I’m an Analysis Nerd

One of the things I really love about baseball is how far back the statistical record goes, and how large of a sample size exists to test hypotheses for validity. In this 538 article, Walt Hickey takes a look into the occurrence of the different visual elements in Bob Ross’s paintings on his PBS show. It’s fascinating to see it broken down like this, and the probability of different elements appearing in the same painting is equally interesting.

I also learned something interesting that I never noticed before. “[H]is cabins never had chimneys on them … because chimneys represented people, and he didn’t want any sign of a person in his paintings.”

Of course, there’s examples of cabins with lights on, and those with chimneys, but they’re in the minority. I find it very interesting that he liked the added depth of human-built structures, but didn’t want their direct presence felt in the scene. Maybe it’s about the structures being abandoned and allowing nature to overtake the surroundings and heal.

I’m not trained in art interpretation, so I’m in a wild supposition mode. However, it seems like a sound hypothesis on which to expand. To the internets for research!

I’m Inextricably Afraid of Insects and Arachnids

I’m not allergic to the stings of bees, but they petrify me. I guess my mother’s fear carried over to me as I was growing up, so I never had a chance. I understand the size difference between the insect and myself, and that the worst that’s going to happen is I have an itchy bump on my body for a few days…

I also know that they don’t attack unless provoked. I’m not sure why I can’t get over it. I’m not going to sign up for some aversion therapy and stick my arm in a box full of bees either. I accept this as a downfall in my makeup, and I live with it. Besides, it’s pretty funny when I go darting off to the side because a bee or a housefly buzzed past me, though, so I’ll keep it around as comedic relief for my friends.

Imagine, if you will, the sheer amount of discomfort I had looking at this photoset on The Atlantic.

She Ping, a 34 year-old beekeeper, covered with a swarm of bees on a small hill in southwest China's Chongqing municipality on April 9, 2014. Ping released more than 460,000 bees, using queen bees to attract them to his body, and made himself a suit of bees that weighed 45.65kg (100 pounds) within 40 minutes. (AFP/Getty Images)

She Ping, a 34 year-old beekeeper, covered with a swarm of bees on a small hill in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality on April 9, 2014. Ping released more than 460,000 bees, using queen bees to attract them to his body, and made himself a suit of bees that weighed 45.65kg (100 pounds) within 40 minutes. (AFP/Getty Images)

Nope.

Suck Shit, Social Media ‘Experts’

With this news announcement, Facebook has essentially banned the terrible practice of exploiting likes and shares to increase viewership.

The way it works now — which is equally shitty — is that Facebook metes out posts to people based upon how many likes and shares it gets per view. The thinking behind it was that people like and friend many entities. This way, only “important” content is sent out to large swathes of consumers.

What’s really happening is Facebook is controlling the dissemination of information in order to coerce content creators into buying views. On any post you make, there’s a promote link below it. Hit it and check out what it says:

Promote an Important Post Total: $6.99

Now you can promote this post to move it higher in friends’ news feeds and help them notice it. Any post that you pay to promote will be marked as Sponsored · Terms Apply

So instead of it organically spreading, or just sharing it freely among your followers, they want you to pay for your not-important post to become important.

Big corporations don’t like the idea of paying to get their posts out to all the people that have hit the like button on their page. What they do, is hire someone as a “social media expert” to game the system. They’ll create terrible content that won’t circulate organically, and use the likes and shares as a means of voting.

Hypothetical situation:
Oreo is contemplating a limited run of a new flavor. They’ll put up a picture of an Oreo cookie, with two different colored fillings on it. Share if you want blueberry! Like if you want cranberry!

The post goes out to a percentage of people that have liked the Oreo page. They’re the ones that like and comment the most out of the group. If they interact with it well, the post is then sent to more followers. By encouraging the likes and shares, the post gains importance faster.

Rather than using a poll, which is apt in this scenario, they play the unsuspecting users to interact on false pretense. It’s a shitty way to get around a shitty Facebook implementation, and I’m not sad to see it go. I’m curious how these “experts” will get around this, or if it will even be enforced.

I’m guessing the first step will be using Instagram, Vine, and Twitter to promote the same tactics until they’re outlawed there. Retweet if you want blueberry! Favorite if you want cranberry! Comment on Facebook for a different flavor!

It’s all super shady, and I want it to go away as quickly as possible.

Custom Tiles for the Windows 8 Start Menu

I upgraded to Windows 8 over the weekend, and I’m quite enjoying the large tiles and groups on the new Start screen. I’m seeing rumors that in 8.2 the traditional Start Menu is returning, so that’s sort of a bummer, but I’ve been working on some custom tiles, using OlbyTile, and wanted to share my progress.

current

Here’s my current Start screen, with the work programs finished.

Normally, Windows takes the default application icon, centers it, and picks a color from it to fill the space around it.I wanted the icons to be full bleed, without a text label, so I needed the icons to be meaningful to me, without being too text-heavy. I went with Maven Pro, a very stylized, thin font for the icons, utilizing the same convention the CS icons use — when a program has two words in it, we use a capital letter for the first word, and lowercase for the second — and I’m quite happy with how they came out.

new-tile

 

My new icon is on the left, and the default means by which Windows creates application tiles is on the right. It’s a lot cleaner now, and we don’t have the long ass text under the icon. That distraction was the major impetus, and it’s been alleviated with my new tiles.

Here’s all the work ones, at their native resolution.

Obly Tiles

From top left to bottom right: Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, PhpStorm, FileZilla, Beyond Compare, Klok, and Sublime Text

I’ve deviated from the convention in two cases, where I use Klok as the full title, and phpS for phpStorm. I’ve drawn inspiration for the colors from the original icons, and shaped them into minimal gradients.

It’s harder now that I’ve moved onto my pinned games. Thus far I have only completed one for SimCity, and I’m relatively happy with it. I’m unsure if I’m going to stick with this one, or go for a more consistent minimal look.

SimCity

This uses the Game’s logo and a screenshot of one of my cities.

 

In this one, I've reused my FileZilla icon with Sc for SimCity.

In this one, I’ve reused my FileZilla icon with Sc for SimCity.

Edit: Whelp, I’ve finished up my games section with tiles. I decided to go the route with screenshots and the game’s logo, to make them pop a little more. It gives each game a little more personality and conveys what you’re getting into when you hit the tile. Here’s how my Start screen looks now:

start screen

 

President Bush certainly does use the Google.

President George  W. Bush was so quotable, and one of my favorites was his answer to a question asking if he’s ever Googled anyone.

Occasionally. One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps. It’s very interesting to see that. I forgot the name of the program, but you get the satellite and you can — like, I kind of like to look at the ranch on Google, reminds me of where I want to be sometimes.

It’s a little curious that he daydreamed about being at his ranch, since he spent more than a year of his presidency there. He also apparently draws inspiration for his paintings from the Google as well. There’s a fantastic piece by Marina Galperina outlining the images he used.

Check out this softball interview he did with his daughter, Jenna. The best part is how Matt Lauer is so amazed by it, and finds it so enlightening. Gag me. The stupid banter ‘news’ people spout is tiresome. My favorite quote is about how he hopes the people he’s painted take the portraits “in the spirit in which these were painted in. That was the spirit of friendship and that I admire them as leaders and was willing to give it a shot in terms of getting people to see how I felt about them.”

Yeah, I cared so much about you, I just used the first picture I found on the Google. Not one of the multitude in the archives from the White House photographer that followed me around for eight years, just the first ones that popped up.

Mission accomplished, Mr. President.