Archive for the 'Humor/Fun' Category

How long would it take to swim across the Atlantic Ocean?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Google Maps has the answer for me if I am headed from Stanford to Budapest. The only part left for me to figure out is how much to subtract for driving from California to Massachusetts and then from France to Hungary. Subtracting that from 31 days 14 hours I should have the answer. Alternatively, I can do a search for Boston to Brest, France and calculate it from that although I don’t get why they’re making me reach the coast at Le Havre since that’s quite a bit of extra swimming. Google Maps estimates that trip at about 29 days 5 hours, which makes me wonder how they got 31 days 14 hours for the other trip.

Hmm.. maybe I’ll stick to flying.

(Skip down to direction #33 on the first map or #9 on the second if this is all too cryptic.)


Cool visualizations

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

What do you get when you sort approximately 800,000 published papers into 776 scientific paradigms? If you have an interesting visualization expert working with you on the project then you get this map (or click here for an even larger version). Seed Magazine has more on the details and Brad Paley’s Information Esthetics Web site tells you how you can get your own copy just for paying shipping and handling charges.

This map is just one project of Katy Börner’s cool Places and Space: Mapping Science initiative at Indiana University. Check out that site for more goodies.

Brad also has some other intriguing projects, like this calendar (an alternative to what we usually use). One of my favorites, however, remains his TextArc work for alternative ways of visualizing text. For example, check out his representation of Alice in Wonderland.

UPDATE: I’ve been meaning to blog about Jim Moody’s related work as well so I should’ve remembered to include a link to his visualizations, too: co-citation of physical and bio sciences, dynamic visualization of sociology co-authorship network.

Vote for your favorite academic haikus

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Jim got such great response to his academic haiku contest that he decided to categorize the submissions by field. You are requested to cast your vote in the following categories:

I’m surprised by some of the classifications, but I’m sure it wasn’t easy with some of those submissions. Why my paper that was published in Social Science Quartery was not classified as social science is beyond me, but perhaps Jim needed some excuse to create a fourth category to make things manageable and thus put some entries in the fourth interdisciplinary tech/computer/Internet-related, but otherwise unrelated group. Even in the realm of academic haikus my work lands in a heap of confusion, the story of my academic life.

In any case, this was a really fun exercise and I thank Jim for inspiring so many of us to think about our work in 17 syllables. If you haven’t done it yet, I recommend playing with the concept even if you are too late to enter this contest. Go read the submissions and vote to get inspired.

I’m quite happy with my “I am an expert” haiku. If you agree, don’t be shy and please check off the corresponding mark, #3 on the tech/computer/Internet list.:-)

Academic haiku

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

Grad school pal Jim Gibbon launched an academic haiku contest a week ago. I only noticed it today (Wednesday),which happens to be the deadline for submissions. If you still have time, head on over and submit something. If it’s past Wednesday then feel free to add your creative output in the comments here.

The idea is that the haiku should represent some of your work (a paper, a book, a dissertation, etc.). Here are my two submissions:

I am an expert.
I am man, you are woman.
I exaggerate.

From: *Hargittai, E & S. Shafer. 2006. “Differences in Actual and Perceived Online Skills: The Role of Gender.” Social Science Quarterly. 87(2):432-448. June.

RSS, widgets,
Don’t know one from the other.
Average Web users.

From: Hargittai, E. 2007. “Wikis and Widgets: Differences in Young Adults’ Uses of the Internet” Paper to be presented at the 2007 ICA meetings.

[*] I have to add that it’s actually not possible to tell from the findings whether men overestimate or women underestimate their skills, but perhaps that amount of artistic freedom for the haiku is allowed.

Superbowl dance

Sunday, February 4th, 2007

Not interested in football, but still want to get into the Superbowl spirit? Check out Jeremy’s “The Boy Detective” dance choreographed for the occasion. Try at your own risk.

Requisite addendum from a Chicagolander: Go Bears!

Which superhero are you?

Monday, January 1st, 2007

A new year, an old trend: taking somewhat meaningless yet nonetheless amusing online “quizes”. Scott is Superman, but would prefer to be Batman. I came out as Spider-Man. I don’t even know half of the characters on that list so I can’t say I have a preference (but yes, I felt compelled to take the quiz regardless).

More importantly, is there a quiz about which of the X-Men/Women you are or which X-Men/Women powers you might have? NBC could do a bit of PR for its Heroes series with a quiz of that sort.

