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Michael Wexler
Works at Citigroup
Attended UNC-Chapel Hill
Lives in New Jersey (sigh)
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Michael Wexler

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Nice gift from Guy Kawasaki.   I read the Mac Way and enjoyed it...
 
To celebrate the New Year, you can get four of my books for free. Please spread this link as far and wide as you can. 

http://www.yousendit.com/download/WUJZZUNndWNlaFRMYnRVag

The books are: What the Plus!, The Macintosh Way, Database 101, and The Computer Curmudgeon.

Happy New Year!
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Michael Wexler

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Anyone tried Yahoo Axis? It worked for me, then I upgraded to Chrome 21.0.1145.0 dev-m and now Axis just downloads a CRX file. Anyone else having trouble with it?

http://axis.yahoo.com/
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Michael Wexler

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Finally remembered to check Google Plus. Feels like Canal St. in NYC: cheap ripoff of "facebook timeline" for the profile, but still not enough unique experiences happening here to remind me to come back more often. And why is this main column still so small? I make the browser wider, but everything stays squished to the left. Sigh.
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Michael, I see more of you here than on FB..... why is that?
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Michael Wexler

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Ok, Google Plus folks: why should I support developers who take the same basic game on a phone format and charge 2-4x the price for a tablet version? I agree, if there is extra content or dimensions to the game, great... but there appear to be a lot of them that are really the same.
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Michael Wexler

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Now that I have over 25 folders on my iPad/iPhone, anyone know how to find what folder an app is in? The Search finds the app, but doesn't tell me where it is. Surprising that they left out that feature.
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Michael Wexler

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Jean-Baptiste Quéru originally shared:
 
Dizzying but invisible depth

You just went to the Google home page.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit of about how browsers work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play HTTP, HTML, CSS, ECMAscript, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just connected your computer to www.google.com.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how networks work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play DNS, TCP, UDP, IP, Wifi, Ethernet, DOCSIS, OC, SONET, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just typed www.google.com in the location bar of your browser.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how operating systems work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a kernel, a USB host stack, an input dispatcher, an event handler, a font hinter, a sub-pixel rasterizer, a windowing system, a graphics driver, and more, all of those written in high-level languages that get processed by compilers, linkers, optimizers, interpreters, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just pressed a key on your keyboard.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know about bit about how input peripherals work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a power regulator, a debouncer, an input multiplexer, a USB device stack, a USB hub stack, all of that implemented in a single chip. That chip is built around thinly sliced wafers of highly purified single-crystal silicon ingot, doped with minute quantities of other atoms that are blasted into the crystal structure, interconnected with multiple layers of aluminum or copper, that are deposited according to patterns of high-energy ultraviolet light that are focused to a precision of a fraction of a micron, connected to the outside world via thin gold wires, all inside a packaging made of a dimensionally and thermally stable resin. The doping patterns and the interconnects implement transistors, which are grouped together to create logic gates. In some parts of the chip, logic gates are combined to create arithmetic and bitwise functions, which are combined to create an ALU. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bistable loops, which are lined up into rows, which are combined with selectors to create a register bank. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bus controllers and instruction decoders and microcode to create an execution scheduler. In another part of the chip, they're combined into address and data multiplexers and timing circuitry to create a memory controller. There's even more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Can we simplify further?

In fact, very scarily, no, we can't. We can barely comprehend the complexity of a single chip in a computer keyboard, and yet there's no simpler level. The next step takes us to the software that is used to design the chip's logic, and that software itself has a level of complexity that requires to go back to the top of the loop.

Today's computers are so complex that they can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. In turn the computers used for the design and manufacture are so complex that they themselves can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. You'd have to go through many such loops to get back to a level that could possibly be re-built from scratch.

Once you start to understand how our modern devices work and how they're created, it's impossible to not be dizzy about the depth of everything that's involved, and to not be in awe about the fact that they work at all, when Murphy's law says that they simply shouldn't possibly work.

For non-technologists, this is all a black box. That is a great success of technology: all those layers of complexity are entirely hidden and people can use them without even knowing that they exist at all. That is the reason why many people can find computers so frustrating to use: there are so many things that can possibly go wrong that some of them inevitably will, but the complexity goes so deep that it's impossible for most users to be able to do anything about any error.

