I’m on the way out…

Find out how popular your name has been over the years.  “Mark” seems to have peaked in popularity in the 1960s, while my dad’s name “Vernon” probably peaked back in 1918, and now is all but extinct.  Forget about some of my other uncles names: like Clarence, Virgil (never really popular, even in its heyday) and Merle.  My uncle Wayne would have scored highly, but even his name is, well, on the wane.  Overall, diversity of first names seems to have been declining steadily since the 1950s.   Interesting.
[via Flutterby!]

LEGO Technic Difference Engine

Lego Difference Engine

Need I really say more? An implementation of Babbages Difference Engine, capable of evaluating 2nd and 3rd order polynomials with two or three digits of precision. Needs some video demonstrating it in operation, but wow.

Bonus links:

Double bonus: my favorite Babbage quotation

On two occasions I have been asked, ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

Triple bonus coverage: The British Museum of Science and Industry manual on setting up their Difference Engine to do real calculations.

Technorati Tags: ,

An Anniversary of Sorts…

Celebrating 15 years at Pixar

Fifteen years ago today was my official hire date at Pixar Animation Studios. Because nobody works for a company for fifteen years anymore, I thought it would be nice to commemorate the occasion by asking some of the people that I have enjoyed working with over the years out to lunch at Hahn’s Hibachi, a Korean barbecue place in Jack London Square. I didn’t bring a camera, but Tom was nice enough to snap this picture of the aftermath.

I’m not the kind of person who spends a great deal of time looking toward the past, but I think it’s good to sit back and consider where you’ve been. I’ve been a part of something really terrific, working for the premier animation company in the world, with some of the best people in the world. To all who showed up, thanks for making the first fifteen years of work enjoyable, exciting, challenging and fun.

I was asked to think of what my greatest Pixar moment was, and it really is hard to pick, since there have been so many. Somewhat arbitrarilly, and yet totally worthy, I chose Jen’s invention of “Digital Dailies Bingo” during production for The Incredibles. This neatly solved the problem of preserving the sanity (what little we may have initially possessed) of the rendering team during a challenging production by allowing us to turn the adversity of having shots kicked back for fixes into a game. Inspired team-building brilliance!

Other big ones:

  1. Everything related to Toy Story. The first time I ever wore a tuxedo. My first premiere. The first time I ever saw my name in the credits.
  2. Watching h52, the “Hundred Mile Dash” sequence in The Incredibles for the first time in a theater, and listening to everyone cheer at how cool it looks. I think the motion blur did work out really well.
  3. Having a $1400 dinner tab for four or five people in Washington D.C. on Motorola as part of the production of Cosmic Voyage. It’s a pity they didn’t spend more money on rendercheck: they managed to misspell both my name and Don’s.
  4. Just the day-to-day work of working on Pixar’s RenderMan product, with some very talented software engineers.

To all who showed up to help me celebrate, thanks a bunch for fifteen terrific years.

Technorati Tags:

Addendum: Flicker-ized for your enjoyment.

James Randi in the hospital

According to Phil Plait, James Randi ended up in the hospital for a heart problem that required bypass surgery.     Randi is probably best known for his ruthless skepticism of all sorts of paranormal skullduggery, most famously his attacks on spoon bending Israeli Uri Geller.  In 1973 he worked with the Tonight Show to change the metal items that Geller was supposed to bend on the show, with somewhat predictable results.

Best wishes for a quick recovery.

Technorati Tags: , ,

PAP2 Acquires New Brain, No Longer Speaks to Me

A while ago, I wrote about how you could unlock a PAP2 and use it on Free World Dialup as a simple, cheap VOIP adapter.  Unfortunately, while playing around with Asterisk this morning, my adapter reset itself, promptly redownloaded some new firmware, and now is back to being locked with Vonage, this time, without the apparent hacks that make unlocking possible.

Sigh.  Things like this are enough to really piss you off.

So, temporarilly at least, my VOIP hacking is slowed.  I guess I’ll have to spring for something like a Clipcomm CG200 or a Linksys Sipura 3000.  Or maybe I should just go ahead and buy a cheap IP phone like a Grandstream or maybe a better one like the Sipura 841 or 941.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Technorati Tags: , , ,