Bears vs. Robots

Shockingly, polar bears can tell the difference between icebergs and robots disguised as icebergs. Also shockingly, when faced with a strange whirring “iceberg” driving towards it, polar bears do very destructive things to robots. The video is well worth watching at the least for the fleeing robot that deploys a decoy in order to make its getaway.

Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

Based on my experiences being seen with the book, I feel like I have to preface any comments on Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere with a disclaimer that I am aware it is based on a television series and, yes, I decided to read the book anyway. And while I can see how the story could translate well to a serial format, it is also perfectly nice as a single unit. The story is grounded in a typical fantasy context – average guy accidentally falls into another side of the world, struggles to make sense of his new surroundings, finds out there … Continue reading Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

one place one place one hill one joy

I’ll need someone to explain why combining Dickinson with Moby Dick is particularly interesting, but I love the interactions with the generated poem with its assignment of latitude and longitude to each stanza of the merged poem. And the javascript driving it is available for perusal as well. I think my favorite function in it is: function nailedLine(n) { var a = n % nailedEnding.length; return ‘nailed to the ‘ + nailedEnding[a]; }

CaN yOu ReAd ThIs?

So many fun things to explore in this suggestion that students learn better from materials printed in harder-to-read fonts. First, I have only skimmed and not read the source paper, but they do acknowledge up front that this is part of a larger body of work that suggests that students learn better and retain their knowledge longer when they have to exert more thought in obtaining the information or knowledge. What is novel is that something as simple as the presentation font can trigger this effect. I liked the finding that just shaking a page while copying it to make … Continue reading CaN yOu ReAd ThIs?

Running Robot

I have been mesmerized by this running robot that tries to replicate human movement. The video illustrates a nice contrast between a stable, carefully calculated technique for motion and a more reckless looking approach. Sure, the robot wipes out at the end, but it looks pretty good until that happens.

Books! and Graphs!

It almost surprised that this diagram of all of the relationships in Infinite Jest is as simple as it is. Oh, it’s a huge graph, and there are a ton of people on it, but when you realize that every student ever named, for example, is included, and that some of the nodes represent categories of people rather than individuals, it is not as daunting as I would have expected. Still awesome though[1], and with tons of potential for expansion. The creator mentions adding line thickness or color to represent the importance of a connection, for example. They also mention … Continue reading Books! and Graphs!

Feeling the Pinch

Moving financial information tracking to an intuitive interface, MIT’s Media Lab has developed “smart wallets” that provide tactile feedback about your financial transactions. The three designs either vibrate when funds are deposited or withdrawn, grow or shrink with the size of your balance, or become harder to open as you have less money in your account. The video showing these interactions is highly recommended. I like not just the cuteness of the tactile interface, but I also enjoy that they are embedding the interactions in a wallet, which is already linked to financial tracking in our minds, and not just … Continue reading Feeling the Pinch