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the morning after

Saturday,  11/01/08  08:46 AM

The morning after...  Halloween, Shirley's birthday, Pathology Visions, October.  Feels like a lot has happened which is now done happening...  and it is cold, and windy, a light rain is falling outside, and in my head, too.  One of those end-of-year days...

Economist cover - 11/1/08Here's what "the tank" looks like; this is the cover of the latest issue of the Economist.  Previous to this election I always felt them to be rather neutral, in favor of open markets and pretty libertarian.  But there's a new regime there, and they clearly feel like weighing in on the U.S. election, despite being London-based.  They have an influential readership, and while their endorsement may not sway too many undecided U.S. voters, it will certainly have an impact on the perception of the results of the election, whichever way it goes.

Speaking of the way it goes, Zogby has McCain ahead!  WHAT!  And Fox says Obama's lead narrows...

Meanwhile, McCain is campaigning with our governator in Ohio.  He'll be back :)

Mark Steyn sums it up: "This is an amazing race. The incumbent president has approval ratings somewhere between Robert Mugabe and the ebola virus. The economy is supposedly on the brink of global Armageddon. McCain has only $80 million to spend, while Obama's burning through $600 mil as fast as he can, and he doesn't really need to spend a dime given the wall-to-wall media adoration... And yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange."  Not that strange.  There are still thinking people out there who vote with their heads, not their hearts.  [ via Instapundit ]

redistribution and the constitutionGerard Vanderleun posted the great cartoon at right.  Sums up how I feel exactly.  That is the point.

In other rather interesting news, Drudge tops NYTimes in web traffic.  You could see that coming from a long way off...  but now it has happened; a "blog" has more traffic than the leading U.S. newspaper.  May you live in interesting times, indeed!

Related, LATimes lays off 75 staffers.  I bet Drudge doesn't even have 75 staffers.  This is one of the reasons we read so much gloom and doom in the newspapers; the papers themselves are suffering badly.  If you work in that environment, you can't help but be affected, and your stories will reflect that.

Scott Pederson emailed to suggest this decade be named the "naughty aughties", because of the extreme negativity on display during the 2008 election.  I can't figure out if the negativity is coming from the campaigns themselves, the press, or the electorate.  I almost think people get the campaigns they deserve, because of how they respond.  Sadly, our reality show society probably responds better to superficial negativity than the details of a serious health care reform proposal...

Victor David Hanson: The End of Journalism.  "The media has succeeded in shielding Barack Obama from journalistic scrutiny.  It thereby irrevocably destroyed its own reputation and forfeited the trust that generations of others had so carefully acquired.  And it will never again be trusted to offer candid and nonpartisan coverage of presidential candidates."  Dead on.

Lemons: Another week, another 18,885 layoffs.  This totally sucks.  That is 18,885 people whose lives have been changed, who will struggle to make their house payment, who will not be taking a vacation or buying nice presents this Christmas.  The ripple effect of all these layoffs is the biggest baddest thing about the financial meltdown.

File as Making Lemonade, from NBS Financial (my PFA):

The month of October was the worst for the stock market since October 1987.  The dichotomy of this is that this week was the best for the stock market for 26 years.  As one of the few financial advisors who was in this business in 1987, I can attest from personal experience that those that sold after "Black Monday" of 1987 faired much worse than those who did not sell. 
If we look back at the last three bear markets:
 
Ending February 2003             -49.1%
           December 1987           -33.5%
           October 1974              -48.5%
 
The average gain over the 24 months following each of these three declines was 47.7%.  We all wish the market hadn't declined over the last year, but we are were we are and now is the time to focus were we are going and not were we have been.  Based upon both historical precedent and the visible dynamics at work, I would suggest that the next 45% move in the markets will be up not down. 

More Lemonade: AlwaysOn wonders Coming Soon: High-Value IPOs?  I sure hope so...  There were only six IPOs in 2008, only six.  Still I can remember when PayPal went public in early 2002, the first after 9/11.  And it popped.

 

 

Saturday,  11/01/08  10:30 PM

Sometimes you have a day where the day itself matches the way you feel, and so it was today for me.  It was quiet and rainy, and I felt quiet and rainy.  It was a day for work, and reflection, and my friend Peter called at just the right moment to invite me for a cappuccino, which led to a nice two-hour conversation about the state of the world and ourselves.  I did work in a ride up Rockstore in the pouring rain; of course Murphy choose just that moment to dump, but it was great.

From the "but who's counting" department; I have now made over 400 posts this year.  Wow.  That is the most since 2003, my first year of blogging, and assuming I don't suddenly stop - admittedly not an entirely valid assumption, given history - I will exceed my total for that year, possibly even exceeding 500.  Cool.  So why do I do it?  Because of you, of course!  Thank you for reading...

In other naval-gazing news, I fixed the "Welcome back!  Posts since your last visit on __/__/__ are shaded..." logic on my home page, which I had broken on 10/18/08.  You're welcome :)

Red Nugent live - Sweden RocksThe other day in my BOO! post I reviewed October, including my discovery of Lala, which prompted me to start using it again, which is why I found myself listening to Ted Nugent at 11:00 on a Saturday morning.  How excellent was he?  The sheer energy and enthusiasm of his live stuff was incredible.  I can't think of another musician who transmitted so much vitality, perhaps putting David Lee Roth in second place.  Well okay Bono is in there, too.  I'll stop now :)

Hubble wide field picture!The Hubble Space Telescope is working again.  Whew.  I know you were worried about that, so now we can both relax.  Beautiful picture it took, too...

On the Next Big Future: Brian Wang reviews the Singularity Summit.  I wish I'd been there, but as I noted before, I will probably be able to go back someday and attend :)

Floyd Landis is back!  Yep, he's joined what's left of the old Healthnet team, now sponsored by OUCH medical center.  I had forgotten about his hip - not only has he not ridden professionally for over two years (since winning the 2006 Tour, then being disqualified for doping), but he has an artificial hip now.  Still, it will be great to see him back in action...

l'Hydroptere setting the sailing speed recordl'Hydroptere sets the sailing speed record!l'Hydroptère sets a new sailing speed record!  50 knots over open water...  amazing.  Check out this video, you will not believe it!  (Good sound track, too :)  This is a trimaran with hydrofoils under the outriggers...

Robert Scoble makes a great point: Never underestimate Microsoft's ability to turn a corner.  Their announcements of Azure, Windows 7, and Web Office at the recent PDC were certainly their most sensible and interesting in years.  Someone (Ray Ozzie?) must have figured it out.

FirefoxGoogle ChromeSo I find myself using Chrome more and more often, for more and more stuff, even while Firefox remains my default browser.  The tradeoff: Chrome is faster, while Firefox offers Adblock.  That's it.

 

the big Five-O

Sunday,  11/02/08  10:07 PM

Five-OIf you're a regular reader you know I'm about to turn fifty.  I've been thinking about it a lot, and I figured I'd maybe do a few posts on the subject.  So this might be Five-O #1 of several.

My wife Shirley turned fifty a few days ago, and I'm turning fifty in early December, so we're having a "Golden Celebration" with 50 of our friends on November 15, midway between.  That should be fun, and hopefully free of all the "old" jokes everyone thinks are so funny (yeah riight).

The big deal with turning 50 isn't physical age, it's how you feel about yourself.  I'm worried that I'm going to start thinking of myself as old, and that will trigger mental rot, and pretty soon I'll really be old.  I think this is why men react as they do in a "midlife crisis"; they date young women and dress young and act young, all in an effort to convince themselves they really are still young.  Does it work?  I have no idea...  perhaps I should try dating young women as an experiment :)  Most likely in the effort to pretend you're young, you emphasize all the ways in which you're not young, and the whole effort backfires.  I must tell you I don't feel old, in fact, I'm sort of amazed to find myself turning fifty, because I think of myself as thirty something, or something.  I went through the same thing when I turned forty, I didn't feel that old then, either.  Hopefully I'll still feel the same way at sixty!

There is one undeniable aspect of turning fifty, you have to think of it as a halfway point; not many people live to a hundred.  I've had a pretty good life, a full life, and I guess if the second half is as good and full as the first, I'll be pleased, but still, there will not be a third half, this is it.  You start thinking that each day is pretty valuable, because there are less and less of them left. 

Well so be it, thinking about it won't change it.  Even blogging about it won't change it.  Or will it?


(By the way, to make the picture above I started with
the Hawaii Five-O opening, how great was that?  Hadn't seen it for years, and loved it all over again.  The bouncing zoom into the balcony just as Jack Lord turns around is a classic.  And of course the theme song rocks :)

 

 

Sunday,  11/02/08  10:38 PM

Sunday, Sunday, a nice quiet Sunday...  puttering around the house, working a little (finally compiled all my notes from the conference last week, whew), watching football (thank you Tivo + Slingbox, I can do it while working :), getting rid of the pumpkin lanterns (boo...), and [for the first time since being sick] doing my hardest local ride which I call Malibu CC, a 30 miler featuring two long climbs and two short ones (1:56:15).  And of course, blogging!

Torremoron Ribera del DueroMy biggest problem just now is figuring out what wine to buy for our big Five-O celebration.  I'm leaning toward Torremoron Ribera del Duero, but I can't decide.

Art Marks thinks we should fire Congress.  "My solution to fixing the financial crisis is to start by firing Congress. All of them. They have failed to lead when it is necessary. They have failed to lead in the financial crisis. They have failed to lead to a solution in the energy crisis, they have failed to come up with an effective immigration policy. They have failed to address the long term entitlement bankruptcy facing the country."  Not a bad idea.  Especially the part where we elect people like us to replace them :)  [ via Brad Feld ]

The NYTimes notes to survive, net start-ups slow their metabolism.  "Silicon Valley has always been a land of big, bold dreams.  In the first Internet boom its start-ups either grew fast or died trying, sometimes spectacularly.  In this downturn, say investors and entrepreneurs, start-ups are adopting a strategy that they hope will let them hang on instead of flame out.  To preserve cash, many tech start-ups are rushing to lay off employees and cut expenses.  They are shelving their dreams of Google-size riches and getting small, humble and thrifty, all with the more modest goal of surviving the coming economic winter."  That seems like an apt analogy.  It definitely feels like everyone gets it, and is doing what they can to stay alive until the conditions change.

HD TV in 3D! With no glasses!This is cool: HD TV in 3D!  And no glasses.  "A sheet of tiny lenticules is fixed onto a high-resolution LCD display in such a way that each eye sees a slightly different view of each image pixel. The effect is akin to those 3-D plastic postcards that look a bit like a hologram if you view them at the correct angle. The underlying design for this was first conjured up by Sir Charles Wheatstone, a Victorian inventor, way back in 1840."  One thing the article correctly notes is that as 3D technology becomes broadly available, content creators are going to have to learn how to use it.  Right now they go crazy showing off their ability to use 3D, and it interferes with the telling of the story instead of enhancing it.

Slashsdot reports Windows 7 to be 256-core aware.  Cool!  The more cores the better.  And y'all better start brushing up on your Erlang :)

 

 

the world's dumbest installer

Monday,  11/03/08  07:21 PM

You may not be aware, but there is intense competition between companies to create the world’s dumbest installer.  I always thought Fog Creek deserved honorable mention for writing their own installer from scratch, but I have to admit it isn’t a bad installer, that was just a waste of their time.  Sun’s Java upgrader is definitely in the running, for elevating what should be a silent little background thing into the foreground like some kind of major application that users care about.  Real’s installer is a nightmare, with 400 options in seriously deeply nested menus, most of which have the wrong default settings (“Do you want to use Real for all C++ compiles? – default Yes”).

But I have to give the award to Microsoft for their IE update to v7; in this, as in so many other things, I subtract all benefit of a doubt since they are so big and mighty and ought to know better.

I am just now applying “essential” updates to a server, and the IE update to v7 is among them.  Against my better judgment, I left the box checked, and so I am now in the throes of a horrible installer experience.  Let me count the ways this installer sucks:

  • First, it is so intrusive.  If you think upgrading my browser is “essential”, so be it, but can you at least do it silently?  Do you have to make me answer a bunch of questions and watch a bunch of crap?  Who cares?  (I use Firefox anyway!)
  • I cannot figure out why an installer must be a wizard.  You get a dialog box which has multiple panes, but it consists of Start, Do It, and Finish.  Why not just Do It?
  • The installer has gratuitous animation.  Why?  Yes it may be pretty but try running this remotely over RDP sometime, as I am, and all that animation looks like crap.  Someone clearly had too much time on their hands.
  • There is this whole Windows Genuine Advantage thing wrapped in the middle of the install.  Look, if you want to verify I have a licensed copy of Windows, great, go ahead and verify it.  And if I’m not properly licensed, say so – and then you can do whatever you want.  But don’t make me an integral part of the process of checking.  It should be silent if I’m properly licensed.
  • There is even a link that says “click here to learn more about WGA notification”.  C’mon.  Who the heck wants to learn more, I want the whole thing to go away.  (Just imagine what someone like your Mom would think about this :)
  • After all this, you have to agree to a user agreement for the Windows Genuine Advantage check.  A license agreement for a tool which checks to see if you have a valid license!  Look, I’ve already got Windows and IE installed, so I’ve already agreed to your EULA, now can you just please do the upgrade?
  • At the end of the validation process, which is itself a meaningless wizard with Start, Do It, and Finish, when you get to the Finish there is a checkbox which says “show me some of the many benefits of using genuine software”.  This checkbox is checked by default!  If I leave it checked, it is going to launch a web browser with a bunch of propaganda.  Keep in mind, I am in the middle of upgrading my web browser.  Well actually I am in the middle of applying “essential” updates.  We’ve kind of lost the thread here, eh?
  • Whew, finished with the Windows Genuine Advantage stuff, and I’m back to the browser upgrade.  Now I have to agree to another EULA for the browser.  C’mon, I’ve already got Windows and IE installed, I’ve already agreed to a EULA, do I really have to do it again?  Yes, apparently.
  • Whew, got IE installed.  Naturally I have to reboot.  So be it.  (When I upgrade Firefox it happens immediately and silently and of course I don’t have to reboot.)  Silly Microsoft people.
  • And as a final crescendo, once you have IE updated it doesn’t work.  No, really, on a server everything IE does is installed disabled.  There is this thing called Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration which is enabled by default, and which is a euphemism for “don’t allow anything to happen”.  If you figure out how to disable this, you get a warning every time you launch IE, “Caution: Internet Explorer Enhanced Security Configuration is disabled”.  So you have to disable the warning that the warnings are disabled.  Got that?  I am not making this up.
  • Oh, and as a final final crescendo, after all this you end up with something called the Language Bar enabled on your Windows taskbar.  Perhaps the Language Bar is useful, I don’t know, but I do know two things: 1) I’ve never used the Language Bar for anything, and 2) it is really hard to disable.  Seriously you have to go in like five levels deep of some Control Panel to turn it off, and then reboot to get rid of it.  I can just imagine the Product Manager for this little feature lobbying hard to have the IE upgrade turn it on by default.  Sigh.

Not only does the installer process itself take forever, but you end up so upset that you write a whiney blog post about it, wasting more of your time :)

 

 

Monday,  11/03/08  11:11 PM

Well this is it, huh?  After all that time and money, tomorrow we pick a new President.  All the indications are that it will be Barack Obama, not my choice, but so be it.  (On the other hand, could Mac be back?)  No matter who wins, he'll definitely be walking into a buzz saw, the new President is going to have plenty of challenges.  Good luck to him!  And no, I don't think we're going to be up all night waiting on the results...  If all works according to plan I will be blogging the Big Day tomorrow, as I did four years ago...

I had a busy day today, still collating feedback and making / modifying plans after our Pathology Visions conference last week.  I did this while setting up a new VM for testing, and can I just say one more time Windows paging sucks.  My computer was dog slow all day because it was paging, and no, the working set was not that big.  Crud.

In other news, I rode Malibu CC again today, set my best time ever, 1:55:05.  At this point I can say I have fully recovered from my lung infection, whew.  And I managed to time things perfectly; I was just cresting Mulholland when the sun set, giving me a beautiful "Solitude" shot (at right, please click to enlarge).

Arthur Laffer in the WSJ: The Age of Prosperity Is Over.  "Twenty-five years down the line, what this administration and Congress have done will be viewed in much the same light as what Herbert Hoover did in the years 1929 through 1932. Whenever people make decisions when they are panicked, the consequences are rarely pretty. We are now witnessing the end of prosperity."  Ah man, can't we be a little optimistic?  No?  So many observers see these huge systemic problems that will take years to fix.  Where were they four months ago?

Dash Express GPSSo you know how I like my little Dash Express, right?  Well, the product is great, but the company, not so great.  Ars Technica reports Dash Express woes highlight Silicon Valley challenges.  "Automotive GPS startup Dash Express announced today that it's getting out of the hardware business, cutting its workforce, and repositioning itself as a software-only company."  Not clear what the implication is for me and my little Dash...

Amazon announces frustration-free packaging.  Yay!  What a great idea...

Everything you knew about warming up is wrong: Stretching the Truth.  "Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds - known as static stretching - primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them."  Huh.  Who knew?

John Gruber considers iPhone-likeness.  "I’ll put forth one central, overriding guideline for iPhone UI design:  Figure out the absolute least you need to do to implement the idea, do just that, and then polish the hell out of the experience."  Not a bad guideline for designing anything, if you think about it...

Maybe this is why people think Steve Jobs is just being awkward?  (Do you really need copy-and-paste?)

Here's a pet peeve: I hate it when people misuse the word "blog".  A blog is a website, not a particular page, and not an individual post.  Get the jargon right or don't use it.

23 and Me - personal genetic testing23andMe is Time's "invention of the year".  So be it.  I have not had my genes tested yet, have you?  Somehow maybe I don't want to know...

Have you noticed that Google's spell check is way better than Word's?  Many times while composing an email, I mistype a word, right click on the red squiggly line, and Word uselessly suggests a bunch of words which are not the word I want.  Meanwhile if I do a Google search, poof! it comes right back with Did You Mean: and it is always right!

Here we have the GenderAnalyzer - give it a website, and it tells you the likely gender of the author.  Cool, it got me right :)

 

 

the big day

Tuesday,  11/04/08  07:40 AM

Well, here we go, the big day (dum dum dum). 

{This post will be updated throughout the day.  Thanks for visiting :}

[07:40] Checking the Electoral Vote Tracker, they have it 353-117.  Everyone agrees Obama is going to win, and the debate seems to be whether it will be a squeaker or a landslide.  353-117 would be [ouch!] a landslide of epic proportions.  We'll see.

[08:40] Everywhere you turn, everyone says Vote!  I say, Don't Vote!  If you don't know who you're voting for, or why you're voting, then we don't need your vote; please don't dilute the votes of informed voters.  Heretical, I know.  Then again, I am in favor of multiple voting, too, so I'm hopelessly on the fringe :)

The Obamas vote[09:55] The Obamas vote.  I wonder who they voted for?  Here's a poll wrap from RealClearPolitics.  The result is real clear; every poll has Obama winning, looks like the average is around +8.  So be it.  A record number of voters are expected, which could slow tallying of results, which could delay announcement of the winner.  Yuk.

[10:01] Oh by the way, 11 states are electing governors, and there are big races in the Senate and also in the House.  The big question seems to be whether the Democrats will muster a "filibuster proof" majority.

{Crap, work is interferring with blogging :}

[11:55] Halley Suitt makes an interesting point: "As a woman, the prospect of voting for the first female president this year was very exciting.  I'm sorry that is not a choice I have this election, but I love Obama and I'm thrilled to vote for him.  Still, as I watch record numbers of African-Americans and other people of color vote for Obama, I realize as a white person, I can never know how important this is for them, what it will feel like, what emotions it will give rise to."  All of us either voted for a woman VP or a [half-] black President.  That's pretty cool.

[11:57] Glenn Reynolds: Whoever wins, chill a bit.  Oh-kay.  He also reminds us "Basically, nothing the TV talking-heads say before the polls close means anything. Remember the bogus Kerry-victory exit poll reports from 2004?"  Indeed.

vote for the environment![11:58] Inhabitat wants you to vote for the environment!  Sure, but I didn't see it on the ballot.

[11:59] Pajamas Media has an ongoing roundup...  check it out.

[12:00] The McCain campaign thinks it will be a long night, followed by a McCain win.  We'll see.  Most pundits think it will be a short night, followed by an Obama win.  But they've been wrong before :)

{Work interferes again}

[1:15] I must tell you, I'm getting comfortable with the idea of an Obama win.  I don't agree with his ideas - at all - but perhaps if everyone thinks he's great, he really will be great.  Presidents set the tone and spirit much more than make policy.  We need positivism right now!

[1:17] The world hopes for a less arrogant America.  Good luck with that :)  [ via LGF ]

[1:19] Win or lose, a historic day for us all.  Boy, ain't that the truth.  A lot of my colleagues are wearing "I voted" stickers (I'm in my office in Vista today).  My sense is that we all feel we are part of something historic.  Change.

[1:20] Tim Bray, a Canadian, offers his thanks: "I must open with heartfelt thanks to all of you for the passion and drama and rhetoric and personality you’ve offered each other and the world, in the political-theatre context, for the last couple of years."  So be it.  I hope Tim is wrong about Obama winning - as he says, "he swings left", and I do not - but the thanks is appreciated.

[1:24] Might be a bit late, but Popular Science has the sci-tech guide to the election.  Voting machines, R&D, Power, weird photoshopping, the space race, and a science debate, it's all here...

[1:25] Roger Kimball wonders What Happens Next?  I guess we're all wondering that...  the impact of the election on the national mood, the economy, and the global credit crisis will be interesting.  Stay tuned :)

[1:26] This would be too bad; Jim Lindgren thinks: "What we are unlikely to see over the next four years is progress on serious defects in the press and the electoral process that this election revealed. It is ironic that in 2008 we probably have two of the most honest and decent men running for president that we have had in a long time, and yet this has easily been the most corrupt election in my lifetime."  The behavior of the press in particular has been horrible.

McCains vote[1:35] TheMcCains vote.  What must they be thinking, eh?  Are they optimistic, pessimistic, fatalistic?  Probably just really glad it's over!

{Another work-related gap - wow, is it over yet?  No.}

[5:11]CNN projects Obama wins New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut; McCain takes South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee.  [ via alert ]

[5:30] Glenn Reynolds with some early speculation / exit poll results.  Nothing concrete as yet...

[5:31] Megan McCardle: "Whether or not you are for Obama, the candidate, I think you have to admit that there is one pretty exciting thing happening today: we will never again live in an America where a black man can't be elected president."  That seems true, although if Obama loses, everyone will say it was because he's black.  I happen to be in the small minority of people who think it helped him to be black; if he wins, it won't be the reason he won, but it has certainly given him attention he wouldn't have had otherwise.  Not to mention, a lot of people have cut him a lot of slack.

[5:35] As usual, Stephen Green is drunkblogging the election.  Not sure Vodka is required yet, but it can't hurt!

[5:40] Fox calls Virginia for McCain.  So be it.

CNN magic wall and holograms[5:40] TechCrunch calls out the CNN Magic Wall and Holograms.  I'm sure they're hoping it will help Obama, and maybe it will.  I can so remember four years ago how sad they were when Bush defeated Kerry.

[5:41] Irony free zone: Obama thanks 'gracious' press.  And well he might!

[5:47] CNN projects that Barack Obama wins Pennsylvania.  [ via alert ]  That's big.

[5:52] Instapundit: "At the moment, McCain is ahead in the popular vote while way behind in electoral votes. I doubt that will last, but in light of 2000 it's funny."

[6:13] CNN projects McCain wins North Dakota and Wyoming, Obama wins New York, Michigan and Minnesota.  [ via alert ]  So be it, all expected, I think.

[6:25] Slate: Why Starbucks can't use free coffee to help get out the vote.  So be it, anyone who has to be bribed with coffee or anything else to vote, should not vote.

[6:39] CNN projects Barack Obama the winner of battleground state of Ohio.  [ via alert ]  The biggest news of the day so far, this is pretty important.  Together with Pennsylvania, that's starting to look definitive for Obama.

[6:44] Blogs.com has a survey of a bunch of blog posts about the election: long lines, exit polls.  It is sure evident to me that Obama has a huge edge in support among bloggers.  Whew, am I in the minority, or what?

[6:59] Instapundit: "McCain carries Texas and Utah but that's no surprise. Obama carries Iowa. At this point, the only real question is really how big Obama will win; only a miracle will save McCain."

[7:49] Jonah Goldberg in National Review: "Look, I expect to be one of the most severe critics of the Obama administration and the Democrats generally in the years ahead (though I sincerely hope I won't find that necessary). But Obama ran a brilliant race and he should be congratulated for it."  I would agree with that.

[7:56] CNN: Election set to shatter turnout records.  "Americans hit the polls Tuesday in numbers that officials across the country believed would shatter election turnout records.  Although more than 24.4 million people had already cast early or absentee ballots by Monday, the continued high volume of voters had people across the United States braving long lines."

[8:00] Instapudit: "Fox just called the election for Obama.  Congratulations, It's a historic moment."  Indeed it is.  Wow.

[8:08] CNN projects that Sen. Barack Obama has won election as the next president of the United States.  [ via alert]  WOW.  There you have it, congratulations to Barack Obama, he did it.  We have a [half-] black young inexperienced liberal President.  Good luck to him and may all my horrible premonitions about him be wrong!

[8:10] LGF: "Barack Hussein Obama is the next President of the United States, and we extend our sincere congratulations.  Country first."  Absolutely.  Time to move past the divisions and fix the problems, which are several and serious.

[8:19] Instapundit: John McCain concedes.  "The crowd boos Obama, but he silences them. 'His success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. . . . This is a historic election. . . . Let there be no reason now for any citizen to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on earth.'  The crowd cheers."  This speech was one of the best of his campaign.  McCain is a lot more likeable than he often showed, and that hurt him.  (In this respect [alone] he reminds me a bit of Al Gore, who was a lot more personable that he appeared when he campaigned in 2000.)

[8:31] John McCain congratulates Barack Obama on his "historic" election as president of "the greatest nation on Earth."  [ via alert]

Obama wins - status as of 8:30PM[8:32] TechCrunch: Obama wins in total rout.  And they have the map to prove it, shown at right...

[9:06] President Bush congratulates Obama on "awesome night".  You'd have to say Bush had a lot to do with Obama's victory :)

[9:19] Barack Obama, in victory speech, tells supporters that his election as president shows that "change has come to America."  [ via alert ]

[10:05] From Slate: The day John McCain lost the election.  "For Bill Clinton in 1992, it was the economy, stupid. For John McCain in 2008, it was the stupid economy. Exit polls showed that 62 percent of the electorate said the economy was the most important issue."  Absolutely true.  And isn't that weird, because six months ago you would have said the situation in Iraq was McCain's achilles heel, and the economy a strength.  The full irony is that McCain was one of the earliest and most vociferous critics of FNMA / FDMC, and totally saw this coming, yet when it did, he was blamed for it.

And so it ends...  another election.  I will probably blog more about this in the coming hours, days, and weeks, and all the other issues besides, but for now I'll sign off. 

{Cheers and thanks for your attention!}

 

 

reactions

Wednesday,  11/05/08  06:07 AM

Obama winsI think everyone uses the word 'historic' to describe Obama's victory.  In the end, it was a landslide.  The people of America voted for change, in these times, they believed a new guy from a new party with a new viewpoint was the best solution.  Let's hope they are right!

The stock market rose strongly yesterday but [so far] is down this morning.  Probably just short-term profit-taking.  "Wall Street prepared to cash in some of the previous session's big gains Wednesday, focusing on the weak economy after Barack Obama's election to the White House.Tuesday's election results weren't surprising to the market, except perhaps in terms of the wide margin by which Obama beat John McCain. Rather, investors appeared to be gauging the economy's troubles again, and acknowledging the fact that stocks have recovered so sharply despite dismal data."

Obama will have friends in high places; the Democratic party picked up 15 seats in the House, and gained five Senators.  He'll have a solid majority to carry out his plans.  All of which leaves Republicans pondering their path to renewal.  Of course the pendulum will swing, particularly if the economy does not recover.  I'm hoping the economy recovers quickly and the Democrats will keep their majorities as a result; we'll see.

election results: 2008 vs 2004In the Economist's review of Obama's victory they posted an interesting map (at left) which compares the 2008 results to 2004; you can see Obama carried all the "blue" states Kerry won in 2004, plus many more besides; Indiana, Ohio, Florida, and Virginia were the biggest states to switch.  They also report [as you would expect] that Europeans Cheer Obama Victory.  My Mom will be happy :)

Closer to home, the LATimes reports: 1A high-speed rail is going to pass, 2 farm animal treatment has passed, 3 children's hospitals has passed, 4 abortion notification is not going to pass, 5 drug offense rehabilition has not passed, 6 criminal justice reform has not passed, 7 renewal energy has not passed (good; too expensive and not the way to do this), 8 gay marriage ban is going to pass (that sucks, wow), 9 victims rights has passed, 10 alternative fuels has not passed, 11 redistricting is ahead (barely, boy, I hope that makes it), and 12 loans for veterans has passed.  So be it.  It looks like after all that prop 8 is going to pass which really surprises me.  According to the LATimes article, 18,000 gay couples have married in the last 4 1/2 months, wonder what their status will be?

The Ventura County Star reports Elton Gallegly has been reelected, my U.S. Representative (good), Tony Strickland will be my California Senator (good), and his wife Audra Strickland has been reelected as my California Representative (good).

Well so be it.  I for one am ready to take a break from politics, probably you are too.  Have a great day!

 

 

what matters

Wednesday,  11/05/08  07:16 AM

What matters:

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

How did you do?  Now try this:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

Was this easier?

I have a Google Alert for Westlake Village (where I live :), and it brings in all sorts of great and no-so-great stuff.  This morning it brought in a post by Ramsey Omery...  so I'm reading his blog, and I find this: The Charles Schultz Philosophy.  "The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials..the most money...or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most."  Whoa.  Thanks, Ramsey, you just made my day.

 

 

what matters II

Wednesday,  11/05/08  08:05 AM

American Flag!You guys are fast - a reader emails "why didn't you post an American flag?"  Great point, especially in connection with "what matters"...  Because America and everything it stands for is what matters.  You have to say with Obama's election Democracy won.

Okay, I have to work now :)  more later...

 

 

Wednesday,  11/05/08  10:20 PM

Okay [somewhat] back to normal around here, how about you?  I've spent the past couple of days in Vista working on a new project for Aperio, really cool.  I wish I could tell you about it and I will as soon as I can; In the meantime I'll tease.  I also managed to work in a ride today (31 miles, loop including bike path to Oceanside and along the beach, nice, except it was 55o, brrr).  I'm getting nervous about my trip to Brazil next week - why? don't know.  Fear of the unknown, I guess :)

Be careful what you wish for: Obama to inherit economy in worst crisis in 70 years.  "Barack Obama's presidential election victory comes with an albatross of a prize -- an economy beset by a stubborn housing slump and the worst financial crisis in 70 years.  Consumers and businesses are sharply reducing their spending and the government is awash in red ink."  What's needed now is optimism and confidence, both of which Obama seems to have in excess supply...

Corporate sex: GOOG pulls out of YHOO.  So the purpose of this [temporary] coupling was purely to piss off MSFT, right?  I bet GOOG enjoyed the fling, while YHOO wishes they had married MSFT when they had the chance...

Hurricane Ike trackAll you global warming alarmists take note: 2008 Atlantic hurricane season 'lowest in 30 years'...  (Of course, Ike did destroy Galveston [at left].)  What does this mean?  Nothing.  Statistically one year is just a blip.  Nothing to see here, move along...

Headline of day: airline crew duct-tapes unruly passenger to her seat.  Sadly there are no pictures.

Fireball - Deep PurpleAlbum of the day: Fireball, by Deep Purple.  Yeah, Richie Blackmore could play.  The original album had seven tracks, but the 25th anniversary version on Lala has sixteen.  I'm in the minority among critics but I love The Mule; an electric cello, how cool is that?  YMMV :)

Joel Spolsky makes a bunch of mistakes but it all works out: The Unproven Path, about his and Jeff Atwood's project stackoverflow.com.  Of course he did the one thing you must do to succeed, he had good programmers.  That would be more like The Proven Path.

Michael Crichton - the hit manMichael Crichton has died.  One of the most amazing authors of all time, his "hits" included The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, Binary, The Great Train Robbery, Congo, Sphere, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Disclosure, The Lost World, Airframe, Timeline, Prey, State of Fear, and [the appropriately named] Next.  He will be missed!

