computers suck

Rose plots

source by Dan Anderson:
Enlarged and plotted on a Roland DXY pen plotter: 0.7 mm black pen on design vellum.

Full page:

Even if the 0.7 mm pen is a bit chunky for fine guilloché effects, the plotter output is pretty crisp. Here’s a detail at full resolution:

select this to see the full resolution scan. Original is just under 6 cm wide

Unfortunately, an earlier attempt to print this figure using a fresh-out-the-box 20+-year-old HP SurePlot ¼ mm pen on glossy drafting paper resulted in holes in the paper and an irreparably gummed-up pen. If anyone knows how to unblock these pens, I’m all ears …

goatee-stroking musing, or something

The All-Seeing Googly Eyes of Lisa Frank

… or what you get if you video concentric RGB LED rings and put them out of focus.

No shortage of lens flare here

goatee-stroking musing, or something

Solar Marble Machine at 2× speed

Solar Marble Machine
Solar Marble Machine — click for video

For more details, please see The Solarbotics Solar Marble Machine.

Music: “A New Way of Seeing” (excerpt) – Richard Harvey; © 1979, ICL.


Does what it says on the box …

Does what it says on the box ...

The Solarbotics Useless Box in action.

Instagram filter used: Helena

View in Instagram ⇒

computers suck

The strange world of the 808 Car Keys Micro Camera

They have no viewfinder, no way of focusing, no controls beyond a power button and a multi-function shutter button (and two other seemingly useless buttons). They come with no manual, no readily identifiable manufacturer and you don’t really know what you’re going to get until you turn them on — yet they sell in their thousands. They are the 808 Car Keys Micro Camera.

I first heard about them from This Camera is an Adventure on MetaFilter, then someone suggested one as a solution to my Halfbakery idea “Tiny high quality digital camera”. So I bought two:

  • a #3 from ebay seller liangmin9888. Total cost $14.59 shipped from Hong Kong.
  • a #16 from ebay seller elehomegood. Total cost $40.99 shipped from Hong Kong.

I chose these sellers for their high reputation, and they didn’t disappoint. The cameras? They’re no Leicas.

The #3 is supposedly the best of the standard resolution cameras. They have a large yellow timestamp permanently inscribed in the corner of any image or video. The one I have is loaded with lens aberrations, and makes a Lomo look like a view camera. Still, I see some potential in it.

The #16 is a bit better. It still is miles behind my phone camera, and it only takes slightly soft 0.9 megapixel images. No video samples yet, but here’s a squinty picture I took in Lakefield today:

Lakefield, rather wonkily by 808 #16

I do feel a bit self conscious about using such a covert camera, but I’ll see what I can do with them.


lookit them li’l doozers scoot!

We have a lot of tiny snails in the aquarium. The loaches are supposed to eat them, but the tank was snail-free for a long time, and I suspect the loaches have forgotten that these little nodules are tasty.

The snails don’t seem to move much; so little, in fact, that I was convinced that they just basked in the filter’s outflow, and let food come to them. To test this hypothesis, I set up a tripod, my trusty Canon PowerShot loaded with CHDK, and used an intervalometer to take an image every ten seconds for a total of a hundred images. Here’s the result, speeded up 100x:

Plain link (MPG): snails.

Those little dudes really do bop about, if you consider things from their timescale.

How I made this: I renamed the jpeg files 001.jpg … 100.jpg, then ran the command:

ffmpeg -f image2 -i %03d.jpg -r 10 -s vga -b 1200k snails.mp4
goatee-stroking musing, or something

S ♡ C

(Arduino + LoL Shield + hand drawn 14×9 GIFs [, , and ] + this)

o canada

Somewhere between Fallowfield and Smith’s Falls

This is what quite a lot of the train journey between Ottawa and Toronto looks like:

somewhere between fallowfield and smith’s falls

goatee-stroking musing, or something

cold war drives to the pharmacy

goatee-stroking musing, or something

in which Joe re-enacts his mother’s response to his father and sister’s canoe capsizing on the Des Moines River in 1982


goatee-stroking musing, or something

my film debut

Skizz Cyzyk is interviewing me today for his Fred Lane / Raudelunas documentary.


Remember when this video seemed quite nifty?

(I think you need real QuickTime to view it; VLC and others just give up.)

It used to grace the front page of

This, of course, is not to be confused with this somewhat baffling

cars suck o canada

TTC: Platform Video Screen Survey

Take the TTC: Platform Video Screen Survey. Those video screens suck.

o canada

Goodbye, Star Wars Tree

burnt-out mini mall, Kennedy & Eglinton
The mini-mall burned last night. Looks like the centre of the fire was the gift shop in the middle of the block. The rest of the block is pretty badly damaged, though. It looks like the place will have to be rebuilt — or replaced with a condo block, which seems to be the fate of shops in Scarborough.

I hope that noone was hurt.

So, goodbye Yoga’s, with your selection of teas and Sri Lankan groceries. Goodbye Star Milk, the mom, pop and smiley baby store with your VLT in back and dodgy videos over the drinks cooler. Goodbye Poondy Bread, purveyors of that which has paneity. Goodbye Amma, ace Sri Lankan takeout food shop, the place where I developed a taste for really spicy food.

But most of all, goodbye to the gift shop. Even though I never went in there, I’ll miss the sun-yellowed unsold toys in the window; the almost-Transformers and plastic racing cars.

One toy, unsold through two summers, perplexed me most. It was a cardboard tube wrapped in tinsel. Cardboard tags with pictures of Star Wars characters were attached to it with those nylon annoyances you get on new clothes. It resembled more a christmas decoration than a space weapon, which I think it was supposed to be. We called it the Star Wars Tree, and I’m guessing it wasn’t officially licensed from Lucasfilm.

It’s all gone now, washed away by the fire hoses.