A Little More YouTube Excitement: Snake Minigame

Hold on tight, this is important.

If you hold down Left Arrow while watching a video (in the new player), you can play a snake minigame:

The video has to have focus/be ‘active’ in the browser first; the easiest way to accomplish that is to pause and resume the video, then holding down left arrow — or pausing, holding down left arrow, then hitting space to resume the video.

Not that you’d need to play Snake while watching this interesting talk on MINIX 3 by Andrew S. Tanenbaum.

Debating with a Teabagger

I try to refrain from discussing politics — especially U.S. politics — but I couldn’t resist replying to this chain mail I received from a friend of mine:

From: Michael
To: <Many recipients>
Date: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 00:43
Subject: Letter to Obama

By Lou Pritchett, Procter & Gamble



Lou Pritchett is one of corporate America ’s true living legends- an acclaimed author, dynamic teacher and one of the world’s highest rated speakers. Successful corporate executives everywhere recognize him as the foremost leader in change management.. Lou changed the way America does business by creating an audacious concept that came to be known as “partnering.” Pritchett rose from soap salesman to Vice-President, Sales and Customer Development for Procter and Gamble and over the course of 36 years, made corporate history.


Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.

You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.

You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.

You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don’t understand it at its core.

You scare me because you lack humility and ‘class’, always blaming others.

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail..

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the ‘blame America’ crowd and deliver this message abroad.

You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.

You scare me because you prefer ‘wind mills’ to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.

You scare me because you have begun to use ‘extortion’ tactics against certain banks and corporations.

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals..

You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.

You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaugh’s, Hannity’s, O’Reillys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.

Lou Pritchett This letter was sent to the NY Times but they never acknowledged it. Big surprise. Since it hit the internet, however, it has had over 500,000 hits. Keep it going. All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing. It’s happening right now.

From: Patrick
To: Michael
Date: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 02:45
Subject: Re: Letter to Obama

Oh, Michael, you should know better than to send this to me, an atheist, social democrat from Denmark, living in Sweden :-)

A letter from an unintelligent (I find it ironic that he feels forced to try to imply otherwise in the letter), racist, ultra-right wing republican who essentially accuses the President of your country of being a terrorist while glorifying even bigger racists and lunatic nonsense-spouters Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. He represents everything that’s wrong with America now; everything that led it into this recession; everything that has made America lose face to the rest of the world in the last decade. Capitalism can be good, but if you think government healthcare is “scary”, you’re naïve. If you think “socialist” is a loaded, negative word, you’ve been brainwashed. While I’ll agree that the initial implementation of government healthcare in America is lackluster (largely because of the right not being willing to debate on a level above kindergarteners), basic things (which are rights almost everywhere else) that are essential for the development and well-being of every human being, like medical care and education, should not be exclusive to a “free (strongest person wins) market” that lets a select few corporate fat-cats — including the executives at Procter and Gamble — rake in a few extra million dollars in bonuses every year. Every other industrialized country in the world, especially in the West, have realized and applied this, with success, and improved their standing on the world development, education, happiness and welfare indexes. The only two countries in the world that don’t have universal healthcare are the United States and Somalia. It’s not black and white; it’s not either “socialist and government-controlled” (read: Socialist, not Communist, I don’t know why every other American think they’re synonymous) or “free and equal opportunity”. Somalia has a completely free market with “equal opportunity” — where are they on the standards of living index?

If you’re the kind of rightwinger who has the impression that government can’t do anything right, here’s a story you might find positively enlightening:

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock, powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watch this while eating my breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US Congress, and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door, I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After work, I drive my NHTSA car back home on DOT roads, to a house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal’s inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post of FreeRepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can’t do anything right.

I’m not trying to change your political view, or stop you from criticizing the government — that’s essential for democracy — but do it for the right reasons. Don’t be the kind of grossly misinformed, racist teabagger who thinks America is still “at war”, is in its critical financial state because of its current administration (how’s that even possible; the crisis began before it was installed), or has a terrorist leader who seeks to destroy it. Or a person whose role models are people who enjoy being part of the economic elite, yet claim to be “average people” with “your problems”.

By the way: The U.S. isn’t anywhere near the top in terms of high standards of living:

Quality of life: http://www.mapsofworld.com/images/world-top-ten-countries/world-top-ten-quality-of-life-map.jpg
Happiness: http://images.forbes.com/media/2007/05/02/MiseryIndexChart.gif
Happiness: http://www.forbes.com/2009/05/05/world-happiest-places-lifestyle-travel-world-happiest_slide_2.html
Development: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index

– Patrick

From: Michael
To: Patrick
Date: Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 23:25
Subject: Re: Re: Letter to Obama

Sorry, didn’t mean to send it to ya.

Is Your iPad Solar Storm Ready?

There’s a good chance that solar flares will send large amounts of magnetic energy our way soon — “sometime around 2013” (let’s ignore that the popular doomsday, December 21st 2012, falls within that time frame). This solar storm could knock out power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications — well, anything sensitive to electromagnetic disturbance.

Normally, I’d be more than a tad skeptical, but here’s what Richard Fisher of NASA’s Heliophysics Division has to say:

The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. The intersection of these two issues is what we’re getting together to discuss.

The Telegraph elaborates:

Every 22 years the Sun’s magnetic energy cycle peaks while the number of sun spots – or flares – hits a maximum level every 11 years. Dr Fisher, a Nasa scientist for 20 years, said these two events would combine in 2013 to produce huge levels of radiation. He said large swathes of the world could face being without power for several months, although he admitted that was unlikely. A more likely scenario was that large areas, including northern Europe and Britain which have “fragile” power grids, would be without power and access to electronic devices for hours, possibly even days.

Of course, the important question here is whether the iPad is resistant to these solar storms, or if such technology — let’s call it ‘Flare Guard’ — will be introduced through a software update to the Retina Display at a later stage. I’ve reached out to Steve Jobs for a comment, but have not yet received a response.

Mandelbrot Fractal Zoomed to 2^760 Will Trip You Out

Zoomed to 6.066e+228 (2^760), this Mandelbrot fractal, which took 6 months to render, will make your room spin around if you stare at it long enough. To put things in perspective: An electron needs to be zoomed to 1E42 to equal the size of the known universe. This is zoomed to 1E228:

If the music isn’t your taste, disable it by dragging left on the rightmost bars in the player.

Two days to set up, and then six months to render, resulted in around forty 1.9GB uncompressed .AVI files. I added watermarking, fx and time remapping, before multi-pass encoding the 80GB video in h264 (32,768 kbit/sec) and the audio in AAC.

Want some perspective?

  • 1E6 Vancouver Island
  • 1E9 Jupiter’s radius
  • 1E12 Earth’s orbit
  • 1E18 distance to Alpha Centauri
  • 1E21 Milky Way galaxy
  • 1E30 large doesn’t cover it!
  • 1E42 size of electron to the universe
  • 1E228 incomprehensibly big…but we did it!

For the record, 1 to 6e228 is like expanding a proton to 70000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 0000000000000000000000000000000000000 times the size of the visible universe. (Proton has 1 femtometer diameter, universe has 93 billion light year diameter)

If you were actually traveling into the fractal, you would be moving faster than the speed of light.

Credit: Teamfresh

If You've Ever Played Super Mario, You Need to See This

Super Mario Bros. X is a massive project that blends elements from Super Mario 1, 2, 3 and World. It has many power ups, such as the Hammer Suit, Tanooki Suit, Kuribo’s shoe, The Billy Gun, and many old and new Yoshis. You can also play the game with a friend in the 2 player co-op mode, where the screen seamlessly splits and combines as the players separate and rejoin:


SMBX is most notable for its extensive editor that allows you to create almost any kind of level that you can imagine. The real time editor lets you edit the level while playing it! You can also create your own episode using either the SMB3 or SMW styled world map, or you can create a Mario 64 style hub level and have the players collect stars to advance.

Download the game here!

Honorable mentions to Super Mario Crossover which brings characters like Mega Man and Link (and their abilities) to Mario.