Subscribe: Critical Section
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
apple  content  cool  day  feed  good  great  interesting  iphone  new  people  phone  things  time  view  world  wow   
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Critical Section

Critical Section

Ole Eichhorn's weblog - computer software, medical science, politics, philosophy, cycling, sailing, and book writing!

Copyright: © 2003-2016 Ole Eichhorn

never forget

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 12:01:58 PST

(image) Wow, 9/11, again.  I will certainly never forget, as must we all not, for the evil philosophy which drove the horrible events of that day is with us still.  We must be ever vigilant to defend our ways of life against those who would take them away.

I have a calm quiet day; the biggest challenge I face will be riding my bike up a steep mountain.  I will worry only about how to make great things happen in the future, for my family and my business, and not about how to avoid bad things happening in the present. 

But I will not forget the recent past, and I hope you will not, either.


∑ points of view

Mon, 25 Apr 2016 22:30:52 PST

I'm been ruminating on points of view.  Everyone knows that people see things differently, but is that because they literally see the same thing and perceive it differently (sometimes) or are they viewing the same thing but seeing something different ... because they have a different point of view.  A lot of the work in understanding something is moving to different / better points of view.  So if you want to know a lot, you have to move around :) If you're wondering "how could anyone ever support X", where X is one of the current presidential candidates, consider their point of view.  They are probably seeing different things than you are, rather than perceiving the same things differently. Try ... if you can ... playing the "under the skin" game.  The other person is usually more rational than you thought, and you are often less rationale when seen from another person's point of view. Speaking of points of view, here we have the Tesla Gigafactory as seen from a drone.  Wow.  It's hard to comprehend just how large this building is...  Not surprising to me: Human intelligence is declining according to Stanford geneticist.  "I would wager that if an average citizen from Athens of 1000 BC were to appear suddenly among us, he or she would be among the brightest and most intellectually alive of our colleagues and companions, with a good memory, a broad range of ideas, and a clear-sighted view of important issues."  Clear evidence for Unnatural Selection.  Life in 2016: How White Castle will adjust to a $15 minimum wage.  A minimum wage is one of those issues where people definitely have different points of view.  If you're poor and struggling to live on a minimum wage, you will think this could help.  And if you're an economist or student of history, you will think this can only hurt.  The challenge is not figuring out who's right, but how to we get the right thinking implemented.  Victor David Hanson: The next President is going to be hated.  Yeah.  Some people would say this is a waste of time and money, but not me: Yuri Milner is spending $100M on a probe that could travel to Alpha Centauri.  I saw Yuri speak at a Caltech event recently, and he's level headed and constructive about this.  Most impressive.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the political spectrum, Bernie Sanders is now calling for a nationwide ban on fracking.  See, to me, he *really* doesn't understand how things work.  But to you, maybe this makes sense.  A sad aspect of today's political environment is that people can't say what they think anymore.  Don't believe it?  Check out this video, in which a 5'9" white guy challenges people to say he isn't a 6'5" Chinese girl.  This is not proof of people seeing things differently, it's evidence that people don't feel comfortable saying what they see.  I'm not one of those people: I see crap, and I call it crap:  Brutalist websites.  This is a variation of my "patience" rant; people can whip out something ugly, call it style, and move on, instead of taking the time to make something worth making.  And once again let's not confuse simplicity (which is good) with brutalism or as I might call it lazyism (which is bad).  An extraordinary read: Stephen Wolfram, my life in technology.  Stephen is one of the people I admire most, a thinker who is also a doer, and who has thought and done some amazing things.  Mathematica and the Wolfram Language are two of the marvels of our time.  From any point of view :)  I'm going to wrap up with this, which is ... great, 1986 in photos.  Talk about having a different point of view, imagine how differently you would have reacted to these pictures thirty years ago (or forty years ago!).  And how we will look back and view the events of today.  As you look at these pictures, which one strikes you?      [ You are readin[...]

