Today I worked. The S.O. made some wonderful miso soup; as I sit praying for it to finally cool down instead of being all summery, now that the calendar says it’s supposed to be fall, it’s a nice wintry soup to kickstart the season. I hope.
A grad student designed a concrete jet robot for his thesis — it builds concrete structures not unlike a normal printer lays down ink on a page. The video is long, but conceptually very cool — it’s like an industrial-scale 3D printer. Via Digg.
An interesting article on how faulty input to the risk analysis programs on Wall Street helped foster the current financial crisis. It does prove a couple of points: one, that computers can only do as much as you tell them to do — if you don’t tell them about the bad news, they won’t take it into account, and two, that you have to be careful what you’re relying on computers to do. Computers can solve technical problems very well — repetitive math, taking into account lots of variables, etc. But they’re not very good at solving human problems — optimism, bias, etc. A definitely lesson for programmers and anyone who’s caught themselves trusting “the computer” too much. Via Digg.
These doorknobs are cool, if expensive. Probably unaffordable, but very nice.
I completely missed both of these phenomena of the 80s. Between 1982 and 1984, there was a game show that pitted two contestants against each other playing video games. In an act of “oh wow, was that really necessary?”, they’ve put up episodes of Starcade, the game show. The other phenomenon presents itself as the ‘guess the mystery game’ prize about 3 minutes in to show 59. It’s an Audio Technica Mister Disc — a record player no larger than a man’s shoe! Via Kottke.
Today’s video — Dylan Winter, a cameraman near Oxford, England, put together a jaw-dropping video of the local flock of starlings commuting from their feeding grounds to their roosting grounds one evening. They look like something out of a Miyazaki film; he also mentions that it could have inspired the drug-induced ideas of one Lewis Carroll. Mesmerizing to watch. Via Ben Fry.
Finally, I can’t embed this one, but you can go watch (the link to the movie is at the bottom of the page) — it’s a video of people getting punched in the face taken in slow motion with a high-speed camera. Strangely mesmerizing, even though I’m not normally an advocate of this sort of behavior.
Sorry no links for a few days — this week has been nutty-busy for me. Trying to unwind a bit over the weekend, then maybe next week won’t be so bad. It’s a collection from over a few days, too, so I don’t remember where I got them all. I’ll go back to doing it nightly tomorrow or the next day though, so will give proper credit. A good chunk of these came from either Digg, Reddit, or NOTCOT or directly from the linked sources.
Remember the controversy when Adam Savage of Mythbusters fame said that the credit card companies quashed an episode on how RFID works and can be broken? IO9 interviews Grant Imahara, one of the other Mythbusters, and a couple of more (not as juicy as I would have hoped) tidbits of information come out.
Vincent Laforet, the photojournalist who started blogging during the 2008 Summer Olympics, got his hands on an early Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera — Canon’s DSLR camera that can do video — and made a short film with unenhanced video from the Canon. There’s no way I could afford one of these unless the price came down (say, if they moved the decimal point over one), but it makes some really impressive video. With any luck in a year or so this stuff’ll trickle down (it may not work for the economy, but it sure does with technology) and something more affordable will come out.
Yesterday, I discovered that puff pastry and mascarpone cheese don’t have sugar in them. I tried making a blueberry turnover using frozen blueberries, puff pastry sheets, and mascarpone cheese, all from trader joe’s, in the toaster oven at work. The pastry came out OK and was wonderfully buttery; but the only sweetness came from the blueberries. I suppose it was um, healthier for me, but next time I’m adding sugar.
Scott Adams of Dilbert fame commissioned a survey of 500 economists to determine which presidential candidate they think would be better for the US Economy. The interesting (and unfortunately ‘no duh’ part) is that on the part where they were asked to rank the big issues that’ll affect the economy, the issue that got the highest amount of concern was education. Fix that and the rest will follow. (via Slashdot).
I took a bit of a break over the weekend; I wasn’t entertained so much by the internets. I did make cupcakes out of Elvis Presley’s favorite pound cake recipe; for cupcakes, preheat the oven and shorten the baking time to about 25 minutes. Then I made a lavender icing, with a bit too much lavender, and it seemed to turn out OK. (My official tasters liked it, anyway.)
Today not so much. Just a few things I found of interest.
First, a somewhat simple photo setup for taking pictures of bicycles. Not that I have bicycles to take pictures of, but I’m impressed by the quality of the photos this person gets with a relatively simple setup (background paper, lights, an inexpensive camera, and a tripod). (via BoingBoing)
Next, Chronotron. A portal-esque flash puzzle game that involves your character looping through time and figuring out find-the-exit type puzzles by interacting with multiple versions of yourself. That explanation doesn’t do it justice, but it’s quite unique and fun at the same time. (via multiple places, but most recently JWZ, with the most appropriate title BAD GIR, NO TARDIS.)
Third, a set of teabags by a Turkish design firm with interesting tabs to hang out of the cup.
Visually, I like the idea of the sensory deprivation skull — unfortunately I get the feeling it would remind me too much of the toy structures at the local McDonaldLand that I played in as a kid — large, hot, echoey, and stinky. I can possibly see sitting in it bundled up watching a winter landscape. Maybe. (via NOTCOT)
Today’s video is more for the industrial design fetishist. You’ve heard of inkjet printers? This is like that, except with concrete instead of ink. And also on a larger scale. Long video, but kind of mesmerizing.
Today I finished off a can of Barefoot Contessa Pancake Mix — I know one can make one’s own pancake mix, and I’ll try that soon, but I like this mix. I’d also seen a reference to Jacqueline Kennedy’s waffle recipe — which looks like a normal waffle recipe, except it calls for separating the eggs and whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks, then folding the egg whites into the rest of the batter at the last moment, making a thicker, fluffier batter. I tried it with these, and it did indeed make thicker, fluffier pancakes — though it might also have been because I didn’t have quite enough of the pancake mix and substituted self-rising flour, instead. I’ll have to try again and see how it goes.
To the links! (Not golf.)
An artist called Dominic Wilcox made a xylophone trash bin, which drops a ball bearing across the xylophone wood which spirals around the trash bin. Watch the videos, it’s pretty cool!
Tonight I successfully made 150 degree (65 degree C) eggs. They were really good; the yolk still wasn’t runny, probably because they were closer to 151 degree eggs. But the whites were better, and the yolk was soft and almost-liquid-but-not-quite. I’ll probably do that again sometime, but it takes an hour of constant babysitting on our stove (move the pot closer to the flame, move it away from the flame, watch the thermometer to make sure the pot of water doesn’t heat up or cool down too much). If I really got into this thing I wouldn’t mind a circulator for cooking sous-vide (vacuum packed food cooked at specific temperatures, sort of like a fancy crock pot with gadgets), but those are quite pricey. I’ll probably just keep experimenting and keeping the recipes I use to what the limits of my patience are.