Do you play darts? I don’t. But I did enjoy watching the Premier League Darts season this year on ESPN. These “athlete’s” were exceptional at two things: knocking down trebles and quick mental math. The latter may not be as impressive to others, but I’m not good at doing math in my head. My brain shuns even the idea of it, so I’m not getting better anytime soon. Good thing the best programmers are lazy! DartCalc is a Python command line tool for keeping track of your points and suggesting your next throws*.
Clicking this link will show you the code if you’d like to see the logic behind the app. If you’d like to download it and use it, on a Mac ctrl-click the link and choose “download linked file”. Open Terminal, type “python ” (include the space after it), then drag the downloaded file to the Terminal window and press Return. Basic usage instructions ensue.
* dartCalc’s suggestions are always optimal but rarely practical. In other words, they will always get you to zero as fast as possible but a professional would likely throw a different set. I wanted to used logic rather than a lookup table :)
Planet-sized images, desktop sized triptychs. Basically I scour the HiRISE database for images I find fascinating and/or aesthetic, download the ~500 MB lossless JP2 files, resize them to common desktop resolutions, and organize them in sets of three for your three monitor (or just three desktops) pleasure: Mars Longform. If you’re unfamiliar with the HiRISE camera it is basically a half meter telescope attached to the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that “scans” the planet’s surface and captures these ridiculously long, super high resolution images. They work perfect for desktop wallpapers so I’ve cropped them to a handfull of the most common computer display dimensions. If you don’t need a triptych or you’re not into B&W, just click the title of any triptych and you will be taken to the file’s page on the HiRISE website where you can usually find a color wallpaper of a similar region. The folks on the HiRISE team have also created a Flickr stream which you can set as your screensaver on your Apple TV.
I like lists. And what better way to try out my new vector graphics app (Sketch 2, and as of the ides of April, Sketch 3) than making a list of sovereign states and drawing their flags. Make them clean and sharp at any resolution by slicing SVGs. Serve them up over a JSON file. Beware, this is currently, and likely will always be, an incomplete list. I pick and choose flags that are aesthetic, peculiar, easy or just plain fun ;) While making Land Jacks the proportions of flags began to fascinate me, so, included for your viewing pleasure are height:width ratios of each flag. 2:3 and 1:2 are by far the most common but the U.S.’s 10:19 has had some influence as well. Others are just out there on their own (I’m looking at you Denmark). The site is fully responsive and is best viewed in a Webkit browser (Firefox takes issue to Sketch’s SVG masks).
Blow up your Top Sites and replace them with unadulterated science. Update: now with a bash script!
A tribute to the classic Kung Fu NES game. Really just an experiment with sprites but inspired by my recent obsession with the game. As it turns out, I’m pretty good at it. You can watch my best runs on YouTube and see how I stack up against the competition on Scoreground.
endoMoons is a web app for visuallizing the various planetary systems of our Solar System. Natural satellites and their orbits are seen from a top-down perspective. It is designed to help with the conceptualization of our solar system since astronomical diameters and distances are often difficult to comprehend. Relative sizes and distances of objects and orbits are always preserved when “zooming”, and are increased or decreased by factors of 2 when scaling separately. Only moons with a longest dimension of at least 18 km are displayed with the exception of Deimos and Styx.
While working on my many web-based projects I am often confronted with a situation in which I need to convert between one HTML color format to another. For instance, I often find a color I like for my links but would like the same color, only darker or lighter, for their hover state. If I originally came upon the color in Hex, changing its lightness would present a challenge. Colorly is a web app based on color conversion functions found at easyrgb.com which produces these conversions with minimal input. Enter a color value in Hex, RGB, or HSL and Colorly will return the converted values in all three formats, clean and ready to copy. Also, the browser background matches the input color for visual confirmation. Click the “pop-out” link for a convenient and minimal color converting utility.
To truly appreciate the vast distances of space, I think, is an impossibility. Humans can fathom hundreds, even thousands, of kilometers but at some point the trailing zeros become an abstraction. A billion or trillion, it doesn’t really make a difference, we think of it as just “a really long way away”. But humans make due; while we lack the ability to comprehend astronomically large numbers, we are quite good at conceptualizing ratios. Scale Solar System is an attempt to present these vast distances in a fashion the human brain appreciates. By default, the user is presented with a scale model of the solar system where 1 point represents 1,000 kilometers. But using the control panel, he or she is able to bend space and time at will by traveling between planets, scaling their diameters, and changing the distance between them. The relationship between each solar system body is never compromised and allows for a true appreciation of their relative sizes and distances from each other. A tutorial is provided for the less adventurous and lots of goodies await the curious. This website is designed to be used on a desktop computer and is best experienced in Safari on a Mac.
I come from a large family. My brothers and sisters now all have large families of their own. I set out to write a bedtime story for all 29 of my nieces and nephews and this illustrated poem is the result. The description in the iBookstore is as follows:
Why read fairytales when there’s 46 billion light years of space to explore? It is a scientific fact that globular clusters are more interesting than unicorns. In a recent double blind study, 10 out of 10 children preferred the rings of Saturn to cupcakes. Teddy bears make good listeners but supernovae are better storytellers. Believe me, now that I’ve gained your trust, your kids are going to love this book. Though I can’t vouch for its sleep-inducing effectiveness. Created specifically for iPads and Macs with iBooks.
Space has always been a major interest of mine. Upon writing a children’s book for my extended family, I found I had a lot more I wanted to say. Writing this fact-based book was the most fun and challenging project I have ever had the opportunity to tackle. It was truly a joy to work on and most of the time, didn’t feel like work at all. The description found in the iBookstore follows:
You take your coffee black and want your facts straight. When someone asks you which planet is best, without hesitation you reply “Jupiter”. You’ve contemplated what to call a meteor(ite) at the moment of impact. Prometheus isn’t a myth or a
bad movie to you, it’s a moon. I get your type. I am your type. That’s why I wrote this no-nonsense book on space. From thermonuclear fusion in the Sun to cryovolcanism on Triton, I say it like it is and don’t ask for apologies. Created specifically for iPads and Macs with iBooks.
Trying to explain what this podcast is about would be like trying to teach grandma how to send an email. It seems easy enough at first but you’ll soon find it an impossible task. No Format is not a nerd-cast; we’re clearly two social, pleasant, good looking gentlemen (ep. 28). No Format is not a comedy-cast; we never joke about the topic at hand and take our jobs very seriously as distributors of internet content (ep. 15). No Format is not a videogame-cast; Josh has only beaten 6 out of 8 Zelda games and we rarely play videogames while podcasting (ep. 7). No Format is not a science-cast; the occasional episode on nuclear fission and mathematical proofs will appear now and then, but all together we are not great sources of information (ep. 11 & 39). And lastly, No Format is by no means a film-cast; we just happen to know someone who makes movies (ep. 27). It also just happens that we have excellent taste and never come to dissagreements on movies (ep. 42). So what would one expect from a typical episode? We don’t really have a format. Chances are if you have a mustache, play(ed) with Ninja Turtles, own a telescope, hate ugly fonts, have a friend from Korea, enjoy a good scotch, have a favorite dinosaur, wished you could golf better, prefer the original theatrical Star Wars, or in general read Wikipedia articles at least 3 times per day, you’ll probably find what you’ve been looking for all along in this, the No Format podcast.