∑ filter pass

Sat, 16 Apr 2016 22:27:04 PST

Woah, 10 days since my last filter pass!  What happened?  Nothing in particular, I've just been ... busy?  I guess.  The days go by.  Anyway here's a catchup... because [as you know] it's all happening... In case you were worried: NASA's Kepler space telescope is back in good health.  Whew.  Clive Thompson: The new site.  In case you were a fan of his Collision Detection, or especially if you weren't.  Check it out!  It's funny to read about someone who thinks Moveable Type is legacy, when I started blogging, there was no Moveable Type, in fact, Blogger had just come out.  I had to write my own CMS, and it's still running.  Also, I had to walk in the snow to school, uphill both ways :) From October, Heather MacDonald testifies before the Senate: The Myth of Criminal-Justice Racism.  "The most poisonous claim in the dominant narrative is that our criminal justice system is a product and a source of racial inequity."  In which once again we see that correlation does not imply causality.  Thirty years ago (!) - space shuttle Challenger explodes, killing all seven astronauts aboard.  For me this was totally a "remember where you were when you heard it" event.  Scott "Dilbert" Adams ponders a presidential persuasion pardon.  "Let’s say Donald Trump promises that when he gets elected President he will pardon Hillary Clinton of any future convictions regarding her email server situation."  An interesting what-if, but I don't read him that way.  Dumb dumb dumb dumb: PayPal withdraws from North Carolina because of new LGBT discrimination law.  The law is pretty benign - requiring each sex to use bathrooms for their sex - but everyone sure is jumping on this bandwagon.  This is nothing but virtue signaling, but it sure is compelling.  Meanwhile: Chariot launches, an Uber-like service for women only.  No word about how they will treat men who "present" as women. One down: Panama papers scandal brings down Iceland's prime minister.  Wow.  Wonder who's next?  I use a tool called WordFence to protect eyesFinder's website (which is running WordPress); check out this post on the WordFence blog about how the Panama papers got exposed. The latest sport?  First-person drone racing descends upon Wembley Stadium.  Wow.  And meanwhile, ESPN is trying to make drone racing a mainstream sport.  Well why not?  Better than poker :)  The thing that will be really cool?  First-person drone racing ... in virtual reality! Apropos: the reality of AR/VR business models.  A great survey.  Personally I think VR content creation will be like making movies ... a huge business.  (With many of the same people and players.)  Related: How virtual reality is looking to reawaken the joy of arcades.  Might even get me back into one :)  Major League Baseball approves wearable tech for in-game use.  Specific products for now, but it's a slippery slope.  The three things Apple needs to do to unlock the potential of Touch Id.  I totally agree with the first thing: use Touch Id to override web passwords.  It is such a pain to remember (and recover) passwords on every site; how great would it be if authenticating yourself on your phone was all you had to do?  The headline is clickbait but the article is better: a survey of the challenges that Yahoo faces, as it explores the sale of its core business.  Not a pretty picture.  How the mighty have fallen...  I thought Marissa Mayer had a chance to turn them around, but apparently she did not.  I remember when I was at Intuit, in 1999, that Yahoo was THE online service, the Internet challenger to non-Internet AOL.  That was a long time ago, and in all that time Yahoo has steadily declined. As Tesla Model 3 preorders approach 400,000: If you built it, they will come.  "Pri[...]

∑ reality

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 23:49:12 PST

Today I had a new experience; I flew around the Earth!  My ship was an HTC Vive.  I was able to fly around, zoom in and out, and even see population statistics and social media traffic superimposed over the globe.  It was seamless 1080p at 90fps, and I was there.  I didn't feel sick or scared, I felt liberated and elated.  And I can't wait for my next flight! The headset is light and comfortable, but it's a headset, and it's tethered by a not insignificant wire bundle.  That's the downside.  The controllers are easy to use and importantly, appear in the field of view.  So while your hands do not - and they could be added, of course - you definitely have the sense of your movement corresponding to the world's movement.  I don't know how this stacks up against the Oculus Rift, but I can't wait to find out.  Stay tuned :) For the to-learn list ... Unity.  [Apparently, one of] the easiest / best ways to develop VR content for Vives, Rifts, and their brethren. Inside Industrial Light & Magic's virtual reality lab.  "Industrial Light & Magic’s Experience Lab (ILMxLAB) is a newly-formed supergroup of artists, engineers, sound designers, and storytellers prototyping the future of interactive, immersive cinema for Lucasfilm."  Next gen moviemaking.  Of course the ILMs of the world will be making VR content, but with the tools now available, there's going to be a democratization and everyone will be able to make VR movies, just like anyone can shoot HD with their phone.  It will be all about the destinations and stories. And this: StreamVR featuring the HTC Vive:  ----- Meanwhile, back in the "real" world... -----  Jeff Immelt of GE counterpunches: Bernie Sanders says we’re ‘destroying the moral fabric’ of America. He’s wrong.  "We create wealth and jobs, instead of just calling for them in speeches."  Absolutely.  Sigh: Jerry Brown admits $15 minimum wage does not make economic sense.  California is such a contradiction, a bastion of liberal thinking and the best counterexample :)  John Hindraker considers The Left's new battleground: co-ed bathrooms.  "The 'discrimination' consists of the fact that men can’t use women’s rest rooms ... There was a time when, if you had said that one of our major political parties would someday consider it a vital civil right that men be allowed to use women’s bathrooms, people would have thought you were nuts. They would have been right."  I can see on the Internets including my Facebook feed that the North Carolina law has attracted the ire of many liberals, protesting this "discrimination".  More proof, if any were needed, that Idiocracy was a documentary. All is not lost, however: When Mark Steyn struck back.  The rapid decline of conditions in Europe are a cautionary tale for sure.  Those who fail to learn the lessons of history current eventsare doomed to repeat them.  Re Mark Steyn: Tomorrow's civilizational cringe today.  Featuring the evergreen Tim Blair headline: British Muslims Fear Repercussions Over Tomorrow’s Train Bombing.  [Thanks, Zoya] ----- But on the plus side... -----  Peter Sagan wins Tour of Flanders, his first monument, but surely not his last.  It's not just that he won - while wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey - it's the way he won, riding right away from the field to power to victory.  You just don't see that very often in today's peloton.  I can't wait for Paris Roubaix next Sunday!  Hat tip to Fabian Cancellara, who finished a charging second; he did his best in his final effort (he's announced his retirement), but nobody can catch Sagan when he's on a good day anymore. This is HP's new logo.  I like it.  The incomparable xkcd: Mycology: Perhaps the fungus actually causes comics about fungi :)  [ You are readin[...]

it's the law

Tue, 05 Apr 2016 10:55:52 PST



Hehe.  Remember, it's the law...


∑ wow

Mon, 04 Apr 2016 22:55:58 PST

Wow!  Has there ever been a better ending to a better game than last night's NCAA basketball championship?  With 4.7 count 'em 4.7 seconds left, North Carolina launches an improbable 3 which somehow hits net to tie, and then after a frantic full court scramble Villanova bags a game winner with 0.5 cannot even count 'em 0.5 seconds left for the win.  Wow. I had predicted NC would win in a yawner.  Missed it by a mile. Talking of missing things by a mile, Real Science notes the Falling Sea Level on the East Coast of the US.  Meanwhile, astronomers just discovered an alien planet with three suns that shouldn't exist.  Great headline for an interesting story.  What a time to be alive.  I wonder if "My Three Suns" was considered as an alternate headline? :) Space archaeology uncovers potential Viking settlement in North America.  Love this.  Strongly reminiscent of Nevil Shute's amazing An Old Captivity, which imagines a Viking settlement discovered during an air survey.  A great read. We seem to have reached "peak Trump", and with tomorrow's likely defeat in the Wisconsin primary, Roger Kimball wonders What Happens Now?  He's not sure and neither am I.  But we'd both love to see Ted Cruz as the Republican candidate...  Political philosopher Scott "Dilbert" Adams considers Derailing the Trump Train.  "If you have been reading my Master Persuader series, you might be interested in why Trump’s persuasion suddenly stopped working. It’s more interesting than you think."  It's a wonder the charade lasted as long as it did; a tribute to the IQ of the voters and the media.  News you can use: Star Wars, the Force Awakens is now out on Amazon digital video.  Well in time for May the Fourth.  The economics of this are interesting; in the old days, studios would delay online release to make sure everyone paid to see the movie in a theater.  But in the new days, if they delay the release people like me will download a torrent instead of paying for a copy.  They should make the movie available right away so we can get it legally. Incredible: The Arizona boneyard where old warplanes go to die.  There are over 4,000 planes there.  So much hardware, but also, so many stories.  (Click here to visit via Google Maps.)  It is interesting to ponder, what should be done with old military hardware?  Ideally it would be sold and reused, but a lot of this tech is simply obsolete.  Leaving it sitting out in the desert doesn't seem like the best answer, just the most expedient one.  Maybe it can be teleported to another universe which isn't yet as technologically advanced? Excellent: programming language makes circuits out of bacteria.  "Ultimately, this could lead to bacteria that solve specific conditions, such as reducing lactose intolerance (by improving digestion) or producing pesticide when bugs attack a plant."  And what could possibly go wrong?  This seems like the perfect language for a biochemist-turned-software-engineer.  Heh.   [ You are reading the "aggregated" RSS feed for Critical Section, with one item for all posts in a day.If you would prefer the "splintered" RSS feed, with separate items for each post, please use this link instead. ] [...]

