March 1, 2015
[tech] How To: Some Basic (And Not-So-Basic) Photo Management
… a useful guide to dealing with a large messy collection of digital photos … ‘I recently consolidated and organized my photo library. At the start of the project, I had 13,000 photos dispersed between a number of locations: DVDs, an external drive, an android phone (and Google plus/android instant backup), a Macbook Air, a Windows desktop’s hard drive, another internal hard drive, and Dropbox. It was what anyone would call a “cluster.” Also, it was more than a little daunting since photos were duplicated across several locations with various names, states of Exif data (present, corrupted, or not present). This is the evolving story of how I got it together…’
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March 2, 2015
[crime] The strange case of the ‘time travel’ murder
… a look at the fallibility of DNA in crime investigations … ‘In Germany in 2007, traces of DNA belonging to an unknown female were found at the scene of the murder of a police officer. When run through the German database, identical DNA was found to have been present at the scene of five other murders in Germany and France, along with several burglaries and car thefts. In total, the woman’s DNA was found at 40 separate crime scenes. The German authorities spent two years and thousands of hours searching for the culprit, only to discover that the DNA had in fact been present on the swabs the crime scene investigators had been using to collect their samples. The swabs had been accidentally contaminated by a woman working at the factory that produced them.’
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March 3, 2015
[life] What is blue and how do we see color?
… a look at why the Ancient Greeks could not see the colour blue … ‘Davidoff says that without a word for a color, without a way of identifying it as different, it is much harder for us to notice what is unique about it — even though our eyes are physically seeing the blocks it in the same way. So before blue became a common concept, maybe humans saw it. But it seems they did not know they were seeing it. If you see something yet can’t see it, does it exist? Did colors come into existence over time? Not technically, but our ability to notice them may have…’
March 4, 2015
[blog] LinkMachineGo – 15 Years Of “A Hypertext Reference Equals” – I did it! :) …
March 5, 2015
[politics] Bill Clinton portrait artist hints at Monica Lewinsky scandal
… how an artist incorporated Monica Lewinsky’s Blue Dress
into a portrait of Bill Clinton … ‘“If you look at the left-hand side of it there’s a mantle in the Oval Office and I put a shadow coming into the painting and it does two things,” Shanks said. “It actually literally represents a shadow from a blue dress that I had on a mannequin, that I had there while I was painting it, but not when he was there.”Lewinsky’s stained blue dress itself became a symbol of the scandal during the 1990s. The shadow “is also a bit of a metaphor in that it represents a shadow on the office he held, or on him,” Shanks said.’
March 6, 2015
[aircrash] How Crazy Am I to Think I Know Where MH370 Is?
… well-written alternative theory on what might have happened to missing flight MH370
I realized that I already had a clue that hijackers had been in the E/E bay. Remember the satcom system disconnected and then rebooted three minutes after the plane left military radar behind. I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how a person could physically turn the satcom off and on. The only way, apart from turning off half the entire electrical system, would be to go into the E/E bay and pull three particular circuit breakers. It is a maneuver that only a sophisticated operator would know how to execute, and the only reason I could think for wanting to do this was so that Inmarsat would find the records and misinterpret them. They turned on the satcom in order to provide a false trail of bread crumbs leading away from the plane’s true route.
It’s not possible to spoof the BFO data on just any plane. The plane must be of a certain make and model, 17equipped with a certain make and model of satellite-communications equipment,18 and flying a certain kind of route19 in a region covered by a certain kind of Inmarsat satellite.20 If you put all the conditions together, it seemed unlikely that any aircraft would satisfy them. Yet MH370 did.
I imagine everyone who comes up with a new theory, even a complicated one, must experience one particularly delicious moment, like a perfect chord change, when disorder gives way to order. This was that moment for me. Once I threw out the troublesome BFO data, all the inexplicable coincidences and mismatched data went away. The answer became wonderfully simple. The plane must have gone north.
March 7, 2015
[web] What does HTML’s “HREF” stand for?
