2015 oddments.txt
review oddments

see previous installments of oddments.txt, here.

  1. Founders Backwoods Bastard
    I’m a big fan of Founders Brewery. Their ability to produce high-quality beer at scale is second to none. Backwoods Bastard is the perfect exemplar. It’s wonderfully complex and full of interesting flavors. It’s like drinking one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer all at the same time. I can think of no libation that’s better for a cold winter evening next to a wood fire.

  2. The Epic Story of Maximum Likelihood
    This review is excellent. It present the idea of maximum likelihood in a historical context and how the theory developed as it passed though the minds of Lagrange, Bernoulli, Laplace, Euler, and many others through the last 300 years. I find many technical subjects are much easier to understand if one follows how they developed through history. Science works by standing on the shoulders of giants, so it’s often easier to understand a subject by following it’s incremental development through the lens of history.

  3. Monodraw
    I use this app frequently on the Mac for generating quick drawings in plain text files. It allows me to create simple graphics for README files or text notes without the added complexity of embedding external graphics files in a markup language. If further refinements are needed, the app can export visualizations to SVG or PNG and then opened in another graphics program.

  4. Salami of the Month Club
    Olympia Provisions is one of the best charcuterire operations in the world and this offering doesn’t disappoint. Each month they send a new style of salami and some accompanying information that explains some details about what they’ve sent. I’ve enjoyed trying each variety they’ve sent and comparing how different ingredients and curing procedures affect the final flavor. What could be better than receiving cured meat in the mail?

  5. Cabin Porn
    HGTV for hermits with an Internet connection. Wonderful.

  6. A Little History of the World
    The first book I read by Gombrich was in an art history class I took in college, called The Story of Art. The book was fantastic, as is A Little History of the World. Gombrich creates a comprehensive story about Western civilization as told in one cohesive arc. It provides a very different perspective than the usual treatment of historical information. Rather then diving deeply in one specific topic, the work takes a much broader approach to human history.

  7. Kinco Thermal Work Gloves
    I picked up a pair of these gloves last year after many glowing recommendations from some of my friends who work at nearby ski mountains. They’re warm, cheap, durable, and suitable for all sorts of winter outside work. Combine with Sno-Seal for maximum effect.

  8. Seeing Circles, Sines, and Signals
    This is a really cool project that uses interactive animations to explain some basic signal processing techniques. The format reminds me of Bret Victor’s Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction. The visualizations provide intuition for understanding signal processing concepts. College textbooks should adopt an interactive format like this.

  9. Anker Astro-mini
    The Anker Astro is a useful power charger for situations when I need to power up my phone or other electronic devices, but don’t want to carry a heavy and cumbersome power bank. The Astro-mini is the size of tube of chapstick and gives me a full recharge for my iPhone, at a cost of only $10.

  10. CalTopo
    CalTopo is the best online topographical mapping tool I know of. It provides a Google Maps-like interface for the high-res USGS maps and other map types. The tool is feature rich and support special printing capabilities, map annotations, bearings, and a host of useful features. It has a superior UI that allows “layering” multiple maps overlays with different opacities to highlight features of interest.

  11. Awesome Public Datasets
    APD is a great repository for finding data sets to work with. Sometimes I need to test out a new statistics workflow or benchmark a new machine learning algorithm and I need some test data to to work with. By combing the APD, it’s usually pretty easy to find some fun and interesting data to work with.

  12. Momofuku’s Bo Ssam
    David Chang’s Bo Ssam will change your life (probably). The approach is time-testing—slow-cooked pork accompanied with a starch and cruciferous vegetables. Every culture has their own take on this classic combination. So cheap. So simple. So good.

  13. Pandemic
    Pandemic is a fun board game. It’s a cooperative strategy game where players must work together to avoid pandemics that threaten to destroy the world. Each player assumes a different role and must work together with other players to prevent and eradicate various diseases. This is the first cooperative board game I’ve played and I have come to really enjoyed the format. Thanksgiving and Christmas approved.

  14. L.L. Bean Rubber Moc
    This is possibly the ugliest shoe ever created, but it’s also one of most practical shoes I’ve ever worn. The Gumshoe is part clog, part snow boot, and part Wellington. It’s the perfect shoe for rainy day commutes, yard work in dewy grass, beachcombing, or mud season. These things are built like a tank and come with Leon Leonwood Bean’s exceptional lifetime guarantee. Apparently they’re fashionable now too.

  15. Beer Labels in Motion
    This site is really cool. It’s the creative brainchild of Trevor Carmick. He animates beer labels in fun and interesting ways. I’m partial to the exploding hop hair of Heady Topper.

  16. The Ashley Book of Knots
    Originally published in 1944, ABOK is THE definitive reference for knots. It’s the knot equivalent of TAOCP. In total, ABOK contains around 4,000 knots drawing from a huge range of authors and applications. If you need a knot, it can be found in this book. ABOK has everything from numerous variations of the bowline knot to specialty knots used by the Ringling Brothers’ Circus. If ABOK is too much, checkout Andy’s Most Useful Knots page, for the abridged version.

  17. 10 Minute Mail
    10 Minute Mail is a simple email service that provides an ephemeral email account that lasts for 10 minutes or longer if needed. I find having a throwaway email account very useful for receiving coupons, promotional deals, and one time account sign ups. It eliminates a lot of the junk mail that previously clogged up my inbox.

  18. Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies
    These cookies take 24 hours to make, but it’s quite possibly the best chocolate chip cookie recipe on Earth.

  19. tldr
    TL;DR; Highly useful. I use this app almost daily. The tool provides example commands for commonly used unix tools. It’s often much more efficient to see some example commands rather than trying to pour through man pages. Check out the example page.

  20. Meru
    This film was one of my favorite documentaries of the year. It follows alpinist legend Conrad Anker and his team on their harrowing first ascent of the Shark’s Fin route on Meru Peak in the Indian Himalayas. The film has amazing cinematography that captures the difficulty of being a high altitude mountaineer and taking the risks necessary to make first ascents of the last remaining unclimbed peaks.

  21. Franklin Barbecue—A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
    This is an unusually good book about BBQ. It is noteworthy because the book is not full of recipes with rote instructions on how to smoke meat. Rather, Aaron Franklin presents a general philosophy toward BBQ and what he has learned during his evolution from home hobbyist to legendary pitmaster at Franklin’s.