Tire swinger

Reading the comment rage on this article makes me smile. Michael Scherer’s career strategy is not a good one. But a piece of political vocabulary passed me by. :-(

“What’s wrong, Mikey? The White House won’t provide you with a tire swing, like Uncle John did?”
donovong comments on Swampland


“DougJ, I think the simpler explanation is that Michael Scherer is a ‘Tire Swinger,’ and he’s still pissed that Obama rumbled his man McCain in the election.

“Look back at Scherer’s loveletters to McCain during the 2008 campaign season, and you’ll start to see a pattern of resentment against the “new guy” reformer that Obama was perceived as.”
cfaller comments on Balloon Juice

Does anyone know what this means? It probably has something to do with this:

In any case, it’s an amusing image, even if I don’t understand how it got from there to here.

Continue reading about Rush-Obama game theory after the jump

Kindle hits the iPhone

One of the iPhone updates I downloaded last night was the New York Times app. Trying to figure out how it was better than the previous version I was hit with the announcement that there is a Kindle app for the iPhone.

Here are some screenshots with commentary:

Kindle on the iPhone

The Kindle icon is nice. I put the app next to Stanza which is, by far, the best free book reader for the iPhone. Yeah, my battery is running out.

Startup screen

This screen is the same as the Kindle 2’s UPC symbol.


All my purchased books are synced and the covers are in color. Nice.

On the other hand, none of my sample chapters synced, none of my documents synced, and my magazine subscription The New Yorker didn’t sync. I was hoping to see the latest cover in color on the iPhone. :-(

Where's the color?

Kindle app wirelessly synchronized my page position from my Kindle 2. Slick! You flick tap to change the page, tap hold to pull up the menu. They’ll probably have to change the navigation UI to be more in line with other iPhone readers.

For some reason the scroll is too slow for page flipping. You flick to fast you just get a white screen. You can change the font size but you cannot rotate the display.

Images on Kindle books are supposed to be color. Not for me! Maybe it depends on the book, but the print version of this book is clearly color, while the Kindle version is black and white. Also you can’t pinch zoom or tap zoom any of the images. So much for using the Kindle for my pr0n needs. Argh!

Go To…

There seems to be a bug where both “Beginning” and “Cover” jump to the cover. Beginning is supposed to jump to the first readable area.

Note that the app syncs my notes and marks from my Kindle 2.

The jump menu is the only thing clearly better on the iPhone. I can jump to the section with just a flick and tap. Those of you who take a lot of notes know how frustrating it is to navigate the Kindle 2’s eInk display.

BTW, there is no text-to-speech. This is disappointing. I know the iPod has spoken menus and there is a way sync high quality voices to it. I’d love for a high-quality voice like Alex read my books while I’m driving (and then sync my book position back to my Kindle 2.
[If I have time I’ll archive my notes later in this article]

Great moments in packaging

The drains in the apartment periodically get clogged— *cough* not me, I have short thick hair. This means every six months dropping a bottle of Liquid-Plumbr® pipe snake down the drain…or Drāno®, depending on which conglomerate I’d like to support today.

A suggested solution is to jam a plastic barbed wire down it. So I ordered a three-pack from Amazon. It’s been on backorder for about six months. Eventually I got fed up and ordered a single Zip-It Drain Cleaner for $5.56 plus free two day shipping through Amazon Prime.

The package was too good not to share

The boxThe box half openThe box openedDSC_4976.JPGThe Zip-It

I figure it cost more to ship than I paid for it.

Somewhere, out there, a polar bear just drowned.

My monkey typing resonates

“We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.”

Chimp typing
Your humble author at work writing this article.

I love to quote people quoting me. I do this by creating a vanity feed— I like to look at it as stalking myself. Skimming my vanity feed last night, I read this:

Terry Chay once said something that resonated with me — one of the few things, actually — and it was something like this: complex > complicated, and that simple does not necessarily mean “not complex”. The point is that you can have a complex implementation that covers many use cases, without the implementation being complicated, and with the API still being relatively simple.
Matthew Weier O’Phinney

Only a few? Geez. I’m (almost) hurt. Next time, I see you, I’m going to call you Matthew O’Phinney.

For reference, here is the talk where Matthew is referring to, along with other previous references.

Since, like Matthew I work on a framework, I thought some of you might find this simple/simplistic complex/complicated distinction resonates with you as you write code.

I can’t claim credit for this idea. It comes from a different monkey, well before the internet:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
Albert Einstein

Kindle Clippings 2009-02-27

Kindle saver
Kindle saver
North Beach, San Francisco, California

Panasonic DMC-LX1
1/5sec, ƒ2.8, iso 100, 6.3mm (28mm)

No, this is not a sticker. This is the Kindle when it’s asleep. That’s the magic of e-Ink.

I found that you can’t clip from sample chapters :-( Major bummer!

To see a definition on the K2, just navigate to the left of the word and it pops up automatically. Here is a tip I found useful when setting your ad-hoc chapter markers just so.

Kindle 2 User’s Guide (Amazon.com)
– Highlight Loc. 524-27 | Added on Thursday, February 26, 2009, 10:26 AM

Tip: You can quickly create a bookmark by either holding down the Alt key and pressing the B key, or by moving the 5-way up or down to go into cursor mode and then pressing the 5-way controller twice.

I cancelled my New Yorker (print) subscription and started it up on the Kindle. The New Yorker is nearly ideal subject matter for the Kindle. Note that while you get the cartoons, the cover art and any article art aren’t reproduced in the Kindle edition. :-( Amazon, please fix! Another note is that since they are Condé Nast, you can, with some finagling get the the print version much cheaper than the Kindle version.

The K2 version doesn’t have the ads so I don’t know how I feel about that. But if I really need such a think, I can just buy The Complete New Yorker.

The New Yorker (The New Yorker)
– Highlight Loc. 1818-19 | Added on Thursday, February 26, 2009, 09:18 PM

The problem with playing someone whose default setting is tabula rasa is pretty obvious, and the primary qualification that Dushku brings to the part is that she graduated with honors from the Royal Academy of Cleavage.

I like the expression at the end of this clipping. The article is a critical review of Joss Wheedon’s Doll House.

Kindle 2 User’s Guide (Amazon.com)
– Highlight Loc. 642-44 | Added on Thursday, February 26, 2009, 10:47 PM

Tip: You can also play or stop Text-to-Speech by holding down the Shift key and pressing the Symbol key

The Kindle Text-to-Speech is much better than MacInTalk which came with the original Macintosh, but it’s nowhere close to where that technology has gone. I use this tip when I’m showing someone the text-to-speech and I need to stop it quickly.

Kindle 2 User’s Guide (Amazon.com)
– Highlight Loc. 701-2 | Added on Thursday, February 26, 2009, 11:57 PM

Tip: You can also narrow a search in the Kindle Store to an author’s name by typing “@author” followed by the author’s name.

A shortcut. I use the Kindle Store a lot, but not to buy. I’ve read about a half dozen first chapters today.

Kindle 2 User’s Guide (Amazon.com)
– Highlight Loc. 1043-45 | Added on Friday, February 27, 2009, 12:14 AM

Tip: If you would like to avoid the fee, address the e-mail so that the second part of your Kindle e-mail address is @free.kindle.com. After sending to the @free.kindle.com address, a link to the converted file will be e-mailed to your Amazon.com e-mail address. You can then download the file to your Kindle’s documents folder via USB using your computer.

What can I say? I’m a cheapskate. :-)

The Kindle is a better conversationalist
Sushi on North Beach, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G
1/60sec, ƒ2.8, iso 4500, 35mm

As you can see, my Kindle 2 gets more women than I do. I may have a weakness for women who read books, but Marie seems to only have a weakness for books. Major bummer.

Continue reading about getting free books on your Kindle after the jump.


The Wired cover article this month is worth a read but brings me on a big rant. The article covers how people trained in theoretical physicists migrated into Wall Street over the last 30 years and created the math that lead the financial bubble bursting.

I was trained as a condensed matter theoretical physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. My advisor created the company that built software similar to the ones that powered this disaster when I was there (mid 90’s). Half of my advisor’s students ended up “quants” on Wall Street.

You’re. In. My. House.

And I have only one anecdote to relate.

Continue reading about Non-equilibrium physics after the jump

How much for that Mary Jane?

A friend sent out this article about legalizing (and taxing) pot in California.

Marijuana, Hey at least it’s not crack!

I must confess, that I’ve never smoked a joint in my life. It’s strange because I used to steal nitrous tanks in college and I have inhaled—one cannot live in San Francisco and not inhale that on a daily basis. I went through half my life confusing the smell of patchouli and pot and I needed a friend to explain to me that chronic was a type of weed. My only claim to fame is one year we lost a lot of cases in high school debate running a legalize marijuana plan.

So it is not surprising I had to ask a friend how much an ounce would cost. The answer is between $20-$50 an eighth. This puts the $50 an ounce tax at about a 13% tax.

Continue reading about Comparing MJ to tobacco and other state issues after the jump

The Nimble and the Nerdy

On my way out of the office the other day I happened to glance at the front desk to see a stack of MaximumPC magazines. Curious I flipped through a couple issues and noted:

Why doesn’t the cover of MaximumPC have some hot Asian babe splayed across it?

A friend suggested that it was because maybe hot Asian babes used Macs, but what I was really trying to get at was how similar PC overclocking is to import car tuning.

Maximum PC Modified

Sometime just read the covers of MaximumPC and ModifiedMag and tell me they’re not the same magazine delta the modified women?

I’m actually counting the days until the next sequel to The Fast and the Furious will be about your next LAN party.

PHP is a dying language

Friend: http://twitter.com/markscrap/status/1228353533
Me: 10 to 1 whatever kid wrote that is a ruby developer
Friend: haha

I’m just stating the obvious. When the first computer was invented, the legendary Grace Hopper created the first compiled programming language. That language is still around and is still popular today!

Programming languages don’t “die,” they proliferate.

And when a person makes blanket statements like, “PHP is a dying language,” it allows me to a make blanket statement about that person’s programming preferences and maturity.

The difference is, my statement is probably right.