Monday, January 23, 2006

Like This? You'll Hate That

Cool graphic from NYT on rec engines

click for larger graph


courtesy of NYT

NYT Excerpt:

"The most reliable prediction for how much a customer will like a movie is what they thought of other movies," Mr. Hunt said. The company credits the system's ability to make automated yet accurate recommendations as a major factor in its growth from 600,000 subscribers in 2002 to nearly 4 million today.

Similarly, Apple's iTunes online music store features a system of recommending new music as a way of increasing customers' attachment to the site and, presumably, their purchases. Recommendation engines, which grew out of the technology used to serve up personalized ads on Web sites, now typically involve some level of "collaborative filtering" to tailor data automatically to individuals or groups of users.

Some engines use information provided directly by the shopper, while others rely more on assumptions, like offering a matching shirt to a shopper interested in purchasing a tie. And some sites are now taking personalization to another level by improving not only the collection of data but the presentation of it., an online site for music and, more recently, movies, graphically "maps" shoppers' potential interests. A search for music by Coldplay, for example, brings up a graphical representation of what previous customers of Coldplay music have purchased, presented in clusters of circles of various sizes.

The bigger the circle, the greater the popularity of that band. The circles are clustered into orbits representing groups of customers with similar preferences.

"This is a way of showing recommendations that are vastly more useful than textual links," said Whit Andrews, a research vice president at Gartner Inc., a market research company in Stamford, Conn.

Another development under way is matching customer tastes across Web businesses, using knowledge of a customer's tastes in music to try to sell them books, for example. "To date, that's been largely uncharted territory," Mr. Andrews said, though not for lack of trying. Web sites have long tried to develop systems for cross-selling among companies that protect customer privacy but also allow sharing of data."

Like This? You'll Hate That. (Not All Web Recommendations Are Welcome.)
NYT,  January 23, 2006

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2 for Phillip K. Dick fans

First, a podcast:  Benjamen Walker talks with authors Jonathan Lethem and Josh Glenn about the Science Fiction genius Philip K Dick.

Second, an R. Crumb comic on  The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick

click for comic


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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Keyra II: Electric Bootyloo

What compels a college girl to film herself doing this?



I don't know, but I would imagine millions of college boys would like to say "Thank you!"

via iFilm

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Giant Jellyfish

How cool is this:   Giant Jellyfish Invade Japan


"Since last summer, Japanese waters have been inundated with the massive sea creatures, which can grow 6.5 feet (2 meters) wide and weigh up to 450 pounds (220 kilograms).

Though the jellyfish are more common in Chinese and Korean waters, their numbers have grown a hundredfold in some areas off Japan, causing a crisis in the local fishing industry."

Giant Jellyfish Invade Japan
Blake de Pastino 
National Geographic Society, January 19, 2006


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Martin D-45 Guitar

The weekend WSJ has an article about the Martin D-45 Guitar:


Listen to audio excerpts of Wayne Henderson playing on a D-45, from "W.C. Henderson & Company" on Hay Holler Records.
St. Anne's Reel
Peace in the Valley

The pearl trim on an heirloom Martin may be tremendously labor intensive, but the payoff is stunning. With Mr. Henderson's D-45 on your lap, it's easy to understand why Autry ordered the extra bling. On the company's lesser models, the pearl trim on the spruce top faces the audience. On a 45-style Martin, the best and most ornate inlay is visible only from the driver's seat. The gleaming abalone accentuates the graceful curve of the neck heel, and no fewer than eight separate lines of inlay converge within the player's line of sight. On close examination, the work on a vintage D-45 is clean and precise but not quite perfect, clearly crafted by hand.

It is the tone of a prewar D-45, however, that is its hallmark. Mr. Henderson's Martin sounds a bit like it looks, regal and majestic. It has a James Earl Jones voice, rich and resonant and oh-so-distinctive. Strum a simple E chord and the massive guitar will ring for almost 30 seconds before fading to silence. It's got power, the ability to respond to even the most aggressive picking and strumming with increased volume but still pristine tone. But the big D-45 also responds surprisingly well to a delicate touch. Hand it to a master player like Mr. Henderson, who's performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House, and you'll hear what it can do. (He plays his D-45 on his "W.C. Henderson & Friends" CD.)

While it sounds like an interesting instrument, I remain partial to local boy Jesselli and his hand made Axes:

Sl1_1_1 Joseph Jesselli, 56, starts with fine seasoned wood, and finishes -- countless details later -- with pieces of functional art, mostly electric guitars, that have won customers ranging from obscure collectors to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Electric guitars did not hit their stride until the 1950's, but to hear Mr. Jesselli talk, and to see his work, is to be taken back earlier in the 20th century. He draws his inspiration from Art Deco and Art Nouveau, from gun and furniture makers and from what he believes is a dying group: skilled artisans who served true apprenticeships and know how to use their hands.

''To me, an artisan has to chop stuff, really do a good job, like a woodcarver,'' Mr. Jesselli said at his studio. ''A guy who inlays, a guy who gilds, a guy who finishes. These take lifetimes to really master these things.''

His obsessive attention to detail shapes every part of his process, from start (''I don't want to use a piece of wood unless I've had it 10 years'') to finish (''a finisher is not just a guy who schlops paint on a piece of furniture -- it's a really very intense thing to do''). As a final touch, he even makes leather and oak cases with tools and straps to match that guitar.

That's One Big, Beautiful Guitar
The Martin D-45 is an 'amazing' acoustic instrument to play -- and to behold
WSJ, January 21, 2006; Page P14

Huntington's Stradivari
NYT, September 25, 2005

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Friday, January 20, 2006


I love this perspective:



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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Atomic Boom!

How whack is this:   Automatic Camera situated 7 miles from Atomic blast with 10 foot lens. Shutter speed equaled 1/1000,000,000 of-a-second exposure:


via Harold Edgerton

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Honda Commercial Sound FX Done in All Human Vocals

How cool is this:

click for commercial



Human Choir Provides Sound For Honda Civic Ad

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

NYC Food Blogs

Monday, January 16, 2006

On Surveillence and Liberty

A speech from (of all people) Al Gore:

"Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same."

-Al Gore

Al Gore
Martin Luther King Day address
Jan. 16, 2006

Gore Assails Domestic Wiretapping Program
CBS News, Jan. 16, 2006

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