Dropbox arbitration

February 26th, 2014

Turns out that the latest change to Dropbox's Terms of Service merits a second look:

If you're a Dropbox user, you probably got an email in the last few days about an update to their TOS that basically puts all disputes into arbitration rather than litigation.

If you're like me, you probably glossed over this update because gah, legalese.

Allow me to summarize what it means when a company wants to handle all disputes in arbitration [...]

Basically, if you'd prefer not to have Dropbox choose who gets to decide whether they did something wrong, you have a limited amount of time to opt out of their new TOS. You may think this is no big deal but it's still good to be aware of your options,1 especially when they're time-limited.

Kudos to Tiffany Bridge and Khoi Vinh for bringing this to their readers' attention.

[Via Subtraction.com]

  1. So what happens if most people opt out? Perhaps Dropbox conclude that their users don't like losing the option to take legal action against the company and learn a lesson from that. Alternatively, they decide they'd be much happier dealing with users who are willing to forego the option of litigation if there's a dispute and bring the clause back in the next TOS revision, only this time without the option of opting-out. At which point Dropbox users have a decision to make.

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Godzilla Returns

February 25th, 2014

Judging by the first full trailer, this year's take on Godzilla looks bigger, meaner and a whole lot scarier than the version who chased Matthew Broderick around New York back in 1998:

They're gonna need a bigger Jaeger.

[Via MetaFilter]

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The TARDIS of furniture

February 24th, 2014

Roentgen Objects are genuinely remarkable pieces of furniture:

The furniture is a process – an event – a seemingly endless sequence of new spatial conditions and states expanding outward into the room around it.

Each piece is a controlled explosion of carpentry with no real purpose other than to test the limits of volumetric self-demonstration, offering little in the way of useful storage space and simply showing off, performing, a spatial Olympics of shelves within shelves and spaces hiding spaces.

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Candid superhero moments

February 22nd, 2014

Candid superhero moments by Phil Noto:

Nothing shows off Phil Noto's ability to place characters in the decade of his choosing better than his candid Marvel sketches. Emulating vintage color pallettes and film stock, each moment is infused with a small slice of Americana. [...]

Some gorgeous work on that page. My favourite has to be the last:

Franklin Richards meets The Hulk

[Via zombieflanders, commenting at MetaFilter]

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Leia's a perfectly good name, though…

February 22nd, 2014

I'm indebted to Stu for reminding me of this perfect epilogue to Spaced, which I believe can be found on the DVD boxset:

Awwwww.

[Via feeling listless]

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The Centre of the World

February 21st, 2014

According to the New York Times the center of the world isn't where you'd have expected to find it:

The town [of Felicity, California], established in 1986, consists of the Istels’ home and a half-dozen other buildings that the couple built on 2,600 acres in the middle of the desert near Yuma, Ariz., just off Interstate 8. At the north end, up an imposing staircase, sits the Church on the Hill at Felicity – inspired by a little white chapel in Brittany – that Istel built in 2007. The church is gorgeous and serene and looks eerily out of place, though less out of place than the 21-foot-tall stone-and-glass pyramid on the opposite end of town. The pyramid is there to mark the exact center of the world.

The founder of the town of Felicity, Jacques-André Istel, has led a really interesting, not to say distinctly eccentric, life.

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Notice to vacate premises

February 18th, 2014

Why Jerusalem renters are wary of the Messiah's arrival:

In apartment contracts around the city, there are clauses stipulating what will happen to the apartment if or when the Jewish Messiah, or mashiach, comes. The owners, generally religious Jews living abroad, are concerned that he will arrive, build a third temple, and turn Israel into paradise – and they will be stuck waiting for their apartment tenants' contracts to run out before they can move back.

[Via Slacktivist]

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' … the most lunatic thing I've seen on a piece of silicon since I found out the MIPS architecture had runtime-mutable endianness.'

February 17th, 2014

I bookmarked Mike Hoye's Citation Needed weeks ago but never got round to posting a link here. Unfortunately I've forgotten where I came across the link to this piece in the first place, but I can't let that stop me. If this is the sort of thing you like, you'll enjoy this a lot:

"Should array indices start at 0 or 1? My compromise of 0.5 was rejected without, I thought, proper consideration." – Stan Kelly-Bootle

Sometimes somebody says something to me, like a whisper of a hint of an echo of something half-forgotten, and it lands on me like an invocation. The mania sets in, and it isn't enough to believe; I have to know.

I've spent far more effort than is sensible this month crawling down a rabbit hole disguised, as they often are, as a straightforward question: why do programmers start counting at zero?

Now: stop right there. By now your peripheral vision should have convinced you that this is a long article, and I'm not here to waste your time. But if you're gearing up to tell me about efficient pointer arithmetic or binary addition or something, you're wrong. You don't think you're wrong and that's part of a much larger problem, but you're still wrong. [...]

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Lockitron

February 15th, 2014

I can't help but think that the Lockitron is a solution in search of a problem:

Lockitron is the first device that lets you lock and unlock your door from anywhere in the world using any phone, all while installing on your door in under a minute. With Lockitron you can instantly share access with your family and friends, on a temporary or permanent basis. Lockitron will even send you alerts when a loved one comes home or someone knocks at the door.

