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A User Wants Something? Outrageous!!! March 26, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Uncategorizable.
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I use Microsoft’s Team Foundation Server when tracking bugs, writing test plans from the Work Items, etc. and sometimes want to print out the descriptions of them…which, as formatted by default is 207 pages today.  I want just the ID number, Work Item type, the Title the Description AND THAT’S ALL.  I looked for formatting information on http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums and found one of Microsoft’s MVPs had responded to a similar question with:

“Visual Studio provides a way to print work items (either the details or a list).

Why is that not enough [sic] for you?”

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson March 23, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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A gung-ho Marine circumnavigates three theaters of World War Two as a member of a code-breaking commando squad and part-time deserter.  Or a modern-day hacker gets involved with money-laundering by an eccentric Catholic priest.  Or the hacker’s grandfather breaks Nazi code involving an old friend and a Japanese gold cache that could fund a continent’s worth of currency.  Or a Japanese miner figures out the war is lost and tries to cut his personal losses.

Actually, it’s all of these things mixed together and, in the audiobook I heard, the characters perfectly execute their lines, which add immeasurably to the overall effect.  That’s very good since the book itself is really long, like many of the Neal Stephenson novels, and listening to someone read it poorly would hurt very badly.  No worries here, then; the narrator is William Dufris, who also read Old Man’s War by John Scalzi on Audible.  Each time I hear him read a book (I think I have heard five of them now) I am more impressed by his delicacy of character realization, diversity of styles and just plain human-ness that he brings to each voice.  I’m so glad I stopped acting. I just feel inadequate after hearing his readings.

The action in this book hums right along, never leaving the reader feeling bored or antsy.  Along the way there is a great deal of discussion of code-breaking techniques and information theory (not so much of that, really, but more than I get short of a textbook), wrapped up in how geeky people are, and how they relate to the mundanes (you know who you are).

Get it here.  Read it.

I Need a Day at the Beach Right Now March 22, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Photography, Uncategorizable.
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I need a day at the beach real bad, just now.

Super-fast Transistors from Graphene March 20, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Science.
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These guys from Institut d’Electronique, de Microélectronique et de Nanotechnologie in Villaneueve d’Ascq, France and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois have published a modest little paper in Nano Letters1 detailing the delightful electrical properties of electrophoretically-deposited graphene on a polyimide sheet: the charge mobility in the transistors is in the region of 100 cm2/Volt second, a far higher value than those of semiconductor molecules or polymers. These transistors get very high frequencies – around 8 GHz – a level of performance never before obtained in organic electronics, and it’s very, very flexible.  “Our graphene flexible transistors have current gain cutoff frequencies of 2.2 GHz and power gain cutoff frequencies of 550 MHz. Radio frequency measurements directly performed on bent samples show remarkable mechanical stability of these devices and demonstrate the advantages of solution-based graphene field-effect transistors over other types of flexible transistors based on organic materials.” So, here’s another good candidate method for making the roll-up video screens I want for my Phone oph the Phuture(tm).  The synthesis of the materials is apparently not difficult.

1. Nano Letters is an absolute joy to read this week.  Talk about forehead-smacking physical surface chemistry done on impossibly-detailed, infinitely-small substrates, this bunch of whackos has actually gone and made pH-Programmable DNA Logic Arrays Powered by Modular DNAzyme Libraries.  I always thought that DNA-based calculators were kind of a fever dream of futurists, science-fiction writers and other whack jobs, but serious geeks are already working on it and are mad enough to publish in a peer-reviewed journal.  There are sundry other miracles of the surface chemist’s art, things I never dreamt when I was a lad at school late nights all alone at the test tube, oh, oh, oh, oh.

3D Printing of Molecules March 19, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Brilliant words, Science, Toys.
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Remember when I wrote about the home-made Scanning Tunneling Microscope (SCM for short) a while back?  Well, an SCM can also act as a 3D printer down at the atomic level, placing one atom at a time and building structures never intended by nature.  Here is one, a graphene-esque deposition of carbon monoxide on a(n infinitely-smooth) copper plate. Besides the fact that this is even possible there are some really extraordinary things about this arrangement of atoms, and what it does to the electons in this configuration: electrons in this structure have graphene-like properties. Unlike ordinary electrons, they appear to have no mass and travel as if they are moving at the speed of light in a vacuum. It seems the carbon monoxide repels the free-flowing electrons on the copper surface, forcing them into a graphene-like honeycomb pattern.

"The behavior of electrons in materials is at the heart of essentially all of today’s technologies," said Hari Manoharan, associate professor of physics at Stanford and a member of SLAC’s Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, who led the research. "We’re now able to tune the fundamental properties of electrons so they behave in ways rarely seen in ordinary materials."

In typical deadpan sciencespeak understatement, the modest doctor says "Our new approach is a powerful new test bed for physics. Molecular graphene is just the first in a series of possible designer structures. We expect that our research will ultimately identify new nanoscale materials with useful electronic properties."  Here’s one:

This is a version of molecular graphene where electrons are tuned to respond as if they’re experiencing a very high magnetic field (red areas) when none is present. Scientists from Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory calculated the positions where carbon atoms in graphene should be to make its electrons believe they were being exposed to a magnetic field of 60 Tesla, more than 30 percent higher than the strongest continuous magnetic field ever achieved on Earth (a 1 Tesla magnetic field is about 20,000 times stronger than the Earth’s). They put the carbon monoxide molecules (black circles) in those positions and the electrons responded by behaving exactly as expected — as if they were exposed to a real field.

This radically alters the electron’s characteristics: it changes the symmetry of the electron flow. Elsewhere, researchers were able to finely tune the density of electrons on the surface by introducing defects or impurities. By writing complex patterns that mimicked changes in carbon-carbon bond lengths and strengths in graphene, the researchers were able to restore the electrons’ mass in small, selected areas.

Now do you see why I’m excited by 3D printing?  If we can fundamentally alter the behavior of subatomic particles in a repeatable, programmable fashion using computer-controlled STMs, we can make matter have properties we desire, rather than what nature demands.  This high-magnetic field without a magnet, for example could conceivably be used for tiny data storage units, and let’s face it, we’re going to need a lot of that in the future.  That’s just one thing, and I’m not even thinking hard about this (I have real work to do).

Editing by Cat March 17, 2012

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Good table:


Perfect table:


Usually It Takes Longer March 15, 2012

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The Inevitable Outcome: The Movie March 15, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Video.
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The Inevitable Outcome March 15, 2012

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The Third Rock Outdoor Fire Pit is shaped like Earth, made from one quarter inch-thick carbon steel and yours for a mere $1,679.

Don’t Be Afraid March 14, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Octopus.
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It’s plastic, and unlikely to rule the world.

Cuteness personified.

Where 3D Printing Should Be Headed March 13, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in 3D Printing, Awesome, Geek Stuff, Science, Toys.
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Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now made a major breakthrough in speeding up three dimensional printing at the nanoscale resolution. The high-precision-3D-printer at TU Vienna is orders of magnitude faster and opens up completely new areas of application, like medicine.

This is done by combining two improvements: one, in the extremely precise way in which the laser’s mirrors are accelerated and decelerated (details boring, will not trouble you with this) and two, the chemistry of the resin.  The resin has some initiator molecules which induce polymerization when hit by TWO photons from the laser, which only happens in the very center of the beam.  Subtle and tricky, since this can be focused very precisely in all three dimensions.  The focal point of the laser beam is guided through the resin by the aforementioned movable mirrors and leaves behind a polymerized line of solid polymer just a few hundred nanometers wide, allowing creation of intricately structured sculptures as tiny as a grain of sand.

This video shows the 3d-printing process in real time: one hundred layers, consisting of approximately 200 single lines each, are produced in four minutes.

Beat that, RepRap.

3D-printer with nano-precision

A 75-nanometer model of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna.

