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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.

 
 

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