Critical Section

Sunday,  08/02/15  09:47 PM

no matter where you find yourself, there you areWhew, August.  And it's quiet, too... 

Yesterday I drove up to Lake Arrowhead, and cycled around the lake.  A beautiful place to sail, should have brought a boat, although it's a beautiful place to ride, too.  The drive up was a little "interesting", as route 183 was blocked by a forest fire.  (Looks like it will be a tough summer for fires, and has been already.)  I ended up off-road on some dirt tracks, with a great deal of dust to show for it, but I made it.

lake ArrowheadWhen I was a kid I had a friend whose parents owned a house at Lake Arrowhead, and spent considerable time up there, hanging out and sailing.  (This was where I first formed my theory that wealthy men have pretty daughters :)  Being back after so many years, it's amazing the memories which are triggered.  Most of them were things I wouldn't have remembered any other way, but being there again brought them back vividly.  Amazing the stuff we keep packed away in our brains :)

California drought report: this lake is completely full of water.

computer girls ... circa 1967From the pages of history: "The Computer Girls", a 1967 Cosmopolitan article.  "Now have come the big, dazzling computers - and a whole new kind of work for women: programming."  How interesting, right?  Also worth remembering that digital computers replaced human computers, who were often women...

Digital Gold ... Bitcoin ...A new book to read: Digital Gold, Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires trying to Reinvent Money.  Philip Greenspun posted a positive review.

Also interesting, the Amazon Kindle price for this book is $14.99, which is a dollar more than the hardcover price.  Hmm...

Meanwhile, and related, Ethereum has launched.  "Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts."  An explicit attempt to duplicate the Bitcoin blockchain, with a more powerful "instruction set".  (You will recall from Bitcoin 102 that every Bitcoin transaction is a computer program.)  The problem with this noble effort is that until "ethers" become valuable, the nodes in the network won't have sufficient incentive to keep each other honest.  This is the compelling advantage of THE Bitcoin blockchain.

Apropos: Uber vs Piketty.  "Thomas Piketty famously argues that owners of capital grab ever-larger shares of wealth, and that the single best ‘solution’ to this alleged problem is a global tax on wealth and high rates of income taxation...  Ashley Schiller had a brilliant insight, which I share here with her kind permission: Uber (and other ‘sharing economy’ innovations, such as Airbnb) allow ordinary people to turn their consumption goods into capital goods."  It would have been difficult to predict that helping people use personal cars as taxis would create a multi-billion dollar business, and yet, there it is, despite the best efforts of government regulations to interfere.

 

 the brink of August

Friday,  07/31/15  09:33 AM

Megan! - December, 1999Here we stand, on the brink of August ... cannot believe my busy summer filled with bike races and sailing and work work work is nearly past (although in Southern California, August tends to be more summer-like than July!)  Yesterday afternoon we participated in a SAIC* webinar for parents of incoming students, cannot believe in less than a month our little Megan will be off to college!  Wow. 

That's a picture of Meg fifteen years ago, at 3.  Hehe.

* SAIC = School of the Art Institute of Chicago

And meanwhile...

ISS virtual tourTake a self-guided tour of the International Space Station.  I must confess, I've spent way too much time "lost in space".  Reactions: it's really small, and really messy.  What do they do up there?  The ISS is amazing but then again, it's actually just a boondoggle, built to give the Space Shuttle somewhere to go.  Maybe the international cooperation angle was key.  I love that the virtual tour ends at "the Russian section", which is "coming soon" :)

Cotton vs Kerry, it's no contest.  The Iran deal is so bad, but the politicians behind it are worse.  As poor as President Obama has proven to be, I do believe he is trying.  Whereas with Secretary of State John Kerry, he is just going through the motions, desperately hoping not to be found out.  We badly need a better class of politicians.  (Like Tom Cotton...)

Comet 67P/Churyumov-GerasimenkoBack to space (more cheerful) ... Rosetta finds primordial soup of compounds on comet.  "The European Space Agency (ESA) ... announced that the mission to explore Comet 67P has discovered 16 organic compounds, described as 'carbon and nitrogen-rich.'  The agency says on its website that the discovery, made by the Philae lander includes four compounds that have never before been detected in comets."  Little Philae managed to be quite useful before crash landing, and it might not be dead yet, either.

About those huge JavaScript frameworks...  Two things are true: the frameworks are not that huge, and current websites generate huge pages which lead to slow response times.  I agree entirely with Craig Hockenberry that engineers should test their sites under real-world conditions, especially for mobile.  But I think advertising and tracking are the true culprits, not frameworks.

Pininfarina's Maserati QuattroporteI missed this: Is one of these your dream car?  A celebration of the 85th birthday of Italian design firm Pininfarina.  I must confess one of these *is* my dream car :)

 

Tour de Force, revisited

Thursday,  07/30/15  11:32 AM

An oldie but goodie, from the New Yorker ten years ago:

"Tour de Force"

One of my favorite New Yorker covers ever, amid heavy competition.  I posted this in 2005  along with a note celebrating Lance Armstrong's *first* retirement, after having just "won" his seventh consecutive Tour de France.  Who knew then that he was doping, that he would come back three years later, finish third, get embroiled in more doping controversies, and ultimately get caught, and that he would end up disgraced and forfeiting all those victories.  The one thing we can't take away from him is that he's a cancer survivor and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, now known as Livestrong, and has raised more money for cancer research and help for cancer victims than any other individual ever.  I'm pretty ambivalent about Lance as an individual, but still a proud Livestrong supporter (and yellow band wearer).

I found this via my blogs Flight feature; interestingly I haven't posted on July 30 for seven years.  So now I have :)

 

save $1,000 on a new Tesla!

Wednesday,  07/29/15  11:54 PM

Tesla Model SAre you in the market for a Tesla Model S?  If so, you can save $1,000 on the purchase!

From now through October 31st, if anyone buys a new Model S through this link they will get $1,000 off the purchase price!  (And I will get a $1,000 credit for the referral.)  How cool is that?

It's part of an "experiment" just announced by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Seems like a pretty nice deal to me, on a pretty awesome car.

 

Wednesday,  07/29/15  10:58 PM

Filter pass!

NASA space launch systemHmmm...  NASA completes rocket design review for future Mars journey.  Including starting development on the new Space Launch System.  That's great, but, somehow my money is on SpaceX to get there faster, cheaper, better.  I believe the best way for government to accomplish "big things" is to pay private industry to do it for them, maybe by establishment of appropriate prizes rather than time-and-materials-plus-margin vendor relationships.  Anyway I guess it IS great that we're talking about launching stuff again.  But I worry that this is just a boondoggle and not serious tech.

How to explain Donald Trump?  "To explain the inexplicable rise of Donald Trump is to calibrate the anger of fed-up crowd that is enjoying the come-uppance of an elite that never pays for the ramifications of its own ideology."  I don't think he'll be the GOP candidate, and I certainly don't think he'll win, and I also don't agree with a lot of what he says.  But boy has he struck a nerve.

Carly Fiorina at the Reagan LibraryMeanwhile: Carly Fiorina: Here's what I will do as Commander in Chief.  A pretty compelling straightforward speech, laying out exactly what she believes and will do.  How great would it be to have a President like that?  If you're at all curious about her, I encourage you to watch this talk.  At least you'll know who she is.

Google retires G+ as a requirement, starting with YouTube.  Yay.  My sloth in ignoring Google+ seems to have been rewarded.  It will be a case study in how not to launch a social network.  So interesting that even Google could not cram this down our collective throats.

Windows 10 DayToday is Windows 10 Day.  So be it.  The reviews are pretty lukewarm, of the "well it's not as bad as Windows 8 variety", and I'm not compelled to rush out to install it.  Are you?  Seems like waiting for a couple of patch releases might be a good idea.

Mary Jo Foley: Windows 10, Fine for laptops but not for desktops.

Oh no ... C you never!  Apple scraps plans for 4-inch iPhone 6c.  This isn't a fact, of course, just an analyst prediction.  If true, it means I'll have to hold onto my iPhone 5s a bit longer.  I am not interested in a bigger phone, in fact, I wouldn't mind a smaller one.

Logitech to rebrand as "Logi".  These marketing repositioning effort never work, right?  The messaging is highly confused.

blue moonAre you ready?  Friday will be a blue moon.  (The second full moon in a calendar month, which is rarely actually blue.)  This is the first one since August 2012 (where were you?) and it won't happen again until January 2018, so make the most of it :)

 

Le Tour 2015

Monday,  07/27/15  06:35 PM

Okay cycling fans, here's what you've been waiting for ... my galactic 2015 Tour de France post.

