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]