Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

This is an attempt at an automatically scheduled post.

Blagojevich gives v-sign

Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois gives a v-sign to the United States. The meanings of his actions are clear to anyone in the US. Now they can be understood in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand as well.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Amazon mp3s

As AndyC noticed, Amazon UK is strongly promoting its mp3 store. In the US the mp3 store has been running for some time. It is convenient and easy to use. It is clear that the record companies are trying to undercut iTunes by letting Amazon sell mp3s while not allowing Apple to do the same thing (with exceptions). A year ago if I had a craving for a song I would buy it from Apple. Now I will usually buy the song from Amazon to avoid the DRM. Amazon seems to be experimenting with two levels of price point. One is the album for $5 like Tha Carter III or Dear Science. This is a tempting price. But they also are trying albums for $2, which, for the right artist, is almost irresistible. Yesterday you could get Purple Rain and Howlin' Wolf: His Best - Chess 50th Anniversary Collection at this price. Today you cannot. I wonder if Amazon is eating the costs on these experiments in order to determine the price elasticity of demand for mp3s. I also wonder how I can find about these offers without having to check the site every day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Boeing vs. Airbus

What is the ugliest plane in the world?

The Airbus A300-600ST Beluga is a modified A300 which is used (mostly) to carry Airbus components ready for final assembly across Europe to Toulouse or Hamburg. I often see these near Chester because Airbus wings are built in Broughton.

The Boeing Dreamlifter (here seen with downtown San Francisco in the background) is a modified 747-400 used for transporting aircraft parts to Boeing from suppliers around the world.

I think Airbus and Boeing should use each other's planes to ferry their parts around. This would be like Apple and Cray. When Seymour Cray was told that Apple Computer had just bought a Cray to help design the next Apple Macintosh, Cray commented that he had just bought a Macintosh to design the next Cray.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New format for the dot matrix signs in BART

New format for the dot matrix signs in BART

The new format is a bad piece of design. Previously you could see the destination of the next two trains at a glance. Now you have to look at the numbers to see what the second train will be. Here, the next two trains are both for Daly City, but you have to look carefully to see that. Why did they make this mistake? They think they are showing more information in a smaller area. This is true, but it is information that is only of interest to BART. Who cares what the train is in 27 minutes? Only those who are trying to run the system. It's the same mistake they make when they earnestly tell you that the system is running 20 minutes behind schedule. We don't care. We want to know when the next train will pull in.

Monday, December 01, 2008

All you ever wanted to know about the Wilhelm scream.