Thursday, June 30, 2005


The Residents - Mark of the Mole


If you have not heard of the Residents, I wouldn't be surprised. They are probably the world's most enigmatic band of all time. They have produced records for over 30 years, and still, no one knows what they look like, or their names. They appear in costume in all their concerts so no one can know.

I think they are cool.

This album, called Mark of the Mole, was released in 1981. It is the first album of what was supposed to be the Mole Trilogy.

They album tells a story of the Moles, who have to leave their underground homes because of storms and so they travel to another place in search of a home, to fall into the hands of the Chubs, who make them their slaves... etc.

It is neat.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Newly Formed Solar System


From an article from New Scientist

Hubble spies lord of the stellar rings

A spectacular, luminous ring offers the best evidence yet that a nearby star is circled by a newly formed solar system.

The ring is composed of dust particles in orbit around Fomalhaut, a bright star located just 25 light years away in the constellation Pisces Austalis – or the Southern Fish. A recent image captured with the Hubble Space Telescope - which makes the system look uncannily like the Great Eye of Sauron from the blockbusting Lord of the Rings trilogy - confirms that Fomalhaut’s ring is curiously offset with respect to the star.

The most likely explanation is that the gravity of one or more unseen planets is dragging the ring askew. The fact that the inner edge of the ring is relatively well-defined adds further weight to the argument because it suggests the unseen planets are sweeping up stray dust within the radius of the ring.

The image was captured by astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, US, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center using Hubble’s coronagraph. This device blocks the glare of a star while gathering the faint reflected light from any surrounding ring.

The new image is the first time Fomalhaut’s ring has been seen in visible light. This offers a much sharper view than the infrared wavelengths previously used by astronomers. “We are directly imaging the system,” says team member Paul Kalas. “The offset is unambiguous and it’s been measured with very high accuracy.”

Shining example

Astronomers suspect the ring around Fomalhaut is the dusty trace of a belt of small comet-like bodies that surround the star, much like the Kuiper Belt that surrounds our solar system.

Frequent collisions between these bodies generate enough dust to replenish the ring, which would otherwise be eroded by the star’s radiation in a relatively short time. Since the Kuiper Belt is a by-product of the creation of our solar system, the ring around Fomalhaut may be similarly linked to planet formation. And because Fomalhaut is only 200 million years old - less than 5% of the Sun’s present age - it offers a unique analogue of our solar system’s early years.

While strengthening the case for planets around Fomalhaut, the Hubble image also appears to limit their size. “Fomalhaut is young and any planets that formed around it have yet to cool. Anything larger than about five times the mass of Jupiter would still be glowing warm enough to show up in our image,” says Kalas.

He and his colleagues have already booked time on the Hubble to do follow-up observations later in 2005. They hope to search for small details such as gaps or clumps in the rings that could reveal more precisely the masses and locations of any planets.

Journal reference: Nature (vol 435, p 1067)

Monday, June 27, 2005



Just a reminder, you should go to wikipedia when you want to find out something. And, you should go to wikipedia to update or create articles about something.

It is an online encyclopedia where ANYONE can change the information. It really is fascinating.


Try it in other languages too!

Friday, June 24, 2005



October 4th, 1957.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Jethro Tull : Thick as a Brick

JethroTull ThickAsABrick

From 1972, comes the sweetest concept album from the band Jethro Tull: Thick as a Brick. Thick as a Brick is a 43 minute song, split in two (because you have to flip the record over in the middle of the song). On the CD, there are two tracks, just to preserve the original LP split point.

The lyrics are built around a poem written by a fictitious boy, "Gerald Bostock" or "Little Milton". It seems like it was real, because the cover is a facsimile of a newspaper. The original LP cover was a spoof of a 12 by 16 inch (305 by 406 mm) multipage local newspaper with stories, competitions, adverts etc., lampooning the kind of horribly parochial and amateurish local journalism that still exists in many places today.

The reason I like this song is because it has so many pieces, and parts. There are some common themes that keep coming back, but overall it is a journey, consisting of acoustic and electric guitars, drums, synthesizers. It is easy to just listen and get lost in the sounds.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005



The computer application for today is an FTP client called "Filezilla".

A great open source application with a webpage at You can download it by going to the downloads page.

If you don't know what an FTP client is, then you probably don't need one.

Alright, and FTP client gives you the ability to log on to an FTP server and transfer files between that computer and yours. Used a lot for people to be able to update their webpages, by logging in and uploading files to the FTP server. There.

You need to have access to an FTP server in order to do that. You'll need a username and password.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

Knowing too much can ruin a movie for you. For example, I work with computers a lot, and it makes me cringe almost every day when I see computers in movies, because of the way they handle them, and the screen shots they show, etc.

Well, if you were a physicist or even a pseudo-physicist, you might also be irked because of the lousy physics that are commonplace in movies.

There happens to be a webpage dedicated to uncovering and documenting the physics flaws in movies called Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics.

Go and learn.

Monday, June 20, 2005


Google Maps Expanded

Google Maps ( is the best map place ever. With drag and move capabilities, smart interface, and satellite view!

Before, the earth was just the U.S. and the U.K., now you can see all countries on the map. Only, The streets and cities aren't there yet for most of the world, you can see country borders and bodies of water. Very cool.

You can see little countries like Andorra,
and here is Lake Baikal.

For those of you who didn't already know, Google Maps is great, you can just type in the search bar something like '99 Russian Hill, San Francisco, CA' and you will get this.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Dr. Mario

I got this game for the original Nintendo Entertainment System for Christmas either in 1987 or 1988.

