Cool stuff

It’s not Friday, but if I’m going to write a coolstuff blog post for the end of the week, I may as well write one for the end of the year ๐Ÿ™‚

The Nixie Tube Story: The Neon Display Tech That Engineers Canโ€™tย Quit [text, images, video] – a colleague of mine brought a Nixie tube clock in the office, so I looked into it, because it DOES look cool.

Chernobyl Dice – A quantum random number generator with a Cold War aesthetic [text, images] – going further in previous rabbit hole, a very cool “advanced DYI” project that generates random numbers from a weakly radioactive source and displays them on said Nixie tubes ๐Ÿ™‚

darktable 3.0.0 [text] has been released last week. I’ve been using it for all my photography processing for the past few years, and I’m thoroughly impressed by what it can do and by the people behind it.

The Motions of Kayaking and Canoeing Recorded through Light Painting on Canadian Waterways [images] – what happens when you stick leds to kayak paddle? You get pretty pictures, that’s what happens.

We Learned to Write the Way We Talk [text] – I thoroughly enjoyed Gretchen McCulloch’s Because Internet this year, where she looks at Internet communication from a linguistics perspective – this article is a nice taste of what’s in the book, and an interesting view on writing styles.

Copperplate Study Session [text, images] – I’ve been playing with Copperplate calligraphy a bit last year, and it’s in my objectives for next year to master that, and I think this series of Reddit posts on the topic may just be what I was looking for ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ve recently learnt about figurate numbers [text, images] by way of learning about heptagonal numbers [text, images] (via some middle school math homework), and I spent enough time on Wikipedia to warrant their entry in coolstuff ๐Ÿ™‚

Quanta Magazine has run a few articles about what happened this year: The Year in Math and Computer Science [text], The Year in Biology [text] and The Year in Physics [text]. I had seen almost everything in the “math” article, so it was a nice trip down “memory lane” on things I thought were cool at the time (and a few that I had missed); the “biology” and “physics” ones were nice entry points to stuff I had mostly missed.

Woman Pushes The Limits And Creates Unbelievable Sculptures Out Of Gingerbread [text]- if the gingerbread xenomorph is not called Gigerbread, this would be a good reason to flip tables.

Swiss Police and Star Wars Christmasspot [short video] – I did giggle a lot at this video from Bern Kantonpolizei. It has stormtroopers.

My problem with metric recipes [short video] – the title of the video let me fear the most trollful content, but that would be selling Adam Ragusea short – it’s actually quite insightful, and he’s making great points about recipe translation.

Cool stuff

A tiny pre-holidays coolstuff? Let’s.

Micro chess / DIY [video, mid-length] – a video of someone making a tiny chess set. It’s super impressive, adorable (because TINY) and generally exquisite.

Markus Reugels on 500px [images] – someone doing (among others) very cool pictures of drops and splashes.

Itโ€™s Way Too Easy to Get a .gov Domain Name [text] – there IS a quote in there that says โ€œI never said it was legal, just that it was easyโ€, but I still found it an interesting read ๐Ÿ™‚

TasteAtlas [maps]- maps are good, food is good, LET’S MIX BOTH. With subcategories, such as World Cheese Map or World Dessert Map.

The difference between a snafu, a shitshow, and a clusterfuck [text]- it’s all in the title, and I found that piece pretty entertaining, and surprisingly informative ๐Ÿ˜›

Fraktur and the psychology of type [text] – an article about the fraktur typeface and its association, in particular in Germany, with the Nazis – and the impact of that association in today’s print and calligraphy practice.

Making chocolate colourful – apparently there’s a way to make chocolate shimmer with structural properties. That’s pretty cool ๐Ÿ˜€

Happy holidays, everyone!

Cool stuff

Hereโ€™s a question you should ask about every climate change plan [text] – an article about the carbon dioxide emissions of the production of steel, concrete and other building material. I learnt stuff ๐Ÿ™‚

How Cameras and Light LIE About Food [medium-length video] – a neat video about the impact of light temperature on food aspect (and the impact on food photography).

Scottโ€™s Supreme Quantum Supremacy FAQ! – Aaronson is my primary source of information when it comes to quantum computing – and this might be the first time I see him carefully optimistic (with a lot of “hypothetically” :P) about something that went into the general press, so there’s that.

