cover design of the day

one of the best cover designs i have come across this month.
margaret mcmillan, uses and abuses of history [this is just about the cover. i do not know anything about the author or this particular book.]

recently noted quotes

i would rather eat tomatoes than listen to this. -- eren yigit [in response to kelly pickler's singing about red shoes. eren really dislikes tomatoes]

design with skepticism, and you will achieve resilience. -- michael t. nygard [release it! design and deploy production-ready software. - yes, this book is really very good.]

some people take pictures, i find them. -- jane bown [unknown bown]

who wants to go through life not ever singing? -- roger ebert [review of woody allen's everyone says i love you]

here are people we don't care about, doing things they do not understand, in a movie without any rules. triple play. -- roger ebert [review of "an american warewolf in paris"]

based on the evidence, the bible isn't scripture. it's a Rorschach test. -- solomon short

dtrace is the MRI of software. -- gil hauer

As long as ads are aimed at children, as long as luxury SUVs are presented as necessary, as long as the difference between "want" and "need" is blurred on purpose, I'll think of advertising as immoral. -- fraxas [on advertising]

People who brandish naturalistic principles at us are usually up to mischief. -- peter medawar [the future of man]

Philosophically, I believe the designer's goal involves making decisions for the user. If the decisions are good, it's a good design and the user is content. I do not believe it's the designer's goal to defer everything to the user. As a bonus, making decisions early tends to simplify the design. -- rob pike [9fans mailing list]

faith is the invisible means of support for a belief when reasons fall out from under it. -- austin dacey

unfortunately, consulting entrails has never been a reliable guide to truth, even when those entrails are your own. -- austin dacey [the secular conscience]

I DISLIKE YOU! -- anonymous canadian baseball fan [against detroit tigers pitcher]

An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below. -- Microsoft .NET Framework [another amusing and informative manifestation of enterprise-level public debugging infrastructure]


dealing with fatuous rhetoric

mike harding [hi x-boss!] at sun alumni blogs pointed to ethan at urbanspoon and made my day. do latte drinkers really vote for obama?
We could just assume all trust fund babies are sipping latte at Starbucks and refer to figure 1, but that wouldn't serve the interests of science. Instead, let's assume that trust fund babies have one thing in common, money, and look at how wealth stacks against voting habits.


looking for a notebook app

i have been looking for a good mac notebook applicaton for a long time. i have a set of requirements that may seem quite idiosyncratic; here are a few of them:
  • basic wiki/blog/etc. functionality [esp. markdown et al support] for simple structured writing [mac user, blogger]
  • emacs-grade editing capability for heavy lifting [oldtimer, unix hack]
  • good image support [photographer]
  • sketching, scribbling [designer, illustrator]
  • good indexing [eg. see circus ponies notebook], regex search [author]
  • good layout support [author]
  • organizational tools for content
clearly i do not need just a notebook; i need a strange hybrid. so far, i like circus ponies notebook as a comfortable compromise, though its lack of direct blogging support is forcing me to look for other tools. [my blog is just one of my notebooks, structured slightly better for public display.] i initially wrote this entry as a test from macjournal. [the result did not display correctly, alas; it was fixed using appzapper...]

[if any readers of this blog have some suggestions, other than write the app yourself, i would appreciate them]

[update: i have circus ponies notebook, and voodoopad pro now. they are both reasonable tools, with some nice ideas. on the other hand, neither tool impresses me all that much.]


daily rotfl: iso and ooxml

jason matusow of microsoft wrote:
I could make a very compelling argument that Open XML has done more to revive the reputation of international standards than any other standard before it.

i doubt such an argument can be made anywhere except in warm fantasies of those oblivious to decades of international standards work. a reasonable reading of the events, arguments and objections around this particular "standard" suggests iso's reputation, such as it was since the heady days of iso/osi, is worse off than before; there has been significant complaints that microsoft, consistent with its history of monopolistic aggressiveness, has abused the standards fasttrack process to push out a specification that it can manipulate to compete against a well-specified, open iso standard it does not like. [canada, i am proud to say, voted against this faux-standard precisely because of this]

being a microsoft toady is not the kind of reputation iso needs.


good books in the pile

an incomplete list of books from 07-08 i found entertaining, essential, edifying, exciting and sometimes exceptional.

Kluge: The Haphazard Construction Of The Human Mind

Predictably Irrational [i expect everyone knows dr. ariely by now...]

logolounge 4 [a logo designer has to keep up with these logo lounge collections. alas, the content is less innovative than one may expect.]

collective intelligence [very interesting book with some cool algorithms, and in python. sort of book numb3rs might publish...]

Refactoring to Patterns

Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter [masayuki miyata's paper cuts [kiri-e] make this book possibly the best edition out there. i wish it was in bigger format]

Venus on the Half-Shell and Others

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability [second edition.]

Toward the Light of Liberty: The Struggles for Freedom and Rights That Made the Modern Western World

Release It!: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software

Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life

Here Comes Everybody [hmm, i know some people called this a masterpiece, but i reserve that word for very, very special books. my initial impression is that this is a good solid piece of work, but not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.]

Flavor of the Month: Why Smart People Fall for Fads

Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought

The Age of American Unreason [robert fulford of national post called her a "demi intellectual" and wrote a lazy, lip-smacking critique of sorts, as befitting his paper: "To satisfy Jacoby, it's not enough to exhibit intelligence. It's necessary also to use that intelligence properly, to develop views closely resembling hers." first part of the sentence is priceless, never mind its degeneration into a slur afterwards.]

Dark Integers and Other Stories

Calendrical Calculations (3rd ed)


Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting [one of the most informative books on photographic lighting i have ever found.]

Influences: A Lexicon of Contemporary Graphic Design Practice

Silver Palate Cookbook 25th Anniversary Edition [you just have to have it. many years ago i discarded an early edition, now have it back with better photography...]

How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing

Cosmic Motors: Spaceships, Cars & Pilots of Another Galaxy

Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism

Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters [one of the best in this topic]

Who Rules in Science?: An Opinionated Guide to the Wars

Statistics as Principled Argument [MAGIC: magnitude, articulation, generality, interestingness, and credibility. required reading.]

Scientists Confront Creationism [insert picture of fish in a barrel]

[list extracted from my amazon [ca] and chapters orders, but all pointers on this blog are directed to barnes and noble [us]]