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half two

Wednesday,  07/02/14  10:58 PM

Yosemite ValleyHalf two!  Time to start playing :)

I've enjoyed the World Cup so far (go Oranje!) but have a fundamental observation about soccer: the game doesn't become interesting until after one team scores.  Maybe they should flip a coin to see which team starts out ahead 1-0, in the interest of making things interesting.

I am *not* tired of pictures from Yosemite Valley yet.  Stay tuned for [possibly a lot] more...

world population mapA weird map showing the world's countries drawn according to their population size.  This is excellent.  One of the key takeaways for me from my recent trip to Kazakhstan was how much bigger the world is than just the US.  We all know this intellectually, but a map like this really brings it home.  Just look at all those people in Asia.

So, is there such a thing as "coder's high"?  Of course there is.  Pass the C++ please.

Seth Godin: Don't blow it (the secret of b2b).  "If you sell to businesses, you're either calling on unsuccessful companies, who are panicking and afraid and don't have a lot of resources to spend on new things...  Or you're selling to successful businesses. And in those organizations, most people walk around with a three-word mantra imprinted on their arm: Don't blow it."

writing on the wallThis is awesome: Rube Goldberg meets MTV, in M.C.Escher's warehouse.  The writing is on the wall ... or is it?

Wurlitzer wizardsDid you know, I love church organs?  I do.  Not only their awesome music, but their amazing physics and ancient engineering.  So now Wurlitzer wizards bring the music back to Amsterdam's art deco marvel.  How cool is that?

Do I think this is cool?  Yes.  Software spots genetic disorders from regular photos.  Do I think this is real?  No.

Jimmy the robot (Intel's 3D-printed kits)Welcome to the 21st century:  Intel offering 3D-printed robot kits.  I can only imagine where this will go ... how soon before they start printing themselves?

On the Fermi Paradox (aka, "where is everybody?").  "Depending on where The Great Filter occurs, we're left with three possible realities: We're rare, we're first, or we're fucked."

SecondLife VRExcellent: SecondLife's second act will be a social network for virtual reality

Microsoft are preparing to release 'Threshold', a new desktop-focused version of Win 8.  Whew.  Kind of like the way Win 7 was a correction to Vista, this will be a correction to Win 8.  But it might be too late to matter much...

From Popular Mechanics: 25 Makers who are reinventing the American Dream.  Unlike a lot of such lists, I actually knew of most of these people, and yes they have made an incredible difference.  Where would we be without them?

There is no App.  M.G.Seigler considers WUT, in which the notification is the message.  Not groundbreaking but interesting, and potentially useful.

Android Wear watchesDan Frommer, on the new Android Wear watches from LG, Samsung, and Motorola: These are not the wearables we've been waiting for.  Bad grammar but good points.

solar flaresAnd meanwhile, on the surface of the sun ... wow!

 

World Cupdate

Thursday,  07/03/14  06:57 PM

OranjeballSo, we're down to eight teams, and honestly nobody can be too surprised about the eight which are left.  Cinderella has left the hall.  I suppose the fact that Spain was eliminated early could be considered a surprise, and England too, but all the group winners won their round-of-16 matches.  And in my humble opinion the soccer was quite boring, everyone playing not to lose.  So be it.

My picks for the quarter-finals: Brazil over Columbia, although this could go either way, and Germany over France; again, a tossup.  This is the stronger side of the bracket.  Of course I pick Netherlands over Costa Rica (go Oranje!), I think most pundits would agree, and Argentina over Belgium, although the Argentineans haven't shown their top game yet.  (But ... they have Lionel Messi, who is impossible)

My picks for the semi-finals: Germany over Brazil (!), and Netherlands over Argentina, setting up a rather epic contest between the two Northern European neighbors for the Cup.  Could this be the year for the Dutch?  We'll see.

 

July the Fourth be with you

Friday,  07/04/14  11:23 PM

July the Fourth be with youHey everyone happy Fourth!

I celebrated as I always do, by competing in the Westlake Yacht Club's annual 'Round the Island race.  It didn't go as planned; the wind was foul and my passage under the bridge was slow, impeded by Murphy, and I did not win. 

long may it wave!I did have a great time, as always, and reflected on living in a country where sailing a boat under a low bridge is my biggest problem.


Fire in the sky!My good friends Mark and Rhonda live right on the water in Marina del Rey, and host a party every year to watch the annual fireworks show in the harbor, and we all settled down to a beautiful evening of controlled explosive watching.  Yay!

Tomorrow there will be fireworks of a different kind, internationally, as the Tour de France gets under way (in Leeds, England!), and the Netherlands tries to advance to the World Cup semi-finals against Costa Rica (go Oranje!).  And who knows I might do a little coding.  Onward...

 

Pebble Steel review

Saturday,  07/05/14  10:25 PM

Pebble SteelPebble Steel first impressions:

  • Nice looking but is not going to replace my Hublot or Cartier anytime soon.  Kind of wish I didn’t go for slate and went for a fun color since it isn’t exactly a dress watch.
  • Kind of biggish feeling
  • Leather and steel bands are a nice touch
  • Installation was a breeze.  Downloaded and installed iPhone app and it did all the work.
  • From within the iPhone app you find Pebble apps, and “faces”.  I’ve experimented with a few faces like this one. Some add data like the weather.
  • Buttons are a little too firm, hard to click easily.  Left button is “back”, Right has three buttons: “up”, “select”, and “down”.  That’s the entire interface.
  • Charging is trivial, USB cable attaches to watch with a magnet
  • Screen seems a little dim.  Shaking watch turns on backlight but only briefly.
  • Simple to setup and use, a good thing.  Not too many options.
  • Echos text messages.  Does not do Emoji though which is crummy.
  • Shows when phone is ringing and allows you to answer or ignore
  • Shows calendar alerts and slows you to sleep or dismiss them
  • Rings when alarm goes off and allows you to snooze or dismiss
  • There are a bunch of Apps available, more for Android than IOS.  Most of them coordinate a function between the watch and the phone.
  • Apps sync easily and settings are easy to maintain.  I installed “PebbleBucks” which is a readout of your Starbucks account (can't do anything, but you can display a payment barcode; will try it next time I’m at Starbucks).
  • Some Pebble apps require a symbiotic phone app to be running.  For example you can download an app which controls your phone’s camera (take picture, etc) but it requires the app to be running on the phone.  This is considerably less convenient of course because by the time you've run the app on your phone you might as well just use the phone.
  • A cool app called Slides lets you remote control a slide display running on your phone.  I haven't gotten it working but that would be useful (as opposed to merely cool).

Stay tuned for more!

Pebble FluffyPS most important development so far – I’ve created a custom face, using my cat Fluffy as a model :)

 


Tour de France 2011

This post is a compendium of all my Tour de France 2014 posts...

Le Route of Le Tour, 2014

Saturday,  07/05/14  10:41 PM

The organizers of Le Tour have once again setup an amazing website chock full of information; among other things, nice maps of the route and all the stages, along with detailed elevations of each stage.  Check it out and keep it handy for your second screen as you watch the racing!

Le Tour, the route

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 1: Jens breaks away, Fabian attacks, Kittel wins, Cavendish crashes

Saturday,  07/05/14  10:43 PM

Jens Voight breaks awayLe Tour 2014 is officially under way, after a most Grand Depart in Leeds; stage 1 was a meandering tour of Yorkshire, in the North of the UK, with just enough little climbs and big rollers to keep things interesting.  The weather was perfect and the crowds were huge and enthusiastic, a great start to what should be a great tour.

Marcel Kittel outsprints the field for the winJens Voight was part of the initial break and finally attacked out of it to lead most of the way and gather enough points to be initial leader of the King of the Mountains, yay, Jens!  And just as the peleton regrouped for a final sprint, Fabian Cancellara attacked and nearly won.  But he didn't, and Marcel Kittel did (just like last year), after Mark Cavendish crashed in the runup to the finish (just like last year).  Peter Sagan took second and staked his claim to the green jersey.

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, the voices of July...Along with welcoming back a great spectacle and competition, it was so nice to hear Phil (Liggett) and Paul (Sherwin) back in action.  Todd Harris is fine as MC, Bob Roll is pleasant and insightful, and this year we have Christian Vandenberg, who isn't quite as polished but makes interesting observations.  And I love having Steve Porino out there in the middle of the peleton on a bike; he seems to know all the Directors Sportif intimitely, and brings great in-race insights.

Tomorrow brings another lumpy stage with narrow roads and nine categorized climbs, could be a day for a break!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 2: tough day in the hills of Yorkshire; Nibali wins late against GC rivals

Sunday,  07/06/14  03:12 PM

Vincenzo Nibali attacks to winExcellent stage today in Le Tour; six solid hours of racing up and down, with nine categorized climbs and several others too, narrow roads, massive crowds, and great riding.  It was capped by the GC contenders battling on a 25% hill three miles from the finish, with Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, and Rui Costa all in the mix, together with the all-around amazing Peter Sagan, but they all watched Vincenzo Nibali attack with 1 mile to go and couldn't bring him back.  He only took two seconds in the end but it was a great victory for him and puts him in yellow.

massive Yorkshire crowds line the routeIn addition to the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, the star of today's stage were the people; I've been watching bike racing for many years but have never seen such crowds.  Even the small hills in the middle of nowhere had thousands of cheering fans crowding the road.  Excellent.

Stage 3 is a flat and crispy parade into London, which should culminate in a bunch sprint; too bad Mark Cavendish' crash yesterday forced him to abandon.  I guess it will be Kittel vs Greipel and everyone else can rest up.  Onward!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 3: sprint into downtown London, Kittel triumphs again

Monday,  07/07/14  10:37 PM

Marcel Kittel triumphs in downtown LondonHo hum; today's Tour de France stage was parade from Cambridge into download London, where Marcel Kittel finished off the field easily in a bunch sprint.  The GC was unchanged, and on we go into France.  There were huge crowds in England lining the road nearly the entire way - again! - but they didn't have much of a race to watch today.

Tomorrow the field crosses the channel into France for another flat stage, a warmup before the Paris-Roubaix-like cobbles of stage 5.  Stay tuned...

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 4: yet another sprint to Kittel

Tuesday,  07/08/14  11:50 PM

Marcel Kittel takes third stage in four racesAfter a smashing start the 2014 Tour has settled into a (yawn) pattern; the field ride for several hours, millions of people cheer them on, and then Marcel Kittel outsprints everyone else for a win.  It's happened three times now in four stages, and it's getting just a bit old.  Today was a bit closer than yesterday but the result was the same.  It does not make for gripping spectation.

