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lust or love II

Sunday,  02/01/09  10:49 PM

About a week ago I had the opportunity to test ride an Orbea Orca, and I loved it.  It was a great riding experience, love at first sight (or was it lust)?

So I'm in Carlsbad today for a week, for Aperio's annual sales meeting, and yesterday I rented a bike from the very excellent Nytro people in Encintas to go riding Palomar with my friend Peter.  And I'm standing there in the shop, looking at their great collection of high-end bikes - Cervélo, Pinarello, Colnago, Felt, Kuboka, Scott, and oh yeah Kestrel, and a sales guy walks up and asks if he can help, and I say "no, I'm just looking at bike porn".  And he says "you know, you can demo ride any of these bikes".  WHAT?  How excellent is that?

Cervelo R3So...  I explained that I am thinking of replacing my 10-year old Kestrel with a new bike, and he suggests I test ride a Cervélo R3.  So I did.  Wow.

I'm going to have to admit, I liked it better than the Orbea Orca.  It isn't as pretty, but it rides wonderfully, and climbs unbelievably.  Really I have never ridden a bike this cool, this comfortable, or this fast.

Lust or love?  Who knows...  tomorrow, I'm riding a Pinarello... stay tuned!

 

Sunday,  02/01/09  11:09 PM

Inebriated blogging...  you have been warned. 

Harrison - super interceptionSo today was the fantabulous Super Bowl, and it was a pretty super game.  I was rooting for Arizona - I like Kurt Warner, and was in fact wearing a Arizona #13 jersey for the festivities - but I guess I'm not totally surprised that the Steelers won.  That play at the end of the 1st half was a killer, your basic 14-point swing.  After that, Arizona did make an amazing comeback, and then Pittsburgh did too - in the last minute.  You pretty much can't ask for more from a game.

I'm not a Bruce Springsteen fan by any means, but I do agree; he delivered in his halftime show.

Oh, and the Super ads (which I watched, since we were not on Tivo) were reasonably super, too...

Yes, I confess I did spend time drinking in the bar with my colleagues after the game, it was great fun.  So be it.  And meanwhile, there's a little happening (on a Sunday)...

Apple and Adobe working together to ship Flash on an iPhone?  Really I don't see it.  Besides whatever technical challenges exist (which can certainly be overcome), having Flash (or any reasonable program runtime on the client) would undermine the Apple app store.  Nonetheless I am rooting for it, fXf...

Ouch: LATimes to cut 300 jobs in latest round.  Will anyone be left to turn out the lights?

Liron Shapira ponders animal morality.  I have to admit, I do too...  I love animals, especially medium rare with a port wine reduction...

 

lust or love III

Monday,  02/02/09  11:40 PM

Pinarello FP3So I continued my test ride adventures today, with the Nytro people kindly allowing me to test ride a Pinarello FP3.

Pretty darn excellent.  Hard to say whether I liked it better than the Cervélo I rode yesterday; for one thing, I didn't get as much of a ride in due to time.  The ride is spectacular, but the bike is perhaps not quite as nimble.  It does look rather fantastic.  I could easily see getting one of these, maybe even more easily than the Cervélo.

Lust or love?  Decisions, decisions...

 

Monday,  02/02/09  11:50 PM

Greetings, y'all...  another altered states post, as tonight I spent a good two hours listening to music with friends while drinking wine...  good times, but I am not up to even my usual low standard I'm afraid :)  Still, it does all seem to be happening...

groundhog day!Happy groundhog day to y'all.  I thought about it often, and even featured it in a presentation I gave today (really!).  A great movie, and incredibly unique; you cannot name another which was even somewhat similar.  Funny and sexy and yet really poignant and even somewhat moving.

Oh, and you will not be surprised to find that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow.  So be it, six more weeks of winter.  Although I must tell you, here is North San Diego the weather has been perfect!

Victor David Hanson ponders who is the "they" now in California?  "How does one explain how California is broke, tens of billions of dollars in aggregate debt, despite having among the highest sales and income taxes in the nation?"  Weeell...

moral hazardThe always interesting James Surowiecki considers Hazardous Materials, whether the "moral hazard" of government intervention has sufficiently bad consequences to imply bailouts shouldn't be executed.  He says no, but I am unconvinced.  Pretty much any government intervention in markets is bad...

Jason Kottke on America's Quiet Ports.  Too quiet, apparently, silenced by the lack of underlying economic activity...

Eric Sink advises us to read the diffs.  Good advice, I do :)

KindleJohn Battelle on the Kindle and Print: "What we're trying to say is that as a technology for delivering the news, newsprint isn't just expensive and inefficient; it's laughably so."  I must tell you that while I love books, my Kindle is a keeper; much more so than I ever would have imagined.

TTAC on Tata Motors: Profile of an Indian Car Company in Trouble.  "India’s Tata has gone from darling to dumpling in just a year. The high profile Nano People’s Car project still hasn’t gone into production, and the $2.3B purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover now seems spectacularly ill-timed."  Sigh.  Jaguar can't seem to get a break...

There's a new Google Earth!  Featuring the oceans and Mars.  How excellent, I must try it.

 

lust or love IV

Tuesday,  02/03/09  11:31 PM

Felt Z1RIn my ongoing quest for truth, beauty, and the ultimate bike, I test drove a Felt Z1R and another Pinarello today (the marvelous FP5), again courtesy of my new and good friends at Nytro in Encinitas.

The Felt was a fast bike, clearly, but not a comfortable bike.  I could see where a stud 25-year old racer would love it, and blast at full speed for two hours in a criterium.  For me, a 50-year amateur riding ultra centuries for hours and hours, it was not the right machine.  Just too stiff.

The Pinarello was interesting because it was a first cousin to the FP3 I rode yesterday, but distinctly different; it felt lighter and bouncier, if that makes sense, but less smooth.  The thing that was so appealing about the FP3 was the extreme sense of comfort, of effortlessly gliding over road at speed.  I can so see doing ultra centuries on it :)

Which illustrates an interesting point that these rides have exposed for me: for the average amateur, the top-of-the-line racing bike made by each company is not the bike you want.  Sure, it is the top-of-the-line, but it is designed for a young pro who rides 100+ miles a day and who needs absolute performance.  (If that's you, go for it!)  For most of us the next step down in the line is the bike we want, not the absolute fastest, but the absolute best bike for long distance riding.

As an analogy, if you're a Maserati fan you're more likely to drive around a Quattroporte than an MC12 :)

Lust or Love?  Starting to be love, I think :)  Stay tuned...

perfect sunset[ Update: should have mentioned, and will now - today was perfect, and was capped by a perfect sunset; check out the picture at right, and click to enbiggen.  Riding up the coast on PCH watching the sun set while testing an amazing bike, what could be better? ]

 

Tuesday,  02/03/09  11:38 PM

I have to warn you, I feel like crap tonight.  Not physically, but mentally I am out to lunch.  Despite a great day with the Aperio sales team at our annual sales meeting and a nice ride testing new bikes, I'm weighed down by the sense of gloom and doom eminating from the outside world.  Sometimes I can live in a little cocoon away from the real world, but not today.  Sorry in advance - you have been warned :P

In my capacity as a filter for you, I'm realizing there is a big difference between articles about stuff which has happened, and articles speculating about stuff which might happen.  There is so much of the latter "out there" and they are so much less valuable, I need to avoid them.  Done.

From the incomparable Michael Yon: Afghanistan: A Dream that will not come true.  "Afghanistan is a gaunt, thorny bush, subsisting on little more than sips of humidity from the dry air. We imagined that we could make the bush into a tree, as if straw could be spun into gold or rocks transmuted to flowers. If we continue to imagine that we can turn the thorny bush into a tree, eventually we will realize the truth, but only after much toil, blood and gold are laid under the bush, as if such fertilizer would turn a bush into a tree."  There is a big difference between what "success" looks like in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Don't know why I hadn't subscribed to Guy Kawasaki's blog before (How to Change the World), but I have now; followed a link to Ten ways to use LinkedIn to find a job.  A great piece, and a great example of why I'm now subscribed.

man on wireVertigo-inducing, Man on Wire.  This reminds me of viewing San Francisco from the Carnelian Room, looking down on the tip of the Transamerica building from the top floor of the BofA building.  I briefly imagined a wire running across the gap, and what it would be like to walk across it.  And suddenly the room swam before my eyes.  I had to revive myself with Pinot Noir :)

Randall Parker: Alzheimers Disease Due To Brain Diabetes Disease.  "A Northwestern University-led research team reports that insulin, by shielding memory-forming synapses from harm, may slow or prevent the damage and memory loss caused by toxic proteins in Alzheimer's disease.  The findings, which provide additional new evidence that Alzheimer's could be due to a novel third form of diabetes, will be published online the week of Feb. 2 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)."  Cool.  I love it that we're understanding more and more about this horrible disease.

Trizilla tunes in San DiegoSailing porn: BMW Oracle's trimaran tests continue in San Diego.

There weather has been perfect here in San Diego, but On Saturn's Moon Titan, it's Raining Methane.  "Imagine a world where the average daytime temperature is -179°C, and torrential rains of liquid methane fall from the skies, forming vast but shallow pools that cover an area larger than the Great Lakes."  Got it.  Can't wait.

cellphone medical labThis is rather cool: Device turns cellphone into mobile medical lab.  "Professor Aydogan Ozcan of UCLA has taken a typical Sony Ericsson phone, and by adding a few off-the-shelf parts that cost less than $50, he can get it to produce a remarkable image that shows the thousands of cells in a small fluid sample such as human blood."

From CNet: The next frontier, 'Seasteading' the oceans.  So cool; I'm reading Richard Morgan's excellent Thirteen, which features huge "factory ships" on which people live and work.  As usual science fiction predicts real life.

Mac desktop with 200 appsThink you run a lot of stuff on your desktop concurrently?  Check this out.  The world's busiest Mac desktop, with 200 apps... (I doubt you could even run 200 apps under Windows :)

Headline of the day: Barbie turns 50, gets Facebook account.  What a great time to be alive.

I must confess after blogging a bit I feel better.  Thanks for the therapy :)

 

Wednesday,  02/04/09  11:21 PM

TignanelloToday I went through an incredible gradient of happiness, starting out feeling like warmed over crap (continued from last night, exacerbated by a sleepless night) and gradually improving throughout the day, helped by telling everyone within earshot that I felt lousy, until an extreme bowling session with our sales team rescued me.  Oh, and it was all capped by a wonderful dinner with friends at Vigilucci's in Carlsbad (highly recommended) including a few bottles of Tignanello...

I've noticed this myself: Restaurants eager to please in recession.  In many areas, customer service is back.  One sliver lining from all the clouds.

Space Shuttle cockpitCheck this out: a cool view of the Space Shuttle's cockpit.  I love the way it has been Flickr-annotated with all the detail...

From CNN: Eddie van Halen reinvents the guitar.  And who better to do it?  "During the last show, I actually tried to break a Wolfgang, and it wouldn't break. I picked it up and I couldn't break the damn thing. I threw it up in the air, and later put it out in the rain. I picked it up half an hour later, and it was still in tune. It pissed me off."  Humans being...

Bill Gates releases a jar of mosquitoes during a session at TED.  "There's no reason only poor people should get malaria."  Sounds more interesting than any of the computer-oriented presentations he's ever given!

John Siracusa on e-books: on reading in the digital age.  I, too, have tried a number of these devices, and it wasn't until the Kindle that it tipped over for me.  Now I'm fully sold.  [ via Daring Fireball ]

High Fidelity on the KindleAnother Kindle *now* anecdote: during dinner last night a friend recommended High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby.  Got back to my hotel, click click, and poof I was reading it.  I love that!

