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welcome to 2009

Thursday,  01/01/09  11:27 PM

Welcome to 2009!  Yay...

Mark Sanchez and USC dominate the Rose BowlSpent today eating mostly, interspersed with hanging out with friends and watching football.  I ate about 25lbs of shrimp, followed by 25lbs of tamales with chili, washed down with 25 glasses of Pinot.  (And the less said about the See's candy with the Warre's port, the better, although it was excellent; thanks Kev & Cyn :)  I think I'm going to have to ride for a week to work it all off!  Although I'm not a fan of the way the college bowls have spread themselves out over early January, it does have the effect of reducing overlap on New Year's day; with a dual-tuner Tivo you can now pretty much watch all the games.  And we did :)  Sorry to you Penn State fans but the Rose Bowl was over in the first twenty minutes, and featured extended garbage time after that...  Mark Sanchez (right) looked every bit as dominating as his predecessors Carson Palmer and Matt Leinert.  Now we root for Ohio State to upend Texas Monday Night, and then for Oklahoma to defeat Florida in the "national championship game" next Thursday.  Then we can have the conversation - again - about whether the Trojans aren't really the best team in the country.  They sure looked it today.

It is interesting to read my post from a year ago bemoaning my Moxi.  I had such trouble recording the New Year's games that I vowed to replace it with a TivoHD.  Well I did, and I haven't looked back; the Tivo UI really is better, and it really does make a difference.  (And I didn't even have a hard time with the cablecards, it all "just worked".)

Regarding the situation in Gaza, Powerline links Alan Dershowitz: Israel, Hamas, and moral idiocy.  Imagine living next door to the worst neighbors imaginable, they're not only loud and obnoxious, but they keep heaving bricks over the fence into your yard, and occasionally kill your kids.  You would take action after a while, right?

In the same vein, Barry Rubin asks The Gaza War, is it really so hard to understand?  No.  Perhaps Israel just has to invade and take over the entire Gaza strip area.  Seriously, at this point that's the only thing I see that could work.

More pleasant news: French New Year's "revelers" torch 1,000 cars.  Of course the religion and social identity of the revelers is not revealed, but of course we know these are Muslim immigrants.  I wonder at what point the weirdness of our politically correct apologizing will stop?  ("The French Interior Ministry described the night as 'rather calm and without major incident.'")  Maybe in 2009 we'll come to our senses?  We can only hope.

weird storm over Greenland...I've been saving these pictures of a weird storm over Greenland.  Somehow they seem appropriate to thinking about Muslim terrorism and atrocities.  Imagine how cool it would be if these people just focused on improving their own lives, using technology and working together to make a better place for themselves.  Nobody cares what they believe, how they celebrate god, as long as they leave everyone else alone.  But sadly, they don't.

weird storm over Greenland(Please click through to see these pictures in more detail, the cloud formations are amazing...)

Some better news: Mars rovers approaching five years of services, still kicking.  "Together, the rovers have sent back over 250,000 images, traveled more than 13 miles, climbed a mountain, descended into craters, struggled with Martian sand traps and aging and failing equipment. They survived dust storms and sent back more than 36 GB of data via the Mars Odyssey craft permanently in orbit around Mars."  And their planned mission life was 90 days, how amazing is that?

the shopper's brainAnother fascinating article from the year-end issue of the Economist: The way the brain buys.  I can see now why they've tried piping chocolate smells into the Nordstrom's shoe department :)

Maybe this can explain why T.O. sales seem to be an exception to dismal season.  "Early indications are that retailers in the Thousand Oaks-Westlake Village area enjoyed a successful holiday shopping season, bucking the national trend and seeing an increase in shoppers and in sales."  So be it...  especially amazing considering that the two largest employers in the area are Amgen and Countrywide, both of which had a bad year.

driving while phoningIn Seattle, after six months drivers ignoring cellphone ban.  Yeah, in Los Angeles, too.  What a dumb law.  And now we have another which bans texting, too.  Next thing you know the government will presume to tell us whether we can eat while driving, or hold the steering wheel with one hand.  Please note: I'm not saying using a phone or texting is safe, I'm saying it shouldn't be the government's job to keep us from doing things that aren't safe.

Patterico's Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2008.  "It happens every year: I read every post I’ve written over the past 365 days about the Los Angeles Times . . . and I think to myself: this is just unbelievable. There’s something appalling and eye-opening about seeing an entire year’s worth of the paper’s bias, omissions, and distortions gathered in one post."  The LATimes has indeed become a joke.  And this year, a bankrupt joke.  But read the post anyway because it is truly amazing how biased a major newspaper can be...

Steve Jobs at MacworldThe Industry Standard has collected Ten Years of Steve Jobs at Macworld.  "The videos start with the July 1998 Macworld expo in New York, in which Jobs demonstrated the iMac. The videos end with his 2008 keynote in San Francisco, where he unveiled the MacBook Air. Other highlights include the iPhone announcement at the 2007 Macworld, and his 'one more thing' moment in 2006, when he showed off the MacBook Pro for the first time."  Great stuff, I learn so much from watching him, not only for his presentation style but his positioning.  He's the greatest tech marketing person of all time.

As a side note, it is incredible to view the clip from 1998 which starts the series, and to realize that was just ten years ago!  Wow, computers have evolved amazingly in that time.

From Bill Burnham: 2008 Internet IPOs in review.  A short story since there weren't any :)  I wonder if 2009 will be better?

I like this from dustbury.com: "I couldn't possibly fail to disagree with you less."  I agree :)

 

wine knot indeed

Thursday,  01/01/09  11:54 PM

did knot win
2000 Araujo Eisele

Oh, of course, you want to know how the great Cabernet tasting went yesterday night?  Well, I decided to bring the 2000 Araujo Eisele, reasoning that it was great, a bit unusual, and wouldn't require as much decanting time as the '97s...  sadly, it didn't win, in fact, out of eight blinded Cabernets it finished 4th (I didn't pick it, either). 

So what happened?  All of the other entries were current releases, and there was no decanting done.  I think that was the problem; an hour or two of breathing and the Araujo would have come into its own.  I sampled it after the bottles were revealed and although it was getting better it still wasn't spun all the way up to speed.  Also the Araujo is big and full and needs a steak to be appreciated properly, for just sitting around and drinking it is probably too strong.  Lesson learned; for a tasting like this a mellower and more accessible wine would have been a better choice.

Well so be it, we got to welcome in the new year by drinking eight nice cabs, while enjoying the company of a bunch of nice cab drinkers.  Knot too shabby.

 

cycle log

Friday,  01/02/09  08:18 PM

I didn't ride yesterday; too busy eating and partying and watching football, but in 2008 overall I did manage 206 rides for a total of 7,577 miles.  That's an average of 37 miles per ride, and 146 miles per week.  Yay, me.

Looked at another way, that's about ten hours of riding per week, which is about 7,000 calories, or about 1,000 calories per day...

I'm pretty sure I could never get that much exercise any other way.  I had to find something I liked to do - anyway - and in so doing trick myself into getting a workout.  Cycling is not for everyone, some people like to run, or swim, or whatever...  one thing for sure, it beats walking to the 'fridge :)

 

"the pill is cool"

Friday,  01/02/09  08:43 PM

I've been thinking a lot about how to deal with Unnatural Selection.  It's happening, and it's a problem, but the solutions are tough. 

To review, there are three components to the birth rate of a population, 1) choice, 2) generation length, and 3) death rate.  The solutions I've been focusing on recently involve making having children less desirable, so as to affect choice (having fewer kids) and generation length (having them later).  Peer pressure among young women is strong; if you could make having fewer kids cool, that would be good, and if you could make having kids later cooler, that would be good, too.

I toyed with the idea of starting a meme that "having kids makes you less attractive".  I don't know if it is true, but it isn't obviously untrue, which makes it believable.  Still there is something distasteful about this message; I sense it might be rejected by women who are already mothers, including the mothers of young women, and that could backfire.  (A lot of social mores are propagated by older women.)  Also a lot of kids are conceived in the heat of a moment, without much prior planning; in such circumstances a  consideration like "this will make you less attractive in the future" wouldn't have much weight.

The meme I like best right now is "the pill is cool".  It isn't as distasteful as "having kids makes you ugly", and might even appeal to mothers of young women, as it has the virtue that it advocates something preventative.  If a women is already on the pill, she doesn't have to be smart in the heat of a moment, or think at all; it will keep her from having kids regardless.  There is a religious / moral objection in that going on the pill reduces the deterrent effect of avoiding a possible pregnancy.  I don't know how strong that is, but I do know that if more young women went on the pill, there would be fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions (let's face it, abortions are really birth control after the fact).

Anyway that's what I'm thinking about right now...  it sure makes working on the book more interesting to focus on possible solutions than to merely report a problem.


© 2003-2017 Ole Eichhorn

 

Friday,  01/02/09  09:14 PM

Well, it's a new year; the holidays are over...  the tree was un-decorated and dragged to the curb, all our Christmas stuff was put away, the lights were taken off the house (once again I successfully avoided falling off the roof), the reindeer were garaged, and all the other signs of celebration were extinguished.  Sad in a way, but nice to have it over with (if 'twere done when 'tis done, 'twere well it be done quickly).  I was able to get in a nice ride today, Rockstore, done in a relatively sedate 1:56; the foggy cold weather slowed me down as did all the food I've eaten recently (!), but it was good to do it anyway.  And I was able to think about work a little; today was nominally a working day but in actuality an extension of the holiday week.

Meanwhile, the world has started the new year, too...

Darwin, illustratedOne more link from the Economist's year-end issue: Why we are, as we are; a terrific example of how Darwinism can be applied to the problems of our day.  I find it amazing that a mainstream publication like the Economist would apply these principles so freely, delightful, but amazing.  This article could have been written by Daniel Dennett :)

Techdirt: On staying happy.  "As we move into 2009, there are plenty of things to be worried about, but look around at what progress has brought to us already, and look at the trends and the obvious direction in which technology is taking us - there's so much to look forward to, it's hard to let any depression seep into the discussion at all."  Amen.  [ via Slashdot ]

Bet you didn't expect this: Music sales up 10% in 2008.  Online single-track sales grew by 27%.  All of the growth was digital, online.  See!

BTW wasn't it excellent to see the Doobie Brothers at halftime of the Orange Bowl?  They even looked good :)

Ragtime in the Sidney Hobart raceI loved this Sailing Anarchy article about Ragtime's entry in the Sidney-Hobart race.  In addition to being the coolest and only American entry, they won their class and came to the rescue of a fellow competitor during the race.  Awesome!

IE market share drops below 70%.  Wow, that's amazing.  Who would have thought?  But then again who would have thought Netscape would ever become irrelevant?  Right now the darling is Firefox, but what's next, Chrome?

Rogers Cadenhead: The Sarah Connor's Great-Grandparents Chronicles.  "Why does Skynet keep sending Terminators after Sarah Connor? Or even John Connor, for that matter? Why not go back a hundred years, or two hundred years, and kill her great grandparents?"  I see a new show in development, a Western, maybe?  I would be seriously interested in John Wayne vs the Terminator :)

Steve Jobs' iPhone keynote at MacworldI am still really enjoying the Industry Standard's video replay of Steve Jobs keynotes from Macworld.  I love his remarkable focus on critical features, and his showmanship.  And I continue to be struck by the amazingly rapid pace of PC technology.  Ten years was a lifetime:

1937 Bugatti - found in a barn!Autoblog: Barn Find of the Decade: 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante.  The Decade?  How about all time?  Wow... 

Zooborn: baby aardvarkZooBorn of the day: a baby aardvark.

SFGate: The Wave Hunter...  in the Potato Patch outside the Golden Gate.
the wave hunter's pictures...
  "'As we approached [the South Patch], I remember hearing this really low rumble,' Raymond recounts. 'I looked up and there was this wave, a perfectly shaped Hawaii 5.0 wave, breaking a mile out from us. It was maybe 50 feet, 70 feet on the face, just Hawaii 5.0ing down the line,' he says. 'It was one of the most spectacular things I've ever seen.'"  Wow...
[ via the Horse's Mouth ]

 

Bolts shock Colts

Sunday,  01/04/09  10:29 AM

I must report: My friend Yogi and I watched the Chargers beat the Colts yesterday, in the playoffs, in overtime, from the front row on the 45 yard line.

Qualcomm panorama
panoramic view of Qualcomm stadium - click to enbiggen
note the lack of people between us and the field :)


I forgive the Charger girls for obstructing our view


self-portrait, w Yogi (neighbor, ophthalmologic surgeon, and football fan :)


Yeah, baby! We win on a touchdown in overtime… what could be better?
you can probably still hear the crowd, they were THAT loud

I don't see many football games live, but this was a great game.  Both teams played well, it was a see-saw battle all the way with plenty of drama, and you had the league MVP (Peyton Manning) matched against the league's top rated quarterback (Philip Rivers).  It came down to a last minute field goal to put the game into overtime, and then a final scoring drive to win.

The game also featured great punting; the Charger's Mike Scifres put on a punting clinic.  He averaged 52.7 yards for his six punts; all six were inside the 20, and four were downed inside the 10.  One 67 yarder cleared the returner's head by thirty feet before landing inside the five and spinning back like a nine-iron.  And with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, he stuck a 51 yarder right into the coffin corner, pinning the Colts at the one.

I rewatched the game on my Tivo this morning - 30-second-skipping through the boring parts - and I have a few observations about seeing a game live vs. watching it on Tivo. 

