Archive for the ‘Reading and News’ Category.

Meze Closed

I was over in Kirkland today and discovered that a restaurant I liked — Meze Mediterranean Deli — closed. Here’s some proof of the closing.

Connecting Ocean Noise to Stress

This has been a popular story this week. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, sound in the ocean plummeted, due to the decrease in shipping traffic. Two studies of the North Atlantic right whale happened to be going on at that time, which of course had nothing to do with measuring whale response to lower levels of ocean noise.

One of the studies collected whale fecal samples for five years (using former drug sniffing dogs to lead them to the samples, nonetheless), and the other study collected acoustic data for a couple days before and after the attacks. It was not until 2009 that one of the researchers realized that they had inadvertently collected data showing (1) how much quieter the ocean became after the attacks, and (2) what the whale stress hormone levels were for a five year period including the period after the attacks.

The fecal samples show stress hormone levels in the whales was much lower during the period after the attacks, which corresponds with the drop in sound levels, than at any other time during the five year period. This, of course, is an uncontrolled experiment, so it could just be a coincidence. The researcher does point out, however, these animals weigh fifty tons and are difficult (i.e., impossible) to study under controlled conditions.

It is not necessarily surprising that noise increases whale stress levels, but it is good to have supporting data.

There’s a lot of sources, but here are a couple to get you started:

How to Be Silicon Valley

I was surprised by how many of the “nerd tastes” in How to Be Silicon Valley by Paul Graham sound like my preferences. I had no idea I am so easily classified.

Philips Urban Beehive

A few posts back, I was talking about beekeeping. Shortly afterwards, I saw a couple articles about a Philips urban beehive. Click through one of those links for images.

I kind of wonder about cleaning the thing, but bees are pretty obsessive about hygiene, so maybe there is no issue. Let me know how it goes.

This beehive is part of the company’s Microbial Home design project.

Borrowing E-books on Kindle

It is now possible to check out e-books from some libraries on the Kindle (see Amazon’s Kindle Gets a Library Card). This is not available at all libraries; you can see if your library has this service here (click on “Library Search”).

The King County Library System offers e-book check out for the Kindle.

Beekeeping: My New Hobby?

I enjoyed reading this article: Beekeeping as a Business. It is short and describes a little on how to get started in beekeeping (or rather how to learn more about getting started), about how the hobby can easily turn into a business on the side after a while, and some of the products that come from beehives. Also, I learned that every state has a bee inspector.

So am I about to set up a hive or two of my own? I don’t think the HOA in the condo complex where we rent would be happy with me housing hundreds of bees thirty feet from the community pool. Maybe later. Still, attending “beekeeping school” might be interesting to learn something new.

Netflix Plan Changes

Netflix announced a split of the streaming and by-mail movie subscriptions last week. The announcement led to an uproar of dissatisfaction with the move, and I saw many comments accusing Netflix of greed.

My opinion is that Netflix certainly mishandled the announcement since it gave no explanation for the changes, but many seem to forget that Netflix is dependent on publishers to provide it with streaming content, and these publishers motive, means, and opportunity to negotiate much higher rates when contracts expire (as long as they can see that Netflix has the profit to support the hike).

That view is confirmed in “Netflix’s vanished Sony films are an ominous sign” by analyst Michael Pachter, who estimates that the cost of Netflix’s streaming contracts will increase from $180 in 2010 to almost $2 billion in 2012. The increase in streaming contract costs must play some role in the plan changes.

I also expect that Netflix wants to start weaning customers off of DVDs since the cost of that service is much higher for Netflix than streaming — at least until content providers raise costs beyond some threshold.

Great Comment

This is a report on the funniest internet comment I have seen today.

In the comment section of an article about an indecorous argument between two U.S. Representatives there was a post by an apparent future opponent of one of the elected officials (most ellipses are mine):

Help me defeat …, come to my town hall rally this Saturday July 23rd from 1pm to 4pm at … located at … We need to bring true … values back to congress and in district 20.http://…

Later in the thread was this hilarious response:

Hahaha…campaigning on a newspaper message board? Was Craigslist down or something? You should put up some “guitar lesson” fliers up at the local mall to see if you can attract some more support. Maybe you can sneak in frame behind the local “on location” weather guy with a poster or something. Hahaha…I’m an indie from CO and have no dog in this race, but this style of politicking is pretty rich! Good luck.

Interview with Meteor Hunter Imprisoned in Oman

I just read Meteorite hunter: My two months in an Omani jail. It is an interesting interview about a meteor-hunting trip in Oman that ended in a prison sentence for Michael Farmer. His comment on risk jumped out at me.

Do you regret your last trip there?
No. We have had adventures there that money can’t buy. Those of you who have never taken a risk cannot understand that those of us who gather these stones that fill museums and collections around the world knowingly risk life and limb. Those who are unwilling to take a risk usually gain little.

Distributed Data Processing Platforms

I just started looking at distributed data processing platforms. There is, of course, the Apache Hadoop project, but I have also come across HPCC Systems, a system used by LexusNexus Risk Solutions, and Disco, a system developed by Nokia Research Center.

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