Tomorrow will be different however (!), we have a flat stage featuring nine cobbled sections of pave, duplicating a substantial section of the famous Paris-Roubaix race. The GC contenders will all be trying to finish intact while the classics' specialists like Fabian Cancellara try to pull off a win.  In fact, with most of the field just two seconds behind current yellow jersey wearer Vincenzo Nibbali, there's a great chance for someone to take the overall lead, at least for a day.  That should make for a great race.  Onward!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 5: wet cobbles! = first selection, Froome out, Nibali extends lead

Wednesday,  07/09/14  11:57 PM

Vincenzo Nibali extends his lead in yellowYesterday I complained about how the Tour was settling into a pattern, and today's stage everything changed.  A wild, wet, and tumultuous stage over nine sections of cobblestones created this year's first real selection, with Chris Froome crashing out, Vincenzo Nibali extending his lead in yellow, and most of the GC contenders happy they made it to the finish in one piece.  Lars Boom won the stage - which was like a mini Paris-Roubaix - in convincing fashion, and Jacob Fulsong finished just ahead of his teammate Nibali in second, putting him in second overall as well.  Peter Sagan was a close fourth, extending his lead in the green jersey points competition and landing him third overall in GC.

Besides Froome, who sadly crashed twice before he even reached the cobbles and couldn't continue, the day's big loser was Alberto Contador, who rode well but ended up conceding nearly three minutes to Nibali, and over 30 seconds to Andrew Talansky, who is looking more and more like a genuine podium contender every day.  We now have to ask ourselves, can Niabli win?  We'll have to wait for the mountain stages in the alps to find out.

(Who knows... maybe Albert Contador dominates the mountains and wins the Tour, and we end up looking back at this stage as the biggest reason, as it removed Chris Froome from the picture.)

Update: There has been a lot of discussion about whether cobblestones belong in the Tour.  Without commenting on that, I just want to point out that Chris Froome crashed out *before* ever riding on cobbles.  It was a wet stage on narrow roads, but I don't think anyone is suggesting that the Tour stop riding in rain, or on back lanes in France.  Net net it is too bad that Froome is no longer in the race, but that's cycling...

Tomorrow is another flat stage, and most likely another sprint finish.  We'll see most of the peleton recovering and taking it easy, but will anyone be able to beat Kittel?  Andre Greipel, call your office.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 6: Greipel outsprints the field in the rain

Thursday,  07/10/14  11:22 PM

Andre Greipel outsprints the field to win stage 6After yesterday's wet and wild stage over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, today shaped up to be a rather boring parade ending in a field sprint, and so it was.  Most of the field licked their wounds all day, but there were a few more crashes adding injury to injury.  The expected field sprint did materialize, but this time Andre Greipel triumphed, as Marcel Kittel sat this one out.

Tomorrow is another flat stage, but there are a couple of climbs at the end, so it may be a day for a breakaway to succeed, or more likely a chance for Peter Sagan or Alejandro Valverde.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 7: Trentin nips Sagan in the final bumps; more crashes cost more time

Friday,  07/11/14  11:42 PM

Matteo Trentin nips Peter Sagan at the finish of stage 7Looking at today's Tour 2014 stage 7 profile, you couldn't be sure whether the field would survive to the end for a bunch sprint, a breakaway would stay clear, or it would be a sprint among the survivors.  And the latter came to pass, as Matteo Trentin barely nipped Peter Sagan in a sprint finish after the pure sprinters were dropped on the late climbs.  There was more rain and more crashes, too; Tejay Van Garderen lost over a minute due to an unfortunte crash, exacerbated by his teammate Greg Van Avermaet's late attack.  Andrew Talansky also crashed right in the sprint, losing skin but no time.

Stage 8 tomorrow will be interesting; the first "real" climbs of the tour, right at the end of an otherwise flat stage, and more rain in the forecast.  On paper it looks to be a perfect opportunity for a breakaway to survive as a tired and sore peleton take the day off.  There will likely be a GC battle for time on the final climb which is short but steep.  Stay tuned!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 8: Kadri survives from break, Contador and Nibali assert themselves

Saturday,  07/12/14  12:00 PM

Blel Kadri attacks the break to win stage 8Today's stage 8 of Le Tour was predictably boring for the first three hours (ho hum, a five man break pulls 10 minutes on a disinterested and resting peleton in quiet sunshine), and then predictably exciting for the last one (a breakaway survivor wins and a GC battle errupts on the final climb in pouring rain).  And so it goes.  Congratulations to Blel Kadri (call him "Joe" :) who attacked his breakaway companions as the climbs started near the end and won convincingly, taking the lead in the climbers' polka dot jersey competition as well.

Vincenzo Nibali marks Alberto Contador on the final climb of stage 8Meanwhile back in the peleton Alberto Contador's Saxo teammates cranked up the pressure and decanted the field on the first climb, leaving a select group of about 20 riders to content the final short (1 miles) but steep (10%+) climb to the finish.  At that point Contador attacked, but he couldn't shake yellow-jersey-wearer Vincenzo Nibali, who was content to follow and not lose any time.  Richie Porte was right there too, good for him as he assumes leadershop of the Sky team from defending champion Chris Froome who crashed out in stage 5.  Meanwhile the other contenders all fell back a bit, as the Tour saw a main selection that establishes the leaderboard going into the second week.  Nibali's teammate Jakob Fulsang lost time but is still in second (1:44), Porte moved up to to third (1:58), Michal Kwiatkowski lost time but is now fourth (2:26), Alejandro Valverde also lost time but also moved up, to fifth (2:27), and Contador sits sixth (2:34).  Other would-be contenders include Rui Costa (8th, 2:52), Bauke Mollema (9th, 3:02), Tejay Van Garderen (12th, 3:34), and Andrew Talansky (16th, 4:42), who was the victim of a poorly timed crash just before the final climb.

Tomorrow will be more of the same: not high mountains, exactly, but six categorized climbs.  They don't come at the end, so perhaps we will see another breakaway and another victorious survivor.  Of note, Peter Sagan finally lost time today (18:17), after being up among the leaders in every stage so far, so he might be allowed to escape for a win.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 


Le Tour 2014, stage 9: Tony Martin powers to win, as Tony Gallopin moves into yellow

Sunday,  07/13/14  10:04 PM

Tony Gallopin leads a 28 man break to take yellowStage 9 of the 2014 Tour was one of those interesting transition stages; plenty of climbs, but nothing too brutal, and the last coming some considerable way from the finish.  With a harder mountain stage tomorrow and a finish on a climb, and a rest day the day after, the GC contenders were content to take a rest, and Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana teammates were happy to see a break of 28 riders take off.  Tony Gallopin was the highest placed in that group, and ended up in yellow, relieving Astana of any burden tomorrow without conceding any time to the true contenders.

Tony Martin powers to an impressive winMeanwhile Tony Martin basted out early, a man on a mission, and powered to victory; even that huge break could not nail him back.  I just watched him nearly win the Tour de Suisse; boy can he burn the watts.  Just doesn't quite have the power to weight ratio you need to triumph in the mountains.

As noted tomorrow's stage is going to be tough; nine catagorized climbs included four Cat 1s and a finish at the top of the last one.  I predict serious fireworks as Alberto Contador tries to get some time back from Nibali, and Richi Porte, Andrew Talanski, etc will battle it out in a major selection for the overall.  Stay tuned!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 10: Contador crashes out as Nibali takes the queen stage and regains yellow

Monday,  07/14/14  11:35 PM

Alberto Contador crashes out of the 2014 tour on a slick descentAw, man!  First Chris Froome and now Alberto Contador have crashed out of the 2014 Tour, leaving Vincenzo Nibali as the last favorite standing.  Stage 10 was always going to be one of the toughest in the whole tour, with seven categorized climbs and two Cat 1s near the end, but add serious rainstorms and a lot of competition going into the rest day tomorrow, and it was wild.  Joaquim Rodriguez animated the early break, taking all the climbs in successful pursuit of the climbers polka dot jersey, but sadly Alberto Contador hit a pothole while descending in the rain and broke his leg, ending his tour.

Vincenzo Nibali blazed up the final climb to win the stage and reclaim the jerseyNibali saved his firepower for the last climb and powered up the final stretch of 20% to take the stage and reclaim the jersey.  At this point he's the overwhelming favorite to keep it all the way to Paris.  That same climb reordered the general classification; Richie Porte now sits second (2:23), and Alejandro Valverde third (2:47).  Other would-be contenders include Tejay Van Garderen, moving up to seventh (3:56) after a good day, and world champion Rui Costa now in ninth (3:58).

Tomorrow is the tour's first rest day and boy is the peleton ready for it.  I'll try to to a little photo essay.  And Wednesday's stage 11 is one of those bumpy stages which are tough to predict; four smaller catagorized climbs in the last 40K might let a breakaway escape, or a strongman like Peter Sagan triumph.  We'll see...

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, rest day 1: pics and thoughts

Tuesday,  07/15/14  10:42 PM

Vincenzo Nibali looks solid to win the yellow overall jerseyWe've [finally!] reached Le Tour 2014's first rest day, and what's left of the Peloton must be quite grateful.  In sheer numbers this tour hasn't necessarily been more brutal than others, but seeing so many top riders like Mark Cavendish, Andy Schleck, Chris Froome, and Alberto Contador crash out has been amazing.  It leaves the field clear for Vincenzo Nibali to win - doesn't look like anyone is going to challenge him (assuming he makes it!) - but it also clears the field for a bunch of contenders to finish on the podium.  And most of the big climbs still lie ahead.  Should be great.

Peter Sagan has the green points jersey all but locked upOther interesting subplots include Peter Sagan - he's got the green points jersey pretty well locked up, but will he win a stage?  And Roman Bardet and Thibaut Pinot compete for the white best young rider jersey, as well as top Frenchman and possibly first Frenchman to be on the podium for many years.  And Joaquim Rodriquez' pursuit of the polka dot climbers jersey.



Mark Cavendish crashes out in stage 1Mark Cavendish crashes out in stage 1 ... did not win any stages this year, leaving the sprints for Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel.

Chris Froome crashes out in stage 2Chris Froome crashes out in stage 5 ... didn't even make it to the cobbles.



