Recently-encountered interesting links.
This is the link-blog part of my usual website, tecznotes.
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May 24, 2011

"Toward Zero" - DCP: 0 degrees, 0 degrees (visit #3)
found: 04:30pm
May 24, 2011
"We are Lina Faller, Marcel Mieth, Thomas Stussi and Susanne Weck, an artist group called FMSW, settled in Berlin, Germany. Since 2001 FMSW deals with positioning and the question: 'where are we actually?', the GPS is one of our tools to approximate. 'Towards Zero' was the idea of branding Point Zero to verify the GPS-System. In our luggage we carried a high vakuum, enclosed in a hollow steel ball. Branding zero with nothing as consequence of our studies. We started on 11th May 2007. We embarked the Grande Argentina in Hamburg, which shipped us to Tema, Ghana. It was the idea about moving slowly towards zero. We had three weeks to observe the horizon and to concentrate on the project. After stops in Dakar, Cotonou and Lagos we entered Ghana on June 1. There we had to find a small but good and fast vessel which could bring us to point zero."

May 22, 2011

"Code is inventory, code is a liability" - The Carrying-Cost of Code
found: 05:30pm
May 22, 2011
"In software development, we are essentially working on the same car or widget continuously, often for years. We are in the same soup, the same codebase. We can't expect a model based on independence of pieces in manufacturing to be accurate when we are working continuously on a single thing (a codebase) that shows wear over time and needs constant attention. No, to me, code is inventory. It is stuff lying around and it has substantial cost of ownership. It might do us good to consider what we can do to minimize it. I think that the future belongs to organizations that learn how to strategically delete code. Many companies are getting better at cutting unprofitable features in their products, but the next step is to pull those features out by the root: the code. Carrying costs are larger than we think. There's competitive advantage for companies that recognize this."

Geographically densest Wikipedia coverage
found: 04:58pm
May 22, 2011
"Wikipedia articles can be tagged with latitude/longitude coordinates. I was recently curious to know: which areas have the most coverage? It's important not to read too much into the answer, because the density of coordinates is due to a mixture of: how active different Wikipedia language projects are, how active at geo-tagging they are, which regions have had lots of short articles mechanically imported (e.g. on small towns, or metro stations), and finally, the actual landmark density (e.g. dense urban cores versus sprawling suburbs). But nonetheless it might be interesting to know. So, here are the most densely Wikipedia-article-populated parts of the world, at several scales."

"Then we kind of stopped writing about it" - Weird candor from Techcrunch about coverage of Blippy
found: 12:26pm
May 22, 2011
"What we failed to ask was, 'Who cares?' Blippy raised almost $13 million in funding and at some point its valuation was at $46.2 million, with enviable investor David Hornik posting his $8 million dollar purchase of Blippy stock on Blippy itself. ... Things eventually quieted down as they are wont to do in media hype land. And then we kind of stopped writing about it, caught up in the hockey stick growth of Groupon and Facebook and Quora. We stopped writing about it so much so that we missed the fact that it pivoted from a purchase sharing site to a user reviews site, starting with the introduction of user reviews on July 23rd 2010 and then moving of the platform fully on to reviews by October of the same year."

May 19, 2011

USA Today releases JSON API to census data
found: 02:31pm
May 19, 2011
"The USA TODAY Census API allows developers to easily and programmatically access United States Census information. Data concerning ethnicity, housing, population and race is available from both the 2000 and 2010 census, as well as basic population numbers dating back to the original 1790 census. All data returned in JSON formatting. Please refer to our documentation below which describes in detail how data can be requested and returned. We welcome your feedback, so please contribute to our forum or contact us at"

"Null-void cloud of pre-collapsed galaxy that is the Facebook Nebula": Jason Scott hates Facebook
found: 12:11am
May 19, 2011
"As we watch this machine, this engine that runs on memories and identity and watch it sell every last bit of us to anyone who will pay, as it mulches under our self and our dreams and our ideas and turns them into a grey miserable paste suitable for a side dish or the full entree of the human online experience, I am sure many of us will say it's no big deal. ... I can only hope that all the projects and processes and memories and history that I am focusing on will make me happy in the face of the colorless, null-void cloud of pre-collapsed galaxy that is the Facebook Nebula. Thanks for your question!"

May 17, 2011

/photos/friends/ is the most important page on Flickr and it's broken
found: 01:39am
May 17, 2011
"The page fails on a fundamental level - it's supposed to be where you find out what's happened on Flickr while you were away. The current design, unfortunately, encourages random clicking, not informed exploration. The page isn't just outdated, it's actively hurting Flickr, as members' social graphs on the site become increasingly out of sync with real life. Old users forget to visit the site, new sign ups are never roped in, and Flickr, who increased member sign-ups substantially in 2010, will forego months of solid work when new members don't come back."

building=yes: a searchable and linkable index of every single building in OpenStreetMap
found: 01:28am
May 17, 2011
"building=yes is a searchable and linkable index of every single way tagged building=yes in OpenStreetMap (OSM). A web page for every building in OpenStreetMap! You can link to buildings using their 64-bit building=yes identifier or their OSM way ID. Each building has been tagged with one or more Where On Earth (WOE) IDs so you can also search for buildings by place."

May 15, 2011

A Methodology For Creating Analytical Hill-shading By Combining Different Lighting Directions
found: 03:10am
May 15, 2011
"The present study examines ways of creating analytical hill-shaded images by applying more than one light sources, in order to eliminate, at a certain degree, two deficiencies present in single lighted hill-shaded images. ... This methodology aims to achieve a more balanced result of hill-shading, in such a way that the perception of the initial optimal lighting is preserved, as well as, the major relief forms in all directions are revealed or even sharper local details are enhanced."

Tom Patterson: Resolution Bumping in Photoshop
found: 02:40am
May 15, 2011
"The idea behind resolution bumping is simple: by merging low-resolution and high-resolution GTOPO30 data of the same area, hybrid data are produced that combine the best characteristics and minimize the problems found in the originals. The technique uses GTOPO30 data in 16-bit grayscale format in Photoshop. Two copies of a GTOPO30 file are used, one high resolution and the other downsampled to a lower resolution, these can then be blended together by a proportional amount controlled by the user. This yields a new grayscale "DEM" that, if merged in the right proportions, combines the readability of the downsampled data with all the detail one expects to find in mountainous terrain - without the graphical noise. Resolution bumping in effect "bumps" or etches a suggestion of topographical detail onto generalized topographic surfaces."

Tom Patterson: Creating Swiss-style shaded relief in Photoshop
found: 02:39am
May 15, 2011
"The aerial perspective effect is an essential design component of traditional shaded relief, which is based on natural observation. The concept is familiar to anyone who has hiked up a mountain--the veiling effects of atmospheric haze cause topographic features in the distance to look fainter than features in the foreground. When aerial perspective is applied to map shaded relief, higher topographic features should be shown with slightly more contrast than lowland features because they appear closer to readers who, theoretically, view the map from above. ... Fortunately, there is a simple procedure for introducing aerial perspective to digital shaded relief."

