This is a very interesting read on the open web. One of the core ideas here is something that we think and talk about a lot, which is that social media and private networks are killing the open web that blogs played such a huge role in creating.
“Blogs gave form to that spirit of decentralization: They were windows into lives you’d rarely know much about; bridges that connected different lives to each other and thereby changed them. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in.”
And this conclusion:
“New, different, and challenging ideas get suppressed by today’s social networks because their ranking strategies prioritize the popular and habitual.“
I’ve always believed that, given time, people will float back to the decentralized web. Technology moves so quickly these days that I’m really not even convinced that internet providers, social networks, or congress can prevent the open sharing of information.
I gave up Facebook several months ago after reading a few studies about the negative impacts of Facebook on happiness. I was concerned that my real friends would think I was shunning them or that I’d be out of the loop. But none of those things have happened. In the end, the only difference is that I’m spending those precious minutes online reading more blogs. It’s inspiring and enriching and I’m grateful to have made the change.
Bach Cello Suite No. 1 Prelude
Photographer Stephen Orlando (previously) captures the nearly imperceptible movement one makes when quickly sliding a bow along strings, the senses typically drawn to the sounds rather than appearance of the instrument being played. By using carefully placed LED lights and a long exposure Orlando can track these movements through space, following arms and bows with light trails that extend out from the body and instrument. These bright ghostly marks are captured through his photographic technique and not altered with Photoshop, making their distinct patterns all the more spectacular.
The Ontario-based artist was inspired by the lighting painter Gjon Mili, who also experimented with violins in 1952. Orlando explains:
A relative motion between the performer and camera must exist for the light trails to move through the frame. I found it easier to move the camera instead of the performer. The LEDs are programmed to change color to convey a sense of time. The progression of time is from left to right in the viola and violin photos and from top to bottom in the cello photos. Each photo is a single exposure and the light trails have not been manipulated in post processing.
Seitz Concerto No. 2, 3rd Movement
Viola – Bach Cello Suite No. 1 – Three Bowings
Giovanni Stanchi (Rome c. 1645-1672). Oil on canvas. 38 5/8 x 52½ in. (98 x 133.5 cm.) / Courtesy Christie’s
Old master work paintings are frequently cited for their depiction of historical events, documentation of culture, or portraiture of significant people, but there’s one lesser known use of some paintings for those with a keen eye: biology. One such instance is this Renaissance still life of various fruits on a table by Giovanni Stanchi painted sometime in the 1600s that shows a nearly unrecognizable watermelon before it was selectively bred for meatier red flesh.
Horticulture professor James Nienhuis at the University of Wisconsin tells Vox that he’s fascinated by old still life paintings that often contain the only documentation of various fruits and vegetables before we transformed them forever into something more desirable for human use. You can read a bit more about the science behind the changes in watermelons over the last 350 years here. (via Kottke)
I just snorted so hard in the middle of a restaurant
The direct α-vinylation of carbonyl compounds to form a quaternary stereocenter is a challenging transformation. It was discovered that δ-oxocarboxylic acids can serve as masked vinyl compounds and be unveiled by palladium-catalyzed decarbonylative dehydration. The carboxylic acids are readily available through enantioselective acrylate addition or asymmetric allylic alkylation. A variety of α-vinyl quaternary carbonyl compounds are obtained in good yields, and an application in the first enantioselective total synthesis of (−)-aspewentins A, B, and C is demonstrated.
Vinyl unveiled: It is described that δ-oxocarboxylic acids can serve as masked vinyl compounds and be unveiled by Pd-catalyzed decarbonylative dehydration to enable the α-vinylation of carbonyl compounds to form a quaternary stereocenter. A variety of α-vinyl quaternary carbonyl compounds are obtained in good yields, and an application in the first enantioselective total synthesis of (−)-aspewentins A–C is demonstrated.
The nastiest habit of medieval cats seen via illuminated manuscripts.
10. Regular licking
Thomas of Cantimpré, Liber de natura rerum, France ca. 1290 (Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale, ms. 320, fol. 72r)
9. Licking and mouse-hunting
Ashmole Bestiary, England 13th century (Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 1511, fol. 35v)
8. Licking, mouse-hunting and bird-stealing
Bestiary, England 13th century (Bodleian Library, MS. Bodl. 764, fol. 51r)
7. Hey cat! Stop licking your butt on the Book of Maccabees or you’ll get an arrow!
below the cat: 1Maccabees 16:18-20. Bible, France 13th century (Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire de Lausanne, U 964, fol. 376r)
6. Otter-like cat
Bestiary, England 15th century (København, Kongelige Bibliotek, GkS 1633 4º, fol. 28v)
5. Devil and the cat worshippers licking the cat’s butt
Jean Tinctor, Traittié du crisme de vauderie (Sermo contra sectam vaudensium), Bruges ca. 1470-1480 (Paris, BnF, Français 961, fol. 1r)
4. Prayerbook cats
Hours of Charlotte of Savoy, Paris ca. 1420-1425 (NY, Morgan Library & Museum, MS M.1004, fol. 125r, 172r)
3. Weirdly long tongue
Book of Hours, Lyon, ca. 1505-1510 (Lyon, BM, Ms 6881, fol. 30r)
2. Villard’s cat
Sketchbook of Villard de Honnecourt, France ca. 1230 (BnF, Français 19093, fol. 7v)
1. Licking Cat of Apocalypse
Christ on Majesty flanked by two angels blowing trumpets of the Last Judgement and a little grey guy licking its butt. Missal, Bavaria ca. 1440-1460 (New York Public Library, MA 112, fol. 7r)
In 1992, I thought I was the best programmer in the world. In my defense, I had just graduated from college, this was pre-Internet, and I lived in Boulder, Colorado working in small business jobs where I was lucky to even hear about other programmers much less meet them.
I eventually fell in with a guy named Bill O'Neil, who hired me to do contract programming. He formed a company with the regrettably generic name of Computer Research & Technologies, and we proceeded to work on various gigs together, building line of business CRUD apps in Visual Basic or FoxPro running on Windows 3.1 (and sometimes DOS, though we had a sense by then that this new-fangled GUI thing was here to stay).
Bill was the first professional programmer I had ever worked with. Heck, for that matter, he was the first programmer I ever worked with. He'd spec out some work with me, I'd build it in Visual Basic, and then I'd hand it over to him for review. He'd then calmly proceed to utterly demolish my code:
One thing that surprised me was that the code itself was rarely the problem. He occasionally had some comments about the way I wrote or structured the code, but what I clearly had no idea about is testing my code.
I dreaded handing my work over to him for inspection. I slowly, painfully learned that the truly difficult part of coding is dealing with the thousands of ways things can go wrong with your application at any given time – most of them user related.
That was my first experience with the buddy system, and thanks to Bill, I came out of that relationship with a deep respect for software craftsmanship. I have no idea what Bill is up to these days, but I tip my hat to him, wherever he is. I didn't always enjoy it, but learning to develop discipline around testing (and breaking) my own stuff unquestionably made me a better programmer.
It's tempting to lay all this responsibility at the feet of the mythical QA engineer.
QA Engineer walks into a bar. Orders a beer. Orders 0 beers. Orders 999999999 beers. Orders a lizard. Orders -1 beers. Orders a sfdeljknesv.— Bill Sempf (@sempf) September 23, 2014
If you are ever lucky enough to work with one, you should have a very, very healthy fear of professional testers. They are terrifying. Just scan this "Did I remember to test" list and you'll be having the worst kind of flashbacks in no time. Did I mention that's the abbreviated version of his list?
I believe a key turning point in every professional programmer's working life is when you realize you are your own worst enemy, and the only way to mitigate that threat is to embrace it. Act like your own worst enemy. Break your UI. Break your code. Do terrible things to your software.
This means programmers need a good working knowledge of at least the common mistakes, the frequent cases that average programmers tend to miss, to work against. You are tester zero. This is your responsibility.
Let's start with Patrick McKenzie's classic Falsehoods Programmers Believe about Names:
I think you can see where this is going. This is programming. We do this stuff for fun, remember?
But in true made-for-TV fashion, wait, there's more! Seriously, guys, where are you going? Get back here. We have more awesome failure states to learn about:
At this point I wouldn't blame you if you decided to quit programming altogether. But I think it's better if we learn to do for each other what Bill did for me, twenty years ago — teach less experienced developers that a good programmer knows they have to do terrible things to their code. Do it because if you don't, I guarantee you other people will, and when they do, they will either walk away or create a support ticket. I'm not sure which is worse.
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I am at Gencon! Come find me at booth 641!
Hovertext: I'm just saying, the first person to get the dead to rise from the grave is gonna totally win the primaries.