Tilted Sideways, a Colander of Death

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The tragedy in Italy comes so soon after our cruise vacation that I felt compelled to comment. We were passengers aboard the Ruby Princess over Christmas. It is in many respects a sister ship to the unfortunate Costa Concordia, built by the same ship builder with similar tonnage and sibling like launch dates (2006 and 2008). The thing that struck me about our voyage was this: it was very clear that the ship was well run. The ship’s commander was Commodore Giuseppe Romano, whom we briefly met. The whole ship ran with obvious discipline with the first order of business on leaving Ft. Lauderdale being an evacuation drill where we understood the series of events in the event of a disaster before the first shrimp cocktail was served. During the cruise, there were several crew based drills, and I could appreciate the importance of top down leadership.

This is further contrasted by the events last week in Italy, which will be studied extensively, not just in a court of law, but in business schools as a case study of poor leadership. Bad decisions and bad discipline compounded by the elements made this the perfect example of why we have rules and expectations about professionals and their behavior. It also is a sobering reminder of how far we’ve strayed from chivalric ideals of women and children first. In a classroom, the idea of chivalry can be seen as revanchist, antiquarian, vestigial, and oppressive, but in the scrum of a mob climbing towards a lifeboat, the reports of grown men cutting in line, stripping life jackets from pregnant women, and abandoning the disabled all headed by this captain illustrates something.

It’s the death of honor.

Egg in a Basket -from V is for Vendetta movie

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Inspired by the egg dish in V is for Vendetta, it was called eggy in a basket. The circular toast that comes out of the center is fun for eating yourself or for toddlers. Want to know from my UK friends if this actually exists as a breakfast dish.

Apple’s Impact on CES

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It seems CES is all about reacting to Apple -Ultrabooks that are indistinguishable from MacBook Airs, smartphones that try to beat iPhone on features, cloud services that plagiarize Steve Jobs presentation slides, TV’s you talk to that try to preempt a Siri hosted Apple TV. The best stuff is when they try to be themselves, like Windows Mobile which is not very Microsoft in that it is stylish and easy to use, again like Apple.

When irony is so obvious, it no longer is ironic. It’s just sad. It’s just a bunch of small fish in a small pond. A tall hobbit contest.

The HTC Flyer -Review (a Kindle Fire alternative) -updated with Honeycomb!

Jan 24- okay Hulu works but Netflix does not (but I did get update last night so don’t judge yet). The annoying thing is I have shortcuts to three apps -medscape, epocrates, and dolphin browser, whose icons revert to a generic android app icon. This is a small but really annoying bug affecting just those apps.

Battery life seems better, but not hard numbers. Amazon runs fine for video over Flash but the tablet gets hot. Will try the updated Netflix app and will report.

ADDENDUM 1-4-2012 -

HTC has sent an over the air update of the Flyer to full Android 3.2 Honeycomb. Visually it’s great and appears to be working without a hitch. The only complaint that I have so far is that Hulu is broken (as of 1-18-2012 -Hulu now works fine but netflix still does not), and Netflix app runs with significant asynchrony between the sound and video. I haven’t had a chance to try Netflix via Flash, but other Flash runs well.

Will update as I use it more, but the great thing is that HTC actually supports their device beyond sale! That is a surprise for me.

Addendum 1-5-2012 -

I will be frank -I was dubious of any great improvement with Honeycomb, but I like it. It is Honeycomb 3.2, which is far more evolved and stable than Honeycomb 3.0 or 3.1 pushed by Motorola when they prematurely released the Xoom to disaster during the holidays of 2010. It is as stable as the Gingerbread 2.3 was (and will be when you buy the Flyer). I keep hearing differing reports about the appeal of Ice Cream Sandwich, and I can assure you, 4.0 and 4.1 will be the beta for 4.2 which will be about late 2012 or early 2013. For most people, that means buying phones that occasionally (or frequently) crash and waiting for the small chance that their manufacturer will update it. Don’t hold your breath if you purchase Motorola. I don’t have any experience with Samsung, but the business model just does not support upgrading the operating system for phones and tablets that have already sold because the manufacturers have no skin in the App Market game. The only exceptions are Amazon and Apple. Google will eventually realize with increased pressure from Windows and the churn out from Android to iOS that it really has to go to a OS support model where they dictate upgrades. The other option, which HTC appears to have opened their phones up to, is the official yet unsupported and warranty killing jailbreak. Rooting your phone or tablet will give you access to the great open source community – I enjoy the XDA developers forums because I like hacking old hardware.

