Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Free Air Miles (well, not anymore)

The Wall Street Journal has an article on what used to be a great way to get free flights. Basically the US Mint was selling dollar coins for $1 with free shipping. So you buy as many as you can on your credit card, get the air miles, then, when the coins arrive you use them to pay off the credit card. Repeat until done.

Sadly, the mint doesn't let you do this anymore.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Obit: Roy King, England's master bowmaker

The Times has the obituary of Roy King, a English man who had mastered the ancient art of bowmaking.
But perhaps King's most enduring contribution was to the Mary Rose Trust, which asked him to replicate the bows recovered from Henry VIII's flagship, which sank off Portsmouth in 1545 and was raised in 1982. Few examples of longbows from that era – the last years before gunpowder weapons became dominant – were then known to exist. But among the many treasures raised with the Mary Rose were 139 complete, and 33 partial, longbows.
And in true modern fashion he was born in Poland.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ultimate Model Airplane

Now this is a model airplane. It is a 1:16 scale model of a P-51D Mustang fighter plane, was handcrafted from aluminium and took three years to make.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Campervan with a Loft

Here is a pop top camper with a bit of a difference. Instead of adding extra headroom when the top is up. The top here provides a second floor for use as a sleeping area. Also interesting is the way the roof pivots up from one side rather than just popping straight up.

As a related bonus here is a really cool looking trailer that pops open into a camper.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

How big is Antarctica?

This picture compares Antarctica to the continental US. It's bigger than I thought.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Plot Drawings has plot diagrams for the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Jurassic Park. The diagrams show the location and groupings of the various characters as the stories progress.

I'm not sure how useful something like this would be if you were writing a story rather than studying one but the idea is certainly interesting.

Flash Game: Totem Destroyer 2

Totem Destroyer 2 is another cool flash game. In this one instead of building up a pile of things you start with a pile of things with an idol at the top. You goal is to blow up the items in the pile so as to lower the idol to the ground. (Actually not the ground but to the special dark coloured blocks.)

Some of the levels need a bit of luck but on the whole a fun game.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Obit: Richard Sonnenfeldt, chief interpreter at Nuremberg

The Economist has the obituary of Richard Sonnenfeldt, the chief interpreter at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

I thought this section was particularly interesting:
When he asked Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, whether he was ever tempted to enrich himself from the inmates, Hoess replied: “What kind of man do you think I am?”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Prize awarded in Space Elevator Contest

The Washington Post reports that a design team from Seattle has won a prize in NASA's first space elevator contest.
The contest requires that the machines climb 2,953 feet up a cable slung beneath a helicopter hovering nearly a mile high.

SF Gate also has an article on the contest and says the prize was $900,000.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Attractive Quarterbacks are Better Quarterbacks

The Ottawa Citizen has an article (as does the National Post) about a new study that shows that the facial attractiveness of NFL quarterbacks is directly correlated to their ability on the playing field.
A new study shows that the facial attractiveness of NFL quarterbacks — as rated by panels of female students who have no idea they're pro athletes — mirrors their athletic ability on the field, regardless of other attributes such as age or ethnicity. Other studies have demonstrated similar patterns with professional hockey and soccer players.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Steel Velcro

The New Scientist reports that German engineers have built what is essentially steel Velcro. The strips can support 35 tonnes parallel to the join or 7 tonnes perpendicular.
via Make

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Massive Crater on Phobos

Astronomy Picture of the day has a photo of the Stickney Crater on the Martian moon Phobos. The crater is huge - it takes up one whole end of the not-very-round moon.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Ponoko - Make Stuff from a Picture

Have you every drawn something on a napkin and decided you would really like the real object but had no idea how to make it? Check out the intro video on this page at Ponoko. If you send them a digital photo of the napkin they will make the object for you.

They can also make an object from a more conventional CAD file.

Note that I haven't actually used this service I just like the idea of it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

The Washington Post has an interesting article about the events that lead to the opening of the Berlin Wall. The article says it was a bureaucratic misunderstanding started by a bumbled press conference.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Factoid: Deutsche Bank has 60,000 pieces of contemporary art

This article in the New York Times has an article about the amount of art owned by banks.