BTW, not all retailers are suffering during this recession; BusinessWeek comments on Amazon's Amazing Fourth Quarter:  "The online retailer crushed the Street's expectations by snaring customers and snapping up market share as traditional merchants foundered."

Jeff Atwood: Communicating with code.  The importance of building something as a way to explain how it could work, aka dogfooding.  Nothing like really doing it, and really having users.  I totally agree with this.

Crap, who ordered that: Windows 7 to come in six different versions.  Just when you thought Microsoft was paying attention, too.

ZooBorn - little SitatungaZooBorn of the day: a little Sitatunga.  Awww...

 

extremely bowled over

Thursday,  02/05/09  09:32 AM

my extreme bowling team
my extreme bowling team: Jacqueline, me, Kathy, Peter

I don't know whether to commit suicide or go bowling
- Florence Henderson

Last night I mentioned having gone "extreme bowling" with our sales team; that's me at right (in my Curt Warner jersey, of course), flanked by the colleagues on my bowling team.  We had a great time.  Bowling is something I do about once a year, and love it, but once a year is approximately enough.  (I think if I had to do it every week I'd commit suicide :)

As a team building exercise extreme bowling has many virtues; first, pretty much anyone can bowl, regardless of athletic ability, previous experience, alcohol level, or commitment.  Second, pretty much everyone sucks; good bowlers are rare, and they generally choke when confronted with the flashing lights, colored pins, disregard for rules, and abandonment of courtesy featured in extreme bowling.  It is a great leveler.  And bowling is a fundamentally co-ed activity, unlike say golfing or visiting a spa; everything is just more fun with both sexes involved, go figure.  And finally - crucially where salespeople are involved - it is a competition; there is some reason to believe skill or effort or luck or joss will decide that you are better than someone else.  And what could be better than that?

In case you're wondering, my team didn't win, but we did have the most fun.

 

lust or love, in the rain

Friday,  02/06/09  07:23 AM

Yesterday afternoon I grabbed the sliver of time between the end of our sales meeting and the start of our awards banquet to go for another test ride at Nytro; if you've been following along you'll know I have spent late afternoons this week happily experimenting with different bikes.  I decided today to re-ride the Pinarello FP3, my current favorite.  In the back of my mind I was thinking seriously of buying one, riding right home [metaphorically anyway] on that very bike.

rain on the waterUnfortunately the weather was lousy...  it was raining; serious quantities of water were passing through the air.  I was pretty amazed that the Nytro guys let me ride a brand new bike out there, but they did (thank you!) and I was able to get in a little cycling, man-against-the-elements style; rode from Encinitas to Del Mar, took this picture (click to enlarge!) and headed back, soaked but happy.

So where did that leave my quest?  Well, believe it or not, this ride was formative, because I realized I was probably motivated more by lust than love.  The idea that I wanted *this bike now* had taken hold.  I asked myself if I waited a week, what decision would I make?  And guess what?  (You will not believe this) I think I'm back to dreaming of an Orca.  I don't know why - some combination of the way it looks, the way it felt, the way it rode, and just the general idea of it; who can say?  (The way it makes me feel about me.)

This whole thing is so much like relationships with people; there are some friends you just like and you don't know why, but at bottom it is the way being with them makes you feel about yourself.

So this leaves me back where I started.  I did have a fun week of riding, and I did learn a lot about some really nice bikes, but I still don't have a bike, my Kestrel is still out being repaired with its future status uncertain, and I'm still not sure whether I'm going to buy a new bike and what I would buy.  Stay tuned...

 

Friday,  02/06/09  08:31 AM

A rare morning summary post, what can I say; last night I got in at 1:00AM after our sales awards dinner, and associated post-awards-dinner-party, and there was no way I was blogging, and today I am going into the office but later, so I have a few minutes of peace and quiet.  I've just worked out - the hotel where I'm staying has a nice room featuring some elliptical trainers, which I really like, good for flushing out last night's poisons - and am contemplating breakfast.  So.

The less I write about taking the sound system from our meeting room up to the party suite, the better, and I certainly shouldn't mention the volume at which we played Whitesnake :)  But if I did, I'd say it was sufficiently loud.

Powerline on the pork / spending / bailout: Kill the Bill.  "Politico acknowledges the obvious, that Obama is 'losing the stimulus message war,' but fails to articulate the obvious reason: the Democrats' bill is simply awful. As more and more Americans realize that fact, support for the bill dwindles; hence the hurry to vote today."  Hard to believe we're really going forward with this; spending a bunch of money on random port projects in the hope spending = stimulus to recovery.

Hobie 16 raceScott Tempesta interviews the coolest cat, Hobie Alter (inventor of the Hobie cat and pretty much the whole idea of catamarans as off-the-beach sailboats).  "We were just too small to be a public company! There was nothing but problems and headaches - people trying to tell us how to run the business. It got to one point where we were in a board meeting with five other people who don’t get their feet wet except to take a shower, and they were telling us how to design boats – and I just couldn't do what they wanted."  As they say, read the whole thing.

Getting ready, mentally, for the Tour of California, which kicks off a week from Saturday.  The great news is that Versus are covering every stage, and now in HD!  Tivo at the ready.  Plus I plan to visit the ITT in Solvang and the final climb up Palomar in person.  The team sponsors have changed over last year, and Velonews helpfully tells us more.  (With all the turnover, I'm pretty sure Rabobank are now the longest-sponsored team.)

carnivorous sea squirtThis is pretty cool: 'Seuss-like' Sea Creatures Discovered.  "A newly identified species of carnivorous sea squirt lurks in the deep sea off Australia, where it traps and devours meaty prey swimming past."  Whoa.

Penn and Teller explain sleight of handAwesome!  Penn and Teller explain sleight of hand.  Looks simple, doesn't it?

Greg Linden of Amazon notes that Speed Matters.  "In A/B tests, we tried delaying the page in increments of 100 milliseconds and found that even very small delays would result in substantial and costly drops in revenue."  [ via Daring Fireball ]  I totally believe this and preach it daily.  Software must strive to be instant.

According to Jeff Atwood, you're doing it wrong.  "When faced with an impossible problem, identify the real constraints. Ask yourself: 'Does it have to be done this way? Does it have to be done at all?'"  A clear application of W=UH :)

Victoria's Secret webcastTempest in a D-Cup: Wired remembers Victoria's Secret's first webcast, 10 years ago...  Weird to think now what a big deal that was, but in 1999 it was a big deal...

Steve Jobs meets the Kindle.  It didn't really happen, but it sure feels like it could have.  "Sorry, I needed that. No one can tell me I can't do something like you can."  The Kindle is working because readers like it.  Full stop.  Jobs is not a reader, he wouldn't have known.

Kindle 2 futurePS the Kindle 2 is going to be announced Monday.  People say it will look like this.  Nice.  Especially the smaller buttons :)

Meanwhile, the NYTimes reports digital pirates winning battle with movie studios.  "Hollywood may at last be having its Napster moment - struggling against the video version of the digital looting that capsized the music business."  The solution is already at hand: iTunes + AppleTV.  Just the pricing needs to be fixed a little, and availability relaxed.  Then it will be off and running...

 

pipes clogged

Saturday,  02/07/09  08:31 AM

clogged pipeDuring the past week, as I've been in Carlsbad attending Aperio's annual sales meeting, I've gradually become aware that my pipe is clogged, or more specifically that as I "post" stuff it doesn't necessarily post - until way later.  I think I've had a date mismatch problem between my laptop and my server, which I've now fixed.  Just have to go back and clean things up.  Anyway sorry about the weird delays and I'll keep a plunger handy.

(I know, nothing is more boring than blogging about blogging.  Sorry.)

 

dance concert: Define wow

Saturday,  02/07/09  08:45 AM


Define

Last night Megan took me to a dance concert at her school called Define.  I went thinking it would be fun, a little time alone with Megan, and a mildly entertaining "kids show" at the school.  But, Wow, was it awesome!  These kids were GREAT.

The concert consisted of twenty three quick pieces by different ensembles of dancers, some with large groups and some just a few, with different background music, sets, lighting, all with the general theme "define yourself, don't let others define you".  In between every four or five pieces was a little slide show with voiceover in which dancers talked about dance, and about defining themselves.

I had three favorite pieces that stuck with me.

In the first, three amazingly talented dancers / gymnasts "dance" while hung from the ceiling in silk sheets.  It was Circe du Soleil done by high schoolers, amazing.  With the haunting background music to boot.

In the second, a boy plays the cello (beautifully) with a strong upbeat rhythm, while a single girl dances behind and around him.  The coordination was perfect and enchanting.

In the third, my favorite, three young girls dance in front of a black screen, as accompanyment to Pricilla Ahn's Dream.  The lyrics speak of the dream a girl has of growing up, what her life will be like.  Behind the screen, three older girls dance synchronized to the younger ones in front, lit dimly at first, barely visible through the translucent screen, as if in a faint mirror.  As the dance proceeds the synchronization is broken, the older girls go their own way, and the lighting slowly reverses, the younger girls fading in front of the screen as the older girls become fully visible.  This amazing interpretation of the lyrics, combined with the emotion of the music and the skillful dancing was incredibly powerful.  It brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.

That a high school could stage such an event is just amazing, a tribute to the dance teacher Hayley McLelland and to the kids themselves, as well as Oaks Christian School, which pushes the envelope of great education in every direction.  Wow.

Define


 

weird disaster update

Saturday,  02/07/09  10:12 PM

I have a bunch of news about my weird disaster (in which you will remember, my trusty Kestrel 200 EMS was badly damaged by a coat hanger).  Some of this you will not believe.

Edgar ChavezFirst, Edgar at RR Velo reports my bike is on the mend, he has machined two new dropouts, one for each side of the bike (the left one was undamaged, but this way the stiffness characteristics on each side will be symmetrical, a great idea), and is in the process of bonding them back into the stays with carbon fiber.  He says the frame should be repaired by next Friday, at which point he'll mail it back to my local shop, they'll reassemble it, and poof! I will have my bike back.  Yay Edgar.  fXf

(That's Edgar at right, with Greg Lemond.)

Next, during my Google searches to seek help I found "Ron", a blogger at The Cozy Beehive, who is a mechanical engineer and avid cyclist.  We exchanged sympathetic email and he ended up blogging about my disaster.  In the comments left on his blog, "Luke" linked a post from Matt Spohn: Holy Shit! in which he reports almost the exact same thing happened to him about a week ago.  "The hanger is not replaceable, therefore the frame is toast."  What are the odds of that?  Matt, meet Edgar.

Kestrel RT900Even more amazingly, in another comment left on Ron's blog, I met Brenda Lyons, an avid cyclist (mountain bike racer) who is also the SoCal territory rep for Kestrel!  She seems really committed to keeping this happy Kestrel customer a happy Kestrel customer, how cool is that?  Apparently Kestrel have refocused themselves on road bikes and have a new model out, the RT900, which they think can compete with the best in the world, to the point where they've sponsored Rock Racing for 2009!

I am trying to figure out if I can ride an RT900 somewhere - my friends at Nytro, for example, who are a Kestrel dealer, but who didn't have any Kestrel road bikes in their store, only tri-bikes.  This would be a serious entry into the lust or love sweepstakes, not only is the RT900 beautiful, and featherweight (15.2lbs!), but we have history together.  I could so see myself on another Kestrel, for another 10 years.

Anyway that's the news, as always please stay tuned!

