Aww, crap

posted in Media by Cargo Cult on Wednesday April 3 2013

Iain Banks - both with and without the 'M.' - diagnosed with terminal cancer.

If you haven't already noticed, his writing's a bit of a major personal influence.

Sunday Things - post-infinite edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday March 31 2013

Today's somewhat abbreviated Things has been slightly delayed due to finishing Bioshock Infinite. Oops. Mini-review: excellent. Also, people claiming the ending doesn't make sense? Amateurs. Any fan of Fringe would follow it just fine...

The Soviet equivalent of Florida.

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Soyuz TMA-22 launch - further to last week's article's Feynman love-in in the comments, here's a counterpoint to the Space Shuttle's tendency to explode when launched in cold weather. A Soyuz launching during an actual blizzard? Hell yeah. Around 22 seconds in - gorgeous.
In space, everyone can hear you fart.
Rare Images From Inside a Soyuz During Flight - shots from inside Soyuz TMA-20. So what's it like inside one of those things? Kind of cramped. I suddenly understand exactly why they developed a six-hour flight to the International Space Station to replace the usual two-day one...
Another relic of the Cold War.
Tupolev Tu-160 - while we're at it, have a lovely photo of this monster from the latter days of the Soviet Union. A book I had as a child had a few artists' impressions and a fuzzy satellite image of this thing. And plenty of information on the American B-1.

Bonus Would Give Cyriak Nightmares corner:

  • Man Spaghetti - contains neither man nor spaghetti. Utterly surreal, disturbing animation. via b3ta

Sunday Things - rocketry edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday March 24 2013

Quick space-oriented edition while I catch up with stuff.

What goes up must come down.
F-1 Engine Recovery - if you launch a skyscraper-sized monster up into the air, it's not going to disappear. Some of it will come back to Earth - or the sea in this case. And decades later, a billionaire will fish rusty bits of rocket engine out of the ocean. Corroded, destroyed '60s space hardware? I'm happy. via Jeff S.
Soviet rust is the best kind of rust.
The Fading Grandeur of Abandoned Soviet Space Facilities - meanwhile, on the other side of the planet - a nice compilation of links, including the previously mentioned Lana Sator's rocket factory infiltration. See also: the fate of the Buran. via locworks
The only nation to develop its own satellite launcher and then abandon it completely.
BLACK ARROW - and then, on another side of the world, in Woomera, Australia - there's the remnants of the British space programme. Our first satellite is quite likely still beeping away up there, should anyone care to listen in...

Bonus Yet-to-upload-to-Flickr-but-there's-my-frequently-updated-photos-to-look-at corner:

  • Space Shuttle Discovery - saw it some weeks ago, outside Washington (DC). It's big, scarred and decidedly more impressive than my 1:72 scale model. This model has a much better paint-job than mine.
  • Space Shuttle Interior - I got inside! Albeit the full-sized trainer in Washington (state, just south of Seattle). Typed while watching this - at twenty minutes in? Piss off, that's not a Shuttle. Way too roomy for a start...

Sunday Things - demoscene edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday March 17 2013

Never excuse 'programmer art'. Witness the demoscene - hackers making hardware do audiovisual things it wasn't supposed to.

Like a tiny tiny Skyrim.

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elevated by Rgba and TBC - fantastic 4kB demo. As in, it's a four kilobyte Windows executable. Essentially just some fancy shaders running on the GPU and a tiny software synthesiser, it's bloody amazing what it manages to produce. pouet.net page with download links etc.

Go away, triangles - the particles are here!

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Agenda Circling Forth by Fairlight and Carillon & Cyberiad - so what happens when demo coders have somewhat more than 4kB to play with? Frequently, they escape the tedious world of polygons and investigate the land of particles. Nifty. pouet.net page

Vector displays break down in splendid ways.

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Where Have All The Pixels Gone? by cmucc - but what do they do when pixels themselves seem needlessly futuristic? Get hacking on a Vectrex from the early 1980s. pouet.net page

Attribute Clash sounds like a great band name.

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Pimp My Spectrum by ate bit - but there's no risk of getting stuck in the past. Take some simulated '80s Sinclair hardware and launch yourself into a glorious alternate future - this demo is absolutely a tricked-out Sinclair Spectrum emulator... pouet.net page

Platform wars will never end.

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Starstruck by The Black Lotus - it's not just virtual hardware being upgraded. This is a demo built for a souped-up Commodore Amiga, but true to the spirit of the platform wars which epitomised the demoscene, here it's running much better on an accelerated Atari Falcon. Never forget which side I'm on. pouet.net page

Bonus No Hardware Available! corner:

Sunday Things - early flight edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday March 10 2013

Go read about aviation history on Wikipedia. A few brief highlights:

Like a bat out of ... France?
Ader Avion III - primitive, steam-powered, ineffective - but looking like an escapee from an alternate, steampunk universe. Clément Ader's earlier Éole did make a brief, low powered flight in October 1890, albeit in a completely uncontrollled manner.
The Red Baron would have a conniption if he saw this.
Horatio Frederick Phillips - forget the monoplanes, biplanes, triplanes and other near-wingless attempts at flight. Mr. Phillips' multiplanes eventually made decent powered flights in 1907, long after simpler designs proved adequate...
Standard component of a parallel universe.
Zeppelins! - from experimental beasts to explosive monsters via dropping bombs on Birmingham, these things grew to be huge.
Biggest Meccano set ever.
R101 - the Germans certainly weren't alone in developing airships. Part of a British government programme "to develop civil airships capable of service on long-distance routes within the British Empire", this home-grown hydrogen-filled leviathan crashed and burned on its first flight to India... The enormous airship sheds at Cardington still stand - you've probably (not) seen them in the recent Batman films, being ideal cover for film sets.

Bonus Random Pavarotti Disease corner: