- Amazon has announced and should now be shipping a new Kindle Paperwhite with 300 DPI resolution. That’s a magic number; it’s the resolution of most inexpensive laser printers, and will make reading on e-ink mostly indistinguishable from reading b/w paper.
- The physics behind those new “no-stick” ketchup and mayonnaise bottles.
- Egad: The 2015 USDA Dietary Guidelines has omitted cholesterol from its list of “nutrients of concern” and eliminated its upper limit on total fat consumption. People, we are winning. Ancel Keys’ corpse has been exhumed and is about to be burned at the (heavily marbled) steak.
- Reason ranks states in terms of numbers of libertarian citizens. Colorado is #16. Arizona is #10.
- Amazon released a figure for June page-reads that allows us to calculate the KU per-page payout. It comes to 0.6 cents. For a 500-page novel (again, remember that Amazon defines what a page is, and the algorithm is still unclear) an author realizes $3.00. That’s actually a good chunk more that what the author would get for a $2.99 sale, and fairly close to the author payout for a $3.99 sale.
- More on author earnings: Agency pricing for ebooks, which large publishers fought so hard for, looks like it’s being a disaster for them. Higher prices have meant lower sales; in fact, Big 5 ebook unit sales were down 17% in the first four months of 2015.
- 30% of ebooks sold in the US do not have ISBNs, and this seriously distorts industry reporting on ebook sales. Conventional industry metrics don’t count ebooks without ISBNs. I have lots of ISBNs and intend to use them—hey, they’re paid for—but this makes me wonder if it really matters.
- 23 newly coined words for emotions that we feel but can’t describe. Carol and I experienced Chrysalism the other day, and anecdoche seems to be the American Way.
- Most MMJ edibles are badly labeled, and contain less THC and CBD than they imply. Colorado has a testing program in place, but it’s new and not everyone is convinced the tests are accurate. So it still pays to be careful, do a little at a time so you know what you’re in for, and try your best not to pull a Maureen Dowd.
- It’s both.
- Before you shoot your mouth of about the Confederate flag, maybe you should learn a little bit about the several Confederate flags.
- If you’re considering self-publishing, here’s a site you should read, and follow.
- We’ve discovered a couple of what I guess we could call owie-hot superconductors (room temp is for wimps!) with critical transition temperatures as high as 141C. (Alas, none of the alloys contain ytterbium.) The larger site is a good resource for superconductivity freaks.
- Frank Glover pointed me to something I wouldn’t have expected: an Airbus recoverable orbital cargo module that flies back to ground with…propellers.
- Esther Schindler sends a link to an article graphing 144 years of stats on American marriage and divorce. Marriage rates are now the lowest they’ve been in recorded history.
- Matt Ridley absolutely shreds the 60-year-old war on fat and cholesterol.
- It’s possible (not easy, but possible) to turn your Windows 10 upgrade to a bootable ISO.
- Roy Tellason has a marvelous index to nearly all useful vacuum tubes, with basing, filment voltage and current, description, and uses. (Thanks to Pat for the link.)
- Don’t stop there: Roy also has indexes for 2N, 2SA, 2SB, 2SC, 2SD, 2SH-2SJ, and odd-numbered transistors. Also diodes, optoisolators, and bridge rectifiers. ICs too, in too many separate indexes to list here. Go to the index of indexes and see it all.
- The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a summer conference teaching students how to fight campus speech codes. Applications are due by July 3, so if you’re a student or know one, the time to act is now.
- A big sorry-you-insufferable-idiots goes out to our snooty urban elite: Both malls and suburbs are doing fine, and in some places are roaring back.
- One man designed Tobor the Great, Robbie the Robot, and the Lost in Space robot, and he lived to be 100.
- More robots: Among the least-appreciated funny robots in film history are the one-eyed robotic lawnmowers that chase Jerry Lewis around in the mayhem-filled action climax of his 1962 film It’s Only Money. Here’s the original trailer. Watch it to the end, where the lawnmowers steal the scene even from Lewis.
- Presidential portraits from another universe by artist Jason Heuser. My favorite is Richard Nixon with brass knuckles punching a smilodon’s lights out, though Ben Franklin fighting Zeus while riding an American Beauty-style kite is right up there.
Yes, I’ve been scarce in recent weeks, but bear with me: I’m off doing something difficult but important, which I’ll tell you about later.
Although it’s been going on now for three years, I hadn’t ever heard of the Sad Puppies phenomenon until a couple of months ago, and what brought it to my attention was an ongoing rumble raging up and down the social networks and blogosphere. The rumble was just a rumble until April 4, when the Hugo Award nominations for 2015 were announced. Then, ye gods and little fishes, the Puppies swept the slate and it became Hugogeddon. I’ve already described the Sad Puppies thing here as part of a series that I’d originally intended to focus on Sarah Hoyt’s Human Wave SF manifesto. It’s a movement to bring new people into the Worldcon culture and perhaps get some attention for writers who for whatever reason are never considered for the Hugo Awards. The Sad Puppies 3 effort was all very much up-front and out in the open. The most powerful man in SFF publishing, Patrick Neilsen-Hayden, stated quite clearly that the group violated no rules whatsoever.
But oh, my, the dudgeon, the squealing, the bright purple faces, the curses and threats and slobbering on the floor. Writers of considerable stature, whom I had read and long respected, lost that respect instantly and went onto my Seventh-Grade Playground Tantrum-Throwers List. They seemed to think that anyone who put forth a list of recommended authors or works was trying to dynamite the awards, and (worse) that this was a brand-new thing that had never been tried before. Well…Mike Glyer, who belongs to the Anti-Puppy (AP) faction, pointed out that slatemaking has been practiced erratically since the very first Hugo Awards season in…1953. Apparently the difference between recommendations and a slate is that a slate is put forth by people we dislike.
Takeaway: Hugo Award slatemaking is nothing new, and does not violate the rules. You have a constitutional right to be upset about it. I have a constitutional right to think of it as a nonissue. I’m not going to argue that point any further in this entry. (I doubt I will argue that point further at all. Don’t even bring it up in the comments.) I have something else in mind entirely. Let me phrase it as a question:
How in hell could a couple of mostly unknown authors turn the venerable Hugo Awards inside-out?
My answer: adverse attention. For a definition, let me quote from a textbook that I made up just now: Zoftnoggin & Wiggout’s Fundamentals of Sociometry.
Adverse attention is a rise in the attention profile of a previously obscure phenomenon caused by the actions of an entity that opposes that phenomenon. In the vast majority of cases, the triggering force is outrage, though it sometimes appears through the action of envy, pride, lust, asshattedness, butthurt, or other largely emotional psychopathologies.
This being sociometry, adverse attention may be quantified, and there is a standard unit for expressing it:
The fundamental unit of adverse attention is the streisand, defined as one previously uninterested person achieving a degree of interest in a phenomenon sufficient to compel them to email, share, or retweet information about that phenomenon to one other person in a social network. As the information propagates across a social network, the connectedness of the network influences the total amount of adverse attention that arises. For example, if each of ten previously uninterested persons receiving the information passes it on to only one previously uninterested person, eleven streisands of adverse attention have been created. If one of those previously uninterested persons has 200 followers on Twitter or 1000 Facebook friends, the number of streisands increases rapidly. In a sufficiently dense network, the rate of increase can become close to exponential until the number of previously uninterested persons asymptotically approaches zero.
I’ve seen evidence for this in the comment sections of many blogs that have criticized or condemned the Sad Puppies. A common comment goes something like this: “Wow! I never knew that you could vote for the Hugos without going to Worldcon! And I just downloaded the free preview of Monster Hunter International. This is way cool!” Zing! The world gets another Puppy.
