waving android

I am currently a software engineer at Google, where as a member of the Android platform team I build frameworks and user interfaces.

The blog here at is mostly historical; you can find more recent posts on .

Archive for October, 2007

Which Moleskine?

October 23rd, 2007
Dan, posing with the mini-Moleskine and the fatty-Moleskine.

I’ve hit the end of yet another mini-Moleskine (quadrille, natch), and find myself facing a dilemma: Go with the portable-yet-cramped solution I’ve been using for everyday notes for a couple of years now, or try out this new fat one (5×8½″)?

Your personal experiences, suggestions, and (as usual) unbridled mockery are welcome here, or over on the photo page. Your choice.

Update: more hott Moleskine photos inside.

Cold front.

October 22nd, 2007

The temperature in Houston should drop nearly 20° in the next couple of hours:

Through noon…rain with embedded showers and thunderstorms will continue moving eastward across the area as a strong cold front moves on through. Rainfall amounts should generally average around 1/4 inch…with localized totals around 1 inch possible with the stronger and slower moving storms. Expect temperatures to fall into the lower 60s and possible the mid to upper 50s within an hour or two after frontal passage. It will be breezy too…with the strongest winds and wind gusts developing across the coastal counties.

Fig. 1.   Here it comes.

Fig. 2.   Before and after. (20 minutes elapsed.)


October 19th, 2007

Eh? I’m getting heaps of Fark hits for this Questionable fanart, but as the referring forum thread is TotalFark-only, I’ve got no idea why.

Any TotalFarkers out there care to fill me in?

Fig. 1.   Fanbot 9000.

University line update (and much more)

October 18th, 2007

The Metropolitan Transit Authority board voted today on a Richmond-Wheeler route for its controversial University light rail line. But that was almost an anticlimax: It also voted to put light rail — not Bus Rapid Transit — on all five planned lines.

“We now feel we can pass federal muster (to obtain 50 percent funding) by going to light rail on all five lines at once,” board chairman David Wolff said. “We can’t help but believe that people will be thrilled by it.”

Today’s news is equally welcome and surprising. Mas, y mas.

Cultural concurrency.

October 9th, 2007

So, In Rainbows comes out tonight. You might have heard or read about it.

This release will clearly be watched closely by those interested in the moribund business of music and how it just might become evolved instead of exctinct. In this particular experiment, the hypothesis under test is this: can bagel-man economics really work in the mass market? (Indeed, Levitt and Dubner are curious too.) Very, very exciting times.

But that’s not what I want to discuss at the moment. I’d like to proffer the following: This will be the most simultaneously-experienced music release in history.

Assuming their server holds up, millions (seriously, millions) of listeners—comprising diehard fans as well as the merely curious—will be experiencing In Rainbows at the same time. This shared-experience aspect to a major album release is nothing new, and I’ve bought a handful of albums on opening day (or at midnight the night before, in a couple of cases) myself. What makes this different is the scale, along three axes:

  1. Space. This album will be available everywhere, not just at your neighborhood $18-a-hit corner dealer.
  2. Time. No waiting for stores to open in your timezone; the Radioheadspace will be simultaneous around the globe.
  3. Cost. I buy (and therefore get to listen to) about 5% of the music I’m really interested in because I have to budget my luxuries. Even more so for college and high school students, the most ravenous consumers of popular music. They will all be able to afford this album.

I get the impression that, more than anything, bands are looking to connect more directly with their (current and future) fans, and to do so, they are seeking ways to become label-independent. There may or may not be a financial motive; it’s impossible to say whether, absent a middleman, artists will see more or less revenue from album sales, especially if you’re just holding out the donation box. But because the real money is in touring, and only fans go to shows, any investment—even a loss-leader, such as simply giving an album away (e.g., Prince)—in eventual ticket sales is a smart one.

But here I am getting back into economics (a favorite armchair science of many). I think the real reason to open a new socket to listeners—and the reason this cheap-as-free download phenomenon (see also: news from NIN) isn’t just a gimmick or a fad—is that they will start listening again.

All at once, in this case.

Banned again.

October 5th, 2007

Bah. Just posted a comment to this reddit thread about e-voting and noticed that my comment started at +0 instead of +1; on a hunch, I logged out and reloaded the page, and, sure enough, I’m banned from reddit again.

Apparently there’s only one thing that is currently theorized to merit the reddit death penalty, and I swear, I didn’t do it! (I even own a copy of Hackers and Painters…)

Update 10/10: Un-banned. See comments.

Look Ma, no fingers!

October 2nd, 2007

Wired: New Fingerprint Tech Could Mean Never Losing Your Keys Again. Or, put another way: “New Fingerprint Tech Could Mean Never Being Able To Change Your Locks Again.”

Fingerprint recognition came into wide use in forensic investigations in the early 20th century. Ever since, sci-fi writers and scientists have dreamed of using the unique skin contours on our fingertips to tell our machines we really are who we say we are. The problem is that the number of errors has just been too high.

The article breathlessly continues, extolling the new technology, but judders awkwardly to a halt at the privacy discussion. You can almost hear the sneering tone as they describe the tinfoil-hat Butlerian-jihading naysayers:

No story about biometrics is complete without mentioning privacy concerns. As they say in business, if you can measure it, you can manage it. And not everyone wants to be managed, especially if the government or a big corporation has the calipers.

This is a part of the right argument, but presented in the wrong way. It’s not that “not everyone wants to be managed.” I’m not trying to stay off “the grid” or anything—I use credit cards, I like advertising, I have a blog—but an increase in the use of biometrics for authentication still scares the pants off me.

The real problem is always this: how would you revoke that token if it were compromised? Passwords can be changed; door locks can be re-keyed. What about your fingerprints?

(US residents: Think about how damaging it is to have your Social Security number stolen. This is much, much worse.)

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