Deutsche Bank is believed to own the largest corporate collection in the world, with some 60,000 pieces of contemporary art. UBS owns 40,000 pieces, and JPMorgan Chase 30,000. Combined, that approaches the Museum of Modern Art’s trove.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stars over Easter Island

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a beautiful shot of, well, stars over Easter Island.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Wolfram Alpha will show you the tides for a given location. We don't have tides here in Ottawa but if you type in "tides Singapore" it will show you the tides there.

You can also add a date if you don't want today's tides:
tides oahu tomorrow
tides kitty hawk 1 January 1969

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Gnome Bowling

Here's a project for a rainy day: Paper gnomes for you to use as bowling pins.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Plot Generator

Looking for a plot for your novel? Big Huge Thesaurus will generate a whole list of them for you every time you load the page.

Some examples:
  • A servant is held hostage in Washington D.C..
  • A maid grabs the wrong briefcase by mistake in a spooky cemetary.
  • A mystical shaman discovers a shocking secret in the sewers.
  • An abused woman must save the president from terrorists while on Safari in Africa.
  • God takes a vacation that goes horribly wrong in a prep school.
  • A young man misses an opportunity of a lifetime and ends up betraying his best friend.
  • An army chaplain fights for his life in Australia.
  • A battle-scarred warrior enters a hot dog eating contest while on a date.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Top 50 Foods and Where to get them

The Guardian has an article on the best 50 foods in the world and the best places to get them. I haven't had any of the things on the list so I can't really agree or disagree. Have any of you tried any of them?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Crescent Nebula

Astronomy Photo of the Day has an awesome picture of the Crescent Nebula.

Friday, September 18, 2009

September Smashing Wallpaper

I'm even later than usual with a link to Smashing Magazine's September Wallpaper selection. I've gone with the dog and flower.

Flash Game: Two Rooms

Two Rooms is a Flash puzzle game. The interesting thing is that there are two boards that you flip between using the spacebar. A few of the levels require a bit of arcade action but most of them just need a bit of thinking.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Make Money on an iPhone Upgrade

Alec Saunders has a blog post showing how you can make money upgrading your old iPhone to a new one. It basically hinges on a trade-in program from Best Buy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Old School Makes the News

My old high school in Burlington seems to have made the Globe and Mail. It sounds like some things have changed a bit since my day.

I don't normally link to the Globe since their articles vanish after a while but I thought I would chance it this time.

Another interesting aspect of the article is its use of the word "gummer" to describe students in grade 9. I don't think I've heard this term since high school and Jen says she's never heard it so I'm wondering if it is a Burlington specific term - or maybe even a MM Robinson term. Maybe there is a Burlington dialect after all.

Lessons from mortality rates

According to this blog post your chances of dieing in a given year double every 8 years.

This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.” Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years.
The author goes on to see what the implications of that law is.

Find your magnetic declination

Ever wondered what the magnetic declination (the difference between where a compass points and true north) is where you live? In the old days you had to look on a map or chart and then adjust it for the time that has passed since the chart was printed. Now you can just asked Wolfram Alpha.

If you type in:
geomagnetism Ottawa

it will tell you that the declination here is 13.68deg West.

If you put a date after the location you can also get the declination for other dates. For example the day I was born the declination in Ottawa was 16 degrees West.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

TED Talk: Motivation

TED has an interesting 20 minute video of a speech by Dan Pink. He talks about how to motivate people for different kinds of jobs. It turns out that rewards like money only work for certain kinds of work.

Monday, September 07, 2009

WWII Posters

The Telegraph has a slide show of WWII British posters. The posters mostly deal with life under the threat of air raids. Some are recruitment posters for the ARP and Air Wardens while others remind people of the dangers of leaving a train in a blacked out station or how to park your car on a blacked out street.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Moon Landing Sites

Nasa has an article about pictures recently sent back by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. In some of the pictures you can see things left behind by the Apollo astronauts and in one you can see a path they wore into the lunar surface.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Swimming with Whales

National Geographic has a picture of a swimmer and a sperm whale. I'm not sure I've ever seen a sperm whale from that angle before.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Find your next solar eclipse

If you want to find out when the next solar eclipse is in your area, you can just ask Wolfram Alpha.

