undyingking: (Default)
I just noticed, on a recent Amazon packet, that it included the invitation to "Rate this packaging", at www.amazon.co.uk/packaging. Intrigued, I investigated further. It seems you can rate it from for degree of protection afforded, for appropriateness of size, and for ease of opening; and you can add freeform comments and even upload photos (of your delighted face as you rip the box open. Or possibly of the dreadful gash it made on your thumb.)
[Poll #1598289]
undyingking: (Default)
I just noticed, on a recent Amazon packet, that it included the invitation to "Rate this packaging", at www.amazon.co.uk/packaging. Intrigued, I investigated further. It seems you can rate it from for degree of protection afforded, for appropriateness of size, and for ease of opening; and you can add freeform comments and even upload photos (of your delighted face as you rip the box open. Or possibly of the dreadful gash it made on your thumb.)
[Poll #1598289]

Has bean

Apr. 30th, 2010 09:07 am
undyingking: (Default)
Anyone got a recommendation for a good, not-too-dear, electric coffee grinder? My beloved Russell Hobbs one has given up the ghost.

Are burr grinders really significantly better than blade ones, does anyone know from personal experience?

Or, indeed, any other cogent thoughts relating to coffee and the grinding thereof?
undyingking: (Default)
I was quite pleased to see that there exists such a thing as a portable jump starter, ie. a device that you plug in to the mains to charge it up, and you can then subsequently use it to jump start your car. This one at Maplin is an example.

Unfortunately, a bit of hunting around turns up reviews ranging fairly evenly from "it works, brilliant" to "it doesn't work, rubbish".

Anyone actually tried using one of these, and how does it compare with a normal trickle charger?
undyingking: (Default)
That'll do for now! So a quick poll, if you'll indulge me:
[Poll #1527090]
undyingking: (Default)
I love my Microsoft Trackball Optical, which I've had for about seven years now, and thought idly about getting another one for spare. They've not been made for a while, so I expected them to be fairly pricy. Even so, I was quite amazed to see the best price I can get for a new one is nearly 300 USD. Even second-hand ones on eBay start around 50 quid. Yikes! Perhaps I don't need a spare quite that much.

I see Logitech do a similar sort of thing, does anyone know if it's any good?


Sep. 30th, 2009 10:53 am
undyingking: (Default)
I posted here a couple of times about predictify.com, the wisdom-of-crowds site which attempted to build a business by selling the accuracy / otherwise usefulness of its users' predictive ability.

As you may have already guessed from that "attempted", theyv'e gone bust. No real surprise -- I said in the second of those posts why I thought it was a flawed business model. By the end, the few paying customers used it for publicity rather than predictions, ie. there were questions along the lines of "Author A B has a new book about X out, do you predict it's going to be (a) great, (b) marvellous [copious preview blurb attached]" -- a clever cheap way of getting your blurb in front of the notional 10,000 members' eyes. I would be surprised if very many paying customers actually got any genunely business-useful predictive insights from the site. I made a hundred dollars or so from not very many minutes' involvement, so I don't feel too aggrieved personally, but I can imagine there might be a few teeth being gnashed in frustration.

There's a newer site, Hubdub, doing the same sort of thing -- I haven't looked to see if it's made any significant improvements on the model. It uses a virtual currency rather than just community points, so that might be a start: as [livejournal.com profile] thecesspit said before, if you're using real money (ie. a betting exchange or futures market) you guarantee that the community is serious: without it, it's difficult to make sure its predictions are really going to be valuable, but virtual money is at least a step towards that.

Hard drive

May. 27th, 2009 09:07 am
undyingking: (Default)
I need to get a new hard drive for my PC. I've not bought one for around 3 years, and that mfr (Maxtor) doesn't even exist any more... any of you bought one recently, or otherwise kept up with devpts? Who's good these days?

Internal drives mostly seem to be SATA now, which am I right in thinking isn't back-compatible with my ATA motherboard? But maybe I should be considering an external one instead -- how practical is it to use such as an actual working drive, rather than just for backup etc?

Any thoughts / recs / etc welcome!
undyingking: (Default)
There are a few visual object browser things, but Modista is the nicest one I've seen for shopping purposes. It pulls images of objects from across a range of sites and shows them to you by similarity. Handy for things like shoes which are (I guess) a pain to browse by conventional hierarchical means. (Via the great [livejournal.com profile] info_sthetics.)

This one is more fun -- it's a directed graph of languages, based on the relation which for English is expressed as "It's all Greek to me" ie. English -> Greek. There are more and longer chains than I would have expected. Explanation and discussion here on Language Log.

Move over Guinness, the Universal Records Database is here. In a grand spirit of participation, you're encouraged to send in your own record claims, however minor or bizarre. "Corey Henderson displays a tremendous ability for horrendous video game driving by having 11 fiery crashes in one game of Pole Position. Henderson played on a stand-up arcade version of the game and used just one quarter. The record was set on September 20, 2008 at the Challenge Arcade in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania." (Seen on the excellent ResearchBuzz.)

And of course this wouldn't be complete without a Last.fm visualization. I'll be honest and say that the maths of this is a bit beyond my capacity to immediately grasp,but it certainly looks very nice.
undyingking: (Default)
Top trumps with typefaces. Silly but brilliant, I shall get this when I'm next feeling self-indulgently frivolous.
undyingking: (Default)
A few things that have interested me lately:

  • "Experimental" font Optica. I'm not sure if this is genius or idiotic. Apparently it's easy to read at gigantic sizes seen from some way off. (It says "Tres tristes tigres", if you can't read it at all.)
  • Natural Harvest, a new book which can I think safely be described as a seminal work. The comments are quite amusing -- they read from the bottom up. Possibly NSFW.
  • Atlas of True Names, which will be self-explanatory when you click through to it. It's a bit silly in places (OK, York = Wild Boar Village, but New York was named after the then Duke of York; and I'm not sure about eg. Lake of Victory either) but interesting and entertaining I think.
  • The ideal Christmas present, a statue of your face. Send them two mugshots, they do the rest. Also available: your face at various ages, different races, genders, etc.
  • A fun adaptive spelling bee spun off from the Visual Thesaurus. You have to pay to get your score registered, alas. Good article here about the way it learns.
  • If you're interested in web design you probably already read Smashing Magazine. This article sampling some nice favicons is a recent example of how it makes you think and explore. Any of you done any favicon designing?
  • On a related note, article from Yahoo about speeding up your website. Take with several pinches of salt, as Yahoo's interests are not the same as your own, but some tips (eg: putting stylesheets in the head element, which doesn't actually speed up page load but does give the user a speedier impression) are useful.
On a non-tab-closing note, I finally got to see the RL World Cup final from the weekend. Australia were I think 10-1 on to win at kickoff, but New Zealand made a nonsense of that with a terrific display of teamwork and concentration. Really good to watch, and realy good for the sport as a whole I hope. It seems invidious to single out players, but Cayless's tireless captaincy and the massive performance of Smith at loose-forward will stay in the mind for a while. His ankle-tap on Thurston, with just a handful of minutes to go, was surely the moment of the match. You have to feel a little for Lockyer, who had a brilliant game -- the Australian handling was mesmerizing at times -- but the better team won on the night. Hooray for them!
undyingking: (Default)
Does anyone know, or can find out, the details of a service to which one can send a DNA sample and get back a report about one's ethnic mix -- a seen on that TV programme from last year or whenever it was?

I would expect it to be commercially available by now, as all sorts of other DNA-related stuff seems to be.


Jul. 1st, 2008 05:34 pm
undyingking: (Default)
I'm not sure if Zoomii is completely mad or incredibly brilliant.

It comprises all the books on Amazon.com, laid out cover-out like a virtual library, on a single page. You can drag, click, zoom, search etc your way aboout the page, inspecting book details, putting them in your cart or wishlist, and buying them should you so desire.

Actually it's a bit of a cheat because of the 172K titles available, only 21K of them are actually displayed on the page. But it's still pretty impressive. If this is the way AJAX is going, then I want more.

(Via [livejournal.com profile] info_sthetics.)
undyingking: (Default)
Yay, I finally got some money from Predictify. This is the site where you make wisdom-of-crowds type predictions, and if they turn out to be correct, you get a share in the money put up by whoever it was wanted to know the answer. I've so far shared in about 35 payouts, the biggest being $12.86 for predicting Clinton's % share of the vote in the Iowa caucus, and I've made a total of $41.42 (over a period of about 6 months). Which puts me 125th in the rankings -- the most successful predictor has made over $200.
I must admit that I'm highly doubtful about the business model1, and I was wondering whether they were ever going to be able to afford to actually pay out. But they had a venture capital round to raise the money to do so. Click here if you'd like to give it a go!

In sadder news, one of my favourite webcomics, Rice Boy, has finished. I've probably talked about this before, but if you missed that, it's a fabulously strange and beautiful thing. The Wikipedia entry seems rather baffled but gives a little idea. Anyway, read it, it's great.

1 Partly beause the "game" aspect of it is somewhat broken, and when players realize this, they stop behaving in a business-helpful way. I can go into more detail about this, if anyone's interested (don't all rush at once though).
undyingking: (Default)
Sorry, this is another very boring utilitarian post. Too busy to be thoughtful or creative!

Do any of you have a walk-in shower, ie. one where there aren't doors that you shut behind you, but instead you just go around a partition?

If so, do you find that you get much water sneaking its way out into the room? And would you recommend / disrecommend your particular make (of enclosure, not of shower itself)?

Edited to add: I mean this sort of thing.
undyingking: (Default)
World Freedom Atlas is a terrific Flash thingy which displays various measures of political freedom, corruption, terror, lifespan, etc, as world maps. You can display variables agains tone another, show changes over time, etc -- all very beautiful and clear. Easy to spend hours mesing around with it. Interesting to compare eg. the Amnesty International vs the US State Dept measure of political terro by country. And the Hobbes Index, indicating to what extent life is short, nasty, solitary, poor and brutish.

WikiDashboard is a Wikipedia-analysing tool. "The idea is that if we provide social transparency and enable attribution of work to individual workers in Wikipedia, then this will eventually result in increased credibility and trust in the page content, and therefore higher levels of trust in Wikipedia." They do this by showing, for each page, a neat visual summary of which users have edited it most, and when. The idea is that you can then check up on those users and see if their other eidts suggest hobbyhorses. Not a tool that will transofrm Wikipedia into a wonderful paradise, but useful enough that I think it would be worth building into it.

Ktrak, for a bike that thinks it's a snowmobile. Convertyour bike with one of their kits, replacing the wheels with a cat track at the back and a ski at the front. I suspect going uphill would be fairly hard work...

The TV Tropes Wiki is a home for plot tropes used not just in TV but also in a variety of other media. Originated as a tool for scriptwriters, but fun just to browse around. For example, see For Want of a Nail vs In Spite of a Nail.

Vatican, the board game -- unlock the secrets of how men become Pope! And it is always men these days, after that nasty business with Pope Joan. "VATICAN, historically accurate, is more compelling than the depictions of the Catholic Church in popular culture. Reality and truth are always more interesting than fiction... VATICAN is a fascinating way for all to understand a central point of Catholic identity, and will appeal to a wide variety of audiences, whatever their religious preferences." The users on BoardGameGeek are not very flattering about it, but then they're probably heretics who are going to burn in hell.
undyingking: (Default)
I need to get a new cordless drill, as T's sister and b-i-l seem to have mysteriously turned their borrowing of ours into a permanent arrangement. Not a market I know much about, and superficially similar drills vary wildly in price. Any recommends / disrecommends?
undyingking: (Default)
Today I got in change a pound coin with a sticker obscuring one face. The sticker says "Exchange this pound for a FREE Fruit Sourz at <bar>".

Now, call me obsessively pedantic if you like -- but to my mind, if you have to exchange a pound for something, that's not quite the same as it being "FREE". In fact, some might say that this would be slightly more accurately be described as "it costs a pound". But what do I know about the economics of running bars?
undyingking: (Default)
Anyone out there use, and can recommend, font manager software for Windows? I've been mstly using Extensis Suitcase v9 for the past few years, but am getting increasingly fed up with its non-friendly aspects. What I'd like ideally would allow you to tag and group fonts by assigning keywords, would transparently handle system fonts, would allow assignment of aliases / manual resolution of name conflicts, would have file-manager-like capability within its own listing window...

Previously I've used Xerox Font Manager, which was pretty hopeless*, but I'm hoping that the market has moved on somewhat since I last made the decision. Any tips?

Edit: as was Adobe Type Manager, I'd forgotten about that one.


Jul. 24th, 2006 03:08 pm
undyingking: (Default)
This is quite cool I think -- an online collaborative flowcharts (etc) app. And it all runs in the browser. Even exports SVG. Free while in beta, afterwards they plan to have a paid-for version and an ad-supported version.


undyingking: (Default)

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