Critical Section

Archive: April 25, 2016

points of view

Monday,  04/25/16  10:30 PM

points of viewI'm been ruminating on points of view.  Everyone knows that people see things differently, but is that because they literally see the same thing and perceive it differently (sometimes) or are they viewing the same thing but seeing something different ... because they have a different point of view.  A lot of the work in understanding something is moving to different / better points of view.  So if you want to know a lot, you have to move around :)

If you're wondering "how could anyone ever support X", where X is one of the current presidential candidates, consider their point of view.  They are probably seeing different things than you are, rather than perceiving the same things differently.

Try ... if you can ... playing the "under the skin" game.  The other person is usually more rational than you thought, and you are often less rationale when seen from another person's point of view.

Tesla gigafactory as seen by a droneSpeaking of points of view, here we have the Tesla Gigafactory as seen from a drone.  Wow.  It's hard to comprehend just how large this building is...

Not surprising to me: Human intelligence is declining according to Stanford geneticist.  "I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues."  Clear evidence for Unnatural Selection.

Life in 2016: How White Castle will adjust to a $15 minimum wage.  A minimum wage is one of those issues where people definitely have different points of view.  If you're poor and struggling to live on a minimum wage, you will think this could help.  And if you're an economist or student of history, you will think this can only hurt.  The challenge is not figuring out who's right, but how to we get the right thinking implemented.

Victor David Hanson: The next President is going to be hated.  Yeah.

Alpha Centauri - target for Yuri Milner's probeSome people would say this is a waste of time and money, but not me: Yuri Milner is spending $100M on a probe that could travel to Alpha Centauri.  I saw Yuri speak at a Caltech event recently, and he's level headed and constructive about this.  Most impressive.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the political spectrum, Bernie Sanders is now calling for a nationwide ban on fracking.  See, to me, he *really* doesn't understand how things work.  But to you, maybe this makes sense.

on identity: is this 5'9" white guy really a 6'5" Chinese girl?A sad aspect of today's political environment is that people can't say what they think anymore.  Don't believe it?  Check out this video, in which a 5'9" white guy challenges people to say he isn't a 6'5" Chinese girl.  This is not proof of people seeing things differently, it's evidence that people don't feel comfortable saying what they see.

I'm not one of those people: I see crap, and I call it crap:  Brutalist websites.  This is a variation of my "patience" rant; people can whip out something ugly, call it style, and move on, instead of taking the time to make something worth making.  And once again let's not confuse simplicity (which is good) with brutalism or as I might call it lazyism (which is bad).

10,000 days of MathematicaAn extraordinary read: Stephen Wolfram, my life in technology.  Stephen is one of the people I admire most, a thinker who is also a doer, and who has thought and done some amazing things.  Mathematica and the Wolfram Language are two of the marvels of our time.  From any point of view :)

I'm going to wrap up with this, which is ... great, 1986 in photos.  Talk about having a different point of view, imagine how differently you would have reacted to these pictures thirty years ago (or forty years ago!).  And how we will look back and view the events of today.  As you look at these pictures, which one strikes you?

Donald Trump in 1986

 

 

 
 

Archive: April 27, 2015

what a week

Monday,  04/27/15  09:40 AM

at BacaraWhew that week flew by, eh?  And what a week.

I had a great long weekend; drove up to visit friends in Montecito, explored the backwoods of North Santa Barbara county, stayed in Pismo Beach, and rode a century in Creston (through the wine country East of Paso Robles).  On the way back we spent the afternoon at Bacara (pictured).  Intermingled was some great think time.  To be repeated soon and often!

Okay, time for a filter pass...

Samantha Cristoforetti selfie from ISS with SpaceX capsuleEpic selfie: Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti points to SpaceX resupply capsule from International Space station, while dressed as Captain Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek.  Love it!

(and ... love that this tech actually exists, not just in movies ...)

