I'm Jon Olick. I make shiny things. I simplify.

I presented Sparse Voxel Octrees at Siggraph 2008.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gaming in 2011

Free to Play
Despite Red 5's game Firefall being a AAA free to play game, most games will still be pay to play in 2011. However, this is a growing trend that more and more games will adopt in the future. Red 5 is 2 steps ahead of the curve. Companies will always be willing to accept lower margins in order to gain market share. (Interestingly though, some free to play games make more money being free to play than they would if they were pay to play.)

Retro-fitting a free to play mechanism into an existing game will fail. It must be designed that way from the start.

Mainstream Indie
Minecraft has put indie in the forefront of many gamers eyes. Next year will have at least one other popular indie game that goes mainstream, and chooses to not align with any console manufacturer or publisher.

I know that many can argue about other games which reached this category, but I do believe that Minecraft is different enough to be considered its own class.

Linear Videogames
More and more games are going to feel like they are on rails. The rising costs of creating content will push most if not all games in this direction. Sad... but true.

Next generation Console Details Leaked
Some detailed information about the next generation consoles may be announced or leaked. After which the pissing matches get worse then they already are...

Playstation Move Fail
I love Sony dearly, but I do believe they have been out-gunned. Kinect is different enough to stand out against Nintendo. PS Move isn't really all that different from Wii. I expect to see lots of Wii knock-offs that many people will buy. However, I don't expect to see anything radically different. More of the same, but with fancier graphics and possibly some better camera interactions. I'm interested to see SPUs saving the day with PS Move. Go SPU!

Kinect Success
Microsoft will spout out some big numbers showing how Kinect is a financial success. Followed shortly by people being tired of flailing their arms and legs in every game. Still, I expect to see some interesting titles come out of Kinect.

Rage redefines beautiful
Rage from id Software is a fantastic game that I had the pleasure of working on. Id will release Rage with unique virtual texture mapping with a very many jaw dropping scenes in the game. I am a bit worried about the financial success of the product. This being ids first new title in a great many years (over 11 years). Will Rage be able to garnish the attention the title deserves, or will it be a viral hit that takes a while to reach its potential market penetration? Only time will tell. I hope for the best.

Epic releases next generation game
In typical Epic fashion, they will release a game shortly after id which many will praise as being superior. The flame wars begin! At the very least, I expect a tech demo showing something incredible. Epic won't give up their #1 spot without a good fight.

Housing bubble precursor

Foreclosures were way up in Q3 2010 causing housing prices to plummet in Q4. Read More

A precursor of things to come.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Real-time translation on an iPhone

Wow, I'm very impressed that this exists.


This is basically what I said few posts ago w/ computer vision & real-time translation. Very very impressed. I have to try it out.

They just had to cut some corners somewhere. :) Still very cool even if they did!

Home owners association

This is some really messed up things some people are doing.

As a member of the HOA, you have the ability to put a lein on somebody's house if they don't pay their dues. You then have the ability to foreclose on the house. Then you personally have the ability to bid on that house and then re-sell it at a profit to you personally.

That is messed up.

The crash of 2012

The housing market may have another dip in 2012. My measurements show that this may be a real possibility. Watch out home owners!

Review Xbox Kinect & Kinectimals

I got one of these for my daughter for X-mas. She loves it. She loves to watch me play it that is, not so much playing it herself. That is probably due to her age though. Kinectimals is a genius bit of hardware / software combo. Very well matched.

Here is my review of the hardware: Kinect.

Overall Fantastic device. I'm very impressed that they have been able to pull off what they can with it. The data is fairly low resolution in Z, and very noisy I bet.

It only works when you face the camera. Kind of obvious when you say it like that, but this has some pretty serious implications for what kinds of games you can create.

If you try to play the game with one hand behind your back, it breaks completely: Randomly positioning your arm trying to figure out the best position for it. Don't put your hands in your pockets or behind your back.

Don't point the camera at a window. If sunlight comes in the window, it doesn't work very well at all.

Don't have anything in your hands. It screws up. Including don't hold your kids in your arms.

Don't play while sitting on a couch.

In general, I think the corollary to the Wii's waggle is the flailing of your arms and legs wildly while you try to get the game to do what you want it to.

Precision with the device is apparently pretty bad. So bad that most games auto-aim for you when you try to toss something.

