Efforts to understand, improve, or do less harm to the world around me.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gay Nazis

Not recent, but more viciously funny great work from Jason Jones over at The Daily Show.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wallaces' Workshop

Although it is to some extent an advertisement, it also manages to be the best flash game I've played in a long time.  You'll have to mute the volume pretty early in (top right buttons) as the voice actor's input stops being cheeky after about an hour.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

(Not) winning the lottery

While 1 in 10,000,000 doesn't seem so impossible if you see people on the news winning all the time, its recognizably hard to wrap your mind around just how many people are in major US cities.  Fortunately or unfortunately, a simulation program is available to help you see how screwed you are.

Webmath has another take on this: some other odds for the sake of comparison:

You have about a 1 in 2,000,000 chance of being struck by lightning.
A pregnant woman has a 1 in 705,000 chance of giving birth to quadruplets.
Someone eating an oyster has a 1 in 12,000 chance of finding a pearl inside of it.

Alternately, there is one method that's a sure thing:

If you want to win big, consider taking that $10 a week you might spend on lottery tickets and investing it. After 35 years, you will be guaranteed $100,314.56 — if you get an eight per cent return on your investment. With a 10 per cent return, your weekly $10 would be worth a guaranteed $166,742.59. Make it $12 a week and at 10 per cent, you've squirrelled away $200,091.10 after 35 years. Again, guaranteed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Linux transition

Windows used to have:
  • All the applications I need
  • Tons of great freeware
  • Lots of cool customization tools for the user-interface
  • Runs games
  • No fuss -- just works
That's losing ground

Software permanence

Great applications for Windows come and go.  Microsoft's Photo Editor was replaced by a complete crap Photo Manager.  Microsoft Office ribbons.  Meanwhile, if I buy another computer, it comes with a Windows version that doesn't run all the applications I want.  I have to upgrade to Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise version to get Windows XP compatibility and that comes at the price of multiple downloads, disk space, and extra RAM.

Mac has a similar problem: great software for the platform frequently doesn't follow into the next version.  Several programs I've wanted to try have required 10.6, which I don't want to upgrade to for fear of losing even more programs that only work on 10.5!

If something comes out for Linux and just about anyone uses it, the program remains available pretty much forever.  Once the code is out there and available, it seems to create a permanence.  Once you've got it, there is no re-learning how to use a program in Linux.

Gradual improvement

Microsoft could not described as gradually improving; many didn't consider Vista an upgrade over XP nor Office 2007 an upgrade over 2003.  Vista was bloated, slow, and problematic and almost nobody thinks the DOCX format was an improvement of any kind for office users. 

Meanwhile, Linux is gradually getting better and every version adds more and more, each of the upgrades for free.  Its not up to speed with Windows or Mac OS, but there has never been a downgrade.

The future

Microsoft hasn't created anything new for the marketplace in years and is just resting on its old business model: OS, Office, and forced upgrades of both.  This is not a company for the next 10 years and putting time and effort behind them is just putting off the inevitable.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Opt-out of getting the phone book

Probably the dumbest (wasteful, useless, outdated, etc.) product still somehow sold, there's a way to avoid getting it.  Unfortunately, you can't just type in your address and get removed -- you may also need call a phone number.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Firefox passwords

So although its possible to break a Firefox "master" (a topic mentioned here on the site), Mozilla put out an excellent article on picking hard-to-guess passwords that would make breaking their master password take too long to make it worth attacking (10+ years).

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The yogurt's gone bad

Maybe the best fridge note I've ever seen.

Additionally, best comment in the comments section:

I'd've put the expired yogurt, lid off, foil still on, in someone's pillow. Lay down and get a head covered in expired yogurt.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Two amazing flash games

Although ultimately a simple game with somewhat limited replay value, this zombie defense game brings something I've never seen before in the "real time strategy" world: no central base.  You are continuously building and breaking down your defenses and base-type structure as you move through the map salvaging materials and gathering survivors.  The goal here is not expansion but careful, balanced transition.  Move too slowly and you'll run out of resources, but move too quickly and you'll overextend yourself and become vulnerable.

A less revolutionary game, but with amazing replay value is Bubble Tanks 1.5.  I've played and set aside $50 games before I was halfway finished with this free, online game.  Awesome!

Good news today (horray)

  • Some good reporting asking the question I've tried to put into words for quite a while: how are we going to reduce or end the deficit when everyone wants to end government "waste", but nobody wants their programs cut?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Making Steel-cut Oats

They're more dense, cheaper, are reputed to be better for you, and don't get tedious and boring the way regular oatmeal seems to.  Unfortunately, as they are less processed than regular oatmeal, they frequently require more cooking/preparation.  Fortunately there's a long list of ways to do that.

(Thanks W)

Monday, October 04, 2010

Still more internet censhorship

A Democratic and Republican senator both over the age of 70 who aren't concerned about internet censorship have put together COICA.  Utah Republican Orrin Hatch whose widely criticized views on intellectual property has taken a step down from a series of bad ideas including "copyright owners should be able to destroy the computer equipment and information of those suspected of copyright infringement" to a slightly less but still way-too-broad bill to shut down domains that may have infringing content (think youtube.com and others).  More here.

Although the bill appears to be put off until the midterm elections, its clear both Democrats and Republicans can score big points with Hollywood by supporting COICA.  Hopefully enough voters will fight the bill into non-existence.

Is it a mollusk? Is it a plant?

A species of slug has borrowed genes from a plant and made itself extremely versatile using a process known as horizontal gene transfer.  Now if only we could combine a turtle with a ninja.

(Thanks Wes)