Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two things that don't go together well...

Note to readers: Last week's post was criticized for being unfunny. "Too much science." "Stop blogging about blogging." "Who's Bea Arthur?" Without admitting to humorlessness, today's post is an overt attempt at farce.

But first, perhaps you ought to put a timer on how long you'll spend here today.

Let's begin with a photo caption contest.

  1. Don't be distracted by the disguise - the butt is here.
  2. No hands, no feet but at least the butt is callipygous.
  3. While Conan searches for his lost contact lens, kick him in the butt.
  4. And now it's your turn...
My wife enjoys crochet and my penchant for applied geometry is well documented so together we should really enjoy Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, winner of oddest book title of the year. On the other hand, this Japanese document is one of the best uses of applied geometry I have ever seen as it pertains to miniskirts.

This year is the 25th anniversary of Fort Worth's Main Street Arts Festival, rated as one of the top 3 fine art shows nationwide. Speaking of Fort Worth events, come to the ANA's National Money Show and see $1.2 million in uncut $100,000 bills (among other cool numismatic treasures).

It's been a while since I did any bacon and you've probably already seen Bacon Vodka, but what about bacon toothpicks and bacon roses?

Teach yourself how to build graphical user interfaces using Tk with these tutorials from TkDocs. Use the Inverse Graphing Calculator to see what any text looks like as an equation. Need to find out whether an image is being used elsewhere on teh interwebs? Try TinEye, reverse image search. (I found 14 places where my avatar is being used.)

The alphabet as a kind of dance. (They're dancing, right?) If the dancing alphabet was too subtle for you, Alex Merto draws one that's a bit more... provocative. The Eiffel Tower being erected (not a joke).

Another theme here is resurrected with this Sci-Fi periodic table. If the plethora of periodic tables has you confused, refer to this periodic table of periodic tables.

Looking for a job? Heed the advice in this article about writing a good cover letter. Alex, I'll take mesh generation for $500. Or you can make your own Big-Ass Message. If your computer is non-responsive, use this simple online diagnostic test. If you've got 13.3 gigapixels to display, you'll need a wall to display them on.

Are there other varieties of camel balls besides extra sour?

Learn how to master the complex sale. Here's a guide to improving the usability of web forms. In a shootout of URL shorteners, tied for #1. TinyURL came in 5th. Planning on writing an e-book? Better read A List Apart's article about standard practices. Here's a color theory cheat sheet.
  • Mesh generation for OpenFOAM using enGits' ENGRID.
  • VERDICT is a software library for mesh verification and is available under GPL.
  • Altair's Hyperworks Technology Conference (HTC2010) will be held 27-29 April in Novi, MI.
  • Gompute offers OpenFOAM training with courses upcoming in Sweden and Germany.
  • EnSight CFD academic price increases from $99 to $199.
  • How BYU optimized their land speed vehicle for a record breaking attempt using Sculptor.
  • How Blue Ridge Numerics defines "upfront CFD".
  • Video demos of Femap.
  • NVIDIA's GPU Tech Conference will be held 20-23 Sep 2010 in San Jose.
Palix Tech has a new CFD code, ANDsolver, that is GPU-based (and they're looking for beta testers). Get your software for building science from Bauklimatik Dresden. SEO Doctor is a Firefox add-in.

Stephen Hawking will be speaking at Texas A&M on April 5th. You'd give a better presentation if you knew these PowerPoint cheats. Here's an introduction to mesh generation algorithms. Why watch the NCAA tournament when you have the Gus Johnson soundboard.

And now your mental palette cleanser: jello.

...a sleeping pill and a laxative. --Dave Barry

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Though this be madness...

Apparently, Philip K. Dick was a big fan of Bladerunner. (Makes me want to get the DVD and watch it again.) (Note: there are flying cars in Bladerunner.) The Martin Jetpack is not a flying car. But Frank Skroback's 1935 roadable aircraft is. (WTF? We had flying cars in 1935?)

Next time you're giving a presentation, keep in mind that somebody in the audience may be down-voting you on Speaker Grader. 37signals' new book, REWORK, is a NY Times bestseller. The real value of undo is that it allows confident exploration of a software product's capabilities.

