Archive: April 2016
Hi everyone - it's April 1, so this will be the one day where we question everything and try to figure out if it's actually true. In other words, this is the one day we are not fools! Have a great day :)
It is Sunday night, and I'm blogging after a long weekend of doing stuff around my new house. Highlights included blocking the sideyard so my dogs can't escape, coercing four big guys to move a gigantic entertainment unit upstairs (a 90o turn halfway up made this especially interesting), recovering from some crappy expansion bolts that refused to expand (details and cursing redacted), and mounting curtains so they drape onto the floor just the right amount. Great stuff. Oh yeah and importantly, getting my second Tivo and Slingbox working so I can watch TV in my office, while ... blogging!
At right: that's not me, but it is how I feel :0
So I *finally* started watching basketball, after ignoring the NCAA tournament for two weeks. And I watched the blowout of the world, as Villanova crushed Oklahoma by the biggest margin ever in the final four - wow, how did that happen? - and a pretty good game as North Carolina took care of business and walked away from Syracuse.
My pick for Monday night: North Carolina. No way Villanova stays that hot and no way NC will be as cold as Oklahoma. I think it will be a yawner, too...
Victor Davis Hanson is brutal: A nation of Laws - sort of. "The end of constitutional America comes not loudly and suddenly with jackboots and brown-shirt thugs, but more insidiously with soft-spoken totalitarians and their “noble” appeals to advancing fairness, diversity, and equality." Scary and feels true.
Exhibit A: White House under fire for 'censoring' video of French president's speech. This is pretty Orwellian. As Glenn Reynolds comments, "It’s not just that they're sleazy liars. They're bad sleazy liars."
Unfortunately it's not just the US: UN names Israel as world's top human rights violator. This would be laughable if it wasn't sad. The UN has long ceased to be useful.
OTOH: Eric Raymond: This may be the week the SJWs lost it all. A welcome victory for the good guys, but unfortunately the tech world is but a small corner of the real world.
This is cool: All of Apple's products ever, in one glorious infographic. You should most definitely click through to enbiggen. It's charming to see all of the history; I've lived it all :)
Just just bought an iPhone SE. Lovin' it. Stay tuned more to follow.
Cult of Mac: iPhone SE proves size doesn't matter.) Oh but it does, and that's the point.
So: Jack Welch could have bought Apple for $2B (back in 1996). What analyses like this fail to note is that if GE had bought Apple, Apple wouldn't have become Apple.
My favorite April Fools story: Apple unveils self-driving mini electric home on wheels. Inhabitat are on a roll :)
And also, hell now frozen: Microsoft cracks open Visual Studio to Linux C++ coders, and Xamarin now free in Visual Studio. Excellent. Visual Studio is the best IDE, hands down. Not even going to add IMHO, because it's a fact.
The Tesla Model 3 unveil was amazing, did you watch? So well done. And crisp! - 20 minutes, tops. So many could learn from this. So now the Model 3 is here and it's ridiculously sexy, preorders are well on their way to 300,000. That's twice as many as Tesla expected, and for perspective three times as many as all the cars Tesla have made so far. Wow.
FYI: Why does the Model 3 have no instrument cluster? "... the near complete absence of operator control displays is a logical move from Tesla because they fully anticipate their Autopilot technology to dominant the means of Model 3 operation by the car’s late 2017 rollout date..."
And last but not least: congratulations once again to Blue Origin for once again launching a rocket into "space" (100km) and relanding the booster. Ars Technica: why Blue Origin's latest launch is a huge deal for cheap space access.
"After the January flight, Blue Origin's founder Jeff Bezos told Ars that refurbishing the propulsion module after that first flight cost 'in the small tens of thousands of dollars.' His technicians never even removed the engine from the vehicle. 'We inspected it and said, 'Let's go.' It was designed to be reusable from the start.'"
I'm among those who point out, yeah, but this isn't like what SpaceX have done ... and it isn't ... but it is most impressive and a great step forward for space exploration. Plus, it's good for SpaceX to have competition.
You guys may know, I'm a "small phone" guy. I loved my Palm Pre, it was the perfect size. So when Apple went from the iPhone 4 form factor to the iPhone 5, I was not delighted. I did upgrade, and for the past two years I've liked my iPhone 5S, but there was no way I wanted an iPhone 6. (And as far as the iPhone 6 Plus, I already have an iPad :)
So the iPhone SE was designed for me; essentially an iPhone 6S in an iPhone 5S body. I just got one and I like it.
- The camera. The picture at right of my cat Reggie is amazing; there was so much variation in light that I had a hard time seeing him by eye, yet the picture is great. (click to enbiggen, but note that I've downsampled the resolution by 200%)
- The battery life. I got my phone on Friday, and powered it on Saturday morning. I deliberately ran all day Saturday and Sunday without plugging it in, and on Sunday night I was still at 20%.
- Apple Pay. I'm all setup with nowhere to go; all the places I went over the weekend didn't accept it. (The blank look on the DoIt Center cashier's face when I asked if they accepted Apple Pay was especially great.) Still, I'm looking forward to using it and confident it will be cool.
- "Hey Siri" without pressing the home button. This is way cooler than you might think. I'm not a Siri user - or at least I wasn't - but now it is so easy to try stuff that I do. "Hey Siri, where's the nearest post office?" Etc. Siri still doesn't work that well, but the ability to access it just by speaking is game changing.
- Faster. Yep, it is.
That cool camera is capable of some amazing close-ups, check out the self-portrait at right, showing how the camera does not stick out. (click to enbiggen; again, resolution downsampled by 200%)
Not so great things:
- I was forced to upgrade to iTunes 12 in order to restore to this phone. Okay, I get it, forward motion, but I was holding out because iTunes 12 seems like a step backward from 11. All that Apple Music stuff that I don't care about ... everything moved around ... Anyway IIWII.
- As always, remembering all my accounts and passwords and re-logging into everything is a massive PITA. Now that we have fingerprint recognition built into the phone, can't we do away with all this crap? Seems like once I've authenticated myself with my finger, everything else should be known...
- I still don't like the virtual keyboard. It is so fast and the auto correction is so useful that it is almost as good as a real keyboard, but almost is not quite. I mentally flirted with getting a Blackberry Priv for just this reason ... but I didn't pull the trigger. (The reviews of the Priv's keyboard mostly said "this keyboard isn't as good as previous Blackberries)
All in all a worthy upgrade. "Hey Siri, will the iPhone 7 be available in the 5" form factor?"
Wow! Has there ever been a better ending to a better game than last night's NCAA basketball championship? With 4.7 count 'em 4.7 seconds left, North Carolina launches an improbable 3 which somehow hits net to tie, and then after a frantic full court scramble Villanova bags a game winner with 0.5 cannot even count 'em 0.5 seconds left for the win. Wow.
I had predicted NC would win in a yawner. Missed it by a mile.
Talking of missing things by a mile, Real Science notes the Falling Sea Level on the East Coast of the US.
Meanwhile, astronomers just discovered an alien planet with three suns that shouldn't exist. Great headline for an interesting story. What a time to be alive.
I wonder if "My Three Suns" was considered as an alternate headline? :)
Space archaeology uncovers potential Viking settlement in North America. Love this.
Strongly reminiscent of Nevil Shute's amazing An Old Captivity, which imagines a Viking settlement discovered during an air survey. A great read.
We seem to have reached "peak Trump", and with tomorrow's likely defeat in the Wisconsin primary, Roger Kimball wonders What Happens Now? He's not sure and neither am I. But we'd both love to see Ted Cruz as the Republican candidate...
Political philosopher Scott "Dilbert" Adams considers Derailing the Trump Train. "If you have been reading my Master Persuader series, you might be interested in why Trump’s persuasion suddenly stopped working. It’s more interesting than you think." It's a wonder the charade lasted as long as it did; a tribute to the IQ of the voters and the media.
News you can use: Star Wars, the Force Awakens is now out on Amazon digital video. Well in time for May the Fourth.
The economics of this are interesting; in the old days, studios would delay online release to make sure everyone paid to see the movie in a theater. But in the new days, if they delay the release people like me will download a torrent instead of paying for a copy. They should make the movie available right away so we can get it legally.
Incredible: The Arizona boneyard where old warplanes go to die. There are over 4,000 planes there. So much hardware, but also, so many stories. (Click here to visit via Google Maps.)
It is interesting to ponder, what should be done with old military hardware? Ideally it would be sold and reused, but a lot of this tech is simply obsolete. Leaving it sitting out in the desert doesn't seem like the best answer, just the most expedient one. Maybe it can be teleported to another universe which isn't yet as technologically advanced?
Excellent: programming language makes circuits out of bacteria. "Ultimately, this could lead to bacteria that solve specific conditions, such as reducing lactose intolerance (by improving digestion) or producing pesticide when bugs attack a plant." And what could possibly go wrong?
This seems like the perfect language for a biochemist-turned-software-engineer. Heh.
Today I had a new experience; I flew around the Earth! My ship was an HTC Vive. I was able to fly around, zoom in and out, and even see population statistics and social media traffic superimposed over the globe. It was seamless 1080p at 90fps, and I was there. I didn't feel sick or scared, I felt liberated and elated. And I can't wait for my next flight!
