Best of the Web 2007
Our Favorite Discoveries

Electric Sheep: Great and unique collaborative screensaver

Hi all,

Following a recent thread, I'd like to share this with you great folks at DC!
I've never been too fond of screensavers, most of the time I simply used the default windows screensaver... but recently a friend of mine showed me Electric Sheep. It generates beautiful animated sequences (some might call them hypnotic!)...

In the creators' own words:
"Electric Sheep is a free, open source screen saver run by thousands of people all over the world. It can be installed on any ordinary PC or Mac. When these computers "sleep", the screen saver comes on and the computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep". The result is a collective "android dream", an homage to Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep."

very, very, very cool.

(read 1 comment)


Gallery of Computation

On a thread tracking down a screensaver, member Eóin found the original author together with a host of other beautiful examples of computer art at Gallery of Computation.

http://complexification.net

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Substrate: Cool Screensaver!

Ok this is an odd post. I saw a really hypnotising screen-saver running on a Linux box. It looks like a type of self-drawing modern art. I had no access to the PC so snapped a pic with my camera phone. Is there any chance that someone out there knows the name, I just have track it down..

Great teamwork on the forum to find this, I really like it too.

    Continue reading the thread to find out about this cool free screensaver..

(read 25 comments)


Animal Crossing Tragedy: File Under "The Emotional Power of Video Games"

I really think we are only beginning to see the emotional power of video games starting to be explored.  In the last decade some really interesting and deep books are being written on computer game design.. Things are going to get really interesting in the near future.

This particular slideshow is a true (somewhat sad) story about a dying mother playing a video game.

http://animalcrossingtragedy.ytmnd.com/

discovered on http://www.neatorama.com/ via http://www.metafilter.com/
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The Dvorak Zine - fun comic telling story of the Dvorak keyboard

The history of the bad Qwerty keyboard we all use today is wonderfully bizarre.  It makes for great dinner conversation and is sure to boggle the minds of small children.  Here's a fun comic about the more logical Dvorak keyboard which tells that history and how the Dvorak keyboard came about.

Quote
The Dvorak Zine is a 24 page zine that uses the power of Comics to promote Dvorak. It is broken down into three chapters: 1) The history of the typewriter and the development of the QWERTY keyboard; 2) An explanation of the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard layout and its many benefits; and 3) Easy-to-follow steps for setting up Dvorak on your computer and tips on how to learn it!

http://www.dvzine.org/zine/01-toc.html

discovered on http://www.boingboing.net
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Fun Flash Storefront Site

Try buying something on this flash website.. It's not english but that shouldn't stop you from trying..

http://producten.hema.nl/

discovered on http://www.yesbutnobutyes.com
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Webfind: How to hire and treat your own hacker

Just (re)found this gem of hackerdom:
How to hire and threat your hacker in a corporate environment.
Link to the full text below the TOC ;-)

Quote
Section 0: Basic understanding.
0.0: Won't my hacker break into my computer and steal my trade secrets?
0.1: Was it a good idea to hire a hacker?
0.2: How should I manage my hacker?
0.3: Wait, you just said "10 times", didn't you? You're not serious, right?
0.4: I don't understand this at all. This is confusing. Is there a book on this?

Section 1: Social issues
1.0: My hacker doesn't fit in well with our corporate society. She seems to do her work well, but she's not really making many friends.
1.1: My hacker seems to dress funny. Is there any way to impress upon him the importance of corporate appearance?
1.2: My hacker won't call me by my title, and doesn't seem to respect me at all.
1.3: My hacker constantly insults the work of my other workers.

Section 2: Productivity.
2.0: My hacker plays video games on company time.
2.1: But it's been two weeks since I saw anything!
2.2: Isn't this damaging to productivity?
2.3: My hacker is constantly doing things unrelated to her job responsibilities.
2.4: My hacker is writing a book, reading USENET news, playing video games, talking with friends on the phone, and building sculptures out of paper clips. On company time!
2.5: But my other workers are offended by my hacker's success, and it hurts their productivity.

Section 3: Stimulus and response
3.0: My hacker did something good, and I want to reward him.
3.1: My hacker did something bad, and I want to punish him.
3.2: I don't get it. I offered my hacker a significant promotion, and she turned it down and acted offended.
3.3: My company policy won't let me give my hacker any more raises until he's in management.
3.4: I can't believe the hacker on my staff is worth as much as we're paying.

Section 4: What does that mean?
4.0: My hacker doesn't speak English. At least, I don't think so.
4.1: I can't get an estimate out of my hacker.
4.2: My hacker makes obscure, meaningless jokes.
4.3: My hacker counts from zero.


(read 3 comments)


Slickr: Flickr Screensaver

I think there may be other such screensaver tools for flickr, but this one seems quite active.

Quote
Flickr screen saver that shows images by:
User - Favorites, Set, Tags, Contacts
Group
Everyone - Tags, Recent, Interestingness
Local
It does OpenGL fading and zooming and is easy on the eyes.

http://www.cellardoorsw.com/slickr/

discovered on http://www.fortysomething.ca/mt/etc/
(leave a comment)


Wine Ratings Are For Suckers: Fun Article

This is a bit old, but it's from one of the blogs i read regularly and hadn't seen before..

Wine Ratings Are For Suckers

Quote
"On many levels [rating wines on a numerical scale] is nonsensical," Joshua Greene, the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits, said. He has been using the 100-point system to judge wines in his magazine for about a dozen years.
...
My one complaint about the article is that it failed to discuss two of my favorite experiments in wine tasting. They were done by Frederic Brochet, of the University of Bordeaux. In the first test, Brochet invited 57 wine experts and asked them to give their impressions of what looked like two glasses of red and white wine. The wines were actually the same white wine, one of which had been tinted red with food coloring. But that didn't stop the experts from describing the "red" wine in language typically used to describe red wines. One expert praised its "jamminess," while another enjoyed its "crushed red fruit." Not a single one noticed it was actually a white wine.

The second test Brochet conducted was even more damning. He took a middling Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One bottle was a fancy grand-cru. The other bottle was an ordinary vin du table. Despite the fact that they were actually being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the differently labeled bottles nearly opposite ratings. The grand cru was "agreeable, woody, complex, balanced and rounded," while the vin du table was "weak, short, light, flat and faulty". Forty experts said the wine with the fancy label was worth drinking, while only 12 said the cheap wine was.

http://scienceblogs.com/c...tings_are_for_suckers.php

(read 10 comments)


Strange Maps

For those that love looking at maps, here is a collection of some of the strangest ones you will ever see.

http://strangemaps.wordpress.com

(read 5 comments)


How to own a 128-bit number

Quote
Remember last week’s kerfuffle over whether the movie industry could own random 128-bit numbers? [...]

Now, thanks to our newly developed VirtualLandGrab technology, you can own a 128-bit integer of your very own.

Here’s how we do it. First, we generate a fresh pseudorandom integer, just for you. Then we use your integer to encrypt a copyrighted haiku, thereby transforming your integer into a circumvention device capable of decrypting the haiku without your permission. We then give you all of our rights to decrypt the haiku using your integer. The DMCA does the rest. [...]

http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1155

discovered on BoingBoing
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The Citicorp Building Repairs: A Tale of Engineering and Ethics

Nice long entertaining account of the secret mistakes and repairs in the construction of a skyskraper, and lessons in ethics for all of us who build things..

Quote
What's an engineers worst nightmare? To realize that the supports he designed for a skyscraper like Citicorp Center are flawed--and hurricane season is approaching...

http://www.predesign.org/citicorp1.htm

discovered on http://www.gadgetopia.com/
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Best Buy Geek Squad Confession (long and interesting)

Quote
...
The procedure taken to catch up on the computers was to take any computer currently in line to be fixed, or being dropped off to be fixed, and--if it had a software or operating system issue--wipe it, and reinstall Windows. Then, when the customer was given back his or her computer, an agent would inform them that due to an error, their data was lost. If they protested, the agent would be considerate, but in the end, if need be, point out #10 and their signature beneath it. For those that do not understand "wipe", it refers to completely deleting all data off the hard drive, and re-installing a fresh version of the Windows operating system. One supportive comment given by a manager, after a obligatory chuckle, was, "Oh well, they should have bought a data backup!" I never took part in this strategy, thankfully, as I was forced onto the floor to help people with their purchases after I was caught by a manager informing customers it would be better if they went to the Geek Squad a few towns over until we catch up.
...
Now, the difference between a Geek Squad agent and a hobo with a thumb drive is that the hobo with a thumb drive has the potential to efficiently fix your problem.
...

http://consumerist.com/co...aster-egg-hunt-257108.php

(read 8 comments)


Amazing realtime 3D network traffic visualization

An amazing network monitoring research project from Netcosm (http://www.netqos.com)
Project page here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtC6ZM0_m8U
Video of the thing in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtC6ZM0_m8U


(read 3 comments)


Universcale: Graphic representation of very large sizes and numbers

Here is a very nice graphical representation of sizes and numbers that are difficult to conceptualize readily, if at all.

Quote
We are able to view all entities, from the microworld to the universe, from a single perspective. By setting them up against a scale, we are able to compare and understand things which cannot be physically compared.
Today, using the electron microscope and astronomical telescope, we can see the objects which we have not been aware of its existence before. Are you able to fathom, or even roughly grasp, these sizes?
See our Universcale and experience the sizes of various objects.

http://www.nikon.co.jp/ma...y/universcale/index_f.htm

discovered on http://crave.cnet.com/
(read 2 comments)


Desktopography: Truly Beautacious Wallpapers

Quote
Desktopography is an exhibition, a showcase of nature themed wallpapers created by designers worldwide.

Designers spend around 90% of their waking life in front of a computer, so the most appealing genre for a wallpaper would be one that has beautiful design mixed with the all important aspect of being outdoors.
This year we present over 40 new desktop wallpaper for you to display and enjoy.
-Warning: Large flash site-

http://www.desktopography.net

discovered on Admit-one.net
(leave a comment)


ToonDoo - The Cartoon Strip Creator

Here's a fun and easy way to create comics for your posts and pages.

Quote
ToonDoo is a wacky way to get creative with comics. You can now create your own comic strips, share them or insert them in your blogs with just a few clicks and drag-n-drops!
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!...

http://www.toondoo.com/Home.do

discovered on http://www.techcrunch.com
(read 1 comment)


Strange Windows wallpaper trick

Try this, it's nutty...

Open your Paint program.
Select Image->Attributes and make your image 2 pixels by 2 pixels.
Select View->Zoom->Custom->800%
Now put black in the lower-left corner, dark gray in the lower-right corner, and light grey in the upper-left.  Like so...

blogimage

Save it somewhere convenient, then in your display properties, select the bitmap you just made, select 'Center' and  Stretch Desktop Wallpaper enabled.

    There's more.  Continue reading..

(read 28 comments)


The Machine Is US

Anthropologist's take on the Web, 2.0 in particular.
Quote
Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE

discovered on http://www.ettf.net
(read 20 comments)


What's your favorite computer game from when you were young?

We were talking on the irc channel about our favorite computer games from our childhoods.

all you young kids can just sit back and read this thread to see how games used to look, when there was no such thing as a first person shooter.

my girlfriend and i loved the lucasarts graphic adventure games and used to play them a lot.
our two favorites:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day_of_the_Tentacle
http://en.wikipedia.org/w...nd_2:_LeChuck%27s_Revenge

I think my favorites would be the original Doom and Wolfenstein 3D games. I also enjoyed playing a similar game, Braham Stoker's Dracula, in which you ran around killing vampires and throwing holy wafers in coffins. KR

    Read about other's favorite old games and tell us about your's...

(read 138 comments)


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