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Creative Video

Friday, December 5th, 2008

I spent my first year in college at an engineering school. It was a tough school and we didn’t have a lot of extra time. One of the things I remember was the guys building tennis ball cannons. Of course we eventually soaked the balls in lighter fluid so they would be flaming tennis balls. Here is a video of some guys playing tennis with flaming tennis balls.

I suppose that wasn’t all that dangerous. It would definitely keep you concentrating on the ball. Here’s something really crazy. At least the guy had the sense to put the liquid oxygen on a long pole before he poured it on the grill.

This video of bioluminescence was particularly striking. I have seen pictures of it before but the motion is really very cool.

You have to wait a bit for the next one to load before you see the motion. It is some guys being creative with stop motion video.

This one is from my friend Matt. It’s a silly dog video. This dog goes charging around in snow well over his head. You wonder how he manages to not run into something. I have never seen a dog move through snow like that.

Check out this image of two guys having lunch in a very high spot.

I thought this piece on the 10 most amazing things the sky can do was interesting.

Some of these are better than others. People make themselves invisible by covering or painting themselves the same as the background.

I’ve been thinking I need a new background for my new monitor but I wanted to create something myself. Here are some free high resolution wallpapers.

This close up of a snowflake was not at all what I expected.

Nature has perfected splitting water. I thought this was clever. If you can’t figure out exactly how plants do it then the next best thing is to extract the molecules from the plants and create cyborgs.

These vintage drawings of what the future would be like are pretty funny.

This is a very in-depth piece on fountains with some incredible pictures.

And finally, this is really silly. It’s a collection of Ninja cat pictures.

HDTV

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

I’m sure if we had waited, the price of a new HD set would have continued to fall but I was tired of squinting at my old Sony monitor. We don’t really have much HD material to watch, just the local stations. This weekend we finally broke down and purchased a 40″ Toshiba HDTV. I had read a number of bad reviews from people who bought a set online only to find the picture quality was disappointing. I wanted to see the set in the store. With an instant manufacturer’s rebate of $100 we ended up spending $750 on it at the local Costco. That is just about what we paid for our first 32″ television many years ago.  I would have gone with a 32″ but they didn’t have many to choose from. It seems huge. I usually write on my smaller computer which had a 19″ LCD display set at 800 x 600. At that resolution, it’s pretty readable but the web has gone wide screen and I found myself scrolling around more and more to see what is out there. My larger machine where I do most of my art had the same size monitor. I usually ran it at 1024 x 768 but it was a CRT and over the years it seemed to get fuzzier. Maybe it’s my eyes. A lot of the tools I use required scrolling through a bunch of icons. Now I’m running at 1360 x 768. The text is large and clear and I can see all my icons without scrolling and my menus are out of the way in my workspace.

One feature some of the new sets have is the 120 Hz refresh rate. I was afraid at 60 Hz this set would flicker when using it as a monitor but it looks good. It is barely noticeably darker in the corners. I had to put the cursor in the corner and point it out for my wife to see it. It does draw a lot more power than the small screen. Last night the power went out and I hooked it up to my battery/inverter. It was drawing 100 watts. Luckily the power wasn’t out for long. I guess I was surprised to realize how many digital channels were out there since I didn’t have a tuner capable of picking them up before. Since a lot of the web uses white backgrounds it can be a little too bright at night.

Speaking of the web, how long before you speak to it and it speaks back? That is one of the things IBM predicts will happen in the next five years. We recently learned an old friend is losing the use of her arms and hands. I was googling voice recognition software and I wondered if it really has improved much.

I played with this tool which allows you to choose colors and then it finds pictures on Flickr that use those colors. I’m not sure how useful it is but it was kind of interesting for a few minutes.

This was cool. I have seen this done before but on a much smaller scale. It’s a video of a fountain with strobe lights where the water appears to be suspended in air or moving backwards.

This is one of those pictures that looks just awesome on my new monitor. It’s a shot of Crater Lake in Oregon with the clouds moving in.

Of course everything looks better on here including this cute cat picture.

This is a collection of wild cat pictures.

Time magazine choose the eight new natural wonders. Too bad the images aren’t larger.

Here are 100 underwater hi-res images.

Also, these images could be larger but they are spectacular solar and lunar eclipse pictures.

