Dogfood

November 03, 2008

Election night: Make sure you get home early

My old friend and co-émigré Bruce Nash has put together a great presentation about how tomorrow’s election will unfold, in terms of when the TV networks will call each of the states. From Bruce’s model, it looks like it’ll be all over bar the shouting by around 8pm Pacific – so if you’re on the West coast, best get in front of a TV set early if you don’t want to miss all the action. You can view the presentation below (jump to around 6:30 for the meat):

The only beef I have with Bruce’s predictions is that he models the poll-to-result swing (the difference between the final poll result and the actual result) for each state using the values from the 2004 election – and there are many reasons (new voter registrations, a different profile of voter turnout, the Bradley Effect) why the swing could be different this time around (to be fair, Bruce does acknowledge this).

But since Bruce’s model predicts that Iowa, Pennsylvania and Virginia will lock up for Obama pretty early on, leaving McCain with very few options, it’s hard to imagine that the outcome won’t be fairly clear by the time folks on the East Coast (and my three-year-old daughter) need to go to bed. In fact, it could even be the case that the result is pretty much known before the polls actually close on the West Coast. Kinda crazy, if you ask me ;-)

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April 17, 2008

The running of the programmers

bridges_12142006_1700  Off-topic, this, but there's an interesting report in this week's Economist about the changing lifestyle patterns created by mobile technology, and the rise of the digital "nomad" who works anywhere and everywhere (I'm writing this from my local coffee shop, just to prove what a trendy nomadic-type person I am). Particularly interesting (to folks round here, anyway) is a write-up of the results of a series of studies of US traffic patterns carried out by Alan Pisarski over the past three decades:

Car trips had stopped increasing and were even declining in cities such as Seattle, Atlanta and Portland. Traffic was still heavy but now spread out over much longer periods, starting at 5am and lasting till noon, say. Bizarre new patterns were cropping up, such as a “reverse commute” in Seattle as lots of male computer scientists at Microsoft in the suburb of Redmond raced downtown to find females—a weekday ritual called "the running of the programmers".

I have to admit that I've never heard the term "running of the programmers" (and besides, I live in Seattle, and am married), but I can attest to the misery that is the 520 into Seattle at 5pm, and I use everything in my power (including not going to Redmond, or traveling on a wi-fi enabled bus) to avoid it. So now I'm part of a lifestyle trend.

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October 05, 2007

In praise of TVersity

tversitylogo Nothing to do with web analytics or online marketing, this, but I had to give a shout out to TVersity, which (together with my Windows Home Server box) has delivered on my long-cherished vision of being able to download TV from the Internet (strictly legally, you understand) to the server in my home office and play it via the Xbox that's connected to the TV in my living room.

One of the great unsung features of the Xbox is its ability to stream media files from any Windows-based PC running Windows Media Connect (now part of Windows Media Player 11). The only snag is that for video you can only play WMV files this way.  And we all know how much WMV-format video you can download (not much, if you need telling). TVersity fixes this by allowing you to stream DivX-encoded video through your Xbox; but it doesn't stop there: you can also stream live video (encoded in RSS feeds, even) from the Internet, as well as listen to Internet radio stations.

Why am I excited about this now? Because the new UK series of Strictly Come Dancing starts this weekend, and Mrs Thomas is a huge fan (don't mind it myself, come to that). We moved to the US last year in the middle of the last series, and in order to watch the rest of the series I had to set up a cumbersome system involving recording the show in the UK onto hard disk and downloading it laboriously onto a laptop here which we then plugged into the TV in our corporate apartment. This year will be so much easier. Ah, the relentless march of technology - what a wonderful thing.

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January 15, 2007

Gah

The BeckhamsI come to the US to get away from them (well, maybe not principally for that purpose, but it was a nice bonus), and they end up following me here.

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November 30, 2006

Vista ships; Gates for President?

Congratulations are due to my colleagues over in the Windows, Office and Exchange dev teams for getting Vista, Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 done (not before time, you might be forgiven for saying). All three were launched today by Steve Ballmer at NASDAQ in New York City.

In (un-)related news, a groundswell of support for Bill Gates as the next President of the US seems to be forming; Scott Adams floated the idea a few days ago, and now a website has sprung up (duly slashdotted) to help Bill on his way. Given the crackpots who generally appear to masquerade as politicians in this country (for balance: UK politicians are little better), the idea of Bill running for President sounds strangely appealing.

Update [12/3/06]: A colleague has remarked that this post indicates that I've been drinking too much Microsoft Kool-Aid since arriving here in the US. On reflection, this post does seem a little fan-boyish; for those of you who know me, rest assured I'm the same cynical, sneering Brit I always was.

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November 22, 2006

I heard it on the radio...

In a serendipitous combination of my love of gadgets and my love of Radio 4 (The Archers excepted, which I've never warmed to), Cener Development have come out with a Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget which plays BBC radio stations (in fact, the gadget can be customized to play any radio stream, at least those using Real Media, with a bit of tweaking of the XML, but I haven't tried that). So now I can listen to John Humphrys grilling Ken Livingstone whilst I sit on the Wifi bus to Redmond - well, I can't, unfortunately, since John's on at 6-9am GMT, which is 10pm-1am here. Ah well - at least there's Thinking Allowed.

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November 07, 2006

Not born in the USA

So, a mere five months after announcing it on this blog, I've finally made it to Seattle with my family. Appendicitis, last-minute dramas with mirrormirror, and even having my car towed in London the night before I was due to sell it (I got it back, fortunately, but am now £200 lighter for the experience) failed to prevent us from getting on the plane on Saturday morning. My daughter managed (just about) to behave herself on the flight, and we all arrived exhausted on Saturday evening in the middle of the worst rainstorm Seattle's seen in ten years. Hurrah.

So now, having swanned about in my native London for the past 35 years looking down my nose at anyone whose family arrived in town less than five hundred years ago (I exaggerate, of course; my own family comes from Wales), I've become an immigrant. Or, to use the official US term, an alien. It will be an interesting experience; it's one of the reasons I took this job, in fact. So amongst the postings about web analytics and online marketing, I'll toss in the occasional one about some of the things that strike me about being a Brit in the US. Feel free to skip over them if you're just here for the stuff about cookie churn.

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