This year I restrained myself from posting about the Tour every day, but of course, I watched each stage with great interest.  And it was an exceptionally interesting Tour, with a great route featuring lots of interesting stages.  For the first time in many years all of the best stage racers in the world were present: 2012 champion Alberto Contador, 2013 champion Chris Froome, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, and 2013 runner up Nairo Quintana.  And there were lots of promising dark horses too, like American Tejay Van Garderen and Alejandro Valverde, as well as a slew of great French hopes like last year's runner up JC Peraud and Thibaut Pinot.

I've made one giant review post here, briefly recapping each of the tour stages.  To enhance my enjoyment, I created Google Earth flybys of each stage - I've posted them here - and downloaded and edited each of the stages as broadcast on NBCsn - I've posted links to the torrents. 

It ended up being the best Tour ever - certainly since I became a cycling fan - with great racing by amazing riders on a beautiful course.  It seemed each day had an interesting storyline, whether it was the sprinters - Andrew Greipel vs Mark Cavendish vs Peter Sagan - or the potential breakaway winners - or the green jersey competition - or the huge GC battle.  And mercifully there were no doping controversies ... yay.  There was talk of doping when there were great performances, but no actual doping.  Maybe even the talk will end soon...

Anyway here's the galactic review ... onward!

 

Sunday,  07/26/15  11:05 PM

Arctic icepackYou cannot make this stuff up: Arctic expedition to study global warming put on hold because of too much ice.  I'm tempted to comment, "how cool is that!", but I won't.

Just to clarify, I am not a global warming denier, I'm more of a global warming doubter.  There's probably a warming effect caused by release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but I don't think the end is nigh.  Furthermore I don't think most global warming activity has anything to do with genuine concern, it's all politics.

Meanwhile, in real science news, NASA's Kepler discovers bigger, older cousin to Earth.  "The newly discovered Kepler-452b is the smallest planet to date discovered orbiting in the habitable zone - the area around a star where liquid water could pool on the surface of an orbiting planet - of a G2-type star, like our sun."  And it's merely 1,400 light years away ... a perfect vacation opportunity.

More liberal BS: Dunkin Donuts CEO makes $10M/year but thinks $15/hour minimum wage is outrageous.  Many people apparently think compensation is some sort of corporate profit-sharing scheme.  They are completely wrong about this :P

Oh, and so how's Seattle's $15/hour minimum wage law working out?  Somehow this lesson never seems to be learned, the consequences might be unintended, but they're not actually unpredictable.

Amazon vs Walmart, market cap over timeWhoa ... Amazon's market cap now bigger than Walmart's.  If you click through, you'll see that Walmart remains much larger in terms of sales, revenue, and net income.  But Amazon are growing much faster...

The next Social Network?  Winklevoss twins get closer to launching their Bitcoin exchange.  "If you had invented Bitcoin, you'd have invented Bitcoin..."  (But then again, nobody knows the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto :)

Of course: Bitcoin is the preferred currency of blackmailers and kidnappers.

Australian climbing perch, aka "Darwin fish"Going back to real science, this time biology: Crazy 'missing link' Darwin fish can breathe air, walk on land, and climb trees.  Yay.  I want a picture of that fish on my car.

 

reenabling Windows weather gadgets

Wednesday,  07/22/15  09:50 PM

Windows weather gadgets in actionHere's a public service announcement: how to reenable Windows weather gadgets.  Why, you may ask, should this be a subject for a blog post?  Well because 1) Windows weather gadgets are nice and useful, and 2) Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom, recently disabled them.  Permanently.  Sigh.

  1. In Task Manager, locate sidebar.exe and kill it.  Your old, dead, no-longer-updating gadgets will disappear.
  2. Go to "C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Services\Cache", edit "Config.xml", and save it without making any changes.  Yes you read that right, just do it.
  3. Right-click on your desktop, and select Gadgets.  This restarts sidebar.exe and poof! working weather gadgets.

For extra credit, here's how to set or change the location of each gadget:

  1. In Task Manager, locate sidebar.exe and kill it.  Your gadgets will disappear.
  2. Edit "C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Settings.ini".  You will see a section for each weather gadget with a WeatherLocation and a WeatherLocationCode.  You can change Weather Location to any text you like.  To set WeatherLocationCode, visit: https://weather.codes/search/.  The codes are eight characters, something like "USCA1228" (Westlake Village, California) or ""MAXX0002" (Antananarivo, Madagascar).
  3. Right-click on your desktop, and select Gadgets.  This restarts sidebar.exe and poof! updates made.

