Facebook 2.0 on the iPhone
Thursday, October 2, 2008
“Fringe” is going where fellow Fox series “Firefly,” “The Tick,” “Point Pleasant,” “Freakylinks” and “The Lone Gunmen” could not – to a full 22-episode order.
Fox has picked up a full season order of J.J. Abrams' sci-fi thriller "Fringe."
The network ordered the back nine episodes of the Tuesday night drama, a move that should come as no surprise to those following its performance in the Nielsens.
After a solid two-hour premiere on Aug. 26, the show jumped significantly in week two when paired with Fox's top-rated drama "House." Both shows took a hit when competition increased during broadcast premiere week, then grew slightly last night -- demonstrating stability.
Season-to-date, "Fringe" has averaged a 4.2 rating/11 share among adults 18-49 and 10.7 million total viewers. It ranks as the top freshman series in the adult demo.
"We're thrilled to get the full-season order," Abrams says. "As with many new series, 'Fringe' is just starting to find its groove. Knowing we'll be around beyond the first thirteen episodes means we'll get to realize the full potential of the show, and for that we are extremely grateful."
"Fringe" joins "90210" as the only fall freshman broadcast series to receive a full order.
Another likely contender for a full order is CBS' drama "The Mentalist," whose second episode grew in the nationals this afternoon to exceed its premiere. One more week at the current level should be enough to seal the deal.
Posted by gjblass at 4:58 PM
Flickr has launched a new iPhone-optimized version of its site, and it looks fantastic. As you can see in the screenshots, the most used options run along the top of the page and, although there doesn't appear to be any AJAX-y cacheing going on, the individual pages load at a fair clip.
You can do anything of the viewing you can do on the normal Flickr, although the bite-sized version doesn't offer any editing of pictures -- the Organizr, for instance, isn't there.
But then, it shouldn't be. It would have meant a complete rewrite of the Flash based interface for little gain -- who wants to edit on the tiny iPhone screen anyway? What Flickr has done is take the essential search and viewing tools and made them small, slimline and fast. I'm testing the site out in an internet cafe (thanks for blowing up my home connection, Telefónica), and – apart from a problem loading photographs in my sets – the site has almost no delay.
Fans of slideshows will be disappointed, though. There aren't any. For that you'll need a standalone iPhone application Like Fraser Speirs' Exposure. Sadly, Yahoo's experimental AJAX-based Flickr site for the iPhone, which offered slideshows, seems to have been taken down.
Posted by gjblass at 4:46 PM
CBS Evening News, September 30, 2008. Katie Couric asks Sarah Palin about her stance on abortion - specifically in the cases of incest and rape - and the "morning after" pill.
Notice that Sarah Palin only says a woman shouldn't go to jail for aborting their rapist's baby. She's being honest about that. But what she's not mentioning is that the anti-choice movement is trying to make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions. Those doctors who do perform them would go to jail. So you girls are fine as long as you take care of it yourself with a coat hanger in the bathroom.
Posted by gjblass at 4:44 PM
Rick Astley had a number one hit in 1987 with Never Gonna Give You Up
Eighties pop singer Rick Astley has become the surprise contender for best act ever at this year's MTV Europe Music Awards in Liverpool.
The star, who has never been nominated in the history of the event, is up against U2, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Green Day and Tokio Hotel.
The winner, chosen by fans online, will be unveiled at the show on 6 November.
Astley returned to prominence this year when internet users were "tricked" into watching the video of his biggest hit.
It went on to become a number one hit in 15 other countries.
"Rick's fans have obviously decided that he deserves recognition as a pop icon and no doubt they are determined to make sure he wins on the night," said the award show's producer Richard Godfrey.
Madonna is up for the video star category with 4 Minutes - the only nomination she has received this year.The 50-year-old pop star will battle it out with 30 Seconds to Mars, Santogold, Weezer and Snoop Dogg, who hosted the ceremony last year.
Posted by gjblass at 4:42 PM
Poll Finds Obama Gaining Support and McCain Weakened in Bailout Crisis
With the first presidential debate completed and both candidates grappling with the turmoil on Wall Street and in Washington, Senator Barack Obama is showing signs of gaining significant support among voters with less than five weeks left until Election Day, while Senator John McCain’s image has been damaged by his response to the financial crisis.
A CBS News poll released Wednesday found that Mr. Obama’s favorability rating, at 48 percent, is the highest it has ever been in polls conducted by CBS and The New York Times. At the same time, the number of voters who hold an unfavorable view of Mr. McCain — 42 percent — is as high as it has been since CBS News and The Times began asking the question about Mr. McCain in 1999, the first time he ran for president.
