by simon baird

Thursday, July 29, 2010

song of the week is superfast jellyfish by gorillaz

i have this on single track repeat on my iphone

it is a commentary on the numerous evils of fast food

the song dies without the bass though so laptop speakers are NO GOOD for this song. like don't even bother!

delicious lemon pistachio friand type of thing

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

some kind of Maori hip hop crew

They are goin' OFF

"hitch your wagon toaster"

in big letters on the back of a t-shirt this morning:


now that i think about it the last E might have been an A

new cut copy

i quite like it

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

spirit and opportunity

i went to this tonight. really enjoyed it. here are a few interesting facts:
  • every night on mars the temperature drops to -110 degrees C. this temperature would freeze and crack the electronics and machinery so the most important function on the rovers is the heaters. they run at night to keep the temperature above about -30 degrees C.
  • their primary mission is do geological analysis of mars to see if there really used to be water on mars. (rock analysis has proved that there was water on mars).
  • opportunity is still kicking along after 6 years. spirit is currently out of contact (but there's is still hope for it, see below). they were originally expected to last 90 days.
  • the rovers are sent navigation instructions once per day but then move autonomously. they can move about 4cm per second but a range of about 100m per day is safer so that operators can visually see dangers by looking at the previous day's images
  • the rovers are solar powered and have had problems with dust building up on the solar panels. strong winds sometimes blows the dust off, which improves the charging rates
  • spirit lost a front wheel motor in 2006 and has been driving backwards since then, dragging one wheel like a lame paw
  • it got stuck in some soft sand in january. engineers were working on getting it out with some success when the onset of winter meant that there was longer enough battery charge to keep trying (and still have enough power to run the heaters). at some point later it shut down it's radio contact. when summer comes around in a few months from now it might be able to build up enough charge to make contact again, and even (say the more optimistic) finish getting itself unstuck.
  • the routes travelled by the rovers are pretty interesting. spirit has spent a lot of time at 'home plate' which is geologically interesting and thought to be an ancient volcanic hotspring. opportunity has been visiting craters to look at the rock features and is currently on it's way to a really big crater. see here and here. (a sol is a mars day which is just a little longer than an earth day, so each white dot there is like an overnight camp)
  • the landing method is pretty interesting. they come down inside a big cusion of air bags and bounce several times. (you can probably find a video of this on youtube)
  • read more at and and

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ruby: Module extend and include basics

For some reason or another I had never figured out why this kind of thing does't work as I expected it to:
module MyStuff
  def self.static_foo  # <--- does not work!
    puts "static foo"

class MyClass
  include MyStuff

MyClass.static_foo #!> undefined method `static_foo' for MyClass:Class (NoMethodError)
I'd google around for the solution but never quite hit on it.

Long story short, I have finally figured it out and thought I would make this blog post about it. Please see the following example:
 2 module StaticStuff
 3   def static_foo
 4     puts "static foo"
 5   end
 6 end
 8 module InstanceStuff
 9   def foo
10     puts "foo"
11   end
12 end
14 class MyClass
15   include InstanceStuff
16   extend StaticStuff
17 end
19 MyClass.static_foo

For more advanced techniques, see this interesting article by Yehuda about how rails uses three or four stones to kill this one bird. :)

brisbane river bull sharks?

no-one told me about this...

no big deal right?

not so fast:


Monday, July 05, 2010

he's like the good will hunting of conway's game of life...

Found out about this on good game, of all places...

So this guy has thrown this up on the Game of Life forum and stunned the Conway's Game of Life boffins.. :) Please enjoy the following expression of the purest of geek enthusiasm (and see links below for more info):

That, if it works as you claim, is undoubtedly the single most impressive construction so far in Life. We'll have to verify it, of course, but that would be the 13th spaceship velocity in Life attained so far. Moreover, you should be able to trivially modify the configuration to achieve an infinite series of spaceship velocities.

And it replicates in only 34 million generations?! The best estimate so far for a typical UCC-based Life replicator was 10^18 generations. I see that you have removed all but the bare minimum -- that is probably the simplest possible self-replicator, and very elegant, too.

I thought that we might see these things appearing by about 2020, but you are a decade ahead of your time! Well, congratulations -- you have single-handedly beaten the collaborative effort between myself, Dave Greene and Paul Chapman to realise a Life replicator. I see that you have opted for an active loop of gliders, rather than a passive tape. Wise decision -- the replicator only takes linear time, not quadratic time. And -- no, way! -- it cannibalises its parent configuration! So, it is an actual spaceship, and not a puffer.
> You should enter this in the Pattern of the Year contest.
Pattern of the Millennium, more like!