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Archive: October 28, 2009

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Virgin blogging

Wednesday,  10/28/09  04:21 PM

Ah yes your friendly neighborhood blogger is coming to you from 35,000', courtesy of Virgin America, as I make my way to Washington DC.  This WiFi + power + snacks + sufficient room equation means flying to the East Coast is five hours of productive work, instead of five hours wasted.  Of course, it could be argued that blogging is not productive work :)

GazoPa logoGazoPa search using Harpy Eagle chick as predicateGazoPa search using me in a bicycle helmet as predicateWow am I going to be using this: GazoPa, "similar image search".  I selected my ZooBorn of the day from Monday, the Harpy Eagle chick, and got a reasonably similar collection of animal pictures...  Then I tried using a picture of me, wearing a cycling helmet, and got a reasonably similar collection of people standing outside, including some on bikes.  Not bad, not bad at all...  not only fun to play with, but could be quite useful.  While blogging!

Oh and yeah, there is a Firefox plug-in for GazoPa (of course), so you can right-click any image and use it as the predicate for a search.  How cool is that?

I'm sitting here thinking, how astonishingly cool is it that I can do this at 35,000', and that the tools with which I can do it are FREE.  Say you built GazoPa, you had the idea for "similar image search", and you figured out how to spider websites and compare images and present results and do all that; at no time are you thinking "I'll charge people $x to use this".  Your only thought as far as a business model is "I'll give this away FREE and make money on advertising".  That's the default expectation online.  Weird and wonderful.

Trizilla aka BOR90 - now has a blog!Important news!  Trizilla aka BOR90 aka BMW Oracle Racing team with the awesome giant trimaran now have a blog.  Subscribed!

McSweeney's anticipates Halloween: It's decorative gourd season, motherf**kers.  You bet your ass it is.

Michael Rasmussen is back in the European peleton!Wow, cool!  Chicken finds a new Roost, Rasmussen says he's found a European team.  Cannot wait to see him back in the peloton again; someone has to challenge Alberto Contador on those mountaintop finishes, right?  And he's proven he can do it...

Arnold gives California legislature the fingerThis is classic: Arnold gives California legislature the finger.  I'd love to believe he did this himself, but more likely it was a staffer; still, you have to figure he knew about it and didn't object.  Classic.

Brad Feld on scaling businesses: add another zero.  A metric-free measure, as in "for this business, what will it take to add another zero".  I like it.

Speaking of adding another zero, consider the University of Phoenix.  Forget state schools and the Ivy League, they are the 800lb gorilla of higher education, with 443,000 students.  Wow.  What a great model, they are the Wal-Mart of college education, and you have to think this is crucial for our economy as more and more people are pushed out of unskilled jobs by outsourcing and automation...  [ via Instapundit ]

Google GPS Nav app for AndroidThis looks pretty sweet: Google GPS Navigation app for Android.  You have to figure dedicated GPS units are toast.  I've loved my Sprint Nav app on the Palm Pre, it has completely replaced the use of my [really expensive] car's navigation system.

BTW, interesting how "app" has instantly entered common parlance.  We needed a word like this, "program" and "application" just didn't do it, and now we have one.  Thanks, Apple :)

smartphones - 10/28/09And so the latest 'iPhone killer" is out, the Motorola Druid, and Billshrink have a helpful comparison...  It is useful to compare "capabilities", but there are two things this analysis misses; first, "the experience", which is a combination of the hardware design, software UI, speed, bugs (or lack thereof), etc.  I don't think the iPhone can be "killed" without a great experience.  The second thing of course is the platform; the network effect of applications available on the iPhone is going to be nearly impossible for anyone to overcome.  The only mitigating factor is that these phones pretty much do everything you want out of the box anyway - assuming you use them as phones, rather than as handheld computers...

Mark Sigal: there is an unfortunate tendency to confuse delivering a bunch of chicken parts with producing an actual live, breathing chicken.  I love it.

Speaking of Android leads us to observe the strategy of new Motorola chief appears poised to take off.

Daring Fireball on the iPhone platform: "You know who thinks the iPhone 3GS stinks?  Steve Jobs.  No one is working harder on an 'iPhone 3GS killer' than Apple."  Dead on.

Artist turns Swiss village into optical illusionThis is so excellent: Artist turns Swiss village into optical illusion.  What would make someone think of this?  And what would make them think they could actually do it?

... onward to Washington, see you there!


the Reich stuff, revisited

Wednesday,  10/28/09  04:47 PM

Revisiting the Reich stuff...  I reread this post which lists a number of "inconvenient truths", and realized there was one statement in his list with which I disagree:

  • adult educationHelping people at the bottom earn more is going to cost higher income people more money.

This might be true but isn't necessarily true.  It depends on how you help them; this is a "give them fish" vs. "teach them fishing" argument.  If you educate low-income people and otherwise make them more productive, they can make more money without costing high-income people anything, in fact, it can be a "rising tide lifts all boats" situation.  Of course if you simply pay them more without raising their productivity, then the statement is true, which is why minimum wage laws are so dumb.  And also why union-imposed pay scales are dumb.  Etc.

This combines nicely with another statement on his list which is true:

  • robots assembling a carAnyone who does an unskilled, repetitive job will lose it in the near future to outsourcing or automation.  And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

There's definitely nothing you can do about the "losing the job" part; unskilled, repetitive jobs will be replaced by outsourcing or automation.  But there is something you can do about it in the sense of helping the people who've lost their jobs; you can teach them to perform skilled, unrepetitive jobs, which won't be replaced by automation (could be replaced by outsourcing though) and which would make them more productive.

Which means we should all celebrate the University of Phoenix :)


defending Vaccines

Wednesday,  10/28/09  05:02 PM

One of the incredible success stories of modern technology is the development of vaccines; creating a benign version of a disease which stimulates the body's antibody formation, thereby immunizing it against the real virulent form of the disease.  Yet incredibly there are some people who don't think we need them, and/or think they're more dangerous than the diseases they protect us against.  These people are wrong.  Wired Magazine helpfully provides the antidote to ignorance...



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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
The Nest
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained