October 07, 2006

The Moscow Puzzles

It is a rainy Saturday afternoon today. What to do with the kids?

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Posted by David at 01:36 PM | Comments (4)

October 10, 2006

Printable Mazes

Here is a free PDF maze generator that can create mazes of various sizes and complexity, including pretty diabolical mazes that include 3-d crossings...

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Posted by David at 11:11 AM | Comments (46)

October 17, 2006

Project Runway

iTunes has brought me back to TV, and it's changing my viewing habits. After a couple years of only-watching-DVDs, I'm starting to actually follow a couple TV shows throughout the season, like LOST, BSG, and Heroes.

But I find that on iTunes I am following shows that I would have never discovered on the hundred-channel cable dial. My current favorite is Project Runway, a reality gameshow where a dozen fashion designers vie to sew the best outfits each week. The initial draw: the runway show with slinky models where the clothes are judged every episode, hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum.

But when you follow the show from the beginning - which is easy to do on iTunes - you quickly get sucked into the real appeal of the show: witnessing the creative process of a dozen talented craftsmen (and women) creating something out of nothing every week. The kids love it, too: whenever Piper watches it with us, she goes around the house pretending to sew everything.

Looks like the last episode is tomorrow! I don't know what channel it's on. I think I'll catch it on iTunes.

Posted by David at 09:48 PM | Comments (1)

October 18, 2006

Operational Efficiency

It's starting to look a lot like Christmas for Nintendo...

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Posted by David at 06:24 PM | Comments (1)

October 21, 2006

Best Science Writing of 2006

At the SFO Books, Inc last week I picked up a couple pieces of airplane reading that I enjoyed....

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Posted by David at 03:49 PM | Comments (3)

October 22, 2006

The Inner Life of a Cell

Understanding of molecular biology continues to advance at a stunning rate. Here is a recent video that takes you on a tour of the inner workings of a white blood cell as it rolls, stops, and slips out of the bloodstream at the site of some inflammation. The video depicts an amazing amount of detail, one molecule at a time:

About the video...

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Posted by David at 05:38 PM | Comments (2)

October 24, 2006

World's Best Flashlights

Halloween is coming! Piper is going to be Hermione and Anthony doesn't know what he wants to be yet. We've got our big bucket of candy and spooky decorations ready.

But the most important question for Dad is.... Where are my flashlights?

I think my love of flashlights makes me an unqualified gadget nut. I don't know what the attraction of flashlights is - flashlights are simple things after all - you stick in the batteries, and light comes out. But for some reason I really enjoy a good flashlight. Every year around this time I get a bunch of flashlights for myself and my little costumed ones.

This year there are a couple new flashlights that I particularly like...

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Posted by David at 09:56 PM | Comments (8)

October 27, 2006

Simonyi In Space

I worked for Simonyi briefly when I was an intern at Microsoft, several (many?) years ago, in the pre-web 1.0 era....

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Posted by David at 03:13 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2006

Ignoring Moore's Law

Moore's law soldiers on, with CPUs doubling their computing power every 18 months. Graphical performance is increasing even faster, doubling every six months.

What is the right thing to do with all this delicious computing power?

Ignore it!

Keeping Lean in a World of Plenty

We live in a world of Moore's law overshoot, where a child's toy does more computation than the world's fastest supercomputers just a few years ago.

For decades, our computers have been speed-constrained, so we engineers have been trained to use CPU power as completely as we can. When I was learning to program, it took a long time to recompute a big spreadsheet; it took even longer for a word processor preview a document; and of course it took ages to render a single 3d scene. So we are accustomed to trying to get the fastest CPU possible and work it to the bone. We programmers tweak and tune our algorithms to squeeze out every last CPU cycle. We all love a fast program.

But the fact is, since about 2000, CPU power has overshot what is needed to solve all but a few compute-constrained problems. The same thing that has happened in food and automobiles is happening in computers: we are discovering that more is not better. Better is better.

The interesting unsolved problems now lie elsewhere, in better displays, lower power, smaller form factors... Or going back to the drawing board and asking the basic human questions again....

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Posted by David at 02:10 PM | Comments (1)