Tag Archives: weather

Things September 2015: The Sea, Song Covers, Weather Reporting, Alphabear

Comic – The Deep Ones

A few thematically related thoughts have been freaking me out quietly but insistently for many years: the idea that, when in the sea, you are in the same body of water as sharks and giant squid; the imagined sensation of floating somewhere in the sea and sensing something vast swimming just beneath your feet; the idea that the sea has not been thoroughly explored and that monsters may truly lurk in deep trenches. This short comic, “The Deep Ones” by Julia Gfrörer explores these ideas quite poetically and insightfully.

Sample:

 

Music – Covers that that Trump Originals

Logistics note: reading through old editions of Things, about 50% of all YouTube videos I link to disappear after a couple of years. So I’m now including a link to a generic YouTube search that should work even if the one I chose has gone away.

While fully recognising that everything is subjective, especially music,  I hold that these covers are particularly notable.

Jose Gonzalez does “Hand On Your Heart”, sounds like he means it:
(In case of removed video, try this search)

 

In case you need reminding, here’s Kylie with the original:
(In case of removed video, try this search)

 

Similarly, Iron & Wine sings ‘Love Vigilantes’, a lovely and quite moving ballad about returning to family from war:
(In case of removed video, try this search)

 

That was New Order’s idea originally, but I’m just not as convinced by their version:
(In case of removed video, try this search)

 

Just in case it looks like I’m only into gentle acoustic covers, here’s something going the other way!

In Scott Pilgrim vs The World (a movie I will tell anyone that will listen is underrated right after I’ve tried to convince them to appreciate Speed Racer), Scott (Michael Cera) tries to impress Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) with a 30 second song he wrote about her:
(In case of removed video, try this search)

She tells him she can’t wait to hear it when it’s finished. That’s the joke.

The things is, this song is actually by Beck, which explains why it’s a surprisingly assured and satisfying chord progression – Beck contributed most of the original songs for the film. I like to imagine Beck saw this bit and thought “You know what, I will finish it” and came out with this:
(In case of removed video, try this search)

 

Weather-related newspaper headlines

(via Iain) I had wondered if there was a corollary to Betteridge’s law of headlines relating to the weather. I hadn’t noticed that the Daily Express was particularly fond of weather-related headlines, but quite brilliantly Scott Bryan compared a year of headlines against what actually transpired back in 2012. The post is no longer up but you can find it on the internet archive.

 

Libraries caught up with the future when I wasn’t looking

Back when people were getting excited about the advent of ebooks and digital audio books, I remember a lot of intense discussion about what this might mean for libraries.

Turns out that all the pieces came together, and you can now digitally borrow these things from your local library directly from your device, for free. (Perhaps more accurately, you’ve already paid for it with your taxes). I’ve been using the Overdrive app to do it and it’s really quite brilliant.

Two caveats. First, you very reasonably do have to join your local library in the first place to get an ID and PIN. Second, don’t be tempted to create an Overdrive account using Facebook, because if you later want to borrow an eBook and put it on a device that doesn’t run Overdrive, you’ll need to go through some icky business with ‘Adobe Digital Editions’ (because DRM), and that doesn’t work if you used Facebook.

On the topic of DRM, I’m still convinced it’s a terrible idea for digital purchases, but I think it’s pretty much essential to make this whole borrowing idea work, so I’m happy to accept it there.

 

Mobile games to try

Free-to-play mobile games are trying all sorts of strategies these days to find a business model that works (because straight paid on mobile sadly doesn’t). One model is to create a game that never really ends, is completely enjoyable without spending anything, and in which spending gains you a small advantage of some sort. These games don’t make a huge amount of money for the people that make them, and the flip side of that is that they can give you a lot of fun for very little money.

Alphabear is one such game. It’s a really lovely word-puzzle game with some nice strategy. There’s an ‘energy’ mechanic (you can only play a certain amount and need to wait for your ‘energy’ to come back), but you can buy ‘infinite honey’ which removes the energy thing entirely. So if you enjoy the game, you should definitely do that.

