How Do I Join Hell’s Anthropologists?

Science Gang Tattoos by Tom Gauld, created for New Scientist.

A brilliant little illustration of possible science-based gang tattoos. The names aren’t the best (though Particle-Physics She-Devils has a special place in my soul) but the actual imagery is spot on. I’d love to revisit this idea at some point and come up with my own variation for us Evolutionary Biologists (or possibly Software Engineers, I can rep both crews)!

The Most Dangerous Way to Write

I have no idea how useful this little web-app may actually turn out to be, but it’s definitely a neat idea (and I wrote all of this in it too!). “The Most Dangerous Writing App” is certainly an odd one: keep writing in the completely streamlined text entry box for the allotted time limit (you set this yourself) or else “die”. Death, in this case, doesn’t refer to some chain-mail-esque curse, but the threat that if you stop writing for longer than ~5 seconds (total time unknown, I conducted a few simple tests but nothing too rigorous) the screen and box begin to fade, a red haze descends and then, ultimately, the “time’s up” message hits. At this point, it isn’t just game over… it’s message gone. Your entire piece of text (all of it) gets deleted, leaving you with a red screen, a red face and nothing to show for the effort.

As a result, I’m not convinced I’d ever want to try a time limit of longer than 5 minutes (which is what I’ve been experimenting with), just in case something went wrong. I’m also not sure what counts as “typing”; I went to correct typos and found it fading out whilst I was still hitting backspace, which was unnerving. Still, it definitely makes you stay focused, which is no bad thing. If that results in greater productivity then perfect, though I definitely felt the stress rising towards the end as the timer ticked down, my mind largely becoming clouded with thoughts of “this would be awful if it disappeared now”.

That said, once the timer has run down the option to Save or Restart becomes available and the risk of losing everything goes away, so I guess it’s probably a very good way of “getting in the zone”. At any rate, definitely worth a look, even if it’s just for some quick writing challenges or to get thoughts out without any formatting worries. Will likely try it out a few more times in the future!

Marc van Roosmalen: Adventurer Extraordinaire!

Have you ever heard of Marc van Roosmalen? No, I hadn’t either – although that is slightly less surprising for you, unless you also have a degree with a heavy focus on primatology. So who is this mysterious person? Well, he may well be one of the last, great naturalist explorers left in the world. I’ve just been introduced to his work, thanks to the ever informative Tetrapod Zoology blog, but he’s been around for quite some time. Indeed, you’d have to have been to have named 11 new species of mammal, plus have started active investigation/research into over a dozen more (not to count any plants discovered…)!

Honestly, the reality may not be all that it seems, especially if his Wikipedia entry is at all accurate, but regardless I feel Roosmalen may be a person I should keep an eye on. With a tapir, a titi monkey and a tree porcupine under his belt, Marc is definitely contributing to the discovery and knowledge of several of my favourite animal groups, so I’m excited to see what more he uncovers in the future!

Plus, this has reminded me that I really do need to write about Darren Naish’s recent ebook, Hunting Monsters. I feel that Roosmalen is a prime example of a real world cryptozoologist, of the sort that should be held aloft and waved around whilst proponents of the science (such as myself) scream “stop watching In Search of Bigfoot and start looking over here before you lump us all together with the nutjobs!”
But that’s a story for a different time…

Microsculpture aka Beautiful Bugs

 

So this looks pretty awesome: Microsculpture, a new exhibition on at Oxford University Natural History Museum (27th May until October 2016). Basically take some amazing insects, photograph them using high end, microscopy lenses and combine the literally thousands of resultant images back into one, hugely detailed composite. Then blow it up to a few meters across using high end printing and stick it on display. Yes please!

The Anxiety Problem

Chances are that if, like me, you are interested in web design (or just design work in general) you probably already know about A List Apart, the amazing blog that has been a source of industry leading/changing ideas for well over a decade. If, somehow, you don’t then stop reading this and start reading that.

If you need a good “jumping in” point, then I cannot recommend the article Defeating Workplace Drama with Emotional Intelligence enough. I realise I’m a little late to this particular post, given that it’s over a month old, but ALA articles are definitely long form, so tend to build up in my feed reader between actual outings. Still, Brandon Gregory has hit the nail on the proverbial head in this instance. It may not be your standard A List Apart read (HTML, CSS or the ilk are barely mentioned… in fact I don’t think they are at all!) but I imagine the advice contained would benefit anyone, no matter what industry you work in. I’ll definitely be coming back to certain paragraphs for years to come.

Cosmic Sans: The New Greatest Font!

Humble font bundle Aprils fool joke includes Cosmic Sans, Halfvetica and Times Old Roman
They may be jokes but they’re damned clever ones.

April Fools has been a bit bland this year. Google’s far too literal mic drop aside, most have been played out reruns of previous gags or distinctly predicable. The US has gone in for the election, the UK has opted for the EU referendum. Still, amongst the banality are a couple of gems, foremost of which is the Humble Bundle‘s effort. Have the jokes been done before? Sure, but they’re still done well, the format works and ultimately it’s all for a good cause. Plus I’m generally intrigued to know what typing in Sans Sans would be like and can’t help but feel that Bike Courier could be quite fun to play around with!

 

 

Cube Food

Over fifty types of food including cabbage, fish and pineapple, cut into perfect cubes and aligned in a minimalist grid fashion
Abstractly delicious, no?

Created by design studio Lernert & Sander, I’m a big find of this recent “viral” piece of art-meets-food-porn. The concept is a simple one, executed perfectly and arranged with the precision required. Just a great little concept with stunning results, and I love that they have picked some very different parts of some of the chosen foods.

John Oliver’s Back in the UK, Free and Legal!

I am a huge fan of the ever insightful talk show Last Week Tonight, hosted by John Oliver. I love the directness of the opinion pieces, agree with many of the stances taken and largely find the script (and Oliver himself) extremely entertaining and hilarious. Most of all, though, I appreciated and was won over by their clever usage of social media.

During the show’s first season, which was seen as somewhat of a gamble for both HBO and John Oliver – who looked set to be the next Daily Show host with ease – I avidly awaited each weeks “tirade” on Youtube. At the time I was living in New Zealand, but even back in the UK watching the full show, legally, was impossible as no networks had picked it up for local release. Despite that, because the show’s team decided to embrace web culture and new media, pretty much all the heavily scripted pieces of the program were available on Youtube, Facebook and other popular social sites. As a result, when I started picking up on the buzz surrounding the show through favourite Youtubers and web journalists, I actually had a point of reference: I could log on and watch Oliver’s brilliant ripostes on all manner of subjects. They were fantastically well put together, he made me laugh and I became on instant fan.

So I was over the moon when BSkyB, the company behind the largest “cable” TV network in the UK (Sky, if you hadn’t worked that out) acquired the distribution rights for the second season. I don’t actually subscribe to Sky (or any other TV package, for that matter) but it was great news for the show and would hopefully mean many more seasons to come. Unfortunately, it had an unforeseen side effect which was completely gutting and has meant I’ve not seen anything more from the program since the conclusion of Season 1.

Apparently, Sky has a much stricter licensing contract than HBO (or, more likely, either don’t see the positives in creating their own equivalent Youtube outlet or HBO wouldn’t let them). The end result was that my weekly video drop from John Oliver became nothing more than a dark gray screen with the overlaid text “This video has not been made available in your region”. Yep, the dreaded region lock had now been applied to my favourite news segment. Now, if I wanted to catch up on John Oliver’s witty social commentary, I would have to turn to illegal methods, which I don’t like doing (and yes, I accept I could also spend the £40+ a month to subscribe to Sky, buy an actual TV and get a UK TV license, pay for and install a satellite cable etc. but that was blatantly not worth it). The result was that I stopped watching and have spent the last year with pangs of frustration every time an American friend or news outlet tells me that I “must watch the latest John Oliver video”. I want to, believe me, but unfortunately I can’t.

Or at least that’s what I had thought. It turns out, it’s not as simple as all that. I have no idea when this began but certainly, right now, The Late Show also has a Facebook page. On that Facebook page are a large chunk of their Youtube videos, not simply linked to from Youtube but actually re-uploaded to Facebook. And therein lies the rub, because Facebook currently doesn’t do region locking on video content, so all those videos are openly available in the UK. Joy of joys, John Oliver can once more be a part of my weekly life! It’s like he’s coming home all over again!

2 Kinds of People

Two seemingly identical available WI-FI networks menus but one shows default network names and the other has networks all named using Wi-Fi related popular culture puns
I know several people who have “Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi” as their network names… not quite sure what that says…

Occasionally, StumbleUpon truly comes through for me, providing a tiny internet gem that I’m certain I’d have never found otherwise. Today, that accolade goes to 2 Kinds of People, the type of microsite that Tumblr was made for. Some of the posts are a little obvious, though the simplistic art style makes them look great anyway, but I found myself genuinely laughing more than once as I browsed through their content. Definitely recommend a look.