Category Archives: tech

In the news…. some related links

The following are some related links. Computers are simultaneously making amazing things possible and helping make some people very rich, but also making it more difficult to make a living for many (see the income inequality video).
It’s touching everything for good or bad. Media, education, news, jobs, food, financial markets, politics. Some win (and we all hear about those people) and most lose (and news tries to not depress or mobilize us too much about that). “The limitation of the personal view” Jerry Mander calls it.


- The Rise of the Blockbuster (blockbusters are actually on the increase. the “long tail” is still there, but aren’t the real winners %-wise)


- Misconceptions about wealth Inequality in America


- “Q: If someone from the 1950s suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them about life today?”
“A: I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.”

(original at:


- University megastar professors


- Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us?
Smart machines probably won’t kill us all—but they’ll definitely take our jobs, and sooner than you think.


- BAY WATCHED: How San Francisco’s new entrepreneurial culture is changing the country.
OCTOBER 14, 2013

Naval Ravikant “… the cost to build and launch a product went from five million … to one million … to five hundred thousand … and it’s now to fifty thousand.”


- The Nacho Dorito
“I visited Steven A. Witherly, a food scientist who wrote an insider’s guide, “Why Humans Like Junk Food,” and we raided his lab to taste and experiment our way through the psychobiology of what makes Nacho Cheese Doritos so alluring.”



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Filed under computers, contrarian, person: Jerry Mander, tech, thinking

Led by technology, humans abandon instincts?

FROM 2007


November 16. Creepy news: Led by Robots, Roaches Abandon Instincts. From the abstract of the scientific paper:

“Even when in the minority, robots can modulate the collective decision-making process and produce a global pattern not observed in their absence. These results demonstrate the possibility of using intelligent autonomous devices to study and control self-organized behavioral patterns in group-living animals.”

I was about to say, in a few years they’ll be doing it with humans… but they’re already doing it with humans, and I don’t mean television — they’re doing exactly the same thing with human children, integrating mechanical robots into groups to study and control their behavior. Patricia sends this article from a week ago, Could robots become your toddler’s new best friend?

The scariest thing is that cockroaches, over tens of millions of years, have evolved an egalitarian cooperative society, and yet they can still be controlled by shadowy powers without their knowledge. Even if humans, say in a million years, catch up to cockroaches and learn deep resistance to hierarchy, we still have to learn resistance to subtle manipulation of collective decision-making. But Patricia is is oddly optimistic:

“As cool as cockroaches are, they are not very high on the individual consciousness scale. I think many humans are quite capable of out-evolving this type of control. If we were not, we’d all be sending large checks to anonymous Nigerian bankers, right? In short, cockroaches lack the ability to assume the worst, to withhold their trust or belief. They are innocents, pre-Fall, in the Edenic eternal now — until they get squished.”

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Filed under predictions, tech

ageism and creativity in programming

“I am 57 and I am a programmer, the same way Martin Scorcese is 70 and is a movie director. Or Ron Howard is 59, and Rob Reiner is 66. And that’s just film.”
— Dave Winer


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Filed under art, creativity, programming, tech

Blogroll – Programmers on programming

Dave Winer – Scripting News
e.g. Why don’t programmers speak for programming?

The soul of the new developer

Why you should learn to code

Educating the journo-programmer

Joel Spolsky – Joel on Software

Dan Bricklin

Paul Graham

Imran on Tech
e.g. Programming Knowledge versus Programming Ability

Patrick McKenzie -

James Hague –
e.g. Expertise, the Death of Fun, and What to Do About It

Rys McCusker – doesn’t write much anymore. old stuff not visible


See also…

Jaron Lanier

– Microserfs (a novel)
– Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents, 2001 Ellen Ullman
– Computer Power and Human Reason, 1984 Joseph Weizenbaum

Not a programmer, but…
Malcolm McCullough
Abstracting Craft: The Practiced Digital Hand, 1998

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Facebook Home

Facebook was clever to do Facebook Home as they did. As Zuckerberg said in an interview, doing an entire phone would have meant they would have reached much much fewer people than they can with the Android approach.

Here are some related blog posts/articles related to Facebook Home (and the bigger picture battle between Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook)

Matt Drance

I Like It, but I Don’t Like It Like It
The Facebook phone is not as dumb as I thought it was going to be.
By Farhad Manjoo

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The problem with twitter (and facebook (and wordpress))

The problem with twitter is that it isn’t more like facebook.
And the problem with facebook is that it isn’t more like twitter.
And the problem with wordpress is that it isn’t more like facebook and twitter.

By which I mean:

Facebook is annoying because:
– images are big now and everyone has figured out that the clever way to advertise their website is to put a clever saying in an image which is now huge and I have to scroll like mad now to read anything. I mean, I am guilty of sharing these sometimes, but will resist now I think. I usually hide article previews too.
– It’s not open

Twitter is annoying because:
– It’s a river (vs folders like is an option in RSS reader) so you can’t easily do things like group feeds, click to read one person (or one cluster) when you want to, etc. I know you can click (TWICE!) to read more from a person, but come on!
– It’s suggesting celebs to subscribe to. Uh, no.
– I pretty much totally hate URL compressor things since I can’t tell if I am interested cause the website name is hidden
– I am sorry but I am not conversing with you there
– hashtags are ugly and painful and useless unless it is a niche.
– It’s not open

WordPress is annoying because:
– It’s slow
– It doesn’t do nice/automatic previews of articles when you paste them in
– It’s slow
– All my friends aren’t there
– I can’t easily protect posts by friendship

The future:
– Might bring some open way of doing things like all of the above but in an open “internet standards” sort of way.
– simpler but also maybe more modular/programmable
— examples of tiny evidence of hope:
—– RSS
—– Dave Winer’s (see is a sign (I hope) of things to come.
—– API and APIs in general
—– bootstrap, and responsive design / HTML5
—– some google tools (books, forms) seem hopeful, but I won’t count on them now that I see that Google just close things down (ala Google Reader)

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Filed under computers, freedom, future, tech, thinking

Is Facebook a private blog?