 

Saturday,  02/07/09  10:44 PM

A day of work; I had originally planned to ride the PCH Rando 300K today, but I don't have a bike :( and the weather is crappy :( and I have/had a lot to do :( so I am doing it.  Mood black as I contemplate my todo list and my weeks upcoming.  And I have nothing in the near future to look forward to...  (except maybe test riding an RT900 :)

Meanwhile, it's all happening...

mammoth discoveryWhat are the odds?  A mammoth discovery in downtown San Diego.  "The remains of the adult Columbian mammoth were found in the East Village, where the Thomas Jefferson School of Law is building its new $68 million campus. Paleontologists from the San Diego Natural History Museum estimate they are about 500,000 years old."

Was it really only a week ago that I rode Palomar?  Wow.  Long week.

In response to the Michael Phelps pot smoking incident, Dave Winer opines Don't boycott Kellogg.  "What a bunch of stinkers they are at Kellogg's. They could score so many points by saying something like this: 'We don't encourage pot smoking, but we understand that some people do it. We have so many bigger problems to tackle in this country, and Michael Phelps is such an incredible young man and hero, we decided to be heroic ourselves, and cut him some slack, and keep him on the corn flakes box.'"  Ah, but would it play in Peoria?  (Or Battle Creek?)

ApteraCool ad from Aptera.  As TTAC notes, "The Volt will have to compete with real cars in the real world, offering real advantages to real buyers."  There's a new kid in town...

the 1938 Bentley EmbiricosAlso from TTAC: Michael Furman presents the Second most beautiful car in the world (the 1938 Bentley Embiricos).  I love this observation: "There are plenty of gorgeous women in the world...  With most of them, the feeling you get when you first see them eventually wanes. Only the most beautiful get more beautiful over time."  Indeed.  I can think of a specific example :)

Wow: drugstore.com turns a profit.  Good for them.  I interviewed with them in 1999 (ten years ago), they have traveled a long road to get here.

Lifehacker: Ten Gmail Labs features you should enable.  I'm slowly starting to think perhaps Gmail is going to replace Outlook as my everyday email client.  Maybe not yet today, but certainly within say five years, and maybe within one year.  We'll see.  The rate of innovation and change is massively greater than Outlook for sure...

Mike Elgan: two attention-focusing apps kill distractions dead.  A great idea; in today's "continuous partial attention" world you need to focus sometimes and get stuff done.  That's what I need to do.  Later...

 

three fish dancing, live

Sunday,  02/08/09  10:08 PM


Michael Schenker!Email from my friend Bill:

Hello Jim, Glenn & Ole.  I just purchased 4 Adult tickets with Dinner Reservations to see the 'Michael Schenker Group' at the Canyon Club on Saturday, April 11th.  I know that Ole knows who this guy is and appreciates his talent and material, but I'm not sure that Jim and Glenn do.  His original notoriety comes as the lead guitarist for UFO back in the 70's (Lights Out in London, Too Hot To Handle), and he and his older brother Rudolph were the founding members of the German super group, 'Scorpions', in the 80's.  

Since then, he has made a name for himself as an incredible guitar soloist in his own right and touring as the Michael Schenker Group.  Ole has seen him before and soon the rest of us will have seen him as well.


three fish dancingEmail to my friend Bill:

AWESOME

this is going to be great
Three Fish Dancing live, what could be better?


 

Sunday,  02/08/09  10:21 PM

A cold rainy day spent quietly working while listening to the rain...

Last week with the Aperio sales team at our annual meeting already feels like a dream.  Now it is back to reality, a weeks' worth of emails to reply to, tasks to perform, decisions to make, reviews to conduct.

Powerline notes Obama's decline continues.  "In today's Rasmussen survey, Barack Obama's approval rating is down to 59%."  I guess the honeymoon is over, wow, that didn't take long.  I think the spendulous is responsible, with Americans everywhere tightening their belts to ride out the recession, it just doesn't feel right for the government to go on a wild spending spree.

Not to mention, we can't even get the details; Geithner postpones unveiling TARP plan.  Instapundit opines "They won't tell you what they're doing with the money you already gave them until they make sure Congress is giving them still more."

Scott Adams (Dilbert) says ignorance will save us.  Riight.

job losses in recent recessions, comparedThis doesn't help either - check out the graph at right comparing monthly job losses in the past two recessions against the current one; red=2001, blue=1991, green=today.  Yikes.

Scott Austin in the WSJ blogs on the slow, quiet death of venture firms.  "The venture capital business is inevitably headed for an overdue shakeout, given that investment has outpaced returns for more than a decade. But it’s going to take some time, probably over the course of a few years, before we see large numbers of venture firms kicking the bucket."  Few will shed tears for VCs, and perhaps some Darwinian pruning was called for, but VCs truly fill an important need, literally fueling America's innovation by making it possible for ideas to get converted into companies.

China's spacewalk faked?Here's some odd news: Did China fake its spacewalk?  Viewing the YouTube video, the evidence seems compelling, but who knows...  after the Olympics one could definitely believe they'd be capable of doing it, right?

A pretty interesting article from Charles Platt who goes undercover at Wal-Mart.  Basically the company is taking care of its workers, the problem is that people can't be paid more than they generate in value, and uneducated workers aren't worth that much.  You come away feeling it's a good thing there's Wal-Mart, otherwise what else would these people do to earn a living?

kissing... relaxes you :)Here's some important research, just in time for Valentine's Day: Kissing feels so pleasurable due to hormone surge, find scientists.  Where I can sign up to participate in these trials?

Joel Spolsky notes his new, faster Copilot.  "The new Akamaized Copilot seems to get about 100% more throughput going from Boston to Los Angeles. More importantly, our exhaustive scientific experiments using beakers and chemicals and graph paper and slide rules proved that the usability of Copilot jumped from 'tolerable' to 'pretty snappy.'Akamai, huh.  Interesting.

 

Monday,  02/09/09  08:45 PM

I'm actually making progress on my todo list!  Yay.  And had a few productive conversations, and made two count 'em two useful decisions.  And I took the world's slowest and coldest ride today; it was 40o; I'm still frozen, three hours later.  I think I'll take the rest of the day off.  But first, this:

Windows thumbnailsOf all the things which are crappy in Windows Explorer - and there are many - the crappiest is the way it manages image thumbnails.  The whole feature is tectonically slow, buggy, and hard to use.  The filmstrip is a joke; it could be useful, but it is just way too slow and buggy.  Really I cannot see how they whole thing ever shipped.  Whenever I try to use thumbnails in Explorer I toy with the idea of writing an app from scratch to replace it.  So far I haven't done so, but I got awfully close last night...

Charles DarwinTheScientist features Darwin vs. his Dad, c 1931.  In this letter Darwin summarizes his father's objections to a voyage around the world as a naturalist:

  1. disreputable to my character as a clergyman hereafter
  2. a wild scheme
  3. that they must have offered to many others the place of naturalist
  4. and from it not being accepted there must be some serious objection to the vessel or expedition
  5. that I should never settle down to a steady life hereafter
  6. that my accommodations would be most uncomfortable
  7. that you should consider it as again changing my profession
  8. that it would be a useless undertaking

How classic.  The letter changed his father's mind, Darwin's life, and perhaps the course of the world.

The Onion: Sony releases new stupid piece of shit that doesn't fucking work.  Hilarious :)

LovelyCharts - make network diagrams easily!This looks pretty cool: LovelyCharts.  Perhaps a great new way to make network diagrams.  I use Visio now, and it isn't easy enough.  I notice you can save them off as a PNG, too.  Very cool.

Spam of the day: Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall - Confucius.

 

jury duty hell

Tuesday,  02/10/09  10:56 AM

I have been summoned for grand jury duty and unlike all other such summons in my experience, have actually been called up.  I am sitting in a jury holding area in Superior Court in downtown Los Angeles for what could be a two-week stint.  I had hoped I could disqualify myself by admitting to be a geek and if pressed would volunteer that I voted for McCain, but it hasn't worked; so far nobody has even talked to me.  I am just sitting here with 300 other people awaiting further instructions.

jury duty hellI brought my laptop in the hope I could at least work while sitting around, but it is a tough slog.  My fellow jurors are determined to be a distraction, conversing loudly with each other and on their cellphones, and multiple televisions are playing CNN full blast.  I have fought back gamely by listening to Michael Schenker on headphones, but it has only been partially successful.  Concentration is tough to maintain in this environment.

I know I should relish performing my civic duty, but I can't help regarding this as a colossal waste of time.  Blech.

 

Tuesday,  02/10/09  08:36 PM

Whew, survived day one of jury duty, didn't get called into a courtroom, just spent the day working on my laptop in the jury holding area.  So be it.  All the way home as I was fighting traffic I was thinking of Sting's Synchronicity II ("many miles away there's a shadow on the doorstep of a cottage on the shore of a dark Scottish Lake" :)  But then I got home, gleefully changed, and took off on a tough 30 miler (I call it Malibu CC, because it goes by the Malibu Country Club): from my house, down around Westlake, up Decker (!), down Mulholland (admire the sunset over the ocean :), up Encinal Canyon (!), back across Mulholland, back down Decker, and finally up Westlake and home.  And so now I am tired and happy.  And blogging.

Obama hosing cashWell that didn't take long: the Financial Times asks Has Barack Obama's Presidency already failed?  Of course it hasn't failed yet, but the course it has set seems confused at beast, and downright wrong at worst.  The spendulous bill's press has been pretty negative, and the markets are not happy about it.

Wow, good luck: Zumbox creates an all-digital alternative to the U.S. Postal Service.  "Westlake Village, Calif.-based Zumbox lets you send or receive scanned, physical representations of letters, bills or other things you might normally send via paper mail. You can log into your mailbox at the Zumbox site and then receive digital delivery of your mail."  Way back in the dawn of time, 1999, I worked with a startup called CyberBills that had exactly this approach to online bill payment.  They scanned all your bills and made them available online.  It sounded great, but it didn't take.  I suspect Zumbox will suffer the same fate...

the 1938 Phantom CorsairWow, check this out: the 1938 Phantom Corsair.  How awesome!

Facebook adds "Like".  So be it.  I'm finding myself on Facebook more and more often.  Almost without realizing it, visiting it has become part of my daily routine.  I guess I like Facebook :)

This is classic: Give Up and Use Tables.  "We’ve scientifically determined the maximum amount of time that you should need to make a layout work in CSS: it’s 47 minutes."  This is so true; back in the day, I was a wizard at crafting virtually any layout with tables, it was quick and easy, and could be done "by hand".  Now that we have CSS, it is slower and harder, and you need all sorts of tools.  Clearly a violation of W=UH.  [ via Daring Fireball ]

ZooBorn: baby DuikerZooBorn of the day: a baby Duiker.  Shy creatures that prefer to stay in the brush, duiker are small antelope from Sub-Saharan Africa.  And they are cute...

 

"progression"

Tuesday,  02/10/09  09:16 PM


In case you're wondering, this is what I saw from Mulholland tonight:

"progression"
"progression"
(please click to enbiggen amazingly)

These pictures were taken about 15 seconds apart while the sun was setting,
note the incredible change in light during that time.

 

too much reason

Wednesday,  02/11/09  08:26 AM

Reason Magazine - March 2009A little while ago I ended up with a subscription to Reason Magazine; I'm not exactly sure how, I believe it was because some other magazine (Business 2.0?) went out of business, and they transferred their subscribers.  Anyway there it is, "free minds and free markets", sitting in my pile of things to be read while shaving.  And I must tell you, there is just too much reason in there for me early in the morning.  Every article is a well-reasoned exposition of government incompetence, corruption, or misguided action.  The "citations" section is particularly overwhelming; little articles describing government madness, one after the other.  It leaves me just shaking my head sadly.

