Monday, February 28, 2011

Important: Bonus Features and Soundcloud

An important read for anyone who is even remotely involved in application development: [ ]

I am not fond of any application that does anything that I don't explicitly tell it to do, or software that causes unnecessary clutter. I do enough of that on my own, actually- and I routinely clean up my desktop as a result.

Just because I clean my desktop regularly does not mean I am okay with unnecessary features. I detest the installation of items in my taskbar or browser unless I specifically request them and install them myself- all of the installers that have the "We recommend _____ toolbar..." and have the option to install it automatically checked is deceiving and borderline malicious, in my opinion.

Enough ranting.

I'm no professional discjockey, but I put together some bass-heavy dubstep to listen to.

Dubstep Mashup Mixtape Eins by cleancutwellkept

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spotlight: Classic Novels

Straight to-the-point and delivering more concise review than you could beat yourself about the head with, [ ] is a shining example of someone who supports the literary canon.

I'm an avid reader, myself (albeit more for pleasure and entertainment than education in prose), and I find that the man in charge of Classic Novels has a lot to offer.

Toward which blogs would you turn the spotlight?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Good news, everyone!

Okay, fantastic news!

I've recently discovered that I may have a (semi-free) hosting plan to move myself onto another server and switch from Blogger to a WordPress-powered system!

I do appreciate the snappiness that the current solution provides and also like the simplicity of it- but I also want to have a bit more leeway with design, which is hard to accomplish within the limitations of a stylesheet and my rather poor knowledge of CSS.

I'm learning a bit about how it works by reading the documentation, but my wizardry is not on par with what I'm currently using and/or the WordPress theme equivalent.

I'm currently testing the possibilities of a WordPress-powered system over at [ ], but the free hosting (provided by the fine folks over at [ ]) is a tad sluggish, even post-optimization.

The WordPress software is available over at [ ], which is also (conveniently) a repository of documentation for the aforementioned software.

In all seriousness, I'm not sure that the address is loading for any of y'all. I'm considering trying out .tk as well, but some of the experiences I've had in the past with their use of interstitials leaves me a bit wary of using the service again.

In unrelated news, I'm thinking about trying to acquire a decent entry-level DSLR (a la the Nikon D90 or a Canon Rebel XS), and starting something up on tumblr or another hosted site on the same service.

More on that to come later.

EDIT: I've also taken the liberty of registering and pointing it to this blog. It'll be my shortform address, since cleancutwellkept is a long name and definitely prone to errors.

I might also rename the blog, but that's iffy.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Stuff I like: RainyMood.

In essence, it is the best white-noise generator I have ever located: [ ]. It's a thirty-minute loop of rain and a thunderstorm, and it makes everything more enjoyable (including listening to music). It is also an interesting sleep aid, because the thirty-minute cycles could (theoretically) affect circadian rhythms. More about that later.

I find that I achieve the best results when combining RainyMood with some Last.FM or even just music straight from my computer- it takes the edge off of silence and adds a subtly uplifting mood to being awake or a relaxing mood to fall asleep to.

What do you think of RM?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Low-content: Infographic - Evolution of the alphabet (Animooted!) ], taken from the shared posts of David McCandless.

In case you hadn't noticed, I <3 infographics.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Stuff I like: CollegeHumor' Graphic Truths.

If you haven't already guessed, I'm a huge fan of infographics. Actually, graphics of almost any kind are cool by me so long as they're not eyesores.

Anyway, CollegeHumor's take on all sorts of things expressed as graphs and flowcharts: [ ].

Especially of note are "A guide to conversations in college: The Small Talk Calendar" and the "Chatroulette Breakdown".

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Low-content: Infographic - Lunar Calendar and Charts.

A big rock in our sky, you say?

A chart to help you choose what kind of chart to use.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Design Overhaul!

Don't worry, you've come to the right URL!

