Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Best of European Advertising

Some of you may remember this beer ad that was one of my first posts. Well, I tripped across a European advertising best of site last night. While they aren't all brilliant, some of them are outstanding. Watch out for the pengiun, the furniture, the flaming suit, and any emotional intimacy.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Messing with Hunters

The "Man Show", while not the most enlightened bits of television spewing forth these days, occasionally rises above itself and radiate flashes of brilliance. In this instance they tied a stuffed, remote-controlled "deer" to the hood of a car, and mess with people walking in and out of a truck stop. Major coffee spewing warning.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Human Upgrades

In the design/programmatic/geek world that I live in, there's always a debate between "top-down" & "bottom-up" approaches. For example, plastic surgery (aka "human upgrades") & genetic engineering on a phenotype, or in-vitro selection/modication (both good & bad) might be considered top-down re-design. Yes, I think the first site is a spoof, but if somebody's imagining it then somebody is imagining it's possible.

Trying to create machines that interface &/or are controlled by organics, as for the six-legged hexapod robot is controlled by a slime mould pictured above, might be considered the first steps in a bottom-up design of a man/machine interface.

Just in case you think I'm being a bit paranoid - as I think you should be - then check out this alternative chemical interface. I don't think the prototype implementation will be as sexy as Seven of Nine, unless you count those frontal thoratic augmentations.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Trekkies Unite!

Or . . .How I Was Out-geeked At Work:

Aaron sent me a link to a U.S. patent application for warp drive technology. I'm not sure which was cooler, that somebody went to the trouble of thinking this all through and making said application, or that Aaron knew why the patent wouldn't stand. I asked him, in jest, to "Please tell me this was actually approved." His reply:

Hey there Bernie,

Unfortunately, no.
It would be cool if it worked though, eh?

Aside from strict patentability issues, the major reason it's unlikely is that the "invention" relies on a directed flow of gravitons.

Gravitons are hypothetical particles.

From Wikipedia:

"Detecting a graviton, if it exists, would prove rather problematic. Because the gravitational force is so incredibly weak, as of today, physicists are not even able to directly verify the existence of gravitational waves, as predicted by general relativity. (Many people are surprised to learn that gravity is the weakest force. A simple experiment will demonstrate this, however: an ordinary refrigerator magnet can generate enough force to lift a mass against the force of gravity generated by the entire planet.) Gravitational waves may be viewed as coherent states of many gravitons, much like the electromagnetic waves are coherent states of photons. Projects that should find the gravitational waves, such as LIGO and VIRGO, are just getting started."

The coherent states of many gravitons that they mention, i.e., gravitational waves, are incredibly weak.
From Wikipedia:

"Gravitational waves are very weak. The strongest gravitational waves we can expect to observe on Earth would be generated by very distant and ancient events in which a great deal of energy moved very violently (examples include the collision of two neutron stars, or the collision of two super massive black holes). Such a wave should cause relative changes in distance everywhere on Earth, but these changes should be on the order of at most one part in 10^21. In the case of the arms of the LIGO gravitational wave detector, this is less than one thousandth of the "diameter" of a proton. This should give some indication of why it has proven very difficult to detect even the strongest gravitational waves!"

Here are some links to some real, super-sensitive gravity-related experiments that are currently underway:


Again, I bow before your superior geekiness Aaron.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Technical Video Rentals

This looks cool: a website that specialized in technical video rentals. Everything from metalworking, locksmithing, & woodworking to more specialized areas such as firearms, luthiery, clock-making. Then there's strongman training and parenting, which I'm not sure how it fits in with the technical world.

In any case, the site supports reviews by customers, a la Amazon, which is really a big bonus when trying to seperate the gold from the dross.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Crazy Like a Fox

A fascinating clip that shows the effects of machine-gun fire on various objects, and why nobody should ever, ever, ever consider invading the U.S. Just leave 'em alone for a few decades. They'll sort themselves out eventually. One way or another.

My favourite part of the clip is about half-way through, where Daddy helps his little girl hold down the trigger, 'cause it's too much for her little thumbs. His reward is a big kiss. So cute!

BTW, the guys on Mythbusters were wrong. You can light up a car by shooting at it, and long as you have sufficient firepower & ammunition.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rocking Out With Ukuleles

This is the second post I've gotten in the last month with ukuleles in it. What's up with that?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Alford Lake

Sorry for missing a couple of days of posts. I was up at Alford Lake with my Scout Troop. We had a blast, and not just on the shot-gun range. Ted, the camp manager, is outstanding.

If you're ever interested in organizing or participating in something outdoorsee, the Alberta Hunter's Education Instructors Association is the place to be. They offer many courses, including for first-time hunters and women, and they have safely trained close to 1 million people how to shoot. I'm going to check out their shooting range myself. Any place that has a restaurant on the range has got to have something going for it.

p.s. Feb 26th: I've added the Alford Lake photos to my Flikr site

Friday, February 17, 2006

Will They Ever Eat Their Own Dogfood?