  • First, the game is much faster on Tivo, and not just because of 30-second-skipping.  Somehow when you're at the game, it all makes sense, but on TV stuff "just happens".  On TV when it's third down, the nickel package is in, but live you watch the guys assemble at the sideline and run into the game.  You watch the long snapper practice before a punt.  You watch the backup quarterback warm up when the starter is sacked hard.  You watch the coach pacing, then make a decision.  You even watch the camera people shift positions... and then watch their view of the game on the big screen scoreboard.  And of course the commercial timeouts on a change-of-possession seem to last forever when you're in the stadium; even watching the Charger girls dance (always worth doing) seemed to take a long time.
  • Second, the announcers are really on top of the game (Al Michaels and John Madden).  Live it is hard to pick out players, jersey numbers, yard markers, etc., but on TV boom they have all the names and figures *now*.  I know they have spotters and statisticians, but the whole thing works pretty seamlessly.  And having already seen the game live, listening to Al and John gave me a better appreciation of how well they see what is going to happen before it happens.
  • Third, crowd noise is a real thing.  On TV they can talk about crown noise, and you can hear it in the background (and with HD and 5.1 you can even hear it surrounding you), but in the middle of a stadium 70,000 screaming fans are LOUD.  You have a physical reaction to that kind of noise, it really does matter.

Anyway it doesn't get much better - my "how did I get here" moment of the year, so far :)

 

playing with Win7

Sunday,  01/04/09  11:07 AM

I’ve spent some time the past few days installing and playing with Windows 7, the successor to Vista.  You know all the problems people have had with Vista, how it is slower and klunkier and less compatible, and how Windows XP really is “better” in most situations, despite being six years older.  So now Microsoft is coming out with “Windows 7” – that is apparently what it will be called, by the way – based on the Vista code base but with emphasis on making it faster, less klunky, and more compatible.  Microsoft seem to have absorbed the message that new features are all very exciting, but speed and compatibility matter too.

Anyway so far so good, it is immediately apparent that Win7 is faster than Vista, and you get far fewer weird popup messages asking you for permission to use your own computer.  The look and feel is otherwise quite similar to Vista.  I’m not a Vista expert, in fact I’ve actively avoided it (!), but the differences between Vista and Win7 in actual features seem minor.  I’m really rooting for Win7 because at some point [my company] Aperio will have to switch from XP to something, and I was hoping hoping hoping that we wouldn't have to switch to Vista.  And when I say “switch”, I mean for Aperio’s applications as delivered to customers as well as the operating system we all use day-to-day.

Here’s a screen shot of Win7 running IE8 (beta) accessing Aperio's Spectrum product (our Flash WebViewer works just fine) with our ImageScope viewer accessing a digital slide.  Pretty much everything “just works” although some of the graphic effects are a bit different (the controls have a new look, “flat” is the new “3D”, and the outline on the filmstrip thumbnail is overly heavy):

Win 7 in action
Win 7 in action - click for full-size screenshot

Aperio's image analysis algorithm framework works, as does the nuclear IHC analysis algorithm, and I’ve been using this as a helpful performance benchmark.  One thing Win7 has under the covers is better support for multicore/multiprocessor machines, especially the x64 version, but I haven’t been able to test that on my laptop.  At some point I’ll have to try some of the new 16-core 64-bit servers, they'd be perfect for analysis acceleration :)

Stay tuned for more…

PS once again the value of having VMWare for this sort of experimentation is confirmed. I would not have dared install Win7 on my laptop for everyday use, but by having a VM for it I can play with it to my heart’s content, then go back to XP for “real” work.

PPS in case you’re wondering, no, Win7 is not yet available, in fact, it is not yet in beta.  Do not ask where I got it :)

 

Daniel Jacoby's photographs

Sunday,  01/04/09  11:49 AM

Daniel Jacoby w Ernst Shackleton memorial

You've heard me write about Daniel Jacoby before, my friend and ex-colleague who passed away almost five years ago from a brain tumor.  Today I received an email from his sister Naomi Ryerson, with some photos taken by Daniel on an expedition to the South Pole.  The photographs are great; I've posted them for your viewing pleasure, although I wish they were higher resolution because these small sizes don't really do them justice.  (There are some thumbnails at left to give you a flavor for the work :)

I believe Naomi has the original negatives and has made arrangements to have these photographs printed, so if you're interested please let me know and I'll relay your interest to her.  Proceeds of sales of these photographs would go to Daniel's foundation, Interfaith Inventions Inc, so in addition to acquiring some excellent art you'd be helping improve the world too :)

In the collection is a picture of Daniel, above at right, taken at a memorial to Ernest Shackleton, the famous explorer who was one of Daniel's heroes (the Endurance story is unbelievable, if you've never read it, please do...).  Daniel's own story is one of endurance, and his spirit lives on in each of the many people who knew him.

 

Sunday,  01/04/09  08:21 PM

loose gravel!Spent today quietly working upstairs next to the fire, watching football and listening to the wind howl.  It finally died down and I went for a slow ride in the dark, opting for cold[er] over wind[ier], and survived a flat.

It has now been a month since my big Five-O birthday, which has gently receded into memory and now seems like no big deal.  Actually I can't believe it was only a month since my visit to RSNA in Chicago.  It was an eventful December!

Posting Daniel's photographs prompted me to search for him in my archives, and unearthed my post about Aperio's participation in Relay for Life last August.  I'd forgotten about that, how cool to have captured the memory.  It was an incredibly moving experience for me, and rereading the post brings tears to my eyes as I recall walking in the dark, surrounded by those luminaria.  One of them had Daniel's name on it...  I should have written Endurance on it, and next year I will...

A Water Warning from Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestlé, part of The Economist's preview of The World in 2009.  "The rise in the price of basic food has had devastating effects on the most vulnerable - the poor who spend up to two-thirds of their income on food. Some of the measures taken in response, such as export restrictions, have been highly counter-productive. In 2009 the world needs to reflect on the underlying causes of the food crisis and start addressing structural factors, in particular the link to biofuels and water."  Interesting...

Also in the same issue, Piece of Mind from Paul Allen, co-founder of the Allen Institute for Brain Science (an Aperio customer).  "The mystery of how the brain works is the most compelling question in science. We can discover new planets around distant stars and find water on Mars, but over 95% of the workings of the brain remain unexplored and unexplained."  They're doing important work, and it is all being done open source, publishing all findings and making them available to everyone.  Excellent.

duct tape is silverToday I was carrying around a roll of duct tape, and Shirley asked what I was doing... "going riding, of course".  There are only two essential tools, duct tape and WD-40, because there are only two essential repair actions, sticking stuff together, and pulling stuff apart.

This week we have the Gates-less CES conference and Job-less Macworld.  Scoble says this is Ballmer's big moment: "What must he do?  Introduce Windows 7 to us and make it seem a LOT cooler than Vista."  Riight.  TechCrunch thinks Ballmer's CES keynote promises to be a snoozer, and I tend to agree.  Although I am rooting for Windows 7!

Leaner Kahney: Three reasons I'm actually looking forward to Phil Shiller's Keynote.  I must confess I'm actually looking forward to it also, if only for the train-wreck potential.

For me the exciting news at CES will be Palm's announcement of a new phone with a slide-down keyboard and large touchscreen.  And hopefully it will run an updated version of the Palm OS, not Windows Mobile.  Now that will be cool.

Important work: the physics of pole-vaulting.  Efficiently converting horizontal motion into vertical motion by temporarily storing the energy in a long bendy pole.

active.com's slimy marketingThe 'net is full of slimy marketing tactics; one of the worst is to make a "yes" choice way more prominent than a "no".  Any company who does this is conceding that they have to trick you into a "yes".  I encountered a great example of this on Active.com's website today while registering for a bike ride; check out the picture at right.  Slime!

I must tell you, since watching Yes Man the other day I've been saying "yes" spontaneously to many things and had some great experiences as a result (skiing in Mammothwatching the Chargers).  But to this kind of bogus marketing I say NO.

ZooBorn: baby elephantZooBorn of the day: a baby elephant.

 

Monday,  01/05/09  10:53 PM

Whew, back in the saddle, in more ways than one... spent the day in Vista and everyone at Aperio was "back" and back to work...  Fortunately we had a relatively quiet December (in terms of development and manufacturing anyway, the sales team were busy, of course, and we ended up amazingly strong considering the economic conditions).  But now it is a new year with new challenges and stuff to get done, feels like we are behind already!

So, did you see the Fiesta Bowl tonight?  Hope this isn't a spoiler, but what a great game!  I was rooting for Ohio State, and we came -> <- this close to winning, whew.  Colt McCoy and Texas pulled it out at the last minute, actually at the last 0:16.  I must tell you I thought Ohio State's defense on that last touchdown was awful, how can you not have a safety back in that situation?  What do I know...  anyway I did enjoy the game, most of which I watched on my laptop, via my Slingbox from my Tivo.

Ohio State vs Texas - drive chartI like the way ESPN recaps football games with a "drive chart".  Check this out (at right), it really encapsulates the game.  You can see the ebbs and flows, the momentum changes.  To me this is more revealing than, say, a box score for a baseball game.

business investment in 2009The Economist's The World in 2009 says No more Business as Usual.  "Nobody is expecting business as usual in 2009: for many firms, the top priority will be survival, while for others a tougher economic environment will provide unexpected opportunities."  The chart at left shows business investment in 2006-08, and predicts 2009.  There will be opportunities in 2009, but it is a very different business climate.  In a way this is more "normal" and the last twenty years have been the abberation...  there will be a flight to value.

Health care will be affected too, there will be an Intensive Scare.  "Health care has long been a cosy industry dominated by monopolies in the provision of service and lumbering giants in the provision of pills. Profit margins have historically been fat, growth prospects rosy and disruptive innovations rare indeed. But all this looks set to change in 2009. Thanks to a swirl of new technologies, business models and, possibly, a push from the American government, the established dinosaurs of health care may well be forced to dance."  It remains to be seen whether this business climate will be an opportunity for new technologies like digital pathology, or a setback.

Queen Rania of JordanQueen Rania of Jordan writes about Closing the Knowledge Gap.  A great article which makes a great point, by a rare charismatic and pragmatic "Arab" leader.  (And I must say, any blog post is automatically improved by including a picture of Queen Rania :)

Philip Greenspun: Auto sales down 35 percent; the economy must be in pretty good shape.  "Why? There is hardly a single person in the U.S. who actually needs a new car."  Interesting point.

Russell Beattie has stopped Twittering and then tried "posting" via Facebook.  Now he's back to blogging.  "A few days ago I decided to stop updating Twitter with random thoughts. I turned to Facebook status updates as an outlet, but that seemed much more limited for some reason. That doesn't make sense as I was updating Facebook via my Twitter account before, so it should have been the same, but mentally it wasn't. This is a good thing, as now, a few days later, there's been a slow insatiable desire to express myself building that finally made me log into my blog again."  I predict this will be a trend.

In re Facebook, Doc Searls thinks it is The Borg aka AOL 2.0.  "I avoid the place, but that’s getting harder. On this current visit I see 7 friend suggestions, 273 friend requests, 6 event invitations, 5 good karma from debo requests, 1 good karma request, 220 other requests, 4 new updates, 235 items in my inbox, 7 pokes and 522 friends to start with."  I know just what he means.  I go there, I spend time, but I come away confused and feeling like it was wasted time.  Yet sometimes I find out stuff about friends I really wanted to know.  Huh.  There's definitely more there there than with, say, Twitter...

The Onion - MacBook WheelFrom the amazing Onion, the MacBook Wheel.  With Macworld this week, who knows, they could be closer than we think.  Cute idea!  (Is it just me, or are the production values at the Onion every bit as good - if not better - as MSM?)  [ via Dave, via email, thanks... ]

Tonya Engst: A Mother's letter to to Apple about Macworld Expo.  "Macworld Expo is our family's annual reunion. You don't go to reunions because they are convenient, or because they are cheap. You go to reunions because you are a member of the family, and that's what families do."  Yeah, but Steve Jobs is not sentimental; I'm guessing he doesn't go to his real family's reunions either...

ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes tested the latest Win7 build against XP and Vista and came to a surprising conclusion: Win7 performs better than the other 2 OSsin the vast majority of the 23 tasks tested.  Even installation.  Cool!  [ via Slashdot ]

Finally, if you're feeling stressed, don't worry, January 5th is the most stressful day of the year.  I am not making this up.

 

(The Scientist - January 2009)

Tuesday,  01/06/09  09:44 PM

 

The Scientist - January 2009


(great cover - I guess we're going to be seeing a lot of Darwinian stuff this year)

 

Louisville's bike racks

Tuesday,  01/06/09  10:13 PM

Who knew?  Turns out Louisville has some really awesome bike racks; sculptures arranged around the city at various locations which are also bike racks.  Very cool...  here is a sample:

How very progressive and excellent of them.  Something for Westlake Village to consider...

 

Tuesday,  01/06/09  10:34 PM

Took a long dark ride tonight, in the cold and damp, and have a cough to show for it.  I know, I know, being cold doesn't cause you to catch a cold.  Except, well, it does.  Hopefully the Mahi Mahi and Chardonnay I had for dinner will defeat the virus.  Oh, and getting some sleep would be good, but

in the meantime, it's all happening...

