How to Tweet Without Really Trying

The site That can be my next tweet analyzes your previous Twitter activity (assuming your account is public) and gives you back a "next tweet." The site appears to be using a Markov chain process to do this; Markov chains are useful for lots of things, including generating weird fake dialogue for Garfield cartoons.

So what does it think of the relatively new-to-Twitter @KenJennings?

There's a chapter on the Japanese cartoon from swim class. We've chosen a screen full of Mentos"?

That's surprisingly decent. Not sure where the stray quote marks came from, but still -- that's almost meaningful English, and at least seems syntactically correct, except for the quote marks. So let's see what this thing thinks my next tweet should be (I'm @chrishiggins):

When will pay more tree limbs in my mental_floss article push it starts funny, gets I've got!

Um. Okay. I have been complaining a lot about tree limbs, posting mental_floss articles, and maybe posting funny links? Fair enough, but not really sensible. Let's see what the mighty @mental_floss would say:

Baseball's spring training wasn't always wanted Gene Hackman for minor infractions. MI 10¢?

FULL OF FACTS! But also, a bit crazy. Oh, but how about @kanyewest?


Now that's one of Kanye West's best tweets. The algorithm is even smart enough to put it in caps. Computers will never cease to amaze me. Go spend your day finding out random Twitter nonsense! If you find good ones, please post them in the comments!

The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

Watch Christmas Island’s Annual Crab Migration on Google Street View

Every year, the 45 million or so red crabs on the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island migrate en masse from their forest burrows down to the ocean to mate, and so the female crabs can release their eggs into the sea to hatch. The migration starts during the fall, and the number of crabs on the beach often peaks in December. This year, you don’t have to be on Christmas Island to witness the spectacular crustacean event, as New Atlas reports. You can see it on Google Street View.

Watching the sheer density of crabs scuttling across roads, boardwalks, and beaches is a rare visual treat. According to the Google blog, this year’s crabtacular finale is forecasted for December 16, and Parks Australia crab expert Alasdair Grigg will be there with the Street View Trekker to capture it. That is likely to be the day when crab populations on the beaches will be at their peak, giving you the best view of the action.

Crabs scuttle across the forest floor while a man with a Google Street View Trekker walks behind them.

Google Street View is already a repository for a number of armchair travel experiences. You can digitally explore remote locations in Antarctica, recreations of ancient cities, and even the International Space Station. You can essentially see the whole world without ever logging off your computer.

Sadly, because Street View isn’t live, you won’t be able to see the migration as it happens. The image collection won’t be available until sometime in early 2018. But it’ll be worth the wait, we promise. For a sneak preview, watch Parks Australia’s video of the 2012 event here.

[h/t New Atlas]


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