Sunday, August 31, 2003

The unremarked scandal: Bush and the Smallpox program

Opinion - "Final results of a smallpox vaccine study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University show America's preparedness for a smallpox outbreak may be greater than initially thought.

The research shows 90 percent of those vaccinated 25 to 75 years ago maintain a substantial level of immunity. In addition, repeated vaccinations do not result in a higher level of disease protection."

This is very good news. Even those of us who were not immunized (Canadians & Europeans age <47) will benefit from a protective environment of resistant people. This data would change the Bush administrations smallpox prevention program -- if that program had not already sunk without a trace ... or much remark.

Of all the different ploys the Bush administration played prior to the invasion of Iraq, the Smallpox ploy was the most vile -- or the most incompetent. I'm not sure which explanation is worse.

Given what was "known" at that time about smallpox susceptibility, and given what the Bush administration leaked and implied about the probability of bioterrorism, there was ample justification for a national program of immunization. The outlines of that program, framed by the CDC based on the Bush administration's risk estimates, matched the grim rhetoric of the administration.

Except the administration didn't follow through on that rhetoric. Immunization rates were low, but the President said nothing. Physicians expressed very serious concerns about disability benefits in the event of vaccine injury, life insurance coverage for vaccine fatalities, etc. etc. None of these concerns were truly addressed.

So what was really going on? Did the Bush administration not believe their own estimates? In that case, they bear a terrible responsibility for the vaccine complications that did occur. Did they believe their innuendoes? Then they were terribly incompent - because they didn't correct a failing program.

A scandal either way. But one that has passed without remark. Instead the Bush administration must deal with the "16 words" scandal. That one is quite trivial, and it must be a relief for Rove to deal only with that.

Liberalism is for sissies

How to Talk About Israel

From a NYT Magazine article:
What Henry Jackson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu and George W. Bush have in common is that they enabled bookish men to feel tough, beautifully, enviably tough. Too much can be made of the connection between the Chicago philosopher Leo Strauss and officials in the current Pentagon, but one aspect of Strauss appears to have rubbed off on them. Born in Germany, Strauss was a liberal rationalist in his youth. He had hoped, he said, that anti-Semitism would end with Jewish assimilation in a liberal democracy. The Nazis taught him otherwise. By the 1920's he began to regard liberals as weaklings, powerless to stop the violent mob. If one thing ties neoconservatives, Likudniks, and post-cold-war hawks together, it is the conviction that liberalism is strictly for sissies."

This article is allegedly about anti-semitism and the assumptions of current political dialog, but some of the most interesting parts are about the Manichaean worldview of Christian evangelicals and neoconservatives. There is also a parallel theme about youthful conversions, as in the definition of a neoconservative: a liberal who's been mugged.

The link between liberalism and sissie-hood (and effiminacy) is one of the great rhetorical triumphs of the Republican party. Rumsfeld is a master of it; but he uses it so often that one wonders if it will eventually lose its potency. Such weapons are best held in reserve.

Web Index for Journalists: NYT Guide to the Net

CyberTimes Navigator

The NYT has long had a web guide for NYT journalists. They've recently updated it; it's an interesting perspective. I'll add this to my creaky old Family Physician index page.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

Choosing NiMH batteries and rechargers: a great review

Digital Imaging Accessories Review: The Great Battery Shootout

This is really a great article, it took me a while to find it though. I was looking for a NiMH AA charger and batteries for my SONY travel speakers -- this article covers the ground like nowhere else.

I ended up buying a Lightning Pack 4000N. They have a super reputation for tech support, a lifetime warrantee, a great web site, lots of details. For about $40 I got 12 batteries and the ultrathin portable intelligent recharger. This should pay for itself between the speakers and other devices, and it feels less wasteful than dumping all those alkaline batteries.

NiMH batteries and the problem with Google

MIT.EDU article on NiMH batteries

I wanted to learn more about rechargeable AA sized batteries. I tried standard google. All I got was reams of vendors. Usenet (Google Groups) was better. Best of all was a google search limited to .EDU sites. That's how I got the above reference, which is excellent.

There's tons of stuff like this out there. Problem is, Google can't find it. People complain about blogs taking up Google's top rankings, but usually the blogs provide interesting information. The much bigger problem is commercial sites. They're pushing reference material off the index.

Google needs a way to identify commercial sites, and a way to EXCLUDE them from searches. Problem is, they're Google's revenue stream. This fundamental conflict of interest will weaken internet search until someone comes up with a revenue stream aligned with the interests of the consumers. (Best of all would be if #!$#! internet users were willing to PAY for search services. I would, but there's only a dozen of us.)

It would be really cool if a metasearch site found a way to run google searches, strip out the commercial content, and display the results ...

Friday, August 29, 2003

Juvenile stupidity has a higher cost ...

Authorities arrest Minnesota teen in Internet attack: "... Tom Heffelfinger, the U.S. attorney for Minnesota, said the case will be turned over to a grand jury to decide whether more charges will be filed. If convicted of the one count already filed, Parson could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine."

I suspect this is a young nerd with more recklessness than sense or skill. He did not create the Blaster worm, he merely altered it and then distributed it in a way that pointed directly to him. I have a great deal of sympathy for his family.

There's more to this than meets the eye. Ever since Robert Morris (who is very skilled but shared the same teenage male recklessness as Parson) created the first worm, there's been a new level of consequence to testosterone induced male teenage stupidity. Instead of local consequences (wrecked cars), there can be global consequences (wrecked businesses).

It's the same technologically mediated expansion of consequences that has made 21st century terrorists far deadlier than 20th century variants.

So what happens in 20 years when a bio-hacking adolescent playfully creates a new organism that wipes out most of humanity?

Same behaviors, different consequences. The male frontal lobes are not fully matured to age 30. Once upon a time that was not such an enormous handicap.

Answers? I'd like to redesign humanity, but failing that I think we should get used to "Total Information Awareness" -- and we'll look back fondly at an era of freedom that future generations will be unable to imagine.

Microsoft may have gone a step too far when crushing

I, Cringely | The Pulpit: Stupid Microsoft Tricks
Why the Richest Company on Earth Feels it Needs to Cheat."

In my short memory Microsoft has gotten away with a lot of sharp business moves. This time they may have gone too far. As usual, it's not the actual practices but the cover-up that may get the attention.
... When Burst's lawyers put the messages in order by date and time, they claim to have noticed a peculiar phenomenon. There were literally no messages from approximately one week before until about a month after all seven meetings between the two companies. This meant that either Microsoft completely suspended its corporate e-mail culture for an aggregate period of 35 weeks, or there were messages that had been sent and received at Microsoft, but not divulged to Burst.

....It is too bad there were no backup copies of the erased messages. One would think a company like Microsoft would be more careful. Then one of the Burst lawyers pointed out testimony from a hearing in the Sun v. Microsoft antitrust case where Microsoft representatives said all e-mails were backed-up on more than 100,000 tapes that are held off-site. Surely the lawyers representing Microsoft weren't aware of this because if they had been, they wouldn't have said there was no back-up.
This will be interesting.

iTunes and iPod tips

Macworld: iTunes 3.0.1: "Navigate to the folder that contains the tunes on the networked volume and click the Choose button in the Add to Library window."

Some good tips. A few others:

1. iPod only displays the first few characters of song titles, so make them meaningful (esp. for classical and opera).
2. Use the custom genre unless you want Opera treated as classical.
3. The Genre hierarchy is: Genre:ARTIST:ALBUM:Song. Not very useful for classical music or opera where the COMPOSER is of primary interest. So consider #4. When classical music spans CDs, consider giving all the CDs the same album name.
4. Consider creating a smart playlist by composer for classical music and opera only rather than enabling "composer" in the top iPod menu (it's disabled by default).

Where is Raed: Salam Pax has his home searched

Where is Raed?

Oddly enough, given my interests and his blogging fame, I've only been reading his articles in The Guardian, and I don't catch all of them. I'll add this to my regular news page. For all the news I read on Iraq, this feels like the most insightful and convincing resource I've seen.

As an aside he mentions that that Iraqis expect the US forces to exit within the year; they pray for a UN force but fear civil war. Sounds about right, very unfortunately.

Mozilla Firebird: A Safari alternative?

Mozilla Firebird

Safari 1.0 was great, but we're past due for 1.1. Safari has odd crashing problems that Apple seems to be struggling to debug -- though doing a "reset" seems to have improved them for me. Worst of all is that copying text from Safari is badly broken -- it copies a variation of the source HTML.

Since Apple seems to be having issues with updating Safari, a lot of folks are getting interested in Firebird again. I'm going to give it a try. Maybe Camino might be resurrected as well ...

iVolume: set iTunes volume adjust slider

iVolume: "With iVolume you can bring all your iTunes songs to the same loudness... results of iVolume are much better than those of the built-in 'Sound Check' function in iTunes.... iVolume does not change any data of your audio files, so there is no loss in quality. iVolume simply adjusts the 'Volume Adjustment' slider that you can find in the information dialog of iTunes for every song."

This is a $7 shareware app. It sounds very clever. I'm definitely going to give it a try. Volume adjustment on the iPod is a bit of a nuisance and "Sounc Check" has a poor reputation. I want to see if the iPod will honor the iTunes volume adjust setting!

Thursday, August 28, 2003

No Republican Child Left Behind

The Kids Left Behind: "Next week the Senate will take up the education budget proposed for next year by the White House and Senate Republicans. From the perspective of those who are pro-children, it's loaded with bad news. Not only does the bill fall far short of the photo-op promises Mr. Bush made to provide funding for programs to improve public education, but it would actually cut $200 million from the president's very own (and relentlessly touted) No Child Left Behind Act."

So now it's an unfunded mandate. The design of this act, and the manner in which it's executed, seems designed to encourage migration of the wealthy to private schools while shuttering public schools.

Brad DeLong: The IMF Is Unhappy with Bush Fiscal Policies

The IMF Is Unhappy: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: "IMF is extremely unhappy with the feckless Bush Administration's macroeconomic policies"

Feckless is a good word. Bush seems to be determined to follow the 20th century path of Argentina. It's not that deficits are bad (war, recession, etc) or that tax cuts are bad; it's the way that Bush creates deficits and tax cuts that most economists think is completely bonkers.

At some point the bond market is going to start downgrading the US government. I can hardly wait.

It is going to be so painful to recover from this -- assuming we change government in two years.

Beauty pays off for male college professors

NYT Science 8/28 - The Hunk Differential:
Being beautiful pays off. Economists have found that men with above-average looks are paid about 5 percent more than those with average appearance, while those who are below average in looks have wages 9 percent below the mean.

But is this because of discrimination or productivity ... research by two economists, Daniel Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle, has found that beauty has a substantial payoff across a variety of occupations, even those where it doesn't seem to be inherently valuable....

Recently Mr. Hamermesh, a labor economist at the University of Texas at Austin who has long studied beauty and labor markets, wrote a paper with an undergraduate economics major, Amy Parker, that investigates the effect of beauty on a particular measure of performance: teaching evaluations for college professors ...

According to the economists' statistical analysis, good-looking professors got significantly higher teaching scores. ... good looks were significantly more important for men than women in producing high teaching evaluations. The same effect was found in earlier research relating wages to beauty ...

There is a correlation between physical beauty and economic success. The journalist in this NYT article assumed this is somehow directly related to beauty. This is probably partly true, but there's a much more interesting possibility.

Physical beauty is thought by many biologists to be a general "quality" marker. It takes a careful mixture of genetic quality, uterine environment, and environment to produce a beautiful adult. Symmetric appearance is a marker for precise execution of genetic programming, unobstructed by errors in reading or expression. A quality uterine environment with a healthy placenta is important too; an indirect market for nutrition and economic prosperity. Beauty requires a postnatal environment free of disease, injury, famine, etc.

So while beauty has some advantages, the correlation between economic success and beauty may be indirect. The true connection to current earnings may be from more prosaic causes: genetic excellence producing both beauty and cognitive capabilities, and economic prosperity producting beauty and social connections, training, income, etc.

In other words, beautiful people make more money because they are just better than the rest of us. (BTW, I am not beautiful).

If this seems to contradict the general impression of beautiful people being less than bright, I suggest viewing the incoming class at Harvard Medical School. Among many qualities, they are almost all physically attractive (indeed Harvard appears to select for physical attractiveness as a marker for "leadership qualities").

Now why this should be more true for men than women .... Ahh, I don't understand that!

PocketDock: iPod adapter for 6 pin firewire connector - Apple's Hardware Extensions

PocketDock: iPod adapter for 6 pin firewire connector
The tiny PocketDock lets you connect the new iPod’s docking port to a standard 6-pin FireWire cable, .. want to connect to another Mac or PC — to exchange files, or maybe just to charge the iPod’s battery...
accessories for the previous-model iPod, such as a car charger, the PocketDock will let you use them with the latest model...starts shipping September 12 for US$18.95

Apple is the master of proprietary, patented, connectors. It's the hardware equivalent of digital rights management; it provides customer lock-in. Microsoft, a software vendor, is strongly incented to "pervert" (add proprietary extensions) standard software interfaces, Apple, a hardware vendor, is strongly incented to "pervert" (add proprietary extensions) hardware interfaces.

Customers, of course, want open interfaces and open connectors -- but we're not smart enough to insist on them.

I suspect SendStation is challenging Apple to smack them down, and thus demonstrate that their customers are very much locked in. It will be interesting to see what happens!

If they get away with this, they'll sell a ton of these things. I'll buy one of course!

Red Houston: Home of the Republican Stalinists

For Houston Schools, College Claims Exceed Reality: "Davis High School, where students averaged a combined SAT score of 791 out of a possible 1600 in 1998, reported that every last one of its graduates that year planned to go to college."

Reminds one of the Stalinist claims of agricultural production and election results. Houston, bastion of the Bush wing of the Republican party, has given us both a Potemkin corporation (Enron) and a Potemkin educational system.

Too bad there's still a free press, but on the other hand Fox's numbers look pretty good. Rove needs to put the Office of Strategic Information to work.

Meanwhile, at home in Saint Paul, school rankings promise to turn our schools into a Potemkin system, where the weak are hidden or eliminated and gaming the system is job one. Alas, I was so naive to support standardized testing; I imagined the information would actually be used wisely. (My wife only occasionally reminds me of my error.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

GraphicConverter 4.8.1: new crop for photo service feature

Lemke Software GmbH, Peine - About GraphicConverter

It's possible this feature was added because I asked for it. It appeared within a few weeks of a request I'd made on the discussion list.

You access the "Crop for Photo Service" from the browser. Browse a folder of pictures, select the ones you want to crop. From the context menu choose "Crop for Photo Service" and watch what happens.

An amazing! time saver.

Scanners and OS X: Why things are the way they are

O'Reilly Network: Scanners and Mac OS X [Aug. 26, 2003]

I can affirm most of this from personal experience. Canon seems to have the best solutions at the moment, the PhotoShop Plug-Ins also work quite well with GraphicConverter.

Molly Ivins on the Wall Street Journal "The Journal, in addition to meretricious arguments, vast leaps over relevant stretches of fact and history, and an awesome ability to bend any reality to its preconceived ideological ends, also offers that touch of je ne sais quoi, that ludicrous dogmatism that never fails to charm."

Wicked and accurate. I like most of the WSJ, but the editorial pages are so awful that I refuse to subscribe.

Syl Jones writing on Martin Luther King and the March on Washington

Syl Jones: A dream that has not yet come true: "Using quotes from the Bible books of Amos and Revelation, and African-American folk-pulpit references to the Egyptian pharaoh of old, King gave words to the suppressed longings of many Americans who yearned for racial justice. With the Telstar satellite beaming his words across the world, he swung into a confident rocking rhythm at the prompting of singer Mahalia Jackson: 'Tell 'em about the dream, Martin,' she said. And so he did."

Syl Jones is probably little known outside the Twin Cities, but by default and practice he's the voice of the local Black community. He's also an excellent writer, and this is one of his very good columns.

The 50 bombs in Birmingham reminded me that Terrorism was not invented in Munich; it's as old as humanity and was well refined in the American south.

Social Software

Social Software: "Wikis, Grafitti, and Process"

This is an interesting article -- it is the first comparison I'd seen between a "version control system" and a Wiki. The ability to "undo", combined with someone interested in maintaining the Wiki, explains how they can survive.

The Retreat from Iraq: USA Today leads the way. - Dial down U.S. involvement in Iraq

This is the first editorial I've seen calling for a retreat from Iraq. It correctly predicts that the south would then split from the center, but it doesn't mention that the North will as well.

I think this editorial reflects Rumsfeld's thinking and his original intent. I was unable to tell from a quick Google search whether Etzioni has any relationship to Rumsfeld.

Was Rove behind the attack on Ambassador Joseph Wilson?

Mark A. R. Kleiman: "At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words."

Karl Rove is fingered as the man behind an alleged abuse of executive powers to attack an administration critic. Did Rove overstep?

Safari Quits Unexpectedly

Safari: Safari Quits Unexpectedly: "If behavior is back to normal, move the '' to the Trash. It will be recreated as needed by Mac OS X."

This is an interesting knowledge base article, some of the OS X debugging advice is very generic. OS X seems to be very prone to "corruption" of preference (.plist) files, and the consequences seem fairly mysterious. To put it mildly this is not a healthy situation; why doesn't the OS validate preference files and detect corrupted files?

I get random Safari Quits every few days. It's as annoying as all get out, especially when I have 15 tabs loaded and I'm paging through them.

It will be interesting to see if the problem is addressed in the next major release (Panther).

Rumsfeld's "office of strategic influence" lives on.

Back In Iraq 2.0: When is a reporter not a reporter?

A scoop for "Back to Iraq". Gotta love Rummy's rhetoric -- his master of scornful dismissal is unequalled. Unsurprisingly the OSI never really went away. (Nor was it merely subcontracted to Fox News.)

For that matter, I rather doubt that "total information awareness" has gone away.

On other fronts, neither Microsoft's "Palladium" nor "Passport" has gone away.

Deleting the name, and moving some bodies around, is a very good way to manage the American media and the American public.

Treating gum disease lowered premature births by 84%?

BBC NEWS | Health | Dental care 'cuts early births': "A study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed treating severe gum disease with scaling and root care cut premature births by 84%."

Hugh?! 84% is huge, but there were only @360 participants in the study. I wonder if they were selected for high risk of premature birth or for poor dental care. I suspect that this is poor journalism rather than a figure that could be extrapolated to the population at large.

On the other hand, bad gums are known to shower the bloodstream with a constant stream of bacteria. These bacteria are thought to lodge in a number of places, including arterial plaques (hence playing a role in atherosclerosis) and in the placenta (hence aging the placenta and possibly precipitating premature birth and/or pre-eclampsia). So the effect is not entirely implausible.

To put it mildly more research is needed. If this is born out it will be very good news for dental hygeinists. It's also great news for health care costs. The costs of care for a 30-32 week infant will pay for a LOT of peridontal cleanings.

Red wine, olive oil, and clean gums. The secrets to longer, happier lives? Hey, it's easier than exercise!

Monday, August 25, 2003

Resveratrol (Red Wine), Olive Oil (Favones) -- medicine doesn't get any better than this.

Ok, we'll hear far more about this soon. A few points of interest.

1. Rx qSupper: A glass of New York or Burgundy Pinot Noir along with bread dipped in fine (flavone rich) Olive Oil. Ahhh. I can't think of a more enjoyable form of medication.

2. Air exposure seems to destroy the Resveratrol. This is a nuisance, most of us aren't going to drink a bottle a day! I don't know if the inert gas preservatives help. Probably cheap, highly stressed New York Pinot Noir in a plastic bag dispenser might work best. :-)

3. Resveratrol is produced by wine in response to stress, it keeps the grape alive in stressful conditions. Sounds a lot like its putative function in animals. Does this mean that its fundamental function predates the division between plants and animals, or between chloroplasts and mitochondria? Do bacteria produce resveratrol in response to environmental stress? (Resveratrol, oddly enough, has been thought to be used as antifungal agent by grapes.)

4. Does this remind one of Woody Allan's Sleeper? (The sleeper awakes to learn that steak and cigarettes are healthy.)

5. Would bottled grape juice (European style) work as well? (And be less problematic?)

6. What if Gallic "superiority" is not merely a cultural trait, but rather a side-effect of Resveratrol? Well, that's only a problem for other people ...

Study Spurs Hope of Finding Way to Increase Human Life

... So far Dr. Sinclair and his colleagues have shown only that resveratrol, the chemical found in red wine, prolongs life span in yeast, a fungus, by 70 percent. But a colleague, Dr. Mark Tatar of Brown University, has shown, in a report yet to be published, that the compound has similar effects in fruit flies. The National Institute of Aging, which sponsored Dr. Sinclair's research, plans to start a mouse study later in the year.

... Resveratrol, ... is unstable on exposure to the air and "goes off within a day of popping the cork."

... Resveratrol is synthesized by plants in response to stress like lack of nutrients and fungal infection. It exists in the skin of both red and white grapes but is found in amounts 10 times as high in red wine as in white because of the different manufacturing process.

According to "The Oxford Companion to Wine," pinot noir tends to have high levels of the chemical, cabernet sauvignon lower levels. "Wines produced in cooler regions or areas with greater disease pressure such as Burgundy and New York often have more resveratrol," the book says, whereas wines from drier climates like California or Australia have less.

Besides resveratrol, another class of chemical found to mimic caloric restriction is that of the flavones, found abundantly in olive oil, Dr. Howitz said.

Faughnan's Notes

I added a Google toolbar for searching the blog, but Google has not yet indexed the new blog address. I've resubmitted for indexing, Google seems to do blogspot updating within 1-2 weeks. Until then it won't be a very valuable search tool!

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Friedman on Iraq: Failing at the Big One

Fighting 'The Big One'

We may fail, but not because we have attracted terrorists who understand what's at stake in Iraq. We may fail because of the utter incompetence with which the Pentagon leadership has handled the postwar. (We don't even have enough translators there, let alone M.P.'s, and the media network we've set up there to talk to Iraqis is so bad we'd be better off buying ads on Al Jazeera.) We may fail because the Bush team thinks it can fight The Big One in the Middle East — while cutting taxes at home, shrinking the U.S. Army, changing the tax code to encourage Americans to buy gas-guzzling cars that make us more dependent on Mideast oil and by gratuitously alienating allies.

We may fail because to win The Big One, we need an American public, and allies, ready to pay any price and bear any burden, but we have a president unable or unwilling to summon either.

In the matter of Iraq, I've been somewhat to the left of Friedman. Still, he's made some good arguments. Back when I merely distrusted and disliked George Bush, I conceded I could imaging "facts"that might have led me to support invasion -- but I had no trustworthy access to any such facts. (Later it turned out neither did George Bush, but that's another matter.)

So I'm not always that far away from Friedman. He knows much more than most, and he spends time in Iraq and the middle east. I always listen to him.

Here I'm in full agreement with him. To invade Iraq was a debateable matter, but the mishandling of friends (gratuitious alienation is the perfect phrase) and the abysmal incompetence of the Rumsfeldians is not a matter for debate. To make such a weighty and terrible choice, but then to plan the consequences on the basis of wishful thinking, ignorance, and malice...

I only hope that those "entangled networks" I write of are as strong as I speculate -- so that wiser heads than Bush/Rumsfeld will see us through. (What the heck is Bill Gates doing with his billions anyway? Can't he buy us a better government?!)

Minnesota million dollar homes: Marker for a new aristocracy?

MN Star Tribune 8/23/03: More people are buying homes that cost a million dollars or more

They're popping up all around the Twin Cities: Atop the hills of Medina; along Lake Minnetonka's shoreline; facing the Minneapolis skyline from its hills and lakes, and along the Mississippi River. And, of course, in Edina, the original exclusive suburb.

Big, fabulous houses. Houses with walls of windows, acres of landscaped yards, kitchens to die for. Million-dollar houses, multimillion dollar houses. Rare in the Twin Cities 25 years ago, now they're all over. Where do they come from? Who buys them?

As recently as five years ago, million-dollar home sales were a rarity in the Twin Cities market. Today, there are more than 300 for sale, maybe more -- the 300 are just those listed through a Realtor...

A combination of skyrocketing land costs and soaring labor expenses has dovetailed with an insatiable appetite for luxury and the richest generation the United States has ever seen. As an estimated $2 trillion to $11 trillion dollars moves from one generation to the next in inherited wealth, baby boomers are looking for a place to sink their new-found riches. ....

"Why not live in your bank?" asked Minneapolis architect Garth Rockcastle, and some boomers are. Many are expressing an increasing willingness to invest a greater share of their wealth in real estate.

"We're looking at a period of prosperous times," said Tom Jones, a real estate agent with 25 years' experience in upper-end homes. "In the last five or six years, more people are interested in spending significant amounts of money to restore or enhance old classic houses or to build new residences at that same structure and construction level."....

That's no longer true. Thanks in large part to a healthy economy and the lowest mortgage interest rates in history, more than 75 percent of the households in Minnesota own their homes.

Many who buy million-dollar houses are immune to interest rates -- they often pay cash -- low rates combined with rising income have caused an incredible surge in demand for all housing during the past decade....

Baby boomers -- those born between 1946 and 1964 -- comprise the largest sustained population growth in the history of the United States. And they're now in their peak earning -- and spending -- years...

According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, during the past year 182 houses sold for more than $1 million. That doesn't include new houses and those not listed through the Regional Multiple Listing Service. Five years ago there were only 59 and a decade ago only 25 (adjusted for inflation)....

This is an interesting article. The Bush Estate Tax repeal will accelerate a dynamic of wealth concentration that seems to have picked up in the 1970s and has been driven by the 20th century economic boom, the lifespans of those born between 1920 and 1940, and the unprecedented expansion of "winner take all" economic marketplaces. [1]

What will our society look like in 20 years? Will it look like the egalitarian mythos of 20th century America, or more like post-industrial England? I'm betting on a powerful and ascendant aristocracy, with a lot of openings for governesses, chefs, groundskeepers, athletic trainers, tutors, travel aides, butlers, etc.

Well, tutoring the gen-elite children of a the aristocracy will probably pay better than bagging groceries (which will be done by robots anyway ....).


[1] Winner take all economics has been a popular research domain in the past 20 years. It applies to CEOs, sports superstars, ace programmers, and in many other domains. I think most economists expect network effects to continue to amplify this trend.

Safari Slowdown Fix, and other problems

The tip below is a good one, but Safari really needs an update. The bug that gives me the most pain is that copying and then pasting Safari text often includes chunks of html, style sheets, text encoding, etc. This bug was first acknowledged about two months ago.

Safari got off to a great start, but it's not living up to its promise. (A bit of a trend with some of Apple's software; iCal, iPhoto and maybe iSight are other well known examples.) Apple seems to be in a trend of great beginnings with a failure to follow through. This wouldn't be so bad, except Apple's great beginnings are knocking all competitors off the Mac platform.

If Apple is going to be the dominant Mac OS X application vendor, they need to fix their products faster. Maybe a widely available "beta" program?

Apple - Discussions - Safari slowdowns: quick & easy fix

My Safari 1.0 suddenly became very slow to launch, and started giving beachballs a lot... The fix I finally found is easy--and several other people have said it works for them too. You could try it even if you don't know you have a problem--I've been told it has helped people who didn't even know Safari could be faster.

Empty out the Icons folder in your user's Library/Safari folder. (I left the folder there, but threw out what was inside.)

Start Safari up and all should be well. No need to throw out prefs, Reset, repair permissions, or re-install Safari. I've heard some very painful fixes for this problem--and they usually include throwing out a lot more than necessary.

The culprit seems to be a bug regarding the favicons (the little icons on bookmarks). That Icons folder stores the favicons of the places you've visited. It can grow to several MB--but whether that's what triggers the bug I cannot say.

Side-effect: After doing this, your bookmarks will have generic icons. But don't worry, as you visit your bookmarks, each icon will return. Use this tip at your own risk, but it seems pretty harmless.

Franken is Fair and Balanced.

Making Light: Federal judge denies Fox's request for injunction

One of the three legs of American government is still working. One hopes Fox is stupid enough to appeal. This is too much fun to end now.

NEW YORK A federal judge on Friday denied Fox News Channel’s request for an injunction to block humorist Al Franken ‘s new book, whose title mocks the Fox slogan “fair and balanced.”

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said the book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right is a parody protected by the First Amendment.

“There are hard cases and there are easy cases,” the judge said. “This is an easy case. This case is wholly without merit, both factually and legally.” ....

Franken called the ruling a victory for the First Amendment and satirists everywhere “even bad satirists.”

“In addition to thanking my own lawyers,” Franken said, “I’d like to thank Fox’s lawyers for filing one of the stupidest briefs I’ve ever seen in my life.”

The ruling opened the door for lawyers for Penguin and Franken to file a motion to dismiss the suit altogether. In addition to denying the injunction, the judge took direct aim at Fox for bringing the case.

“It is ironic that a media company, which should be protecting the First Amendment, is seeking to undermine it,” Chin said.


Franken’s book went on sale nationally Thursday, moved up from its September rollout date because of publicity from the lawsuit. Penguin added 50,000 copies to the original run of 270,000 after the suit was filed.

Friday, August 22, 2003

George Bush: The Economist has buyer's remorse? | Lexington

The Economist was infatuated with George Bush. Before his election they were uncritical cheerleaders, after his "victory" they sang his praises. By the end of year one they seemed a bit nervous. By July of this year, it looks like they've got buyer's remorse. In this July 5th column by Lexington they even praise Clinton. Emphases mine.

... These [medicare] bills point to two conclusions that are worth pondering by people who don't give a fig about co-payments. The first is that the Republicans are mighty shrewd when it comes to short-term political manoeuvring. The second is that they are almost completely indifferent to the basic principles of sound finance...

... Republicans are already bragging that Mr Bush's embrace of Medicare reform is the same as Bill Clinton's embrace of welfare reform back in 1996 -- manoeuvre that magically transforms a liability into a strength.

There is, however, one tiny difference. Welfare reform was an admirable policy that led to a sharp reduction in welfare rolls. Medicare reform is lousy policy. The Republicans have given up any pretence of using the new drug benefit as a catalyst for structural reform. They are doing nothing to control costs or to target government spending on people who really need it. They are merely creating a vast new entitlement programme -- programme that will put further strain on the federal budget at just the moment when the baby boomers start to retire.

This might be tolerable if the Medicare boondoggle were an isolated incident. But it is par for the course for this profligate president. Every year Mr Bush has either produced or endorsed some vast new government scheme: first education reform, then the farm bill, now the prescription-drug benefit. And every year he has missed his chance to cut federal pork or veto bloated bills.

As Veronique de Rugy of the Cato Institute points out, federal spending has increased at a hellish 13.5% in the first three years of the Bush administration ("he is governing like a Frenchman"). Federal spending has risen from 18.4% of national income in 2000 to 19.9% today. Combine this profligacy with huge tax cuts, and you have a recipe for deficits as far ahead as the eye can see...

... Mr Bush seems to have no real problem with big government; it is just big Democratic government he can't take. One-party rule, which was supposed to make structural reform easier, also looks ever less savoury. Without a Congress that will check their excesses, the Republicans, even under the saintly Dr Frist, have reverted to type: rewarding their business clients, doling out tax cuts and ignoring the fiscal consequences.

This opportunism may win Mr Bush re-election next year, but sooner or later it will catch up with his party at the polls. The Republicans are in danger of destroying their reputation for managing the economy -- something that matters enormously to the "Daddy Party" (which sells itself as being strong on defence and money matters). The Democrats can point out that Bill Clinton was not only better at balancing the budget than Mr Bush. He was better at keeping spending under control, increasing total government spending by a mere 3.5 % in his first three years in office and reducing discretionary spending by 8.8%.

The Republican Party's conservative wing stands to lose the most from this. Some conservatives credit Mr Bush with an ingenious plan to starve the government beast: the huge tax cuts will eventually force huge spending cuts. But this is rather like praising an alcoholic for his ingenious scheme to quit the bottle by drinking himself into bankruptcy...

I'd say the love affair may be over.

The Alabama monument: Marker for the new Christian Nation? - Judge suspended over Ten Commandments - Aug. 22, 2003: "Asked on CNN whether he would support an Islamic monument to the Koran in the rotunda of the federal building, Moore replied, 'This nation was founded upon the laws of God, not upon the Koran. That's clear in the Declaration (of Independence), so it wouldn't fit history and it wouldn't fit law.' "

Apparently Moore considers "God" to be the Deity of the Republican Right. Since the God of the Koran is the God of Abraham, the Republican Right may even have problems with the Old Testament. (The religious right, of course, has no real connection to the New Testament).

This is a potentially historic event. The Religious Right feels this is the time to formally declare that the United States is a "Christian" (Old Testament variant) nation. They think that Bush was sent by God to make this declaration.

Perhaps it's the influence of millenial thinking.

This is very tricky for Bush. If he lets them down they may react like a jilted lover. Karl Rove will be desperate that this be handled at the state level.

Bush/Ashcroft and Civil Rights: A pattern of deception.


Phil Carter, a former marine and law student, has written an excellent summary of Bush/Ashcroft's post 911 actions limiting civil rights. I've never before seen them listed in one place; it's an impressive list.

These actions, various prevarications about tax cuts and economics, the pattern of deceit prior to invading Iraq, the suspicion that the Bush administration has been actively concealing a record of pre-911 hijack warnings, the semi-fraudulent smallpox immunization program (which was part of the case for invastion), Bush's many environmental whoppers, suppression of reports from federal scientists on climate change ... it's quite a collection.

Even if most people don't get the overall picture, they get the gradual impression. Bush is slowly acquiring a very substantial credibility problem. Either he's delusional, or he and his team really feel that the public can't handle anything close to the truth, or he fears political defeat if he speaks the truth.

And people thought Clinton was truth challenged.

Globalisation: It's working for most -- but not all (The Economist)

In Memory of Rudi Dorbusch: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal

Brad DeLong quotes more of the article than I'd dare to (I'm an Economist subscriber, so I can read it on their web site). I need to update my web page on poverty with this information.

The graph DeLong shows really is fascinating. I will quote the Economist's conclusion:
... the more closely one looks at the charts, the stronger the case for globalisation seems. The real question—at least so far as reducing global poverty is concerned—is not whether globalisation is a good thing, but why some countries (and in Africa's case an entire region) find it so difficult to participate. The answers, as Mr Fischer relates, are complicated. Rich- and poor-country governments alike are partly to blame.

America and the European Union both maintain trade restrictions that hurt the developing countries. They have been promising reform for years, but the world is still waiting. Mr Fischer calls for “significant increases” in aid, though he acknowledges that aid will need to be more selective if its patchy record of success to date is ever going to be improved.

But governments of the poorest countries themselves bear much of the responsibility. Many of the world's highest trade barriers are those imposed by poor-country governments on trade with other poor countries—to say nothing of the failure to provide security or stability, or of the enormous sums (including money received as aid) squandered on vanity public projects or luxuries for the ruling circles and their chums. For countries with governments like this, globalisation is always going to be difficult to achieve.

Like many people I've become a bit less of an advocate of globalisation than I once was, and less than the writer of this piece still is, but I'm still a strong advocate. Ever since I spent a day in 1981 at a Dakka glass factory, I've believed that trade and commerce was a far better approach to reducing poverty than conventional aid programs.

I must note that The Economist has also nuanced their support of globalisation. A recent survey of capital markets emphasized the profound injury that unrestrained capital markets caused many poor nations, and many middle-tier nations, in the 90s. Greed and corruption is universal and must be a part of any analysis of poverty reduction.

All that being said, I still see globalisation as the only way to substantially improve the well being of most of the world. I think for globalisation to suceed we do need to put some significant shock absorbers in place. Poor nations can be whipsawed by capital flows and the displacement of the country-side, rich nations by the political and personal shock of industry transitions. A substantial piece of the US IT industry is moving oversease. Conventional trade theory says that this economic opportunity will be replaced by new possibilities -- but a 45 yo Java guru cannot become a world class violinist or a high earning butler overnight. Humans don't adopt that quickly.

Because humans can't adopt so quickly, we experience significant periods of disequilibria. Disequilibria causes widespread economic, social, and political strains. If, as some expect, change will accelerate worldwide, so too will disequilibria and its consequences.

Look for Nordic-style socialism to make a comeback, even as globalisation must and should continue.

Sobig, Spam, and the Demise of Email ... but there is a fix.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Sobig is biggest virus of all

The debut of sobig (see my early encounter) may be acknowledged as the day the original internet email model (SMTP) died.

I'm having trouble contacting business partners because of network disruptions from Sobig and other (seemingly) unrelated viruses. It turns out a large percentage of Chinese PCs run without patches or virus protection, many of them are now infected and are pumping out Sobig emails. Many will never get patched. [1]

Supposedly the Sobig distributed SMTP server will start pumping out spam this weekend. If that really happens, based on what we're seeing now, this will be a historic episode. Network effects may bring down both a large part of the North American electrical grid AND the Internet itself.

The sad thing is there's a simple and affordable technical fix for spam. It's a bit subtle in how it works, but I believe over time it would take care of the problem. Essentially it's variable filtering by the receiving service (IMAP, POP, etc) based on the reputation [2] of the sending service (SMTP), with optional user preferences.

I think 3 to 5 levels of filtering would do the trick. Messages from an authenticated sending service with a good reputation (low spam output) would not be filtered. No messages would get deleted. Today most legitimate corporations and some ISPs fall into that category.

Messages from an average reputation sending service (many ISPs, most academic servers, etc) would experience fairly severe filtering; some valid messages would be erroneously deleted. Filtering does that, sorry. If you think filtering is perfect, you don't understand positive predictive value. Little or no spam would get through and no Sobig messages.

Messages from a poor reputation sending service, or a sending service with no reputation (that would include all the Sobig messages, Sobig is its own sending service) would experience severe filtering. A lot of valid messages would be deleted. No spam would get through and no Sobig messages.

There are several optional variations on this approach. Advanced users could set their own preferences for how different sending services are handled, or implement filters on their own mail clients. Digitally signed email might be handled differently; this is how legitimate marketers could reach people who WANTED marketing material.

This is a sneaky approach. It doesn't work all at once, though it helps a lot immediately. Fairly quickly users would understand that their email is basically "first class" or "third class" based on their ISP or sending service. They would push their ISP/sending service to improve its reputation, or they would switch. They want their email to get through. End user management becomes the domain of the sending service; they can apply approaches that work best for their clients.

It's not a super high tech solution. It's sneakier than it sounds at first. I think it would work.


[1] I've long thought that Microsoft benefitted from its insecure software in several perverse ways. One of them I described earlier. Another is that once Microsoft stops providing security patches to an OS it really should no longer be exposed to the Internet in any way. The latter turns out to be a two edged sword -- those insecure machines can then be turned into weapons that attack Microsoft (and the rest of us too.) Microsoft may not be able to stop patching their legacy OSs.

[2] This is a variation of reputation management. Reputation management implies authentication. There are several ways to authenticate sending services, I think that is manageable.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Duluth Superior Bike Map

Duluth-Superior Bike Map - PDF:

Impressive! It's a 3MB PDF. I love it when maps are distributed as true vector-based PDF rather than (yech) JPEG. In addition to being a bike map, it's a great Duluth map as well.

BLOGGER gives Safari a Lo-Fi interface, but at least tech support is eager!

BLOGGER - Knowledge Base

Safari gets the Lo-Fi interface, unless you use the debug feature to spoof IE/Mac. Then you get the Mozilla interface. I complained about this to BLOGGER's new support group. I didn't expect a reply, but their support people are rabid. Here's what they wrote me:

Thanks for writing in about Safari. Please read this weblog post by Dave
Hyatt, one of Safari's developers:

Blogger uses tricky/advanced javascript and dhtml to render its interface,
and unfortunately Safari doesn't support what we need (yet). We assume
Safari will continue to evolve (as will Blogger's interfaces), and we hope
the needed support will eventually be added to it.

Many of us here are Mac/Safari users, and prefer using LoFi; it's a
quicker, slimmer interface, and is fully-featured.


Not fully convincing, since I wasn't looking for the DHTML interface, only the Mozilla interface. Still, it's something that they do have Safari users and they respond to feedback. I use both the IE and Lo-Fi interfaces, the IE is much more efficient.

Probably worthwhile for Safari users to submit a comment to BLOGGER.

Health Costs Compared

Health Costs Compared

" BOSTON, Aug. 20 — A comparison of health care costs has found that 31 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the United States pays administrative costs, nearly double the rate in Canada.

Researchers who prepared the comparison said today that the United States wasted more money on health bureaucracy than it would cost to provide health care to the tens of millions of the uninsured."

This isn't new, but it's an update on old data. It actually sounds like administrative costs in Canada are higher than they used to be, probably because of more private insurance in some provinces. I think they used to be only 10%.

The study I found MOST interesting was done about a year ago. It got very little press. That study showed that for common serious acute illnesses, Canadian's had better outcomes than comparable Americans. Everyone knows that Canada does better with infant mortality, prenatal care, immunizations, preventive care, hospice care, etc etc -- but the presumption was that the US system did better with heart attacks and appendicitis. Not so, Canada still has better results. The studies don't address why; it may be the two groups were not really comparable. For example, we know ethnicity affects outcomes even when healtchare seems identical and wealth is controlled for.

Still, these studies put a lot of pressure on those who argue that the US has "the best healthcare system in the world". That's BS. We don't, not by a long shot. We have areas of true excellence, particularly for the wealthy, but we're overall second rate.

Update on addiction from the Director of the NIDA

A Scientist's Lifetime of Study Into the Mysteries of Addiction: " The co-morbidity of depression and smoking is close to 90 percent. Do you know what percentage of schizophrenic patients take cigarettes or take drugs? Eighty-five. "

In addition to my medical training, I have a longstanding special interest in addiction. So I was kind of annoyed to learn so many interesting things in this brief news story. I should have come across this material in my medical journals!! This says something about the way information is distributed, and how it fails to get separated from noise.

Addiction is fascinating. I personally think free will, and thus "responsibility", is an illusion; that which gives me a somewhat different perspective on addiction. (I'm hoping our historical concepts of responsibility will whither and die in the next 40 years. Assuming we're still around, something a bit more thoughtful may replace it.)

There's a note at the end of the article that should set sirens off:

"When we look at the brains of young methamphetamine abusers, they look like the brains of people 40 to 50 years older. So what drugs are inducing in your brain is aging. "

The only thing that will rescue our economy in 20 years is to slow the aging of the human brain. She's claiming we know of a drug that accelerates brain aging. So, DARN IT, we have the opportunity to experiment with brain aging in rats and see if we can find an agent that slows brain aging with metamphetamine exposure. Then we can see if the agent gives us clues to slow brain aging without metamphetamines.

Happily this probably occurred to a lot of people a long time ago.

The Omni Group - Applications - OmniOutliner - Extras

The Omni Group - Applications - OmniOutliner - Extras: "View your OmniOutliner documents on your iPod! Download this disk image file for two different scripts to either export outlines so that they show up in the iPod's Contacts menu, or in the Notes menu for newer iPods."

OmniOutliner now has a number of appealing "exras" that extend its functionality. I'm going to have to look at it again. It's no MORE 3.1, but it shows nice growth and development.

Slate: A strange, strange, strange universe

My So-Called Universe - Our cozy world is probably much bigger—and stranger—than we know. By Jim Holt
.... For instance, measurements of the cosmic background radiation (the echo left over from the big bang) indicate that the space we live in is infinite and that matter is spread randomly throughout it. Therefore, all possible arrangements of matter must exist out there somewhere—including exact and inexact replicas of our own world and the beings in it. The idea is a bit like that of monkeys in front of typewriters eventually typing out all of Shakespeare: Quantum theory says that nature is discrete, so the visible universe we inhabit is characterized by a finite amount of information; if space is infinite, this informational pattern is bound to repeat at vast enough distances. A back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that there should be an exact copy of you around 10 to the 10 to the 28th light-years away...
In 1980 or so, during a public lecture, I asked Kip Thorne what his wildest speculation was. As I recall, he wondered back then if it would be possible to travel back in time to a universe that had branched from our own. He laughed as he said this.

Fast forward a generation. All of cosmology has gone off the deep end. How deep? People far smarter and more focused than I talk seriously about infinite space, endless worlds, new universes aborning every fraction of a femtosecond, universes of unimaginable physics. The "hard science" in the science fiction of the past 10 years is almost unimaginably complex -- and that's the "non-fiction" part.

In this setting the idea of a Designed Universe is not so wild. Why not? In a multiverse there's room for a trillion trillion Deities. Heck, maybe a trillion Deities are born every passing second.

Some wilder types have noted there's no clear distinction between a Designed Universe and a simulation.

Ahh, for the good old days of the Big Bang.

Keegan on Iraq: Laying the neocon groundwork for more troops?

Telegraph | Opinion | Iraq is not another Vietnam, but the coalition needs more men

Keegan is a military historian favored by the Neocons. He makes a persusasive case that Vietnam was militarily a greater challenge than Iraq is today. Vietnam was a truly monstrous quagmire.

On the other hand the techniques of terrorism are more advanced nowadays, and the goals of the "insurgents" are varied. They do not appear to be so "rational" as the North Vietnamese. Some seem to be Islamic fundamentalists, who wish to destroy secular society in Iraq by creating maximal disruption of the foundations of a technologic civilization. Others are Baathists, who may hope to rule a portion of Iraq after the Coalition retreats and the country is partitioned. In both cases turning the Iraqi population against the Coalition is a prerequisite. That can best be done by terrorizing both the local populace and the Coalition, and increasing Coalition killings of incidental non-combatants.

I found parts of Keegan's article I found a bit condescending, and his ending statement of "The anti-war element in the Western media will be doing a service to no one, least of all the Iraqi people, if they allow their pleasure at the spectacle of post-war disturbance to undermine the coalition's efforts to establish a lasting peace" really degraded the quality of his essay. That parting comment is a cheap piece of rhetorical mud slinging. It's so lowbrow and irrational that it makes me question the rest of what's otherwise an interesting analysis.

Bush's mishandling of the UN and Turkey, and the failure of the neoCons to listen to listen rationally to the CIA and the State Department, has really put the US behind the 8 ball. On the other hand, I don't think things are hopeless, and I'm pretty sure the UN alone won't be able to patch things up; if the US/UK leave Iraq the country will be partioned. (I suspect Rumsfeld's strategy was always to partion Iraq between the Turks/Kurds/Iran and Kuwait, leaving a central Sunni portion without oil revenue.)

I don't know enough to say what should be done, other than the obvious (troop rotation, more troops, better relations with the UN, lean on Syria, etc). Keegan also calls for more troops. I wonder if he's laying the groundwork for the UK to press the US Neocons to ask for another Division.

The single thing that I'd like to see is Rumsfeld to be pushed aside. He had more than his chance and he blew it. Time to get someone who's bit less persuaded of their omniscience.

MacInTouch Reader Report: Audio Conversion - Digitizing LPs, DAT tapes, others

MacInTouch Reader Report: Audio Conversion

Macintouch reader threads are usually pretty good, but this is by far the best discussion I've ever seen on digitizing audio. It explains why this is so hard to get right, and why so many play with it a bit and then give up.

I've personally had reasonable results, given my low standards, using an iBook, iMic, and Amadeus II with OS X 10.2.6 to digitize cassette tapes. The iBook is pretty marginal -- you really want a G4. Even with a faster CPU the proces is still somewhat tedious, but to my tone deaf ears it sounds ok on my iPod.

Sometime I have to update an ancient page of mine with some photos of my setup and the particular settings I've used.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Mac OS X speed FAQ

Mac OS X speed FAQ

A very straightforward and excellent summary of tips for speeding OS X performance.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003


NY Daily News - Ideas and Opinions - Bill O'Reilly: Calling Al Franken a satirist is a farce: "Now Fox News is striking back by putting the demonizers on notice that they will be held responsible when they violate trademarks or launch defamatory personal attacks on Fox personnel."


Symantec Security Response - W32.Sobig.F@mm

Symantec Security Response - W32.Sobig.F@mm: "Creates the file, %Windir%\winsst32.dat."

I'm getting tons of this virus in my email (actually tons of notices of the virus being deleted by my ISP). Highly annoying.

Jon Udell: The future of online community

Jon Udell: The future of online community:

From Jon's Weblog (emphasis mine, including the shameless plug ...
I used to think I knew what online community was all about. I thought it had something to do with discussion forums, like the one here at InfoWorld I've recently tried to colonize. Having spent too many years, keystrokes, and brain cells debating the pros and cons of various discussion technologies, I'll just cut to the chase. This WebX thing is not working for me. It's not simply that the software mangles URLs, doesn't preview messages, and handles topics and threads in a way I find awkward. What's broken, for me, is the idea that an online community is a place where people gather, and a centralized repository of the discussions held in that place. In that model, I've concluded, the costs are just too high. It's expensive to join. It's expensive to participate, because interactive discussion demands a lot of attention. And it's expensive to leave, because the repository has your data, and may or may not (probably won't) preserve its linkable namespace or hand the data back to you in a reasonable form.

The weblog model reduces all these costs. It's single sign-on: just log into your own blog software. There's less pressure to participate: you can acknowledge other blogs that comment on your stuff, or not. You control the data and can, if you choose, ensure that your namespace persists.

There are tradeoffs, of course. People do miss the feeling of direct interaction. Comment trails attached to blog items are one attempt to recreate the feeling of a discussion. Trackbacks/pingbacks are another. For me, neither quite manages to restore that sense of place and belonging that is lost when you switch to blogging's more loosely-coupled mode of interaction. But I think we'll get there. And when we do, virtual community is going to be even more virtual than we think of it today.

For a couple of years, Steve Yost has been pushing the idea of ThreadML -- that is, a way of representing discussions as portable XML objects. When I went back and looked at the column where I first mentioned Steve's idea, I found it to be a quilt woven from many threads. It began with a wonderful essay posted by John Faughnan to my newsgroup -- which I'm glad I quoted in the column, because the newsgroup is now defunct. The column went on to weave in discussion at Steve's QuickTopic site, on the Yahoo Groups syndication list, on Rael Dornfest's weblog, and elsewhere.
I found the above when testing Google's indexing of my personal blog. In the midst of discovering that Google still wallops Teoma/AskJeeves and AltaVista I came across Jon's essay.

I quote it here not only because Jon speaks of my "wonderful essay". Ok, so I think Jon's a genius and it tickled me no end to have him mention me. I also think Jon has hit it on the nose.

The blogger movement has a funny name, but it feels to me more like the original visions of Vannevar Bush's Memex and Tim Berners-Lee's WWW than all of the Amazons and MSNs put together. Google, with its acquisition of Blogger and their fascinating extensions to the Google toolbar lays just claim to being the home of the modern memex. (Apologies to the valiant efforts of Ted Nelson and Project Xanadu.)

I've failed a LOT with online project collaboration (exactly one success in 10 years or so). Jon's track record is far more extensive. Now I'm trying Blogger with a course I'm teaching and as part of a web development project at my son's primary school. I actually think it might just work. I love the speed and simplicity of how blogger works. (Of course I also want built in thread searching, alternative queries, effective metadata views, back links, etc. etc. But that doesn't have to make the basic UI more complex, that's all value add.)

I'm really looking forward to having moveable type class dynamic backtracks and comment threads that work with Google's painless blogger and that aren't IE specific. I'm reasonably hopeful that will happen.

DEVON Technologies EasyFind for OS X

DevonThing freeware: "EasyFind is an alternative to or supplement of Sherlock and finds files, folders or contents in any file without the need for indexing -- and therefore immediately. This is especially useful if you are tired of slow or impossible indexing, outdated or corrupted indices or if you are just looking for missing features like case sensitive or insensitive search, boolean operators, wildcards or searching for phrases."

Update 7/15/09: Six years later EasyFind is no longer an alternative to the long forgotten OS X Sherlock. It's an alternative to Spotlight. Recommended universally, if you download it do pay attention to the ReadMe file. There's no associated Help file (it's free), so the ReadMe is where you learn about syntax and search. I filed it in one of Document folders.

Fixing iBook and Mac odd problems -- reseting via OpenFirmware

iBook 2001 Part 11: "August 19
Date: Mon, 18 Aug 2003 12:23:29 -0500
From: Rick Hazey
Subject: iBook sleep problems"

From Macintouch:

I am submitting this summary of a recent iBook sleep problem I experienced that readers may find of value. The iBook is a dual USB model running MacOS 9.

The iBook would immediately go to sleep once the finder appeared after booting. Pressing the space bar to come out of sleep would cause the screen to flash and then immediately go back into sleep mode. A control-alt-power would cause a reboot but the screen would remain black and I could hear the disk whirring as it booted. Removing the battery and unplugging a/c would bring the screen back to life on the next power up and then it was back to sleep mode. Basically, the iBook was unusable.

My troubleshooting started with resetting the PRAM and NVRAM by holding down option-command-p-r at startup. Booting without extensions allowed me to access the finder but only for about 90 seconds before freezing. Launching an application within the 90 seconds would immediately initiate sleep mode. I tried several variations on the above....

Here's what Apple support had me do:

1) reboot while holding option-command-o-f (boot into open firmware)
2) type reset-nvram
3) type reset-all
4) reboot the iBook

Much to my surprise, this fixed the problem ... Since resetting via open firmware fixed the problem where option-command-p-r did not, I can only conclude that the two procedures are not equivalent. In the future, I will be resetting PRAM via open firmware as well as from the keyboard.

Microsoft Weighs Automatic Security Updates as a Default (

Microsoft Weighs Automatic Security Updates as a Default ( "'I have always been a fierce enemy of the Microsoft update feature, because I just don't like the idea of someone else -- particularly Microsoft -- controlling my system,' said Bruce Schneier, co-founder of Counterpane Internet Security Inc. 'Now, I think it's great, because it gets the updates out to the non-technically savvy masses, and that's the majority of Internet users. Security is a trade-off, to be sure, but this is one trade-off that's worthwhile.'"

Schneier's opinion counts for a lot among the geek community. I'd come to the same conclusion. Owning a Microsoft PC means outsourcing it to Microsoft. You might own the hardware (one day I think home leasing will catch on), but Microsoft owns and maintains the rest of it. The user will sort-of-own their data, but Microsoft will offer backup services.

This is an interesting variant on Ellison and McNealy's vision of the "network as computer". Theywanted to make the terminals dumb and the servers smart (they sell server software and hardware). Microsoft, which always wins, has bet on an alternative vision, where processing power lives at user sites, but software is an extension of Microsoft.

As part of this vision Microsoft will be leasing future versions of their office software (.NET distributions, stop paying and your software stops working), distributing movies, reliably handling all transactions (purchases, etc) via their Palladium infrastructure, providing spam proof communications, handling all voice and video communications (IP telephony) and delivering all digital content (films, etc). Microsoft has room to grow.

In a wonderful example of either super-genius, serendipity, or something more subtle, Microsoft's extraordinarily lighthearted approach to security has enabled this vision. The 1990s Java vision, or the 1980s TeleScript vision before it, was built around a secure model. If Microsoft had followed that track then we would not have had the security plague of today -- a plague which will drive consumers to a fully outsourced Microsoft computing model.

Any analogies to the relationship between Al Qaeda and the controlling ambitions of the neocons is purely coincidental.

If you want to live in any other world, consider Linux or a Mac. But you will still need a Microsoft machine.

Monday, August 18, 2003

New Therapies Pose Quandary for Medicare

New Therapies Pose Quandary for Medicare: "But health economists and medical experts say the treatment, however alluring, is part of an unsettling trend: new and ever pricier treatments for common medical conditions that are part and parcel of aging ... procedures that could potentially benefit tens of thousands of patients, at a total cost that would far exceed the kind of prescription drug benefit now being considered by Congress. "

In the future the wealthy will get first dibs on new therapies. This may be a mixed blessing, new stuff is often risky. The rest of us will get it when development costs are paid.

