Critical Section

Archive: December 18, 2018

 

Archive: December 18, 2017

 

Archive: December 18, 2016

 

Archive: December 18, 2015

 

Archive: December 18, 2014

Thursday,  12/18/14  09:31 PM

Another solid day of coding ... and so the Ole filter makes a pass ...

Marissa Mayer: can she save Yahoo!John Gruber comments on an interesting article about Marissa Mayer, an excerpt from a book to be called Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!.  "In many ways, Yahoo’s decline from a $128 billion company to one worth virtually nothing is entirely natural. Yahoo grew into a colossus by solving a problem that no longer exists."  No company can stay in one business forever, but successful companies leverage each success into the resources needed for the next one.  I can remember when Yahoo! was amazing, the Google of its day.

By the way the headline is terrible; there's nothing to suggest Marissa Mayer tried to be Steve Jobs.

Phil Greenspun wonders Why is it hard for Yahoo! to make more money?  "Is it really the case that the superheroes at Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Uber have used up all the oxygen?  It feels to me as though there is a lot of low-hanging fruit for a company with Yahoo's resources."  Same.

One more thought about Yahoo!: they certainly have a lot of talent.  They've acquired tens of great startups over the years, with hundreds of innovative entrepreneurs and engineers.  There must be a cultural flaw that keeps these people from being productive inside Yahoo!.

Scott Johnson considers Sportsmanship's Luck.  "Based on the evidence Clark presents, I'm going out on a limb to solve this mystery. I’m guessing that that's not trash talk. The concept represented by Luck's conduct has fallen so far out of favor that no one even offers it up. I believe it's called sportsmanship."  Go Colts!

Hehe: Ayn Rand reviews kids movies.  "Mary Poppins:  A woman takes a job with a wealthy family without asking for money in exchange for her services. An absurd premise. Later, her employer leaves a lucrative career in banking in order to play a children's game. -No stars."  I love it.

the IceBarYay!  Inhabitat reports The IceBar is back.  Check out those pictures ... how cool is that?  :)

 
 

Archive: December 18, 2013

mixed message

Wednesday,  12/18/13  10:06 PM

 

hehe, excellent
the worst thing about this is the answer isn't the same for everyone

 

 

Wednesday,  12/18/13  10:16 PM

santa on a bikeSpent much of today on my bike, yay!  Have to work off those cookies somehow...

Scott "Dilbert" Adams: eliminating government in a hundred years.  By replacing it with technology...  hmmm.  No.

Fly over Titan: Kraken MareFly over Titan's methane lakes in NASA's video.  "Dreaming of an exotic vacation destination?  How about relaxing on the shores of Kraken Mare, a hydrocarbon sea on Titan?"  (Yes, I was, actually :)  Awesome!

How to analyze 100 million images for $624.  "Jetpac is building a modern version of Yelp, using big data rather than user reviews.  People are taking more than a billion photos every single day, and many of these are shared publicly on social networks.  We analyze these pictures to discover what they can tell us about bars, restaurants, hotels, and other venues around the world."  (Hint: the answer is Amazon.)  Sounds like they could use eyesFinder, too.

modular housingModular housing?  Why not?  World's tallest modular tower gets first mods hoisted into place.  Maybe someday we'll fly our modular iHomes from one place to another ... like from Earth to Titan :)


Herding Reindeer in Lapland.  Wow.  (click thumbnail to enlarge)

Progress: World's first 3D-printed retinal cells could help cure blindness.  I'm printing Christmas ornaments and they're printing retinas.  Well, they're both important.


maritime museum in NorwayA most excellent design for a maritime museum in Norway.  Love the way it doesn't look anything like the surrounding buildings but it fits anyway.

the Foodini 3D food printerThe Foodini 3D food printer.  OMG.  Just when you think you've seen it all, you realize 'it all' is so much more than you thought.

 
 

Archive: December 18, 2012

 

Archive: December 18, 2011

 

Archive: December 18, 2010

 

Archive: December 18, 2009

Friday,  12/18/09  07:41 AM

Breakfast blogging!  Two cups of coffee down, so it should be okay...

Baobab trees in MadagascarHere we have The 10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World.  Amazingly, I have seen several of these myself, including the Bristlecone Pines just this summer.  I do need to see those Baobab trees though, how Suess-ian; they're definitely on the list...

the most dangerous road in GermanyThe most dangerous road in Germany.  Watch out for flying boats!  Hint: It's not even a real road, it just plays one on TV (and in the movies...)

Change Blindness.  Whoa.  This reminds me of that basketball-passing video, where the guy in the gorilla suit wanders through and you're so busy counting passes, you don't notice.  So much for believing your own eyes, eh?

Speaking of which, Climategate is reversing the burden of proof.  "Now the default position is slowly mutating into: It's all made-up nonsense."  I was never a hard-core global warming worrier, but I must admit I am now questioning where there's a there there.  The lack of science is disturbing...

Eric Raymond says it's crazy in Copenhagen.  I love it that a blizzard has settled in for the week :)  And be sure to view Lord Monckton's smackdown, classic for his devastating logic as well as dry British humor.  Oh, and for more fun, there's record snow in Alaska.  Proving that individual data points prove nothing.

Powerline weight in on adjusting the data:  "It is important to understand that none of the charts and graphs that purport to depict the Earth's climate ever show you raw data. None."

I follow a blogger named Bruce Friedman for business, and sometimes link his posts from my company blog, but he recently veered slightly off topic (for him) to make some insightful remarks about Google's Nexus One phone.  "There is no way to look at this announcement but as a profound game-changer for the cell phone market...  Google views mobile phones as PCs that have cell phone functionality as one of many features...  Wireless carriers, in contrast, view mobile phones primarily as telephones that can also surf the web."  I think that's right.  More business models will be good.

Apropos: I'm posting this from my laptop in a diner, using my Sprint cellular modem.  I love the instant-on-ness; for me WiFi is a thing of the past when I'm out and about.  I could make a call with Skype right now.

Hubble Butterfly NebulaAnother top ten: Astronomy pictures in 2009.  I can view any amount of pictures of space, can't you?  My favorite in this group is the picture of the Butterfly Nebula, shown at left, taken from the Hubble after it was upgraded this summer.  Whoa.

In 2010, the new space industry finally takes off.  Excellent.

Ted Dziuba: How I spot valuable engineers.  "When I interview a candidate, I'm trying to determine how valuable the candidate is, not just how smart he or she is."  Huh.  I usually just go for smart, if there's enough horsepower it will overcome anything.  Including especially lack of experience...

Roy Disney, RIPThe Horse's Mouth says Aloha, Roy.  Roy Disney was one of the true greats in ocean sailing; his movie Morning Light was one of the best movies I saw this year, and not just because of the sailing.  He will be missed...

Onward, into the day...  Happy Friday!

 

Avatar!

Friday,  12/18/09  01:17 PM

Avatar screening!I have the BEST friends:

From: Franklin
To: Ole
Subject: Avatar Screening

 

Ahoy Ole!

 

Would you like to join me for a 3-D screening of Avatar at FOX in Century City on Monday, December 21st at 7:00 PM.  We'd need to get there early to guarantee seating.  I believe it is being shown in the same theater the audio was mixed in.

 

franklin

From: Ole
To: Franklin
Subject: RE: Avatar Screening

 

YES

How awesome.  Thank you and count me in…

How cool is that?  Stay tuned for a full report :)

 

 
 

Archive: December 18, 2008

more Kindling: the coolness of *now*

Thursday,  12/18/08  08:07 PM

the KindleSo, I have an interesting new perspective on the coolness of Kindle: it let's you read stuff *now*.  As before, directly relates to the coolness of iPod.  (And stay tuned for an observation about the coolness of AppleTV :)

The other day I noted Josh Newman's Beginner's mind, about sucking and sucking and sucking until you get it right, and sent him an email about it, to which he replied:

Also, quasi-relatedly, I've been reading Mastering the Rockefeller Habits of late, and have enjoyed it immensely thus far; there don't seem to be many books with good, concrete advice for established yet fast-growing companies, and this seems to be one of the best I've found.  Worth checking out, I think...

Okay, so Josh says Mastering the Rockefeller Habits is worth checking out, so I check it out.  And I'm just about to one-click this book (yes of course "one-click" is a verb), and then I notice Amazon has a Kindle edition.  Whoa.  Game changer, instead of getting this book in a couple of days with one click, I can have it *now*.

{ BTW free tip for Chris Anderson and/or Malcom Gladwell, your next book should be *Now* }

Just like FREE is nonlinearly attractive compared to any nonzero price, NOW is qualitatively better than any nonzero delay.  So I click to buy the Kindle Edition of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.  What will happen?  This:

Kindle purchase dialog

Cool!  It already knows about my Kindle, and I just click Continue, and the book is all teed up to be transmitted to my Kindle.  So I run upstairs and wake up my Kindle, and it gives me a message that "my new purchases are being downloaded", shortly followed by a message that "my new purchases are ready to read"!  And I get this:

Kindle: Mastering the Rockefeller Habits

And just like that, I'm reading the book.  Took about two minutes.  How cool is that?

 

 

the Law of Significance

Thursday,  12/18/08  08:33 PM

Chris Anderson is one of my favorite writers and bloggers, but he occasionally falls prey to The Law of Significance.  (You can tell something is Really Important because people write about it with Capital Letters.  Dum dum dum.)  Chris has unearthed some amazing insights in his time; the Long Tail is one of the truly interesting new ideas in business spawned by the Internet era.  But once you've found a few key insights like that you begin thinking of yourself as a Thinker (note capitals), and it inspires you to promote everyday observations to the status of Laws.  You could imagine Chris might drop a piece of toast, find that it landed face down on the floor, and discover the Law of Toast.  I call this phenomenon the Law of Significance (note capitals and boldface).

The latest example is Chris' Law of Transparency: you can't be open in all things all of the time.  So I don't even know if that's true, but if it is I don't think it rises to the standard of a Law, it is more like a reflection.  It works better if you make lots of observations about lots of things and let other people anoint some of them as Laws than if you keep trying too hard to be Significant.  (For one thing, you won't be the target of critical blog posts :)

Chris is working on a new book called Free, about business models where you give stuff away for free, and while that is no doubt all very interesting (and I'm sure his book will sell) I don't think it is all that fundamental.  He reminds me a lot of Malcom Gladwell, another Thinker who is under the spell of the Law of Significance; once Gladwell had written Tipping Point (pretty fundamental point), he came out with Blink (somewhat fundamental) and then Outliers (not fundamental at all).  I like Gladwell and enjoy his articles in the New Yorker a lot, and like his blog.  But not everything he observes is a Law.

Let's see how Chris decides to distribute Free, do you suppose he'll give it away?

{
This post began with an email exchange I had with a friend; he noted:

Years ago Esther Dyson restated Stewart Brand's theory that "information wants to be free" in an article she wrote about the Internet.

In her $500/yr newsletter.

}

[Update: He *did* decide to give it away... good dogfooding! ]

 

programmers vs hardware

Thursday,  12/18/08  08:41 PM

Jeff Atwood writes Hardware is Cheap, Programmers are Expensive.  "Given the rapid advance of Moore's Law, when does it make sense to throw hardware at a programming problem? As a general rule, I'd say almost always."  Yeah, but... 

Here's the comment I posted:

Jeff, your comment is written from the point of view of a user.  If you're creating an application for your own company, sure, hardware is much less expensive than programmers.

This situation is different from the point of view of a vendor.  If you're creating an application which thousands of customers are going to use, *your* programmers are much less expensive than *their* hardware.  You really don't want to make customers pay more for your application because it requires more hardware.  (Vista is an extreme example, as an OS, but this is doubly true for vertical applications.)

For example my company Aperio makes digital pathology systems.  These manage lots of really big images.  If we didn't have efficient code our customers would have to buy more hardware - CPUs, disk, bandwidth, etc - and it would make our applications more expensive.  We'd be less competitive and deliver less value.  So for us spending programmer resources to reduce application hardware resources is the right trade-off.

