Today I took a nice little ride from Gaviota to Jalama Beach. This skirts the famous Hollister Ranch property, a vast private property along the California Coast spanning Point Conception. Was a great ride up and down and around some amazing land. Just when you think we're overpopulated, you realize ... we're not even.
BTW the New Yorker recently ran a story by Dave Eggers ("The Circle") about The Actual Hollister. Apparently Eggers thought the famous Abercrombie & Fitch brand was named after a little town in the Central Valley, also called Hollister, and neither he nor his editors thought to Google and discover Hollister Ranch. Remember that the next time you believe anything you read in the New Yorker.
And so Google have split themselves into their search business (aka their real business), and everything else (aka their R&D), under an umbrella company called Alphabet. Seems like it makes sense, and I doubt very much it has anything to do with keeping talent. I found this interesting: "We liked the name Alphabet because it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search!" Hmmm... but what about in the future, when most search isvisual search? :)
CurrentC may not launch until next year. So be it. Here's a doubly self-contradictory sentance: "Certainly going faster is always better - that’s not necessarily a debatable point. But we’re going to do it right." John Gruber comments: "Where by 'we’re going to do it right', he means 'we are doing it all wrong'."
Kinda hard to avoid today's big tech news, HP are selling their PC business and sunsetting webOS, including their Pre phones and TouchPad tablets. Wow. Didn't see that coming - at least, not yet. The theory seems to be that tablets are taking a big chunk out of the PC market, and HP couldn't compete, so they're getting out. Aka, they're giving up on becoming Apple, and want to become IBM. Wow.
I loved my Pre phone, and thought webOS was great. I will say that every webOS device seemed sluggish - even the newest ones - so perhaps there was an underlying performance issue which HP couldn't get past... performance matters, one of the reasons the iPhone and iPad are so successful. Neither Palm nor HP were able to get much developer enthusiasm going for building webOS Apps, so that was a problem too; we are living in a world where IOS is Coke and Android is Pepsi, and everything else is ... something else. Sorry RIM. Sorry Windows Phone. And ... sorry webOS.
Day four of my focused training for the 508 race; did a nice 60 mile ride this morning with friends, I'm getting into the groove. Eating, riding, working out, sleeping (!), staying focused. And having fun :) Cool.
I have to say, while there is undoubtedly a tech bubble brewing (among investors, rather than consumers), a lot of today's high flyers are "real"; they have revenue and profits. Groupon is dollar.com, in which people buy dollars for 75 cents. Yeah you get a lot of revenue that way.
I continue to be amazed that any time I read an article about something I know about, it's wrong. Not just slightly off, but incredibly incorrect. Which makes you realize that first order, everything you read is wrong. That could include this post :)
Back on the road, back in Vista, back in my stupid little hotel room, and back to not being happy about it. Had to come down to Vista for some job interviews - did I tell you, Aperio is hiring? - and worst of all 3rd Corner isn't open on Mondays...
If you've been following the whole P ≠ NP thing, here's P vs NP for dummies. I can make it even shorter for you: an NP problem can only be solved by brute force search, whereas P problems have shortcuts.
Rupert Murdock is launching a new digital newspaper... for the iPad. Good luck with that. "What’s remarkable about this current escapade is that Murdoch is actually proposing to sell a product that people have previously failed to even give away for free."
Did you know? There was an opening scene from Return of the Jedi which was deleted... and which is now on YouTube. Darth Vader reaches out to Luke via the force, while Luke finishes his new lightsaber...
BTW I am delighted with Google's new image search UI, available in Firefox (it's HTML 5), wherein you can scroll down infinitely through multiple pages. A great innovation.
Do you Bing? Apparently a lot of people do... I don't know of anyone who has changed their default search engine to Bing however (at least, anyone who isn't saddled with the Windows default).
An interesting longer post from Glenn Reynolds about men and women and priorities... "Men care more about making money because making money is important to attracting and keeping women, and determining their status in general. Women don't value money as much, because it's not so important to attracting and keeping men or determining their status. On the other hand, caring - or at least the appearance thereof - is." The state of the world in a nutshell.
Stephen Wolfram's Setup. "By far my #1 tool is Mathematica. Which, of course, I built so I could have it to use! These days I use it not just to compute, but also to keep notes, to create presentations, and to do all sorts of other things. Partly, I figure that the more I actually use Mathematica, the better we'll make it work." Dogfooding! [ via Daring Fireball ]
So last weekend while staying with friends in Montecito, I sang in a rock band. Which is to say, they had the Rock Band video game, and we all grabbed the "instruments", and I ended up singing. I blame the Sea Smoke Pinot, under which influence I will do most anything.
So yes, there I was, singing to the Sweet's Ballroom Blitz, full gas: "ready Steve?, ah ha, Andy?, yeah, Mick?, okay, all right fellows... let's GOOOO", "and the man in the back said everyone attack and it turned into a ballroom blitz", "she thinks SHE'S THE PASSIONATE ONE". It was pretty ugly, and pretty excellent.
Oh yeah we did some Black Sabbath and some Jethro Tull and even Edgar Winter. Sadly, I do know all those lyrics, and sadly, I did belt them out at full volume. Let me just say that I'm glad no recording exists.
Off to bed, busy day and busier week ahead... but first a teeny bit of blogging...
A perfect description of the current state of "social media", via Doc Searles. "You’ll notice that blogging isn’t in the diagram. I bring that up because I think there is a difference between the social media in the Venn diagram and blogging, and that difference is akin to that between weather and geology." Bangs the nail directly on the head.
Arthur Brooks explains Why Obama's Ratings are Sinking. "Citizens will put up with a lot - but not with anyone who imperils our future. There is practically nothing that lowers American happiness more than taking away our faith in a better tomorrow." That's it exactly, it isn't bad enough that his programs aren't working, they're going to hurt us for a long time.
I love this: Galileo's Armillary Sphere (aka Astrolabe) from 1578. "At the center of this instrument sits a globe representing the earth. The bands around it pivot on a common center and illustrate the paths of the sun and moon, known planets and important stars." Of course Galileo's observations were central to discrediting the theory that the Earth was the center of the universe.
Ted Dzuiba makes a great point: Context Switches are Bad, but Stack Traces are Worse. "The danger here is when you're six or seven levels deep into yak-shaving, and your manager wants to know what you're doing and why." Fortunately as a manager I understand this, and can accept a high-level summary. I do think it is good to know what's going on, just to prevent infinite recursion and stack overflows :)
Tonight we had a marvelous dinner with our kids; a "last supper of the summer"; they start school on Thursday. Had a great filet with a '97 Kara's Vineyard cab which was out of this world. (Trying, slowly, to drink through our old '97s before they turn the corner; this one was peak.) Oh and with a tiramisu, a '55 Croft port. I have never had a '55 anything before, it was wonderful - for a young port :)
With the Presidential race heating up (and by many accounts, now a virtual dead heat), and with VP picks on the horizon, and the conventions to follow, it is time to start watching the electoral vote tracker again. This great site integrates across all the polls to tell you up to the minute what's going to happen. I've heard it said there isn't one national election, there are fifty state elections, and that's how it works. Anyway check it out, good stuff (despite the somewhat obvious Democratic bias of the webmaster :)!
BTW, the score is currently Obama 264, McCain 261.
Did you see this? Shawn Johnson finally won a gold, on the balance beam, after four silvers. Is she wonderful or what? I still think Nastia Liukin is more graceful and beautiful, but Shawn's bubbly personality lights up the gym. When she won who could help but be happy for her, Nastia included?
King Kaufman asks Why do runners 'shut it down'? Yeah, I wondered that too... no clear answer. It can't be that they save much energy over the last ten feet. Has to be some kind of psychological thing, like they are showing up their opposition. Huh.
Here we have an ode to weightlifting. There has been zero weightlifting on NBC so far; boo. I like it too, no difficulty scores, no judging, it is pretty binary.
Friends, colleagues, blog visitors, lend me your eyes...
Tonight I had a weird and moving experience which I wanted to share. Here’s the message: life is short, and you should enjoy each day as if it were your last, because you never know what will happen.
As you may know I live in Westlake Village, CA, about 140 miles northwest of my office in Vista, CA, and hence I have a rather long commute. I’ve been driving down to Vista at least once a week for nearly five years now, and it really isn’t bad; I enjoy the drive time as a quiet time for reflection and planning. In those five years I’ve seen my share of accidents but fortunately I’ve avoided any myself and have had only a few annoying near misses (knocking on wood). However, tonight as I was traveling home from the office I had the experience of seeing three entirely separate horrible fatal accidents. I didn’t see any of them happen, but in each case I was close enough that emergency vehicles were still arriving as I sat in traffic behind them.
