marriage and such
Posted on 2010-06-09 11:54:00
I find the fact that Al & Tipper Gore are getting divorced after 40 years of marriage horribly depressing. Some marriages are not meant to be, but usually the people involved figure that out within the first few years. I guess it's important to keep working on a relationship no matter how long you've been together...
Similarly, this ad showing a married gay couple [mildly NSFW] depresses the crap out of me!
Unrelatedly, Bing Maps has this new feature called Destination Maps (it's a Silverlight app) where it will draw out a map and make it look hand drawn. Here's a map to our house drawn in "sketchy" and "treasure map" styles:
weekend pictures, my first ad!
Posted on 2010-06-07 10:52:00
Tags: pictures palmpre projects
We went down to Houston this weekend to see the Young Frankenstein musical (verdict: entertaining but not as good as the movie), and ended up seeing a nice backyard with some bees. Also: back in Austin we saw the original Batman movie at the Paramount with Adam West. Pictures of all the above:
The Palm Hot Apps competition will award cash prizes to the 221 most popular free and paid apps on June 30. I think FlightPredictor has a (very) outside shot at winning, so I bought an ad for it on webOSroundup. (it's one of the boxes on the right - doesn't show up every time so you might have to reload) Thanks to destroyerj and skimmerduk for design help!
One year and one day ago, the Palm Pre went on sale - PreCentral has a a good retrospective on what went wrong and what went right.
No more depressing links!
Posted on 2010-06-02 14:03:00
I keep reading about how the financial regulation bill was defanged, and how BP is forbidding photos of dead dolphins covered in oil, and how BP's safety record is terrible by oil company standards, and this live underwater video of the oil spill.
- Patrick Stewart was knighted!
- 12 things that good bosses believe - I like "My success — and that of my people — depends largely on being the master of obvious and mundane things, not on magical, obscure, or breakthrough ideas or methods."
- From Wired: The Man Who Could Unsnarl Manhattan Traffic - he created a giant spreadsheet (.xls) of data indicating how much each extra car/bus/etc. costs the city in extra traffic slowdowns for others. Cool!
- Apple rejects an iPad app because they "are not allowing apps that create their own desktops", according to Steve Jobs.
- FlightPredictor gets some love from the official Palm blog. Yay!
- Citizens Against Retail Discrimination (or CARD) makes me laugh. It's clearly a front group for credit card companies: see
This amendment would shift this merchant cost of doing business to consumers. Giant retailers don’t want to pay their fair share, and they want consumers to foot the bill.and more specifically:
Consumers Will Pay for Merchant Windfall; Small Financial Institutions Will SufferOf course the other side of the coin is the even gianter credit card companies that want the right to charge high fees for debit cards. I'm not sure how I feel about the regulation, but if you're going to play the "small business" card, there are thousands (millions?) of small businesses, and I bet there are very very few small credit card companies.
The Senate recently added an amendment to S. 3217 that would arbitrarily limit the cost that merchants pay to accept debit cards, and eliminate important rules that are in place expressly to protect consumers.
Retailers are lobbying for a law that shifts their share of the cost for accepting debit cards onto consumers. Retailers want consumers to start paying their bills. They say it helps consumers, but really it's a ploy to increase profits. It’s unfair to have consumers pay for a retailer's business expense.
Fine, I'm getting old
Posted on 2010-06-02 09:38:00
This weekend I spent some time outside throwing (and hitting) a wiffle ball. My back was pretty sore yesterday and it took me a long time to figure out that was the cause!
I'm giving an presentation at work in a few weeks, which I like doing. Writing the slides, however, feels a lot like writing an essay, which I hate (and am terrible at).
happy memorial day!
Posted on 2010-05-28 11:28:00
- According to Kiplinger, Austin is the best city for the next decade. Yay!
- Parts of Second Street will be renamed for Willie Nelson, who incidentally cut his trademark braids a few days ago. (this made the NPR news :-) )
- Yesterday the House voted to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell", although it still has to be passed by the Senate and the amendment lets the repeal happen after the Pentagon finishes studying it and it's signed off by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So...still a ways to go.
- A very bizarre profile of Lady Gaga. Text is NSFWish.
Don't Ask Don't Tell vote this week!
Posted on 2010-05-25 10:47:00
Tags: gay politics
Congress is expected to vote on the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell this week, and it's unclear if they have the votes. Email your representative! It'll just take a minute...
"it's monday and I'm tired" links
Posted on 2010-05-24 10:36:00
The LOST finale was last night - recaps from the AV Club and Time. Overall I liked it although I'm still thinking it through...
A 15 page comic about the now retracted autism/MMR vaccine study - holy undisclosed conflict of interest, Batman!
A long article about teacher's unions and how the Obama administration is pushing to remove teacher tenure and pay solely based on experience.
As part of a Music Hack Day, someone wrote a hack to make songs swing by lengthening the first half of the beat and compressing the second half - here are the results.
A cool World Cup ad - only 18 days until it starts!
Lesser known but cool data structures.
linkin' up a storm
Posted on 2010-05-21 13:31:00
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget released a game where you can try to stabilize the national debt. (unfortunately it's been flaky today) Spoiler alert: don't renew the Bush tax cuts and it's really easy - keep them around and it's basically impossible.
The iPad, the Kindle, and the future of books - long and interesting article about the future of ebooks.
What America spends on food and drink - Austin is #1 per capita!
International Number Ones - because every country is the best at something. The US is "best at" having the most serial killers!
The ESPN consensus on who's going to win the World Cup - I filled out my bracket but still might change my mind...
The security screening at the Texas Capital opened today, even though you can carry a concealed weapon inside. The article makes the halfway valid point that people that have concealed carry licenses have to undergo a background check, but still...come on!
A grocery store in New Orleans baked BP an oil spill cake.
Posted on 2010-05-20 14:19:00
Tags: reviews essay books
I just finished The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. (I'm turning into somewhat of a Michael Lewis fanboy - really enjoyed this book, Moneyball, and The Blind Side) It tells the story of the subprime mortgage meltdown and in the epilogue talks about the fact that not only were (most) of the companies involved bailed out by the government, but most of the traders who bet on subprime mortgages and lost billions of dollars for their company were let go with generous severance packages. (i.e. millions of dollars)
His implicit argument is that they should have known better (most of the book is about the people who did see the crisis coming ahead of time, bet against subprime mortgages, and made plenty of money) and thus don't deserve to have their job or be rewarded. I'm not defending the giant severance packages, but this is a dangerous road to walk down. If they honestly believed they were making money for their companies, then firing people who failed (and obviously there were a lot of them) could make other traders very wary about doing anything.
And yes, I feel kind of ridiculous defending the traders, but I know I screw up a lot at work and I'd be very paranoid (and cautious to the point of getting very little done) if I thought one mistake could lead to being fired.
On a similar note, some people seem to think that contacting politicians at home or following them around Washington is "fair game" if they don't vote a certain way, or even outing them as gay if they vote against anything gay-related. I believe in a thick line between one's professional life and one's personal life, and such things make me very uneasy.
Scheduling up the summer
Posted on 2010-05-15 16:55:00
May: lots of programming stuff, both for Palm's WebOS and for
Google Code Jam .
June: World Cup!
July: Summer musical rehearsals begin and performances start. Also, Jonathan & Sarah's wedding. This month is going to be crazy!
This is a list of what's occupying my free time (along with the usual social stuff, etc.) so hopefully I will remember not to agree to anything time consuming until August :-)
Posted via LJ for WebOS.
friday links of the third kind
Posted on 2010-05-14 10:55:00
Something for everyone!
- North Korea reports nuclear fusion success except, of course, no one believes them. Includes this gem:
Pyongyang says its latest scientific breakthrough coincides with the birthday of the country's founder, and eternal president Kim Il-sung - not the first time it seems that the laws of nature have been bent in his honour.
According to official biographies, when his son, the current leader Kim Jong-il was born, a new star appeared in the sky.
