Google W*ve

May 29th, 2015

Kevin Marks:

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Rings

May 25th, 2015

Emily Lakdawalla's dive into the latest batch of images from the Cassini probe inspired her to generate a magnificent panorama across Saturn's rings (scroll down to the foot of the article.)

Saturn's rings (excerpt)

(For the record, this preview of one tiny segment doesn't begin to capture the scale or impact of the full image. Click on the preview if you doubt me…)

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Unintentional time-lapses

May 18th, 2015

A group of researchers from the University of Washington and Google have found a way to construct time-lapse video sequences from within the millions of photos to be found online:

First, we cluster 86 million photos into landmarks and popular viewpoints. Then, we sort the photos by date and warp each photo onto a common viewpoint. Finally, we stabilize the appearance of the sequence to compensate for lighting effects and minimize flicker.

The results are downright spectacular in some cases, and just plain odd in others.1

[Via kottke.org]

  1. Wait until right at the end, when the video gets to the Charging Bull statue from New York's Financial District. Why is it doing that, exactly?

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Carpe Atmospherum!

May 11th, 2015

How Spaceships Die:

Every spaceship eventually reaches the end of its life. […]

But a 50-foot-wide hole in the dirt in an alien world isn't the only way that spacecrafts reach their "end of mission." Some are brought home, some jet off into the inky blackness of interstellar space and others remain in orbit forever. When its time is up, here's a full list of ways a spaceship can die. […]

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

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Star Wars: The Binks Awakens

May 4th, 2015

Just a little something to give folks celebrating May 4th nightmares: Star Wars: The Binks Awakens

[Via Laughing Squid]

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I want to go on record as being against this.

May 4th, 2015

Scott Glenn talked with The Onion AV Club for their Random Roles feature, reeling off a stream of anecdotes about the many films he's been in and the people he's worked with. Like Ron Howard's firefighter drama, Backdraft:

Backdraft (1991) – "John 'Axe' Adcox," stunts

[…]

AVC: You actually have a stunt credit on [Backdraft.]

SG: I do. At one point, the stunt coordinator on that – a great stunt coordinator named Walter Scott – he and Ron came to me, and Ron said, "How do you feel about being set on fire?" And I said, "Not great. Why?" [Laughs.] And he said, "Well, this is the deal: We want to hang you about 75 feet up in the air, and we want to light fire below you in this scene, and we want to set the bottom part of your body on fire, and with harness and cables, it'll look like Kurt Russell is hanging from a beam, holding you." It's where I say, "Let me go," and he says, "You go, we go." And Ron said, "The only way I can really sell this shot is to shoot down over Kurt's shoulder, onto you looking up into the camera, hanging there, on fire. And I can't figure out any other way to do it that powerfully with a stunt double." And Walter said, "I want to go on record as being against this. You never set a principal actor on fire, and fire is unpredictable, and blah, blah, blah." But I did it. They say God looks after kids and idiots, and I think actors are probably a combination of the two.

Firestorm (1998) – "Wynt"

AVC: So after enduring all you did on Backdraft, what made you want to do Firestorm?

SG: A lot of money.

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No scrith required

May 2nd, 2015

What's the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?

Babylon 5 was robbed! Robbed, I tell you!

[Via Laughing Squid]

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Listen to Wikipedia

April 26th, 2015

Listening to Wikipedia is oddly soothing.

[Via Memex 1.1]

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Un-Useless

April 24th, 2015

How the selfie stick was invented twice:

The selfie stick was invented twice, two decades apart, by men on opposite sides of the world – and both times it was the result of problems experienced on a European holiday. […]

[Via notes.husk.org]

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Maximally not-sexy

April 20th, 2015

Somehow a panel discussion at Eastercon 2015 about sexy vampires prompted Charlie Stross to share this delightful bit of natural history with his fellow panel members and their audience:

[…] if you want maximally not-sexy, it's hard to top Placobdelloides jaegerskioeldi, the Hippo Arse Leech.

The Hippo Arse Leech is a leech; it sucks blood. Like most leeches, its mouth parts aren't really up to drilling through the armour-tough skin of a hippopotamus, so it seeks out an exposed surface with a much more porous barrier separating it from the juicy red stuff: the lining of the hippo rectum. When arse leeches find somewhere to feed, in due course happy fun times ensue—for hermaphrodite values of happy fun times that involve traumatic insemination. Once pregnant, the leeches allow themselves to be expelled by the hippo (it's noteworthy that hippopotami spin their tails when they defecate, to sling the crap as far away as possible—possibly because the leeches itch—we're into self-propelled-hemorrhoids-with-teeth territory here), whereupon in the due fullness of time they find another hippo, force their way through it's arse crack, and find somewhere to chow down. Oh, did I mention that this delightful critter nurtures its young? Yep, the mother feeds her brood until they're mature enough to find a hippo of their own. (Guess what she feeds them with.)