For an example, consider Dissatisfaction Guaranteed, an article by Veronique de Rugy about why government loan guarantees are bad - and just how bad they've been.  Consider this:

Historically, loans guaranteed by the government have a very high default rate. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that the risk of default on the Department of Energy’s nuclear loan guarantee program, for example, is well above 50 percent. The Small Business Administration (SBA), according to its own Inspector General’s Office, has a long-term default rate of roughly 17 percent. This compares to 4.3 percent for credit cards and 1.5 percent for bank loans guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

Wow.  How could anyone defend guaranteeing loans when the default rate is 50 percent?  Isn't anyone paying attention?

And this is the background for our fabulous new $800B spendulous plan.  It reeks of impending disaster.  I'm afraid this is just too much Reason.  I have to go back to reading Wired, or the New Yorker...

 

Wednesday,  02/11/09  10:41 PM

Work work work and at the end of the day, a nice long hard ride in the cold and dark...

BTW I have had a reprieve; having served my time yesterday, I don’t have to go back to the courthouse for jury duty until next Tuesday at the earliest! I have to call next Monday night to see… in the meantime, I am back to work - and blogging. You have been warned :)

red plaid skirt (!)Who knew?  We are investigating various vendors for outsourced datacenter services, among them a promising outfit called Red Plaid.  Which prompted a colleague to comment, "If this is a good solution, I will even wear plaid. Something I don't think I've done since Catholic school oh so many moons ago."  Which prompted me to Google for "red plaid skirts".  Which gave me some rather interesting results...  Wow.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought...

baby otterIn the same category: so you know I really like ZooBorns, and often link their posts.  Well as a sort of antidote here we have Fuck You Penguin, "A blog where I tell cute animals what's what."  (Like the baby otter at left.)  Pretty excellent.

In response to the pending spendulous bill, Iowahawk reports Mathematicians discover largest number.  "An international mathematics research team announced today that they had discovered a new integer that surpasses any previously known value 'by a totally mindblowing sh-tload.' Project director Yujin Xiao of Stanford University said the theoretical number, dubbed a 'stimulus,' could lead to breakthroughs in fields as diverse as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and Chicago asphalt contracting."  I guess we have to laugh at this, otherwise we'd cry.

Philip Greenspun ponders the audacity of doing nothing.  Sadly doing nothing is the last thing Obama & co. intend to do.  They're going to meddle until the mess has truly spiraled out of control.

Palm CEO Ed Colligan pre-views the Pre.  Some interesting info, but nothing about the most important issue, when will the Pre be released?

"higher standards"This is a pretty great commerical: Higher Standards.  Any commercial that includes footage of a 505 at speed is great, but the message here is awesome.  Check it out.  [ via Sailing Anarchy ]

From Scoble: This blog is dead!  ORLY?  Glad to see signs of blogging life again from Robert.  He sure got sucked into the Twitter / FriendFeed void.  But I think he's beginning to see those are hopeless echo chambers, he has a much wider audience through his blog, in addition to being able to write more and better.

Instapundit on the crucial subject of pan searing filet mignon.  Never let it be said that I neglect the important issues.

ZooBorn: Wallabie joeysZooBorn of the day: Wallabie joeys.  Amazingly cute.

Oh and last but not least, today was Darwin's 200th birthday!

 

what a hat (New Yorker, 9/2/09)

Thursday,  02/12/09  11:23 PM

 

"what a hat"

 

Thursday,  02/12/09  11:29 PM

One of those  l o n g  days; I got up at 0400, drove to Vista, had meetings all day (performance reviews!), then met friends for dinner in Santa Monica, and now here I am again, twenty hours later.  Whew.  Yes, I am tied, and yes, my blogging will suffer for it...

belief in evolutionYesterday we noted was Darwin's 200th birthday; sadly, Mark Frauenfelder notes 4 in 10 believe in evolution.  Even the way that's worded is misleading, evolution isn't something you believe in, it is a theory you accept or deny.  Sort of like gravity, or the fact that the Earth is spherical.

Elon Musk blogs Tesla to be profitable by mid-year.  So be it, good for them.  Even if it does require a $350M loan from the government to get there...

media trend report shows Facebook on topI've mentioned visiting Facebook more and more often; apparently I'm not the only one, as Techcrunch reports Facebook just took the top spot among social media sites.  So be it.  I think there's a lot more to Facebook than some of these other "media properties".

An interesting post about investing from Eric Wiesen and Stuart Ellman: Rolling 8 the hard way.  "Experience in the venture business teaches many lessons. One that is often painfully learned is very easy to see from a distance but hard to see when down in the trenches. There are easy ways to make money and there are hard ways."  Indeed.

ZooBorn: baby anteaterZooBorn of the day: baby anteater.

 

the pixel pipeline

Thursday,  02/12/09  11:51 PM

the pixel pipeline

(click to enbiggen amazingly - and hit F11 to maximize!)

 

1234567890 day

Friday,  02/13/09  08:23 AM

Good morning!  And happy 123456890 day to you...  In the dawn of time, the Unix owls decided that June 1, 1970 was the start of all recorded time, and they decreed that henceforth all time should be measured in the number of seconds from that moment.  And they saw that it was good.  And so it is that today, at 6:31:30PM, it will have been exactly 1,234,567,890 seconds from "time zero".  Please be sure to celebrate!

1234567890!

I have big plans, actually; Shirley and I are celebrating Valentine's Day tonight because 1) we want to go to Brandywine, one of our favorite restaurants (so we can enjoy their incredible chateaubriand for two), and we don't want to go tomorrow, because [like many restaurants] they only have a prix fixe on V-day, and 2) our daughter Alexis is leaving for Costa Rica tomorrow night (!).  So in addition to celebrating everything else we will pause for a brief geeky moment and toast 1234567890 day.  I hope you do too!

 

getting ready for the Tour

Friday,  02/13/09  09:42 AM

Tour of California - starting gate
TOC - the starting gate

It has come to this: I am getting ready for the Tour of California, which starts tomorrow.  The biggest baddest cycling race ever on American soil, we have the creme de la creme of pro cycling, including the returns of Lance Armstrong (!), Floyd Landis (with an artificial hip no less!), Ivan Basso, and Tyler Hamilton, among others.  And two-time defending champion Levi Leipheimer.  And George Hincapie, Fabio Cancellara, Tour de France champion Carlos Sastre, Michael Rogers, Christian Vende Velde, the Schleck brothers, Stuart O'Grady, Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, Thor Hushovd - you name him and he's here.  Wow, I cannot wait!

Tour of California - Lance and Levi are ready
Lance and Levi are ready

Truly the Tour of California has risen to the top, after only four years; an amazing thing.  Part of it is the timing and the weather - all the European pros like to come out here - and part of it is the great riding - let's face it, California has it all, mountains, seacoast, cities, plains - and part of it is the crowd support; we all have really gotten behind this event, and there are thousands of people lining the roads everywhere the tour goes.  Very cool.  And part of it is serendipity; there is a network effect that kicks in with an event like this, once everyone is here, everyone else wants to be here.

Fortunately for us spectators, Versus are broadcasting live coverage in HD every day - I have my Tivo ready.  And I'm planning to go to the time trial in Solvang on Friday (a week from today), and of course be at the top of Palomar mountain for the final stage on Sunday.  Stay tuned, it's time to get it on!

 

Saturday,  02/14/09  10:09 AM

A lazy Saturday morning... contemplating a weekend of work and riding (and probably freezing!)...

Happy Valentine's Day!Happy Valentine's Day to y'all...  We celebrated in style last night at Brandywine, with fois gras, cesaer salad for two (dressing made tableside), and chateaubriand for two, rare (and purrrfect), accompanied by a 1997 Della Valle I had been saving for a special occasion.  And of course we got to share it all with each other.  Truly wonderful.

Powerline notes Obama lays off the truth.  "President Obama today repeated the claim we asked about yesterday at the press briefing that Jim Owens, the CEO of Caterpillar, Inc., 'said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off.'  But after the president left the event, Owens said the exact opposite.  Asked if the stimulus package would be able to stop the 22,000 layoffs or not, Owens said, 'I think realistically no. The truth is we're going to have more layoffs before we start hiring again'."  Even Obama's supporters can't like this sort of lying.  His desperation to get the spendulous bill passed is a bad sign.

the Onion: revolutionary new drug approvedVia LGF: Onion: Revolutionary New Drug Approved.  Really, they are so good.  The production values are excellent, and the satire is, well, amazing.  I love it.

These aren't the pants you've been looking for.  The best lines from Star Wars that are improved by replacing a word with "pants".

test driving the Audi R8Zero to 60 in 3.8 seconds.  Test driving the Audio R8.  Oh yeah.

Scoble in FastCompany: what Microsoft must learn from Apple and Best Buy.  As it contemplates opening retail stores...

an orphan SifakaZooBorn of the day: an orphan Sifaka.  In addition to delighting with their cuteness, these ZooBorn posts are pretty educational; who knew there was such a thing as a Sifaka?

 

the coldest ride

Saturday,  02/14/09  10:38 AM

Yesterday afternoon I rode the coldest ride I've ever ridden.  I started at about 4:00, and it was already cold, but by the time I'd finished two hours later it was literally freezing.


the Decker wall - that's 18%, baby


Mulholland and Encinal - the meeting of the ways


top of Encinal - high point and cold point


that's 35o baby, brrr...

Why do I do this?  Why does anyone?  Who knows?

 

Sunday,  02/15/09  10:13 AM

I have a lot of work to do today, but it's Sunday, so I'm probably not going to do it :)  Or at least I plan to escape for a longish ride.  I did Rockstore yesterday with my friend Peter, on my mountain bike, and it was great.  (And we stopped at Sundance Cycles on the way and oogled some Orcas...  man, I think I'm really in love, just haven't quite admitted it yet :)

TOC - Fabian Cancellara wins the prologueSo you did watch the Tour of California prologue yesterday, right?  Because if you didn't, you missed a fun race, and I'm about to spoil it for you by telling you what everyone predicted indeed happened, Fabian Cancellara won and Levi Leipheimer finished a close second.  Lance was tenth.  It was great.  Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was that Floyd finished 60th; I'm happy to see him back and he was never great at short time trials, but that was surprisingly bad, for him.

Today we have a rainy stage 1 from Davis to Santa Rosa, a race everyone expects will end in a sprint finish.  Look for Mark Cavendish to, er, make his mark...  I will be glued to the Tivo a bit later on...

Lance responds to KimmageI meant to link this Friday, but forgot: video of Lance Armstrong tearing a new one for Paul Kimmage, the Irish pro-cyclist-turned-journalist who recently commented on Lance's return: "the cancer is back".  I think Lance handles it perfectly: "you are not worth the chair you are sitting on".  And that look - whoa.

Obama prepares to sign milestone stimulus bill.  Noooo!  Don't do it!  As we piss away $787B we don't have...

McDonald observatoryThe coolest looking observatories on Earth.  These are excellent choices, but I must tell you I think just about all observatories are cool looking.  There's just something science fictiony and futuristic about them.  Space, the final frontier, and all that...

In re: Twitter's new $35M funding round: mining the thought stream.  I swear, this is the most dramatic case of an emperor not wearing any clothes.  I can't wait for the house of cards to crash.

Rogers Cadenhead: sharing blog posts on your Facebook profile.  This is exactly what I want to do, too... stay tuned...

 

first date

Sunday,  02/15/09  09:46 PM

Orbea Orca in grayToday I had a chance to take an Orbea Orca for a real ride, my first time.  The nice people at Sundance Cycles loaned me an Orca for a demo ride, and I took it up Rockstore, twice!  Unfortunately it wasn't a totally perfect experiment, they had a 54" frame and I really need a 57", and weirdly, the bike was fitted with Ultegra components, crappy Shimano wheels, and an aluminum handlebar.  I'm guessing it was close to 2lbs heavier than it would have been if properly fitted with Dura-ace, Kysrium SLs, and a nice carbon handlebar.  But anyway it was beautiful in carbon gray, and it fairly flew up the hill.  Descending was somewhat impared by the crappy wheels, but I did come down Kanan afterward at about 45mph so I had a chance to see how stable it was at speed.  The ride was excellent, and it was a very comfortable bike.  Overall I was pretty wowed.

But...  I wasn't really wowed.  I think maybe this is like when you've admired a woman from afar, and she's drop dead gorgeous, and you finally work up enough courage to ask her out, and then on the first date you discover she's a really nice person but there's just no click.  I have to tell you, I loved the way it looks, I loved the way it rode, but...  no click.  So be it.

 

Mancebo wins - on a Kestrel!

Sunday,  02/15/09  09:56 PM

Mancebo wins stage 1 - on a Kestrel!Today Francisco Mancebo of Rock Racing won stage 1 of the Tour of California, on a brand new Kestrel RT900!  Wow, how cool is that?  And he did it with a 100 mile breakaway, too, in horrible weather conditions, even though he was caught by a couple of riders at the end.  Wow, this sure makes me want to see / ride an RT900.  I know, patience is a virtue; these bikes are evidently just not available yet, at least not unless you're on Rock Racing :)

The rest of the race was pretty cool too; Lance actually led the chase group for a long time, as Astana led Levi safely in.  There were about 20 chasers, and the rest of the peloton was about 5 minutes behind them, so the eventual tour winner is going to come from that chase group, which included Dave Zabriske, Michael Rogers, Robert Gesink (remember him?), Jens Voigt, Ivan Basso, Tom Danielson, and Andy Schleck.  Back in the peloton there were quite a few names, including George Hincapie, Oscan Freire, Floyd Landis (!), Christian Vande Velde, and all of the sprinters, who must have been disappointed that today didn't come down to a bunch sprint as predicted.

BTW I have to say, the commentators had a bad day, the worst I can remember in a long time.  First, Craig Hummer is an idiot, he should just roll out the balls and shut up, and let Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen announce the race.  He kept intruding into the flow and it was massively annoying.  Second, I understand Versus had trouble getting pictures from the course due to the weather, but couldn't they at least have gotten information from the team radios?  Viewers spent the first hour completely in the dark, not knowing what was going on out of the course.  And even after they did get the pictures back, there were no time gaps, no graphics, nothing to say who we were looking at or how the race was unfolding.  How about a permanent on-screen scoreboard like football or baseball, showing the relative positions of the riders, the time gaps, who we were looking at, etc?  Surely the technology exists for that?  And finally the commentating itself was horrible; none of the predictions came true in the least, they kept talking about stuff from five years ago, half the riders were misidentified, there was a lot of on-screen fumbling around and voice noise.  We'll give Phil and Paul a mulligan and hope they do better tomorrow, but Craig please STFU!

Update: there is a little confusion about whether Mancebo was on an RT900 or an RT800.  I'm investigating, stay tuned... ]

Another Update: it now seems clear that Mancebo / Rock Racing are riding Kestrel RT800s, last year's top-of-the-line, and not on the new RT900s, which are not ready yet.  If Rock Racing can't get them yet, then I guess I can't either :(  ]

 

Monday,  02/16/09  10:37 PM

Well I had a productive day today, thanks for asking...  finished up a project which has been hanging fire for a while now, that felt good, and worked on some code and got some bugs fixed, and that felt good, and then charged off into the rain (man, is it ever raining out here) and did a man-against-the-elements ride up Rockstore and down Decker, and that felt good. 

Levi takes over yellow in TOC - stage 2Oh, and then watched stage 2 of the Tour - most of which had weather as crappy as ours - and Levi charged up Bonny Doon road at the end and took over the lead.  And that felt good.

Meanwhile, it's all happening...

Facebook blogcasting...So, I'm trying this "blog posts to Facebook" via Simplaris Blogcast thing, as Rogers Cadenhead suggested, and it works but I'm not sure I quite like it.  Facebook is weird; it seems simple, but you're never sure just exactly what's going on, and what your friends will see.  So right now I have both Twitter linking to Facebook (changing my status whenever I post), and Blogcast posting to Facebook.  If you have an opinion about whether this is working, or what I should do differently, please let me know!

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the WSJ reports Obama's rhetoric is the real catastrophe.  I was - am - rooting for Obama to succeed, but I think now we see what happens when you elect an inexperienced guy who is all talk and no action.  He isn't looking very good, is he?

Currently 38% of all citizens think the spendulous stimulus will help the economy.  And people generally like it when the government spends money on them...

On the other hand, FuturePundit reports Medical Research spending in U.S. to increase by $10B.  I guess there are worse places the money can go, but we don't have it...  keep in mind, my company stands to benefit significantly from this - many of my customers are researchers, and the NIH is already a big customer - but I still don't think this makes sense.

the governator is not amusedAnd now California stands on the brink...  of insolvency.  Love this picture of our governator, he looks like he's not amused...  and he shouldn't be; remember, he's the guy who was elected in a recall of Gray Davis, the last time California stood on the brink.

F-15!Scott Loftesness: The Last Ace and the F-15.  "For more than a quarter century, the speed and sound of a formation of F‑15s or F‑16s has made a commanding statement about American power... You feel its approach before you can hear or see it, a low vibration that starts in your toes and rises until the gray jets flick past overhead. Only then comes the roar."

Some cool news: Palm Pre to sport new Mobile Flash.  So I guess it wasn't that hard to implement Flash on a phone, was it?  It is so great that Palm is pushing Apple now...  pretty soon they'll have to implement Flash, which will upset their whole App Store monopoly...  or just leave that whole part of the market to Palm.

video: the size of the universeThis is absolutely amazing: The Size of the Universe.  You must check this out.

And this is cool: Russia wants to land on Europa.  "NASA is expected to announce next week whether its next mission to the outer planets will target Jupiter’s moon Europa or Saturn’s Titan, but the Russians apparently have their own game plan.  During a week-long meeting in Moscow that ended today, scientists presented ideas for a free-flying lander and small orbiter to study Europa, a long-favored target of scientists in search of life beyond Earth."

the 1992 Lexus SC400TTAC reviews the 1992 Lexus SC400.  "Sometimes you can buy something so unique, so timeless, that you can appreciate it’s qualities even twenty or thirty years later. The Lexus SC400 is one of those rare, outstanding machines."  This is bang-on.  I owned one for 16 years, put 240,000 miles on it, and it ran like a new car when I sold it.  One thing the review doesn't mention: the fantastic Nakamichi sound system.  It [literally] rocked...

Sometimes while blogging I just feel like slipping in something weird, just to see if anyone is paying attention.  Kind of like that scene in Monty Python's Life of Brian where those aliens invade, and you just say to yourself, what the heck was that?

snow on Palomar mountain!Oh, and back to the TOC: Brenda Lyons reports snow on Palomar mountain.  What?  Well I'm planning to be there on Sunday anyway, rain or shine... or snow...

And finally, I DON'T HAVE TO SERVE FOR JURY DUTY TOMORROW.  Yay.

 

Tuesday,  02/17/09  11:53 PM

Another of my long oh-dark-hundred to midnight days...  started in the rain and ended that way, didn't even get to ride (although I squeezed in 1/2 hour on an elliptical trainer).  Manic Tuesday, but at least it's over...

Meanwhile, yeah you know, it is [all happening]...

May I confess to a new pathology?  I have become obsessed with non-breaking spaces.  Now, whenever I type a dash - like in this example - or use brackets [ like this ] I find myself typing Ctrl-Shift-space instead of just space to make sure lines will break in the right place.  This builds on my previous pathology of using two count 'em two spaces after a period.  And in case you're wondering, yes, anal-retentive is hyphenated (with a regular breaking hyphen).

the Trojan PigNooo...  he did it.  $787B.  Unbelievable.  fXf!  Rover Ariail's Trojan Pig cartoon at right says it all (click to enlarge).

Meanwhile oil drops to $35/barrel.  Wow, who knew?

Of course, as the NYTimes helpfully notes, the problem is you're not spending enough.

Dawkins on Darwin.  "Why we really do need to know the amazing truth about evolution, and the equally amazing intellectual dishonesty of its enemies."  A great explanation of what it means for a theory to be "true".  Richard Dawkins is my hero.

Thor Hushovd wins TOC stage 3Norwegian thunder: Thor Hushovd wins TOC stage 3.  Unlike previous TOCs where Sierra Road proved to be a decisive climb, this time it was far enough from the finish that the field came back together for a bunch sprint.  Levi kept yellow, and everything remains the same.  Tomorrow the TOC goes into the Sierras (sort of).  There's a lot of climbing; Astana will probably control the GC contenders and a break could well succeed...

facebook taking over...Pretty classic, Fortune comments How Facebook is taking over our lives.  I wouldn't say it is taking over mine, but it has become an ever-larger part.  In fact when I read this article, it opened in a tab next to...  Facebook | Home, which I now have open much of the time...

Related, Facebook recently changed their terms of service, prompting a blogospheric outrage.  Apparently deleting your account would not, you know, delete your account.  I guess this matters to some people :)

Update: looks like they backed down, the terms of service have been reverted... ]

Green comet approaches Earth!Adam Curry thinks this is underreported: Green Comet approaches Earth.  "Comet Lulin, named after the observatory in Taiwan where the discovery-photo was taken, is now approaching Earth. 'It is a green beauty that could become visible to the naked eye any day now'."  Cool...

Spyker C8 - beautifulTTAC has a review of the Spyker C8.  "All in all, I was charmed by the Dutch supercar."  Lust is thy name, Spyker.  Wow, how awesome...

According to Cult of Mac, Flash for the iPhone is 'wishful thinking'.  Really this speculation will get everyone nowhere.  Apple isn't going to budge on this until they have to - that is, until the Palm Pre is out and it becomes apparent that supporting Flash gives it a big advantage.  They're not going to give up their App Store monopoly easily.

"history" chess set from Boym DesignExcellent: The "history" chess set commissioned by Boym Design.  I'm a sucker for cool sets myself :)  [ via BoingBoing ]

just-born Siamese crocodileSo it isn't a ZooBorn, but it is cute: a just-born Siamese crocodile.  It will be somewhat less cute as it grows older :)

 

evident utensil

Wednesday,  02/18/09  08:17 PM

So this is like the coolest thing ever: a music video based on M-JPEG artifacts; Evident Utensil, by Chairlift:

 

Aside from being entertaining (I happen to like Chairlift), it is also interesting to ponder the incredible pattern recognition that our brains can do; most of the “continuity” is pretty easy to track even though the actual pixels are changing rapidly.  This would be a fierce test for any video analysis software :)

[ via the always excellent kottke... ]

 

Wednesday,  02/18/09  08:54 PM

Ah, what a day; first, you must know in Southern California the days after rainstorms are the best, and today was amazing, my eyes hurt just looking at the sky.  I slept in, and needed it, and was able to settle in and code for a long time, which was great.  I rode Rockstore and had the delightful experience of passing three guys on road bikes while on my mountain bike; see ya...  and tonight we had a great pasta dinner accompanied by Fiddlehead Pinot.  Last item on the agenda is watching TOC stage 4, but first a bit of blogging...

Read it before we sign?Read it before we sign?  What's the worst that could happen...  Powerline compares irresponsible homeowners to irresponsible congressmen.  The comparison is apt, and it is likely to be even more apt as events unfold.  I'm pretty scared.

brass monkey - "it is cold enough to freeze the balls off..."Here's some really useful information from Sailing Anarchy, explaining what it means when it is "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey".  Stick with me as we learn together :)

Today I received an email announcing my Caltech '79 classes' 30th reunion this summer. Wow.  Just wow.  I cannot believe it has been 30 years, and yet...  it does seem like another lifetime ago, or perhaps two.  Anyway I'm looking forward to it; should be fun.

computers inspired by computers (inspired by kittens inspired by kittens)Remember kittens inspired by kittens?  Well here we have computers inspired by computers inspired by kittens inspired by kittens.  Unbelievable.

Excellent news: Mars winds clean Spirit's solar panels again.  The energizer bunny of space probes keep going and going and going...

 

why you need a new bike this year

Thursday,  02/19/09  11:07 PM


Bicycling: why you need a new bike this year

(When magazine editors appear to be reading your mind :)

First, an update on my weird disaster (wherein my frame was nearly destroyed when a errant coat hanger tore the derailleur out of the dropout)...  my Kestrel frame has been repaired!  I haven't seen it yet, but Edgar at RoadRunner Velo called to say it's all done and looks great.  He's mailing the frame back to my local bike shop, who will then reassemble the frame back into a bike, and poof! I will be back on the road sometime next week.  Yay.

But in the meantime I've been using this as a bike buying excuse, or at least a bike shopping excuse, and obviously Bicycling Magazine agrees...  their latest issue has a comprehensive survey of hundreds of new bikes, including many I've been looking at (and many others I've never heard of).  They do not include any Kestrel models, and especially not the RT800/RT900 which I've been thinking about lately, especially while watching the boys from Rock Racing ride them in the Tour of California.

Rock Racing's Kestrel RT800

I'm going to the Solvang Time Trial tomorrow and there's an outside chance I might be able to hook up with the SoCal Kestrel rep, Brenda Lyons, and an even more outside chance that I could see one of the Rock Racing RT800s close up.  Please stay tuned...

 

Thursday,  02/19/09  11:38 PM

Greetings blog public, how are you all tonight?  I'm doing well; had a really productive day, holed up in my office, coding in English (email) and C++, and occasionally looking outside at what appeared to be a perfect day.  Finally mid-afternoon I couldn't stand it anymore and took off for a nice ride along Mulholland, and the views of the ocean were amazing (best part was coming back and seeing the snow on the mountains!)

And then tonight we watched the Tour of California, of course, stage 5, which was pretty boring; another bunch sprint and another victory for Mark Cavendish, ho hum...  but tomorrow will be excellent, because it is the Solvang time trial, and I'm going to be there!  Stay tuned for pictures, etc...  there are many questions, how fast will Lance be, and Floyd, and will Levi dominate again...  and watch out for Dave Zabriske!

It's official: "If the President is a Republican, it's fine to call him a 'chimp.' In fact, it's morally superior. But if the President is a Democrat, you can't call a chimpanzee a chimp lest someone think you might have been referring to the President."  Sigh.

This is pretty amazing: Nearly intact mammoth skeleton found in L.A.  "The mammoth's fossil was among 16 deposits at the site that archaeologists wrapped, along with the surrounding dirt, in plaster jackets, creating 23 boxes weighing between 5 and 53 tons that were then lifted out intact.  The construction was being monitored by an archaeological consulting firm because the site is so close to the La Brea tar pits - an archeological site that has yielded 100 million bones belonging to 300 species of mammals and birds."  Just don't call it a chimp :)

Darwin: change over timeHow awesome is this...  Darwin: change over time.  I love it, now that's change I can believe in!

Inbox0 nerd merit badge!For this I've been waiting all my life: nerd merit badges!  The one at left is Inbox0, you earn it by emptying your inbox completely.  This is admittedly a hard one but there are others which are easier.  I can’t wait to have my entire jacket covered :)

QDB: top 100 quotesYou might be a nerd if you think this is funny: QDB: top 100 quotes.  I am ROFL, but YMMV :)

During my ride today I found myself listening to U2, With or Without You, and it prompted me to switch to listening to just U2 on random play.  Excellent stuff, and perfect for a nice ride on a nice day.  I see where U2's latest album "No line on the horizon" isn't out yet but is already available online via P2P...  I'll have to get it :)

ZooBorn: baby Chinese box turtleZooBorn of the Day: A baby Chinese box turtle.  He will end up being about 6" in size and live for about 50 years.  Cute little fella...

 

at the Tour: Solvang Time Trial!

Friday,  02/20/09  09:52 PM

Today my friend Peter and I visited the Amgen Tour of California - the Solvang Time Trial.  Wow, how awesome!

We had a great time, hung out in the town for a while, oogled the Kestrels used by the Rock Racing team, checked out the start house, and then rode the course, and stationed ourselves on the famous tight turn at Baseline and Refugio, and took pictures of all the riders as they came around the corner.  In a new innovation we chalked a ruler on the street and measured how wide each of the riders took the turn :)  After watching all the riders come through, we rode back into town just in time to watch Levi Leipheimer (the last rider since he was in first place) finish, winning the stage and extending his lead.  Then we hung out amongst all the vendor booths and checked out new bikes, hardware, riding clothes, and the various attractive representatives :)  A wonderful day!

I took a bunch of pictures, please find them here:

2009 Amgen Tour of California, stage 6, Solvang Time Trial

And following are some selected ones, for your viewing pleasure...  (click each to enbiggen):

The streets are filling up in Solvang!
The streets fill up in the town of Solvang

the Rock Racing compound
The Rock Racing compound

Kestrel RT800s (not to be confused with RT900s)
Kestrel RT800s (not to be confused with RT900s)
Man I really like these bikes.  I really really like them.  Really.

in the starthouse, ready to go...
In the starthouse, ready to go...

out on the course, the weather is perfect
Out on the course, the weather is PERFECT

the fans are ready (OMG how cute)
The fans are ready (OMG how cute)

the corner - Baseline and Refugio + remembering my friend Daniel Jacoby
The sharp corner of Baseline and Refugio, where we were stationed
and remembering my friend Daniel Jacoby who passed away from cancer in 2004

Freddy Rodriquez has a flat tire, but after a quick change, he's off
And we're under way!
Freddy Rodriguez has a flat tire, but after a quick change, he's off...

Floyd Landis is back! (NB 2006 TOC winner)
Floyd Landis is back!  (NB 2006 TOC winner)

a huge crowd has gathered for the final riders
A huge crowd has gathered for the final riders

David Zabriske - US TT champion, finished 2nd
David Zabriske, US TT champion, finished 2nd

Lance Armstrong - the one and only
Lance Armstrong - the one and only

Michael Rogers finished 3rd on the day
Michael Rogers finished 3rd on the day

Levi Leipheimer, started in yellow and won the day to extend his lead
Levi Leipheimer, started in yellow and won to extend his lead!

the final scoreboard - Chris Horner "won" with the widest turn :)
The final scoreboard - Chris Horner "won" with the widest turn :)

the finish line - with Levi on the podium
The finish line - with Levi on the podium

a beautiful Orbea Orca in red
A beautiful Orbea Orca - in red

Garmin Felt
A Garmin Felt

Rabobank Giant
A Rabobank Giant


me and the Liquigas girls

All in all a pretty great day!  And so tomorrow we have stage 7, a reprise of last year's classic which finishes at the Rose Bowl, and then Sunday, stage 8 including the magnificent climb up Palomar mountain.  I intend to be there at the top - stay tuned!

 

Friday,  02/20/09  10:14 PM

Some quick notes while recuperating from today's perfect day at the ATOC Solvang TT...

This is pretty funny: the [aerodynamic] cost of water bottles.  I wish I was fast enough that the difference between having a bottle on a down tube and having a bottle on a seat tube mattered :)  Right now there are other things like the cheeseburger I had yesterday that seem to matter more :)

Darwin: very gradual change you can believe inYesterday I noted the wonderful Darwin: change over time poster.  Here's one that's even better: Darwin: very gradual change you can believe in.  I love it!

Maserati Quattroporte GTSPopular Mechanics reviews the Maserati Quattroporte GTS (and really likes it!)  But the Instapundit still thinks it looks like a Buick.  Which might say more about him than about the car :)

John Gruber: Untitled Document syndrome.  I agree with this on several fronts, first, the syndrome itself (there is friction associated with that first "save as"), but more importantly the principle behind the syndrome [paraphrasing] "you don't have to do much before you can do what you want to do".  This is a key principle in all computer design.  Get the user into doing what they want to do as fast as you can...

the TealOS brings the Pre experience to a CentroThis is rather intriguing: The TealOS brings the Pre experience to a Centro.  I must experiment with this, please stay tuned.  That would be pretty cool if true...

ZooBorn: baby MeerkatsZooBorn of the day: you can't go wrong with baby Meerkats.  Click through to see the video, it is pretty great; first, the baby Meerkats are awesomely cute, but also check out all the photographers; most of their lenses are bigger than the little animals :)

 

at the tour: Palomar Mountain!

Sunday,  02/22/09  10:35 PM

Today I visited the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California, which started in Rancho Bernardo and finished in Escondido, passing over mighty Mount Palomar in the process.  In all my time watching professional cycling races this might have been the best, even including the Vuelta stages in Spain.

My day began early as I drove all the way around the back way to Lake Henshaw, parked, rode up the South Grade of Mount Palomar (took me an hour), stationed myself at the top, watched the riders come up the hill (took them 30 minutes), cheered as Jens Voigt and Levi crested the climb in first with a break of eight, then watched the peloton come through (over the course of about ten minutes), then rode down the East Grade of Palomar following the peloton back to Lake Henshaw, then got in my car and drove around the back way to Escondido, then parked just in time to run to the finish area and watch the race finish as Franck Schleck won.  And then hung around for the podium ceremony etc (watched on a jumbotron) and oogled the cool bikes and pretty girls.

I took a bunch of pictures, please find them here:

2009 Amgen Tour of California, stage 8, Palomar mountain

And following are some selected ones, for your viewing pleasure...  (click each to enbiggen)

approaching Palomar from the back - because 76 will be closed
approaching Palomar from the back - because 76 will be closed

my base - Lake Henshaw Resort
my base - Lake Henshaw Resort

the South Grade is closed!...
the South Grade is closed!...

South Grade - open for bikes!
... but not for bikes - up we go!

crowds line the route all the way
crowds line the entire route
the higher we go, the thicker the crowds

at 4,000' - just 1,200 left :)
at 4,000' - just 1,200 left :)

stunning views of the valley below
the views of the valley below are stunning

a Livestrong snowman
snow - yikes!
and even a snowman in a Livestrong jersey

the KOM summit
the KOM summit (not the top however)
massive crowds - an amazing scene

Ole at the KOM summit
yay me! - at the KOM line

the real top of Palomar
and here's the real top of Palomar...

plenty of snow at the top
plenty of snow at the top - and it is cold

amazing panorama from San Diego to Oceanside
an amazing panorama from San Diego to Oceanside
the Coronados, San Clemente Island, and Catalina are all visible
(this one you really have to click to enbiggen)

the peloton comes up the valley floor
the peloton rides up the valley floor!

there's a breakaway with eight riders
there's a breakaway with eight riders
they are charging up the hill at amazing speed

the break reaches the top
the break reaches the summit
four Saxo riders have Levi Leipheimer isolated, but he's right there

the break goes up and over
up and over - four Saxos, Levi, a Liquigas rider, George Hincapie, and two Garmins

Christian VandeVelde leads chase group
Christian Vandevelde leads a chase group which includes Lance Armstrong
the peloton is shattered and dribbles over the top

Floyd Landis' group
Mr. Floyd Landis' group
I was hoping he'd attached on his mountain, but he didn't have it

descending with the peloton...
I'm descending with the peloton!
they soon drop me, but it was cool
(and watch out for that snow runoff)

the finishing corner in Escondido
descend to Lake Henshaw, hop in the car, take the back way to Escondido
and here I am at the finishing corner!

the finish line is a zoo
the finish line is a zoo!

the finishing order flashes on the jumbotron
the stage results flash up on the jumbotron
congratulations to Frank Schleck and Vincenzo Nibali almost won another

Lance and Levi celebrate
Lance and Levi celebrate
Levi wins his third consecutive Amgen Tour of California, pretty impressive
and Lance is baack!

And so Franck Schleck wins the stage, and Levi wins the GC overall for the third consecutive year.  This was by all accounts the most difficult, strongest, best attended Amgen Tour of the four, with strong momentum carrying it into next year.  What will we see?  Who knows.  I've even heard talk of making it two weeks - now that would be cool.

One thing I really want to go back and mention is Floyd Landis.  Yeah, it was cool to see him back in the peloton, and yeah, he hasn't ridden competitively for two+ years and was a bit off form, and yeah, he definitely didn't have the strongest team.  But don't forget for one minute he is riding on an artificial hip!  I mean, how cool is that?  For a professional athlete to be in competition at the top of his sport with an artificial hip is amazing.

All in all it was an amazing experience.  I've spent the last three days in full-on "cycling mode", I need to go back to normal now :)

 

back to reality

Sunday,  02/22/09  11:44 PM

So it is Sunday night, I had a wonderful few days immersed in cycling, both pro racing and my own, and now I have to go back to real life.  (Cycling is not real life, unfortunately...)  And real life, at least the larger world outside my own little life, is sucking pretty hard at the moment.  Consider...

The crisis of credit, visualized (+part 2).  If you want to understand what's going on, watch this.  It is 11 minutes, but it doesn't feel that long, and it really explains exactly what's going on very well.  And you'll notice that while it explains the problem, it does not give a solution :(

crisis of credit visualized, part 1/2  crisis of credit visualized, part 2/2

One interesting side note, compare the graphics used for the "good" family with those used for the "bad" family.  Wow.  The good family has two kids.  The bad family has four kids, the parents smoke, and they're overweight.  What an amazing comment...

The WSJ quotes a reader: "Now that those of us who have been making steady, on-time payments on our mortgages for years will be paying off others' mortgages through our taxes, can we claim a tax-deduction for our neighbors' mortgage interest too?"

BofA, City shares fall on nationalization fears.  Drudge links this with the headline "to seize or not to seize".  This just feels inevitable to me now, the government is going to nationalize banking, and it isn't going to be pretty.  This is the only solution I see to valuing all those "toxic assets".

Omaba thinksMark Cantor is glad we have a president who thinks.  Sure, but we had one before too, and now we have one without experience in one of the worst crisis we've faced for many years.  And the current prognosis is poor.

The market is shorting Obama's stimulus.  "The election marked a turning point. Investors looked forward to the economic policies crafted by Democrats in Congress and the White House...  Yet, from Nov. 4, 2008 through Feb. 12, 2009, the DJI overall fell 18% - a larger drop than during the Sept-Oct plunge."  The honeymoon is over.

Here's a less nuanced take: Wall Street gives Obama's first month an 'F'.

It was the worst January for the market in 112 years.  Maybe it would have been anyway if McCain had been elected, and maybe it would have been anyway, period.  But when you sit in the big chair, the buck stops there.  And right now, it is not looking pretty...

Whew, sorry, I guess that was a harsh return to reality.  Sucks, eh?

 

Monday,  02/23/09  10:24 PM

A busy day of work, multitasking around four things and getting none of them done :(  At least I escaped for a nice bike ride tonight up the beach in Carlsbad, across into Oceanside, and then down through Vista.  Oh, and I had a nice steak, served by a nice waitress :)

But meanwhile, in the blogosphere it's all happening...

I guess this is really going to happen: US eyes large stake in Citi.  Who would have ever thought we'd get to the point of nationalizing banking?  Wow.

While major stock market indices fall to 1997 levels.  Sigh.

And three out of four Americans are scared about the economy.  Include me in the three.

Wall-E: best picture?Daring Fireball thinks Wall-E should have won Best Picture.  I didn't see all the others - not even Slumdog Millionaire, which I would potentially find interesting - but I have to admit, I liked Wall-E a lot.  Perhaps it is time to stop separating "animated" films from "live action", especially since these days so much live actions is enhanced with CGI.

Another apparent shortcoming of the Oscars: failure to recognize Dark Knight.

I worry about this too: How many links are too many links?  Is too much not enough, or is less more?  I find I am linking a lot these days, perhaps because I'm following a lot.  Hmmm...

Google is too big to be lovedNYTimes: Everyone loves Google, until it's too big.  Absolutely true.  I remember when they were a cute startup with a funky name across the parking lot from Intuit in Mountain View.  They were pretty lovable back then...

mission: the moons of JupiterCool!  NASA and ESA to send next big mission to moons of Jupiter.  Seems like science fiction, doesn't it?

Interesting advice from Brad Feld: How to check your VC's pulse.  "three questions: 1) What year (vintage) is your fund?  2) Have you raised a new fund since you invested in our company?  3) When are you planning to raise a new fund?"  Interesting...

Tomorrow's workday, tonight: Michael Lewis talks about his writing process.  "I've written in awful enough situations that I know that the quality of the prose doesn't depend on the circumstance in which it is composed. I don't believe the muse visits you. I believe that you visit the muse. If you wait for that "perfect moment" you're not going to be very productive."  Equally as true for coding as writing in English :)  [ via kottke ]

lit lightbulb being brokenHere we have an awesome picture of a lit lightbulb being broken.  In the very act.  Check it out!

nuclear duct-tape!You know how you can fix almost anything with duct-tape?  Well for those rare cases where it doesn't work, you can always try nuclear duct-tape...  I am not making this up.

 

in praise of paddle shifting

Tuesday,  02/24/09  11:34 PM

pines to palms highway, aerial viewToday in the late afternoon I had a chance to drive from Vista to Palm Desert on wonderful California Route 74 (aka Pines to Palms Highway).  This beautiful road winds its way through the mountains, and ends up descending in a series of spectacular switchbacks from the mountains down into the desert.  You've probable seen this amazing road in any number of car commercials and movie chase scenes.

paddle shifting: the only way to go...
going down?

So as I'm driving this road - loving it - the true logic of paddle shifting a manual transmission became clear :)

When you see a car with paddles you might think it's sort of pretentious; oh look, someone wants to pretend they're in a race car.  And why have a manual transmission when automatics are so much smoother?

Well, with paddles, you don't have to take your hands off the wheel (and in a series of hairpin turns, you don't want to).  And with a manual transmission, you don't have to brake, you just downshift and the engine does it for you.  Your feet and hands stay in one position, and you have full control over the car.  Flick your fingers, and poof you're in a higher gear, accelerating out of a turn.  Flick again, and poof you downshift and engine brake into the next one.  Flick out, flick in.  Swish swish vroom vroom.  It just works.

You might have to get on a winding descent to appreciate it, but it sure makes sense :)

 

Tuesday,  02/24/09  11:46 PM

I seem to start a lot of posts with "another long day".  So today was another long day :)  Up with the sun moon, meetings all day, and then drove to Palm Desert to see friends from Ottawa who are out there on holiday, driving the magnificent and excellent Pines to Palms Highway en route.  And then later a drive home, and [of course] blogging...

giant wind farm outside of Palm SpringsSome notes from driving home from Palm Desert last night:

  • The wind farm surrounding Interstate 10 near Palm Springs is huge; spooky at night, too.  I guess it is a good source of "clean" energy, but the environmental impact of all those big metal towers is nonzero, and it definitely looks worse than the native desert.  A nuclear power plant tucked into the hills would be prettier.
  • I had a McDonald's Big Mac for the first time in years.  It tasted great.
  • Listening to XM, I heard Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper.  Immediately and involuntarily I yelled "more cowbell" :)

I have to comment parenthetically, how could one blog without Google images?  I want a picture of the Palm Springs wind farm, I Google for it, and poof there are hundreds to choose from.  Amazing.

Okay, wow, is it really February 24th already?  Where is this year going?  Man...  Anyway, let's make a filter pass, shall we:

Did you know President Obama gave a big speech last night?  You might have watched it... or you might have read about it.  In fact, you might have read about it before he gave the speech, because the AP released a review mid-afternoon.  Not really surprising - we all know how the AP shills for Obama, they've been doing this for years now - but pretty blatant...

BTW here's a helpful translation: What Obama really meant.  From reading the transcripts, it does appear to be a little light on detail, but then that's Obama's M.O., isn't it?

Apparently the budget will create a $634B health care fund.  Wow.  Reagan's nine most terrifying words definitely come to mind...

Google Traffic - now with streets!Google Traffic now has streets.  In which the exclamation "holy balls" is used, and correctly, too.  I was just ruminating on the fact that Google Maps on my Palm is better than my car's built-in GPS, and one of the reasons is realtime traffic info.

Joel Spolsky: How hard could it be?  Startup static.  "The biggest reason founders stop working on their start-ups is that they get demoralized.  Some people seem to have unlimited self-generated morale.  These almost always succeed.  At the other extreme, there are people who seem to have no ability to do this; they need a boss to motivate them.  In the middle there is a large band of people who have some, but not unlimited, ability to motivate themselves.  These can succeed through careful morale management (and some luck)."  I'm not sure I totally buy this, but it is interesting...

WSJ: Information wants to be expensive.  Well that's not quite true, information owners want it to be expensive, the information itself wants to be free.  This is the central problem with being an information owner.  Once you give it away, it's gone, and you cannot put the genie back in the bottle.

Slate: The Jurassic Web.  "The Internet of 1996 is almost unrecognizable compared with what we have today."  Yep.  I for one remember the Internet of 1996 - fondly, I must confess - but it has changed beyond all recognition.

ZooBorn: Red Panda cubsZooBorn of the day: Red Panda cubs.  OMG are they cute.

 

Dilbert: the bailout hearings

Wednesday,  02/25/09  09:10 PM


Dilbert: the bailout hearings


(I love it :)

 

Wednesday,  02/25/09  09:15 PM

Another long day today...  Ha! fooled you.  It wasn't a long day!  Well at least I got up with the sun instead of the moon, and had some think time and productive time as well as meeting time, and did get in a nice ride.  And am blogging at 9 instead of 12.  Who knows, might even be able to read a little later...  still enjoying High Fidelity on my Kindle (thanks Kathy) and look forward to reading from it every night.

Looks like the markets didn't like President Obama's speech last night, but then again they don't seem to like anything these days.

My friend Peter says there is a silver bullet, all we have to do is repeal the "mark to market" accounting rule change.  And he thinks this will be done, and it will trigger a rally.  And he thinks it is being timed carefully.  So be it; I have to admit, he called this whole crisis, so he has credibility in calling a turnaround...

