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Archive: October 2008'A=0

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you can't script October

Wednesday,  10/01/08  07:03 PM

So I’m sitting on my couch with my guinea pig, watching the Dodgers start their series with the Cubs, and TBS’ tagline for their playoff coverage is “you can’t script October”.  Amen to that, I’m thinking; why just a week ago, although I was already sick, I thought I was recovering.  I thought I was heading to the College of American Pathologists' conference, enjoying a nice ride over the weekend, and then working normally this week, while eating and otherwise preparing for the Furnace Creek 508 next weekend.

Um, no.  Bzzzzzzt.

who scripted that?I was actually just about to get really sick, I just didn't know it.  I did attend the CAP conference (where I had an incredible "how did I get here moment", which I will share with you), but barely staggered through it, and upon my return Saturday I was toast.  I spent the weekend alternating between fever spikes as high as 103o and impressive coughing fits.  Turns out I have a fungal lung infection called "valley fever", must have caught it while riding the double century in Napa, with an immune system lowered by a preceding week of stress and no sleep, not to mention the exertion of the ride itself.  I *finally* saw my doctor on Monday, who prescribed Levaquil (a strong antibiotic) and Promethazine (an antihistamine), along with Codeine, and I am on the mend.  Today I actually worked in my office, instead of in bed, and though I am weak and woozy my brain is slowly reengaging, after being pretty well disconnected for a few days.  I am definitely not riding the 508 next weekend; even if I felt up to it, my doctor and Shirley would not allow it, and both have spent significant amounts of time saying so.

So be it.

Meanwhile the background is equally unscriptable, at Aperio I have a couple of colleagues dealing with far more serious medical situations than mine (fXf), and our next release remains on track for beta despite a flurry of last minute bugs.  And of course the world financial markets can’t figure out what to do, congress are debating the nature of the infinite while Wall Street burns, and the Presidential election has descended into farce.  Unscriptable.

Yet I am feeling better, and the baseball playoffs have started!  How bad could it be?



on the state of medicine, 2008

Wednesday,  10/01/08  07:57 PM

I've been sick, so I visited my doctor.  Being a patient is a unique experience for me, I never get sick, and when I do, I take a DayQuil or Motrin, and two days later I'm fine.  My doctor is the guy who conducts my annual checkups, annually.  As a result of my really lightweight brush with the state of medicine in 2008, I have a few observations.  These are not earth shattering and for those of you who have dealt with medical practice as a patient rather than a vendor, probably all too familiar.

one sick puppyFirst, there is really lousy communication.  My doctor is a GP, also involved in my case are a pulmonary specialist, a radiology lab, a lab where the blood analysis was done, and two pharmacies.  They are all colocated in one wealthy city.  You would think these entities would have an electronic way to communicate, but they don't.  Many phone calls are made, many faxes are sent (faxes!  In 2008!), and many data are manually transcribed.  Prescriptions are handwritten!  Worst of all, they all rely on me, the patient, to be the central repository of my information.  The pulmonary specialist asks me for my medical history, in great detail, when it is already sitting in my GP's files.  He asks me what drugs were prescribed, when the prescriptions were made by the GP.  The radiology tech asks me to describe my symptoms.  The pharmacy interprets a handwritten prescription.  The lab results are phoned and faxed.  Etc, etc.  In the case of a 49-year old with reasonable mnemonic capacity, these questions can be answered (although I could easily mis-remember drug names and dosages).  But what if I was older, sicker, less able to comprehend?  There is no excuse for this.  I have to believe a huge amount of efficiency could be gained and a large number of errors eliminated by some kind of physical repository for each person's medical history.  A thumb drive, for example.  We could carry them around with us from doctor to doctor, doctor to lab, doctor to pharmacy, with the requisite information stored and history updated.

Please someone!  Insert business plan here!

Second, the level of medical technology is amazingly uneven.  My doctor has a device the size of a shoebox used for measuring blood oxygen.  The pulmonary specialist has a similar device for a similar purpose, but it is the size of a large clothespin.  My doctor's nurses use their wristwatches for measuring pulse.  At the hospital, they have a device which clips to your earlobe, takes two seconds.  The hospital's X-ray machine writes film, which they digitize to store in their PACS (computer system).  My doctor actually asked me to drive to the hospital to pick up the film to take to the pulmonary specialist.  When I expressed shock that they weren't able to share the X-rays digitally, he expressed shock that doing so was possible.  (It was :)

It isn't just the technology, of course, it is knowledge of the technology.  Doctors spend a great deal of time doing CME (continuing medical education), but it seems to be disease and drug oriented, rather than technology oriented.  Maybe the doctors themselves choose this, I don't know.

Third, my doctors, labs, pharmacies, etc. do not share information with me, despite the fact that each of them seem to rely on me, the patient, to be the central repository.  The labs don't send me results, they send them to my doctors.  The pharmacies don't tell you about the drugs they make for you, or the devices they sell you.  The doctors consult with each other, but not with me.  It is like they all get together and collaborate on a diagnosis and treatment, and only then can the secret be revealed, as a single ground truth.  I am certainly not an expert in lung infections and would not presume to contribute to a discussion of possible diagnoses or treatments.  But there is some amount of debate, clearly, and I am not exposed to it.  Knowing that the radiology lab found X, and that doctor Y thinks this means Z, but doctor Q thinks this means R, that would be nice.  I do appreciate, medicine is sometimes art as well as science.

Enough!  I am complaining, but I should be grateful, because I do have access to the best in medicine, 2008, from doctors to labs to pharmacies, as a result of which I am feeling frisky enough to blog.  And that's what is really important!



the ultimate driving machine

Wednesday,  10/01/08  10:46 PM

I'm in San Diego, and I'm walking along the nice little boardwalk between the convention center and the bay, convalescing, and I see something up ahead...  what the heck is that?  ...  it looks like, huh ... holy crap, IT IS -- TRIZILLA!

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

Yep, right in front of me, there it was, good ‘ol BMW Oracle just arrived, and they let me walk into the compound and take pictures and everything.  Of course I only had my cameraphone so they’re crummy pics. 

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

The sheer size and scale of this monster are tough to grasp until you’re standing next to it.  I think the spar was the most amazing thing of all – seemed like it was ten feet wide, and two hundred feet long. 

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

Here is a picture of the bird in flight, you may remember from an earlier post:

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

90' long x 100' wide x 160' high.  It could go under the Coronado Bridge.  With 15' to spare :)

Trizilla - BMW Oracle

What an amazing craft. I’d sure love to take it for a test drive :)



Wednesday,  10/01/08  11:08 PM

Well, I'm baaack to blogging.  This is all done under the influence of strong drugs, you have been warned.

What do you do when all hell breaks loose in the world while you're sick?  You can't really comment on all that, right?  Right.  Well, you can comment on bits of all that.  The critical sections, you might say :)

I like this one from the WSJ: Congress lives up to its 10% approval rating.  I'm guessing at least 90% of us agree.

McCain vs. ObamaI thought Slate summed up last Friday's debate perfectly: Tie goes to Obama.  Each side thought they won, but the undecideds in the middle thought Obama won, so he did.

Here's some important analysis: how has the financial crisis affected the wine world?  At least some of the media are staying focused.  The answer: "bars, restaurants, and nightclubs have seen a sharp falloff in business, and many proprietors report that the customers who are showing up are purchasing fewer alcoholic beverages and less expensive ones. At the retail end, however, wine sales appear to be galloping along."  So be it.  Did I tell you about the Sea Smoke Pinot I had last week?  OMG.

SpaceX makes orbit!Something really great did happen on Sunday: SpaceX made orbit!  At 4:14PM PST their Falcon-1 spacecraft blasted off from their base at Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean, and 2:35 later the two stages separated, perfectly, at 3:05 the fairing separated, perfectly, and at 9:26 the second stage engine was cutoff, perfectly, leaving the spacecraft nestled in Earth orbit.  (click the link for video, it's cool.)  Congratulations to Elon Musk and his entire team, this is fantastic.  It presages a whole period of privately financed space exploration, I am sure of it...

Actually next up is the F9, which has nine of the engines in the F1, and which can transport as much as 23,000lbs into orbit.  Orders for berth space on launches are going to be coming in now, and you can just imagine people being part of the cargo.  Of course that would [probably] require the capability to bring the spacecraft back, something SpaceX will do, but have yet to demonstrate.

The big winners in October so far are clearly Chicago and L.A., which each have both of their teams in the playoffs.  New York, oh for two.  San Francisco, zippo.  Neener neener.  Actually I must tell you that while I wasn't really paying attention, there was some great baseball last weekend, spilling into Monday, as the White Sox survived three must win games in a row, just to make the playoffs.  I'm rooting for them, well, until they meet the Angels.  And the Cubs have to be your sentimental pick, right?  I'm rooting for them, well, actually I'm not because too bad for them, they start out against the Dodgers.  Freeway Series baby, it will be great...

Fusionman!Look, up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, no, it's Fusionman!  That would be Yves Rossy, who Engadget helpfully point out is not Buzz Lightyear, flying across the English channel in a jet-wing.  "When asked if he was worried about risk, Rossy replied, 'I'm not worried about risk, I manage risk.'"  Sounds like a Wall Street investment banker!  At an estimated $190K, I can see quite a market for these things...

Google turns 10!Happy Birthday, Google!  They turned ten...  quite the tween.  I can still remember when I was working at Intuit, in 1999, at the old Sun campus in Mountain View, and there was this cute little startup called Google across the parking lot which used to have lots of parties.  Little did we know...



the pumpkin lanterns return

Thursday,  10/02/08  09:03 PM

We have a great tradition around here, for the month of October we replace all the little white lights in our big round metal lanterns with little orange lights.  Everyone in our neighborhood knows our house as "the house with the pumpkin lanterns" (if not some other way, too :)  Yeah, it's a bit corny, but corny can be good.  So today I did the deed, and here's what we look like:

pumpkin lanterns!

Must be October!  Soon we'll have Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and before you know it, Christmas...  yay.



welcome to Dash!

Thursday,  10/02/08  09:13 PM

Dash GPSEmail, received recently:

From: Team Dash []

Subject: Welcome to the Dash Express LA Traffic Road Test!

Hello Ole,

Congratulations! You have been selected to participate in the Dash Express LA Traffic Road Test. Your Dash Express should be arriving rather soon!

This is a four month test in which we want you to help provide feedback on commute traffic accuracy. There will be a bi-weekly survey sent to all participants to complete. As a participant in the road test, we ask that you provide any and all feedback either via the survey or a Yahoo! Group that has been setup (invitations will be sent out next week). Please do not participate in the MyDash forums for the length of this test. We appreciate your cooperation and look forward to your feedback.

We will be providing more information about the test shortly, but be sure to keep the return shipping label included in the packaging in the event you decide not to purchase the device at the end of the test.

If you have problems with your device, contact customer service ( and mention you are part of the LA traffic road test. Please note that in June we launched a wireless software update for your Dash Express. Therefore, before you begin driving you will need to download this update via a WiFi connection (

For any questions please contact

Best regards,

Team Dash

Yay!  Whoo hoo!  This will be great.  I've been thinking the Dash would be the greatest thing since sliced bread, a GPS unit which gets realtime traffic information and routes accordingly.  Now I get to try it out, and help them improve it!  What could be better than that?

Stay tuned...



Thursday,  10/02/08  09:22 PM

Slowly but surely, me and my life are returning to normal.  I went to bed last night, normally, slept and woke up, normally, and worked all day, normally.  Still on meds, still weak, but much better.  And of course, changing the light bulbs in the lanterns felt very normal, especially when I had to prune one of my trees to reach one.

Biden vs PalinOkay, so who won?  That will be on everyone's mind and lips tomorrow, and I think Sarah won, but I'm prejudiced.  I think she's great, and I think she did great.  Biden was Biden, a career Senator who doesn't think too far beyond Washington D.C.  Palen was a breath of fresh air all the way from Alaska.  We'll see how it is spun - at the end of the day, a VP debate is a chance for someone to stumble, but not really a chance to gain - but I think this was no tie.

Tim Oren: Which can you trust, congress or markets?  "Now that the first version of the financial bailout bill has failed in a display of partisan incompetence, some have been taking time to actually read what was almost passed. Far from a 'clear bill' to reassure the nation and markets in a time of crisis, it was larded with the type of earmarks that has become a hallmark of our degraded national legislature."  Disgusting.  I'm glad it failed, and I hope it continues to fail and they give up entirely.  Good riddance.

So I hear Bruce Springsteen will be the halftime act for the next Super Bowl.  Too bad...  I love the trend of bringing back old rockers for these shows (Tom Petty was great!) but I never liked Bruce, sorry, and I can't look forward to this.

On the other hand, Led Zeppelin are re-forming and touring!  (With drummer John Bonham replaced by his son Jason.)  They have to be my favorite band of all time.  There I said it.  And my favorite song?  Whew, tough...   I am not going to pick Stairway or Kashmir, I'm going to pick...  The Rover.  If that driving beat can't get you up a five mile ascent at 10%, nothing can.

[ Update: after posting this, listened to Physical Graffiti all the way through, first time in a long time.  The physical mental emotional tightness and power is excellent.  A great band at the top of their game.  Dare I say it?  The best rock album of all time. ]

Popular Mechanics has five lessons from the newly reopened I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.  Reading the story, they failed to note the most important one; economic incentives for building contractors work!

Win 7 logoHere we have three things we want to see in Windows 7.  I've said it before, and I repeat: for Windows 7 to be successful, it must do exactly one thing; Windows 7 must run faster than XP on all the hardware out there which is currently running XP.  That's it.

Aston watchYou are thinking this is a watch, maybe a nice watch, and you are not wrong, but this is also a key, a really nice key, for a car.  The $37,900 Jaeger-LeCoultre timepiece doubles to unlock doors and enable the start button of the new Aston Martin DBS.  I'm thinking as long as you get the car, you might as well get the key to go with it.  Right?

Rogers Cadenhead on parent's night out at the ol' alligator farm.  "When I'm looking for a relaxing night out with the missus, nothing puts me more at ease than letting my children roam around after dark in a place where they're not at the top of the food chain."  :)

John Gruber completely debunks the Adobe / Flash on iPhone rumors.  "Think about it: If there were a Flash player for the iPhone, you could write games and other software in Flash rather than in Cocoa Touch. And you could sell games and apps directly for the Flash player, completely circumventing the App Store. Does this sound like something Apple would allow?"  No.  Not for one second.

man with a right whaleThis picture of a guy with a whale is...  amazing.  Could be the most amazing picture I've ever seen, where "amazing" is truly construed to mean leaving one in a maze.  Just absolutely boggling.  [ click to enlarge to whale sized ]

crew working on International Space StationHere's another amazing picture, in an entirely different way; the crew working on the International Space Station, with Earth in the background.  This looks exactly like a scene from a science fiction movie.  [ click to enlarge to Earth sized ]

Despite my delight with all the ridiculous little startups they feature, I am afraid I'm going to unsubscribe from  Five a day was good, fifteen, too many.  They probably think publishing info on as many sites as possible is good, but I'd rather leave the filtering to them, and look at less crap. 

A good lesson to keep in mind whenever I try to figure out whether you would think something was interesting...  if I have to ask, I already know the answer :)



embedding digital slides

Friday,  10/03/08  03:25 PM

You guys know, my business is digital pathology, and the basic unit of digital pathology is the "digital slide", a digitized version of a microscope slide.  One of the cool things you can do with digital slides is to embed them in web pages.  This doesn't require any client-side plug-ins or other software, it can be done in any standard web browser, like this:

The + and - buttons on the toolbar let you zoom in and out, and the arrows let you pan around.  You can also navigate by dragging the little red rectangle around on the thumbnail image, or just by dragging the image itself.  Pretty cool, eh?

You might never need to do this yourself, but just in case you do or want to know more, I just posted about Putting digital slides in web pages on the Aperio blog.  You're welcome!




Saturday,  10/04/08  11:27 AM

Good morning!  And it is a good morning, a great morning, everything here is 10-4.  (Remember that expression?  If you're not old enough to remember the CB craze of the late 70s, it means "everything okay".)  Not only is it 10-4 because it is October 4th, but because, well, I feel much better - twelve hours of sleep! - and also because I have this nice little weekend with nothing planned.  It is even raining outside, lightly, the sunlight filtered through clouds, dappling the golf course.  Megan and I ran out to get bagels, and the lox tastes particularly good today, smokey and salty.  It is good to be alive on such a morning, so as to enjoy it!

bailout moral hazardI decided I was against any kind of government bailout bill, so they finally got their act together and passed one.  So be it.  My friend Nick suggests this won't keep us from having a couple of bad years, but it will allow us to recover faster.  I hope he's right.  Slate argues we should stop worrying about the moral hazard of the bailout, and just enjoy it.  Huh.

My boss Dirk sent me this presentation: The Subprime Primer.  Pretty funny and pretty accurate, I'm afraid...

Fring!Has anyone out there tried Fring?  This is a VoIP application for the iPhone / iPod Touch, a legal download from the Apple iTunes store (i.e. doesn't require jailbreaking).  Apparently when the iPhone / iTouch is connected via WiFi you can make voice calls for free, and interconnect to Skype.  I'm going to have to try it, even if it is a dancing bear, it sounds like a really cool dancing bear :)

I cannot read Fring without interpreting it as "Firing"; my brain sticks the "I" in every time.

world's fastest cycleWorld's fastest cyclist hits 82.3mph.  Wow, my hero.

Tivo have been busy; they've announced a deal with Nero for a tuner card and Tivo software which transform any PC into a Tivo box.  Kind of an expensive way to get there, since a TivoHD is only $300 before rebates, but cool nonetheless.  Of course you still have to subscribe to the Tivo service...

new Tivo user interface... and, the Tivo UI is apparently getting a facelift; screenshots have emerged of a new user interface.  Looks nice :)

Lamborghini EstoqueSpeaking of looking nice, Lamborghini have announced a new four-door sedan, the Estoque.  Wow, Maserati really started something with the Quattroporte, eh?  First the Porsche Panamera followed, then the Aston Martin Rapide, and now this...  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these cars all have a bit different look, true to the design cues of their brand.  Some work out better than others, and I think Lamborghini may have to do some tinkering here, but they have four years until production...

Lake Wobegon distributionSome interesting brain food: The Lake Wobegon distribution.  ("where all the children are above-average".)  In the diagram at right, the red curve is a "normal" distribution, and most are average; the blue box shows the high-end of normal, in which most are below average.  [ via John Gruber, who comments, this is why math nerds love baseball :]

Dell's 1920x1200 projectorAll my life I've been waiting for you...  the Dell 7609WU projector supports 1920x1200 pixels natively, with 3,850 lumens and a 2,700:1 contrast ratio.  Just $5,000.  I want one, this is the first projector I've seen which is up to the demands of showing digital pathology in action.

Finally, want to see what you were doing in 2001?  In celebration of their tenth birthday, Google have posted a 2001 search engine that looks just like Google circa 2001, and only returns results from 2001 and before...  pretty cool.  I'm in there, working for Intuit.




Saturday,  10/04/08  11:26 PM


Wow.  What a game!  What a series!
My Tivo is dancing.

Rafael Furcal
Russell Martin
Manny Ramirez
Andre Ethier
James Loney
Matt Kemp
Blake DeWitt
Casey Blake
Hiroki Kurouda, Cory Wade, Jonathon Broxton

NLCS, here we come...



Sunday,  10/05/08  10:29 PM

Well, I'm kind of sort of back to normal.  No more fever, no more coughing fits.  Still weak, but recovering.  Managed to do a ride yesterday (15 miles, just around the lake) and another today (again, 15 miles around the lake), at turtle speed.  And my brain is reengaged, I was actually able to work again.  Not to mention watching football and baseball, this time of year is the best for sports viewing...

Aleksei Venediktov, manager of Moscow's Echo radio stationA fascinating "letter from Moscow", by David Remnick in the New Yorker, Echo in the Dark.  About the Moscow radio station that is speaking truth to power, and has been for twenty years.  Amazing.

The NYTimes on the greening of Silicon Valley: Capitalism to the Rescue.  Kleiner Perkins are investing big in "clean entropy", and you have to believe it will help.  And make them serious money in the process.

Palomar's 200" mirrorWired on the birth of Palomar's Eye, in 1947.  Not only is Mt. Palomar a great bike ride :), it is also a fantastic destination for a day trip; to see the telescope, in working condition after fifty years, is amazing.  The scale and majesty are impressive, and to think it was all built by slide rules and pencil and paper; it took ten years just to polish the main mirror.  Wow.

This is pretty interesting - the shared suffering hypothesis.  The theory is that you should set up your systems to be as much like other people as possible, not as efficient for you as possible, so that you can more easily get support.  Not really that far off; I can remember the day, long ago, when I did a great deal of Windows' customization, but now I run a pretty vanilla setup.  This way I am more like everyone else, and also, if I ever have to duplicate it on another machine it doesn't take so long :)

from axons to tracts - the brain's wiringA cool video, from Axons to Tracts, a journey through the brain's wiring, if you can spare two minutes it is pretty cool...  what I find remarkable about these videos is that ten years ago, they would have amazed movie audiences on a big screen, now they are routinely created with desktop tools like Flash and posted to websites, and while we still think they're cool, they're no longer as amazing...  technology marches on.  [ via Digital Pathology Blog ]

Kind of sad and yet you can see it: Scientists spurn 'unfashionable' cancers.  "As money floods in for UK breast cancer and leukaemia research, 80 per cent of people with lung tumours are dying within a year of diagnosis."  It is like balancing a twenty-legged stool.



no sweep!

Sunday,  10/05/08  11:26 PM

broom... NOT!

Wow.  What a game!  What a series!
My Tivo is dancing, again (good thing I added two hours to the recording time).

Wow, a twelve inning masterpiece.  I was exhausted just watching.
And they play another today!  Whew.


Monday,  10/06/08  09:19 PM

Today I was *really* back to normal, so much so that I probably won't tell you anymore :)  Got my hair cut, registered my car at the DMV, took a different car to the dealer, had some clothes altered, ...  a normal day.  Oh, and I got some work done, too :)

I understand the market took it in the shorts again today (pun intended).  This is normal stuff, corrections, good stuff.  I'm sad to see my IRA portfolio decline, but happy to see the correction working itself out.  Time for normal valuations again.

The European and Japanese markets are responding in kind.  So be it.  I find it hard to think of this as a "crisis".  A crisis is when a hurricane hits a populated city, flooding thousands of homes.  This is more like, well, a market at work.

US GDP per personPowerline suggests this might make you feel better; the graph at right, which shows US GDP per person.  This would allow you to say the economy is working well, even if Wall Street isn't...

To nobody's surprise, the New Yorker endorses Obama for President.  They've been working hard for this ever since he defeated Clinton for the nomination, and of course have been heavily anti-Republican and anti-Bush for years.  Still, the tone of this issue is different, they're trying to convince their small handful of uncommitted readers, and are just slightly less strident as a result.  Expect the normal attacks to resume next week :)

This reminds me of the great comment by Bill Whittle, in the wake of 9/11, that the most important election of our lifetime was in 2000, but we didn't know it at the time.  Everyone thinks this election is so important, but I don't know; we're going to have change either way, and at the end of the day the President doesn't have as much power to change things as you might think.  Especially an inexperienced President like Obama is going to flounder for a while, figuring out what can be done.

The polls have Obama ahead comfortably at the moment, but Gerard Vanderleun points out flipping the weighting flips the polls.  Remember, all the polls had Kerry leading comfortably, too.  And he lost decisively.  The MSM are so far in the tank, their objectivity in everything, including polling, has to be suspect.

Le Project Triangle Parisian skyscraperParis is getting a new skyscraper (the first since 1977), the aptly named Le Project Triangle!  Very cool looking, too.  Will it fit into Paris?  No.  But then, neither did the crystal pyramid at the Louvre, and it has become a Parisian icon :)

plug-in hybridPlug-in hybrids: they're here....  [ via Instapundit ]

So eBay bought BillMeLater.  I can't figure this one out, can you?  I mean, they already own PayPal.  Is there anything BillMeLater can do that PayPal cannot?  It can't be just to get their users, or to take them out of the market...



SpaceX into orbit

Tuesday,  10/07/08  10:23 PM

Last Sunday I noted that SpaceX had successfully launched their Falcon1 rocket into orbit.  This is an incredible accomplishment, amazing really that they were able to do this as a privately funded company, on their own.  It was "only" their fourth launch, which given that everything must work in order for success to occur, is pretty great.  My admiration for my ex-Paypal-boss Elon Musk knows no bounds, he is an amazing person who is able to assemble teams of amazing people and get them to do amazing things.  I'm not embarrassed to admit that a part of me wants to pick up the 'phone and ask Elon for a job :)

Space X Falcon 2 launch videoSpaceX Falcon1 launch videoSpaceX have just released a detailed launch update, with lots of great pictures and including a really cool five minute video of the launch highlights (here it is, for your viewing pleasure, set to a nice driving rock beat, too).

It is worth emphasizing again that this is a different sort of accomplishment to that done by the Ansari X-prize contestants, including winner Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne.  As remarkable as that was, it consisted of building a launch vehicle and going "into space", formally defined as a 100km height.  SpaceShipOne reached a height of 112km and a top speed of 2,300mph (that speed was reached lower in the flight; by the time the craft reached 112km it was traveling zero, and then descended back to Earth).  In contrast, SpaceX's Falcon1 rocket had to reach an altitude of 640km in order to attain Earth orbit, at which point it was traveling 16,901mph.  It had to expend nearly 30 times as much energy as SpaceShipOne in order to do this.  In addition to putting itself into orbit, it also brought a payload of 340kg along with it, to demonstrate the future capacity to launch satellites and otherwise do useful work.  It is anticipated that the upcoming Falcon9 will be able to haul a payload of 10,000-25,000kg into orbit.  That means it could bring people into orbit, and puts it squarely into competition with NASA :) 

Of course the key capability with people is to be able to bring them back, and this remains to be demonstrated.  Stay tuned!


Tuesday,  10/07/08  11:17 PM

Whew, long day...  First in a while where I woke up to an alarm instead of sleeping in...  (yeah, I know, cue the violins...)  So up at 0400, drove down to Vista, had a day of meetings, including one over dinner (!), and drove home.  I am a bit tired...  still good to get back in the swing of things.

McCain vs ObamaSo tonight was the great debate!  Nearly everyone agrees it was BORING...  I fear this was McCain's last chance to win, and he didn't...  All Obama had to do was not lose, and he is really good at not losing.  It is amazing how the Republicans are being blamed for the current financial "crisis", despite Democratic policies being at the back of it; I guess the party in power always gets blamed for anything bad that happens, especially when George Bush is President, and McCain gets tarred with the Republican brush.  It kind of makes for a can't-lose situation.  Still, the Democrats have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory before, they can do it again...

