Sometimes, ancestry matters

I’ve written before, on several occasions, about solving the problem of racism by strict individualism – a studied refusal to allow what we know about genetic population differences and differing means in measures like IQ to distort our judgment of individuals. The bell curve is not the point; the mass is not the individual. Ancestry… Continue reading Sometimes, ancestry matters

Categorized as General

How not to sign NDAs

If you’re any kind of consultant or contract programmer, and you’re an open-source person, one of the persistent minor (and sometimes not-so-minor) irritations of doing business is NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements). Your client will often want you to sign one. About 1% of the time they’re protecting actual business-critical information; the other 99% they’re suffering from… Continue reading How not to sign NDAs

Categorized as General

Double Vision

Yesterday I discovered that Donald Knuth at least occasionally reads my blog. I only half-jokingly reported a vague feeling that I ought to be falling to my knees and crying “I’m not worthy!” In response, a “v. m. smith” popped up in my comments to say this: Dude, you have written at least two books… Continue reading Double Vision


Good causes sometimes have bad consequences. Blacks, women, and other historical out-groups were right to demand equality before the law and the full respect and liberties due to any member of our civilization; but the tactics they used to “raise consciousness” have sometimes veered into the creepy and pathological, borrowing the least sane features of… Continue reading Kafkatrapping

Jobs Crashing to Earth

The stench of desperation must be getting pretty thick on the Infinite Loop. Can it be that the generator for Steve Jobs’s notorious Reality Distortion Field has finally broken down? Two days ago, we learned that Jobs knew of the iPhone 4’s antenna problem before launch. They had warnings both from an in-house antenna engineer… Continue reading Jobs Crashing to Earth

Smartphone, the Eater-of-Gadgets

I’ve been thinking for some time now that the smartphone has achieved a kind of singularity, becoming a black hole that sucks all portable electronics into itself. PDAs – absorbed. Music players – consumed. Handset GPSes – eaten. Travel-alarm clocks, not to mention ordinary watches – subsumed. Calculators – history. E-readers under serious pressure, and… Continue reading Smartphone, the Eater-of-Gadgets

Women in computing: first, get the problem right

Every few months I trip over another earnest attempt to rectify the gender imbalance in software and computing fields. Very few women opt to become programmers, system administrators, or hardware/software engineers. Indeed, the number of women who try seems to be falling rather than rising. This observation is invariably accompanied by a lot of hand-wringing… Continue reading Women in computing: first, get the problem right

The doom of the telecomms carriers

Forward-thinking technologists, including me, have been predicting for some time that adaptive mesh networking would be the doom of the telecomms-carrier and broadband oligopoly. Now comes a scientist from Australia with an idea so diabolically clever that I’m annoyed with myself for not thinking of it sooner: put the mesh networking in smartphones!

Killing the Founder

During the controversy I described in Condemning Censorship, Even of Werewolves one of the parties characterized me as “nuts and in decline.”. This failed to bother me, and not because I’m insulated against such insults by my natural arrogance. OK, I am largely insulated against such insults by my natural arrogance, but that’s not the… Continue reading Killing the Founder

The Model M: A timeless classic

I just found an informative article about the origin, life, and astonishing persistence of my favorite keyboard. Nearly every article on this blog was hammered out on the same Unicomp Model M I’m typing on now. The design is 25 years old and still going strong, a nearly unique longevity in computing devices. I endorse… Continue reading The Model M: A timeless classic

What is truth?

[This may become part of a book.] What is truth? There are complicated ways of explaining “truth” that get all tangled up in questions about reality and perception, but we’re going to use a very simple one: truth is what makes the future less surprising. No matter what you think you are and no matter… Continue reading What is truth?

FroYo, yum yum!

The over-the-air update for Android 2.2, aka FroYo, landed on my Nexus One this morning. The WiFi hotspot feature works perfectly when tested with my ThinkPad X61 running Linux. I am liberated. No more per-diem WiFi charges in hotels. No more cursing as I discover that the airport hotspots are all pay-for-play. Internet on my… Continue reading FroYo, yum yum!

Apple gets egg on its face — single platform = single doom

One of the predictable responses to my recent writings on the smartphone market and the rise of Android has been a deluge of scornful invective by Apple fans confidently predicting that Android’s 1Q2010 surge in unit share represented a bubble that would pop under pressure from Apple’s “superior user experience”. Then came the flap over… Continue reading Apple gets egg on its face — single platform = single doom