undyingking: (Default)
I was reminded recently how humour sometimes doesn't work on the interwebs. A sarcastic comment may just look like idiocy when unaccompanied by frantically wiggling eyebrows and other such facial gurning signifiers.

Research suggests this has been the case ever since the very early days of the internet, back in the Middle Ages.

henry_the_2: that @becky_thomas is like right up in my face i mean haha will no-one rid me of him?
fitzurse_etc: we will!!
henry_the_2: hah yeah lol ur my favourite knights
fitzurse_etc: no yeah we totally will!1!
henry_the_2: haha lol yeh right guys ;-)
...
henry_the_2: hahh u do no i was just jokg right guys?
...
henry_the_2: guys?
undyingking: (Default)
I was reminded recently how humour sometimes doesn't work on the interwebs. A sarcastic comment may just look like idiocy when unaccompanied by frantically wiggling eyebrows and other such facial gurning signifiers.

Research suggests this has been the case ever since the very early days of the internet, back in the Middle Ages.

henry_the_2: that @becky_thomas is like right up in my face i mean haha will no-one rid me of him?
fitzurse_etc: we will!!
henry_the_2: hah yeah lol ur my favourite knights
fitzurse_etc: no yeah we totally will!1!
henry_the_2: haha lol yeh right guys ;-)
...
henry_the_2: hahh u do no i was just jokg right guys?
...
henry_the_2: guys?
undyingking: (Default)
I could happily spend hours playing with this. But won't, as I'm supposed to be working.
inudge
You can build up quite decent-sounding sound assemblies, very quickly and easily.
undyingking: (Default)
I could happily spend hours playing with this. But won't, as I'm supposed to be working.
inudge
You can build up quite decent-sounding sound assemblies, very quickly and easily.
undyingking: (Default)
As a follow-up to this post of the other week about Google Translate, here's an interesting study comparing the results of Google, Babelfish and Bing translation to and from various languages.

The conclusions:
  • Google is uniformly preferred for longer text samples;
  • You might think Google's statistical approach would be strongest for commonest-translated (ie. Western European) languages, but no;
  • Old-school rules-based translation seemed to work best for Far Eastern languages;
  • Shorter lengths uniformly weaken the preference for Google;
  • The preferred translator for A->B is not always preferred for B->A.


Edit: changed "now" to "not" in last sentence. Oops.
undyingking: (Default)
As a follow-up to this post of the other week about Google Translate, here's an interesting study comparing the results of Google, Babelfish and Bing translation to and from various languages.

The conclusions:
  • Google is uniformly preferred for longer text samples;
  • You might think Google's statistical approach would be strongest for commonest-translated (ie. Western European) languages, but no;
  • Old-school rules-based translation seemed to work best for Far Eastern languages;
  • Shorter lengths uniformly weaken the preference for Google;
  • The preferred translator for A->B is not always preferred for B->A.


Edit: changed "now" to "not" in last sentence. Oops.
undyingking: (Default)
I was expecting the Is the BNP racist? site to be along the lines of Has the LHC destroyed the Earth? – but no, instead it's an attempt to wrest the top Google spot for that question from the BNP's own apologia page.

So not really very funny, but worth linking to I think -- maybe you will do so too.
undyingking: (Default)
Sprixi is a new search engine for public-domain and commercially-usable-creative-commons images. it mostly draws from Flickr and some sort of PD clipart source, so it's not like Google Images, but it has the great advantage that you can use (sometimes with appropriate credit) everything you see. And the interface is very nicely usable: much much better than Google Images.

