l33tminion: (L33t)
Programming: Here's an article on binary math in C. For more practical stuff (in you're a Python programmer), read this bit on the fileinput library in Python (very useful, but I hadn't heard of it previously).

Essays: Ever play Monopoly and wonder why the game (as you were taught) is so slow? That's because you were taught wrong.

Douglas Hofstatder makes a point about language by analogy.

A piece on the book and television series Game of Thrones and how it relates to the aesthetic of fascism.

Economics and Society: Foxconn (major Chinese electronics manufacturer) to replace workers with robots. But of course the increased automation will lead to new opportunities for those workers, once freed of the drudgery of such boring jobs?

Meanwhile, there's this HuffPo article about women increasingly turning to prostitution (called by other names) in order to pay tuition or student loans.

A Bit of History: A story about a computer virus that DDOSed the entire internet in 2003. (The Akami tech featured in the article is a friend of mine, he currently spends his time making the mathematical art published here.)

A story about the short and violent life of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, gang member, murderer, and murder victim before he was killed in 1994 at the age of 11.

Misc: A talk on organizing an art show featuring 100 different artists, who are all the same artist.

An article on the challenges involved in Arabic-language localization for film.

A short story titled Nanolaw with Daughter.

Self Quote

Jun. 9th, 2011 07:38 pm
l33tminion: (Default)
Got the oddest citation the other day: A blog on ADD quoted me in an excerpt from the C-Realm Podcast in which I was describing the take-away lesson of the amateur podcast ethos (and amateur media in general):

"Overcome any worries that the form isn't good enough. Put up the scaffolding and get the content out there. In other words, it's good to have a well-decorated soapbox, but don't let that get in the way of standing on it."

Always pleasantly surprised to see a comment of mine come back around like this. This is the flip-side of embarrassing things you say sticking around forever on the internet. The pithy things cycle around, too.
l33tminion: (Default)
Other things that I should kick myself for not investing in: Bitcoins. Of course, Bitcoins will probably end up being largely useless and the current bubble is doomed for collapse, but I could have obtained them for cents (or calculated them on ordinary hardware) less than a year ago and been selling them to some sucker for ~$10 each now. Wonder how high that bubble will go before it collapses?

Of course, if I'd seen that a few years ago I'd never have expected the value to bubble since I'd never expect anyone beyond a few libertarian nerds to be interested in the concept.

See also this.

Solly G

Apr. 11th, 2011 06:05 pm
l33tminion: (Colbert)
My little brother is trying to make a name for himself as a stand-up comedian / social media celebrity, so I figure I should give him a link or three:
Blog
YouTube Channel
Facebook Fan Page

You all should "like" him or whatever it is the kids are doing these days.
l33tminion: (Default)
Tailor from Monday: My old suit will not fit anymore and is beyond salvage (for me, anyways), so donated to charity.

Tuesday: Snow, meeting Reddit people, and more snow.

Today: More snow!

In other news, OKCupid is doomed, it's been acquired by Match.com. An old OKTrends blog post that brilliantly explains why Match.com is crap has been surreptitiously taken down.
l33tminion: (Slacker Revolt)
Education: An essay on why going to any non-top-tier law school is a one-way ticket to penury. Ditto (most of the time) for getting a PhD. An article on the overuse of homework in elementary school.

Music: A love note sent indirectly, a twist on the multitrack music video, an OverthinkingIt essay on the song Like a G6.

The Internets Attack: An article on memetic epidemiology in the Cooks Source plagiarism scandal (more background on that), and a hypothetical story of a flash mob gone wrong.

Clowns Attack: Clowns versus clowns, an anarchist army of rebel clowns.

Politics: Why the health care bill won't be repealed (basically all of it is popular), an article on the downside of diversity, an article on the reaction to deadly airline terrorism before 9/11, an article on pilot unions and airlines.

Food: Making porchetta, omelets inside the egg.

Clothes: A post from the author of Dresden Codak on costume and character, a talk about fashion and free culture, more than you ever wanted to know about men's dress shoes.