Lars Boom wins stage 5, an iconic Paris-Roubaix stageLars Boom wins stage 5, an iconic Paris-Roubaix stage in the rain over cobbles.

Alberto Contador crashes out in stage 10Alberto Contador crashes out in stage 10 ... didn't even make it to the high mountains.



Thibaut Pinot and Roman Bardet battle for white best young rider jersey, and best Frenchman, and the podium!Thibaut Pinot and Roman Bardet battle for the white best young rider jersey, and best Frenchman, and the podium!

Joaquim Rodriquez looking good in the polka dot best climber jerseyJoaquim Rodriquez looking good for the polka dot climbers' jersey.


Cheers ... the Tour resumes tomorrow, with two lumpy stages which might see breakaways get clear, and then later in the week two serious mountain stages in the Alps.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 11: Gallopin nips Sagan on a lumpy day; Talansky survives

Wednesday,  07/16/14  10:50 PM

Tony Gallopin powers to victory from the breakStage 11 of Le Tour 2014 was a lumpy ride along the Franco-Swiss border, with four minor climbs near the end.  Everyone figured it would be a stage for Peter Sagan, and it was, but Tony Gallopin powered out from a late break to win by a whisker, leaving Sagan frustrated again

Andrew Talansky survives the day despite serious back pain from previous crashesThe GC was largely unchanged, but a big story of the day was Andrew Talansky's desperate battle to finish inside the time limit, still suffering badly from a series of crashes.  He barely made it - yay! - and was cheered across the line by a crowd which waited over 30 minutes after the leaders had finished to cheer him on - yay! - but whether he'll be able to continue is doubtful.  And his GC hopes have been dashed entirely.

Tomorrow's stage 12 will be a bit more of the same: more lumps, four more climbs, and another chance for Sagan.  Stay tuned!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 12: Kristoff nips Sagan on another lumpy day; GC unchanged

Thursday,  07/17/14  11:02 PM

Alexender Kristoff battles Peter Sagan to the finish of stage 12Another lumpy day, another chance for Peter Sagan to win a stage, and another disappointment for him as Alexander Kristoff barely beat him to the line in the final sprint.  Behind them a tired peleton continued to recover with the GC unchanged.  It might have been the least eventful day so far in what has been a most eventful tour, marking the overall halfway point.

The peleton cruises before the AlpsAnd it gets more interesting from here, as we have the first real mountain stage in the Alps tomorrow, ending with an HC climb to the finish.  Yippee.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 


Le Tour 2014, stage 13: Nibali wins on HC final climb, solidifies hold on yellow

Friday,  07/18/14  08:12 PM

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 13 and solidifies his lead in Le Tour 2014Stage 13 of Le Tour 2014 was the first "real" mountain stage, with a Cat 1 hors d'oeuvre 40K out and a 20K HC final climb to the finish.  It promised some interesting GC dynamics, a decanting of the contenders to determine who was really in to finish on the podium, and it did not disappoint.  When the dust settled Vincenzo Nibali won the stage and solidified his hold on the yellow jersey, overtaking attackers Leopold Konig and Rafal Majka on the final ramps to the finish.  Alejandro Valverde ended up second (3:37) with best young rider Romain Bardet in third (4:24).  Thibaut Pinot and Tejay Van Garderen now round out the top five.


Le Tour 2014, stage 14: Majka triumphs, GC solidifies

Saturday,  07/19/14  09:29 PM

the peloton in the high Alps on stage 14 of the 2014 Tour de FranceToday's second Alpine stage of the 2014 Tour de France provided more climbing fireworks.  Rafal Majka survived three tremendous climbs from a seventeen-man break to win, after finishing second yesterday.  He is giving team Tinkoff-Saxo something to celebrate after losing leader Alberto Contador back in stage 10.  Vincenzo Nibali added to his overall lead by finishing second, and the rest of the GC compacted and solidified...  Alejandro Valverde is still second (now at 4:37), Romain Bardet is till third (4:50), also in yellow, and also the top French rider, Thibaut Pinot is still fourth (5:06), and Tejay Van Garderen is still fifth (5:49) after another strong ride in the mountains.

Joaquim Rodriques crests the Col d'Izouard ahead of Alexendre De Marche on the way to a polka dot jerseyMeanwhile Joaquim Rodriguez recaptured the climber's polka dot jersey by taking all the early climb points (including leading across the top of the Col d'Izouard, and claiming the prize for the first rider over the highest point of the tour).  He is now tied with Majka, and that might be an interesting competition when the Tour reaches the Pyrenees.  Another interesting competition is the best young rider, between Bardet and Pinot, who are also battling for a podium spot and ... best Frenchman!

Tomorrow is a long transition stage (aka, watch out for Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel), and Monday is the Tour's second rest day.  After that ... the Pyrenees for three days!  Stay tuned.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 15: Kristoff wins transition stage as break caught with 20m to go

Sunday,  07/20/14  11:17 AM

Jack Bauer and Martin Elminger led the field all day, only to be caught with 20m to goArgh!  These transition stages can be nail-biters; today on Le Tour featured a long flat run through Provence, with a dead flat sprint into Nimes.  A stage for Marcel Kittel or Andre Griepel for sure, right?  But then a two-man break nearly ... nearly! ... got away, as the peloton's chase was slowed by rain and roundabouts.  Jack Bauer and Martin Elminger rode hard all day and at first it seemed they would surely be caught, and then it seemed they would make it to the finish!  But heartbreakingly they were caught, with 20m to go... and Alexender Kristoff led the field sprint across the line.  Whew.

the peloton cruise through Provence on stage 15Tomorrow is the tour's second rest day, and then Tuesday the race resumes with three stages in the Pyrenees!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, rest day 2: movie + thoughts

Monday,  07/21/14  10:56 PM

The Tour de France 2014 rests again today.  Left are three mountain stages in the Pyrenees, a transition stage, and a time trial left before Sunday's parade / sprint to Paris.

It seems like Vincenzo Nibali is a lock to win.  But the rest of the podium and top ten is up for grabs, should make for some exciting racing.  Peter Sagan has the green jersey sewn up.  But the polka dot jersey competition is tight (tied!) between Joaquim Rodriquez and Rafal Majka, and the white jersey is up for grabs between Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, who are also battling for top French rider and ... perhaps most importantly ... fighting to be the first Frenchman on the podium since Ricard Virenque in 1997.  Add to that Tejay Van Garderen sitting in fifth, and riding stronger every day, and Bauke Mollema lurking in seventh, and Rui Costa ... well there's a lot of racing left.  (Update: Rui has dropped out due to pnemonia!  Rats)

It already seems a long time ago but remember stage 5, which retraced the Paris-Roubaoix route over the cobbles in the rain?  Want to see it again, from the handlebars of a riderCheck this out:

Wow.  And Onward!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]


Le Tour 2014, stage 16: Rodgers attacks downhill, GC shuffled

Tuesday,  07/22/14  11:45 PM

Michael Rodgers attacks downhill to win stage 16Well you never know what's going to happen after a rest day in the Tour.  Today seemed like there might be a breakaway which could get away; the longest stage of this year's Tour, with the HC Port de Bales climb 21km from the finish.  And indeed a huge group of 21 riders broke off early before basting apart on that final climb.  Michael Rodgers went over the top first with Thomas Voelker and a small group of others, and they battled on the long downhill with Rodgers emerging victorious.  A great race.

The HC Port de Bales climb set the stageAnd meanwhile another battle played out among the GC contenders; Vincenzo Nibali made it safely up and over, along with Alejandro Valverde and the French trip of JC Peraud, Thibot Pinot, and white jersey wearer Romain Bardet, but Tejay Van Garderen struggled and lost serious time, as did Chris Horner.  (I was hoping Horner would fly without having to protect Rui Costa any longer, but looks like he's still recovering from that horrible training crash a couple of months ago.)

Tomorrow is the hardest stage of the tour, bar none; three serious Cat 1 climbs followed by an HC mountaintop finish at Pla d'Adet.  I can't wait!

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Le Tour 2014, stage 17: Majka triumphs, confirms polkadots

Wednesday,  07/23/14  11:08 PM

Rafael Majka wins the final climb up Pla d'Adet and takes the stageIn the hardest stage of this year's tour, Rafael Majka triumphed on the final mountain climb up to Pla d'Adet, giving Team Tinkoff Saxo their third stage win and confirming his right to wear the polka dot jersey of the King of the Mountains.  Any one of the climbs in this stage could have been decisive, but having four serious climbs in a row certainly created a selection.  And it was fun to watch, too.  Behind the leaders the GC contenders battled but ultimately the times were little changed, except that Romain Bardet faltered a little and ceded time and the white best young rider jersey to Thibout Pinot.

Tomorrow's stage 18 is yet another tough Pyrenees stage, with two HC climbs: up the Col du Tourmalet and another serious mountaintop finish atop the Hautecam.  Excellent!

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Le Tour 2014, stage 18: Nibali confirms dominance up Hautecam

Thursday,  07/24/14  11:20 PM

Vincenzo Nibali confirms his dominance of the 2014 Tour by attacking on the final climb and winning the stageIn the final decisive road stage of the 2014 Tour, Vincenzo Nibali triumphed up the final HC climb of Hautecam and confirmed his dominance of this year's Tour.  Barring a disaster in Saturday's time trial, he will wear the yellow jersey in Paris.  And at this point who could deny him; the way he's ridden this tour, he might well have won even if Chris Froome and Alberto Contador were still riding.

Chris Horner attacks on the final climb of stage 18 up HautecamIt was a great race all the way up the last climb; if you've ever wanted to watch a truly great race up a truly tough mountain, this would be a good one to go back and watch.  I enjoyed every minute of it, especially 42-year-old Chris Horner's late attack on the GC leaders, which was glorious despite ultimately failing.  Rafael Majka had a great ride too, as did Tejay Van Garderen and JC Peraud.  Unfortunately Alejandro Valverde faltered in the final battle and now sits fourth, with some serious work to do in the time trial to get back on the podium.  And it was a great race for France, as there were no fewer than three French riders battling and left with a chance at the podium.

Tomorrow is a flat sprinters stage - the last chance for a breakaway, so could be interesting - and then Saturday is the long time trial before Sunday's parade into Paris.  Onward.

