Gone in Six Characters: Short URLs Considered Harmful for Cloud Services [abstract] [pdf] [more inside]
This article [pdf] explores the health risks associated with added sugar. It then examines how, if at all, sugar should be regulated, by considering tobacco regulation as a possible model. [more inside]
Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People Toby W. Rush's "Music Theory for Musicians and Normal People" covers a massive range of topics like pitch, rhythm, scales, intervals, and harmonics. The online book itself is arranged as a collection of about 50 PDFs that offer diagrams, notes, and tips for everything music theory related. [more inside]
Elementary Mechanics from a Mathematician's Viewpoint [direct link to large PDF] by Michael Spivak - notes from his eight 2004 lectures (which eventually became a book). See the quote inside to get the flavor of it. [more inside]
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
"Advertising is not well. Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
The Getty has just opened its Virtual Library, where 250 book pdfs can be read online or downloaded. Some titles of interest include Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs, Between Two Earthquakes: Cultural Property in Seismic Zones and Illuminating the Renaissance: The Triumph of Flemish Manuscript Painting in Europe. They follow the University of California Press, which released 700 books online for free yesterday, including 28 art history books.
Jorge Luis Borges called the stories of Craig Strete “shattered chains of brilliance.” Salvador Dali said, “like a new dream, his writings seizes the mind.” First published in1974 and then again in 1977, [The Bleeding Man] has its foreward written by none other than the great Virginia Hamilton who dubs him “the first American Indian to become a successful Science Fiction writer” and says that “the writing is smooth and unassuming, and yet the fabric of it is always richly textured.” The Bleeding Man and many other out-of-print titles by Strete are available in eBook format[s (PDF, PRC, ePUB)] for free. [more inside]
This Video Will Hurt
A detailed explanation of a fascinating field of science and medicine by the always interesting C.G.P. Grey.[more inside]
The book on Wood-Frame House Construction (with diagrams) is brought to you by the USDA Forest Service. Here is the full online index of USDA Agriculture Handbooks. They're public domain. [more inside]
Among tabletop RPG players and in particular among Call of Cthulhu players, Masks of Nyarlathotep is often held to be the gold standard for adventures. A sprawling mystery that begins with a murder in New York City and takes the investigators on a world-spanning chase to London, Cairo, the interior of Kenya, outback Australia and Shanghai, trying to prevent the opening of the Great Gate and the return of the elder gods who will end the world, it does not lack for ambition. Created by Larry DiTillio with editorial assistance from the late Lynn Willis, Masks is rated #1 by a wide margin of the 4,254 adventures reviewed on RPG.net. The Call of Cthulhu website Yog-sothoth.com, to celebrate the site's fifteenth anniversary, is making available a pdf of the Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion: 570 pages of behind-the-scenes info for running the campaign. [more inside]
Throughout human history and across the globe, whether as intimate artifacts of interpersonal relations or state-level monumental works, textiles have been imbued with political importance. Textiles can communicate and construct status, ethnicity, gender, power, taste, and wealth, and have functioned at the nexus of artistic, economic, and political achievement in human culture. As trade goods, creative medium, and social artifact, textiles have been instrumental in generating, supporting, and challenging political power.The Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium (2012) will explore the crossroads of Textiles & Politics.
The twelve tales are written. (PDF) But words are only half the story – now Neil wants your help bringing them to life. The next step is to illustrate them. [more inside]
Storyboard was born of my insane desire to consume videos without actually having to watch them. Normally that would involve putting the TV on in the background and ignoring the video while listening to the audio, but what about the reverse? All visual without the audio. On my kindle. via waxy [more inside]
First noticed on tumblr but now available to all, Alex Clayden's paper "Same-Sex Desire in Pharaonic Egypt" which, among other things, tells you about the connection between lettuce and semen and the Ancient Egyptian for "You have a nice ass."
We are delighted to present Scrabble enthusiasts everywhere with The Scrabble Player's Handbook, a definitive and free ebook on how to play Scrabble, written by a dozen of the best tournament players in the world. All twelve authors have competed in past World Scrabble Championships and have spent over a year combining their knowledge into this one free Scrabble resource. Definitive. Accessible. Free. What more do you need to know? [Website links to a 6.6 Mb PDF.]
An advanced and well-orchestrated computer spy operation that targeted diplomats, governments and research institutions for at least five years has been uncovered by security researchers in Russia.
The highly targeted campaign, which focuses primarily on victims in Eastern Europe and Central Asia based on existing data, is still live, harvesting documents and data from computers, smartphones and removable storage devices, such as USB sticks, according to Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based antivirus firm that uncovered the campaign. Kaspersky has dubbed the operation “Red October.”[more inside]
Broadsided Press publishes a new, printable PDF featuring an original poetry & visual art collaboration every month; they've beeing doing it since 2005. You can even become a vector for this distributed, "serendipitous" press.
... a new EPUB export feature has been enabled on English Wikipedia. You can use it to collate your personal collection of Wikipedia articles and generate free ebooks. These can be read on a broad range of devices, like mobile phones, tablets and e-ink based e-book readers. ... Collections can be exported in a variety of formats like PDF, EPUB, or OpenOffice.
Essayist and cartoonist Tim Kreider is no stranger to film criticism ( previously) but his thoughtful, surprising, detailed analysis of Lynch's The Straight Story and Spielberg/Kubrick's AI deserve special attention.
LBJ v. Coke Stevenson: Lawyering for Control of the Disputed Texas Democratic Party Senatorial Primary Election of 1948
This article explores the history, from the lawyers' perspective [PDF; 41 pages], of a high-profile litigation of sixty years ago, the whirlwind of state and federal litigation that attended the 1948 runoff election battle between Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson and former Texas governor Coke Stevenson for the Texas Democratic Party nomination for the office of United States Senator. Johnson famously won this election by 87 votes [...] [more inside]
Free online graph paper generators: variations of squares, triangle, rhombus, and hexagonal, circular and polar, for drawing, gaming, writing, note-taking and much more. Blank Sheet Music (Flash) for all arrangements (PDF). Create and edit your own grids, probability and logarithmic graphs, petri-dish inserts and storyboards. Also, multilingual monthly and yearly calendars. Plus, more than you ever wanted to know about ISO paper dimensions and printable paper models of polyhedra. Prev-ious-ly.
The year was 1945. Two earthshaking events took place: the successful test at Alamogordo and the building of the first electronic computer. Their combined impact was to modify qualitatively the nature of global interactions between Russia and the West. No less perturbative were the changes wrought in all of academic research and in applied science. On a less grand scale these events brought about a [renaissance] of a mathematical technique known to the old guard as statistical sampling; in its new surroundings and owing to its nature, there was no denying its new name of the Monte Carlo method (PDF). -N. MetropolisConceptually talked about on MeFi previously, some basic Monte Carlo methods include the Inverse Transform Method (PDF) mentioned in the quoted paper, Acceptance-Rejection Sampling (PDFs 1,2), and integration with and without importance sampling (PDF).
An "Exciting Guide to Probability Distributions" from the University of Oxford: part 1, part 2. (Two links to PDFs)
Sciweavers' free online productivity tools include an international virtual keyboard, OCR, image format conversion, and just about every manner of PDF manipulation imaginable.
This is by far the coolest collection of TV pilots, pitches, scripts, and supplementary documents I have ever seen. [more inside]
John Park Finley, American meteorologist, wrote the first known book on tornadoes (Tornadoes, 1887). Though some of his "safety" guidelines for surviving a tornado have since been refuted as dangerous (seek shelter on the side of a house facing an oncoming tornado!), the book remains a seminal work in tornado research. [more inside]
Interested in doing a small favour to the environment? In raising awareness about planetary issues? In supporting an international environmental organization? Next time you’re going to share a document, save it as a WWF. [more inside]
Planescape Torment (wikipedia) is widely regarded (1, 2, 3, 4) as one of the best story-driven CRPGS ever crafted, cliche amnesiac-protagonist notwithstanding. Here's a "Vision Statement" design document from when it was known as Last Rites. (2.4MB PDF, Spoilers OBVIOUSLY)
Snippets of poetry from the Imperium; a sample folk tale from the Oral History; brief biographies of over a dozen Duncan Idahos; two differing approaches to Paul Muad'Dib himself and to his son Leto II; Fremen recipes; Fremen history; secrets of the Bene Gesserit; the songs of Gurney Halleck -- these are just some of the treasures found when an earthmover fell into the God Emperor's no-room at Dar-es-Balat. Out of print for more than two decades, disavowed by Frank Herbert's estate, and highly sought-after by fans, the legendary Dune Encyclopedia is now available online as a fully illustrated and searchable PDF [direct link]. [more inside]
Alex Cox, director of Repo Man and Sid and Nancy, and one-time presenter of Moviedrome, which was a cult movie education for an entire generation of British people, has posted a ton of free stuff on his site: 10000 ways to die (pdf) - his book on Spaghetti Westerns, the Moviedrome guide parts 1 and 2 (pdf), a video defence of Walker (quicktime), and much much more.