The the "Gang of Four" as they've been dubbed (Yahoo, MSN, Google, & Cisco) got raked over the coals by a Senator who also happens to be a Holocast survivor for their recent behaviour in China:

Lantos, to Microsoft: Is your company ashamed?

Microsoft: We comply with legally binding orders whether it's here in the U.S. or China.

Lantos: Well, IBM complied with legal orders when they cooperated with Nazi Germany. Those were legal orders under the Nazi German system...Do you think that IBM during that period had something to be ashamed of?

Microsoft: I can't speak to that. I'm not familiar in detail with IBM's activities in that period.

Lantos: You heard (Rep. Christopher Smith's) speech (click for PDF). Assuming that his words are accurate, is IBM to be ashamed of their action during that period?

Microsoft: Congressman, I don't think it's my position to say whether IBM should be ashamed.

Nothing really surprising, as embarassing as it is to the human race. I'm wondering, is there a requirement for lobbiest/spokesperson to be a sociopath, or is that just an career advantage?

Regardless, there's a move afoot now to introduce legislation to regulate U.S. companies behaviour oversees, like not complying with legally binding court orders to hand over personal information. I wonder if that would also apply in them there U.S. of A's themselves?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Optical Illusions

OK, this looks cool. I wonder if I can get away with doing something like that when I renovate my office?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Black Helicopter Contest

Recently "The Register" had a "Black Helipcoper Contest" with some interesting results. If you're at all familiar with GoogleEarth, you'll know that there are some interesting things that show up on sattelite photos, besides your own house that is. The contest uncovered some interesting things, such as military installations, B2 bombers, U2 spy plane, F-14 Tomcat fighters, and others in flight, nuclear subs, a linear accelerator in action, and the infamous USS Cole under repair. Yes, also lots and lots of black helicopters.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fighting Scouts

This blog caught my eye because of it's article about axes. I can handle an axe well enough to know that I'm merely an amatuer. I've only occasionally felled a tree, and never built a cabin, for example. This blog entry will show you how to hang an axe. Yea, I didn't know what that was either.

What kept my attention, however, was this link to a history of Scouts in World War II. It recounts how Scouts in occupied countries aided resistance movements, including the Warsaw uprising, Belgian, and Czechoslovakia.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Russian Free-Runners

Yep, it's Russian all right. If you can get past the bit of annonying film-maker wanna-be pretensions of the first few minutes, the rest of the clip is brilliant. It makes these slick French free-runners look like pussies. I'm pretty sure Russians would eat Frenchmen for breakfast, but nobody would care because it would be so depressing.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tunnel Crash

Can somebody please explain to me how you lose control of a car if you're the only one in the tunnel?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Corporate Censorship

I've noticed a couple of unrelated things the last little while. I had a little more time to think while my blog was out of order last week. I figured it's some socially conscience hacker(s) angry at Google for signing a deal with the government of China. Google owns Blogger. Google has agreed to filter websites the Chinese Government doesn't like in exchange for access to the Chinese market. "Tiananmen Square" might be an example. 33 million websites seems to be missing from the google.cn site if you search for "Tibet" would be another.

So what? Yahoo is just as guilty, outing Chinese dissidents. In case you didn't think this was such a bad thing, these guys are now spending serious time in jail for what we would consider mild freedom of speech issues.

All this because I noticed a Slate article that was missing a few key links to their parent company's competitors. I guess information isn't as free as we'd hoped. To hell with government censorship. Corporate censorship is doing just fine, thank-you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The IT Crowd

Best of two worlds: British television comedy, and geek humour. The manager's not hard to look at either. Check out the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the background. Best not to drink coffee through this one either, unless you *enjoy* exhaling it violently through your nose.

P.S. Here are the second and third episodes. After that you're on your own.

Bull Fight

I spent a summer doing the back-packing through Europe on a rail pass, sleeping in parks & hostels thing. In Spain I had the opportunity to watch a bull fight at one of the local festivals. Just think of Stampede or any agricultural fair, and substitute bull-fighting for rodeo. She (the bullfighter, yes it was a woman) was quite good. Good enough for her to be awarded the bull's ears & tail after she put it down.

I wonder what they gave this bull at the end of his fight?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bars and Springs

Another good time-waster: Sodaplay. Build stuff with bars & springs, then race them. Complicated? No. Fascinating? Yes.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Recent Outage

Sorry for the recent outage. Apparently it was finger problems on my part. It was gratifying to know that more than one person reads my blog regularly. Thank-you. We'll be back to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Quotes for Presentations

Here are some good tips & sources for using quotations in your presentations. The rest of the site seems to be a good source for honing your presentations as well.