Angels - Red SoxSo sad about the Angels, oh well...  Weird isn't it that they had the best record in baseball, and never looked like they were really competitive against the Red Sox, and the Cubs had the best record in the NL and yet they never looked like they could beat the Dodgers.  The postseason is definitely different, especially those five-game series where two hot pitchers can get you through.  So now I am rooting for Tampa Bay, and of course the Dodgers.  No baseball today and none tomorrow!  What will I do...

Another one of these great studies suggests red wine may protect against lung cancer.  Who wants lung cancer?  Man, pass the Merlot...

Windows 7 PDC videoWatch this Microsoft video, and then tell me, is there anyone on Earth who could possibly think this is a good thing?  (I must confess, I could not watch it all the way through; it was too cringe-inducing.)  This barely works as parody, it is so bad...  The tin ear of Microsoft marketing is honestly amazing.




still can't script October

Wednesday,  10/08/08  10:19 PM

Each day, as I post my days' worth of posts, I check my home page to make sure it isn't broken somehow, scrolling down to the bottom, and each day I therefore notice the last post on the page, which is usually ten days old.  But if I had a gap in posting for some reason it might be less, and so it is now; the last post on my home page is you can't script October, from a week ago.  And rereading it I realize it was never more true; the last week was completely unscriptable, with my recovery from a lung infection, the financial crisis and bailout bill, the McCain - Obama wars, including the world's most boring debate (okay, that was scriptable), and in lighter news the Dodgers sweeping the Cubs and the Angels getting blown out by Boston.  What will the next week bring?  Who can say?

public humiliationNew Yorker columnist James Surowiecki seems to have found his form commenting on the financial crisis of the day; his most recent effort, Public Humiliation, pounds the nail through the wood.  "Once upon a time, investment banks were private firms, structured as partnerships, and relying on the capital provided by the partners in order to run their operations.... But... there were two big waves of I.P.O.s, one in the nineteen-seventies and one in the eighties, at the end of which nearly every prominent Wall Street firm was public...  going public was a deal with the devil, because it meant exposing themselves to what was, in effect, a minute-by-minute referendum, in the form of the stock price, on the health of their operations."

Morning Light premierThis is amazing: Disney have made a movie about sailboat racing called Morning Light, and according to Scot Tempesta at Sailing Anarchy, who attended the premier, it doesn't suck!  That would be a complete first in the annals of movies about sailing; they generally botch it so badly you can't believe anyone who had ever set foot on a boat was involved.  I can't wait to see it!

Trizilla to weatherThe ultimate driving machine, cont...  The other day I posted pics of my encounter with Trizilla, the giant BMW Oracle racing trimaran now berthed in San Diego.  They have the rig up now, and my new best friend Gilles Martin-Raget took this picture during sea trials in a light breeze...  making 20 knots to weather.  Sheesh.  (click to enbiggen amazingly)

Velonews have an interesting interview with Tyler Hamilton, the discredited pro tour racer who came back from a two-year suspension to win the U.S. road racing championship this year.  You've got to root for him to make it all the way back.  Him and Floyd.  And Vino.  And Basso.  It will be the wildest possible year next year, huh?

Steve Jobs w iPhone 3GJohn Gruber thinks the iPhone 3G is the greatest piece of consumer electronics that has ever been made.  Huh.  I disagree with some of John's comments - especially where he thinks the lack of a physical keyboard is a virtue (!) - but I'm not sure I disagree with his conclusion.  I guess it would be interesting to ask, if the iPhone 3G is not the greatest, what is?  Looking around my house, the two contenders are my Tivo and my Centro phone, both of which I love more than an iPhone, but neither of which I would necessarily put forward as the greatest piece of consumer electronics ever.  Interesting...

Here we have Mufin, "an automated music recommendation engine that works".  If so, it would be the first one; I have tried Pandora, and, and they sort of work, but I put them in the dancing bear category.  Hope springs eternal, I will try Mufin, stay tuned...

Michael Arrington notes Yahoo closes at $13.76, and comments "what a train wreck".  Of course tech stocks have been battered by the general market downturn, but Yahoo is special for having fallen so far, so fast.  I wonder if Microsoft will buy them in the end, anyway?



the great dash unboxing

Thursday,  10/09/08  10:19 PM

The other day I reported I had been chosen as a DashExpress beta tester.  And today was the day - the Dash arrived!  Herewith, for your viewing pleasure, the great unboxing:

The box itself.

Open it up, and we have an installation guide and a getting started guide.
And a DashExpress.  It looks cute.

The entire contents of the box.
L to R, the DashExpress itself, a mounting bracket, and a nice little case, then
a USB cable (labeled, "do not use, computer connectivity not yet activated"),
a mounting disc, and two power adapters, one for the wall, one for the car.

Plug it in, turn it on, and poof! it works, and immediately finds an update to install.

Shades of Tivo, it gives you running commentary as it boots...

We made it!  Now it starts searching for GPS satellites...

And it has found them!  And located "my car", pretty exactly.

In addition to plugging in the DashExpress itself, I went online and registered myself at, a little portal where you can maintain addresses and other information for your DashExpress.  As soon as I entered my "home" and "work" addresses, the DashExpress made a little noise and confirmed the addresses had been downloaded.  Cool.

Of course the proof of this pudding is in the eating; I need to put it in my car and drive around.  Not only is it supposed to be a cool GPS, but it gets realtime traffic, so it can route dynamically based on actual driving speeds.  I can't wait to try it out.  Stay tuned!



Thursday,  10/09/08  10:33 PM

So how are you holding up?  I am feeling better physically, and mentally, but can't help but be affected by the general tone of gloom and doom.  I guess you just batten down the hatches and keeping plugging away.  The sun will come up tomorrow.  My kids are still cute :)

Today I saw an email thread from one of Aperio's investors, about Sequoia's "all CEO" meeting which reportedly began with a tombstone labeled "good times, RIP".  The general message was access to capital will be tough, and everyone has to conserve cash and reduce burn.  There will be opportunities for the survivors, but first they have to survive.  Later I read an email from Bill Gurley of Benchmark with essentially the same message.  Whew.

tech stocks diveIt is becoming apparent that investor confidence is gone.  The stock markets are sinking like stones, and nothing seems likely to reverse the trend anytime soon.  TechCrunch notes the Brutal pounding taken by Apple (red), Yahoo (green), Google (blue), and Microsoft (yellow).  Nasty.  And we haven't reached bottom.

Drudge had this link to Yahoo Finance, showing the Dow at 8,500, with the headline "Goodbye 9,000".  Yep, we might not see it again very soon.

The Economist thinks a global recession looms.

A silver lining: Oil plummets to $82.

"I'm okay, I landed on a taxpayer"Here's Powerline's nominee for greatest political cartoon ever, from Michael Ramirez.  I don't know about greatest ever, but it is pretty good.  In that funny but it really isn't funny way.

Chris Anderson notes the best advice I've heard all week: "Put wax in your ears. People are more afraid of flying than driving because the press does not report car accidents."  I don't know...  some information has to be useful, right?  And integrating across many sources has to be better than relying on one or two..

He goes on to discuss what recession means for free, a pertinent subject since he's very much preoccupied with "free" business models.  I think overall the impact will be negative, these advertising models that seem to support so much "free" are going to get much more scrutiny in a tight economy.  The old "dollars for eyeballs" value propositions are out the window.  You have to be able to monetize the traffic.

Tonight I watched the Phillies edge the Dodgers in game 1 of the NLCS.  Good game, well played.  It will be a tough series.  Tomorrow's game seems critical, if the Dodger's win they get the edge, but if the Phillies win they will probably be on their way to the World Series.  Seems likely to go at least six games either way, no brooms :)

And I must say that although I like Joe Buck, Fox really sucks.  That whole Jeanne Zelasko / Kevin Kennedy crew are horrible, and Tim McCarver is wearing on me.  I already miss TBS (but they're doing the ALCS, so they'll be back tomorrow).

Windows XP logoWell this is good news: Windows XP downgrade extended until July 31, 2009.  It now seems apparent that Microsoft have bitten the Vista bullet and will keep providing XP until Windows 7 is available.  Whether Windows 7 is any good remains to be seen, but it can hardly be worse than Vista.  Riight?

Galileo's telescopeAn interesting article in Wired: How the Telescope changed our minds.  "Four hundred years after its invention, the telescope has become an essential scientific instrument, an icon of science.  But it is more than just an extension of our senses - the telescope is an instrument of thought as well. Throughout its 400-year history, the telescope has changed our view of the universe and our view of ourselves."  Not only the telescope, but its cousin the microscope too.  Cool.

Uncov is back!  You have been warned :)




the King of Nürburgring

Friday,  10/10/08  09:18 PM

It’s the kind of discussion that often crops up when car guys get together – which is the fastest?  If money was no object, what supercar would you go for?

Nissan GT-R vs Porsche 911 TurboIf you're at all interested in such things, you might have been following the saga of the Nissan GT-R, which supposedly lapped the famous Nürburgring track in Germany faster than a Porsche 911 Turbo.  They're both really fast cars, so the argument is a little moot, but still, the Nissan's 7:38 lap time got people's attention, as being two seconds faster than the 911's 7:40.

Well this was all very exciting but there is one lucky guy who decided to see for himself which car was truly the fastest, and he just happened to own, himself, several of the world's fastest supercars, and he asked American Le Mans Series racer Marc Basseng to drive them each around Nürburgring to see which was fastest.  The cars in question, in alphabetical order, were an Enzo Ferrari, Koenigsegg CCX, Maserati MC12, Pagani Zonda F Clubsport, and Porsche Carrera GT (the Turbo's big brother).  These five – worth a cool $4.25 million in total - are each arguably one of the fastest cars ever made.  Which would win?

The CCX, the most expensive car in the group, took the longest to complete a lap – fast in a straight line, but the peaky way in which the power is delivered made it challenging to control.  Next up was the Porsche Carrera GT, with the lap in 7:28.71 - meaning that Basseng matched the time set by factory driver Walter Röhrl in the final stages of the car’s development (...and beat the 911 Turbo's time by 12 seconds, and the Nissan's by 10...)  Third quickest was the Enzo Ferrari, with a very impressive 7:25.21.  It might have been able to go quicker – but the electronic dampers at the rear of the car stopped working, on two separate laps on different days. The time is a tribute to Basseng’s perseverance and skill.  Second quickest was the Pagani, a bespoke creation of a small Italian niche builder, its enormous 7.3 liter Mercedes engine contributed to a remarkable time of 7:24.65.  That’s an average of more than 103mph, on a track which has blind crests and turns, bumps and jumps, and almost no run-off areas.

Maserati MC12And the winner was...  the Maserati MC12, the fastest production car made (at least on a track :), and the King of Nürburgring.  The MC12 posted an incredible 7:24.29, not only fastest of the group but also setting a new production car lap record in the process.  Awesome.

Despite churning out over 600hp, the Maserati's V-12 was actually the least powerful in the bunch (by way of comparison, the CCX has 901hp!), and the MC12 was also the heaviest car!  The aerodynamics, handling, and balance were the difference, as Basseng could stay on the throttle longer and more consistently all the way around the track.



Friday,  10/10/08  09:45 PM

Doing a little Friday night blogging...  while preparing expense reports (!) and watching the Dodgers lose to the Phillies.  (At least it is 8-2 right now, I assume they're toast, tonight, and probably in the series.)  [ Update: they did lose, 8-5.  Diggin' a hole... ]

Economist: The World on the EdgeToday the shit continued to hit the fan, as the markets collectively lost about 20% this week, without finding a bottom.  Wow, who ordered that?  The Economist's latest cover features The world on the Edge.  And nobody saw this coming.  I'm not embarrassed to say, I'm scared.  I think I'm in better shape than many, but when things get really bad, everyone suffers.

Sequoia pig's headYesterday I mentioned Sequoia's all-CEO meeting; today the entire Powerpoint was posted.  You have to check this out, especially slide 3, shown at left.  I'm guessing there have not been too many powerpoints at Sequoia with that graphic before.  Wow.

Mike Arrington thinks we have an Ignoble but much-needed end to Web 2.0.  If only.  I fear the Web 2.0 moniker will stick with us, even if many of the companies it describes will not.

An interesting point at the National Review: "George Bush has probably had the hardest administration since Lincoln."  Yep, with 9/11, a consistently hostile media, and now the crash of 2009, he has definitely had it tough.

Pretty kewl: uncov features a Time Masheen from October 2007.  That was not too long ago, was it?  Who knew?

Is this megamansion green?A $29M 15,000' megamansion; Inhabitat wonders Is It Green?

prefab house from Werner SobekDon't know about green, but this is beautiful; a prefab house from Werner Sobek.  Well okay it is green: "The R128 is a glass-and-steel home whose materials were planned to be 100% environmentally friendly and recyclable...  The home is also energy-efficient with solar panels on the roof and glass panels (triple-glazed!) that help maintain comfortable room temperatures all year round."

This is pretty amusing; TTAC has the latest long-form Audi ad.  The Thai or Chinese joke was excellent (referring to adoption, not food), and I love the twins :)  Yeah, you just have to watch it...



