28 Feb

Absolutely No Machete Juggling – The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order

Now I’d like to modify this into what I’ve named Machete Order on the off chance that this catches on because I’m a vain asshole.

Next time you want to in­tro­duce someone to Star Wars for the first time, watch the films with them in this order: IV, V, II, III, VI

Notice some­thing? Yeah, Episode I is gone.

via Absolutely No Machete Juggling – The Star Wars Saga: Suggested Viewing Order. Really enjoying this idea, going to try it out I think this weekend, as I’m due for a Star Wars marathon. The arguments in favor are really strong, both in terms of the order and in throwing out *shudder* The Phantom Menace.

19 Jan

TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.

via TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea). Clay Shirky delivers a clear and cogent history and explanation of PIPA/SOPA, walking through both the intent and what the ramifications of the bill and how it changes the entire legal system under which websites operate. Shirky also makes the very real point that even if PIPA and SOPA are killed (as appears increasingly likely) a bill similar to them will be back.

02 Jan

kickingbear – Learn to X

Jalkut wrote this piece, Learn to Code. Read it, it’s well worth your time. Simmons linked to Jalkut’s piece adding this, “I’m reminded of Matt Mullenweg saying ‘Scripting is the new literacy.’ Matt’s right.”

I appreciate where they’re coming from. I can, from a certain perspective, agree with the argument. But, let’s not kid ourselves, literacy is the new literacy. The ability to read, comprehend, digest and come to rational conclusions — that’s what we need more of. We don’t, as a society, need more people who have the mechanical knowledge to turn RSS feeds into Twitter spam. We don’t need anything more posted to Facebook, we don’t need anything we photograph to appear on Instagram and Flickr. If “scripting” is the new literacy then we’ve failed. We’ve become Mario drowning on a Water Level.

Scripting isn’t the new literacy, it’s the new tinkering with the engine, the new re-wiring the house. The new DIY for the digital age. These sorts of skills are incredibly valuable, but they’re not now, and certainly won’t be in the future, anything close to being an art form that stirs our souls.

That’s what literature does — it communicates to humans by leveraging our understanding of words and our grasp of narrative. And, sometimes, it mixes them all up but we still get value from it. That’s not how writing code works. Writing code is a craft, we build upon the capabilities of the compiler, the libraries and the hardware. We don’t have the freedom to innovate, as an author would, unless we control the whole stack. And we don’t. We swim upon a shallow surface, we perform what amounts to an act of synchronized swimming. At times it’s beautiful, but we’re in a pool, and we can’t control how wide or deep it is.

If you’re reading this, it’s probably too late. I’ll say to you — don’t Learn To Code, just Learn. Whatever it is you’re good at, whatever it is that calls to you — do that. And do it again and again and again and again.

Learn to X.

via kickingbear – Learn to X. I really enjoy that line “Learn to X”. There’s a problem among programmers it’s the classic when you have a hammer everything looks like a nail. Programming/Coding is our hammer, perhaps a really advanced hammer but still just a hammer. I’m not going to predict that programming will never be a part of a basic grade school education, I will however be shocked if it ever occurs. There is a reason the tagline for this site isn’t something like “learning to be a better programmer ever day”, programming is a career choice but not the only thing I want to be skilled at.

18 Aug

Ars Technica – Wikipedia editors voting on plan to “shutter” violent and sexual images

Active Wikimedia editors in good standing are voting on a referendum measure that might put at least some of the media collective’s famous disagreements over images to rest. The referendum asks Wikimedians to decide whether to implement a system for readers to conceal pictures that they would prefer not to view, via preference settings.

The object of this measure is to further what Wikimedia participants call the "principle of least astonishment, or least surprise" for users. But under the referendum proposal, these potentially upsetting pictures would not be deleted. They would simply require further clicking to view, an option that a Wikimedia report calls "shuttering."