Interesting question: would you rather have 2014 standard of living and 1964 health care, or vice versa?  Easy answer [for me]: I'd choose 1964 standard of living (better) and 2014 health care (much better).

Sexy conservatives will out-breed barren liberals.  "Liberal women, encouraged by the sour crones of the radical feminist movement, often wait far too long to marry and to begin families. They were lied to - you can't have it all.  Life is choices, and a family is a choice that means trade-offs.  Choose unwisely, and one may not be able to undue the relentless ticking of the biological clock.  And as far as liberal men go, well, just look at them."  Hehe.  Instapundit's perfect comment: Troll level, grandmaster.

Carly FiorinaApropos: Fiorina has Hillary defenders worried.  She'll make a great VP.

Did you know?  Just seven percent of journalists are Republicans.  Worth remembering when you read anything in the media.  I continue to maintain, the brightest people don't become journalists, so journalists are not the brightest people.

TomorrowlandLooks promising: trailer for Tomorrowland.  On the list.

(I've had an uneven experience with movies lately; walked out of Kingsman [hated it], walked out of While We're Young [boring], and loved Woman in Gold [compelling].  It's all about the target IQ in the Director's head [memo to self, must look up political affiliation of Directors of movies.]  So there you are.)

Totally agree: What really caused the world's worst financial crisis (in 2008).  Here's the formula:

  • The federal government pushed banks and Fannie/Freddie to lend more money to poorer-than-average Americans so that they could buy houses

  • The flood of money on easy terms (0% down, etc.) drove up the price of houses to the point where poorer-than-average Americans could never hope to pay off loans

  • By 2008 half of all mortgages in the U.S. were essentially subprime

  • Fannie/Freddie told everyone that less than 1% of their portfolio was subprime (a lie)

  • When people discovered that the U.S. mortgage market was primarily subprime they panicked

  • Mark-to-market accounting rules made banks look great on the way up but exacerbated the panic on the way down

Worryingly, the same conditions that caused the crash of 2008 are still present.

Glenn Reynolds notes: An inconvenient truth about homeownership: Policies aimed at decreasing inequality by helping the poor buy homes often do the opposite.

this is ArtIn re: Regarding Art, Vulture on the New New Museum, the Whitney.  "Museums have changed - a lot. Slowly over the past quarter-century, then quickly in the past decade.  These changes have been complicated, piecemeal, and sometimes contradictory, with different museums embracing them in different ways...  The museum used to be a storehouse for the art of the past...  Now the museum is a revved-up showcase of the new..."  Yes!  All art was once contemporary!

the Kano modelWhy you'll hate the Apple Watch.  Linkbait for sure, but an interesting discussion.  TL;DR: you'll hate it at first (because it doesn't work well as a watch), but you'll love it over time (for the other things it does).

This will be big: Like Uber but for shipping stuff, Shyp raises $50M.

Sniff: Makerbot's saddest hour.  Could be another case where a big not-cool company (Stratasys) buys a small cool startup and kills it.  I love my Replicator 2 - the best toy ever - but I am not tempted to buy a new one.

Graham Bower: How to turn great IOS app ideas into something real.  You need an amazing developer :)

Alejandro Valverde wins Leige-Baston-LeigeLast week was big in cycling, with the Ardennes Classics, and also big for Alejandro Valverde, who finished second in Amstel Gold, then won Fleche Wallonne and Leige-Baston-Leige.  He's one of my favorite riders despite his alleged doping issues back in 2008.

Onward!  A big week ahead featuring a little road trip to Pahrump, Nevada and a little climb up Towne Pass in Death Valley.  Stay tuned...

 

the Hubble at 25: Celestial Fireworks

Monday,  04/27/15  10:46 AM

Wow, cannot believe, the Hubble Space Telescope has turned 25!  So interesting that the original images were a huge disappointment, due to spherical aberation, but new cameras and computational techniques overcame the limitations and turned it into an even huger success.  Unquestionably one of mankind's most important space missions.

