Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

May 13th, 2008:

Odd Lots

  • Sorry for the recent quietude here; the weekend was a whirlwind, and it took all of yesterday just to catch my breath.
  • Scott Kurtz' PvP webcomic celebrated its first ten years by showing us that Brent Sienna actually has eyes. Wow.
  • Allan Heim sent me a pointer to a nice article on the Fermi Paradox that expresses a position I have been drifting toward for most of my life: That we are probably alone in the universe, perhaps not only as intelligent, tool-building beings but also as living things, period. The author makes a case that being alone in the universe would be very good news, but not for the reason you might think. Read it.
  • Borland is apparently selling their CodeGear division (which develops and supports Delphi) to Embarcadero Technologies, a database tools company. This was not unexpected, and to be honest with you, I can't tell if it's a good idea or not. One of Delphi's most serious problems is that it got so good after five or six years that most people stopped upgrading; I'm amazed at how many people are still using Delphi 6. The cost of the product was also an issue—there is no ~$100 starter edition—and the Turbo Delphi Explorer experiment demonstrated how important the ability to install components was. An amazing number of people wrote to me to say that they downloaded the free product, installed it, fooled with it for a week or so, and then went back to Delphi 6.
  • From Mike Sergent comes a pointer to a NYT piece indicating that most people do not have the training to discern the level of subtlety in wine flavor that they claim to, and that a lot of it may exist mostly in our heads anyway. This is not news (to me, at least) but it's nice to see it going mainstream.
  • Michael Covington posted a fascinating graph of changes in home prices from Q4 2006 to Q4 2007, suggesting that the “housing bubble” has not been evenly distributed. The coasts have suffered, as have most major cities and trendy places like Colorado's Front Range, but flyover places like Nebraska and Wyoming have posted solid increases in that time. In addition to that, sharp differences by state suggest that state-level housing and banking policies have more to do with housing cost changes than most people are willing to admit.
  • Also from Michael is a graph demonstrating that the US economy is not as much of a disaster as Big Media has been hammering on. (I won't invite all the usual hate mail by explaining in detail why this is, as it's pretty obvious if you think about it.)
  • The other day I found myself thinking something remarkable (for me): I would rather buy a Mac and run my essential Windows apps in a Parallels window (or in a compatibility box like Crossover) than move to Vista.