brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." โ€” Bertrand Russell


The legendary Ray Harryhausen dies at 92…

It is with a sense of deep sadness that I heard of the passing of Ray Harryhausen this morning. If I were to pick two things which influenced me as a kid growing up in the 1960s, it would have been the Apollo Space Program and the films of Ray Harryhausen, although at no time did I ever imagine that my own path would lead me toward a career in the film industry. What I found truly astounding about his work is that (perhaps by necessity) he excelled at all facets of his craft: from sculpting and character design, to animation and to the technical innovation necessary to make stop motion animation plausible in films. His work was always at the cutting edge of what was possible in special effects, and in spite of decades of progress they still remain vibrant films, important for their technical advances, but also because they are just fun to watch. Ray visited Pixar on several occasions, and while I didn't get much personal time with him, I did get to thank him for his work and for helping to serve as inspiration, and he was kind enough to sign a copy of his book for me.


Pixar gave a nod to Harryhausen by naming a restaurant (curiously a sushi restaurant) after him in our 2001 film, Monsters, Inc. I doubt that there is anyone in the animation or visual effects industry who wouldn't name Harryhausen as inspiration for what they do. So long Ray, and thanks for the films.

Filed under: My Photos, News 1 Comment

Thoughts go out to all my readers on the East Coast…

If you or your loved ones are in the areas affected by Sandy, you may not be able to read this, but my thoughts are with you all. If you aren't in the affected areas, considering helping out in the relief efforts by donating either money or blood to the Red Cross. You can donate $10 by sending a text to 90999, or go to the Red Cross website and donate with a credit card or Paypal. The bad weather is likely to cause shortages of blood and platelets, so finding a donation center for blood would be a great idea as well.

Hang in there!

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brainwagon.{org/com/net} lives!

After 12 hours of rockiness, I believe that I have brainwagon moved to new hosting. I don't think you'll have any trouble, but if you do, you might want to clear your cache/cookies and try reloading again. If you spot anything broken, feel free to drop me an email with the problem.

Previously this blog was hosted at Go Daddy!, but while their hosting service has been in most respects quite troublefree, I've decided to discontinue using them for two basic reasons:

  • Their ads. They are just plain sexist. The reliability and security of domain services and web hosting are not significantly enhanced by "Go Daddy Girls".
  • Go Daddy! supported SOPA. I can't imagine why any company who participates as strongly in the Internet economy could back a policy which would do such significant harm to it.
  • Oh, and a third one. I like elephants.

So, I'm over to, for no other reason than a number of people I know use it and seem to like it. The only problems I had transferring it over were problems of my own creation. Here's to a new era for the brainwagon blog!

Filed under: News 1 Comment
8Jul/120 will be undergoing some maintenance…

It's about time I did some long overdue maintenance on my website, including some name service changes, which may bring brainwagon off the net for (hopefully short) periods over the next week. Please bear with me, and all will soon be sorted out.

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About 5:30AM, I woke to find my bed slightly shaking, and maybe a hint of some noise. Just as I was about to drift off, a fairly violent jolt hit the house. Some various items were knocked off shelves, a fairly scary way to wake up. Carmen and I bolted for the door and waited for aftershocks: I thought I felt an immediate smaller shock, but since then, things have been fairly quiet. Worse earthquake I've felt in 20 years here (I missed the Loma Prieta).

Here is the seismogram that a local station recorded:

Phew. Exciting. All of our local twitter/facebook friends are reporting that things are okay where they are at. Doubt I'm going back to bed though. ๐Ÿ™‚

Filed under: My Diary, News 2 Comments

San Jose Mercury News – Google unveils mobile-phone software strategy

San Jose Mercury News - Google unveils mobile-phone software strategy

the big news is that Google has gone generic, offering free software to anyone who wants it under the relaxed terms of an open-source license, which will allow developers to view the source code for that software. This also means there will not be a "gPhone," or any sort of phone with the Google brand on it.

"Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone' that the press has been speculating about," Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said in a statement. "Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models."


Darren McGavin stalks into the night…

Darren McGaven as The Night Stalker

Phil Plait's blog is the first mention I've read that actor Darren McGavin had passed away. Phil and I must have been watching the same TV shows as kids, because I loved Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and have recently found through the miracle of TIVO that the episodes still hold up fairly well, which can hardly be said of most of the television produced in the 1970s.

The thing that I found most remarkable about the show is just how unheroic Kolchak really was. He wasn't Clark Kent, secretly fighting crime with superpowers at night. He was just an average, middle age reporter, whose only talent seemed the ability to irritate everyone he came into contact with. It was a great character, and a great set of performances by McGavin. Lots of fun, and well worth watching on DVD.

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Filed under: General, News 1 Comment

Boing Boing: Google logo redesigned by Students for Free Tibet

I usually don't post links to Boing Boing stuff, since everybody in the known universe already reads Boing Boing, but I thought this logo design for Google by the Students for a Free Tibet warranted a bit wider distribution.

Sorry Google, but if your motto is to "don't be evil", you are seriously off course. If your motto is "don't be evil, except when there is a large, potentially lucrative market for us to exploit as long as we hold our noses and pretend that we aren't evil", then you are a lot closer.

Boing Boing: Google logo redesigned by Students for Free Tibet

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Filed under: News 2 Comments

Sun: So close!

In another one of those "close, but no cigar" moments, Bill Joy remarks about the recent switch of Apple to Intel processors:

"We got very close to having Apple use Sparc. That almost happened," Joy said at a panel discussion featuring reminiscences by Sun's four cofounders at the Computer History Museum here.

I'll hazard a guess as to why it didn't happen: because Apple isn't stark raving mad.

Sun: Apple nearly moved to Sparc chips | | CNET

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Filed under: Apple, News 1 Comment

Merry Christmas 2005!

To all the readers of my little experiment in self-therapy, I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

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Sony, what were you thinking?

Dan Kaminsky has been trying to figure out how many sites have been infected by the Sony DRM rootkit. He found that over half a million DNS servers have received queries for the "phone home" address that the Sony code uses to squeal on users. It's a cool research project, and spells troubling times for Sony in the not-too-distant future.

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Creationism in the Supreme Court

Panda's Thumb reports on the ties between Supreme Court Nominee Harriet Miers and creationism. The Valley View Christian Church that she attends apparently has a webpage which links to The Creation Evidence Museum, run by Carl Baugh, a creationist so absurd that even Answers In Genesis can't accept his conclusions.

Apparently it's not just Roe v. Wade that we have to worry about, but perhaps Epperson v. Arkansas or Lemon v. Kurtzman.

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How to make Microsoft announcements appear grander!

Get two industry giants to call a huge press conference to announce something which can only be classified as "beyond trivial."

Way to go Google! Keepin' it real...

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Grim! NewsFlash - Poor New Orleans neighborhood floods again

As many as 500,000 people in southwestern Louisiana, many of them already displaced by Hurricane Katrina, were told to evacuate. And for those who refused to leave, Gov. Kathleen Blanco advised: "Perhaps they should write their Social Security numbers on their arms with indelible ink."

That's not a comforting thought.

Seriously people, stay safe.

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Intel claims ultra low power breakthrough

This news item caught my eye:

Intel claims ultra low power breakthrough

Mmmm. Moore's law continues it's march to the future.

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