Archive: August 14, 2018
Archive: August 14, 2017
Archive: August 14, 2016
Archive: August 8, 2015
The NY Times celebrates the one-year anniversary of the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft encountering comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta dropped the Philae lander onto its surface in November and has been following the comet as it swings closer to the sun. This photo essay is incredible, a must see. The gases emitted by the comet stream away from the sun in the "solar wind", and provide an eerie backdrop.
Imagine looking out the window of your spaceship and seeing this!
Archive: August 9, 2014
So, apparently democracies go through the following cycle:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.
Hmmm... doesn't seem inevitable, but it does seem like it happens a lot.
It's pretty hard to get good decision making from the masses, they generally vote in favor of their own self-interest and against the common good, until something cataclysmic comes along to reset the cycle.
Archive: August 14, 2013
Archive: August 14, 2012
Archive: August 11, 2011
Amazon have released a new Kindle reader ... for the cloud. Written to use HTML5, it provides a complete Kindle reader application entirely in a browser, supporting Chrome, Safari, and [of course] IOS' Safari. (Not Firefox yet - HTML5 incompatibility?) Presumably it supports the Android's browser too; not sure. The experience is amazing because it's exactly what you expect:
But there are some interesting wrinkles. First, because it's a web app, it can be updated infinitely without your involvement. As of 8/11/11, it doesn't support highlighting, but if Amazon adds that tomorrow, we'll all have that capability without doing anything. Second, it has *all* of your books available, all the time. There's no interplay between "books on the device" and "books in the archive"; they're one and the same. And third, you get the same user experience on every device; some would argue that's not a plus, but to me - someone with a PC laptop, four Macs, an iPad, a Palm Pre, a Motorola Droid, and an iPhone - it's a big plus.
Most cool of all; it can store books offline. I'm not sure how this works - have to dig into this further - but if you're reading a book and you get on an airplane, lose your cell signal, or otherwise go offline, you can keep reading. That's a pretty interesting feature for a web app, and one we may see replicated on other sites soon.
BTW a common online take is that this is Amazon's response to the new Apple App rules, wherein an App cannot link to a website (and hence, Kindle readers cannot just click over to the Amazon store). I think that's a pleasant coincidence, and Amazon have been working on this capability for a long time. I suspect they want to get out of a world where they have a separate client App for every platform.
As part of their "global 500" report Fortune magazine published this excellent map of the world, with the size of each country proportional to its population:
world by population (click to enbiggen)
I love this map; it shows just how small the U.S. is compared to the world (that's us in green rectangle at the upper left), and the comparatively huge populations of China and India, and the basically equal sizes of Brazil, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Indonesia. You read these numbers but nothing like a diagram to bring them home. I will refer to this often.
Archive: August 14, 2010
If variety was the spice of life, his present existence must be an Oriental curry
- Hornblower and the Atropos*, C.S.Forester
Hi y'all, checking in from home, where I find myself finally after an amazing few days... at work, in Vista, with nonstop meetings, calls, presentations, and job interviews, and then yesterday I flew to Oakland with Alex and we visited UC Berkeley and USF, about which I will have more to say in another post. It all leaves me tired and energized at the same time, with my mind racing while my body idles. And in the meantime, it's all happening...
(Last night I definitely put my spindles to use, and slept like a log :)
Can sex make you more beautiful? "A Scottish study found that thrice-weekly action stripped at least four years off participants' faces, and getting busy even boosts immunity and reduces heart disease. There are beauty bonuses, too - sex perks up your appearance instantaneously." Seems well worth trying!
Related: Women put weight before sex. "More than half of women, and 25 percent of men, would opt for a summer without sex over gaining 10 pounds." The question is phrased incorrectly however, because having sex all summer would probably cause you to lose 10 pounds. Well worth trying...
Also related: you don't need heavy weight to build muscle, just lots of repetition. I think this is why those "body pump" classes are so effective, they encourage less weight and more reps. Well worth trying :)
Something to do this weekend: World's largest artwork created on frozen Lake Baikal. Wow. Imagine waking up one morning and saying "I think I'll make ice artwork on the world's largest freshwater lake". Yeah. I can see it. And actually now you can see it; please click through, the art itself is amazing...
My real todo this weekend: upgrade my laptop to 64-bit Win 7. I am running VMWare almost all the time now, I need the extra virtual storage. fXf!
Wow, what a classic 1973 Sony ad: "This could be the tape deck you'll leave your great-grandson." Amazing that while the ad contemplates the possibility of new instruments ("whatever weird instrument your great-grandson will be playing") it doesn't think about the progression of recording technology. I wonder what medium *my* great-grandson will use?
Paul Graham talks about What Happened to Yahoo. "Why would great programmers want to work for a company that didn't have a hacker-centric culture, as long as there were others that did? ... without good programmers you won't get good software, no matter how many people you put on a task, or how many procedures you establish to ensure 'quality.'" Indeed.
John Gruber linked it also, and notes this quote: "It’s hard for anyone much younger than me to understand the fear Microsoft still inspired in 1995. Imagine a company with several times the power Google has now, but way meaner."
Times for iPad. A feed reader which looks like a newspaper. Seems like this might end up being the closest think to a "killer app" we know. I might try it :)
Glenn Beck quotes Thomas Jefferson: "If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?" Said in relation to gay marriage, and it definitely applies, but also true in so many other situations...
How excellent! Flying squid: "The paper's authors argue that 'gliding' is too passive a term to describe what squid do when they leave the ocean for the air: 'flight' is more fitting." And jet-propelled, no less!
Scott "Dilbert" Adams thinks an index fund based on Big Round Numbers would work. "1) When the DOW is exactly 300 points below a big round number such as 10,000, 11,000, 12,000, etc., the fund would buy the stocks in the DOW, weighted the same as the index. 2) When the DOW rises above its big round number by 300 points, the fund would sell everything." Amazingly, it does seem like a good idea... "If this strategy worked, someone would already be using it, and you would know about it. What fascinates me is that it feels to me as if it would work while at the same time every bit of my knowledge, experience, and common sense tells me it couldn't."
This will be much-linked for sheer coolness: World's largest tidal turbine unveiled in Scotland. Yeah it is massively cool but note that it generates just 1Mw of electricity, a teeny amount.
How Google routed around Sun's licensing restrictions on Java ME. Essentially they built their own byte-code interpreter. Seems like an obvious move, weird that Sun didn't anticipate someone would do this...
I love the Horse's Mouth's Fish on Fridays series... this might be the best ever!
*As a teenager I devoured the Hornblower series, reading entirely through it more than once, and a fair number of random quotes still circulate in my head. I wish I could be a modern-day Hornblower, and sometimes I think I am - don't we all?
Yesterday. Up at 0500. Coffee. Shave. Long sleeves? Yeah... Out the door at 0530. Burbank 0615, Southwest to Oakland. ZZZzzz... stretch! Rent world's ugliest car*. Onward to Berkeley! Slight sun, wind breezy. In the town, cute. *The* University of California beckons. Excited!
the Camponile towers over UC Berkeley
Tour at 1000... our guide Nick is awesome.
Nick explains: special parking for Berkeley's sixty-five Nobel Laureates :)
meeting Berkeley's oldest resident: a T. Rex
Alex is excited - Cal definitely exceed our expectations
Both jazzed, Berkeley was cool. And impressive. And exciting. We could both see Alex there. Onward. Across the Bay Bridge. Find USF. Have time. Lunch! In Haight-Ashbury, cool.
lunch at the People's Cafe on Haight
Up up to the Lone Mountain. Tour at 1430. Long Powerpoint. Blech. Walking tour better...
USF: at the Lone Mountain high above S.F.
touring USF - okay but socks not flying
Now 0430. Have time. Tea... Debrief. Back over Bay Bridge. Dinner 1730 at Five Bistro in Berkeley. Steak + Pinot + sorbet. Nice. Back to OAK. Return car. Wait [forever] for shuttle. Security. Run to gate. Whew. Southwest to Burbank. ZZZzzz... yawn. And home! A good great day.
any day with Alex is better than any other day, and this one was great
"The joy and pain of solitude"
J.J.Sempe nails it again
(...brings back the Death Ride and a thousand others...)
This afternoon I went mountain biking up Palo Comado and China Flat and Simi Peak, and I ended up with the view of the world looking out over Simi Valley and Camarillo and Oxnard and the Pacific Ocean.
And you may ask yourself... how did I get here? :)
It was 102º and not an easy trail, I definitely had to work, but how great was it, with U2 accompanying, out there all by myself, to be rewarded with such a view. I may do it again tomorrow!
Archive: August 2, 2009
Twenty-five years ago! Wow, guess what, that's when the Los Angeles Olympics took place. I remember it like it was yesterday, the sense of excitement and pride. Watching so many events, live! on TV. Driving around and seeing the banners. Knowing that my city was showing the world how it should be done. So what if the Eastern Bloc boycotted? Their loss. We did get China instead (as a result of a deal to name Tawain as Chinese Taipei), their first Olympics since 1952, a good trade.
