The Big Think

April 30, 2012

5 Scientific Explanations for Game of Thrones’ Messed-Up Seasons

Filed under: Current Reading,Movies,Science — jasony @ 10:03 pm

5 Scientific Explanations for Game of Thrones’ Messed-Up Seasons: “”

(Via .)

April 29, 2012

Everything 101

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:57 pm

Plan Your Free Online Education at Lifehacker U: Spring Semester 2012: “”

April 28, 2012

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 9:11 pm

Oh great, political season is here.””

Well, Drat

Filed under: Business — jasony @ 9:46 am agrees to begin collecting Texas sales taxes | Business | Dallas Business, Te…: “ and Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said Friday that the online retailer will begin to collect Texas sales taxes beginning July 1, in an agreement that Combs said ‘resolves all sales tax issues between Texas and Amazon.’”


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 9:37 am

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Thomas Paine

April 27, 2012


Filed under: Computing,Disclosure,Macintosh,Technology — jasony @ 12:13 pm

Living in Public: What Happens When You Throw Privacy Out the Window

Wherein a writer turns off all privacy filters online for 3 weeks and then analyzes what happens. The result? Well, the targeted ads are kind of nice when you’re shopping (they save you a Google search or two), but in the end, the writer goes back to the private life. Erin and I run Adblock Plus, Ghostery, and DNT+ on all our machines, and I take the extra step of only allowing Javascripts to execute on my laptop on an as-needed basis by using NoScript (extra security for banking, for instance). NoScript is a slightly less convenient way to surf in that it probably adds 30 seconds to my surfing every day, but I feel that the security and privacy is worth it. As for the others, they’re 100% transparent and actually speed up my surfing quite a big because they keep all those ads from even downloading… thus saving more bandwidth for what I actually requested in the first place.

I got into a (polite) disagreement on FB a few weeks ago about security and privacy versus the unspoken agreement that we all have to allow ourselves to be tracked as part of the social contract we make in exchange for a mostly free internet. I’m not convinced of this position at all— if you broadcast a tv or radio signal for free there’s nothing – no legal or moral argument– that prevents me from just listening to the content. That’s why God and Sony created a MUTE button after all. The person I was talking to about this didn’t see the connection but the fact that she does marketing for a living and thus depends on mailing lists and selective targeting to make their job more effective somewhat diminishes the argument in my mind.

Regardless, whenever I get on a completely unprotected (i.e. un adblocked, un-Do-Not-Tracked) machine I’m always appalled at all the flashy movement that’s taking place on the edges of the screen. Is this what everyone else puts up with every day? Seriously? It’s incredibly distracting and borderline anxiety-producing to have virtual sidewalk-hawkers constantly throwing stuff in your face trying to get you to punch the monkey or chase the mute button. Our surfing experience at home is fast, anonymous, quiet, and very non-distracting.

Do yourself a favor and give AdBlockPlus, Ghostery, and/or DoNotTrack+ a test drive for a week (and if you’re more technically minded, you can also try NoScript for blocking auto-running Javascript). You can install them all even, though I’d try them a few at a time just to make sure they play nice together (they do on all our machines). I’ve been running them all for well over a year (ABP goes back about five years) and seldom have any compatibility issues.

I think you’ll be amazed at how much better a “quiet” internet can be.

Solidoodle 2 – the sub-$500 3D printer

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 8:34 am

Solidoodle 2 – the sub-$500 3D printer: “”

Neat! Still chugging along on my 3d printer account. I’m mainly holding off to let the tech get just a bit better (mainly the software side of things).

How a Google Search Works in Only Half a Second [VIDEO]

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 8:21 am

How a Google Search Works in Only Half a Second [VIDEO]: “”

A new home for SketchUp

Filed under: Computing,Mad Science,Woodworking — jasony @ 8:04 am

Official Google SketchUp Blog: A new home for SketchUp: “”

Not too crazy about this news. SketchUp is my tool of choice for 3D woodworking and prop design. I only hope they keep developing it. Love the “free” part, but if it’s part of a business (and not a Google side-project) I don’t know if that’ll continue. I’m definitely not against a for-pay version in the future (businesses have to pay their people after all) but the pre-Google version- which I almost bought- was $700! Hope we don’t go back to that.

April 25, 2012

PHD Comics: The Higgs Boson Explained

Filed under: Science,Technology — jasony @ 10:30 pm

PHD Comics: The Higgs Boson Explained: “”

Really well done animation/interview that makes it all make sense. If you don’t know what all the fuss has been about definitely take a minute to watch this.

Time Travel: Why are people from the future not time traveling to our period? – Quora

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 10:09 pm

Time Travel: Why are people from the future not time traveling to our period? – Quora: “the current period is probably the temporal equivalent of flyover country. You might say, ‘What do you mean, it’s a time of unprecedented technological and cultural change!’ Maybe so, you time-hick, but a small town in South Dakota that’s finally getting hooked up to teh internet or getting their first Olive Garden isn’t interesting to someone who already has ultra-fast broadband or lots of family-owned local Italian restaurants. “

Let the Sun Shine In

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:21 pm

Dow Solar rolls out Solar Shingles in California and Texas: “”

Dang! Wish these had been out last year when we had a new roof put on.

Big Thoughts on a Small Subject

Filed under: Friends,Science — jasony @ 4:07 pm

Friend (and String Theorist) Matt writes:

So, people constantly talk about how tiny we are in the scope of the entire universe, how miniscule, how insignificant we are next to stars and nebula and galaxies, etc. This seems strange. The scale of the known universe is about 10^27. sure, that’s real big. but, the planck scale is 10^(-35). that’s way smaller than the whole universe is big. we’re actually bigger than about 56% of the stuff in the universe. There’s plenty more “below” us than “above” us.
so why are we so quick to marvel at how small we are? is it because the cosmologist and astrophysicists have better PR people?
i’m seriously curious about this – why would we not stop to appreciate how gigantic the “classical” scale is?

It’s always struck me as weird that, as vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big space is (not just “out-of-our-conception” big, but “you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me” big), as Matt says, there’s “more small” beneath us as there is above us. As to why more people don’t realize this, I suspect it has something to do with the fact that we can hold a nigh-infinite number of “smalls” between our pinched fingertips and so they don’t have as much, ahem, weight as the one single “big” we can see just a tiny part of on a dark night.

“When you wish upon a proton” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

April 24, 2012

Coming to a Toshe Station Near You

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 12:21 pm

If you live in or travel through a desert region, having access to clean water is always going to be an issue. If you can’t carry enough for your journey, you have to ensure your route allows for a few water bottle refills. But the lack of water in deserts and other arid locations may soon be a thing of the past if a new wind turbine system is implemented on a large scale.

Marc Parent, founder of Eole Water, realized that he could extract water from the air after noticing how much water an air conditioner unit collected. He decided to combine a green energy source with the necessary components for condensing water directly from the air. The end result after 10 years of R&D is the WMS1000 wind turbine, capable of condensing and storing up to 1,000 liters of water every day.

The 34 meter tall turbine requires 15mph winds for its 13 meter diameter rotor to turn and generate sufficient energy. It then produces 30kW of power for the system to function. Air is drawn in through vents in the nose of the turbine and a generator heats it producing steam. That steam is then fed through a cooling compressor to form moisture that gets condensed into water. The resulting liquid is piped into a storage tank at the base of the turbine after being purified.

Prototype wind turbine condenses 1000 liters of water/day.

Million Dollar Car, Five Thousand Dollar Carwash

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 12:16 pm

There’s clean, then there’s detailed, then there’s spotless. Beautiful! David Wilcox, call your office. 🙂

April 20, 2012


Filed under: Friends,Humor and Fun,Mad Science — jasony @ 6:50 am

This one goes out to Sean (h/t Scott):

April 15, 2012


Filed under: Business — jasony @ 10:48 pm

Pretty much sums it up:

It’s unlikely that any average student can develop a world-class skill in one particular area. But it’s easy to learn how to do several different things fairly well.

I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. The “Dilbert” comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created.

–Scott Adams

From this very encouraging post.

Star Wars Pipe Organ

Filed under: Games,Hobbies,Humor and Fun,Movies,Music — jasony @ 12:06 pm

Holy cow. Wow. Unbelievable.

h/t to brother Ross for the link.

April 12, 2012

It’s Hand-Carved

Filed under: Audio,Movies — jasony @ 10:08 pm

Good job to friend Storme on his Scholtzsky’s commercial.

April 11, 2012

Just a Small Town Girl

Filed under: Humor and Fun,Music — jasony @ 8:35 am

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