December 12, 2007

Iron Chef Fairfield

Took Miranda to a Breakfast with Santa event put on by the Parks and Rec Dept. last weekend. The middle school choir was singing carols, and I took Miranda up front to watch them sing.

As we got up to go back to our table, I turned around and who did I see? Iron Chef Bobby Flay.

I was pretty sure he didn't live in town, so I guess he was visiting a friend and they both came to the event to see the friend's daughter sing in the choir.

Somehow, I pictured a star chef spending winter weekend mornings whipping up a gourmet breakfast spread as celebrities dropped by his house to drink mulled cider in front of a roaring fire while awaiting a sumptuous brunch.

But I guess they just trudge to a local middle school to watch youngsters sing, like the rest of us.

August 08, 2007

Serialism and Tots

Lileks continues to hit the funny bone:

most attempts to turn your baby into a SuperGenius via instructional tapes or early exposure to Schoenberg (teaches them how to count to 12, at least) or in-utero projections of high renaissance art are folly, and reflect the insecurities of narcissitic [sic] parents who think that showing a kid Van Gogh when they’re six months old will help them get into Harvard.

Tee hee.

And just for context, Lileks manages to go through the following topics in the subsequent two paragraphs:
  1. Baby Einstein
  2. Serialism
  3. Sesame Street
  4. 9/11
And it all makes sense.

June 21, 2007

Back to the Future, today

Another tidbit from James Lileks today.

Maybe it was something I realized last weekend, when posting that Back to the Future YouTube link - the movie, which I still think is a perfect little thing, was made in 1985. Marty was sent back to 1955. If they made the movie today, he’d go back to 1977.

Think about that. 1977 would look like today, minus computers. Same clothes, same Pink Floyd tunes on the classic rock station, same smear of gimcrack commercial architecture interspersed with stalwarts from the 20s. Color TV, Star Wars, angry Iran. Marty could order a Pepsi Free in 1977, and they’d think it was a sugarless brand they hadn’t gotten yet.

BTTF was an iconic movie for me growing up in the 80s, and its timeline transposition from 1985 to 1955 placed me inside a world I knew nothing about. Thinking that the same transposition today would make me 8 years old is a bit of a shock.

May 15, 2007

Lileks Does Disney World

I'd never heard of James Lileks before, but was referred to this Minnesotan journalist/blogger's first entry on his series about visiting Disney World with his family.

Who hasn't been to Disney World? Who couldn't relate to this? Lileks has a nice, sardonic writing style, but this sequence convinced me to add James Lileks to me blog list:

"The breakfast? The best hotel breakfast ever. They don’t take your order. There’s no point in taking your order, because they know what you want so they might as well bring it. You get a big plate of eggs, bacon, potatoes and sausages, plus tiny Belgian waffles shaped like you-know-who. This is what it means to be an American: pouring syrup on Mickey’s head and eating him. It’s secular communion. And it’s delicious!"

Good stuff.

April 26, 2007

New Specialized Servers from IBM and Sun

A short article in the New York Times technology section caught my eye today. The title in the Times is "Sun and I.B.M. to Offer New Class of High-End Servers," and I thought it would describe some new, run-of-the-mill server offerings from the tech giants that offered grid capability, more processing cores, hot-swappable blade configurations, etc. You know, the standard server enhancements that have come down the pike the past few years.

But IBM and Sun are both offering something much different. Something that I think could be signaling a shift in high-end server design.

For a couple of decades, high-end servers were typically massively-parallel affairs built with cheap commodity-level items. They were designed to be flexible enough to tackle most problems that required large amounts of raw computational power. These new machines are built with specific applications and purposes in mind.

Sun's machine -- called the Sun Fire X4950 Streaming Switch -- is designed to be an ultra-fast video server, capable of streaming out millions of discrete video streams simultaneously. It's target audience is cable and telcos, who would presumably insert these machines into their digital video broadcast infrastructure to enable personalized advertising and on-demand content.

It signals the advent of the new, digital video era, and could change the landscape of broadcast TV and advertising. Imagine that instead of buying ad time during, say, "Lost" to be shown to everyone, advertisers could choose instead to show their ads only to those people watching "Lost" who had also watched "Heroes" and "24." While another advertiser could air their ad in the same slot, but only to those watching "Lost" who had also watched "Desperate Housewives" and "American Idol."

More interesting, I think, is IBM's new server. IBM has integrated their mainframe technology with their Cell processor, to create something called a "gameframe." The design is optimized to be able to support hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users in an online virtual world, such as Second Life or WoW, with "an unparalleled level of realism to visual interactions.

This is an implicit acknowledgement from one of the pioneering computing companies that virtual worlds are here and are here to stay. And rather than just being an entertainment medium, I believe IBM envisions such virtual worlds as the next step in collaboration and interactive communication, moving towards where Instant Messaging is today.