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Archive for the 'Home Construction' Category

The Lost Week

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

After putting together my computer this week I was left with the decision whether to update my old drive or do a clean install and set it up from scratch. I chose the latter and what a pain it has been. You just want to sit down with your shiny new hardware and do something but instead it’s an endless series of installs and reboots. On top of that, the connector on my old keyboard got loose I had to replace it. This is the first time I have tried to type very much on my new one and it’s going to take getting used to.

Last week someone left a comment asking if I had tried the Nick Bounty games at Pinhead Games. Saturday we spent a lot of time doing things like dealing with frozen water pipes. Luckily they weren’t damaged. So it was nice to kick back on Sunday and play some games. The Nick Bounty series are classic adventure games with full voice acting and the look, talk, get, etc. verb set. One thing I was reminded of when playing them was although choosing a verb as opposed to just clicking on an object is more work, in the old adventure games as well as these, adding the extra step provides a way to inject more (often silly) humor into them. The plot lines were pretty silly too but that is the point to playing them I suppose. I did laugh at some of the jokes and there is a pretty funny scene in the second game where everything is dark and the voice actor describes an outrageous scene to you.

I’ve been writing this blog long enough I have gotten to the point where it is hard to remember whether I have already mentioned something or not. I guess if it’s a good thing it’s worth mentioning again. That’s the way I felt about this video of people doing maintenance on high voltage cables. I suppose you probably get used to it but there’s no way I would get out there.

I know I’ve mentioned this alloy before, I’m pretty sure I linked to this video. It’s also known as muscle wire because it is not only a shape-memory alloy but it also shrinks when heated so you can make things move by running current through it.


More Science experiments at 5min.com

Check out these awesome ice storm photos.

Speaking of winter, that’s a lot of snow!

Last night we watched Resident Evil- Degeneration. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the other Resident Evil films but I wanted to see it because it is computer generated. It’s funny how not-quite-real computer generated people look creepy. This article at New Scientist talks about that and how machines are coming closer to people in other ways like talking and playing music.

According to this article the next group of people to be put out of jobs by technology will be call center workers.

I thought this was kind of interesting; this guy was an expert at putting things in bottles.

If you’re not a programmer you probably have never heard the phrase “That’s not a bug, it’s a feature“.

It’s kind of fuzzy but this is what meteors look like from space.

This is what a hermit crab in a glass shell looks like.

Here are some long time exposure photos. The one of the fireworks is particularly cool.

If you are prone to seizures you probably don’t want to follow this link. Here are more examples of what I call wiggle vision 3D photos. The author calls them lenticulations. It kind of makes my head hurt to look at them. I thought the one of the dog (14) was the best one.

I suppose you could call lenticular clouds lenticulations. This one looks a lot less like a UFO than others I’ve seen.

How would you like to live in a house made of paper that costs 5000 dollars? By the way, 36 square meters is 387.5 square feet.

Here are some large computer generated fantasy landscapes.

This is a pretty cool picture of a drop of seawater and what is inside.

I thought this was kind of funny. A bank made a mistake and deposited a bunch of money in a couple’s account. They claimed they didn’t notice. This actually happened to a friend of mine, but he was smart enough not to try to keep it.

This is just a nice sunset picture.

My fingers hurt from this new keyboard. Here is your funny animal picture of happy seals.

Still Painting

Monday, October 13th, 2008

It seems like I’ll never get done painting this place. It looks like the cold weather moves in after the weekend so it’s time to wrap it up. I don’t really remember being taught to paint. I’m pretty sure my father must have done it at some point. Since the internet is so full of ‘how to’ videos I decided to look at some and see if I can learn anything. I didn’t use Sherwin Williams’ paint but I learned they have a ceiling paint called Visible Solutions. It goes on violet and then dries bright white so you don’t miss a spot. I thought that sounded pretty clever.

I’ve gotten to the final level on Fantastic Contraption. After you finish a level, you can see how other people solved it. It can be humbling to spend hours building something only to see someone else did it with two motors and a stick. I did get a 4 out of 5 rating on my solution to the second to last level and I didn’t see any solutions that seemed much simpler. Here is a link to it but if you haven’t solved the level called “Unpossible’, you may not want to look at it yet.

I had to laugh at this time lapse sequence of someone trying to sleep. It reminded me of my cat Amy. After about 5 hours, there is no way she is going to let you  sleep.

Speaking of cats, check out this cat oriented Japanese house design.

I’ve written about TV a lot lately. Flexible displays, laser TV, and now finally we might eventually get holographic television.

Good grief, exploding pumpkins!

I have a bunch of links to interesting photos I built up over the weekend. We have…

Jumping dolphins.

Living in-style on the sea.

Microwaving a CD, then putting it on a Tesla coil.

Earth houses.

Freezing time.

And also, some very cool pictures of the sun.

Having been stung over a hundred times TWICE, this picture of a massive yellow jacket nest totally creeps me out!

This is good for a laugh. It’s worth the extra $3.05.

And finally, here are some cute pictures of a chimp with its tiger pals.

Labor Day

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

I can’t believe Labor Day weekend is upon us already! The summers just go by so fast and the winters drag on forever. Last year we had a really late frost so maybe we will have a lot of good weather to come. I’m already pretty much in ‘goof-off’ mode for the holiday but I thought I’d post a few links for you.

This is a video of extreme base jumping. These guys put on winged suits and fly like flying squirrels. It’s awesome to watch!

Is it real or photo editing? A while back I linked to the first picture in this article figuring it’s probably not real. The second and third pictures are a different cat.  Can cats grow wings?

Even if you don’t care about the science behind these Noctilucent clouds, scroll down to the second picture which is very cool.

From PC Magazine a list of the top 100 undiscovered websites. No matter what you are into, there is probably one you will find interesting.

Kids these days will make a solar cell out of about anything!

I thought these tiny houses look kind of cool but they are kind of pricey for being so small.

And finally I have two cute animal links for you today. One is this collection of cat and dog friends, the other is a story of a baby chipmunk rescue.

No Comment

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I’ve changed the settings on this blog so you have to log in to post a comment. Sorry, I’ve been overrun by spammers lately and I’m tired of dealing with it. You people aren’t real talkative anyway. Maybe I’ll figure out another way to deal with it, but in the meantime, the comments are disabled.

The other day I mentioned Shapeways where you can get 3D models printed into real plastic objects. I spent some time looking over their site recently trying to figure out how it works and coming up with ideas on things to make. There is a gallery of models people have submitted. They are also coming up with simple objects you can modify through their interface and have made but 3D modeling is somewhat complex so I imagine this is difficult for them. Right now the objects you can make that way are pretty limited.

This article at Wired pointed out the plastic isn’t for kids. I hadn’t thought about that. While reading through the forums I ran across this link where a guy made a mold for chocolate monkey heads. He was working in a lab that had a 3D printer and didn’t use Shapeways, but the process would be about the same. I just recently bought one of those FoodSaver systems to preserve the heaping loads of vegetables we are getting and it had occurred to me the vacuum system might come in handy for molding something. He uses it to remove the bubbles from the silicone prior to pouring the mold.

The FoodSaver thing is kind of cool but a little more difficult to operate than I expected. I liked some of the unusual suggestions people had for using it. One was to seal your paint brush instead of cleaning it if you were going to continue painting the same color anyway. They also give you a covered dish which you can use to marinate meat using the vacuum. That didn’t occur to me either.

I was reading about the water cube at the Olympics and how it’s made of this amazing material called ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene). This article talks about how strong, lightweight, and transparent it is. It sounds really great and then at the end they say it’s unlikely to be used in residential projects because the engineering is too sophisticated. It sounds like the perfect material for a home greenhouse. How bad can the engineering be?

I liked this article about building things by shaping trees. I wish I had more room in my yard to try something like it. Plants are really remarkable in their ability to self assemble into useful things. With all the genetic engineering going on you wonder how extreme it could get. I mean you could possibly encode the genes for these things to shape themselves without human guidance.

Imagine two dollar a gallon carbon neutral gasoline produced from garbage and non-food biomass. Given the military is the largest consumer of fuel in the U.S. and the security gains from being able to produce it domestically, I would think they would be highly interested in seeing this technology pushed forward as quickly as possible.

Type a command and this dog will do tricks. Besides the basic stuff I couldn’t think of much to make it do. Be sure to try “kiss”.

And finally, yes another silly cat picture.

The Mad Scientists’ Club

Friday, August 8th, 2008

This article about a “dinosaur-like’ creature being spotted in Papua New Guinea reminded me of a book I read as a kid called The Mad Scientists’ Club. I Googled the title and was surprised to find the author’s son had a web site and the book is still in print. The publisher Purple House Press was apparently created to publish books people enjoyed as children which were out of print. Anyway, the story was The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry Lake in which a bunch of kids build a monster and mount it on a boat. My wife said she remembered seeing a movie about it and according to this article at Wikipedia it was a two part story on the Wonderful World of Disney entitled “The Strange Monster of Strawberry Cove”.

It also reminded me to visit a site I hadn’t been to in a while called Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories where they have instruction on how to build some strange things like a cardboard cat chaise and a 3D printer that fuses sugar. That persistence of vision thing they had on there reminded me of something I built with a friend of mine when we were kids. It was a florescent string on a motor and it gave the appearance of a semi-solid object you could deform with your hands under a black light.

Speaking of mad scientists, I’ve been reading all these weird things about the Large Hadron Collider causing the end of the world by creating black holes or something. Never mind cosmic rays hit the upper atmosphere with the same amount of power every day. Anyway, here is one that I really found amusing. The LHC will be shutdown before it starts by ripples from the future.

I thought this picture of a bridge that becomes a tunnel was kind of interesting.

Here is another photo I liked of fire and water.

How about a house made out of Styrofoam? I was thinking at least if it fell on you it wouldn’t hurt but according to the article, the panels are 175 lbs each, so maybe not.

How about a mirror made out of wood? You really have to watch the video on this one to appreciate it. It also gives you a close up so you can see how it works. Very cool!

And finally, oh you know I always end with a cute animal picture.

Can’t Find A Title

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

I’m pretty mad at myself today. We are supposed to finally get a new car tomorrow. I decided to trade in my old van because it’s running rough and pretty much shot. I don’t have a lot of important papers. I keep them in a briefcase so when it looks like we are going to be hit by a tornado I grab it and go to the basement. The title isn’t in the briefcase. It’s not like there is a second place to look because that is where it should be. I looked anyway. We have mountains of paper around this house. It’s hopeless.

Dan wrote: “I assume you will be going with a Prius or some other Hybrid? ”

I plan on writing a post about the whole car buying ordeal after we finally have it. Dan and I used to work together. He knows I’m 6 foot 6 inches tall and would never fit in a Prius.

Here is a link about a car that runs on compressed air and I’m guessing I would never fit in it either. I know it’s silly but you just picture a car making flatulence sounds while zooming down the road like an untied balloon. I remember seeing something on TV once where a guy in a very cold country built a motorcycle that ran on compressed air. He put water in propane tanks and when it froze, it expanded and pressurized the tanks.

My wife is in Denver again. From her description, her flight out was filled with screaming young children and crying babies. I guess it took a really long time to pick up her rental car. When she finally got a chance to relax and get some food, she went to a Mexican restaurant. They had a live band walking around and the horn section stood right behind her.

She saw a local story about Bishop Castle and told me I should look it up. Here is the home page. I was expecting something more traditional but it is quite stunning.

This is a pretty funny video. It’s supposed to be what happens when you put a cell phone in a microwave but actually it’s some well done special effects.

I didn’t realize there were poisonous caterpillars. Here is a story about a woman who died after stepping on several of them while barefoot. If I ever go to Peru, I think I’ll keep my shoes on.

Check out these pictures of canyons on Mars.

And finally, here are some pictures of three cute white lion cubs.

The End Of The World As We Know It?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

You have to wonder what the mood would be like at a Global Catastrophic Risk Conference. I suppose mostly somber with a few people partying like it’s the end of the world. This article at CNN quotes some of the things Ray Kurzweil said I’ve linked to before. Some of the comments are interesting. I have often thought people will infuse themselves with artificial blood just because it makes them feel better. The idea you could spend hours under water hadn’t occurred to me. I don’t see how the economy could function once an intelligent machine could surpass a human. Companies wouldn’t bother paying enhanced people if they could get the same work done without the brain part. You would end up with some tiny enhanced rich part of humanity and a whole lot of poor people. I suppose it’s possible everything would become really cheap but if you have no income it wouldn’t matter.

Speaking of the future, this article about fusion is encouraging. If we are all going to be super humans we are going to need a whole lot of energy.

I’ve always thought we should have cars that can travel short distances where we could then link up to a rail system which not only guides the car but also provides the power. Finally someone is building something which is like that. It’s not surprising a guy who worked in the roller coaster industry had the idea.

I’m curious about the game Spore. I would really like to see what the code looks like for the game. Here is an article about it. You can download a free version of the creature creator here.

Living in a garbage truck doesn’t strike you as pleasant, unless it was this one.

Some of these houses made from bottles look pretty cool. I wonder what you do if you break one.

After reading this article about exotic fruits I was really wishing I could taste them.

And finally, this isn’t normally what you think of when you hear the term ‘food fight‘.

More Storms

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Sorry this post is so short but we have another big storm coming and I need to run some errands. Here are just a handful of links.

Speaking of storms, here are some storm photos shot in Nebraska.

Scroll down a bit to see two subjects on this blog dealing with printing buildings. According to them it would be five times cheaper. With all the fancy things they can do with concrete these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if they could make them look like traditional houses for not much more.

One time I built a 3D scanner using a video camera, an aquarium, and some food coloring. We also experimented with moving lights around an object and averaging the pictures together. This is much cooler! By sending light though grids and doing a lot of processing, scientists have managed to build a microscope which can get around the limitation of light microscopy. The fact that you can’t resolve objects smaller than the wavelength of the light you are using. Check out the video.

O.K. this is just silly fun. Cornstarch is strange stuff. Mixed with the right amount of water it’s a non-Newtonian fluid. You can roll it into a ball in your hand and when you stop applying pressure it melts. Here someone decided to make a video where they pour it into a speaker and vibrate it at different frequencies.

And finally, in Japan they decided watermelons would fit in the fridge better if they were square.

Inflatable Cars?

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Yeah, you read that right. Just recently I joked about the nerf car of the future. A company called XP vehicles is planning on selling a car made from the same materials used to protect the Mars rovers when they landed. They also have a power system which would allow the car to travel an astonishing 2,500 miles on a single charge. Here is an article about it. Here is the link to the company.

We went car shopping yesterday. What a disappointment! My legs are so long there was only one I would have even thought about driving, and it had adjustable pedals, and a telescoping steering wheel. I’ve been doing some research and the cars with the most leg room are the Nissan Maxima (44.8 inches), the Scion XB (45.3 inches), and a Lexus which I can’t afford. The Scion XB is a really boxy looking thing but it gets good mileage.

I thought this was kind of interesting. It’s a list of the top ten scientists killed or injured by their experiments. Even a long time ago you would have thought a chemist would know not to taste his experiments.

In the first steps to us becoming cyborgs London scientists are developing artificial veins and arteries.

It seems like 3D displays are finally starting to become reality. I wonder how long before they are affordable? Here is one called the HoloVizio.

The Casimir effect is an attraction between two plates that essentially arises from nothing. It really only takes place at extremely close distances but is a problem for people working in nanotechnology. Now a group of scientist claim to have the ability to reverse that force allowing for levitation. Here is the article although it doesn’t explain it much. When do we get our flying skateboards?

Quite some time ago I posted about a machine called RepRap. It’s a 3D printing machine which could duplicate itself. Well it finally has and you can now buy the electronics for it. Apparently if you want to buy the parts for the whole thing you will have to wait until Christmas.

Here is a cool picture of water droplets.

Green housing is finally going prefab.

There is a narrow space between my garage and our privacy fence. On cool days we sometimes sit on a wooden table back there when the sun is just right. Last fall I was back there and I saw one of these creatures. I took some pictures of it but I just didn’t have the lens to capture it. Here are some more photos of crab and other interesting spiders. This one is blue.

Dan sent me this link; Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green. I think it’s ironic the Chinese are doing so much to advance sustainable living. But when you hear about all the major pollution disasters they have, it makes sense. I suppose if I had kids it would make sense to try to buy up cheap land somewhere where it’s very cold (for now). New nuclear plant designs are really much safer than the old ones in terms of melting down. As far as the waste, maybe we will just have to deal with it. I still think solar power will become so cheap so fast no one will bother generating power any other way.

Check out this amazing picture of sting ray migration.

And finally, I will leave you with this nice collection of flower pictures.

Spaces

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

The big space news on Sunday was that the Phoenix had landed on Mars. I suppose it’s not that much of a surprise the first photos were not what was expected. Apparently the size of the polygon patterns in the soil is related to the depth of the ice.

Speaking of Mars, this article talks about making a one way trip with soldiers. They point out soldiers take great risks all the time and even carry out “suicide missions”.

“Here is an idea: Send battle-hardened, strong-minded soldiers and marines on the long trips into space. We are conditioned to live with the bare minimal (of) life’s necessities and are trained to be prepared for … the worst conditions that any environment could throw at us. Hell, me and my men will go, set up a colony somewhere and await colonists to arrive.

Speaking of space, when your toilet acts up, it’s not like you can just step outside to go. On the international space station, toilet problems are pretty serious.

This is odd. I didn’t realize tornadoes could form on the sun.

This TED talks video contains strong language. He uses the F-word several times so be warned. However, James Howard Kunstler is quite passionate about the design of public spaces and the talk is pretty entertaining. He does have a rather pessimistic view of our energy future and his idea is to plan cities accordingly. His criticisms of suburbia are right on the mark I think.

If I seem fascinated by low cost housing it’s probably because I’m thinking I fooled around with too many businesses which didn’t make it, and should have been planning for retirement sooner. Here are a bunch of buildings made from cargo containers. They are not what you might imagine they would look like.

Now, THAT’S a mushroom!

Now, THOSE are horns!

I remember hearing about mysterious crystal skulls years ago. Now the latest Indiana Jones movie is about them. According to this they are fakes.

And finally, check out this tiny horse.