Monthly Archives: May 2005



I’m thankful for… workflows. I don’t know why exactly, but I get a real feeling of satisfaction from putting together workflows that allow others to produce stuff by stringing through a chain of tools. It’s also nice to work to shorten those chains by melting links together.



Dang. Those search terms I listed in my last article turn out to have exactly one hit (soon to be more…) in Google. I thought I’d unintentionally run across my first Googlewhack, but alas, the rule is two keywords.
“lazy impatient” – 210k hits, of course
“lazy pre-grilled” – 29 hits, not bad
“impatient pre-grilled” – 5 hits, not unclose


Where’s my pre-grilled [pork chop|steak]?

Hmmm, I thought this was a world where my every whim, frozen-food-wise, was to be fulfilled before I could imagine it, but apparently not… I want frozen, pre-grilled pork chops and steaks. Sure, they aren’t likely to be as-good-as-fresh, but they’d be good enough for a quick home meal, right? But so far, the best I can find is that Tyson used to have such things, but discontinued them.

Of course, I might be asking the wrong question. Maybe there is some other preservation process than freezing that would be equally convenient for the lazy, self-indulgent, single-serving-oriented, impatient consumer such as myself. Maybe _that’s_ how I need to search: “lazy impatient pre-grilled”…

I’m gonna get these things even if I have to create a new company to make them. Now that I’ve discovered the beauty of pre-cooked meats, I’m not only getting addicted to the convenience, but I’m also getting fascinated with the general idea of solving food processing problems. I’d bet there’s lots of interesting stuff going on behind the scenes to be able to deliver, say, a pretty good pre-grilled two-minute-microwave mushroom swiss burger in a highly convenient form, as our friends over at Advance Brands can.

(Side note: Hello, retail food industry? Can you get a web presence, please? The above page doesn’t even list the product that I have in my freezer. Other companies that I’ve looked at in my quest also fail to document their products to any great degree web-wise…)

Now that I think about this in a broader view, one of solving a food processing problem rather than of finding a frozen pre-grilled steak, I realize that there are other potential ways to solve the problem, and that some of the solutions would be applicable to a wider variety of problems. What if the process to get a grilled steak to a pampered fat American with an excessive sense of entitlement lead to a process to get a variety of foods from the places where they’re rotting in piles to the places where people are starving?

Of course, I know that that statement (besides triggering another hit from Cyveillance) conveniently ignores a host of problems not related to the chemistry of food products, but it’s nice to dream, anyway.


Imagine a Beowulf cluster of XBox 360s

C’mon EETimes, aren’t you supposed to be a respectable publication? Why are you posting garbage that claims that a triple-core 3.2GHz 128-bit vector unit can deliver 1Tflop? I mean, I could be wrong in my off-the-cuff calculations, but I’d have to be wrong by a factor of 78 or so if 1Tflop is true.

Or are you actually including the ATI chip in the total, and using the vastly inflated claims of the video chip market to beef up the numbers?

Anyway, I suppose I don’t really care since I don’t really have the proclivity to believe that the computing world has suddenly been inverted and now every teen with $200 will show up on TOP500, but still, one place I don’t figure I’d see crazy numbers like that is EET. – Custom PowerPC drives new Xbox 360 to Tflop performance


Plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee

Insects are pretty cool sometimes. Also the little bits of electronics that can be attached to them, and the crazy scientists who are patient and precise enough to do experiments with the above.

Biology News Net: Biology – Waggle dance controversy resolved by radar records of bee flight paths


Fun little games

Speaking of 3D and physics, check out the games at Fun stuff!



It’s interesting how often 3D computer graphics comes up in my work-life. I guess it’s mainly a function of being vaguely good at it. In any case, it’s quite a bit of fun sometimes. A project I’m working on for a client now integrates 3D graphics and physics to do a vehicle simulation. It’s really getting me in the mood to make some sorta video game. I can think of this simulation as my first little 3D game, I guess, and see where that leads.

By the way, hurray for open source again. Irrlicht and ODE are both doing a very nice job, though I have to admit that there are some steep learning curves on some bits for both, since there are holes in the documentation (and the code). Still, glad I didn’t have to start this project writing code to pump tris and solve 20-some dimensional linear equations efficiently. I’ll get back to writing my own engines some other day :-).


The business layer

I don’t have all my thoughts well-formed on this yet, but I should post something lest I have a genuine lull here…

I’m just going to put this is basic scenario-outline form. Please leave comments to fill in some details so that we can all think about this more. (Hehe, he thinks he has readers).

Say I want to build a weather website.

As a technologist, I ask: what kind of database will I use? Where will I host the site? What features will I assume in the users’ browsers? How can I reuse existing infrastructure and code?

As an HCI practicioner, I ask: what sort of tasks will the user be performing? What’s the best way to scope the information presented to the user? How should the site be customizable? How can I make this more useful to more users?

As a business developer, I ask: what is the value of this site? How can I get people to use it? Where will I get the data and labor necessary to maintain it? How can I integrate this service with others?

One can think about business as the art and science of incorporating human values as explicit variables into system design. A proper understanding of this, then, can lead to more robust, useful and long-lived systems, building on the previous layers of HCI and raw technology.


Micron-sized refrigeration device

This is quite impressive, at least to me. Who’da thought that they’d keep coming up with uses for that there quantum mechanics knowledge? 🙂 – Micron-sized refrigeration device has no moving parts
I think the thing that was most impressive is the idea of using it for cryogenic cooling in sensor applications. Some day your blender and your cell phone will have a little 100mK chamber in it, and you won’t even realize how fantastically cool that is.