American Rhetoric: The Power of Oratory in the United States.

It’s not a beautifully designed site, but it’s inordinately deep in content. If you miss the way people used to talk good, then read the best stuff here.

via MeFi

Once you’ve learned some high quality rhetoric, use this new bot at MIT called MACH to practice being a better public speaker.

At the heart of MACH is a complex system of facial and speech recognition algorithms that can detect subtle nuances in intonation while tracking smiles, head nods and eye movement…

The software then provides feedback about your performance… What’s particularly exciting is that the program requires no special hardware; it’s designed to be used with a standard webcam and microphone on a laptop.

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Fogonazos: Catatumbo, the everlasting storm.

There is a place at Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela where a lighting storm goes on for half the year, 10 hours a night. Google it, it’s amazing.

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Want to email a question about something on your screen without having to print a PDFor open Photoshop just to point at something? Here’s a Windows doodad that makes annotated screen captures much more useful.

In Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8, there is a built-in program called Snipping Tool. You can get to it by hitting the Start button and typing “Snip”. It should be the top search result (unless you have other programs named “snip”-something). The most convenient way to get there (all keyboard, no mouse) is to hit the Windows key,


…type “snip” and hit enter.

Your screen will fade out, and there will be a little tool floating in the middle of your screen.


Click “New” to start dragging a rectangle around the area of the screen you want. As soon as you let go of the mouse, you’ll see your screenshot with some additional tools up top:

  • Save (as PNG, GIF, JPG)
  • Copy to clipboard
  • Send as email attachment
  • Markup (pen)
  • Highlight
  • Erase Markup or Highlight

You can change markup and highlight colors. Also, before you start your screenshot you can change to free-form snip, active window or full-screen (drop-down menu next to the “New” button). If you want, see official documentation with video here:

Snipping Tool – Microsoft Windows

It’s a nice way to snapshot your screen (say, something you’re drawing in Autocad), circle the area you have a question about and email it to someone in just a few seconds.

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Yes you can. You can measure and/or dimension things to scale in a PDF, including AREA calculations.

You’ll need Adobe Reader XIAdobe Acrobat Pro or, if you’re like me, Foxit (free PDF viewer). I like Foxit because (1) it’s lightweight and (2) it puts all open documents in tabs. (Get with the times, Adobe.)

Note: earlier versions of Adobe Reader didn’t let you measure unless the author enabled Measuring and Comments.

Before I start, I need to warn you, Adobe did a terrible job with this tool. It’s hard to find, the different components are located in completely different areas, and it’s a bit ugly.

Adobe Reader XI (also applies to most of Acrobat Pro)

In the Edit menu, select Analysis > Measuring Tool. At the upper-right you’ll now see Snap Types and Measurement Types:


You’ll notice you can snap to nearest line, end points, midpoint and intersection. Personally I don’t use the snaps because they’re a little wonky. Then to the right you’ll see three types of measurement: linear distance, perimeter and area. For perimeter and area, you can close the line by getting close to the start point (you’ll see a little O next to your cursor)–double click to close the line.

At the bottom right you’ll see a status of what your scale is and what you’re measuring:


The most useful part of this display is the Angle. For some reason you can’t dimension an angle as a comment on the PDF, but you can see what it is here.

The dimension will appear as in any drafting program. It will also come with its own comment popup, which you can minimize or add comments to, if you like.


At any point you can right-click somewhere on the page and change the scale of your measurement. Make sure you’re still using the Measure Tool (not the black arrow or hand tool). The first option on the pop-up contextual menu will be “Change Scale Ratio.” You can change either number, i.e., 1/4″ scale can be 1 inch = 4 feet or 0.25 inch = 12 inches.

Before setting the scale I recommend finding something to verify your scale. If there’s a graphic scale, measure it at 1:1 scale first and check your numbers. Or if there isn’t a graphic scale (does anyone use those anymore?) find something like a 36″ door to confirm.

Note: sometimes a PDF will have a scale built-in. That’s usually ok, but I find more times than not, the scale is wrong. If you’re having trouble setting the scale, go to Preferences (Ctrl+K) > Measuring (2D) and uncheck “Use Scale and Units from Document (when present).”


Like with any comment/markup in Acrobat, you can change the style with Ctrl+E. A little toolbar will pop up, showing you everything that can be modified.  You can also modify dimension properties by right-clicking on the dimension line and choosing “Properties…” (Here, for some reason they give you a dialog box instead of a toolbar.) Right-clicking will also show you options like “Flip Line” and “Add Label.” And to make it just a little more complicated, you can also right-click on the dimension line and select “Measure Preferences” (same thing as Ctrl+K > Measure (2D)).

TIP: In case you didn’t catch that, you can use Ctrl+E with any markup. If you have a text box, Ctrl+E will let you set the font, font size, font color, background/border colors etc.

You can also right-click off a dimension line (anywhere else on the page) to get a different pop-up menu, with things like “Turn Ortho On” (also available in Preferences) and “Export Measurement Markup to Excel” (I haven’t found this useful yet).


I haven’t found a way to override the dimension text. So if you see “4.01 in” and want it to appear as “4 in” you can either fiddle with the start and end points until you get exactly what you want, or you can do what I do: create at text box (comment), type in “4 in”, then drag the text box over the dimension text. If you want to be a little more stylish, you can use Ctrl+E to change the properties of the text box (white background and border, smaller text maybe).

Adobe Acrobat Pro X

Just about everything is the same for Acrobat Pro (Version 10) as it is with Reader XI, except:

The tool is found in the right pane (now that you’re a Pro, you get a button, not a menu item):



Under “Analyze” (Measuring Tool). The thing is, Acrobat hides this by default. To make it appear, go to that little icon of a little menu and select “Analyze” at the bottom.



TIP: Right-click on this “Measuring Tool” button to get “Add to Quick Tools”–the icon will be added to your toolbar at top for easy access.


You can find the measuring tools (Distance, Perimeter, Area) in the Comment menu. There aren’t a lot of formatting options here. What you see is what you get. But it gets the job done.

Have fun.

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I just discovered KNSTRCT, a kind of magazine/blog, a “museum of design news,” created by Ashley Nelson. Nice big photos of recent projects around the world, and what I appreciate most, collections of projects based on a single idea, like “living greenhouses” and hotel pools. Check it out.


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Incredible Time-Lapse of Graffiti Artist Sofles Covering a Warehouse in Street Art.

Incredible indeed. Very clever bit at 2:50.

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Niklas Roy: Instant Art Career.

People-powered paintbrush on pulleys. A charming quasi-cynical installation (I say “quasi” because it is actually very cheery) on the state of commercialized art.

Another example of more low-tech, greater joy.

via MAKE

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Flickr: elmonstruodecoloresnotieneboca’s Photostream.

Children’s dreams illustrated by artists. A project by Roger Omar.

via MetaFilter

Compare: The Monster Engine by Dave Devries

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Flickr: Nguyen Hung Cuong’s Origami Photostream.

A master’s creations.


My friend Ming tells me you can see this and more at the OrigamiUSA convention in a few days (6/21-24) at FIT.

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“aboriginal landscapes of fabulous hybrid creatures” | MetaFilter.

All the links you need to be blown away by Marguerite Humeau and her working reconstructions of extinct creatures’ vocal tracts.

If you only have time for one click, go to this interview.

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