Taking inside jokes just about as far as they can go at Topless Robot. I may rethink my own disposal plans. Some of my favorites:
- If only I had collected all 108 Stars of Destiny, all of this could have been avoided.
- Was eaten by a grue.
- In case of zombification: aim for head, apply violence.
- This is not an exit.
Speaking of Comic-Con, I'm once again devastated that I can't afford to go. So I'll torment myself by reviewing what I'm missing. Not going to surf the shopping reports just yet. I think I'll cry.
Yoshitaka Amano was there! I have a huge stack of his art books, even the rare Japanese limited editions. Not sure if he was doing signings for books people brought with them, but man, I would've tried.
I came across info about some quirky guys who do various types of competitive fighting, like mixed martial arts. Check out the skill, speed, and sheer awesome of Sudo Genki, who is hella fast and frequently shows off robot moves; note also how his movements avoid falling into a pattern, making it harder to anticipate his moves.
Of course, not all quirky fighters can be amazing at what they do. By comparison, I include Nagashima Yūichiro (known as Jienotsu), a kickboxer who cosplays various anime and game characters and who is also called an otaku. I was disappointed at the actual pics and vids of his antics, because while his premise has potential, he can't dance even marginally well; his fighting skills are neither noteworthy nor creative; his costumes are poorly constructed, with bad wigs and bad or no make-up; and he drops the cosplay during fights. I want my otaku pro athletes to be hyper-competent, not something with less effective cosplay than amateurs at a con. Even prisoners with no wardrobe budget do it better. Sigh.
I found a 1984 interview with science-fiction author Donald Kingsbury, whose Hugo Award-nominated novel Courtship Rite had a great impact on my wondering teen mind. Here, I discovered that Kingsbury is both older and cooler than I expected. Now I'm inspired to reread Courtship Rite.
Kingsbury was inspired to read after trying out H. G. Wells:
When I was ten, I hated reading — found it a drudge and a bore. We got all these stories about boxes that cranked out salt, filling ships which sank to the bottom of the sea. Fairy tales. What a bunch on nonsense! I wasn't interested. I figured maybe it's because they were only feeding us kids' books. I wondered what the adults were reading. The book I happened to pull out of the library was Seven Famous Novels by H.G. Wells. My mother had used to read to us from The Invisible Man as bedtime stories, so I knew Wells's name. After reading The Time Machine, I was hooked.
Kingsbury inferred WWII bombings before they happened:
Prediction is the key. In my first published story, "Ghost Town" , I said man would be on the moon by 1965. My friends thought a thousand years from now, maybe . . . I bet all my friends in high school that we'd be there by '65. It's a bet that I lost, but not by much. You have to predict something that seems a little bit preposterous. It'll always come sooner than you think.
Let me give you another example. In the first edition of Willy Ley's book Rockets and Space Travel, he said he didn't see how Uranium-235 could possibly be applied to rocketry. This was before the A-bomb. I wrote him a castigating letter — me, a 15-year-old kid arguing with the great expert — saying of course you could apply atomic energy to space flight. Willy wrote me back saying he could not comment because the military wasn't allowing anyone to talk about U-235. I linked that with the fact that I hadn't been able to find any recent information on U-235. In 1939, everyone had been talking about it freely. I notice you've got the facsimile edition of the July 1939 Astounding in your bookcase there. The editorial is about U-235 and atomic energy. Suddenly in 1940 — boing! — all references to U-235 disappeared from the journals. Yet I knew they couldn't have just lost interest. My natural speculation was that a military project was afoot and, considering the complete silence, I assumed it must be a realistic, practical military project. They weren't thinking of using U-235 in the Third World War; they were planning to use it in the Second! I argued this with my friend Bruce Knight. I was saying there must be a secret atomic bomb project and we're going to drop an A-bomb on the Japanese very soon. He pooh-poohed me. We argued until three in the morning. The next day, while I was mowing my lawn, Bruce came down the street white-faced. "Guess what," he said. "What?" "You won the argument." "What?" "They've just dropped an A-bomb on Japan!" "WHAT?!" That's the way the speculative mind works. You pick up on detail. If you'd been alert, you would have sensed it in the air.
Kingsbury met a childhood idol, author A. E. van Vogt, in person during a delightfully geeky venture to watch a space-probe fly-by:
I decided to fly out to the Jet Propulsion Lab to see the Voyager Saturn fly-by. I noticed one of the people who was also going to go was A.E. van Vogt. I wrote him a letter saying I'd been a long admirer of his and I'd like to meet him. I told him anecdotes about how I'd been thrilled as a youngster by his stories and how I'd read his essays on how to write SF. He replied with a very nice letter. When I got to Pasadena, there he was watching the big TV screens. It was just like we were in a control room on board a spaceship watching Saturn go by — that's the way our minds work. I had a very nice chat with him and his wife and he invited me out to dinner. It was a delightful evening.
