Listen to Wikipedia

April 26th, 2015

Listening to Wikipedia is oddly soothing.

[Via Memex 1.1]

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Today: 30 Times Fridge Door Opened

February 17th, 2015

The Sid Lee Agency has gone to town in wiring up their office in Paris with Arduino-based sensors monitoring pretty much everything that moves across the working day and the Dashboard they've created to display the data they're gathering is insane:

Coffees poured

For the avoidance of doubt, when I say 'insane' I mean not so much 'impressively geeky', more 'Why the hell would anyone want to work for people who want to monitor how many times the fridge door was opened and how many times the toilet was flushed?'

[Via Flowing Data]

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June 3rd, 2014

This excerpt1 2 from Mike Judge's Silicon Valley is a beautiful illustration of what can happen when a bunch of geeks take an idea and run with it.

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

  1. Embedding not allowed, unfortunately – you'll have to follow the link to YouTube to see it.
  2. Dialogue and subject matter are probably NSFW.

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'One rarely disappoints with a skull on one's crotch.'*

April 24th, 2013

I'll confess to never having played Warhammer 40K or read any of the tie-ins, but even so I'm quite prepared to believe that this truly is the Best Warhammer 40K Costume Ever:

Best Warhammer 40K Costume EVER?

* Post title courtesy of MeFi user Halloween Jack.

[Via MetaFilter]

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This is a thing now in Japan…

March 29th, 2013

Life imitates Dragonball Z. On Twitter.

And why not?

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

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December 26th, 2012

Greg Kumparak has built himself a toy TARDIS. A toy TARDIS that's bigger on the inside.

I have just two things to say about this:

  1. A quick note for the benefit of whichever BBC executive is responsible for enforcing the BBC's copyrights: it definitely would not be a worthwhile use of time and money to track Mr Kumparak down and demand that he take down this post.

    If anything, you should be getting someone to dig out whatever specifications you have for other versions of the TARDIS control room, so that enthusiasts with the requisite knowhow can produce downloadable alternative interiors1 for those of us with fond memories of the Pertwee years.

  2. To quote the first comment on the original post: "I don't know who you are, I don't know what you want, but I will find you, and SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!"

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. Let's face it, we were all thinking it. And now I mention it, it goes without saying that the alternative interiors should permit us to specify which Doctor and companions are going to be hanging out in 'our' TARDIS.

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June 20th, 2012

I love the fact that Tim Bray is so keen that his proposal for a new HTTP status code for cases where access to a resource is blocked for legal reasons incorporates a Latin example that is both grammatical and historically accurate:

One of the things in the proposal is that the 451 Unavailable for Legal Reasons status is sup­posed to be ac­companied by an explanation of what the legal restrictions are, and what class of sites they apply to. The proposal has an ex­ample, and since obviously you don't want to use any real legal author­i­ties in this situation, I decided to pick on the Roman Empire:

This re­quest may not be serviced in the Roman Province of Judea due to Lex3515, the Legem Ne Subversionem Act of AUC755, which dis­al­lows access to re­sources hosted on servers deemed to be operated by the Judean Liberation Front.


But I made up the name of the Roman law by typing some­thing into Google Trans­late. So… does any­one read­ing this know what a plausible Latin name would be for such a law, and how it would be cited? Roman his­tory is full of law­suits, so I assume it must have been a fairly routine operation. Thanks in ad­vance.

Attention to detail1 being very much the mark of the Alpha Geek.

  1. And yes, he's already acknowledged that he muffed the Monty Python joke, and will be inserting a reference to the People's Front of Judea in a future revision.

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May 19th, 2012

Repetitive Tasks. So true.

[Via swissmiss]

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Machete Order

February 28th, 2012

I've seen any number of links over the last few days to The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order but only got round to reading it today.

I've got to admit, his argument makes a hell of a lot of sense.


If you're thinking of introducing a youngling to the Star Wars saga, you owe it to yourself – and to them – to consider what this man says.

Don't let your loved ones' first memories of Star Wars be sullied by the presence of Jar-Jar Binks. Or midichlorians. Or trade disputes. Or Jake Lloyd.

[Via The Tao of Mac]


Geeks and tinkerers and curiousity

February 22nd, 2012

Awl commenter jfruh posted a terrific passage from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle:

We watched the Laboratory's receptionist turn on the many educational exhibits that lined the foyer's walls. The receptionist was a tall, thin girl — icy, pale. At her crisp touch, lights twinkled, wheels turned, flasks bubbled, bells rang.

"Magic," declared Miss Pefko.

"I'm sorry to hear a member of the Laboratory family using that brackish, medieval word," said Dr. Breed. "Every one of those exhibits explains itself. They're designed so as not to be mystifying. They're the very antithesis of magic."

"The very what of magic?"

"The exact opposite of magic."

"You couldn't prove it by me."

Dr. Reed looked just a little peeved. "Well," he said, "we don't want to mystify. At least give us credit for that."

Come to that, the rest of jfruh's comment – made in the context of a discussion of the nature of geekiness – is absolutely spot-on, and well worth quoting:

To me, part of the nature of geekiness that I've always liked (and liked in myself, so I suppose I defend it as part of my self-image) is wanting to know how things work. People started using computers in the '70s and '80s not because of what they could do (they really couldn't do much), but to see how they worked, and to see what they (the hobbyists) could make them do.

The attitude that "Computers are geeky, iPhones are computers, I love my iPhone, therefore I'm a geek," when paired with "my iPhone is magic!" strikes me as almost a little cargo-culty. The Franzen quote may have been wrenched out of context, but the fact that you like to play with your iPhone doesn't make you a geek any more than the fact that you like to drive makes you a motorhead (or whatever the term was for people who liked to tinker with their car engines, back when that was a thing).

For me, one of the hardest things to get my head around in the early/mid 1990s as work colleagues/fellow students/friends and relatives started using first PCs and then the internet in their day to day lives was that they didn't particularly want to know why the computer did things the way it did (or why it didn't do things the way they'd thought it would.) They just wanted to know what button to press to get to the next step, and didn't much care about why pressing that button got them out of the corner they'd trapped themselves in.

I can let it go now (mostly), but I'm still conscious that I look at this stuff differently to most of the people I deal with.1

  1. Just don't get me started on people who go to web pages by typing the URL into Bing and clicking on the top result!

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