I Read Stuff!!

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


When I was young, Halloween meant giant piles of candy. During college it meant sexy costumes and a night of drunken revelry. These days the pumpkin patch defines the holiday.

Last weekend we ventured out to the 'ta for their pumpkin patch experience. It was my nephew's b-day, so we had quite the crowd of 3ft super heroes escorting us around the grounds. In the back of the patch stood what looked to be a giant moonwalk, but turned out to be an inflatable haunted house.

With tickets in hand, our super team opted for the scary version. This decision elicited mild concern, but we figured it probably wasn't going to be that bad. The kids marched in, and the adults waited in silence.

Fear comes in many forms. The screaming that erupted from within the oversized balloon could only be described as 'visceral'.

The adults all eyed each other. Each kicking themselves for not foreseeing what now seemed so obvious. The kids erupted from the house of all that is evil, wailing, tears streaming down their faces. Parents, reunited with their offspring, soon reinstated order and safety.

While this was happening I was watching the next group of kids. The group of kids who listened to what they believed to be the chilling deaths of all who had entered before them. They knew they were next. Their imaginations had a firm grasp on the terrors arrayed before them. The blood had left their faces long before the exodus of our defeated super group.

They were allowed to enter and they immediately refused, tears springing to their eyes. Either from some misguided attempt to help conquer fear or a decision that they weren't going to waste the $2 entry fee, Grandma decided that her granddaughter was going.

The surreal image will probably live in my memory for the rest of my life. The grandmother lifts the girl into the air and begins stuffing her into the haunted house. The girl, already terrified, snaps. With 'flight' removed from the equation, the little girl pummels her grandmother into submission before the shocked audience.

Grandma and the little girl separated, and both came out ok. Adults and children stunned, we made our way to the exit. The pumpkin patch had more than lived up to its Halloween Holiday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Data Searching

This is a short presentation at a Microsoft conference demonstrating Sea Dragon. Sea Dragon is a method of handling large quantities of visual data in a manner that doesn't crash your computer.

It's quite amazing, and I recommend watching at least to the 6 minute mark. You can skip the BMW commercial at the end.

This is some very fascinating technology. It really stands at the beginning of a new UI paradigm. Its influence stretches from image galleries, to replacing the browser's back button, to 3D representations of sporting events, to defining our interactions with electronic paper and hand held devices.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Busy Busy Bee

We just finished up a major release and are in the throes of planning the next. On top of that I get my very own point release which will go alpha on Friday. Add in our usual weekly adventures and I've been a bit swamped.

I have been catching up, and I should be back to regular postings soon. In a show of good faith, I offer you the largest man made tornado.

Designed to suck smoke out of a potentially burning Mercedes-Benz Museum, the tornado is 113 feet tall, powered by 144 small jets, and moves 140 pounds of air a second.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

To The Moon Alice

The X-Prize is back. It was announced a month ago, so you probably should've already heard that Google has upped the stakes. If you are the first group to land a rover on the moon which can then travel 500 meters while sending high definition images back to earth, you will win $25 million USD. An additional $5 million is reserved for extra credit such as traveling 5,000 meters or surviving a lunar night.

This prize, like the Ansari prize before it, has captured a large number of competitors eager for the publicity and global recognition. I don't think anyone is in it for the money. The problem being that it will cost more than $25 million to win the prize.

This guy did an analysis of the average cost of launching the shuttle into space. In order to place the shuttle in low orbit it costs $20 million. The shuttle weighs a lot more than the rover needed, but the moon is also a lot further away. This also doesn’t include R&D, the rover, and the active hovering mechanism needed to land. All together I figure a successful venture will run about $30 million.

Of course, this is using traditional launch mechanisms. One interesting idea is to travel the first 26 miles by balloon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


What would you do for a buck? Over the summer I drove home past a guy in a pizza costume. He's holding a sign extolling the virtues of Pizza Street in 100 degree weather. The question arises, what pay grade would be required for me to take that job?

How about this pot pressing job?

The easy answer is I would never take such jobs, but life isn't easy. If these positions were the only thing available, perhaps it's not so bad. Oddly enough, the degrading nature of these jobs is what brings the pay grade down rather than up. The people willing to do these jobs will either accept a 6 figure salary or minimum wage with very little between.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Impact Chemistry

Here is some fun goo. I'm sure you've heard it talked about for a while, but it's finally coming into the consumer market. It's a malleable play-doh that allows for easy movement. However, when faced with a large amount of kinetic energy, it hardens and displaces the impact.

Here's a quick video of the product D3O showing the basic capabilities mixed with British humor.

If you prefer Japanese humor, then Geltec's Beta Gel is for you.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Canada Border Control

Ann Wright, a retired senior diplomat for the U.S., was denied entry into Canada yesterday. Her name appeared in the FBI database for criminal records. A database designed to track fugitives, missing persons, violent felons, and potential terrorist.

