Critical Section

Archive: November 28, 2020

 

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Archive: November 28, 2018

 

Archive: November 28, 2017

 

Archive: November 9, 2016

a new beginning

Wednesday,  11/09/16  09:03 PM

return of the elephants

Yesterday, the American people sent a strong signal.  They didn't vote for President-elect Trump or the Republican party, and they didn't vote against Hillary Clinton.  They voted for change.  They did not like where we were headed, and they said so, loudly.

In 2008 after Barack Obama was elected President, the Democratic party controlled both houses, 29 governorships, and 27 state legislatures.  But in the four elections since the Democratic party has moved further to the left and left America in the middle.  Now Donald Trump has been elected President, the Democrats have lost both houses, and they are left with only 18 governorships and 12 state legislatures.  *That* is change you must believe in.

I didn't see this coming.  I don't like Donald Trump.  But I am delighted that the era of liberal policies, free-spending big government, victimology, and sanctimonious political correctness may be brought to an end.  We have serious problems and we need serious solutions.  We cannot expect our government to provide those solutions, we can only hope that they get out of the way.  Obamacare is only the latest in a long serious of fiascos where the government attempts to manipulate a market, and causes incredible damage.  (For an earlier example, see the government's subsidy of subprime loans via FNMA and FDMC, which caused the disastrous housing bubble of the mid-2000s.)

I would guess that 75% of you, my friends and readers, are more liberal than I am.  Many way, way more.  (You are great friends for all that.)  Same for the bloggers I follow (great bloggers), my Facebook and Twitter feeds, etc.  Since last night there has been a vast outpouring of anger and frustration and denial.  It will take time to understand what happened.  But I hope those who are angry and frustrated will take that time. 

This was not about race, not about gender, not about multiculturalism, not about trivial considerations of social correctness.  You and I, we live in a bubble.  We cannot easily identify with those who cannot find work, who see their towns shrinking, their kids growing up worse off than they were, the way of life they love slowly eroding.  But that is reality for millions of people, and those people voted for change.  They are Americans of all races, genders, and cultural backgrounds (check the stats, Trump received more minority votes and more support from women than Mitt Romney).  They want to make America great again.

Let's work together and make that happen.  We learn from the past, take all the best ideas, and move forward.  I am not angry or frustrated, I am excited and energized.  It is a new beginning, let's make the most of it!

 

 
 

Archive: November 28, 2015

 

Archive: November 26, 2014

(New Yorker, 11/24/14)

Wednesday,  11/26/14  10:04 PM

 

"time warp"
excellent!

(cover of the New Yorker's annual "tech" issue)

 

 

wearable computing

Wednesday,  11/26/14  10:22 PM

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

 

10X

Wednesday,  11/26/14  11:34 PM

the 10X crowd
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.

Stay tuned!

 
 

Archive: November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! (NY 12/02/13)

Thursday,  11/28/13  09:51 AM

Hi everyone, Happy Thanksgiving!

I have many things to be thankful for ... my family and friends, my work, cycling and sailing, and ... you my blog friends!  I hope you have a fantastic day filled with football, cheese and crackers, turkey and potatoes, pie ... wine ... and your family and friends.  Tomorrow is a new day and we can look ahead, but today we can enjoy just for today.

 
 

Archive: November 28, 2012

 

Archive: November 28, 2011

 

Archive: November 28, 2010

Cryptonomicon

Sunday,  11/28/10  07:33 PM

Last night I finished Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson.  Wow!  I'm pretty sure it has moved up to second on my all time list, behind the amazing Godel, Escher, Bach, displacing William Gibson's Neuromancer which was my previous #2.  What a *great* book!

Funny, serious, entertaining, and thought-provoking, it is full of knowledge about cryptography, World War II, the Philippines, 1990s business, and features amazing characters, fully drawn.  I am so sad that it's over, but so excited to read the as-yes-to-be-released two next members of this "series".

