Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why should I develop for your platform?

So the iPhone seems like a pretty cool platform. As a programmer who may have some spare freelance cycles in the near future, the possibility of developing applications for such a cool, cutting edge platform certainly seems enticing. The problem, though, is Apple seems to want to hold all of the cards in terms of distribution. Not only do they decide whether or not your app can be distributed via their store, but the decision making process is completely opaque. There are no published standards, so developers can't do their homework and make sure Apple will distribute their application before they invest time and money to develop it. And as near as anyone can tell, especially without a clear message from Apple to the contrary, a number of the decisions not to distribute an app seem to be an effort to squash competition. Articles like this are all too common these days.

Certainly, users can jailbreak their iPhone and run any application they want to, including those not sanctioned by Apple, but who really wants to invest time and effort to develop a product that your users can't buy unless they illegally hack their own phone?

Now, certainly, the more hot applications there are out there for Apple's undeniably hot, new platform, the more attractive that platform is going to be for Apple's customers. So my question is, if this is how Apple is going to treat developers, why the hell should I spend any time at all developing for their platform? Unless Apple makes some moves to seriously welcome developers, develop some straight forward and transparent processes, and generally open up the distribution channels, I don't see that it makes any sense for any developer to spend time and money developing for the iPhone, regardless of how sexy it is. I guess I'm just not into being bent over by giant corporations. How about you?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


More or less what I was thinking, albeit in a far more developed way. It's interesting to me how both the American and British press rarely mentions that this round of hostilities was initiated by Georgia in a pretty brutal attack, killing 1400 people. While Russia is overreacting, we're not really in a position to tell them they shouldn't have reacted. Assuming we're not willing to confront the Russian army in a direct military confrontation, there's not really much we can do. And if Saakashvili thinks he can so easily manipulate the US into an armed confrontation with Russia, I would hope, at least, that he is sadly mistaken. It in no way serves our interests to try to bail Saakashvili out of this horribly misguided blunder. If he thought there could have been any result other than that which has played out so far, then he is, to put it bluntly, a moron. We can't come running to his rescue just because he had the bad judgement to poke a mean, giant bear with a stick.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


If you you've stopped reading this blog because nobody's been posting anything to it, well, then I guess you just missed this.

Friday, July 11, 2008


The server version of Mac OSX 10.6, codenamed Snow Leopard and due out "in about a year", includes support for ZFS, a filesystem developed in the last few years by Sun that they have included in their Solaris operating system and made open source. ZFS was intentionally designed to have theoretical limits that far outstrip what we can actually do with hardware, meaning, essentially, that we will never run out of room. ZFS uses 128 bit addressing, which in layman's terms means the amount of data you can store in a single ZFS is friggin' huge. How huge? Well, apparently boil the oceans huge. This quote from Jeff Bonwick, the team lead for the ZFS project, sums it up thusly:
"Although we'd all like Moore's Law to continue forever, quantum mechanics imposes some fundamental limits on the computation rate and information capacity of any physical device. In particular, it has been shown that 1 kilogram of matter confined to 1 litre of space can perform at most 1051 operations per second on at most 1031 bits of information.[10] A fully populated 128-bit storage pool would contain 2128 blocks = 2137 bytes = 2140 bits; therefore the minimum mass required to hold the bits would be (2140 bits) / (1031 bits/kg) = 136 billion kg. To operate at the 1031 bits/kg limit, however, the entire mass of the computer must be in the form of pure energy. By E=mc², the rest energy of 136 billion kg is 1.2x1028 J. The mass of the oceans is about 1.4x1021 kg. It takes about 4,000 J to raise the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 degree Celsius, and thus about 400,000 J to heat 1 kg of water from freezing to boiling. The latent heat of vaporization adds another 2 million J/kg. Thus the energy required to boil the oceans is about 2.4x106 J/kg * 1.4x1021 kg = 3.4x1027 J. Thus, fully populating a 128-bit storage pool would, literally, require more energy than boiling the oceans."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Monster keeps quiet

I was curious to see what had ever happened with the Blue Jeans Cable Company and their fight with Monster Cable. It appears that Monster has not cared to press the matter further. If I weren't such a cheap bastard I'd buy a pair of RCA cables from them, because I actually could use a pair. I can still build my own for less then a tenth of what I'd pay for Blue Jeans to make them for me, though. And I already have the materials, so that's almost like free.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Basic ideas are generally applicable. Think music as well. Or whatever it is you do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sense of entitlement

Do you remember back in the 80s when the Republicans would rail against a straw poor man (or usually, woman, actually), decrying a sense of entitlement, as though there were masses of lazy, poor people that expected hand outs for not working? Well, I've said it before and I'll say it again. No one feels more of a sense of entitlement than the rich.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Moment of Silence for the Magna Carta Please

This evening, in a bombastic climax of measures that have been gradually chipping away at civil liberties for several years now, the government of the nation that brought you habeas corpus decided that after more than 790 years the magna carta just isn’t cool anymore. Gordon Brown and his cronies managed to get the measure through the Commons in spite of the 37 Labour MPs that rebelled against the whip and voted no (that’s a very high number of rebels for a Commons vote and it probably would have been higher had Brown not won over several individual Labour back-benchers with promises related to completely irrelevant issues, such as sanctions against Cuba). They won by nine votes, not coincidentally the exact same number as there are Democratic Unionist Party (Northern Irish) MPs—the DUP left their decision on the amendments quite literally to the last minute, after a private meeting with Gordon Brown in which he very probably struck some sort of deal with them. Their lips are sealed, but the accusations are flying--did Brown promise them more money for Nothern Ireland? Non-interference from Westminster on Northern Irish abortion law? Whatever it was, it can't have been worth it, and at the rate things are going he may not even be in power long enough to keep any promises made. The freedom of an entire nation has been sold for a handful of magic beans…

Here's the timeline of events that kept me distracted from work all day.

The Greatest Experiment Ever

20 years, 12 isolated populations, 44,000 generations, 1 common ancestor - this experiment will hopefully inspire the young scientists of the future. With a "saved game" every 500 generations that can be reloaded and replayed on-demand, this type of good science should resonate with Civilization players and sim gamers of all stripes.

The ways that different types genetic mutations manifest themselves in individuals and, ultimately, whole populations are still not well-known. An incredibly well-planned and well-executed study like this could start to reveal a larger picture of genetic mechanics, and link it even more closely to the end product of evolution.

Nature, not for the squeamish

From the jungles of Brazil comes a story that sounds more like an alien invasion movie than a real life insect drama. Scientists have discovered that the pupae of a parasitic wasp can modify the behavior of their host, a particular species of caterpillar, turning the hapless victim into a kind of zombie body guard. Read all about it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Wu Chess

Friends, Nerds, Hip Hop Fans . . .

Hmm, interesting

Another energy proposal.

As note elsewhere on this blog, it's very difficult for democratic governments to impose pain and suffering on it's people, even when the aim is to alleviate much worse pain and suffering down the road. IE making energy more expensive in the near term is a hard pill to swallow for the American people, making it difficult to leverage supply and demand by artificial means to
curb consumption. Yet, curbing consumption is potentially necessary for the continued existence of human life on the planet and is likely needed for at least the continued survival of an American society. Those are awfully big stakes.

So the interesting part about this one is that while it does raise the price of energy, which, like it or not, is probably necessary, it rewards those who use less with direct financial gain. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.


The most recent semi-arbitrary milestone in computing has been passed, with a military supercomputer smashing through the 1-petaflop barrier. It was originally feared that the computer may become self-aware, engage Skynet and declare a war of extermination on humanity, ultimately resulting in an Austrian governor in California. But fortunately it turns out the main processing load is carried by some 12000 modified IBM Cell chips, which is of course the main processor for Sony's Playstation 3, so at worst we can expect a nationwide shortage of Doritos, Mountain Dew and bong hits as the new computer gets to work.

Analysts are amazed at the new technology, which will somehow allow researchers to determine if aging nuclear weapons will spontaneously self-detonate (*crossing fingers!*). Even more amazing is that the military actually managed to plan and execute a project within budget, with no reliance on propaganda and relatively few casualties. However, in what some may perceive as a setback, the computer opened its first session by raising the national terror alert to "garden chartreuse" and advising a preemptive nuclear strike on Tehran.

A petaflop is one quadrillion processor-level calculations per second. This type of speed can be harnessed by scientists to unravel the great mysteries of our time, like very large primes research, advanced cryptography (which is closely related to very large primes research) and I guess maybe something about global warming, just as soon as SimEarth 2: Terraflopping Boogaloo is released. By comparison, if every atom in an average human body was turned into a calculator capable of 1 calculation per second, the result would be a supercomputer still 7 trillion times faster than the Los Alamos-based Roadrunner, so, obviously we still have a long way to go.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The "Star Wars" Strategy

I haven't read or seen much about this in the MSM, but word on the street (and simple logic) indicate that Obama, with his formidable fund-raising machine, may launch in the general election a strategy similar to the one he employed in the primary, notably in Pennsylvania: Spend scads of money, even in your opponent's "base" territory, forcing them to do the same. McCain will therefore exhaust his resources on defense, leaving Obama to clean up in the battleground states. Because this, and not technical efficacy per se, was the net result of the Strategic Defense Initiative, affectionately remembered as "Star Wars," this strategy of just bankrupting your opponent has become known as the "Star Wars" strategy. It might be cooler if they could just fight with light sabers though. McCain can't lift up his arms. No one ever accused democracy of being efficient!

I am a sore loser

This aired 5/10/08.

Would you wear your own underwear?

Of course we all wear underwear owned by us, but would you wear underwear screen-printed as a tribute to you? Obama reportedly won't, even if it's free. Of course, I imagine Obama can afford the underwear of his choice at this point. This is a clip from Mike Allen's Playbook on Politico.com:

FOR ROBERT GIBBS’ BOOK, from the N.Y. Daily News: “A trendy underwear designer started selling Barack Obama boxer-briefs Thursday, promising to donate $1 from each $29 sale to the Democrat's coffers. The slim-fit undies by Andrew Christian sport a Che Guevaraesque silhouette of the senator's face on the front and the numbers '08 on the back. ‘I'm not sure I'd wear those even underneath my clothes,’ Obama's communications director, Robert Gibbs, said when shown a photo of the skivvies. ‘Wow!’ he added, taking a moment to chuckle. ‘Those are virtually indescribable. They're probably really hip and expensive.’ The designer mailed a package of complimentary unmentionables to Obama - so the Daily News asked if he would wear them. ‘No!’ Gibbs replied quickly. ‘That would be really weird.’

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Talk, talk, talk.

Democracy, unfortunately, can be ill equipped to deal with looming environmental problems. The fact of the matter is that we're not going to get through this without some pain and sacrifice. Elected officials can't inflict pain on their constituents and expect to get reelected, so we end up not making the necessary sacrifices while it's still early enough to do any good.

What is really required is someone in a position of leadership who is intelligent, passionate and eloquent enough to convince people that sacrifice is necessary for our survival and is our patriotic duty. Might there be someone like that just around the corner? Is it January 2009 yet?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

IHT and Editing

In what is by far one of the most egregious errors I've run across in professional journalism, the International Herald Tribune today couldn't keep Iran and Iraq straight in their headline to this article. Just in case they fix this before you see it, at the time of this post, the headline of the article reads, "Harsh report on Iraqi nuclear program raises alarm."



Saturday, May 24, 2008

If you can't beat them, join them ...

So a few years ago, these art-inclined folks were up in arms about the redevelopment of downtown Providence, RI, in the form of a behemoth mall. They watched the mall go up. Then, they had an idea. They moved in! And stayed for four years!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

VEEP--I'll make the call.