Nick balloon stackMy colleague Nick returned to work today, and was greeted by our awesome balloon stack of his office.  800 balloons can make quite a mess, amazingly.  We will have balloons in the hallways for weeks :)

TechCrunch asks Will Meg Whitman be the next governor of California?  Huh.  Why not?  BTW it is interesting that the TechCrunch note positions eBay as a failure.  Yeah, they're not growing, but they're not shrinking and they are printing money.  Remember?  In 2009 cash will be king.

a year of astronomyMore from the Economist's World in 2009 survey: A year of astronomy.  "No discovery in science could be more dramatic than finding life elsewhere in the universe. If it were intelligent life that would be even better but evidence of even the simplest forms of life on a planet circling a distant sun would be the find of the century. That discovery can’t be promised for 2009 but we will see a giant leap in our capability to find Earth-like planets that could provide good homes for life."  On the planned Kepler telescope; but the trend I like for 2009 is that private companies are moving into space.

Saturn's rings, from CassiniMeanwhile, from Cassini, spectacular new images showcase Saturn's rings.  Wow.  I never get tired of looking at Saturn and its moons.  I can't wait to visit Titan :)

Cory Doctorow notes Atheist bus ads in London.  "There's probably no god.  now stop worrying and enjoy your life."  So be it!

Glenn Reynolds: "They told me that if we toppled Saddam Hussein, gas would be cheaper than it was in 2001.  And they were right!"

An interesting article from last April, emailed from Marc: Pearls before Breakfast.  "It was the most astonishing thing I've ever seen in Washington...  Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him!"  Context defines quality in so many ways, eh?

This article's title reminds me of ZZTop's Pearl Necklace, one of my favorites.  Joshua Bell probably would not approve :)

Chris Anderson notes the best selling MP3 album of 2008 was free.  That would be NIN's Ghosts I-IV, release on Amazon.  I don't have it, but maybe I should!

Perhaps the most interesting announcement from today's rather uninteresting Apple keynote at Macworld (not given by Steve Jobs, as you know): all tracks in the iTunes store are now DRM-free.  And for $.30/track, you can convert/upgrade your existing tracks.  WOW.

Rube Goldberg corkscrewHere we have a half-ton Rube Goldberg corkscrew.  Excellent!  (Although I must tell you a simple waiter's corkscrew is my preference for actually, you know, opening a bottle :)

 

Wednesday,  01/07/09  11:52 PM

Whew, tired.  L o n g  day, capped by a long ride, and a long drive home.  Yawn.  My cold is thriving, but I am not.  This could be a short and crummy post, sorry.

I have been doing more introspecting about what I do well.  I am best at the top level - business strategy - and the bottom level - technical architecture and implementation.  I am weak in the middle, managing people and projects, the blocking and tackling.  Fortunately I have colleagues who are much better than I am at these things.  So I must stay out of their way and let them do what they do, and not waste time screwing them up :)

Global Cooling: Sea ice returns to 1979 levels.  "Earlier this year, predictions were rife that the North Pole could melt entirely in 2008. Instead, the Arctic ice saw a substantial recovery."  Shocking, huh?

Michael Rasmussen!News of the day: Michael Rasmussen eyes a comeback.  Yay, let's hear it for the chicken!  Remember, he won the 2007 Tour de France, defeating Alberto Contador on the Queen stage to take a commanding lead.  And he has never had a positive drug test.  Another guy mistreated by "the system" in cycling...  it will be great to have him back!

Edgadget at CESSorry but I'm not gadget blogging CES.  Please visit Engadget, they are.  (Another version of focusing on what I do best :)  The really exciting news will be tomorrow, as Palm announces...  whatever they're announcing!

One cool thing: Win7 is now in a public beta!  A newer and probably cooler build than I've been playing with, too.  That means Microsoft has *finally* given in to the Vista disaster, and really wants to ship Win7 soon to give all those XP users somewhere to go.  And mercifully, they seem to have focused on performance and compatibility, rather than cranking out a bunch of demo-friendly features nobody wants or needs.  Thank you thank you thank you!

TinEye image search looks cool.  I'll have to play with it some more...

Icon A5Here we have the ultimate flying machine: sexy as a sports car, portable as a jet ski.  "The new light-sport category makes it much easier for amateur fliers to take to the air. Planes in this class must have just one engine, and maximum airspeed is 138 miles per hour. Sport pilots must stay below 10,000 feet (lower than most jetliners) and fly only during the day, in clear skies and away from busy airports. But that's still a lot of room to barnstorm. And wannabe pilots need only 20 hours of instruction to get certified."  You know I'm going to say it, and I am: I want one!

Ann Althouse remembers the dullest blog in the world.  "That was fascinatingly hilarious back then. Today, does the humor even register? It looks like Twitter! Now, millions of people write tiny posts to say whatever little thing it is they happen to be doing. And it's not to be funny. It's to communicate and feel connected."  That's it!  That's it exactly!  Twitter is... dull.

ZooBorn baby jaguarZooBorn of the day: baby Jaguar.  Awww...

Well I guess it wasn't that crummy, right?  Any post with Michael Rasmussen, a new ultralight jet, and a baby jaguar has a chance :)  Good night!

 

Palm Pre!

Thursday,  01/08/09  12:52 PM

Looks like I have to get a new phone!  The Palm Pre:

Palm Pre

An iPhone with a real keyboard.  Thank you thank you thank you.

And it will be on Sprint first.  Thank you again. 
Not only do I not get AT&T reception at my house, I like Sprint, and I don't like AT&T.

Many analysts said Palm had to hit a home run.  Looks like they did.  From Ryan Block: "Wow. Well, that was kind of amazing, and I don’t say that very often. Yes, we are lacking a LOT of really important details, but there’s little doubt that Palm is back in a big way, and that this OS and device has the potential to make up for all their missteps over the last five years. Can’t wait."  Me either.  Yay!

[ Update: I'm reading the details; wild stuff like the 3.1" multitouch screen, the wireless charger, the rollerball, EVDO, WiFi, GPS, bluetooth, 3Mp camera (w LED flash), all in a little handheld device, and I'm thinking, "I can actually have one of these".  It might be $500, but it won't be $5M.  This isn't just science fiction, this is a consumer product.  What a great time to be alive! ]

 

Pre views

Thursday,  01/08/09  11:51 PM

Pre-blogging:

  • Pre and Centro side-by-sidePreboard :)Engadget's live feed of the Palm presentation, now an archive.  They do this best.  And here's their summary + specs, and a large photo gallery.  I was struck by the pic at far right, showing that the Pre is smaller than you'd think; smaller than the Centro I'm holding in my hand, right now.  The other picture I like is the keyboard.  From the descriptions, the keys have the Centro rubberiness and clickiness (which is a good thing).  May I be the first to call this a Preboard?
  • ArsTechnica has good info on the webOS.  "As nice as the Pre's hardware is, Palm's webOS is where the real action is. As a dedicated iPhone user, I experienced something very strange and quite unexpected while watching Palm demo the new OS: my iPhone suddenly felt old and played out. It's like Palm started with the iPhone, copied all the best ideas, and then made the whole package better."  The underlying OS is Linux, and the entire UI is Webkit-based.  Most applications are written in JavaScript, with CSS skins.
  • Palm stock price 1/8/09All Things Digital: Pre historic.  They note that investors like the company as much as reviewers like the phone; see the stock price graph at right.
  • Dave Winer: Palm Pre a possibility? "This morning I couldn't imagine why anyone would even go to a Palm press conference, and now I'm on the edge of wanting one of these to try. I'm ready to get off my iPhone, I'm sick of the locked up mentality."
  • Robert Scoble: Palm did what Nokia, RIM, and Microsoft couldn’t: build a better experience than Apple.  "When I sat down at the beginning of the Palm Pre announcement press conference I was expecting to watch the death of a company. Palm? Give me a break. It would NEVER do anything interesting and Nokia, Microsoft, RIM, and especially Apple were about to kick it into the deathbin of history.  I was wrong. WAY WAY WAY wrong."
  • Cult of Mac: Palm Pre Gives Hope That iPhone Will Face Real Competition.  "I am excited that the Pre is good enough to actually make Apple work hard, particularly on the software front. The Palm Web OS has a clear point of view, an attractive look, and some genuinely innovative features, such as the gesture bar and the very cool “wave” application launcher shown above."
  • Pre: backGizmodo: Palm Pre Preview: Simply Amazing.  Nice overview with technical details and many pictures.
    • "The Palm Pre is a lot smaller than I initially thought it would be.
    • "The Pre's Web OS UI and UX really looks great.
    • "The Card system is really a great way to keep your information in front of you and know what you're working on.
    • "The input technology that doesn't involve the screen is also top notch.
    • "The screen is beautiful, and it really shows when looking at photos, which are so bright and colorful, I'd almost say it looks sharper than any other phone.

I can't wait to get in my Pre-order :)

 

Thursday,  01/08/09  11:58 PM

So how was your day?  In addition to the Pre historic news, it was sunny and quiet here...  was able to get some heads down work done.  And got in a nice ride, in anticipation of eating while footballing, and then ate a lot while watching the game.

I didn't really enjoy the BCS Championship game, did you?  Maybe it was because I was rooting for Oklahoma, but maybe it was because neither team played very well, and it just wasn't a compelling game.  I think either USC or Texas could beat either of these teams, and Utah might too.  (Maybe - gasp! - it's time to look at a playoff system?)  The whole "Tim Tebow as superman" thing turns me off, too.  It's just football.  At this point all I can say is Go Chargers!

Titan: Organics factory?Saturn's Titan: A Giant Organics Factory.  "Saturn's orange moon Titan has hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all the known oil and natural gas reserves on Earth, according to new data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The hydrocarbons rain from the sky, collecting in vast deposits that form lakes and dunes."

the approach to San Francisco BayThe approach to San Francisco Bay.  The blue areas are shoals - good for fishing and surfing (!), bad for boats and especially ships.

Global Cooling: Minnesota sled race canceled because of too much snow.  "The Third Crossing Sled Dog Rendezvous, slated for Jan. 23-24, would have been the ninth annual running of the sprint races, which twice were canceled for lack of snow.  This winter, as anyone with a driveway knows, has been a season of prodigious snows."  I am not making this up.

Microsoft Tags compared to other 2D barcodesAnnouncing Microsoft Tags.  A sort of geometric barcode using color.  (Comparison to QR and Datamatrics barcodes at left.)  I am struck once again that Microsoft always seems to ignore what others have done and reinvent the wheel.  2D barcodes have been around for a long time, do we really need a new format, whatever its virtues?

meme credibility: The Law of SignificanceFrom Chris Anderson, a wonderful tongue-in-cheek graph (shown at right) comparing credibility vs time for The Long Tail, The Black Swan, and The Tipping Point.  I love it.  This could be a graph of The Law of Significance in action :)

Ottmar Liebert: The Long Tail is a Myth.  Quotes the Guardian: "Maybe the reason why the internet hasn’t brought about a long-tail era for music is simpler than all the above. The internet gives the customer an infinite choice of tracks, but perhaps the pool of genuine talent is as limited as it’s always been."  Yep.

Wobbegong shark pupsZooBorn of the day: Wobbegong shark pups.  Makes you want to pet them, doesn't it?

 

Friday,  01/09/09  06:16 PM

healthcare bailoutWow, Healthcare could nab $100B payday in Obama stimulus package.  Certainly a better investment of tax dollars than saving autoworker jobs, eh?

Scott Adams: Define friend: 1) Someone you have told a secret, 2) Someone who has accepted a favor from you.  Interesting definition.  I think he's right about defining it in terms of what you do, instead of what your friend does, but I think for me it is more forward-looking, something like: 1) Someone I could tell a secret, 2) Someone who would accept a favor from me.

Scott certainly has some inane posts, but then he comes back with deeply introspective and interesting ones like this.  I think he could be a friend :)

Eric Raymond: My comment to the FCC on DRM.  "DRM is a disaster for everyone involved with it, because it cannot do what it claims but imposes large costs in the process of failing. The people who have sold DRM technologies to Big Media are frauds playing on the ignorance of media executives, and both the media companies and the consumer have suffered greatly and unnecessarily as a result."  As one of the founders of Open Source, Eric has standing to comment, and his remarks are dead on IMHO.  DRM = bad, full stop.  {I think of this every time I wait for my TV to validate HDMI.}

Clint Eastwood in Gran TorinoAnn Althouse likes Gran Torino.  I'm hearing that a lot, might have to go see it.  Interesting that Clint Eastwood remains a favorite Hollywood heavy despite being in his 70s.  He's been making people's days for a while now :)

Biographical note: as a kid, my Mom drove a Gran Torino station wagon.  Probably the world's largest car.  I believe you could haul aircraft with that thing.  Certainly an entire little league team, as she proved on many occasions...

 

 

PCH 200K

Sunday,  01/11/09  10:51 AM

Yesterday I rode the PCH Randonneurs 200K, kicking off the riding season.  It was a flat course, started in Ventura and down the coast to Malibu and back, and then up the coast to Montecito and back.  In the morning it was super windy, making things a bit "interesting", but the wind died off during the day and it ended up being gorgeous.


mile 15: sunrise over Mugu rock


mile 20: Pacific scene


mile 35: first turnaround: Starbucks at Trancas Canyon


mile 40: self-portrait


mile 45: this place will host 100s of bikers later


mile 50: Team Astana out for a training ride!


mile 75: Ventura checkpoint; feeling good


mile 90: surf's up: California in January


mile 110: the freeway in Carpinteria


mile 125: Rincon Beach

For the record it took me 7:07 riding time for 125 miles (200K), an average of 17.5mph; not bad considering the wind.  Oh, and I finished third!  (Two guys on recumbants beat me; I never even saw them.)

Next up: The Stagecoach Century in Ocotillo, next weekend.  Should be fun...

 

Sunday,  01/11/09  11:56 AM

L.A.StoryI spent last night recuperating from the ride (and re-watching L.A.Story with Shirley, how great was that movie?) so I didn't make time to blog; but here's a filter pass for your perusal...

Don't you hate dislike it when bloggers put up a "test post"?  I can understand wanting to test - I do it all the time - but after the test, why not delete it?  By leaving it up, you're assuming we care about how you blog.  Wrong.  We care about what you blog, how you do it, not so much.  Especially not test results.

Stover field goal wins for the RavensLast night I watched the Ravens squeak by the Titans; great game.  (I was rooting for Baltimore, of course, because if they won and the Chargers win today that means the AFC Championship will be in San Diego next weekend!)  And this morning I watched the Cardinals dismantle the Panthers; not a great game.  Interesting how you just never know.  Just now I'm watching the Eagles - Giants game which stands at 7-5, baseball anyone?  And then of course this afternoon we have the BIG game, Chargers against the Steelers (dum dum dum).  I predict the winner of that game will win the AFC Championship, and the Super Bowl.  Stay tuned...

During football there are a metric ton of commercials from Verizon for the Blackberry Storm.  (So many that I can tell even Tivo-30-second-skipping through them.)  Funny how it looked so cool a week ago, but now with the Palm Pre announcement it seems rather dated.  Today's cheese is tomorrow's rind.

Palm Pre announcement at CES; Mattias DuarteSpeaking of the Pre, Palm's CES presentation is now available online.  Pretty nice job by John Rubenstein and Ed Colligan, but the star was Mattias Duarte, who led the team that developed the webOS UI and conducted the demo on-stage.  Really compelling.  You could tell he knew he had a tiger by the tail.

Palm have now introduces the App Catalog, a place for developers to market their Pre applications.  Note the positioning; catalog instead of store.  Palm seems to be doing a lot right, it will be interesting to see how consumers respond.

One more Pre -note; there are rumors that the device will cost $399, and various "analysts" are saying it must be priced at $250 to compete with the iPhone.  That is not even wrong.  Smartphone pricing depends heavily on the service plan, so the up-front-cost by itself is irrelevant.  And the Pre really is a game-changer, especially for someone [like me] who is unwilling to switch to AT&T...  I'd be delighted to pay $399 for it, provided the monthly service cost is similar to my Centro's...

from Dave Winer: investigative reportingDave Winer: How investigative research happens in the blogosphere.  He gets off to a great start with this diagram, pointing out that bloggers do opinion as well as the pros, and do event reporting better than the pros.  From that it could follow that they do the reporting in the middle, too - and they do - but the example he uses, how he collaboratively designed some thumbnail upload facility, is weak; that is navel gazing about some random technical matter, not investigative research.  Still his main point is valid.

Truth is stranger than the Onion: Zimbabwe introduces $50B note.  "John Robertson, an economist in Zimbabwe, said he's puzzled by the introduction of the $50 billion and $20 billion notes.  'I am not really sure what these notes would be for,' he said. 'No one now accepts the local currency. It is a waste of resources to print Zimbabwe dollar notes now. Who accepts a currency that loses value by almost 100 percent daily?'  In August, the RBZ slashed ten zeros from the currency. But the zeroes have bounced back with more vigor."  It would be funnier if the Zimbabwean people weren't suffering.  The true joke is Robert Mugabe.

 

now tweeting

Sunday,  01/11/09  04:25 PM

TwitterHi y'all...  well, I'm trying something new with Twitter.  If you're a regular reader you know I haven't found tweets to be particularly exciting; there seems like a lot of "chatter" and not much actual information.  But so many people are finding Twitter to be so useful that I'm continuing to hang in there; maybe I just don't get it yet.

My friend Gary suggested that I use Twitter as a way to notify people that I've posted something new.  Sort of like an RSS feed, but immediate PUSH instead of delayed PULL.  Who knows, maybe you would find that useful :)  Therefore, as an experiment I've rigged it so that every time I post to my blog, I tweet about it.  You could follow me and thereby know immediately if I post something.

We'll see whether y'all find this useful; if you have an opinion please share it!

 

now facebooking

Sunday,  01/11/09  05:52 PM

FacebookHi y'all, again...  well, I'm trying something new with Facebook.  Unlike Twitter, which I really don't get, Facebook definitely has a "there" there; I can see the attraction.  I have certain friends who post messages, pictures, status, etc. on Facebook, and it's a pretty cool way to know what they're up to.  There is a signal to noise problem because the friends with the most Facebook activity aren't necessarily the friends who I'm the most interested in following closely, but so be it.

Now that I've wired Twitter to my blog, so that when I post to my blog, I tweet about it, I've also wired Facebook to Twitter, so that my tweets go into my Facebook status.  This means if you're one of my friends on Facebook, you can see when I post something to my blog from my Facebook status.  Who knows, maybe you'll like that :)

Like with Twitter, we'll see whether y'all find this useful; if you have an opinion please share it!

 

my weird disaster

Monday,  01/12/09  09:53 PM

I had a weird disaster today; a stray coat hanger may have destroyed my bike =O  Pull up a chair and grab a cold one, and I'll tell the tale...

Kestrel disasterSo there I was, near the end of one of my usual rides, a little 28-mile jaunt around Thousand Oaks, and I'm cruising around 20mph, and I run over a coat hanger.  (Actually I thought it was a stick.)  I hear it sort of banging around in my back wheel, and suddenly the back wheel stops spinning.  I fishtail to a stop, look down, and see that my rear derailleur has torn off the back of the bike, and is now dangling from the chain just behind my bottom bracket.  Closer inspection reveals the coat hanger wrapped around my back axle, inside the chain, and also intertwined with the chain and the derailleur.  Must have gotten sucked in there in just the wrong way so as to cause maximum damage. 

What a freak accident, I could run over that same coat hanger 1,000 times and not have anything happen.  Weird.

Kestrel disasterSo I had to be rescued by my daughter Jordan - the bike was not capable of forward movement :( - and once I got home it took me 45 minutes to cut the coat hanger free and assess the damage.  The derailleur is most likely irreparable (see pic at left), too bad, since it is original equipment on this 10-year-old bike, and has seen about 40,000 miles, but not a disaster.  The really bad thing is that the back tang of the frame to which the derailleur attaches is badly mangled (see pic above).  The tang is a piece of aluminum which is bonded into the frame, and I'm afraid the frame itself will have to be repaired to replace the tang.  That means carbon fiber work.

The rest of the rig seems to have survived; the wheel is undamaged, the cassette looks okay, and the chain looks okay (although it was tweaked rather severely and I'll probably replace it when I replace the derailleur).  But I no longer have a working bike, and the frame repair is going to be expensive and time consuming if it can even be done.  Worst case, I may be looking at buying a whole new bike.  Yuck.

Not only would buying a new bike be expensive, but I love my bike.  Oh well, it is what it is... stay tuned for updates.  And watch out for coat hangers on the road!

[Update: Well, all's well that ends well; this story has a happy ending, and there's a lot to it; please click through to weird disaster recovery for links to all of it...]

 

Monday,  01/12/09  10:01 PM

Aside from my weird disaster with a coat hanger this afternoon, it was a pretty good day.  Warm and windy, wow.  Anything not nailed down is airborne.  And meanwhile it is all happening...

Feedback from my Twitter and Facebook publishing is trickling in...  can't say this is a huge success, but for certain people it is certainly nice, and there is no apparent downside.  Looking in my referer logs there are definitely a number of people clicking through from my Tweets and from Facebook.  So far, so good.

If nothing else I can now be more interesting at parties, "yeah, my blog posts automatically go to Twitter and Facebook, yeah, I'm so cool"...  :)

I'm still chewing on Scott Adam's question: Define Friend.  Clearly a tough concept to pin down.  Trust is definitely at the core.

SI: San Diego is dangerousThe vaunted Sport's Illustrated cover jinx strikes again; they no sooner publish "San Diego is dangerous" (at left) than the Bolts succumb to the Steelers.  It was a good game, but boo, we lost.  And the Titans had already won, so they AFC Championship would have been in San Diego.  Oh well, they had a good run.  And I did get to see them beat the Colts in overtime - from the front row :)

Obama's geeksThe Economist: Blessed are the geeks, for they will inherit the Earth.  "Barack Obama is making good his promise to welcome scientists into his administration."  Well, good.

An old article I missed from BusinessWeek: How Cloud Computing is Changing the World.  "A major shift in the way companies obtain software and computing capacity is under way as more companies tap into Web-based applications."  Indeed.  Aperio's new SecondSlide digital slide sharing network is an example.

Windows 7 logo - under construction :)Have you loaded Win7 yet?  I've upgraded the VM partition where I was playing with Win7 with the official Microsoft beta, and I still like it (the official beta doesn't seem much different).  It will be interesting to see how soon it becomes broadly available.  I might start investigating whether HP has compatible drives for my laptop...  Ars Technica have published a deep overview of Win7 which you might find useful...  it contains this worrying note: "Let's just cut to the chase here: Windows 7 is built on top of Windows Vista. It doesn't roll back the major changes that Vista made; it doesn't reduce system requirements, it doesn't undo security decisions like UAC, and, except for specific scenarios like booting, it doesn't really perform significantly better."  Huh, that hasn't been my experience so far...

Clyne Castle houses from "the 10 architectural wonders of 2008"From FastCompany: The 10 architectural wonders of 2008.  There's some really beautiful work in there, it isn't all abstract weirdness.  Amazing how innovative you can be with something as simple as designing a building!

Marshall Kirkpatrick says R.I.P Enterprise RSS.  But Brad Feld (investor in NewsGator) disagrees: Enterprise RSS is alive and well.  So, they're both right, sort of; Enterprise RSS is being widely used, but a lot of people are using free tools like Google Reader; it is dead as a big commercial market.

Rose Bowl regattaHere's a cool article on Sailing Anarchy about the Rose Bowl regatta, held at Alamitos Bay yacht club, my old stomping ground.  Brings back some great memories.  Hey, I was married right there, in that club; the closest thing I had to a church :)

Brazilian butterfliesHere you go, some gorgeous Brazilian butterflies.  As usual, click the thumbnail to enbiggen.  You're welcome :)

 

backlit Saturn

Tuesday,  01/13/09  11:34 PM

backlit Saturn

In the shadow of Saturn, unexpected wonders appear.  The robotic Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn recently drifted in giant planet's shadow for about 12 hours and looked back toward the eclipsed Sun.  Cassini saw a view unlike any other.
(click to enlarge amazingly)

Wow.  This could be the most beautiful picture yet taken by Cassini, among heavy competition.  Imagine looking out the window of your spacecraft, and seeing that.  I can't wait :)

 

 

 

Tuesday,  01/13/09  11:42 PM

I am the world's tiredest person...  (yawn)  This will not be my greatest post, I promise...

I am reasonably good at keeping myself awake while driving with a combination of coke, chocolate, and decibels.  Sometimes I pull over and get out of my car and walk around.  But tonight, the two-hour drive home from Vista was a struggle.  I made it, but barely.

Update on my weird disaster: it may be possible to repair the frame.  I am taking it to Nytro in Encinitas on Friday.  fXf!

Glenn Reynolds links Steven Green: Is Time rooting for Israel's defeat?  Seems like, yes, they are.  But as Glenn notes, "the real story is in the comments: 'Stephen,you are beating a dead horse…I picked up a copy of Time a few days ago…light as a feather.'"  Does anybody really know what time it is?

swivel mode bicycleswivel mode bicycle (folded)Cool; Inhabitat notes  a folding bike that really looks (and rides) like a bike.  "Designed by Mark Sanders, the Swivel Mode is one of Areaware’s latest offerings. It is designed for city use and easily folds to fit in car trunks, buses, and subway cars, making it perfect for the urban commuter. The two-speed bike weighs in at 27.5 pounds, and folds to a relatively compact 16.5in, x 9.8in x 29.4in."

electric Smart carApparently Tesla have licensed their battery technology to Daimler for use in the Smart car.  How excellent!  That really seems to make sense...

Robert Scoble once again tries to make the case for video blogging over text (and IMHO once again fails to do so).  Video has its place, but text is denser, easier to skim, easier to index, easier to search, easier to use.  IIWII...

From CNet: iTunes Plus: everything you need to know.  Aka getting rid of DRM forever.  Yay.

ZooBorn: baby gorillaZooBorn of the day: baby gorilla.

Good night.  (yawn)  I am reasonably good at keeping myself awake while blogging :)  ZZzzzz....

 

Wednesday,  01/14/09  10:51 PM

Today was really emotional; we attended the funeral of a friend killed by cancer.  It was a moving service, lots of good ideas about what matters and how to live your life.  People are at their best in the presence of death, friends act like friends, and the petty politics of daily life are set aside.  It is true, if you want to set your priorities, imagine your funeral, and what people will say about you.

...perhaps they will say of me, "he was a good blogger"...

Lance Armstrong's Trek MadoneJust want to thank my friend Peter for the generous loan of his bike, a spiffy Trek Madone (that's Mr. Armstrong pictured on his, at right); in the wake of my weird disaster I've ridden it the past couple of days and it has convinced me that aside from the cost, buying a new bike might not be so bad.  It does ride differently - stiffer and harsher - and I haven't gotten used to the shift-lag in the 10-speed Dura-ace cassette (my 9-speed is faster), but beggars can't be choosers and anyway a Madone is about the coolest bike going.  So I'll be riding the Stagecoach Century this Saturday on a "foreign" bike, that will be interesting...

It was nice and warm here in Southern California today, in the 70s, but not so elsewhere as Blowing snow and frigid temperatures pound nation.  "Arctic air extended its grip Wednesday with below-zero temperatures stretching from Montana to northern New England and frost nipping the Gulf Coast.  A few ski areas in Vermont and northern Minnesota closed for the day because of the cold - 38 below zero at International Falls, with the wind chill during the night estimated at 50 below."  And there I was, riding in the late afternoon in just a cycling jersey, quite comfortable...

Lasers in the snowWhich brings us to the photo of the day, a fleet of Laser sailboats nestled in the snow, courtesy of the Horse's Mouth.  Brrr...

PayPal's 10th birthday cakeScott Loftesness notes the U.K. Financial Services Club's celebration of PayPal's 10th birthday.  Wow, ten years.  It has been eight years since I left, seems more like eight hundred...

Robert Scoble: Steve Jobs' bad news heralds the real-time web age.  "Our mechanisms for tracking stories and important tweets are really lame. Right now, hours after the news has broken, there are TONS of tweets coming through the system. Hundreds every few minutes. But, in that stream of “noise” is there any 'news?'"  See, that proves it, even a dedicated Twitter-er like Robert admits the signal to noise is too low.  RSS was way better for following Jobs' announcement, and for assessing the reactions of the blogosphere (and for just about everything else).

Ottmar Liebert quotes Harold Pinter: "There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false."  To which I emailed, "A proposition cannot be true and false. It sounds like an interesting observation but it is actually vacuous."  To which Ottmar replied: "I think you are forgetting the fourth dimension.  A proposition is only true or false according to current information and perception.  As that information changes true might become the new false and vice versa.  So, a proposition can be true today and false tomorrow."  To which I say, good point!

 

dreamin' Orca

Thursday,  01/15/09  03:13 PM

So in the wake of my weird disaster I am pursuing having my Kestrel EMS 200 repaired, and that might be possible, but I am also bike shopping (!) and find myself dreamin' Orca:

Orbea Orca

Orbea Orca Dura Ace specsIsn't it beautiful?  This is the Orbea Orca, a 15.4lb carbon bike, with top of the line Shimano Dura Ace components, Mavic Ksyrium wheels, the works...   (specs at right)  ... oh and did I mention it's beautiful...  you don't see too many of these on the road.  And Samuel Sanchez won the Beijing gold medal on one of these, it is a serious performance bike.

Is this love or am I dreamin', is this the one, that I've been searching for?

 

Thursday,  01/15/09  10:51 PM

Greetings, all...  and there appear to be more of you, wiring my posts into Twitter and into Facebook seems to have encouraged some additional linkage and clickage...  excellent, and welcome...

So today was a good day, slept in, solved a tricky technical issue with SecondSlide's plumbing, and otherwise moved the world forward ever so slightly...  and did some work on a DICOM proposal I'm presenting in San Francisco on Monday.  It was a beautiful day here (sorry for those of you out East, I'm not gloating just stating a fact :) and I managed to enjoy it.

So let's see what's happening out in the blogos, shall we?

California Lottery logo - $14B to educationI have been ruminating on what I'm calling "the Lottery effect".  This is when there is something people do which benefits "everyone", even if "everyone" does not participate.  Playing in the Lottery is an example - everyone gets more funding for schools, even those of us who don't play - as is, making a lot of money (paying taxes) or discovering something useful (sharing an idea).  Philanthropy is definitely like this.  Overall it seems as if the more ways we have of leveraging the activities of a subset for everyone, the more valuable our society.  More as I have more...

MRFM microscopyWant to know how lame the NYTimes has become?  Check out this article, A breakthrough in Imaging - a new way to see a virus.  It describes an interesting new technique called MRFM which enables researchers to make extremely high resolution images of extremely small things like viruses.  So far so good.  But check out this correction: "Because of an editing error, an article and a headline on Tuesday about an advance in microscopy overstated the significance of the advance.  Researchers at IBM captured a three-dimensional image of a virus using, for the first time, a technique called magnetic resonance force microscopy; it was not the first time a three-dimensional image of a virus had been made.  The article also described the basic structure of the DNA molecule incorrectly. That structure is based on nucleotides, not proteins."  Riight, an editing error.  Really what we have here is that the reporter didn't know DNA is based on nucleotides instead of proteins, and didn't know (and couldn't be bothered to find out) whether this was the first time a 3D image of a virus had been captured.  Clearly the Times' readership educated the paper, and they subsequently posted a correction.  Sad, really.  And they didn't even run a relevant picture with the story!  They could have easily found IBM's press release and picked out a diagram of the MRFM in action, as I did above right.  Sad, really.

atmospheric CO2Want to learn about global warming?  Really?  Then check out Global Change and Energy: A Path Forward (PDF) by Paul Dimotakis in Caltech's Engineering & Science magazine.  He sets politics and sensationalism aside and honestly examines global warming from a scientific standpoint.  This is the best analysis I've read, by someone who really understands the underlying science.  (The punch line: global warming is real, it is exacerbated by human activity, and it isn't as bad as Al Gore thinks.)

Meanwhile, with crude oil at $35/barrel, giant supertankers brimming with oil are resting at anchor or slowly tracing racetrack patterns through the sea, heading nowhere, waiting for the price to rise.  "The ships are marking time, serving as floating oil-storage tanks. The companies and countries leasing them for that purpose have made a simple calculation: the price of oil has fallen so far that it is due for a rise."  Interesting, huh?  Just six months ago oil was nearly $150/barrel.  What will it be six months from now?

Carol Bartz, new Yahoo CEOSo I'll be the millionth person to note Carol Bartz being named as Yahoo's new CEO.  I have to believe this is a good thing, she has an excellent track record.  Several people I know who know Autodesk think she'll be successful.  I'm rooting for her, we all benefit from a healthy and innovative Yahoo competiting with Google and Microsoft.  Now we just need someone to lead AOL out of the woods...

Engadget has a nice comparison between all the smartphone vendors: What Apple could learn from Palm's webOS.  Despite the title they talk about RIM and Android also, and note what Palm can learn, too.

1958 Maserati 3500GTTTAC reviews the 1958 Maserati 3500GT.  This car was born the same time I was; I think it has aged better :)

 

Gorbachev and Louis Vuitton

Friday,  01/16/09  01:37 PM

This morning I was reading the New Yorker and came to the back cover ad, and it stopped me in my tracks:

Gorbachev and Louis Vuitton

Wow.  Here we have Mikhail Gorbachev riding in the back of a limo, Berlin Wall in the background, Louis Vuitton bag at his side; "returning from a conference".  Captioned: A journey brings us face to face with ourselves.  Obviously he sat for this picture and was [generously] compensated for it.

I think this is even more astonishing than the large Starbucks just inside the East side of the Brandenberg Gate.  Can there be any doubt who won the cold war?

(This is really an effective ad - makes me want to own that bag :)

 

riding the Stagecoach

Saturday,  01/17/09  08:30 PM

Peter's Trek - my mighty steedMore cylo-blogging; today I rode in the Stagecoach Century in Ocotillo, CA.  (That's East of San Diego, in the desert near Mexico.)  It was a wonderful event, if any of you ever want to try it I totally recommend it.  Great organization, good SAG everywhere, and a really nice ride surrounded by desert beauty.  Oh, and the weather was perfect, thanks to the organizers for arranging that!

I have to give a HUGE thank you to Peter Simons for the loan of his wonderful Trek Madone; in the wake of my weird disaster I am temporarily bikeless.  The more I ride it the more getting a new bike is getting mental traction :)

The Stagecoach Century is an out-and-back, so you can pick your distance; some people did 26 miles (turnaround at 13 mile stop), some 50 miles (turnaround at 25), some 90, and some 100.  There’s 4,700’ of climbing if you go the distance.  There were about 1,000 people total but it never felt crowded.

Stagecoach Century profile
the route profile - steady up on the way out, steady down back

And here for your viewing pleasure, some pictures from the ride...


mile 1: sun just up over Imperial Highway, 100 miles to go


mile 10: blasting along the desert at 26mph


mile 20: I pick up a nice paceline


mile 40: cresting a climb (wild descent to follow!)


mile 50: at the turnaround with my impromptu team


mile 65: heading back down as riders still coming up


mile 97: at the finish!

Overall it took me 5:30 of riding time and 5:45 elapsed.  I think I was around the 12th to finish, yay me.  That is the first time I've ever ridden a century in under 6 hours elapsed; must have been the pacelines I was able to join and the stops I didn't make :)

I have to relate a particularly delicious moment.  Towards the end I'm riding in a paceline with eight other riders, all strong, we're flying along, and at 15 miles to go we get to the last climb (see the route profile above).  It's about 500' at about 8%, enough to blow up the paceline.  A few guys attack and go up the road, the rest of us settle into a climbing pace.  I find my rhythm and start grinding people down.  One by one I move through my pack, and then pick up each of the attackers.  I get to the summit with a decent lead, and now we have 10 miles downhill to the finish.  Can I hang on?  I descend madly and power along the final straight into Ocotillo, and beat the next guy in by over two minutes.  It was great.

And so now I can watch football tomorrow, and eat to my heart's content...

 

Saturday,  01/17/09  09:40 PM

Kind of tired from the bike ride this morning, and from the long car ride back home afterward.  This could be short and sweet...

Science celebrates DarwinScience celebrates Darwin.  A nice collection of articles, backward and forward looking.  [ via Panda's Thumb ]

skating the canals in HollandWhile I was riding in the desert this morning, enjoying wonderful weather, not everyone was so lucky; the Arctic blast continues in the East and Mideast, and further afield the canals in Holland are frozen, for the first time in twelve years.  The only thing we Dutch like more than cycling is skating :)

Ann Althouse quotes the NYTimes: "I think those of us who voted for McCain are going to be a lot happier with Obama than the people who voted for him."  We'll see.  I think many of the people who voted for Obama are going to learn the truth of Oscar Wilde's observation that there are two tragedies in life, not getting what you want, and getting it...

Slashdot reports Windows 7's Media Hype Having the Opposite Effect as Vista's.  "Apparently a decent beta can succeed where $300 million and Jerry Seinfeld failed."  Ha.

Tim Bray ponders where to write.  "...maybe not so much on Twitter.  I’ve been blogging less recently, and there’s no doubt that some of the writing energy has gone into Twitter."  Let me tell you, shifting blogging energy to Twittering is a waste.  You might as well talk to your cat.  140 characters at a time.

lightlaneThis is really cool: a laser bike light that paints a bike lane around you.

Russell Beattie notes the 500M iPhone app downloads: didn't see that one coming.  Me, neither.

Want to make some money?  Belkin is paying 65 cents for good reviews on Amazon and NewEgg.  Disgusting.  I like Belkin products, but this would make me actively avoid them.  Ha, pay me 65 cents for that!

...good night, y'all...  see you tomorrow...

 

2009 California cycling schedule

Sunday,  01/18/09  10:08 PM

I just received an email from Chuck Bramwell, the über-meister of the California Triple Crown, and the 2009 schedule of events has been posted.  Those are all Double Centuries, there is also a smattering of Centuries and Ultra-Centuries.  So in the public interest, here is...  (the yellow divider is "now"; I actually rode the events in green above this line, and I intend to ride the events in green below the line.)

The 2009 California cycling calendar
updated 10/18/09

dateeventdistanceelevationlocation

01/10/09

PCH Randos 200K Brevet

124

3,000

Ventura

01/17/09

Stagecoach Century

100

4,700

Ocotillo

01/24/08

Janus Century day 1+2

2 x 100

Thousand Oaks

02/07/08

PCH Randos 300K Brevet

185

7,200

Ventura

02/08/09

Breakaway from cancer

50

Thousand Oaks

02/21/09

Camino Real Double*+

200

8,800

Irvine

02/28/09

Death Valley Spring Double*

200

9,000

Death Valley

03/14/09

Solvang Spring Century

100

5,000

Solvang

03/28/09

Solvang Spring Double*+

200

7,200

Solvang

04/04/09

Spring Stagecoach Century

100

4,700

Ocotillo

04/11/09

Mulholland Double*+

200

16,470

Calabasas

04/11/09

Mulholland Challenge**

109

12,000

Calabasas

04/11/09

Midnight Express

50

7,000

Acton

04/18/09

Devil Mountain Double*

200

18,600

San Ramon

04/25/08

SLOBC Wildflower Ride

100

6,500

San Luis Obispo

05/02/09

Breathless Agony**

114

12,000

Redlands

05/09/09

Cruising the Conejo

100

6,000

Thousand Oaks

05/09/09

Central Coast Double*

200

14,000

Paso Robles

05/16/09

Encinitas Bicycle Tour

103

 

Encinitas

05/16/09

Davis Double*

200

8,400

Davis

05/23/09

Heartbreak Double*+

202

15,500

Palmdale

05/23/09

Heartbreak Hundred**

100

8,500

Palmdale (part of Double)

05/30/09

Ojai Valley Century

100

5,000

Ojai

06/06/09

Eastern Sierra Double*+

200

12,000

Bishop

06/13/09

Alta Alpina Challenge*

200

20,300

Markleeville

06/20/09

Terrible Two Double*

200

16,480

Sebastopol

06/27/09

Grand Tour Double*

200

8,500

Malibu

07/11/09

Death Ride

129

15,000

Markleeville

08/01/09

Mount Tam Double*

200

14,500

San Rafael

08/15/09

Cool Breeze Double Metric

128

8,500

Ventura

09/05/09

Son of Death Ride

132

19,000

Ridgecrest

09/12/09

High Sierra Century

100

5,500

Mammoth

09/12/09

Everest Challenge

2 - 206

29,000

Bishop

09/19/09

Knoxville Double*

200

12,600

Vacaville

09/26/09

White Mountain Double*

200

10,700

Bishop

09/27/09

Lighthouse Century

100

4,700

San Luis Obispo

10/03/09

Furnace Creek 508

2 - 508

35,000

Valencia - Twentynine Palms

10/03/09

Angeles Crest Century

100

11,000

La Canada

10/03/09

Hemet Double*

200

7,800

Hemet

10/10/09

Bass Lass Powerhouse Double*

200

11,700

Clovis

10/17/09

Solvang Autumn Double*+

200

10,300

Solvang

10/18/09

New Moon Century

100

6,500

Oak Park

10/24/09

Death Valley Fall Double*

200

9,100

Death Valley

 

11/07/09

Borrego Ordeal Double*

200

14,900

Anza Borrego

11/14/09

Solvang Fall Century

100

4,900

Solvang

* - part of California Triple Crown series (need three or five) - currently have five - did it!...
** - part of King of the Mountains series (need all three) - and got all of them!
*+ - part of Grand Slam series (need four) - currently have five- did it!...

