Critical Section

Archive: December 8, 2019


Archive: December 8, 2018


Archive: December 8, 2017


Archive: December 8, 2016


Archive: December 8, 2015


Archive: December 6, 2014

physics or sorcery?

Saturday,  12/06/14  10:56 PM

table held up by buckets resting on itHere we have a table held up by the buckets resting on it.  Yay.  Yeah, it's physics, not sorcery.  The gravitational pull on the buckets pulls them down, which in turn pulls the table up.  When the buckets are resting on the table they're still being pulled down, but the table counterbalances the force.  As long as the buckets are heavier than the table, this is going to work.

power tower feeding frenzy psycho festivalOf "the power tower feeding frenzy" and hyper-large numbers.  "You know how sometimes you go through life, and you’re lost but you don’t even know it, and then one day, the right person comes along and you realize what you had been looking for this whole time?  That’s how I feel about Graham’s number."  I love this; all the ways to represent really big finite numbers.  What's especially cool is that each notation "maxes out", and then a new notation is needed to keep going.  (Yes, Virginia, we are told there are an infinite number of notational systems, but we aren't told what they are :)  After you think about this for a while, you realize ... whoa.

Orion liftoffHey guess what?  NASA have successfully launched Orion!  This is the next step in a progression that eventually puts people on Mars.  Yippee.

The two-sided YotaPhoneThe YotaPhone.  Two sides, zero gimmicks.  Not such a terrible idea, really ... the e-ink side can always be on for notifications, and respond to input without unlocking, while the LCD side is for more directed interactions.  Wouldn't mind trying this.

Asking the important questions: What if girls were browsers?  What if guys were social networks?  Hehe.

what if girls were browsers and guys were social networks?


Archive: December 8, 2013

snowy Sunday

Sunday,  12/08/13  11:06 PM

snow football ... in PhillyA snowy Sunday ... well, not snowy for me, although it is frigid here, but I loved watching those football games in Philly and Baltimore, wow.  Nothing nicer than watching people running around in a 25o snowstorm with 6" of snow on the group while sitting inside by a nice fire.  I did spend the afternoon sailing (slash, drifting), which was fun but cold.  Brrr.

You will all have seen my eyesFinder presentation.  Thanks for all the nice feedback.  I've created an eyesFinder blog, and will be posting a lot more about it there, and will try to cross-link stuff.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, starting tomorrow I have a new job - self-employed as the founder of a startup. Should be, er, great!

BTW I'm using Wordpress for this blog, my first experience with it, and so far, so good.  Will have more to say after I have a little more to go on.  I considered using Typepad too, which I've used before and have liked, but seems there are more people using Wordpress and more innovation taking place there.

Mickey Kaus examines President Obama's "Inequality Speech": The Great MacGuffin.  I, too, can't help wondering if our President doesn't want to pass "The Paycheck Fairness Act".  It would be a lot funnier if it were a lot less true.

nVista HD mini fluorescent microscopeIt's the end of the year, which means it's time for end-of-the-year lists; here we have the Top 10 Innovations of 2013, from TheScientist.  #1 was nVista HD, from Inscopix, a mini fluorescent microscope which enables imaging at the cellular level in vivo.  So many of these innovations involve vision, which is not surprising but still cool.

Microsoft store, Arlington, VAWhy Steve Ballmer got fired, in two photos.  This one is the Microsoft store in Arlington, VA, taken last weekend.  There are zero people in the store.  The other is of the Apple store in the same mall.  You can guess what it looks like.  This is a good analysis, because it shows exactly the problem Microsoft faces; they make a bunch of stuff, but what would draw people into their store?  The X-box, maybe, but surely not the Surface...

I see where Microsoft is still playing next CEO bingo.  The key question for any incoming CEO should be, what will you do to get people to come into these stores?

A clear problem someone should solve: everyone wants a new cellphone every year, but cell carriers sell two-year contracts.  So you have to go through this whole dance every year to get a new phone.  Help!

