Critical Section


Sunday,  06/19/05  11:32 PM

Father's Day, 2005!  Hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did.  We didn't do much - sat around by the pool, barbequed tacos, and enjoyed a perfect summer's day.  Meanwhile, it was all happening...

walking the line...Michael Yon continues his excellent blogging from the ground in Iraq: Walking the Line.  "I did not come to Iraq with the intention of having someone tell me what the people on the 'front lines' were thinking and feeling. I came to see with my own eyes."  Eye-opening.

The Economist reports Europe's identity crisis deepens.  "The European Union summit has broken up with a deal on the constitution that means different things to different leaders, and no agreement on the EU's budget at all.  Even the summit's Europhilic chairman, Jean-Claude Juncker, admitted that Europe has slipped into a 'deep crisis'."  I suspect the pendulum will swing back.  Most of the anti-EU sentiment expressed by citizens in France and the Netherlands was actually anti-government.  The EU will recover, stronger.  But socialism will continue to decline.

Tony Pierce tells some incredible stories, but check out this one about jury duty.  Unbelievable.  It defies synopsis, you simply must read it all...

Montana - land of big sky and big spacesJohn Robb, after visiting Montana's big spaces: "Why don't we let another 200 m people into the country over the next 20 years?  There is certainly more than enough space and a sufficient number of qualified applicants.  Sure, it would be disruptive, but it is creative destruction.  The long term economic and cultural upside is enormous."  Seems like the upside would be a function of which 200M people we let in...

ancient text - hyperspectrally imagedMonks use hi-tech camera to read ancient texts.  "The technique, known as hyperspectral imaging, will use a camera to photograph the parchments at different wavelengths of light, highlighting faded texts obscured by time and later overwritings.  It should allow scholars to understand corrections made to pages of the Greek Codex Sinaiticus, written between 330 and 350 and thought to be one of 50 copies of the scriptures commissioned by Roman Emperor Constantine."  Excellent.

Interesting rumor on Marketwatch and NYTimes that Google is planning a PayPal competitor.  Good luck.  I think they'll find payments is a bit more complicated than search (one word: fraud), but then again who would have thought they'd win in search?  Still you can see the attraction; as they offer more and more "fee for service" offerings, processing the payments themselves becomes attractive.  Particularly online video[ Later: here's a Slashdot thread, too. ]

The Economist reports Google, meet Tivo.  About video search.  The money quote: "What is striking is that despite all the buzz around video searches, none of these companies actually searches the visual content of the video.  That is because actual video searching - finding all the clips that show a red car, perhaps, or George Bush - is an extremely complex problem."  No kidding.  In fact even 2D image search is text-based, there has been little traction for any pattern recognition, and video is 3D (time is the third dimension).  Not to mention, the business model is unclear at this point.

AP reports 73% of movie viewers prefer to watch movies at home.  [ via Slashdot thread ]

This sounds like an Onion article, but it is apparently real: Sony BMG helps customers crack DRM.  "Sony BMG has come up with an innovative solution for consumers who are frustrated with the company’s new DRM: They'll help you break it."  I can only echo Engadget: "Thanks Sony BMG.  Next time, how about just saving everyone the hassle and skipping the stuff in the first place."  Think of all the engineering effort that went into this at Sony.  Zero value created.  What a waste!

Rogers Cadenhead reports: "Microsoft has abandoned six million developers with its decision to end mainstream support for Visual Basic 6."  A bad strategic mistake, IMHO.

This is an amazing situation.  VB was one of the things that really allowed Windows to succeed; one of the few "breakthroughs" in programming technique which really was a breakthrough.  Yeah, you couldn't do "everything" in VB, but what you could do is build many applications quickly and simply and without debugging the low-level interactions.  Stuff just worked.

With VB.NET, MS tried to make it so VB could do everything (even though we already had C++ and C# for that), and so we lost some of the quickness and a lot of the simplicity.  What was gained wasn't worth gaining, and what was lost was really significant.

Worst of all, VB.NET isn't even backward compatible with VB 6!  How dumb is that?  So all those thousands of apps out there, all those millions of lines of code, actually have to be updated or rewritten to remain compatible.  All that work to get capabilities which didn't belong in VB anyway.  You can see why people aren't happy.

I'm not :(

Ottmar Liebert shares some thoughts about creativity.  "I am less likely to perform a song exactly the way it was recorded.  That may disappoint some and be exciting for others.  I am always looking for ways to set myself up for improvisation and that goes for live performances as well.  A good show is one where I play music I have not played before."  Personally I like it when artists perform a song differently live...

Classical music = oil painting, jazz = watercolor.  Ottmar is somewhere in between...

bewitched statue in SalemYou've got to love this: 'Bewitched' statue goes up in Salem.  Salutes one of the silliest - and most entertaining - sitcoms of all time.

For those of you podcasting aficionados out there - and as you know, I am not one of you - Xeni Jardin discusses the BadApple plugin, which enables iTunes to view and download podcasts directly.  This capability is planned by Apple in a future version of iTunes, but this way you can get it now.  Also, with this plugin you can view any podcast, not just those sanctioned by Apple (admittedly, it is still not clear how Apple's podcasting enhancement will work).

Treo 650 - now with bluetooth dial-up networking!Engadget proclaims Palm has added bluetooth dial-up networking support for the Treo 650.  This enables a bluetooth-enabled laptop to use a Treo 650 as a cellular modem.  This could be the final straw, I might have to trade up from my trusty Treo 600.

Gizmodo has a good how-to on hacking your car stereo to create a direct connection for your iPod.  I need to do this.  Radio transmitters have horrible sound quality, analog cassette adapters are better but still weak.  I no longer listen to CDs in my car - ever - so why not intercept the connection to the changer in my trunk and connect my iPod?  To do.

Mostly so I can find it later, but also if you happen to be a geek: the beginner's guide to Linux distros.  Very useful.  Most interesting is the way Ubuntu ("Linux for human beings") is apparently picking up converts quickly.  I've always used RedHat, but perhaps it has become old hat...

superball rainCheck this out as 2,000 superballs rain from the ceiling...  I'm sure glad I don't work with anyone like this.  Or do I?  (Be sure to check out the movie.)  I love the way this guy has three CRTs on his desk, too.

 

 

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