Sometime between January 5th and January 7th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- The Online 78 Rpm Discographical Project: Incredible resource for dating old 78s.
- Best Buy Optimization Is a Big Stupid Annoying Waste of Money: "Would you pay $39.99 to improve your computer's processor speed by 200%? What about software updates that would take you two days to perform on your own? Or how about services that take an 'incomplete' computer and make it more useful? Good deals, right? Just one problem: None of these claims – made by real Best Buy sales clerks about the company's Geek Squad optimization services – is true."
- Word of the Year 2009: Distracted Driving: "Distracted driving — what many are guilty of when they use digital devices on the go — is rapidly entering law books around the world and earns the 2009 Word of the Year choice at Webster's New World(r) College Dictionary."
- The Science of Success: "Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind's phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail–but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society's most creative, successful, and happy people."
- The Darwin Awards: "The Darwin Awards team is proud to announce the late, the great, the 2009 Darwin Award Winners! Named in honor of Charles Darwin, father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool… by removing themselves from it. This award is generally bestowed posthumously."
Sometime between December 16th and January 4th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Why Is JJ Abrams Obsessed With Alice in Wonderland?: "Abrams has been mining the Alice mythos for years -Alias, Lost, and yes, even Felicity are all filled to the brim with Into the Looking Glass subtext and, as is the case with Fringe, actual context. For the sake of brevity, topicality and to spare you the pain of many, many white rabbit-related metaphors we'll keep the focus on Fringe with a bit of Abrams' back catalog to support the theory."
- Population of the Dead: "How many people have ever lived? While doing research about populations for my last piece, I began to wonder just how many people had ever walked the face of the earth. The articles I found [here and here] were intriguing so I decided to visualize them as well."
- The Weekly World News on Google Books: Heh. Awesome. My favorite of the trash news rags. Sad that it doesn't exist in print anymore.
- This Dumb Decade: The 87 Lamest Moments in Tech, 2000-2009: "If ever a decade began dumb, it was this one. When clocks struck midnight on January 1st and the dreaded Y2K bug turned out to be nothing but a mild irritant, it proved once again that the experts often don't know what the heck they're talking about."
- 20 Greatest SF Movies of the Past Decade: "The past decade has seen a lot of bloated special-effects brain-sucks… but it's also seen some of the best science-fiction films ever. Superhero films came of age, apocalypses ruled, and interstellar adventures came back. Here are the decade's 20 greatest."
Sometime between December 10th and December 16th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- 20 Best Science Fiction Books of the Decade: “After much mulling and culling, we’ve come up with our list of the twenty best books of the decade. The list is weighted towards science fiction, but does have healthy doses of fantasy and horror. And a few surprises. This list is alphabetical, and not in order of awesomeness. All are equally great and worthy of your attention. In deciding which would make the list and which wouldn’t, we weighed not only our opinions, but also those of the critical community at large – looking at how each book was received by reviewers for mainstream publications as well as science fiction magazines. There were many, many books we love that almost made the cut – if we’d let ourselves go it would have been more like the 100 best books of the decade.”
- Why Fake-Looking CG Space Battles Are Beautiful: “Television used to be full of space skirmishes… that looked kind of bogus. And yet, they’re totally beautiful and make our inner children giggle with excitement. Here’s why we love the faux space battles. The 1990s were really the heydey for wonderful but not-quite-convincing space skirmishes. We used to see tons of ships flying around our screen, often too many to count. Unlike Battlestar Galactica’s quick cuts and weird handheld camera footage, these 1990s space wars were usually filmed with an unflinching eye or a slow pan, letting you see every computer-generated line and explosion. And it’s totally awesome.”
- Octopus Snatches Coconut and Runs: “After turning the shells so the open side faces upwards, the octopuses blow jets of mud out of the bowl before extending their arms around the shell – or if they have two halves, stacking them first, one inside the other – before stiffening their legs and tip-toeing away. Dr Norman said: ‘I think it is amazing that those arms of pure muscle get turned into rigid rods so that they can run along a bit like a high-speed spider. It comes down to amazing dexterity and co-ordination of eight arms and several hundred suckers.'”
- Facebook’s New Privacy Changes: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: “Being a free speech organization, EFF is supportive of internet users who consciously choose to share more on Facebook after weighing the privacy risks; more online speech is a good thing. But to ensure that users don’t accidentally share more than they intend to, we do not recommend Facebook’s ‘recommended’ settings. Facebook will justify the new push for more sharing with everyone by pointing to the new per-post privacy options — if you don’t want to share a particular piece of content with everyone, Facebook will argue, then just set the privacy level for that piece of content to something else. But we think the much safer option is to do the reverse: set your general privacy default to a more restrictive level, like ‘Only Friends,’ and then set the per-post privacy to ‘Everyone’ for those particular things that you’re sure you want to share with the world.”
- Does CGI Ruin Movies?: “Watching movies where CGI has created entire worlds…may be technically impressive and the work of hundreds of artists up and down the moviemaking food chain, but none of it entirely convinces; there’s a distance that we, as viewers, instinctively pick up on because what we’re watching is so fake that it can’t even convincingly fake verisimilitude. It doesn’t matter how many how many hours or computer modeling programs have been spent to create ‘lifelike’ scenery or surroundings, it will always lack the element of chaos, the potential for mistakes, that makes it something we can believe (and lose ourselves) in.”
Sometime between December 2nd and December 9th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- What Is Google Voice?: "Ever since I got my Google Voice account, I have had to repeatedly explain to friends and colleagues what Google's free phone service is and (more importantly) what it isn't. If you, like them, have heard about Google Voice but still aren't completely clear about how it works and why you should care, here are some quick answers."
- Start BitTorrent Downloads Remotely With Dropbox: "Now as long as you keep Dropbox and BitTorrent running, you can start torrents remotely. All you have to do is upload .torrent files to the Dropbox folder from wherever you are, using the web interface, and it should start downloading almost immediately on the other computer. I started doing this at the office, and it's worked for me without a hitch; by the time I get home, my downloads are usually ready. Give it a shot, and let me know what you think."
- 500 Internal Server Error: 500 Internal Server Error
- Happy 30th Anniversary to Star Trek: The Motion Picture!: "30 years ago today, on December 7th 1979 Star Trek leapt from the small to the big screen with Star Trek: The Motion Picture. All week long TrekMovie will be celebrating the anniversary, beginning today with a tribute by Free Enterprise producer Mark Altman, that looks at the film and its place in history."
- How to Create the Perfect Facebook Fan Page: A couple good tips, but the biggest is the FBML application. I need to install this and play with it for the CWU Writing Center Facebook page when I get some time.
Sometime between November 30th and December 2nd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- On Language – Against Camel Case: "Word spaces should not be taken for granted. Ancient Greek, the first alphabet to feature vowels, could be deciphered without word spaces if you sounded it out, and did without them. Spaces or centered points divide words on early Roman monuments, but Latin, too, ceased to separate words by the second century. The loss is puzzling, because the eye has to work much harder to read unseparated text. But as the paleographer Paul Saenger has explained, the ancient world did not desire 'to make reading easier and swifter.'"
- Exploding Whale Video Reporter Looks Back Four Decades Later: "We're hearing this noise around us and we realize it is pieces of whale blubber hitting the ground around us (from) 1,000 yards away. …we ran away from the blast scene, down the dune and toward the parking lot. Then we heard a second explosion ahead of us, and we just kept going until we saw what it was: A car had been hit by this coffee-table-size piece of blubber and had its windows flattened all the way down to the seats."
- Verizon Changes FiOS AUP, -1, Offtopic: "Verizon has changed their FiOS AUP effective yesterday, and added an interesting new clause to their specific examples that we're all familiar with: 'it is a violation of the Agreement and this AUP to … post off-topic information on message boards, chat rooms or social networking sites.' At this point, every FiOS-based Slashdot user is breaking the new AUP." As some of the (less amusing, on-topic) comments to this /. thread note, this is probably simply a poorly-worded clause intended to cover any Verizon-owned/managed forums, or to target spammers, or both. That doesn't make it any less amusing.
- Is Obama Another Mr. Spock?: "He shows a fascination with science, an all-too deliberate decision-making demeanor, an adherence to logic and some pretty, ahem, prominent ears. They all add up to a quite logical conclusion, at least for 'Star Trek' fans: Barack Obama is Washington's Mr. Spock, the chief science officer for the ship of state."
- 12 SF Movie Adaptations That Did the Books Justice: "Whether or not you loved The Road, most people seemed to feel it captured Cormac McCarthy's novel. Sadly, most adaptations do violence to the original books, but not all. Here are 12 adaptations that did right by the books."
Sometime between November 26th and November 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- From the Archives, the Chaos of the WTO: "Ten years ago this week, Seattle was thrust into the international spotlight in a way that most people did not anticipate. Tens of thousands of protesters descended on our normally quiet corner of the United States. They brought with them their grievances and frustrations with the way our world was headed in 1999. Some of these [photos] have never been published before."
- Cliff Mass Weather Blog: An Amazing Lightning Story: "Once in a while, I hear some amazing weather stories. Imagine being hit by lightning while driving. Instant destruction of the car's electronics, with the a window blowing out due the blast? Here is a true story shared by Judy Lew–she described it so well, I thought I would leave her own words, slightly abridged. And some pictures she shared. She sounds like the kind of person you would like to have around in an emergency! This lightning hit occurred on the 520 bridge in Seattle during commute time. This story illustrates how safe it is to be in a car during an electrical storm, since the current will pass around you."
- Patrick Stewart: the legacy of domestic violence: As a child, the actor regularly saw his father hit his mother. Here he describes how the horrors of his childhood remained with him in his adult life
- Panasonic discontinuing Technics 1200 turntables?: The rumours appear to originate from a New Zealand DJ shop called DMC World, which says on its product page: "Panasonic (the manufacturer of Technics) have announced that production of the world famous Technics SL-1200 and SL-1210 DJ turntables will stop at the end of February 2010". The turntables have been around for more than 35 years, and are featured in the London museum of Science and Technology as an important step in how music has been played and presented over the last century. Their popularity has ensued due to their tank-like construction, high torque and effective insulation from acoustic feedback.
- On Twilight: What do you see in him?: Domestic violence is not romantic, and I don't care how much you say she started it, you don't hit your girlfriend. EVER. If the other women in your tribe had the sense that God gave mayonnaise, wolf boy would be lucky to only go to jail. Wait– there don't appear to be any other women in the tribe. sigh And this movie is the one that made $140 million bucks in one weekend. Bigger than Dark Knight. Maybe it's just that I'm older and (hopefully) wiser than the characters and thus out of this movie's target demographic, or maybe I'm a humorless feminist, but knowing that zillions of girls are seeing this getting the idea that a seriously unhealthy relationship is somehow the equivalent of true love — that is profoundly disturbing. Far scarier than a werewolf.
Sometime between November 12th and November 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Official Google Blog: Finding the laws that govern us: Starting today, we're enabling people everywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the "Legal opinions and journals" radio button, and try the query separate but equal. Your search results will include links to cases familiar to many of us in the U.S. such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, which explore the acceptablity of "separate but equal" facilities for citizens at two different points in the history of the U.S. But your results will also include opinions from cases that you might be less familiar with, but which have played an important role.
- The History of the Internet in a Nutshell: If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you spend a fair amount of time online. However, considering how much of an influence the Internet has in our daily lives, how many of us actually know the story of how it got its start? Here’s a brief history of the Internet, including important dates, people, projects, sites, and other information that should give you at least a partial picture of what this thing we call the Internet really is, and where it came from.