Other Interesting: Augmented reality for the colorblind, The World's Greatest Drunk, a psychological history of David Foster Wallace, translating early modern philosophy texts from English to English, a video asking "what do sex workers want their significant others to know?" (produced by Scarlet Alliance, a sex workers' rights organization in Australia).

Finally: Denki Groove's latest video, Fake It!
l33tminion: (Exercise)
Various things of note this week:

I saw a tailor about some dress shirts, which should arrive in six to eight weeks. If that does not result in some shirts that are an excellent fit, I will be sorely disappointed. Also placed a small order here and here, and that will also take some weeks before I know exactly how I managed to get the fit completely wrong. It's a process. More expensive ideas have been staved off until if/when the Google deal closes (also if/when I have a better idea of what I'm doing).

My comforter is beginning to fall apart and my sheets are starting to get little holes in them, so I put in an order to replace those with something that is (hopefully) a little more durable. Still haven't bought a bed (a frame for my futon, rather), since I really have no real need for such a thing, but that's still on my to-do list. Also ordered a small space-heater for the coldest part of winter. Wish my room had a radiator.

Started doing 100 Pushups, for kicks.

Looks like Yahoo is going to be shutting down Delicious. That's terrible! I love that service, and no one does quite what they do quite as well. I'd hope that Yahoo would be willing to consider selling it. (And I'd hope that Google would be buying. Google should have acquired the site back in the day. It's a valuable trove of information and the main thing that could improve the site is better search integration.)

The Obama-Republican tax plan passed. At least my representative still has some semblance of honor. Wish I could say the same about my senators.

Nikki will be in town this weekend! DJ and I will be accompanying her to a Christmas party on Saturday. I am excited.
l33tminion: (Default)
ITA's company dinner cruise was nice and relaxing.

The vegetarian tasting menu at Oleana is amazing.

The movie Primer is amazing if you love time travel stories and being confused. Which I do, apparently.

Ames is still awesome.

My first batch of beer (which I'm helping ODan and EHawk make) seems promising, and is now in bottles. Will be carbonated and done in two weeks or so.

We might have a new housemate for the end of the month, fingers crossed.

Bouldering after a few weeks off is a pain (specifically, in the hands), but I was able to pull myself up a v0 (and almost a v1) after much effort.

A non-crackpot published a paper allegedly proving P!=NP. It's interesting, but still probably not correct.

Don't know what's up with this story, about Google being in back-room anti-net-neutrality talks with Verizon. What the hell, Google? I hope they're up to something clever...

Ted Stevens is feared dead in a plane crash. If it's any comfort, he died doing what he loved.

Bank of America inadvertently charged me for someone else's check. I talked to online support, who told me to call check fraud (not 24/7), who (after determining the cause of the error) referred me to standard customer service, who pushed the issue to their error resolution department and told me to wait two days. It's a good thing the check didn't bounce (and that I had enough to not inadvertently overdraw on something else as a result). Still, I feel like the money should be restored to my account as soon as the error is confirmed, I shouldn't have to wait while they sort the rest of it out.
l33tminion: (Yay!)
Another IM relay bot has been pestering me lately, this one going by the AIM handle 644642289. I'm surprised there are any of those things left wandering around.

Bookstarter

Jun. 8th, 2010 04:13 pm
l33tminion: (Default)
Kickstarter is pretty cool. It's a site for the distributed financing of small projects. Pledges are collected if and only if the project is fully funded, so there's less risk of committing money to a project that will never have enough to get off the ground. The project creators can also specify different rewards for different levels of support.

Two of my favorite podcasters are using the site to get off the ground with self-publishing, so I encourage you to check out (and fund) their projects:

Douglas Lain of the Diet Soap Podcast is working on a book titled Pick Your Battle - Foraging as Revolutionary Self-Help, a self-help guide for the urban forager.

[livejournal.com profile] kmo of the C-Realm Podcast is working on a book titled Conversations on Collapse, a collection of interviews from the podcast.
l33tminion: (Default)
Air travel news this week has been heavily disrupted by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. (Best reaction to that so far, and best response by stranded travelers.) As of today, the ash cloud is still causing trouble, though most countries have reopened their airspace. Previous eruptions in the last 2000 years have all been followed shortly after by an eruption of the neighboring Katla, an even bigger volcano. That would be bad news for the airline industry, to say the least.

