A really interesting article from Wired about how “phantom” traffic jams, which are without any real cause, form. One of the more amazing parts of the article is how mathematicians use preexisting formulas to solve traffic problems:
The mathematics of such traffic jams are strikingly similar to the equations that describe detonation waves produced by explosions, said Aslan Kasimov, a lecturer in MIT’s Department of Mathematics. Realizing this allowed the reseachers to solve traffic jam equations that were first theorized in the 1950s. The MIT researchers even came up with a name for this kind of gridlock - “jamiton.” It’s a riff on “soliton,” a term used in math and physics to desribe a self-sustaining wave that maintains its shape while moving.
There is no widely-recognized consensus in the industry about what subset of HTML is appropriate for use in e-mail for interoperability.
Uh, what about, you know, the same HTML standards used in browsers and just about every other email client? And if you don’t want to do that, can you really argue that simple things like background images should be left out of a popular email program? It really boggles my mind how much Microsoft just doesn’t get it–instead of listening to developers’ gripes about creating HTML emails for Outlook, they spend most of blog post talking about how you can integrate charts into your email. Just because you want to write emails with Word’s engine doesn’t mean you have to completely ignore HTML standards.
Included in the article is a video of Apollo 17’s lunar module taking off from the surface of the moon (embedded below). This is the only footage ever recorded of a LM leaving the lunar surface, and it is also the last footage ever recorded on the moon.
To record the video, they used a camera on the lunar rover, which was positioned a fair distance away. One reason previous attempts to record the lift-off failed was the positioning of the camera–if it was too close, it was knocked over by the power of the rockets.
(Note: I uploaded the video to Viddler, so I could embed it here; as far as I know, all NASA videos and images are available for public use, so I shouldn’t be violating any copyright by posting this here.)
A Mac OS X tool for mounting your Dreamhost account on your computer, created for DreamHost’s API Contest (winners were announced today). I haven’t had a chance to give this a whirl yet, but it sounds pretty promising.
ObjectiveResource is an Objective-C port of Ruby on Rails’ ActiveResource. It provides a way to serialize objects to and from Rails’ standard RESTful web-services (via XML or JSON) and handles much of the complexity involved with invoking web-services of any language from the iPhone.
I’ve been considering trying out some iPhone development (even though I don’t yet own one), and this seems like a really slick way to interface with an existing Rails application.
I recently checked out Tumblr again and was really impressed by some of the updates they’ve done since the last time I used the application, so, naturally, I’m “tumbling” again. It’s amazing how easy they’ve made it to post various types of media, and it’s a lot of fun too. I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to deal with having two outlets to post links, but that’s something I’ll hopefully try to figure out in the next few weeks.
For a recent project, I decided to try out Sass, a “meta-language on top of CSS,” which allows to do all sorts of neat things like use variables, do math, and have mixins. The only problem: since you’re not writing CSS, it has to be compiled whenever you want to view your page, which can be pretty annoying if you’re just working on a static template (which I was).
At first, I was using the standard command: sass input.sass output.css, but that became too tiresome, and I was struck with an idea–what if I just created a server solely for serving the compiled CSS file? Using Sinatra, I was able to make a dead easy way to use Sass while working on a static template. Follow along to see how you can do this yourself.
First, make sure you’ve got the haml and sinatra gems installed:
gem install haml sinatra
Now, in your development directory, create a file called app.rb and paste the following code:
get '/style.css' do
headers 'Content-Type' => 'text/css; charset=utf-8'
Now, create a views/ directory in that same folder, and drop a style.sass file in there. This is where you’ll be writing your Sass. Now, you need to start up your Sinatra server, and to do that, just run the following command:
Now, if you go to http://localhost:4567/style.css, you’ll see your compiled CSS, and every time you update your Sass file, the code is recompiled. Just change the CSS <link> tag in your HTML template to point to the style.css file, and you’re ready to go!
Shaun Inman released his newest project, Fever, today, a self-hosted RSS reader that aims to be “a cure for the common feed reader.” I haven’t tried it out myself yet, but it certainly looks intriguing, and if the quality of Mint is any indicator, Fever is sure to be awesome as well.