The headset is light and comfortable, but it's a headset, and it's tethered by a not insignificant wire bundle. That's the downside. The controllers are easy to use and importantly, appear in the field of view. So while your hands do not - and they could be added, of course - you definitely have the sense of your movement corresponding to the world's movement. I don't know how this stacks up against the Oculus Rift, but I can't wait to find out. Stay tuned :)
For the to-learn list ... Unity. [Apparently, one of] the easiest / best ways to develop VR content for Vives, Rifts, and their brethren.
Inside Industrial Light & Magic's virtual reality lab. "Industrial Light & Magic’s Experience Lab (ILMxLAB) is a newly-formed supergroup of artists, engineers, sound designers, and storytellers prototyping the future of interactive, immersive cinema for Lucasfilm." Next gen moviemaking.
Of course the ILMs of the world will be making VR content, but with the tools now available, there's going to be a democratization and everyone will be able to make VR movies, just like anyone can shoot HD with their phone. It will be all about the destinations and stories.
And this: StreamVR featuring the HTC Vive:
----- Meanwhile, back in the "real" world... -----
Jeff Immelt of GE counterpunches: Bernie Sanders says we’re ‘destroying the moral fabric’ of America. He’s wrong. "We create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches." Absolutely.
Sigh: Jerry Brown admits $15 minimum wage does not make economic sense. California is such a contradiction, a bastion of liberal thinking and the best counterexample :)
John Hindraker considers The Left's new battleground: co-ed bathrooms. "The 'discrimination' consists of the fact that men can’t use women’s rest rooms ... There was a time when, if you had said that one of our major political parties would someday consider it a vital civil right that men be allowed to use women’s bathrooms, people would have thought you were nuts. They would have been right."
I can see on the Internets including my Facebook feed that the North Carolina law has attracted the ire of many liberals, protesting this "discrimination". More proof, if any were needed, that Idiocracy was a documentary.
All is not lost, however: When Mark Steyn struck back. The rapid decline of conditions in Europe are a cautionary tale for sure. Those who fail to learn the lessons of
history current eventsare doomed to repeat them.
Re Mark Steyn: Tomorrow's civilizational cringe today. Featuring the evergreen Tim Blair headline: British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing. [Thanks, Zoya]
----- But on the plus side... -----
Peter Sagan wins Tour of Flanders, his first monument, but surely not his last. It's not just that he won - while wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey - it's the way he won, riding right away from the field to power to victory. You just don't see that very often in today's peloton. I can't wait for Paris Roubaix next Sunday!
Hat tip to Fabian Cancellara, who finished a charging second; he did his best in his final effort (he's announced his retirement), but nobody can catch Sagan when he's on a good day anymore.
This is HP's new logo. I like it.
The incomparable xkcd: Mycology:
Perhaps the fungus actually causes comics about fungi :)
Woah, 10 days since my last filter pass! What happened? Nothing in particular, I've just been ... busy? I guess. The days go by. Anyway here's a catchup... because [as you know] it's all happening...
In case you were worried: NASA's Kepler space telescope is back in good health. Whew.
Clive Thompson: The new site. In case you were a fan of his Collision Detection, or especially if you weren't. Check it out!
It's funny to read about someone who thinks Moveable Type is legacy, when I started blogging, there was no Moveable Type, in fact, Blogger had just come out. I had to write my own CMS, and it's still running. Also, I had to walk in the snow to school, uphill both ways :)
From October, Heather MacDonald testifies before the Senate: The Myth of Criminal-Justice Racism. "The most poisonous claim in the dominant narrative is that our criminal justice system is a product and a source of racial inequity." In which once again we see that correlation does not imply causality.
Thirty years ago (!) - space shuttle Challenger explodes, killing all seven astronauts aboard. For me this was totally a "remember where you were when you heard it" event.
Scott "Dilbert" Adams ponders a presidential persuasion pardon. "Let’s say Donald Trump promises that when he gets elected President he will pardon Hillary Clinton of any future convictions regarding her email server situation." An interesting what-if, but I don't read him that way.
Dumb dumb dumb dumb: PayPal withdraws from North Carolina because of new LGBT discrimination law. The law is pretty benign - requiring each sex to use bathrooms for their sex - but everyone sure is jumping on this bandwagon. This is nothing but virtue signaling, but it sure is compelling.
Meanwhile: Chariot launches, an Uber-like service for women only. No word about how they will treat men who "present" as women.
One down: Panama papers scandal brings down Iceland's prime minister. Wow. Wonder who's next?
I use a tool called WordFence to protect eyesFinder's website (which is running WordPress); check out this post on the WordFence blog about how the Panama papers got exposed.