Posted on 2010-05-11 16:37:00
I like tech startups - probably comes from reading Hacker News a lot. If I were in a different place in life I'd probably want to work for one (or found one!), but I'm pretty happy where I am now, so instead I shall live vicariously through others.
- FlightCaster - predicts ahead of time whether flights will be delayed using machine learning and lots of data. I like this idea so much I wrote FlightPredictor (a WebOS client for Palm phones) that uses their data.
- SproutRobot - tell it where you are, and it will tell you what to plant when, and even send you the proper seeds. Just looking at the website makes me a little happier.
- Groupon - coupons with a twist. Each coupon is only offered for a day, and only if enough people buy it does the transaction take place (more about how it works). You can see the recent offers for Austin have included Precision Camera & Video, the Round Rock Express, Austin's Park and Pizza. I just signed up today and am hoping for more cool stuff in the future!
Posted on 2010-05-07 10:36:00
Tags: rant links
Honestly, these links aren't that great. Fair warning:
- The Onion AV Club previews movies coming out this summer and how they compare to Marmaduke.
- Bruce Schneier on why there haven't been more terrorist attacks - the short answer is that they're harder than they look to pull off, and not that many people interested in doing them. Which is comforting, I guess.
- Star Wars pregnancy announcement
- So there's this bill that would strip people of their citizenship if they have suspected ties to terrorists. First of all, what happens to someone who has no other citizenship or ties? Secondly, the bar seems way too low here - the Secretary of State can deem anyone (as far as I can tell) to have provided material support, no need for a trial or anything. Sheesh.
This strikes me as a very strange sort of attitude to adopt. There's no question that Flash is useful and popular, and it has a large and committed user base. There's also no question that it's often convenient to be able to program for different platforms using environments one already knows. And likewise, there's a long history of creating OS stubs or wrappers or other sorts of gizmos to make it possible to run code "alien" to a platform in a fashion that makes it feel more native.That is...what? Let's not get confused here - not allowing the Flash plugin to run on the iPhone/iPad is one thing, sure - I may not agree, but there are valid technical reasons, and it would require Apple to do something.
But what does it say about the state of programming practice writ large when so many developers believe that their "rights" are trampled because they cannot write programs for a particular device in a particular language? Or that their "freedom" as creators is squelched for the same reason?
I wonder if it doesn't amount to an indictment of the state of computational literacy.
MetroRail and links
Posted on 2010-05-04 11:53:00
Tags: pictures links
On Saturday, we took the MetroRail downtown to the Pecan Street Festival. It was quite crowded, but apparently that doesn't mean there will be Saturday service in the future. The single track problem is really a big obstacle at this point. I took some pictures:
while we were there, we walked by a booth for the Austin Planetarium, which doesn't exist yet. Did you know that Austin is the biggest city in the US with no planetarium? Or that Dallas has 12 of them? So we joined, mostly to stick it to Dallas. Jerks!
At the Palm Developer Day, I had my picture taken with my app. Nerdy, I know!
The Alamo Drafthouse is looking at eliminating lines at the South Lamar theatre and moving to a Southwest-style system. (with a followup post) They're also looking at more healthy food items.
Why do we root for underdogs?
A visualization of what color cultures associate with ideas - interesting that ones like heat, anger, truce, success are relatively uniform but death, peace, love are not.
Amazon is releasing a little bit of data about what people are reading on the Kindle, specifically the most highlighted passage - I mentioned the possibility earlier, but now I want more data!
Posted on 2010-05-03 10:30:00
Tags: palmpre projects
FlightPredictor, the best way to know ahead of time whether your flight will be delayed, is now available on the Palm App Catalog! Here's the official homepage, and here's a video walkthrough of how FlightPredictor works.
It's powered by FlightCaster.com, a San Francisco-based startup. Many thanks to them for making their API available and responding to my questions and suggestions quickly!
Posted on 2010-04-28 12:51:00
Tags: taxes links
The Comprehensive Guide to Better Naps - a lot of good advice, although I'm not much of a napper.
