July 2005 Archives

Dilated Pupils - Revisited

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As I type this entry, I'm wearing my special UV goggles. Now that most of my sight has been restored I can tell you that LASIK surgery was successful. Although, I spent more time waiting in the clinic than I would have preferrred, I do not have very many complaints about the experience. It was painless. The only weird aspect of the procedure is the method of which they hold your eyes open.
Obviously, you cannot move nor blink while the laser is burning away the cornea tissue. You can actually smell the burning. Pretty surreal, huh.

Before, going into the surgery suite, I thought running a LASIK clinic would probably be good money. It seems that the only real overhead is leasing the space. They really don't have permanent staff, as they fly in the surgeon and techs.
The resident ophthalmologist and support technicians are the only staff. Everyone else appears to be there on loan based upon the workload. So, I suppose you could minimize your expenses by maintaining a skeleton crew.

Additionally, most LASIK centers do not accept HMO, PPO provider coverage, so their costs are not regulated by health boards. Essentially, they get their cash immediately. The average client is paying $1000.00 for the procedure.
I quickly did the math and realized that they were making nice coin. They probably see 15-30 patients per day.
I dont know of the attrition rate, most likely there will always be people who decide to cancel and opt out of the surgery.

PC Annoyances

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I figured I'd share this one with you, as I do routinely get the random 'help me, my PC is sick phone calls', (btw: None of that time is billable yet).

Experts' Blog

Podcasting - revisited

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What is the allure of podcasting anyway? The first misnomer is that it somehow is inextricably linked to the Ipod. Wrong. For whatever reason, the idea of timeshifting audio content using a mobile device, has been extended to that nearly ubiquitous Apple device. For the record, you don't need an Ipod to podcast. I'll probably never own an Ipod. I can't get with super hype.
Any portable device that plays mp3, .ogg formats will suffice. Heck, my Treo 600 fits the bill quite nicely.

So the article below describes I-Tunes launching its podcasting content service. Call me a nerd snob, but I always get that uneasy feeling when aspects of the blogosphere become public. Stuff just becomes very commercial and creativity takes a backseat. Hell look at the large number of people who call themselves bloggers. You can visit the huge proliferation of 'blogspot' blogs. It's like daytime soaps. Well, that's a rant for another time.

In One Stroke, Podcasting Hits Mainstream - New York Times

Clean Green

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What if Ford decided to create a brand that only manufactured hybrid vehicles? Pretty aggressive concept.
However, it seems unlikely cosidering the prevailing culture within the auto industry. The OEMs design product which they consider to be profitable. At this point neither Ford or GM can afford to gamble on arguably speculative technology.
Nonetheless, considering the skyrocketing fuel costs, it is clear they cannot survive on the SUV market. There are hundreds of them sitting in dealer lots that will never be sold, regardless of the incentive laden packages.

Heck their are some who really don't consider hybrid technology to be innovative.
Actually, I believe that B-Series vehicles have a better chance of success than the pure hybrid play. Well, I suppose the fickle market will dictate the winners and losers. One thing is certain, we can't wait for China to begin dropping their low cost vehicles on our shores before we solve the dilemna.

The Green Machine That Could Be Detroit - New York Times

The Responsibility to Protect

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Last week marked eleven years since the ending of the Rwanda Genocide and end of the 100 day civil war between the Hutsu and Tutsi people. Embarrassingly, I really never knew very much about the conflict and bloodshed b/c I was living in a vacuum called undergraduate school, desparately trying to make the grade to gain my freedom. In fact, my mind was pre-occupied with visions of Million-Man March, OJ Simpson trial, and NY Knicks NBA title run. I don't believe mainstream US media spent very much time covering the attrocities that were underway in the central-African nation. Hence, one of the reasons I don't care for mainstream media. That's another story.

Speech Recognition - Who cares?

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I often wonder if vendors develop products in a vacuum. Voice recognition software has been available to the public for several years. To date, I do not know a single person who uses the software. Conceptually, it is very cool to be able to talk and have your PC/handheld or whatever device and have it understand and execute the construct as appropriate. However, is it practical for the mainstream, joe average or better yet M$ user? I'm not certain that it is. Consider that you must teach the machine to understand your dialect, intonations, inflections, etc. The computer is only as intelligent as the space between the monitor and keyboard.

Granted it would be nice if I could simply speak my SMS into my Treo600, but I could only use that feature for one or two applications. Clearly, I would not want to utter my passwd, to gain access to email or AIM.

I suppose the bigger issue is that vendors like IBM haven't figured out how to offer a compelling value proposition to the consumer. Clearly if there was a huge demand for the product, hordes of vendors proprietary and open source vendors would be running to develop the applications. Yes, I do know that there are niche markets (ie vision impaired and other physically challenged users), but unfortunately, they are not the majority of computer users. So obviously, there are technical solutions available (albeit various levels of success), but demand is moderate at best.

As the author states in the article below, Speech recognition takes a huge amount of clever programming to perform in a capable fashion. Hopefully, there will soon be some compelling value proposition to warrant widespread acceptance.

How Speech Recognition Works And Doesn't Work--ExtremeTech Feature

Piracy by necessity

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Extremely hilarious cartoon which describes how our archaic 'push' broadcast television model forces Bob the millionaire to become a pirate. In the words of Cory Doctorow "Aargh"..

www.eirikso.com » Blog Archive » How Bob the Millionaire became a pirate

What is a diva?

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This phrase seems to be used rather loosely these days. Apparently, all women cannot be divas, although, they might wish to adorn themselves with that moniker. Is a diva a female with great expectations, lots of attitude, and high maintenance? Someone please educate me. Perhaps more specifically, I should ask what a diva is not?
Case in point, I met random female at a gathering some weeks ago. After I had some grub and a few drinks, we had what I would classify, as a generic conversation.

The Anti-Sam's Club

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It appears that Sam's Club really has some competition. In fact, according to the article below, the Costco business model seems to be much more endearing to the Costco employee too. Happy employees are less likely to file lawsuits (ala Walmart), and more likely to provide better service.

While I have never shopped at Costco, I do believe that it does have a window of opportunity to steal business from the evil empire (aka Wal-Mart).

I think Walmart has become more interested in expansion and profit margins and less interested interested in customer satisfaction.

How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart - New York Times

Sistas in Technology

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One of my news correspondents dropped this feel good piece on me last week, but due to numerous distractions, I was not able to share it with you until today.

Some of you may recall that I analyzed the remarks made by Harvard president, regarding the dearth of women in technical fields. While I disagreed with the ideas that were conveyed by the former Harvard president, it is an all too familiar discussion.

So the best method of debunking the myths is with real examples of women who display a fervor for technology.

Robotics is an area of great interest and amazement. In fact, one could argue that serious advancements in robotics and mechatronics, would be of huge benefit to society.

For those of you are not familiar with the Sony AIBO, it is perhaps the most interesting consumer robot on the market. It has the ability to adapt to its environment and learn various behaviors. Essentially, it can become a virtual pet without the mess.

Additionally, it appears that there is a very large AIBO
hacking community.

These very talented young ladies did very well in the US Robo Cup Open and have advanced to the international Robo Cup Competition. Their AIBO entry, is the only one controlled by an all female contingency. I wish them the best of luck. Do ya damn thing.

SpelBots @ Spelman College

Update: It seems that Spelman team is struggling with some technical difficulties as they were defeated by the Dutch AIBO team.

More Hybrid musings

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Ford will be delighted to send the Hybrid Escape to NYC to replace the aging Crown Vic fleet. Regarding comfort., I am not certain what the impact will be on the riders. A ten inch reduction in legroom seems pretty substantial.

With hybrid cabs, Big Apple may be going green

Nerds go Prime Time

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I must admit that I was an avid TechTV viewer, and after the Screen Saver cast was dismantled and the show became more sophomoric and less techie, I tuned out. Not to mention most cable providers did not include it as part of basic cable.

Alas, PBS is going to offer content which is in the same vain of the discontinued 'Great Thinkers' broadcast of TechTV fame. Since the show will be released under the Creative Commons License, I plan to get the legally distributed torrents, and nerd the fsck out ;)

PBS | I, Cringely . NerdTV

Original B-Boy

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Continuing with my NY vibe. I came across this gem from Jamel Shabazz. Damn the pic below brings nuff memories to mind. Although, the Iron Horse, has a different look these days, the pic is no less authentic. I still remember rockin my clearwater Cazals (yeah, I fought for mine too) and shell top adidas with no shoelace. Oh yeah, my permanent creased Lee suit. I could go on for days. Can't forget my British Walkers... Later came the Clarks and Ballys. Circa 1980's street fashions were timeless.


Regarding underground hip-hop, break beats, etc.. Make sure you check out the following sites:

Hip Hop Music

BTW: I also miss 88hiphop.com. They definitely were pioneers for streaming hip-hop culture.

Freemotion: random blog entry: sunday

Let's Get it On

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I'm amped about the upcoming contest against the hated Bosox. My beloved Bombers are only 2.5 games out of first, and have a four-game set at Boston. Considering where we began the season (11-19), to still be in contention is an achievement. I suppose we'll know alot about this team going into the trade deadline 7/31. The Yankees have one of the toughest second-half schedules in all of baseball. Of the 12 teams that the Yankees will face in the second half, nine of those teams are not only above .500, but are within five games of a postseason berth. Additionally, the Yankees’ second-half opponents have a combined winning percentage of .508.
Nonetheless, if we close the gap, and the pitching holds up, we could be buyers instead of sellers.


I'm still very concerned about the much beleagured pitching staff. In particular, Randy Johnson, has not lived up to the hype. The Big Unit was supposed to be the ace of the staff, but has come up very short. He is pitching with such inconsistency, that you cannot rely on him to give the team a lift.
As expected, the offense is very potent and has resurrected itself at the best possible time, particularly Giambi and Matsui.

Update: Yanks grabbed game one (8-6) in an emphatic, heartbreaking fashion. Schilling wasn't worth a six-pence. Our pitching is still very inconsistent. I'll be happy for a split. After the Friday laugher, we're assured at least a split. Hell if the Sunday, starter Al Leiter is inspired by the pinstripes, we could take 3 of 4. Imagine that Sox Nation, to be defeated by patchwork starting rotation. The AL East is truly weak this year.

Here we go again..

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I had heard about this incident last week, but reserved comment until I had read about the particulars. It appears that Howard Beach is again going to be red hot for awhile. Not sure if Sharpton and company will march through the area in solidarity, but it is certain that the streets will be watching this case with great interest.

Does anyone really know if the victim attacked with a baseball was indeed going to burglarize a parked car? Even if he was actually a thief, should local residents become vigilanties and beat down random black folks? What if the victim had a firearm, and sprayed the assailants and unlucky pedestrians? Not a good scenario.

It's Not '86, Residents Say, Seeing a River of Blame That Flows Two Ways - New York Times

System architecting musings

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Well, I have to make up for lost time, I've busy as a Hebrew slave these several days. I have not had very much time to drop jewelz on your melon. Best news would be that Summer classes will be done next week. Couldn't come a day too soon. Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate the mental stimulation, but the program has been zapping all of my energy. In fact, this compressed Summer session really wasn't much fun at all. For instance, we were tasked with designing concept for a human powered dragster, the event is sponsored by Red Bull and others.

No comparison

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I'm not sure if the author is at all knowledgeable about the technology differences between Bittorrent and Kazaa.
Basically, its like comparing apple and oranges. Let me get my cluebat out and get warmed up. First Kazaa is not a protocol, it is merely a piece of software that uses the Fast Track protocol. Fast Track protocol is vulnerable to spoofing of files, due to the fact that the checksum and encryption schemas are quite poor. I'm sure that anyone who has used Kazaa can attest that you it is not uncommon that the content of files could be very different than what is expected. Additionally, the payload of the software is complete with crappy adware/spyware.

In contrast, BitTorrent is a robust filesharing protocol, which was designed to share pieces of large files in a distributed network. It is vastly superior to P2P tool in many respects:

  • Encryption algorithm
  • Checksum scheme
  • Distribution method

I recommend that anyone who wishes to learn more about BitTorrent, check out the protocol developer, Bram Cohen's talk.

Blogcritics.org: Bit Torrent vs. Kazaa

USB MP3 car stereo

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Just what I need to add to my wish list ;)

Boing Boing: USB MP3 car-stereo with SD reader

NYC2012 - tale of bid (Revisited)

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It's official, NYC lost the opporunity to host the 2012 Olympics and probably will not make an attempt to lobby for the 2016 games. London was awarded the 2012 Games, unfortunately, their glee has now changed to sorrow. It's unlikely that the IOC would reverse their decision, in the aftermath of the horror that took place in the London.

London team shocked as blasts rip city

Not sure why NY failed in its attempt to host the 2012 games; however, I still assert that it would have been great for the country and the city. Some people suggest that New Yorkers were rather subdued about the prospects of having the Olympics in their backyard. Others point the finger at the confusion surrounding the failed West Side Stadium.

I suppose that the truth will forever be hidden, but according to Rep. Anthony Weiner, ``We don't need the reassurance from the International Olympic Committee or anyone else that New York is a world-class city,'' said U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democratic mayoral candidate, after London was awarded the games. ``We don't need to put New York on the map. It's already the center of the universe.''

Well perhaps we don't need to be so arrogant, but it would be nice to take a crack at the 2016 games.

New York: Disappointed but not devastated

Forewards - OPE

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Are you down with OPE? Yeah, I know what the hell is he talking about now. Well let me do some explaining. Recently I scolded(albeit lightly) one of my friends regarding her use of 'Other Peoples E-mail'. I suppose one could go back to days when e-mail was a novelty (circa 1994) and people who weren't computer saavy still spent most of their time putting their thoughts on paper and writing letters. So, when non-technical folks, first discovered email, it was a medium for sending out chain letters and other trash that had very little use to anyone. Well fast foreward to the new millenium, and we still have people that would rather send out thoughts of others than their own. Not sure why this is so common. Perhaps its the relative ease at which you can click a button and send out the junk to sprawling mailing list of people. Maybe it's simply due to the fact it is so much easier to _not_ write any of your own thoughts and use that of others. Employing this strategy one could say, "I didn't write it, don't shoot me, shoot the messenger." I have often run into situations where someone was let's say compelled to respond to the entire list of people which originated from OPE.

Sista writers

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I've never been a fan of fictional books, especially those which deal with romance or lack thereof. Actually, I got tricked into reading one such book. I joined a local book club, which was full of women. They decided that everyone should read "In Search of Satisfaction" by J. California Cooper. Surprisingly, I read the entire book, albeit begrudgingly. What a weird book. It was mixture of human tradegy and soap opera. Certainly not my cup of tea at all. I would rather read facts and stats, or something distinctly technical.

So it is no surprise that I have not been particularly enamored with writers like Terri McMillan. I had always thought her material to be myopic and too critical of black men. However, I do applaud her for opening doors for other black female authors. Apparently, there are others who seek to share the their experiences with majority audiences.

Pioneers Are Taking Black Chick Lit Into Middle Age - New York Times

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