The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'awesome'
This is awesome for more than one reason: The BBC's R&D department has posted a web page recreating various vintage Radiophonic Workshop effects using the Web Audio API, complete with source code and descriptions, both of the historical equipment used and the modern recreation.
An original IBM PC, simulated in the browser. It has a CGA adapter and two simulated floppy drives, into which one can load a number of pre-supplied images, including several versions of
MS-DOS PC-DOS, as well as VisiCalc and Microsoft Adventure. Not only that, but, if left to its own devices, it will run an order of magnitude faster than an original IBM-PC.
Anyway, the simulation is fully functional on all modern browsers (that I've tested). It's booting the original IBM PC Model 5150 ROM BIOS (no modifications), and it's loading the original MDA/CGA fonts. This configuration gives you more control, allowing you to toggle any of the SW1/SW2 settings to change the memory configuration, the installed video card (MDA or CGA), and the number of diskette drives. There's also a built-in debugger with lots of DEBUG-like commands, only better. And you can create your own configuration by tweaking the underlying XML file. I'll eventually do a write-up explaining how to embed it on your own web page and what options are available. The process is very similar to embedding the C1Pjs simulation that I wrote earlier this year--the XML is just a little different.The author, a chap named @jeffpar, is now looking to add more features to his emulator, bumping up the display to EGA graphics, upgrading the CPU to a 286 and adding a serial mouse.
A few interesting links I've seen recently:
- BBC Four recently aired a fascinating documentary titled The Joy Of Easy Listening, charting the history of easy-listening/light music from the 1950s onward. It's viewable on YouTube here.
- Digital artist Joshua Nimoy worked on some of the visuals for Disney's Tron Legacy film, and describes how they were done, from the physics of fireworks simulations and the algorithms behind various clusters of digital-looking lines to authentic-looking UNIX command-line shots for a hacking scene. (The fact that we've gone from "UPLOAD VIRUS Y/N" screens and random equations/6502 machine code/cyber-Japanese glyphs to nmap(1) being seen as too much of a hacking-scene cliché suggests that computer literacy in the movie-viewing public has increased dramatically over the past few years.)
- IBM's Executive Briefing Center in Rome looks like something out of a scifi film:
- Quite possibly the most awesomel wedding invitation in the history of wedding invitations would have to be Karen Sandler and Mike Tarantino's, a card which unfolds into a paper record player that plays a song recorded by the happy (and creative) couple. There are more details here.
Proof that we're now almost* living in the future: the new mobile Google Translate app, which runs on your iPhone and does speech recognition, translation and speech synthesis (provided you have a data connection, of course). So you can say a phrase into it in your language and have speak a translation into various languages, with even more supported as text only.
* Now all we need is mobile data roaming that doesn't cost extortionate amounts (after all, this is the sort of thing most useful abroad), and we will be living in the future.
This is pretty awesome: The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive music video (to use the term slightly loosely) by anthemic indie combo The Arcade Fire, with technical assistance from Google's Creative Lab. The way it works: put in the address of the house you grew up in, and you will be presented with a music video comprised of prerecorded footage composed with animations generated from Google Earth and Street View imagery of your home. Well, I use the term "music video" loosely; it's an experience comprised of numerous browser windows opening at various times and places, presenting various combinations of imagery. Using Google Chrome is recommended. (Note that some plugins may interfere with its operation; if it doesn't start, try running it in incognito mode.)
The Rap Guide To Human Nature is a hip-hop album about evolutionary psychology by a Canadian "rap troubador" named Baba Brinkman. It's not a joke: the beats are sharp, and Brinkman rhymes with the speed and dexterity of an accomplished rapper, deftly laying out the theories and controversies of evolutionary psychology, from kin selection to the biological roots of religious and political belief, twin studies to alternative models of human nature, and of course to areas such as sexual competition and social status where hip-hop culture and evolutionary psychology intersect. Note that, as expected from rap, the lyrics are probably not suitable for children.
(via Mind Hacks)
The Chipophone is an instrument for live chiptune performance (i.e., playing live music on a keyboard in the style of music generated by 8-bit computers and game consoles), made from microcontrollers and housed in the chassis of a 1970s-vintage electronic organ by a Swedish chap named Linus Akesson. There is a video of Akesson demonstrating the unit and its features, and playing some classic chiptunes live, here.
13-year-old Hibiki Kono built a machine allowing him to climb walls; the rig consists of a backpack with two small vacuum cleaners strapped to it, suction pads attached to the nozzles; the pull seems to be strong enough to allow him to climb as high as the power cord lets him. (Meanwhile, some commenters here claim that Kono merely copied somebody else's design without improving or modifying it.)
Architect Gary Chang, like most Hong Kong residents, lives in a tiny (32m2) apartment. Unlike most residents, though, Chang has developed a way of transforming his apartment into any of 24 combinations of living space, using a system of sliding elements on rails. Each room is combined into the walls of two adjacent elements, and designed to be or fold flat. The bed folds against the wall, and the next element that slides out exposes the kitchen; a wall-sized CD shelf moves to expose a linen closet, which in turn conceals a bath and a guest bed. There's a 4-minute video here and a New York Times article here (warning: requires registration). Chang also has a book about the history of his apartment and its various transformations, though it's not clear whether it covers the current arrangement.
Today is the 30th anniversary of the video game Pac-Man, and so, the Google homepage has a special commemorative graphic. Only this one's even more special than most: it's a complete implementation of the Pac-Man game, in pure HTML5.
Not only is there no Flash involved, but its assets consist of only one image, with the individual elements being drawn using CSS sprites. Alas, it'll probably be gone forever come the 22nd, so play with it while you can.
Update: Google PacMan is permanently located here.
Tattúínárdœla saga, an Icelandic saga telling the story of a fatal conflict between a father and his treacherous son, on which George Lucas' Star Wars films were based:
The story as presented in George Lucas’s films represents only one manuscript tradition, and a rather late and corrupt one at that – the Middle High German epic called Himelgengærelied (Song of the Skywalkers). There is also an Old High German palimpsest known to scholars, later overwritten by a Latin choral and only partly legible to us today, which contains fragments of a version wherein “Veitare” survives to old age after slaying “Lûc” out of loyalty to the emperor, but is naturally still conflicted about the deed when the son of his daughter Leia avenges the killing on him.
Lúkr is saved from drowning by the intercession of Leia and Hani’s men in the Þúsundár Fálkinn. Following this memorable climax, there is an extended lacuna in the manuscript, and the action picks up again with an episode wherein Lúkr rescues Hani and Leia from the corrupt (and grossly obese) Danish merchant Jabbi, a rather comical figure on the whole, and this entire incident is probably to be reckoned an interpolation from a later chivalric saga. Unfortunately the saga shows its repetitive nature at this point, and we once again learn that Veiðari is building, under the auspices of Falfaðinn, a great ship to be named Dauðastjarna in meiri. At a great feast, Lúkr and Hani swear that they will kill Veiðari and Falfaðinn, burn Dauðastjarna, and conquer Kóruskantborg. Their boasts are considered binding and the sworn brothers lead several warships loaded with men to the position of the Dauðastjarna. There Hani is assisted by what the saga describes as “birnir” (literally “bears,” but in context probably to be understood as “Shetlanders” – the German version confusingly seems to understand these as actual bears) in his great assault on Falfaðinn’s fleet, but Lúkr is captured by Veiðari and brought to an audience with Falfaðinn.
Jazari is essentially an automated, electromechanical percussion ensemble, controlled using two Nintendo Wii controllers. It consists of a MacBook, a bunch of Arduino boards and a room full of drums fitted with solenoids and motors, and software written in MAX and Java which parses input from the Wii controls and plays the drums. The software is also capable of improvising with the human operator, by imitating, riffing off and mutating what he plays.
Jazari was developed by a guy named Patrick Flanagan, who had been playing around with algorithmic composition, only to discover that people don't want to hear about algorithms, but do want to see a good live show. Anyway, here there are two videos: one of a Jazari performance (think robot samba float, conducted by a guy waving Wiimotes around; the music has a distinctly Afro-Brazilian feel to it), and one of Flanagan explaining how it works.
If former Microsoft executive Nathan Myrhvold (now involved in malaria-eradication programmes funded by Bill Gates) has his way, we may soon have miniature mosquito-killing laser turrets:
Now the fun stuff: Shoot mosquitoes out of the sky with lasers. ("A pinkie-suck idea.") It can be built with consumer electronics -- a Blu-ray player has a blue laser, a laser printer has fast-moving mirror. You can use them around clinics. The shoot 100% organic photons. You can measure wingbeat frequency and size the of flying insect and decide whether it is worth killing. Moore's law makes technology so cheap we can decide whether or not to kill a bug.
They have one here, built from parts purchased on eBay. They are using a green laser pointer instead of a killing laser, for safety reasons. We see a box of skeeters being tracked and zapped. We hear the mosquito wingbeat.There are also ultra-slow-motion videos of mosquitoes being zapped with a live laser here. Isn't technology awesome?
(via Boing Boing)
After professional bigot Pat Robertson declared that the Haiti earthquake was God's punishment for Haitians' un-Christian religious beliefs, one eBay seller responded by creating and auctioning a Pat Robertson voodoo doll, with all proceeds from the sale going to the American Red Cross. Bidding's currently at US$770, with eight days to go.
An electronic composer in Vienna has developed a means of reproducing the human voice on a piano. Recordings of speech are analysed and converted to frequency data, which is turned into MIDI notes. When played on a grand piano (using a system consisting of 88 pencil tops pushed by electromagnets or motors), it sounds intelligible, though otherworldly.
This is pretty awesome: a browser-based
* there's no sound, as one might expect.
(via Download Squad)
HTML5 Canvas and Audio Experiment. Twitter posts presented as a clickable particle swarm, with background music, and absolutely no Flash used. It's done entirely in HTML5, and, of course, needs a cutting-edge web browser to run on (Firefox 3.5 and Safari 4 both work, and so do Chrome and Opera, apparently).
And now, a chap in an orange puffer jacket and plastic electro shades who goes by the name "Jetdaisuke" will demonstrate how to make a talkbox using only a Nintendo DS, a copy of Korg DS-10 and an ordinary drinking straw. It's in Japanese (with a few recognisable words like "sturo", "talkbox talking modulator" and "daftapunk"), but easy enough to follow from the video alone.
(via Boing Boing Gadgets)
Patrick Farley (of Electric Sheep Comix) has a new work up: Don't Look Back, a gorgeously illustrated and witty slice of neon-lit 1970s prog-rock sci-fi futurism. It's a combination of distinctly retrofuturistic zeitgeists (prog rock/art, stories of spaceships, the freaks-vs.-straights dichotomy), gloriously rendered, and could be described as being like Illuminatus! meets the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with artwork by Roger Dean. It's a work in progress (only two parts are up so far), though keep checking back.
I'm no fan of Hollywood action flick director Roland Emmerich and his mindlessly bombastic work, though his house sounds all kinds of awesome:
Mao and Lenin fill the length of the 25ft living room wall; an old master-style painting of the Crucifixion shows Jesus sporting a Wham T-shirt; in the guest bathroom is a portrait of Saddam Hussein; and under the stairs, Pope John Paul II pores over his own obituaries. Welcome to the London home of Roland Emmerich, director of epic blockbusters, including Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow. It's an overtly political home: glass coffee tables dot the house, containing 3D architectural models of politically significant places, including Abu Ghraib prison, Tiananmen Square, the Dallas road where JFK was assassinated, and - a nice Hollywood touch - the LA neighbourhood where Hugh Grant had his infamous encounter with a prostitute. There's even a giant White House-shaped birdcage in the top-floor hallway, with stuffed white doves.
Teall's starting point was a suitcase full of Mao statues that Emmerich picked up in Shanghai. He then approached film set designers and artists to realise his own designs, employing scenic artist Jim Gemmill to draw the murals that pepper the house, and a posse of prop and model makers to fabricate everything from the life-size papal waxwork to the coffee table dioramas. "The joy of working with film people is their can-do attitude," Teall says. "I had approached high-end furniture makers who gave me outrageous estimates and didn't grasp the humour in the pieces. An architectural model-making firm refused to build the Iraq prison camp."
Emmerich is currently in Vancouver filming, but family and friends visit regularly, sleeping in the guest suites. "It's a choice of English camp or American butch," says Teall, who designed the former with Princess Diana paraphernalia: hand-painted rose wallpaper, a gold bedspread with velvet maroon crown canopy from Harrison Gill in Chelsea ("It was so hideous, but it totally worked"); Charles and Di wedding dolls found on eBay that now languish in the fireplace, and Alison Jackson's photographs of a fake royal family in various compromising situations. The American room is kitted out with army-issue gear, including a bed throw neatly sewn from 70 pairs of vintage army underwear bought from a bemused army surplus store owner. The headboard is adapted from a second world war aeroplane wing. Resting on a bedside table is a photograph of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, wearing an open dressing gown revealing a hairy six-pack, Photoshopped from a gay website.There are photos here.
An artist in Portland, Oregon bought an old Pullman rail sleeper car and converted it into a living/working space. The interesting thing here is that it's not sitting in a yard somewhere, sans wheels, but is on the North American railway network. It's stabled at a private siding, for which the owner pays $150 per month; electricity, cable TV and DSL are available. Should the occupant get bored of their locale, they can move anywhere on the railway network by getting a freight rail company to attach their wagon to a train and move it, for $1.50 a mile.
Now that it's known that one can rent private sidings with facilities, and contract freight train companies to move your home around the railroads, perhaps a new subculture of bohemian railcar dwellers (let's call them "boho hoboes") will arise, comprised of similar sorts of people that live in houseboats in Europe. And perhaps the railway revival that some are saying expensive oil will lead to will include new private, full-service sidings catering to the new hipster-hobo class.
I wonder whether something like this is possible outside of America. Could Europeans take advantage of the European railways' open-access rules to do something similar? If so, could an European rail dweller bounce around the entire EU at will for euros per kilometre? What about in Britain? (Though there, the problem arises that British rail cars, and the spaces between platforms, are quite narrow, which could make living arrangements somewhat cramped.) Could one make a railcar home compliant with British and continental standards and the Channel Tunnel's safety standards and cross the Channel with it? I'm guessing that in Australia, where the railway networks are more fragmentary and limited (and old sleeper cars are somewhat scarcer), such a thing could be more difficult.
(via Boing Boing Gadgets)
An impressively scholarly classical Latin translation of Vanilla Ice's Ice Ice Baby, complete with literal English translations and copious notes:
Ad ultimum flecto microphonem velut vandal
(I bend the microphone to the furthest point like a Germanic tribesman)
Scaen(am) illumin(o) et inept(um) incero quasi candelam (I brighten the stage and cover an inept man in wax as if [he were] a candle)
Man memorises Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven backwards, videotapes himself singing it backwards outside St. Paul's Cathedral, London (complete with righteous air-guitar and exaggerated facial expressions), reverses the video, adds music and puts it online. The overall effect is eerie, not least of all because of the steady stream of people walking backwards behind the strange man in front of the camera.
(via Boing Boing)
This week, Perry Bible Fellowship commemorated the (upcoming) sixth anniversary of Edward Gorey's death by doing a strip in his style:
This is clever: Stanley Kubrick's The Shining reedited into a trailer for a romantic comedy, à la Nora Ephron.
Update: here is a New York Times story about the trailer, which was produced for a competition, and got its editor the attention of people in the industry. And other entrants in the competition include: Titanic as a horror movie and West Side Story as a zombie flick.
(via bOING bOING, lj:jwz)
Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back translated into Latin, with a literal English translation beneath each line. Champagne comedy, folks.
Rebecca, ecce! tantae clunes isti sunt!
(Rebecca, behold! Such large buttocks she has!)
amica esse videtur istorum hominum rhythmicorum.
(She appears to be a girlfriend of one of those rhythmic-oration people.)
magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri.
(Large buttocks are pleasing to me, nor am I able to lie concerning this matter.)