Scientific papers shouldn’t be published as PDFs

Jupyter notebook examples
Examples of Jupyter notebooks

I enjoyed James Somers’ article in the Atlantic titled “The Scientific Paper Is Obsolete” about how the standard format for scientific papers, namely PDF, is no longer the appropriate format for such data-intensive work.

This is, of course, the whole problem of scientific communication in a nutshell: Scientific results today are as often as not found with the help of computers. That’s because the ideas are complex, dynamic, hard to grab ahold of in your mind’s eye. And yet by far the most popular tool we have for communicating these results is the PDF—literally a simulation of a piece of paper. Maybe we can do better.

The article recounts the history of Wolfram’s Wolfram Mathematica notebook model, and the rise of Jupyter notebooks as an open source alternative that’s also rising to prominence in the space.

I love the idea of more open, more dynamic formats for sharing knowledge, capturing ideas, and promoting access to knowledge.

The Explainer

A big part of my role as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic is explaining stuff to our users. I have a knack for it, particularly when it comes to email support.

I commented to some colleagues today that I should change my job title to “Explainer” (we can basically choose our job titles at Automattic). One of them came up with this awesome mashup:

The Explainer

I had to share it. It’s awesome!

ISS Expedition Posters Are Gifts For Geeks

If you consider yourself a geek, especially a space and sci-fi geek, you have to take a look at this collection of ISS Expedition Posters. They are awesome. Expedition 42’s poster is one of my favourites:

Expedition 42 poster
Expedition 42 – Don’t Panic!

You can scroll through all of the posters on Spaceflight101.com:

ISS Expedition Posters

You can also read about ISS Expeditions on the NASA website at Crews and Expeditions.

The rat race and our search for Happiness

Steve Cutts‘ video titled “Happiness” is disturbingly accurate portrayal of so many aspects of our daily lives. When I watch this video, I can’t help but wonder why we buy into all these promises of happiness, and chase them so relentlessly?

Cutts’ work seems to capture so much of the futility of so much of what we do to achieve happiness in our lives. There is a better way to live our lives. Realising that and shifting our perspective isn’t as easy as it seems, though.

A little Firefox nostalgia

The Firefox 3 robot
The Firefox 3 robot declares victory. Design apparently by Nobox.

I’ve started using Firefox a lot more lately. The browser feels like a new beast lately, especially Firefox Nightly which I started using because of the CSS Grid Inspector tool.

Firefox 55 was released on the stable channel yesterday and it is also pretty snappy. Chrome is starting to feel a little sluggish by comparison (although it’s possible that I’m imagining it).

I found myself thinking back to the marketing campaign for Firefox 3 back in 2008 (I think). At the time, Firefox wasn’t on its current 6-8 week release cycle so developments took a bit longer.

For some reason, Firefox 3 was a big deal back then. I don’t remember why but I do have a vivid memory of the robot imagery that Mozilla used to publicise the release. I found this image on Flickr earlier this afternoon.

Almost a decade later, there is still something about this robot imagery that I love.

Firefox making moves on Chrome

If you’re curious about this “new” Firefox that people are talking about lately, you may find this article interesting:

It’s tempting to just dismiss this browser as a “has been” and stick with Chrome. Chrome is a great browser and dominates the Web. Still, I think having a spunky challenger with a strong focus on an inclusive and open Web is important.

Just as it successfully challenged Internet Explorer back in the day, Firefox could help keep Chrome in check where it counts.

The story behind Comic Sans – take a deep breath

We’ve all encountered Comic Sans and probably have mixed feelings about this controversial font. Did you know the history behind it and how it came to be so popular? Great Big Story has a short “origins” video titled “Comic Sans: The Man Behind the World’s Most Contentious Font” that is worth watching if you are as touched by Comic Sans as most of us are:

It turns out he was inspired by two iconic comics at the time: Batman and Watchmen. I’m not sure if that revelation makes much of a difference to those of us who have been traumatised by seeing so much inappropriate use of the font but it is an interesting factoid.

Credit to The Drum for its story that inspired this little share.

Image credit: Snowdog, published on Wikimedia Commons and released into the Public Domain.

How digital media drives innovation in architecture

Modern architecture from Pexels

I really enjoyed Marc Kushner‘s TED talk about how digital media has become a catalyst for innovation in architecture. I love the new shapes we see, especially when it comes to modern libraries. If you are interested in architectural innovation, take 18 minutes and watch Kushner’s talk.

Here is a little more inspiration from the Architizer Twitter profile:

Image credit: Pexels

The girl on a wall

Every workday morning, for about a year, I saw this girl on a wall as I exited the Tel Aviv Central train station in Ramat Gan.

I found her captivating and kept promising myself that I would take photos of her for my collection. I never did it and then my previous employer relocated to Tel Aviv and an earlier train station.

As you may know, I have since left imonomy and I have joined InboundJunction which is based in Ramat Gan, one road away from imonomy’s old offices. I’ve been carrying my camera to work and when I have gone out to lunch so I decided to take those photos I’d been planning to take when I was last in Ramat Gan.

Girl on the wall

I took a walk down to the street corner facing the mural and shot a few photos. I was hoping to capture a pedestrian passing it. I only noticed when I arrived there that the pavement doesn’t run past the mural to connect with the pavement higher up the road so pedestrians cross the road before they reach the mural.

Either way, I’m glad I finally took a few photos of the girl on a wall.

The mural seems to be the work of an Israeli artist who goes by the name Pilpeled. The work is characterised by fairly dark illustrations.

View this post on Instagram

#pilpeled

A post shared by PILPELED (@pilpeled) on

I don’t know much about HP Lovecraft but when I imagine what Lovecraft’s worlds may be like, I imagine something pretty close to Pilpeled’s designs. Just comparing the mural of the girl to Pilpeled’s other work, she seems pretty tame although just as captivating.