The CBS News poll showed that Mr. Obama had a nine-percentage-point lead over Mr. McCain — 49 percent to 40 percent. It is the first time Mr. Obama has held a statistically significant lead over Mr. McCain this year in polls conducted by CBS or joint polls by CBS and The Times. And a series of polls taken in highly contested states released by other organizations on Tuesday suggested that Mr. Obama was building leads in states including Florida, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The CBS News poll found that President Bush had tied the presidential record for a low approval rating — 22 percent, matching Harry S. Truman’s Gallup approval rating in 1952, when the country was mired in the Korean War and struggling with a stagnant economy. That finding put a new premium on Mr. McCain’s effort to distance himself from Mr. Bush, and suggests that Mr. Bush will continue to be a prominent figure in the Obama campaign’s advertisements attacking Mr. McCain.
The contest between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama is far from over. It is being fought against the continued uncertainty over the turmoil on Wall Street and in the bailout negotiations in Washington. There are three potential turning points ahead — a vice-presidential debate on Thursday night and two more debates between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama — and this election has regularly been shaken up by outside events that have tested both candidates and altered voters’ views.
Still, the trends signaled by this new wave of polls — coming at what both sides view as a critical moment in the contest — suggest that the contours of this race are taking form, and in a way that is not encouraging for Mr. McCain’s prospects.
The election cycle is entering a time when voters historically begin to make final judgments; this year, in fact, many of them are actually beginning early voting in states. What is more, the poll suggests voters have been guided by how Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama did in their debate last Friday, and also how they have responded to the crisis on Wall Street and the resulting deadlock in Washington about how to respond to it.
In the CBS News poll, 54 percent of respondents said Mr. Obama had a plan for dealing with the economic crisis, compared with 48 percent who said Mr. McCain did. And 47 percent of respondents said they disapproved of the way Mr. McCain was handling the current economic crisis, compared with 33 percent who approved and 20 percent who said they had no opinion. For Mr. Obama, 32 percent of respondents said they disapproved of his response, compared with 43 percent of respondents who approved; the rest had no opinion.
And two-thirds of respondents said the highest-profile action Mr. McCain has made in response to the crisis — announcing that he was suspending his campaign to return to Washington and help negotiators strike a deal — had made no difference in the outcome of the talks.
The CBS News poll suggested one sharp contrast in the view of voters of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain that might have been fed by the different ways the two men responded to the crisis. Forty-five percent said Mr. McCain acted too quickly when he made a decision, compared with 29 percent who said he did not act quickly enough. For Mr. Obama, 23 percent said he acted too quickly, compared with 41 percent who said he did not act quickly enough.
The national poll findings by CBS News were echoed in polls released Tuesday by Time magazine and the Pew Research Center. Perhaps more problematic for Mr. McCain were polls, also taken after the debate and in the midst of the financial crisis, suggesting problems for him in critical states, including Florida and Ohio, which President Bush won in 2004 and which Mr. McCain had been confident of holding, and Pennsylvania, a state that Democrats won last time and that Mr. McCain has put on the top of the list of states he has been trying to win. Complete results for all the polls are at nytimes.com/politics.
Polls by Quinnipiac University, taken Saturday through Monday, showed Mr. Obama ahead in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Time/CNN battleground polls also showed Mr. Obama with a lead in Minnesota and Virginia, a state that has been on the top of the pickup lists for Mr. Obama.
The CBS News national survey suggested a toxic atmosphere for incumbents in general, but particularly for Republicans. The approval rating for Congress is down to 15 percent, another historic low for the Times/CBS News poll.
The CBS News poll found economic anxiety among Americans as high as it has ever been in the history of the poll. Nine in 10 Americans said the economy was in very bad or fairly bad shape, the highest measure on that score since The Times and CBS News began asking the question in September 1986. (The percentage who said that the economy was in very good shape was less than 1 percent.) And the number of Americans who thought the economy was getting worse, 76 percent, set another record: the gloomiest Americans have been since the question was first asked in April 1974.
The CBS News poll, of 1,257 adults, including 1,113 registered voters, was conducted Saturday through Tuesday and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The polling comes on the eve of the vice-presidential debate between Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a Republican, and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware, and provides new evidence that Ms. Palin’s standing among voters has declined since Mr. McCain chose her as his running mate in August.
The Pew poll found that 51 percent of respondents said she was not qualified to be president, compared with 37 percent who said she was. That is a reversal from early last month, when 52 percent of respondents said Ms. Palin was qualified to be president.
Posted by gjblass at 4:34 PM
Creative Costumes Made from Reused and Recycled Stuff Vote For Your Favorite, or Submit Your Own Costume Photos!