The reason she was in the database is because she was arrested in the U.S. for protesting the Iraq war. Canada has held a longstanding admissibility requirement that travelers must have a clean criminal record, meaning completely empty.

This seems to be a pretty nasty little problem. I can't really fault Canada for forbidding criminals from entry, but perhaps the definition of a criminal is overly broad. I guess it comes down to the true definition of the FBI Database. Either Ms. Wright's record is too benign to appear in the DB, or Canada needs to be more discriminating with their search results.

Either way, the full extent of punishment for peaceful protesting doesn't fit the 'crime'.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No Smoking

Here in Lawrence we have thankfully passed a smoking ban. It's a real nice one too. No smoking inside public buildings of any kind. It's glorious mainly because I'm a non-smoker. Smokers, as I understand it, aren't as happy.

I've now seen three different types of smokeless cigarettes. I should say I've seen them advertised. No public spotting as of yet, but I have a feeling they are about to become popular.

I'm pretty curious to talk to someone who has used such a device. I'd like to hear how it stands up to a regular cigarette. It appears to have everything a smoker could want: something to put in their mouth, odorless vapor for mouth feel, and of course nicotine. The one difference I see is that each cartridge is equivalent to 2 packs of cigarettes. Unless you are in the habit of smoking 2 packs in a sitting you'll have to get use to not finishing a cigarette.

It seems like the perfect solution for smokers to make the triumphant return to the indoors. At $10 a case it also appears to be a money saving venture. If anyone gets a chance to try one of these or has seen one in the wild, drop me a line.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Cheap Thrills

He he he, this is just silly, but it makes me smile. A group of folks decided to replace their car horn with a train horn.

Now that you've all had your laugh, I'll explain why we're all going to hell. A train horn ranges from 110 dB to 150 dB. That would be starting at a lawn mower, at 110 dB (incidentally, the loudest human burp also occurs at around 110 dB), and ending with a Jet Engine at 150 dB. Pain occurs at 125 dB and permanent hearing damage happens at 140 dB.

So those poor people you just laughed at are actually experiencing surprise and pain. It's no wonder they all run.

GameInterestRelease Date
Civilization IV1
C&C 31
Company of Heroes1
Half Life 21
Half Life 2: Episode One1
Supreme Commander1
Call of Duty 22
Dungeon Runners2
Dungeon Siege II2
Far Cry2
Galactic Civilization II2
Hitman: Blood Money2
Jade Empire2
Neverwinter Nights 22
Sam & Max: Episode 12
Titan Quest2
Dark Messiah Might and Magic3
Heroes of Might and Magic V3
Indigo Prophecy3
LEGO Star Wars3
Marvel Ultimate Alliance3
Space Rangers 2: The Rise of the Dominators3
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl3
Stubbs the Zombie3
War Front3
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos3
Pirates of the Burning SeaM6/1/2007
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars?6/5/2007
Two Worlds?6/26/07
Sins of A Solar Empire?8/1/2007
Mass Effect19/7/07
Age of ConanM10/30/07
Crysis1Fall 2007
Elveon?Fall 2007
Half-Life 2: Episode Two1Fall 2007
Portals1Fall 2007
Spore1Fall 2007
Stranglehold?Fall 2007
Tabula RasaMFall 2007
Team Fortress 22Fall 2007
Dragon Age?Winter 2007
Fable 2?Winter 2007
Field Ops?Winter 2007
Halo Wars?Winter 2007
Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingMWinter 2007
Haze?Winter 2007
Hellgate: London1Winter 2007
HuxleyMWinter 2007
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men?Winter 2007
Left 4 Dead?Winter 2007
The AgencyMSpring 2008
Empire Earth III?Spring 2008
Guild Wars 2 MSpring 2008
Jericho?Spring 2008
Sacred 2?Spring 2008
Savage 2?Spring 2008
Time Shift2Spring 2008
Universe at War: Earth Assault3Spring 2008
The Witcher?Spring 2008
Darkest of Days?2008
On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkeness: Episode 122008
Warhammer OnlineM2008
Alliance: The Silent War??
Alone in the Dark??
Assassin's Creed??
BioWare MMO??
The Crossing??
Dungeon Hero??
Fallout 3??
Lego Batman??
Space Seige??
Culdcept SagaPC??
Gears of WarPC??
God of WarPC??
Beautiful KatamariPC??
Resistance: Fall of ManPC??
Odin's SpherePC??
Castle CrashersPC??

1 - I will buy it
2 - I'll buy it at discount
3 - Other people think it's good, but I wasn't interested when I first heard about it
M - Mainly Multiplayer. See if friends get interested.
? - Find out more about this game
PC? - Will it be released on the PC?