Roger Ebert created a stir by writing a post arguing that videogames can never be art. (By "art" he seems to mean something like "high art" or "good art", though he seems to imply that it's about more than his personal taste.) Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku pointed out the obvious with eloquence, that Ebert is hopelessly inadequate as a critic of videogames. Mike Thomsen of IGN provides a brilliant answer to why the question is important, if video game fans, critics, or creators bought Ebert's argument, they would be intellectually impoverished when it comes to thinking about games. Tycho and Gabe were eventually compelled to comment, but seemed to decide that Ebert wasn't even worth a solid rhetorical crushing. Speaking of games and art, here's one recent title that you should be aware of.

Facebook announced new features which will bring their site to the rest of the internet (moreso than previous). Among them, easy ways to update your profile (to put more data in the hands of advertisers) and a "Login with Facebook" box that automatically shows users which of their friends are already using the site in question (bringing the forces of social obligation that make a terrible game like Farmville to bear on everything on the internet). Speaking of Farmville, the intersection of game design and marketing is indeed pretty scary, I think Jesse Schell is right to say that hasn't even begun to be explored. And Facebook is at the center of that. They really should be the one company Google is afraid of.

Twitter announced the addition of annotations for tweets, which will be what client developers make of it. The clear thing is that the future of Twitter has little to do with SMS and everything to do with mobile computing devices. (140 characters will be "length of a tweet" long after SMS is forgotten, probably.) Speaking of Twitter, Google's Follow Finder for Twitter is quite useful.

Various people are angry at the iPad's crazy terms of use for developers, which specify the language that apps must be "originally written in" (presumably to try to discourage automated porting, or to force people to use just Apple's suite of tools?), in addition to the people angry that the iPad hardware is closed. Brett McLaughlin argues that the iPad being closed isn't a big deal because it's not that hard to hack, missing the rather significant fact that doing so is now a felony due to the DMCA. Personally, I don't want an iPad that much, but I'm looking forward to the competition.

A few bonus links:
l33tminion: (Neobama)
The Senate healthcare reform bill passed by the House of Representatives yesterday is not much, but it's certainly not nothing:
Here are ten benefits which come online within six months of the President's signature on the health care bill:
  1. Adult children may remain as dependents on their parents’ policy until their 27th birthday
  2. Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions
  3. No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage
  4. Free preventative care for all
  5. Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online. While these will not be cheap, they’re still better than total exclusion and get some benefit from a wider pool of insureds.
  6. Small businesses will be entitled to a tax credit for 2009 and 2010, which could be as much as 50% of what they pay for employees’ health insurance.
  7. The “donut hole” closes for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.
  8. Requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.
  9. Authorizes early funding of community health centers in all 50 states (Bernie Sanders’ amendment). Community health centers provide primary, dental and vision services to people in the community, based on a sliding scale for payment according to ability to pay
  10. AND no more rescissions. Effective immediately, you can't lose your insurance because you get sick.
It's not a very liberal bill. It's less significant than the reforms Nixon tried to pass. It's about the same as a bill the Republicans tried to pass in 1993. On the other hand, it is a meaningful improvement, it's likely to last, it's probably a political win for Obama and a loss for conservatives, and it's amusing watching the teabag crowd freak out about how American medicine has been 100% socialized forever (also, the debate in the House before the measures paints a very evocative picture of Republican obstructionism).

(For an interesting discussion of the economics involved, I strongly recommend you watch this.)

Tennessee is trying to pass a bill saying "we can ignore that federal law". Didn't someone try that before?

In unrelated but still quite political news, Google closed Google China today, redirecting all traffic to Google Hong Kong. The Chinese government has yet to block Google entirely, but we'll see (current status). I'd say I agree this is not motivated by short-term business considerations. Rather, the cyber-attack provided the impetus for the "seriously, don't be evil" faction to defeat the "work with them for the greater overall good" faction within Google. I think it probable that Google realized that it would be easier to get out now with the attack as justification than to wait until they have more market share in China and the Chinese government decides that censoring search results was just the start of the conditions for doing business in China.

A New TRG

Feb. 2nd, 2010 11:11 pm
l33tminion: (Do Something!)
A while back, I mentioned Superstruct, a not-so-alternate reality game based on predicting the future and stimulating creative thinking about likely future crises. There's also World Without Oil, a game based on a near-future oil crash scenario. Now there's another game in that vein, starting in March, called Evoke, billing itself as both a game and "a crash course in changing the world".

The creator of the ESP Game made a compelling case that solitaire-hours could be put to work on computational tasks, but maybe there are even more powerful ways that games could be turned to social good. It will be interesting to watch people's attempts to explore that problem space.
l33tminion: (Wings)
This evening, I saw the film Ink with Shoshana. I'd pre-ordered the DVD for that film after seeing a story on Reddit about how pirated downloads of the movie had taken off. The thread mentioned that the studio was the same one behind this short film, which I'd really liked but had subsequently slipped my mind.

The story of Ink centers around a man who's life is in a downward spiral. He's grief-stricken over his wife's death, he's estranged from his daughter, and a major deal for his business is at risk of falling through. The story is also about two factions of warring spirits. The Storytellers, in balance with their emotions, bring pleasant dreams to humanity, guiding people towards their potential. The Incubi, on the other hand, have cut themselves off from their emotions, hiding behind a facade of vanity and pride, living in a hell of their own creation. They bring nightmares to humanity, drawing the vulnerable in to share their fate.

The movie is an excellent piece of independent cinema. The fantastic elements are interesting and fit well with the visual style of the movie, the story starts off enigmatic but fits together in the end, the visual effects do a wonderful job of conveying the blending of dream and reality, and the cinematography is stunning. The movie was done on a shoestring budget and the studio is doing their own distribution.

If you like independent cinema and dark modern fantasy, buy a copy. Or rent it. Or watch it with ads on Hulu.
l33tminion: (Chaos)
l33tminion: (Revolution!)
A sequence of events:

1. Amazon receives negative publicity for the way they handle "adult" content. Part of this comes from the usual "search for innocuous keywords on Amazon yields result page full of sex toys" links floating around the internet. Part comes from more specific issues, like when Amazon realized that one of their sellers was selling a rape simulator game only when the media was already all over it. Of course, the item was pulled and the seller had a meeting with the business end of a banhammer, but this is the sort of thing that makes Amazon very worried. Politicians love political positions with that degree of obviousness ("rape, I'm against it") and would be more than glad to paint Amazon (and video games, and the internet in general) as a villain to gain some points with the "think of the children" crowd.

2. Amazon beefs up its systems for the reporting of "adult" content.

3. Said system, probably together with Amazon's system for customer tagging of items, is abused by conservative meddlers with way too much time on their hands / disruptive hackers* / some combination of the above (maybe assisted by biased individuals within Amazon, maybe not).

4. Books featuring homosexuality are, predictably, disproportionately delisted.

5. The internet notices the above, and explodes (and explodes some more). (If a hack, the holiday weekend timing really exacerbated the damage to Amazon.)

6. Some Amazon executive's holiday weekend is unpleasantly interrupted with the news that thousands of people are suddenly very angry at Amazon. Amazon claims it's a "glitch", which it might be, sort of. (Not a software glitch (excepting security vulnerabilities that allow people's Amazon logins to be hijacked to flag items without their knowledge), but an unintended problem with the content-flagging system.) Fixing the problem could take a while, and it's likely that the bad PR will persist in the interim and beyond.

Conclusion: Will be interesting to see the post-mortem on this one. Could be that someone at Amazon was involved, but that's not necessarily (probably not?) the case. Currently, I feel sorry for Amazon.

* Edited to add: Just to be clear, I don't believe that post (believing posts by self-admitted trolls is a poor idea, see also this), but a scenario along those lines seems plausible. The same result could also have been achieved by way-too-much-time-on-their-hands people with straightforwardly bigoted motives and no technical exploits.