The Green Honorable Mention goes to http://i258.photobucket.com/albums/hh275/pizzler/cannabiscostume.jpg
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 4:29 PM
Enjoyed last night's Heroes, but thought that some scenes were a little... underwhelming? You weren't alone; series director Greg Beeman has been spilling the beans on what was originally planned for last night's three set-pieces before budgetary concerns forced them to bring everything back down to earth. One of the cool things that we missed out on? Hiro and Ando getting to re-enact the opening of Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade in the middle of India. Be warned: Thar be spoilers ahead.
While Beeman - who directed last week's second episode, and has been with the show since the beginning - doesn't point out the major flaw in last night's "One of Us, One of Them" (That would be the "Hey, Sylar's a good guy now! Look, he put on a funny accent and ordered that asshole cop around! Ain't he a card?" turnaround, which didn't just stretch what little credibility the show had as much as just gleefully shred it while giggling and telling the audience not to think too much, just look at Zachary Quinto in a suit - Seriously, people, WTF? You couldn't have at least tried to put some effort into that plotline?), he's happy to share some behind the scenes gossip about Claire's showdown with her mom and Hiro and Ando's moviegoing experiences in Germany:
The first draft of the script, from a production standpoint, was very big. It had the bank robbery more-or- less as it currently exists. It also had a Claire/Meredith scene, which currently occurs in a cargo container. This scene originally took place in a deserted warehouse where Claire was surrounded by fire. The Hiro/Ando/Daphne scene, which currently occurs in a German movie theatre, originally took place on a train traveling through India, complete with Hiro and Ando on the roof of the train and Ando nearly falling out the side of a baggage car.
Personally, I loved the first draft of this script. It was a great, incredibly exciting read. I loved the way the bank robbery was written, and the idea that Sylar was to become HRG’s new partner blew my mind. The entire component parts were great – but, collectively, it was also, obviously, too big to be affordable. Beyond that though, the choices we producer’s faced of how to get the budget down became very subjective. The bank robbery was the obvious thing that had to stay because it drove the central story and the key recurring stories for the series– For me, the scripted moment where time freezes and future Peter appears was a key event (it sent a chill down my spine when I first read it.) So the Claire story and the Hiro story were what had to be attacked.
Not that the bank robbery escaped entirely unscathed:
There were changes made to reduce budget in the bank scenes as well. Most noteably – at first Jesse’s power was Earthquake-stomp (Like Gorgon of the Inhumans from the Fantastic Four comics) But this power implied cracking floors and walls and all manner of damage that would be expensive to produce. At the last minute we changed him to a Sonic scream (like DC’s Black Canary) – this was easier to accomplish but was a bummer too us because we already had Echo from the online webisodes with sonic power – Oh well…
The biggest bummer for me was the death of the villains (Well, three of the four) so quickly - Not only does it kind of make me wonder what the point of pretending that they were a big deal in the first place was if they were going to be written out after a botched bank robbery (Also, what was the point of the "hidden Peter" plot at all?), but I'm depressed that Weevil's death robs me of any more potential Veronica Mars reunion moments. But what did the rest of you think?
Posted by gjblass at 4:25 PM
As everyone in America knows, there is so much more to beauty pageants than prancing around in high heels, nude control top pantyhose and a specially engineered swimsuit! They are college scholarship programs, for Chrissakes, otherwise why would noted college enthusiast Sarah Palin have even bothered? So you knew there was more to the Republican vice presidential nominee's 1983 Miss Alaska appearance than that thought-provoking swimsuit competition we saw last week. Yes America, it is time for the talent competition! Watch Sarah perform a lovely James Galway song on her
recorder flute and enjoy her Renaissance womanhood.
Side note: kudos to whatever Alaska viral video expert is being so savvy and National Enquirer-esque about dribbling these out for maximum "impact."
Posted by gjblass at 4:19 PM
It’s sweet when you see two people make a connection like this. Even a jaded and combative dickhead like myself can't help but be touched. It warms my heart.
This post is in response to all the people who complained about the mountains of content on here that they consider homophobic. On a side note, Eyes up here Ms Titty Looker.
compliments of http://www.wwtdd.com/
Posted by gjblass at 4:16 PM
Long gone are the days of the CD. Online music stores are more convenient, and, if you choose carefully, you get the same quality at a lower price. In this article we’re going to look at 7 popular online music stores and put them to the test. Which one is the best and which one should you use?
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 4:10 PM
Written by new contributor Cole Hendricks
Since time immemorial, we have imagined what it would be like to climb to the heavens. With the advent of modern rocketry, a few brave souls, and many more brave robots, have managed to slip the surly bonds of Earth.
