Archive: December 1, 2021
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Archive: December 1, 2016
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Archive: November 26, 2014
(cover of the New Yorker's annual "tech" issue)
The New Yorker's annual tech issue just came out - see my previous post for the awesome cover - and as usual it contained a lot of interesting stuff. I can't do it all justice, but I can summarize one clear trend: there are more and more articles about "wearable computing".
Of course we are all eagerly anticipating the Apple Watch, which might be the definitive device that kicks off a new category. The Google Glass is/was cool but [generally agreed] not useful. Or perhaps too dorky looking to be given a chance to be useful. I personally think there is no doubt at all that some kind of Glass-like device is going to take off; the utility of having a camera at eye level combined with a heads' up display is too evident. But then again, I founded a visual search company, so perhaps I'm biased :)
Wrist devices, glass devices, various types and styles of fitness trackers; these are all examples of wearable computing. But they are only the start. Each of them generally functions by communicating with your phone, leveraging its superior compute power, battery life, and cellular connectivity. In the near future though we're going to see these devices integrated into clothes to a degree only hinted at now. Why not put a phone in a shoe? (Paging Maxwell Smart!) Plenty of room for batteries. Or in a belt. Some belts weight more than some laptops. Your shirt can surely measure your heartbeat and other body functions better than any strapped on device. And so on.
And only one step after that will be implantible computers, devices which become a part of your body, both to measure it and to communicate with it. In my lifetime I confidently expect to see all of us carrying around various implanted computers. It will change our lives. (And can you imagine the sports controversies!) Augmented reality, indeed!
but of course
Are these guys 10X better?
Among the interesting articles in the New Yorker's recent annual tech issue was The Programmer's Price, about a company called 10X that acts as a talent agency for superstar developers.
The working theory (with which I entirely agree) is that software engineers are artists, and talented ones are worth 10X more than mediocre ones. Companies who recognize this are desperate to find great developers, and willing to pay for them.
The 10X agency represents talented engineers, finding them work, negotiating their rates and terms of service, and in general performing the crummy tasks which have to be done by someone to support freelance careers. These engineers are great at creating software, but maybe not as great at the business aspects of being independent contractors, and are only too glad to pay 15% for someone else to do the dirty work. Especially if it leads to more and better work :)
I'm pretty fascinated by this concept; it will be most interesting to follow their success. It's possible that this is the start of a new model, and that someday the best engineers will routinely work freelance and be represented by agents, in much the same way that actors and musicians evolved from working for producers to working independently. (Athletes are entertainers who haven't quite made the jump; they work for their teams, but are represented by agents in negotiating their contracts.) It's also possible that paying 10X for engineers which are 10X better just isn't sustainable. So many companies few engineers as interchangeable resources, and treat them accordingly.
Archive: December 1, 2013
December! Wow. Should be great... :)
An inconvenient truth: return of the arctic ice cap as it grows 29% in one year. This is the same year that some pundits are calling the "hottest on record". I'm not a climate denier, more of a climate skeptic. Seems like behind every liberal cause is a desire to profit from it, making the innate virtue of the cause harder to judge.
Continuing our theme of big Christmas trees ... check out this huge floating Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro's harbor. Wow.
Continuing our theme of not coercing people into helping others: Penn Jillette on compassion: "Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness."
If you're Microsoft, this is not good news: Win 7 handily bests Win 8. This is Vista all over again, except that this time the desktop is less important. Microsoft better get Win 9 out soon...
This excellent once-in-a-decade phenomenon happened yesterday: gorgeous photos of the Grand Canyon filled with fog. Wow. Looks like a lighthouse on a seacoast, doesn't it?
Magnus Carlsen, the new king of chess. How interesting that in this era when computers can beat humans, humans still have good new games against one another. There is so much more complexity to chess than you would imagine from the relatively simple rules...
Yes that *is* Magnus with Liv Tyler; perhaps Brent Musburger will now advise teenage boys to play chess?
Doc Searles: how to rescue radio. Um, radio? Buried in the article is an important tidbit: the latest iTunes does have Internet radio, but you have to explicitly enable it via a Preference.
Parenthetically, my car came with Slacker, a Pandora competitor, and I love it. Listen to it all the time, this has pretty much replaced listening to my music from my iPhone, even though it syncs perfectly via bluetooth. I like the spontaneity of hearing music I've never heard, or haven't heard in forever...
BTW Football Saturday sure came through; has there ever been a day with so many close games? And yay, all of my teams won, how rare is that?
Onward ... into December!
Archive: December 1, 2012
Archive: December 1, 2011
Archive: November 29, 2010
So, what's next? That thought has been on my mind a lot lately... I am not someone who can just relax and enjoy the present - for long, anyway - I need to be working toward the future. And right now, for some reason, there doesn't seem to be a well-defined future for me to work toward. I know, I know, the best way to predict the future is to invent it. I'm working on it :)
From Scott "Dilbert" Adams: Unions. "Imagine how things would be different if education were treated as a national defense issue. In a world where education is branded as the foundation of national defense, if we didn’t get enough high quality volunteer teachers, a draft would be instituted." I can imagine.
How the greatness of a nation is measured. If we treated education as a national defense issue, would we be greater or less great, when measured in this way?
Ten mistakes every programmer makes. Yep. And I'd add one more: Not desk checking thoroughly :)
Here's something which could be in my future: a new field of physics. Just when you think a field is already crowded, you realize There's plenty of room at the bottom.
Josh Newman: what's next: body hacking. Cool, but I don't think this is what's next for me. Maybe brain hacking :)
Archive: November 29, 2009
On my daily cycling rides I often pass through the cute little antique town of Cornell, clustered on Mulholland Highway near the base of the Rockstore climb. It is a grouping of about ten buildings which have the air of the old west about them; included is a former post office (with stables!) which is now a restaurant, called The Old Place, and an ex-tavern recently converted into The Cornell Winery.
So the other day I rode past the winery for about the 50th time, and decided finally to go in and check it out. Really cool.
But I couldn't do any tasting mid-ride, so later that night Shirley and I went back, and we had a most delightful time tasting some pretty decent *local* wines... (our favorite was the Cantara Tempranillo, a wine from Camarillo, which was really great; so we bought some :)
Well we've reached the end of a long weekend - a great Thanksgiving weekend :) - and now its the start of a really long week for me. Tonight I'm flying a redeye to Chicago for the annual Radiological Society of North American conference, the biggest medical imaging show in the world, and then on to Houston for a meeting with a customer, then to Vista for a board meeting. Whew. Oh yeah and squeezed somewhere in there is my birthday. Who knows if I'll have time to blog, but in the meantime, it's all happening...
I guess this "climategate" thing really has legs... I'm not a student of the data in question, or the way it has been manipulated, but clearly the scientists involved where not behaving like scientists. Eric Raymond has looked at some code and finds the comment:
Apply a VERY ARTIFICIAL correction for decline!!. His observation seems apt: "this, people, is blatant data-cooking, with no pretense otherwise." That's not science; you're supposed to want the truth no matter what, not reason backward from some political point of view.
Unfortunately I'm sure there are some real scientists who will get tarred with the same brush. Too bad science has always taken a back seat to politics when it comes to global warming.
Nick Schultz notes that Obama's cabinet is substantially more slanted toward public experience than any which have come before... not a good sign, considering how much worse government is than private industry at just about anything.
That same administration is shattering records for spending in its first year. $3.5T, vs. $1.8T for Bush and $1.6T for Clinton. This will end badly.
Charles Krauthammer says what I say: Kill the bills. Do healthcare reform right: "The United States has the best health care in the world - but because of its inefficiencies, also the most expensive. The fundamental problem with the 2,074-page Senate health-care bill (as with its 2,014-page House counterpart) is that it wildly compounds the complexity by adding hundreds of new provisions, regulations, mandates, committees, and other arbitrary bureaucratic inventions." Man, seems like there is low hanging fruit, like tort reform and taxing employee benefits; why not just pick that?
Trizilla's San Diego testing is done! They have packed up the magnificent flying machine and it is on its way to Valencia, Spain for the American's Cup, for the first trimaran vs catamaran match race in the Cup's history. (I can't believe I typed that, but it seems to be true.) I guess that means my chances of riding on the craft have diminished, at least for now, since I have no plans to visit Spain. Anyway let's say good by and good luck with one more picture... (as usual please click to enbiggen.)
The Friday after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday because retailers have traditionally sold enough by then to be "in the black"; last Friday was apparently record-breaking for PayPal, as a total of $595M was spent online. Meanwhile the malls were busy but not overloaded.
ZooBorn of the day: an Ocelot kitten.
Don't know when I'll see you next, but please stay tuned...
Archive: December 1, 2008
(... sitting at LAX waiting out a snow delay on my way to Chicago...)
So, today was not the best day. The details will filter out, this is not the time to recount them. It all went as well as could be hoped for under the circumstances, but the circumstances themselves were tough.
Not the best way to celebrate Five-O T minus 2, either. I am off to Chicago to attend the RSNA conference - one of the largest conferences anywhere, with over 60,000 attendees. Stay tuned for more on that...
Archive: December 1, 2007
Archive: December 1, 2006
Archive: November 26, 2005
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...
I 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.
Speaking 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...
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" :)
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.
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 live.com. 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 live.com 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 Start.com. Cue the clowns.
Perhaps we need some new jargon, a word which means "a word which actually means nothing".
Archive: December 1, 2004
Here's a question for all you Mac-ers out there: What's the best way to build desktop software for a Mac?
My company Aperio has built a high-performance spiffy image viewer for very large images used in virtual microscopy, particularly Pathology applications. This is currently a Windows desktop program, written in VB wrapping a C++ OCX with C++ supporting classes. We're planning to build a native Mac version of the same program. I believe the C++ supporting classes will port directly with a bit of codesmithing, including the ones which deal with image files and network communications. However the higher-level stuff will have to be rewritten from scratch. So what do people use? Java? C++? Is there a technology similar to ActiveX controls which readily enables embedding functionality into other programs?
If you have thoughts on this, please email me. (I plan to post everyone's replies, so please tell me if you don't want attribution for your thoughts...) Thanks!
[ Later: Here's the answer... thanks, everyone. ]
It is still cold here, and now windy, too... brrr... meanwhile, back at the 'net...
This is something to watch: WebMD reports Novel Vaccine Stops HIV. "A therapeutic vaccine has stopped HIV in its tracks. The vaccine is made from a patient's own dendritic cells and HIV isolated from the patient's own blood. Animal studies show that when dendritic cells are 'loaded' with whole, killed AIDS viruses, they can trigger effective immune responses that keep infected animals from dying of AIDS." Excellent.
Netherlands hospital euthanizes babies. "A hospital in the Netherlands - the first nation to permit euthanasia - recently proposed guidelines for mercy killings of terminally ill newborns, and then made a startling revelation: It has already begun carrying out such procedures, which include administering a lethal dose of sedatives." People are going to react to this with horror (see the comments in this LGF thread), but it is a pragmatic solution. Of course where do you draw the line...
The NYTimes: U.N. Report Urges Big Changes; Security Council Would Expand. Powerline explains why there's not much new at the U.N.: "Currently, all power at the U.N. resides in the Security Council, which has five permanent members and ten temporary, rotating members. Only the five permanent members have the power to veto any U.N. action. The problem is intractable; no nation that now has a veto will consent to give it up, while adding more vetoes inevitably moves in the direction of paralysis. And doing away with the veto power entirely is unthinkable, since no real power - like the U.S. - trusts the organization enough to give it meaningful authority without retaining a veto right." This is why the U.N. is a toothless debating society.
Tim Oren notes an interesting milestone: "The canard that it takes legacy media to effectively cover an overseas story died on the streets of Kiev. If you've been trying to follow the story of the Ukrainians' attempt to overturn a corrupt election, you didn't go to CNN or the NYT, even for primary coverage. Instead you picked up first hand reportage at quaintly named places like 'Post Modern Clog', TulipGirl, Periscope, and the Maidan Internet news collective." Exactly.
Wired has an interesting interview with Burt Rutan, designer of SpaceShipOne. "In the coming era of manned space exploration by the private sector, market forces will spur development and yield new, low-cost space technologies. If the history of private aviation is any guide, private development efforts will be safer, too. A NASA-funded study estimates that if the price of a ticket to space approached $100,000, close to a million people would buy one. That's a $100 billion industry." I'm eagerly awaiting Elon Musk's next update from SpaceX.