You're welcome!  I will try to keep this up-to-date, if you have additions or corrections, please let me know...

 

changes in banking

Sunday,  01/18/09  11:08 PM

Want to see something pretty incredible?  Check out this infographic from Wachovia Securities, comparing the banking industry in January 2007 to January 2009.  The size of each bubble is proportional to the market cap of each bank.

changes in banking - 2007 to 2009

I wonder how much of the difference is due to decreases in the value of their lending portfolios, particularly mortgages, versus a decrease in consumer confidence and market values in general?

 

Sunday,  01/18/09  11:19 PM

Super Bowl XLIIIHad a nice quiet day, my girls are all gone (shopping in Santa Barbara!) and had some friends over to watch football.  We were rooting for the Cardinals, who won (yay), and for the Ravens, who didn't (boo).  Both good games.  The Super Bowl will be pretty interesting, a study in contrasts.  The key will be whether Arizona's offense can move the ball against Pittsburgh's defense.  My heart says yes, but my head says no :)

One of the important issues we discussed today while consuming vast quantities of chips, dip, and beer, was whether the Pro Bowl shouldn't be played right after the conference championships, the week before the Super Bowl.  We decided yes (please tell the league office).  Of course that means nobody playing the Super Bowl would play in the Pro Bowl, but that's okay; having a game to watch in that "dead" weekend would be good.  Right now everyone cares about who is selected for the Pro Bowl, but nobody cares about the game or watches it.

The rehabilitation of George Bush is well under way, as people realize 1) Obama is going to have to do many of the same things Bush did, for many of the same reasons, and 2) people realize that blaming everything on Bush didn't work.  Sisu nails it: To trash Bush was to belong.  I'm not a huge fan of Bush but I thought he wasn't nearly as bad nor nearly as guilty as many people did, particularly in the mainstream media.

Sully Sullenberger is [justifiably] a hero (he was the captain of flight 1549 who piloted the plane into the Hudson River after it encountered a flock of birds just after takeoff), but FuturePundit points out he's also a genius.  "Innate intellectual ability matters a great deal. A dumber society will be a more accident-prone and less safe society."  Exactly why I'm so worried about Unnatural Selection...

Incidentally, since deciding that this year I have to focus myself on my book, I've told a number of people about it, and have condensed "what is it about" to this: the world is getting dumber.  When people ask why, I answer because dumb people have more kids than smart ones.  That isn't the whole story but it resonates; people "get it" right away.

I saw a billboard yesterday with the caption "do you leak urine?"  Now c'mon, do we have to see that?  Eew.  How do you explain that to a kid?  There are like five people who care about that problem, and zero of them are going to call an 800 number because of some billboard.  [ ...here it is... ]

Plaxo logoSo I wired my blog posts into Twitter, and that was good, and I wired Twitter into Facebook, and that was better; and now I've wired Twitter into Plaxo.  Can't hurt, right?  I'm beginning to realize just how non-universal use of RSS really is.  A lot of people like being notified about new posts this way...

Floyd LandisYou all know how I think Floyd Landis was innocent, right?  (He won the 2007 Tour de France, then was found guilty of "doping" on stage 17 because the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone in his bloodstream was too high.)  Well you can take my word for it, or not, but you also might like to read Floyd Landis and the Magic Water Bottle, Part I, Part II, and Part III, posted by Oliver Starr, a former professional bike racer.  Dead on, IMHO.

The other day I rediscovered the utility of "hard links" in NTFS.  You do know about hard links, right?  No?  Well then you can read Jameser's Tech Tips and learn all about it, like I did...

Finally, want to know how to build a great UI?  Avoid annoying the user.  That's it.  Easier said than done, unfortunately, users annoy easily...

 

room with a view

Monday,  01/19/09  11:02 PM

So today I found myself in the Carnelian Room, top floor of 555 California, fka BofA Center, overlooking San Francisco, accompanied by a delightful Pinot.  It was a perfect day, stunning really, with gorgeous views in every direction.

After drinking my fill of the Pinot and the view, I sat down to a magnificent dinner of roasted white asparagus and rare venison, paired with Duckhorn Merlot and capped with a chocolate soufflé.

And you may ask yourself, "how did I get here?"

 

Monday,  01/19/09  11:23 PM

Whew, tired; flew up to San Francisco this morning, participated in a DICOM standards committee meeting (tedious, but productive), enjoyed a wonderful view from the Carnelian Room, and flew back.  All while wearing a tie :)

Thirteen - kindle editionI'm reading Richard Morgan's Thirteen, which is great.  He has become one of my favorite authors.  Altered Carbon was a classic, but he's proven he's not a onetrick pony.  Thirteen takes place in a plausible future and there's this woman Sevgi Ertekin who takes "syn"; some kind of vitamin supplement thing which sharpens her senses and, um, improves her performance.  Depending on the day, it hits her differently, heightens her awareness in different ways.  And it occurred to me I take "syn" too; only I call it "music".  Today my soundtrack was power ballads: Europe, Styx, Scorpions, Bon Jovi...  Excellent stuff.

One thing I like about Morgan's writing is that he chooses alternate words for things to give an exotic feel; in thirteen he uses "actual" instead of "real".  Characters go in and out of "virtualities", then return to the actual world.  Very effective, actually :)

I continue to love my Kindle, especially but not exclusively for travel; people ask me about it wherever I go.  There are a lot of people who read out there :)  BTW I find the airline people treat it like a book and let you use it during taxiing taking off landing etc.

kestrel disasterThe news regarding my weird disaster is not good; I haven't found anyone who thinks they can repair my Kestrel's frame.  Apparently the Kestrel dropouts are no longer made, and replacing them would be difficult, expensive, and probably result in a poorly performing bike.  Unbelievable.  I am excited about the idea of getting a new bike, but not excited that a freak encounter with a coat hanger will cost me thousands of dollars.  Stay tuned :(

long exposure: beach road at nightFifteen stunning examples of long exposure photography.  Indeed stunning.

Brad Feld finally tells us what he meant: the knives all your salespeople should have.  Basically, provide customers with both capex and opex ways to buy.  Oh.

John Gruber links Matt Taibbi who rips the NYTimes: Flat N All That.  "How can any single person be in three holes at once?  If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three?  How does that even begin to make sense?"  It doesn't even begin.

A phrase I like: "beyond useless".  Could be the subject of a future post.  Could be.  Stay tuned :)

I think this applies to the majority of iPhone apps, and the majority of blog posts which discuss iPhone apps.

I like the word "actual"...

 

Tuesday,  01/20/09  11:26 PM

One of those long days where I got up with the worms and go to sleep with the moon.  Kind of a quiet day...  and I'm exhausted.  You may find this post makes even less sense than usual :)

Obama sworn inSo we have a new President.  Yippee!  Congratulations to Mr. Obama; although I didn't vote for him I am totally rooting for him to be an excellent President.  He starts off with just about everyone on his side; Congress, the MSM, most Americans, and most people around the world, too.  Let's hope all that optimism can be translated into forward movement on the economy and other related problems like health care costs and alternative energy development.

Dave Winer: By dawn's early tweet.  "My first tweet of the day, unedited: 'Really feeling unhinged this morning. There was some security in GWB's mediocrity. Now, there won't be an excuse, it' s now - not later.'  It's true.  I've had an unsettled feeling.  Can't deny it, can't wish it away."  This is so true; ever since the really bad economic news started in late summer, we've all been waiting for a new President to turn things around.  Now we have one, and it's on.

So; an update on my weird disaster.  I found a place which can repair the Kestrel frame!  RR Velo in Watsonville, CA.  I spoke with Edgar Chavez the owner after emailing him pictures of the disaster; he has a machine shop and can make a new dropout, and he builds custom carbon frames so he can repair the old frame.  Yippee.  So I had the bike delivered to my local bike shop where they're stripping all the components off the frame, then shipping it to RR Velo.  After the frame is repaired it will be mailed back, the shop will reassemble it, and install a new derailleur in the back.  Should take about four weeks...  whew.  (And Murphy is not to be ignored, so stay tuned :)

Since I am bikeless and of course had to ride today, I rented a Cannondale from Laguna Cyclery and rode a little 25-miler through the Laguna Hills.  Really nice bike (!) and really nice ride.  Wow, the more I ride other newer bikes, the more I think maybe a new bike would be cool.  But I am definitely going to repair the old one if I can.

Throw your hard drive away, Google's Gdrive is arriving in 2009.  "Google Drive, or Gdrive as it is better known, has to be the most anticipated Google product so far. When it arrives, Gdrive will likely cause a major paradigm shift in how we use computers and bring Google one step closer to dethroning Windows on your desktop."  Huh, we'll see.  I predict it will be a dancing bear, cool enough for demos, but not fast enough for real work.

Weird idea of the day: Forget Yahoo, Microsoft should buy Palm.  I don't follow this logic at all.  Yahoo and Palm are very different companies; I think you have to evaluate each on its own merit.  It isn't like you have to buy one, or couldn't buy both.  Personally I think Microsoft is way more interested in competing against Google (buy Yahoo) than against Apple and RIM (buy Palm).

Wind power: old and newAn awesome picture: 19th Century vs 21st Century Wind Power.

ZooBorn: baby stingrayAnd the ZooBorn of the day: stingray baby!

 

Wednesday,  01/21/09  11:44 PM

Rotten day.  Up early, tired, couldn't get anything "done", to-do list kept expanding.  Wasted time on frivolity and regretted it.  Tried to ride my way out of it, but then had a crummy dinner.  Blech.

The only bright spot in my day was reading Thirteen over dinner.  I'm really enjoying it.  Also discovered yet another virtue of the Kindle; in a dim restaurant you can make the font larger.  Try that with a book!

Brock Tully spreads kindness on his bikeBrock Tully spreads goodwill on solo cycling trips.  Good for him.  "Most importantly, I need to be the change I want to see in the world."

In case it is of use, and so I can find it later: Fifty extremely useful PHP tools.  One of the great things about using PHP is that you're not the only one.

The New Yorker find more good news about red win: Mouse au vin.  "Red wine may be much more potent than was thought in extending human lifespan, researchers say in a new report that is likely to give impetus to the rapidly growing search for longevity drugs."  Excellent.  Bad times call for good wines.

Obama fixing healthcareSo, we have a new President, and he wants to "fix" healthcare.  What should he do?  The problem is Getting There from Here.  A great overview, it asks more questions than it answers, but at least they're the right ones...

Reminds me of The New New Thing, Michael Lewis' great book about Jim Clark, who at that time had just started Healtheon, which was formed to "fix heathcare".  That company busted its pick on the problem; it had a successful IPO in 1999 and merged with WebMD, but it never "fixed healthcare".

Apple just announced record results for 08Q4, and COO Tim Cook noted "AppleTV sales were up three times what they were during the year-ago quarter".  They still describe the Apple TV as a hobby, but Cook noted, "We think there’s something there."  Prompting John Gruber to observe: "Double here, triple there, and next thing you know they’re going to have something. You wait and see."  I think that's right.  In my house we've all but stopped going to Blockbuster, and Netflix never really got any traction.  The AppleTV definitely hits the spot.

 

bad news bear

Thursday,  01/22/09  08:26 AM

ripples in a pondThis is a time of bad news.  Not only high-level wow-that's-horrible-but-it-doesn't-directly-affect-me bad news, like the war in the Middle East, but low-level man-I-don't-have-a-job-anymore-can't-pay-my-bills bad news.  More companies are laying off more people than ever; and everyone who loses their job is like a ripple in a pond; their bad news spreads to those around them.   The bad news could be affecting you, your family and friends, your neighbors, your colleagues.  So how do we handle it?

We focus on the stuff that isn't bad news; our health, our spouses and kids, our friends, the sun shining or rain falling.  We pay attention to beauty, to timeless things like stories and art.  We look for reasons to be optimistic; even an unprecedented time of bad news must end someday, and there must be good news woven through the bad.  We focus on ourselves instead of our environmentHappiness comes from liking yourself.  Our circumstances are a big part of how we see ourselves, and so when our circumstances change, we see ourselves differently, and that can change our happiness.  But we adapt.