Samsung 1TB SSD in 1.8" mSATA form factorTechnolust: Samsung shrinks size of 1TB SSD.  This is a 1.8" mSATA device.  I can remember when getting more storage size into my laptop was a big problem, now it's making the storage faster.

Do you watch video reports?  Me neither.  When there's a link to a video report, I close the window and move on with my life.  If I'm really interested, I'll Google for a text story.  Am I weird in this way?

ZooBorn: baby HutiasReviving a lost but valuable tradition, here're today's ZooBorns of the day, baby Hutias.  I love discovering new species while being overcome by cuteness :)


Archive: December 8, 2012


Archive: December 8, 2011


Archive: December+8,+2010

SpaceX return from orbit

Wednesday,  12/08/10  10:11 PM

SpaceX Dragon launchHow cool is this: SpaceX have launched a spaceship into Earth orbit and successfully brought it back!  Wow, that's amazing; a clear precursor to manned flight into Earth orbit.  Congratulations to them, and most especially to my onetime colleague and friend Elon Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002 and has invested a ton of his own money in its success.

SpaceX cheese payloadYou might think SpaceX must be doing things similar to NASA and the ESA, in order to get these results.  And of course the science is the same.  But they are a little different too; these launches cost less than 1/10th of a comparable mission sponsored by a government agency.  And for this particular mission the payload was ... a large round of cheese :)


Archive: December 7, 2009

Monday,  12/07/09  10:35 AM

And so a maximally busy week gets off to a rather weird start...  drove down to Vista this morning, took 4½ hours!  Yes it is raining - heavily - and in L.A. that means people have no clue what to do; I swear I saw people get out of their cars to take pictures.  Also must have been five different accidents.  And so then I got to play rock star (!) as we are making a fun video for an upcoming sales meeting; I don't think I've worn zebra-striped tights before, nor a mesh shirt, and definitely not with a Gene Simmons wig (stay tuned, maybe I'll have some video for you).  Then a four hour product roadmap meeting, after which I was ready to drink an entire bottle of Sanford Pinot Noir... so I did. 

And now I am blogging.  (hic)

Cool news of the day, or of any other day: Google Goggles, aka searching with pictures.  You could totally see this coming, and if you're a regular reader you know we've discussed this many times.  Small glasses-mounted cameras feeding this search, with a heads' up display, and poof! augmented reality becomes real and useful.

A report from the Copenhagen Climate Summit: 1,200 limos, 140 private planes, and caviar wedges.  Possibly the most pretentious sanctimonious and hypocritical political gathering of all time, amid strong competition.  Blech.

clippy: new media failTechCrunch: getting it right and wrong with the new media.  It's a good post, plus anything accompanied by clippy automatically gets style points :)

Google QR codes link to business infoThis is cool: Google is using 2D barcodes to link businesses to online information, a kind of assisted augmented reality.

Well you know this was going to happen: the iPhone orchestra.  Right now it is more of a dancing bear than anything real, but given time you could see smartphones gradually displacing other instruments; after all, they can sound like anything given modern sampling techniques...

BBC: winged vine seed vignetteCheck out this cool BBC science vignette about winged vine seeds which float hundreds of yards through rainforest from a football-sized pod.  Nature is radical.

Excellent news!  Cancer rates continue to fall in the U.S.  Deaths continue to fall, too, as the number of types of cancer which can be fought keeps going up.  The war continues but the battles are going well...

Virgin Galactic: Space Ship TwoCool!  Virgin Galactic announces Space Ship Two!  We're getting ever closer to private space travel.  Of course it is still *expensive* and there is still nowhere to go.  (Titan, anyone?)  But those things will change!

Ultraviolet blacklight posters!Wow was this a blast from the past: Boing Boing posts about blacklight posters.  There was a time I was heavily into these; I can probably close my eyes and picture them in my room, when I was fourteen...  definitely the Age of Aquarius.  The post is about a book called Ultraviolet which is printed with fluorescent ink. Whoa.

