Saturday, April 2, 2011

Be regular and orderly in your life...

Today's soundtrack brought to you by Stick Men and their album Live in Buenos Aires 2011.  (Open in new tab, start play, and come back here.)

If we learned how and why the brain appreciates a painting by Robert Motherwell would it be as much of a downer as revealing how David Copperfield does his magic tricks?  After all, a working knowledge of grammar doesn't make Shakespeare any less wonderful.  This issue is at the core of The Tell-Tale Brain, A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes us Human.  The author hypothesizes that abstract artists are "tapping into the figural primitives of our perceptual grammar and creating ultranormal stimuli that more powerfully excite certain visual neurons in our brains as opposed to realistic-looking images."  One might argue that this is precisely what Rothko was attempting.

I can't see them either, those 4 circles.

Although it sounds like a kitchen appliance, pyFormex is software for working with 3D geometery.  One of the things it does is generate grids for CFD.   Although I've never programmed in Python, here's another link for you: PySide, Python for Qt.
    Part 2 of the essential visualization resources bring us programming languages. NEi Stratus let's you do finite element analysis on your iPhone.

    Lightning Talks are a staple of the annual Business of Software conference.  Here's Patrick McKenzie from the 2010 event.
    • Interested in organized and maintainable CSS?  Check out this conversation on Hacker News and be sure to follow the links.
    • Forms are hard to do well on a web site.  Here's a gallery of web forms done right.
    • Color (or colour) is a big part of the user experience.
    • HTML5 is all that and a bag of chips and here are 5 steps from XHTML to HTML5

    Pure web geekery.  You've used text-align: center; - now try text-align: centaur;

    If you collect free graphics and icons, here's a set of social media icons.

    Time magazine presents the 140 best Twitter feeds.  (140 - get it?)   Of those, I follow exactly 2.  Don't know whether I should be ashamed or proud.

    Tips on creating great video tutorials from the PlanetPTC Community.  (If you're not having fun making it, your audience won't have fun watching it.)

    I enjoyed How to Steal Like an Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me) more than most stuff I find on the internet (and not just because it includes a photo of Bob Ross).  I'll list the ideas here but please click through and read the full post.
    1. Steal like an artist.
    2. Don't wait until you know who you are to start making things.
    3. Write the book you want to read.
    4. Use your hands.
    5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
    6. The secret: do good work and put it where people can see it.
    7. Geography is no longer our master.
    8. Be nice.  The world is a small town.
    9. Be boring.  It's the only way to get work done.  (My personal favorite.)
    My kids used to watch Invader Zim.  This video lets you see behind the animation with a live script reading.

    There's a nice video interview with Disney animator Andreas Deja on Cartoon Brew in which he shares his thoughts on traditional versus CGI animation.  (I just wish he would show what he's doodling.)  If you have the time, here's a longish transcript of an interview with Milt Kahl.  OK, if you prefer pictures over video and text, here are sketches by Bob Clampett showing the layout and office arrangements of Warner Bros. studios.

     LEGO.  Space Ships.  Alphabet.

    Some interesting findings from the HPC User Site Census of servers installed at various HPC sites. 2-processor nodes have 50% market share but 4- and 8-processor nodes are growing.  In fact, for newly acquired systems, 4-processor nodes dominate and single processor nodes are in the single digit percentages.
    Gotta give a speech?  The three things audiences want from you are connection (with you, not the material), entertainment (stay serious about the topic but not yourself), and meaning (how does what you're saying matter to their life).

    Aircraft pr0n of the week: F-16C cutaway drawing.

    My beer drinking friends probably wonder how engineering simulation can help them.  Here's a scenario.  Jimmy is barbecuing and sets his beer down next to the grill.  How long before his beer's too warm to drink?  (Note: you have to supply your email address to watch the full video.)  OK, maybe you're a sports guy and not a drinker.  Fluid mechanics can also explain how wiffle balls work.

    An insider's opinion of what's wrong with Google and how to fix it.  "Acknowledge that 20% time is a lie."

    Facebook has "Like" and Google now has "+1".  I've enrolled in this and have started leaving a little number 1 all over the web.  (Does not sound right. But "+2" would be a good counter to Facebook's lack of a Dislike button.)

    The first rule of CEO psychological meltdown club is you don't talk about psychological meltdown club.  A CEO provides insight into the most difficult skill for CEOs - managing your own psychology.  I liked this quote: "if you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO."

    Did you know there was a World Backup Day?  Neither did I.  It was 31 March so we have plenty of time to plan for 2012's event.

    I may have posted this before, but it's worth watching for those who think differential gears are cool.

    I loves me some good grilled brats and had two yesterday.  image credit

    I just took Smashing Magazine's poll about what browser you use most often (Firefox).  Results at the time were as follows: Chrome (47%), Firefox (37%), Safari (11%), Opera (3%), IE (2%), Other (1%).

    Where has all the electricity gone?  According to this article in Fast Company, between 1978 and 2005 America's electrical usage for air conditioning has nearly tripled and for home electronics nearly doubled.  (Yes, I know - Americans set the a/c too low.  Blah blah blah.  I've got the window open as I type this.)

    Lest one think that literature is dead (sounds similar to the old "painting is dead") along comes Use and Abuse of Literature in which the position is taken that literature offers unanswered and perhaps unanswerable questions.   Stated another way "The absence of answers or determinate meanings" is exactly the set of "qualities that make a passage or a work literary."  It looks like there's some interesting stuff here which is why it's now on my Amazon wish list.
    And lest you think I'm getting all smarty pants - I'm not sure how this is supposed to work. that you may be violent and original in your work.  ~Gustave Flaubert

    P.S. Thanks to my friend Juan for inviting me to his annual Texas Rangers opening day tailgate party.  The food and game were excellent.

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