I can hardly believe that I let the 45th anniversary of Star Trek go unmentioned here, but as you can tell, I’ve been pretty busy at Lifehacker. Still, this infographic crossed my desk a while back and I still adore it – so much so that I wanted to post it anyway, especially for other Star Trek fans out there who find themselves missing the franchise, or missing Gene Roddenberry himself.
I know, I know, there’s been a reboot, it was a good action flick, but honestly, it didn’t feel or seem at all like a Star Trek movie. I could wax rhapsodic about my criticisms over the Star Trek movie, but I think they’re aligned pretty well with the reboot movie’s Wikipedia article. That said though, I take solace in the fact that both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are both on Netflix streaming and thus available to me instantly.
So it’s with nostalgic eyes that I looked this infographic over, and a little optimism for the future. You never know, Star Trek as a franchise is part of our global consciousness, and I think it always will be. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.
Over at Mashable there’s an excellent walkthrough of Boeing’s newest and hottest passenger aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, and all of its gorgeous interior features that are designed to make passenger air travel more comfortable, less tiring, and more fun than it’s ever been. Make no mistake, the aircraft is utterly gorgeous and I have no doubt in my mind that the aircraft itself is wonderfully built with comfort and smart design in mind with smart design choices from the lighting to the windows–all points that are outlined in the article–but I have my doubts that even the Dreamliner will be able to make flying fun again.
Before we get into why, here’s some more info about the jet. For starters, there’s some great news about the cabin air; something that’s a number one complaint for a lot of flyers:
The 787′s lighter, composite fuselage design means the plane’s pressurization can be changed with no concerns about weight impact.
From a practical point, the 787′s lower pressure cabin should mean a more pleasant flying environment and around 8% more oxygen absorption. This is good news for anyone who suffers from headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue when flying.
In addition, the air in a 787 is “cleaner” than other commercial planes. Fresh air comes from “air scoops,” rather than via the engines. In addition to HEPA filtration, the 787 also employs a gaseous filtration system, reducing irritants even further.
Now that’s something I’m thrilled with. It’s never any fun being stuck in an airplane breathing stale, highly pressurized air that you know is being circulated through everyone else’s nostrils and that smells vaguely like jet fuel. The 787 Dreamliner’s vaulted ceilings and bigger windows don’t hurt things at all – they all make the jet more fun to be on and more open and comfortable once you’re on board.
That is, provided that airlines and government officials are willing to let the jet stay that way, and to smooth over the passenger’s experience getting to their flight. As it stands right now, the biggest problem with air travel is the fact that it’s so painful to get into the airport, through security, and to your flight that people just don’t want to do it anymore. If you do it regularly for business or out of necessity you quickly grow an immunity to it, but that doesn’t make it much easier. The rigor and fear surrounding the security theater of TSA checkpoints in the United States at least still makes for an incredibly unpleasant pre-flight experience, one that airlines and airports do little to alleviate once you’re through security and on your way to your gate or terminal.
Then, to make matters worse, the airlines will surely take all of the wonderful technological improvements in the Dreamliner and scrap them all in favor of packing in as many passengers as humanly possible with little to no regard for the design and comfort that Boeing engineers put into their work. The beautiful seating arrangements and wide on-deck desks that you see in the concept art at Mashable will likely be replaced with rows upon rows upon rows of seats that airlines can shamelessly overbook and pack people into so tightly that the only admiration they’ll have for the vaulted ceiling is when they look up to see it – mostly because they’ll have passengers less than 6 inches to their sides, a headrest immediately behind them, and the next passenger’s seat a few feet from their face.
Still, I can only hope that some of the improvements that Boeing has made to the Dreamliner make their way into the commercial versions of the jets. There’s a big difference between the concept jets and the first-flight jets that are carefully built to showcase the technology and design of the manufacturer and the final commercial products ordered (and heavily tweaked) by airlines. The question isn’t really whether the Dreamliner can make flying fun again, but whether the airlines will allow it to do so.
Photo by Stephen Edgar, licensed via Creative Commons
Every now and again you stumble on an explainer that walks you through a fundamental question in such great and interesting detail that it’s compelling to read. In this case, it’s all about why we can’t drink seawater – why people have died of thirst at sea, and how harmful it is exactly if you did decide to drink seawater to quench your thirst. There’s a reason why everyone seems to understand that you shouldn’t drink seawater and that it’ll make you sick if you do, but the science behind why is actually quite fascinating.
Ultimately, the end result is that if you’re dehydrated and you know that you’ll die if you don’t get fresh water soon, and you happen to be next to the seaside, don’t give in to the temptation and drink the seawater. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll die even sooner. Head over to read why:
This is totally the work of a PR firm, but the video is so entertaining that I figured it was worth a look. After all, while it’s not quite “the evolution and history of music,” it’s definitely a fun look back over formats, changes, and how far music and the way we enjoy it has come over the past 60+ years. But then, the PR firm that made the video is pimping its ability to make cool videos.
Dorkly is wonderful for many things, especially its old-school video game videos (are they machinima? I suppose so!) but this article has a special place in my heart. Now granted, I’ve fought a number of bosses that didn’t make the list that I really think should have (I’m looking at you I-no, Guilty Gear XX) but it’s still a good list regardless. Anyone who’s a big fan of videogames will proabably agree with at least some of them.
Frankly, I think M. Bison is a classic example of what we like to call the “rubberband AI,” meaning a first fight that’s so ridiculously easy that anyone can handle it, but is programmed only to lure you into a false sense of thinking that the fight will be at all reasonable in the long run. He then – like every boss like him – turns around and behaves impossibly good, reading the buttons you’re pressing to determine what you’re about to do and counter/avoid it, and does impossible amounts of damage on every hit.
Well, that’s my opinion anyway – who do you think should have been on the list that didn’t make it?
If you were a fan of Reading Rainbow as a child, and miss having the opportunity to share it with your kids or with a new generation of young readers, you’re not alone. When Reading Rainbow officially stopped airing, LeVar Burton noted on Twitter that this wouldn’t be the end of the show (you can follow him, if you don’t already at @levarburton) and now he’s made good on the promise.
LeVar is rebooting the series as an iPad app and other tech-based resources, called RRKidz, along with a wealth of companion content that will get to young readers right where they are these days: on mobile devices like tablets. From an excellent article at FastCompany about this:
LeVar Burton, a children’s literacy advocate and a former star of Star Trek: The Next Generation, plans to make an ambitious comeback, giving the once-loved Reading Rainbow brand a 21st-century upgrade. Burton’s for-profit venture, RRKidz, plans to launch an educational iPad app that lets children explore topics of interest–such as, say space–in a multimedia-rich environment, with voice-over-enhanced children’s books, familiar videos of Burton at real-life places (like NASA), and, of course, games. Burton tells Fast Company he’s on a mission to “get kids hooked on books,” and says his company is “going to where kids are today; those devices that they love to spend time on.”
From the way that FastCompany explains it, this is just the beginning – the iPad app is only going to be one component in what will hopefully be a rich and long-lived educational venture, and with LeVar Burton behind it, I can’t see how it’ll be anything but wonderful.
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(image snapped from Save the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus)
While I knew many people had difficulty understanding and accepting scientific papers as a basis for discussion and argument (mostly because whenever facts contradict opinion, the people on the wrong side of the facts take issue with them,) I didn’t know that some people had difficulty telling solid facts from conjecture, and that people had that much difficulty actually finding studies pertinent to the things they’re researching or interested in.
To that end, this piece from Scientific American about how to find and tell good information from bad information on the Internet is one of those “bookmarkable” stories – the kind you send to people when you find that their entire argument rests on horribly outdated or disproven information. They start off with this gem, and move on to some tips on how to find good information, corroborate it, and interpret it:
The internet empowers us to educate ourselves and make more informed choices and decisions without leaving our couches. But if we believe everything we find on the internet, we are likely to wind up making some very poor decisions. In this new digital information age, how do we keep from being misinformed? As a skeptical environmental research scientist and educator I have picked up a few tricks that anyone can use to find and select high-quality information from the internet.
One of my favorites is how to find and use scientific papers (and not to be afraid of scientific papers when you find them) and of course, to be careful which web sites you trust. The whole piece is worth a read, but admittedly, many of us are already familiar with these tips:
Anil Dash is a prominent blogger and commentator, and while I don’t always agree with his perspectives, this one is interesting. Dash posits that if the community around your website is problematic or disrespectful, the fault probably lies with the site owner and editors for not making sure they foster an environment where constructive discussion is encouraged and trolling or negativity is discouraged or moderated.
It’s a complicated piece for me, because part of what Dash is saying is so contrary to what bloggers and writers have been told for years – that if you want people to read your work, you should encourage all discussion, whether it’s positive or negative. As in, criticism is one thing, but any comments, even trolls and hateful ones, are better than no comments at all. Personally, I’ve never believed that, I think that too many people already misinterpret what their freedom of speech is and think that it gives them the right to say whatever they want, whenever they choose, on any site or platform they wish. Nothing could be further from the truth (for one, the first amendment only protects speech in public places, and only protects the individual from having their speech oppressed by the state, not by other individuals or groups) but most sites – if they’re worth the space they take on the web – encourage both positive and negative conversation, even if it’s critical, and allow their communities to moderate themselves, outside of spam and outright hateful commentary.
Still, Dash proposes that if your site is being plagued by trolls and others who have nothing positive or constructive to say, it’s likely because you’re not spending enough time moderating the comments, or because you don’t have anyone on your staff responsible for coming up with a community policy and moderating the community according to those rules. It’s a pretty good read, even if you don’t completely agree with it.