What do you hate about software development? Here's a list of ten things beginning with incompetent managers. If you hate it, perhaps you're not avoiding these 30 software development mistakes like "off by one" errors. Which one are you: a developer, a programmer, or a computer scientist? The blog of the Computing Community Consortium.

When I was in high school, one of my best friends drove a light blue 1968 Buick Skylark convertible with an 8-track tape player. He only had two 8-track tapes one of which was Genesis' Nursery Cryme. I wonder if that tape is in the 8-track tape museum in Denton, Texas.

Become a fan of Pointwise on Facebook.

Here are Andre Bakker's class notes from teaching CFD at Dartmouth from 2002-2006. Learn how to make speech bubbles (not the same as drooling) purely with CSS. I'm not wearing pants. Designing for the Web, a free e-book. Here are twelve other web design e-books. (I like free.)

Use Trackur to monitor your brand on social media. The Bad Pitch blog illustrates by examples how not to pitch your product or service. More help on Google Analytics, this time from Six Revisions. Need a random password like 'R+l7C^4eMVzOrM#h@.4VLb@c5}Fs[? Try this random key generator for that and much more.
Tips for writing your web site's landing pages. Flying Architecture provides free 3D Rhino models of kitchen appliances, beds, and other household stuff. A style guide for writing a style guide for your software or web site. Twitter has a 40% retention rate and other status about its climb to 10 billion tweets.

Tired of March Madness already? Then try the Greatest Living American Abstract Painter tourney. (I'm shocked that Helen Frankenthaler didn't get a number one seed.) 47 more CSS tips and tricks. The 5 Minute Scarf Arranger and other awful library books. Floats and position in CSS. "Watashi no namae wa Inigo Montoya desu" and other handy phrases to impress your foreign business partners. Was the stinky meat project really necessary?

I don't know what's stranger: the fact that there's a shampoo for a lady's hoo-hah called Muff So Soft or that it comes in Honeysuckle.

Here's your mental palate cleanser: Bea Arthur Mountains Pizza.

...yet there is method. --William Shakespeare

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Impression, soleil levant

Monet's 1872 painting of Le Havre harbor, Impression Sunrise, is a painting I only discovered yesterday. But it only took one look to amaze me. I'm not necessarily a big Monet fan (my tastes run more modern - abstract expressionism to be specific) and I'm a little late to the party on this one but it's "ridiculously awesome."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Now we sit through Shakespeare...

There are 44 inducted toys in the National Toy Hall of Fame. My favorites? "Stick" and "Cardboard Box." Make your bacon in a waffle iron. (The sequel: Make meatloaf in a hair dryer.) This ain't your daddy's internet: sketch on a web page using Harmony, or draw with fire using Flame.

Special Advisory: This post features a butt and really cool stuff in the last paragraph.

The CFDLab at the University of Texas at Austin. "An unyielding passion" and other ingredients of a successful web site. Dave Avanzino creates one-of-a-kind artworks for Disney. Make your own graph paper online. Make your next car/bike/plane an Aptera. Need help computing the golden ratio? Use this online calculator.

Politics aside, giving Edward Tufte a presidential appointment to help explain the use of $787 billion in stimulus funds is a good idea. Join the Mac Developer Program for only $99. With the Business of Software coming up this October, it's a good time to see what you missed last year. Here's Geoffrey Moore on innovation.
LibreDWG is a free C library to handle DWG files. Can you design a good Formula 1 race car using only CFD? The Virgin Racing team thinks so. nPower Software released CAD translators for AutoCAD. Spatial has started an industry partners program. Need help with social media? Use this cheat sheet. Or if you need to cheat at Excel...

On the heels of last week's dump of URL shorteners, here's Twitter's Leery about a web site? Run it through this web page security check. Free, browser-based text tools. A great debate topic: have the USPS stop delivering paper mail and turn their attention to Mail 2.0. "Stay out of the way" and other principles for user interaction designers.

I don't know why I've been hoarding buttons all week. Here are a bunch of free buttons for your web site. Need icons for your mobile app? Here are 14 icon sets. And here are some guidelines for "call to action" buttons.

I'm don't usually link to videos here, but if you're a fan of animation this music video by Sebastien Tellier done in black and white line art is really interesting. (Full disclosure: it features a drawing of a butt. Focus on the animation, not the butt.)

