Thursday, December 24, 2009

The "paradox of choice" is not robust

It has been a popular idea, both recently and throughout history, that reducing the scope, variety, or number of choices faced by people is or can be good. But apparently they can't measure the effect any more!

From Tyler at Marginal Revolution.

Font copyright question

Is it a violation of copyright to use a font by copying it by hand? If not, why should we treat computers (and, hence, files) differently?

The gift giving of economists

Do economists only/often/.../ever give cash gifts for birthdays/Christmas/Hannukah/weddings?

And what does that say about the relative importance of signaling in human affairs?

Are economists a stronger or weaker proxy for the importance of signaling in this regard?

In general, are guild allegiances sufficiently strong to counter public hypocrisy?


I thought I was going to watch G.I. Joe.

Instead, I watched Funny People.

G.I. Joe would have been HEAVY – like a truck.

Funny People weighed at least four (4) Earth suns.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Someone may be reading this (!)

Though she doesn't have a blog of her own.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Enso commands for your favorite webapps

Using Enso 'learn as open' command, I made the following 'open _' commands:

  • gmail; opens gmail in my browser (Chrome)
  • blog; opens
  • facebook

Now, I just hold the Caps Lock key and press 'o', then start typing any of the commands to launch the corresponding site.

This is almost as cool as the highlight (select) and 'Search google for _' Chrome command!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Organizational Capital versus Widgets

EconLog has had several posts about the recent productivity growth measured (of the US economy) and how it relates to 'organizational capital'. The idea is that productivity doesn't necessarily measure more labor on the part of the (remaining) workers; rather it can include substantial improvements in things like business processes, procedures – i.e. how a business operates. See this post for a recent example.

I have a perfect example from my own job: software as organizational capital. I work for a small software company and my job, as Support Director, has consisted in large part of developing improvements for our existing processes, like building the software from the latest 'source' version (e.g. making the new version of the program based on the accumulated changes made to fix bugs and add new features), or tracking the time we spend on specific projects or tasks. More and more, 'organizational capital' will be 'informational capital' in the form of software developed by internal programmers within a company!

Those spreadsheets that the Excel-guru in your company makes to track earnings, sales, etc. – encourage them to make them even better! Invest in your internal organizational-capital accumulators!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

They'll get you eventually

The most frightening thing about a byzantine legal system, beyond the uncertainty as to whether you are a criminal, is that you can get away with something for such a long time, that when the inefficient bureaucracies that make-up governments everywhere finally get around to your 'crime', you're screwed.

Rollercoaster isn't in the dictionary?!

WTF?! It's still "roller coaster"?! Insanity!

Note to self

Alcohol is not a good bargaining tool. An example.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Drinking from a Firehose

Wow &mdash gmail filters are ... amazing. And the 'create a filter' 'wizard' is brilliant. What do you want to do? This? That? Why certainly! Please &mdash you're too kind.

Though, I wonder: if you tell it to 'skip the inbox' and you only apply a label; where are the emails? In the label? [Does where even matter? It's really 'where'-ever it's accessed, so maybe the violation of strict folderism isn't really that bad, however inconsistent it seems to me now.]

The name of my filter I just created? "Paul Levin's Facebook firehose" &mdash I just made the almost-mistake of commenting on Paul's status update; it was "365 days till Bear Creek!!!!!!!". The Bear Creek Music Festival just ended yesterday evening. It was the fuckingshit. Only 365 days ...

[Oh ... I only get the first five comments to Paul's status that follow mine. Oh well &mdash the filters are still awesome. Even if I never use them again.]

We need to make everything easier

[I need to check that this little rant isn't completely off-base (false).]

We (programmers [especially of free or open-source software]) should be using tools that make it easy (i.e. easier) to let others collaborate with us.

I use Inkscape and I love it. It's a great, kickass vector-graphics editor and creator. I've used Illustrator before, as a trial and ... as pirated software, and I'd love to use Illustrator. I'd switch in a heartbeat – but it's $~270-300 ["~$270-300"?], so ... no thanks. Inkscape is good-enough.

But the PDF output is bloated. And I keep thinking about it. And I keep almost-downloading the source code, and all the tools, and I get as far as thinking these thoughts before I write this instead.

And I'm too scattered, in terms of the tools I use (let alone those I'd like to use!). I've programmed in dozens of languages and many more libraries and hundreds of different tools – just give me everything in one click and suddenly your development team is marginally more capable. Even if I do nothing other than read your source code.

This argument is completely general too. We need to (eventually) make everything easier – in the limit, no barrier isn't worth eliminating (even as everything of worth is defined by it's intrinsic 'barricades'!).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fuckin' Levi's

I was living under the delusion that Levi's were (still) quality jeans. I have been educated.

I've only had the damn things for a couple of months? [Right?]

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Makers has made my day – three days now in-a-row!

I'll buy a copy soon Cory!

I was sucked into it completely – I got home from a party last night around 5 (am) and finished the last ~50 pages by 6, and oh was it worth it.

It's an engaging, near-future tech-fi story following a handful of wonderfully motley characters. But the inspiration it's imparted has been the greatest pleasure &mdash my head is still spinning!

Periodic table

Check out this periodic table (and matching bench) &mdash from the MAKE blog.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I've been asked to ride the Wave

I just got my invitation and I've sent out a couple of invitations. I put up a notice on Facebook soliciting interested friends and acquaintances. Will it be too hard to use without all of my existing contacts?

Playing it safe doesn't make you an asshole

A great quote from Cory Doctorow's new book Makers:

Lots of people tried to play it safe. It didn’t make them assholes, even if it did make them ineffectual and useless.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

I love Congress

Finally! I need more room for newer books anyways. My only quibble with the article is the first phrase:

It’s hard to believe ...

I had no trouble believing.

John Hughes 1950-2009 · by Kurt Loder

More excellent writing by Kurt Loder. [Yes, of MTV News.]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'd Like to Cancel All My Orders!

Oops. Though ... maybe we should all smile on command. Nah, that's weird. What commands do we reasonably accept? "Watch out!" and the like for sure.

More Language Log – "Fucking shut the fuck up"

This is the most arcane &mdash and hilarious &mdash discussion of "the fuck" I have yet encountered.

It's *Not* Them Kids?!

A mild rebuke about bothering to check the facts.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Just Keep Waiting Dear

A bus stop, not on any bus route, for catching seniors.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

You've got a bad case of ... reading

This post is pretty dense, but it's amazing that our brains have so specific of an area in which they handle words.

Silent ringtones

The idea of a 'musical' road isn't new, but the comments to this post contained this gem I hadn't known:

Actually in Japan they sell ring tones for silent mode. These are designed so that if you put your phone on silent+vibrate and place it on a table or some other resonant surface then you can get the table to hum a tune.


I found a truly silent ringtone. Not a bad idea. But I can't find any reference to these supposed Japanse vibrating ringtones.

Inflation: US Civil War ($) = 67 Iraq Wars ($)

Ouch; a nice breakdown of the various measures of inflation with this:

The Civil War was one of the most devastating events in the history of the United States. It lasted from 1861 to 1865 and has been estimated to have direct cost about $6.7 billion valued in 1860 dollars. If this number were evaluated in dollars of today using the GDP deflator it would be $139 billion, less that one year of the cost of the current war in Iraq. This would be inappropriate, as would be using the wage or income indexes. The only measure that makes sense for an expenditure of this size is to use the share of GDP, as the four year cost of the war was more that the entire output of the country. Thus the relative value of $6.7 billion of 1860 would be $21 trillion today, or about 145% of our current GDP. The $6.7 billion does not take into account that the war disrupted the economy and had an impact of lower production into the future. Some economic historians have estimated this additional, or indirect cost, to be another $7.3 billion measured on 1860 dollars. This means the cost of the war (as a share of the output of the economy) was nearly $45 trillion as measured in current dollars.

According to, the total cost of the Iraq War to date (a few minutes before I posted this) was $667 billion. That's about 1/67 of the Civil War in 2009 inflation adjusted dollars. Fuck.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A new start

I want to write again, or at least so I now profess.

I've deleted all the existing posts &mdash I feel no attachment to those words.