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Category: Cool Stuff

February 3, 2009


I was just introduced to ClusterSSH for mass orchestration of SSH sessions -- type once, run many.

January 25, 2009

Link dumpin'

Some of this old, some of this new:

December 21, 2008

Cool stop motion Lego

This video by Paul Romein and Greg Radzimowsky is a lot cooler than I thought it would be. It's hard enough building the Millenium Falcon in Lego, let alone do it in stop-motion, and do it will flair.

August 6, 2008


jetpens_logo.gifI like Japanese pens. A lot. Last time I was in Tokyo, the Sekaido stationary store was at the top of my list of places to visit. I can't help it -- fascination for pens is the sort of thing that's ingrained in you growing up in Japan as half of your gifts are ultra-fancy pens. You come back to the United States and you feel impoverished in the land of Bic.

So, imagine my excitement when I found out that there is an importer of Japanese pens right here in United States. Mountain View, in fact. They have a Web site so I don't have to drive down the street and offer with free shipping on orders over $25. It even has tutorials on how to modify your pens. JetPens, how could you have eluded me for so long?

I received my care package today courtesy of Lily containing some of their top products. I haven't had much time to try them out but I'm already over the moon. Here's the rundown.


  • Uni Jetstream Alpha Gel: the cool metal body meets a squishy grip for some of the comfiest, silky smooth writing I've experienced. It may not be the prettiest ink, but this is the sort of pen that's with you for the long haul, keeping that writer's cramp at bay.
  • Pilot Hi-Tec C 0.5: popular and precise, fine and finesse. The Hi-Tec C's aren't the most comfortable pens to write with, but performance requires sacrifice. I got an 0.5 but these puppies go all the way down to 0.25. If you've been wondering where you can find these in the United States, you have your answer: JetPens.
  • signobit.rice.jpgUniball Signo Bit 0.18: Uniball is just showing off here. I'm already a fan of the Signo line, but this is just ridiculously awesome. I was told it can write on a grain of rice -- long-grain/short-grain not specified -- so I tried it out on some Japanese short-grain. I was able to scribble out a 'kwc' before I ran out of room on the grain.
  • Hinodewashi Electric Eraser: I can decide if I like enough to overcome the embarrassment of using this in public. I mean, being too lazy to wave my hand to erase pencil marks? Oh Japan, what will you automate next? I was a bit surprised to examine its guts and find the same little electric motor that powers the Tamiya Mini 4WD cars. I'm tempted to purchase a more powerful motor to give it more oomph.
  • Uniball Signo DX 0.38: this is another pen I can see using on a regular basis. It puts out a solid, clean, dark black line and feels comfortable in the hand due to its rubber grip. It does offer a little bit of resistance due to the relatively small 0.38 tip -- you can get an even smaller 0.28 version.
  • Pilot Fure Fure Shaker Pencil: Shaker mechanical pencils rock. Instead of clicking a button on top, you just shake it to get more pencil lead. It's oddly satisfying. I was fascinated as a kid when I received my first shaker pencil. It was large and solid black, so the secrets of its mechanism had to be worked out by carefully listening as I shook it back and forth. The Pilot Fure Fure is much more compact and clear so you can be visually fascinated by the weight moving up and down.


July 7, 2007

Photos of Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart

2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 031 2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 002

2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 006 2007-07 - Kwik-E-Mart and Misc 035

Krusty O's and Buzz Cola are currently sold out, but the Mountain View Kwik-E-Mart was a fun visit. The whole store -- inside and out -- has been redone, and it should stay up through the end of the month. Maybe by then I'll be able to try some Simpsons merchandise, as the signs implore me to do. More photos if you're interested.

July 5, 2007


[image pulled (see below)]

In the battle against Neutrinos, Japan first constructed Kamiokande. Kamiokande II was stronger, able to fight Solar Neutrinos sent by SN 1987A of the Tarantula Nebula. The Japanese scientists were pleased with their nucleon decay experiment but worried about proton-decay weaponry slipping through the defenses. They conceived of Super-Kamiokande: ten times more water, ten times more detectors.

The Neutrinos penetrated Super-K's defenses on November 12, 2001: 6,600 of the detectors imploded in a massive chain reaction. Super-K was hobbled; it's lesser form, Super-Kamiokande II, redistributed the remaining detectors and added acrylic shells to shield it from another strike. In 2006, Super-Kamiokande III rose from the shattered glass, returning Super-K to full strength in the Neutrino warfare.