The emotional tenor of the criticism matters too. I’ve seen a few comments that go something like this: “I’d never heard of the Sad Puppies before. I’ve been trying to figure out which side is right, but the sheer nastiness of the Sad Puppies’ critics makes me think they’re just sore losers. I’m more or less with the Puppies now.”
Then, of course, there are the hatchet-job articles (all of them roughly identical) in what most people consider legitimate media, like Entertaintment Weekly, which later retracted the article once it became clear that it was libelous. The Guardian wrote another hit-piece that fell short of libel but still misrepresented the phenomenon. These are not just blogs. These are significant publications that have a lot of readers.
And those streisands just keep piling up.
It’s something like a sociological law: Commotion attracts attention. Attention is unpredictable, because it reaches friend and foe alike. It can go your way, or it can go the other way. There’s no way to control the polarity of adverse attention. The only way to limit adverse attention is to stop the commotion.
In other words, just shut up.
I know, this is difficult. For some psychologies, hate is delicious to the point of being psychological crack, so it’s hard to just lecture them on the fact that hate has consequences, including but hardly limited to adverse attention.
My conclusion is this: The opponents of Sad Puppies 3 put them on the map, and probably took them from a fluke to a viable long-term institution. I don’t think this is what the APs intended. In the wake of the April 4 announcement of the final Hugo ballot, I’d guess the opposition has generated several hundred kilostreisands of adverse attention, and the numbers will continue to increase. Sad Puppies 4 has been announced. Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen have lots of new fans who’d never heard of them before. (I just bought the whole Monster Hunter International series and will review it in a future entry.)
To adapt a quote from…well, you know damned well whose quote I’m adapting: “Attack me, and I will become more popular than you could possibly imagine.”
Or, to come closer to home, and to something in which I have personal experience: “Feed puppies, and they grow up.”
Actions have consequences. Who knew?
- The xenon flash problem with the Raspbrry Pi 2 board has been explained reasonably well on the Foundation site, by Liz Upton. Key seems to be that U16 is not a typical SMT chip encased in black resin, but a naked BGA (Ball Grid Array) chip, which allows light to hit the chip’s silicon directly. HackaDay’s Brian Benchoff says that a cheap green laser pointer will also do it, suggesting that the wavelength of light hitting U16 matters crucially. Hey kids, this is a science fair project: What wavelengths of light trigger photoelectric emission on an exposed silicon die? (Many thanks to Michael Covington for the link.)
- Adafruit has a nice benchmark page for the Raspberry Pi 2, which also provides detailed descriptions of the differences between the new board and the older boards.
- What’s going on in the Martian atmosphere?
- There’s a single SMT chip at the heart of the Baofeng radios I described recently: The RDA1846. I would love to see this on a cape/shield for one of the popular embedded boards, especially the Raspberry Pi. Not quite a true SDR, but mighty close, and I’d guess damned useful for radio tinkering. (Thanks to Bob Fegert for the link.)
- By the way, “Baofeng” and “Pofung” are the same company. It sounds like they were trying to make “Baofeng” easier to pronounce for Westerners, but in truth I don’t think it was much of a problem to being with, and I admit I was confused when I first ran across “Pofung.”
- Norse’s real-time IP attack map is very cool in a War Games sort of way, but it takes some study to figure out what exactly it is that you’re seeing. (Thanks to Pete Albrecht for the link.)
- Here’s a nice collection of homebrew radio projects from Jim McNutt WA6OTP, with pictures and schematics. Fine work!
- An interesting short introduction to the geophysical differences between Earth’s north pole annd south pole.
- More crazy weapons, including but hardly limited to the Panjundrum. I’ve always liked the Triebflugel, which was a great idea until you had to land it, kind of like the XF-85 Goblin.
- That’s not a monkey on that marathon runner’s back. It’s a tomato-dispenser robot. I guess we’re in somebody’s vision of the future. It certainly isn’t mine.
- Scott Adams reminds us that science has failed us on diet and health so often that some people assume that science itself is unreliable. His point is good: Being wrong is part of the scientific method, but humans see patterns in things, and that pattern simply means that science is slower than we’d like, and refines knowledge over time by identifying our mistakes. We forget this at our peril.
- Intel’s latest rev of its NUC (Next Unit of Computing) has a Broadwell CPU and a swappable lid that provides a standard form factor for 3rd party extensions. The only big mistake is the total lack of SD card slots. We’re well along toward my 15-year-old prediction that computers will ultimately be swellings on the backs of monitors.
- Why the Feds are terrified of hobby helicopters. (Drones? No, you’ve got it backwards. Those are the Feds.) This is nonsense, and the whole thing is a dodge. I made this point some time back: Governments do not want to be watched. No governments, anywhere. That’s what the whole “drones” thing is about, top to bottom.
- Wired staffers bid farewell to Radio Shack. Me too. I considered a TRS-80 in 1978, and occasionally regretted not getting one once my friend Jim Dunn bought one in 1979.
- Radio Shack, yes. We also forget how the Model 100 (noisily) transformed tech journalism. In 1984 Xerox tried to field a competitor to the Model 100, which I evaluated for our department. It was hideous, and (worse) cost $2500, which would be $5700 today!
- Here’s the mother lode of scanned and browsable Radio Shack catalogs. I still have a few of these. (Thanks to Esther Schindler for the link.) As an example, here’s the page describing the stereo I bought the first Christmas Carol and I were married, 38 years ago. It still works, and we still use it.
- Very cool physics demo on YouTube: An AA battery and four disk magnets pull themselves around inside a tube made of coiled copper wire. (Thanks to Bob Fegert for the link.)
- A supercapacitor made from nanoelectrodes and a kitchen sponge. (Again, thanks to Bob Fegert for the link.)
- Tides do not seem to affect earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The discussion is plainly written and I think anybody can follow it.
- I hadn’t heard of the Sad Puppies before a few days ago. (Whatever you may think of the concept, they have a great logo.) I guess I’ve been away from Fandom for awhile.
- Lileks has a feed on Tumblr. Worth following, as is Weird Vintage.
Carol and I were digging out the far dark corners of our walk-in pantry, and an interesting artifact came to hand: A plastic thermos bottle with the following inscription:
It keeps hot food hot, and cold food cold. How does it know? Is it the most “artificially intelligent” object in the galaxy?
At the bottom of the front face was Borland International’s logo. The jug was a teaser for Turbo Prolog, and I think I received it while I was still at PC Tech Journal in the fall of 1986. I had to quote the text here, because as you can see from the photo, a good part of the inscription has been worn away. Why? Because I used it. I used it a lot.
That is not generally the case for swag.
Once I became a computer journalist in 1985, I was offered a lot of swag, and took more of it than I had any need for, mostly to be polite. These were, after all, advertisers and potential advertisers. Carol and I have gotten (and still get) swag from various persons and organizations, and it’s interesting to look around the house and see what we still have, fifteen years after I ceased to have advertisers:
- In the summer of 1976, Carol attended an open house at a local real estate office in Rochester Minnesota, where she was at grad school. They gave her a yellow plastic noodle strainer reading “Joe Maas Gallery of Homes” and a phone number. Almost 39 years later, we still use it to strain noodles and dumplings and anything else that needs to stay in the pot while dumping the water. Joe Maas’s name is long gone to friction and detergent, but I still remember it. For swag, I’d say mission accomplished.
- Seven or eight years ago, we received a plastic flyswatter in the shape of a house from the realtor in Chicago who helped us buy our condo. It’s a little smaller than most flyswatters, meaning that it has less mass and is more maneauverable, as a good many flies have found to their sorrow. I’m not sure I’d want my company name slobbered up with bug guts, but I use it most days in the summer and will never forget Rohn Realty.
