Critical Section

Archive: February 2015

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Super bad call

Sunday,  02/01/15  11:09 PM

Super bad callWhew.  Well was that the worst play call in history?  Pretty much.  With 26 seconds left and your team trailing 28-24, you've driven to your opponent's one-yard line, helped by a magnificent (and headless) catch.  Now you have four plays to go one yard.  And you have the world's best back (known for his "beast mode"), and a great line.  So ... you pass ... it is intercepted ... and you lose the game.  Whew.  Well it made for good theater, anyway.

Katie Perry flies through the air on a "rocket"The halftime show was okay.  I like Katie Perry and Missy Elliot - kind of a weird combination though - and Lenny Kravitz is always welcome.  Standing on a lion ... cool ... dancing beach balls and sharks ... cool ... blasting through the air on a rocket ... way cool. (And how did she get through all those costume changes?)  The music was too poppy for my taste but overall it was fun to watch.

can you explain what Internet is?In other Super news, the ads were all mostly super boring.  My far-away favorite was Bryant Gumble and Katie Couric trying to figure out "what is the Internet", an add for the all-electric BMW i3.  The tagline was "sometimes it takes a while to get the future", and it was funny and made sense. Please note advertisers, it was funny and it made sense.  That's what works.  Not funny does not work, and funny by itself does not work.  The worst ad was the one from Nationwide Insurance about the dead kid - yeah, seriously NOT funny.  What were they thinking?

[Update: One more thing about the Super Bowl... was it just me, or were there a million NBC house ads?  I skipped through them; we wanted to watch the Super ads, but not those ads.  It left me wondering, was there that much unsold inventory, or did NBC really think we needed to know about their new Thursday night lineup twenty times?  (What do networks and "lineups" really mean anymore anyway, with everyone watching via their Tivos and Netflix and Hulu?)  Anyway it seemed like a big waste of money.]


reliving Groundhog Day

Monday,  02/02/15  09:41 PM

Groundhog Day ... again!Along with everyone else, we re-watched Groundhog Day tonight.  Great movie.  Something about this story with these characters just ... works.  Over and over again.  And in contrast to the story itself, they got all the details right the first time.

Inhabitat claim to have the true story of Groundhog Day.

Meanwhile ... six more weeks of winter!

PonoPlayer - does not sound any better than an iPhoneTotally suspected this: Neil Young's PonoPlayer put up against iPhone, falls flat.  This felt like a $200-HDMI-cable type of scam to me, and it doesn't surprise me at all to find people can't hear the difference.  Buy better headphones!  (Of course)

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: Science's biggest fail.  "I nominate everything about diet and fitness."  I second the nomination.  How often do we read about conflicting studies regarding the health of coffee, red wine, chocolate, meat, etc.?  Although I'm not sure the science itself is to blame; perhaps it is just the most fertile soil for scamming.  With weather climate change close behind.

the SaaS adventure!Neeraj Agrawal: The SaaS Adventure.  "What does it take to build a billion-dollar SaaS enterprise-software company?  Phase 1 is establish great product-market fit.  It’s critical this pain be among the top one or two pain points for the company’s target customer."  Hmmm...

Love the picture which accompanied the article, even though it has nothing to do with SaaS...

exploding kittens achievementsNewsweek: How a card game about exploding kittens broke a kickstarter record.  "Since its campaign launched on January 19, Exploding Kittens has attracted more than 120,000 backers, a record for the fundraising platform, who have contributed more than $5 million for a game that they have never seen."  Meme of the year ... so far.

I love the achievement graphics on the campaign page.  Can't wait to see the magical enchiladas :)


Wednesday,  02/04/15  10:06 PM

Rosetta surprise!Rosetta, the Comet, and the Science of Surprise.  To which Glenn Reynolds comments, "but what were the scientists wearing?"  :)

The FAA - regulating business on the moon.  "The United States government has taken a new, though preliminary, step to encourage commercial development of the moon.  According to documents obtained by Reuters, U.S. companies can stake claims to lunar territory through an existing licensing process for space launches."  Whoa.