That is the final point -in this era, THERE IS NO OLD HARDWARE, only unsupported software. Every manufacturer aside from Apple has no incentive to upgrade their software because they don’t own it. Apple will to make sure the Apps sell and their devices keep their intrinsic value.

I just upgraded a Compaq Presario V2000 with the latest Ubuntu and with another 2GB RAM, it runs Chrome FAST. This is a 6 year old laptop! If you stuck with HP’s software, you would be stuck at Windows XP SP2 with no upgrade path as they have abandoned support of their 64bit Athlon processored laptops. While I understand why they do it, it breaks my heart to think about all the computers that end up in landfills just because the software is no longer supported.

HTC Flyer with Honeycomb is a tasty treat. It hasn’t crashed yet in over 2 days of continuous use. I am disappointed with the lack of Hulu, and the curious asynchrony of video and sound with Netflix is annoying, but it is trumped by the new tablet level utility of Honeycomb. The functional notifications scheme is worth it alone to upgrade -you can now cancel out notifications rather than launch every facebook update and app update to clear the notice out.

Addendum 1-8-2012

I created this doodle with Sketch by Autodesk using the stylus. The stylus works throughout the tablet and not just in the context of a screen capture or Evernote entry. This is a big deal because I’ve always hated the meat stylus associated with the iPad for painting. This is very very cool.

Original Post from Summer, 2011

After leaving my iPad 2 in the hospital for the 3rd time -and tracking it down and having it returned -there are great benefits to living and working in Iowa, I decided to look into the 7 inch tablets. Apple famously does not make or plan to make a 7 inch tablet. That is unfortunate because for physicians, the 7 inch tablet is the perfect balance between screen size -big enough to show patients and families pictures, and portability. The 7 inch tablet fits the doctor’s white coat pocket.

I purchased mine, a 16gB Wifi unit, from Best Buy -$499, along with the pen accessory -$80. The inclusion of a pen accessory is a decidedly retro move, but the way it is implemented, at once brilliant and half baked -more on this later. The Flyer is a little more tall than the iPad 2 is wide. The screen, made of Gorilla glass, is bright and easy to view from multiple angles. It comes in a white box, beautifully packaged inside with white wires -a USB cable and a dedicated charger. Although it uses a proprietary dongle, it will take a micro USB connector, and I recharged it on my Kindle’s USB cable last night. The Flyer is a 7inch homage to the iPad and Apple’s design. It is iPad like in every way. It is sturdy and thin. Battery life is outstanding -there are reports of 12 hours. I went all day on the device and it still had half a charge. The decision to go with a fast single processor was wise, as adding a dual core chip would have resulted in larger battery needs.

It runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread -the phone OS, and not 3.1 Honeycomb -the tablet OS, and that suits me fine. I was tortured by Android 2.1 on the Verizon Droid 2 until iPhone on Verizon came out. The combination of middling hardware and deployment of what was basically a beta level OS made the Droid 2 torture to use. That said, Flyer runs Android 2.3.3 which is much more evolved than Honeycomb -the Tablet OS. Running on a fast single processor, the Flyer really does fly, and is stable. Much more stable than Honeycomb, based on my perusal of the tablet display at Best Buy (a showcase of how NOT to sell stuff) where I got the Galaxy tab to stall on a Flash page, the Xoom to freeze by swiping too fast, and never got the HP’s tablet to get out of its sales screen. In 4 straight days of heavy use, Flyer has yet to crash, freeze, stutter or otherwise misbehave. I will know more after a month, because the Droid 2 had the problem of gumming up its works unless you actively cleaned up the junk every few days (including hard resets every few weeks).

The OS is stock, enhanced by HTC’s Sense UI. Of all the manufacturer add ons, HTC’s Sense works the best in my experience. Motorola’s support people suggested I turn off their custom interface (called Motoblur) to make their device work! HTC’s widgets and apps work well and are beautiful to look at. While the phone based software does cause small text, in the readers -the Kindle app, the Google Books app, and others, the text is nicely resizable. Flash support is there. I am Flash agnostic, but it is convenient for running sites that are Flash heavy like ESPN and Golf Channel. Flash does appear to slow down the web pages, and reportedly will shorten battery life.

It works well with my workflow -my scheduling and email are done through an Exchange server and everything just works. Citrix runs well and the hospital side software including the labs and PACS shows up fine. Our EMR should work, but I have had trouble getting it to work. Notably, my MobileMe email won’t sent email, and I downloaded the open source K-9 email client and now it runs fine. Amazon app store runs great. I am hopeful that Amazon will release its Kindle media software in conjunction with its own tablet, allow the full Amazon experience on all Android hardware. Most of my iPad apps have their Android equivalent. Notably missing are Hulu and Netflix players, but Amazon should make up for it.

This is a great device, and will stay in my pocket for a while.

7-28-2011
This device is glued to me. While I love my iPad, its nonpocketability relegated it to my bag along with the stethoscope and macbook air -coincidentally all three now get used about once a day. It really hasn’t frozen or crashed, and goes all day without hitting empty. If I were Apple, I would rethink the idea of a 7 inch tablet.

And speaking of sasquatch and unicorns, I would pay full price for a keyboarded iPhone.

July 31, 2011
Just got this faux leather cover from an Amazon hosted merchant. It copies the iPad 2 cover in having the tri-fold cover that acts as a stand, and a magnetic clasp. It has a two tone theme that makes it look like one of those leather Piel Frama cases. The case also copies the iPad 1 case in that the Flyer sits in a pocket with a leather flap that tucks in around it. There are cutouts for all the camera and controls and speakers.

Using this, it really is a perfect portal to Evernote. It also is a great reader, and is a portent of how the color Kindle tablet will look. The screen is near retina scale with beautifully saturated colors.

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August 21, 2011
Just had a thought. Amazon will release its tablet into this 7 inch tablet space and not directly confront Apple, all the while updating its Kindle App to include media -music and video and make it universally available. It fills in all the gaps that Apple left in its current offerings. How awesome would that be.

Also, after a month of use, I find Flyer to be stable and quick. This was a pleasant surprise because my first experience with Android was with the Motorola Droid 2 which was a textbook case of why Android would not win. Flyer is the textbook case of why Android could win over iOS. It marries the OS to the hardware perfectly like a well blended wine. The 12 hours plus of battery life could only be achieved by avoiding dual core processing, but speed was maintained by over clocking an already speedy single core processor. By using Gingerbread (2.3.3), it accesses many more apps than by going with Honeycomb (3.1). Gingerbread is more evolved than Honeycomb, and it shows in the stability of Flyer compared to my Droid 2 which ran 2.1. While Droid 2 got slower with use, Flyer has maintained its speed without the need for task k

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illers which I consider to be an egregious hack that highlights the flaws of the underlying software. I added a 10x 32gigabyte miniSD card for loading movies that I burned from DVD -a luxury, but definitely not a need as the device was working fine.

The cloud combined with fast network access trumps the need for large storage capacity. Rhapsody, which I have used for a while, and Pandora, fulfills any music needs.

But I’m waiting for Amazon!

August 31, 2011

I have gone more than a month and have not had to hard reset this device. This is amazing because I went through two Droid 2′s -replacing and hard resets as recommended by Motorola support failed to correct the increasing instability of that device that occurred with continued internet access and use of contacts and scheduling -basic functions! Writing a person’s contact into the outgoing address field instantly brings up a list winnowed from my contacts list of over 2000 people. Only iOS and Palm devices did this consistently well in my experience. My friends who own other non-HTC smartphones relay similar difficulties -I think this has to do with Android 2.1. I have to comment on this fact: that carriers and maybe some manufacturers seem to avoid updates of their smartphone OS’s simply for the desire on their part to have customers buy new devices rather than update. I even see this with my iPhone where Verizon mysteriously does not have iOS 4.3.x for its iPhone which would allow cloud access of prior purchased iTunes tracks among other upgrades. Android’s problems have less to do with bad programming than to do with Google’s ability to herd cats.

Flyer next to its analog ancestor

Mission Critical -this is a term I use personally to describe the need for a device to function perfectly. While no gadget can reach this standard, medical devices, space satellites, and Mars Rovers have a need for their operating systems to be bulletproof. Psion’s EPOC OS, was in my mind, written with mission criticality. On my 1998 Psion Series 5, I could have over ten open programs without a freeze or a crash. The monitors in the ICU all boot up and run without fail -mission critical. Flyer is beginning to edge into that space of mission critical in my mind -I have yet to perform any administering to memory, any supplication to the support desk, nor any return to factory settings after a month of nearly daily use in my hands. Mission Critical!

Update: 11-11-2011
I felt the need to make a comment about Flyer not that Kindle Fire is out. If I didn’t have the Flyer, I would probably get the Fire, but now that I have it, I am very pleased overall. It gets Hulu and Netflix streams via apps, and Amazon Prime Videos are available via Flash on the Browser. I recently picked up a leftover WebOS tablet bluetooth keyboard which is basically a black, plastic, nearly flawless copy of the Apple Wireless keyboard for the clearance price of $22, and pairing with the Fire, it behaves admirably as a a text input device.

That is the other thing -Evernote access is built into the DNA of the Fire. When you scribble a note on the note app, it goes to the Evernote servers, and I think get processed so they can be searched. I know pictures of text that I take certainly become searchable on Evernote. This means that Flyer is a reasonable stand-in for the spiral bound notebook.

The Kindle app works great on the Flyer. While I prefer to read on the physical Kindle e-reader which is easier on my eyes, in a pinch, the Flyer is a fine e-Reader. Zinio, on which I have a MacUser and Field and Stream subscriptions works well on Flyer (as it does on my iPad2).

The current price of Flyer is 299 at Best Buy, which annoys me because I paid the early adopter price. I think it is worth thinking about the $100 price differential when considering Fire versus Flyer. I personally like the flexibility of being outside Amazon’s cage and the killer app for this device is the Evernote capabilities. The average potential consumer of Amazon based media will be fine with Fire, but the more computer savvy will be looking to root Fire and open up the Android capabilities. I’m perfectly happy with my Flyer.

HTC recently sent an OTA (over the air) update of the OS. It’s not Honeycomb, but rather an update of Gingerbread which again works perfectly fine for a 7 inch tablet. I hear that the dual core tablets running Honeycomb are susceptible to lag -there is absolutely no lag on this machine and I only rarely get a reboot due to an instability in Sense -at the rate of once every two to three weeks. I used to reboot my Motorola Droid2 every day!

BTW, I typed this whole update with the keyboard on the WordPress app.

Jon Huntsman Denounces Nasty, Jingoistic Video Allegedly Made By Ron Paul Supporters (VIDEO)


If Huntsman were running in the Democratic primaries, he’d give the President a run for the money. If Huntsman and Bloomberg ran a third party campaign, they could win it because moderates of both parties make a plurality. Coalition government­s exist throughout the world in multiparty environmen­ts. The internet and its effect on traditiona­l media prove that there are no mass market demographi­cs to market to. What works in Portlandia does not under Friday Night Lights. The two parties are like the three national television networks. Everyone is feeling disenfranc­hised, and the extremely committed end up with a greater voice and disproport­ionate impact because they show up to vote.

This type of video in another setting, let’s say an Engadget article about iPhone users being pompous, overly self-aware baristas, would be just troll bait. Yes there are people who think like this, but they can and are free to do so. The point of this video is to create a reaction, and it seems a bit too cute to be authentic. People who think like this usually aren’t so organized. I don’t believe its authentici­ty.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Iowa, Nice

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This video has gone viral and is a reaction to all the negative coverage about Iowa. I have always said that Iowa plays a critical role as America’s great filter. I believe this because Iowa has the highest percentage of educated and reasonable people in the US. In fact, it is Iowa’s number one export.

When I was in New York and we had to have any kind of group interaction, the ability of the group to function predicated on a minimal number of stable, reasonable people. The reasonable persons index is basically the number of reasonable people divided by all the people in the group. A midtown modification of this is all the reasonable people and their entourage divided by the people in the room and their intended audience, but I digress.

The minimal index for a group to function in my experience is 0.20, meaning one in five of any group has to be a reasonable individual. The average New York City subway car has an index of 0.05. The average city council meeting, 0.15. The average fully loaded cab headed to three different stops on a rainy day, 0.00, my apartment, 0.50. What I noticed in various committee meetings that was part of my job back in New York was that the reasonable people were either Jamaican or from the Midwest, and of those from the Midwest, the least insane were from Iowa.

When I moved to Iowa, for obvious reasons, I realized the impact of the high reasonability index when I visited the motor vehicle department for my Iowa Driver’s license. It was packed, and there was a sign asking me to please take a number and wait for it to be called. My wife was pushing my son, then a toddler, in a stroller, and was immediately offered a seat by several reasonable Iowans, including some who needed the chair far more than my wife. As we sat, the numbers were called and the people moved up to the desk with a beautiful dignity –none of the expected sighing, looking up to the sky, and loudly complaining into the cell phone that would have been expected behavior back in New York. When our turn came, the clerk noticed I hadn’t filled out a section properly and patiently waited while I filled out the missing parts. My wife who is the typical non-patient type A New Yorker was smiling Mona Lisa-like through the whole experience –a surreal, psychedelic ethereal moment of serendipity.

The average Iowa is college educated and well read. I have a patient who is a farmer. He holds a dual masters in agricultural sciences and business. While he sits in his air-conditioned combine feeding the planet, he is trading commodity futures on his Blackberry. We had a nice discussion about the writing program at University of Iowa where his sister, a budding novelist attends. He’s skeptical of climate change, but only so far as he is skeptical of anything on the Huffington Post, but has noticed the wetter summers and is adjusting his farming accordingly. He has an investment strategy based on climate projections and economic growth data –in a name Brazil, and he has prospered. He has never visited Manhattan and sees no need to, being very comfortable in his maxed out Ford F-150 which has all the appointments of the coziest leather chair in a quiet corner of an exclusive midtown club. He doesn’t see what the fuss is about gay marriage, but is very upset about our wars abroad. He wishes the Republicans would field a more reasonable candidate, basically an Iowan like him, and is on the fence.

When candidates crash and burn on the Iowa Caucus stage, it’s usually because the Iowan reasonableness burns through the spin. Howard Dean, fun guy, would have been a terrible president and scared Iowans to death with his primal scream. And people focus on the GOP caucus which is the one place where the reasonability index falls below 0.50. You should look at the people Iowa rejected and understand what is going on. Howard Dean, John Edwards, Hilary Clinton (narrowly), Gingrich, Bachmann, Paul, Perry, Mitt Romney ‘08 and I would argue ‘12. The more I listen to Governor Huckabee, who won in ‘08, the more I respect him for his reasonableness on many issues, even though I disagree with him on some very important ones –and that is why he won in Iowa.

The caucuses are Iowa’s Exposition of American Democracy. If you show up, you vote physically by moving around the room and gathering (caucusing) for your favorite candidate. That candidate may even show up or prior to that, at your favorite lunch counter, bistro, or living room. In the hyperconnected, hypercaffeinated media world, the Iowa Caucuses are a time warp to the 19th century of mustachioed men orating on soap boxes. Given the audience that the candidates face, it is no wonder that the least reasonable just wilt. It wasn’t the internet spawned image of Bachmann fellating a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair that lost her. She lost by failing to convince Iowan’s that she deserves to lead the country. Got that? Not money, though it helps, but on fitness to lead. Isn’t that the whole point?

So as we move our attention to New Hampshire (state reasonability index of 0.02, both of them from Iowa), and South Carolina (-0.35, negative when person so unreasonable that they negate the positive of those around them, like some in-laws), I think we should all celebrate and be grateful for Iowa, America’s pith.

Inside of MacBook Air Looks as Good as the Outside

I ran out of hard drive space on my 2010 MacBook Air, and so I decided to upgrade the SSD. The OtherWorld Computing SSD kit and instructions are very straightforward. Opening th MBA reveals shockingly clean lines that are frankly beautiful and fits with the Jobsian aesthetic of being beautiful in the totality of the device. I felt like I was looking at an alien artifact. The fan which you didn’t realize was there has silent gears and fits in organically. It was like operating, changing out the SSD.

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The Holiday Cruise in 30 Tweets

Thoughts before a holiday cruise.
1. If I don’t pay enough for my tickets will I be Irish dancing day and night in steerage.
2. Will there be a series of unsolved murders and will I have to solve them?
3. As we sail into the Bermuda triangle, will there be wifi?
4. If we land on a lost continent, will dinosaur taste like chicken.
5. Will there be monsters?
6. If I ever have to man an oar, will I be man enough?
7. Would the food charge on the lifeboats include tip.
8. Does the rule women and children first include man-children?
9. Does our fare include tribute for harpies, sirens, and cyclops?
10. What is the dollar to doubloon exchange rate?

 

Thoughts during a cruise

  1. Some non-Titanic cruise movies they should screen at Movies Under the Stars: The 5th Element, Steve Zissou and the Life Aquatic, Battlestar Galactica, but they don’t take requests.
  2. Back is aft, forward is forward, right is starboard, left is port, and the bathroom is the head. Kind of funny that left is port.
  3. Nobody shouts “land-ho!” when land is clearly ho.
  4. Our steward has better manners than any of us.
  5. The tropical paradise of Eleuthera is a dollop of sand in the middle of the ocean –if it wasn’t for the concession stand, I’d say two weeks tops before the party descends into cannibalism and Lord of the Flies worship.
  6. Trying to figure out what is the real reason behind the all you can eat policy.
  7. Sea Law implies that the captain is a benevolent despot and we are his happy children. Surprisingly, I sleep well.
  8. Man Overboard! Don’t yell that.
  9. Vomiting toddlers are treated like infected zombies.
  10. There is no poop deck, just a walking track.

 

 

Thoughts After A Cruise

  1. Grateful that there were no Kraken, Cyclops, or carnivorous Mermaids showing up asking for tips.
  2. No icebergs.
  3. Gastroenteritis outbreak averted by 36 hour quarantine of 2 year old in a 8×10 cell.
  4. Scopalamine patch effective in creating zombie red eye, furry dry mouth, and Cross Bronx traffic jam constipation.
  5. Baristas no longer hassling me over my morning precoffee aphasia.
  6. Income inequality’s logical end point is well illustrated by the juxtaposition of Paradise Island and the slums over the hill from Nassau.
  7. All you can eat does not mean all you can digest.
  8. They gouge you with the Wifi, the drinks, the tips, and the duty free stuff that is not profit free.
  9. Our particular cruise had the ambience of an over the top Bar Mitzvah that would not end.
  10. Ship’s doctor thankfully didn’t want a tip

    The Only Fellow Who Didn't Want a Tip

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