CalProg '08

Sunday,  10/12/08  10:31 AM

Yesterday I spent the entire day at CalProg '08, a progressive rock festival held in Whittier.  Thanks to my friend Bill Smith for putting it together!  (our visit, not the festival itself...)  It was pretty cool, four bands spread over twelve hours, with plenty of time for doing nothing (eating, walking, getting coffee, talking about prog rock) in between :) 

CalProg '08

I had never heard of the first band, Presto Ballet, a band from Seattle, but they were pretty cool; their vocalist in particular was great.  Here's a shot of them in action:

Presto Ballet at CalProg '08

Next up were IZZ, and they were okay, I guess; the guitarist in the kilt may have put me off, or maybe their music was too much fusion and not enough rock.  We have to have some rock in "progressive rock", right?  Beat, harmony, melody, that sort of thing?  These guys came out from New York, and they definitely had the "New York feel", with the wizecracking guitarist and all...  here's a blurry shot:

IZZ at CalProg '08

The third band was Sylvan, from Hamburg Germany (!); they're the band we came to see, and they were great.  Really really awesome, all the way from their German accents to their driving bass lines to their wailing guitar.  Could have been louder, is my only complaint, seemed like they didn't take full advantage of the sound system.  Sorry about the crappy camera work but here's Sylvan on stage:

Sylvan at CalProg '08

If you are at all interested in progressive rock, check out Porcupine Tree, Threshold, and these guys :)  Oh, here's what they look like backstage, enjoying the California sun after a long flight out:

Sylvan backstage at CalProg '08

The last band, Echolyn, from Philadelphia, truly sucked.  It is sad to say but I honestly wished we'd just left; their stage personna was hostile, their music was boring, and their musicianship was mediocre.  Hard to say anything good about them except perhaps that they were loud, which wasn't a virtue considering the music.  Too bad it ended that way, but it was a great day anyway!



Centro navigation

Sunday,  10/12/08  07:27 PM

One of the delights of my spiffy Palm Centro is full support for Google Maps.  Including being "location aware".  This uses that technology which isn't GPS where cell phone tower proximity is inferred from signal strength, and your location is triangulated accordingly.  It doesn't locate you within three feet - more like 30 meters - but that's close enough for you to find where you really are, based on streets and so on, and from there it is really useful.  (It will say "your location within X meters", where X is a big number, but then puts the little blue dot very close to where you really are.)

Centro location

The most excellent thing is searching for "stuff which is near you", and while at CalProg '08 I made use of this feature to great effect, finding a Starbucks within walking distance (crucial, addressing a serious caffeine deficiency), and later an Outback within easy driving distance (equally crucial, addressing a serious beef deficiency).  Once you've found something, getting directions to it from where you are is easy, and the step-by-step turn-by-turn interface is really nice.  You'll appreciate just hitting one [big] button when you've reached each intersection to move to the next leg if, say, you're walking or riding a bike.

I know, I know, it isn't an iPhone.  It's better.  Hit 0 and poof, blue dot.  Hit menu-S and poof, you have a search dialog.  And now you have a real keyboard on which to type "Starbucks" or "Outback" :)



(New Yorker 10/13/08 - bear market)

Sunday,  10/12/08  07:41 PM

New Yorker 10/13/08 - "bear market"



Sunday,  10/12/08  08:12 PM

Blogging on a Sunday in October, cold outside (50s), with the wind howling.  It's not summer anymore...  meanwhile it is all happening...

From my archives, a four-year-old post which describes perfectly how I feel today: I wish it was over.  "I don't know about you, but personally I can't wait until this election is over. Of course it probably won't be over next Tuesday either, more's the pity. As we get closer to the election, I find my blood boiling on a daily basis. We seem to have lost civility and reason this time around. I have my point of view, you have yours, let's respectfully exchange views and make our own decisions. But let's not tell lies. Let's not exaggerate things, and spin everything one way or another. Let's not call each other names. Let's make an effort to understand each other's point of view, even if we disagree with it."  Seems the more things change, the more they, er, don't.

A good call, from May 2006: "We are concerned that if effective regulatory reform legislation for the housing-finance government sponsored enterprises is not enacted this year, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole".  Signed, John McCain.  All twenty Senators who signed the letter calling attention to the urgency of reforming Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac were Republicans.  After May 2006, the Democrats continued to use Fannie and Freddy as their private slush funds until the inevitable collapse, which McCain had warned against so eloquently, occurred.  Any questions?

Is it time to buy stocks?  Not clear, maybe the stock market is about where it should be...  [ via Instapundit, who asks "who you gonna believe, the NYTimes or some blogger?" ]

"jumping dolphins"Photo of the day: jumping dolphins.  Beautiful.  Definitely click to enbiggen!

Time wonders Is laser-powered HDTV the highest def yet?  Could be...  oh boy, a new buying opportunity :)

LaCie 7.5TB array for $1,900LaCie ups the ante with 7.5TB for $1,900 (in a very HAL-9000 from 2001 -looking enclosure.  Wow.  That is 40,000 digital slides, at about 5¢ per slide.  And yet, in another year we'll have even bigger arrays for even less money, the "attack from below" in storage has been incredible.



Manic Monday

Monday,  10/13/08  08:49 PM

Sesnon fire!Just another Manic Monday (wish it was Sunday)...  actually it wasn't that manic, although the market behavior certainly was, rising more in one day than ever before, after having lost more last week than ever before in a week; whew!  Glad I'm playing the tides, not the waves...  meanwhile there be fires, near fires, browning the sky and dumping ash in my pool, and making cycling for a guy recovering from a lung infection unwise - crud.

Oh crud, the Dodgers lost again, 7-5, in a well fought battle.  I guess this just means the NLCS will go seven :)

vanishing pointChris Anderson on the vanishing point theory of bad economic news.  I have to admit this is true; economic news is always worse for everyone else.  Exhibit A are the U.S. car companies, which insist that 1) their industry is in huge trouble and 2) they themselves are not.  Riight.

Lamborghini GallardoWhat do you do in a financial meltdown?  If you're TTAC, you review the latest Lamborghini Gallardo.  "We never approached the car’s limits, but even at (maybe) 6/10 we constantly giggled. The rest of the time was spent shaking our heads in skeptical disbelief. Why? Because when diving into 45 mph turns at more than 90 mph you realize you could be doing 120 mph."  I've never been a fan of Lamborghini styling, but they make impressive machinery.  Wow.

P.S. I wonder how a Gallardo would fare against an MC12 at Nürburgring?

Quicken Online is finally free.  So be it.  In 1999 I worked on a project at Intuit called WebQuicken, which was not free, but which should have been; they could have gotten where they are now nine years earlier :)  And now they have Mint and a host of other Web 2.0 competitors...  fortunately for Intuit, they can ride out the financial storm and perhaps their startup competitors cannot.

Google ChromeNewScientist wonders if Google's Chrome has peaked already.  Well I can see why they would ask the question, but the answer is "no"; Google are in this for the long haul.  In the end the multiprocess architecture of Chrome will be important.  As soon as they support plug-ins like Adblock, I will switch.  Of course Firefox could rearchitect from multithread to multiprocess also, and then there would be competition...

So Windows 7 is going to be named...  Windows 7.  This is encouraging, it means marketing has not taken over the release.  Seriously.

Related, Robert Scoble is NOT going to Microsoft's PDC (professional developer's conference).  Me neither, in fact I never really considered it.  I sent Robert a note:

I’m not going to the PDC either, it just doesn’t seem that important.  How the mighty have fallen.  I totally remember the excitement around the PDC in ’03 when Vista was just coming out.  All the new stuff in Vista seemed so cool and so important; XAML / Aero, WinFS, Indigo, etc.  What a fizzle.  In the intervening five years, Microsoft has become far less relevant.  Sure, my company still develops code for Windows, but the new technologies in Windows just don’t seem important.  What could I possibly learn at the PDC that I can’t learn by reading blogs?

From the pages of history, four years ago John Gruber argued that video was not going to be a big deal.  Well, we can't always be right...  but that is a classic bad call.  Between YouTube, the videoPods, the AppleTV, etc., video has become huge.



Dashing around

Tuesday,  10/14/08  10:20 PM

As I reported the other day, I received my Dash GPS (!), and today I *finally* got a chance to use it, driving down to and around Vista.  First the bottom line - it is a great GPS.  A nice SIMPLE user interface, FAST calculations, online search, and integrated traffic information - what more could you want?

So, here's what it looks like...  it is attached via a suction cup to the windshield, dead center, and hangs over the dashboard (it looks like it is resting on it, but it isn't).  The mount is surprisingly stable, you can use the touch screen easily without moving the unit.

Here's a zoomed in view, you can see the suction cup mount.  There is also a power wire running down to a plug which goes into a cigarette lighter.  That's actually the ugliest part of the whole setup, and if this becomes permanent, something cleaner could be done with the power wire.  One cool thing is the Dash is battery powered, but it uses the external power to sense when the car is on (as well as to charge the battery).

Here's what the screen looks like when you're just driving around.  The interface is really simple, which is GREAT.  You have zoom in and out buttons, and that's it.  On the top of the unit is a menu button, which you can use to bring up menus that let you do various things, such as search for things, enter addresses, pick recent destinations, etc.

Lunchtime!  I'm looking for a Subway, so I hit Menu, hit Search, and now I can enter anything I want, like "Subway".  This uses Yahoo! local search via an online connection, no DVDs or anything...

The UI is really FAST, thank you.  As soon as you hit Search, poof, you get search results.  From there you just click on one of the results, and the GPS takes you there...

On the right it lists one or more routes to your destination, along with the projected time it will take using each of the routes.  This is where the Dash's ability to factor in traffic comes into play.  For each road along each route, it computes your likely speed given the current traffic level (or historic levels on that road for this day and time).

Click Go, and it goes, with a spiffy 3D view of your route.  The calculation is FAST, and if you happen to leave the route, it recalculates very quickly.  In this view the green lines mean "smooth traffic", the dashed line is your current route.  The lower right corner shows your expected arrival time - and in my limited experience so far, it is pretty accurate.

So that's it so far - I'm really enjoying Dashing around.  Stay tuned for more...




Tuesday,  10/14/08  10:48 PM

Today was a good day (thanks for wondering :)...  I spent the day in my office in Vista, but unlike many such days, it was blissfully meeting-free, allowing me to walk around and say "hi" to people, see what they're working on, etc., and actually sit quietly in my little cube and get some work done.  Sometimes it seems my days in the office are one meeting from dawn to dusk, this was nice.  And at the end of the day I did a great ride, 31 miles, the longest since my lung infection, and for the first time I felt oxygen transfer taking place again...  the fire in Camp Pendleton left a nice cloud to color the sunset, and there was a full moon.  What more could you ask for?

DSLM of a developing zebrafish cellPZ Myers reports on a new technique called Digital Scanned Laser Sheet Fluorescence Microscopy (DSLM), which let's a researcher watch every cell in a developing zebrafish - all at once.  The picture at left shows a developing cell, highlighted in realtime.  The movies of these cells growing are pretty mind-blowing.

Apple MacBook 15"Apple announced new MacBooks today, but perhaps the most interesting aspect wasn't the laptops, but the fact that Steve Jobs took a background role in presenting them, leading to speculation that he might be preparing his farewell...

Afterward John Gruber reviewed the announcements and scored the predications, then noted the problem isn't with predictions ("Predictions are fun. My predictions about Apple have been wrong far more often than they’ve been right. The problem is with false reports. None of the reports I called out yesterday were “predictions”, they were false reports.").  He's exactly right, the problem we have today is that journalists don't report what's true, they report whatever they want, as long as it suits some agenda.

Sorry but one more about the MacBooks; the Macalope wonders Is this a joke?  Regarding Adam DuVander's article on "the Apple Tax".  Clearly Adam thinks the only difference between an MacBook and a Dell laptop is price.  He must drive a Kia, so he doesn't have to pay "the Lexus Tax".  Sheesh.

Matt Cutts points out a nice new feature for site operators, Google has a new tool which shows you broken inbound links, as well as problems which occurred when the Google crawler scanned your site.  Nice.



Wednesday,  10/15/08  10:27 PM

L o n g  day today...  whew.  Tired.  And a bit discouraged.  Today I found myself wondering, what's it all about?  Why do we work so hard?  What's the endgame?  Strange, I started out refreshed, feeling good, but somehow the day wore me down, and a business dinner finished me off.  Blech.

Obama and McCain bobbleheads...I didn't watch tonight's debate, did you?  What did you think?  The pundits seem to be scoring this one for McCain, slightly, but with the proviso that "it wasn't enough".  Maybe they're just being nice since the polls are showing he doesn't have a chance anymore :)

Dave Winer had an interesting idea for Obama: "say something nice".  I wonder if he did?

Here's the NYTimes recap...  they concede that McCain scored points, but don't think he scored enough, apparently...

At least - this time - it wasn't boring...  maybe I should have watched :)

Aptera typ-1 electric carPresenting the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards for 2008...  Biggest winner appears to be the Aptera electric car.  [ via Instapundit ]

Check out this blog post from Elon Musk, my ex-boss at PayPal and one of the people I admire most, founder and CEO of SpaceX (which recently launched the first privately-financed satellite into orbit), and also founder and [now again] CEO of Tesla, one of the first viable electric car companies.  Note this especially:

One of the steps I will be taking is raising the performance bar at Tesla to a very high level, which will result in a modest reduction in near term headcount. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that the people that depart Tesla for this reason wouldn’t be considered good performers at most companies – almost all would. However, I believe Tesla must adhere more closely to a special forces philosophy at this stage of its life if we aspire to become one of the great car companies of the 21st century.

