Miscellaneous

  • This is an old one. I don't think Apple should be able to patent much of what they do patent, but that doesn't mean this isn't a nifty touch: the pulsing LED light on Apple laptop covers is designed to fade in and out at the rate of human breathing, a rate "which is psychologically appealing."
  • Camera heavyweights Leica and Red have both announced digital cameras that will only shoot black and white. Why build digital sensors that only shoot black and white when color frames can be transformed into black and white? A typical CMOS sensor has a pattern of red, green, and blue filters that sit on top of the sensor, and each pixel is assigned one of those filters. Thus each pixel only records one color, and an algorithm (debayer) must be applied after the fact to interpolate the full color for that pixel. If you remove the Bayer filter, each pixel sees more light, and without having to debayer, the image is sharper and the tonal curve more smoothly rendered.
  • Are there cracks in China's march economic growth march? George Magnus of UBS thinks so, and a recent note he published drew lots of attention across the web. As this article summarizes, Magnus believes that "China’s innovation and technology shortcomings are rooted in a socio-cultural system and an incentive system that emphasizes incremental over radical change, and quantity over quality and uniqueness." This may leave China ever lagging other global leaders in innovation.
  • After reading The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Dping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs, Tyler Hamilton's confession of the doping he did as Lance Armstrong's teammate and then competitor, I wasn't surprised at the revelations of the extent of the doping in professional cycling. Oddly enough, having visited the Tour de France in person several times, you'd hear ex-professionals, whether riders or soigneurs or mechanics, drop not-so-subtle hints that doping was common and expected. However, I was curious how Sally Jenkins would cover it. She wrote Lance Armstrong's two biographies (It's Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts), both great reads but, given Armstrong's participation, largely hagiographic, so I was curious if she'd have it in her to join those who've condemned him given his recent decision to give up the fight against the USADA. It appears that nothing short of a confession from Lance Armstrong will sway her. Her last column on Armstrong starts: "First of all, Lance Armstrong is a good man. There’s nothing that I can learn about him short of murder that would alter my opinion on that. Second, I don’t know if he’s telling the truth when he insists he didn’t use performance-enhancing drugs in the Tour de France — never have known." She goes on to condemn the USADA's methods, and she raises good questions about whether athletes can get a fair shake from them. Also, given our economy, the amount of money the USADA spends is of questionable value. Still, I was hoping Jenkins would address the Lance issue head on. It seems she'll simply pass.
  • I concur with Andy Greenwald about Boardwalk Empire: the lead role is miscast, and the dozens of storylines sprawl like so many strands of spaghetti. I've never warmed to the show. Has a show ever broken out in its third season the way wide receivers are rumored to in the NFL?