This is BrainLog, a blog by Dan Sanderson. Older entries, from October 1999 through September 2010, are preserved for posterity, but are no longer maintained. See the front page and newer entries.

August 2009 Archives

August 30, 2009

Computer Chronicles video archive, dozens of complete videos of one of my favorite television shows from my childhood. Hosted by Stewart Cheifet, a personal hero.

August 28, 2009

Directors discuss "pan & scan," known commercially and ironically as "fullscreen," with examples:

(Via kottke.)

August 25, 2009

Evolution of the design of Convert, a unit conversion iPhone app, as a short video. Also a pretty nifty ad.

August 23, 2009

8-bit trip [YouTube HD link]. Via waxy, with the comment: "like a real-life PC demo."

I wish I had the patience to do stop motion.

August 21, 2009

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale:

(Via John Cook.)

August 20, 2009

John Scalzi's Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design. All obvious but still funny.

The Impermanence, Karma, and Bad Behavior of Why The Lucky Stiff, by Zed Shaw.

Kind of Bloop: An 8-Bit Tribute to Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. $5 for 5 tracks by some of the best of today's chiptune artists. These are true covers, original works that take both the source material and the genre to new places. Shnabubula's "All Blues" is amazing.

August 19, 2009

The widely respected and admired artist and computer programmer known as "why the lucky stiff" appears to have deleted all of his online accounts, websites and projects, without notice or announcement. Reactions have been emotional to say the least. Even if you don't know who I'm talking about, check out John Resig's Eulogy to _why, which gets it right.

why's presentation at the Art && Code Symposium.

playing SUPER MARIO WORLD while taking mushrooms..the hallucinogenic kind... Epic improvised chiptune. Gets a little cacophonous later on, but stick through to the end.

August 16, 2009

"Song of the Masochist," by Timmy the Dog, Tim Minchin's former band. (This is one of those audio+still picture things people do to bootleg music on YouTube.)

Their only album, sit, was a family gig and is not readily available on Tim's website or anywhere else.

Another video of Tim solo, on guitar, "Nothing Can Stop Us Now":

August 14, 2009

Capo, a Mac application for learning music from recordings. Drag any song from your music collection to Capo, adjust the speed and pitch, set markers, practice sections in loops, add effects. And export your speed- and pitch-adjusted version to your iPod for practicing on the go. $49 only seems high if you don't plan to use it.

August 12, 2009

Silent Conversation. Beautiful Flash game, written literature meaningfully rendered as an interactive experience, using the conventions of a platform game. Unfortunately but necessarily surrounded by the accoutrements of commercial Flash game distribution; I'd pay money for a less bedecked version.

While My Guitar Gently Beeps, NY Times Magazine on the upcoming Beatles Rock Band game.

Nearly 20 years after their breakup, the Beatles helped kick the compact-disc era into overdrive in 1987, as their reissued catalog again climbed the charts. The band's remastered CDs coming next month will most likely be the last important milestone for that technology. In the current era of downloadable music, financial disputes have kept the Beatles conspicuously sidelined. That's one reason so much care is going into the new video game. While over the years there has been no shortage of Beatles merchandise, some of it crass, the decision to release the game on the same date as the new CDs is, as well as an irresistible marketing tactic, a signal that the game is meant to be an authentic part of the band's canon (as is McCartney's decision to show footage from the game during his current American tour). The Beatles are positioning themselves to once again play a significant role in the evolution of popular music — this time by embracing interactivity.

Tons of great background details in this article.

Genius multi-talent piano comedian Tim Minchin has a regular spot in my irregular listening habits. My annual re-visit of the two albums of his I own inspired me to check his website, just in case. Sure enough, he recorded an all-new album at the end of last year, Ready For This?

It's downright heartbreaking (for me) that he limits his tours and his CD and DVD sales to the UK and Australia. I can order his CDs directly from his website or, but not from The DVDs are only available in region 4 (won't work on US DVD players), so I have to settle for YouTube videos.

@timminchin on Twitter.

A piano bit:

A non-piano bit:

August 11, 2009

Time lapse short film of the creation of the cover of Macworld magazine. I find myself thinking simultaneously that it looks like a lot of work, and I wish I could do that.

A visualization of Choose Your Own Adventure #2: Journey Under the Sea by Michael Niggel. Article is from dataviz blog FlowingData. (Via waxy.)

August 6, 2009

Fermat's Last Theorem, a 1996 documentary on Andrew Wiles and his proof. Ian Stewart mentions the documentary in his Letters to a Young Mathematician in this passage:

Fermat's Last Theorem... turned out to be very deep and very hard. It is unlikely that Fermat's proof, if it existed, was correct. If it was, no one else has ever thought of it, not even now, when we know Fermat was right. Generations of mathematicians attacked the problem and came away with nothing. A few chipped the odd corner off it; they proved that it couldn't be done with fifth powers, say, or seventh powers. Only in 1994, after a hiatus of 350 years, was the theorem proved by Andrew Wiles; his proof was published the following year. You probably remember a TV documentary about it.

Wiles's methods were revolutionary, and much too difficult for even a university course at undergraduate or introductory graduate level. His proof is very clever and very beautiful, incorporating results and ideas from dozens of other experts. A breakthrough of the highest order.

The TV program was very moving. Many viewers burst into tears.

Good Neighbors, a 1944 promotional film for the Minneapolis Star-Journal newspaper. (Via waxy.)