Thursday, March 31, 2005

Slacker Redemption

I enjoyed Jeff Erickson's post chronicling his path to becoming the self-proclaimed PhD with the lowest undergrad GPA of any professor he has met.

Mysteriously dimmed menu items

AskTog's Bughouse is a list of beefs with recurring bad design in software. Bug #4 is Mysteriously dimmed menu items:

"Designers offer no way for users to discover why a given menu or option has been dimmed (grayed out), nor how to turn it back on."

The proposed fix:

"Make grayed-out objects clickable, revealing what has caused the object to be dimmed and what the user can do about it."

I think Paint Shop Pro deserves honorable mention for an even better solution. Not only does PSP tell the user what needs to be done to make a command possible, with the user's consent, it performs the necessary fix ups and then executes the intended the would-be unavailable command.

They way they go "Moo!"

Blast from the past... I stumbled onto Twin Tone's site and found videos of the Suburbs, including "I like cows."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Moving a Sofa

I'm not sure what to think of the sorts of brain teasers used in some tech interviews. The Moving Sofa Problem is more my style. I can't imagine anyone solving it in a few minutes in an interview, but there's a nice challenge just in seeing how closely one can guesstimate the solution.

" was the mathematician Leo Moser who, in 1966, originally posed the now famous Moving Sofa Problem: What is the largest sofa that can be moved around a right-angled corner in a hallway of unit width?..."

Surfing around on the subject, I stumbled onto a nice page devoted to The Moving Sofa Problem at

Russian Photography 1917-1945

Interesting collection of Russian photos via BoingBoing.

Flickr Related Tag Browser

Flash applet. Input initial tag and browse related tags on Flickr. link


One for Feynman

Because I'm Richard Feynman!

"...Richard Feynman, the late Caltech physicist, is famous for working on the atomic bomb, winning a Nobel Prize in Physics, cracking safes, playing drums and driving a 1975 Dodge Maxivan adorned with squiggly lines on the side panels. Most people who saw it gazed in puzzlement, but once in a while someone would ask the driver why he had Feynman diagrams all over his van, only to be told, 'Because I'm Richard Feynman!'..."

from The Feynman-Tufte Principle (A visual display of data should be simple enough to fit on the side of a van) in SciAm via

Friday, March 25, 2005

A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates

Humorous Amazon reviews of this Rand Corporation publication full of random digits (via Mathematics Weblog and Isabel's math blog).

On a related note, my favorite collection of humorous Amazon reviews are the reviews of "Henry Raddick" (especially those relating to his pug Grendel). Many are absolutely hilarious.


via Design Observer:

"You have to see this in action to believe it: Keita Kitamura and Yugo Nakamura's Amaztype turns Amazon's product inventory into typography. "

I second that motion, check it out link.


Originally uploaded by fubuki.
I love this shot by Fubuki of Flickr.

Genomic Cartography

Always interested in new approaches to visualization...

Ben Fry of MIT

"There is a space of highly complex systems for which we lack deep understanding because few techniques exist for visualization of data whose structure and content are undergoing continous change. My research focuses on developing approaches to such data, in particular, the human genome."


Transparent Screens

Transparent Screen - alexy
Originally uploaded by w00kie.
Cool desktop optical illusions as seen on Boing Boing, Flickr, etc.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Shutter Speed & Aperture

Links: (1) a nice little page that lets you simulate shutter speeds and aperture settings, (2) the ultimate low-tech camera: a Pringle's can, (3) nice photographic work by Erik Refner and, finally, a friend got a good laugh out of me with this link to Hollow Man David Armand's mimed interpretation of Natalie Imbuglia's Torn.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Google expanding GMail access

via PCWorld

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Donald Knuth on NPR

The Dunno Factor

From Paul Graham's latest essay, How to Start a Startup:

When nerds are unbearable it's usually because they're trying too hard to seem smart. But the smarter they are, the less pressure they feel to act smart. So as a rule you can recognize genuinely smart people by their ability to say things like "I don't know," "Maybe you're right," and "I don't understand x well enough."

Colorization Using Optimization

This 2004 paper on colorization has been referenced a lot lately on Some nice video examples are included on the page.

Friday, March 11, 2005

You said gorillas not guerillas!

Via CNN. There was 1962 nuclear test in Nevada code named Project Sedan. In an unofficial report, a typo transforms Sedan to Sudan, and, of course, all Hades breaks loose.

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Drawn! Great collection of links to illustrations and drawings. via


Spamusement. Cartoons based on spam subject lines.

Monday, March 07, 2005


This link to the New York Public Library Digital Gallery has been making the rounds. Interesting site.

Earl F. Glynn's Image Processing Algorithms amounts to quite an extensive list of image processing links.

Soy un perdedor

File under folderal. A while back, Ernie's 3D Pancakes posted Games You Can't Lose, a trio of games you allegedly can't lose. (I say "allegedly" because I'm not exactly sure what Zefrank's Buddhist is all about, and the patience required for enlightenment in this particular sphere is something I appear to lack.) Remaining are Hold the Button and my favorite of the three: 1D Tetris, a game in which I feel quite confident.

Gödel & Einstein, Part Deux

Earlier, I posted a link to this Chronicle of Higher Education article on Gödel & Einstein. In case, you missed the recent New Yorker article on Gödel & Einstein, I'm noting it for the saking of putting both links on the same page.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

This is not an Ovaltine commercial

Xerox Parc's site is one of many sites I check on from time to time. A long time ago I stumbled onto their page devoted to DataGlyphs, but I haven't mentioned the subject here.

They're next generation bar codes: "a robust and unobtrusive method of embedding computer-readable data on surfaces such as paper, labels, plastic, glass, or metal...flexible in shape and size. Their structure and robust error correction also make them suitable for curved surfaces and other situations where barcodes fail."

You can even create your own DataGlyphs with their GlyphServer Demo.

Three Cheers for Numa Numa

This Crooked Timber post rightly trashes the NYT for diggin' on Gary Brolsma for Numa Numa.

Bad New York Times! Shame on you! Go lay down!

Gary rocks!

Why do firemen rescue acrobats from trees?

Eons ago there was an old bit on SNL in which a Ghandi-esque guru pondered the great questions of the universe. "Why do tornadoes always touch down in trailer parks?" he asked. And"Why do firemen rescue cats from trees? Cats are natural born climbers. How many cat skeletons have you seen in trees?" To the list, I'd like to add "Why does the GSView PostScript viewer launch much, much, much faster than the PDF viewer brought to us by the creators of PostScript?"