Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Web Pages That Suck: The Afterlife

Friday, September 12th, 2014

So Dwight sent me an ultra-crappy webpage (warning: auto-sound), wondering if it was worse than Bella De Soto’s page. It wasn’t. But it did make me wonder what bold new frontiers in bad web design had been unearth. It’s not as horrible as Bella De Soto’s page either, but it really tries…

Behold The Afterlife! (Allow it to run the Quicktime once for the full effect.)

Well, that is to say what the afterlife would look like if designed by a dozen Geocities webdesigners after a marathon session of huffing paint fumes in a church basement, followed by an explosion at the local animated .gif factory…

Pictures from the Bovington Tank Museum: German Tanks

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

(Cross-posted from BattleSwarm to here for non-political tank buffs.)

I hope you like tanks.

Here’s the first batch of pictures taken at the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset, which I visited on Saturday as a gift to my inner 12-year old. (There are few prospects more pleasing to the preadolescent male mind than being encased in a 30 ton metal killing machine.) The first batch is all German tanks and tank destroyers from World War II. Let’s face it, the Germans had far and away the best tanks, and shortly after the allies managed to catch up, Germany would be about ready to introduce something better. Germany’s problem (as compared to America or the Soviet Union) was an inability to manufacture enough of them. (Good thing for us.) They had an enormous array of German tanks, and probably the best collection outside Germany’s own tank museum in Munster.

The first picture of the first of two King Tigers (AKA Tiger II, AKA K√∂nigstiger, Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B) they had on display. The mosty powerful tank Germany produced during the war, its 88mm main gun could destroy any tank on the battlefield. It didn’t get on the battlefield until 1944, and Germany produced less than 500 of them.

The other Tiger II they had there.

Here you can see the Zimmerite anti-magnetic mine coating the Germans used.

Selfie, with tank.

The first of several tank destroyers.

This is a German tank destroyer that ended up in Finland. Stalin thought he could walk all over Finand, but the Finns tore the Soviets nine different new assholes in the Winter War, though this tank destroyer obviously post-dates 1940.

Alternate barrel used for the Sturmtiger close assault variant.

Here’s an early Panzer Mark I command tank. It’s amazing to realize that the initial German blitzkrieg was carried out with relatively slow, under-armed, and underpowered Mark I and Mark IIs, that, with Heinz Guderian’s new tactics of mechanized warfare, were simply Good Enough.

A Mark II.

I think this is the Mark III, would would be the mainstay of the Wehrmacht armored divisions through the end of the war.

A muzzle-eye view.

Armoured car.

An 88mm field canon.

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