Knowledge is power Archive - Jan 00 Last updated - March 8
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Internet Predictions
International Data Corporation, makes some interesting predictions on the future of the internet. Some obvious predictions: An Internet stock correction will be made, commerce dot-coms will have to show profits or die, the use of ".com" as a suffix for company names will die, the Net will reach 1 billion users by 2005. Some predictions I don't agree with: virtual malls will re-emerge, wireless Web access will stumble.



Readability
There's been some talk among design and interface gurus about type and fonts lately. Some argue that too many Web pages are set in sans serif (like this page), making them harder to read. Print designers have always known that large blocks of copy should be set in a serif font for readability. But Tog notes that screens just aren't good enough to render the fine curves in serif fonts. And as far as type thats converted into a graphic, any Web graphic person cringes when told they need to set the type in a navigation button to 9 point Bodoni or Fenice. Pixels just aren't small enough to render the fine lines and you wind up with something that looks out-of-focus. A good example of this can be seen in the latest article from Robin Williams (the typography guru, not Mork) in the Eyewire catalog. She's explaining print readability and font features and illustrates the article with a few serif fonts. But the font graphic looks awful on the Web. The most common fix for the out of focus, small serif type is the drop-shadow, which is why you see so much of it.

New readers may have missed my previous font rant.


Tiki bars
To me a list (with reviews) of the remaining of Tiki Bars in North America is as important a knowledge base as anything else on the Web. With a touching obituary of the Kona Kai, downtown Chicago, which closed last year. Found on Fishstick.


Rapa nui
While on the Tiki subject... Easter's End, an essay on the Rapa Nui of Easter Island, describes how the islanders stripped their land of all its natural resources, and in doing so stripped its society of all of the knowledge and culture it had attained from its origins of a great sea-faring civilization. By the time Captain James Cook got there in 1774, the people had lost the knowledge (and the materials) needed to seal the seams of their canoes. When the food resources ran low they resorted to eating the most commmon meat on the island - humans. "The most inflammatory taunt that could be snarled at an enemy was "The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth."

PBS's NOVA site on Easter Island has some cool QTVRs of the island and its fallen moai.



We want the things we can't have
Larkfarm points us to Hometown Favorites, a place where you can buy stuff you used to be able to get before you moved to some other part of the country. Now you can buy Peanut Chews and Charms Sourball Candy no matter where you are. But much more important to us is a list of food products that are no longer made. This list confirms the demise of some products we questioned a few years ago on The List (I concede on the Marathon Bar, Bob), plus some we left off like Bannana Flavored Quik (I better throw out the one I have in my cupboard, its probably older than a good whiskey), Freakies Cereal, and the infamous Reggie Bar. Still, I search in vain for a knowledge base of defunct regional gas stations, chain restaurants and products like Lawn Jarts.



The weight of a dollar
The Treasury Department's Bureau of Printing and Engraving's FAQ lets us know it takes 490 bills to make a pound. According to Bloomberg a dollar is a .6117th of a £. But according to this converter its a bit more at .611946th of a £. (As of 4:00 EST, friday)


Weekend reading
A few articles on interaction written by the creative director of Monkey Media. One describes the five styles of interaction. If reading about interaction without interaction isn't exciting enough for you, go to monkey.com, choose the Ultra sensory version and than click on the reference section.


Phage2000 virus
Another Outlook and Exchange email worm is in the wild. Gee, what else is new?


Genetic medical knowledge base
"GeneClinics is a medical knowledge base relating genetic testing to the diagnosis, management, and genetic counseling of individuals and families with specific inherited disorders." I don't pretend to understand any of the information there, and don't dare to comment on the implications of aplying this knowledge, I only point out that this knowledge is available. The power of the knowledge contained in this site is only hinted at in their disclaimer. "Your sole remedy for dissatisfaction with the Website and/or Website-related services is to stop using the Website and/or those services." (I think that should apply everywhere).



