Monthly Archives: March 2009

Programmer’s lament

“Since I’ve violated the Golden Rule of Helping Friends with their PC Problems and attempted to help a friend with his PC problem, expectedly wiping out his hard drive in vain, I had many opportunities to explain the Programmer Paradox: how can a programmer fail to make a computer do as he wishes? While the difficulty of debugging a program without the source proved hard to explain to laymen, I think I’ve found a metaphor that does a good job. A programmer is to the blue screen of death what Mikhail Kalashnikov is to a loaded AK-47: just as helpless a victim as any other mortal, except for having a profound understanding of the mechanisms of his execution.”

Yossi Kreinin

New site launched today:

I launched a new site site this morning:

I saw this xkcd comic recently, and it made me want to be able to see Wikipedia articles side-by-side with their “simple” counterparts.

Simple English Wikipedia is a version of the Wikipedia encyclopedia, written in Simple English and started in 2004. The encyclopedia is supposed to be used by children, who might not understand the complicated articles in the English Wikipedia, and other people who are still learning English.” is a quick hack I put together that lets you view the articles side-by-side. To do this, go to the site and type an article name in the search box (for example, War, or Peace, or Chocolate). Or, paste the article’s URL directly from wikipedia (for example, Then click the “Again, but slower” button. The site will try to load the original article and the simplified article side-by-side. If it doesn’t find the simple version, try a different article, because not all of Wikipedia’s articles have been translated into simple versions.

You can also try some examples by choosing one from the pulldown list on the page. Or, try your luck with a random article by clicking the Random button. If you click the full formatting checkbox, the original formatting of the Wikipedia articles will be displayed (the site displays the printable stripped-down format by default).

links for 2009-03-06: Pile o’ toys

This impressive augmented reality demo from GE inserts computer-generated 3D objects into live video. First, watch the short video. Then, try it yourself.
Israeli musician “Kutiman” took a big pile of seemingly random YouTube video clips and used them as instruments in his own musical compositions. I could not stop listening to these. My favorites are tracks 2 and 3. His site is overloaded at the time of this post; for now you can see samples here, here, and here.
Can you be an awesome DJ using nothing but a web browser and your computer’s keyboard? Yes you can.
A curious programmer, inspired by Roger Asling’s evolution of the Mona Lisa, asks if the technique could be a good way to compress images. Also take a look at the nice online version of the image evolver he wrote, in which you can set your own target image.
Hilarious Livejournal diary done in the style of Rorschach from the Watchmen comic book series.
The Crisis of Credit, Visualized – An extremely well-produced video describing the credit crisis in simple terms. – “Netflix for impatient people”. A remix of the Netflix site that is “about a quadrillion times easier to browse than Netflix’s own site”.
$timator: How much is your web site worth?
Cursebird. A real time feed of people swearing on Twitter. THANK YOU, INTERNET!
Leapfish. An interesting new meta-search engine with a clean interface. “It’s OK, you’re not cheating on Google.”
Twittersheep. “Enter your twitter username to see a tag cloud from the ‘bios’ of your twitter flock.”
PWN! YouTube. This is a great idea. You just type “pwn” in front of “youtube” in the URL, and voila; instant links for downloading and saving the videos.

User Interface Candy

Microsoft showed this “view of the future” in a presentation at a recent business technology conference:

<a href=";playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:a517b260-bb6b-48b9-87ac-8e2743a28ec5&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Future Vision Montage">Video: Future Vision Montage</a>

(video link)

C’mon, people; hurry up and build these awesome user interfaces! A keyboard and mouse can only do so much.