Links of the Week: November 21st

I’ve been meaning to post an updated LotW for a while but between Firefox crashing like a stunt car driver and real life obligations, it’s been difficult to make find some time so I could sit down and hammer it out. I confess that there are other reasons I wished to delay the inevitable (I didn’t feel like it–hey, that’s a legitimate excuse).

So, here you go. Clicky-clicky on the link. Apologies if some of these are a little old–I needed to flush out the 450+ tabs I’ve got open in Firefox.


Professionals in academia pose something of a problem. To find out more, read the article!


Dolphins are deep thinkers. Capable of planning ahead and teaching their offspring tasks that have no immediate survival benefit, these creatures exist as an aquatic near-analog to humankind.


What happens when you cross Disney with flu shots? No lines. Okay, so the lines still exist–sort of. Now, if only certain large retail chains could learn the same lesson…

Is tech causing attention loss? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m of the opinion that the human brain is incredibly adept at evolving. What we consider an ailment today (ADHD) might very well be an evolutionary advantage tomorrow. Of course, only time will tell, but it still humors me to imagine that Twitter, Facebook, et al might be contributing to the increasing “stupidification” of our youth.


Josh sent this one to me. It’s a collection of great aviation quotes from various sources throughout history starting with World War I. Contributed quotes are pulled from both factions in numerous conflicts. Check it out.


Enjoy freedom of the web while you can. While the FTC may begin regulating the disclosure of compensation toward blog authors, one has to speculate whether this extension of the FTC’s (or the FCC’s) authority will end. There are some who feel that since the Internet is in the realm of communication, it should therefore be held against the FCC’s decency standards and such. Good luck. I hope that never happens. As with the author of the previously linked article, I’m concerned what the language of this stipulation may be interpreted to mean. The implications are worrisome.


I installed Mandriva in a VM about a week ago for my own personal amusement. It hasn’t changed much. I still hate it. It is one of the most awful and disgraceful half-broken reimplementations of Red Hat ever conceived. I’m also reminded of why Yum appeared when I glance through the convoluted package manager that is urpmi. Still, nothing beats ports or portage. (I have a rant against aptitude and family, but I’ll save that for another time.)


This doesn’t really fit in the literature category, but I can’t think of a better place to put this interview with Umberto Eco. Frankly, I’ve never read any of his works nor am I familiar with him (thank you Wikipedia). What he states in Spiegel’s interview is enlightening and entertaining–maybe even a little strange.


Ever wondered what a three dimensional mandelbrot might look like? Wonder no more; introducing the Mandelbulb.

Operating Systems

Earlier this month, news spread that OS X Snow Leopard will break most Hackintoshes. This amuses me.


I’m not of the persuasion to believe ghosts exist. Rather, I believe that apophenia is the most rational explanation for unusual phenomenon attributed to paranormal events. In this sense, apophenia refers to pattern recognition made by humans that is attributed to the Electronic Voice Phenomena or EVP. Nevertheless, the Scole Experiment is of vague interest. It would be interesting to repeat the experiments in a highly controlled environment, because I am skeptical that the claims made by Scole’s “researchers” are all that valid. Consider it a curio.

What sent me along this topic was my research of Carl Sagan. This isn’t exactly paranormal, but among Sagan’s suggestions of topics in need of more research was that of random number generators being influenced slightly by thoughts. Naturally, Sagan didn’t believe such a thing were possible. He did feel that science needed to put it and other claims to rest.

While this article isn’t of the paranormal, it is still a mystery–the mystery of Oak Island, to be exact. What’s buried there? Who knows!


There’s an amazing tribute to Carl Sagan on Youtube called A Glorious Dawn (featuring Stephen Hawking). What an incredible use of a vocoder!


Here’s a list of 11 open source companies to watch. Unfortunately, the list is comprised of one entry per page. If you’re on a short fuse today, don’t bother. It’ll annoy you.

There is a war in progress. It is a war for the web. I’d like to subtitle this as “The Dangers of Consumerism.” Let’s just hope that the war isn’t won by media conglomerates.

Windows 7 is the most secure Windows-based OS ever. Err, maybe not. “A” for effort, I suppose. While I am a fan of Windows 7, there’s no way in hell I’d trust the OS inside an unfiltered ecosystem.

Mark Cuban has a plan to kill Google. I wonder if he’s also willing to go to jail for anti-trust violations and/or bribery? His proposal certainly smacks a great deal of the latter. Hey, Mr. Cuban, why don’t you–I dunno–try innovating?

Is there anything to like about the NoSQL crowd? Maybe!

Robert Scoble has a very worthwhile post on what he describes as the chat room/forum problem. In it, he explains why most forum-like communities “devolve” over time whereas blogs almost paradoxically increase in value. There isn’t a paradox, mind you. I won’t spoil it.

Web, The

Ever wondered what the click-through conversion rates really are? Here’s some insight.

The fate of Mr. X. Or, rather, why American Airlines is evil and stupid. If you don’t read any of the other links in this post, please read this one.

Web Technologies

How can you achieve painless registration? Here are some suggestions.

Weird and Unusual

No language is complete without a canonical “Hello, world!” application. Neither in this respect is a cornfield.


Top 10 Stupid-in-Tech: Things that Shouldn’t Be but Are


Seriously, how the hell can anyone read that?


Text messages.
Okay, text messages aren’t all that stupid. Their excessive use, however, is. What’s worse is that young people–sitting next to each other on a train–are increasingly more likely to text each other than to simply turn their heads and talk.


Text messages part two
The rates are absurd. Providers charge in upwards of $0.20 per text message for standard plans. Considering each text message can only contain a maximum of 140-160 characters, it’s about 0.125 cents per character. That doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but if e-mails were charged at this rate with about 1.5KiB per message (1,500 characters), you’re looking at about $1.88 per e-mail or $812,500 for a single CDROM ISO. Transmitting a DVD ISO would cost a little over $5 million.

But hey, who’s counting?


Twitter Social Networking Sites
Useful, but I’m afraid people obsess just a little too much over them. On the other hand, it’s a great way for companies to advertise, bring in revenue, and make grossly obscene profits, which is awesome. Okay, so it’s not really the fault of the social networking sites. It just annoys me every time I hear from someone “Hey, do you have a ${currently_popular_site_of_the_moment} account?” Bonus points if that same person asks me about a new service once a month.


Wireless Speakers
I’m not going to say anything else. I don’t need to.


Windows Powershell
Seriously, Microsoft, there are plenty of good shells available. The verbose horror that PS is should never have been born into the world.

That’s okay, though–I usually just install Cygwin.

(Okay, I confess that being able to query things like WMI from PowerShell is really useful. I hate the syntax, though.)


I hate Flash. The only good use of Flash is for video sites like Youtube (with one exception, see #1). Purely Flash driven sites are and have always been a disgrace to web designers world wide. Please, learn how to use HTML and (maybe) CSS. There are even applications that will do it for you. It’s not hard.

Thankfully, there’s only one thing worse than Flash-driven sites. Unfortunately, that one thing happens to be broken Flash-driven sites.


Electronic Arts
Your site sucks. Thanks to #4, I can’t even navigate it unless I have Flash installed. I was browsing it about a month ago so I could look up information on a game you published. I finally gave up and went to Wikipedia.


I’m only posting this to insight and inflame my beloved Mac users. I’m not worried, either. Since you guys still can’t right-click out of the box, I’d imagine you probably can’t carry a pitchfork in one hand and a torch in the other when you come to lynch me.

He who cannot right click cannot dual wield; see but cannot stab, stab but cannot see. ‘Tis a disastrous predicament, is it not?


How-to Videos–for Programmers
I’ve never understood this one. Don’t believe me? Do a search on Youtube. You’ll find how to videos for just about every language out there. Oh, and good luck reading the text. It’s like posting a “how to drive a car” video taken of only the vehicle’s exterior. Given the screen capture and compression quality imposed by Youtube, you can imagine then that this video might be taken of a car while it maneuvers in a region occluded by trees and from an altitude of 3 miles. You can’t see the car. You can’t really even see the road. Heck, it might even look a little like what you ate this morning as it greeted you on the way back up because the bus driver for your Big City Transportation Company happens to believe that his multi-ton monstrosity was just entered into the Indianapolis 500 the moment you stepped on board. It doesn’t work.

How to videos have their place in life (Blender comes to mind), but for the love of all that is holy please, please, please don’t post “how to program in $lang” videos on Youtube. You can achieve the same thing with about 10-20 kilobytes of text on a hosting provider elsewhere. Best of all, you can copy text tutorials and their example code!