Philip Greenspun: Job opportunities for Math PhDs.  Links the great New Yorker story The Pursuit of Beauty, about Thomas Zhang, who recently published some groundbreaking work in prime theory, after having kept the books at a Subway.

riding light - the Sun, as seen from a photonAn interesting movie: Riding Light.  Which shows, in realtime, what the sun would look like from a photo traveling away from it at the speed of light.  Makes you realize how slow that actually is compared to distances within our solar system.  Or conversely, how large those distances actually are...

MG Siegler: Punxsutawney Jeff.  "Yes, Amazon can turn a profit if it chooses to. And don’t you forget it! (At least for a few more quarters until you do once again.)  For now, it is right back into the warm, cozy hole for Amazon. As investors wait for the spring which may or may not ever come."

Tesla App for Apple WatchEleks software unveils Telsa Motors app for the Apple Watch.  Excellent.  Because who wants to have to pull out their phone to turn on their car's climate control?

The most interesting part of this is that the app wasn't built by Telsa or Apple.  The power of open APIs and platforms.

Google Earth Pro - now freeGoogle Earth Pro is now free!  Awesome... :)


twenty reasons

Wednesday,  02/04/15  10:48 PM




black and white

Thursday,  02/05/15  10:52 PM



by Marcin Ryczek via MG Siegler



Friday,  02/06/15  09:57 PM

Coding away again ... and the Ole filter makes a pass ...

imperial cruiserC|Net: Coolest vehicles in the Star Wars universe.  They *are* cool.  Which is your favorite?  Mine is unquestionably the Imperial Cruiser, based solely on the opening scene of the very first Star Wars movie.  Everyone remembers that as the first time science fiction became "real" :)

SpaceX Falcon9And meanwhile, back on Earth, SpaceX will attempt a potentially historic launch and landing this weekend.  Excellent and fXf!

Popular Mechanics has a detailed explanation of the mission.

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: What makes stuff go viral?  (In which he make the common confusion between "viral" and "popular".)  "The topic needs to already be in people’s minds, the quality has to be “good enough,” and it has to appeal to folks’ egos."  The last one is most interesting...

In case you need it: How to make an executive offer, and succeed.  "Never make an offer until you are 100 percent sure that the person is going to accept."  So obviously all the work comes before the offer.  Good luck!


Mount Thielsen

Saturday,  02/07/15  08:21 PM


(click to enbiggen)

Sunrise on Mount Thielsen, by Scott Loftesness

Seems like a great climb :)



Alta Alpina, again

Saturday,  02/07/15  09:27 PM

I've decided I need to ride Alta Alpina again, and this time, I need to finish.  You may recall, I tried last year, and despite riding 160 miles and climbing 17,000 feet, I did not make it.  Boo.  This is the toughest double century there is - 200 miles with 20,000 feet of climbing - and you have to be in great shape to do it, and I wasn't.  So... I'm planning to ride every day.  This is the kind of resolution that's easier to make than to execute.  Stay tuned!



Monday,  02/09/15  08:34 PM

Blogging the blues ...

'Get Lucky', covered ten timesOld meets new: A guitar cover of Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' in the styles of 10 famous guitarists.  By the well-named Andre Antunes.  Carlos Santana, Steve Vai, Kurt Cobain, Angus Young (AC/DC), Slash (Guns 'n Roses), Brian May (Queen), Mark Knopfler (Dire Straights), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Joe Satriani, and Eddie Van Halen.  It's awesome.  The guitarists I know well (Santana, Knopfler, Satriani, and Van Halen) were covered perfectly.  I love it.

An idea whose time has come: Uber for helicopters.  Yes of course we all want this.  We might not be able to afford it yet, but we want it...

There's a new 'zine in town: Apple World Today, launched by former TUAW staffers.  (TUAW = "the unofficial Apple weblog", recently decomissioned by new owner AOL)  Subscribed!

preparing for Apple WatchAnd AWT are off to a good start with: Preparing for the Apple Watch.  A detailed list of launch features.  My favorite right now is that I'll be able to use Apple Pay from my iPhone 5S.

A nice long read: There goes the neighborhood, again.  In which a new Oakland homeowner in a newly gentrified area digs into the history of his house, and discovers the waves of settlers.  Most interesting.

