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

I presented Sparse Voxel Octrees at Siggraph 2008.

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.