Critical Section

Archive: June 27, 2022


Archive: June 27, 2021


Archive: June 27, 2020

messing about in small boats, with little people

Saturday,  06/27/20  09:20 PM

Spent today as a Saturday should be spent, messing about in small boats, with my favorite little person.

Ori sailing

thar she blows

To be repeated soon and often!


Archive: June 27, 2019


Archive: June 27, 2018


Archive: June 10, 2017

not liking not liking

Saturday,  06/10/17  01:37 PM

Hi all.  Still missing in action, I know*.

Anyway a quick update: I am not liking Not Liking.  I was about to do it, and it didn't feel right.  If you my friends want to post crappy crap about politics, who am I to judge.  I might not like it, but I won't Not Like it**.

* I'm either too busy or my priorities are messed up, possibly probably both.  I mean, I haven't even blog-bragged about sailing in Tahiti yet, and that was already a month ago.  Sigh.  And I haven't blogged about Tom Dumoulin winning the Giro, and about ... a lot.  But please stay tuned...

** I still reserve the right to hide your feed.  But you would never know, bwa ha ha.


Archive: June 27, 2016


Archive: June 26, 2015

Friday,  06/26/15  12:30 PM

Spent yesterday coding and the evening sailing (on my rejuvenated C-15).  What could be better?  In the meantime:

ancient hourglassesAt part of my Bitcoin investigations, I've been perusing the writings of Nick Szabo, inventor of Smart Contracts.  (In case you're interested, I've translated his IEEE presentation on this subject from WordPerfect Presentations (!) into PDF...)  Among other things, Nick is rumored to *be* Satoshi Nakamoto.  

Nick has a blog called Unenumerated, and comments on a very underrated invention.  (Hourglasses)  For a longer treatment of the same subject, see A Measure of Sacrifice, in which the measure of time is seen to be important as a measure of investment and created value.

congressional cooperationThis is pretty depressing; 62 years of congressional cooperation in a single GIF. The red and blue dots represent congresspeople, and the lines indicate "cooperation", as measured by voting the same way on pending legislation.

It is interesting to speculate, what has caused this decrease in cooperation?  There are no doubt many reasons, but I suspect mass media is the biggest factor.  Politicians on both sides have been polarized...

Apropos: John Hindraker on Politics in the Era of Symbolic Liberalism.  John posts from a right-wing stance, but it can equally be argued from the other side.  Appearances have become far more important than actions.

Also apropos (or at least, related), James Lileks: The only reason Apple pulled Civil War apps from the store was fear of the Internet.  That is to say, fear of appearances.  "The loud people may complain. The company would have to explain. An explanation would be seen as a justification."

Note: they have not yet pulled WWII apps, despite the undoubted symbols of hatrid (swasticas etc) present...

Philip Greenspun considers Apple Music: A good reminder not to listen to computer scientists.  "Certainly nobody predicted that a company such as Apple would be able to take 30 percent of the recording industry’s revenue because the record companies were incapable of setting up their own servers."  How interesting, right?

remove cat before flight :)To more fun matters ... Have you see this?  Remove cat before flight.  I love it!  (Such a classic cat move, right?:)

Brad Feld wonders Why isn't PGP built into Gmail?  Yeah, good point.  In fact, why isn't PGP standard everywhere?  I've been having a discussion with friends which *might* lead to IP, and we're having it on Slack instead of email, to keep it private. 

Jeffrey Zeldman: Deep Tweets No 613664902180413440.  "Usability testing doesn't reveal problems in your product so much as it uncovers arrogance in your thinking."  Indeed.


Archive: June 26, 2014

charging up the road

Thursday,  06/26/14  10:22 PM

campsite chargingI'm on my way to Lake Tahoe to compete in the Alta Alpina Double Century, and doing it in an electric car...  This trip would be completely impossible without Tesla superchargers.  They are located about 200 miles apart on I-5 and California 101, and charge the car in about an hour.  So you can stop, plug in, eat, shop*, or do whatever, and an hour later you're on your way again. 

* Tesla seem to have most of their superchargers located in the parking lots of outlet malls, which are located between big cities, and have big parking lots, and ... give you something to do while charging.

That works great if you stick to the main highways, but what if you want to visit Yosemite?  Two things happen; first, you have to carefully figure in the effect of going up and down hills in your range calculations, and second, you are going to find yourself in a campsite, plugged into an RV hookup.  There you will charge at about 40mph, so it will take a long time to charge completely.  Or you can hop from charge to charge, out of boredom and a desire to see more.

Yosemite ValleyYosemite is simply awesome.  If you've never been there, it's a must-see.  The beauty and scale of the rock formations and meadows and waterfalls is breathtaking.

The National Park is celebrating its 150-year anniversary, which is amazing; imagine visiting it on horseback!

Onward ... tomorrow is a day of relaxation in Hope Valley, south of Lake Tahoe, and Saturday I'm riding.  Stay tuned!


Archive: June 27, 2013


Archive: June 27, 2012


Archive: June 26, 2011

the grand tour

Sunday,  06/26/11  10:34 AM

Yesterday I rode the L.A. Wheelman's Grand Tour Highland Double, the double, which dates back to a bet in which several cyclists dared each other to ride 200 miles in a single day.  Since then I've taken the dare a few times :) as have hundreds of others, and double centuries have become, well, routine; but this is *still* a great ride. 

The route is classic; you start in Malibu and ride PCH for 25 miles (don't think just because it's next to the ocean, it's flat, cause it's not).  Then it's up Potrero Canyon - a maniacal climb that gets steeper and steeper and yikes this is steep - then a beautiful ride through Hidden Valley (after climbing into it), and a nice charge through Westlake Village (after climbing out of it), and then descent into Moorpark, sojourn into Simi Valley, and the magnificent all-to-brief descent of Grimes Canyon, the powering through the citrus groves into Santa Paula, the long climb into the Ojai Valley (followed by a frenetic descent), lunch (!) in Ojai, onward to Lake Casitas and the climb behind it, the descent into Carpinteria, riding the 101 down to Ventura (yuk!), the endless flats to Channel Island Harbor, then the traverse through the bean fields to PCH, and finally the ride down to Malibu in the dusk, another 25 miles.  Whew!

the route, as seen by the iPhones "Places" view of the photos I took :)

PCH (with Mugu rock in the rearview mirror)

climbing Potrero (yikes!)

Malibu Lake

Westlake Village!

descending Grimes Canyon

lunch! - in Ojai

view from above Lake Casitas

the 101 - traffic to the left, ocean to the right

old PCH in the setting sunlight

Channel Islands Harbor - almost time for tacos

Overall a great ride, I felt good, posted a decent time (13:30 riding), and had a lot to think about...  onward!


small boats

Sunday,  06/26/11  07:59 PM

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - have so much worth doing as messing about in small boats...
- the Wind in the Willows

And so today I took out my venerable C-15 class "It's the Water", and cleaned her up, and found all the missing parts (not many), and screwed in the loose screws, and rigged her, and went for a wonderful sail upon Westlake.  And I rediscovered the adage which is completely true, namely, that God does not count time spent sailing against you.  I will be back ... soon.



Archive: June 27, 2010

posting out of time

Sunday,  06/27/10  08:45 PM

clogged pipes! the plumbing is too complicatedYeah, I know; my posts aren't syncing out again; the pipes are clogged.  Sorry!

I've been spending more and more time traveling which exacerbates the problem, and it is not fixing itself...  time to consider a different mechanism for blogging.

I currently use a great-but-dated WYSI(SO)WYG* tool called Citydesk from Fog Creek Software, wherein I compose posts and edit images and so on offline on my laptop, and then "sync out" the result to my server.  Over the years more and more of my post-processing has moved to my server for performance reasons and because it is easier to manage, to the point where I hardly use the Citydesk composing facilities anymore.

* what you see is (sort of) what you get

I've felt for some time the "right" way for me to post is simply by sending email.  I could do this from my laptop, from my phone, from here, from there, and from anywhere - no muss, no fuss.  No internet connection, no problem; the email is queued, and goes out when I'm back online.  Back in 2003 when I started blogging such a thing would have been weird and hard, but today it seems obvious and easy.  All mail clients send formatted HTML, and I could just filter it a bit, stick it in a post, and poof! we're done.  Update the home page, update the RSS feed, and the archive - all of that is done on the server already.

[ Update: I started working on this today - in between about ten other things, including working on my tan and watching the world cup and attending traffic school and working on work - and while it isn't completely trivial, it's completely doable.  The hardest part is automatically cataloging images.  Please stay tuned... ]


Sunday,  06/27/10  08:55 PM

I think I'm back to full strength after three good nights of sleep back home, and three days of relaxation and work.  Getting caught up, and spending some time thinking ahead, instead of fielding interrupts.  Oh and actually did a little coding today, and it was good...  just wish I didn't have fires burning on so many fronts.  Man there's a lot to do.  Including blogging!

Eric Raymond is right: Reports of PC's Impending Death Greatly Exaggerated.  Laptops, tablets, phones, sure there are a lot of form factors for computing these days, but really for doing actual work a large monitor with a full-size keyboard is best, right?  It has to do with human econometrics, plain and simple.

NASA's supersonic "green machine"I'm linking this just for the cool artist's conception: NASA's supersonic green machine.

Watched a little of the World Cup's knockout round this weekend.  So, I'm not a futbol aficionado, but the officiating in these matches is horrible.  That English goal called back against Germany?  Could have decided the match.  And that offsides non-call on Argentina against Mexico was just as bad.  Give us good referees or instant reply!

Tomorrow's games are likely to be interesting; Netherlands against Slovakia (go Oranje!) and Brazil against Chile.  I think the favorites will win setting up a most interesting quarterfinal rematch between the Dutch and the Brazilians.  The winner of that could easily go all the way.

Facebook has a huge network effect, which is why it is hard to imagine even Google challenging them.  Google Me is all very exciting, but it won't dent the hood.

Schrödinger's kit: Tools that are in two places at once.  This is pretty hard to wrap your head around :)

ZooBorn: baby crested screamerZooBorn / cute chick of the weekend: a baby crested screamer.  What a fuzzball :)


Archive: June 26, 2009

Bye, Smokey

Friday,  06/26/09  07:21 PM

Smokey - RIPAnd so we lost our guinea pig Smokey this afternoon.  Poor thing.  He was only a little rodent, but, well, he was our little rodent, and now I won’t be able to watch baseball with him any more.  I'm going to miss his personality: a spunky little guy, always with something to say (yeah, guinea pigs chirp and click and squeak and purr and make all kinds of little noises).  He recognized me, knew when I was going to take him out and we were going to hang out together, and was great company.  He will be missed.  A very sad day.



Archive: June 26, 2008

Thursday,  06/26/08  10:46 PM

I'm feeling kind of melancholy today...  don't know why.  Just one of those blah days, I guess.  Another gorgeous summer day, got some good work in, had a great 45 mile ride with my friend Mark (up Stunt Road, and down Piuma, whew!), no reason I should feel this way, but I do...

I'm getting ready to ride the great Grand Tour Double this Saturday.  I know every inch of these roads, some of them I ride all the time, and at one point we actually pass within a few streets of my house.  I am not intimidated.  But that's bad, because it is still 200 miles in the heat, with a couple of serious climbs, not to be taken lightly.

Grand Tour Highland Double

A question for McCain and Obama: Will they recognize Mugabe?  If they don't, will it matter?  I think it will matter if there is a financial implication.  If the people of Zimbabwe come to feel that Mugabe is standing in the way of International assistance, that would matter.  [ via Instapundit ]

the Crab NebulaHorses's Mouth has a picture of the magnificent Crab Nebula.  The scale of this is unimaginable, but imagine looking out the window of your spacecraft and seeing that!  Wow.

China Impressions, from Electric Daybook.  "One WTF moment after the other."  Yep, I've been to China, and I can Roger that...  Wonderful.

Are you smart enough not to build this website?  Hint: never ever store passwords in recoverable fashion, and email is [insecure] plaintext.  It goes on from there...

vertical-axis wind turbineEcoGeek wonders Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines, where have you been?  I agree, they would definitely seem to make sense for a variety of reasons, and they're even prettier.  But I guess they must not be sufficiently efficient, because most wind turbines are the garden-variety horizontal kind...  this is the sort of thing the market figures out really well.

The Long Tail: Where to run the One machine?  "In the new issue of Wired, Kevin Kelly has written another one of his patented mind grenades: the observation that the Internet has now hit approximate computational equivalence to a single human brain."  This doesn't seem like a deep observation to me, sorry.  The behavior of the Internet in no way resembles the behavior of an individual.  Much more like an anthill :)

Should you let Instinctiv chose your next song?  I don't know, my philosopher iPod's "random" play seems to do an amazing job of foreshadowing the future, and commenting on the present.  I wouldn't want other heuristics to interfere!

In-car WiFi is coming...  of course.  Someday soon it will be standard.  Of course with EVDO, I have Internet access everywhere already...


full text feeds (Instapundit and Powerline)

Thursday,  06/26/08  10:58 PM

I love RSS, and I love full text feeds.  (There, I said it!)

But... unfortunately as a user I have no control over whether a given site gives me a full text feed.  I can email the blogger, but that rarely helps.  Several of my favorite feeds are not full text, they contain only bitty crappy teasers, designed to get me to visit their sites to read more; including Instapundit and Power Line.  So anyway it is what it is...

No, wait!  Stop the presses!  It isn't what it is, because I am a programmer.  I do have some control over this, I can make my own feed!  (A little while ago I got frustrated that Cycling News, one of my favorite sites, didn't even have a feed; so I made one; that gave me the idea.)  All there is to a feed is an XML-formatted description of the site's home page.  I can retrieve the home page and reformat it into a valid RSS format, and poof, full-text feed!  Man triumphant against the elements...

This gave me great satisfaction.  And so, for your feed-reading pleasure, you too may use my full text feeds for Instapundit and Power Line.  Enjoy!

P.S. Armed with this knowledge, I plan to create full text feeds for more blogs, so stay tuned :)

[ Update: There's another variation of this, blogs which do have full text feeds but where the feeds don't contain HTML, just text.  Napsterization would be an example.  I'm sure most of these bloggers aren't engineers and have no idea how to fix their feeds, but they sure are annoying.  But I can create full text feeds for them, too.  Yay.  Stay tuned... ]

[ Another update: I changed the URLs for the feeds to be on instead of ]


Archive: June 27, 2007


Archive: June 27, 2006


Archive: June 25, 2005

Thanks, Bill!

Saturday,  06/25/05  09:14 PM

Man, do I have a backlog of stuff to post.  Soon to come.

In the meantime I am sick as a [small] dog, with my wife out of town at a conference, and my kids each sleeping over at friend's houses.  So here I am, all alone.  Yeah, I was coding if you must know.

15GB iPodMichael ShenkerSo my friend Bill Smith comes over, and gives me a spiffy 15GB iPod!  Filled with music.  Excellent music.  Rockin', wonderful, amazing music.  I am listening to Michael Shenker right now and it has completely changed my mood.  Steve Vai will be next.  Then Bill Sheehan. 

Best of all, my productivity has jumped.  I've been working on this new feature for Aperio's WebViewer which I'm really excited about, and suddenly the parts are fitting together.  If you can't code to Michael Shenker's Three Fish Dancing, then you can't code :)

Thanks, Bill!