The first was a big truck which jackknifed across the center divider just South of the border control station in Camp Pendleton, smashing at least two other cars in the process. The second was a three car accident where the 73 joins the 405, seemingly caused by a car ramming the end of a guardrail and subsequently bursting into flame. The third was a car which ran into the center divider of the 405 in the Sepulveda Pass (north of L.A.), and then bounced across five lanes of traffic before ramming a hillside and flipping, spinning and smashing at least three other cars as it did so. Each accident was worse than the previous, and seeing all three in sequence was a spooky and sobering experience.
It occurred to me that ordinary people like you and me died in these accidents, within minutes of the time I passed them. They got up that morning living their day per usual, going about their business, with no idea at all that this day was going to be their last. If they had known, maybe they would have kissed their kids a little longer, or hugged their dogs, or been nicer to their colleagues in email. Maybe they would have made a donation to a charity, or spent time in their backyard enjoying the sun. Or coded an amazing piece of software :)
I don’t want to be too sappy about this, but for me this really was an “inflection point”. The memory of that drive is going to stay with me, and I’m going to try to live each day as if it were my last, because you just never know.
I had a random thought last night which I thought I'd share. There is a visceral human reaction to losing something. People never ever want to give up something they feel they already have. This is not a cold logical calculation, even if you give people something which is way more valuable than the thing you're taking away, they hesitate. (This is why FREE is the most powerful word in marketing :)
The idea of accumulating "stuff" must have hit early on in the evolution of humans. Anthropologists tell us we were herders, and [probably] harem-based, and both of these imply possession. Intelligence may have evolved so we could evaluate trades. Anyway however it happened, it is now true; we are materialistic. Any human society which has attempted to deny this has failed, and the human society which is most successful is the United States, which celebrates materialism and features it as a core value. One of the first things that must happen to transform a failed state is some sort of rule of law, including some rights to personal possession.
Losing something doesn't only mean losing an object, it can also mean losing a right, such as freedom. And losing rights provokes even more of a reaction than losing objects. Tell someone they can't do something, especially something they could do yesterday, and you are going to get strong resistance.
The implications of this for businesses are significant, especially those targeting consumers. Any product or service which trades one thing for another is going to have tough sledding compared to a product or service which gives you something for nothing.
Media companies are finding this out the hard way. Consumers do not want products with strings attached. They are used to buying something, and owning it, and having complete freedom to do with it what they want. Any kind of restriction is taking that freedom away, and is going to piss people off. It isn't just that they won't buy the product or service - although they won't - it's that they're actually going to be insulted and angry. Look at the way consumers have reacted to DRM. ("You mean I buy it, but then I can't do what I want with it?")
Consumers don't do a logical calculation and say, okay, I get it, I pay you $X and get Y product with Z strings attached. No. They say, no way, if I give you $X for Y product I expect zero strings attached. Don't take my freedom! I hate losing something!
From Sailing Anarchy, a great blog (which unfortunately does not have permalinks):
Is this the largest fleet for a World Championship? 175 505's are registered for the CSC 2005 505 World Championship in Warnemunde, Germany! And yes, they will all be racing on the same course, at the same time. Team USA is 10 boats strong, and I think it's noteworthy that Howie Hamlin and Cam Lewis are sailing together again, with a combined age of about 100! On the other side of the spectrum, California high school sailing phenom, Parker Shim, has bought a boat and will also be competing.
Can you even imagine 175 505s on one start line? Good thing they use a rabbit start. I would not bet against Howard and Cam, man, what an all-star team!
A 505 start
The boat on port tack is "the rabbit", everyone else starts on starboard and must duck the rabbit.
Typically the rabbit is the boat which finished 10th in the previous race.
I sailed in the 505 worlds at Kingston, Ontario, back in 1990. "Only" about 100 boats. We sailed our asses off and finished about 40th. I really think boat-for-boat the 505 fleet is the strongest in the world. If you win the 505 worlds, you're my hero.
Robert Scheer wants A higher tax on all your houses. "An amazing thing happened on the way to the California recall: Someone spoke the truth about the state's financial predicament. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, ballyhooed as a top economic advisor to Arnold Schwarzenegger, told the Wall Street Journal that property taxes in California are ridiculously low. He's right." You bet. Not only was Warren named Fortune Magazine's "most powerful person in business", but he's a plain talking California homeowner.
