Wednesday, February 25, 2004

The Economist surprised me by having an article about economics. It's about the benefits of outsourcing, unemployment, and other things the politicians (and our intuition) tell us are bad. One of the most important things I've learned about math/science/economics is that intuition is often wrong.

Monday, February 23, 2004

The secret to true happiness. Print this out. Put it up on your fridge. Television vs. books? This article tells you why books are better. Going to a concert vs. buying a home theater? This article tells you why the concert is better. It tells you why you should minimize "drugs, chocolate, loveless sex, shopping, masturbation, television and spectator sports".

Saturday, February 21, 2004

I had been on Slashdot for years before I realized they have a blogging service.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

What a twisted world we live in where where Sims can play SimCity and SimCity can contain your Sims.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

When querying for best search engine, Yahoo! returns Yahoo! Search. MSN returns MSN Search. Google returns Choose the best search engine for Your Information Needs, a site that lists many search engines and gives advice on which one you should pick when looking for different kinds of information.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Elisa Camahort's Personal Weblog is really nice. I found this blog while looking for restaurant reviews for the Silicon Valley area. I wish I had the energy to make such a useful, easy to navigate, nice looking blog. Things I like: easy scan of blog entries with 'Read More' to see the rest; categories; RSS feed; statistics. Update [2004-02-16]: Elisa is too modest; she says it's all thanks to iBlog. But it isn't just the appearance that I like. It has lots of good, readable content. There are lots of nice looking blogs I've found, but few of them have anything useful on them, so I've never mentioned them.

In my ideal Internet future, everyone would write up a quick review of every product/service they buy. Currently I end up buying lots of junk because I don't know that it's junk. With lots of reviews out there, everyone can buy only the good stuff. Companies would no longer be able to get away with selling bad things, because they'd all get negative reviews. This future requires that publishing reviews be incredibly easy. Blogging or Epinions are currently the closest thing we've got. I much prefer blogging because there's no central control. This future also requires software that can read millions of reviews and aggregate them into something that consumers can actually interpret, but I'm sure this will come if the reviews are out there.

Monday, February 16, 2004

I have some more building galleries/instructions thanks to Joo G.

Some building ideas/instructions for Supermag and Geomag: 1 (non-English), 2 (non-English), 3 (very nice! includes description of magnetic forces), 4 (annoying javascript) (non-English), 5 (non-English), 6 (non-English), 7 (non-English, WMV-format videos), 8 (describes magnetic forces)

Nelson M. and Joo G. both point me to Geomag SA, the Geomag site. Apparently the inventor of Geomag and the previous producer of Geomag, Plastwood, no longer get along. Plastwood has abandoned Geomag and come out with their lookalike, Supermag. This would explain the promotional material I've read, in which Plastwood makes it sound like Supermag is the successor to Geomag. It also explains the difficulty of finding Geomags―I'm sure Geomag was scrambling to find a new manufacturer. The catalog includes a list of their sets, including some building image galleries. The Geomag site argues that Geomag is better than Supermag:

  1. Supermag magnets are ~25% weaker
  2. Supermag magnets are a single bar instead of Geomag, which has two bars (!)

They also describe why they think two different lengths is a dumb idea. The example they give is essentially suppose you want to build something with only one length... you have to buy all these extra magnets that you don't use. True, but with the new Geomag you end up having to buy these "panels" (at least it appeared that the panels were included in sets with rods). I do like having a single length but I can also see some advantages of having two lengths. Their site navigation is a little confusing, but eventually you'll find a gem: Geomag: Come & Play. This part of the site has beautiful diagrams showing how Geomag works, how you should build things, and so on. In particular, they show the two-magnet interior of a Geomag rod. From what I read on their site, Supermag contains a single magnet in each rod. However, it's not clear to me what the difference is in practice. Geomag claims between the magnets is a steel rod. Doesn't this essentially turn it into a single magnet? In any case, the Geomag site is convincing. It matches my own experience with Geomag vs. Supermag: Geomag is generally better than Supermag but Supermag is still decent.

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Sunday, February 15, 2004

February 15's Alias had a reference to the Church of Mammals as a place where you can become a minister online. I'm going to file this next to the "get a Ph.D. in 27 days" ad I found. You can do anything on the Internet!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Comcast announced today that they want to buy Disney. I think this is foolish.

What does Comcast get out of this deal? What does Disney get out of this deal? What do consumers get out of this deal?

Comcast thinks that by having access to content, they can deliver Disney contant (movies, sports, etc.) through their delivery system (cable TV, internet). My question is, are they thinking that only they will deliver Disney content? Let's say they decide to restrict Disney content to only Comcast customers. Viewers are not going to subscribe to multiple cable TV or multiple internet services to get Disney channels. Most consumers thus lose access to Disney content. This is bad. Disney loses access to consumers. Advertising revenues go way down. This is bad. So I don't think Comcast can really pull off restricting Disney content to their own network. Comcast may get a few additional customers, but Disney loses a lot more than Comcast gains.

So if Comcast can't practically restrict Disney to their own network, what can they do with it? What is the advantage of having Disney content, if it still has to be distributed to their competitors? Well, maybe it can be used in negotiations with others (Time-Warner Cable, DirectTV) who also own content. Or maybe they're going to use the resources of one company (like cash) to benefit the other. But I think the real reason this merger came up is the reward structure in public companies. CEOs can claim "success" when they do something. One thing to put on your resume is "led $66 billlion merger". It looks good, even if the merger didn't make sense. We're bored. We have lots of money. Let's buy someone.

I think delivery networks that own content are in a worse position to negotiate the delivery of more content. As a delivery network, they're a partner of a content provider. As a delivery network that owns content, they're a competitor.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Tog has a good list of Reasons to Not Shop On Line.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Is dark matter bogus? I sure hope so. Dark matter, dark energy, and wormholes are all things I hope will die out.

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