May 13, 2011

CloudMade Announcing Leaflet: a Modern Open Source JavaScript Library for Interactive Maps
found: 03:36am
May 13, 2011
"Leaflet - a new open source JavaScript library for interactive maps for both mobile and desktop browsers, developed by CloudMade to form the core of its next generation Web Maps API. Leaflet is built from the ground up to work efficiently and smoothly on both platforms. It's very fast, lightweight while still having a strong browser support, and really easy to use. It also has a clean, simple and readable OOP-based code, and it's hosted on the world's best open source collaboration platform GitHub, so contributing is a snap.

May 10, 2011

"The thing that big companies really struggle to do is to ship"
found: 03:12am
May 10, 2011
"There is innovation occurring at many big companies. The thing that big companies really struggle to do is to ship. How to launch a new product within the context of an existing brand, an existing economic structure, how to not impute a strategy tax on a new product, an existing organizational structure, etc. These are the challenges that usually cause the breakdown and where big company innovation, in my experience, so often comes apart."

May 9, 2011

"How do you map in ...?" Novosibirsk, Siberia
found: 01:06pm
May 9, 2011
"This is a tough question here, in Novosibirsk, where almost all PC users know 2gis, the desktop city map/yellow pages with a huge business database and public transport routing. It's free to get and to list your business, but completely closed source, both data and the software. ... This model was invented in 1998 and is pretty outdated, but all together still manages to satisfy the users. ... So, Novosibirsk is their native city. Everyone knows 2gis. When someone needs to go somewhere, they open 2gis and search the address. I find few areas and people who could be interested in using and contributing to OSM. It's a tough question. That's why last several months I have been drawing rural areas and small towns, the places in which 2gis will never be interested, or will have not enough resources to map."

"What is the book but technology, ... smoothed and sanded by repeated contact with human society"
found: 11:52am
May 9, 2011
"Being opposed to technology is profoundly at odds with the book business because what is the book but technology, technology that has been smoothed and sanded by repeated contact with human society into the most comfortable technology we have, as taken for granted as our clothes, product of the looms. ... We cannot know how much magnificent culture went unpublished by the white men in tweed jackets who ran publishing for the past century but just because they did publish some great books doesn’t mean they didn’t ignore a great many more."

May 5, 2011

"We sold a lot of junk but the art was so new that junk wasn't available elsewhere" - Scanimate analog motion graphics
found: 03:31am
May 5, 2011
Operators of the 70s/80s Scanimate motion graphics hardware talk about their work - amazing how much of this was done using motors and mylar and bits of tin foil and junk.

May 2, 2011

Levels of Boston navigation: by street name, by landmark, by used-to-be, by was-gonna-be
found: 03:03am
May 2, 2011
"Yay, I get to explain my 'Levels of Boston Navigation', developed as I tried to learn my way around Boston...: Level 0 - Navigation by street name) You find where you want to go on the map, and write out the route Google-maps style. Level 1 - Landmarks) You learn where key landmarks are, and the names of some of the larger 'squares'. Level 2 - Used-to-be) After you've been in the City for a while, you learn to give and take directions based on what used to be at an intersection. Level 3 - Gonna) The most advanced level. Involves giving directions based on what they were going to build, but never actually did."

Apr 29, 2011

What Should You Do with Your Crappy Little Services Business?
found: 11:02pm
April 29, 2011
"They mistake their successes in selling services as a competency in selling products. This is a huge mistake. Secondly, they often ramp up their cost base to accommodate these costs, which when a down market hits they are more effed than those that stay focused. Finally, the focus on the product (envy) means that they take their eye off of their core business, which is services. So the core business suffers. I saw this first hand. My first career was at Andersen Consulting (one of the largest services businesses in the world). We built a hugely successful global services business yet we never got over our product envy from watching our tech clients. So we created internal software projects and all of the internal consultants on those projects became blowhards who thought they knew how to create software product businesses. We stunk at every product we ever created. We had no sense for gathering real customer requirements. We over-spec'd products. We built for our over-intellectual selves. I can't think of any great software tools ever created internally by Andersen Consulting. We were a great services business. Period."

"Real advanced technology issues not from knowledge but from deep craft" - W. Brian Arthur
found: 11:29am
April 29, 2011
"Real advanced technology - on-the-edge sophisticated technology - issues not from knowledge but from something I will call deep craft. Deep craft is more than knowledge. It is a set of knowings. Knowing what is likely to work and what not to work. Knowing what methods to use, what principles are likely to succeed, what parameter values to use in a given technique. Knowing whom to talk to down the corridor to get things working, how to fix things that go wrong, what to ignore, what theories to look to. This sort of craft-knowing takes science for granted and mere knowledge for granted. And it derives collectively from a shared culture of beliefs, an unspoken culture of common experience. Such knowings root themselves in local micro-cultures: in particular firms, in particular buildings, along particular corridors. They become highly concentrated in particular localities. ... And so if a country wants to lead in advanced technology, it needs to do more than invest in industrial parks or vaguely foster 'innovation.' It needs to build its basic science without any stated purpose of commercial use"

Apr 27, 2011

Local Ground - contribute geographic knowledge via printed maps
found: 01:22pm
April 27, 2011
"Local Ground is a site where you can contribute your own local knowledge to a digital map, even if you don't have access to a smart phone or a GPS device. ... The way we see it, computer devices are great for a lot of things, but being forced to use technology to document everything can sometimes get in the way of creativity, sharing, and collaboration. Local Ground combines the best of paper and pixels by enabling you to document your observations, memories, or feelings about the places around you using paper, markers, and stickers, while still making you hand-drawn map annotations available online."

Apr 26, 2011

Ferrous printer toner particles floating water: Compressed 01 on Vimeo
found: 01:42pm
April 26, 2011
"Compressed 01 Ferrous printer toner particles floating on the surface of water are attracted by a magnet and align to the invisible magnetic field around them. The patterns and motions that result are strangely ordered and organized. Time-lapse sequences were created from individual photos shot with a Nikon D90, DIY macro lens and DIY intervalometer. Edited with Adobe Premiere. Sound created with Ableton Live."

Apr 23, 2011

News is cognitively toxic and systematically misleading: Towards a Healthy News Diet
found: 10:50am
April 23, 2011
"We are not rational enough to be exposed to the news-mongering press. It is a very dangerous thing, because the probabilistic mapping we get from consuming news is entirely different from the actual risks that we face. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk regardless of its real probability, no matter your intellectual sophistication. If you think you can compensate for this bias with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news- borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely."

Apr 19, 2011

Isochronic Singapore: A Dynamic City Transportation Map
found: 03:26am
April 19, 2011
"Last year I made my first attempt at isochronic map for the City of Paris, where the distance on map is proportional to travel time. Well, maps evolve. ... Our brilliant scientist Chrisian Sommer built a network from this massive data and estimated the shortest travel time between every pair of places on an hourly basis. The data quality this time is far better than what I had for Paris (which was retrieved from Google Directions). It is dynamic, and it reflects real traffic condition. I used 290 control points over the city to distort the map. Selecting any of these points as origin, the other points will move away or towards it according to the travel time it takes to get there."

Apr 18, 2011

Weird, engrossing: Joel Bauer explains what's in his suitcase
found: 02:37am
April 18, 2011
There's kind of a strange blend of motivational hoo-hah and decent travel tips and smooth salesmanship going on here.

Apr 16, 2011

jQuery's popularity means that newcomers learn bad things: The jQuery Divide
found: 01:25pm
April 16, 2011
"Rebecca Murphey's excellent JSConf presentation on how Javascript is a lot like Perl these days, with new developers learning terrible habits from jQuery that keep them from getting past beta. 1. Popularity contests are stupid, 2. Choose tools, not APIs, 3. Understand the problem, 4. RTFM is a bad answer, 5. Share what we know."

Apr 13, 2011

DOGSTEP! (Dubstep Dancing Dogs)
found: 11:56pm
April 13, 2011
There's a lot to like here.

Apr 11, 2011

Stripespotter is an automatic individual animal identification system for animals with prominent stripes
found: 09:03pm
April 11, 2011
"StripeSpotter is an automatic individual animal identification system for animals with prominent stripes or patches, developed as a joint project between the Computational Population Biology laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Equid Research and Conservation laboratory at Princeton University. It is intended to be used to identify animals in the wild, and to build biometric databases using photographs taken in the field. We are currently using it to build a zebra-print database for Plains and Grevys zebra in Kenya."

Solarized is a color palette for use in command line terminals, by Ethan Schoonover
found: 08:39pm
April 11, 2011
"Solarized is a sixteen color palette (eight monotones, eight accent colors) designed for use with terminal and gui applications. It has several unique properties. I designed this colorscheme with both precise CIELAB lightness relationships and a refined set of hues based on fixed color wheel relationships. It has been tested extensively in real world use on color calibrated displays (as well as uncalibrated/intentionally miscalibrated displays) and in a variety of lighting conditions."

Homesense bikemap by Russell Davies
found: 08:33pm
April 11, 2011
"And here's my other Homesense project. Made which much assistance from Tom and Andy. It's very simple. If there are more than five bikes at one of these bike stations the relevant LED comes on. It's a glanceable guide to which way to walk when we head out. It's going on the wall by the door. No need to reach for a device, launch an app and navigate to our favourites. Simple, but I think, good."

Bloom Got Money!
found: 08:13pm
April 11, 2011
Yay: "Bloom Studio Inc. today announced the closing of a seed round of funding led by Betaworks with participation from SV Angel. Additional investors include Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr. The terms of the financing were not disclosed. ... Bloom is rolling out a series of engaging and playful applications on iOS and web platforms that make social media and streaming media datasets easier to explore and understand. Their first applications will be available in the iOS app store later this quarter."

Automatic Generation of Destination Maps by Maneesh Agrawala and friends
found: 12:59am
April 11, 2011
"Destination maps are navigational aids designed to show anyone within a region how to reach a location (the destination). Hand-designed destination maps include only the most important roads in the region and are non-uniformly scaled to ensure that all of the important roads from the highways to the residential streets are visible. We present the first automated system for creating such destination maps based on the design principles used by mapmakers. Our system includes novel algorithms for selecting the important roads based on mental representations of road networks, and for laying out the roads based on a non-linear optimization procedure. The final layouts are labeled and rendered in a variety of styles ranging from informal to more formal map styles. The system has been used to generate over 57,000 destination maps by thousands of users. We report feedback from both a formal and informal user study, as well as provide quantitative measures of success."

Apr 10, 2011

"Glowing rectangles, arrays, and extruded light" - Mitchell Whitelaw, After The Screen
found: 12:32pm
April 10, 2011
"At the risk of some sort of blog-will-eat-itself situation, I'm posting this paper, presented at TIIC last November, which includes several threads developed here previously - arrays, transmateriality, and the work of HC Gilje. There are some new bits too however, on screens, projection mapping, and lots of tasty examples of a putative 'post-screen' practice."

Apr 9, 2011

John Maeda got a vote of no confidence from RISD faculty
found: 03:28am
April 9, 2011
Ouch: "John Maeda may think that because he has a smartphone and can process the video he is taking of you (while you are trying to converse with him) through html 5 and make it interact with objects in a cornfield in real time or some such thing, that somehow his vision of what art education is and should be is 'more advanced' than that of the rest of the faculty at RISD, but in this thinking he is also mistaken. ... We believed that Maeda could do for us that which we were too lazy to do for ourselves. We wanted him to somehow make what we teach seem new and shiny in the current era, without our really having to do anything about it."

Tom DeMarco: "strict control is something that matters a lot on relatively useless projects"
found: 02:05am
April 9, 2011
"Project A will eventually cost about a million dollars and produce value of around $1.1 million. Project B will eventually cost about a million dollars and produce value of more than $50 million. What's immediately apparent is that control is really important for Project A but almost not at all important for Project B. This leads us to the odd conclusion that strict control is something that matters a lot on relatively useless projects and much less on useful projects. It suggests that the more you focus on control, the more likely you're working on a project that's striving to deliver something of relatively minor value."

Apr 8, 2011

"Machine Space" - A Case Study in Urbanization and Environment
found: 10:06pm
April 8, 2011
"The concept of Machine Space was introduced by Ronald Horvath in a 1974 Geographical Review article. According to Horvath, ". . . technology has been viewed largely as an aspatial phenomenon, and one of the major tasks here will be to translate technology into explicitly spatial terms. If geographers are to participate more fully in planning and monitoring future technological growth, explicit recognition of the spatial dimensions of technological change will be necessary. Machine space, or territory devoted primarily to the use of machines, shall be so designated when machines have priority over people in the use of territory. Automobile territory in modern American cities exemplifies the concept of machine space." (Horvath 1974, 167-168)."

QR code generators in PHP, JS, Java and Actionscript
found: 09:56pm
April 8, 2011
Severing my reliance on Google Charts one of these days.

Apr 5, 2011

Finding evidence of interaction can be difficult - Rethinking Evaluation Metrics in Light of Flickr Commons
found: 12:11pm
April 5, 2011
"Finding evidence of interaction can be difficult, as there is no one tried-and-true strategy for pinpointing every user reference to a Flickr Commons image. Finally, the ways in which users can interact with these images is constantly evolving and changing; it is nearly impossible to anticipate all of the interactions that can take place. This paper will examine how five institutions - the Library of Congress, Powerhouse Museum, the Smithsonian, New York Public Library, and Cornell University Library - are navigating the concept of evaluation in the Web 2.0 arena. While each institution has a different take on approaches to assessing the impact of a digital library collection that exists beyond its borders, common themes do emerge."