Here's the Hubble image NASA have chosen to celebrate its 25th birthday, entitled Celestial Fireworks:

(click to enbiggen)
(click to enbiggen)

Awesome!


 
 

Archive: April 30, 2014

The Cloud (NY 120514)

Wednesday,  04/30/14  10:09 PM

 

excellent

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2013

 

Archive: April 20, 2012

Zeno's paradox

Friday,  04/20/12  10:39 AM

 

at 53 I feel like this has been going on for a while
so far it hasn't caught me yet :)

 

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2011

Wildflower Century

Saturday,  04/30/11  08:19 PM

Yay me; today I rode the Wildflower Century, my first century in six weeks, whew.  This is an "easy" century, 98 miles with just 6,500' of climbing, but today it was spiced with a chilly 15mph+ wind.  (Eichhorn's Law: every wind is a headwind.)  I finished in 6:15 riding time, not bad considering the wind, and I took it easy; tried to avoid the temptation of blasting after pacelines.  It is a beautiful ride and although there were no wildflowers this year (!) the scenery was amazing.

Some pictures:


the route: 98 miles, 6,500', and cruising through some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere


even "easy" rides have climbing, and this one was *not* easy


my bike enjoys the scenery, although where are the wildflowers?


this is the classic section of this ride, up Sea Shell Drive
not pictured, 15mph+ headwind - who ordered that?


Chardonnay basking in the sunshine :)


the final climbs through the mountains are beautiful and all the nicer for being the final climbs


happy Rabo rider - another century conquered

All in all, yay, a pretty great way to celebrate Queen's Day!

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2010

thinking outside the elevator box

Friday,  04/30/10  03:58 PM

<innovation optional=entirely>

While staying at the Sheraton in downtown New Orleans, attending and presenting at a conference, I noted an interesting innovation with their elevators.   Elevators are an old established technology and you would think nothing new could be done to make them more efficient, but you would be wrong.

The hotel had five elevators transporting guests among twenty nine floors, including eight floors of conference space, restaurants, shops, etc.   At each bank of elevators, instead of an UP and DOWN button there was a keypad.   To call the elevator you enter your destination floor.   The system immediately responds by telling you which elevator will arrive for you (they are lettered, e.g. after entering “5” the system responded with “C” as shown at right).   When the elevator arrives you get in, and it takes you to your floor, you don’t push any buttons inside the elevator.

This cool system has several advantages:

  • Telling the system your destination floor instead of just your destination direction gives it more information, so it can plan elevator travel more efficiently.
  • Because the system tells you which elevator to use, you can go stand next to it, lessening the load time.   Also the crowd at elevator banks is dispersed into orderly queues by each door.
  • If a whole bunch of people need to go to the same floor(s), the system can assign them to multiple elevators on a first-come-first-serve basis.  You never have an elevator which is too full.
  • It is convenient not to have to push any buttons inside the elevator, particularly when they are crowded.

As shown at left, the inside of the elevator doorway has a panel which shows the destination floor(s) for that elevator (in this case, “5”).   This allows you to double-check that you’re getting on the right one.   Note the letter identifying the elevator “pasted” over the old up/down lights.

  • Usability observation: using the letters A, B, C, D, and E to identify the elevators avoided confusion with numbered floors, but the auditory confirmation was confusing because B, C, D, and E sound so similar.   Using something else like colors would have been better :)

The picture at right shows the cover over the old destination buttons inside the elevator.   Once you get in the elevator there are no buttons to push.   If you change your mind about your destination you have to get out and punch your new choice into the keypad, at which point the system might not assign you the same elevator.

  • Usability observation: the keypads have big clicky buttons, easy to push and with positive physical feedback.   Much better than a touchscreen.

Pretty cool, eh?   Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize “it all” is so much more than you thought!

</innovation>

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2009

Happy Queen's Day!

Thursday,  04/30/09  07:30 AM


What do you call someone who composes a post to celebrate Holland’s Queen’s Day, then doesn’t post it?
“Dutch”


Holland! Happy Queen's Day...