I thought this concept of chalk shadows was pretty creative.

I’ve read about this strange creature recently, but this is one of the better sets of pictures of a Raz. That thing is so odd looking!

Now for some odd mice, the computer kind that is.

When Neil Young was young; Sugar Mountain — Live At Canterbury House 1968 is being released today but you can listen to the entire album at NPR.

Christmas and holiday cards for geeks are really geeky. Let me explain that first one for you. In hexadecimal a single digit can have 16 values. That means zero through nine then they start using letters so F is fifteen. In two digit hex the largest number is FF or 255 in decimal. Since colors are described in the amount of the primary colors red, green, and blue FFFFFF is white. The # sign is normally used to indicate the number is in hexadecimal. Hence may all your Christmas be #FFFFFF.

I have linked to some of these liquid magnetic sculpture videos before. This one has some cool towers.

I first ran across the storm cloud image in this collection and then realized there were lots of other nice images there as well. Here is the top level of Neil Paskin’s galleries.

My wife doesn’t care much for blond jokes but I thought this keyboard for blonds was pretty creative.

Turritopsis nutricula is an immortal jellyfish.

Here is another large panoramic image; this one is of Melbourne at night.

I have to say I agree with this guy. The amount of money being thrown at banking bailouts is so huge, solving the climate problems or ending poverty is small change in comparison. To try to stay positive here are a couple interesting articles. This one is about how financing can make solar cost effective. This one is about a new generator that can make use of slow currents for generating electricity.

The song If I only had a brain was stuck in my head after seeing this.

And finally, I didn’t even know red pandas existed. They sure are cute!

Meteor

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

This spectacular footage from a police car dash camera is a meteor over Edmonton, Canada.

Something about all those legs makes centipedes really creepy. I had no idea they grow as big as 13 inches. At the end of this video, one catches a bat out of the air.

I liked this picture of a puppy sleeping under a gun in Iraq.

This is a pretty strange fish story about a giant cat fish who tried to swallow a basketball.

I have heard about most of these people with extraordinary abilities. Most of the ones I hadn’t heard about seem plausible except for Magnetic Man.

Here is an extraordinary ability. Watch this guy stack 20 bricks on his head and then carry them off that way.

We actually did pretty well on this turkey trivia quiz. We don’t really know much about turkeys but we had a lot of lucky guesses.

I didn’t make it all the way through this list of programmer jokes. Some of them are really bad and some you have to be a programmer to get, but there were a few good ones mixed in.

This story deals with a subject of a sexual nature. I just found it so funny. I thought I’d throw the title out there and let you decided whether to click or not. Morally Repressed Mattel Pulls “Vibrating” Harry Potter Broomstick

I thought this image editing trick was a pretty original idea.

Speaking of image manipulation, I’ve seen a number of these images before. Some could be real.

On a more artistic note, here are some sci-fi fantasy landscapes. My Russian is non-existent but I believe the artist may be Inga Nielsen.

Here is another collection of painted and rendered artwork from 18 different artists. If you are at work, there is some artistic nudity in that one.

In the following video George Smoot talks about the structure of the universe. When ever I see stuff like that I’m always awestruck by the sheer size. Every person on earth could own lots of galaxies each containing 100 billion stars but we won’t even get to explore them.

It’s strange how an extremely simple video can be so intriguing when it’s ultra slow motion.

This is another example of using an ink-jet type technology in medical science. In this case they are constructing custom made bones within hours!

On a more depressing note, it turns out the oceans are turning to acid much faster than anyone thought they would.

This article on making motor oil from cows manages to combine environmentalism with a sort of “ick” factor.

Sometime back, I published a picture of my cat Amy being silly in a punch bowl. Here are two cats getting into the same jar.

And finally, speaking of cats in strange places, this collection includes both cute ones and ones that seem like they would be dangerous places for the cats to be.

The Golden Hour

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

Last night I ran into town around sunset. I have a small camera I bought a while back. I thought I would carry it around with me more than my big camera. It’s been really gloomy lately around here but as I was driving home the clouds opened up for a minute. The light was really lovely and surreal with a beautiful sky. Unfortunately I had not grabbed my camera on the way out. Here is a list of landscape photography tips and number nine is shoot during the golden hour. The number one tip should be to remember to grab your camera!

