Archive for the ‘Design and Art’ Category

A lava lamp is something from the late 1960’s – they were quite a rage when when I was a teenager. Today, lava lamps are a tool for cryptographers – at least at Cloudflare, a provider of a significant piece of Internet infrastructure.

In their blog post “Randomness 101: LavaRand in Production“, Cloudflare explains how they use a collection of lava lamps to generate random numbers.

LavaRand is a system that uses lava lamps as a secondary source of randomness for our production servers. A wall of lava lamps in the lobby of our San Francisco office provides an unpredictable input to a camera aimed at the wall. A video feed from the camera is fed into a CSPRNG, and that CSPRNG provides a stream of random values that can be used as an extra source of randomness by our production servers. Since the flow of the “lava” in a lava lamp is very unpredictable, “measuring” the lamps by taking footage of them is a good way to obtain unpredictable randomness. Computers store images as very large numbers, so we can use them as the input to a CSPRNG just like any other number.

If you don’t want to read the whole blog post, just have a look at this video on Youtube:

Click the image to go to Youtube


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Last night, Philip Catherine celebrated his 75th birthday with a splendid concert at Flagey. I wasn’t present in the concert hall, but the organisers were kind enough to offer a free live stream. The whole evening I have been whistling and humming, enjoying fine jazz from a great combo, including Bert Joris on trumpet and Jerry Brown on drums.

I snatched a image from the live stream to illustrate this post…

I have a few of his records in my collection, but I’m ready for more after hearing what this guitar player is still capable of at 75. Live long and prosper, Philip!

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The title of the piece is what grabbed my attention: “The Mechanics of History“. You won’t see the mechanics of history, though. It’s just a simple piece of modern dance, accentuated by the music of Philip Glass.

Click to see the performance on Youtube
(Via BoingBoing)

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Remember the time when you managed to get your BBC Computer (or your Amiga or Spectrum or …) to output sounds? Did you ever get to composing songs? Or even just replaying well known melodies?

Click the image and for details and samples!

I never went much beyond “making sounds”. Pawel Zadroźniak, however, went a lot further. He’s using 64 floppy drives, 8 hard disks and 2 scanners to play songs. Meet the Floppotron, and be amazed!

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Normally I wouldn’t blog about cars – I prefer motorcycles or even bikes. But this one is special. Very special. I owned one when I was a kid, although mine was just a Dinky Toy, of course. But it was the most beautiful car I knew then, even beating the Batcar in coolness.

And now Jaguar has converted a 50-year original E-type into an electric car, that drives like the original, just a bit faster! Too bad I don’t have the money to buy one. But I would love to drive one for a day, somewhere in the countryside on a good summer day…

Ars Technica – Jaguar has restored this old E-type with an electric upgrade

Ars Technica – Jaguar has restored this old E-type with an electric upgrade

Thanks, Ars Technica, for telling me about this car!

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It’s not a real motorcycle, but it does not look like a bicycle either: it’s the prototype of an e-bike that is unlike any e-bike you have seen before. The curved lines and the attention to detail give it a special kind of beauty, and I wouldn’t mind trying one out. Have a look at the video on the company’s website to understand what I’m writing about ;-)

Check out the Avionics website by clicking on the image

In the words of the founders of Avionics: “This is our vision of the future combined with a memory of the past“:

More than 100 years ago, electric vehicles started the worldwide revolution and introduced civilization to a higher level of transportation. For some reason, people considered petroleum to be the better product to move their machines. They forgot about the potential of electricity to start their engines. Luckily times are changing. Nowadays electricity comes back to motorization in great style, enriched with high technology…

We’ll see how they fare on Indiegogo, starting somewhere in September.

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On June 16th, 2017, the Aboriginal Art Museum Utrecht (Utrecht, Netherlands) closed its doors. The AAMU was a private initiative, started by a few collectors, and supported by a few sponsors and lots of volunteers. My wife and I visited the AAMU last year, and appreciated it for its wide range of works. According to the last annual report, there wasn’t enough money to keep the museum open, and an arrangement was found to transfer the collection of some 800 works to the National Museum for World Cultures.

Just a sample of one of the works of the AAMU, as shown on the remaining homepage of the site today…

Sadly enough, such a transfer of the collection ignores the fact that the AAMU was so much more than a collection. The museum also included an art shop, a small video theatre, and a little bar plus terrace. Not to mention the fact that it was located in the historical centre of Utrecht, smack in the middle of the busy centre of the town. We had intended to go back to the AAMU, to check out the new offerings of the museum ánd the shop. That plan will no longer work. I guess we’ll have to return to Australia…

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