24 December 2008
With global warming at the door, here's a wishing for you with all the warmth of the season. May joy and happiness snow on you, may the bells jingle for you and may Santa be extra good to you! Hope to see all of you spread the joys of this jolly time of the year among your family and friends. Merry Christmas!
22 December 2008
17 December 2008
The first caveman didn't fight dinosaurs with a bag of lithium in his hand, he had a spear! He used his brain on how he could out wit the dinosaur and capture it for a feast. Studies do not prove that medication even works properly but one thing it does for certain is that it hooks you. Once you take that medication and continue it you need a long period of detoxification to completely free yourself. Click here to continue reading..
20 November 2008
Oh sure, you may sit there nodding smugly but when you think about it - how well do we really know the world? Many probably know about the popular American TV show, "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth-Grader?" - but I think fifth graders are so overrated in an age of information and technology where even 2-year-olds can use the Internet. Without going any further click here to take this quick quiz and see how many countries you can you name in under 5 minutes, then come back to this post. On the other hand, keep reading if you are scared.
Alright, here is a world map that could refreshen your minds. Now are you ready to take the quiz?
With all due respect to the less worldly among us, though, kids are pretty darn smart when it comes to the world we share with several billion others. For instance, how would you stack up against a cute, 2-year-old, map reading wonder named Lilly? Check out this video in which the budding scholar shows off her vast geographic knowledge:
Pretty impressive, huh? She now knows over 80 countries. So whaddya think, can you do better than li'l Lilly? Keep in mind, she had no trouble pointing out island nations you might only know if you were Survivor fans. Perhaps you think she was "specially trained" for this or that she is exceptional and just a one off phenomenon. Wait till you see Krish, another 2-year-old geography whiz kid, who can name up to 90 to 100 countries when their flags are pointed out:
Astounding isn't it? There are many more videos of young brains out there, but I digress, time to share a few fast facts about our ever more multinational globe:
- There are 195 official countries in the world.
- 45 nations are landlocked, ie having no seacoast.
- 44 nations in the world are officially monarchies.
- The United Nations charter was ratified in 1945 by its 51 members.
- English was an official language in 87 nations and territories by 1994.
Now that your brain cells are juiced, it's time to get jetpunked. According to Jetpunk, the average score is 53, which doesn't sound like a lot afterall. Remember, you've got 5 minutes to name as many countries as you can and you've got to spell them correctly. 300 seconds.. not a lot of time to name a lot of countries, but hey - there've been 14 editions of Survivor so you're 7 percent there already. You can do it!
So, how did you score up this time? Still not good enough? Then I guess it's time you watch this video:
Written by Steve Levenstein, sponsored by Jetpunk.
11 November 2008
08 November 2008
Irregardless, could you care less? A bunch of Oxford researchers got together and compiled a list of the Top 10 most irritating expressions in the English language. "The scholars in question keep track of linguistic mangling and overused buzzwords in a database called the Oxford University Corpus. The voluminous record keeps track of books, magazines, broadcast, online media and other sources, watching for new overused, tiresome phrases and retiring those that fade from use (or misuse)." Here is the Top 10 list they came up with:
10. It's not rocket science
8. Shouldn't of
7. It's a nightmare
5. With all due respect
4. At this moment in time
3. I personally
2. Fairly unique
1. At the end of the day
In your opinion, what are the most irritating phrases in English?
29 October 2008
24 October 2008
Digital images of a "falling star" or a "shooting star" shows that it actually has nothing at all to do with a star! These amazing streaks of light you can sometimes see in the night sky are caused by tiny bits of dust and rock, in other words, meteoroids, falling into the Earth's atmosphere and burning up. The short-lived trail of light the burning meteoroid produces is called a meteor. If any part of the meteoroid survives burning up and actually hits the Earth, that remaining bit is then called a meteorite.
At certain times of year, you are likely to see a great number of meteors in the night sky. These events are called meteor showers and they occur when the Earth passes through the trail of debris left by a comet as it orbits the Sun. These showers are given names based on the constellation present in the sky from which they appear to originate. For example, the Leonid Meteor Shower, or Leonids, appear to originate in the constellation Leo. It is important to understand that the meteoroids (and therefore the meteors) do not really originate from the constellations or any of the stars in the constellations, however. They just seem to come from that part of the sky because of the way the Earth encounters the particles moving in the path of the comet's orbit. Associating the shower name with the region of the sky they seem to come from just helps astronomers know where to look!
The dust and rocks that cause meteor showers come primarily from the Earth passing through the debris stream left behind by a comet as it orbits the Sun. Usually, the Earth's orbit and the comet's orbit are slightly tilted relative to one another. So the paths only intersect on one side!
|Name||When They Occur|
|April Lyrids||April 19-24|
|Eta Aquarids||May 1-8|
|Delta Aquarids||July 15- August 15|
|Perseids||July 25 - August 18|
|Taurids||October 20-November 30|
Note that one of the best meteor showers, the Perseids, happens in August. "Peak time" is when you are likely to see the largest number of meteors per hour. It occurs in the middle of August and it can be quite spectacular to see!
22 October 2008
In compiling past and current research, it has been determined that thousands of identified animal species have demonstrated homosexual behavior. "Homosexuality has been observed in more than 1,500 species, and the phenomenon has been well described for 500 of them," according to Petter Bockman, project coordinator of the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum's exhibition display. "Against Nature?" Let's look at some specific examples.
Monkeys (both Old World and New World) use sex as a tool to solve struggles between each other. Unlike humans, they do not have any sexual taboos; nor are they concerned with age or numbers of partners. The only practice that is "disallowed" are sexual unions between mother and son.
It appears as though almost all Bonobos (Pigmy Chimpanzees) are bisexual. They mate like wild and they commonly express their joy by screeching. 66 percent of all females partake in active homosexual relationships.
The females of Japanese Macaque packs have strong connections between each other and during mating seasons they accompany each other as temporary lesbian partners. They demonstrate the sexual bonding between each other and then chuckle to show that they have received pleasure. Male macaques also perform homosexual acts but not among other pairs. They prefer one-night stands. They are male after all! =)
Although it may be hard to believe, American Bisons perform more homosexual intercourse than heterosexual intercourse. The females only have a relationship once when they are on heat, but bulls have homosexual sex multiple times during this period and mating among young males is 55 percent more likely to be with other males.
Homosexuality is also apparent among dolphins. The Bottlenose Dolphin is known as a species which experiences a homosexual period of time and is reputed for this characteristic. Males have oral sex between each other: one dolphin caresses the other dolphin’s penis with his nose and they also rub their penises upon each others’ body.
Homosexual behavior is equally common among Giraffes and they even stroke each others necks for 1 hour before mounting each other. It has been observed that %5 of male Giraffes partake in homosexual activity at any given time.
Kob Antelopes experience lesbian sex twice every hour (wow!) and 8 percent of their activities during mating is homosexual orientated. One female approaches the other female from behind and touches the other female by lifting her leg between the other antelope’s legs.
25 percent of all Australian Black Swans are homosexual and the activities between such pairs can last years. During this period a male may partner another female but then the other male may chase her away after she has laid her eggs. Sometimes homosexual couples may steal the eggs of heterosexual couples or even claim the nest for their own.
Additionally, Walruses have a time frame when they are involved in homosexual activities. When males reach the age of 4, they reach sexual maturity and up to that time may have experienced many homosexual encounters. Older males are bisexual
because they mount females during mating season and spend the rest of the year in homosexual endeavors. Not only do they rub their bodies against each other; they hug and fall asleep together.
Amongst male Grey Whales, homosexual orgies (group sex) are quite common: 5 or so partners perform sliding movements, race around each other, squirt water and rub their penises against each other.
A surprise awaited scientists most prominently in the activities of the beautifully colored Guianan Cock of the Rock which lives in the mountains of South America. Almost 40 percent of males were homosexual and only a few of them mated with females.
When asked why animals engage in homosexual behavior and/or activity, Linda Wolfe, head of East Carolina University's Department of Anthropology replied, "You can make up all kinds of stories: Oh it's for dominance, it's for this, it's for that, but when it comes down to the bottom I think it's just for sexual pleasure."
20 October 2008
19 October 2008
What is the meaning of open source software freedom? The interesting thing is that these open source software are written by many people without any expectations (financial at least). I'm starting to think that so many people from so many different countries have never before actively cooperated and shared like this before.
There is a site called Ohloh which can be seen as a portal that follows the progress of open source software. Usually every open source project is accompanied by interesting statistics and predictions.
These statistics shows how many lines a code is composed of, how many active developers there are, what language the software was written in and many more bits of information. Yet I find the prediction part most interesting. This prediction shows what the total cost would be if the project was re-made from scratch. This prediction is based on the COCOMO model. The predictions showed many compelling values. Moreover these predictions imply that developers should gain a yearly income of 55.000 dollars!
