:55 PM





Archive: May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day

Monday,  05/31/10  09:11 AM

Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness - thanks!Happy Memorial Day everyone!  Well I guess maybe it's not "happy" if you're memorializing someone close to you; it could be a time of reflection and sadness. 

For many years this day has had a special meaning for me; my father was in the [Dutch] Navy during WWII (served five years and was a Japanese POW for three of them!), and my oldest daughter Nicole was in the Navy for seven years.  She's out now (!) but I *still* think of her and her Naval colleagues on this day, and all those who came before them, protecting our way of life. 

My biggest challenge on Memorial Day is generally turning on the pool heater, and so it will be today, but it's only thanks to them that I don't have much more serious concerns.  Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness...  THANKS!


setting Facebook privacy

Monday,  05/31/10  09:52 AM

As a public service I have undertaken to understand Facebook's new privacy settings, and to tell you how to set them.  Facebook have recently "simplified" these settings - *ahem* - and it gave me a chance to dig into them a little.  What follows is good advice, but you may find that it's worth what you paid for it :)

First the Golden Rule: assume that anything you post in your Facebook could become public.  If you post pictures or messages or link things that you don't want the whole world to see, you could be in trouble later.  Why?  Because Facebook reserves the right to change their privacy settings at any time.  You might think only your friends can see something today, but that might not be true tomorrow.  So be careful.

Okay, onward.  At the highest level there are now three groups of privacy settings.  When you first click on Privacy Settings, this is the page you see:

This page shows the sharing levels for all the information you post on your Facebook.  Each kind of thing can be shared with Everyone, Friends of Friends, or Friends.  You pick!  To change them, click Customize Settings...  In my case I am only sharing each kind of thing with Friends Only, as shown above.  (If I want something to be public, I post it on my blog :)  Your mileage may vary.  Be especially careful with Friends of Friends; since some of the people with whom you're sharing are not your Friends, you have to assume it is pretty close to Everyone.  Of course, this could be a cool way to meet new Friends, too!

Next, you have Basic Directory Information; when you click on View Settings, this is the page you see:

On this page you set the privacy levels for information displayed about you when people search.  As you can see I have all these set to Everyone.  The setting you are most likely to want to change is "See my friend list"; this has caused some controversy.  You could restrict access to this if you don't want Everyone to know who your friends are...  then again, maybe you don't mind others knowing, your choice.  I'm proud of my Friends :)

Finally there are the settings for Applications and Websites, displayed on this page:

Here you set the privacy levels for Facebook Applications and for third-party websites affiliated with Facebook.  At the top are shown the Applications which you've authorized to use your Facebook information.  I'm using a handful as you can see, but lots of people have tens or even hundreds of these; be careful, because they can use your Facebook information!  A lot of them are fun and some of them are useful, but many of them are useless and some are even dangerous; periodic "gardening" to remove applications you aren't using is a good idea. 

  • I have changed the default setting for Game and Application Activity to Friends Only.  I don't know what Applications might do with my Facebook data, so this seemed safest.  Your mileage may vary... 
  • The link to Info Accessible through your Friends is subtle; this defines what information about you is available to your Friends when they use applications.  I have all of them enabled, but I trust my Friends; I only "friend" someone who is truly a friend.  If you're someone who "friends" everyone you meet, you might want to turn these off.
  • The link to Instant Personalization lets you set whether "partner websites" can use your friend network to personalize your experience.  This has caused a lot of controversy but I've left it on.  For example using my friend network, Pandora can tell me about music my friends like.  Seems like no bad thing.
  • The link to Public Search lets you set whether people can find you with a non-Facebook search engine.  Since the only information available is stuff you've already shared with Everyone, this seems harmless. 

In all of this, remember the Golden Rule.  These are Facebook's settings today, but they could change tomorrow.  In the meantime have fun Facebooking!


how and why to stop multitasking

Monday,  05/31/10  10:34 AM

I came across a great article the other day: How (and why) to stop Multitasking, by Peter Bregman.  There is some great advice in here; basically the message is that yeah, you can do ten things at once, but you can't do any of them well.  And the net is that you'll be less happy and less productive than if you focus on one thing at a time. 

multitasking... stop it!Peter did an experiment: "For one week I would do no multitasking and see what happened."  And he discovered six things:

  1. It was delightful
  2. I made significant progress on challenging projects
  3. My stress dropped dramatically
  4. I lost all patience for things I felt were not a good use of my time
  5. I had tremendous patience for things I felt were useful and enjoyable
  6. There was no downside

There you go.  Single-tasking is clearly better.  It is interesting to consider why we multitask, but theory aside concentrating on one task at a time does make you more productive.  So how do you do this?  Well Peter offers some suggestions:

  1. The obvious: The best way to avoid interruptions is to turn them off.
  2. The less obvious: Use your loss of patience to your advantage.

The first suggestion is similar advice to my famous Tyranny of Email article from 2003 (still by far the most popular thing I've ever posted online).  I find the worst source of multitasking interruptions is email.  Stop reading it!  And the second worst source of multitasking interruptions are blogs.  Stop reading them!  Now :)

The second suggestion is interesting; as Peter notes: "There's nothing like a deadline to keep things moving.  And when things are moving fast, we can't help but focus on them."  This is definitely true for me; I can procrastinate on something infinitely but when it is really due, I do it.  And am astonished at my productivity while doing so!


Archive: June 3, 2009

Wednesday,  06/03/09  11:35 PM

Man, morning came early today; after getting back from New York late last night I drove down to Vista this morning...  left late, deliberately (so I could sleep a little more), and traffic was fortunately not horrible...  long day of meetings, sometimes I think problems could be solved more easily without other people :) and so I badly needed a hard ride and so I blew out of the office and headed for my now-usual ride down from Dana Point, and my now-usual nice dinner afterwards... and then drove home and then blogged!  Whew.

The art of living dangerously.  "But here's the cool thing. I found that moderate, rational, risk takers, that is, those with scores between the mean and one standard deviation to the right are the people who are most satisfied with their lives."  I think perhaps there is some confusion between correlation and causality here, but it is an interesting finding.  I will try to take more risks... tomorrow!

Titan - where it is springtime!Hey guess what?  It's springtime on Titan!  Honestly I cannot wait to go there, I'm saving up a whole bunch of small risks and I'm going to spend them all at once on one big risk.  The adventure of a lifetime.

Apropos (sort of); a great article by Seth Shostak: When will we find the extraterrestrials?  Please read it for a nice overview of SETI and the various ways we might find life beyond Earth.  Interestingly, Seth argues "I think that if there's a conscious intelligence out there, it's synthetic."  Basically because machines will outlast the organisms that create them...

the Keating hotel in downtown San DiegoThis is pretty cool: The Keating Hotel in downtown San Diego was designed by Pininfarina.  How did I know this?  Well the other night my parking valet gave me his card; he happens to run events and marketing for the Keating :)  Looks awesome, too bad I rarely have occasion to stay downtown...

In case you didn't know; Pininfarina is the Italian design firm best known for Ferraris and Maseratis :)

gallium corrole: a molecular missileCaltech's Engineering & Science quarterly describes a fascinating new technique for fighting breast cancer: Molecular Missiles.  "A search-and-destroy molecular machine that selectively locks on to cancer cells could make radiation treatments a thing of the past, at least for breast cancers.  The method uses a chemical payload called a gallium corrole, mated to a protein carrier that seeks out a cancer-cell marker. Once it binds to the cell, the protein triggers endocytosis, a process in which the cell engulfs the corrole-carrier combo."  An interesting approach, non-invasive and seemingly very effective.

Parenthetically I'll note that I can remember receiving Chemistry lectures from Harry Gray thirty years ago. Dr. Gray always said the best biology was done by chemists :)

Of possible interest, and so I can find it later; Jeff Atwood tells us how to share files with Bittorrent.  Turns out it is a little more complicated to serve files this way than it is to download them...