You're welcome!

PS this particular subject is a case study in useless misinformation spread all over the Internet.  Honestly people, if you don't know what you're talking about, stop talking.

 

Monday,  07/20/15  09:31 PM

"It's the Water"So I spent the last week / weekend sailing in the 2015 C-15 Nationals, an event I first sailed in way back in 1978.  Whew.  We didn't win, and although I almost killed my crew (longtime friend and fellow sailor Don, who is always the center of good stories) we did have some good moments too (best one, port tacking the entire fleet with the right side favored).  It was so much fun, we might even do it again ... in another 35 years.

Onward!

What can I say about the Iran deal that hasn't been said elsewhere by others already?  It's a horrible deal, truly Munich for our time.  (This refers to the Munich agreement made by Prime Minister of the UK Nevil Chamberlain with Hitler's Germany, an appeasement which didn't work, and led directly to WWII.)  We know it will enable Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and we can only hope it doesn't lead directly to WWIII.

Brings to mind the remark by Albert Einstein, that he didn't know what weapons would be used in WWIII, but he thought WWIV might be fought with sticks and stones.  Sigh.

The worst part is I'm entirely unclear on what the US gains from this deal.  It seems the only benefit is that President Obama can claim to have made a deal with Iran, and that's of no use to anyone.

the Parkes TelescopeHmmm: Stephen Hawking and Russian Billionaire start $100M search for aliens.  So be it.  I for one hope we find life "out there", but I am not optimistic.  Far more likely that they will find us, after we have advanced sufficiently, but I don't think we're quite there yet. 

I think the answer to Fermi's Paradox, "where is everyone", is that they're out there, but we're very (very!) far apart... and will need advanced tech merely to find each other, let alone communicate.

the Fermi Paradox, discussedWait But Why's discussion of the Fermi Paradox is great, check it out...

Meanwhile: Asteroid Mining company's 1st satellite launches from space station.  And no, that's not an Onion headline nor a movie.  What a great time to be alive.

ICON A5 amphibious sport aircraftI'd love to, and I did: Test fly an ICON A5 amphibious sport aircraft in this new video.  As far as the cost, well, if you have to ask...

Interesting: PayPal shares pop 8.3% after split from eBay.  The acquisition of PayPal by eBay made sense at the time - the dot-bomb explosion made access to capital for PayPal very difficult - but now it's good that they're separate.  PayPal can resume its original vision of becoming "the new world currency" :)

So, what programming language should you learn?  I gave my answer a few days ago, ObjectiveC.  The assumptive answer from this survey is Python, but I'm not so sure...  I haven't seen it used for "real stuff" too often.  The other "real" answer would be JavaScript, which is used for everything these days.

Apple iTunes icons over the yearsIn re Apple design trends, this progression of iTunes icons speaks for itself.  2015 is definitely the ugliest, and I'd pick 2006 as "peak icon".

As Ghandi once said, "half my quotes on Pinterest are fake".  Ah, but which half?

 

Pluto!

Tuesday,  07/14/15  09:18 AM


Pluto!
Pluto!

I could look at this all day, and probably will
(for comparison, seethis picture taken six days ago)
 
The New Horizons spacecrafthas taken 9 years to travel 3 billion miles so it could take this picture.
 
 

 

sea turtle GoPro

Monday,  07/13/15  11:34 PM

This is so cool ... a turtle's-eye view of the great barrier reef:

(please click to play video)

Reminds me of the sea turtles in Finding Nemo.  Righteous, dude!

 

New Horizons

Monday,  07/13/15  11:32 PM

NASA explorerNASA celebrates 50 years of planetary awesomeness.  On July 14, 2015, New Horizons will take the first close-up pictures of Pluto, exactly 50 years to the day after Mariner 4 flew by Mars and took the first close-up pictures ever of another planet.  Wow...

CharonMeanwhile ... here's your closest look yet at Pluto's largest moon, Charon.  Excellent.  The New Horizons spacecraft is unimaginably far away ... it takes light 5 hours to reach us from Pluto.  And yet we can take pictures like it's our back yard.  [kinda]

MG Siegler links Dennis Overbye:  The inventory of major planets - whether you count Pluto as one of those or not - is about to be done.  None of us alive today will see a new planet up close for the first time again.  In some sense, this is, as Alan Stern, the leader of the New Horizons mission, says, "he last picture show."