An interesting way to position a RIF.  Hmmm…

Google G1 smartphoneWalt Mossberg reviews the Google G1, and likes it quite a lot.  Here's the part that interested me: "By far, the G1’s biggest differentiator is that it has a physical keyboard, which is revealed by sliding open the screen."

Boo - didn't watch the game (good thing), but the Phillies trounced the Dodgers 5-1 this afternoon to wrap up the NLCS.  Crudbongers.  I was really looking forward to seeing the Dodgers back in the Series, I guess we'll have to wait 'till next year.  Between Philadelphia, Boston, and Tampa Bay I have no rooting interest in the remaining teams whatsoever.  I'll probably root for Tampa Bay, since they're the underdogs...  go Devil Rays!



moving backwards?

Thursday,  10/16/08  09:37 PM

One of the joys of blogging - especially having done so for a while now - is re-reading old posts.  I often get sucked into doing this by looking at referer logs (essentially, who out there is linking to my blog), and just yesterday I re-discovered a post called moving backwards from November 2005.  It's great; please take a moment to read it.  I'll wait.

The question posed in this post is: am I still capable today of doing things I could do in the past.  Essentially, am I moving backwards?  I wonder about this a lot, with fifty approaching (yeah, I am 49 now, and will turn 50 in December).  There are certainly some things I can't do as well as I could twenty-five years ago, but they are mostly physical.  I don't have the intensity I had in my mid-twenties; I could work all night on a program without interruption, only to discover I'd gone twelve hours without eating, sleeping, or communicating with any other humans (perhaps this contributed to the downfall of my first marriage :).

In the nearer term, my moving backwards post was pretty good; could I write it today?  Or was I capable, at 46, of writing something I could no longer write today, at 49?  In three more years I may read this post, and compare it to that one; which will seem "better"?  Not clear.  (I'll check back in three years and let you know :)

Today I participated in a board meeting; with the current financial turmoil you can fill in the blanks, yeah, it was "interesting", and we have some cool new opportunities we reviewed as well, and the combination of messages was/is difficult to process (be financially conservative while aggressively pursuing new opportunities = huh?).  I'm definitely better at that sort of discussion and analysis than I was twenty-five years ago, or even three years ago.

So on balance I reiterate my conclusion from November 2005; there were things I've done that were good, and I wouldn't do them the same way today, but I don't think I'm moving backwards.  Whew!



Thursday,  10/16/08  09:58 PM

I am sitting in Claim Jumper over a steak and a glass of Pinot, reading the news… spent the day in a board meeting and post-board-meeting-meetings, then did a nice ride (yay!) - my second 30 miler this week.  The day didn't start well; I almost overslept, I had the ultimate hair on fire awakening… fell asleep last night watching Get Smart, if you can believe that, and enjoyed it (don’t tell anyone) and was up ‘till way too late.

Get Smart - version 1Get Smart - version 2I wasn't late to the board meeting - just made it - but if I had been I would have been tempted to observe, "missed it by that much".  Maybe it was my mood but I can't remember having enjoyed a comedy as much as I enjoyed Get Smart for a long time.  It wasn't stupid, it was funny, it was interesting, and the characters seemed real (despite being caricatures, if that makes sense).  The interaction between this movie and the history of the old series was especially well done; when Max steals a shoe phone from an old Control museum and ends up using it to make a call forwarded through a cell phone, it was especially great... 

BTW weird that there are two versions of this movie's poster...

So what's happening?  The Ole filter makes a pass...

I missed the third and final debate between McCain and Obama last Wednesday, but it seems to have been the best; the Economist has a nice overview.  "The third and final debate, which took place at Hofstra University, New York on October 15th, was a firecracker of a show, as riveting as the two previous meetings were soporific. The candidates discussed substantive issues. They exchanged sharp blows. And, most of the time, they avoided reciting their talking points."

The debate seems to have helped McCain; although there was disagreement among pundits about "who won", in the subsequent days polls have shown McCain closing the gap.

Gerard Vanderleun links an interesting analysis from Zombie: The Left's Big Blunder.  "Obama supporters operate on the assumption that individual McCain supporters or undecided voters will in actuality change their minds about who to vote for if they perceive that a majority of people are supporting Obama...  I submit that this assumption is a catastrophic blunder.  On November 4, they will go into that voting booth, and in total privacy and anonymity, they are free to vote for whomever they want, without fear of social condemnation for doing so."  I've wondered about this myself; how many people tell their friends (and pollsters) they are supporting Obama, but secretly like McCain?  I don't think this has anything to do with race; it has just become so unfashionable not to support Obama that it is easier to act like you do, too.

baby Galapagos turtlePanda's thumb features a baby Geochelone nigra, i.e. a Galapagos turtle.  Awww, isn't he cute?

lilly petalNational Geographic have announced their best microscopic images of 2008.  It is only October - what if someone now creates an ever better one? - but these are pretty cool.  Check 'em out!  My favorite by the way is the highly magnified lily petal shown at right...




loudest bands?

Friday,  10/17/08  07:47 AM

So last night I had a late long drive home - yes, I am still enjoying my little Dash, by the way, and it took me on a new route which didn't make any sense but only cost an extra 10 minutes - and I was really tired and struggling to stay awake.  So I stopped a few times to get a Diet Coke, and I played LOUD MUSIC.  My ears are still ringing, but I got home safely :)

Which leads to me ask the question - what bands sound the best loud?  I had a great time randomly scanning my collection of 10,000 old rock songs to figure this out.  Here's my short list of finalists, in ascending order of loudness:

  • Europe.  Seriously loud vocals laid over driving guitar.  I recommend the Final Countdown, and Ready or Not.
  • Rush.  Oh yeah.  Red Sector A will keep you awake.
  • Black Sabbath.  An oldie but goodie, pioneers of basting rock.  Heaven and Hell is exhibit A.
  • Deep Purple.  One of my favorite bands from way back.  Smoke on the Water has to make the list, but Highway Star is on top.  Solid wall of sound.
  • Van Halen.  Of course, they must be on the list, for Jamie's Cryin if not Panama.  Maxwell Jump is pretty good loud, too.  In fact there is no Van Halen song which ins't great at volume.
  • Threshold.  Had to get a prog rock band on the list, right?  Try Critical Mass for 13+ minutes of loudness.
  • ZZTop.  Imagine those boys swaying in unison, as you reach for the volume knob playing Under Pressure.
  • Metallica.  Listen to Unforgiven or Enter Sandman at volume, and you'll find the secret to the world.
  • Def Leppard.  Does their music sound great loud or what?  The ultimate is Foolin', but I have to call out Rock of Ages for the classic "gunter gleiben glauten globen" beginning.

Styx - the Grand IllusionAnd out of all of this, my choice for the loudest band (the band whose music sounds best loud)... is...

  • Styx.  Really there is no content - Miss America, Lady, Too Much Time on My Hands, Man in the Wilderness...  it all sounds fantastic at full volume.  If you ever need to stay awake late at night, and you're fortunate to have a powerful stereo, Styx it is.  And my very favorite really loud song is Castle Walls.  Blam!

Your ears may disagree.  Please, let me know what you think :)



Riding the Wild Sierra

Saturday,  10/18/08  01:30 PM

Urgh - my legs hurt already - just read an announcement of Riding the Wild Sierra, a new double century ride next year, taking place in the same area as the Death Ride.  Only this will be 20,000' over 8 passes and 200 miles, instead of "just" 15,000' over 5 passes and 135 miles.  Mark your calendars - the inaugural event will be June 14, 2009.

Here's the route map:

Riding the Wild Sierra - course map

It is essentially the Death Ride, backwards, with an extra 70 miles and a bunch of climbing up front.  Here's the profile, showing the eight passes and 20,300' in all their glory:

Riding the Wild Sierra - course profile

Making this ride extra-special, it saves the hardest climb for last - the 8% grade from Lake Topaz back up to the top of Monitor.  This is just a maniacal ride, it will be very difficult to complete in under 16 hours.  Wow.  And yes, I am planning to do it, but that's easy to say because it isn't until next June...



I am Joe

Saturday,  10/18/08  03:12 PM

I am Joe.  Even though my name is Ole, I am Joe.  Even though I am Dutch, and live in Los Angeles and work in San Diego (hardly flyover country), I am Joe.  Even though I have four daughters, I do like tossing a football on the front lawn, and I am Joe.  Even though I don't change my own oil, and have to hire a real Joe to unclog my drains, I am Joe.  I don't smoke, and I drink wine instead of beer, and I would be hard-pressed to find the nearest Wal-Mart, but I am Joe.  I wouldn't necessarily say everyone in my family and everyone I grew up with is a Joe, but still I am Joe.  I would definitely say if you screw with Joe, with any Joe, you screw with me.

Oh yeah, I am voting for McCain, and I don't care who knows about it.  I'm proud to be different from the mainstream media and Hollywood and every foreign government you might name.  I am Joe, and I am an American.



Saturday,  10/18/08  10:47 PM

The big news from me today is I was able to do one of my usual rides around here - a 25 miler with 3 sharp climbs and 1 long one - in a respectable time.  I'm not back to 100%, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Ironically it has been exactly four weeks since I rode the double century in Napa and got sick.

Nerd note: I have changed my blogging software somewhat...  please tell me if you find something broken!  The hoped-for effect is that all pages load somewhat faster...

The real JoeThe I am Joe meme has taken off.  It definitely seems to resonate.  Whether it helps McCain or not is doubtful, since it mostly resonates with people who were voting for him anyway.  Polls do seem to show the race tightening, however; Zogby has it 47-45 right now...  and Fox wonders is it closer than we think.  That's what I think.  Or hope?

If you are undecided, you might find this comparison between McCain and Obama on space policy to be interesting.  Well I guess you might even if you're not...  [ via Instapundit ]

Colin Powell endorses Obama...  it sure would have been more interesting if he had done this months ago, doesn't take much courage to do it now, and makes him look like he's jumping on the bandwagon instead of leading the charge.

This is pretty scary; Jeffrey Goldberg writes about the things he carried through airport security.  Actually it isn't that scary; thinking people realize our airport security is a farce and doesn't do anything to protect us, it only serves to make non-thinking people feel more secure.  [ via Kottke ]

As I wonder if I'm moving backward, Randall Parker writes about Myelin And Finger Tapping Speed Peak At Age 39.  "Your finger tapping speed and myelin insulation both peak at about age 39. After that it is all downhill until the development of rejuvenation therapies that will remyelinate the brain."  So be it.  While my finger tapping may have slowed in the past ten years, I weigh less and am faster on a bike :)

Wow, congrats to the Boston Red Sox, great game today in which they beat Tampa 4-2, setting up tomorrow's game 7.  I am rooting for Tampa to win overall, but the last two games I was rooting for Boston to make it a longer series.  So far, so good :)

the Mini EWant an electric car, but can't afford a Tesla?  How about a Mini E?  "The front wheels of the MINI E receive torque through a single speed gearbox from a 204 hp, 162 lb-ft electric motor...  The MINI E can hustle to 62 mph in 8.5 seconds and, according to BMW, can cover about 150 miles on a full charge of its lithium ion battery pack."  Nice!  And cute... I love the plug on the roof, that's a great touch.

Daniel Lyons looks at the mess that Yahoo has become, and wonders why is Jerry Yang still in charge?  "Eight months ago, Yahoo!CEO Jerry Yang had a chance to sell his company to Microsoft for $43 billion. He refused. Now Yahoo's market value stands at $18 billion. This raises a question: Why is Jerry Yang still running this company?"  I don't know if anyone can do anything to get it back to $43B, that ship seems to have sailed...

Wrapping up - an excellent list of annoying and pretentious figures of speech.  [ via Althouse ]  Bonks the nail right on the head.



when new versions suck

Sunday,  10/19/08  11:25 AM

Don't you just hate it when new versions suck?  You know what I'm talking about, I know you do...  you have this software, and you use it every day, or weekly, or once in a while, and you like it, and you know it, and, well, it works for you.  Maybe it has some bugs, maybe you wish it would be faster or better in some way, but it works for you.  And then you find there is a new version.  And you want to "stay current", and you're hoping if you upgrade maybe it will be faster or better in some way, and so you install the upgrade. 

At this point, one of two things happens...  The good outcome is that the new version is like the previous version that you knew and liked, and maybe it fixes some bugs, and maybe it is faster or better in some way, and still it works for you.  The bad, horrible, sucky outcome is that the new version is different, you no longer like it or know it, and now it doesn't work for you anymore.  Maybe the UI is changed, or they took something away, or instead of being faster or better it is now slower and not better.  And now you have this new version, and you can't decide whether to go back to the old version (what happens then...   do you stay on the old version forever, hoping for a newer new version which is better) or whether you should try to live with the new version.  It is horrible when new versions suck.

SlingPlayer v1This happened to me yesterday with something I knew and liked, and use all the time; my Slingbox Player.  So Sling has come out with "version 2", and it is all different; the UI is different, there's stuff missing, they invented some new kind of online account thing, and worst of all it is slower and not better; the picture looks worse, and it uses way more CPU time.  YUK.  So I've temporarily gone back to the previous "version 1" (thank you Acronis TrueImage - you do backup your computer before you install new versions, riight?).  And now I'm in that "what do I do now" position.  I think I keep using version 1 and hope that version 2.1 is around the corner!