[Poll #1504725]
undyingking: (Default)
(Also known as, closing some tabs.)
  • Democracy Club -- an organization formed to help make the next UK general election more open and accountable, by crowdsourcing info. Affiliated with mySociety and other such. I've signed up -- recommend you do so too, if you are concerned about our political system and want to do more than just whinge.
  • Emails from Crazy People -- what it says. Some are funnier than others.
  • FlickrPoet -- enter the text of a poem (or any text really), it grabs images form Flickr to illustrate it. Can be quite thought-provoking, or at least mildly distracting. A neat implementation of a simple idea.
  • LJ statistics -- I think only for people with paid-for accounts. A useful set of charts showing people viewing your journal (for real or via their friends' page), comments, RSS readers and so on. Not something I'd hugely missed before, but still nice to have it now.
  • Great Christmas decoration -- on Snopes, so you may have already seen it a squillion times. But I laughed.
  • Drench -- a clever, well-implemented Flash game. Warning: can be quite addictive. The design of the "gameishness" of it is not quite right, but the actual play is very good.
  • Dean Ashton retires -- a couple of weeks ago now, but I'm still brooding on it. Feeling sorry for him, but (selfishly) more so for West Ham, who have been robbed of a player who seemed likely to become a club great. A strong and wily targetman, deadly finisher from close and from medium range, and an extremely good provider / manufacturer of scoring opportunities for his teammates too. All he was lacking really was pace over the ground. I just hope we get sacks full of compensation from the FA, as it was in training for an England game that Shaun Wright-Phillips crocked him.
  • Boozecats -- what if cats were booze, or possibly vice versa? A strange idea, but it turns out to be quite visually appealing.
  • Visualizing and predicting prime numbers -- this is a really great data visualization, via the excellent Infosthetics blog. The idea of using it to predict primes is a bit hokey (compare the Wheel of Primes), but it looks terrific.
  • CYOA -- another one from Infosthetics, it includes a number of very visually appealing ways of diagramming a Chose Your Own Adventure, and a discussion of their structures.
  • Harry Keeler on plotting -- Keeler was a rather interesting mystery author of the mid-C20, responsible for such titles as The Case of the Two-Headed Idiot, I Killed Lincoln at 10:13!, The Crimson Cube and The Man with the Magic Eardrums. This article outlines his particular method of constructing what he called web-work plots, and the diagrams thereto. You can read some of his actual fiction here.
  • Oscar Wilde on The Soul of Man under Socialism -- a thought-provoking essay, reminding one that Wilde wasn't just an entertainer. Some questionable reasoning, but very readable of course.
  • Wordnik -- there are heaps of online dictionaries, but this is something different -- it includes recent tweets and Flickr postings, and lots of usage examples. OK, not really very useful, but great fun to browse.
Lots of fairly random stuff there! -- it'd be interesting to know which (if any) of it you found interesting yourself. Do please comment and say!

Predictify

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.
undyingking: (Default)
A maybe worthy project sure to interest some of you, it aims to collect info about indiepop bands, clubs, zines, labels, festivals, etc, both historical and current. Most are frankly pretty obscure -- if you look at this page and don't recognize a single name, you will I suspect be far from alone -- but no doubt none the worse for that.

I find it quite cheering clicking on the 'random page' link -- it's nice to know that there's all this indiepop lore out there, even though I'll never listen to (or even care about) 90+% of it.

If you get deeply motivated to contribute to it, do let me know.
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)
Would you like some delicious tasty vinegar in your beer? Don't knock it until you've tried it! Interesting experiment. The first result -- people liked the blind taste more than the idea -- is not surprising these days, we know people are prejudiced against such bizarre-sounding concepts. And the second result, that people liked the taste less if they knew vinegar was going to be in it, is only mildly surprising. But the third, that people still preferred it if they were told afterwards that vinegar was in it, I found remarkable. As the abstract puts it (my italics), "Disclosure of the secret ingredient significantly reduced preference only when the disclosure preceded tasting, suggesting that disclosure affected preferences by influencing the experience itself, rather than by acting as an independent negative input or by modifying retrospective interpretation of the experience."

Birmingham atheists and Wiccans under the council's cosh -- what I find surprising here is that the "system allows staff to look at websites relating to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and other religions". Why? Is this a common exception at workplaces that generally ban leisure Web use? If so, then clearly religious websites are the places to site your games. Surely it can't be that so many of the Council staff have work that involves religious sensitivity etc, they found it easier to make a blanket allowance?

Thomas Doyle makes what are basically snowglobes without (usually) the snow, but each depicts an enigmatic scene. Somehow one gets drawn into speculating who these people are, what they're doing here, etc. It's not obvious to me why I find these so appealing, which is a good sign in itself.

Farah Mendlesohn wrote this interesting essay about the Out of this World series of anthologies. These were pretty much my introduction to "proper" SF -- I read them out of the library, around the age of 11 -- for which I count myself rather lucky. She expresses very well what made them remarkable. I have to admit that at the time I didn't know quite what to make of the stories by Calvino etc that were included alongside the genre greats and Eastern European obscurities, but they all helped form me as an SF reader and gave me the important sense of the artificality of genre boundaries. I now want to track down the books, because there are a number of stoies mentioned here that I haven't seen since but remember loving.
undyingking: (Default)
A few things that have caught my eye recently:
  • BgPatterns is a terrific resource for generating background graphics. Choose your motif, colurs, canvas texture, rotation, scaling, opacity and basically every tweak you might reasonably need. Preview it live on the site, then save it locally as a jpg for your own use. Really nice implementation.
  • The Nietzche Family Circus is a small and silly idea, but an effective one. Pair a random Family Circus cartoon with a random Nietzche quotation, step back and admire. This is my favourite so far.
  • Essex have introduced what they grandly term Essex Cricket Television. The only clips up so far depict various Essex players humiliating hapless Yorkshiremen last Wed with bat and ball on a screen too small and low-res to identify players, devoid of context such as the current score, and in my case at least the sound wouldn't work. Well, it's a start I guess.
  • Rather better are Tim Hunkin's short films about the workings of slot machines in general, and his Under the Pier Show in particular.
undyingking: (Default)
Brilliant toy for generating simulated idiotic right-wing Have Your Say / other such comments.

"I read about this in the Daily Mail. IMO pathetic liberal institutions are terrorising our streets. All true brits should stop taking it lying down. This is a Christian countryw e must all have christian values!!"

or

"the bbc pretends its not true but im sick of the bloody liberal lefty whingers who are promoting yob culture because i am now ashamed of britain! it's time we bring back enoch powell. that would certainly cause a bit more care to be taken!!!"

I'm particularly impressed by the random typo inserter.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the comments thus generated are often more coherent than real ones.

Go on, paste your best examples into a comment here. Or write a genuine comment: will anyone be able to tell the difference? FACT!!!
undyingking: (Default)
  • PicAnswers is quite a fun idea, more for the spectator than the participant I suspect. The idea is that people submit photos of things they have questions about (mostly "What's this?"), and other people provide answers of more or less helpfulness. This is a good one. They're falling down though by not having an RSS feed of new picture postings, preferably a topic-configurable one.

  • [Poll #1138336]
  • Gmail accounts can now be made to automatically read any POP3 mailbox. As you can also read Gmail accounts with a POP3 email client, this opens up the possibility of routing all your email via Gmail to take advantage of its spam filters. But are its spam filters any good? My main accounts get several hundred messages per day, of which upwards of 90% are spams -- are any of you using Gmail for that sort of volume / spam ratio, and if so how is it for false positives / false negatives?
undyingking: (Default)
This is clever -- a "become a phisher" kit which includes its own rip-off component.

Misc

Dec. 5th, 2007 11:26 am
undyingking: (Default)
Various things that have caught my eye just lately:

  • Map of blondeness across Europe -- from [livejournal.com profile] strange_maps. Nothing very surprising revealed, but I think this is a really nice presentation of the information. Notable that eg. the division in England more or less follows the Danelaw boundary. I suspect some of this is guesswork though, I don't suppose all these countries keep hair colour data. (On the source site there's a similar one for light eye colour, which not surprisingly is fairly similar.)
  • Analysis by Google of the way that HTML is coded on "a sample of slightly over a billion documents". OK, this is only really going to be interesting if you write web pages yourself. Plenty of illuminating notes such as "Typos were quite common; the td element, for example, had more pages with widht, witdh, aling, valing, with, and heigth attributes than it had pages with headers attributes." and "There are more <o:p> elements (from Microsoft Office) on the Web than there are <h6> elements." And my favourite: "One conclusion one can draw from the spread of attributes used on the body element is that authors don't care about what the specifications say. Of these top twenty attributes, nine are completely invalid, and five have been deprecated for nearly eight years, half the lifetime of the Web so far."
  • The Culture Archive is basically a collection of old advertising pictures on various subjects. Here's the page about men's ties, and here's the page on beer.
  • Chipwrapper is a simple little app which just pulls the current top headline off all the main UK papers. (Currently mostly about the quaint affair of Mr John Darwin.) And there are variosu RSS feeds, etc, that you can pull off it for your particular needs.
  • "They say cameras add ten pounds, but HP digital cameras can help reverse that effect. The slimming feature, available on select HP digital camera models, is a subtle effect that can instantly trim off pounds from the subjects in your photos!" I was hoping there was something clever involved, but looking at the demo, it seems that they've just compressed the image horizontally. That really is quite pathetic!
  • I'm not sure if this is RSS talker or RS Stalker, but either way it's quite clever I think. It lets you set up an RSS feed to track the price of Amazon products. Which change much more frequently than you might think. No adverts, they don't even take any of your personal data -- their angle is that if you click through to buy the item from the feed, they get the affiliate fee, which seems fair enough. You can even have the RSS track your entire wishlist, if you tell them your email address.
undyingking: (Default)
I just had a brief email exchange with someone about the merits (or otherwise) of top-posting. The difference of opinion was such that I thought maybe I was going mad it would be a good idea to do a quick vox pop among you lot. So here goes!

[Poll #1085629]

Predictify

Oct. 31st, 2007 12:32 pm
undyingking: (Default)
Predictify is a newish thing relating to the wisdom of crowds, which longstanding readers might remember I posted a bunch of stuff about a couple of years back.

If you remember my Election Predictor, at the time people made some discussion along the lines that it would be more reliable if predictors were staking small sums of money on the reliability of the overall result, to make them more serious in their predictions. I thought this sounded good in theory, and of course there are plenty of sites where you can do exactly that with real money, but I didn't pursue how you could run it without effectively turning into a betting exchange / futures market.

Predictify though comes up with a solution, which is to use in-game reputation as the stake, with a clever structure of real-world reward underpinning it. And they've made it look a bit like fun, which is quite an achievement in itself.

I'll certainly be giving it a go, just to see if it really works or not. Anyone else interested?

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