Inklings in June 2010

Squarepusher: Delta-V

You just can’t keep Tom Jenkinson down!

Lego printer: Hello World

This is EPIC!

TodayFM ShoutCast server

Newstalk ShoutCast server

YouTube - ELECTRONIC WUSS: Owl City Parody - Key Of Awesome #20


Robot Unicorn Attack from Adult Swim

This is just awesomely camp and cheesy!

John Underkoffler points to the future of UI

Stephen Fry: What I Wish I'd Known When I Was 18

Bloody Sunday report states those killed were innocent

It took almost forty years, but the British government have finally apologised for Bloody Sunday. It’s like we’ve stepped into a parallel universe!

Rymdreglage - 8-bit trip

1500 hours of moving legobricks and take photos of them. Rymdreglages 3rd music video


E3 2010: first gameplay video of Valve's Portal 2 - Boing Boing

Portal 2 is shaping up to look as if it’ll be fantastic!

Dr Dobbs - Ternary Search Trees

I remember seeing this in an older copy of DDJ in the library back when I was in college. Win!

Fault Line

Platform puzzler written with Flash that involves folding the world, which is a very clever game mechanic. I’d get this if it were available for my N900.

Erik Naggum's XML rant

Vuvuzela in DOOM

Sonic boomstick! :-D

YouTube - Apr├Ęs Match: Being a pundit is a tough job but someone's gotta do it

A brilliant pisstake of Eamon Dunphy’s BetFair ad.

the all-thing: How to rank products based on user input

Let’s say you have a lot of things. Let’s say your users can vote on how much they like those things. And let’s say that you want rank those things, so that you can list them by how good they are. How should you do it?

Deals with the non-obvious subtleties of doing just this.

Fixing "failed to initialize HAL" errors under Ubuntu 8.04 on the Dell Mini 12

For a while now, when I’ve started my Mini 12 when it’s been running off the battery, HAL would crap out with for no good reason. I’m not even sure when this started happening, but it became very annoying. After a bit of research, I discovered that running this should do the trick:

$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure hal

It didn’t, however. A bit more research lead me to trying this:

$ sudo rm -f /var/cache/hald/fdi-cache
$ sudo dpkg-reconfigure hal

It appeared to do the trick. I think what might have happened was some upgrade of HAL in the past must have forgotten to rebuild the device information cache, so it was using stale information. If this happens again, I’ll know what to do!

The skip drive: an FTL transport mechanism for a soft sci-fi story or novel

On the way into work this morning, I was thinking of what a relatively plausible method of FTL transport would be for a relatively soft piece of science fiction. I’m not really planning on using this in anything as I’ve no plans to write a story featuring it any time soon, but it seems to me to be something somebody out there might entertaining.

The drive is called a skip drive or bunny hopper. The idea behind the drive is that in the universe it’s used in, folding space is beyond the capabilities of current tech, but it is possible to take advantage of pre-existing folds in space to instantaneously move between two points in space.

It does this by altering its phase (I’m not sure of the correct terminology as yet) in such a way as it can pass through the fold. Thus, the topology of settlement differs, quite drastically in some cases, from the obvious topology of the universe. After a number of skips, the drive must enter a heat dissipation cycle to avoid the craft cooking everybody inside, or worse still, collapsing into a singularity.

One important thing to keep in mind about all this is that the amount of power needed to travel from one point to another isn’t tied to how far it is or how quickly you’re travelling, but to how accurately you can get to your destination. Thus, if you wanted to be sure you managed to skip close a gas giant in a particular system, you’d have to expend much more power than if you were just trying to do an emergency skip get out of a tight spot and didn’t care too much where you ended up. It would be very easy to end up lost.

An equally important implication is that the folds may have something akin to eddies due to the gravitation effect of objects in space, and gravitational singularities even more so.

Now, there’s not much science behind any of this. In fact, I’d say any physicist would laugh at much of this. However, but it seem to me that such a technology would have interesting plot implications for a story it’d be used in.

Intel GMA500 "Poulsbo" video hardware in various Ubuntu releases

I’m considering upgrading my Dell Mini 12 to Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04, because the Dell-fuxored version that came preinstalled is a bit crusty. I did a test with a thumb drive and except for the Dell/Broadcom proprietary wireless drivers that needed to be installed through the restricted drivers tool, the only obvious problem was that the screen wasn’t at full resolution, and ran like a dog without graphics hardware acceleration. I’d be happy with decent 2D acceleration for now, which appears to be available. I’m tempted to install the 9.10 (Karmic) based version though, for safety.