Happy Queen's Day

You are all wearing orange, aren't you?

 

 

 

Thursday,  04/30/09  10:59 PM

Had a couple of really busy days, whew...  working on some analysis tools to extract information out of data, and then writing up the results.  I know it sounds dry and clinical but really it has been pretty fun.  Just way behind, never enough time.  This has been an excellent example of W=UH in action, I went about this one way, it was hard, but workable, and yet felt "wrong", and then I had a good suggestion and went about it another way, it was suddenly easier, and now feels "right".

Jordan's Baby BMWThe big news of the day is that my daughter Jordan (22) bought a car!  Yep, she has her very own spiffy little BMW 320i.  Very very nice.  It is a welcome addition to the motor pool :)  In addition to Jordan wanting her own car and working hard to be able to buy one, the impetus for this was the upcoming change in Alexis' (15) status to a driver.  (dum dum dum)  Whew.

Note to self: always buy a car on the last day of the month.  Nothing like having a motivated salesperson :)

Old tech rules: I just (re)discovered that I can use IR to sync my Palm smartphone with my laptop!  No wires, no bluetooth configuration crap, nothing.  Push the button and poof it works.  Yay I like it.

Not good: the GDP drops 6.1%.  "Economists had predicted a drop of 4.7 percent, and the steep dip could dampen expectations that the pace of economic declines had begun to ebb. The decline was almost as sharp as in the previous quarter, when the economy shrank at a pace of 6.3 percent, its worst drop in a generation."  But ... as Ann Althouse notes, it was stimulated.

I happened to watch some of President Obama's '100 days' press conference today, while waiting at the car dealership.  He's a great politician, of that there is no doubt.  I thought he handled the rather inane questions rather well.  Unfortunately he seems to be better at handling the press than managing the economy ... at least so far.

Elon Musk on David LettermanDavid Letterman interviews Elon Musk of Tesla.  Pretty interesting, but reinforces the general impression I always have of David Letterman, he's a jerk.  Seems he's not really interested in his guests, it is all about him.  Still Elon did a good job of working in some good information...  and the car itself (the prototype sedan) looked beautiful :)

Palm EOS: Pre meets Centro?And so it seems the rumor of the day is the Palm Pixie / EOS / ????, a rumored smaller version of the Palm Pre, sort of a Centro with the WebOS running on it.  Excellent, but I want my Pre... please?

Tim O'Reilly: reinventing the book in the age of the web.  "But simply putting books onto electronic devices is only the beginning. As I've said for years, that's a lot like pointing a camera at a stage play, and calling it a movie. Yes, that's pretty much what they did in many early movies, but eventually, the tools of production and consumption actually changed the format of what was produced and consumed."  Interesting, and quite true I suspect...

Air Force One over the Statue of Liberty, photoshop vesionI'm sure you've heard about the great Air Force One photo-op fiasco, in which the plane itself was flown low over New York to get a PR shot of the plane with the Statue of Liberty in the background.  You probably had the same thought as Will Campbell, why not just use Photoshop?  Save Taxpayers $328,301, Prevent Nationwide WTF!? Yes We Can!

News you can use: how to be a successful evil overlord.  My favorite tip, when you have the would-be-hero captured, kill him.  Just pull the trigger.  Yourself.  Then you can laugh... ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ...

So, are Microsoft the Detroit of software?  Not a nice thing to say, is it, but perhaps true... what was the last thing Microsoft did that was actually cool?  [ via Daring Fireball ]

Windows 7 RC 1 in action...BTW, if your answer is "Windows 7", read this review of Windows 7 RC 1.  I'm not saying it isn't a great advance over Vista, and perhaps I will upgrade from XP to Windows 7 someday, but I don't think it rises to cool.

PS W7RC1 is available right now for your downloading pleasure...

Finally, loved this from Josh Newman, quoting Mario Andretti: "If you think you have things under control, you're not going fast enough.I believe I may be going fast enough :)

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2008

koninginnedag!

Wednesday,  04/30/08  01:04 PM

 

I wanted to wish everyone Happy Koninginnedag (the Dutch Queen's Day)!

Yes of course I am wearing Orange, aren't you?  (Fortunately I have an orange Tivo tee-shirt :)

orange house!

Sorry, I know I've been gone; I was out riding Mount Palomar 'till late last night (yes I did wear my Rabobank riding kit :), and didn't get back in time to blog, and had to jump right into work this morning.  I'll try to post some updates later, but in the meantime have a Happy Queen's Day.  You could celebrate with some orange juice!

 

 

Wednesday,  04/30/08  11:16 PM

Greetings!  Did you have a wonderful Queen's Day?  I hope you did, and that you "thought Orange" all day.  Being Dutch is much more than a nationality or ethnic background, it is a state of mind.  After all, you can tell a Dutch person, but you can't tell them much :)

I had a nice day myself, though a long one; worked through some of niggling details.  Satisfying.

(You will notice and appreciate, I hope, that I am not going to dignify the whole Obama-Wright thing by commenting on it.)

This is fascinating; over an GNXP Razib has analyzed a bunch of data to figure out What predicts creationism?  Put another way, what factors correlate to a disbelief in evolution...  Nothing shocking but the data are nice to have laid out so cleanly.  Of course the other factor which correlates strongly, not considered this time, is intelligence.

ghost bikeI don't know whether to think this is cool, or spooky, or weird, or what: ghost bikes memorialize accidents.  "A Ghost Bike is a white-painted bike that is placed at a location where a cyclist has been hit."  I'm trying to imagine what it would be like to have a ghost bike on a daily ride.  I sort of have one now; a couple of years ago a neighbor was killed while riding on a street near my house, I know the exact spot it happened, and pass it several times a week.  Maybe the main reason to do it would be for cars, so they would be more careful.

One of my quarterly delights is reading the latest issue of Caltech's Engineering & Science, which always has some great articles about the doings there.  The tone is resolutely old school, harking back to the days of white-shirted engineers with slide rules and pocket protectors, quietly reinventing the world.  I am always interested in the obituaries; reading about these great people and their lives and accomplishments, such as Seymour Benzer, who pretty much invented modern genetics.  One of the obits in the latest issue is for David Elliot, professor of History emeritus.  I remember taking classes from Professor Elliot thirty years ago; I can still hear his Scottish brogue and cheerful enthusiasm, as he endeavored to teach history to a bunch of science students.  He taught me how to write, one of the most important things I've ever learned.  Thanks, David, see what you did :)

Speaking of how to write, and people who can; check out Regret and Time Travel, from Mark Elliot (no known connection to David).  "So, I can have no regrets and I can assign no blame, unless I am willing to invalidate and betray what I have gained."  Well said and thought provoking...  (You will notice and appreciate, that I am not going to dignify the whole Obama-Wright thing by pointing out the analogy.)

Remember when Microsoft Mesh was announced, I couldn't get interested enough to investigate?  Well, Joel Spolsky investigated, and concludes the Architecture astronauts take over.  I actually didn't even realize there was a difference between Microsoft Live Mesh (Hailstorm revisited), and Windows Live Mesh (Groove revisited).  Now that I've enjoyed Joel's skewering, I'm even less interested.  And meanwhile they are trying to buy Yahoo to, er, what?  Get technology?  Users?  Programmers?  Good ideas for new products, maybe...

Well here's a surprise: Schmidt says Google still scratching head over YouTube profits.  Remember when Google bought YouTube, we all wondered how in the world it could be worth $1.5B?  Well, it wasn't based on normal business metrics like cash flow.  Of course it was based on abnormal metrics like the amount Google's stock appreciated in value...

