Critical Section

Thursday,  04/10/14  10:51 PM

Minion!Multithread city over here, I have been courting investors, coding, team-building, and assembling a sales plan all at once.  And I need help, so I've also been making Minions =)

Biggest news the last couple of days has been heartbleed, the webserver bug (in OpenSSL) which is so bad it has it's own name (and logo).  Server admins all over the world are scrambling to apply patches, and users everywhere are changing passwords.  Crap.  So, does this refute Linus's Law?  (That with many eyes, all bugs are shallow.)  Nope. 

Land Rover's virtual transparent hoodThink Visual Search is flying under the radar?  No such luck.  Facebook's face identification project is accurate 97.25% of the time.  That's amazing.  And Twitter adds photo tagging.  It isn't automatic - yet - but imagine how cool when it will be.  Won't be long, check this out: Impala lands on Android to herd more cat pictures.  And there are applications like this: transparent Land Rover hoodOnward!

Seth Godin: Not even one note.  "We opt for more instead of better.  Better is better than more."

Cancellara just ahead of Boonen in the 2014 Tour of FlandersI've been remiss in my cycling commentary, which for some of you is just fine and others a travesty.  We're in the middle of the "classics" season, and next Sunday is the most classic classic, Paris-Roubaix, featuring a head-to-head battle between Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen.  In the last ten years Boonen has won four times, Cancellara three, including last year.  My money's on the Swiss time machine; he looked pretty amazing winning the Tour of Flanders last weekend...  (That's him leading Boonen in the Ronde.)

Office for iPad: it's here!So, Microsoft have announced Office for the iPad, or rather, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.  Early reviews have been uniformly positive and the products are already very popular though some pundits seem to feel this is only for business customers.  No, it is nothing less that a grand repositioning of the company away from desktop toward mobile; a great move, IMNSHO.  Good for Satya Nadella: Who are you, and what have you done with Microsoft's CEO?

Meanwhile, Microsoft's OS Chief Terry Myerson does not get it, per this interview with Mary Jo Foley.  "How the Windows experience spans these form factors and is familiar across them - that's what we need to deliver if we're going to delight people in the whole ecosystem."  That's old school thinking; I predict he will be gone soon...

Amazon's Fire TVMeanwhile, Amazon launches FireTV, their answer to AppleTV, Roku, and Chromecast.  Coolest differentiator is the voice-controlled remote, which apparently actually works.  That would be cool.

Oh, and they also launched Dash, which is a combination barcode scanner and voice recorder to help you order from Amazon Fresh.  Quite interesting.  I could see this making a difference in convenience...

finding flight 370 ... the depth of the problemSo, we still haven't found Malaysia Flight 370 :( despite an incredible effort.  At this point the most likely scenario all along seems the only scenario; the plane had trouble and crashed into the ocean.  The Washington Post created this illustration of how difficult it's going to be to find it.  It's not going to be easy to find the black box at the bottom of the ocean, as this illustration shows.

esr: Zero Marginal Thinking (Jeremy Rifkin gets it all wrong).  A thorough fisking.  Whew!

You, too, can be a Glasshole! (On April 15, one day only)Do you want to be a Glasshole, too?  On April 15 - for one day only (tax day!) - Google will sell one to anyone.  A mere $1,500 and you too can take pictures by winking.  Go for it!

And finally: how to flirt, according to science.  A big key is maintaining eye contact.  So Glass is great for flirting :)


Political correctness run amuck

Thursday,  04/10/14  10:04 PM

I've been watching the whole Mozilla / Brendan Eich thing with great interest.  Seems to me we've reached a new low in the political discourse of the United States, that a CEO could be forced to resign because of his alleged political views.

You know the story; Brendan Eich, a legendary software developer (creator of JavaScript while at Netscape) and a founder and longtime Mozilla employee, was promoted to its CEO.  Mozilla is of course the company behind the Firefox web browser and other open source projects.  Shortly after his promotion news broke that back in 2008 he had contributed $1,000 to support California's Proposition 8, which specified that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."  (Voters passed the amendment but it was overturned by a court in 2010 as unconstitutional.)  This was translated into "Eich is anti-gay", there was a sizeable uproar including companies redirecting users who surfed with Firefox to special anti-Eich pages, and after a couple of weeks Eich chose to resign rather than fight.

Voltaire: I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say itA new low.

You may know, I'm an ardent libertarian, and to me the salient point is not whether Eich is anti-gay (turns out, he's not) or anti-same-sex-marriage (turn's out, he's not anymore*), but whether the prevailing political winds should determine whether someone is fit to be an executive of a company.  We should defend people's right to have whatever view they want, especially on something as controversial as same-sex-marriage, even if we disagree with them.  We should not shut down public discussion of such issues by forcing a prevailing view.  And we especially should not confuse an individual's personal views with their fitness and performance as an executive of a company.

Lest you think this is an isolated example, there have been serious suggestions that other executives who have contributed to unpopular / un-politically-correct initiatives be "purged".  That's pretty scary, don't you think?

I think we should support different points of view and open debate, especially since the political winds can shift so quickly.  While support for same-sex-marriage is now pretty strong, it wasn't too long ago that it was "politically correct" to have an opposite view.  Consider the matter of abortion, which is not yet settled.  Having either a pro-life or pro-choice view is okay for a CEO, today.  But what about in five years?  What if one of these positions "wins"?  Should we then criticize or censure the people who had an opposite view today?

Pretty scary.

* BTW many notable public figures have changed their mind about same-sex-marriage, including President Obama. 


Tuesday,  04/08/14  09:48 PM

planetary gearGot up this morning determined to code something - a change to eyesFinder's upload API, if you must know - worked all day, and here it is 10:00 and haven't looked at a line yet.  Oh well, some days are like that...

Yes of course that it my a 6:1 planetary gear.  A great toy :)

9:39Have you ever had a time that always shows up on the clock?  For me it is 9:39.  Seems like every other time I look it is 9:39.  My wireless technology post was of course at ... 9:39.

Wild: Gamestop as a fee-free, convenient banking institution.  So ... are game preorders considered property or currency?

Neil deGrass Tyson explains evolutionNeil deGrasse Tyson explains evolution.  "Some claim evolution is just a theory, as if it were merely an opinion. The theory of evolution, like the theory of gravity, is a scientific fact. Evolution really happened."  Excellent.

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: Guy changes civilization.  A congressional candidate who checks his platform into github.  Well that's transparency in plan, if not in deed.

Facebook : OculusNot sure what to make of Facebook's $2B acqusition of VR company Oculus yet.  Seems like they must have more in mind than just an awesome gaming experience.  (In the meantime, augmented reality gets a boost - along with the visual search technology that makes it possible.)

So interesting the backlash which surrounds this deal; Oculus was a Kickstarter, and some of their early backers are angry that they didn't get any participation in this return, but as well many Oculus fans (and John Carmack fans) are upset because now Oculus will never be what it might have been.

Meanwhile: the top 8 picks from Y-Combinator demo day.  Hmmm.  Voice Interface API, Matchmaker Assisted Dating, Synced Cross-Web and Mobile Notifications, Airline Compensation ... doesn't seem like anything interesting in there.  At all.

astroid with ring systemAwesome: First astroid discovered sporting a ring system.  That's an artist conception at left, but how cool would it be to actually be there?  (Maybe we can do it via Oculus?)

Sedna and Pluto and XAnd: Small world discovered beyond Pluto.  The solar system is more and more interesting every day ... we need interplanetary space travel!

One more: Cassini points to hidden ocean on Saturn's icy moon [Enceladus].  To discover new worlds, to boldly go where no man has gone before...


wireless technology

Tuesday,  04/08/14  09:39 PM


I love it
(thanks, Z)


Q two

Sunday,  04/06/14  07:45 PM

Grand Budapest Hotel - a feast for the eyes and mindWatched Grand Budapest Hotel tonight; wow, how cool!  Entirely different from any other movie you'll see this year, and visually amazing.  Capped an interesting weekend ... a little riding, a little sailing, a little coding, and a lot of thinking.  Meanwhile, it's all happening...

I'm at an interesting transition point with eyesFinder; we're one quarter old now (sort of, if you consider the start of the year as day zero), and it's time for some changes.  Good ones.  Perfect timing as I started reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things... it's a great book, has me highlighting passages left and right.

UConn HuskiesSo ... didn't pick the final two did I?  Who knew we'd end up with a #7 against a #8 in the final (Connecticut vs Kentucky)?  So my final pick now is ... UConn.  They looked very good against Florida.  We'll see!

The Huskies have a chance to win both the Men's and Women's NCAA championships ... the Huskie women defeated Stanford today and will play Notre Dame in the final Tuesday night.

Tesla spaceship adDid you see this?  The enchanting Tesla ad that wasn't made by Tesla.  So awesome...  In 2014 you know you have a cool product when your customers are making ads for you.

Did you know?  A Tesla Model S owner has found a hidden ethernet port, and attached a laptop to his car's "network".  Inevitable, right?  Can't wait to jailbreak my car :)

Interesting that Tesla knew about it, and warned the owner not to do it anymore.  The legal position is quite interesting, are they allowed to do that?

always be knollingKnolling.  Okay, now there's a word for what I do.  "Knolling is the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization."  Aka, minimize entropy wherever possible :)

Looks like Adobe's transition from one-time sales to subscriptions is working.  Good for them.  This is a tough change for a public company to make, because revenue drops during the transition, but long-term it is a much better model.  For the company and the customer.

Russian Typhoon subExcellent: The massive soviet sub that inspired Hunt for Red October.  Too bad such a cool thing was built for such a bogus purpose.

Interesting: Livestrong without Lance.  I *still* wear my Livestrong bracelet every day; I started because of Lance, but continued because of Livestrong.  This is my conflict with Lance; yeah, he cheated at bike racing, and that's bad, but he founded an amazing organization which has done incredible work to fight cancer, and that's good.  Maybe in the end the good outweighs the bad.

Do you understand Secret?  Me, either.  So you can share things anonymously, so what?  You could always do that before, and it was always uninteresting.  (Apparently there was a secret version of iMessage called Rumor Monger.)  If people aren't willing to self-identify with their message, it's questionable.

the Bitcoin jarJohn Patrick: Reflections on Bitcoin.  Links this nice overview article in Newsweek.

IRS: Bitcoin is property, not currency.  Hmmm.  That means its increases in value would be subject to capital gains.

Sony smartwatchNot surprising: Sony turns down Android Wear in favor of its own tech.  This is interesting... we'll have to see whether the devices themselves win out, in which case proprietary approaches have a chance, or whether the platform will turn out to be more important.  Given the need for Apps to make a smartphone smart, I think the best platform might win.

Stephen Hawking: Space exploration is vital to our future.  Well yeah.  "We'd be 'castaways on a desert island not trying to escape' if we don't explore."  Agree.

ZooBorn: pygmy Slow LorisZooBorn of the week: A pygmy Slow Loris.  You're welcome :)


APOD: Saturn's raging storm

Sunday,  04/06/14  07:40 PM


NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day:
Saturn's Raging Storm
(click to enbiggen)

The atmospheric turmoil extends all the way around the planet
Just the large swirl at upper left is larger than the Earth

Saturn's rings are seen nearly edge on as the blue line
Note their shadow cast on the planet's surface




Saturday,  04/05/14  03:15 PM

Last weekend we had some great basketball, did you catch any of it?  Thanks to two Tivos and a Slingbox, I caught way more than I should; fortunately "watching" basketball on my desktop and coding are two things I can do at the same time.  Must be a right/left -brain thing.  Anyway my bracket is history:

I did okay picking the Elite eight; Florida and Arizona were easy, Michigan State did beat Virginia, and Michigan survived Texas.  But Dayton defeated Stanford (rather impressively, for a #11 seed), Wisconsin whacked Baylor (that was a crummy choice on my part), Connecticut handled Iowa State (good game!), and Kentucky beat their inter-state rival Louisville (whew).  So, 50%, though two of those were from revised picks (Michigan and Michigan State).

But it gets harder, and I didn't do so well picking the final four; yeah, Florida made it (over Dayton, as expected, and looking pretty good as Dayton played their best to give them a game), but Arizona fell to Wisconsin (thereby eliminating my pick to go all the way), Connecticut handled Michigan State (so a #7 made it to the final four), and Kentucky squeaked by Michigan (so a #8 made it too). 

I have to say the officiating was awful; not only because of that bad call in overtime which let Wisconsin win, but all through the various series.  Refs should not decide games, especially at the end.  And somebody has to rewrite the charge/block rule so mere humans can make the call without looking at monitors and guessing.  It ruins the game where every play at the end is someone driving the lane, someone guarding them closely, then a whistle and a zebra decides what happened.  That is *not* basketball, or it shouldn't be.

And so onward into the Final Four, what do I think?  Well, I'm picking Florida to end Connecticut's hopes (not a controversial pick, but I'm sticking with the only team I have left from my original bracket), and Wisconsin to beat Kentucky (after your team loses, you have to root for the team that knocked them out).  And in the final... I'm picking... Wisconsin.  Just because I can't root for Florida to win it all. 

Happy viewing!


teaching the 1s and 0s to dance

Saturday,  04/05/14  03:10 PM

teaching the 1s and 0s to danceYes yes, I know, I've been gone ... gone coding.  Working on eyesFinder, if you must know; image hotspot support in the visual search engine, including polar kernelization.  I shall explain, please stay tuned.  It takes time, teaching the 1s and 0s to dance.




