Mindful Browsing

Great Safari extension for blocking the time-drain websites in your life. Giving you the ability to schedule when your restrictions are in place, and the ability to temporarily permit yourself to go to the site, anyhow.

I've used hacks to accomplish something similar in the past, but this is a better fit, in my opinion.

O's forged on contributions of unwanted and overlooked

Parking in the alley behind the row home, he saw something in his headlights before turning them off. A striped cat sprinted out of the darkness, across the beams, and into the darkness on the other side of the alley. Almost immediately, a giant rat scampered through the light, hot on the trail of the cat. The lesson he took from that experience was that while the cat might look rather impressive, you really have to respect the rats because this is a rat town. The flashy and chic are out of place in Baltimore. Hard work and dependability is the currency here.
I call Baltimore a rat town with fondness. It is a charming dirty, old port town with wonderful places spread throughout.

This excerpt captures Baltimore well, I think. It's exactly what I love about this city, and it's told in a way that doesn't take itself too seriously.

The article is about the current Orioles, and doesn't touch on some of our higher-profile castaways like Chris Davis, who struggled to stay in the majors while signed with the Rangers.

The Future of Space Science

For the first time in history, an independent crew is taking control of a NASA satellite and running a crowdfunded mission. They’re doing it all from a makeshift mission control center in an abandoned McDonald’s in Mountain View, CA, using old radio parts from eBay and a salvaged flat screen TV.

The headline on Betabeat is needlessly sensationalistic; "Civilians in Abandoned McDonald’s Seize Control of Wandering Space Satellite" makes it sound like the group was not working with NASA's blessing. Regardless, this is incredible. Another step toward the democratization of space.

stockprice.sh

I was looking for an excuse to play with spark, and cooked up a little shell script that pulls historical stock data. It's still a little rough, but it's got some basic validation, and it's good enough for me to use it for the time being.

I might improve on it here and there, but you should feel free to mess around. I'm sure there are others that provide this functionality and much more, but I wanted to write it myself from soup to nuts.

Caught Like Insects in a Web

Robert McGinley Myers:

I’m reminded of a recent Radiolab episode about Ötzi, the 5000 year old Iceman discovered in the Alps in 1991. For more than two decades, Archaeologists have poured over the details of his clothing, his possessions, his tattoos, and the arrowhead lodged in his back, evidence he was murdered. From the contents of his stomach, they’ve even determined what he ate for his final meal.

I wonder if there will someday be archaeologists who sift not through our stomachs but our hard drives, tracing out the many digital trails we’ve left in the web, trying to determine not what we were eating, but what we were thinking. Will their findings be accurate?

Circuit Stickers

Jie Qi, Co-Creator of Circuit Stickers:

I hope that after making something with circuit stickers, people will feel like circuits can be just another art and craft material, like paint and canvas. Except now, in addition to colors, we can tell our stories with light, sensing, and interactions

I love this. Things like this and 3D printing mean that kids growing will have an entirely different concept of things like electricity, circuits, and material objects in general. So awesome.

Fixing Forza 5

Dan Greenwalt, Creative Director on Forza Motorsport 5:

Well, it's hard to say with the XP boost, because that was an experiment just seeing whether people are interested are not. It's not meant to be something that you're meant to do. Right now we're looking at whether people are using it or not. If they're not using it, we'll remove it, if they are using it we won't remove it. The work's already done to put it in, and we're experimenting - we didn't expect people were going to take it as a statement. That's something... I understand how people took it. Most of us were just surprised that people were up in arms. I'm not blaming people, and I want to be clear on that. I'm just saying that wasn't our intention going in, and so it was surprising to us.

It's interesting, to me, to read this article. By and large, I see FM5 as a huge success and a blast to play. I understand the design decisions Turn 10 has made, and I think it works. I've used to XP Boost, myself, as a quick way to gain levels. I understand that adding a way to use real-world currency to purchase cars makes the game more fun to people who don't want to spend hours and hours grinding out wins to earn enough credits for one car.

Maybe it's a function of growing up. I don't have the time to invest in games that I had ten or fifteen years ago, and when I do play games, I really want to get the most out of my time, so I see the value in how Turn 10 designed the systems. I'm certainly not a "hardcore" gamer, so I might not be in the demographic that feels hurt by this.

Obviously, I'm a fan of the game. There's a lot to love. But, maybe nothing more than the ablity Turn 10 has to iterate and experiment with a game that's in production. It's wonderful.

Placebo-philes

Maybe each of these activities (listening to high end audio gear, drinking high end wine, having needles inserted into your chakras) is really about ritualizing a sensory experience. By putting on headphones you know are high quality, or drinking expensive wine, or entering the chiropractor's office, you are telling yourself, "I am going to focus on this moment. I am going to savor this." It's the act of savoring, rather than the savoring tool, that results in both happiness and a longer life.

Added to my RSS feeds. Interesting and thoughtful.

Drones should be banned from private use, says Google's Eric Schmidt

It's one thing for governments, who have some legitimacy in what they're doing, but have other people doing it … It's not going to happen.

How do you think he reconsiles this with Andy Rubin's new job? From the New York Times piece on Google's robotics division, headed by Rubin:

The company is tight-lipped about its specific plans, but the scale of the investment, which has not been previously disclosed, indicates that this is no cute science project.

At least for now, Google’s robotics effort is not something aimed at consumers. Instead, the company’s expected targets are in manufacturing — like electronics assembly, which is now largely manual — and competing with companies like Amazon in retailing, according to several people with specific knowledge of the project.

I guess it's fine for government and corporations to have autonomous robots, because of some vaugely-defined "legitimacy". I don't know. I can't make sense of it.

100 Years of Breed “Improvement”

Amazing to see how some of these breeds have been bred for such terrible qualities. And, be aware, it's not only these breeds that have suffered this fate. This is only a selection of dozens of breeds that have become much less robust in the hands of breeders.

Android Beat on the new Micro USB 3.0 Connector

Did Apple get things right with Lightning? When they first showed it off, I thought it was the stupidest thing in the world to do, to introduce a new proprietary connection. But now I’m convinced Apple’s people saw this new microUSB connector and cried tears of blood.

It sounds brutal, but then you see what the damn thing looks like.

Markdown to MindMap v1.0

Brett Terpstra created something I've been thinking about making for a while (and I'm 100% positive he did a better job that I would have): a service that takes plain text lists and formats them as OPML to paste into mind mapping software. It sounds like he cooks ideas in approximately the same way I do.

Snubbed by Google Fiber, Mad at Comcast, Baltimore seeks its Own Fiber

Jon Brodkin for Ars Technica:

Baltimore's other problem is that most of its residents are locked into Comcast. City CIO Chris Tonjes, who came to Baltimore from Washington, DC a year ago, said, "I’m paying more here for lesser service." That was a reference to Comcast, which signed a contract "in 2004 with an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2016, that effectively makes the company the exclusive cable television provider in the city…

The lock Comcast has on this city has turned my stomach since I first heard talk of it back in 2003. It's awful. Expensive, slow, unreliable service, and crap customer service.

Not getting Google Fiber was a real shame, and Verizon wasn't interested in bringing their FiOS infrastructure into Baltimore City if they couldn't bundle TV service with it, which they can't thanks to Baltimore's moronic franchise agreement. Hope we're able to find something.

Buck Hearts B-More

“’I’ve said it many times, this is my last stop,” Showalter said. “This is my last rodeo. I love what everything represents in Baltimore. Good, solid, blue collar. They love the Orioles. Great tradition. We’re just trying to make them proud of us. We know there’s going to be a lot of people are going to be late to work tomorrow because they stay up late to watch our games. Our guys are a reflection of our city.”

Dammit, Buck. It's not even 9:00 AM, and I've got something in my eye.

Elon Musk's Hyperloop Proposed

The Hyperloop would consist of aluminum pods inside a set of two steel tubes, one for each direction of travel. These are connected at each terminus. The tubes would be positioned on top of pylons spaced 100 feet apart holding the tube 20 feet in the air, and the tube would be covered by solar arrays to generate its own power. Inside the tubes, the pods would carry people up to 760 miles per hour. The pods would each carry 28 passengers, departing every two minutes from either location (or every 30 seconds at peak times). So each pod would have about 23 miles between one another while traversing the tube. The transport capacity would therefore be about 840 passengers per hour.

Elon Musk really wants us to live in the future. I love it.