21 Treats from far across the wide web world

sat28oct2006—43w301d82%— 07h43m00s—0utc

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Lo! I am weary of my wisdom,
like the bee that hath gathered too much honey;
I need hands outstretched to take it.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra EEM

1. Brain Crack (the show with zefrank)

{background:lightsalmon}Video, {background:lightskyblue}Creativity, {background:lightgreen}Humor, {background:gold}Song
A short (2.35min) video outpouring by Ze Frank WP on creativity. One of his bests. Will haunt you forever afterwards, mark my words.

Transcription: I run out of ideas every day. Each day I live in mortal fear that I’ve used up the last idea that’ll ever come to me. If you don’t want to run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them. You can tell yourself that you don’t have the time or resources to do’em right. Then they stay around in your head like brain crack. No matter how bad things get at least you have those good ideas that you’ll get to later. Some people get addicted to that brain crack and the longer they wait the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals and everyone’s clapping, for them. But the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do’em, and no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you’re almost guaranteed the first time you do something it’ll blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person — who’s still dreaming of all the applause…

Where the fuck do ideas come from?

And speaking of creativity, Ze now accepts donations (“candy” he calls it) — and gives you homepage ducks for your bucks.

2. Creating Passionate Users (Kathy Sierra et al)

{background:plum}Marketing, {background:lightpink}Webcraft, {background:palevioletred}Passion, {background:orange}Words, {background:lightskyblue}Creativity

Likely the best blog I’ll find in 2006. You could say it’s about the nontechnical aspects of creating better software but that doesn’t come close to the breadth of topics Kathy’s spunky musings touch upon. Nor does nontechnical means inconsequential or trite here.

Her right favorites sidebar is a good place to start and here’s another star list: Users shouldn’t think about YOU (“Most of the time students don’t CARE how smart you are. They come in assuming that you’re supposed to be here, so stop trying to prove how smart you are and get on with helping them get smarter.”), Learning isn’t a push model, Ease-of-use should not mean neuter-the-software (thinking of product features as superpowers is pure genius), Kicking ass is more fun (“It’s just more fun when you’re faster.”), Remarkable at every level, Fine-grained treats = user happiness (“One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.”), You can out-spend or out-teach (“…moments of flow you can help enable are some of the happiest moments in a person’s life. And yes, this applies not just to hobbies and games and sports but even to work.”), How to be an expert, The Koolaid Point (“Remember folks, we aren’t going for user satisfaction. We aren’t going for happy. We’re going for all-out passion. And that comes with a price tag. Detractors. Lots of them. And they talk.”), Better Beginnings: how to start a presentation, book, article… (“as one writer put it, «You can’t be in the room with the reader to say, ‘trust me…it gets better.’»”)

3. 5 Principles For Programming (Jay)

{background:hotpink}Geekery, {background:cornflowerblue}Programming, {background:lightpink}Webcraft, {background:orange}Words

Fail Fast, Write Less Code, Computer Programs Are For People, Do The Right Thing, Reduce State, Know your Shit.

Humble, piercing thoughts on programming.

If I could transmit only a single sentence to the programmers of tomorrow which summed up everything I knew it would be that: write short functions.

4. My Bed Banter and Beyond (Scrubs)

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J.D. and Elliot’s first time as a couple — perhaps the best Scrubs episode ever, astonishingly complex and original. Check TV.com for a summary and criticism. Meanwhile, here’s this totally unrepresentative 1min clip of the episode featuring Dr. Kelso, a dark man, at his very darkest.

Dr. Kelso: Enid has always understood how much my career meant to me. She knows I’m an important man in my field, and it helps her get on all those little boards of things her friends are on… you know, like, uh, bringing art to the underprivileged kids in the community, blah blah blah. When I first met her she wanted to be a psychiatrist, but, we both decided that that wasn’t a fitting profession for a family woman — no offense, sweetheart. I know she’s grateful. She likes to joke that I “choked the last breath of life out of her long ago, now she’s just a shell of a woman.” I think that’s so cute; I call her “Shelly”! You know, when I call her that, sometimes she laughs so hard she cries a little.

5. Black and White Chocolate (DPZ) (via Coloribus)

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6. What kind of Genius are You? (Daniel H. Pink)

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(fleft) Excellent long article on Wired explaining University of Chicago economist David Galenson’s theory of genius. The reporting is outstanding, the theory (that “creativity comes in 2 distinct types — quick and dramatic, or careful and quiet”) intriguing, and Galenson himself — “a classic library rat” — a most interesting man.

Perhaps what I liked most were the glimpses of how Galenson set about trying to test his hypothesis, like how he compiled a huge catalog of the auction prices of the work of 42 artists (a simplified graph of those results shown left), or how he tallied artists’ images in art textbooks (searching a way to quantify “the consensus among scholars about which works are important”). Very reminiscent of one young Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “political” experiments.

7. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. (Wikipedia)

{background:mediumturquoise}Formist, {background:orange}Words, {background:peachpuff}Language

That above is a meaningful, grammatically correct sentence my friend. A wonderful example of the ambiguities possible in language, its pedia is outstanding not only for carefully decoding the sentence’s meaning but for listing similar examples in other languages.

8. Title of the song (Da Vinci’s Notebook) (thanks Ozkar!)

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A title to the wise is enough: listen carefully to this wonderful song (here are the lyrics).

9. AIDS Ads

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AIDS obliges people to think of sex as having, possibly,
the direst consequences: suicide. Or murder.

Susan Sontag

Mine’s definition of treat is broad. On any account, incredible images.

10. How Many Startup Employees Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb? (Dharmesh Shah) (via Ben)

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How bittersweet are our own reflections… :))

11. Trip the light fantastic (World Wide Words)

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OK, I’m pandering to my obscure tastes here but I just love this fancy phrase for “dancing”. Read on to belong to the ever dwindling inner circle of people who actually know what it alludes to.

12. 500 people sex (Soft On Demand)

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At Pornotube, a clip of the video is one of the all time most watched videos. Here’s a different trailer. The world is one big, strange place.

13. Amdahl’s Law (Wikipedia)

{background:hotpink}Geekery, {background:purple; color:pink}Math

Amdahl’s law, named after computer architect Gene Amdahl, is used to find the maximum expected improvement to an overall system when only part of the system is improved.

What with calling it a law and its promises to do magic (some call it a “demonstration of the law of diminishing returns”), it surely looks intimidating, no? (Wired famously called it “awfully technical”) Read along and don’t falter if you see a couple of equations here and there, Amdahl’s law is an important piece of cake.

14. Bruce Schneier – Beyond Fear (ITConversations)

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If I had to choose a favorite ITConversation, this fascinating talk on security — the website’s most listened talk — would be my first candidate. Ranging through cryptography to post 9/11 national practices, both interviewer (Doug Kaye) and interviewee (Bruce Schneier) are interesting, thoughtful, and engaged — and that makes all the difference. Not one more jaded, PR-driven interview.

15. Google Code Search (Google)

{background:hotpink}Geekery, {background:cornflowerblue}Programming, {background:lightpink}Webcraft

Regexp search of public source code. Kottke muses on “turning [it] into a job posting board by inserting ‘Like our code? Come work for us!’ text ads in the comments of source code” and it’s not a bad idea at all.

16. EULAlyzer (via BoingBoing)

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I’ve long been fascinated by legal contracts, by how much they resemble programming code (or math theorems for that matter), and by how much one could facilitate their reading with some computer wizardry. A decent font size would of course be a good start, but even reasonably simple aids like syntax highlighting WP could prove revolutionary. Here’s a program that takes a compiler (or antivirus) -like approach: you feed the EULAlzyer an EULA WP (an End User License Agreement — those legalese monoliths one mindlessly agrees before installing anything) and it returns a list of potentially abusive parts, sorted by interest level. It’s still only moderately useful but already very intriguing. The name’s great too.

17. Last Thoughts (Steve Jurvetson) (via FlickrBlog)

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18. Scrybe (Thanks Josh!)

{background:lightpink}Webcraft, {background:hotpink}Geekery, {background:cornflowerblue}Program, {background:mediumspringgreen}Productivity

The first YouTube celebrity webapp (see lonelygirl15 WP): Scrybe is a super notebook/agenda of sorts that wants to revolutionize the much neglected aide-mémoire sector (long time my dream). This is the demo that started the craze (and that keeps fueling it — beta still not out). Some beautiful ideas here.

19. Collage Caricatures (Hanoch Piven) (via CameronMoll)

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Madonna’s eyes a bra (her boobs handcuffs), Steven Spielberg’s beard out of film, Homer’s eyes donuts, John Paul II’s pope hat an apple, Kim Jong Il’s eyes missiles, Macaulay Culkin’s mouth a plunger, Woody Allen’s nose a banana, Boris Yeltsin out of sausage, Bono’s eyes speakers, Barbara Streisand’s nose a mic… Pure Genius.

20. Fundable (via 31three)

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Peer-to-peer lending WP Zopa is a good example of the financial innovation going on on the web right now. Fundable is another one — an extremely simple solution for the common public good WP problem.

21. Bravia color ad (Jonathan Glazer)

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Paint Fireworks.

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