Friday, February 24, 2006


"Some critics claim that no amount of money or restructuring can turn a conglomeration of bloated bureaucracies into a lean, responsive, effective operation,” according the report, “but that theory has yet to be fully tested. American taxpayers still represent a vast, barely-tapped, source of money to fund such experiments. And we have an army of well-paid government officials who have plenty of time to make PowerPoint presentations on this topic."
As a civil servant all i can say is ... sad, but true ;)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How to Start a Startup

How to Start a Startup:
"as a rule you can recognize genuinely smart people by their ability to say things like 'I don't know,' 'Maybe you're right,' and 'I don't understand x well enough.'"
Amen brother. It drives me freaking bonkers when, instead of admitting ignorance, someone pretends to erudition by making something up on the fly. There's no shame in saying 'i don't know' or 'I'm not positive, but here's what I think may be true' ...

Richard Hamming: You and Your Research

Richard Hamming: You and Your Research:
"While going to meetings I had already been studying why some papers are remembered and most are not. The technical person wants to give a highly limited technical talk. Most of the time the audience wants a broad general talk and wants much more survey and background than the speaker is willing to give. As a result, many talks are ineffective. The speaker names a topic and suddenly plunges into the details he's solved. Few people in the audience may follow. You should paint a general picture to say why it's important, and then slowly give a sketch of what was done. Then a larger number of people will say, ``Yes, Joe has done that,'' or ``Mary has done that; I really see where it is; yes, Mary really gave a good talk; I understand what Mary has done.'' The tendency is to give a highly restricted, safe talk; this is usually ineffective. Furthermore, many talks are filled with far too much information."
Read the whole thing if you'd like advice from a top shelf scientist and engineer about how to do really meaningful research. His comments about how to do effective technical communication are spot on in my view; I've been to more conferences than I can easily count where the presenters take the easy way out by diving immediately into their very narrow realm of expertise.

I couldn't resist ...

Libertarian programmers :): "This is why so many of the best programmers are libertarians. In our world, you sink or swim, and there are no excuses. When those far removed from the creation of wealth-- undergraduates, reporters, politicians-- hear that the richest 5% of the people have half the total wealth, they tend to think injustice! An experienced programmer would be more likely to think is that all? The top 5% of programmers probably write 99% of the good software."

How to Make Wealth

How to Make Wealth:
"I can remember believing, as a child, that if a few rich people had all the money, it left less for everyone else. Many people seem to continue to believe something like this well into adulthood. This fallacy is usually there in the background when you hear someone talking about how x percent of the population have y percent of the wealth. If you plan to start a startup, then whether you realize it or not, you're planning to disprove the Pie Fallacy.

What leads people astray here is the abstraction of money. Money is not wealth. It's just something we use to move wealth around. So although there may be, in certain specific moments (like your family, this month) a fixed amount of money available to trade with other people for things you want, there is not a fixed amount of wealth in the world. You can make more wealth. Wealth has been getting created and destroyed (but on balance, created) for all of human history.

Suppose you own a beat-up old car. Instead of sitting on your butt next summer, you could spend the time restoring your car to pristine condition. In doing so you create wealth. The world is-- and you specifically are-- one pristine old car the richer. And not just in some metaphorical way. If you sell your car, you'll get more for it.

In restoring your old car you have made yourself richer. You haven't made anyone else poorer. So there is obviously not a fixed pie. And in fact, when you look at it this way, you wonder why anyone would think there was."

Nice article on how involvement in a start-up enterprise can make you rich.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hive Mind (cont'd)

Hive Mind 2:
"This is a universal law of vivisystems: higher-level complexities cannot be inferred by lower-level existences. Nothing -- no computer or mind, no means of mathematics, physics, or philosophy -- can unravel the emergent pattern dissolved in the parts without actually playing it out. Only playing out a hive will tell you if a colony is immixed in a bee. The theorists put it this way: running a system is the quickest, shortest, and only sure method to discern emergent structures latent in it. There are no shortcuts to actually 'expressing' a convoluted, nonlinear equation to discover what it does. Too much of its behavior is packed away.