Twenty of the world's most beautiful libraries; Abbey Library in SwitzerlandHow excellent is this?  Twenty of the world's most beautiful libraries.  I love my Kindle and digital is the future, but books are beautiful and libraries are excellent.  I wonder how long they'll last?  (BTW it is very cool that Rem Koolhaas' Seattle Public Library made the list; not only have I been in it, but it is way cool :)

Liron Shapira has left Slide and started Quixey.  "For the last month I've been working full-time as a co-founder at a small startup called Quixey...  Quixey's mission is to enable you to discover apps."  Excellent, good luck!

ZooBorn: a rare Amur Leopard cubZooBorn of the day: A rare Amur Leopard cub.

I must confess I'm not sure when I'll be back; tomorrow is maximally busy, Wednesday even more so, and Thursday, well, is hideous.  Please stay tuned!


Archive: December+8,+2008

Monday,  12/08/08  11:49 PM

Long day, up at 0400, drive down to Vista, work work work, business meeting over dinner, and drive home.  Not much left in the tank for blogging I'm afraid, we'll see what happens...

SecondSlide!Did you see this: Aperio introduces SecondSlide digital slide sharing network.  Nah, I'm sure you didn't, but now you have :) is an amazing new service we're offering, sort of an eBay+YouTube for pathologists to share information.  You'll hear a lot more about it from me, but this is where I've been spending my time.  The network plumbing for this is kind of complicated, we want "everyone" to be able to use it with no firewall changes, but yet there are these huge files to copy around...

LGF notes African Nations going Nuclear.  "Several African countries are working hard on building nuclear reactors. What could possibly go wrong?"

Terran Starport aka San Francisco InternationalTerran Starport: an awesome picture of San Francisco International airport at night.  I love it.

The Tribune company, owners of the Chicago Tribune and LA Times, among others, is going bankrupt.  So be it.  This is exhibit A in my thesis that some of the bad spin on the news we read is influenced by the hardship felt by big media companies.  If you work in that environment you can't help but be affected...

That's it, I'm off to bed... see you tomorrow...



Archive: December 8, 2007


Archive: December 8, 2006


Archive: November 26, 2005

to look or not to look

Saturday,  11/26/05  10:59 AM

Great shape - can I look?Okay, I need help with something.  I'm a man, and I like looking at women, particularly attractive women.  So, is this okay?

Here's the situation.  Women do everything they can to have great-looking bodies.  Then they dress to accentuate their great-looking bodies.  But it feels like it is not polite to look at them...  Why is that?  It is considered okay to look at a woman's face .  But is it okay to look at her breasts, even if they are beautiful, and even if she is wearing a low-cut tight top that screams "look at these"?  Is it okay to admire her legs, or her bottom, even if they are amazing, and even if she is wearing a short skirt or tight low-cut jeans?  Not clear.  So I'm asking you, what do you think?

I am a woman (or a homosexual man)

I am a man (or a homosexual woman)

I think it IS okay
to look at a woman's body

I think it is NOT okay
to look at a women's body

I think it IS okay
to look at a woman's body

I think it is NOT okay
to look at a woman's body

P.S. I do not think this is symmetrical between men and women.  It seems more acceptable - and unusual - for a woman to look at a man's body than vice-versa.

total votes = 146

  (ended 12/04/05)


Saturday,  11/26/05  11:45 AM

Can't really call these coffee notes, because I've already had my coffee.  In case you're wondering, yes, I did put up our Christmas lights yesterday, and yes, I did not fall off the roof.  It wasn't raining and it wasn't windy, so this year was easier than some.  (Of course there was a light string which worked perfectly in the garage, but failed when attached to the gable on the second floor, with me standing on the sloping roof, changing bulbs, trying to find the bad one...)  Anyway, here's what's happening...

Woken FuriesI am reading Woken Furies by Richard Morgan.  Almost done with it.  I love it, this is his best yet.  (The third in a series which began with Altered Carbon and continued with Broken Angels.)  And I am so happy because I really loved the first two books in this series, but then Morgan wrote Market Forces, which wasn't part of the series and which I didn't like at all (and didn't even finish), and so I didn't think there would be more books in the series.  But there are, so yay!

