brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


Opening Al Capones Safe…

I was out geocaching with Jeff and Marla yesterday, and we searched for one of their caches. In the second stage, we were required to do some arithmetic to generate the final coordinates, and trekked off along a path.

Moldy!When we arrived at the location, there was a fallen tree, and Jeff proclaimed "Hey, that's not right!". Digging around in the broken remnants, Jeff extracted the cache. It was a black PVC ABS container, but for some strange reason, it appeared bright orange. On one side. It turned out to be covered in a bright orange and bubbly mold.


In the same spirit as opening Al Capone's safe and just as exciting, here is the original 3gpp file and the same video encoded as an MPEG file of its opening and our revealing of its dark mysteries.

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Sad tale of device woe…

Cracked LCD, So SadTis a sad, sad day. My trusty Garmin GPS III was being carried by my wife down the stairs when she missed a step and tumbled down with a crash. Luckily, my wife is fine (most important) but my trusty GPS III did not fare so well, and now suffers a cracked LCD. It still powers on, but part of the display is now blank and/or covered with messy LCD leakage.

I haven't been doing much geocaching lately, so it isn't so sad, but still, I've had it for six years.

Time for an upgrade?

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EPIC 2014

A Flash Presentation on the Future of Media

Thought provoking look at a possible future where collaborative media replaces traditional news media.


Snell’s Law Song

Need a ballad dedicated to Willebrord van Roijen Snell? Look no further than the Snell's Law Song. Found via the MASSIVE search engine.

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Asian Tsunamis Kill at Least 13,340 People

Not a happy holiday for some. Bleh. Tsunamis are brutal.

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Gutenberg Gem: The Chemical History of the Candle

Michael Faraday instituted a tradition (which continues to this day) of giving special Christmas lectures especially for young people at the Royal Institution. The most famous of these lectures were published in 1860 as The Chemical History of the Candle, which is a classic in the history of science, and still accessible and useful to students. Check it out. I hope they have an illustrated version coming soon.


Brainwagon Radio: Boxing Day, with some Gift Reviews

On this 44th edition of Brainwagon Radio, your host apologizes for his lack of podcasting over the holiday, but gives brief reviews of some of the toys that were acquired during this 2004 holiday season:

I'm off to face terror of post Christmas shopping. Enjoy!


New Infrared Camera Gets Amazing Orion Images

UK Infrared TelescopeSlashdot reports about the new wide field camera at the UK Infrared Telescope. As part of their initial testing, they took some nice looking pictures of the Orion nebula (what I would take pictures of to commission one of my telescopes). Click through here to witness them in all their glory.

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Merry Christmas!

No links, just heart felt best wishes for the holiday season! I'll probably get breakfast going for the family soon, which will probably include toasted English muffins, scrambled eggs and some smoked salmon. Then presents, then get dinner started, then relaxing. Happy Holidays!

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Christmas Music, ala PDP-1

In case you weren't impressed by the 8-bit Christmas music, how 'bout these Christmas Carols generated on a PDP-1. Ah, square waves.

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Nice article on the Cassini/Huygens mission

On Christmas Eve the Huygens lander successfully disconnected from the Cassini orbiter and is set for a landing on Titan on January 14th. There is a good article published by the IEEE Spectrum on how Swedish engineer Boris Smeds saved the $300 million dollar mission by detecting an undetected problem in the telemetry system which would have hopelessly scrambled the data relayed from Huygens.

Good luck, and soft landings.

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How not to describe a wine you wish to sell…

Like a Jolly RancherToday I stopped by Cost Plus again, as they had 40% off their Christmas stuff. While wandering the aisles looking for last minute stocking stuffers, I saw the following description above the wine:

Very ripe and round — almost like a Jolly Rancher candy. The plums, cherries and red berries jump out of the glass!

I think this is the first time that I've heard a wine described as if tasting like a Jolly Rancher was a good thing. While I have nothing against Jolly Rancher's as a candy, I sincerely doubt their flavor when fermented.

Of course Cost Plus is the seller of what I consider to be quite possibly the worst wine ever created: their Electric Reindeer White Zinfandel. While all three wines are truly terrible, their White Zin, with its overtones of cough syrup, Kool-Aid and Vicks Vaporub makes you long for the taste of a fresh batch of Pruno.


Christmas Audio

Need something to test out your new MP3 players? Well, you could surf over to Lisa and Rowan reading Twas the Night Before Christmas. Just too cute for words. Or you could surf over to my own Cinnamon Bear Podcast. The final episode is up, hope at least some of you are enjoying it.


Thanks to all my listeners and readers…

Woo hoo!  Top 100,000!When I woke up this morning (well, after loafing in bed for a while) I did my usual scan of email and weblog posts, and then checked my link rank via pubsub and found to my shock that I have entered the top 100,000 weblogs, apparently because of link backs from Lisa Williams and Brian Cantoni. Thanks to both of them, and to all my readers and listeners. I must admit to getting a certain charge from seeing my link rank and the raw numbers of downloaders grow, but as I've said before: it's more than just the numbers. It's about using a new and powerful medium to entertain and occasionally to inform others, and to learn from others as well.

Happy Holidays!


Christmas at the Oakland Zoo

Smooching GiraffesWell, today marked another nice trip to the Oakland Zoo. As always, I brought my digital camera so I could snap some pictures of the animals, and I managed to catch a nice photo of these two giraffes. It was a good day for photos, I got some more nice photos of the meerkats, and had a nice walk amidst the animals.

Nice way to relax, far away from the hustle and bustle of the malls.

Try this picture of some meerkats, or look at all the photos in this gallery.