Monday, June 27, 2005

Fun with ray-tracing

geometric-genesis, originally uploaded by weissjeffm.

(Click on image to go to Flickr - look at the full-size image)

Here's a little design I made in POV-ray (a raytracing graphics program). I like to play with it, because it can draw 3-D objects on a 2-D canvas, and I can't. I just have to tell it what to draw. The way you tell it what to draw is basically a programming language, which I of course speak well.

In this case, I had it draw a cube (with a slightly mirrored finish). Then I had it draw 20 cubes in a circle, changing the color slightly each time. (I had to remember my trigonometry) Then I had it draw 20 spheres in a circle perpendicular to the other circle. Then I had it do all that again (eight times), making the circles smaller and smaller each time, and also rotating each one a bit more each time. Of course, I had to do some fiddling to make it look pleasing - changing the colors and the angles and what not.

But still, this is just a beginner (me) spending only a few hours on it. The "program" was only about 50 lines of text (not much longer than this blog post).

My image above is mere child's play compared to what the tool is capable of. Check out the POVRay Hall of Fame.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Can't be put any more elegantly than that

Now that all the nation's problems have been solved, the Republicans are now trying to pass that constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, that they've been meaning to get to for a while now.
I could go on about why such an amendment is a stupid idea, but I'm prett sure most of my three readers are with me on this. But I think this quote by NY Rep. Jerrold Nadler sums it up:

"If the flag needs protection at all, it needs protection from members of Congress who value the symbol more than the freedoms that the flag represents."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Pimped my ride

Pimped my ride, originally uploaded by weissjeffm.

I just saw this on I 40 on the way to wilmington.


Sent from my Treo

Pimped my ride

Pimped my ride, originally uploaded by weissjeffm.

I just saw this on I 40 on the way to wilmington.


Sent from my Treo

Monday, June 13, 2005

I am now officially a bitter old crank

Here I am, dashing off angry "Letters to the Editor" as if I was twice my age. Has it come to this already? I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that I'm batting 1000 (which is a little misleading, since I'm 1 for 1)- they printed my letter.

Despite being "more liberal than Ted Kennedy" (to use the Republicans' coinage) Salon has good content. But I also have to admit that even I, being pretty liberal, sometimes think that Salon is a bunch of namby pamby, pussy whiners. At first it was just whining about losing the majority in Congress, the Presidency, the election. But sometimes it seems like they whine about any loss, political or personal. I'm a liberal and a Democrat, but nothing has hurt us politically more than this bullshit attitude of "we must protect everyone from everything". I suspect that some liberals don't care if we turn into a nation of wimps, and are promptly conquered by a tougher but less advanced civilization. I felt I should speak up, because this article was, to me, the embodiment of that pussification.

Dodgeball, of all things, is a cruel mistreatment of our chilren? For pete's sake, it's just a game. So what if some kids lose? There's nothing wrong with losing in dodgeball, especially if it helps you win in life. We, as a society, have to face certain realities. If we eliminate every arena in which weaknesses are exposed and exploited, there's no force to oppose the proliferation of weakness. I have had plenty of personal weaknesses exposed and exploited over the years. It's very unpleasant, I won't deny that. However, what also can't be denied is that the pain motivates. It leads to improvement and strength.

When an addict is getting clean, in agony of withdrawal, everyone knows you don't give him his fix to relieve his discomfort. So why do we give children their fix of unearned praise?

I'm not saying that all pain is good - all the motivation in the world is worthless, if you don't have the tools to improve. I won't sit here and defend the practice of pegging kids with rubber balls and expecting them to become athletic. Motivation is only half of the equation. Someone has to show them how to throw and dodge. They also have to show them the reward they'll get for their efforts. They need a taste of winning.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mmmm... nostalgic

pinball_number_count, originally uploaded by weissjeffm.

I wonder if this video is better known to my generation than something like "Billie Jean". I hadn't seen it in 20-some odd years. Ah Sesame Street. I shudder to think what my life would be like now, if it had never existed.

It's bizarre watching this - I wouldn't have been able to tell you what was in it beforehand (besides a pinball), but it is all still very familiar, even after 20+ years. I had no idea that it was the Pointer Sisters who did the song. It's also strange seeing landmarks like the Golden Gate bridge and Mt. Rushmore. I definitely remember them, but back then it was just a red bridge and a statue of old men's faces. I didn't know they represented something in the real world. Kind of like how I thought Sesame Street songs (like "Letter B", and "Goodness Gracious, 8 Balls of Fur") were all original.


Finally got it done

Fixed sunroof!, originally uploaded by weissjeffm.

I fixed my sunroof! Sweeeeeeet. I am excited to have it available now that it's getting hot outside. And I feel a sense of accomplishment, in tackling a problem that's been plaguing me for so long. I am also disappointed in myself for not attempting this sooner.

The switch broke in October of 2003. The sunroof was, as dictated by Murphy's Law, open when it broke. I had to experiment, touching wires together, creating sparks and blowing fuses, just to get it closed before it rained.

It's an aftermarket sunroof, the Honda dealer wouldn't touch it. The only place that would look at it is in downtown Raleigh. Notice I said "look at", not "fix for a reasonable price". So I filed it away in my ever growing folder of "things that need to get done - eventually". Twenty months passed.

With summer finally here, I decided Saturday it would behoove me to fix it myself, if at all possible. Surprisingly, it turned out to be solvable using only my very very rudimentary knowledge of electrical devices. It may shock some of you to know, that despite working with computers constantly, I have no idea how the electronics work. I barely know the difference between a volt and an amp. I just had to determine what combinations of 5 wires opens and closes the sunroof, and that takes me close to the limit of my skills. I managed to blow only three fuses while doing this. Before you laugh, I had purchased fifteen spare fuses in anticipation of this problem. That tells you the level of confidence I had in myself. Then I had to find a three-way switch. Most of these only take 3 wires. Opening and closing the sunroof requires 5. I managed to find a switch that took six wires. I worked out a theory as to what wire ought to go where, and was very much amused when I was correct. You have to realize that every home project I've attempted has involved trial and error at every step. Case in point, the ceiling fan I installed two weeks ago.

Now the only problem is the switch isn't anchored to the roof, it just dangles by the wires. That means I have to use two hands to work it, which limits me to working it while my vehicle is at rest. It's still a vast improvement. I'll probably attach the switch firmly to the roof, in another two years. Oh yeah, and fix the driver's side door lock that's been broken since August 2001.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Onion volcano

Onion volcano, originally uploaded by weissjeffm.

dinner at kurama's


Sent from my Treo