My favorite and weirdest part of this book is where Morgan describes huge vertical structures on alien planets.  (Morgan's planets were formerly occupied by "Martians", who flew, and who left behind amazing "buildings" made of inexplicable materials with unexpected properties.)  Somehow their verticality really confers alien-ness, I can feel my vertigo as I read the words.  Great stuff.

Saturn's moon HyperionSpeaking of science fiction (we were), did you catch this picture of Saturn's moon Hyperion?  Now that is cool.  How did those craters form?  What a mystery.  Almost like something from a Richard Morgan book :)  Cassini is awesome!

Christmas Cards are on my mind today.  Today is the day I must compile a collage of pictures of my kids, so we can print them, so they can be included with our Christmas Cards, so you-all can see how beautiful they are!  Seriously it sounds like a fun project, and it is, but having today as the deadline makes it a bit less fun.  I wish I'd done it, like, last weekend.  But I didn't, and so here we are.  Weird the way that works...

A little while ago Wired ran a story called The Silence of the Leaf Blowers.  With which I so agree.  I hate that sound - especially on a Sunday morning, or a Saturday, but all other times as well - and I wish there were a good alternative.  He who invents a quiet powerful motor will reap great rewards, and not only financial ones.  Talk about a problem worth solving!

This problem doesn't only affect yard equipment.  How about off-road bikes?  Or snowmobiles?  Or outboard engines?  There are a lot of recreational vehicles which make a ton of noise, and wouldn't it be great if they didn't?

Today is the day for SpaceX.  Finger's crossed, good luck, guys!  Although they don't need it.  I'll be monitoring Kimball's blog all day...


Web 2.0, "Live" and other meaningless jargon

Saturday,  11/26/05  12:42 PM

Do you hate business jargon as much as I do?  Blech.  Stephen Baker of Business Week's Blogspotting wants to Rid the World of "Solutions", and I heartily agree.  One of the first things I do when I encounter a company is check whether their website has a “products” page or a “solutions” page.  Products = good, this is stuff they make and sell.  Solutions = bad, it is sometimes impossible to tell what is being made or sold, besides marketing hype.  As an example, I received an email from a company called BSIL, and this was on their home page:

"We are a global, end-to-end IT solutions provider with a global delivery footprint.  With over 20 years of experience, we understand our customers’ needs better and provide a portfolio of services, using robust processes, which enable them to leverage their IT investments."

Do you have any idea what these people do?  Nor do I.  (Apparently they "provide solutions" :)

Is this Web 2.0?A classic example of meaningless jargon is "Web 2.0".  Nobody knows what it means, it doesn't mean anything.  It is simply buzzword-compliant crap to put in a marketing plan.  Or for naming a conference.

(And don't tell me it means "web applications built with AJAX", because that is not what it means, and anyway "web applications" and "AJAX" are two other examples of bogus jargon.  (meta-jargon, anyone?))

I'm not the only one to think so, there seems to be backlash forming:

Xeni Jardin spots trends before most of us: Web 2.0 cracks start to show.

Joel Spolsky's reliable BS meter reports: The Architecture Astronauts are Back!

And not only is "Web 2.0" itself jargon, it has spawned other jargon; check out this page, which allows you to create your own Web 2.0 company.  The general schema, "X via Y", is a great clue to the cluelessness of it all.  Truly interesting concepts are just "X", the "via Y" part is mere implementation...

Hey, and we even have Web 2.0 Bingo!

For an unbelievable example of jargon run amuck, consider Microsoft's recent "Live" announcement.  Talk about meaningless blather.

Bill Gates announces Microsoft "Live"Just look at this diagram, does this make any sense at all?

I happen to think Bill Gates is incredibly overrated as a smart guy.  He is a lousy presenter, and really smart guys give good, focused presentations that make you realize they are really smart.  Steve Jobs would be an example.  Kip Thorne - now he's a smart guy.  Or how about Richard Feynman; in addition to being interesting, he exuded intelligence and deep understanding.  Bill Gates may be a great businessman, but he is not a great technologist.  And he is not a really smart guy.  Sorry.

If you disagree, please refer back to the picture.  Would a really smart guy stand in front of that diagram?  (Click for a bigger picture, or see Niall Kennedy's Flickr photo, which has a great comment thread.  Via Tom Coates, who comments: "God, does anyone have the slightest idea what Microsoft are on about?")

We've all become a bit immunized to Microsoft's jargon; the reaction to the "Live" announcement was fortunately muted and mostly negative:

Steve Gillmor: Beep Beep.  "Remember Wily Coyote?  He's the Roadrunner's nemesis, chasing him out off the cliff's edge.  Then there's that exquisite moment where he stands on thin air, about to realize he's got nothing.  That's Microsoft, folks."  Ouch.

Joel Spolsky's BS meter pegged immediately: Massive Frontal PR is Incompatible with Ship Early and Often; a wonderful roasting even though it lacks Joel's usual pithy title.

Robert X. Cringley had Deja Vu All Over Again, in which he notes Microsoft's "Live" reaction to Google is analogous to Microsoft's "Active" reaction to Netscape.  Perfect; neither "Active" nor "Live" have any content at all.

Mary Jo Foley: Hailstorm take 2.  (You know you're in trouble when your new jargon is seen as the second version of your old jargon.)  "When you get past the marketing fluff of 'sea changes' and '21st century Internet,' Microsoft did not announce a lot of new deliverables."  She did go on to write, "We didn't notice a single mention of Web 2.0 during Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Technology Officer Ray Ozzie's remarks.  That earns Microsoft some big points in our book."  Okay, I'll give 'em that.  They piled on their own jargon, but steered clear of everyone else's...

Poor Robert Scoble was left to respond: "I don't think it was clear."  (D'ya think?)  "This was the beginning of a major rudder turn on Microsoft."  Iceberg ahead.

The "Live" demo itself was as lacking in content as the concept; Dave Winer liveblogged:  "An hour into it they finally start the demo.  The screen is blank, the guy is talking.  It's  The demo didn't work.  A total demo disaster."

(Gates' performance prompted Dave to link his classic Demoing for Fun and Profit, from 1995; as true and relevant today as it was then.  Perhaps Gates should read it.)

Even if the demo had worked, it would have been unimpressive; to my eye is pretty uninteresting.  Okay, we have a personalized portal.  What is this, 1997?  Not to mention, it is not even a good personalized portal; maybe they should have visited My Yahoo! or NetVibes, or even their own   Cue the clowns.

Perhaps we need some new jargon, a word which means "a word which actually means nothing".


Archive: December 8, 2004

Wednesday,  12/08/04  10:49 PM

Okay, I'm back.  Here's what's happening...

First, I have to report that today I had one of my best online shopping days ever.  Between Google and Froogle and Amazon and all the little stores out there with specialty stuff, I found everything I wanted from the comfort of my office.  And everything works now; the sites are fast, payments are processed smoothly, you can track shipping online.  Wow.  How did people handle December before the 'net?

There is one thing online vendors still need to figure out - please please do NOT resize browser windows.  We don't want you to do this.  And please please don't hide the window controls, either.  I have this little routine I go through whenever this happens; right-click, view page info, copy URL, open new browser window, paste URL.  Poof, a window the size I want, with controls, displaying the same page.  But I shouldn't have to do this...

Speaking of online shopping, Shirley reports that Albertson's now delivers!  Yippee.  We tried it and it worked great, just like the Webvan of old.  Order online, pick your delivery window, and poof! a guy shows up with your groceries.  They charge $10 for delivery which seems very reasonable.  I love living in the 21st century :)

the kite sail in actionPeople have been sailing for thousands of years, so you'd think there wouldn't be much new in the way of sails, but you'd be wrong.  Here we have the Kite-sail.  In addition to providing forward thrust, this sail lifts the bow of the boat out of the water, reducing wetted surface and hence drag.  I bet it isn't easy to fly, though, seems like it could knock the boat over rather easily.  I notice it seems to be flown from the deck rather than the mast, which makes sense...

