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His Plan to Own Lakefront Property Advanced December 18, 2016

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I hope my new weather machine does not work better than I thought.

EXCITING UPDATE: everyone knows about the flooding and the two atmospheric rivers.  Very sorry about that.

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Unity3D Game Engine November 8, 2016

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If you already know a few things about coding in Java or C#, you can probably cobble together a few different types of games using Unity3D’s game engine. I can state this with fair confidence as I have done just that following their video tutorials with slavish adherence to every bit (and byte, I suppose) of their coding advice.  The Unity3D game engine will allow you to compile to a number of different operating systems; I built an Android app and a web-based sample you can see here.  It’s a fun little space shooter a la Galaxians, but a bit more primitive.  I was just thrilled to make it work with so little knowledge of C#.

I’m an idiot; I am sure you all can do better.  The video tutorials on Unity’s site show examples of 2D and 3D games, both perspective and first person games.  There’s lots of shooting, but there doesn’t need to be (Katamari Damacy, anyone?); be creative. 

My personal dreamscape of computer games involves cutlery fighting with crockery; YMMV.

Perovskite’s Progress September 4, 2016

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The Problem: we need power that is renewable and carbon-neutral.

Potential Solutions: nuclear, wind, hydro and solar.

Potential Problems With the Potential Solutions:

Nuclear—waste segregation  for 100,000 years, expensive plants that only last 50 years at best

Wind—not always available, but good start

Hydro—not nearly enough rivers and too many snail darters

Solar—expensive, and we need a lot of them

Solution: make solar so cheap as to be ubiquitous by economics alone. Traditional silicon cells have to be made in expensive, high-temperature processes, like growing a single crystal and slicing it, sputtering other materials on it, etc. Enter alternative materials, such as perovskite (CaTiO3. Actually XIIA2+VIB4+X2−3, but I digress). Perovskites can be manufactured with low-cost, low-energy wet methods (except maybe some annealing of deposited TiO3 ). In one-step solution processing, a lead halide and a methylammonium halide can be dissolved in a solvent and spin coated onto a substrate. Such spin-coated cells recently have shown efficiencies above 20%, competitive with silicon cells. You can make perovskite cells at home without spincoating:

The weird thing about the preceding video is that it was one of many.  A LOT of people are looking into perovskites for solar power applications…which is good, because there are a few problems.

Perovskites are prone to degrade under air and water. Bummer, seeing as how solar cells sit on rooftops with lots of both handy.  Researchers have begun to tackle this problem, most recently from the Graphene Flagship at Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) and the University of Rome Tor Vergata, who have significantly enhanced the stability of perovskite solar cells by adding a MoS2 buffer layer to retain 93% of the initial light conversion efficiency after 550 hours, compared to only 66% for cells without the MoS2 buffer layer. This is impressive as heck, especially since the MoS2 layer is sprayed on, keeping costs and power requirements low. Evidently the MoS2 layer prevents ion migration from the electrode, and aids in hole mobility.

 

Homework:

Solar Cells: Few-Layer MoS2 Flakes as Active Buffer Layer for Stable Perovskite Solar Cells (Adv. Energy Mater. 16/2016)

Light Show June 30, 2016

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When I was a boy all we had were clock crystals, dye, oil and overhead projectors. Of course LSD was legal then, so it seemed as impressive as Jupiter.

My Enemies are Vanquished May 19, 2016

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I promised no more posting until my enemies were vanquished, and I mostly kept my word.  I can tell because readership has dropped precipitously in the last year. Now my house is (mostly) finished and I started a contract job helping rescue some semiconductor company documents, our stuff is moved to a lovely house in the Frozen North and my feet don’t hurt so much.  Along the way my wife and I both lost our fathers and I developed sciatica bad enough to require an emergency room visit which gave me pneumonia requiring a second emergency room visit.  I discovered some really lovely people work in hospitals (it’s a pity I don’t remember the second visit. Pneumonia does that, apparently). I also discovered that my wife has a real talent for project management, that my relatives and in-laws are kind and generous, and that my friends come through in a pinch.

Thank you all.

We will resume our faithful coverage of strange Stuff I Like including science, technology, all things geeky and some things humorous, especially if your idea of humorous is anything like mine (probably not).  Basically, whatever I am thinking about for half an hour at lunchtime.

Lex Luthor’s Successor May 18, 2016

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A Wannabe Supervillain Built His Own Thermite Cannon

Colin Furze has a new toy. It’s a thermite cannon, or maybe a thermite grenade launcher. As a first prototype, it is excellent; as a R&D guy I have to tell  him that users are not going to be satisfied with so bulky and heavy a weapon.  He needs some engineers to optimize for manufacturing as well.  Still, it is a very satisfying proof of concept.

See, this is the sort of thing I want to do when I retire.

BeerCam June 13, 2015

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Taylorsville is the home of a number of, um, colorful characters. This fellow had a unique approach to the self-documented life.

Servant April 24, 2015

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When a doctor dies broke serving his fellow man he’s really served them.

Exciting update:

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I Googled Ukulele Karaoke March 14, 2015

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The results were nowhere as terrible as you might have imagined.  I found that that “ukulele karaoke” is the best way to learn a few uke songs fast.  My sainted sister got a ukulele at Newtonmas and hasn’t touched it, so I lent her a hand.

I Googled Ukulele Karaoke March 14, 2015

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The results were nowhere as terrible as you might have imagined.  I found that that “ukulele karaoke” is the best way to learn a few uke songs fast.  My sainted sister got a ukulele at Newtonmas and hasn’t touched it, so I lent her a hand.

Good! I Can Skip The Learning Part! March 13, 2015

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Better for everyone that way.

Safer, too.

You Know Who Will Win March 11, 2015

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Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan February 23, 2015

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Apocalypse Cow is World War Z, with cows.

Since it is told in the British English style it is, in fact, as hilarious as that scenario can be, which is considerably.  No, really:

"Apocalypse Cow made me snort with laughter." — Terry Pratchett

‘nuff said.

The Story of India February 23, 2015

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As a closeted history geek, I am often driven to confess my adoration for particularly informative books or films.  India is probably the best place to start developing a ridiculous love of history, because they have so much of it. The Story of India displays lovely glimpses into some of India’s glorious and notorious past, from the 5000-year old plumbing to temple rites conducted continuously for two thousand years, unchanged in the same temple.

Ancient Romans worried about the balance of payments to India.  How’s THAT for perspective?

This two-disk BBC video is presented (and written) by Michael Wood in the standard BBC way, but with about a million human touches: interviews with locals about their town, village, temple, museum, architecture…it goes on.  A fine piece of video presentation with breathtaking scenery that shows the range of modern and ancient India’s influence on the world, I recommend this video to any history geek.  The DVDs are on sale of course, but it’s currently free on Amazon Prime and an excellent introduction to India’s storied past.

No Title Can Ever Do It Justice February 11, 2015

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Russian Satellite View of Earth December 2, 2014

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It’s 3840×2160.

The Cake is Not a Lie November 30, 2014

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The young lady who made the cake was delighted that I was able to identify the meme.

The Happiest Place on Earth November 21, 2014

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I noticed that this store was right next to this storefront:

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Bedroom Decor November 19, 2014

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My wife wanted to get me a new bed.

I don’t know if this is what she had in mind.

Me Personally, I Want This September 18, 2014

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This is probably much more fun than an RC car.

  • Controllable from up to 200ft with the 2.4ghz remote, indoors and out
  • The Snypa Dart Blaster attachment fires your Snypa Darts up to 45 feet
  • If you shoot back it falls apart when it gets three hits.  Nice.