It doesn't detect any finger motion at all, so don't worry about it.

There is also a pretty significant lag from doing something, to the game actually registering the movement. Its pretty easy to plan for that ahead of time with the existing games. So no problems there. It might limit what kind of games you could make with it though.

As long as you are using the games the way they were intended. 9 times out of 10 it does what you want. Which is pretty awesome considering the data they are working with.

The software:

My daughter loooves kinectimals. She just can't get enough of it. Good job on that one Microsoft.

You purchase real-life stuffed animals and then register them with the games. Very cool idea connecting the physical and the virtual with that.

The other games are pretty nice too. Kinectimals is clearly the winner of the bunch though.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Augmented Reality, Boom or Bust?

There has been a lot of excitement brewing recently, and will be even more so in the coming year about Augmented Reality. Quite frankly, the technology just isn't there yet. The most advanced piece of augmented reality tech we have is Xbox 360 Kinect, and even it IMO leaves a lot to be desired. Don't get me wrong, its an amazing achievement! I think we will have a boom for the next few years in augmented reality will be followed shortly after by a bust when people realize that its just not what they expected. After the bust though maybe 5 years from now, maybe a little longer, we will have a true and lasting boom for augmented reality. Computer Vision is still in its infancy. There is an incredible amount of improvement that will come. I look forward to it. Here is a short list of what I think computers should do better and/or faster than people with the aid of advanced, in some cases yet to be invented Computer Vision tech:
1) Security Monitoring (this would also incorporate various parts of advanced AI)
2) 2D to 3D conversions (much to be desired in this area)
3) Automatic Driving (this is nowhere near ready for prime time, no matter what googlers think)
4) Targeted In-store advertising a la Minority Report. (I'm going to hate this, but this would be a billion dollar business, hello google...)
5) Real-time Augmented Reality OCR of names of places, menus at restaurants, etc. When I'm in Japan, I want to see things in English. (mobile phones aren't fast enough to do this entirely ATM)
6) A vacuum cleaning robot which doesn't act like a drunken sailor.
7) An automatic fan which points at me, wherever I go.
8) A computer which would automatically log me in, because it knows who is sitting at the computer. (lol, fooling it with a picture... priceless)
9) etc...

There are probably hundreds of great ideas where computer vision will revolutionize technology. This is only the beginning.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Framerate

Every video game I own runs at a solid 60fps. I have a new Samsung TV with motion flow technology. It is sometimes very jarring for TV and Film, but for video games.... it rocks. This is presumably because with TV and film, you have all sorts of very very hard problems to solve such as noise. Video games have no such problems (most video games anyway, as some inject noise for style). This is great for graphics programmers though. Drop a frame, no big deal because the TV will compensate. Have to run at 30fps because you game looks just too darn awesome for its own good? No big deal. --- Fantastic. My life just got a whole lot easier. And I didn't have to write a single line of code! Thanks TV makers!

Friday, November 19, 2010

We will not live forever?

According to many futurists such as Ray Kurzweil, we are destined to live very very long lives. Evidence of this is the fact that people are living longer. However, I read some conflicting evidence the other day that made me think. I wanted to share it. It said basically that we are not in fact living longer. People are living the same amount of time in the extreme as they did 200 years ago. However, a more accurate representation of the data is to say that a higher percentage of the population is living to very old age. Bleak prospects for infinite life. I was hoping to live to see Superbowl MXII. The only saving grace might indeed be the transfer of my brain to a computer and hope my RAID array doesn't fail and I lose 2 weeks worth of memories from backup.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Verizon vs AT&T mobile broadband

I just did a cross country trip to head to a funeral. The funeral was nice, but thats not what this post is about. Its about Verizon and AT&T mobile broadband, or more specifically Verizon mobile broadband (pre-pay no contract) and AT&T via tethered connection (iPhone). The setup was that I figured I could get some work done by using a mobile internet connection while on the road. I used Verizon on the way there, and AT&T on the way back. The results are that Verizon had much better speed in more places. That is very true, when I did have service, it was awesome. However it was very unreliable, constantly disconnecting whenever you switched cell towers. Also, vast parts of Kentucky and West Virginia had no service what so ever. AT&T via MyWi was a very reliable service (which is great for persistent connections), but it was dog slow. I got effectively dial-up speeds pretty much the whole way. I partly believe the unreliability of Verizon was due to poor software, but there is no way to tell for sure.

