Thursday, April 28, 2011

Animated Physics

Piled Higher & Deeper comics created a great animation to go along with an interview with Jonathan Feng. A fun look at where we in the realm of physics research. If you're a physics geek, though, you'll be a bit bored as it's very high-level. But the animations that go with this are still worth watching.

Dark Matters from PHD Comics on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Maybe I should pursue this career option?

Thoughts on SSDs

Received yet another ad for SSDs (solid-state hard-drives). I'd love to have the benefits: faster boot times, less heat/more battery, longer life. As cool as a solid state drive is, I'm not sure I can justify the costs. Or, to bring the costs in line, lower my used disk space. As I think, though, I can see something of a work-around. Go with the smallest SSD I can justify, but then use the cloud, or an external hard-drive, or both for the bulk of my information storage. Also, bodes the question of "why do I save so much data?"

I do save nearly everything. That goes way back, though. Every so often, I purge my 4 drawer file cabinet. Yet I have years worth of receipts, various miscellaneous files. My data hoarding goes back to hard-copy days. And, perhaps, it's time for that to end.

I think of the times that that one, random file, saved has been either helpful, or has saved my butt. Producing that email saying "I want you to do 'x'" was perfect when a manager was yelling at me (during a meeting) about why I had done 'x'. A few times, yet meaningful. Perhaps the positive response to this reinforced a pack-rat mentality, or the fear that this one document will be the one that saves me. issue in-and-of itself.

More reflection is needed for me to know if this is need for data space, and fear-driven, or simply "I don't have the cash for buying un-needed technology right now". Perhaps someday I'll flesh this out further. Perhaps. Someday.

Monday, April 25, 2011


I just watched part of a show about 9/11 conspiracy theories (click here for more). Now, I'm no engineer (though have a great deal of related training), so am disinclined to argue the facts on either side of this debate. I lean towards to official story, though, My main criteria for this? For such a secret to be maintained would truly be a revolutionary event. These same people who can't keep secret the next speech are going to keep THIS under wraps? The divergent and conflicting agendas within the federal government will work together in this instance?

Now, if there is some shadow org affecting such actions, the ramifications are amazing. Keeping such secrets with actions that would work across departments is something unique. Perhaps it's possible. It escapes my observations, though.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


After several attempts to over-generalize my key-fobs functionality (front door >2x, mailbox, store-front, kitchen lights), I started wondering how awesome life would be with remote control of every major appliance. Kitchen lights reflecting on my computer screen? Click! Hands full and trying to get in the house? Click! Mailbox? Yep, Click! Oh, wouldn't life be so much easier?

Well, no. Imagine the way such could be executed. Either multiple fobs for each action. I'm imagining an electronic age version of the jailers key ring. Or walking with a universal remote that's more like an iPad. Not very practical after all.

Wait! How about an implant wired to your nervous system? We're not quite there yet, but we can see the proverbial light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel for this (though faintly). Imagine that world. Need the lights on? Just think it. Etc, etc, etc. But, besides the risk of infection, what other issues would this bring? First, the Revelation/bible based "mark" that would get a significant part of our population in a tizzy. Regardless, I'm unlikely to elect this "service", if ever offered. Mainly for security. Think how insecure data is right now. And we're going to let this technology access our minds? Not mine!

Are you going to be at the front of the line to get your mind hard-wired to the net? Going to trade everything in for guns and a cabin in the high woods and wait for Skynet to come online? Or somewhere in between?

Random thoughts on a Sunny Saturday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

See What I'm Saying is Coming To Portland

If you're in the Portland, OR area in May, check this out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Medical Industrial Complex

Just watched a spot for a prescription eye-lash grower. Watching it makes me think of the treatments for gas, hair-loss, and all sorts of trivial ailments. Seems rather superfluous and silly. Clearly, even such a noble endeavor as medicine looses its ethical compass in the face of profit.

How do we get treatments developed for serious diseases that don’t have large markets? The invisible hand won’t bring them about. A disease, no matter how dreadful its affects and the suffering it causes, that only has a minute number of “customers” won’t attract the medical industrial complex. Is there any way to build these treatments, products? To alleviate these diseases and mitigate suffering? This ethical concern is one, unspoken, draw for me towards a nationalized (perhaps globalized?) system. I hope that we could find a non-socialized system.

La Vida Smartphona

One of my Facebook chums just got her first smartphone (an Android for those keeping score at home). Thus, she was looking for some suggestions to get the best use of the thing. Which got me thinking; and that's a dangerous thing. I gave her some pointers, but kept it brief out of respect for her Wall. But, since this is my blog and I can do whatever-the-heck-I-want, I'm going to elaborate.

Smartphones have been a key part of my life for years. It was a small conversion at the time, as I had Palm & HP handhelds before. Shifting from two small devices to one was wondrous. Geekous maximus. In the smartphone realm, my first was a Treo, then to Blackberries (when Treos finally annoyed me enough). Then I got a iPhone, followed with a brief foray into Windows (both a WinMo 6.1 & the WP7). So, I think I know how to use the devices efficiently.

Anyway, here are the basics of how I use mine. Some things I've used for years, some are only germane now with post iPhone smartphones.

  • email: should be evident. It's dangerous, though, to be always online.

  • calendar: my phone is my calendar. It's always with me, so I'm able to commit to time requests right off. My wife and I send each other appointments so we know when we have larger commitments. Also, I'm now very dependent on alarms. It's synced, of course.

  • to-dos: I downloaded a feature rich to-do app since this is critical for me. Pop-up reminders are important for me on this, too.

  • Notes: having notes that sync to my computer has become critical for me. I also take voice memos and having a tool that integrates them all is priceless.

  • Traffic/GPS: it's great to be able to check traffic as I'm walking to my car, or for my navigator to check while I'm on the road. There've been a few times where the GPS directions have really helped me out.

  • financial: my bank and broker have apps, which are quite helpful. Not life-or-death, but quite slick.

  • I love Urban Spoon and Yelp! for guidance when dining out. They're really useful when I'm in a town I don't know.

  • music: when the iPhone first came out (I held out for a cycle, keeping my Blackberry), I downloaded some music to see the value. I thought the convergence of phone and music player to be dumb. My notions have mollified. Now, I use my iPhone's iPod all the time. I especially like podcasts during my commute.

  • games: invaluable tool to kill time in lines, the dmv, et al.

  • reading: relatively new to me, using the phone as a reader has been a boon in times of boredom (see above).

  • This has been a simple stream-of-consciousness list. Hardly all-inclusive. Have anything you want to add? Drop a note in the comments. I'd love to hear it.

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    An Edmonds Kind Of Day

    This afternoon I chose to stroll along the waterfront in Edmonds. A lovely, quiet downtown, I enjoy taking an hour or so to walk along the beach, past the marina, enjoying the views. Today, though, was unique. First, I heard the (surprisingly loud) cries of eagles. The nesting pairs of bald eagles are back. They followed my path for quite some time. Of course, my walk took me a block from their aerie. The several other walkers and I conjectured the crows trying to dissuade the eagles from their nest were doomed to fail.

    The entirety of my walk was haunted by the eagles, but they weren't my only wild moment. A small family of sea-lions were passing outside the marina. And, lastly, at the end of the waterside stroll of my sojourn, I watched an otter in the Sound. I adore these wild moments, brought to me right in the heart of town. Solid reminders of why I love it here.

    How to be an Analyst

    I zipped out a snarky answer on TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) and thought I'd share...I am rather proud.

    (Setting the scene: Gwydion commented that "I want a job as analyst, I can say any silly thing and be paid for it" [comment #1])

    "Gwydion, it's not quite that easy. First, you need to collect copious amounts of BS data. Proceed to dump into the spreadsheet of your choice. Then torture this into the most eye-burning/bleeding set of graphics and slides that you can. That is a critical step, for it instills a sciencey note (giving credibility) and causes intense dizziness, which enables you to use your hypnotic skills (there's an app for that, I'm sure). Then just make sure to include that Steve Jobs is/will be giving Steve Ballmer an economic wedgie and off you go."

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Arts, Crafts and My Office Supplies

    I adore my son, and love his creativity. It does, however, grate on me (somewhat) the toll this takes on my office supplies. I can’t find a single, unbent paper clip right now. Yesterday it was all the letter-sized paper gone, GONE from the printer. A few weeks back: every staple in the house (2 boxes!) had been consumed in some mad-scientist/artist scheme.

    That goes with the pounds of paper scraps littering the floor. And the piles, PILES of various half-done crafts (that I recycle at my peril). ’Tis the perilous life a modern father.

    Sunday, April 10, 2011

    Relationship Management

    Just read on Chris Brogan’s site a serious critique of Amazon’s Cloud Service. Reminded me of an insight I had while researching web presence for a Fortune 500 company. Every company at that scale has a web presence and reputation/status. That extends pretty far down the pipeline, too. Most every company has some presence on the web (I’m sure there are a few that the web is completely ignorant of, but I expect that to be challenging to find).