Four years ago when Obama addressed the Democratic Convention, I declared aloud "That man will be our next president!" Well, now I'm prepared to make a prediction for VP, for anyone who cares. He has extensive military experience, will help with those pesky toothless Appalachian voters (hey, I'm allowed to be elitist!) and he is the epitome of centrism and bipartisanship. And on all the key issues he seems to be in synch with Obama. Stay tuned, kids!

An interview on NPR.

A summary of his positions.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cool. Not Cool.

Let's play cool, not cool. I'll go first.


Not cool.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Monster gets owned

I love this letter. I don't need any RCA cables but I may need to buy some from Blue Jean cable anyway.

Nerds Win!

This article clearly is comparing different species, rather than individuals within the same species. Of course, that won't stop us over here at The Nerd Show from feeling a little smug.

First time ever

Underestimating the intelligence of the American public doesn't pay off.

NYT Article.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now listening to: "Antique Glow" by Kelley Stoltz

So, L and I went to go see The Dirtbombs, Dirty Little Heaters and Kelley Stoltz at the Local 506 the week before last. I'd never heard of Kelley Stoltz before, but I ended up being more or less won over by the end of the set. More or less pop music with nice full, interesting arrangements. I wasn't sure if I really needed the record or not, but figured, what the hell, if I'm going to buy it, might as well buy it from the band, so I get the latest record, Circular Sounds, which features cover art highly reminiscent of Captain Beefheart's Safe as Milk album, and the record before that, Antique Glow.

Circular Sounds is alright. It pretty much is what their live show sounds like these days--I like it but I don't know if I'll be compelled to listen to it over and over again. Antique Glow, on the other hand has turned out to be surprisingly great--a nice swampy, folky, hippy freak out thing. I'm really digging it. Liner notes say it was recorded on a Tascam 388, which is probably partly responsible for it sounding so warm and nice.

That's all.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Clean Energy Scam

This is dead serious here folks. My friend Jeff, an EPA scientist, really wants for you to read and understand this article. The importance of understanding this cannot be overemphasized.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Drink your nuts!

File this one under stuff that everyone probably already knew except for me. Turns out cola drinks are (or used to be) flavored with kola, hence the name. I'd been wondering what that flavor was.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Free Lunch

Got this one from the boss. Considering we've been able to make free energy since 2002, I'm not sure why we don't all have MEGS.

Cool simulation

This movie from this page is pretty cool. Try making it full screen and covering one eye while watching it. Your brain, without the second eye, is no longer using binocular vision for 3d and is relying on other queues instead, which makes the movie seem to have a lot of real 3 dimensional depth. You can literally see into it.

And speaking of particle simulators, this one is pretty fun.

Barking up the Wrong Tree

Barking up the wrong tree. An interesting expression, really. Nice use of canine imagery. The idiomatic meaning, of course, that one mistakenly believes the source of and solution to a problem lie in one sphere, when, in fact, the cause and solution lie in a different sphere entirely. You won't find the answer because you are looking in the wrong place.

The thing is, have you ever seen a dog bark up a tree before? What if you are barking up the right tree? The location of that squirrel, or pussy cat, or other object of canine fancy has been correctly identified. That pussy cat is up that tree. Yet, all of the barking in the world, is not going to capture that pussy cat, or squirrel, or bird, whatever the hell it is. It would seem that the success rate for barking up any tree is incredibly low, regardless of the wrongness or rightness of said tree. Arguably, barking up a tree isn't really the correct approach in the first place.


Two Faced Baby Worshiped as God

Saturday, April 5, 2008

At least we have an ally

We're all sadly aware of how woefully ignorant Americans are about geography, history and world affairs. Studies are published frequently which cite the alarming statistics. Well, it turns out that our brothers and sisters across the pond are not necessarily any more clever. British teens were quizzed and a fifth of them believed that, among other things, Winston Churchill was a fictional character! Also, over half believed that Sherlock Holmes was real. At least we don't have to feel so lonely over here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


This is an old post, but I'd never seen it before. The only real upshot, though, seems to be now Gitmo detainees just don't get tried at all, now that secret military tribunals have been declared illegal. Got habeas corpus?


