Keeping O’Reilly afloat

March 6th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Areas in which I will gain experience in the next few months:

Amount of reading I need to do outside of the office:

  • Lots

TV is my anti-drug

March 3rd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

From Scientific American, a remarkable article about why television is addictive—it grabs your attention by taking advantage of your biological response to novel stimuli, then lulls you into relaxation. From the article:

What is more surprising is that the sense of relaxation ends when the set is turned off, but the feelings of passivity and lowered alertness continue. Survey participants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted. They say they have more difficulty concentrating after viewing than before. In contrast, they rarely indicate such difficulty after reading. After playing sports or engaging in hobbies, people report improvements in mood. After watching TV, people’s moods are about the same or worse than before.

Nix nix

February 3rd, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

Before there was any such thing as an LCD, people used nixie tubes to display numbers on electrical testing equipment. A nixie tube looks a lot like a vacuum tube, but it’s filled with neon, and it contains a stack of ten electrodes, each in the shape of a single digit. When a current runs through an electrode, the digit lights up.

People have been building clocks with nixie tubes for decades. I would give my eyeteeth for some of these clocks. (Scroll down to see Geoff Tomlin’s, which is my favorite; it looks like something out of Brazil.)

Cleaning house

January 30th, 2002 § Comments off § permalink

I keep a list of Web pages that I intend to post here. The list is getting ridiculously long, though, so here’s several links all at once.

Informing Ourselves to Death
(” The computer and its information cannot answer any of the fundamental questions we need to address to make our lives more meaningful and humane.”)

Why Cryptosystems Fail
(good encryption does not a secure network make; it’s how it’s implemented that counts)

The Demon In the Freezer
(1999 New Yorker article; “No one knows exactly who has smallpox today, or where they keep the virus, or what they intend to do with it”)

Birth of a Movement
(“Three thousand marketing messages rammed into your neocortex every day, whether you like it or not”)

Autism and engineers

December 15th, 2001 § Comments off § permalink

Wired ran an interesting article last month about the high rate of autism and Asperger’s syndrome in Silicon Valley. It’s believed that many engineers have autistic tendencies; Bill Gates, brilliant but lacking in social skills, is a frequently used example. Since the syndrome is inherited, Santa Clara County is becoming the autism capital of the world.

Leonids

November 18th, 2001 § Three comments § permalink

My roommate and I went up Page Mill Road last night to see the Leonids. The turnout was amazing. Cars lined the road all the way up to the top of the mountain.

And the meteor shower was spectacular. The meteors came in waves; there would be none at all for a few minutes, and suddenly three would pierce the night all at once. I spent about an hour watching meteors and imagining an indulgent god, tossing fireworks from the heavens for the amusement of his children.

Save our Internet

November 15th, 2001 § Comments off § permalink

Lawrence Lessig on the threat that new laws pose to the Internet as we know it:

Changes to the Internet’s original core will in turn threaten the
network’s potential everywhere—staunching the opportunity for
innovation and creativity. Thus, at the moment this transformation could
have a meaningful effect, a counterrevolution is succeeding in
undermining the potential of this network.

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