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Glorious Mud May 25, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Science.
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Researchers at Cornell are using 3D scanners and printers to produce copies of ancient cuneiform tablets for study. The real thing is needful because sometimes you have to see it from different angles to bring out the writing, etc. The originals are fragile enough that scholars are reluctant to ship them around the world for study, so copies have an obvious advantage.  Another advantage they have is that the 3D print for them can be enlarged with no loss of data, so a larger copy can be more easily read. Brilliant!  Here is an original, a copy and a twice-life-sized copy:


Interested scholars can download this one here.

Speaking of mud, ancient Egyptians built their homes, temples and tombs from mud bricks, which apparently are denser than the silt which makes up the Nile delta…meaning a good IR scan could pick out structures from that time period from under the silt.


This is great, since the Nile changes course frequently and covers over whole towns, like the ancient city of Tanis (sound familiar?).


It turns out that this is precisely what has happened. Seventeen lost pyramids have been identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt. More than a thousand tombs and three thousand ancient settlements were also located by looking at these infrared images which show underground buildings at slightly different temperatures than the surrounding silt. A little digging shows that, yes, there are two pyramids correctly identified—and probably all the other structures as well.  This is apparently a pretty reliable method for finding old structures (in the Nile delta, anyway)

So, overall, a big day for mud.

The title of this blog entry actually comes from the chorus of this song by the legendary Flanders and Swann:

This is only one of dozens of songs, each more charming and funny than anything written since (with the possible exception of the works of Tom Lehrer).

Saturday Night Live Skit May 23, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Toys, Video.
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Not really, but they’re pretty good anyway.  These are electroluminescent sculptures made from EL wire and coathangers, plus probably some RC cars to move them around in the dark.

Cupric Calligraphics May 23, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Photography, Publishing Tools, Toys.
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This guy makes copper printing plate the same way we make circuit boards (ferric chloride).


The prints come out really nicely.  I didn’t ask him what ink he uses, but I suspect it’s a standard oil-based one.  This can be a nice method: you can print delicate traces using this kind of technology just like circuit boards.

Vegan Taxidermy May 23, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Toys.
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This bird sculpture was made from crepe paper (largely).

Quick Steampunk Digital Camera May 23, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants, Toys.
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Steampunk stuff was hacked together for Maker Faire by regular folks:


This one is obviously a quick hack, but not bad considering.


I can see making a more elegant version of this, including maybe a shroud off the back and leather-tooled exterior, but the theme is pretty nice for a quickie.

Windy Wedding May 23, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable, Video.
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We took the scenic route home from Maker Faire and ended up at Ocean Beach where we saw this couple’s triumph wedding procession. However, the wind was ferocious, driving sand into my eyes and the right-hand side of my face, staying there due to the magic of greasy sunblock.  They seemed pretty cheery considering.

They were followed by friends and family who really, really didn’t want to be there:

Safety Video May 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Mutants, Video.
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Ah, the innocence of play.
Ah, the snap! of the cable, the screams of the mothers, the wails of the children before their voices are silenced forever.

Port-a-Potty to the Stars May 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable.
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More like port-a-planetarium.  Cool though, isn’t it?  I imagine the whole thing can be packed in my minivan for camping under the stars, which are helpfully projected inside the dome.

Who Says You Can’t Buy Happiness? May 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Toys.
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Essentail Geek Toiletries

Sparkfun is looking for locations for these vending machines.  This one was mostly selling sensors and displays.  Apparently the markup is enough to pay for the machine the first year, in a good location.  I wonder if NoiseBridge has one?

Consultant May 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Uncategorizable.
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Engineering Advice 5 Cents

I don’t think these guys represent the going rate.

The Ben and Jeri Show at Maker Faire May 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography.
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Mitch Altman, Ben Heckendorn and Jeri Ellsworth discussed how much they had been held back in schools growing up in small towns, while a talking head person spat buzzword-loaded questions at them during today’s Maker Faire here in San Mateo.  I sat in the second row next to Grant Imahara (you know, MythBusters), who was probably trying to wrangle an introduction to Jeri.

