Can you stockpile gasoline when prices are cheap?#

Yes, but you have to be very, very careful. If you don't do it right, your stash of gasoline might spoil or blow up. For safety reasons, the EPA discourages consumers from storing more than 1 to 5 gallons, and the National Fire Protection Association proposes a limit of 25 gallons. Local fire codes determine whether your stockpile is legal.

More than 100,000 rare gorillas found in Congo#

The last census on the species, carried out during the 1980s, estimated that there were only 100,000 of the gorillas left worldwide. Since then, the researchers estimated, the numbers had been cut in half.

The Myth of Multitasking#

[P]erhaps we will simply adjust and come to accept what James called “acquired inattention.” E-mails pouring in, cell phones ringing, televisions blaring, podcasts streaming—all this may become background noise, like the “din of a foundry or factory” that James observed workers could scarcely avoid at first, but which eventually became just another part of their daily routine. For the younger generation of multitaskers, the great electronic din is an expected part of everyday life. And given what neuroscience and anecdotal evidence have shown us, this state of constant intentional self-distraction could well be of profound detriment to individual and cultural well-being. When people do their work only in the “interstices of their mind-wandering,” with crumbs of attention rationed out among many competing tasks, their culture may gain in information, but it will surely weaken in wisdom.

Delivering 8K VFX Shots for "The Dark Knight"#

To support the IMAX scenes, the studios could not work in full IMAX resolution, which is theoretically 18K; instead, the target resolution was approximately 8K, the maximum resolution for scanned film. Even that was difficult. “A single 8K frame requires 200 MB of data,” Franklin says.

[…]

A second big bottleneck, though, was in viewing the images. “Our biggest monitors are 2K,” Franklin says. “You can’t realistically buy a 5.6 x 3.6K monitor, and the highest-resolution digital projector is about 4K.” So the studio wrote a set of tools that extracted 2K tiles from the images for the artists to view, but for dailies, they sent files from their London-based studio to DKP 70mm, the IMAX-subsidiary post facility in Los Angeles, for recording onto film stock.

“It was a minimum of 10 days before we saw the shots back in the UK,” Franklin says. What’s more, to view the shots, they had to book time at London’s only IMAX theater. “And you can’t rock and roll on IMAX projectors,” he adds. “You have to rewind and go again, so we had only a couple chances to view the output.”

You kind of have to read this if you're at all interested in the visual tech behind the biggest movie of the year (all time?). See also Marrying IMAX and 35mm in The Dark Knight.

Does human culture evolve via natural selection, as our genes do?#

Natural selection can operate in cultural evolution as well as in genetic evolution. Though canoe features may not be related to the genetic attributes of people who construct and use them, nor is natural selection likely the central force in cultural evolution, a comprehensive view of cultural evolution does now seem possible. And despite the daunting complexity, I believe we will one day understand how cultures evolve, and that it will help us all to survive.

NASA confirms Martian water#

We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted.

Solar energy + water = fuel#

[MIT scientists] have developed an unprecedented process that will allow the sun's energy to be used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Later, the oxygen and hydrogen may be recombined inside a fuel cell, creating carbon-free electricity to power your house or your electric car, day or night.

Cuil#

Cuil is a new search engine from some ex-Google guys who claim that it "searches more pages on the Web than anyone else — three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft." Whatever that means.

I think the bigger story here is Cuil's privacy policy:

[W]hen you search with Cuil, we do not collect any personally identifiable information, period. We have no idea who sends queries: not by name, not by IP address, and not by cookies (more on this later). Your search history is your business, not ours.

This alone is reason enough for me to give the startup a fair shake, provided it produces decent results; given that it puts this site first for blanton, I'm inclined to think they're doing something right.  ;)

Next step for the company: a new name.

Adobe releases Lightroom v2.0#

The world's best photo-management software just got better. A lot better. If you're at least semi-serious about photography, and Lightroom isn't already integrated into at least some part of your post-processing workflow, then, well, you're probably not semi-serious about photography.  ;)

Gmail finally gets persistent encryption#

If you choose the new "always use https" option on the settings page, Gmail will force https, even if you try to load the http page; this should have been the default behavior of the service from day one.

I was heretofore forcing https through a homegrown Greasemonkey script that simply replaced the non-secure URI with the secure one.

Why are modern sneakers so ugly?#

I've been asking the same question for years. Unless you want to look like you're about to take the next flight to the Moon, or bike the Tour de France, you're pretty much out of luck. Such is the reason I've stuck with the New Balance M992 for so long; if you count its direct predecessor, the M991, I'm on my 7th pair.

Lets get rid of Darwinism#

I’d like to abolish the insidious terms Darwinism, Darwinist and Darwinian. They suggest a false narrowness to the field of modern evolutionary biology, as though it was the brainchild of a single person 150 years ago, rather than a vast, complex and evolving subject to which many other great figures have contributed. (The science would be in a sorry state if one man 150 years ago had, in fact, discovered everything there was to say.) Obsessively focusing on Darwin, perpetually asking whether he was right about this or that, implies that the discovery of something he didn’t think of or know about somehow undermines or threatens the whole enterprise of evolutionary biology today.

Slydial#

Slydial is a "voice messaging service that connects you directly to someone's mobile voicemail," no matter their mobile carrier, or yours.

I can totally see myself using this service a lot, and while it is "free," I think I actually might opt for the $0.15/message plan to get around the short, pre-message audio ad. (Nevermind that I probably shouldn't announce this publicly).

Use Dropbox to sync MarsEdit across multiple machines

July 19, 2008

As great as MarsEdit is (and it is great), it doesn't yet let me sync drafts across multiple machines. With respect to WordPress (and some other CMSs), MarsEdit does allow you to save your posts as drafts on your web server; however, I have a general aversion to this because it requires that I remember to update the timestamp of the post (to the current date/time) when I actually publish it, and also causes the post IDs to stray from date-order (I know, I'm anal).

A couple of months ago a friend mentioned Dropbox (currently in private beta) in passing, and immediately I wondered if I could use such a service to do what I needed with respect to MarsEdit (and OmniFocus; see below). Turns out I could.

MarsEdit

To get Dropbox to play nice with MarsEdit you have to use symbolic links (because, as far as I know, MarsEdit doesn't let you specify where you want to store your drafts and other data), and Dropbox will sync only what you drop into the Dropbox folder. The trick to using symbolic links in this scenario is two-fold: 1) you must make sure your usernames on each machine are the same; and 2) you must time correctly the creation of the symlinks on each machine.

Usernames

Regarding the first point, it must be understood that when you use the "ln" command to create a link, it resolves the tilde so that the path to the linked-to file contains your username (i.e., ~/Dropbox --> /path/to/username/Dropbox). In light of this, the usernames on every "syncing" machine must match up, else the last machine to talk to the Dropbox folder will overwrite the symlink to point to the username on its machine; this obviously will break the symlink on the other machine because it will then point to a path that does not exist on that machine.

Dueling symlinks

Even if each instance of MarsEdit is being run under the same username, you still may run into some problems (but these can be remedied; keep reading). When I first set out to get sync working, I saw some funky behavior. For example, I'd create the symlink on machine one, run a couple of tests on machine one to make sure it was working, and then run some tests on machine two (which immediately showed the symlink in its Dropbox folder, as it should).

At some point during this process, the symlink on machine one would break, and the LocalDrafts folder (the MarsEdit folder I was trying to sync) would be copied into the Dropbox folder and the symlink removed entirely. You can appreciate the problem: both machines were now synced, but MarsEdit could no longer see the synced folder because it existed outside of the hard-coded directory used by the application.

To get around this, I thought to create the symlinks on both machines semi-simultaneously, in the hope that some contention rule would let them stand on their own (i.e., machine one wouldn't ‘cause' the symlink to be created on machine two, and therefore wouldn't set into motion the problem just described).

Well, my hunch was correct — creating the symlinks at the same time does the trick. Over the last couple of months I've had zero problems with the setup; the symlinks on both machines have persisted without issue.

Finally, the actual solution

Remember that Dropbox syncs only what's in its folder, and so the symbolic link must be placed there. To do this, simply navigate, on every machine you want synced, to ~/Dropbox/, and execute the following command (simultaneously on all machines):

ln -s ~/Library/Application Support/MarsEdit/LocalDrafts marsdrafts

That's it. Realize that "marsdrafts" is the new directory entry that will be created; you can name this whatever you want. Keep in mind that if you have MarsEdit open on two machines simultaneously, and make changes to a draft on machine one, those changes may not show up on machine two until you restart MarsEdit on machine two (which will cause the application to re-read the LocalDrafts folder).

OmniFocus

OmniFocus lets you specify where you want to store your database file, and so it's trivial to get it working with Dropbox (i.e., simply tell OmniFocus to store the database file in the Dropbox folder).

However, there is one caveat. You're going to want to quit OmniFocus on machine one before firing it up on machine two, else you'll likely run into the file being locked by one instance of the application, which can result in some weird (and maybe fatal?) contention issues.

I note that this method, and the issues that come with it, have been obviated by the sync-capable OmniFocus v1.1 (currently in pre-release). While on the topic, and despite my grumblings about the price, OmniFocus for the iPhone is very nice.

Other applications

These methods obviously may work with any other application you'd like to sync across multiple machines. However, you should remain cognizant that certain applications may have read/write mechanisms that preclude these particular approaches; as ever, backup your data before experimenting.

YouTomb#

YouTomb is a "research project by MIT Free Culture that tracks videos taken down from YouTube for alleged copyright violation."

Byline#

Byline is a Google Reader client for the iPhone. The app looks nice enough, but unfortunately it offers zero granularity with respect to choosing what you want to read (i.e., your only option is "new"). No thanks.

Relatedly, Google Reader's "web app" for the iPhone is fantastic; I'm half-convinced that most of the people still clinging to NetNewsWire haven't given Google Reader a fair shake, and at this point, likely never will. The brilliance of the web app notwithstanding, why hasn't Google come out with native iPhone apps for Google Reader and Gmail?

While on the topic of feed readers, Shaun, why am I not beta-testing this?  ;)