NASA has a computer game! You can have a video phone for Skype. (I'd still rather have a flying car.) 45 minutes to improved web site conversions. Is a TwitStamp the social media equivalent of a tramp stamp? Rogue's John John Dead Guy Ale works for me on so many levels. Speaking of beer, those people at The Oatmeal have done their signature thing on 20 things worth knowing about beer.

The book Essential Mathematics for Computational Design is now freely available. Trey Gunn and Marco Minnemann have a new album, Modulator, coming out in May. While I'm not a huge fan of Picasso, his iconic work Guernica has been reenvisioned in this 3D video. Make up new words with Wordoid.

Ten web analytics tools. From hieroglyph to latin - how the alphabet evolved. (When I was a wee lad, I once wanted to be an archeologist.) Free CAD downloads from cadyou. One less place to hide. The CAD on Linux blog. Use Blender? Read BlenderNation.

Ron Fedkiw at Stanford is doing some cool algorithm research into CFD and other fields. (Be sure to check out his work on changing mesh topology.) And ProFORMA is another awesome bit of technology in scanning; be sure to watch the video. (Yes, I know I wrote that I don't usually post videos.) order to recognize the quotations. --Orson Welles

Sunday, March 7, 2010

All I want to know is where I'll die...

Kim Burke's food looks delicious, but you'd better not be too hungry. (Her work is truly amazing. If you click on only one link in this post, make it this one.) Burning Shed is an online music label and store specializing in progressive and other genres including King Crimson and Porcupine Tree. The perfect man is a geek with facial hair. (Duh.) Langton's Ant may be a cool toy to program. Also, a Pythagoras tree seems like another neat planar fractal made of squares that one might program.

How can you tell whether the road is icy? It turns pink, of course. Here's proof that the customer is not always right. A neuroscientist explains why music should not be cut from the K-12 curriculum. Smashing Magazine provides this list of online generators to make everything from buttons to forms for your web site.

How does homeopathy work? If you're having trouble with your bacon, consult this flowchart. Yes, I know - olympic curling's over. But you can still get Norwegian curling pants. This map of the markets is an interesting visualization of stock performance. And this periodic table of videos is illustrative.

Dallas' Sixth Floor Museum provides this Dealey Plaza Cam. Everything you ever wanted to know about world time including things that spin and make noise: TimeTicker. Speaking of noises, the Yodelizer helps you say "Yahoo!" in uncountable ways. This 404 page is just plain odd. See today's front pages from 598 newspapers papers in 57 countries.

Knowing nothing but science makes you boring, but knowing no science makes you ignorant. This essay by Gentry Lee discusses scientific literacy (or the lack thereof) and its implications for our society. Lest anyone start feeling superior, this is a two-way street. See C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures and his discussion of the works of Shakespeare versus the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

You've probably heard that is the most popular URL shortener. Here are some URL tools that are a bit more off the beaten path and what they do to the URL of this blog.
  • -
  • TinyURL -
  • - (not for public use)
  • So Cute URL -
  • Dickens URL -
  • Freaking Huge URL -
Take a peek while taking a leak - urinals with a view. Getting food to your mouth can be a chore, but not with Food Lift. Yes, Google is apparently on the Moon too. Model hydrology and hydraulics with Aquaveo. What's new in Patran 2010.

Product management web site blast: Good Product Manager, On Product Management, Brainmates, and Cauvin.

Business of Software 2010 is coming up. While you be there? Juice Analytics provides the results of their survey into how well business communications are improving. Get color schemes from Color Jack. Write HTML faster using Vim with the Sparkup plugin. 100 incredible lectures from the world's top scholars. Or browse 137 years of Popular Science.

I hate losing stuff, like T-72 battle tanks. Having trouble getting someone to tell you the details about their browser and computer? Send them to Support Details. Read Berkshire Hathaway's annual letter. When just having a beard isn't enough, this is the result.

Do not click here. I'll never go there. --Charlie Munger

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Dullest Post Yet

Let's put all the work-related icky stuff in its own post this week.

First up: CAE news

This SolidWorks screencast on Excel Tips for Engineers is full of valuable information. My favorite? Using data validation to make user friendly pick lists.