- In 1985, Quadram gave me a nice leather reporter’s notebook with their logo on the front. I used to use it a lot for pen-and-ink jotting, until technology made pen-and-ink mostly obsolete. Technology did the same number on Quadram, so I guess it doesn’t matter that I misplaced it some years ago. (I think I know where it is, but I don’t want to dig that deep in a pile that big.)
- Premia gave me a nice little pen knife / nail file / micro-scissors in 1992 or so with the CodeWright logo on one side. It’s still in my desk drawer and I still use it.
- Screwdrivers. I still have and use a pocket screwdriver from PK Ware, as well as the one that came in the box with Windows for Workgroups.
- Thumb drives. These didn’t exist back when still I went to trade shows, but Eric Bowersox gave me a couple of teensy little items that came loaded with just about every piece of documentation AMD was giving away about its processors and motherboards. Double brilliant.
- Canvas bags. Too numerous to mention. All that came to hand just now long outlived their vendors. A particularly good specimen from the 1991 OOPSLA is still my designated hamfest trick-or-treat bag.
Not everything makes good swag. Here are some cautionary pointers:
- Pens. Live fast and die quick; that’s the pen motto. All are long gone, although a spring-loaded Levitra gimmick pen given to me by a doctor friend remains in my Personal Museum of Very Odd Things.
- Coffee mugs. Part of the problem is that everybody gives out coffee mugs, and your swag mug gets lost among all the others, and is eventually given to the local thrift store. The other part of the problem is that coffee mugs aren’t always microwaveable, and if you can’t nuke the brew, that mug is on the short path to oblivion. I gave away the nice OS/2 Warp mug I once had because it was plastic. And early on, swag cups often had foil trim, which catches fire in the microwave. The Borland mug shown above is a very nice item, but man, you should have seen the fireworks when I turned the microwaves loose on it in the early 90s.
- Clothes. Ok, folks, look at me: Am I an XXL? Then why are all these trade-show T-shirts size XXL? Because you can’t stock six sizes at your booth? Well, look at whose canvas bag I’m toting. It isn’t yours, hint hint.
Not all those XXL T-shirts are gone. We still have a couple, and Carol uses them for nightgowns and swimsuit coverups. A famous example has those cute little whatevertheyares from the cover of O’Reilly’s book Sed and Awk. When we were in St. John’s in 1998, a vacationing geek chatted up Carol, hoping that she was that rarest of beings: a beautiful woman who uses sed and awk. (Carol referred him to me. His disappointment was palpable.)
I’m sure there are others in drawers and cabinets around the house. The wonder isn’t that we still have them (we’re legendary packrats) but that such cheap and usually plastic geegaws can actually serve real needs for longer than ten minutes. Borland’s AI thermos will doubtless see ice-water service again this summer, now that it’s no longer in the bottom of a box. Houses have flies, and thus realtors will give away flyswatters. And a swag strainer that sees near-daily use for 38 years with no end in sight? That should be in a glass case in the Vatican, because God in heaven, it’s a miracle.
- Although I created a Twitter account back in November, I haven’t done much with it until a day or so ago. I’ve begun posting what amount to instant Odd Lots on Twitter, so if you were waiting for me to do something useful before following me, well, the wait is over.
- Twitter has been using its own link shortener t.co to shorten all links in tweets since 2011 or so. It’s automatic and requires zero additional keystroking. Why, then, do tweeters still use services like bit.ly and goo.gl?
- The FCC may change the definition of “broadband” today, which could demote tens of millions of people (mostly DSL users) to some weird limbo between dialup and broadband. Most of the DSL connections I’ve used have been hideous, some providing measured speeds right down there with 1994 dialup, along with weird lockups and general bit-mayhem.
- Update to the above: Yup. It happened. Next on the agenda: net neutrality.
- NASA’s New Horizons probe is now waking up. We’re about to get our first close-in views of the last (known) un-visited planet in the solar system. Pluto and its gigantic moon Charon are only 12,000 mles apart and orbit one another in 6.3 days, so I’m expecting that some of the upcoming images will be startling, to put it mildly.
- Your coding style gives you away. Mine certainly does–all my reserved words are in uppercase. Why run with the pack?
- Wired tests five wine-stain removers. $18 a bottle? I dunno. At $3.50 or so, Spray & Wash Resolve Stain Stick always works pretty well for us. (Me, actually. Carol drinks white wine.)
- Apple’s app store billed more than Hollywood’s entire box-office take last year.
- It’s easy to say “We’re going to tie health-care payments to health-care outcomes. It’s a lot harder to measure those outcomes objectively.
- This thingmajigger–called a “Panjandrum”–is almost certainly the silliest weapon in 20th century military history. I invite you to nominate competitors, but I warn you, it’s a tough act to beat. (Make sure you scroll down to the video, even if you don’t read the whole thing.)
- Finally, from the Global Vaporizing department: 2,960 degrees in Cave Creek. Boy, it didn’t get quite that hot back in the 90s… (Thanks to Bill Roper for the link.)
- This item may not be visible after a few more days, so catch it now: A very weird “hotspot” turned up in the satellite water temperature record at the far eastern end of Lake Superior. For a short while, water temps excursed from the 30s up to the 60s F. Instrument Error? Cargo ship on fire? UFO exploding? STORMY baiting and then rounding up firenados? No one can tell me, though I suspect that the truth is out there.
- The FCC is trying to redefine “broadband” as 25 Mbps down / 3Mbps up. The big carriers are livid. And what are they saying? “Nobody needs Internet that fast!” Just like Esther Dyson said that no home computer user would ever need a CPU as fast as the 286.
- The dropoff in some ebook author revenues this past fall (which many blamed on Kindle Unlimited) may have been a sales cycle thing, unrelated to Amazon.
- Dare we hope that this new Facebook feature will be the end of hoaxes and hate memes? Be on notice that I intend to use it a lot.
- Slashdot inadvertently invited all the Pascal-haters out of their caves for one more hatefest. Heh. Maybe not a hatefest. The emotion I pick up when C partisans’ eyes roll back in their heads over Pascal is not hate, but…fear.
- Angry Twitter posts are harmful to your health. Duhhh. Angry anything is harmful to your health. Anger is jack-in-the-box suicide: You can’t tell quite when, but the more you turn that crank, the sooner the thing’s gonna pop.
- The Pirate Bay has a phoenix logo and a countdown timer on their old site, suggesting that they’re coming back online on February 1. I consider this unlikely, but I’ve been surprised by these guys before.
- From the same site: Dozens of Pirate Bay clones are not nearly as useful as the real thing.
- And while we’re talking about (if not like) pirates, whatever happened to Antigua’s blanket permission to distribute copyrighted files? Lots of news about that in midlate 2013, nothing since.
- The highest-paid YouTube video author films herself unwrapping Disney toys. That’s it. And for that she earned $5M. I think I’m in the wrong damned business.
- Hachette is now doing exactly the right thing (instead of exactly the wrong thing) by exploring new sales channels. In this case, it’s Gumroad, a technology that allows retail sales on Twitter. I need to look more closely, but I could certainly get behind that. And–yeek!–a real use for Twitter!
- “Nutrition is full of all kinds of nonsense.” Boy, is it ever. (Thanks to Erik Anderson for the link.)
- Ibuprofen (Advil) appears to extend the lifespan of several species, mostly way down the complexity chain from humans. Ibuprofen is not without side effects; like most NSAIDS, it hits the stomach lining harder harder than acetaminaphen (Tylenol) and I avoid it for heartburn reasons. I’d certainly like to see further research on whether the effect still exists on much lower doses.
- I’m not sure torrenting was ever really safe, but with the disappearance of the real Pirate Bay and the appearance of Pirate Bay clones, the risks have definitely increased. I’m also guessing that a lot of the traffic that once ran through TPB has now gone “black” and moved to private trackers and seedboxes.
