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Archive for July, 2009

The best security advice you could ever get from IT

2009/07/29 Comments off

boston_inaditch

Pretty standard boiler-plate until you get to:

If shelter is not available, lie flat in a ditch or other low-lying area. Do not get under an overpass or bridge. You are safer in a low, flat location.

Uuurrghhh… pffft. My head just exploded from teh awesomeness of this advice. At the next bug report, I will duck and cover. With the kit that I made for cyber emergencies—two cans and some string, a tin of caffeinated mints, a megaphone (because I’ve always wanted to respond to “I am on the phone” with “But I am on the megaphone” like Beth from NewsRadio and because that is the closest analog twitter equivalent), and my two plush microbe brain cells. You never know when you’ll need two to rub together.

via The Tumblings of Kev

Biofilm

2009/07/29 Comments off

Um, does the thought of the surface of the ocean as some previously unknown biofilm freak anyone else out? I mean, if it’s on the ocean, why wouldn’t it be on every lake? I jumped in those lakes and the ocean. Granted, there are biofilms everywhere, but still. At least it doesn’t sound nearly as gross as the algae blooms and fertilizer slicks that pollute the reservoirs around here. Ugh.

Just goes to show how much is left to learn.

Categories: environment, Science Tags: ,

I think I worked with these guys.

2009/07/28 Comments off
mockups_cartoon

via swissmiss

Mother of the flying spaghetti monster, this describes I a guy I used to work with. Except it seemed to be more an excuse to bail later—look we already have this other site, the mockup site, ready, why bother to do the actual site? Terrifying.

Categories: Design Tags: , ,

I might tape this to my door

2009/07/27 Comments off

One reason programmers dislike meetings so much is that they’re on a different type of schedule from other people. Meetings cost them more.

[…]

For someone on the maker’s schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn’t merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work.
via Paul Graham

Now I have the words to describe to my coworkers why having meetings at 10, 1 and 3 pretty much means I’ll get very little done. Get everything booted up, remember where you were yesterday, check the time, gather up everything you need for the meeting. Meet. Return to office, rehash what happened and what we need to do. Go to lunch (or far more likely, eat lunch at desk while trying to find a solution to bug or design question). Check the time, gather everything up for the next meeting. Meet. Return to office, check email, gather everything up for next meeting. Meet. Return to office, check email, shut everything down. Go home.

Of course, what that means is that the next day I’ll have to remember what I was doing and why not the day before but two days before. You’ll note also that there was really no mention of coding in there. Which isn’t entirely true since little bits of coding occur throughout the day, but not the kind of focused detail work that most projects require.

Categories: Coding Tags: ,

Science illiteracy to the Nth degree

2009/07/26 Comments off

From a trailer for the new season of It’s Always Funny in Philadelphia:

Dennis: How is burning trash green?

Charlie: I could stick it in a land fill where it could stay for million years or I could burn it up and let it disappear into the sky where it turns into stars.

Mac: That doesn’t sound right, but I don’t know enough about stars to dispute it.

At least Mac’s willing to admit what he doesn’t know.

Although it does sort of bring up a point about access to science in a tangential way. Even if we all agree that science coverage in the local papers is not great, at least it mentions science. So starting from that, if we take my current place of residence as an example, the population is 250,000 and the subscription rate is around 90,000 for the local paper. So less than 50% of the folks don’t even get the paper (and no you really can’t assume that they are reading it online; I do and you would never know that they ever report any science anything from the website). We could assume as well that some of these people are not watching science-themed TV either and that even if they get the paper, they are not reading the science-y bits. So where are they getting information about current science? Or even basic science? How do you connect with those people? Should you be trying to force science at people whose day to day concern is food and housing? And you can’t ignore that segment of the population (do I need to say environmental justice); to do that would lead to the core of so many futuristic dystopias involving the haves vs. the have-nots, just provide the what. At the end of the day, it gets back to improving the standard of living first (sustainably we’d hope) and then moving on to other things.

It’s not that I demand that everyone knows how a star is made or anything. Maybe we just need to replace some of what people consider common sense with some actual sense.

Now this is an aquarium

2009/07/22 Comments off

The second largest tank in the world, the Kuroshio Sea tank in Okinawa:

Kuroshio Sea

Kuroshio Sea

See, if my earlier aquarium experience had been more like this, it would have been better. I know they said is was the largest aquarium tunnel deal around (which doesn’t mean that the air space was large), but that just made it crowded and cramped and you couldn’t enjoy anything because there was an elbow in your back and a handbag in your face. And, look, fish schooling without being forced in a tube. Remarkable what nature does, you know, on its own. Part of what makes this look so inviting is that there are lights! But maybe the light should be dimmer for deep sea critters? I don’t know. Just go watch some video of the aquarium.

Why raindrops are different sizes

2009/07/21 Comments off

This is the sort of thing that keeps me up nights. Seriously.

Anyway, hooray for science, the riddle is solved:

Basically, the drop flattens out and then starts to deform like a bubble. That pops into different sized droplets. At least for larger drops. We are still at a loss for drizzle and finer rain. But, hey, all of the universe’s riddles can’t be solved with a high speed camera. If you want to see it in action, the story has a video of the process that’s pretty sweet.

Categories: Science Tags: ,