Saturday, July 23, 2011

We shall not cease from exploration...

Mitch Albom writes forlornly about the demise of Borders and brick-and-mortar bookstores in general.  I was a Borders customer and used the local store (now closed) to purchase books when I couldn't wait the few days it takes for shipments from Amazon to arrive.  However, in the same way that I don't get hanging out in coffee shops, I never felt any love for the place itself as a destination for reading.  I bought my books and took them into my personal spaces for consumption.  Yes, I too fear the decline of printed books.  Or perhaps I fear being perceived as a dinosaur like crusty audiophiles who insist loudly that they can hear the difference in sound quality between an LP and a CD.  (Wait, I'm already there because I can hear the difference between a CD and an MP3.)

At least Po is easier to spell than Kaczynski.  source
Using you can get music with a local flavor from cities around the world.  Things teh interwebs were made for #1,600: a collection of garden gnomes.   I've heard of folks dining on dancing shrimp in Japan, but this video of a bowl of dancing squid is amazing.   How would you eat this using only chopsticks?

"In general the average size of the male organ was found to possess strong predictive power on the issues pertaining to economic development."  This and other gems can be found in this research study from the University of Helsinki.

Fun science fact of the day: about 15% of snails survive being eaten by birds and are pooped out alive. I wonder if they'd make an excellent escargot in the same way that fancy coffee is made from bird-pooped beans?

Speaking of laying cable, Greg's Cable Map reveals undersea communication cables.  Instead of undersea, on your head.

Seems like everyone's computer uses two screens now, but a laptop?  The GScreen Spacebook comes with two 17.3 inch displays.

A comparison of paintings by Mondrian (left) and Rothko (right).  The two pictorial graphs plot brightness horizontally and saturation vertically.  Source
Comparing the paintings of Piet Mondrian and Mark Rothko and drawing conclusions based on the results of image processing and visualization techniques seems like a good idea.  (There's a video if you prefer not to read.) However, a well-written critique of the study exposes flaws.  IMO, while the original study looks at a number of factors not included in the article, reducing masterful paintings to two numbers (brightness and saturation) does a disservice to works that are inherently three dimensional.  Especially with the way that Rothko uses layers of color to create paintings with an unparalleled richness and depth, reducing a painting to a number misses the point.  That doesn't mean such a study wouldn't be interesting, however, if done well.

How to teach math to artists.

Even though it's hard to reduce art to a number, here's another attempt.  This time they've ranked poets by beard weight, from Walt Whitman to Samuel Morse.  Several authors share their personal rules for writing fiction.  "Only bad writers think that their work is really good."

Awesome photo of the SR-71.  Source: Code One Magazine
Everyone and their brother-in-law has been posting stuff about the last Space Shuttle mission so here's a video of the launch from the viewpoint of the solid rocket booster. The Fort Worth Air and Space Museum Foundation is leading the effort to open in around 2016 a world-class aviation museum that honors the aviation heritage of North Texas. This looks like an interesting piece of history: back during WWII the U.S. Navy teamed up with the mob to thwart Nazi saboteurs and pave the way for landings in Italy.

Who's planning on attending the Business of Software this October in Boston?  If you're still on the fence, check out this presentation from last year's event in which Rob Walling talks about what should be the number one goal of your website and how to properly conduct email marketing.  Because you may not want to spend 50+ minutes watching this video I'll reveal one tidbit.  The goal of your website is to create repeat visitors because they're much more likely (4x-16x) to buy than a first time visitor unless your product costs less than about $20.  There are also good, concrete tips in here for your email campaign like the words not to include in the subject line.

Read it and weep: Belief in Evolution vs. National Wealth.  source
What qualifies the British to complain about American English?   "Train station" puts someone's teeth on edge?  Quibbling over "take out" versus "take away"?  Let's set things straight.  Chips are fries, a bonnet is something a lady wears on her head, and the boot is a type of footwear.  And let's not even get started on Cockney slang.

For the programmers: Nature-Inspired Programming Recipes.  Need some good f*cking design advice?  (I have no idea why I left out the u.)  Public service announcement: Are you raising a douchebag? Only the biggest fans will enjoy this Star Wars and techno mashup called The Dark Side.

Altoids tins.  What's up with that stupid piece of paper inside?  The first thing I do is yank that out and throw it away.  Here are 22 ways to butch-up an Altoids tin, from first aid to a portable stove.

DuPont's chart of popular car colors has been getting around a lot lately.  My car's black, the #2 most popular color in the U.S. and the world making me unoriginal.  source
Put the solar system on your desktop with Solar System Visualizer.  I wonder if the solar system visualizer has been updated with the 4th moon found by Hubble to be orbiting dwarf planet Pluto?

A Facebook investor tosses off great sound bytes in this video about why social is over.  A few examples: Microsoft is toast, the iPad is the most important device since the IBM PC, and he really crazy loves HTML5.

DO NOT watch this video for winky winky wawa unless you like sophomoric cartoon singalongs with "poo" in the lyrics.

...and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.  ~T.S. Eliot


Francis Shivone said...

I liked the old Borders but when the retail specialists took over, lowered all the shelves and made them less like a library I was out. But what buried them alive was not controlling their own web sales.

I admit I like the Kindle for various reasons but I will always love books.

Great: "10 things writers should remember" I have read half of them and will finish them tomorrow. Favorite line: if it sounds like writing, rewrite it.

My problem is that I can't do that.

I was having this conversation with my son. Being so good at something that it looks easy to others takes time and lots of failure.

Like the Eliot quote. True.

John said...

I think the "sounds like writing" thing comes from trying too hard to write well. Like most things, once you achieve mastery it seems to flow effortlessly. That's not to say that there isn't a lot of hard work backing it up.

The Eliot quote was just a wee nod to the Space Shuttle.