Mar 14

Missing airliner, internet of things and the NSA

the unfolding saga about the missing Malaysian airliner feels like a blend of “Survivor” literature, technology magazine and bad spy novel. This is a great illustration of how the internet of things (in this case the jetliner calling “home” from somewhere on the globe) and real life mesh in a messy way. No agency involved has access to all the telemetry involved, most in the silos of national military agency. Big data solutions could help, but with interfaces buried in diplomatic channels, is unlikely to help.

Or is it? Reading other news, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine that the NSA has the capability to link the threads in a programmatic way. But what if it found out critical cues, and couldn’t mention them without disclosing its capabilities (if there are any undisclosed ones left, that is). Take a page from Sherlock Holmes – send the searches the right way in a carefully targeted vague direction…

Dec 09

Merry Christmas

Enough said.


PS> this blog is re-starting. But some of the pictures are missing because I did not archive them properly.

Aug 08

My Swiss chalet treehouse: initial construction

(May 24, 2008). I cleared the lower branches of the single fir tree in the back yard. My neighbor says it was one of his live Christmas trees of many years ago. As backdrop, note the fence – my project of two years ago.


I prepared two 4×4 posts forward of the tree, and P. worked on the two support trusses.


We attached the two trusses to the front and back of the tree, and added some bracing to the front posts.


The next step was the addition of plywood flooring. Note how the posts extend past the floor, which helped to support the walls.


I then added three wall sections and rafters. I placed a tarp and took a break during the June rains.


 IMG_0183 IMG_0191

Feb 08

Google Maps’ modernist take on downtown Seattle

I really like this picture of the Bank of America building, and how Google maps can’t quite decide which way the buildings should lean:


Nov 07

A lock after my own heart

I’ve been a reluctant locker lock user in the past – but this new product, where I can choose my own code, is just what my old brain needed. The wheels are probably easy to destroy, but this is just the right amount of locking for my YMCA.

Master Lock: Residential: School & Campus: Product No. 1534

Aug 07

Weirdest licensing deal award: Disney French Cheese?

Costco is now carrying Disney/Ratatouille branded “Abondance” cheese  – see Mariannes Motifs: Abondance Cheese and Armagnac. The cheese is a fine hard chesse, somewhat reminiscent of Raclette (but stringy when melted, like Emmental). Someone at Disney but be smiling about that deal…

May 07

Apple iTunes Plus still missing international purchases

Apple Launches iTunes Plus

Apple’s iTunes launch of DRM-free purchases has bee rightly heralded as a happy jingle. However, Apple still misses the mark and a golden opportunity with international purchases.

As the holder of a US-based iTunes account, I can visit, but not purchase from, the iTunes store in France. I understand that, with different prices and agreements across the ocean, Apple wants to prevent cross-country arbitrage, but it’s beyond me why I can’t buy a tune from iTunes France when it’s not offered at all in the US.

Apple, give us an “Export” option! Make money in the process.

Mar 07

Target Stores & The Migros School of Retailing

Link to Target : About Target : Our Focus on Design

I must credit my wife for first mentioning this to me: the new Target Stores, and their focus on customer experience, take direct inspiration from the Swiss chain Migros, particularly in the area of store design and product merchandising.

 The telling clue was the recent announcement that Target is carrying Migros’ house- brand chocolate, Frey (in stores only). Once I picked up a large shipment of Frey chocolate, I felt right at home in the newly remodeled Redmond Target store, and starting humming Migros’ jingle. That’s when the revelation hit: Target is collaborating with Migros, and not just in the chocolate aisle.

The most obvious parallel is the color scheme, and it’s relentless application throughout the store: for Target it’s red/white, and for Migros orange/white. But there’s also a very Swiss sense of order and organization, and a consistency in visual merchandising that US stores rarely adopt on that scale (just visit your local department store). The brand selection is another giveaway: Target is carefully mixing mid-scale brand names with upscale house brands.

Next time I’m in Switzerland, I’ll check whether Migros is learning anything from Target. In the meantime, Migros could use some of Target’s advice on Web design…

Nov 06

Cool Swiss Design II: Swatch Irony Nabab “Black Scepter”

My second Swiss Design purchase this summer was the Swatch Irony Nabab “Black Scepter”. Even though this one was probably designed by Swatch in Italy, let’s count it toward Swiss Design coolness: the Nababs are the heaviest Swatches around, and a great fashion value. This one is available in the US, although it is a previous year model.

Nov 06

Cool Swiss Design I: Caran d’Ache Frosty Pen and Pencils

I purchased 10 of these in Switzerland this summer. Caran d’Ache high-end instruments can be found in the US, but their “office product” line seems limited to Switzerland. This are the nicest cheap pens ever – shaped like classical fountain pens, built to survive a Swiss army bootcamp, showing just enough of the traditional Caran d’Ache hexagonal profile.
Update: I found one US vendor who sells these in packs of 10. Christmas stocking stuffers?