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from Vacaville

Friday,  09/23/11  10:29 AM

Blogging from Vacaville, CA, where I find myself to ride in the Knoxville Double Century tomorrow, after a nice dinner at The Mustard Grill in Davis (I *love* Davis, BTW, what a great little college town).  Anyway.

So last week was my first week back, and this week was my first "real" week back, with projects and assignments and deadlines and deliverables, and interactions with colleagues and partners and customers.  It was weird to be back, and great.  I suspect the weirdness will wear off and I hope the greatness doesn't :)

I have lots to blog about, and while I have to sleep I'm not sleepy, so here goes...

How excellent is this?  Public solves protein structure.  "Players of an online game that allows users to adjust how proteins are folded have solved a decade-long protein structure mystery."  Turn anything into a game and you can harness a lot of human energy; remember SETI@home?  Wow. 

Good advice: avoid boolean "traps" in an API.  Don't you love it when you're reading code and see: doSomething(false); and you're like, is this going to do it or not?  Much better to use an enum so you have doSomething(faster); 

An interesting take on the perils of automated memory management, from my colleague Ed.  "The moral here is; you can't just assume that resource use is not an issue you will have to tackle in a managed application."  Amen.  I'm glad to see the younger generation (*cough*) doesn't necessarily buy into the whole managed code story.  I look forward to great things from Ed, not only is he an excellent engineer, he's off to a great start as a blogger :) 

Reading this prompted me to head back into my Archive to find: managed memory leaks, a most excellent foaming rant from three years ago.

I can confirm Ready Player One is a fantastic book.  I'm reading it now - on my iPhone using the Kindle App - and can hardly put it down.  I'm not even an 80's video game fanatic, but I love all the references anyway.  Check it out! 

BTW this is a great book to read on an iPhone with the Kindle App, because I could readily Wikipedia any obscure references I didn't know.  Added a lot of texture to be able to see all the mech warrior robots, for example :)

Some people look at something like webvi and ask why?, I look at it and say awesome! 

Back in the day when I did lots of *ix programming (AIX if you must know) I used vi a lot, and I came to dislike it a lot, and I actually wrote my own editor called ice, full-screen on dumb terminals.  I don't use ice anymore, but somehow I still find myself using vi ... to edit ksh scripts :)  If you are reading this, there's a script somewhere which still works because of it.

I'm loving IOS 5 but hating a bug which causes me to "lose" pictures I take directly after double-clicking the iPhone's home button.  Don't know whether I can trust it - such as when doing a long ride.  Blech.  Tried this advice to fix iPhone Camera Roll corruption but didn't help entirely.  Tried reloading the whole thing; stay tuned to see if that helped.  If you have any suggestions I'm open to them (TIA). 

BTW, do you recognize TIA?  It's a TLA I use often...

Way cool!  IBM's Watson to offer medical advice to doctors.  "IBM has inked a deal with health insurer WellPoint that will let the latter use the technology behind "Jeopardy"-playing computer Watson to suggest patient diagnoses and treatments.  WellPoint hopes the technology will help improve the quality of patient care and help reduce costs."  Even more useful than playing chess or jeopardy! 

Remember how 3D was going to take over the world?  What happened?  Here are four theories.  Personally I think the technology is amazing, but you *still* need a good story.  Paging Pixar :) 

Joel Spolsky answers the tough questions: Should you launch at a conference?  (his answer: yes

Did you see Netflix' interesting news?  They're splitting off their historical DVD rental business into a separate company called Qwixster, and concentrating on the online video rental business.  Seems like a great move, albeit communicated a bit ineffectively.  MG Siegler's thinks this is a lesson for Microsoft.  Huh. 

So Windows 8 has been announced - I actually have it running in a VM right now (!) - and Axel Raushmayer reviews the keynote at which it was announced, so you don't have to.  A great overview.  I'm struck by the dual nature of the OS; it feels like Windows 7 with the "Metro" UI glued on the front.  And Metro Apps look and feel nothing whatever like Windows Apps.  I get what they're trying to do, but I wonder if it makes sense.  Maybe having a 100% Metro OS (only) for mobile devices would be better... 

In case you're wondering, no, I don't like the new Facebook changes. What was wrong with displaying my friends' updates in chronological order? That made so much sense. Now I have to pick around more to make sure I didn't miss anything. I get that there are people with 1,000 "friends" who each post 100 status updates every hour, and who need this kind of filtering, but I'm not one of them.  Blech. 

Wow this could be big: Google Wallet, confirmed.  Everyone wants to use their phone as a credit card, but this isn't as groundbreaking as you might think; notice the Mastercard logo, because this payment system still uses the same infrastructure as credit cards.  Will be most interesting to see how much traction this gets among merchants

Funniest analogies: "Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

And finally this:  "An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one tells the bartender he wants a beer. The second one says he wants half a beer. The third one says he wants a fourth of a beer. The bartender puts two beers on the bar and says 'You guys need to learn your limits'.