I've been investigating "cloud" computing service providers lately, so I received Microsoft's announcement of Azure with great interest.  As usual with Microsoft, reality had trouble escaping from the hype.  Ted Dziuba performs a public service by straightening out the confusion.  "Fortunately for Microsoft, decision makers don't choose a hosted application platform based on specifications. They choose based on the number of stock photos of clouds and the amount of sans-serif blue typeface you have on your webpage. In that regard, Redmond is the clear winner."  Unfortunately for Microsoft, I don't value pictures of clouds very much.  I think we're going to use Rackspace :)

Mary Jo Foley asks Show of hands: Who wants multi-touch on a PC?  "Multi-touch is one of those fun, gee-whiz technologies that demos well.  It was definitely one of the stars of Windows 7’s Professional Developer Conference (PDC) keynote debut last week.  But, as I asked earlier this year, who really wants to have to touch their laptop or desktop screens to perform tasks that are easier and better done with a mouse and keyboard?"  I totally agree.  This is a dancing bear.

Vestas SailrocketThe Vestas Sailrocket is the fastest sailboat on the planet.
Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

more reactions

Thursday,  11/06/08  06:54 AM

More reactions to the Obama victory and our new President...

Powerline: Ten thesis on President-elect Obama.  And later: "The Greatest Irony of the just-concluded Presidential campaign, as I've said before, is that both John McCain and Barack Obama began the primaries as candidates whose main focus was on foreign affairs. Obama was the antiwar candidate, McCain the national security hawk. By yesterday those positions, which largely drove the early primaries, had become almost irrelevant. McCain proved right on the surge in Iraq, but because he was right the war has pretty much been won and therefore is no longer a compelling issue."  Yep, the defining issue in this election became the economy; who knew?

Obama bodysurfingThe Horses's mouth: A first for the United States (The first President(elect) who is a body surfer from Hawaii :)

Steven Den Beste (!): Not the end of the world.  "I think this election is going to be a 'coming of age' moment for a lot of people. They say, 'Be careful what you wish for' and a lot of people got their wish yesterday.  And now they're bound to be disappointed. Not even Jesus could satisfy all the expectations of Obama's most vocal supporters, or fulfill all the promises Obama has made."  Steven is a thoughtful voice, I miss him!

Fred Wilson: Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States.  Fred lists six things he thinks we'll get from an Obama administration:  1) A world class management team, 2) Honesty, 3) A steady hand, 4) Diplomacy, 5) Fairness, 6) Leadership.  I hope he's right, especially about Honesty and Fairness.  We'll see.  [ via Brad Feld ]

Dave Winer: Sarah we hardly knew ya.  "When she was announced as a candidate I was virtually alone in believing the choice wouldn't age well. When I turned out to be correct, I didn't want to gloat, because the election wasn't over, and there was no way to be absolutely sure. Now we are... Palin is no longer a candidate, she's a punchline."  Ouch!  I liked Sarah, and still do.  It will be interesting to see if she remains a player on the national stage or is reduced to a footnote.  In their effort to elect Obama, the MSM sure did a number on her, it might be hard for her to recover.  But you could have said that about McCain, too :)

Condoleezza Rice reacts to Obama's electionCondoleezaa Rice reacts...  Man, I really like her.  I still think it was too bad that association with the Bush Presidency prevented her from being considered as John McCain's running mate.  She would have been perfect - smart, experienced, articulate, balanced...  oh yeah and the most powerful black woman on the planet.

CNet: John Doerr's advice to Obama: Bill Joy.  "The VC endorses the idea of appointing a CTO for the country who could focus on energy and green tech."  Huh, I like Bill Joy, but he seems like too much of a theorist.  How about Meg Whitman :)

Economist: the economic challenges facing Barack Obama.  "He had always planned for the economy to be his priority. Just not this economy."  His choices for the economic leaders in his administration will be crucial.

 

 

a perfect day

Thursday,  11/06/08  10:34 PM

Today was a perfect day.  I can't tell you all the reasons why, but it was...  among other things the weather was perfect; sunny, warm, light breeze, clear, the kind of day on which you realize why you love living in Southern California. 

perfect day: the beach

And the kind of day on which you realize why you love cycling; in the afternoon I had a wonderful ride from Carlsbad up through the marine base at Camp Pendleton.

perfect day: bikin'

On the way up I passed the Oceanside pier, and stopped to admire the, um, scenery.  The sun was shining, people were out and about, it was great.  I met a couple from Montana out here on vacation - they asked me to take their picture - and they told me it was snowing at their ranch.  They asked if it was always like this out here, and I said...  yes, of course :)

perfect day: the Oceanside pier in the sun

The Camp Pendleton base is always cool; lots of military hardware on display.  (Yes, they let cyclists ride through the base, all you have to do is show your drivers license.  I love it, the kids who work there are as impressive as their toys.)  Today was especially great because just as I was heading back, my ride was interrupted by a convoy of tanks and troop carriers crossing the road.  Perfect timing.  The cool thing about these tanks, they make no noise!  Only the sound of their treads on the concrete.  Spooky.

perfect day: tank crossing

I headed back down the coast with a tailwind, flying along at 25mph, and stopped at the Oceanside pier again just in time to catch the sun setting.  How perfect was that?

perfect day: the Oceanside pier at sunset

A beautiful ride on a beautiful day.  And at the end, an awe-inspiring nightfall with amazing colors stretched across the sky.  Perfect.

perfect day: nightfall

 

 

Thursday,  11/06/08  11:09 PM

Wrapping up my perfect day, the Ole filter makes a pass, and finds it's all happening...

I meant to call this out earlier because I think it's important and it has soaked up a fair amount of think time from me: Josh Newman's observations about Confidence and Comfort, as he slips into something more.  I'll probably post more about this; right now I'm confident that confidence matters, but still trying to get comfortable with the idea of comfort :)

Related: trying to figure out how humor fits in...  I've always felt like a good sense of humor was an essential part of being attractive to investors, women, or anyone, and yet somehow while humor is compatible with confidence (especially self-deprecating humor), it seems a bit at odds with being comfortable. A lot of humor is a bit edgy and derives from discomfort. Some humor even causes discomfort...

the axeman cometh...The Economist notes the axeman cometh:

… current wisdom among axe wielders is that in the last downturn, joints were allowed to sit idly for far too long before they were carved. This time, they intend to cut early, expecting it will buy them the freedom and legitimacy with their board to expand quickly once recovery begins—when unemployment will be high enough to prevent prospective employees from being too squeamish about their new boss’s past enthusiasm for axe wielding. This augurs a fairly rapid rise in unemployment.

On the other hand, many firms are already stretched thin, with vastly more efficient human-resource management than in the past, so big reductions will not just remove fat, they also risk damaging muscle, unless accompanied by some significant and well-designed organizational restructuring—which is never easy to do right at a time of intense budget pressure.

Yahoo reports jobless rate bolts to 14-year high of 6.5 percent.  "The nation's unemployment rate bolted to a 14-year high of 6.5 percent in October as another 240,000 jobs were cut, far worse than economists expected and stark proof the economy is deteriorating at an alarmingly rapid pace."  Sadly, this is a snowball rolling down hill; as more people are laid off, the economy declines further, forcing more companies to cut more jobs.

The market is down incredibly since the election, and Instapundit ponders whether it's fair to blame Obama.  Yes, it is.

In this economy, self-sufficient is the new sexy.  At the personal and business level...

Change you can believe in?  President-elect Obama launches change.gov.  There is a "blog", but they're confused; it looks like it is really a stream of press releases.  Sigh.  [ via Ars Technica ]

the Pico pocket-sized projectorDavid Pogue reviews the Pico projector - wow, how cool!  Definitely a new product category and one destined for major adoption...  Please Santa, I've been a good boy :)

Mexican walking fishWell this sucks - the uber-cool "Mexican walking fish" nears extinction.  It is too cool, surely evolution cannot be so heartless?

Did you see this?  California gives green light to high-speed train.  "Voters in California this week agreed to bankroll a multi-billion dollar high-speed railway system, with technology to come from either Japan or Europe...  The train would connect San Francisco to Los Angeles and would cost some 45 billion dollars, according to news reports, which said the measure was approved by a vote of some 52 percent to about 48 percent."  It would be cool, but don't hold your breath.  That $45B is bound to double before the first track is laid...

Wired News with a blast from the past: November 7, 1932: Radio Enters the 25th Century.  "1932: Space adventurer Buck Rogers debuts on CBS radio. The science fiction show, eventually called Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, will delight loyal fans over a span of 15 years and inspire aficionados for decades more."  What a different time that was, can you imagine how strange and amazing it must have been to contemplate space travel in 1932?

Romulan warbird spaceshipAnd so here we have the five awesomest TV and Movie spaceships...  not a bad list, but sadly incorrect, as it completely omits the Enterprise!  What?  I have to agree with the Romulan warbird choice, however, that is kickass-looking...

 

 

 

 

fun with gravity

Friday,  11/07/08  01:43 PM

This morning I emailed my friend Tim, asked him how he was doing (he has two new babies, a boy named Pi and a girl named Persiphone, how cool is that :), and he told me he was talking a little jaunt up La Tuna Canyon and asked would I like to join him?  Sure!  Nothing like 4 miles at 10%, that's what I always say, especially when there is a nice 15% section in the middle.

La Tuna Canyon

And so it was that I found myself having fun with gravity.  Of course the reward for climbing the hill is looking back down...

La Tuna Canyon looking down...

Bright clear day, you can see Palos Verdes peninsula, directly ahead, and to the right in the haze, Catalina Island.  You can also look up the hill to scare yourself...

La Tuna Canyon looking up...

On and on and one, at 10%+ it is...  a struggle where you peg your granny gear and just try to keep the pedals ticking over...

La Tuna Canyon - Tim climbs the steep section

Yep that is Tim in the middle of the 15% section, having fun with gravity...

La Tuna canyon view

And when finally you make it to Saddle Peak, you look back, and ... wow!  Amazing and beautiful. 

All the leaves are brown, on a winter's day, I'd be safe and warm, if I was in L.A., California dreaming, on such a winter's day...

La Tuna Canyon - looking back down

Of course the real fun with gravity starts on the descent, and because I wanted to live, I did not take any pictures.  However this YouTube video will give you a flavor for the descent.  Especially excellent is the fact that the street is one-way downhill, so that as you're descending at speed there are no oncoming cars...

 

 

Friday,  11/07/08  07:40 PM

I'm still basking in the glow of my perfect day yesterday.  Today wasn't perfect, but I still felt great feeding off the momentum.  My fun with gravity this morning didn't hurt either :)

One cool thing I did today was setup a new server in a datacenter, from the comfort of my chair in my office.  Thank you Rackspace.  Armed only with a web browser and a credit card, I was able to contract for a spiffy new 2x2 Opteron with 1GB RAM and 256GB of disk, running Win03.  Two hours later I was RDPed into the box, and four hours later I had a new test system up and running.  I love it.

{
It was not always so; I can remember in a previous life setting up my own datacenter, complete with raised floor, Halon fire protection, backup generator, network hardware, peering relationships with several network providers, and of course a bunch of servers which had to be babysat 24x7.  This is better :)
}

Curious about Windows 7?  Here's a guided tour of the Win7 taskbar from Microsoft...

Windows 7 taskbar

[ Update: This post was half-posted up to this point for a couple days while I flew to Brazil.  The full version and several other posts were trapped in the amber of my blogging tool, Citydesk.  All is now well :) ]

2001 Space Odyssey: Spaceship DiscoveryHere we have the five most scientifically plausible sci-fi movies...  2001 Space Odyssey heads the list (as it should!)

real-life Photoshop!Everybody has linked this but it is too cool not to mention; real-life Photoshop.  How excellent is that?  Very.

NewScientist reports Plucky Mars rovers on the move again.  "The arrival of spring in southern Mars is reviving NASA's two venerable Mars rovers as deepening autumn in the arctic north slowly freezes the Phoenix lander.  After hibernating for the winter on the northern edge of a plateau called Home Plate, the Spirit rover moved uphill in October to collect more sunlight.  On the other side of the planet, the Opportunity rover, which climbed out of a large crater called Victoria at the end of August, has completed the first month of a 12-kilometre trek towards an even bigger crater called Endeavour. That journey is expected to take more than two years."  How excellent, those robots are the Energizer bunnies of space exploration.

the Denon AVR-889 receiverFrom Wired: AV Receiver porn, the new Denon AVR-889.  "Denon delivers a lot to love at an excellent price. For well under a grand, you get features that just a few years ago were available only in flagship models. That includes 1080p upscaling from analog sources, Neural Surround for XM-HD radio, and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. And don't think Denon tacked on fancy formats at the expense of power: At 100 watts per channel, it manages to be Nascar-loud yet ballet-beautiful."  Fortunately they had the decency not to show the back panel :)

ACC boats racing!Wrapping up, I must note along with Scot Tempesta that the ACC boats are back!  There are of course the American's Cup Class boats in which the last America's Cup was sailed; the way things are going, it really will be the last one (the next one appears tied up in court) and it really doesn't appear that the ACC boats will ever be used in it again, whatever happens.  In the meantime they're gorgeous expensive awesome incredible machines, and it is nice to see them back on the water racing in the Trofeo Desafío Español.

 

 

 

Kindle rocks

Saturday,  11/08/08  09:46 AM

My wife Shirley gave me an early birthday present yesterday, in advance of flying to Brazil for a week: A spiffy Amazon Kindle!  After charging it over night, this morning I made time to play with it.  I can say unequivocally, Kindle rocks.

First I must tell you all the pictures you've seen don't actually do it justice.  It is smaller and thinner and prettier than you would think;  you have to be holding one to evaluate the "look and feel" properly.  The screen is wonderful, high contrast and high resolution.  The brighter the light you shine on it, the better; take it outside, no problem.  The buttons on the edges take some getting used to, because you have a tendency to click them inadvertently; I'm guessing I'll get used to that, but we'll see.  The feel of the buttons is fine - nice little clicks - and the keyboard is just fine also (despite what you may have read).  It also comes with a really nice book-like cover, very cool.

my Kindle!
(click to enbiggen)

my Kindle's cover

The user interface is a bit different to what you might expect at first - it isn't a handheld computer - but once you start using it the whole interface makes sense, it is consistent and very "booklike".  To start with no content ever extends "down"; there is no such thing as scrolling.  Content which doesn't fit on one screen is divided into multiple pages, and you simply page forward to read it.  There's this thing called a "cursor bar" which adjoins the screen to the right (click the thumbnail above to see a high-resolution version of my Kindle, you'll be able to see it).  Below the cursor bar is a "select wheel".  To select stuff, you scroll the select wheel to position a little silver indicator in the cursor bar adjacent to whatever you want to select, and then click the select wheel.  This is how you make menu selections, and otherwise tell the Kindle what to do.  It feels strange at first because it isn't like the computer menus you're used to, but after ten minutes you get it and from that point it is really intuitive.  What's nice (and I suspect the reason they did it) is that you can select anything you happen to be looking at and do things to it: look up words in the dictionary, create bookmarks, make notes, etc.

The Kindle uses an e-ink display, which is where it gets its resolution and contrast, but one drawback to e-ink is that it is slow.  So while displaying static pages works great (again, click the thumbnail above to see my Kindle at high-resolution), it can't do any kind of animation.  Including presumably scrolling a selection in a menu.  So the cursor bar was a clever solution.

The interface includes a Back button so you can "nest in" and then get back to where you started easily.  On the keyboard are buttons for Home and Search; at any time you can search the whole Kindle for any text, which works nicely.

As I started reading I was surprised how useful it was to be able to look up words in the dictionary; there are a lot of words I sort of know, but now I can look them up to get exactly the nuance.  Not only does the author's meaning come through more clearly, but your vocabulary expands :)

So far I have downloaded a few books, and it was really easy, and really fast.  The Kindle uses something Amazon calls "whispernet", which is a combination of EVDO (where available) and 1XRTT (where EVDO is not).  At my house, on EVDO, it takes less than thirty seconds to download a whole book.  Pretty impressive.  Books seem to be about $10, roughly half their paper cost.  I have chosen a few books I've been meaning to read for my trip: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, Halting State, Thirteen, and The God Delusion.  I also downloaded a Brazilian travel guide :)

Anyway so far I am really impressed and delighted.  It was a great gift (thank you Shirley!) and I think it will be a wonderful traveling companion.  I'll have more to say about it after my trip I'm sure, stay tuned...

