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Category: personal: events

August 30, 2008

Zero-G: Boom-de-yaddah

I'd love to write more about it, but, honestly, my brain is just fried right now. Perhaps tomorrow. It's such an intense and amazing experience and my mind is still trying to digest it all. I've wanted to do this for over a decade and it's with absolute gratitude to my employer Willow Garage that I can add this unique experience to my life. For some reason I feel like singing the Discovery Channel commercial, "The World is an Amazing Place." boom-de-yaddah

Zero-g Photos and Video

January 9, 2008

Rose Bowl 2008

Sun sets on the Rose Bowl as USC score another touchdown

Over the New Years break d and I went down to visit my aunt and uncle and watch the Rose Bowl. They were kind enough to offer up their seats to me and I happily accepted.

I pretty much got what I wanted with respect to the game. USC had to blow out Illinois in order to get any respect, which they did. The conventional wisdom was that USC was a much better team and that Illinois shouldn't have been selected for the Rose Bowl; this was validated by the 49-17 final score. One of the things I enjoy about watching USC play is that they use all their weapons: Davis, Ausberry, Dennis, Reed, Washington, and McKnight all had touchdowns. McKnight gave a performance that has people thinking Reggie Bush in future years.

September 4, 2007

My weekend

Christine Thorburn Sunset on the 24 Hour Course

As part of my tune-up for the Tour of Missouri I spent all of Saturday shooting cycling races. First up was the Beat the Clock time trial at 7am. The was mostly "field testing the 70-200 f/2.8 IS", so I shot some head-on shots as those are the most stressful for the equipment. Not everything was a keeper, but the image stabilization reduces one more area of mistake: camera shake. Normally at 200mm, you have to shoot at around 1/320 or faster to avoid camera shake blur. With all the action that's going on, I sometimes forget to check the shutter speed while shooting (I always shoot with aperture priority). IS gives a little more margin.

I left the time trial, stopped off at home to upload my photos, then zoomed down to Monterey for the World 24 Solo/Team Championships. The organizers gave me a lift out to the first checkpoint on the course and proceeded to hike about 5-7 miles along the course back to the Laguna Seca raceway. The narrow single track along the way gave me ample opportunity to break in my 16-35mm as well as my 580EX II flash. The flash got some additional testing when the sun went down and riders continued to race, but I must say that I am still not comfortable using flash in my sports photography. By 9pm I was nearly out of battery life, compact flash storage, and personal energy -- I drove home happy but tired. Hats off to anyone who shoots all 24 hours of the 24-hour race. Much, much more difficult than any road race I've shot.

All-in-all it was a great photography day, not in the photos, but in the ability to stress all of my equipment and to shoot in all kinds of light. I shot several shots with riders heading into the morning sun, battled the annihilating overhead noon sun that casts dark shadows over faces, and got some pleasing lighting with the setting sun. There was also a couple of hours of battery left to shoot some night motion blur.

June 15, 2007

Jimmy Kimmel Maker Faire

mousetrap.jpg

Jimmy Kimmel was at Maker Faire and aired a nice video highlighting some of the fun. You might recognize the person operating the giant mousetrap.

May 19, 2007

Maker Faire: my perfect event

I'll probably spend some more time at Maker Faire tomorrow, so I'll save the summary posts until later, but I wanted to point out how Maker Faire is a perfect convergence of my interests:

That's right: an event that can generate blog posts for my cycling blog, my MythBusters blog, and have plenty leftover for my normal blog is an event to behold (for people like me).

Maker Faire - Eepybirds (Diet Coke + Mentos)

crossposted from MythBusters blog

Eepybird.com - Diet Coke + Mentos

Eepybird.com - Diet Coke + Mentos Eepybird.com - Diet Coke + Mentos

Eepybird.com - Diet Coke + MentosThe Eepybird video was the inspiration behind the MythBusters' Diet Coke + Mentos episode and they were on site at Maker Faire 2007 to another one of their 'experiments.' The MythBusters were one of the main attractions at Maker Faire 2006, so it is only fitting that the Eepybird folks got to put on a show. 102 bottles of Diet Coke and some large amount of Mentos certainly make for a good performance.

The video should make it to Eepybird.com eventually, but for now enjoy the photos.

This t-shirt saved me $1600

Maker Faire225

I won a copy of Adobe Creative Suite Web Premium (it has the super bells and whistles) for my t-shirt design above (top 2-3 designs every 4 hours gets the prize). Adobe's Experience Design (XD) group had a fun booth at Maker Faire where you could create your own stencil design on a computer, have it cut by a laser cutter, and then airbrush it onto a t-shirt. It was all great fun, though we had to wait two hours in line (many thanks to d who convinced me to keep waiting when I was on the verge of giving up).

d and I both made the cut for the top six, so we're feeling really good about beating out all the little children and grandmas we were up against -- there was an adorable design (also top six) where a girl held her stuffed dog up to the camera. I didn't win for my design as much as I probably won for creative use of their software. The stencil software was fairly basic: you could add a text layer, a drawing layer, or a B&W photo layer. Apparently I was the first person to figure out that you could stack photo layers on top of each other to create concentric outlines. My use wasn't that masterful, though: I didn't properly visualize the stencil process and ended up having to throw away portions of my stencil that were disconnected.

NOTE: this now counts as my second big prize win ever, following my laptop. Seeing as these will both be big tools in my freelance photography adventures, it shows that there is more than one way to run a business ;).

May 16, 2007

Overly full weekend

MakerFaire! I've been looking forward to the second annual Maker event so that I can mingle with geeks of all breeds. I'm not sure what my game plan is this year as they're running things a bit differently: there aren't classes to sign up for, but there appears to be open classes. I've been whittling down potential Saturday and Sunday schedules -- sorry crocheting, you're not for me.

SF Sketchcrawl to benefit Emergency. The SketchCrawl is Saturday and there's an auction 5-9pm on Sunday at Maverix Studios (1717 17th Street, SF).

Hangtown Motocross Nationals near Sacremento. (update: Hangtown is probably a no as I can't seem to get a press pass). This one is a bit far for me, but its also the only national nearby for sometime and the scarcity of pro road/mtb cycling events may require me to diversify. Still waiting to see if I can get a press pass.

October 16, 2006

Unti + Zazie = Good

d and I went up to SF last night for two tasty things: an Unti Vineyards dinner at Zazie's. Zazie's is a popular brunch spot, but for whatever reason they cooked up this wonderful pairing:

First Course

Baby arugula salad w/pomegranate seeds, toasted almonds, chevre, and raspberry champagne vinaigrette
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2005 Rose
Notes: This grenache rose was smoother than others I've had, less acidic, which I enjoyed. The salad was a bit too dainty to enjoy all the flavors together.

Second Course

Wild mushroom and black truffle fresh raviolis w/aged parmesan
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2003 Grenache (Library selection)
Notes: mmmmm, black truffles raviolis in truffle oil...

Third Course

Duck legs braised with red wine and port, dried plums, and black currants
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2004 Sangiovese
Notes: Some people were mixed on this tasting -- one couple thought the Sangiovese too alcohol-y -- but I thought that a strong taste was necessary to stand up to gamey duck.

Fourth Course

Slow braised Niman Ranch beef shanks w/soft mascarpone chive polenta
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2003 Syrah 'Benchland' Reserve
Notes: the polenta was creamy like mashed potatoes, which makes me actually like polenta. The Benchland reserve was the wine that my dad and I picked up two bottles of on our way back from Garberville.

Dessert

Guittard chocolate torte w/whipped dark chocolate ganache and creme anglaise
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2004 Banyuls Grenache (barrel sample)
*Notes: d notes that the torte was the Platonic Form of a Cadbury cream egg. This is in fact high praise. The Banyuls Grenache was a dry grape grenache batch rescued with water, sugar and brandy. *

I missed out on getting Unti's Barbera Port, which sold out far too quickly, so I enjoyed getting the opportunity to sample their unreleased Banyuls Grenache. Why is it that wine gone bad can taste so good? Mick Unti also poured a wine they will be bottling in December -- I had too many glasses at that point to remember they were calling it. It will be Unti's first $45 wine, but they are just that proud of it.

We were in the 'fun' corner on the patio. Mick Unti came over to eat a course with our three tables; he made a graceful exit after several conversation topics may have turned him various shades of scarlet.

September 7, 2006

Housewarming thanks

I didn't think 40 people would be able to fit in our apartment, but somehow people seemed to find the space. Thanks everyone for stopping by, making for a good time, and bringing things like brats, coolers, pies, cakes, dips, chairs, sausages, beer, and wine to make it all work out. Apologies to those we couldn't invite -- we freaked out a bit when we saw our evite hit 40 people, so we figured that we're just going to have to throw more events. We'll need your help though: somehow our wine bottles multiplied, and we're going to have to remedy this problem.

For those of you who enjoyed the chicken recipe, here's the epicurious link. I like the recipe because it's darn easy -- no marinating, you can make the sauce while the chicken is grilling, and it's delicious.