Internet Storm Center

Internet Storm Center

A nice little tool. There used to be more of these, but most have gone away. I'll add it to my news page in the weather section ...

294871 - Description of the Automatic Updates Feature in Windows

294871 - Description of the Automatic Updates Feature in Windows: "Description of the Automatic Updates Feature in Windows"

I had a surprisingly hard time figuring out how to turn this on in Windows XP. I've decided that part of the price of owning a Microsoft computer (ie. a computer that runs Windows) is giving Microsoft total access to the machine and auto-installing anything Microsoft wants to have on the machine. In other words, out-sourcing the machine.

If you don't like this, buy a Mac or a Linux box for personal use, but resign yourself to also owning a Windows machine as a pre-requisite for living in this world.

PS. Since future versions of Microsot Office/Mac will require VirtualPC/Microsoft, anyone installing any Microsoft product on a Macintosh will be also making their Macintosh a Microsoft machine.

PPS. Update 8/19: I'm told that even this version of automatic update requires user interaction, because of the need to sign an EULA indemnifying Microsoft in the event of system damage, bugs, etc. I guess we need to sign a global EULA with Microsoft that basically outsources our computer to them. Look for this as an update to the "Windows Update" service to appear within a few months.

Selling Gadgets in a Wal-Mart World: Disappearance of "middle class" electronics

Selling Gadgets in a Wal-Mart World: "In this model store, as Circuit City calls it, customers grab merchandise from metal shelves and toss it into shopping carts. The staff on the floor are now hourly workers rather than higher-paid commissioned sales clerks. The front of the store is filled with forklift pallets piled with $45 DVD players and $99 televisions..."

Being near ancient, I remember when calculators went from $300 to essentially free, then became pointless. I thought about 8 years ago that we'd see Palm type PDAs do the same thing (though they have not, probably because it turns out that very few people want a PDA at any price). Sand (silica based electronics) and plastic doesn't cost much - especially if environmental costs are ignored.

Now that so many of our goods are "sand and plastic", they are all following the calculator trajectory. Unlike calculators, however, DVD players and DV cameras are complex devices that once came with manuals and that require an investment to learn to operate. There's not enough profit margin to support that now.

Of course the market could produce ultra-simple products that didn't require manuals and much user study, but consumers don't choose such devices. They choose the flashier, fancier product. Since the incremental cost of the feature-filled product is very low, that's what manufacturers must provide. Without, however, manuals or quality control or support or service or product testing.

Which would be "fine", except these low cost unsupported devices have eliminated the "middle class" device -- the well made, well documented, and reliable standard of years past. How can a $300 DV player compete with an essentially disposable $50 player with the same features and theoretical performance? Absent the middle class, the tiny percent of consumers who want something reliable, well designed, and well documented, must pay luxury prices.

The nature of technological change does create a case for the low end choice. Within a year or two the well made product is obsolete, and is in some ways truly inferior to the disposable product selling for less than $50. We may be doomed to an endless stream of very unreliable, undocumented, very cheap, disposable electronics. (In a related story, I have a very lovely 600 dpi Laser printer that was last sold @ 1994. It's built like a tank and could last another 10 years. Unfortunately the consumables are no longer produced, soon it will be junk.)

Signs of hope?

1. Consumers will actually start to value extreme simplicity, so at least we'll get by without manuals and without having to study products. This will take a while, but it may restore the "middle class" product.

2. Legislation will require consumers and manufacturers to pay the real environmental costs of these products. Alas, that would require two impossibilities -- replacement of the Bush administration and a Chinese environmental movement.

3. A few vendors will decide to "own" the middle ground. It will be a touch space. The only vendor who's tried this so far is Apple. (SONY is often thought of as being here, but they've gone too far into the low end.) This space needs a super-strong brand and more than a bit of fashion sense. Extensive warrantee services and customer support services are a prerequisite. Prices will be 200% to 400% higher than the low end. A brutal space.

4. Stores like Nordstroms sell clothing at sub-luxury price premium, kind of upper-middle class. They deliver reasonable quality in a small nice market.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Arms and the Man

Arms and the Man: "A U.S. government adviser in Kiev told me, ''Odessa's an open sewer and criminal outlet.'' Eight hundred shipping containers are off-loaded at the port every day. Among other contraband like cigarettes and bootleg pharmaceuticals and CD's, weapons are smuggled in and then transferred from ship to ship or ship to plane. ''We've had a hundred seizures of radioactive material over 10 years,'' the adviser said ''But we don't know what we're getting because we don't know what we're missing.'' "

This NYT Magazine article really is quite fascinating.

Arms and the Man: The Curse of Africa

Arms and the Man

Why did Africa "crater" in the 90s? The usual explanation is demographic stress (Rwanda), climate change, HIV, and the end of the cold war.

Why was the end of US/Russian rivalry bad for Africa? The usual explanation is "lack of interest".

This fascinating NYT article suggests a related but deeper reason. When the Soviet Union collapsed, a vast array of weaponry became available at bargain basement prices. Out of the rubble a weapons distribution system emerged, and a network to process diamonds and other forms of payment.

The result was a flood of high tech weaponry into smoldering war zones; gasoline on a fire.

Without this last insult, might Africa have started to thrive in the 90s, the way I expected it to?

An Industry Trapped by a Theory: Market failure in the power utility world

An Industry Trapped by a Theory: "In the search for the source of Thursday's blackout, the underlying cause has been all but ignored: deregulation. In principle, deregulation of the power industry was supposed to use the discipline of free markets to generate just the right amount of electricity at the right price. But electric power, it turns out, is not like ordinary commodities. "

It's hard for markets to price reliability, and in a competitive environment it is exceedingly hard for any corporation to invest in something that its customers cannot measure and do not value.

I suppose we could respond to a fully deregulated power marketplace by making individual quality investments, such as purchasing a home generator. That doesn't help with keeping the street lights on.

Nuts. Regulation has a place.

De-Long on the trade deficit: US Insurance as a service industry

Semi-Daily Journal: "Some of America's trade deficit is not really there--the result of errors and omissions in the data, a 'statistical discrepancy.' Some of America's trade deficit is there, but is not 'unsustainable': the portion of America's trade deficit that is the result of its three 'exorbitant privileges' can continue until the age of the world changes
: American can keep selling international reserve and liquidity services, political risk insurance services, and future immigration options to the central banks and rich of the rest of the world for a long time to come.

Only that portion of the trade deficit that is neither (a) a statistical discrepancy, (b) the result of 'exorbitant privilege', nor (c) clearly a short-run and transitory cyclical phenomenon is cause for concern. How large is that worrisome component of the trade deficit? I don't know. It bothers me that I don't know--because I am supposed to."

Political life insurance options services and immigration options. Wow. Brilliant.

Clearly we could blow that by becoming a xenophobic intolerant culture, but even I think the US is among the least likely of all nations to become profoundly xenophobic. It could, however, develop immense religious intolerance. By implication that would blow away a foundation of our trade privileges.

We're All on the Grid Together

We're All on the Grid Together

The price of efficiency is connectivity and interdependency. The modern world is a deeply enmeshed set of interacting relationships. They can be twisted and pulled, broken and torn, but they reconnect. They are sticky and self-perpetuating. They limit the power of even the most powerful entities, such as the government of the United States or the leadership of Microsoft, to exert their will.

Ultimately, this interconnected entity begins to take on an identity, a gestalt, even a "will" of its own. Just as organelles became cells, and cells become organisms and organisms became sentients and sentients begat communities begat cultures and so on.

All surviving entities, by the iron statistical rules of natural selection, are optimized for self-perpetuation. This mass of interconnections likely shares this trait. It will "seek" to grow and increase its organization -- in a traditional self-organizing fashion.

More fun things to watch. From a distance!

Friday, August 15, 2003

Semi-Daily Journal

Semi-Daily Journal:

"Never in any two-year period in the modern American economy's experience have hours fallen so fast. Given what has happened to hours in the recent past, the standard historical pattern would lead you to expect output to be falling at 2.5% per year or more--and you would expect productivity growth to be negative, not positive and in excess of 4% per year.

We are indeed in uncharted waters. Not that we should mind--extraordinarily rapid productivity growth is a wonderful gift. But it does pose different problems for economic management to solve than the ones we had gotten used to... "

Krugman covered a similar set of topics, focusing on unemployment. Where is this productivity? I don't see it in the workplace. Is it a side-effect of China's lowering the cost of many manufacturing inputs?

Believe It, or Not

Believe It, or Not:

"... I don't pretend to know why America is so much more infused with religious faith than the rest of the world. But I do think that we're in the middle of another religious Great Awakening, and that while this may bring spiritual comfort to many, it will also mean a growing polarization within our society.

But mostly, I'm troubled by the way the great intellectual traditions of Catholic and Protestant churches alike are withering, leaving the scholarly and religious worlds increasingly antagonistic. I worry partly because of the time I've spent with self-satisfied and unquestioning mullahs and imams, for the Islamic world is in crisis today in large part because of a similar drift away from a rich intellectual tradition and toward the mystical."

If there's one thing Islamic and Christian Fundamentalists might agree on, it's that secular humanists are the true enemy.

This will be interesting to watch ... from a distance!

Thursday, August 14, 2003

QuickTopic: free bulletin boards (message boards) and collaborative document review groupware

QuickTopic: free bulletin boards (message boards) and collaborative document review groupware: "or any one-topic group discussion, use the QuickTopic free bulletin boards instead of just email! Your messages will be in a private central place, and each of your friends can opt to participate by email or just use the web forum. That's because QuickTopic's super-easy single-topic web bulletin boards are also fully email-enabled: you can get and post messages via email. Use it on your web site too. Over 200,000 served."

Like Yahoo Groups, but I think anyone can participate without registering.

Singularity Sky: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal (Fermi's Paradox revisited)

Singularity Sky: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal:

"All good responses, though with one exception no-one was immodest enough to claim the paradox was solved. Remember, it's not MY paradox. It's been puzzled over by people far smarter than I..."

The catch of the Fermi Paradox though is that if even ONE civilization propagates across star systems, they quickly (within galactic time scales) cover the galaxy. So the sieve preventing that from happening has to be verytight.

That's what's interesting about the paradox. What could be THAT tight? Mats proposes a common solution to the paradox, but that solution implies a universal law -- all civilizations crash. Matt argues this by analogy to biological species, but I'm not sure the analogy holds. For that matter, why use a species as the analogy rather than a 'kingdom'?

We could easily become extinct, for example, but our 'memes' could propagate into abiologic entities.

James suggest exploring with robots. I suspect no biological entities actually every cross star systems -- that might be a hard barrier. But that leads into the post-singular category of answers to Fermi's paradox.

That's the tight sieve I prefer. Civilizations are never stable. They either crash and burn (Mats preference) or they go post-singular. When they are post-singular they aren't interested in exploration. It's not something post-singular entities ever do. I don't know why, I'm definitely pre-singular.

So, there might be a universal law, analogous to Godel's Theorem. 'Any nervous system complex enough to create a technologic civilization will consume itself'. Either it consumes itself by self-destruction (Mats assertion) or by becoming post-singular (an alternative). Stability does not occur. Either outcome, is incompatible with exploration -- the first for obvious reasons, the second because of something characteristic of post-singular entities. (So like any answer to a good paradox, this just shifts the question a bit ...)

Posted by: John Faughnan on August 14, 2003 01:50 PM "

Australian spy chief agrees, catastrophic attack a certainty - Aug. 13, 2003 - Spy boss warns of terror strike - Aug. 13, 2003: "Australia's spy chief has warned a 'catastrophic' terror attack -- possibly involving biological, chemical or nuclear weapons -- is a certainty and that the war against terrorism is far from over. "

What he actually said was milder, but consistent: "There is genuine concern that a catastrophic attack is a certainty and only a matter of time -- a point on which I'm inclined to agree."

Nothing new here, only saying what just about every security expert has said. Nothing fundamental has changed; technology advances and the cost of defense rises faster than the cost of offense. At the moment the would-be attackers have motivation and money, but even if that went away the really fundamental issues would remain. The fundamental issues are all about technology.

DeLocalizer 1.1 - VersionTracker

DeLocalizer 1.1 - VersionTracker

Generally good reports on this one, MAY be worth trying. Savings seem somewhat modest though -- 50-100 MBs. In the media world that's only a few days of picture taking.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Printing images: aspect ratio problems not just for digital photography!

Apple - Discussions - Setting camera so you don't have to crop: "Printing is the curse of digital photography.

Not true. Printing is the curse of ALL photography and has been for a hundred years. 35 mm. has been the most popular format for probably fifty years. Until very recently (with 4X6 paper), there was NO paper available that matched the 3X2 aspect ratio. We had a choice of 3.5X5 or 5X7 or 8X10. The 8X10 was perfect for a 4X5 view camera used by professional portrait photographers. The smaller sizes were 'almost' the 4X5 aspect ratio.

In the old days, the labs did the cropping and most snapshooters never realized it. Now, the burden is on us.
Although I personally prefer prints, photos on the screen are gradually becoming popular. The 4X3 aspect ratio matches computer screens. Unfortunately, it's good only for landscape shots. Portrait shots have blank space on both sides of the image. Oh well, can't have everything.

Personally, my wish is for everything - cameras, film, paper, computer screens, etc. - to match the 3X2 format (I've been shooting 35 mm. for over 40 years). However that's not going to happen. The best thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from! "

A correction to a claim I made that printing was the curse of digital photography!

Comparing these ratios we can sort them as follows. It turns out that 5x7 prints are mid-way crop between 35mm and most digital. So printing at 5x7 may be a better choice for many digital prints. These are a bit big for many albums, but if one only prints a few images maybe it's not a bad choice.

4x5: 0.80 (view camera and 8x10 prints)
3x4: 0.75 (most digital cameras and Apple's PhotoBook)
5x7: 0.71 (print size)
3.5x5: 0.7 (print size)
2x3: 0.67 (35mm and 4x6 prints)

Google Web Search Features: The Google calculator

Google Web Search Features: "Calculator

To use Google's built-in calculator function, simply enter the expression you'd like evaluated in the search box and hit the Enter key or click the Google Search button. The calculator can evaluate mathematical expressions involving basic arithmetic (5+2*2 or 2^20), more complicated math (sine(30 degrees) or e^(i pi)+1), units of measure and conversions (100 miles in kilometers or 160 pounds * 4000 feet in Calories), and physical constants (1 a.u./c or G*mass of earth/radius of earth^2). You can also experiment with other numbering systems, including hexadecimal and binary."

I've posted previously about Google's insidious invasion of the PC. No-one else does the "computer as network" as Google does.

Having an always at hand super convenient scientific calculator is actually kind of useful. Quicker than having to bring up the windows calculator. They don't say how to find documentation (ex: do they do financial calculations, such as interest payments)?

The Web features page is worth bookmarking and returning too.

The 'Zero Dropout' Miracle: Alas! Alack! A Texas Tall Tale

The 'Zero Dropout' Miracle: Alas! Alack! A Texas Tall Tale: "ROBERT KIMBALL, an assistant principal at Sharpstown High School, sat smack in the middle of the 'Texas miracle.' His poor, mostly minority high school of 1,650 students had a freshman class of 1,000 that dwindled to fewer than 300 students by senior year. And yet, and this is the miracle, not one dropout to report!"

And Paige/Bush have given us "No Student Left in School".

Anyone familiar with any kind of clinical trial could have told Bush/Paige that the easiest way to show therapeutic efficacy is selective drop out. If you can get non-responders to leave a clinical trial faster than responders, and ignore than effect, you get great results.

Hence "intent to treat" analysis.

Their are parallels to Enron too. Give managers targets without resources, and subject them to very powerful incentives and harsh punishments. The most incorruptible, the most talented, and the most fortunate will find other jobs. The unfortunate, the average human being, those without choices, will play the game. The numbers will look terrific.

Hey, it worked for the Soviet Union! Their wheat production data looked great. Too bad about the famine.

Too bad George Bush never reads history.

BBC NEWS | Health | Creatine 'boosts brain power'

BBC NEWS | Health | Creatine 'boosts brain power': "The dietary supplement creatine - known to improve athletic performance - can also boost memory and intelligence, researchers claim. "

And it "... is also notorious for creating an unpleasant odour in the vicinity of the taker."

Great. A room full of very smelly family physicians desperately trying to finish our q6 year board exam. We'll have to increase the ventilation in classrooms. Let's not even think about pre-meds. Or 6 year old children who are on the borderline between special education programs and mainstreaming.

Wait until we find out that the oxidative stress in Creatine boosted neurons causes accelerated neuronal aging and premature dementia. Since the most obvious medical indication is for people with early dementing disorders, we might actually get to study this in a clinical trial. (Compared to the controls over a 12 month period we'd see early improvement but later worsening. Presumably we could study rats first!)

And what causes that smell, anyway?

Only the beginning of the cognitive enhancement pharmacopia. If you thought performance enhancers in the olympics were bad news, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fair and Balanced: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal

Fair and Balanced: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal

I am all in favor of balanced fairness, and of a fairly balanced foul. But not of foul acts by the not so fair.

All in all, Fair and Balanced. See also the FL Herald.

MacInTouch Home Page: Apple/Macintosh news, information and analysis

MacInTouch Home Page: Apple/Macintosh news, information and analysis: "Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes released two new free scripts: Google Lyric Search searches for lyric sites with Google using information from the current or selected track. And Whack Current Track deletes the current track from all playlists and moves its file to the Trash. Also available is an updated version of Now Playing in iChat AV, which displays the currently playing track info in an iChat AV status message. "

Apple - Discussions - iPhoto Design Goal: 30,000 photos on a G3

Apple - Discussions - iPhoto Design Goal: 30,000 photos on a G3

Dear Apple:

30,000 photos on a 400MHz G3 with good performance and usability.

That should be the MINIMUM design goal for iPhoto. It's technically doable (a @1988 IBM XT could handle 30,000 records in a database, and OS X can handle >> 30,000 objects in the file system), as long as you don't make it "easy" for users to attempt to resize all 30,000 thumbnails all at once.

iTunes can handle a comparable database with elegance.

If you can't do this with your "free" bundled software, then SELL something better than iPhoto!!

If you don't have a good alternative by next spring, I'll give up on OS X and build an XP server rather than buying my 2004. No joke, it's that bad!! Adobe's Album software is looking pretty good to me.


PS. I'm a heavy duty iPhotoLibrarian users. It's a nice hack, but segregating images is stupid. I want my albums to cross 100 years of images. Remember, iTunes works.

[meta: jfaughnan, jgfaughnan, iPhoto, performance, Apple, OS X]