So have you checked out Google Squared yet?  O'Reilly says it is an exponential improvement in search, a headline crafted more for the mathematical allusion than for truth; honestly it seems like a nice tool for certain work, but not broadly applicable.

Palm Pre - now viewing!Finally, the Pre-views are out!  That is to say a whole slew of reviewers have received a Pre-launch Pre, and are posting their reviews.  So far the results seem quite positive.  I'll have more to say when I'm awake again... good night!


through glasses, darkly

Wednesday,  06/03/09  11:54 PM

hyperspace jumpOakley Livestrong sunglassesSpeaking of taking risks (we were), there is one weird risk I love to take: I like cycling in the dark with dark glasses.  I prefer Oakley Livestrongs for this purpose, your mileage may vary :)  Not the world's biggest risk, after all I can still see - sort of :)  But I love that feeling of rushing along in the dark, little lights flashing by on all sides.  A nice hard rock soundtrack enhances the effect, such as Van Halen's Panama...  or Styx.  I don't know why this is fun, maybe I'm making the jump to hyperspace :)  One of these days I'll hit an unseen pothole or something, and it won't be so fun.  But for now, I prefer to see the world through glasses, darkly...


Archive: June 3, 2008

Tuesday,  06/03/08  09:59 PM

So I had a great day today...  spent the day in Vista.  Lots of exciting things moving at Aperio.  The company is getting big enough now that there are many things moving in parallel that I don't know about in detail; discovering them is exciting.  Of course there are the usual "people" challenges as you grow, but it sure beats the alternative. 

Apparently Obama has accumulated enough superdelegate votes to win the Democratic nomination.  Whew!  Now on to the real debate - which will center on the economy, I think, not on Iraq - and on to each candidates' selection for running mate.  I think there is zero chance Obama will pick Clinton, by the way.

You've got to love Bridget Bardot, an ardent animal rights supporter, her opposition to barbaric Muslim rituals has gotten her convicted of being a racist.  We need a new word, like culturist, for someone who is biased against certain cultures.  That would be me, for example, I do not believe all cultures are equal.

wine!Cliff Kuang, guestblogging for Jason Kottke, wonders why people will pay for good wine but not for good food.  First the premise is wrong; the same people who spend money for great wine will do so for great food.  Next, value is not linear; a $100 bottle isn’t 10X better than a $10 bottle.  (Never mind that most $10 wine is undrinkable, so the $100 bottle is likely infinitely better.)  The real question is simply, is the $100 bottle worth $100?  If someone spends the money, they clearly think so.  There is an experience to be enjoyed, and a value associated with it.  The market decides.  If there was no market for $100 wine, nobody would make it.  Similarly if nobody ever wanted to go to the French Laundry or Michael’s, then they would not exist.  But people do like to pay for a great meal with great friends and great wine, so they do.  Nobody is holding a gun to their head.  For myself, I can't think of too many things I enjoy more than a fine meal with friends, accompanied by a fine wine.

Eclipse VLJPhilip Greenspun with the latest on VLJs (very light jets).  I am following this market with great interest :)  How great would it be to own your own little jet?  But they still cost too much :(

The NYTimes looks at Disney's acquisition of Pixar, two years ago.  "When Disney bought its rival, Pixar, in 2006 for $7.4 billion, many people assumed the deal would play out like most big media takeovers: abysmally...  But two years into the integration of Pixar - and as the company rolls out 'Wall-E,' a risky love story about robots that is estimated to cost at least $180 million - the merger is notable for how well it’s faring."  Seems like Robert Iger has really turned things around at Disney.  Mergers are fascinating things...

A classic from John Gruber: but that's all.  "'I have nothing against iPhone. It’s great,' says Manjit Singh, CIO at Chiquita Brands International Inc.  'But we're a BlackBerry shop, and I don’t think iPhone brings anything new to the table.  It has a great user experience, but that’s all'".  Oh.