A neat visualization of tax rates over time - the change in the late 80s is very dramatic - before that there were around 20 different marginal tax rates, afterwards there were 4. Also kind of surprising that the first tax bracket was 0% for a while.
The Data-Driven Life - I'm heading that way, I think!
The Only Thing That Can Stop This Asteroid Is Your Liberal Arts Degree.
Now that Ze Frank's show is over, he does neat stuff like this chillout song. (although honestly the woman sounds seriously depressed and should probably see a doctor)
A giant flowchart to help you pick a font.
Palm Developer Day trip: Day 3
Posted on 2010-04-27 22:53:00
Tags: pictures palm travel
The plan was to wake up at 8:15, which would give me enough time to get ready, check out, eat breakfast, and walk the .8 miles to the Caltrain station to catch the 9:34 to San Jose.
Everything was going well - I was out the door at 9, which should have been just enough time. I took a few wrong turns but still manager to arrive at around 9:31, figured out how to buy a ticket, and then saw there were two tracks. I saw a sign that seemed to imply the first set was for express trains, so I crossed to the other side behind some other people and looked around a little. Just then a train started to arrive, and the little pedestrian gates closed so I couldn't get back to the other side, and lo and behold I was on the wrong side. (later confirmed by an actual sign) So I had to wait an hour for the next one. And just a few minutes later the limo from my hotel pulled up and (presumably) dropped someone off. That would have saved a lot of walking.
Caught the next Caltrain (which was very loud and big) to San Jose, and then had to wait for the light rain to downtown, which wasn't too far but I wasn't sure I could walk under the freeway. The Caltrain runs every hour on weekends and the light rain runs every half hour, so I had a lot less time than I planned in the city.
Which turned out OK because I was tired of walking around. I checked out the Tech Museum of Innovation (pretty neat museum, especially for kids) and had a nice lunch at a local cafe, with tea even! It was still an hour until I had to catch the light rain but I convinced myself to at least walk along an island to the art museum, which was nice. It was still early but I didn't want to tire myself out before having to walk back to the hotel, so I went to the light rail station and promptly got on the wrong train. Easy enough to get off and take one the other direction, but I just missed the real train so I had to burn another half an hour sitting and reading. Arrived back at the hotel uneventfully but thirstily (was a little chilly in the morning with no sweatshirt, was a little warm in the afternoon) - and what kind of hotel doesn't have a water fountain in the lobby? The desk clerk helpfully informed me that there were water bottles in the minibars.
Thus ends the trip wrapup; pictures are all up now:
Palm Developer Day trip: Day 2
Posted on 2010-04-27 21:48:00
Tags: pictures palm travel
I woke up excited and nervous about interacting with people. After getting ready and seeing a few fellow attendees eating breakfast downstairs, I got in the hotel limo with two other people to go to Palm HQ. Chatted with them a bit about the kind of stuff they worked on. When we arrived Palm had breakfast available in their cafe - I grabbed some fruit and sat down with some people and joined their conversation. (Hooray for being somewhat sociable!) Even got one guy interested in FlightPredictor (coming very very soon!)
The keynote started at 9 and talked about a new things coming to WebOS in the fall timeframe - access to the microphone and camera, better file I/O access (yay!), a new database system, etc. After that the company store was open (all items 30% off!) so I got a nice Moleskine notebook with the Palm logo and a new headset. The rest of the day was a blur of sessions - interestingly they had both hour long and 30 minute sessions, but generally the hour long ones were good and the 30 minute ones were less so. I was proud of myself for asking a few questions and going to the Apps Lab to report a bug which we spent 20 minutes examining. Later I got a picture taken with my app (link coming soon!)
After all the sessions were done, Palm had an offsite mixer with free beer and food, so I took the shuttle they provided there. I was feeling pretty socialized out, though, so I joined a group talking with a Palm guy for a bit, got a beer and food from the buffet and then sat alone, thinking someone might join me, and they might not. As it turned out, no one did, and after a while I pulled out my book and read for a while, then just felt like going home.
