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Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

New Hardware

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

I haven’t been posting this week because I needed to buy the parts for a new computer. This is probably the longest I have ever gone without replacing one. Except for 3D rendering, the machines I have are fast enough for everything I do. I found I was out of touch with what has been going on in hardware and had to do some studying including a search on a number of terms to find out what they mean. The parts are on their way and next week I should be able to put it together. It should be blindingly fast compared to my old hardware. We’ll see.

Last I checked it had climbed up to a warm -4 degrees F out there today. I’m not sure I even want to step out for the mail. It’s probably just junk mail anyway. This site starts out with snowflake pictures but for a real treat, scroll down to the frost and ice images.

Here is another photo of a ship encased in ice.

I didn’t realize large circular disks of spinning ice would form in rivers.

Here is yet another cool ice photo.

Brrrr, after that I had to throw in a picture of someplace warm.

And now really hot; check out this image of a truck out running a volcanic blast.

I mentioned Megan Fox once a long time ago in one post, yet she shows up as the top search string in my stats for my blog month after month. This is for the Megan Fox fans out there.

It’s a little heavy on the science but this article entitled “Our world may be a giant hologram” is a pretty interesting read. I guess it wouldn’t surprise me if space-time was quantized, everything else is.

If it hurt your head to read that last link, take a moment to gaze at this cute shot of a mouse riding on the back of a frog.

This past Christmas I was trying to teach my nephew to juggle and realized I hadn’t done it for long enough I needed practice. When my friend Matt sends me a link and tells me to turn up my speakers I’m naturally a little cautious after some of the links he has sent me around Halloween. The following video is pretty good example of someone juggling to music. Definitely turn up your speakers.

While I’m writing I’m listening to NASA TV. There was an announcement today they found methane on Mars which may be being generated by some sort of life.

When I realized a virus was basically a chemical that could take over a cell, the line between what is alive and not seemed to blur for me. This article show that the difference between what is alive and what is chemistry can be very subtle.

Speaking of odd life forms, here are some very strange creatures, and more strange creatures.

This cat has an interesting way of using the stairs.

Check out this slo-mo video of a water drop hitting fine sand.

I got a laugh out of this.
fail owned pwned pictures

These images of ‘light pillars‘ are both strange and beautiful.

That is one big cat!

This is one elaborate cake!

This is a crazy staircase!

This video of a UFO would be fairly easy to fake but if it’s real, it’s pretty amazing.

Here is another funny sign.

If you read my blog, you know I end with some cute animal pictures. Since I haven’t posted in a while, I have a few for you. Here are squirrels, bears, and sleepy animals.

Germs

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

I’ve been fighting a cold this week. As colds go it’s not a particularly bad one. It is enough to make it difficult to think and write though so forgive me if this post is particularly rambling. I do have some good stuff to share with you. If you have read my blog before you know I’m no fan of antibacterial soap because it’s bad for the environment and doesn’t work better than regular soap. I didn’t realize regular soap doesn’t kill germs it just helps rinse them off you hands. This list of 10 germ myths also has some other interesting facts. I tend to keep two sponges for washing dishes. I alternate them letting one dry out but maybe I should microwave them.

I’m not sure I have ever seen ice form in ribbons. The link at the bottom goes to some interesting photos too.

Today would probably be a good day to blow bubbles and watch them freeze. On the other hand, it’s really windy out there.

Check out these cool cloud pictures.

For some reason these spectacular pictures of winter’s beauty don’t change the fact I wish it were summer.

Here is one more cool winter shot of a train blasting through snow.

As the new year came in there were lots of top ‘whatever’ lists on the internet. I liked this one. The best 50 astronomy pictures of 2008.

If that didn’t make you feel small, the following video shows the size of the largest star compared with our sun.

This is an example of what a talented carver can do with a watermelon.

Dolphins in Australia use sponges to protect their noses while poking around on the sea floor. It’s interesting only the females do it. Maybe the males don’t want to look wimpy.

This is a video of an aluminum block falling over very slowly in very strong magnetic field.

Here is an explanation for why that happens.

These are some nice pictures of birds (and a clever cat) fishing.

And finally, if giraffes weren’t vegetarian this picture would have a very different meaning.

