Critical Section

Archive: January 12, 2020

Teladoc += InTouch

Sunday,  01/12/20  07:59 AM

 

Teladoc += InTouch

Teladoc Health to acquire InTouch Health

Teladoc Health Inc. (NYSE: TDOC), the global leader in virtual care, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire InTouch Health, the leading provider of enterprise telehealth solutions for hospitals and health systems. This acquisition positions Teladoc Health as the partner of choice for health systems seeking a single solution for their entire virtual care strategy, and establishes the company as the only virtual care provider covering the full range of acuity - from critical to chronic to everyday care - through a single solution across all sites of care worldwide.

Big news!

Big for my company, for healthcare, and for the world ... also big for me. 
Please stay tuned for more.

 

Blogging at Buck's

Sunday,  01/12/20  05:27 PM

Buck'sHi all this afternoon finds me revisiting old haunts; I visited our old house in Los Altos (many many memories there!) and am now sitting in Buck's enjoying their maximally great chili and a new cuppa, and of course, blogging...

Gratifying and fun to see all the reactions in the blogosphere, LinkedIn-verse, and Twitter-realm to our big news about Toledo acquiring InTouch.  Many friends from long ago have picked up this news and it's most fun to reconnect.

Of course everyone asks "what's next" and the short answer is "making the combination work".  The long answer is, um, longer.... stay tuned.

Apropos: why large-screen TVs are affordable and health care is not.  One word: competition.  And by the way, if you want to make something even more expensive, just make it free.  (Try to name one thing the government does less expensively than private enterprise...)

Gary Wolfram: Private Healthcare would be less expensive for all.  "It is important to realize the current system is not particularly market-based."

the Morning ShowJust started watching The Morning Show on Apple+ and two episodes in, enjoying in very much.  Great content seemingly comes from everywhere now; Amazon, Apple, who's next?  I like that it's relatively balanced politically and that it's realistic about TV "news".  Probably could not have come from a network.

I meant to include this in yesterday's Bitcoin note: Tim Bray: I don't believe in Bitcoin.  "Here’s the thing. I'm an old guy: I've seen wave after wave of landscape-shifting technology sweep through the IT space: Personal computers, Unix, C, the Internet and Web, Java, REST, mobile, public cloud. And without exception, I observed that they were initially loaded in the back door by geeks, without asking permission, because they got shit done and helped people with their jobs.  That's not happening with Bitcoin."  I agree with him entirely; it's cool technology, and I'm rooting for it, and so far there is not one important use case for it.

wind turbineCringley: why wind turbines have three blades.  TLDR: because they, um, do.  The whole wind turbine thing is going down in history as a giant government-subsidized scam.

Reid Hoffman: What important lessons on global entrepreneurship can be learned from Argentina?  InTouch Health has had an office in Bahia Blanca, Argentina, for 15 years, and it's been a big success for us.  I fully agree with the premise that you have to shift your perspective outside the US to address global issues ...

... like improving Healthcare!

 
 

Archive: January 21, 2019

 

Archive: January 21, 2018

 

Archive: January 10, 2017

we're going to make some history today

Tuesday,  01/10/17  08:40 PM

Ten years ago, today:

Steve Jobs introduces the iPhone, Jan 10, 2007

"we're going to make some history today"

Well that was true.  Wow.

Notes on rewatching:

  • Hehe, Macs running on Intel, how amazing.
  • iTunes Store ... 5M songs per day.  Of course, no app store yet!
  • Zune, we hardly knew ya.
  • Those old iPod ads were the best.  Those white earbuds.
  • Apple TV!  Who can remember, it was introduced at the same time.  Nice hobby.
  • 22 min in ... every once in a while, a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything.
  • Who wants a stylus?  Nobody wants a stylus.
  • iPhone runs OS X.  Really!?
  • Sync with iTunes.  Yep the first iPhones required a computer.  Quaint.
  • 3.5mm headphone jack.  "All your iPod headphones fit right in."
  • Accelerometer.  Weird to think turning your phone sideways didn't used to do anything.
  • "To unlock my phone I just take my finger and slide it across."
  • "You had me at scrolling."
  • "The killer app for a phone is making calls."  Hehe not any more.
  • Random access voicemail.  Another breakthrough we now take for granted.
  • First public call was to Jony Ive.  Of course.  "It's not too shabby, is it."
  • SMS texting pre-iMessage.  Hardly ever see green anymore :)
  • Pinch to zoom - big ovation.
  • Yahoo! Mail.  Yay.  Biggest mail service in the world.  That was then.
  • Realtime stock updates...  APPL was up $2.40 during this keynote.  Heh.
  • "I want to show you something truly remarkable" ... Google Maps on iPhone!
  • Calling Starbucks: "I'd like to order 4,000 lattes to go please" ... so great.
  • It's my pleasure to announce ... the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt!  This was before Android :)
  • "You can't think of the internet without thinking of Yahoo!"  Um ... yeah.
  • Launch network Cingular.  Remember them?  Eleven days after AT&T had bought them!
  • Love that anecdote about Woz and the TV scrambler at the end.
  • Wayne Gretsky: "skating where the puck is going to be".  Yep.
  • Finally, can I just say, that version of IOS looks so much better!
  • Pretty much the best tech product introduction of all time.  The benchmark.