I'm experimenting with the design again (and consequently futzing around with HTML and XML), so you might see some odd changes here and there. This particular template can be found at [ ], and it's called Impress, if you're interested.

I welcome your suggestions in the comments below.

Stuff I like: Abridged series.

I've only watched a few episodes here and there, but with a large quantity of hilarity injected into most episodes, I find that my time is well-wasted. Especially of note: a huge list compiled over at [ ]. I've been watching the Code Geass Abridged series, which I find to be disastrously humorous. It's aided by the fact that I watched the actual episodes as they came out (only subtitled, though. Dubbed episodes make me cringe...), and makes for a mostly-separate storyline.

It is without a doubt amateur work- but it's an excellent lampooning of the series that I really enjoyed. More on that later, though. The Yugioh (Yu-Gi-Oh?) abridged series is also delicious.

Note, there are obscene quantities of pop culture references, in-jokes, and otherwise inane nonsense. You have been warned.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Low-content: Infographic - Facebook Friendships

I've heard this one's been going around for a bit, but I think it's worth sharing: ]

Heads-up: It's a hefty 3.8MB image.

More on the subject here.

Also, note the blackout in Russia? That's because Russia's got something that looks eerily like facebook, called Vkontakte. As for the blackout in China, I am unsure of the source but might note The Great Firewall could have something to do with it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Low-content: Gemcraft Chapter 0

I've recently been playing [ ], which is (as it turns out) an incredibly difficult game.

I used to run an incredibly lame strategy that consisted of spamming gem-bombs and manapooling, which was essentially the easiest way to win (so long as you can move the mouse fast enough and time the waves correctly).

I've beaten levels 1, 2, 3, and 5 on "basic", and I've had too many close-but-no-cigar moments where I'm on the last wave and I'm deprived of mana.

It seems like traps are only useful in high-level reduce armor and high-level poison varieties, and even then they're only useful when deployed early-on near the main entrance of the enemy spawns.

I'm also unsure of exactly how the upgrade system works, but it seems like it's cheaper to just purchase superior gems rather than combine them, which reduces the effects of their shots.

I'm a badge junkie, sure, but this game is JAPAN difficult. This is also after "reductions in difficulty".

Do y'all have any tips on how to get ahead in this game?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Techshare: JDownloader and Hamachi.

Oftentimes large downloads (MMORPGs, I'm squinting at you) are split into separate parts for easier user-end consumption. Normally, this is okay- but when a file has, say, 45 parts of equal size hosted on a provider that makes you wait before starting a download (Megaupload and Rapidshare, for instance) and doesn't permit concurrent downloads, a healthy (free and legal) option is to use a neat application called JDownloader. It's a Java-based batch downloader that even supports all sorts of useful functionality, like grabbing links from your clipboard, parsing pages for more links, and more!

One of the handiest applications that I've discovered.

Also nice for gaming sorts of things is Hamachi. They offer a few different flavors, but the type I endorse is their noncommercial free-to-use version. Hamachi creates a virtual Ethernet adapter that allows virtual LANs to be created on-the-fly, permitting solutions for users behind firewalls or other internet interfaces to network in a fashion that doesn't require complex things like portforwarding.

What tech would you like to share?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Glorified begging is what it is, really.

There are a few types of online shopping (such that one never actually has to leave the house for anything), amongst them eBay and Amazon, both of which provide access to a wide variety of items (and the occasional fantastic deal).

[ ] is one of my Amazon wish lists- JAY KAY LAWL

Apparently, my list was baleeted. Weird. I've put up something similar over at [ ], somewhat improved and with items ranging from cheap to expensive to OBSCENELY EXPENSIVE. Lots of knives, too.
Edit: I've also got a list of books (that I'll update occasionally) that I think I should own and everyone should read. available at ].
I've seen a few other folks with them, but apparently this one makes me seem as if I'm looking for someone else to finance a crime. I'm an upstanding member of society. )

I'm told that one can learn a lot about someone by seeing what they want. 

