BrainLog

April 2011

(Archive index.)

The Bitch is Back, Andrew Corsello on Ayn Rand, writing for GQ in 2009.

Chrome developer Paul Irish on HTML5, CSS3, and DOM Performance, 28 minute video.

How many zeros are there in 2^n?. In base 2, it’s n! Ha! I’m so funny! Seriously though, neat article with pretty graphs.

Don Knuth at Google, March, 2011: “All Questions Answered”:

Security and Data Protection in a Google Data Center:

60 Minutes story on Rear Admiral Grace Hopper from 1982:

Part 2. Wikipedia bio.

Radiolab Presents Symmetry:

The best of Google Video. These videos will be removed from Google Video on April 29, 2011, though hopefully downloaded and archived by The Archive Team.

Is Sugar Toxic?, Gary Taubes writing for the New York Times. (This is the right way to write an article with a question mark in the headline.)

Steam Lisp. Be sure to follow the link to the equally short but more direct, Where Lisp Fails: at Turning People into Fungible Cogs, in which Stanislav quotes Erann Gat’s Lisping at the JPL:

The management world has tried to develop software engineering processes that allow people to be plugged into them like interchangeable components. The “interface specification” for these “components” usually involves a list of tools in which an engineer has received “training.” (I really detest the use of the word “training” in relation to professional activities. Training is what you do to dogs. What you should be doing with people is educating them, not training them. There is a big, big difference.)

“When It’s Not Your Turn”: The Quintessentially Victorian Vision of Ogden’s “The Wire”. The Hooded Utilitarian.

The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress is the equivalent of the National Film Registry, but for audio recordings. The Film Registry was founded by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, and the Recording Registry was founded by the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000. It uses the same mechanism: each year, nominations are accepted online, and 25 are selected by the Library of Congress for preservation. Recordings include audio samples, radio dramas, historic live broadcasts, audio books, and music in multiple genres with a focus on American heritage and influential American performers.

unicode, a 33-minute film of every displayable Unicode character, one per frame. Not sure if it’s worth watching the whole thing, but when you get bored at the beginning, skip 2/3rds in for the Chinese characters.

(via waxy)

Shell-sort with Hungarian (Székely) folk dance:

See others in the series.

Yamaha Disklavier Piano Plays to Starship Groove. Watch carefully for the patterned animation of the Disklavier keys.

Glitch Blog: Road to Beta, Chapter IX: Optimizations (Part I): Operation Screaming Pixels. Part of a series of behind-the-scenes articles on the online multiplayer world from the creators of Game Neverending and Flickr.

Last year, Dreamhost co-founder Josh Jones lost his newborn son Wren to Group B Streptococcus. Josh wrote about his story on the Dreamhost blog—be warned, it’s a terribly tragic story.

For the next few months, Dreamhost customers can donate to Group B Strep International, and Dreamhost will match three times the donated amount, effectively quadrupling the donation.

The donation matching program appears limited to Dreamhost customers, though perhaps only for architectural reasons, since it uses Dreamhost’s charity-of-the-month facility in their customer control panel. If you’re a DH customer, consider a donation to take advantage of the match. If you’re not a DH customer, consider a direct donation via the PayPal link on GBSI’s website.

Jeri Elsworth talk at Stanford from 5 years ago, wonderful personal stories about being a self-taught electronics and dirt racing nerd:

The Keyboard is the Computer: The Brand New Commodore 64. A fully functional PC in a case with built-in keyboard designed to resemble the C64 as much as possible. A custom boot loader lets you boot directly into an emulator, and of course also runs any other PC operating system. My wife will glower at me when I buy one of these, so nobody tell her.

Commodore USA has exclusive worldwide use of the old Commodore trademark, and has tried to use it to sell a PC-in-a-keyboard before. The New Commodore 64 looks like an attempt to capture the nostalgia market, and seems like the kind of thing that could succeed, for some definition of success. Other products listed include an Amiga 1000, 2000, and 3000, that appear to be nothing but unreleased PC hardware unrelated to the Amiga operating system, software, or cases.

I don’t have much affection for the breadbox-style case of the original C64 (though I do own one). The C64-C was cool, as were the C128 and Amiga 500/600 computer-in-the-keyboard cases. Today, of course, computer-in-the-screen works better for saving space, and lets you pick the keyboard to taste. But back then, the monitor was the hard part.

Back To Work, episode 7: Vocational Wheel, unofficial transcription. Transcription by me; feedback and corrections welcome.

Back To Work is a podcast by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin on personal productivity, creativity, and living a good life. Episode 7 struck me personally at a particular angle and time that I felt like doing something to capture or pay homage to it. I appreciated Merlin and Dan’s willingness to use personal stories to illustrate themes of the fears and challenges of people in their 20’s. It’s one thing to hear, “Chill out, everyone has fears,” and quite another to relive the experiences of others through personal stories.

A transcription isn’t a particularly useful artifact for something as transient as a podcast. Perhaps it could serve as an alternate experience for those who cannot hear the show; for everyone else, the original audio is far superior, and reading their conversation doesn’t add much value. Honestly, I didn’t really have the end artifact in mind when I was doing it. I guess I figured the act of transcription would help internalize the themes, or memorialize the phrases that meant something to me when I first heard them.

I love listening to Merlin’s discursive and obtuse manner of speaking, but it presented a challenge for transcription. I originally meant to use footnotes or links to reinforce the direct references Merlin and Dan make, putting the official show notes into the context of the conversation. But as I went through it, it felt weird to note the direct references but leave the obtuse cultural references unremarked. I have mixed feelings about the result—it’s like explaining away the jokes—but it was fun to do, even if in most cases the footnotes simply reference Wikipedia and IMDb.

There are several other equally good episodes in the series so far, worth checking out. I have no intention of doing other transcriptions, but if anybody likes this idea, maybe we could organize to take on other episodes in chunks. (And I’m serious needing help with those corrections; there are a few holes I’d like to fill in.)

The Evolution of Writing.

The Future of Books, James Warner for McSweeney’s.

Scared Shitless: How I Learned to Love Being Afraid of Pretty Much Everything, Merlin Mann’s Webstock ‘11 talk. (Apparently Webstock has blocked embedding of their videos, but you can click through.)

How To Steal Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me), Austin Kleon.

Playmobil Apple Store Play Set from ThinkGeek:

“Frankly, if something exceeds your ability to understand how it works, it sort of becomes magic. Thankfully, for most people, that’s a pretty low bar.”

PLAYMOBIL(TM) Apple Store Playset.

The Metafilter Comics Digest Podcast!

Introducing Gmail Motion:

Gmail Motion.

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