Elias presents ... a worm!    Thoughts on family, philosophy,
and technology


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Searchable speech

This is interesting. Google-like searches of online audio files is one of those things that everyone will take for granted in ten years, but today it is novel. Searching for the word "cholesterol" finds it has been spoken in 41 podcasts as of this morning. How long before the bulk of all media on the planet is searchable?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Mr. Talkie-pants

Elias turned 15 (months) today! And he really amazed me on the drive over to have dinner with Grandma. At one point he was sort of talking to himself in his car seat, trying different vowels, so I thought I'd bring a little structure to his mental excercise: I counted "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" showing him that many fingers. Then I started over, giving him a chance to respond to each number separately -- and he did, in fact, say each number right back to me. I had no idea he'd be able to do that.

If that weren't enough, as we waited for dinner, he read a book with these pictures in it: ball, hat, baby, dog, cat, bird, duck, fish, phone. He was able to look at each picture and say each word with NO prompting at all. I'm amazed. So I guess he's got first-level concepts then.

I estimate Elias can understand AND say about 40 words now, including a few attributes ("red" and "green"), and at least one verb, "read" -- which he says in the imperative, of course.

[Update: Actually I don't think Elias understands colors yet. I think he mostly associates "geen" with traffic signals, but he hasn't really abstracted green yet.]

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Child's Play

Most charities don't interest me enough to draw my financial support, as I see ARI doing more good than all other charities combined, since it is the only organization with any hope of fixing the root-of-all-manmade-problems in the world: bad philosophy. There are exceptions, as we nominally support Planned Parenthood and occasionally the Red Cross.

But here's a charity I can get on board with, because if I was a kid stuck in a hospital bed with no hope and no fun in my life, I'd really really really enjoy a PlayStation: Child's Play.


Call it mid-life crisis, but I'm joining the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which I learned about 4 minutes 20 seconds ago. Hasty, I know, but it Just Seems Right.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I admit it, this had me laughing tears.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

More thoughts on the latest web apps

Writely's Jen didn't like my speculating that Writely's days are numbered. Writely does have impressive hype on the web for such a narrow and technically unimpressive service, so they must be doing something right in terms of business and marketing. But there is very low barrier to entry for online document creation/sharing/blogging (the only hard part, technically, would be handling the load), and more compelling packages of such services are sure to be coming from bigger fish. Or have already arrived: 37signals has Writeboard, and it integrates with Backpack. Now what if Google or Yahoo! wiggle their little finger and bring some more competition? If I worked for Writely, I'd be wishing on all my options that Microsoft or Google would provide a nice exit strategy real quick like.

Speaking of 37signals, I've been using for a couple weeks, and it is okay but very bereft of features. I want to be able to create arbitrary hierarchies of tasks and set up email notification schedules unique for each task. I had hopes that, which I learned of today, would satisfy. While being more flexible than (and while providing the same extra-casual writing voice that Google made cool, and is now being overused on every new "Web 2.0" site), still no hierarchies, and notifications are a global setting (haven't these guys ever used Outlook?). Guess I'll have to write my own web app for this -- should be trivial, especially given the expected load of 1 concurrent user!

Speaking of load, Thinkfree Office Online is having serious overload trouble: they were unavailable today for a while, and right now the site says downloads are temporarily suspended due to too much traffic. Come on guys, your applets rock, let them be all they can be and buy more bandwidth! Hopefully they will figure out how to translate this server-straining popularity into a practical business, because I want to keep using them.

Microsoft Resets

With the Windows Live announcement yesterday, Microsoft begins its next great charge-from-behind, this time in the web-page-as-platform arena. In two years, I imagine, it will have a industry lead offering, and dozens of today's "Web 2.0" start-ups (I'm looking right at you will be little more than bullet-points on Valley techie resumes -- except for the ones that have the luck to be bought by Google.

The really interesting thing to see in the next two or three years will be to what extent Microsoft can push Vista-only content (.NET 2.0+ enabled websites), given the fact that Vista will soon be pre-installed on all new PC's with as the default home page. Just when we thought AJAX and OpenOffice and Linux and Mono were going to help us escape our Redmond addiction, I wonder if Microsoft is about to redefine the software market en masse in its favor.

Anyway, since Office Live doesn't seem to be a free replacement for Office (though I can't tell what it actually is), I'll be using Thinkfree Office Online for quite some time.

Not everyone finds this stuff interesting. Here is Elias's reaction to Microsoft's industry-changing announcements: