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Reblogs for 20110120

  • SWAGIFY Money Boy Book­marklett

    He calls him­self “The Swag­ger”, always chillin’ with Gucci ban­dana and Louis Vit­ton belt buckle. He’s the hottest shit on the German-speaking web – MONEY BOY – 4 mil­lion views on Youtube!! swagged swagged

    And here’s what we every­one was wait­ing for – the SWAGIFY Book­marklet!!!
    Add Money Boy swag to any web­site!!!! (Drag’n’Drop this into your tool bar to use it on any web­site)


    Orig­i­nal Web­site:

    Cred­its: SWAGIFY Book­marklett by TBX, GIF help from SteveK und orig­i­nal code von Cornify

  • Honey Laun­der­ing and Authen­tic­ity
    It’s hard to find just one or two things to excerpt from Jes­sica Leeder’s great inves­ti­ga­tion into the large amount of global crime that has grown up around some­thing as sim­ple as honey. It turns out that, in response to U.S. and E.U. trade rules designed to keep antibi­otics out of the honey sup­ply, a vari­ety of mid­dle­men have turned up in parts of Asia to con­ceal the ori­gins of honey–a prac­tice that has been met with equal amount of money spent on track­ing down the honey laun­der­ers.

    Most honey comes from China, where bee­keep­ers are noto­ri­ous for keep­ing their bees healthy with antibi­otics banned in North Amer­ica because they seep into honey and con­t­a­m­i­nate it; pack­ers there learn to mask the acrid notes of poor qual­ity prod­uct by mix­ing in sugar or corn-based syrups to fake good taste.
    None of this is on the label. Rarely will a jar of honey say “Made in China.” Instead, Chi­nese honey sold in North Amer­ica is more likely to be stamped as Indone­sian, Malaysian or Tai­wanese, due to a grow­ing mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar laun­der­ing sys­tem designed to keep the end­less sup­ply of cheap and often con­t­a­m­i­nated Chi­nese honey mov­ing into the U.S., where tar­iffs have been imple­mented to staunch the flow and pro­tect its own strug­gling indus­try.

    Much later in her arti­cle, Leeder notes that since the honey laun­der­ing started in earnest about a decade ago, sev­eral coun­tries that pro­duce very lit­tle amounts of honey enjoy very large honey exports.

    Despite the arrests, the honey indus­try has been watch­ing sus­pect import num­bers climb.
    They are par­tic­u­larly incensed by three coun­tries that, ten years ago, exported zero honey to the U.S., accord­ing to Depart­ment of Com­merce data. India, Malaysia and Indone­sia are mys­te­ri­ously on pace to ship 43 mil­lion kilo­grams of honey into the U.S. by year’s end.
    “It is widely known those coun­tries have no pro­duc­tive capac­ity to jus­tify those quan­ti­ties,” said Mr. Phipps, the honey mar­kets expert. 

    The rest of the arti­cle, which is well worth read­ing in full, points out dif­fer­ent meth­ods for con­ceal­ing honey’s ori­gins, strate­gies for com­bat­ting the fraud, and a sort of legal back and forth that seems out of place for what feels like a pretty ordi­nary food item.
    In read­ing this, though, I was reminded of sig­nals sug­gest­ing that honey may not be the only food sub­ject to sim­i­lar sorts of fraud attempts. For exam­ple, in late 2009, a group of stu­dents decided to use DNA analy­sis to try to ver­ify the ori­gins of their foods–and found that 11 of the 66 foods they tested were mis­la­beled. Not sur­pris­ingly, the mis­la­beled stuff was expensive–sheep’s milk was actu­ally reg­u­lar old milk, stur­geon caviar was really Mis­sis­sippi Pad­dle­fish.
    And DNA testing–the cost of which keeps dropping–isn’t the only tool at a consumer’s dis­posal for test­ing food ori­gins and chem­i­cals. A group of Cana­dian chemists have devel­oped a lit­tle strip–sort of like a piece of paper for test­ing p.h. lev­els–to see if a food item con­tains pes­ti­cides, for exam­ple.
    As of now, most of these sto­ries about food fraud have received rel­a­tively lit­tle pub­lic atten­tion. But it’s inter­est­ing to imag­ine what would hap­pen if sto­ries about honey laun­der­ing and the like started gain­ing traction–and what sorts of reac­tions it could spur. Cer­tainly, we’d see con­sumers exam­in­ing their Florida orange juice, Cal­i­for­nia cheese and so on a lot more closely. And, of course, we’d also see food com­pa­nies respond­ing by engag­ing in a lot of des­per­ate mar­ket­ing to demon­strate the authen­tic­ity of their foods. And many more mid­dle men try­ing to con­ceal their sup­ply chains.
    At some level, I think that sce­nario is only a mat­ter of when, given that, over time, we really won’t need large gov­ern­ments to invest mil­lions of dol­lars to track down the ori­gins of our foods. With pes­ti­cide test strips, cheap DNA sequenc­ing and the like, the sce­nario above–of increas­ing fears of food fraud–may only be a mat­ter of when.

  • Horo­scoped

    Horoscoped - Do horoscopes really just all say the same thing?
    Do horo­scopes really all just say the same thing? We scraped & analysed 22,000 to see.

    See our com­pleted meta-horoscope chart and make up your own mind.

    We’ve also cre­ated a sin­gle meta-prediction out of the most com­mon words..

    How we did it

    Horoscoped - Scraping 22,000 horoscopes
    How do you gather 22,000 horo­scopes? Obvi­ously you could man­u­ally cut and paste them from one of the many online Zodiac pages. But that, we cal­cu­lated, would take about a week of solid work (84.44 hours). So we engaged the ser­vices of arch-coder Thomas Win­nigham to do a bit of hack­ing.

    Yahoo Shine kindly archive their daily pre­dic­tions in a sim­ple and very hack­able for­mat (exam­ple). Thank you! So Thomas wrote a Python script to screen-scrape 22,186 horo­scopes into a sin­gle mas­sive spread­sheet. Screen-scraping is pulling the text off a web­site after it’s dis­played. Python is a pro­gram­ming lan­guage. You can use it to write scripts that only gather the spe­cific text you want. Then you run it mul­ti­ple times so it mines an entire web­site.

    Well, it’s not quite that easy. Big sites like Yahoo have ‘rate-limiting’ on their servers. That means if you access a page too many times too quickly, it thinks you’re a hacker and deploys all kinds of anti-hacking counter-measures. Ini­tially, Thomas set his scrap­ing speed too high (once every 10th of a sec­ond) and his IP got instantly banned from Yahoo for 24 hours. After some exper­i­ment­ing (and more bans), he found that a two sec­ond delay between scrapes pre­vented the defense mech­a­nisms from kick­ing in. The script was set to run in the back­ground (while we smoked cig­ars and dis­cussed the empire). 12 hours later, we had our 22,000 horo­scopes in a sin­gle file!

    We can’t share the 9.5MB spread­sheet with you because it’s Yahoo’s copy­right. But here are the Python scripts should you feel like recre­at­ing the exper­i­ment.

    Filtering it down

    Horoscoped - Filtering 22,000 horoscopes
    So every dif­fer­ent type of horo­scope got sucked up – career, teen, love, daily overview. Who knew there were so many? It was felt, though, that career & love pre­dic­tions would have their inter­nal biases i.e. lots of men­tions of work, career, love, mar­riage etc. So we opted to just analyse the generic daily horo­scopes for each sign. A total of 4,380 (365 per star sign).

    Word Analysis Version 1

    We used an online tool called TagCrowd to find the most com­mon words. I pre­fer it to Wor­dle. You’ve got bet­ter con­trol over any ‘noise’ in the sig­nal, because you can not only fil­ter com­mon words (“and”, “for”, “is” etc) but also a spe­cial ‘sto­plist’ of words you’ve cho­sen.

    So we broke down the most com­mon 50 words to see if there are any pat­terns of unique words. This is what was revealed:

    Horoscoped - Unique words in top 50 words in predictions of each star sign

    You can see the full data in a Google spread­sheet here.

    Word Analysis 2

    It struck me that sev­eral words in the top 50 – like “some­one”, “really”, “quite” – were just qual­i­fiers and not really that reveal­ing. You’d find them in any Eng­lish word analy­sis.

    So we stripped those kinds of words out (see our sto­plist). And lo! A fresh set of unique, reveal­ing and more accu­rate words appeared in the top words per sign.

    Horoscoped - Unique words in top 50 words in predictions of each star sign

    Can I just say that I have no per­sonal inter­est in horo­scopes. I don’t know what the var­i­ous char­ac­ter­is­tics of each star sign are meant to be. So you’ll have to tell me if any of this cor­re­sponds to folk­lore.

    This was the data we used to cre­ate our meta-chart. Check out the final image. Or see all the data in this Google spread­sheet.


