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⊙ AntiQuark

Truth, Beauty, Charm, Strange


History of Honda Robots

ASIMO: History
Detailed history of Honda's bipedal walking robotics program, all the way from 1986. A few of those look like the Gonk Droid from Star Wars.


Slow Blogging

Slow blogging -- summer, you know.

In the meantime...
Pornzilla is a collection of tools for surfing porn with Firefox. These bookmarklets and extensions make it easier to find and view porn, letting you spend more time looking at smut you like.
Since nobody has contributed to our testing budget, these tools have only been tested with free porn sites.
Free porn? That's no way to test software. Someone give them some cash so they can test it on legitimate porn!

Actually, some of these bookmarklets are useful in their own right. I have the Zoomin and Zoomout ones (renamed to Z+ and Z-) on my toolbar to make it easier to resize absurdly large or small images.


Const correctness in C#

What is this crap? C# does not support const correctness.

One would think that a modern programming language (especially one not hindered by backwards compatibility with C) would implement the obviously useful const facility.

Some people see const simply as a way to give the compiler optimization hints. I see it as much more. Const is a bullet in the arsenal of preemptive bug prevention. Const isn't an cure-all by any means, but it helps eliminate certain typo (or worse, "thinko") bugs in which you alter a variable, even though your intention was to leave it untouched. By typing 5 extra characters, const is an effortless way to prevent this bug.

When you write code for a living, you clutch onto any good bug prevention tricks, and are loathe to let them go. That's why I'm so appalled that C# doesn't let me use const.

When asked why C# didn't have const, the lead architect sort of looked at his shoes and mumbled that it was too hard to guarantee constness, and that C++ cheats by letting you override it.


How do I enforce const correctness in C#?
Answer: you can't.

CLR Design Choices (google cache)
Anders Hejlsberg, the lead C# architect, talks with Bruce Eckel and Bill Venners about IL instructions, non-virtual methods, unsafe code, value types, and immutables.
The article where the imagined shoe-gazing took place.

Why doesn't C# have "const"?
Discussion thread where vitriol is spewed at a hypothetical VB programmer named "Mort." Mort is an imaginary dullard who hacks his way through projects, and for whom "const" would be an impossible-to-understand roadblock.


Mars Global Surveyor Telemetry

MGS Telemetry Index
When nobody's around, I open these pages in full-screen mode, point at them with a pencil, and say things like, "I understand your worries Bob, but notice the gaseous helium pressure is 1300 PSI. As far as I'm concerned, aerobraking is a GO!"

These pages claim that the telemetry is "live" -- yeah, maybe in 1999 it was!

(via the MGS page)

Mars Pathfinder Rover Telemetry (1997)
Raw telemetry data, not organized in an easy-to-read manner. There are some graphs though.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION: This page was last updated Tuesday January 20, 1998.
Under construction? I'm eagerly awaiting the next update.

CANDOS Shuttle Telemetry Experiment
Seems to be an experiment that sent non-essential data to a LabView application. From the color scheme, it looks like it was designed for elementary students.


Scientific Method Flowchart

Well, I'm shocked. I actually found something informative in a FARK thread -- a flowchart describing how to apply the scientific method. The image is from Earth Sciences, Lecture 1.


Intelligent Design: "The Dick and I"

Hey, I've got a good idea for a sitcom! It's about two university students who are roommates. One is an atheistic, scientific type, whom I've decided to name Julian after a wise character on another comedy show. The other is Dick, a religious nut who firmly believes in the pseudoscience of Intelligent Design (ID).

The comedy arises not from Dick's belief in ID, but from the consequences of Dick's innate mode of thought.

You see, belief in ID doesn't spring fully formed into the mind of its adherents -- It just fits neatly into their mental landscape. It appears that some people are born with a peculiar form of logical deduction already embedded in their brains. I'll call this "Id-logic." All conclusions of an Id-logician follow the FUNDAMENTAL AXIOM of ID-LOGIC (or "FAIL"):

OBSERVATION: An object looks like a certain thing.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, that object is the thing that it looks like.

Of course, when FAIL is applied to the most important question in the world (the existence of God) you get the FIRST COROLLARY of ID-LOGIC:

OBSERVATION: An object looks like it was made by an intelligent designer.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, that object was made by an intelligent designer.

There are many other instances of FAIL logic the world over. Some good examples are the face on Mars ("it looks like a face, therefore it's a face) the moon landing hoax ("I can't comprehend how a rocket got to the moon, therefore a rocket didn't get to the moon") and holocaust denial ("I didn't see the holocaust, therefore there was no holocaust.")

As revolting as past applications of Id-logic may be, I think it could be great fodder for comic (and tragi-comic) situations. Here are a few scenes I've whipped up to give a taste of the humor in "The Dick and I."

This scene takes place in a biology lab on campus. Julian think's he'll play a joke on Dick, and gives him a piece of mystery meat...

JULIAN: Hey, Dick, taste this!

DICK: Mmmmm... tastes like chicken.

JULIAN: Well, actually it's--

DICK: It's chicken. If it tastes like chicken, then it is chicken.

JULIAN: Dick, I don't know if you should be eating that stuff...

DICK: [Gulp, gobble, smack]

JULIAN: [Turns a pale shade of green, gags a bit, leaves room.]

This scene takes place at the apartment. Julian walks in with a piece of abstract art...

JULIAN: Hey Dick, look at this old painting I got at a junk sale.

DICK: Wow, that looks like an authentic Picasso.

JULIAN: Actually, I think it's a reproduc--

DICK: It looks like a real Picasso. Therefore it's a real Picasso.

JULIAN: Uh, yeah. Yeah, that's it, a real Picasso. I'll sell it to you... Thousand bucks!

DICK: Why, what a spectacular deal! [pulls wad from pocket] Here's your cash sir. Aren't you going to count it?

JULIAN: Uh no I trust you thanks a lot I gotta go now! [Julian exits quickly, sound of bootsteps, car engine starting, car revving off into distance.]

This scene takes place at a bar in Thailand, where the roommates went for spring break...

DICK: Hey Julian, that girl on the dance floor, I think she likes me!

JULIAN: Oh yeah, that "girl" likes you.

DICK: So, you think I should go for it?

JULIAN: God, you're such an idiot sometimes.

DICK: You always say that. I'm gonna ask her to dance.

JULIAN: Go ask "her" then. Good luck, stud boy.

DICK: [Several hours later in a dingy hotel room, hiding in bathroom, looking skyward]... NOOOOOO!!! WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME????

Comedy gold, I tell ya! So, who do I talk to?


Virtual Mars Habitat

Explore Mars Now
Interactive Flash interface for exploring a hypothetical Mars habitat. I think it veers more towards sci-fi than hard science, but the design has been thought out in great detail, plus it looks good too.
(via Mars Rover Blog.)

Mars Simulation Project
The Mars Simulation Project is a free software Java project to create a simulation of future human settlement of Mars.

The simulation is a multi-agent artificial society set in a detailed virtual world.

XML configuration files allow the user to modify the simulation properties.



Logic System Interrelationships
Only a mathematician could take logic (the essence of rational thought), expand and generalize the topic to logics (different schemes of thought, by humans and non-humans alike) then distill and condense the whole shebang down into a 400x300 image that sort of looks like a cube.

Many people admire mathematicians... but I say we should FEAR them!