Technology

Monday, December 29th, 2008

I think it’s somewhat ironic humans could create a bomb that operated using fusion in 1952 but to use it to generate power always seems to be 20 years away. There are so many methods, normally very high tech to attempt to fuse light elements; I was pleasantly surprised when I read this article. From the article “Somebody described it as a thermonuclear diesel engine,” but actually I would call it a thermonuclear steam engine. What an amazingly low tech approach to the problem! The other thing is these guys are talking about producing clean cheap power for a paltry $50 million. That’s million not billion. Compare that to the type of money the government is currently throwing around in the financial markets!

Not that there aren’t people making progress or at least doing experiments with more sophisticated technology. I just think the contrast is pretty amazing when you compare the methods being used in the above approach with this experiment.

Speaking of technology, this is a chart of the difference between how casino machines and electronic voting machines are regulated. I think the chart speaks for itself.

This looks very low tech.

This is a great use of low technology. A professor has produced a set of eyeglasses for the world’s poor. They use water pressure to adjust the thickness of the lenses.

It seems like one of the side effects of technology is it gets easier and easier for someone to get you in trouble for something you did not do. In this link, a group of college students reproduce the license plate of someone they have a grudge against. They tape the plate over their own and drive fast through intersections with speed cameras.

This is kind of slick. If you want to download a youtube video to watch later, put the word kick before the address and there you go.

There isn’t much story accompanying this series of cat rescue pictures. I was left wondering how the cat got in there in the first place.

I’ve never seen a purple squirrel, I never hope to see one…

Speaking of strange creatures, at about 30 seconds into this video, the shark extends its jaws in a manner eerily similar to the alien in the movie of the same name.

What is up with this chicken?

This is just a nice bridge picture.

Here are some very cool nature pictures.

Pushing your face into powdery snow has to be cold, but the results can be very artistic.

And finally, I’m not sure if these are chipmunks or baby squirrels but it’s a cute picture.

Dream Machine

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

I read this article about scientists developing a machine that can produce images from your dreams with some skepticism. I guess it’s one of those things you would have to experience to believe. I had the thought if they could do that then why couldn’t they make a machine that allows you to render an image and all you have to do is imagine it.

The biggest full moon of the year occurs on Dec. 12th.

A Dyson sphere is where an advanced civilization has built a sphere completely encompassing a star to optimize solar energy collection. This article is about trying to detect them. If a civilization were advanced enough to actually build one of those things, they might also have the technology to keep even low level infrared energy from escaping.

I posted some wallpaper sources recently. Here is another one which is mostly holiday pet pictures. Then again I can’t read anything there so maybe that is just a section.

As if dressing up your poor animal isn’t bad enough, these people actually painted their cats. I wonder what type of paint you would use given the first thing they would do is try to clean themselves off.

I got a chuckle out of this story about a real life cat burglar who steals fuzzy toys from the neighbors. It reminded me of one a while back where a cat collected gloves and mittens.

This is another one of those collections of fantasy sci-fi like creations.

This is a pretty funny shot.

This one’s just pretty.

I’ve never actually seen lenticular clouds, just pictures. Then again I haven’t spent much time near any large mountains.

And finally, here is a collection of photos of cats sleeping in unusual places.

Wallpapers and Other Pictures

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

Every year I design a new holiday card. Some of them are in my galleries. Usually I try to do something in 3D. Last year I didn’t and at least one person mentioned they were disappointed. Here it is getting well into the month and I’m struggling with coming up with a concept. So, I have been looking at a lot of images on the web.

This site has a lot of nice desktop wallpapers. A lot of the recent ones are holiday oriented.

Also, a friend of mine sent me this link to another site that has a lot of free wallpapers.

Here is a nice gallery of snowflake pictures. There is also a chart at the end explaining what type of flakes form under what conditions.

These are just nice creative photos.

Then there is the opposite. From images which are not photoshopped to some that are extremely photoshopped.

These are just being in the right spot at the right moment.

This one is just funny.

Check out this giant storm.

This is a cool shot of the space shuttle lifting off.

Here are some funny tee shirt illustrations.

And finally, yeah you guessed it, a bunch of cute animal 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!