Some of us introspect, some ponder, some of us blog :)

 

winds of change

Friday,  01/23/09  08:34 AM

winds of change

so be it

 

lust or love

Friday,  01/23/09  05:45 PM


Orbea Orca carbon build

This afternoon I tooled out to Camarillo Bike Company and test rode an Orbea Orca.  You know when you meet a new friend, sometimes it all seems easy, and you're surprised how comfortable you feel, and the awkwardness of a new relationship just melts away?  That's how it was for me.  This bike weighs 15lbs, it is stiff and solid, and it climbs like an elevator.  But it handles bumps and rough road easily and smoothly, and descends solidly and felt rock steady at 40mph.  After ten minutes I felt more comfortable than I've ever felt on any bike, including my nine-year-old Kestrel (on which I've put about 40,000 miles).  And ... well, it is beautiful, lithe curves and sensuous lines; pictures don't do it justice.  The kind of beauty you can't stop looking at :)  The one I rode had white trim, but afterward I went to the Orbea website and configured a custom order, I'm thinking I like the carbon gray color best.  (Although I must admit that blue is beautiful...)

Orca replaceable derailleur hangerThe design and workmanship of this machine is impressive.  And did I mention it has a removable derailleur hanger on the dropout?  Now there's a good idea...

So even while I am in the middle of having my Kestrel repaired (recovering from my weird disaster), I'm strongly considering a new relationship.  Not sure yet if this is lust or love, but I'm enjoying it so far :)

 

Friday,  01/23/09  06:10 PM

Whew, a tough couple of days...  I continue to feel surrounded by bad news, and the walls are closing in.  I'm trying to stay positive but it has been tough.  What seems to work best is reaching out to friends (you know who you are :)  And of course riding.  And listening to music.  And reading.  And hugging my kids, and sharing a glass of wine with Shirley.  And ... and blogging!

ripples in pondSo it wasn't just me?  Dave Winer asks Why was yesterday a Blue Thursday?  His answer: "For most of us it's no longer Yes We Can, it's Yes We Did.  It's not Change You Can Believe In, any more - instead The Change Happened Now Get Back To Your Life."  That might be the answer for many, but I don't think it explains me.  Still, it might explain the people around me, and their ripples might have spread...

Bad news, cont.: GE profit down 46%.  Although they are making a profit, and paying a dividend.  So maybe that would count as good news in these times.

One [potential] way to deal with bad news: Scott Adams asks where's my rewind button?  I've had this thought myself.  A pause button would be handy, too...

VC David Hornik ponders whether VCs will continue to suspend disbelief.  His answer is yes, because they have to.  Interesting!

Instapundit channels Margaret Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money."  As he would say, heh.  Seems like we're on course to do just that, soon.

Wow, check this out, from Slate: Human Nature: The Temptation of Totalitarian Birth Control.  "In a modern society, no government could really enforce a cap on family size, could it?  Sure it could."  Well, China can anyway, but could you consider that a "modern society"?  There is no democracy anywhere which could do this.  Yet.

Floyd Landis prepares to come backUSA Today: Landis, free to compete, prepares for California comeback.  Woo hoo, I can't wait.  Lance says "Floyd is a friend of mine, he's a former teammate and he has a lot of fans.  I've heard that he's riding well.  From a sporting perspective he'll be strong there (California)."  The TOC stage up Mount Palomar will have some fireworks for sure.

Check this out: Man kills wife for changing facebook status to single.  I just checked and mine wasn't set.  It is now.  To "married" :)

Classic: Hymenomics.  [ via Althouse ]

Mac 1984 adI missed this; yesterday was January 22, 2009, which means it was the 25th anniversary of the Mac 1984 superbowl ad.  Wow.  I remember seeing that ad broadcast live!  Who even knew what it was about, it was so weird, so different.

South Carolina Senator wants to ban profanity.  I'd say he's fucked, but that would be illegal.

I've started a collection I call "beyond useless".  It contains things that not only have no value, but waste your time and hence have negative value.  Into this collection I place blog posts consisting of Tweets, and most especially blog posts about Tweets.  (Not sure about blog posts about blog posts about Tweets, because that would include this one, and I am hesitant to create a self-referential loop.  If there is a black pit on your screen instead of these words, you know what happened :)  A shining example would be any analysis of re-tweeting.  No links, and before you Google for it, remember, beyond useless.

 

25 years ago

Saturday,  01/24/09  08:04 PM

Twenty-five years ago, a new age dawned...  and it was insanely great...

25 years ago... Macintosh introduced!

I remember this so well - the sense that something new had happened, a window into a new world that suddenly existed, full of possibilities...  And you have to love Steve Jobs; even twenty-five years ago, he was the consummate showman.

Of course I pulled out Hen3ry, my trusty Mac/SE, and booted him up to celebrate.  Beep!  No problem, came right up with his cheery little gray-and-white screen.

Hen3ry!

I showed Megan, and she asked whether "it worked"?  I said sure, go ahead and play with it.  "Where's the Internet?"  Ha.  Remember when computers were stand-alone?  Yeah, those were the days.  In fact Hen3ry used to have a Radius full-screen page monitor attached (long-since dead), and was used every day for word processing.  I *still* have the Apple LaserWriter I used too, and it still works.

[ Update: Dave Winer ponders What made the Mac different.  A nice post, I'd forgotten all the ways in which the Mac was different, but it certainly was... ]

 

embedding YouTubes

Sunday,  01/25/09  11:32 AM

<nerdy optional=completely>

In the public interest (and so I can find it later), I thought I'd reveal how I embed YouTube videos.  YouTube makes this really easy, and they take you almost all the way there, but not quite quite.

If you view a video on the YouTube site, you'll notice at the upper right they have an Embed text box with the HTML you have to insert in a page to play that video.  You can configure the size, whether to include a border, the color, and so on...  really nice.  But just sticking this HTML into your page this isn't exactly what you want, because what you really want is to display an image first which, when clicked, causes the YouTube video to play.  This is prettier for people who visit the page itself, and much prettier for people who read the page via RSS readers and so on which may not know what to do with embedded videos.

Okay, so how is this done?  Well first make the image; generally edited from a screenshot of the YouTube video, but it can be any image at all.  And then insert the following HTML into the page:

  1. <center>
  2. <img id="ytimg"  src="img_url.jpg" style="cursor: pointer"
  3.     onclick='ytimg.style.display="none"; ytvid.style.display="inline"'>
  4. <div id="ytvid" style="display: none">
  5. <object width="640" height="505">
  6. <param name="movie"
  7.     value="http://www.youtube.com/v/G0FtgZNOD44&hl=en&fs =1&autoplay=1" />
  8. <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" />
  9. <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always" />
  10. <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/G0FtgZNOD44&hl=en&fs=1&autoplay=1"
  11.     type="app lication/x-shockwave-flash"
  12.     allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"
  13.     width="640" height="505" />
  14. </object>
  15. </div>
  16. </center>

The numbers are so I can refer to the lines.  The brown text is what you get from YouTube's Embed text string.  You start by copying that in, and then add the rest.  Some notes:

Line 1/16 are optional if you want to center the whole thing.
Line 2 includes the image; the src= parameter gives the image URL.  Note pointing hand cursor.
Line 3 is what happens when you click; the image is hidden and the video is displayed.
Line 4/15 are a <div> surrounding the video; this is what you enable.
Line 7 and 10 add &autoplay=1 to the video URLs so the video plays immediately.

One more note: for more than one of these on a page, use unique id= values for the <img> and <div> tags, and modify the onlick= JavaScript accordingly...

</nerdy>

 

Sunday,  01/25/09  01:05 PM

A mid-day Sunday post... why not?  Last night I took a long hard ride in the rain and fog and cold on my mountain bike, and it was great.  I really need cycling right now, it is so simple: you get on your bike, you ride, you have fun, you feel good afterward, and it keeps you fit.  What could be better?  Otherwise a pretty quiet day, cold and rainy, spent some time coding, trying to programmatically clean up and analyze some study data...

ChumbyI have a friend with a Chumby; he really like it, and apparently has it set to display RSS feeds when he wakes up.  Sometimes the first thing he sees in the morning is the last thing I posted the night before.  Wow, now there's some pressure; post something interesting for people to read when they wake up.  Perhaps they'll read this...

Kay YowDon't know why but this really hit me: Kay Yow loses battle with cancer.  One of the most successful college basketball coaches ever, she battled breast cancer for 22 years, and finally lost.  So inspiring!  Makes me want to do whatever I can to help others like Kay Yow win.

ESPN counts down college football's most prestigious programs (since 1936, when the AP poll was started).  #1 is Oklahoma, #2 USC, #3 Ohio State, #4 Notre Dame, #5 Nebraska.  That seems pretty right to me.  Obviously in the last decade USC is #1 and Notre Dame has been shot out the back, but it was not always so.  Certainly a good subject for a bar debate :)

bank market capsMore bank news; the infographic at left compares the market caps of various banks between Q2 2007 (blue) and Q1 2009 (yellow).  Wow.  The second big circle in the top row is Royal Bank of Scotland; the biggest circle on the bottom is Citibank.  The bank that's shrunk the least is Spain's Santander.  And this of course only includes banks which still exist. [ via Gary on Facebook ]

Still noodling over Scott Adam's Define Friend.  I've decided it really comes down to trust, someone who will share your interests in the future.

Lexus LS600hLTTAC reviews the Lexus LS600hL.  "To reality check my impressions, I floored it.  And backed off.  And pressed a couple of buttons.  And floored it.  And backed off.  And then it hit me: the LS600h L has the world’s finest automobile engine."  The interior is spectacular, too, and the electronic toys like the GPS are top-of-the-line.  I'm not in the market for a new car (who is?) but if I were, I'd definitely consider this one.

Carizzo Plain - San Andreas faultRandall Parker says SoCal overdue for Carrizo Plain earthquake.  Great, that's just what we need right now, a disastrous earthquake.  I've actually visited the Carrizo Plain, it's beautiful, although I must tell you it is a bad place to have a flat tire :)  You can see the San Andreas fault quite plainly, it runs right down the middle...

Allan Davis wins in Tour Down UnderCongratulations to Allan Davis, winner of the Tour Down Under.  Yesterday he won his third stage of the eight-day tour, pretty much wrapping things up.  Of course the big news in this tour has been Lance Armstrong's return to competitive stage racing.  What I found interesting is that while Lance was right in there - competitive as always - you realize that he doesn't win everything each time he gets on the bike, and he has bad days just like everybody else.  I must tell you I can't wait for the Tour of California!

From PCWorld: The Seven Worst tech Predictions of All Time.  They are pretty bad, including "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers", and "there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home".

Robert Scoble reports FriendFeed hits one million users.  Huh, FriendFeed?  I have a FriendFeed account, but I don't get it.  Yet another Web 2.0 social network thing that I don't get - once again it seems there's no there there.  Really the only one of these sites I get is Facebook.  It might be hopeless for me, but I keep trying...  old dog, new trick, etc.

 

stay hungry, stay foolish

Sunday,  01/25/09  08:09 PM

I shared Steve Jobs' classic introduction of the Macintosh from 1984 with my colleagues at Aperio, and one of them pointed me to this YouTube video, Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005.  I had read excerpts from this speech but never seen it.  Some great wisdom and emotion packed into just 15 minutes.  I found it inspiring, and I hope you do too.

PS it is especially poignant given his current medical issues...

 

Monday,  01/26/09  10:16 PM

In Vista today, and it is cold...  did a ride tonight on my mountain bike (you'll remember my road bike is being repaired in the wake of my weird disaster) and basically froze the whole way.  Spent most of the day coding in PowerPoint :)  You can get it to do almost anything, but some things are easier than others...

Well, let's make a filter pass, shall we?

"he who rides quietly, sees much"Tonight I was listening to Santana, selected by my philosopher iPod, and it reminded me of riding in the Netherlands back in May.  It was much warmer then, but I was riding a clunky cruiser I'd rented there, and riding my mountain bike on the street brought back the memories.  One nice thing about clunky bikes is you have a built in excuse to take it easy, so you can cruise without pushing yourself.  The Dutch sign at left notes "he who rides quietly sees much".  I'm still one of their kind...

HD tour of the ISSSupercool: An HD tour of the International Space Station, conducted by Commander Mike Fincke.  This is not a movie, this is real (although it looks like a movie :).  Amazing.  And how nice is it that we can have this sort of tour without military censorship or anything like that; fifteen nations are involved in the ISS, and people from everywhere can view these videos.  [ via Slashdot ]

25 years of the MacWired ran a great timeline picture: 25 years of the Mac.  (click to enbiggen amazingly.)  Of all the stuff in that picture, all the great products etc., the thing that stands out the most is the [original] iMac.  That turned the company around, and everything since is history.

I love Wired, but I noticed this too: Wired's February issue is three millimeters thin.  A sign of the times, I'm afraid.  Noticed the same thing about the latest issue of Sports Illustrated; despite the upcoming Superbowl it is a slim vestige of its former self, due to the dearth of ads of course.  I hope Wired and Sports Illustrated make it; they're both examples of things print media can do that online cannot.

gigapan image of inaugerationAs an aficionado of giant images, I had to note this: Gigapan Imager used to craft 1,474 megapixel image of Obama's inauguration.  Very cool.

