Archive: July 7, 2024

Cycling through time

Sunday,  07/07/24  09:43 AM

NY 240527


Archive: July 12, 2023


Archive: July 12, 2022


Archive: July 12, 2021


Archive: July 7, 2020

missing Le Tour

Tuesday,  07/07/20  08:22 AM

This morning it struck me suddenly, with great sadness, that This Is July and I Miss Le Tour.  Every day in July since ... well ... maybe 2000 or so, I've gotten up early and watched it.  Not only the great racing but the views of France, the voice of Phil Liggitt (sadly, Paul Sherwen is no longer with us), the whole experience of it.  Weirdly, of the many changes in my life due to the pandemic, this might be the most emotional.

Vive Le Tour



Tuesday,  07/07/20  11:45 PM

Stillwater ... the best band that never was.

Imagine my delight to find their full album!  Indeed we have Fever Dog, Love Thing, Chance Upon You, my favorite Love Comes and Goes, Hour of Need, and of course, You Had to be There.  Written by Nancy Wilson and Peter Frampton, and with Mike McCready of Pearl Jam on guitar (incendiary!) they were awesome.  In fact you might even say they were Almost Famous...


Tuesday,  07/07/20  11:58 PM

Rocking in the USA...

Second wave?  Not even close.  And you might ask yourself, how did I get here?  We've stopped making sense.  There are many people who want a disaster and are rooting for it.  Including especially the mass media. 

I've noticed my friends fall into two groups: those who watch CNN and MSNBC and who think things are bad and getting worse, and those who get their news from the internet and who think CNN and MSNBC are the real problem.

Deja Vu all over again?  Daniel Patrick Moynihan to Richard Nixon: "To a degree that no one could have anticipated even three or four years ago, the educated elite of the American middle class have come to detest their society, and their detestation is rapidly diffusing to youth in general.

Gerard Vanderleun: Heaven's Mailroom.  "Thank you, Hashem, for giving me the ability to share this message and for giving me so many wonderful people with whom to share it.

The safest source of energy will surprise you.  Well, it didn't surprise me, but I love having the data. 

Nerding out: Implementing Ctrl+F.  This is interesting but misses another approach - creating an index tree.  For one search it might not be the best, but for many many searches it is far more efficient. 

xkcd: Modified Bayes Theorem.  P(C) is correlated to knowing you need P(C). 

Kind of apropos: ESR on Defect Attractors.  "A 'defect attractor' of a program, language, API, or any other kind of software construct is a feature which, while possibly not bad in itself, spawns defects in the design or code near it.

And I found this recursively cool: Microsoft scrambles to stop AI reporter from reporting on itself.  I wonder if the AI reporter will find this story? 

Literally awesome: the SpaceX Crew Dragon docked at the International Space Station.  It only looks like a movie.  This picture taken by an astronaut on a space walk. 

c|net: SpaceX could send NASA to Jupiter's potentially habitable moon Europa.  Excellent, where do I buy a ticket?



Archive: July 12, 2019


Archive: July 12, 2018


Archive: July 12, 2017


Archive: July 12, 2016


Archive: July 12, 2015

Sunday night scan

Sunday,  07/12/15  10:56 PM

It's Sunday night, I have a big week ahead.  So naturally I'm going to get a good night's sleep...  Bssst!  I'm going to blog.

From Fortune's CEO Daily: "Which number is larger: $350 billion?  Or $3 trillion?  The first is Greece's total debt.  The second is wealth that has evaporated from the Chinese stock market in the last month.  The difference suggests we are paying too much attention to the wrong thing.

The Shanghai and Shenzen exchanges continued their rout Tuesday, despite heroic efforts to stop them.  IPOs have been shut down, short-selling has been banned, more than 700 shares - about a quarter of the market - have been suspended from trading, and, oh yes, a government-backed fund is buying billions of dollars worth of stock.


I will say, at least China are reaping what they've sown.  Greece seem being spared the consequences of their actions, with dire result.  VDH comments America, like Greece, may end with a lawless whimper.  "All the German euros in the world will not save Greece if Greeks continue to dodge taxes, featherbed government, and see corruption as a business model."  

Yosemite rock fall changes face of world-class climb.  "A massive sheet of rock fell from the vertical face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, making one of the most popular routes attempted by climbers in North America even more challenging, park officials said Tuesday."  Whoa. 

Meet the first commercial space crew in NASA's history.  Wow, these four astronauts will be the first to fly to space in the SpaceX Dragon.  Awesome! 

It cannot be too soon; do you realize it has now been 43 years since humans walked on the moon?  Mars or bust!

Perhaps they can use this: NASA's Mars Trek is Google Earth for the red planet.  Excellent.  Just wish the realtime traffic feature was working :)  

Have you been tracking the soap opera at Reddit?  It's pretty interesting, and we public probably only know 1/10th of the truth.  Anyway Steve Huffman, the original founder, is back on the helm.  Judging from this public Q&A, things are going to get better.  At least he has a sense of why people use Reddit, and a desire to help them do it.  And he knew enough about their system to know this was the right way to reach them... 

Sigh; the sexual train wreck behind 'yes means yes'.  Glenn Reynolds comments "I'm glad I went to college when I did, we had a lot more fun".  No kidding.  This pendulum must have swung about as far over as it can go, right? 

Hehe: welcome to the paperless societyGreek newspapers are running out of newsprint, and Venezuela are running out of toilet paper.  And they've both run out of other people's money. 

The Bitcoin blockchain, explained, from the IEEE.  A pretty nice video, not entirely right but not wrong either.  See my Bitcoin 101 and Bitcoin 102 posts for more :) 

The other day I was having coffee with a friend at Coffee Bean, our local caffeinery, and they had a Bluelist QR Code next to the register.  I asked the Barrista about it, and she had no idea what it was or why it was there.  Staff training, anyone? 

So okay, I launch Red Laser and scan the QR code, and ... the value is 4071.  That's it.  No URL!  Boy, this is going to be the most successful in-store program ever!

Most people think they check their smartphones less than others.  Yes, and most people think they're smarter and better looking than average, too :) 

Totally agree:  Pompous Apple is Pompous, regarding their new "if it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone", ads.  Steve Jobs would never have run these. 

Fast Company: Why the Apple Watch is flopping.  "How did this happen?  The answer may sound like heresy to those who canonize - or even merely admire - Apple's designers.  What if the Apple Watch, for all its milled and woven metals, all its appearances on the catwalk, isn't actually all that well-designed?  So far, the Apple Watch doesn't seem very useful, and it hasn't proven that fashionable."  I don't think it is flopping in the sense of not selling well, but I do think it hasn't changed the world.  Few of my friends wear them, and tellingly, few seem to know why they'd want one. 

Parenthetically, I've been wearing my 40-year-old pre-TAG-Heuer a lot more often.  Sort of an anti-Apple Watch statement, I guess.  And I'm still proud of my Pebble Steel...

Okay, it's time.  Good night!



Archive: July 12, 2014

Le Tour 2014, stage 8: Kadri survives from break, Contador and Nibali assert themselves

Saturday,  07/12/14  12:00 PM

Today's stage 8 of Le Tour was predictably boring for the first three hours (ho hum, a five man break pulls 10 minutes on a disinterested and resting peleton in quiet sunshine), and then predictably exciting for the last one (a breakaway survivor wins and a GC battle errupts on the final climb in pouring rain).  And so it goes.  Congratulations to Blel Kadri (call him "Joe" :) who attacked his breakaway companions as the climbs started near the end and won convincingly, taking the lead in the climbers' polka dot jersey competition as well.

Meanwhile back in the peleton Alberto Contador's Saxo teammates cranked up the pressure and decanted the field on the first climb, leaving a select group of about 20 riders to content the final short (1 miles) but steep (10%+) climb to the finish.  At that point Contador attacked, but he couldn't shake yellow-jersey-wearer Vincenzo Nibali, who was content to follow and not lose any time.  Richie Porte was right there too, good for him as he assumes leadershop of the Sky team from defending champion Chris Froome who crashed out in stage 5.  Meanwhile the other contenders all fell back a bit, as the Tour saw a main selection that establishes the leaderboard going into the second week.  Nibali's teammate Jakob Fulsang lost time but is still in second (1:44), Porte moved up to to third (1:58), Michal Kwiatkowski lost time but is now fourth (2:26), Alejandro Valverde also lost time but also moved up, to fifth (2:27), and Contador sits sixth (2:34).  Other would-be contenders include Rui Costa (8th, 2:52), Bauke Mollema (9th, 3:02), Tejay Van Garderen (12th, 3:34), and Andrew Talansky (16th, 4:42), who was the victim of a poorly timed crash just before the final climb.

Tomorrow will be more of the same: not high mountains, exactly, but six categorized climbs.  They don't come at the end, so perhaps we will see another breakaway and another victorious survivor.  Of note, Peter Sagan finally lost time today (18:17), after being up among the leaders in every stage so far, so he might be allowed to escape for a win.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]



time passing

Saturday,  07/12/14  12:55 PM

I'm in a reflective mood today, thinking about this year (already halfway!) and last summer (already a year ago!).  So much has happened in that time that I can't say "wow, how time flies", and yet it seems weird that so much time has passed.  Lots of memories.  You just do the best you can with each day, and see what happens...  I guess creating memories is the best use of time :)  Onward!

And so the world cup winds down; today we have the third place match, between Brazil, looking for some redemption after getting blown out by Germany, and the Netherlands, looking for a goal (pun intended, they've now gone two straight games without scoring one).  I've been rooting for this matchup - of course, wish it was the final - and am hoping for a wide open game; each time has some amazing scorers if they're free to fly.  Most pundits are picking Brazil, but I say Go Oranje

I've temporarily (?) switched back to Firefox as my everyday browser.  What happened was; I logged into a server, launched its browser, which happened to be Firefox, and was surprised at how snappy and cool it looked.  This is just an experiment, but so far, so good.  I've been using Chrome for so long now... the main advantage of Firefox is that it doesn't bring the previously opened window forward before launching a new window, like Chrome does.  Pretty nitty.  Stay tuned! 

Speaking of page loading speed; I hate dislike it a lot when you load a page, but the main content loads separately.  You end up waiting forever while images dance all over the place before you can read the content.  Whatever happened to basic HTML, it wasn't so bad, was it?  (This is particularly bad on mobile devices) 

Why it's a good thing that J.R.R.Tolkein didn't write in the era of political correctness.  Hilarous but quite true.  You could actually substitute anyone's name for Tolkein's.  I've decided that "political correctness" is uniformly bad.  It merely means the majority imposing their views on everyone else. 

An interesting corrective tactic: Following Netflix, YouTube shames ISPs delivering slow video.  This could be a great way to achieve net neutrality without regulation. 

It's a new world: Plug your phone into this solar-powered donkey.  Excellent. 

I'm eagerly awaiting my Amazon Fire phone (of course!), both to see what Firefly is all about (visual search!), as well as to finally have an Android phone.  Don't know yet whether it will be my daily driver, stay tuned.  But I agree with this: Amazon's Fire phone is an experiment to mitigate mobile's threat.  You've got to love that they're trying it! 

Meanwhile: Google sets aside $500M to expand Shopping Express nationwide.  Wow.  Your phone is about to be a battleground for the retail giants.  (And eyesFinder wants to be an arms vendor in the war :) 

Let's wrap up with Canada's most beautiful spots.  Wow.



Archive: July 12, 2013


Archive: July 12, 2012


Archive: July 12, 2011

TDF stage 10 / sprint - Griepel takes one from Cavendish

Tuesday,  07/12/11  07:23 PM

After a rest day, another flat day in the Tour, another bunch sprint, and another win for Mark Cavendish Andre Greipel wins!  Yay for him, and yay for the Tour.  There was another crash involving big names - Fabian Cancellara, Levi Leipheimer, Robert Gesink, and Christian Van de Velde - but fortunately they were all able to continue and didn't lose time.  It was most excellent at the end to see Philippe Gilbert attack out on a break with Thomas Voeckler - how often do you see the yellow and green jerseys out on a break? - but they were inevitably sucked back into the peloton.  A little more of an incline and perhaps a little better timing and Gilbert would have had a chance.

Tomorrow is another flag day which will probably feature another bunch sprint; look for Cavendish to reassert himself :)

[ Tour de France 2011: all postsindex ]


Tuesday,  07/12/11  07:41 PM

Just got back from a hard ride, so it must be time ... filter pass!

See that bike over there to the right?  Guess what that is?  Yes you are right, that is my next bike.  Stay tuned :)

Once again, Paul Ryan takes on Obama

Amazon's CTO Werner Vogels on the Facebook / MySQL non-controversy: "scaling data systems in real life has humbled me. I would not dare criticize an architecture that the holds social graphs of 750M and works."  Exactly. 

Redesigning TechCrunch.  Blech.  Naval gazing raised to the third power.  The logo is fine, but making such a big deal out of it isn't... 

Way cool: how Leica lenses are made.  Amazingly it is still a pretty manual process. 

The progress made by 3D printing technology is amazing; here we have 3D-printed tools!  It is amazing that the parts can be interleaved in three dimensions.  And colored too! 

An open letter: save the James Webb space telescope!  Join Votizen and sign the petition today.  (I like Votizen a lot, what a cool concept...)  [ via LGF

A map of America as seen by New Yorker.  Some of this rings so true...  I love it :) 

So I was wondering about whether I should use Google+?  Eric Raymond is planning to use it for microblogging.  Well that's all very exciting, we'll see whether it sticks.  Mostly when people tried to use Twitter for that, they tried it but eventually went back. 

Well I had to link this: a Dutch powerplant completely clad in Delft Blau tiles.  Awesome!



Archive: July 12, 2010

Monday,  07/12/10  11:30 PM

As noted,yesterday was *not* a good day...  My weekend started out great, with a nice road trip to Bear Valley, a successful Death Ride, and a nice road trip home, but then ended crummy, with Lance crashing and cracking, then Holland loses, and then I spent the afternoon working on expense reports.  Blech.  I ended up maximally frustrated and cranky.  And today began another long work week as I have multiple meetings in Vista... (As noted previously, I seem get more work done at home than at work :/ )  Well, so be it; when the going gets tough, the tough get blogging!

BTW, yeah, today is a rest day in the Tour de France, no updates...  Cadel Evans is enjoying his, pretty in yellow, while Lance is not enjoying his, with his bid to win ended...  Stay tuned as tomorrow is another *real* mountain stage...

James Surowiecki pounds the nail through the wood on this one: Greater Fools.  "Financial illiteracy isn’t new, but the consequences have become more severe, because people now have to take so much responsibility for their financial lives.  The difference between knowing a little about your finances and knowing nothing can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.  And, as the past ten years have shown us, the cost to society can be far greater than that.

I love this: Jeff Bezos 2010 commencement speech at Princeton: "We are what we choose".  Very thought provoking.  And more than a little scary... 

Powerline: The World is Full of Bad Jokes, "But the worst joke of all is the United Nations."  Sadly it isn't even funny... 

Scott "Dilbert" Adams commenting on the iPad: The Amazingness of Instant.  I'm not sure I think the iPad is so amazing, but I am sure his point is well taken: "instant" is a compelling value that makes things qualitatively different. 

So here's something interesting: Google have announced App Inventor, a tool to enable "anyone" to create Android Apps.  Interesting!  John Gruber wonders "so has Google beaten Apple in the race for a Hypercard for mobile", while Jason Kincaid takes App Inventor for a spin ("while I’m very excited about it, this is not going to be a walk in the park for 'ordinary people'. "). 

Excellent: Full immersion in the Cyberworld is coming; "People will separate themselves from the physical world and adopt lives of virtualization."  I absolutely believe this.  In fact, it may have already happened :)  BTW am reading William Gibson's All Tomorrow's Parties, in which this is foretold... 

This is truly horrible: Pathology "code injection".  Don't say I didn't warn you :)



Archive: July 12, 2009

Death Rider

Sunday,  07/12/09  02:22 AM

Whew.  Yesterday I rode the Death Ride up in Markleeville, South of Lake Tahoe.  It was impossible.  It didn’t snow so I can’t say it was worse than the Eastern Sierra Double, and I didn’t get lost in the dark and add 40 miles, so I can’t say it was worse than the Heartbreak Double, but it was brutal.  Hotter and much windier than last year, and had a rainstorm on the final climb like last year (although it did not hail).  I was toast and barely finished.  However I did and I’m proud of myself; I think about 3,000 riders started, and about 1,000 finished all five passes :)

129 miles, 5 passes, 15,000' of climbing


heat and wind on the 8%+ climb up to Monitor Pass


a rainstorm on the 12 mile climb up to Carson Pass


one Death Rider who was pretty happy to finish and sign the ride poster

how many passes did I climb today?

Well now it's over and I can rest and recuperate and brag about it.  The best part :)


the church of OVRO

Sunday,  07/12/09  02:51 PM

Way back in the dawn of time when I was an undergraduate at Caltech, I worked in the radio astronomy department on a project called VLBI, very long baseline interferometery.  Essentially this project took signals from radio telescopes all over the Earth and combined them, using phase differences between the arrival of radio waves from a given source to determine the physical configuration of the source.  One of the key sites used in this project was OVRO, the Owens Valley Radio Observatory, which is located just North of Big Pine, California.

You can see the huge OVRO radio dishes when you're driving on highway 395, in the distances against the hills to the East, and tens or probably hundreds of times I've thought to myself "I should go check them out", as I'm driving to go skiing in Mammoth, or visit Lake Tahoe, or go cycling in Markleeville.  And so it was that this morning I stopped, and checked it out.


First, the installation practices security by obscurity; you have to travel through some little backroads to get there, but there are no fences or gates, just one warning sign. 

Second, the dishes are HUGE.  You can't imagine how big until you're next to them.

Third, it was cool to note that all the dishes are inline, mounted on giant railroad tracks, so that the distance between them can be minutely controlled to capture different wavelengths as if they were part of one telescope.

And finally, there is an amazing majesty to these huge telescopes, calmly viewing the universe as it existed billions of years ago. 

It literally brought tears to my eyes, standing there all alone.  Kind of a religious experience on a Sunday morning.  In the church of OVRO.


the Land of the Ancients

Sunday,  07/12/09  04:09 PM

Completing my rather eventful weekend, after a visit to the church of OVRO, I drove into the White Mountains to view the Bristlecone Pine Forest, which contains the oldest living things on Earth.

Many of these trees are 3,000 years old, and one, named Methusulah, is 4,700 years old.  These trees grow very slowly in dry chalky soil above 10,000'.

They are thick and gnarled and amazing and beautiful.  I could easily imagine them slowly considering me, like the Ents in Lord of the Rings, carrying on a conversation with each other with a time constant too slow for me to detect.

As you view this picture, imaging being alone in the mountains with the wind whistling through the trees to complete the scene, with an amazing view across the Owens Valley into the Eastern Sierras.  It is a special place.

There is a nice "Discovery Trail" you can hike that takes you into the groves so you can meet your elders.  Highly recommended...


TDF stage 8 / climb - Sanchez survives to win, Nocentini holds yellow

Sunday,  07/12/09  06:35 PM

Sorry I know I'm late with this post, I was otherwise occupied yesterday :)  Yesterday's TDF stage from Andorra to Saint Girons featured some high mountains, but they were far enough from the finish that most observers expected a break to succeed rather than GC action.  And so it was that Luis Leon Sanchez won out of a four-man break that led the peloton across the hills all day.

There was some infighting among the contenders, with Cadel Evans taking off early and immediately being reeled in, but the mountain action was mostly quiet.  Probably the best move was Thor Hushovd's, shown at right, who took off in an early break to grab enough sprint points to take the green jersey away from Mark Cavendish.  He should be able to hold it through the mountains until Tuesday.

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


Sunday,  07/12/09  08:22 PM

Getting caught up after a busy long weekend that included the Death Ride and visits to the church of OVRO and the Land of the Ancients...

JibJab: He's come to save the day.  They have the technology on these videos down, don't they? 

I'm in between watching yesterday's and today's stages of the Tour de France; check out Lance Armstrong's new bike... wow, that's beautiful. 

Hey, guess what?  Yeah, it's the all-star break.  Almost time for me to start paying attention to baseball.  What's that?  The Dodgers have the best record in baseball?  Wow, who knew?  How cool is that... 

Elizabeth Kolbert asks Why are we so fat?  A book review of The Evolution of Obesity, in which the evolution is discussed as much as the book.  My answer to the question is: Unnatural Selection, of course... 

Related: as nation gains, size 14 becomes size 10.  Now that's what I call moving the goal posts!  (Unfortunately the same thing is happening with other metrics which are more important, like college entrance exam test scores...)

And the Economist weighs in with Battle of the bulge.

This makes me happy: Joe Satriani, live, Surfing with the Alien.  [ Thank you LGF! ]  

Did you know?  Swearing makes you feel less pain.  I'm tempted to test this! 

Last week in a business setting I countered a PDA, that is, a Poor Duplicate Acronym, in which you repurpose an acronym already in use with a less obvious meaning... 

Dave Winer: Marc Cantor leaves California.  Good luck, Marc!  (Love that old MacroMind logo :) 

So it turns out honest people are not tempted into dishonesty.  I just have to wonder, how do we know?  Maybe they are tempted, but they're lying about it :)  Seriously I don't think honesty is so binary; there is a spectrum where some people are more dishonest than others, but everyone would be willing to lie about something... 

ZooBorn of the day: a baby penguin.  What a cute little guy... 


TDF stage 9 / climb -Fedrigo takes the break, Tourmelet neutralized

Sunday,  07/12/09  11:22 PM

How to you turn a Pyranean stage with two huge climbs into a boring race?  Just add 70km of downhill/flat to the finish, as the Tour organizers did on today's stage from Saint-Gaudens to Tarbes.  The Col d'Aspin and Col du Tourmelet have both seen some great battles in tours past, but today the peloton rode as if out for a Sunday ride, letting a break succeed and otherwise doing very little.  There were some teams that took an interest in closing down the break at the end, but they left it too late and Pierrick Fedrigo was able to stay out and win.

Tomorrow is a rest day (for me from this weekend, as well as for the peloton for the first week), and then next week we have a few flat sprint stages before hitting the alps.  Let's hope some racing takes place in those mountains!

[ Tour de France 2009: all postsindex ]


Archive: July 10, 2008

Thursday,  07/10/08  11:17 PM

Isn't Vin Scully just the best?  Watched a Dodger game tonight - slowly getting back into being a baseball fan :) - and man, it was great.  Isn't is amazing how much a good commentator adds to a sport, Chick Hearn for basketball and Phil Liggett for cycling come to mind... 

Congratulations to Riccardo Riccol, who won today's Tour de France stage; the first real climb.  It was a great uphill sprint to edge Alejandro Valverde and Cadel Evans.  Kim Kirchen and Denis Menchov were also in the hunt; basically the who's who of this year's tour. 

Tomorrow is iPhone 3G day, and today the Apple iPhone App store opened.  Jason Kottke notes the most popular so far: Twitterific (insider echo chamber), Remote (use your iPhone as a remote control for your Mac or AppleTV), and various eBooks. 

Wow, now we have 1.5TB disk drives.  Just a year ago 500GB was "big".  Does that mean we'll have 5TB drives in another year?  Probably! 

Here's a list of 20 things gadget zone thinks should be in Windows 7.  So they're completely wrong; Windows 7 doesn't need any new features, it needs to be fast.  If it was just faster than Windows XP, it would be a huge success.  Maybe they could fix paging, or improve filesystem access, or networking.  Anyway that's what I think; the reason Vista is a flop is because it is so slow, not because of features it has or doesn't have.



Archive: July 12, 2007


Archive: July 12, 2006


Archive: July 4, 2005

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam!

Monday,  07/04/05  07:57 PM

Happy Birthday, Uncle Sam.  You're the best.

I spent the weekend sailing, hanging out with my kids and good friends, and eating.  And also thinking about all the men and women - my daughter Nicole among them - who make my life possible, protecting our freedom and way of life.  Thank you all.

It turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so; a recent Gallup Poll revealed that "The American public has more confidence in the military than in any other institution."  Other tidbits from the poll, "big business and Congress tied for the second- and third-lowest rankings" - not surprising in view of either's lack of integrity, and "Gallup noted that public trust in television news and newspapers reached an all-time low this year".  See, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but...

By the way, there has been a flurry of discussion recently about whether it should be illegal or even unconstitutional to burn a U.S. flag.  So I think it is a horrible thing to do, but it should not be illegal, and I can't even imagine under what pretense it could ever be unconstitutional.  People should be entitled to express their opinion, however much we disagree with it.  Mark Frauenfelder posted an interesting conundrum for those who would make burning a U.S. flag illegal.  At what point is a flag a U.S. flag (does close count)?

Here's a nice post for the Fourth: The Endgame.  [ via Tim Oren ]

Finally, do you want to thank the troops?  Click here.  It only takes a minute to send a short message to someone serving overseas, and imagine how much they'd appreciate it.  [ via Smash ]


(new yorker, 07/04/05)

Monday,  07/04/05  08:16 PM

So you know how much I like New Yorker covers, but get a load of this:

The name of this piece is "Party of One".  Ha ha.  In case you can't see, there are little foreign flags next to each empty place setting; a French flag, a German flag, etc.  Empty places, get it?  So clever.  (I'm glad they didn't put in a Dutch flag, although I think they tried; they have a flag with white, blue, and red horizontal stripes but they're in the wrong order.)  Of course they left out the British and Australian place settings - those places are occupied, of course, not to mention the Iraqi or Israeli place settings!  And just maybe the French people would be more interested in attending than their leaders; certainly that is one interpretation one could place on the recent French vote to reject the E.U. Constitution.

On another level, I find this quite revealing.  I can only imagine how clever the illustrator thinks him or herself, and how pleased the editors were to run this.  This naked vitriol from the left is so self-defeating.  Isn't it more fun to win?  Unless you're already in this club, why would you join?


Monday,  07/04/05  08:27 PM

Playing a bit of catch up, I have a weeks' worth of posts to filter :)  May you live in interesting times, indeed...

So, the Tour de Lance France is underway!  And in the very first stage Lance managed to put serious time on some of his biggest rivals, including Jan Ullrich.  Serving notice that he is ready, once again, to win.  I love it.  I've been watching on OLN, and it is pretty darn cool.  I just wish my Tivo supported this channel so I wouldn't have to watch all those commercials... 

Speaking of Lance, have you Joined Team Lance?  In addition to being a cancer survivor and an amazing athlete, Lance has raised tons of money for cancer research and to help cancer survivors.  If you join his team you'll be making a donation to one of the best causes around.  And if you donate at least $50 you'll even get a spiffy tee-shirt.  I'm in!

The G8 are meeting next week in Gleneagles Scotland.  Among the items on the agenda is global warming; The Scientist reports Scientists demand action on climate.  "Scientific academies from the world's leading nations have issued an unprecedented joint statement urging the leaders of their countries to commit to taking prompt action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.  The statement from Britain's Royal Society and the science academies of France, Russia, Germany, United States, Japan, Italy, and Canada was released ahead of a G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, at which climate change is expected to be a major focus.  The academies of Brazil, China, and India, not members of G8, are also signatories."  Whew.  Is it just me, or is it getting hot in here? 

The Business Online observes: spot the real sharks in the climate talks.  As in, due to warmer water, Scotland now has sharks!  Coupled with declining oil supplies and rising prices, there is now real pressure for alternate entropy sources.  Nuclear option, anyone?

Jeff Atwood: Why anyone can succeed.  Although the premise is that success has little to do with talent, my conclusion is nearly the opposite, that success follows from talent regardless of circumstances.  Not everyone can be a programmer; I've encountered any number of counter examples. 

Cult of Mac notes Griffen's iFill.  (motto: "Oww.  iFill good".)  "iFill streams mp3 files from thousands of free radio stations directly to your iPod.  You can choose several stations at once and select from many different genres.  And since iFill goes directly to your iPod, it won't clutter up your hard drive with extra files."  That sounds awesome.  Much better than random podcasts. 

It is now old news, but iTunes 4.9 is out, with - ta da! - podcasting support.  (Billed as "the next generation of radio".)  So be it.  This will expose about 10X more people to podcasts than ever before; let's see what sticks to the wall...

Russell Beattie says Wow!

Amazing: Brain Scans Can Predict Alzheimer's Disease Onset 9 Years In Advance.  The psychological implications are as interesting as the physiological ones, if you knew you were getting Alzheimer's in 5 years, what would you do? 

Meanwhile, Brain Exercise Is Key to Healthy Mind.  So keeping read my blog :)

This is awesome: The Onion in 2056.  E.g. "Million robot march attended by exactly 1,000,000 robots."  Or maybe you prefer "Lunar Olympic officials continue search for missing pole vaulter."  Great stuff, please check it out.  I've often thought the Onion must be a great place to work. 

Bram Cohen, inventor of Bittorrent, considers Avalanche, Microsoft's supposed answer to peer-to-peer transfers.  "I'd like to clarify that Avalanche is vaporware...  As you've probably figured out by now, I think that paper is complete garbage."  Okay. 


Archive: July 12, 2004


Archive: July 11, 2003

Revisiting the Bridge of the Programmers

Friday,  07/11/03  09:11 AM

Remember the bridge of the four programmers?  An interesting technical interview problem, with an unexpected answer.  It turns out there is more complexity in this problem than I had thought.  Yay!

Here's the problem again, to refresh your memory...

Four programmers must cross a rickety bridge at night. The bridge can only hold two of them at a time, and they have one flashlight between them. The four programmers cross at different speeds, Alex only requires one minute, Sam requires two, Pat requires four, and Francis requires eight. What is the shortest time in which they can all cross?

I received an interesting email from Ben Webman (now that is a great name for a blogger, eh?):

"If the bridge is very short and we have a good flashlight -- nobody has to carry the flashlight back over!  So -- there is a "different" and faster way -- (maybe not better)."

I like it!  There is a new factor to consider, the "carry" of the flashlight beam.

In the original solution, there was an assumption that the beam did not carry at all, and hence each programmer had to go all the way to the other side with the flashlight.  In Ben's version, the flashlight's beam carries all the way, and there's no need to go back with it.  Intermediate versions are possible, for additional complexity.

For example, let's assume the flashlight beam carries halfway.  Now what's the best solution?

Let's first see what this does to our original solution.  Here it is (changes in red):

Alex + Sam -> far side (2 minutes); Alex only goes halfway
Alex -> near side (½ minute, total = 3 minutes)
Francis + Pat -> far side (8 minutes, total = 10½ minutes)
Sam -> middle of bridge (1 minute, total = 11½ minutes, this is the key!)
Sam + Alex -> far side (1 minute, total = 12½ minutes)

So the total time is reduced from 15 minutes to 12½ minutes.  That's pretty good.  However, I'm not sure this is really optimal.  I'm troubled by the fact that the Francis + Pat trip is not shortened at all by consideration of the beam carry, because this is the longest single component of the whole operation.  Perhaps there is a way to optimize further?  Anyone have any good ideas?

[ Later: the bridge has been revisited again...  and again... ]


Friday,  07/11/03  09:43 AM

Think there isn't a downside to affirmative action?  Aside from the impact on the "majority" students who are discriminated against, consider the affect on the "minority" students who are "helped"...  Stanford Law Professor Marcus Cole wrote a letter to Eugene Volokh about his experience:

"...there is nothing that any American of African descent can do that can separate himself or herself from the unspoken accusation that he or she is the beneficiary of more than they deserve.  I am willing to bet that I am the only member of this list who feels compelled to put his standardized test scores and National Merit award on his CV."

Marcus is black, and he was legitimately qualified, but he feels his qualifications come under question because of affirmative action.  Not good!

RFID is taking over the world.  CNN reports the tiny transmitters will someday replace UPC bar codes.  They are certainly getting traction for business applications.  Someday every product you buy will have one, and you will be watched...  as you walk through a mall all your clothing choices, your personal electronics, everything, will be recorded.

Ottmar Liebert likes his Line 6 amp.  The CEO of Line 6 is Mike Muench, my next-door neighbor.  What a small world!

The RIAA is such a target, and this hits dead center: Sue all the world.  A terrific animated skewer from Bob Cesca and Camp Chaos.  I wonder if the RIAA will ever get tired of being "wrong" and fix themselves?  Nah.

The market for illicit music CDs is now $4.6B annually, according to the BBC.  Seems like these are the real pirates, not consumers using file sharing networks.

Yippee - SETI has received a five-year NASA grant.  I can't think of a better use of my tax dollars, actually.

You know the phrase "older than dirt"?  (I like that phrase.)  Well here's some really old dirt: NASA announced the Hubble Space Telescope has found a planet 12.7B years old.  That's about three times older than Earth...

Want to know if there's WiFi around?  Then you need this device from Kensington.  Isn't is amazing how WiFi has just absolutely become ubiquitous, in just a couple of years?

Anyone try MyIE2?  Apparently this is a new web browser which uses the IE engine, but provides a better GUI, including pop-up blocking and tabbed windows.  I'll have to check it out...  [ via Robert McLaws ]

Another thing to try: Oddpost.  This combination email client / RSS aggregator requires no download, it runs right in your web browser.  Very cool.  Here's an interesting interview with Ethan Diamond, Oddpost's creator, about how the thing works...