This was a little tricky logistically - one option was to wait for the Palm shuttle to take me back to Palm and then call the hotel and wait for them, but I wasn't sure if the Palm shuttle was even running since I was leaving so early. The other option was to walk the 3.1 miles back to the hotel, which I decided to do. It worked out OK, but it was a long walk and I took a few wrong turns. Hooray for Google Maps with walking directions on my Palm Pre, though!
When I finally made it back to the hotel, I collapsed for a bit, then ordered a dessert as a reward, and prepared my plan for the next day. My flight wasn't until 5:50 PM so I was planning on taking the Caltrain to San Jose to explore the city...
Here are the pictures (more being posted as I type!):
Palm Developer Day trip: Day 1
Posted on 2010-04-23 21:01:00
Tags: palm travel
I'm in Sunnyvale, CA for the Palm Developer Day. The story thus far:
When I booked my Alaska Airlines flight on Orbitz, there were only like 2 seats available, so I reluctantly took a middle seat. This morning, I checked in online, and there were suddenly more seats available, so I chose 6F, the only window seat.
Andrew graciously drove me to the airport, and I had grabbed lunch (tacos!) and was sitting by the gate when I heard the gate agent mention to someone else that row 6 was right against the bulkhead. This meant that I wouldn't be able to put my backpack in front of me (since there was no seat), so after a little deliberation, I decided to switch, even if it meant no window seat. So I went up to the agent, and she moved me to 7C, an aisle seat. As I was leaving, she said "Thank you, Mr. Johnson". I paused, but didn't see anything on my new ticket that said "Johnson", so I didn't say anything.
Anyway, we boarded, and two people were assigned seat 6D (aisle seat), one of whom was named Johnson. So the gate agent came on and said that Johnson was supposed to be in 7C, so I got up and sat in first class with another displaced passenger while the gate agent went back to the terminal to try to sort things out. Finally after another 10 minutes she said we could just stay in first class!
I felt a little bad that the whole situation seemed to be my fault, but first class is pretty sweet - cushier seats with more legroom and horizontal room, complementary food and drinks (even alcohol! Shoulda taken advantage...) and a personal entertainment system on which I watched an Arrested Development and a Simpsons, and started The Fantastic Mr. Fox before changing my mind and reading.
Continuing the theme of "Greg makes mistakes at other people's expense", upon arriving in San Jose I called the hotel about their shuttle, and after a moment the clerk told me to just take a cab and they'd reimburse me. Pretty sure I was supposed to schedule the shuttle in advance. Oh well.
After arriving and relaxing a bit, I went out walking in search of dinner and something to take notes in at tomorrow's sessions. Dinner was easy to find (an Afghani place right next to the hotel), but finding a place with a notebook took an hour of walking.
Tomorrow should be fun! I just read on Twitter (search for #palmdev for the latest info) that attendees today got a Palm Pre Plus developer phone, so I'm hopeful I will too :-) The hotel loses points for no WiFi in the rooms (cabled only) but gets some of them back for providing tea bags...
Apologies for the length - maybe I should add support for lj-cuts to LJ for WebOS :-)
Posted via LJ for WebOS.
Posted on 2010-04-20 10:09:00
A growing scandal in Philadelphia: the Lower Merion school district assigns each of its high school students a laptop that they can take home and do work on. Well, these laptops have webcams that could be activated remotely (ostensibly to find the laptops if they were lost), but the students didn't know about this until the principal reprimanded a student for "improper behavior in his home". Now it turns out 56,000 pictures were taken in the past two years. Happily, no one seems to be defending the program and the school district is getting super-sued.
Another take on why Texas weathered the recession better than the rest of the country. (previous take here)
Lots of songs use the same four chords (illustrated in song form)
Another gay marriage map, which looks suspiciously (ok, not really) similar to my own.
Posted on 2010-04-17 13:17:00
Last night I dreamed I was at work and Dave Matthews was there playing songs for us. (or at least it sounded a lot like him - in the dream I didn't know what he looked like) After a bit I decided to take a break and go watch a few songs.
I stuck around enjoying the music for a while and then went back to my desk...and my computer was gone! After a few seconds of being stunned, I saw some DMB roadies carrying off computers!
So I chased after them and called NI security, and after a brief standoff we captured them, sent them to jail and retrieved our computers!
This whole computer things going wrong is starting to become a theme...
Posted via LJ for WebOS.
LJ for WebOS update
Posted on 2010-04-16 10:11:00
Tags: lj for webos palmpre projects
The good news: Since my last update, I'm up to 132 copies sold. I've added some new features, including the heavily-requested thumbnails in posts, and I made a video walkthrough of the app that's linked to from the App Catalog. (which is a cool feature - thanks Palm!)
The bad news: The rate of sales is really slowing down - this last week I had three days in a row where no copies were sold, which is the first time that's happened since I've been tracking the daily numbers. Pushing the update helped a little, but I'm getting a feeling that the market may be somewhat saturated - the intersection of "people who own a Pre" and "people who use LiveJournal enough that they're willing to pay a few bucks for a good client" probably isn't that big to begin with. Or maybe it's just a blip; I suppose time will tell.
I was hoping that I might squeak in to the Palm Hot Apps competition, but looking at the leaderboard I'm a ways out from the #200 slot. Right now I'd have to sell 51 more copies to get on the list, and that's only going to go up over time. Oh well!
In any case, I've had a lot of fun working on LJ for WebOS and I'm glad that people seem to generally find it useful. I'm hoping to publish my next app (the FlightCaster-based one) within a few weeks - it's mostly ready to go but I'm waiting on some API changes before I call it done, and then I have to make a video, etc.
A post by someone on Palm's developer relations team sums up well why I like WebOS so much and why I'm going to be a sad panda if it goes away.
clearing out some tabs
Posted on 2010-04-14 13:09:00
How Texas avoided the worst of the real estate meltdown - by limiting what you can do with home-equity loans. (until 1998, they weren't allowed at all)
Personality and the Census - response rates have been highest in the states whose people are more agreeable and extroverted. (apparently, that doesn't mean Texas!)
Yes, 47% of American families owe no income tax, but when you take payroll taxes into account that number drops to 10%. Payroll taxes are pretty regressive...
Tina Fey doing another Sarah Palin bit.
Price anchoring, and why even knowing how it works isn't enough to protect you from it.
Optimizing Your Wife - this is an old problem (if you know you're going to meet 100 candidates and can rank them relative to each other but have to decide when you meet one whether to marry or not), but with more data on what to do if you care about maximizing happiness, not just finding the best one.
official wedding pictures up! and yogurt
Posted on 2010-04-13 10:58:00
Tags: pictures wedding food
Our official wedding pictures are finally up! Thanks again to Eric Hegwer, who did a great job photographing the event. I went a little crazy posting pictures (119 in total) because so many of them were so good, so don't feel obligated to look at all of them :-) If you're interested in a DVD with all 400+ pictures, let me know.
Yesterday I tried Sushi Zushi in the Domain for lunch. They had a wide selection of "real" sushi, but I just went for a Bento Box as I'm very inexperienced (I like California rolls but I've tried very little else). The meal was decent - (the miso soup was particularly good) but some of the stuff in the box was a little too weird to me. And it was fairly pricey - $14. But if you're a big sushi fan, they have a good selection and it's a nice place...
Anyway, on the way there I walked by Yogurt Planet, which is one of those "dispense your own yogurt and add toppings and pay by the ounce" type places. It looked like fun so I got one on my way out. It was amazingly delicious! I had fat-free mango yogurt with fresh blueberry, blackberry, mango and pineapple on top, as well as cookie dough bits and caramel. Seriously, check out the toppings on their site - it will make you hungry!
Palm up for sale?
Posted on 2010-04-12 10:48:00
Bloomberg is reporting that Palm is putting itself up for sale - although nothing has been officially announced, I doubt they'd publish if they weren't pretty darn sure. Possible buyers include HTC and Lenovo. (but not Dell)
While I'm disappointed, I guess I don't really care as long as WebOS phones continue to be made. I like my Pre's form factor but I love the OS and software.
This backup was done by LJBackup.