And the interview was done by now-legendary author Robert J. Sawyer, who's won the prestigious Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Memorial awards. You can glean a bit of his background from this interview too.
The word just came across the intercom - you're needed for the away team mission. It's your first; you better look and smell your best. So you break out your Red Shirt Star Trek Cologne - the galaxy's first cologne made especially for you. The first cologne made especially for all of those brave warriors who wear the color red and never return from the planet's surface. That's right, you're probably toast, but at least you'll smell good on the way out.
I've gotta try it. From the wacky geniuses at ThinkGeek.
A guy has hooked up Guitar Hero to the Xmas lights on his house. People can visit and play the game using the Xmas lights instead of the usual monitor.
Christmas Light Hero is using 7 light controllers from Light-O-Rama built from kits to control 21,268 lights and LEDs. Each controller has 16 outputs and 2-3 TTL level control inputs that are used by the game system to fire different programmed light sequences depending on what happens in the game. It relies on the fact that the game sequence is very consistent. If the game and the lighting sequences start together, they will stay in very good sync through the length of the song. The light program allows branching and overlays for fail, star power and "ready."
Oh, and he did it for Halloween too. I so want that level of energy plus gadget-tinkering skills!
Courtesy of the silly wackos at Spike TV, I learned about the NitroCream, an ice-cream maker fueled by liquid nitrogen. And damn, it looks cool!
Then there's the tower BBQ grill and smoker. It's pyramid-shaped, and it can be used as a charcoal grill, a wood-burning smoker, or an outdoor fireplace. Sweet!
One relatively inexpensive way I entertain my inner geek (yes, we all know it's not all that inner, but ignore that for now) is using personalized checks. My current favorite is the series showing some of Michael Whelan's stunning dragons from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series.
I also get to add a brief personalized note over the signature line. Currently, I'm using "It's a shpadoinkle day!" from "Cannibal: The Musical" because I just love that reference and it makes me happy to read it or say it. Even happier to sing it! And you can't go wrong with a word that's been canonized in the Buffyverse.
If you use fun checks too, tell us about 'em!
Anime geeks play anime Name That Tune at Otafest 2009. The laid-back turbo-nerd atmosphere and stunning lack of fashion awareness may perhaps be explained by the fact that Otafest is held at the University of Calgary in Canada. The whole thing gives me creepy high-school flashbacks.
Check out this shot from last's night preview night at Comic-Con. (More pics at Cinematical.)
There's a full display of Dr. Grodbort's Infallible Aether Oscillators, a series of limited edition weapon replicas from inspired by Victorian design and steampunk.
These are higher quality than nearly all of my current weapons, and it shows.
Given that they're doing tiny limited-production runs of 500 and the starting price for each one is nearly $700, though, I don't suppose I'll be lucky enough to own any of 'em anytime soon.
I still want 'em. All. Now.
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen recommends that the problems with password masking outweigh the benefits:
Now that he mentions it, it's not a bad idea. I've got my own password system, so the masking isn't a big problem to me. But I probably type faster and know more words and password recommendations than the average computer user, so it's easier for me to type and remember a more complex password.
Current password protection recommendations are so ingrained everywhere that I don't see the masking procedure as changing anytime soon: The masking is just about the simplest visual cue a user could possibly get that a password is supposed to be "secret", as well as being the current default.
And since I've spent over a decade working on projects where the most basic of Nielsen's and other usability recommendations are routinely ignored, I don't see this particular recommendation being adopted more willingly than any of the others. Call me cynical.
Yep, I lost The Game again today. It's sad enough that I'm behind the times, having learned about The Game and lost it just last month. But I lost again today. Sigh.
I totally want this. Now!
From Japanese industrial design maestro Fukasawa Naoto, a quirky angular clamshell phone:
There's more info at https://www.au.kddi.com/english/au_design_project/about/index.html.
I love the big digital numbers. Reminds me of a watch I had, with a 2" by 3" face that displayed giant digital numbers like that. Super-easy to read at any level of sobriety.
Not available in the U.S., of course.
See the Royal Mail web site for Gaiman's mischievous descriptions of the fantasy creatures illustrated by McKean.
A decade or so late, I'm finally getting my own iPod. I've managed to restrain myself to getting only 3 or 4 cases for it, but I'm sure I'll just have to have a few more.
Now I gotta look for an inexpensive service to convert my CDs to digital, and I'll finally be able to stop lugging all those discs around.
Update August 4: As Miss Nina correctly points out, it hasn't actually been a decade. But damn, it sure feels like it!
From BBC News:
A new device that will make internet content available to blind people without the need for computer skills is to be launched in a few months' time.
Get up to speed on proper seating while at the computer. In a related issue, I wholeheartedly advocate getting equipment that fits the human body better than most default computer stuff, like split keyboards instead of those hideous cheap flat rectangles where your hands have to touch each other to type, and squished laptop keyboards too small for a child to use easily. There are tons of options out there, so find something that helps you work most efficiently and with the least pain.