Saturday, January 15, 2011

Don't tell me the moon is shining...

Let's dispense with this right up front.  In Slate magazine Farhad Manjoo writes about why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period.  With all due respect and apologies to everyone at work who edits extra spaces out of my writing, he's wrong.  The typewriting class I took in high school (they call it keyboarding these days) taught me to put two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence and because I've gotten more mileage out of that class that perhaps any other I will continue to space space.  It's such a natural part of my typing I can't imagine changing.  It'd be like learning to write left-handed.  Typography, mono-spacing, aesthetics, anachronism, blah, blah.  Maybe Manjoo should not end his name with two "o"s.  (Yes, when your argument is weak all that's left is to make fun of the other person's name.)

Read my lips.  No new hams.

The Siemens PLM blog asked some prominent folks in the CAD biz what they enjoyed reading in 2010 and asked us to resolve to read one of those books in 2011.  Fair enough.  But I was distressed by the number of people who don't, won't, or can't read books.

Sign me up: 1,000 cores on a single CPU.  How bad in your software's user interface?  Let's just hope it doesn't end up in this Flickr set of user interface insults.

The clock in my office (Thanks, Randy!) ticks about as loudly as this metronome

Probably the biggest news in the CFD world this month will be Altair's acquisition of ACUSIM.

The list of the 15 most hated companies of 2010 includes American Airlines, Best Buy, Charter, Citigroup, AT&T, and Dell - all of which I use.  The only one about which I have strong feelings is AT&T who IMO deserves to be on this list.  Can their customer service get any worse?

If you wanted to build a company like Hubspot, here are the key elements: leadership, vision, talent, marketing, and innovation.  If you're a technical person who founded a company, one thing you may have trouble with is deciding when to stop coding.  "My job as a founder is to find a repeatable business model that will make money."

Topologies is a video art installation that illustrates what unstructured meshes might sound like.  Worth watching, especially for my science friends.

Not to be left out, here's an artistic example of structured grids in the art world.  Guaranteed to mesmerize: Dylan Fisher's animated GIFs - they remind me of grids.

Without the "e", email is still mail and the primary form of business communication.  These 10 rules for effective email are good ones to follow.  My addition for rule #11 would be "Keep your signature short."  Nothing's more annoying than a 20 line email signature with name, title, email, phone, fax, address, a pithy quote, and ASCII art - especially when the body of the email is 2 lines long.

Breaking my own rule about infographics, here's Evolution of the Batmobile.  Of course, my favorite is the classic 1966 version from the TV show.  Those flames from the exhaust were boss.

Hadn't heard about this before but the Dept. of Commerce is proceeding with plans to provide each American with a unique online identity.

Fluid dynamics pr0n: high speed video of the Leidenfrost effect (like when you drop water into a hot pan and the bubbles dance around the pan but don't evaporate right away).

Science proves you should pour your champagne like a beer.

Where has all the sp@m gone?  Global sp@m levels dropped by a factor of 4 from August 2010 to year's end.  Another interesting factoid: a single botnet was responsible for almost half of all sp@m.

What is sleep deprivation costing U.S. industry?  In a survey of only four large companies the cost was $54 million a year.

This could be good.  Return to Forever's fourth incarnation (Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Jean-Luc Ponty, Frank Gambale) is going to be touring in 2011.  Why do we love music?  Because it causes your brain to release dopamine, just like enjoying a fine meal.

All too often, list-based articles read like common sense.  It's like Maslow's hierarchy of needs all over again.  One might say that about the top 10 things that all customers want.  For example, "satisfaction" - they want to be satisfied with their purchase knowing that it solves their problem.  FWIW, my top 2 from that list are honesty and courtesy (I take satisfaction as a given).

Here's the first in a series of articles on Are You The Boss You Need To Be?  What got my attention was their cautionary note: don't mistake comfort for real competence.

Lockheed Martin is upgrading tenfold our nation's ability to track orbital debris, from cataloging 20,000 objects to hundreds of thousands of objects.   Be sure to watch the video about the Space Fence.  (Certainly they could've come up with a better name.)

I hear you Vince.

Just say no to clip art.  Here are some ideas about how to use imagery in your presentations.  Here's an example of what not to do with PowerPoint.

Why follow a company on Facebook?  The top motivator (40%) is to get discounts.  Next is to show support (37%).

Nobody get any ideas: some guy hasn't use soap or shampoo in a year.  Massive beef fat spill clogs Houston ship channel.  The best joke I could come up with: this is what the tub looks like when I'm done.  Valentine's Day is coming.  How about a nice jar of Fat Girl Scrub?

Sweet science: for millions of years, unimaginably hot molten rock fell from the sky onto the infant Earth.

Here are 25 ways to improve your web site's calls to action for increased sales.

From the Just Plain Wrong department, someone's editing Huck Finn to replace the N-word with slave.  (Note: this has nothing to do with race and everything to do with literature.)  What's next?  Editing Faulkner?  Fig leaf for David?  Bras for most every painting by Rubens?

Speaking of nude photography, Tactile Mind is a book of nude photography for the blind.  The site has many images of the naughty bits so be careful around small children or big bosses.

I haven't even purchased my floor washing robot and they've already come out with a window washing robot.  On the other hand, I'm not so excited about the dog dung vacuum.

I think the author of Everyone Poops are about 25% misleading.  Apples and other plants don't poop.

Holy shit! Plants may indeed poop: sea slug is part animal, part plant.  The Kama Pootra offers 52 "mind blowing" ways to poop.  Mom said if you're blowing your mind it means you're straining.  Don't do that.  Know what your toilet paper is saying.  Business name fail. Not for the sensitive: From the annals of internal medicine we present In Through the Out Door: X-rays of odd things found in butts.  It's the salad tongs that made me LOL.

