An eclectic list of generally cool stuff.
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A fun, animated, illustrated demonstration of the Yard Sale principle.
A cool explanation of presentism, a term I wasn't previously familiar with.
An exploration of an early attempt at a digital currency. The ideas are very cool and significantly different from the current ideas of cryptocurrencies.
A cool write up of the history of Tengen, a third party developer for the NES. There are interesting details of how they got around Nintendo's licensing protections.
WrathOfGnon has a great article about "Human Scale" with regards to urban planning. There are also follow ups: part 2 (archive) and 3 (archive).
Phil Salvador at The Obscuritory has a cool article about a fighting game made by a few teenagers in their basement.
Someone on Github has an endless, procedurally generated page of Mandalas. Pretty cool.
Steve Losh wrote about his setup for quickly and conveniently making command line programs that end up in
$PATH. You could quite easily adapt this for any programming language you like. I enjoy flexible systems that let you write your own programs easily but it always feels like your own utility programs feel separate from "officially" installed programs. This is a good pattern for alleviating that separation. It also includes docs that work with
This post by Dan Grec outlines his setup for publishing both an ebook and a physical book using a makefile, LaTeX, and Pandoc. Pandoc is a great tool and I've often thought about the best way to use it to publish in multiple formats. You could modify this flow a little bit and publish to the web as well.
Dr Cathy Sherry at The Planthunter wrote about the importance of university food gardens. It seems a bit pointless to be teaching students about plants, agriculture, or environmental issues when most of them have never grown a plant before. My university (Flinders University) didn't have any kind of student accessible garden despite being probably the only South Australian university with the campus space to do so. I wish they did.
I am always wary of the ternary operator. James Sinclair made a great writeup explaining when and when not to use it.
This article discusses the change in Hollywood films and their portrayal of sex and romantic relationships. It argues that hero's bodies in big budget films (particularly superhero films) are getting more and more perfect but less and less sexy. They are less sexy because there is no vulnerability. Their bodies are tools, not part of themselves.
When I watched Avengers: Endgame I was disappointed with the way "fat Thor" was treated. Amongst a cast of overly dramatic, edgy, brooding, superheroes, Thor sitting around losing his health, drinking beer, and playing video games was the most realistic and relatable depiction of dealing with failure (or maybe it's just me). The movie decided to just play it up for cheap gags and Marvel humour. A missed opportunity.
Resident Contrarian wrote an essay about what it's like to be on a low income in the USA. It's a good read; interesting to compare with other places in the world.
This article by Dan Cohen explores the missed opportunity in ebooks. Ebooks had a lot of potential to radically change the way we read. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out. Complicated licensing rules and siloed ebook stores ruin the user experience of obtaining and finding books, even if the experience of reading them is quite good.
I've been reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy which includes a prediction of future computers which are able to access any piece of information instantly. It can access works of fiction, scholarly articles, and even the journals of dead people (made in the same type of machine). We probably have the technology to make such a machine right now but we can't because of the issues mentioned in this article.
I found this article via Robin Sloan's blog.
This article by Jay Hoffmann at The History of the Web talks about the history of the Slashdot effect and later attempts to capitalise on it
Christine Dodrill figured out a way to be represented by an anime character in video chats. The solution uses a VR headset for head tracking and a (fairly convoluted) arrangement of software components to inject the animation into a video stream.
Data genetics has discovered that the official rules of baseball have a requirement that is geometrically impossible to meet.
Lately it's been trendy in the personal blog world to post about "battlestations" and desk set ups. This one post is my favourite of the ones I've read. Arun Venkatesan discusses his design philosophy and how he's applied it to his workspace. Most of these posts discuss function and layout of components. This one goes further. It gets into the aesthetics and design ideas in each product and the plan for a cohesive workspace. The result looks great.
This article by Matt Stoller gets into Facebook's decision to ban all news in Australia and the legislation that triggered the extreme reaction. This clarifies a few things that I misunderstood about the law:
- It's not a link tax. This law will not affect smaller link sharing platforms or personal websites. It only applies to "The Dominant Platform" (i.e. Facebook and Google).
- It doesn't necessarily require payment for links but forces Facebook to be transparent about any algorithm changes and forbids it from using their position to bully publishers into agreeing to terms.
Corey Doctorow also wrote about the same topic. As usual, he's more uncompromising.
Low Tech Magazine discusses modern medicine's environmental impact. There's a bit of a philosophical discussion about how readily we should trade medical quality for efficiency.
Wladimir Palant has a blog post about reverse engineering an Android app which is only available in binary form. I'm interested in reverse engineering binaries and decompilation. It seems to have great potential for preserving old video games and allowing them to run on different platforms. For example, there was a project on GitHub which decompiled Grand Theft Auto 3 and Vice City (currently down due to some DMCA bullshit).
/u/jeffjeffries77 on reddit made an in-depth and entertaining post on reddit about how wrestling creates "heel" characters (bad guys) and how to apply the same techniques to your D&D games. The main lesson is that D&D is usually not a subtle storytelling medium. Most of the time, players aren't going to appreciate nuances, they want big action and big emotions. Just like wrestling. (I found this post via Sly Flourish.)
Two bit history writes about how people misunderstand the importance of the ARPANET. The ARPANET was not novel because it people connected remotely to computers; this was happening already via remote terminals (and remote connections were available for a long time via phone or telegram). ARPANET was novel because it allowed a person to connect to a remote program without any human needing to be on the other end.
I didn't really know anything about Prince (besides his popular hits) before reading this. Anil Dash breaks down his 2007 half time Super Bowl performance and explains the cultural and political importance of his song choices.
Snowden Stieber writes about how and why people believe conspiracy theories. Particularly interesting is the exploration of the role disgust plays in our beliefs and world view.
Data genetics has an article about programmatically creating images from (virtual) dice and Rubik's cubes. It explores various dithering techniques.