So yesterday during my, uhmm, lunch break, I read the coding documentation for Jesusonic, a dynamically compiled audio plugin architecture that is integrated with Reaper. This seriously put my geek jones into high gear.

So last night after bowling I came home, whipped out a text editor, and got to hacking. I didn't come up with anything that hadn't been done before, or, to be honest, wasn't already included with Reaper, but it was very cool to be able to make a code change, hit recompile in Reaper, and hear the results immediately. Really, really cool. And in 30 minutes I had written three plugins. Granted, incredibly basic ones, that do things other plugins already do, but ones that I will use nonetheless. And it was a great, fun, little exercise.

The msdecode and msencode plugins are related to mid-side matrixing--something I do on nearly every session now, as mid-side has become my stereo microphone configuration of choice in the last couple of years.

I do have a couple of ideas for some things that are a bit more original, but first I need to wrap my brain around FFTs before I can do anything with them.

Monday, March 31, 2008

It could all be over in the blink of an eye

A court in Hawaii will be hearing a lawsuit claiming the agencies building the large hadron collider, expected to go online in May after 14 years and $8 billion worth of construction, haven't done enough to ensure the collider won't produce a tiny black hole which will swallow the earth.

In the event of the unthinkable, however, this author predicts that we will not be inconvenienced for longer than a few microseconds.

Luckily there are people already thinking ahead to a course of action should a black hole ever come looking for us.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eastern Europe Salutes Skynyrd

If this isn't the weirdest thing you've seen all week, then you've had a pretty strange week.

This is Finnish rock group, The Leningrad Cowboys, performing in Moscow with the Red Army Choir.

Soccer Mom Shuffle

One of my favorite viral videos.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Ornery Atheist Survives Hindu Witchcraft

Another shameless poach from Jason's blog. An Indian man survives nearly 7 hours of black tantric magic completely unharmed. On national TV in front of millions of his countrymen, many believers in tantric black magic. News at 11.

Parkinson's cured in mice, using stem cells

Well, ok, I don't know about cured, but they've definitely been able to repair much of the damage and reduce the symptoms. I'm guessing that since this doesn't address whatever is killing the brain cells in the first place, that a real treatment for humans would require ongoing infusions of fresh brain cells.

In Italian.
In English.

Cost of Decision Making

The next time you spend a half hour trying to decide where you can grab a "quick" lunch, think about this. I can also think of some opportunity costs we've incurred at my job due to slow decision making processes.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

make a bad one good, make a wrong one right

Kenny Loggins. His soundtrack work is like magic. You can't deny it. You know you don't flip the dial when "Danger Zone" comes on the radio. Kenny is one reason why I'm excited about the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Not only does it feature (writing & starring) Jason Segel, its got Kenny's "I'm Alright". As for Jason Segel, he played Nick the bumbling stoner musician in Freaks & Geeks...remember "Lady L"?! If you're not a fan, I feel sorry for you. It really was the best television show of all time. PS: Jason is currently writing a Muppet movie. Can you dig that?

In (very) related news, I think I'm more excited about Pineapple Express (NSFW). Seth Rogen & James Franco play...what else...stoners! The icing on the cake is that Seth signed on Huey Lewis to write a song ala "The Power of Love" for the movie. Anyone who tips their hat to Back to the Future is a friend of mine. Isn't it about time for a Huey comeback? Doesn't popular culture work in 20 year cycles? Will Lil Mama be sampling "Workin' For a Livin'"? Only time will tell.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Here's an article from a few years ago about the guy who wrote WinAmp, Gnutella and other stuff like that. I've been dicking around some with his latest creation, Reaper, in the studio. The thing I like about it is I can try the full version for free until I decide that it really is useful to me, and then I can pay for it. Yeah, it's the honor system and some folks will definitely game the system, but on the whole I think it's better karma to not your treat your customers like potential criminals. So far it seems to work pretty well. I'm not ready to abandon Cubase for it, but I'm probably not going to pay Steinberg for another upgrade--I like Cubase's interface, but they're writing some sloppy, buggy code over there and I've gotten pretty tired of it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bullshit Proof

Time and time again Barack Obama faces down what sadly passes for political discourse in this country and responds with reason and intellect in language that is persuasive, elegant, and easily understood. No one, in my liftetime, has ever managed to pull that off. I predict Obama is going to be on our money some day before I die.

The by now famous speech on race.

One day later, a killer one on Iraq.

I've signed up to help register voters here in NC. I'm waiting for someone to contact me, now.

C'Mon Steve

I mean, seriously?

What's the Weather Underneath Titan?

Like peeling an onion, scientists think they have discovered what lies underneath the icy crust of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Water, of course. By observing how features on Titan's surface have moved over time, scientists have intuited that Titan's crust, made primarily of ice, is probably floating on top of an ocean of water which decouples it from Titan's rocky core. The observations come from data obtained by the Cassini probe, a joint venture between NASA and the European and Italian space agencies.

Data obtained from the Cassini mission had previously led scientists to discover weather on Titan, with hydrocarbons, mostly methane, evaporating, precipitating, and flowing over and pooling on Titan's icy crust in a process very much analogous to what occurs on the earth with water as it flows over and pools on the earth's rocky crust. But whereas the earth's crust is only 10-20 kilometers thick, depending on where you are, the crust of Titan is more likely about 100 kilometers thick. So you would have to go pretty deep before you hit liquid water.

Of course, this is all exciting to news to scientists, since liquid water and hydrocarbons are the stuff of life. Could there be something alive down there? Who knows? Obviously, no sun light is going to make it down there, so you would need a different energy source to fuel it. The vast majority of all life on earth is ultimately solar powered. There is some evidence, though, of very deep ocean ecosystems--too deep to get much, if any, sunlight--that actually run on geothermal--they derive their energy from deep ocean volcanoes. So, you never know what could be going on down there.

Article in English
Article in Italian

Brazil Nuts

So I was chowing down on some brazil nuts I bought to keep at the desk here at work when I vaguely remember something about them being toxic in large doses. After a little Googling I did uncover some reports of selenium overdose due to brazil nuts. Reports I read after having just eaten I don't know how many brazil nuts. I wasn't counting, really. Is my current queasiness psychosomatic or real? No idea. Uggh.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Don't forget the lava lamp

I like how this ad includes a desk with enough room for your lava lamp. (Not included, apparently.)

Dextrous robot

This video is totally rad. The video is of the Big Dog, from Boston Dynamics. Of course, odds are, now, that when "they" finally do come for you, it will be killer robots.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Pretty awesome...

Berlusconi's economic stimulus package: "Marry a millionaire."

For many years, it's been a toss up. Who's the bigger asshole? George Bush or Silvio Berlusconi? It might be hard for some to imagine, but I think Berlusconi just might have pulled ahead in that race. While campaigning for the upcoming elections, Berlusconi appeared on the television show, "Punto di Vista," and fielded this question by a female student: "How is it possible to raise a family without the security of a job or a fixed income?" The response of the "Cavaliere"? "As a father, I would recommend that you marry one of my sons, or someone of similar means." Unable to control himself, he added, "And with a smile like that you shouldn't have any problem."

News article in Italian.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

File Under Pet Peeve

Dear speakers of American English,

Can we please eliminate the phrase, "my bad," from common parlance?

Humbly Yours,

Early release on grounds of obesity.

A Sicilian mafioso has been released from prison to house arrest because there are no jail cells large enough for his corpulent frame. Among the logistical problems posed by Mr Ferranti to the Italian penal system was the inability to fit through the door to the bathroom.

Italian version.

English version (much less information).

During my search for an article in English I ran across Mr Ferranti's one and only review on Amazon. I don't know if that's the same guy, but it sure is funny to think it is.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What is matter? No mind. What is mind? No matter.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to welcome our new robot overlords. (Sniped from Jason's blog.)