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Le Tour 2014, stage 19: Navardauskas outruns charging peleton

Friday,  07/25/14  11:33 PM

Ramunas Navardauskas powers away from a charging peleton to grab victoryOn paper the last road stage of the 2014 Tour looked like one for the sprinters; a flat "transition" stage.  But as the last chance for glory you knew anything could happen, and something great did; Ramunas Navardauskas attacked the peloton on a dinky Cat 4 climb near the end and then powered away from a charging peloton to give Team Garmin Sharp their first victory of the tour.  And it certainly made for great spectating, it seemed he would be reeled in just at the end like his teammate Jack Bauer on stage 15, yet he held on and made it.  Yay.

Stage 20 tomorrow is the time trial, and there's quite a lot at stake; 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place are up for grab between JC Peraud, Thibot Pinot, and Alejandro Valverde, and 5th and 6th are in play between Romain Bardet and Tejay Van Garderen.  Stay tuned!

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Le Tour 2014, stage 20: Martin wins TT as Nibali cruises to final yellow

Saturday,  07/26/14  10:43 PM

Tony Martin wins the 2014 Tour's final time trial stageThe amazing 2014 Tour de France continued today as Tony Martin won the long 40km time trial, extending his dominance in the TT discipline.  Vincenzo Nibali finished a strong fourth, wrapping up his overall GC victory.  JC Peraud passed his French countryman Thibot Pinot to end up second, despite two punctures, and Alejandro Valverde failed to gain ground, leaving Pinot on the podium in third and finishing fourth overall (and taking the white jersey as best young rider).  Tejay Van Garderen finished fifth for the second time, after barely passing Romain Bardet.

So ends a great Tour; tomorrow is the traditional parade to Paris, punctuated at the end by what will likely be a ferocious bunch sprint.  I'm sad!  I don't want the Tour to end...

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Le Tour 2014, stage 21: Kittel wins final sprint (again); Nibali golden in yellow

Sunday,  07/27/14  10:53 PM

the peleton rides down the banks of the Seine on their way to the final straight over the Champs d'ElyseeTo nobody's surprise Marcel Kittel won the final bunch sprint down the Champs d'Elysee in Paris, after the usual flurries of attacks on the cobbles in front of millions of screaming Frenchman.  It was an amazing pageant, as always, to see 200 brightly clad riders flying down the boulevard at 40mph.

The final jerseys of the 2014 Tour; Vincenzo Nibali (yellow), Peter Sagan (green), Rafael Majka (polka dot), and Thibot Pinot (white)And so ends the remarkable 2014 tour; with Vincenzo Nibali in firm possession of the overall leader's yellow jersey, Peter Sagan equally secure in the sprinter's green jersey, Rafael Majka in the king of the mountain's polka dots, and Thibot Pinot as the best young rider in white.

It was a great three weeks of great racing, with a little bit of everything, and after looking forward to each day's racing I'm sorry it's all over.  I guess I'll have my little period of mourning and then we can look forward to the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.  (Will Chris Horner be able to defend against Chris Froome and Alberto Contador?)

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Le Route of Le Tour, 2014

Saturday,  07/05/14  10:41 PM

The organizers of Le Tour have once again setup an amazing website chock full of information; among other things, nice maps of the route and all the stages, along with detailed elevations of each stage.  Check it out and keep it handy for your second screen as you watch the racing!

Le Tour, the route

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Le Tour 2014, stage 1: Jens breaks away, Fabian attacks, Kittel wins, Cavendish crashes

Saturday,  07/05/14  10:43 PM

Jens Voight breaks awayLe Tour 2014 is officially under way, after a most Grand Depart in Leeds; stage 1 was a meandering tour of Yorkshire, in the North of the UK, with just enough little climbs and big rollers to keep things interesting.  The weather was perfect and the crowds were huge and enthusiastic, a great start to what should be a great tour.

Marcel Kittel outsprints the field for the winJens Voight was part of the initial break and finally attacked out of it to lead most of the way and gather enough points to be initial leader of the King of the Mountains, yay, Jens!  And just as the peleton regrouped for a final sprint, Fabian Cancellara attacked and nearly won.  But he didn't, and Marcel Kittel did (just like last year), after Mark Cavendish crashed in the runup to the finish (just like last year).  Peter Sagan took second and staked his claim to the green jersey.

Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, the voices of July...Along with welcoming back a great spectacle and competition, it was so nice to hear Phil (Liggett) and Paul (Sherwin) back in action.  Todd Harris is fine as MC, Bob Roll is pleasant and insightful, and this year we have Christian Vandenberg, who isn't quite as polished but makes interesting observations.  And I love having Steve Porino out there in the middle of the peleton on a bike; he seems to know all the Directors Sportif intimitely, and brings great in-race insights.

Tomorrow brings another lumpy stage with narrow roads and nine categorized climbs, could be a day for a break!

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Fifth wheel

Saturday,  07/05/14  11:06 PM

by the lakeBig wheel keep on turning...

The pic is a tribute to Westlake, my little home, but also to my iPhone 5S, which has this amazing ability to take good pictures in bad light.  (please click to enbiggen)

And so the Ole filter makes a pass...

Le Tour makes its Grand Depart in YorkshireYay, the Tour started today!  Yesterday I was with a friend, and I said "tomorrow the Tour starts", and he said "what Tour?"  If you're in that category, so be it.)  I will be making separate posts as per usual*, so those of you who would say "what Tour" can safely ignore them...

* where by "usual" I mean up through 2011, since in 2012 and 2013 I was Facebooking instead of blogging

Evolution in Action: "Convicted criminal offenders had more children than individuals never convicted of a criminal offense...  We conclude that criminality appears to be adaptive in a contemporary industrialized country, and that this association can be explained by antisocial behavior being part of an adaptive alternative reproductive strategy.Yikes.  Sounds like Unnatural Selection in action.

philosopher referee hand signalsPhilosopher referee hand signals.  I love it.

Dear fellow zillionaires: they're coming for us with pitchforks.  A hereditary millionaire makes the liberal case for raising the minimum wage.  Sorry, I'm unconvinced, it still feels like socialism, and socialism never works.

Bill Whittle: Firewall: Throwing away victory in Iraq.  I must say I agree with quite a lot of this, although not with the implication that Obama and his team don't want to win.  I think they honestly don't know how.

Pretty interesting: If I were Ted Cruz.  I was fairly anti-Cruz after the government shutdown, and I still don't think that was a reasonable political tactic even though I don't think Obamacare was a good idea or well implemented.  But I recently read The Rise of Ted Cruz in the New Yorker - I'm pretty sure it was not supposed to be flattering - which put him in a different light.  Just wish he didn't have that Christian-religious-sanctimony.

visualizing algorithmsThis is just beautiful ... visualizing algorithms.  Amazing how much animation brings understanding of an algorithm.  There was a lot of work in creating these examples, but they're worth it :)

optical illusionSuper cool optical illusion.  The principle behind this is most interesting.  I wonder if it could be used for movies?  (e.g., use a 3D screen?)

Seth Godin: Is better possible?  "The answer to this is so obvious to me that it took me a while to realize that many people are far more comfortable with 'no'."  My answer is 'yes', even if it *isn't* obvious.

The visualization posts illustrate an important principle to consider when reading political posts: point of view matters.  If you want to change someone's mind, the fastest way is to help change their point of view.

Emperor penguinsWhew!  Antarctica sets new record for sea ice.  I was worried about these Emperor Penguins...

The mixed signals of climate change are an especially good example of drawing different conclusions from the same facts based on point of view.

Onward!

 

World Cup: and then there were four

Sunday,  07/06/14  02:53 PM

Germany France 1-0So the World Cup quarterfinals are in the books, and we had four completely different games.  Germany outlasted France, 1-0, not an exciting game but a study in precision football.  Hard not to pick the Germans to go all the way.  This game proved my theory about soccer only becoming interesting after one team scores; it was 1-0 after fifteen minutes, and it was pretty entertaining the rest of the way.

Brazil Columbia 2-1Next Brazil outflopped Columbia, 2-1, scoring a first goal seven minutes in, and then the teams traded goals in the second half.  This was a bit disappointing because neither team played their best; it felt like the referee let things get out of control, and the play suffered.  We're still waiting to see a brilliant Brazilian side show up, and they'll have to against Germany.

Argentina Belgium 1-0And then Argentina outplayed Belgium 1-0, again the only goal being scored early, but this time it led to a bunch of marching up and down the field with no real spark.  So so glad my Tivo has a fast forward button.  Not even Messi could liven up a dull game, and while the Belgians can play elegant soccer when they want, they didn't.

Netherlands Costa Rica 0-0 4-3In the final quarter Netherlands defeated Costa Rica 0-0, 4-3, in a game that could serve as a counterexample against my "give one team a goal" dictum.  The football was fun and the Dutch certainly controlled the ball and squandered many chances, but in the end it came down to penalty kicks and that was that.  If you weren't rooting for anyone you'd have to pick the winner of this team, based on sheer fun, so Go Oranje!  I think the Netherlands - Argentina game is going to be quite entertaining.

All my picks made it through and I'm stick with my picks for the next round: Germany vs Netherlands in the final.

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 2: tough day in the hills of Yorkshire; Nibali wins late against GC rivals

Sunday,  07/06/14  03:12 PM

Vincenzo Nibali attacks to winExcellent stage today in Le Tour; six solid hours of racing up and down, with nine categorized climbs and several others too, narrow roads, massive crowds, and great riding.  It was capped by the GC contenders battling on a 25% hill three miles from the finish, with Chris Froome, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde, and Rui Costa all in the mix, together with the all-around amazing Peter Sagan, but they all watched Vincenzo Nibali attack with 1 mile to go and couldn't bring him back.  He only took two seconds in the end but it was a great victory for him and puts him in yellow.

massive Yorkshire crowds line the routeIn addition to the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, the star of today's stage were the people; I've been watching bike racing for many years but have never seen such crowds.  Even the small hills in the middle of nowhere had thousands of cheering fans crowding the road.  Excellent.

Stage 3 is a flat and crispy parade into London, which should culminate in a bunch sprint; too bad Mark Cavendish' crash yesterday forced him to abandon.  I guess it will be Kittel vs Greipel and everyone else can rest up.  Onward!

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my new $500 laptop

Sunday,  07/06/14  04:26 PM

My new $500 laptopA week ago I swapped my four-year-old laptop for a brand new one.  It only cost $500 and I now have the fastest, coolest laptop on the planet, basically it’s a rocket ship.  How was this possible?

I replaced the hard drive in my four-year-old laptop with a solid state drive.  1TB for $500.  And now it flies.

