Archive for the ‘Geek’ Category

Obit watch: April 22, 2016.

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Your Prince obit round-up: NYT. Star-Tribune. LAT coverage. WP.

“Poor Lonely Computer: Prince’s Misunderstood Relationship With The Internet” from NPR.

I feel much the same way about Prince as I did about Bowie. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I never saw him live, but thinking back on it, he turned out a lot of music I like. “1999”. “Little Red Corvette”. “When Doves Cry”. “Let’s Go Crazy”. And every now and then, I’ve been known to spontaneously start singing “She wore a raspberry beret, the kind you find in a second-hand store…” much to the annoyance of my cow-orkers.

And I didn’t realize it until yesterday, but he actually wrote “Manic Monday”.

Also among the dead, according to the A/V Club: Richard Lyons, co-founder of Negativland.

Art, damn it, art! watch (#51 in a series)

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

And speaking of Damien Hirst:

“One of Hirst’s main subjects is the setting-up of giant fish tanks filled by thousands of liters of FA, in which intact biological specimens are immersed, such as zebras, cows, calves, even sharks,” the abstract of the article said, referring to formaldehyde fumes. “It has been found that the tanks are surrounded by FA fumes, constantly exuded in the atmosphere (likely via the sealant), reaching levels of 5 ppm, one order of magnitude higher than the 0.5 ppm limit set up by legislation.”

In other words, some people are concerned that a tank full of formaldehyde with a dead shark in it may be leaking formaldehyde fumes. Shocked, shocked I am.

The museum also provided a statement from Pier Giorgio Righetti, a professor at Politecnico di Milano university in Italy and an author of the paper, saying that the research “was intended to test the uses of a new sensor for measuring formaldehyde fumes, and we do not believe that our findings suggest any risk for visitors at Tate Modern.”

This brought a much needed smile to my face.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Classic Programmer Paintings.

Some of my personal favorites.

(Hattip: Morlock Publishing on the Twitter.)

Random notes: April 11, 2016.

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Statesman writer subscribes to LootCrate so he can get a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Statesman writer discovers that he really doesn’t like getting a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Stateman writer decides, not just to quietly cancel his LootCrate subscription and move on with his life, but to publish a “breakup letter” in his newspaper.

Editors. Where are the editors?

Obit watch: Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, chief medical examiner of New York City from 1989 to 2013.

In 2001, when two jetliners commandeered by terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Dr. Hirsch and six aides rushed downtown to establish a temporary morgue.
When the North Tower collapsed, two aides were severely injured. Dr. Hirsch, thrown to the ground, broke all of his ribs. His cuts sutured by a medical team, he returned to the examiner’s squat brick headquarters at First Avenue and 30th Street, coated in a ghostlike gray soot.

Begun, the “Hamilton” backlash has.

Quote of the day:

“I can recognize a nipple from 600 yards in the background behind a leaf at this point.”

New toy! New project!

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

I was out and about earlier today with my mom and my nephew: we stopped by Hobby Lobby because I was looking for something. I’ll be posting about that something later on, but while we were there, I found one of these and ended up getting a screaming deal on it with the 40% off coupon.

Which is great, but that looks like a manual control box, right? How do you control it with a PC? Lots of soldering and a custom circuit board?

Ah. Nope. They have a USB device interface for the OWI-535. Isn’t that nifty?

But wait! The included software only runs on a PC! How do you control it with a Mac, or a LINUX system?

Surprise! People have reverse-engineered the control protocol! For example, this guy! (I love that blog title, by the way.) It looks like most of the other control examples I’ve found all loop back to Vadim Zaliva’s work documenting the protocol for the OWI-535. (He’s also documented the control protocol for the OWI-007 here.)

And look! Here’s control code in Python. running on a Raspberry Pi! Isn’t that a clever cleaver!

We’ll see if I can get the arm together and working without breaking it. Bad news: I don’t have that much mechanical aptitude. Good news: they claim all you need is needle-nosed pliers, diagonal cutters, and a Phillips screwdriver. No soldering required, which is good. I could probably solder my way out of a paper bag if someone held a gun to my head, but I’ve never been what you could call “good”, or even “competent” at it…

(As a side note, I’ve been trying to get back to “Talkin’ GPS Blues“. Unfortunately, I also decided to upgrade Project e to Ubuntu 15.10…and Bluetooth apparently doesn’t work well on 15.10, at least as of when I completed the upgrade. So once I get Bluetooth working again, and have some more time, I intend to revisit GPS, this time with some skanky Perl, Python, and possibly even Java code. We’ll see.)

Obit watch: March 22, 2016.

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

There’s a nice tribute in today’s WP to Bob Ebeling, who died on Monday. You may not recognize the name:

In the days before the space shuttle Challenger burned up in mid-air, killing all seven astronauts on board, Ebeling and four other engineers had pleaded with NASA to delay the launch. They had concerns about whether the rubber o-rings on the shuttle’s booster rockets would seal properly in the frigid winter weather. Ebeling even authored an alarmed memo detailing the problems with the rings. Its subject line read, bluntly, “Help!”

For the historical record: Andrew S. Grove.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#13 in a series)

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

The Cotton Bureau is doing another run of HENCHMAN t-shirts.

You can also get HENCHWOMAN t-shirts as well.

And you can get them in youth sizes, and even in a onesie.

These shirts are brought to you by way of the Batman 66 Labels project, aka “my new favorite thing on the Internet ever“. How can you not buy a HENCHMAN t-shirt after seeing this?

Seriously, I own one of the shirts from the first run, and think it is a fine shirt. If you have children, you should purchase at least one for each of them. Orders are being taken through March 23rd.

(I’m not getting any kickback for this: I just really like my shirt, and Batman 66 Labels.)

Attention!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

Attention must be paid!

Karl’s a smart dude. Y’all should listen to him.

This is my new favorite thing on the Internet ever.

Obit watch: February 6, 2016.

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

I thought I’d do this one separately, since it didn’t fit in tone with the previous entry:

Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the moon.

NASA.

More Marvin.

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

I really like this remembrance of Marvin Minsky by Stephen Wolfram.

Edited to add: By way of Lawrence, Kevin D. Williamson in National Review on Minsky and economics.

Not Minsky, but worth linking to: Hal Linden on Abe Vigoda.

Marvin Minsky.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

NYT obit. 1981 profile from the New Yorker by Jeremy Bernstein.

Dr. Minsky was another of my personal heroes that I never got to meet. I first read about him in the pages of Hackers, which was a Christmas gift from my mother one year (and about which I’ve written before).

Later on, I got interested in AI, which led me again to Minsky by way of The Society of Mind. (Which, oddly enough, I have also touched on before.)

I wish that I had more to say, but I’m struggling to find words right now. (I blame this mostly on allergies.)

The ex-presidents are Pez dispensers!

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Found at Blood Bath and Beyond, and also available from Amazon: Presidents of The United States Volume 8 – Pez Limited Edition Collectible Gift Set.

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A better view with some of the packaging removed:

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Seriously. How did I live this long without a Richard Nixon Pez dispenser?

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All I need now is Lyndon Johnson (who is in Volume 7) and I can do my own remake of Point Break.

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(Well, okay, technically, I guess I would also need a Gary Busey Pez dispenser and maybe a Keanu Reeves one, too.)

(“The part of Keanu Reeves is being played by a tongue depressor.”)

(And I should probably get Volume 3 as well, because who doesn’t need Millard Fillmore to go with their Richard Nixon?)