Halley Suitt: Dave Barry vs. the Department of Labor.  "But my point is that this survey is very misleading.  Take the concept of ''housework.''  It may be true that women spend more TIME on it, but what, really, are they accomplishing?"

Ottmar Liebert has added a podcasting feed to his online listening lounge.  Excellent.  If you've never heard him play, here's a new reason to check him out!

iPod mini ad - George MastersWhen you're a product company, how do you know if you've really made it?  When your customers start making ads for you!  Here's a wonderful ad for the iPod mini courtesy of Apple fan George Masters.  Wow.  [ via Cult of Mac ]

So far my customers like their ScanScopes, but I haven't heard of one making an ad for us yet.  Guess we have some work to do. :)

iPod micro?BTW, there is a ton of speculation about a new flash-based Apple iPod.  Daring Fireball posted a nice argument why it won't happen (basically, there is no consumer benefit; flash is a technology, not a feature).  Cult of Mac thinks there will be an iPod Micro.  I guess this is possible - small size is a feature - but it seems unlikely.  The real feature of iPods is that you can carry all your music around, not just an album or two...

This is kind of cool - TV2Me.  A network connected PVR designed to record programs in one city, and let you view them in another...  Time shifting and space shifting :)

If you're not a blogger - yet - but are considering trying, check out the new MSN Spaces, a free online blogging service from Microsoft.  It competes with Blogger and Typepad in the "entry level blogging" arena.  As usual you have the "ease of use" / "functionality" trade-off, and they've tilted heavily toward ease of use.  Scoble says it's not the service for him, and has links to others' reactions.

Eugene Volokh: You can blog, but you can't hide.  An interesting rumination on the first-amendment implications of blogging.  Are we journalists?

Bigwig thinks this song should be our new national anthem.  It is kind of catchy :)

U.C.Berkeley has a class on programming Lego Mindstorms robots.  "The aim of Professor Roger Glassey's introductory robotics course is to instill students with the most fundamental skills in designing computer-controlled mechanical systems, and provide them with the discipline and stamina to solve difficult engineering problems systematically and efficiently."  I am not making this up.

The other day I mentioned I'm working on porting a Windows application to Mac OS X.  Through the magic of referers, I found a discussion board were people were talking about my need (!), and a link to this page from Apple.  Very helpful, this seems to be a solved problem.  Also, I'm going to try client/server development, using my PC as a workstation on my Mac, rather than investing in a new Mac.  We'll see how it goes - stay tuned!

Myst Revelation screen shotOh, and I finally got a chance to start playing Myst IV: Revelation.  What can I tell you, it is great; excellent graphics, interesting puzzles, and a weird new world hovering at the edge of your imagination.  The coolest new thing is the amount of background motion; trees blow around in the wind, birds fly, steam rises from waterfalls, etc., all from within in a 3D environment.  If you liked Myst and Riven and Myst Exile, you'll love this one, too.

New Year's Resolution update: still 204.  At least I'm not losing ground.


Lights, Camera, Xmas!

Wednesday,  12/08/04  10:56 PM

This one is for Kevin:

chez Xmas

The other day I treated myself to a birthday gift, a cool little camera from Fuji.  It is tiny!  And it really works great, the shot above was taken in pitch blackness, in the rain.  The original is 2200 x 1600 pels!

Fuji Finepix F440Digital camera technology is impressive - this device is about as small as it can be and still be usable by human fingers, yet it takes hundreds of sharp clear high resolution pictures (4Mp), records movies including sound, and has great battery life.  When you get home you put it in a little USB cradle and the pictures are directly available on your desktop as a disk drive, and the battery recharges.  It costs far less than a high-quality film camera did 10 years ago.  Amazing what can happen to technology in a market when it reaches "consumer scale".


Archive: December+7,+2003

Back from lunch

Sunday,  12/07/03  10:52 AM

Okay, okay, I'm back from being out to lunch.  The hard drive in my laptop failed and I was down.  Not completely - I used my iMac for a few days, and therein lies a story, and a blog post to be made later - but to the point where I couldn't blog.  Anyway I'm back - thanks, Compaq, for the excellent next day support - so stay tuned for a blizzard of updates...

