Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lifehacker Desk

This Lifehacker desk looks pretty interesting.

How to Design A Social Sight for Sign-Ups

This is a brief article by Guy Kawasaki that highlights a presentation by Joshua Porter that

designer Joshua Porter explains how to solve the three big problems of social software:

1. Getting people to sign-up for a service.

2. Making their first-time use a positive and engaging experience.

3. Keeping them engaged on an ongoing basis.

NFS on Mac OS X

These look like helpful tips from James Gosling regarding NFS on Mac OS X, and changes in Snow Leopard (sigh).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Natural Logs

Also the topic of natural logs came up. I was looking for a way to explain clearly why natural logs are “natural.” Here's a pretty neat explanation of the natural logarithm and the base e.

N-Body Simulations and Big-O

I did a little class session on Big-O notation at work today and we looked at a galaxy N-body problem just briefly. After the fact, I found this really nice web site.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Okay, this is really neat.

My favorite part is Press Play on Tape.

Ogg Theora

Ogg Theora looks interesting.

The free, patent-unencumbered video codec now works in over 24% of the world's web browsers with no plugins required. The latest 1.1 release of the Theora encoder is coming out any day now. And when it does, the huge improvements in quality and functionality made over the past year with support from Wikimedia and others will percolate out into the major GNU/Linux distributions, arriving at the fingertips of those who build and maintain the world's biggest video sites.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I switched over to using Chrome almost exclusively on MS Windows a few months ago with great satisfaction. For the past week or two, I've also been using Chrome on Linux and the Mac version. They are all working pretty well now. I'm now using Chrome nearly all of the time on all platforms.

It's important to note that neither the Mac or Linux versions have actually been released, so they are not in their final form and don't have that level of usability.

However, the Mac version seems to be extremely stable. It supports Flash (Youtube videos) and I haven't experienced any problems with it at all.

The Linux version is a little less stable and doesn't have Flash support yet. Still, using it through most of every day, I only load Firefox for the occasional video.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Eclipse of Jupiter's Moons

Eclipses among Jupiter's four large Galilean satellites aren't that rare, but I've never seen images like this. Scroll down to about the middle of the page to see the animation of Io's shadow transiting Ganymede. Recall that Io is roughly the size of the Earth's Moon, and Ganymede is roughly the size of the planet Mercury.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

PubSubHubBub on Blogger

Blogger is publishing PubSubHubbub automatically.

S&T Report on the Perseids

Here's a nice Sky and Telescope report on the Perseid meteor shower.

UPDATE: The Perseids still hold surprises! According to IMO observers' data collected worldwide, the shower showed not just one peak, not just two, but three! The third, a day after the show was supposed to be mostly over, is unexplained. Meteor scientists are trying to reverse-engineer their prediction models to see where it came from.

Pictures of Comet McNaught

These are amazing pictures from Comet McNaught C/2006 P1 from back in 2006.

More About PubHubSubBub

Here's more about Pubhubsubbub in a blog post by Dave Winer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So What Is Caffeine?

Cade Metz at The Register interviews Matt Cutts about Google Caffeine.

What Makes a Quality Tweet

On Mashable, Twitter Talkback by Soren Gordhamer writes about What Makes a Quality Tweet. It sounds like good advice.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ISO 8601

So what is the actual ISO date format? It's ISO 8601.

Basically, the current time would be: 2009-08-15 23:53:00 -0400

Wikipedia Page
ISO Article

Monday, August 10, 2009

Perseid Meteors Tuesday and Wednesday Nights

The Perseid meteor shower will be happening Tuesday night 11 Aug and Wednesday night 12 Aug. The actual, theoretical shower peak is Wednesday 12 Aug at 14:00 EDT. Conditions aren't ideal since the moon will be a waning gibbous.

Information is here at Sky and Telescope.

Here's a general observing guide at Sky and Telescope

The main thing is to go outside, in the darkest location possible, lie on the flattest thing you can lie on (lawn chair, adirondack chair, ground) and watch the sky, the whole sky or as much as possible. The shower will be best after midnight or 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning, when we are on the side of the earth encountering the meteors head-on.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

How I Learned to Quite the iPhone and Love Google Voice

RT TechCrunch How I Learned To Quit The iPhone And Love Google Voice by @arrington

Saturday, August 08, 2009


Mike sent me this interesting article on Bokodes, an idea from the MIT Media Lab for replacing bar codes. It' s an interesting idea with interesting optics. Their paper is linked to at the site.

Now that I've read the paper, the optical idea is pretty simple. They put a tiny lens in front of their pattern (say, on a product). The lens acts like the objective of a microscope. It focuses light from the code as parallel rays. (I suppose that's actually un-focusing the light!). When you point a camera at this, even from a large distance, it acts like the eyepiece of a microscope and, when focused at infinity, focuses an image of the bokode onto the camera's sensor.

This very long microscope is very sensitive to angle. A focused image is insenstive to distance though the size of the image will vary with distance.