Can you remember what was in your pocket on that day?  I proudly carried a Palm Centro.

I don't care what you say, that was a better time.  (...more history...)

 

 
 

Archive: January 21, 2016

Thursday,  01/21/16  10:33 PM

Spent the day ping ponging between VB6 (!) and C++ (!!) and loving it.  NO, I did not wish I was programming in JavaScript or Go or Python instead :)

JavaScript nightmareThe perfect rant on The Sad State of Web Development.  "The web has created some of the most complicated, convoluted, over engineered tools ever conceived."  Totally agree.  And this is a big part of those 10MB+ page loads I hate so much.

Related: Jeffrey Zeldman: Web Performance today.

Brave is a new web browser from Brenden Eich (the inventor of JavaScript, who went on to be CEO of Mozilla before being fired for making the wrong political donation).  I'm in the beta queue!

Yay!  UberX can now pick you up at LAX.  Well it's about time.  And now the hotel shuttles can go back to shuttling hotel guests, instead of ferrying Uber passengers off-airport.

This was interesting: Silicon Valley kingpins commit $1B to create artificial intelligence without profit motive.  I cannot see how this can possibly work.  The only way to drive such a project is with capitalism.  And these people of all should now that.

Scott ("Dilbert") Adams, flushed with success from his Trump-master-persuader series, solves the gun problem with an app.  "The idea is to give legal gun owners – the kind who don't mind being known to the government – a way to see which public places NEED them to carry."  I'm not sure this is actually a good idea, but it is certainly innovative thinking.

Kuiper Belt objectsNo idea what to make of this: Caltech researchers have found evidence of "planet nine", a giant planet tracing a bizarre highly elongated orbit around the sun.  Hmmm... stay tuned on this one, right?  (And queue the Darth Vadar theme song.)

All those Kuiper Belt objects shown at left are orbiting the sun, yet are not considered planets.  Note inclusion of Pluto...

News you maybe could use: Space Gardening 101.  "In a weightless environment, there is no up and down, so roots grow in all directions. Water and soil, the materials used to anchor these plants and allow for root growth tend to float away."  Hey, you never know; you might find yourself in space, heading for the Kuiper Belt :)

NASA have helpfully published five signs you might be ready to apply to be an astronaut.  I am!  (Me me pick me)

Exploding Kittens: the appWell of course: Exploding Kittens is now a multiplayer IOS app.  It was just a year ago those kittens exploded onto the scene, with the biggest Kickstarter ever.

Brian Hall says there is no diversity crisis in tech.  And indeed there isn't.  From the viewpoint of SJWs there's bias, but it is actually a sign of meritocracy.  Not sure how this is going to play out; probably companies will continue pretending they're actively promoting "diversity", while not much will change.

Paul Graham weighs in with a most interesting Way to detect bias.  "What it means for a selection process to be biased against applicants of type x is that it's harder for them to make it through. Which means applicants of type x have to be better to get selected than applicants not of type x. Which means applicants of type x who do make it through the selection process will outperform other successful applicants. And if the performance of all the successful applicants is measured, you'll know if they do."  Cool, right?

Apropos: Stuart Taylor: A little-understood engine of campus unrest: racial admissions preferences.  "It is critical to understand that these are not bad students. They did well in high school and could excel at somewhat less selective universities where they would arrive roughly as well prepared as their classmates.  But due to racial preferences, they find themselves for the first time in their lives competing against classmates who have a huge head start in terms of previous education, academic ability, or both."  If there were affirmative action in tech, the same thing would happen...

Titan!Finally; look at Saturn's magnificent moon, Titan.  (cllck to enbiggen.)  I cannot wait until I can do exactly that!

 
 

Archive: January 21, 2015

Wednesday,  01/21/15  10:14 PM

Windows Holographic headsetToday's big news wasn't last nights #SOTU talk, no, it was today's announcements by Microsoft, about Windows 10 and some new augmented reality software called Windows Holographic. (Where is it written that everything Microsoft do has to be called "Windows X".  Anyway.)  It looks pretty amazing.  Of course this tech will be used for gaming, but who knows what else, too?  I'm starting to think shopping - in virtual stores - might be a big application.  Coupled with visual search, of course!

And so, what will Google Glass 2.0 need to succeed?  The commenters on Slashdot have focused on hardware and software answers, as is their wont, but to me the answer needs to take the form of a market opportunity, an unmet need that smart glasses can fulfill. And one beyond gaming.

