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Sunday,  01/29/06  06:27 PM

Here we go again, yet another restart.  I'm getting tired of having to explain why I stopped blogging, especially since I don't really know why, but I felt like posting again tonight, so here we go.

Recently I have been engaged with two ridiculous "problems".  They are actually opportunities, buying opportunities.  In each case I already have a great solution, and the problem is choosing a greater solution.  And in each case doing nothing is an option, too... 

First, my TV.  I have a perfectly great TV setup at the moment, a Sony 36" TV (I know, old technology, but it looks great), on Adelphia Cable, via a Series/1 Tivo (I know, old technology, but it works great).  I have Bose surround sound speakers (I know, old technology, but they sound great).  So I've been investigating HDTV setups.  I would need a new TV, a new broadcast source (cable or satellite), and a new DVR.  For a new TV my choices are limited by the fact that it would have to be thin in order to fit anywhere, so I could chose plasma or LCD.  A new broadcast source, well, that's pretty straightforward; I could stick with Adelphia cable or switch to DirectTV or something else...  And DVR is crummy, because, unbelievably, there is no Tivo HDTV DVR available yet (I know, the Series/3 is "coming later this year").  So I could go with Adelphia's combo cable box / DVR, which would be a decent solution, I guess, or I could switch to DirectTV and use their DVR, or I could even find the old DirectTV Tivo box, which supports DirectTV and provides a Tivo HDTV DVR.  Ah, decisions...

I could always wait for SED, I guess...

BTW, if you find yourself in a similar situation, don't drink the HD-tuner kool-aid!

The other problem is my car.  I have a perfectly great car at the moment, a 1992 Lexus SC400 (old technology, but it runs great).  So I've been investigating new cars...  There are a million choices.  My car is a great car; I have 220,000 miles on it, and it runs like new.  So I'm strongly attracted to getting a new Lexus.  But they don't make my car anymore, and the new models, well, every one involves some sort of compromise.  And a lot of money.  Ah, decisions...

Pretty stupid to have such problems, right?  My friend Hy Kolkowitz tells me the Yiddish word for such a problem is a "mishegosh", which literally means insanity or madness but which is often applied for such "problems".  So be it.

By the way, Happy New Year.  Just noticed it has been that long since I last posted.  Sheesh. 

So what else is going on?  Well, let's see...

SpaceX almost launched their new rocket for the first time, twice.  It was pretty darn exciting.  Fortunately Elon Musk's brother Kimbal started a little blog to record the blow by blow.  If you're at all interested check it out, it is pretty cool.  The next scheduled attempt is February 8 - mark your calendar! 

The inimitable Marshall Brain posted a pretty cool essay: Why does God hate amputees?  [ Thanks for the link, Liron...]  A devastating argument against the existence of God (any God, but especially a Judo-Christian one).  The longer I live and the more I think, the less I find the concept of God has any use for me.  So be it.  

{ Daniel Dennett agrees: common-sense religion. }

While I was out, the Intelligent Design wars raged.  C'mon.  We all know that there are religious people out there who believe God created the heavens and the Earth and so on, and that evolution is a bogus scientific theory.  That is their right.  But to say this belief is science is ridiculous.  It is [merely] a belief, and a belief unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. 

{ Bill Maher has it right: "New Rule: You don’t have to teach both sides of a debate, if one side is a load of crap".  [ via Panda's Thumb ] }

{ Interestingly, the Vatican does not think Intelligent Design is science, either.  Neither do Nobel Laureates, which is a little less surprising... }

{ Are you a Pastafarian?  The NYTimes, of all sources, says Pastafarianism gains prominence and support in intelligent design drive.  I have a Pastafarian tee-shirt, and I wear it proudly :)  }

{ One more note, Geoffrey Moore has a blog (!) and it is called Dealing with Darwin (!!) and he posted this great missive from Davos, where he hosted a roundtable.  I love this: "In the world of economics, it is the U.S. that believes in natural selection, and it is Europe, specifically the EU and its leading countries, which clings to an outmoded ideology of intelligent design."  Exactly. }

I thought these guys were pretty cool, giant jellyfish are invading Tokyo!  I am not making this up. 

