Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quitting School

Quitting School, article.
Very cool article about the quality of learning and free choice.
"You're far more intelligent, each one of you, than you are given credit for. Instead of starting with what we think you should know, why can't we start with what you genuinely want to know? I think that a learner, given time, space, respect and resources, will do a far better job of teaching himself than if he has knowledge imposed upon him with utter disregard for his own interests and abilities."

[Note: it seems that Julie's blog has a bug which prevents it from taking comments from people who are logged in. Try to write in a name manually instead.]

Friday, September 25, 2009

Billionaire's yacht uses lasers to thwart paparazzi

Roman Abramovich zaps snappers with laser shield, article.
He buys/builds a $2B hyper-futuristic yacht the size of Copenhagen... and he does not want it to be seen???
Funny enough, all a photographer has to do to avoid the lasers is... use a film camera instead of a digital one!


Printcrime, a short-short story. A very poignant one.

Under the RepRap post, I'd commented:
"As soon as a new invention threaten the income of an old business (as they often do), then you have a fight."

And Forrest, who is part of the RepRap core team, said:
You know your history all right! You might enjoy reading Cory Doctorow's short story, Printcrime.

He wrote it a short while after we got started with Reprap and was quite pleased when we told him about it.

Staff strip naked to improve morale

Staff strip naked to improve morale, article.
One of the underlying pins of Domai's philosophy is that if we manage to break down emotional barriers which surround nudity, other barriers will follow.
Of course nothing is a panacea (a cure-all), including this, but I strongly feel it'd be a step in the right direction.
I admit I would be uncomfortable myself about trying this, but maybe it could help with that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

RepRap: desktop factories

[Thanks to neeraj]
... which can replicate themselves, cheap.
That's a hell of a vision, but it's well on the way.

TTL expands:
I recommend this video: NextEngine 3D Scanner at Jay Leno's Garage [Note: the most amazing thing is that the printer can make things with moving parts, in one go!!]
And if you enjoyed that, go to Lots of interesting video clips. Jay know's his stuff.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Better earplugs (updated)

Just a little plug for better earplugs. (Oooh, what a bad pun, I'm so naughty.)

If you use earplugs for your work or for sleep, why not use some good ones? I've been using the classic ones, you know the yellow or orange ones which are flat in both ends? But I've only used them when desperate, because they are not comfortable.

So thanks to rcmedia for pointing me to Moldex. They are at least as good for the noise, they are easier to put in, and importantly, they are much more comfortable. They're tapered, have a smooth surface, and the foam is softer and higher quality.
(I bought the ones named Pura-fit. They have many different models, which apart from the color seem to be all alike, and I can't imagine what differences there can be anyway.)

I'm sure they are good help for real noise (I used the classic ones when I was sandblasting in my youth), but I use them for rest. You can still hear loud noises, like probably the doorbell, which can be good, but noise under a certain level, like normal, reasonable noises from outside or around the building, just vanish, it's great.

Update: many have problems with inserting the foam plugs, and often the documentation is, uh, rudimentary.
1: Press and roll the plug so it is thin.
2: With your other hand, lift the ear up and backwards, this straightens the ear canal.
3: Without wasting any time (because the plug is already expanding), insert it, and hold it for a couple of seconds until it sits securely.

Basil recommended Beneficial Products Earplugs.
I tried them.

The are better than the clear wax/silicone plugs I'd tried earlier. (These have cloth fibers or such inside, though you can't feel that.)

By the way, with both kinds, I need only half of one! If I use the whole one, the bulk sits like a blog on the ear and is loosened by the pillow over the night.
Very little sticks into the ear, or needs to apparently.

These get quite soft, so it's smart to have a li'll flat stick to help get them out in the morn. Carefully! 

I'm not sure yet if they are the "world's best" for me, but they are very good, and at the very least, they relieve the inevitable pressure from in-ear foam plugs.
They are more expensive than most, but they can be re-used many more times than most, too.
I have to use only half the bulk of one plug, otherwise most of it sits like a blob outside my ear, and is jiggled loose over the hours, against my firm foam pillow.

[I just found this discussion page.]

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Two new (four now)

Who watches the Watchmen?

I did.

I thought it was a good film. With any translation between media where the original has a very passionate fanbase, there will be substantial grumbling no matter what you do. And of course that has happened. But given the fact that the prime charm of the comic book was its formalistic characteristics, the way it was told rather than the story itself or the characters, and that this aspect obviously can't be translated to film, I think they did a fantastic job. I can't think how anybody could do a better job. They even improved the ending, in my opinion.

It won't be my favorite film, but then it was never my favorite comic book either. But it looks great and is very watchable.

(In a move which is so typical it makes my stomach turn, the UK blu-ray release has three discs, but it does not include the director cut extended version or the animated "pirate comic". What's wrong with these people?)

We know, we know, we know

A job well done

Me: “Alright sir, I looked at your computer and it looks like you need to reinstall your office software before we can proceed.”

Customer: “Oh, okay.”

Me: “Can you show me where your software installation CDs are?”

Customer: “My what?”

Me: “The CDs that your office software came on when you first bought them.”

Customer: “Oh, I threw those out.”

Me: “Why? Was there something wrong with them?”

Customer: “No, of course not. I installed the software and then threw out the empty discs.”


Firefox Image Zoom

For years I've had an option for members of Domai of very large images, which don't fit on the screen. And because of the navigation buttons, the images are embedded, and so won't zoom in browsers. It irritates even myself, but the only thing I could tell members was:
"If you have problems fitting the whole image on your screen, try: 1) removing button bars from your browser. 2) setting a higher screen resolution. 3) getting a bigger screen. 4) saving the images to disk and viewing them from there."

But now a helpful guy named Philip has given me a tip, so now I can say also:
"5) Use the Firefox browser with the Image Zoom add-on. It is very useful: right- and left-click on a picture, and it fits the window. Hold the right button and scroll the mouse wheel and it zooms to any size."

Here's a good page to test it (has nudity).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Island life

Jim and Sue were on their annual vacation cruise.

The two of them were on the ship's deck one morning enjoying the view of the wide open sea when they passed by a small island off in the distance. They could just make out the figure of a bearded man standing on the edge of the island shouting and desperately waving his arms.

They sought out the captain. "Who is that man on that island?" Jim asked. "And why is he so upset?"

"I have no idea," the captain said, "but every year when we pass by here, he goes crazy!"

Tommy weighed in:

It's late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild.

Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like.

Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.

But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, 'Is the coming winter going to be cold?'

'It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,' the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

A week later, he called the National Weather Service again. 'Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?'

'Yes,' the man at National Weather Service again replied, 'it's going to be a very cold winter.'

The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. 'Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?'

'Absolutely,' the man replied. 'It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we've ever seen.'

'How can you be so sure?' the chief asked.

The weatherman replied, 'The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy.'


Country song titles

One of my favorite country song titles, supposedly real, is:
"Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goal posts of life."

Let's make some up. I'll start:

"No branding iron ever hurt like the day you left me."

"My ten gallon hat ain't big enough to hold your heart."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

iPhone recession case

iPhone recession case, for protecting your iPhone on the cheap.

What's next, a permanent tarpaulin-wrap for protecting your Mercedes?
(OK, the case is funny, and apparently for real too.)

Motörhead: "It's a Bomber"