Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

An Overview of Gene Wolfe’s Time at Plant Engineering Magazine

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Nigel Price alerted me to his short but interesting piece on Gene Wolfe’s time at Plant Engineerring magazine, where he got to write on a number of interesting engineering subjects, including robotics. (And there are a number of other pieces up at Ultan’s Library (which boasts an A-List cast of Gene Wolfe scholars) worthy of your attention. ) It, in turn, quotes the Nova Express interview I did with Gene at the 1998 Baltimore Worldcon (which I think is worth your attention if you haven’t read it already).

Alas, Gene won’t be able to make the San Antonio Worldcon, since the folks at DragonCon have evidently paid his way there instead….

Happy 44th Birthday, Apollo 11

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

To celebrate the 4th anniversary of the moon landing, here’s footage from For All Mankind, with Brian’s Eno’s “An Ending (Ascent)” on the soundtrack.

I recommend both the movie and the soundtrack.

Colin Furze is Completely Insane. I Really Respect That.

Saturday, June 15th, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Colin Furze! He’s sort of like the Mythbusters or Junkyard Wars if they did things that were dangerously stupid.

10-horsepower motorized baby carriage? Check.

Jet-powered bicycle? Check.

Kids! Don’t try this at home! Or, really, anyplace else. Ever. (Unless you work for Survival Research Labs. Then go for it!)

Music by UK punk band March to the Grave, which probably understates the dizzying speed at which Furze will reach that goal.

Here he is riding a home-built, classic Wall of Death in a scooter:

And here he is bailing off the Wall of Death.

Furze has his own YouTube channel and website. He also has an infectious enthusiasm, probably engendered by repeated head trauma.

Godspeed you, Colin Furze! I look forward to seeing many more videos from you until your inevitable grisly demise!

(Hat tip: Weird Universe, where Paul Di Filippo is among those hanging out.)

Pointless and Awesome

Monday, June 10th, 2013

There are many things that are pointless, and some that are awesome.

Here’s something that’s both:

Pointless: Because there’s absolutely no practical point in having your food delivered by quadrocopter if your waitress has to stand there and guide the Quadrocopter to your table using an iPad.

Awesome: Because they’re still flying food to your table in a quadrocopter.

I may have to eat there when I’m in London for Worldcon next year…

A Hole In the Water Into Which You Pour Money

Friday, May 10th, 2013

I never cared about the America’s Cup, which has always been a race for rich guys to compete against each other. But this article on the crash of Oracle’s radical 13-story, rigid-sail driven ship is fascinating from both engineering and failure analysis perspectives.

Post crash footage:

And here’s Mark 2 of the boat, back on the water and hydroplaning:

Like most Oracle products, the ship seems to need a large number of consultants to keep it operating…

Technology Marches On!

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Is your retroincabulator up to snuff?

XKCD’s Time

Sunday, March 31st, 2013

It’s easy to assume that everyone in the world follows Randall Munroe’s geeky online stickman webcomic XKCD, since it seems all my friends do. For those that don’t, last Monday he put up a strip called “Time.” This strip, like his uber-large “Click-and-Drag”, plays with the conventions of the form. “Time” started out with a static, non-gag image with the hover-over label “wait for it.” Since then, he’s updated the image every half-hour to an hour, even though he’s done new strips on the usual M-W-F schedule. If you follow the images in order, “Time” shows two people (which XKCD devotees have dubbed “Cueball” and “Megan”) building a sand castle.

Here’s an animated gif of the images so far:

Here’s a quicker version, which you can also step through, speed up, slow down, etc.

Here’s the explanation page for it, as well as its own Wikia. We now have a real-life version of those people obsessively tracking online image snippets from Pattern Recognition, except we actually know who they’re from.

The obvious metaphor is how time continues to flow and things change when you’re not watching.

As of this writing, the images are still being updated. Munroe could keep updating that one comic for a long, long, er, time, especially if he decreases the update rate.

Conceivably, “Time” could be a long-running conceptual art project and keep updating for the rest of our lives, and beyond, like that German church playing John Cage’s “As Slowly as Possibly” for 629 years…

All Glory [ ]

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Random Google auto-completes that amuse me:

All glory…

  1. …is fleeting

  2. …to the Hypnotoad

Pictures from the 2012 Chicago WorldCon: Friday

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

The obligatory Stina Leicht picture:

Stina was a John W. Campbell Award nominee this year, and she moderated a panel that included Gene Wolfe, Martha Wells, and Joan D. Vinge (below).

After the panel I had lunch with Gene Wolfe, Gary K. Wolfe (below), Gene’s daughter Teri Goulding, and Gary’s girlfriend Stacie Hanes.

Gary ordered the Frank Gehry Sandwich, impressively postmodern and completely impractical.

Alaskan David Marusek:

Laura Ann Gilman. “Smile broadly! Drink heavily!”

Bookseller and Tiger Eye Press publisher Chris Edwards:

Allen Steele.

Jim Minz and Catherine Asaro. I trust you can guess which is which.

James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel and David Marusek. “Look into my eyes!”

Toastmaster and SFWA President John Scalzi:

Apple: The Most Valuable Company in the History of the World

Monday, August 20th, 2012

Today Apple became the most valuable publicly traded company of all time. Not bad for the once “beleaguered” company which has been declared dead more times than pretty much any other company.

Here’s a quick history of the company pre-iPhone:

And here’s a quick visual look at of a few of Apple’s computers over the years: