Friday Jan 27, 2006

A hastily-assembled web event camera

I'm attending TAM 4, as I mentioned in a previous blog. As an extremely last-minute thing, I put up a web cam for the event, which you can view here. Given the time constraints, I'm quite pleased that it works at all, however it really is not very good. This quick blog entry is just for people to see the camera while it is "live". I will make a more extensive post about how this was implemented, and the lessons learned, at a later date.

Thursday Jan 19, 2006

Product of the week

This product of the week is only available by prescription. It is the Medrol dose-pack. I have been having a bad time with eczema the last few months, and I finally got referred to a dermatologist. He prescribed the aforementioned oral steroids, and they cleared the problem up in a matter of days. Now this is a powerful drug, and should of course only be used under a doctor's supervision. But I am stunned at how effective it was. So if you are offered Medrol for bad eczema, I suggest you consider accepting it.

I am not a physician, and this is not medical advice

Thursday Jan 12, 2006

Lava ™ lamps

Today I got a USB-powered toy similar to a Lava ™ lamp. This inspired me to get my real Lava lamp and move it from the living room to my office. I find these to be fascinating, and I'm always thinking about how difficult that flow would be to model. When the lamp is starting up, you have a mixed-phase flow with state transitions. I mentioned this to a friend online, who pointed me at this which is okay as far as it goes. But I think it is an over-simplification. One question I'd like answered is whether state transitions (from liquid to solid or vice versa) are important in the functioning of the lamp once it is up to temperature. It is hard to tell whether the wax globules truly have a "skin" or whether what appears to be a skin is just the boundary between two imiscible liquids. I've seen a Lava lamp screen saver - I suppose I could look at the source for that to see whether it is an actual fluid model, and what the parameters are.

Monday Jan 09, 2006

First Galileo bird operational

New Scientist is reporting that the first satellite in the Galileo constellation is now communicating with its ground station and appears nominial, following its December 28th launch. Galileo is a European system similar to the USA's GPS, but will be dedicated to civilian use.

Thursday Jan 05, 2006

My birthday present

This year, for my birthday I'm getting a trip to Las Vegas for TAM 4. This is a critical-thinking conference, and they have a bunch of great guests. I'm expecting to have a wonderful time, and will almost certainly post a trip report at a later date. Almost all the spaces have been sold, so if you'd like to go, hurry up and register!

Wednesday Jan 04, 2006


I'm about half-way through reading the ten-volume run of Transmetropolitan. I'm really enjoying this comic. It is a darkly-humerous and satirical take on the near future. The writing is excellent, and the art is attractive. However, the subject matter is adult-themed, and the language is uncensored, so it is most suited to mature audiences. My verdict: 9/10 at the moment, and I'm interested to see how the story develops in the second half.

Transmetropolitan, Warren Ellis et al, pub DC Comics.

Monday Jan 02, 2006

Happy new year

Happy new year everybody, even though it is completely arbitrary. I don't do resolutions, but I'm hoping this year to get back to some good daily habits that slipped a bit during the last three months of 2005. Blogging, for instance. We'll see how that goes.



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