For example if you type:
next solar eclipse ottawa
into the search box on Wolfram Alpha you'll learn that the next solar eclipse visible from Ottawa will be on 20 May 2012 at 7:52pm. It even gives you a nice map showing what areas the eclipse will cover.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Launch Years of Popular Websites has an article showing the original launch dates of various popular websites.

Some interesting stats:
  • 43% of today’s top sites were started in 1996 or earlier.
  • The three “biggest” launch years, from largest to smallest: 1996, 1995, 2005.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Richard Feynman: Why Trains Stay on the Rails links to a YouTube video of Richard Feynman explaining why trains stay on the tracks. The answer is not as obvious as you think.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cat Ladders

In case you doubted that there was a blog for every conceivable topic, this one is about cat ladders.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Krakatoa Pictures

The Daily Mail has an article with a series of nice photos of the volcano Krakatoa erupting.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I am probably a bit late in recommending DropBox (found at the slightly hard to remember but I will do it anyway.

DropBox is essentially an online file storage service that appears like a normal directory on your computer - the key feature is that you can access a local copy of the files when you aren't connected to the net and they will automatically update on your other machines when you reconnect.

I have been using it lately on my little Dell netbook. I have had problems in the past with files that live on the laptop. I often forget to back them up to the main system and sometimes I update a file on the main computer and then forget to copy it onto the laptop. Now I just keep any files that I might want on the laptop in my DropBox directory.

As an added bonus, if you sign up using this link then both you and I get an extra 250MB of storage.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fold a Dress Shirt

Lifehacker has a post, with a video, on how to fold a shirt. I'm pretty sure that this is the method that my aunt tried to teach me everytime I went for a visit. Her method kept the shirts unwrinkled even when stuffed into a duffle bag for the train ride back to London.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bacon Sandwich Really Does Help Hangover

The Telegraph reports that bacon sandwiches really do help cure a hangover.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Planets during eclipse over Great Wall

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a nice shot of four planets lined up in the sky during the recent solar eclipse in China.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Protect your wallet with a baby picture

The Times has an article about a proven way to improve your chances of getting a lost wallet back - put a baby picture in it.

When faced with the photograph of the baby people were far more likely to send the wallet back, the study found. In fact, only one in ten were hard-hearted enough not to do so. With no picture to tug at the emotions, just one in seven were sent back.

Friday, July 17, 2009

US Social Security Numbers not so hard to guess

Slate has an article illustrating a flaw in American Social Security Numbers. Apparently if you know where and when someone was born you can make a pretty good guess at their SSN.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

NYC Travel Times would be a handy website if you were looking for a place to live (or a hotel I suppose) in New York City. You type in an address and it gives you a heat map showing how long it takes to get from that address to other places in NYC.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

SUVs and the Feeling of Safety

I was watching a Ford TV commercial the other day and the people in it kept going on and on about how their Ford "made them feel safe". I couldn't help wondering why they would care how safe they felt, surely they would rather actually be safe than feel safe?

Then I came across this article by Malcolm Gladwell (author of the Tipping Point and Outliers) from 2004 about SUVs and the feeling of safety. He discusses how the quest for the feeling of safety has lead us away from actual safety (and caused many other problems as well).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Video: Whitehouse photo op

The New York Times has a blog post with a video that shows how astoundingly short a White House photo op is.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Business card turns into catapult

The cardapult is a business card that turns into a small catapult. Imagine how popular that would be in meetings. There is a video that shows the device in operation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photo: Stealth Bomber breaking sound barrier

The Telegraph has a photo of a Stealth Bomber breaking the sound barrier.

Follow up: They also have a very nice photo of an F-18 doing the same thing at an air show. The angular cloud is much more noticeable in this one.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Flash Game: Perfect Balance

If you like balancing things on top of other things then you'll love this flash game. Perfect Balance has 40+ levels, each of which requires you to balance various objects on various things.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Aubrey de Grey on life extension

An interesting TED talk by Aubrey de Grey about life extension and why he feels it is necessary. He goes through the 7 ways in which people age - all of which he feels can be prevented.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

June Smashing Wallpaper

Smashing Magazine has their monthly set of desktop wallpaper. I went with the one of the Spitfire flying off into the sun.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Hubble Mission Pics

The Big Picture has a series of photos of the recent Space Shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Make Your Own Tilt Shift Pictures is a site that lets you modify your own pictures so that they look like pictures of miniatures or models. The technique is known as tilt-shift photography because of the special camera lens used to achieve the effect "in real life".

