Archive for the random Category

Posted in random on September 19, 2008 by Philonous
  • beat
  • peat
  • boats
  • been
  • pears
  • boast
  • been
  • moats

These are all words for which removing any one letter always produces another word. Someone asked me for a longer one. Any ideas?


Posted in random on September 18, 2008 by Philonous

That’s right. Not Dvořák. Dvorak. If, like me, you grew up a philistine, you’ll probably share with me the experience of discovering that there was a Czech composer called Antonín Dvořák having already seen the option in Windows 3.1 to switch to a Dvorak keyboard layout. Curious, thought I, that he was named after a keyboard layout that I assumed was named, like qwerty, by taking at random a line on the keyboard and heading right.

I turns out that the keyboard layout was named after a distant relative, one August Dvorak, a professor of education and an educational psychologist at the University of Washington, Seattle. The original qwerty keyboard layout was designed in the 1860s having been decided upon by the maker of the first commercially sucessful typewriter. The layout was designed to try, as far as possible, to eliminate typewriter jams rather than for ergonomic purposes. To do this, the keyboard layout tries as far as possible to alternate between the left and right hand, although typing this sentence, I wonder how successfull it was.

The advent of the electric typewriter in the 1930s completely eliminated the need for a layout that eliminated jamming. Moreover, the increased speeds that were now possible started to reveal the inefficiency of the QWERTY layout as typists became fatigued faster. To the rescue August Dvorak who, through careful analysis of letter frequencies in the English language and the application of various a priori principles designed the right-handed Dvorak layout. Apparently of prime importance were

  • Letters should be typed by alternating between hands.
  • For maximum speed and efficiency, the most common letters and digraphs should be the easiest to type. This means that they should be on the home row, which is where the fingers rest, and under the strongest fingers.
  • The least common letters should be on the bottom row, which is the hardest row to reach.
  • The right hand should do more of the typing, because most people are right-handed.
  • Digraphs should not be typed with adjacent fingers.
  • Stroking should generally move from the edges of the board to the middle. An observation of this principle is that, for many people, when tapping fingers on a table, it is easier going from little finger to index than vice versa. This motion on a keyboard is called inboard stroke flow.

As far as I know, Dvorak keyboards hold the speed record at the moment (which I think is Barabara Blackburn 212wpm). It seems rather hard to actually find references to this though.

Speed Stacking

Posted in random with tags on August 27, 2008 by Philonous

For more information on so called Speed Stacking, check out the Wikipedia page for a brief history and the World Speed Stacking Association (WSSA) website to get involved in this vibrant and fast growing sport.

Philonous’s MashUp Collection

Posted in music, random on August 24, 2008 by Philonous

Inspired by Danzig vs. Shakira, I’ve hand picked some rather good (if I do say so myself) mashups and put them together in this easily digestible format…

You are watching

  1. Prodigy vs. Enya
  2. Snoop Dog vs. Led Zeppelin
  3. Pink vs. Billy Idol
  4. Michael Jackson vs. Metallica

Power Cut

Posted in culture, Manchester, random with tags , on April 26, 2008 by Philonous

Earlier this evening, the electricity supply for some reason cut out. I was at the time surfing the web on a laptop so the instant the power went off, the network connection disappeared. Having fumbled around the house for matches for a while, I finally managed to light a candle which for once wasn’t being used for ambience. It suddenly occurred to me that without electricity it would be essentially impossible to survive in my flat. Being relatively new, my home depends exclusively on electricity for energy. From heating to cooking, everything in the house is plugged into the wall in some way.
I had been planning to heat up some leftovers in the microwave. But now I couldn’t use a microwave. Or a toaster. Or the oven. In fact, I couldn’t eat any raw food at all – it was lucky that there were some leftovers, however cold. Sitting on the couch, swaddled in a duvet against the dwindling warmth, it occurred to me that by the next morning any remaining hot water in the tank would have cooled and anything in the freezer would have started to defrost. My only consolation was in reading a book by the flickering light of a couple of candles.

No wonder Russia weilded so much power over the Ukraine when it came to energy supplies. There has been so much publicity over the rising cost of energy in general, but we at least still have access to energy, however expensive it may be.

And then the lights came on again.

I’d like some of that cake

Posted in culture, random with tags , on April 3, 2008 by Philonous

Ms Foxy Fox, can you please make me one of those cakes? I’m not handy enough to do it myself (and you look cute in an apron).

On another note, a friend who works at a park in California sent me some advice on how to not be attacked by a mountain lion (a hazard in her work). Could prove useful one day- to quote Natalie (who I first met in Italy, but we’re both from Ohio!)

In the case that you should run into a mountain lion back there in Ohio- you are supposed to do three things. You shouldn’t run (b/c then you are acting like prey). You should hold your coat up and open above your head so that you look bigger than you really are. And you should talk to it in a very firm and demanding way- “HEY- YOU- GET AWAY FROM HERE OR I’M GOING TO EAT YOU UP.”

So there we are. Cue ‘the more you know’ rainbow and music.

On that note, ‘the more you know’ is a phrase I use often, and is lost on most of my non-American friends. It is a staple of American life, being a the tagline for ‘public service announcements’ which appear on tv, to teach people about all sort of things (health, environment, education, etc). It’s been around for decades. I think this spoof from ‘Scrubs’ will give you the idea.

<!–Unfortunately, I can’t get the video to appear hear for some reason, which is really annoying, and I’ve now stayed 20 minutes after work trying, so I’ll just put the link here–>


Posted in music, random with tags , on April 1, 2008 by Philonous

Johnny Cash famously covered Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails: it seems that a good song is good no matter what your personal take. Here, for your viewing pleasure are assembled a couple of my favourites.

They are:

  1. The Unforgiven – Iron Horse/Metallica
  2. Baby one more time – Travis/Britney Spears
  3. Holiday – Hayseed Dixie/Green Day
  4. Love will tear us apart – Susanna and the Magical Orchestra/Joy Division
  5. Satisfaction – Devo/The Rolling Stones
  6. Ain’t no Sunshine – Woven Hand/Bill Withers

Picture of the Moment II

Posted in Activism, art, Pic of the Moment, random with tags , on March 30, 2008 by Philonous
Is it just me or does Sundblom Santa look a little bit like Marx? Maybe he had a cutting sense of irony…

Sleeping with sleepy kittens

Posted in random with tags on March 25, 2008 by Philonous

How many times have you woken up at night, unable to fall back asleep, plagued by anxiety? “Wouldn’t it be nice”, you thought to yourself “if I could watch sleepy kittens”.

Picture of the Moment

Posted in art, random with tags , on March 23, 2008 by Philonous

Not many people realise that Kitchener was inspired by Wittgenstein.