The latest sport? First-person drone racing descends upon Wembley Stadium. Wow. And meanwhile, ESPN is trying to make drone racing a mainstream sport. Well why not? Better than poker :)
The thing that will be really cool? First-person drone racing ... in virtual reality!
Apropos: the reality of AR/VR business models. A great survey. Personally I think VR content creation will be like making movies ... a huge business. (With many of the same people and players.)
Related: How virtual reality is looking to reawaken the joy of arcades. Might even get me back into one :)
Major League Baseball approves wearable tech for in-game use. Specific products for now, but it's a slippery slope.
The three things Apple needs to do to unlock the potential of Touch Id. I totally agree with the first thing: use Touch Id to override web passwords. It is such a pain to remember (and recover) passwords on every site; how great would it be if authenticating yourself on your phone was all you had to do?
The headline is clickbait but the article is better: a survey of the challenges that Yahoo faces, as it explores the sale of its core business. Not a pretty picture. How the mighty have fallen... I thought Marissa Mayer had a chance to turn them around, but apparently she did not.
I remember when I was at Intuit, in 1999, that Yahoo was THE online service, the Internet challenger to non-Internet AOL. That was a long time ago, and in all that time Yahoo has steadily declined.
As Tesla Model 3 preorders approach 400,000: If you built it, they will come. "Prior to the Model 3 event, the rhetoric you still routinely heard was ... that Tesla is a niche product, a 'Valley-thing.' These pre-order numbers destroy that notion. It’s still up to Tesla to execute on the plan, but at least right now, that plan is clearly working." This is most definitely starting to look like genuine disruption.
Oh, and: Tesla unveils new Model S design. Wow for everyone, and Sigh for me. The number of reasons to upgrade to a brand new one keep growing.
Teslarati explores the details behind the Tesla Model S update. Interestingly, they've got a "normal" center console now, standard.
Wrapping up, here we have The Bazooka, a huge super Canoli filled with 50 normal canolis. Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize "it all" is so much more than you imagined :)
I'm been ruminating on points of view. Everyone knows that people see things differently, but is that because they literally see the same thing and perceive it differently (sometimes) or are they viewing the same thing but seeing something different ... because they have a different point of view. A lot of the work in understanding something is moving to different / better points of view. So if you want to know a lot, you have to move around :)
If you're wondering "how could anyone ever support X", where X is one of the current presidential candidates, consider their point of view. They are probably seeing different things than you are, rather than perceiving the same things differently.
Try ... if you can ... playing the "under the skin" game. The other person is usually more rational than you thought, and you are often less rationale when seen from another person's point of view.
Speaking of points of view, here we have the Tesla Gigafactory as seen from a drone. Wow. It's hard to comprehend just how large this building is...
Not surprising to me: Human intelligence is declining according to Stanford geneticist. "I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues." Clear evidence for Unnatural Selection.
Life in 2016: How White Castle will adjust to a $15 minimum wage. A minimum wage is one of those issues where people definitely have different points of view. If you're poor and struggling to live on a minimum wage, you will think this could help. And if you're an economist or student of history, you will think this can only hurt. The challenge is not figuring out who's right, but how to we get the right thinking implemented.
Victor David Hanson: The next President is going to be hated. Yeah.
Some people would say this is a waste of time and money, but not me: Yuri Milner is spending $100M on a probe that could travel to Alpha Centauri. I saw Yuri speak at a Caltech event recently, and he's level headed and constructive about this. Most impressive.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the political spectrum, Bernie Sanders is now calling for a nationwide ban on fracking. See, to me, he *really* doesn't understand how things work. But to you, maybe this makes sense.
A sad aspect of today's political environment is that people can't say what they think anymore. Don't believe it? Check out this video, in which a 5'9" white guy challenges people to say he isn't a 6'5" Chinese girl. This is not proof of people seeing things differently, it's evidence that people don't feel comfortable saying what they see.
I'm not one of those people: I see crap, and I call it crap: Brutalist websites. This is a variation of my "patience" rant; people can whip out something ugly, call it style, and move on, instead of taking the time to make something worth making. And once again let's not confuse simplicity (which is good) with brutalism or as I might call it lazyism (which is bad).
An extraordinary read: Stephen Wolfram, my life in technology. Stephen is one of the people I admire most, a thinker who is also a doer, and who has thought and done some amazing things. Mathematica and the Wolfram Language are two of the marvels of our time. From any point of view :)
I'm going to wrap up with this, which is ... great, 1986 in photos. Talk about having a different point of view, imagine how differently you would have reacted to these pictures thirty years ago (or forty years ago!). And how we will look back and view the events of today. As you look at these pictures, which one strikes you?
Return to the archive.
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji
Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
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
where are the desktop apps?