Update: The Super-K folks don't appreciate my sense of humor. I wrote the above entry after I stumbled across the beautiful images of the facility for perhaps the second or third time (it's been around since 1996). The name of the facility conjured up memories of Godzilla films -- some of you have witnessed me re-enacting faux Godzilla battles in response to Ikea furniture naming (Markor vs. Ramvik). Even though I met all their listed conditions for using their images, including notifying them of the use, it was this notification that was my undoing:

We basically do not provide our image for personal web page.
Additionally, your article seems to be scientifically incorrect.


February 12, 2007

If I had a millenium


The 5,195-piece Millenium Falcon ($499) is 2,091 pieces more grand than my previous set of Lego envy, the Lego Ultimate Collector's Imperial Star Destroyer. In fact, as the Lego site notes, "this is the biggest LEGO set ever made!" The previous 985-piece Lego Millenium Falcon always looked cheesy to me, but maybe it just means that it needed 4000+ more pieces.

February 17, 2006

Harry Potterish Video Stamps in the Netherlands

lenticular_stamp1.gifThe Netherlands is releasing plastic 'video stamps.' The is the same technology that you've probably seen in the past with pieces of plastic you tilt back and forth, but it appears that it is done much better. More info at Gizmodo. I can't wait for the day that this becomes a consumer-available product and I can print off videos of my nephew for my parents to stick on their fridge.

February 6, 2006

Warty comb jelly movies

Photos won't do the warty comb jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium justice. Neither will these low-res movies I took because warty comb jellies are one of the simply coolest creatures that nature has created. If I had a lot of time and money, I would make a feature film where giant warty comb jellies take over Earth and force us to dance at all night raves to their bioluminescent glory.

warty comb jelly warty comb jelly warty comb jelly

February 3, 2006

Wakeup Soap

soap2.gif3 years ago, I proclaimed caffeinated soap to be the '#1 innovation of the year [2002].' I'm a lazy luddite, though, and have yet to actually use this invention I exalted. Have no fear, ArsTechnica has put the soap to the test and, barring a $100 12MP Canon Digital Rebel with built-in GPS, I can re-proclaim caffeinated soap to be '#1 innovation of the year [2006]' because some innovations transcend the year in which they were invented. It may just be the added tingliness of the peppermint oil, but the stuff appears to work. I believe.

August 9, 2005

E-mail mountain vis

I thought this was a rather interesting e-mail visualization:

email mountain

Each of the individual color stripes represents a single contact, much like the Baby Name Wizard, and the overall shape gives an idea of e-mail volume.

(via infosthestics)

August 4, 2005

Within sight

I just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, which almost goes well with this fun NASA commercial

April 27, 2005

Post-Its at 25

Happy 25th Anniversary, Post-It Notes, the indespensible element of my note-taking and todo-list management.

I was reading a history of the invention of the Post-It notes, and I found it interesting how much it parallels other classic stories of invention: small inventor vs. corporate behemoth, great invention but no idea what to use it for, near-failure, etc... It especially reminded me of many of the classic PARC vs. Xerox stories, from the invention of ethernet to the invention of the laser printer.

I've heard many times the story of how the adhesive used in Post-Its was a failed attempt at creating a super-strong adhesive; I don't know if that is apocryphal or not, but the history above doesn't even go into this. Instead, it talks about the various failed ideas for how to use the substance, from Post-It Bulletin Boards (images of corkboard printed onto a large tacky surface) to Post-It bookmarks. Even when Fry, the inventor, finally came upon the idea of Post-It notes, he had trouble getting 3M to produce them. Despite their wild popularity within the company, 3M didn't want to shift their production process from things that you sold on rolls; Fry had to build his own miniature manufacturing machine to prove that it could be done.

March 1, 2005

Free fonts

Delicious, yummy, and free: Fontleech: The Free Font Blog. It's a fairly new blog, but I hope that it will continue on as I will enjoy having daily delivered free fonts in my feedreader.

December 24, 2004

Nintendo-style X-mas music

If you're in the mood for Christmas music and old-school Nintendo games, these mp3s should keep you entertained: 8bits of Christmas.

