Tag Archives: interactive

Things 113: Next Thursday, Learning to Cheat, Bullet Time

Question
When someone says “next Thursday” on a Monday, which Thursday do they mean?

Tim Link
Playing a trading/smuggling game at the recent Sandpit event at the National Maritime Museum, I did something more evil than I knew I was capable of. That got me thinking about the ethics of lying, what games taught me about that, and exactly how rules-based games can enable people to learn about breaking rules. The post is illustrated with playing cards, since I had some to hand.

Link
Two advantages of eBooks are that book size hardly matters, and you can easily link from one page to any other page. Now think about what this means for the choose-your-own-adventure genre. Jon Ingold found you could take a totally different approach, and produced a playable murder mystery that would be as tall as a house were it printed physically.

Quote
A nice way to remember confirmation bias:

Tolstoy: “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”

Picture
Bullet time

Things 63: Avalanche, The Universe, Russian Ablum Covers

(Originally sent December 2009, maybe)

Video
This is what it looks like to cause an avalanche, get buried in it, struggle to breathe for four long minutes, and then get dug out. Now that’s what I call reality television.

Link
An awesome bit of flash to help you comprehend the scale of everything in the universe. I recommend zooming out by scrolling to the right, then slowly zooming in all the way to the left, in order to really comprehend the insane smallness of the Planck length:

Quote
From the transparently sourced Twitter account @ShitMyDadSays:

“It’s never the right time to have kids, but it’s always the right time for screwing. God’s not a dumbshit. He knows how it works.”

Puzzle Answer
Last week I asked how a day could last 48 hours. It’s not really much of a puzzle because if you can follow the reasoning in the initial statements it’s pretty clear what’s going on. I just thought it was interesting to meditate on!

Pictures
In a wonderful tribute to cultural differences (and similarities), here’s a great gallery of album covers from Soviet Russia.

Films
Everyone should go and see The Princess and the Frog. Here’s why.

Pixar worked incredibly hard to prove the viability of CG as a storytelling medium, and as a result had a string of huge successes. Meanwhile Disney made some pretty bad 2D animations from 2000-2004 and were making serious losses (failing even to create characters that made for good merchandise). Making a classic confirmation bias correlation/causation error, Disney execs concluded that the public preferred 3D to 2D (when in fact everyone just prefers good films to bad), and officially gave up on it in 2004.

John Lasseter, a driving force behind Pixar’s creative success, became ‘Chief Creative Officer’ for both Pixar and Disney animation when Disney purchased Pixar in 2006. He understood what was happening and reversed the decision. The first real fruit of that realisation is The Princess and the Frog, which has been out for a couple of weeks now.

I highly recommend everyone goes to see it. Not just because it’s a good film (and a superb showcase of the strength of the 2D medium), but as a vote for the very medium itself.

[I later expanded on this argument, with charts, over on Tower of the Octopus – T.M. 8/10/11]

Things 62: 360 video, one word websites, 48-hour day

(Originally sent November 2010, maybe)

Video
I found this pretty amazing – a video in which you can choose where to direct your gaze, a bit like Google Street View but in motion:

Links
I collected some nice single-question-answering websites last year, let me know if you know any others:

GoingToRain.com

DownForEveryoneOrJustme.com

HowToUseTwitterForMarketingAndPR.com

Quote
Frank Banks:

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way; if you don’t, you’ll find an excuse”

Puzzle
Imagine (or remember) standing somewhere in the UK at midday on January 1st .

12 hours ago the year 2010 had just begun in the UK. However, due to timezone differences, some places saw January 1st a further 12 hours ago – 24 hours ago from your current vantage point of midday in the UK.

Conversely, there’s still 12 more hours of January 1st to go. but due to timezone differences, some places won’t reach the end of the day for a further 12 hours – 24 hours from your current vantage point of midday in the UK.

Of course, this means January 1st is actually 48 hours long – or in other words, two days.

How can one day be two days long?

Things 49: Galaxy Rising, Tube Time Visualisation, Back Flip Variation

(Originally sent May 2009)

Video
Time lapse of the stars at night – be sure to watch to the end to see the Milky Way rising:

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Link
A simplistic but interesting data visualisation showing travel times from and to different parts of the tube network – this explains why everything in London seems to be about 30 minutes away:

Quote
In a self-consciously long and disappointingly poorly argued article titled “In Defence of Distraction“, the following quote made reading it all worthwhile:

“Priorities are like arms: If you have more than two of them, they’re probably make-believe” – Merlin Mann

Picture
An animated gif (2MB) showing a fantastic variation on a back flip.

Puzzle: Newspaper eyeball value
We often hear that newspapers are in terminal decline and it’s all the internet’s fault. But much of a newspaper’s revenue comes from advertising, and many have created their own ad-supported websites, and many of these websites reach very large numbers of people. So they are losing eyeballs looking at print and gaining eyeballs looking at a screen, both of which will also see adverts. Why isn’t this helping?

(Perhaps more than other puzzles I have set in the past, there are many possible answers. Don’t hedge your bets – if you have multiple solutions, put them in order of importance! I’ll summarise the results and stick my own oar in next week.)