Here's a picture of my house modified by the site. It's not as good as some of the examples on the site but it should give you the idea.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Display anywhere

This TED talk is a demo of an interesting new wearable computer technology. The computer hangs around your neck and has a projector that sends images forward. The computer detects the images and can adjust for where they are projected. For example you can use a wall as a display and manipulate the objects being displayed with your hands (the computer can follow the positions of your fingers). An other example near the end of the video is that if you draw a circle on your wrist the computer projects the time (onto your wrist).

I first saw this in an article in the National Post that was sent to me by email. The article was very irritating - especially given how cool the device is. Firstly they seem to think the sixth sense reference has something to do with the movie of the same name. Secondly, I was a bit shocked that someone who writes a pop and culture blog would insultingly refer to someone who develops new technologies as a nerd. Whether an MIT nerd is better than a non-MIT nerd I will leave as an exercise for the reader (assuming there are any).

Slashdot also linked to the video.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Amazing Biking Video has a post with an amazing video of a fellow riding his bike and doing tricks in an urban environment. It is almost like parkour on a bicycle. I would never have thought that you could just ride up to a fence and jump over it without a ramp.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hubble as seen from Earth

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a photo of the space shuttle and Hubble telescope passing in front of the sun. The picture was taken from the ground but the shuttle is easily recognisable.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Volvo Ocean Race

The Big Picture has a nice set of photos of the Volvo Ocean Race. The nine month round the world race is now in Boston after completing the 5th of 10 legs.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What's up with bond holders

My friend Tim has a blog post about why some bond holders have an interest in driving the companies whose bonds they hold into bankruptcy. Basically if you have insured the bond using a Credit Default Swap (a CDS - one of the derivatives that is so much in the news lately) then you get all your money back if the issuer of the bond goes under. You'll get a lot less than that in a settlement.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Titan, Saturn and a rock

Astronomy picture of the Day has a nice shot of Saturn's rings in front of the moon Titan with a smaller moon passing by.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Flickr Formation

A neat page on Flickr where a photographer has taken advantage of the standard Flickr page layout to make a composite picture.
via reddit

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bodum Double Walled Glassware

CoolTools has an article about Bodum Insulated Glassware. I encountered these on our recent trip to New York City. After walking around for a few hours we decided to stop for a latte and a snack. We ended up at a place called Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bad Man. My latte was served in one of the Bodum glasses and I was impressed right away. The glass was cool to the touch even though the drink was initially too hot to drink.

The restaurant itself is worth a visit if you're in the area and fancy some dessert- and it is near the NY location of the Forbidden Planet. (Here is a review of the restaurant with some pictures.) I had some very nice chocolate cake which came with some fruit, some ice cream and a small flask of raspberry sauce. It was a bit expensive though so you wouldn't want to go everyday.

Reserve your user name

Have you ever tried to find a user name to use on all the sites that make you pick one? Well will let you check a huge list of sites to see if your name is still available. Sadly chris is taken.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Film Addict

Film Addict is a site that lets you find out how many of the IMDB top 250 films you have seen. You can also compare to your friends to see who has seen more of the films.

I've seen 35.6% of the films on the list. You can compare to me here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trees of the Glebe is the website for a small community project that is trying to inventory all the trees in my Ottawa neighbourhood. It is a good example of the sorts of things that you can do now that we have the Internet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lego Yamato

The Brothers Brick has a post, with pictures, of the largest Lego ship ever made. It is 22 feet long and took 6 years to build. You could build you own if you have 200,000 Lego bricks in your basement.

Zeppelin Knot

Mother Earth News has an article about a knot used for securing the mooring lines of Zeppelins and other airships.

The article is from 1980 and quotes someone who trained US Navy airshipmen 50 years before.

via Make
(in an article with a video about using a trucker's hitch to tie down a canoe on a car)

Followup: Survival Topics has an article with a better explanation of how to tie the knot.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunlit Poetry

Make TV has a short video of a project that uses the moving light of the sun to project poetry onto the sidewalk. The video contains a few different items but the sun poetry is the first one.

I'm not big on poetry but this would be a cool idea for a monument or memorial.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Segway Puma

Make has a post with some pictures of a concept vehicle from Segway and GM. It has two wheels and balances like a Segway but the occupants sit site by side and are covered by a roof.

It could but fun for running errands but would probably need a trailer to carry groceries.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Programmer in the Trading Room

New York Magazine has an article by a computer programmer who used to work on derivatives desks in trading rooms in New York. He retired a few years ago and is now an oyster farmer but seems to feel some guilt for his work on systems that packaged mortgage backed securities. My guess is that the traders involved don't feel anything similar.

The article reminded me of several reasons why I don't work in a trading room anymore.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thumb Calendar

Here is an interesting scheme that lets you print an entire year's calendar on a business card. It is called a Thumb Calendar because you use your thumbs to cover the parts of the calendar that you are not using.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

An Eclipse from the Moon

The Japanese Space Agency has an article with pictures of an unusual eclipse. The picture is taken from the moon and the body blocking the sun is the earth.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gap Minder

I have previously blogged about a TED presentation that used an application to show a series of statistics over time. Now the software is available as a flash application at The app is preloaded with all sorts of data that you can compare over time.

There are some demo videos and some preset examples that you can play with. It looks like you can upload your own data if you want to.

Worth checking out. The user interface is extremely well done.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Space station grows again

Astronomy Picture of the day has a nice photo of the newly expanded International Space Station.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A German Serial Killer (or not)

The Questionable Authority has a post about a hunt for a serial killer in and near Germany.
The mystery woman has been linked by DNA to six murders and a string of thefts in a 15-year spree in three countries.
Eventually the DNA was found to belong to a worker at the factory that make the swabs used to gather evidence at crime scenes.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Homemade High Altitude Photos

The Big Picture has a series of photos about some Spanish students who built their own high altitude balloon and sent up a digital camera. Their balloon flew for two hours and reached a height of 30,000 meters (19 miles).

Planets over Australia

Astronomy Picture of the Day has a nice photo of the moon together with Mercury, Jupiter and Mars in the sky over New South Wales.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spacestation Tour

YouTube has a four part tour of the International Space Station. Each part is about 10 minutes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

At the Elephant Wash

National Geographic Photo of the Day has a nice picture of an elephant being washed by its handler.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spitfire for sale

Still looking for the perfect present? The Times has a short article about an air worthy Spitfire that comes up for auction soon. It is expected to sell for GBP 1.5 million.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Autofocus Time Management System

As astute readers will know, while not particularly productive myself, I have always had an interest in productivity systems. The latest one to come up is the Autofocus system.

The Autofocus system is similar to Getting Things Done (GTD) in that you write everything down. The difference is that you have one large list that you cycle through rather than a bunch of smaller context specific ones.

There is a video on the linked to page where the creator of the system explains how it works.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fish Photo

National Geographic has a nice picture of a coi feeding in a pond.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Interview with Alexa

Since the last article I linked to about Alexa got hidden behind a password I'm going to try again with a link to this interview with her.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Flash Game: Splitter

Another Flash game to kill an hour or so.  In Splitter you use a knife to cut ropes and blocks on each game level to try to get the smiley faced ball to roll to the target.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Tracking Presidential Promises

PoliFact has a website that aims to track President Obama's campaign promises and how many of them have been fulfilled. So far he has kept 7, broken 1, is working on 18 and has 482 to go.

This could be quite handy if it were to catch on in other locations and for different levels of government.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

TED Talk: Photosynth demo

This short TED talk (7 minutes) is a demo of some experimental software called Photosynth. The software builds composite images from collections of photos. The really interesting part is how it can find the photos on its own.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Player Piano Rolls

The Buffalo News has an article about the ending of production of player piano rolls. The interesting thing is not so much that they aren't made anymore but that production stopped on 31 December 2008.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

February Smashing Wallpaper

As you can guess from the post title, the February Desktop wallpaper collection is out at Smashing Magazine. I've gone with the lizard picture.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Non-Corporate Annual Report

I'm not sure who Nicholas Felton is but I have read his annual report and he seems to keep track of a lot of data about his life. I can't help but wonder how he does it.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Deserted London

This Flickr set shows the results when you get up early Christmas morning and drive around London taking pictures - the whole place is deserted.

