Edmund’s a manly man

A couple years ago I remember being impressed with Edmund because he did the ultimate hike, the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada. And he didn’t just hike it, he speed hiked it, finishing the trail about two months faster than most people by wearing and carrying the barest essentials. I got to talk to him about it for a short while, but I’ve been meaning to do a lengthy interview with him as I find it a fascinating trek requiring superhuman stamina.

Now I see he’s doing it again. Hiking the PCT takes about two years of preparation, and you have to be able to put your life on hold for about six months while you hike. A small number of folks try it each year and a very small number finish. I can’t begin to describe how insane it is to do a 2,700 hike twice in just a few years.

Supersized Me

I finally saw Supersize Me and I was blown away. It’s kind of like a jokey, dumbed-down version of the book Fast Food Nation, but really drives the point home. Last year I cut out some junk food from my diet (“french fry free in 2003” was my personal slogan) and lately I’ve been exercising a ton, but not losing any weight. After seeing this movie, I was reminded why. I’ve been lazy in the past couple months and I probably eat fast food of some sort 3-4 times a week. “Drive-thru no more in 2004” is my new personal slogan.

It’s great to hear the movie is doing well, though I would have guessed that it did more business already. I hope everyone in America gets a chance to see it, it’ll open your eyes, make you laugh a little, and blow your mind.

Google’s word analysis engine

This is a fascinating little look at the way words are used by folks online.

Cogsci researchers put lots of effort into analyzing how humans process language and they’ve developed all sorts of crazy means to measure these sorts of things. But with Google grinding through 4 billion webpages, it’s safe to say they’ve probably got the largest human language dataset that is easily queried. And stuff like page counts for word length is an easy way to plumb the depths. If it hasn’t already happened, I bet there’s a dissertation or article destined for Science on using Google as a cheap (free) text analysis tool for some robust studies. Though, as the post points out, large datasets will take incredible lengths of time to complete using existing tools. Still, I bet someone out there is up to the challenge.

Clever

I have a lot of ideas. Maybe a handful are good ones. Once in a great while I might have a clever idea, but I’m constantly impressed by people that can truly be creative. To take a problem thousands of years old, turn it on its head and solve it with a new clever idea is something to behold.

These two ideas are just about the most clever things I’ve ever seen.

anti-social network

I’ve always considered LinkedIn as a sort of grown-up version of Friendster. Instead of Friendster focused on trying to get everyone laid, Linkedin seems to focus on more corporate pursuits, like getting jobs, making connections related to business, and generally growing your corporate network. I haven’t done much with my account there, and I’ve only seen maybe one instance of someone using me to connect to someone I’ve worked with to discuss a new technology they developed.

What I have seen happen more often is that Linkedin is used as an introduction service. Every few weeks I’ll get an email saying “Alice Smith would like to talk to John Doe, who you are two degrees from, click here to accept” and wonder why the first and last person didn’t just email directly. Today someone four people away from me sent an innocous question that I would have answered over email in a second. It probably took a few days, and everyone in the chain that hadn’t heard of the original question asker or the intended recipient had to go along with it.

I know a lot of people say “email is broken” but is it so far gone that people have to climb the corporate ladder just to drop a stranger a note? If we must use systems like this, isn’t there a way to make it less of a hassle?

iPhoto to Typepad

PhotoToTypePad has been released for public beta. I’ve been testing it for the past couple weeks and Jonathon has incorporated pretty much every feature request and comment I made. It works perfectly for me, I typically create a new gallery, toss some photos in it, rename the titles on the images, then just export to Typepad as a new gallery.

About the only downside I’ve found so far is the resolution limits at Typepad, which seem to force images whatever max width and height is in your settings (typically 500-640px). Also, I have no idea how much the final version of PhotoToTypepad will cost, hopefully it’ll be $5-10.