Here are some total costs of some of the most popular open source projects so far
- Mozilla Firefox: $830.000
- Apache HTTP Server: $2.983.791
- Linux Kernel (Seed Only): $177.004.094
- PHP: $25.023.881
- Open Office: $138.706.367
- GIMP: $19.527.651
- VLC Media Player: $7.163.299
- GNOME: $285.322.119
- KDE: $66.999.594
- MediaWiki (The software behind Wikipedia): $16.792.050
- Wordpress: $1.108.448
- Blender: $31.507. 688
- Debian GNU/Linux: $334.229.025
- Pardus: $19.195.422
We must not forget that these software are only a chosen few. Hence the tip of the iceberg. I think this is very profound situation. What do you think?
17 October 2008
The cultural production is overwhelmed with the discussion on intellectual property and piracy. That's actually true only to a certain extend. The cultural production of the intangibles is, but the design of the tangibles is not. So far. The architects and product designers does not suffer from insomnia for the reasons that some musicians and filmmakers do (not to mention all the international music and film corporations, but some of the artists on the other hand take advantage of the situation just quite great. Examples are all the musicians at Jamendo as well as creators of The Corporation.
Unfortunately designers' calmness might not last too long. What if you wake up one day to find out that the virtual model of your newly finished building (or just marketed piece of furniture) is available to be downloaded for free at Bit Torrent and it was downloaded few thousands times already? Some would say that you should be quite happy. It's a good design - few thousand downloads in few hours in not a common thing. But I wouldn't be surprised if you would feel the opposite asking where the heck will I get money from now?
Microsoft's Photosynth might herald a whole new kind of debate in the design world. It's an online software (for Windows only) which creates a 3d virtual model out of a set of pictures in order to display as a continuous 3d scene. The direction of it's development might however become focused on the 3d model itself. "Synths constitute a whole new kind of trouble", one might say, but only if he or she is not familiar with the channels of cultural production suitable to web 2.0. The mistake of intellectual property holders of the intangibles should not be repeated in relation to the tangibles. The designers need to begin with licensing under CC and publishing work in order to harness collaboration, so that it simply doesn't make much sense to copy it illegally from the 3d model/photo.
We should simply chase the technology advancement with adaptation of our business model. Since Kurzweil, we know that technology develops exponentially. It might not be an easy thing to do, but it also means that we should start doing it right now. Some companies such as Ponoko are working to achieve this goal (and there are even companies like Genometri, who specialize in online design solutions), but my point is that we need a much broader debate starting at the arts and design universities (to which, as far as I know the topic is yet completely unknown).
Article by Michal Piasecki. Michal writes many times a week about design in the era of Web 2.0. Submit your thoughts - click here!
16 October 2008
Finding an apartment in one of the world's most expensive cities is a grave matter, but some savvy renters in Tokyo have more than a ghost of a chance of finding prime digs – they seek to rent where someone else bought the farm. Imagine lying awake at night in your new apartment, restless and not yet accustomed to the usual night noises. Your mind drifts, then settles on the great deal you got on this place – and WHY you got it. A creak; a sigh; is it just the evening breeze, or something more sinister?
If you're not an insomniac now, living where a suicide - or worse, a murder - has occurred just might make you one. The flip side? Who needs sleep when you're paying only ¾ of what you normally would?
The so-called suicide discount is an unwritten rule adhered to by most Tokyo real estate agents and doubtless by realtors worldwide. In Japan at least, the law compels real estate agents to make potential tenants aware if a death occurred in the unit being offered. One small catch is that the law applies only when the unfortunate event concerned the occupant immediately previous, but as one realtor admitted, "Even if we didn’t, neighbors would certainly tell new residents about the gruesome details."
While few people can completely shrug off the fact their new abode has a questionable history, it's likely everyone expects a substantial cut in their rent as a result. "I definitely agree that there is a suicide discount," stated a local Tokyo real estate agent. "Late last year we bought an apartment for a client where the previous owner had committed suicide. In this case the discount over normal market prices was about 25% even though the apartment had been completely remodeled and a purification ceremony had been held by the local shrine." Seems like Tokyoites have more faith in the power of the yen than in the local ghostbusters!
