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Archive for February, 2009

The Creative Commons

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

I imagine most of you have heard of  Flickr a popular photo sharing site. I have been learning Flash lately and although I have a couple of games in mind which are essentially re-writes of some small games I’ve written in the past, I keep thinking about writing a graphical point and click adventure. I suppose I was somewhat inspired by some of the ones I’ve played lately. Last week I spent a fair amount of time exploring the Creative Commons area of Flickr. The Creative Commons license specifies you can use an image or a derivative work and you only have to give credit to the submitter. I was very impressed by what I found there.

Actually what got me thinking about it was this article on ways to advance your photography skills. I think the article was well written and presented some interesting ideas. However, the other thing that struck me was the awesome images accompanying the article. I mean it’s a lot easier to take a nice picture when you are standing outside the back of the Taj Mahal during a summer sunset or near an ancient Hindu temple at sunset in the jungles of Indonesia. My travel plans are somewhat limited in accordance with my budget. I suppose it’s a lame excuse but I used to live in a very scenic area and now not-so-much and though I often look at my limited view of a nice sunset off to the west there is really nothing but laziness that prevents me from getting in the car and driving somewhere I can get a clear shot.

Also if you follow the link in the article to the more interesting photos from the last seven days (again at Flickr) and keep hitting the reload button. You will see tons of interesting stuff, some of which you likely may have been able to shoot in your local environment.

Getting back to the idea of writing a game though, most of those impressive graphical adventures involve really nice art which either has to be rendered in a 3D graphics program, drawn, or photographed. It occurred to me if I wanted a shot of an animal from say Borneo and they didn’t have one at the local zoo, I could search the Creative Commons and get one at no expense other than crediting the photographer in the game. There are some terrific exotic settings available there as well.

I get a lot of hits on my blog from search engines on Megan Fox because I mentioned her originally in some post about robotics and Transformers. Just for kicks, I typed “Megan Fox” into the Creative  Commons search at Flickr. I got this poster from a sequel to the original Transformers movie. I also found this photo and this one where she is covered but it may be a little too sexy if you are at work. It all reminded me of an old, slightly naughty, joke. I wish I could remember the comedian but he was comparing National Geographic with Playboy magazine and said they both were full of picture of exotic places he’d never get to go.

Ahhh, this is comfortable.

I got a laugh out of this.

I also got a chuckle out of this anti-theft lunch bag.

Who wouldn’t want a water-powered jetpack? Ouch, look at the price!

Apparently aerogel a super insulator, works well to clean up oil spills. They didn’t point it out but the aerogel is that fuzzy thing below the brick in the picture.

Heavy science warning; string theory may be experimentally testable after all. Even if the subject is over your head there is a cute picture there.

If you read that last one, you will probably find Is Time an Illusion interesting.

This next one is sciency (a term a friend of mine once used to describe my blog) but not real complicated. I first heard of the Lagrangian points when I was writing a paper in college on space colonization. They are places in space where the gravitational tug of the bodies of the solar system cancel out. So if you wanted to build a really big space station they would be a good place to put it. I guess it never occurred to me; there may be a bunch of stuff there already.

When I saw this photo I wondered if someone really shot it or it’s like the one I made in my 2D gallery of the woman dancing on the seat of the motorcycle jumping a cliff.

An electric company in Florida made a mistake and appliances exploded and sparks shot out of the walls of people’s homes.

Now that is a big rat!

This is a pretty cool machine which makes 3D images out of levitated ball bearings. Unfortunately the video is poor quality, at first especially; it’s difficult to see what is going on.

Modern Cave Painting.

A cat / lizard meeting.

I saw this article about politicians should wear the logos of their sponsors like NASCAR drivers before I found this image of what they would look like.

Batteries wrapped in solar cells; as they point out, that was obvious.

First I had floppy disks all over the house. Then it was CDs and now it’s DVDs. If they build a quarter size device which can hold as much as 250 DVDs, I don’t think I would need many.

I wonder where this otter got a video camera.

This is just strange.

You think you are having a tough day at work?

Here is a video on the science of cute.

And finally, also on the subject of cute, there is this and this.

Flash Physics

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Over the weekend we played with this Flash physics game called Roly-Poly Cannon. One of the things about physics simulators is they can be so open ended. That is what makes them fun but since you can’t totally predict what a user will do. I imagine you have to be pretty careful about writing your code so unexpected bugs don’t come up. After charging though all the levels of Roly-Poly Cannon, I went searching for other physics games and found this one called Flash Physics. It’s a very simple game with very simple graphics but we played it for quite a while until it just got too hard. There is a strange bug in the third level where the chain ‘breaks’ occasionally.

This is an interesting application which uses a web-cam and turns any brightly colored object into a controller for gaming. It’s called CamSpace.

Here is a collection of pictures of creative bench advertising.

Speaking of creativity, someone was full of it when they created this.

Having trouble keeping your baby in its playpen? I wouldn’t recommend this.

Matt sent me this link. It’s a compilation video of some extremely close calls and lucky events. Some are simply amazing.

There are more silly cat pictures here and here.

What’s cuter than a bunch of baby pandas?

I liked this dramatic shot of a horse statue in Las Vegas.

This was interesting. Scientists stop the aging process in mice livers.

Entropyman talks about thermodynamics. When I’m cleaning, I often think somewhere the universe is getting more disorganized to compensate.

My, what big ears you have!

This is a video of a bird catching a fish but from the perspective of the fish.

If you have learned to cross view you can see this illustration in 3D.

Here is a nice collection of Macro photographs. I think the ones with the water drops are really impressive.

This is another example of painting with light during a long time exposure.

That is one big bug!

Look at the teeth on this fish!

