Friday, April 30, 2010

Apple is becoming evil

I see both sides in the Apple vs. Flash war. Apple cares most about making their hardware work, Adobe wants people to use their cool software.

But Apple's censorship of the App Store is out of line. (Not to mention the goon squad going after their lost iPhone prototype. If you want to keep the next version a secret, don't leave it in a bar!) Not only have they censored political cartoonists and random apps they don't like, they've also censored a journalist.

The iPad is pretty. And a great intro computer for novices. But Apple's walled garden is the AOL of the 21st century. It ain't the whole internet. And Apple is acting like a vengeful god, arrogant and spiteful.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Super Mario Crossover

Wow. This game is amazing. You play Super Mario Bros., but you can play as Mega Man, Samus, Link or 3 other 8 bit characters. With their interfaces and powers. It's a mashup that comments on the nature of video game design. So cool.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Segway shooting range

No, you can't shoot at stuff while riding a Segway at this place. (Although I'm sure someone's thought of that.) You shoot at Segways with styrofoam torsos on top.

It's simultaneously awesome and creepy. Awesome that they can program all the Segways to run around in complicated patterns, while still having enough autonomy to avoid obstacles and to scatter to safety when one of their friends gets shot. However, it's still creepy to see a small town of Segway-people "walking" around. If I saw a town of robot people like that, I'd run far away. Which is probably the best way to avoid getting shot, anyway.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

If you want to be a teacher in New York, you now can get your teaching license from an alternative facility, and not have to go to a formal university for a full Master's degree.

Those who favor this change, including Obama's Secretary of Education as well as me, observe that many education schools are too heavy on theory and don't provide practical skills. Critics of the change argue that hegemonic mandates fail to account for cultural practices in communities of learners that facilitate individual constructions of knowledge.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The internet doesn't isolate us from ideas

While some had feared that with news aggregators online we might only read news sources we agree with, it turns out that most of us get news from a variety of sources.

Unfortunately, that alone doesn't mean it will all work out. Studies have shown that once we've made up our minds, facts showing we're wrong just convince us of our righteousness even more. The fact that liberals check Fox News to gloat about their hypocrisy and conservatives read the New York Times to see what liberal horror to be outraged at doesn't solve our political problems. But it's still nice to know the internet hasn't made the problem worse. For that I blame Fox.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cyberpunk makeup thwarts computer face detection

Remember the crazy makeup in Blade Runner and other 80s sci-fi movies? Turns out that sort of high contrast makeup breaks face-detection algorithms. So if you want to keep The Man from using software to sort through all the CCTV footage of where you've been, paint yourself like a simulant.

On the down side, every human around will remember you very clearly. Of course, they'll just remember the makeup. It's like wearing an eyepatch, only it confuses people and computers.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Apple blocks kids' programming tool

Not only has Apple kept porn out of the App Store (which I can respect) and editorial cartoonists (until they got caught), now they've blocked Scratch.

Scratch is a cool way for kids to make computer programs and share them online with others. They can make games, electronic greeting cards, music videos, all kinds of cool stuff. And learn how to operate computers along the way.

Hopefully in a year or two Apple will open up the iPad to tools like this. But it's another reason to hope they don't corner the market. Making sure your hardware works well is one thing. Blocking software developers from selling to your customers is another.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lego robot plays Tetris

First Rubik's Cubes, then Sudoku. Now a lego robot that plays tetris. (With the help of special electronic eyes that convert the screen into a signal it can handle.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lego stop-motion awesome

A swedish rock band made a crazy awesome video.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lego house

Thank you, Britain.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Post-it stop-motion spectacular

Art student in Georgia does amazing things with post-it notes. Sorry Eepybird, but your post-it antics aren't even close to how good this is.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Apple store censors political cartoonist

It's their party, and they can kick out anyone they don't like. But Apple blocking a political cartoonist from the App Store points out how the iPad isn't the salvation for newspapers. If Apple can decide what does and doesn't appear, then they can block anything unfavorable about Apple. Or any of their friends.

