Archive for Web Miscellany

Sesame Street videos

Reddit recently had a run of Sesame Street videos that brought me a lot of joy. The first one is “Fat Cat Sat Hat”, I think the poster on Reddit titled it “Hipsters discovered in New York City”:
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Another great video presents the stories of Capital I and Lower Case N. The first story is a simple one: some little guys live in a large capital I, and of course you’ve got to keep it clean. The second story takes a handful of cinema’s great topics; love, aliens, the alphabet, and singing on mountaintops; and smashes them together. What comes out is unexpected and somehow perfect. One should never underestimate the power of a good tune. The Children’s Television Workshop could make a sharp stick to they eye into good times.
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Links to additional videos of interest are offered up in the discussion on Reddit. They include

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This is mega cool: The Periodic Table of Visualization Methods (found via BoingBoing). It shows many different ways of visualizing data from Tukey box plots to Infomurals. The very nice examples pop up as you roll over the table. Oh, beautiful informational graphics, why do I love you so? If you love graphics in all their glorious permuations as much as I do, you need to run to your nearest book lending/selling establishment and check out Eduard Tufte’s work. I thought I owned two of his three most significant books, but I recently discovered that he has produced a fourth one, and now I’m really behind!

Log Animals page from Tufte book

By the way, on his web site Tufte lays some minor smack down on the iPhone for, of all things, the way it displays the time (scroll nearly to the bottom). The man doesn’t compromise when it comes to comas versus colons and I like that.

Speaking of Tufte, he was mentioned in passing in a course I’m taking this semester, Networks: Theory and Application. It’s not too surprising that his work came up considering how integral issues of visualization are to the study of networks. The course looks like it will be a lot of fun. It may not have much direct relevance to my research, but I’m excited about the material and the field seems to be a really popular one these days. The topic of networks is so hot it’s right up in everyone’s face(book) these days. The professor for my class even won a vote for Wired Sexy Geek of 2006, and I think the geek vote is just as much about the sexiness of the work as a pretty face. This brings me to the last juicy link of the day, for our first assignment in the Networks course we had to peruse VisualComplexity, which is a jolly good time. Check it out!


Will It Blend

Will It Blend - rake handleThe New York Times is talking about brands producing their own shows. The shows they write about are large budget productions mostly aired on cable TV. On a much small scale, I noticed some brilliant marketing happening on YouTube yesterday. Blendtec blenders has been producing little shows titled “Will It Blend?” (they also have a web site). Each show is simple, a guy in a lab coat shoves some odd items into one of their Blendtec blenders and you get to see what happens. Blended items include credit cards, golf balls, marbles, and a rake handle. It’s a brilliant idea. Each show is quick, exciting, and quirky. The dorky lab-coated guy and the 20 year old theme really solidifies it’s kitschiness. People actually seek out and enjoy this advertising (at the moment, the golf ball episode is featured on the YouTube front page with almost 1 million views and a 4 1/2 out of 5 star rating).


Carlton and Folgers Ads

Sunshine man peers down at sleeping man.There are two very cool commericals mentioned on JJ Sutherland’s ‘Mix Signals’ NPR blog. The first is a quirky, self-conscious implementation of a cool, over-the-top beer ad concept. I like the little touches like the men piling over the wire fence and the lone horse rider; they are dramatic and yet pointless much like the whole commercial. The second ad is a Folgers commercial that is the stuff of my worst nightmares. Can they show this stuff on TV? If you know me and my relationship to mornings then you will understand.

Speaking of video “entertainment” on the web, consider putting the Earth in a sandwich.

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World Cup Sized Bavarian Triangle Hat (full of chocolate?)

Giant Bavarian triangle shaped hat on a happy man.Check out this hat. Those Bavarian’s don’t mess around. (I assume it is Bavarian from the caption, though it’s content does not instill confidence in its relevance to the photo, that guy is clearly not Koehler, Pelé, or Schiffer.)

BTW, are you watching the World Cup? The rest of the world is, get with the program!


Could Fox News Find Iraq on a Map?

Mt. Merapi in Indonesia
Merapi in “Idaho”

Does asking Jim down in marketing constitute “fact checking” at Fox News? How else does one come to describe Mt. St. Helens as being in Oregon? (St. Helens, though closer to Oregon than say British Columbia or Peru, is still unquestionably and entirely contained in Washington State.) First you learn how to report the location of a volcano, and then, if all goes well, maybe we’ll through you in as an alternate on the local school board beat. I know you are full of enthusiasm Fox News, but first you have to prove yourself: baby steps, baby steps.Speaking of “fair and balanced”, this is why the only prudent response to political ads on TV is one finger in each ear and a humming noise just shy of skull-cracking resonance.

Hey, Fox News, one last question for you: from which direction would you invade Iran?


“Never Mix Alkali Metals with Water”

Speaking of elements…  Brainiac: Alkali Metals


Europium in the

100 Euro banknoteIn the previous entry I mentioned the rare element Europium. I still an not sure how expensive Europium is and whether it, or some other special element, is a factor in the high cost of full spectrum florescent bulbs, but I did run across an interesting side note. The element may be an important ingrediant in the design of the Euro notes. Though a topic such as this is obviously a senstive one, this article describes what it can.

By the way, while I was looking for this image of a Euro banknote I noticed that the official European Union website is in the .INT top-level domain, something I hadn’t noticed before. I think it is quite cool, and it is in a very exclusive club. I wish my existance was governed by an international treaty so I could join the club. (There is some slight hope for the rest of us: somehow those sneaky bastards at the YMCA got a domain in .INT, and they certainly weren’t created by an international treaty.)


The Wonder of Matches

Burning homemade matchI found this article about making matches fascinating. The wonder is not the fact that you can make them yourself (it is quite easy, it seems, if you can pick up some red phosphorus and potassium chlorate), but the discussion about the volatility of the mixture in the last half of the article. It has really never struck me how lucky we are to have matches, not because they work but because they only work when needed. Since just a little friction causes them to explode in flames it might rightfully be argued that it is more a miracle that modern matches don’t light themselves on their own, even very occasionally. Early matches and their factories were actually quite dangerous.

By the way, I found lots of other fascinating things on the periodic table table site, which is fun to browse if you are an element nerd.
Speaking of elements, diving further into my web browsing journey I discovered that an important element in compact fluorescent bulbs is Europium. (That link is from this periodic table display which looks like a lot of fun.)  My guess is that this is one reason they are relatively expensive.


They Are Made of Meat!

A great adaptation of a short story by Terry Bisson, one I vividly remember reading as a child.

Discover the meat

(via BoingBoing)


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