June 30th, 2014
A quick note for UK-based readers: BBC4 are starting a repeat run for Edge of Darkness later tonight at 10pm 11pm. Not the Mel Gibson remake: the original miniseries with Bob Peck (never better), lashings of paranoia, a bit of fringe environmentalism, and more than a dash of of sheer weirdness. Quite possibly the best miniseries produced by British television in the 1980s, rivalled only by Boys from the Blackstuff and The Beiderbecke Affair (if you don't disqualify the latter from the category of miniseries for having two followup series.)
I haven't seen Edge of Darkness since the original broadcast, and I'm curious as to how it'll look almost 30 years on. I have a horrible feeling that the answer will be "prescient."
[Via The Guardian]
June 29th, 2014
DataShine: Census provides a simple, map-based view of the UK's 2011 census data. I could browse this thing for hours….
The DataShine mapping platform is an output from an ESRC Future Research Leaders Project entitled "Big Open Data: Mining and Synthesis". The overall project seeks promote and develop the use of large and open datasets amongst the social science community. A key part of this initiative is the visualisation of these data in new and informative ways to inspire new uses and generate insights. Phase one has been to create the mapping platform with data from the 2011 Census. The next phases will work on important issues such as representing the uncertainty inherent in many population datasets and also developing tools that will enable the synthesis of data across multiple sources.
[Via Flowing Data]
June 28th, 2014
Experience the thrill of Bounce Below at Llechwedd Slate Caverns:
Bounce Below is the first facility of its kind, a set of three enormous nets within the Llechwedd caverns in Wales – bringing trampolines to whole new terrain…literally. Bounce Below is an underground playground for both adults and children, set deep inside an old mining cavern that is twice the size of St. Paul's Cathedral. [...] a cavern that is lit up by an incredible display of lights and to a collection of 3 trampolines that have been interconnected by stairways and slides – the biggest of which is a 60 foot slide that just adds to the already awesome experience.
I have no head for heights so I don't think this is for me, but it does look pretty amazing.
June 25th, 2014
KILL BILL (Vol 1 and 2) – 8 Bit Cinema:
I was hoping it'd spend more time on the Crazy 88, but despite that omission this is a pretty fun tribute to The Bride's rampage.
June 24th, 2014
The man who hoped to die in a railway crash:
Money. Property. Land. Heirlooms. Whatever the mourners were hoping to inherit when they first gathered for the reading of the will, they were to be sorely disappointed.
Shock. Disbelief. Dismay. Indignation. That's what they got instead. The man they grieved, who had never given them so much as a penny while he breathed, stayed true to the habit of his lifetime.
He'd left everything – the whole kit and caboodle – to his killer. It wasn't a ghastly coincidence, nor the tell-tale sign of murderous greed, but a heartfelt gesture of thanks – appreciation for a job well done. […]
June 24th, 2014
I was vaguely aware that occasionally Google Maps deals with disputes over sovereignty between nations by showing different search results according to the searcher's location, but I hadn't realised just how frequently, and how rapidly this sort of action is required:
Abroad, Google Maps has waded into raw, tender issues of national identity. For example, take its depiction of Crimea on maps.google.com, where a dashed line reflects the U.S. view that the area is an occupied territory. But in Russia, on maps.google.ru, the boundary line is solid – Russia has officially annexed Crimea.
[Via Quartz, via Memex 1.1]
June 23rd, 2014
Reading Shawn Blanc's Command Space: A Review of LaunchBar and a History of Application Launchers, I could only nod in agreement:
Want to launch an app on your Mac? There is, ahem, an app for that.
Whenever I do a clean install of my Mac (which is less often these days), the first application I download is LaunchBar.
Because to me, my application launcher is how I get around my computer. Without LaunchBar installed it's like I'm at a friend's house, trying to navigate to the kitchen in the middle of the night and I can't find the light switches and I keep stubbing my toes on the furniture. […]
I've been using LaunchBar for 11 years and I hope still to be using it 11 years from now. It's the most solid, reliable and downright useful piece of software I've ever installed on a Mac.
I understand that for a lot of people the whole point of a GUI is that you don't have to use the keyboard to make things happen, but in practice there are times when dragging-and-dropping just isn't enough. The way LaunchBar teaches itself the abbreviations you type to select an application or action is just so much more efficient than selecting a file and picking options from the Services menu or the right-click pop-up menu.
The really sad thing is, I occasionally find myself trying to trigger LaunchBar when I'm at work, using a Windows XP computer. It's such a disappointment when I realise why that keystroke didn't do anything useful…
June 23rd, 2014
Having seen Oculus the other night, I was reading the comments at the IMDb and came across a mention of a short film made by Oculus director Mike Flanagan back in 2006 that was related to his feature film debut.
Oculus: Chapter 3 – The Man with the Plan uses many of the same story beats as the current film, so you probably shouldn't watch it if you have any thoughts of watching the feature film because Flanagan's full-length effort really is best seen knowing as little as possible about why these characters are doing this thing they're doing. For anyone who has seen Oculus, the short – which can be viewed in full on Vimeo, is an even more compact – and pretty effective – take on one portion of the same story.
June 22nd, 2014
Paul Ford documents his experience of using Kinja to write content:
the only button left for me to hit is the (HTML) button but god help me i'm honestly scared.