If I want to "share access" to my house with family and friends I'm not sure that using the internet to do it is inherently superior to handing them a spare key or, you know, inviting them to ring the doorbell so I can let them in.

[Via bb-blog, via swissmiss]

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Regeneration

February 14th, 2014

Regenerative Candle Forms New Ones As It Melts:

Candles lend themselves extremely well to recycling, but the only problem is that it often requires some effort on your part, and the potential to make a mess. The Rekindle candlestick holder from Benjamin Shine on the other hand, takes care of all the hard work for you, and only requires that you insert a new wick every time your candle is “reborn.”

Neat. Literally and figuratively speaking.

[Via The Morning News]

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Stormscapes

February 13th, 2014

More weather, this time a collection of Stormscapes:

At several points during that video I was fully expecting the clouds to part as a Spielbergesque spaceship descended.1

[Via kottke.org]

  1. You know the sort of thing: big, shaped and lit like a particularly sparkly Xmas tree decoration, gliding slowly and almost silently towards a group of awestruck humans who've suddenly come to understand just how small and primitive and young the human race is.

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Now? Right here?

February 13th, 2014

Michael Shainblum's image of the Burj Khalifa being struck by lightning doesn't deserve to be embedded here in scaled-down form: follow that link and see it properly. It's worth it.

(I do hope there was a mad scientist at the top of the tower, cackling maniacally as he tried to tap the power of the lightning storm to breathe life into his creation. Seems like such a waste of a good lightning bolt, otherwise…)

[Via Bad Astronomy]

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Spin, spin, spin…

February 12th, 2014

From the [pen|keyboard] of The Yorkshire Ranter: Dave from PR in the French Revolution

Being a Salmagundi from the Talking-Pointes of the late Sieur Davide du Camerone, Gentleman of the Privy and Counsellier upon the Fourth Estate to his most Catholic Majesty, the late King Louis XVI

An unexpectedly large forecast error in the Budget leads Finance Minister Necker to call an emergency Estates-General:

We’re all in this together. Only a balanced parliament reflecting the national consensus to deal with the debt can keep us from ending up like Spain. M. Colbert didn’t fix the roof while the sun was shining, but His Majesty is determined to get our finances in surplus by 1792. That’s on a rolling five-year cash basis excluding interventions in North America and royal mistresses.

[…]

[FX: Applause]

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Colourful

February 12th, 2014

Saprotrophs, Mesophiles, Psychrophiles and More…

Mold gets a bum rap. [...]

Moldy

[Via swissmiss]

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Disturbing

February 11th, 2014

VSE OK. Just go and read it: you won't be disappointed.

[Via Pop Loser]

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A Geology lesson in a single image

February 9th, 2014

Faults in Xinjiang:

Faults in Xinjiang : Image of the Day

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Tale of the Transcriptionist's Tape

February 8th, 2014

Matt Seidel works as a transcriptionist:

The best transcriptionist is one who doesn’t attract notice to his work. Unlike the translator, whose work is always a form of betrayal – traduttore, traditore [translator, traitor] goes the famous Italian saying – the transcriber aims for nothing short of absolute fidelity. And thus, given that my job is literally to reproduce the material as accurately as possible, I am only as good as my material. So what keeps me motivated? Well, it's the hope that one day – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon – I will transcribe an iconic line. I often think of those fast-typing legends of yore, whether their hands trembled while captioning, commas and all, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

The company I freelance for has its own voice recognition software. Its engineers run client audio files through the software to produce a rough transcript that can be quite accurate depending on the recording. After being thus processed, the files are placed on an online marketplace, at which point the editor logs on to choose one to transcribe. The editor can see information about each file: the client, running time, and price per minute. An audio and visual preview is also available so that one can avoid the most difficult files – faint recordings seemingly set in a wind tunnel and featuring multiple motor-mouthed speakers with accents that confound the voice-recognition technology, which is set to American English. These files lure in many a young transcriber by offering higher rates, but wily veterans know to search for the hidden gems that maximize one's dollar-to-effort ratio (which reflects the real hourly rate more accurately than the dollar per audio minute does). My greatest such discovery was a documentary about a wandering yogi wherein three total words were spoken, two of which were subtitled and needed only a [SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE] tag. I measure every new project against this Platonic ideal.

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Just Ella

February 8th, 2014

Jim Munroe's short film Just Ella features "perhaps the first cinematic example of autocomplete used for a dramatic reveal." And yet it's still worth watching:

[Via jwz]

1 Comment »

Poshest. Things. Ever!

February 7th, 2014

The 28 Poshest Things That Have Ever Happened.

Assuming that it's not a Photoshop job, they left the worst until last:

28. And this velvet-covered Porsche

Velvet-covered Porsche

Why would you do that to a poor, defenceless car? Why?!?

[Via LinkMachineGo!]

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Small and Perfectly Formed

February 7th, 2014

Gary Card's illustrations of every Prince hair style from 1978 to 2013 are very cute. Downright hypnotic, even:

[Via kottke.org]

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