Saturday, August 29, 2009

Emojicons on Your iPhone

(What, you don't have an iPhone?)

Emoji (Japanese emoticons, and these ones are very Japanese) are on your iPhone, but activating them, not so easy. I'm not sure what the technical details are behind all of this (I'm curious about it, but not so that I'm going to kill myself Googling), but I just did this on my 3GS and it works.

You need to get this (free) app and follow the directions. There are, apparently, other apps that work as well, so I assume the app makes a call (software call, not phonecall) to the Japanese emoji character set, so the phone then makes it available, but that's just a guess. Some of the emojicons are a little strange, but there are a lot of them. Make sure you use the "updated" number, not the one in the illustrations. No idea why you need to enter those numbers in that order, but it worked.

30k Years Ago...

As you can see from the lonely "History" tag, this has nothing to do with technology. Instead, it is about a 30,000 or so year old bear skull, that some pre-historic person placed on a rock in a cave and left there. And there it sat. For a few years. And a few more. A century. One-thousand years. Another thousand years. Ten thousand years. More! Until we modern humans found it, in Chauvet cave in France. (Click on "Visit the Cave", then in the upper right of the map find the green dot that is "The Chamber of the Skull". Click it.)

This is pretty cool. Why? Don't we find old bones, well, not all the time, but, museums are full of them. Yes. But, usually they are in the ground, surrounded by datable strata, or maybe a tar pit, or, like a mammoth, frozen in ice (or like The Ice Man). Granted the bear skull was underground, in the sense that the cave is under the ground, but it was not in the ground, it was sitting on a rock the entire time. Yes we find rock paintings, but those are painted onto rocks. You can't move them.

Typically when we find things that old they are not just sitting there. King Tut's tomb was amazing because it was fairly, but not completely, undisturbed, and is a little over 3,300 years old (so The Ice Man is about 200 years older). Stonehenge is about 4,500 years old. The Egyptian pyramids, which are also stone structures that have been out in the open, are about the same age. But our little skull friend was already ancient when all of those were built.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Second Life, eh?

As part of my current research, I checked out Second Life on and off for about two weeks. There is some interesting stuff there, since it is almost entirely community created content and user generated content, but let's face it a lot of people are creepy when you give them anonymity.

A lot of businesses had trumpeted their entry into the brave new world of Second Life, then silently withdrew when they realized they had been snookered by marketing fear-peddlers yet again. So, lots of Google results for "company name" and "Second Life" which give you articles on their awesome new presence in-world. Ha. Nothing for when they leave, though, but I did finally find one article--thank you, Rupert Neate at the Telegraph. There are so many good quotes in it, you can read it and choose your favorite, since I can't choose just one to print here to entice you to go read it.

Ok ok, here's one, but the entire article is full of win (that means it is all really good).

While the site is still beloved by geeks and the socially awkward, Deloitte’s director of technology research, Paul Lee, says it has been “virtually abandoned” by “normal” people and businesses.

Eventually I decided I needed a haiku, encouraged by some work about craigslist. Here it is:

Second Life presence!
The press releases blooming!
Silently we leave.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Penny Arcade and Psychology

I have long suspected it, from their expressed wisdom... Or perhaps in contrast to the idiocy one encounters online... But, I would not be surprised to find that Tycho has an advanced degree in communication studies or psychology. (Of course, he doesn't, and he's making a very basic observation, but, one that some people never seem to get.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

People and Change (Time)

From Grandin's Fordlandia, p. 224.

[Ford] was twenty-two when, in 1885, most of Detroit refused to obey a municipal ordinance to promote "the unification of time," as the campaign to get the United States to accept the Greenwich meridian as the universal standard was called. "Considerable confusion" prevailed, according to the Chicago Daily Tribune, as Detroit "showed her usual conservatism in refusing to adopt Standard Time." It took more than two decades to get the city to fully "abandon solar time" and set its clocks back twenty-eight minutes and fifty-one seconds to harmonize with Chicago and the rest of the Midwest (the city would switch to eastern standard time in 1915, both to have more sunlight hours and to synchronize the city's factories with New York banks).
Time is relative! (Yes I mean time of day, not the passing of, but that's relative too.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Alternative Computer Games

Via Kotaku, here are three cool indie / alternative games. They're all very different from most computer games, the two from Armor Games are good send-ups of traditional game norms, and the third, from Daniel Benmergui, is just straight up different. Well worth your time.


(added to this post in September)