Europe is manicured. The whole continent, except for some semi-accessible places in the Alps, northern Scotland, and Scandinavia, has been groomed and tended by the hand of man. It’s a vast millennial project, this custodial effort, requiring the cooperation, over centuries, of scores of nations and peoples, all speaking different languages and with different cultures. The greatest physical human enterprise of all. -- David Byrne, Bicycle Diaries
Time dependent rate phenomenon - rate of evolutionary change over a few generations is higher than change over millions of years, implying that evolution happens to often circle back to where it started
When there is no immediate deadline, we're liable to put off going to the zoo this weekend because we assume that we will be less busy next weekend — or the weekend after that, or next summer [...] we’re trying to do a cost-benefit analysis of the time lost versus the pleasure or money to be gained, but we're not accurate in our estimates of "resource slack” - Carpe Diem? Maybe Tomorrow
"Fixing the facts, one hotspot at the time" - Newstweek is a device from 2011 for manipulating news read by other people on wireless hotspots, embedded in a pass-through power socket for perfect camouflage
Open-source firmware finds:
Planck - a DIY compact 40% ortholinear keyboard
"Talent is more erotic when it's wasted" - from Cosmopolis, a beautiful mess of a movie by David Cronenberg
In the 1930s, he designed furniture that users "must learn to love"; and, after the war, venetian blinds on New York's Seagram Building that would stop only in aesthetically pleasing positions [...] He once built a chapel in the US so bare, so pure, that it had to have a sign attached - "Chapel" - to tell the visitor where they were. -- Mies and the Nazis
While travelling, he sent more than fifteen hundred picture-postcards to acquaintances, with no message but a rubber stamp of the time that he had woken up that day. The fact that he kept irregular hours, rising early on some days and in midafternoon on others, is as close to a self-revelation as he ever provided. He also sent more than nine hundred telegrams to people he knew, telling them nothing more than "I am still alive." -- On Kawara
Into the woods: how one man survived alone in the wilderness for 27 years: Solitude increased my perception. But here’s the tricky thing: when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. There was no audience, no one to perform for. There was no need to define myself. I became irrelevant.
Chasing Bubbles - the true story of the worst sailor to ever sail around the world
Documentaries about marathons of a different kind:
Dimensional: statically-checked units of measure in Haskell
What makes the perfect office?: When workers were empowered to design their own space, they had fun and worked hard and accurately, producing 30 per cent more work than in the minimalist office and 15 per cent more than in the decorated office. When workers were deliberately disempowered, their work suffered
If you stop a bicyclist on the street that’s commuting home and you ask them if they want to see more bikes on the street they would all say yes. They would all say of course yeah that would be great. Why wouldn’t want that? That’s gonna be awesome when that happens. [...] And then if you ask someone who’s stuck in traffic in a car if they want to see more cars in the city they would almost all say no – why would they want that? -- Paul Freedman aka. Fossil Fool
Torrefacto: The Curious Case of Spanish Coffee
Why Concatenative Programming Matters: with concatenative programming, a parallel compiler is a plain old map-reduce!
I'm figuring this out as I go. One's ability to articulate an idea always lags behind the understanding of the idea, and the understanding of an idea often lags behind the embodiment in which it is first given life. It can take a surprising amount of time to come to understand what a prototype is trying to "say", and longer still to say it oneself. -- Bret Victor
The Cokmett Declaration Generator (click the image)
Sony SRF-39FP is a pocket AM/FM radio designed for use in prisons
Interfaces that temporarily hide the UI elements to emphasize content often increase the interaction cost, cognitive load, and the number of attention switches. -- Why Zen Mode Isn’t the Answer to Everything
Fred Camper's film SN uses coin-flipping to determine which three of 16 possible reels to show and in which order they should go
What it does do is play ten beautiful songs, in order, in any web browser, even in the background on a weird old Linux smartphone over 3G while you’re making dinner [...] To me, this is what makes an album in 2016: not a vinyl record, not an iTunes release, simply a collection of songs that plays reliably the moment your heart desires, just the way it’s always been - Just Ouellette's notes on Album/Website for Farewell, Starlite! by Francis and the Lights
Why lending digital stuff will never work: it's just a "nonsensical scarcity emulator" -- Buy Rotting Bits, Or Else
Why all chinese restaurants seem to use the same crappy font (at least in terms of latin glyphs) for their menus
Most of these regular commuters had to find a different route to work during the strike. But what was surprising was that one in 20 of them stuck to their new routes after the strike was over. Even commuters, whom we would imagine had honed their daily journey to perfection, can find a better route when a random shock forces them to do so. -- Big decision ahead? Just roll the dice
Peter Principle: selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate's performance in their current role, rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and "managers rise to the level of their incompetence". A related study found that best way to promote people is to just chose randomly.
Why the fuck are humans mowing lawns. That is simply beyond stupid. We are intentionally spending our money/time fighting nature, in a battle we are smart enough to recognize we can't win. -- How I Learned To Stop Worrying, and Build a Custom Camper Van
ant version of hella bizzare ant colony
Ivan Illich calculated that, in America in the 1970s, if you add the time spent to work to earn the money to buy a car, the time spent in the car (including traffic jam), the time spent in the health care industry because of a car crash, the time spent in the oil industry to fuel cars [...] real speed of a car would be about 3.7 miles per hour.
"Free will" predictor
Rework - Reference - Release -- the takeaway lesson from Calculus of Grit
A typical boss no longer wants to be a boss.... A boss comes in jeans and embraces you with all the vulgarities, 'Did you have a good fuck last night?' Whatever, but, fuck you! Then he remains a boss. He nonetheless gives orders, but the social game is you have to pretend that we are friends and so on. In these relations, the first step to liberation is to force him to really behave like a boss. To tell him, 'No, fuck you, no comradeship!' Treat me as a boss and give me explicit orders. -- Slavoj Zizek
...emergence is defined by what is not there — by constraints (...) What matters is not even relationships between parts, but relationships between constraints. Think of a rug woven with many threads into intricate patterns. The rug is “defined” by the self-entanglement and reciprocal constraints that the threads impose on each other. -- Meta-Skills, Macro-Laws, and the Power of Constraints
MP01 by Punkt - beautifully designed dumbphone as a choice. With 295 Eur price tag, I guess one could also call it the dumbphone for the 1%. Jasper Morrison, author of Supernormal did the design and it comes with custom-made ringtones by a norwegian sound designer.
Gallivan formula describes how many times you can fold a piece of paper in half. Discovered by Britney Gallivan, then a 17-year old high school junior.
How critical mass got its name: In China, both motorists and bicyclists had an "understood" method of negotiating intersections without signals. Traffic would queue up at these intersections until the backlog reached a "critical mass", at which point that mass would move through the intersection.
No more hippies and explorers: a lament for the changed world of cycling: The focus has moved to sportives, to carbon fibre frames, to Rapha Sky-branded kits, to gels, training techniques, times, pace and cadence. The aspiration is no longer to get lost, to enjoy and to explore: the aspiration is to do stages of the Tour, watch races, spend more money, own the best stuff, be the quickest. And it bores the shit out of me. Did MAMIL ruin cycling?
Every great idea is on the verge of being stupid. --Michel Gondry, Filmmaker
Paperback - analog Post-Its on the back of your iPhone
Casio W-59 vs F-91 (english translation). Author compares two (to the untrained eye nearly identical) <$10 Casio watches, with 100+ side-by-side photos, insisting that one of the two has more magical, ineffable qualities. Automatic translation just adds to the general poetry.
Fold in SML - a technique to get vararg functions and typed printf in SML, or for when you just need something to blow your mind
Boomerang - a programming language for bidirectional text transformations based on lenses. Not sure of the utility of such language on its own, but the manual is a great introduction to concept of lenses.
Functional pearl: Type-safe pattern combinators (paywalled :() - implementing type-safe pattern matching without use of macros
Default design advocated against the smooth surfaces of graphic professionalism, employing low-res imagery, system fonts, crude layouts, and the standard web link hex-colour #0000FF - via The Propaganda of Pantone: Colour and Subcultural Sublimation. I also found a book that documents what became the "New Ugly" movement and some interviews that put it into context.
Warehouse Drone Racing - this will eventually replace F1 racing
Tobacco companies, ever eager to do the right thing, attempted to create safer cigarettes. One such attempt was the Kent, which added a filter that cut out 80% of tar, but preserved the taste smokers wanted! The filters were made of asbestos - via Kent, well-intentioned, but unintentionally carcinogenic language
Madlibs UI Pattern - now I know the name for UIs that resemble natural language sentences
Board game discoveries:
All About Eve - intro and reflection on Eve, a semistructured database?/wiki?/platform? (other comparisons include Squeak, Oberon and Lotus Notes).
Are Haskell and OCaml destined to be The Velvet Underground of programming languages, where hardly anyone has heard them, but everyone who does forms a band? --Ben Lippmeier
New language discoveries:
Makey Makey - an USB thingie that lets you use anything as input (even bananas).
Using Katas to improve - not completely sold on benefits of an isolated repetitive learning construct such as kata, but the idea that you develop "functional blindness" if you don't fully interact with your environment (even though you're fully aware of it) resonated with me.
Esolangs at Notacon 10 (data/programs itself have no meaning and it's all about the interpretation, so let's make art)
Developer Town is an agency where ..each team member has their own house on wheels, which we rearrange in the warehouse based on the projects we're working on.. -- the tiny houses do feel a bit claustrophobic, but then again.. ceiling height can affect how a person thinks, feels and acts (PDF)
A Weapon for Readers -- on importance of marginalia & why we should be reading with a pen in our hand. Is this tumblelog a pen in my hand?
How I Made Money Spamming Twitter With Contextual Book Suggestions - building an tf-idf driven twitter bot for fun and profit
Jake Lodwick's Elepath Manifesto: the word for computer programs that thrive through parasitic relationships with their environment is virus. A website engineered to deplete human willpower and create addicts is nothing to be proud of — even if a billion people use it. To make great software, we must honor our users, creating mutual profit.