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2011 (Fathom this!)


  • Duck Sauce's Big Bad Wolf music video. Strange and hilarious.
  • Dropbox: The Inside Story Of Tech's Hottest Startup. Forbes' November cover story on Dropbox kicks off with a Steve Jobs story: "Jobs had been tracking a young software developer named Drew Houston, who blasted his way onto Apple’s radar screen when he reverse-engineered Apple’s file system so that his startup’s logo, an unfolding box, appeared elegantly tucked inside. Not even an Apple SWAT team had been able to do that."

  • Rolling in the beats. 24 videos mashed up live(?!).
  • The Deleted City. Geocities as an digital archaeology site.
  • The Lazarus File. The circuitous tale of how a LA murder case from 1986 was finally solved 23 years later, and how little time DNA evidence has been around.

  • Touching Myself. A, um, provocative testicular cancer awareness ad.
  • Faces. Real-time face meshing from photos. Creepy!

Means to achieve fixed positioning in mobile Safari

While iOS5 natively supports position: fixed, Cubiq’s Matteo Spinelli explains what’s wrong with it.


Smoother @font-face embedding in IE7 & 8

Smoother @font-face embedding in IE7 & 8.


On reg exps

“Some people, when confronted with a problem, think: ‘I know, I’ll use regular expressions.’ Now they have two problems.”— Jamie Zawinski

As attributed by Jeffrey Friedl.

  • Rocky Agrawal has a fascinating (and devastating) four-part write-up on the problems with Groupon (and its competitors).

  • Perspective Lyrique. An interactive architectural mapping projected on the facade of former Lyrical theater, controlled by the audience, using a microphone and an audio analysis algorythm.
  • Brand Reversions. A clever project, executed nicely.

  • The diving bell and the spider. "The diving bell spider is the only member of its group to spend its entire life underwater. But it still needs to breathe air, and it does so by building its own diving bell."

Mobile HTML/JS frameworks in the wild

Broadly speaking, mobile frameworks can be divided into two categories: those that focus on Javascript utilities, and those that also provide cross-platform interface elements.

Frameworks differ vastly in scope: Sencha Touch is huge (over 300 KB), but it also provides the most robust development platform across devices and operating systems.

One big difference to note is that unlike most other frameworks, Sencha Touch is written entirely in Javascript (rather than building on HTML markup).

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Zepto, aiming to be under 5 KB in size, and MicroJS, which allows you to pick and choose small components as you need them.

jQTouch is an interesting beast, but it’s definitely more keyed to creating specific kinds of interfaces for mobile Web apps.

I think jQuery Mobile is somewhat poorly named; it really should be “jQuery UI Mobile”.

Two that seem to fall somewhere between jQTouch and Sencha Touch is appML (heavy) and Jo (very light).

One important thing is to remember that smartphones aren’t limited to the iOS and Android platforms; there’s also webOS, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7 and Symbian out there, to name the ones off the top of my mind. This is the whole reason interface-oriented frameworks exist.

Finally, you should always keep in mind that perhaps you don’t need a framework at all.


Why Nokia struggles to innovate

Nokia’s former head of design Adam Greenfield touches on its troubles innovating.

Nokia’s problem is not, and has never been, that it lacks for creative, thoughtful, talented people, or the resources to turn their ideas into shipping product. It’s that the company is fundamentally, and has always been, organized to trade in commodities. […]

Nokia’s engineers were and are brilliant at this. I am so far from an expert on the topic it’s not even funny, but I’d feel comfortable wagering that there is still no organization on the planet more capable at designing the guts of a phone, the various antennae and radios-on-a-chip that allow a handset to communicate with a network. Nor are there many who can compete with Nokia on the ability to optimize a supply chain and bring in a given bill of materials at a given (and generally astonishingly low) cost.

Greenfield illustrates this with an example on NFC:

I was given an NFC phone, and told to tap it against the item I wanted from the vending machine. This is what happened next: the vending machine teeped, and the phone teeped, and six or seven seconds later a notification popped up on its screen. It was an incoming text message, which had been sent by the vending machine at the moment I tapped my phone against it. I had to respond “Y” to this text to complete the transaction. […]

It’s not that the NFC-based, phone-to-object interaction didn’t work. Of course it did: it had been engineered perfectly. But what it hadn’t been was designed. Those responsible for imagining the interaction apparently wanted to protect users against the (edge case!) contingency of someone making off with their phones and running up a huge vending-machine tab. They failed to understand that, for low-value transactions like this, at least, the touch gesture is a useful proxy for consent — and that if someone’s got physical possession of my phone, I’m likely to have bigger problems than whether or not they order a few cans of Coke with it.


English as spoken by Finns

As exemplified by former prime ministers Paasikivi (1952), Jäätteenmäki (2003), and Vanhanen (circa 2006). And of course Mika Häkkinen is a classic on this front, not only for his accent but also for his demeanor.


  • Swear list. Useful for swear lists or creatively challenged profaners.

Youtube’s upcoming location-targeted gigs

Last week I noticed an interesting feature in Youtube.

Just above the link to purchase the video’s soundtrack song was a link to an upcoming gig by the song’s artist, Sublime.

Imagine my surprise to see that Sublime was playing at the Barbican Centre — I thought they’d split up years ago.

Clicking through, it turns out the match wasn’t entirely correct (the gig’s for Sublime Frequencies Djs), but it’s still very interesting to see Youtube pulling in location-targeted gig data automatically from Songkick.


  • The Oxford don with tiny answers. "Philosopher James Wilk claims he can transform any workplace with his 'minimalist interventions'. Big firms pay him handsomely. But is he for real?"

  • Ants That Count! NPR's animation on the discovery that ants have built-in pedometers.

  • Patricia Kuhl’s TED talk, the linguistic genius of babies. Interesting takeaway: infants have a sweet spot at six to eights months old in which they’re primed to the sounds of their mother tongue. This also works with foreign languages, but only when spoken by a person who’s present, not when exposed via audio or video.

Dare among top 100 most innovative companies

Dare is #86 on Fast Company’s 100 most innovative companies list of 2011! (You’ll have to take my word for it, though, as only the top 50 are available online.)


  • Mike Litman. Social media impresario, all around nice guy.
  • Jon Haywood. Former planning maestro of Dare London, now at Dare Vancouver.

  • Amnesia Connect. Connecting Microsoft Surface to smartphones and tablets.
  • The Antikythera Mechanism in Lego. A 2000-year-old analog computer rebuilt out of Legos. It predicts the year, date, and time of future solar and lunar eclipses accurately to within two hours.

  • threnody n.
    • A poem or song of mourning or lamentation
  • Line, a very nice concept phone. Just wondering how the side-slide controls will if you actually have to hold the phone.

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