Monday,  03/24/14  09:28 PM

Well, did you get enough basketball last week/end?  Here's what happened to my bracket:

Not terrible; 25/32 in the second round*, and 7/16 in the third round*.  My best call was Stanford, worst was Duke.  I had to repick six teams for the fourth round*, two teams for the final four, and a new team for the finals; they're shown shaded in yellow.  Yes I am picking Michigan State over Florida.  My overall pick is still Arizona.  How did you do?

* bogusly, this year the tournament's four "play in games" are called the first round (or "first four").  So the round of 64, previously called the first round, is now the second, and the round of 32 is now the third, etc.


Saturday,  03/22/14  09:49 PM

MakerBot MightBoard attached to AVR RISPmkII programmerSuch a busy week ... traveling, meeting, and ... coding.  I have two awesome development projects going at the same time, and it feels like I just don't have enough time to do everything.  (One, a cool improvement to the eyesFinder kernelizer, and the second, a custom update to my Makerbot's firmware :)  So I shall blog.

The stress of being a programmer is driving many of them crazy.  Then again, many of them were crazy to begin with, so who can tell?

Glasshole dogGlassholes: at least you know who they are.  So interesting the difference in reception given Glass vs smartwatches.

Wearing Apple.  "The first step is to start looking at things from Apple’s point-of-view. I ask myself, 'What problems can a wearable device solve?'"

Disrupting healthcare with Google Glass.  Unfortunately this is another incorrect usage of 'disrupting', but there's no doubt Glass can deliver value in healthcare, and any industry where people cannot use their hands to access information.

Moto 360 watchThe Moto 360 watch: 'we wanted to hit the whoa mark'.  It's a nice looking watch, but there are many of them.  Will it work?  Seems an always on screen implies poor battery life.  Still contextual information at a glance could be most useful.

Dave Winer: New Scripting News.  My pattern with Dave is I never get what he's working on until much later, and then I realize he was just way ahead of me.  FWIW he is more responsible than anyone for getting me into blogging.

the grass printerHere we have a Grass Printer.  Excellent.

How Earl "Madman" Muntz changed car (and American) culture.  Give this article a chance, it picks up steam and ends up making some pretty subtle points.  I love the 4-track cartridge player.  "Always good at spotting the next trend, Muntz went on to be among the first people to market satellite dishes, home video recorders and big screen TVs. By the time of his death in 1987 he had become the biggest retailer in southern California of a new device called the cellular phone."  Good call.

iPhone6 mockupiPhone6 will include temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors.  Of course it will.

And ... it will include "Healthbook" software.  That will be cool.

The BBC has 10 theories on what could have happened to Malaysia flight 370.  Quite interesting.  I guess the simple disaster theory is the most likely, but I love the idea that the plane hid in the shadow of another plane. 

Edward Snowden gives TED talkEdward Snowden gives a TED talk.  How cool is that?  I'm a little conflicted about Snowden, but there's no denying his motives were good.  At this point, we must shine more light.

Paris Metro swimming poolAn abandoned Paris Metro station reimagined as a swimming pool.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize 'it all' is so much more than you thought :)


Google unjumps the shark

Saturday,  03/22/14  09:33 PM

So... I think Google have unjumped the shark.

I was just looking at some old links I'd saved for possible blogging from the depths of time, three years ago.  At that time I was convinced Google had jumped the shark; that marketing people had taken over from engineers, and the company was headed for a slow sad decline, following in the path of so many technology leaders before.  Check out their home page; I saved this as "Google shark jump 1":

And this as "Google shark jump 2":

Just look at that... I mean, look at it.  Who would ever think this was a nice clean home page?  That black menu is hideous, and there are way too many things going on.  But check out Google's home page today:

A lot cleaner.  Yeah there's still that Google+ junk, but someone has clearly gotten a clue.  And Google have unjumped in a lot of other ways; take the fact that this screenshot uses Chrome, which is now my default browser, having supplanted Firefox.  And look at the success of Android.  And Glass.  And Android Wear. 

Who knows what will be next?


Angry Nerds

Saturday,  03/22/14  09:18 PM

From Atlassian (makers of JIRA) ... Angry Nerds:

I love it.  Check out especially the character descriptions.  And of course ... play it!


