Saturday, September 29, 2012

A cool new Labs feature on Google Maps

If you would like to be able to click on Google Maps and get exact point-to-point (-to-point-to-point …) distances, do the following.

Go to In the left column, way down at the bottom, click the link labeled "Maps Labs." You'll get a pop-up. Click the Enable button next to "Distance Measurement Tool." At the bottom of the pop-up, click Save. (screenshot)

You'll now see a tiny ruler icon, just to the left of the distance scale, in the lower left corner of the map. When you want to determine a distance, click that. Then click once on the map at your starting point. Click a second time for your end point (as the crow flies, maybe), or click a series of places, wherever you'd have to turn a corner, say. (screenshot)

Click the little ruler icon again to make the distance tool stop. Click the Maps Labs feature again if you want to disable it.

Happy map nerding!

I really like the Delete Last Point feature, which can be clicked repeatedly, if you'd like to backtrack.

I haven't yet remembered to get out my 100-foot tape measure to see how accurate this tool is, but some day, when it's dry . . .

Cool? Or creepy?

My first phone video!

Shot at JFK Terminal 5, baggage claim area, last night.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A few Gmail tips

Maybe you already knew these. I didn't know most of them until I did one by accident.

  • Open a message for reading in a new tab: Hold Ctrl while clicking the message
  • Open a message for reading in a new window: Hold Shift while clicking the message
  • Compose a new message in a new tab: Hold Ctrl while clicking the the Compose button
  • Compose a new message in a new window: Hold Shift while clicking the the Compose button

Substitute Cmd for Ctrl if you're a Mac person, of course.

If you're a real mouse hater keyboard fan, such that you're familiar with what j, k, and c do while you're in Gmail, you'll be happy to know that Shift-c, Ctrl-c, and Shift-Enter behave as you would expect. Sadly, Ctrl-Enter does not. But I'll reach for a mouse to get a clean read like this:

Gmail message in a new tab
Gmail message opened in a new tab [ + ]

Remember that Microsoft password thing I was griping about ...

... last month?

Dan Goodin at Ars Techica has an article on this policy, which was until recently a "secret policy." (You'll recall I thought silently dropping the excess characters was reasonable, but I am persuaded that it's not such a good idea. So, if you're still using Hotmail, for example, and you thought your super-long password or passphrase was helping to keep you secure, you might want to rethink.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

That's clown addition, bro

Record-keeping is hard!

Ah, I'm sure it's fixed by now. Congratulations on breaking Mel Ott's record, Bryce.

(title: cf.)

Meanwhile, in ®ealAmeri©a ...

... wingnuts are getting email.

Although Obama promised the planet would begin to heal the moment he took office, he and the Al Gore crowd continue to maintain that we are all destined for a hot, fiery death if we don’t change our ways and address our warming planet.

Apparently he didn’t possess the magic powers he thought he did—because Obama continues to claim that global warming is real and must be addressed immediately, and as usual, without the input of Congress. What happened? Wasn’t the threat supposed to end the moment he was inaugurated?

Man, that's some real crazyhate being catered to there. Or preyed upon. One of those.

I'll give them this: at least their spamming and tracking service is honest, as a hover over this indicates.

(h/t: KK, via email)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Deep Thought

What came first, JavaScript's truthy or Colbert's truthiness?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy FSF's birthday!

No, not that one. This one:

“I don't want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.”

Hey, whaddya know? A worthwhile Facebook ad!

Link from the above screenshot leads here on Facebook, with the aim of encouraging you to visit

Bonus: free poster, "7 Ways to Beat the Ballot Bandits."

The Bucolic Life

And the poor bastard STILL can't get anything other than dial-up.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

2012 Ig Nobel prizes announced

A fine quick wrap-up from John Timmer at Ars is a good place to start.

The categories of acoustics and literature are two of my favorites.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Line of the Day: 2012-09-20

From an email announcing the acquisition of Company A by Company B, wherein Company B seeks to reassure customers of Company A that they're not going to be evil:

Just think of us as your mom’s new husband.

Not saying this is bad. (I actually think it's good.) Just gave me a bit of a start, is all.

Take it away, Flogging Molly ...

(alt. video link)

[Added} Just saw a cell service provider's commercial, advertising their rates as "stupid cheap."

There's CYA and then there's just ridiculously paranoid CYA

I mean, seriously. How hard is it to automate management of an email subscriber list? And really, what would be the worst thing if you allowed an extra email to go to me after I'd clicked the Unsubscribe link? I promise not to sue, if you all promise never to show me another one of these dumb-ass disclaimers.

Take pwnership of your Twitter oresence!

We get email ...

A prompted account sounds like a situation where some eager young person on Puppy Uppers® stands over your shoulder, saying, "Haha, that was hilarious! Wasn't it? Wasn't it? That's great that you follow that guy! You should look for more people like that to follow! Retweet that! Reply to it! Favorite it! Did you follow the link in the tweet? Are you going to? You should! Do you want help building a list of people like that? Building lists is fun!"

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Line of the Day: 2012-09-19

WillardWait, what?

Romney Apologizes To Nation's 150 Million 'Starving, Filthy Beggars'


“I know just how hard it must be to get through a miserable, destitute life that is rife with crying babies whose shrieks consistently disrupt the affluent members of society who actually contribute something to this world,” said the GOP candidate, adding that he wanted to make amends for his recent statements and reach out to what he called the country’s “snaggle-toothed street people” and “hell-spawned savages.” “I know it can be challenging to wake each morning, covered in your own feces and refuse, and get back out there on the streets to beg for spare change and food scraps, always one step from dying right there in an alley.”

“I know your challenges, and I am ready to fight for you,” he added

Ok, yeah.

(h/t: Mark Kleiman)

I don't always endorse candidates, but when I do, WINGNUTS ARE FURIOUS

The stupid, it burns.


Take it, Mitt. Please.

Article link, if you must.

Elitists, then and now

Cartoon by Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer. More here.

(h/t: Trish K.)

Hey, Mitt Romney: we're cartographers and we're here to help!

The Obama campaign has a request:

We think this may be a useful guide:

(pic. sources: Jack, via email | "Top Images for #Romneyshambles")

Why do all my Facebook friends hate America so much?

screenshot of 'Latest in my network' Facebook widget from a page on

... particularly the NYT-reading ones.

Article links, if you haven't already read them:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Today's tale of the perils of an excessive sense of self-importance

Stephen A. Smith Thought An Article About Him In The Onion Was Real


It's almost enough to make me forget about Taylor Marsh. Almost.

[Update] I say again, you should always read the Comments, just on the chance that M. Bouffant has weighed in.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Math is hard

I'm a Pepper, we're a Pepper, ...

... wouldn't you like to be a Pepper, too?

Wonder if it's still okay to order one in Chik-Fil-A.

And don't miss MB's source for full outrage coverage.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Deep thought

How much longer will it be before some kid comes up to you and says, "What's that Save icon supposed to be?"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Local news, global perspective

Jack says, via email:

This is entertaining ...

... as long as you don't read the comments.

So! I will save you a trip to the swamp of YouTube.

(alt. video link)

If you're feeling like, eh, I see where this is going, hang in there. It gets better as it goes along.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Shadow thought

Don't you love when an idle conjecture flashes through your mind, and it turns out to be correct?

Maybe the idea was spurred by having fruit on the brain? Or am I completely off tropic?

Diaeresis (geezer moment?)

I think I am just young enough that the word cooperate spelled with an umlaut above the second O -- coöperate -- looks archaic. (I was re-reading an old favorite last night, which was published in the early 1960s.)

On the other hand, acting on a suggestion by Pierre Igot, I can confirm that the New Yorker still spells it that way,[1] and I have never noticed.  [Added: Thanks to MB in Comments, see this, especially. And then you will be able to chortle at my blunder in the first sentence of this post.]

..  ..  ..

[1] Except, it appears, on blogs, for obvious reasons.[2]

[2] ALT-0246, if you're interested. If you're writing markup text, ö also wörks.

..  ..  ..

P.S. I was going to spell the post title diæresis, but I thought that would be going a little far.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Pretty good company

A note at the end of a report on last night's game:

Derek Jeter went 3 for 5 and has 182 hits, the most for a shortstop at age 38. Honus Wagner had 181 in 1912 at 38 and Luke Appling had 180 in 1946 at age 39.

Pretty good catch last night, too. For an old man.

A nice embedded video would have appeared here,
if the suits at weren't so greedy for your eyeballs.

(alt. video link)

(previously previously) ↑   
Eh, don't click that.
You'll probably have to
watch a 30-second ad just
to see a 10-second clip.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Nom nom nom!

Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States goes to chicken, pigs, cows and other animals that people eat, yet producers of meat and poultry are not required to report how they use the drugs — which ones, on what types of animal, and in what quantities.

But surely meat producers will be responsible in this usage, and so increased resistance among many strains of bacteria won't be a problem, right?

Uh, yeah. Something like that.

(pic. source | pic. source)

The new GOP curb-stomping?

Artist: Anne C. Savage. Originally published on Eclectablog, where you can get a much higher res version for yourself!

Also on that post, Anne is quoted as saying:

Here is a much better quality version of the graphic I created on the GOP’s attack on women. Feel free to use it. A link back to my Facebook page or would be greatly appreciated. Share. Print. Vote.

(h/t: Rexi44)

Good review ...

... of a posthumous Hitchens book, by Christopher Buckley.

I first read the title as Morality. (The correct title may be obtained by adding a ✝.)

And then there is this picture of Hitchens and his wife, Carol Blue, which everyone on Tumblr seems to have reblogged recently, and why not?

Some of the rebloggers credit the above to Annie Leibovitz, which seems right, especially if you think about that Rolling Stone cover of John and Yoko.