Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer is when...

The new ambient album From Worlds Unseen A Light Yet Streams A Sound Replete from the duo of Markus Reuter and Zero Ohms is available for pre-order and a few tracks can be previewed.

Here's a video of InterStatic performing live in 2014.

How might you apply the lessons from studying the jazz language to your field of endeavor? "Study the tradition. Absorb and understand what has been created before you. But get down to the business of finding out who you are."

Clyfford Still, PH-401, 1957. source. Still's paintings incorporate "a heroic battle for survival."
You may have as much fun as I did browsing through the most recent list of the Fortune 500. CVS Health is #10 and I had no idea they were that big. Boeing is #27 but Amazon is right on their heels at #29. Disney is #57.

Half of the U.S. population lives in these counties. source
Anti-intellectualism is killing America. I'm more comfortable with this article's subtitle (social dysfunction can be traced to the abandonment of reason) than I am with the link-bait title and the use at the very top of the article a photo of the racist mass-murderer. "Intellectualism" stinks a bit of elitism. That's why I'm happier with the subtitle's use of the word "reason." And the "killing" of America is a sad attention grabber to tie the article's premise to current headline news. We need to double-down on primary and secondary education.

This three-way juxtaposition of my interests (animation, computing, visualization) demonstrates not only a well done black and white animation but one done for business (versus artistic) purposes. From the Apple World Wide Developer's Conference 2013 is this Intro Animation.

Things only engineering majors will understand. #3 You can barely remember a time when math actually involved numbers.

Speaking of college majors, what are the top jobs for 2015's college graduates? When ranked by median entry-level salary, #7 is a Administrator which boggles the mind.

Take 45 minutes for this behind the scenes documentary about Dr. Stranglove.

The first three volumes of The History of Cartography are now available online. Map lovers go nuts.

...laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

Saturday, June 20, 2015

All journeys have secret destinations...

You have yours and I have mine and Rolling Stone has their 50 greatest progressive rock albums of all time. I have 22 of those 50 but hadn't even heard of many of the bands or albums. By the time I was nearly through with the article I guessed correctly what #1 was and don't have any problems with it. #2 was In the Court of the Crimson King.

Jackson Pollock is coming to the DMA this November.

Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #116, 1979. Take a few minutes to explore an introduction to Diebenkorn.
I recently discovered the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi, an appreciation of authentic beauty based on acceptance that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.

Factoclock give you the time and a factoid every minute.

The internet map lets you drill down into the constellations to find your favorite website.
A l-o-n-g introduction to writing software. What is code?

Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla are collaborating on a binary format for Javascript.

A map showing the most popular fictional character from each state. Or how about 50 sarcastic state mottos.

The green device on the right is the actual "safe" plug from the Little Boy atomic bomb, removed from the device in-flight and replaced by a red "armed" plug (facsimile on left). Image by Alex Wellerstein. From an article on history of the Manhattan Project.
Big data synergies virality. Proprietary iterative dynamic content B2B brand voice chatvertizing ideation. Emerging blogosphere B2B optimized for social sharing call-to-action meme multiple points of entry. Download responsive buzzword synergies dashboard goals for engagement. Scalability curated brand voice alignment brand awareness goals for engagement. Iterative top influencers low hanging fruit brand awareness long-tail. This paragraph courtesy of the Marketing Gibberish Generator.

...of which the traveler is unaware. ~Martin Buber

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Waters, They Are Rising by Trey Gunn

Soon a thousand minds
within the thunderous crash,
But for now just one.

I'm a fan of touch guitarist Trey Gunn and his extensive recording career. I'm a fan of Peter Gabriel, and especially his beautiful, classic song Here Comes the Flood. So when Gunn announced that his latest solo album would prominently feature his solo improvisations and introductions to the performance of Here Comes the Flood on the 2014 Security Project Tour (a celebration of Gabriel's music sans Mr. Gabriel) I ordered it almost immediately.

The 11 tracks on The Waters, They Are Rising include four Flood pieces, six other compositions, and a performance of the Bob Dylan tune Not Dark Yet (vocals by Dylan Nichole Bandy).

