Saturday, January 29, 2005

Best place to buy tires

Kevin Kelley, of Wired fame, says the best place to buy tires is online at Tire Rack.

It has thorough reviews and buying guides for tires, and when I asked it about snow tires for a Ford Windstar SE, it gave me this info and a bunch of places near Mercer Island that will install them.

Quicktake camera photo conversion

I have a whole bunch of old photos taken with an original Apple QuickTake 100 camera in the early 1990s, but I can't view them anymore because the image format is no longer supported.

Finally, today I found some information about how to solve the problem.

Macintouch offers the following advice:

Mike Silverman

The bad news is that the QuickTake 100 and 150 cameras used a
special, proprietary version of the PICT format to store images.
These can't be opened by anything, including GraphicConverter,
unless you are running on an OS 9 or earlier system with Apple's
special QuickTake image extension installed. Apple has a tech note
about this
OS X: Unable to Open QuickTake 100, 150 Pictures
, but of course
the tech note is quite unhelpful about actually pointing you to the
necessary software.

For that, you have to search Apple's database of obsolete
software, where the QuickTake 1.0 software for PowerMacintosh can be


You'll need to find a bona-fide MacOS 9 or earlier PowerMac to
install this on (you can't run it in Classic mode on an OS X box)
but once you do that you can then open the QuickTake pictures, and
save them in another format.

If you don't have an old Mac running Classic system software
handy, you can always try your local library, schools, or even
actually buy a first generation PowerMac for $10 or less on eBay.

Christopher Morrison

Go to

AppleCare Support - Older Software Downloads
and look for
"QuickTake_for_Power_Mac_1.0.sea.bin". I actually converted some old
photos to JPEG format a few days ago, and it works fine in Classic
mode in OS X.

Craig Colthorp

I believe that iView Multimedia includes a QuickTake image plug-in
that will read old QuickTake camera images. From there, one can
convert the images to whatever format they wish.

[QuickTake isn't explicitly listed in the iView site as a
supported format, though that may not be the final answer -

Fred Shippey

His only option is to find someone with OS 9 AND the necessary
software who will do the conversion for him. Note that there were
two different QuickTake cameras (100 and 150) and they use different

By the way, I'm moderating a panel on digital imaging archiving
issues at the I3A leadership conference next week and will use Ken's
comments as one of my "problem" examples.

Robert Patterson

I searched my OS 9 machine and found that Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2 has
some Apple QuickTake Plugins so it would seem that Adobe might be
able to open them, then save as something else.

I also found that Toast Titanium 5.02 had Roxio Photo and in
there, in PlugIns, is an extension called "QuickTake™ Image"

[Roger Kramer - The Roxio Photo folder (from Toast Titanium 5)
contains iView Media 1.0 that includes a QuickTake image import
plug-in. Have never had QuickTake images so I cannot vouch for its

Friday, January 28, 2005

Mercer Island School District Board Meeting

We attended the beginning of last night's MISD board meeting, which featured an important presentation by Stowe Sprague, who was there with a few other moms and members of the Mercer Island Preschool Association. They are trying to get more attention for preschool and daycare issues for children under 6, particularly in light of a new building project being considered by the school district.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Quantitatively measuring popularity of books

The New York Times > Technology > Amazon's Ratings Count After All: Mikhail Gronas, an assistant professor at Dartmouth, used a computer to analyze those user-submitted book reviews on and found that the best-selling books are those that are high on a "controversality index", i.e. have as many one-star as five-star reviews.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Silicon Valley Jobs

Looks like we left Silicon Valley in bad shape. This chart is the WSJ's summary of the job situation there for the past 10 years:

the source data is from Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

Mel Levine, Pediatrician and "Demystification"

NPR's Margot Adler did an interesting story about Mel Levine, M.D., director of the University of North Carolina's Clinical Center for the Study of Development and learning, and a co-founder of All Kinds of Minds, an organization that analyzes learning differences. He talks like my kind of pediatrician.

He doesn't look for root causes for learning or developmental problems, saying that's a waste of time because you'll never know for sure what the cause was and you probably can't do anything about it anyway. Instead, he uses a process he calls "demystification" to work with a child on all their strengths and weaknesses. Once you put a label on a person's weaknesses, he says, it becomes much easier to find solutions.

For example, he might take an unruly student and find that they suffer from "sequencing problems", so he'll work with him/her to show how the problem affects them and some things they can do about it.

60 MInutes did a profile of him as well.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Earthquake movie

The New Scientist reports on a movie of a Magnitude 8.3 quake off the coast of Hokkaido in 2003:

made by Kristine Larson and a team at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

How to increase Iraqi election participation

The NYTimes has an opinion piece by Frederick Barton and Bathsheba Crocker from the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. They suggest holding a referendum where we ask the Iraqis themselves whether they want the U.S. to leave immediately, or not.

I like that idea! One additional spin they don't mention is that you could hold the referendum along with the parliamentary elections. It would give the insurgents who oppose the elections a reason to boost voter turnout.

Steven Pinker weighs in on Harvard president's comments about women

When Harvard President Lawrence Summers made remarks about women at an academic conference, he set off a firestorm.

A Harvard Crimson article, quotes two sociologists saying Summers' remarks are "uninformed":
For the biological interpretation [of the gender gap] to hold, it is necessary that both of the following assumptions be true, the authors write on page 41. [First,] the relationship between the measured aspects of brain functioning and math/science achievement is causal. [Second,] gender differences in thee aspects of brain functioning are biologically biased.

Neither of these two assumptions is supported by the scientific evidence, Xie and Shauman conclude.

But Lawrence says he's following Steven Pinker's logic, who says in today's Crimson:
CRIMSON: Were President Summers remarks within the pale of legitimate academic discourse?
PINKER: Good grief, shouldnt everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigor? Thats the difference between a university and a madrassa.

CRIMSON: Finally, did you personally find President Summers remarks (or what youve heard/read of them) to be offensive?
PINKER: Look, the truth cannot be offensive. Perhaps the hypothesis is wrong, but how would we ever find out whether it is wrong if it is offensive even to consider it? People who storm out of a meeting at the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without providing arguments or evidence, dont get the concept of a university or free inquiry.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

NYTimes: Harvard Chief Defends His Talk on Women

The New York Times > National > Harvard Chief Defends His Talk on Women

Lawrence Summers, President of Harvard, actually had the nerve to bring this up in a brainstorming academic conference where he was specifically encouraged to be "provocative". No transcripts exist of the conference, specifically because they wanted to encourage free thinking without later fear of provacation, but it's interesting that when he made a hint that, like height, maybe some biology accounts for some of the differences between men and women and their interests in science.

Denice Denton, chancellor designate at UC-Santa Cruz and currently an engineering prof at U-Washington, walked out of the conference as he made his remarks. Oh yes, she loves the free exchange of ideas.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Kid-friendly coffee shops in Seattle

ParentMap - Out & About, September 2004 publishes a short list of suggested coffee places to bring your kids.

I think the one I'll try at some point is Victor's, in Redmond.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder, Product Reviews, and Industry News

Wi-Fi Hotspot Finder, Product Reviews, and Industry News

Tells me where all the wi-fi networks are in a given zip code. Note that Mercer Island has a bunch, including Starbucks and McDonalds, but only one free one: the library.

George Bush uses iPod

Check it out: W uses an iPod:
MacDailyNews - Apple and Mac News - Welcome Home

Birthday Party M&Ms

Hey cool, you can now order custom M&M's. The minimum order is four 8-oz bags, for about $40, shipped in a week or two.

Have a bag of M&Ms printed with somebody's name on each candy.

(thanks, Virginia )

Ivy League losing its cachet

A new paper by Wharton Prof Peter Cappelli, and discussed in Slashdot and Slate points out that the number of private college-educated CEOs in the Fortune 100 has dropped from 54% in 1980 to 42% in 2001.

Several speculations are made as to the reason: more money and public universities relative to the Ivies, changing corporate practices that value Ivy Leagues less, and more rich kids in top schools who don't care about work.

I think this is a long-term trend. The value of a Harvard or Stanford education is in long-term decline because the democratization of the Internet makes it easier to acquire the same education off-campus, whether through free classes like MIT's Open University, or more educators simply making their knowledge more accessible to communities on the web.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Teechur kin U spel?

Sound Politics and Douglas Jole notice this spelling mistake on the Washington Teacher's Union web site:

Certify Christine Gregoire!
Dear Union Member,
As you know, Christine Gregoire's gubanatorial election has already been certified by the Secretary of State. Tomorrow, the state legislature will also certify the election as fair and complete.

To their credit, I'm sure the teacher's union is very busy fighting for higher quality education, often enduring great personal and job sacrifices on behalf of our children. "Gubernatorial" is not an easy word to spell under those circumstances. The concept of "margin of error" is probably not something they are required to teach, so no doubt a vote count that is 99.9% accurate sounds pretty good to them too.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

WA State Election was a statistical tie

Seattle Times quotes several people saying "this election was 99.9% accurate", including Democratic Party spokeswoman Lisa Cohen, King county Elections Superintendent Bill Huennekens. But wait a minute! With more than 2M votes cast, 99.9% isn't good enough: that's still a margin of error of over 2,000 votes. With a 140-vote margin, the accuracy needs to be closer to 99.999% -- "5 nines", or roughly the standard used by the phone company.

This election was a statistical tie.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Internet Usenet archives from Google

Google just released a 20-year Usenet timeline based on their database of messages sent to the Internet news groups. Fascinating to read, and especially nostalgic for me because it begins in May 1981, only a few months before I had my first account on the ARPA network and started to read these groups myself.

via Slashdot.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Results-based thinking

The Dec 6, 2004 issue of the New Yorker has an interesting article by Atul Gawande about ranking doctors:

The hardest question for anyone who takes responsibility for what he or she does is, What if I turn out to be average? ... I could tell myself, Someone's got to be average. If the bell curve is a fact, then so is the reality that most doctors are going to be average. There is no shame in being one of them, right?

Except, of course, there is. Somehow, what troubles people isnt so much being average as settling for it. Everyone knows that averageness is, for most of us, our fate. And in certain matters -- looks, money, tennis -- we would do well to accept this. But in your surgeon, your child's pediatrician, your police department, your local high school? When the stakes are our lives and the lives of our children, we expect averageness to be resisted. And so I push to make myself the best. If I'm not the best already, I believe wholeheartedly that I will be. And you expect that of me, too. Whatever the next round of numbers may say.

The first reaction anyone has when asked to submit to a rankings process is to ask what is being measured. Teachers hate having their pay tied to students' test performance because they know that tests don't measure everything. And we all know people who are good at manipulating a test system to their advantage by say, encouraging the "dumb" kids to stay home sick the day of the test.

But I think these problems do end up coming out in the wash. People with low SATs do worse in college, no matter how hard you dismiss the unfairness of the test.

Quantitative measurement is good, and you shouldn't be afraid of it. You and all your activities have results that can be ranked, and those rankings hold whether you look at them or not. At least if you know where you stand, you have some hope of improvement.

Textamerica: another image-posting site

Camera Phone Moblog Community |

Lets you email a photo to your 'moblog', which they host for free. Pitched as ideal for camera phones.

I'd sign up right now, but the terms of service say they can sell your email address.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Netflix Profiles: New Queue Sharing Feature

Hey, cool! Now I can let each person in my family have their own Netflix queue. You still get the same number of videos rented at a time, but a different one shows up depending on which you returned.

Hacking NetFlix : Netflix Launches Profiles: New Queue Sharing Feature

Tsunami hits US East Coast

The New York Times points out that the tragic tsunami in the Indian Ocean traveled around the world, and caused a 9-inch crest to hit the Atlantic Coast about 36 hours later.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Tsunami animation

Click this link for an animation showing how the Tsunami swarmed through the Indian Ocean, by Kenji Satake, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan.

[from Complexity Digest]

Monday, January 03, 2005

Petition to ask for a revote for WA governor

The election was a statistical tie. With so many total votes cast, and so many opportunities for errors (human and mechanical), you will get a different result each time you count, so there is no way to know who really won the election.

It's not that expensive to simply hold a new run-off, and you can sign an on-line petition to ask that we do that.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Tsunami satellite photos (before/after)

Here is the Banda Aceh shore before last week's tsunami:

and after:

Sound Politics: Bombshell: More signs of fraud in Precinct 1823

Sound Politics: Bombshell: More signs of fraud in Precinct 1823

Seattle's Precinct 1823 counted 343 ballots, which is 71 more ballots than the 272 voters who cast them. This is the single largest discrepancy between ballots and voters in all of King County. Nearly all of the discrepancy is due to "provisional ballots".

You can look up your own record to see if you voted: