Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The kitchen table of the future (video)

Found at Digitized

Space Oddity into a children's book

Quoting creator Andrew Kolb from the site:
Have you ever listened to a song and your mind's eye is immediately filled with visuals?

David Bowie's classic space epic is one such song for me. Every lyric paints such a vivid picture that I figured "Oh hey, I guess I'll make that into a children's book!" Yes, I talk like this.
Download the book in PDF here.

Metropopular: What American cities would say to one another if they could talk.

Librarian to search engine (cartoon)

(Via 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

100 years of East London style in 100 seconds. (video)

Found via Coudal Partners

Feynman: comic biography of an iconoclastic physicist

Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick's Feynman is an affectionate and inspiring comic biography of the legendary iconoclastic physicist Richard Feynman.  Feynman is primarily concerned with its subject's life -- his personal relationships, his career triumphs, his mistakes and misgivings. From his work on the Trinity project to the Feynman lectures to his Nobel for his theory of Quantum Electrodynamics, Feynman paints a picture of a caring, driven, intelligent, wildly creative scientist who didn't always think through his actions and sometimes made himself pretty miserable as a result. But the Feynman in this book is resilient and upbeat, and figures out how to bounce back from the worst of life.

Feynman is notorious for his irreverent outlook and his willingness to look foolish while he learned new things, an extremely admirable ability I often wish I possessed in greater measure. The bongo-playing, doodling, pranking Feynman who tried to get out of accepting his Nobel prize and drove Freeman Dyson across the country, staying in flophouses and looking for excitement leaps off the page here.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Americans and Their Cell Phones (A Pew report)

Among the findings:

• Cell phones are useful for quick information retrieval (so much so that their absence can cause problems) – Half of all adult cell owners (51%) had used their phone at least once to get information they needed right away. One quarter (27%) said that they experienced a situation in the previous month in which they had trouble doing something because they did not have their phone at hand.

• Cell phones are an important tool in emergency situations – 40% of cell owners said they found themselves in an emergency situation in which having their phone with them helped.

• Cell phones can help stave off boredom – 42% of cell owners used their phone for entertainment when they were bored.

• Despite their advantages, some cell phone owners just need an occasional break – 29% of cell owners turned their phone off for a period of time just to get a break from using it.

• With advantages comes frustration – 20% of cell owners experienced frustration because their phone was taking too long to download something; 16% had difficulty reading something on their phone because the screen was too small; and 10% had difficulty entering a lot of text on their phone.

• Cell phones can help prevent unwanted personal interactions – 13% of cell owners pretended to be using their phone in order to avoid interacting with the people around them.

The full report can be read or downloaded here.

Victorian Husbands and Wives (photo essay)

Lots more at How to be a Retronaut. Cool site, too.

Hurricane Irene via The Boston Globe's "Big Picture"

Many more at The Globe

Where's Waldo?

(Via 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene from birth to death in 18 seconds (video)

The Diary of a Disappointed Book (video)

Section 508 Accessibility and CAPTCHA

Section 508 refers to a series of standards that establish a minimum level of accessibility for various technologies. The US Federal government has developed these standards originally as part of Rehabilitation Act of 1973. All federal agencies are required to comply and contractors, vendors and anyone receiving federal money should provide products and services in an accessible format.
Resources for understanding and implementing Section 508 are available here:

You are likely familiar with the images above. As you may also know, this is called a CAPTCHA box, or, in long form, Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart. CAPTCHA is the most common method employed to protect a website’s text input form from automated (robot or bot) spamming. Their web site is here:

CAPTCHA uses methods that appear to violate the standards of Section 508. In early versions users were validated by CAPTCHA displaying an image on the screen depicting a series of letters. Users were required to type those letters into an edit field before a form could be submitted. Unfortunately, spammers used automated character recognition systems to decode the images and place the letters into the field thereby defeating the system. Additionally, vision impaired users were unable to see the images and were therefore unable to submit a form at all.

To counter the character recognition capabilities of spammers, developers started using distorted letters that were not text, but images of text. While that did to a large extent thwart spammers, it made it no easier for the vision impaired users and made it more difficult for users with some learning disabilities.

In order to provide access to visually impaired users, developers started attaching a sound file to the images. Soon after, voice recognition systems were able to automatically recognize the information in the sound file. Distorting the sound file and adding background noise addressed that. This made the sound files hard to recognize, especially by those with learning disabilities. And, of course, if a user were both vision and hearing impaired, none of these methods would allow access to a form.

Section 508 requires service suppliers to provide a text equivalent for non-text elements. This itself defeats the purpose of an only image based CAPTCHA, because if you provide a text alternative automated systems can easily pass through your challenge.

Another consideration when using an image based CAPTCHA is that images cannot be displayed by the use of a style sheet. Section 508 requires that pages should be readable without an associated style sheet. Once somebody disables your style sheet, the image CAPTCHA will be useless.

A new idea has emerged which might offer a more acceptable challenge. CAPTCHA can be made to offer a “challenge question”. It could be a simple math equation, a question that is common knowledge to all people but not to spammer’s robots. If a challenge question is employed, programmers should attach labels to the fields programmatically, and make sure that the fields can be accessed by keyboard only. In addition, provide clear instructions on solving the challenge question.

Can CAPTCHA be made completely Section 508 compliant? In its current form, it appears not – at least not completely. However, offering a combination of visual and auditory options would make a form accessible to the majority of users.

Life's Instructions: A list.

  1. Have a firm handshake.
  2. Look people in the eye.
  3. Sing in the shower.
  4. Own a great stereo system.
  5. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
  6. Keep secrets.
  7. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.
  8. Always accept an outstretched hand.
  9. Be brave. Even if you're not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
  10. Whistle.
  11. Avoid sarcastic remarks.
  12. Choose your life's mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 per cent of all your happiness or misery.
  13. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out.
  14. Lend only those books you never care to see again.
  15. Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have.
  16. When playing games with children, let them win.
  17. Give people a second chance, but not a third.
  18. Be romantic.
  19. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  20. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems.
  21. Don't allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It's there for our convenience, not the caller's.
  22. Be a good loser.
  23. Be a good winner.
  24. Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
  25. When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.
  26. Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.
  27. Keep it simple.
  28. Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.
  29. Don't burn bridges. You'll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
  30. Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets.
  31. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on life, you'll regret the
    things you didn't do more than the one's you did.
  32. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
  33. Remember no one makes it alone. Have a grateful heart and be quick to acknowledge those who helped you.
  34. Take charge of your attitude. Don't let someone else choose it for you.
  35. Visit friends and relatives when they are in hospital; you need only stay a few minutes.
  36. Begin each day with some of your favorite music.
  37. Once in a while, take the scenic route.
  38. Send a lot of Valentine cards. Sign them, 'Someone who thinks you're terrific.'
  39. Answer the phone with enthusiasm and energy in your voice.
  40. Keep a note pad and pencil on your bed-side table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 a.m.
  41. Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of how trivial their job.
  42. Send your loved ones flowers. Think of a reason later.
  43. Make someone's day by paying the toll for the person in the car behind you.
  44. Become someone's hero.
  45. Marry only for love.
  46. Count your blessings.
  47. Compliment the meal when you're a guest in someone's home.
  48. Wave at the children on a school bus.
  49. Remember that 80 per cent of the success in any job is based on your ability to deal with people.
  50. Don't expect life to be fair.
Found at Amazing Posts

The Mad Magazine fold-in collection

Al Jaffee's fold-ins, on the inside back cover of virtually every issue of MAD Magazine since 1964, have become an icon of American humor. Each Fold-in requires the reader to simply fold the page so that arrow A meets arrow B to reveal the hidden gag image. In this deluxe four-volume set, each of the 410 fold-ins is reproduced at its original size, with a digital representation of the corresponding "folded" image on the following page (so collectors won't have to "fold" their book to get the jokes).

