"fun" entries

Four short links: 22 March 2012

Four short links: 22 March 2012

Watercolor Maps, Inside Displays, Numbers API, and Chinese Mobile Activations Boom

  1. Stamen Watercolour Maps — I saw a preview of this a week or two ago and was in awe. It is truly the most beautiful thing I’ve seen a computer do. It’s not just a clever hack, it’s art. Genius. And they’re CC-licensed.
  2. Screens Up Close — gorgeous microscope pictures of screens, showing how great the iPad’s retina display is.
  3. Numbers API — CUTE! Visit it, even if you’re not a math head, it’s fun.
  4. China Now Leads the World in New iOS and Android Device Activations (Flurry) — interesting claim, but the graphs make me question their data. Why have device activations in the US plummeted in January and February even as Chinese activations grew? Is this an artifact of collection or is it real?
Comments: 2
Four short links: 5 March 2012

Four short links: 5 March 2012

Video Encoding, Content Identification, Mobile Numbers, and Unicode Fun

  1. Pirates Adopt H.264 — no more XViD encoded avi files, now it’s x264. I’m impressed by the rigid rules and structure of The Scene.
  2. YouTube’s ContentID Disputes Are Judged By The Accuser (Andy Baio) — the last couple years have seen a dramatic rise in Content ID abuse, using it for purposes that it was never intended. Scammers are using Content ID to steal ad revenue from YouTube video creators en masse, with some companies claiming content they don’t own, deliberately or not. The inability to understand context and parody regularly leads to “fair use” videos getting blocked, muted or monetized.
  3. The Month of 50% in Mobile (Luke Wroblewski) — 47.6% of mobile Internet users use native mobile apps and 47.5% use the Web browser on their devices. This is the first time (in ComScore data) native apps have had more use than the browser.
  4. Fake Unicode Consortium — excellent collection of better names for Unicode characters. My favourite: U+0CA0: MONOCLE OF DISAPPROVAL. (via Tom Christiansen)
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Four short links: 8 February 2012

Four short links: 8 February 2012

Text Mining, Unstoppable Sociality, Unicode Fun, and Scholarly Publishing

  1. Mavunoan open source, modular, scalable text mining toolkit built upon Hadoop. (Apache-licensed)
  2. Cow Clicker — Wired profile of Cowclicker creator Ian Bogost. I was impressed by Cow Clickers […] have turned what was intended to be a vapid experience into a source of camaraderie and creativity. People create communities around social activities, even when they are antisocial. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Unicode Has a Pile of Poo Character (BoingBoing) — this is perfect.
  4. The Research Works Act and the Breakdown of Mutual Incomprehension (Cameron Neylon) — an excellent summary of how researchers and publishers view each other and their place in the world.
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Four short links: 1 November 2011

Four short links: 1 November 2011

Code Bloat, Chinese Startups, Font Fun, and Businesses Embracing Open Source

  1. Things Turbo Pascal is Smaller Than — next time you’re bragging about your efficient code, spare a thought for the Pascal IDE and compiler that lived in 39,731 bytes. This list of more bloated things is hilarious.
  2. The China Startup Report (Slideshare) — interesting to see the low salary comes with expectation of bonuses but little interest in equity (as there are few exits other than IPO, for reasons the presentation goes into).
  3. Shape Method — fun HTML5 challenge that will also expand your appreciation of fonts.
  4. Open Source All The Things! — SparkFun looking aggressively for things to “open source” from their business. I have a lot of time for companies that contribute to the commons above and beyond their legally-mandated minimum, particularly those who aren’t just dumping their unwanted junk there. Google does this well, Facebook is learning. Good on ya, SparkFun.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 2 September 2011

Four short links: 2 September 2011

AutoUpdater, Extrapolation Apocalypse, C Compilers, and Authentication

  1. Invisible Autoupdater: An App’s Best Feature — Gina Trapani quotes Ben Goodger on Chrome: The idea was to give people a blank window with an autoupdater. If they installed that, over time the blank window would grow into a browser.
  2. Crackpot Apocalypse — analyzing various historical pronouncements of the value of pi, paper author concludes “When πt is 1, the circumference of a circle will coincide with its diameter,” Dudley writes, “and thus all circles will collapse, as will all spheres (since they have circular cross-sections), in particular the earth and the sun. It will be, in fact, the end of the world, and … it will occur in 4646 A.D., on August 9, at 4 minutes and 27 seconds before 9 p.m.” Clever commentary and a good example when you need to show people the folly of inappropriate curve-fitting and extrapolation.
  3. clang — C language family front-ends to LLVM. Development sponsored by Apple, as used in Snow Leopard. (via Nelson Minar)
  4. OmniAuth — authenticate against Twitter, GitHub, Facebook, Foursquare, and many many more. OmniAuth is built from the ground up on the philosophy that authentication is not the same as identity. (via Tony Stubblebine)
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Four short links: 2 August 2011