This was amazing but actually not surprising, since Windows Paging is so crummy.  Now that physical memory once again exceeds logical memory, you can run lots of stuff but you can't do it without paging.  The best solution is a really fast disk.  And eliminating seek time and rotational latency altogether means faster is blazingly faster.

So if you have an old laptop which could use a little speed boost, consider an SSD.  Try it, you'll like it :)

PS for you Mac people, OS X is better at paging than Windows but the speedup will still be dramatic

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 3: sprint into downtown London, Kittel triumphs again

Monday,  07/07/14  10:37 PM

Marcel Kittel triumphs in downtown LondonHo hum; today's Tour de France stage was parade from Cambridge into download London, where Marcel Kittel finished off the field easily in a bunch sprint.  The GC was unchanged, and on we go into France.  There were huge crowds in England lining the road nearly the entire way - again! - but they didn't have much of a race to watch today.

Tomorrow the field crosses the channel into France for another flat stage, a warmup before the Paris-Roubaix-like cobbles of stage 5.  Stay tuned...

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the three hour rule

Monday,  07/07/14  11:02 PM

three hours later...Today I rediscovered for the Nth time the value of the three-hour rule*: it takes three hours to get anything "done", especially if that thing is something which requires concentration, like programming.  And during that three hours it's best disable all interruptions; don't check email, take phone calls, send texts, etc.  Three hours.

A good day includes at least one three hour window, and a great day includes two :)  Today ... was a good day.  Tomorrow?  We'll see :)

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 4: yet another sprint to Kittel

Tuesday,  07/08/14  11:50 PM

Marcel Kittel takes third stage in four racesAfter a smashing start the 2014 Tour has settled into a (yawn) pattern; the field ride for several hours, millions of people cheer them on, and then Marcel Kittel outsprints everyone else for a win.  It's happened three times now in four stages, and it's getting just a bit old.  Today was a bit closer than yesterday but the result was the same.  It does not make for gripping spectation.

Tomorrow will be different however (!), we have a flat stage featuring nine cobbled sections of pave, duplicating a substantial section of the famous Paris-Roubaix race. The GC contenders will all be trying to finish intact while the classics' specialists like Fabian Cancellara try to pull off a win.  In fact, with most of the field just two seconds behind current yellow jersey wearer Vincenzo Nibbali, there's a great chance for someone to take the overall lead, at least for a day.  That should make for a great race.  Onward!

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World Cup: semi-sad

Wednesday,  07/09/14  10:40 PM

Germany blows out BrazilRats!  Both of the teams I was rooting for in the World Cup lost their semifinal matches ... Brazil were blown out by Germany, 7-1 (and it wasn't that close), and Netherlands were outlasted by Argentina, 0-0, 4-2 (and it was exactly that close).  So be it.  I am semi-sad.  The games have been fun to watch and at least Brazil and Netherlands will meet, this Saturday in the 3rd place game (Go Oranje!)

Argentina outlasts NetherlandsAnd then Germany and Argentina in the final!  The best team (Germany) vs the team with the best player (Messi, for Argentina).  Will it be a good match?  Hard to say ... I predict Germany will not score five goals in the first 30 minutes, like they did against Argentina, and I predict Messi will probably get loose at least a few times; the Dutch held him in check pretty well.  I actually think Argentina have a chance, and that's how I'll be rooting.

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 5: wet cobbles! = first selection, Froome out, Nibali extends lead

Wednesday,  07/09/14  11:57 PM

Vincenzo Nibali extends his lead in yellowYesterday I complained about how the Tour was settling into a pattern, and today's stage everything changed.  A wild, wet, and tumultuous stage over nine sections of cobblestones created this year's first real selection, with Chris Froome crashing out, Vincenzo Nibali extending his lead in yellow, and most of the GC contenders happy they made it to the finish in one piece.  Lars Boom won the stage - which was like a mini Paris-Roubaix - in convincing fashion, and Jacob Fulsong finished just ahead of his teammate Nibali in second, putting him in second overall as well.  Peter Sagan was a close fourth, extending his lead in the green jersey points competition and landing him third overall in GC.

Besides Froome, who sadly crashed twice before he even reached the cobbles and couldn't continue, the day's big loser was Alberto Contador, who rode well but ended up conceding nearly three minutes to Nibali, and over 30 seconds to Andrew Talansky, who is looking more and more like a genuine podium contender every day.  We now have to ask ourselves, can Niabli win?  We'll have to wait for the mountain stages in the alps to find out.

(Who knows... maybe Albert Contador dominates the mountains and wins the Tour, and we end up looking back at this stage as the biggest reason, as it removed Chris Froome from the picture.)

Update: There has been a lot of discussion about whether cobblestones belong in the Tour.  Without commenting on that, I just want to point out that Chris Froome crashed out *before* ever riding on cobbles.  It was a wet stage on narrow roads, but I don't think anyone is suggesting that the Tour stop riding in rain, or on back lanes in France.  Net net it is too bad that Froome is no longer in the race, but that's cycling...

Tomorrow is another flat stage, and most likely another sprint finish.  We'll see most of the peleton recovering and taking it easy, but will anyone be able to beat Kittel?  Andre Greipel, call your office.

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Le Tour 2014, stage 6: Greipel outsprints the field in the rain

Thursday,  07/10/14  11:22 PM

Andre Greipel outsprints the field to win stage 6After yesterday's wet and wild stage over the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, today shaped up to be a rather boring parade ending in a field sprint, and so it was.  Most of the field licked their wounds all day, but there were a few more crashes adding injury to injury.  The expected field sprint did materialize, but this time Andre Greipel triumphed, as Marcel Kittel sat this one out.

Tomorrow is another flat stage, but there are a couple of climbs at the end, so it may be a day for a breakaway to succeed, or more likely a chance for Peter Sagan or Alejandro Valverde.

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Le Tour 2014, stage 7: Trentin nips Sagan in the final bumps; more crashes cost more time

Friday,  07/11/14  11:42 PM

Matteo Trentin nips Peter Sagan at the finish of stage 7Looking at today's Tour 2014 stage 7 profile, you couldn't be sure whether the field would survive to the end for a bunch sprint, a breakaway would stay clear, or it would be a sprint among the survivors.  And the latter came to pass, as Matteo Trentin barely nipped Peter Sagan in a sprint finish after the pure sprinters were dropped on the late climbs.  There was more rain and more crashes, too; Tejay Van Garderen lost over a minute due to an unfortunte crash, exacerbated by his teammate Greg Van Avermaet's late attack.  Andrew Talansky also crashed right in the sprint, losing skin but no time.

Stage 8 tomorrow will be interesting; the first "real" climbs of the tour, right at the end of an otherwise flat stage, and more rain in the forecast.  On paper it looks to be a perfect opportunity for a breakaway to survive as a tired and sore peleton take the day off.  There will likely be a GC battle for time on the final climb which is short but steep.  Stay tuned!

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Le Tour 2014, stage 8: Kadri survives from break, Contador and Nibali assert themselves

Saturday,  07/12/14  12:00 PM

Blel Kadri attacks the break to win stage 8Today's stage 8 of Le Tour was predictably boring for the first three hours (ho hum, a five man break pulls 10 minutes on a disinterested and resting peleton in quiet sunshine), and then predictably exciting for the last one (a breakaway survivor wins and a GC battle errupts on the final climb in pouring rain).  And so it goes.  Congratulations to Blel Kadri (call him "Joe" :) who attacked his breakaway companions as the climbs started near the end and won convincingly, taking the lead in the climbers' polka dot jersey competition as well.

Vincenzo Nibali marks Alberto Contador on the final climb of stage 8Meanwhile back in the peleton Alberto Contador's Saxo teammates cranked up the pressure and decanted the field on the first climb, leaving a select group of about 20 riders to content the final short (1 miles) but steep (10%+) climb to the finish.  At that point Contador attacked, but he couldn't shake yellow-jersey-wearer Vincenzo Nibali, who was content to follow and not lose any time.  Richie Porte was right there too, good for him as he assumes leadershop of the Sky team from defending champion Chris Froome who crashed out in stage 5.  Meanwhile the other contenders all fell back a bit, as the Tour saw a main selection that establishes the leaderboard going into the second week.  Nibali's teammate Jakob Fulsang lost time but is still in second (1:44), Porte moved up to to third (1:58), Michal Kwiatkowski lost time but is now fourth (2:26), Alejandro Valverde also lost time but also moved up, to fifth (2:27), and Contador sits sixth (2:34).  Other would-be contenders include Rui Costa (8th, 2:52), Bauke Mollema (9th, 3:02), Tejay Van Garderen (12th, 3:34), and Andrew Talansky (16th, 4:42), who was the victim of a poorly timed crash just before the final climb.

Tomorrow will be more of the same: not high mountains, exactly, but six categorized climbs.  They don't come at the end, so perhaps we will see another breakaway and another victorious survivor.  Of note, Peter Sagan finally lost time today (18:17), after being up among the leaders in every stage so far, so he might be allowed to escape for a win.

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time passing

Saturday,  07/12/14  12:55 PM

time passing ...I'm in a reflective mood today, thinking about this year (already halfway!) and last summer (already a year ago!).  So much has happened in that time that I can't say "wow, how time flies", and yet it seems weird that so much time has passed.  Lots of memories.  You just do the best you can with each day, and see what happens...  I guess creating memories is the best use of time :)  Onward!

Brazil Netherlands analysisAnd so the world cup winds down; today we have the third place match, between Brazil, looking for some redemption after getting blown out by Germany, and the Netherlands, looking for a goal (pun intended, they've now gone two straight games without scoring one).  I've been rooting for this matchup - of course, wish it was the final - and am hoping for a wide open game; each time has some amazing scorers if they're free to fly.  Most pundits are picking Brazil, but I say Go Oranje!

Firefox vs Chrome (and IE and Safari)I've temporarily (?) switched back to Firefox as my everyday browser.  What happened was; I logged into a server, launched its browser, which happened to be Firefox, and was surprised at how snappy and cool it looked.  This is just an experiment, but so far, so good.  I've been using Chrome for so long now... the main advantage of Firefox is that it doesn't bring the previously opened window forward before launching a new window, like Chrome does.  Pretty nitty.  Stay tuned!

