Friday, November 19, 2010

CBS: watch us, ad block no one

Sometimes when I watch Hawaii Five-O by streaming it from the CBS website, I lose the show in the middle of the program. It usually happens between two commercials. I get this message:
The video you have requested is either unavailable or is being blocked by an ad blocker installed in your browser.
I went through my ad-blocker on two separate occasions to prevent it from blocking ads from the CBS domain. Apparently, it's not enough to allow ads from CBS; I have to accept ads from everyone. If I have to choose, I'll hold on to a tool that blocks the annoying, flashing, talking ads. Hawaii Five-O isn't that good. I'm not sure what would be.

I'm not the only hater.

Bing map wins (in Grand Rapids)

Maps from Google (left) and Bing.

I'm in the habit of using everything google, but that will pass with maps like this.

The difference in proportion, indicated by the less elongated blocks in the Google map, is also surprising.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moving with dogs: the preview

I urge you to read this phenomenally funny story about moving with (neurotic) dogs by Allie at hyperboleandahalf. I expect I'll be torturing my own dog in a similar manner soon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pretty Hike

I had a nice hike this morning.

Contest to create visualization of firefox usage

Mozilla labs is sponsoring a contest to visualize browser usage data. They're releasing the source data November 17. Here's a lovely example (click to see full-size):

Ready to share

Johanna Blakley gave a great Ted talk fashion and copyright protection. She would argue that the freedom to copy in fashion creates an environment in which this spork dress (above; screengrab from her presentation) is created (and that's a good thing). I didn't realize how limited intellectual property law is in fashion. Here is her "good enough" picture of the logic of copyright in the US.

Read to share conference info.

Genius iPad stand

Monday, November 08, 2010

Dashing nerd and others say a large part of science is wrong

A genetics professor of mine used to tell his class, "Half of what I'm telling you is wrong, I just don't know which half."

I've heard variations on this sentiment frequently and fully believe them. I think there are many reasons that good research can be wrong, never mind the bad research.

John Ioannidis studies the phenomenon of inaccurate scientific conclusions. He is profiled this month in a readable article in the Atlantic (in which he is called a "dashing nerd"). Here are some excerpts from a scholarly article by John Ioannidis about identifying which science is most likely to be wrong.

The following characteristics predict that the research findings are less likely to be true:

  • Smaller studies
  • Smaller effect sizes
  • For a given set of data, more tests and fewer positive outcomes
  • Greater flexibility in designs, definitions, outcomes, and analytical modes in a scientific field
  • Greater financial and other interests and prejudices
  • Hotter scientific fields (with more scientific teams involved)
The article also uses the terrific term "data dredging" to talk about the phenomenon of trying elicit results that were not identified by the initial study design or analysis. Wikipedia calls it "the inappropriate (sometimes deliberately so) use of data mining to uncover misleading relationships in data."

via Derek Lowe

Visual Candy: Chart of Taxonomy of Rap Names

I love the choice of main groups: Wordplay, Physical and Metaphysical Characteristics, Crime, Titles/Honorifics, Alphanumeric, and Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. The subcategories are delightful too: audacious misspellings, similarity to cartoon character. In order to make it legible though, some connections have to be left out. For instance Brand Nubian gets to be connected to the Black and Fresh taxa, but not to Wordplay.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Dog bites and the lunar cycle

If you believe the scientific literature, you'd think that people receive more dogs bites during the full moon if they are in England, but not if they are in Australia. Absent other data, I'd say the best title wins: "Barking mad? Another lunatic hypothesis bites the dust."

3D <-> 2D sewing pattern conversion software

This software can take a pattern in two dimensions and virtually sew the pieces together and show you the result. I'd like to use it with bags, but right now it's clothing oriented, and the three dimensional finished piece is displayed on a custom model. Regions of strain are highlighted. You can also generate a two dimensional pattern from a three dimensional item. Here's an older article about this kind of software, and here's an even older one. Oh, and the price tag? Upwards of $10K. Anyone want to bet when it will come below $200?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Insect visitor


Furniture for my future life

I've been thinking a lot about where I will live next. The chances are extremely high that I will have less room than I do now. Here's a nicely designed piece of space-saving furniture

Ms. Dr. / DRF

Shortly after I officially became Dr. Manduca, I whimsically used "Dr" as my title for an airplane reservation. I was immediately delighted by an unforeseen aspect of the choice: unlike men choices, a woman's choice of title connotes particular politics and identity (coarsely: Miss is conventional, Mrs is conventional and largely limited to heterosexuals, and Ms is feminist). I enjoy the freedoms of Dr, in spite of the implied self-importance. I've used it intermittently since.

Today I read something that dismayed me: Dr. Isis, the author of the wonderful blog "On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess" noticed that her travel itinerary referred to her as "DRF. ISIS," which a contact explained is how that particular airline refers to female doctors. If that practice spreads, it will slightly diminish the joy I find in choosing Dr. Not only does choosing Dr free me from the sticky Mrs/Ms/Miss, but I can pretend I don't even have any opinions about Mrs/Ms/Miss. DRF highlights the fact that there are Titles, and Titles for Women To Choose From. I'll choose from the whole list, thank you very much.

Your humble servant,
Magnificent Rector Manduca