Let’s take a moment to examine infographics and their popularity.
Ever since InformationIsBeautiful.net popularized data visualization at a TED talk a few years ago the trend of infographics being created by designers has become dramatically prevalent throughout the web.
It would seem people experience a particularly extrusive delight when understanding a great deal of information in a short period of time.
The eyes are able to take in information faster than any other sense.
There is already visual-based software in the human mind that intuitively interpret and co-relate sets of data.
is the opposite of focus.
A noisy infographic communicates large quantities of information and houses more bells and whistles than a focused infographic.
The periodic table is a noisy infographic.
The periodic table of typefaces adopts the layout of the periodic table of elements, but at the end of the day is not functional.
This is an example of disfunctional noise, which is typically used to emphasize humour.
Web developers have an inexplicable proclivity toward creating curious but useless things on the Internet. Few web tools dare to serve the noble existence that is provide solid elements of usefulness while still maintaining user-friendliness and great design.
Got your bookmarks ready? Alright, let’s take a look at some of the more awesomely useful web apps out there (in no particular order).
1. Fill Any PDF
Don’t you just love self explanatory names? Fill Any PDF allows you to upload (or link) a PDF file and perform any edits to it your heart desires.
You can place text utterly anywhere, add images, add notes and even create the sort of poorly executed signatures that immediately communicate that they were either drawn by an autistic child or with a mouse.
Filsh allows you to download or “rip” video and audio from numerous popular video sharing sites, including Metacafé, Youtube and Vimeo without Java.
Try Googling something like “Youtube video ripper” or “download Youtube video”. Go ahead. I dare you.
What happened? You found twenty to fifty tools that all take forever to load thanks to the fact that they run within a Java applet, didn’t you?
Filsh is fast, allows you to convert to many different video (and audio) formats, manipulate bitrate and volume, etc. Oh yeah. it’s in German though.
The German is only a minor obstacle and really not that hard to figure out.
3. Lovely Charts
There’s a ton of tools out there that are used create charts. Lovely Charts is the only one of these which was created by tasteful graphic designers who do not suffer from visual impairment.
You probably don’t enjoy losing money. Mint.com can help. This tool contains so much innovation in financial management software that it actually makes not spending money fun.
My favorite feature is probably it’s frighteningly accurate ability to predict future trends in your own finances. I can’t even begin to touch on everything it does, so you’ll just have to check it out.
Meebo is a web-based instant messaging client that allows you to connect to virtually any account from a single page. Facebook, AIM, Google Talk, Livejournal, MSN, QQ and about a hundred other messaging services you’ve surely never heard of.
Recently purchased by Facebook, Snaptu lets you do something that used to cost thousands of dollars: create mobile phone apps.
Snaptu creates apps on-the-fly based on your website and does so for any mobile phone platform: Blackberry, iOS, Android and even Ovi.
7. Read it Later
If you’re like me, you serendipitously come across more interesting stuff on the web than you have time for. Read It Later is a simple service that lets you create a queue of material you can read when you have a spare moment. The simple and effective design behind this tool earned it a mention on this list. One of the best iPhone apps I’ve ever used too.
8. Pad Mapper
I think we can all agree on the fact that Craigslist is awesome. Sadly, the classifieds web-giant doesn’t experiment much.
PadMapper is a tool that superimposes Craigslist housing ads on to a Google map, creating a fun method of apartment-hunting.
9. RSOE EDIS Disaster Notification System
EDIS is a real-time disaster notification Google map developed by the Hungarian National Association of Radio Distress-Signalling and Infocommunications. I guarantee you’ll be amazed at what’s going on in the world.
Fonolo is a service which enables one to visually navigate through the automated systems of most companies who offer any sort of support via telephone. Drastically reducing your call time aside, this tool makes it easy to get in touch with an operator.
Arguably the best web tool I’ve ever used.
Stumbleupon finds interesting content and delivers it to you at the push of a button. The content is tailored toward your interests. StumbleUpon learns what you like based on your rating of its’ content and that of other users whose behaviour is similar to yours.
If you can get past StumbleUpon’s somewhat dangerous addictive factor, you’ll have a tool to discover the very best of the web at your disposal.
12. Google Voice
Formerly known as GrandCentral, Google voice is free until 2012 and provides the sort of exemplary service you’d never think could be given for free.
Not only can you call any phone in the US or Canada, but you get your own phone number complete with a voicemail. When someone calls you and your computer is not on, the voicemail is transcribed in to text and sent to you via email.
Giveaway: I’m giving away a copy of Vipre, scroll down for the details.
Antiviruses are arrogant goliaths in terms of using resources on a Windows computer while running. They bully around and dehumanize your other system processes like the military forces in a dictatorial regime during a time of martial law. Parading themselves around your computer with an air of self-importance, they entirely disregard the priority of any other activity you may be engaged in.
The only exception to this used to be running a web-based online scan of your computer, using something like TrendMicro Housecall, which would scan your computer, but not keep any software on the local drive. This is great, but ultimately does not provide any real-time protection.