Apr 4, 2011

Names for points: Michael Frumin's OpenStreetBlock
found: 12:37am
April 4, 2011
"Please put your hands together for... OpenStreetBlock -- a web service for turning a given lat/lon coordinate (e.g. 40.737813,-73.997887) into a textual description of the actual city block to which the coordinate points (e.g. "West 14th Street bet. 6th Ave. & 7th Ave") using OpenStreetMap data. There are likely many applications for such a service. It should be quite useful any time one might need to succinctly describe a given location (or set of locations) without using a map. I imagine it would be particularly helpful for field testing a real-time bus tracking and customer information system using a smartphone or other small mobile browser."

Apr 3, 2011

"So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep" - Josh Nimoy's VFX notes on Tron Legacy
found: 06:49pm
April 3, 2011
"I cheered when Trinity in The Matrix used nmap and ssh (and so did you). Then I cringed again when I saw that inevitably, Hollywood had decided that nmap was the thing to use for all its hacker scenes (see Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard 4, Girl with Dragon Tattoo, The Listening, 13: Game of Death, Battle Royale, Broken Saints, and on and on). In Tron, the hacker was not supposed to be snooping around on a network; he was supposed to kill a process. So we went with posix kill and also had him pipe ps into grep. I also ended up using emacs eshell to make the terminal more l33t. The team was delighted to see my emacs performance -- splitting the editor into nested panes and running different modes."

Disenfranchise, Demean, Delete: Jason Scott tells The Splendiferous Story of Archive Team
found: 04:48pm
April 3, 2011
"Right now, we live in a world where the wholesale destruction of a place like Geocities is a punchline, a tossed off puff piece. The natural order of doing business. It IS the natural order of doing business. The current natural order of things for hosting user-generated content is this: Disenfranchise. Demean. Delete. Disenfranchise. Cut off any amount of support or awareness by users of their environment and what they are putting their lives into. Demean. When a site falls out of favor, act like it's an electronic ghetto, not worth consideration as a valid entity. Delete. Give a random amount of warning, and I mean, it really is completely arbitrary and made up, and then delete, with no recourse."

Only nine more Googles: Advertising and the Bubble
found: 04:19pm
April 3, 2011
"You know what? Fuck it. Hey Silicon Valley. You can have EVERY SINGLE PENNY the US spends on advertising. $200 billion. Forgive me, I'm mixing figures here, but it will still be broadly be true. You know what? TAKE THE WHOLE WORLD. Hey internet, take every penny spent on advertising in the whole, wide world. $450 billion. You already have just over $100 billion of it. You only get 350% more growth. At all. Ever. Google's revenue? Let's call it $36 billion. YOU ONLY GET NINE MORE GOOGLES. Worldwide. If you get it all. And you will not, ever, get it all."

Apr 2, 2011

Southern California's great citrus had its crate advertising
found: 04:35pm
April 2, 2011
"The lettering specialists were pros in their own right. Many were aging bank-note engravers from the East or Midwest whose eyesight was fading, according to McClelland. 'They came out west to retire and ended up getting jobs doing label and poster lettering,' he said. 'They were the best around at the time, which is why the lettering on the labels was so incredible.'"

I made lieutenant on Old Weather - "Our Weather's Past, the Climate's Future"
found: 11:52am
April 2, 2011
"Help scientists recover worldwide weather observations made by Royal Navy ships around the time of World War I. These transcriptions will contribute to climate model projections and improve a database of weather extremes. Historians will use your work to track past ship movements and the stories of the people on board."

Apr 1, 2011

Ushahidi's Null Island Referendum - "With this victory, today we are all Nulliers!"
found: 05:43pm
April 1, 2011
"It's nearing evening half-way around the world for the people of Null Island, but as darkness falls across the land, the sun is rising for democracy. Today the people of Null Island are celebrating a successful referendum to their constitution, a small victory on their path to become recognized by the international community. The campaign was documented by citizen bloggers who participated by contributing to the deployment of Ushahidi."

RANDOM.ORG - REST web service from randomness via atmospheric noise
found: 12:13pm
April 1, 2011
"RANDOM.ORG is a true random number service that generates randomness via atmospheric noise. This page describes how to use automated clients to interface to the service. The service can be accessed via HTTP. The HTTP Interface Description explains how to do this and the HTTP Client Archive contains clients donated by generous RANDOM.ORG users."

Mar 31, 2011

Richard Scarry and our diminished capacity to understand and represent work: What Do People Do All Day?
found: 09:07pm
March 31, 2011
"I return to a favourite topic: books for children and what they tell them (and us) about society, and especially about work. I continue to operate on the basis of an anecdotal hunch, not yet supported by a systematic and quantitative survey of the literature: namely, that we don't do this any more, that there is no longer a market for this kind of book: the comprehensive telling of how the economy operates, along with attempts to place the individual in it. This is not to say, as usual, that the accounts are uncomplicated, nor that they are ideologically transparent or sympathetic. But rather that it may say something that we've stopped even trying - something about the less visible, tangible nature of work, but also about our diminished capacity to understand and represent it. "

Seven on Seven - Rhizome pairs technologists & artists, with possible categorization errors
found: 12:40pm
March 31, 2011
"Presented by AOL, Seven on Seven will pair seven leading artists with seven game-changing technologists in teams of two, and challenge them to develop something new - be it an application, social media, artwork, product, or whatever they imagine - over the course of a single day. The seven teams will unveil their ideas at a one-day event at the New Museum on May 14th, 2011. Artists: Michael Bell-Smith, Ricardo Cabello (mr. doob), Cao Fei, Liz Magic Laser, Zach Lieberman, Rashaad Newsome, Camille Utterback. Technologists: Andy Baio, Ben Cerveny, Jeri Ellsworth, Kellan Elliott-McCrea, Bre Pettis, Chris Poole, Erica Sadun."

Mar 29, 2011

"200 OK, Said the owl." Private Webhooks. Private Feeds.
found: 01:49pm
March 29, 2011
Blaine Cook: "This post is for people who want to be able to subscribe to private feeds, or people who want to be able to communicate from one site to another using web hooks. I've talked a number of times on the subject at various conferences, but haven't posted publicly about the approach. Thank fully, it's simple. You can see the whole thing here, in this nice set of slides:"

My Little Pony: 300
found: 03:25am
March 29, 2011
We're in for one wild night.

Disaster Relief 2.0 Report features OpenStreetMap
found: 02:32am
March 29, 2011
"Each major humanitarian disaster rips open a gap between the past and present, between what once was and what is now. ... The race to fill this information gap - to assess the damage and plan a response - is a dynamic familiar to seasoned responders to major sudden onset emergencies. After a large-scale disaster, there is always a massive effort to collect and analyze large volumes of data and distill from the chaos the critical information needed to target humanitarian aid most efficiently. But the response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was different. For the first time, members of the community affected by the disaster issued pleas for help using social media and widely available mobile technologies. Around the world, thousands of ordinary citizens mobilized to aggregate, translate, and plot these pleas on maps and to organize technical efforts to support the disaster response."

