Monday, February 28, 2011

Space Shuttle Launch viewed from an airplane

What a beautiful thing to see, but the camera quality of the video is quite bad. NASA should do flights like this with professional equipment to show the people how awesome space flight is.

Summerhit of 2011?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Epic beard hat

Friday, February 25, 2011

Breast milk ice cream goes on sale in Covent Garden

A restaurant in London's Covent Garden is serving a new range of ice cream, made with breast milk.
The dessert, called Baby Gaga, is churned with donations from London mother Victoria Hiley, and served with a rusk and an optional shot of Calpol or Bonjela.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Schwalbe 2.0

Timber

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hama Massacre

The Hama massacre (Arabicمجزرة حماة‎) occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army bombarded the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood. An estimated 17,000 to 40,000 people were killed, including about 1,000 soldiers,[1] and large parts of the old city were destroyed. The attack has been described as possibly being "the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East".[2]

Don't drink and drive

Friday, February 18, 2011

ASM-135 ASAT

The ASM-135 ASAT is an air-launched anti-satellite multi stage missile from the cold war era. It is launched from a F-15A fighter jet making a supersonic zoom climb at an angle of 65 degree.

It used infrared sensors to home in on the target satellite. However, it did not know its own position and attitude with respect to the satellite and basically just kept its head in the direction of the target.

It was test-launched from a F-15 at an altitude of 12 km on 13 September 1985 and successfully destroyed the Solwind P78-1 satellite flying at an altitude of 555 km by hitting it with a relative speed of 6.6 km/s (24,000 km/h).

Quite amazing that it was able to hit the satellite.

Dig a small trench, release a river, surf on a standing wave

Surfwave.com
Today we went to Waimea beach and got to watch something cool. The beach sits at the base of a valley which has a small stream running through it. Due to wave action, sand gets pushed up into a large hill in front of the stream each winter. This creates a natural dam that the stream water collects behind for months which is about 20 feet above the level of the ocean on the other side of the sand berm. Every year some one digs a trench through the sand releasing millions of gallons of fresh water into the ocean. This produces a standing wave which is perfect for body boarding and surfing on. When we first walked up these kids had just a trickle of water moving through a trench about a foot wide they had been digging for quite a while. Within 20 minutes it had turned into a roaring torrent. It was amazing to watch how fast it grew and ate away the banks. It all lasted about an hour before the water slowed down but it was fun watching the action.
More videos...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

TED: Geert Chatrou: World champion whistler

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The story of Minecraft

Bear with me, this is a long story for our blog, but it has been an development I've found quite interesting and have been playing myself.

This is what you are greeted with on the frontpage of Minecraft.net:

Minecraft is a game about placing blocks to build anything you can imagine. At night monsters come out, make sure to build a shelter before that happens. It also has music by C418! So far 4270804 people have registered and 1300092 people bought the game. More stats here.
You are dropped in the world and have to figure out what to do, there is NO in-game tutorial.

However the Minecraft community is large and productive and there are many tutorial videos (Funniest tutorial video around). There is also the Minecraft Wiki and many forums that that go into detail of the many things one can do in Minecraft.

As of now 1,300,124 people have bought the game for a price between €10 for the alpha version and €15 for the later beta version. Up to the beta the whole project was mostly created by one man, aka Notch, and the sounds were done by C418. So what transpired to make Minecraft such a huge success? The seed that planted Notch's vision of Minecraft was a game called Infiminer (free download).

MineWiki: Infiniminer is the game Minecraft was originally based upon. It was developed by Zachtronics Industries, and released in steps of incremental updates during April-May 2009. It quickly garnered a following on message boards around the internet, and eventually inspired Notch to start working on Minecraft. Like Minecraft, Infiniminer is a block-based digging/building game. It was originally intended to be played as a team-based competitive game, where the goal is to locate and excavate precious metals, and bring your findings to the surface to earn points for your team. However, as the game gained popularity, players decided it was much more fun to build things than to compete for points. Zachtronics discontinued development of the game less than a month after its first release. The source code was made public, spawning a handful of mods and spin-offs, but the game eventually faded into obscurity as the more polished Minecraft was announced.
From the words of Notch:
I found Infiniminer. My god, I realized that that was the game I wanted to do. I played it in multiplayer for a while and had a blast, but found it flawed. Building was fun, but there wasn’t enough variation, and the big red/blue blocks were pretty horrible. I thought a fantasy game in that style would work really really well, so I tried to implement a simple first person engine in that style, reusing some art and code (although not as much as you’d think) from RubyDung, and came up with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9t3FREAZ-k
After a lot of coding, Notch produced Minecraft Classic on the 17th of May, 2009. This mode is still free to play so you can get a feel of the game, though feature and game wise it's far behind the paid version.