Astronaut Scott KellyLittle commented on among the #SOTU discussion, President Obama mentioned the U.S.' "re-engergized space program", and astronaut Scott Kelly, who's about to leave Earth for a one year tour abord the ISS.  Of course, he's going to get there in a Russian spaceship, despite the SpaceX resupply missions.  "Good Luck captain, and make sure to Instagram it!"

may the farce be with youThis is one awesome lightsaber battle.  May the Farce be with you.  Absolutely no movies have spawned as many fan-created sequels, parodies, and tributes as Star Wars.  Can't wait for the next one!

Finn sailor Oli TweddellThis is cool:  My name is Oli Tweddell, and I sail for Australia. For anyone who thinks dinghy racing is not a real sport.  But where are the deck chairs for lounging?

the Frilled SharkAnd here we have the ancient and venerable Frilled Shark, an 80 million-year old design which is still with us.  Awesome.

 

climbing the Dawn Wall

Wednesday,  01/21/15  10:38 PM

Wow, this is amazing...  Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson just completed the first ever free climb of the Dawn Wall of Yosemite's El Capitan.  It's been called the most difficult climb ever completed.

Jason Kottke describes the whole thing, with links to a video of the climb, as well as the NYTimes awesome interactive map showing the climb itself as well as a huge zoomable picture of the El Capitain, a thumbnail of which is shown above (click to enbiggen).  Incredible!

 
 

Archive: January 20, 2014

caps locked (NY140106)

Monday,  01/20/14  11:21 PM

 

hehe :)

 

 

the United Nations of Programming

Monday,  01/20/14  11:27 PM

So if you ever want to see globalization in action, just post five ads for six positions at two different companies requiring four different programming skillsets. 

I have recently done this, and have been flooded with applicants from all over the world.  Literally.  We're talking 327 resumes from engineers in places like (in no particular order) Sao Paulo, Lima, Istanbul, Leskovac (had to look that one up), Lahore, Dar es Salaam, Beiruit, Alexandria, Torun (had to look that up too), Indore, Bangalore, St Catherine's (Jamaica), Rome, Shanghai, Pune, Warsaw, Barcelona, Kiev, Voronesh (Russia), and Chennai, just to name a few.

And these are not just tire kicks; when I get a resume, I request a coding exercise, and I score them.  These are honest-to-goodness engineers coding in Java and Objective C and Ruby and C++ for a wide variety of different platforms and environments and applications.  Oh and by the way, all these people communicate in English.

It's completely amazing to me.  The United Nations of Programming.

 

Monday,  01/20/14  11:40 PM

too much video!Whew, I am resume-ed out.  If I look at another coding exercise tonight, I'll explode.  I can however blog...

So I have a question: when you see a link to a video, in email, or your RSS reader, or on Facebook, or wherever, are you more or less likely to click on it than you would a link to a text page.  For me, I am way less likely.  I cannot stand watching most videos.  It has to be really awesome right away or I'm clicking back.  You, too?

Martin Luther KingCNN: The Legacy of Martin Luther King.  A cool photo series to celebrate a cool guy.  Wish we had some cooler heads speaking these days...


Marshawn LynchDid you enjoy the football over the weekend?  I did!  Ate a lot, saw some friends, and watched some good teams play some great games.  Going in I was pulling for the overdogs, and at this point I'm rooting for the Seahawks over Denver...

(I'm sure it is a complete coincidence that the two teams in the Super Bowl are from the two states that have legalized marijuana.)

Global Warming skepticism reaches six-year high.  This wouldn't have anything to do with the polar vortex which froze most of North America for two weeks, would it?  Climate isn't weather.  Then again, absence of proof is not proof of absence. 


golden doughnut skyscraper in GuangzhouGolden Doughnut-shaped skyscraper completed in Guangzhou.  Awesome!

Sports Illustrated swimsuit editionVanity Fair: Fifty years of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.  It really is a good article, you should read it.  Most interesting to me was the evolution of sports; fifty years ago SI was a niche magazine.

Somewhat related: The financial benefits of being beautiful.  I get that being good looking leads to success - especially if you're a swimsuit model - but I also want to know if the things that make you successful make you better looking.  It could go both ways.

And meanwhile: Aerie's unretouched ads challenge supermodel standards for young women.  Looking at the pictures, not so much.  They just found women who were great looking without makeup and Photoshop.

Wow: HP offers Win 7 on new PCs "by popular demand".  Looks like Win 8 really is Vista revisited.


the microverseAnd finally ... the microverse!  Excellent.

 
 

Archive: January 6, 2013

checking in after ten years

Sunday,  01/06/13  06:01 PM

Happy 2013!Greetings blog friends, and Happy New Year.  Yes, it is 2013 (yay!), and yes, it has now been over a year since I've posted regularly over here; I'm posting daily on my Facebook, and it's all public, so if you'd like please subscribe to me over there.  I know, I know, it's not the same - and I'm not ruling out returning to more or less daily blogging - but I have no immediate plans to do so.