23rd September 2019: Making the Mandelbrot prettier – Alun is back to his Mandelbrot generator, which means I’m probably going to go back to mine Soonโ„ข (but right now my pet project is a Kotlin ray tracer)

Makes a mandelbrot test pattern video – relatedly, I just learnt that there’s a way to generate a Mandelbrot zoom video from FFMPEG.

How to Send a File – Randall Munroe (the guy from XKCD) is publishing a new book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems. How to Send a File is a sample chapter, and it made me giggle more than once.

How to Boil the Perfect Egg – SCIENCE! involving peeling and double-blind testing 700 eggs.

Microsoft Flight Simulator – E3 2019 – Announce Trailer – Microsoft is releasing a new Flight Simulator. I’ve never played it much, and I probably won’t play this one because of time, patience, and platform. But it’s SO PRETTY.

Le Creuset x Star Wars – now THAT’S a mashup I was NOT expecting. That’s also a mashup I didn’t know I NEEDED until now. Dammit.

Cool stuff

This epic recreation of Deep Space Nine is so huge, I can practically fit inside! [text with images]- what it says: a huge LEGO Star Trek DS9 model ๐Ÿ™‚

Swearing: attempts to ban it are a waste of time โ€“ wherever there is language, people cuss [text] – an article about swearing that touches its function, and a few factoids. As an unrepentant swearer, I cannot not share this ๐Ÿ™‚

Version Museum – a visual history of your favorite technology [images]- if you really wanted to see how Apple’s website looked in 1996 or want a hit of nostalgia at the look of Word 2.0. It’s actually pretty neat ๐Ÿ™‚

Raytracing – in Excel!! [short video] – someone made a raytracer in Excel, and that just made me laugh in delight ๐Ÿ˜€

New Proof Settles How to Approximate Numbers Like Pi [text] – a cool result in number theory, explained in a way that makes sense to non-number theorists. I probably would have liked a tiny bit more detail about the graph theory tools involved, but still, the writing is neat.

A very wholesome Twitter thread about someone talking about his grandmother’s love of D&D – it has gnomes and jewelry.

A couple of videos about a custom pick-up on a Tesla base: the “fake commercial” video TRUCKLA: The world’s first Tesla pickup truck [short video], and the “making of”: I TURNED MY TESLA INTO A PICKUP TRUCK [long video]. I thought I had posted that already, apparently not, let’s fix it.

Kerbal Space Program 2 has been announced – to be honest, KSP is one of “those games that sound so very cool but that I just can’t manage to play”, whether it’s a matter of interest or of general skill or learning curve; I’m definitely curious about what they’ll do with KSP2.

A Mathematical Model Unlocks the Secrets of Vision – vision is complicated and not that well understood, and so anything that gives more idea about how it works is, to me, fascinating ๐Ÿ™‚

Cool stuff

Short one this week, and late on top of that, but oh well ๐Ÿ™‚

This problem seems hard, then it doesn’t, but it really is. (2011 IMO, P2) – a video solving a problem from the International Math Olympiads that stuck a lot of the students. The problem is pretty fun and the solution is very pretty ๐Ÿ™‚

Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 Takes The Intense Restaurant Sim On The Road – Cook, Serve, Delicious 3 has just been announced and I’m ready for it. I’ve played the first one A Lot, the second one a lot (that’s a bit less than A Lot :P), and I’m looking forward to the third one ๐Ÿ™‚

The Best Way to Thaw Meat – my husband showed me a few of Adam Ragusea’s videos, and they’re indeed very enjoyable and informative. As for this specific one, since my microwave oven decided to die on me probably for good this time (and I’m waiting for its replacement to be delivered), I actually tested what he’s saying, and it indeed works pretty well. Not as fast, but less risky too… so definitely something to keep in mind if I’m not in a hurry ๐Ÿ™‚

iamthemorning – The Bell – iamthemorning has a new album ๐Ÿ™‚ And since I’m even more useless a music critic than a book critic, I’ll just say I like it a lot.

Alternative non-spherical Earth theories – I will admit I have personal (and non-explainable in polite society) reasons for laughing a lot at this one, but it’s still good ๐Ÿ™‚

Baba Is You – a VERY neat puzzle game (available for many platforms) where the rules of interaction with the world are part of said world (and hence can be interacted with as well). Beware: melting brain.