 

 

Saturday,  11/08/08  05:38 PM

Checking in after a quiet day...  worked mostly, while feeling guilty for not packing for my trip to Brazil :) and squeezed in a nice ride (last for a week, I'm afraid...)  And now I have just enough time to see what the world is up to, and then it is off to a party...  and tomorrow off to Sao Paulo.  My next post will be from South America - who knows, it could be upside down :)

election 2008 population cartogramIf you're not tired of the Presidential election yet, you might enjoy these election maps...  the one at right depicts state-by-state results, with the areas of each state skewed by its population.  You can see just how not-close the election was...  [ via Brad Feld ]

Dave Winer: changing the way we do news.  "What didn't change in the 2008 election is the way news flowed. This is a big disappointment to me and something that causes great concern. I see the newspapers dying, and the broadcast media failing to do news, and I want to evolve to the next thing, but it doesn't seem that's the way it'll go."  Dave and I disagree on a lot, but on this I agree with him completely.

Philip Greenspun thinks we should let G.M. go bankrupt.  Me, too.  The longer this federal bailout period is taking, the more I think the whole thing was a mistake.  Markets work, if you let them.  And bailouts by the government is the opposite of letting them work.

$1B Zimbabwe dollar billSpeaking of bankrupt, here we have $1B Zimbabwe dollars.  Yes, that is a real note (thanks Adam Curry) and yes, it is basically worthless.  Actually I think it might have value as a collector's item; I wouldn't mind having one :)

Mark Cuban has some good advice for Obama: Entrepreneurs will lead us out of this mess. Talk to Them.  "Your current group has no one with 100pct of their networth on the line. I promise you that the possibility of losing it all will provide a completely different perspective than any of the “knowledge” the esteemed, learned members of his current advisory team offer."  Indeed.

International Space Station over EarthThis is really cool: Scientific American has pictures of the International Space Station.  The other day I linked the five most plausible sci-fi movies; well this ain't no movie, but it would fit right in with 2001's Discovery, don't you think?  I remember the old joke, it would cost less to send a man to Mars than to make a move about it, but that wasn't true; space travel is really expensive, especially when [non-expendable] people are involved.  But when you see the ISS and such, it such seems worth it...

Sadly, it appears NASA have lost contact with the Phoenix lander as it freezes in the Martian North.  It's mission did last five months, nearly twice as long as the projected three months, and there is still a little hope...

Kirby Brown takes on a monster waveSurfing picture of the day, or any day; Kerby Brown takes on a monster...  unbelievably, the wave closed out and slammed him, but he survived...

the crooked house, PolandHere we have fifty strange buildings of the world.  And they are truly strange, and quite amazing.  There is a such a variety represented it is hard to pick my favorite...  but I did, and here it is :)  YMMV!

 

 

 

from São Paulo

Monday,  11/10/08  05:14 PM

This is coming to you from São Paulo, Brazil, where I must tell you I am running a sleep deprivation experiment; I left my house on at noon Sunday, flew to São Paulo via Dallas, arrived Monday morning (there is a six hour time difference from L.A., up from the usual five because Brazil is on their daylight savings time, as it is late Spring here), gave a presentation / demo for customers and prospects at Diagnostika, a Brazilian reference lab, and then went out for a fabulous dinner at a Brazilian steak house.  And am now blogging.

Sao Paulo - a mix of old and new
São Paulo - a mix of old and new and BIG

First impression - São Paulo feels much like a European city, perhaps in Spain somewhere, although it is huge, bigger than Madrid, bigger than you could even imagine (well, certainly bigger than I had imagined).  I am told 10M people live here.  Wow.  That is way bigger than Los Angeles, even including all the environs.  Another impression: I'd always thought I never really got anything out of having studied Spanish in high school, based on my trips to Spain, but now I realize it truly did help, because here, where everyone speaks Portuguese, I know nothing at all.  Not even yes (sim) or no (não).  Not even hello (olá) or thanks (obrigado) or please (por favor).  Or sorry (descuple).  I had to learn all this today, on the fly :)

Sao Paulo - Diagnostika, a reference lab and Aperio customer
Diagnostika - a reference lab and Aperio customer - in an old Turkish home

I made a presentation (in English) along with Aperio's South American channel manager, who is/was Brazilian, and who translated where necessary, and it went great, and then we did some demos, and they went greater; it is always fun to see pathologists and lab managers socks flying when they see digital pathology in action :)  We had over thirty people attend, nearly twice what we'd expected, and overall it was a big success.

Sao Paulo - a Brazilian steak house
A Brazilian steak house - they slice joists of meat right at the table

Wrapping up we had dinner at a Brazilian steak house, a fixture in the South apparently, where they bring a continuous stream of joists of meat right to your table, and slice them to order.  Really amazing, accompanied by a delightful Chilean Cabernet.  I believe I will have to ride for a week to compensate.

And so ends day one!  Tomorrow I move on to Rio de Janeiro, stay tuned...

 

 

Kindle really rocks

Monday,  11/10/08  05:20 PM

The other day I concluded Kindle rocks, after having received one as a present.  So now, having flown for a cumulative 15 hours, I can tell you it really rocks.  This is the perfect "book" to take on an airplane.  It is small, light, easy to read, and of course the equivalent of 200 books when fully loaded, so you have a ton of content.  The battery life is excellent, especially with the "whispernet" turned off (which of course you must do on an airplane anyway).  Pleasingly the flight crews treat it like a book, not an electronic device, so you can use it during takeoffs and landings and while taxiing (actually I think they didn't know what to make of it; YMMV).

I found myself continuing to look up a lot of words in the dictionary - that's an unexpectedly useful feature - and also switching between books some; I found myself reading The God Delusion and The Black Swan more or less interleaved, for some reason.  The reading experience is really good, you do "disappear" into the experience, as intended.  I have not yet gotten used to the big next page button on the right, however, it is convenient, but a little too convenient, it is too easy to push when you don't mean to.  At this point I doubt I'll get used to that, it is just a not-perfect implementation that you would think might have been exposed during beta-testing, and will no doubt be addressed in version two.  Another not-perfect thing is the "back" button because it is not matched with a "forward" button.  Sometimes I hit "back" when I meant "previous page", but when I did there was no "forward" to easily recover.  Another thing for the next version.  But these are quibbles because otherwise I like it a lot.

As you might expect it is a bit of a conversation starter; people see you reading, and either know what a Kindle is and want to see it, or don't know what a Kindle is and want to see it.  I may have sold a few en route :)

Now that I'm in my hotel, it still rocks, because I can go to bed and read easily; the smallness and lightness and easy-to-read-ness are all still important, as is the fact that I have all this content from which to choose.  Awesome, I love it.

 

 

Monday,  11/10/08  05:27 PM

The Ole filter makes a pass, from São Paulo, without sleep...

Obama and BushObama and Bush meet!  "The Bushes welcomed the Obamas to the White House on Monday, offering a symbolic glimpse of what's in store for the country: a new first family along with a new administration.  President Bush and President-elect Obama met in the Oval Office, their first face-to-face session, while first lady Laura Bush and Obama's wife, Michelle, held their own meeting in the White House residence."  [ via Glenn Reynolds, who comments "They all actually look happy. Well, heck. Obama's glad to be President, and Bush is glad to leave." ]  It is early but the transition appears to be amiable, good for Bush, and good for all of us.

I must tell you Obama is very popular in Brazil, not least because it is a racially mixed country, but also because they don't/didn't like Bush and want change as badly as the American people.  We tend to forget that our relationship with the people of other countries is asymmetrical; they care about us and what we do much more than we care about them.

Obama to use executive orders for immediate impact...  "President-elect Obama plans to use his executive powers to make an immediate impact when he takes office, perhaps reversing Bush administration policies on stem cell research and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas."  So be it.  Immediate action may be called for, and certainly enabling stem cell research would be good.

This is amazing: AmEx becomes a bank.  "Seeking shelter amid a global credit crunch and consumer spending slowdown, American Express announced Monday it is becoming a bank."  Wow, may you live in interesting times, indeed.

iPhone prints money :)Huh, the iPhone is now the best selling phone in the U.S., with 6.9M sold in the last quarter.  Who would have expected that?  Well, okay, a lot of people, but I wasn't one of them.  They do seem to be everywhere now...

PZ Myers with a nice post on entropy and evolution.  "One of the oldest canards in the creationists' book is the claim that evolution must be false because it violates the second law of thermodynamics, or the principle that, as they put it, everything must go from order to disorder."  Great timing for me as I read Dawkins' fantastic The God Delusion.  Really until you grok the details, you don't realize just how compelling the case for evolution has become.

Up trailer from PixarThe trailer for Up is up (Pixar's next movie).  Jason Kottke thinks "this seems like the first Pixar movie that won't appeal to adults and kids at the same time."  He hopes he's wrong, and I do too...

On Slashdot: Halliburton applies for patent-trolling patent.  Sadly, I am not making this up.

 

 

from Rio de Janeiro

Tuesday,  11/11/08  06:48 PM

This is coming to you from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where my sleep deprivation experiment continues; not having adapted to the [six hour] time change I didn't sleep until 4:00AM, and had to get up at 7:00 for a meeting with Ambriex, Aperio's Brazilian distributor.  After a good discussion which continued over lunch we flew to Rio de Janeiro, had an amazing dinner, and here I am.

Rio de Janeiro - Sugar Loaf mountain
Sugar Loaf mountain from the air - looks just like the pictures :)

Lunch was so nice we missed our flight to Rio de Janeiro.  We booked on the next flight, and then missed that one too while chatting directly next to the gate.  Some things cannot be explained.  Fortunately there seems to be a regular bucket chain of planes between Sao Paulo and Rio and the third try was a charm.

The 50-minute flight into Rio was cool; as you land you can see the hills of the city (including the famous Sugar Loaf) and fly over the bay and islands, then land at the an airport which is itself an island.  Interesting factoid: Santos Dumont airport, named after a famous Brazilian aviator, is noted for having some of the shortest runways of any commercial airport in regular use.

Rio de Janeiro - Copacabana Beach
Copacabana Beach - the view from my hotel room.  Wow.  That’s just about all I can say.

We checked into our hotel and discovered that the rooms set aside for us had flooded and were unavailable.  The hotel graciously booked us into another hotel at the same rate, a much nicer hotel, in fact the tallest and nicest hotel in all of Copacabana Beach.  How great was that?

Rio de Janeiro - dinner at Skylab restaurant
Leila Vecchio, Sandra Martins-Boyte, and me: dinner in a great restaurant
at Copacabana Beach in Rio with two Brazilian women.  Life on the road.

To top it off, I had an amazing dinner with Sanda Martins-Boyte, Aperio's South American channel manager, and Leila Vecchio, a Rio-based sales rep for Ammriex, at the Skycab restaurant at the top of our hotel.  Another meal which will require a week’s riding to compensate.

And so ends day two!  Tomorrow we are meeting at INCA (the Instituto Nacional de Cancer) and giving another presentation / demo...  should be fun.

 

 

Tuesday,  11/11/08  07:19 PM

The Ole filter makes a pass, from Rio de Janeiro, still with very little sleep...

Slate says don't count Matt Drudge out.  Okay, I won't.  In fact, I wouldn't think of it; although I rarely visit drudgereport.com, I am subscribed to their feed and it is one of my best sources of breaking news...

BusinessWeek ran an interesting article about Reid Hoffman, CEO and founder of LinkedIn and my old colleague at PayPal.  Not only is LinkedIn a major player in the valley (with so many layoffs, a lot of people will be looking to use it to network their way into their next job), Reid is a prolific angel investor and is involved with a lot of Web 2.0 startups.  He must be one busy guy, but then he always was anyway...

breast MRIThis is pretty amazing: New MRI screening technique differentiates malignant breast tumors.  "Latest results from researchers at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland demonstrate that 'shutter-speed' computer analysis can distinguish malignant from benign tumors 100 percent of the time in breast cancer screening, a method likely to reduce or eliminate unnecessary biopsies. Their findings are published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."  100%?  Wow.  That is amazing.

Triton, a Kuiper Belt object...Here we have the five strangest Kuiper Belt objects.  They are all strange - the whole Kuiper Belt itself is pretty weird - but these are especially interesting.  And you probably wouldn't have expected it but Pluto is one of them :)  The one that threw me for a loop was...  Triton!  Neptune's large and weird moon is really another Pluto, captured by Nepture's gravitational field.  It doesn't even rotate the right way around its planet...

task manager with 256 processorsCheck out this Task Manager picture, of an HP SuperDome64 Itanium, Dual Core, HyperThreaded = 256 Logical Processors.  Wow, how cool is that?

Speaking of parallel processing, Parallels 4.0 is supposedly 50% faster than the previous version.  This is of course a virtualization solution which allows Windows to run on a Mac under OS X.  I like Parallels better than VMWare but I have to admit, it wasn't as fast, so I can't wait to try the new version!

"I'm a new Mac"Want to upgrade your Mac?  No problem!

Global Warming update: Snow arrives early at Snowbird.  I know specific examples don't prove anything, this could be an insignificant outlier, but I still think it's fun.  When the shoe is on the other foot the media are all over it...

The New Yorker has a new online Digital Reader; I have just started experimenting with it.  It is free to all print subscribers, and provides access to all their archives as well as all the material of their current issue.  A pretty ballsy and cool thing they did...  [ via Jason Kottke, who loves it but does say "Sadly, the actual reading interface is the worst part of the DR." ]

Going back to how the Kindle really rocks, the most rocking thing about it is that the reading interface is excellent.  Brings to mind the comment of Steve Jobs when introducing the iPhone: "the killer app for a phone is making phone calls".  :)

New Yorker Digital Reader

The New Yorker's Digital Reader

 

 

more from Rio

Wednesday,  11/12/08  05:31 PM

This is coming to you from Rio de Janeiro, my second day here, and I still haven't slept very well.  The effort of concentrating on Portuguese conversations while tired is significant, whew...

So today was amazing; we spent most of the day at the INCA (Instituto Nacional de Cancer).  The INCA has a long history – commemorated in various Brazilian stamps...

Rio de Janeiro - INCA (Instituto Nacional de Cancer)
INCA – Instituto Nacional de Cancer

I must say INCA is in a horrible section of Rio, right near the commercial port.  The taxi ride over was like entering a war zone.  There is an armed guard at the entrance, covering a bulletproof front door.  You begin to realize that Rio is like a movie set; the beaches and the tourist hotels are amazing, but behind the scenes there is a lot of poverty and strife.  There are 6M people in Rio - it is, for example much larger than Los Angeles - and a significant number of them are literally dirt poor; they live in the favelas, the Brazilian slums, which are shanty towns of corregated steel shacks and dirt floors.  Everyone warns you not to get near them, they are rife with drug dealing and gang warfare.

Rio de Janeiro - Ole presents!
I present Aperio's image analysis solutions to a room full of pathologists...

Anyway my presentation went well, attended by 45 people (as with São Paulo, more than expected), and afterward we walked to lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall nearby.  I must tell you I was pretty uncomfortable with that area and would not walk through it again.  Wow.  For the first time I transitioned to thinking of Brazil as “third-world” instead of pseudo-European.  The restaurant featured an interesting innovation, apparently common throughout Brazil; a buffet where you pay by the pound.  My total for a surprisingly good meal was R$5.50, a little over $2.  Seems like an idea that would work in the U.S.; no food is wasted, and you pay according to how hungry you are…

After lunch we had a nice tour of the pathology lab; pretty cool, an interesting mix of old and new technology, e.g. human cover slippers and a spiffy new German tissue processor.  The lab processes about 1,000 slides per day, all [suspected] cancer cases.  The highlight for me was the basement where they store slides; the warehouse in the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark was vividly brought to mind.  Check out all the slides and tissue blocks spread out on tables for sorting...


Sorting slides preparatory to filing them in the archive…

Later we returned from the “war zone” back to our first-class hotel in the middle of Copacabana Beach; a pretty weird transition.  And still later we walked down the beach to a wonderful seafood restaurant.  Yet another meal which will require a weeks’ riding to work off, sigh, but it might possibly have been worth it :)

Rio de Janeiro - seafood buffet!
Yes, that is Sevruga, and yes, I ate a lot of it :)

So ends day three!  Tomorrow we travel to Salvador, Brazil's third-largest city...