Magicians and Pickpockets

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This article at Scientific American on how magicians and pickpockets trick your brain mentioned a couple of videos. Before you read the article, if you haven’t seen the video where you are supposed to count the number of times a basketball is passed between people wearing white shirts I wrote about it in this post.

I’m pretty sure I’ve linked to another one of the videos they mention before but it’s worth re-posting below.

It’s interesting in the article when they point out simply moving your hand in a curved or straight manner causes a different perception on the part of the viewer.

Of course, it’s nature who presents the grandest illusion of them all. This article is rather strong in physics content but the gist of it is summed up in the ending paragraph. All reality is virtual.

Speaking of physics, apparently there is an annual contest in Delaware to see who can build a device that can throw a pumpkin the farthest. According to this, it will be televised on the Science channel on Thanksgiving. After reading that I’m wondering what they meant by “growing special, aerodynamic pumpkins”.

Could solving the worlds energy needs be as simple as putting giant pipes in the ocean? I guess when it’s that big, it’s not simple.

After reading this article on why McDonald’s fries taste so good, I was reminded of the time I had to make artificial banana flavoring in chemistry. I spilled a little on my notebook and it stunk for months. All that chemistry and we still can’t seem to find frozen food we like.

Time magazine picks the best inventions of 2008. I was amused to see Hulu on the list. I have to admit I have gotten so used to it already I find it frustrating I can’t watch the shows I want at CBS and the Discovery channel sites. Also, I don’t know if it’s my setup or what but it’s not unusual for me to lose my data stream while watching a show online at ABC and have to try to find where I was. It’s funny you have to try to figure out which episode you saw last or want to see next.

On the subject of videos, I had seen some of these amazing animal videos before but not the one of the polar bears playing with dogs. I can’t imagine having a hippo around the house.

I got a chuckle out of this silly cat picture.

I don’t remember any archery at the bowling alley I went to as a kid.

The most dangerous roads in the world look pretty dangerous.

This house would be nice for the solitude but if would be tough when you needed groceries.

Here is a nice collection of beautiful landscape photos.

This rather bizarre article about Tennessee universities’ intention to spend 9.5 million dollars on anti-piracy measures made me wonder if it would just be cheaper for the university to buy content for their students.

These animal pictures are pretty nice, but it’s the landscape shot that really impressed me.

The photos of this Japanese winter light show featuring 4.5 million LEDs just gives you a taste of how cool it would be to actually be there.

And finally, we often joked getting one of those robot vacuum cleaners would scare our cats but obviously this one seems to enjoy it.

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.

Why We Vote On Tuesday

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I guess I always wondered why we vote on Tuesdays. In the old days you traveled to the county seat on Monday, voted on Tuesday and traveled home on Wednesday. The article also points out in the countries with high voter turnout, they vote on the weekend.

This is strange. John McCain and Tina Fey on the cover of Life Magazine in 2004.

It’s pretty depressing but this site shows the national debt scaled to match the median income of around $50,000 a year and who we owe.

This list of odd inventions includes some pretty humorous ones. The stair drawers looked useful to me.

Years ago I bought a book on Isle Royale which is the largest natural island in Lake Superior. We have still never made it there. I thought it was amusing you could camp on an island on a lake on an island on a lake. This site takes that idea and expands on it.

Check out this amazing basketball shot.

A spectrometer is a device that analyzes light. This is a pretty clever way to build one using a cardboard box and a CD.

This is one of those doodling programs where you can draw abstract pictures. It has more variations than some of the other ones I’ve seen.

I’ve got to try this to see if it really works. You should at least watch the end of it.

How to Turn “water” into Balls

One time we had a party and everyone created a clay creature. We made a really short and simple claymation. This claymation of a chess game must have taken a very long time to do.

In this optical illusion you are supposed to see the dancer turn either clockwise or counterclockwise depending on whether the right or left half of your brain is the dominate one. I can pretty much make myself see it either way.

I got a laugh out of this.

Turn your name into a face. I wonder what algorithm it uses.

Check out this nice killer whale shot.

My neighbor takes his dog to the golf course with him. She is the white one in my 2D art section. She is usually pretty well behaved but one time we were out several holes behind them. She saw us and went racing across the course to come see us. This is a story about a dog who likes to eat golf balls.

Here is another funny dog photo.

And finally, these two cats sure like to talk.