- Several French publishers are suing the creators of AdBlock Plus for ruining their business model. My position: Accept financial liability for serving malware in your ads, and I’ll stop blocking your ads.
- My guess is that the waittress will look at you funny if you order corned-beef octothorpe.
- Carol and I got our flu shots some time back, but it may do us (and you) less good than we all think. The virus mutated after work began on this year’s virus, and the vaccine is nowhere near as effective against the mutated strain as it is against the others. No cons for us this season.
- David Brooks generally isn’t funny. But when he is, yikes! He bends it like Jonathan Swift. (If you’re not behind the paywall, search for “Brooks The Thought Leader”.)
- Corn flakes are (mildly) magnetic. I didn’t know this.
- Government is your friend! Without it, how would you know enough not to buy vulgar underwear?
- Yes, I changed my mind and signed up for Twitter, after pondering somebody else using my name and creating a Fake Jeff Duntemann. (Thanks to Bob Fergert for prompting me to imagine the unimaginable–and I’m a good imaginer.) More on this a little later. I have yet to post anything due to lots of top-priority projects here, but I’ll get to it within the week.
- Dietary saturated fat is not related to plasma fatty acids. In other words, it doesn’t matter how much saturated fat you eat; your blood levels of fatty acids are controlled by other factors. What other factors? Care to guess? Are you reading this on Contrapositive Diary? Is the Pope from Argentina? Is the atomic weight of ytterbium 173.04? It’s the carbs. Wow. Whodathunkit? (Thanks to Jonathan O’Neal, who was the first of several to put me on the scent.)
- There is actually a prize for the worst sex scene in literary fiction. It is not a coveted award, and I guess is seen as a sort of booby prize among literary writers. The WSJ recently posted a brief guide on how to avoid writing such scenes. (I avoid writing really bad sex scenes by not writing sex scenes at all. Works amazingly well.)
- Two people in my circles who don’t know one another have independently recommended Ting as a cell carrier. First impression: Sounds too good to be true, and sheesh, they were created by Tucows. (That said, Tucows is no longer what most of us grayhairs remember it being.) Any other opinions? Getting new phones and a new carrier is my next big tech research project.
- I’d also like to hear some early impressions of Lollipop, if anybody’s got it or is about to get it.
- Here’s something you don’t see every day; in fact, I don’t think I’ve seen it even once, ever: A square flat-panel monitor, with a 1920 X 1920 resolution. Assuming these survive their launch (not a sure thing by any means) I’d be sorely tempted. As the story says, “Enough of the ultra wideness already.”
- I wasn’t sure whether good technical books could be created as reflowable ebooks, but Yury Magda is doing it. He has five self-published Arduino-related titles now, and what I can see in the samples looks damned good. I’m going to buy a couple, less for the Arduino content as for how he does the layout. (Thanks to Jim Strickland for putting me on to this.)
- Gizmodo/Sploid has a very nice short item on the XB-70 Valkyrie, certainly the most beautiful and possibly the second-scariest military aircraft ever built. Do watch the video of how the second prototype crashed–and if you’re ever within striking distance of Dayton, don’t miss the other Valkyrie at the Air Force museum there. (Thanks to Bruce Baker for the link.)
- Barðarbunga is emitting over twice as much sufur dioxide every day as all of Europe’s smokestacks put together, and the volcano is still hard at it. SO2 is well-known to be a powerful cooling factor in the atmosphere. Combine that with a quiet Sun, and nobody really knows what might happen.
- Best video illustration of how tumbler locks work that I’ve ever seen.
- For that special, short, hairy, ironic someone in your life: You can get a genuine Flying Nun-inspired Weta-made Bofur winter hat, shipped all the way from New Zealand. Not cheap and not sure if it’ll arrive before Christmas, but if this winter keeps going like it’s going, you’ll be all set to face dragons, ice ages, or both.