In contrast to conventional 3D-printing techniques, solid material can be created anywhere within the liquid resin rather than on top of the previously created layer only. Therefore, the working surface does not have to be specially prepared before the next layer can be produced which saves a lot of time. A team of chemists led by Professor Robert Liska (TU Vienna) developed the suitable initiators for this special resin.

3D-printer with nano-precision

The London Tower Bridge, also pretty small.

Researchers all over the world are working on 3D printers today. Because of the dramatically increased speed, much larger objects can now be created in a given period of time. This makes two-photon-lithography an interesting technique for industry. At the TU Vienna, scientists are now developing bio-compatible resins for medical applications. They can be used to create scaffolds to which living cells can attach themselves facilitating the systematic creation of biological tissues. The 3d printer could also be used to create tailor-made construction parts for biomedical technology or nanotechnology.

Jan Torgersen (l) and Peter Gruber (r) im 3D-Drucker-Labor

Jan Torgersen (l) and Peter Gruber (r) and the fastest 3D nanoprinter ever!

I am very interested in seeing how long it will be before custom electronics and analytical biochips are made using these techniques, like all those science fiction authors said would happen in nanobot medicine.  Just sayin’.

Redundancy March 12, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Toys.
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I can’t imagine the kind of guy who needs to be double-shot to be killed.  Seriously, this looks like a Tarantino gun, and that is not intended as a compliment.

Exciting update:


For some reason this reminds me of my razor.

Ready For My Close Up, Mr. DeMille March 11, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Photography.
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image Looks sort of like Jeff Goldblum, doesn’t he?

A2DP With My Windows CE HTC8125 Phone March 11, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Geek Stuff.
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The BlueTooth stereo stack for A2DP isn’t installed and therefore stereo BT headphones won’t play stereo from your media player (use GSPlayer, it’s much friendlier than the MS product, and free) even though you can use normal microphony and such for phone calls. It just doesn’t  work with my HTC8125 (rebranded through ATT as Cingular 8125).  As you know, Microsoft stopped supporting this OS years ago, and never did make a fix for this.  Some hacker somewhere did, and if you look forever on Google, you will find it (cheat and use xda-developers.com and rapidfiles.com).  You are looking for two files named a2dpfix.cab and zoa2dp_113.cab and these instructions:

Connect your phone with ActiveSync, when its done click explore. drag and drop these two files to that folder (extra points if you know your way around the phone to do this without me telling you how). Go to your phone and click File Explorer from programs. If you don’t see those two files at the bottom then click the My Documents folder and you should see them there. Click a2dpfix.cab first and when it installs, reset your phone(tiny reset button next to your camera button). Repeat with the zoa2dp_113.cab file, and reset again. Install your headphones and you should see a new profile….stereo headset…make sure that’s clicked and setup your BT normally.

All this is necessary because my mp3 players keep getting their jacks destroyed by me carrying them around all the time…no ruggedizing for actual activities, like walking.

Not that I’m cranky about spending DAYS finding this solution.  I wouldn’t want you to think that.

I Thought Cats Made Demanding Pets March 11, 2012

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elephant love

I guess it’s a matter of perspective.

Futility March 11, 2012

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I often find it hard to get my stepdaughters’ attention.

Origami Octopus March 9, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Octopus, Toys.
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Designed and folded by Swiss origami artist Sipho Mabona, probably from a single sheet in classical origami fashion.

I Told You So March 9, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Photography, Science.
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Results of the sun’s ejecta from that little incident, coming down over Iceland.  Be glad it wasn’t particularly pointed at Earth.

Your Cat Doesn’t Want To Dress Up, Either March 8, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Hello Kitty, Uncategorizable.
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Hello, Kitty.


Nice kitty.

Two-headed, Six-legged Tortoise March 6, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Mutants, Video.
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Neat.  Has two hearts, but one stomach, and is therefore philosophically challenged as well as locomotionally hampered by the desire to go two different places at once.