BTW this discussion bears on the choice of language, too.  If you're creating applications for yourself, sure, go ahead and use C#.  If you're creating performance critical applications to sell to others, C++ might make more sense.

This is apparently a hard thing to wrap your mind around...  Microsoft struggled with this same thing in the early days of Vista, rewriting large parts of the OS in C# only to discover that "managed" code was too slow, and the whole world wasn't going to buy next generation PCs all at once.  Even after large amounts of the rewritten code were rewritten again, Vista still ended up being slow and piggy, and adoption has been sluggish.  Don't hold your breath waiting for Office or SQLServer to be written in .NET, or Photoshop, or Quicken...  or any decent game you might name.

This recalls an earlier post Jeff made in August 2005: Despite the incredible slowness and sparseness of features, this is really cool, in which we debated the relative merits of Java (nice for in-house use) and C++ (nicer for "mainstream" apps).  Here we are three years later and not much has changed.  Same as it ever was...

 

 

Thursday,  12/18/08  08:50 PM

Really cold today, this morning it was "frost on the lawn overnight cold", and today it was "wind blowing right through you" cold.  I did a ride, a pretty fast ride, actually, but it was pretty uncomfortable, too.  Brrr.  And meanwhile I didn't get much done today; unlike yesterday where it felt lots of cool important stuff happened, today went by, ho hum, and here I am.  So be it.

Today was also the one-week anniversary of my wipeout.  A week filled with pain, discomfort, and Motrin, not to mention plastic bags and duct tape.  I'm ready to be able to shower and sleep normally again, okay?

Dakim Brain Fitness gamePublic service announcement: Dakim Brain Fitness is a cool company.  If you know someone who is suffering from Alzheimer's or dementia, you will find this interesting.  The basic idea is that you exercise your brain to keep it fit.  And they have tools to help you exercise, in fact you can play with some of them online on their website.  I like the way their website is setup, it is very non-threatening and accessible, with big text and simple embedded videos.  Kind of like designed for an older person who isn't that familiar with computers or the web.  Very cool!

Disclosure: one of Dakim's investors is Galen Associates, who are also an investor in Aperio, that's how I found out about them.  But I have no direct interest except rooting for them to make a difference :)

Herb London in Powerline: I lost my country.  "Where is my America, the place of fair play, individual rights, the rule of law and respect for private property?  Was the past merely a dream from which I have awakened?  Can that America of exceptionalism return?  Can it find its way back into the public consciousness?  I have my doubts.  Now the change agents scream 'everything will be different.'  Alas, they are right.  It appears as if everything will be different, most especially the end of an America I loved."  Wow, that's a pretty pessimistic take.  I'm not happy that Obama won, but America will survive.

crazy bike path!This has to be the weirdest bike path of all time.  Wow (click to enbiggen).  The bike handling skills implied are impressive :)

Mike Arrington kicks the La La flywheel; he likes them, just like I do.  In case you don't know, they're an online music store where you can listen to stuff before buying, and when you buy you can store it on their site (for $.10) or download it to your computer (for $.89).  They have a decent selection and a decent user interface.  And yet... and yet... after using it for a while and continuing to like it, I find myself gravitating back to iTunes.  Not sure why.  Maybe it's selection; my iTunes has 20MB of music I really like, and 0MB of music I don't.  But I sure won't find new music in iTunes :)

Dutch fans!The 2009 Vuelta will start in Holland!  Wow, check a map; Holland is not next to Spain...  in fact the first three stages will be in Holland, and the fourth will start there and end in Belgium.  Then a transfer day moves the race to Spain.  Pretty cool, I predict many Rabobank fans wearing orange :)

Cycling News previews the Tour of California which takes place in February; pretty soon many of the pro teams are going to come out here for early season training, riding in the very hills I ride every day.  Nothing is cooler than being passed by a small peloton of pros roaring up one of your daily rides :)

From the Onion: Area woman becomes Republican vice-presidential candidate.  "The mother of five, who enjoys attending church potluck dinners with husband Todd, an unemployed commercial fisherman, reportedly 'jumped at the chance' to become the second most powerful person in the country."  [ via Jason Kottke, who notes "Sometimes the funniest fake news is disturbingly real"; for him Sarah Palin herself was disturbing, but for me it's the close correlation between Onion stories and truth... ]

space shuttle taking offCheck out The Boston Globe's pictures of 2008.  Excellent!

