Thursday, 25 Aug 2016

The JFK Airport Shooting that never happened  

I somehow missed this story the other day, perhaps because it was caused by an event that never happened. David Wallace-Wells from New York Magazine, tells the story of how someone in the crowd at JFK Airport apparently mistook the sound of people cheering and clapping Usain Bolt’s 100 meter final for gunfire. In the security paranoid environment of an airport it didn’t take much to start a mass panic.

The applause sounded like gunfire, somehow, or to someone; really, it only takes one. According to some reports, one woman screamed that she saw a gun. The cascading effect was easier to figure: When people started running, a man I met later on the tarmac said, they plowed through the metal poles strung throughout the terminal to organize lines, and the metal clacking on the tile floors sounded like gunfire. Because the clacking was caused by the crowd, wherever you were and however far you’d run already, it was always right around you.

Hundreds of passengers take cover behind their baggage.

The airport was evacuated, planes were delayed, even emergency chutes were deployed on some, passengers ran onto the tarmac, it was pandemonium. Interestingly, the airport security appeared to be mostly ineffective in controlling the situation with reports of the security guards being just as panicked and confused as the passengers.

Guards were rushing back and forth, themselves panicked, and each time any one of them made a sudden movement, the rest of us seemed to swell up, too, and surge forward for the door. Guards and passengers kept screaming at each other; if the security had been armed, a shooting wouldn’t have just been possible but likely.

What a frightening situation, so glad it turned out to be a false alarm.

Via One Foot Tsunami.

Monday, 15 Aug 2016

Usain Bolt is still No. 1  

As the king of sprinting and the biggest global star at the Rio Games, Usain Bolt of Jamaica held aloft his index finger, signaling that he was No. 1, during introductions Sunday night as a smitten crowd chanted his name.

Then Bolt proved it again, winning the 100 meters in 9.81 seconds, a coronation that secured his place as the greatest sprinter of all time. He is the only man or woman to win the Olympic 100 three times, which he accomplished at three consecutive Games.

Usain Bolt wins Olympic gold in the 100 metres

Such a great ambassador for such a beautiful country – moments like this remind me of how proud I am of my Jamaican heritage.

No Fear  

A great article on Alex Honnold, the man considered to be the world’s greatest free-solo climber (no ropes or protective gear) and how he manages to climb without giving in to the natural instinct of fear.

Alex Honnold in 2008 on the

Recently a group of scientists took MRI scans of Honnold’s brain while he viewed images intended to stimulate the amygdala, the part of the brain that is related to our fear response. What they found was that Honnold’s amygdala was largely inactive due to repeated exposure to and suppression of his sense of fear.

One by one, acts that had seemed outrageous to him began to seem not so crazy: soloing moves in which he hangs only by his fingers, for example, with his feet swinging in the open air, or, as he did in June on a notorious route called The Complete Scream, climbing ropeless up a pitch that he had never ascended before. In 12 years of free solos, Honnold has broken holds, had his feet slip, gotten off-route into unknown terrain, been surprised by animals like birds and ants, or just suffered “that fraying at the edges, you know, where you’ve just been up in the void too long.” But because he managed to deal with these problems, he gradually dampened his anxieties about them.

This is an interesting read about a remarkable person, especially the fact he was willing to be a guinea pig for these scientists to gain a better understanding of how our brains process and retain information.

Via NextDraft.

UPDATE: The first 30 seconds of this video is a perfect example of why people are curious about his lack of fear.

Thursday, 11 Aug 2016

Australia's GPS Navigation is Wrong  

If you’re in Australia, you might have noticed a strange consistency in this imprecision—specifically, that everything is about 1.5 meters (just under 5 feet) off the mark.

No wonder I keep getting lost.

Tuesday, 26 Jul 2016

Yahoo 1996 - 2016  

Yahoo has announced a $4.7 billion sale to Verizon ending a twenty year roller coaster ride of highs and (mostly) lows. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting timeline highlighting key moments of those twenty years.

Funny to think they rejected a $44.6 billion bid from Microsoft back in 2008, I think Microsoft dodged a bullet.

Tuesday, 28 Jun 2016

The Vikings from Iceland are taking over Euro 2016  

Twenty-seven thousand Icelandic fans, or eight percent of of the country's population of 332,000, are at Euro 2016. This tiny country has captured the attention of every Soccer fan following the Euro 2016 championships, firstly by beating Austria last week 2-1 to make it to the final 16, then just this morning, by beating England 2-1 to make it through to the quarter finals. This video looks at how such a tiny cold country has risen from being ranked number 112 in the world to 23rd in just a few short years.

Also impressive is the fans' perfectly synchronised, Viking-like chant which is said to "terrify" rival fans and players.

UPDATE: While looking at YouTube clips of the fans chanting, I noticed this clip which appears to be recorded at the same moment as the clip linked above but from a fan about a dozen seats across sitting directly in front of the drummer. You can see the drummer and the person filming in the original clip.

Tuesday, 7 Jun 2016

DJ Khaled - Nail Salon  

Apple's latest Apple Music ad features DJ Khaled and Ray Liotta in a nail salon. I don't pay much attention to Apple ads these days but this one I like.
...thousands and thousands and thousands of songs!
Love it.
Monday, 6 Jun 2016

Google Maps & Apple Maps Comparison  

Justin O’Beirne has released Part 1 of a detailed analysis of the differences between Apple Maps and Google Maps. Part 1 goes into detail comparing the differences between the two at various zoom levels looking at differences in road labels, city labels, etc.

I’m a bit of a cartography nerd so enjoyed this a lot, O’Beirne makes some interesting observations. He seems puzzled however by some of the omissions made, such as how few cities are shown at various levels on Google maps.

What a difference! Apple is showing way more cities than Google. It’s not even close. (Here, Apple labels 44 cities, while Google labels just 10.)

I wonder why Google doesn’t label more cities here?

To me the answer is quite simple, Google maps (and perhaps to a lesser extent Apple Maps) is first and foremost a search tool. Most people using it will search for an address and then view that address on the map. The visual presentation at various zoom levels, particularly higher up, is secondary to their needs. They want an address, they type it in and they see it – search speed and visual clarity are top priority, visual detail less so.

Friday, 3 Jun 2016

Star Wars Episode IV in one picture  

Swiss illustrator and graphic novelist, Martin Panchaud, has created an incredibly detailed visual representation of the entire first (episode IV) Star Wars movie.

SWANH.NET is an adaptation of Star Wars Episode IV in a style that was inspired by infographics. One story in one piece of 123 meters length.

It was created with Adobe Illustrator CC in 2016. Its exact measures are:
1024 x 465152 px / 27 x 12307 cm / 10.6 x 4845.3-inch

I first came up with the idea for this project in January 2015 and I started working on it beside my contract works (a selection is featured on MartinPanchaud.ch). All together it took me approximately 1000 hours and I finished it in May 2016.

Make sure you check out his Making Of page as well.

Via kottke.org

Wednesday, 1 Jun 2016

How big is the VR nausea problem?  

Quora contributor, Steve Baker, presents some sobering insights into how much of a problem VR related nausea and disorientation is for the future of VR headsets. He highlights two main issues that cause nausea, lack of focus depth perception and lack of momentum perception. Both of which are very difficult to overcome with current technology.

On focus depth perception:

So we’re continually estimating range using the tensions in two sets of muscles – one for focus, the other for convergence. When the brain gets the right signals, these two mechanisms agree perfectly.

But in a VR display, they don’t agree. The focussing system says “This image is all at the same range” – the convergence system says “This image is at a variety of different ranges”.

And momentum:

When you’re walking along, and suddenly stop, the mass of your body wants to continue to move forwards – and you have to apply muscular force to preventing your arms from swinging forwards and your head from tipping. This momentum has to be absorbed when you’re stopping in a car or even turning a corner.

Those forces are entirely absent in a VR rig…and your brain notices that.

He also highlights the even greater risk of disorientation when returning to the real world and performing tasks that rely on our natural senses to determine distance and speed such as driving a car or riding a bike. Its a serious enough issue that the US Navy recommends up to 24 hours break after using VR before driving a vehicle.