I was especially amazed at the picture of Villiers street - that's the street that turns up from Embankment tube station, its a pedestrian street except for all the cars. It is always packed with people.

Related: The Big Picture has some great aerial shots of London (though these have people in them).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Tom's Laws of Life

Tom Hoobyar presents his Twelve Laws of Life. I don't know who Tom Hoobyar is but the laws are interesting and worth a read, even if they are a big new-agey.

For example, number 8 - Nobody wakes up in the morning choosing to be the villain.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Web Comic: Easter Island Explanation

Truck Delivered Kibble has a comic that finally explains the mystery of what the giant heads are for on Easter Island.
via reddit

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Guide to Urban Exploration

WebUrbanist has a summary post about urban exploration. The links should be enough to get you started on a life of sneaking into abandoned buildings but if you just want to watch some of the linked articles have some great photos.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TED Talk: Third World Stats

The TED conference has another talk, this one about various statistical misconceptions about the developing world. While the statistics themselves are interesting, the graphics that he uses to present them are also worth a look.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New Limo for New President

The Detroit News has an article about the new US presidential limo. Built by GM it seems to be pretty much a custom vehicle made to look like a large sedan.
via Danger Room

Follow up: Bruce Schneier has a blog post with some more links. One is the same graphic linked to in one of the comments below while the LA Times article has an actual picture of the new limo.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Boring Machines

Dark Roasted Blend has an article about the giant machines used to bore underground tunnels.
The machine tows nearly 800 tons of backup equipment through the tunnel, including trailers for electrical support systems, firefighting supplies and even a lunchroom.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Light Cone

A bit of a strange one today, this site provides an RSS feed that lets you know when the theoretical light from the moment of your birth reaches various nearby star systems. Physicists call this a light cone.

For example, 5 months ago my light cone reached 58 Eridani.
edit: fixed typo in star name

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

UK planned secret army in case Germans invaded

The Times has an article about a unit of the Second World War British Home Guard which was to go into hiding in case of German invasion and perform acts of sabotage.
The only clue to their alter egos might have been the pieces of paper in their pockets – informing any police officer suspicious of their behaviour “to ask no questions of the bearer but phone this number”.

Monday, January 12, 2009

TED Talk: Giant Trees

An interesting TED Talk about the giant redwoods in California. Some pictures of climbing / camping up in the canopy and lots of information about what goes on up there. I had never heard that the redwoods were fractal for example.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rotating Mechanical Calculators

Dark Roasted Blend has a post about the old rotating mechanical calculators (the kind that look like pepper grinders). I've never played with one of these but they look like a nice steampunk gadget.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Psychology of a Con

Psychology Today has an article about why people fall for cons.
THOMAS is a powerful brain circuit that releases the neurochemical oxytocin when we are trusted and induces a desire to reciprocate the trust we have been shown--even with strangers.

The key to a con is not that you trust the conman, but that he shows he trusts you. Conmen ply their trade by appearing fragile or needing help, by seeming vulnerable.

The article includes the story of a con played on the author when he worked at a gas station.

Smashing January Wallpaper

Smashing Magazine has its January desktop wallpaper selection. I've gone with the trees.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Abandoned Antarctic Accomodations

Dark Roasted Blend has an interesting article, with some great pictures, of various abandoned human dwellings and installations in Antarctica.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Samurai Horse Archery

Yahoo has an article, with some nice photos, about Yabusame the Samurai art of mounted archery.

Factoid: Hard Drive Facts

Toms Hardware has an article with some interesting information about computer hard drives and the heads therein.
if the read/write head were a Boeing 747, and the hard-disk platter were the surface of the Earth:

  • The head would fly at Mach 800
  • At less than one centimeter from the ground
  • And count every blade of grass

The article is one of those slightly annoying multi-page click throughs.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Last Photos

The List Universe has a post with a list of last photos either of or by various famous people.

The ones found on people's cameras after their deaths are particularly interesting.