Weekly Links 20081214

Misc

Everyone suffers from Someday Syndrome at some point in their lives, often catching it repeatedly. For me, most recently, I’d been saying that I really should give running a try without doing anything about it.

Did you ever want to build your own 22″ binoculars?

One of the best TV shows ever is available on DVD.  I wish I knew about this earlier!  There’s still time before Christmas… anybody?  Anybody?

Writing

“To write fully believable, near future science fiction today, you almost need to be voracious antisocial polymath, deeply conversant in half a dozen technical fields, as well as familiar with ongoing social, economic, and environmental change.”

Blog

The first thing you’ll notice about (WordPress) 2.7 is its new interface. From the top down, we’ve listened to your feedback and thought deeply about the design and the result is a WordPress that’s just plain faster. Nearly every task you do on your blog will take fewer clicks and be faster in 2.7 than it did in a previous version.  It’s time for me to do an upgrade.

Computers

Modern PCs can execute billions of instructions per second, but today’s web applications can access only a small fraction of this computational power. If web developers could use all of this power, just imagine the rich, dynamic experiences they could create. At Google we’re always trying to make the web a better platform. That’s why we’re working on Native Client, a technology that aims to give web developers access to the full power of the client’s CPU while maintaining the browser neutrality, OS portability and safety that people expect from web applications. Today, we’re sharing our technology with the research and security communities in the hopes that they will help us make this technology more useful and more secure.

Anybody for a quick trip down memory lane?

Weekly Links 20081207

Computers

Although the Linux file system is one of the most important pieces of an operating system, we generally put little thought into them these days.  Put bits in, pull bits out.  It usually works well enough for desktop systems – until the power fails – but even that is usually pretty painless these days.

Writing

Tor has an article on swearing in Genre fiction.

JA Konrath has an article on a writers discipline. Not an easy task for writers. There are so many failures for so few successes, and not many ways to truly measure the impact of your efforts. This means that success or failure is largely arbitrary, based on your personal goals, And those goals can change. This can result in lesser efforts, which almost always yield lesser results.

Misc

Robbie Cooper’s film stills capture children’s faces as they play violent videogames and form the basis of an art project that could also help us understand the effects of spending time in a virtual world. Sam Leith reports.

no matter what industry you’re in, your duty as a manager is to motivate your employees and provide them with the tools they need to get the job done. Here are five timeless management laws that have stood the test of time.

Weekly Links 20081130

Science (Fiction)

Gizomodo has an article on the size of the Space Station: We are so used to the International Space Station that we don’t give its massive scale a second thought. I, for one, took it for granted until a newly-released NASA photograph reminded me that this thing is huge.

Speaking of the International Space Station, apparently they now have equipment in place to convert urine into drinking water.  Here’s a video showing the developmental testing of the product.

Misc

You know how some people just seem to have too much time on their hands?

These are some of the coolest t-shirts I’ve seen in awhile.

Already a lot of fun to drive and environmentally efficient, the popular MINI Cooper will soon gain even more favor with environmentally conscious drivers as the electric-powered MINI E debuted at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show.

There’s been this thing called ‘Rick Rolling‘, where Rick Astley’s song “Never Gonna Give you Up” is overlayed on exiting videos and stuff like that.  Well, looks like Rick Astley did his own Rick Rolling, and I found it absolutely hilarious.

Writing

Writing fiction, whether short or long, can be a very trying experience indeed.  So many writers of fiction have different processes for achieving their writing goals that it’s hard to sift through what works and what doesn’t.

In 1980, science fiction writer and editor Ben Bova told a group of women writers, “Neither as writers nor as readers have you raised the level of science fiction a notch. Women have written a lot of books about dragons and unicorns, but damned few about future worlds in which adult problems are addressed.” It’s no wonder that female science fiction authors have disguised their gender in order to have their work taken seriously. We have a list of women who used male and androgynous pseudonyms to compete in the male-dominated field of speculative fiction.

I’m going to go out of sequence here, and post a link outside of my regular weekly ones.

Economically, we’re in a bad place.  Our friends to the south are being hit harder than we are.  It started with the mortgage crisis (honestly, sub-prime loans for quarter million dollar houses to waitresses?), and has rippled out from there.  It affected almost every sector, and spread rapidly across the U.S borders into other countries.

A nice guy I met via BackSpace, and in person when I went down south, E.J. Knapp has blogged about it in Don’t Let the Meltdown Melt You Down.  It’s a good read.

Weekly Links 20081123

Writing

James Van Pelt talks about whether you should write for the market or not.  I agree with him.

Time was, bad writers wrote bad query letters. Like the Washington Generals of exhibition basketball, these writers hammed up—telegraphed, shall we say—their lack of talent and know-how. They typed their queries on law office stationery; they cold-called your office, asking for the “submissions director” (later referring to this phone call in the letter, as if it had been for both parties a singularly memorable event); they mailed their queries to outdated addresses culled from the 1997 edition of Writers Marketplace; they sent head shots; their return address was a prison; they wrote longhand in red crayon on college-ruled paper. Bad had a look; bad was obvious.

To be an amateur in the original sense of the word simply means to do something for love, though our culture has added the rider, “not for pay.” An amateur writer, then, is generally taken to mean one who’s not paid for her efforts.

In the beginning of every story, the writer makes a promise to the reader. The writer must deliver on that promise by the end of the story. It’s what the reader expects–and it’s what the reader deserves.

Technology

This is from Tor.com, who got it from Engadget.  Really cool Minority Report type interfaces.

NASA has successfully tested the first deep space communications network modeled on the Internet. Working as part of a NASA-wide team, engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used software called Disruption-Tolerant Networking, or DTN, to transmit dozens of space images to and from a NASA science spacecraft located about 20 million miles from Earth.

Misc

One of my favourite authors is hosting a 17-part half-hour documentary series for Canada’s Vision TV entitled Supernatural Investigator. It premieres Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and runs every week until Tuesday, May 19, 2009.

Computers

I remember when entire computer companies were started in a guys garage, by two people.  Now the world is thrilled that a lone developer can create a nifty game.

I wrote a nifty entertainment system for my vehicle… multiple displays so the kids could watch a show while I listened to music.  All the kinda stuff.  I switched to Windows so I could get a working GPS.  Figures.  Here’s an article about ‘pimping’ you car with Linux.

Communicating your clients is a necessary evil of contract web development, design, programming, writing, or any other freelance art form. Some clients are great — they communicate what they need very clearly from the get-go and things go smoothly from spec through to delivery. Others, though, will make you want to pull out your hair in frustration. This round up of ten must have web-based tools below will help you communicate with either type of client, and generally make things easier on you and help you keep your sanity.

Science

I know my brain seem to be alot slower now than when I was young.  Here’s how to keep your brain young!

Weekly Links 20081116

I’m a little light on links this week, but I hope you enjoy the ones I have.

Misc

The truth can be a bit strange sometimes.

I use WordPress to run this site.  There are lots of pages out there with ‘x’ of the best WordPress themes.  There were a few on this page that I liked, so this is more of a bookmark for me.

I like eating meat, and when I see stuff like this, it make me laugh.

If you own a BBQ that you don’t use too often, you may want to see what happened to this guy.

The world used to be (okay, it still is) a strange place.

Science

The Kuiper belt is strange. Most of this strangeness probably comes from the fact that we are only just beginning to uncover this mysterious region of the Solar System.

Weekly Links 20081109

Science

Short for Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket, VASIMR is a new high-power plasma-based space propulsion technology, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. A VASIMR engine could maneuver payloads in space far more efficiently and with much less propellant than today’s chemical rockets.

Future astronauts could benefit from a magnetic “umbrella” that deflects harmful space radiation around their crew capsule, scientists say.

Writing

A rant on the publishing industry by M.J. Rose.

Our lives are full of ‘thingummys’, ‘thingamajigs’ and ‘whatjermecallits’ – those everyday items we should know the word for, or were once told but have since forgotten. Now, a collection of them has been compiled for a fascinating new book…

Amazing stories need great characters. And when you’re writing a story set in a futuristic or fantastical world, it’s more important than ever for readers to be able to relate to your characters. It’s also harder than ever, because your characters’ lives and experiences will be totally different than your readers’. How do you make people identify with someone who lives in the future, or on another planet? How can your main character stand out, against a bizarre and colorful backdrop? We asked six great science fiction authors for their advice.

Computers

Some of the best things in life are free. When it comes to icons and icon sets, there are many talented designers and artists that choose to provide beautiful and useful icon sets for commercial and/or personal usage.

There are lots of scripting languages for Unix/Linux and Windows, but this one just kinda blew me away, and brought back some memories.

Weekly Links 20081102

Science

A nearby solar system bears a striking similarity to our own solar system, raising the possibility it could harbor Earth-like planets.  Epsilon Eridani, located about 10.5 light-years from our sun, is surrounded by two asteroid belts that are shaped by planets, astronomers at SETI Institute and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced today.

Here’s another article on it.

During the time it takes you to read this article, something will happen high overhead that until recently many scientists didn’t believe in. A magnetic portal will open, linking Earth to the sun 93 million miles away.

Computers

For better or worse, Linux has always had a reputation as being the geeks’ OS – endlessly flexible if you’re on one side of the divide, endlessly complicated on the other.  With netbooks, this isn’t the case.

Misc

An awesome photo. http://i36.tinypic.com/2ceitr8.jpg

Weekly Links 20081026

Writing

Seriously, I didn’t even know these books were still being written:
“What man, in his deepest heart,” asks John Norman, “does not want to own a female, to have her for his own, utterly, as a devoted, passionate, vulnerable, mastered slave, and what woman, in her deepest heart, does not want to be so intensely desired, so unqualifiedly and fiercely desired, that nothing less than her absolute ownership will satisfy a male, her master?”

Apparently, Science Fiction hates itself.  Here we find out why.

Science

An organism that was discovered in a South African gold mine, nearly 3km beneath the Earth’s surface, has scientists “buzzing with excitement” because it offers fascinating evidence that life could exist on other planets, say reports.

Misc

Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones present a solution to the global economic crisis.

I’m a meat eater.  Being a vegetarian just isn’t something I could do.  When I saw this, I just had to laugh.

The British team that claimed the land speed record in 1997, taking a car through the sound barrier for the first time, is planning to go even faster.  The video is quite well done.

Botanicalls opens a new channel of communication between plants and humans, in an effort to promote successful inter-species understanding.  This product uses an open source hardware design, which is cool.

Computers

The differences between a Mac and a WIndows PC can sometimes be quite striking.  This picture sums up a couple of differences.

Weekly Links 20081019

Miscellaneous

The US National Debt ‘clock’ had to be revamped recently.  The device wasn’t built to handle the numbers it’s currently showing.

Some people just have way too much time on their hands.  This guy modified his computer case to make it look like Battlestar Galactica

And what can I say about this one.  It’s a comic, and it just tickled me the right way… I laughed.

Software

OpenOffice released version 3.0 of their free Office suite.  It’s looking pretty good.

Writing

Paul Citlik has 8 things you need to remember when writing science fiction.

Fox 2000 has acquired rights to Joe Haldeman’s 1974 novel “The Forever War,” and Ridley Scott is planning to make it into his first science fiction film since he delivered back-to-back classics with “Blade Runner” and “Alien.”

John Joseph Adams lists 21 blogs writers should be reading.