Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

My first 24 hours with iPad (and Google)

January 14, 2011

Although I went to the iPad launch in San Francisco, I preferred my morning coffee over actually standing in line.  I did have the sense to buy some Apple shares at $196 as they went down a bit after the announcement ($345 today, in case you are not following ).

But the time has come.Instead of replacing my personal R61 Battery and fan, I decided to buy my spouse an iPad for her birthday (stop laughing, there was a dress involved as well).

The main problems with the R61 were :

  • It is far too heavy (3.5KG with charger) to be mobile
  • It has too many options (e.g File System,Control Panel) if you only want to surf the net (“Isn’t Google == Internet”)
  • Wireless\3G Connectivity is annoying and complex on XP
  • Strange Hard Drive problems that require System restore every so often

I’m trying the iPad for couple of days now, here are few early impressions:

  • It is not easy to create\edit content. For example in I can not see the text for some reason (had to go back to my x61 to write this blog)
  • Battery life seems great. I don’t have to charge it every minute like my iPhone
  • Not sure if the Apps are really needed here. The screen is big enough that websites SHOULD work like on a normal PC
  • I could not upload a document to Google docs. iPad has no “open file system”  and Google removed the option to upload by email. This is the sort of annoying “closed garden” effect we are starting to see. Grrrrr
  • No Picasa app for iPhone or iPad. Similar problem to the above.
  • The sync from my Itunes->iPhone to iPad was very impressive. I got all my data in sync nicely. I did ran our of disk space on my PC because Apple creates a second “optimized’ copy of every photo, but it was not so hard to solve.
Wordpress Problem on iPad

Wordpress Problem on iPad

  • The iPhone’s apps don’t move so well into iPad (they are small with lousy resolution) but in some cases it’s good enough with 2X size.
  • It does not burn my lap like the thinkpad. Cool and tender.
  • When things go wrong it is hard to understand why. I was not able to play youtube movies because of a router problem, but the error messages were quite cryptic.
  • I love the photos and movies color and details
  • Why does Google show the mobile version for iPad ? It’s much more limited.
  • Not sure on how to close tabs in Safari. I’m sure there is an easier way than the one I’m using 🙂
  • For some reason the @ sign is not part of the virtual keyboard default when filling out forms. iPhone is better here.
  • GPS is very cool. I assume there is no Compass 😦
  • Rhapsody is working.It basically means I can hear every song ever recorded, if it is not in Hebrew.
  • Hebrew support is impressive

Bill Clinton and Leadership

January 5, 2011

I’m reading Bill Clinton’s biography with a lot of interest

(450 pages done,500 to go. Can probably do it on my flights home).

Despite his many personal “challenges” he is able to get across a very impressive leadership style, that combines ultra competitiveness with humility and compassion. And I  guess we willing to forgive amazing leaders even when their personal life is not up to standards.

Moreover, he openly admits his mistakes and is able to learn from them.

This is much needed in Hi-Tech as much as government.

In his first term as Arkansas Governor he raised taxes on new cars, which caused him to lose his second term.

As he was touring in a third attempt he met a person in the country side:

Bill: Did you vote for me the last time ?

P: No. Because of the stupid taxes.

Bill: will you vote for me this time ?

P: Yes . Because of the stupid taxes.

Bill: As much as  I hate losing another voter, you understand it does not make any sense.

P: It makes perfect sense. You are a smart person. You’re the only person I’m 100% sure would not raise these taxes ever again.

Missing a verb for my Uma Thurman email

September 16, 2010

Whenever I get an email introduction ( “Ophir – Uma is a famous actor and a good friend. Uma – Ophir is an old army buddy and yoga student. I think you’ll have lots in common. You are both natural blonds.”), I have a problem with the wording of follow-up email.

Consider these options:

“Uma – it is nice to meet you” (but we never met)

“Uma – it is nice to e-meet you” (e-prefix is so 1990’s )

“Uma – it is nice to meet you via email” (awkward)

“Uma – it is nice to virtually meet you” (again, quite awkward)

It seems like a new verb is needed. Does anyone have any ideas?

Maybe emeet ?or mailmeet? or vmeet? imeet? I really need help here (or if you have good ideas on memory leaks in unmanaged IronPython 64bit code:) ).

