- tecosystems » Sunset: The Oracle Acquisition Q&A - Good analysis as usual from Stephen. Nothing here I'd argue with.
- Dartblog: "Outsourcing: Turn the Inn Around" - Note that this is the same college that also still uses its own highly manual payroll system.
- http://www.thevirtualcircle.com/2010/01/sun-microsystems-oracles-swiss-army-knife-of-vengeance/ - A few things in here make be go huh???? but worth reading.
- The Apple iPad: It's just ahead of its time | Molly Rants - CNET News - I mostly agree with Molly. I still tend to think of this class of device as a tweener but it's also reasonable to think instead of a smartphone, tablet, and laptop as being 3 different types of devices.
- Inbox Zero is Overrated - I generally agree with all this. While many of us need to stay reasonably on top of email, we need to be aware of the cost of context switches and turn things off as appropriate.
Friday, January 29, 2010
I wasn’t going to write anything about the iPad. I spent the afternoon of the launch watching a 5 hour Webcast about the Oracle acquisition of Sun closing. And then I needed to file a piece with CNET. So, while I more or less followed the iPad details via twitter, I had neither the time nor especially the interest to do a serious write-up with so much other punditry already out there.
But I’ve been getting the usual stream of questions from friends and family so I’m going to put down a few thoughts to avoid answering the same thing over and over again. Take these in the vein of observations and preliminary assessments based on how I would probably want to use such a device. I have no interest in whether you buy one or not. As IBM’s Bob Sutor pus it: “No one is forcing anyone to get an iPad. If you don't want or need one, don't get one. Pretty simple, no?”
Price. This may have been the biggest upside surprise of the announcement—both the purchase price and the price for no-contract 3G networking: “Starting at $499.” That said, the sweet spot is probably the 32GB model with 3G at that’s $729 (or add another $100) for 64GB. Now add $29/month for unlimited data 3G networking and we’re up up a 2 year cost-of-ownership of over $1,400.
Screen. It’s LCD and to reiterate what I wrote recently: “Current LCD technology may serve for some first-generation devices but it draws too much power and you can’t read it easily in sunlight. E-paper on the other hand is currently black-and-white and is only suited for images (such as text pages) that aren’t changing quickly. This limitations lead to rather silly devices like this. There is lots of interesting work going on by companies such as Pixel Qi and Qualcomm (mirasol)—expect to see interesting demos at CES—but actual product is in the future.” An LCD display isn’t bad per se, but I think we need to get beyond them for a truly compelling device in this form factor. Apple is essentially beholden to the technology that’s available and it’s no easy problem for a multi-use device. The needs of games and video are much different from the needs of books.
Touch screen. As just about everyone expected, the iPad uses a capacitive multi-touch display. In other words, you use your fingers. This is what just about everyone expected; it’s basically a big iPhone or iPod Touch. That’s fine but it means that you can’t write on the screen with a stylus as you do with a resistive touch screen. Now, with this size of screen, applications that let you write with your finger may be practical for serious note taking. I’d have to try it and see. Dan Bricklin (yes, that Dan Bricklin) has a nifty app in this vein for the iPhone.
No camera. A no op as far as I’m concerned. Everyone has (a mediocre) one in their phone already. And how many people really use video chat—leaving aside the ergonomic issues associated with using one for that purpose in a tablet?
Locked down operating system with app store. I don’t have a particular issue with this so long as the apps I need are available. The lack of Flash in a browser is a serious limitation today; you have to have a high-fidelity browser experience in a device basically designed for browsing. So is the lack of multitasking which doesn’t bother me much in my iPhone but seems more problematic in a bigger device. I expect the more serious limitations to get resolved over time. Ultimately if you want a general purpose operating system, this won’t be the choice for you.
Real-world battery life. TBD. I suspect it won’t be as good as I would like; no portable gadget with an LCD screen has good enough battery life.
For the record, I’m a big believer in this category of device. But some of the technology isn’t really there yet. And there are certainly other gadgets, such as a micro 4/3 camera system, in the $1400 price range I would like but haven’t been able to justify the cost. Furthermore, as Tim Bray has noted, this isn’t really something that people can use to create content. Yet much of my day is spent writing and other such tasks, so I’m not sure in how many circumstances I could dump my laptop and take one of these with me instead.
Different people have different needs and will make different tradeoffs. If you routinely carry a laptop that you use mostly for browsing, reading, lightweight social media, and so forth this could be very attractive even in its current form.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I recently broke down and bought a KitchenAid immersion blender. This is great for making pureed soups because it avoids transferring multiple batches of hot soup to a food processor or blender which basically messes up lots of pots, bowls, and blending devices.
Here's the first recipe I made with it.
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
3 TBS unsalted butter
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup light cream or half-and-half
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp salt
Purée cauliflower mixture with immersion blender and return to a simmer. (Alternatively, transfer to a blender or food processor in two batches.) Add cheese, cream, pepper, and salt and cook over low heat, whisking, until cheese is melted and soup is smooth, about 1 minute.
Lower fat milk and cream can be used as desired.
- New DivaBlog: Assimilation begins...Oracle Censors Blogs.Sun.Com - "As part of this next phase of assimilation...Oracle recently made available the new rules for blogging. If you work for Snoracle starting now, you must obtain your manager's permission before each public posting that relates to work. In theory that means before every tweet. "
- Animated stereoviews of old Japan ::: Pink Tentacle - Recreating stereoviews with animated GIFs.
- 441 – Sense of POPOS: Secret Spaces of San Francisco « Strange Maps
- For The Love Of Culture | The New Republic - I sometimes disagree with certain aspecys of "free culture" but this is a long and thoughtful piece by Lessig and is worth a read, via @stshank
- McNealy's bittersweet memo bids good-bye to Sun | Deep Tech - CNET News
- 3D TV | Cracked.com - "But of course, we realize that we're kind of missing the point here. Manufacturers know there is one ready-made market for this device: technology early adopters." The thing is that this is actually a fairly straightforward assessment of how things stand.
"This is a group of people for whom the main benefit of their technology purchases is the act of purchasing itself. They enjoy shopping for and researching the latest technology, possibly as an artifact of the hunting instinct that thousands of years ago gave them a sense of satisfaction from slaying a woolly mammoth. The early adopters love the rush of waiting for the new toy to hit shelves, they love the smell of new plastic, the sight of styrofoam blocks and black cables bundled together with twisty ties."
- Bubble Wrap celebrating its 50th birthday - U.S. business- msnbc.com - "Mostly, they like the sound it makes when they destroy it, piece by piece, which largely explains the appeal of Bubble Wrap, the stress reducer disguised as package cushioning that maintains an inexplicable hold on pop culture... Like many innovations, Bubble Wrap initially was conceived for an entirely different purpose. According to Aurichio, a New York City designer approached inventors Marc Chavannes and Al Fielding in the late 1950s with a proposal for creating textured wallpaper."
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
- A Year of Global Shipping Routes Mapped by GPS | Wired Science | Wired.com
- The making of the NYT’s Netflix graphic – The Society for News Design - Some background on how this graphic was made. via Hacking Netflix.
- 7 Sins of Online Video Instructional Design
- The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs : An anxious world awaits - Great photo for this post. "Yes, it will transform the media business, and by “transform” I mean it will put me in charge of it, the way the iPod put me in charge of the music industry. Yes, it will destroy cable TV and utterly transform the 60-year-old television industry, and again, by “transform,” I mean I’ll be in charge, because I’ll be the guy from whom you buy your shows — I’ll be the guy with whom the consumer forms a relationship. I’ll be the guy who has your credit card on file. So the cable carriers are dead."
- Cool Tools: Fifty Dangerous Things
- A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking - This is fascinating.
- Christopher Blizzard · HTML5 video and H.264 – what history tells us and why we’re standing with the web - The case against H.264.
Monday, January 25, 2010
- Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: The Times's delayed, leaky paywall - "The Times subscription plan may fail. It may be built on a misreading of the marketplace. But it's not super weird, and it's not cockeyed. It's a reasonable, thoughtful plan, and the company may discover that a delayed, leaky paywall is the kind of paywall that pays." I agree. At least some of the criticism coming from the digerati comes from projecting themselves onto the population as a whole.
- Welcome to Detonation Films! - Effects stock footage.
- Annals of Medicine: The Checklist : The New Yorker
- Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Everybody's appy nowadays - This sums things up pretty nicely although I'm less convinced there will be a clearcut winner or loser.
- Animator_vs__Animation_by_alanbecker.swf (application/x-shockwave-flash Object) - This is good.
Friday, January 22, 2010
- The Truth About Robotic's Uncanny Valley - Human-Like Robots and the Uncanny Valley - Popular Mechanics - Questioning the "uncanny valley."
- Posthumous Hosting and Digital Culture – Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report - I agree this is a serious issue via @timbray
- Cookbook/Matplotlib/Maps - - Basemap toolkit for plotting data on map projections.
- OkTrends - Lots of fascinating sociological data here.
- Identifont - Identify fonts by appearance, find fonts by name - Includes designer, copyright, etc.
- The History of Development of Norton Commander - I used Norton Utilities way, way back. (Although I actually had my own product that competed against the file manager. To my tastes, NC & XTree were a bit big.)
- Could A Cloud Computing Exchange Work? « Data Center Knowledge - It didn't work in the P2P days. Not clear to me why things would be different now.
- Study: SaaS Pricing Is Still Opaque And Freemium Is Rare - ReadWriteEnterprise - Nice survey of SaaS pricing plans.
- If Hollywood Decided to Give Everything a Gritty Reboot | Cracked.com - Some of these are pretty good.
- Althouse: "Why would you hand the keys to the car back to the same guys whose policies drove the economy into the ditch and then walked away from the scene of the accident?" - I am going to hell but this is funny.
- Dialing in a Plan: The Times Installs a Meter on Its Future - Media Decoder Blog - NYTimes.com - "It is not the job of The New York Times or any other mainstream media company to give away its content until it can no longer afford to do so."
- The Watcher: The 'Lost' lowdown: Part 1 of a long interview with Cuse and Lindelof (no spoilers) - Good long interview with the Lost executive producers. "There are sort of fundamental elements of mystery and magic to the show that are unexplainable, and any attempt to explain them would actually harm the show, and in our opinion, the legacy of the show. So we’re trying to find the right blend of answering questions, but also leaving the things that should be mysterious mysterious."
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
- Boston's Logan Airport Retains Free Wi-Fi - Wi-Fi Networking News - Massport will be keeping free WiFi in Boston--a nice turnaround from years past.
- Dartblog: "More on Administrative Computing" - It's always hard to migrate systems but doing payroll in-house in this day and age?
- Live Massachusetts Election Results - NYTimes.com - Would be fascinating to mash this up with recent Netflix film data. The "size of lead" map is especially interesting. The north and south of Boston big Brown bubbles map well to certain Netflix movies.
- Crayola Creativity Central™ - Some fascinating, um, color background here.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
- Technobabble 2.0 - Top analyst tweeters (via TweetLevel)
- The Great Newline Schism - Fun background on newlines. (Unlike Jeff, I did use typewriters--manual ones even--in college.)
- Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Information wants to be free my ass - "It's a strange world we live in. We begrudge the folks who actually create the stuff we enjoy reading, listening to, and watching a few pennies for their labor, and yet at the very same time we casually throw hundreds of hard-earned bucks at the saps who run the stupid networks through which the stuff is delivered. We screw the struggling artist, and pay the suit."
- LCA: How to destroy your community [LWN.net] - I think this unfairly pillories Sun specifically. But worth a read.
- Technology News: Tech Buzz: The Bane of Technology Analysts Is ... Technology? - Good piece.
Friday, January 15, 2010
- Why do people decide NOT to use VDI today? - Brian Madden - BrianMadden.com - This seems on target. The "Why people use VDI" piece is also worth reading.
- Clearwire may consider 4G alternatives to WiMax | Signal Strength - CNET News - "In an interview with CNET after the 2010 CES trade show in Las Vegas where Clearwire was showing off its new network, Mike Sievert, chief commercial officer for Clearwire, said his company doesn't want to be identified solely as a WiMax carrier. Instead, he said people should think of Clearwire as a mobile broadband company that is open to different types of technology. This is a big change for a company that has been held up as the poster child for WiMax."
- Unity Technologies Blog » Blog Archive » 2010 Trends - Good post about trends in gaming from Unity's CEO. Nothing I disagree with here.
- Conanundrum: Shaming the Shameless - Tuned In - TIME.com - "What complicates this controversy—that is, makes it more awesome—is that NBC has managed to get itself into a public dispute involving two comedians who have nightly shows on its own air. Last night, Conan O'Brien's monologue got, if anything, more pointed, with O'Brien taking a direct shot at Leno: "I just want to say to the kids out there watching: You can do anything you want in life. Unless Jay Leno wants to do it too.""
- 10 Virtualization Vendors to Watch in 2010 - Nice rundown of some of the smaller virtualization vendors. (I talked with Kevin for this story.)
- The Five Underrated Sci-Fi Movie Masterpieces - Techland - TIME.com - I won't really argue about any of these--although Silent Running is pretty dated.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
- How to Correctly Use Creative Commons Works | PlagiarismToday - The complexity of the CC chinese menu approach is an ongoing peeve of mine. This explanation of CC pretty much sums up the problem: "When looking at the main 6 Creative Commons licenses (Note: I’m not delving into the lesser-known ones such as CC0 and the GNU/BSD ones.) There are five different elements to worry about. Note however that not all licenses have every element. You have to read the license deed itself to find out whether some of these restrictions apply."
- Is KVM a credible choice for x86 server virtualization? | Andi Mann – Übergeek - I'm less negative but Andi's points about maturity in areas like management are certainly fair.
- Cool Tools: Samson Go Mic
- Verizon: metered billing much fairer than all-you-can-eat - This short piece lays out the basics of metered billing pretty well.
- Dynamist Blog: Whole Foods: Pioneers of the Aesthetic Imperative - "Nick Paumgarten's New Yorker profile of John Mackey offers a couple of interesting observations about the secrets to Whole Foods' success. In short, the chain thrived by understanding that it is selling pleasure, not virtue."
- Study: Ski Resorts Tell Tall Tales About Deep Snow : NPR - "Researchers at Dartmouth College have confirmed something that skiers and snowboarders have long suspected: Resorts sometimes boost their snowfall reports to attract more customers."
I'm still fine-tuning some of the technical details with these videos. However, Episode 2 gets into some of the current photography trends that I find particularly interesting:
- The embedding of location information (geo-encoding)
- The shift towards emphasizing improved noise characteristics and low-light performance
- Micro four-thirds
Monday, January 11, 2010
- Fly by Wire - "Langewiesche convincingly shows that the Airbus fly-by-wire system helps a lot of pilots avoid the consequences of their sloppiness. He fails to show that it made any difference to U.S. Airways 1549. Despite this failure, the book is well worth reading. "
- Myths of the American Revolution | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine
- TinkerX » Blog Archive » In which I change the plot of “Avatar” by less than 15% and improve it at least 250%
- Stats about all US cities - real estate, relocation info, house prices, home value estimator, recent sales, cost of living, crime, race, income, photos, education, maps, weather, houses, schools, neighborhoods, and more - Not sure how digestible this is in automated form but lots of data in any case.
- A Peek Into Netflix Queues - NYTimes.com - Like Mad Men. Vicky Christina Barcelona shows a skewing toward educated urban (although in this case also spilling over into higher-end Western suburbs in the case of Boston.
- Tenser, said the Tensor: Weygand or de Gaulle? - I had never realized thatb this was a matter of controversy with respect to Casablanca.
- FT.com / Columnists / Lunch with the FT - Lunch with the FT: Stewart Brand
- The Oscars - No More Que Será Será - Give Doris Day an Oscar - NYTimes.com - "Doris Day symbolizes what so many of us first loved about movies — a stylish escapism, grounded with feeling and heart. She has done her part for the movies. Now it’s the academy’s turn to do its part for her."
- Of soda, pop, and "coke" - Brainiac - The Boston Globe - What people call soft drinks generically around the country. (Tonic also used to be a common generic term around Boston.)