Mendeley is a cross-platform research management tool which features article databasing, PDF annotation, online backup, private, shared and public collections, metadata lookup on Google Scholar, direct exporting of multiple citation styles to Word, OpenOffice and BibTex, the ability to add documents directly from a web browser, and social networking with other members in your field of study. Like Zotero (previously), but out of the browser and with note-taking abilities. For Windows, Mac and Linux.
A Practical Guide to Musical Composition and Principles of Counterpoint - texts by composer Alan Belkin (quite a bit more to be found on his site).
"Back in 1993 I was tutoring my sister in algebra. Her quizzes and tests were always made of word problems with a running storyline involving many recurring places and characters. I tied the fate of the main characters to how well she did on the previous quiz, so a good performance brought them good fortune. Unfortunately, one test she completely bombed, and, well, this is a transcription of the quiz she got next." [more inside]
A printable, foldable, playable, toy a day. PDFs of little figures to print out and fold. Part of the joy is how they're all shaped the same. Among my favorites: all of KISS, Mr. Natural, Gorbachev, Darth Vader, and yesterday's reversible Superman/Clark Kent. There is also a template so you can make your own.
The TSA has accidentally posted their SOP online. Not having learned proper redaction techniques after dozens of other companies and government agencies made the same mistake, the TSA posted their complete "Screening Management Standard Operating Procedures" manual online in PDF format. [more inside]
The Ride Journal is a lovely mag by/about/for cyclists of all types: bmxers, fixed gear riders, road racers, tricyclists, casual riders... you name it! It's a beautiful publication--great photography, nice paper, good personal stories. However, it's a print mag. As their 3rd issue is being mailed out, they've made their first avaiable for download as a 26MB PDF.
"Here we present ten of the finalists from Nikon’s 35th Annual Small World Photomicrography Competition, which recognizes photographs shot through a microscope."
The New Liberal Arts book is out. 47 pages of free pdf about things the various authors think will help prepare you for modern life. Earlier discussion about the planning phase of the book.
2009 U.S. government wall calendar pdfs! We already hit the counterterrorism calendar, so let's look at the wall calendar pdfs for Biosecurity for Birds, Invasive Plants, Invasive Species, and Private Lands. We've got funky green and blue monochrome. There's a brief one from the CDC and one that overdoes it a tad from NOAA. Finally, one from the International Space Station and my favorite, the Overseas Security Advisory Council's A-OK Kids Safety Calendar (2.6 megs). A preview of March's drawing by 3rd grader Roxane Kokka with someone impaled on a tree will make sure you always ware your seat belt.
Elves Under Hoof (direct link to a zipped file of four PDFs) is a free print-and-play solitaire game from Dan Verssen. From the rules: Victory: You win when the last elf is dead. You achieve a Prancing Victory if you have 5 or more surviving reindeer. You get a Spoiled Meat Victory if you have 2 or less surviving reindeer. You lose if all your reindeer are killed and left to rot in the snow. It is included, naturally, in the Games involving Elf Death list at BoardGameGeek.
The Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at the United States Military Academy, West Point, has published another report in their analysis of captured al-Qa'ida documents: Bombers, Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al‐Qa`ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq [pdf] (note to UK readers). [more inside]
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