Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Not-So-Secret History of Aeon Flux

If you remember watching Liquid Television in the early 1990's, back when MTV was still tolerable, check out "The Not-So-Secret History of Aeon Flux." Read it quick, before the movie comes along and spoils any pleasant memories you may have had!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The cold that just won't quit.

Once again, a Natalie Dee comic says exactly what I'm feeling.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Extract a tiny but powerful magnet from a AOL CD mailer.

Extracting the magnet.
Originally uploaded by IvyMike.
A photoblog explaining how to extract a tiny but surprisingly powerful magnet from the latest AOL CD mailer. There's bound to be something cool you can do with such a mighty minature magnet!

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Make $200,000 selling Star Wars Legos on Ebay

I've been selling my old Star Wars Lego kits on Ebay. The kits usually sell for about 80% of their original purchase price, and some of the rare kits sell for even more than they originally cost.

But as it turns out, I could have been making even more money if I wasn't above a little "switching upc barcodes" fraud:

"A Nevada man was indicted Wednesday by a Washington County grand jury on charges that he stole an estimated $200,000 worth of Legos from area Target stores."

He's sold $600,000 of Legos since 2002!

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Today is Buy Nothing Day

Just a reminder: today is Buy Nothing Day.

I'm going geocaching. What are you doing?

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Maximum Overdrive

One of the best "bad" movies of the eighties was 1986's Maximum Overdrive, a movie written and directed by Stephen King. The plot: the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, which causes all machines to come alive and destroy humanity.

I joked about Maximum Overdrive coming true recently on Kendra's blog when she had her computer and her iPod die on the same day that my car's CD player died.

But then the alternator on my car died. I got that fixed, but a week later, the starter stopped working and started spewing smoke, leaving me without a vehicle all weekend. I had my friend Anthony drive me to work today, but soon after I got my car back, the battery on HIS car died.

As a scientist, I must draw the only logical conclusion: this planet just passed through the tail of a comet. Just to be safe, go check out the "How To Survive A Robot Uprising" site.

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UPDATE: Craig just told me his wireless router died. Don't say I didn't warn you! (Craig blames EMP bomb testing, though.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Corn Starch Solution

This first part is for people who have never experienced the magic of a corn starch solution. You should try this right now: put a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch in a bowl and slowly mix in some water. You'll get a solution that behaves like a liquid as long as it's not under pressure. Stir it too quickly, though, and the long starch molecules bind together. You'll actually "crack" the liquid. If you keep pressure on it, you can form it into a ball that you can hold in your hands, but it will instantly melt if you stop abusing it. It's a very weird material, and it's a science experiment that's totally worth the five cents it costs.

Ok, now that everyone's on the same page: go watch the video of 'vibrated shear thickening fluids' on the top of this page. By mechanically vibrating a solution of corn starch, the researchers keep it under constant stress, with totally counter-intuitive results. They can form holes in the liquid, and can also get it to form self-replicating and evil-looking 'fingers'.

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Every Playboy Centerfold, 1988-1997

Every Playboy centerfold, 1988-1997. In a single image, per-pixel averaged together.

It's got a very Shroud of Turin feel to it.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

I like glue

Take a moment to sit back and appreciate something you probably take for granted: modern adhesive technology. Today's glue, applied correctly, can work miracles. I'm not the only fan; science fiction author Bruce Sterling was preaching that we live in the golden age of glue back in 1993!

How do you know which glue is the right one? A good starting place is This to That, which lets you input two different materials to be adhered and recommends a glue. (Even if you think this whole post is silly, someday you'll thank me for that URL.) And even though they're not updating it anymore, their "Glue of the Month" glue spotlight is fascinating stuff.

My personal glue tip: surface preparation is key. Washing both surfaces with warm soapy water will remove oils that would otherwise ruin the bond.

Why am I thinking about glue? I'm off to buy some "Shoe Goo II" to repair my shoes. Shoes flex, so you need to use an adhesive will also flex and won't become brittle; Shoe Goo fits the bill perfectly.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Everything on the Simpsons comes true eventually: McRib farewell tour

Remember the episode of the Simpsons where Homer becomes addicted to the Krusty Ribwich? (The Ribwich substitutes for heroin in the "Requiem For A Dream" montage.) When the Ribwich is discontinued in Springfield, Homer follows the Krusty Ribwich tour around the country with a bunch of fellow "ribheads."

Back to the real world: The McRib sandwich is beginning a farewell tour.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005, the comics search engine.

I read quite a few webcomics, and often I remember a particular strip and want to send it out weeks or months later. Until now, it's always been difficult to search for that strip; usually, you were stuck with manually combing the archives. "I think that strip about hipster hair styles came out sometime last year" is not a scalable search algorithm.

Enter the brand new search engine,"Oh No Robot". The genius bit is the distributed nature of transcription: fans of a comic can enter transcripts, but the author gets to review and approve the transcript before it's added. They've used this system to make over 5000 comics searchable in just three days! Right now, they're indexing 72 sites, but I'm sure that list will quickly grow.

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What's That Bug?

Have you ever seen a strange new insect that you wanted to identify? I did, a few weeks ago when I was out looking for "The Bench" geocache. I ran into an enormous, slow-flying beetle; it was easily the largest bug I've ever seen in the wild. (Bigger even than the Jerusalem crickets that are common around this area!)

Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera, so I don't know exactly what it was, and the picture on the left is just a random cool photo from What's That Bug.

Even though I never managed to figure out what insect I was dealing with, I still had a lot of fun browsing the information and photos at these bug resource sites:
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Sunday, November 06, 2005

Boney Mountain

One of the Tri-Peaks
Originally uploaded by IvyMike.
Photos from my hike up Boney Mountain.

UPDATE: Here's a link to a Google Earth plot of the GPS track data for this hike.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Too Many Hummers

The Mess That Greenspan Made has a great post uncovering a local Hummer dealership, unable to sell their hideous product, hiding their overstock at remote parking lots.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Does this poll A) Suck, or B) Blow?

In case it changes, here's a screenshot of a poll from Bill Frist's web site: "Why do you think the Democrats shut down the Senate yesterday?"

I guess he wants the republicans to be known as the "Party of No Options".

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"River IQ Game"

A co-worker sent this "get the people across the river" puzzle to me a few days ago. (Embedded in a powerpoint presentation...Ugh!)

Start by reading the rules and hit the big round button--you're trying to get everyone across the river. If it happens that you can't read Japanese, I believe the rules are:
  • You can't send the boat across empty, and it can hold one or two people.
  • The boat can't be sent across with only children or only the criminal: a parent or the cop must be on the boat.
  • The boys can't be on the same side as the mom unless the dad is also present.
  • The girls can't be on the same side as the dad unless the mom is also present.
  • The criminal can't be on the same side as anyone unless the cop is also present.
It's actually much easier than it sounds: there aren't all that many legal moves at any point, and if you do go down the wrong branch, it won't be long before you discover it.

Looks like the puzzle originally came from ""; maybe a Japanese speaker could help us out and let us know what that site's about?

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Netflix on Tivo dead.

I missed this story from two weeks ago: Netflix on Tivo is dead.

Stupid, short-sighted movie industry. Those you fear would steal your movies are already doing it today, and now the people who wanted to pay for this service legally cannot. Way to go.

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Black Dude & Chinese Lady Cell Phone

The best name for a business, ever. At the Berkeley flea market.

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