Urban Strategies Council and Oakland Police Department develop smarter policing
found: 02:29am
March 29, 2011
"Following a two-year pilot program sponsored by Council member Desley Brooks, and with the support of Chief Anthony Batts, Urban Strategies Council has come on board to assist the Oakland Police Department with crime mapping and analysis in late 2010, helping the entire department develop new crime prevention tactics, usable mapping, and resource management. Junious Williams, the CEO, said, 'This type of public-private partnership is critically important to effectively tackling social problems like crime. We look forward to establishing similar partnerships with other public agencies.' ... Since the inception of this partnership, the first in the entire state, the Council has been delivering valuable crime analysis and mapping to key police personnel on a weekly basis. This intelligence is tailored to meet the distinct needs of Oakland law enforcement and supports dozens of senior department staff and beat officers on the job."

Mar 28, 2011

#Wikileakspaper: Pissing about on the boundary between physical and digital
found: 01:37pm
March 28, 2011
James Bridle: "Consider #wikileakspaper an unsatisfactory experiment, but a necessary one. For a while now, I have been pissing about on the boundary between physical and digital, printing out bits of the internet, making things that look like the things we know (eg, eg, eg). And I realise I have been doing this in order to understand what happens when things pass in the opposite direction; into air. Because the traffic is almost entirely in the other direction. We are taking the things we know and transmuting them into something we do not yet understand: books, literature, news, truth."

Mar 24, 2011

Safety Maps: Make and share maps of safe places to meet during an emergency
found: 01:12pm
March 24, 2011
Nurri, Adam, Tom and me: "Have you ever thought about how you'd stay in touch with your loved ones if your city experienced a natural disaster or other emergency? Safety Maps is a free online tool that helps you plan for this situation. You can use it to choose a safe meeting place, print a customized map that specifies where it is, and share this map with your loved ones."

Mar 22, 2011

EaselJS: Flash developers remake Canvas in their own image
found: 02:32am
March 22, 2011
"The new Canvas element in HTML5 is powerful, but it can be difficult to work with. It has no internal concept of discrete display elements, so you are required to manage updates manually. The Easel Javascript library provides a retained graphics mode for canvas including a full, hierarchical display list, a core interaction model, and helper classes to make working with Canvas much easier."

Carried away by the "Twitter Can't Topple Dictators" genre
found: 02:28am
March 22, 2011
Jay Rosen: "So these are the six signs that identify the genre, Twitter Can't Topple Dictators. 1.) Nameless fools are staking maximalist claims. 2.) No links we can use to check the context of those claims. 3.) The masses of deluded people make an appearance so they can be ridiculed. 4.) Bizarre ideas get refuted with a straight face. 5.) Spurious historicity. 6.) The really hard questions are skirted. If that's the genre, what's the appeal? ... Almost everyone is a little wary of being fooled by The Amazing and getting carried away. When we nod along with Twitter Can't Topple Dictators we're assuring ourselves that our excitement is contained, that we're being realistic, mature, grown-up about it."

Mar 21, 2011

List of Digital Humanities GIS Projects
found: 12:58pm
March 21, 2011
"Being a list of Digital Humanities GIS (Geographical Information Systems) projects. See this post for background. Not included here are projects directed at digitizing old maps; valuable though that is, what I list here are investigations. It is far from complete; I will be adding to it for the next few months, and then hopefully it will be replaced by a crowd-sourced version."

Dwarves: studying racism in video games
found: 03:43am
March 21, 2011
"She noted that in Lineage 2, so many Chinese gold and loot farmers had chosen to play as female dwarves that players began killing them, adding anti-Chinese slurs as they did so. 'What happened was that female dwarfs become an unplayable race. They basically became a racial minority, with the same status as immigrant workers-they become a race, which is an interesting thing,' she said. 'Race doesn't happen because of biology-it happens because of culture.'"

Mar 20, 2011

The raster tragedy at low resolution - type hinting for screens
found: 10:09pm
March 20, 2011
"The computer has to be told, which things must not give way. This is what is colloquially called hinting. More precisely, it is called grid-fitting or instructing, since we give the computer precise instructions how to fit the outlines to the grid before turning on the pixels. The purpose of hinting is to... 1) Preserve regularity of locations and distances 2) Preserve near-regularity of locations and distances 3) Preserve proportions 4) Control digitized appearance."

Bill Drummond's The17 - ABOUT
found: 07:13pm
March 20, 2011
"There were times during the 1990s when I was tempted to try and take the sound that I could hear in my head and turn it into a reality. This urge was always successfully thwarted. We all know very well that there is little worse than someone who has had a modicum of success in popular music thinking they can turn their hand to more 'serious' music, or indeed writing books, making art, editing national newspapers for the day or even saving the world. I made a pact between me and myself. I would not attempt to turn these voices into a 'real' choir until I reached the age of 60 in 2013. By that time I assumed everyone would have forgotten I had ever been involved in popular music or I would have grown bored of the idea of making real the voices in my head."

Mar 19, 2011

Extracting article text from HTML documents
found: 02:43pm
March 19, 2011
"In the world of web scraping, text mining and article reading utilities (readability bookmarklet) there is an ever growing demand for utilities that are capable of distinguishing parts of a HTML document which represent an article apart from other common website building blocks like menus, headers, footers, ads etc. Turns out this problem was baffling researchers since the early 00s. Keep in mind, that back then, folks were still making websites with microsoft frontpage. The majority of methods presented in research papers from that epoch are nowadays useless due to strong assumptions and heuristics that don't apply on today's web development practices. In the following chapters I'll try to review some article text extraction methods that are applicable to today's websites. They mostly leverage on machine learning, statistics and a wide rage of heuristics."

Mar 18, 2011

HTML does not have a version number
found: 07:11pm
March 18, 2011
For all the reasons in this document, an API for a single-instance web services (e.g. Flickr, etc.) should not be versioned: "As previously resolved, the HTML language defined by the HTML5 spec does not have a version indicator. Distinguishing between incompatible versions of HTML was deemed to be 'something that will likely never exist', noting that 'something that has no observable effect leads to confusion; and the indicator itself would tend to encourage fragmentation and additional modes - something that there is general consensus is undesirable'. ... HTML5 redefines HTML, such that when it is published it obsoletes previous definitions: it will define a conforming document written in HTML, and indeed will be the only current definition of an HTML document."

"Smartphone This Shit"
found: 07:00pm
March 18, 2011

Tabula Peutingeriana - Roman road map
found: 11:45am
March 18, 2011
"The Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger table, Peutinger Map) is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. The original map of which this is a unique copy was last revised in the fourth or early fifth century. It covers Europe, parts of Asia (Persia, India) and North Africa. ... It is a very schematic map: the land masses are distorted, especially in the east-west direction. The map shows many Roman settlements, the roads connecting them, rivers, mountains, forests and seas. The distances between the settlements are also given. The three most important cities of the Roman Empire, Rome, Constantinople and Antioch, are represented with special iconic decoration."

David Lynch models paintings with his hair
found: 11:38am
March 18, 2011
What it says on the tin.