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The view was worth the trip

April 19th, 2015

APOD: 2015 April 13 – Milky Way over Erupting Volcano.

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When The Dj Drops Your Jam…

April 19th, 2015

When The Dj Drops Your Jam…

[Via Stellar Interesting's faves]

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Perfect

April 17th, 2015

Matthew Mcconaughey's reaction to Star Wars teaser #2:

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Tempescope

April 17th, 2015

Want!

The tempescope is an ambient physical display that visualizes various weather conditions like rain, clouds, and lightning. By receiving weather forecasts from the internet, it can reproduce tomorrow's sky in your living room.

[Via Interconnected]

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Fault creep is not without its benefits

April 15th, 2015

The Town That Creep Built:

The signs that something's not right aren't immediately obvious, but, once you see them, they're hard to tune out.

Curbs at nearly the exact same spot on opposite sides of the street are popped out of alignment. Houses too young to show this level of wear stand oddly warped, torqued out of synch with their own foundations, their once strong frames off-kilter. The double yellow lines guiding traffic down a busy street suddenly bulge northward – as if the printing crew came to work drunk that day – before snapping back to their proper place a few feet later.

This is Hollister, California, a town being broken in two slowly, relentlessly, and in real time by an effect known as "fault creep." A surreal tide of deformation has appeared throughout the city. […]

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Mic drop…

April 15th, 2015

Ben Hammersley:

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Everything you need to know about strategy speak in one handy table

April 12th, 2015

Wardley's Scale of Corporate Desperation:

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Task Continuity

April 10th, 2015

At the Mozilla blog there's a fascinating post about research Gemma Petrie & Bill Selman did into how real users handle Task Continuity, i.e. the mechanics of dealing with stuff they want to read online now as opposed to stuff they want to get back to later:

Based on our research, we developed a general model of what the task continuity process looks like for our participants. Task continuity is a behavior cycle with three distinct stages: Discover, Hold/Push, and Recover.

The Discover stage of the task continuity cycle includes tasks or content in an evaluative state. At this stage, the user decides whether or not to (actively or passively) do something with the content.

The Hold/Push stage of the cycle describes the task continuity-enabling action taken by the user. In this stage, users may:

  • Passively hold tasks/content (e.g. By leaving a tab open)
  • Actively hold tasks/content (e.g. By emailing it to themselves)
  • Push tasks/content to others by sharing it (e.g. Posting it on Facebook)

[…]

In the Recover stage of the task continuity cycle, the user is reminded of the task/content (e.g. By seeing an open tab) or recalls the task/content (e.g. Through contextual cues). Relying on memory was one of the most common recovery methods we observed. In order to fully recover the task/content, the user may need to perform additional actions like following a link or reconstructing an activity path.

It seems that emailing yourself a link to look at later is still a thing, which I find both amazing and a bit depressing. Also, there's a distinct lack of mentions of just bookmarking the content in the web browser you're using to read the content in the first place, which rather suggests that browser makers have been wasting their time with that whole bookmarking feature they've all been using for the last couple of decades.

For what it's worth, my usual approach to seeing stuff in my web browser that I'll want to come back to depends upon whether I want it as reference material or just don't have time to look at it right now: material I know I'll definitely want to refer to, especially if I'm likely to want to look at it more than once1 goes to Evernote, where I can tag it and set a reminder alarm if need be. Content that I'll want to look at later (possibly with a view to filing it in Evernote if it's worth keeping) gets bookmarked in Pinboard. Text-heavy content that I know I'll want to read but that is lengthy enough to require a significant chunk of my time is likely to be consigned to Instapaper. Whichever way it goes, one click and I'm ready to move on to the next browser tab.2

Interestingly (Well, I find it interesting!)) the only real exception to that general approach comes when I see a YouTube or Vimeo video I want to come back to: if I'm already on the YouTube or Vimeo site I'll generally use those sites' Watch Later features to tag that content, so that next time I'm in the mood to kill some time watching a bunch of videos it'll be to hand.3

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

  1. e.g. a snippet of Applescript, or a web page showing the opening hours of a local supermarket over a bank holiday weekend
  2. Mac OS X and iOS try hard to encourage users to use Safari's reading list feature to grab content to review later, but that's no good to me if I might want to look at the items when I'm using a non-Apple device, i.e. if I'm browsing from work during my lunch break using Firefox on a Windows PC.
  3. I still tend to do my video-watching in batches rather than visiting YouTube/Vimeo multiple times during a browsing session. The good old days of reading the internet in batches via a metered dial-up connection scarred me for life shaped my browsing habits in ways I still can't shake.

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Everyone's Upstairs Neighbours

April 8th, 2015

Everyone's Upstairs Neighbours:

[Via MetaFilter]

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Dancing Droplets

April 7th, 2015

Stanford researchers solve the mystery of the dancing droplets:

[Via The Kid Should See This]

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