 

Wednesday,  11/12/08  06:19 PM

Today's filter pass on the blogosphere, again from Rio, and still without enough sleep...

Dave Winer wonders Is Obama truly world-wide?  As someone presently in Brazil, the fifth largest country, I can unequivocally answer Yes.  It is amazing to see how many Brazilians followed the U.S. elections, and how glad they are that Obama won.  And how much they expect from him and the U.S. as a result.

Ronald Bailey argues No New Energy Czar (we've been down this policy dead-end before).  [ via Glenn Reynolds, who asks "have we ever solved a problem by appointing a 'czar'?"  No. ]

high-speed trainInhabitat: Californians vote yes on 800 miles of high speed rail.  Yes we did.  "According to the High Speed Rail Authority, California is the 12th largest source of greenhouse gas emission on earth, 41% of which come from transportation. Traveling at 220 miles per hour, the trains will reduce greenhouse gases by up to 12.7 billion pounds annually, the equivalent of removing 1 million cars from the road each year."  So that's all very exciting, and I would ordinarily be very excited, but in these times we have to ask, can we pay for it?

Sprint Now dashboardSprint's Now dashboard...  OMG how cool.  Really you must click through and see this for yourself...  [ via Daring Fireball ]

Tim Oren has some questions for Jerry Yang's successor at Yahoo.  "If the Yahoo board is evenly vaguely doing their job on behalf of shareholders, they are searching for a successor.  So here's a gratis list of questions they ought to asking a CEO candidate, who should either have defensible answers walking in, or develop them as part of his or her diligence process, before agreeing to take the hot seat."  They're good questions...

unexpected buildingPhotos of unexpected buildings - which don't actually exist.  But they should...  Belgian photographer Filip Dujardin makes images of unexpected buildings; he "combines photographs of parts of buildings into new, fictional, architectonic structures."  I love it.

Eric Raymond has more on 'moogly', his Google G1 phone.  "My more considered verdict is this: HELL YEAH!  The iPhone should be feeling teeth in its ass right…about…now.  It’s not any one feature that makes me say this.  It’s that the gestalt, the entire experience, is so comfortable and pleasant. I enjoy using my phone."  Not to mention (and he doesn't), it has a real keyboard.  Some people say it has a crummy real keyboard, but still...

RAID explained!RAID explained!  Thanks to these guys for this excellent explanation
(For RAID 6, simply add one more bottle to the RAID 5 example :)

The Cleveland Clinic have unveiled their annual list of top 10 innovations in medicine; interestingly, #4 is multispectral imaging in pathology...

Brazilian leaf-house (outside Rio)Apropos my current location, the Breezy, Beautiful Brazilian leaf-house.  This house is outside Rio, can't be that far from where I am! 

Pretty different to the favelas (Brazilian slums) I passed today...  wow, what a study in contrasts.

Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) finds his voice.  "Here's an update on my voice, in case anyone is curious.  Thanks to surgery in July to correct my exotic voice problem (Spasmodic Dysphonia), I now have a virtually normal voice...  This is a life changing event for me...  However unpleasant you imagine it is to be unable to speak, I can assure you it was worse.  But thanks to one surgeon, Dr. Berke at UCLA, apparently my problem is solved."  How excellent.

 

 

from Salvador

Thursday,  11/13/08  05:18 PM

This is coming to you from Salvador, and I must tell you I finally got a good night's sleep!  Yay.  Today began in Rio, and I had half a day to be a tourist before flying on to Salvador and took full advantage; I visited the famous Jesus the Redeemer statue which overlooks the city.

Rio de Janeiro - Jesus the Redeemer
Jesus the Redeemer; sandstone 120ft tall, 635 tons, erected in 1931.  Wow.

The statue itself is amazing, but even cooler is the view of the city you get standing up on Mount Corcovado, where the statue is located.

Rio de Janeiro - panorama from Mount Corcovado
Panorama of Rio from Mount Corcovado; click for larger version
(my hotel was just about the fingertip :)

Off I went to Salvador, a city of 3.5M people (larger than Chicago!) located almost due North of Rio on a peninsula that encloses the Bahia de Todos Santos.  Here's a map; small children are born knowing all this, but then, those are Brazilian children; you and I need Google.

Brazil - map showing São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador
Brazil - map showing São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador

Once in Salvador we checked into our hotel and explored the seafront a bit; we walked to the Forte de Santo Antonio da Barra, which encloses a lighthouse at the Southern-most tip of the city.

Salvador - Forte de Santo Antonio da Barra lighthouse
the Forte de Santo Antonio da Barra silhouettes the sun

Then it was back to the hotel for a beautiful Brazilian sunset - enjoyed from the pool deck, of course, and finally on to an excellent African-inspired seafood dinner.

Salvador - sunset!
Salvadorian sunset, as seen from the pool deck

I can recommend the shrimp with the pepper sauce, although you’ll need to have a fire extinguisher handy, or at least a Caipirinha.  Yes, more cycling to do…

Salvador - African-inspired seafood dinner
Elise Aparecido, Leila Vecchio, James Wells, Sandra Martins-Boyte, Ole Eichhorn, Flavio Santos

And so ends day four!  Tomorrow, another presentation / demo, and then tomorrow night I fly home!

 

 

Thursday,  11/13/08  05:48 PM

And so the Ole filter makes its daily pass, from Salvador, and this time well rested...

Brad Feld has a few requests for President-elect Obama:

  1. Appoint Some High Profile Republicans to Your Cabinet.
  2. Veto The First Pork Laden Bill.
  3. Continue Being Confident But Not Certain.

It's a good list, I agree with all of them.  It will be interesting to see who he does appoint to his cabinet, that will determine much else that happens...

John McWhorter: What Obama means for black America.  "The issue is not only the emergence of the new but the eclipse of the old."  This is all good, really good.

  • "The studious black teen will no longer be tarred as 'thinking he's white.'"  Yeah, who's cooler, Barack Obama or Fifty Cent?
  • "The illusion that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are black America's leaders is now officially dispelled."  I never thought they were, now they don't, either.
  • "The idea that for black people, underdoggism is higher awareness is obsolete."  Excellent, the culture of victimology totally bothered me.

Maybe I'm going to end up glad Obama won, even though I was afraid he would.  (In the end I suspect his effect on the economy will determine how I feel, not his effect on "black America".  Still.)

the White House ATMPowerline on the bailout situation: More to come.  "Given the latest announcement by Secretary Paulson that none of the $700 billion appropriated by Congress will be used for the originally-stated purpose of purchasing distressed financial assets, it seems clear that neither the administration nor those in Congress who voted for the bailout had any idea what they were about."  Ugh.

VC funding chartTechCrunch notes a scary line has been crossed for VCs...  "money going into VC funds is now more than the money coming out of VC funds. That line was crossed last June and there is no going back anytime soon.  The big institutional investors who tend to put the most money into venture funds as limited partners are hurting right now.  They’re other investments have gone south, they are over-leveraged, and there is buzz that some are pulling back from their commitments to venture funds."  And that is why there's a credit crunch for funding startups.

cool new Dutch coinA cool new Dutch coinReally cool.

Ted Dziuba reports Valleywag dies, takes Internet celebrity with it.  "Now, Valleywag is going to be relegated to a column on Gawker.com, where it's going to be abundantly obvious that nobody cares about a group of well-to-do twenty-somethings going on vacation to Cyprus.  This is actually Web 2.0 coming full circle.  In the beginning, nobody cared who you were, and in the end, nobody cares who you are."  The crocodile tears are flowing :)

the Sea OrchestraThe Sea Orchestra, an animated United Airlines commercial.  Beautiful!  I watched it several times running, to take it all in...

Tim Bray on discipline and his 2 1/2 year old daughter.  I love it.

 

 

 

 

I'm back!

Sunday,  11/16/08  08:57 AM

Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Visiting Brazil...
(that's Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro)


the big five-O
... and turning fifty!

Hi y'all...  well, I'm back.  Whew.  Back from a whirlwind trip to Brazil, culminating in a wonderful incredible party last night celebrating our 50th birthdays!

So here's what's going to happen, you get a peek behind the curtain.  When I blog, I use a WYSIWYG tool called Citydesk.  I create pages, and then sync them to my server.  When you access pages, there is a little additional logic that happens dynamically on the server which adds all the trim - the header up at the top, the navigation bar at the right, etc.  Sometimes when I'm traveling I create pages but can't sync them right away, so stuff appears kind of out of order.  And so it will be now, because I have a weeks' worth of stuff queued up!  Posts about the world, which didn't hit pause just because I was out, and posts about the blogosphere, which never stops, and posts about my experiences in Brazil.

So.

Please stay tuned, and watch this space for updates :)

And so now we're up to date, whew, no more queued posts.

Friday was spent in Salvador, and that night I flew back, arriving yesterday morning (five hours to São Paulo, ten to Dallas, and three back to L.A.); fortunately I managed to sleep (!), and in between I picked up email, read blog posts, and delighted in my Kindle.  Upon arriving I managed to squeeze in a little ride - my first in a week! - and then it was on to preparing for the great 50th birthday party, as we celebrated our "Midway point" with approximately 50 of our best friends.

We now resume our regularly scheduled blogging...

 

 

Sunday,  11/16/08  11:10 PM

Well I really am back - spent the day catching up, on email, on RSS feeds, on status reports, on pretty much everything.  And I'm not caught up entirely yet.  My life takes a lot of work just keeping up with all the inputs :)

One thing, I happened upon my BOO! post of 10/31, in which I summarized a wild and unpredictable October.  I cannot believe that was only two weeks ago!  I guess it was the week in Brazil because even the week before that seems like months ago.  Weird how time passes so slowly when you're in the moment, and so fast in retrospect.

L.A. wildfire destroys homesThe fires around here are terrible: Los Angeles ringed by wildfires.  The scenes of homes burning just tear at your heart, don't they?  Thinking about all that is being lost...  just horrible.

An old post from John Robb that bears rereading: Very interesting times.  "Ben Bernake: 'We have lost control.  We cannot stabilize the dollar.  We cannot control commodity prices.'"  This was posted on 9/18, just before I became aware that something was happening, but quite a bit before the magnitude was apparent.  Huh.

Michael Yon, from Baghdad: "The war is over and we won".  Great news, although a bit, er, under-reported.

Drudge reports Senate will take up $25B auto bill Monday.  Boy, I sure hope they don't do it, the automakers are in trouble because they don't make cars people want, the unions are out of control, and their retirement plans are draining all the cash out of them.  It has nothing to do with this economy.  If they go bankrupt, so be it; that's how the market is supposed to work.  Bailing them out would be wrong.

Can this be right?  Obama considering Hillary for Secretary of State.  No way.  Right?

Well, well...  Obama meets with Hillary.  Maybe they were just catching up on old times.  Yeah, right.

America's Cup challengers meeting in GenevaI love this [Photoshopped] picture from Sailing Anarchy: The Uninvited.  Referring of course to the meeting of America's Cup challengers held in Geneva, which did not include BMW Oracle, the renegades of the group who have created the Trizilla trimaran and are threatening to race it in the next contest, alleging that "anything goes" in the boats' design.

Trizilla flying along in San DiegoAnd speaking of which, here's a great shot of Trizilla sailing in San Diego, flying along in just 12 knots.  Wow is that thing powerful.

CNet reports T. Boone Pickens may stall wind farm plans.  If they aren't economically feasible because of a down economy, then they aren't worth doing in any economy.  Wind power is like solar power, it can only be deployed with government subsidies, because it is fundamentally more expensive than other sources of electricity.

2D barcode on iPhone as boarding passAmerican airlines are experimenting with 2D barcodes on cellphones as boarding passes.  How cool is that?

I guess this was predictable: Engineering suddenly sexy for college grads.  As opposed to, say, financial services?

Here we have failing hard drive sounds.  [ via Daring Fireball, who comments "some of the most terrifying noises known to man" ]  More proof, if any were needed, that you can find anything at all on the Internet.  Anything.

 

 

 

Monday,  11/17/08  09:43 PM

Really back today, from Brazil, it already seems a bit of a dream...  and I'm back to reality, with commitments and deadlines, and a long todo list, all against a backdrop of steady gloom and doom from the economy.  I didn't even ride today, was too tired and too cold, ended up having a nice dinner with some colleagues though, in which we sampled the inimitable Stag's Leap "Artemis".  Perfect for washing down great fish and bad news.

Powerline analyzes the 2008 Presidential election and concludes It's all Relative.  "This year's presidential election came down to two questions: first, do we want major change and second, which candidate will provide it. Both questions proved fairly easy for the electorate to answer in the end: it wanted significant change and believed that Obama, not McCain, would provide it."  That seems exactly right to me.

Chris Cillizza in WaPo: Five myths about an election of mythic proportions [ via Althouse ]

  1. The Republican Party suffered a death blow.
  2. A wave of black voters and young people was the key to Obama's victory.
  3. Now that they control the White House and Congress, Democrats will usher in a new progressive era.
  4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year.
  5. McCain made a huge mistake in picking Sarah Palin.

I agree with his list.  #4 seems especially true.

Navy wind farmEco-geek tells us Navy-Funded Wave Farm Under Way in Hawaii.  "Ocean Power Technologies and the Navy have joined together to create a small wave farm off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. The company has installed one of its PowerBuoy units one mile off the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corp Base, with plans to install others in the near future to generate 1MW."  Excellent!  Although don't in any way confuse this with a viable alternative to fossil fuels.  That list has one entry: nuclear power.

You may have read that President-elect Obama is going to appoint a CTO for the country.  Robert X. Cringley volunteers for the job.  "The U.S. CTO would have to be a dynamic leader capable of speaking his or her mind and holding his or her own against a tide of critics and special interests. Hey, that's what I do every week (sometimes twice)! Maintaining and defending technology opinions is my only business and some people think I do it too well, which I take as a compliment." :)

the Rocker movieHas anyone seen The Rocker?  It looks pretty good... never heard of it though.  Apparently it features an iMac prominently, as a kid uploads video of her uncle the rock drummer, and it goes viral.

Volvo C30 T5Whenever you read about car companies lately, you read how they don't make good cars anymore.  Well, unless it is about Toyota.  So here's a nice review of the Volvo C30 T5 on TTAC (not noted for being kind :).  "The Volvo C30 T5 is all the car you need. The more I drove it, the more I was struck by the feeling that this is exactly what a car should be. And nothing more. To recap: it’s good looking with a great interior, has more than enough power and handles with class-leading aplomb.

I'll add parenthetically we have a 1998 Volvo station wagon with that same T5 engine; weirdly, it is a turbocharged sideways-mounted front-wheel-drive 5-cylinder engine.  It's powerful, thrifty, and lasts :)

supersonic business jetThis is excellent: Popular Mechanics says Supersonics Return: Engineers to Push Business Jets Beyond the Sound Barrier.  "Civilian aircraft designers have been trying to get back into the supersonic business ever since the 2003 forced retirement of the Concorde, but they have been hampered by the Federal Aviation Administration and international regulations that prohibit sonic booms over inhabited areas. Now, in a bid to bring Mach-busting jets to wealthy travelers, aircraft vendors including Gulfstream and Lockheed Martin are designing airplanes with features such as retractable nose spikes that may reduce these bone-rattling noises."  Can't wait to fly in one, it is when not if...  [ via Instapundit ]

Finally, did you know?  Unhappy people watch TV, happy people read and socializeAnd blog!!

 

 

maresia

Tuesday,  11/18/08  08:29 PM

at the beach...Each culture has unique words that describe concepts important in the culture, and so it is with Brazil; and upon landing in Rio de Janeiro I was vividly introduced to maresia.  This word, loosely translated as "sea air", or "smell of the sea", refers to that warm relaxed comfortable feeling you get when you're at the seashore.  It is partly the physical; the sand, the warmth, the humidity, indeed the smell of the sea, but also includes the mental; the feeling of relaxation and lessening of tension.  Picture yourself at the beach on a summer's day, with nothing to do but read a book and drink some beer.  That's maresia.  (Just typing these words brings a smile ;)

 

 

instructions

Tuesday,  11/18/08  08:41 PM

instructions for DummiesHow many times have you flown, in your life?  And how many times have you heard the flight crew explain the safety instructions, the oxygen mask and the life jackets and the flotation cushions and all the rest?  If there were really an emergency, would you know what to do?  Yeah, me neither.  We don't really pay attention to instructions until we need them. 