Operation Earnest Voice: The contract says that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and other necessary details
found: 11:34am
March 18, 2011
"The US military is making a software that will allow it to clandestinely manipulate social websites like Facebook and Twitter to spread propaganda, it was reported here Friday. The Guardian reported that the 'sock puppet' software creates fake online identities to influence internet conversations and then spread pro-US propaganda. A firm based in California has been awarded the contract with US Central Command (Centcom) to develop an "online persona management service". It will permit one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based across the globe."

Cropmarks are how underground archaeological features may be visible from the air
found: 02:00am
March 18, 2011
"Cropmarks or Crop marks are a means through which sub-surface archaeological, natural and recent features may be visible from the air or a vantage point on higher ground or a temporary platform. Along with soil marks and frost marks they can reveal buried archaeological sites not visible from the ground. ... Crop marks appear due the principle of differential growth. One of the factors controlling the growth of vegetation is the condition of the soil. A buried stone wall for example will affect crop growth above it, as its presence channels water away from its area and occupies the space of the more fertile soil. Conversely, a buried ditch, with a fill containing more organic matter than the natural earth, provides much more conducive conditions and water will naturally collect there, nourishing the plants growing above."

Feb 27, 2011

Native iPhone/iPad apps in JavaScript
found: 10:44pm
February 27, 2011
"In case you're as late to the party as me, it turns out that you can get web apps to behave like native apps. In this article, I'll explain how to: strip away the browser chrome (the url bar and button bar); prevent viewport scrolling and scaling; respond to multi-touch and gesture events; use webkit CSS to get the iPhone OS look and feel; cache the app so it runs without internet access; get a custom icon on the home screen; and have a splash screen load at the start."

BitMate - BitTorrent for the Less Bandwidth-Privileged
found: 03:23pm
February 27, 2011
"In countries where broadband Internet is widespread, BitTorrent accounts for as much as 70% of the overall Internet traffic. In contrast, in developing countries, BitTorrent is almost unusable on the typically low bandwidth dialup connections and accounts for less than 10% of the overall traffic. BitMate is designed to enhance the performance of hosts with low-bandwidth connections. Importantly, BitMate enhances the performance of low-bandwidth nodes without cheating, circumventing the fairness policy of BitTorrent or adversely affecting the performance of other peers. BitMate outperforms vanilla BitTorrent by as much as 70% in download performance, while at the same time improving upload contribution by as much as 1000%!"

Feb 24, 2011

Facebook and the Tories: The advantage of nihilism
found: 12:33pm
February 24, 2011
"The Zuckerberg-Osborne strategy is the inverse - it is to refuse articulation, to keep one's personal vocation as private and mysterious as possible, to create an illusion that one has no justification for one's actions. It is a lie, of course, but one that then maximises room for manoeuvre. In practice, the nihilist is not quite without any morality, just without any confession of one; laughter is offered in place of explanation or justification."

Feb 23, 2011

Carmageddon - Turning off friction in GTA 4
found: 03:34am
February 23, 2011

Archive Team Is Here To Rescue Your Shit - Yahoo Video
found: 03:06am
February 23, 2011
"Between their commentary, combining of contexts, and general curating, you can begin to see all the interesting ways people used Geocities to express themselves and live their lives. This is just what I had hoped would happen. ... as usual Yahoo! is deleting terabytes of user-generated content and as usual they are doing it in a clunky, fucked-up manner and as usual the timeframe is arbitrary and out of nowhere and as usual Archive Team is here to clean up the fucking mess. So we've been downloading it. We've been downloading it for a month. Seriously. It's been a crack team of people, all donating time, bandwidth and disk space to download every single video out of Yahoo! Video. We're at full clip, but we need more volunteers, or we're not going to make it."

Ronald Lampitt, The Map that Came to Life, 1948
found: 02:59am
February 23, 2011
British childrens' book about maps.

Noncontiguous cartograms in OpenLayers and Polymaps
found: 02:51am
February 23, 2011
"I wanted to be able to load in any polygonal geodata file (supported by the chosen web mapping framework) and resize the features based on any numerical attribute in order to form a noncontiguous cartogram. The advantage of implementing this within a web mapping framework is obviously that additional data layers from various sources can easily be over or underlain. As a test and proof of concept for both frameworks, I wanted to reproduce Olson's graphic (above) as best as I fairly easily could. Olson used 1970 Census data to show the number of people aged 65+ by state; here I'm updating it with estimated 2009 data. Specifically, I'll be loading this Geocommons data layer uploaded last year."

The trick isn't the code, it's keeping the website up to date: QR Codes On All Building Permits in NYC
found: 02:37am
February 23, 2011
"New York City's Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the use of Quick Response or QR codes (which are something like a smartphone-readable barcode) on building permits, to provide New Yorkers with easy access to information related to buildings and construction sites throughout the city. Smartphone users who scan a QR code on a construction permit in New York, according to a press release from the mayor’s office, will get 'details about the ongoing project – including the approved scope of work, identities of the property owner and job applicant, other approved projects associated with the permit, [and] complaints and violations related to the location.'"

For great justice, Bloom adds Robert Hodgin
found: 02:30am
February 23, 2011
"We're excited to invite you in to our newly redesigned site at, where we'll be showcasing the first instances of the experiences we're designing, starting with Fizz and Cartagram. What is important to realize about these, as with all of our coming applications, is that they are the foundations of a constant flow of ongoing iterative development, much like video game franchises. As a participant in the Bloom Network, you'll be presented with an ever-changing, ever-increasing variety of views onto the world's most popular web services like Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, youTube, Netflix, Dropbox, Instagram, and so forth. Some of these instruments will be lyrical, some playful, some analytic, many of them combinations of all three, but all will provide compelling and engaging handles on the information that matters to you most, each one evolving and improving over time, building on your understanding of its performance."

Feb 22, 2011

Illustration beats 3D: Baidu Maps pixellated orthogonal Shanghai
found: 11:46am
February 22, 2011
Beautiful and clear. Strangely devoid of people down there.

With the growth of worldken, we began to learn: Uncleftish Beholding
found: 02:56am
February 22, 2011
"Uncleftish Beholding (1989) is a short text written by Poul Anderson. It is written using almost exclusively words of Germanic origin, and was intended to illustrate what the English language might look like if it had not received its considerable number of loanwords from other languages, particularly Latin, Greek and French. The text is about basic atomic theory and relies on a number of word coinings, many of which have analogues in modern German. The title "uncleftish beholding' calques 'atomic theory'. The text begins: For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made of, but could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began to learn, and today we have a beholding of stuff and work that watching bears out, both in the workstead and in daily life."