Kaierkan, RussiaAnother good long read: Six stories from the Russian North.  I've been thinking a lot about settlement on Mars (!), and I believe settlement near the polar circle is a good proxy.  Amazing.

This is a picture of Kaierkan, Russia, which translates as "death valley".

PS did you know there's such a place as the White Sea?  Brrr..


3,000 posts, and counting

Monday,  02/09/15  10:10 PM

post ... gateJust noticed this will be my 3,000th post.  Wow.

I hope you've enjoyed them almost as much as I have.  And I hope they were gates rather than fences.

When I started blogging in 2003, I'm not sure I thought I'd still be doing it twelve years later.  Will I be blogging in 2027?  Stay tuned :)


Tuesday,  02/10/15  10:46 PM

Post #3,001:  Back to work.  In which the Ole filter makes a pass, and finds ...

Sin City - Aerial photos of Las VegasSin City, a series of high-altitude aerial photos of Las Vegas.  Awesome!

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, ready for takeoffSpaceX's launch attempt today was scrubbed due to excessive upper atmosphere winds.  So be it, stay tuned for another attempt mañana.  So interesting that this launch won't be as suspenseful as the landing.  fXf!

Did you know?  Apple's Dictionary is cooler than you think.  After reading this post, I have to agree.  Thanks.

Philip Greenspun attempts the impossible: Listing the most perverse things about the US tax code.  Child care deductions, alimony treatment, inheritance, health care, capital gains, and mortgage deductions are all featured.

Of course: JetBlue becomes first airline to accept Apple Pay.  Anywhere card swipes are a nuisance, NFC is going to be accepted.  I remember when the iPhone 5S was introduced thinking that fingerprint sensor was going to prove much more useful than people thought...

And: competitors race aluminum shovels down a ski slope at 65mph.  But of course!

The quest for virality is making everything shitty.  Yeah, that could be defended.  But fortunately you have the Ole filter to protect you!


eight people to dinner, solved

Wednesday,  02/11/15  08:46 PM

The other day I asked:

Eight people are seated at a circular table. Each person gets up and sits down again_either in the same chair or in the chair immediately to the left or right of the one they were in. How many different ways can the eight people be reseated?

So ... I know you've all been working on the problem ... want to know the answer?  No, it's not 42, it's ... 49!  Is that what you got?

very long not-round tableHere's how I got it.  Basically each person can either stay where they are or swap with the person next to them.  If they don't stay where they are and don't swap, then you end up with an unused chair and someone who has no chair, and that's not allowed.

Let's first consider a table which is NOT round.  Let's call N(x) the number of ways people can be reseated at such a table, where x is the total number of people and seats. 

The first person can either stay where they are, or they can swap with their only neighbor.  If they stay where they are, there are N(x-1) remaining possibilities.  If they swap, there are N(x-2) remaining possibilities.  That means N(x) = N(x-1) + N(x-2). This happens to be the Fibonacci sequence.  Who knew Fibonacci was a waiter?

Next lets consider a table which IS round.  Let's call R(x) the number of ways people can be reseated at such a table, where x is the total number of people and seats.

The first person either stays where they are, or they can swap with their left neighbor, or swap with their right neighbor.  If they stay where they are, there are N(x-1) remaining possibilities.  (See what I did there?*)  If they swap, there are N(x-2) remaining possibilities*.  They have two neighbors with whom they can swap.  So R(x) = N(x-1) + 2N(x-2).  Except ... with a round table there are two other possibilities, everyone can swap right, and everyone can swap left.  So R(x) = N(x-1) + 2N(x-2) + 2.

Okay... now we can solve the problem:

N(1) = 1
N(2) = 2
N(3) = 1+2 = 3
N(4) = 2+3 = 5
N(5) = 3+5 = 8
N(6) = 5+8 = 13
N(7) = 8+13 = 21

R(8) = N(7) + 2N(6) + 2 = 21 + 2(13) + 2 = 49

Bon appetit!

