The Big Think

December 11, 2009


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 12:21 am

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

– Mark Twain

December 10, 2009

Make: Learning Electronics

Filed under: Disclosure,Maker — jasony @ 11:41 pm

The book I must own:

Many of us at Maker Media have had an interaction that goes something like this: You’re at a talk, Maker Faire, or elsewhere, and someone spirits you aside, like they’re going to confess to a petty crime or some marital indiscretion. What they want to whisper sheepishly into your ear is that they love MAKE, all of the excitement they see over open source electronics, and the cool kits we sell in the Maker Shed, but they have NO IDEA how electronics work, and the “beginner” books and resources they look at online zoom quickly over their heads and frustrate their efforts to learn. Ultimately, they find themselves too embarrassed to admit their lack of high-tech smarts or to ask questions (which is why they’ve taken you behind a dumpster to confess their ignorance).

I’m one of these folks. I really want to learn electronics, and have spent the better part of a decade getting a handle on the basics, but the self-taught thing never worked for me when it came to wires and resistors, which is odd, because I’ve taught myself a lot of other skills. For whatever reason, thought, electronics has never stuck. I’m hoping that when this book (eventually) comes out, it’ll finally get me over that hump.


Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 11:31 pm

100,000 toothpics. 34 Years. One amazing kinetic sculpture.


Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 11:15 pm

I just saw this incredible flyover of Detriot done in SketchUp. Google holds events and contest for people to model their home towns in SketchUp and then, crazily, we all do a bunch of work for Google for free! Brilliant. Anyway, my prediction is that within three years we start to see makers of flight simulator software licensing Google Maps and SketchUp maps to use as their backgrounds. Given another few years we’ll have near photo-realistic terrain for flight sims, then this huge Matrix version of our planet will get closer and closer to indistinguishable from the real thing. Eventually there will be real-time data all over the place in there.

What Google is building is astounding in its complexity and scope, and nobody else is even going to try and compete. What they are beginning now is the foundation of the next several hundred years of online mapping tech. Who knows where it will go?


Filed under: Space — jasony @ 4:16 pm


Uber cool. I’m looking forward to a future chart just like this that shows then-current craft. SS1 and SS2 will by tiny little spots at the beginning of the timeline. πŸ™‚

Power to the People

Filed under: Telescope — jasony @ 11:01 am

Lowes in California has been stocking solar panels, but now they plan on rolling them out across the country. Hooray! With a big buyer like this, panel prices will come down even further and Home Depot will have to get into the act (which will only accelerate the drop). This is the type of great mass-market news that both greenie-weenie and free marketers can both agree on.

Our next house WILL get a big chunk (or all) power via panels and other renewable, off-the-grid type power. I’d love to see everyone move to this sort of thing. Am I a rabid Goreite? No, but five years as a wilderness guide does have an effect. Rather, I see the mass adoption of consumer-level renewable resources as a thumb in the eye of the Man, and a way for the average person to become more independent and autonomous. Isn’t it nice when both sides can work together? See that, Congress?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to watching the prices fall and the capacities rise. Now we just have to convince HOA’s across the country that solar panels are not visual blight.

Marfa, Eat Your Heart Out

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 1:03 am

Weird lights in the sky over in Norway (video at link). Freaky spiral pattern. I can’t find it right now, but earlier I saw a good computer model that convincingly showed how a leaky missile launch (where the leak caused the missile to spiral like a bullet) would have this exact effect. It’s cooler to think of it as a new Stargate opening up, though. Boring old rockets. Harumph.


Christmas Wish

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 12:49 am

So if anyone happens to have an extra thirteen grand sitting around, and a burning desire to make a little boy (okay, big boy) ecstatic at Christmas, I would really, really love a Shopbot PRSstandard 96-48. Just saying.

Screw world peace. I want to build stuff.


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 12:23 am

Someone graduating from college thinks, and is told, that he needs to get a job, as if the important thing were becoming a member of an institution. A more direct way to put it would be: you need to start doing something people want. You don’t need to join a company to do that. All a company is is a group of people working together to do something people want. It’s doing something people want that matters, not joining the group.