But what if, instead of an expensive and perilous ship that only a few could find passage on, we built a bridge to the stars that anyone could cross. Imagine that, instead of having to strap yourself to thousands of tons of rocket fuel, getting into orbit was a simple as boarding a train, albeit a train that goes straight up for over 100,00km (62,000 miles) and happens to be by far the most ambitious structure humanity has ever imagined creating, but a train nevertheless. For the last several decades, this is exactly what many scientists, engineers and futurists have been not only imagining but designing and even, to a certain extent, testing.
The first complete description of the possibility of a modern tower of Babel is attributed to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a nearly deaf Russian rocket scientist who is considered by many to be not only the progenitor of the idea of a space elevator or as he called it, the ‘heavenly funicular’ but also the father of the entire field of manned space-flight.
In his 1895 paper, ‘Day-Dreams of Heaven and Earth’, he wrote regarding his Funicular:
“As one went up such a tower, gravity would decrease steadily, without changing direction; at a distance of 36000 km, it would be completely annihilated, and then it would be again detected . . . but its direction would be reversed, so that a person would have his head turned towards the earth…”
Since the publication of Tsiolkovsky’s ideas, the concept was generally accepted as a fascinating thought but an engineering impossibility. No known material was strong enough to withstand the astronomical forces that such a structure would be exposed to. However, as material science has progressed enormously even to the point that we are able to build custom molecules and materials on an atom by atom basis, and particularly with the discover of the immense strength of fullerene carbon nanotubes, the difference between what we know how to do today, and what we would need to know in order to build the Heavenly Funicular, are small enough that engineers and scientists and governments around the world are taking a serious second look at what it would take to build a train to space.
The main reason that a space elevator is so compelling is the dramatic reduction in energy costs it would provide. It currently costs about $20,000 USD to put 1 kilogram into orbit, a space elevator could lower that cost down to an estimated $250/kg essentially opening the door to space wide open. Understanding this value, one nation has even taken the very recent step of claiming that it will build a space elevator and is setting aside a significant amount of money to do so. The Japanese government, has very recently stated that they are budgeting $9 Billion USD towards a concrete proposal to overcome the theoretical obstacles to elevator construction and eventually begin the assembly of the 100,000 kilometer tall device. This announcement is highly significant in that many experts estimate that a functioning space elevator with a budget of $10-$15 billion could be completed in as little as 12 years. The Japanese have scheduled a conference in November 2008, bringing together experts from around the world to further develop their plans for an elevator to the stars.
Posted by gjblass at 3:51 PM
The Department of Defense funded the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) to create the world’s first renewable jet fuel, and the mission had been accomplished.
It didn’t surprise me to learn that the Department of Defense is the number one consumer of petroleum in America. And so neither did it surprise me to learn that the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) was granted a $4.7 million contract by the Department of Defense to research alternative and renewable sources of fuel.
My interest was piqued when, a few days ago, the EERC claimed to have invented the world’s first 100% renewable jet fuel.
JP-8 fuel is a petroleum-based fuel currently in wide use by the military. The EERC has created a substitute for the fuel, using renewable feedstock made from agricultural products and/or waste oils. The process developed by the EERC can produce propane, gasoline, jet fuel and diesel that are identical to the fuels derived from petroleum.
“The EERC is now uniquely positioned to provide drop-in-compatible JP-8 fuel from both fossil and renewable feedstocks, providing critical strategic opportunities for the U.S. military as well as commercial aviation,” said EERC Director Gerald Groenewold.
With a keen interest in moving towards large-scale production of the fuel, the EERC is currently engaged in talks with the private sector to accomplish just such a feat.
In the past, the EERC has worked on many projects including: clean coal technologies, CO2 sequestration, energy and water sustainability, wind energy, biomass, water management and flood prevention. They are based at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
Posted by gjblass at 3:43 PM
Photo caption/description via http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle ... (spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/images/shuttle/sts-116/html/s116e05983.html):
S116-E-05983 (12 December 2006) --- Backdropped by New Zealand and Cook Strait in the Pacific Ocean, astronaut Robert L. Curbeam Jr. (left) and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Christer Fuglesang, both STS-116 mission specialists, participate in the mission's first of three planned sessions of extravehicular activity (EVA) as construction continues on the International Space Station. Cook Strait divides New Zealand's North and South Islands.
Posted by gjblass at 3:37 PM
While orbiting 270 miles (435 kilometers) above Earth NASA Astronaut Jack R. Lousma, the Skylab 3 pilot, takes a hot bath. In deploying the shower facility the shower curtain is pulled up from the floor and attached to the ceiling. The water comes through a push-button shower head attached to a flexible hose. Water is drawn off by a vacuum system.
