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February 7 to 13, 2005
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New Tech
The recently launched Google Maps has changed the face of mapping services on the Internet overnight thanks to its excellent design. Note that it doesn't work (well) in Safari quite yet:
Here's a technical analysis:
Also, Google's image index now offers over 1 billion pictures:
Want to make something that can help others? Consult 43 Things first to see what people want to do:
There's a good idea here, which is why it's secretly primarily funded by Amazon:
Can't afford Dreamweaver? Nvu is actually a pretty good open-source cross-platform WYSIWYG Web designing tool:
Big news for software developers - an open source enterprise-class message queuing technology is being made. Implications for trading networks, P2P frameworks, and instant messaging technologies:
Today's Web designers should learn how to use the XMLHttpRequest object to build highly dynamic interfaces like Google Maps, Google Suggest, and Gmail:
They should also understand all the various ways in which Microsoft technology remains inoperable with the rest of the World-Wide Web:
Modern Life
An Ikea store opening in London turns into a riot, leaving 20 with heat exhaustion and five in the hospital:
Monkeys are willing to "pay" more to see pictures of alpha males and females, and to ignore subordinates:
This may help explain why the Economist has more frontal nudity than all other international news magazines combined:
Alongside the Super Bowl, the Discovery Channel ran the "Puppy Bowl", twelve hours of puppies playing on a football mat. It was a huge hit with viewers, who found it strangely addicting. You can buy the DVD:
More on the copyrighting of public space. Note that the city of Chicago is enforcing this:
Taking a photo in a public area? Carry a list of your rights as a photographer:
Podcasting is getting more media attention, along with front page space in USA Today. Here's a good overview of the state of podcasting right now:
Careful, identity thieves can masquerade as legitimate wireless hotspots:
Generation X now spends more on travel than baby boomers do:
Dubai is building the world's biggest waterfront development - it's 2.5 times the size of D.C.:
GPS technology is killing lighthouses. What will happen if GPS fails?
Terrorism and You
George Bush explains his plan to save Social Security:
A conservative pro-Bush anti-homosexual journalist who had "unfettered" access to the White House and CIA documents was revealed as working under an alias and having close ties to male gay prostitution rings:
What's your political label? Take the world's smallest political quiz:
Martin Mubanga's account of his 33-month stay at Guantanamo Bay:
Allan Schiffman offers a few quick numbers on federal debt, spending, etc.:
A quarter of the economy's growth is taken up by healthcare spending:
And half of Americans who went bankrupt in 2004 were mostly middle-class citizens who could not afford medical costs, despite having health insurance:
44% of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists feel findings were suppressed that would require greater protection of endangered species:
Genetically modified plants are proving to be an excellent way to clean up toxic soils:
Meanwhile, the average American remains clueless regarding GMOs - only half are aware they are sold, only a third realize they are eating them, and 70% don't think they're possible at all:
A pretty good study of the contents of the Red Bull energy drink, recently approved for sale in Canada:
A new study shows that melatonin may have broader effects in the brain than previously thought:
Another new study shows that peanuts are the nutritional equivalent of the "perfect fruit":
This man has converted 15 diesel Mercedes to run on biodiesel, with 15 to go:
If you want to do it yourself, use this:
And this commercial outfit converts forest and agricultural wastes into biodiesel:
Consumer Reports offers a report on condom effectiveness:
View all of the 2005 Super Bowl ads here, including the rejected and/or censored ones:
A new digital animation technique - making people dance in a robotic pop-lock style. Here's an amazing remix of Gene Kelly in "Singing In The Rain":
Here's the same effect, used in a recent music video:
This technique was in the Super Bowl ad for the m:robe, a new wannabe iPod mp3 player from Olympus:
Unfortunately, the m:robe is as useful as a "shiny brick":
Reality Is Subjective
Here's a great optical illusion. I checked it myself; square A is the exact same color as square B!
In related news, an interesting study on the power of graphical manipulation to persuade people:
The super-cool baby name wizard. How popular has a name been over time?
The same developer made this chess program where one can see the lines of strategy that the computer is considering:
More? Here's developer Martin Wattenberg's full portfolio:
The mushroom version of the Game of Life. Let's see more visualizations that take time into account:
This surreal 1980's Estonian TV commercial for minced chicken meat has been making the rounds:
Recording an album? Here's how to make an inexpensive yet powerful music studio out of your Mac mini:
Writing a screenplay? Here's why movies go bad, written by an industry insider - too many writers!
And here's more on that topic - the story molecule:
Designing product packaging? Here are professional competitive analyses in a number of categories:
A transcript of Gene Simmon's very funny interview with Terry Gross on NPR, which was replayed last week:
Here's the mp3, despite the fact that Simmons denied NPR permission to make the recording available:
Lawrence Lessig writes on why Wilco represents the future of music:
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