What does my list say about me? 

Related: What's on your wishlist? What do you think it says about you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

An aside, on the different sorts of blogging:

There's Blogger, which I use to post these sorts of things. It's got a relatively user-friendly interface that makes idea-to-post a very short and easily manageable process.

There's WordPress, which is kinda like Blogger but is a little easier to tweak and a little "classier." I use quotes because not all of WordPress is clean-cut and delicious.

There's tumblr, too, which is essentially hipster-blogging. It's an even more minimalistic interface than Blogger's, permits a fair amount of customization (beneath the hood), and implements a social networking aspect.

I will admit to having several of each of those, but I try to keep them relatively compartmentalized and try to minimize the amount of content bleed between blogs.

I guess MySpace and Facebook both have blogging sorts of things built in, but they're primarily social networking sites, so I'm unsure if they're worth mentioning.

Noteworthy amongst bloggers is Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post.

Also noteworthy is The Drudge Report, which is an easy go-to source for news.

There are certainly other Blogger users that I'd cite, but that's for another post.

Which bloggers do you consider noteworthy?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Completely Conjecture: Timelines.

Warning, lots of geometry terminology inside.

Also interesting to look at: ]

There's been lots of science fiction written about the subject of time- something which we perceive to be linear and irreversible.

I have several questions, though:

If time is linear, could we wrap this line around another dimension and make it circular? Everything would repeat, ultimately- and the trick would be creating a chord across the timeline and then travelling across it.
If that's not possible, than bringing two points that are not adjacent to one-another close enough together through some sort of compression would work too, right?

If we can't work silly tricks on time, how can we manipulate it, then?

We operate in a three-dimensional cross-section of the four-dimensional timeline which is theoretically a part of the fifth-dimensional plane of our universe which is a cross-section of the sixth-dimensional volume that encompasses the possible universes that our universe could've been....

That's heavy.

The trick, then, would be something that can achieve interaction (or perhaps observation only, if our actions can change the "direction" our line travels in the "plane") on a dimensional scale >4. What I mean by that is something that affects not only time (and our perception of it) but also something that affects probability and what is "possible".

If you want to be a hoss about this, then you need to go one dimension further and utilize something that manipulates (with extreme accuracy and precision) the starting conditions of the universe (or our position on whatever axes you might choose to define that dimension in).

This is complex.

Furthermore, is this possible within the constraints of our peasant-tier 3-dimensional selves?

How would one go about constructing something that acts on more dimensions than it was built in?

Would it be possible to manipulate higher dimensions from our currently observable one?

If we make choices that influence what timeline we participate in (assuming free will is correctly abstracted and not "simple electro-chemical reactions"), how would one go about "crossing" between higher dimensions (or would they be other timelines?) and/or collapsing them into something observable?

There's another idea posed by Michael Crichton's Timeline, which suggests something like an infinite number of universes are intertwined in a rather large and tortuous multiverse which encompasses all of possibility. Actions in one universe affect the outcome of another, which affects the outcome of another, and so forth.

In one case, traveling laterally across the multiversial "plane" permits time travel in the sense that if a parallel universe started 10 years later and followed the exact same developmental path, you could cross to the same "absolute" point in time and be ten years "behind" relative to "your" time.

More scare-quotes, as usual. Food for thought.

What is our universe?

What is "time"? Space-time?

Would you "time-travel", given the opportunity?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Low-content: Newegg & Lenovo

I'm a Lenovo user, myself, but I've had a penchant for Newegg and the whole build-a-computer-yourself scene.

I figure I could get a decent graphics card and one of the ridiculous i7 processors, chaining in some 6GB triple-channel DDR3 for a super-fast computer.

Given my current laptop's meager 2GB dual-channel, Intel Core 2 P8700(2.53GHz * 2 CPUs), and ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3400, it's not that hard to get much better.

