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Showing posts from 2009

Avatar movie in 3D

That was amazing. I think the gizmodo review got it right. There's not much point talking about the plot, or for that matter the science. But the visual reproduction of an alien environment that really looked and felt real, was accomplished. And I can include the whole panoply of living things that swirl around in that jungle for the first time, including the humanoid aliens. The forms and iridescence of the creatures were chosen to grab attention and impress, but they were plausibly real.
I can't think of one time that I was pulled out of the visual and visceral experience by something that looked fake.
Avatar on imdb.

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Engrossing, I was surprised. I have not read his earlier American Gods, but now I intend to. I liked the exploration of some mythic arcs, with the trickster as the centerpiece.
Anansi Boys at PBSwap

Giant puffballs

We ran into some giant puffball mushrooms on Bolin Creek trail a few weeks ago. I haven't looked them up, but I assume there aren't too many kinds of white puffballs that grow to be soccer-ball sized! There were two within 5 feet of each other, just off the trail under some brush and trees; unfortunately we haven't been back to check on them to see how they matured.

Successful Shitake mushroom logs

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First fruiting of Shitake mushrooms from a workshop I did in April, with 12-20 plugs per log. The smaller log has the two clusters and one more mushroom in back, but the big log only has one mushroom so far. The smaller log has been soaked twice, though.

A friendly treefrog

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Sitting on our window after a rainstorm.

Arduino, MotorShield and GearMotor

I just solved a problem with some prompting from ladyada, so I thought I'd post:
http://forums.ladyada.net/viewtopic.php?f=31&t=12012
Isn't it great when site admins participate in the site?

I soldered up my adafruit Motor Shield Kit v1.0, for use with my Arduino Decimila. Plugged it in, nothing. But wait! Remember that the motor shield needs external power. So I soldered on the 'pwr' jumper header that I forgot before, found a 9V wall-wort, and plugged it in. Now the power LED on the motor shield lights up. Great! Twisted a few wires to my Solarbotics Gear Motor GM2, and tried the example DC motor program - forward 1 sec, reverse 1 sec, stop 1 sec. It does something, but it doesn't seem to really 'turn-on', it just jumps or pulses in the correct direction, and then sits. I hook the GM2 to some batteries, and it turns nice and strong, about 0.5 rev/sec. So something is wrong.

I found a forum post that described the problem beautifully, but with no solution,…

Cool mushroom siting

At least until they got mowed! We saw several big clumps of a leafy clustered mushroom, a polypore, a foot or so in diameter, like Hen of the Woods. However, I think it's too hot and too early for hen-of-the-woods, so this must be a look alike. They are scattered through the lawn in a vacant lot, and the day after we saw them, the lawn got mowed! I think they are eating the roots of two huge oak trees that fell down and had their stumps removed. I think it's been four years or so since those trees fell.

Mushrooms!

We've been on a mushroom kick recently. We've ordered at least twice from Fungi Perfecti, 8 mushroom kits at 600 plug spawn. I attended a workshop on April 4 at the Abundance Foundation in Pittsboro, to get me started. I came home with three logs with plugs from Shitake and Oyster mushrooms.

It turned out the instructor, Bob Armantrout, had attended a workshop from the man behind Fungi Perfecti, Paul Stamets. We've now got two of his books, Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save The World and Growing Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms. I've mostly looked at the pictures, and read small sections, but Alexa has read most of them.

I intend to post much more about mushrooms, and show results.

Cameras, cameras

Can you get SLR performance in a smaller camera? The 'micro four-thirds' camera has the same sensor as some models of the Olympus DSLR, but sacrifices the view finder and mirror to put it in a smaller body. Initial impressions are good:
Olympus E-P1 Hands-on Preview
It has a focal-length multiplier of 2x, compared to 1.6x for a Cannon Dig Rebel, so it has a smaller sensor.

A co-worker looked at the compact super-zoom category and decided on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 based on the strong review. I can see the attraction. Especially for photographing wildlife, as he hopes to do.

Rock Stacking | GeekDad

I can't quite believe the pictures, which makes me really want to try it.
Rock Stacking | GeekDad

Firefox will not remember my cookies between sessions fix

I had a weird problem with Firefox 3.0 - every time I restarted it would loose the log-ins to websites, and the configuration of my tiddly-wiki. I figured out it wasn't saving cookies. I read some Mozilla web pages and found that cookies are stored in my Mozilla profile, in cookies.sqlite. Explorer said the 160 Kb file hadn't been modified since January! Being the skeptic I am, I closed Firefox and deleted cookies.sqlite. Problem fixed - Firefox re-created a 2 Kb file, and my cookies are now saved between sessions.

Who are these Dilbert book buyers, anyway?

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Weird post from Scott Adams today.

But that's only what lead me here, to Scott's new book,
and the really REALLY weird things a few people buy with the book:

96% buy the item featured on this page: Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert 4.6 out of 5 stars (32)
$49.30
2% buy Bliss-Philips Bikini Perfect Deluxe HP6378 Spa-At-Home Grooming System3.8 out of 5 stars (55)
$49.99
1% buy Panasonic ES8078S Vortex HyrdraClean Wet/Dry Shaving System4.2 out of 5 stars (111)
$85.19
1% buy Sterling Silver 6mm Round Amethyst Stud Earring and Pendant Set, 18"
Really? 2% buy a Bikini wax kit? Really?

Hard drive crash and moving Vista

Well, I tried. I built a Vista x64 computer, with a new Intel i920, and a nVidia Quadro 5500 (which is 7xxx generation in game cards). It's very nice, but the Western Digital Black Caviar 1 Tb hard drive started to have bad sectors 2 months after first boot.

I tried to follow these directions about moving Vista, but I was stymied. Don't get me wrong - it is very cool that you can drop to a command prompt using the Vista install DVD, and run all kinds of tools, diagnostics, and tests. The directions use 'diskpart' and 'robocopy' to move data and a Windows install from an old hard drive to a new one.

I installed a Raid 1 array to replace the failing hard drive, and successfully copied the data, but I couldn't get Vista to 'repair' after copying to that Raid array. I put all the lurid details in a comment. Sometimes these examples of someone else succeeding or failing help me out a lot, so I try to contribute to the cloud.

Review: The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright

Compelling, disturbing, surprising. It synthesizes a huge amount of information from other publications and documents, and hundreds of interviews by the author to give a clear portrait of Bin Laden and the organization he helped create. I was shocked by the clear presentation of the failure of information sharing between the CIA and FBI, and how a bit more cooperation could have lead the FBI to catch some of the 9/11 terrorists before the event.

PBSwap page.