ess ee

Mon, 04 Apr 2016 08:05:22 PST

You guys may know, I'm a "small phone" guy.  I loved my Palm Pre, it was the perfect size.  So when Apple went from the iPhone 4 form factor to the iPhone 5, I was not delighted.  I did upgrade, and for the past two years I've liked my iPhone 5S, but there was no way I wanted an iPhone 6.  (And as far as the iPhone 6 Plus, I already have an iPad :) So the iPhone SE was designed for me; essentially an iPhone 6S in an iPhone 5S body.  I just got one and I like it. Improvements: The camera.  The picture at right of my cat Reggie is amazing; there was so much variation in light that I had a hard time seeing him by eye, yet the picture is great.  (click to enbiggen, but note that I've downsampled the resolution by 200%) The battery life.  I got my phone on Friday, and powered it on Saturday morning.  I deliberately ran all day Saturday and Sunday without plugging it in, and on Sunday night I was still at 20%. Apple Pay.  I'm all setup with nowhere to go; all the places I went over the weekend didn't accept it.  (The blank look on the DoIt Center cashier's face when I asked if they accepted Apple Pay was especially great.)  Still, I'm looking forward to using it and confident it will be cool. "Hey Siri" without pressing the home button.  This is way cooler than you might think.  I'm not a Siri user - or at least I wasn't - but now it is so easy to try stuff that I do.  "Hey Siri, where's the nearest post office?"  Etc.  Siri still doesn't work that well, but the ability to access it just by speaking is game changing. Faster.  Yep, it is. That cool camera is capable of some amazing close-ups, check out the self-portrait at right, showing how the camera does not stick out.  (click to enbiggen; again, resolution downsampled by 200%) Not so great things: I was forced to upgrade to iTunes 12 in order to restore to this phone.  Okay, I get it, forward motion, but I was holding out because iTunes 12 seems like a step backward from 11.  All that Apple Music stuff that I don't care about ... everything moved around ...  Anyway IIWII. As always, remembering all my accounts and passwords and re-logging into everything is a massive PITA.  Now that we have fingerprint recognition built into the phone, can't we do away with all this crap?  Seems like once I've authenticated myself with my finger, everything else should be known... I still don't like the virtual keyboard.  It is so fast and the auto correction is so useful that it is almost as good as a real keyboard, but almost is not quite.  I mentally flirted with getting a Blackberry Priv for just this reason ... but I didn't pull the trigger.  (The reviews of the Priv's keyboard mostly said "this keyboard isn't as good as previous Blackberries) All in all a worthy upgrade.  "Hey Siri, will the iPhone 7 be available in the 5" form factor?"   [...]

