Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fun with Shrinky-Dinks

Click through to PhysOrg if the video doesn’t load.

Ying Liu, et al. from Michael Dickey’s Lab at North Carolina State demonstrate how simply using an inkjet printer to put black lines on shrinky-dinks, one can transform them into a heat activated self-folding material. (Paper.)

The idea is very simple. When a light is shone on the taped up shrinky-dink, the black tape absorbs more energy, and thus the area under the tape heats up faster than the uncovered material. Since shrinky-dinks contract when heated, a hinge is created. By varying the width of the tape, the rate of closure and the resultant angle can be controlled.


Women’s Enduro X at X Games 17

This is just embarrassing.

While the men fell as well, apparently they didn’t fall nearly as much. These are supposed to be some of the best dirt bike riders in the world, they look like what I could do, and I have never ridden a dirt bike in my life. The sexist youtube comments write themselves.

In case you’re wondering, the event is called Enduro X, which is basically just indoor dirt bike racing with bigger obstacles.

Diaspora Revisited

I now have a Diaspora account, so I figure it’s time to revisit my thoughts about it. Last time I mentioned Diaspora, it was just a kick starter project. A sketch of an idea, but nothing else. Now there’s something to actually look at an interact with.

Diaspora isn’t fun. While it may be a work in progress, it has squandered a lot of momentum, and certain things are just the kind of mistakes you’d expect from four (now three) undergrads with no experience with Internet scale. First, it is incredibly hard to find anyone. Search is slow, and it only return less than 10 hits, with no ability to move beyond the first page of results. If you want to invite your friends, you can either use Facebook, or manually upload your address book one email address at a time. That’s just horrible. It advertises integration with other services (namely Twitter and Facebook) but with the exception of Facebook, it doesn’t access the address book.

Second, while you can follow tags, almost every tag is content free. Why? The first post every account is encouraged to send is, “Hey! I’m #newhere and am interested in #foo, #bar, and #baz!” And so every tag is filled with these #newhere posts. While a welcome-a-total-stranger post may have sounded like a good idea when you have low tens of users, it is obvious this can’t scale, especially when you’re trying to attract many new users.

Third, the stream only supports two types of content: text and pictures. Want to share a link? You can’t. I don’t know quite what to say about that. It’s just weird.

Since I have literally two connections on Diaspora it’s very hard to get anything out of it. Especially since the community features (i.e. tag following) is broken, and quite honesty even when you scroll through 20 #newhere posts just to find one piece of actual content, the content is rather crappy. I don’t blame Diaspora for that though. I blame the Internet.

The Sovereign is Never Seen

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Adam Harvey played with different makeup patterns to defeat facial detection software. Called CV Dazzle – named after the dazzle camouflage of World War I – it basically asymmetric white and black eye black that is intended to confuse the location of the eyes in relation to the mouth.

While interesting, it isn’t a complete privacy system. Even wearing CV Dazzle, the wearer’s image is still stored. I recall seeing online a hoodie that had high intensity IR LEDs sewn around the opening in an attempt to blind cameras, which I would think either works extremely well, or extremely poorly (i.e. providing more light to the wearer’s face, and thus a sharper image) depending on the orientation of the LEDs. Because of this, it seems like going with an old fashioned mask is better solution, unless you’re afraid of being arrested on a trumped up and dubious
anti-mask law, in which case perhaps CV Dazzle isn’t such a bad idea in order circumvent mass surveillance.