Gabriel's supposed inspiration for Here Comes the Flood is a moment of mental interconnectedness, a flood of thoughts from thousands of minds simultaneously. If so, I can hear in Gunn's guitar work a rich, singular, near melancholy anticipation. If a flood is heavy and repressive, Gunn's work is open and uplifting. Is he a shaman calling up the rising waters? (See my quoted caveat below.)

You can get the full effect in this video with Gunn's intro and then the song.

You can learn more about Trey Gunn at his website, You can stream a few tracks and then buy the album from his bandcamp site,

And in the context of writing this I came across a YouTube video of Gunn's work with David Sylvian and Robert Fripp which is so freaking fantastic that I'm down the rabbit hole again.

"I don't know much about music but I sure like the sound it makes."

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

Personal by Lee Child

Reacher proves again
that he'll do what's right even
if he's treated wrong.

It's been over a year since I've had the pleasure of a Jack Reacher novel so Lee Child's Personal was very enjoyable. The author has done it right when you enjoy the character as much as the story.

And a good deal of that enjoyment comes from Dick Hill's voice acting. If I had started my Jack Reacher experience by reading the books as opposed to listening to the audio books I wonder how Reacher would've sounded in my head. But now, I can't imagine a voice more perfect for him than Hill's.

Jack Reacher is a retired major from the U.S. Army military police who wanders the country by foot and by bus. (What he's searching for, if indeed that's what he's doing, isn't clear to me.) Along the way he often stumbles into criminal activity of some sort or another that he ends up resolving. He's nicknamed "Sherlock Homeless" for the combination of his taciturn mental prowess and the fact that other than the clothes on his back his only personal possession is a toothbrush.

In Personal, a brilliantly gifted sniper whom Reacher arrested 15 years ago has been released from federal prison and is offering his services to whomever needs them. Reacher caught him once and is asked to catch him again before a head of state loses his head. And to do so he must go up against a criminal gang leader who dwarfs Reacher's 6 feet 4 inch frame.

Great character. Another fun story. Highly recommend.

"Nothing can be said about writing except when it is bad; when it is good, one can only read and be grateful.”

I received no compensation of any kind for this review. 

There is no sun without shadow...

You can turn any region of your computer screen into a playable Super Mario Bros. game with Screentendo.

Querkles: color books for adults.

Fans of Alien will love this. Derelict is an "intercutting" of Alien and Prometheus. Highly recommended.

A thought provoking essay by Mark Manson on the four stages of life.
  1. Accept that you will never be enough for everybody all the time.
  2. Accept that you will never be able to accomplish all you dream and desire.
  3. Accept that time and energy are limited.
  4. Accept that the influence of any one person will dissipate.
Jerry Seinfeld won't perform at colleges because "teens and college-aged kids don’t understand what it means to throw around certain politically-correct terms. They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”

A self-professed liberal college professor is afraid of his liberal students. "The student-teacher dynamic has been reenvisioned along a line that's simultaneously consumerist and hyper-protective, giving each and every student the ability to claim Grievous Harm in nearly any circumstance, after any affront, and a teacher's formal ability to respond to these claims is limited at best."
Musician Nick Beggs compares Steven Wilson to Prince in this interview.
Claw machines are rigged. So are those basketball shooting games at the fair. (The rims aren't circular.)

Photographer Bartosz Wojczyski composited over 32,000 individual photographs into this stunning high resolution image of the moon. See more here.
Or you can interactively explore the largest panoramic photo ever taken of Mont Blanc.

Photos of North Korea give me the creeps.

Unintended time capsule: un-erased school chalkboards uncovered after a century.

Enjoy a few minutes of GoPro video from a spacecraft fairing as it falls back to earth.

The trailer for Ridley Scott's The Martian looks pretty good. And I hear the book on which it was based is very good.

Have you tried Wolfram's Image Identification Project? Give it any image and it will tell you what it is.

This 20 foot shark will probably keep me out of the oceans for another couple of decades.
Who doesn't love Godzilla?

Take a virtual shower with

What I find most amazing is not the success of the first penis transplant but the fact that the surgeons also gave the deceased donor a replacement penis for his burial. Repeat: They gave a dead guy a new penis for his funeral. What kind of open casket ceremony was it?

Turn your browser into Windows 93.