My results:
You are Spider-Man

Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

For geeks, revisited

Saturday, December 30th, 2006

Two years ago (almost to this day), I took the quiz “Which file extension are you?” and came out as a wildcard aka *.

Today, I came across the quiz again and remembering that it had been fun, I took it again. The results have changed:

You are .exe When given proper orders, you execute them flawlessly.  You're familiar to most, and useful to all.

In light of the various options, I think I’m happy with either of these results.

Friday fun or frustration

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Time sink

If you haven’t seen the Grow Cube before then you are lucky and I do apologize for bringing it to your attention. I realize that it’s been around for a while, but some may have missed it. [No thanks to Marc Rittle for the link.]

If you don’t have hours to kill then a search for grow cube solution on your favorite search engine should do the trick. But I doubt you’ll appreciate it if you don’t spend at least a bit of time trying to figure out the solution on your own. No comment as to how much time.

Playing with celebrity pics

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Via Alex I found a celebrity look-alike tool. A couple of people have told me in the past that I look like Sigourney Weaver, but she didn’t come up on any of the results regardless of which photo I tried. (Yup, I got different results depending on the photo so that, in and of itself, should tell you about the value of this exercise.:-) FYI, you do have to register for a free account to play with this tool.

Gift season

Monday, November 20th, 2006

My brother sent me a link to a site about regifting stories some of which are pretty amusing. On the side is a poll asking people about their reasons for regifting. I have considered regifting in the past, but in the end I don’t know if I’ve ever done it. It mostly comes up in cases when I really don’t like something I’ve been given. But then I ask myself: if I really don’t like it then would I want to inflict it on a friend? Plus there’s the potential embarrassment of being thought of as someone who might’ve actually found the item valuable. Hmm…

Got a few hours?

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Vivian’s recent comment wondering whether my work would interfere with my ability to post Friday time-sink amusements reminded me that I should not abandon my important role in keeping you from doing whatever it is that you had planned to do when you sat down at your computer.

This weekend’s amusement is brought to you by Jeux Chiants (yeah, I know, you’ll have to excuse my French).

Of the large selection, my highest recommendation goes to Double Jeu. You won’t miss much by not speaking French, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Just don’t let either ball drop. Hah, and doesn’t that sound easy? The one thing you’ll miss out on by not speaking French is the derogatory comments after you mess up. I managed to get up to 24.5 seconds. If anyone does it longer and understands the resulting comment, I’d be curious to hear if you ever get a true heartfelt congratulations.

I thought Labyflou was reasonably amusing and you can get it the first time around. It’s also not addictive, once is about enough.

Le jeu du ver is not bad. It’s one of those games that starts out almost too easy, but then gets significantly harder with each level.

Finally, La souris est invisible is a good reminder of how dependent we may or may not be on visual cues when using the mouse.

Got three minutes?

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Click here for something cool.

in three minutes, the largest dot will travel around the circle once, the next largest dot will travel around the circle twice, the next largest dot three times, and so on.

the dots are arranged to trigger notes on a chromatic scale when they pass the line


Fun Flickr finds

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Over the weekend I found a few fun Flickr tools. I’ve bookmarked these (see links), but they are worth a separate post.

First, Steeev’s Flickr Projects is a goldmine. The resources there are mostly Greasemonkey scripts, which requires that you use Firefox and that you download Greasemonkey. (For the non-techies in the audience, it’s not that painful. The instructions are pretty straight-forward on that site. Just remember, as with all Firefox extensions, you’ll have to restart Firefox after the installation.)

My favorite script from Steeev’s site is FlickrPM. It adds useful links next to each user’s name. You can now quickly find out whether they have any images in the Explore archives, view their images in order of interestingness, jump to their mail or profile page directly, all via a direct link right next to their name.

There are several other goodies on that site, it’s worth a look.

Another interesting Greasemonkey script imports information about the Upcoming event with which the photo may be associated. I no longer remember, but this may also be the script that lets you add a tag with Upcoming event information from your Upcoming event list seemlessly to any Flickr photo.

Finally, for some fun, check out Museumr, which lets you place any of your Flickr images (or probably any image from anywhere online) in a museum setting. Here is an example.

Celebrating 90,000 Flickr views!

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Celebrating 90,000 views!