That leads us to wonder what else is packed into the bee that we haven't seen yet? Or what else is packed into the hive that has not yet appeared because there haven't been enough honeybee hives in a row all at once? And for that matter, what is contained in a human that will not emerge until we are all interconnected by wires and politics? The most unexpected things will brew in this bionic hivelike supermind."
Ok, read the whole thing starting with the link in the last post. Really there's too much here to reduce to a blog post, but I'll hit a few of the philosophical notes: These ideas can be re-interpreted in a religious context-- deity emerging from collective humanity, or rather, collective humanity expressing the imprint of deity through earth-life...

What is the Hive Mind

Kevin Kelly --: Hive Mind
There is something both delicious and ludicrous about the notion of having the passengers of a plane collectively fly it. The brute democratic sense of it all is very appealing. As a passenger you get to vote for everything; not only where the group is headed, but when to trim the flaps.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Sorting Algorithms

Sorting Algorithms:
"sorting algorithms can be divided into two classes by the complexity of their algorithms. Algorithmic complexity is a complex subject (imagine that!) that would take too much time to explain here, but suffice it to say that there's a direct correlation between the complexity of an algorithm and its relative efficiency. Algorithmic complexity is generally written in a form known as Big-O notation, where the O represents the complexity of the algorithm and a value n represents the size of the set the algorithm is"

Hi, I'm here with Brian were haveing fun

Friday, February 17, 2006

Drunken Gay Bishops

From ScrappleFace:
"G. Robinson, the first openly-homosexual Episcopalian bishop, came under attack today for a recent statement in which he called his alcoholism a “disease” for which he’s getting treatment.

“Bishop Robinson has reinforced the stereotype that being a drunk is some kind of medical condition that needs a cure,” according to an unnamed spokesman for the American Drunkards Association (ADA), a non-profit group that helps people recover from Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. “Alcoholism isn’t a disease, it’s who we are."
Classic. I've often thought how odd it is that gays want so desperately for their behavior to be seen as biologically directed -- that wouldn't change people's distaste for queerness ... it would transform homosexuality into a disease or unfortunate mutation; perhaps curable via drugs , gene therapy, or pre-natal screening.
If homosexuals really feel like their lifestyle is a good thing, why not shake off the whole "we're victims of our DNA, just doing what we're programmed to do" argument and go more with a "we are free and unconstrained adults choosing the lifestyle we prefer, deal with it" line of attack?

Scott ends his post with the hilarious:

“My life sends a refreshing message to our parishioners of redemption without repentance,” he said. “It’s a real improvement on old-fashioned Biblical principles.”

Friday, February 10, 2006

How to get your missed TV shows with Azureus and Bittorrent

ipBS: Link:
Another step I took, so as not to miss new shows, was to set up a filter that will download all first season, first episodes of a any show. This way we can watch a new show when it comes out and decide if we want to get future episodes if we liked it.

I recommend Azureus, its a great bittorrent client, and I've toyed with the automated TV download plugins -- however I've found that just manually downloading content is easiest for me. Usually when a season is over you can find someone whos put the whole season in a single package, and its easiest to simply download entire seasons at a go. (Also, this makes it nice because you don't have to wait for the next episode -- you've got the whole season to watch whenever you have time.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

BYU Prof Cures AIDS

Salt Lake Tribune - Business:
In addition to being a potential checkmate to HIV, the compounds show indications of being just as effective against other diseases plaguing humankind - among them influenza, possibly even the dread bird flu, along with smallpox and herpes.
Savage said he and his BYU research team had been studying CSAs for eight years, noting the compounds' value against microbial and bacteria infections. It was only a year ago they saw that CSAs killed viruses, too.

Go Cougars!