I did want to check in because it has now been ten years since I started blogging.  Wow.  During that time I have posted 2,618 entries incorporating 7,556 pictures, and they're all still  online and accessible.  I like having that history, and love being able to go back and see what I was thinking around a given time.  (For example, during last fall's presidential election, it was so cool to visit blog posts from October 2008 and October 2004.)  You might be interested to know this blog is entirely home grown and lives on a server in a closet of my house, and yes, that server is a Pentium II from 1999, and yes, it is running RedHat Linux 8, and yes, it is stable as hell.  Old technology for an old blog :)

I do still intend to recover from my extreme Yak shaving and come out the other end with a blog I can completely maintain via email.  As I've shifted more and more of my daily spelunking to my iPad this has become more and more pressing.  Or speaking of pressing, I could move the whole thing to WordPress... hmmm.

 

2012 revisited!

Sunday,  01/06/13  07:14 PM

Something new...For the past ten years I've had the annual ritual of updating my blog's navigation bar with "this date in" links for the prior year.  As I added '12 to the list it occurred to me, there's not much there; I did my daily posting on Facebook.  Boo.

On 9/11 this year I posted my usual remembrance and on that occasion also paused to revisit everything that had happened in the past year. That was a pretty cool list to have (for me anyway).  So in lieu of having personal history in my blog archive, here's that list again, updated...

2012 revisited:

So what's next? Well, I'm still living on Westlake Island, and still working for Aperio. But I do have some cool new projects cooking, and I'm totally excited about 2013...

Please stay tuned and I'll keep you posted!

 
 

Archive: January 13, 2012

|||moved|||

Friday,  01/13/12  11:57 PM

Well I'm moved.  And I now have FIOS!  And I like it; it's seriously faster than the DSL I had before.  And after two days of unboxing and messing around and running cables and configuring routers and ... whew, my servers are back up, and the bits you are reading right now came from deep inside a closet of my new house.  Yay.


my new blogstation

Also yay: the Tivo HD is up and online via FIOS without any problems.  And the AppleTV is up and running too, with HD movies now streaming in realtime.  All good.

I shall have more to say "soon" - assuming I ever get back to blogging, that is - please stay tuned...

 
 

Archive: January 21, 2011

squirrel appreciation day

Friday,  01/21/11  06:50 PM

Did you know?  Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day.  How awesome is that?

I know you know, but Eichhorn means "squirrel" in German...

 

 
 

Archive: January 17, 2010

Jets shock Chargers

Sunday,  01/17/10  09:24 PM

And so today my friend Yogi and I made our annual pilgrimage down to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to watch the Chargers in a playoff game.  Last year the Bolts shocked the Colts, in one of the best games ever (overtime, baby!); this year they fell short against a Jets team that just wanted it more.  Not to mention, the Charger's all-pro placekicker Nate Kaeding missed three field goals, any one of which would have kept them in the game.  So be it.  The view was wonderful (front row again!) and the hot dogs were great, and it was a day well spent.


the obligatory panoramic view of Qualcomm Stadium
(click to enbiggen)


me and my football watching friend Yogi
he claimed to be rooting for the Chargers, but is a closet Jets fan, I know

(note the lack of anything between us and the field :)


Nate Kaeding prepares for one of his three missed field goals
perhaps he shouldn't have warmed up


once again this year we forgive the Charger Girls for blocking our view
dance dance dance


as the clock ticks down to 0:00, the Jets prevail
argh!  wait 'till next year

Some random observations:

  • The front row is all very exciting, but next year we're sitting higher.  And I do mean sitting, because in the front row you stand the entire game.  Not great on a day following riding a century :)
  • One of the cameras is mounted on a cherry picker which drives up and down the sideline, all game long.  Except in this game, they had two cameras on two cherry pickers right next to each other.  Huh?  Aha - ESPN is recording everything in 3D.  They don't have a way to show it yet, but they're getting ready.  Excellent.
  • Those Charger Girls are not only attractive, they work hard.  They're dancing pretty much continuously for three hours, what a workout.  Yes I did happen to notice.
  • Once again I was struck by the physicality of crowd noise.  You think you're hearing it loud on TV, but that's a mere echo of the WALL OF SOUND generated by a screaming crowd of 70,000 people.  Wow.

Until next year...  over and out.

 

Edie Brickell: Good Times

Sunday,  01/17/10  10:17 PM

Do you remember Windows 95?  Cast your mind back, waaay back in time...  ah yes, I sure remember; in fact I was running pre-release builds of "Chicago" for nearly two years before it was finally released.  One of the key cool new things in this groundbreaking OS was support for multimedia.  What a concept!  Previous to Win95 there was Video for Windows, an add-on to Windows 3.1, but with Win95 for the first time the OS itself had support for audio and video and graphics and so on...  big stuff.  And to demonstrate these new capabilities, Microsoft bundled a video with the OS, and it just happened to be Edie Brickell singing Good Times.  I remember that so well, double-clicking that movie, and watching it play.  I liked the song and the video (and the artist!) but I loved the way it just worked, kind of like a peek into the future.

Just the other day I came across this very video on YouTube, and it took me back with incredible nostalia:

Good Times indeed!