A key problem in all user interfaces... 

This is why affordability is so crucial.  People have to be able to figure out what things are for and how they work "on the fly".  I'm guessing I would be able to use an oxygen mask, or inflate a life jacket, or use a flotation cushion without instructions, because of their inherent affordability. 

Would my customers be able to use my software without instructions?  I'm guessing yes :)

 

 

Tuesday,  11/18/08  11:43 PM

Whew, today was a  l o n g  day; I spent the day working in Vista, meetings and discussions from dawn to dark, and didn't escape for a ride until 9:30 (!); I just got back.  Glad I got it in though, I was in a first class funk, and rode it off somewhat.  Still there may be an edge left, sorry in advance :)

putting the air back inThe Economist on Putting the Air Back In.  A great explanation of the current financial crisis and the options available to governments to address it...

the money holeThe Onion wonders: Should the government stop dumping all our money in a giant hole?  Classic.

Apropos: Obama's Car Puzzle.  "Even as GM teeters toward bankruptcy and wheedles for billions in public aid, its forthcoming plug-in hybrid continues to absorb a big chunk of the company's product development budget. This is a car that, by GM's own admission, won't make money. It's a car that can't possibly provide a buyer with value commensurate with the resources and labor needed to build it. It's a car that will be unsalable without multiple handouts from government."  Are you getting this?  GM is spending all it's money building a car that won't make money, while asking you and I to pay for their ridiculous union worker's wages and retirement plans.  No thanks.

So Malcom Gladwell has a new book out, Outliers.  The early reviews are a bit, well, negative; consider this one in the NYTimes:  "Much of what Mr. Gladwell has to say about superstars is little more than common sense: that talent alone is not enough to ensure success, that opportunity, hard work, timing and luck play important roles as well. The problem is that he then tries to extrapolate these observations into broader hypotheses about success."  Joel Spolsky does not like anecdotes as proof of anything, although he himself engages in the same thing :)

I think this book suffers from something different; some of Gladwell's observations are more fundamental than others; Tipping Point, for example, was more insightful than Blink.  This seems more derivative than either...

Fomalhaut BWow, real pictures of exo-planets; the first is FomalHaut B.  Sounds like the name of a "B" movie :)  These planets are all really big, Jupiter-like gaseous giants, but at some point I'm sure we'll find another Earth...  how cool will that be?

Sailing Anarchy has an innerview with Dennis Connor!  (Entitled "hell freezes over" :)  A lot of DC's observations are pretty dead on, IMHO:  "In just a few years we went from all-amateur teams at the very top echelon of the sport, to teams of paid professionals earning something comparable to what they might be making at home as a plumber or carpenter or painter or whatever."  I've seen this myself; when I was a kid, all sailors were amateurs, even the best, now, at nearly every level they're pro.  Check it out.

the Winding RoadYay, Winding Road is available as a downloadable PDF again.  We win!  (In case you don't know, this online 'zine was formerly a PDF, then turned into this weird must-be-online-to-view thing.  Through it all the content remained excellent, but I missed the simple download and view model, and now it's back...)

I continue to love my Kindle; Slashdot looks at the economics of the Kindle...  This is all very interesting, but nobody buys a Kindle to save money on books, any more than they buy an iPod to save money on music.  The key in both cases is the ability to easily carry way more content around with you.  It is fundamentally better.  That it also costs less is a bonus :)

 

 

Wednesday,  11/19/08  10:48 PM

Another long day...  but better than yesterday.  Progress is being made on a few fronts, not least my todo list, which is still scary, but at least the first derivative of the length is negative :)  No ride today; I walked outside at 5:00 all ready to go, only to find a freezing fog.  Yuk.  I wimped out and went to dinner instead.

nuclear energyForeign Policy has Five physics lessons for Obama...  These are all good, I especially like the one about nuclear energy, let's hope that becomes reality.

Mitt Romney thinks we should Let Detroit go bankrupt.  Me, too.

Tim O'Reilly: Daddy, where's your phone?  "The tipping point has come; that notion has to flip: if we're trying to get ahead of the curve, we need to think first about the phone, and then think about the PC browser experience as the add-on."  Huh.  I've experienced exactly what he describes - the incredible convenience of having Google and Wikipedia in your pocket at all times - but I'm not sure about his conclusion.  The user experience of a "real" computer is still too much better.  It might not always be so, but it is today...

Fregata magnificensFregata magnificens from Panda's Thumb...

the infinity bookcaseHere we have the Infinity Bookcase.  It's excellent, but perhaps a bit impractical; not all the books are easily accessible, and it does take up a bit of space...

Jerry Yang is stepping down at Yahoo.  So be it...  the next leader of Yahoo will definitely have her work cut out for her...

That's it then: Steve Ballmer says Yahoo acquisition won't happen.  Well...  if they were interesting to buy at $20/share, wouldn't they be more interesting at $10/share?  I'm not sure this isn't a plot to sink the stock lower, then buy them anyway...

Floyd Landis joins Ouch cycling for 2009Ouch in re: Floyd Landis; The bionic man joins OUCH cycling for 2009.  Excellent, we will be following his return - and recovery - with great interest...

The 2010 Tour de France is departing from Rotterdam!  How great is that?  You can already predict one billion people will be there, it will be amazing.  (I wonder if Floyd Landis will be in the peloton?)

Excellent: Virtually gone, giant clams make comeback.

Google voice searchGoogle voice search [for the iPhone] hits a home run.  Sounds massively cool.  The number of reasons to get an iPhone keep increasing.  Maybe with voice you don't need a real keyboard?

Chris Anderson considers the miraculous power of scale.  "The Internet, by giving everybody access to a market of hundreds of millions of people, can work at participation rates that would be a disaster in the traditional world of non-zero marginal costs. YouTube works with just 0.1% of users uploading their own videos. Spammers can make a fortune with response rates of 0.00001%. "  It is a bit disorienting; there is just no way to picture the numbers of users out there.  Probably all reading this right now, too :)

Hard to believe, and yet, not: PC Magazine ceases publication.  I can remember when it was like a 'phone book, with 500+ pages, but I guess the days when people care about their PC in that way are gone.  It is now just a tool.  In fact for many people "computer" is synonymous with "internet", or even "Google".  They're going to try continuing on as a website; good luck with that... 

 

 

"Reflections" (New Yorker 11/17/08)

Thursday,  11/20/08  09:04 PM

 

New Yorker 11/17/08 cover - "reflections"

"reflections"

The New Yorker celebrates :)  Well done.

 

 

black is the new black (New Yorker, 11/18/08)

Thursday,  11/20/08  09:12 PM

 

"black is the new black"

Nice.
I must admit, the New Yorker staff are better winners than losers.
The 11/17 issue was their post-election celebratory effort, and although there was a little gloating, mostly there was good analysis and some sober contemplation of the road ahead.  Now that they won, perhaps they can go back to non-partisan analysis instead of being such incredible shills.  We'll see...

 

 

Brazilian food innovation

Thursday,  11/20/08  09:18 PM

The other day in my travelogue from Brazil with more from Rio I mentioned a little hole-in-the-wall where I ate lunch, which featured an interesting innovation, apparently common throughout Brazil; a buffet where you pay by the pound.  It was a nice system, you pay only for what you eat, and you can have a lot or a little depending on how hungry you are (and how good the food looks :)  Brazil has a lot of people, a lot of poor people, a lot of people who don't have enough to eat every day, and in consequence serving you only what you want to eat is an important meme.  Even the wealthy do not waste food.

One night we had dinner in a fantastic Churrascaria, a Brazilian steak house, where the staff brought a continuous stream of joists of meat right to our table. 

Churrascaria in São Paulo

You choose which ones look good, and they slice off a piece for you.  I say continuous but actually there was a simple pacing mechanism, a little round card which was green (Sim = yes) on one side, and red (Não = no) on the other:

Churrascaria - Sim / Não

Put the card green side up, and meat comes to your table, red side up, it stops.  This seems like a great system.  First, you get to see exactly what you're going to eat, and it is served hot, right from the barbeque.  Second, you only eat what you want, no food is wasted. And third, you can eat at your own pace.  All the accompaniments to the meat are available at a buffet - salad, grains, vegetables, etc...  again, you take only what you want.

I have to smile as I recall this São Paulo restaurant was named "Texas de Brazil"; just as we think of Brazilian or Argentine meat as being really good (and it is), they think of Texas.  The grass is always greener...

The emphasis on eating only what you want is important, I think we could use this in the U.S.  There are restaurants I frequent - you do too, I'm sure, (the Claim Jumper chain comes to mind) - where you get a huge serving, more than anyone could possibly eat, which you have to pay for, and the remainder of which after you eat is subsequently thrown out.  Not only is it wasteful and expensive, but you are encouraged to eat too much :)

 

 

Thursday,  11/20/08  09:36 PM

I need an attitude adjustment...  spent the whole day "behind" (after being up late last night, and sleeping in), and never caught up.  I have more to do than I could possibly do in a day, nothing different about that, but it is the negative delta that makes me feel behind.  Some days you have more to do at the end than the start, blech.  Even worse I felt so behind that I didn't ride, which of course took away something which makes me feel good and added guilt :(  Maybe blogging will make me feel better?  We'll see...

the Drudge ReportJason Fried explains why the Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web.  Despite being really ugly.  I have to agree, actually.  I don't visit the Drudge site often - I use the RSS feed - but the one-page site is definitely iconic.

Philip Greenspun has an economic recovery plan for the United States.  It's pretty comprehensive and defies synopsis; please click through and check it out.  I don't agree with Philip on everything, but he makes sense.

Topspin CEO Ian Rodgers on the death of the music CD business: "I don't care".  Nobody does, least of all artists or fans.  The music business is thriving, but it has changed dramatically, too.

Oblong demoThis looks Amazing: the Oblong demo, courtesy of Brad Feld, an investor.  The interface is very Minority Report -like.  Whether it could be used for useful programs remains an open question; it sure would be great for games...  Slashdot has more.

The other day I noted Google's new voice search for the iPhone... well it turns out apparently it uses private iPhone APIs to interface to the proximity sensor.  How interesting... now we have to ask, did Apple provide the info to Google?  If Google reverse engineered the APIs, did Apple know?  They've apparently allowed an application which violates their terms-of-service to be in the App Store, did they do this deliberately?

the Pygmy TarsierThe cutest thing you'll see today (or possibly any other day): the furby-like Indonesian Pygmy Tarsier, thought to be extinct but now found!  How great is that?

Very cool: Adobe releases a C++ compiler for the Flash runtime.  This could potentially be really helpful for me / Aperio...  a way to port server subroutines into a cross-platform client.  Performance could be an issue, but still.

Bertalan Meskó on the Evolution of Writing.  I agree that blogging is an evolutionary step from writing, but not so with Tweeting...  that seems like an evolutionary step from texting.  I still don't get Twitter, even after Bertalan's explanation.

Related: Robert Scoble left a message on FriendFeed: "I invested a lot of time this year in FriendFeed and Twitter instead of my blog. Was that the right decision?"  Bertalan thinks it was, but I don't, at least not if Robert's goal is to reach as many people as possible with his ideas.  Twitter and FriendFeed are echo chambers consisting of people you already know, while a blog is read by many more people many of whom you don't know.

Do I know you?  See :)

 

 

Friday,  11/21/08  05:32 PM

Today was better...  much better.  Got a lot done, and took a ride mid-day; Rockstore, did it in 1:46 too, my best for quite a while.

And tonight... we're going to the always-fabulous Christmas Tree Lighting at the Promenade Shopping Center here in Westlake Village.  We'll have carol singing by school kids, speeches by local politicians, a corny skit featuring Santa Claus, and finally the giant 60' tree will be lit, followed by a respectable fireworks display.  We've seen it all before and we'll enjoy it anyway :)

Powerline: How Obama got Elected.  No surprise to me, but a Zogby poll apparently showed that most people who voted for Obama had no idea of his policies or experience, and no idea of McCain's either.  And 57 percent thought the Republicans still control Congress.  I think those people's votes shouldn't have counted, but what do I know...

Coleman vote?Speaking of votes which shouldn't have counted, the recount presently going on in Minnesota for the Senatorial contest between Norm Coleman and Al Franklin is really something; for example, Franklin has challenged the vote shown at right.  Currently Coleman leads by 136 votes.  File this as "yes, your vote does count".

Seems like so far Obama's choices for his cabinet are pretty good:

Obama has apparently selected Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.  I must say he could do worse.  And I'm glad she chose to accept.

Another good choice: Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to lead the department of Homeland Security.

And another most crucial choice, NY Federal Reserve President Tim Geithner for Treasury Secretary.  A good sign: when this rumor began today, the market rallied.

Oh, and meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson asks What Went Wrong?  I don't think this election was about the failure of conservatism, it was about change.  The pendulum will swing back.

Shai Agassi of Better PlaceRemember Better Place?  Well according to CNet they're coming to Silicon Valley...  with a $1B electric car network.  How excellent... and a perfect place to gain a foothold, too.  They're swimming against the economic tide right now, of course, but let's hope they make it.  ArsTechnica has more.

woolly mammothRemember the premise behind Jurassic Park?  In the book / movie scientists cloned dinosaurs from DNA found in ancient mosquitoes trapped in amber.  So apparently that wasn't so farfetched, because apparently scientists believe they can resurrect a woolly mammoth from hair found in frozen fossils.  (And it will only cost $10M!)  Wow, how cool is that?

Hey guess what?  You know my famous W=UH formula, in which Ugliness correlates to Wrongness?  Well now mathematicians have proven that beauty is truth in mathematical intuition.  So be it.  I knew it was right, it was too beautiful to be wrong :)

bear diving into the arctic seaPhoto of the day: this bear diving into the arctic sea.  Excellent!

anarctic iceberg tunnelGoes well with this photo montage in the Boston Globe: Scenes from Antarctica.  Just stunning, amazing and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

180

Saturday,  11/22/08  10:59 AM

180!180...  as in, 180lbs.  That's my weight *now*, plus or minus, and it's stable.  Furthermore, for the first time in many years - certainly longer than I can remember - I don't want to lose any more weight.  If I stay here, I'm good.

I'm not writing this to gloat, because believe it or not, this isn't such a good thing.  Most of us are worried about our weight, most of the time.  (If you're not, you're definitely male, and probably under 40, and most likely under 30 :)  I've always had this feeling that if I lost weight, my life would improve.  The way in which my life would improve was hazy, but the fact that it would improve was definite*.  I don't know if this is cultural or innate, but it was real.  Now that I'm 180 and don't want to lose any more weight, this is it; my life is not going to improve.  Well, at least not on account of losing weight... this is all really shallow, I know... what can I say.  But it's not such a good thing to lose the hope :)

* Update: I have the answer.  The way in which your life will improve: you will like yourself more.  And hence, through Ole's Theory of Happiness (def: happiness comes from liking yourself), if you lose weight you will be happier.

If you're a longtime reader, you might recall my New Year's Resolution at the end of 2004; at that time I was steady at 205 and not happy about it.  Despite making that resolution nothing changed, and at the end of 2006, two years later, I still weighed exactly 205.  But something happened after that, I started cycling more and eating less, especially snacking late at night less, and by May 2007 I was down to about 190**.  (That's when I [temporarily] resumed blogging.)  All through 2007 I hovered around 190, and on January 1, 2008 I was still 190, having successfully navigated the holidays.  Which was good, but I still wanted to lose more weight, I was still gripped by the "my life will be better if I lose weight" meme.  This year I've ridden more than ever - way more - and mostly as a result, I've lost more weight.  For most of the year I was at 185, which was great, but still I wanted to lose more, and still I felt like if I did my life would improve.  Then in mid-September I got really sick, lost about 10 pounds, only regained 5 of them, and now poof! I'm 180.  (So that's it, my weight loss tip of the day; get really sick.  It is unpleasant, but it works :)

** Update: I remember part of the something that happened.  During the winter of 2006-07 my friend and riding partner Peter Simons lost significant weight through eating better and riding more, and began periodically kicking my ass on local climbs.  I realized the only way to stay with him was to reduce the size of my ass, and this gave me incentive to lose some weight.  With each pound I lost I climbed faster, and the effect on my riding gave me feedback to keep losing weight.  You have to get the snowball rolling...