- It’s true: all the taken men are best: Women: do you have a man? If you do, better beware. Chances are that some lone female has her eye on him. A new study provides evidence for what many have long suspected: that single women are much keener on pursuing a man who's already taken than a singleton. "The single women really, really liked the guy when he was taken," says Melissa Burkley of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, who conducted the "mate-poaching" study with her colleague Jessica Parker.
- Meep! Nonsense Word Gets Students in Hot Water: "Bob Thompson, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University, said he first heard students meep about a year ago during a class screening of a television show. 'Something happened and one of them said 'Meep,'' he said. 'And then they all started doing it.' The meeps, he said, came from all of the students in the class in rapid-fire succession. When he asked them what that meant, they said it didn't really mean anything. 'It's almost like they look at you like it's a silly question,' he said. But meeping doesn't seem to be funny to Danvers High School Principal Thomas Murray, who threatened to suspend students caught meeping in school." Wow, dumb (the principal, not the kids). Also, lots of fun silliness and stories of teenage silliness in the Metafilter post about this article.
- Mandelbulb: The Unravelling of the Real 3D Mandelbrot Fractal: "The original Mandelbrot is an amazing object that has captured the public's imagination for 30 years with its cascading patterns and hypnotically colourful detail. It's known as a 'fractal' – a type of shape that yields (sometimes elaborate) detail forever, no matter how far you 'zoom' into it (think of the trunk of a tree sprouting branches, which in turn split off into smaller branches, which themselves yield twigs etc.). It's found by following a relatively simple math formula. But in the end, it's still only 2D and flat – there's no depth, shadows, perspective, or light sourcing. What we have featured in this article is a potential 3D version of the same fractal." I don't get the math in all of this, but there are some gorgeous pictures. A lot of them look to me like perfect sets for the home planet of Giger's Alien.
Sometime between November 5th and November 12th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Cyoa: "Outside of the realm of task-oriented books, this sort of hopscotch across the contents is a rarity. And the CYOA books are actually not exceptions in this respect, for they too are books that perform a task. But rather than being a definition retrieval system or associative datastore, their interactive function is to create a gameworld for the reader. This is part of the wonder of these books — they took a pre-existing set of interface conventions designed for utilitarian search tasks and mapped a new activity onto it. They were effectively a new kind of software application for the oldest information-display platform we have."
- Bruji’s Pocketpedia is Back!: "We're very excited to announce that Pocketpedia2 has passed its App Store review and is available once more for download through the iTunes Store."
- Djay » Spin – the All-in-One Controller for Djay: "Spin is the perfect all-in-one hardware solution to control djay, allowing anyone to mix, scratch, and play music as a DJ would right at your fingertips. Whether you are a beginner or a professional artist, Spin offers everything you need to be a DJ with your Mac. Start DJing today with Spin and experience what it's like to create your own mix for podcasts, slide shows, house parties and even bigger venues."
- The Jobless Rate for People Like You – Interactive Graphic: Fascinating, if not entirely surprising, breakdown of how the unemployment rate varies within particular demographics.
- In Which a Fairly Major Secret Is Made Secret No More: "Back in the old days, before Twitter exploded into the phenomenon that it is now, I got a message from Greg Grunberg. Greg plays Matt Parkman on Heroes (this information, which most of you don't need, is provided as a public service to the seven of you who do), and has been in every JJ Abrams project since JJ started making movies in the pre-old days. Greg and I traded several messages about a bunch of different things, and then he sent me a private message that said something like, 'JJ needs voice actors for Star Trek. Would you be interested in doing that?'"
Sometime between October 29th and November 2nd, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Meet Stephen King’S Gore Specialist: "King first tapped the Dartmouth-trained practitioner to help him fact-check the terrifying supervirus he'd conceived for The Stand. King knows better than anyone the golden rule for horror and sci-fi: Make it as real as possible. In Dome (out in November), King serves up generous portions of materials science, nuclear physics, and medicine. And that's where Dorr comes in. He's the geek behind the geek."