Some images, such as those depicting genitals, sexual practices, or mass death and disfigurement, "will inevitably still have the power to disturb some viewers, especially if they are children, or if they are happened upon unintentionally," the referendum page notes. "The point of the opt-in personal image hiding feature is to help alleviate that surprise and dismay, by making the images unavailable for viewing without a second command."

via Ars Technica – Wikipedia editors voting on plan to “shutter” violent and sexual images. Not a bad plan, it’s a reasonable balance between still providing a visual representation of whatever and making it easier for people who don’t want to be “shocked” at the sight of the image.

17 Jul

guardian.co.uk – Networks are not always revolutionary

My corollary to O’Reilly’s "piracy/obscurity" quote is "fame won’t make you a success on its own, but no artist ever got rich on obscurity". That is, being widely loved isn’t sufficient for attaining fortune, but it is necessary to it.

By the same token, a global network that allows loosely coordinated groups of people to discover each other and act in concert while exposing their cause to the whole planet (especially its richest, most privileged residents) is not enough to overthrow a dictator — but I’m sure I wouldn’t want to try to stage a revolution without such a network.

via guardian.co.uk – Networks are not always revolutionary. Fair point I think, having the network or having fame isn’t enough to guarantee success but it does help.

20 Feb

Al Jazeera English – North Korea’s cinema of dreams

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s love of film is well-documented, but few outsiders know that he is revered as a genius of cinema by his own people.

Now, this groundbreaking film opens a window inside the world’s most secretive country and an elite academy, where young actors are hand-picked to serve a massive propaganda machine.

Filmmakers Lynn Lee and James Leong spent more than two years on this project, becoming the first foreigners to film inside Pyongyang’s University of Cinematic and Dramatic Arts.

via Al Jazeera English – North Korea’s cinema of dreams. This was an incredibly interesting 25 minutes.

13 Feb

Miller-McCune – Book Banners Finding Power in Numbers

"The fact people say AP high school students shouldn’t be reading Beloved, or Bookseller of Kabul, what I fear this indicates is that these are people who believe no one should be reading these books," Bertin says. “In their view, these books are the product of a corrupt and immoral society, and they don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

There is, of course, a fine line being danced around here. What’s appropriate for one student might not be for another of the same age. Librarians, teachers and parents can help make these determinations, but, Caldwell-Stone says, "it shouldn’t be one parent deciding what’s appropriate for every 12-year-old. This is a pluralistic society, not everyone shares the same values, and publicly funded schools and libraries have to serve the public."

via Miller-McCune – Book Banners Finding Power in Numbers. Banning a book or in reality knowledge has to be one of the worst decisions any person could make.

12 Dec

Vitsoe – Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design

Back in the early 1980s, Dieter Rams was becoming increasingly concerned by the state of the world around him – “an impenetrable confusion of forms, colours and noises.” Aware that he was a significant contributor to that world, he asked himself an important question: is my design good design?

As good design cannot be measured in a finite way he set about expressing the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)

via Vitsoe – Dieter Rams: ten principles for good design. His ten principles for good industrial design plus ten drop dead gorgeous products to go along with each principle, what more could you want? These products are as much art as they are functional.

23 Jul

APOD – The Crown of the Sun

During a total solar eclipse, the Sun’s extensive outer atmosphere, or corona, is an inspirational sight. Subtle shades and shimmering features that engage the eye span a brightness range of over 10,000 to 1, making them notoriously difficult to capture in a single photograph. But this composite of 7 consecutive digital images over a range of exposure times comes close to revealing the crown of the Sun in all its glory. The telescopic views were recorded from the Isla de Pascua Easter Island during July 11’s total solar eclipse and also show solar prominences extending just beyond the edge of the eclipsed sun. Remarkably, features on the dim, near side of the New Moon can also be made out, illuminated by sunlight reflected from a Full Earth.

via APOD – The Crown of the Sun. What you wind up with is a remarkably beautiful image.

23 Mar

Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts – BBC News

The food portions depicted in paintings of the Last Supper have grown larger – in line with our own super-sizing of meals, say obesity experts.

The Cornell University team studied 52 of the most famous paintings of the Biblical scene over the millennium and scrutinised the size of the feast.

They found the main courses, bread and plates put before Jesus and his disciples have progressively grown by up to two-thirds.

via BBC News – Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts. Not really surprising but interesting.