I think my main reaction is awe.  To take so many subjects and subplots and weave them together so seamlessly is awesome.  And the thought of lighting the Qwghlmian "Galvanick Lucifer" brings a huge smile to my face :)

 

Sunday,  11/28/10  10:21 PM

the house dressed for Christmas!Wrapping up a  l o n g  weekend, yay!  I can't remember the last time I didn't have some urgent deadline which was hovering over me for Thanksgiving weekend, I give thanks for that!  Was able to ride (somewhat, despite the cold!), and eat, and enjoy my family, and watch football, and even blog a little.  And I got the Christmas lights up, always important!

Onward into the week; I am making my annual post-Thanksgiving pilgrimage to Chicago for the RSNA conference, and then heading on to New York and New Jersey for meetings with customers.  On the road again...  but in the meantime, a filter pass:

Thanksgiving in 1810Thanksgiving in 1910, compared to 1810 ... and to 2010.  "The world has changed more in the last 100 years than in any 1,000 that have gone before."  I think this statement is generally true, and can be made at any time; human progress is logarithmic.  What will Thanksgiving in 2110 be like?  The mind boggles...

Palm Pre [connected] cameraSo... in 2010, does anyone ever print photos?  No.  So it follows that rather than continuing to add resolution, camera manufacturers should be adding online interfaces.  I have a 12Mp Fuji camera, I love it, but I mostly use it to take 3Mp photos, because they're going onto my Facebook or blog or website or being emailed...  the one feature I'd love to have is WiFi or cell connectivity, with the ability to email or post directly to FB or my blog.  I often end up taking pictures with my Pre phone's inferior camera just because it is connected.  Add point-and-shoot cameras to the list of devices which will be obsoleted by smartphones.

Related: AirPrint, a technology which enables things to be printed by sending email.  Perfect for smartphones and tablets ... and perfect for connected cameras :)

the periodic table of stuffThe periodic table ... of stuff.  I love it.

Interesting: Eric Raymond ends up with an Android G-2 (which doesn't have a keyboard), and likes it better than a G-1 (which does).  I am ... sigh ... somewhat seriously considering an iPhone, assuming it shows up on Verizon, and continue to worry about not having a physical keyboard.  But if Eric can get used to it, maybe I can too?

I checked out The Feed, an RSS reader for the iPad.  Works great.  I must say I prefer to scan headlines visually rather than scrolling through items, it's faster.  Granted scrolling is fast on the iPad, but nothing is faster than visual scanning.  I must say I am still mystified by how few people use RSS, it is so cool.  I guess the "activation energy" to setup and maintain subscriptions is too high?  Or perhaps using yet-another-tool to get news is disorienting.

ZooBorn: rare pygmy hippoZooBorn of the weekend: a rare pygmy hippo.

And so I'm off - not sure what my blogging schedule will be, but please stay tuned.  And have a great week!

 
 

Archive: November 28, 2009

about nothing

Saturday,  11/28/09  12:56 PM

This morning I did something very unusual - nothing.  I woke up at 6:30, and instead of getting up or going back to sleep, I grabbed a book my Kindle and started reading.  That led to a long lazy morning of reading, a long lazy shave while reading, and a long lazy session of sitting and doing nothing with Bo on my lap (our guinea pig).  Finally I had enough of long laziness and here I am in my office blogging about nothing.  The day is not off to a flying start.

 

about smartphones

Saturday,  11/28/09  01:02 PM

The other day I noted Tim Bray's observation that he could use his Android smartphone for consuming content, but not for creating it.  Which sparked an email exchange with my friend Gary:

{G} Note that I posted on my blog in 2004 with my Treo.

{me} There’s “blogging” as in the technical act of making a post (which I’ve been able to do for a long time too), and “blogging” as in the creative act of sitting and reviewing links and reading pages and editing photos and assembling an interesting post (which I still cannot do from my smartphone).  I will say with my Pre I am closer than I was with my Treo.

{G} Because the Pre/iPhone/Android phones allow a level of browsing and interactivity that were previously reserved for PCs.  Really, smart phones are the biggest threat to MS ever.  OTOH, for creating content, you want a PC, as you've observed.

{me} I accept that more and more of what could only be done on a PC before can now be done on smartphones.  And I guess I figured eventually everything which could be done on a PC would be doable on a smartphone.  Years ago I moved from a desktop to a laptop and never looked back.  Still, when docked I do have a fullsize keyboard, standalone mouse, and [maybe most important] a 24” monitor.  Sometimes on the road when I am using my laptop, I miss my desk.

{G} Well, there's a Nikon camera for sale now that has a projector built-in, and projectors are shrinking, so that could work.  But since my current NeXT machine (iPhone) is really the same as the one I had in 1990, but has more storage and processing power, I think the more likely scenario is that I just lay the phone on the desk (or really, keep it in my pocket) and my keyboard and large screen light up, and I continue computing, with a desktop metaphor as we have today, if that remains useful.

my blogstation - note Pre circled at centerI’ve been giving this a lot of thought.  An interesting subject.  Consider my blogstation, pictured at right, with my Pre circled in the center.

I think the difference with a phone is the communication bandwidth.  You can view just about anything now, but you still have a teeny view of it.  Perhaps when we have projectors built into phones (which I’m sure are coming) then you can view more of it, and consuming content will be more or less the same as with a PC.  As far as input, multitouch is all very exciting, but most content creation involves typing, and typing on a phone just isn’t like typing on a PC.  Yet.  If it ever will be, the physical size of fingers is what it is.  Seems like there are breakthroughs yet to be made there (virtual keyboards?).  Maybe it will take a mind-to-device link other than physical finger motion.

There was a time I would have found it amazing to be reading and composing email on a phone, and yet...  maybe next I'll be reading RSS and posting to my blog.  Stay tuned!

 

Saturday,  11/28/09  08:58 PM

A really nice day - it started lazily, and it's ending that way (I'm watching yesterday's Colorado/Nebraska game, with two games from yesterday and three games from today left to view!), and in between I actually accomplished some "stuff".  Best of all, I rearranged travel for tomorrow (I'm flying to Chicago for the RSNA conference) so that I'm flying on a redeye instead of all through the day.  So I get tomorrow back!  For more laziness :)

Flip video cameraCyclelog: back up Rockstore, with a wrinkle; I attached Megan's Flip video camera to the handlebars, and I got some great footage of the climb and the subsequent descent down Decker.  Now I just need to install Premiere so I can edit it, and then YouTube here I come...  stay tuned.  The Flip is a wonder; so clean and easy, and it *works*.  Created a new product category all by itself overnight.

It just came to me today, suddenly: Wow, it's almost my birthday!  Huh.  Last year as I was about to turn The Big Five-O (dum dum dum) it was very much on my mind, as a bad horrible not so good thing.  This year, so far, is the big so what.  0x33 :)

L'Hydroptere vs KitesurferVideo of the day: L'Hydroptere vs Kitesurfer...  in a sailing speed bake-off.  Excellent stuff.  I still think L'Hydroptere is the most amazing sailboat I've ever seen, and that includes Alinghi's mega-cat and Oracle's mega-tri.  This thing goes 50 knots in waves, stably, for miles on end.  Amazing.

I am heading off to Chicago - downtown, featuring the Michigan Ave. shopping district (aka The Magnificent Mile) - and it will be most interesting to see how busy it is with pre-Christmas shoppers... the combination of the economy and online shopping seems to have diluted the "black Friday" flood this year, and I doubt it means everyone is just late; I think it means everyone is holding back.  The recovery is not uniform and not trusted, especially with the Obama administrations missteps in every direction.

Antonio Rangel studies the neural basis for self-controlCaltech's excellent Engineering & Science Magazine has a new electronic format, check it out, very nice.  A Flash player which doesn't suck.  In the latest issue an article which is most relevant on Thanksgiving weekend: The Neural Basis for Self-Control.  Antonio Rangel (pictured at right): "Many of the world’s problems are the result of faulty decision making. If we could understand how the brain makes decisions, then maybe we could make better choices... I’m interested in self-control, which is at the core of many of the most pertinent public-policy and health issues in the United States."  I'm interested in pumpkin pie myself :)

Can I just say, eBay really sucks now?  Okay, thanks, because it does.  Yeah it is still *the* place to buy and sell online because of the huge network effect, but the UI is horrible.  So complicated, so many little nickel-and-dime extra options.  I can remember when it was not so; eBay's UI was a marvel.  It has cruftified badly over time.

Interesting...  a company like eBay creates a network effect by out-executing its competition, but then stops executing, because it doesn't have to anymore.  Like Microsoft.  Like IBM before Microsoft.  Could Apple be next?

PS gave up on Colorado/Nebraska as it is now 24-7 Huskers at the half.  On to Boise/Nevada on the blue carpet.  In pouring rain.  As Boise jumps ahead to a 13-0 lead halfway into the first quarter, may have to switch again...  (I love Thanksgiving weekend!)  Um now it is 19-0.  Wow, Boise are for real.

 
 

Archive: November 28, 2008

lighting the house

Friday,  11/28/08  07:31 PM

Today was amazing; just the most beautiful day you could imagine.  Crisp and clear, sun shining, with just a breath of cool breeze keeping the leaves moving.  Perfect for my annual brush with death: lighting the house!

lighting the house
... some objects are taller than they appear ...

lighting the house
... faithful to my shirt ...

Many of my neighbors put up lights (our neighborhood is well lit during December :), and many most of them hire people to do it, but for me there is a gentle satisfaction in doing it myself.  Particularly on a day as nice as this one; rain or wind or cold add to the difficulty, and at the end of November all three in combination are not unusual.  But today the forces of Murphy were forgiving.  (They did manifest themselves in one light string which worked perfectly in the garage, but not on the roof, but that's par for the course :)

lighting the house
... the end result ... priceless ...

With that safely done, I can retire to more football and more eating.  I hope your day-after-Thanksgiving went just as well :)

 

 
 

Archive: November 28, 2007

 

Archive: November 28, 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
12%

I think it is NOT okay
to look at a women's body
0%

I think it IS okay
to look at a woman's body
80%

I think it is NOT okay
to look at a woman's body
6%

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 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: November 28, 2004

Survey: What if people were larger?

Sunday,  11/28/04  11:10 AM

A year ago I posted a series of "order of magnitude" thought experiments about the future of people.  Over the next few days, I'm going to repeat them as surveys...  Here we go.

Today's order-of-magnitude thought: What if people were larger?  Not bigger as in "I ate a lot of turkey yesterday", but bigger as in most people are about 10' tall, and weigh 400lbs...  Would that make our lives qualitatively different?  Would this be better for you, or worse?

My life would be better if people were larger
6%

My life would be worse if people were larger
80%

My life wouldn't change if people were larger
13%

total votes = 45

  (ended 12/31/04)

 

Sunday,  11/28/04  09:48 PM

Kiev protestorsHave you been following the situation in the Ukrane?  Check out this picture from downtown Kiev.  That is millions of people, in freezing weather, protesting an allegely stolen election.  Democracy rules.  Let's hope it wins, too.  A thought about the Ukrane situation, where's the U.N. involvement?  They're eager enough to meddle in U.S. elections, but how about this situation, where they're actually needed?

It is time for a change at the U.N.; Glenn Reynolds in WSJ: It's time for a Kofi break.

NetZero AOL parody adHave you seen those lame AOL ads, where they claim to be responsive to their customers?  Well NetZero has gone them one better; they've duplicated the ads using the same actors, emphasizing the same responsiveness, and then concluding that NetZero is half the price.  Clever.  Of course comparing a "mere" ISP like NetZero to AOL is kind of silly - there's that whole walled garden of content at AOL in addition to the 'net - but the ads are great.  [ via Collision Detection ]

Remember caravans?  They're back!  Check out this article in Science News on Cruise Control and Traffic Flow.  "One potential solution is to equip a car with adaptive cruise-control technology.  Such a system uses radar and a computer to maintain a safe distance from another car or truck.  Its advantage is that it can respond much more quickly and precisely than human drivers can to any change in speed."  Couldn't have put it better myself.  Just shows it's not the idea, it's the execution...

ZAP Smart CarComing soon to a sidewalk street near you: The ZAP Smart Car.  AutoWeek reports Company Gets Clearance to Sell Two-Seater in U.S..  Excellent.  I wonder how long before Ottmar Liebert gets one? :)

DVD Jon has cracked Windows Media 9: So Sue Me.  I'm sure Microsoft will oblige.  This shows - once again - that "strong DRM" is not the solution to protecting digital content.  Slashdot thread here.

Speaking of code-breaking; here's a real life "DaVinci code": Mystery not an Enigma.  "Bletchley Park codebreakers had been called to an historic monument in Central England.  Their mission was to crack an 18th century puzzle - the carved letters "D OUOSVAVV M" - that some believe contains a clue to the location of the Holy Grail."  The most popular decoding: Jesus H. Defy.  [ via David Pescovitz ]

From The Angloshere Challenge: "The first indication came when the falling price of computers crossed the point where the average programmer could afford to own a computer capable of producing the code from which he typically earned his living.  This meant that, for the first time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the ownership of the most critical tool of production in the most critical industry of the world's leading economy was readily affordable by the individual worker."  Then it goes on to make the same point about video production.  Looks like a must-read book!

Macleans on Hot Television: "The new wave of online piracy is all about TV - and Hollywood is sending lawyers."  Of course lawyers are no defense against the likes of DVD Jon.  This genie is not going back in the bottle.

Apple - eMagic breakout boxApple is apparently working on a "breakout box"; developed with technology from their eMagic acquisition.  A cool analog interface for GarageBandAh, but will it do video?  That is the question...

More from Wired 12.12 (December 2004): James Cameron: The Drive to Discover.  "Exploration is not a luxury.  It defines us as a civilization.  It directly or indirectly benefits every member of society.  It yields an inspirational dividend whose impact on our self-image, confidence, and economic and geopolitical stature is immeasurable...  What are we waiting for?  Let's go!"

Nature: Scientists propose conservation parks on Mars.  "They suggest rules such as 'no spacecraft parts to be left in the park', and would allow access only along predefined routes, like hiking trails in terrestrial parks."  I love it.

American Digest: Five Pictures in Search of an Explanation
Hmmm...  These could explain a lot :)

 

 

 
 

Archive: November 28, 2003

Friday,  11/28/03  11:07 PM

I survived my annual brush with death; yeah, our house has Christmas lights all over it.  Standing on top of a 25' extension ladder on a windy day is not my idea of fun.  But having a warm, welcoming-looking home is :)

Today's order-of-magnitude thought: What if everyone was bigger?  Not bigger as in "I ate a lot of turkey yesterday", but bigger as in most people are about 10' tall, and weigh 400lbs...  Would that make our lives qualitatively different?  Would this be better for you, or worse?  Or if you prefer, what if everyone was smaller?  Imagine most people are about 3' tall and weigh 75lbs...  Would that make our lives qualitatively different?  Just wondering.

I spent some time surfing the blogosphere yesterday, reading interesting reactions to Bush's trip to Iraq.  Most interesting was the reaction from Iraqi's themselves.  Personally I think it was a great thing to do.  A wimp would be distancing himself from something which he's being attacked over; Bush is no wimp.  I really think he just does what he believes is right.

An interesting note from Andrew Sullivan:  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'.  Now that's cool.  It might be the coolest part of the whole thing.

Andras SimonyiRocking in the free world, dept.: Andras Simonyi is the Hungarian ambassador to the United States.  He is also a guitar player, and this Winds of Change post contains a transcript of his speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  Check it out, really cool.

Umberto Eco posted a wonderful article on The Future of Books.  At one time paper was "new technology", just as computers and the Internet are today.  Dr. Eco has a flowery writing style which takes a bit of digging, but he really has some interesting things to say.  (I really had to fight my way through The Name of the Rose, but ultimately ended up loving it.)  The key distinguishing feature of humans - the thing that really sets us apart from other animals - is our ability to retain and transmit cultural memory.  The consequent incremental accumulation of knowledge has led to all our power (exactly as incremental accumulation of improvements to a species enable it to evolve).

Speaking of new technology, I, Cringley thinks Apple is going to launch a tablet computer, and that the killer app will be high-speed wireless networking to home entertainment devices.  We'll see, analysts have been wrong about this before!

Say "hello" to Kathy!  Yep, right there on the homepage of walmart.com, is a picture of Kathy, my admin when I was at Intuit (click through for a bigger pic on their "welcome" page).  She's obviously moving up in the world.

Oh, yeah, Wal-Mart had a great day today.  ("Out of the red, and into the black...")  Maybe the economic recovery is real?

 
 

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