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=Thurman&iid=9527601″ src=”″ width=”500″ height=”750″ /]

Potpourri – Apple,Antitrust,Greece and Dog Food

April 14, 2010

Team by team reporters baffled, trump, tethered
crop. Look at that low plane! Fine then. Uh oh, overflow, population,common group, but it’ll do. Save yourself, serve yourself. World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed. Tell me with the rapture and the reverent in the right – right.

1. How come Apple does not get more Antitrust suits?

2. I love the iPad. Tried it in the Store. Much faster than iPhone. I will buy one when 3G is out.

Well,  if the Israeli ministry of communication will allow it 🙂

3. How come Listerine costs 3.85 times in Israel than in San Francisco?

It’s $6 (17.28 NIS)  for 1.25 Liter in Walgreen and 50 NIS for 0.75 Liter in Israel

4. The new version of Google Docs , finally seems useful. Next One should be a killer.

5. Did you notice that Firefox knows your exact location in the world ?

It using WiFi and IP’s to triangulate your browser and can show it to any web site.

No more privacy.

6. Did you notice voice recognition is finally here ?

YouTube has now released the ability to view closed captions on any video, even if they did not upload a transcript. This software is based on Google’s speech recognition technologies.

7. Rhapsody in iPhone rocks. 8 Million songs for $15 a month , always available.

The new version finally works. On Wifi. In the States.

8.  Most American restaurants burn their Hamburgers to death. Probably to match the coffee. Even at 3000 Sand Hill road.

But Harry‘s gets it right. Even the sliders are Juicy. AKA as bloody.

9. Being sick and Jet-Lagged is a horrible combo.

10. USAIR’s food is even worst than Continental’s. For $1500 one gets free dog food.

11. Microsoft is trying to push Azure very hard.

12. Greece went bankrupt.

The Best Tool for Creating GUI Mockups

February 10, 2010

Digressions, objections, delight in mockery, carefree mistrust are signs of health; everything unconditional belongs in pathology.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

I just found (Thanks Uri) the greatest tool for UI Mocuups – Balsamiq Mockups. If you are a product manager, a UI developer or a techie marketing person, I highly recommend it.

The traditional ways of creating Mockups are quite annoying.

  • Visio is expensive and is not really suitable for this task, although It is a wonderful tool in other cases.
  • MsPaint requires some artistic sense, and using the fill brush to erase screen bits feels so 80’s 🙂 .
  • Coding is time-consuming and not relevant to many product managers.

The things I like about Balsamiq Mockups :

  • It works ! I created Seven mockups screens in 5 hours for a complex feature
  • It feels “Just Right” . It does not try to create a real application, but it comes with many components to make life easy
  • The UI looks great, but it is intentionally “sketchy” to avoid Graphic Design distractions
  • The developers seem nice and “get it”. I even got an evaluation copy as a blogger.
  • Fair price – just $79
  • It’s really cute. For example this is how the comments look like, within the mockup.
Comment in Balsamiq

Comment in Balsamiq

Some minor issues:

  • The properties pane behavior is quite bizarre, it keeps popping up in the wrong place and fading away. Should be dockable.
  • Sometimes the Flash application feels a bit sluggish.
  • The regular evaluation is very limited, and does not allow one to save their work.

I’m looking forward for the SaaS version that would allow easier team work and revision control. A grouphub and TRAC plugin would be cool as well.It would also be amazing to generate “applications” from the Mocks.

To summarize

try it out , it is well worth your $79 and would put a smile on your face.

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now; your gambols, your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? Quite chap-fallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come.

William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”, Act 5 scene 1

Lady Ga-Ga or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Facebook

January 30, 2010

The western world ended quite suddenly.

The news, and pictures, about Lady Ga-Ga actually being a man, were first reported by Steve Jobs as he presented Apple’s new iPlot gadget at a secret location.

127 journalists immediately tweeted the story , and it was soon re-tweeted by 13,068 followers.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=lady+ga+ga&iid=6140998″ src=”1/7/b/5/Lady_GaGa_performs_c55e.JPG?adImageId=9661170&imageId=6140998″ width=”500″ height=”612″ /]

The tweets were automatically converted 1675,042  LinkedIn notification which turned into automatic 300,000 WordPress Updates.

Than Google picked the news up and sent alerts to 1,020,068 Lady Ga-Ga followers and 1,002,900,3 day traders.

