All 62 entries tagged Links

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December 11, 2006

My Charlie Brown Christmas

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Of_mna-Rs

A Charlie Brown Christmas, as performed by the cast of Scrubs.


December 08, 2006

MS Zune: Behind the scenes

Normally I’d just link to this kind of thing in my sidebar, but this is too good not to applaud: Behind the Scenes at the Microsoft Zune Design Laboratory.


October 10, 2006

More "Get a Mac" adverts

Follow-up to "Get a Mac" adverts from Autology: John Dale's blog

More ‘I’m a Mac’ ‘And I’m a PC’ ads from Apple. I’m not sure whether I like “I’ll just lie here and depreciate” or “Whassup: PC home movie” more.


July 14, 2006

Heat Vision and Jack

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lWgXDOAJ5s

What if I told you that there was a TV series starring Jack Black as a super–intelligent renegade astronaut and Owen Wilson as the voice of his talking motorcycle? If I added that the villain of the show was played by Ron Silver playing himself as a dual–identity bad guy and that the whole thing was written by Ben Stiller, well, I'm pretty sure you'd want to see it, right? I mean, talking motorcycle? Owen Wilson? Jack Black? If you aren't the least bit curious about what it would be like then modern culture has passed you by and you should move along.

If you haven't moved along, here's the 30 minute pilot. Enjoy: it's clearly the greatest pilot ever made, with easily the best opening credits of all time. Oh, and Mat, if you're reading this, cancel your vacation, come back and implement the [media] keyword right now so I can have this piece of wonderment here on my blog so that people can gaze in awe upon it.

And remember: it's okay to be frightened, aroused, or even entertained.


Adults and MySpace

Writing about web page http://halfanhour.blogspot.com/2006/06/adults-and-myspace.html

Excellent essay by Stephen Downes on the real versus perceived dangers of sites such as MySpace, and what might constitute a proportionate response.

After all, if a grown man came to a school playground and started swearing and drinking and making lewd remarks, we would react by removing the adult, not by preventing children from accessing the park.

Thoughtful and measured, as always.


1500 eighties videos

Writing about web page http://www.1500videos.com/

Oh dear. 1500 videos, and not a single one of them has aged well. (Disclaimer: this hypothesis based on only a small random sample. Counter–examples welcome.)

It's just a front–end on to YouTube, but it's a very convenient way to review the entire, um, corpus of the decade.


July 07, 2006

Training my brain

Follow-up to Brain training from Autology: John Dale's blog

Earlier this year I was interested to see that in Japan there are Nintendo DS games whose aim is to improve mental agility. Now that one of these games has been released in this country my interest has turned to annoyance with the discovery that the wretched game thinks that my brain age is 64.

Interestingly, the tool the game uses to measure your brain age is the Stroop effect (though it doesn't call it that): the game prints a series of words where the word is the name of a colour, but is printed in a colour which may or may not be the same as the named colour. You have to say the colour the word is printed in, not the colour it names. And I do mean 'say': the game does speech recognition, and for the limited case of naming colours, seems to do it perfectly.

Since the optimal age is 20, this suggests that I have some way to go before my brain has been exercised sufficiently, or that the cartridge has some way to go out of the window if it doesn't shape up and start giving me a more plausible rating within the next week.

On the up side, the games are immensely fun to do, so if I'm (mentally) working out and having a good time too then what's not to love?


May 16, 2006

Snap.com

Writing about web page http://snap.com

This is clever. It's a search engine which provides a screenshot of each result when you select it. I wonder how it's done? Presumably at the same time as they request the page to index it they also have a system for saving an image of the page.

It's clearly not fetching the image at the time you perform the search, because a search which returns my blog includes a screenshot showing it as it was on Sunday 9th April. So the images are generated when the indexing takes place. But how, I wonder? Is there a trick which allows for programmatically saving the visible portion of the browser window as an image file?


May 15, 2006

Deaf studies at Bristol

Writing about web page http://www.bris.ac.uk/deaf/

Bristol University has a Centre for Deaf Studies. Impressively, their web site is augmented by providing video on all the major pages containing both British Sign Language and International Sign Language together with sub–titles.

One small thing I don't get, though: most of their audience, deaf or otherwise, will be able to read. So what's the problem which adding sign language to their pages is intended to solve?


Thirty year family photo sequence

Writing about web page http://zonezero.com/magazine/essays/diegotime/time.html

This family have taken pictures of themselves at the same time every year since 1976. It's oddly compelling to scroll down the page seeing how the adults age and the children grow up. I wish I'd done this, but then maybe it's not too late to start.

May 12, 2006

Star Trek Cribs

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBXal1GAA4A&eurl

It's just like I always imagined it would be.


May 05, 2006

Peekvid.com

Writing about web page http://www.peekvid.com/

Isn’t this a bit, um, brazen? Time was you had to faff around with BitTorrent and whatnot to download your favourite TV shows. Now you can just go to this site and there they all are. Is that sound I hear in the distance the RIAA exploding into a nuclear fireball of rage? I give it about another seventeen seconds before the C&D letters arrive.


May 03, 2006

Cruise has nerves of steel

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvSqWpqgTtM

Tom Cruise gets a tanker driven over himTom Cruise has gotten himself some bad press recently what with the weird, hard–to–believe marriage/pregnancy with Katie Holmes and the wrong–side–of–eccentric pronouncements about depression and appropriate treatment. But my word, whatever his dodgy beliefs and peculiar personal life, I watched this clip and I take my hat off to the man; he has nerves of steel.

It's a behind–the–scenes clip from the making of his new Mission Impossible 3 movie, and it shows, as far as I can tell, an absolutely genuine sequence in which he lies down in the middle of the road and waits for a tanker to drive towards him, jack–knife and pass right over his body. If you'd seen it in the film itself, you'd assume that the tanker or the body or both were all done inside the computer, but I'm pretty sure that this isn't what's happening here; it's for real. Whatever he earns for the movie, it wouldn't be enough to get me to do that.


May 02, 2006

Lessons for start–ups

Writing about web page http://www.paulgraham.com/startuplessons.html

Paul Graham lists seven rules for start–up companies:–

  1. Release early
  2. Keep pumping out features
  3. Make users happy
  4. Fear the right things
  5. Commitment is a self–fulfilling prophecy
  6. There is always room
  7. Don't get your hopes up

The first three in particular apply as much to us as software developers for the university as to a start–up, and I liked this quote from the essay:–

Users love a site that's constantly improving. In fact, users expect a site to improve. Imagine if you visited a site that seemed very good, and then returned two months later and not one thing had changed. Wouldn't it start to seem lame? They'll like you even better when you improve in response to their comments, because customers are used to companies ignoring them. If you're the rare exception — a company that actually listens — you'll generate fanatical loyalty.

"Get a Mac" adverts

Writing about web page http://www.apple.com/getamac/ads/

There's a great new series of adverts from Apple just out. They're called "Viruses", "Restarting", "Better", "iLife", "Network" and "WSJ", and they're simplicity itself; each advert starts out with two guys standing next to each other. "Hi, I'm a Mac" says one (the younger, more casually dressed guy). "And I'm a PC" says the other, more conservative figure. Can you guess how the dialog goes from there? Clever, understated humour.

(I want to subscribe to the Awesome Computer Review Weekly Journal.)


April 25, 2006

Pinkerton on Narnia

Writing about web page http://www.jaypinkerton.com/blog/archives/001437.html

Jay Pinkerton watched the Chronicles of Narnia DVD and really didn't like it. I thought it had the odd problem myself, but Jay was much more scathing:

Narnia, meanwhile, has a talking rhino run through the middle of a battlefield skewering centaurs and bears, and Iím sitting there wondering if thatís a good thing or a bad thing. Hooray! The brave rhino killed the evil centaurs! Or… boo! The dastardly rhino killed the noble centaurs! Or… something.
In one scene a pair of badgers have a conversation with Santa Claus, and in another a human on a talking horse does battle with the White Witch of the North while griffins divebomb centaurs, and your headís just spinning from the random senselessness of it.

April 23, 2006

David Bowie is very disappointed in you

Writing about web page http://www.davidbowieisverydisappointedinyou.com/

Why, I couldn't say. But he's clearly not happy.

March 20, 2006

Web 2.0 or Star Wars character?

Writing about web page http://www.cerado.com/web20quiz.htm

Do you know whether brakiss, trumba and eskobo are Star Wars characters or Web 2.0 apps? How about nilo, qoop or oola? Take the quiz and discover the awful, yet hilarious, truth for yourself.

March 08, 2006

Dizzy fingers

Writing about web page http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NobWv89dcKc

When I was a child learning to play the piano, the two musos I aspired to emulate were Jon Lord, then of Deep Purple, and Rick Wakeman, then (intermittently at least) in Yes. This was the mid seventies, when rock and prog rock giants bestrode the globe like cape–wearing, private jet flying colossi (is that the plural of colossus?), and faster was very much better.

The phase passed, to the relief of everyone, especially my parents, who with hindsight must have been driven to the point of distraction by a ten year old trying to recreate minimoog solos on an elderly upright piano (though to their credit they never complained). But I retain a nostalgic soft spot for keyboard wizards so I was pleased to discover this clip of Rick Wakeman on YouTube. The music itself is nothing to write home about but his technique is still, to me at least, just dazzling. I've never seen anyone else play that fast with such great accuracy. I still play a little myself but I've decided that less – quite a lot less, in fact – for me will have to be more.


Caring for your introvert

Writing about web page http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200303/rauch

Jason Kottke who seems to find just about everything that's worth reading on the internet, points out this fascinating article called "Caring for your introvert". (Actually, Jason is even more on the ball than that; what he's pointing out here is not the original article, which he linked to three years ago but a new interview with the author of the piece.

From the opening paragraph of the original article:-

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

It's a really interesting piece exploring the characteristics of introversion and noting, for example, that it's not the same thing as being shy, nor anxious or frightened in social settings. It's also fair comment, I think, when the author observes that extroverts don't really understand introversion and that the adjectives used to describe extroversion are typically positive ("vibrant", "warm", "empathetic") whereas those used to describe introverts are less generous; "guarded", "reserved", "taciturn". I'm not a huge fan in general of the concept of personality types (I didn't find doing a Myers-Briggs test especially valuable, for example), because I think they tend to be a bit axial. But this is a keen and well-written insight, I think.


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