Critical Section

Archive: August 2, 2003

<<< July 30, 2003


August 3, 2003 >>>


Saturday,  08/02/03  10:16 AM

Sorry for the gap - I've been working on a really cool pattern recognition program based on Vector Quantization.  More about this when I have time.

Whenever I'm away from blogging there is an interesting race which takes place between the unread entries in SharpReader (my RSS aggregator) and the junk mail filtered by Matador.  Currently Matador is winning 444 to 395.  And that's after only two days.  Whew.

My biggest accomplishment in the past few days was splicing a USB cable back together.  My cat Reggie takes an extraordinary interest in any wires or strings hanging about.  We have blinds on all the windows in the house, and are forever restringing them because Reggie bites through the cords.  More annoying than that is when he bites through the electrical wires of walkman headphones (I've gotten really good at splicing them together; there are two concentric wires involved...) and ethernet cables (I've gotten really good at splicing them together; there are four parallel wires involved...).  Anyway last week he bit through Alex's USB mouse wire.  This is the big leagues of splicing - we're talking a shielded wire with five tiny concentric wires inside it (four signals plus ground).  Anyway I spliced it and it works!  Yippee.  Made me feel like taking up fly-tying, except that I don't fish...


Saturday,  08/02/03  10:30 AM

It's all happening...

You can't make this stuff up.  "Arnold Schwarzenegger will officially announce his intentions with regard to the California recall election for governor on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno next Wednesday."  So be it.  I like Arnold, but I'm hoping he doesn't run so Richard Riordan will...  we need someone with experience to clean up Gray Davis' mess.  Gosh, I'm starting to sound like a Republican... slap! slap!

Bigwig: "The California Governor's recall race is going to be the most interesting trainwreck in the history of the planet to watch."  Interesting, you bet, trainwreck, that's what we have now, in the form of a $38B deficit.  Yeah, that's a B, not an M.

Steven Den Beste considers the history of the world, biology version.  Very interesting stuff.  (I don't know how Steven makes time to write these long tomes...)

the eyetopRemember the Sony Glasstron?  Well here's another entry into the head-mounted display race - the Eyetop...  looks very cool!

the AudiopadWired considers the Audiopad, a composition and performance instrument for electronic music which tracks the positions of objects on a tabletop surface and converts their motion into music.  Very cool.  Apparently it is easier to use than to explain - always a good sign :)

UAV planeWant to spy on someone?  How about an unmanned RC flying wing with a UV movie camera, programmed with GPS waypoints?  What a great time we live in - that stuff like this actually exists, and not just in science fiction novels...

The NYTimes has a story about statistical language translation - the idea that you use statistical properties of human-translated documents to develop rules which are then used for machine translation.  I think this kind of technique - which uses emergent properties rather than explicit heuristics - is the future of AI.  A variation of this is what we're using for image pattern recognition at Aperio.

The Houston Chronicle reports: Teachers to keep tabs on potential dropouts by computer.  "With a new computer database available at every campus this fall, teachers can keep a virtual eye on every student and identify those at risk of leaving."  So that's nice, but even nicer would be a way to keep them from leaving - by motivating them to stay.  At least this way teachers who care would know who to pay attention to...  but then teachers who care would already know this themselves.

Joel Spolsky discusses stupidity at the helm of software companies...

Speaking of software company stupidity, consider Napster.  The new Napster, that is, post-Roxio-acquisition.  This new Napster is just like the previous new Napster - announceware.  They can build web pages until they're blue in the face, and nobody will care.  They have to be like the old Napster - real working software - before anyone will or should pay attention.  Meanwhile Kazaa and the Apple Music Store are eating their would-be lunch.  Napster remains one of the biggest lost opportunities of the Internet era.

Oh, and Cringley weighs in with his ideas for new Napster, Son of Napster, aka Snapster...  I think he is far less stupid than Roxio so far...

NYT: cable or satellite, please stay tuned.  Another article which (among other things) sings the virtues of Tivo.  The article discusses Time Warner's new cable service for New York city, which includes a cable box that has a PVR built it.  The future is here, ladies and gentleman.  Time-shifting is the wave of the present.  (You mean you still watch live TVThat's so 1900s...)

Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with JupiterResearch, claims Media Center PCs are better than Tivo.  Yeah, right.  What planet is he from?  Maybe for the .001% of all people who have their PC next to their TV.  Even nerds code in another room.  And that doesn't even begin to address Tivo's functional superiority.  Can Media Center PCs automatically record every Reese Witherspoon movie?  I didn't think so.

Don Park tells it like it is: XHTML is Technical Masturbation.  "Emitting XHTML instead of HTML is pretty popular among geeks these days... Unfortunately, it amounts to technical masturbation because there are no real benefits to using XHTML.  Even worse, using XHTML can be down right harmful."  Don't worry, you're safe reading this blog; I have not succumbed to this temptation [yet] and still use plain vanilla HTML like my father and his father before him.

By the way, if you have no idea what this alphabet soup is all about, don't worry.  If you know what HTML is but can't spell XHTML, here's a one-line explanation: XHTML is HTML reformatted as valid XML.

For the nerds among you (and for me to find again), Microsoft Developer Tools Roadmap.

There are a lot of blogs out there; CyberAtlas estimates there are 1,600,000 active ones...  And you're using your valuable time to read this one!

If you want to find others - and who wouldn't - check out the 45th Carnival of the Vanities, hosted by Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics.  I haven't made time to check it out yet, so I have no recommendation to offer, but please don't let me stop you from doing so...

Meanwhile Dave Pollard presents the secrets of breakout blogs.  I think the real secret is there is no secret, you just have to write interesting stuff...

Burt Rutan's spacecraftThis picture of Burt Rutan's private spacecraft is to reward your persistence in making it to the bottom of this long post :)  Very cool.  [ click through for large pic ]


Return to the archive.

About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
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
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
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
to space
where are the desktop apps?