Media Company Mergers
In these days of big mergers, its hard to keep up with who owns what any more. Check this Columbia Journalism Review List to learn that Def Jam's owners also make orange juice. Seen on rc3



Don't believe the stats
You can't tell how many visitors you've had come to your Web site. You can guess, you can look for certain things in your raw log files to give you a rough idea, but you can't really know. This portion of the Readme file for Analog, a program which analyses logfiles, explains what you can and can't calculate about visitors. "sometimes one user appears to connect from many different hosts. AOL now allocates users a different hostname for every request. So if your home page has 10 graphics on, and an AOL user visits it, most programs will count that as 11 different visitors!" The file mentions Why web usage statistics are (worse than) meaningless, which explains "what web stats are really good for: for web administrators to get a sense of the actual load on the server."


Falling
Petzl, the climbing equipment manufacturer offers some important tips on falling. "Eventually, if you keep climbing, you'll fall. In fact, if you never fall at all, you're probably not pushing yourself very much in your climbing." The rest of the Petzl technical online manual (use that link to get to the navigation frames) is comprehensive but not as attractive as their beautiful annual printed catalog. Follow the understanding shock load link to learn about fall factors and shock loads.



Long WWW pages
Jorn Barger's really long page discusses long Web pages. It answers common concerns and questions regarding how long a Web page should be. With lots of great sources.


Kartchner Caverns
Real cavers are deadly serious about keeping caves secret. Too many beautiful places have been destroyed by idiots, or sealed permanently because of lawsuits brought on by inexperienced spelunkers (in the caving community a spelunker is an amateur and is often used as an insult) who hurt themselves in these dangerous environments. Kartchner Caverns, in Arizona, had been kept secret since 1974. It remained secret even during the numerous studies that Arizona State Parks conducted to protect the cave's sensitive environment. Airlocks and monitoring stations were installed to allow visitors in, while keeping the cave in its natural state. Most tourist or "show" caves are dead (their formations have stopped growing) or sick, infected with fungus and algae from the moist air brought in by human lungs. The famous Lascaux caverns have been closed for this reason. Kartchner actually has the opposite problem, the caves could dry out, and die if the desert air is let in. Hopefully the State of Arizona will continue to protect this site while allowing us mere mortals in.


Animated layers
xiio.com offers some free code made from various techniques to make sliding and animated layers for nifty effects and navigation lists that can be moved out of the way when not in use. (To view the code for the script demos, hold your mouse down over the pop-up window, til you get your browser's pop-up menu options.)



What happens to beer in space?
According to this New Scientist page on beer in orbit, it still forms bubbles, "because the carbon dioxide would still come out of solution under room temperature and pressure, but they wouldn't move in any direction." You can't drink beer in orbit anyway cause the body needs gravity to burp. Do you have more alcoholic questions like - why does my beer freeze after I take it out of the freezer and open it? Then you should read the entire NS Web site section devoted to alcohol for some fascinating insight into the stuff I seem to be constantly recovering from.



Everything You wanted to know about WD-40
WD-40 stands for "Water Displacement, 40th attempt". I didn't know that the WD-40 Company also makes Lava soap. The Lava Soap question page didn't answer my question though - Which volcano do they get the lava pumice from?


Historical maps of Illinois
For the locals - GG sent me this link to UIC's Historical maps of Illinois. Land Survey, railroad, landform and county maps going back to the 19th century. They're not all dated well however and the MrSid image format is fast but the interface is bit clunky. Better examples of this image compression format and interface can been seen at LizardTech Inc.'s site.



Evolutionary graphics
A few days ago I linked to A Temple of Alife, which contained some graphical artificial life models. Here's a page with much more explaination on Evolutionary Graphics. "Evolutionary computer graphics is a method of human-computer collaboration to create images neither is likely to develop alone." Take the visual tour for some cool images.


Peanuts
Yesterday's tribute to the one of the most influencial people in American Pop culture shook a viewer of Kiplog yesterday. I was suprised by the Web's the lack of attention given to Charles M. Shultz's last strip yesterday. It was hard to find any worthwhile documentary on the effect this man has had on America for the past fifty years. The strip may been slipping in its later years, but lets see if any of us in the "blog community" can continue daily commentary for fifty years, and build a readership that is as large, diverse, global and cross-generational as his was. Here's a Salon article on Schultz.





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