Tagging Like Crazy

LiveJournal added tagging
as a new feature (at least, I think it's new). So I've been going a
little crazy tagging every post I've ever made. It's getting easier as
I go, though, since certain topics come up pretty often (like Star Wars, Privacy, and RenReb).  I noticed that “Funny” and “Weird” seem to go together, too.

Tagging is red hot now – Flickr is case in point.  And with Google Earth
allowing its own KML integration system, you can do some crazy stuff
(like connecting Google Earth to Flickr, or tracking your car on your
computer).  Check out this link, which definitely deserves its own post, and you should get a better idea about what I'm talking about.


Bumpy Road Ahead

MAKE reports on a guy from MIT, Noah Vawter, who created a device to measure the road bumpiness. The system is integrated with Google Maps, so if this technology was used across the country, Google Maps could store all the pothole information in their maps. That would definitely add another dimension to planning your trip. And what would that do to local government accountability? After all, now everyone is going to know the dirty secret that Oak Street hasn't been paved in eight years…


Microsoft To Buy Scumware Company

According to Slashdot, Microsoft is looking to buy the company formerly known as Gator, which is one of the biggest spyware “pioneers”. I'm not even sure where to start – I haven't decided which company is worse yet… but no doubt the whole will be scummier than the sum of its parts.

I wrote about Claria (Gator) back in February.


The Jedi Start to Regain Power

How's this Slashdot article for blurring fantasy and reality:

earthlingpink writes “In his maiden speech to the House of Commons, the Hon. Member for Copeland, Jamie Reed MP, announced that he is a Jedi: “as the first Jedi Member of this place, I look forward to the protection under the law that will be provided to me by the Bill” (the quotation is a fair way down the page; search for 'Jedi,' not surprisingly). How long before we have a Congressional equivalent?”

Does that mean the Jedi are finally starting to recover from the devastating blow dealt to them in Revenge of the Sith?  If Reed is really a Jedi, why is he so worried about his legal rights?  And what did he think of the last one?

My head is spinning…


p.s. When will the first Sith be elected?  That would be even COOLER!
p.p.s. “At last we will reveal ourselves to the House of Commons.  At last we will have… revenge.”

The RSS Feed Link

On most RSS-enabled websites, you can look at the HTML source and find the address of the feed.  Look for the following lines:

<link rel=“alternate” type=“application/rss+xml” title=“RSS” href=http://www.livejournal.com/users/yodayid/data/rss&#8221; />
<link rel=“alternate” type=“application/atom+xml” title=“Atom” href=http://www.livejournal.com/users/yodayid/data/atom&#8221; />

Put the address (everything inside quotes for href=”…”) into your feeder and everything else should be automatic.



One of the Princeton Gallery entries (which I wrote about earlier today) caught my eye: Fake Forest
It shows different images of trees that can be generated using computer
algorithms (i.e. instead of drawing lines in something like Photoshop,
you write a computer program that follows a simple set of instructions
to draw the picture).  In this case, each tree is a fractal,
a complex shape that you get when you take a simpler shape, do a series
of steps to it like rotate it, shrink it, whatever, and then repeat the
steps on the result.

For the trees, you generally start with a vertical line.  Then you
make a copy, shrink it, tilt it, and connect it to the middle of the
original line.  Then you do the same for the other side (so you
have one tilted left and one tilted right).  Now you have a
something shaped like a fork.  The next step would be to repeat
the whole process on the “fork”.  If you keep doing this, you'll
eventually get a tree!

Ok, Ok, that was a little unreadable, and I don't have any images to explain.  But… this guy does ;-)

What makes this all so amazing is that it appears that nature actually
works this way.  The DNA seems to store instructions (i.e. a
series of steps), which each cell then follows.  That explains why
so many natural patterns look like fractals.  It's much simpler to
get complex patterns through repetition than through figuring it all
out in advance.

What's even more amazing is the incredible variety of trees you can get
by tweaking the angles, scale, and vertical placement of each
branch.  By playing with three numbers, you can get a whole
“forest” as demonstrated in the gallery entry – literally different

What's even more amazing is that we only figured all this out about twenty years ago!


p.s. This is going to be old news for a lot of you, in fact, the
gallery entry says as much.  But I thought it would be a nice
opportunity to discuss one of my favorite topics :-)

p.p.s. Check out a great video demonstrating self-similarity here (bottom of page)!

Can You Have That Giftwrapped?

is selling, for the low, low price of only $7,989.99, “The Penguin
Classics Library Complete Collection”, made up of 1,082 classic books,
although, to be honest, 317 of them kinda suck.  The Wall Street Journal has a cute writeup about it.

The entire collection weighs about 700 lbs, which, I have to say, is a
weird way to think about a collection of hundreds of years of


The Art of Science

You can see some amazing images at Princeton's Art of Science Competition Gallery. Cool stuff!

While you're there, check out the website designer, Jonathan Harris. He's worked on some pretty cool stuff, including WordCount, which shows, in order, the most commonly used English words, taken from British National Corpus. Not sure what that is exactly, except that they have lots of words.


Fixing Firefox

I had some wacky problems running the awesome Firefox web browser recently, and I found this site to help me make it all better :-)  The browser would start up, but the page wouldn't show up, and none of the buttons worked.  It turns out it was a corrupted profile.  On Windows, you have to go to C:\Documents and Settings\[user]\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles (replace [user] with whoever you login as to Windows), and delete the profile folder.  Make sure Firefox is closed this whole time.  Before you do, though, you might want to backup some of the files in there, like:

* bookmarks.html (Your bookmarks)
* history.dat (Your browsing history)
* signons.txt (All of your saved passwords)
* search.rdf (Search history)

There might be other stuff in there that you want/need, but you'll have to figure that out for yourself.

Anyway, restart Firefox, delete the profile, and create a new one.  Then close it again, and copy the backed up files to the new profile directory.  You should be good!



That is my ranking in the TruthLaidBear Blogosphere Ecosystem, making me an Insignificant Microbe.  The lowest ranked is #28446, so there are four blogs lower than me.  Right below me is Pit Doctor: Random thoughts from an Emergency Medicine Physician living and working in the South. Interestingly enough, the second post on his site (as of this writing) is a link to Rebel Doctor's diagnosis of Darth Vader.  Coincidence?  I think so.  Ranked right above me is Value Today, apparently finance-related.  No Star Wars references there that I can see, but there's a Google Ad: “No One Reading Your Blog?”  Well, I wouldn't say no one's reading my blog, but I would say that they are reading 28,441 other blogs before getting to mine.  You people reading this must be very tired.  Can I offer you a glass of water?  After all, I'm a microbe – I live in the water!