… ‘Today it occurred to me that, after a little over ten years of basic fluency in HTML, I have absolutely no idea why the href attribute is named “href”. Why not “url”, “link”, or even just “ref”?’
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March 8, 2015
[tech] This guy’s light bulb performed a DoS attack on his entire smart house
… the downside to smart-houses: more technology in your life means more tech support problems … ‘He realized that his light fixture had burned out, and was trying to tell the hub that it needed attention. To do so, it was sending continuous requests that had overloaded the network and caused it to freeze. “It was a classic denial of service attack,” says Rojas. The light was performing a DoS attack on the smart home to say, ‘Change me.’” Rojas changed the bulb, which fixed the problem.’
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March 9, 2015
[ukip] Why the media are wrong about UKIP: They’re not dangerous, they’re an irrelevant spent force
… Rob Manuel On UKIP … ‘If you want to get a sense of what it’s like to be here – read these three sentences followed by huge cheers: “I want you to imagine that tomorrow the Channel Tunnel is blown up!” “The old establishment parties and their willing lapdogs in the media!” “We cannot even choose what vacuum cleaners we use!” I found myself drifting off and accidentally clapped a speech out of reflex, then panicked that another journalist might have seen me – my secret UKIP-loving shame!’
March 10, 2015
[space] A Dust Devil on Mars
… go take a look at this amazing picture taken from a satellite orbiting Mars.
March 11, 2015
[science] 13 Science Myths You Probably Believe
… … ‘Whether you can roll your tongue or not depends on your genes – In a 1940 study some children managed to learn the skill. Eleven years later, some scientists showed that the number of tongue rollers among Japanese school children increased by 20% between the ages of 6–7 and 12. So it can’t be purely genetic.’
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March 13, 2015
[movies] The Grantland Q&A: Errol Morris
… big interview with Errol Morris … On Donald Rumsfeld: ‘But I think — and I could be just making excuses for myself — that there’s a portrait that emerges [in The Unknown Known] that’s very different and far more interesting than the portrait you would’ve gotten by having him walk off the set or repeatedly refuse to answer questions, which is what would’ve happened. There’s something about his manner that reveals to me much about the man. A refusal to engage stuff with any meaning is really frightening, and I think that’s part of who he is. There’s a whole class of people who love to push people around but don’t love to think about stuff carefully.’
March 14, 2015
[email] Emkei’s Instant Mailer
… When you absolutely have to send fake email from a tooth fairy I recommend Emkei’s Instant Mailer. Accept no substitutes.
March 15, 2015
[movies] Tears in rain? Why Blade Runner is timeless
… a look back at Blade Runner … ‘Ford’s Deckard may or may not be as gripped by uncertainty about his job as Dick’s original blade runner. In any case, his brusque “lack of affect” provides one of the long-standing puzzles of the film: is he, too, a replicant? Certainly Ford’s perpetual grumpiness (it sometimes seems his default acting position), his curdled cynicism, put up barriers to feeling that suggest it is as disturbing for him as it is for the hunted Leon or Roy. Though some still doubt, it seems clear that Deckard is indeed a replicant, his imaginings and memories downloaded from some database, his life as transitory as that of his victims. However, as we watch Blade Runner, Deckard doesn’t feel like a replicant; he is dour and unengaged, but lacks his victims’ detached innocence, their staccato puzzlement at their own untrained feelings. The antithesis of the scowling Ford, Hauer’s Roy is a sinister smiler, or someone whose face falls at the brush of an unassimilable emotion.’
March 16, 2015
[royalty] What happens when Queen Elizabeth II dies?
… fascinating look at the first few days after the Queen dies … ‘For at least 12 days — between her passing, the funeral and beyond — Britain will grind to a halt. It’ll cost the British economy billions in lost earnings. The stock markets and banks will close for an indefinite period. And both the funeral and the subsequent coronation will become formal national holidays, each with an estimated economic hit to GDP of between £1.2 and £6 billion, to say nothing of organisational costs. But to focus on the financial disruption doesn’t begin to describe the sheer magnitude of it. It will be an event unlike anything Britain has ever seen before. There will be trivial disruptions — the BBC will cancel all comedy shows, for example — and jarring cultural changes. Prince Charles may change his name, for instance, and the words of the national anthem will be changed, too. The deaths of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother both brought on waves of public mourning and hysteria. But the Queen, due to her longevity and fundamental place atop British society, will be on a whole new level above that. The vast majority of British people have simply never known life without the Queen. It will be a strange, uncertain time…’
March 17, 2015
[tv] At 18, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Is Still Revolutionary
… looking back at Buffy The Vampire Slayer … ‘In many ways, Buffy was a conventional television heroine, in that she was pretty and blonde and perky, and she talked a mile a minute about clothes and homework like a normal teenage girl (as opposed to the theatrical soliloquies delivered by characters in The WB’s next teen drama, Dawson’s Creek). But the show’s subversiveness was spelled out by creator Joss Whedon in the opening scene, as a nervous blonde girl and a cocky, older-looking guy in a leather jacket break into Sunnydale High School late at night. The girl seems scared and keeps hearing noises. “We’re just going to get in trouble,” she tells him. “You can count on it,” he replies, licking his lips. Finally, once she’s certain there’s no one else around, she reveals her distorted vampire features and sinks her teeth into his neck.’
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March 18, 2015
[comics] Dave Sim Checks Himself Into Grand River Hospital
… the creator of Cerebus has been taken seriously ill and hospitalized … ‘Sim checked himself into Emergency at Grand River Hospital in Kitchener this afternoon. He’d been having severe, painful stomach cramps all weekend. He arrived about 2 pm. I checked in on him around 8 pm. He was dressed in a frock, laying on a bed, hooked up to a saline drip. I asked if he’d ever been in Emergency before. He said no, never. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he refused the painkillers they offered him.’
March 19, 2015
[comics] Art For Art’s Sake: Blade Runner special
… the Forbidden Planet blog posts a great gallery of art inspired by Blade Runner. Below: Blade Runner Rachel by KR0NPR1NZ
March 20, 2015
[comics] R.I.P. The Eltingville Comic Book, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Horror & Role-Playing Club (1994-2015)
… Evan Dorkin completes his Eltingville Club series of comics after 21 years … ‘I have a tremedous urge to burn the pages as soon as they’re all scanned. Dressed as a Universal Studios villager, pitchfork and torch. I hope the actual reading experience won’t be as messy as the book itself. There’s a bunch of good gags and some crazy crowd scenes, and some hopefully good shots at comic book behavior. It’s not exactly the ending I’d wanted, I think the first issue works ends the series well enough on its own, but I always wanted to do a “ten years later” story, so, whatever. I can’t wait until it’s all really over and done with, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.’
March 21, 2015
[philosophy] ‘Kant is a moron’: vandals critique the philosopher’s home
… 210 years after his death an unknown critic vandalizes Immanuel Kant’s home … ‘The Russian word used is a relatively mild term of abuse for a slow-witted or foolish person, and could also be translated as “loser,” “dumb-ass,” or “chump”. The vandals did not, however, leave any accompanying critique of Kant’s thinking to justify the smear on his intellectual powers. Kant (1724-1804) is generally considered one of the most formidable philosophers to have lived, and is credited with breakthroughs in epistemology and moral philosophy that continue to define the fields to this day.’
March 22, 2015
[space] A Brief History of the Ballpoint Pen and Whether NASA Really Spent Millions Developing a Pressurized Version Instead of Just Using Pencils
… ‘This brings us to these space pens. As the story goes, when the space race was heating up, NASA invested millions (sometimes stated as billions) into developing a pen that would work in orbit. However, when the Russians went into space they just took pencils. It’s a famous story that is mostly false. Although Soviet cosmonauts did use pencils in space for a time, so did the Americans. However, it quickly became clear that pencils were a very bad idea since they had a habit of breaking and sending tiny eye-seeking fragments of pencil lead and wood bits into the air. There were also some concerns over these fragments potentially damaging equipment, even perhaps causing a fire. So there was a need for pens that could work in space…’
March 23, 2015
[religion] 8 Short-Lived Religious Manias That We’re Lucky Didn’t Stick Around
… Rule of Thumb: Religious Manias never end well. ‘The nuns were a contemplative order, and had very little contact with the outside world. This is a shame, because contact with the outside world might have helped new novices realize that initiation into a convent shouldn’t involve large amounts of oral sex with the mistress of novices. Perhaps a more open atmosphere would have given the first three nuns Maria Luisa turned on a chance to get away before they were poisoned to death.’
March 24, 2015
[history] Daily Mash: Richard III a great guy apart from killing those kids
… ‘Cheering crowds lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the former king’s coffin, with supporters claiming the princes in the tower were probably pretty annoying anyway. Historian Mary Fisher said: “If you look at paintings of Richard’s nephews who were entrusted into his care, you get the impression they were really demanding. I bet they were always pestering Uncle Richard to buy them ponies, and playing with his sword then not putting it back in the armoury. “So you couldn’t really blame him if they met with a little accident. I mean, we’ve all thought about it when our kids kick off in the supermarket.”’
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March 25, 2015
[life] 12 Devastating Middle Class Problems
… ‘A huge amount of my time is spent picking coriander out of things.’
March 26, 2015
[tv] Clarkson Agonistes
… great analysis of the Jeremy Clarkson sacking by Tom Ewing … ‘So for Jeremy Clarkson, the man who plays this superhero, to be laid low by the dull grind of consequence, of taking responsibility for his actions, is a great betrayal. The carefree promise of no consequences – the heart of the Top Gear magic – has been broken. It’s not surprising – though still pathetic – that denial would be an easy reaction to this, a stamped-foot, fingers-in-ears assertion that the facts don’t matter, that breaktime hasn’t ended, that every logic and common sense fact of workplace relationships be suspended so that our hero can – yet again – jump free and rollick on to his next adventure.’
March 28, 2015
[space] Why Does The International Space Station Have Such A Weird Shape?
… ‘ It had to be assembled from pieces that would fit in the Orbiter payload bay or the payload fairing of a Proton rocket. This dictates a maximum length and diameter for each component. We can therefore expect ISS to be composed largely of cylinders, linked together like sausages. Those two delivery vehicles dictate other characteristics. The Space Shuttle Orbiter could deliver a completely unpowered cylinder, remove it from the payload bay and attach it using the robotic arm and attach it to the ISS. But, the Russian Proton rocket deposits its payload in low Earth orbit and that payload then has to fly itself to the ISS. That means each of the Russian modules are self-contained spacecraft. They have to have thrusters and fuel tanks and navigation and communication sensors and antennae.’
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March 30, 2015
[comics] Astonishing comics that ‘save your game’ when you turn the page
… a profile of Jason Shiga’s Comics … ‘Over time, his interactive comics grew more even more complex, including stacks of panels that you read by locking and unlocking different sections with pegs, and others where moveable parts shifted images around in troughs. Although these comics were incredibly clever and unique, each had to be created by hand, turning them into boutique items that were impossible to digitize and difficult to mass-produce. Shiga sometimes created less than a hundred copies of each, limiting their audience to the several dozen readers lucky enough to stumble across his table at a comic book convention. His experiments reached their apex with a comic called Theater Eroika, which involved a series of five overlapping wheels that would spin together to reveal different sequential images. “That one was so crazy that I only made one copy of it,” says Shiga. “I was like, I’ve reached the pinnacle of complexity. This is just insane. This is too nuts.”‘
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March 31, 2015
[comics] 37 Things You Learn From Working In A Comic Shop
… what Hayley Campbell learned from working in Gosh Comics in London … ‘Anyone who buys Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose is a total wrong’un, yet on a Tarot week you will absolutely read it on your lunchbreak.’
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