April 23, 2006

Maker Faire

Maker Faire was so much bigger and better than I thought it would be. I thought it would be great, but it was amazing. There were multiple pavilions crammed with eye-catching maker-foo and everywhere inbetween was interestingness as well. It was part Burning Man, part science fair, part RoboOlympics, part Web 2.0 conference, part RoboNexus, part DorkBot, part arts and crafts fair, part who knows. m, d, and I went on Saturday and I couldn't resist going back for Sunday as well. Some highlights:

Maker Faire-07 Maker Faire-10 Maker Faire-17 Maker Faire-13 Maker Faire-06 Maker Faire-15

  • Parallax had some great workshops, great in that you got to walk away with ~$70 worth of hardware for only $15. I made an RFID reader and a ultrasonic range finder. It's a good investment on their part -- I'm very tempted to get into BASIC Stamp programming now and also get one of their boe-bots: they showed off how you can mount the range finder on a swivel to turn it into a short-range (3.3m) radar.
  • I had a great time relearning how to solder while making my own Simon game.
  • The MythBusters were there playing Segway Polo and test driving a Xebra. The parking lot smelled like burning after their test drive.
  • The fine folks of The Crucible had a firetruck flame-shooting apparatus and there was also the flame-shooting SS Alpha Fox. The booms were loud enough that it was shaking the workshop building next door.
  • I absolutely loved the Meccano models of Difference Engine #1 and #2 (photo 1, photo 2).
  • Lego was showing off their next generation of Mindstorms: NXT. I snapped a video of their NXT scorpion 'stinging' my hand. The NXT set should be Mac and PC compatible and will support Bluetooth. I previously abandoned Mindstorms immediately after I discovered the kit I bought required Windows 98.
  • The folks at Amazing Magnets had a about a liter of ferrofluid to play with -- much more than the 30mL I bought.
  • There were plenty of modified bicycles on display, like a lawnmower bike and a chopper bike. My favorite was the Harry Potter broom bike. I failed to tame that unruly broom ride.
  • The cartwheeling robots (video) that I last saw at Robolympics were back.
  • There was a live demonstration of glass-flower making (video)

This entry doesn't begin to cover what was at Maker Faire. If you're interested in finding out more, you can check out the official Maker Faire site, the 3000+ photos on Flickr, or my mediocre photoset.

February 4, 2006

Reconsidered Materials at the Exploratorium

Reconsidered Materials-Silk waves Reconsidered Materials-01 Reconsidered Materials-Exodus

Reconsidered Materials Styrofoam Hummer Reconsidered Materials-Fossil Fueled Reconsidered Materials - Rubber Horses-1 Reconsidered Materials-Quilt

There's something about an art show at the Exploratorium that just works really well. Perhaps it's the fact that it's hard to tell the difference between the art pieces and the Exploratorium exhibits (hint: the art pieces came wtih pink labels). Perhaps it's the fact that a mostly adult crowd gets unleashed in a children-oriented museum to play. Whatever the reason, I hope that there are more shows at the Exploratorium. At least this year, while I'm a member.

I became a member as a result of the very, very long line out front. I don't know if it was the Jello SF posting on BoingBoing, a summoning of the Burning Man crowd, or what, but there were a lot of people at the Reconsidered Materials exhibit. Far more than the Exploratorium planned for. They were offering memberships as a way to get to the front of the hour long line, but I resisted as there was no way to get all three of us in on one membership. Or at least I didn't think there was until I talked to the possibly inebriated museum staff. It was a good night for the Exploratorium.

Jello SF was the reason I was there and it didn't disappoint, though we were surprised by how small it was. I guess we didn't take time to think that the artist was doing SF piece-by-piece. The piece that she made for the exhibition was in the Twin Peaks neighborhood and was at a slightly smaller scale than the downtown model. The artist's mom was there to hold a container of dry ice fog over the entire model while it was regularly given earthquake simulations.

There were eighteen installations and I particularly enjoyed the full-size styrofoam Humvee (American Detritus), the blanket pigeons (Exodus), the quilted tea bags (The Quilt), and the Rubber Horses, all of which you'll find photos of in the flickr photoset. I also liked Arp Forms and Strobe Flower, which I've posted movies of below (I forgot to take a movie of Jello SF). Arp Forms was a mixture of corn starch inside of a vibrating cup that caused the corn starch to congeal up into a blobular, dancing form. Strobe Flower was a plastic bag hooked up to a variable speed motor and a strobe -- you could put your finger into it to push it into different forms. click on the photos to access the movies, apologies for rotated strobe flower movie:

Reconsidered Materials-Arp Forms Reconsidered Materials-Strobe Flower

See also: horizonline's and m's posts from the exhibition

January 30, 2006

Upcoming

With the exception of Wondercon, I'm pretty sure I'll be going to all of these events. Wondercon is relatively close to Valentine's Day, which the organizers don't seem to consider a scheduling conflict.

Friday, Feburary 3 from 7-9pm: San Francisco in Jello at the Exploratorium (one night only as part of the Reconsidered Materials exhibit)

Monday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m.: Douglas Hofstadter at Stanford

Friday, Feburary 10 to Sunday, February 12: Wondercon at the Moscone Center

Sunday, February 19 at 10:00AM: Tour of California Prologue, San Franscico Individual Time Trial

Tuesday, February 21 at ~noon-3PM: Tour of California Stage 2, Martinez to San Jose

Wednesday, February 22 from 11:00AM-2PM: Tour of California Stage 3, San Jose Individual TIme Trial

September 20, 2005

FFiesta

I got my schwag on at tonight's Flickr Fiesta: food, beer, t-shirts, and magnet toys. I now know what Caterina Fake, Heather Champ, Jason Shellen, Stewart Butterfield, and Simon Willison look like in person, but I couldn't really decide what one talks to such people about while greedily grabbing anything not bolted down and stuffing it into my jacket. There was also the entrancing live-flickrstream display on the wall that seems capable of inducing seizures or hallucinations. I forced myself to look away.

I brought my camera but decided not to partake in the warfare. There was constant cross-fire of SLRs, as evidenced by the growing photostream of 'flickrfiesta'-tagged photos. I seem to have escaped capture in the currently posted photos, though I did spot ota. I'm sure that every it's only a matter of time.

September 15, 2005

Updated speakers

Looks like Books Inc on Castro Street picked up some of the Keplers speakers (Terry Pratchett, Alan Alda, Salman Rushdie), so I won't have to drive anywhere to go see Rushdie and Pratchett:

Monday, September 19 at 6:30pm: Flickr Fiesta at Yahoo

Tuesday September 20 at 7:30pm: Terry Pratchett at Books Inc in Mountain View for Thud!

Thursday, Sept. 29 at 7pm: Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon at Book Passage in Corte Madera for Anansi Boys

Friday, September 30 at 7pm: Neil Gaiman at Cody's for Anansi Boys

Monday, Oct. 3 at 7:30pm: Salman Rushdie at Books Inc in Mountain View for Shalimar the Clown

September 7, 2005

Upcoming events

UPDATED: new calendar here Upcoming event I may or may not be at depending on my schedule and willingness to drive:

Monday, September 19 at 6:30pm: Flickr Fiesta at Yahoo

Wednesday, September 21 at 7:30pm: Terry Pratchett at Cody's for Thud!

Thursday, Sept. 29 at 7pm: Neil Gaiman and Michael Chabon at Book Passage in Corte Madera for Anansi Boys

Friday, September 30 at 7pm: Neil Gaiman at Cody's for Anansi Boys

Monday, Oct. 3 at 1pm: Salman Rushdie at Book Passage in Corte Madera for Shalimar the Clown
Monday, Oct. 3 at 7pm: Zadie Smith at Book Passage in Corte Madera for On Beauty

September 6, 2005

Post-rally

ota, ln m and I were at the Save Keplers rally today were, according to the Palo Alto Weekly, there were 450 people. Judging from the statements made by the speakers at the rally, it appears that there is a strong chance that Keplers will be saved. The main component of the rescue plan appears to be a consortium of 'qualified investors,' where 'investor' is something more akin to 'donor.' With the large number of dot-com millionaires in the area one would think that there should be plenty of people who fit that bill.

Other components of the rescue plan appear to be a membership program as well as focusing on the Keplers online presence (one speaker mentioned buying books on the Web site multiple times). At the very least they will need to revise their business model to better deal with Amazon. Part of their concern and planning seems to be that they want to make sure that the efforts of this rescue attempt allow Keplers to be viable for many, many more years.

As parakkum taught me today, 'Hope is not a plan,' but today's rally did provide hope and soon we should find out if these shadowy investors will step in and save a Peninsula cultural institution. The speakers recommended that we monitor www.savekeplers.com for updates.

August 26, 2005

Upcoming Keplers speakers

update: Keplers has closed.

The next month or so of Authors Showcase at Keplers is looking pretty interesting. I'll probably be heading to these three for anyone that wants to come with:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 7:30 PM Terry Pratchett, Thud!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 7:30 PM Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

Monday, October 3, 2005 7:30 PM Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown

February 26, 2005

Animation festival

Went to Shrunken Head Man's presentation of films from the Ottawa International Animation Festival. The first segment was best student films from 2003. The second segment was best professional films from 2004. Much fun, too tired to write much about it other than what's already here. I wish I had several of these on DVD, but for now I'll have to be satisified with the few clips I found online. I'm not going to write much about the ones I didn't like, except to mention that I think "Mr J. Russel" scarred both parakkum and honeyfields -- during another short, honeyfields muttured, "No, no more dogs," a bit louder than she intended, and a several rows laughed (probably because they shared the same fear).

Favorites that have clips online:

howtocopewithdeath_web.jpg

How to Cope with Death, Ignacio Ferreras: one of my favorites, featuring a confrontation between an old woman and Death. short excerpt is online (have to navigate to films->How to Cope with Death).

crabes.gif

La Revolution des Crabes, Arthur de Pins: a funny film about crabs that can only move from side-to-side, unable to turn (I saw political undertones, others did not). Update: just realized clip online doesn't have subtitles. Oh well.

ryan.jpg

Ryan (Chris Landreth): not quite a favorite, but visually interesting with an good human interest story (with an animation crossover). I personally was not a fan of the aesthetic.

Urinal.jpg

Proper Urinal Etiquette, Kurt Nellis: funny parody of classic education films dealing with the all important choice of urinal stall.

Continue reading "Animation festival" »

October 23, 2004

Robonexus

Posted some photos from Robonexus onto my flickr page. Some samples are below, but there are more. Robonexus was interesting, though I think that for staring at cool robots doing stuff Roboolympics was a bit better, even if it was a bit smaller. Robonexus had better robots, but for the most part they were sitting there doing absolutely nothing (there were scheduled demos, but they were often packed). What Robonexus was good for was finding out where to buy robot parts and other toys from. I really want to get one of the RF-controlled flying saucers that Robot Store was showing off, but it's not listed on their site yet.

Centibots
SRI's own Centibots looking for the pink box.

view profile

Swarm
Swarm robots from iRobot

view profile

Flying saucer
Definitely gonna get one of these. I wonder if it's possible to get a very light camera attached?

view profile

October 12, 2004

Robots!

I'm going to RoboNexus in Santa Clara on Oct. 23 to stare at cool robots. Anybody else interested? Expo passes are $15 free if you contact me early (I should be able to get a couple extras).

October 5, 2004

Chocolate tasting

chocolateJed organized a group to go chocolate tasting at a class at Draeger's in San Mateo. It was run by Jason Garoutte, who had given a talk at PARC.

I have to say that chocolate tasting is a lot of fun. It's a lot like a wine tasting, and you can even supplement the tasting with wine, bread, and cheese (the latter being necessary for cleansing the palette). Prior to this tasting, I knew nothing about chocolate. I still know very little, but at the very least I can now start appreciating some of the more discerning qualities of chocolate.

Warning: chocolate tasting can be expensive to your budget. After we were given a sample of Hershey's to compare with the nicer chocolates, I'm not sure I can taste Hershey's chocolate ever again. Its hard to explain how foul it tastes with the memory of good chocolate still fresh on the mind.

If you want the experience of a chocolate tasting on your own and you live in the Bay Area, you can pick up one of Garoutte's tasting kits at Draeger's.

Continue reading "Chocolate tasting" »

September 22, 2004

Star Wars

Are people interested in a viewing of the Star Wars DVDs at 99, and if so, in what format (i.e. marathon, one a week, just Empire, etc...)

August 12, 2004

Sixapart mixer

nametag

Sixapart went all out with their mixer. Open bar with great drinks (Chimay, sake, wine), tasty (but a little strange) hor d'oevres, great schwag, and an art gallery to top it off (with a slightly disturbing painting of a topless Uhura). There was also a lot of the MovableType team and random industry and blogger representatives, and you could generally tell who was who, as the MT people and industry people mingled while the pure bloggers stood around :). I managed to pull away from my wallflowering long enough to have a couple of conversations, including one with a guy from rojo, a soon-to-be combined XML aggregation/social network service.

The 3.1 demo went well. I wasn't excited by the PHP integration when I first heard about it -- I was worried that it wouldn't be a seamless switch -- but when I saw it in action I was impressed. With a simple menu selection you can get rid of page rebuilding, allowing you to make quick changes to your templates and speeding up the commenting process. The URLs stay the same and all the MT tags have been reimplemented using PHP. Kudos to Brad Choate for handing over the keys to this. They also showed off a new Post Status option labeled "future", which allows you to delay a post. That might be useful, but I don't know yet.

I've been having some good schwag karma. At Comic-Con I got the Star Wars lego minis and Incredibles poster. Google gave me a nalgene bottle and t-shirt. Sixapart wins the prize though. They gave everyone 32MB flash drives (USB 2.0) with the MovableType 3.1 beta loaded on it. They were even nice enough to give me an extra one so that bp can have one.

I didn't take too many photos as I've figured that their were so many bloggers there that there should be no lack of media produced from this event. Mena was taking tons of photos with Barak's Canon digital SLR, so I was jealous, as I want to save up some money for that camera. I did have to crop the photo of me and Mena to remove my mug from it, as there was no reason to ruin a perfectly good photo.

Mixer Photo Gallery (18 photos)

March 22, 2004

Robolympics photos

As promised, photos from the Robolympics. I've posted a couple here, there are more in the extended entry.

photo photo

Continue reading "Robolympics photos" »

March 21, 2004

Robolympics

I made it over to the ROBOlympics for several hours today. It was lots of dorky fun. There were some exciting robots fights, with plenty of sparks and metal flying, much more than I actually expected. I was hoping to capture a photo of sparks flying, but my digital camera couldn't cope with the high-speed action, and I also ran out of batteries.

(I will try to add photos to the descriptions in the entry when I get a chance.)

The coolest robots I thought were the Japanese bipedal robots, which look a lot like Japanime robots (photo). There were the lamest in terms of fighting, as they usually fell over under their own weight, and their punches were more for show than force, but they made up for their lack of fighting ability with style. Imagine one-two foot tall robots fighting it out as in a Japanese anime. There were taunting moves, flexing, 'power-ups,' waves, bows, somersaults, and headstands, and the robots could stand up on their own when they fell (which was pretty frequent). When the fights ended, it was usually a chance for the winning robot would usually do some winning pose/move.

I didn't fully understand how they worked, but each robot had one person with a fairly basic remote control, and it also appeared that there was another person controlling the robot using a laptop. I heard one person quote that they cost $7000 a piece, which sounds right for how much probably goes into those things.

There was also the more traditional battlebots-style contests. The wedge robot contests tended to be more than a bit boring, as it involve one robot driving around with the other on top of it for two minutes, though there were some wedge robots that were capable of flipping the other robot pretty high into the air. There was one robot that I liked, even though it lost, called Cyclone, which was a large spinning disc. When it moved you could see all the dirt/metal dust move away from force of it spinning. Vicious Circle out-manuevered it, though, and managed to dismantle Cyclone with a spinning blade.

The Mike Tyson of the robots had to be The Judge. It took out No Apologies with a single, pnuematic-driven blow. One blow, and No Apologies just sat there with a fist-sized dent in its top.

I also liked the Locust, which is a basically a buzzsaw with wheels. Despite getting thrown up into the lexan glass surrounding the stage, it managed to keep tearing large chunks out of its competitor until it couldn't take anymore.

My only disappointment was not seeing any of the flame-based robots, but there was only so many hours of robot fighting I could watch before I wanted to go home and rest up from last night :).

Whisky!

I had a lot of whisky/whiskey at the Whiskies of the World Expo. After filling up on as much buffet as possible, several of us stopped at the whisky 101 course to train our noses and palates. Our first speaker was named McClure and the second speaker sounded like Tory McClure, so that part was a bit surreal, as were the occassional fake Scot accents via New York thrown into the presentation. meta was enthralled by the third speaker's self-made plaid dress.

After learning about the process of making whisky, we got to the fun part about grassy, malty, smoky, and floral taste elements. When I get my notes back, I'll fill in which was which, but I remember the smoky was Talisker and the floral was Dalwhinnie (Cragganmore might have been the malty). We then tasted some Johnnie Walker Black/Gold before they sent us out to use our new tasting skills.

wdj acted as our faithful guide for the rest of the evening, and we managed to blaze through the man whisky hall and speciality drinking hall. It's hard to pick/remember favorites, but I do recall liking the Bowmore single malts, Compass Box's vatted malts (meta ordered several bottles of Compass Box's Monster), and MacTarnahan's amber ale. The Talisker from the class was nice as well. Unfortunately, for me at least, there is such a thing as whisky overload, and I was happy to finish the evening up in the speciality drinks hall where I could fill up on non-whisky.

My favorite overall from the evening had to be the armagnacs. I've never had any before, and there four vendors in the specialty drinks hall. I sampled heaving from two of the vendors before the evening was up, and nearly ever glass poured was older than me, with the oldest being a 1944.

We finished up the evening at Anne's housewarming (I had to skip Dropkick), which was fairly packed. Those of us at the party who had gone to Whiskies of the World, though, were pretty much on our last legs. * whiskydrinkingjesus' post * ginfiend's post

March 20, 2004

Robolympics

I'm such a dork, but I definitely want to stop by the Robolympics tomorrow. Here are the event listings. They have robosoccer, robot combat, robot sumo, robots fighting with fire, and much more.

November 1, 2003

Hallofest sucks

Hallofest sucked. Hallofest was terrible, awful, inexcusably bad. It was so bad that some people sold their tickets rather than enter. Let me explain.

Arrival time: ~11:30 (it might have been even earlier)
Time spent in Will Call line: 1 hour
Time spent in line to get in: 10 minutes
Time spent to get wristband for drinking: 5 minutes
Time spent to get inside the building my friends were in: 15 minutes

That means that I got into Hallofest at 1am! Last call is at 2am, which means that I spent $30 to wait in line for an hour and a half so that I could drink bad beer and bad vodka for one hour. Even if I didn't want to drink, I was compelled to by the fact that my mouth tasted like a sulfur spring. The Will Call line was lined with flares, which I can still taste a bit in my back of my throat, which is still a bit sore from breathing in the smoke.

There wasn't much relief from the awfulness inside, where it was terribly overcrowded. This wouldn't be terrible if it weren't for the fact that the crowd was composed of (a) people leaving the room because it's lame and (b) people entering the room hoping to find something that isn't lame. Your entire time is spent shoving or getting shoved around.

I'll keep this rant relatively short and leave you with one other reason why it was bad: they even made you wait in line if you wanted to get out. That's right, if waiting in four lines just to get in weren't enough, they continue the tradition by making you wait in line to get out.

Anyway, at least the company was good - I got to hang out with a really old friend of mine, as in the friend that I've known the longest in my life, and that was definitely fun and worth the trip. Next time I'll have to actually wear a costume instead of just painting a skunk stripe in my hair.

June 6, 2003

Flight of the Camcorder

This is the only photo from dorkbot I felt like posting, I like it because it looks like the camcorder is flying towards the screen, and there's also a neat picture-in-picture effect:

photo

dorkbot photos

Looks like I don't need to post my dorkbot photos, Karen Marcelo's already done the job for me:
- dorkbot photos
- photo with pqbon, amanda, and me

June 5, 2003

Dorkbot SF

I went to dorkbot SF last night. I was going to do a write-up, but Amanda was kind enough to transcribe her own notes. I pretty much agree: Tim Thompson cool, Danger dude cool (interesting to see the evolution of a business model through their prototypes), Dr. Friendly zzzzzzz (starting videos were nice though).

October 14, 2002

Puzzle: The Game: Buffyphilia

Original puzzle:
BUFFYPHILIA

Buffyphilia solved (well, almost):
"HUNDRED SEAPORT BLVD REDWOOD CITY"
One word unsolved: "TEN EFFS" or "STEFFEN"
(the 'S' should have been an 'I', giving FIFTEEN)

Description of puzzle: seven pages of screen captures of Buffy and Gilmore Girl episodes. On each page the screen captures are arranged in a cross. The first page serves as a link to each of the other pages. On the other pages, it is noticeable that the sizes of the images don't line up perfectly, this turns out to be the key to the puzzle (it turns out that the names of the episodes is not meaningful). The other key to the puzzle is to ignore Gilmore Girl episodes. The baseline dimension of the images is 240x180. The encoded character is determined by the offset from that size, so 241x180 = A, as does 240x181.

X - Gilmore Girls episode, ignore

Index 0: establishes baseline for character decoding
240 180
240 180
240 180
240 180
240 180
240 180

Index 1
BLVD (If you include Gilmore Girls, you get BEDEVIL, clever)
244 180 D
240 182 B
240 202 V
252 180 L
X 240 185 E
X 245 180 E
X 249 180 I

Index 2
FIFTEEN (originally decoded wrong as TEN EFFS/STEFFEN)
240 185 E
240 186 F
240 186 F
240 185 E
260 180 T
254 180 N
249 180 S (This should be an 'I')

Index 3
CITY
240 183 C
240 200 T
249 180 I
265 180 Y
x 248 180 H
x 240 199 S
x 258 180 R

Index 4
HUNDRED
254 180 N
240 185 E
240 184 D
240 188 H
261 180 U
258 180 R
244 180 D

Index 5
SEAPORT
260 180 T
240 181 A
240 185 E
240 196 P
258 180 R
255 180 O
259 180 S

Index 6
REDWOOD
258 180 R
240 195 O
240 195 O
240 184 D
263 180 W
244 180 D
245 180 E

October 11, 2002

The Game: Preclues

We received the preclues for the game. We solved the first one quickly. It is simply just a list of VCRPlus codes. After you look them up, you fill in the appropriate time slots on a chart and you get:

protractor
compass
ruler

September 3, 2002

The Game: Another preclue

Here is another clue that we got from their Web site. We had to listen to a bunch of sound clips, identify the movie, and then pull out the clue:

THIS IS NOT A PRECLUE IT IS TIME DATA

2002 10 19

10a [TOPGUN] Good morning gentlemen the temperature is 110 degress... Holy Shit it's Viper
11 [HAPPY GILMORE] Checkout the nametag, you're in my world now Grandma
12p [IJ: LAST CRUSADE] My boy, we are pilgrams in an unholy land
1 [Star Trek VI] Course setting captain? Second star to the right, and straight on til morning
2 [IN THE LINE OF FIRE] What do you see when you're in the dark and the demons come?
3 [STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE] Your eyes can deceive you, don't trust them
4 [NOTHING TO LOSE] I can't feel my ass... I didn't know an ass could fall asleep, it's all tingly and shit
5 [OFFICE SPACE] I can't believe what a bunch of nerds we are. We're looking up money laundering in a dictionary.
6 [TRON] There's a 68.71% chance you're right
7 [ANIMAL HOUSE] I gotta work on my game. Nah, don't think of it as work, the whole point of it is to just enjoy yourself
8 [PRINCESS BRIDE] Inconceivable!
9 [RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK] Snakes, why did it have to be snakes... very dangerous, you go first.
10 [ENEMY OF THE STATE] Conspiracy theorists of the world unite. Well it's more of a theory. I'm a former conspirer
11 [CLUE] Are you a cop? No, I'm a plant? A plant? I thought men like you were called a fruit


12 a [LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS] feed me now, I'm starving
1 [UNFORGIVEN] well i guess i had it coming. "we all have it coming kid
2 [EVIL DEAD] (weird incantation)
3 [INNER SPACE] when things are at there darkest pal it's a brave man who can kick back and party
4 [THIRTEENTH FLOOR] They say ignorance is bliss. For the first time in my life I agree. I wish I never encountered the awful truth voice
5 [IJ: TEMPLE OF DOOM] I hate the water, I hate being wet, and I hate you
6 [SOUTH PARK] You better get packing bitch
7 [TRUMAN SHOW] "good morning, good afternoon, good evening,
and good night")
8 [INDEPENDENCE DAY] "using one signal to synchronize their efforts.... in 6 hours checkmate"
9 [Matrix] "morpheus!"
10 [EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY] what did you say? oh nothing, I'm on drugs
11 [DIRTY HARRY/THE MASK] (do I feel lucky... well do you punk?)
12 p [ARMAGEDDON] after this is over, can I like get a hug from you or something?
1 [TOY STORY] I don't like confrontations!
2 [ALIENS] Game over man, game over

The Game: Letter

We received the letter clue from the game. The one was pretty easy. The clue is encoded in the -ly adverbs, which stand out because they seem very out of place. The extracted adverbs are:


unilaterally
rapidly
literally
presently
lately
uniquely
slyly
pragmatically
healthfully
outrageously
deliberately
rapidly
obviously
magnanimously
accordingly

Which gives the clue: "url plus phodroma"
- fobik.org/phodroma

PDF of letter

Plain text of letter is in the extended entry.

Continue reading "The Game: Letter" »

August 11, 2002

Small Brewers Fest!

<eom>

March 12, 2002

Stanford Improv: Micetro

Rich, Bryan, Grayson, Vanessa, Rain, Amanda, Matt

A little disappointing because it didn't seem they had practiced many of the games that much. Got better towards the end. Highlight had to be the Shakespeare love sonnet. Paraphrase:

Oh love, send me a feather made from her hair, for love is like a bird that flies straight through my heart. Not a dove, for a dove is too peaceful, and my love is too aggressive. Not a sparrow, neigh, for it is not nimble enough. Neigh, neigh, neigh, neigh. Is it an owl, for it is every night that I do see her. It is a peacock, with its beautiful plummage, so colorful and growing out, like my love for her grows. Grow, grow, grow.