However, the big problem started as the new automatic “Google Alert” to “FaceBook comments” mechanism kicked in.

Since Facebook comments are automatically generting Tweeter alerts ,a vicious positive feedback cycle was created.


Soon, 95% of the computing power of the western world was targeted at breaking the (false) news to the same people again and again.

When New York  lost its electric power, due to the high consumption by data center. Google decided to cancel Google wave and create a super algorithm to solve the problem.

They took five of their Nobel prize winners, who have been working on JavaScript optimizations, and asked them to solve the problem.

Google Geniuses quickly realized the problem is similar to solving the “ipartite graphs with no induced cycle of length > 6”  problem, but just when they were ready to solve it, the network on their Android t-Mobile crashed. The only person to hear about Amazon’s EC2 explosion  was President Obama, with his secure Blackberry.

As San Francisco,Tel Aviv, Rome and London lost all electric power the mob started rioting the food supplies. Unfortunately they starved after two days because all of the food was organic.

Luckily , China was saved, as Google decided to block them, or vice versa.

Bar Refaeli, DNA Sequencing and Cloud Computing

December 7, 2009

Much like Bar Refaeli and Leonardo DiCaprio, DNA Sequencing and cloud computing go hand in hand together.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=Bar+Refaeli&iid=3965233″ src=”5/e/7/5/PicImg_Sports_Illustrated_Swimsuit_a842.jpg?adImageId=8071751&imageId=3965233″ width=”390″ height=”594″ /]

I had a  very  interesting conversation with a friend yesterday about DNA Sequencing and cloud computing.

My friend is leading one of the largest cancer genome research projects in the world (and  yes, he is extremely  bright).

It appears that there is a great progress in DNA sequencing technology, based on chemical process. The pace is much faster than Moore’s law. As a result the budgets are shifting from the chemistry side to the computational side.

In the past, the budget would be 90% for biology and 10% for analyzing the data coming our of the DNA.

As the sequencing costs have fallen by orders of magnitude there is more and more data ( a single patient genome data is one TeraByte).

The more data , the more computing power needed to analyze it and hence the budget split becomes 50-50.

Each computation can take up to 24 hours, running on 100 cores mini grid.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=DNA&iid=7062711″ src=”c/a/5/d/SCIGENOME_737a.JPG?adImageId=8071402&imageId=7062711″ width=”500″ height=”332″ /]

In theory, such tasks are great for cloud computing IAAS (Infra Structure as a Service) platforms or even PAAS (Platform as a service) solutions with Map-Redux capabilities.This EC2 Bioinformatics post provide interesting examples.

In practice there are three main challenges

  1. Since Cancer research facilities need this server power everyday, it is cheaper for them to build the solutions internally.
  1. To make things even more challenging, the highest cost in most clouds is the bandwidth in and out of the cloud. It would cost $150 to store one patient data on Amazon S3, but $170-$100 to transfer it into S3.
  1. Even if the cost gap can  be mitigated, there can be regulatory problems with privacy of patients data.After all its one person entire DNA we speak about. Encryption would probably be too expensive, but spiting and randomizing the data can probably solve this hurdle.

So, where do clouds make most sense for this kind of biological research ?

One use case is the testing of new improved  algorithm. Then, the researchers want to run the algorithm on all the existing data, not just the new one.

They need to compare the results  of the new algorithm with the old algorithms on same data set.They also need to finish the paper on time for the submission deadline :).

In such scenarios there is a huge burst of computation,needed on static data, at a very short period of time.Moreover,  if the data can be stored on shared cloud, and used by researchers form across the world, than data transport would not be so expensive in the overall calculation.

These ideas are fascinating and hopefully would drive new solutions, cures and treatments for cancer.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=genome&iid=96824″ src=”0093/03895531-6d57-46bd-a1ad-def577b31174.jpg?adImageId=8078279&imageId=96824″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

Fire Resistant Laptop?

November 28, 2009

While I don’t like Thinkpads as much as I did, they still have the great advantage of being very tough.

An anonymous PHD was actually typing for two hours next to the heater, and the laptop screen was protecting her from the direct heat. Than she told me “something smells funny”.  To my horror the screen back cover was melted and burnt plastic was flowing around. Amazingly, it still works perfectly, if you ignore some disfiguration. There most be a lesson here.  The following Pictures are Rated PG-13.

Innocent Heater

Innocent Heater

Heater and Laptop on Fire

Heater and Laptop on Fire

R60 Damage After Heater

R60 Damage After Heater

R60 Laptop After Heater Session

R60 Laptop After Heater Session

Easy Is Hard, Simple Is Harder

November 28, 2009

It is easy to mistake a programming task to be simple. This is especially true in user interface.

The executive is looking at the “trivial” two fields login screen and innocently estimates it to be a two hours job.

This is a common mistake, similar to some extent to The Three Body Problem in physics. Taking a simple, solvable problem and changing one parameter can result in an exceptionally complex problem. While the two-body problem is integrable and its solutions completely understood, solutions of the three-body problem may be of an arbitrary complexity and are very far from being completely understood. See a nice graphic example.

Login screens are not that complex, but take a look at the next example and see how many open questions\bugs can you come up with ?

Simple Login

Simple Login

  1. Is it “Log-in” “Login” or “Log in”?
  2. Is it clear that email is equivalent to user name?
  3. Do you need a “Cancel” button?
  4. Should there be a visible mark for the mandatory fields? Which mark?
  5. Seems like a “Forgot My Password” link and screen are missing.
  6. Is a Captcha needed to fight bots?
  7. Simple Login Form

    Simple Login Form

  8. Is validation done on the client side or the server-side ?
  9. How is the feedback given to the user? Where?
  10. Security demands that we don’t tell the user what’s the exact problem (missing email or password). Usability does.
  11. Where is the sign-up page? Where does Log-Out go out to?
  12. “Email” , “eMail” or “email”?
  13. Nice Login Form

    Nice Login Form

  14. Do we use SSL for the login but move to clear HTTP for the rest of the application ?
  15. Cross browser testing?
  16. How shall we do unit testing for the screen?
  17. It turns out that validating an email address can be a nightmare.
  18. After the user made a mistake, which events clear the warning notification?
  19. Shall we support Hebrew? How about the German umlaut?
  20. Shouldn’t “email” and “password” be left aligned?
  21. Is the colon required after “Login”?
  22. Do we want to limit the length for any of the fields? Minimum password strength?

Notice how we got to twenty non trivial questions without discussing the actual user authentication or the graphic design, which can be huge topics on their own.

My simplistic recommendation is to use of the shelf components whenever possible and go through the annoying step we used to call “feature design” even in this agile world we live in.

Sample Login Screen

Sample Login Screen

11 Trivial Inventions We all Need

September 25, 2009
Square Egg

Square Egg

1. How come we can send a man to the moon, but can’t detect when the car tire is under pressured ? I Just found out that I was driving on 16PSI instead of 32PSI. Same for oil level.Same for car battery.

Funny Cat On Tire

Funny Cat On Tire

2. Automatic shirt ironing machine. Can be built using nano-technology  or little robotic ants, as far as I’m concerned.

A shirt-ironing machine from Siemens

A shirt-ironing machine from Siemens

3. Full text indexing for PC’s. I uninstalled Google desktop last week. It just does not work.

4. A way to get my cell phone SMS and voicemail in my email account. Please, Pretty please. Willing to pay.

5. A simple way to coordinate meetings across organizations and timezones.Something like exposing my google calendar to every admin in the world. It can be done in theory, but  it does not really work.

6. SMS messages that are longer than 60 characters , or whatever the limit is. Come on. Really.I can load them the bandwidth.

7. Israeli restaurants accepting tips in credit card. Same for Israeli taxis. 🙂

8. When will we have a normal,working tool to sync Outlook and Gmail ?

Brain Scanner

Brain Scanner

9. Network based Scanners. And printers. Isn’t it time we could use the home All-In-One devices without an attached desktop and horrible drivers. Back in 1995 I used a protocol with the great name ,TWAIN , ( Technology Without an interesting name ) to connect scanners and PC’s. Can’t we have TWAIN over WiFi ? We can call it  TWAINFI.

10. Real unification of all credit cards,sim, small change and debit cards into one simple Smart Card.No more wallets for men. The technology seems to be around for years, what’s the big problem ?

11. Laser based tooth brush that cleans the teeth in 20 seconds with perfect results.

Laser based Tooth Brush

Laser based Tooth Brush