Why eyewitnesses can't be trusted: this video demonstrates how motion can hide color changes.  Another case of fooling your senses is the Shepard tone, a sound that seems to be ascending or descending in pitch but yet doesn't actually get higher or lower.

Perfect use of the internet #11: Letterheady is a photo archive of letterhead including examples from MAD Magazine, Dr. Seuss, Harry Houdini and many more.  Not to be outdone, here's a collection of sand.

An auction worth bidding on: NASA is auctioning space memorabilia including this SR-71 wing fragment (current bid $324).

I'm not all that interested in iPhones but this article about e-Cycle, a company that securely recycles your old iPhone (9 million per year), caught my eye because it's based in Hilliard, Ohio.  Hilliard was a sleepy farm community of about 800 people when my father was born and raised there.  Turn your iPhone into a 3D scanner with Trimensional.

Here's a nice short talk by artist Robert Bechtle on one of his influences, Richard Diebenkorn, and specifically Diebenkorn's painting Coffee, 1959.  Bechtle talks about Diebenkorn's sense of composition but also references Diebenkorn's Notes to myself on beginning a painting which is in itself priceless.  I love #10 - Be careful only in a perverse way.

Meanwhile in China, their J-20 stealth fighter is flying.

How croissants are made?  I'd rather know how croissants are pronounced.

MaximumPC magazine offers this list of 12 technologies on the brink of extinction.  First, the 6 on their way out.
  1. Pre-recorded physical media.  I still buy my music on compact disc.  I sound like one of those farts who still prefer vinyl over CD but MP3s have such horribly limited audio quality.  I suppose that's OK if you're listening through ear buds or tiny desktop speakers but a home system?
  2. Stereoscopic (with glasses) 3D TV.  With or without the glasses I don't get it.
  3. eBook readers.  Apparently the authors see multi-function devices (e.g. iPad) as the future.
  4. Consumer-level hard drives.  I can see this happening, a move to solid state disks in laptops and home PCs.
  5. Keys.  Apparently the authors lose their keys, have them stolen, and get holes in their pants from them.  Hardly what I'd call a mandate.  I don't see this happening anytime soon.  Coincidentally, a friend who just got a new car with push-button start said his young daughter made fun of him for being lazy and not using the key.
  6. Handheld gaming consoles.  Again, the authors love their multi-function devices.
Now the 6 that might hang on.
  1. Digital music/media players.  OK, apparently multi-function devices aren't all that.  Or maybe the authors really like their iPod but not so much the Kindle or PSP.
  2. Landline phone.  
  3. Internal combustion automobile engine.  Nobody ain't got a better idea.
  4. The PC, keyboard, and mouse. 
A video map of how Tweets lit up the world on New Year's Eve.

More map pr0n: United Van Lines provides this map of where people are moving from and too.  (Poor Ohio.)  Speaking of Ohio and maps, check out this map of foods by state and note that Ohio's food is Cincinnati-style chili.  I'm hoping it's a bowl of Skyline Chili, a 3-way (over spaghetti and covered with shredded cheddar) with two cheese coneys (hot dogs) on the side.  God I'm hungry.

Why so much Mona Lisa in the news lately?  First, the background location has been determined to be the Italian city of Bobbio.  Second, da Vinci may have been influenced by the writings of Horace and Petrarch. And third, watch her jump.

The angry traveler's guide to obscene gestures.  It all makes sense now. me the glint of light on broken glass.  ~Anton Chekhov


Cathy said...

Actually, Keyboarding is called Touch Systems Data Entry.

Chris said...

"Pre-recorded physical media. I still buy my music on compact disc. I sound like one of those farts who still prefer vinyl over CD but MP3s have such horribly limited audio quality. I suppose that's OK if you're listening through ear buds or tiny desktop speakers but a home system?"

Several year ago I had a musician roommate who said the same about CD's. His medium of choice was DAT ( because it could record at 48khz.

Francis Shivone said...

Pre-recorded physical media. Agree. But vinyl is making a big comeback among young music enthusiasts.

Stereoscopic (with glasses) 3D TV. I don't get it either.

eBook readers. Agree. But I like the one function devices.

Consumer-level hard drives. Agree.

Keys. I sure as hell hope so.

Handheld gaming consoles. Never used one.

Now the 6 that might hang on.

Digital music/media players. Agree.

Landline phone. Old news.

Internal combustion automobile engine. Damn, I hope not.

The PC, keyboard, and mouse. I wouldn't be so sure. Maybe, eventually, but some things, like fire and the paper clip, are hard to compete with when they perform their primary function.

I think I single space now. Yes, I do.

Good article, hadn't thought about that for a long time.

The first job I ever had typeset was done on a hot metal Linotype machine (1973?). About the size of a small room. Loved that thing. BTW, All typesetters were men because of the physical requirements of lugging the hardware around.

John said...

Cathy - so wonderful to have you comment.

John said...


In high school a friend used a 10 inch reel to reel tape deck as his primary audio source - for quality.

I admit to being ignorant of the many formats of music files.

John said...


Just the other day I read a statistic somewhere that said sales of vinyl LPs were up 80% during 2010.

Regarding ebook readers versus multi-function devices, there's a place for both. You don't set the table with a swiss army knife and you don't take fine cutlery into the forest. I have a box of tools and a multi-tool.

Jim said...

Regarding the double spacing - it's also the shortcut when using the iPhone. I am pretty sure MS Word will also have issues with single spacing after periods.

John said...

Jim: Typing on the iPhone is an oxymoron but I'll take any data point that will bolster my case, which is more like a strong opinion than an actual defensible argument.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed a lot of Mona Lisa stuff around as well, have you seen this??

John said...


Thanks for your comment. No, I haven't seen that one. Consider it bookmarked.