    One more thing though. This analy­sis appears to reveal some­thing. The bulk of the words in horo­scopes (at least 90%) are the same. That’s not a full, proper sta­tis­ti­cal analy­sis. (If you are a sta­tis­ti­cian and you want to do a proper analy­sis, please get in touch)

    The cool thing is, once you’ve iso­lated the most com­mon words, you can actu­ally write a generic, meta pre­dic­tion that would apply to all star signs, every day of the year. Here it is.

    Horoscoped - Meta-prediction made from most common words in 4,000 star sign predictions

    The Future

    As ever, I’ve laid out my whole process and all the data here:
    That way it’s all bal­anced and you can make up your own mind. Typ­i­cal Libran!

    Con­cept & research & design: David McCan­d­less
    Addi­tional design: Matt Han­cock
    Addi­tional research: Miriam Quick
    Hack­ing: Thomas Win­ning­ham
    Source: Yahoo Shine Horo­scopes
    Code & Scripts: Here and here
    Data & work­ings:

  • Richie Hawtin Inter­view – 10th Anniver­sary of DVS

    On Sat­ur­day, we bumped into the pro­lific Mr. Hawtin, a dig­i­tal DJ pio­neer and the guy who orig­i­nally paved a road for much of our work today. Iron­i­cally, Jan­u­ary 2011 is the 10-year anniver­sary of the ground break­ing announce­ment that really kicked off the dig­i­tal DJ move­ment. Final Scratch 1, co-developed by John Aqcua­viva and Richie Hawtin. We took a few min­utes to talk to Richie on cam­era, and he got into the above inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tion with Ean about the anniver­sary of DVS, what’s next for him and what’s next for the DJ world.

    Check back in with us over the com­ing days as our team con­tin­ues to com­pile video, pho­tos and data into a series of arti­cles on our favorite moments from NAMM.

  • Should You Work for Free?
    Should You Work for Free?

    Jes­sica His­che has cre­ated this lovely flow­chart that makes it eas­ier for cre­atives to decide whether they should work for free or not. As you may have guessed, the answer is “No” for most cases but there are some excep­tions to this rule. You just got to love Jessica’s hon­esty in answers like this:

    Did they promise you “expo­sure” or “a good port­fo­lio piece”?
    ➔ This is the most toxic line of bull­shit any­one will ever feed you.

    The flow­chart is com­pletely crafted in HTML / CSS and can be trans­lated using Google Trans­late. You can also down­load the JPG ver­sion or wait for the prints to come.

    Submitter of Should You Work for Free?Jes­sica His­che is a Brook­lyn based designer, illus­tra­tor and typog­ra­pher — find more of her works on

  • Korg’s Kaoss Pad Quad is a Touch­able Multi-Effects Box for Under $350

    In what is prov­ing to be a NAMM week bonanza for lovers of hard­ware effects, Korg’s Kaoss Pad Quad may be the best bang-for-the-buck. You can con­trol up to four effects simul­ta­ne­ously, all via the trade­mark KAOSS-style touch­pad, trig­ger­ing effects you want via single-button tog­gles. (In fact, this device reminds me in a good way of the superb but sadly now-defunct Entrancer KPE-1 video device, in that every­thing is neatly acces­si­ble.)

    Plug in your input from an exter­nal source or use the onboard mic input, then con­trol effects from the touch­pad with multi-color LED effects for visual feed­back. There are four basic mod­ules – looper, mod­u­la­tion, fil­ter, and delay/reverb – each with vari­a­tions, so that Korg promises 1,295 com­bi­na­tions. (That’s an utterly mean­ing­less num­ber to me, but I’ll take their word for it.)

    There’s also a “freeze” effect for each mod­ule, so you can lock its set­tings in place. Some effects:

    • Multi-mode looper with reverse and loop slic­ing.
    • Vinyl break.
    • Duck­ing com­pres­sor.
    • Auto­matic BPM. But real men and women use the onboard tap tempo instead, so pre­tend you didn’t read that.
    • Pitch shifter, grain shifter.
    • Reverb, delay, tape echo.

    All that’s miss­ing, really, is MIDI input – it’s intended as a self-contained device, and any sync will be up to its auto BPM fea­ture or tap­ping in tem­pos.

    If you’re in my house, you’re not allowed to use the fake vinyl break effect. Sorry, them’s the rules. (Keep them for the next time you need to score an MTV real­ity show.) But oth­er­wise, this looks use­ful. And at this price, with this kind of ready-to-play con­trol, the whole device looks pretty irre­sistible. Korg’s abil­ity to keep churn­ing out KAOSS stuff peo­ple love is kind of ridicu­lous.

    Kaoss Pad Quad [Korg]