sneedle flipsock

5 november 2004: the page with no name

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This week:

New(ish) article: testing for the fun factor (and why Halo is so very playable


The unbearable weight of comprehension

Understanding why children were murdered en masse at that Beslan school: "...if you seek to add weight to your condemnation, the grim, almost unbearable weight of comprehension, then the reward is awareness of the root cause of a deeply barbarous act, the long chain of recent inhumanity that impelled the present inhumanity."

A study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project finds that "Wired Americans are more aware than non-internet users of all kinds of arguments, even those that challenge their preferred candidates and issue positions."

2 November 2004 | top of page


Education unions are threatening national strike action if the Federal Government pushes ahead with new workplace relations requirements for Australia's universities.

The British Science Museum created a web site to explain how modern technology was developed. Includes learning modules for high school students, profiles of people and things, and guided tours that follow themes through the historical collections.

2 November 2004 | top of page


Follow the instructions and learn how to do open-heart surgery: excellent educational animation from ABC Science Online. (Requires Flash/Shockwave and sound)

Is this why Homo floresiensis died out? ;-)

A "chief goal of modern creationism isn't really to persuade scientists. It's merely to be taken seriously by major publications and government figures; if creationists can manage to get invited to comment at a conference or in a magazine article, it allows them to "prove" to their flock that creationism is a serious, scientific rival theory to Darwinism. Merely being in dialogue with the scientific establishment gives them crucial street cred amongst their real audience, Christians." The American magazine "National Geographic" is having none of it.

"The Iraq War was supposed to be a preview of the new US military: a light, swift force that relies as much on sensors and communications networks as on heavy armor and huge numbers. But once the shooting started, technology fell far short of expectations." This article is published by "Technology Review", the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's magazine. In the 1960s MIT was criticised by some of its own academics, including Noam Chomsky, for accepting research funding from the US defence and armaments industry.

At this web site you can calculate almost anything: income tax, scaffolding requirements, calories, cost of raising a child, aquarium requisites, theatre lighting rigs...

Physics Web recently asked its readers to nominate the world's most beautiful equations. The winner was Euler's Identity Equation, which contains nine basic concepts of mathematics, once each, in a single expression.

2 November 2004 | top of page


"Among my corporate achievements the one I am quietly proudest of has been my ability to avoid my performance reviews," says Anna Candler. If you answer the questions honestly, you'll come across as either a stupid, self-effacing nobody or a self-promoting egomaniac.

Are you pre-emptive or a procrastinator? Either way, you’re abusing time.

The Federation of American Scientists publishes a regular newsletter of "informal coverage of new developments in secrecy, security and intelligence policies". Subscribe by email or RSS.

What role should your PR department play in supervising the content of staff members' corporate blogs?

Carefully designed, "a feedback system can short-circuit emerging disasters and soothe the ruffled feathers of [disgruntled] customers. It can accomplish this at sharply reduced costs vs conventional feedback mechanisms such as phone or snail mail." Bruce Tognazzini offers some guidelines.

"The particular driver (or drivers, since I suspect there's always more than one) of a company's innovation efforts determines how that company practices innovation. The 'fit' between the original innovation drivers, and the ways in which innovation is conducted at a particular company, in large part determines the outcome of the innovation."

2 November 2004 | top of page

Web and 'net

A conference last week in the US celebrated the 35th birthday of the Internet. What's Google got to do with it?

"Usability has a pretty impressive toolkit... contextual inquiries, think aloud testing, personas, interviews, focus groups, etc. So if someone hires a competent usability consultancy, they should expect mostly the same results as the next, right?" Well, it depends.

"Users prowl the Internet like lions on the savannah, hunting for information morsels, assessing prey for suitability before casting it aside... In this age of broadband, cached CSS files and lean code, web pages start to flash by as people devour them; their browsing instincts honed to a fine edge to seek out titles, anchors and keywords." Subtle changes to the layout, imagery and color of your web pages can also help. (thanks, Yun-Joo)

Notes from a British conference on optimising web sites so they can be found by search engines. Includes how Nokia uses metadata on its intranet and why Price Waterhouse Coopers took a "Rip it up and start again" approach to redeveloping its corporate web site.

Social software: a history of the term and the technology. It's been around longer than you might think.

More speculation about what Google is up to.

