April 28, 2012
As he'd say, greatest city on Earth.
April 27, 2012
Megan Geuss, writing for Ars Technica:
“Netgear is poised to be the first networking company with a next-generation router on the market—one that has been shown to reach speeds of up to 1.3 Gbps in the 5 GHz band. The company’s new router is based on the as-yet-unratified 802.11ac standard, which is theoretically three times faster than the preceding 802.11n standard.”
Won't do you much good until your computing equipment supports the same standard, which hasn't yet been ratified. Still, this is a big deal for anyone who wants to stream full-motion, high-definition video between devices without pulling ethernet cable According to Netgear's literature (via 9To5Mac), 802.11ac will support simultaneous high-def streaming.
I'd still rather pull ethernet cable to carry unforgiving data such as video. Thing is, ethernet just plain works. Plug it in and, unless there's a break in the cable, you'll have zero problems. If that's not an option in your home, though, 802.11ac will likely fit the bill.
April 26, 2012
“Whatever suspense there was for Redskins fans (very little) is over, as Washington selected Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick. Jaon Reid says that the Griffin pick offers Daniel Snyder a shot at redemption. “
Snyder needs that redemption. In the thirteen years he's owned the 'skins they've failed to make the playoffs in all but two. Let's hope RG III is the guy.
April 25, 2012
Buster Heine, writing for Cult of Mac, points out how lucky Google was that Apple designed and sold the iPhone. Otherwise, all those Android phones would look something like this:
Nicholas Carlson, writing for Silicon Alley Insider:
“To get the technology on the road, Levandowski says the company is consider partnerships with automakers, aftermaket installations, or just giving the technology away.”
Google has already successfully lobbied the state of Nevada to allow self-driving cars onto public roads. No doubt they'll continue that effort in other states.
I'm not sure I'd be keen to use this technology on two-lane, slower-traveled roads, but out on the highway it would be great. Sort of an augmented cruise control, really.
April 24, 2012
The Big Picture posts a great infographic depicting the US Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program, aka "the big bailout."
Interesting to note that of the $245 billion disbursed to purchase shares in banking institutions (thereby propping them up), all but $17 billion has been repaid through stock repurchase. The Treasury expects to gain about $25 billion from the sale of the remaining shares held.
About half the money disbursed to prop up GM and Chrysler has been repaid, and those companies appear healthier as a result.
The deadbeat: American International Group, the huge insurance company that sold billions in credit default swaps, in essence insuring those gambling financial firms against losses on their mortgage-backed security purchases. The MBSs became largely worthless when the real estate bubble burst, putting AIG on the hook for far more than they could pay. It'll be a long while before that portion of the TARP is repaid.
“Resource extraction from asteroids will deliver multiple benefits to humanity and grow to be valued at tens of billions of dollars annually. The effort will tap into the high concentration of precious metals found on asteroids and provide a sustainable supply to the ever-growing population on Earth.
A single 500-meter platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the Platinum Group Metals mined in history.”
(Via All Things D.)
Sounds like sic-fi, but it's not. The company is announcing its intentions at a press conference, today.
The engineering knowledge required to send a robotic craft to an asteroid, mine it and send back material is within our grasp. We already know how to get into space, mine small quantities on distant planets, and control processes from Earth.
It'll take significant production volume to make the economy of scale kick in. This effort requires space flight, after all. The only impediment to success is financial backing until that happens. Having a few billionaires on the team helps.
April 21, 2012
Michael Dobbs, writing for The Washington Post:
“Charles W. Colson, the Republican political operative who boasted he would ‘walk over my own grandmother’ to ensure the reelection of President Richard M. Nixon and went on to found a worldwide prison fellowship ministry after his conversion to evangelical Christianity, died April 21 Inova Fairfax Hospital. He was 80.”
(Via Darcy Spencer.)
He’s the guy who allegedly possessed a framed picture in his White House office stating, “when you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.” He was also the guy who tasked Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt with breaking into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office, looking for defamatory material. (Ellsberg had leaked the “Pentagon Papers” to the press, revealing the US military’s secret history of the Vietnam War.) He was intimately involved in the Watergate scandal, the granddaddy of modern political theater.
It was a different time when Colson was in the public eye. The crimes with which he was connected tarnished American’s view of their government, beginning a slide in public sentiment that gained momentum with Ronald Reagan’s often-misquoted “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” (Reagan was referring to the economic crisis extant at his first inauguration, not government at large.)
Colson went on to found Prison Fellowship, an organization simultaneously founded in multiple countries to serve the spiritual needs of imprisoned people. He was recognized many times over for his later-life contributions, but his notoriety came from Watergate.
Most of the Watergate players are deceased. Liddy is still kicking, though pre-deceased by his wife of 53 years, Frances. They were all true believers, convinced that the social activism of the 1960s was a threat to the American republic, and active against that movement, to the degree of actual crimes against that republic.
Patriotism wears many colors.
April 20, 2012
Judy Battista, writing for The New York Times:
“The e-mail was finally sent to Roger Goodell at 12:33 a.m. Monday — “White smoke from the scheduling room.” That one line put an end to the N.F.L.’s yearly eye-blurring, mind-bending exercise in juggling the absurd and the inconvenient, in balancing prime-time television and 10 a.m. body clocks for West Coast teams, in sifting through 14,000 potential schedules to find the one that pleases the most and infuriates the least.”
A great read on the NFL's annual scheduling process.
Sounds like the scheduling office needs a re-write of their scheduling software. Winnowing down from 14,000 computer-generated possibilities by hand means their algorithm, as complex as it undoubtedly is, isn't doing enough.
April 18, 2012
My favorite: “indoor fireworks.”
“More slammertime for disgraced baseball star Lenny Dykstra … Nails has just been sentenced to 3 months in L.A. County Jail for allegedly holding a knife to a woman’s throat. Dykstra pleaded no contest to charges of assault with a deadly weapon and lewd conduct this morning … for incidents involving women he lured to his home by posting ads for a housekeeper on Craigslist.com. Officials tell us … when the women would arrive to his home, Dykstra would inform them the job required them to give him a massage … and then he would expose himself.”
Yes, that Len Dykstra.
The Verge reports confirmation of what you already knew: the best choices for mobile networking are AT&T and Verizon. Combine this knowledge with Verizon’s extensive (true) 4G and general voice coverage footprint, and the choice narrows.
Unless Verizon’s service is simply awful where you require use of your wireless phone, buy the Verizon model rather than something from AT&T.
Marco Arment, on Twitter’s recently announced Innovator’s Patent Agreement:
“A lot of people are heaping praise upon them for this, but it’s important to maintain perspective.”
Marco is the creator and developer of Instapaper, and host of the podcast “Build and Analyze” with Dan Benjamin. He was also a senior developer at Tumblr, so he’s well-qualified to discuss software development and the industry’s practice of defensive patent portfolios. Here he argues that while well-intentioned, the IPA reserves Twitter the moral (and legal) right to file patent infringement suits at will, and as such isn’t as big a deal as many commenters believe.
In an industry where companies routinely purchase multi-billion dollar patent portfolios solely as counter-suit ammunition, Twitter’s move is an incremental step away from that. It leaves some control of their employee’s patent use in the hands of the inventor, ostensibly giving the inventor a say in how a patent is used. It signals an intent, noted by Marco, to act as a gentleman entrepreneur, rather than a robber baron. Coming from a company so deeply entwined in both the Internet social networking infrastructure as well as Apple’s iOS mobile operating system, that’s remarkable.
What matters is how Twitter behaves under the IPA. They’re sitting on a patent that’s widely infringed upon, the pull-to-refresh technique used to manually trigger in-app updates. Anyone who has used the Gmail web site on his iPhone is familiar with it: swipe down on the inbox and release to manually check for new mail. Google has emerged as the latest boogeyman in software and Internet development. Let’s see how long Twitter goes without attempting to force them to license their very handy gesture-based technique.
April 17, 2012
“I need to take a break before I surrender to the exhaustion. I need to fill up my tank so that I can give more to my family and find more moments of peace.”
Heather has lived much of her personal life on the pages of her weblog for over ten years. It’s a bicycle she’s ridden to great acclaim and success. That’s how the world knows that her life has taken an unpleasant turn recently.
She gave a brief interview on the Today Show yesterday morning to promote her new book, and although she was composed, she was wound fairly tight. I can’t imagine going through what she’s in the midst of, let alone in such a public way.
It seems she’s reached a point where she needs to get off her bike for a while. I don’t know what surrendering to exhaustion entails, but that she’s taking a break from her only bread and butter to avoid it implies nothing good.
I’m curious to read her when she returns. Maybe she’ll be refreshed. It sounds, though, like she needs more than a week’s refreshing.
Adam Messinger, Twitter VP of Engineering, announcing the new Inventor's Patent Agreement for safe guarding the rights to employee inventions:
“The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.”
The US Congress has only made patenting and trademarking a deeper morass recently. If that body won't fix things, perhaps industry will.
April 16, 2012
“I see these as Apple’s three feasible options: keep the screen as is, bump to 16:9 but retain a 326dpi resolution, or increase the screen size while maintaing the 960x640 resolution. I hope they go with option 3, but chairman Gruber makes methinks option 2 is more likely. ”
Dan posts a lucid argument against the idea of a 16:9 next-gen iPhone display.
If it were my choice, I'd go with the pixel-added 16:9 version (option 2) and make the extra real estate open to notifications and other "special" programmable functions.
Video would be rendered in full 16:9 using the additional space. Older apps would continue to use the same 3:2 space as previous iPhones. Developers would have the option of making their new and updated apps use of the added space, or not, through new iOS API calls.
I don't believe Apple will backtrack on their vaunted Retina display by stretching the old pixel count to a larger LCD. That would be option 3, and it does nothing but join the bigger-is-better crowd that has sprung up in the Android hardware community. Apple design changes are always in the service of new or enhanced functionality, and a stretched display is neither.
April 15, 2012
“The race of Florida teen Trayvon Martin had less to do with his death than the fact that the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed him was carrying a gun, comedian Bill Cosby told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday.”
Exactly correct. Martin is dead not because he was the victim of a racially motivated crime, but because his shooter had two things: a gun, and a state law allowing him to use it when faced with less than deadly force.
April 13, 2012
James Hibberd, writing for EW.com:
“On the heels of reports that NBC is considering a creative restart on “The Office,” comes last night’s ratings: The comedy veteran fell to a series low while facing a repeat of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” in the 9 p.m. hour.”
You had to imagine this would happen after Steve Carell left the show last season. The Office’s stories revolved around his character, and none other has replaced it.
The show has had a good run. Might be the right time to give it the axe and move on.
“when people rent a movie that won’t arrive for a few days, they’re making a bet on what they want at some future point. And, people tend to have a more… optimistic viewpoint of their future selves. That is, they may be willing to rent, say, an “artsy” movie that won’t show up for a few days, feeling that they’ll be in the mood to watch it a few days (weeks?) in the future, knowing they’re not in the mood immediately. But when the choice is immediate, they deal with their present selves, and that choice can be quite different.”
In other words, future-you might like a Ken Burns documentary, but today-you wants an Adam Sandler flick. The winning algorithm helped make better picks for future-you who watches DVDs, not today-you who has streaming access to the Netflix library.
The article is a five-minute read and provides interesting details about how Netflix came to their decision not to implement the winning algorithm.
April 12, 2012
Richard Sale, writing for ISSSource:
“As ISSSource reported, Stuxnet was a comprehensive U.S.-Israeli program designed to disrupt Iran’s nuclear technology. This joint program first surfaced in 2009 and worked in concert with an earlier U.S. effort that consistently sabotaged Iran’s purchasing network abroad.”
(via The Verge.)
According to this report, an Israeli agent introduced the Stuxnet code to machines controlling Iranian centrifuges, destroying them and setting back the Iranian nuclear program by years.
There's a book somewhere in this story.
Steve Kovach, writing for Silicon Alley Insider:
“There have been a lot of rumors lately that Google plans to release it’s own tablet running a clean version of Android. The tablet will likely be sold by Google via a special online store.
The rumors also say the tablet will be a 7-inch device made by Asus and cost about $200, the same price as the Kindle Fire.”
If you’re envying the masses who have bought and loved Apple’s iPad, but have an inbred hatred of all things emerging from Cupertino, this is your chance to buy a tablet machine that’s 1. not Apple’s, and 2. not Amazon’s. Not that there’s much wrong with either.
In fact, this would be the definitive Android tablet from Android’s creator. Like the Nexus smartphones, you can’t get a more pure rendering of Google’s intent with their open-source OS.
If you’re hell-bent to avoid the Walled Garden of Jobs, or Amazon’s effort to make it easier to give them your money, this is your ticket to ride.
Or, buy an iPad, and be happy.
I’ve instituted a new design for Bazinga Journal, featuring a pair of new typefaces from the terrific Typekit.
My goal has always been to keep my weblog’s look clean and simple. With this redesign I get a little closer to achieving that.
The colors are muted, both in background and typeface. Links are in green and red, yet not boldly so. There’s enough contrast to ease readability, yet not enough to sear anyone’s retinas.
The new fonts are Acta Display for the main title and headlines, and Museo Sans for article and block text. Both are available in the free tier offered by Typekit. I’ve wanted to dig into their service for a while and I finally took the plunge.
I really like the way the redesign turned out. I expect I’ll tweak this and that over the next week or so but, for the most part, it’s done. Hope you like it.
April 11, 2012
A recent Hypercritical with John Siracusa and Dan Benjamin included discussion about web ads and ad-blocking software. It got me thinking about my own browsing habits. It occurred to me that I haven’t seen ads on most web sites in years, because I’ve used the AdBlock add-on for Chrome. I used AdBlock on Firefox for years before that, too.
I began using AdBlock in response to the garish, largely irrelevant and often intrusive ads website authors insisted on presenting. After a few weeks I forgot what a mess ads make of some of my favorite web sites.
John raised a good point though, that if browser developers included ad blocking as a standard feature, as they have with pop-up blockers, online content creation and commerce would be a very different beast. There would likely be much less unpaid editorial content. We’d all be the losers, because paid content doesn’t get as wide distribution as unpaid.
Users employing ad-blocking add-ons are doing the same on a smaller scale. By refusing to load ads, they're denying web authors the revenue that keeps them afloat. Enlightened self-interest alone makes that a long-term losing proposition.
John’s solution is to block most sites’ ads, and white-list only the few web sites he truly likes. If by “likes” he means those that provide great content but not in-your-face advertising, his solution mirrors mine. Here’s how I started my white-list.
About a year and a half ago I noticed an article on Ars Technica making a plea to readers who use ad-blocking add-ons in their web browser. They explicitly asked readers to unblock ads from their site in exchanged for great, free content devoid of intrusive advertising. They vowed to put up only high-quality, non-intrusive ads for businesses that have relevance to their readers. Being a long-time Ars reader, I knew they’d made good on that promise in the past, so I white-listed their site in AdBlock.
I see ads whenever I go to the Ars Technica site, but I have yet to be annoyed by them. As Siracusa points out, it’s not seeing the ads that’s annoying, it’s the distraction from the content that jars. Ars makes another offer, for fully ad-free content: monthly subscriptions. The reader has a choice.
I’ve made the same private bargain with Daring Fireball, The Loop and 5by5. I white-list their sites, and in exchange they don’t bomb me with distracting crap. Their ads, following along the lines of their overall site design, are tasteful and unobtrusive, and I don’t mind seeing them. The ads are often relevant to my interests and I occasionally click through to a product. The bargain works for everyone.
This is a great model for the rest of the web. If you want readers to allow your ads in their browser, ask. And make sure you’ve made those ads tasteful, relevant and unobtrusive.
Treat your readers as valued customers, not hogs at the trough. If your product is tastefully supported by ads, readers won't mind seeing them.
April 9, 2012
Mark Maske, writing for The Washington Post's The Insider:
“The NFL has upheld the suspensions of New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton, General Manager Mickey Loomis and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for their roles in the team’s bounty scheme, the league announced Monday.”
The Saints are done for the 2012 season, even if they get Bill Parcells to step in as head coach for a year. The distraction of losing Sean Payton, the disruption of a new coach adapting, or adapting to a new offensive scheme, and the close scrutiny of the league, other teams and fans all wondering 'are they still doing it?' will prove enough to keep them at .500 or worse for the season.
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams did not appeal his indefinite suspension. His case will be reviewed following the 2012 season.
Williams' suspension is "indefinite," so there's no reason to assume that such a review will return him to NFL coaching. Williams had left the Saints organization at the end of last season to take the St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator job under new head coach Jeff Fisher.
I'd guess Gregg Williams is done, too.
“While Cops frequently wins its Saturday timeslot, FOX apparently isn’t satisfied with a 1.3 demo rating. Once a Saturday night staple, the reality show has been on only sporadically this season. Now, Vulture reports that FOX will be airing Cops even fewer times moving forward.
The network is scheduling sports programming — a mixture of baseball, college football, NASCAR, and UFC matches — for the next 28 of 32 Saturdays between now and early December. That will leave just three nights that Cops could air since an America’s Most Wanted special will take up one of them.”
A pizza, a six-pack of beer, Cops and America's Most Wanted: prime Saturday night entertainment for some. No mo'.
John Walsh's AMW got picked up by Lifetime Network, but the Bad Boys won't be seen much for the rest of 2012. They may have a future on cable, though!
