Archive: February 2008

on talking machines

like the Tower Bridge on Twitter. from this post on the tower bridge on twitter and this post on machines on twitter. via.

  • "The idea of overhearing machines talking about what they’re doing is, to my mind, quite delightful."
  • "... what’s really super-interesting is that by letting our machines address us over Twitter, in English, instead of over REST or SOAP or ssh, is that we’re letting them address us in the same space as we address people."
  • "We’ve moved away from anthropomorphising in its strictest sense and towards finding an actual, idea-space representation of machines."
  • "... it’s very important to me that the bridge should talk in the first person. Whilst I’m just processing publicly available data on its behalf, Twitter is a public medium for individuals..."


I love the roller-coaster rush I get when I read numbers like this:

The pace of human history is a very fast one. Homo Erectus left Africa 90,000 generations ago. Early homo sapiens developed in Africa 30,000 generations ago, and only left the continent 30,000 years ago, or 1500 generations - an amazingly short period of time. ...

from Ethan Zuckerman's first post from the current TED conference.

Another one I like is that humans started farming about 8,000 years ago.

comics that suck

interesting how some of the most inane comics benefit from remixing on the web. "... when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is a ... comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life": garfield minus garfield. previously: on garfield. see also (as you no doubt have already): marmaduke explained.

the explanation is boring, but

tonight I found myself writing "an nid or a uid", which is a pretty funny --- construction.

pasta shapes

by 'that spiral kind' I mean 'rotini' or 'fusilli': illustrated pasta shapes glossary

track I am obsessed with today

it's called "Bros" by Panda Bear. you can hear a short cut of it on Panda Bear's myspace page (the album version is 12:30). it's like Beach Boys + Pulp + boring, but not actually boring. Panda Bear is one of the guys from Animal Collective, which might give other people more context than it gives me.

Aside: everything indie since the Arcade Fire's Funeral that's not atonal (Decemberists/Mountain Goats style) is Pulp-influenced, in my head.

possible reading

2008 Nebula Finalists (scifi awards).

static maps

google maps as static images. Google Static Maps API.

will it blend

Probably one of my favorite internet fads to talk about to non-internetters: Will it Blend? I would almost call it required watching. (esp: iphone, lighters)

things that make me want to be a student again

R-trees, geometry and math, today the Haversine formula, PostGIS.


favorite weather site

my favorite weather site is the National Weather Service; I like it for the layout. not beautiful graphically, but extremely functional: 7 days in summary, more details for the next two days, current conditions, and nothing distracting like ads or news clips. the only thing is that the boston page lacks the 'forecast at a glance'. the sacramento page's 3-day history even has graphs.

lol macro

lolcat for the day. not a cat.


I've used bantam eggs (2/3 the size of a chicken egg) and goose eggs (3x the size of a chicken egg), but never ostrich eggs, which are apparently equivalent to 20 to 25 chicken eggs. "a sense of scale".


interview with Adrian Holovaty on EveryBlock. Adrian mentions that they used Mapnik for their mapping; it sounds like they will be putting out some neat documentation on their mapping decisions and process soon.

camino tabs

update! Plastic Leopard Tabs.

since updating to Leopard, Camino's toolbar has been gross. my solution: UnifyCamino plus some custom tabs (, adapted from the Plastic Tabs at PimpMyCamino)

also, a sidenote on UnifyCamino: I did not have to specifically enable input managers as it says on the download page; UnifyCamino just prompted me for my password when I installed it.

itunes pref

a favorite hidden iTunes preference: make iTunes arrows point to library, not the music store.

'nother new leopard thing

you can now scroll windows that are in the background. (new in mac os x 10.5)

neat leopard screenshot thing

now when you take a screenshot of a window it now captures the window's shadow with alpha transparency in addition to the window itself. (new in mac os x 10.5)

(to take a screenshot of a window: command-shift-4, then space bar, then click on the window)

leopard gripes

Every time I upgrade to a new operating system I whine and complain about it for weeks. In the interest of protecting my friendships, I'm going to blog it this time. Here goes:

  • I basically can't use Spaces, because I, stupidly, configured my hands to use conflicting key combinations: (1) the only trigger keys it allows are function keys, and (2) the Space-switching trigger keys are the same as text word/line movement keys! WTF! (ctrl, option, or command plus arrow keys)
  • Spotlight is as useless than ever, because (1, still) it doesn't bother to index an unindexed folder when you try to search it (ls -R | grep 'ical' was more effective) (2, still) it doesn't bother to notify you when you're searching an unindexed folder and (3, new) it defaults to searching 'My Computer' rather than the current folder. A large part of my current Spotlight hate is due to the fact that it hasn't yet indexed the chunk of stuff I moved from my old HD to the new one.

I'm sure there will be more where this came from.

owning music

R.I.P.: Owning Music (1880-2008) suggests that"the ownership of recorded music will someday be seen as a weird historical anomaly"; it casts the idea of what we call 'renting music' now in a much more positive light.


kml census data

KML files illustrating population data and median age census data (for Google Earth--need to be simplified to work well with google maps).

simplifying polygons

for some spare time, should I ever find it: a discussion of the problem, a collection of methods.

browser wish

back in the day, there was a Mac browser that would add the url of an image to it's 'Get Info' in the Finder. man those were the good old days.


new Waxy

despite some mediocre 'researchy' posts in the past, is going back in my feed reader because he's planning to post an original article every day:

Not my opinions about news (opinions are cheap) and not just glorified linkblogging, but something new: original research, investigative journalism, information visualization, digitizing dead media, live reporting, or interviews.

sounds like such a fun project, at least on the 'doing' side.


some wicked cool ampersands here: "The Funkiest Ampersands You Have Ever Seen". (via)