I'm also not a very experienced PC-builder, but my requirements in a computer are very simple:

As little space consumed as possible. The less space it takes up, the better. I really like the booksize machines that Newegg offers, except for the lack of muscle that they accordingly possess.

I've been eying the newer Lenovo IdeaCentre machines (as well as other all-in-one touchscreen sorts of computers), and the interface continues to grow on me.

What sort of computer would be ideal? Would it be better to build my own? I haven't seen any well-done touch interfaces with large amounts of screen real-estate.

Your thoughts, please.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Techshare: Cloud and Cluster computing.

These are things that have fascinated me since I learned of their existence:

Cloud computing: essentially, your terminal acts the interface between you and some godtier beefy computers. By utilizing servers that share content, resources, and metaphorical horsepower, you can achieve superior performance and scalability. The benefits of using such systems include the ability to ignore location as a factor, so long as you have access to the resources. This is good if you're in an urban environment with reliable internet access- all of the heavy-duty processing and electric consumption takes place offsite. If you're in the boonies, this may present a problem if your connection is poor and/or slow. Examples include such things as the Amazon S3 cloud or Microsoft's Azure.

Cluster computing: the HHHNNNNGGG of heavy-duty computing utilizing ordinary resources to achieve extraordinary results. If you've got a computer that can divide up portions of a task such that it's computable by several different systems, you can network things such that results are expedited and individual workload is minimized. For optimized systems (or simple ones), this can result in amazing things- case and point, [ ], which is like a better version of Google (for certain bits of factual information).

Wikipedia's got pretty good articles on all of these.

What sorts of applications could you see for this sort of tech?

Unrelated: What technology would you like to share?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stuff I like: RoboEarth, Bugatti, and

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlord: ] is apparently going to be something like a robot-wikipedia.

The machines across the world will be able to share information across a centralized database and should therefore reach the epoch more quickly- the point at which robots become better at making robots than humans.

I'm no Zuckerberg, but I would definitely love one of these, given that I had the cash to drop on it: ]

With a 16.4-liter engine and a specific mode for DRIVING-REALLY-FAST, this car eclipsed even the McLaren F1 in speed (and price).

Totally unrelated to either of those, I find this blog to be particularly entertaining: ] is the first page.

The entire blog is one giant prevarication, but is nonetheless a rather hilarious one.

What sorts of things do you like?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Low-content: Infographic - Blood Typing Craze

I'm a huge fan of anything remotely infographic-related. [ ] is a great resource for neat little infographics that have a basis in statistics. I may post some of the more interesting or pretty ones later.

For now, here's something about blood types: ]

I remember reading a blood-type diet book, once. It was kinda a fad thing, but some of the importance of things like how antigens work and how some food has things like antigen markers stuck with me.

I'm a B-, personally. Some foods (notably soy milk and some fruit skins) don't sit well with my throat and cause itchy sensations that are quite irritating. I enjoy cooking with other things, though, so it's not a huge deal.

Related: Do you know your blood type? If so, what is it?

Unrelated: What sorts of fruits do you find particularly tasty? I like mangoes.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Low-content: More TF2? More TF2.

I've been getting more and more "in" with the game. I like playing (and switching between) Sniper, Demoman, and Pyro. I frequent the Hydro only server. It's modded, but it makes play fast-paced and furious.

Unrelated: the TF2s that could've been...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Good design, part 3? Fonts in a wall-of-text.

Courtesy of some comments in previous posts, I figured that it wouldn't be right for me to throw words at you without a few pictures to support them. Most text on this page displays (by default) as a serif-heavy typeface. To describe it in a more common fashion, it looks pointy. Sans-serif fonts are the ones that look smoother and cleaner. A great example of sans-serif in design is Apple's branding, viewable here. There's even a documentary about Helvetica, which talks a lot about some of the ideas in design.