Frederic Lardinois, writing for TechCrunch:
“quite a few small businesses and even large enterprises in the developed world still use XP today. Even in the U.S., for example about 22% of all PCs currently still run this legacy operating system.”
We've run Windows XP Pro on all three of our small business's machines since we opened in 2005. While no-one can blame us for skipping Windows Vista, my only defense for XP these days is "if it ain't broke …"
Seriously, it's provided us with seven years of largely headache-free operation. Our main POS machine is about due for replacement, though, so Windows 7 is in our immediate future.
April 7, 2012
April 6, 2012
The Boston Globe’s The Big Picture has a set of terrific images of RMS Titanic, both from 100 years ago and the recent past.
This stuff is amazing. I had the good fortune to see a display of Titanic artifacts during a business trip to Memphis several years ago. Seeing bits and pieces of the huge vessel against a context-correct background image brought home the immensity of the ship and the loss.
If you ever have an opportunity to visit an exhibition of recovered Titanic artifacts, go see it.
(The April, 2012 issue of National Geographic has a plethora of recent images, both individual and composite, from the wreck. Worth a purchase in the paper edition.)
(via The Loop. That’s Jim Dalrymple’s weblog, a low-volume, high-quality source of interesting stuff. He began a podcast today with Dan Benjamin at 5by5.tv. I haven’t listened to the new podcast yet, but if it measures up to the rest of Dan’s network, it’s worth a listen.)
April 4, 2012
“James Bond star Daniel Craig has said that he will continue to play the British spy for as long as he can.
The star - who is taking on the role for a third time in the latest film Skyfall - told the BBC he would “keep going until they tell me to stop”.”
The original iPad made its debut about two years ago. Introduced in January, 2010 and delivered in April, it was a fresh start after a long, uninspiring line of tablet computers from a variety of manufacturers. But because Apple took the time to re-think the way a tablet might be used, indeed, took the time to tell the rest of the world how tablet computers would be used, it stuck this time.
My wife gifted me a first-generation iPad later that year. I was surprised not only because I’m usually the one who buys our electronics, but also because I’d had no plans to get one for myself. I hadn’t been able to make a use case to justify the expense. I was too glued to my laptop.
Over the year and a half I’ve owned it, though, my iPad has developed its own use case. I moved from reading paper books to ebooks, and my two-decade Wired subscription made the jump as well. And then came comics. I hadn’t much interest in them when I was younger, but I’d wanted to read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series after greatly enjoying his novel Neverwhere. The Comixology app for iPad made finding and owning them easy. Remote access to my collection of machines, lighter travel and less upkeep were nice bonuses, too.
Apple delivered the third-generation iPad last month.
People have asked me whether I’ll trade up from my original iPad, but two years and two models later I’m in the same place I was before Kelly handed me the box from Apple. I can’t think of a use case for a device that’s essentially the same as what I already own and enjoy.
I’ve read Gruber’s review, and The Verge’s and Ars Technica’s. I’ve listened to the usual suspects on 5by5 admire the new iPad’s features. Its retina display sure looks great, and a faster processor would be welcome. LTE networking is nice, although my iPad spends much of its life in my home, saturated in WiFi-N.
Stepping back I see that the new iPad doesn’t do anything my old (hah) iPad does, it simply does it all faster. And prettier. And lighter, too. But that only makes a good case for enjoying what I have, rather than lusting after the latest update. As terrific as the new iPad is, it’s only an update.
Though a new toy is always welcome, the new iPad won’t be appearing on my doorstep anytime soon.
I suspect I’ll keep enjoying my first-generation iPad until Apple no longer supports it with iOS updates. That day is coming, maybe as soon iOS 6 debuts later this year. Then I’ll have a choice to make … how much do I want whatever new features are in that new operating system vs. how well does my original iPad get the job done.
Until then, though, I’ll stick with what I’ve got. I like my gadget just fine. And I think that’s what Apple was shooting for, anyway.
April 2, 2012
Hillary Busis, writing for EW.com (via CNN.com):
“In an upcoming ad campaign, the blond Bond is going to forgo his trademark cocktail for a swig of Dutch beer. Let’s hope it doesn’t arrive shaken.”
Do not like. The last two Bond films have each been a catalog of product placement, though not distastefully so. Ditching the spy's signature libation, however, might be going a step too far.
On the other hand, I'm so ready for another Daniel Craig Bond flick. Perhaps I'll knock back two Vespers as I watch, to make up for Bond-san's lack. On PPV, of course.
At least the brew will be a Heineken, and thereby qualify as "good beer."