Thursday, June 28, 2012
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I follow about 150-250 active blogs including the "Core" blogs I read religiously.
It's a good reading list, far superior to the days when I read The Economist (RIP 2006, but a bit better lately) and the NYT. Still, there's something wrong.
The wrong bit is that there's rich material buried in the backlog of many of those blogs, and in blogs that no longer publish but are still online. Obviously some of that material is better than what I'm reading now.
We need a tool to surface that material and make it available. A blog backlist browser tool.
I'd like, for example, to give Reeder.app a set of 20 or so blogs and have a convenient way to read posts from years back. I've tried doing this in the "new" Google Reader, and it really doesn't work.
Has anyone heard of anything like this?
".. we developed a distributed computing infrastructure for training large-scale neural networks. Then, we took an artificial neural network and spread the computation across 16,000 of our CPU cores (in our data centers), and trained models with more than 1 billion connections.
... to our amusement, one of our artificial neurons learned to respond strongly to pictures of... cats ... it “discovered” what a cat looked like by itself from only unlabeled YouTube stills. That’s what we mean by self-taught learning...
... Using this large-scale neural network, we also significantly improved the state of the art on a standard image classification test—in fact, we saw a 70 percent relative improvement in accuracy. We achieved that by taking advantage of the vast amounts of unlabeled data available on the web, and using it to augment a much more limited set of labeled data. This is something we’re really focused on—how to develop machine learning systems that scale well, so that we can take advantage of vast sets of unlabeled training data....
... working on scaling our systems to train even larger models. To give you a sense of what we mean by “larger”—while there’s no accepted way to compare artificial neural networks to biological brains, as a very rough comparison an adult human brain has around 100 trillion connections....
.. working with other groups within Google on applying this artificial neural network approach to other areas such as speech recognition and natural language modeling."
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
We see famous city names like Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Vancouver.
And then, way out on the right site of the best of the best ... Minneapolis (and, damn you, Portland to the right of us).
Incidentally, the curve shows that as more people cycle the risk of death per cyclist falls (safety in numbers). Vancouver is everyone's target; Minneapolis and Portland need to study Vancouver's example.
My hunch for Minneapolis (and especially Saint Paul) is that the best way to reduce bicycle fatalities here is to enforce our neglected crosswalk law. Since that law primarily protect pedestrians that sounds a bit odd, but I think of this as falling under the 'broken windows' theory of bicycle and pedestrian safety. MSP drivers are gross violators of the crosswalk law and there's zero police enforcement. It's trivial to setup law enforcement sting operations, and it would make all drivers more conscious of their urban surroundings.
Friday, June 22, 2012
- A "starter" page for family physicians (used to teach net use)
- FrontPage (97) esp: how to use
- WiFi for home
- MORE and GrandView - old beloved apps
- My personal medical notes
- Our Family News page (still active and updated)
- Commuting bike page (still gets many hits, but it's archived)
- Palm and "WWAN" - which back then was wireless wide area networking -- a bit before the BB, much less the iPhone
Saturday, June 16, 2012
I wasn't at the very first Minneapolis Friday Night skate, but I remember Allan and Mike ...
... Mike Merriman and Allan Wright started the Minneapolis Friday Night Skate in 1998. More or less following the strategies above, the Minneapolis FNS was instantly successful with several dozen skaters the first evening. Participation rose dramatically with publication of a full article in a local paper, appearance by Allan on the local news station (the weatherman joined him on skates), and taping of the event by another television station. By the second year, the skate had reached levels of 150 skaters each time....
From the above page on starting a night skate you'll get to Zephyr Adventures, Allan still owns it and runs tours.
I think I joined in 1998 or 1999. I do remember the excitement; 100 skaters is a lot in Minneapolis. The skate varied over the years, but it usually looked something like this:
In the early years there was a hint of anarchy to the skate. Even then we were Minnesotans and not kids besides -- so it was only mildly improper.
Allan was dashing and charismatic, so it's not surprising that attendance declined after he moved on. Perhaps more importantly, inline skating popularity peaked in the mid 90s. By the early 2000s we were fortunate to get 30 skaters, but that was still an excellent number.
Even in 2009, when family obligations kept me away from most of the skates, I loved it. The Stone Arch bridge, the spiral trail to Gold Medal Park, the seamy side of Hennepin, flying through Loring in the moonlight, waving to the crowds on Nicollet, watching the best skaters do leaps down the stairs, swooping down the hill and past the Nicollet Inn...
Things go away. By 2010 I'd stopped going, the numbers were too low. Bill F stuck it out through 2011, but sometimes he was the only skater. This year his FNS web site went offline.
One day, perhaps, inline skating will make a comeback, and maybe someone else will do a Friday Night Skate. Or perhaps it will pass into the history of Minneapolis, remembered by very few people.
And this one blog post.
We've come a long way baby.
A year ago Nordstrom's began offering optional email receipts as "a convenient, environmentally friendly alternative to paper receipts."
Of course there are alway a few skeptics who doubted Nordstrom's integrity, but USA Today was reassuring
... no retailer serious about building a relationship with its customers would consider taking advantage of email access, said John Talbott, assistant director of Indiana University's Center for Education and Research in Retailing.
That's because for the retailer, the most significant benefit is being able to offer a service customers appreciate, he said. It isn't about cutting costs, he said, as less than 1% of a retailer's total revenue goes toward paper and ink for receipts.
Instead, the driving force is providing an option that makes the store a more appealing place to shop...
Yesterday Emily bought a shirt at Nordstrom's. The email receipt, she was told, was mandatory. No, of course there'd be no spam. She doesn't have a spam account, so she gave them her gmail account.
She got her first Nordstrom spam a few hours later. I'll show her how to use filters later today.
Not to worry though, paper receipts are not long for this world. Soon we'll be buying things with our phones. No spam there, since of course there's no tie between our phone's unique identifier and our email and phone number.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
It's a fascinating result; seemingly consistent with other studies on long term wage stagnation. I'm looking forward to more discussion, including ...
- What is the effect of demographics, in particular what is the mean age of the median net worth over the past 30 years? We know our population is aging, and we know net worth increases far faster in one's 20s than in one's forties.
- What is the relationship to savings? (Presumably, other than "housing", it means we're not saving - see "social security")
- How much of this is because of health care and education costs? How much more expensive is it to raise a child in 2010 than it 1980?
- Is there an "occult inflation" contributor?
- Is it coincidental that this stasis corresponds with the widespread dissemination of programmable technologies?
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
France Grants Cyclists the Right to Run Red Lights. Basically, cyclists are to treat a red light as a one-way stop sign.
There are moves to do something similar in several states, but it will probably be a few years before it's accepted in Minnesota. In the meantime running a red light on a bicycle is theoretically illegal here. (There's an exception for "long lights" where it's obvious that the bicycle isn't triggering a light sensor.)
Theoretically, because I can't find any Google hits on anyone actually getting ticketed for it. Still, I think bicycle tickets come with auto license points, and that's a big deal. So I'd rather not get a ticket.
Which is a bit of a shame, because there are really good reasons for bicyclists to treat a red light as a one-way stop sign.
From a bicyclist's point of view, the biggest road risks are distracted drivers, incompetent drivers, and angry drivers. These drivers are dangerous everywhere, but they're particularly dangerous at intersections where they can, for example, make a right turn into a bike while chatting on the phone. At an intersection, a bicycle is stuck in bad company.
Going through the red light though, that gets us clear of the distracted and the angry. It also makes us quite visible to cars that will catch up from behind -- they take notice of lawbreakers. We love to be seen.
Of course such insubordination makes angry drivers angry -- but they'd find a way to be angry at bicycles anyway. At least they can be righteously angry, which is a warm and fuzzy kind of angry that may make them less dangerous to bicyclists, spouses, and small animals.
I'm a boringly law abiding geezer, but I'm staring to think the lifesaving advantages of lawbreaking may offset the minimal risk of a ticket...
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Bicycles last a long time, and touring bicycle technology  was pretty much optimized by the 1990s . My oldest bike is 35, my youngest is 15. Barring major accidents, they'll outlive me.
