January 2007

Vegas, in short

Luxor Steakhouse: not what it was a few years ago. The meat isn’t as good, and with the loss of their pastry chef, dessert has descended to the ordinary.

Nobu: just say “omakase, traditional”, and you will be rewarded with something wonderful. The nigori sake was also quite tasty. Cover your ears when the American employees attempt to shout “irasshaimase”.

Mandalay Bay: the cocktail waitresses are now in dresses. If this is progress, I want no part of it.

Wynn: it seems there’s a second tier of cocktail-waitress outfit, reserved for special places and exceptionally well-formed employees. I enjoyed the brief exposure I received, but on a future trip, I’ll have to find out where they keep them. Perhaps the next time they send me a cheap room offer, they won’t have filled up by the time I’m able to accept it.

Other than that, the free suite room was nice, the scenery was reasonable, and I remain only lightly bound by the laws of probability.

On the way out, we once again were pleased to find the middle-of-nowhere bonsai dealer on highway 58. Sadly, he wasn’t there on the way back, possibly due to the ridiculous winds between hither and yon, so we didn’t buy any.

Also, in a moment of pure serendipity, we discovered that there’s a Jersey Mike’s on Paradise. Jersey native Dave was stunned by this, especially since he’d just finished saying “is there any chain that doesn’t have a restaurant around here?”. A quick check of the phone book dug the knife in even deeper: this place that is home to mysterious delights peculiar to the Jersey shore, and which cannot be found within 100 miles of the Bay Area, has six locations around Vegas.


Quite some time ago, a friend at Apple had a small object quickly waved in front of him, and was told “this is going to be the coolest thing ever”. I believe the person responsible for this tiny little leak was fired. Later, when the rumors started leaking out about an Apple PDA, I realized why Dashboard had been released unfinished as a major feature in Tiger, with UI guidelines that flew in the face of every aspect of Mac app design: it was really intended for making fullscreen tools for a small-form-factor device, and they wanted people tinkering with it early. What that device would be, I wasn’t sure. Like many, I keep hoping for a new Newton, but that’s just not likely.

Will I buy an iPhone? Definitely not at launch; not only do you run the usual risks of 1.0 hardware from Apple, you also add a bunch of cutting-edge technology that may not survive outside the lab (anyone remember another Jobs favorite, the single-sided optical drive that shipped with the NeXT cube?), and all of the friction and finger-pointing of a partner product.

Doubts? The first thing that jumped out at me watching the mocked-up demo videos is that I’ve never seen a handheld computer with such fluid animation and quick response to user input. Yes, we all know that all of the Internet and carrier stuff will have delays, but I’ll be quite surprised if the photo, music, and video browsers are as quick as shown, or as smooth about transitioning between portrait and landscape modes. It has to be that smooth to work well with no tactile feedback, which means that whatever custom version of OS X it’s running must have real-time features that are missing on Macs.

What was most conspicuously missing? Any mention of .Mac mail, .Mac sync, iDisk sync, etc. Why? Because .Mac is currently a mess, and its sync is unreliable. It’s been that way all through the Tiger release, despite Apple’s push to get developers to add the sync API into their applications. I’ve heard that things are a lot better in Leopard, but who knows what will be in the final release.

Okay, it's memorable, but...

So there’s a new player in the Mac backup business, Decimus. Their product is called Synk Backup.

So when your synk backs up, your office is decimused. No doubt they’ve outsourced their tech support to Plumbr.

Please tell me they're kidding

I always knew graphic designers were a little goofy, but come on:

COLORSTROLOGY™ Widget combines astrology and numerology with intuitive wisdom and the spiritual power of color to create a personal color for every day and month of the year. By blending the colors that are associated with the sun sign, ruling planet, and elements such as fire, earth, air or water, with the numerological vibration of each day, the colors for the COLORSTROLOGY calendar are selected, along with key words that best describe the personality traits associated with that color and day.

This is part of Pantone’s web site, and they even offer a Dashboard widget for offline shweng fui magic color selection. And there’s a book, and an official “colorstrology” web site, with a Flash intro that suggests it’s completely serious.

How to convert the US to the metric system

Following this fairly typical “why are you so backward” post on Slashdot, I propose a simple solution that would wean consumers off of imperial units in less than ten years:

Get Wal-Mart to require it from their suppliers

Dear Apple,

I just burned a DVD from Disk Utility. It was automatically ejected when the burn finished successfully. I wanted to verify it, so I closed the drive and let it start up in DVD Player.

DVD Player launched, but didn’t start the movie. I hit the play button, and it complained about no supported disc being present. Why? Because I’d switched windows during the burn, and hadn’t come back to Disk Utility and clicked “OK” on the little dialog box that said the burn was successful. Adding insult to injury, when I switched back to Disk Utility, the confirmation dialog box was now under the main window, so I initially didn’t realize that it remained unclicked.

Sadly, clicking it afterwards didn’t help. Apparently I have to reboot to unconfuse the driver. I count at least three bugs here.

Gee, that's funny

I own a Lexus. I bought it at Lexus Monterey. I take it there for service. Sometimes I schedule service online, at their web site, but I’ve never given them an email address. Lexus does have one email address for me, but it was a throwaway for a sales event, and it’s never been used since.

While cleaning out the folder that SpamSieve tosses obvious spam into, I found a message from Lexus Monterey, containing details of my car and mileage, reminding me to schedule appropriate service.

It was sent to an email address that has never received anything but spam. I don’t even know who I originally gave it to, but it definitely wasn’t Lexus (and, by the way, not Calumet Photo, who also sends things to it…). For years, I had a special blackhole rule for that address, because it was the source of 40% of my spam.

Lexus Monterey didn’t send this mail. idriveonline.com did, and they helpfully set up an “account” for me, including both username and password in the mail.

Now why would Lexus send me to a third-party service-scheduling site, when they have their own? And why would they buy a mailing list from a spammer and cross-reference it with their customer database? Hmmm…

Now "astroturf" means "anyone I don't like"...

The often amusing, usually gullible technophiles at BoingBoing have struck again, with Cory Doctorow’s stunned discovery that an organization that’s been attacking PETA for years receives funding from frequent PETA targets.

Never mind the factual truth of their claims about PETA and other lifestyle lobbies, or that PETA itself is about as “grassroots” as a concrete driveway; Cory Doctorow has done a “little digging”, and determined that The Center for Consumer Freedom has (gasp!) industry ties (oh noes!), and therefore must be a tool of The Man, spouting nothing but lies.

Welcome to 1997, Mr. Doctorow. Here, have a 30,000-calorie sandwich and a clue.

Starting anew...

About six months ago, The Former Employer With Whom I Signed A Non-Disparagement Agreement decided to close their field offices and consolidate everything at the main office in Kirkland. Some folks were asked to relocate, some were laid off immediately, and a Lucky Few were asked to stay around for a while to manage the transition.

I fell into the third group, with the promise of a reasonable quantity of extra cash should I complete my tasks to their satisfaction. This cash was in fact received on schedule, so I have no immediate plans to test their tolerance for disparagement.

We said our goodbyes at the end of 2006, and I spent the first week of 2007 in Las Vegas, courtesy of a “three-free-nights” offer at the Luxor. While I was out there, Ooma, the company many former co-workers had already fled to, called me up to arrange interviews. I went in on the 10th, went back to meet the CEO on the 15th, accepted their offer on the 16th, flew home to Ohio to quickly see my family on the 19th, and started work today.

What do we do at Ooma? Can’t tell you. Ask again in (can’t tell you).

Men are from Porn, women are from Cuddle

Via Marginal Revolution, The Wall Street Journal discusses a recent survey of multi-millionaires:

Fully 63% of rich men said wealth gave them “better sex,” which they defined as having more-frequent sex with more partners. That compares to 88% of women who said more money gave them better sex, which they defined as “higher quality” sex.

I particularly like the way the WSJ article uses quotation marks in this paragraph…

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”