As I type this, I’m testing Vipre out on two Windows computers with varying processing powers (an old Pentium II and a new Turion Ultra x2). The initial results are quite promising. I’ll post up my results in the forms of pretty little graphs over the next couple of days. Vipre is going to be taking on the Comodo Antivirus, a security suite I’ve had good results with before.
Vipre’s history and origin looks promising: GFI Software was a Maltese company specializing in all sorts of innovative network security software. It was bought by Sunbelt last year.
Giveaway: If you try it too, I’ll give you a copy of Vipre for a year. No screenshots or charts are necessary (although not discouraged). Most interesting review gets the program, competition lasts for 25 days (the 29th of March)
Get the 30 day version here: VIPRE Antivirus software
** Will update in next 24 hrs
Spectacular (if you like heliophysics) footage of a medium-large sized solar flare (Class M 3.6) was taken last Thursday (Feb. 24th).
The video is a composite of images taken in high definition. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft (SDO), which took the photos in the extreme ultraviolet part of the spectrum.
Now I want to see this sort of footage, except for an upper class X solar storm- now that would be quite a show (and probably not that great for us humans, but seriously who cares about foresight).
Source via [NASA Goddard Center, Solar Dynamics]
You might also like “Auroras from Space and the Colors they Come In”
Gary Goodyear isn’t just your everyday creationist- he’s also a chiropractor.
And Canada’s Minister for science and technology.
Brandishing his armament of substandard comprehension skills when it comes to anything scientific, Garry trotts the vibrant flowerbeds of Canada’s scientific community regurgitating wherever he sees fit with the sort of malice that’s typically reserved for Nigerian mass-emailers and debt-collecting pedophiles.
Back in 2008, when the Harper cabinet appointed Goodyear as the Minister of State for Science and Technology, no one really knew too much about this chiropractor who dropped out of psychology at Ontario’s University of Waterloo other than the fact that his professional knowledge seemed to revolve around the frontier and academically celebrated study of sports injuries.
Thankfully this all changed following an interview with Toronto’s Globe & Mail in 2009 which revealed Garry for the book-burning, logic-leaching demonic entity that he is. The tone of the interview changed drastically when the topic of evolution was touched. When asked about something related to evolution, Gary replied:
“I am a Christian, and I don’t think anybody asking a question about my religion is appropriate.”
Naturally, everyone with an education that surpasses the one Tommy Lee received in NBC’s six episode long reality show “Tommy Lee Goes To College” expressed utter shock at this. The shit-typhoon this statement caused of course created more questioning. Goodyear was approached throughout the day, asking to clarify what he had said. He was very dismissive, for the most part, consistently tossing aside any requests to discuss the comment. Instead he would simply present vague half-answers which also showcased his poor language skills:
“I do believe that just because you can’t see it under a microscope doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It could mean we don’t have a powerful enough microscope yet. So I’m not fussy on this business that we already know everything. … I think we need to recognize that we don’t know.”
Says the minister who took a couple of first and second year science classes (physics and chemistry) before dropping out of university. Could someone clarify what in the hell that means and how a politician can possibly wield such awful eloquence (lack thereof, rather)? This entire situation seems wretchedly reminiscent of the first three Star Wars Episodes wherein we knew that Darth Sidious was controlling the entire Republic Senate by slithering his way into the leadership and posing as Chancellor Palpatine.
I mean, seriously. I can accept the fact that we have silly MP‘s (congressmen for the folks reading this from the States) from time to time that have strange religion-fueled opinions (say creationism), but holy shit – the Minister of SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY?
Later that same day, when this became an popular issue, Goodyear was eventually pressured into admitting that he “believes in evolution” (likely on the advice of a political advisor). Let’s take a look at his exact statement, as it appeared on CTV, the Canadian broadcasting channel.
“We are evolving, every year, every decade. That’s a fact. Whether it’s to the intensity of the sun, whether it’s to, as a chiropractor, walking on cement versus anything else, whether it’s running shoes or high heels, of course, we are evolving to our environment.”
What sort of a transfigured, convoluted, deformed, mangled, mutated, degenerate interpretation is that? That’s one step short of saying something to the effect of
“Yeah, I believe humans posses souls, in fact, I work for a footwear manufacturer and a large part of my company specializes in marketing soles that will ensure people are comfortable in their day to day travels”
To this day, Goodyear has not answered for these statements or clarified his position, which is clearly that of a man who is suspicious of science. Guess what he’s done instead? CUT FUNDING TO EVERYTHING.
In his spare time, Goodyear enjoys tinkering with motorcycles, reading up on athletic injuries and authorizing mass funding cuts to some of Canada’s most critical government granted scientific undertakings. At the start of 2009, he oversaw funding withdrawals of almost $150 million, including that of the Genome Project, Canada. His cuts left many senior researchers scrambling and struggling for means to continue their work. Many of them did not.
Canada’s scientific community is in despair. And that’s your asshole of the day; the honourable Gary Goodyear.