It’s hard to write these words and know what they might feel like 50 years from now.  I never dreamed, when Apollo astronauts left the moon in 1972, that there might come a day when there was nobody still alive who had been to the moon.  But now it seems that could come to pass.  How heartbreaking is that?

You could say that we have reached the sea, the very icy and black sea between us and the stars.  Whether we will ever cross that sea nobody can say.

I can say, we shall cross it.  Probably sooner than anyone can imagine.  Life will find a way.

PS there are 182 known moons in the solar system, some nearly as large as Mars (Ganymede and Titan), with a wide variety of interesting characteristics.  And literally thousands of asteroids, dwarf planets, comets, and other space dwellers.  So I don't think it's even the last picture show.

planets, etc

This is perfect: Welsh government responds in Klingon to UFO questions.  And no, it is not a headline from The Onion. 

"Darren Millar, the Shadow Minister for Health and Social Services in Wales, posed three questions to Welsh economy, science and transport minister Edwina Hart about recent UFO sightings and funding research into the phenomena.  A Welsh government spokesperson responded in Klingon:

Jang vIDa je due luq. 'ach ghotvam'e' QI'yaH devolve qaS.

Translation: "The minister will reply in due course. However this is a non-devolved matter."

"I've always suspected that Labour ministers came from another planet," Millar said. "This response confirms it."

Adam Savage and Christ Hadfield as 2001 astronauts at Comic-ConAdam Savage and astronaut Chris Hadfield walk the floor at San Diego Comic-Con, dressed [perfectly] as astronauts from 2001.  Excellent.

I find that as time passes, no science fiction film gets as much respect as 2001.  None.

Airbus electric planeTwo electric planes just made history by flying over the English Channel.  Yes!  So when I can I get mine ... can't wait :)

Robert X Cringley asks Remember when technology was exciting?  He obviously is not reading my blog :) 

Seriously, I get the "we were promised flying cars and all we got was 140 characters" point of view, but when you look at what we *are* doing, it's incredible.  Onward!

 

 

the new world of app development

Monday,  07/13/15  09:42 PM

Recently a contemporary (50ish) friend shared his thoughts on finding a job as a software developer today:

  • There are fewer fulltime positions now, and more contractor / parttime positions
  • It's harder and harder for experienced engineers to find work
  • A lot of the work out there is maintenance of old systems, not new development

I was thinking about this, and here are my thoughts...

<braindump>

Hello, IOSA couple of huge things have happened in software, the cloud / web thing, and mobile.  Most new development being undertaken today involves one or both.

The predominant language used for cloud / web things is JavaScript.  A lot of the code is client side, all JavaScript, and the server side stuff has drifted around from Perl to Java to C# to PHP to JavaScript.  On clients the main chunk of knowledge needed (besides JavaScript itself) is JQuery.  This started as an attempt to create a cross-browser-independent way to do stuff (Microsoft IE being quite different from everything else), but evolved into a whole platform for client-side development.  It is unwieldy but it's there, and to work in that world you have to get to know it.  On the server side there's such a mishmash.  There are two platforms, Windows and Linux, and they don't mix well, with separate development tools and frameworks.  About the only thing you can say is all the current languages are "curly-brace" derivatives of C: Java, C#, PHP, etc.

All that said ... the big new thing is mobile.  There are two platforms that matter, IOS / ObjectiveC and Android / Java.  If I were trying to get a job as a software engineer today - building new stuff, not forensic debugging of 10-year-old still-working systems - I would be an app developer.  And on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog, or a 50+-year old engineer.  I think with a mobile skillset anyone would be in demand.

So, how do you climb that learning curve?  Well, the first thing is you have to get a Mac and learn OS X, enough to be a user. Hardly anyone develops *for* OS X, but just about everyone develops *on* OS X.  I have installed OS X in a VM on my PC laptop, but I'm weird.  Everyone just gets a Mac laptop.

Next, I would recommend learning IOS / ObjectiveC first.  Android / Java is similar enough to be analogous, but it is a bit clunkier and has more variations.  The development platform is XCode, from Apple.  You join their developer program for $100/year and then download and install it.  The first step in the learning curve is learning ObjectiveC.  (Apple now have a new language called Swift, but it hasn't gained traction and ... I would not start there.)  ObjectiveC is a mashup of C and Smalltalk.  To learn it, I suggest reading the Big Nerd Ranch guide to Objective C.  Yeah, that's what it's called, and it's a great hands-on learn-as-you-go guide.  For an experienced engineer, I don't think this is going to be a huge curve.  And it's a valuable skillset; ObjectiveC is used for IOS *and* OS X.  It's also a step to learning C# or Java since they are quite similar.

After that, to learn developing for IOS you have to learn the intricacies of Cocoa.  This is Apple's runtime library.  It does a lot of the work for you, but it also hides a lot of the detail so it's a bit tough to get your arms around.  The XCode environment is highly integrated with Cocoa, the seam between development and deployment is wiggly.  (Think of it like [early-pre-.NET] VB on Windows.)  To climb the curve, I suggest reading the Big Nerd Guide to IOS*.  It helped me get through the initial "what the heck is going on here" to creating "Hello, World" apps for IOS.  There is a lot beyond that but it sure is satisfying to be able to code apps that actually run on your phone.

* The Big Nerd Ranch guides are Kindle-able.  I suggest having the book open in one window and XCode open in another, and toggling back and forth.

Building crap for phones is all very exciting, and a lot of cool apps are client-side-only, but many real applications need a server component.  It turns out the same kinds of interfaces you build for web-client-to-server apps are also used for mobile-client-to-server apps.  On the server, you create simple stateless APIs (the cool kids call this REST) which do all the real work for mobile clients (like database access).  In some applications you even have both web and mobile clients, using the same APIs.  Once you've learned coding mobile apps, you're probably going to want to learn more about the tech on REST servers, too.  That's a subject for another post.

Anyway ...

I were an engineer looking for work in 2015, I would start teaching myself to build IOS apps.  I'd get a Mac, get comfortable using OS X, learn to use XCode, learn ObjectiveC, and learn Cocoa.  That's the biggest world in software development at the moment, and it isn't going away.

</braindump>

So what do *you* think?  Please let me know if you have comments or suggestions!

 

Sunday night scan

Sunday,  07/12/15  10:56 PM

It's Sunday night, I have a big week ahead.  So naturally I'm going to get a good night's sleep...  Bssst!  I'm going to blog.

From Fortune's CEO Daily: "Which number is larger: $350 billion?  Or $3 trillion?  The first is Greece's total debt.  The second is wealth that has evaporated from the Chinese stock market in the last month.  The difference suggests we are paying too much attention to the wrong thing."

The Shanghai and Shenzen exchanges continued their rout Tuesday, despite heroic efforts to stop them.  IPOs have been shut down, short-selling has been banned, more than 700 shares - about a quarter of the market - have been suspended from trading, and, oh yes, a government-backed fund is buying billions of dollars worth of stock.

Yikes.

I will say, at least China are reaping what they've sown.  Greece seem being spared the consequences of their actions, with dire result.  VDH comments America, like Greece, may end with a lawless whimper.  "All the German euros in the world will not save Greece if Greeks continue to dodge taxes, featherbed government, and see corruption as a business model."

Yosemite Halfdome flake breaks offYosemite rock fall changes face of world-class climb.  "A massive sheet of rock fell from the vertical face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, making one of the most popular routes attempted by climbers in North America even more challenging, park officials said Tuesday."  Whoa.

NASA / SpaceX commercial astronaut teamMeet the first commercial space crew in NASA's history.  Wow, these four astronauts will be the first to fly to space in the SpaceX Dragon.  Awesome!

It cannot be too soon; do you realize it has now been 43 years since humans walked on the moon?  Mars or bust!

NASA's Mars TrekPerhaps they can use this: NASA's Mars Trek is Google Earth for the red planet.  Excellent.  Just wish the realtime traffic feature was working :)

Have you been tracking the soap opera at Reddit?  It's pretty interesting, and we public probably only know 1/10th of the truth.  Anyway Steve Huffman, the original founder, is back on the helm.  Judging from this public Q&A, things are going to get better.  At least he has a sense of why people use Reddit, and a desire to help them do it.  And he knew enough about their system to know this was the right way to reach them...

Sigh; the sexual train wreck behind 'yes means yes'.  Glenn Reynolds comments "I'm glad I went to college when I did, we had a lot more fun".  No kidding.  This pendulum must have swung about as far over as it can go, right?