Or just watch a website be built in real-time at STRML.

...and it is essential to know the night. ~Albert Camus

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Get Started, Have Fun, and Profit with Twitter

I've made no secret of the fact that Twitter is my favorite social medium. Not that I've tried many or even most: just Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, Soundcloud, Instagram, Ello, Google+, Instagram and maybe a couple more. But I get much more out of Twitter than the rest.

That's doubly true if you take into account the ROI. You really don't have to give anything. At most you have to give 140 characters of thought. But in return you get a virtually continuous stream of ideas and dialog.

If Proust can fit "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes." into a tweet-sized sentence, certainly you can write something brief and engaging about your personal interests or areas of expertise.

Someone once wrote that Twitter is about sharing ideas and that pretty much nails it. I like to ask rhetorically, "Who knew you could send an email without specifying a recipient?" And as a matter of fact, I often use Twitter's direct messages in place of a quick email.

When done well, a tweet's 140 characters function like the parts of a Formula 1 car. Form is liberating and forces you to choose your words well. And while brevity might be the soul of wit, a tweet's terseness still gives you enough slack to come off looking like an El Camino (i.e. the mullet of cars).

So, interested in giving Twitter a shot? Maybe you have an account that's grown dusty. Or maybe you're ready to create one. Either way, here are 8 of my best practices for Twitter disguised under the thin veil of a how-to guide.

1. Replace the Egg Avatar

When you create your Twitter account they give you an avatar that looks like an egg. (Get it? Twitter, bird, egg.) So the egg may indeed come before the bird. But before the bird tweets you MUST replace the egg avatar with one of your own.

A Twitter account sporting the egg avatar screams "I am a n00b." Or it's a condescending "I am sinking to your level by using Twitter but I won't even consider customizing it." Or it's a spammer. Either way, I won't follow you. Nor should anyone else.

Customize your Twitter avatar.
There's plenty of other advice out there on how to choose your avatar. A nice head and shoulders photo of you is a good place to start.

You have no choice. Do this first or tweet no more.

2. Write A Follow-Worthy Profile

Your first tweet needs to be your profile. Before you dare write the obligatory "Hello World" tweet, use the 140 characters that Twitter gives you to describe yourself and your intentions.

Are you shy, coy, or playing hard to get? Forget it - this is social media with the emphasis on social. From a practical standpoint, it helps you get found and followed. For example, if you include "CFD" in your profile, I can find you and follow you. If you follow me, I can look at your profile and decide whether you're worth following back.

As for what to include in your profile, a lot of folks put a "top 10" list of their life priorities beginning with supreme being, spouse, and children. That's very nice and I applaud you for putting Mom before CFD.

However, I suggest you include in your profile the things you'll be tweeting about. It's not like I'm going to follow you just because you're married or I won't follow anyone with more than 2 kids. But if you're interested in CFD and progressive rock/fusion or modern art or... You get the idea.

Bonus tip: Create a profile at and link to it from your Twitter profile. You can stuff it full of all sorts of info that won't fit in 140 characters.

3. Upload a Nice Cover Image

The cover image appears at the top of your page on the Twitter website (i.e. If nothing else it simply makes your page more appealing, as though you care and are an active tweeter. If you want to take it to the next level, there are all sorts of tips and templates out there on how to create a cover image that is a hybrid business card and scrapbook.

Avatar? Check. Profile? Check. Cover image? Check. 

4. What to Tweet

There are two schools of thought here. One school of thought says to have one Twitter account for work tweets and another Twitter account for personal tweets.

I say mix 'em up. Why? Have you ever been cornered at a party by a guy who only wants to talk about work? Dull, dull, chew your arm off to escape dull. That's how a business-only Twitter feed comes off. Frankly, your business isn't all that interesting.

But you - you're very interesting because if nothing else you're not 1-dimensional. In addition to news releases from your workplace and goings on in your industry (to cover the professional aspects) you may tweet about restaurants, sporting events, TV shows, art exhibits, comedy performances, concerts, your family, even - dare I say it - politics.

I'm not saying you shouldn't follow businesses on Twitter, especially if you're a customer. You'll learn about what they're doing, where they're going, special promotions, etc. But it's hard to get emotionally invested in that kind of dry stuff. You'll find value certainly, if the company is doing it right.