∑ Sunday night

Sun, 03 Apr 2016 23:09:47 PST

It is Sunday night, and I'm blogging after a long weekend of doing stuff around my new house.  Highlights included blocking the sideyard so my dogs can't escape, coercing four big guys to move a gigantic entertainment unit upstairs (a 90o turn halfway up made this especially interesting), recovering from some crappy expansion bolts that refused to expand (details and cursing redacted), and mounting curtains so they drape onto the floor just the right amount.  Great stuff.  Oh yeah and importantly, getting my second Tivo and Slingbox working so I can watch TV in my office, while ... blogging! At right: that's not me, but it is how I feel :0 So I *finally* started watching basketball, after ignoring the NCAA tournament for two weeks.  And I watched the blowout of the world, as Villanova crushed Oklahoma by the biggest margin ever in the final four - wow, how did that happen? - and a pretty good game as North Carolina took care of business and walked away from Syracuse.  My pick for Monday night: North Carolina.  No way Villanova stays that hot and no way NC will be as cold as Oklahoma.  I think it will be a yawner, too... Victor Davis Hanson is brutal: A nation of Laws - sort of.  "The end of constitutional America comes not loudly and suddenly with jackboots and brown-shirt thugs, but more insidiously with soft-spoken totalitarians and their “noble” appeals to advancing fairness, diversity, and equality."  Scary and feels true.  Exhibit A: White House under fire for 'censoring' video of French president's speech.  This is pretty Orwellian.  As Glenn Reynolds comments, "It’s not just that they're sleazy liars. They're bad sleazy liars."  Unfortunately it's not just the US: UN names Israel as world's top human rights violator.  This would be laughable if it wasn't sad.  The UN has long ceased to be useful.  OTOH: Eric Raymond: This may be the week the SJWs lost it all.  A welcome victory for the good guys, but unfortunately the tech world is but a small corner of the real world.  This is cool: All of Apple's products ever, in one glorious infographic.  You should most definitely click through to enbiggen.  It's charming to see all of the history; I've lived it all :)  Just just bought an iPhone SE.  Lovin' it.  Stay tuned more to follow. Cult of Mac: iPhone SE proves size doesn't matter.)  Oh but it does, and that's the point.  So: Jack Welch could have bought Apple for $2B (back in 1996).  What analyses like this fail to note is that if GE had bought Apple, Apple wouldn't have become Apple.   My favorite April Fools story: Apple unveils self-driving mini electric home on wheels.  Inhabitat are on a roll :)  And also, hell now frozen: Microsoft cracks open Visual Studio to Linux C++ coders, and Xamarin now free in Visual Studio.  Excellent.  Visual Studio is the best IDE, hands down.  Not even going to add IMHO, because it's a fact.  The Tesla Model 3 unveil was amazing, did you watch?  So well done.  And crisp! - 20 minutes, tops.  So many could learn from this.  So now the Model 3 is here and it's ridiculously sexy, preorders are well on their way to 300,000.  That's twice as many as Tesla expected, and for perspective three times as many as all the cars Tesla have made so far.  Wow.  FYI: Why does the Model 3 have no instrument cluster?  "... the near complete absence of operator control displays is a logical move from Tesla because they fully anticipate their Autopilot technology to dominant the means of Model 3 operation by the car’s late 2017 rollout date..."  And last but not least: congratulations once again to Blue Origin for once again launching a rocket into [...]

not fools day

Fri, 01 Apr 2016 09:14:47 PST

(image) Hi everyone - it's April 1, so this will be the one day where we question everything and try to figure out if it's actually true.  In other words, this is the one day we are not fools!  Have a great day :)


the future has arrived!

Thu, 31 Mar 2016 21:05:41 PST


∑ Wednesday, 03/30/16 11:22 PM

Wed, 30 Mar 2016 23:22:54 PST

Long day today, up with the sun, gone with the wind...  (she always said I was crazy :) So tomorrow is the BIG DAY.  You know what I'm talking about, I know you do...  and I know you're excited.  Tune in, 8:30PM tomorrow night, for the live unveiling.  There are people reserving theirs in Australia right now :)  In re Chirality, yes it is weird.  And how weird is it that space exhibits this property.  Left and Right are *not* like Up and Down.  A peek behind the curtain: Another climate alarmist admits real motive behind warming scare.  "'One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.  This has almost nothing to do with the environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole,' said former United Nations climate official Ottmar Edenhofer.  So what is the goal of environmental policy?  'We redistribute de facto the world's wealth by climate policy,' said Edenhofer."  Oh.  The NY Times reaches peak cluelessness: Who will become a terrorist?  Research yields few clues.  It would be funnier if people didn't keep getting killed.  From 2013: John Mulaney on Donald Trump.  "I bet when Donald Trump makes a decision, he says to himself, what would a cartoon rich person do?"  Nailed it.  John Mulaney is so good.  Important work: All sixteen Pixar movies, ranked.  #1 is Up, and #16 is Cars 2, and I agree with both.  My biggest issue with this list is putting Toy Story 2 at #9.  That's one of my all-time favorites.  YMMV!    [ You are reading the "aggregated" RSS feed for Critical Section, with one item for all posts in a day.If you would prefer the "splintered" RSS feed, with separate items for each post, please use this link instead. ] [...]