* after the first person decides, the rest of the round table becomes "straight"


Mobile Apps 2.0

Thursday,  02/12/15  10:10 PM

Didn’t see this coming but a most interesting move for both companies: Apple teams up with Pinterest to help make app discovery even easier.

In thinking about the endgame for every business having an app, the problem of how to get users to download and use hundreds of apps seems severe. In fact even finding the apps is a problem. Perhaps this could help.

We continue to see that the applications for visual search are vast and growing.

I’ve been thinking about mobile apps a lot lately … (as you might expect!) The IOS and Android app ecosystems are thriving and perhaps one might think nothing need be done to make them healthier, but in fact, there is a lot that can be done.

First, there is the problem of finding interesting apps, isolating the signal from the noise. No app store has solved this effectively. Second, there is the problem of installing apps; in theory a single link can do the trick, but in practice the process is more complicated, involving authentication and many clicks and time. People are loathe to pay for apps without trying them first, and there is no way to have trial periods without complicated fremium models or implementing in-app upgrades. Perhaps more significantly, there is significant effort requires to create apps, far beyond (and different from) the effort required to create websites. And finally there is competition for apps on a phone; too many apps take up too much space, and clutter one’s phone desktop. Honestly the desktop itself is a problem; except for the home page, who searchers for apps by visually scanning their desktop anymore?

I predict this whole mechanism will evolve. Finding apps will be as easy and varied as finding websites, with many search engines and referral processes and review media. A single link will do the trick for trying an app, and it will not require authentication or [too much] time, and it will be easily reversible. The business models will evolve to make upgrading to a paid version easy. (Most apps are free anyway, just like most websites!) There will be cloud-based caches for apps, so that competition for phone resources will not be a problem. (Similar to the way iCloud and Dropbox have made “infinite” libraries of music and videos possible.) And finally the desktop will be replaced with something better and easier. We no longer have an icon on our computer for each website we visit, and we will not have an icon for each app we’ve tried either. The home page will be a most-recently used cache.

Oh one more crucial thing … mobile apps will evolve a mechanism for deep linking, so that they can link to each other, and link to each other’s content. This capability is the single main thing that made the web what it is today (indeed, it is the reason the web is so-named), and the lack of it is the most restrictive thing about the mobile app world.

Perhaps the best way to kill several of these birds with one stone is to park each mobile app at a unique URL in webspace. You can link to the app simply by … linking to the app, and if you follow the link then the app is loaded. A well defined way will be created to serve up an IOS or Android or Windows version, as appropriate. URLs which are subordinate to the app can be used for deep linking.

And of course, visual search will be integrated into the discovery process, to make finding apps even easier.


the Fry's toy store

Thursday,  02/12/15  10:43 PM

Yesterday I had the need / opportunity to visit my local Fry's Electronics, aka "the toy store".  I hadn't been there for a while, but fortunately nothing had changed.  Well actually the store is in a constant state of upheaval, with new aisles and products and product categories all the time, and old ones gradually being phased out, but much like a stream of water from a faucet the overall shape remains the same.

(click to enbiggen)

I was especially delighted to see a large wall of motherboards for sale.  Over the years the specs have changed - possibly they change daily! - but the idea that you can build your own computer remains.  I've never done this, but something inside me wants to, and it's a comfort to know that I can.

Other random observations:

  • Can't believe they *still* sell software in boxes.  Not nearly as much, but still.
  • Computer gaming seems to have peaked and is now in decline.  No doubt consoles have eclipsed PCs for general gaming.  Xbox etc.
  • Desktop PCs are history.  Laptops are where it's at, along with Chromebooks and tablets and phablets.
  • Glad to see they still sell basic electronic components like power supplies and circuit boards.  With the demise of Radio Shack (and the previous conversion of Radio Shack from hobbiest heaven to phone stores), Fry's are the last bastion of do-it-yourselfish-ness.
  • Stereo systems are definitely on the decline.  Replaced by ... what, exactly?  Multimedia centers, maybe.  Still plenty of speakers but they are TV/video -oriented, not necessarily for listening to music.
  • Curved TVs we hardly knew ya.  3D TVs ... huh?  And now we have 4K.  So be it.
  • Interesting how much home security stuff they now sell.  Complete surveillance systems.
  • 3D printing has come to Frys... they have printers, filament, etc.  Yay!

Random prediction:

  • Wearable computing will be big.  By Fall there will be a huge section of them at Fry's.

I'll be back...


Saturday,  02/14/15  10:26 AM

the DrakkarI've been busy ... coding, riding, and thinking ... in approximately that order, of various permutations thereof.  The year is now truly under way...

Powerline remembers Mr. Lincoln.  "Lincoln was America’s indispensable teacher of the moral ground of political freedom at the exact moment when the country was on the threshold of abandoning what he called its 'ancient faith' that all men are created equal."

the Genius BarOh no ... the Genius Bar might be losing its logo.  "It’s possible that this is a move by Apple’s new retail chief, Angela Ahrendts, to make her mark on Apple’s worldwide retail locations."  Sigh.  The first thing marketing people want to do is change the names and the logos.

Good to know: Tesla Model S voice commands.  Best single feature: "Play X", where X is any band, song, or album ... thanks to Slacker.

When dining at a restaurant, often the best options is to sit at the bar.  I agree entirely.

This is excellent: The problem with action movies today.  Goes a bit deeper than you might think, and provides great examples.  The two best suggestions: the hero must be a real person, and they must have a real challenge to overcome.

the trailer: Star Wars vs Star TrekMeanwhile: Star Wars vs Star Trek.  "No, it's not real.  Yet."  It's interesting to think about, which is/are the better action movies?  I would vote for Star Trek, on two counts; better (more relatable) heroes, and better (more realistic) science.  Though I will most definitely see the next Star Wars movie :)

Awesome: Watch a reply of the ESA's spaceplane launch.  Who knew?

And ... DSCOVR space satellite successfully launched by SpaceX.  Sadly the weather at the landing site was too rough to allow an attempt to land the rocket boosters on a barge, so that will have to wait for next time.  Onward.

Radio Shack TRS-80I, Cringley remembers Radio Shack.  "The barebones TRS-80 cost $199.95 in a pretty much unusable form and about $1800 completely tricked out. The TRS-80 was fabulously successful."  I remember that, and also when Radio Shack was a mini Fry's.

J Class yachts racing (1937 America's Cup)This is excellent: J Class to be part of 2017 America's Cup.  Watching huge catamarans foiling at 50 knots is pretty cool, but watching majestic J Class yachts racing is the best.  So interesting that new ones are being built today, and are designed to be competitive with the survivors from the golden age of the 30's and 40's...

the original SNL castCNN: 40 reasons why SNL is still awesome at 40.  I'm not a regular SNL watcher (nor actually a regular TV watcher at all), but I'm a fan of SNL and am anticipating the 40th anniversary show this Sunday with great interest...



Sunday,  02/15/15  10:33 PM




alien spaceship

Sunday,  02/15/15  10:46 PM


my latest 3D printing project:
the alien spaceship
turns out 808K vertices and 1.6M faces present a slight problem
so be it
stay tuned :)



more cowbell

Monday,  02/16/15  11:02 PM

more cowbell: Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake open the SNL 40 year anniversarySo, did you watch SNL's 40th anniversary show?  It was pretty amazing... from the opening number by Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake (more cowbell!), to Emma Stone imitating Gilda Radner as Rosanne Rosannadanna, to Bill Murray singing the love song from Jaws.  Yay.  (Oh, and that Wayne's World top ten was pretty great.)  Worst moments: Miley Cyrus ... (predictably lame) ... and Eddie Murphy (unexpectedly disappointing).

Apparently the after party was quite something, too :)

Global Warming update: Boston's snowiest month ever.

the Apple car?The past week we've been inundated with rumors of an Apple Car.  That would be cool, but Jason Calacanis thinks Apple will buy Tesla for $75B in 14 months.  Noted.

Jean-Louis Gassee does not think so.

Apple's Jonny IveThe New Yorker profiles Jonny Ive.  A most interesting in-depth article.  It does NOT seem they are working on a car.  But it does seem like the Apple Watch is going to be quite something.

Frank Drake (of the Drake equation) points out that it's silly to send messages to ET.  It would take too long to be useful, and if ET is out there, she's already sending messages to us.  Interesting.

new VAIO Z laptopIt has been a LONG time since I've lusted after a new laptop.  My main axe is a four-year-old HP, recently revitalized with an SSD.  But checking out the new [Sony-less] VAIO Z series makes me think ... hmmm.


Wednesday,  02/18/15  10:36 PM

objective CI have been working on an iPhone app.  In the past I've played with Objective C and even modified existing working code, but this is my first foray into creating a new app from scratch*.  Pretty interesting.  As usual learning the environment (Xcode etc) is a bigger curve than learning the language and runtime...

* where by "scratch" I mean heavily copy-and-paste-ing from others :)

Meanwhile, it's all happening...

the rewriteWe watched the Rewrite the other night, on iTunes, before it was even released into theaters.  A pleasant Hugh Grant romantic comedy.  I like Hugh Grant and like his character, but why does he always get written as a has-been?  (About a Boy, Music and Lyrics, and now The Rewrite...)

As the father of four girls / women, I enjoyed this essay by Whitney Fleming very much: To my daughter, at halftime.  Since this was written by a mother of a 9-year-old, I feel like adding to her #10, which is "the best is yet to come", a #11: "you ain't seen nothing yet" :)

From the CEO of Gallup, an unusually opinionated stance: The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment.  The government has been moving these goalposts for years; I've been in the workforce for ... um ... thirty-five years, and that whole time people have complained that the economy isn't as robust as the government claim it to be.

Apropos: America's new aristocracy: the hereditary meritocracy.  An important point, well taken; as society removes the barriers which prevented people from all strata to succeed based on merit, new stratification caused by merit will form.  This is the biggest obstacle those who would battle "income inequality" face, and the more barriers they remove, the stronger the obstacle.  My opinion is that all such barriers should be removed, and after that it is what it is.

So we've had a [half-]black President now, what's next?  Maybe a non-college graduate?  A Scott Walker Presidency would be a breath of fresh air for an ivy-league suffocated government.  Given the previous point about meritocracy, one might conclude this has become less likely than before, but of course there will always be exceptions and Governor Walker appears to be a big one.

Powerline examine CNN's claim that this has been a Hellish week for Religion.  "What we have here is a series of atrocities carried out by extremist members of one religion, Islam. You could compile a similar list just about any week out of the year. What makes this a story about 'religion,' rather than about Islam?"  I'm not a fan of organized religions, but Islam definitely stands out as the religion most often cited as the inspiration for terrorism.  I'm tired of the media hiding this under the blanket of multiculturalism.  All cultures are not equal.

Pebble supports Android WearPebble's smartwatch now supports Android Wear apps.  Cool.  I'm a Pebble Steel wearer and I'm rooting for little Pebble against giant Apple and Google.  This compatibility makes it easier for app developers to support Pebble, and hence makes Pebble more compelling for users.


don't drink and derive

Wednesday,  02/18/15  11:30 PM


although I must say drinking does help you integrate with others :)



Friday,  02/20/15  10:36 PM

CCATomorrow I shall be called upon to arise at 3:30 for a quick trip to San Francisco, taking Meg to visit California College of the Arts.  That should be "fun".  And so I should be sleeping ... and so I'm blogging instead ...

Scott Walker's new specialty: punting.  "Sometimes the best answer to a question is a refusal to answer."  Especially when the purpose of the question is a gotcha, rather than an honest attempt to learn.

Mark Cuban says Net Neutrality will f*ck up the internet.  I'm not sure I'd put it that strongly, but more government regulation is never the solution to any problem.  And it isn't clear there even is a problem here.  It bothers me that so many people think net neutrality is obviously right* and don't even understand the issue.

* the way the issue has been named is quite clever, because we're all coached to think "neutrality" is a good thing.

cricket, explainedWell played: An animated guide to Cricket.  Now you, too can argue infinitely about whether someone was LBW.