[ Later: I had some old posts trapped in my laptop, which I've posted on their original dates.  Please see below, especially our Chardonnay tasting... ]


Sunday,  12/07/03  02:50 PM

Okay, here's five days' worth of stuff, over 1,000 RSS items.  Whew!

Citizen Smash chronicles the pathetic attempts to put negative spin on the "Bush serves Thanksgiving dinner to the troops" story.  A lot of links.  Why do people find it so hard to believe the simplest explanation?

Looks like IBM won a legal battle against SCO, but the war continues.  SCO has been ordered to respond to IBM's request that they specify exactly what parts of Linux infringe their Unix copyrights.  It will be interesting to see what they come up with...

Econopundit on the Economics of the Alternate Universe.  Really good stuff.  The best way to analyze policy is to compare what's happening to what else might have happened, not to the way things were.  [ via Glenn Reynolds ]

CNet wonders VoIP's Best Week Ever?  It is now such a Thing that you don't even get points for saying so.  Big companies have the most to save, and are diving into VoIP in a big way.  And with services like Vonage, residential customers are, too.  I can easily see the day when there are no 'phone companies, and no cable companies, only ISPs.  They provide two-way data, and you run voice, video, whatever on top of it.  "Hey grandpa, tell us about analog phones again, would you?"

So, there are now more female medical school applicants than males.  Does this surprise me?  No.  [ via John Robb ]

Look Out design competition winner, Aurland, NorwayCheck out the Look Out Design Competition, from Norway.  Yeah, there is a plexiglas barrier at the tip.  Whew!  [ via Ottmar Liebert ]

Jubilee Church, Rome, ItalyAnd more architecture as poetry, the Jubilee Church, in Rome, designed by Richard Meier & Partners.  In addition to being beautiful, the concrete sails let in an amazing "play of light".

Andrew Anker contemplates Carrot Capitalism.  Gorillas use sticks, but startups can use carrots.  And also, your car as an open system?  Why not?

Jonathon Delacour is Overloaded.  Yeah, me too, especially after being mostly down for four days.  What would happen if you were on vacation for two weeks?  Would the earth keep spinning?  I guess it would, but it is hard to believe :)

Matt Haughey says Wait Until Next Year to Buy that Flat Panel TV.  Okay, I will.  I'm waiting for that 60" HDTV plasma for under $1,000.

Matt also notes the Dish Network's HD DVR.  "TiVo is being beaten (badly) to market by their competitors.  I know half of the posts on this site end with 'and this looks like another nail in TiVo's coffin' but it's increasingly looking to be the truth."

AlwaysOn agrees that HDTV Reaches Mainstream.  I think HDTV is still in the early adopter phase myself.  I live in a pretty geeky circle, and nobody I know has one - yet.

Kevin Laws suggests perhaps smartphones portend The End of the Laptop.  "First, people had computers at work.  Next, they got them at home.  Eventually, the work computer became a notebook, or one was added.  The next step is to eliminate the notebook and go back to a home pc with access via your smartphone."  Interesting point of view, but I still like the ability to blog upstairs while watching football.

Steve Gillmor thinks RSS will let Sun and Apple challenge Microsoft Office.  I don't know about that.  I think RSS is important, but...  Steve's argument is essentially that RSS levels the playing field.  Yeah, maybe, but I think Office still wins on a level playing field, the applications are that good.

Kazaa Lite K++ has been shutdown by Sharman Networks, owners of copyrights on Kazaa.  It continues to work, however, and many copies are available on the Kazaa network :)

Gizmodo is innundated with "connected media center" devices to review.  Poor babies!  This is the latest thing, and everyone has to make one.  Or so it seems.

Are you familiar with the story?  Yeah, these guys discovered that the iPod's one-year warranty is only valid for one year, and the unreplaceable battery actually cannot be replaced.  This irritated them, so they created the aforementioned (but unlinked) website, and ran around spray-painting Apple's iPod ad posters.  Anyway Daring Fireball suggests some nice alternative slogans.

