Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mmmmmm Chumby!

Chumby is a completely open system – hardware and software. The primary use for a Chumby device is to play a set of user-customizable widgets, small Adobe Flash animations that deliver real-time information. The animations also have the ability to control and interact with the low-level hardware, thereby enabling functionality such as smart alarm clocks that bring the hardware out of sleep, and physical user interface features such gesture recognition through squeezing the soft housing.

The hardware is based on a 350MHz ARM9 controller, has 64MB of SDRAM, 64MB of NAND flash ROM, a 320×240 3.5 inch touchscreen TFT LCD running at 12Hz, stereo 2W speakers, an audio output, an integrated microphone, two USB 2.0 ports, and integrated WiFi. Stock sensors on Chumby include a bend sensor for squeeze-based user interface features and a sudden motion sensor (accelerometer).

Chumby can run an SSD (As you can see from the screen snapshot above, I can easily connect from Windows via PuTTY to my Chumby). It also launches a small HTTP at boot time. I can easily add CGI scripts.

Chumby owners can selected from a large pallet of widgets via the home page. The widgets are scheduled and downloaded (over 802.11) to Chumby.

Thus far I’m very impressed; however I’ve only scratched the surface.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Can Can

Went to the show at the Can Can club tonight in Seattle. Great show. All the way through I kept thinking that the music employed during the show was very Stockhausian. "Stockhausen, Stockhausen, Stockhausen" my mind kept repeating throughout the show. I've not thought about him or his music for many years.

I get home, log on and find that he died today. Strange. And sad.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Amazon Kindle Debuts on Monday 19th Nov

Newsweek cover story this week about Kindle the new e-book reader from Amazon that is being launched at an event at the W Times Square in NY on Monday 19th Nov. Just in time for the holidays, Kindle is always-on for immediate download of books, newspapers and other sources.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Colin on Theremin

Just another average day at

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Microsoft hates vegetarians

Well maybe 'hate' is a little strong, however.....

I received an invitation from Microsoft today to attend an executive briefing in an "intimate location". Salacious I thought. But no, the selected location is Ruth's Chris Steak House. Couple of problems with this: (a) I live in Seattle and the invitation is for the event in San Francisco (note to Microsoft: fix your geo-targeting) (b) I've been vegetarian for about the last seven years and inviting me to a steak house is not going to win Microsoft any points. I responded to the team responsible for managing the event,, thus:
Thanks for the invite. I respectfully decline. I would
have actually been quite interested in the event, however
your selection of a steak house for the event
is a poor choice for your vegetarian and vegan prospects.
of which Seattle and the Pacific Northwest has quite a few.
Including me.
10/20 Update: no response from Microsoft to my e-mail.
Perhaps when they told me in the invitation that I was specially
selected for their unique event they were only kidding....

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Stanford Student? Come meet me on 9 October

The Stanford Computer Forum has invited me to an information session on campus. I'm presenting in Packard 101 on Tuesday 9 October 5:30 - 6:30pm. Free food, raffle and t-shirts! All that and me too!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Fun on the Field

Well the Seahawks won after some initial challenges with their defense. Being down on the field was amazing - really gives you an impression of what it's like to play in front of 68,000 screaming fans. One word: loud.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Seahawks Opening Game

Seahawks vs Buccaneers on Sunday, good. Sky box ticket, better. Pre-game field access, awesome! Watch out for me close to the end zone on the southwest side of Quest field on Sunday.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Maps for the Children

In response to the recent call to action by Miss Teen South Carolina, Maps For Us started a blog of important maps:

Please contribute. It's for the children. Please.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Steampunk Tree House

...imagine another sort of tree. Maybe there aren’t natural trees anymore. Maybe there are a few left in special National Maximum Security Parks. Maybe the memory of a tree is so far gone from living memories that people try to recreate what they imagine they’ve lost using another sort of romantic imaginary, one of machinery, scavenged gears, gathered belts, hunted steam pipes, gleaned gauges, rusty metal and gobs and gobs of steam. In short, though our natural world may change, the human drive to connect with it and one another remains, it is second nature. Enter the Steampunk Tree House!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Romania this week...

First full day in Romania today. I'm always wary of hotels that are named after organic compounds. My current abode, Hotel UniREA is no exception. About on par with a Cozy-8 it does have the benefit of being close to the office. The A/C emits pitiful breaths of tepid air rather like an asthmatic water buffalo about to expire. Watching Seinfeld dubbed into Romanian is the most entertainment I expect to get tonight. Still, at least I'm not back in the USSR. Pictures when I download them from my camera. Sleep time...

Dumb-as-a-Stump Award of the Week

Easily winning the Dumb-as-a-Stump award this week, and of little surprise to anyone, Network Solutions handily demonstrate why they are universally disliked. Not only are their registration fees the highest in the industry, their customer service is diabolically bad. Take for instance the e-mail I received from them today, August 14, 2007: "Act Now. Don't let your service expire" it blared. Gosh - I'd better renew in case I forget, I mused. Then I noticed the expiration date **June 26 2008**. Wow - nothing like getting advanced renewal notices. Doofi.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Slusho, water, zoom, happy, power, fish, donkey, frog

Slusho, water, zoom, happy, power, fish, donkey, frog

What would Jesus do?

From a Slashdot post today: "American Red Cross Sued for using a Red Cross". Quite a mundane story: "licensing rights.....blah blah.....exclusivity.....blah blah...". However there was at least one highly entertaining comment. Click on the image above to see.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Amazon Fresh

I must report being very satisfied with the selection from Amazon Fresh and the quality and timeliness of their deliveries. I was a big fan of Webvan in the day (and by fan I mean I enjoyed their selection and efficiency of delivery. I was not a fan of their business model - but I did reap benefit from it (I have two Webvan totes sitting in my garage - collector's items??)).

I'm picking up from Amazon PacMed (looking forward to when the new pick up building is opened so I don't need to trudge down to the sports court). Other delivery options are available. A great innovation is the Pre-Dawn Delivery for when you absolutely must have fresh pop tarts delivered overnight. I'm outside the current delivery zone, but when it expands to cover my apartment it'll be kippers and Cap'n Crunch for breakfast everyday!

William Gibson Visits

A good day today. Upon logging into my e-mail account this morning I discovered that William Gibson (for one of his characters this blog is named) was to be speaking at the Fishbowl at lunch time. I promptly cleared my calendar and mentally began to prepare my questions. Mr. Gibson read chapter 2 of Spook Country after telling us that this was originally written as Chapter 1. After the reading he answered questions. I asked him if he consciously was moving his stories back in time (Spook Country is set in 2006). He explained that he writes by pulling the strangeness he finds in everyday life into his stories and no, this was not a conscious decision. He was asked about product placement in his stories (ref. the "Sony TV" in Chapter 2 of Spook Country). Mr. Gibson explained that he intended to "[allow people of the future] to access the texture of our daily lives". That "it's not product placement ... it's memetic coloration". He signed a copy of Spook Country. I shook his hand. Today was a good day.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Amazon Flexible Payment Service Launches

Hot on the heels of the Amazon Fresh beta launch, the Amazon Flexible Payment Service has just launched. It provides easy access to the millions of existing Amazon customers who have their payment preferences registered with Amazon. Amazon has established a very high level of trust regarding payment services (much better than, say, Paypal where if you have a problem you are SOL. Problems with Amazon payments are dealt with by Amazon customer service who's service quality is legendary). The service has a number of interesting capabilities including:
  • Developers can create payment instructions that are as simple or complex as they desire. For example, creating a relatively complex business model around micro-payments is easy to do with Amazon FPS. The aggregation feature lets you track and aggregate micro-payments into a single payment transaction, saving on transaction processing costs and avoiding having to build complex ledger functionality into your own applications. Without this capability micro-payments would be difficult or cost-prohibitive.
  • Amazon FPS exposes a different fee structure for each of the underlying payment methods enabled: credit cards, bank account debits, and Amazon Payments balance transfers. Amazon's cost to process a payment through a bank account debit is less than Amazon's cost via credit card. Amazon's cost for processing an Amazon Payments balance transfer is less still. By exposing different fees for each of these three methods, Amazon can pass on savings from bank account debits and balance transfers, allowing developers to save money. In each case, Amazon takes on the complexity of managing security and fraud protection.

  • Amazon customers can pay using the same login credentials and payment information they already have on file. This helps Amazon customers keep their payment information secure and removes the friction 3rd party developers would face if they needed to get customers to enter their payment information before they could make a purchase.

The folks at FreshBooks have been testing out Amazon FPS. Their story and feedback makes interesting reading.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Redbox = BlueScreen (of Death that is)

Spotted in the wilds of Utah at some generic fast-food joint, this redbox automated DVD rental / vending machine. The Bluescreen of death had been showing for as long as anyone working at the store could remember (however given the general knuckle-dragging appearance of said-staff that may not have been very long). No matter, as Amazon Unbox continues to grow the act of physically renting a DVD will soon go the way of the dinosaur. Redbox = dead company walking.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Business Week: Amazon #1

Not much more to say really. Suck it Microsoft and Google (9 and 19 respectively).
Full details at Business Week.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Backyard Things That Are Fun To Build