December 1, 2004

Sharing the love

Got this one through work, but it seems to be free for the taking (and I was just starting to make a dent in my reading backlog): 20% off at Borders Dec 6-10

Using this coupon requires that you actually physically walk into the bookstore -- that may be too difficult for some, I know.

September 29, 2004

Hot Sharpies

Besides taking one of the best digs at Terrell Owens ("Tonight, we will leave our mark on the game of football... We will NOT, however, leave our mark ON the football"), Sharpie now has retractable markers. Must... have.... them... all...

July 14, 2004

The links overfloweth

ultimate iPodAs if to answer my post on link dearth, the harvest is now bountiful. I should save some of these for 99, but oh well:

HULK Blog SMASH!: which shall entertain me now that the anthropomorphic mars rovers have run their course. 1

Ultimate iPod (well, not really): pqbon and I were discussing the simplicity of the iPod last night. As if to fly in the face of everything we discussed, someone mocked up what the iPod would look like with everyone's absurd feature request. 2

NYTimes on Giant Robot: mmmm, fried mochi on a George Foreman grill. Definitely will have to try that one out. 3

A reason to add Belgium to my visited countries map: Belgian Centre of Comic Strip Art: Yerba Buena had a good comics exhibit awhile back, but an entire museum would be even cooler 4

tranSticks: finally, a Sony product I can say positive things about :). If done right, I think wireless tech like this can fix usability and security issues that we see with technologies like Bluetooth, while making the overall setup so much easier to understand. The color-coded sticks allow the person to actually see the setup and interact with it physically without worrying about PINs/passwords, device names, menus, etc...

Whee! Backyard coaster 2/5

1 via kottke 2 via engadget 3 via metamanda 4 via fwak 5 via boingboing

June 28, 2004

Nature's wonders big and small

nanoflowerIn the spirit of inverting nature, I first give you flowers, shrunk down to nano-scale: Nanoflowers (another article, gallery, nanotree, nanobouquet)

And, for the small made big, I give you an Attack from the Deep: GIANT Rollie Pollies! (aka pill bugs)

(via apothecary's drawer)

May 11, 2004

My plans for the future

will involve playing a lot of this

For all you doubters/haters out there: I finished the previous one, though I did have to quit my job to make enough free time...

May 1, 2004

Cool contrails

The Earth Observatory keeps putting out cool images. Here's one showing off airplane contrails in the Southeast.

April 7, 2004

Kool koi

Antipixel | Blog has one of the highest quality photo blogs that I've encountered. Not only does he manage to post several great photos every week, but he managed to take this excellent photo of koi with cherry blossoms. I've tried twice to take a good photo of koi, snapping several dozen photos each time, and I have yet to have a single photo that I am happy with. I'm jealously in awe:

March 27, 2004

Old GUIs

It still amazes me that such a small team was able to produce such a seminal piece of both hardware and software: the Xerox Alto. This reprinted Byte article describes a bit of the history, and also provides some screenshots of the GUI that begot all future GUIs.
(via mefi)

March 26, 2004

Short and sweet 3D

This is sick: cool POVRay-generated images using 256 characters or less (Round 3). To give you an idea of how short that is, the HTML in this post is exactly 256 characters. (via mefi)

March 20, 2004

Coolest Boy Scout project

This is a highly detailed account of a Boy Scout, who from various publications and writing letters to government agencies, was able to construct a partial breeder reactor. His only real failure came in his inability to obtain enough enriched uranium for a sustainable reaction. If you're interested in taking a few years off of your life, there's probably enough details in the article for you to make your own attempt.

If you like the article, the author has expanded it into a book.

March 19, 2004

Interesting approach to Social Networks + SPAM filtering

Loaf looks like a clever approach to using social networking concepts. The idea is that you try to identify non-spam by checking whether or not the e-mail originates from an address in your social network. That idea itself isn't unique, but what was clever is that the authors thought of using Bloom Filters to generate a small attachment that you could append to any e-mail. Bloom Filters allow you to test for membership, but they don't actually reveal the membership list. Using Bloom Filters and e-mail attachments:

a) decentralizes the approach (i.e. it doesn't rely on you being a member of Friendster/Orkut/etc...)

b) I don't have to reveal who my friends actually are. There are possible attacks that the authors are aware of, and their are tradeoffs in the amount of privacy this approach provides, but, in concept, this would be nicer than white list approaches (where only people in my addressbook can send me e-mail).