Which should you choose?

Verizon if you don't care about persistent connections and aren't traveling through Kentucky or West Virginia.

AT&T if persistent connections are required or your traveling through some dead states.

Or heck, you could do both, and use whatever is best at the time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Visions of a possible Future for Mobile Phones

I had some interesting thoughts about where mobile phones could go in the far future, and I wanted to write them down. Here they are.

Phones will lose their holes one by one, preferring at first multi-function holes and then proceeding to prefer surface contact receptacles for transmitting power and wireless communications for transmitting data.

Phones will get progressively lighter and thinner.
In fact, they will get so light and thin, that they will transition into a sort of paper, but it won't stop there. They will then become just like a handkerchief, a small piece of cloth with a very interesting property when you run a current through it. It will become hard, flat and light up with a touchable screen. Dropping the device or breaking the screen will turn it into a handkerchief again and result in no damage to the device. Take the cloth out of your pocket, touch it in a corner to turn it on, use it and then stuff it in your pocket to turn it off.

Monday, September 20, 2010

HTML5 Killer Feature?

Sockets, and why? You can implement a javascript based P2P (bit-torrent?) client.

Of course, there is that pesky problem of writing files to disk... Luckily there are signed scripts.

P2P is everywhere these days, in many many things. The ability to do these things directly in the browser without having to rely on a separate executable should make things much simpler, and better too!

I'm not talking about illegal downloads either. ;) I wouldn't be surprised if in 5 years every download, for every-thing, was a P2P download with a HTTP-seeder. It would save many web-hosts tons of bandwidth and dollars. It just makes sense from their perspective. The only nail in the coffin would be the lack of net neutrality... darn.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Surviving 32-bit

32-bit 2GB limitations has reared its ugly limitation head on me more often recently than I would like.

2GB limitations sounds all nice and dandy for a console, but on the PC you have double copies of all your data in both RAM and VRAM. It sucks. Granted VRAM is windowed, but that single extra copy can eat up a lot of space. High end video cards have 1.5GB of VRAM in it for example. If you had a double copy of all that data in RAM, then you should have less than 512mb for your game. That being said I'm using up nowhere near 1.5GB of VRAM, but the thought that in a couple years that I could is troubling.

So naturally, the first angle I attacked is don't let D3D manage the resources in video/main memory. IE, do it manually yourself and store the copies on disk, not in RAM. That worked out great, except in the cases where you actually can't do that cause you need the RAM copies around. Which unfortunately is more often than I would like. In that case you can sometimes compress the data while its not in immediate use. (Its also worth noting that if you go the route of manual resource management you may need to pay attention to LRU resources and flush them to disk if a VRAM allocation fails.)

One thing that did help though was that on Win7/Vista 64-bit you can enable /LARGEADDRESSAWARE and are then able to use the entire 4GB of address space. Which is awesome. Except that some parts of D3D9 are not really made to work with that very well. One of the problems arises with D3DXHANDLE. Negative numbers are handles, and positive numbers are pointers to strings. This just doesn't work with >2GB address space. You can hack around it by detecting when the D3DXHANDLE is actually a string and not a handle and then copying that string to a store of addresses which are under 2GB. So far this has worked out. However, the looming threat that external libraries might do these tricks in other places is a bit scary.

Its disturbing that they are selling Win 7/Vista 32-bit copies. Are they crazy? Get rid of 32-bit! don't keep it around! This was obviously not an engineering decision and had much more to do with business. Somewhere there is an engineer at Microsoft who told them it was a bad idea. I feel your pain. This is really going to cause problems in a couple years for everybody. Having to support a 2GB address space is hell if your memory constrained, and in a few years we will all be memory constrained when making PC games.

Something else to keep an eye on:
Its typical to use default parameters when using CreateThread, however this is bad when you have lots of threads. A game usually has a stack size of multiple megabytes these days. Each CreateThread called with default parameters will have an address space reservation of the same size as the executable's main thread. It adds up.

Friday, July 30, 2010

So fun, its better than Starcraft 2

Step 1) Find a web-cam video of a celebrity on youtube.com
Step 2) Download the video with Keep Vid
Step 3) Convert the video to MPG with Pazera
Step 4) Use Virtual Dub to cut out a looping section of the video
Step 5) Download Many Cam and set it up with that video you made. (It will make a virtual web-camera with that video looping in it)
Step 6) Head over to Chat Roulette and point it to your many cam.
Step 7) Watch the hilarity of people's reactions. Priceless

Most people figure out pretty quick that its fake. Like when the video doesn't react to them and especially if the loop isn't perfect. Still lots of fun while your waiting for SC2 to install.... and it does take a looooong time to install.

PS. I'm still looking for a good Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris video. Comment with your favorite source videos. A good example one is Jessica Alba.

Other probably funny ones:
Woody from Toy Story 3
Gatekeeper? No clue, but its funny
Jonas Brothers

Monday, July 26, 2010

DXT compression aware UV unwrapping

When compressing DXT textures you usually compress the whole texture at a time. The goal in recent research areas (http://www.sjbrown.co.uk/squish/ for example) has been how to choose the end-points of the color line. There is a limit to this research area and some configurations of colors will still produce bad results, even using brute force methods to search the entire problem space.

There are some cases however where texture compression quality can be improved even further (which typically appear on sharp color discontinuities for example).

What if you had more data than just the input image?
Such as in the case of a UV unwrapped model. You can also input/output the triangle mesh that goes along with it. This will allow you to move pieces of the texture around to get better texture compression quality.

For example, a UV unwrapped model on the texture is built up of "islands" of triangle meshes. These islands are disconnected from each other and can move around freely.

As such, we can adjust the location of the islands in the texture, moving them 1 to 3 pixels to the right and 1 to 3 pixels down to see if the texture compression for those blocks improved.

Because they can move freely, we can also re-order and re-orient them in order to take better advantage of color coherency between island borders, as well as to line up the sharp color discontinuities with DXT block borders.

Its also technically possible to warp the islands's meshes themselves to line up the texture problem areas better with the DXT blocks.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What would you use gigabit internet for?

I just got upgraded to a new 50Mbps Docsis 3 internet connection. Its just awesome....

This brought up an old question for me. With google building a gigabit fiber to the home internet connection, what would you or could you saturate that bandwidth with? As in what applications could possibly use it all up with nothing to spare?

1) Cloud/cluster computing
This one's a bit obvious I think. Computing clusters require massive bandwidth with very fast response times.
2) Direct Brain Communication
Having nano machines communicate with all the cells in the brain would require some pretty hefty bandwidth. This sounds crazy and probably is, but you never know I suppose what crazy things the future might hold around the corner.
Blogspot = blogging
Twitter = micro blogging
? = nano blogging (via direct brain communication?)
3) ?

Any ideas on what could saturate a gigabit internet connection?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Additional info for +1% dropped calls with the iPhone 4

One of the big key points Jobs hit home again and again, was that its about 1 more phone call dropped per hundred. So how is it that this is such a big issue that people are experiencing if its clearly not a big issue.

Quite possibly lefties.

People who are left handed and making phone calls with the iPhone 4 will have greater signal loss than people who are right handed.

7% to 10% of the population is left handed.

If 7-10% of those dropped calls are from lefties, and that 1% additional dropped calls is from those lefties, then 1 out of 7 to 1 out of 10 of every left handed iPhone 4 user has experienced the problem.

They would also experience it more regularly. Which is why its such a big issue.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Long-term view of Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox

What makes Apple and Nintendo so special? Why do they both consider each other competition? Its because they control everything on their mobile consoles. They control the hardware, the software, and the display. This control of the display allows them to innovate much faster than any other console system. The hand-held market will quickly outpace and become the de-facto standard in gaming, simply because they will be two or three steps ahead of the rest of the console market. It also takes less time to develop hardware when every device is uniform. You don't have to support multiple resolutions, different refresh rates, and so on. You have one thing to support. Developing the hardware and software becomes much simpler, which further improves the rate of innovation. Nintendo and Apple will always have the best displays with the latest technology. They will leave everybody in the dust.

or will they?

Microsoft is likely going to have a hard time keeping up, however Sony on the other hand might have an advantage. Sony also makes TVs. Sony can control the whole package, the display, hardware, software and so on. They do have the disadvantage of the PS4 having to support other displays and the displays themselves must be backwards compatible with old input streams, but the advantage of being able to ship an entire package TV + PS4 is provocative. If they can meet their goals of being the biggest TV supplier, they may also be able to take the world by storm with the PS4. I think you will see the PS4 being bundled with TVs, built-in. Not right away keep in mind, maybe a year or two after launch.

Microsoft would likely respond by making deals with other manufacturers of TVs, however they will be far behind the curve having to coordinate between two different companies. Sony's advantage is to be able to put out new technology TVs faster than their competitors and pair them with interactive software made for that technology. A similar advantage to Apple and Nintendo.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Owning an iPad makes you a minor celebrity.

Seriously. You bring it around with you and girls hit on you, random people walk up all the time and say "Is that an iPad? wow!"

Apple 1up

I bought more Apple stock.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Incremental Google Search


Wow... Google should adopt this!

The future of the Database?

Meet FluidDB

This kind of open database is very interesting for use with HTML 5 apps.

I get the feeling that HTML5 apps really are going to be very real applications which are public in an important sense. The traditional architecture of having a web server with a back-end database, where there are dynamic scripts which generate web-content seems very old and stale when you look at what HTML5 is capable of.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Re-thinking the Stop Sign

There was a funny you-tube video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wac3aGn5twc

With a good complementary article: http://www.slate.com/id/2254863/?from=rss

Does the stop sign need re-designing? Its certainly interesting how many people ignore them, I certainly do most of the time as well. I slow down, but rarely come to a complete stop.

The article mentions many great ideas such as a Yield-Stop, or the Take-Turns sign, etc

However, the article largely assumes that the future evolution of the Stop Sign will be unchanging lifeless signs. I think that looking at Stop Lights is a show of what is to come, and it is dynamic intelligent signs. Signs that change based on the traffic around it. These signs could be placed automatically via augmented reality projected on the windshield. They are yield signs when nobody is around, and switch to stop signs when the situation calls for it.

Certainly the augmented reality solution sounds like a good one as it doesn't require continuous power consumption when nobody is near, especially in rural areas. It can save on a lot of energy that would normally be wasted or used somewhere else anyway.

Perhaps this is a good practical use of augmented reality.

Another interesting implication of intelligent traffic signs with augmented reality. Is that the rules of traffic can change much more rapidly than they do right now. The traffic shaping can be tweaked on an hour by hour basis. Adding stop signs, stop lights, controlling the flow of traffic to reduce congestion in ways that are just completely new and different than today. For example, the signs can change based on algorithms which include the behavior of individual drivers as a whole.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Legend of the Seeker Canceled!


I could do a star wars reference here, but that would just be tacky.

First Firefly, and now Legend of the Seeker.... Why oh why Mr TV do you tease me with good shows then rudely take them away.



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Interesting Idea for the next iPhone or Android

Imagine a device where every side of it is a seamless touch screen. The front, the back, and the sides. There literally is no wrong way to use the device. You can hold it any way you want. In fact, the way you hold it defines its function. Hold it like a camera, and its a camera. Hold it like a phone, and its a phone. Hold it like a game pad, and its a game pad. Hold it like a ... You get the picture. Its the ultimate universal device. Its everything you want it to be. Talk about endless possibilities. Its just an incredibly powerful idea.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stephen Hawking on Time Travel

Stephen Hawking on Time Travel

Stephen Hawking describes that it is impossible to travel into the past using a very persuasive feedback-effect phenomenon.

In the end, I think a wormhole like this one can't exist. And the reason for that is feedback. If you've ever been to a rock gig, you'll probably recognise this screeching noise. It's feedback. What causes it is simple. Sound enters the microphone. It's transmitted along the wires, made louder by the amplifier, and comes out at the speakers. But if too much of the sound from the speakers goes back into the mic it goes around and around in a loop getting louder each time. If no one stops it, feedback can destroy the sound system.

The same thing will happen with a wormhole, only with radiation instead of sound. As soon as the wormhole expands, natural radiation will enter it, and end up in a loop. The feedback will become so strong it destroys the wormhole. So although tiny wormholes do exist, and it may be possible to inflate one some day, it won't last long enough to be of use as a time machine. That's the real reason no one could come back in time to my party.

I have no idea what I'm talking about but, it should be possible to travel back in time, somewhere else. Somewhere very far away, as long as the wormhole only existed for a short amount of time. This is because the radiation, which travels at the speed of light, would never reach the beginning of the wormhole in time before it closed, therefore eliminating the feedback phenomenon possibility.

