Winter on Georgian Bay

May 18th, 2014

Highlights of a four month-long Winter on Georgian Bay, captured by way of cheap hardware and some clever software that tried to ensure that the time-lapse images were taken in similar lighting conditions:

Pleasingly, it turned out to be a particularly turbulent winter, so the lake got to freeze and partially thaw quite a few times.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Pale Blue and White Dot

May 18th, 2014

A new Earthrise over the Moon, courtesy of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter:

Earthrise

Be sure to follow the first link to see the whole image.

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The Infinite Space Between Words

May 17th, 2014

Inspired by one of the more thought-provoking scenes in Spike Jonze's Her, Jeff Atwood finds a really neat way to help us visualise just how fast modern computers can transfer bits back and forth in The Infinite Space Between Words:

So instead of travelling to Pluto to get our data from disk in 1999, today we only need to travel to … Jupiter.

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Spoilers! (Not really.)

May 17th, 2014

I'm not going to supply any context at all for Guy thinks his sister is hot because it's so much better that way. Trust me.

[Via Ask MetaFilter]

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Watch the ray cats

May 14th, 2014

This week's 99% Invisible podcast discussed recent efforts to figure out how to warn our great-to-the-Nth grandchildren about the risks of nuclear waste being stored at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, given the distinct possibility that language will have drifted over the course of 10,000 years to the point where a sign saying 'DANGER: Radioactive waste!' may not be understood.

The most hands-down 99pi favorite solution, though, didn't come from the WIPP brainstorm – rather, it came out of the Human Interference Task Force, a similar panel that was pulled together in 1981 for the now-defunct Yucca Mountain project. It was proposed by two philosophers, Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri.

Bastide and Fabbri came to the conclusion that the most durable thing that humanity has ever made is culture: religion, folklore, belief systems. They may morph over time, but an essential message can get pulled through over millennia. They proposed that we genetically engineer a species of cat that changes color in the presence of radiation, which would be released into the wild to serve as living Geiger counters. Then, we would create folklore and write songs and tell stories about these "ray cats," the moral being that when you see these cats change colors, run far, far away.

Makes you wonder if there's some bit of puzzling animal behaviour going on all around us right now about which the folklore has failed to be passed down or got distorted. Instead of pointing and laughing at all those Animals Sucking at Jumping as it becomes clear what terrible, long-forgotten threat they were trying to warn us about?

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9% of Brits think that pop music is better now than it was 20 years ago

May 14th, 2014

15 weird things that 9% of Britons say they believe:

If Labour are having a tough time in the polls, the Lib Dems are facing a European wipe out.

The latest YouGov figures on how people are intending to vote in the European Elections put Lib Dem support at 9%. Our friends at UsVsTh3m noticed this was significantly lower than the number of people who would be prepared to have sex with an android.

We wondered what other things more than 9% of the British public believe, would be prepared to do, or have done…

[…]

10. Eat testicles
Not just the preserve of Bushtucker Trials in I'm A Celeb, 9% of people in the UK said they would be prepared to eat animal testicles. Remember, that's the same amount of people who say they'll vote Lib Dem.

Gloating? Perhaps. But it's a welcome distraction from contemplating UKIP's polling numbers.

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

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'Banking is exciting work!'

May 13th, 2014

I'm thinking that Re-Thinking the Game of Monopoly makes it rather less of a fun game for all the family. Which is the point, I suppose:

While it's true our culture proclaims the rich as our greatest heroes, the method of financial gain in Monopoly is not a system that allows for any creativity. Roll the dice, buy a property, pay rent, pass go, and collect $200. Repeat.

Simple models have long been used to help understand complex ideas. With a few small changes Monopoly can be a space where we can play at being in control of the economic system. All it takes is a few new rules.

Rule Change #1: The Banker

In the original rules the role of the banker is simply a chore–the board game equivalent of taking out the trash. But in real life the banker is no passive entity. The banker is the center of the universe. […]

[Via Waxy.org Links]

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The Roast in the Fridge

May 12th, 2014

The Roast in the Fridge:

"Don't scream. Don't make any noise, lady, and you won't get hurt."

I had been asleep in bed next to my mother with Sasha, the Persian cat we jokingly referred to as our "watch cat", curled up at the foot.

I was 3 years old.

That night, a strange man came in through the bedroom window of our Los Angeles ranch house and placed his hand (described later to police as "heavily calloused") over my unconscious mother's mouth. […]

I can assure you that Erika Hall's story from her childhood isn't going where you think it is. Well Worth a Read.

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

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Programmer speed versus computer speed

May 11th, 2014

Basecamp partner and Ruby On Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson outlines the lessons learned from developing three generations of of Basecamp client apps for mobile devices.

The short version:

Decisions based on computing speeds quickly decay

The longer version (i.e. the full post) spells out just why there's no one right answer to the problem of using a mobile device to view data being pulled from a server.

I love this sort of walkthrough of software architecture decision-making.

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Johnny Express

May 10th, 2014

Meet Johnny Express:

It's 2150

There are all sorts of Aliens living throughout space.

Johnny is a Space Delivery Man who travels to different planets to deliver packages. Johnny is lazy and his only desire is to sleep in his autopilot spaceship. When the spaceship arrives at the destination, all he has to do is simply deliver the box. However, it never goes as planned. Johnny encounters strange and bizarre planets and always seems to cause trouble on his delivery route.

Will he be able to finish his mission without trouble?

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