- xkcd: Movie Narrative Charts: "These charts show movie character interactions. The horizontal axis is time. The vertical grouping of the lines indicates which characters are together at a given time." The Lord of the Rings box is the most impressive; also done for Star Wars (original trilogy), Jurassic Park, Primer, and 12 Angry Men.
- Obamas give out treats, fruit to White House trick-or-treaters: "This wasn't the first-ever Halloween event at the White House — Tricia Nixon hosted underprivileged children for the holiday, the Fords and Carters welcomed trick-or-treaters from charitable organizations like UNICEF — but it might have been the biggest. Thousands of 5- to 14-year-olds and their families paraded through the crescent-shaped driveway." This is really cool. More and more, the Obamas just seem like really nice people.
- 27-Inch iMacs Reported to Have Flash Playback Issues: "If you were contemplating buying one of those shiny new 27-inch iMacs, maybe don't pull the trigger just yet: according to Engadget, many proud new owners of the computer have become annoyed new owners, reporting pronounced problems in particular with Flash playback." I'm not having this problem myself (knock on wood), but it might be worth keeping an eye out to see how this progresses.
- An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All: "…there is no credible evidence to indicate that [the claim that vaccines harm children] is true. None. Twelve epidemiological studies have found no data that links the MMR vaccine to autism; six studies have found no trace of an association between thimerosal and autism, and three other studies have found no indication that thimerosal causes even subtle neurological problems. The so-called epidemic, researchers assert, is the result of improved diagnosis, which has identified as autistic many kids who once might have been labeled mentally retarded or just plain slow. In fact, the growing body of science indicates that the autistic spectrum…may largely be genetic in origin. […] But that hasn’t stopped as many as one in four Americans from believing vaccines can poison kids, according to a 2008 survey."
- Jan. 1984: How critics reviewed the Mac: John C. Dvorak, 19 Feb. 1984: "The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the 'why' out of the equation — as in 'why would I want this?' The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I don't want one of these newfangled devices."
Sometime between October 27th and October 28th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Lovecraft 101: Get to Know the Master of Scifi-Horror: "You've heard about Cthulhu, and you've probably heard about the man who created this tentacled horror, H.P. Lovecraft. Now you want to try delving into the world of Lovecraft, but where to start? Let us help you."
- Couple Alive After Car Pins Them to Bed for Almost an Hour – CNN.com: "With motor fluid spraying their faces and the weight of a car numbing their bodies, two Nevada college students struggled to stay calm after a drunk driver allegedly tore into their home, ripping them from their slumber. Kristin Palmer and Trent Wood were asleep in their home last week when a motorist allegedly drove into their bedroom around 4 a.m., mistakenly believing it was his ex-girlfriend's home. The University of Nevada students spent almost an hour pinned between the car and their bed while emergency workers battled furiously to free them. Somehow, the two left the scene with relatively minor scrapes and burns — and a new lease on life, Wood said."
- Stephen King Brings an "American Vampire" Tale to Vertigo: "The idea behind 'American Vampire' is that vampires can evolve, and because King's vampire was turned in the Old West, he thrives in the sunlight of the desert and has powers that are distinctly American. 'As the vampire bloodline, over the last couple thousand years, has hit different populations at different times, it occasionally mutates into a new species of vampires,' Snyder explained. 'And so there's this whole secret family tree of different species besides the dominant one that we're aware of — the one that is the classic, nocturnal, blood-drinking, burned-by-the-sunlight species that came to dominate Europe."
- tron.fm: "Tron 1.5: Rise of the Virals" (Soundtrack): "'Rise Of The Virals' was a fantastic, but much darker storyline from the original — different from the 'Into The Machine' pitch made to Disney by another party. It involved updating the ENCOM universe to a networked system (thanks to the Internet), but also created a darker world — full of programs abandoned as buggy systems (or 'mutants') and abused by corrupt users as viral systems. Furthermore, the story included the death of Flynn and presented questions about the digital life of programs lasting beyond the mortality of their creators — the users."
- 500 Internal Server Error: 500 Internal Server Error