Monthly Archives: March 2011


Art Of Matt Moore

Via the always excellent Datachurch


Mod_Pagespeed & for jpegs: don’t use them

Don’t use mod_pagespeed (with the default settings! see below for more info) or Smush it if you care at all about how your pictures look.

So, in looking around at some nifty solutions to speed up page rendering and web serving in general, I came across mod_pagespeed and, both claiming to provide all sorts of wonderful optimizations, specifically, losslessly compressing images. All of their other claims aside, the particular claim regarding lossless image optimization is a lie. A damned lie. The “optimized” images look like washed out crap, at least using the default optimization settings for both systems. claims it’s optimization is lossless, which is clearly not true. Mod_pagespeed lists lossy compression as a risk in their documentation. Points off for me for failing to RTFM.

Mouse over the images below to see just how bad the optimized versions are.

from mod_pagespeed

From Smush It:

Update from @jmarantz: Try ‘ModPagespeedDisableFilters rewrite_images’ or ‘ModPagespeedDisallow *.jp*g’ to turn off lossy compression.

Will do. Thanks for the note.


Chess Without Turns

Reminds me of playing speed chess in Washington Square: Chess Without Turns.

Essentially the strategy against newbs is get the queen in action as soon as possible and go on the offensive. Against more advanced players, you have to play defense, attempting to take out their powerful players until all they have is pawns.


Electric Bikes Are Here.

I’m an ardent futurist. I believe that prodigious improvements that technology has provided humanity over the course of our existence will continue indefinitely into the future, much like the inevitability of evolution and entropy.

That said, I’m a pragmatist as well. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” are wise words to live by.

So, when I see an old standard, the preferred method of long distance locomotion for billions of human beings supplanted by new technology I start to take notice.

For the past year, after having moved out to brooklyn, I’ve noticed a trend among the deliverymen of our neighborhood: one by one they are moving to electric bicycles. At first, I thought it was a fad. Someone figured out that by spending a little bit more on their bike, they wouldn’t have to peddle all night long. I thought, surely this new technology, when faced with the rigors of delivery service would soon succumb to the more robust traditional human powered bike, with it’s easily repaired mechanical systems. But the fleet of electric bikes has only grown and surprisingly one model seems to have won out the in the selection of the fittest: the green power classic bike, which can be purchased for something on the order of 4 to 5 times the street value of a huffy.

Essentially, the benefits of an electric bike outweigh the total costs of ownership for delivering food, perhaps the most rigorous use case for a bike. This is a watershed moment for electric personal transportation revolution.

Here they are, in action:

Politics Technology

Grepping for Gaddafi

How do you programmatically find someone’s name in text if there is no generally agreed upon spelling? Moamer Kaddafi present a unique challenge for those of us who like to parse our news before reading it. Several solutions are presented at StackOverflow

The regex, which basically brute forces several well known spellings:


This solution, though, is my favorite though. It uses Soundex which searches for any set of sounds in a given set of english text that approximate the basic phonetics of Gaddafi’s name:

G310, K310, Q310


What the Hell is a Microsievert?

Handy chart explaining radiation exposure from xkcd.


Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired

NAVI – Navigational Aids for the Visually Impaired: Hacking together the Kinect, a vibrotactile waist belt, and a blue helmet to help blind people navigate. Also Vibrotactile is my new favorite word.


Warm Signal

Beautiful abstract animation from Silke Sieler


Astounding pictures of the japanese earthquake

Via Boing Boing


The Funkiest Thing You’ll Hear Today:

Stevie Wonder and the Clash: Uptight Vs. The Casbah