Keeping my spelling-checker busy

May 31st, 2014

From Paul Ford's It Is Impossible to Believe How Mindblowing These Amazing New Jobs Are:

Are you a native full-stack visiongineer who lives to marketech platishforms? Then come work with us as an in-house NEOLOGIZER and reimaginatorialize the verbalsphere! If you are a slang-slinger who is equahome in brandegy and advertorial, a total expert in brandtech and techvertoribrand, and a first-class synergymnast, then this will be your rockupation! Throw ginfluence mingles and webutante balls, the world is your joyster. The percandidate will have at least five years working as a ideator and envisionary or equiperience.

A paragraph which inspired by far the best comment I've read today:

Jeb Hoge
DAMMIT, WORDS MEAN THINGS

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Ayn Rand's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

May 30th, 2014

From Ayn Rand's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:

Harry and Ron stood before the Mirror of Erised. "My God," Ron said. "Harry, it's your dead parents."

Harry's eyes flicked momentarily over to the mirror. "So it is. This information is neither useful nor productive. Let us leave at once, to assist Hagrid in his noble enterprise of raising as many dragon eggs as he sees fit, in spite of our country's unjust dragon-trading restrictions."

"But it's your parents, Harry," Ron said. Ron never really got it.

Harry sighed. "The fundamental standard for all relationships is the trader principle, Ron."

"I don't understand," Ron said.

"Of course you don't," said Harry affectionately. "This principle holds that we should interact with people on the basis of the values we can trade with them – values of all sorts, including common interests in art, sports or music, similar philosophical outlooks, political beliefs, sense of life, and more. Dead people have no value according to the trader principle."

"But they gave birth to y–"

"I made myself, Ron," Harry said firmly.

Wait until you get to the line at the very end about Hermione. Classic.

[Via kottke.org]

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How do we build an Internet we're not ashamed of?

May 29th, 2014

Having finally got round to reading the transcript of Maciej Cegłowski's Beyond Tellerrand 2014 Conference Talk , I can but report that – as usual – he talked a lot of sense:

One reason there's a backlash against Google glasses is that they try to bring the online rules into the offline world. Suddenly, anything can be recorded, and there's the expectation (if the product succeeds) that everything will be recorded. The product is called 'glass' instead of 'glasses' because Google imagines a world where every flat surface behaves by the online rules. [The day after this talk, it was revealed Google is seeking patents on showing ads on your thermostat, refrigerator, etc.]

Well, people hate the online rules!

Google's answer is, wake up, grandpa, this is the new normal. But all they're doing is trying to port a bug in the Internet over to the real world, and calling it progress.

You can dress up a bug and call it a feature. You can also put dog crap in the freezer and call it ice cream. But people can taste the difference.

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Very non-enterprise

May 27th, 2014

The future that everyone forgot:

I came across a website whose purpose was to provide a super detailed list of every handheld computing environment going back to the early 1970's. It did a great job except for one glaring omission: the first mobile platform that I helped develop. The company was called Danger, the platform was called hiptop, and what follows is an account of our early days, and a list of some of the "modern" technologies we shipped years before you could buy an iOS or Android device. […]

[Via The Tao of Mac]

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The whale awaits your judgment

May 24th, 2014

Robin Sloan contemplates The Moby-Dick variations:

Where does one novel end and another one begin?

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Ducklings vs. Stairs

May 23rd, 2014

Ducklings vs. Stairs:

Epic is the only word for it…

[Via MetaFilter]

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Jaws, covered

May 22nd, 2014

It's not entirely clear whether it was a design exercise or a cover that was actually published, but either way I have to admire the simplicity and elegance of Tom Lenartowicz's cover for Peter Benchley's Jaws:

Jaws cover illustration

[Via kottke.org]

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David Lynch's Return of the Jedi

May 20th, 2014

David Lynch's Return of the Jedi:

Had he agreed to direct ROTJ I don't think there's any chance whatsoever that Lynch would have got to give the conclusion of the Original Trilogy a properly Lynchian feel. But it's fun to imagine, isn't it…

Even better, imagine the path Lynch's career could have taken if he'd been credited with directing a bona fide blockbuster and he'd had his pick of mainstream Hollywood's hottest projects. Can you imagine David Lynch's Titanic? David Lynch's Fight Club?

Then again, that path might not have led Lynch to Twin Peaks, and that's too high a price to pay.1

[Via MetaFilter]

  1. Sorry Dave, back to total creative freedom on lowish budgets and critical respect you go.

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State of MetaFilter

May 19th, 2014

Matt Haughey posted some bad news on MetaTalk today:

Today I need to share some unfortunate news: because of serious financial downturn, MetaFilter will be losing three of its moderators to layoffs at the end of this month. What that means for the site and the site's future are described below.

While MetaFilter approaches 15 years of being alive and kicking, the overall website saw steady growth for the first 13 of those years. A year and a half ago, we woke up one day to see a 40% decrease in revenue and traffic to Ask MetaFilter, likely the result of ongoing Google index updates. We scoured the web and took advice of reducing ads in the hopes traffic would improve but it never really did, staying steady for several months and then periodically decreasing by smaller amounts over time.

[…]

Where we are headed

The site is currently and has been for several months operating at a significant loss. If nothing were to change, MeFi would defaulting on bills and hitting bankruptcy by mid-summer. As a result, I'm having to make the difficult decision to lay off employees to make up for budget shortfalls. Starting June 1st, we'll be operating with a smaller moderator staff. […]

Not the sort of MetaFilter link I usually post here!

MetaFilter is one of the best, most consistently interesting online communities on the web; not just because of the links people post there, but because over the years it has hosted some of the most entertaining and informative comment threads I've seen on the internet. Since the Death of Usenet, it's been my number one source of civilised discussion online, and it's a terrible shame that it looks as if Google's tweaking of their search algorithm may have hit the site hard, despite MetaFilter being about as far from a linkfarm as it's possible to be.

If you've enjoyed the various links I've posted here over the years that came from MetaFilter, please consider dropping by the site and sending them a donation via PayPal (the donation link is at the foot of that page, under the subheading Supporting MetaFilter. Or even making it a recurring monthly donation if, like me, you use MetaFilter regularly.

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Imagine Facebook with safe words

May 18th, 2014

After visiting Kink.com's studios at The Armory,1 Kate Losse shares Further Notes on Kink as a Platform:

The first thing our tour guide wanted to make sure we understood was that not only is tourist photography fine at Kink, it is also encouraged, as is posting photos from Kink to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. "If you feel inspired to enter a cage and pose for pictures, please do!" the guide said enthusiastically, cautioning us only that the professional performers in the building were not fair game for photos/friend requests unless asked. "Just because you've seen someone's asshole doesn't mean they want to be your friend on Facebook," our guide admonished.

This was the first of many uncanny moments I felt during the tour, where a porn platform representative was laying down rules for social media that are more explicit than those of social media companies themselves. When was the last time a social media platform told you the house rules for friending or distributing information? For social media platforms, all information flow is good flow. At Kink, there are rules, and the proprietors of the platform wanted to make sure we knew them. […]

[Via The Baffler]

  1. Home page link contains only one image, perfectly work-safe – it's of a building! – but may be deemed by some employers to be NSFW even so, because the page mentions what sort of activities go on inside. Links deeper into the site are almost certainly NSFW.

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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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