This is what video games were like in 1936.

Here is a very large collection of computer repair tools. My older machine used to be so stable but now it reboots when I go to back it up.

Not that this Earth isn’t cool but if there are one hundred billion trillion other ones out there, it’s a shame we won’t get to visit them.

The TED conference recently ended and the talks are online. In this one Woody Norris does some pretty interesting things with sound.

They don’t quite have the hang of it, but I got a laugh out of this video of foxes jumping on a trampoline.

And finally here is a collection of baby animals from National Geographic and also this collection of mothers and babies made me think even baby hippos are cute.

Thaw

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

We are finally getting a nice break from winter here in the Midwest. It’s funny how just not having to bundle up or watch your footing can seem so nice.

We spent part of the weekend playing this physics game called Perfect Balance. I can’t say I cared much for the sound track so I just turned off the audio but it was a good example of how a simple balancing game can get your puzzle solving skills fired up. We also played a game at the BBC called CDX. It’s the second game we have played from the BBC and in both cases they were terribly disappointing. It’s painful to see a game with a lot of professional video production but such terrible game play.

Speaking of the Brits, the following interview is actually from Australia and it’s a real interview but if you have ever seen Monty Python you’d swear it was one of their skits.

I have Matt to thank for that little gem; he also sent me this rather amazing video of dolphins.

Last week I created my first hand draw animation in years. I can’t say it was very good. It was just a stick figure walking and I’m just trying to learn some tools. While searching the web for animation resources I ran across this page on claymation. Most of what it says is pretty obvious but one of the tricks it mentioned was putting magnets in the feet of the characters and placing them on a cookie sheet. Years ago when we did a very short claymation, we did have problems with the characters falling over and that would have helped.

Speaking of stop action, here is a simple stop action video done by a couple kids.

I got a laugh out of this.

This is another one of those street painting perspective illusions. This one is of a glacial type ice age scene. I wonder how large the painting was.

Ever wonder how cats purr? Skip down towards the bottom for the simpler explanation.

I have seen fractal zooms before. This one is just a lot longer than most.

Darpa is funding a project to reverse engineer the brain.

A company called Jovion Corporation has been issue a patent for a zero point energy device. I’m a little skeptical useful energy can be extracted from the Casimir effect but I hope the thing works.

The RepRap 3D printer can finally make a copy of itself!

Here are some pretty cool pictures of an Alaskan ice festival.

If I saw one of these crossing the road, I would definitely stop.

I have seen pictures of these monkeys in a hot spring before. I think this is in Japan.

This is a funny bear cub shot.

Here is a cute story about a hot koala.

And finally, here are some very cute pictures of a kitten and a bird.

Installation Issues

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I’d probably not purchased a new computer except my parents were having trouble with the one they had. Don’t get me wrong, my new one is going to be awesome but right now I don’t have many apps installed. Some time back my Dad mentioned their computer was emitting a strange smell. In retrospect I suppose that was the first indication their power supply was going. Last week I finally got around to setting up one of my systems for them. After resolving some strange disk issue I finally got their old system to boot but it wouldn’t stay on long enough to back it up. I wasn’t able to follow the recommended procedure on moving their old drive. I considered replacing the power supply but decided to just move their drive and do a repair install. That’s when things got tricky. You know you are in trouble when you google the problem you are having and other people have had that problem but no one seems to have solved it. After spending 3 days doing something that should have taken an afternoon, I gave them their new system last night. The system seemed to  be running OK but I suspect skipping over some of the installation files because Windows couldn’t read them is going to come back to haunt me.  I’m looking forward to working with computers this week as opposed to working on them.

This is one of those pictures where you wonder what happened right after it was taken.

I got a laugh out of this story of a cake gone wrong.

This story about places having names that well, you would be glad you are not from might offend some people. If you are in the mood for some juvenile snickering about naughty words click here.

Some of these entries in a Photoshop contest about you are what you eat are pretty good.

Speaking of image editing done well, I liked this one.

When our van was running we used to take it camping. We would set up a gazebo outside the side doors for extra living space. Since we used to backpack a lot it didn’t seem like we were roughing it much. When we would walk around campgrounds, I would look at those big trailers with the expanding rooms and think it would be cool to make something van sized that became really large once you got where you were going. Well this thing is truck sized but it expands into a two story structure.

I have seen pictures of these Margay Tiger Cats before. There is something so strange about the way they look.

Here is another silly cat picture, and more cute cat pictures are here.

Speaking of silly animal pictures, here is a collection of animals drinking. It kind of makes you think twice about using an outdoor water fountain.

It’s funny how sometimes animals really look like they are smiling.

I have been trying to learn Flash and rewrite a small game I created years ago. This is the home page of a design company who created the Samorost series. We played their Questionaut game the other day. It’s a cute little point and click game for kids where you have to answer questions to complete the game. In spite of my education I got a little careless and missed one or two.

It’s interesting how the interest in casual games has grown so much lately.

If you have never seen the TV series Dr. Who, there is no point in clicking here.

Here is another very cool lenticular cloud photo.

This photo of what I think are salt piles seems surreal.

Bad dog! Bad dog!

So you think you have a lot of snow?

When I took my first computer graphics course, the professor hung our assignments up outside the classroom. I had created a picture of a simple but  impossible (MC Escher style) crate.  It was fun to watch the expression on the faces of the people change when they ‘got it’. Some of these what would happen if everyday objects were designed by MC Escher pictures require a little study before you see it.

These are the most elaborate watermelon carvings I have ever seen.

This guy is planning to cross the Atlantic in a one-man pedal powered submarine.

And finally, if you enjoy cute animal pictures it doesn’t get much better than this.