2014 Jan 28, 6:17 2012 Jul 6, 6:20
Bookmarklet that lets you drop cartoon style black spherical bombs that send the text on any page flying.
2010 Mar 3, 4:08 2009 Sep 18, 5:52
"We recently came across a series of colorfully decorated safety posts at the Standard Hotel in New York." The Knit Graffiti Crew strikes again.
2009 Apr 7, 11:58
This past week I finished Anathem and despite the intimidating physical size of the book (difficult to take and read on the bus) I became very engrossed and was able to finish it in several orders of
magnitude less time than what I spent on the Baroque
. Whereas reading the Baroque Cycle you can imagine Neal Stephenson sifting through giant economic tomes (or at least that's where my mind went whenever the characters began to explain
macro-economics to one another), in Anathem you can see Neal Stephenson staying up late pouring over philosophy of mathematics
. When not
exploring philosophy, Anathem has an appropriate amount of humor, love interests, nuclear bombs, etc. as you might hope from reading Snow Crash or Diamond Age. I thoroughly enjoyed Anathem.
On the topic of made up words: I get made up words for made up things, but there's already a name for cell-phone in English: its "cell-phone". The narrator notes that the book has been translated
into English so I guess I'll blame the fictional translator. Anyway, I wasn't bothered by the made up words nearly as much as some folk. Its a good thing I'm long
out of college because I can easily imagine confusing the names of actual concepts and people with those from the book, like Hemn space for Hamming distance. Towards the beginning, the description
of slines and the post-post-apocalyptic setting reminded me briefly of Idiocracy.
Recently, I've been reading everything of Charles Stross that I can, including about a month ago, The Jennifer Morgue from the surprisingly awesome amalgamation genre of spy thriller and Lovecraft
horror. Its the second in a series set in a universe in which magic exists as a form of mathematics and follows Bob Howard programmer/hacker, cube dweller, and begrudging spy who works for a
government agency tasked to suppress this knowledge and protect the world from its use. For a taste, try a short story from the series that's freely available on Tor's website, Down on the Farm.
Coincidentally, both Anathem and the Bob Howard series take an interest in the world of Platonic ideals. In the case of Anathem (without spoiling anything) the universe of Platonic ideals, under a
different name of course, is debated by the characters to be either just a concept or an actual separate universe and later becomes the underpinning of major events in the book. In the Bob Howard
series, magic is applied mathematics that through particular proofs or computations awakens/disturbs/provokes unnamed horrors in the universe of Platonic ideals to produce some desired effect in
2009 Mar 26, 2:24 2009 Jan 8, 5:45
"It is a newly opened high-security data center run by one of Sweden's largest ISPs, located in an old nuclear bunker deep below the bedrock of Stockholm city... The bunker was designed to be able to
withstand a near hit by a hydrogen bomb." Wait, you mean it can't take a direct hit? Lame.
2008 Dec 29, 2:20
"But the most accurate account of the bomb's inner workings-an unnervingly detailed reconstruction, based on old photographs and documents-has been written by a sixty-one-year-old truck driver from
Waukesha, Wisconsin, named John Coster-Mullen, who was once a commercial photographer, and has never received a college degree."
2008 Dec 29, 12:22
"This wasn't my fault. Anyone could have dropped his stupid iPod in the toilet. It's really the government here. I mean, at this point the building contained six customs officials, an army of
policemen, people from various security agencies, a bomb squad, and a couple of detectives."
2008 Oct 13, 2:40
Watch out for too good to be true washing services (or free network traffic anonymization): "The laundry would then send out "color coded" special discount tickets, to the effect of "get two loads
for the price of one," etc. The color coding was matched to specific streets and thus when someone brought in their laundry, it was easy to determine the general location from which a city map was
coded. While the laundry was indeed being washed, pressed and dry cleaned, it had one additional cycle -- every garment, sheet, glove, pair of pants, was first sent through an analyzer, located in
the basement, that checked for bomb-making residue." From the comment section of Schneier on Security on this topic: "Yet another example of how inexpensive, reliable home washers and dryers help
terrorists. When will we learn?"
2008 Sep 30, 10:46
A rogue group of knitters 'tag' public objects and places with knit pieces. See thier gallery. "tag crew of knitters, bombing the inner city with vibrant, stitched works of art, wrapped around
everything from beer bottles on easy nights to public monuments and utility poles on more ambitious outings."
2008 Aug 14, 9:38
I recently finished Braid, the Xbox Live game, and a comparison with Portal is helpful. From a screen shot Braid looks
like a normal 2D platformer, but that's like looking at a screen shot of Portal and saying its a first person shooter. While the scaffolding of the game-play may sort of fall into that category,
the games are actually about exploring the character's ability and solving puzzles. In Portal the ability is bending space and in Braid its bending time. However, whereas in Portal there is one
space bending mechanism, the portal gun, Braid's protagonist explores several different time bending techniques including, most prominently, reversing time, but also time dilation, multiple
time-lines, and other odd things.
Similar to the difference in game-play, while Portal has a strict simplicity to its visual style, Braid is much more ornate, like you're playing in an oil painting. Without seeing video of the game, or playing the demo (which is available for free on Xbox Live) its difficult to convey, but it is quite lovely and the
animation adds quite a bit. Both games too are rather short leaving you just a bit hungry for more and have an interesting plot and an ending that I'd hate to spoil although Braid replaces Portal's
humor with melancholy. If you enjoyed Portal and Twelve Monkeys then I'd recommend Braid.
2008 Jul 30, 1:59
Training website to determine what's a bomb. E.g. Catwoman movie poster: "While the movie was bad, and therefore in a way "a bomb", the poster does not pose a threat to anything, not even air
2008 Apr 9, 2:36
History of Enigma in WW2: "One particular German code clerk continually used his girlfriend's name, Cillie, for his messages, and so these easy-to-guess indicators became known as "Cillies.""