Wednesday, April 16, 2008

John's time sink, Issue #1

This post is essentially a copy of an email I sent to a number of deserving victims.

Rather than forward every amusing thing I come across, I saved a few for later recommendation, distilled them, lost or threw away most of them, and decided to inflict what remained on a few of you. I also cleaned out a bunch of old temporary bookmark folders, so there's all sorts of randomness up for grabs.

Feel free to read/watch whatever takes your fancy. I'd be worried if any of you found that all the stuff that amuses me did the same for you. I'm pretty sure there's nothing outright offensive here, though.

Some sciency goodness:

A super shrimp that can detect circularly polarized light and punch through crab-shells or aquarium walls. (A new edition for the monster manual, perhaps)

Colour tile illusion. I didn't believe A and B were the same colour either. I used both a web colour picker, and slid some blocks around in a drawing program to make sure. Sometimes scepticism hurts.
General humour:

Now that April 01 is long gone ,and it's as safe to surf the internet again (well, as safe as it ever is). My pick was Unusual penguins Needs sound, documentary style, work safe.

Web advertising as it should be. Music and sound, but quite work safe.

Vaguely techy / general web stuff:

I admit I'm nerdy enough to think that Tresling would be cool. Probably a great drinking game, until the day after. (Has music, oh does it it have music)
The nerd handbook. This article has quite a few cliches, but some nuggets of truth too.
A comic predicting the future of the OLPC program.
Try this real-quick online quiz. I got 9 out of 12. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. (Actually, there's about a 7% chance you could get that score with a coin toss) Porn star or my little pony?

Weird, but amusing. (But weird)

I've no idea how I came across this story/blog. It's about the tracking down of a drawing some guys dad used to do all the time. It sounds riveting, I know, but I thought it was cool. Here's the first part.

Kids / Parenting related

From the foul mouths of babes. A cool discussion of young kids and bad language. You only have to see what's on mainstream TV now to realise that we need some newer, more offensive swear words, the old ones are getting somewhat passe.

"Why I let my 9 year old kid ride the subway alone". This one is controversial, and I'm not 100% sure on where I stand on this, but I'm certainly leaning towards agreeing with the article writer. I will , of course deny that if any of you call DOCS.

In a similar vein, here's a good video titled "5 Dangerous things you should let your kids do." (TED do great talks on all sorts of things)

What your kids know about science. Real answers from 5-6th graders. " I am not sure how clouds get formed. But the clouds know how to do it, and that is the important thing. ". Sounds about right.

Done, you can go outside and play now.

Recovering photos from a dodgy XD card

I've done data recovery from portable/removable media before, but this is the first time I've done so under Linux.

I used "photorec", which is bundled with "TestDisk", the latter being the main part of the package, however I didn't actually get any images back until I used photorec itself.

It's a simple text based tool which is quite intuitive to use, and available from the repositories, so installing it was a snap. (Search for "TestDisk"). My discovery started with the results of a good old google (surprise surprise), here at

Anyway, I recovered the images from the card, and have re-formatted it, so hopefully it'll be some time before it causes any more problems. Mind you, at 128 MB, that particular card is a bit of a dinosaur, and on the small side.

I'm not sure what actually caused the data corruption. A couple of times I've had the camera lock up when shooting video when the card has been almost full. It's an Olympus C760 using XD, and been a pretty good all round camera.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Stuff to get for the kids

Note to self, inspired by Neil Gaiman's blog:

Look for:
"Odd and the Frost Giants"

Another book:
The Starry Rift (Amazon) via boing boing