It is in the old (free) creative server hosted by Reddit that I first encountered the world of Minecraft. It was a Reddit only multiplayer server where people could just build stuff by plomping different blocks down. This is where I made my first big structure (The Dom Tower).

Notch continued to work furiously on the game and after a few intermediate updates (Survival Test, Indev,Infdev) he released Minecraft Alpha on the 28th of June 2010, only slightly more than a year after he started. Compared to classic, Alpha was filled with all manners of new content and possibilities. Most importantly a survival aspect was added to the game. Monsters come out at night and are found in caves, take shelter or take up arms against them. By using the different materials you mine you can craft all manner of objects like swords, arrows, armor, farming, food, boats, railcarts and tracks, also logic circuits which are almost exclusively used by the very tech geeky (NOFI) userbase of Minecraft.. Alpha also included different biomes like snowy, grassy, and desert (see the almost infinitely large landscapes here), also an Underworld called the Nether was created, accessible by portals.

It's is very rare for an Alpha version of a game to ask for money (€10), but this was also an investment, because anyone who bought it in Alpha is guaranteed to also get the beta version (€15), and the final release (€20) and any additions that might come later.

Many people who had played the classic version were quite willing to invest the money to get the Alpha version. Almost all of the sales of Minecraft have been driven by word of mouth advertisements, and Minecraft related posts ending up on many (game)blogs. Obsessed Minecrafters have been producing amazing structures (example 1, 2, 3, 4 ,5) which often get reposted on social media sites. Minecraft sales really started to explode when fanbases were created on sites such as Reddit/r/Minecraft/, forums, and popular gaming press sites.

At one point the influx of new users was so high that the account verification servers crashed. In a gesture of goodwill Notch then gave away free Minecraft to anyone for one weekend. This seemed to be a good idea because it resulted in even more people buying it after the weekend was over.

A lot of money came in, so much that Paypal froze $763,000 on Notch's account because they were suspicious of the sudden large influx of money. The issue was sorted quickly though. Notch then decided it was necessary to start a company, Mojang, to deal with the business and programming sides of such a successful game. The work that went into this distracted Notch a lot from his coding work, so progress was slow during this time, and entitled little shitfaces started whining on many forums about why he wasn't releasing weekly updates.

On December 20, 2010 Mojang felt confident enough to release Minecraft Beta, this upped the price to €15. The Beta fixed a few multiplayer issues and also included some elements the community had been asking for. The addition of note blocks allowed some obsessed people to create whole songs in Minecraft. The inclusion of dyes allowed people to shear sheep, color the wool and create all kinds of colorful buildings.

Of course you could also just use the dyes to make colored sheep.

No one knows when Minecraft Final will be released only that it will cost €20 at release. Everyone is curious about the things that might still be included before the final version. However the future of Minecraft isn't solely in the hands of Notch and Mojang.

Because of the relative ease at which the Java code Minecraft was built in could be altered, the modding community really took off. There are many mods now that truly increase the beauty and possibilities of Minecraft. There are tons of different texture packs that make the game look strikingly different and prettier in some cases. Modders have added tons of new creatures to the world, new items, new craftable equipment and even flying mounts. People have also been improving the graphics and lighting engine.

Besides the isolated single player survivor mode, you can also play multiplayer worlds. Whereas in Creative you just build (or troll other people), in Survival you can craft and battle each other and monsters. Creative multiplayer maps have yielded some extraordinarily grand designs as can be seen here on a Google Maps like viewer of the old Reddit server.

This has been a brief summary, it can go much deeper. After reading this, many people will still be confused about why Minecraft is fun and what the point of it is? There is no end boss to fight after all (until someone makes a mod for it). You could see it as a giant immersive LEGO playground where you mine the land and use your creativity to build nice things which also protect you from monsters that come out at night. The only way to find out if it appeals to you is to watch some of the videos on youtube, I recommend some of the Yogscast videos, these guys can be hilarious too. You could also play a bit on the free creative servers, or just take the jump and buy the beta version for €15.

Since I started on this post 750 people have bought this game.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

h

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Colbert slams Bill O'Reilly

O'Reilly is an incredible idiot and douchebag.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

ykombinator

Monday, February 07, 2011

Backwards?

These guys made a full show for the BBC which is also worth watching if you don't mind silent comedy.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Liquid Kiss

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Spot the sniper

Spread the spirit of the rainbowboys

Friday, February 04, 2011

Improvised Egyption riot head gear

When the rocks start flying you have to be creative

Thursday, February 03, 2011

I want some of this shit!

Doesn't seem like effective anti-drug propaganda.

Tijdswinst

Een van de doelstellingen van dit kabinet is het verhogen van de maximumsnelheid op snelwegen naar 130 km/u. Onlangs maakte de Minister van V&W bekend op welke trajecten er begonnen zou worden met deze symboolpolitiek. Hieronder een overzicht van de trajecten en de tijdswinst die de verhoging van 120 naar 130 oplevert:

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Epic News day


I've been glued to various live streams covering the riots in Egypt all day. The whole day the front lines between the anti-Mubarak protesters and the pro-Mubarak supporters have moved up and down the main street. The thugs supporting Mubarak seem to have started the violence, at one point charging into the crowds with horses and camels, later they started throwing molotov cokctails, they also drove a bus into the crowds. At night the anti-Mubarak protesters fought back hard moving up, shielded with steel barriers, in a phalanx formation.
But much more was going on today. The NASA Kepler time announced the biggest find of exoplanets yet:
"We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone - a region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Some candidates could even have moons with liquid water," said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and the Kepler Mission’s science principal investigator. "Five of the planetary candidates are both near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars."
Planet candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets. "We have found over twelve hundred candidate planets - that’s more than all the people have found so far in history," said Borucki. "Now, these are candidates, but most of them, I’m convinced, will be confirmed as planets in the coming months and years."
Among the stars with planetary candidates, 170 show evidence of multiple planetary candidates, including one, Kepler-11, that scientists have been able to confirm that has no fewer than six planets.
Also a colossal winter storm in America covering two thirds of the country. It consists of snowstorms, blizzards, ice storms, and thundersnow.
More extreme weather as Cyclone Yasi becomes one of the biggest cyclones to ever hit Australia.

Finally the volcano Shinmoedake has been erupting in Japan, resulting in a massive explosion and pretty night lightning.

More pictures of the volcano and lightning.
Hard to keep up with, but a good excuse not to be working on my thesis.

Google Art Project

Explore museums from around the world, discover and view hundreds of artworks at incredible zoom levels.

You can walk through various famous museums via the project site, Google Maps, and Google Earth (via street view). It's too bad that the museums themselves are in relatively low resolution, however the available paintings are very clear when you click on them. Some of the artworks like the Nachtwacht are even visible at up to 7 gigapixel resolutions.

I made a video walking through the Rijksmuseum for those too lazy or unable to explore it themselves:

Explore it yourself here.

Also read the official Google Blog entry.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Cairo Crowd Estimates

Let me first say that the real events in Egypt are much more interesting and important than this post and I support everyone on the streets there, but my thingy for numbers made me investigate the crowd estimates a bit more.

Al Jazeera is reporting up to 2 million people have gathered in Cairo's Tahrir square, some reporters even get extremely excited and say at least 2 million people have gathered. 2 million people is 40x the Lowlands festival!

This image shows one of the edges of the crowd, to get an idea of where the crowd ends,

Here is a visual overview of crowd densities. A density of 1-5 per square meter is possible, although 5 is extremely dense. Let's take 4 per square meter, which is already very high,


Now lets look at an area of 100,000 square meter in Cairo,
About 400,000 people could stand on this area, although 200,000-300,000 is probably more realistic if there are no naked women handed out for free in the centre. Also keep in mind that the full Washington Mall is 15x larger, 1.5 million square meter.

Even if we take the high estimate of 4 people per square meter, an area 5 times larger than the one shown above is required for 2 million people.

Too bad there are no good overview images (RC helicopters, where are you?!) so I can't make any serious estimate, but I would be surprised if "even" 1 million people are in and around the square. My guesstimate would be 100,000-400,000.

Still a lot of people, especially for Egypt, and I hope enough.