Hehe: welcome to the paperless societyGreek newspapers are running out of newsprint, and Venezuela are running out of toilet paper.  And they've both run out of other people's money.

the Bitcoin blockchain, explainedThe Bitcoin blockchain, explained, from the IEEE.  A pretty nice video, not entirely right but not wrong either.  See my Bitcoin 101 and Bitcoin 102 posts for more :)

bluelist QR code - why?The other day I was having coffee with a friend at Coffee Bean, our local caffeinery, and they had a Bluelist QR Code next to the register.  I asked the Barrista about it, and she had no idea what it was or why it was there.  Staff training, anyone?

So okay, I launch Red Laser and scan the QR code, and ... the value is 4071.  That's it.  No URL!  Boy, this is going to be the most successful in-store program ever!

Most people think they check their smartphones less than others.  Yes, and most people think they're smarter and better looking than average, too :)

Totally agree:  Pompous Apple is Pompous, regarding their new "if it's not an iPhone, it's not an iPhone", ads.  Steve Jobs would never have run these.

Fast Company: Why the Apple Watch is flopping.  "How did this happen?  The answer may sound like heresy to those who canonize - or even merely admire - Apple's designers.  What if the Apple Watch, for all its milled and woven metals, all its appearances on the catwalk, isn't actually all that well-designed?  So far, the Apple Watch doesn't seem very useful, and it hasn't proven that fashionable."  I don't think it is flopping in the sense of not selling well, but I do think it hasn't changed the world.  Few of my friends wear them, and tellingly, few seem to know why they'd want one.

Parenthetically, I've been wearing my 40-year-old pre-TAG-Heuer a lot more often.  Sort of an anti-Apple Watch statement, I guess.  And I'm still proud of my Pebble Steel...

Okay, it's time.  Good night!

 

world of languages

Thursday,  07/09/15  09:11 PM

A great thought-provoking chart, showing the distribution of languages around the world
(click to enbiggen so you can read the fine print)

My takeaways:
- wow, Chinese
- okay, English 2nd, Spanish 3rd, Hindi 4th, Arabic 5th, but Portugese 6th?  (Brazil!)
- Tamil?  Telegu?  Urdu? ... India
- Surprised German and French aren't more broadly spoken

How broadly is C spoken?  World-wide, I think :)

 

 
 

Fairly recent posts:

08/02/15 09:47 PM -

Sunday,  08/02/15  09:47 PM

07/31/15 09:33 AM -

 the brink of August

07/30/15 11:32 AM -

Tour de Force, revisited

07/29/15 11:54 PM -

save $1,000 on a new Tesla!

07/29/15 10:58 PM -

Wednesday,  07/29/15  10:58 PM

07/27/15 06:35 PM -

Le Tour 2015

07/26/15 11:05 PM -

Sunday,  07/26/15  11:05 PM

07/22/15 09:50 PM -

reenabling Windows weather gadgets

07/20/15 09:31 PM -

Monday,  07/20/15  09:31 PM

07/14/15 09:18 AM -

Pluto!

07/13/15 11:34 PM -

sea turtle GoPro

07/13/15 11:32 PM -

New Horizons

07/13/15 09:42 PM -

the new world of app development

07/12/15 10:56 PM -

Sunday night scan

07/09/15 09:11 PM -

world of languages

07/08/15 09:16 AM -

Pluto!

07/07/15 09:51 PM -

Tuesday,  07/07/15  09:51 PM

07/05/15 10:27 AM -

Sunday,  07/05/15  10:27 AM

07/05/15 10:09 AM -

taking the fifth

07/03/15 05:12 PM -

Friday,  07/03/15  05:12 PM

07/02/15 01:22 PM -

Bitcoin 102: Smart Contracts

07/01/15 09:05 PM -

trebuchet = siege

06/30/15 09:11 PM -

QE filter pass

06/28/15 12:10 PM -

timeline

06/26/15 12:30 PM -

Friday,  06/26/15  12:30 PM

06/25/15 10:59 PM -

landing rockets

06/22/15 09:23 PM -

Monday,  06/22/15  09:23 PM

06/18/15 10:58 PM -

Galapagos: island animals

06/17/15 08:25 PM -

Wednesday,  06/17/15  08:25 PM

06/17/15 08:19 PM -

two kinds of people

For older posts please visit the archive.

 

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Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Lying
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
Confidence
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
entertainment
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
resolved
to space
notebooks
where are the desktop apps?