Skip to content



I'd be the last one to wade into commentary on religious topics, so I just share this link because for me it was interesting reading:

"For those who are committed to being a shomer Torah, I leave you with the following thought. If women rabbis or omitting a blessing are greater threats to Orthodox Judaism, and thus more worthy of collective outrage than are theft, violence, corruption, and abuse, then perhaps the Orthodox society has outlived its halakhic usefulness." (from The Selective Sanctimony of Orthodox Judaism)

Windows 8: Getting a new filesystem

I don't pay much attention to Microsoft and Windows these days. I admit it, I am a hardcore Mac and Linux user, more comfortable in the unix shell than I ever was at a Dos prompt.

It's easy to forget the layers and layers and layers of complexity that exist in any operating system nowadays, even a little Android tablet (which I am spending lots of time with lately.)

So this article is a good reminder of what's happening up in Redmond. It describes the "next generation file system for Windows":

"Our design attributes are closely related to our goals. As we go through these attributes, keep in mind the history of producing file systems used by hundreds of millions of devices scaling from the smallest footprint machines to the largest data centers, from the smallest storage format to the largest multi-spindle format, from solid state storage to the largest drives and storage systems available. Yet at the same time,

Windows file systems are accessed by the widest array of application and system software anywhere. ReFS takes that learning and builds on it. We didn’t start from scratch, but reimagined it where it made sense and built on the right parts of NTFS where that made sense. Above all, we are delivering this in a pragmatic manner consistent with the delivery of a major file system—something only Microsoft has done at this scale. (fromBuilding the Next Generation File System for Windows: ReFS)

Reading the article is not as satisfying as the build up. I guess not surprisingly, given that by definition the article has to over simplify and really hide the wheels within wheels.

I have written many times about Microsoft's amazing ability to build complex products and support a user base across a crazy variety of versions, hardware, software, countries, eras and so on. The challenge that they take on with Windows 8, apparently massively changing the on-disk structures of their file system while preserving API compatibility is daunting.

So while I am not a Microsoft fan or booster, I still have enormous respect for them.

Support your local bookstore

I have a warm spot in my heart for independent bookstores, as such a store paid for my college education. My family business was a bookstore. It is no longer around however, having gone out of business years ago. Blame Amazon?

Secondly, I read lots of books , and own even more. (Yes that implies that I buy books that I don't read. I don't feel bad about that. I enjoy books.)

Thirdly, I love, I mean, I LOVE What convenience, what great prices, what free shipping. I even own some AMZN stock. In truth I bet in the last year I spent more money on books at Amazon than from local bookstores.

See the conundrum coming?

Whenever I am in a strange town, or out 'shopping' or on vacation, I can spend lots of time browsing bookstores. I will buy books sometimes, and sometimes I will write down book titles for later consideration, or even later Amazonning. Ok, so I am conflicted about this whole thing.

I would be very sad to see the local bookstore close.

Oh wait, the local bookstore in the town I live closed years ago. (We still have a used bookstore, which I frequent.)

I don't have a punchline. I am not sure how I feel about this. Should I stop shopping at Amazon and give up the convenience and good prices? Should I never order a book on Amazon that I first saw in a local bookstore?

Here are three articles on this very topic, for your fascination:

A letter from the owner of a great local bookstore, the Harvard Bookstore in Harvard Square, Cambridge Mass.

Amazon should partner with independent bookstores, an article suggesting ways in which the two could benefit mutually. Hmm, perhaps a fantasy.

Amazon's Jungle Logic, an Anti-Amazon screed from a set of authors.

Keeping emails and security under control

Do you receive tons of notification emails form your various subscriptions or social sites like Twitter and Facebook and the others? Have you thought about the impact on your productivity all these teasers are?

Well, you might have forgotten (or are you too busy to figure out) how to manage or shutdown the notifications. Check out this handy toy that I just came across: Notification Control.

And in a related story, here's a similar site if you want to review your security and permissions settings on all these sites. Another chore often put off to our own detriment! My Permissions.

Yeah there's really very little to these two sites but I think you might find them very useful!

Fibonacci series and Photography

You can't be a self-respecting computer or science geek and not have heard about the Fibonacci series. You know, 1-1-2-3-5-8… etc. How about Fibonacci's Ratio? How about the Golden Mean or the Divine Proportion? Not sure, right?

Fibonacci, and its role in art, design and photography is a little less well known. As I continue to study photography and art I came across this excellent article about that very topic:

"Hopefully, this article has shed some light on a somewhat mysterious subject in the world of photography. Fibonacci's Ratio is a powerful tool for composing your photographs, and it should'€™t be dismissed as a minor difference from the rule of thirds.

While the grids look similar, using Phi can sometimes mean the difference between a photo that just clicks, and one that does'€™t quite feel right. I'€™m certainly not saying that the rule of thirds doesn'€™t have a place in photography, but Phi is a far superior and much more intelligent and historically proven method for composing a scene." (from Divine Composition With Fibonacci's Ratio)

Information Diet: Focus

While I am in the mood to reveal some of my weaknesses (see post on Dieting two days ago) let's talk about information overload.

I employ various tools and tricks to make sure I can focus on what is important to me and shut out distractions. I've written about them before. Two of my favorites are so-called self binding (sounds weird but it's not) and a utility app called Concentrate.

A book just came out called "The Information Diet". In fact Clay Johnson's PR is so good that I know all about this book except I am not exactly sure if has actually been published yet. I feel like I've read it. Funny the launch of the book has the feeling of a political campaign. Hmm.

Anyway here's a post from his blog that I thought was worthwhile: How to start your information diet. Many of the tips here I am already following, but a simple one was a bit of a revelation for me, because it was so obvious but I hadn't thought about it this way:

"Turn off all desktop notifications on your computer. If you're an Outlook user, turn its desktop alerts off. If you're an OS X User, and have somehow ended up with Growl installed on your computer, turn off all notifications." (fromHow to start your information diet.)

Designed As Designer

If you are interested in design and especially design and architecture of software, and you have a philosophical bent, you will enjoy this essay… I can't even attempt to summarize it's content, and even the abstract from the paper itself is quite inscrutable:

"Conceptual integrity arises not (simply) from one mind or from a small number of agreeing resonant minds, but from sometimes hidden co-authors and the thing designed itself." (From Designed As Designer)

What can I tell you. The author is the Richard Gabriel, a luminary of the computer world. Here's the article: Designed as Designer.

Secret trick for losing weight

I am going to share my secret technology for losing weight. It's a mental exercise that really works. It is inspired by the neuro-economics concept of "anchoring". Here's how it works:

Every morning you step on your scale, right? I do. Well let's say my weight yesterday was 171lbs. Let's say my goal weight is 165lbs. Before stepping on the scale, I think "165" and visualize seeing "165" on the read out. Then I step on the scale. I

see, let's say, 170.5lbs. I am not surprised, but part of my subconscious is disappointed and I am re-motivated to keep working on it. My focus and motivation is pumped up. It works! (Patent pending 2011, R. Pito Salas)

Before this technique, I would step on the scale thinking, I hope that I am maybe half a pound less than yesterday, but anyway, it better not be up. So then I see 170.5lbs. And I am relieved and proud. My focus and motivation flags.

Hadn't heard about anchoring before? Here's a bit about it:

"During normal decision-making, anchoring occurs when individuals overly rely on a specific piece of information to govern their thought-process. Once the anchor is set, there is a bias toward adjusting or interpreting other information to reflect the "anchored" information. Through this cognitive bias, the first information learned about a subject (or, more generally, information learned at an early age) can affect future decision- making and information analysis." (from Wikipedia)

And also:

"Take the last three digits of your social security number. Turn those numbers into a dollar value (i.e., if your numbers are 462 then they provide a value of $462). Consider whether you would be willing to pay that dollar amount for a first edition of JRR Tolkien’s, The Hobbit. Now, how much would you actually pay for a first edition original copy?

A stylized result from laboratory experiments in economics and psychology is that a subject’s answer to the latter valuation question is strongly influenced by the dollar amount computed from their social security numbers, whether for ordinary consumer products or exotic goods.1 Based on the premise that the randomly determined value should contain no useful information, critics of neoclassical theory have argued that such findings refute the notion that decision makers’ preferences are consistent and stable.

A natural conclusion is that if preferences are unduly labile and influenced by innocuous properties of circumstance, then no optimization principles may underlie even straightforward individual economic decisions." (from University of Alaska)