So I was gone for a few days, and meanwhile blogshares died and then was resurrected.  So be it.  Personally I found it was an interesting concept, but it didn't suck me in.

This week's sign of the Apocalypse: Dodge plans Lingerie Bowl.  I am not making this up, but I wish I was.  Are you kidding me?  [ via Woundwort ]


I Switched! [temporarily]

Sunday,  12/07/03  11:00 PM

Windows LogoApple LogoSo, for the past four days my [Windows] laptop was down, and I switched to using my iMac as my "main" computer for a few days.  Overall the experience was pretty good.  I thought you might find a brief review interesting.

My "usual" Compaq laptop is a 2GHz P4 with 1.5GB RAM, running WinXP Pro.  My iMac is the original "lamp", with a 700MHz G4, 512MB RAM, running OSX 10.3 ("Panther").  The biggest hardware difference is screen resolution; my laptop has a 15" screen with 1400x1050 pixels, and when docked I have a 21" 1600x1200 external monitor.  The iMac's 15" screens has just 1024x768 pixels.  The lack of screen real estate was actually the biggest drawback to the [temporary] switch.

The real estate issue was greatly ameliorated by the single coolest thing about Panther - Exposé.  Hit F9, and poof, all your windows are visible simultaneously, making selecting the one you want trivial.  Hit F11, and poof, your desktop is visible.  I really loved Exposé, and miss it back on Windows.  Hopefully Microsoft will copy Apple on this one!

I have Office X on the Mac, and it's quite comparable to the Office XP I've grown to know and, er, like.  I'm a pretty experienced Mac user so the Mac-ish-ness of Office X didn't throw me; actually I liked it!  I had to use the online help every once in a while to figure stuff out (yeah, the Mac has one of those "clippy" pseudo-natural-language processors, too), but overall it was cool.

I use email a lot, and so I used Entourage a lot (the Mac equivalent of Outlook).  This worked fine, no problems.  I was able to setup my four email accounts in no time (taking care to leave messages on the server, so I could get them later on my PC), and poof, I was getting email.  In fact, I was getting spam!  So I found SpamSieve, a nice little Bayesian filter which integrates nicely with Entourage.  Seemed to work just about as well as Matador, the spam filter I use with Outlook.

Another thing I do a lot is surf, and so I used Safari (Apple's standard web browser).  I have to say, I really liked it a lot.  Unlike Mozilla (on either platform) Safari pretty much renders all pages exactly like IE on Windows, for better or worse.  I didn't encounter any sites which didn't work or looked funny.  And I really liked tabbed browsing.  This made a big difference since I had so little screen real estate.  On Windows I don't miss it, because I can space out a bunch of windows.

And of course I needed an RSS reader!  So I tried NetNewsWire, which is the most popular Mac client, but I didn't like it.  Your mileage may vary, but I found it was much clunkier than SharpReader.  So next I tried AmphetaDesk, but this didn't play nice with Panther.  Then I tried Shrook, and I liked it!  In some ways it is cooler than SharpReader - maybe because it is so Mac-ish.  Anyway that's the RSS reader to use, and once I had all my subscriptions entered I was off and reading.

The other thing I spend lots of time doing all day is coding (under Visual Studio), and this I could not do on the Mac.  Well, I could have installed VS under WinXP under Virtual PC, but I didn't.  So that part of my experience was incomplete.  I've messed around with Xcode a little but not enough to compare it, and anyway I don't have any "real" coding to do for Macs, so it wouldn't be a good test.

Oh, and what about performance?  Well, the Mac's specs were quite a bit worse than the PC's, but I really didn't notice any difference.  Programs launched quickly (especially Safari, which I launched a lot), the screen was responsive, network access was fast.  I was able to keep lots of stuff up and running without any degradation, despite having less memory.

Wrapping up?  It really was no big deal.  I was every bit as productive on the iMac as I was on Windows.  The one thing about Macs, you can pretty much figure out what to do because they're simpler.  Everything sort of seems to make sense.  If I'd have had a bigger screen, I might even have found the iMac to be better.


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