BrainLog

July 2011

(Archive index.)

IPython 0.11 is now available.

What tiny thing in Lion makes you smile or has caught you off guard? It was from here that I learned about Preview’s Signatures feature, and the subtle improvements to running a laptop Mac with the lid closed.

You’re already a pretty good designer, Method of Action. For software engineers that don’t consider themselves to be good designers, but want to be.

Composition 1.01: How Email Can Change the Way Professors Teach, James Somers for The Atlantic.

5 really good Lion tweaks, Erica Sadun for TUAW. The first batch of preferences tweaks are in, including disabling the new window animation, re-enabling key autorepeat, and disabling spelling correction. (Lots of crazy complaining in the comments that I don’t understand: I’d gladly take all of Lion minus one or two minor features I don’t like, thanks.)

See also Daniel Jalkut’s write-up on getting rid of the little paper bits in the new iCal. Involves editing an image resource and re-signing the app.

The Campaign For Real Monopoly, Critical Mass Gaming Society. See also Marco’s write-up and Andy’swrite-up.

I feel like I missed out on Monopoly because of the “bad” folk rules. Throughout my childhood it was difficult getting adults to play because of the perception that the game was long, boring, or lacked strategy. Auctions and proper trading add significant speed, strategy, and danger.

If you’d like to try the real rules but, like me, can’t convince any other adults to play, try the Electronic Arts iPad edition. When I tried it, a 2-player game with the computer AI took less than 10 minutes. Not the most fun experience (3 actual people is probably better than 1 computer AI), but a worthy demo of the difference.

The Luck and Skill of Scrabble. Using a fixed tile order and many repeated plays of slightly randomized Scrabble AI routines, CMU professor Andrew Thomas determines point values for certain game events. For instance, the blank is worth about 30 points to a good player. (Link is to a summary by David Smith of the statistics blog Revolutions.)

Contrast Rebellion - to hell with low-contrast fonts!

In praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger series. Sady Doyle for Global Comment.

‪That Mitchell and Webb Look: If you watch these, you are a bad person‬‏.

Untris, obnoxiously clever Tetris-based puzzle game.

The Shadow Scholar, The Chronicle of Higher Education.

‪A Day In The Life of John Lasseter‬‏, totally fun 25-minute promo/bio. (Embedding disabled, click through to watch.)

‪Skydiving simulator choreography:

‪Booster Camera Video of Atlantis Launch‬‏. Booster detaches at 2:20.

What Do You Love?, from Google. Nice domain: wdyl.com. This is total promo for Google products, but I’m too charmed by the concept not to mention it.

There’s also the usual cute teaser video‬‏:

The Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Paul Ford.

Beat the Boot, brilliant interactive promo for ChromeOS.

Inside Google’s User Experience Lab: An Interview With Google’s Marcin Wichary, Smashing Magazine.

Tim Minchin’s Storm‬‏, the animated movie of his 10-minute comedy poem:

Was very sad to have missed Minchin’s visit to Seattle last month, it sold out fast.

Stephen Fry: Language‬‏:

Did Boehner make a really weird typo in his tweet to the President? Nope. That’s a character encoding error on the part of the custom vendor-supplied software the Prez is using to put tweets on the screen. Whatever Boehner used to write the tweet understood his pressing of the apostrophe key to mean to insert a fancy right-handed single-quote mark, a character that appears above the ASCII range in the Unicode table of characters. Obama’s vendor’s software ignored the Twitter data declaring this as encoded using UTF-8, assumed it was ASCII, and rendered it with a different ASCII-compatible character table.

Not that anyone but a software engineer is expected to know this. See link for Scott Hanselman’s more thorough explanation.

The Machine to Build the Machines‬‏, a promotional video from NeXT, Inc. about the manufacturing plant Steve Jobs had built in 1990:

Notice the sweeping score, and the conspicuous repeated use of the word “next” in the narration. And yes, the too-short fragment of a news clip at the end.

Fastest Possible Drawings of Everything. Concept +1, drawings +1, write-ups +10.

(You can tell I do my kottke cribbing in batches. Not in my daily rotation, but always a pleasure to devour once a week.)

The Year of Wonders, author Alex Shakar on the publication of his first novel, The Savage Girl.

Married, With Infidelities, Mark Oppenheimer for the NYTimes Magazine on Dan Savage and marriage.

IfItWereMyHome.com. Compare your living conditions to those in other countries.

Clock Blockers, A Mind Bending Gunfight‬‏:

Plot Device:

Promo for Red Giant’s Magic Bullet Suite 11 ($799). See also the behind-the-scenes video. (Via John August.)

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