 
 

Archive: January 21, 2009

Wednesday,  01/21/09  11:44 PM

Rotten day.  Up early, tired, couldn't get anything "done", to-do list kept expanding.  Wasted time on frivolity and regretted it.  Tried to ride my way out of it, but then had a crummy dinner.  Blech.

The only bright spot in my day was reading Thirteen over dinner.  I'm really enjoying it.  Also discovered yet another virtue of the Kindle; in a dim restaurant you can make the font larger.  Try that with a book!

Brock Tully spreads kindness on his bikeBrock Tully spreads goodwill on solo cycling trips.  Good for him.  "Most importantly, I need to be the change I want to see in the world."

In case it is of use, and so I can find it later: Fifty extremely useful PHP tools.  One of the great things about using PHP is that you're not the only one.

The New Yorker find more good news about red win: Mouse au vin.  "Red wine may be much more potent than was thought in extending human lifespan, researchers say in a new report that is likely to give impetus to the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs."  Excellent.  Bad times call for good wines.

Obama fixing healthcareSo, we have a new President, and he wants to "fix" healthcare.  What should he do?  The problem is Getting There from Here.  A great overview, it asks more questions than it answers, but at least they're the right ones...

Reminds me of The New New Thing, Michael Lewis' great book about Jim Clark, who at that time had just started Healtheon, which was formed to "fix heathcare".  That company busted its pick on the problem; it had a successful IPO in 1999 and merged with WebMD, but it never "fixed healthcare".

Apple just announced record results for 08Q4, and COO Tim Cook noted "AppleTV sales were up three times what they were during the year-ago quarter".  They still describe the Apple TV as a hobby, but Cook noted, "We think there’s something there."  Prompting John Gruber to observe: "Double here, triple there, and next thing you know they’re going to have something. You wait and see."  I think that's right.  In my house we've all but stopped going to Blockbuster, and Netflix never really got any traction.  The AppleTV definitely hits the spot.

 
 

Archive: January 21, 2008

spaced out

Monday,  01/21/08  01:05 AM

Okay, time to get spaced out!

I have accumulated a number of juicy links about one of my favorite subjects - space, and especially planetary exploration - and here they are, for your clicking pleasure...

  • Hubble's Largest Galaxy Portrait Offers a New High-Definition View.  Wow.  The largest and most detailed photo of a spiral galaxy that has ever been released; it is composed of 51 individual Hubble exposures, in addition to elements from images from ground-based photos. The final composite image measures 16,000 by 12,000 pixels.  And is beautiful, too...
  • NASA's Cassini Discovers Potential Liquid Water on Enceladus.  NASA's Cassini spacecraft may have found evidence of liquid water reservoirs that erupt in Yellowstone-like geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus.  The rare occurrence of liquid water so near the surface raises many new questions about the mysterious moon.
  • Cassini's View of Jupiter's South Pole.   Cassini took many photographs of Jupiter on the way to Saturn, including this unusual montage of its southern pole. This photograph was made up of 36 separate images, stitched together on computer.
  • Saturn's moon 'best bet for life'.  Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus may be the best place to look for life elsewhere in the Solar System.  That is the view of a senior scientist working on the Cassini spacecraft, which has been studying Saturn and its moons for nearly two years.
  • Titan Descent Data Movie with Bells and Whistles.  This movie, built with data collected during the European Space Agency's Huygens probe on Jan. 14, 2005, shows the operation of the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer camera during its descent and after touchdown. The camera was funded by NASA.
  • Lakes on Titan!  The Cassini spacecraft, using its radar system, has discovered very strong evidence for hydrocarbon lakes on Titan. Dark patches, which resemble terrestrial lakes, seem to be sprinkled all over the high latitudes surrounding Titan's north pole.
  • Marooned Mars rover returns stunning panorama.  The most detailed panoramic view ever obtained on Mars has been returned by NASA's Spirit rover in time to mark its 1000th Martian day, or sol, on the Red Planet.  A total of 1449 individual images representing 500 megabytes of raw data were acquired for the view, called the McMurdo panorama.
  • Image archive: the top 100 photographs taken by the Hubble space telescope.  Can you choose a favorite?  Mine would have to be the glowing eye of NGC6751.  Absolutely stunning.  And to think how large it is!
  • Mountain range spotted on Titan.  The Cassini spacecraft has spied the tallest mountains yet seen on Titan, Saturn's major moon.  The range is about 150km long (93 miles), 30km (19 miles) wide and about 1.5km (nearly a mile) high.
  • Cassini Finds Lakes On Titan's Arctic Region.  NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found lakes on Saturn's moon Titan.  The lakes are most likely the source of hydrocarbon smog in the frigid moon's atmosphere.  Finding the source of the complex soup of hydrocarbons in Titan's atmosphere has been a major goal for the Cassini mission and is a significant accomplishment.
  • Here's a gallery of the best images taken by Cassini of Saturn and its moons.  Can you choose a favorite?  It isn't easy, but I rather like the movie of Hyperion tumbling toward Cassini.  Totally looks like something from Star Wars.  Can you imaging actually looking out the window and seeing that?  I can...
  • Can Titan be our future home?  Titan is the largest moon of Saturn and the second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter’s Ganymede.  Titan is also the only moon in the soar system with a dense atmosphere that is even denser than that at Earth.  Studies have demonstrated that the most important and advantageous target in the solar system for colonization is Titan.  Yes!
  • Pluto status suffers another blow.  Not only has it been demoted from planet to "dwarf planet", research now shows that it cannot even lay claim to being the biggest of these.  A study has confirmed that the dwarf planet Eris - whose discovery prompted Pluto's relegation from planet to dwarf - outranks it in mass.  So be it.
  • Here's more information about Hyperion, including some awesome high-resolution pictures.  New images of Hyperion taken by the Cassini Spacecraft on September 26, 2005 will forever change our understanding of this new world. These pictures show a surface dotted with craters and modified by some process, not yet understood, to create a strange, "spongy" appearance, unlike the surface of any other Saturn moon.
  • Though colder than Earth, Titan is tropical in nature.  If space travelers ever visit Saturn’s largest moon, they will find a tropical world where temperatures plunge to minus 274 degrees Fahrenheit, methane rains from the sky and dunes of ice or tar cover the planet’s most arid regions. These conditions reflect a cold mirror image of Earth’s tropical and subtropical climates, according to scientists.