Google Android Wear

Tuesday,  03/18/14  09:03 PM

Google Android Wear WatchToday's big news is BIG: Google Android Wear

"Google has revealed that their Android operating system is coming to wearable technology as part of their newly announced Android Wear project."

Not only does this make Android available as a platform for all sorts of devices – Google Glass, and now Google Watches, and who knows what else – but these will have Google’s voice activated technology built in.

"Okay Watch, take picture"

It’s interesting to me that while Google aren't first to this market, they've beat Apple to it. We all know Apple is working on wearable computing devices but where are they? Maybe, like with phones, they'll wait until everyone else gets it wrong for a while, learn, and then get it right. But Android seems headed for a nice head start.

Also I have to say, these are not ugly.  Of course Google are making a platform, and anyone can use their SDK to build on their platform, so Hublot or Cartier or whomever can make a Google Wear watch.  Android jewelry, coming soon!


Different Scales (NY 11/14/11)

Tuesday,  03/18/14  08:49 PM


"different scales"

(from my backlog of unposted awesome New Yorker covers)


Monday,  03/17/14  10:05 PM

Well it's been a little while; let's see what's happening, shall we?

3,200 years old ... the PresidentThis 3200 Year Old Tree Is So Huge It's Never Been Captured In A Single Image.  Wow, how cool is that?  247 feet tall with a 27 foot trunk.  The little red dot near the base is a person :)

all the places Malaysia Airlines 777 could have landedThe case of the missing 777 is becoming more and more interesting.  It seems unlikely that the plane just crashed - but on the other hand, where is it?  Philip Greenspun considers stealing and stashing a 777.  The map at right shows all the possible landing places within 3 1/2 hours of the plane's disappearance, but of course we'd know if it had landed at any of them.

Here's a cool theory: maybe Malaysia Air 370 disappeared using another 777?  Apparently it would increase the possible locations.  It sure seems to fit the otherwise weird behavior of running off course in one direction for so long, then reversing back in the other before vanishing.

So, is the era of Facebook an anomaly?  (Based on everyone showing up in the same social space.)  I think it was kind of inevitable, given the strong network effect.  Imagine how difficult it will be to displace it.  (Look how hard Google have tried with Google+, and how ineffectual it has been...)

Glassholes: at least you know who they are.  Ah, but do you know who they really are?

Microsoft CEO Nadella may unveil Office on iPad.  Awesome.  I knew he was reading my blog :)

And so, if Office were available, would I use it?  The answer is, it depends... with Apple's Pages, Keynote, and Numbers I have three "Office" programs which interoperate with Office pretty well, and which have UIs which are designed for a tablet.  Microsoft will have to do at least as well.  But they could!

Hawaii's TMT (thirty meter telescope)The Billion-dollar telescope race.  Excellent.  I love "big science"!  My money's on the TMT, pictured at right.  Weirdly this article does not mention Caltech, only that both the TMT and GMT projects are "headquartered in Pasadena", and not even in connection with the Palomar Observatory.

Speaking of big science, it looks like Gravity Waves have been Detected.  Wow!  First the Higgs Boson, and now this.  It does seem like the Big Bang Theory is on firm ground :)



Posts in the last month:

04/10/14 10:51 PM -

Thursday,  04/10/14  10:51 PM

04/10/14 10:04 PM -

Political correctness run amuck

04/08/14 09:48 PM -

Tuesday,  04/08/14  09:48 PM

04/08/14 09:39 PM -

wireless technology

04/06/14 07:45 PM -

Q two

04/06/14 07:40 PM -

APOD: Saturn's raging storm

04/05/14 03:15 PM -


04/05/14 03:10 PM -

teaching the 1s and 0s to dance

03/24/14 09:28 PM -


03/22/14 09:49 PM -

Saturday,  03/22/14  09:49 PM

03/22/14 09:33 PM -

Google unjumps the shark

03/22/14 09:18 PM -

Angry Nerds

03/18/14 09:03 PM -

Google Android Wear

03/18/14 08:49 PM -

Different Scales (NY 11/14/11)

03/17/14 10:05 PM -

Monday,  03/17/14  10:05 PM

03/17/14 11:06 AM -

happy St Patrick's

03/16/14 09:48 PM -


03/15/14 02:17 PM -


03/13/14 11:02 PM -

everything is ok

03/13/14 10:52 PM -

everything is awesome

03/12/14 11:47 PM -

Wednesday,  03/12/14  11:47 PM

For older posts please visit the archive.


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About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
the inflection point
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
paper art
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
in praise of paddle shifting
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
shining a light
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
discovering the third quadrant
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
introducing eyesFinder