Eric Raymond: The Sound of Empire Falling.  "Microsoft’s valuable Windows franchise appears vulnerable after two decades of dominance.  Revenue for the company’s Windows operating system fell for the first time in history in the last quarter of 2008.  The popularity of Linux, a free operating system installed on many netbooks instead of Windows, forced Microsoft to lower the prices on its operating system to compete."  A classic Christensonian attack from below?

Related: David Hornik pleads Enterprise Software is not Dead Yet.  While reports of its death may be exaggerated, that "yet" in David's title tells you he knows how the story ends.

 

cat run (New Yorker 1/26/09)

Tuesday,  01/27/09  10:11 PM

 

"cat run"

 

I love it
(and so does my cat Reggie, who is in the "run" position just now)

 

 

Tuesday,  01/27/09  10:23 PM

Another ice cold day in San Diego, brrr...  and another ice cold ride on the ol' mountain bike.  Today I spent 1/3 of my time in PowerPoint, 1/3 in Excel, and 1/3 in meetings.  And 0% doing "real" work :)

I'm starting to settle into the reality of 2009, new economy, new President, new [massively lowered] expectations.  Everyone is hunkered down riding out the storm, mentally and in all other ways.  I sense it in my colleagues, my friends, my family.  We're all waiting it out, waiting for a patch of blue sky that indicates a change in the weather.  But all the indications are that it might be a year or two or more. 

Meanwhile, the blogosphere continues to churn...

Williams Cycling TOC climbing stage previewI'm getting ready for the Tour of California; riding Palomar with a couple of friends this Saturday in fact.  Williams Cycling have posted a terrific overview of all the climbing stages in the tour (including stage 8, which features Palomar).  Check it out!

So now we have a bill which would mandate an audible click on all cameras and cell phones.  How stupid is that?  As Ann Althouse notes, "Why not require every man to wear a bell around his neck... in case he might sneak up on a child?"

'immortal' jellyfishThis is a pretty cool evolutionary strategy: 'Immortal' jellyfish swarming across the world.  "The Turritopsis Nutricula is able to revert back to a juvenile form once it mates after becoming sexually mature.  Marine biologists say the jellyfish numbers are rocketing because they need not die."  What an awesome payoff, adults who successfully reproduce become young again, so they can reproduce some more!

HDR-like images of beachHere we have twenty photographs that look like HDR, but aren't...  Whether HDR or not, they are amazingly beautiful.  Hard to believe they aren't enhanced in some way, huh?

Western Digital 2TB hard driveYou knew it was only a matter of time: Western Digital announces 2TB hard drive (for $299).  Wow, that's about 10,000 digital slides.  Amazing the advances in computer storage, the price performance there just keeps getting better geometrically.

 

Wednesday,  01/28/09  11:51 PM

I'm feeling a bit better about things - yeah, I've been kind of depressed, and thanks to all of you who emailed or called with concern - but I've been working on some cool stuff, and that helped, and did a fun ride with a friend today, capped by a cappuccino, and that helped, and attended a seminar at my kids' school tonight for fathers with daughters, and that really helped. 

And meanwhile it's all happening...

Floyd Landis is readyI've written a bit about Floyd Landis lately; Cycling News ran a nice article about him (don't call it a comeback).  "The countdown to the end of the suspension of Floyd Landis is nearly over. After two years, the American who once stood atop the Tour de France podium returns to a changed sport as a different person."  It will really be interesting to see how well he does, after two years out of racing and with a lesser team.

first down yellow line computer systemFanDome: The mystery of the yellow line.  Who knew it was so complicated?

 

Offline GMail launched.  This I want to check out.  Not saying it is ready to replace Outlook yet, but it is getting closer...  CNet helpfully posted a guided tour...

AVP: Apple vs PalmSo Apple has threatened to enforce their multitouch patents, and everyone sees this as targeting Palm.  BW saysthis makes Palm the "scrappy underdog" of 2009.  (I guess that was meant as a compliment.)  I have to give Engadget full credit for their overview of the situation, including the awesome Alien vs Predator graphic :)  {get it, A vs. P?}  I honestly can't see Apple blocking Palm from launching the Pre; let the market decide!

And speaking of Apple, what happened to iPhone push notifications?  "We put in a call to Apple to find out the reason why, but unless you’re new to this whole scene you won’t exactly be flabbergasted to hear that the company was about as communicative as your average sullen teenager."

Meanwhile the Pre of course features a full multitasking environment in which no push notifications are necessary; everything can pull whatever it needs whenever it needs it.  That could be a pretty compelling advantage...

SpaceShipOne cockpit view during flightSpaceShipOne cockpit view during flight.  Wow.  That's just about all I can say.  (click to enbiggen.)

ZooBorn: baby giraffeZooBorn of the day: a baby giraffe!

 

Thursday,  01/29/09  10:40 PM

Today I finished something!  That calls for a celebration.  And furthermore it was the highest priority thing on my todo list.  After celebrating for six minutes with a Diet Coke, it was on to the next thing.  But it did feel good.

The other day while in San Francisco I rented a car, and discovered I'd allowed my driver's license to expire (!)  So today I dutifully trudged down to my local DMV office prepared to spend hours waiting in a bureaucratic nightmare.  Guess what?  It wasn't bad... they have the line management well organized, the people were helpful and efficient, and I walked out with a temporarily license.  Yay, could have been much worse...

Huh, seems boys with unpopular names more likely to break law.  While "Ole" is unusual, I'm not sure it is unpopular.  Huh :)

Nassim Nicholas Taleb's (the Black Swanrules for surviving in an unpredictable world.  I need to work on #6, "Learn to fail with pride - and do so fast and cleanly."  I fail without pride, it takes me a long time, and leaves a big mess :)

groundhog day... trapped in timeSo with Groundhog Day fast approaching (Feb 2), Slate asks the important question: How do you know whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow?  (BTW, "Candlemas"?  who knew?)

cool clock for geeksGadget lust: this clock for geeks.  Oh please oh please oh please, I want one!

So Google Search is still growing.  Wow.  A colleague pointed out something interesting about their dominance; because they have [much] higher search traffic than others, they have [much] more test data with which to improve their search algorithms.  In theory the feedback they get will enable them to hold their lead indefinitely.  We'll see!

From the "who ordered that" department: Better JPEG standard due in 2009.  In their infinite ignorance Microsoft have once again reinvented a wheel, developing their own enhancement to JPEG instead of drafting off the work already done on JPEG2000.  Sheesh.  Let's hope it dies a quick death.

Westlake soapbox derbyHow do you know if you live in the right town?  Well, if they have a soapbox derby, that's a good start :)  How excellent is that?  Mark your calendars and, er, start your engines...

 

where is everyone?

Friday,  01/30/09  08:13 AM

broken pipe?Gak!  Got up this morning, checked my referer logs, and there were five referrals overnight.  Where is everyone?  Usually I have at least a couple hundred, sometimes as many as five hundred.  Did the pipes break and I didn't get the memo?

(I guess if the Internet was broken, how would we know?)

 

Friday,  01/30/09  09:46 AM

A little Friday night blogging action...  getting ready for a big week, Aperio's annual sales meeting down in Vista, kicked off by a nice ride up Palomar mountain tomorrow with some of my out-of-town colleagues who are also cyclists.  Should be really fun.  And then on Sunday, a Super party at which we will eat, drink, and oh yeah watch the Cardinals eek out a win over the Steelers.

So I asked "where is everyone?" and nobody responded.  I am alone?

Update on my weird disaster which you will remember has disabled my trusty Kestrel road bike - it is in the process of being repaired.  Meanwhile I continue to dream of an Orca.  I will rent / demo / experiment this coming week to learn more and possibly talk myself into / outof buying a new bike.  Stay tuned...

shrinking girl scout cookiesThis is a bad trend: Girl Scout cookies shrink with the economy.  In these times you have to offer more value, not less, in order to be successful.  Baaad marketing.

Aston Martin RapideNote this before - TTAC has official pics of the Aston Martin Rapide...  Along with the Porsche Panamerica, new entrants in the "sports sedan" catagory created by Maserati with the Quattroporte.  I still think the Maser is the prettiest, although the Aston definitely beats the Porsche.

An oldie but goodie: Steve Jobs, the Rolling Stone interview (from 2003).  Really amazing how Steve / Apple have executed on their vision.  We didn't all see it then, but we sure see it now :)

As expected, Google Chrome growth slows to a crawl.  Expected?  Yeah, maybe.  I guess all the early adopters have it now, and the chasm hasn't [yet] been crossed...

Burbank airportScott Loftesness notes Burbank Airport - frozen in time?  I must tell you I love Burbank (aka Bob Hope) and fly out of there whenever I can.  Definitely the most convenient airport in Southern California.  And yeah, it is pretty cool, in a kitchy 50s way...

the (extinct) Ibex!And how cool is thisExtinct Ibex resurrected by cloning.  Wow.  On the science and technology front, life today is like living in a movie.  Jurrassic Park, anyone?

 

riding Palomar

Saturday,  01/31/09  11:17 PM

Today was probably the most beautiful in the history of time.  My friend, colleague, and fellow cyclist Peter Rogan, based in London, flew out for Aperio's annual sales meeting, which meant we did our annual pilgrimage up Mount Palomar.  We began at Lake Henshaw, rode the 10 miles to the base of the South Grade, and then blew up the hill;  3,000' at 7% with 23 switchbacks up to 5,500', just like Alpe d'Huez.  We had chili at Mother's (of course), visited the most excellent Palomar Observatory (of course), and then descended the beautiful East Grade back down to Lake Henshaw.  Overall about 40 miles and about 4,000' of climbing, and as I said on a perfect day.

Not only is this an excellent ride, but it will be featured in the upcoming Tour of California, as the biggest baddest climb in the middle of the final stage.  Should be a great spectating opportunity; yes of course I will be there, stay tuned.

Some pics from the ride:


Peter is ready - Mount Palomar awaits...


The start of the South Grade climb.  7% for 7 miles.  No breaks.


2/3 of the way...  the climb goes on and on and on...


Amazing views on a perfect day - the Coronado Islands can be seen!


Made it!  at Mother's...  we are here on the Tour of California stage map.


Yes, there was snow on the backside, despite 75o sun on the front!


Same as it ever was - the Palomar Observatory.  Love it.

 

Saturday,  01/31/09  11:35 PM

Just a little light blogging after a great ride up Palomar today, and a little drinking in the bar afterward with my English colleagues at Aperio...

The Brits did pick the perfect day for coming out to San Diego, as heaviest snow in 20 years brings large parts of Britain to a halt.  I suspect many are emailing friends and family with pictures of the sunshine, making themselves unpopular objects of envy in the process :)

Styx in concert - loudness personifiedJust want to observe, once again, that Styx is the best loud band of all time.  Often a Styx track comes up on my iPod and I don't feel like hearing it, but instead of clicking to the next track I just turn it up, and suddenly it sounds great.  Happened to me today twice, with Man in the Wilderness and the incomparable Castle Walls.  Boom, boom, boom, boom dum da da dum, da da dum dum dum da dum...

Sign of the times...  Medscape Journal of Medicine says so long but not farewell.  "The Medscape Journal is one element of the Medscape.com Website.  Moving forward, we believe that we can provide the most value to our members by focusing on our role as an aggregator and interpreter of medical information and not as the primary source for original scientific articles, although The Medscape Journal broke new ground and has paved the way for others."  Really they're saying, "we couldn't figure out the business model for being a free online journal".  So be it, IIWII...

Another sign of the times...  The Pajamas Media Blogging enterprise has collapsed.  For sure, focusing on PJTV seems strange.  Blogging ads totally made sense, even if there wasn't a viable business model in there somewhere...  but a TV station with political videos?  Dead animal.

OpenTable iconOpenTable files for an IPO.  Cool.  Not only that someone is going public *now*, but because I like OpenTable and use them all the time.  Good luck!

Anne Hathaway - Rachel getting Married...Did you know?  The three sides of Anne Hathaway...  "If Anne Hathaway wins the best actress Oscar next month for her role as a recovering drug addict in Rachel Getting Married, it will be a big upset: Popular wisdom is divided between Meryl Streep for Doubt and Kate Winslet for The Reader, and it's heavily weighted toward Winslet (though Hathaway did recently tie with Streep for a Critic's Choice award). But Hathaway has already bested her fellow nominees in at least one category: She is the canniest image-manager currently working in Hollywood."  She certainly does have a wide range, and has avoided being typecast..

CNet is calling the death of Windows Mobile.  Certainly between the Apple iPhone, RIM Blackberry, Google Android, and [now] Palm Pre, the best smartphones are not Windows Mobile -based.  If they ever were...

Amid all the positive hype about Windows 7, Eric Raymond sounds a warning note: Warmed-over Vista.  "OK, it’s now definite. Windows 7 is gonna suck, and suck hard...  Microsoft is behaving as though it believes that Vista’s problems were nothing but PR, and that by rebranding and spinning up the hype engines they can overcome those.  The results when this strategy collides with reality should be … entertaining, to say the least."  Huh.  I've been hoping those reports about Win 7 were true, and have had a successful experience myself, but Eric [usually] knows what he's talking about...

Bighorn Sheep being helicoptered!Say you have to transport Bighorn Sheep from one inaccessible place to another.  What do you do?  You use a helicopter, of course...  I love it.

ZooBorn baby AgoutiZooBorn of the day (and cuteness defined): a baby Agouti.  (Of course, you knew what an Agouti was, right?)

 
 

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