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Interesting Links (08-02-28)

There things sure are easy and kind of fun to put together so I’ll try another one.

Camera Tips from an Engineer
I’ve been wondering if companies (and consumers) have been concentrating too much on megapixels. This engineer thinks yes.
Explorer 1
It was the 50th anniversary of the US’s first satellite. I didn’t know they sent a Geiger counter up in it.
Happy Face on Mars
Not a whole lot more to it just a pretty cute picture.
Asteroid Almost Hits Mars
An asteroid almost hit Mars but didn’t. Now we don’t know where it is (although this was expected).
More Mercury Images
Some new pictures from the MESSENGER flyby. I especially like the annotated image to help out people (like me) that can never seem to find what people are talking about.
Henry Rollins on Evolution
Nice to see the Liar Liar guy seems to have his head on straight.
18′ Shark Surprise
Pretty cool video of a big six-gill shark.
Potential Presidential Science Debate
Sounds like a good idea and it’d be in Philadelphia so maybe I could go.
Evolving Virtual Creatures
Interesting examples of applying evolution to create virtual creatures that fulfill tasks like fast movement, grabbing a ball and fighting each other.

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WP_MonsterID Update (Hand Drawn Monsters!)

Updated MonsterID Icons

I just updated my MonsterID plugin with great monster artwork from Lemm who out of the blue emailed me with artistic very cool sketches of every monster part. I was just saying I wished I had gradients in my monsters and now I have honest to goodness hand-sketched monsters. Man the internet is great. The new version is a little processor intensive so it might take a few reloads to get all the monsters cached on a popular post but it will only happen the first time and things will be quick after that (and I set it so no one user should have to wait more than 5 seconds). They sure look great once they’re generated. Lemm’s about page says she does some freelance work, so if you’re looking for a great illustrator, it sure looks like she can draw.

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Interesting Links (08-01-23)

I think it’s supposed to be some sort of blogging shortcut but I kind of like when a blog I read posts interesting links they’ve found recently. So I thought I would start doing a few posts like that of my own. I’ll gather up links I think are especially interesting and once I get five or so dump them in to a post. Feel free to read or delete as you please.

MESSENGER Images of Mercury
The Messenger space probe passed by Mercury recently. I hadn’t realized that most of Mercury has never been seen. It’s pretty cool that we get to see images of a new world almost as quickly as the scientists working on it.
That Stupid Bigfoot on Mars
This one has been going around the internet. If you missed it, there’s a rock on Mars near one of the rovers that looks like Bigfoot. The “Bigfoot” thing is pretty silly (although Sasquatch was the first thing I thought when I saw the picture) but that post shows the really cool and huge panorama it came from.
Donald Knuth and LaTeX
I like LaTeX so I found this bit of history about Donald Knuth coming up with the software pretty interesting.
Bioluminescence and Squid Video
I just found out about all these TED talks being online. Pretty handy when you don’t have a TV. This one is about five minutes long and has a bunch of videos of squid, octopuses and things that glow in the depths.
Pulgasari: The North Korean Godzilla
This is another one resulting from not having a TV. Definitely a less than B grade monster movie but it does provide a good comparison to Cloverfield. The story of Kim Jong-Il kidnapping the director and his wife and forcing them to make the thing sounds like a better story than the movie itself (not that it’d take much). For the impatient, there’s decent monster bits around 27:30, 47:30 and 1:03:00.
Soldering Tiny Components
This is a great video tutorial on how to solder tiny electronic components. Really nicely filmed and very closeup. You can really see what’s going on and the guy sure makes it look easy.
NerdKits
A nice idea by a couple college students to sell kits for learning how to use microcontrollers. They “guarantee that you’ll get your first program written and running”. Unfortunately they don’t have a USB version yet. Sort of a homegrown alternative to EasyPic4.

That’s it for now. That was pretty quick and fun to put together so I’ll probably do some more of these in the future. I hope something on there is interesting for other people too.

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Alternative WordPress Avatar Plugin

Wavatar Examples

Shamus (of DM of the Rings fame) has made his own avatar generating WordPress plugin called Wavatars. They do look pretty good. I like the gradients he uses and the artwork looks pretty nice (almost as good as say monsters or geometric shapes ;) ).

He has some good ideas with automatically adding the icon to the user’s name (I had thought this would mess up the html but now that I think about it should be ok for most blogs) and gravatar support (I suppose they’ll be catching on now that they were bought by the WordPress guy) that I think I’ll implement in my plugins in the near future.

Hopefully we’ll see more automatic avatar generating plugins as they catch on.

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WP_Folksonomy

WP_Folksonomy Screenshot

Aziz of metaBLOG suggests that the new tags in WordPress 2.3 can be used to create a “folksonomy” on WordPress blogs. For those not in the know (including me until a couple days ago), a folksonomy is is the practice and method of collaboratively creating and managing tags to annotate and categorize content according to Wikipedia. Basically it’s letting normal people (versus say artificial intelligence or an administrator) help describe things. For example, adding a tag on flickr or using del.icio.us.

So since WordPress doesn’t currently have anything like a public “Add a Tag” and I haven’t coded a WordPress plugin recently (although I did upgrade WP_MonsterID if anyone is using it), I thought I would code up a quick plugin to see how it works. So here is WP_Folksonomy. It’s fairly basic at the moment but I’d like to get it out there to see if it’s useful and if anyone is interested in it.

Since it uses WordPress’s tagging features WP it’s only going to be compatible with WordPress 2.3 and up.

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