links for 2008-09-07

  • It's pretty common, when reading discussion of Apple's “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads, to come across the comment: Sure, they're great ads but they don't work. John Hodgeman’s PC is far more likeable than Justin Long’s smug hipster Mac. This is missing the point. To illustrate, here are director Chuck Jones’ rules for writing Road Runner cartoons, copied from Wikipedia: 1. Road Runner cannot harm the Coyote except by going “beep, beep”. 2. No outside force can harm the Coyote—only his own ineptitude or the failure of Acme products. 3. The Coyote could stop anytime—if he was not a fanatic. (Repeat: “A fanatic is one who redoubles his effort when he has forgotten his aim.” —George Santayana). 4. No dialogue ever, except “beep, beep”.
  • At 7?6?, Yao Ming is one of the tallest Olympians, one of the most revered basketball players across the world, and we’re willing to bet, were there an Olympic competition for aerial photography, he’d score heads above the rest. Puns aside, getting a camera up into the air is no small (or short) feat. We’re not all tall like Yao Ming, and we don’t always have access to a kite or a plane… Plus, tripods and professional monopods are expensive and weigh about a gajillion pounds. So, we made our own Photojojo Sky-Cam, just for you and just in time for your own photography Olympics. Transform your group shots, crowd shots, your super-secret, Bond-ian spy shots into “how’d-you-do-that,” Andreas Gursky-like works of high art.
  • Perhaps you have wondered how predictable machines like computers can generate randomness. In reality, most random numbers used in computer programs are pseudo-random, which means they are a generated in a predictable fashion using a mathematical formula. This is fine for many purposes, but it may not be random in the way you expect if you're used to dice rolls and lottery draws. RANDOM.ORG offers true random numbers to anyone on the Internet. The randomness comes from atmospheric noise, which for many purposes is better than the pseudo-random number algorithms typically used in computer programs. People use RANDOM.ORG for holding draws, lotteries and sweepstakes, to drive games and gambling sites, for scientific applications and for art and music. The service has been operating since 1998 and was built and is being operated by Mads Haahr of the School of Computer Science and Statistics at Trinity College, Dublin in Ireland.
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