• "As serious intellectuals often do, we spent hours discussing these questions, what data we would want to collect to answer them, and even how we might go about collecting it. It sounded like a fun project, so I wrote a program that takes video captures of our Mario Kart 64 sessions and picks out when each race starts, which character is in each box on the screen, the rank of each player as the race progresses, and finally when the race finishes. Then I built a web client that lets us upload videos, record who played which character in each race, and browse the aggregated stats. The result is called Kartlytics, and now contains videos of over 230 races from over the last year and change." Yes, it's a plug for manta, but it's also a nifty piece of engineering.
  • "Termshows are purely text based. This makes them ideal for demoing instructions (as the user can copy-paste), making fail-safe "live-coding" sessions (plain text is very scalable), and sharing all your l33t terminal hacks." Really lovely: record terminal activity, upload it to a URL, share it with others, dead simple. And the client playback is all javascript. Lovely.
  • "jq is like sed for JSON data – you can use it to slice and filter and map and transform structured data with the same ease that sed, awk, grep and friends let you play with text." Sounds super-useful.
  • "His base is too good, and I don’t have the choke. He proceeds to take a more dominant position, scores points, and my body is burning from the effort. The choke he applies toward the end of the match is almost a formality, since I’m far too tired to do much more than hang on. Second place. Second place because I’m learning the triangle choke, not learning Jiu Jitsu. Chipp never wins tournaments." A fantastic piece of writing, about beat-em-ups and combat sports, and the mindset you get into as you play both. I'm not a combat sports man, but it nails some of the inside of your brain when you've played a lot of beat-em-ups, for sure.
  • "But to my eye, GIF is the most popular animation and short film format that's ever existed. It works on smartphones in millions of people's pockets, on giant displays in museums, in web browsers on a newspaper website. It finds liberation in constraints, in the same way that fewer characters in our tweets and texts freed us to communicate more liberally with one another. And it invites participation, in a medium that's both fun and accessible, as the pop music of moving images, giving us animations that are totally disposable and completely timeless."
  • "My wife and I talk about this. We talk about the protocol of the fertility clinic. We talk about her support group, and failure to produce. We talk about adoption, which is expensive and ambiguous. We talk about giving up on the process and living our lives without the ghosts of unconceived children (the most adorable ghosts there are). We talk, and talk, and wait." Powerful, sad, brave writing from Paul Ford. Sometimes, you wish things were nice for the good people in the world.
  • "I needed to get up to speed with doing recursive node structures so I coded up a project that would put a dot on the screen. When you tapped this dot, it would create a bunch of orbiting child-dots. These children could also be tapped, creating even more child nodes. This prototype took less than a day to create and I naively thought we would be done with the whole thing in a week, max. Silly me."

    Marvellous, dense post from Robert on designing Planetary: lots of show-everything, material exploration, and plussing. What detail looks like.

  • "Years later, when recounting his conversations with Beckett (which he did often), André the Giant revealed that they rarely talked about anything besides cricket."
  • "In this scenario one sunny day you're working on low-level NoSQL projects at the Gootch or wherever, and you get an email from Facebook and you go for the interview and Zuckerberg is talking about scaling PHP and suddenly pauses, gets this look in his eye, pulls his hoodie over his head and says “You have sixty seconds. You should be running.” Because engineers, as we are often reminded, are the ultimate prey."
  • "A problem with the human mind – your human mind – is that it's a horrific kludge that will fail when you most need it not to. The Ugh Field failure mode is one of those really annoying failures. The idea is simple: if a person receives constant negative conditioning via unhappy thoughts whenever their mind goes into a certain zone of thought, they will begin to develop a psychological flinch mechanism around the thought. The "Unhappy Thing" – the source of negative thoughts – is typically some part of your model of the world that relates to bad things being likely to happen to you."
  • "Designers get handed a tool kit that has as many tools as a good swiss army knife, and the maps reflect these tools. Millions of people use them to make appointments across town, find restaurants, and drive home for the holidays.

    But what if, instead of a swiss army knife, we used a box of crayons? Or charcoal and newsprint? Or play-doh? What would those maps look like? What could they tell us about the world?"

  • "One thing that I learned during the launch of the original Macintosh in 1984 was that the press usually oversimplifies everything, and it can't deal with the reality that there are many people playing critical roles on significant projects. A few people always get too much credit, while most people get too little, that's just the way it has always worked. But luckily, it's 2011 and I can use the service that I helped to create to clarify things." This is Good And Proper. (Also it's good management).
  • How ads used to be made. Some beautiful photographs here.
  • Useful notes on the modern way of deploying Rails applications with Bundler and Capistrano.
  • '"The expectation is slightly weird here, that you can do this stuff without killing yourself," added McNamara. "Well, you can't, whether it's in London or New York or wherever; you're competing against the best people in the world at what they do, and you just have to be prepared to do what you have to do to compete against those people."'

    This is what McNamara considers responding to controversy. I'm furious that men like this are allowed to manage other human beings.

  • "This is an atlas, then, made by that other nature, seen through other eyes. But those eyes have been following me, unseen and without permission, and thus I consider provoking breach a necessary act." This is good.
  • "csvkit is a library of utilities for working with CSV, the king of tabular file formats." Ooh.
  • "Synapse is an app for Mac and Windows that allows you to easily use your Kinect to control Ableton Live, Quartz Composer, Max/MSP, and any other application that can receive OSC events. It sends joint positions and hit events via OSC, and also sends the depth image into Quartz Composer. In a way, this allows you to use your whole body as an instrument." Oooh. OSC into anything; really nice, dead simple, and exactly the sort of thing I've been considering poking.
  • "This is all very preliminary, but here is a first pass as a Processing Kinect library." Ooh.
  • Trap streets – yes, of course. But trap rooms; trap architectures? That's iiinteresting.
  • "Bookland is a fictitious country created in the 1980s in order to reserve a Unique Country Code (UCC) prefix for EAN identifiers of published books, regardless of country of origin, so that the EAN space can catalog books by ISBN rather than maintaining a redundant parallel numbering system." Awesome. Via Kim (who else?)
  • "This tutorial assumes no previous knowledge of scripting or programming, but progresses rapidly toward an intermediate/advanced level of instruction . . . all the while sneaking in little nuggets of UNIX® wisdom and lore. It serves as a textbook, a manual for self-study, and a reference and source of knowledge on shell scripting techniques. The exercises and heavily-commented examples invite active reader participation, under the premise that the only way to really learn scripting is to write scripts." Really good stuff, which Nick pointed me at this morning when I revealed I couldn't write bash scripts.
  • And, with their 119th update, Valve helpfully included the list of all their previous patches, as well. Just look at the amount that's changed – and how swiftly. A proper, living game (unlike the stillborn 360 version). Can't wait to play it on the Mac; it's almost like a different game to the one I played at the beginning.
  • "Ben Gimpert is a friend of the Open Library. He and I got together over lunch a few months ago to talk about big data, statistical natural language processing, and extracting meaning from Open Library programmatically. His efforts are beginning to bear some really interesting fruit, and while we work out how we might be able to present it online, we thought you might be interested to hear what he’s been up to." Answer: good things. Ben is awesome, and this work sounds great. (I can't quote a suitable passage, so George's intro will have to do).
  • A few short tips on find; one of the bash tools I use least, and should probably use more.
  • "Diller, Brill, and Murdoch seem be stating a simple fact—we will have to pay them—but this fact is not in fact a fact. Instead, it is a choice, one its proponents often decline to spell out in full, because, spelled out in full, it would read something like this: “Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, or else we will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.”"
  • "It may be a little hidden but Git actually comes with auto completion, you just have to set it up." I did not know that. Useful!
  • "The program seeks to accommodate up to 15 students who are considered "at-risk for dropping out or poor performance in core classes", focusing on themes such as literacy and writing, mathematics, 21st-Century technology skills, leadership, and more. The site argues that students who are considered "at-risk" usually haven't reached that point because they lack the capacity to learn, but because school no longer holds any relevance to them or it bores them…" …and so it uses WoW to provide them with relevant usage-examples of the subjects they need to get better at. Not entirely convinced, but interesting that they're using a wiki to collate lesson ideas/plans.
  • "In the case of European Air War, what management wanted was a very cool game to sell that customers would love. What the lead programmer did was present it to them so that they could see, clearly, that this was exactly what they had on their hands already. They, too, were having trouble digging through all those details and seeing the big picture." Lovely story about the importance of presentation on any kind of project.
  • "Being a light-hearted look at the world of story and writing in games." Written by Richard Cobbett, it's quite a lot of fun. And he's played Realms of the Haunting, too. Awesome.