Dr Mario Cover

It was a great game, sort of like tetris, but instead of blocks it was pills, and instead of trying to eliminate rows you were trying to eliminate virii by making three adjacent pills of the same color (as the virus) next to any virus.

I must admit I wasn't as good at it as my sisters or my mom, but I enjoyed having this game all the same.

Dr Mario Start ScreenDr Mario 2 player

I still really like the music for this game, I think it made quite good use of the NES' 8-bit, 4 oscillator sound capabilities.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Gentle Giant : Octopus

Gentle Giant Octopus

Gentle Giant is an awesome band from the 70's and 80's. This is one of my favorite albums: Octopus. From 1973, it has great songs like "The Advent of Panurge", "A Cry for Everyone", "The Boys in the Band", "Think of Me with Kindness" and "River".

I just realized today that it has 8 tracks, so there is one song per tentacle of jarred octopus.

What do I like about the songs? Well, they are not all in 4/4. They have really cool melodies. They have nifty parts with the instruments. It really is a fun journey listening to their albums.

Well, I hope that you are able to find a copy of this album, so you can listen to it too.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Ots Turntables

I like trying out different media players. One rather awesome audio player is called Ots Turntables. Ots Turntables, as the name suggests has two turntables, kinda like a DJ and you can load songs into a playlist, play them in the turntables, etc. It has pretty good record scratching abilities and other DJ features if that interests you.

What I like is it has a great sounding dynamics processor which includes Ots Labs' own Automatic Gain Control and a great compressor. What this means is that when you play a bunch of songs in a row all from different sources they will play at the same volume level. It also makes songs louder and more in your face (like on the radio), if that is what you want.

Ots Turntables also has a really good mechanism to blend songs together, it is smart enough to take in account songs that start or stop abruptly or smoothly and coordinates the fading efforts accordingly.

The application is usually to be paid for, but Ots Labs also released a free version, which works the same, except you do not have total control over the dynamics processor, you can only choose the presets. It also intermittently inserts a "station identification" as I like to think of it: it says "bleep blip bloop-bloop Ots Audio." every once in a while.

Ots Turntables plays mp3s and wavs. It also plays its own format, .ots which is mp3, but it can include more than one song, like you could have a whole album in one .ots file, which is handy for people who like to organize it that way, and you can still just play one song from the album using Ots products.

You can also download for free (I think they might come with the Turntables download, but I am not sure) the applications Ots Studio Professional, which allows you to edit the .ots files meta data. You can include mp3 tag info, manual fade in/out data for each song as well as album cover art within the ots file.

Ots Labs also has a completely free CD player called Ots CD Scratch that is basically the same (has two turntables and the great dynamics processor) only it plays CDs only, and you can actually fine tune the dynamics processor.

Overall I am really impressed with Ots Labs products, and I hope you are too!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Lactose Intolerance

Lactose is milk sugar. It is composed of two molecules of "simple" sugars chemically bonded together - glucose and galactose. The enzyme lactase breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose which are easily digested by humans.

Most human infants produce ample quantities of lactase for milk digestion. However, in the vast majority of adult humans, the gene which specifies production of lactase is turned "off" and these individuals cannot digest lactose - they are lactose intolerant. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include cramps and diarrhea. The lactose molecule, which is large, accumulates in the large intestine and affects the osmotic balance there. Since water moves across semipermeable membranes, such as the intestine, from areas of high concentration to low concentration, the addition of large lactose molecules causes water to enter the intestine. This can result in the very unpleasant experience of watery stool or diarrhea. Since lactose is a sugar, it is an ideal food for the bacteria which normally inhabit our intestine (and are essential to digestion). However, the lactose will be fermented by these same friendly bacteria, and organic acids are gas are produced by them and we all know what discomfort intestinal gas can cause! So most folks who are lactose intolerant choose to avoid lactose-containing milk products, or modify the lactose, to avoid the cramps and diarrhea associated with the intolerance syndrome.

There is a science experiment that goes along with this found at

Monday, June 13, 2005



Eva typed me that message.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Narnia Movie

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie is coming soon: Official Website, hopefully it will be really good.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Doctor Who Rocks!

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Paul Trandem - Just for You

When you want to hear the acoustic guitar and vocal works of Paul Trandem, you can. Just visit his website. I would suggest listening to the song "Just For You". That one is my favorite. The words for the song are thus:

Some people wear their heart like a banner on their sleeve,
Mine's in my pocket, but it's liquid and it leaks.
You're the only one in the crowded room I guess,
I didn't realize I was playing just for you.

It makes me think of colors, blurry, and something reddish and squishy, but pouring, and it engulfs you and stuff.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Blender 3d

Once, a long time ago, I got this computer program that allows you to create 3D objects, render them, do animations, etc. It was waaaay hard. I tried it for a bit, but I couldn't get it to do anything cool, really. Nothing. So I uninstalled it and forgot about it.

Until it cropped up again, about a week ago. Blender 3D. Awesome application and it is open source, and free. The User Interface is a little (okay, a lot) different then what you are probably used to, but it really rocks. Like it is way easy to manipulate, rotate, scroll, zoom, etc. once you learn the tricks and the keyboard shortcuts. And you should see some of the amazing things that people are making with this program. Sample Images created by blender users.

Now, this is an advanced application. I haven't even begun to tap into it's full powers and abilities, and it has a long learning curve. It won't be easy. But it is fun to tinker around and stuff.

Make a mesh.

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