I would assume that there are studies that delve into the difference of message impact based on font, but that's not entirely my realm of interest or expertise- I think that things should be clean, consistent, and easily-readable if (and only if) you're trying to get nothing but information across.

There's plenty to be said for sans-serif. It's clean, easily readable, and probably displays better on screens. I'm personally not that fond of typefaces that are otherwise quite boring.

Serif fonts, on the other hand, are my favorite. I find the little accents make it much easier to read and more refined- in the sense that I find a fine wine more refined than a minimalist would find a glass of distilled water.

Here, have an example: Two sentences in two different typefaces.

It is important to choose typefaces with care and attention to detail.

It is important to choose typefaces with care and attention to detail.

The former is slightly larger than the latter.

For what it's worth, most print sources tend to be created with serif fonts, and most online or electronic print tends to be written up with sans-serif typefaces.

I could elaborate for ages on this subject, but I will instead pose a question and save more for later: Do you find serifs agreeable in print? What impact do you think that presentation has upon the audience?

( My previous posts on design are here and here. )

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Completely Conjecture:

Wow, that's one long post, sir.

Thought-provoking, though.

Here's some food for thought:

(keep in mind that this is all more or less a giant what-if...)

A premise not entirely clear in the text: Humanity (with a capital H) shares a collective (un)conscious(ness).

Also not entirely clear: I'm misusing quotation marks to provide an emphasis indicating that the word means something that may or may not be what it means "normally".

We're dreaming, right now. When we "go to sleep", we're actually waking from our dream-state. Our "reality" is so precise and tangible specifically because it is a construct of the mind- and our "dreams" tend to be less "real", because we cannot create or perceive with such acuity.

That's difficult to understand.

What I mean by all that is: We're awake when we're "asleep". We're dreaming when we're "awake". We perceive more reality while "awake" because we can create more reality than we can while "asleep".

To impose more thought-constructs:

"Lucid Dreaming" is the coming-to-terms with what is otherwise a "difficult reality"- that is, when we realize how "unreal" the situation is, we acknowledge it and maintain a more specific mastery of our control of reality.

When we're "awake", we're experiencing a construct of what we surmise reality to be. That is why it's so realistic, has "rules" that may or may not be based entirely what we think we perceive.

Another twist:

Humanity's not a bunch of individuals- rather, we're one giant supercomputer, a la Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where our "awake" and "asleep" cycles are the individual cycles of the super-computer's fluctuating number of processors/storage-units.

All the facts we "know" are defined. The "abstractions" that we make (honor?) are declared but not defined in an absolute fashion. When we "learn", we're adding to the items that we can import. Our daily lives are cycles of code/build/debug/reboot. Sleep cycles are our reprieve from "computing" whilst participating in the giant distributed-cloud-of-computers that is "our known universe".

Food for thought, and somewhat ridiculous, I'll admit.

Here are a few question, though:

What is reality? What is real? What isn't?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Newsworthy: February 4th, 2011

New rules from the EPA can get an exemption, courtesy of Obama. Short story, just something worth noting.

What with this ridiculous cold front (there's snow in Texas), I'm thinking that it would make sense for companies that deliver heating solutions to make money and/or run out of supply. In related news, rolling blackouts are caused when you try to use too many inefficient space heaters rather than something designed to create heat, like a fireplace.


Folks in El Paso are being asked to limit their use of natural gas because of the huge spike in usage.


These WikiLeaks cables are worrisome. On the one hand, they help bring otherwise unshared information into the public eye- but on the other, if they're classified and not meant to be shared, the "declassification" of the aforementioned data means that we've got to wonder about the information security that we're using, and why it's failing.

Stuff I like: Wolfram Alpha and Foodtongue.

Can you imagine a supercomputer available to the average citizen?

It's filled with carefully curated data and has an engine that will dissect your question and attempt to answer your query rather than simply point you at an answer. ] is basically my answer to everything search-engine related. Word on the street is that it might be able to search people, too, but I'm wary of anything like that.

