Category Archives: Geek

This Blog is Blacked Out

Google has a good link describing SOPA and PIPA, and why you should care. Lots of other sites have gone black. I would, but am feeling lazy and don’t want to muck about with CSS.

My major objections are two:

  • piracy and copyright violations are already illegal, and RIAA/MPAA have been pretty successful at identifying and prosecuting pirates.
  • the Internet works and promotes innovation by virtue of simply defining itself as a transport mechanism and peering agreements. Changing that to require deeper inspection changes the ‘Information Superhighway’ into a train station, where you can’t get on unless you’ve got a ticket, and can’t get off unless there’s a station.
  • I accept that the Internet as it existed in the 1990s and earlier does need to continue to evolve and change. However, I object strenuously to changes that don’t preserve openness, flexibility, and end-user control of data. These laws remind me of gun control and cell phone laws – it’s already illegal to pirate copyrighted works, shoot people, and drive recklessly; making it more illegal isn’t going to stop the activity.

    Found in the Friday Fun Quiz!

    So, I’ve had another semi-brush with fame. I was catching up on my RSS feeds, and found that Bike Snob NYC had lifted my picture of the lawyer tabs on my road bike to use in his Friday Fun Quiz:

    Here’s the original:

    On the one hand, it’s cool. And on the other hand it’s pretty cool to see someone else reusing my work. I’ve dropped him an email asking for photo credit. And it’s incentive to get back to writing – running, biking, and swimming have all been pretty good lately, but not great.

    Springtime – Time to think about camping again…

    ThinkGeek never fails to amaze:

    Tauntaun Sleeping Bag

    [From Tauntaun Sleeping Bag – Will it Become Real?]

    It looks like the boyos and I have a potential date for the first camping trip of the year in about 3 weeks – Missy’s got supper club, and we’ve got warm weather and worms to dunk. Cannot wait to sleep in the woods again.

    Training has been good this week – on schedule for the first time in a while. Great run on Tuesday – finished 4 miles in under 8:00/mile. I was spent at the end, but for a change of pace it rocked. Nice to know I’m closer to being able to hang with the fit guys at work.

    Mindshare 24 March

    I played soccer tonight. Tons and tons of fun, but I cannot get to sleep thanks to adrenaline. So, here’s what’s been bouncing around inside my head.

    1. “Revolutions create a curious inversion of perception. In ordinary times, people who do no more than describe the world around them are seen as pragmatists, while those who imagine fabulous alternative futures are viewed as radicals. The last couple of decades haven’t been ordinary, however. Inside the papers, the pragmatists were the ones simply looking out the window and noticing that the real world was increasingly resembling the unthinkable scenario. Leadership becomes faith-based, while employees who have the temerity to suggest that what seems to be happening is in fact happening are herded into Innovation Departments, where they can be ignored en masse.”Clay Shirky. He’s talking about the train wreck in the newspaper world, but this bit could be applied across the board. Thinking big thoughts is good for society.

    2. “Lee Smolin, a physicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, who was one of the authors, said, “What is amazing to me as I learn about this is how flimsy was the theoretical basis of the claims that derivatives and other complex financial instruments reduced risk, when their use in fact brought on instabilities.” – New York Times. I considered “financial engineering” while I was working on my MBA, but the reliance on much of what I was exposed to on equations extremely sensitive to a single assumption made me leery. As I keep listening to Planet Money, I’m more a believer that the 3-6-3 model (Pay 3% to people in savings accounts, lend at 6%, and be on the golf course at 3PM) for the banking and finance industry was a system that didn’t need a lot of tinkering. Plus, who really needs millions of dollars?

    3. “Getting things done, especially the right things, is incredibly satisfying, but waking up one day to realize you’re a stressed-out workaholic at the age of 28 is not. Life requires balance. You’ll be more productive, more creative, and more satisfied if you calm down and unplug every once in a while, even if it’s once in a very long while.” Questioning the ‘Cult of Done‘. I hadn’t heard of the ‘Cult of Done’, but this is a great piece encouraging taking even good stuff with a grain of salt. Understanding the limits of models, etc. See item 2.

    4. “(F)inancial warfare comes with all sorts of risks. The Unites States is deeply in debt to other countries — especially China, which holds over a trillion dollars in U.S. securities — and that kind of leverage, in the wrong hands, could be destabilizing.” Danger Room (Wired). This keeps me up at night. Actually blowing stuff up is risky, expensive, and morally ambiguous. Blowing $100 billion on wrecking a country’s market over a dispute is arguably just expensive.

    5. Belated reminder that William Gibson’s birthday is St. Patrick’s day. Makes a phenomenal excuse to go drunk driving on the information superhighway. His guest series over the last week is very NSFW, but worth a look. (Assuming you’re on a personal computer, of age in your jurisdiction, and not averse to boobs and foul language).

    6. This is big and interesting – MIT backs free access to scientific papers. Cool counterpoint to the newspaper story.

    7. For file under studies noone really needed: The data suggests that relevant information will emerge even when the group’s communications aren’t firing on all cylinders. Groups where at least one member had a requisite answer to the problem tended to be more successful than those that rated highly for the open sharing of information. The sharing did seem to help the group build a cohesiveness in a way that simply obtaining the answer did not, however. So, being stuck in a meeting where people are discussing things you already know can serve a positive function.” Really? Having a clue helps? But if you don’t have a clue, at least you can have that in common with the rest of the clueless…

    Be good to each other.

    General Venting. I’m getting old.

    This is a really interesting interview with the guy who wrote this book

    There’s another view of Web 2.0 evangelists which I call ‘Why not?’ For example, ‘Why not turn up at Grand Central Station wearing underpants in a big Flash Mob?’

    But I don’t think ‘Why Not?’ is good enough. Things need to have a purpose. If you have a project or a purpose, you can use the medium to achieve that. With no ideas, no project, you have nothing. The evangelists simply believe can use this metaphysical glow of this medium to woo people.

    People forget the world’s first Flash Mob in 2003, organised by Bill Wasik, was a joke. It was a joke on the gullibility of New York hipsters who would react to any kind of electronic information, and do anything you told them. [From ‘Like pedos in a playground’ – the media and Web 2.0 • The Register]

    I’m not really down on Web 2.0; moreso I’m down on technology for technology’s sake. There’s a difference between doing something that’s cool, and doing something that everyone ought to do.

    In some cases, experience and limiting access to channels isn’t a bad thing. The most difficult part of any kind of freedom is self-control

    Google Sync

    Hmm – google book search works with the iPod Touch, but not Google Sync. I’m kind of bummed about it.

    Google Sync allows you to get your Gmail Contacts and Google Calendar events to your phone. Once you set up Sync on your phone, it will automatically begin synchronizing your address book and calendar in the background, over-the-air, so you can attend to other tasks. Sync uses push technology so any changes or additions to your calendar or contacts are reflected on your device in minutes.

    Official Google Mac Blog: What’s New for iPhone

    Links 20090127

    an experimental Humvee, equipped with a laser. The real-life ray gun then took aim at the drone, and began blasting. Soon, the drone had a hole burnt through it — and was crashing down to the desert. [From Laser 1, Drone 0 in Boeing Test]

    An old glass jar inside a beaten up old safe at the bottom of a waste pit may seem an unlikely place to find a pivotal piece of 20th century history. But that’s just where the first bulk batch of weapons-grade plutonium ever made has been found – abandoned at the world’s oldest nuclear processing site [From Earliest weapons-grade plutonium found in US dump