Cool stuff

Japanese D&D Rules Cyclopedia – this is not the kind of illustrations that come to mind first when talking about Dungeons&Dragons around here these days ๐Ÿ™‚

Around the World in 125 Melons – a short article about a book about melons. I don’t even like melon much (and watermelon is basically pink cucumber, so it’s awful), but the pictures are cool.

Tiny robot leaps around carrying its own battery, electronics – what the title says, essentially. Small robots a few centimeter high, that can be combinable as groups, and that are pretty fun to watch moving ๐Ÿ™‚ The video in the article is worth a watch.

Plant Parenthood – an opinion piece about caring for plants – possibly the first time in a long while I got the impulse of getting house plants ๐Ÿ™‚

Shooting and Seeing Art in Automobiles – nice article, cool pictures.

XKCD: Spreadsheets – well, that was a surprisingly educational XKCD (with regards to Google Spreadsheets capabilities) ๐Ÿ˜›

The French Bastards – if you’re up for some bakery porn (and who wouldn’t be?)

What the #@*% Is a โ€˜Grawlix’? – because I use them a lot, and I never know they had a name.

User Inyerface – A worst-practice UI experiment – if you ever wondered how bad UI can get, this is probably a fairly good example. It’s hilarious, but you might die a little bit inside too – consider yourself warned. And the level of detail is actually quite impressive ๐Ÿ˜€

Cool stuff

โ€˜Botanical Sexismโ€™ Could Be Behind Your Seasonal Allergies – apparently, at least in the US, planting male trees (when the trees themselves don’t have male and female flowers on the same plant) is a thing, mostly to avoid the littering of seeds. But then, male trees send more pollen in the air. I find both the reasoning and the consequences quite interesting – and I wonder if it’s also the case in Europe ๐Ÿ™‚

Cooking for Engineersโ€ฆrecipe infographics! (and interview) – a short interview of Michael Chu, who runs (ran?) Cooking for Engineers, where he talks about his recipe format. I had seen that recipe format a (long) while ago, and I was looking for it on Monday evening (because Pierre was asking if I had ever seen recipes written as a schema/graph/tree). And on Tuesday morning, I saw a reference to it on my Twitter feed via a romance author I follow. I’m very amused by the coincidence – and I really like the recipe representation ๐Ÿ™‚

AIs named by AIs – what happens when you feed a neural network with Culture ship names? Hilarity, that’s what happens.

Mighty Networks Live Interview with Host Lauri Novak, Host of The Photography Scavenger Hunt – when Google+ shutdown, the Photography Scavenger Hunt had to move, and we moved to Mighty Networks. Lauri talks about the move, our community, and the community building that goes behind the scenes, and it’s pretty neat. Also, there’s a sign-up for the 26th round tomorrow (July 12th 2019), so if you feel inclined to join… join us! ๐Ÿ™‚

Wizards Unite – if you remember (or still play!) Ingress or Pokemon Go, that’s the third iteration of that principle of “playing in the real world” from Niantic. The general idea is that you’re part of the Ministry of Magic and your goal is to avoid weird stuff being seen by the Muggles – and so you need to send that back to where it belongs using spells. It’s thematically strong, there’s more mechanics than Pokemon Go (at least at the time I played it), and it’s cooperative (so far). It’s free to play, there’s a bunch of stuff you can buy there of course, but I resisted so far, which for a week+ of play shows that they’re not pushing that too much.

Magic The Gathering Arena – uh-oh, another rabbit hole ๐Ÿ˜‰ It’s a free-to-play implementation of Magic The Gathering, it’s pretty well done on the “keeping you playing” front (this is a nice way of saying “they’re pushing the right buttons to get you hooked” :P), and they’re up-to-date with the set that gets available for play today, Core Set 2020. There’s also ways of giving them monies, but I have also resisted that so far, so it’s definitely not essential for newb players to have fun. (People who know what they’re doing may want to be able to get specific cards faster, though.) I also believe that you can unlock everything by grinding the rewards and by playing well enough (a few modes are only available through a currency that I don’t have yet, for instance), but I would have to double-check that. I may or may not have physical cards on order right now. Oops.

A few cool announcements on the LEGO side: a Harley Davidson which looks gorgeous, an Apollo 11 Lunar Lander (sad: not at the same scale as the Saturn V; cool: at a larger scale than the Saturn V), and a T-Rex.

BU researchers develop ‘acoustic metamaterial’ that cancels sound – using the shape of objects to get noise-cancelling effects of lightweight structures, that definitely enters the “cool stuff” realm.