Welcome to the second decade of 11111001111. On September 30th, 1999, I installed a Perl-based "online journal" program and wrote the ultimate first blog post: "hey, this works!" Since then, I've made over a thousand posts, changed layout and style more than once, been in the Fargo Forum and Farked, and eventually completely moved away from a prepackaged software backend to something completely custom.
In fact, you might have noticed some minor changes in the site in the past couple days. This is because I'm on to iteration number six of 11111001111. This was a ground-up rewrite of the PHP code, going completely XML on the data storage. I'm a flatfile kinda guy; no databases yet. Anyhow, from the outside, the only new thing is a CAPTCHA on the commenting, and possibly some URL changes, but otherwise it's the same thing. On the back-end, though, I've upgraded some amazing features: I can preview now! It used to be that I had to code the HTML by hand, and once I hit post, it went live immediately, but now I have the ability to schedule posts for the future. I'm really moving into the twenty-first century now. I still have to do HTML by hand, though; WYSIWYG is still a pain. Yes, I know I'm sounding like Mr. Crochety Old Blogger, but ask yourself, how many other bloggers have passed the 10-year mark?
Part of the reason for the change is, up until now, those first blog posts of mine, back from 1999 to 2001, were more-or-less "lost": they didn't fit into the scheme of the blog stuff I had rewritten, so I let them disappear. I've often reminded myself, "11111001111 is the year 1999 in binary, and you claim to be blogging since the 20th century, but none of that is here." Well, now it is: I converted those old posts to the new format, and added another new feature: the "continue reading" tag, which lets me break up long posts. Just watch: Continue reading…
US President Barack Obama appeared at the United Nations recently, and posted for photos with visiting dignitaries and their families. Whoops: in Spain, politicans families are protected from exposure in the media, but a photo of Obama and the entire family of the Spanish head of state appeared undoctored in the media, children included. Wiser heads photoshopped the girls out, but others saw the New York appearance as a loophole allowing for publication. I'm sure the ETA doesn't have internet access.
"A dead giveaway would be if there are several noisy, green birds near the nest." The Chicago Parakeet Project aims to collect data on the extent of which these tiny parrots (yes, parrots) have left the care of humans and struck out in the wild on their own. Wild crows are bright enough as it is, but I can only imagine the complications of a bird that can use and understand language living in the margins of the human world.
Last night, it was requested that I pick up McDonald's for dinner after work. What occurred in the parking lot, as I chose which way to turn upon leaving my place of employment, was a rapid calculation of the most efficient way to get McDonald's food from any of the six - six! - McDonald's restaurants that are somewhat along my route home. However, if I go a couple hundred miles west of here, I would find myself in the McFarthiest spot in the U.S., a doldrums devoid of any McDonald's restaurants. One may note that it isn't far from the North American Pole of Inaccessibility. If you ever wanted to be as far from both sharks and McNuggets as possible, the prairies of western South Dakota are the place for you. Via.
There's thousands of photos on Flickr of the same thing — landmarks, national treasures, famous places — but each photo also contains some subtle data that takes computer horsepower to use. Developers at the University of Washington used hundreds of Flickr photos to derive not just the photo, but also the photographer's position, resulting in a 3D map of the object. This is essentially what a 3D scanner does, but 3D scanners know their vantage point and the position of the data beforehand. The 3D Flickr mapping is amazing, because it uses each overlapping point as a reference to the other, and with enough of those overlapping data points it can piece them all together into a 3D model.
Twelve men tossed dirt at a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Austin, TX federal courthouse. The problem is, only 11 of them had been invited: the 12th man was lawyer George Lobb, who showed up with his own hard helmet and shovel. Not wanting to insult an important dignitary, organizers didn't ask who he was, and since he looked important enough they let him line up for the photo-op with the senators and other politicians. Since his home-brought shovel didn't match the rest, he was handed one of the ceremonial matching shovels that everyone got. Improv Everywhere has not claimed responsibility, nor has the likes of Adbusters or other culture jammers, so my only guess is this guy has balls of steel and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Via.
Twenty: the number of centuries gone by. Twenty hundred years since the retro-defined start of the Gregorian calendar. Pope Gregory XIII needed to fix the problem of a wandering Easter, and came up with an adjustment to the Julian calendar which was more in sync with the lunar calendar, thus establishing the Gregorian system of periodic leap-year ignorings to keep the calendar within a day of accuracy at all times. It proved accurate in four-hundred year cycles, so Rome declared that the calendar was to be the standard for timekeeping. If you'll remember your 6th grade mathematics, you'll know that an "X" means ten in Roman numerals, so "XX" is twenty - back when first made ten-dollar bills, the designers used an "X" rather than a ten to keep with the style. A sawbuck is a type of x-shaped sawhorse used for cutting logs so they won't roll away, and as a colloquialism, a ten-dollar bill was called a "sawbuck" in honor of its x-shaped sawhorse analog. The twenty, of course, became the "double sawbuck": two exes, two sawbucks.
So, you can see how, in my mind, I immediately understood what the hell Dos Equis beer was about. The logo for the beer consists of two exes, side by side, A sawbuck is a kind of sawhorse, two exes, two sawhorses, dos = two, equus = horse - it all makes sense! I could comfortably sit on the patio at Applebee's, sipping my Mexican beer, ready to tell the story of sawhorses and exes to anyone willing to listen. I could finally prove those other guys wrong.
Unintended consequence of Cash for Clunkers: it has reduced the amount of crashable cars for demolition derbies to wreck. No, it's not really that big of a problem, it's just a good lede to justify writing about the greatest sport in the world. We went this summer: Sargent Co, Kindred. Via.
When you cash a check, most banks expect you to leave a thumbprint, unless you're a customer; both Wells Fargo and US Bank have been doing it since they were Norwest and First Bank, respectively. It's a simple task for most, but Steve Valdez had to refuse, due to his lack of thumbs. The bank's initial response? Open an account, or bring along his wife, who had written out the check, but he can't cash the check directly if he won't leave a thumbprint. Those interested in preventing descrimination against the disabled, however, think the bank should have offered alternatives, such as Valdez' two forms of ID, or had a contingency plan as they do for people who can't sign their name, for example. Via.