this could be cool

I haven’t looked in too much detail yet but text mining seems really interesting for stuff I do too. (matlab toolbox here)

six words...

This thread is useless without pics.
“First post. First joke. And in six words you sum up every stereotype of the Geek.”


an excellent morning ride

It got really fucking hot by the end of it, but Daniel and I did about 36 mi up and around Evanston today: on gmap-ped.

critical mass friday!



net neutrality

I’ve forever rolled my eyes at the dismal state of wireless in the US compared to everywhere else. Certainly some degree of standards setting and huge government involvement and investment are why Scandinavia and Japan are so far ahead of us; this article addresses the other problem of proprietary network control.

Why are cell phone payment systems and email systems nearly nonexistent? Why haven't charities raised money or awareness of their causes through this system?

It's simple. Because the cell phone carriers control what services are allowed to use their networks. There is no net neutrality on the cell phone network.

a follow-up

to my post marvelling at the Head On commercial, deconstructed on slate by seth stevenson.
As for this ad campaign, it is utter genius. With this one 10-second spot, the makers of HeadOn have torn down all the pretenses that have gummed up the advertising industry for years. Production values? Persuasion? Emotion? Humor (of the intentional kind)? These are stalwarts of the old, outmoded advertising paradigm. The new, head-on (or HeadOn) approach holds that advertising is about blunt force.

Mac Spoof: Performance

It is curious that the black Macbook has always had better specs than its white counterpart. Did its bigger hard drive start out as a cock size joke?
Sambanis in NYT on civil war in Iraq (probably req a “borrowed” TimesSelect®™ password):
Civil wars are defined as armed conflicts between the government of a sovereign state and domestic political groups mounting effective resistance in relatively continuous fighting that causes high numbers of deaths. This broad definition does not always distinguish civil wars from other forms of political violence, so we often use somewhat arbitrary criteria, like different thresholds of annual deaths, to sort out cases. Depending on the criteria used, there have been about 100 to 150 civil wars since 1945. Iraq is clearly one of them.

hungarian food, yum!

stuffed peppers cookingJune Meyer’s recipe is straightforward, authentic, and delicious. I made these with grass-fed beef from Dan West in St Louis. The preparation allows nothing to stand in the way of the full, rich flavor of top-quality meat.



Ah, how I miss the days when I could jHymn all my puchases from iTMS. Now I have to worry about whether I've authorized a computer or device. Dumb! And what if I have a hardware failure? Fuck you, DRM.

what an idiot

This sounds like a great idea until you try to deconstruct the sheet. You need a road map. One element cascades from here, another from there. One wrong change and all hell breaks loose. If your Internet connection happens to lose a bit of CSS data, you get a mess on your screen.

Sigh, Dvorak the dumbass strikes again. No, fool, “cascading” is a perfectly well established concept – inheritance – given a different name in the web context. I have no problem at all borrowing from standard stylesheets and overwriting attributes, especially when the firefox web developer plugin can show me all the style blocks applied to any given element and where they came from, no matter how many stylesheets have been called.


claims to be a graphical svn tool for osx. *shrug*

Best developer tools for OS X

from maclife


I’d feel prepared...

For the last two and a half years, the Marine Corps has been equipping troops with a sort of abbreviated Emily Post-style guide to etiquette in Iraq. The laminated “Iraq Culture Smart Card” consists of 16 panels and can fold down into something you can slip into your breast pocket. "It seems late in the day for such niceties," observed Steven Aftergood in Secrecy News, a Web log maintained by the Federation of American Scientists, which posted the Smart Card online.

I know which side I'm on

Avast, Me Critics! Ye Kill the Fun: Critics and the Masses Disagree About Film Choices

Scott and I recently saw Pirates and I was most taken aback by the quality of the trailers we had to endure. Normally, at least one or two of the trailers before the movies I tend to watch. Of the 6 or 7 meant to appeal to a mainstream audience (including, I think, My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Accepted) very few failed to elicit from me a, “how did that shit get made, and why?”


the Times catches up

and finally notices that Bravo is the gayest network out there. Which makes us wonder why all these stupid pay cable channels exist to serve the gays (outtv, here, logo).



dogcow!Very good Ars article on the mac pro desktop line.
As we draw ever closer to the Worldwide Developers Conference, speculation is heating up as to what we'll see hardware-wise once Steve Jobs has finished unveiling the wonders of Leopard. Reading the entrails of the sacrificial dogcow is a bit easier these days, now that Apple uses Intel CPUs and Intel lays out its processor roadmap months—if not years—in advance.


blind colors

living room, bedroom.


dealing with dumb formats

10:39:35 AM Ryan Black: i have 1900 files
10:39:43 AM Ryan Black: i want a frequency count of "QUESTION" in each of them
10:39:46 AM Ryan Black: saved into something nice
10:39:55 AM Ryan Black: 1900 Word files, that is.

Word doc files are awful. It could probably be vbscripted, but having Word actually open and handle 1900 files doesn't sound like the best idea. Any sane person's inclincation would be to have a shellscript do it. In addition, he wants some trailing text (a job for grep). The key is catdoc, which is exactly what it sounds like – it cats a word doc! Its brother xls2csv is also a throughly good idea.


Scott is silly.

But he is a little bit funny. He decided that my methods professor, Andrew Martin, should star in “Revenge of R” (We should start a movement insisting that R be officially pronounced ARRRRRR, pirate-like, just as some assholes insist that LaTeX be pronounced with a gutteral Chi sound at the end and written in the asinine way shown here or worse, with irregular sizes and baselines).

RSPerl saves the day!

Yes, this is a Perl module. But it is also an
package. This is because it is a bi-directional interface, it allows
to call Perl and that very Perl code to call back to
It allows us to pass
functions to Perl and use them as callable objects. (Passing Perl subroutines or methods to
is a little less elegant, but doable.)

doesn't handle yuckily or irregularly formed stuff as well as perl, but I’m less adept at manipulating matrices (one of the strengths of
) in perl (grabbing some rows, hacking off columns, smacking the rest of the columns onto the end of a working dataset).

australia vote data

consider the following data format, then shoot yourself:

blocks of rows 1…33 × cols 1…12.

Rows are candidates i, columns votecounts v.

Some number g of groups of rows are required per group of counts c. For each c=1…c, rows repeat g times.

Some rows contain summary information; linefeeds between groups b and g vary. Actual candidates are identifiable by having lastnames in caps. The length of c may be determined by an item indicating the total number of counts required. No indication of g is given except the recurrence of a same-named candidate.

The naming scheme of the files containing these is the same for 93,96,98, changes in 2001, and again in 2004. The file formats appear to be the same but once my parser works on a few, I'm sure it will choke a few dozen times. Here is an example file from 1993.

The goal is to parse this into a i×v+x matrix, where x is the stuff we’re actually interested in: who won, in what order, on what count, what party; party magnitude; thresholds/quotas – and eventually the nature of women’s representation in Single Transferable Vote systems. Australia is the largest of these, but Ireland, Malta, and Fiji also use STV in at least one house. The worst file is 2004 New South Wales.

superpomo design


Design I like tends to be late modern (more than high / midcentury modern), occasionally with a twist of tongue-in-cheek postmodernism. It is easy to take it over the top. I'll work on a picture of this bundle of incandescent bulbs hanging in Lightology (not in the online store.) but this table annoys me in the same way I suppose the smugness of Ani Difranco does, or we mac users might to hapless windows users.


half lust / half shopping list

We need several things – a dining table and chairs, bar stools, rugs – and would very much like other things. This list below is both but the stuff above we have to get something functional pretty much right away, though we can’t afford for quite a while the stuff that is more to our liking.
  • dining tableWe’re pretty much dead set on this dining table from cb2.
  • chair?colorhrmchairs? tricky. and we be po’.
  • rug1rug2rug3 rug4Rug thoughts, anyone?
  • from ikeafrom ikeaCoffee table
  • duoSexy couch.
  • deskdesk2desk3A desk for the Scott.


ooo hot

Adium 1.0 is in public beta. Adium 1.0β is mad unstable.

how will you ever please your husband?

aloo gobi!if you cannot make aloo gobi? (also consult here and here)
I've long liked the online digsmagazine, which calls itself “a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation” (hey! that's us! a goodly portion of the readers are grad student, surprise!). On buying a home and also decorating with what (little) you’ve got:
When you're surrounded by a mish-mash of hand-me-down freebies that are there more for basic function than because you actually gave any thought to whether you liked them, it's hard to imagine how that bland white box of mismatched furnishings is ever going to look a real home. First things first, once you've made the commitment to start decorating that is: take a good, hard look at what you've already got.

well, he's right but not...

Seth Stevenson reviews the brilliant mac ad campaign. He concludes,
But these days, aren't nerds like John Hodgman the new cool kids? And isn't smug superiority (no matter how affable and casually dressed) a bit off-putting as a brand strategy?
No, it is not. It is what the mac brand strategy is all about. Moreover, it's what any “brand strategy” is about: making people buy something because they will be part of the club of owners of thing τ. Clothes, cars, computers, that's what advertising is for. The strategy is honest about what you will undoubtedly become as a mac user: annoyed if you ever do have to use a windows machine, superior to your windowsy friends (“erm, I'm not sure how you'd make a pdf out of that. On a mac you just save it as one.” )

world cup and game theory

Always nice to see a bit of game theory make it a little closer to something people actually read:
Game theory, applied to the problem of penalties, says that if the striker and the keeper are behaving optimally, neither will have a predictable strategy. The striker might favor his stronger side, of course, but that does not mean that there will be a pattern to the bias.The striker might shoot to the right two times out of three, but we cannot then conclude that it will have to be to the left next time.


it ought to work for a subset of the population...

Girthy wieners.
The spot: An obese man is tending a barbecue grill. He's cooking some Ball Park Franks. He says he likes his hot dogs "girthy." He keeps repeating that word—claiming he likes "the way it rolls off my tongue"—as he holds the frank up to his mouth; issues a guttural moan; and wraps his lips around the big, swinging dog. In all, he says "girthy" a full seven times.


Scottsdale, AZ — just a few miles from Surprise! where Scott’s parents live — is quite the happening place. First, there was the Super Sweet 16 episode where the ho dyed the poodles pink. Then, there was Ed Helms's hard-hitting investigative piece on the Pink Taco controversy. Now it’s in the Chicago Tribune:

Because image is not something taken lightly here, the cringe factor was high when MTV's “My Super Sweet 16,” featured a Scottsdale teenager.

The episode, which aired in April, showed Marc and K.K. Dubowy spending more than $50,000 on daughter Marissa Leigh's birthday party.

Marissa's party had bouncers and a $3,200 cake. She got two cars for presents (one being a "weekend" car), had three outfit changes throughout the event (one was a $5,000 dress) and had her pet poodles dyed pink to match the party's theme color. Marissa and her friends were so universally detested by viewers that a new Scottsdale moniker stuck: "Snottsdale."



coverflowCoverflow, from what I thought just a so-so list overall, of "most beautiful mac apps"