Speaking of page loading speed; I hate dislike it a lot when you load a page, but the main content loads separately.  You end up waiting forever while images dance all over the place before you can read the content.  Whatever happened to basic HTML, it wasn't so bad, was it?  (This is particularly bad on mobile devices)

J.R.R.Tolkein in the age of political correctnessWhy it's a good thing that J.R.R.Tolkein didn't write in the era of political correctness.  Hilarous but quite true.  You could actually substitute anyone's name for Tolkein's.  I've decided that "political correctness" is uniformly bad.  It merely means the majority imposing their views on everyone else.

An interesting corrective tactic: Following Netflix, YouTube shames ISPs delivering slow video.  This could be a great way to achieve net neutrality without regulation.

solar-powered donkeyIt's a new world: Plug your phone into this solar-powered donkey.  Excellent.

I'm eagerly awaiting my Amazon Fire phone (of course!), both to see what Firefly is all about (visual search!), as well as to finally have an Android phone.  Don't know yet whether it will be my daily driver, stay tuned.  But I agree with this: Amazon's Fire phone is an experiment to mitigate mobile's threat.  You've got to love that they're trying it!

Meanwhile: Google sets aside $500M to expand Shopping Express nationwide.  Wow.  Your phone is about to be a battleground for the retail giants.  (And eyesFinder wants to be an arms vendor in the war :)

Canada's Lake LouiseLet's wrap up with Canada's most beautiful spots.  Wow.

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 9: Tony Martin powers to win, as Tony Gallopin moves into yellow

Sunday,  07/13/14  10:04 PM

Tony Gallopin leads a 28 man break to take yellowStage 9 of the 2014 Tour was one of those interesting transition stages; plenty of climbs, but nothing too brutal, and the last coming some considerable way from the finish.  With a harder mountain stage tomorrow and a finish on a climb, and a rest day the day after, the GC contenders were content to take a rest, and Vincenzo Nibali and his Astana teammates were happy to see a break of 28 riders take off.  Tony Gallopin was the highest placed in that group, and ended up in yellow, relieving Astana of any burden tomorrow without conceding any time to the true contenders.

Tony Martin powers to an impressive winMeanwhile Tony Martin basted out early, a man on a mission, and powered to victory; even that huge break could not nail him back.  I just watched him nearly win the Tour de Suisse; boy can he burn the watts.  Just doesn't quite have the power to weight ratio you need to triumph in the mountains.

As noted tomorrow's stage is going to be tough; nine catagorized climbs included four Cat 1s and a finish at the top of the last one.  I predict serious fireworks as Alberto Contador tries to get some time back from Nibali, and Richi Porte, Andrew Talanski, etc will battle it out in a major selection for the overall.  Stay tuned!

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World Cup: Germany triumphs over Argentina, 1-0... (yawn)

Sunday,  07/13/14  10:17 PM

Germany's Mario Goetze scores the games only goal as Germany defeats Argentina in the World Cup finalAnd so the German machine ground out a 1-0 victory in the World Cup final, depriving Argentina (and Lionel Messi) of glory, and depriving us viewers of any interest.  (yawn)  I must tell you a game in which the score is 0-0 after two hours cannot be considered all that interesting, and especially this one.  The final goal by Mario Goetze was artistic, but the rest of the game was not, especially.

And so the World Cup 2014 ends.  Most soccer experts will tell you it was a great world cup, with more goals and more action than previous years; for me, it was fun watching a sport I don't follow, and rooting for the Netherlands (go Oranje!), but the experience has not transformed me into a soccer fan.  I doubt many others were converted either.  Back to the Tour!  Then Baseball.  And then ... Football :)

 

awesome Cassini

Sunday,  07/13/14  11:31 PM

One of the coolest human projects ever is Cassini, the little satellite that has been dodging in and out of Saturn for ten years now.  It has beamed tens of thousands of high-resolution pictures from Saturn and its 62 (!) moons.  Many of these pictures look like impossible stills from a sci-fi movie; nothing could *really* look like that, right?

Here are some of Cassini's greatest hits:

 

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 10: Contador crashes out as Nibali takes the queen stage and regains yellow

Monday,  07/14/14  11:35 PM

Alberto Contador crashes out of the 2014 tour on a slick descentAw, man!  First Chris Froome and now Alberto Contador have crashed out of the 2014 Tour, leaving Vincenzo Nibali as the last favorite standing.  Stage 10 was always going to be one of the toughest in the whole tour, with seven categorized climbs and two Cat 1s near the end, but add serious rainstorms and a lot of competition going into the rest day tomorrow, and it was wild.  Joaquim Rodriguez animated the early break, taking all the climbs in successful pursuit of the climbers polka dot jersey, but sadly Alberto Contador hit a pothole while descending in the rain and broke his leg, ending his tour.

Vincenzo Nibali blazed up the final climb to win the stage and reclaim the jerseyNibali saved his firepower for the last climb and powered up the final stretch of 20% to take the stage and reclaim the jersey.  At this point he's the overwhelming favorite to keep it all the way to Paris.  That same climb reordered the general classification; Richie Porte now sits second (2:23), and Alejandro Valverde third (2:47).  Other would-be contenders include Tejay Van Garderen, moving up to seventh (3:56) after a good day, and world champion Rui Costa now in ninth (3:58).

Tomorrow is the tour's first rest day and boy is the peleton ready for it.  I'll try to to a little photo essay.  And Wednesday's stage 11 is one of those bumpy stages which are tough to predict; four smaller catagorized climbs in the last 40K might let a breakaway escape, or a strongman like Peter Sagan triumph.  We'll see...

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, rest day 1: pics and thoughts

Tuesday,  07/15/14  10:42 PM

Vincenzo Nibali looks solid to win the yellow overall jerseyWe've [finally!] reached Le Tour 2014's first rest day, and what's left of the Peloton must be quite grateful.  In sheer numbers this tour hasn't necessarily been more brutal than others, but seeing so many top riders like Mark Cavendish, Andy Schleck, Chris Froome, and Alberto Contador crash out has been amazing.  It leaves the field clear for Vincenzo Nibali to win - doesn't look like anyone is going to challenge him (assuming he makes it!) - but it also clears the field for a bunch of contenders to finish on the podium.  And most of the big climbs still lie ahead.  Should be great.

Peter Sagan has the green points jersey all but locked upOther interesting subplots include Peter Sagan - he's got the green points jersey pretty well locked up, but will he win a stage?  And Roman Bardet and Thibaut Pinot compete for the white best young rider jersey, as well as top Frenchman and possibly first Frenchman to be on the podium for many years.  And Joaquim Rodriquez' pursuit of the polka dot climbers jersey.



Mark Cavendish crashes out in stage 1Mark Cavendish crashes out in stage 1 ... did not win any stages this year, leaving the sprints for Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel.

Chris Froome crashes out in stage 2Chris Froome crashes out in stage 5 ... didn't even make it to the cobbles.



Lars Boom wins stage 5, an iconic Paris-Roubaix stageLars Boom wins stage 5, an iconic Paris-Roubaix stage in the rain over cobbles.

Alberto Contador crashes out in stage 10Alberto Contador crashes out in stage 10 ... didn't even make it to the high mountains.



Thibaut Pinot and Roman Bardet battle for white best young rider jersey, and best Frenchman, and the podium!Thibaut Pinot and Roman Bardet battle for the white best young rider jersey, and best Frenchman, and the podium!

Joaquim Rodriquez looking good in the polka dot best climber jerseyJoaquim Rodriquez looking good for the polka dot climbers' jersey.


Cheers ... the Tour resumes tomorrow, with two lumpy stages which might see breakaways get clear, and then later in the week two serious mountain stages in the Alps.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Visualizing

Tuesday,  07/15/14  10:52 PM

Fluffy, kernelized!We people are pretty visual creatures, even when talking about abstract concepts we "visualize them" to gain insights.  I was thinking back to the idea of visualizing algorithms, and reflecting on how much it helps with insight and communication.  All the more reason to have great visual search :)

The picture at right has been "kernelized" by eyesFinder's Vector Quantization algorithms, breaking the image into little circular regions.  I've found this visualization is a great way to share how the algorithm works, even if the underlying math is hidden.  Oh, and please click to enbiggen for the full effect.

IOS 7 vs IOS 6After giving IOS 8 betas the old college try, I've fallen back to IOS 7.1.2.  IOS 8 is simply too buggy, there are too many things that don't work.  And sadly it isn't any better; I was hoping Apple would retrench on some of their UI stupidity and go back to buttons that look pushable, sliders that look slidable, etc.  I totally wish there was a supported way to fall back to IOS 6.  I fear this "flat look" is going to be with us for some time to come, despite being both uglier and harder to use.  I've mentioned before, I have an original iPad running IOS 5 which I use from time to time, and every time I pick it up I wish we could have that look and feel back.

Apropos: the best way to get ideas is to suffer with something that doesn't really work.  Amen.  IOS 8 has given me a lot of good ideas :)

Star Wars trailer from 1976Wow, the first trailer for Star Wars, in 1976.  I remember exactly where I was when I first saw it - my room at college - and I remember exactly my reaction - I must see this!  Never mind the crappy non-CGI spaceships... they had me at hello.  Excellent.

Microsoft's CEO needs a new editor.  "Tortured statements from CEOs mean one thing: I have something to hide."  Um, yeah.  This is one of the things we liked about Steve Jobs, when he had something to say he just said it.  Oh, here is a translation.

Marcel Duchamp's Art Deco chess set (now 3D-printable)Awesome: 3D-printable version of Marcel Duchamp's art deco chess set.  I love that we can do this sort of thing now, and so easily.

Voronoi chess setAh, but is it cooler than my 3D-printable Voronoi chess set?  I don't know...

Dave Winer: comparing APIs.  "I just spend 3 months wrangling with the current Twitter API, and got more or less the same functionality from Facebook in four days."  I feel like Twitter never really wanted third-party adoption, while Facebook early-on realized it was a huge key to growth.

Also from Dave: Why doesn't Google have a Share This Search button?  Great question.  eyesFinder will have one :)

Nichola Tesla labElon Musk donates $1M for new Tesla museum.  Excellent.  The Oatmeal strikes again!

I hope they get Arc Attack to play at the museum's opening :)

Vantablack, the blackest black yetScientists claim creation of blackest black yet.  Hmmm...  this is tough to visualize :)

Does anyone outside of silicon valley want a smartwatch?  Good question.  I've been wearing my Pebble Steel off-and-on for the past week, and I kind of like it.  I wish it looked cooler, but the functionality is pretty nice and occasionally even rises to "useful".