You're welcome!

 

black women voting

Monday,  01/21/08  12:34 PM

Barack and HillaryI saw this headline on CNN this morning: Black women voters face tough choices.  This is about the South Carolina democratic primary, and the two leading candidates are of course Hillary Clinton, a white woman, and Barack Obama, a black man.  The implication is that if you're a black woman, you're torn between voting for someone of your gender, or someone of your race.  But when you take a step back, isn't that a little weird?

All other things being equal, people might favor a candidate who is of their race or gender.  But all things are definitely not equal, every candidate is a unique person with different experience, capabilities, opinions, etc.  Wouldn't those things be more important?  And why is it a good thing for a candidate to share your race or gender?  Is there an implication that they'll make decisions more favorable to you (to your race, or your gender) than other candidates?  There might be something to that, but not much.  Barack hasn't run on a platform of improving things for blacks, and Hillary hasn't featured women's issues in her campaign.  If either did they would risk alienating everyone else, not to mention policies which help one group at the expense of others generally aren't the best ones anyway.

At the highest level it seems shallow for CNN to think that black women voters face a tough choice between Barack and Hillary on account of race or gender.  It might indeed be a tough choice - it is for me, for example, and I'm a white man! - but not because of such a simple association.

 

Monday,  01/21/08  07:30 PM

Blogging I be...  Yoda I be not.

I saw where Ann Althouse had a similar (although more sarcastic) take to mine on the CNN story about black women voters.  This ties in nicely with Christopher Hitchens article in Slate: Huck's free pass (Why are the media ignoring Mike Huckabee's remarks about the Confederate flag?)  "In this country, it seems that you can always get an argument going about "race" as long as it is guaranteed to be phony, but never when it is real."  That really does seem to be the case.  Any real discussion about race is off the table as being too explosive.

Kind of like what happened with James Watson, the Nobel-prizewinning biochemist who discovered the structure of DNA; he told the inconvenient truth, and faced the consequences.  Even if you disagreed with him, you could have the debate, but in today's environment even having that discussion was impossible.

BTW, if I ever had any thoughts about voting for Huckabee, and I don't think I did, this would have killed them dead.  At this point he is just taking up bandwidth in the conversation, he's no longer a serious candidate.

Gary Kamiya thinks the Republicans are a Dead party walking.  "The GOP candidates are a feeble group of Bush imitators tied to his disastrous war. And unless the surge turns into a miracle, even front-runner McCain won't beat a Democrat."  This is reckless precelebration.  The Republicans might be the Dems best friends, but they are their own worst enemies.

Steven Dubner and Steven Levitt - of Freakonomics fame - consider Unintended Consequences in the NYTimes today.  "Does this mean that every law designed to help endangered animals, poor people, and the disabled is bound to fail?  Of course not.  But... if there is any law more powerful than the ones constructed in a place like Washington, it is the law of unintended consequences."  So very true, most of the time when the government tries to get involved, they don't help.  Ann Althouse notes: "Reading this terrific essay, I thought it should be necessary to acknowledge the famous Ronald Reagan line: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'""  Absolutely, and well worth keeping in mind as we watch the Presidential candidates promise to get our government involved to fix everything.

One more political note, I often enjoy James Taranto's column in the WSJ.  Today he notes: "This column generally tries to avoid taking shots at Andrew Sullivan, on the theory that it would be unsporting to do so. But a post over the weekend is so crazy that it's worth noting.Here it is, and yes it is crazy.  I've come a long way on Andrew Sullivan, from liking him, to disliking him, to being rather disturbed by him, to ignoring him.  As James says, "Sullivan thus becomes the only person ever to suggest that there's a vast right-wing conspiracy working for Mrs. Clinton."  Blech.