By the way, in the same article Robert says "we don't need to recall Davis", so I don't agree with all of it. I actually disagree with Robert on most things most of the time. <soapbox> But Prop 13 is a big problem for California, and must be repealed. </soapbox>
You know how I always say "anytime you read about something you know, they get it wrong"? Well here's another example. Intuit just announced their fourth quarter results (their fiscal year end is July), and every headline said "Intuit reports lower fourth-quarter loss". Not one of these reporters got the real story, which is that Intuit had a killer quarter to cap a killer year. Intuit always loses money in the fourth quarter, they have some very cyclical businesses like tax preparation. What matters is their numbers relative to last year's quarter, and the full-year results. You would think at least one of these reporters would get this, but sadly, no.
Interesting article in Canada's National Post about Lifting the veil on gender apartheid. I didn't know this, but apparently the Islam jihab (headgear) which women wear is a recent invention, circa 1970, and has nothing to do with Islam as a religion. Fascinating...
David Hornik discusses The Summer Slowdown, and has "a feeling that this fall is going to be an excellent time for startups to raise money." So be it :)
Now this is special; movie executives are blaming teenagers' text messaging for this summer's flops. "In Hollywood, 2003 is rapidly becoming known as the year of the failed blockbuster, and the industry now thinks it knows why... The problem, they say, is teenagers who instant message their friends with their verdict on new films - sometimes while they are still in the cinema watching - and so scupper carefully crafted marketing campaigns designed to lure audiences out to a big movie on its opening weekend." What BS. The problem is that the movies are no good. Period. Watch what happens at the end of the year when Matrix Revolutions comes out, or Harry Potter III, or LOTR Return of the King.
Are you ready for some football? Nah, I'm not ready yet, either. But the 48th Carnival of the Vanities has a football theme; check it out. This is a great way to meet some new blogs.
My discovery of the week is Little Miss Attila, who likes Arnold, hates the "obesity is society's fault" bandwagon, and loves Siggraph.
Pito Salas wonders Can your mother use RSS? Which is a great thing to wonder, because as he points out it isn't necessary to understand something in order to use it. Many people use email every day without the slightest knowledge of POP, SMTP, IMAP, MIME, or any of the other underlying protocols. So the real question is "Can your mother use an RSS reader"? In my case the answer is yes, your mileage may vary :)
I'm mountain biking with my good friends Bill and Jim, and one of the highlights has been Bill's incredible Rock 'n Roll collection. 1700 terrific songs on one little MP3 player. Wow! One great song after another.
Isn't it amazing how much information the human brain can store? As we're listening, the three of us recognize virtually every song and band, and know almost every note. That is a lot of information.
And it can be random accessed so well:
"Oh, yeah, 'Hold Your Head Up'".
"Yeah, that was cool."
And we all have Argent's "Hold Your Head Up" playing in our heads...
(You probably do, too, right now, huh?)
And it can be cross-referenced so well:
"Hey, doesn't Eric Johnson sound like Joe Satriani?"
"Yeah, he does!"
And it is so tied in. Sometimes you hear a song, and you associate it immediately and exactly with a particular place and time (and even sights and sounds and smells...)
And the indexing is so efficient. We compete to see who can identify a song first, and usually the first few notes are sufficient. I can pick off Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath" or Supertramp's "School" on the first note. Try writing a computer program to do that kind of search!
Music triggers emotions in an amazing way. Who can say why Trower's "Day of the Eagle" makes me feel good? But it does...
The human hearing system is incredible. It can pattern recognize sounds across a wide range of frequencies and amplitudes (including VERY LOUD :), and can parse rhythm from harmony from melody effortlessly.
Even if we're talking about the rhythm section of Bad Company, buried behind vocals and guitar, or the drumbeat of Rush, or the guitarwork in Deep Purple's wall of sound.
The music industry is so very very dead. We carry around all this music at $0 and listen to whatever we want whenever we want. Too bad for them.
Best line, from Jim, in regards to a particular album: "I have the hardcopy".
Meaning the CD.
I love it!
Let's hope there is some way to go back to the original days, when artists were performers and people paid them for the enjoyment of their performances. With online distribution the record companies are superfluous. But right now they are in the way.
Finally and least importantly:
What the heck does "TVC15" mean?
(Or was Bowie just, like, on drugs when he wrote it...)
Update: Hey, we figured it out! TVC15 means "Television Channel 15". TVC15 was a company in New York which was working on holographs. The song is about a TV which sucks in a girl and displays her as a holograph. Oh, and yeah, the Duke was probably on drugs when he wrote it :) [ thanks to the Davie Bowie FAQ (and Google) ]
It's better to burn out, than to fade away... Rock 'n Roll is here to stay...