Monday, October 30, 2006

Find a Quack

Quackwatch is a site that compiles information about possible quack medical claims.

[via Wired]

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Podcast lists

This weekend I listened to several podcasts while doing yardwork and other "dead time" in the car, etc.

David Shenk interview: he wrote a recent book about Chess.

Adam Bosworth: Former Microsoftie, now Google, thinks content is the only thing that matters.

Richard Dawkins: wants everyone to be an atheist. from Science Friday. 

Future listening

Here's a list of podcasts I've downloaded for future listening.

Lawrence Lessig (Comedy of the Commons)

Malcolm Gladwell: a 30-min presentation he gave in Camden Maine a few years ago.

Six Apart: interview with Ben and Mena Trott.

Neil Gershenfeld, Director, MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms talking about personal device fabs.  (26min)

Thomas Barnett, Assistant for Strategic Futures, Office of Force Transformation Office of Secretarty of Defense: Emerging Worldviews (about Defense transformation) (32min)

I also downloaded a pile of lectures from iTunes by the Stanford Entrepreneur forum.

Any suggestions?

What does Mercer Island do with seized property?

When the owner of a stolen or found item can't be located, the Mercer Island police department sells it at

You can also register your items at If they are ever found by the police, you'll get them back for free.

Apparently Mercer Island was the first in Washington State to join this service.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Richard Pope is a sleaze: don't vote for him

Until I started to understand the importance of local politics, I never took local elections all that seriously. What difference does it make who wins the race for district judge?  The "will of the people" will ensure that in the long run the right person will win.

But some people really are crooks and sleazes.  Take this guy for example:  Bellevue "lawyer" Richard Pope:

He's rated "Not Qualified" by the King County Bar Association, having been cited for "unprofessional conduct" as a lawyer in four cases.

The bad news is that he actually won the primary!  I guarantee that anybody who looks at his record or the things said about him would never vote for him.  So who did?

Maybe people thought he had a nicer name than the other candidates.  Maybe they vaguely remember seeing one of his signs out on Island Crest Way.  Maybe his name rings a bell because he's run ten times in the past, so after a while you just start thinking he's already somebody important.

Fortunately, several legitimate organizations have come together on a non-partisan basis to post objective facts about each of the candidates on  I am definitely going to look at that before the next election.

What's a Viiv PC?

Our home PC(s) are getting old and will need to be replaced in order to take advantage of the coolest Vista features.  Having a Media Center PC would also let us do some things on our TV (like Hi-Def, Tivo-like DVR) that are long overdue for a family like ours.  But how do you know which PC is future-proof?

An easy way is to follow Intel's Viiv specs. According to this nice summary in Byte, Building A Viiv PC requires the following components:


A chipset that is from one of the Intel 945/955/975 Express chipset families. Viiv also specifies an Intel dual-core processor, including the Pentium D, Core Duo and Pentium Extreme Edition.


Another important Viiv ingredient is an NCQ SATA Hard Drive. NCQ stands for Native Command Queuing, which increases a SATA drive's performance by letting it receive more than one I/O request at a time and letting the drive itself determine the order in which to carry out the requests. A remote control is not required for Viiv compliance, but Windows MCE does require a Phillips Key Code MCE-Type remote for full functionality.


A Viiv-compliant motherboard featuring a 945, 955 or 975 chipset must also include an Intel ICH7-DH chip (the DH stands for Digital Home). The ICH7-DH enables Intel's Matrix Storage Technology which supports NCQ hard drives and RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. The ICH7-DH can take advantage of NCQ without needing an actual RAID array or more than one hard drive. Viiv also specifies a gigabit NIC, which all three chipsets support.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My recent podcasts

Here are some of the podcasts I've played during the past few days:

Radio OpenSource: I heard Steven Pinker host interviews asking various intellectuals about their most dangerous idea. As always, Pinker is so articulate and describes what I think (e.g. regarding the unlikelihood of intelligent life in outer space).

Incidentally, I also found a page dedicated to Steven Pinker Multimedia: all known audio and video of Steven Pinker.

I listened to Jennifer Burns, a professor from UC-Berkeley. Her lectures on US History are available on iTunes, including the one I listened to called "Rise of the Religious Right".

Harvard professor Niall Ferguson discusses his new book War of the Worlds on Open Source.  He's a historian who claims big wars result from the three E's: economic volatility, empire descent, and ethnic tension.  All three are in place now in Iraq and portend a big WWII-style conflict.  I originally heard about this book in an NPR interview, so it was nice to get a longer version of it.  (Incidentally, the Economist thinks it's an okay book by a brilliant, if too populist, historian).

Plus, I listened to several short news podcasts by The Economist, Wall Street Journal, and Scientific American.


 This week's story about IllyCaffe's Head barista reminded me of that excellent espresso I have every time I'm in Europe.  I no longer remember exactly, but it's possible that my very first espresso was an Illy, on my trip to Italy in 1993.  From the article, it sounds like Mr. Illy should exchange coffee-making tips with David Schomer from Espresso Vivace:

He says that his firm is inching ever closer to delivering “perfection in every cup”. His particular obsession is with technical innovation. He claims (though some espresso-lovers dispute this), that Illycaffe has been responsible for three of the seven big innovations in coffee-making in the past century, as a traditional Italian craft has become an industrial process. The firm standardised espresso-making, and developed the paper pod containing a single dose of pre-ground coffee for an espresso machine. (Others invented decaffeination, instant coffee, multiple packets and liquid coffee.) Mr Illy is a chemistry graduate—at university he wrote a thesis on the “Quality of Espresso from a Chemical Perspective”—and is as enthusiastic about the science of coffee as he is about its taste. Now Illycaffe is implementing what it regards as its third big innovation. This is a two-stage espresso-making process involving “hyper-fusion” (which intensifies the drink's aroma), and “emulsification” (which makes it smoother).

Can you buy Illy whole beans in Seattle?  Yes, at Williams-Sonoma at Bellevue Square, plus a few QFCs like the one on NE 8th in Bellevue or on Capitol Hill.