This is going to be a great year for bike racing.  Of course if you're a Lance Armstrong fan - like I am - you're going to miss Lance.  But now the field is wide open!  A lot of people think Jan Ulrich is going to win the Tour this year, but I don't know...  Levi Leipheimer beat him in the Tour of Germany.  And then there is George Hincapie, and Floyd Landis, and that's just the Americans. 

Oh, and there's a new tour on the block, the Tour of California!  Sponsored by Amgen, the ToC features a pretty cool route, and it finishes just a few miles from my house in Thousand Oaks!  Excellent.

BTW, if you're suffering Lance withdrawals, check out this two part interview with lance in Velonews...

My favorite new blog: The Dilbert Blog.  It is Scott Adams at his best, which means it is very good.  And lest you think it is all office weirdness, it isn't; for example Dog catches Car:  "You know the old joke about the dog that chases cars – 'What would he do if he caught one?'  I was reminded of that when I read that Hamas won an election victory.  I imagine a room full of Hamas leaders looking at each other behind closed doors and saying, 'Oh crap, we won.'

This is pretty cool - a game for a "404 page".  (This is the error page you get when you go to a website and request a page which isn't there.)  [ via digg, where they call it "the best 404 page ever", which may be a little farfetched; there is some stiff competition :)   ]  

I liked this: zero-sum thinking from John Hagel.  "In a conversation with Jack Welch earlier this week, he raved about Rich Kaarlgard’s recent column in Forbes on “World’s Worst Disease”.  No, Rich is not talking about cancer, AIDS or avian flu – he is talking about “zero-sum thinking” – the belief that if one person gains, other people must inevitably lose."  This could be the defining difference between right and left. 

This is awesomely useful: identify a font.  Have you ever had a sample of a font, but didn't know the name of the face?  This is your tool...  I tried it with a few and it works every time. 

Business 2.0 have come out with their annual 101 dumbest moments in business.  I always look forward to this, but I must say I found this years' a bit disappointing.  I think they tried too hard to write funny captions, instead of trying to find funny stories.  The net result was, well, kind of dumb.  Anyway I link, you decide. 

Fast Company: the beauty of simplicity.  "It is innovation's biggest paradox: We demand more and more from the stuff in our lives--more features, more function, more power--and yet we also increasingly demand that it be easy to use.  And, in an Escher-like twist, the technology that's simplest to use is also, often, the most difficult to create.

{ Paul Graham touched a similar theme in Ideas for Startups.  "Simplicity takes effort-- genius, even.  The average programmer seems to produce UI designs that are almost willfully bad.  I was trying to use the stove at my mother's house a couple weeks ago.  It was a new one, and instead of physical knobs it had buttons and an LED display.  I tried pressing some buttons I thought would cause it to get hot, and you know what it said?  "Err."  Not even "Error."  "Err."  You can't just say "Err" to the user of a stove.  You should design the UI so that errors are impossible.  And the boneheads who designed this stove even had an example of such a UI to work from: the old one.  You turn one knob to set the temperature and another to set the timer.  What was wrong with that?  It just worked."  I love a good rant :)  }

My favorite product announcement during the hiatus was LaCie's Lego Bricks.  [ via Gizmodo ]  These are external disk drives which are - of course - stackable.  Up to 500GB.  Excellent. 

Oh, and while I was out, Salon celebrated their tenth anniversary.  Now that's pretty cool.  I mostly disagree with Salon writers, they are pretty much at the left edge of reason, but it is a great online magazine.  I can well remember when they were hailed as the great new wave of the future.  It hasn't quite turned out that way - yet - but they have survived, and remain relevant.  And King Kaufman is pretty funny, too... 

Wrapping up, here's a pretty cool cartoon, courtesy of the New Yorker (sorry but I did not make note of the issue...).  By the way, we did see "the Penguin Movie", and yes, we loved it.  What delightful and wonderful animals.  { Gerard Vanderleun posted his ownrather pithy synopsis... )