And now for something completely different: The Wintergatan Marble Machine

I cannot begin to imagine how one would begin to build something as amazing as this is.

Wintergatan’s YouTube channel has a number of videos of the build process if you’re curious.

Guy with portable mistletoe gets loads of kisses.

You wouldn’t think this would work, but it appears to work amazingly well:

Amazon just launched Prime Music.

PrimeMusicI love Amazon Prime. We signed up for it a year and a half ago and it’s been worth every penny. Between the large collection of TV shows and Movies we can stream for free and/or rent and the free two-day shipping, it’s paid for itself in a matter of weeks. Now Amazon has made it even better with the launch of Prime Music.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member you can now listen to over a million songs, without ads, on almost any device, at no additional charge. You can even download the songs to your mobile device to listen in places without Internet access. I think the only thing you can’t do with them is burn them to a CD, but if you want to do that it’s pretty easy to purchase the MP3 you just listened to.

This won’t completely replace Pandora for me because the point of Pandora is to be exposed to stuff I might like that I don’t know about and Prime Music doesn’t appear to offer a similar function. Still, it’ll come in handy when I decide that I really like some group I’ve just been newly exposed to and want to hear a whole album from them. Plus I can make playlists of stuff I haven’t gotten around to buying yet. If you’re a Prime member you should check it out.

Lindzee demonstrates some mind blowing contact juggling.

I could watch this guy all day and it would still make my mind boggle every damned time:

Found over at Sploid.

What if we lived in a world where the paintings from “Harry Potter” actually existed?

That seems to be the question being answered in the video B E A U T Y by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro. In it he takes many famous classical paintings and animates them with the results being both lovely and creepy. You will definitely want to watch this one full screen and in HD. Note: There’s some amount of nudity and violence in this so consider it NSFW:

B E A U T Y – dir. Rino Stefano Tagliafierro from Rino Stefano Tagliafierro on Vimeo.

One of the things that occurred to me as I watched this is that a lot of classic paintings have some pretty twisted subject matter to them that’s really highlighted when you animate it. Granted, the animation in this is somewhat limited, but even the small amounts that are done are impactful. You can find the full list of all the paintings used here.

A brief primer on the science of snowflakes.

The folks at It’s OK to be Smart have a cool little video up on YouTube that talks about snowflakes, how they’re formed, and whether or not it’s true that no two are exactly alike:

One of the things I love about snowflakes is that they’re a great example of order and complexity from chaos. Just a few simple rules of physics produces the amazing variety of patterns a snowflake can take on. All from a bunch of hydrogen and oxygen atoms that bonded together and then bumped into each other.

It’s almost Halloween so here’s some holiday light shows.

It all started with syncing Christmas lights to music and the past couple of years it’s migrated to Halloween much to the delight of the folks trying to sell Halloween colored Christmas lights. It’s the sort of spectacle that I’d love to do myself if A) I had a house and B) I had the talent, neither of which I posses. Still, they’re fun to watch.

FIrst up is the Thomas Halloween 2013 show featuring one of my current favorite songs Sail by AWOLnation: 

Or, if you prefer, something a bit more in-line with the season This Is Halloween from A Nightmare Before Christmas:

Not to be outdone, here’s Thriller by Creative Lighting Displays out in California:

The Hallett’s light show isn’t as elaborate as some others, but does feature some cool projected animation in addition to a 10 foot singing skull:

One more light show that incorporates a touch of projection mapping as part of the show:

It’s really amazing how much this has taken off over the past several years. There’s a lot of people out there devoting a massive amount of time and effort in designing and setting up these light shows. Whole house projection mapping appears to be the next big thing, but I couldn’t find any good examples from this year.

One of the best examples from last year is Bates Haunt’s 2012 show which runs a good 20 minutes:

The folks behind Bates Haunt have tutorials on their site showing how they do it for those of you interested in trying your hand at it.

If you’ve seen some cool Halloween displays this year, even if they’re just static, leave a comment and tell us about it. If you can link to pictures or a video that would be even better.

This is one reason I love my job.

As of next month I will have been with my current employer for three years. First as a double contractor, then a single contractor, and finally as a direct hire. The people I work with are great and I come home each day with a sense of accomplishment. That’s a large part of the reason I love my job, but there are other, smaller reasons that factor in as well.

For example, there’s a wall near the front lobby where we have pictures of every employee grouped by department in a simple org chart. Each department has a header on it letting you know what it is, but for some reason whoever put it together never got around to making one for the IT department.

So we took it upon ourselves to make our own:

It seemed the logical choice.

It seemed the logical choice.

We put that up on the board over a year ago and it’s been there ever since. It’s a good feeling to know that the company you work for has a sense of humor. It makes me smile every time I see it.

English is hard, but it used to be a lot worse.

masturbate-a-large-wordMost of us native English speakers don’t think too much about how fucked up a language it is because we’ve been speaking it — more or less — all our lives, but it’s definitely one of the hardest languages to pick up if you’re trying to learn it. It’s full of stupid rules and weird exceptions to the stupid rules and flat out contradictions to the stupid rules.

The good news is, it used to be a lot worse:


The Universe is a stunningly big place.

If you find yourself needing a little perspective today then take 2 minutes to watch the following YouTube video:

Now consider this: Those dots aren’t individual stars. They’re individual galaxies.

This animated flight through the universe was made by Miguel Aragon of Johns Hopkins University with Mark Subbarao of the Adler Planetarium and Alex Szalay of Johns Hopkins. There are close to 400,000 galaxies in the animation, with images of the actual galaxies in these positions (or in some cases their near cousins in type) derived from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data Release 7. Vast as this slice of the universe seems, its most distant reach is to redshift 0.1, corresponding to roughly 1.3 billion light years from Earth. SDSS Data Release 9 from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), led by Berkeley Lab scientists, includes spectroscopic data for well over half a million galaxies at redshifts up to 0.8 — roughly 7 billion light years distant — and over a hundred thousand quasars to redshift 3.0 and beyond.

I find this both awe inspiring and a little sad. That’s just a small slice of the universe we know about and it is mind bendingly huge on its own. When you stop to consider the distances between those galaxies it’s hard not to be awed by it.

And that’s also what makes me a little sad. Proxima Centauri is the next closest star to our solar system and it is roughly 4.24 light years away pretty much putting it out of our reach for visiting unless we find some way to bend the laws of physics. The closest known galaxy to ours is the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy which is roughly 25,000 light years away from the Sun. That’s a difficult number to fathom on its own. When you realize that a light year is 5.87849981 × 1012 miles (roughly 6 trillion miles) it becomes even more so.

Now consider how close everything looked in that video. There’s just tons of places to go and see! Except that you’re looking at literally billions of light years of distance which means we’ll probably never see any of it up close. We’ll be lucky if we ever make it to Proxima Centauri given the distance involved, going to a neighboring galaxy is likely to forever remain a dream of science fiction writers. Not that NASA isn’t still considering the possibility, but the challenges of just getting to our neighbor star are overwhelming.

So much stuff out there and no real chance of seeing it. Guess I’ll have to settle for watching sci-fi movies for the time being.