Floyd Landis in yellowLongtime readers know, I'm a huge fan of Floyd Landis, disgraced winner of the 2006 Tour de France.  Velonews carries an interesting interview with him.  You might think he hasn't proven his innocence, I think he hasn't been proven guilty.  Either way it is too bad it lingers...

uncov: failSo this is rather sad: Ted Dziuba of Uncov posted about the Crunchies awards (Crunchies. Ingredients: Fail), and winds up "Oh, right. One more thing. This is the last Uncov. Ever. I have been getting tired of it, and this has been manifesting itself in my writing. After seeing the spectacle at the Crunchies, I think it's finally time to quit."  Noooo!!!!!!!  What will we do without Uncov?  Already "Fail" has become a part of my daily lexicon, and when I use it people know exactly what I mean.  Maybe the Crunchies hangover will wear off, we can only hope.

Cory Doctorow notes we have Wubi!  "It's an installer package that lets Windows users install Ubuntu Linux like any other Windows app, without worrying about disk partitions and whatnot."  Sounds cool, but I suspect it is a dancing bear; that is, the fact that it does what it does is cool, but not useful.  Still, might be worth a try as an alternative to real work some afternoon :)

 
 

Archive: January 21, 2007

 

Archive: January 21, 2006

 

Archive: January 3, 2005

Monday,  01/03/05  10:30 PM

Now I'm in San Diego, and it's still raining.  What!  This is Southern California, it never rains here.  Anyway here's what else is happening:

David Hornik's New Year's Resolution is the same this year as it has been every year; he wants to meet great entrepreneurs.  So what makes a great entrepreneur?  One thing.  You must be able to convince others to believe in you.  That's it.  If you can do that, you can raise money, you can recruit people, and you can do anything.  If you can't do that, you'll have trouble raising money and recruiting people, and it won't matter how great your ideas.

vitamin D structureRandall Parker reports Vitamin D could decrease overall cancer risk by 30%.  "A long-term study of 50,000 men by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health suggests vitamin D may reduce the risk of all cancers.  The study, which is still under review for publication, found that men who consumed higher levels of vitamin D reduced their overall cancer risk by at least 30 percent...  a separate study of women is expected to produce similar results."  Wow, 30%?  That's really moving the needle.

I have to report - TivoToGo is live!  This feature allows people to copy video from their Tivo to their Windows PC.  Or course, the video is DRMed.  And I want video to go the other way, from my PC to my Tivo...  [ via George Hotelling ]

Tropical Island dome - Eastern GermanyTropical Island dome - Eastern GermanyHere are some pictures from the Tropical Island dome; a converted zeppelin hanger which is now a beach resort in Eastern Germany.   This building is three football fields long, and taller than the Statue of Liberty.  Wow.

Okay, you knew this was going to happen; the Vonage WiFi phone.  Yep, this is a cell phone, except it's not; it's a cordless phone, except it's not.  Well, it's a working phone and it is cordless, and it's practically free.

Vonage cordless phoneOh, look, another Vonage cordless phone.  Only this one doesn't use WiFi, it has it's own 5.8GHz wireless receiver.  For ten points explain the difference :)

Either way, VoIP is taking over.  It is only a matter of time, now, before analog phones are history.

the hobbit holeFinally, here we have a hobbit hole, inhabited by humans.  "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."  Proving once again that just when you think you've seen everything, you realize "everything" is so much more than you realized :)  [ via Clive Thompson ]

 

two years ago

Monday,  01/03/05  11:46 PM

Now that I've been blogging for over two years, I added another link to my sidebar: Two years ago.  Kind of fun to see what was happening...  Two years ago I had just started blogging, and I posted my plan for my book.  Sigh.  And Steven Den Beste was pondering the [upcoming] war in Iraq...  Double sigh.

Know what would be really cool?  A a link to one year into the future :)

The Great Wave off KanagawaP.S. I also added a link to Amazon's Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund Donation page.  Just in case the urge strikes you to help while you're reading my blog.  I decided to use an image of the classic woodcut "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", by Katsushika Hokusai, depicting a tsunami in 1831.  "Oddly, though it's a sea storm, the sun is shining..."

 
 

Archive: January 19, 2004

Monday,  01/19/04  10:39 PM

Man, it is busy out there!  It's all happening...

So let me start tonight with Kerry's (and Edward's!) victories over Dean in Iowa.  They say Iowans don't pick the winner, but they prune the field.  So Gephardt is out, and Dean has lost momentum, if not the race.

Doc Searles, who is an ardent Dean supporter, lets the roots speak.  The results, and the emotions.  He also observes "The best looking candidates won in Iowa...  Kerry and Edwards aren't just the best looking candidates, but the best-talking ones as well.  They are practiced and excellent public speakers.  As message delivery boys, they hit the porch every time.  Dean is an okay speaker.  He's not great."  Is communication important?  Yes.