So that's it - I've caught the rabbit, now what?  I can take pleasure in the accomplishment (I do) and in looking better (I do) and in having to have clothes altered to fit (I did).  And I can enjoy blogging about it!

 

 

Five-O update: T minus 10

Sunday,  11/23/08  10:10 AM

Five-OQuick update on turning Five-O: It's not going too well.  I have ten days to go, and introspection and fear are the order of my days.  Shirley said it was worse before she turned 50, and afterward it was no big deal.  I hope that's true.

It's really unfortunate that this is such a time of change for the world, it exacerbates the feeling that it is a time of change for me.  Ever since my Midway experience, I've thought of turning 50 as an inflection point.  Naturally I'd like to think it will be upward, but all the external evidence suggests otherwise.  Fifty is just a number, so clearly any effect turning fifty would have is pschological, but it is definitely having an effect.

If you have not turned fifty, I recommend you put it off as long as possible :)

 

 

Sunday,  11/23/08  10:23 AM

Sunday morning, and it's all happening...  (including an invasion of 11-year-olds here, as my daughter Megan hosts a surprise Birthday party for a friend; I plan to escape on my bike :)

Eric Raymond celebrates Victory in Iraq day.  (Really, it was yesterday)  "The good guys - Western Civilization, the Coalition of the Willing, the United States, and the people of Iraq - won this war. The bad guys - Saddam Hussein’s regime, al-Qaeda’s jihadis, all their allies and enablers - lost it. The entire world will be a better place because of this victory. And that is a proper thing to celebrate."  Indeed.

Google SearchWikiGoogle has added a new feature called SearchWiki to their search results; it allows you to vote up results, or delete them.  This customizes your results, for you; whether the input is incorporated into everyone's results isn't clear.  Michael Arrington doesn't like this feature, but I guess you can always ignore it and no harm done [Update: and Robert Scoble likes it].  To me it adds clutter without adding value.  I wouldn't be surprised if they conclude it doesn't help, and get rid of it...  this is the classic "me me look at me" new feature symptom; they should have made this a non-default option, but they didn't.

A look out the window: Dayton OhioCNN with a beautiful feature: a look out windows all across the United States.  I didn't look at all of them, but the one at right caught my eye, from Dayton, Ohio.  I have friends who are spending Thanksgiving with their families back in Ohio, the weather there sure is different to the weather here...  I'm planning a ride later and don't know whether I'll even need long sleeves.  One thing that's the same; my cat Reggie is looking out my window right now :)

Space Shuttle Endeavor as seen from the ISSSpace Shuttle Endeavor approaches the International Space Station with its cargo bay open, wow, what an amazing picture.  In fact the whole sequence of pictures is amazing, please click through and check 'em out!  (Is it just me, or has the press increasingly ignored our adventures in space?  Perhaps people feel there are more important things going on in the world, but this stuff is still "wow" to me...)

UT Austin high-resolution displayUT Austin creates the world's largest video display, 75 displays in an array comprising 307M pixels.  Very cool, it will be perfect for viewing digital slides :)

From eFluxMedia: Research: Exercise May Diminish Cancer Risk.  "Regular exercise can help sufferers in the fight against cancer, according to new research.  Researchers believe that exercise equivalent to a 30-minute walk five times a week can help prevent cancer, slow the disease’s progress, enhance recovery and prevent its recurrence."  This doesn't seems like a breakthrough revelation - exercise is good for all of us, anyway - but it is another reason to take a break from watching football and go for a bike ride :)

what is crazy? - kayaking down a dam spillway...The Horse's Mouth asks (and answers) the question: What is Crazy?  (Here we have two guys kayaking down a dam spillway; click for a larger pic and more of them...)

Bond... James BondHalley Suitt links the definitive Bond... James Bond video sequence...  for me Sean Connery will always be the James Bond.  I haven't seen Quantom of Solace - I plan to, of course - but good as Daniel Craig might be, he'll still be a stand-in for the original.  One key difference, Craig's 007 never seems to be smiling, while Connery's always did...  a sign of the times?

Finally - and this is cute - Obama daughters bond with Bush girls...  apparently the key learning was how to bounce on the White House beds.  I love it.

 

 

the food issue

Monday,  11/24/08  06:01 PM

New Yorker Nov 24, 2008Yesterday and today, while shaving, I read the latest issue of the New Yorker and I am so glad the election is over!  Finally, no more Bush-bashing, and no more Obama-touting, and we are back to their normally scheduled interesting articles.  This week's was "the food issue", as you might expect with Thanksgiving coming up, and there were great articles on (among many other things) Who makes the best BBQ in Texas? (apparently it's not who you think), The Rise of Extreme Beer (who knew?), and Among the Knifemakers (a great introduction to the art of knives, especially chef's knives).

I promise this blog won't become a New Yorker review site - well, I guess it is already :) - but I must tell you this is a great trend.  Yay.

 

 

software development, explained (New Yorker, 11/24/08)

Monday,  11/24/08  06:15 PM

 

software development explained :)

... software development, explained :)

 

 

more Trizilla

Monday,  11/24/08  06:28 PM

I just never get tired of looking at pictures of "Trizilla", the BMW Oracle racing Trimaran which may compete in the next America's Cup (depending on how the lawsuits sort themselves out, and hence the rules which will be used for the design of the boats).  Whether it ever races anything or not, it is a wonderful creation.  I really really really want to ride on it, a mini-life-goal :)


flying a hull
(click to enbiggen)


the helmsman is thirty feet off the water
(click to enbiggen)


coming at you - wide load
(click to enbiggen)


you can almost hear the rush of the water...
(click to enbiggen)

 

 

Monday,  11/24/08  07:14 PM

This morning I had my annual physical, and you will be happy to hear I am disgustingly fit.  Yay.  Yet another benefit of being at 180 :)  Later in the day I had a nice ride (although man, it is cold out here; 55o is not California riding weather; with rain predicted for the remainder of this week we'll have actual winter weather at Thanksgiving).  Oh, and I had my teeth cleaned.  In between I did a little coding and a lot of emailing.  So passes another day.

And meanwhile, the blogosphere continues to discuss, well, everything...

Eric SchmidtJohn Battelle linked an interesting speech by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, on 2009.  His take is more optimistic than most, and also more informed; besides his day job he is one of Barack Obama's economic advisors.  By all means check it out.

BTW, When Eric talks he seems really smart.  Like Steve Jobs.  (And unlike Bill Gates; I still maintain Gates is overrated as a really smart guy.)

The Economist wonders: Can Barack Obama and Tom Daschle fix American health care?  "Tom Daschle, former senator for South Dakota, is to get the job of secretary for health and human services.  This looks like a pretty shrewd pick, and the fact that it is the first cabinet job to be sort-of-announced is an indication that Barack Obama is in deadly earnest about one of his main campaign promises: comprehensive health-care reform.  It would be hard to find anyone better placed than Mr Daschle to get the job done, if anyone can."  Good luck!  It will be doubly hard with the present economy...

So, should Barack Obama go to church?  Of all the things he's dealing with, this seems among the least important.  It would be good to have a President who isn't religious, or at least, who doesn't appear to make decisions based on his religion.

Anatomy of a meltdown: John Cassidy on Ben Bernanke and the financial crisis.  A really interesting article about Ben and the current situation, and how it all came to pass.

According to Boing Boing, Nasim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan (which I'm reading right now), feels this economy could be worse than the Great Depression.  Oh great.

SpaceX tests the Falcon 9SpaceX successfully tested their 9-engine cluster, the Falcon 9.  Yay.  Kimbal Musk, Elon's brother, posted a video of the test firing...

sliding rock on Racetrack PlayaOne of my favorite mysteries: The Sliding Rocks of Racetrack Playa.  They aren't moved by people, so how does it happen?  Some of these rocks weight hundreds of pounds.  My vote is ... a combination of moisture and cold that lubricates the playa, and wind.  But who knows?

Robert Scoble: Obsessing about new news.  A nice overview of all the different mechanisms now available for receiving input... Twitter, FriendFeed, etc.  I still favor RSS, but I can remember when I thought RSS was weird and useless, so I may yet find the light.  Stay tuned :)

I find it interesting that so many bloggers are trying to find business models for Twitter: Dave Winer, Tim O'Reilly, and Steve Gilmor all weigh in.  There seems to be a there there, but what it is remains elusive...

Floyd Landis joins OUCHThe other day I reported that Floyd Landis will be riding again this year, with the OUCH team...  but apparently he is not done in court, and "has challenged the ruling of the international Court of Arbitration for Sport that stripped him of the 2006 Tour de France title in U.S. Federal court, charging that the system for resolving doping cases is inherently biased against the accused."  So in addition to overcoming his hip replacement and two years off from competition, he'll also continue fighting the cycling establishment.  Go Floyd!

John Patrick on the demise of PC Magazine: Vertical.  "The first issue of PC Magazine back in the summer of 1981 was a thrill to read and it was sad news this week that Ziff Davis Media has decided to cease publishing the magazine...  The more significant aspect of PC Magazine has been the early and innovative focus on 'vertical'."  Yeah, and it is increasingly difficult for "vertical" to survive in print.  Seems like the web is the future of vertical...

wild turkey!Apropos the week: Panda's Thumb: Meleagris gallopavo.  Yes, that would be... a wild turkey.  Wonderful.  (Especially with a nice Pinot Noir :)

One of the happy things about thanksgiving...  is getting stuffed...

leaves stuck in fresh tarmacSo today I was riding along, and there's one area right alongside Westlake (the lake itself) where there's a metric ton of leaves fallen onto the road, and you're basically riding through a cloud of yellow leaves; it was beautiful.  And one leaf floated up and stuck to my seat post, pinned by the 20mph breeze created by my forward motion.  And it was so cool; that leaf stayed there for about ten minutes before a side gust blew it away, I was sad to see it go...  and I got home and saw this post by Cory Doctorow, with a picture of leaves stuck in fresh tarmac.  How beautiful.  All streets should have leaves embedded in them...  I love fall.  Yay.

 

 

 

Tuesday,  11/25/08  11:23 PM

Rain!  It never rains in California, but girl, don't they warn ya, it pours, man it pours...

... and presently, it is raining in more ways than one ...

glass half empty or half full?I used to like clicking my One Year Ago button a lot, but since I hardly did any blogging last year it hasn't been too interesting.  Two Years Ago same thing.  But Three Years Ago I was blogging, and I like my Happy Thanksgiving note from that time.  Worth rereading in this time:

overflow!My glass is actually overflowing.
Odd that I notice that so seldom.
Wow.

Powerline notes History makes way for Obama-worship at the NYTimes.  It is definitely true that "the paper of record" is rather forgetful and lazy when it comes to their own record.

Related: Poll shows most consider web most reliable source of news.  Ya think?  It definitely isn't the NYTimes anymore, if it ever was...

Ann Althouse ponders $7.7T.  That is a big number; "half the value of everything produced in the nation last year."  Wow.

ScienceDaily reports Global Warming Predictions Are Overestimated.  "A detailed analysis of black carbon -- the residue of burned organic matter -- in computer climate models suggests that those models may be overestimating global warming predictions... The findings are significant because soils are by far the world's largest source of carbon dioxide, producing 10 times more carbon dioxide each year than all the carbon dioxide emissions from human activities combined."  Huh.  Could Al Gore possibly be wrong?  [ thanks, Gary! ]

Better Place in CaliforniaInhabitat has more on the Better Place deal with Silicon Valley: California to become the electric vehicle capital of the US.  "Recently the cities of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland unveiled a massive concerted effort to become the electric vehicle capitol of the United States! This groundbreaking development heralds a nine-step plan that includes everything from buying fully electric vehicles for all government transportation to expediting the approval of charging outlets throughout the bay area, including those located on the street. The creation of this essential infrastructure marks a huge step towards the acceptance of electric vehicles as a viable alternative to those that run on fossil fuel."  There is much to do, but it will be way cool if it comes to pass...  I especially note the inclusion of Los Angeles and San Diego in the galactic plan.  The key to adoption will be economics; if they can make electric cars as cheap as gas, they have a chance...

Porsche PanamericaTTAC has pics of the new Porsche Panamerica, their first four-door.  Well, I don't think it is as ugly as some, but it's no threat to the Maserati Quattroporte, is it?  The whole 911 design just doesn't really lend itself to a bigger car...

Tesla, in orange...Autoblog gets ahold of a Tesla, and does a review...  great car, but I do not like it in orange.  That color should be illegal.

Great News: CNN reports Cancer Rates Fall.  "Rates of new cancer diagnoses and deaths for U.S. men and women have both fallen for the first time, according to a new report from leading cancer and medical research organizations.  The annual report, published online Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed the simultaneous drop in overall cancer incidence and mortality for the first time since reporting began in 1998, the study authors said."  Excellent...  I'm sure we'll hear more about this.

 

 

Wednesday,  11/26/08  10:03 PM

thanksgiving eve celebration!Greetings all, Happy Thanksgiving Eve!  (There such a thing, of course there is, and this is it :) 

I spent this morning attending Grandparents Day at Oaks Christian School, the middle/high school which Megan and Alexis attend, together with my Mom (!), and it was great.  Megan is in the Advanced Middle School band (flute), which gave a performance along with other art groups, and they were all terrific.  The key to kids' performances is to keep them crisp.  Five minutes is good, ten minutes, not so good.  The same with the speeches.  Overall Oaks' organization of this event was superb and a good time was had by all...

Later I hosted a conference call with Aperio's Technical Advisory Board, a group of longtime / expert customers who help us review our product development plans.  They're all smart opinionated people, motivated to help us, and it was a great discussion.  The challenge is always to take notes, so many ideas get thrown around, so fast...

And then later still, I didn't ride, and had a huge burrito for dinner while watching football (Monday night's 51-29 demolition of the Packers by the Saints).  Warming up for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I guess...  it was a fun game, and a great  burrito, but I am massively full.  Okay, I know, too much information.  Off we go...

rain! in Southern CaliforniaThis sucks: Thousands ordered to flee homes as storm hits Southern California.  Those fires are a double whammy, not only to they threaten homes while burning, but they burn up the brush that stabilizes the soil, so later when it rains we have mudslides.  And we now have record rain.  Yuk.

Barack Obama named Paul Volcker to head his Economic Recovery Advisory board, prompting Powerline to note: back to the future.  It does seem as if experience is called for, and Volcker received high marks from nearly everyone during his nine-year tenure as Fed Chairman (1979-1987).

Slate helpfully explains What it means for the Fed to start "printing money".  Volcker made his reputation as an inflation fighter, now he may have to create some inflation to stave off recession.

A rerun from John Robb as he explains Normal Debt Levels.  According to him, the Fed will have to print quite a bit of money to make up the deleveraging gap - about $30T.  I swear his posts make more sense to me now than they did two months ago; he did too know what he was talking about...

Eclipse ultralight jetSign of the times...  Philip Greenspun reports that Eclipse has declared bankruptcy.  They were the makers of ultra-light jets; I had high hopes of being able to buy one someday.  They never really made it, their jets never really worked (!), and the price never really made it low enough.  Personal jets are still a rich person's plaything, not yet a reality.  But you have to believe it is only a matter of time.

King KaufmanIf you're a longtime reader, you know I like Salon, and I like King Kaufman.  He's had a daily column about sports for as long as I can remember, but no more; as he reports this is the end of the daily.  So be it.  I will look forward to his weekly :)

Jeff Atwood wonders is Email = Efail?  I would have to say, no, most emphatically no.  The idea that you can replace a queued communication medium like Email with a realtime mechanism like Twitter or IM is ridiculous.  It is wishful thinking, predicated on the idea that it is okay to ignore things if you couldn't pay attention to them at the time.  (Might as well get rid of voicemail; if you can't talk to someone when they call, why listen to their message?)  The key problem is limiting input; if you have too many emails, you can't process them all.  I'm sympathetic, but the solution is intelligent filtering, not dumping your inbox entirely.  That's just giving up.

By the way, I meant to mention, I'm experimenting with a new Email technique which has a lot of promise.  The problem is spam on my phone.  Usually when I'm away from my desk, my laptop keeps running and keeps filtering my spam (thank you, SpamBayes).  My laptop syncs to Exchange, and so does my phone, and so spam is also filtered from my phone.  Furthermore my laptop picks up email from my personal accounts via POP (Gmail etc), and that gets synced to Exchange, and on to the phone.  So it all works.  However if I'm traveling with my laptop, none of it works.  Now I have major spam on my phone with nothing cleaning it out, and I don't get personal email.  It all doesn't work...

