Archive for Geek Culture & Tech

XKCD: Star Trek Into Darkness

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I think it should be capitalized :)



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The Autistic Boy Who Loved Siri

Oftentimes, it’s the people on the fringe that make things interesting.

You and I deal with Siri and other forms of artificial intelligence as some sort of novelty toy: cool for a little while, but ultimately boring and algorithmic.

It’s people like Gus — the 13-year-old autistic boy in this New York Times article – that remind us of the potential of all the amazing things we take for granted.

Do take a few minutes to read this article to see how magic still exists. You may not recognize it for what it is, but to this boy and his mom, Siri is nothing short of magic.

Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his BFF. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. After a while I heard this:

Gus: “You’re a really nice computer.”

Siri: “It’s nice to be appreciated.”

Gus: “You are always asking if you can help me. Is there anything you want?”

Siri: “Thank you, but I have very few wants.”

Gus: “O.K.! Well, good night!”

Siri: “Ah, it’s 5:06 p.m.”

Gus: “Oh sorry, I mean, goodbye.”

Siri: “See you later!”

That Siri. She doesn’t let my communications-impaired son get away with anything. Indeed, many of us wanted an imaginary friend, and now we have one. Only she’s not entirely imaginary.

This is a love letter to a machine. It’s not quite the love Joaquin Phoenix felt in “Her,” last year’s Spike Jonze film about a lonely man’s romantic relationship with his intelligent operating system (played by the voice of Scarlett Johansson). But it’s close. In a world where the commonly held wisdom is that technology isolates us, it’s worth considering another side of the story.

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How Marble is Made

From the category of things I did’t know were so awesome: How they harvest marble.



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Streak: Inbox Awesomeness You Must Have

Streak falls under the category of things that are so awesome I’m consciously willing to become a brand cheerleader for free. It’s just a really, really great piece of software.

I found it by mistake while going through Quora, and it has CHANGED MY LIFE.

Basically, if you use Gmail and Chrome, you can add Streak to your Chrome and make your Gmail much better than it already is. That’s really saying something, because we all know that Gmail is probably the best piece of software ever created. Making Gmail even better is no easy task.

Streak lets you organize stuff, and create activity pipelines, reminders, email templates, and more. My job has become so much easier after I created a “Translation” pipeline and a project pipeline.

Get Streak today and organize your life.

Disclaimer: I do not know the people behind Streak nor am I involved with them or with Streak. It is just so cool that I want people to use it so that the Streak guys can continue developing this great product. Get it now.



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Is medieval armor as absurd to use as it seems?

The answer is no, it is not.

In this terribly-made but REALLY cool video made by Le Musée National du Moyen-Âge de Cluny” shows exactly how easy it is to move (and even do jumping jacks) in 14th-century armor.

This is really awesome. Now I want myself some armor, though I don’t mind settling for this:



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That one game you loved as a kid that you’ve been trying to remember for years

It was my favorite PC game as a kid, and for years, I’ve been trying to remember it’s name. I googled it of course, but I guess I never used to right keywords.

After struggling all weekend with the name, I finally found it: Skyroads.

skyroad

OHMYGOD.

I first played in in 1993 or 1994, because it was the only game available in the school’s computer lab. Then I nagged and nagged and nagged until my father got it for us to play at home too.

You can play it on a emulator here: http://hummezum.hu/swfroads/

It is so cool, and much more difficult that I remember. I’m surprised that we used to race and do so well. The history is also interesting. It was developed by an Estonian programmer who later was also a part of developing Skype and Kaza.

Who used to play it and love it too?



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