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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

For Fluffy

Monday, January 5th, 2009

(Credit to R. Stevens)

Gig-E, Screen Sharing, and Screen Sharing (Don’t try this at home)

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Recursive Screen Sharingrecursive

(After a minute or so, the switch turned off the port connected to the laptop…)

Addendum: Today (22Dec), Byron, Phil, and I attempted VNC-doom: 3 laptops, 1 gigabit-ethernet switch, and an attempt at a full 3-way mesh of screen sharing.

We found bugs. Lots of annoying little bugs. The most entertaining/frustrating version was inducing one-way visibility in the clients. So we didn’t get the full-mesh going today, but we got some really pretty pictures from having two loops running at once. Maybe after a round or two of bug fixing (if reports have any effect), we’ll give it another shot.

But I think next time, we’ll need 5 laptops in a mesh. Not only do you get a nice layout on the client screens (one peer in each corner), you end up with a pentagram for a diagram as a bonus :).

Cylon Explains DRM

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

I gather this has been around a while, but it’s new to me. Larry the Cylon explains the problems with DRM:

We’re In Ur Bank…

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #950

(Via BoingBoing.)

BBC Interview with Steven Moffat

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Steven Moffat has been responsible for some of the best “new” Doctor Who episodes. He will take over as show runner after the current season. From a recent BBC interview:

Asked about his reputation for writing scary episodes he said: ‘If people are worried that because I’m taking over Doctor Who it’s going to be just really, really frightening, if that’s your concern then… tough.’

This bodes well. Well indeed!

BVI Bareboat Cruising (Part 2)

Monday, July 7th, 2008

In my Bareboat Cruising Class post from a few days back, I promised a followup post about the boat itself. This is that post, along with some general travel notes.

The Boat

Salaway was a Moorings 494. In any other context, it would be better known as a Jeanneau Sun Oddessy 49.4. She was a good boat in general, and handled very well both under sail and power. Like any charter boat, it was configured with more cabins and heads than the boat was really designed for–in this case, 2 double berth cabins, 2 1.5 V-berth cabins, and 4 heads. This resulted in really tight quarters and lack of storage in the cabins. The salon and cockpit areas were quite spacious.

This boat was also sold in a 3 cabin, 2 head configuration, with a large owner’s cabin in the bow. I think that version would be much more livable.

She was a nice boat underway. She had a 2 wheel design, which was very nice for allowing the helms person to sit way out on the windward side for maximum visibility, without having one of those stupid-big wheels that block access so badly. My only handling complaint was that following seas tended to kick the stern out one way or another, which gets pretty tedious deeply broad reaching under full sail and trying to avoid a crash gybe. In all fairness, these were “instructional” conditions where we were running more sail than we might have on a leisurely cruise. If it was just us, we would have probably rigged a preventer–or maybe even run on just the jib. On anything higher than a broad reach, she sailed exceptionally well. All lines were routed back to the cockpit. Lines from the mast led through a set of line clutches to a pair of two-speed winches near the companion way. Jib sheets led back to a larger set of 2-speed winches on the gunwales. Lines were generally well labeled.

There were a few design choices that I didn’t understand. Except for the wind readout, none of the instruments or engine readouts were visible from the wheel without major contortions. The shroud chainplates were dead center on the otherwise nice, wide side decks. This made moving between the cockpit and foredeck harder than it needed to be, specially if you were carrying something. The lifelines and bow pulpit did not seem very sturdy. The foredeck would have benefited from more grab rails, although their were nice high rails around the mast that you could lean against while hauling on halyards and such.

There were a few maintenance issues that could have been better. I give The Moorings the benefit of the doubt that had we been the direct customer rather than going indirectly through the sailing school, they might have been a little more attentive. The biggest issue is that the house batteries would just barely hold a charge. The mainsail track could have used some attention, as the main could be a little balky coming down. This could be a safety issue considering that you had to climb up the mast a couple of steps to reach the sail to haul down on it–not fun on a pitching deck. The cam cleat on the boom vang was sprung. The speed and distance log was non-functional. I guess they expected us to use the GPS, but it’s confusing to have instruments that don’t work. The air conditioner compressor for the aft cabins had problems, not that it mattered once once we left shore power.

This sounds more negative than it really should–I haven’t enumerated all the things that were right with the boat. It really was a net positive.

The Place

You pretty much can’t go wrong with the BVIs. We spent the nights before and after the cruise at The Moorings base, which is now combined with SunSail. They have nice facilities in general. There’s some major expansions underway. They had recently opened a new section of spa-style shower suites that were really nice–as in 5 star hotel nice. We enjoyed these on the night before the cruise, when we stayed on the boat itself. We stayed at the on-site Mariner hotel the night after, which was basic, but nice. (Of course, after a week at sail, relatively endless hot water is the height of luxury.) It had a king bed, a nice view, a wet-bar and fridge, and, above all, air conditioning. Actually, the AC broke down early the next morning. Fortunately, we were checked out before the heat of the day. I don’t know what it is about us and AC–our home unit is having problems now, too.

The on-site restaurant is good, but expensive. Actually, we found this to be true of most of the island. The best bet is just to realize in advance you are going to pay gourmet prices for merely pretty-good restaurants. I just made myself quit paying attention to the prices. Given that most food is imported, this should not be much of a surprise.

We spent a good deal of the class in Gorda Sound (as labeled on the charts) aka the Virgin Gorda North Sound (as everyone calls it.) This is a large harbor area at the north-east end of Virgin Gorda. It’s protected by a couple of smaller islands ( Mosquito Island and Prickly Pear Island) as well as lots of reefs. The entrance is a little tricky if you haven’t done it before–keeping to the channel between Mosquito Island and Prickly Pear Island is important. It’s tempting to try to sail between Mosquito Island and Virgin Gorda. Don’t even try it unless you are a lifetime native with a really shallow boat.

The sound is big enough to get some wind, but small enough to keep the chop down. This made it a perfect location for lots of the class drills. It also has some first rate shore facilities, the Bitter End Yacht club in particular. The Bitter End has a first rate resort, if you want a land-based vacation. We spend some time in the sound on a Windjammer (r.i.p.) cruise several years back, and were very happy to return.

We spent the Friday night of our mini-cruise in the Bight of Norman Island, which is a boater hot-spot. There’s the Pirate’s Bight, a nice beach bar and restaurant, along with a nice (and air-conditioned) gift shop. But the famous spot is the William Thorton, aka the Willie T. This is a floating restaurant and bar infamous for wild parties. In fact, when we had dinner there, most of the bar had been taken over by an extended family reunion group who partied big-time.

We spent a few days in Cane Garden Bay recovering from the class. We got a room at Myett’s, which is a combination beach bar, restaurant, and guest house. The room was really nice, except for issues with the, wait for it, air conditioner. (Really, it was adequate to cool the room for sleeping at night, which is all that really matters. If you hang out in your room all day in Cane Garden Bay, you really should just go to Vegas instead. ) Cane Garden Bay is a beautiful beach area and popular anchorage. It has several very good beach bar/restaurant, of which Myett’s is probably the nicest. There’s also a popular bar called Quito’s Gazebo that features Quito on guitar. This is worth seeing if you get a chance, he was very good.

From all my Air Conditioning comments, you might think we are typical Texas AC junkies. That’s really not true; we spend a good bit of the Texas summers outdoors. The top on my Miata pretty much only goes up if it’s raining or snowing. On the other hand, our previous BVI trips had always been in January, when the highs run around 80 and the lows upper 60s to low 70s. All the almanacs indicated that June would be similar daytime temperatures, but warmer nights. Don’t believe it–days were typically low 90s and nights low-to mid 80s. Not to mention humidity that would drown Houstonians. I guess the almanacs are wrong, as all the locals we talked to said the heat was typical. It was really fine in the daytime, when you were outside in the breeze. Nights below decks, on the other hand, could get a bit steamy. Maybe if we had enough battery to run the cabin fans, it would have been better. As it was, one of the newer boats with AC and a genset sounded pretty nice by the end of the week.

Again, don’t get me wrong. We had a great time, and would go back in a second. Even in summer with no AC.

Star Trek: The Experience Closing in Vegas

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Star Trek: The Experience Closing in Vegas

Several of us visited this during the SIP interim meetings in Vegas several years ago. I was fairly impressed, particularly with the “ride” that simulated a transporter in a way that almost made me suspend disbelief. As the article mentioned, it was a nice “geek-friendy” break in a town that is not particularly friendly to non-gamblers.

J.J. Abrams, we’re counting on you to make things right again.

The Gestalt of the Internet

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

The current big deal in Japan appears to be a musical animation of Oshiri Kajiri Mushi, or “Butt-Biting Bug”. It’s on youtube; I’ll let you find it yourself. Because that’s not the point of this post.

I googled “butt biting bug” to see if I could find some background info. One site I found had no real info at all. But the Google ads on the page, in combination, were a work of accidental art that will probably not occur again:

Official Bug Doctor Site (bug doctor for the PC.)
Large, Round Booties (figure it out yourself.)
Bug Beetles (huge selection of Beetles items.)

…and finally…

Kill mosquitos with the leaf blower you already have…

I think that pretty much sums up the Internet–or at least the WWW.

Your (Rotten) Brains

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

Here’s your steaming helping of ridiculous for today.

Bonus points to anyone who can identify the game engine they used for this.

End of Internet Radio?

Monday, March 5th, 2007

The US Copyright Royalty board has approved a per-performance royalty regime for internet streaming. Per-performance means they pay royalties for every _listener_ for each song they play, retroactive to 2006. This puts a far greater burden on internet streaming radio than on conventional radio. In many (most?) cases, the new royalty requirements are greater than the revenue of the stations.

I am a big fan of Radio Paradise. I’ve listened to them for years, and contributed several times. They have posted an essay on the subject.

Of course, there is an easy fix for this. Move offshore. And laugh while our copyright regime completely collapses under its own greed and idiocy.

It’s hard to imagine that _no_ one at SoundExchange and the RIAA gets this.

It gets weirder than you _can_ think

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

Every year the great State of Texas holds a huge State Fair.

There’s a lot to make this fair unique, but one of the more extreme traditions is finding the wildest fried thing they can convince people to pay money for, and sometimes even eat.

At this point, you’re probably thinking fried twinkie, fried oreo, fried pork rinds, but no – those are left for the mundane, unimaginative fairs of other states and countries.

Here, folks compete for wierd. Last year you could get a fried peanut butter, jelly, and banana sandwich. One of the winners was fried macaroni and cheese. It was getting so strange that I was able to convince several of my friends from Canuckistan that they were serving fried butter-flavored Crisco on a stick. I’ve felt a little guilty about that, figuring they’d learn otherwise and never trust my stories again, but this year’s state fair bailed me out. I’m going to tell them about this, and they’re not going to believe me. It will be mighty sweet when the press backs me up…

There are two major winners in this years contest. One is (IMHO) a little lame: fried pralines. I don’t know why they let that one in – it has a chance of actually being good. The other though….

Fried Coca Cola

No, you read that right. Really. Fried Coke. Don’t believe me? Read the news. I’m completely floored, and no I am NOT going to go try some.

I figure next year they’ll try frying these. Fried stick.         um…, on a stick!

Gastronomique at 2-Billion degreez

Sunday, March 19th, 2006

There are several fun new devices coming out for those who like to explore in their cooking.

Add a little more science and things could get really  interesting:

Dark Crystal Sequel Planned

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

I’m a sucker for Henson stuff. And it looks like they’re planning a sequel to The Dark Crystal. There’s a bit of voice casting information on IMDB.

For those of you familiar with the original: this film is set several hundred years after the first one. Apparently, Kira is still alive, and is now Queen of the gelflings:

Spiritual Connection: April Fools Conspiracy

Saturday, April 2nd, 2005

In case you missed this silly little April Fool’s connection:

Tigers will do anything for a tuna fish sandwich

Sunday, February 27th, 2005

No offense, Gary and Berke. But it’s all right here.

Don’t Mess with SciFi Writers

Sunday, February 6th, 2005

Normally, I try to avoid posting links I think everyone has already seen (i.e. already on Slashdot), but this one is too good to let go by. An allegedly mainstream press publicly states that Science Fiction and Fantasy genres have a lower quality bar than main stream fiction.

Literary mayhem ensues.

This Has Got To Be Good

Saturday, February 5th, 2005

Jim Henson Productions, Neil Gaiman, and Dave McKean are teaming up to make a movie by the name of Mirrormask. The synopsys:

MirrorMask is the story of Helena, a fifteen-year-old girl working for her family circus, who wishes — quite ironically — that she could run away from the circus and join real life. But such is not to be the case, as she finds herself on a strange journey into the Dark Lands, a fantastic landsape filled with giants, Monkeybirds, and dangerous sphinxes. Helena searches for the Mirrormask, an object of enormous power that is her only hope of escaping the Dark Lands, waking the Queen of Light and returning home.

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