Slate has a puffy interview with Richard Dawkins: The Man Behind the Meme. He's promoting his new book, The Ancestor's Tale, which is [of course] a must-read for me. "When Dawkins introduced the meme concept a couple of decades ago, hopes were raised that the evolution of culture, or even of the human mind, might be explained as a sort of Darwinian competition among memes. But little has come of this project, even if the word "meme" does continue to get tossed around quite a bit by pretentious intellectuals." I bet Susan Blackmore would disagree!
CNet reports New microscope could focus nanotech dream. "The U.S. Department of Energy is enlisting partners to develop a microscope that can capture images of particles measuring a half an angstrom, or half the size of a hydrogen atom." Cool. Of course these government-funded projects are part boondoggle, they've earmarked $100M for the development... The micrograph at left shows gold atoms, 23 angstroms apart (proving all that's gold does not glitter :)
Engaget links an NYTimes story about a guitar-like robot called GuitarBot, and wonders whether it could beat Yngwie or Satriani in a shredding contest. I haven't heard its "music", but I suspect Ottmar is not worried :)
AOL has updated Singingfish, a multimedia search engine. I tried Singingfish by searching for "Ottmar Liebert video", and it worked - it found this Bravo movie (RealVideo) of Ottmar in concert. (Click through if you're never seen him - you'll love it!) I also tried searching for "GuitarBot", but no luck...
Archive: December 1, 2003
Wow, December! Yippee!
Kofi Annan thinks World Losing War on AIDS. Today was world AIDS day. Sadly, Annan chose to blame, instead of focusing on constructive solutions. This is a societal, behavioral problem, not a medical one. Really. And while we blame, there are five people dying of AIDS every minute.
Steven Den Beste observes Pain at the BBC. "Someone at the BBC really didn't want to write this story. It's about the US economy." Shhh, don't tell :)
Every once in a while I read something which totally hits a nail on the head; something which I knew, but didn't know I knew. So here's godless' Thoughts on Fashion.
I watched an assortment of bodies parade by, and was struck by the following realization: nice clothes really don't help women very much. This is because there are three possibilities:
- Lithe, athletic women who look good no matter what they're wearing.
- Intermediate Bridget Jones types who could stand to lose 15 pounds and hit the weight room.
- Truly overweight/unattractive women who look bad no matter what they're wearing.
It is only the intermediate category who benefits measurably from clothes shopping...
The other day I noted this was cool:
As Bush described his 'flight from Waco', he mentioned that he and Condoleezza Rice sat in an unmarked car, dressed casually with baseball caps, and that 'we looked a normal couple'.
So two people sent me email asking "what's so cool about that?" That's even cooler! Maybe our society is really, painfully, slowly but surely becoming colorblind!
Rob Walker contemplates The Guts of a New Machine. "Two years ago this month, Apple Computer released a small, sleek-looking device it called the iPod." Yep, and two years ago I bought one!
Slow Food! "If we wish to enjoy the pleasure which this world can give us, we have to give of our all to strike the right balance of respect and exchange with nature and the environment." [ via Ottmar Liebert ]
NYTimes notes a Chinese weblog with 10M readers. How do you become this popular? You just have to be an attractive 25-year old woman with an active sex life who blogs about it :)
Book website of the day: Nonzero, by Robert Wright. "The logic of human destiny." [ via John Robb ]
Steve Gillmor says Look Out, Outlook, RSS Ahead in 2004. "You better watch out; you better not cry; you better not pout. Steve Gillmor is telling you why: RSS is coming to town." Hey, it's been in town all year already. You are using an aggregator like SharpReader, right? [ via Dave Winer ]
A Slashdot thread noted TelevisionWeek: Getting Real About the DVR Threat. Why a threat? Because the 30-second spot is dead, and there is nothing on the horizon to replace it. TV broadcasters are losing revenue. Analyst James Marsh says of current actions "It's reminiscent of re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."
P.S. I love my Tivo. You knew that, but I had to say it anyway :)
The BitTorrent meme seems to be spreading in the blogosphere. But it has Dave mystified. It is a weird thing, in that there is no "client" to run. You find a .torrent file somewhere, somehow, and click on it.
Oh, here we have a digital sundial. Now is that cool, or what? Just when you think you've seen everything, you realize "everything" is so much more than you realized... [ via Cory Doctorow ]
A HeisenBug is a bug whose presence is affected by the act of observing it. I love it! Obviously leads to the famous HeisenBug Uncertainty Principle :)
this date in:
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
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
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?
still the first bird