So here's the solution.  I have an old server at my house which runs Windows, and I installed Office 2003 and I'm now running Outlook on it, syncing to Exchange.  This instance of Outlook has SpamBayes installed, so it filters out the spam, and it retrieves email from my personal accounts via POP, so they get synced into my Exchange inbox.  It does all the work my laptop used to do.  My phone (and my laptop) just sync to the Exchange inbox, and it all works.  And because my server is always on, it all works all the time.  Stay tuned for more, but so far, so good...

Lotus EvoraWired reports Lotus Guns for Porsche with the Evora - moving up the food chain.  "Lotus believes the Evora will propel it into the big leagues. It is betting on the car to broaden its appeal beyond the hard-core enthusiasts who so love the Elise by offering the same razor-sharp handling in a car more suited to daily driving."  So be it.  I must say, it's cute :)

Aston Martin RapideTTAC notes the Aston Martin Rapide, their entry into the four-door sports sedan category.  The Quattroporte remains the best looking of the bunch, but this is a nice looking car, unlike the Panamerica...  interesting, these cars are all amazing...  I guess there are other people (besides me :) who want a real back seat in their sports car...

 

 

 

the white swan

Thursday,  11/27/08  02:35 PM

black and white swanWhen you're out in the ocean every once in a while you encounter a "rogue wave", a wave which is vastly larger than the average.  Such waves are caused by a random confluence of a number of difference factors, each unpredictable, and each coming together to create a freakishly large wave.  Nobody can predict such waves, they just happen, but if you're out at sea long enough, you'll encounter one.

An outlier like this is sometimes referred to as a "black swan", a term popularized by Nassim Taleb, in a book of the same name.  Nassim is writing about large-scale negative events which are unpredictable; just like rogue waves these are the result of a large number of different factors, each difficult to predict individually, and impossible to predict as a group.

Bob Beamon long jump at Mexico OlympicsSometimes such a rare event can be positive, maybe we could call that a white swan?  For example, it can happen in sports; on any given day a particular athlete might have the performance of her life.  Such deeds result from the confluence of many different factors, each hard to predict on their own and together as a group, impossible.  If the white swan performance just happens to come at the right time, it becomes legendary, as when Bob Beamon set the long job record at the 1968 Mexico Olympics - it stood for 23 years - or when Floyd Landis put seven minutes into the Tour de France peloton on stage 17 of the 2006 Tour. 

Of course, not every white swan occurs to a world-class athlete on the biggest stage.  It can happen to anyone at any time.  In fact, it could happen to me.  And today, it did. 

white swan flyingThere's a ride I like to do, from my house, down around Westlake, past Lake Sherwood, and through Hidden Valley.  It is a 25.3 mile loop with three sharp climbs and one gradual one, and in the past eight years I've done it dozens of times, maybe over a hundred.  I've gradually lowered my average time on this route to about 1:25, for an average speed of 18mph.  On any given day I might be a minute or two faster or slower, depending on how I feel, what I ate for breakfast, the wind, the heat, the road surface, traffic lights, etc.  There are a lot of factors, but they all sort of even out.  Except today, when they all came together.  Today I did the ride in 1:18, for an average speed of 19.5mph.  That's ridiculous.  It's... absurd.  It was a white swan.

From the moment I started out, the ride felt good.  It was a perfect day, crisp and clear, with yesterday's rain still pooled in pockets but the road mostly dry.  There was no wind at all, and no traffic; it's Thanksgiving and everyone was watching football :)  As I reached the first climb my split was great, well ahead of average, but not unusually great.  But then I just floated up the hill, using two more gears than usual.  I powered down the backside, looked at my computer, and realized I had a chance to do something special; I was three minutes ahead of my best split.  Whoa.  From that point on I really pushed myself, and steadily opened up time on my best splits.  I did get a bit tired on the last grade, but I pushed myself hard, knowing I had a white swan by the tail, and milking it.

Who can say why I felt so strong today?  Was it the burrito last night?  (doubtful)  Thanksgiving?  (possibly)  The music my DJ iPod chose for me?  (no doubt a factor)  The beautiful day?  The lack of wind, and traffic?  (likely)  Or all of the above?  I might never feel this strong on that ride again, but it sure was fun.  And you never know, tomorrow might just bring another white swan, and if not tomorrow, then the next day, or the next...

 

 

happy thanksgiving!

Thursday,  11/27/08  02:41 PM


Hey, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Peanuts' Happy Thanksgiving

Hope you are spending it as I am,
quietly and peacefully with those you love.

 

 

lighting the house

Friday,  11/28/08  07:31 PM

Today was amazing; just the most beautiful day you could imagine.  Crisp and clear, sun shining, with just a breath of cool breeze keeping the leaves moving.  Perfect for my annual brush with death: lighting the house!

lighting the house
... some objects are taller than they appear ...

lighting the house
... faithful to my shirt ...

Many of my neighbors put up lights (our neighborhood is well lit during December :), and many most of them hire people to do it, but for me there is a gentle satisfaction in doing it myself.  Particularly on a day as nice as this one; rain or wind or cold add to the difficulty, and at the end of November all three in combination are not unusual.  But today the forces of Murphy were forgiving.  (They did manifest themselves in one light string which worked perfectly in the garage, but not on the roof, but that's par for the course :)

lighting the house
... the end result ... priceless ...

With that safely done, I can retire to more football and more eating.  I hope your day-after-Thanksgiving went just as well :)

 

 

Five-O update: T minus 4

Saturday,  11/29/08  09:39 PM

Five-O!So, four days until I turn 50...  and I’m doing a bit better.  It doesn’t hurt that today I did a nice hard 45 mile ride to Fillmore and back, nor that it was another gorgeous day; bright and clear, crisp, slight breeze...  And it doesn’t hurt that I’m working on our Christmas Cards, and on Team Aperio mugs for 2008...  And it doesn’t hurt that I've got more football to watch and food to eat.

But what has really helped is realizing that I have so much for which to be thankful, and that turning 50 doesn’t change any of it.  Thanksgiving has given me permission to focus on the half full part of the glass, and to notice that it’s more than half full.

(However if you haven’t yet turned fifty I suggest you put it off as long as possible, and try not to schedule concurrent financial meltdowns :)

ScanScope CS systemI have a lot to be thankful for personally - my family and friends are the most important, of course, and my health - but this weekend I've been thinking a lot about my work.  I'm fortunate to live at a time when the intellectual effort of making machines and teaching them to do stuff is valued.  And I am especially fortunate that the particular machines we make and teach at Aperio are helping mankind in such important ways.  Imagine the awe with which Hooke or Leeuwenhoek or Galen would have regarded a ScanScope system!  I get up in the morning knowing that what we do that day matters.  Not only can we create business value with what we do, we can create value, period.  And that is something for which I am very thankful.

Excite headquarters circa 2001I’ve just begun re-reading Michael Lewis’ The New New Thing, about Jim Clark, Netscape, the Internet, and Silicon Valley.  It was written in 2000, and taps into the incredible sense of optimism and possibility that pervaded Silicon Valley at that time.  I was fortunate to live there then, working for Intuit and later PayPal, and the book evocatively brings back the mood.  I remember going to parties where every single person in attendance thought they were on the edge of becoming billionaires (myself included :).  To give you a flavor of that time, I used to go to the Excite datacenter (pictured at right; remember them? They were Google-before-Google) and they had a spiffy BMW parked in the foyer, one of which was given each month to someone who successfully referred a new employee.

NASDAQ composite index 1999-2008When the .com crash occurred in 2001 the deflation was palpable.  The world didn’t feel that as much as the world feels the current credit crunch, and it is possible this will end up being worse, but if you lived in SV then it felt much the same as this feels now.  The main thing for me was that sense of possibility was gone.  I no longer felt like I was on the edge of becoming a billionaire.  I know, I know, cue the violins, but it was depressing.

In October 2001 Excite declared bankruptcy (along with a myriad of other dot-coms), but the big news was that I joined Aperio.  At that time it was based in the founder's garage (!), had two employees, one semi-working prototype, one customer, and was in the process closing a Series A.  You could not have chosen a less propitious time at which to start a company, and probably anyone would have bet against us, but I was excited.  Not only did it appear to be a sound business opportunity, but the chance to do something important beckoned.  The sense of possibility had returned.

It wasn’t a straight line from that point to this one, there were a few bumps in the road.  There were days when I feared we would not succeed.  But this isn’t one of them; we are still a sound business opportunity – now validated – and we still have a chance to do something important – we are doing important things every day.

I’m going to try to keep this in mind in the days ahead … try to maintain a sense of perspective, and optimism.  This is important for me personally, so I can stay focused and have fun, but also for my team (and my colleagues :); we all set an example for those around us to follow.  But most of all, this is the best way for me to bypass all the mental crap that accompanies turning 50.

So, T minus 4 to the big Five-O, and I'm A-OK...  stay tuned...

 

 

Saturday,  11/29/08  09:51 PM

Hope you're having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend...  as the Ole filter makes a pass...

Victor Davis Hanson with some random reasons to feel optimistic.  Excellent stuff.  [ via Powerline ]

USC - Notre Dame drive chartBoy, did you see the 'SC game tonight?  What a demolition!  The final score of 38-3 doesn't tell the whole story, I've never seen a college game at this level which was so one-sided.  As great as they are, it is hard to explain how USC lost to Oregon State - yeah, they did, and so they're not going to play for the championship, boo - but what's harder to explain is how bad Notre Dame has become.  They recruit well (supposedly) and have great coaches (supposedly) and of course a great tradition, but they suck!

Since Oregon State defeated Oregon (65-38!), if USC beats UCLA next weekend, they go to the Rose Bowl and meet Penn State.  And if they win that game convincingly, they could be voted #1.  It's happened before, remember 2003?

Side note: it was great to see Marc Tyler in the game in the fourth quarter; he's Wendall Tyler's son, and was also Jimmy Clausen's teammate at Oaks Christian High (Alexis' and Megan's school).  Despite playing only one quarter Tyler rushed for more yards (58) than Clausen passed (41).

Blackberry StormDavid Pogue roasts the Storm; No Keyboard? And You Call This a BlackBerry?  "Maybe Storm isn’t such a bad name for this phone. After all - it’s dark, sodden and unpredictable."  Ouch.  I do have to agree, the lack of keyboard is a minus...  it is the iPhone's worst "feature", and there was no reason to copy it.

ISS size vs science fiction spaceshipsHere's some important work; the actual size of the International Space Station compared to various science fiction spaceships...  it is actually amazingly big.

Stephen Shankland explains Why I switched from Firefox to Chrome.  The quick answer: speed.  And I agree with him, except that Firefox has Adblock, and Chrome doesn't.  Loading all those ads slows the browser down, as well as adding visual cruft.  As soon as Chrome has a way to block ads, it will be game over.  (Stephen did mention the lack of plug-ins for Firefox, but he didn't mention Adblock; you can understand, since CNet is ad-supported...)

This is pretty cool: Scientists begin to decode whale-speak.  "Australian scientists studying humpback whales sounds say they have begun to decode the whale's mysterious communication system. They say they’ve already identified male 'pick-up lines' as well as motherly warnings."  Just wait, pretty soon we'll be talking to them...  now that would be cool...

Wizards of WinterSo, I'm pretty proud of the Christmas lights on our house, but thinking about putting them up reminds me of the best lighting display of all time, the magnificent Wizards of Winter from 2005.  The perfect song with the perfect light display, which leaves all us would-be house decorators in awe.  [ via Gerard Vanderleun, who commented "I guess next year all they can do to top it is to blow the whole house off the face of the Earth" - no word on whether they did :) ]  If you haven't seen it - or haven't seen it recently - then please click through.  I love it!

 

 

Sunday,  11/30/08  11:00 PM

Five-O T minus 3...  today was not a good day...  happens every four day weekend, I luxuriate in having all that "free" time, and then Sunday comes, and poof, it's all gone, and there is much I wish I had done which is still undone.  Well so be it.  It was a nice holiday, and I did enjoy three beautiful days.  This is going to be quite a week, and my turning Five-O will be the least of it.  Onward!

And meanwhile, it's all happening...

Keith RichardsYou may have seen this print ad featuring Keith Richards - happens to be for Louis Vuitton - what a fantastic picture!  What an amazing face.  What a story is told by that picture...  (click to enlarge!)  {Of course, what does Keith or that picture have to do with Louis Vuitton?  No idea.

Britain's blame flagThe Economist examines Britain's blame culture.  "An excess of blame - blind and unthinking as it often seems - can be as dangerous as a deficit of it.  Vitriolic blame can wreck morale in institutions such as hospitals (or, indeed, in social services).  It can inhibit decision-making and worthwhile risk-taking.  And it can be both intellectually lazy and delusional."  Bush haters, take note...

The First-time CEO's Recession Survival Guide by Glenn Kelman (CEO of Redfin).  Follows up his previous Flip Side of Entrepreneurship by Glenn Kelman, on Guy Kawasaki's blog.  Among others he makes the point that entrepreneurs are inherently conservative; he who has very little takes close care of it.  And that spirit is back :)

So we are in a recession, but CNN reports Holiday Sales up over Last Year.  "Stores and online merchants were busier this weekend than they were a year ago, according to figures out Sunday, but signs persist that holiday shopping will suffer in the weakest economic climate in decades."  How weird is that?  And note that CNN are rooting for things to get worse, there is no evidence at all in the article to support "signs persist".  They forgot Obama won already; no need to keep bashing Bush...

Tomorrow afternoon I'm flying to Chicago to attend the RSNA conference; interesting, it turns out that the RSNA attendee badges have RFID transmitters in them, used for tracking which booths you visit!  Whoa.  That seems like a hideous violation of privacy, particularly as it is undisclosed.  I have nothing to hide, but I do not want my whereabouts in the exhibit hall tracked...

Oh boy: half-foot of snow predicted for Chicago.  That will be really fun...

China vistaCheck out this amazing picture from China.  Wow.  (click to enbiggen)

Are we approaching Peak Population?  A great discussion.  I love this, and totally agree with it: "empowering women is the best climate change technology" (because it reduces birth rates and hence population).  [ via Cory Doctorow ]  This whole discussion is very reminiscent of Unnatural Selection; reducing birth rates in general also reduces the decline in average IQ...

Related: Barack Obama and the politics of Nuclear Waste.  "Despite all the inspiring talk about windmills & solar panels, it's difficult to see how Obama will reach his goal without relying on nuclear power. Commercial reactors currently provide 20% of the nation's power, but accounts for 70% of the country's emission-free energy."  I think Obama's a pragmatist; he's going to embrace nuclear power because it makes sense.

Also related: Eugenics cuts Down's Syndrome in Half in Denmark.  "A new national screening strategy in Denmark has halved the number of infants born with Down's syndrome and increased the number of infants diagnosed before birth by 30%, according to a study published on bmj.com today."  This really makes sense; too bad it is impractical to promote something like this in the U.S.; the religious fanatics would go crazy.

plumes from EnceladusInteresting news from Saturn: Supersonic plumes of water erupt from Saturn's moon raising hopes of micro life under surface. "When the Cassini spacecraft flew through a gigantic geyser of dust and gas close to the surface of Enceladus, it collected samples of ice and gas.  Astronomers say the plumes may be erupting from an underground ocean, which would make Enceladus the third place in the solar system suspected to support life, even if only microbial organisms."

APOD: "Atlantis to orbit"I love this picture, linked by Gerard Vanderleun: Atlantis to OrbitBeautiful.

BTW this afternoon our peaceful day was briefly shattered by a sonic boom, as the Enterprise landed at Edwards Air Force Base.  At first I thought it was an earthquake, but there was no shaking, only the initial bang.  I understand it costs $2M to fly the Enterprise back to Florida when it has to land in California, wow, that's an expensive detour.

This is excellent: Slashdot reports New Asimov Movies Coming.  "Two big budget Isaac Asimov novel adaptations are on the way. New Line founders Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne are developing Asimov's 1951 novel Foundation, the first in Asimov's classic space opera saga, which has the potential to be as epic as Lord of the Rings. At the same time, New Regency has recently announced they were adapting Asimov's time travel novel The End of Eternity."  How cool is that, I can't wait; Foundation would make a great LOTR-style epic...

 

 
 

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