Some interesting text Viz using the Book of Mormon


I have been working on visualizing text using a variety of tools and I cam across the tools at many eyes. I was impressed by what you can come up with in a short period of time.

The next two compare the wording in the first person section of the BOM to the 3rd person section. now powered by OnSwipe


If you have an ipad, check out the blog from mobile safari. WordPress has a new plugin called onswipe that creates an app-like experience for wordpress blogs. It’s pretty cool, a little slow though, hopefully they’ll fix that. Or, hopefully I’ll get a new ipad . . .

First App – Alphabet Zoo – for now


My buddies and I are starting an educational game company. We’ve been batting around ideas and working on prototypes now for about six month. We just put out our first app, we called it Alphabet Zoo.

Anyway, it’s really exciting for us, we are currently the #2 app in the education category on the ipad and #50 on education on the iphone. We are pretty stoked up about the whole thing. When my buddy sent me the screenshot last night with it showing us in the rankings I thought he was playing a trick on me.

If you have a need to teach a child the alphabet, check it out.

Most Advanced Kinect Tech so Far


In this video, the hacker uses head tracking to control the screen, a wiimote on the gun to detect where the gun points, and the kinect to detect body movement. What he gets is the future of FPS games. This kind of in game immersion is where things will go. Check it out.

For the Love of Karl Pilkington


I first heard of Karl Pilkington in about 2005 or so, I had just gotten an ipod and I started listening to podcasts. The funniest thing I found was The Ricky Gervais Show. Basically it’s about Karl Pilkington, his world view, his ideas and attitudes. Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, the creators of the hit show, The Office, sit and talk with Karl Pilkington, exploring his world view. Speaking of The Office, there are now versions in 6 other countries.

Here’s a little sample of the interaction for an upcoming show featuring Karl Pilkington, An Idiot Abroad

I’m convinced that Karl Pilkington is a well kept secret, he’s a character. Both Gervais and Merchant have repeatedly denied this. I could be wrong, but I think he’s a genius. His flawed mental patterns have a symmetry and internal logic that’s just too much like a cartoon. He’s clearly an idiot, but his idiocy is too perfect to be random. A real idiot’s thoughts would just be a mess, Karl’s ideas have their own integrity, even if they are ridiculous. He’s says some of the most surprising, laugh out loud funny things I’ve ever heard. All the while Ricky and Stephen relentless mock him.

So, I was very excited to hear about his new show, An Idiot Abroad, I will be watching it. Also, there’s a new season of the Ricky Gervais Show on HBO currently airing. Here’s a little sample from that show, my favorite bit, Monkey News:

Fair warning, this clip contains some adult language.

Update on Treadmill Desk


I’ve been using my treadmill desk now for two months. I am glad to report that my back pain has almost subsided. In fact, I went to the gym and lifted weights over the MLK weekend and felt strong and comfortable for the first time in several years.

Because I have a day job that requires me to sit at a desk, I am still sitting way more than what I think is healthy. However, I spend about two hours a day walking. This walking has helped tremendously. I’d like to get this number up to about four hours, but of all the things I’ve done, including physical therapy, road biking, and yoga, walking has been the most helpful.

I’m a big guy, 6’2″, 260 lbs right now. I used to be a big guy that was in solid, now I’m just big. Obviously, this has added to my problem, but even if I was thin, I’m convinced that we’re just not meant to sit down all day long. There are numerous studies that show the ills of a desk job, and not just for lower back pain.

I originally hurt my back lifting weights. This was over two years ago. I had done that before a time or two. In my previous experiences I would lay off for about a month and then start back lifting light weights. It seems like in the past it took about two months to feel back to normal. This last time however, I went six months without any significant improvement.

Finally, I went to a physical therapist. This did help a great deal, but I still had back pain. After that I started to road bike, partly to lose some weight and partly with the hope that the low intensity would help my back heal. Again, I saw some improvement, but I only really felt good right after a work out. Every morning I still woke up feeling very stiff. I also tried Yoga for about six months during this period, again, it helped, but I just wasn’t seeing the kind of recovery that I expected.

I work a day job as an analyst and when I’m home at night I like to work on coding projects. What that means is that I’m seated almost every waking minute. It finally occurred to me that if I didn’t change something, I was going to be in pain the rest of my life. I had heard about the benefits of walking/standing desks. It made sense to me that all the sitting was probably the root of my problem.

I wasn’t really willing to give up my hobby so, I decided that I needed a walking desk. I talked about putting that together in a previous post.

After two months my back feels better, almost completely better, and I think that if I can get my walking up to about four hours at home, I’ll be able to lose a few pounds. I am convinced of the virtue of the standing desk, I’d tell anyone who’s thinking about it, you should try it.

I am easing into it. I can go for about an hour before I start to get uncomfortable. I walk slow, about 1.5 mph and I’ll stop and stand at intervals to rest a little. Overall I feel much better. The biggest impact is that when I wake up in the morning, my back doesn’t hurt. I still have a ways to go before I would consider myself generally healthy, but the big problem that was plaguing my life, constant back pain, is mostly gone.

Amazing Memories


I just found this 60 minutes spot on memory. I question some of the assumptions behind the anchor’s questions, mainly the need to find some liability in an amazing memory, but the piece is fascinating.

Recall isn’t the same as presence. The ability to look inward and call forth a memory isn’t the same thing as having a memory interrupt your train of thought. Why do we assume that the two are inseparable?

Everyone Needs to Watch the Fight Virgin


Dan Krieg is going to train for a year and then compete in an MMA (mixed martial arts) fight. He is recording his progress reality TV style on youtube. Check out the first episode:

He has done about 5 episodes so far and has been at it about 3 months. In that time he has lost 12 pounds and has learned about a handful of techniques and taken his shirt off about 3 times.

A couple of things that make this podcast work is Dan’s sense of humor and his attitude about himself, “I have a proficiency for eating.” Dan is an everyman and I can relate to his ambition to better himself.

His goal is ambitious and his commitment is evident. I can’t wait for his next episode. I love watching this guy’s progress.

Dan is gonna fight in an MMA competition, what are you going to do?

That Girl Moves Like a Dude (Kinect)


New use of Kinect today,

Google’s nGrams all up in yo biznass


Google released its ngram tool and data a few days ago. An ngram is a term used in nlp or natural language processing, using computers to understand language. An ngram is a word combination. It can be a single word or a phrase. The question asked by the analysis is how frequently does this word or phrase get used. It’s reported as a percentage of total.

Google has indexed a large portion of the world’s books and so they are in a position to analyze word frequency questions over time. The frequency of a word over time can be an indication of how language is changing, how cultures and values shift, or can represent interest in a certain topic.

The real question is, “What can we use this data for?” That’s where a researcher needs to be a little creative. Asking the right question is the key to getting an insightful response from this kind of data. If you search the word ngram on tumblr you’ll see some of the ideas that people are having about what might be interesting to look at.

Here are some of mine:

Religion and Science

Men and Women, Boys and Girls

Idiot, loser, retard, moron

Fiber of my being

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