It is pretty tough to follow "everything" in a campaign these days; Taegan Goddard posted this wonderful quote from Michael Barone: "In the 1980s, I believed that you could cover a presidential election from five rooms--the morning meetings of the two campaigns, where the day's message was set, and the afternoon meetings of the three networks, where executives decided what part of that message would make the evening news...  But today you couldn't cover the 2004 fall campaign from 100 rooms.  Too much of it will be going on over back fences and on the Internet."

Dave Winer premiered an RSS feed for political junkies following Dean: Channel Dean.

My favorite way to follow the campaign is The Command Post, which has a 2004 Presidential Election feed.  What a wonderful resource.  I love comparing their timeliness and accuracy against "big media"; they are consistently better.

Martin Luther King Day.  Doc Searles posted a picture of a plaque with this quote:  "Through our scientific genius, we have made this world a neighborhood; now, through our moral and spiritual development, we must make of it a brotherhood.  In a real sense, we must learn to live together as brothers, or we will perish together as fools."  Amen.

Did you know 35 countries have troops in Iraq?  Unilateral action, eh?

Steven Den Beste lauds Japan as an unsung ally.  "Japan has emerged as the second most reliable ally we have."  Who would have thought...

As I was spacing out the other day, I noted a difficulty of manned space missions lies in the need for return.  Space.com contemplates the Helium-3 found on the moon.  "Helium 3 fusion energy may be the key to future space exploration and settlement."  It could be a "cash crop", or merely fuel for a return voyage, or a trip to Mars...

Yahoo!is cheering again, as are their shareholders; AlwaysOn reports Yahoo emerging from dot-com gloom.  "Yahoo's comeback represents another hopeful sign for the high-tech industry.  As more people get high-speed Internet connections in their homes and invest in portable devices to stay online, tech leaders also are reporting higher profits."  I don't use Yahoo nearly as much as I used to, thanks to Google, but they have a huge variety of useful services.

Apropos, the NYTimes reports Television Commercials Come to the Web.  "Beginning tomorrow, more than a dozen Web sites will run full-motion video commercials in a six-week test that some analysts and online executives say could herald the start of a new era of Internet advertising."  Yuk.  How soon before someone builds a free tool to disable them?

Joi Ito links some excellent articles on writing, including this one: Ten Mistakes Writers Don't See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do).  Really great stuff.

Ottmar Liebert ponders the difference between Musiker and Musikant ("craftsman" and "artist").  "Think of a musician who plays only cover tunes...  Not art, but a lot of craft.  On the other hand a punk guitarist who knows only two or three chords may be an artist because of his vision.  Not a lot of craft, but art.  Very tricky, this stuff, isn't it?"  Then there is Ottmar himself, who is both :)

OpenSynth Neko64 synthesizerIs this the musical instrument of the future?  The OpenSynth Neko64 has a music keyboard, and a computer keyboard.  With dual AMD 64-bit Opterons, 64MB of memory, and MIDI interfaces.  And it runs Windows.

Vertical Hold wonders about Radiohead's desire that their albums be played all in one piece.  "My CD player has a random feature. Am I allowed to listen to the Radiohead album on random play?  If my house were to catch on fire while I was listening to the Radiohead album, would I be allowed to escape certain death if it meant not hearing the whole album?"  If they regard the album as one piece, why not release it that way?  On the other hand, few people play the movements in Vivaldi's Four Seasons out of order.

I love Adam Curry's Quote of the Day series.  Yesterday's was from Eric Hoffer: "You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you."  Indeed.Big Hair!

More Adam: He notes Big Hair is back!  You have been warned...

And finally, the Joke of the Day, courtesy of Citizen Smash: The Cow from Minsk.

 

The Grand Canyon of Mars

Monday,  01/19/04  11:46 PM

The ESA's Mars Express orbiter has begun taking some phenomenal high-resolution photos of Mars.  This image shows a region of Valles Marineris ("the Grand Canyon").

Valles Marineris (the Grand Canyon of Mars)

(click image for full-size interactive viewer)

Be sure to hit F11 to maximize your browser's window so you can see as much of the image as possible.

As usual, I upsampled the image and am serving it with Aperio's image server software.

 
 

Archive: January+21,+2003

Tuesday,  01/21/03  11:25 PM

Nicolas Negroponte: "Creating a Culture of Ideas".

Projection keyboards, the next big thing.  Perfect for my little Treo.  (Thanks, Marc)

More from Paul Graham on Bayesian Spam Filtering...

The web is so cool.  Here's a French site about Citidesk, with a referral to my article on frames!  (Can anyone translate "écrit-il"?)

If you have fifteen minutes and want to laugh, this one's for you.

Welcome to the newest member of my blogroll, Surfin' Safari, a 'blog by Dave Hyatt, one of Apple's Safari web browser developers.  I don't know why I like it, but I seem to visit it just about every day, so there.  (For extra credit, click on Dave's Page Theme buttons - how cool!  I have to learn more CSS...  And here's something cool you can do with CSS :)

 
 

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