I sat next to Grant Imahara at Maker Fair, and all I got was this photo

This is me trying not to be a pesky fan.  You recognize my fingers from previous photos, I’m sure.

I could have asked JulieJulie at Maker Faire

to introduce him, since they seem to be thick as thieves.

Julie and Jeri Ellsworth at Element 14's booth



The light bulb over her head is not an illusion.

Exciting update:


Good job, Grant.

Mondo, From TechZoneCommunications May 21, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Toys.
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Mondo ftom techzonecommunications

No ordinary RepRap, this one is a variation with a 12”x18”x11” print area.  The unassembled kit is 1089.00 while at the Maker Faire (in other words, through tomorrow).  Bring your checkbook.

Arsenic and Old Lace May 18, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Video.
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Trevor Jackson sells this for 1200USD.  Be the first to own it. Or  you can get this for a more approachable 19.99USD:


Speaking of Arsenic and Old Lace, I think it needs a re-viewing.  image

If anyone hasn’t already seen this film, see it right now (if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch it free online right away …nice value, that).

Filed Under “C” May 14, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Photography, Uncategorizable.
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Filed under C

She’s a lot bigger now, and has her own drawer.

Roadkill Haberdashery May 10, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable.
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This glass case full o’ elegantly-dressed rodent/bird skeletons is on display (and on sale) at Dark Garden, your go-to place for pricey but exquisite corsetry and Victorian-era underthings.  I asked, but the salespeople did not know the artist’s name.

Proposed Tsunami Memorial May 9, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Uncategorizable.
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Sadly, this was rejected by the prefecture as too difficult to stabilize.  I think it rather noble of the Japanese to see the horrible beauty of the thing.

To be Fair, I Also Like Puppies May 9, 2011

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image From animalswithstuffedanimals.com.

Never Cared for Tarantino’s Movies May 7, 2011

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Exciting News May 6, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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Charles Stross’ books are available as audio books!  I can’t tell if I will like them better this way, but I’m willing to experiment. I could not get them as easily just by searching for “[author’s name] audio book”, which you would think is the best way. It looks like you can search Amazon for “[author’s name] Audible” and get the results from their Audible catalog.  I suppose this means you have to search under other recording company names for other makers of audio books, like Blackstone Audio Books, Spider Robinson’s audio publisher (Spider Robinson reads his own work, and gets the inflections just right–awesome). This kind of sucks for readers customers who like a certain author, then have to find out which house publishes her/his audio books.

Just sayin’.

N. K. Jemisin – The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms May 4, 2011

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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N. K. Jemisin - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

I have no idea who N.K Jemisin is, but this audiobookis a great story of gods made flesh, and desperate to disincarnate. It is a weird, wonderful examination of magical creatures in human chains.  This book is strange enough that I cannot describe exactly what it is about it that so compels me; let me just say the narrator is really, really good at giving each character her/his own voice, expressions and soul, although assigning a soul to a god is a dicey idea to me (but central to the plot, hint, hint).  That the protagonist is completely helpless except for her wits makes her instantly sympathetic to me, but that may just be my personal lack of self-esteem speaking.  Seriously, if it wasn’t for the sympathy I have for the character I’m not sure I could stand this horror story, because the humans who hold the gods in chains are serious psychopaths.

I suspect I will want to read the rest of her stuff.

Exciting update (um, all my updates are exciting):  the e-book version is 2.99 USD!  Not as exciting as the audiobook, but it’ll get into your hands faster than waiting for the local library to stock the audiobook.  Also, N.K Jemisin has a website, and she’s chatty.  She is, as I suspected, a woman of color and her site seems to say this is her first book, which I think has to be a goddamned lie.  She’s much, much too good for this to be a first book.  I’m not alone in this, she has a cheekfull of award nominations: Hugo, Nebula and the Prix des Imaginales (whatever that is.  I’m America centric, although cultured enough to be embarrassed by it).  She’s probably a lot older than she lets on. 

Also, I found out that actress who read the audiobook is Cassandra Freeman, but her resume doesn’t show this yet…no idea why.