Wednesday 11/27/02 §
Combine Battlestar Galactica with V and throw in Airwolf, Knight Rider, the A-Team, and other fine television shows of the 1980s, and what you get is Survive The Alliance -- fan fiction gone horribly wrong. (Belligerent Bunny Blog by way of Dean Esmay)
Sunday 11/24/02 §
The Trained Eye Gallery is a collection of Tim Davis's abstract art, which was created by, well, photographing boxcars at his local railroad yard. You won't believe what the trained eye can see in the mundane. (one day at a time)
Friday 11/22/02 §
Domino Artwork is like Photomosaics, except with tighter constraints: you only get the grayscale values available from a certain number of sets of double-nine dominoes, you only get a certain number of each "gray level," and there are also constraints on where each one can be placed since each domino is actually two gray levels. Naturally, software is involved. (Boing Boing)
Thursday 11/21/02 §
For the last thirty or so years, optometrists have been routinely undercorrecting the vision of nearsighted children, in the belief that this would encourage the eye to grow in a fashion that tends to correct the problem. A new study shows that the practice actually causes the eye to become more nearsighted, increasing the likelihood of serious eye problems, including blindness. Score one for optometrists. (Fark, of all places)
No, my fellow Americans, you can't get out of paying income tax. (MetaFilter)
Give it the URL of your home page or links page, and Mark Pilgrim's Recommended Reading will suggest other sites to check out, based on the sites you've linked to. You can then refine the list by indicating that you're already reading one of the suggested sites, or that you don't care for it. Sweet. (Interconnected)
The Amelie Action is an action for Photoshop that makes photos look like the images from the film. (a whole lotta nothing)
Mitchell Wagenberg is Mr. Hidden Camera. (dangerousmeta)
Had a most interesting all-day meeting yesterday (incorporating an informal interview) out of which a most interesting job may come. More details when it pans out.
As I left the meeting, I checked my e-mail on my Visor and discovered that the monthly blog meetup had been moved by the Meetup.com people. I've never really cared for that service much. Not that it's poorly run or unfriendly or anything, and not that I don't like the people at the gatherings; it just seems odd to let someone I don't even know have that much control over my social life. The trouble is, without someone to initiate a meeting, there probably wouldn't be any at all. That also bothers me, for a different reason. In any case, I couldn't find the new place.
Tuesday 11/19/02 §
Apparently a lot of athletes believe that appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated is the kiss of death (sometimes literally). The story about the cover of this special issue on "the SI jinx" is great -- they were originally planning to get Kurt Warner, who wears lucky number 13 for the Rams, to pose with a black cat, but Warner turned them down, so they just put the cat on.
Of course it's caused by a mix of coincidence and psychology. But that doesn't mean the magazine's six-decade timeline of the jinx isn't fun and just a little spooky. "Laurence Owen appeared on the cover in '61, billed as AMERICA'S MOST EXCITING GIRL SKATER. Two days after the cover date Owen and the rest of the U.S. skating team perished in a plane crash." How bizarre to see a magazine run something so... anti-self-promotional. (MetaFilter)
Monday 11/18/02 §
Jeremy Bowers thinks that Bayesian spam filtering (a la SpamSieve and other statistical filters) will ultimately fail -- and that once it does, we'll have no other tools left to fight spam.
I must respectfully disagree. The Bayesian approach is in its infancy, and there are still many improvements yet to be explored. For example, a simple and obvious enhancement would be to weight the beginning of a message more strongly than the end; this would help combat the strategy of sending you a short pitch and a link followed by several paragraphs of innocuous text. The spam filter could be made more "suspicious;" in SpamSieve's current implementation, words that the filter has never seen before are given a weight of 0.4, where 0.0 is indicitave of non-spam and 1.0 is indicitave of spam. Increasing this weight to 0.5 would mean that the filter is completely neutral with regard to new words, and moving it above 0.5 would make it assume that new words are more indicitive of spam. Our software could begin sharing the most notorious trigger words (pro and con) with others; although this is subject to abuse, the probabilities obtained for the new messages could be used merely as starting points for our own training.
