Thursday, April 26, 2007

Can this POSSIBLY be true?

Supposedly a ring of con-artists were selling sheep to Japanese people telling them they were poodles. I don't know if I buy it. Then again, if you've never seen a sheep or a poodle, maybe they would be hard to tell apart -- except for things like hooves vs paws and baaahs vs barks.

Scientists model mouse brain!!!!!!!

This is seriously awesome. Researchers working with one of IBM's supercomputers were able to model a mouse brain and run it at 1/10 speed. Unfortunately our modern hardware still falls short of the computational capacity of a brain, so I guess we have to start small and start slow. However, this opens up a huge new door into both artifical intelligence and understanding the brain. The next question is, once a brain has been modeled, how do you program it? What is a computer mouse brain capable of doing? If you speed it up, will it just be faster or will be it smarter?

Check out more details here:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Very few things actually excite me

But, the discovery of Gliese 581 has my imagination running wild. A planet with 5 times the mass of Earth orbiting a red sun with conditions that might even be more hospitable to life than Earth itself -- that's the kind of stuff you only hear in the movies. And speaking of movies, there's a little superhero you all might know who came from a planet with a red sun.

Obviously, I don't think this planet is full of supermen, but I do wish there was a way to travel the 20 light years to the constellation Libra to see just what is on this planet. New creatures, new foods, new diseases, new cures -- who knows?

So 20 light years is roughly equivalent to 1.17 x 10^14 miles. As much as I want to go, I'm thinking that's farther than I'll ever make it in my lifetime.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Things computers can do in movies

I came across this on Boing Boing where it was linked from another blog. It's pretty right on.

1. Word processors never display a cursor.
2. You never have to use the space-bar when typing long sentences.
3. Movie characters never make typing mistakes.
4. All monitors display inch-high letters.
5. High-tech computers, such as those used by NASA, the CIA or some such governmental institution, will have easy to understand graphical interfaces.
6. Those that don’t have graphical interfaces will have incredibly powerful text-based command shells that can correctly understand and execute commands typed in plain English.
7. Note: Command line interfaces will give you access to any information you want by simply typing, “ACCESS THE SECRET FILES” on any near-by keyboard.
8. You can also infect a computer with a destructive virus by simply typing “UPLOAD VIRUS”. (See “Fortress”.)
9. All computers are connected. You can access the information on the villain’s desktop computer even if it’s turned off.
10. Powerful computers beep whenever you press a key or the screen changes. Some computers also slow down the output on the screen so that it doesn’t go faster than you can read. (Really advanced computers will also emulate the sound of a dot-matrix printer.)
11. All computer panels operate on thousands of volts and have explosive devices underneath their surface. Malfunctions are indicated by a bright flash of light, a puff of smoke, a shower of sparks and an explosion that causes you to jump backwards.
12. People typing on a computer can safely turn it off without saving the data.
13. A hacker is always able to break into the most sensitive computer in the world by guessing the secret password in two tries.
14. You may bypass “PERMISSION DENIED” message by using the “OVERRIDE” function. (See “Demolition Man”.)
15. Computers only take 2 seconds to boot up instead of the average minutes for desktop PCs and 30 minutes or more for larger systems that can run 24 hours, 365 days a year without a reset.
16. Complex calculations and loading of huge amounts of data will be accomplished in under three seconds. Movie modems usually appear to transmit data at the speed of two gigabytes per second.
17. When the power plant/missile site/main computer overheats, all control panels will explode shortly before the entire building will.
18. If you display a file on the screen and someone deletes the file, it also disappears from the screen (See “Clear and Present Danger”).
19. If a disk contains encrypted files, you are automatically asked for a password when you insert it.
20. Computers can interface with any other computer regardless of the manufacturer or galaxy where it originated. (See “Independence Day”.)
21. Computer disks will work on any computer has a floppy drive and all software is usable on any platforms.
22. The more high-tech the equipment, the more buttons it will have (See “Aliens”.)
23. Note: You must be highly trained to operate high-tech computers because the buttons have no labels except for the “SELF-DESTRUCT” button.
24. Most computers, no matter how small, have reality-defying three-dimensional active animation, photo-realistic graphics capabilities.
25. Laptops always have amazing real-time video phone capabilities and performance similar to a CRAY Supercomputer.
26. Whenever a character looks at a monitor, the image is so bright that it projects itself onto their face. (See “Alien” or “2001″)
27. Searches on the internet will always return what you are looking for no matter how vague your keywords are. (See “Mission Impossible”, Tom Cruise searches with keywords like “file” and “computer” and 3 results are returned.)

