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February 2004 Archives

Semi-technical details on Spirit's failure

Remember when Spirit died for a while, but then NASA was able to revive it? The EETimes has a semi-technical description of what the problem was. (It's quite readable.) What amazes me is how they were able to recover at all, from millions of miles away. That's what I call robust software engineering.

The Women's Language

So I never heard off this until now.. There's a language in China that was solely used by women. It's call "Nushu". Women weren't allowed to read or write in the old days, so some of them secretly invented their own script that is both character-based but also phonetic. Here's a sample of what it looks like. Wild.

One interesting thing is how outsiders discovered it in the mid-20th Century. The scholar who was researching it was branded a right-winger during the Cultural Revolution (like most academics were), and all his collected samples and works were destroyed. He resumed his work in the late 70s, after the Cultural Revolution ended. Now, ironically, it's also the Communists who introduced widespread education for women and made Nushu obsolete. Today, only about 10 non-scholars are fluent in it.

On happiness through experience and symbiosis with dogs

So an interesting new study claims that "experiential purchases" make us more happy than "material purchases". That is, going out and doing something makes us happier than buying something of equal price. They suggest that this may be due to our ability to remember activities fondly and to build our identity with them. These reasons sounded fluffier to me before I took a look at the full paper [PDF, 632K, 10 pages], which addressed some of my concerns.

It seems reasonably legit, even if they do use the phrase "self-actualizing". :P And it's something interesting to think about, in any case.

So I found that item through judevac, who found it through a Philip Greenspun blog entry. Looking around, I saw this other entry, which points to a news article about how dogs are specifically sensitive to human social cues. It seems they've been bred for that trait, thus making them a sort of symbiotic organism with us, in a way. Kinda neat.

Images of civic civil disobedience

[Justly Married] You have likely heard of the San Francisco city government's decision to disobey state law and allow gay marriage, while arguing that laws against gay marriage violate the equal protection clause of the state constitution. Thousands of couples have gotten married at City Hall, and many lawsuits are pending in various directions.

Here is an album of photos from outside City Hall. What I find interesting is that, well, protestors are usually kinda angry and upset...

This has got to be the happiest group of protesters I've ever seen.

The March of Time

So I was amusing myself with a link about HTML in airport displays, and I looked around that site a bit. It led me to a family that has been taking photos of themselves on the same day each year since 1976. It's pretty neat. They linked to a similar but not as impressive project.

The true history of Valentine's Day?

So I follow some link about the history of Valentine's Day, and it leads to a History Channel page. Blah blah St. Valentine, etc. All well and good. But when you scroll to the bottom of the page...

Special thanks to American Greetings.

For some reason, I find that more telling than anything on the rest of the page. :P

Gotta love the History Channel.

Two British Foods

And now for the klog immature chuckling edition.

Here are [two] [foods] I saw at Safeway in London that you won't see in the States.

Be sure to take a look at the news page for the second item... especially this QuickTime advert. You can't make this up.

Hail Suppression

Did you know that we can freaking prevent hailing?

It's so crazy. Apparently, there's a device that blasts loud noises up into the clouds, thus deionizing or ionizing them or something like that :P and it turns what would've been hail into small rain droplets.

Is that not insane?

We can't even predict the weather, but apparently, we can control it!

Here's a article about it, and here's one such device.

The Text Adventure of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

I haven't worked my way through this yet, but here for your enjoyment is Hamlet: The Text Adventure.

Font change

Just a random amusing bit on how the U.S. gov't is officially changing fonts!

They're going from Courier New 12 to Times New Roman 14 because it has "a crisper, cleaner, more modern look". That last bit amuses me because Times seems older than Courier.

Some Googling reveals that Times New Roman dates back to 1932, when it was created for the Times of London, while Courier New is based on the IBM Selectric typewriter's font, which didn't exist until 1961. "More modern" indeed.

(Okay, so admittedly I'm sure the "modernness" is more about the ability of new-fangled "word processors" to print in proportional fonts not available to ancient typewriters... But it's still pretty amazing how long it took the gov't to make that switch.)

Now that you've learned that bit off trivia about the origins of Times and Courier, how about this bit about the conflict between Times Roman and Times New Roman? Oddly, Times New Roman is actually older than Times Roman.

About February 2004

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in February 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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March 2004 is the next archive.

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