So.... If this is true (which I'm sure its not for some reason which is painfully obvious to a physicist). That means that you could go back in time somewhere else, and then go back in time again, but this time back here at Earth. Of course you'd be way far in the past. Then all you'd need to do is go forward in time from that point on to get to the present, or any point in the past.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Internet Nostalgia

I still am unsure how this became as popular as it was at the time.

For the interested readers who have no idea what this is, but are too curious for there own good:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Inside Steve Jobs. His High Level Principals

I feel that this article needs writing. I've known it for a long while, but I think its important to point out what I feel that he thinks. Steve's actions do indeed follow rules and principals. Understanding of this may predict his overall actions.

Steve thinks that many people must be ruled in order to thrive.

Steve thinks that those people wish to have a leader who will cut the taller plants so the sun will reach them.

Steve thinks that no plant should be allowed to grow taller than the shortest, and in that way give light to all.

Steve thinks that people would rather be provided a guiding light, regardless of the fuel, than light a candle themselves.

Steve thinks people need an enemy to feel a sense of purpose.

Steve thinks its easy to lead people who have a sense of purpose.

Steve thinks that the sense of purpose is more important than the truth.

Many of these principals are correct in some sense, although I hold no judgement to the morality of them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Apple bans the use of Scripting languages in iTouch, iPhone and iPad apps.

"Applications may only use Documented APIs in the manner prescribed by Apple and must not use or call any private APIs. Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++, or JavaScript as executed by the iPhone OS WebKit engine, and only code written in C, C++, and Objective-C may compile and directly link against the Documented APIs (e.g., Applications that link to Documented APIs through an intermediary translation or compatibility layer or tool are prohibited)."

While the intended target for this was Adobe, I think this also means that they may have unintentionally banned scripting languages.

lol... I mean seriously now. Banning scripting languages?

Does this mean that Unity is in violation? That cuts out a very large market I would think considering how great and prolific Unity is.

What does Apple have against Adobe anyway? Did they egg Steve Job's house or something? This is a little ridiculous.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Simple JPEG Encoder/Decoder

Its hard to find simple, single C/C++ file jpeg encoders/decoders with no dependancies on external libraries.

So far thats the best I've found as far as simplicity.

I put this one together based on a javascript encoder. Its not optimized, but its functional and in a single file. Enjoy! :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

iPad and obvious flaws... the next iMac

One of the oldest tricks in the political book, is to put an obvious flaw into something so you can then control the conversation.

Perhaps (and I do stress perhaps) the next generation iMac, will be an iPad with Mac OSX on it and the internal guts of a MacBook Air. This way he can have tons of haters and free press about the iPad and its lack of user freedom and control. This is the kind of press money simply can't buy. Imagine an entire internet up in arms about the denying of iPad apps, raging madness from some about the closedness of the platform, only to then turn around and say a year from now... "we listened and here is the new iMac". Everybody in elation goes out and buys an iMac in much greater numbers than if he did it the straight forward way as more people than ever were aware.

Jobs isn't stupid. He knows that tablets, laptops, and portability at large is the future of personal computing. By limiting Apple to a closed solution like the iPad, he is simply waiting for some good competitor (google?) to come along and blast them out of the water. (and they will eventually, it is only a matter of time). He won't let that happen, so I think he will provide both closed and open solutions. The only question is when?


Of course, the opposite argument is that a closed solution that you control entirely is what all capitalists salivate over. In general, control like this equals money. If he can pull this off, and do it while keeping everybody happy, then Apple will be absolute. de facto. save a few small-time competitors which take up the other 15% of the market. I don't really like this however.

I would like to hope that a computer revolution birthed in openness and freedom will stay free and open.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


I love portable electronics, but I hate batteries with a passion. My iPhone, I end up having to charge every 3 days or so, and for the last day and a half I'm always thinking, "I don't want to use the phone because I don't want to lose my battery if I really need to call somebody". Has there really been significant progress in batteries over the last 10 years? Seems like the best people can do is be more power efficient and use larger batteries. Its 2010... I'm supposed to have jetpacks by now, but I'll settle for a battery that lasts 2 weeks. I only hope that carbon nano-tubes will save me from my battery hell.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Has Steve Jobs lost his Mojo?