2015 ATOC route announcedExcellent: 2015 Amgen Tour of California Route announced.  Love that they're heading to a mountaintop finish on Mt. Baldy again, and yes, of course I am going to ride it and watch the finish.  Great stuff.  So glad an America bike race has become one of the top one-week stage races in the world!

frozen Hudson RiverGlobal Warming update: The coldest day ever.  "Temperature records broken across the country by the 'Siberian Express' cold snap as Manhattan hits 1F."  Did not realize Al Gore was visiting New York.  Click through to see the pictures, they're beautiful as well as impressive; that's the Hudson River, frozen, at right...

Mars / Venus Conjunction tonightI'm too cold to check this out: Mars and Venus Conjunction tonight.  It's pretty rare to have the Moon in the mix too, wonder what that means?



Sunday,  02/22/15  10:04 AM

Megan at CCAWell it all worked out perfectly in the end yesterday - an amazing trip, with great results - but there were some disturbances in the force, for sure.  Wow.

That's Meg at right, awaiting the tour.

welcome to the jungle, cello styleLoved (!) this ... an impressive cello cover of Guns N' Roses 'Welcome to the Jungle'.  Most surprising thing about this was realizing this song dates back to 1987.  Wow.

So tonight we have the Oscars ... which means many should be reading this: How to accept an Oscar properly.  I always thought John Wayne set the standard.  Honestly upon rewatching that, and looking at the stars, their dress, and their class ... how the mighty have fallen.  Few among tonight's award presenters or recipients can rise to that standard.  But they can at least try!

Racism in America: some minorities are more equal than others.  So if I read this correctly, Asians need SAT scores 140 points higher than comparable whites (to receive admission to Princeton), while hispanics only need scores 185 points lower, and blacks 240 points lower.  How can this be anything except blatant racism?

Supreme Court justice Clarence ThomasAt least one Supreme Court justice agrees with me: Clarence Thomas, the second black justice, is now leading the national debate on race.  "His opinions are rooted in the premise that the 14th Amendment - guaranteeing equal rights for all - cannot mean different things for different people."  Does not seem especially controversial, but yet in 2015, it is...

This is excellent: what's useful about the long lines at the California DMV?  In which an independent game developer used people waiting in line to test his games :)


space probes

Sunday,  02/22/15  11:10 AM


This is so cool: the website tracks all space probes currently active in and around our solar system.  (Well, all human space probes, anyway :)

From this you can learn that ... Voyager 1 is the furthest from earth, but Voyager 2 was launched just before it, and that only one probe has visited Uranus or Neptune (in 1979), and that DSCOVR, the most recently launched (by SpaceX!), is destined for the infamous L1 point between the Earth and the Sun.

And that there are only 29 such probes in existence.  Or depending on your point of view, that there are 29! probes.  How many of these could you name?  How many do you recognize?


Monday,  02/23/15  10:22 PM

Crescent Dunes solar power plantDo you know what this is?  Depending on your point of view, it's either a solar power station, or a serious threat to birds.  JWZ reports this battle station is now fully operational.

If you're a frequent reader you know I think solar power stations like this are ridiculous, not because of their danger to birds, but because of their inefficiency; if there were no subsidies available they would be uneconomical and would never be built.  Solar power makes sense for heating water on rooftops, but not for generating electricity.

From John at Desk: thoughts on distribution.  "I have historically and naively believed in the if you build it they will come sentiment around building great apps and making them work as a business and I now know, without a shadow of a doubt, that having anything close to that attitude and perspective is the easiest way to through away time, effort, and a ton of money."  Amen.

He quotes Peter Thiel in Zero to One: It's better to think of distribution as something essential to the design of your product.  Yep.

should you be a startup CEO?VC Mark Suster asks: Should you be a startup CEO?  A really good discussion about the personal economics as well as the other considerations.

John Gruber: On the pricing of Apple Watch.  Everyone seems to agree the gold Apple Watch Edition models will be expensive - thousands of dollars - but nobody can agree on just how many thousands.  My vote goes for $4,999.  Based on trying to get a mass market, not on trying to maximize profit.

Apple Watch Edition gold caseRelated: I think if Apple make the case reusable / innards upgradeable it will help their sales tremendously.  Everyone knows there will be a Watch 2, a Watch 2S, a Watch 3, etc., and if that means you'll only get one year out of your $5,000 investment it will restrict the market significantly.  On the other hand, being able to upgrade the innards every year and keep the watch case for a while would be quite different.


digital darkroom

Monday,  02/23/15  10:41 PM

Adobe Photoshop turns 25Cannot believe it but Adobe Photoshop is now 25 years old.  Co-creator Thomas Knoll reflects: Dreams from my Digital Darkroom.

I've been using Photoshop for a long time now ... remember Kai's Power Tools? ... and my current active version is (sigh) v6.01, from 2001.  (Hey, it works!)  Can't honestly believe there was ever imaging life before Photoshop.

It's not often that a software tool becomes a verb :)



Wednesday,  02/25/15  09:51 PM

Still coding away, in between doing higher level stuff like giving demos and presenting to potential investors :)  And still blogging...

Where is MH370?How crazy am I to think that I know where that Malaysia Airplanes plane is?  Well...  nobody else seems to have a good idea, either.  Jeff Wise thinks it is in Kazakhstan.  Could be...

Guy Kawasaki: Hindsights.  Good observations, if not groundbreaking; I like #5, "Learn to like yourself and change yourself until you can like yourself."  Happiness comes from liking yourself :)

Dave Winer: comments on the Node Foundation.  I've coded for a long time now without paying serious attention to Node, which is an environment to write server-side applications in JavaScript, but it definitely has a lot of fans.

Amazon FireflyInteresting: Amazon's product-finding Firefly lands on Fire HD tablets.  When Amazon first announced Firefly along with the Fire Phone, I thought it would have significant impact on visual search applications, but it turns out Firefly is less about raw visual search and more about barcode reading and optical character recognition.  Still Amazon is not known for giving up; they will keep making it better and better and more useful to consumers.

classic rock plays by yearAsking the important questions: Which rock is classic?  I'm tempted to say "you know it when you hear it", but this is a more quantitative analysis.  It does seem to have more to do with how it sounds than with when it was releasedJust the other day I was surprised to realize Guns N' Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" dated back to 1987; when it was released, it wasn't classic, but it sure is now.  What of today's music will be considered "classic" in the future?


Thursday,  02/26/15  08:48 PM

Ceres: bright spots!Okay, this is too weird: Strange reflections on the dwarf planet Ceres.  As you know, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is on its way to orbit Ceres - a Pluto-sized dwarf planet which is the largest celestial object between Mars and Jupiter - and pictures taken of the planet show two bright spots directly in the line of flight.  Wow.

So what do you think, ice, or distress signals from alien space travelers who crashed onto the planet?

Meanwhile: NASA sending probe to Europa in search of ancient life.  Europe is an icy moon of Jupiter widely believed to be a possible location for Earth-like life forms.  Yay.

Paul Graham: What Microsoft is this the Altair of?  "Most people's first impulse when they hear about a lame-sounding new startup idea is to make fun of it. Even a lot of people who should know better."  Yeah but ... this is a selection phenomenon; for every Microsoft which grows from a Basic-for-Altair beginning, there are a thousand which never go anywhere...


the dazzle room

Friday,  02/27/15  08:59 PM


Saturday,  02/28/15  08:05 PM

me and RegSo.  (Is the new "well")
So be it.

the Pebble TimeAhead of the impending announcement and availability of Apple Watch, a slew of competitors are announcing products.  Including Pebble, with the new Pebble Time.  Yay. 

Swatch Touch Zero OneMeanwhile Swatch have announced the ... Touch Zero One.  Bad name but looks interesting. 

LG UrbaneAnd there is a WebOS-based LG Watch Urbane, which looks kind of cool.  (I was a big fan of WebOS on the Palm Pre, but it isn't clear how that translates to a smartwatch UI.) 

Huawai smartwatchAnd LBNL, Huawai have announced a nice Android Wear smartwatch. 

Lots of choices, but I think everyone is going to wait and see what Apple announce before buying anything...



Moses awaits

Saturday,  02/28/15  09:24 PM

Hehe I love it


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this date in:
About Me

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