Sorry, Steve, but you've gone too far. It's one thing to have technical specifications (even tyrannical ones) and maintain control over the working of your device to assure high performance. But your control obsession has extended to the content, and that's not how a free society should work.

Update: The fact that Apple has asked the cartoonist to resubmit doesn't fix the problem. Doing the right thing when everyone is paying attention is easy. And letting famous journalists say whatever they want doesn't show courage. Real free speech is for all people, not just the ones we've heard of.

We need more bank regulations

I feel like I'm a talking point machine, regularly linking to Paul Krugman's columns, but once again he is right on the money, so to speak.

The congress is considering stiffening financial regulations. Republicans say that's bad for some reason. However, as Krugman observes, "between the 1930s and the 1980s, there weren’t any really big financial bailouts, because strong regulation kept most banks out of trouble. It was only with Reagan-era deregulation that big bank disasters re-emerged."

Arguing that banks should be free to fail is irresponsible because the ripples go through the whole economy. Anyone who was laid off, or knows someone who was laid off, or got their pay cut or was furloughed understands this. Banks aren't the only companies hurting right now, even though banks were the ones who screwed up. They have too much power over our economy, and they need checks and balances like the ones that worked very well for 50 years.

Making banking boring and safe again. Tell your congressperson to pass strong banking regulation.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kinetic typography

I'd seen this before, but I hadn't seen the hundreds of great videos on YouTube. Holy crap. These are awesome. Using animated text to not just enhance audio, but to make the words dance and live even more.

For everyone: Who's On First

For some: Fight Club

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Young Me, Now Me

Ze Frank has a photo contest where you send in an old picture of you (and your family or friends) and then a current picture of y'all reenacting the original.

The results are often quite hilarious. Most of my favorites involve people doing things that are cute when a toddler does it, but creepy when an adult does it.

Pay especial note to facial expression, hand gestures, and overall body position. The best ones are very faithful reproductions. I give fewer points to the ones that kind of match, but not really. (Although when there's 8 people in the picture, it's got to be awesome for that family to have that history documented.)

It's inspiring: anyone can easily participate. I'm thinking of a few different baby pictures of me, and planning out how I can do it. My biggest concern is getting the wardrobe right - my cutest baby picture involves a very particular shirt.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

8-bit Jesus

From the maker of the 8-bit Dr. Horrible, behold 8-bit Jesus, an album of Christmas music that's simultaneously an album of video game music.

With songs like Ryu, the Red-Nosed Ninja, Super Jingle Bros. and Deck The Kremlin, it's got something for everyone from your 40 year old nerd to your 25 year old nerd.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nintendo game of Dr. Horrible

Well, it's just a video, but the Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Game is spectacularly awesome. An artist in Philly who specializes in 8-bit music made a spot-on spoof of what the 8-bit game of Dr. Horrible would be like.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Best break-in ever

Someone stole the stereo from our car last night.

It's kind of lame, and a bunch of work for us now. But on the up side: they didn't break any windows. They were courteous enough to only damage the parts of the car that hold the stereo in. Door's fine, steering column's fine.

And we still have our car.

They did dump the glove box out on the seat, and rummage through that. Too bad for them that our garage door opener doesn't work. It's been annoying me for weeks, and I'd been planning on trying to fix it today. Now I'm in less of a hurry.

Although a friend pointed out how awesome it would have been if we'd left the not working opener in the car. I think I would enjoy wiring up another opener to a super loud alarm bell. (We have 3 remote controls, and a receiver that ignores all of them.) Then if someone breaks into our car again, they'll let us know about it. We can come yell at them, and give a precise time on the police report, instead of "between 9 PM and 9 AM".

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Festival of Rube Goldberg machines

If you want to lose an hour of your life watching awesome things, you can go to a video gallery of Rube Goldberg machines.

I was familiar with half of them, but several others are new to me. And awesome.