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December 2009 Archives

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


I love it.1

Using Adobe’s not the same without a Mac.
If it was leaded it would be lined up on a track.

1 Even though the proper pronunciation of “Neutraface” is ˈnoi trə ˌfās.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Nine hours after the challenge to find ten red moored weather balloons began, DARPA declares MIT Red Balloon Challenge Team the winner. The MIT group will donate the $40,000 (US) to charity.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Overheard in a comment thread:

[It doesn’t] give you a Mobius band anyway, since it completes to a closed surface on the shiny side of the bagel. That would give an embedded, closed non orientable surface in R^3 — which is impossible.

Torus to Hopf link and bound annulus

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The cute subtitle “Zombie Kitten Apocalypse” of this superb short video belies the video’s troubling vision of violence, dying, and reanimation. Since George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living dead, zombies have largely been represented as vulnerable only to cerebrocranial trauma. The kitten zombies of Meow are not so easily destroyed, and the video’s serial depiction of suicide-and-reanimation illustrates the despair and sublimity of perfect mortality giving way to flawed immortality.

Friday, 18 December 2009

The decision favors the La Martiniere group and fines Google €300,00. The primary complaint of La Martiniere is that the scanning of copyrighted works should be compenstated since Google makes money from those scanned works by selling advertising. The New York Times explains

As electronic readers gain popularity and online libraries expand, companies and governments are keen to learn from the mistakes that the film and music businesses made when their content moved online.

I fear that the lesson publishers think they are learning is how to keep their content locked up rather than how to make digital versions of their content available to their customers.

Customers want digital versions and would likely pay for the privilege. Book publishers have a natural barrier between their products and digital distribution in that the market has not yet developed a widely-accepted digital standard for books. Ebooks of all types are still niche products whereas the Compact Disc format developed by Philips and the DVD format developed by Toshiba became standards overnight.

Google offers a bridge to such a digital standard but like the music and movie publishers before them, book publishers seem to want to stop the distribution of digital versions of their works. Book publishers don’t seem to care if Google exposure increases customer awareness of their products and drives non-digital book sales. They seem only interested in preserving things as they were before 1998. This decision in France shows the failure of (French) book publishers to even recognize, let alone grasp, the opportunities presented by digital distribution.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

StretchText Forever

Useful as it is, StretchText is surprisingly unpopular. At the time of this writing, the English language Wikipedia entry for StretchText devotes fewer than two hundred words to explaining what it is, which is basically this:

(show this)

That bit of stretchtext» above is at the heart of the zombie bibliography I began last year. On that page, stretchtext's ability to facilitate information discovery without disrupting orientation is apparent.

Stretchtext has the ability to introduce supplemental information to readers while enabling them to hold their places, an important feature for text that requires long attention spans. But if stretchtext is potentially useful for electronic academic reading, one of the things delaying/preventing its adoption may be the aggressively homely and obstinately idiosyncratic implementations of stretchtext.»

My own implementations are imperfect at best, and my designerly execution leaves much room for improvement, I know. But I do think I nailed the horizontal animated, sliding, collapsible <span> using Javascript and CSS.» Check the second sentence of the second paragraph of my most recent blog entry for one fun stretchtext example.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Compiled from publicly-available Internet-accessible data to simulate what it’s like for people trying to learn about climate change online. Finds that sourcing counterarguments to climate change skepetics is appalingly difficult.

The resulting infographic and data sets may help “the casual, curious reader” make better sense of it all.