Week #141

Friday, October 25th, 02013 at 20:02 UTC

Wikipedia helpfully tells us that 141 is the number following 140 and preceding 142. Very helpful indeed! 141 is a palindrome, which is something we keep a close eye on. In astronomy, 141 Lumen is a rather large asteroid found in 1875. In the year 141, it was the 6th noted time Halley’s Comet passed the Earth.

As big fans of the Long Now and their pre-fixing dates with a zero. A discussion with friends lead to the problems of still fixing the calendar to the arbitrary religious AD and BC. Even BCE (Before Common Era) is connected with the Gregorian Calendar. There is another option we discussed, the Holocene calendar. This takes the epoch for being when man first arrived. It is estimated that the era of mankind started 10,000 years ago. To convert between CE (Common Era) and HE (Holocene Era), you simply add 10,000 years to the current date. This year is 02013 CE or 12,013 HE. There are loads of alternative calendaring systems. You can spend a day exploring all of them.

Avocados, Crowds, Meryin, Chili and Dopplr it could only mean we sent out our quarterly newsletter this week. You can sign-up, we only send out 4 per year with interesting links, notes and a few freebies.

In the office this week we discovered an incredible text-to-speach service. There are lots of free or cheap TTS (text-to-speach) services in English or other common languages, but IVONA is the first we’ve found which does an incredible job of reading Icelandic Text (and loads of other languages too). The company has a RESTful API which you can use to generate WAV or MP3 files from a text string. We spent an afternoon hacking  on it and built a really simple audio cache using their free trail. Now it is something we are investigating for various projects.

This week we also resurrected and stubbed a few new projects that we’ll hopefully revisit in the near future.

The Tindfell project is a new instance of an old idea. Taking what we’ve learnt these last few years using off the shelf solutions, we’re now customizing our own version for internal use and see how that goes.

Virkisfell is another project we’ve stubbed this week. We’re taking a 10+ year old PHP project and porting parts of it over to Django. We’ve re-visited this project a few times recently, so having a working prototype in a system which is more flexible will certainly be an asset.


Two amazing projects we found this week online:

GifPop! A way to print animated Gifs and retain their animation in physical form.

If you look closely at the kickstarted page, one of the examples from their travels is certainly from the south coast of Iceland.

The other amazing video is Anthony Howe’s Otherworldly Kinetic Sculptures. They are mesmerizing to watch.