Wed, 30 Mar 2016 15:59:45 PST



when left and right become entangled


∑ Brrr

Tue, 29 Mar 2016 23:29:00 PST

Spring!  Brrr...  Good thing I got our Nest working.  (A simple matter of a blown fuse, buried deep within the HVAC unit...)  Meanwhile, it's all happening... What we know about the Tesla Model 3 (due to be unveiled Thursday).  A better headline would be, what we don't know... since we don't know much.  One of the more interesting questions is whether Model 3 owners can use the Tesla Supercharger Network (most likely, yes) and whether they'll have to pay when they do (most likely, yes).  The BMW Isetta (IZA) is being resurrected as an electronic vehicle.  Awesome!  My Mom owned an IZA as her first car, back when I was born; teeny, three wheels, door in the front ... what's not to love?  Okay:  Republicans better pay attention to Bernie.  If it weren't for Donald Trump, the big story in this election cycle would be Bernie Sanders' increasingly successful challenge to Hillary Clinton.  Maybe it will be Trump vs Sanders?  4,000 people have signed a petition to allow guns inside the arena at the Republican National Convention.  Why not?  Five hard questions facing Oculus Rift.  Yeah, it's too expensive, and yeah, you have to wear a [tethered] headset*, and yeah, you need a powerful desktop to run it.  But yeah, it is going to stimulate a lot of VR content, and get the chicken-and-egg hardware-and-content ball rolling...  * This picture is cute but one thing it gets crucially wrong; when wearing an Oculus, you can't see, and others cannot see you. Bitcoin rival Ethereum climbed 1,000% in 3 months, crossing $1B in value.  The interesting thing about Ethereum is that it features a more powerful embedded transaction set which is more usable for Smart Contracts.  Whether that will cause it to "tip" remains to be seen ... I'm betting, no.  Powerful things come in tiny packages, and this mini-Linux computer for $39 proves it.  It's so cute!  Ed Driscoll has Gone to Texas (from Milpitas, California).  "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."   California sucks, but it *is* better than every other place :)  Especially because it is so nice and ... warm.  Brrr...  [ You are reading the "aggregated" RSS feed for Critical Section, with one item for all posts in a day.If you would prefer the "splintered" RSS feed, with separate items for each post, please use this link instead. ] [...]

∑ virtual Easter

Sun, 27 Mar 2016 22:53:17 PST

Happy Easter!  In which we celebrate the resurrection of the son of God by eating chocolate bunnies...  or are we celebrating spring fertility by hunting for hidden eggs?  Not clear.  At least Easter is a nice opportunity to get together with your family, enjoy a great dinner with some nice wine, and reflect on the nature of the universe... So, the Oculus Rift is out!  Yes I am getting one, despite not being a gamer; I can't wait.  I believe it may be the first iPod or iPhone or iPad of a whole new product category, VR devices.  But two things limit it, the form factor (people are NOT going to end up wearing headsets, I just know that) and the need for a powerful desktop PC to drive it (people are NOT going to buy powerful desktop PCs for VR).  The tech issues will get resolved.  I just wonder about the form factor.  Maybe VR rooms are going to be the future. They have issues too though, but more comfortable and more social. Will be most interesting to watch this play out.  There are many things VR can do besides gaming...  While moving I found my Amazon Kindle.  Not my new one that I use every day for reading outside, but my original Kindle.  It gave me goosebumps.  Still works, and works well as a way to read a book.  But I so remember getting it, it was 2008, and I was going to Brazil on a business trip, and it was a cool way to bring a bunch of books and a Portuguese dictionary and maps of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro with me. During that trip I had this epiphany, the ebook form factor was great, but the ability to *instantly* access new content was a game changer. Someone mentions a book, and poof! you can download and read it. When you first put on a VR headset – whether a Cardboard or a Rift – you have this "wow this is cool" experience.  As I noted I'm not sure the headset form factor is perfect, but for now it is what it is.  I do think that as with ebooks and music and all sorts of other content, the ability to *instantly* access new content is going to be incredible.  Say we are talking about Madagascar.  With VR, poof! we can go there*.  Say we are talking about designing a new bathroom.  With VR, poof! we can see what it would look like.  Say we are talking about a cool new car.  With VR, poof! we can see the car, and we can even drive it.  It is going to be so cool.  The VR content industry is going to be much bigger than the VR hardware industry. * I do still want to visit Madagascar in person, and I probably will.  But probably not Mars. Here's why the next SpaceX launch isn't just about the booster landing.  It's also about the Bigelow Aerospace expandable habitat.  The picture at left shows it [virtually] attached to the ISS.  These "living spaces for space" have significant advantages in size and weight.  Excellent.  Scott "Dilbert" Adams: The Elbonian Zombie virus.  "Now here’s the interesting part.  What is the functional difference between the Elbonian Zombie Virus and radical Islamic terrorism?  In both cases they are spread by prolonged personal contact. In both cases you have no way to identify infected people until there are symptoms. In both cases the “virus” is deadly to both the person infected and those around them."  Adams is on fire as a blogger.  Religions are a mental virus, and idea I first encountered in Susan Blackmore's excellent (and under-appreciated) The Meme Machine, an intellectual follow-on to Richard Dawkins The Selfish Gene.  This way of looking at them is amazingly insightful.  News item: Californi[...]