Breakneck is another, and takes the form of a twitchy high-speed sci-fi sort of endless runner, reminiscent of Wipeout. If your device is up to it, it’s a very polished experience at a ridiculously low price. (iOS only – sorry)

- Transmission ends

Things 116: Cloud Phase Time-Lapse, 3D Map, Better Tube Map

Video
Point a camera at the sky, create a time lapse video of the clouds. Do the same thing every day of the year. Play back all the videos simultaneously in a grid. Voilà: a kind of phase-diagram visualisation, with seconds representing minutes and space representing seasons. Brilliant.

More detail here. Via Data Pointed.

Link
This is apparently pretty old, and with Google Earth and Street View already taken for granted it’s difficult to appreciate how impressive this is: in-browser 3D maps of major cities by Nokia. A plugin is required, and the sad thing is that I imagine that small barrier is enough to vastly reduce the number of people that will actually try it out.

Picture
Various incarnations of the London tube map regularly feature in Things: in the past I’ve posted about a to-scale tube map, a curvy tube map, and a travel-time interactive tube map.

Unsurprisingly, I rather like Mark Noad’s version, which is an ambitious attempt to make a tube map that is not just interestingly different but actually better than the current canonical version. By retaining the simplicity of design but improving geographic accuracy, I would say it succeeds.

Puzzle
This week, a very first world problem. If voice recognition software fails to understand something you say (e.g. Google voice search, xBox 360 Kinect voice commands, or Siri), what do you do? Having had this happen a few times now, I’m very aware that the natural human response of just saying the same thing but louder might not actually be the best thing to do. (I also imagine my neighbours don’t need to hear me shouting “Xbox go back! Xbox! Go! Back! Xbox go frickin’ back! Fine, don’t then!”)

For example, other approaches to ensure your input is recognised could include: reduce background noise; enunciate more clearly; speak in a monotone; move closer to or further away from the microphone; use a different phrasing; or attempt to put on an American accent.

Which of these is most likely to work? Is there a better approach that I’ve not included here? Is just speaking loudly actually the best approach after all?

Or is the failure rate of voice recognition inevitable and unacceptable in most contexts, and the whole notion flawed from the outset?

@metatim

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 30: Evolution Paradox, Ninja Cat, Wobbly Illusion

(Originally sent September 2008)

It’s Things 30, I’m 30. Isn’t that nice.

Films
If I have time, I may watch Taken, because it seems wonderfully up-front about its aim as a film – “They have taken his daughter. He will hunt them. He will find them. And he will kill them.”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvUxdQ4q-Lg

IMDb: 7.8/10
RT: 50%

Last week’s puzzle
What is the difference between a duck?

One of its legs is both the same.

That’s the official answer. Now for something more serious.

This week’s puzzle
In evolution, the principle of ‘survival of the fittest’ generally means that over time only the most well-adapted versions of a species thrive, and this causes species to develop and improve over many generations. For example, Giraffe’s necks get longer, Lions become better hunters, and so on.

In humans, we look after the sick and the weak and we often have redistributive tax systems. We go to a great effort to help the ‘least fit’, in the evolutionary sense, to survive. In the context of the above, this seems incomprehensible. How did this happen?

Video
More cat video goodness – this time a cat that knows the rules of that childhood game known as ‘Red light/Green light’ in the US, ‘1,2,3 Soleil’ in France, and presumably something else in the UK that I can’t remember. The game also featured to great effect in the movie The Orphanage.
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG_IcgVb-WM

Link
A very practical link:
http://www.metcheck.com
An excellent site for checking the weather, as it includes how weather changes over the course of the day.

A quote / anecdote
On Saturday in Regents Park (while running a treasure hunt) I think I may been the target of an interesting pick-up strategy. A rather attractive French lady asked if I could take a photo of her, so I agreed. She sat on the grass and posed seductively and I took a sensible picture. She asked me to take another one with the camera looking down at her from above. It seemed unreasonable to say no at that point. Then she said “Now let us check the photos to see if you are a good photographer [she then checked them]… oh, you are fabulous! Now, let us go to Queen Mary’s fountain and take some more photos there.”

It was at this point I explained I was a bit busy and had other places to be. But I was impressed by the general idea. If I actually found the French accent attractive it may even have worked. Or perhaps I just have entirely the wrong end of a very long stick.

A picture
An optical illusion: