Saturday, May 31, 2008

B3ta Album Covers + BNL"Sound of Your Voice"

The folks from b3ta came up with an interesting photoshop challenge: what's going on outside album covers, and it's hilaylay. Here are few of my faves:
I mean how can you not love this? Gaaaaaaargh! Domukun is going to eat your jail bird kittens!!!

Related to the video 3 days ago, my friend Justin pointed out that the Barenaked Ladies had already done a version of the WEEZER "Pork and Beans" video.

Here is the Barenaked Ladies, with the "Sound of Your Voice."

And a list of its stars:
Sound of Your Voice Stars:
  1. Where The Hell Is Matt?
  2. Barats & Bereta
  3. Geriatric 1927
  4. Eepybird
  5. Numa Numa
  6. Album Cover Battle
  7. Brookers
  8. Boh3m3
  9. The Winekone
  10. Winston Spear
  11. Evolution Of Dance
(From my friend Justin)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sex and the Ivy + Oversharing

Sex and the Ivy (SATI) is a racy blog by a zelously oversharing Harvard undergraduate named Lena Chen. She writes about having lots of sex and being at Havard, but mostly the former. It's likely not safe for work, unless you work in entertainment in the San Fernando Valley. Then it probably counts as research.

According to the SATI about page,
In August 2006, she started penning the blog while a sophomore at Harvard. Her first-person accounts of sexual experiences, depression, and the true state of undergraduate life at the world’s premier academic institution spurred campus discussion, prompted media attention, and garnered a loyal following. Quickly becoming a controversial figure, she has been criticized by some as “morally reprehensible” and praised by others for encouraging frank sexual dialogue.
That's what SHE said. Though Lena is not the first nor the last to overshare, Sex and the Ivy is practically defines oversharing. Lena just types in whatever gross thoughts pop into her head, and in a sick way, it's fascinating. She lets us know way too much information way too soon. I can't unread what I've read, so instead I'm passing it on to you.

On a related note, Emily Gould wrote a brilliant piece this week for the New York Times Magazine about oversharing online titled Exposed. (It's a doozie and might take several sittings to finish... unless you have buns of steel.)

I love the piece's treatment of getting sucked into the interwebs comments vortex, being famous for fifteen people, and the public vs. private spheres. Emily's confession at the beginning that she was, "seeking gratification from strangers at the expense of the feelings of someone [she] actually knew and loved," lends an automatic authenticity and clarity to the piece. Perhaps out of habit, she is not afraid to shine a harsh objective light on herself. This is both the secret to her ingratiation and her downfall. Oh hubris!

Runner up:
The Firefox people have a clever little marketing ploy to announced their latest version. They are trying to break a Guiness World Record, namely, most software downloaded in 24 hours. When will that fateful download day be? Whenever they feel like it. Because they're Mozilla, that's why.

(From Buzzfeed)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Amir and Streeter Prank War

Okay, I know, College Humor gets old, but hold your breath and hear me out.

Aspiring comedians Jake and Amir work at College Humor and have this eponymous site going on where they post videos whose chief quality is being shot by a camera more expensive than my car. They're celebrating two years of comedy vlogging and blah blah blah. Frankly, this new video is not that good.

But it reminded me of Amir's old prank war with Streeter from a year ago, which was good. At the time. Or at least I vaguely remember it seeming like a good idea at the time. Kind of like playing Edward 40 hands. Maybe those are things that should only be enjoyed while in college. I digress.

It's a veritable trainwreck that you can't peel your eyes off of. I like the cringe-worthy escalation, the brutal exposition of Amir's childlike pettiness, and their collective attention whoring. Those qualities are so blatant and raw that they lend authenticity to an otherwise completely contrived video war. Enjoy!

Audio Prank! from streeter seidell on Vimeo.

Prank War Continues... from Amir on Vimeo.

The Prank War Goes On! from streeter seidell on Vimeo.

Prank War Continued: Streeter Bombs from Amir on Vimeo.

Prank War 5: Amir's Big Break (with Human Giant) from streeter seidell on Vimeo.

And the Yankee Prankee conclusion, not available for embedding in this already too-bloated entry.

(From Metafilter past and Metafilter present)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Weezer Video, “Pork and Beans”

The new Weezer Video, “Pork and Beans” is a giant Interweb meme fest. In order of appearance, here are the allusions and references that I caught (feel free to send in more via the comments).

