Saturday, October 27, 2007

Countrywide says profitable in Q4, yeah right!

and the stock shoots up 32%?!?!

is ANYBODY watching what's going on? moody's finally issued updated ratings on CDOs to the approrpriate JUNK status, the dollar is falling, the CEO has dumped 2 MILLION shares since May 1. He keeps cheerleading as the ship is sinking.

I have a philosophy: judge a man by his actions, not his words. if HE is selling, why should YOU buy?

i'll bet we'll see a press release, sometime in q4: "the credit market did not stabilize as we anticipated, in fact, what we saw was just the tip of the iceberg" and suddenly they will act suprised as the real estate market continues to falter. ugh...the knife is still falling. check out merrill lynch, they claimed 6.2 billion or so loss about 2 weeks ago, then announce earnings and say 'whoops, it was really 8 billion'.

Those 'useless' strands of DNA

DNA thoughts....

i'm not a physicist, and i'm certanly no biologist. way to track civilizations progress in any domain is the resolution with which we can measure in that domain and how it increases. in physics, everything was composed of the aristotelian elementals of air, water, fire, and dirt, then we found the molecules, then the atoms via cloud chamber trails. now, we're trying to figure out a recipe for atoms that allows us to create the illusion of a deeper understanding of the world around us from ever smaller particles, strings, and other random theories.

so, moving to how this relates to DNA, we've observed its useful to speculate about DNA as a composition of a 4 state encoding labelled A, T, G, and C. combinations of a set of these, many millions of components long, makes a DNA strand. we've decoded some of these strands, call them genomes (the easy part of deconstruction), and now are working to understand how to interpret this mass of information.

something funny scientists do...when scientists couldn't figure out how light travels through empty space, speculated it must be travelling through a medium called 'ether'. later they figured out what it was, but that didn't change a few generations of textbooks. with increasing resolution of scientific devices we found out what that 'ether' was. in space, we can't figure out where all the mass is coming from, so we call the stuff 'dark matter'. 'dark matter' is a placeholder for 'stuff we don't know about, but stay tuned...'.

Some scientists now claim that there is lots of junk in our DNA strands. This statement is irresponsible. it creates the illusion this is proven, and is the opposite of the application of the scientific method. quite the opposite: we don't KNOW what its used for. think about this from a programmer's perspective, and a few heuristics: 20% of a codebase is executed 80% of the time. meaning 80% of the code a programmer writes is rarely/never executed. this hardly makes it useless or junk. quite the opposite, this is the code that handles the corner cases that might cause a crash or handle a defect or insufficient data returned from some other component of a complicated set of components working together.

its there for robustness. i am scary suspicious that these 'useless' code strands are likely to contain some important code. maybe some components are currently dormant, maybe some really is just extra storage. maybe there are things happening during recombination beyond the resoultion of current devices with these subsystems? maybe they are just components that are only triggered when other components are triggered, like a chain reaction that lights up those code segments. the parallels between a programmer's logic and the program that resides in your DNA are uncanny.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Team Fortress 2: What I learned about leadership from a 12 year old

My squad leader is younger than me. He is faster than me. He is a better communicator than I am. He is able to be calm and cool under fire, gently reminds those with lesser skills on ways to improve, all while keeping himself alive under hostile fire and achieving a common goal with the 5 other squad mates. He comes over to show me where to hide. I learn from him, I am a better player because of his gentle advice and positive reinforcement. And for years, he has been honing and developing a set of leadership skills beyond his classmate. I can't imagine what school is like for this kid.

Maybe recruiters should look to their favorite MMOG to find some solid leads. Within the Narnia forest, is that the next CEO of Apple behind the tree with a bow and arrow aimed at me?

Parents should limit the amount of time kids waste doing homework so they can focus on important areas of development. Get an XBOX, get a future.

Based on discussions with co-workers at a recent lunch at an Indian Buffet: Josh, Aaron, David P.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Zune-ness of Zune 2.0

is there a single more ugly device on the planet today than the zune?

pray tell, how did microsoft do this? sure, version one, first one out the door, the OEM manufacturing could only do this box like plastic thing that looks like its from a second rate taiwanese manufacturer. but...they liked it so much THEY DID IT AGAIN!! its an ugly hunk of crap that no user could get past. maybe its actually an experiment to find some interesting lower bound in aesthetic but maximum leverage of the brand to get high ROI.

get the folks that designed the xbox360 controller to design a zune. hint: think smooth edges, SMOOOTH.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

iPhone Safari Browser Web Links not working...

came across this post in the apple web support discussion forums and it worked:

Re: Safari - links not opening when clicked
Posted: Oct 2, 2007 8:09 AM in response to: Ashley Gwozdz Reply Email

A friend of mine bought a new iPhone yesterday and came to me with this issue a little while ago. I've never experienced this myself, but I suggested that he reset the application by holding the home button for six seconds. For him, this reset of Safari solved his problem.

Portland Condo Market continues to sour quietly...

While there have been one or two articles on the market of condos in Portland, nobody in the press is discussing the death of the Pearl. On a run yesterday by the waterfront I went by a building where the normal 10+ units for sale with all the signs posted FINALLY had some lower prices after a year of holding onto irrational valuations. There are holes in the ground with no construction workers. Its quiet, like remnants of a bombing in a city the world has forgotten. The beautiful Wyatt has moved from condo to apartment, the civic up the street on burnside isn't selling.

The sooner these folks wake up and get the prices back down to reality the sooner we can get on with it. They are holding on and telling how 'things are just going back to normal', but that isn't how markets work and there is no normal, only a bouncing back and forth around a theoretcially 'normal' line of 6 month inventory.

While not really suprised by the lack of coverage, I am disappointed. Not that I ever had any faith in mainstream journalism, but the lack of any quantitative profiling of the cave in is interesting. Makes me think about some of the conflicts around the world going. Seems if the press isn't there, it isn't happening.

One reasonable article from last week is here. They say Portland is immune from the downturn that's infected other big cities. Job growth remains strong, and people continue to move to the area, providing demand for urban living. "It's steady as she goes here," Scanlan said. "There's no reason to panic."

Adam and Stacey Engaged!

After 3+ amazing years Stacey and I have decided to get married. We've had a great time, travelled around the world, and even lasted a two person kayak trip. I think I surprised her when i handed her a brown paper bag stapled shut, the look on her face was: "why do you think i would want a croissant at 9pm at night?" There was an engagement ring inside. She always said she wanted it to be a suprise.

Over the years Stacey has continued to demonstrate a superhuman sense of compassion, understanding, patience, and fruit consumption. I marry her not because of what I want for me, it is what I want to be for her. Through her happiness I receive a feeling of completeness and happiness far greater than I can through any achievement of my own. I look forward to the challenges we may face together.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Book Review: Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

This was a fantastic book, very educational. Think of this as the thinking man's version of fast food nation. If you want a deeper dive into where your food comes from, gain a better understanding of our vastly distorted agricultural free market, this is your book. 4.5/5, just don't waste time with the last 1/3 of the book, by then you have gotten the main point. As a reader, you have a right to not waste time on the 'drivel' portion the writer is forced to write to attain a certain page length. The first 2/3 of the book is filled with real data, real experiences, references to other literature to give a picture both of what things are like now and what they could be like.

I especially liked the education I was given on the grass farmers in Virginia and New Zealand and the distortions to the corn and meat economies. This book has moved me to look deeper into the origins of my food supply. Also digs into the marketing hype of the 'organic' food movement. Unocvers some of the inconsistencies in what you might think is going on vs. what is really going on when you purchase organic food. Stay raw, stay close to the source, know your farmer....perhaps unrealistic, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't aspire to a higher plane of existence.

Recommended as part of your educated consumer arsenal, 4.5 out of 5.

Book Review: Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich

This book is awful. I thought it was going to be about her perspective on landing a 'suit and tie' job at some big Fortune 500 company. Instead, the ENTIRE book was just a long winded essay on the 'job hunt'. Fortunately, its only about a 3-4 hour read but i was really disappointed. She goes from job hunt session to job hunt session. I did think she is the first one i've heard publically point out the religious tie-ins to the capitalistic regime in America, I think that issue could use some more discussion. She also provides a good set of references to get more details. However, it felt like a tour of an underbelly of our society that exploits a market of perpetually unemployed white collar employees. I feel sorry for the people who are being exploited, but this book is not nearly as insightful as a more expensive exploit may have been, one that actually required her to get a job in white collar america and address the challenges of employment in this sector. Generously, I give it a 1 out of 5 stars, I'm glad I waited to find it in the 80% off bin.