Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Saturday, June 6, 2009

This Kills Me

Thursday, June 4, 2009

VW Karmann Ghia's

I personally think the VW Karmann-Ghia is one of the prettiest cars around, and I would love to have one. I believe the example above is a pre-61 example because the headlights are mounted lower than in the ones in the US (Though the Karmann-Ghia was first made in 1955 it didn't come to the State until 1967) VW should have left well enough alone, I think the original is considerably better looking than the ones we got here. The name Karmann-Ghia refers to the Karmann coachworks, which built the cars, and Ghia, the Italian design firm who styled the car. There were actually 2 completely different Ghia's, the kind most people know and love, and a bigger fuglier one based on the type 3 VW, but only sold in Europe (pictured HERE). The Ghia was actually hand made at Karmann where the body panels were welded together and polished by hand because the complex curves of the body could not be mass produced at the time. Powered by the wheezey Beetle motor, the Ghia never really lived up to it's sporty image. How slow was it? Slow enough that VW made a T.V. commercial which poked fun at how underpowered the Karmann-Ghia was (I am so old I actually remember seeing it) Those young or memory challenged can see it below

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I love the English system

Other than the fact that the Metric system has no basis in everyday human experience,
it's wonderful. I like base 10 as much as the next person (it is the easiest "times"
to remember). BUT outside the scientific realm, it is my contention that the Imperial system is better. Granted I grew up with the Imperial system, but the fact remains that 12 is a very handy increment to use. I know metric heads will say 10 is easier, in scientific life it probably is, but in everyday life the English system rules. For example, say you lived in a cave by yourself, and you needed to build something (naturally you will need to measure things), so you are going to have to define a measurement system. How would you do that? Well, you would probably take a stick or some arbitrary distance, and then divide it to make a ruler. Say you assign the ruler a length of ten, okay, so fold it in half and you get five, 1/2 your ruler. So now you have to find smaller units, so you fold it into fourths, now what do you get? Well, if your scale is ten, you get 2 1/2. Well, that's kindof awkward and to be truthful, you don't need to assign numbers at all, you can just use the stick. If on the other hand, I decided that my stick represented 12 units (like 1 foot) half would be 6, half of that 3, one third is four etc. etc. Basically for real world everyday measuring 12 is MUCH better than ten. If you add in the fact that the metric system is based on non human measures, it becomes even more awkward. Teaspoons, Tablespoons, Cups and Pints are all common sizes that are found in kitchens around the world. And how many degrees are in a circle? Hey, what do you know, it's 360 which happens to be a multiple of 12. Okay so it's also a multiple of ten, but you get the point.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Google is making Waves

Warning: Long Video ! But worth it.

I really think Google Waves has the potential to be a true game changer in the coming years. I have used Google's Enterprise Apps version for the past few years or so, as well as Picasa, Maps, Search, Sketchup, Gmail etc. All of these offerings are good in their own right, but the "Package" was lacking something that was keeping it from being coherent. I did not know it until I saw it, But I think Waves might be the missing link. Here are a couple of factors (for lack of a better word) which I think have the possibility to make this a real breakaway moment for Google.

1. While pre-web generations were focused on perfection of all things, post web folks aren't. Stay with me for a second here. High Fidelity, HDTV, ever more complex software (hello MS Office, I am talkin to you), etc etc. The coming generations, the ones who came into their formative years post millennium are more focused on convenience over perfection. Their environment is remarkably different than the one I and my cohorts matured in, in their world nearly everything is disposable and impermanent and often free. My kids happily watch a television program or movie on the computer usually for free when and where they want. The quality is lousy, but they honestly don't care. Media, communications and software are all available from multiple channels for low or no cost and are disposable. Texting is a crummy way to communicate, but it is convenient and free, e-mail and e-mail software is largely the same, ditto for cell phones, music, ipods nearly anything else you can think of. This multichannel commodity mindset has yet to hit the world of productivity and collaboration SW, but when it does it will rapidly change the IT landscape. Open standards, strong search, flexibility and convenience are all going to become a necessity to effectively deliver IT services in this multi-channel world. With Waves, I think Google is extremely well positioned to be serve this demographic.

2. Search is likely to be increasingly important in the productivity world. I for one, NEVER manually categorize any of my e-mails and excepting spam, never delete any. Why should I? I can retrieve any e-mail in seconds with search, and the same is true for documents. Any non-professional categorization (and many professional ones) are imperfect. How many times have you sat in a colleagues office waiting for them to dig through all their e-mail folders to try to remember where they put that e-mail. Now add mutli-channel multi-format communications and collaboration and stir. How are you going to effectively keep track of all that? Waves, that's how. Google has replaced the tired "folder" metaphor with the much more relevant thread or Wave's metaphor. I also happen to be of the opinion that this will also replace the "team room" metaphor popular in Sharepoint and collaboration products. Waves puts things into context as apposed to categories, the context being the communications chain. When I go back to try to get a document, or e-mail or whatever, what is more helpful? That it is in a folder or that it is in a conversation? The first thing I always want to know is the context of the thing, what are the communications on either side of it? Waves should be able to do this much better than it's competitors.

3. What universities do matters and universities do open software. IMHO, this has been and will continue to drive the move to open source. My IT colleagues are scared witless about "not having support". But forces are strongly and rapidly pushing away that fear. Increasingly crappy and expensive customer support of overly complex and buggy COTS software and a mature open source catalogue with robust online collaboration tools have nullified the actual risk of "not having support".

When all of the above is taken into account, I'd say the needle is swinging in Google's direction, slowly but surely. Agree? Disagree?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

1935 Monaco-Trossi Radial Engine Race Car

Undoubtedly one of the most unusual GP cars of all time, the 16 cylinder aircraft engined
Monaco-Trossi was also one of the most ill conceived and short lived. Although the radial
offered a better power to weight ratio because of it's compact build and air cooling, any gains
were more than offset by the crummy layout. With front wheel drive, a huge forward
weight bias and skinny tires, the Trossi was a nightmare to drive. Still though, it's very cool
and looks to me like something out of a manga movie.