BTW this is exactly what happened with XP and Vista.  And MS Office.  And Visual Studio.  (Microsoft seems to specialize in this sort of badness.)  Other examples in my life include Photoshop (I'm still on version 6, thank you), X1 (I'm still using a beta version from four years ago, thank you), and Norton Antivirus (I'm still using 2003, because it is way faster than subsequent versions, thank you).

When this happens it is usually a leading indicator that the parent company is headed in the wrong direction.  I sure hope that's not the case with Sling!



Sunday,  10/19/08  09:02 PM

In an unintended experiment, today I proved that not eating any protein all day lowers my energy level, reduces my ability to focus, and puts me in a bad mood.  Also results in weak and unsatisfactory bike rides.  Lesson learned, protein is a good thing :)

The Economist asks: how big a lead does Barack Obama really enjoy over John McCain?  That is a tough question to answer, of course, and they discuss the challenges of polling in general and polling this election in particular.  "This year has presented unusual challenges, largely because of Mr Obama. One difficulty is turnout... the youthful and black Mr Obama has brought both groups out in large numbers, getting them to register, to attend rallies and, during the primary season, to cast votes.  Many experts still think that white voters will tell pollsters that they might vote for Mr Obama, but secret racism, concealed for embarrassment, will have them voting for Mr McCain instead."  Not to mention secret conservatism.  I don't know the answer, but I do know this; the lead is smaller than you think, even if you know it...

This sounds like an interesting book: Razib reviews Red state, Blue state, Rich state, Poor state.  Like him, I don't read political books often (actually "never" might be accurate) but this one sounds 1) balanced and 2) interesting.  Stay tuned.

Robert ScobleRobert Scoble apparently took offense to the I am Joe meme; in a reversal with Iowahawk, the blogger who started it (and who usually posts satire), Robert satirically offers I am not an American.  I think if McCain supporters continue to put "I am Joe" on their blogs, and Obama supporters put "I am not an American" on theirs, the choice will be clear :)

Just to be clear, the I am Joe meme in no way implies that people who aren't Joe aren't Americans.  I may not agree with Robert, but I respect his opinion and right to have it.  Good thing we live in a country where we can disagree, in public!

My loudest bands post has provoked some email responses - thank you - and interestingly, the most vocal are not of the "hey I can't believe you included X" category, nor of the "hey I can't believe you didn't include Y" category; instead they are of the "hey I can't believe you ranked X ahead of Y category".  The biggest complaint was ranking Styx ahead of all the rest, but I stick with my choice; Miss America or Castle Walls are amazing at full volume.  I'm thinking critics of my choice just don't have a loud enough stereo to perform the comparison properly :)

physical graffiti - todayphysical graffiti - originalThe other day I noted Led Zeppelin was my favorite band of all time, and Physical Graffiti my favorite album.  World of Wonder reports artist Lou Cannizzaro went back to 96 St. Marks Place in Manhattan 33 years after that location starred on the cover, and took pictures of the building today.  Cool!

Sailing Anarchy Flying Dutchman nationalsSailing Anarchy are sponsoring the FD Nationals!  How cool is that?  Ever since I was a little kid, I've always wanted to have a Flying Dutchman, and not just because I'm Dutch :)  Actually I'd settle for sailing one...  this is the one dinghy guaranteed to draw a crowd in any boatyard (especially with the mast stepped :).  I've raced 505s, which are reputedly faster, but I *still* want an FD.  For the life list...

[Added at the end, as I was watching them win while blogging...] Hey congrats to Tampa Bay, for going from worst to first, outpitching the Red Sox 3-1, and going to their first World Series.  I've been rooting for them ever since the Dodgers lost, and will continue doing so; it would be excellent to see them beat the Phillies.  It won't be easy and I am rooting for seven games :)



(New Yorker 10/20/08 - Red Scare)

Monday,  10/20/08  10:09 PM


New Yorker cover 10/20/08 - "red scare"

"Red Scare"

Scary indeed.  I have to wonder, is this motivated by the impact the financial meltdown has on New York (could be) or by emphasizing the crisis because the average Joe thinks the meltdown was caused by the current administration, and hence will be more likely to vote for Obama (also could be).  With the New Yorker these days, everything seems to be politically motivated. 
Still, nice cover...


Monday,  10/20/08  10:59 PM

Dear diary, today I worked.  Oh and with Shirley traveling, I was a kid taxi.  No ride for me today.  Blech.  Tomorrow will be better :!

Would the last honest reporter please turn out the lights?  Worth quoting in detail, because this is telling it like it is (and like you will not hear it from any of the mainstream media):

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.  What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.

The goal of this rule change was to help the poor - which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house - along with their credit rating.  They end up worse off than before.

Revisiting Scoble's I am not an American rant-response to the I am Joe meme... Instapundit quotes reader Hugh Thorner: "You might be unAmerican if . . . A Vice Presidential candidate schmoozes a crowd by calling them pro-American and you immediately think you're being called un-American."  Heh, indeed.

So what do you think, will GM and Chrysler merge?  TTAC says GM lacks the investors...  Despite calling this a merger, it would really be GM acquiring Chrysler, and it is hard to see what they get out of it, except perhaps more government handout money.  How the mighty have fallen.

John Hodgeman on Boing Boing GOOD EVENING: John Hodgman (aka "PC") blogs on Boing Boing.  Excellent.

The World Series starts Wednesday, and King Kaufman asks Rays vs. Phillies, Who Cares?  And then proceeds to tell you why you should care, if you're a baseball fan...  (link captured as PDF to dodge Salon's paywall)  I care, I like watching baseball, and I've invented a rooting interest - go Rays!

Saturn from CassiniToday's Astronomy Picture of the Day is marvelous; Saturn from Cassini, in all its amazing beauty.  Can you imagine looking out your spacecraft window and seeing that?  For the life list :)

Apropos my rant when new version suck: John Gruber notes If it ain't broke, don't upgrade it.  "Bob Staake, the artist who still uses Photoshop 3.0:  'When I open up Photoshop 3.0, it’s there and ready to go in four seconds flat, and when I have opened CS2 my fingernails will have grown a quarter inch before the app appears.'"  I know exactly how he feels.

Robert Cringley speculates on Apple's HD video plans, noting the H.264 hardware support in the new Mac laptops.  Could be...  It would be nice to have 1080p in iTunes, but 1080i seems just fine.  Rumor has it Apple are preparing to launch HD displays with the AppleTV functionality built in - that would be cool...

Meanwhile Jason Kincaid at Techcrunch thinks Lala may have found the next revolution in music.  They're offering any song "from the cloud" for 10¢.  Hmmm.  And that goes as a credit in case you decide to buy the song and download it, DRM-free.  That actually does sound like a pretty good deal.  Hmmm...

TRYING IT NOW.  Listening to Styx, Too Much Time on my Hands (another worthy entry in the "best loud song" sweepstakes).  Sounds good.  Cost was 0¢ because they offer fifty songs free.  But I probably would have paid 10¢ to listen to this song, this way, anytime I want...  Hmmm.  Stay tuned :)

[Clarification] Turns out a song only costs 10¢ if you want to "add it to your collection".  You can listen to as many songs as you want, FREE, while figuring out which ones to add to your collection.  This rocks pretty hard.

Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones - "puppies"Finally, Ann Althouse notes some celebrities know how to do the "celebrities in politics thing exactly right"...






Tuesday,  10/21/08  09:39 PM

More work, more kid taxiing, and still blech although I did get in a ride today, so it was better.  And I was able to get some code running "in production" that I've been working on, so that was nice.  I can't complain but sometimes I still do.  And meanwhile, it's all happening...

Lala rocksSo I must tell you, I like Lala.  To early to tell if it is a fad or a keeper, but I've spent more time listening to music there than on any other online music site so far...  and they don't even have much of a "sounds like this" capability.  Basically I already know all this music, but I don't have it, and there it all is...  I haven't downloaded anything yet, I guess that will be the proof of the pudding.  Stay tuned...

Remember Mississippi Queen?  Can you name the band?  ... Mountain ...

India's moon mission blasts offIndia have launched their first moon mission!  "The unmanned Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft blasted off smoothly from a launch pad in southern Andhra Pradesh to embark on a two-year mission of exploration.  The robotic probe will orbit the Moon, compiling a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and mapping the distribution of elements and minerals.  The launch is regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia."  Wow, how excellent.  Good for them.

Microsoft's sidesight technologyThis is an amazingly innovative idea: Microsoft's Sidesight.  Technology that detects gestures you make with your fingers at the sides of a mobile device, that can be used for controlling it.  No touchscreen required, multitouch or otherwise.  A great idea...

Matt Haughey notes Tivo's rebound.  "Off and on for the past six years I've been an armchair quarterback for TiVo telling them they should do anything and everything to become profitable... What I realized this week is that TiVo has spent the past couple years starting battles on all these fronts, and it looks like (at least to this outside observer) like TiVo is winning on all fronts."  I'm a huge fan, of course, even more so after my ill-fated flirtations with Moxi and other DVRs.

BW has an interesting interview with Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent.  They play up Bram's Asperger's Syndrome angle, but neglect the more interesting question of how you take a successful program like BitTorrent and turn it into a successful business.  So far it is an unanswered question...




Wednesday,  10/22/08  11:15 PM

A couple of months ago we added a little guinea pig to our household, you might remember Smokey as a little fuzzball.  So he's a bigger fuzzball now, but still cute, and still makes burbling noises when comfortable.  One of his favorite pastimes is watching baseball on my shoulder.  And so it was that we found ourselves settled in tonight, watching game 1 of the World Series.  At this writing the game isn't over (although the Phillies are looking good) so I'll comment on the game later.

smokey in harness

This picture shows Smokey in his harness (who knew there were such things?); yes, of course we take him for walks :)



Wednesday,  10/22/08  11:21 PM

Today was windy, whew, and hot too.  Weird weather, fire weather I guess...  a quiet day of coding, emailing, and [now] baseball watching, punctuated by a good ride (Rockstore, first time since I got sick) and a nice dinner with my kids.

If you're a student of this Presidential election, you can only conclude the pollsters have thrown up their hands and given up.  Here we have an AP poll showing a dead heat, while here we have a Fox poll showing a 9 point lead for Obama.  Take your pick.  Or don't, since the polls are wrong this year, very wrong.  Instapundit has links to more discussion.

Regardless, the relentless media bias on display has been nothing short of disgusting; LGF sums up "this is the year the media died".  In this vein, a new study shows Coverage of McCain Much More Negative Than That of Obama.  It will certainly be a long while before they're trusted again, if ever...

Here's some bad political thinking by Matt Haughey, who should know better; he wants broadband everywhere, and universal healthcare.  Sure, and while we're at it, let's have universal cars - why should only some people have them - and universal houses - why should some people be homeless?  There's a word for this, and it starts with a C...  [hint: it is not capitalism].

BTW did you know?  "Socialist" is the new black.  Incredible.  [ via LGF ]

Tour de France 2009 routeThe 2009 Tour de France route has been announced, and it looks excellent; the opening stage is in Monaco, and it passes through Spain, Andorra, Switzerland and Italy, including a 15km team time trial as prologue, and a hilltop finish on Mont Ventoux on the penultimate day.  Should be great fun.

Not to mention, in addition to Lance Armstrong being back in the peloton, we'll have Ivan Basso back, and maybe even Vinokourov.  Maybe even Tyler Hamilton.  Maybe even Floyd Landis.  Maybe even - dare I hope - Michael Rasmussen?

Ted Dziuba thinks maybe Yahoo shouldn't have bought all this shit.  D'ya think?  "Yahoo is firing a bunch of people to cut $400 million from its budget.  That sucks for the people who work there, but the entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who hustled Yahoo out of more than $2.5 billion in the last 4 years probably aren't terribly concerned.  In the typical American fashion, Yahoo bought a bunch of shit it didn't need with money it didn't have. That, of course, was no problem at the time because the stock market always goes up..."  Except when it doesn't.  As Ted would say (but didn't): FAIL.

Wired wonders will the economy kill 'free' on the Internet?  I don't think so; this is what everyone wondered after the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, and yet 'free' took off.

multicolor search lab for flickrThis is really cool: the Multicolor Search Lab finds Flickr photos by one or more colors.  Way cool.  This would be even cooler as a front-end to Google's image database, but perhaps that will come...  [ via kottke ]





Thursday,  10/23/08  09:40 PM

Ha - did Rockstore again - this time even under two hours (but who's counting)?  So that was good...  Aperio is hosting a major digital pathology conference next week - Pathology Visions - and I wrapped up some work for that, which was good too.  And our new release is in beta at five sites, so far so good.  And...  I watched baseball with Smokey.  So it was a good day :)

My friends are all over the political map - some left, some right, many in the middle - and they don't agree on who's going to win, either...  seems some people are predicting an Obama landslide, and some a McCain surprise.  Nov 4 should be an interesting day :)

GnomesThis book is the awesomest...  Gnomes.  I've had it since I was hardly larger than a Gnome myself.  And now John "I'm a PC" Hodgman has posted about it; he thinks it is awesome, too.  And points out what we all know, that the authors are Dutch...

Enceladus up close!As you know, I'm a connoisseur of Saturn pictures, so I loved this gallery of Enceladus up close.  "Saturn's tiny, icy moon Enceladus has recently been visited by NASA's Cassini orbiter on several very close approaches - once coming within a mere 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the surface.  Only about 500 kilometers wide (310 miles), it is very active, emitting internal heat, churning its surface, and - through cryovolcanism - ejecting masses of microscopic ice particles into Saturnian orbit.Amazing.  (I've actually run out of adjectives for this stuff.)

Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin thinks the first humans to visit Mars should plan to stay there...  certainly the first colonist to the "new world" of America had no expectation of ever returning...  interesting.  You would definitely get a different class of volunteers.  Which would have implications for the first human society on Mars.

Lala!Still liking Lala, in case you're wondering.  It has actually become part of my daily routine...  I haven't exhausted my 50 free songs yet, mostly just listening to songs from the cloud.  Not clear if the 10¢ per song cost will add enough friction to get me to stop using it.  I don't think so.

Dave Winer is running Windows on Amazon.  Hmmm...  That sure has possibilities...



Friday,  10/24/08  08:54 PM

A day of coding...  and riding (third straight Rockstore!)... and, er, powerpointing...

Today's dog bites man story: most voters say news media wants Obama to win.  By 70-9%.  Unbelievable.  Except I totally believe it.  Don't you?

The Corner: "The reason the press are going to such shameless lengths to drag Obama across the finish line is because he's their last best hope at restoring the old media environment, including a new Unfairness Doctrine for radio, and regulation of the Internet".  Could be...  but I think it is also something simpler and less calculated: bandwagon jumping.  Since "everyone" knows Obama is going to win, "everyone" wants to be on the winning side.  It's cool.  Riight.

It has gotten this bad: ABC's Michael Malone is embarrassed to be a journalist.  I would be, too.  But at least he's honest about it, which is a good start...

Nike HindsightFrom CrunchGear we get news of the new Nike Hindsight, glasses which provide a built-in "rear view mirror".  Cool.  Probably a dancing bear, but still, cool :)

Meanwhile Ted Dziuba predicts the fall of the house of Crunch.  "The arena is kind to noone."  Oooh, I like that!  (I predict you will read that again, right here :)

A very telling post by Stuart Ellman: Flat is the new 40% markup.  "Everybody in startup land, pay attention.  Pricing is down 40% right now.  Until the markets come back up, that is the reality."  That's why everyone is tightening their belts, laying off staff, and being conservative...  money has become expensive.

the Burberry QuattroporteThis must be illegal; here we have the Burberry Quattroporte.  I am not making this up, but I wish I were (as do, I'm sure, the folks at Maserati)...





relatively deprived

Saturday,  10/25/08  11:15 AM

As we all ponder the possible Presidency of Barack Obama, which will apparently include the concept of redistribution of wealth, I thought it would be interesting to revisit a classic article by John Cassidy in the New Yorker: Relatively Deprived [PDF].  Written in March 2006, Cassidy considers the possibility that "poverty" is a relative concept; that is, in order to raise people above the poverty line it isn't enough to make poor people richer, you also have to make rich people poorer.  This is a serious theory, by the way, seriously considered.  It seems preposterous to me.

To show you how far people can carry this thinking, let me quote from the article:

The conservative case against a relative-poverty line asserts that since some people will always earn less than others the relative-poverty rate will never go down. Fortunately, this isn’t necessarily true. If incomes were distributed more equally, fewer families would earn less than half the median income. Therefore, the way to reduce relative poverty is to reduce income inequality - perhaps by increasing the minimum wage and raising taxes on the rich. Between 1979 and 2000, the inflation-adjusted earnings of the poorest fifth of Americans increased just nine per cent; the earnings of the middle fifth rose fifteen per cent; and the earnings of the top fifth climbed sixty-eight per cent.

Are you getting this?  All we have to do to reduce poverty is to reduce income inequality.  If "we" just raise taxes on the rich and make them poorer, we'll reduce poverty.  This is dangerous stuff, and people honestly believe it.  Here's more:

Introducing a relative-poverty line would help shift attention to the larger problem of social exclusion. Although few attempts have been made to address the issue, the results have been promising. A recent long-term study of Head Start, which began in 1964, as one of the original “war on poverty” initiatives, found that poor children who participated in the program were more likely to finish high school and less likely to be arrested for committing crimes than those who did not. And in another initiative, undertaken between 1976 and 1998, the city of Chicago relocated thousands of impoverished African-Americans from inner-city projects to subsidized housing in middle-class, predominantly white suburbs; researchers found that the adults who participated were more likely to be employed, and their children were more likely to graduate from high school, than their inner-city counterparts. (A more recent experiment, in which the federal government gave vouchers to poor residents in a number of cities, enabling them to move to wealthier neighborhoods, has failed to produce similar gains. Many of the participants chose to live near one another, which researchers think may account for the disappointing results.)

Please note that the apparently successful experiment described occurred in Chicago.  No word on what it cost, nor how it was paid for...  but this is wealth redistribution in action; amazingly, relocating poor people from the inner-city to middle-class suburbs helps them.  One would have to think Obama, who grew up in Chicago politics, is well aware of this experiment.

If you ask me why I'm voting for McCain, I can give you reasons why I'm voting for McCain, but this election is a choice between two people, and I can also tell you why I'm voting against Barack Obama.  He scares me.  And it doesn't have anything to do with race.  It has to do with victimology, and the culture of entitlement, and dangerous concepts like "relative-poverty".  I don't want the government engaged in wealth redistribution.  That would not be change we need, nor change I could believe in...



Saturday,  10/25/08  09:58 PM

A nice quiet Saturday, featuring pumpkin shopping and carving, a little coding, a little riding (Rockstore for the fourth straight day, 1:47:50 today), and [of course] a little blogging.  The World Series was rain-delayed, so I'm watching it now...

Mike MakiThis just sucks: School mourns for teacher killed in accident.  "Westlake High School is mourning the loss of math teacher Michael Maki, who died Wednesday from injuries suffered in a traffic accident two weeks ago.  Maki, 42, of Thousand Oaks, was bicycling to work on Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 10 when a car hit him from behind."  Man, I've ridden that same road a million times.  You wish it would never happen, but it happens far too often; cars are a huge hazard to cyclists.  I try not to think about it, but it is always in the back of my mind...

I still don't get Twitter, but it sure is real; now the U.S. Army warns of Twitter dangers.  "A draft US Army intelligence report has identified the popular micro-blogging service Twitter, Global Positioning System maps and voice-changing software as potential terrorist tools."  Huh.

Eric Raymond has a Android phone, and is trying to get ssh to run so he can change the hostname to "moogly".  So be it.  The fact that the G1 phone runs Linux and is potentially hackable will only appeal to a small group (like Eric!), but it is an influential group.  This same group is not necessarily interested in programming the iPhone, even a jailbroken one.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out...

TP52 world champion Quantum RacingTP52 startCongratulations to Quantum Racing, which won the TP52 world championships.  If you don't know, the TP52 class is the world's most competitive big boat racing, with large fleets of well-heeled competitors, state-of-the-art hull and sail design, and the world's best professional crews.  Amazing to watch, too.  At right we have the start of the first race, and Quantum Racing showing their form to weather.



thank you unknown Hyatt person

Sunday,  10/26/08  11:56 PM

SO I am at a conference, Pathology Visions, sponsored by my company Aperio, at the Grand Hyatt in downtown San Diego, and there was a reception tonight (which was really well attended and really great), and it ended 8:30ish, and afterward "everyone" all went up the Hyatt's bar, on the 40th floor.  It was nice – great views – and it was fun sitting around and talking, but I was getting HUNGRY.  As were others… and so it was, that at 10:30 we attempted to find an open restaurant.  The closest of which was, the Fish Market, at the Embassy Suites approximately across the street from the Hyatt.  Turns out by the time we got there they were only serving their “late” menu.  We all ordered fish tacos.  Which, not to beat around the bush, SUCKED.  Yes I ate them anyway, I was HUNGRY, but still they SUCKED.  So we get back to the hotel at midnightish, and I am regretting the whole thing; yes the company was really fun, but I am still hungry and those fish tacos, well, you know what they did…

So I walk into my room, kind of in a funk – a very nice “VIP” room on the club floor, card key required for the elevator and so on – and I see a beautiful, wonderful, excellent plate of cheese set out, (including Humboldt Blue!) with bread, honey, and dried fruits, together with a nice note welcoming me to the Hyatt.  YAY.  Thank you unknown Hyatt person who did this for me.  Thank you thank you thank you.

So I gratefully sat down and enjoyed the cheese and the bread – they were delicious – wishing I had never ever heard of fish tacos.




Monday,  10/27/08  12:54 PM

Today was a frantic amazing wild breathless productive incredible satisfying awesome day, which ended with a pretty moving emotional experience for me... 

Pathology Visions - keynote by Dirk SoenksenIt was Day One of the Pathology Visions conference in San Diego, which is sponsored by [my company] Aperio, and it went great.  I got up early, worked out (had to get rid of those nasty fish tacos!), barely made it to the keynote speeches, and then was go go go all day; the sessions at Pathology Visions are just 30 minutes, three tracks concurrently, with short breaks and lunches, and so you're constantly moving from one place to another.  And there are a ton of customers and partners here who know me; many people to say "hi" to, and talk to about how things are going, and listen to their ideas...  very cool, but a bit, er, exhausting.  You can read more about the conference on the Daily Scan, my Aperio blog.  (At right is a shot of the keynote speech given by Dirk Soenksen, Aperio's CEO, to a packed room of 300+ people; please click to enlarge...)

Pathology Visions - banquet on the MidwayTonight the conference hosted a big dinner banquet for all attendees on the U.S.S. Midway aircraft carrier, including flight simulators, tours of the ship, and the opportunity to see and climb inside many vintage aircraft arrayed on the flight deck.  It was wonderful.  Of course it was great to see so many friends, customers, and partners in a more casual setting, and interact with them in a more casual way, but it was also amazing and awe-inspiring to be on an aircraft carrier, surrounded by the history, and to think this very ship fought in World War II; all aircraft carriers are special, but the history of the Midway is incredible.

After dinner everyone retired to the hotel bar (!), but I hung back and checked out the flight deck.  It was dark, and I was surrounded by ghosts.  I couldn't help thinking of all the airmen who had flown from that deck, in all kinds of aircraft, in all kinds of weather, in peace and war, many not knowing whether they'd ever return.  And of all the men who had ever flown from such decks.  And of one man in particular who flew from such decks, my father, who was a navigator in the Dutch Navy during World War II.  He was shot down early in the war, survived, and then spent four years in a Japanese prison camp, and survived.  So I knew this about him, but he never really talked about it.  I don't think I ever related to what that must have been like as well as I did tonight.  My father has been dead for over twenty years, but suddenly I felt very close to him.  It was spooky, and ... nice.

U.S.S. Midway - flight deck
U.S.S. Midway flight deck, main catapult, viewed from the bow (click to enlarge)

The U.S.S. Midway was named after the Battle of Midway, the most important of the Pacific part of World War II, in which a U.S. fleet defeated a Japanese fleet at Midway Atoll, which lies (as you might expect) halfway between Asia and North America.  Midway is a great name, and a great concept, full of ambivalence and implied meaning.  Almost anything can be halfway between two other things.  Tonight, for me, being in this weird place where I felt so close to my Dad, it had a special meaning.  As I walked the deck with my ghosts, thinking about my Dad, I felt that my life is "midway".  I'm about to turn fifty, so I'm roughly halfway through my life, but also I feel like I'm halfway between being a kid and being an adult, halfway between being young and being old.  Somewhere on the way toward figuring it all out.  Midway :)




Wednesday,  10/29/08  11:32 PM

I've been attending Aperio's Pathology Visions conference since Sunday, and just got home.  Whew.

I now have 134 unread emails in my inbox, and 1773 unread items in my RSS reader.  Not to mention pages and pages of notes scribbled during the conference, as well as minutes from several meetings which I hosted.  All of which have to be read, collated, filtered, and processed.  I know, I know; cue the violins.  (You can read more about my experiences at the conference here, and here, and here.  Not to mention reading about my Midway experience, which has stayed with me...)

So now what?  Well, I have to slog my way through those emails, and skim those unread items.  Are they all interesting?  No.  Is it my job to filter them for you?  Yes.  Stay tuned :)



Wednesday,  10/29/08  11:51 PM

Okay, here we go, the Ole filter makes a pass (on 2,259 items)...  hang in there...

Phillies win World SeriesCongratulations to the Phillies for winning the World Series.  Bogusly, I was not able to watch any of the games over the weekend or this week, and [of course] was not able to stay away from the scores, so now, although I have them all Tivoed, my interest in watching has diminished.  Yeah, I understand it was "good baseball", but the attraction of watching two teams in which I have only an invented rooting interest play games for which I already know the result is not compelling.  Anyway it was good baseball, between two fun teams who hadn't been in the World Series for a while (Phillies) or ever (Rays), and that was cool...  Now it is time to focus my attention on college football for a while :)

Monarch caterpillarPanda's Thumb has a series of beautiful pictures of unusual species; here we have the Danaus plexippus aka Monarch caterpillar...  excellent!

Rob Harris sarcastically observes Blu-Ray is dead, heckuva job, Sony...  "Blu-ray is in a death spiral. 12 months from now Blu-ray will be a videophile niche, not a mass market product.  With only a 4% share of US movie disc sales and HD download capability arriving, the Blu-ray disc Association (BDA) is still smoking dope.  Even $150 Blu-ray players won’t save it.  16 months ago I called the HD war for Blu-ray. My bad. Who dreamed they could both lose?"  Well I did, for one thing, as did many others; you could see online video was going to kill any hard media standard from a mile away.

