1. Electronics projects to make you sit up and take notice.

    04 November 2009

    During my daily morning mainline injection of news on the Net this week, a couple of electronics projects caught my eye that I hadn't seen before. The first is a project from SparkFun Electronics that uses higher voltage than I'm used to working with - a Geiger counter kit with a USB interface. The kit is constructed around the popular ATmega 168 microcontroller, which means that the basic Arduino development kit can be used to write code that pulls samples from the Geiger-Muller tube (powered by a tiny high voltage power supply) and outputs numerical values over USB, where the 'counter …

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  2. Another Samhain, more or less.

    01 November 2009

    Let's try this again, without the "Oops, I just lost everything you wrote."

    Another Samhain has come and gone, which means that we have yet another chance to make things turn out for the best. Lyssa is still recovering from surgery a couple of weeks ago. Her cast was swapped out for a one-piece fitted fibreglass cast which means that her achilles tendon is healing up nicely. Neither of us had realized just how much energy repairing soft tissue damage takes out of you; Lyssa's able to move around in short bursts only so she's been spending most of her …

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  3. Eclipse Phase: Bitenic squid

    24 October 2009

    One of the possible characters can be played in the RPG Eclipse Phase is an uplifted octopus; of course, when you bring tentacles into the equation I go off in weird (and safe for work) directions. In the shared universe Orion's Arm there is an uplifted species called the bitenic squid, originally written by the gifted and talented Anders Sandberg.

    This text is released under the terms of the Creative Commons, Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-Alike license, as specified here.

    Morph: Bitenic Squid
    Implants: Basic Biomods, Basic Mesh Inserts, Bioweave Armor (light), Cortical Stack, Chameleon Skin, Claws, Grip Pads, Skin Pocket, Vacuum …

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  4. Everybody :-) - Big Brother's watching (your blog)!

    22 October 2009

    An outfit called In-Q-Tel in Arlington, Virginia, founded in 1999, is known to be a semi-independent but private aspect of the US intelligence community which invests in tech companies that do things deemed strategically useful. Practically all of those things are on the cutting edge of commercial technology for the time. They say as much on their website, in case you're wondering if I've been listening to a little too much Coast to Coast AM lately. Their latest investment project is a most interesting one, a company called Visible Technologies which develop software to monitor social activities on the global …

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  5. Have insurance companies sunk to new lows?

    22 October 2009

    As you may or may not be aware, insurance companies have some pretty manichean arbitrary criteria to decide whether or not a particular procedure, treatment, or medication are covered, or to what extent. To give you an idea of how they operate, I discovered the hard way a few months ago that my insurance company (no names or they'll probably turn around and drop Lyssa and I like a bad habit, knowing those fuckers) informed me that a particular treatment "should not" cost $190us, but "should," in fact, only cost $71us. They then informed me that they would pay only …

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  6. A fob watch for the twenty-first century.

    18 October 2009

    A man named Howard Pounds was considered by some in Australia to be a master horologist, or watchmaker. Possessing a surgeon's touch and the patience of the mountains he was one of the rare few knowledgeable enough to repair ladies' watch movements. His talent with clockwork mechanisms was so sought after that he was not permitted to fight in World War II because the Toowoomba Foundry required his abilities far more. Sadly, this master of the most arcane of mechanical arts went beyond in the year 2005. Four years after his passing, Howard's grandson Paul constructed a fitting tribute: a …

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  7. Kaoru Miki would be pleased.

    18 October 2009

    I know this is kind of late in coming, but real life came first.

    The science of botany has, over the years, produced many families of roses: red, white, yellow, orange, pink, and a host of shades and combinations thereof. Only two kinds have yet to be grown in any fashion: blue and black. Which is kind of fitting when you think about it, but I digress.

    The number of roses which have not yet been grown has fallen by one. The Suntory company of Japan has done what used to be considered impossible: they've grown blue roses. In nature …

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