But at the root of it is the simple fact that Bayesian filters are by nature individualized. Just because a spammer manages to get a message past his own Bayesian filter doesn't mean squat about whether he'll be able to get it past mine. My corpus contains the names of my friends and topics we frequently talk about. To guarantee that his mail gets through to all his victims, a spammer would have to gather lots of personal information about everyone he sends mail to (or intercept a good amount of their e-mail, which amounts to the same thing) and custom-craft a message for each recipient's filters. Obviously, this will never happen. In short, I think Bowers underestimates the power of statistical analysis to solve a problem like this one.
Hyperdictionary. Every word in the definition is linked to its own definition. (Leuschke)
Okay, everyone and their blog has linked to this already, but just on the off chance that you haven't seen it, this unholy combination of Engrish, gratuitous cat lynching, pedophilia, and condiment rage is unimaginably disturbing and unwholesomely compelling. Like a David Lynch film, it gives you the tantalizing glimpse into a world that could make sense if you just watch it enough times and take the right drugs.
Sunday 11/17/02 §
Wow... digital pianos have come a long, long way. You can now get a sampled piano on a CD-ROM for a few hundred bucks that sounds just gorgeous when you play it, via MIDI, on your computer. Better yet, you can have the choice of the warm tones of a Bosendorfer, the sparkle of a Steinway, or even the preternatural clarity of a Yamaha or Kawai. Don't believe me? Check out the Digital Piano Shootout -- there are dozens of MP3s of the same piece recorded on several different digital pianos. (BrainLog)
Monday 11/11/02 §
Here's a great interview with Rick Rubin, who has produced artists ranging from the Beastie Boys to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Johnny Cash. Speaking of which, Cash's latest Rubin-produced work, American IV: The Man Comes Around, includes a number of interesting covers, including songs written by Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, Sting, Simon and Garfunkel, and the Beatles.
Sunday 11/10/02 §
I saw a commercial on TV that really creeped me out. It was for Fisher Price toys, of all things. The actual commercial was fairly standard and non-objectionable, but at the end they had a short plug for their Web site, and the first "w" in "www" was represented as being a baby's butt. (The other two "w"s were in the same shape but the first one had an animated baby sitting in it.) It reminded me of this record, which I think is what triggered my gack reflex.
Wednesday 11/6/02 §
It's a day or two late, but maybe you can remember this for the next election: "Voting is not only useless, it actually undermines genuine democracy by legitimizing an inherently undemocratic process. During this election we are encouraging people to eat their ballots by having our chefs develop delicious recipes."
I realize it's been a bit quiet lately. There's a reason: I'm actually doing some freelance work for these guys. Although I like the idea of not working, I like the idea of having money even more. Posting will return to normal later this week.
Tuesday 11/5/02 §
The quest for Mel's Hole. No, it's not pornographic -- it's paranormal! (defective yeti)
Sunday 11/3/02 §
Good artists borrow; great artists steal. That quote (or at least the sentiment) is attributed to Picasso, and if it's true, then Patrick Clark is a great artist indeed!
Patrick's header graphic, with the italicized .net, is much like my own, and so's the page footer and the side head "Siteseeing (Shuffled Continuously)". But the similarities don't end there. The "interesting links" on the left side of the page are two I recently ran on my site and the text is nearly verbatim (he did excise "fookin'" and "insane" from one). He also lifted my Google search box but forgot to change the site it searches -- if you try to Google his site for a phrase, it actually searches mine. The star graphics are the same ones I use (even the filenames are the same), but that's okay, because I originally stole them from VersionTracker and just changed their colors.
Although he didn't even credit me, let alone ask for permission, I'm more amused than outraged. As many of my friends can tell you, I think my design for this site is crap anyway, so if someone thinks it's worth stealing, well, the joke's on them, isn't it? I just wonder how the URL to his site ended up in my referrer log. I'd think that if you're going to blatantly rip off someone's site, the last thing you'd want to do is draw attention to yourself!