Feb 20, 2011

Adam Greenfield on Nokia's culture
found: 03:14am
February 20, 2011
"In concrete terms, this means that projects like Nokia Sports Tracker - one of the best things I saw during my time in Espoo, and in my opinion actually superior to the Nike+ iPod offering - are abandoned, orphaned, starved of the oxygen they need. This despite what I would have thought was the obvious fact that it's projects like these that lend your brand an aura of futurity, build consumer enthusiasm and loyalty, and generally make your company more attractive as a place for people to work. In other words, they pay for themselves many times over and in many ways, whether or not they generate revenue. If nothing else, they cut down on headhunter bills; a company that fully and whole-heartedly supports homegrown initiatives like Sports Tracker is a place where bright developers will want to play." - Google's great at this, though starting to slip.

Feb 17, 2011

Authoritating Data - What Makes Some Data Authoritative?
found: 02:53am
February 17, 2011
"Once we decided information was 'good enough' it would be pushed out to customers. This is the point where the data became 'authoritative.' In the whole data creation process I estimate each dataset was touched between two and one hundred sets of hands. Two if the expert created the dataset by themselves and then one person tested it. One hundred if the dataset had been around through multiple updates that large groups of people worked on. ... What really is the difference between the two types of data in this case? To me, really just that a company put their name on the authoritative data."

Google's DSPL Canonical Concepts: space, time, units
found: 02:31am
February 17, 2011
This is one useful part of Google's new DSPL wierdness, though the "concept" naming can't be a good thing: "As mentioned in the Developer Guide, datasets can reference concepts defined in other datasets. Google, in particular, has created a set of 'Canonical Concept' datasets that are useful in a wide variety of cases. ... 1) World geographic concepts (i.e. countries) 2) US-specific geographic concepts (i.e. states) 3) Quantity concepts 4) Time concepts 5) Unit concepts."

Martha G Pettit, designer and researcher
found: 01:20am
February 17, 2011
"I am a designer and researcher. I recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a BS in Visual Communication Design. I have passion for data visualization and information design as well as an appetite for culture and history. Recent projects and activities have included curating a Walking Papers exhibit with Stamen Design, starting a blog about my favorite NYT article of the day, co-moderating a session at the 2010 Nonprofit Software Development Summit, and moderating a session on data visualization and open data at Compostmodern 2011."

Feb 15, 2011

Eye tracker watches you watch There Will Be Blood
found: 01:42am
February 15, 2011
"Intensified continuity is in stark contrast to the long-take style used in this scene from TWBB. The long-take style, which was common in the 1910s and recurred at intervals after that period, relies more on staging and compositional techniques to guide viewer attention within a prolonged shot. For example, lighting, colour, and focal depth can guide viewer attention within the frame, prioritising certain parts of the scene over others. However, even without such compositional techniques, the director can still influence viewer attention by co-opting natural biases in our attention: our sensitivity to faces, hands, and movement. In order to see these biases in action during TWBB we need to record viewer eye movements. In a small pilot study, I recorded the eye movements of 11 adults using an Eyelink 1000 (SR Research) eyetracker."

Feb 14, 2011

Pennsylvania in Early Pocket Maps
found: 09:50pm
February 14, 2011
"Briefly, a pocket map is a separately issued, folded map with a cover; they are sometimes also called case maps. Pocket maps have a long history in European cartography associated with traveling or military use. In the United States, retail pocket maps appeared on the market in the 1820s from makers like H. S. Tanner and S. A. Mitchell; and they became associated primarily with rail travel which started at about the same time. ... The maps shown here date from circa 1825 to 1925, when automobile road maps became common. All are from American publishers and of Pennsylvania and the surrounding region; many illustrate rough usage."

Clipper card can be used on Santa Clara County VTA this week
found: 06:24pm
February 14, 2011
"Eighteen years ago, Bill Clinton was in his first term as president, Barry Bonds was packing for his first spring training camp with the San Francisco Giants, and transit users were promised that someday they could use a single card to board any bus or train in the Bay Area. ... The distinctive blue and white cards are now being used on Caltrain, BART, AC Transit, SamTrans, San Francisco Muni, Golden Gate Ferry and Golden Gate Transit, allowing passengers to transfer without digging in their pockets to buy a second ticket. Clipper users set up a prepaid account, and off they ride."

TRON concept art by Syd Mead, Mobius, and others
found: 03:56am
February 14, 2011
"Who knew in the late 70s that Computer Generated Imagery would become the backbone of feature film production? Well, Steven Lisberger did, and from some team vision the movie Tron was conceived and produced, with ground-breaking visual effects. But as most always is the case, before motion pictures are put into motion, artists are called upon to be visualists, taking high-flying concepts and bringing them to earth, visualizing a semblance of reality, allowing them to truly take flight. In this case a terrific team of technical artists came together to give life to a new way of making films."

Feb 13, 2011

Russell experimenting with a second screen
found: 06:50pm
February 13, 2011
"It was interesting. I liked having the first and second screens at the same distance, in the same plane. Sometimes you just want to stare in the same general direction, not switching focus back and forth from near to far. And I liked the automatic nature of dextr, you don't always want to be prodding and poking at your feed, you just want to let it spill over. I was expecting it to work better in low light - that's the usual assumption about projectors. But it was actually a better experience in a well lit room. Dextr's so big and contrasty that you can read it easily and the faint projection on the wall is appropriately calm and ambient. It probably shouldn't be as bright as the telly. And, in a light room, the projector doesn't feel like the centre of attention, you can't really tell where it's coming from. It's a little magic. And the drifting messages from my twitter feed, occasionally fading into silence, were the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon of lazy sport."

Feb 12, 2011

fuv: "I see you're using vim." Text editor with no direct entry, just regexp
found: 08:37pm
February 12, 2011
"If you've been using vim for a while, you're probably frustrated with its lack of hardcore power. In vim it's far too easy to wimp out and use 'insert mode' to type text directly into a document. fuv fixes that. In fuv, there is no direct entry of text. There is just a regular expression search/replace function."

Feb 10, 2011

Shredded bits of a database of fingerprints and personal details of millions of ID card holders
found: 05:35pm
February 10, 2011
"A database built to hold the fingerprints and personal details of millions of ID card holders has today been publicly destroyed. Around 500 hard disk drives and 100 back up tapes containing the details of 15,000 holders have been magnetically wiped and shredded. They will soon be incinerated in an environmentally friendly waste-for-energy process. This signals an end to the National Identity Register which was built to hold the details of people who applied for an ID card."

Feb 9, 2011

Making JPEG Images Copy-Evident - "only become visible once the image is copied and recompressed"
found: 11:29pm
February 9, 2011
"Our algorithm works by adding a high-frequency pattern to the image with an amplitude carefully selected to cause maximum quantization error on recompression at a chosen target JPEG quality factor. The amplitude is modulated with a covert warning message, so that foreground message blocks experience maximum quantization error in the opposite direction to background message blocks. While the message is invisible in the marked original image, it becomes visible due to clipping in a recompressed copy."

Playmobil Stop Motion - Joy Division - Transmission
found: 03:56pm
February 9, 2011

Javascript is a pet rock - Breaking the Web with hash-bangs
found: 03:24pm
February 9, 2011
"So why use a hash-bang if it's an artificial URL, and a URL that needs to be reformatted before it points to a proper URL that actually returns content? Out of all the reasons, the strongest one is 'Because it's cool'. I said strongest not strong. Engineers will mutter something about preserving state within an Ajax application. And frankly, that's a ridiculous reason for breaking URLs like that. ... Gawker/Lifehacker have violated the principle of progressive enhancement, and they paid for it immediately with an extended outage on day one of their new site launch. Every JavaScript hiccup will cause an outage, and directly affect Gawker's revenue stream and the trust of their audience."

Krystyna Skarbek
found: 01:56pm
February 9, 2011
Krystyna Skarbek, OBE, GM, Croix de guerre; 1 May 1915 - 15 June 1952) was a Polish Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent. She became celebrated especially for her daring exploits in intelligence and sabotage missions to Nazi-occupied Poland and France. She became a British agent months before the SOE was founded in July 1940 and was one of the longest-serving of all Britain's wartime women agents. Her resourcefulness and success have been credited with influencing the sabotage organization's policy of recruiting increasing numbers of women. A friend of Ian Fleming, Skarbek is said to have been the inspiration for Bond girls Tatiana Romanova and Vesper Lynd."

Feb 8, 2011

The Organizationsbuch der NSDAP - Steve Heller hunts down a Nazi graphics standards manual
found: 10:59pm
February 8, 2011
"Perhaps a lesser, though significant, responsibility was developing a NSDAP handbook that detailed the organizing principles and mechanics of building the Nazi movement. It is this 550 page, red cloth-bound book titled Organizationsbuch der NSDAP, with the symbol of 'Greater Germany' embossed in silver on the front, which turns out to be the elusive standards manual. The DAF was also responsible for typesetting guides and other graphic arts handbooks, but this is the graphic masterpiece of the Master Race. It is not exactly clear how much Dr. Ley (who hung himself after the war) was personally involved, although his introduction is in the volume. Perhaps he did not know the difference between typefaces, or even what graphic design was. But it was his office that determined the standards of stationary, enamel signs, flags and pennants, awards and badges, party uniforms and all things involving the swastika and ancillary symbols. So someone in Dr. Ley's office knew what he was doing, though received no credit."

Feb 7, 2011

The tedious ethic and the spirit of capitalism - if we had less than we need, it would be for something
found: 06:11pm
February 7, 2011
"Telecom networks are a product without any cultural quality or definition of their own, and must be sold purely as the possibility of social interaction. The product is other people. ... What is a normal, yet special, thing to be communicated via twitter? What is twitter for? It is in many ways a credit to the power of twitter that it isn't for anything. No doubt it very occasionally offers a medium for essential information to be transmitted, maybe even averting emergencies, or catalysing them with political uprisings. But to say that twitter isn't for anything is also to say that it offers us far more technical communicative capacity than we could possibly need. We are only able to say that water 'isn't for anything', because we have more than we need; if we didn't, it would be for drinking, cleaning and farming."

"In Casino Royale, James Bond is the Bond girl. Vesper Lynd ... has to die so Bond can become her."
found: 02:49pm
February 7, 2011
"In CASINO ROYALE, James Bond is the Bond girl. Look at the way they even show him emerging from the ocean like Ursula Andress. Sexual torture, too, if less creepy-glam than being stripped and painted gold. Vesper Lynd is Bond: never not in control, never without a plan, seducing to further her goals. She has to die so Bond can become her."

Feb 6, 2011

Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Syria - Twenty reasons why it's kicking off everywhere
found: 08:50pm
February 6, 2011
"18. People have a better understanding of power. The activists have read their Chomsky and their Hardt-Negri, but the ideas therein have become mimetic: young people believe the issues are no longer class and economics but simply power: they are clever to the point of expertise in knowing how to mess up hierarchies and see the various 'revolutions' in their own lives as part of an 'exodus' from oppression, not - as previous generations did - as a 'diversion into the personal'. While Foucault could tell Gilles Deleuze: 'We had to wait until the nineteenth century before we began to understand the nature of exploitation, and to this day, we have yet to fully comprehend the nature of power',- that's probably changed."

Feb 5, 2011

Space stasis: "Your comm. satellite has to be the size, shape, and weight of an H-bomb"
found: 11:16pm
February 5, 2011
"To employ a commonly used metaphor, our current proficiency in rocket-building is the result of a hill-climbing approach; we started at one place on the technological landscape - which must be considered a random pick, given that it was chosen for dubious reasons by a maniac - and climbed the hill from there, looking for small steps that could be taken to increase the size and efficiency of the device. Sixty years and a couple of trillion dollars later, we have reached a place that is infinitesimally close to the top of that hill. Rockets are as close to perfect as they're ever going to get. For a few more billion dollars we might be able to achieve a microscopic improvement in efficiency or reliability, but to make any game-changing improvements is not merely expensive; it's a physical impossibility."

Feb 4, 2011

The mice problem - "can be generalized to irregular polygons and mice traveling at differing speeds"
found: 05:39pm
February 4, 2011
"In the mice problem, also called the beetle problem, n mice start at the corners of a regular n-gon of unit side length, each heading towards its closest neighboring mouse in a counterclockwise direction at constant speed. The mice each trace out a logarithmic spiral, meet in the center of the polygon.... The problem is also variously known as the (three, four, etc.) (bug, dog, etc.) problem. It can be generalized to irregular polygons and mice traveling at differing speeds (Bernhart 1959). Miller (1871) considered three mice in general positions with speeds adjusted to keep paths similar and the triangle similar to the original."

Raster to Vector - Centerline Extraction with FME's CenterLineReplacer
found: 05:12pm
February 4, 2011
"CenterLineReplacer is a Workbench Transformer. Replaces an area feature with its centerline. This works best with long, narrow areas. If Medial Axis or Straight Skeleton is selected, then the geometry of an area feature is replaced by its 'angular bisector network'; in the case of Medial Axis, all edges which share a vertex with the original area are removed. See the @ConvertToLine section in the FME Functions, Factories, and Transformers manual for details. In either of these modes, the algorithm may take a long time to run on large input features. The efficiency is given as O(n*m), where n is the total number of vertices, and m is the number of 'reflex vertices' - vertices causing the polygon to be non-convex."

Sustainable design is wearing thin - "consumers and designers are bewildered by what constitutes a sustainable product"
found: 04:57pm
February 4, 2011
"The majority of work in this area is not particularly impressive. Most conforms to a material palette we think of as sustainable - lots of wood, cardboard and paper - or makes a show of using recycled materials. In that respect, there is a kind of sustainable design aesthetic, and it comes in shades of brown. Plastic rarely features, no doubt due to an instinctive feeling that it's inherently bad for the environment, even though plastic is sometimes the most environmentally friendly material for the job. It uses less energy to manufacture than glass or metal, and it's lighter to transport. The trick is to keep it out of landfills. The problem is that consumers, and often designers, too, are bewildered by what really constitutes a sustainable product. ... Disposability - along with its henchman, planned obsolescence - is the real enemy."

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