Monthly Archives: December 2009

Weekend miscellany

Creativity Removing barriers to creating amazing things Tech The best and worst tech of the decade Visualizing browser market share over time Math The rise and rise of Python in computational science Why exponential growth is big (cartoon) Math teachers

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Doing good work with bad tools

Charlie Parker was one of the greatest jazz musicians. But unlike most artists, he had a cavalier attitude toward his equipment. He would pawn his saxophone for drug money and show up for a concert without an instrument. He assumed

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Posted in Creativity

Did the MS Office ribbon work?

One of the major design goals for Microsoft Office 2007 was making features easier to discover. A study had shown that about 90% of the feature requests for Microsoft Office were for features already in the product. People just didn’t

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Posted in Computing

Managing biological data

Jon Udell’s latest Interviews with Innovators podcast features Randall Julian of Indigo BioSystems. I found this episode particularly interesting because it deals with issues I have some experience with. The problems in managing biological data begin with how to store

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Posted in Clinical trials

Same color illusion

Are squares A and B are the same color? I found this illusion on John Baez’s site. It was created by Edward Adelson in 1995 and is the subject of a Wikipedia article. Related post: Optical illusion, mathematical illusion

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Posted in Graphics

Weekend miscellany

Hilarious performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas: The math of parallel parking Stopping the growth of the Sahara using bacteria to make a concrete wall Overview of BUGS (Bayesian software) from Andrew Gelman New ways of projecting the globe

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Less isn't more. Just enough is more.

From Ten Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser: Being a child of modernism I have heard this mantra all my life. Less is more. One morning upon awakening I realised that it was total nonsense … If you look

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Posted in Creativity

Using the Windows file explorer without a mouse

The Windows File Explorer has a number of keyboard shortcuts that do not apply to Windows programs in general. First of all, you can type Windows key-E to open the File Explorer. You can close it by typing Alt-F4.

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Posted in Computing

If you have a great idea, don't tell it to a standards body

Another quote from Douglas Crockford’s talk The State and Future of JavaScript: If you have a great idea, don’t tell it to a standards body. They are the last people in the world who should hear about it. What you

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The virtual machine of the Internet

From Douglas Crockford’s talk The State and Future of JavaScript: There’s pressure to make it a better compilation target. Now, this is a big surprise. Everybody thought that the Java VM was going to be the VM of the internet,

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Posted in Software development

Twelve Days of Christmas and tetrahedral numbers

How many gifts are there in the song Twelve Days of Christmas? Day 1: 1 gift Day 2: 1 + 2 = 3 gifts Day 3: 1 + 2 + 3 = 6 gifts … Day 12: 1 + 2

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Posted in Math

Word frequencies in human and computer languages

This is one of my favorite quotes from Starbucks’ coffee cups: When I was young I was mislead by flash cards into believing that xylophones and zebras were much more common. Alphabet books treat every letter as equally important even

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Posted in Software development

Breast cancer stem cells identified

From the article Proverbial new “Twist” in Breast Cancer Detection: … scientists at Johns Hopkins … have shown that a protein made by a gene called “Twist” may be the proverbial red flag that can accurately distinguish stem cells that

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Posted in Science

Weekend miscellany

Learning faster than many think possible There is no speed limit Beating the system Advice for developing software and for life To go fast, do less Harvard study critical of the value of hospital IT projects Not worth the money

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Creativity and faith

From Eugene Peterson: Creativity is difficult. When you are being creative, you’re living by faith. You don’t know what’s next because the created, by definition, is what’s never been before. So you’re living at the edge of something in which

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Posted in Creativity