ZooBorn: baby koalaZooBorn of the Day: a little Koala Bear.  Now that's cute...

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Archive: December 18, 2007

 

Archive: December 18, 2006

 

Archive: December 18, 2005

 

Archive: December 18, 2004

 

Archive: December 18, 2003

Thursday,  12/18/03  11:55 PM

Governor Schwarzenegger declares fiscal emergency, and invoked emergency powers so he could impose $150 million in spending cuts without the legislature's approval.  "I was elected by the people of this state to lead. Since the legislative leadership refuses to act, I will act without them."  So be it.  There are no easy answers when you're draining a swamp.

Robert Scheer absolutely defines the left edge of the spectrum.  His take on Saddam's capture: "Bush and his allies are celebrating the capture of Saddam Hussein, but they may come to regret it."  My take: we are all celebrating his capture, and it seems inconcievable that we will ever regret it.  Go ahead and read the article just so you get a flavor for how differently people view the same thing.

Janet Daley predicts the reaction to future success...

And Tim Blair notes "Saddam’s only been in custody a few days, and already the French and Germans have become oddly compliant".  Yep, the trial should be interesting...

Roger Simon reports on his trip to Paris.  This is really sad.  I've been to Paris three times, and loved it.  But it really does seem to be in decline now...

No, I haven't seen Return of the King yet, and yes, I really really want to.  Have you seen it?  From the reviews and buzz it seems like it might be the movie of the year, or maybe the century (so far :)

Are you ready for some science?  Well then, how about a cable channel devoted to 100% science programming.  Including C-SPAN style live coverage of conferences.  Cool!

whatacrappypresent.comwhatacrappypresent.com is a site for teens who receive music CDs for Christmas.  "I got that on the computer, like, two months ago."  No, I am not making this up.  And I'm giving iTunes gift certificates :)

Ottmar Liebert wonders "Wouldn't it be nice if we could buy a bag with 100 mini radio tags for a couple of bucks?  We would stick them on everything we usually can't find...the coffee mug, a book or magazine, maybe even the pet mouse or whatever..."  Yes, it would be nice.  Stay tuned, Ottmar, it's comin'!

AlwaysOn notes: A bank robber has lost his bid to overturn his conviction by arguing the stupidity of the crime proved he was too drunk to be responsible.  The stupidity of this defense almost convinces me he really is that stupid!

paper Yamaha motorcycleThis is so cool - a paper Yamaha motorcycle!  Just go to the site, print out the PDF files, cut them out [carefully], assemble them [carefully], and poof, you have a Yamaha!  Very cool.  Makes me wish I had free time.

<rant subject="metadata" opinion="dislike" stance="philisophical">
Tom Coates savages metadata, piling on after Jason Kottke's metadata overfizzle.  "Nothing takes the fun and personality out of writing like metadata."  Yeah.  Imagine if I had to bracket every block post with attributes.  That would suck.
</rant>

Acidman engages in bible study...

QuickCam OrbitThis looks really cool - Tom's Hardware reviews the QuickCam Orbit, a new videoconferencing camera that keeps your face centered.

Om Malik reports Vonage is going wireless!  So - let's see now - my Treo 600 is basically just a computer on an IP network, so I can make VoIP calls on it via Vonage.  Oooh, I bet Sprint will love that =O

"now hiring" - EA CanadaYou might be a geek if you understand this billboard.  Actually you would definitely be a geek.  And you might want to check out Electronic Arts Canada :)

Jim Fawcette on "the forgotten 3 million".  That's VB programmers, and they probably wouldn't understand the billboard, either.  [ via Robert Scoble ]

 
 

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