I've been whining to quite a lot of people about my vision over the last year. If you've been wondering what's up with that, read on. Most other people should stop now. Over the last 18-24 months my vision has massively deteriorated. A slight extra glow to streetlights at the end of a long night was my first indicator -- rather like the glow you get when it's a bit foggy. This slowly became a glowing halo around all lights at night, then lights during the day, and now anything light-coloured. Light text on a dark background -- the default terminal screen in a UNIX environment -- is completely unreadable to me; I have to change to a lower-contrast colour scheme. Credit sequences in movies are similarly unreadable, and dark scenes in general are becoming harder and harder. At night, my vision has become an increasingly indistinguishable mess of overlapping, glowing blobs which has significantly decreased my enthusiasm for going out at night. I have obviously been trying very hard to work out what is going...

How to get an idea for a startup: move to the Bay

It struck me the other day as strange that even today, the vast majority of web startups come out of the Bay Area. Cities like London and New York, which have no shortage of similarly smart, young, ambitious, tech-oriented people, produce orders of magnitude fewer startups. Why, in a world of instant, easy telecommunication, is your physical presence in the bay apparently stil essential? My theory is that it's because you don't come up with ideas on your own. In fact, you don't come up with ideas at all. Ideas are accidents. Creativity is the process of creating new connections between disparate inputs. Working on your own, your inputs come from what you read. That can produce some creativity, but what you read is largely self-selected or at least filtered by your choice of blogs and news outlets. Conversations produce accidental ideas. It's one of the most striking things about a conversation between two clever people: they nearly always end up creating new information -- even if it's just a joke --...

Insightful political analysis, live on GTalk

On the ongoing Russia-Georgia conflict (don't call it a war!): Ed: i mean, I hate russia too and I think that this is a very bad development but I am not at all convinced that we should be getting into a shooting war with the Russians. war with russians never turns out well for anyone laurie: Yes, that went badly last time. Ed: surely we've learned that much laurie: Also, it went on forever Who has two decades to waste on a national pissing match now? We all need to unite, and gang up on china.

The Tyranny of iTunes

Do you remember when iTunes was actually a descriptive name for that program? Introduced to the world on January 9th, 2001, it was a Mac-only media playing application that did MP3s and a few other formats that nobody cared about, including Apple's soon to be obsolete DRM format. It had a cute, elegant interface and some nice features like smart playlists and some relatively clever algorithms which would organize the files in your music collection for you. It also managed syncing these files to your iPod. Now here's iTunes' current primary feature set: iPod sync manager MP3 player Video player AirTunes broadcaster MP3 store Video rental store Podcast tracker Mobile phone activation and backup repository Contacts manager Photo sync manager Ringtone store Application store Application backup repository Most of these "features" could be -- and most are -- the sole focus of other standalone applications. Apple's ability to combine all of them into a single application is either a triumph or a tragedy, and...

Hotties for Obama: how to build a website in 32 minutes

Idea Implementation: Hotties for Launch For bonus points, link to your new website, using link text with sensible keywords, from a domain that already has high PageRank. You know, like I'm doing right now.
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Lucy from the Sky

Her name was Lucy, and she was dying. It was her choice. She had been given the opportunity to avoid death, and refused. But that had been in the abstract, a noble choice made when death was a theoretical possibility. Now it was a reality, the world fading slowly around her as the sun set and life left her body, and the pain had not been part of her calculations. But she had not much basis for comparison; death was a very rare event in her world. At the dawn of the 21st century, humanity had finally unlocked the secrets of its own genome, and the decline of death began. It was slow at first, and very uneven, so much so that it had taken centuries for humanity to even recognize that the change had started. The economic injustices of the previous centuries became the biological injustices of the new ones, as the wealthy bestowed artificial genetic gifts upon their children. Not only did the rich become richer and the poor relatively poorer, not only were they better fed and clothed and healthier. Now the...

Now that's what I call iconic

84,000 people. Oh, yes we can.
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