Meg epiphany

Sat, 26 Mar 2016 23:58:40 PST

(image) Me: Hi Meg, what's up?

Meg: I had an epiphany about quantum mechanical entanglement.

Me: Whoa.

(I love my kids :)


∑ Saturday, 03/26/16 10:56 PM

Sat, 26 Mar 2016 22:56:02 PST

It's Saturday night, I'm exhausted after a long day of unpacking and moving furniture, and ... I'm blogging. Goodbye to Johan Cruyff, the flying Dutchman, who invented and personified "total football".  I'm not a soccer fan but Paul Mirengoff is, and remembers the Dutch master.  Sixth anniversary: Obamacare was going to lower health care costs; what actually happened.  What happened is what always happens when the government steps in and fixes prices, costs go up, quality goes down.  The best way to lower health care costs is to let the market work.  And no, the market wasn't allowed to work before Obamacare either; Medicare essentially acts as a massive price fixing program. In case you're wondering, how will Cygnus spacecraft dock to space station?  Cool.  Cygnus will carry almost 7,500 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbiting laboratory.  NASA: Fun facts about Mars.  Their Tumblr is awesome, if you're interest in space, check it out!  (Wish their manned missions were equally as cool :)  Want to visit the ISS, or Mars?  Oculus have [finally] started shipping their Rift headset.  VR is probably the best bet most of us have for space travel...  Jeff Atwood: thanks for ruining another game forever, computers.  An interesting rumination on the ever-increasing computing power of personal computers, and the ever-improving heuristics of AI.  Possibly a key part of VR and "visiting space".  Another key application for AI, self-driving cars.  This fascinating IEEE article muses that self-driving cars won't need red lights at intersections, the image at left shows the rather scary result.  I guess if could work, but whew!  Joi Ito: On Disobedience.  "Society and institutions in general tend to lean toward order and away from chaos. In the process this stifles disobedience. It can also stifle creativity, flexibility, and productive change-and in the long run-society's health and sustainability."  Great post.  The nearly invisible wires that enclose nearly all major cities of the world.  Jewish communities string the fishing line -like wires to establish "eruvs", small regions within which they can perform actions otherwise only permitted inside their homes.  What a weird custom, who knew?  From Brad Feld: Fork - a short story.  Very cool.  I love the idea that our universe is constantly forking, that each quantum mechanical decision point is instantiated both ways.  JWZ: Instagram hates the Internet.  "Instagram's design decisions are among the most user-hostile and Internet-hating that I've ever seen."  The gravitational pull of open systems is  s t r o n g.    [ You are reading the "aggregated" RSS feed for Critical Section, with one item for all posts in a day.If you would prefer the "splintered" RSS feed, with separate items for each post, please use this link instead. ] [...]

the chart of cosmic exploration

Thu, 24 Mar 2016 23:58:06 PST


Love it!
(as usual, click to enbiggenize)


∑ meta

Thu, 24 Mar 2016 23:41:10 PST

I am writing a test system for my test system. My motto: anything worth doing more than once is worth automating. (Oh, and this is not the first time that I've written a test system for testing.  But I want to avoid the hammer factory factory effect :) C|Net ask, do you think virtual reality will be bigger than phones in your digital life?  Yes, I do.  Especially if you remove the word "digital".  I think VR is going to be huge.  Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster thinks virtual reality will be the ultimate iPhone killer.  It could be... 21st century: North Carolina passes bill which limits bathroom use by birth gender.  This doesn't seem weird to me.  The great solar epic fail of all time?  "A federally backed, $2.2 billion solar project in the California desert isn't producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if it doesn't receive a break Thursday from state regulators."  $2.2B pissed away.  Also this: "California’s one remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, produces more electricity than all of California’s solar power installations combined." Meanwhile: This is the year that shale gas passes coal. Comedian Gary Schandling has passed away.  Watch this episode of him with Jerry Seinfeld in Comedians in Cars drinking Coffee, and tell me it didn't make you laugh out loud.  He was great.  From Caltech's Quantum Frontiers, Remember to take it slow.  "'Spiros, can you explain to me this whole business about time being an illusion?'  These were William Shatner’s words to me, minutes after I walked into the green room."  In which the arrow of time is revealed to be nothing more than probability.  Charles Murray: An open letter to the Virginia Tech community.  Most people who criticize the Bell Curve have never read the book.  I have, and I think it is amazing.  You should too :)  One thing I forgot to mention about the Apple Special Event, at which the iPhone SE was announced; Apple have apparently decided to create their own proprietary event broadcast software called HLS.  Isn't that special.  It was not possible to watch the presentation from Chrome.  The only supported Windows browser was Microsoft Edge (yes, seriously!)  I literally booted a VM with OS X so I could watch in Safari.  Now that cannot be good.  Interesting profile of Jeff Bezos in Fortune.  Amazon are truly unique.  Josh Newman quotes Epectictus: "If you wish to be an extraordinary person, if you wish to be wise, then you should explicitly identify the kind of person you aspire to become.  Precisely describe the demeanor you want to adopt so that you may preserve it when you are by yourself or with other people."  [ You are reading the "aggregated" RSS feed for Critical Section, with one item for all posts in a day.If you would prefer the "splintered" RSS feed, with separate items for each post, please use this link instead. ] [...]

SE edition

Tue, 22 Mar 2016 22:07:51 PST

(image) Yeah so Apple announced the 5" iPhone SE*, so now I can finally get a new phone.  Yippee!

This is a picture from December 2012, when I first bought an iPhone 5 (I've since upgraded to an iPhone 5s).  At the time I thought *it* was too big :)  Yay, smaller phones.

It was a maximally boring announcement, and many are actually wondering if this kind of incremental update shouldn't be announced via a press release instead, saving announcement events for truly new things like Apple Watch or the iCar**.


(image) The event actually started great but went downhill.  Apple did a nice little 40 years in 40 seconds video, which is kind of cool.  And Tim Cook's defense of Apple's customers' privacy was strong and unambiguous ("we will not shrink from this responsibility").

IMHO the green-ness was a little overdone.  A tepid response from the audience, and the blogosphere.  Carekit - okay, that's cool, and useful.  Points for that, but not big points. 

Then a whole range of incremental product updates: Apple Watch bands, new tvOS, 5" iPhone SE (yay, but yawn), IOS 9.3 (meh), and last but perhaps not least 9.7" iPad Pro (meh).  The most interesting thing in all of that was Apple's explicit positioning of the iPad Pro as a replacement for old PCs (by which they meant, old Windows PCs, but it could apply equally to old Macs too).  I still think iPads are great for consuming content, not for creating it.  I can't yet imagine that a tablet will be my everyday computer.  But of course for many it already is.

So what about my phone-y dreams?  Still just dreams.  Maybe truly revolutionary improvements to the smartphone will come from smaller companies.  Anyone want to embed a projector in their phone?  Or to design a new better input mechanism?  Please, go for it!

* So what does SE mean?  "SE Edition", of course :)

** The Tesla Model 3 event next week should be amazing


phone-y dreams

Mon, 21 Mar 2016 08:19:25 PST

(image) I was just ruminating on the possibilities of the just-about-to-be-announced iPhone SE.  We've all read what's coming; the iPhone SE will be a 4" phone, similar to the iPhone 5S, but with some of the improvements made in the iPhone 6: better camera, Apple Pay (NFC), A9 processor, barometer, better battery life, 3D preview.  Oh and it may be thinner and rounder and possibly come in some new interesting colors.

But if I could make my dreams a reality, what would I really want in a new phone?  Hmmm...

Smartphones have become amazing and most of the things you could dream about are evolutionary improvements: smaller / thinner / lighter / faster etc.  The real weak points now are in the human-device interface.

  • On input, something better than a virtual keyboard would be a huge advance.  Physical keyboards *are* better, at a slight cost of making the device larger, but they're a compromise.  Maybe some means of giving a virtual keyboard tactile feedback?  Or a way to use any available surface as a keyboard (laser etc)?  Or something brand new ... a direct neural link!
  • On output, a built-in projector which enables a larger display than the phone screen would be great.  Oh, and cordless earphones.

We'll check on this later today after the announcement :)

PS of course, I'd love it if IOS 10 looked like IOS 5, but that *would* be dreaming