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iPhone 6

This week the world was introduced to iPhone 6. Last week I had my credit card number compromised which meant I wouldn’t have to stay up all night to order a phone that won’t even ship to me until October. I did, however, get a new card in the mail yesterday and the phone which I have been anxiously holding off through three generations of iPhones (four if you count the 5c) will finally be on it’s way in just another few short weeks. The photos I’m going to take… I can’t wait.

Some might argue that spending so much money on a new Apple device would actually be much better spent on buying Apple stock. The $500USD that was spent on my first ipod (the iPod Photo 40gb) would have been a better investment in Apple stock considering that same $500 would now be worth $12470. While I really loved my iPod, it wasn’t worth $12.5K.

So this time around, I decided to have my cake and eat it too. I invested in the spring and so far I’ve made enough to pay for my iPhone just out of earnings. The tough part is deciding to pull my money out now or to let it ride for the long haul. This little chart, What if I had bought Apple stock instead? would suggest I should let it ride.

The Bad Review Revue

The Bad Review Revue

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn’t so much provide brainless enjoyment as it pummels the viewer into submission. ‘Shell-shocked’ is a reasonable description of the experience.” — James Berardinelli, ReelViews

The Expendables 3: “You need ‘The Expendables 3′ like you need a kick in the crotch, and while this running-on-fumes sequel may not be quite as painful a thing to experience, it will waste considerably more of your time.” — Justin Chang, Variety

Let’s Be Cops: “It’s just. awful. for most of its run time, content to squirm and squeal instead of explode with absurdities.” — Brian Orndorf, Blu-ray.com

Into The Storm: “Don’t get me wrong, I’m as willing to check my brain at the door and sumbit to an idiotic late-summer spectacle as the next person. But this funnel-cloud fiasco tries to suck up everything in its path, and just winds up sucking.” — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

Planes: Fire and Rescue: “This Disney cartoon is running on empty.” — Geoffrey Macnab, Independent

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The Kyoto Misconception

The feature image above shows me in front of the Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Temple in Kyoto Japan, 1993. Kyoto’s beauty and rich history stuck with me all these years since. I can easily see how visiting such a place dramatically changes your opinion.

On August 6 and 9, 1945 the United States bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki with the most powerful weapon the world had ever seen. It turns out, Kyoto was almost sealed to the same fate but was saved (at least partially) by someone’s personal experience.

Kyoto was spared because of a personal intervention: the US Secretary of War, Henry L. Stimson, did not think it should be bombed. This story has been told many times, often as an example of how thin a line there is between life and death, mercy and destruction. But there’s an angle to this story that I think has gone overlooked: how the debate about targeting Kyoto led President Truman to a crucial misunderstanding about the nature of the atomic bomb.

Fascinating and thought-provoking read: The Kyoto Misconception.

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First-Person Hyperlapse Videos

At this year’s SIGGRAPH conference, Microsoft Research presented their First-Person Hyperlapse Videos. These videos are compiled of rendered hybrid frames from shaky head-cam footage turned into amazing time-lapse videos that flow smoothly. The dramatic improvement between the before and after is astounding.

We present a method for converting first-person videos, for example, captured with a helmet camera during activities such as rock climbing or bicycling, into hyperlapse videos: time-lapse videos with a smoothly moving camera.

They say they are working hard on making their Hyperlapse algorithm available as a Windows app.

Awesome.

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Ok Cupid Is Not Facebook

In a blog post published yesterday, OkCupid revealed it’s been lying to some of its users just to see how manipulating their experience could make the site better at matchmaking.

The public’s reaction to OK Cupid’s admission of the kind of A/B testing that Facebook caught hell for has been much more muted. It turns out, treating your users like guinea pigs is ok as long as people already like your website (nobody really likes Facebook — they’re just trapped by the network effect).

So what exactly did they do? From the blog post:

The ultimate question at OkCupid is, does this thing even work? By all our internal measures, the “match percentage” we calculate for users is very good at predicting relationships. It correlates with message success, conversation length, whether people actually exchange contact information, and so on. But in the back of our minds, there’s always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to? Like how Jay-Z still sells albums?

To test this, we took pairs of bad matches (actual 30% match) and told them they were exceptionally good for each other (displaying a 90% match.)† Not surprisingly, the users sent more first messages when we said they were compatible. After all, that’s what the site teaches you to do.

† Once the experiment was concluded, the users were notified of the correct match percentage.

The Bad Review Revue

The Bad Review Revue

Rage: “If you are going to make a B-grade exploitation piece you need to go for excess and insanity. Tokarev commits the ultimate movie sin: it makes a Nicolas Cage revenge thriller simply boring.” — Richard Haridy, Quickflix

A Long Way Down: “Four characters meet while planning to commit suicide and decide to annoy one another instead in this tacky Nick Hornby adaptation.” — Peter Debruge, Variety

Transformers: Age of Extinction: “Preferable to syphilis.” — Matt Brunson, Creative Loafing

Tammy: “Here, the jokes hit with the accuracy of bullets in a Michael Bay movie.” — Dann Gire, Daily Herald (IL)

Deliver Us from Evil: “A pretty routine and occasionally silly demonic-possession flick, which distinguishes itself by making us wait so long for the exorcism that heads may be spinning in the audience as well.” — Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

Earth to Echo: “It does not reveal too much to say that road leads to something otherworldly, and that the something otherworldly is kind of cute. But considering the whole story rests on it, it’s also not all that much to phone home about.” — Carla Meyer, Sacramento Bee

Think Like a Man Too: “You want eye-rolling moments? This movie will detach your corneas.” — Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com

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Words Men and Women Recognize

It turns out gender matters in our ability to recognize certain types of words. I found it rang true for me; what the heck is “taffeta”? Before today, I probably wouldn’t even have identified as a real word.

The Center for Reading Research (a research group connected to the Department of Experimental Psychology of Ghent University) believes that to figure out how our brains are wired when it comes to reading, one must first look at our ability to identify real words. One result of their experiment is a list of words with the strongest identification disparity between men and women:

We listed the words with the biggest recognition gap between gender below, along with numbers in parenthesis showing the percentage of men who knew the word followed by the percentage of women.

Here are the words that men were most likely to recognize over women:

codec (88, 48)
solenoid (87, 54)
golem (89, 56)
mach (93, 63)
humvee (88, 58)
claymore (87, 58)
scimitar (86, 58)
kevlar (93, 65)
paladin (93, 66)
bolshevism (85, 60)
biped (86, 61)
dreadnought (90, 66)

Here are the words women are most likely to recognize over men:
taffeta (48, 87)
tresses (61, 93)
bottlebrush (58, 89)
flouncy (55, 86)
mascarpone (60, 90)
decoupage (56, 86)
progesterone (63, 92)
wisteria (61, 89)
taupe (66, 93)
flouncing (67, 94)
peony (70, 96)
bodice (71, 96)

The male words tend to center on transportation, weapons, and science, while the female words mostly relate to fashion, art, and flowers.

Read more at Business Insider.

Taffeta, by the way, is a crisp, smooth, plain woven fabric made from silk or cuprammonium rayons. The word is Persian in origin and means “twisted woven.”

Which list holds the majority of the words you recognize?

(Via)

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Weekend in Waterton

A couple of weeks ago I called my parents and asked if they wanted to spend the day in Waterton — to my delight they immediately took me up on the offer and arrived only a couple hours later.

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Many great memories flooded my mind as we checked off the list of essential Waterton activities and attractions.

Photos by the Prince of Wales Hotel… check.

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Climbing up Bears Hump for photos of the Waterton town-site… check.

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Lunch at Zums followed by photos in front of Cameron Falls… check and check.

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It was a great day for it too, even though the skies threatened a storm, we only got a little drizzle of rain followed by sunshine and ice-cream cones. Ice-cream tastes better in National Parks.

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The take home message really is that it’s well worth it to take advantage of our close proximity to a world class national park — one can basically drop their camera and come away with some great photos.

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Living it up in Lethbridge, AB