This is cool: TuneCore gets you on iTunes for $30.  This is really enabling the long tail, huh?



Archive: May 17, 2007

entrepreneurs inside the machine

Thursday,  05/17/07  08:43 AM

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

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

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


The Bakeoff

Thursday,  05/17/07  10:49 PM

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

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

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

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


bigger than baseball

Thursday,  05/17/07  11:03 PM

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

bigger than baseball
(click to make even bigger :)

Big news - I love it!


Archive: June 3, 2006


Archive: June 1, 2005

song of spring (New Yorker 6/1/05)

Wednesday,  06/01/05  04:38 PM

Ah, the song of spring...

By Peter de Sève

Cult of Mac notes this is the first time an iPod has made a New Yorker cover.
I suspect he's listening to Ottmar... 
Then again, maybe he's listening to Adam Curry - or the Gillmor Gang :)


Wednesday,  06/01/05  09:34 PM

zacht ei - soft eggFound an interesting Dutch blog (in English): Zacht Ei.  (Literally, "the soft egg"; the motto "doorbakken kan altijd nog" means "cooking thoroughly can always be done later".  What a great motto for a blog!)  Anyway there are lots of posts about the Dutch referendum on the EU Constitution; you probably heard it was resoundingly rejected...

According to this article at Blogspotting, blogs tilted the French vote.  "A law professor named Etienne Chouard's blog received 25,000 visits per day, and was linked throughout the French blog world.  His blog turned this professor into a national celebrity, one who went head-to-head with the leading French politicians."  Excellent.

Laguna Beach landslideGerard Vanderleun reports on the horrible landslides in Laguna Beach.  The picture at right is captioned: "This is the route I normally take home.  I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to be taking the longer back way in for some time to come."  Unbelievable, about 20 homes destroyed.  And it isn't raining or anything.

CNN is celebrating its 25th anniversary!  Amazing.  The network which came of age during the first Gulf War - and kind of imploded during the second - ushered in the current era of worldwide always-on news.  Long before the Internet, and blogs :)

Fighting cancer with math.  "By using a mathematical formula formula designed to strengthen the immune system, a team of scientists in Spain have succeeded in curing a patient who was in the last stage of terminal liver cancer."  It sounds cool but I'm from Missouri; there are no details in the article to suggest how the tumor's growth was arrested.  The posters on this slashdot thread are pretty skeptical, too.

TechNews reports Microsoft will drop 'my' prefix for Longhorn.  The mind boggles.  Yeah, I just wish they would do Shorthorn instead of making dramatic changes like this :)

John Koetsier thinks I am "improbably named".  So be it.

MS did just announce new "open" XML feeds for Microsoft Office.  I'll wait for the experts to opine on how "open" they really are, but presumably this is a step in a good direction.  For many of us it won't particularly affect our day-to-day work; I've been using Office XP for four years now, and I haven't seen a reason to upgrade, dinosaurs notwithstanding.  Plus, did we really need to change the file formats again?  [ via Robert Scoble ]

[ Later: Tim Bray weighs in; he notes "the popular wisdom is that it takes Microsoft until Release 3 of anything to get it right; but the early word on the new Office XML format makes Release 2 look pretty good" and "the news coverage says 'late 2006'; good luck to the team in the tough job of getting it shipped."  Late 2006 huh - more announceware like Longhorn.  After it ships let's talk about it. ]

Peter Rojas wonders Microsoft + IPTV = Trouble?  Interesting to see how this plays out.  I think the xBox is in the strategy somewhere...

Yesterday we noted Video4Skype, now today we get Sony's Instant Video Everywhere.  This is happening fastVoIP = Video over IP.

PS/2 to USB converterGizmodo: the PS/2 to USB converter.  $19.  This seems so obviously useful.  And it seems the best way to connect old PC keyboards and mice to a new Mac Mini :)

Check this out: the placebo mini-pattern.  How to keep users happy while your program churns.

