January 2011

(Archive index.)

Wikipedia: Toilet paper orientation. Over 5,000 words, 128 notes, 119 references, 13 “further reading,” and a list of the preferences of famous people.

The evolution of computer displays.

What if Disney made Up! in 1965?

Don’t miss the frame-by-frame breakdown, and his six other “premakes.”

(Via waxy.)

When I saw this year’s Academy Award nominations, I wondered, why is Toy Story 3 in the “Best Adapted Screenplay” category and not the “Best Original Screenplay” category? Wikipedia says: “All sequels are automatically considered adaptations … (since the sequel must be based on the original story).” Now I know.

Port your existing mobile number to Google Voice. Costs $20.

Cathode is a terminal app for Mac OS X that simulates vintage CRT monitors in various configurations and states of degradation. It can even simulate slow bitrates, and go full screen. Cathode includes many vintage themes and fonts, and is highly customizable. It’s worth the download just to try each theme once.

The vintage screen themes even simulate screen curvature and adjustable room lighting, including the reflection of some kind of conference room setting. I prefer this fictional setting and my vampiric absence, but I wonder if this feature could make use of the iSight camera.

This work of art costs $20 if you actually want to use it, but you can see the whole thing prior to purchase. The unlicensed version increases the degradation effects gradually over time, per session.

My Trilogy Kicks Your Trilogy’s Ass. Much to love about these fanboy t-shirts and website from Nerduo. If I wore non-blank t-shirts, I’d buy them both. (Web nerd extra smile: the domain name.)

RIP Jack LaLanne. 96 yo! Exercise works!

Why 3D doesn’t work and never will. Case closed. A letter to Roger Ebert by Walter Murch.

A security guard’s personal photos of the Back to the Future set.

Get Off Your Butt: 16 Ways to Get Motivated When You’re in a Slump, Leo Babauta of the zen habits blog.

My semi-regular reminder that Python 3 is on schedule, by Python core developer Brett Cannon.

Time complexity of Python data structures.

Horoscoped, generating horoscopes statistically by processing the text of other horoscopes.

IBM Centennial Film: They Were There, 30 minute film commissioned by IBM to celebrate their centennial. Directed by Errol Morris, music by Philip Glass. Switch to the 1080p version, set to full screen, and pop some popcorn.

I like how you can see through the promotional tint of some of these stories to unspoken details, and yet they’re still fascinating. I love people who love technology.

The miserable programmer paradox, Ram Rachum, author of GarlicSim.

Promotional behind the scenes video of Lexar, makers of memory chips (a division of Micron):

Sierra Adventure Games on the iPad in the browser. (Via trivium.)

Toy company, my ass, Marcin Wichary.

On not hiring, Gabriel Weinberg of DuckDuckGo.

Google Science Fair teaser trailer: has a sign-up form for educators.

An animated, dramatic reading of a review of a web game. The game in question is Super Press Space To Win Adventure RPG 2009. (Via waxy.)

Arduino: The Documentary:

Computer Science Unplugged, The Show:

Ask HN: How can I quit talking myself out of my own ideas? I’m compelled to quote coffeemug’s answer wholesale:

You can’t talk yourself out of talking yourself out of ideas. What’s happening is that your mind is telling you that your overall approach is wrong. You’re thinking of ideas in a bottom-up, depth-first manner. You think of a product, and then your mind races through a chain of obvious conclusions of what the product and its features should look like. Then a few hours later your mind rejects it as crap. That’s probably because it is crap, since in practice it’s not how great products get designed.

Instead, try to think of it in a top-down, breadth-first manner. Pick a market you care about, and the best product in that market. Then think for a week how you could improve that product by an order of magnitude. List ideas. Throw them out. List more. When we’re talking about disruptive improvement, thinking about it in terms of “orders of magnitude” is hard, so try to think about it in terms of what huge, meaningful thing the users could do that they can’t do now. Design a new product that has a fundamental reason to exist (doing the same thing differently is not a reason).

This way, instead of trusting in your idea, you’ll have to put trust into the fact that you can design a great product. I found this to be much easier - in this case all you have to do, is do your best. It’s hard for anyone to do anything more than that.

While there’s value and entertainment in the bottom-up approach, it’s easy to get stuck in that mode of operation. The more successful of my peers take the top-down approach coffeemug describes, and I’m routinely impressed by this ability. Starting at the top lets you retain the big picture view of an idea while the rest of the world, and your understanding of the rest of the world, evolves. If you start at the bottom, the next evolution wipes out most of your work, and you get frustrated and move on. This is a special challenge for people that like to participate at every level of development, from inception to implementation.

The Web Is a Customer Service Medium,

How your tablet can compete with iPad, Andy Ihnatko.

Reverse Engineering the MOS 6502 CPU, epic hour-long talk (6 parts on YouTube):

Also: The MOS 6502 and the Best Layout Guy in the World.

Visual 6502 includes a JavaScript simulation of the 6502 that operates at the transistor level, based on photographs taken of each layer of an actual 6502 chip. Their presentation, Visualizing a Classic CPU in Action: The 6502 [PDF], shows that they applied the same process to the Atari 2600 video chip, hooked up the pieces, and used these chip simulators to run actual Atari games.

(This can’t be emphasized enough: They’re completely, 100% accurately simulating 30-year-old computer chips by burning the chips open with acid, taking pictures of the silicon tracings, and simulating what electricity would do with those tracings inside the chip, resulting in a fully-functional simulation of the chip. The simulation software knows nothing about the chip except the photographs of the tracings.)

Super Mario Bros 3 Level Design Lessons.

J. Walter Thompson Company’s 100 Things to Watch in 2011.

Three Recipes by Mark Bittman.

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