5. There's an App for That

Tweetdeck is my Twitter app. There are many others like it, but this one is mine.

Tweetdeck is my best friend. I must master it as I must master any tool.

You get the point.

You could use Twitter solely through the website or smartphone app but that's like trying to view the world through a soda straw. Dribble, dribble, dribble. One. Tweet. At. A. Time.

Tweetdeck. Image from
With Tweetdeck (either the desktop application or the website you can follow multiple streams at a time: your full feed, any replies or mentions of you, direct messages, your scheduled tweets, and then any search term you like. I have search feeds open for my company name, my last name, my industry, and then hashtags (see below) for specific events.

Bonus tip: Mutual followers (i.e. if I follow you and you follow me) can communicate privately using what Twitter calls a direct message. Think of it as a hybrid email/text message. Very handy.

6. What's in a Tweet

How should you make best use of your 140 characters? 
  1. Share something interesting. 
  2. 99% of tweets should include a URL to a web page with more information.
  3. Pictures are worth a thousand words and that's a lot more than 140. 
And hastags, while widely ridiculed and often overused, are quite beneficial. Many events encourage tweeters to use a common hashtag so that one can easily follow all tweets from that event regardless of whether you're following the individual tweeters. Some examples are #aiaaAviation, #SimulationFriday, #COFES2015.

Note that there's no formal hashtag registry. You can use whatever you want as a hashtag. The trick is using one that enhances your tweet's discoverability.

Bonus tip. If you reply to someone's tweet as in "@someone You should really see this..." only people who follow both you and someone can see that tweet. That's because the tweet begins with "@." If you want to broaden the scope of who can see that tweet, simply begin with a dot "." There's nothing special about the dot, it's just a de facto standard. You could begin the tweet with anything other than "@someone" such as "Hey @someone..."

7. Follow and Retweet

I wrote above that you can use Twitter without actually tweeting, by simply lurking.

But there are two things you really should do. 
  1. Follow people. Actually click on the Follow button and get them into your feed.
  2. And retweet. If you think something's cool, odds are that others will think so too. So press that retweet button and share it with your followers.

8. Things I've Never Done (on Twitter)

There are a couple of Twitter features I've never used and I'll be interested in your feedback if you start using them.

You can "favorite" a Tweet. I haven't figured out the benefit of doing that. If I like the idea you're sharing I'll click the link and bookmark the website. Otherwise, I see tweets as transient entities to be enjoyed in the moment and never again.

You can create "lists" of the people you follow on Twitter. Despite my acknowledged anal-retentiveness I've never felt the need to organize my Twitter feed by "CFD people," "News," or whatever.

Time to Tweet
Hopefully you found some of that useful and will soon start enjoying Twitter. When you get online feel free to follow me @jchawner.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Stubborn and ardent clinging to one's opinion...

Relive the Apollo 11 mission to the moon at We Choose the Moon.

You have until 31 July to submit your entry to CineSpace, a competition for short films created using original NASA footage.

Steven Wilson's 8-track album Sampler is ranked #3 on Amazon's free albums. Yes, that's right. Free. You really ought to get this album.

If you sometimes give presentations that include charts and similar visuals you'd be doing everyone a favor if you stopped doing these 7 cardinal sins of chartmaking. Especially Unnecessary 3D. Yuck.

Paul Reed, study for Topeka, 1967 (left), In and Out, 1971 (right). I've been learning more about Paul Reed's work since seeing a photo of one of his paintings in the conservation lab at the Dallas Museum of Art. I find his pencil study above to be quite fascinating. Image source.
The forbidden forest around Verdun is littered with unexploded ordnance from WWI. Read about the people who clean it one bomb at a time.

Did you know there was a World Video Game Hall of Fame? Well, there wasn't until they recently announced their inaugural class of inductees including Pong, PacMan, Tetris. Can you guess the other three?

Vocabulary word of the data: morosoph, a learned fool.

Happiness is contagious. Through the smell of sweat.

Walrus webcam.

Linebacker Von Miller farts so much during Broncos team meetings that he gets fined. the best proof of stupidity. ~Michel de Montaigne