My strongest memory remains watching the rowing events on Lake Casitas. Every time I ride by that lake - which is pretty often, because it is right alongside route 150 between Ojai and Carpinteria - I think back to those magical days. I also remember watching Olympic baseball at Dodger Stadium. Although when I watch the Dodgers today, that seems like a million years ago, at the far edge of my memory.
Stars of 1984: Carl Lewis! Edwin Moses! Joan Benoit! Mary Lou Retton! Connie Carpenter! (women's cycling...) Michael Jordan! (yeah, professionals were allowed in...) and... Peter Ueberroth! Seriously he was a star of those Olympics, as was President and ex-governor of California Ronald Reagan... what's interesting about seeing him now on the cover of Time Magazine as man of the year is remembering how important Time was back then :) Ah, those pre-internet days... when print mattered.
This was [I think] the first Olympics which was thoroughly televised; I remember filling VCR tape after tape, and watching snippets of all the weird events you'd heard about but had never seen. Diving. Weightlifting. All the track and field events; had you seen hammers thrown or a steeplechase before that?
This was [I think] also the first Olympics where such a big deal was made of the torch relay; it started in New York and was continuously carried by runners to Los Angeles. Remember O.J.Simpson carrying the torch up the California Incline in Santa Monica? And Rafer Johnson running it into the Collesium? And the incredible spectacle and ceremony of the opening - not quite on technical par with China's last summer, but more amazing because it was all new back then; we had never seen such a thing before. All those athletes from all those countries, filing into the stadium in their national costumes.
Twenty-five years ago. Wow.
Back in the chair, back blogging... a little overcastey this morning but promise of a nice day. I did not end up riding yesterday, didn't do much of anything actually (although the brunch was great :) How's that for boring, someone blogging about doing nothing!
Speaking of blogging, I've noticed a real decrease in the amount of new referrals. Used to be you'd post something semi-interesting, another blogger would find it, and they'd create a link. Now people seem to find stuff via search engines and social networks. My traffic is up but my links are down. I miss the old blogosphere!
Shirley and I [re]watched Love, Actually last night. A great movie, on many levels. Recommended.
I must tell you, more and more we are loving and using our AppleTV. Not too many people have them - when I mention it to friends and colleagues, there is little awareness - but it's a great solution. As cheap as any other way to rent/buy movies, excellent quality, and fully integrated into the family room system; you just point and click and poof! watch. On my network the average delay between ordering and watching is about 5 minutes.
TechCrunch: Why the FCC wants to smash open the iPhone. "Today there are two different sets of rules for applications and devices on the Internet. On the wired Internet, we can connect any type of PC or other computing device and use any applications we want on those devices. On the wireless Internet controlled by cellular carriers like AT&T, we can only use the phones they allow on their networks and can only use the applications they approve." It is probably giving Google too much credit to think they bought Grand Central so they could have Google Voice for the iPhone so Apple would reject it so this would happen, but they have to be happy about this result. Remember they bid on the 700MHz wireless spectrum? Nobody could figure that out at the time, but you can see where this is going now...
Sounds-like-The-Onion headline of the day: grad sues college because she can't find a job. This is the logical result of all that political correctness; people are coddled and coddled and when real life hits they can't handle it.
Time to go sailing! The Tillerman notes a church sign on a Sunday, and so concludes... That's certainly a good option for today.
Why aren't more people going to the beach? Good question, come on in, the water's fine (and the sand is too!) Some combination of cooler weather and too many indoor entertainment options are keeping people away, I guess. That's certainly another good option for today.
A beautiful day (the overcastey-ness is already gone); what will I do with it? What are you going to do today?
Archive: August 14, 2008
So what do we-all think of NBC's coverage of the Olympics? It is fashionable to criticize them, on the grounds that they 1) show only a few "main" sports, 2) show only U.S. athletes, 3) do too many "human interest" spots, and 4) show too many commercials. I guess this is true on all fronts, but I haven't been that bothered and actually have quite enjoyed the coverage so far. First I have to say, once you've seen sports in HD you are not going to watch them any other way; it is wonderful to see everything in HD (with 5.1 sound, too!, although for sports sound isn't as crucial). And then I have to add, once you've used Tivo for an event like this, you are not going to watch "live" ever again. As far as the points above, 1) showing "main" sports is mitigated by the video streams on the NBC website (requiring Silverlight was a bit obnoxious but now that I've got it, I love seeing, say, the Laser racing (sailing) even though it isn't covered in the broadcasts, 2) the U.S.-centricity is a problem, but again, it is mitigated by the video streams, 3) human interest spots, what human interest spots (he says, clicking the 30-second skip button on his Tivo remote), and 4) commercials, what commercials (he says clicking some more). So net net I've enjoyed the Olympics a lot. The announcers seem good and the video coverage has been excellent. Those super-slow-motion replays of gymnastics, for instance, are really cool.
