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Archive for the ‘Design and Art’ Category

The BBC writes about “The world’s oldest working planetarium“. The man who built this planetarium must have been very special, very smart and pretty handy – would you tackle such an endeavour?

Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are missing, of course, because they hadn’t been discovered when Eisinga hammered in the final nail in 1781. Even so, it is astonishing: a Baroque theatre for stargazers, crowning the living room of a modest wool comber who lived shortly after the Dutch Golden Age. All told, an unfathomable undertaking considering Eisinga quit school aged 12.

The Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium is the world’s oldest working planetarium (Credit: The Royal Eise Eisinga Planetarium)

Franeker isn’t exactly a household name, even for those of us who, like me, have traveled to the Friesland province in the Netherlands. But the city is not just home to the house of Eise Eisinga, who built the planetarium mentioned in the BBC article, but is also the birthplace of Jan Hendrik Oort, the man who gave his name to the Oort Cloud surrounding the solar system. I am putting Franeker on my list of destinations for a future weekend trip – it would also give me a good reason to drive over the famous Afsluitdijk.

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I like this post from Signal vs. Noise, especially today (yup, it’s my birthday, and I’m… older than 25, let’s say).

The Bedroom, by Vincent van Gogh, 1888.
Get more details by clicking on the picture.

I think the world puts too much focus on the Picassos and the young phenoms. We overlook the Cézannes. The folks who took a while to experiment on getting better and better and who never stopped.

The thing I take from this is that if you find yourself still experimenting in life. If you don’t have it all figured out. If you’re 30, 40, 50, 60 and still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up…

There’s still plenty of room and time to get better. Your peak is still ahead.

Thank you for the encouragement, Nathan Kontny!

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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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