Archive: June 17, 2004

(new yorker, 6/13/04)

Thursday,  06/17/04  01:07 AM



C++ method pointers

Thursday,  06/17/04  08:57 AM

Have you ever wanted to use a pointer to a class method?  This might be basic C++ but I couldn’t remember how to do it, and spent some time Googling and messing around to figure it out.  So here’s the way:

To define a pointer to a class method:

returnval (myclass::*method)(parameters…)

For example:

char *(myclass::*pmethod)(int parm);

This defines a pointer named pmethod to a method of the myclass class.  The method has a single int parameter and returns a char*.

To assign a value to the pointer:

pmethod = &myclass::method;

For example:

pmethod = &myclass::mymethod;

This sets pmethod to point to mymethod.

To call the class method:


For example:

mychar = (myobject.*pmethod)(myint);

This calls the method pointed to by pmethod.

The pointer can itself be in a struct or class as well.  For example:

struct {                      // processing table

char  *name;

char  *(myclass::*pmethod)(int parm);

} proctbl[] = {

{ “text”,  &myclass::mymethod},

{ “text2”,&myclass::anothermethod}


This defines a table of structures with two entries, each of which has a method pointer.  The function can then be called as follows:

mychar = (myobject.*proctbl[index].pmethod)(myint);

In this example, the pointer proctbl[index].pmethod identifies the method to be called.

Note that “::*” and “.*” are actually separate operators in C++.  There is also a “->*” operator.

You might never need this, but just in case you do…


Archive: June 27, 2003

My HP-25 Calculator

Friday,  06/27/03  10:20 PM

HP-25When I was 17 I bought an HP-25 calculator, billed as "the minimum computer".  (Check out this HP-25 review from Creative Computing, circa 1977.)   I remember distinctly it cost $350 in 1976 dollars.  At the time it was the single largest purchase I had ever made.  I loved that little machine, and spend hours composing programs for it.  Quite amazing what it was able to do with essentially little more than a programmable calculator's instruction set.  And of course no external store - every program had to be hand-entered each time.  Its ability to do really big floating point numbers was amazing for its day...  (Chemistry students do *lots* of floating point calculations.)  I still have it - and it still works!

If you have never used an HP-25 - and especially if you have! - please check out Larry Leinweber's fantastic Java HP-25 emulator; go to this page, and scroll down until you see the R/S button, then click on it.

Back in 1977 the big computing wars were between Hewlett-Packard and Texas Instruments.  Each side had vociferous supports, and drew derision from the other.  HP was famous for using RPN, aka Reverse Polish Notation, which is essentially stack-based math.  The TI used a more conventional algorithmic notation, including support for punctuation like parenthesis.  RPN was cool because it saved keystrokes and made programming easier, and also because it was so different; the average person couldn't even pick up an HP calculator and add two numbers together. (You enter the first number, push the ENTER key, then enter the second number, then push PLUS.  There is no EQUALS in RPN.)

I was reflecting on this little guy recently when using my Handspring Treo's calculator, which oh-by-the-way does hexadecimal arithmetic.  (In addition to being a 'phone, and an address book, and a calendar, and an email client, and a web browser.)  Amazing the progress which has been made in 25 years...  Programming the HP-25 to perform hex arithmetic was highly non-trivial, but I did it; in those days most programming was done in assembler, and 16-bit machines used hex.  Just to completely date myself; I *still* know most of the ASCII to EBCDIC conversion table by heart. 

(Later I got an HP-16 which was the ultimate godsend for hex assembler programmers; yeah, I still have it, and yeah, it still works, too.)

If you look around, you'd have to conclude that the pace of technological progress is not slacking; to the contrary, new stuff is popping up all over the place.  So if this is the progress made in the last 25 years, what will the next 25 years bring?  Hard to imagine any qualitative improvement over a Treo, but probably in five years we'll read this page and laugh!


this date in:
About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
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
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
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
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
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?
still the first bird
electoral fail
progress ratches
2020 explained