Thursday, December 27, 2007

Will everyone please stop eating so damn much?

Or at least get some exercise. Or maybe it's the growth hormones in the various food we eat these days. All I know is that I went out with my family to take advantage of some after-Christmas sales, and there were literally zero men's small ski jackets out there. Even mediums were almost impossible to find. But there were an enormous number of XXL and even XXXL about. Did stores over-buy on the large sizes or under-buy the smaller ones? I asked around and, nope, that's not the case. There just are more and more people who need elephantine clothing. At least, in the US (as anyone who has traveled overseas will attest to).

Does this explain that Costco sells relaxed-fit men's jeans with 30-inch waists? I mean, who do you know with a 30-inch waist who needs relaxed fit? How big can your ass be if you have a 30-inch waist? Of course, the real reason is that they just order relaxed fit; they don't believe that there are many people out there who don't need it. This assumption, in my opinion, begins to break down at the smaller waist sizes.

OK, I'm glad I got that off my chest. It just pisses me off that buying clothing has now become an ordeal (I suppose, unless I want to pay the extortionate prices that REI charges). It didn't used to be that way...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Just you wait, Henry Higgins...

Maybe a little dated, but by this point there's plenty of humorous comments to read. Hilton Locke, who works on Microsoft's tablet PCs, states, "I will say that if you are impressed by the "touch features" in the iPhone, you'll be blown away by what's coming in Windows 7." First of all, I think MS is very smart in going back to serial numbers for their OS releases: they are neutral names and nobody can make a fuss about the year they get released or whether their features or performance match their names. And they don't have to worry about running out of cool cat names.

I'll leave it to the comments on Locke's blog to remark on bragging about how a desktop OS not scheduled to be released for three years will exceed a palmtop UI available right now. Consider instead the following quote from the same blog post:

Now if only we could convince more OEMs that Windows Touch Technology is going to drive their sales.
I've got an idea on how to do that: have that technology actually drive their sales. There's no substitute for delivering on promises.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Editing a textbook

Little Editors
Originally uploaded by stiber
The Angry Professor complains about the state of copyediting in the publishing business today. I'm working on a textbook on "Signal Computing" -- digital signal processing fundamentals for computer science students. I believe that I have an advantage in the copyediting department.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Googleplot and recommendation systems

Daniel Lemire finds recommendation systems (I can't bring myself to call them "recommender systems", since they seem to me to be targeted more at recommendees) fascinating, though he is less than impressed by their implementation, such as Google's pagerank. Personally, I don't need sources of more information; I need lower volume and greater signal-to-noise ratio. A system that recommends that I not read something -- now that would be valuable (perhaps you're thinking the same thing right about now).

But he's right about one thing: Google's chart API is the rebirth of GNUplot. Except that it's not really open source. Anyone want to write a MATLAB function to export a graph as a Google chart?

Another book rental service

I'm still not convinced that this idea makes any sense. But there's at least two groups of people out there who've managed to raise enough money to have a go at it. That's more than I can say.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Netflix for books

Background: once upon a time, when just went public, I said something like, "Why would anyone want to buy books on the internet? Half the fun of buying books is browsing a bookstore!" Another great moment in personal financial stupidity. Nevertheless, there's now a company that wants to emulate Netflix by renting books online, by subscription. Exactly what is the difference between this and a library? At least, for Amazon and Netflix, they are competing with for-profit businesses. Paperspine's competition is your local library, which likely also has an online catalog. Is it worth $10 a month or more to not have to pop by the library?

Monday, December 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by stiber
I kid you not: a college campus in the Seattle area closing due to rain. This is the first time there has been flooding in this area since I've lived here (over 10 years). Our buildings are safe from flooding (I believe), but it's conceivable we could end up 50% cut off, with only 1 access route open.