Harper Lee & Truman Capote

Lee (Right), best known for To Kill a Mockingbird and Capote (Left), best known for Breakfast at Tiffany’s

(Via 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

NASA image shows just how big hurricane Irene is

Click image to enlarege

Book trailer – The Ghost Map: Hard Lessons in Epidemiology from Victorian London

The Ghost Map is a story with four protagonists: a deadly bacterium, a vast city, and two gifted but very different men. One dark week a hundred fifty years ago, in the midst of great terror and human suffering, their lives collided on London’s Broad Street, on the western edge of Soho.

This book is an attempt to tell the story in a way that does justice to the multiple scales of existence that helped bring it about: from the invisible kingdom of microscopic bacteria, to the tragedy and courage and camaraderie of individual lives, to the cultural realm of ideas and ideologies, all the way up to the sprawling metropolis of London itself. It’s the story of a map that lies at the intersection of all those different vectors, a map created to help make sense of an experience that defied human understanding.

A very tall bookshelf

(Via 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.)

Once upon a time in Afghanistan

‘Given the images people see on TV, many conclude Afghanistan never made it out of the Middle Ages. But that is not the Afghanistan I remember. I grew up in Kabul in the 1950s and ’60s. Stirred by the fact that news portrayals of the country’s history didn’t mesh with my own memories, I wanted to discover the truth.

‘Remembering Afghanistan’s hopeful past only makes its present misery seem more tragic. But it is important to know that disorder, terrorism, and violence against schools that educate girls are not inevitable. I want to show Afghanistan’s youth of today how their parents and grandparents really lived.’

- Mohammad Qayoumi

A phonograph record shop

Afghan Girl Scouts

Remembering Afghanistan has many more photos of an Afghanistan that once was.

The top ten jokes from the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world and takes place every August for three weeks in Scotland’s capital city. Every year thousands of performers take to a multitude of stages all over Edinburgh to present shows for every taste.

Each year there is a contest for the best one-liner joke of the Edinburgh Fringe. This year the top ten were:

1) Nick Helm: "I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves."

2) Tim Vine: "Crime in multi-storey car parks. That is wrong on so many different levels."

3) Hannibal Buress: "People say 'I'm taking it one day at a time'. You know what? So is everybody. That's how time works."

4) Tim Key: "Drive-Thru McDonalds was more expensive than I thought... once you've hired the car..."

5) Matt Kirshen: "I was playing chess with my friend and he said, 'Let's make this interesting'. So we stopped playing chess."

6) Sarah Millican: "My mother told me, you don't have to put anything in your mouth you don't want to. Then she made me eat broccoli, which felt like double standards."

7) Alan Sharp: "I was in a band which we called The Prevention, because we hoped people would say we were better than The Cure."

8) Mark Watson: "Someone asked me recently - what would I rather give up, food or sex. Neither! I'm not falling for that one again, wife."

9) Andrew Lawrence: "I admire these phone hackers. I think they have a lot of patience. I can't even be bothered to check my OWN voicemails."

10) DeAnne Smith: "My friend died doing what he loved ... Heroin."

Found at BBC/UK

What are the 115 best comics of all time?

Boing Boing is reporting that The Hooded Utilitarian recently asked readers to vote on the top comics (books, strips, and gags) of all time. They ran the list of the top 115 vote getters. Here are the top 10:

1. Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz [50 votes]

2. Krazy Kat, George Herriman [46 votes]

3. Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson [45 votes]

4. Watchmen, Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons [31 votes]

5. Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman [28.125 votes]

6. Little Nemo in Slumberland, Winsor McCay [25.5 votes]

7. The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez [24.5 votes]

8. Pogo, Walt Kelly [24 votes]

9. MAD #1-28, Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, et al. [23.75 votes]

10. The Fantastic Four, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, with Joe Sinnott, et al. [22.333 votes]

Boing Boing author Mark Frauenfelder's top 10 picks only have one match with the above list, though:

1. The Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge Stories, by Carl Barks (#12 on the list)

2. The Little Lulu Stories, John Stanley, with Irving Tripp (#62)

3. Robert Crumb's oeuvre (#17 and #32)

4. Daniel Clowes' oeuvre (#59)

5. Jim Woodring's oeuvre (#76)

6. The Locas Stories, Jaime Hernandez (#7)

7. The EC Comics Science Fiction Stories (#96)

8. Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, by Gilbert Shelton (not on list)

9. Kamandi, by Jack Kirby (#11, kind of, since Kamandi was in Kirby's Fourth World universe even though he didn't encounter characters from New Gods or Forever People)

10. Jean "Moebius” Giraud's oeuvre (#34)

The Hooded Utilitartian's International Best Comics Poll

(Via Boing Boing.)