There are 2,122 images in my Flickr stream viewable to all, 2,868 viewable to me (the number’s in between there somewhere for family & friends). It’s so much fun to be able to go back and remember various things from the past year by being able to browse photos of people, events and places. It’s also a delight to communicate with people on the site and learn about others’ interests, passions and environments. If you’re not yet a user, I highly recommend it! Here are some instances of Flickr mentions on this blog.


Sunday, August 27th, 2006

In addition to taking pictures of restroom signs, I also enjoy looking around for interesting license plates. There are plenty of these in Illinois, apparently one in five drivers has one. I find this somewhat surprising given their cost: $76 extra for personalized plates and $123 for vanity plates (and who knew there was a difference between those two categories?).

I used to take a lot of pictures of them, but given the volume I have decided to focus mostly on ones that I can decipher and find at least somewhat interesting. Some of my favorites: EUROPA, KODALY, MAKE ART, GENEVE 4 (although that would be cleaner without the number), GOOGLE and MR PHOTO. For that last one I reversed course and went back to park on the street and capture it. I am serious about my collection.:) Among others’ photos, I’ve especially appreciated finds that have some Internet-related meaning (FLICKR‘s the best), but some others are fun as well (e.g. GRUETZI) plus the ones that are not obvious to decipher (although if they are too cryptic I’m likely to miss the meaning). Others are just outright curious, for example, who knew emotional expressions about one’s Mom is a popular theme (I LOV MUM, ILUVMA).

The issue of vanity plates can get tricky quickly as certain expressions are not always allowed. One has to wonder how closely suggested plates get scrutinized. Or would the reverse of a plate be checked (say, you want to send a message to those viewing your plate in their rear-view mirror, do state official consider the reverse reading of submitted requests)? Then there is the issue of specialty plates that support certain causes. The environmental ones don’t cause much contraversy, but the pro-life ones do.

Illinois has a search program available so you can check whether your preference is available. It turns out that mine is, but I’m not ready to spend the $123. I guess I could always just get a bumper sticker.

I see that there are plenty of vanity plates in Calfornia so I look forward to capturing those when I move there in a couple of weeks.

Got a few seconds?

Sunday, August 27th, 2006

Then click here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Desktop icon cartoon

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

This is pretty cute although it would’ve worked at least as well with a less violent theme. It would be interesting to see something like this with some of the more recent popular programs like Firefox. Not too hard to guess who would win. Anyone know of such a creation?

Photo scavenger hunt

Saturday, July 1st, 2006

Time sink!

Looking for a summer [or insert appropriate season] hobby? Consider joining the Flickr Monthly Scavenger Hunt group!

June Scavenger Hunt

Each month, you’re given a list of items for which you have to post photos. The challenge is made a bit easier by the fact that you can use photos taken at other times. (I think the really hard core version would not allow people to look in their archives, but it’s hard enough as is so it’s likely a reasonable rule.)

The July list has just been posted. It looks considerably harder than last month’s list, not that that was easy. I think for #8 “Hot pink” I can recycle my “Oink” entry from June. And probably few will have my particular take on #13 “Pest”. But what about entries like #11 “Most exotic animal for your location” or #14 “Road sign with wildlife on it”? This should be interesting…

Captions sought

Monday, May 29th, 2006

My brother just sent me this picture of my nephew:

Last in has to get out on his own

My first reaction was that I laughed. The second was that I started coming up with possible captions for it (here’s one). It seems like a natural for a caption contest. I’m not holding a contest as I have nothing to give away, but I still invite you to suggest a caption, you know, just for the pure amusement, glory and fame associated with participation. As my brother kindly pointed out to me, my nephew is the one on the left, Pooh is on the right, fyi.

Dance dance evolution

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

As the resident danceoholic I have to link to this video on the Evolution of Dance. It’s been viewed millions of times so I suspect it’s not new to all of you, but perhaps some of you haven’t seen it yet.

I’m not sure if I should be proud of, embarrassed, excited, or feel pathetic about the fact that of the approximately thirty songs featured in the clip, I have definitely danced to most at parties or clubs in the past (there were 3-4 that I don’t recall). To be sure, I certainly had not used most of the moves featured on the video. I’m more confident that that part is probably a good thing.

Watching the clip is a trip down memory lane as the various moments from life rush back when the particular songs were popular at parties and clubs. For example, Cotton-Eyed Joe by the Rednex will forever transport me back to the Arcade 46 bar and dance floor in the basement of our dorm in Geneva where I spent my junior year in college. Just imagine hundreds of people in this hole dancing away to this and other songs (Macarena anyone?). Those were the days…