Rube Goldberg: InventionsMeanwhile YouTube has become the total standard for things like this: The best Rube Goldberg Ever.  I don't know about best ever, but it is pretty good.  [ via my daughter Megan, who is a sucker for these things, and who asked "who's Rube Goldberg"? - turns out he was a cartoonist... ]

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2007

The Traffic School Web Usability Test

Monday,  04/30/07  10:00 PM

So, the other day I got a traffic ticket.  (It was boring, 65 in a 50 zone near my house.  Sorry.)

Fortunately, I was able to ask the court for traffic school so the ticket won’t go on my permanent record.  This is especially fortunate because one measly ticket would mean I’d have to start robbing banks to pay for my car insurance.  But I digress.

Now, the LA County Courts have accredited a number of online traffic schools.  I’ve done this before, you pay a fee (typically about $20), read a bunch of online pages, answer questions to show you’ve read the pages, and after a couple of hours, poof, you’ve done the equivalent of an eight hour traffic school.  (BTW I think this is a good thing, sitting in a physical traffic school all day on a Saturday leads to serious brain damage - from the other students if not from the instructor - this way you really do read about traffic laws and such, and no brain cells are harmed.)  Anyway as I said there are a number of these schools, a large number.  So which to pick?

This turned into an interesting exercise in web usability.  There are quite a variety of designs represented among the various schools, from the austere to the gaudy, and from the professional to the distinctly “my son did this for a high school project”.  (e.g. this one.  Oh, and this one gets the “look Ma, I know how to use a table” award – I’m surprised they don’t have a “works best with Netscape” badge.) 

So what are my criteria? 

At the highest level, I want the site to work (!), I don’t want to pick some weird school which is about to go out of business, or whose servers go down when the neighbor’s air conditioning kicks on.  Or which doesn’t support Firefox.  Or which is going to require me to install some odd browser plug in.  Etc.  There is a kind of pass/fail to this, either site looks professional, or it doesn’t.  Even the URL of the site is a clue; a common URL like www.TrafficSchoolOnline.com feels more professional than www.TrafficJamn.net.  

I also want it to be fast.  If there was a way to know the “average time taken by students to complete course”, that would be great.  Too bad that kind of stat isn’t available, and none of the sites even advertise that they’re fast, because you’re taking this in lieu of an eight hour class.  They use “easy” as a metaphor for “fast”, and maybe also to reassure you that you don’t have to be a computer person to figure it out.  However that kind of “easy” can also mean “dumb”, and I don’t really want to have my intelligence insulted for two hours.  So there’s a judgment call.  There’s even a traffic school for dummies.  Now who identifies with that?  (Oh, and here’s one if you’re lazy.  I am not making this up.  I can see myself in court now, telling the judge “yes, I did remember to mail in the 4lazy.com completion certificate, I know I did”.)

Then, I am choosing nice looking pages.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we can all agree on ugly.  And some of these sites, we would all agree, are ugly.  In a W=UH way as well as a plain old U way.  Give me simple, with clean graphics, lots of white space, and I’m happy.  Give me this, and I can’t click on the back button fast enough.  Oh, speaking of back buttons, there was one site which, when I hit back, opened a new browser window to ask “do you really want to go back”?  Bzzzzz.  Get the hook.

Some of these sites seem to feature comedy, like the site will be funny, or something.  I must confess there is nothing funny about traffic school to me.  I have attended “comedy” traffic schools in the past, and other than some of the things said by idiot students, there was nothing remotely funny about them.  I am steering clear of comedy.  If I want to laugh, I’ll apply a VS 2005 service pack.

Then there was a site called www.SkilledDriver.com.  Good name, right?  That’s me, I’m skilled :)  The site is clean and they let you start the course before you have to pay.  Now that is a great idea, because it feels like there’s no investment to try it.  Of course once I’ve spent twenty minutes, I do have an investment, and if it isn’t awful, I’m likely to continue.  These guys feel like they’ve thought this through, I like it.  (On the other side of smart, we have this: Welcome to the Traffic Violator Internet Program.  That’s me, I’m a violator.  Back!)