John Battelle thinks Twitter = YouTube.  In making a case for why it is worth a lot, and why Google wants it.  Hmmm...  I guess both are big traffic drivers with no obvious path to profitability :)

tunnel with 40,000 LEDs simulates lightspeedTunnel with 40,000 LEDs Is the Closest You'll Ever Get to Light Speed.  It looks cool - really cool - but I hope to get closer to light speed than this someday :)

TTAC asks how fast is fast enough?  I love this quote from George Carlin: "Everyone who drives slower than you do is an idiot; everyone who drives faster than you do is a maniac."  I find there are far more idiots than maniacs out there :)

Palm energizes developers for the Pre phone.  "With the Pre just a few months from launch, Palm is wasting no time courting developers - the one group that is arguably most critical to the new phone's success.  So far, it looks like developers are taking the bait."  I am so excited, this product is going to change my life, I know it :)

the deep-sea fish with the transparent headAnd here we have a fish with a transparent head.  "Since 1939, scientists have thought the 'barreleye' fish Macropinna microstoma had 'tunnel vision' due to eyes that were fixed in place. Now though, Monterey Bay Aquarium researchers show that the fish actually has a transparent head and the eyes rotate around inside of it."  Wow.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you thought.

ZooBorn: baby Fennec foxZooBorn: What's cuter than a Fennec Fox cub?  Nothing!

 

WTFs/minute

Thursday,  02/26/09  06:54 PM


a new unit of code quality: WTFs/minute


Excellent.

 

endlessly buying shoes - online!

Thursday,  02/26/09  08:37 PM

I'm a bigtime online shopper, have been for years; just about anything I can buy online I buy online.  You can buy nearly anything online, but some things are easier than others.  The acid test for shopping online would have to be shoes.  You have to see shoes in person to know what they really look like, and you have to try them on to feel how they fit.  And you have to walk around in them in front of a mirror to know whether you really want them.  So you really can't buy shoes online, right?  Right.

endless.com - buying shoes onlineWrong.

I recently received a pseudo-spam email from Amazon announcing a sale wherein they are offering 25% off new athletic shoes.  Amazon sells shoes?  Who knew?  More out of curiosity than anything else I clicked through, and discovered a whole online shopping experience for shoes on Amazon.  The user interface for this is really good

It turns out Amazon front-ends a store called endless.com which is the actual merchant from which you buy.  And the endless.com people have really thought about this, and have solved [almost] all the problems.  First, you can shop along a bunch of dimensions - brand, style, color, size, etc.  They have a huge selection.  Second, you can see the shoes really well; for each shoe / style / color they have about ten different high-resolution photos, and an interface which allows you to pan through the photos just by hovering your mouse over a low-res photo.  The prices are great (AFAIK), and they offer free overnight shipping, and free return shipping.  In other words you can look, buy, and try with little risk. 

The whole thing was compelling enough that I bought a pair of tennis shoes.  Pretty cool.  I can see myself endlessly buying shoes online :)

 

me on TV on Palomar

Thursday,  02/26/09  09:47 PM

So tonight I watched stage 8 of the Amgen Tour of California on TV, after having watched it in person from Palomar mountain last Sunday.  And lo and behold, there I was, on TV, taking pictures of the leaders cresting the summit....

me on TV on Palomar... shooting the leaders cresting the summit
me on TV on Palomar
shooting Levi, Jens, Andy as they crested the summit

Here's the picture I was taking at that moment:

the break crests the top
the break crests the top...
Levi isolated in a group that includes Dave Zabriske and Michael Rogers

That's pretty cool.  Really if you want to get on TV, all you have to do is go watch a pro cycling race, climb to the top of the biggest mountain, and stand there :)

 

Thursday,  02/26/09  10:06 PM

I was in a full-on funk today.  I spent the whole day battling an IT/email problem I didn't even know I had when I woke up.  In between I was on conference calls with customers - that wasn't bad, but it didn't cheer me up.  Even a bike ride on a beautiful day didn't do it.  Even discovering WTFs/minute didn't do it.  Even endlessly buying shoes didn't do it.  Even watching me on TV on Palomar didn't do it.

Now I guess we'll find out if blogging can do it.

One of the interested effects of blogging every day is that you become aware of time passing beneath you, kind of like riding a bike down a road.  There are different time horizons; "stuff happening now" (need to blog about it), "stuff which happened recently" (blogged on my home page), and "stuff which happened in the past" (in the archive, but no longer on the home page).  Experimentation has yielded the arbitrary boundary of ten days between "recent" and "past"; that is, I keep 10 days worth of posts on the home page.  Invariably when I check my home page I scroll down to see what has just scrolled off, what things from my recent past have now slipped back into the less-than-recent past.  Right now the stuff at the bottom of the home page seems immensely far away, much further than recent.

Don't know if this is good (lots happening in my life) or bad (life tearing by)...
Maybe that's why I'm in a full-on funk.

federal budget deficitYippee!  We have a $1.75T deficit.  The graph at right gives some idea of how out-of-the-ordinary this is...  a complete disconnect.  The direct result of a giant stimulus for which we don't have the money to pay.  Yes, Virginia, this is inflationary, and amounts to taking money away from you and me and giving it to, well, other people.  The great redistribution of wealth is on - disguised as a recovery plan.

Maybe that's why I'm in a full-on funk.

Related: Philip Greenspun considers can we dig ourselves out of this hole by taxing the rich?  Quick answer: no.  Slower answer: the rich aren't rich enough, and there aren't enough of them.  Hence the stimulus, which amounts to taxing everyone.

Meanwhile it is worth asking: should we let California go bankrupt?  Check out this snippet: "Another budget buster is California’s spending on social services, clocking in at about 70 percent more per capita than the national average...  California’s legislature has only reluctantly embraced federal welfare reform, and for years the state has had one of the worst records in moving people from welfare to work because state law limits the ability of welfare administrators to sanction those who refuse to participate in work programs."  We're not worthy of being bailed out.

Maybe that's why I'm in a full-on funk.

Apparently nobody wants to nationalize Citi, but we're going to end up doing it anyway.  First FNMA and FDMC, then AIG, and now...  As bad as things have gotten, how much worse would the have been if nobody had been bailed out?  Why should the government do anything?

asymmetric TV for displaying 4:3 and 16:9 contentThis is pretty awesome - an asymmetric TV for displaying both 4:3 and 16:9 content.  I love it.

ad for Loewe's high-fidelity TVAnd while we're talking about TVs, check out this excellent ad by Loewe's...  high fidelity, indeed!

Carol Bartz, Yahoo's new CEO, blogs about getting our house in order.  No idea whether this will help, but the openness is refreshing.  Actually I have some idea that it will help.

Kindle 1 and 2, comparedEveryone seems to like the new Kindle 2; ArsTechnica says evolution yields revolution.  I like love my Kindle 1, and the '2 is apparently better in many ways, so it must indeed be cool.

One reason is the screen; apparently it took 12 years and $150M to develop by E-Ink, the company behind the Kindle's display.  Wow.

Zen Bound - a peaceful iPod "game"John Gruber links Zen Bound, a game for the iPhone.  I mostly ignore these things, most iPhone apps are duller than dirt, or dumber, but this one looks pretty cool.  I like the general concept of doing something fun as meditative, instead of as a pseudo competition.  Who knows, I might even try it. 

Might even get me out of my full-on funk.

Huh: Hearing damage occurs after more than 5 minutes of full-volume listening on iPod.  I wonder what happens after riding a fourteen hour double century with your iPod at full volume?

Well, it didn't work.  Blogging was all very exciting, but I'm still in a full-on funk.  Blech.

 

ecosystem (New Yorker - 03/02/09)

Friday,  02/27/09  04:18 PM


ecosystem

"ecosystem"
The New Yorker does it again, a great cover by Ivan Brunetti
(click to enlarge)

 

Friday,  02/27/09  04:30 PM

I'm sort of over my funk, thanks for asking.  Sort of.  Today was a better day, didn't have to fight an unplanned IT fire, and was able to bear down and get some stuff done ahead of deadline (that always feels good).  And had two different calls with customers planning large multisite systems, really interesting (and that always feels good).

Oh, and we're about to leave for dinner with our friends from Ottawa at the Venice pier, and that should be fun; looking forward to it...  and I have to hurry...

So, an update on my weird disaster (wherein my Kestrel road bike was nearly destroyed by a coat hanger)...  RoadRunner Velo have completed the repair (!) and claim it all went swimmingly, and have mailed it back to Westlake Cyclery, where it is being reassembled.  I should have it in rideable condition tomorrow!  Now that's a reason to feel happy, right?  I will be very interested to see 1) how well the repair turned out, and 2) whether I still like my old Kestrel, after having ridden various other brand new cool spiffy bikes in the meantime.

It has now been six weeks since the disaster, wow.  What will I blog about now?

Canon N1240U scannerIn the past few days I've posted a few cartoons and magazine covers and such, and it reminds me I've been meaning to sing the praises of my five-year old little Canon N1240U scanner, which "just works".  And when I say that, I mean it works and works and works; I probably scan five things every day.  My colleagues and friends know I legendarily "hate paper", and have everything in electronic form, and this little scanner is the reason.  It has a Photoshop plugin so I just scan right into Photoshop, edit a little, and poof I'm there. It's fast, the quality is excellent, and it just works.

Ever since I began linking my blog posts into Facebook I've been spending more time there, and although it isn't the time-sink for me that it [apparently] is for others, I do enjoy it.  In a few cases I've reconnected with old friends, and that's cool, and in others have become closer to friends I was connected with, and that's cool.  Some friends post a lot of pictures, especially old ones, and that's really cool.  But one badness is that everyone seems to have more friends than I do!  Maybe I have a lot of friends which aren't on Facebook (well that's definitely true) and maybe I don't connect with everyone I've ever known (that's also definitely true).  But still, I do feel a little sad, like I'm missing out somehow :)

This was exacerbated recently when a friend who shall remain nameless noted he'd exceeded the Dunbar number; that is, he now has over 150 friends.  And with just 45 I'm sitting here thinking wow, I have a lot of slots left!

QTVR: compact muon solenoid at CERNA beautiful QTVR panorama of the Compact Muon Solenoid at CERN.  Big Science might be expensive and arcane, but it sure is impressive.  (If this is the "compact" solenoid, I wonder what the full-size on looks like :)  [ via Boing Boing ]

Jeff Atwood discusses paying down your technical debt.  The general idea is that as you build software, you accumulate inefficiencies due to design trade-offs and have to go back and fix them later.  It is an interesting concept; for me the idea is to have a sufficiently good design that you never accumulate too much debt.  Going back to rewrite stuff due to architecture is usually a bad sign (doing it because of changing customer needs is different, or put another way, better understanding of customer needs).  I find most of the time people have to go back and fix stuff is because of performance, and a lot of the time that's because they used the wrong tools in an effort to deliver functionality faster.

ZooBorn: baby tamarinZooBorns of the day: A barrel of Tamarins.  They look like trouble :)

 

pathologist's cockpit

Saturday,  02/28/09  08:30 AM

Check this out, perhaps the ultimate multi-monitor setup of all time, intended for programming:

programmer's cockpit

Here we have four 24” full-page monitors in portrait mode, flanking two 30” monitors in landscape mode.   The hard part would be the video cards and drivers to make this work…

As useful as screen real estate is for coding, it is even more useful for viewing digital slides, and so naturally I couldn’t help extrapolating to this:

pathologist's cockpit

Just when you think you’ve seen everything, you realize “everything” is so much more than you thought :)

 
 

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