Just submitted review for "Backyard things that are fun to build" by Ray Wallace:
With nothing much to do last weekend I picked up a copy of this book with great expectations. I must admit that gathering some of the supplies that were defined in the book was a little troublesome (hint: large quantities of wristwatches with luminous hands come in very handy), however with such problems overcome I was able to construct a rough, although fully functional, nuclear reactor, boil up some water and have a spiffing cup of tea! Wonderful! I never would have thought that such things were possible. May I recommend the chapters on whale hunting for fun and profit, 101-ways to wok a dog, and the ever favorite do-it-yourself embalming.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Quote of the Week

Seth Jayson of the Motley Fool writing today about Patrick Byrne, CEO of
"This week's news is just another confirmation that his directors are beginning to believe, as I have long suggested, that Byrne is nuttier than my Aunt Betty's fudge-ums."
Byrne is well know for his conspiracy theories including naked-shorts trying to destroy his company and widespread payoffs to financial journalists to criticize his company. My Byrne needs to come to terms with the reality that he's running a crappy business and needs to focus on fundamentals rather than finger pointing. Indeed, nuttier than a pile of squirrel poop.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What Has Brown Screwed Up For You Today?

I believe I am the first to announce that UPS has begun the beta testing of their matter-transportation system. As you can see from the screen shot, above, a package en route to me arrived at the Menlo Park depot at 3:30am on 5/17/2007. Just nine minutes later it was scanned at the UPS facility in Sacramento over 115 miles away. Amazing!


The three fine gentlemen you see in this picture are, from left to right, Steve Tom, me, Charly Anderson. The picture was taken in 1985 at CCI's offices in Irvine (right by El Toro airforce base). We were working on-site developing a complier-backend for the CCI Power 6 comptuer. The Power 6 had a custom processor and used the VAX instruction set. Initially it ran a custom port of BSD. Later 4.3BSD was ported to it. Steve and I lived in Irvine (actually in Mission Viejo) for several months during the summer of 1985. When the project was completed we returned to Palo Alto in the San Fransisco Bay Area. (Charly now works for Actix.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spook Country

I'm expecting my review copy of the upcoming William Gibson book "Spook Country" to arrive in the next few days. It's due for publication in August 2007. I, of course, can't wait until then. As soon as I have it and have ripped my way through it I'll post my review. What I know thus far:

Tito is in his early twenties. Born in Cuba, he speaks fluent Russian, lives in one room in a NoLita warehouse, and does delicate jobs involving information transfer.

Hollis Henry is an investigative journalist, on assignment from a magazine called Node. Node doesn't exist yet, which is fine; she's used to that. But it seems to be actively blocking the kind of buzz that magazines normally cultivate before they start up. Really actively blocking it. It's odd, even a little scary, if Hollis lets herself think about it much. Which she doesn't; she can't afford to.

Milgrim is a junkie. A high-end junkie, hooked on prescription antianxiety drugs. Milgrim figures he wouldn't survive twenty-four hours if Brown, the mystery man who saved him from a misunderstanding with his dealer, ever stopped supplying those little bubble packs. What exactly Brown is up to Milgrim can't say, but it seems to be military in nature. At least, Milgrim's very nuanced Russian would seem to be a big part of it, as would breaking into locked rooms.

Bobby Chombo is a "producer," and an enigma. In his day job, Bobby is a troubleshooter for manufacturers of military navigation equipment. He refuses to sleep in the same place twice. He meets no one. Hollis Henry has been told to find him.

Pre-order yours at

Friday, May 04, 2007

Evan The Martini Idiot

May I present for your enjoyment and edification, a original masterpiece comprising animation and pen and ink entitled "Evan the Martini Idiot" (If you want to know why it's called that, ask Evan). You can see the completed picture on Flickr.

Want your own Monster by Mail? Visit An original hand drawn monster sketch delivered to your doorstep for $20.

Music is "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You" by Dean Martin.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

LOST: The "Smoke Monster"

For those of you that enjoy the TV show Lost, what follows will make sense. For those of you that do not partake of Lost please move along, nothing to see here.

Being a fan of Michael Crichton the "smoke monster" that has appeared throughout the series is clearly a swarm of NanoBots - I can imagine no other reasonable explanation (Occam's razor applied). As the series has progressed it has been revealed that no matter how fantastic the appearance of plot devices, they have all had reasonable explanations. Supposedly Damon Lindelof, one of the creators/writers has discredited this theory. Time will tell.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Scrappy The Canopy Dog

Announcing the title of my upcoming book: Scrappy The Canopy Dog. No firm publication date yet (as I've not started writing it), however the concept is coming along nicely. The book will chronicle the life and adventures of a scruffy yellow lab living aloft in a rain forest tree canopy. Laugh out loud as Scrappy falls and nearly breaks a leg, howl with laughter as Scrappy eats bananas (skin and all) as his sole source of food, and clap your hands in glee as howler monkey's torment Scrappy every day of his life. And yes, a movie tie-in will be forthcoming. - Most Expensive Items of 2006 has a page that lists the most expensive items purchased in 2006. You thought Amazon sold books, DVD's and CD - right? Check out the list which includes an $11,000 copy of the Oxford Dictionary of Niational Biography and an $11,500 Hermes purse. Don't forget to add anything you like to your wish list. You never know, you may have a secret admirer just rolling in cash.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

All the THX Trailers

8 minutes worth of THX trailers. My favorites, Star Wars Deathstar, the cow in the can and the Simpsons. The best - Shrek. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Strolling down the Avvenu

Received a note last week from Richard French, CEO of Richard and I worked together at VA Software a few years back. Avvenu has just released the beta version of the Avvenu Music Player that lets you share up to 250 songs on-line. When you choose playlists from your PC to share, the playlists and songs are automatically copied to Avvenu's secure media center for reliable, streaming playback. Once your songs and playlists are copied to Avvenu's media center, you don't even have to leave your PC powered on.

I love it -- but I think the RIAA will be shutting them down in short order. I get that whole deja vu thing......

Thursday, January 25, 2007

It's great fun being an illegal alien

The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes
309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Sarbanes,

As a naturalized US citizen and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you. My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stems from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted.

If my understanding of this bill's provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.

Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I'm excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005.

Additionally, as an illegal alien I could begin using the local emergency room as my primary health care provider. Once I have stopped paying premiums for medical insurance, my accountant figures I could save almost $10,000 a year. Another benefit in gaining illegal status would be that my daughter would receive preferential treatment relative to her law school applications, as well as "in-state" tuition rates for many colleges throughout the United States for my son.

Lastly, I understand that illegal status would relieve me of the burden of renewing my driver's license and making those burdensome car insurance premiums. This is very important to me given that I still have college age children driving my car.

If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal (retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would be most appreciative. Thank you for your assistance.

Your Loyal Constituent,

Smoke on the Bush

I love it when I learn something new. I especially love the feeling when I receive an explanation for something that I've really never cared about, but where the explanation is so mind bogglingly cool and/or interesting that I just have to tell *everyone* (and due apologies to the folks with whom I work at - I've been telling this story incessantly this week.....)

'Smoke on the Water' - that fine song to which I'm sure we've all often hummed and banged our heads. But what is it really about? Who is 'Funky Claude'? Why was the band in Switzerland? And why did the firing of a flare gun cause so much consternation? I give to you two links:
  1. Wikipedia: Smoke on the Water - the history
  2. LyricsFreak: Smoke on the Water - the lyrics
Read the history and then read the lyrics. If you don't smite your own head and say "Gosh - *that's" what it meant", then I'm buying the beer. And for those of you that knew the story years ago and who really did not benefit from this post, I give you a short IM interaction:

IM'er 1: Bush ain't THAT bad...he kinda knows what he's doin
IM'er 2: Please, Monica Lewenski had more President in her than George Bush ever will.

Good day.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Powerful Art

Stumbled on the (a?) website exhibiting work of Susan Stockwell with whom I was at high school in the UK. We graduated in 1980. I'll always remember Susan from her wonderful performance in Billy Liar. The unexpected crashing into a ladder that we incorporated into the play was both inspired and, I'm sure, painful. Looks like Susan has a successful career both behind and ahead of her.

The piece above is 'Organ' [2005], form drawn with coffee and graphite based on a map of Africa, studies of a heart and liver and Rhino skin. I've dropped Susan a note to see where I can buy some of her work. I'm very impressed with her map works, amongst others.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Microsoft Worried OEM 'Craplets' Will Harm Vista

Post on Slashdot today: "Microsoft Worried OEM 'Craplets' Will Harm Vista" An article at the CBC indicates that Microsoft is worried that the assorted crap most OEM companies load onto a new machine may affect users' opinion of Vista. An unnamed executive is concerned that the user will conclude the instability of the non-MS-certified applications is Vista's fault. Is this a serious concern, or is MS trying to bully OEMs into only including Vista-certified apps?"

Well duh. MS has always tried to control as much as it possibly can with respect to OEM distribution's of Windows. Anyway, the real point of this is that I just love the word "Craplet". There is no Wikipedia reference to the word (however the day isn't yet over.....). Jargon watch defines it thus:

crapplet: n.

[portmanteau, crap + applet] A worthless applet, esp. a Java widget attached to a web page that doesn't work or even crashes your browser. Also spelled ‘craplet’.

I loved it so much that I've just registered and pointed at this blog. Who knows, I may even launch an OEM craplet index website. If you are visiting this blog via, "hi". Add a comment and tell me what you expected to find at

Monday, January 01, 2007

If you get this.....

Why do elephants have Big Ears?
Because Noddy won't pay the ransom.

You'll get this too:

"Here are the football results: Real Madrid one, Surreal Madrid fish"