    Consider how many people use the web for research. Whether prospective new hires, students or activists, people will find all kinds of information about your institution on the web. Therefore, community management/social media management is critical for a company. At least one person should be scouring the web looking for opportunities to discuss the company, it’s products/services, and address issues. This must be fully transparent, however. Dialog needs to include both the positive and negative. Oh, and yes there are vile trolls out there. They exist whether you engage or not. Ignoring them let’s them control your company’s web image. Also, there are valid and useful critiques.

    Activists of many issues have the ability to look at a company quite deeply. Transparency exists, whether you want it to or not. It’s not really that easy to track down in depth information, but it is possible. So, no matter what company you are and how tightly you try to control information, there is a great deal of “stuff” out there about you. Controlling the message has become impossible. The best thing you can do is engage forthrightly. And, of course, make sure your company is operating in an ethical and morally sustainable way.

    Seriously, a negative critique is an opportunity to engage. If done well, it can build a fan. If not, it provides an opportunity to damage your reputation and relationship. Building and maintaining positive relationships requires active, and proactive engagement. There must be dialog (2 way discussion). Yes, really, the company must LISTEN. PR & Marketing need to be about managing relationships and less about “making the sale”. There needs to be a genuine desire for relationship. BS is easily detected and mass communicated.

    Just be open, clear and ethical. Accept the “message” is out of your control, but that you can influence perception. If that influence is propaganda, it will be easily sniffed out and blown to pieces. Open, true two-way discussion works. The corporate mind just needs to stop being so afraid.

    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    Are All Questions "Good"

    I've long found the statement "that's a good question" to be obnoxious. As I tend to think questions through, trying to answer them on my own, I find the statement redundant. However, I'm rethinking that annoyance. There are bad questions. Asking questions that whose answer is evident are a particular bane of mine.

    A good question has some basic pieces: thoughtfulness, insightfulness, and (if its particularly good) the answerer learns something. Good questions show that you've paid attention and have considered things.

    A bad question is one based in intellectual laziness. Asking questions to avoid thinking, researching, etc, is obnoxious. So, think before you ask.


    Friday, April 08, 2011

    Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination view ii

    Today was round 2 at the Pacific Science Center's Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibit. I had my eight-year-old and one of his best friends, which added a nice balance to my experience. I, perhaps, have over studied SW. Done the comparisons to Jung, read many of the side stories, and a number of the manuals. I have an extended knowledge of the Universe. Perhaps I could have used that time and energy towards something that would've cured cancer or netted me a couple of million, but I digress.

    The boys bring a new perspective to SW. The prequels have always existed to them. The dialogs I had after Phantom Menace would be absurd to then. "Palpatine really becomes the Emperor? They don't make him seem menacing at all." as an example.

    I enjoyed the models and the supporting video about production. And the way they connected this to real science was pretty cool; things like space-craft and robotics. I think the boys liked the gift shop best, sadly.

    It was a nice way to spend a spring break day. Especially considering our spate of cold wet weather. Spent it with hundreds (thousands?) of other families, though. Overstimulation central!

    Monday, April 04, 2011

    Resumes and Such

    Currently, my job search is focused on agencies. What's amusing to me is how antithetical to all the resume prevailing wisdom agency resumes need to be. You don't want to be TOO focused. Quite to the contrary, they should be broad. That resume gets sent around for various positions, often without any prompting from you. A sufficiently broad focused resume gives their recruiter the ability to send your resume out to a variety of firms. Just my thoughts...I don't intend to bill myself as a resume expert!

    Saturday, April 02, 2011

    Thoughts on April Fools Day

    A friend of mine ruminated on Facebook whether it was appropriate to celebrate the “lies” of April 1. My first worry was that she, and her chums in the negative (I was the lone dissenting voice), were in dire danger of becoming humorless drones. But then I wondered, as I often do, the deeper points of what she was writing. Is April Fools' Day really, REALLY about celebrating deception and lies? Well, for me at least, no. Actually, the beauty of April Fools is creativity. There’s an elegance and sophistication behind the truly artful prank. Therein lies the fun. A well done AF prank is about more than how many people are deceived. Also, I add “points” for the level of outrageousness to the assertion, or the depth of the deception. With that is the effort and skill behind any supporting work for the prank; whether Photoshop, a video, what-have-you. Important, for me at least, is the absence of malice. A good prank should not be about hurting or humiliating anyone.

    Ultimately, what I value most is creativity and wit. The best April Fools pranks are just that; a celebration of clever minds and the creation of great material.

    Friday, April 01, 2011

    Scalp Massage

    Scalp Massage, originally uploaded by carl.setzer.

    He's just chirping away happily.