References gathered via [The Globe & Mail] [CBC] [Goodyear Cuts Funding Again and Again]In response to concern in the comments section of this post (Goodyear never expressly admitted to being a creationist), I have gone to the excruciatingly painful [to my ego] effort of adding a question mark to the end of this page’s title.
What better place to test out your new cool new psychedelics than a small town in the Nazi-trampled, grief-stricken, war-ravaged remnants of a post second world war France? Apparently the CIA couldn’t think of any. Plus I can’t imagine them being dreadfully fond of the French (what with all the anti-French anecdotes littering American comedy).
On August 15th 1951, residents of the Southern French village of Pont Saint Espirit underwent what appeared to be an inexplicable mass psychosis. At the time the incident was simply dubbed “the cursed bread” as the villagers who had consumed bread that day seemed to be those who were the most strongly affected. By the incident’s end- which spanned three days- 5 people had died and over 50 had been entered into asylums.
One man reportedly thought his heart had somehow exited his chest and pleaded a doctor to retrieve and return in it to it’s place. Another believed himself to have taken on some of the characteristics of a warplane and jumped of a roof expecting to fly, but unsurprisingly shattering his legs in the process. An 11 year old boy attempted to strangle his grandmother. The list of oddities goes on. Around 300 people reported strange hallucinations, all of those that died had committed suicide.
The leading theory at the time didn’t seem too uniform. Ergot- the fungus from which LSD is synthesized- was thought to be the culprit. It wouldn’t be the first time: ergot grows on rye, and before modern food processing techniques, it’d sometimes make its way into rye bread, causing strange visions, hypertension and death in an wretched casserole of incomprehensible hallucinations and jaw-numbing pain known as St. Anthony’s Fire. However, if this were the case and the ergot infestation had somehow bypassed the safety protocols at food processing facilities and made it into the villagers’ bread supply, many of the afflicted would have been met with physiological deaths, rather than serious psychotic episodes resulting in suicides. Other theories proposed over the years included mercury poisoning and trichloramine bleach (illegal bleaching of bread) poisoning. Again, the problem with these hypotheses was the fact that there were no direct deaths to speak of and no autopsies revealed a poison or contaminant.
In recent years American investigative journalist Hank Albarelli seems to have uncovered a most unusual puzzle, the details of which can be found in his novel “A Terrible Mistake” (link to Amazon book ‘look inside’ preview). Paperwork uncovered involves the CIA confidentially ordering mass amounts of LSD and LSD analogues from the Swiss Sandoz Labs (now Novartis), the leading ergot experimenting facility of the time.
This all began when Albarelli uncovered a document linking the CIA’s Project MKULTRA- which liberally experimented on humans using psychememetic substances- to the Pont Saint Espirit incident. Utilizing the Freedom of Information Act, he was able to uncover a few relevant documents, including one from Sandoz Labs stating that the CIA’s Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, Maryland had commissioned Sandoz to produce a massive quantity of LSD-analogues. The reports suggest that not only the bread at Pont Saint Espirit was tainted, but that attempts were made to release the chemicals in an airborne fashion (those attempts did not appear to bear fruit, although that is not specifically mentioned in any of the reports).
As I read through the pages of Albarelli’s novel that were available to me, something strange (yeah, even stranger) became evident: Albarelli seemed to insinuate that the CIA’s motive behind this entire fiasco was to frighten a microbiologist who was under their own employ into suicide. A certain Frank Olson. This was too much. I don’t typically entertain conspiracy theories and the only reason I had found this one so intriguing was the ironic comedy (French people greatly enjoy and take seeming perverse pleasure in bread, let’s put LSD into it- LOL) and it’s downright bizarre nature.
I immediately began investigating; what started as a Wikipedia search ended in me finding a repository of information gathered by Dr. Frank Orson’s sons attempting to amalgamate as much evidence as possible to prove that their father was assassinated by the CIA through repetitive drugging unbeknownst without warning. One such case occurred when Frank briefly worked in the town of Pont Saint Espirit. Two years after the Pont Saint Espirit incident, Frank committed suicide by jumping from a window while on a dose of LSD which his sons claim he had not ingested of his own free will.
Now Frank Olson’s younglings (who are now in their sixties, so I probably ought not be calling them that) aren’t just your everyday conspiracy-pushing gullible crackpots. One’s a surgeon and the other is a departmental head for research in cell biology at the University of Texas, Southwestern. Their family even received an undisclosed settlement from the US government for their tragedy after three decades of attempting to shine light on what had happened to their father.
This is likely a good juncture for me to reiterate that I’m a very skeptical person (hint: see blog name) and do not easily give in to speculative hypothesizing. An overwhelming quantity of evidence suggests that the CIA drugged a town full of people in France’s wine country, for no reason other than fanciful experimentation and to slowly drive one of their own staff to his demise.
references gathered via
[Albarelli, H. P. (2009); A Terrible Mistake] ISBN 9780977795376 [Kaplan, Steven (2008); Le Paint Maudit] ISBN 9782213636481
[BBC Radio Interviews with Pont Saint Espirit residents] [Press TV] [BBC] [UK Telegraph] [Digital Journal] [UK SUN] [Europe1]
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