February 21, 2006

Todd Hays Out of Medal Round

During the last Winter Olympics I wrote a profile of Todd Hays, er, Todd "Hollywood" Hays, former NHB fighter turned bobsled driver. Hays did well at the Salt Lake games, but finished 7th this time around.

Photo of Todd Hays courtesy USOC, used with permission

I still think Hays should've kept up the whole kickboxing thing. The media coverage made a big deal about the hotdoggin' skier who is going to try out for the NFL as if that guy's two-sport prowess was extraordinary. But I'll bet Hays can still kick his ass. And that's what counts, right?

Posted by jameshom at 05:32 PM | Comments are turned off (0) | TrackBack

February 18, 2006

Reading List Thus Far

Finished up Post Captain, book 2 in the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian. The more I read these books, the more I liken them to the buddy movie genre--think Lethal Weapon. <geek reference ahead> But if you fast forwarded the Aubrey-Maturin books a zillion years into the 23rd century, don't you think you'd get Kirk and Spock?

Currently reading: Vagabond, book 2 of the Grail Quest series by Bernard Cornwell. Gore and guts, here we come.

Posted by jameshom at 10:35 PM | Comments are turned off (0) | TrackBack

February 15, 2006

AnandTech takes a Tour of NewEgg Distribution

AnandTech lets us come along on a great photo tour of the NewEgg distribution facility.

Back when I was doing Industrial Engineering (IE), distribution and warehousing were considered the low end of IE work. We all wanted to make something, not put it in a box and ship it.

But there's some really cool IE when you need to squeeze every last penny out of your distribution process. Retail is always a squeezed business, and eCommerce even more so, when the barrier to entry is low and competition is fierce. I'll bet someday UT Austin takes over from Georgia Tech as the premier IE school because of the Dell trickle-down.

Posted by jameshom at 02:32 PM | Comments are turned off (0) | TrackBack

February 13, 2006

Springfield's XML Tactical Light

I'm implementing an XML-based authoring environment for my employer, and as I also write about martial arts-related topics, I found Springfield Armory's new "XML Tactical Light" rather funny.

Jeff Cooper comments on the use of "tactical" and "digital" as appelations for products to make them sound sexier, without the products themselves actually being better than the garden variety:

I have always been interested in words but I cannot remain on top of the situation. Take, for example, this adjective "digital." I have asked around at length and I have yet to find anyone who knows what it means. In common usage it signifies "better" or "best," but for reasons unknown to the user. I have yet to see advertised a digital burgundy, or a digital laxative, or a digital South Sea island cruise, but I await the day. Possibly if Steyr Mannlicher had advertised the Scout as a digital Scout, they might have pushed the sales of the weapon into economic success.

[I don't really want to know what a digital laxative would be, given that most doctors and nurses have 5 digits on each hand. Turn your head and cough now.]

I've seen similar things when XML was just starting to catch on--before everyone really used it, you'd see tools advertised as "XML ready" or "works with XML". Like Microsoft Word, for example, which may or may not be truly useful for anything to do with XML.

But now we have gunlights marked "XML". Maybe my DITA XSL transformations might run faster if I hold them at gunpoint?

Posted by jameshom at 02:16 PM | Comments are turned off (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2006

Portable Pack Rat-ism

[That's "pack rat", not "brat pack" or "rat pack".]

Merlin of the great 43 Folders lifehacking site blogged about the recent Washington Post article on carrying too much crap: how everyday people in this modern world feel compelled to tote around all sorts of ephemera as part of their daily routine:

Burdens of the Modern Beast

This reminds me of a coder who joined Netscape just before the fall. We'd call him the Batman, because he had a bunch of black nylon pouches hanging from his belt, filled with all the tools a real software guy needs, like a big SAK, precision screwdrivers, flashlight, numerous pens and pencils, spare glasses, etc.

And that was just the things I could see from casually checking out his rig in the hallway (Ok, enough with the innuendos). If anybody at Netscape was equipped to fight the "browser wars" it was that guy. I'm sure if those cool ThinkGeek lightsabers were available in 1997 he'd have one hanging from that utility belt.

I've resisted the temptation to load up my person with gadgetry, but a preparedness mindset and an appreciation for fault-tolerance ensures that I have at least the Ten Essentials (or the ability to procure them) at close hand. Spyderco, check. Wallet preparedness kit, check.

One way around this "don't want to look too much like a dork" problem (Ok, enough with the innuendos) is to leverage ideas from fields where people are supposed to carry around lots of stuff. Like I love my builder rig and nail pouch--I have different setups for general house maintenance vs. makin' sawdust (er, framing). That way I don't have to think before grabbing my utility knife, speed square, vise grips, pencil, etc. Family Handyman did a piece a while back titled Organizing a Tool Belt, great advice for those of us who didn't grow up on a construction site.

Another idea would be to use clothes and rigs designed for undercover cops. The great 5.11 line is a cool example. The 5.11 jackets come equipped with reinforced pockets that zip into the lining and have neato built-in cord management for that Secret Service earpiece look. But of course you could just run your iPod cables through those, I'm sure. (And if you're in a place where dudes will try to kill you for your iPod, you could get the optional holster panel and take care of matters the old-fashioned way).

Posted by jameshom at 04:55 PM | Comments are turned off (0) | TrackBack

February 06, 2006

Google Puts Smackdown on BMW.de

Matt Cutts outed BMW.de for using gateway pages and explained how BMW got kicked out of Google's index for the practice. Those naughty Germans! I guess the Googlers are more down with their Benzes or that fancy bus they get to ride around in.

But think about the sheer power of the Googleite that could pull that switch. What if you did the same thing to an Amazon, or walmart.com? How much money could an eCommerce site lose by being kicked out of Google? (cue Dr. Evil laugh).

Posted by jameshom at 01:39 PM | Comments are turned off (0) | TrackBack
All content copyright © 1999 - 2010 James Hom