3051 x 2121 pixels: http://img158.imageshack.us/my.php?image=gpn200000 ... (img158.imageshack.us/my.php?image=gpn2000001710largeof9.jpg)
1726 x 1200 pixels: http://img291.imageshack.us/my.php?image=gpn200000 ... (img291.imageshack.us/my.php?image=gpn2000001710mediumqk9.jpg)
Posted by gjblass at 3:36 PM
It’s happened to all of us: You get an email from a coworker, click the link that says “Cutest video of cats dressed as humans ever!” then those hauntingly cheerful drums start up. You’ve been Rick Roll’d. At our office, my partner in Calendar crime, John Linn, is a key offender of such acts. When his birthday came around it was time to get even. I Googled some key words and found this article on Craft.zine about a Rick Roll birthday cake. Awesomeness. It was so on.
I baked a standard, double-layer, yellow round cake and frosted everything but the top with chocolate frosting. Since the top is really a canvass for the majesty of Rick Astley, I used a vanilla frosting and white-washed it. My buddy sketched out a cartoon Rick Astley from a You Tube freeze frame; my other friend and I cut it out and used it as a stencil/pattern for His Astley’s icing likeness.
I was going to use a sturdy cardboard to construct the frame of the fake cake, but the craft store had hat boxes, that with my trusty 50% off coupon, were only three bucks – so hat box won out. Yes! It’s giant and oddly suspect, but nobody really believes that cake would ever lie to them. You should be fine.
I frosted it on-site. I did the sides with super gloppy German chocolate frosting; it was very forgiving texturally for hiding the secret agenda of Giant Cake. I did the top up like a regular cake and stuck candles in dollops of icing. We started singing, the music came on from my laptop, and I scrambled to get the lid off – that’s where things got sticky. I was grabbing so haphazardly that my hands were sliding all over the fiery fake cake. I had to blow out most of John Linn’s candles to avoid third degree burns before people put the music together with the odd cake grappling. But when it was removed and Rick Astley’s soulful frosting eyes were staring at us, it was well worth the slippery struggle. I made a keepsake B-day card out of the Rick Astley stencil. --Jamie Laughlin
Note from the Linn: As you might know, we here at the NT love us some Rick Rolling. But I was thoroughly caught off guard by this cake within a cake. When I first saw the monstrosity I thought, "My God! That thing's huge!" Little did I know its largest was simply the housing for my undoing. I'll never top this Roll - ever. Thanks to Jamie and the entire New Times crew who made it happen.
Posted by gjblass at 3:30 PM
Posted by gjblass at 1:57 PM
We’ve written about Livermore, CA-based startup Cool Earth Solar before. Now the company, which develops inflatable balloon-like solar concentrators, has announced that it is constructing a prototype plant in Livermore. Last week, I spoke to Cool Earth Solar CEO Rob Lamkin to get some more information on the upcoming project.
According to Lamkin, the prototype plant will be online in approximately two months. The company plans to test out different solar concentrator designs at the plant to prove out the technology. This winter, Cool Earth will launch its first commercial-grade power plant. The plant will be relatively small— only 1.4 MW— but Cool Earth plans on launching a full-size plant (10 to 30 MW) by next summer.
If the prototype plant is successful, Cool Earth wants to expand far beyond the Livermore area. “Initially, we’ll be be doing projects in California and the Southwest, but we do want to expand overseas,” Lamkin said. “To address the global energy problem, we’ve got to scale bigtime worldwide.”
Cool Earth Solar’s design is unique in the solar energy world. The company uses an inflatable plastic thin-film balloon (solar concentrator) that, upon inflation, focuses sunlight onto a photovoltaic cell held at its focal point. The design produces 400 times the electricity that a solar cell would create without the company’s concentrator.
Additionally, Cool Earth’s balloons are already price-competitive with natural gas-derived electricity. “Plastic thin film is abundant and cheap,” said Lamkin. “It only costs two dollars for the plastic material necessary for our solar concentrator.”
Keep watching Cool Earth Solar— I have a feeling that this company will become a household name in the near future.
Posted by gjblass at 1:53 PM
By Mark Ecko, this Stormtrooper hoodie will ensure that, at a moment's notice, you will be ready for an impromptu Star Wars convention or back alley role-playing fest. It may sound like overkill, but to the die-hard Star Wars fan, it's a whole lot easier than carrying around plastic armor everywhere you go. $98 through Ecko's site, there's a pretty great Boba Fett version as well but it's lacking the ever-important, identity-protecting mask. [shopecko via Tcritic]
UPDATE: Enter 'STARWARSFAN8' at checkout and get $10 off orders of $100 or more and free shipping. Deal is good through Saturday.