And by the way I love the Nastia Liukin story, with her father being a ex-Russian champion and all that... and she is really good. Her kind of gymnastics - emphasizing style - appeals to me more than the Shawn Johnson / Chinese style which emphasizes athleticism.
One more thing - as the father of four girls, including one who is 11 and one who is 15, there is no way at all that those Chinese girls are 16. You can argue about whether having younger kids on the team should be illegal - after all, they are great gymnasts, apparently, regardless of how old they are - but you can't argue they are 16.
[Update: I am reminded that Nadia Comanici was 14 when she won gold...]
Rock and Roll! Sailing Anarchy posted this wonderful video showing a TP52 blasting along... and of course the excellent Led Zep sound track is just okay, too.
This is kind of cool; HealthImaging reports on a study which shows 3D JPEG2000 compression "works" for radiology images. Garden variety 2D JPEG2000 has been used in digital pathology from day one, because of the large file sizes and the need to reduce data for remote viewing performance, and as 3D scanning becomes more routine (capturing multiple Z-layers) 3D compression will be needed.
This applies to .001% of you, but in case you have a Typepad blog you've probably noticed their "new composer" sucks. It is slow, buggy, and tries to out-think the blogger with frustrating results. I will say that Six Apart is listening and they respond to every email and trouble ticket. Today I found a great way of giving them bug reports; I record myself blogging with Camtasia, digest the result into a Flash movie, and email it to them.
(If you have to ask, please don't :)
Archive: August 14, 2007
Archive: August 9, 2006
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.
Archive: August 14, 2005
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.
Archive: August 14, 2004
Archive: August 14, 2003
Yahoo reports the Arctic ice cap will melt in 100 years. Now that's special. "Since 1978, the ice cap has shrunk by nearly three or four percent per decade. At the turn of the century there will be no more ice at the North Pole in summer." (Click pic at left for a cool satellite picture of the North pole. Pun intended :)
Remember the Island Chronicles, about the journalists who moved from Los Angeles to Rarotonga? Check out the First Day of School.
I know from personal experience how heart-breaking it is when you move your kids and they miss their friends. You feel guilty, but what can you do? And they don't understand why you can't just move back....
Naval writes about TruckWidth. "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a truck full of DVDs speeding down the highway." Yeah, Netflix is cool now, but history will record it as an intermediate technology, until broadband video services became mailstream.
Speaking of digital threats to traditional media (and we most emphatically were, that's what Netflix represents), the RIAA can now worry about A P2P outpost in a Palestinian refugee camp. I am not making this up.
Meanwhile Microsoft premiered their online music store - in Europe, with partner OD2. Surprise, surprise, it integrates with Windows Media Player 9. The key metric is the price per track - $1.13 (translated from Euros). About 2X too high for liftoff, IMHO.
BW has a great interview with Jim Clark, one of the founders of Netscape (and star of The New New Thing). "I have been out of Silicon Valley for five or six years. I go there for board meetings, then I split. I find the place depressing... We're now developing real estate in south Florida." Hmmm... would that make real estate the Newer New Thing? Or the Oldest New Thing :)
Here's something cool: the shiny balls mirror, from Danny Rozin, who also brought us the fabulous wooden mirror. "Shiny Balls Mirror is a large physical object made of 900 hollow metal tubes with polished chrome balls placed in them... Each hollow tube and shiny ball are one pixel in the display. This pixel has the ability to change its brightness by moving the chrome ball in (darker) or out (brighter) of the tube." Really cool!
Want to make a 3D display out of your laptop? You can use the polarizing properties of LCDs and cellophane... Excellent.
John Robb asks: has anyone used one of these new WiFi phones? I haven't, but I bet I will - seems like a really good idea. Especially combined with VOIP services like Vonage...
There's blogosphere buzz aboutNutch, an open-source search engine. Business 2.0 says Watch Out Google!, but that's probably premature.
I continue messing around with eclipse, and ant. Do people know building cross-platform Java applications for the desktop is this straightforward? I don't think so. They should!
I don't know what to call samorost? A game? Entertainment? It is sort of a flash-based "Myst in Space"... And it is way cool, check it out! [ via Interconnected ]
It really seems like Flash has - finally - delivered on the uniquitous "write once, run anywhere" multimedia which Java promised when it first came out...
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?