Making the trailer to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

A few weeks ago we blogged about a wonderful little book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Books these days are promoted in part by movie-like trailers. Below is both the trailer, which is excellent, and a mini-doc on the making of the trailer, which may even be better!

The trailer:

and the making of the trailer:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The bestest Steve Jobs quotes

Gizmodo has assembled a very representative collection and is soliciting more from readers. Here is a sample and many more at the link:

Steve on design:

"The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don't mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don't think of original ideas, and they don't bring much culture into their products."
—PBS Documentary, Triumph of the Nerds, 1996

"In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. It's interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service."

When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
—Playboy, 1987

Milk and Bookies turns the tables on bookless homes

Excerpted form the site:

According to the Family Scholarly Culture and Educational Success, one recent literacy study conducted by researchers in Nevada and California shows that the number of books in a home directly predicts a child’s reading achievement. In fact, children growing up in homes with many books tend to attain three years more schooling than children from bookless homes.

As children, books were something many of us took for granted. Nowadays, we are more likely to be among the exceptions as more and more children do not have or see books at home - none, in any form. So they can't take them for granted.

One Los Angeles mom, Meredith Alexander, noticed this problem too. But rather than file it away as an interesting statistic, she decided to do something about it. She founded Milk + Bookies in 2004.

It starts simply enough. A family hosts a Milk + Bookies birthday party in place of a traditional one. The birthday child, who probably doesn’t really need 20 new toys (he or she might be just as happy with the few from his parents) invites their friends to the party. Rather than requesting toys, they ask their peers to bring a new hardcover book in place of a gift.

At the party, guests inscribe bookplates (possibly sharing the reason they chose a specific book), affixing them in each book they’ve brought. The books are then donated to an organization that will be responsible for putting them into the hands of children in need right in the birthday child’s community.

The iPad virtual bridesmaid. It had to happen.

Three Roses just because it is beautiful

Three rose blossoms

(Via ongoing.)

Amazon Begins Offering Daily Deals on Kindle Ebooks

Amazon has started offering 24-hour discounts on Kindle ebooks beginning at midnight PT each day, a company spokesperson has confirmed. There is a designated page for the daily offers. For example, the hugely successful Water for Elephants is just $2.99 today.

Who are the class of 2015 and how can you reach them?

The class of 2015 is just starting college classes. Their outlook on life has been dramatically altered by world events and social media. Technology has enabled their own personal brand-building, beginning from the time they were old enough to click a mouse. And when they say something, it’s not a handful of the select few who hear them, it’s hundreds upon hundreds of “friends” with open ears and fingers just itching to text or tweet.

Fast Company has an excellent brief post by FC expert blogger Matt Britton that outlines Five Ways To Friend The Class of 2015. Details at the link. Here are the main points

Steve Jobs: A Mega, Meta Appreciation from Fast Company

Everything that needs to be said of Steve Jobs has already been written. Here's the most meta version of the story you will read online, offline, and everywhere else.  If you read only one story about Steve Jobs today (yeah, right) make it this one. Why? Because his story has already been written--over and over and over again, as the link explosion below makes clear. Also, this will save you a lot of time.

I knew the day would come when Steve Jobs would retire... but I didn’t expect to cry. We could all see this was coming--but it is a shock. The resignation of Apple Inc.'s chief executive Steve Jobs marks the end of an era. He was that rarest of birds: a C.E.O. who actually had a huge impact on his company’s fortunes... [and] genuinely earned the label of superstar. Jobs is often identified as the singular face of Apple--the man who is the energy and creative spirit behind the company. But Apple is much more than just Steve Jobs. With tens of billions of cash on hand, products that sell out as fast as they can be produced, and an ecosystem that continues to expand, the company’s future footing is solid. Indeed, Steve Jobs's greatest creation may be new Apple CEO Tim Cook. Yet throughout the tech industry... people are in shock. Those who are Apple's most devoted fans and users are struggling to decide if they should hold on to their faith in the company. With this news, some may cry that the “sky is falling,” believing that Steve and only Steve holds the magic of Apple innovation. Not so much.

The man whose insistent vision that he knew what consumers wanted made Apple one of the world's most valuable and influential companies has oft been described as a genius, hero, entrepreneur, technologist and visionary, a master inventor, master marketer, an American business magnate, Silicon Valley's rock star CEO, the driving force behind a string of products that revolutionized the consumer-electronics industry. But he could also be a mean, mean man, a risk-taking, short-tempered tyrant, who "made people feel terrible; he made people cry" and was notorious for his... erratic behavior and poor attitude. But because Steve Jobs is a design perfectionist who thinks different, these foibles were accepted as a small price to pay as long as he remained a creative genius [who] propelled his company Apple into the most iconic technology brand in the world and who reshaped Silicon Valley in his own image. While there were flops among the pops... products created under his direction that failed commercially or functionally, the dropout [turned] living legend--a master of hype, hyperbole and the catchy phrase--leaves a glittering legacy.

Because nobody's changed the world as well as Jobs. While his resignation as chief executive officer of Apple is the end of an extraordinary era, not just for Apple, but for the global technology industry in general, we should note his very own words, because they reveal what drives this inscrutable man: "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle."

Thank you, Steve. For all you've done, for all of us.

(Via Fast Company.)

A Definitive Guide to Leonardo da Vinci’s Paintings and Drawings

From anatomy to aviation, or what Leonardo’s drawings reveal about cross-disciplinary creativity.

Leonardo da Vinci possessed a rare kind of cross-disciplinary genius. It’s safe to say the Italian painter, engineer, architect, sculptor, scientist and futurist was one of the greatest minds that ever lived, a kind of intellectual and creative powerhouse that influenced centuries of thinkers to come. Now, his life and legacy live on in the simply titled but wildly ambitous Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings — a remarkable two-volume tome from Taschen that surveys da Vinci’s life and work in unprecedented detail, from in-depth interpretations of all 34 of his famous paintings to breathtaking full-bleed details of his masterworks to an extensive catalog of 663 of his drawings. This being a Taschen production, it’s as lavish as they come, at 700 pages, 6.5 pounds and nearly the size of the Mona Lisa, and features appropriately supersized blowups of Leonardo’s paintings balanced with insightful contextualizations by Renaissance theorist Frank Zöllner and art historian Johannes Nathan for the perfect blend of scholarly and stunning.

(Via Brain Pickings.)

How cash is counted around the world. (video)

I have no idea that this is true, but it is interesting.

Fouond at Boing Boing.

Overflow Stairs (Too many books? Nope)

(Via 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Internet Archive publishes 1000s of hours of 9/11 coverage

The 9/11 Television News Archive is a library of news coverage of the events of 9/11/2001 and their aftermath as presented by U.S. and international broadcasters. A resource for scholars, journalists, and the public, it presents one week of news broadcasts for study, research and analysis.

I guess it needed to be done, but it is so very hard to revisit.

Do not cut the library's buggets, or else!!

A few weeks ago The Village Voice published a series of letters (viewable here) written by a wonderful little girl to Mayor Bloomberg protesting the proposed deep cuts in The New York Public Library's budget. After the suggestion to "focus on what she liked about libraries rather than issuing vague threats to Mayor Bloomberg," the girl revised her approach, but also stated "I don't take any BS." I just love her!

A few days ago The Voice announced that partially due to her efforts word came from Angela Montefinise, PR director of the NYPL, that the library has had its funding largely restored in the newly adopted New York City budget.

Initial story at the above link, and the conclusion is here.

Alberta's libraries, Books and Beyond (a cute video)

Infographic: Anatomy of a Librarian

Click image to enlarge

From Masters Degrees Online (even larger version at the link)

"The New Gypsies": Photos by Iain McKell

Lots more in this series as well as many more in the galleries.

Comic book biography of Richard Feynman

First Second publishing is releasing a graphic novel biography about Feynman - one of the most fascinating people ever!

Richard Feynman: physicist . . . Nobel winner . . . bestselling author . . . safe-cracker.

In this substantial graphic novel biography, First Second presents the larger-than-life exploits of Nobel-winning quantum physicist, adventurer, musician, world-class raconteur, and one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century: Richard Feynman. Written by nonfiction comics mainstay Jim Ottaviani and brilliantly illustrated by First Second author Leland Myrick, Feynman tells the story of the great man’s life from his childhood in Long Island to his work on the Manhattan Project and the Challenger disaster. Ottaviani tackles the bad with the good, leaving the reader delighted by Feynman’s exuberant life and staggered at the loss humanity suffered with his death.

Anyone who ever wanted to know more about Richard P. Feynman, quantum electrodynamics, the fine art of the bongo drums, the outrageously obscure nation of Tuva, or the development and popularization of the field of physics in the United States need look no further than this rich and joyful work.


Feynman at

(Via Boing Boing.)

Decorating with a Sharpie®

Photo series at Charlotte Mann

What is President Obama reading this summer?

Barack Obama has chosen Daniel Woodrell’s acclaimed slice of noir crime fiction The Bayou Trilogy, where “corruption festers, and double-dealing is a way of life”, for his holiday reading.

The beleaguered American president will be relaxing in Martha’s Vineyard with his family and an eclectic collection of books, from Woodrell’s tales of detective Rene Shade taking on “hit men, porn kings, a gang of ex-cons, and the ghosts of his own checkered past”, to Isabel Wilkerson’s charting of the migration of black citizens from America’s deep south, The Warmth of Other Sons.

Full story at psfk.

Animated sheet music

Watch the sheet music go by as Miles Davis and his bandmates play So What.

See also Confirmation by Charlie Parker and Giant Steps by John Coltrane.


Beautiful photos of national parks as seen from space

Alaska's smallest national park, Kenai Fjords contains one of the country's largest ice fields. Harding Ice Field feeds 38 glaciers including Bear Glacier (above), which is the park's largest, and Exit Glacier, the only one accessible by road. The area's fjords are carved by the glaciers as they move downhill away from the ice field.

Many more at Wired.

We all have to start somewhere...

(Via Libraryland.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surfing the Web at Work Can Actually Make You More Productive

The study was conducted by National University of Singapore researchers Don J.Q. Chen and Vivien K.G Lim. They gave students a task of highlighting the letter "e" in sample text for twenty minutes, then in the next ten minutes a control group of students were given a different simple task. Meanwhile, another group was allowed to do everything except surf the web during that break, and a third group could surf the web. Then all three groups went back to highlighting the letters.

The result, as you've guessed by now, is that the web surfers:
were significantly more productive and effective at the tasks than those in the other two groups and reported lower levels of mental exhaustion, boredom and higher levels of engagement.

Story at The Wall Street Journal.

Library of Congress Releases Recollection – A FREE App to Create Dynamic Interfaces to Cultural Heritage Collections

Recollection is a free platform for generating and customizing views, (interactive maps, timelines, facets, tag clouds) that allow users to experience your digital collections…”

Watch a screencast about Recollection.

Famous Lives in Minimalist Pictogram Flowcharts

Click image to enlarge
More at Brain Pickings.

What's up with noises? The science of sound. (Video)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Books you can dance to: "One Day" author David Nicholls and others create playlists to enrich the ties between writer, reader and character

From the article at Salon:
For a music-infused movie, the soundtrack to "One Day" is tasteful but limited -- '90s trip-hop, late-era Tears for Fears, college-radio one-hit wonders, a new Elvis Costello song. It's easy enough to imagine Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) two 1988 graduates of the University of Edinburgh with a Del Amitri or James poster on their dorm-room wall.

Actually, it might be too easy. A much better sense of Emma's sensibility -- cool Britannia like Prefab Sprout, Cocteau Twins, Billy Bragg and Everything But the Girl alongside English major mainstays Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell and Joan Armatrading -- appears on author and screenwriter David Nicholls' website. Nicholls has imagined the two mix tapes Emma gives Dexter (one from 1989, the other from 2000) and created Spotify and iTunes playlists where they can be streamed or purchased.

I think this feature will greatly enhance the overall "eBook experience".

How to open a new book (and no, you don't flip a switch).

Click image to enlarge

I think I had posted this some time ago, but I stumbled on it again and felt it "repostable".

Journalism school teaches students newspaper publishing the old-school way

Students in the Florida Atlantic University J-school produced a newspaper using (mostly) pre-computer technologies:

Found at BoingBoing

2011 Hugo Awards

The winners were:

* Best Novel (1813 ballots):
Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

* Best Novella (1467 ballots):
The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)

*Best Novelette (1469 ballots):
“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)

*Best Short Story (1597 ballots):
“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)

*Best Related Work (1220 ballots):
Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)

*Best Graphic Story (1263 ballots)
Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse, written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

*Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (1755 ballots):
Inception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)

*Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form (1466 ballots):
Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)

*Best Editor, Short Form (983 ballots):
Sheila Williams

*Best Editor, Long Form (898 ballots):
Lou Anders

*Best Professional Artist (1304 ballots):
Shaun Tan

*Best Semiprozine (1112 ballots):
Clarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace; podcast directed by Kate Baker

*Best Fanzine (870 ballots):
The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon

*Best Fan Writer (814 ballots):
Claire Brialey

*Best Fan Artist (993 ballots):
Brad W. Foster

*John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (1138 ballots):
Lev Grossman

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I just liked it.

Did Harper Collins rip off Brazilian illustrator Nathália Suellen?

"The story starts with Harper Collins inviting me to create a cover to 'Bewitching," Rio de Janeiro-based artist Nathália Suellen writes on her blog.

"They wanted something similar with 'City of Angels,' and I remember I had refused it because this artwork had been already sold to another book and also because of my personal opinion about the theme," she continues. "However it looks like they got angry with me and decided to copy my artwork."

The full story and links at:  Boing Boing

239 Words to Try to Use in Colloquial Speech Without Sounding Like a Pretentious Ass

For example:

The rest are at Wordnik.

Booklamp: A novel new book recommendation service.

BookLamp is a new kind of book recommendation tool that matches the actual style and content of the text of a book to similar books.

Assessing over 30,000 points of data, sophisticated algorithms are used to construct what Booklamp calls a book's "DNA". Each book on the site has story, language and character DNA, made up of different elements like settings, actors, dialog and description. Users on the site can enter the name of an author or a book title they like and BookLamp will find books with a similar DNA. Almost 20,000 books have been cataloged.

Found at psfk

The City Limits: Beautiful video.

by Dominic Boudreault. Best at full-screen resolution. Brilliant

Locations include :

- Montreal, Quebec, Canada
- Quebec city, Quebec, Canada
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Manhattan, New York, USA
- Chicago, Illinois, USA

A very clever business card

From Gizmodo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Split family faces

How much do you and members of your family really look alike? Quebec, Canada-based graphic designer and photographer Ulric Collette has undertaken a project where he's exploring the genetic similarities between different members of the same family – by splitting their faces in half and then melding them together!

View the collection here.

Should you let your employees work from home? A decision tree.

Click image to enlarge

From MindFlash

Vertical Gardens

Many more at Cohabitaire.

And garden designer Patrick Blanc has a wonderful website.

Science vs. Religion: 50 Famous Academics on God - part 2

I am not pushing an agenda. I just found it interesting.

51. Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate in Physics, MIT
52. VS Ramachandran, World-Renowned Neuroscientist, UC San Diego
53. Bruce C. Murray, Caltech Professor Emeritus of Planetary Science
54. Sir Raymond Firth, World-Renowned Anthropologist, LSE
55. Alva Noë, Berkeley Professor of Philosophy
56. Alan Dundes, World Expert in Folklore, Berkeley
57. Massimo Pigliucci, Professor of Philosophy, CUNY
58. Bede Rundle, Oxford Professor of Philosophy
59. Sir Richard Friend, Cambridge Professor of Physics
60. George Lakoff, Berkeley Professor of Linguistics
61. Sir John Sulston, Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine
62. Shelley Kagan, Yale Professor of Philosophy
63. Roy J. Glauber, Nobel Laureate in Physics
64. Lewis Wolpert, Emeritus Professor of Biology, UCL
65. Mahzarin Banaji, Harvard Professor of Social Ethics
66. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Professor of Practical Ethics, Duke University
67. Richard Dawkins, Oxford Evolutionary Biologist
68. Bruce Hood, Professor of Experimental Psychology, Bristol
69. Marvin Minsky, Artificial Intelligence Research Pioneer, MIT
70. Herman Philipse, Professor of Philosophy, Utrecht University
71. Michio Kaku, CUNY Professor of Theoretical Physics
72. Dame Caroline Humphrey, Cambridge Professor of Anthropology
73. Max Tegmark, World-Renowned Cosmologist, MIT
74. David Parkin, Oxford Professor of Anthropology
75. Robert Price, Professor of Theology and Biblical Criticism
76. Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Psychology, Virginia
77. Max Perutz, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
78. Rodolfo Llinas, Professor of Neuroscience, New York
79. Dan McKenzie, World-Renowned Geophysicist, Cambridge
80. Patricia Churchland, Professor of Philosophy, UC San Diego
81. Sean Carroll, Caltech Theoretical Cosmologist
82. Alexander Vilenkin, World-Renowned Theoretical Physicist
83. PZ Myers, Professor of Biology, Minnesota
84. Haroon Ahmed, Prominent Cambridge Scientist (Microelectronics)
85. David Sloan Wilson, Professor of Biology and Anthropology, SUNY
86. Bart Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies, UNC
87. Seth Lloyd, Pioneer of Quantum Computing, MIT
88. Dan Brown, Fellow in Organic Chemistry, Cambridge
89. Victor Stenger, Emeritus Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Hawaii
90. Simon Schaffer, Cambridge Professor of the History of Science
91. Saul Perlmutter, World-Renowned Astrophysicist, Berkeley
92. Lee Silver, Princeton Professor of Molecular Biology
93. Barry Supple, Emeritus Professor of Economic History, Cambridge
94. Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Professor of Law
95. John Raymond Smythies, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatric Research
96. Chris Hann, Max Planck Institute For Social Anthropology
97. David Gross, Nobel Laureate in Physics
98. Ronald de Sousa, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, Toronto
99. Robert Hinde, Emeritus Professor of Zoology, Cambridge
100. Carolyn Porco, NASA Planetary Scientist

Again via: Brain Pickings.

Facebook to test the idea of "six degrees of separation".

Harvard sociologist Stanley Milgram in the late 60s conducted the experiment that led to what's become known as the 'six degrees of separation' theory which postulates that everyone is on average approximately six steps away from any other person on Earth. In other words, a "friend of a friend" iterated six times will connect us all.

Now, Yahoo and Facebook have teamed up for what they call the Small World Experiment, designed to test the hypothesis that anyone in the world can get a message to anyone else in just six stages, by passing it from friend to friend.

TG Daily has the story.

The 4-Chord Recipe for Cooking Hit Songs

A brilliant little article over at Guitarkadia where they point out the most common rock chord progressions are:

C – G – Am – F

D – A – Bm – G

A – E – F#m – D

G – D – Em – C

E – B – C#m – A

And here is a brilliant video by "Axis of Awesome" in which they play dozens of songs all built around the theory. (Caution: minor and brief offensive language)