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Online Highlights

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Online Highlights 8

It’s been more than three months since I posted one of these small collections of useful and/or interesting links (click here to see all the previous posts). This time, it’s not because of a lack of interesting websites, but rather because I’ve had other things on my mind. One of those things (among many others) have been cubing, but since I don’t want to clutter this post with cube-related links, I created a links section on my Rubik’s Cube page instead.

Akinator, the Web Genius – I bet most people have played the game called Twenty Questions. This is a web version of the game and itt’s frankly amazing how often “Akinator” gets it right well within twenty questions, even if you think of really odd characters or persons.

Media Convert – free and on line – convert and split sound, ringtones, images, docs – This is simply a very handy online tool to convert any file format inte any other. Extremely useful since you can use it from any computer (I assume most people have decent tools for this on their own computer) and even have the converted file e-mailed to yourself when it’s done.

The Art of Non-Conformity – A promising blog I haven’t really had time to check out, but which looks really interesting.

Ultra-Realistic Modern Warfare Game Features Awaiting Orders, Repairing Trucks – Why realism is not good in gaming. Everybody who thinks that statement is wrong should have a look. Everybody else can have a look, too, because as usual, The Onion is quite funny.

Tony Fisher’s Rubik’s Cube Type Puzzles – If you’ve ever thought Rubik’s cube is tricky or special as a puzzle, you have to see this. Tony Fisher is one of the best known puzzle makers and it’s simply amazing what variety of puzzles he has created so far.

Being foreign: The others – An article from The Economist dealing with living abroad. This is spot on and extremely interesting reading. In fact, it’s so interesting I think I’ll write a post explicitly about this, but in the meantime, I’ll let you have a look at the original.

Let’s Enhance – Everybody with some grasp of technology knows that zooming on photo, catching the reflection in a persons eye and then “enhancing” the picture to show the murderer does’t work in reality. This is a tribute (or perhaps a mockery) of this phenomenon. Sometimes it’s downright stupid, but I think it’s a bit unfair to science-fiction films where they in fact could have absurdly high resolution videos and pictures.

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Online Highlights 7

It’s time for another round of Online Highlights. Since all things on the internet are found out through links or references by others (like I do in this post), thanks to those who, passively and actively, helped me out this time.

Race for the Galaxy AI – This AI for the card game Race for the Galaxy was released many months ago, so it’s hardly new, but it’s still good. I still prefer to play on Genie against human players, but the AI supports Rebel vs. Imperium, which Genie so far lacks.

Linkou, Taiwan – This is where I live. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before, but my house is under the cloud in the centre of this map!

Partly Cloudy – A very nice short film from Pixar, recommended by Martin in his review.

Foreigners’ Chinese names – I’ve long been an advocate for choosing names in Chinese which are Chinese rather than transliterations of foreign names. This clip perfectly illustrates, if not the whole truth, then at least part of it. It’s also quite funny.

Coach Geoff’s YouTube Channel – An old favourite, who seems to have updated a lot recently. He has provided a lot of inspiration over the years and still do. In fact, I think I’m going to do some workout as soon as I’ve published this post.

Laowai Chinese – Albert Wolfe’s blog about learning Chinese (and lots, lots more). I’ve seen quite a number of blogs like this one, but none has been so interesting. I read almost everything he writes, even though I haven’t had time to excavate the archive yet.

Mandarin tones with Praat – Praat is a program for visually analysing sound, in this case taking a look at what the tones in mandarin Chinese actually look like. How close are they to the tone curves we’ve all been taught? Very, very interesting.

Ministry of Education Chinese-Chinese Dictionary – Another Chinese dictionary, this time a Chinese-Chinese one, probably the most comprehensive I’ve found online. Mostly useful for students in Taiwan, but still.

NCIKU Dictionary – For some reason, I have missed this dictionary. It seems to be very, very good, even though it’s mainland Chinese and thus simplified characters. It still accepts searches for traditional characters, and Ive begun to use this site a lot recently. The many examples are probably the biggest advantage.

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Online Highlights 6

It’s time for another round of Online Highlights. Since all things on the internet are found through linking or references by others (such as this post), thanks to those who, passively and actively, helped me out this time.

Blog Metrics – When I wrote the post celebrating post 1000 a couple of weeks ago, I said that I’d written about two million characters. Martin kindly pointed out that there is a WordPress plugin called Blog Metrics, which calculated such things. It only returns the number of words (461 530), but a checking my average character-per-word ration (around 6), that gives closer to 2.8 million characters. Using the same comparison as Martin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment consists of a mere one million characters.

Hi-Games.net – This site provides a free virtual Rubik’s cube (of various sizes), as well as some other games, such as Tetris, Minesweeper and a typing test.

Method of Loci – Learning to solve Rubik’s cube blindfolded, it’s essential to learn some basic memory techniques, and the loci method is probably one of the oldest in the game. It’s a bit crude, but the concepts used are extremely powerful and can be improved in many ways.