ETA2: Looks like Amazon's external flagging process is not automated, or so they claim. The story that's floating around now is that Amazon was using customer provided tags to flag "adult" content, but some Amazon.fr employee screwed up in terms of which tags to choose. No idea if that's accurate, though.
l33tminion: (Error)
Interesting chatter bouncing across the blag-o-sphere / twitter-verse / what have you:

There's some discussion of the Facebook redesign, which is generally loathed, leading Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to proclaim that "disruptive" companies don't listen to their customers; presumably customers just drag you down. Actually, I don't think the redesign is bad in terms of pursuing the site's new "everything to everyone all the time" goals, but those goals seem like a bad new (not-so-new anymore) direction, perpendicular to the old awesome virtual address book ethos.

There's also a lot of discussion of Twitter, which continues to gain in popularity, leading some pundits to proclaim it a Google-killer, which makes little to no sense. Often I search the web and ask my friends in different situations, I also often search the web in the process of answering a question from friends (maybe I remember seeing relevant, but I need Google or Delicious to reacquire the URL) or search the web in the process of figuring out what question to ask or tell my friends that they are asking a stupid question and should just have Googled it themselves. Plus, Google is very likely to become better at searching Twitter than Twitter themselves unless Twitter excludes it, which they won't, because Google drives a lot of traffic to Twitter.
l33tminion: (Progress)
Yesterday, I was trying to decide where to donate my latest batch of change (ultimately donated to OLPC). While I was looking at various organizations, I wished there was a site for nonprofits along the lines of Yelp or Amazon, and posted this thought on Twitter.

This resulted in a brief conversation between me and Michael Hoffman (who evidently reads every Tweet containing the word "nonprofit"). Two links he provided were Change.org and Changents, social networking sites focused on social change. Another, Charity Navigator is the site of a nonprofit organization that catalogs and evaluates other nonprofit organizations, which is more like what I was thinking of, except an expert-based instead of a crowdsourced approach.

Of course, maybe crowdsourcing isn't effective in this context. The average donor doesn't necessarily have the means to accurately evaluate whether a nonprofit is effective and efficient (although I'd hope such a site would benefit from the comments of beneficiaries and insiders as well).
l33tminion: (Matrix Largo)
Google has released their own web browser called Chrome (more info here in comic form). I'm trying it out now. While there are still a few rough spots to smooth over (that's what beta tester feedback is for, after all), the interface is innovative, and the WebKit rendering engine and v8 JavaScript engine make it blazingly fast. I'm unlikely to switch from Firefox as Chrome lacks that level of customizability (there are some extensions I wouldn't want to do without). Still, I'll be keeping this copy installed and watching its development.

I hope the Firefox developers will be inspired to make better optimizations based on this, or even to start using WebKit and/or v8 whole-sale. They're open source, after all.
l33tminion: (Default)
  • Short Attention Spans
    • Tumblr
    • Twitter
    • What will be the ultimate conclusion of this trend?
  • Google vs. Yahoo
    • Yahoo
      • Cool UI stuff (YUI shares the shininess)
      • Cool tagging systems
        • Del.icio.us
        • Flickr (tag clusters are nifty)
        • Will any of this improve their search?
        • Is this the next way to create a web catalog, since the hierarchal system doesn't work so well?
    • Google
      • Local search becomes augmented reality (Google Maps + GPS-Enabled Smartphone = Win)
      • Innovative approach to tagging
      • Translation with a statistical focus --> natural language understanding (they're certainly hiring AI programmers left and right)
      • Focusing on internet security, what's this all about? (That plus customized Firefox running off of a USB key = awesome.)
      • Google Gears = webapps that work offline
    • Yahoo vs. Google = explicit vs. implicit metadata? Cool thought, but certainly an oversimplification.
  • Customization to the max
    • Firefox plus extensions
    • Custom start pages
      • Google has the newly renamed iGoogle
      • I still think Netvibes is the best (and it grows ever shinier)
    • Will such customization (to a less obsessive extent) ever be adopted by general audiences?
  • Unrelated notes
    • eBay has bought StumbleUpon and will likely drive it into the ground.
    • Not related to the internet per se, but Microsoft has a new product (including a new OS?) that looks awesome. Innovation? From today's Microsoft? I'm stunned... Seriously, if those things sell for $5K-10K, they will be well worth it. Go and check out the video.

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