Category: Fun

Random Street View does exactly what you think it does

Today’s a non-work day for me but, after reviewing resource-centric social media sites as part of my Moodle work yesterday, I rediscovered the joy of StumbleUpon.

That took me to lots of interesting sites which, if you haven’t used the service before, become more relevant to your tastes as time goes on if you use the thumbs up / thumbs down tool.

I came across this Random Street View site which I’ve a sneaking suspicion I’ve seen before. Not only is it a fascinating way to ‘visit’ lesser-known parts of the world, it also shows the scale of Google’s Street View programme.

The teacher in me imagines using this as the starting point for some kind of project. It could be a writing prompt, you could use it to randomly find somewhere to do some research on, or it could even be an art project.

Great stuff.

Source: Random Street View

xkcd on conversational dynamics

xkcd cartoon

Source: xkcd

Browser extensions FTW

Last week, the New York Times issued a correction to an article written by Justin Bank about President Trump. This was no ordinary correction, however:

Because of an editing error involving a satirical text-swapping web browser extension, an earlier version of this article misquoted a passage from an article by the Times reporter Jim Tankersley. The sentence referred to America’s narrowing trade deficit during “the Great Recession,” not during “the Time of Shedding and Cold Rocks.” (Pro tip: Disable your “Millennials to Snake People” extension when copying and pasting.)

Social networks went crazy over it. 😂

The person responsible has written an excellent follow-up article about the joys of browser extensions:

Browser extensions, when used properly and sensibly, can make your internet experience more productive and efficient. They can make thesaurus recommendations, more accessible, create to-do lists in new tabs, or change the color scheme of web pages to make them more readable.

The examples given by the author are all for the Chrome web browser, but all modern browsers have extensions:

Unfortunately — if somewhat comically — my use of that extension last week was far from joyful or efficient. But, despite my embarrassment to have distracted from the good work of my colleagues, I still passionately recommend the subversive, web-altering extensions you can find in a category the Chrome Web Store lists as “fun“.

Here’s my three favourite of the ones he lists in the article (which, as ever, I suggest you check out in full):

I’m particularly pleased to have come across the Word Replacer (Chrome) extension which allows you to effectively make your own extension. But as the author notes, be careful of the consequences when copy/pasting…

Source: The New York Times

Europe is being taken over by crayfish that can clone themselves

I was a teenager when Dolly the sheep was cloned. It made me wonder why evolution seemed to favour species producing offspring from two parents. Why don’t creatures just clone themselves?

Well, it turns out that a new species of crayfish is doing exactly that:

Before about 25 years ago, the species simply did not exist. A single drastic mutation in a single crayfish produced the marbled crayfish in an instant.

The mutation made it possible for the creature to clone itself, and now it has spread across much of Europe and gained a toehold on other continents. In Madagascar, where it arrived about 2007, it now numbers in the millions and threatens native crayfish.

It looks like the mutation may have occurred in a German aquarium, and owners just haven’t known what to do with them:

For nearly two decades, marbled crayfish have been multiplying like Tribbles on the legendary “Star Trek” episode. “People would start out with a single animal, and a year later they would have a couple hundred,” said Dr. Lyko.

Many owners apparently drove to nearby lakes and dumped their marmorkrebs. And it turned out that the marbled crayfish didn’t need to be pampered to thrive. Marmorkrebs established growing populations in the wild, sometimes walking hundreds of yards to reach new lakes and streams. Feral populations started turning up in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Ukraine in Europe, and later in Japan and Madagascar.

They’re not likely to completely take over the earth, however. Having the same DNA, they have the same susceptibility to disease and changing environmental conditions:

There are a lot of clear advantages to being a clone. Marbled crayfish produce nothing but fertile offspring, allowing their populations to explode. “Asexuality is a fantastic short-term strategy,” said Dr. Tucker.

In the long term, however, there are benefits to sex. Sexually reproducing animals may be better at fighting off diseases, for example.

If a pathogen evolves a way to attack one clone, its strategy will succeed on every clone. Sexually reproducing species mix their genes together into new combinations, increasing their odds of developing a defense.

I’m not eating meat at the moment, but I am eating (shell)fish. So I’m imagining a sustainabile source of tasty, tasty crayfish…

Source: The New York Times

The backstory of Apple’s emoji

This is a lovely post, full of insights and humour. A designer, now at Google but originally an intern at Apple, talks about the first iterations of their emoji.

My favourite part:

Sometimes our emoji turned out more comical than intended and some have a backstory. For example, Raymond reused his happy poop swirl as the top of the ice cream cone. Now that you know, bet you’ll never forget. No one else who discovered this little detail did either.

A fantastic read, really made my day.

Source: Angela Guzman

Fake amusement park

This made me smile:

The show is called “Fake Theme Parks” and it debuts Friday, January 12 at Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles. Fifty artists created a huge variety of work based on parks from TV, movies, video games, and more.

[…]

Itchy & Scratchy Land, Krustyland, and Duff Gardens are from The Simpsons; Anatomy Park is from Rick and Morty; Brisbyland is from Venture Bros.; Arctic World is from Batman Returns; Funland is from Scooby-Doo; Monkey Island is from a game of the same name (by Lucasarts); Walley World is from Vacation; and Pacific Playland (not pictured) is from Zombieland.

I have unlimited love for the Monkey Island series of games. So much so that I’m afraid that if I replayed them as an adult I’d destroy part of my remembered youth.

Fun fact: Ron Gilbert, the creator of the first two Monkey Island games, wrote a blog post a few years ago about how he would approach making a new version. He’s not going to, though, sadly.

Source: io9