I liked it when a site had a nice “how it works” summary.  You want to know what you’re in for; an overview is helpful.  I didn’t like it when the site didn’t even load.  (YMMV.)  That’s not a good sign.  Back!  And a definite don’t – sound in the home page (“look Ma, I can link a Wav file”).  Barf.  And back!

So in the end, although I found this site pretty compelling (not), I picked this one.  I’m not even sure why.  It isn’t the prettiest, not even.  But it seemed simple and fast, clean, no nonsense, with fast loading pages.  I started, and once I started, it felt like “okay, this is straightforward, no problem”.  One thing I really liked was that all the information fit into my browser, no scrolling.  And I liked that I could shift-click to the next page, so I had all the pages from a section up at once (so I could search them easily while taking the quiz at the end of the section).

The whole thing is kind of interesting when you ponder what does attract consumers to a product?  Somehow it seems like there is an expectation, and whichever meets the expectation best – with no surprises – wins.  Exceeding the expectation is even better.  At Intuit Scott Cook was famous for saying our goal was to delight the customer.  So I can’t say I am delighted with my choice of online traffic school, but still, there is an underlying feeling which is kind of like that.

So, what do our customers experience when they visit our company website?  Or maybe more importantly, when they use our product?  Does it meet their expectations?  Could there be a version with the same functionality which was significantly more compelling, that seemed easier?  It is not enough to make it work.  You have to make it great.  You have to delight the customer!  Because consumers have choices.  And back buttons :)

 

Monday,  04/30/07  10:13 PM

Day two of my return to blogging.  So far, so good.  Y'all can keep sending me email to tell me how glad you are I'm posting again, it's been great :)

Ivan BassoSo, this sucks - Discovery has released Ivan Basso, at his request.  "On Sunday April 29th Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team member Ivan Basso requested a meeting with General Manager Bill Stapleton and Sports Director Johan Bruyneel.  At the meeting Basso asked to be released from his contract, effective immediately, citing personal reasons related to the re-opened investigation by the Italian Olympic Committees (CONI)."  This is just bogus.  There is no proof Ivan has done anything wrong, and yet he is being convicted in the press.  I want cycling to be clean as badly as anyone, but doesn't there have to be a presumption of innocence?

Meanwhile Tyler Hamilton and Jörg Jaksche will start the Giro, despite being just as involved in the Puerto investigations as Basso - which is to say, their names have been mentioned, with no further proof.

The average American household spends $1,200 annually on gadgets.  I guess my household is not average :)

FuturePundit reports 60% Cancer Drop From Vitamin D Supplements.  "In June, U.S. researchers will announce the first direct link between cancer prevention and the sunshine vitamin.  Their results are nothing short of astounding.  A four-year clinical trial involving 1,200 women found those taking the vitamin had about a 60-per-cent reduction in cancer incidence, compared with those who didn't take it, a drop so large — twice the impact on cancer attributed to smoking — it almost looks like a typographical error."  So be it.  Yet another reason to enjoy the sunshine!

Saturn: Hexagon at the North PoleSo, what did you make of this: Cassini Images Bizarre Hexagon on Saturn?  "An odd, six-sided, honeycomb-shaped feature circling the entire north pole of Saturn has captured the interest of scientists with NASA's Cassini mission.  NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft imaged the feature over two decades ago.  The hexagon is nearly 25,000 kilometers (15,000 miles) across.  Nearly four Earths could fit inside it."  Whoa.  Bizarre doesn't even do it justice! 

I just love all the weird and wonderful stuff coming back from the Cassini mission.  (And all the great stuff from the Mars rovers, and the comet probes, and so on.)  I know all the arguments about feeding the poor people on Earth and everything, but this stuff is really important.  More important than feeding all the poor people on Earth.  And compared to manned missions, these unmanned probes are downright cheap.

I can't wait to seen Indoctrinate U.  The PC pendulum just has to start swinging back, doesn't it?  How much further can it go without falling over the top?  [ via Glenn Reynolds, who comments "I hope it gets seen".  Me too. ]


So, I'm seriously considering doing away with my Blogroll altogether.  It is grossly out-of-date, as I don't use it anymore; seems like it has been fully superceded by the OPML list of RSS feeds to which I am subscribed.  The Blog Roulette feature is kind of cool, though.  Maybe I ditch the blogroll and wire the Roulette wheel into OPML?  Comments?

 

What do I do?  (New Yorker - 1/12/07)

Monday,  04/30/07  10:51 PM

 

 

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2006

 

Archive: April 30, 2005

 

Archive: April 30, 2004

the Charles Hotel Rocks

Friday,  04/30/04  02:45 PM

Some people talk about great customer service.  Then there are those who walk the walk.

A couple of weekends ago I attended BloggerCon II at Harvard in Boston.  While there I stayed at the Charles Hotel, which is a really nice place right off Harvard square.  High-speed Internet access, comfortable beds, plenty of water pressure (!), nice restaurants, etc.  And while there I bought some Harvard tee-shirts for my daughters.

I left Monday morning at 4:00AM to fly back through Pittsburgh so I could spend the day with a client.  Naturally I forgot to pack the tee-shirts, left them in the closet.  Sigh.  So I called the hotel, they searched the room, talked to the housekeeping people, etc., and sadly were not able to find the shirts.  I thought that would be the end of it.  No sir.  Peter Davis, the hotel's service manager, called me back to ask what sizes my daughters wore, so he could go out and buy replacements! 

And today I got a FedEx package with three purple Harvard tee-shirts, courtesy of the Charles Hotel.  Okay people, listen up; that's service.  I don't know what it cost the hotel to buy those shirts and mail them, but they now have a client for life.  Any time I'm in Boston, you know where I'll be staying.

Not to mention the free publicity they'll get on my blog :)

 
 

Archive: April 30, 2003

Wednesday,  04/30/03  08:43 PM

Wow, end of April!  The first third of 2003 is gone!  And what an eventful year it has been, so far...

A little blog vanity: In those 120 days I have made 152 posts and written 23 articles.  We have served 30,968 visitors, of whom 2,992 have come back at least three times.  That is so cool.  Thank you all for coming by...

The bad news - I am way behind where I was hoping to be with Unnatural Selection.  I guess being an author and a CTO of a startup are incompatible.  I'm not giving up - I still think the problem is severe, and needs to be discussed - but my expectations have shifted.  I just have to start writing and we'll see how it all falls out.

NewsGator
(click for fullsize screenshot)
NewsGator
In my ongoing quest to check out RSS aggregators, today I decided to try NewGator.  This works a little differently from other aggregators in that it is an Outlook plug-in.  It integrates right into Outlook and RSS feed items are treated much like emails.  Each feed becomes a separate folder.  It is really nice, so far so good and no problems.  And as with SharpReader I was pleasantly surprised to find Critical Section works and the posts look just fine.  The only thing is - I still like surfing websites much better than receiving RSS feeds.  So I'm trying a combination; I'm only receiving feeds for a few major sites - this way I'll be notified when "something happens", and I'll be surfing to the others from my blogroll.  I'll keep you posted...  stay tuned.

An under-reported attribute of the new iTunes is its ability to "share" music with "your friends".  Read all about it on Macintouch.  See how smart Apple was with this; instead of fighting file sharing, they are facilitating it, but in the context of buying music instead of stealing it.  This is how you win - give people what they want, and figure out how to charge for it.

If you're a connoisseur of Steve Jobs' presentations [as I am], here's a C|Net video of the iPod and iTunes Music Store introductions.

Of course people are already poking at the edges; Too Much News reports how to link to items within the iTunes Music Store.

Update: Walt Mossberg likes it, too...

This is so cool!  Check out GeoBlog, the world as a blog...

 
 

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may I take your order?
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