March 2011

(Archive index.)

Handspring Puppet Company: The genius puppetry behind War Horse, recent TED talk:

3eanuts. Peanuts with the fourth panel removed.

See also Garfield Minus Garfield, if you haven’t already.

25 Years of Pixar Animation, an unofficial compilation.

HTML5 Rocks - Case Study: Converting Wordico from Flash to HTML5.


Quora: What life lessons are unintuitive or go against common sense or wisdom?

The Google Vortex. I can tell from this one blog post that Avery is going to do great at Google.

We Must Fix HTTPS (slides of a technical presentation). (via trivium)

Taylor Mali on what teachers make:

Brandon Boyer, say how you play:

Microworld, 1980 15-minute film on microtechnology sponsored by AT&T, hosted by William Shatner.

Arms So Freezy: Rebecca Black’s “Friday” As Radical Text, Dana Vachon.

Pica Pic: retro handheld games collection.

Google Goes Gaga:

The Show :: Replay. Ze Frank recollects his web series from five years ago, one day at a time.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg at TEDWomen: Why we have too few women leaders:

Field Notes: Dry Transfer Edition Instructions:

Every time I’m reminded about Field Notes, I switch rapidly between, “Who is this for?” and “That’s so cool!” I guess I should admit my true colors and buy a set. (They’re as inexpensive as notebooks from a drugstore.)

YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 Grand Finale:

AT&T to Acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom. The press release craftily and preemptively tries to explain how this is not anti-competitive in the U.S., and that “in 18 of the top 20 U.S. local markets, there are five or more providers.” This doesn’t take into account which providers have coverage that a reasonable person would describe as “nationwide,” how anyone who spends time in more than one U.S. city just had their options reduced from four to three, and how anyone who spends time in the U.S. and one additional country with GSM coverage just had their options reduced from two to one.

That’s not to say there isn’t fierce and welcome competition between AT&T and Verizon in the U.S., and quite frankly this merger is probably the only hope that there will be at least two next-generation mobile data networks with nationwide coverage.

Inside the AT&T bid for T-Mobile: Big loss for Seattle area.

xkcd radiation dose chart.

Fear is a potent risk of Japanese nuclear crisis, Washington Post.

ULTRA NEXTGEN AAA Sound Design, by virt.

See also. (via waxy)

Oregon Trail: How three Minnesotans forged its path. The history of the most popular educational computer game of all time.

‘Doctor Who’ Returns with Comic Relief Mini-Episode.

And part 2.

Cosmonaut Crashed Into Earth ‘Crying In Rage’. NPR story based on a bit of a new book on the Soviet space program, Starman, by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony. The NPR story includes audio of what are probably Komarov’s last works, which the author found on this bizarre track from an album of sound effects. The NPR story also has a scan of a speech Nixon had prepared in case Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin died during the Apollo 11 moon mission.

Why don’t journalists link to primary sources?, the Bad Science blog.

AT&T aggressively moving against unauthorized tethering.

I’m inclined to agree with the argument that given a rate-capped data plan, you should be able to hook up any device to the connection. But as customers in a changing marketplace, we need to understand that “unlimited” is and always has been innuendo for a more complicated commercial resource situation based on customer behavior. It’s only the way that customers had been using mobile Internet connections—email and light web browsing—that allowed AT&T to sell an unlimited plan in the first place. Right now, they can barely support the grandfathered “unlimited” plans by restricting which devices (i.e. which user behaviors) can use it.

The argument that AT&T should support unlimited access for any conceivable device is based on a disingenuous literalism about the term “unlimited.” AT&T didn’t “lie” when they sold you the unlimited plan: you got unlimited access to a limited resource, at a time when user behavior allowed for such plans without ruining everyone’s day. But “unlimited” does not mean “infinite,” and to expect today’s networks to support all-new data-intensive use cases with unlimited plans is unreasonable. The only effect arguing for this definition of “unlimited” will have is the cancelation of the grandfathered unlimited plans (and you could say that’s already happened).

Monthly data caps are not friendly to customers. Here’s hoping that speed caps are feasible and in our future for mobile connections. Phone-based DSL broadband promises “unlimited” access to the Internet, capped at a particular speed. If someday mobile networks can support unlimited access to a speed-capped connection, then carriers can lift device restrictions for tethering. There’s a separate problem of managing this progress in an environment of constrained competition, but we’ve overcome this kind of situation many times before, so I’m hopeful.

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 festival is taking place this week, and the grand finale concert is this Sunday, 8pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. The concert will be streamed live on YouTube, then rebroadcast continuously until it is uploaded.

A test of the Sydney Opera House exterior projection light show planned for the concert:

VCA 2010 RACE RUN on Vimeo.

Discussions in Google Docs:

Basic Mechanisms in Fire Control Computers:

Part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7.

The tsunami that devastated Japan makes its way to Emeryville, CA:

Tsunami makes its way to Emeryville, CA (SF area)

How to Make a Peanut Butter Sandwich. See more of The Content Farm, “Informative articles about every topic, written by people with a passing knowledge.”

Sleep is More Important than Food. Just a pop health article with a slightly provocative headline, but true true true, and good to be reminded. “Great performers” need more sleep than most people.

Anatomy of a Crushing, the story of Pinboard’s success during the Delicious exodus of 2010.

Conan O’Brien Kinetic Typography by Jacob Gilbreath:

(via waxy.)

Amanda Hocking on self-publishing.

Amanda writes and self-publishes “young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy,” and has been a runaway success in the Kindle store. As with all successful independent authors and self-publishers, she is being heralded as the beginning of the end of non-independent publishing whose success will be easy to replicate, so it’s good that Amanda is taking the time to set the record straight.

Maker Profile: Kinetic Wave Sculptures:

(via waxy.)

The power of lonely. Not a defense of hermitism, just seeing both sides.

(Did you know a hermitism is also a molasses cookie?)

Procrastination and Perfectionism. “Perfectionism is a matter of fantasy, not reality.”

I was saddened to see the Neptune Theater in the University District close down so suddenly. And now I’m pleased to see that Seattle Theater Group has purchased The Neptune Theatre and intends to restore it and make it a multipurpose arts venue. They need to raise $400,000 and are taking donations on the website.

While you’re there, stock up on theater tickets!

Who Killed Advenure Games?

What Every Entrepreneur Could Learn from Justin Bieber.

Installing gnuplot on Mac OS X 10.6

I wanted to install gnuplot, the infamous data visualization tool, on my laptop running Mac OS X 10.6.6. I got the idea (probably from this page) that I should build gnuplot from its original sources. Of course, this brought in a half-mile of dependencies that also needed to be compiled, mostly via libgd. Thankfully, this libgd and Mac OS X document from the libgd wiki got me most of the way there.

If you want gnuplot on Mac OS X, you might consider DarwinPorts or Fink, package systems designed to avoid the kinds of problems I work through below. I’ve been avoiding packaging systems on my computers, but not for rational or even practical reasons.

What follows is a summary of the specific steps I needed to take to get gnuplot working on my machine. I’m posting this for future searchers of this information, including probably myself, so I’ve included verbose error messages and asides to match relevant search terms.

[Continue reading Installing gnuplot on Mac OS X 10.6...]


NYTimes: Natalie Portman, Oscar Winner, Was Also a Precocious Scientist. Natalie joins the canonical list of Three Other Famous Female Actresses With Science Backgrounds. (I didn’t know Mayim Bialik was guesting on Big Bang Theory; I should start watching that show again…) Seriously though, it’s an appropriately adoring article, and gives Ms. Portman due credit. Says one of her mentors at Harvard, “She didn’t take a single thing for granted.”

Update: Natalie’s Intel Science Talent Search paper is on the (official?) Natalie Portman website.

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