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June 2, 2011

Keyboard as a 3-D bar graph of letter frequency


"ITP's Mike Knuepfel has created a 3-D printed sculpture which visualizes the frequency with which keyboard buttons are pressed,


based on this data from Wikipedia":


Here's a video

showcasing the graph.

[via 22 Words and PSFK]

June 2, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Watermelon Knife


11"-long serrated silicone-coated blade; comes with matching sheath.



[via the New York Times]

June 2, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Awsum Shoes! — Is it ethical to fix grammatical and spelling errors in Internet reviews?


The headline above accompanied Michael Agger's May 10, 2011 Slate article, which I found highly topical and of great interest not so much because of its focus on reviews but, rather, because I have the same question regarding comments on boj.

Sometimes a comments contains errors in syntax, spelling, grammar, punctuation and the like.

What to do?

Hey, don't get me wrong: I'm happy anytime someone takes the time to comment, regardless of mistakes.

But I digress.

I could go into my TypePad boiler room and correct the comment.

I could wait for a follow-up comment correcting the original error.

But then what should I do with the first comment?

Remove it?

Leave it?

Correct it myself?

It's sort of like a spiraling hall of mirrors in which each thing you do — or don't do — raises more questions, in an endless regression.

Sometimes I really like the error as it stands and so I leave it, especially those that remind me of "All your base are belong to us."

When someone asks me to remove a comment for whatever reason, I'm happy to oblige.

Likewise if your email address or URL inadvertently appears and you don't want it publicly available: no problema, I'll take it off pronto.

One of my favorite things, as long as we're on the subject, is when a reader comments for the first time while noting they've been reading boj for years.


Below, excerpts from Agger's Slate piece.

Zappos.com now uses crowdsourcing to fix the grammar and spelling in the site's reviews. The specific tool Zappos uses is Amazon's Mechanical Turk, where anyone can assign HITs—human intelligence tasks—to people who want to make a buck while sitting at their computers. In order to Taylorize the task, Zappos broke copy-editing into discrete steps, using a crowdsourced method of word processing (PDF) that's based on bug-fixing routines in computer programming.

Zappos spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fixing more than a million reviews. We can assume that this cash outlay translated into extra cash for the Internet's most popular destination for quality footwear. While the profit motive is clear, the ethics here are murkier. Is it appropriate for Zappos to fix its users' grammar? If someone can't spell the word awsum, we may be inclined to devalue his opinion of trailrunning shoes.

When we read a review on Amazon, we have to administer our own version of the Turing test—was this really written by an innocent, human consumer like me? With the amount of money at stake, and the amount of PR energy brought to bear, it will become increasingly difficult to sort the genuine from the fake. One can imagine a future (perhaps it's already arrived) when companies deliberately insert bad grammar or regional slang to give reviews the appearance of authenticity—sort of like the distressed khakis of reviews.

For now, the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction. By cleaning up its reviews, Zappos is hurting shoppers as it helps its bottom line. The lowercase reviews, the all-caps reviews, the Internet speak, the subject-verb-agreement manglings, the sentence fragments, the pathetic attempts to spell chic—all of these are factors to weigh when considering someone's opinion of low-top Chuck Taylors. Or, to be more earnest about it, our mistakes are what make us human. On the Internet, it's important that other people can tell if you're an idiot.

June 2, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

iStuck Phone Stand


Silicone with twin suction cups.



June 2, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Animated Engines


Wrote Joe Peach, "Elementary but interesting. Make sure to turn the speed down (at least that was my experience)."


I think not, at least not for this anesthesiologist, who can barely tell a Wankel (top) from a Stirling.

From Animated Engines: "Here you'll find animated illustrations that explain the inner workings of a variety of internal combustion, steam, and Stirling engines."

June 2, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Duct Tape Mug


Ceramic; microwave/dishwasher-safe.

3.25"Ø x 4.25"H x 5"W.


June 2, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How old are you? Really? Let's find out...


From Legal Blog Watch: "Many websites require users to verify their age before they can use the site or to register. In order to have a Facebook account, for example, users must be 13 years of age or older. However, as the parents of many Facebook-using children can attest, it is no real challenge for underage people to sign up for Facebook or other websites. Just change the year you were born by a few years and you're in!"


"How, then, can websites verify the age of their users? Via Futurelawyer I see that one website has found a creative way to do so — by forcing users to identify now-obsolete items that only people of a certain age are likely to recognize. Up top is one such example: let's see you identify that, 11-year-olds!"

"Below, a suggested 'Identify this' test to see if someone is over 18:


"Below, a suggested 'Identify this' test to see if someone is over 30:


[via one of my crack Pittsburgh correspondents]

June 2, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Bracelet Watch


Now you'll always have the time.

You just won't know what it is.

"One side of the bracelet is treated with cowhide mirror while the other side showcases gray calfskin. Reversible and adjustable."

$49 CAD (Jewelry, page 1).

June 2, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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