LOST on Earth's mirror matter moon#

Without a doubt, the most interesting, vetted, and comprehensive theory of LOST I've ever read. If you're into the show at all, you really owe it to yourself to give this interpretation a chance, even if it turns out to be completely wrong. Yes, it's going to sound crazy, especially from jump, but be sure to see it all the way through -- it's worth it.


MGTwitterEngine is an Objective-C class which lets you integrate Twitter support into your Cocoa application, by making use of the Twitter API. The entire API is covered, and appropriate data is returned as simple native Cocoa objects (NSArrays, NSDictionarys, NSStrings, NSDates and so on), for very easy integration into your own application.

Making memories#

A new strain of genetically engineered mice has allowed researchers to pinpoint, for the first time, the precise cellular connections that form as a memory is created. By tracing a protein tagged to glow fluorescent green as it migrates through individual neurons, from the cell body out through the branching dendrites, the researchers could see exactly which synapses -- connections to other neurons -- were involved when the mice learned to fear an electric shock.

Duty calls

February 21, 2008

I've been following the insanely great xkcd webcomic for as long as I can remember, and this, Wednesday's effort, is a perfect example of its usual poignance. My girlfriend's reaction to it: "It's totally you."

Duty calls

Mysteries of 2000-year-old computer are solved#

Detailed imaging of the mechanism suggests it dates back to 150-100 BC and had 37 gear wheels enabling it to follow the movements of the moon and the sun through the zodiac, predict eclipses and even recreate the irregular orbit of the moon.

Absolutely incredible.

Twitbin + NoScript

February 18, 2008

I recently commented on the MacBook Air's battery life, and mentioned in a footnote that the NoScript Firefox extension breaks Twitbin; I attempted a few workarounds (including whitelisting "localhost" and "file://"), but couldn't circumvent the blockage.

Shortly after posting the article, Brian Breslin, a Twitbin developer, contacted me and offered to help solve the problem. I quickly told him what I had tried, and soon after he gave me a very simple solution: whitelist http://twitbin.com/beta/.

Works like a charm.

Christopher Hitchens and rabbi Shmuley Boteach debate the existence of god#

To call it a debate is kind of laughable and does a disservice to both parties -- to Hitchens because he utterly owns it, and to Boteach because the misnomer perpetuates and reinforces his false belief that it was actually a debate.

Sure, Hitchens is an intellectual giant and there are very few people in this world who could actually go toe-to-toe with him, especially on this topic, but seriously, Boteach just comes across as desparate. Indeed, he closes his first rebuttal with this brilliant insight: "All you need to do to prove the existence of god and how intelligent the design of our universe is, is to see how smart Christopher Hitchens is." Ugh.

Head-tracking for desktop VR displays using the Wii remote#

Using the infrared camera in the Wii remote and a head mounted sensor bar (two IR LEDs), you can accurately track the location of your head and render view dependent images on the screen. This effectively transforms your display into a portal to a virtual environment. The display properly reacts to head and body movement as if it were a real window creating a realistic illusion of depth and space.


So you're going to write an iPhone app#

As we're all waiting with bated breath for the release of the iPhone SDK later this month, now would be a good time to pass along some of things I learned while working on MobileTwitterrific. Read this now and you'll save yourself some headaches when diving into the SDK.

Is the tipping point toast?#

"If society is ready to embrace a trend, almost anyone can start one--and if it isn't, then almost no one can," Watts concludes. To succeed with a new product, it's less a matter of finding the perfect hipster to infect and more a matter of gauging the public's mood. Sure, there'll always be a first mover in a trend. But since she generally stumbles into that role by chance, she is, in Watts's terminology, an "accidental Influential."


Mind you, Watts does agree that some people are more instrumental than others. He simply doesn't think it's possible to will a trend into existence by recruiting highly social people. The network effects in society, he argues, are too complex--too weird and unpredictable--to work that way. If it were just a matter of tipping the crucial first adopters, why can't most companies do it reliably?

MacBook Air battery life

February 07, 2008

Given all the hoopla surrounding the MacBook Air's battery life, I thought I'd throw my two anecdotal cents into the ether.

Jacqui Cheng's review was published the day before my Air was to arrive, and I was understandably unnerved by her description of the Air's battery life:

I'll cut to the chase here: the MacBook Air's battery life sucks. A lot. I found it to be a pretty big disappointment, holding it to my admittedly-high standards. I ran down the battery from full charge four times and came out with an average of two hours and 33 minutes.

She was, on average, getting half of the five hours claimed by Apple.

I took delivery of the Air on Monday and have run the battery down many times since, but never in under four hours.

So why is my battery lasting ~40% longer than Jacqui's? Well, one thing that the reviews seem to routinely gloss over is that the MacBook Air will likely be your second or even third machine (as I previously pointed out), and as such, you'll likely use it for mostly 'lightweight' tasks. AnandTech gets this right:

By now you've heard that under "normal" usage, the Air can only manage about 2.5 hours of battery life. That's true and at the same time it isn't. I touch on part of this in the review, but the MacBook Air isn't designed to be your work notebook - no ultra portable is. It's a notebook for a writer, for someone taking notes in class; it's a second notebook, or a third system. As such, the typical usage model can be very different than your standard notebook.

It will come as no surprise then that Anand's results were very much in line with my own: "...4 hours and 16 minutes doing what I consider to be the intended usage model of the Air is respectable. It's not great, but it's not terrible either." Indeed. Now, am I saying that Jacqui's results are flawed? Of course not -- those are the numbers she got doing what she typically does on that machine. I'm simply pointing out that the battery life is more than decent for my use case.

With regard to the specifics of my setup and usage over the last few days, I have the 1.8GHz/HDD model, kept the screen brightness at less than 50%, disabled Bluetooth, disabled Dashboard, disabled Spotlight, and always had myriad applications running. I didn't do anything too processor-intensive with it (and never expected to; see the footnote in my initial Air article) and was really obsessive about killing errant processes that were stealing too much CPU time.

Predictably, the application used most was an optimized-for-Intel build of Firefox, which, as ever, never had less than 50 open tabs. I should note that JavaScript was disabled by default1 (I obviously allow it on some sites, e.g., Gmail, Google Reader, etc.), and that Flash was blocked, unless needed.

Other programs that were always open and which saw extensive use, included MarsEdit, Path Finder, Microsoft Word (for work), TextMate, iTerm, iStat menus, Quicksilver, TextExpander, and OmniFocus.

  1. I use the NoScript Firefox extension, which has the unfortunate side effect of disabling Twitbin, one of my favorite extensions. I'm still trying to hack my around this, but if you've a solution, I'd love to hear about it.  

Yahoo! today reminds Gruber of Apple a decade ago#

In a broad sense, Yahoo reminds me a lot of Apple a decade ago. Good products, a large base of dedicated but restless users (many of them outright fans), and a staff full of talented engineers and product designers, but lousy, visionless, ineffective management. What Yahoo needs is a Steve Jobs -- someone who will ruthlessly focus the company on products that are better, more popular, and more profitable.

Russell Beattie on application development#

Users will give the benefit of the doubt to just about anything that looks nicely designed. That is to say, you can have a product that does everything including shining your shoes, but if it looks like crap, users won't ever be happy with it - and any flaws they do find will be magnified substantially.


[H]aving a real designer add their magic is key, because in short, a good design makes the user like or even love an application before they've even used it.

One computer to rule them all#

IBM has launched an ambitious initiative, called Project Kittyhawk, aimed at building "a global-scale shared computer capable of hosting the entire Internet as an application." Forget Thomas Watson's apocryphal remark that the world may need only five computers. Maybe it needs just one.


TuneRanger connects all your iTunes-running computers together over any network. Music, video, and playlists can then be synchronized, copied or merged with the click of a button. Buy a song on one computer, add an album cover or star rating, and all changes are updated everywhere.

iStat menus#

Without question, the best system monitor available for the Mac OS X menubar.