Critical Section


Monday,  12/20/04  07:18 AM

We had a big party last night - lots of people, lots of eating and drinking, lots of laughing.  What a great time...  Whew!  Now it's time to catch up with the blogosphere...

The NYTimes ran a contest for best alternative definition for words.  The winner was "coffee (n.), a person who is coughed upon"...  Second place went to "flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained".  Which would describe me after this weekend, I believe :)

Predictably, my rant on unintelligent design drew some unfavorable reactions, some regrettably rude in tone.  Why are religious people so unwilling to accept other points of view?  I don't mind if they're creationists, why should they mind if I'm not?

Albertsons.com delivery truckThis is what online commerce looks like - an Albertsons.com delivery truck parked outside our house (click picture for larger version.)  If you have a party with 100 people and you need drinks and ice and so on, this is the only way to go.  Everything costs the same as in the stores, and there's a $10 delivery fee.  Excellent!

This is really interesting; the Houston Chronicle interviews astronaut John Young.  Essentially he makes the point that single-planet species are doomed to eventual extinction.  "The statistical risk of humans getting wiped out in the next 100 years due to a super volcano or asteroid or comet impact is 1 in 455...  You're 10 times more likely to get wiped out by a civilization-ending event in the next 100 years than you are getting killed in a commercial airline crash."  I'm not sure of his numbers, but I agree with his conclusion.  Space exploration is important.

Titan weather mapNASA is spying on Titan's weather.  Good to know if I ever visit.  "Evidence of changing weather patterns in the skies over Titan's southern region are revealed in these false color images obtained by the Cassini spacecraft's visual infrared mapping spectrometer over two recent flybys of this largest of Saturn's satellites."  [ via Gerard Van der Leun ]

Ambassador auditoriumBlogging.la reports the Ambassador Auditorium has reopened!  In addition to the external beauty, this building has amazing internal acoustics; I had the pleasure of attending a Jean-Pierre Rampal concert here a while back, and the sound was incredible.

Security expert Bruce Schneier quotes from Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief by Bill Mason:  "Nothing works more in a thief's favor than people feeling secure.  That's why places that are heavily alarmed and guarded can sometimes be the easiest targets.  The single most important factor in security - more than locks, alarms, sensors, or armed guards - is attitude.  A building protected by nothing more than a cheap combination lock but inhabited by people who are alert and risk-aware is much safer than one with the world's most sophisticated alarm system whose tenants assume they're living in an impregnable fortress."  Interesting implications for our present approach to airline security, which conveys that false sense of security without much actual protection...

Bram Cohen, author of Bittorrent, considers streaming.  "The sweet spot for streaming is fairly small.  Lots of formats can't be displayed in real time at current speeds of net connections, and among the ones that can it's frequently not much longer to wait for the entire thing to download than to wait for a reasonable size of buffer to accumulate."  This makes logical sense, but the emotional response to streaming is important.  I like Quicktime streaming because you can watch that little progress bar...

Bram also considers great programmers.  "There are only two coding skills which mostly people who are completely self-taught as a programmer miss out on: proper encapsulation, and unit tests."  Bram has one trait shared with all great programmers I've met, an absolute belief that their Way is the One True Way.  I may not be a great programmer, but I believe this myself :)

This is going to be really cool: Yahoo Maps Offer Live U.S. Traffic Conditions.  I want this service on the GPS unit in my car, please :)

gingerbread motherboardMediaTinker showcases the gingerbread motherboard.  Looks delicious!

Suite Vollard - rotating buildingHere we have Suite Vollard: The only revolving building in the world.  Wow.  "The building is made with reinforced concrete and gigantic metal platforms, its facade has no masonries, and the huge vinyl- framed glass panels change shades every 90º.  Remote control-operated engines (with control pendant switches) turn each of the 11 apartments individually."  Talk about changing your point of view :)

Tom Coates ponders the weird context shifts caused by IM on hiptops.  "I'm having a crisis of etiquette caused by what I believe to be bad user interface design."  I'm not sure this problem resides at the sender's end...  Seems like if you're running an IM client on your hiptop, you're asking for interruptions.

Still shopping?  You might want to read PC Magazine's Ten Worst Products of the Year.  You still won't know what to buy, but at least you'll know what not to buy.

iPod hoodieThink you've seen everything?  Then check out the iPod hoodie.  "A naked iPod?  Girlfriend, you’ve got to cover that thing - and we have a super solution."  I am not making this up.  [ via Tom Coates ]

Rogers Cadenham liked the Polar Express.  Interesting, I hadn't heard much positive buzz about it, but now I want to see it.

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