Of course, there are places where you could hardly take a bad picture if you tried. The color of the water in this picture is amazing.

This collection of pictures from a park in Namibia includes striking landscapes and animal photos.

And here is another collection of nice animal photos. It does include a shot of two squirrels ‘wrestling’ or that’s what you would say if you kids come in the room.

I’m not sure where this one was shot but the eyes on those big cats are really spooky.

Speaking of cats, here is a silly picture of a house cat playing with its prey. It seemed like my cats were pretty good about just killing what they caught quickly but I guess I remember when they were young trying to get them to just be quick and not draw it out.

High dynamic range pictures are created when you shoot a scene at several different exposures and then use computer software to blend them together. I’ve tried to shoot 3D pictures of people using a single camera and taking two shots but it’s difficult because they can’t move during the process. This collection of HDR photos includes a couple of portraits. It’s strange how often the result looks like a painting.

This article is about using gene therapy to make old dogs young again. I suppose they would come up with one for cats as well. If you read the article though, it sounds like there might be some bad side-effects.

Speaking of dogs, here is a silly dog picture.

I’ve written about wrap rage before but I couldn’t remember where I had read  the statistics on how many people are injured by packaging. According to this article, 6000 Americans go to the emergency room each year due to injuries from opening packages. I have often thought they should let people stand outside Costco and open your packages for tips. Actually the article is about companies who are leading the way on “non hostile” containers.

Here is a silly container picture.

Check out a real life Firefox logo.

This is one of those things you wonder how someone would learn to do. A guy does a flip over a stairway and lands on a skateboard.

Similarly the things these guys do with a soccer ball are pretty amazing.

I wonder what these birds think of this rather unusual cage?

This image brought back memories of my childhood. My uncle would sit down to milk the cows and the cats would line up just like they are in the picture.

I got a laugh out of this one too.

It seems like today most of my links are pictures. Here is a dramatic weather shot.

Here is a shot of Saturn being eclipsed by the moon.

On the right is what a candle looks like if it burns in zero gravity.

And finally, here is a humorous collection of cats with ‘invisible’ objects.

Hardware Prices

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Back in the old days, I used to work with Targa cards. When most of the world was using 8 or 16 colors at a time, these were true color cards, something we take for granted now. The problem was, I’m not sure I remember exactly, but just the graphics card was something like five thousand dollars. When you added in the machine and two monitors, well it amounted to a small fortune.

These days I try not to follow prices too closely because I might be tempted to upgrade. However, I had to do some repair work on my parent’s machine lately and I was amazed. As this article pointed out you can save a lot of money not just on hardware but other stuff too.

I’m used to putting together my own machines. When I built my first machine we really ‘built them’. We soldered and wire wrapped. Now it’s just  a matter of buying a motherboard, memory, graphics card, and drives and slapping them together. I just bought a Terra byte drive, that’s 1000 Gigabytes, for a little over $100!

Not that I do that much anymore which really challenges the hardware except when I render 3D stuff. Here’s a creative image using that technology I wish I had thought of.

Of course, you just can’t beat being in the right place at the right time with a silly cat and a  plain old camera.

I have been to parts of Alabama were the soil is red. I wonder where this was taken.

Also, check out this roll cloud over Missouri.

I was going to try to make it to Cataract Falls this fall when the leaves were nice and try some long exposure photos. Unfortunately the fall was hectic and unusually disappointing as far as color goes. We had some really big wind just as the leaves were starting to turn which took a lot of them down. Also we had pretty dry conditions in late summer and there was a lot of plain brown. Here’s a nice collection of photos of what a good fall really looks like.

Here are some examples of long time exposures including but not limited to waterfalls.

Speaking of time, is it possible someone has finally built a machine which is seeing noise from the fact that time is fuzzy?

If there are a bunch of parallel universes, the odds that you are rich in one of them is pretty high. Too bad you can’t ask yourself for a loan. This article on the subject points out even though it sounds like sci-fi, it could explain a lot including the probabilistic nature of quantum outcomes and an explanation of why time travel would not cause paradoxes. As I once pointed out to a friend; if you believe in an infinite universe, it’s not that big of a step to believe in an infinite number of infinite universes.

O.K. this is a little silly. It’s a tee shirt that lights up to show you when you are near Wi-Fi signals and how strong they are.

This article goes on about how this robot can make facial expressions just like a real human but when you watch the video, you don’t think real, you think creepy.

I have a friend who lives on a lake down south of here. The lake is spring fed and even in the summer it’s comfortable on top but if you go down even a foot or two it can become very cold.  I have often thought about trying to float a pool in it which would hopefully become warmer. Turns out there are a number of floating pools out there in the world already.

Put this on the list of things you don’t want to have done to your car at one of those quick oil change places.

I wasted a fair amount of time last night on this game called RoboKill. I didn’t see a way to save my game. If there is one and I just missed it, someone leave a comment telling me how.

If you have epilepsy or are inclined to seizures you definitely don’t want to click on this optical illusion of a spider where it seems like you keep getting closer but you don’t. It’s so flashy; I can hardly stand to look at it.

Here’s another nice fractal image.

And finally, check out these pictures of a squirrel who thinks it’s just another one of his puppy friends.

Colorful

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Often I don’t get around to writing on Mondays. Then on Tuesday I sit down and discover I’ve collected so many links over the weekend I have too many to go though. Then I find the ones like this one where a young kid tries to be mean throwing a cat into some water only to find the tables have turned. It’s amazing to watch the cat pretty much turning around in mid-air.

I found a number of cool photo galleries this weekend including strangely colored sand beaches, very nice hot spring photos, and 50 strange buildings.

Speaking of strange buildings, this inflatable shelter is an interesting concept for disaster victims.

I don’t know much about the burning man festival other than I’ve heard it’s in the desert in the summer and people don’t wear a lot of clothing. Check out these colossal art structures they create.

Someone was being clever when they put together this picture of ‘Baroque’ Obama.

The people down the road from us have sheep and around the Christmas holiday season they tie large red ribbons around them. I’m not sure the sheep mind and I chuckle every time I see it. This guy went so much further actually dying the sheep a bright red.

Talk about colorful; look at the size of this what-ever-it-is.

This is such a beautiful picture of a beautiful place.

The digital art of Benedict Campbell includes some artistic nudity so if you are at work you may want to hold off.

Also this cute collection of animal pairs does have one non-explicit image of what animal pairs sometimes do.

The Akinator is a site where you think of someone and it asks you a series of questions until it guesses who you are thinking of. When I first went there it didn’t seem to be working so I tried using Internet Explorer and it worked but maybe I just didn’t wait long enough. It’s kind of slow and I didn’t know what to expect.

I got a laugh out of this help wanted ad.

And finally, this collection of cat pictures say sometimes they are dangerous but a lot of them are cute too.

Good Germs vs Bad Germs

Friday, November 7th, 2008

I have mentioned before I try not to buy antibacterial soap but it is getting hard to find regular soap. The reason is the antibacterial agents don’t work in the time range they would be on your hands, there is no evidence they work better, and they stick around  in the environment for a very long time causing damage. The other point is by killing off friendly bacteria you have now created a possible space for the non-friendly kind. This is an interesting article where a hospital used friendly bacteria instead of antiseptics with positive results.

I used to write paint programs and my first big product was software for plastic surgeons so I wasn’t surprised when I saw this piece about an automated system which can make everyone beautiful. I’m also not surprised when they say the process doesn’t work well with familiar faces because they would look too different if you changed basic facial features. Generally when I re-touch photos of people I follow pretty standard processes like lightening their eyes and smoothing their skin but I have found it works best when you overdo it and then blend it back with the original photo. The idea is to get something that looks like you took the best possible picture of someone not that you messed with the photo.

Speaking of beauty, here is a picture of Megan Fox as Wonder Woman.

This was clever, the original Photoshop.

There are tons of online image editors these days. Here is a list of ten with some recommendations.

Dru Blair is an artist who paints remarkably photo-realistic paintings. Here is a breakdown of him painting an image you would swear is a photograph.

Check out these nice pictures of roads. Some of them are really striking.

It turns out the whole universe may be mysteriously moving in the same direction.

This is a pretty cool photo of the robot Dextre at work on the space station.

This article talks about how to deal with ‘body glitches’. My favorite cure for hiccups was to bite into a lemon. I haven’t had them for a long time now but I got to the point where I could get rid of them by merely thinking about biting a lemon. Hmm, the site may be down at the moment.

Any idea what this mysterious piece of metal is?

What could be cuter than a puppy cam?

My cats loved boxes but generally ones which were large enough for them to get in. This cat does finally manage though.

And finally, if you read this blog you have seen some of these pictures before but here is a collection of cute small animal photos.

Furniture

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Now that we have finally finished painting, we are thinking about buying furniture. We have few pieces of furniture we have actually purchased. It seems most of our lives someone we knew wanted to dump a couch, chair, or table which was in reasonable condition. Not so this time, but with the economy melting down maybe now isn’t the best time. Does this chair somehow look sad to you?

Here are some pretty creative tables.

I can see how you would train the top of this chair but I’m not clear on how the bottom would be done.

This guy offers a tutorial on carving pumpkins. Check out the predator pumpkin. I once carved a pumpkin using a Dremel but he has some serious talent.

Speaking of pumpkins, watch out for the baby eating variety.

Not pumpkins but still sculpture these garden works of art are very surreal.

Everyone likes a good treasure story.

A big fish story is one thing but man eating catfish?

The typewriter vs computer.

And finally here is a whole collection of funny animal pictures. My favorite is the kitten in the cup holder.

Robot Painters

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

We are painting the living room. We’ve gotten to the point where you look at it and decide whether to do another coat or it’s good enough and time to move on to another room. We have a lot of house plants and it won’t be too long before we have to get them inside. As I work, I can’t help but think how I would design a robot to paint a room. I found a couple of painting robots but they aren’t the kind that paints a house. This one ‘Action Jackson‘ mimics Jackson Pollock’s style of painting. This site had a number of examples including a simple one you could build.

Speaking of different ways of creating art, here is a video of what happens when you pour salt on a speaker.

Google is celebrating their tenth anniversary by offering ten million dollars for a world changing idea.

Canon has a new camera.

Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR camera features a 21.1-megapixel full frame 24 x 36mm CMOS sensor, DIGIC 4 imaging processor and significantly lower noise, with an expanded sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 25,600.

It does full HD video too, and my wife says “No, you can’t have one”. Someday it will be nice to have something that’s not only very high resolution but so fast you can shoot in any natural light.

I thought these videos of the most amazing UFO sightings were intriguing but the camera work could have been so much better. The second one is interesting because you see the movement.

Here is something you also don’t see everyday. It’s a video of a crab riding a jellyfish.

My guess is most Americans who read my blog are familiar with both nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

I got a laugh out of some of these crazy bikes.

And finally, here is your silly animal picture.

Future Shock

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

I read this article at InfoWorld on 10 future technologies which may be available in ten years. Number 8 is a little scary. I laughed at number 3. Everything works and you don’t have to wait. Some times I sit down to do something on my computer and by the time it boots and everything asks me if I want to upgrade it, I’ve forgotten what it was I was going to do in the first place. I guess I have thought about the idea of being able to capture all of your life and record it somehow. As much as it would be nice to be able to create a high resolution image of something beautiful you saw when you didn’t have your camera. I often think how strange it would be now to be a kid and have something stupid you did being posted to YouTube.

The idea of using a space elevator has been around for a long time. This article points out carbon nanotubes would only have to be 4 times stronger than they are now to accomplish that. This is one technology I thought was well off into the future but if you believe the article, the Japanese are planning to build one.

I’ve often felt like there should be a way to go play golf on an extremely hot day and stay cool somehow, especially if you rented a cart. This device sounds like the only real difference between it and sticking you hands in cold water is that it draws a vacuum on your palms to speed up the process. The part where the guy goes from 180 pull-ups to 616 in six weeks is pretty amazing.

First there was dark energy, then dark matter, now dark flow. Is there a cosmic vacuum cleaner sucking up the universe?

This is an ad for condoms which has an interactive visualization of the “beer goggle” effect.

I thought this came out kind of cool. A guy decorates his basement by drawing on the walls with a Sharpie.

Probably not safe for work, but if you can cross view, check out these photos from a bikini contest. If you want to learn to cross view, see my tutorial here.

TV on the web is really evolving. Now at Hulu you can watch shows which have not premiered on TV yet.

And finally, here is your funny animal picture.