Maybe its just me but, the iPad doesn't really look very interesting. The hardware looks very interesting, but the software has come up very short. They really should have put mac-osx on it, but in their ultimate greed to control things for their own personal gain, they may have killed a beautiful product. Perhaps they went too far on the greed spectrum that it blinded them of what consumers really want. Consumers expect that a computer of that size to have more freedom. Freedom in applications, freedom in choosing to browse the web with flash, freedom to run many programs at once, freedom to run a development environment if they so choose. (I'm a bit biased with the latter obviously).

Of course, one of the most interesting things is to pay attention to the marketing campaign that they are doing for the iPad. The marketing is stronger and uses more intentionally subconscious cues than the iPhone or any other previous Apple product I can remember. I think this is very telling. They know that the iPad isn't very good, and they are scared.

Friday, January 29, 2010

JPEG Format Alpha Channel

I occasionally wonder why JPEG doesn't support an alpha channel. Its really quite a drag sometimes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Malpractice Insurance and Health Care Costs

The right wingers tend to say that the rising health care costs are directly related to malpractice insurance. I think that would make sense if the costs of health care aren't increasing dramatically every year. Just this year our private policy went up 30%. Thats crazy, but I don't think that malpractice insurance is the whole picture. If it was, then that means that doctors are screwing up more often every year or that they are screwing up more severely every year. Both points are unlikely to deviate too much from the standard. So what that means is that more people are getting sicker every year.

Old people aside, I think though that the likely case is the following (from my own experience with doctors, hospitals and potentially life threatening illnesses), is that there is a negative feedback loop in effect. Doctors do not take the safest routes first, far from it they always go straight to the big guns before trying out safer procedures. For example, they will opt for a CAT scan over a MRI almost every time, however a CAT scan gives out huge doses of radiation and is very dangerous as it can cause cancer and such. MRIs on the other hand are entirely safe. So, in effect, I think that this, in combination with improper long-term testing of drugs, is the cause of our health woes. Improper long term testing of drugs causes problems which in turn they use drugs of which those effects cause problems later on which when those take affect etc..... The chances of avoiding any serious illness this month is good, but over your entire lifetime is bad. Therefore everybody will eventually enter the cycle of poorly thought out medication policies and poorly tested long term effects of drugs entering the medical system.

The other possibility which I think is a contributing factor, is that we are treating more illnesses which are just minor inconveniences now than we did before. AKA People don't like being uncomfortable. This still falls under the "there are more sick people" umbrella. Perhaps its a combination of the two which are the cause of our current predicament.

If I didn't miss anything (and I likely missed something), who is to blame for this?

I blame capitalism. But before you go and tweet about this, lets think about this for a second together. For one, I am not against capitalism. Some companies should definitely be for-profit and some should be not-for-profit companies. Any company which deals with the health of the general public should be non-profit. Their sole concern should be the safety of their products and the usefulness of their products. Quite frankly a for-profit drug company encourages this negative feedback effect as it makes them more money. A for-profit drug company for example doesn't really care about curing diseases as there is far more money in just cleaning up the negative affects and forcefully addicting the people on their drugs. Just like any other greedy optimization algorithm, if you let one measurement metric go wild (profit in this case) then it will go crazy and optimize that, however that does not always produce the best results over the long term.

Opinions? Please comment, I'd like to hear it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

CES 2010 -- 3D TVs

Any 3D TV which requires glasses is doomed to ultimate failure. Sure, lots of TVs will have it, but ultimately people aren't going to want to sit down on the couch with these glasses on for everything. Movies, perhaps, but everything, no. For example my wife cooking in the kitchen while having 3D glasses on so she can watch her favorite shows while she cooks. uhm, no. I don't think this is going to take off like people want it to. That is, until the TV allows 3D without glasses. Only then will it really hit mainstream.

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Perhaps Controversial View on Video Game Piracy

I personally look at piracy like this. Piracy is the will of the future imposing itself on the present. The game is changing, companies need to change with it. If they do not, they will be swept up in the wave of change and likely die. The change is this, people want things differently than they did before.

Some developing trends...
#1, they want easy, instant access to video games and at a reasonable price.
#2, they want free to play games where perhaps part of the content (which does not restrict play, only enhance it) as the paid part.

When more and more people play the free-to-play games and their quality subsequently improves, games that charge an admission fee will have to increasingly justify that, and likely they will fail over the long term. Its hard to beat free. Google if nothing else has proved that.