That is also why it's so hard for technologists and non-technologists to communicate together: technologists know too much about too many layers and non-technologists know too little about too few layers to be able to establish effective direct communication. The gap is so large that it's not even possible any more to have a single person be an intermediate between those two groups, and that's why e.g. we end up with those convoluted technical support call centers and their multiple tiers. Without such deep support structures, you end up with the frustrating situation that we see when end users have access to a bug database that is directly used by engineers: neither the end users nor the engineers get the information that they need to accomplish their goals.

That is why the mainstream press and the general population has talked so much about Steve Jobs' death and comparatively so little about Dennis Ritchie's: Steve's influence was at a layer that most people could see, while Dennis' was much deeper. On the one hand, I can imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Jobs did and the people he inspired: probably a bit less shiny, a bit more beige, a bit more square. Deep inside, though, our devices would still work the same way and do the same things. On the other hand, I literally can't imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Ritchie did and the people he inspired. By the mid 80s, Ritchie's influence had taken over, and even back then very little remained of the pre-Ritchie world.

Finally, last but not least, that is why our patent system is broken: technology has done such an amazing job at hiding its complexity that the people regulating and running the patent system are barely even aware of the complexity of what they're regulating and running. That's the ultimate bikeshedding: just like the proverbial discussions in the town hall about a nuclear power plant end up being about the paint color for the plant's bike shed, the patent discussions about modern computing systems end up being about screen sizes and icon ordering, because in both cases those are the only aspect that the people involved in the discussion are capable of discussing, even though they are irrelevant to the actual function of the overall system being discussed.
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Michael Wexler

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I keep forgetting to check this place.   Did I miss anything?
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So many things!!
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Michael Wexler

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If it's this hard to make a screw, it's amazing a watch ever gets completed.   Great pics...
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Michael Wexler

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Happy New Year to all my friends and family... A year full of change for the Wexlers, with a new job for me, a new business for Alla, and lots of growing for Sam. To all, thanks for listening and teaching, for helping and laughing, for being a part of our lives both virtually and physically. 2011 could have been a disaster, but you all made it really great. Bring on 2012!
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Michael Wexler

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Is this really, really needed? Doesn't a reboot do a better job of clearing out the cobwebs? Well, YMMV... didn't do a thing for me, but let me know if you think it helps...
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D'oh, I do believe you are right. RTFM indeed.
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Michael Wexler

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Muji now has gloves with conductive material in the fingers to allow you to use your touchscreen devices in the cold. Great idea! http://www.muji.us/store/touchscreen-gloves-unisex.html
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Michael Wexler

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Hey, anyone found a use for "Sparks" yet here on Plus? Any value to them? Any clever uses? I must be missing something, because I find them useless so far...
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People
Have him in circles
111 people
Anil Batra's profile photo
Michael Helbling's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Marketing and Web Analytics
Employment
  • Citigroup
    Director, Digital Insights and Marketing Effectiveness, 2011 - present
  • Barnes & Noble
    VP of Web Analytics and BI, 2009 - 2011
  • Yahoo!
    Marketing and Web Analytics, 2006 - 2009
  • e-Dialog
    Vice President of Strategy and Analytics, 2000 - 2006
  • Microsoft
    Research Manager, 1997 - 2000
  • Icon-Nicholson NY
    Director of Research, 1997 - 1997
  • Digitas (SIG)
    Manager, Measurement and Analysis, 1995 - 1996
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
New Jersey (sigh)
Previously
New Orleans - Boston - Seattle - New York - Chapel Hill, NC - Charlottesville, VA
Links
Other profiles
Contributor to
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Tagline
Yes, the real Michael Wexler... analytically speaking, of course.
Introduction
If you are looking for that bridge between Web Analytics, Big Data, Social Psychology, and Old School Rap.... well, here you are.
Education
  • UNC-Chapel Hill
    Masters in Social Psych, 1990 - 1996
  • University of Virgina
    Psychology, CS, 1986 - 1990
Basic Information
Gender
Male