Granted, I'm still annoyed when I see .vcf files as attachments, so I'm not sure I would take well to this sort of attachment either, but it's a great start.


February 26, 2004

Animated gif for Kenj

Kenji was talking with me about animated gifs, as I guess he's planning on making some soon. Here's one that he can aspire to (made by someone who had too much time on his/her hands):
- animated gif

WARNING: the above link is the most frikkin' intense stickman I've ever seen. In fact, stay away from it if you're prone to seizures.

(via BoingBoing guestbar (Johannes Grenzfurthner))

February 16, 2004

February 29

Just wanted to say that I just realized that this will be our first leap year in eight years.

Update: I am so wrong. 2000 was a leap year. 1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but 2000 was a leap year because it is divisible by 400. The year is ~365.25 days give or take, so one out of every four centuries is a leap year.

February 14, 2004

zero-g water balloon fight

Not quite what the title suggests, but this should let your imagination run wild, and the videos were really cool.
- Did you ever wonder what it would be like to see a water balloon pop in space?

February 9, 2004

Guess I'm not the only one that thinks its cool

A week ago I posted about how it would be cool if there was "a feature where you can buy the drum + bass tracks (possibly rhythm track as well) of a song off of the music store and import that into Garage Band." Turns out that feature may be coming a lot sooner than I thought.

According to a posting on SH Forums, Damage Plan (aka Pantera) will be releasing alternate versions of their tracks on iTunes Music Store with different instruments removed. Hopefully other bands and labels will recognize the value and follow suit.

January 19, 2004

Cool Mars Animation Video

This is a really cool animation of the Mars Rover from launch on earth to its mission on Mars. The level of technical detail appears to be high to me: they studied old Mars sunset images to get the correct blue cast, and you see a lot of the rover elements in high detail. I didn't realize how many rocket stages there were to launch the thing, and it's really cool to see the rocket get smaller, and smaller, and smaller.

One other note: the "American Beauty" music coupled with the camera on the rover make it seemly oddly anthropomorphic, and there are also the Johnny 5 resemblences.
Maas Digital MER Animation (medium) (via Kottke)

January 11, 2004

While I'm on the topic of "laws"

Just after I made the previous post, I found this on Kottke:
What's Your Law?

There are a bunch of eponymous laws listed, some I recognize, some I don't. For example, there's Godwins Law (see below), which I seem to see mention on a daily basis now. Then there's Strogatz's Second Law of Doing Math (also see below), which I haven't heard of, but my bastardize corallary seems to backup my use of Google to verify Scalzi's quote :).

Godwin 's Law

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

Strogatz's Second Law of Doing Math

To figure out if something is true, check it on the computer. If the machine agrees with your own calculations, you're probably right.

Unattributed Bastard Corollary of Doing Research

To figure out if something is true, check it on the Google. If the machine agrees with your own research, you're probably right.

January 9, 2004

Moons of Mars

High-Resolution MOC Image of PhobosA post on /. asked why Mars Spirit wasn't sending back any night photos showing off Phobos and Deimos. I was intrigued enough to go investigate, and quickly found out why. According to the Phobos size comparisons page that NASA has, Phobos, the larger of the two Mars moons, is .006 times the diameter of our Moon. Deimos is .004 times the diamter of our Moon. The NASA page lets you view virtual size comparisons, and at first I thought it was broken because all I saw was an image of the Moon. I then realized that Deimos was the white pixel in the corner.

PhobosIt also turns out that there are photos of the Phobos and Deimos that were taken by Pathfinder. They aren't particulary interesting, though there are some nice photos of Phobos taken by the Mars Global Surveyor.
- Phobos Photos
- Deimos Photo

November 25, 2003

Some freakin' cool sun images

sunThe Winners! Top 10 Sun Images from SOHO

Electoral map redux

From the same site as the previous post, an interesting redesign of the popular tradition of showing election results by shading in counties by candidate. The author redid the maps so that they accurately take into account voter population, rather than land area. > Mapping Votes by County

African or European?

Estimating the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow
(via A Whole Lotta Nothing)

November 9, 2003

Please distribute this in California

The first-ever caffeinated milk beverage is now available in Minnesota. At last, the cream for my coffee will no longer dilute my drink.
- Pioneer Press | 10/31/2003 | NEW PRODUCTS: Hyper Cow adds caffeine to rev up teen market
(via Obscure Store and Reading Room)


This is such a great idea for a costume:
Fluffy Costume
(via Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things)

October 31, 2003

Customer service with humans!

cnnfn has a list of how to bypass some automated customer service menus and get a live person. For example:
- Bank of America's escape code used to be hitting zero twice, but they may be on to us. Now you must hit zero three times.
- MasterCard holders can hit zero three times for a live voic
Get me a live operator - Oct. 30, 2003
(via boingboing-mailblog)

Some of my favorites...

The current solar stormin' is a good opportunity to post a couple aurora photos to my site, and meta linked to
a good collection of recent photos.

aurora aurora aurora aurora October 2003 Aurora Gallery

October 20, 2003

Eliza v. Board of Education

Now that I work at an AI center I better read up on this in case my laptop breaks or I want a new one
(via /.)

October 17, 2003

Cure your Coke addiction

Just differently intelligent.: Water or Coke

Not sure where these facts come from, but you should drink more water regardless:
- 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half the world population.)
- Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
- In many states (in the USA) the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.
- You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of coke and it will be gone in two days

September 9, 2003

Warning: Do not view this entry if you have a headache

Saw these cool rotating illusions linked to on Boing Boing. Maybe I'll make one of them my background to keep all but the staunchest visitors away.

I really liked the black hole illusion, but then I viewed it on a different, smaller screen and it didn't work anymore. Oh well, the pincushion illusiono is very similar. For more illusions you can also check out Illusions and Demos by Ted Adelson.

September 8, 2003

Land of the Lost

After reading about the London tube stations in Gaiman's Neverwhere, I really enjoyed rummaging through these sites that were linked to off of Making Light:
- Abandoned Stations
- Forgotten NY

September 3, 2003

The King of Junk Food

Some of you might think that a Jelly Bean Elvis is cool, but a toast Elvis seems more appropriate, especially if served with peanut butter and bananas.

August 21, 2003

Gimme my double double-double

Article on In-N-Out's biz: Business 2.0 - A Timeless Recipe for Success

Sam I Am

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Language (Green Eggs and Ham)

Free Music!

I just stumbled upon this today during my daily read of the Washington Post: - MP3. It's like was, but with a local musician bent. I'm planning on sampling some of the music when I get a little more time. In my quick read of the upload agreement, it seems pretty good for artists as well - you give the Post a non-exclusive license that you can revoke at any time.

August 19, 2003


Talk Like A Pirate Day - September 19 (via Dave Barry's Blog)

August 14, 2003

Logo love

GoodLogo!com - World's finest selection of logos. (via Zeldman)

August 13, 2003

Atari Adventure!

Atari Adventure is the first game I can remember playing as a kid, and now someone has wasted their life away to create a Flash version of it so that people like me can play it once more.

Update: link updated to point to new location

Selling Out

I was browsing Kottke and came across this Harvard Advocate interview with Dave Eggers in which he rants about selling out.

August 10, 2003

Fark Misc...

Some fun links from Fark:

August 3, 2003

Some additional info for your Zagat searches

Perhaps Zagat should import this info at the bottom of each survey: san francisco department of public health environmental health section

July 30, 2003

Woohoo! Available housing

Those of you who have suffered with me through housing crunches will be happy to see this graph on craigslist. (via boingboing)

June 17, 2003

Scientific Snake Oil

Saw this excellent post on Ed Felten's blog. It's a nice analysis based on the Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science

May 25, 2003

Mt. Everest 360

I found this link to a 1989 panorama of Mt. Everest. Someone converted it to Quicktime so you can manuever the full 360.

May 13, 2003

Cats hate me

I don't like cats, and they don't like me. But I could start liking them if they were all as evil as this one:

Britney, the patron saint of my cat hates you

Source: my cat hates you (� 2002-2003 Seamus McAnus Productions)

May 8, 2003

Car choppin'

Amusing link from the betas list:
- How to get your car in the 14s

A quote from ar: "Getting with girls is like Voltron: the more you hook up the more powerful you become"

November 6, 2002

Caffeinated Soap!

#1 innovation of the year

August 1, 2002

Walking Logger

Plustech Oy makes a wicked cool logger:


They know it's cool too b/c they'll even have a link on their front page to download wallpaper of this monster.

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