John Gruber has posted a fascinating look inside Tiger, the latest Mac OS X release.  Among other more-useful nuggets: The "waiting for login" window apparently uses the placebo mini-pattern (a "fake" progress bar).

Apple store Mission ViejoHave you been in an Apple store?  They are awesome.  I went to the store in Mission Viejo yesterday; walked out with a new Airport Extreme WiFi hub and SpongeBob SquarePants Teaches Typing.  Great shopping experience, including knowledgable salespeople (Me: "does the Mac Mini support the 30" display?"  Him: "no, the highest supported resolution is 1920x1200, like on the 23" display."  Okay, got it.  Try that at Fry's!).  Imagine you wanted to buy a computer, but you didn't know anything, this would be the place to go.

Einstein the birdCheck out Einstein, the bird.  Wow.  I'm speechless, but she isn't.  [ via Woundwort ]




Archive: May 20, 2004

RSS cookbook simplified

Thursday,  05/20/04  10:36 PM

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


Thursday,  05/20/04  10:55 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Gates gets blogs and RSS, too.

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

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


Archive: June 3, 2003

Tuesday,  06/03/03  10:25 PM

Bigwig considers whether Scott Peterson should be tried for the murder of his unborn child.  This gets back to the ongoing debate about when a fetus becomes a person.  At conception?  At birth?  Or somewhere in between...SPOT Watch

Want to surf the web from your wrist?  Check out SPOT, Microsoft's new technology to enable small personal and household electronics to receive and display information from the Internet.  Now you can check my blog anywhere you happen to be :)

Toshiba announced a Media Center laptop, wow.  This means you can watch TV, and even "Tivo" TV, from your laptop...  Meanwhile Sony has announced a whole bunch of new desktops with multimedia capabilities.  Looks like Dell and HP don't have the market to themselves, yet.

Are you in the matrix?  Nick Bostrom proves that it is far more likely you are a simulation than that you are real.  Fascinating!  "Given that humans don't go extinct in geologically short time, eventually computer capability will allow complete simulation of the human cortex.  Consequently, there must be far more simulations running in future millennia than seconds since you were born.  Thus its astronomically more likely you are a simulation than real..."  [ via Slashdot ]

Joel Spolsky: Fixing Venture Capital.  "There are certain fundamental assumptions about doing business in the VC world that make venture capital a bad fit with entrepreneurship."  This is a great overview of what's wrong in the VC world, but the title is a little misleading, because Joel doesn't really suggest any changes.  Except maybe a generic "pick better companies to invest in".

I actually think VC strategies are 100% Darwinian.  There will be mutations in the strategies, and the successful mutations will reproduce, and eventually take over.  If the current strategy is to try to hit home runs once every ten swings, but trying to hit singles every time works better, the industry will evolve in that direction.  The key issue is that VC strategies are measured by VC success, not entrepreneur success. (Joel makes this point, too.)  Viewed in this way, maybe VC does not need fixing.  It is what it is.

Joel links an SFGate story about WebVan, which brings back a whole host of memories for me.  I lived in Los Altos, California at the time, and we loved WebVan.  It was one of the greatest consumer services ever.  On the other hand, they lost $830M.  It was one of the crummiest businesses ever.  As WebVan was dying I remember saying "I would pay more to keep them afloat".  I don't know if their model would ever have worked - they seem to have pissed away a lot of the $830M on perks, rather than burning it in operations - but there sure was a kernel of goodness to what they were doing.  They just wanted to get too big, too fast, urged on by Benchmark and their other VCs.  And this is Joel's point.

Andrew Anker considers contextual advertising: "Consumers have one of two modes when they visit websites: browse or search...  contextual advertising is extremely effective when a user is in search mode but a needless distraction in browse mode."  I think he nails it.  How would you feel if I hosted ads on this blog, eh?

I just got a tee shirt that says "I'm blogging this".  Shirley said, "I'm going to put that on your tombstone".  Now that would be cool.


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
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
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
progress ratches
2020 explained