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Archive for the 'computing' 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.

It’s a Wonderful Life

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

I’ve seen the movie It’s a Wonderful Life a zillion times. I happened to catch the second half of it the other day. In light of recent events, the film took on a whole different meaning. I sat there giggling at the irony. Here is the film online. Today George Bailey would sell balloon mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them and package the loans as derivatives. Instead of $8000, it would be a trillion dollar bailout.  Bank examiners, what a quaint idea! Here is the movie in thirty seconds done by animated bunnies.

If you are not familiar with the Antikythera mechanism, it was a device of astounding technology for it’s time. You have to wonder how it was possible for the technology to disappear. Not just the technology of the way the device worked but the ability to build it. It took over a thousand years before similar gear technology appeared again.  I can’t help but think if it wasn’t lost in time we would be living like the Jetson’s now. This article has some interesting background on the device. Below is a video of a recreation of it and how it worked.

I’m not sure how much faith I have in this story but maybe they invented Swiss watches a lot earlier too. There is nothing like finding one in a 400 year old tomb. It must have been a careless time traveler!

Have you had enough? Check out these stories of eight metal objects. At least the other ‘finds’ were dated to a time when humans were around. These reminded me of a sci-fi story where they would send prisoners back in time so far they wouldn’t be able to influence the future.

I tend to step outside for a minute before I write to clear my head. We got some freezing rain last night. Not enough to damage things and not enough to make it pretty, just enough on top of a small layer of snow to make a really large crunching sound when you walk.  Here is why even looking at this lovely nature picture could improve your memory and attention. Here is another nice nature shot and here are some real ice storm photos.

Besides the sliding track I use to create 3D pictures I wrote about here, I’ve also built a macro lens but I need to redo it to fit my digital camera. Here are some pretty nice do-it-yourself photography tools. I should try the Pringles can tube for my macro.  They mention using a scanner which is how I produced this image. The resulting image is so large, I have yet to see it printed at full resolution. Some day I’d like to see an eight foot tall print of it.

You have to love a silly dog photo.

If you are at work, this next bit contains an image of a woman in a seriously small bikini. It’s some cool gadgets for winter fun. We didn’t have snowball guns when I was a kid.

Prepare to be grossed out in this fascinating look at zombie animals and the parasites that control them.

I have been following the story of Blacklight power for some time now. I’m becoming convinced these people have found a way to generate power in a way that violates the laws of physics as we know them. They have a theory but personally I don’t think it’s correct. Here is some recent news about them. Ha! Maybe it works but it has the side effect of sending metal objects back in time.

Remember Teddy Ruxpin? Check out this robot teddy. The video is not very good. There is something really bizarre about seeing it with its skin off. I’m just waiting for it to grab a gun and start looking for Sarah Conner.

As you watch this video where guys put the equivalent of giant caps on the ends of hammers and slam them into the ground, you have to think, what could possibly go wrong?

And finally, here is your funny cat photo.

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.

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.

Follow Up

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Last spring two wild kittens showed up in our driveway. With our neighbor’s help, we found a home for them but not before we got a chance to get them to adapt to humans. I wrote about it in this post and this post. We learned they are growing up strong and happy and I have a picture. They sure have grown!

Jack and Jill look happy

Jack and Jill look happy

I’m not sure I ever posted about this word game where they donate rice for every answer you get right. I may have played it before I started blogging. According to this they have surpassed their billionth grain of rice.

This looks pretty fun but you would need a really large place to fly it. It’s basically like being tied to a small blimp and strapping on wings to direct it for you own personal airship.

This example of using nanotube sheets as speakers is exactly the kind of technological advance which will produce products in the future you can’t imagine. It’s interesting they can use heat instead of motion to make sound.

I thought this ‘fountain of youth‘ drug sounded really promising but I had to laugh at this quote.

“The search for anti-frailty medications has become increasingly important because the average American is expected to live into his or her 80s, and most seniors want to stay strong enough to remain independent as they age.”

Most seniors? What? Did they do a survey? Does anyone want to become fragile?

Speaking of aging, this article about the coming singularity where machines become more intelligent than humans touches on so many points. The internet surpassed the capability of the human brain in 2006? I think Marshall Brain, (is that really his name), has a point about 50 million people being put out of work.

Probably not appropriate if you are at work. Heidi Klum re-enacts a scene from the movie Risky Business in a commercial for the new Guitar Hero game.

Here is an unusual design for a staircase.

Check out this clever theme for a bar.

When my friend Matt sends me pictures of dogs dressed up in costumes he says this is why dogs bite people. Here are a bunch of pictures of dogs dressed up in funny costumes.

These cats aren’t in costumes but they are scary and funny anyway.

And this dog is just too cute.

Finally check out these pictures of a cat and a lynx who are buddies.

This Is Your Brain On The Internet

Friday, October 17th, 2008

A UCLA study has concluded searching the internet increases brain function. Don’t you feel smarter now?

HacknMod is a site devoted to building or altering your equipment. Who doesn’t want a giant pedal powered tank?

Speaking of mods here’s how to build a Wifi antenna using a vegetable strainer.

This article about the IRS using a hack-able computer system makes me feel oh-so-comfortable with the information they have.

Is it about zombies or not? A student was arrested on terrorism charges after his grandparents found a story he’d written. I have often thought Steven King would never make it though school these days.

Even so, police say the nature of the story makes it a felony. “Anytime you make any threat or possess matter involving a school or function it’s a felony in the state of Kentucky,” said Winchester Police detective Steven Caudill.

Give me a break! These people are afraid of zombies? Don’t expect any classic horror writers to come out of Kentucky in the future. Do you think the number of horror films involving proms will decrease after this? If they prosecute this kid for writing a zombie story, the terrorists have truly won.

The tune “Stayin Alive” has the ideal beat for giving CPR. Can you imagine waking up to someone pounding your chest while singing disco music? Great, now that song is stuck in my head.

Besides bringing you back to life, music has other amazing powers.

This site gives you the ability to generate you own soft drink can. Now I’m just not sure why I would want to. Actually, it is a pretty well designed site.

I’ve often thought some of the coolest things we will have in the future aren’t really predictable because they will be possible due to breakthroughs in material technology like this metal foam

Here’s a collection of award winning microscope photos.

Check out this nice collection of photos of frozen waterfalls.

Here is a site devoted to pictures of upside down dogs.

If that wasn’t silly enough for you, this lady has taught her cat to eat with a fork.

And finally, I really like this picture but frogs may not be cute enough for my ending picture so try this one.

Brain Theory

Monday, October 6th, 2008

I saw this TED Talk by Jeff Hawkins the other day on a theory about how the brain works. I think his main point about intelligence was interesting. When I took Artificial Intelligence I remember seeing some interesting programs, but when you saw the code it was like a magic trick where once you know how it’s done, the ‘magic’ vanishes. Could it be intelligence is just a matter of sophisticated pattern matching?

I really think someday people will walk around with their computers rolled up into little tubes like this example of flexible TV displays. On the other hand I can’t imagine how much better looking a laser based TV would look. Also, once they are small enough to project from your cell phone, you wouldn’t need a display to fold up.

It takes a minute to get going but once this landslide starts up, you see an entire forest slide down the hill.

As the worlds financial markets melt down, keep in mind the less control you feel you have the more likely you are to see patterns or connections that don’t exist.

Also on the subject of the financial melt down, here is how to live with almost no money. I haven’t gotten a chance to read much of it but it does involve eating varmints.

Guess what is more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

I had seen the study about strippers before but I had not heard the one about armadillos changing history.

And finally, not only is this a funny animal picture, it’s also quite a striking photo.

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.