April 28, 2004

More on Range Estimation

Bowhunters have to worry about range estimation too, and so Jeff Phillips at FastestBows.com has a nice article on the topic.

I really like the common-sense approach to the thumb method, which basically relies on elementary-school geometry to work. Just shoot the damn thing! says Phillips.

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Range Estimation Practice

I've started practicing range estimation.

Here's a problem for you. Look outside your window. There's a car passing by. How far away is it?

I started thinking about this when looking into bullet drop tables. Let's say you sight in your rifle to hit point-of-aim at 150 yards. If you need to hit a target much closer, say 40 yards, how low do you need to hold to hit where you want?

The same problem crops up when playing golf. Of course, with me playing a round every 3 years or so, it's a moot point, but knowing how far you are from the pin helps you select the right club and swing speed.

Football players probably get used to judging distances (at least within 100 yards) and get a lot of help from those hash marks on the field. But you don't get that sort of thing in real life.

Way back when I remember reading a book that gave several "rules of thumb"*. You'd hold out your hand at arm's length, and if a man appeared to be as tall as the length of your thumb, he was x yards away. If his height fit between the tip of your thumb and the first joint, he was y yards away. I wonder if Amazon's new search feature will find that long lost book for me again.

*Maybe this is the true origin of the phrase "rule of thumb"--rather than the allusion to wife-beating that everyone always cites?

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April 16, 2004

Cool Stuff: Docupen

Image of Docupen
This Docupen thing takes the C-Pen idea a bit further--just run it down the page like James Bond and scan the whole thing. When will they just implant this stuff into our eyeglasses or optic nerves?

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Small Multiples done wrong

One page I noticed on the nicely laid out DeLaEspada site is their All Products page. At first glance, this looks like a good example of Tufte's "small multiples" guideline--provide thumbnails of like items so viewers can compare and contrast without much work.

But the images used are mixed up--there's some "in use" images scaled down to thumbnail size, some "product only" images that show just the product with a transparent background, and some schematic floorplan diagrams for sofa sectionals and the like.

This kind of defeats the small multiples principle--some of the "in use" thumbs, probably reused from the print/Web catalogs, are scaled down so much that you can't distinguish the product from the background. Like this one.

Now don't get me wrong--I think their stuff is fantastic. Too pricey for me, but heck, I'm still using my bachelor pad furniture 10 years after moving out of my apt.

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DWR and DeLaEspada

Design Within Reach's email newsletter is actually welcome spam, especially compared to the enlarge-your-penis/buy-generic-viagra/get-a-cheap-mortgage emails I get. The latest edition actually gives free plugs to the new Fillmore store's neighbors, of which one is the London furniture store DeLaEspada.

Now this is kind of interesting--DWR is basically sending traffic to a company that could be thought of as a competitor. Is this a Microsoft-like overture of "good will", throwing the poor unsuspecting incumbent a bone before the DWR juggernaut steals all their customers? DeLaEspada is similar to many of the other vendors in DWR's catalog--their "warm modern" wood furniture reminds me of the giant Eames chess piece stools DWR sells.

Makes me wish I took woodshop instead of metalshop as a kid.

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April 12, 2004

Here's mud in yer eye...

Men's 145 pound semifinals of the European Greco-Roman Wrestling Championships in Haparanda, Sweden, April 10, 2004
This photo reminds me of the competition strategy my former officemate used when he competed in judo tournaments back in the 1970s .

Paul said he'd let the nails on his big toes get long and sharp. Not like the crazy german spy lady in those James Bond movies, but still enough to draw blood. If he got into a bad spot during randori, he'd slice open his opponent's calf or something, and the resulting blood would get the match halted.

Pretty slimy, I'd say. Rules are rules, and although the martial art I study disdains rules when "fighting", they do have a place in some competitions. If you go into a judo match, you expect throws and chokes, but not lacerations. Better to know you bested your opponent fairly than to have to cheat.

But on the street, your opponent isn't playing by your rules anyway. That's when you pull the Indiana Jones stuff--drop that bullwhip and shoot the mutha.

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April 01, 2004

What Cancer Taught Me, #31

Use the nice china. Now.

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