Honestly, quoting text from his post doesn't do it justice. Follow the link to get the full effect.
[Via Waxy.org: Links Miniblog]
June 21st, 2014
June 20th, 2014
Having been pressed by her university to complete paperwork documenting how she spends her time, Mary Beard came across this model response from an academic of a previous generation:
In my 24 hour continental timetable I divide my time each day as follows:
2 hours of pure sleep
1 hour of sleep dreaming about administration
2 hours of sleep dreaming about research
1 hour of sleep dreaming about teaching
½ hour of pure eating
1 hour of eating with research (= reading)
1 hour of eating with colleagues and of conversation on teaching and research
½ hour of pure walking
½ hour of walking with research (= thinking)
12 ½ hours of research with preparation for teaching (= reading, writing or also thinking)
1 hour of official teaching without thinking
1 hour of official administration without thinking
For ever yours
'Nuff said, I think.
June 18th, 2014
Jennifer in paradise: the story of the first Photoshopped image…
"It was a good image to do demos with," Knoll recalls. "It was pleasing to look at and there were a whole bunch of things you could do with that image technically." And maybe there was something in it that hinted at the kind of more perfect world that Photoshop might reveal. Knoll would leave a copy of the software in a package including the picture at the companies he'd visited. Often he'd return to find that the programmers had cloned his wife.
[Via Wis[s]e Words]
June 18th, 2014
June 17th, 2014
Never mind Swift, the programming language of the future is clearly ArnoldC:
Programming language based on the one-liners of Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Although the one-liners of Arnold Schwarzenegger are fairly well known the true semantics of the uttering is yet to be understood. This project tries to discover new meanings from the Arnold movies with the means of computer science.
TALK TO THE HAND "hello world"
YOU HAVE BEEN TERMINATED
Be sure to consult the wiki for further details.
[Via Waxy.org: Links Miniblog]
June 16th, 2014
Maggie Greene has published some scans of a 1980 Chinese adaptation of Star Wars in comic form that diverges from the original in interesting ways:
The actual lianhuanhua is a fascinating document, with weird bits sticking out here and there; but it's also a fanciful imagining (I think) of American – or generalized Western – life, especially evident in the dinner scene where a duck (?) is being stuck into a toaster oven (!) & the table has not only a little hot plate, but a crockpot (or rice cooker) there, too. The artist also makes some amusing flubs – Chewbacca appears in some scenes in a relatively credible way, in others looking like an outtake from Planet of the Apes. It also often looks like something out of a Cold War-era propaganda poster, at least where the details are concerned. Were the actors really garbed in Soviet looking space suits? Was Darth Vader really pacing before a map bearing the location of the Kennedy Space Center?
The art isn't bad at all. If I saw a copy of this with the text translated into English, I'd be tempted to pick this up.
June 13th, 2014
Talking of Kaiju, anyone for a Rampaging Kaiju Garden Gnome?
It all starts out so innocently. You might notice one or two on the ground under a rose bush or near a climbing vine, but you don't think much of it. Then one day you go outside and realize your entire garden has been overrun. What are your options? You could coat everything with some highly-toxic pesticide and hope for the best. Or you could install a Kaiju in your garden, guaranteed to get rid of those pesky gnomes. This guy spares gnone.
June 13th, 2014
Godzilla (2014): The Abridged Script is pretty funny…
EXT. THE PHILIPPINES – 1999
KEN WATANABE and SALLY HAWKINS, who work for a SECRET ORGANIZATION that is so top secret they put their LOGO on their helicopters, and have a LOGO, arrive at a MINING SITE.
MINING SITE GUY
Welcome, Ken and Sally. Check out this enormous fossil we discovered! There's also a giant hole leading to a giant trench where something giant escaped and is headed towards populated areas, but fuck that.
My God, it's… amazing.
And look, two egg-sack things, one of which has hatched! Well, I'm sure Godzilla will be along soon to take care of it, restore balance to Nature etcetera, because that's what he does, right Ken?
My God, it's… still the prologue, Sally, so not yet. […]
Be sure not to miss the caption on the still at the start of the script. Why didn't I notice that when I first saw a clip from that scene in a trailer?
June 13th, 2014
Volkswagen's Eyes on the road public service announcement is equal parts sneaky and shocking:
I think there's a strong argument that – at least until the combined efforts of Google and Uber get us amateurs out from behind the driving wheel of our cars – all cars should be fitted with devices that block mobile phone or WiFi signals while the engine is turning over. Up until about fifteen or twenty years ago we all managed just fine going out into the world without being in constantly available to our friends, family, babysitter and employers, let alone our Twitter/RSS/Facebook feeds and SMS messages. I'm pretty sure we could all cope with being out of contact with the internet for a couple of hours or so.
June 11th, 2014
MeFi user zabuni neatly sums up why some of us have read enough Cory Doctorow novels to last us a lifetime, even if we broadly agree with the political points his books make about the uses and abuses of technology:
I once mocked Doctorow, and said that he wrote EFF fan fiction, he then had his main character (in the sequel to LB) meet the founders of EFF:
At Burning Man.
While playing a game of DnD with them.
DM'ed by Wil Wheaton.
I had to literally say, out loud, "For Fuck's Sake!" to that. […]