Scarf

December 17th, 2013

EmmyC's webcomic Scarf is gorgeous. The first half dozen or so pages don't look like anything special, but once her main character looks out of the window to see why it's so light in the middle of the night the story gets going properly and she gets to show off her lovely way with snow and ice and a strikingly red scarf.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Itty Bitty Orphan Black

December 15th, 2013

Reading Issue 1 of Itty Bitty Orphan Black's Marvel Babies-style prequel to Orphan Black, I'm torn between thinking how nicely the cartoonist has captured Lil' Cosima, Sarah, Helena and Alison and remembering that according to season 1 of the show they didn't know one another existed when they met as adults so how the hell could they all have gone to school together! I'm trying hard to let the former reaction win out.

Little Orphan Black cast (cast)

If you missed Orphan Black then it's well worth catching up on, not just for Tatiana Maslany's amazing performances as about half of the main cast, but also for the way they kept on piling up the complications across the entire first season and teased so many potentially fun plots for season 2.1 Please let the writers not screw it up in season 2 by losing control of their plot.

[Via The A.V. Club]

  1. Me, I want to know more about what Mrs S was involved in back in the day: I'm damn sure there's more to it than Felix and Sarah know.

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Our Drone Future

December 14th, 2013

Our Drone Future:

[Via Subtraction.com]

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'Exposure and quackery'

December 14th, 2013

An amazing list of actual reasons for admission into the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum from the late 1800s.

"Masturbation for 30 years" and "Suppressed masturbation"? The ideal was to find a happy medium, presumably. Also, to try not to succumb to "Excitement as officer."1

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

  1. Whatever that was…

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Try to have fun, Otherwise, what's the point?

December 12th, 2013

Final Cut 2013 – A Cinema Tribute:

[Via The Dissolve]

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Visualising Morphology

December 11th, 2013

I wish the creators of Visualizing Buffy and Rocky Morphology could combine forces to bring us a Buffy Morphology.

[Visualizing Buffy via Extenuating Circumstances, Rocky Morphology via Flowing Data]

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Moon over Lahore

December 9th, 2013

Fly Me To The Moon:

Airliner and Moon over Lahore

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Emotion detection in a mobile, wearable system

December 9th, 2013

I could have sworn that today's date wasn't April 1st, but Nicholas Carr seems determined to prove me wrong:

If there's one product category ripe for disruptive innovation, it's lingerie. So it comes as no real surprise that Microsoft researchers have developed a smart bra. The self-quantifying garment is designed, write the researchers, to "perform emotion detection in a mobile, wearable system" as a means of triggering "just-in-time interventions to support behavior modification for emotional eating." [...]

Just wait for the advertising campaign. Perhaps Microsoft will finally surpass this classic ad for Windows XP.1

  1. Potentially NSFW.

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Dinosaurs! WTF?

December 7th, 2013

Dinosaurs! WTF? | A blog covering the conservative dinosaur readiness movement might just be the greatest blog of 2013.

Take, for example, this post on the Top 5 Most Awful Tyrannosaurs:

3. Nanotyrannus

Nanotyrannus was only about a third of the size of the biggest tyrannosaurs, which you might think would preclude it from this list. The problem with that line of thinking is that a third of huge is still pretty freaking big. Think of it in terms of sliders. It doesn't matter whether you eat one 12oz burger or three 4oz burgers, you're still over eating. It works the same way with pack hunting tyrannosaurs. Dividing a tyrannosaur into three smaller tyrannosaurs doesn't mean you're going to be alright, it just means that the tyrannosaurs will be able to cover all of your exits.

Hell, a seventeen foot long Nanotyrannus could probably hide in your garage. Are you going to go to your garage, be ambushed by a Nanotyrannus, and be like, "Oh, this is fine. This tyrannosaur is only seventeen feet long."

No. You'll be like, "I am dead now because it turns out that the size of a tyrannosaur is not necessarily a major factor in my ability to survive it eating my head, beyond a certain critical size which is likely somewhere in the twelve to fourteen foot-" DEAD

Also, because that same post ended like this:

The only reason T. Rex didn't evolve wings is because the sky doesn't bleed. Tyrannosaurs Rex only had two fingers on each hand because scissors always wins if you stab hard enough. The biggest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found was named Sue because you could fit both Johnnie Cochran and Mike Geragos in her gaping jaws. T. Rex didn't go extinct, murder got tired.

[Via MetaFilter]

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I wonder how many lives he has left…

December 6th, 2013

Sick fearless bastard.

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No viable candidates anywhere out there right now

December 6th, 2013

Not for the first time, The Onion nails it:

JOHANNESBURG – Following the death of former South African president and civil rights leader Nelson Mandela today at the age of 95, sources confirmed that the revered humanitarian has become the first politician in recorded history to actually be missed. [...]

[Via scott_sanford, commenting at More Words, Deeper Hole]

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Absurd? Try terrifying!

December 4th, 2013

Glow-in-the-Dark Shark Makes Cookies Out of Flesh:

Spalding had earned the dubious title of first living human confirmed to have been attacked by a cookiecutter shark, which gored a 3-inch-wide crater in his leg. At no more than two feet long, this diminutive terror nevertheless packs a set of teeth that are bigger than any other shark relative to body size, according to George Burgess, an ichthyologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History. It's a glow-in-the-dark evolutionary marvel of the open ocean that takes on beasts hundreds of times its size, including submarines. And it almost always wins.

(Be sure to follow that link to the bit about submarines. It left toothmarks behind.)

Cookie Cutter

[Via The Morning News]

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Throwable and edible, but not soluble

December 4th, 2013

Food Stylist Chris Oliver's work in film and TV doesn't just involve preparing food for people:

On Boardwalk Empire, I had to do an edible arm that they have to throw and the alligator eats it in the scene. They are heavy, 50 pounds easily. I had to make a cast of it and make it so it's throwable and wouldn't dissolve in the water.

(See also her story of a close encounter with a tiger that wasn't going to be satisfied by fake food.)

[Via The Dissolve]

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Introducing O.W.L.S.

December 2nd, 2013

Introducing O.W.L.S.:

Putting O.W.L.S. into commercial use will take a number of years as it takes ages to train owls to do anything and we only just thought of it this morning.

I can but echo the first comment on that post: Well played, Waterstones. Well played…

[Via Sidelights]

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Data does not include domestic crying…

December 2nd, 2013

Quantified Breakup applies a little data analysis to the aftermath of the end of a relationship. Like these infographics about the Public Display of Emotions:

Every day we function within parameters. We do our jobs. We do our chores. We chit chat with the person who sells us groceries. We function very admirably.

But when something disruptive happens in our lives – a breakup or maybe even a serious family emergency – we sometimes can't help but let it all out. And I don't just mean at home. Sometimes, you kinda have to stop functioning and ball your eyes out in public. [...]

Commiserations with other people about breakups seemed to reveal that I was not alone in expressing emotions like this! I've had women shrieking with joy as they told me about the therapeutic effects of crying publicly.

Here's a quick breakdown of public crying I recall from emails, texts and conversations (I started jotting down data for this in mid-October. Data does not include domestic crying):

Public Displays of Emotion

Even as we read this, a software developer somewhere who has seen that post is working on a project called BreakupBuddy,1 an app designed to pull all this data together in a single place. Grabbing your location and the details of what you're listening to is the easy bit: the trickier part is providing a slick but flexible user interface so you can tag parts of the day according to your mood and behaviour. An in-app purchase buys the GetHappy module, which reacts to your mood changes by suggesting a cheery soundtrack, accompanied by pictures from your photostream of happier times. (If the facial recognition/tagging allows it to identify and avoid pictures of That Cheating Bastard, so much the better!) And of course, every status update gets posted to the social network of your choice, because like the lady said, public displays of emotion can be cathartic.23

[Via Flowing Data]

  1. Yes, the name needs a bit of work.
  2. I have a horrible feeling that if I searched the App Store there are probably three apps already there that aim to fill this need.
  3. OK, I couldn't resist: a quick search found this and this, neither of which quite seems to fit the bill. Perhaps there's a genuine gap in the market here.

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Gallery Analytics

December 1st, 2013

Jonas Lund's Gallery Analytics brings WiFi-based tracking to the cultural sector:

Gallery Analytics Realtime view

Lund's Gallery Analytics project is a site-specific installation for exhibitions that's able to generate data about behavior of visitors and present this data in a Google Analytics-like environment. By setting up a mesh Wi-Fi network and combining it with custom-made software, Gallery Analytics is able to track every Wi-Fi-enabled device (such as a smartphone) moving around in the area in real-time. [...]

I can see how with a long-term exhibit you might want to tinker with the layout if analysis reveals that visitors are tending to overlook a particular piece, or perhaps even to swap out a piece that people aren't paying attention to for something that might attract more interest, but if you have a short-term exhibit will you accumulate enough data to draw firm conclusions about what is and isn't working before it moves on?1 Also, if you're a museum that hosts visits by groups2 you might find that a group of students being led through on a tour of your exhibits will end up distorting your stats a bit. What you really need is a real-life equivalent of the Referrer field to help you distinguish between a group being led around and individual, self-directed visitors.3

All in all, this could be a heck of a tool for museum and gallery operators, so long as they don't go nuts and start assuming that the data is the whole story.

Now, for extra credit, consider your local shopping mall or town centre doing all of the above. Is that better, or worse, or no different? Please justify your answer.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

  1. Imagine trying to use Google Analytics on a web site where one or more sections of the site is completely repurposed every X weeks. Not just tweaking the colour scheme and fonts, but actually ripping out the content that used to be book reviews and replacing it with knitting patterns, and organising the content by colour one month and by country of origin the next.
  2. e.g. schoolkids. It's been a long time since I was one, but I assume that occasionally classes of schoolchildren still get taken on a visit to their local museum/art gallery.
  3. But then, if a group of a couple of dozen distorts your stats that much then you're getting so few visitors that perhaps you're not going to be open much longer so this software isn't going to have time to help!

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Hot!

November 30th, 2013

Courtesy of xkcd, Oort Cloud

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Captioned

November 27th, 2013

From Sidelights:

Reasonably interesting article, but GREATEST IMAGE CAPTION EVER.

I concur.

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Olivia and her friends weren't wrong when they thought she'd become suddenly famous. Her audience just wasn't human.

November 26th, 2013

Shantal Roddam (@Allieqtzm) was a typical example of one of her new followers. Shantal was a "Friendly beer fan" from Butte. She was following:

@ESPN, the world's leading sports brand;
@MarsPhoenix, a long-dead robot on Mars;
@ReutersScience, the news organization;
@KingJames, Lebron James, the NBA star;
@AlexisMadrigal, your faithful correspondent;
and Olivia, a high school student in San Diego.

By 8:25pm, Olivia could announce, "I have hit 3,000 everyone 3,000 porn stars."

Alexis Madrigal's article trying to answer the question Why Did 9,000 Porny Spambots Descend on This San Diego High Schooler? serves as both an introduction for non-techies to the world of Twitter spambots and a reminder of the extent to which the language and practices of social media would be unintelligible to an average reader from twenty years ago.

It's a strange world. Let's keep it that way.

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Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

November 25th, 2013

Timelapse: Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

[Via swissmiss]

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