Sunday Things - media edition

posted in Media by Cargo Cult on Sunday October 7 2012

Sundays are for reflecting on science fiction - past, present and future. Or is that nonlinear future/more-future, ultra-future and alternate-past?

Looper trailer - may contain traces of dubstep

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Looper - utterly, gloriously ridiculous time-travel caper with James Cole, sorry, Bruce Willis playing an older version of Joseph Gordon-Levitt - a production-line assassin paid to kill whoever is sent back from the future, including (as it turns out) himself. The central conceit doesn't stand up to any kind of analysis, but quite frankly it doesn't matter. Violent, stylish and at times really funny - well worth seeing. Even if it perhaps turns out to be something other than a time-travel movie... Rating: nine out of twelve monkeys!
Iain with-an-M. Banks
The Hydrogen Sonata - massive personal influence Iain M. Banks' latest Culture novel. I've only just started reading it, but even forty pages in there's been a conical, metallic-core-to-rocky-surface fragment of planet shielding a ceremonial facility from the remnants of an exploded supernova, a musical instrument requiring a four-armed humanoid player to climb inside it, a Culture ship of indeterminate class with an elided-for-brevity name... Potentially Sublime?
Dishonoured, damnit!
Dishonoured - or 'Dishonored' as the peculiar spelling would have it - hopefully-not-awful semi-RPG occasional-stealth-'em-up from an Arkane coalition also involving key Deus Ex developers and City 17's Viktor Antonov. In theory, utterly splendid - but ever the pessimist, I am ready for abject disappointment. We live in hope!
Edit 2012-10-08: Rock, Paper, Shotgun already has a Wot I Think up for Dishonored - sounds extremely promising!

Edit 2012-10-12: Do you like exploring? Do you like exquisitely imagined worlds with fiction oozing out of every nook and cranny? If so, you have to play this game. It's gorgeous, and is basically designed for people like me.

Sunday Things - miscellaneous edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 30 2012

Sundays are for realising the combination of a cold and jet-lag has prevented the Saturday night compilation of the latest Sunday Things. So in a way, this is late - and for the first time ever - but it's still Sunday. So things can't be so bad?

Sunbathing is far riskier than anyone imagined.
August 31st Coronal Mass Ejection - giant eruption on the Sun, imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. I'm only posting this 'cause anyone who somehow hasn't seen this already is seriously missing out!

Hopefully not foul Greek graffiti? Winter sports facilities always look strange without snow
Abandoned Olympic Sites - the intentionally transient nature of much of the London Olympics' constructions may help avoid a similar fate, but infrastructure from previous games has stuck around... There are some great other links within the article, too. via locworks

A knotty problem.
Knots on Mars - a few thoughts on the hand-tied knots lacing together cables on the MSL Curiosity Mars rover, courtesy of the International Guild of Knot Tyers (no, really). I've always found that space probes are a beautiful intersection of precision engineering and delicately hand-built prototypes - cosmetic imperfections and evidence of modifications reveal their defiantly non-mass-produced nature. via David

Bonus Extreme Weather corner:

  • Extreme Instability - people's hero goes chasing storms in a car with a camera. I went through what looked like a weather front in northern France the other day - a huge bank of clouds with damp consequences on the other side.
  • Atmospheric Optics - all those funny crepuscular rays, parhelia, supernumerary rainbows, halos and noctilucent clouds all have names, don't you know.
  • French Warship versus Big Waves - I'm hoping for weather like that on Lake Washington. The 271 bus has already been splashed by smaller waves...

Sunday Things - Seattle LiDAR edition

posted in 3D by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 23 2012

What to do on long train journeys with no intertubes and no books to read? Instead of succumbing to tedious modern media consumption with a Kindle or iPad, why not break out the high-end modelling and rendering packages, combine them with geographical data conversion utilities and visualise some previously-downloaded LiDAR heightfield data of significant Pacific Northwestern cities?

Seattle LiDAR 1 Seattle LiDAR 2 Seattle LiDAR 3 (this was supposed to be low-lying morning mist, but didn't turn out too well)
Rendering data from the Puget Sound Lidar Consortium, converted to GeoTIFF format with a recent GDAL installation, then rendered into glorious globally-illuminated worlds using one's own personal copy of Modo. Convert the funny ASCII .e00 files with something like 'gdal_translate -of gtiff -ot uint16 -scale 0 1000 0 65535 q47122e31ff.e00 q47122e31ff.tiff' - the resulting 16-bit TIFF can then be opened in Photoshop for checking and tweaking, then rendered as a displacement map in Modo. Surprisingly, it eats through my laptop's battery like you wouldn't believe.

Sunday Things - underground edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 16 2012

Quick subterranean edition, assembled while waiting to board a plane...

Yet more real-life Minecraft. Given the opportunity to dig, people will dig.
Caves of Nottingham - the mighty BLDGBLOG goes exploring in somewhere I thought I knew, and sees many things I haven't. The longest article I've ever seen on Nottingham's many artificial caves, and it's all thanks to...

sv_cheats 1; noclip

Nottingham Caves Survey - going underground?

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The Nottingham Caves Survey - surveying and scanning the caves using LiDAR, producing a huge dataset of point-cloud geometry. I do hope they release some of that data!


posted in Space by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 9 2012

Beady little spider-eyes?

That Martian robot has gained sentience, and is looking at us. It can see itself, and it knows we can see it. Forget the cute, cuddly and anthropomorphic mastcam self-portrait, it is now showing its true nature - a monstrous space-robot bristling with cameras and scientific instrumentation.

In other words, MSL Curiosity's MAHLI camera is fully activated, the lens cover is open and it's busy inspecting itself. Calibration targets, wheels, hazcams - this is rather fancy. SPAAAACE! Ahem.