Critical Section

Archive: October 10, 2015


Archive: October 9, 2014

D Day Par-tay

Thursday,  10/09/14  10:53 PM

Rats!  Looks like I might have to get a new car :)

Tonight Tesla announced their Model S/D, a dual-drive monster which accelerates from 0-60 in 3.2s and actually gets better range than the rear-drive models, along with a new package of safety features which will be incorporated into all Model S cars from this point forward.  So be it.

I was invited to the launch event, held at Hawthorne Airport adjacent to the Tesla Design Center (and not coincidentally, the SpaceX construction hangers!)  It was pretty cool, somewhat like attending a movie premier.  I was struck by the youth, good looks, style, and energy of the attendees.  As Chief Designer Franz Von Holzhausen said when introducing Tesla CEO Elon Musk, "tonight the coolest place to be in LA is ... Hawthorne Airport".

Big excited crowd - felt like a movie premier

The stage is set ... ladies and gentlemen ... Elon Musk!

The D itself makes an appearance, held by a massive robot

Four different systems - radar, camera, ultrasound, and GPS - combine for autonomous safety

The new dashboard view ... showing the hazards surrounding the car

This is all pretty impressive, and shows Tesla taking cars beyond what gas-powered vehicles are capable of doing.  Onward!


Dickens meets SEO (NY 140929)

Thursday,  10/09/14  11:23 PM



Archive: October 10, 2013


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 :)



* 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: October 6, 2011

riding the 508

Thursday,  10/06/11  11:02 PM

I'm off!  Tomorrow I head out to Valencia for the start of the Furnace Creek 508, a 508-mile race from Santa Clarita up into and through Death Valley, and thence out into the Mojave Desert before finishing in 29 Palms, climbing 35,000' along the way.  The race starts at 7:00AM Saturday morning, and I will finish sometime Sunday night / Monday morning; the deadline is 7:00AM on Monday.  Here's an overview of the course, please click to enbiggen for more detail:

the 508 route; click for detail!

I will have a crew of three in a camper van behind me all the way; you can follow our progress on our Facebook page or via our Twitter feed.  Every competitor has an animal "totem"; mine is Rocky the Flying Squirrel :)  Please stay tuned and wish us luck!


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 10, 2009

week of October 5, redux

Saturday,  10/10/09  11:09 AM

A long and productive week, whew, made it; spent the week in Vista working, with a lot going on, and then visiting a customer in Sacramento.  I am *still* recovering from the 508, too.  And preparing for the Oaks Christian homecoming dance tonight; we are hosting a pre-dance photo shoot, and a post-dance party.

But first, it's all happening:

Dan Miller: The U.S. is losing its sense of humor.  I fear he is right.  And I've always felt a sense of humor was a leading indicator of intelligence...

This isn't funny: Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize.  Of course, the Nobel Peace Prize has been a joke for quite a while (Yasser Arafat?!) but giving it to President Obama before he's done anything definitely takes the cake.

Hard to disagree: This just reinforces my ongoing impression that we've been living out a satire for the past year or two.

Powerline: A mixed blessing for the President.  At most.  I actually think he is becoming a laughingstock, in record time.  His presidency is going to be known for amazing incompetence amid incredible hubris.

Comment of the day: Clearly, reality has jumped the shark.  Yep.

RIP good times: survival of the quickestRemember the infamous RIP Good Times powerpoint from Sequoia?  This is the one year anniversary of the all-CEO meeting at which it was unveiled...  things haven't gone great since, but you could say they over-estimated the economic turmoil.  And yet maybe not; raising capital is borderline impossible, and any business which didn't carefully conserve cash is in big trouble.

Philip Greenspun: Attitudes toward Minimum Wage.  I've found the same thing; no matter how little economic sense it makes, or how cleanly you make that point, plenty of people think Minimum Wage is a good thing, and will not change their minds.  Kind of like the way they think Universal Health care is a right...

WebOS launcherMore on the Palm "open development" announcements from Ars Technica.  Again I'd have to say this will help them vs. Apple, but it won't overcome the relative sizes of the installed base.  On the other hand, more applications will help increase the size of the installed base, so this could snowball.  A good move in any case.

Speaking of Apple not being open: Big bother: DVD Jon has Steve Jobs in a twist.  "If there was any doubt that DVD Jon was Apple chief executive Steve Jobs's No.1 nemesis, it evaporated this week when the renowned Norwegian hacker released his competitor to the iTunes Music Store."  Includes a link a remake of the classic Apple '1984' ad, featuring Steve Jobs as big brother.

Scientists discover massive ring around SaturnCNN: Massive new ring discovered around Saturn.  Whoa.

Google: A Web Browser Is Not A Computer, Not A Search Engine, And Not A Ham Sandwich.  Okay, so you built the best web browser.  Now what?  Most people don't even know there is such a thing :)

Latitude 38 BMW Oracle covereZine Latitude 38 has a cool stylized version of Trizilla on the cover.  Excellent!  [ thanks, Marc ]

BTW as you know I really want to get a ride on BMW Oracle's trimaran, aka 'Trizilla'.  So much so, that I tried emailing my entire LinkedIn network to see if anyone knew a friend of a friend who might be able to help.  So far, nada.  Oh, well...

Time to start thinking about baseball: Let the playoffs begin!  In the NL I pick the Dodgers over the Cardinals (of course), the Phillies over the Rockies, and the Dodgers to go to the Series.  In the AL I've got the Angels over the Red Sox (of course), the Yankees over the Twins, and, um, the Yankees over the Angels (regretfully).  So that makes for a Dodgers / Yankees World Series, and what could be better than that?  Stay tuned!

Photosketch: draw a sketch, label the parts, and poof! a completed picturePhotosketch.  You draw a sketch, you label the parts, and poof! a completed picture, with your sketch used as a template.  How cool is that?

Tesla RoadsterTTAC reviews the Tesla roadster.  Although they were critics [of Tesla the company] for a long time, now that they've had a chance to drive one [Tesla the car], they're fans.  "Time and time again, when I’d mash the Tesla’s accelerator, I couldn’t help but curse. As in, “holy *&@!, this is incredible”."  I want to drive one too :)

Wow, Walt Mossberg says Windows 7 is as good as Mac OS X.  That's pretty amazing...  (I don't think it is true, but it is amazing that Walt says it is.)  This should cause a collective blogospheric tooth gnash!

musical stairsCourtesy of Gerard Vanderleun: Musical Stairs.  How excellent!

ZooBorn: baby pygmy hippoWrapping up, the ZooBorn of the week: a baby pygmy hippo!


inside coffee (Wired 10/09)

Saturday,  10/10/09  11:28 AM

Ah, the smell of coffee in the morning, smells like...  victory!

A theory, for you to disregard completely: the best tasting foods are on the very edge of rotting.  Our taste buds naturally evolved to detect bad food, so they are hyper sensitive to spoilage, and foods which are somewhat spoiled and yet not trigger the strongest taste sensations.  Consider cheese for example, or wine.  So it doesn't surprise me at all that the wonderfully-named putrescine is a key ingredient of coffee.


Archive: October 10, 2008

the King of Nürburgring

Friday,  10/10/08  09:18 PM

It’s the kind of discussion that often crops up when car guys get together – which is the fastest?  If money was no object, what supercar would you go for?

Nissan GT-R vs Porsche 911 TurboIf you're at all interested in such things, you might have been following the saga of the Nissan GT-R, which supposedly lapped the famous Nürburgring track in Germany faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo.  They're both really fast cars, so the argument is a little moot, but still, the Nissan's 7:38 lap time got people's attention, as being two seconds faster than the 911's 7:40.

Well this was all very exciting but there is one lucky guy who decided to see for himself which car was truly the fastest, and he just happened to own, himself, several of the world's fastest supercars, and he asked American Le Mans Series racer Marc Basseng to drive them each around Nürburgring to see which was fastest.  The cars in question, in alphabetical order, were an Enzo Ferrari, Koenigsegg CCX, Maserati MC12, Pagani Zonda F Clubsport, and Porsche Carrera GT (the Turbo's big brother).  These five – worth a cool $4.25 million in total - are each arguably one of the fastest cars ever made.  Which would win?

The CCX, the most expensive car in the group, took the longest to complete a lap – fast in a straight line, but the peaky way in which the power is delivered made it challenging to control.  Next up was the Porsche Carrera GT, with the lap in 7:28.71 - meaning that Basseng matched the time set by factory driver Walter Röhrl in the final stages of the car’s development (...and beat the 911 Turbo's time by 12 seconds, and the Nissan's by 10...)  Third quickest was the Enzo Ferrari, with a very impressive 7:25.21.  It might have been able to go quicker – but the electronic dampers at the rear of the car stopped working, on two separate laps on different days. The time is a tribute to Basseng’s perseverance and skill.  Second quickest was the Pagani, a bespoke creation of a small Italian niche builder, its enormous 7.3 liter Mercedes engine contributed to a remarkable time of 7:24.65.  That’s an average of more than 103mph, on a track which has blind crests and turns, bumps and jumps, and almost no run-off areas.

Maserati MC12And the winner was...  the Maserati MC12, the fastest production car made (at least on a track :), and the King of Nürburgring.  The MC12 posted an incredible 7:24.29, not only fastest of the group but also setting a new production car lap record in the process.  Awesome.

Despite churning out over 600hp, the Maserati's V-12 was actually the least powerful in the bunch (by way of comparison, the CCX has 901hp!), and the MC12 was also the heaviest car!  The aerodynamics, handling, and balance were the difference, as Basseng could stay on the throttle longer and more consistently all the way around the track.



Friday,  10/10/08  09:45 PM

Doing a little Friday night blogging...  while preparing expense reports (!) and watching the Dodgers lose to the Phillies.  (At least it is 8-2 right now, I assume they're toast, tonight, and probably in the series.)  [ Update: they did lose, 8-5.  Diggin' a hole... ]

Economist: The World on the EdgeToday the shit continued to hit the fan, as the markets collectively lost about 20% this week, without finding a bottom.  Wow, who ordered that?  The Economist's latest cover features The world on the Edge.  And nobody saw this coming.  I'm not embarrassed to say, I'm scared.  I think I'm in better shape than many, but when things get really bad, everyone suffers.

Sequoia pig's headYesterday I mentioned Sequoia's all-CEO meeting; today the entire Powerpoint was posted.  You have to check this out, especially slide 3, shown at left.  I'm guessing there have not been too many powerpoints at Sequoia with that graphic before.  Wow.

Mike Arrington thinks we have an Ignoble but much-needed end to Web 2.0.  If only.  I fear the Web 2.0 moniker will stick with us, even if many of the companies it describes will not.

An interesting point at the National Review: "George Bush has probably had the hardest administration since Lincoln."  Yep, with 9/11, a consistently hostile media, and now the crash of 2009, he has definitely had it tough.

Pretty kewl: uncov features a Time Masheen from October 2007.  That was not too long ago, was it?  Who knew?

Is this megamansion green?A $29M 15,000' megamansion; Inhabitat wonders Is It Green?

prefab house from Werner SobekDon't know about green, but this is beautiful; a prefab house from Werner Sobek.  Well okay it is green: "The R128 is a glass-and-steel home whose materials were planned to be 100% environmentally friendly and recyclable...  The home is also energy-efficient with solar panels on the roof and glass panels (triple-glazed!) that help maintain comfortable room temperatures all year round."

This is pretty amusing; TTAC has the latest long-form Audi ad.  The Thai or Chinese joke was excellent (referring to adoption, not food), and I love the twins :)  Yeah, you just have to watch it...



Archive: October 10, 2007


Archive: October 1, 2006


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:


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 10, 2005


Archive: October 10, 2004


Archive: October 10, 2003

Friday,  10/10/03  08:16 AM

Gov Arnold announced his transition team today.  Interestingly, it included Carly Fiorina, CEO of HP.  Her political ambitions have been noted before.  Arnold/Carly in '12?  Also on the list, San Francisco mayor Willie Brown.  A very shrewd choice, because San Francisco is the one big city in California which did not vote for Arnold...

Wired reports China's Great Leap Upward.  "Giving the firmest signs yet that China is about to blast a 'taikonaut' into orbit, news reports Wednesday said it would take place Oct. 15 and be shown live on television."  And no doubt on the 'net, too.

This is a good thing: A bill has been introduced into the House to encourage private manned spaceflight.  Excellent.  (You've got to love a blog called Transterrestrial Musings!)

godless thinks "the Bell Curvers" will win in the end.  "People can and will deny the validity of the g-factor until it becomes the basis for engineering."  Excellent point.  People could and did deny the validity of a round earth until it became the basis for colonization.

SETI@home is transitioning to BOINC, a general purpose distributed computing network.  Cool.  I've been a big supporter of SETI@home.  (I'm currently in 1,215th place out of 4,704,523 users.)

Napster logoWell, Napster 2.0 missed their launch date yesterday.  They are taking "pre-registrations", I pre-registered so I can watch what they're up to.  Stay tuned.

Samsung Napster MP3 playerIn related news, Samsung's Napster-branded MP3 player was announced.  They are trying for an Apple-like player/service tie-in.  In addition to a 20GB MP3 player, it is also an FM tuner.  Stay tuned.

And speaking of Apple, the Windows version of the iTunes Music Store will be announced next Thursday, October 16.  So by delaying two weeks, Napster will launch after the Windows version of iTMS.  Bad timing.  It will be interesting to see what Apple does for software; a big part of iTMS' appeal was the tight integration with Apple's slick iTunes application, for which there is presently no Windows equivalent (the Windows version of the iPod integrates with Music Match).

Yesterday I noted the new Pioneer receiver which supports Windows Media 9 streaming.  Julien Couvreur emailed to point out it only streams WMA 9 audio, not video.  So how long before another one supports video, too?

KiSS has a whole line of DVD players which have Ethernet connections.  Including the ability to decode DivX, which is Media 9's most direct competitor.

Asus PC receiverIn the same vein, Asus has introduced a "barebones" PC designed to sit in your home entertainment stack, not your office.  This is a Pentium-4 based computer with a TV tuner and FM tuner, built-in PVR capability, built-in LAN interface, and standard drive bays for disk and optical drives.  This really sounds like the future, an "open" system which replaces your receiver.  Sorry, Pioneer.

Dave Winer asks "what's the opposite of bing"?  Silence.


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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
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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
the big day
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?