A Close Encounter of the Lenticular Kind

April 20th, 2013

APOD: 2013 April 17 – Mt Hood and a Lenticular Cloud.

Mount Hood and the Lenticular Cloud

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Within a week there will be at least two sitcom producers shopping round a show based on this character

April 19th, 2013

The Most Deranged Sorority Girl Email You Will Ever Read:

If you just opened this like I told you to, tie yourself down to whatever chair you're sitting in, because this email is going to be a rough fucking ride.

For those of you that have your heads stuck under rocks, which apparently is the majority of this chapter, we have been FUCKING UP in terms of night time events and general social interactions with Sigma Nu. I've been getting texts on texts about people LITERALLY being so fucking AWKWARD and so fucking BORING. If you're reading this right now and saying to yourself "But oh em gee Julia, I've been having so much fun with my sisters this week!", then punch yourself in the face right now so that I don't have to fucking find you on campus to do it myself. [...]

That was just her getting warmed up. It gets so much better once she gets into her stride.

(I'm moderately sure that the whole thing was written tongue in cheek, but it's so entertainingly batty that I don't particularly care.)

[Via The Morning News]

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An actress from 'Emmerdale' had got her bikini snagged on an immigrant…

April 19th, 2013

The Internet: A Warning From History

[Via The Risks Digest Volume 27: Issue 25]

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You're the boat boss

April 18th, 2013

If the folks behind Leviathan: Warships are as good at writing turn-based strategy games as they are at making trailers for said games then I may have to seriously consider buying Leviathan: Warships when it comes out:

[Via Pop Loser]

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Man of Steel

April 17th, 2013

The latest trailer for Man of Steel looks pretty damned good.1

Trouble is, Zack Snyder's films often have impressive-looking trailers; it's only when you get into cinema that you find out how badly the plot falls short of the visuals. Then again, David S Goyer is pretty good at writing comic book movies, and goodness knows they've had enough examples of what not to do. Eventually they have to get Superman right on the big screen again. Why not in 2013?

[Via Mightygodking dot com]

  1. It makes me feel old to see Kevin Costner playing Pa Kent, but that's just something I'm going to have to live with.

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Time travel

April 17th, 2013

Mr. Dalliard: Time travel in movies. Nice work.

I can't help but notice that the chart's title says "… in movies" but a couple of TV series are included. And yet no Doctor Who. Odd, that.1

[Via The Great Escapism]

  1. Probably fair enough, though, what with the show's treatment of how time travel works is so all over the map that you could probably include it under every single category on the chart.

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'Our moral character dwindles as our instruments get smaller.'

April 14th, 2013

Jan Chipchase's You Lookin' At Me? Reflections on Google Glass. urges us to take advantage of the opportunity we have now that Google Glass is on the verge of escaping into the wild to think about how Glass (or something like it) is going to transform privacy expectations over the next decade or two:

One could argue that the form taken by Glass offers up a lazy futurist's vision of what might be – take the trajectory of one product (displays becoming smaller/cheaper/more efficient over time) and integrate it with another (eyeglasses), sprinkle in connectivity and real-time access to content and big-data-analytics. Our expectations of what it could be are raised in part because this join-the-dots vision of the future fits neatly into Western un/popular young-male culture, from "The Terminator" through to Halo. Glass has a certain inevitability about it, like the weight of expectation on of child born to a great composer or, if you will, to a middle-aged suicide. As any visitor to Yodobashi camera over the past decade will tell you, the hardware technologies that make Glass hardly feel novel (and for recent competitors, see Sony, Golden-i, or this Telepathy device prototype) but neither do they need to be, because this is all about how they are brought together into a holistic experience.

I have a feeling that the prospect of walking round wearing a device that requires an eyeglass-mounted interface is going to be a lot less popular among the ordinary, smartphone-carrying public than Google hope. I can't help but think that if Google/Apple/whoever just pushes speech-driven interfaces a bit further along1 then a fair number of ordinary people will find that the ability to tell their phone to show them maps and directions, pull up details of the person they're speaking to and so on will suffice for now.

Still, even in that scenario we'll have people walking round our towns and cities and homes and workplaces carrying permanently-on devices that default to capturing and storing sound and video2, so almost all the issues Chipchase raises will still apply.

[Via The Browser]

  1. Both in terms of reliability and the ease with which third party applications can use the speech recognition system.
  2. Via a camera mounted on your Bluetooth earpiece?

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Mars 3 Nil, Mars 1

April 13th, 2013

Emily Lakdawalla has posted a fascinating account, translated from the Russian original, of how a group of space enthusiasts combed images of the surface of Mars. Their aim: to find the Mars 3 lander that managed to transmit radio signals for 14 seconds back on 2 December 1971 before falling silent.

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Another Special One

April 12th, 2013

A lovely little story of how Real Madrid's superstar manager José Mourinho lived up to his nickname1 recently when he encountered a fan far away from home:

Abel Rodríguez is a 41-year-old Mexican-American who waxes floors in Los Angeles for Metro Transportation. Real Madrid's José Mourinho is one of the world's most famous managers. On the face of things, the two men have nothing in common. Yet recently they became the central figures in a surreal but true buddy story that took Rodríguez behind the scenes as a member of Real Madrid's team in the biggest games of world soccer against Barcelona and Manchester United. [...]

You can argue that Mourinho and/or Real Madrid could afford to foot the bill for Rodríguez's little European tour, but that's really not the point.

[Via kottke.org]

  1. "The Special One."

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Ding and indeed Dong

April 11th, 2013

Martin Belam, QFT:

Just a thought. I reckon anybody writing a comment piece about whether the BBC should play Judy Garland and "Ding-Dong The Witch Is Dead" as part of the chart run-down at the weekend should be forced to name the current #1 single before they are allowed to hit publish…

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A glimpse of Elysium

April 10th, 2013

Following on from this comment, finally we have a trailer for Neill Blomkamp's Elysium.

Looks reasonably promising: you don't sign up Matt Damon and Jodie Foster if you're just looking to do a mildly futuristic shoot-em-up.

I'm not sure whether Elysium is going to end up being the best science fiction action film of the year,1 but given the talent involved it's got to be in with a shot.

  1. Pacific Rim looks like Transformers-versus-Godzilla but filmed so you can follow the action in th fight sequences. Star Trek Into Darkness may or may not be good but I'm willing to bet it'll be enormous fun, if only to watch everyone bringing the TOS characters to life again. Then there's Riddick, a belated third instalment in a franchise for which I have an enduring soft spot.

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The Doctor Puppet

April 8th, 2013

Doctor Puppet promises to be one of the very best fannish celebrations of the Doctor's 50th anniversary year.

I do hope the BBC's lawyers don't squash it like a bug.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Prince Rupert's Drop

April 6th, 2013

Mystery of Prince Rupert's Drop at 130,000 fps.

[Via More Words, Deeper Hole]

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Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie

April 6th, 2013

Calvin and Hobbes: The Movie (Trailer). Too good to be true, sadly.

[Via ComicsAlliance]

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Platform wars

April 6th, 2013

Comment of the day, from a MetaFilter thread about Facebook Home:

Android allows Facebook to do whatever it wants on the platform, and that means accessing the hardware as well.

So this why when I came downstairs this morning, my wife's Android phone was dancing, dancing around a pot of water boiling on the stove, my iPhone slowly lowering into its roiling depths at the end of some sort of crude winch made from butcher's twine and an eggbeater. In the living room, the Chromebook and Kindle Fire had chased the iPad up a bookshelf, it having seen what the pair did to the Xbox.

And through it all the blue light on the Wii kept blinking, blinking, finally glad nobody has thought about it in years.

posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:19 PM on April 5

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Nostalgia

April 3rd, 2013

Twenty Awesome Covers From The US Space Program. My favourite is the cover for the manual for the NASA/Grumman Apollo Lunar Module: nothing else looks like the LM.1

[Via Extenuating Circumstances]

  1. Who, reading the documentation these covers contained back in the 1960s and even the early 1970s, would have believed that forty years on manned space travel still wouldn't have ventured further out into the solar system than the Apollo missions did? Don't get me wrong, I know the human race has plenty of robots exploring various interesting corners of the solar system and peering out into the wider universe. That's all well and good and I love reading about the things they're finding, but let's cut to the chase: we're running way behind schedule if I'm to live out my retirement years in a modest little cottage with a view out over the Mare Crisium!

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How People Sit in Meetings and What it Really Means

April 2nd, 2013

How People Sit in Meetings and What it Really Means. So accurate.

Unicorn 1030s Pupil Posture

[...]

I'm facing you, sitting straight, with no internet, and I'm actually paying attention to you. Nobody has sat this way in a meeting in 20 years.

I promise you it's not just the words. The illustrations of each type are pretty wonderful too. Go see.

[Via Pop Loser]

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Essential Design Principles for Felines

April 1st, 2013

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox: April 1, 2013 Mobile Usability for Cats: Essential Design Principles for Felines

Other findings:

  • Rapid double and triple taps are common among felines, especially kittens; any response from a multi-tap should be even faster/louder/blinkier than from a single tap.

    [...]

  • Swiping is expected to work from any and every direction, so ensure that your targets are extra responsive and include corresponding sounds.
  • Animation is especially important, including blinking. In fact, if your site or app doesn't animate, it's pretty much useless.
    • This is a revolutionary finding, considering that blinking has been contraindicated in web design ever since it was #3 on the list of top-10 design mistakes of 1996.
  • A sensory-activated "pause mode" is highly suggested, as nearly half the cats randomly stopped what they were doing to lie down on their devices and stretch, nap, or self-groom for extended periods before resuming their tasks.

[Via MetaFilter]

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Free Pie

March 31st, 2013

Sometimes even Free Pie can't make things better.

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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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