- Inspiration: 80+ Amazing WWII Allied Propaganda Posters | Vectortuts+
- Google to mobile industry: ‘F*ck you very much!’ • The Register - ""It’s Google’s autistic approach to relationships," one senior phone exec told me this week. "They don’t know what hurt they’re doing, and they don’t care.""
Friday, January 08, 2010
- Pew Research asks questions about the Internet in 2020 - O'Reilly Radar - Interesting piece. I don't agree with all of Andy's answers--especially related to client hardware--but it's worth a read.
- Richard Thaler’s insight into the snuggie « Nudge blog - "Author William Poundstone argues that “the central principle of infomercials is what the economist Richard Thaler calls “Don’t wrap all the Christmas presents in one box.” Or, people really like the “free” stuff that comes with the actual stuff they are “paying” for."
- English Russia » Leningrad Siege: Now and Then - Past to present pgoto mashups from the Siege of Leningrad via @vtri. Pretty amazing.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
- The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs : I’m trying to remember how many times Eric swore to me that Google would never make a phone - This is a particularly good one.
- Four short links: 7 January 2010 - O'Reilly Radar - "It's hard to disagree with the basic contention that SEO aimed at Google's rankings has fucked the web. It's a vicious circle, too: the more fake content sites are created to game Google, the harder it will be for any new web search startup to filter that effluent and deliver meaningful results in competition to Google. This is a grim feedback loop."
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips » To DNG or Not to DNG? - Interesting piece on why a lot of people don't convert to DNG upon importing into Lightroom (even though it makes sense to do so).
- Is Compliance in the Cloud Possible - "Blanket statements regarding compliance and cloud computing aren't possible, because there is no such thing as "the cloud". There are a number of different types of cloud computing services, and there are varying types of cloud infrastructures that can be created for single enterprises, and for groups of similar organizations." Good, level-headed overview of compliance in cloud computing.
- Effin Genius is like Pandora's smart little brother | Digital Noise: Music and Tech - CNET News - Looks interesting.
- Whatever happened to Second Life? | Analysis | Features | PC Pro - A fascinating and very detailed look at where Second Life is today. (And read the comments for something of a rebuttal.)
Monday, January 04, 2010
- Because I Can: Gmail pisses me off - "It's not your place to decide how people use their email, and it's certainly not your place to presume a decent search feature eliminates the need for a basic sort functionality." Agreed. Sort by name is a good way to go through a big lump of inbox and eliminate, say, daily status reports from XYZ. This can help eliminate a fair amount of mail in advance of more detailed handling.
- Perspectives - MapReduce in CACM - "I like MapReduce for a variety of reasons the most significant of which is that it allows non-systems programmers to write very high-scale, parallel programs with comparative ease." This seems a key point that efficiency arguments sometimes miss.
- Data Mining: Text Mining, Visualization and Social Media: The Mathematics of Modern War
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips » Lightroom and the New Year - "2. Delete more photos - One way to help wrangle your Lightroom experience is to simply have less photos in your catalog. I've got over 10,000 images in my catalog from 2009. You know how many made it to my portfolio or were sent off to the people I was photographing? Less than 1000. That's 9000 photos that really don't serve much of a purpose. A smaller photo library makes it easier on everything - you, your storage devices, and your computer." I agree. As with Gmail, there are a lot of hidden costs in saving absolutely everything. You don't need to treat storage space as precious but you should be aware that more digital stuff clogs up the works in many ways.
- Freelancers’ ethics | Analysis & Opinion | Reuters - More on the ongoing contretemps about freelance bloggers and ethics guidelines.
- Dynamist Blog: The Collapse of Professional Journalism, Cont'd - Good piece from Virginia Postrel that lays out the case pretty well for why it's not practical for newspapers to hold freelancers to all the same standards as in-house staff. (Which is not to argue that there need be no standards.)
Friday, January 01, 2010
This is my first effort at a videocast style of video. The green-screen work is imperfect. I may give it another try with different clothing. Alternatively, I may decide to just shift the shots to a location in my house with an existing background, such as a bookcase, that works.
In addition, I threw the title sequence together pretty quickly. If I decide to keep with this, I'll do something different. However, I wanted to get something out there.