links for 2009-08-24

  • I'll come right out and say it: Star Wars has a badly-designed universe; so poorly-designed, in fact, that one can say that a significant goal of all those Star Wars novels is to rationalize and mitigate the bad design choices of the movies. Need examples? Here's ten.

    R2-D2
    Sure, he's cute, but the flaws in his design are obvious the first time he approaches anything but the shallowest of stairs. Also: He has jets, a periscope, a taser and oil canisters to make enforcer droids fall about in slapsticky fashion — and no voice synthesizer. Imagine that design conversation: "Yes, we can afford slapstick oil and tasers, but we'll never get a 30-cent voice chip past accounting. That's just madness."

    C-3PO
    Can't fully extend his arms; has a bunch of exposed wiring in his abs; walks and runs as if he has the droid equivalent of arthritis. And you say, well, he was put together by an eight-year-old.

  • Full List
    Sites to Visit

    1. Flickr
    2. California Coastline
    3. Delicious
    4. Metafilter
    5. popurls
    6. Twitter
    7. Skype
    8. Boing Boing
    9. Academic Earth
    10. OpenTable
    11. Google
    12. YouTube
    13. Wolfram|Alpha
    14. Hulu
    15. Vimeo
    16. Fora TV
    17. Craiglook
    18. Shop Goodwill
    19. Amazon
    20. Kayak
    21. Netflix
    22. Etsy
    23. Property Shark
    24. Redfin
    25. Wikipedia
    26. Internet Archive
    27. Kiva
    28. ConsumerSearch
    29. Metacritic
    30. Pollster
    31. Facebook
    32. Pandora and Last.fm
    33. Musicovery
    34. Spotify
    35. Supercook
    36. Yelp
    37. Visuwords
    38. CouchSurfing
    39. NameVoyager
    40. Mint
    41. TripIt
    42. Aardvark
    43. drop.io
    44. Issuu
    45. Photosynth
    46. OMGPOP
    47. WorldWideTelescope
    48. Fonolo
    49. Get High Now
    50. Know Your Meme

  • In May 2008 I decided to improve my MP3 collection, by properly tagging all the files (including composer data), adding album cover art, fixing VBR headers, re-ripping albums that have poor sound quality, and more. I tried several programs, but I wasn't happy with how they worked. None of them did all the things that I wanted, and some corrupted the files. Worse, none allowed me to "look inside" an MP3 file, so the best way to see what was wrong with a file was to open it with a hex editor and try to see how some specifications mapped to the various pieces of the file. After a while I decided to give up on the tools I was experimenting with and write my own. The result is MP3 Diags.
    There are many programs that create and edit MP3 files, and many of them are broken. As a result, many MP3 files have various issues, ranging from values that are not standards-conforming but that are tolerated by all players and tools (so they look perfectly fine to the end user)
  • This Ukrainian Star Wars themed wedding cost a small fortune. I don’t know how Jar Jar got invited but somehow he managed.
  • Over the past century, violent images from World War II concentration camps, Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, Iraq, and many other times and places have been seared into our collective consciousness. These images have led to a common belief that technology, centralized nation-states, and modern values have brought about unprecedented violence.

    Our seemingly troubled times are routinely contrasted with idyllic images of hunter-gatherer societies, which allegedly lived in a state of harmony with nature and each other. The doctrine of the noble savage—the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions—pops up frequently in the writing of public intellectuals like, for example, Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, who argued that "war is not an instinct but an invention."

    But now that social scientists have started to count bodies in different historical periods, they have discovered that the romantic theory gets it backward:

  • We don't magically know how to do everything in every program. When we help you, we're usually just doing this:
  • SoTel Systems, LLC is the premier wholesale supplier for business communications products and services. We offer traditional refurbished and unused voice and data equipment, authorized distribution of VOIP equipment, and commercial SIP Services for both inbound and outbound traffic. With nearly 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry we provide your company with quality products, valuable expertise, and lightning fast delivery.
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