ZooBorn: Scops Owl chickOne of my favorite ZooBorns ever: a Scops Owl chick.  He looks like trouble :)

I have to say that of all the blogs to which I subscribe, ZooBorns most consistently puts a smile on my face :)

 

complexity: Men vs Women

Tuesday,  07/15/14  11:04 PM

 

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 11: Gallopin nips Sagan on a lumpy day; Talansky survives

Wednesday,  07/16/14  10:50 PM

Tony Gallopin powers to victory from the breakStage 11 of Le Tour 2014 was a lumpy ride along the Franco-Swiss border, with four minor climbs near the end.  Everyone figured it would be a stage for Peter Sagan, and it was, but Tony Gallopin powered out from a late break to win by a whisker, leaving Sagan frustrated again

Andrew Talansky survives the day despite serious back pain from previous crashesThe GC was largely unchanged, but a big story of the day was Andrew Talansky's desperate battle to finish inside the time limit, still suffering badly from a series of crashes.  He barely made it - yay! - and was cheered across the line by a crowd which waited over 30 minutes after the leaders had finished to cheer him on - yay! - but whether he'll be able to continue is doubtful.  And his GC hopes have been dashed entirely.

Tomorrow's stage 12 will be a bit more of the same: more lumps, four more climbs, and another chance for Sagan.  Stay tuned!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 12: Kristoff nips Sagan on another lumpy day; GC unchanged

Thursday,  07/17/14  11:02 PM

Alexender Kristoff battles Peter Sagan to the finish of stage 12Another lumpy day, another chance for Peter Sagan to win a stage, and another disappointment for him as Alexander Kristoff barely beat him to the line in the final sprint.  Behind them a tired peleton continued to recover with the GC unchanged.  It might have been the least eventful day so far in what has been a most eventful tour, marking the overall halfway point.

The peleton cruises before the AlpsAnd it gets more interesting from here, as we have the first real mountain stage in the Alps tomorrow, ending with an HC climb to the finish.  Yippee.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 13: Nibali wins on HC final climb, solidifies hold on yellow

Friday,  07/18/14  08:12 PM

Vincenzo Nibali wins stage 13 and solidifies his lead in Le Tour 2014Stage 13 of Le Tour 2014 was the first "real" mountain stage, with a Cat 1 hors d'oeuvre 40K out and a 20K HC final climb to the finish.  It promised some interesting GC dynamics, a decanting of the contenders to determine who was really in to finish on the podium, and it did not disappoint.  When the dust settled Vincenzo Nibali won the stage and solidified his hold on the yellow jersey, overtaking attackers Leopold Konig and Rafal Majka on the final ramps to the finish.  Alejandro Valverde ended up second (3:37) with best young rider Romain Bardet in third (4:24).  Thibaut Pinot and Tejay Van Garderen now round out the top five.

 

the real world

Friday,  07/18/14  09:26 PM

I've been happily working away on my new company, watching Le Tour and the World Cup, but meanwhile in the real world, things are not good.  In fact, they're very not good.

airliner shot down by military missles in the UkraineOf course this morning's tragedy was not good; pro-Russian militants in Ukraine shot down a passenger jet (or possibly, the Russian military).  Depending on your point of view, this was an isolated disaster, a mistake, or an unfortunate consequence of letting the situation in Ukraine escalate into badness.

illegal immigrants with nowhere to goBut there is a lot more which is not good.  Our President is refusing to enforce our immigration laws, exacerbating an already difficult situation.  I'll have more to say about the need for having borders and restricting immigration, but I'll just note that few of us would let strangers come and live in our homes, no matter how sympathetic we might be to their plight.

Israel retaliates against Palestinian missle sites in GazaBroken US foreign policy is also responsible for another slow motion train crash, the situation in Gaza, which has unfolded with brutal moral clarity.  That anyone thinks the Palestinians can govern themselves after the ongoing disaster there is difficult to imagine, and that anyone blames Israel for defending themselves against senseless aggression is even harder.

Lois Lerner testifies about the lost emails ... which presumably reinforced reports of IRS subversionThis has happened against a backdrop of incredible news about our government: spying on civilians, spying on foreign governments, IRS subversion and lying, and a general disregard for the law.

American unemployment: the statisticsAnd the economy?  We pissed away $7B for a stimulus which expanded our government tremendously but did little to actually stimulate anything; unemployment remains high, our economy remains stagnant, and we have an incredible new debt load to service.  The bill for Obamacare has yet to be paid, and the Medicare time bomb will soon explode.

President ObamaI'm generally optimistic and under-react to things, but it is hard to disagree with Victor Davis Hanson: in Obama's America "scandals now come so fast that each new mess makes us forget the previous one".  Let's hope we all don't forget how this all unfolded the next time we visit the ballot box.

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 14: Majka triumphs, GC solidifies

Saturday,  07/19/14  09:29 PM

the peloton in the high Alps on stage 14 of the 2014 Tour de FranceToday's second Alpine stage of the 2014 Tour de France provided more climbing fireworks.  Rafal Majka survived three tremendous climbs from a seventeen-man break to win, after finishing second yesterday.  He is giving team Tinkoff-Saxo something to celebrate after losing leader Alberto Contador back in stage 10.  Vincenzo Nibali added to his overall lead by finishing second, and the rest of the GC compacted and solidified...  Alejandro Valverde is still second (now at 4:37), Romain Bardet is till third (4:50), also in yellow, and also the top French rider, Thibaut Pinot is still fourth (5:06), and Tejay Van Garderen is still fifth (5:49) after another strong ride in the mountains.

Joaquim Rodriques crests the Col d'Izouard ahead of Alexendre De Marche on the way to a polka dot jerseyMeanwhile Joaquim Rodriguez recaptured the climber's polka dot jersey by taking all the early climb points (including leading across the top of the Col d'Izouard, and claiming the prize for the first rider over the highest point of the tour).  He is now tied with Majka, and that might be an interesting competition when the Tour reaches the Pyrenees.  Another interesting competition is the best young rider, between Bardet and Pinot, who are also battling for a podium spot and ... best Frenchman!

Tomorrow is a long transition stage (aka, watch out for Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel), and Monday is the Tour's second rest day.  After that ... the Pyrenees for three days!  Stay tuned.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 15: Kristoff wins transition stage as break caught with 20m to go

Sunday,  07/20/14  11:17 AM

Jack Bauer and Martin Elminger led the field all day, only to be caught with 20m to goArgh!  These transition stages can be nail-biters; today on Le Tour featured a long flat run through Provence, with a dead flat sprint into Nimes.  A stage for Marcel Kittel or Andre Griepel for sure, right?  But then a two-man break nearly ... nearly! ... got away, as the peloton's chase was slowed by rain and roundabouts.  Jack Bauer and Martin Elminger rode hard all day and at first it seemed they would surely be caught, and then it seemed they would make it to the finish!  But heartbreakingly they were caught, with 20m to go... and Alexender Kristoff led the field sprint across the line.  Whew.

the peloton cruise through Provence on stage 15Tomorrow is the tour's second rest day, and then Tuesday the race resumes with three stages in the Pyrenees!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

footprint

Sunday,  07/20/14  05:10 PM

Neil Armstrong: one small step for man, one giant step for mankind45 years ago today, the footprint heard around the world ... leaving a lasting impression on the human race.  Our first step off our own planet.  Pretty hard to look at that picture without feeling chills.

Jason Kottke has assembled a page where you can watch live coverage of the landing, as reported on CBS by Walter Cronkite.  Hard not to feel nostalgic for real news reporting as well as the seriousness of purpose and magnificent engineering that led to this accomplishment.  Yay!

Buzz Aldrin wants to know, where were you back then?

Apollo mission controlOf course the lunar landings were the epitome of a team accomplishment, but no doubt there were brilliant engineers making significant individual contributions.  I always think the team sets up the individual, but can never take her place.  Have we reached the end of 'genius'?  Looking around me, I don't think so...

Heh: selfies are awesome.  "I take a lot of selfies. You know why? Because I’m fucking adorable."

space disintegrator gun and helmetThose were the days: space disintegrator gun and helmet.  I feel like I'd want one of those right now (and yeah, I'd take a selfie with it :)

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: the user interface to reality.  "Today when I hear people debate the existence of God, it feels exactly like debating whether the software they are using is hosted on Amazon's servers or Rackspace."  Both subjects certainly prove strong feelings!

3D-printed Barbie armorThe perfect use for a 3D-printer: making Barbie armor!  Wow, this is genius.  I wonder if we could print her a disintegrator gun?

Meanwhile another great use: 3D-printing ice cream!  I am not making this up.  Where do I get one?  (This happened at MIT, I hope my Caltech brethren are paying attention.)

Oh, and this company lets you print selfies on toast!  Seriously.  Just when you think you've heard it all...

Mo*Math robot swarmRobot swarm descends on NYC's museum of math.  Excellent.

Weird to think the compute power of these little robots probably exceeded that of an Apollo space capsule, right?

An article in Salon (!) examines the recently announced Tesla Model 3.  Less expensive, and with a range of 200+ miles, this could be the mainstream electric car everyone has been waiting for.  We'll see... I haven't seen any pictures of this car yet, only rumors and mockups.

Airbus' electric jetAlso electrifying: Airbus' shows off its largest (A308) and smallest planes at the Farnborough air show, including a new electric "jet".  How cool is that?

Apparently Airbus sold 496 planes for $75.3B at this show.  That's a pretty successful exhibit.  Whew.

I'm going to have to work on this: how to get ahead by speaking vaguely.  Fortunately among our political leaders there are many good examples :)

ZooBorn: South African fur seal pupZooBorn of the day: a little South African fur seal pup.  Aww, he's so cute! 

(but probably, a lot oftrouble :)

 

Le Tour 2014, rest day 2: movie + thoughts

Monday,  07/21/14  10:56 PM

The Tour de France 2014 rests again today.  Left are three mountain stages in the Pyrenees, a transition stage, and a time trial left before Sunday's parade / sprint to Paris.

It seems like Vincenzo Nibali is a lock to win.  But the rest of the podium and top ten is up for grabs, should make for some exciting racing.  Peter Sagan has the green jersey sewn up.  But the polka dot jersey competition is tight (tied!) between Joaquim Rodriquez and Rafal Majka, and the white jersey is up for grabs between Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot, who are also battling for top French rider and ... perhaps most importantly ... fighting to be the first Frenchman on the podium since Ricard Virenque in 1997.  Add to that Tejay Van Garderen sitting in fifth, and riding stronger every day, and Bauke Mollema lurking in seventh, and Rui Costa ... well there's a lot of racing left.  (Update: Rui has dropped out due to pnemonia!  Rats)

It already seems a long time ago but remember stage 5, which retraced the Paris-Roubaoix route over the cobbles in the rain?  Want to see it again, from the handlebars of a riderCheck this out:

Wow.  And Onward!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 16: Rodgers attacks downhill, GC shuffled

Tuesday,  07/22/14  11:45 PM

Michael Rodgers attacks downhill to win stage 16Well you never know what's going to happen after a rest day in the Tour.  Today seemed like there might be a breakaway which could get away; the longest stage of this year's Tour, with the HC Port de Bales climb 21km from the finish.  And indeed a huge group of 21 riders broke off early before basting apart on that final climb.  Michael Rodgers went over the top first with Thomas Voelker and a small group of others, and they battled on the long downhill with Rodgers emerging victorious.  A great race.

The HC Port de Bales climb set the stageAnd meanwhile another battle played out among the GC contenders; Vincenzo Nibali made it safely up and over, along with Alejandro Valverde and the French trip of JC Peraud, Thibot Pinot, and white jersey wearer Romain Bardet, but Tejay Van Garderen struggled and lost serious time, as did Chris Horner.  (I was hoping Horner would fly without having to protect Rui Costa any longer, but looks like he's still recovering from that horrible training crash a couple of months ago.)

Tomorrow is the hardest stage of the tour, bar none; three serious Cat 1 climbs followed by an HC mountaintop finish at Pla d'Adet.  I can't wait!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 17: Majka triumphs, confirms polkadots

Wednesday,  07/23/14  11:08 PM

Rafael Majka wins the final climb up Pla d'Adet and takes the stageIn the hardest stage of this year's tour, Rafael Majka triumphed on the final mountain climb up to Pla d'Adet, giving Team Tinkoff Saxo their third stage win and confirming his right to wear the polka dot jersey of the King of the Mountains.  Any one of the climbs in this stage could have been decisive, but having four serious climbs in a row certainly created a selection.  And it was fun to watch, too.  Behind the leaders the GC contenders battled but ultimately the times were little changed, except that Romain Bardet faltered a little and ceded time and the white best young rider jersey to Thibout Pinot.

Tomorrow's stage 18 is yet another tough Pyrenees stage, with two HC climbs: up the Col du Tourmalet and another serious mountaintop finish atop the Hautecam.  Excellent!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 18: Nibali confirms dominance up Hautecam

Thursday,  07/24/14  11:20 PM

Vincenzo Nibali confirms his dominance of the 2014 Tour by attacking on the final climb and winning the stageIn the final decisive road stage of the 2014 Tour, Vincenzo Nibali triumphed up the final HC climb of Hautecam and confirmed his dominance of this year's Tour.  Barring a disaster in Saturday's time trial, he will wear the yellow jersey in Paris.  And at this point who could deny him; the way he's ridden this tour, he might well have won even if Chris Froome and Alberto Contador were still riding.

Chris Horner attacks on the final climb of stage 18 up HautecamIt was a great race all the way up the last climb; if you've ever wanted to watch a truly great race up a truly tough mountain, this would be a good one to go back and watch.  I enjoyed every minute of it, especially 42-year-old Chris Horner's late attack on the GC leaders, which was glorious despite ultimately failing.  Rafael Majka had a great ride too, as did Tejay Van Garderen and JC Peraud.  Unfortunately Alejandro Valverde faltered in the final battle and now sits fourth, with some serious work to do in the time trial to get back on the podium.  And it was a great race for France, as there were no fewer than three French riders battling and left with a chance at the podium.

Tomorrow is a flat sprinters stage - the last chance for a breakaway, so could be interesting - and then Saturday is the long time trial before Sunday's parade into Paris.  Onward.

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 19: Navardauskas outruns charging peleton

Friday,  07/25/14  11:33 PM

Ramunas Navardauskas powers away from a charging peleton to grab victoryOn paper the last road stage of the 2014 Tour looked like one for the sprinters; a flat "transition" stage.  But as the last chance for glory you knew anything could happen, and something great did; Ramunas Navardauskas attacked the peloton on a dinky Cat 4 climb near the end and then powered away from a charging peloton to give Team Garmin Sharp their first victory of the tour.  And it certainly made for great spectating, it seemed he would be reeled in just at the end like his teammate Jack Bauer on stage 15, yet he held on and made it.  Yay.

Stage 20 tomorrow is the time trial, and there's quite a lot at stake; 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place are up for grab between JC Peraud, Thibot Pinot, and Alejandro Valverde, and 5th and 6th are in play between Romain Bardet and Tejay Van Garderen.  Stay tuned!

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 20: Martin wins TT as Nibali cruises to final yellow

Saturday,  07/26/14  10:43 PM

Tony Martin wins the 2014 Tour's final time trial stageThe amazing 2014 Tour de France continued today as Tony Martin won the long 40km time trial, extending his dominance in the TT discipline.  Vincenzo Nibali finished a strong fourth, wrapping up his overall GC victory.  JC Peraud passed his French countryman Thibot Pinot to end up second, despite two punctures, and Alejandro Valverde failed to gain ground, leaving Pinot on the podium in third and finishing fourth overall (and taking the white jersey as best young rider).  Tejay Van Garderen finished fifth for the second time, after barely passing Romain Bardet.

So ends a great Tour; tomorrow is the traditional parade to Paris, punctuated at the end by what will likely be a ferocious bunch sprint.  I'm sad!  I don't want the Tour to end...

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

Le Tour 2014, stage 21: Kittel wins final sprint (again); Nibali golden in yellow

Sunday,  07/27/14  10:53 PM

the peleton rides down the banks of the Seine on their way to the final straight over the Champs d'ElyseeTo nobody's surprise Marcel Kittel won the final bunch sprint down the Champs d'Elysee in Paris, after the usual flurries of attacks on the cobbles in front of millions of screaming Frenchman.  It was an amazing pageant, as always, to see 200 brightly clad riders flying down the boulevard at 40mph.

The final jerseys of the 2014 Tour; Vincenzo Nibali (yellow), Peter Sagan (green), Rafael Majka (polka dot), and Thibot Pinot (white)And so ends the remarkable 2014 tour; with Vincenzo Nibali in firm possession of the overall leader's yellow jersey, Peter Sagan equally secure in the sprinter's green jersey, Rafael Majka in the king of the mountain's polka dots, and Thibot Pinot as the best young rider in white.

It was a great three weeks of great racing, with a little bit of everything, and after looking forward to each day's racing I'm sorry it's all over.  I guess I'll have my little period of mourning and then we can look forward to the 2014 Vuelta a Espana.  (Will Chris Horner be able to defend against Chris Froome and Alberto Contador?)

[ Le Tour 2014: all posts | index ]

 

resurfacing

Thursday,  07/31/14  11:45 PM

Got for it, little Picton!Whew, what a week!  What a two weeks...  work work work and a wonderful interlude sailing an E Scow with a friend in Charleston and a business trip to Boston.  And so much going on at eyesFinder.  But there's a lot going on elsewhere too ... let's take a look, shall we?

PS if you're interested please check us out at eyesFinder (we have a cool new site); we also have a cool blog all about visual search where we're posting every day.  If you're interested please subscribe, or Like us on Facebook, or Follow us on Twitter.

I am spending 50% of my time coding these days, and the other 100% of my time doing everything else.  It has been great.  There is so much pleasure in slowly patiently building something piece by piece, making all the pieces fit just so.  Awesome!

And you cannot code without music, and good code makes good music even better.  Yay, Slacker.

the Martian, by Andy WeirJust finished The Martian, by Andy Weir.  It was excellent, highly recommended, as plausible near-future science fiction.  So much greatness and so much humor too.  (Thanks, Brad Feld.)  Couldn't wait to reach the end of each day so I could visit Mars :)

Fun fact: this book was first self-published as an e-book on Amazon, and Random House picked it up for printing afterward.

The Honest Truth About DishonestyThe 'Just in Time' theory of user behavior.  Aka, "the path of least resistance is everyone's best friend".  Taken from a cool new book: The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, by Dan Ariely.

Bill Gates' and Warren Buffets' favorite business book is out of print.  Written in 1971, in consists of 12 stories from The New Yorker.  However, it is now available ... as an e-book.  Cool.

Nobody doubt's Google's cloud intentions anymore.  Nope.  But then, whoever did?

Nobody doubt's Apple's either.  They've been accused of incompetence, but they're serious.

And ... Microsoft, IBM surge ahead of Amazon in cloud revenue growth.  Note they're talking about the first derivative here, not the absolute numbers.  But, still.

I read this with great interest: What's Google's biggest fear?  Native search.  That is, sites and apps which have their own search, instead of using Google.

If this is truly their biggest fear, then visual search will exacerbate it.  We strike fear into the heart of Google! Yes!  (getting a bit carried away here :)

Speedtest: Verizon FIOS now symmetrically fastVerizon FIOS gets speed boost; uploads now as fast as downloads.  Yep.  Thank you!

Helpful: Why seven hours of sleep might be better than eight.  Personally I suggest six, but that's just me...

Minion on Fire (Amazon's new Fire Phone)So did I tell you?  I've got a Fire Phone.  So far I like it, stay tuned for a full review.  In the meantime, the critics have soundly panned it.  Ah, they didn't like the first Kindle either, and now look. 

Yes, my minion is on Fire :)

MG Siegler thinks it is so much of a failure that he's recommending a VP of Devil's Advocacy.  We'll see.

Amazon's 3D StoreExcellent: 3D-printing comes to Amazon.  Of course.  Although right now they're selling 3D-printed stuff, someday they will sell the models so you can print your own at home.

Guess before clicking: The most important factor of startup success.  I agree entirely.  (It’s not having a funny Dutch founder who sails and cycles, although that was a good guess :)

Why OKCupid's experiments aren't the same as Facebook's.  Yeah I kind of agree.  The difference is setting expectations.

ZooBorn: Lynx CubThis little guy is too cute, ZooBorn of the week is Jasper, a Lynx Cub.

 
 

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universal healthcare
entertainment
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
resolved
to space
notebooks
where are the desktop apps?