Mind Tools – I haven’t yet had time to explore this site in any greater datail, but it’s also the result of my blindfolded cubing. On this site, there are lots of techniques and tricks to improve mental capacity. So far, I’ve mostly been interested in memory, but there is much, much more.

Photographic memory – Not many people have photographic memory, but this guy certainly has (he has autism, too). After a viewing Rome, a city he’s never seen from the sky, from an aircraft for less than an hour, he spends three days drawing an almost perfect 360-degree panoramic picture of the city.

Google’s opt-out village – I always like people who can say something quite serious, but still make people laugh. This time it’s The Onion who’s done it again, aiming for the information gathering aspects of Google’s dominance. If you don’t like their monitoring you, perhaps you would like to move to the opt-out village?

BensonThe Economist is on average very well-written, but few sections are as good as the obituaries (they are even published in a best-of format separately for people do buy). Last weeks edition sported an obituary of a deceased fish, Benson, beautifully concluding with a parallel between Benson and wisdom: “And there she lay, like Wisdom drawn up from the deep: as golden, and as quiet.”

Personal Library Kit – I always say that I want to live in a library, and this $16 kit takes me a bit closer to my dream. Part of the reason to have a library is of course that you can lend books to your friends, so why not do it properly with this handy kit?

Last.fm Normalizer – I’ve been using Last.fm for more than three years to keep track of what I’m listening to. One complaint has always been that Last.fm only counts the number of times a track has been played, ignoring the length of the track. This should disrupt the stats, since some artists have on average very long tracks. This was confirmed by this handy website. On my top 50 artists list, the biggest winner was Shpongle, who rose from 34th to 16th place, and the biggest loser was Robyn Miller, who plumeted from 13th to 34th place.

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Online Highlights 5

It’s time for another round of Online Highlights. Since all things on the internet are found through linking or references by others (such as this post), thanks to those who, passively and actively, helped me out this time.

Card Crusher – This Japanese gentleman is, at least for the moment, my idol. In these two short video clips, he demostrates how to make people angry. Even though the conversation is in Japanese, that shouldn’t be a problem (all the information necessary is contained in the introduction). The second clip is the card crushing, although the first one is quite nice, too.

Genie Game Server – This is a server set up to run games such as Race for the Galaxy by Rio Grande Games online. It was down for a while due to legal issues, but is now up and running again. This game is pretty good and it suits me perfectly to play online. The client is all server-based and works fine with no serious bugs and an adequate interface.

Rubik’s Cube Blindfolded – This is a guide to a 3OP (3 Cycle Orientation Permutation) method of solving Rubik’s Cube blindfolded (see my post from last week about Rubik’s Cube in general, which is my latest craze). I started yesterday and I can sort of solve the cube using this method if I can watch the cube. The next step is to do it only using pen and paper for notes and the last step is to be able to memorise instead of jotting down the seuences on a paper. Give me a week or two and I’ll write something about it.

Worlds Without End – I stumbled upon this nice-looking portal for science ficiton literature more or less by accident (my review of Connie Willis’ Bellwether was automatically referred to). I haven’t had time to explore this site, but it seems to be a very good way of keeping track of what’s going on in the genre.

Toyota Robot Running – It seems I’m far from up to date when it comes to recent developments in the humanoid robot industry. This robot designed by Toyta can run at 7 km/h (and it looks rather elegant, too!) and withstand pushes. Here is another robot climbing stairs (it isn’t graceful; I almost feel sorry for the poor bugger).

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Online Highlights 4

I haven’t spent much time browsing the internet lately, but I’ve still managed to collect a few nice links to share with you (see other Online Highlights. Thanks to those who recommended these sites.

The Onion – It’s amazing that I haven’t noticed the onion before. It seems to be a well established phenomenon by now and one I’ve come to appreciate a lot. In short, it’s a news service focused on delivering sarcasm and humour instead of accurate news. Here are three of my favourites (please share yours!):Supreme Court: Death Penalty Is ‘Totally Badass’, Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As ‘Fun, Watchable’, Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard.

The Game of Miscommunication – A wonderful little game in which people alternately draw or write what the previous person drew or wrote.

Heavy Boots –  If you believe that astronauts were able to walk on the moon because they wore heavy boots, perhaps you should read this. And if you don’t think so, this will probably give you a good laugh, tainted with the sad reminder of how ignorant some people are who should know better.

Expats at work: Living abroad gives you an edge -This article in the Economist brings up a study on how living abroad affects creativity. Even though “creativity” is probably the wrong word here, “resourcefulness” or “creativity in problem solving2 would have been more suitable, the study is still interesting. If nothing else, it’s self-gratifying for people like me who live abroad.

Ball stunt – This is an amazing ball stunt of unknown origin. It’s rather short and it has to be watched, so I’ll leave you to it.

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Online Highlights 3

It’s time for some new Online Highlights. I’ve thought about recommending old ones too, but as long as I keep stumbling upon things like these, there is no serious need for that. Thanks to those who sent the links to me in the first place.

The Stockholm Syndrome, Part 1 and Part 2 – I seldom watch programs like The Daily Show, but when this link reached me from three different sources within a few days, I decided to have a look. This comparison between Sweden and The United States is probably the funniest program I’ve watched this year.

Skeptic Stones – Are you afraid that you might be under the influence of supernatural powers? Fear no more, buy a skeptic stone! This is a brilliant idea adequately executed. It’s of course a bonus that it gives the finger to all sorts of paranormal merchandise out there.

Inspired bikes – When I watched Kris Holm on his unicycle, I thought that was it for being impressed of people skills on wheel(s). I was wrong. It’s actually possible to do even more impressive things with two wheels! I love clips like this because they inspire me to pursue my own goals. I will never be as good at anything as this guy is on his bicycle, but I can dream.

Stampa med Leroy (with English subtitles) –  This is fairly old by now, but if I managed to miss it for such a long time, perhaps some of you did, too. Anyway, this is Leroy introducing the techniques you need to conquer the dance floor. Perhaps this doesn’t sound like much, but it’s quite unbeatable.

Sheep LED art –  What can you do with some lights and a bunch of sheep? Quite a lot it turn s out. However, it definitely has to been seen to believed, no explanation will even come close to the truth.

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Online Highlights 2

I haven’t spent much time browsing the Internet lately, mostly because I’ve been too busy with applications for next year, as well as normal studying. However, I have come across a few websites I feel are worth sharing (see other Online Highlights). Below, I’ve tried to explain why.

5 Real Life Soldiers Who Make Rambo Look Like a Pussy –  I think the title is sefl-explanatory, this is an article about five soldiers with exceptional performance records, some of them so outstanding that Hollywood decided to reduce them because the audience would think it uneralistic if the true story was told. This is a good read.

Open Yale Courses, Game Theory –  This is also what it sounds like. Yale University has started a series of free courses that can be downloaded from the web. I haven’t finished this one about game theory yet, but it’s very good so far and I can recommend it if you’re interested. Even though it’s possible to listen to most of it, I suggest downloading video.

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine – I learnt about this project in the most recent edition of the Economist. Basically, it’s an archive for the web, storing old versions of website. For instance, you can have a look at what your own website looked like five years ago. This might also be useful for retrieving lost data.

Lars Petrus on Rubik’s Cube – My interest for Rubik’s Cube has ben revived lately and this is the best site I’ve found so far. His method is intuitive and pretty good, and it does not require you to memorise a whole lot of sequences. Admittedly, Petrus’ method has declined in popularity among the world’s fastest speedcubers, but it’s still perfect for beginners and intermediates.

Chinese Language and Culture for International Students – I provide this link not so much because I think somebody else will apply, but rather because somebody might be interested in what I’m doing. Right now, that’s trying to apply for this program at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei, a four year Bachelor’s Degree program. Nothing is decided yet, though, because I need to aquire a scholarship as well. I will post something specifically about this as soon as I have more information.

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Online Highlights 1

This is the first post about Online Highlights, which is simply a convenient way for me to share things I find awesome in some way. Click here to view other posts like this.

Cthulhu and Christ – A highly interesting comparison between the Cthulhu mythos as created by H.P. Lovecraft and Christianity.

The Call of Cthubuntu – An article about computing and Lovecraft, highly entertaining.

Spiders on Drugs – Pictures of spiderwebs spun under the influence of various drugs.

VNV Nation – Illusion – An unofficial video accompanying VNV Nation’s “Illusion”, nice both to listen to and watch.

Raphael Lacoste – I don’t fancy this artist’s motive, but some pictures are really, really good.

Gymnastic Bodies – A repository and web forum concerning gymnastics and associated body-weight exercises; very nice indeed.

One hand handstand demo – One of the best one-handed handstand demonstrations I’ve seen (it changes about halfway, so if you’re not interested in the beginning, please skip it rather than missing the other half).

More handbalancing – Another one-handed handstand show, this time from Golden Circus.

How to construct your own workout routine – an in-depth article about creating work-out routines, highly interesting.

Neural mechanisms are the most important determinants of strength adaptations – An interesting article about neurology and strength gains when exercising, fairly academic.

CrossFit Exercises – A long list of various kinds of exercises, pretty useful if you want to know what a certain execrise looks like.

Surreal Art Update – Some surreal art from Dark Roasted Blend, some of it extremely inspiring.

Dark Roasted Blend – Just in case you’ve missed it, this is one of the best picture blogs out there, and I visit it frequently

The Natural History of Unicorns – A review in the January 29th edition of the Economist of Christopher Laver’s book “The Natural History of Unicorns”, not only a nice review, but also an interesting book.

Base jumping more crazy than usual – I have seen base jumping before, but this was by far the most freaked out so far, a must-see!

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