Netflix on TivoSpeaking of online video (we were); Netflix movies can now be viewed online on a Tivo!  Wow, how cool is that?  (Stay tuned and I'll tell you :)  This means I will have two different ways of watching movies in my family room, my AppleTV (which we love), and my Tivo (which we love already, and which we will love even more once it has streaming / downloadable movies).  Oh, and HD streaming is on the way, too...

Google Earth - the MatterhornTechCrunch reports Google Earth comes to the iPhone, and it's awesome.  "The Google Earth geographical software has been altered to make maximum use of the iPhone’s screen and functionality. You’re able to tilt the device to adjust your view when browsing mountainous terrain, use the ‘My Location’ feature to jump right to where you are in the blink of an eye, and use Google’s local search engine to look for information on cities, places and businesses."  How very cool...  and this is an application, unlike many others, for which a real keyboard is not required.

MercurySome space porn: Wired has Mercury as you've never seen it before.  Amazing, stunning, beautiful; what can I say?

Google adopts, forks OpenID.  I guess the adopt part is good, the fork part, not so good.  Whether OpenID will ever mean anything is beyond me to say...  it is certainly irritating to have separate userid/password relationships with a million different sites, and Google might be central enough and trusted enough to administer a common access database, but making it happen will be tough...

Last week Microsoft hosted their Professional Developer's Conference, the first since 2003 (when Vista was coming out), and among other things announced Windows Azure.  This is a version of Windows which runs "in the cloud", intended for developers who want to create applications based on Windows but delivered online.  In concept this is pretty cool, I guess you have a dig deeper (and I will) to see whether it is anything more than just a hosted version of Vista Server.

Robert Cringely sings the Azure Blues...  "... all Windows Azure looks like to me is Microsoft's effort to sell web services or maybe cut the sticker shock for smaller businesses adopting SQL Server.  But more properly, it likely means Microsoft's acceptance that computing clients may eventually be free or nearly so.  In short, Windows Azure is an insurance policy against the possible Vista-like failure of Windows 7."  Huh.

The early reports on Windows 7 are positive, however; as you know, I totally agree with this: "It needs to create a lightweight, fast, undemanding OS which will shed all of Vista’s fat, and for the first time in history really be twice as fast as the last OS."

RagtimeAs Scot Tempesta points out, there is simply not a cooler boat on the planet than Ragtime.  Still made of wood, still beautiful, and still fast...

Ericsson 4 breaks the day recordNot however as fast as Ericsson 4, who have broken the "most miles in a day" record while competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, logging over 600 miles in 24 hours.  That is unbelievable, you need heavy weather to go that fast, and then you have to survive!

Ars Technica: LinkedIn's new application platform makes your resume social.  So be it.  Unsurprisingly I've noticed an uptick in the number of LinkedIn requests I get; seems everyone wants to get "linked in" in case they are laid off and need their network.  I've been on LinkedIn since time zero but have never used it for anything; perhaps this is the time to start exploring its value.  Do you use it?

USB [port] wineFinally, here we have USB [port] wine.  I am not making this up...








Firefox realtime address-bar search

Thursday,  10/30/08  09:18 AM

Remember when Firefox 3 first came out, and one of the cool new features was realtime in-address-bar search?

You don't?  Well in case you're still an IE user, or just haven't noticed, when you type something into the Firefox location bar, it searches for previously entered addresses to prompt you in case one of them matches what you want now, and in so doing is searches the page titles as well as the page addresses.

So I have to say, I didn't like it at first; it seemed annoying, because I couldn't predict what it was going to do.  But now after several months of using it I love it.  It has become the fastest way for me to get to something, even when I know exactly where it is and could find it with a few clicks.  For example, Aperio's slide gallery, which just requires that I type  That is not much typing, but now I just type "ga" and poof, the Aperio slide gallery is at the top of the search list.  Wonderful.

Other examples of tools I like which have realtime search: iTunes, and X1.  The X1 example is particularly pertinent; I love the way I can search email and files on my disk with just a few keystrokes, and poof! realtime search results.  If you are still using Outlook's search for email or Windows Explorer's search for files, you will love this...

This is a great example of a small UI tweak which makes a big difference to users.  We've tried to do the same sort of thing in Aperio's Spectrum digital pathology information system, which is web-based.  We use JavaScript on the client-side to interpret input as the user is typing it, and do database lookups with AJAX to try to match what they've typed.  So if they want "breast cancer", by the time they've typed "br" the search result is right there, ready to be selected.



Thursday,  10/30/08  05:30 PM

I'm kind of sort of back to normal after spending the first half of the week in downtown San Diego at the Pathology Visions conference.  Caught up on email, caught up on RSS feeds, but still not caught up on processing all my conference notes, unfortunately.  That's a todo for tomorrow...

My afternoon was taken out by applying for a Visa so I can visit Brazil!  Yep, in a week I'm spending a week in Brazil, traveling with our distributor and South American channel manager, visiting customers and prospects in Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro.  I've never even been South of the Equator, and from all reports Brazil is amazing, so I can't wait...  I must admit to some trepidation, too; this will not be like visiting Western Europe.  The process of getting a business Visa for Brazil is somewhat involved; you have to promise you're not going to work there and demonstrate financial support from your company.  I'm told Brazil doesn't really care but has designed their process to mirror what the U.S. requires of Brazilians who are visiting.  Ha.  Of course the symmetry is not complete, because there are far more Brazilians who would like to come to the U.S. and work than vice versa, but still, I can understand.  So be it.

I have to start with something pretty momentous; today is my wife Shirley's 50th birthday!  Wow, I am married to a 50-year-old woman.  (I'm turning 50 myself in another month; she's older, but not by much :)  It just doesn't feel right, we can't be that old...  feels like we're, I don't know, 30 something, or something.  I remember feeling the same way when we turned 40.  Anyway we have a nice dinner planned in a few minutes with our kids, should be nice.

BTW, my Midway experience is still with me, and oddly, carrying me through the emotion of turning fifty pretty well...

P.S. No, Shirley doesn't care who knows she's fifty.  When you look as great as she does, you don't have to care.

This is important work: new research shows attractive fathers do not pass on their looks to sons, but do so to their daughters.  So I have four great looking girls, I guess they get their looks from me?  :)  More seriously, if you want good looking kids, you have to marry a good looking wife.  No research study is necessary for that conclusion...

I have to crank out one of my famous* "Ole Votes" blog posts, where I tell you how I voted, and in so doing tell you how to vote :)  Stay tuned.  Of course I'm voting for McCain, but that doesn't matter; I live in California and this is a blue state, as was decided months and years ago.  The electoral college system is bogus but we have it so it is what it is.  There are however a lot of interesting ballot propositions which are closer to home where my vote will matter.  Like Prop 8, the "anti-gay marriage initiative", on which I will definitely vote NO.

*famous = joke, although it is surprising how many people read (and linked) my last one...

We're getting down to it, the last few days in the election.  Gallup has Obama at +2, and Rasmussen at +3, for whatever that's worth (not much!).  I see that McCain has labeled Obama "the redistributor".  That is a good angle (among many others, this issue is a show-stopper for me), but I fear instead of absorbing the message undecided voters will reject it as yet another attack.

Did you know Obama is the world's choice for President?  The Economist, now solidly in the tank, helpfully points this out.  Believe it or not, this matters; my Mom, who has been a U.S. citizen for thirty years, votes primarily based on how she thinks the U.S. President will be perceived by Europeans.  She hates Bush for this very reason, and it guides her vote for Obama.

You know how I always say, "you can find anything on the Internet?"  Well here we have the Eichhorn Nut House, a blog written by Christina Eichhorn from [best I can tell] somewhere in Cleveland, Ohio.  I love it.




Friday,  10/31/08  09:17 AM

BOO!Wow, here we are, Halloween and the last day of October.  BOO!

October began for me with the observation that you can't script October, made as I was recovering from being really sick.  I couldn't ride the Furnace Creek 508 as I'd planned, and pretty much everything else was unscriptable from that point, too; the financial markets melted down suddenly, dragging the U.S. into a recession, and, well:

And last but not least:

Just another month...  ho hum :)

BTW one of the cool things about my archive, which I still think is really cool, is that I can view all the posts I've made in October, all at once, and in forward chronological order.  Pretty useful when you want to write about, um, what happened in October :)

I wonder what November will bring?  In the world, the election, of course, and the post election reaction and analysis.  Closer to home, I've planned a business trip to Brazil and another to Chicago, Aperio is shipping a release, and there is 2009 budgeting to do, I will be back on my bike as much as possible, and of course we have Thanksgiving, college football, and the start of the Christmas season which given the economy will be pretty weird this year.  I'm guessing you can't script November, either...



Ole votes

Friday,  10/31/08  12:31 PM

Want to know how I voted?  Okay, here you go...

Federal Positions

  • President / Vice-President: John McCain / Sarah Palin.  I like John McCain but voted this way primarily because I cannot support Obama, due to his liberal views.  I must report that as I cast this vote I couldn't help thinking "cool, I just voted for a woman for Vice President".
  • U.S. Representative, 24th district: Elton Gallegly.  A good incumbent, and [as I always say], a red guy in a blue state.

California State Positions

  • California State Senator, 19th district: Tony Strickland.   Moving from the State Assembly where he was my representative for six years (then he hit the term limit, and his wife Audra took over, see next bullet).  Good guy, I like him.  We hear from him a lot about what he likes and doesn't like, and why; I may not agree with all of it, but I like the transparency.
  • California State Assembly, 37th district: Audra Strickland.  She succeeded her husband Tony (see above) when he was term-limited, has similar views and has done a similar good job (with similar good communication).  Having her and her husband in the Assembly and Senate, respectively, working together (presumably!) will help.

Local Positions

  • Conejo Valley Unified School District: Scott Lamp + John Andersen.  None of my kids attend Conejo Valley schools anymore (they attend Oaks Christian, a private High / Middle School), but of course this still matters a lot.  Scott is running on getting rid of the weird math program they've been experimenting with and going back to the state curriculum; that's good enough for me.  And I like the way John laid out his views in the sample ballot (not to mention, I agreed with them :).
  • Thousand Oaks City Council: Tom Glancy + Jacqui Irwin.  Both incumbent members of the City Council.  Thousand Oaks is really well run, the City Council is doing a great job, and all the current members deserve re-election.
  • Calleguas Water District: Scott Quady.  As an environmental scientist, he should be in a good position to bring some science to the art of supplying our area with water...

California State Ballot Measures

  • 1A - No.  This is a bond act for new passenger trains.  I would love to have better trains in California, but we can't afford it.  This kind of thing is going to have to be privately financed.
  • 2 - No.  Standard for confining farm animals.  I love animals but this is not the sort of thing for which we need laws.  We have too many restrictions as it is.  (I can't help it; every time I say "I love animals" I think "especially medium rare, with a wine reduction sauce".  Sorry.)
  • 3 - No.  Children's hospital bond act.  Uh, this is tough, I am really all for having more and better health care, but I really don't think public money is the way to go.  And, we can't afford it.  Sorry.
  • 4 - No.  Prohibits abortion for minors until 48 hours after notification of parent.  Absolutely no.  If a teen doesn't want her baby, she should not have it, period.
  • 5 - No.  Increase spending on rehabilitation of non-violent drug offenders.  I'd rather spend the money on children's hospitals, but I already said no to that, so this has to be no.
  • 6 - No.  Increase in funding for police and law enforcement.  I'm sure this would be useful, but I can't believe it is essential, and we're poor people in California these days.
  • 7 - No.  Renewable energy generation.  Requires government-owned facilities to generate 20% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010.  Setting aside the issue of whether this is even possible, it doesn't seem like a good idea to make energy more expensive right now.  This is a classic example of overreaching with government legislation.
  • 8 - No.  Eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry.  Setting aside whether you support gay marriage rights (I do, BTW, really, who cares if gay people want to marry?) this is not an issue for state law.  We have too many laws telling us what we can and can't do already.  The education provisions of this are onerous too; it tells schools what they can and can't teach.
  • 9 - Yes.  Victim's rights, parole changes (aka "Marsy's Law").  This seems like a set of good changes; I can't quite parse all the impact, but as I read about who is in favor and who is opposed, I mostly agree with those in favor on other issues also.
  • 10 - No.  Government support for alternative fuel vehicles.  I am 100% in favor of alternative fuel vehicles, and 100% opposed to using government money to subsidize their adoption.  Let the markets decide.
  • 11 - Yes.  Redistricting initiative.  Changes authority for establishing state office boundaries from elected officials to a commission.  Absolutely.  We need to take control over districting from the people who represent those districts.  Right now the gerrymandering is way out of hand.
  • 12 - No.  Veterans bond act.  I am a big supporter of veterans and respect them and thank them for everything they've done for all of us, but this is not a good use of state funds at a time when those funds are under severe pressure.

Local Measures

  • T - No.  Term limits for Ventura County Supervisors.  I'm not a big fan of term limits.  If an individual performs in their position and gets reelected by their constituents, good for them.

Don't you just love absentee ballots?  So much easier to do this ahead of time in the comfort of your office, with Google to hand, than to do it in the rush of election day in some little polling booth.

Oh, and I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if you don't feel like voting and/or don't know who or what you're voting for, DON'T VOTE.  You'll only dilute mine :)



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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
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
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?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained