Monthly Archives: April 2011

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Silly Molecules

An excellent little website devoted to listing all of the silly molecule names.

Diabolic Acid, Penguinone (because it’s chemical structure looks like a penguin. really) and of course, Furfuryl Furfurate.

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Royal Navy Field Gun Competition 1997

Brilliant, bizarre, and strangely compelling. I really want to go watch this live.

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Kid-Zoom

Politics

The Would Be Rabbit Assassin

On April 20th 1979, President Jimmy Carter was attacked by a giant, swimming rabbit. Yes, this actually happened, and we have the pictures to prove it.

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NYC kills the 1 day MTA Fun Pass

If you live in New York City, people visit you. It’s not you, it’s the city, but hey, I’ll take it. Inevitably the question of the subway arises: How do I get from where you live to where I want to go? In the past, the answer was simple. Just buy the $4 one day funpass, and well, don’t worry about it. Just hop on the subway, and go! NYC is a daunting enough place for tourists, the funpass, introduced in 1999, helped make NYC a little bit friendlier and easier to navigate. I’ve personally walked a few random tourists through buying one.

 

Now it’s gone.

 

It’s a real shame, and I think it’s a bad move on the MTA’s part. I understand why they did it: the $4 fun pass would have been $20 cheaper for your average commuter than the increasingly dear monthly pass. ( Which at $104 a month makes a vespa seem very attractive)

Unlimited transportation within the City is, I believe, a tremendously freeing thing. The monthly pass means that I can stop off anywhere, at any time, en route to work or coming home without racking up another $2.50 in fees. It means I can peruse shops at leisure, pickup something from the farmers market, or go out to eat without worrying how much it’s going to cost me just to get there and get home. The same is true for tourists: unlimited subway passes turn the city into their playground. How many tourists now are going to hop off the subway in soho on their way to Times Square when it will cost them an extra $2.50?

I’d wager that the loss of the funpass, while probably earning the MTA a little bit of money in the short run, will be a huge net loss for the City as a whole. Especially for small businesses in areas that don’t traditionally get alot of tourist traffic, the tax on wanderlust will hurt. Less tangible, though perhaps even more damaging, is the effect on the world’s image of NYC. The magic of travel is the road less travelled, the serendipitous cafe, the joy of discovery. The fun pass gave tourists the excuse to indulge in an adventure. It’s loss means that the City is a less magical place. It’s glitter will fade, and that for more and more visitors, Bubba Gump’s in Times Square, The Empire State Building, and Ground Zero will be their New York.

Whatever benefit the MTA gets from killing the funpass, it’s not worth it.

Technology

Magic Regex Generator

txt2re.com: input the text you’d like to run a regex against, and then select the results you’d like returned, and presto! it provides the code in the language of your choice.

This system acts as a regular expression generator. Instead of trying to build the regular expression, you start off with the string that you want to search. You paste this into the site, click submit and the site finds recognisable patterns in your string. You then select the patterns that you are interested in and it writes a fully fledged program that extracts those patterns from that string. You then copy the program into your editor or IDE and play with it to integrate it into your program.

Amazing.

Technology

Glasses free 3d on the ipad 2

Using the forward facing camera to track the location of your eyes, the iPad2 can dynamically create a 3D environment that reorients itself as you and the iPad2 move.

Random Rants

Question Assumptions

So often the traditional methods and means of getting things done are built around assumptions that are either outdated, or don’t apply in a novel situation. Mark Wahlberg was able to shoot several fight scenes, which typically take 20 days each, for a movie whose entire shooting schedule was 35 days. How did he do it? He actually filmed real fights, the same way that HBO films live fights for pay per view.

From 37 signals:

Experts go with what they know. And they’ll often insist something needs to take a long time. But when you don’t have tons of resources, you need to ask if there’s a simpler, judo way to get the impact you desire. Sometimes there’s a better way than the “best” way.

The question becomes, then, how can you tell if there is a simpler way? That is the result of being honest with yourself about what it is you are trying to achieve.

The goal was to make the fights seem real. Not to make them look good. To seem real. Focusing on that changes the requirements.

It enables you to switch mental modes: We aren’t making a movie, we are shooting a fight. That happens all the time, in real time, on TV. When you re-examine your requirements, you can see where there are shortcuts to be made not only because restrictions that previously existed no longer do, but a clearer understanding of the goal enables you to step outside your current domain and re-examine other domains for best practices. In the case of “The Fighter”, the other domain was that of sports television: literally brimming with expertise and best practices around capturing live action in a compelling way.

The enemy isn’t best practices and acquired wisdom, it’s a failure to understand truly what it is your want to achieve, and from there search for expertise in other domains.

Technology

Nginx, WordPress Network, and Fastcgi Cache: The Ultimate Guide.