December 9, 2009


Filed under: Quoth,Woodworking — jasony @ 4:51 pm

When Bauhaus designers adopted Sullivan’s “form follows function,” what they meant was, form should follow function. And if function is hard enough, form is forced to follow it, because there is no effort to spare for error. Wild animals are beautiful because they have hard lives.


Designing a particularly difficult prop right now (no right angles, very organic) and it’s giving me fits. The design of it isn’t particularly difficult, but the execution is driving me nuts. How to make something with no right angles out of basic, cheap materials that are only right angles? I’m having fun, but the moment of execution (the prop or my own) is drawing nearer. I’ll be able to post more in March when all secrets are out.

Well, That’s Logical…

Filed under: Politics — jasony @ 1:48 pm

Economic collapse? Blame the Christians.


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 11:01 am

“…when Leonardo painted the portrait of Ginevra de Benci in the National Gallery, he put a juniper bush behind her head. In it he carefully painted each individual leaf. Many painters might have thought, this is just something to put in the background to frame her head. No one will look that closely at it.
Relentlessness wins because, in the aggregate, unseen details become visible. When people walk by the portrait of Ginevra de Benci, their attention is often immediately arrested by it, even before they look at the label and notice that it says Leonardo da Vinci. All those unseen details combine to produce something that’s just stunning, like a thousand barely audible voices all singing in tune.”

Paul Graham,

December 8, 2009


Filed under: Music,Quoth,Uncategorized — jasony @ 10:31 am

β€œ…though there is a lot of language to describe music, there aren’t words for some of it. It’s a case of you know it when you hear it. Or more to the point, you know it when you don’t hear it…That final spark that takes a piece of music from being competent to being inspired, gives it that last boost so that, even from the first bars, you know this is it.”

John Varley, Rolling Thunder, p 96

December 7, 2009

Ex Libris

I may have posted this a while back, but it’s worth a re-post. The ultimate Geek Library.

Future Ride

Filed under: Space — jasony @ 10:10 pm

Virgin Galactic unveils SpaceshipTwo.

Window on the World

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 9:49 pm

I just finished reading a sci fi book where the protagonist had embedded projection technology on her contact lenses, enabling her to see a heads-up display wherever she went. Coupled with this was the ability to run a Google search on whatever she was looking at.

I always thought it would be cool to be able to Google something without knowing what it is that you were looking at. After all, how much use is a dictionary for defining a word if you don’t know what the word even is? However, I put this technology farther down the timeline than the embedded contact lenses.

Well, lookee here:

Pretty impressive, even though it’s in its infancy.

December 6, 2009

Roll Around Heaven All Day

Filed under: Music — jasony @ 11:40 pm


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 10:22 pm

β€œThe public has greatly over-estimated the possibilities of the aeroplane, imagining that in another generation they will be able to fly over to London in a day.This is manifestly impossible.”

William Pickering, Harvard University astronomy professor, 1908.

Broken Computer

Filed under: Macintosh — jasony @ 8:53 pm

I pulled my headphones out of my Macbook the other day and the red light from inside the headphone jack turned on (it’s the digital headphone out for when you have the laptop plugged in via sp/dif). I took it to the Apple store and the verdict was a motherboard replacement. There was one component bad on the motherboard, but since they’re monolithic, if something goes wrong you have to just replace the whole board. It’s still within warranty (for another 55 days), so the repair was free, but it would have been $600 otherwise.

They took the laptop overnight and gave me a new motherboard, plus a new faceplate (which was cracked), and a new keyboard, touchpad, and button. Not bad for a warranty repair. I think I’m going to pay the $250 for 2 more years of AppleCare in case this happens in the future. Hate to do it, but I want the computer to last a while.


Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 8:40 pm

Dinner tonight: Homemade brie-stuffed-crust artisan pizza with fresh basil, italian chicken sausage, fresh mozzarella, and roma tomatoes with a pear and walnut mixed green salad, and a wonderful bottle of Chalone Vineyards pinot noir. Life is good.

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