What is keeping blogs from becoming an “open-source” replacement for Twitter and Facebook? It’s not much, but they are important usability issues.

To me it is sorta like Apple/Steve Jobs and the iPhone. What did he/they do that was different from what had been done before? Not much, but important stuff. They obsessed over a million little things and put it together in a precise, perfect way that made the experience great vs the other blah stuff.

The comment thread here has a few suggestions
– subscriptions to other blogs should be easier
– the default view for one’s blog should be the aggregator/river view of all the people you are following with the slot for writing a new post at the top

Other things Facebook improvements:
– no subjects (in both posts and private messages/FB emails) Most blogs still use subjects, though they don’t need to.
And a big one they don’t mention in the link above:
– Privacy. Sharing with just friends or friends of friends.
– Drag and drop media sharing. Maybe it’s this easy with some blogs but not in my current WordPress one…

Someone will think of a clever way to improve blog interfaces and do the privacy thing in an open internet-y way outside of Facebook I bet. But on the other hand, Facebook is now a huge company like Microsoft and Google, etc. and so it will adapt quickly to any competition.

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Filed under facebook, google, tech

Just say IPad Mini? (2012 Holiday / XMas Tablet Shopping Guide)

When the IPad Mini was released, the first review I read was negative, but it seems like many prefer the Mini to the fullsize. I think it really depends on your needs. I already have a 10″ Android tablet that gets used around the house primarily for Youtube and Netflix and games. No need for another tablet here. But if I commuted daily on the train, I could see it being useful to have an LTE IPad Mini or Nexus 7.

Preference: Apple IPad Mini
(Pros – LTE available, Price, weight, size=>easier to fit in purses, jacket pockets, etc)



The Wirecutter

NY Times

Preference: Apple IPad “3” (and current “4” w/ faster A6X Graphics)
(Pros — LTE and Retina Screen)

Dave Winer/Scripting News/Gizmodo,
article 2

Background on the Apple IPad Mini

Vs Androd / Nexus 7 / Amazon Fire HD (Pros – price!)

Apple displays are better color wise but the Android 7″ displays hae higher resolution

Bottom line

Overall? IPad Mini or Android 7″ tablet (Google Nexus 7, Amazon Fire HD). I think this really comes down to whether you know there are Apple/iOS only apps or games you want/need. If not, you might be happier with Android because of price and screen resolution.

Price? Android 7″ tablet (Google Nexus 7, Amazon Fire HD)

Games? Apps? IPad Mini

Eyesight/reading? IPad 4 or 7″ Android tablets (all are “Retina”)

Second iPad: IPad Mini

School/Work: Apple Macbook Air / Thinkpad T430 or Dell Laptop!

Wait for Retina IPad Mini? This will take quite a while. Don’t wait.

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Filed under android, apple, shopping, tablets, tech, video games

Loseit / fitbit / ideas

Today after reading about a local teenager who drove recklessly and killed himself and 3 others in the car got me thinking about tracking. Some use cases/scenarios:

1. In a car – I don’t care about location generally (unless there is an emergency) but it would be nice to get alerts if speeds or excessive acceleration or ??? happened. I have a few years to think about this. Kid A is 7. I think the problem is that the teenage brain makes misjudgements about risk. There are programs at about this. Including one about how it sometimes (in different situations from this car scenario) leads to suicide out of nowhere. Anyway, back to the car…. Having an alarm going off in the car (the alarm being a more rational judgement of the risk in a situation — like a backup monitor beeping in a minivan — I would think could help. Or what?)

I think one could get this to work via a $20 bluetooth dongle plugged into the OBD-II port in any car (connected to an android phone/tablet or ipod touch). Soliport OBD-II dongle “Bluetooth ELM 327 Diagnostics USB Cable”

2. At my desk – It would be nice if an egg-timer rang every (hour?) if I hadn’t gotten up from my desk recently. I keep reading about DVT from airplaines. Deep venous thrombosis/Deep vein thrombosis says 60-100k USAians die each year from it?!?!

3. Kids – One idea Kid A might think is neat is to wear a pedometer. I would give one to him and one to me and compare their steps for a week. There is a fancy one call fitbit which also has an altimeter so it could record if he went up and down stairs. And view activity by time. Hmmm, interesting I guess, but not sure what the purpose would be really.
FITBIT I guess for the person who chooses to use it (key word: chooses), it can be like or the loseit app — a motivational tool.

OK entrepreneurs, go to it.

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Filed under kids -- freedom and responsibility, tech

“Enough with the apps already”

I think Dave Winer will be proven right on this. Apps will die. The web will live. Why? Because of linking. LINK

And perhaps the ease of making mobile-friendly web pages and “responsive web design”, even websites which act just like a native app on the iPhones or Androids of the world — have you seen in a Chrome browser?

Just about the only thing which will stay apps are video games since linking is not (or at least, less) important in a game since games are usually self-contained universes. And even there I might be a little wrong.

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Filed under android, apple, predictions, tech, video games