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Archive for November, 2008

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.

Gloom

Monday, November 24th, 2008

I have a bunch of links for a regular blog but I’m going to put that off till tomorrow as it’s getting late and I have to run into town.

We have had some very dreary weather lately. There are lots of things I hate about winter. I’m taller than most people and although middle age has added a few pounds, I’ve tended to be thin most of my life so my  surface area to volume ratio is higher than most I suppose. But it isn’t the cold, or lack of life outside, or snow that bothers me the most, it’s the lack of light. Not only are the days short but on days like today, the cloud cover is so thick it might as well be dusk out there in the middle of the day.

Sunlight is about the next best thing to coffee when it comes to waking me up. Unfortunately our cat Kelly has strangely taken on one of our recently deceased cat Amy’s worst habits. She wakes us up at night. Not as often as Amy did, but last night was one of those nights. So today I feel like my brain has to work hard just to complete a sentence. My spelling is so bad, my spell checker can’t even figure out what I’m trying to say.

It doesn’t really help but here are some of the things I do to try to deny it’s winter. We have a ridiculous number of houseplants for this small of a house. To support those plants we have three fluorescent grow lights in our living room alone. The light and the green help but they hardly compensate for the brown and drab outside.

I own one of those heavy North Face jackets. I don’t think it’s really expedition grade but it’s a little like wearing a sleeping bag. I haven’t yet placed on order with this company but they make custom winter clothing so I should be able to get a pair of snow pants that actually fit my long frame.

Yesterday I spent some time cleaning up the garden but I also planted 45 tulips out in the yard so I felt like i was gardening. Also the digging warmed me up a little.

We have this big jar thing with a plastic rack in it. I probably paid too much for it but I bought it a couple years ago. It had tulips in it we enjoyed in the dead of winter. We recently put more tulip bulbs in it. I have found it’s pretty much impossible to create enough light for flowering plants in here in the winter but this technique works well, you just have to keep replacing the tulips.

forcing tulips to flower in the winter

forcing tulips to flower in the winter

OMG the sun is coming out. I have to go.

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.

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.

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.