In other, completely unrelated news, I like foodtongue.

It's a completely made-up language that (I think) can transcend other languages. So long as you can express a thought in Wikipedia Simple English, you can translate it into foodtongue and back into another language.

A comprehensive guide can be found at [ FoodTongue ]. Unfortunately, you're not allowed to address how foodtongue works except while speaking in foodtongue. Hmmn.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Good design, continued:

I posted a few days ago about the importance of good design. Here, have some more:

To the end of eliminating design that interferes with understanding, I would thusly suggest the following:

No fewer than three short words should fit within a column, unless they are wrapped around a graphic.

Negative space- columns, rows, and the like- should never detract from the message or cause issues with readibility.

Anything even remotely related to typography should be handled with extreme care. The difference between fonts may seem minimal but carries the weight of affecting legibility across screens and between eyes. A font that uses serifs affects the perception of the individual characters. Large flourishes and unusually complex script places less emphasis on the message and more on the delivery.

Choose colors carefully. Colors and chromatography are in and of themselves a complex matter that I don't know enough to speak authoritatively about. Suffice it to say that certain colors look beautiful when accompanied by certain other colors. Finding all of these links - or a way to calculate them - is a science, if not an art. Color can be used to make distinctions, separate space, draw emphasis, and convey messages of their own.

That's all for now. Here's a question for y'all:

What makes something pleasing to the eye?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Newsworthy: February 1st, 2011

If there's another attack on such a scale as that of 9/11, it will cement my decision to join the military. I don't care what the hell their reasoning is- nuclear war is pig-disgusting. I don't mind having to shed my ideals and transform myself if it means everyone else can live in peace.

Speaking of which: war sucks. It's never a good option. People die- and even worse, that means there are people who kill. Most folks have trouble with the responsibilities of just their life. When you're responsible for someone's death, a righteous individual will assume responsibility for all of their responsibilities. This adds up over time and produces the jaded, disturbed folks who develop the ability to compartmentalize and block and otherwise shut out the thoughts and responsibilities that come with taking lives.

No bueno. Heavy stuff, too.

In other news:

I'm glad to have the FBI on my side, to be honest. I'm also glad that they're doing so much work behind-the-scenes, too. I hope they catch everyone they're looking for and see success in their machinations.

Man, I thought that Texas had it bad. This cold front is chilly.Whatever happened to global warming? Oh, right. It's anthropogenic climate change, now. Whatever, I'm just stupid, right?

I could use some warming of any sort right now, actually. I broke out the heavy blanket for this evening.

Nothing much to see here, just posting some news and my opinions.

For reference, I typically get most of my news from Drudge Report. No, I'm not a conservative. No, I'm not a liberal. I'm a little bit of both, but I prefer to go by "independent" rather than an incredibly wide-sweeping generalization of a name.

Ranting, raving: Good design.





Shouting aside, I think this is important to clarify:  Great content can be ruined by poor design.

Excellent design takes work. Excellent design takes risks. Excellent design does not EVER get in the way of content delivery.

Good design is simply elegant.

Bad design is many things, among them:

- Complex
- Distracting
- Unnerving
- Misleading
- Redundant

Those are merely the most obvious of things that can cause issue with design.

I do not mean to suggest that being complex or distracting or misleading is always bad- artwork and similar pursuits that have the visceral reaction of the audience in mind should do their best to take advantage of such possibilities.

What I do mean to suggest is that there are clear and important boundaries that anyone with the reader in mind should be conscious of. Notable among these are the following:

- Clarity of lines
- Ease of viewing
- Stimulus of thought

Design should never be uniform; to suggest that everyone remain constrained by the same unrealistic standards is wrong and unethical. Tastes vary, too- but I think it is fair to say that websites that are difficult to navigate and content that is difficult to process discourage the audience from participating and reduce the efficacy of communication.

More to come later this week, I think.

What makes for good design? Your thoughts, please.

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