Good bike gear lasts a very long time too. I bought one of my favorite tools in the late 60s. Good panniers will survive at least a decade of the worst winter riding.
Which means it's tough to run a business that sells good bicycle gear. There are no viruses to drive upgrade cycles, and after you've sold your first ten thousand bicycle bags there's nobody left to sell to . The only good news is that bicycle use has been growing for the past few years.
Long lasting gear also means I don't shop for things like bike bags very often, and I don't know where to go . Which is why I'm posting this list of places I visited today. It's made up of a mixture of the usual suspects, plus dealers of Ortlieb bike bags  and stores that market on the best bicycle blogs.
I've ordered them roughly by the quality of the web site:
- Universal Cycles: They have a very well done web site and one of the best selections
- Dutch Bike Bits: Strong opinions well put - european
- REI: Their store brand gear is quite good
- Nashbar/Performance (I think these are same ownership)
- Commuting Bicycles and Accessories - Commuter Bike Store
- Hiawatha Cyclery: A MN shop; informed recommendations
- Buy Commuting Gear | Commute by Bike
- Cyclosource: Cyclosource Store
- Boise bike touring and commuting bike shop
- Gregg's Cycles
- Peter White Cycles Home Page
- The Randonnee Shop
- Wallingford Bike Parts
- TheTouringStore.com: Good information source, but I think you have to phone to buy
- Bike Commuter Store - Amazon.com: The evil empire crushes all on price (until everyone else is gone. Then...)
 Electric shifters? Really? That would be dumb on a touring bike. Even disk brakes are kind of silly. Plastic chains and intra-hub planetary gears maybe one day...
 For most riders in cities with decent bicycling infrastructure the touring bike is what you want. My archived 1990s page on bike/commuting made the case and I still think that's right.
 Maybe that number is higher these days. There are a lot more riders in MSP than there used to be.
 An expensive very high quality elite brand. So only serious stores will sell them. I'm considering the Ortlieb Ultimate5 front bag for my old Raleigh International.
 We have some very good local bike shops -- my problem is schedule constraints. Your life may vary. Many of these retailers are also local shops.
Update: Ironically, after listing these resources and reviewing my handlebar bag options, I decided I would need to make the time to visit one of my local bike shops, perhaps doing a special order there. I needed to see the bags.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
I know, for example, of a special needs teenager who writes at a 2nd grade level but can get from Mobiata's FlightBoard to an embedded Webkit Google search on "hot chicks" in just a few mouse clicks - when Safari is disabled. (Anything with a Twitter share button is trivial to hack.)
Bob followed up on an email I sent him last January, but I didn't see anything in his NYT articles. Until today's farewell article ... (emphasis mine)
Having covered the boom and bust of the e-commerce industry, and then the boom and bust of the mortgage industry, I’m exiting the mobile apps beat before I see death and destruction again...
... Before stretching my journalistic legs elsewhere, though, I’d like to share a few closing thoughts about where the mobile apps industry might focus, if it hopes to stave off a bust of its own....
... No. 3: Allow greater parental controls.
If, 20 years ago, Google or Apple introduced a new television service or device that included thousands of pornographic channels, and then they marketed the product to children, you could imagine the outrage that would have generated.
Mobile devices are the younger generation’s TV sets, yet our new-age broadcasters deliver pornography and other potentially objectionable content to the devices without giving parents an easy way to reliably block that content.
As it now stands, parents who care about shielding their children from adult content on their mobile devices need a manual, an hour or more of free time and continued vigilance against apps that offer a portal to the open Web...
That bolded sentence -- that was for me. Thanks Bob.
Short of a humiliating Congressional hearing I've abandoned hope that Apple will do anything. Actually, I've pretty much abandoned all hope. Parents have embraced denial (which is a good thing when your kids are away at college, not so good when they're 10 yo).
Unfortunately, I doubt developers can even choose to disable WebKit access when Safari is blocked. UIWebViewDelegate Protocol Reference, for example, only provides information on WebKit access, not Safari access. I'm pretty sure Apple doesn't provide Parental Control settings for use by 3rd party software.
Where is the religious right when I need them? Oh, yeah, fighting gay marriage. Way to keep your eye on the ball gang.