Here's the Geek Corps business plan: "To benefit from the Internet, you need geeks. There are few geeks in Africa. Geeks beget geeks. ('Geekery is one of the last apprenticeship industries') Geek + plane ticket = Geek in Africa." We need to spend on both plantains and PCs: the immediate issues of feeding people and building a connected economy.

2 November 2004 | top of page

Arts and letters

A fan used the "Star Wars Galaxies" computer game to make a music video for "Fallen" by Delirium. It won the 2004 Star Wars Galaxies Fan Film Contest, and you can download it and the other finalists. (Requires Windows Media Player and sound)

Blogging can make a writer seem less a hero, more a person. This is a good thing, reckons Neil Gaiman.

Biographies of 500 authors, plus lists of winners of the Booker, Pulitzer and Nobel literature prizes.

Draw your own Picasso-style portait, sign it and email it to a friend. (requires Shockwave)

Vincent van Gogh's letters, annotated and unabridged.

A history of locks and keys.

Six hundred of Aesop's fables, in English.

A small collection of freshly-minted Halloween tales.

2 November 2004 | top of page


If the Renaissance took place in more recent times, and the models were famous movie monsters/aliens, what would the artwork have looked like?

How to build your own Batphone.

Star Wars masks to print and wear.

Silly and funny: battle of the desktop icons. (requires Flash and sound) (thanks, Trevor)

Designing and programming computer games: 20 years ago it was all fun and games; now it's blood, sweat and code. Challenges for game developers include managing large, complex projects; tools and domain-specific requirements; workflow and multiplatform development; and expectations about depth of simulation, profiling and risk.

How popular was your name (in the United States) over the last century?

Darth Vader's psychic hotline. (Requires Quicktime, Real or Windows Media Player)

2 November 2004 | top of page


2004 flipsocks:

17 Dec: the sock has flipped
10 Dec: anything anywhere any time
3 Dec: instant flattery
26 Nov: the steamroller of branding
19 Nov: fried v rice
5 Nov: the page with no name
29 Oct: and then there were none
22 Oct: filled with naughty laughter
15 Oct: get souls and disconcert the public
8 Oct: ooh, aah, ooh
1 Oct: pinch and a punch
24 Sep: design is the new art
17 Sep: footsteps of Aeneas
10 Sep: slow art, viral aesthetic
3 Sep: I can see your house from here
27 Aug: forever blowing bubbles
20 Aug: jargon for the digital age
13 Aug: beautiful plumage, the Norwegian blue
6 Aug: brokenated terribility
23 Jul: Alice underground
16 Jul: color-coded
2 Jul: for so long treated as nouns
25 Jun: looking for love, echidna-style
18 Jun: joy-to-stuff ratio
11 Jun: fun's fun but a girl can't dance all night
4 Jun: pink dinosaur
28 May: two people every minute
21 May: incompitnce [sic]
14 May: zygomatic smile
5 May: mailbox
30 Apr: bananaguard
23 Apr: mmmmmWAH!
15 Apr: playtime
8 Apr: googlewhack
2 Apr: we wish to inform you...
18 Mar: daffy dills
12 Mar: echo chamber
9 Jan: refund profologies


Also on this site:

about this site
home page

who is geoffrey ebert?
testing for the fun factor
chicken at the (higher education) crossroads
crawford's theory of interactivity

home-page real-estate wars
the eagle has landed

must-reads for web people
recent reads

pop-culture quotes

they shoulda been words

lemon and rosemary risotto

Written In Blood by Chris Lawson
The Salmon of Doubt by Douglas Adams

Without whom (web):

frankenstein journal (Chris)
tbn97 (Troy)
webster's encyclopedia [sic]
science playwiths (Peter) (Neroli)
Maverick IT network consultants (Rick)
Look! There's a castle! (Brent)
Cairns Corporation (Gerald)
Homosapien Books (Julie and Bruce)
Southern Sky Watch (Ian)
Panda's Thumb (Ian again)
ABC Science-Matters (official)
science-matters (unofficial)
Bovios (Alex Burns)
Lee Battersby
Little Malop Gallery
Digest of Usability Resources and News (Dey)
WooWooWoo (Andrew)



Without whom (also):

Ramona P Lovechild
Katherine with a K
Katherine (no relation)
Claire (no relation)
Toby and Jann
Paul, Warren, Dr K and The New Reality


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. Site created 30 May 1999. Home page URL