The Turbulence Mechanics/CFD Group at the University of Manchester maintains a web server with links to several valuable resources including the ERCOFTAC classic database. My favorite in the latter? Case 31, backward facing step.

Not to be outdone, the ERCOFTAC Sig 15 web site hosts turbulence modeling test cases including Case 8.2, flow through an axisymmetric plane diffuser.

The folks at SpaceDev have designed the Dream Chaser, a spacecraft based on NASA's HL-20, for space transport including ISS servicing.

ACUSIM's CFD software is being used for simulation of wind turbine rotor blades.

libMesh is a C++ framework for numerical simulation of PDE-based systems and comes from the CFDLab at the University of Texas at Austin.

CFDEM is open source software for CFD and other disciplines. (Not much info is available at the present time.)

SimuTech's Engineering Simulation blog.

EnSuite is a multi-CAD digital mockup system for easy access to CAD data regardless of the originating software.

The 8th Euromech Fluid Mechanics Conference will be held on 13-16 September 2010 in Bad Reichenhall, Germany.

If the phrase "Hausdorff distance" means something to you, this article from MeshLab's blog about measuring the distance between two meshes is right up your alley.

AfterCAD blogs about CAD in the cloud. (Cloud is the new black or green or clear or whatever.)

The proceedings from SolidWorks World 2010 are now at your fingertips.

CD-adapco announced the dates and locations for their STAR Conferences.

An interesting article on CFD and meshes from MCADCafe Weekly.

is a free mesh program for CFD. Here's its user manual.

ECORA: Evaluation of Computational Fluid Dynamics Methods for Reactor Safety Analysis.

is an open source engineering portal, your one-stop shop for news, links, other resources, and profiles of open source engineering software.

Ready for internet and social media stuff?

ProBlogger is a blog about blogging.

So is Copyblogger.

Rise To The Top is a business blog.

Here's a gallery of CSS navigation techniques.

Things you don't know about your customers including "they like short lines."

How to create a breadcrumb menu using CSS.

Eric Meyer's work on CSS.

Web development tutorials from Nettuts+.

30 web sites to follow if you're into web development.

Creating a 3D cube in CSS.

There's a reason for the dullness. More to come.

StumbleUpon: Where the Internet Goes to Die

For the past couple of months I've been trying StumbleUpon, a social bookmarking site. I decided to give it a shot after reading a recommendation in a book I like by an author I respect who said it's a great way to find and be found on the internet. Unfortunately, my experience differs. StumbleUpon is an apt name because the tour of the internet it provides is similar to what you'd get from a drunk, stumbling, frat boy with poor interpersonal skills.

Your SU experience begins with creating an account and then defining your personal interests through several categorized pages of check boxes. Then it's off to the races when you press the Stumble button in your browser to be presented with a site that supposedly matches your interests. For each page your options are "Like", "Don't Like", or continue Stumbling. Using this process, I've been able to "Like" over 400 pages.

However, after a couple months of this, using SU has become an exercise in click, click, click as a litany of crap parades through my browser.

Apparently the internet is comprised of equal parts LOLcats, gamer sites, and videos that make Bob Saget look like Federico Felini by comparison.

You may be thinking "But John, those are probably the interests you set in your profile." While I enjoy a dose of sophomoric humor as much as the next guy, it might shock you that my interests are a bit broader.

One feature that might greatly improve the SU experience is the ability to exclude web sites from your stumbling. For example, I'd be happy to never see anything from again. Lest you think I'm some sort of elitist, I'd also like to exclude anything from - if I want to read the news, I'll go to their site.

I actually tried to suggest this feature. After probing around the fine print at the bottom of SU's web pages, finding what I thought was their suggestion forum, and typing in my idea, I was stymied by a message saying I needed to register for an account to post something. Wasn't I already was registered for SU? If this wasn't SU, what site did I end up at?

Also, your bookmarks (the sites you "Like") seem to be a dead end in SU. There doesn't seem to be a good way to send them somewhere else or save them like a regular bookmark. By "regular" I means something that doesn't have Stumble Upon prefixed on the URL.

From now on I'll find stuff on the internet the old-fashioned way.