Friday, April 06, 2007

A pictorial history of television

Television has always been one of my favorite things. I would have to rate it as one of my top 5 if not my favorite technology. This slideshow of TV models from 1928 to the present boggles my mind. We've come from a giant cabinet with an itty-bitty screen to a giant screen with no cabinet at all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Lego Haircut

Lego Haircut
Originally uploaded by ffacker.
Sometimes when I go too long without getting a haircut, it ends up looking like one of those Lego dos that just pop on. Except I think Lego man's hair actually looks a little better.

How come they never made Lego mohawks?

Monday, April 02, 2007



I just learned a new term – Steampunk. Steampunk describes a genre of literature or design based on a Victorian-esque society where steam is still the major power source, but with technologies like computers, time machines, ray guns, etc. that didn’t actually exist in the late 1800 – early 1900s. Jules Verne has retroactively become one of the first steampunk authors, but since he lived in that time period I’d say what he was writing at the time was purely sci-fi. If he was to write it now in modern times, but base his stories in that time, THEN it would be steampunk.

The really cool thing about steampunk though is it’s inspiring some really cool design work. had several entries recently on computers that have been retrofitted with classic looking framework, keyboards, etc. to look steampunk.

Check it out: and and

I was amazed at those projects as the modded, keyboard, computer case and laptop are all functional, but then there’s steampunk art just for the sake of art, and these ray guns are definitely fun to look at.

I guess I'm a bit behind.

I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with the blogging lately. Life has been busy as I’m trying to clear the clutter of the last 10 years and get my life in order.

My 1966 Mustang has been sitting in the garage for almost a year, and the entire time I’ve had the intention of selling it, but I just haven’t had the time or money to address some mechanical issues that were causing overheating and if you drove it somewhere, it wouldn’t start back up, etc. Issues like that make for a hard sale – especially if you’re hoping to get a decent price for it. I spent a couple weeks out in the garage every night and after modifying the radiator, a thorough flushing, a new thermostat, a new battery, a new starter solenoid and a new starter, the car is finally running strong and reliably. I picked up a new windshield wiper switch on Friday, so once I get that installed everything in the car should be working, and hopefully it will roll out of my garage into the loving arms of a new owner. I just get really sad when I actually post it for sale, and it was almost a relief that the last two times I posted it that it either wouldn’t start or that the person who looked at it wasn’t interested. No excuses this time though. I’m going to have to say goodbye.

Last week Necrophobia finally had its premiere here in Houston at the River Oaks Theatre where it was unveiled that the name has now been changed to Domain of the Damned. I get the feeling that the studios decided Necrophobia just sounded too much like Necrophilia. Four years in the making, this will be another one of my indie roles that go straight to video. It seems the director changed themes and ideas halfway through the process, so there’s all this Tarantino-wannabe rockabilly horror stuff that seems to be patched in completely after the fact. The dream sequences make no sense and don’t mesh with the rest of the movie. The important intro of the characters is non-existent. The director tried to just jump into the plot and build the characters as he went – it doesn’t work out so well. There’s also a huge inherent flaw in the plot. This guy has an ancient Egyptian medallion that wards off the grim reaper, so that nobody within its vicinity can die. The guy then puts all these undead people in a haunted house as an attraction. They then escape and start killing everyone – except technically the people they’re killing can’t die. The heroes also then start killing the zombies – except they shouldn’t be dying either. Every once in a while a zombie gets chopped up and his head or hands or whatever will be shown as still being alive, but why aren’t regular people who die still alive? And how come some of the zombies do die when they’re shot? It’s really contradictory. I also think the director has never participated in an actual radio station remote broadcast because his team of disc jockeys that show up for a remote and then murder and get murdered just makes zero sense. I understand how it fits into the plot, I just don’t get what they’re doing wandering through the haunted house with their wireless radios on, etc. It doesn’t work that way. Those things won’t even transmit more than maybe 25 yards from the van. I can’t tell if they’re supposed to be broadcasting their trip through the haunted house live or what, but if they are they never acknowledge that it’s what they’re doing and that’s not how radio works, so I just don’t get it. It really convoluted the plot. But for all that, I am on screen 3 or 4 times for about 30 seconds total. I’m a pretty good looking zombie, and I die at least twice. I’m only really recognizable in one profile shot though – no matter how much latex and fake blood you have on me, there’s no mistaking my nose.

So along with the work on the car and attending movie premieres I’ve been doing a lot of home improvement. I’ve dedicated myself to actually having a healthy, green lawn this year, so I’ve been out every weekend, mowing, edging, pulling weeds, filling in holes – all that stuff. However, after purchasing several bags of dirt weekend before last I realized that I don’t actually own a shovel. That was a problem. I also realized I don’t own a saw, and I can’t find the hammer. I may have to invest in these items soon.

So that’s what’s been going on with me. What’s been going on with you?