Archive: February 24, 2024


Archive: February 24, 2023

Friday,  02/24/23  09:36 PM

It is not warm here.  Brrr.

Microsoft Research have released BioGPT: "a large language model trained on biomedical research literature. The model achieves better-than-human performance on answering questions from the biomedical literature, as evaluated on PubMedQA."  Now this seems like a perfect use of this tech; hopefully with no politically correct guardrails... 

James Pethokoukis: In defense of ‘cornucopianism’ and a more populous planet. "It’s no easy task to select just one wrong-headed assertion among so many in the Scientific American essay 'Eight Billion People in the World Is a Crisis, Not an Achievement'."  Things are getting better in general, and worse in specific... 

This is pretty cool: Pentagon releases pilot’s Chinese spy balloon selfie.  Well it's not really a selfie - that would require a picture taken from the balloon itself - but still, cool. 

Excellent read: The Great Dumpling Drama Of Glendale, California.  This is more about malls and mall culture than dumplings.  BTW those dumplings are excellent and we voyage all the way into LA to get them at the Beverly Hills mall... 

Yes, please: stop doing threads.  Yes, we know where the 140 character limit came from, and it's cute and all, but there must be a way to do longer-form articles ... like blogging! 

Matt Webb is Tinkering with hyperlinks.  "Hyperlinks should look different if it’s busy at the other end. Like: maybe they should be noisy, or glow, or have a yellow halo that gets bigger and bigger."  What a great idea :) 

Liron Shapira: one weird trick to sanity-check any startup idea.  It is: describe a specific customer use case.  Seems pretty straightforward and yet, many startups address a [perceived] general need without addressing an [actual] specific one. 

Love this: 20 Mechanical Principles Combined in a Useless Lego Machine.  It's not useless, because it's a useful demonstration. 

Well: California is racing to electrify trucks. Can the industry keep up?  As always, the tension between "clean" and "economic".  Economic will always win, but clean and economic is even better. 

Note: "economic" includes government subsidies.

via Elon Musk: Mouse bait

Dave Winer: the devolution of the web.  This hits pretty close to home. 

Well, off into the weekend.  Stay warm, everyone! 


Archive: February 24, 2022


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Archive: February 24, 2015


Archive: February 24, 2014

Amgen Tour + Rockstore!

Monday,  02/24/14  10:05 PM

The Amgen Tour of California route for 2014 has been announced, and yippee the final stage is the same as the final stage in 2010, a four-lap circuit around Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village which includes the infamous Rockstore climb. 

ATOC 2014 stage 8 - click to enbiggen

You will remember Michael Rogers won that year, outlasting David Zabriske and Levi Leipheimer, who attacked repeatedly but couldn't get any distance.  (Man, I must tell you, just typing those names brings back nostalgia; at that was just four years ago!)

I rode that very Rockstore climb today, as I often do ... it takes me about 20 minutes, and it will take the pro peloton quite a lot less. Mark your calendar, May 18.  I can't wait, this will be awesome!


Monday,  02/24/14  10:18 PM

A nice and productive day today; spent the first half of it cycling, acting as an invited tour guide for the CorpsCamp, the second half of it happily coding and spelunking around in IOS, and the third half of it drinking Pinot with the people I rode with this morning.  Yay.  In the meantime, it's all happening...

Just blogged about the Amgen Tour of California coming back to ride Rockstore; here's a picture I took today from the overlook at the top, looking back down the climb...  (click to enbiggen)

This looks excellent: the Woman Who Stopped Traffic.  Self-published on Amazon.  Added to the to-read list! 

Interesting how a "book" like this one still needs a cover.  Kind of like the way an "album" published on iTunes still needs one too, or a "movie" published on YouTube.  I guess we need that icon which stands for the thing, even when the thing itself has changed form.

You may have heard, under Marissa Mayer Yahoo are making a major push back into search.  I hadn't realized, but in order to do so they must slip through a Microsoft loophole.  Perhaps Visual Search will be key for them in doing so! 

Too awesome: brass instrument phone amp.  Yes of course I want one. 

iTunes critic Jamie Zaworski reports on the great recoding.  "I just had to re-encode ~700 music videos that ITunes 11 has decided it won't play. That was about 14% of them, 20GB. So that was annoying."  After a bit of digging he automated the process, and tells us all how.  "Perhaps if I build an airplane tail section of out palm fronds, the cargo will return."  This is the annoying thing about Apple, they do this stuff... 

Seth Godin riffs on genes and memes.  "Consider the growth of guacamole as an idea. In less than a generation, it went from an unknown delicacy to something commonplace."  The successful meme replicates rapidly with good fidelity, and does not kill the host :) 

Oh how I love this: Put a propeller on it, the golden age of tinkering.  You are looking at a picture of a "railplane", from 1930.  Yes that was a real thing, in Glasgow, Scotland.  The other pictures in this post are equally great, you must click through to read it. 

John Gruber links Benedict Evans on WhatsApp.  "In the pre-mobile world, you did stuff with photos hours or even days after you took them. Today, you do stuff with them moments after taking them.Hmmm... 

This seems ridiculous: Islamic leaders ruled that a Mars journey would be akin to suicide.  Seriously.  The 1,500-year-old religion needs to make it into the 21st century, right?  (Yes that's right, Islam is much newer than Christianity, which of course is much newer than Judaism.) 

Interesting: Alibaba-backed Quixey enlists mobile developers to take on Google.  Quixey have been trying to solve a real problem - discovery of mobile apps.  The Apple, Google, and Amazon app stores have not done this for us, and there may be an opportunity for Quixey to do it for them.  The real problem is enabling deep linking, and seems like someone will crack this code. 

So that's all about IOS and Android, but what about Windows Mobile?  There are fewer apps so perhaps discovering them would be easier.  Meanwhile Microsoft is wrapping mobile websites and calling them apps, complicating the process. 

Looks like Jeff Atwood would like this capability, as an antidote for the App-pocalpse.  "...apparently the web is dead, and mobile apps are the future. I'm doing my best to resist a sudden uncontrollable urge to use my Ledge Finder app to find the nearest ledge to jump from right now."  Hehe. 

And as usual, xkcd nails it :) 

Today's ZooBorn: A Sichuan Takin.  Kind of like a goat-antelope.  Cute when little...



Archive: February 24, 2013


Archive: February 24, 2012


Archive: February 24, 2011

back to Earth

Thursday,  02/24/11  09:58 PM

I am back to Earth, literally and figuratively, whew.  When last you left me, I was high in the sky, blogging, on my way to the HIMSS Venture Fair in Orlando.  That went well, you can read all about it in my report on my Aperio blog, but the return trip was a series of disasters; I didn't get back until midday Monday.  (see diagram at right :)  So be it, whew.  And then it was home for a night, and the rest of this week has been spent attending and presenting at Aperio's annual sales meeting. 

A highlight was distributing the Team Aperio 2010 mugs (see at left); a tradition I started and of which I am inordinately proud; this is now the eighth year.  (Yes the mugs are collectors items, especially the early ones of which so few were made.)

Anyway today was my first "normal" day in quite a while, and there is little peace ahead, as I leave for San Antonio and the USCAP conference on Saturday.  Double whew!  Still there is much else going on in the world, let's take a look...

I am surprised that my Jobsnotes of note post hasn't received more traffic.  Doesn't everyone need to see these?  Guess not :)  Anyway I am prepared to add to my collection as the iPad 2 announcement appears nigh... 

Apple smacks Readability in the face with subscription rules.  Huh.  Seems like this will just push services like Readability out onto the web; that does not seem to be in Apple's best interest.  And they are very good at tuning things to be in their best interest :) 

Josh Newman considers dining hall trays: What a tool.  "Of course, it isn’t just dinner plates and dining hall trays. Indeed, nearly all of modern life seems to operate at the same juncture of manufactured stuff and unclear self-assessment; thus, we make things, which in turn re-make us. Which is to say, we create technology (say, a plate) to assist us with an ill-understood instinctive behavior (eating food), and then find that the technology has led to unexpected consequences in the very behavior itself (how much of the food we eat)."  I would put smartphones in this category :) 

TechCrunch's MG Siegler: I Will Check My Phone At Dinner And You Will Deal With It.  Interesting isn't it how quickly protocol regarding this has changed?  I distinctly remember a dinner at our house ten years ago with a PayPal colleague who checked his Blackberry during dinner.  Shirley was horrified.  But that was then, this is now.  We do have a "no phone" rule for family dinners, but it does fly in the face of convention. 

Okay one more in this vein: the end of the IT department.  "The companies who feel they can do without an official IT department are growing in number and size. It’s entirely possible to run a 20-man office without ever even considering the need for a computer called 'server' somewhere."  Fascinating.  I wonder how long it will be necessary to have desktop or laptop computers?  Or phone systems?  Seems like handheld computers aka smartphones might trump them all. 