1. Funtwo's bedroom guitar playing
2. Numa Numa Dance Guy (Gary Brolsma)
3. Dramatic Look chipmunk
4. Afro Ninja
5. The Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments
6. GI Joe Spoof PSAs with a drawn in Guy Catches Glasses with Face
7. 155 shirts at once guy (Matt McAllister)
8. Chris Crocker from Leave Britney Alone!
9. All your base are belong to us (arguably the grand-daddy of Internet memes)
10. Ms. South Carolina (Lauren Caitlin Upton) wielding the Star Wars Kid's light saber
11. Evolution of Dance
12. Tay Zonday
13. Popozão douche video by K-Fed
14. Daft Hands, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
15. Daft Punk Harder Bodies Faster Stronger
16. Kelly from Shoes
17. All hell breaks loose: Dancing CGIs, peanut butter jelly time banana, will it blend?, Charlie the Unicorn

Overall, it was a fun way to celebrate the Interwebs. The only thing that would have made this video better would have been adding Star Wars Kid (Ghyslain). Too bad he hates his Internet icon status and won't have any of it. I guess getting an iPod from meme propeller Andy Baio way back in the summer of 2003 was no consolation. Great job, Interwebs.(From Buzzfeed)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Powerset is a better way to search and discover information on the Internets and in Wikipedia articles. Named after a geeky math term, the San Francisco company was founded in 2005 and launched this month. The guys explain what it's all about:
"In the search box, you can express yourself in keywords, phrases, or simple questions. On the search results page, Powerset gives more accurate results, often answering questions directly, and aggregates information from across multiple articles. Finally, Powerset’s technology follows you into enhanced Wikipedia articles, giving you a better way to quickly digest and navigate content."
In sum, they are making strides at natural language search. Kind of like what Ask Jeeves failed to do. But more important than that, they built an understanding search engine. It "gets" what it's searching for. It acts less like a robot and more like person, and it makes a collage of information from various sources, tailored to answer your question.

Example: I tested it out by typing in: "how many americans are uninsured," and the top results were all about health care, even though I made no mention of medicine in my query. Answer: around 46 million. Ace.

When I tried to ask questions in a non-natural way I got wonky results, haha. So there you go.
Overall grade: A for awesome. Good engine, decent design. Plus, they have mustaches, and who doesn't like people with 'staches?
In Other News:

The Grey Lady explains the genius of XKCD. "Mr. Munroe believes that analyzing a joke is like dissecting a frog — it can be done, but the frog dies."

(From msittig's Metafilter comment)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Facebook Gangsta

Facebook Gangsta (FBG) is a spoof video that needs to be 3 minutes shorter by Nick Miller, Otto Cedeno, Sean Modica, Arthur Colombino, and Fifth Column. The production values are what take an otherwise poor video and raise it up to mediocre. FBG's website contains more purchasing opportunities than an IPO bonanza. Still, it has some good lines, and the inclusion of Bookface makes it worth noting.

FBG hails from a long succession of white boys making r&b, rap, and hip hop videos. I'm not sure what it is with the deluge of these kinds of video lately, but only half of those are funny. The unfunny half is unfunny when it appears to try too hard, or lets false modesty slip through. The result is a little cringeworthy. (Though when they do get the flow down, it is funny.) Enjoy!

Weird Al, the king of White & Nerdy Rap!

PS: Happy Memorial Day!
(From LS)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

All My Faves

All my faves is a graphical list of links that hurts my design eyes. As guy put it, "it's awesome after you get through the visual barf." But... I can pack up and go home now. You can see every awesome website ever here. And some non awesome ones. Click away and enjoy!

(From my friend Guy, Link Finding Machine )

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace

Internet Party 2: An Intervention for MySpace (IP2) is a ridiculously long name for a hilarious video by the comedy group Those Aren't Muskets (TAM). Those Aren't Muskets is comprised of UCSD alumni Michael Swaim, Abe Epperson, Ryan Ricketts, Lara Pickle, Brian Kelly, and UCSD student Brett Rader. (Thank you Brett, for being slow with your studies and ruining my sentence structure.)

Founding members Michael Swaim and Abe Epperson met while "working" at UCSD's satire publication, The MQ, and it was magic ever since. Recently, TAM has gained some positive publicity via a top ten placement in YouTube's Sketchy's II Comedy Contest, a feature in the San Diego Union-Tribune, and a review on

The IP2 video is basically a giant meme-fest referencing famous websites and poking fun of their place on the Interwebs hierarchy. It is indubitably the funniest thing on the Interwebs today. I actually laughed out loud at the end. I know I say this about once a month, but it really happened this time and it has only truly ever happened twice. Check it out for yourself here, because I can't prevent the video from auto-starting, which is hyper annoying.

I like that IP2 has a simple, solid narrative with jokes delivered at a rapid-fire pace. And subtle backhanded zings. And a line punch. Plus, it alludes to intervention shows and the Interwebs, two of my favorite things.

Overall: a biased A. Would have been an A+ if the footage wasn't so grainy.
(From my friend Cammie, Link Hunter)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wry Baby

Wry Baby is a baby clothes and baby shower gift store whose slogan is "raise funny people." It was founded by San Francisco parents Kelly and David Sopp. According to their self-promoting, third-person-voiced about page,
Their T-shirts, baby body suits and accessories, with slogans like "I'm Not a Girl" and “I Might Barf” are becoming a huge hit among Hollywood stars and the new generation of hipster parents.
Wry Baby has stores in the US, Australia, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Caymans, and Singapore. The best part of the site are the cheeky books, in particular, Pregnancy Tips by the Sopps. It's hilarious. A few samples:

What can I say, I'm a sucker for these funny instructional-looking black and white photos. Ever since the modified airline safety card drawings came out, it was downhill from there.

PS: Sorry I lagged. I literally had this entry almost all ready to go, and fell asleep before publishing it. :( :)
(From Everyone and their mom)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Justin: the artist

Justin Crisostomo is a Bay Area raised, San Diego art student, avid YouTuber, and musician extraordinaire. He graduated from UCSD in 2007 with a degree in Psychology, and quickly put his talents to better use by working full time to "level up" on his art skills.

Justin has played guitar for The Rio Trio, The Snapsons, The Snapkins, Starpower, and Zsos. Zsos is self-described as YouTube's house band who takes requests from viewers. (Nota bene — not house as in electronic dance music... but rather house band as in band who regularly plays at an establishment. And yes, the establishment in question is the Interwebs.)

(Zsos strikes a pose. Zandi, left, and Justin, right, take a break from playing in Chula Vista, CA.)

The name Zsos is a portmanteau of its group member's names: Zandi de Jesus and Justin Crisostomo. They often feature talented guitarist and San Diego resident Mu-Hua Cheng. All three musicians graduated from UCSD, though Zandi recently moved to New York and is currently slated to play Marcy Park in the national tour of the musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Check out this Zsos (feat. Mu-Hua Cheng) clip. They're covering Jason Mraz's song "Who Needs Shelter?"
The song is hopeful and happy and stoically sad all at once. Justin's girlfriend points out in this clip's YouTube comments that he is playing his not-often seen guitar, Michelle. I especially like the harmonies in this song, and the guitar dialog. Is that a valid thing to say? I think guitars talk. (Also, I think that if I leave the closet doors open at night the closet monster will kill me... so what do I know. I digress.)

Justin rarely presents non-collaborative efforts, so here is a rare solo effort. He is covering "When I Fall" by the Barenaked Ladies:
The guitar work is particularly impressive; faithful to the original while still infusing original emphasis. The vocal work conveys more tranquility than Ed's slightly more anguished version. Justin is equally comfortable finger-picking crisp notes and driving a rhythm with lush strums.

(Justin meets his musical idol, Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies, left.)

Overall, A+. Obvious awesome points for multidisciplinary creativity and technical competency. Triple bonus points for being the house band of the Interwebs.

PS: SURPRISE JUSTIN! Happy Birthday!!! Disclaimer: This review is completely biased, like the entire Interwebs, due to my personally knowing 3 of the 4 people pictured. Justin was my buddy RA in college and he is 23 years old (+1 day) today. Oooooooooldzors.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Children's Drawings Reenacted

I have no idea who or why or how, but some Koreans (I think) reenacted some children's drawings, and it is without a doubt the coolest thing on the Interwebs today. It's whimsical, naif, and wonderful.

Previously here on TOTI we covered graph jokes. Buzzfeed is calling them officially a trend today. Were it not for this, you would have gone the whole day without thinking about Right Said Fred or Andrew Lloyd Webber. Did I say day? I meant decade.

(From ginetteginette)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Waxy and The Whitburn Project

Back in 2006 Hans Rosling (physician, statistician... and fallacy mortician?) gave a TED talk about the importance of making pretty pictures out of data. He used graphics and animations to bring data alive and debunk common myths about the state of world health. The man is an International Health expert and Swedish caricature, which makes him interesting to watch and impossible to disagree with. You can tell he really cares about his research. This post is not about Hans.

It's about blogger Andy Baio, who really cares about the Billboard Top 100. It's like Andy took Hans' TED lecture to heart and made all the possible graphic images he could muster about pop music. You're probably wondering where he got all his data.

No? I'll tell you anyway. Basically, a dedicated group has been working on the Whitburn Project, which aims to "preserve and share high-quality recordings of every popular song since the 1890s." To help themselves keep organized, they made a master spreadsheet detailing song name, artist name, song length, BPM, all that jazz. As Andy puts it:
"they've created a spreadsheet of 37,000 songs and 112 columns of raw data, including each song's duration, beats-per-minute, songwriters, label, and week-by-week chart position. It's 25 megs of OCD, and it's awesome."
So Andy took that data and made pretty pictures out of it. Have you ever casually wondered about song duration trends? No? Well Andy has, and does, and takes it to the pro level. Check out his chart:The cool thing about charts is they help humans see trends, and make inferences. Andy surmises that the reasons for the peaks and surges:
The capacity for 45 RPM records was about three minutes, setting the standard for pop singles well into the 1960s. By the late 1960s, those constraints were removed, and we start to see longer singles. But without artificial constraints, why did exactly four minutes become the de facto standard in the 1980s and 1990s?
Mystery! I can't help but think that "November Rain" and "Trapped in the Closet" must throw this chart off so much that Andy will need to recalculate with "median duration" to fix it.

Little known fact: Guns N' Roses is not working on Chinese Democracy; they're bunkered in a studio somewhere finishing up "November Rain." The 9 minute version you heard on the radio was a rough cut. (Tell your friends you read that on the Interwebs, so it must be true.)

I like Andy's analysis because it's boring enough to make you feel smart, but it's about pop songs so that makes it fun. It's even edumacational. I learned that:
  • Track diversity is down and thus despite what you may have taken away that movie, one-hit-wonders are not exclusive 1960s (especially when adjusted for lower overall track diversity).
  • The longest-charting one-hit wonder to appear anywhere in the Top 100 is Duncan Sheik's "Barely Breathing" from 1997, which peaked at #16 but stayed in the top 100 for 55 weeks.
  • Math is hard.
Viva pop!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Portion Size, Then and Now

Portion Size, Then and Now is an article by Liz Monte on the froofy women website Divine Caroline. It has pretty pictures showing portion sizes twenty years ago versus portion sizes today.

Basically, the article is a rehash of your high school Health Education class. And that's it. Nothing too fancy, just straightforward facts to make you feel slightly smug about why you're slightly overweight. These are my favorite three quotes:

1) A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Americans consume around 10 percent more calories than they did in the 1970s. Given no change in physical activity, this equates to around 200 extra calories per day, or 20 pounds a year.

2) When confronted with a 32-ounce drink for 99 cents versus a 44-ounce drink for ten cents more, the decision is easy. You’d have to be a sucker not to go big. But our ability to get the most out of our dollar doesn’t always serve us well. Value pricing, which gets us a lot more food or drink for just a little increase in price, makes sense from an economic standpoint, but is sabotage from a health standpoint.

3) People with the large size ate more than those with the medium size, regardless of how participants rated the taste of the popcorn.

In conclusion, I'm really hungry.

Runner up:

Some dude named Richard Watson is hawking his latest book. I know nothing about this book, except that it contains a cheeky extinction timeline. (And also, I'm going to go ahead and guess it's not by the deceased British Methodist Theologian Richard Watson.) The timeline has a solid mix of real events and fake future events. Can't wait until "getting lost" and "household chores" come true.(From The Kott, and LS via The Presurfer)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer?

Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer? (PLISK) is a self-explanatory quiz hosted on Does it really need to be a page by page click-through quiz? No. Will taking this quiz contribute to society in any way? No. Is it still fun? Yes. Mostly because the quiz comes complete with sounds like screeching typewriters and people.

The quiz is slightly educational. For example, I learned that Eiffel is a stupid name for a programming language, and to mistrust any pasty men with poor social skills.

Matt Round created the site Malevole "to experiment with new interfaces and ideas." The name is a reduction of the word "malevolent" to fit 8 characters (as Matt had to do for usernames on some systems). The site is a giant design mess, but it indeed is different than anything I've seen so far. Malevole features many projects like an interesting dummy-text generator for when you're sick of Lorem Ipsum, and a Toast Leaners' Club.

I got a 7/10 on the PLISK. Bonne chance!

(From my friend T.J. Go T.J!)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Things Younger Than McCain

As long as we slipped in political non-commentary this week... let's add more.

Things Younger Than McCain (TYTM) is an ageist humor website written anonymously by a Barak supporter, designed to post smears at Republican presidential nominee John McCain (b. August 29, 1936). It lists things that are younger than John McCain.

The Huffington Post and WaPo unmasked the site's author as Steve Rosenthal, a former political director at the AFL-CIO and executive director of America Coming Together. The site is both horrible and horribly funny.

I resisted featuring TYTM earlier not because I agree or disagree with its Machiavellian goal, but because it's kind of shallow and one-sided. You know, like When Obama Wins, Barak Obama is Your New Bicycle, or the entire Interwebs. But today is different. After some soul-searching, the author went meta and wrote TYTM's latest entry on why TYTM isn't ageist. Contrary to its thesis, the post doesn't provide compelling evidence as to why TYTM isn't ageist so much as offers apologies for why it's okay to be ageist. (I guess it could be worse. At least the post doesn't go on tangents explaining why women or people of color are in fact suitable for presidential office...)

I say don't ruin the joke or apologize for it. Just run with it.

The delightful part of the website is the non-politically related part: discovering things you think of as really old are in fact only moderately old. I couldn't stop flipping through until I read all of it. A few things I had no idea were younger than John: nylon, the Hindenburg disaster, Grapes of Wrath, the TV dinner, Baskin Robbins, defibrilation on people, Obama's mama, the Golden Gate bridge, Kodachrome, Bugs Bunny, Alaska, and the AARP (the association itself, not all its members' ages combined).

After the thorough reading, I thought about the incredible speed of our technological progress. Then I came to the conclusion that I must have been asleep for 3/4 of my history classes, as opposed to a previously estimated figure of 1/2.

I love the accompanying pictures. But what's with the pixel barf at the end of each post? I know, I know, it's self-advertisement for the site, but they make something that doesn't look like a Tetris game cracked open all over the floor? Fanks.

B - for Baraktastic.
(From my friend T.J.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gwap: Games With a Purpose

The Interwebs have been so awesome lately, I honestly didn't know what to write up first. I decided to do this one today because if I disappear for 5 weeks in a gaming frenzy, you'll know what happened.

Gwap is a game site whose acronym stands for "Games With A Purpose." The purpose in question is to make computers more intelligent while you have fun. Gwap launched on Tuesday, and thus endeth any of hope of productivity for me this year. It's that good.

So far there are five games you can play:
  1. ESP Game: You and a partner describe an image. When you come up with matching words, you get points.
  2. Tag a Tune: You and a partner describe a tune in words, and decide if you're listening to the same thing or not. If you're right, you get points.
  3. Verbosity: Kind of like taboo. You and a partner alternate between guesser and describer. You are given a word and asked to fill in blanks (such as the word is a kind of [blank], related to [blank], opposite of [blank]).
  4. Squigl: Trace an object, if your trace matches your partner's, you win points.
  5. Matchin: Given two photos, pick the one that you like best. If it matches what your partner likes, you win points.
Verbosity is my favorite. When you reach 1000 points you hear a trumpet fanfare. When the time is running out you hear the metronome tick down. It's fun to come up with unusual combinations and see if the idea is transmitted. I mean, sure, when faced with "talk is [blank]" you can fill in communication or speech. But it's much more fun to complete with "cheap." By itself that's a confusing, misleading clue, but after a long line of synonyms it can clinch a win.

For example, during a round I had to describe "crowd." I had already written that it was a gathering, it looked like many people, and was often near fights. One of the few things had yet to complete was, "it's a kind of [blank]." Nothing obvious came to mind, but then I thought of "sourcing." My geeky computer game partner got it right away.

Speaking of which, this is crowdsourcing at its best. For the ESP game, the more people tag an image with the same words, the more confident the computer is about what is in that image. Which means are able to have more accurate image search engines, which means everybody wins. I love it. The best part is, no one is stuck with the boring repetitive task of tagging every image ever (which wouldn't work really anyway) — instead, tagging comes organically from game play.

I wonder how good they will be at filtering out unrelated, but frequent words that are entered as messages from partner to partner (such as "hurry" "up" "you" "slow" "turtle."). The creators also have started sketches of a social networking/profile/chat component to the site (meh), which could cut down on messages-via-guesses.

I couldn't get through to tag-a-tune, there are always too many people playing it. The other games are also fun though.

This site is the pièce de résistance of Carnegie Mellon mastermind and chief engineer Mike Crawford, talented graphic designer Ryan Staake, and illustrious code peons Mike Brotzman, Severin Hacker, Edith Law, Bryant Lee, Luis von Ahn, and Edison Tan. These fine folks previously brought us the Google Image Labeler, Peekaboom and reCAPTCHA, all which would be fine topics for their own Today on the Interwebs posts.

Grade: A++.(PS: I'm not normally one for overly dramatic political cheap shots, but I couldn't help this picture. It was just too easy. From MagnetBox, Waxy)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

And Sarah

Today's most awesome thing on the Interwebs is an under-valued Youtube web video series called And Sarah, by Sarah Dooley and Rachel Mersky. The two Barnard undergrads write, act out and produce well thought out shorts, which are apparently edited on iMovie.

They score the shorts mostly with their own songs, which are a concentrated blend of Regina Spektor, Joanna Newsom, an off-tune Sara Bareilles, a happy Tori Amos and your ADHD-addled kid sister. Or something. I'm terrible at song critiquing.

It's clear that Sarah Dooley loves The Office and Michael Scott more than life itself. She replicates the awkward social interactions, continuous glib boasting, and fragile-self-esteem-guarding rationalizing. And she's very good at it.

The inaugural episode introduces Sarah as a college freshman struggling to show how well-adjusted she is:

In episode 2, Sarah tries out for the Vagina Monologues.
In episode 3: Sarah goes to one of those party things that kids allegedly go to in college.
A for awesome, girls.
(From my friend Daniel, who got it from our friend Justin, who found it off of Rachel's Youtube.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Video Search Rundown

I was originally going to do this entry about a new video search engine, until I found out it sucks. So then I decided to rate a bunch of video search engines. is a video search engine. I could not get it find anything useful. According to Buzzfeed it uses voice-recognition software to transcribe the audio content of a video, and then search through that. (This is a great idea, like transmitting medical orders via a giant game of telephone.) The end result is Blinkx finds things completely unrelated to your search.

Unless you're looking for really popular things, in which case you could... oh I dunno, use Google video search. Or YouTube. Or your local library's card catalog. I'm sure any of those will be more accurate. And possibly faster. ZING.

Blinkx has an ugly logo, whack advertisements every 5 seconds, and a non-working engine. Way to get me excited about a non-text search, and then failing to meet expectations. D, for dumb. Of course I'm hyperbolically harsh, when I went easy on Midomi. The difference is Midomi has no equals that function better, where as Blinkx does. Onto the ratings for proof!

In a completely unscientific survey involving too small of a sample size for statistical significance, I searched for "30 Rock Uncanny Valley":

1) Google video search and Youtube give me the correct clip:

2) gives me an unrelated clip as the top result, and the wrong 30 Rock clip as the #2 result. It shows the one where Pete uses the word "uncanny". Close but no cigar.

3) Truveo gives me an error message, telling me that to get more results, I should use fewer words in my query. When I just put "uncanny valley" the correct clip comes up as top ranked.
4) Altavista yields 0 results.
5) Yahoo! did not find any results.
6) Clipblast! found no results.
7) AOL video found that sock you lost back in 1997. But no video.
8) Neither did Vidsea.
9) Alltheweb also failed.
10) epic fail!

Total tally of the top video search engines: 2 winners, 1 runner up, and 8 losers. In order to make up for the lameness of these sites, here are 2 tangentially related, quality links: Kottke talks about approaching the uncanny valley from the other side, and links to a list of alternate image searches.

(From Buzzfeed, Kottke, and Wikipedia.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Traveler IQ Challenge

Traveler IQ Challenge (TIQC) is a game that tests how well you know your world, and how fast you can click your mouse. It was made by the creators of TravelPod, a hybrid travel blog and social network site by Luc Levesque.

TIQC prompts you with cities, monuments or famous locales, and you have to click on their location. Speed and accuracy count, though accuracy seems to matter more. After each click, the game shows you a scoreboard of how fast you clicked, and how close you were in kilometers.

The game is embeddable, which is why I first heard of it through Facebook (when it was going around faster than mono at a freshman dorm). I'm still hooked. The fun aspect of TIQC's Facebook feature is you can compare how well you or your workplace /school stack up against others.

The easier levels of this game repeat the same cities a lot. There are no real cheats other than knowing your cities and using a proper mouse. If you find yourself lagging due to ignorance of a specific region, you can work on the subgames that test exclusive regions: North America, Europe, World Capitals, Canada, Asia, UNESCO Sites, Africa, Latin America, Oceania/Australasia, Flags of the World, Photos of the World, USA Challenge, and Amazing Race.

The world map is delicately shaded and really tiny, so when you're playing the world challenge version, good luck finding the Galapagos or Fiji. Actually, make that true for the real world as well. And someone please send this to Ms. South Carolina ASAP, I don't think she knows what a map is. In sum, 1/5 of Americans can't locate the US on a World Map because they don't have this game. So get on it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Every Marriage Is a Courtroom

This American Life (TAL) is a weekly radio program hosted by journalist Ira Glass. In March of last year, the show spawned a television spin-off that airs on Showtime. The TV show kept the same structure, topic, and host. The video below is a preview of This American Life's upcoming June 1st episode, “Every Marriage Is a Courtroom” (Season 2, Episode 5):
The narration in the video borrows from the "Reruns" episode of the radio version TAL. It was animated by John Kuramoto and drawn by cartoonist/comic book artist Chris Ware. Chris makes ample use of geometric shapes, which according to Wikipedia, are achieved through traditional drawing tools as opposed to computers. The colors are computerized, though.

In a PBS interview, Chris explains his overall illustrative strategy: "I see the black outlines of cartoons as visual approximations of the way we remember general ideas, and I try to use naturalistic color underneath them to simultaneously suggest a perceptual experience, which I think is more or less the way we actually experience the world as adults." (No word on whether pot was used during the interview. Judge for yourselves, internauts).

Chris's illustration complements the story nicely. Both deal with perception versus reality, memory versus fact. The animation is compelling, the story is compelling, the whole package is darling. Overall: An A with flying colors.

Last year Chris Ware worked on illustrating a story from another TAL episode: “What I Learned From Television” which you can watch here. In a not-at-all related note, it just so happens that I love that particular radio episode. It's one of my all-time favorite TAL episodes.

In it, Ira Glass talks about how some people were disappointed that he chose to make a TV show out of his radio show, as if there was going to be a war and video was going to kill the radio star. (Some dude yelled out "Judas," as if Ira were "Dylan going electric.") Ira assures everyone the radio show is not going off the air. Plus, video already won the war.

Ira then shares an anecdote about one of his favorite TV shows. He admits to not only watching The OC with his wife Anaheed (!) but to singing its theme song with her every week as the titles roll in (!!!). They sing along with the TV, together, sober, in full voice. His admission is so sincere and starkhe calls attention to the fact that he is a grown-ass man at 47 years old, a responsible part of a married couple, and here he is singing with a Fox teen drama.

It's all very corny and humanizing and sweet, imagining Ira singing the title song "California" with his wife. He says it makes him love his wife, and TV, and everything in the world all at once. And when they took the show off the air, it made him cry and he's "not ashamed to admit it." Only Ira could make that statement sound endearing. The original Phantom Planet song is angsty, not tender; how can Ira possibly inject such feeling and meaning into it? Oh the cognitive dissonance!

So anyway, one Thursday night (likely after the singing spree), Ira and Anaheed were watching The OC's Chrismukkah episode (Season 1). In it, Seth and Summer, who are dating, talk on the phone. Summer says she hears a girl in Seth's room and confronts him. The exchange goes:
SUMMER: "It sounded like a girl"

SETH: "Did it? Butyeah... Wellsure. It... because I'm listening to the radio, and This American Life is on so, there's a girl talking."

SUMMER: "Is that that show by those hipster know-it-alls who talk about how fascinating ordinary people are? Ugh. GAWD."
You can practically hear Summer rolling her eyes. I'm not sure what rolling eyes sound like, but if they had a sound, they'd sound like that. Ira says he literally stood up, looked around, and thought to himself, "Did that just happen? Is that on everybody's Tivo?"

The fact that Ira Glass could be starstruck is kind of funny. That's how Ira and The OC's writers found out they were fans of one another. After telling that anecdote, Ira closes the segment by having Mates of State perform a cover of The OC's theme song, "California." You can hear it here.

The Mates of State cover version fits Ira's story so much better than the original ever could. It's slow, raw and tender. And it's performed by a grown married couple, sober, in full voice. Don't get me wrong The OC is still a terrible showbut if this song and this story don't give you the warm-fuzzies, you don't have a heart.

(From Google Image Search, Laughing Squid, The Ephemerist, and Coudal Partners)

Sunday, May 11, 2008


SORRY I MISSED YOUR PARTY (SIMYP) is a blog made entirely of snarky comments and Flickr pictures of others people's parties. It's one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-this ideas. The site dates back to January 29th, when it posted a picture of some dude chugging from a beer bong at a birthday party. Not just any birthday party, some 35-year-old's birthday party. Context is everything. Enjoy a few blue ribbon winners:

"How do these people know each other?
A successful party is when people who wouldn't normally run in the same circle mingle well. Who doesn't love to make a new friend?" SIMYP

"I'll be the first to admit I'm a bad dancer, but that doesn't really stop me from doing it. This pretty much confirms my worst fears - that when I'm dancing, someone is standing right behind me, cackling with laughter over what a lame white person I am." SIMYP

"Cocaine-fueled arm wrestling. This is from a set of found photos of three people doing cocaine off a mirror on top of a briefcase." SIMYP

"Sorry I Missed Your Toga Party... It looked like an excellent way for me to really just go ahead and test some boundaries in a safe environment. Ok, I admit it. I couldn't find any clean white sheets without stains, so I was too embarrassed to show up." — SIMYP
PS: Happy Mother's Day! To yo momma!

(From Buzzfeed, Twitter, Urban Mixer's photostream, Ben Freeman's photostream)

Saturday, May 10, 2008 is a new animal humor blog edited by Anders, where cute and fuzzy collide. Snuzzy's sole purpose for existing is to sniff out "the funniest Internet pet humor so you don't have to." In other words, they find things you weren't going to look for anyway. Snuzzy claims to gallop out across the cyberwebs and fetch blue-ribbon gut-busting material and drop it on your doorstep, slobber and all, so that you can get your fix when and where you need it. Wow. Yes. I guess they don't hand out blue ribbons every day. This site is almost as trashy as PBR. Almost. To explain the origins of its name, the site "calls in some experts" from to define snuzzy as:
Snuzz·y /’snŭzi/ adj. - primarily pertaining to pets, an adjective that describes the unique quality of being cute and funny at the same time.
If you follow through on that link, you'll notice that the word snuzzy was entered into very recently on April 21st, 2008. By AndersP, whose only other contributions to are the related neologisms "snuzz factor" and "snuzzy." Experts indeed. I'm on to you, Mr. Anders!!!

Snuzzy is heavy on dog and cat entries, probably due to its and roots. It sports an ugly green early-90s corporate carpet motif. Complete with the square swirls. I'll spare you the click through and post the only cool video on the site so far.

The video is titled, "When the Others Don’t Let You Play, Let ‘em Have It!" ... and it's pure genius. I foresee a new wave of macro usage, where whenever someone states something sickeningly sweet on the Interwebs, a barrage of people respond with a single link to this video.

This is everyone's play-by-play reaction when watching the video:

It's pretty much like 2Girls1cup except afterwards, you can still sleep okay at night. Overall, the site itself is extra ugly. Ooooogley. I can't get past the clunky navigation and early 90s color scheme. They have a couple of lolcats and top ten lists, but I don't see the magic yet. Maybe it's one of those things where you have to have a pet to appreciate. D for the site, A for the video. That averages to a C+.

(From Laughing Squid, my friend Xtina)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Pursuit of youth's Julia Sommerfeld wrote a fluff piece called "Pursuit of youth isn’t always pretty." It's a delightfully shallow photo-essay, which makes no pretense of trying to have readable prose. The text is small and squished over to the side.

So maybe "wrote" is the wrong verb there. Should I say, Julia put together a collage? Searched around for aging stars like physicists on the Hubble? The gist is that her essay is like a reader's digest version of Awful Plastic Surgery (with the added bonus of decent design and formatting).

She interviewed Dr. Tony Youn, a Michigan-based board-certified plastic surgeon, and asked him to weigh in on aging stars and guess what plastic surgery they may or may not have had (none of whom he sees as patients). That's right. They're not even sure. Or if they are, they're not willing to get sued. Take it or leave it: these are aging stars, and we're not even sure they went under the knife.

The end result, to me, is interesting as a reflection on age and aging, and
how far we're willing to push the boundaries of teenage-dom. It's creepy to see the slow, inexorable decay of familiar faces. Some of them morph into melting barbie doll faces (Bruce Jenner much?). It drags down America's pseudo-pantheon in a rude yet humanizing reality checkno amount of money or fame can save you from death.

Or you know, just enjoy flipping through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Johnny Depp's gaunt cheeks: a sure sign of impending scurvy. Aaaaargh!

Sheryl Crow's ridiculous resistance to aging: natural stubbornness or chemical peel?

This Wayne Newton guy is allegedly famous. Be sure to print this out and present it to your children as a case study of a face that GOT STUCK THAT WAY. Then be sure to email him danke schoen for the obedient kids.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Learn 35+ Languages

Learn 35+ Languages for Free in iTunes is a wonderful little post on LifeClever, a site which aims to "help you design, work, and live better." In other words, so far as I can tell, LifeClever is a rip-off of Lifehacker.

Still. The post merely lists free iTunes podcasts that help you learn languages... But zomg there are 926 lessons! And counting.

To hear the lessons, you need to have iTunes installed, and allow your browser to launch it. You don't need to have a Mac, you don't need to "download" the podcasts (you can choose to stream them), and best of all it doesn't cost anything. But for the curmudgeonly hardcore windows-only purists, come back to TOTI tomorrow to see something completely different.

There's a bunch of traditional type lessons such as French, German, and Hawaiian. Then there are the barely-qualify-as-lessons podcasts like Sexy Spanish with Nancy. Oh Nancy. You're such a cartoony stereotype. No wonder you only managed to get through one podcast. Or Hot For Words, which is one flimsy t-shirt away from qualifying as porn. I totally lollercoastered.

Overall, great find. I admit part of the reason this won was because the author of the post is learning Brazilian Portuguese. (Through Rosetta Stone, no less, which means he shelled out big bucks!) Clearly, this guy is a language hero worthy of mention.

(From Popurls and gemüs' photostream)