Posted by gjblass at 1:53 PM
by Nilay Patel
Posted by gjblass at 1:52 PM
A Facebook update that won't have the fans up in arms
When Facebook forced its website re-design on to the public this month, there was an outcry that hasn't been seen since Opal Fruits turned to Starbursts, Marathon merged into Snickers, Hulk Hogan mutated into Hollywood Hogan.
Groups, including the hilariously spelled 'Facebook said if i get 5,000,000 people in this group they'de change it bak', cropped up, pleading for the social-networking giant to go back to the old design.
So, with some trepidation, Facebook has rolled out its new-look iPhone app and by all accounts the company seems to have gotten it spot-on.
Just like Facebook
Out are the cumbersome upload options; in are upload options in keeping with the website. Any photo you load in, you can caption, tag and tweak to your heart's content.
The news-feed is now the same as that of the website, so your prying eyes will be able to see everything your mates do, all from the comfort of your iPhone.
Another big tweak is the search options. Now you can look for someone by name, and have the option to ask them to be your friend. Simple but oh-so effective.
To get the Facebook application, it's available now for free from the iTunes App store.
Posted by gjblass at 1:50 PM
If you’re like much of today’s workforce, you need to have halfway decent writing skills to succeed at your job. But if you don’t have time to work on those skills, mastering a few basic rules can still make a big difference.
Maybe you’ve never penned a single blog entry, never been asked to write a progress report, never had to read over a colleague’s work for errors, and never had to send a critically important e-mail message to your boss. If that’s the case, you’re free to go now. But for most of us, a certain amount of writing is part of our job — and unfortunately, our efforts aren’t always as effective as they should be.
We’ve talked before about some of the big blunders — grammatical mistakes and misused words — that find their way into our written communications. Now, let’s consider some of the general best practices that contribute to clean, consistent writing. These pointers are based on TechRepublic’s in-house conventions, which are based on commonly recommended guidelines. (In other words, you don’t have to agree with them. And of course, variations may exist depending on what country you live in.)
The good thing about following a few rules in your writing, even if some of them seem arbitrary or trivial, is that it frees you up to concentrate on what you’re trying to say instead of trying to figure out why something doesn’t sound right or worrying that it’s just plain wrong.
And there’s this: People will notice when your writing is tighter and more consistent. I guarantee it.
Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.
Bad practice: Repeated words or phrases set up an echo in the reader’s head or a “Didn’t I just read that?” glitch that can be distracting.
- Several “but”s or “however”s or “for example”s in one paragraph (or in nearly every paragraph); a series of paragraphs that begin with “Next”
- A favorite crutch word or phrase used throughout an article (”ensure that,” “as such”, “that said”)
Best practice: Vary the language to avoid annoying or distracting readers with repeated words. Even better, get rid of some of the repeated verbiage, which usually turns out to be overkill anyway.
#2: Nonparallel list items
Bad practice: We often use an inconsistent structure for lists or headings.
We will cover these topics:
- Backing up the registry
- The Registry Editor is your friend
- Using REG files
- Use a GUI tool
- Searching the registry
- Take advantage of Favorites
- Clean the registry
Best practice: Reword where necessary to make the items parallel.
#3: Agreement problems
Bad practice: Sometimes we lose track of what the subject is, and our verb doesn’t match.
- Neither of the editors are very smart.
- The dog, as well as the goat and chicken, are easy to parallel park.
- One-third of the company are color blind.
Best practice: Scrutinize the subject to determine whether it’s singular or plural. It’s not always obvious.
#4: Referring to companies, organizations, etc., as “they”
Bad practice: A company — or any collective group that’s being referred to as a single entity — is often treated as plural, but it shouldn’t be.
- I wish Wal-Mart would get their pot hole fixed.
- Microsoft said they’ll look at the problem.
Best practice: Unless there’s some compelling exception, use “it.”
#5: Hyphenating “ly” adverbs
Bad practice: “ly” adverbs never take a hyphen, but they pop up a lot.
- We like to avoid commonly-used expressions.
- Click here for a list or recently-added downloads.
Best practice: Don’t hyphenate ly adverbs. The “ly” says “I modify the word that comes next,” so there’s no need to tie them together with a hyphen.
#6: Using “which” instead of “that”
Bad practice: We sometimes use “which” to set off an essential clause (instead of “that”).
- The meeting which was scheduled for 1:00 has been cancelled.
- The option which controls this feature is disabled.
Best practice: The commonly-accepted (haha) convention in American English is to set off a nonessential clause with the word “which” and a comma. One good test is whether the information is extra — not essential to the meaning of the sentence. If the clause is essential, use “that.”
#7: Wordy constructions; deadwood phrases
Nothing is worse for a reader than having to slog through a sea of unnecessary verbiage. Here are a few culprits to watch for in your own writing.
|Has the ability to||can|
|At this point in time||now|
|Due to the fact that||because|
|In order to||to|
|In the event that||if|
|Prior to the start of||before|
#8: Using “that” instead of “who”
Bad practice: Some writers use “that” to refer to people.
- The bartender that took my money disappeared.
- The end user that called this morning said he found my money.
- The folks that attended the training said it was a waste of time.
Best practice: When you’re referring to people, use “who.”
#9: Inconsistent use of the final serial comma
Bad practice: One convention says to use a comma to set off the final item in a series of three or more items; another (equally popular) convention says to leave it out. But some writers bounce between the two rules.
- Word, Excel, and Outlook are all installed. (OR: Word, Excel and Outlook are all installed.)
- Open the dialog box, click on the Options tab, and select the Enable option. (OR: Open the dialog box, click on the Options tab and select the Enable option.)
Best practice: Decide on one convention and stick to it. Those who read what you’ve written will have an easier time following your sentence structure if you’re consistent.
#10: Using a comma to join two dependent clauses
Bad practice: Commas are a great source of controversy and often the victim of misguided personal discretion. But there is this rule: Two dependent clauses don’t need one.
- I hid the ice cream, and then told my sister where to find it.
- The user said he saved the file, but somehow deleted it.
Best practice: If the second clause can’t walk away and be its own sentence, don’t set it off with a comma.
Posted by gjblass at 1:47 PM
By Slash LaneApple last week began testing iPhone Software v2.2 beta 1, the next software update for the iPhone and iPod touch that will deliver, among other things, subtle interface changes to Safari and a new version of the company's App Store application.
The update, expected to be released next month, has thus far shown no signs of including support for background push notification -- a feature original promised for September, but pushed back slightly as development remains a work-in-progress.
People familiar with the first beta of version 2.2 have reported a handful of smaller changes, however, such as a redesign of Safari's address bar that presents web page titles more clearly.
It also sports a relocation of the Google search field, which is now displayed to the right of the URL field by default. Under existing versions of the iPhone OS, users must tap the address bar to reveal Google search capability.
iPhone Software v2.1 (left) compared to iPhone Software v2.2 (right).
Separately, developers have also noted a couple of changes to the App Store application shipping with the first beta of iPhone Software 2.2.
Among them is a new categories page that will feature large category icons -- not yet functional -- and more generous spacing between each listing.
iPhone Software v2.1 (left) compared to iPhone Software v2.2 (right).
Apple is also reported to have tweaked display pages for individual applications, shifting the "Tell a Friend" option from the title bar to just below the reviews summary, and adding a "Report a Problem" function that will allow shoppers to inform the company of problematic apps.
iPhone Software v2.1 (left) compared to iPhone Software v2.2 (right).
The changes to the App Store application remain a work-in-progress and are likely to be influenced by ongoing modifications to the App Store as a whole, several of which were covered earlier today.
AppleInsider reader 'Thinnovation' helped contribute to this report.
Posted by gjblass at 1:44 PM
Big news! Flash is most likely coming to the iPhone! After many complaints about its absense, Adobe finally have gone ahead and made it. Now it’s just up to Apple to give the big go-ahead and we can all be watching hilarous animations and non-youtube videos on the go.
Posted by gjblass at 12:38 PM
October 2, 2008
Secret new Lambo revealed
The teasing is over, Lambo's secret is revealed - and it's a four-door super saloon called the Estoque.
Unveiled moments ago here at Paris, it's fair to say there were dropped jaws all round.
Lambo's brand director Manfred Fitzgerald says that he's not interested in what anyone else is doing - Aston's Rapide or Porsche's Panamera - but that this is a statement of intent.
And what a statement it is.
It measures in at over five metres long and two metres wide, with a wheelbase alone at three metres, and yet it's only 1.35 metres high. So it's long, wide, and very, very low.
It retains design details from last year's wowie Reventon, and those wheels are just plain huge.
This show car currently houses Lambo's recently reworked 556bhp, 5.2-litre V10 but, as our Jason Barlow speculates in the new issue, could easily accomodate the Murcielago's V12, a V8, or even, as Fitzgerald has hinted intriguingly, a new hybrid power train.
A hybrid Lambo?!
Interesting stuff. And Lambo says it's good to go with this, so expect to see it on the road soonish.
But for now, just breathe in those pictures. And try to decide whether it's this or the Aston that steals the show.
(Incidentally, the name Estoque, pronounced 'Es-tock-eh', is the sword which a matador uses to finish off a bull in the ring.)
The veggies will love that.
Posted by MacDaddy at 11:58 AM
There's a good chance the most powerful chip inside your PC, in raw computational terms, is on your graphics card. So, how did graphics get so powerful, what are graphics cards good for right now and how on earth do you choose from the baffling array of 3D chipsets on offer?
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 11:49 AM
Smaller plates and savvier calorie counting: how to avoid consuming more than you mean to.
Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, has spent years studying the unconscious thought processes that lead to our sometimes unfortunate eating habits. Among his findings, published in "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think" (Bantam, 2007) we're bound to think food tastes better if it's described with more flowery adjectives; we eat less when it's warm; and if food is left in front of us, no matter how bad it tastes, there's a good chance we'll keep picking at it as long as we're just sitting there. But fear not, Wansink has also come up with some easy strategies to for us to trick ourselves into thinking we're eating more than we are.
1. Buy Smaller Plates: It's all about presentation: If you put the same amount of food on a smaller plate, it'll look like a bigger serving. Simply switching from a 12.5" plate to a 10.5" plate will make you unconsciously serve 20 percent less food. "A smaller plate suggests what's called a smaller consumption norm," Wansink said. "It suggests a smaller amount of food that's normal, typical and appropriate." A larger plate does the reverse; it suggests that a big portion is normal. Similarly, if you repackage jumbo boxes of cereal or spaghetti into smaller plastic containers or baggies, you'll cut down on the amount of food you pour onto the plate in the first place, according to Wansink.
2. Don't Clean Your Plate. For a Super Bowl party, Wansink and his graduate students laid out a spread of buffalo wings and let a crowd of hungry MBA students have at them. Throughout the night, they had waitresses occasionally clear the bones from some tables, but leave the other tables' remains alone. The students who were left sitting in front of a plate of bones could see exactly how may wings they'd consumed and that knowledge was reflected in how much they ended up eating. Those whose places were cleared ate seven wings throughout the night, while the students whose places weren't cleared, had five each. Wansink adds that readers have emailed him with tips they've come up with to combat this phenomenon. "If they're eating candy, like little candy bars, they'll keep the wrappers in front of them," he said. "If they're at a party, they'll keep caps of bottles in their pockets so they can remember how much they've had to drink."
3. No Bagging It: Eating straight out of a bag of snack food is dangerous because you don't get a sense of how much you're consuming. For example, Wansink's team gave two groups of adults half-pound and one-pound bags of M&Ms, then had them eat as much as they wanted while watching a video. The people holding the half-pound bags ate 71 M&Ms, on average; in the same amount of time, the people eating the pound bags ate 137 M&Ms, almost twice as much. So, to avoid mindless consumption, don't grab a bag of chips and settle in for your favorite show. Instead, serve all your snacks on a tray or in a bowl.
4. Watch out for Group Grazing. In general, if you eat with someone else instead of alone, you'll ingest 35 percent more than you normally would; if you have seven or more dining partners, you'll eat almost twice as much as you would alone. Why? "You pay less attention to what you're eating," Wansink said. "You're not monitoring how much you eat, compared to when you're eating by yourself. And you tend to sit a lot longer, and the longer you sit the more you tend to eat." When eating in a group, try to start eating last and pace yourself with the slowest eater--that'll ensure you ingest the least possible volume, Wansink counsels. And leave a little bit of food on your plate so you're not tempted to get another serving you don't really want.
5. Don't Trust Your Own Judgment: Most people dramatically underestimate how many calories they've consumed. And their assessments are particularly inaccurate when they think they're eating at a healthy restaurant. Wansink surveyed McDonald's and Subway customers to find that the Subway diners—who assumed they were eating at a healthier restaurant—didn't pay attention to calorie counts and packed on fatty extras such as mayonnaise, potato chips and cookies. As a result, they consumed a third more calories than they thought they had. The McDonald's diners had a more realistic assessment of their meal; they acknowledged that they hadn't chosen the most health-friendly lunchtime locale and only underestimated their calorie intake by 25 percent. Wansink, who calls this effect the "health halo," said its repercussions extend beyond lunchtime. "Later on, some people end up indulging with snacks and even a larger dinner, believing they did their body right [earlier]," he said. Wansink's tip: Double the number of calories you think you've eaten and you'll be much more accurate in your assessment of your intake.
For more tips from Wansink, check out mindlesseating.org
Posted by gjblass at 11:17 AM
|Stonehenge Robotic Digital Clock||RoboCam Mobile Camera Platform||RoboStool On-Demand Furniture||Huey Color Chasing Robot||RoboWand Gesture-Based Remote Control & Beyond|
Ever wanted to build your own bot but didn't think you had the mechanical engineering wherewithal for a robot army in your backyard? Take heart in a middle-aged software engineer who slapped together some PVC pipe and geeky know-how to make everything from automated furniture to a walking webcam—and a kind of Wii-mote to control them all.
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 10:47 AM