One curious point brought up by a Tokyo real estate company owner was that young women are the most typical renters of apartments with shady histories. "Men, rather than women, tend to be superstitious and think the place will be haunted by the victim or something," he stated. Women are also well-connected with the online real estate scene. "They exchange information on the availability of such places and what the rent is likely to be with each other online."
I don't know about you, but nothing says "bad karma" more than moving into an apartment whose last resident dies un-naturally. It's a plot used in many a movie, most recently "1408" the number of a horrid hotel suite where 56 met their deaths, one after another in the grisliest of manners.
Save money? I'd prefer to save my life.
Article by Steve Levenstein from Inventor Spot. Submit your thoughts - click here!
15 October 2008
We are pleased to announce that we overcame the technical difficulties and are back to regular publishing of posts on eccentric topics. As you might already know, we've also been publishing interesting posts from guest thinkers in the past such that The Thinking Blog went multi-author about 10 months ago. One of our regular contributors, Steve Levenstein, who also happens to be the Japanese Innovations Writer at InventorSpot, is now an Associate Editor here at TTB - bringing the craziest ideas from where else but Japan!
Here is Steve in his own words:
I live in Canada and I’m married to a lovely and charming Japanese woman. Between our visits to Japan, watching Japanese TV at home and listening to my wife for more than 15 years, I’ve really gained an appreciation for the many ways Japan is different from the rest of the world.
Some of the best things about Japan and Japanese culture, though, are their embrace of modern technology and the effortless way they have made the latest gadgets & gizmos a part of their daily lives. Especially interesting are the ways that Japanese sensibilities have affected the design of the gadgets, such as the need for “cuteness” and, as you well know, the power of high status as exemplified in “Born Rich”.
Stay tuned for his new post tomorrow and let's all welcome Steve to his new 'second' home at TTB!
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13 October 2008
27 September 2008
20 August 2008
07 August 2008
Botanically, a tomato is the ovary, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant: therefore it is a fruit or, more precisely, a berry. However, the tomato is not as sweet as those foodstuffs usually called fruits and, from a culinary standpoint, it is typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal, as are vegetables, rather than at dessert in the case of most fruits. As noted above, the term "vegetable" has no botanical meaning and is purely a culinary term.
This argument has had legal implications in the United States. In 1887, U.S. tariff laws that imposed a duty on vegetables but not on fruits caused the tomato's status to become a matter of legal importance. The U.S. Supreme Court settled the controversy in 1893 by declaring that the tomato is a vegetable, based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, that they are generally served with dinner and not dessert (Nix v. Hedden (149 U.S. 304)). The holding of the case applies only to the interpretation of the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, and the court did not purport to reclassify the tomato for botanical or other purposes other than paying a tax under a tarriff act.
Due to the scientific definition of a fruit, the tomato remains a fruit when not dealing with US tariffs. Nor is it the only culinary vegetable that is a botanical fruit: eggplants, cucumbers, and squashes of all kinds (such as zucchini and pumpkins) share the same ambiguity. [source]
Editor's Note: Tomato is a great source of Vitamin C with 100 grams (3.5 oz) containing 13mg, serving 22% of daily intake recommendation for adults. Speaking of personal experience, when I get the common cold I eat two mid-sized tomatos -- instantly my nose stops running and I get well (miracoulously) the next day. Highly recommended
fruit vegetablewhatever it is!
BONUS: Caption me! =)
20 July 2008
07 July 2008
Is the ultimate brand, no brand at all? It may seem strange, but in this world of pervasive advertising and relentless globalization a quiet movement is underway that rejects distinctive branding in favor of pure, unadulterated design. In Sweden, there is IKEA. In Canada, No Frills. In Japan there is Muji. What these three companies have in common is, outwardly at least, a single "no brand" for all the products they sell. Surely they are brands themselves. However, at the end of the day, the product comes first and foremost.
For example, No Frills' products maintain distinct design ethos: black on yellow with a set type face, regardless of the type of product. Taco mix, tuna cans and tapioca pudding are all very different on the inside yet outwardly they look the same – first among equals. Even the shopping carts at No Frills are yellow! What the "no brand" revolution seeks to project is a concept that establishes a brand from within.
Muji has arguably been the most successful in pushing their brandless agenda – the company sells pretty much everything a homeowner needs, even (in Japan) the home itself! Every Muji item possesses a common... well, Muji-ness. Here's how Muji itself frames their image: "Muji's natural and simple design proposes rational lifestyles for today's world." Muji products embody "the confident awareness that modesty and discretion are, together, the better part of style."
What exactly does that mean, in plain words? Muji products are simple, yet not plain. Neither are they cheap or cheesy. They're designed to perform their function smoothly and efficiently without distraction. Therefore, the design is primal, timeless, light, uncluttered. They do not depend on added decorative flair nor obtrusive detailing just for the sake of reinforcing a bespoke brand identity.
Muji's lead designer, Naoto Fukasawa, labels (pardon the pun) the aesthetic "Supernormal," with a deliberate nod given to the ancient Japanese concept of shibui, or "an unobtrusive beauty." Their products' free-flowing functionality reminds one of certain futuristic Fellini films or independent, avant garde productions set in an undated time and space. In this respect, they transcend time, eschewing passing trends and in doing so, have reached what some say is the end point of historical design vectors.
Beyond post-modern; almost anti-materialistic with a familiar look and feel approaching the organic, these products strike a deep-seated appeal that makes the need for an outward identifying brand irrelevant.
Think about it... do you yearn to break free from the constant product placements, blaring "new & improved" promotions and the frantic, constant pressure to buy/sell Our Brand instead of Brand X – when both are basically the same? The alternatives – the IKEAs, the No Frills' and the Muji's of the World seem to be a cool, calm, common-sense alternative that offers society way out while still providing good looks, good products and good value.
Article by Steve Levenstein from Inventor Spot. Submit your thoughts - click here!
25 June 2008
Just wanted to share a nifty information I found while trying to decide whether I should quarantine or delete malwares from my computer today. Apparently, the idea of having the "quarantine" option when an antivirus detects an infected file is to avoid false positives. If by chance the antivirus software wrongly flags a file as "bad" when the file is actually something you need, like a critical program (for example Explorer.exe in Windows) such that deleting it might cause the computer to stop working, quarantine allows it to simply restore it back.
Anything in quarantine is safely segregated from the rest of your computer, it cannot run from there, so it can do no harm. So the general advice is to put the infected files in quarantine for a while you go about your normal computer activities. If everything continues to run properly after a reasonable period of time (say, about a week or two), then delete the files in quarantine permanently.
Be safe and always quarantine first!
21 June 2008
"Expect Emotions" goes the slogan to Euro 2008. People certainly experienced some. What no one expected was that Turkey would deliver the biggest emotional wallop. Go up a goal against "The Comeback Kings" and you will lose. Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and now Croatia. The scoreline yesterday said 4-2 but something much more was achieved as Turkey reached the semi-finals for the first time. Just six years ago they accomplished a similar feat at the World Cup in 2002.
Now they're up against Germany. Depleted and without most of its squad, Turkey looks to shake the soccer gods. Germany better watch out. Their reputation as a team that can never be counted out is seriously being challenged.
Support for the Turkish team in Turkey is as incredible as it is in Europe's stadiums. Almost all the commercials on TV show some form of red and white glory. There is one that really stands out in every aspect. It depicts the Turkish players as powerful robots with real hearts and gives them a collective brand name called "Turko." Apparently it is the biggest Turkish CGI (Computer Gaphics Interface) project made to date. Take a look at this epicness:
09 June 2008
Guitar Hero. The legendary game series that sold over 14 million units, earning over US$1 billion, since it was first released on PlayStation 2 in 2005. The franchise has made a significant cultural impact, such that it became a cultural phenomenon, making regular appearances in parties and locales. Several bars in the United States are offering "Guitar Hero nights" as an alternative to karaoke. Even an entire South Park episode was dedicated to the game!
Such a popular game is bound to have some clones. Well, in fact we found 14 of them! Surely there must be more, and if you know please comment, but we found Frets On Fire to be the best. It's simply the most advanced; It has a built-in song editor that allows editing and creating songs, it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux - last but not least - it's open source. Please indulge:
UPDATE: Jam Legend
Shred Master [Play]
Tenacious D [Play]
Flash Hero [Play]
Super Crazy Gitar Maniac Deluxe [Play]
Super Crazy Gitar Maniac Deluxe 2 [Play]
Super Crazy Gitar Maniac Deluxe 3 [Play]
Coolio Beat [Play]
Coolio Beat 2 [Play]
Another Guitar Hero Clone [Info | Download]
Rock Star [Info | Download]
Unsigned [Info | Download]
Guitar Zero [Info (link currently down) | Download]
Frets On Fire [Info | Download]
BONUS: Accordion Hero [Play]
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