Among the many things I don't get, Quora is one of them.  I gather it is a place where one asks questions, and your friends answer?  Huh.  I feel like posting "why should I use Quora", but I'm entirely confident of getting negative noise in response.  Anyway... TechCrunch compares StackExchange to Quora, a truly weird comparison.  I *get* StackExchange, it's a place to ask technical questions.  The signal to noise is rather high, due to a Slashdot-like rating system. 

A great article from McKinsey: The Programmers Dilemma, building a Jeopardy champion.  To me, playing Jeopardy comes much closer to passing a Turing Test than defeating grandmasters at chess.  The natural language parsing involved is ferocious.  Just shows that while progress in artificial intelligence is slow, it remains steady.  One day we'll be interacting with computers as if they are beings, and we won't even find it remarkable. 

My colleague Kiran tells me the Dutch are doing well at the Cricket World Cup.  The Dutch play cricket?  There's a World Cup going on?  Who knew... anyway, Go Oranje

Wouldn't you agree, no sport anywhere is as inscrutable to non-fans as cricket?

Yes!  Mount Baldy could decide Tour of California.  I cannot wait, and yes of course I will be there; would not miss it.  In fact as per previous years when I've climbed Balcom, Palomar, and (last year) Rockstore, I will ride it myself before watching.  I guess we could agree that Levi Leipheimer (left) is the favorite, not only for the Baldy stage but the whole tour.  He's won it three of the last four years, and a mountaintop finish should suit him well. 

This is excellent: Ohio Girl Scouts accepting mobile payments for cookies.  How cool is that?  

Lessons not learned: What happens after Yahoo acquires you.  "Both sides talk about all the wonderful things they will do together. Then reality sets in. They get bogged down trying to overcome integration obstacles, endless meetings, and stifling bureaucracy. The products slow down or stop moving forward entirely. Once they hit the two-year mark and are free to leave, the founders take off. The sites are left to flounder or ride into the sunset. And customers are left holding the bag."  Yikes. 

Most excellent: Incredible yellow treehouse restaurant rises above New Zealand.  This is the kind of thing Inhabitat often blogs about as a planned project, but it would appear this restaurant actually exists

Wrapping up my back-to-Earth post, a King Vulture chick!  Wow, does he ever look out of this world :)



whale of a tale

Thursday,  02/24/11  10:32 PM

From a longtime friend:

If you read a recent front page story of the San Francisco Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines.

She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat.

She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth.

A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farallon Islands (outside the Golden Gate ) and radioed an environmental group for help.

Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her.

They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles.

She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around as she was thanking them.



bam, one year later

Thursday,  02/24/11  10:39 PM

It was one year ago today that I was out riding and was hit by a car.  Bam.

"Could have been so much worse.  Good for about a quart of adrenaline and some philosophical thoughts.  The sky is bluer, girls are prettier, and music sounds better :)  I will not soon forget".

Interestingly it has changed my life.  The sky has remainder bluer, girls have remained prettier, and music has continued to sound better.  And I don't think I will ever forget.  Onward!


Archive: February 24, 2010


Wednesday,  02/24/10  08:39 AM

Hey guess what?

So last night I was out riding and got hit by a car!   Bam.   First time in twenty+ years of riding…   My bike and I went flying across the intersection but we are both okay with only minor scrapes.   Could have been so much worse.   Good for about a quart of adrenaline and some philosophical thoughts.   The sky is bluer, girls are prettier, and music sounds better today :)

I will not soon forget yesterday.  Onward!


Archive: February 24, 2009

in praise of paddle shifting

Tuesday,  02/24/09  11:34 PM

Today in the late afternoon I had a chance to drive from Vista to Palm Desert on wonderful California Route 74 (aka Pines to Palms Highway).  This beautiful road winds its way through the mountains, and ends up descending in a series of spectacular switchbacks from the mountains down into the desert.  You've probable seen this amazing road in any number of car commercials and movie chase scenes.

going down?

So as I'm driving this road - loving it - the true logic of paddle shifting a manual transmission became clear :)

When you see a car with paddles you might think it's sort of pretentious; oh look, someone wants to pretend they're in a race car.  And why have a manual transmission when automatics are so much smoother?

Well, with paddles, you don't have to take your hands off the wheel (and in a series of hairpin turns, you don't want to).  And with a manual transmission, you don't have to brake, you just downshift and the engine does it for you.  Your feet and hands stay in one position, and you have full control over the car.  Flick your fingers, and poof you're in a higher gear, accelerating out of a turn.  Flick again, and poof you downshift and engine brake into the next one.  Flick out, flick in.  Swish swish vroom vroom.  It just works.

You might have to get on a winding descent to appreciate it, but it sure makes sense :)


Tuesday,  02/24/09  11:46 PM

I seem to start a lot of posts with "another long day".  So today was another long day :)  Up with the sun moon, meetings all day, and then drove to Palm Desert to see friends from Ottawa who are out there on holiday, driving the magnificent and excellent Pines to Palms Highway en route.  And then later a drive home, and [of course] blogging...

Some notes from driving home from Palm Desert last night:

  • The wind farm surrounding Interstate 10 near Palm Springs is huge; spooky at night, too.  I guess it is a good source of "clean" energy, but the environmental impact of all those big metal towers is nonzero, and it definitely looks worse than the native desert.  A nuclear power plant tucked into the hills would be prettier.
  • I had a McDonald's Big Mac for the first time in years.  It tasted great.
  • Listening to XM, I heard Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper.  Immediately and involuntarily I yelled "more cowbell" :)

I have to comment parenthetically, how could one blog without Google images?  I want a picture of the Palm Springs wind farm, I Google for it, and poof there are hundreds to choose from.  Amazing.

Okay, wow, is it really February 24th already?  Where is this year going?  Man...  Anyway, let's make a filter pass, shall we:

Did you know President Obama gave a big speech last night?  You might have watched it... or you might have read about it.  In fact, you might have read about it before he gave the speech, because the AP released a review mid-afternoon.  Not really surprising - we all know how the AP shills for Obama, they've been doing this for years now - but pretty blatant... 

BTW here's a helpful translation: What Obama really meant.  From reading the transcripts, it does appear to be a little light on detail, but then that's Obama's M.O., isn't it?

Apparently the budget will create a $634B health care fund.  Wow.  Reagan's nine most terrifying words definitely come to mind...

Google Traffic now has streets.  In which the exclamation "holy balls" is used, and correctly, too.  I was just ruminating on the fact that Google Maps on my Palm is better than my car's built-in GPS, and one of the reasons is realtime traffic info. 

Joel Spolsky: How hard could it be?  Startup static.  "The biggest reason founders stop working on their start-ups is that they get demoralized.  Some people seem to have unlimited self-generated morale.  These almost always succeed.  At the other extreme, there are people who seem to have no ability to do this; they need a boss to motivate them.  In the middle there is a large band of people who have some, but not unlimited, ability to motivate themselves.  These can succeed through careful morale management (and some luck)."  I'm not sure I totally buy this, but it is interesting... 

WSJ: Information wants to be expensive.  Well that's not quite true, information owners want it to be expensive, the information itself wants to be free.  This is the central problem with being an information owner.  Once you give it away, it's gone, and you cannot put the genie back in the bottle. 

Slate: The Jurassic Web.  "The Internet of 1996 is almost unrecognizable compared with what we have today."  Yep.  I for one remember the Internet of 1996 - fondly, I must confess - but it has changed beyond all recognition. 

ZooBorn of the day: Red Panda cubs.  OMG are they cute.



Archive: February 24, 2008


Archive: February 24, 2007


Archive: February 24, 2006

living strong

Friday,  02/24/06  08:42 AM

I support a number of charities, some of them because of the work of my wife, Shirley, who is VP/Fundraising for the Assistance League of Conejo Valley.  But my favorite is the Lance Armstrong Foundation, not only because of Lance, or because of the little yellow wristbands (yeah, they're cool), but because of their work fighting cancer.  I recently made a donation in memory of my friend and ex-partner Daniel Jacoby, who lost his life to cancer.  I'm pretty proud of this:

Sure, I know, it's just a piece of paper.  But I find it inspiring.

It even helps motivate me in my work for Aperio, too; our customers are Pathologists, many of them doing cancer research or treating cancer patients.  Our systems help them do their work faster and more accurately, and if we help them even a little, we're helping the world, too.


Archive: February 24, 2005

Thursday,  02/24/05  11:39 PM

Here's something I agree with 100%: Suppressing Intelligence Research: Hurting Those We Intend to Help, by Linda Gottfredson.  Don't get me started.  Anyway read the article, it makes great points in a very balanced way.  [ via GNXP

If you liked that one, check this out: Anti-racist multicultural math.  "The school department was recently forced to publicly admit that the sixth-grade MCAS math scores have steadily declined over the past three years to the point where 32 percent of sixth-graders are now in the 'warning' or 'needs improvement' category..."  And yet "In 2001 Mr. Young, Mrs. Wyatt and an assortment of other well-paid school administrators, defined the new number-one priority for teaching mathematics, as documented in the curriculum benchmarks, 'Respect for Human Differences - students will live out the system wide core of 'Respect for Human Differences' by demonstrating anti-racist/anti-bias behaviors.'"  I'm not sure unbelievable is the right word.  I actually do believe it. 

Wired wonders Wither the Wall Street Journal?  "The paper still carries a lot of weight in the business world, but some clumsy decisions about web content are making it insignificant in the online world."  I think this is an example of the echo chamber in action.  There are still millions of businesspeople who read the WSJ and who don't even use a computer, let alone know what a blog is... 

Oh, look, the AP now has RSS feeds!  Cool.  I'm going to try their headline news feed, but I'm guessing it will be a firehose.  I'll probably have to rely on bloggers to filter it, first. 

AlwaysOn reports the video rental business generates $8.2B per year.  Wow.  People sure will pay a lot to entertain themselves. 

So, do you think Apple will buy Tivo?  That would be interesting, for sure, but actually I'm not sure what Tivo would bring to Apple's party.  Seems like Apple will be able to execute an IP-based video strategy without them.  George Hotelling reviews the pros and cons...  It would put an end to the Tivo deathwatch :) 

This is a great story.  Monowi, Nebraska, a one-person town with a library.  Why does this make me happy?  I don't know why, but it does.  [ via Mark Frauenfelder

Doc Searles: Without the Smog, everyone would freak.  Yes, you can ski in Los Angeles! 

So, are you following the debate about the  new Google toolbar?  Apparently it automatically highlights terms in whatever you're browsing; essentially, it modifies what you're looking at.  Dave Winer thinks this is the top of a bad slippery slope, similar to Microsoft's ill-fated SmartTags.  It seems okay to me, as long as they make this an option.  Could be a test of whether the new, bigger, more powerful Google is truly "not evil".  [ Later: Here's Scoble's take. ] 

P.S. As a Firefox user, who cares?  I have a Google search bar built in already.  Yet another reason, if any were needed to check out Firefox...

Here's what I want for Christmas whenever - a Samsung 102" plasma TV.  Wow.  I know it costs a bizillion dollars but I want it anyway. 

This is really cool: Heathkits, a walk down memory lane.  Yeah, I remember Heathkits, boy do I ever; as a kid I used to help my Dad build stuff for our boats.  Here's the Heathkit virtual museum.  Wouldn't it be cool if they were still around?  You could make your own iPods, 'n' stuff... 


Archive: February 24, 2004


Archive: February 24, 2003

Monday,  02/24/03  10:08 AM

So, I finally "read" the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover-to-cover.  Is it just me, or has this thing jumped the shark?  I like beautiful women as much as the next guy, but I don't know, it just doesn't have the same coolness it once did...  Perhaps because it is so endlessly promoted, so commercial, so - airbrushed...

After four straight days of not enough wind, today we had too much wind in Auckland.  Sigh...

Caltech is sponsoring a Turing Tournament.  You can enter two ways, either by building an emulator, a program which attempts to mimic human behavior, or a detector, a program which attempts to distinguish humans from emulators.  First prize is $10,000 and bragging rights...

An interesting series of discussions are linked from Gene Expression regarding The Bell Curve.  If you're interested in frank discussion of human intelligence, click away...

Unlike many who discuss The Bell Curve, I've actually read it, and I found it fascinating and well-written.  It is regrettable that Murray and Herrnstein were known to have racial views, and even more regrettable that race was mentioned in their book.  This turned debate about the book's ideas to discussions of race, which are nearly always emotional and unproductive.

The most important idea in the book was independent of race entirely - the strong and strongly researched link between intelligence and social behaviour.  (Most of the book analyzes data from a long-term study of Caucasians.)  The fact that low intelligence is a leading indicator of criminality, violence, lack of civility, and poor parenting was suspected before but has now been clearly shown.  The implications are significant for policymakers, philosophers, pundits, and thoughtful people everywhere, particularly in a world where the average intelligence level is steadily dropping.

I urge anyone interested in these issues to read the book, it is well worth your time even if you are unconvinced by or opposed to the authors' views.

Here's something cool: Alluvium uses RSS to form a peer-to-peer music distribution network.

Did you miss the Grammys?  Or are you like me, and did you just realize while reading this that you missed the Grammys?  Ted Barlow shares a brief review which captures the highlights of what seems to have been a dismal effort.  The reason for poor music sales must be online file sharing, what else could it be?  (And it couldn't have anything to do with this...)

Eject! Eject! Eject! has a new essay posted: Confidence.  Read it and you will feel good.

From Steven Den Beste When you sit at a poker table, if after fifteen minutes you can't figure out who the pigeon is, you're the pigeon.  I like that.

Finally, a USB toothbrush.  Huh?  I am not making this up.