I must admit I’ve been wincing a little every time I see a graph with a logarithmic scale in a news article about COVID-19. It takes quite a bit of cognitive work to translate to a linear scale and get the real story.
Saturday, May 23rd, 2020
Wednesday, March 11th, 2020
A curl in every port
A few years back, Zach Bloom wrote The History of the URL: Path, Fragment, Query, and Auth. He recently expanded on it and republished it on the Cloudflare blog as The History of the URL. It’s well worth the time to read the whole thing. It’s packed full of fascinating tidbits.
In the section on ports, Zach says:
The timeline of Gopher and HTTP can be evidenced by their default port numbers. Gopher is 70, HTTP 80. The HTTP port was assigned (likely by Jon Postel at the IANA) at the request of Tim Berners-Lee sometime between 1990 and 1992.
Kimberly was spelunking down the original source code, when she came across this line in the
#define TCP_PORT 80 /* Allocated to http by Jon Postel/ISI 24-Jan-92 */
We showed this to Jean-François Groff, who worked on the original web technologies like
libwww, the forerunner to
libcurl. He remembers that day. It felt like they had “made it”, receiving the official blessing of Jon Postel (in the same RFC, incidentally, that gave port 70 to Gopher).
Then he told us something interesting about the next line of code:
#define OLD_TCP_PORT 2784 /* Try the old one if no answer on 80 */
Port 2784? That seems like an odd choice. Most of us would choose something easy to remember.
Well, it turns out that 2784 is easy to remember if you’re Tim Berners-Lee.
Those were the last four digits of his parents’ phone number.
Friday, February 28th, 2020
Some solid research here. Turns out that using
input type=”text” inputmode=”numeric” pattern="[0-9]*" is probably a better bet than using
Saturday, February 15th, 2020
An absolutely gorgeous piece of hypermedia!
Data visualisations and interactive widgets enliven this maze of mathematics. Dig deep—you may just uncover the secret passages that join these concepts together.
Friday, October 18th, 2019
What over a decade of number-crunching analytics has taught me is that spending an hour writing, sharing, or helping someone is infinitely more valuable than spending that hour swimming through numbers. Moreover, trying to juice the numbers almost invariably divorces you from thinking about customers and understanding people. On the surface, it seems like a convenient proxy, but it’s not. They’re just numbers. If you’re searching for business insights, talking to real people beats raw data any day. It’s not as convenient, but when is anything worth doing convenient?
Thursday, November 24th, 2016
Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
A very smart way of matching up the amount of money you spend on entertainment to contributions to causes you care about.
Over 40 million Americans subscribe to Netflix, which means that ~$400 million dollars are taken out of our accounts monthly. Many Americans don’t even notice this. Imagine what could happen if we set up as many automatic contributions to help nonprofits do what they need to do.
Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
Choosing the right input type for your form field.
Sunday, October 18th, 2015
Need an arbitrary—but not random—number? Here you go.
No numbers available? Top up the stock by providing some arbitrary numbers.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2015
A superb illustration of why playing the numbers game and dismissing even a small percentage of your potential audience could be disastrous.
Friday, August 30th, 2013
Some good-lookin’ stats from a responsive redesign:
Total page views, a metric we were prepared to see go down with the redesign, are up by 27%. Unique visitors per week are up 14% on average and visits per week are up on average 23%.
Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
A nice project from BERG that aligns numbers from your own world (like the number of people you follow on Twitter) to numbers in the larger world.
Sunday, January 10th, 2010
Changing a numeral in a typeface ...at Al Gore's request.
Wednesday, August 26th, 2009
Erik Spiekermann expounding on the beauty – and the difficulty – of designing numbers.
Monday, August 17th, 2009
Re-finding five numbers
Fortunately Brian had saved all the MP3s. I’ve posted them on S3 and huffduffed them all. I can be fairly confident that Huffduffer won’t be going the way of Pownce, Magnolia, Geocities, and so many more.
Anyway, if you want to listen to the fifteen episodes of the three radio series’ on mathematics, you can subscribe to the podcast at https://huffduffer.com/adactio/tags/five+numbers/rss.
Or you can listen to each episode at these permanent URLs:
Another Five Numbers
A Further Five Numbers
Friday, August 8th, 2008
Finding five numbers
I like Tumblr. I like Pownce. They both make it very quick and easy to post discrete quanta of information. I use Pownce for posting audio files and links to videos. I use Tumblr to post quotations. But both services suffer from the same problem: refindability.
Magnolia and Delicious encourage tagging. Those tags can then surface some pretty interesting aggregate behaviour but first and foremost, they’re useful for the individual doing the tagging. It’s pretty easy for me to track down something I bookmarked on Magnolia even if it was quite a while back. I don’t need to keep a list of all the tags I’ve ever used: I just need to search for a word that I think I might have used when I was tagging a bookmark. While it would be very difficult for me to try to second-guess how someone else might describe something, it’s usually pretty easy to put myself in the shoes of my past self.
As my store of data on Pownce and Tumblr increases, I’m starting to miss tagging (or any kind of search) more and more. Then again, I can understand why both services would resist that kind of scope creep. Both services rely on their simplicity. Adding another field to fill in could potentially be a road block between the user and the task they want to accomplish (although it doesn’t feel that way with Delicious or Magnolia). Update: it turns out that you can tag in Tumblr but it’s hidden behind the “advanced” link. Thanks to Keith Bell for pointing that out.
Here’s a case in point. Over time I’ve been posting MP3 files to Pownce of a series of radio programmes by Simon Singh, author of The Code Book — a superb piece of work. The audio from the radio programmes is available from the BBC website but only in Real Audio which, let’s face it, is complete pants. I originally got the MP3 files from Brian but after a catastrophic hard drive crash, I realised that it would be better to store them at an addressable URL. Besides, I wanted to geek out with my mathematically-minded friends. Pownce’s raison d’être is sharing stuff with friends so it seemed like the perfect home for the Singh files.
But without any kind of tagging or search, there’s no easy way for me or anyone else to revisit just those files at a later date. As a temporary patch, I’m listing the URLs for the Pownce posts that correspond to each episode. If you want to download the files, you’ll need to log in to Pownce.
Monday, July 28th, 2008
Benford's law blows my mind. Be sure to watch the video. This is all related to network theory and power law distributions ...I'm just not sure how.
Tuesday, November 13th, 2007
A seasonal twist on the lottery card is withdrawn because people don't understand how negative numbers work. "I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher – not lower – than -8 but I'm not having it."
Saturday, July 14th, 2007
Here's an antidote to all those "100 best movie" countdowns that infest Saturday night television. Here's 100 movies with 100 numbers.