Four short links: 2 August 2011

UAV Sniffing, Wicked Problems, Online Classes, and Whisky Science

  1. DIY UAVs for Cyber-Warface — aerial drone that poses as celltower, sniffs wifi, cracks passwords, and looks badass. The photo should be captioned “IM IN UR SKIES, SNIFFIN UR GMAIL SESSION COOKIEZ.” (via Bryan O’Sullivan)
  2. Wicked Problems (Karl Schroeder) — a category of problem which, once you read the definition, you recognize everywhere. 5. Every solution to a wicked problem is a “one-shot operation”; because there is no opportunity to learn by trial and error, every attempt counts significantly. I like Karl’s take: our biggest challenges are no longer technological. They are issues of communication, coordination, and cooperation. These are, for the most part, well-studied problems that are not wicked. The methodologies that solve them need to be scaled up from the small-group settings where they currently work well, and injected into the DNA of our society–or, at least, built into our default modes of using the internet. They then can be used to tackle the wicked problems.
  3. Stanford AI Class — Peter Norvig teaching an AI class at Stanford with online open participation. Joins Archaeology of Ancient Egypt in league of university classes where anyone can join in. The former will let you register with Stanford (presumably for $$$) to join the class. The latter lets you audit for free, as the class will be run in open and transparent fashion. The former will be supported by the for-sale textbook, the latter by freely-downloadable readings.
  4. Sensory and Chemical Analysis of “Shackleton’s” Mackinlay Scotch Whisky (PDF) — Three cases of Mackinlay’s Rare Highland Malt whisky were excavated from the ice under Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 expedition base camp hut at Cape Royds in Antarctica in January 2010. The majority of the bottles were in a pristine state of preservation and three were returned to Scotland in January 2011 for the first sensory and organoleptic analysis of a Scotch malt whisky distilled in the late 1890s. I love science where figures have captions like: Principal component analysis (PCA) of peat derived congeners in peated whisky and new-make spirit. I hope the finders got to drink at least some of it, but sentences like this make it seem improbable: The three whisky bottles, minus the whisky sampled via the syringe for this work, will be returned to New Zealand and the Antarctic Heritage Trust will subsequently return the artefacts to Antarctica and place them back under the floor of Shackleton’s hut for posterity. (via Chris Heathcote)
Comment: 1
Four short links: 4 July 2011

Four short links: 4 July 2011

God Games, Digitised History, git Database, and App Framework

  1. Let There Be Smite (Pippin Barr) — simple diversion for the 4th of July. It won’t be easy for God to save America. (via Pippin’s blog)
  2. Basel Wear — to answer the question I know was burning on your lips: “what *did* the Swiss wear in 1634?” Impressively detailed pictures from a 1634 book that is now online. One of the reasons I’m in favour of digitizing cultural collections is that we’re more likely to encounter them on the net and so ask questions like “how did people dress in 1634?”, “why did everyone carry keys?”, and “what is a Sexton?”
  3. databranches: Using git as a Database it’s important to approach your design for using git as a database from the perspective of automated merging. Get the merging right and the rest will follow. I’ve chosen to use the simplest possible merge, the union merge: When merging parent trees A and B, the result will have all files that are in either A or B, and files present in both will have their lines merged (and possibly reordered or uniqed).
  4. Joshfire — open source (dual-licensed GPLv2 and commercial) multiplatform development framework built on HTML5.
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Four short links: 15 June 2011

Four short links: 15 June 2011

Hacker Fun, GameBoy in Javascript, Global Mobile Data Prices, and Shackled Science

  1. HackerTyper — finally, a way to type like they do in the movies. (via Mark Jason Dominus)
  2. GameBoy Emulator in Javascript — I continue to be astonished at what can now be emulated/written in Javascript. GameBoys are classics for retro game programming and there are plenty of toolkits for creating games for desktop systems. I wonder how long until the coding kits move to the browser too…. (via Andy Baio)
  3. Pay As You Go SIM Data Wiki — wiki attempting to list all the prices you can expect to pay around the world for data SIMs. Travellers, take note. (via Nelson Minar)
  4. Science Shackled by IPR (Guardian) — it is estimated that some 20% of individual human genes have been patented already or have been filed for patenting. As a result, research on certain genes is largely restricted to the companies that hold the patents, and tests involving them are marketed at prohibitive prices. We believe that this poses a very real danger to the development of science for the public good. (via Gabriella Coleman)
Comment: 1
Four short links: 14 June 2011

Four short links: 14 June 2011

ASCII Diagrams, Bayesian Textbook, Telehacks Interview, and Table Resizing in CSS

  1. ASCII Flow — create ASCII diagrams. Awesome. (via Hacker News)
  2. Principles of Uncertainty — probability and statistics textbook, for maths students to build up to understanding Bayesian reasoning.
  3. Playable Archaeology: An Interview with the Telehacks Anonymous Creator (Andy Baio) — The inspiration was my son. I had shown him the old movies Hackers, Wargames, and Colossus: The Forbin Project and he really liked them. After seeing Hackers and Wargames, he really wanted to start hacking stuff on his own. I’d taught him some programming, but I didn’t want him doing any actual hacking, so I decided to make a simulation so he could telnet to hosts, hack them, and get the feel of it, but safely. (Andy was the interviewer, not the creator)
  4. Responsive Data Tables — CSS ways to reformat data tables if the screen width is inadequate for the default table layout. (via Keith Bolland)
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Four short links: 23 March 2011

Four short links: 23 March 2011

Health Prediction, Fake Ads, Bogus Patents, and Realtime Graphing

  1. The Heritage Health Competition — Netflix-like contest to analyze insurance-claims data to develop a model that predicts the number of days a patient will spend in hospital in the coming year. $3M prize. (via Aza Raskin)
  2. Historically Hardcore — fantastic fake Smithsonian ads that manage to make the institution sexy. Naturally they’ve been asked to take them down.
  3. Another Plato Innovation Ignored — turns out the above-the-fold doodle has a long and glorious history, culminating in a fantastic demonstration of our broken patent system.
  4. GraphiteEnterprise scalable realtime graphing. Apache 2.0-licensed, written in Python. (via John Nunemaker)
Comment: 1