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And now for something completely different

As you've no doubt noticed, I've been caught up in Virginia Tech coverage this week.  It feels a little odd changing gears from that, so let's go to the mailbag for highlights from the past couple of weeks to get Clicked back on its more familiar path.

From the 10 Zen Monkeys mailing list:

The first aliens won't come from the stars.  We'll create them in our own labs...  And Professor Alan Goldstein is offering $26,000 to the person who makes it happen. As a nanotechnology awareness campaign, Dr. Alan Goldstein is offering a prize for the first synthetic lifeform created, "to make people aware that creating synthetic lifeforms is not that hard... Many people in many labs are working on it right now, and it will probably occur in the near future."

Hey,
Thanks for all the work on Clicked. I look forward to each posting you do. I was doing my own poking around
and come across this which made me laugh..  The readers' comments are classics. Which led to one poster who uses this…
-Darren

Will replies:  Thanks Darren.  Those pee-standing-up cups for women seem like such a good idea I don't understand why they aren't in port-o-johns like Dixie cup dispensers.  One note for women if you're going to use one: beware that the rate of the cup's output is not exceeded by your rate of input - if you know what I mean.

Fotowoosh, a free tool that automatically transforms standard 2D digital images of outdoor scenes into 3D images launched today as the latest functionality from Freewebs, the company dedicated to ensuring everyone in the world can unleash their creativity through multimedia websites and blogs.

Will points out:  This is the top of a press release.  I haven't tried it yet but the demos are cool.  The trick is basically explained on the "about" page: "If we can determine where the vertical surfaces contact the ground in the image, we can recover the depth of those surfaces (up to a scale), giving us a 3D model."

Hopefully taxes are not giving you headaches right now.  In an attempt to make tax season a little more bearable we've gathered a few humorous quotes about taxes and tied them in with this week's Carnival of Homeschooling.

 I hope you enjoy the carnival.
Best wishes.

Will remarks:  I have to think there are a lot of parents giving new consideration to home schooling this week.

Save Me 2: Stickman City in Flames! - In this great sequel to "Save Me" it's up to you to save the fat stickpeople, pets, televisions, and other odds and ends from the burning skyscrapers in Stickman City. But watch out for the lions, elephants and grenades!

This one's pretty clever. Hope you enjoy it.
-Ralph

Will replies:  Thanks Ralph.  I think I like the asteroids game you sent in better.

Will,
I don't know if you are aware of it, but if you want to see the larger version of someone's profile picture on facebook, but aren't friends with them, just right click (assuming you are using Firefox) on their image, View Image, then in the browser link change the "s" into an n as in: 
this becomes this.

Just a trick of the trade I picked up I dunno where.
-Alex

Hi there ...
In August last year you posted one of my entries in clicked and so I thought you might be interested in considering one of my more recent very popular posts.

Grow your own potatoes without the need for a garden.

Thanks,
Allen

Will replies:  Allen, that potato barrel is the coolest.

Wow - not many good things to say today, but I did find a spot-on article which summed up a lot of feelings toward really annoying computer issues.  I think they hit all of my hardware and software complaints (esp Apple ITunes, Norton AV, and Quicken, none of which I use anymore for these exact reasons!).

-Eric the Read

Will adds:  Eric sent this mail on the 16th, the day of the VT shooting so that's what he's talking about in that first sentence.  The article is  The 20 Most Annoying Tech Products and since one tech trend that really annoys me is "pagination" (having to turn the digital page to read more) here's the print version with the whole list on one page.

Hi Will,
Here's a great link regarding toilets.  Thought you'd get a chuckle...

'Toto's Z-series toilets recalled due to fire hazard'
 
-Dan

Hey Will,
Not sure if this fits with the 'Clicked' oeuvre but being a fan of
oddball Japanese monster movies I had to send it in. Someone actually wrote an after the fact theme song to a somewhat obscure (and incredibly weird) movie called "The X From Outer Space" and it got posted to Youtube with clips from the film. What makes this work so well is that the whole thing is played straight, it has an almost melancholy feel to it.
-Sean

Will replies:  All I want to know is where I can get one of those suits.

My meatless edition of the Carnival of the Recipes is ready for your consumption. Thanks to everyone for your delectable contributions and please help spread the word!
Cheers,
Mike

Will:
Background: Malaysia is multi-racial - 52% Malay, 30% Chinese, 8% Indian. The chinese have always run the businesses and economy in Malaysia, but that has been changing in the last 30 years, due to continuing government-initiated affirmative-action programs called the New Economic Policy /2020, that favors the Malay majority.

Most of the first part of the rap is in chinese dialects -mandarin, cantonese, maybe teochew, etc, which I quite understand.

Towards the middle around 2:39, it is in Malay, the official language of the country, and - is a veiled criticism of racism against the chinese, by people who want them to go back to China" (China balik china)

- there are also criticisms and racist rants by the singer/author against the Malays. (Melayu)

- reminder that Malaysia wouldn't be Malaysia without it's multi-racial identity.

etc.

I was born and grew up, in Malaysia, and I can empathize completely with the author....

Will reminds:  He's talking about this rap song.

Will,
2 of my favorite things
have been combined, and I thought you might like to tell the world about it.........

I am really looking forward to the 1 of the ideas mentioned in the comments; having a dance party w/ everyone getting their own wiimote. They do something similar @ Bonnaroo w/ the private disco.

Everyone gets their own headphones and listens to 1 of a few DJ's who are perfoming and basically get to dance to their own internal music.
-Craig

Will explains: The link is to a video demonstration of a looping machine answering to a Wiimote.  So you move the Wiimote to get different sounds and have them loop at different speeds and it starts to sound like techno music. It looks a little awkward, but I can see how it might catch on.  Regarding the headphone idea, I always though it would be cool for there to be a dance club that used sound direction technology to point the music at people individually.  (I just Googled it and I think what I'm talking about is called "focused sound."

In time for a new MLB season, a little public service announcement for why not to have to many beers at the ball game.
-Jason

Will replies:  I guess he's lucky he passed out or he'd have been actually driving that drunk.  I was a little disappointed they didn't let the engine seize if only to hear what that sounds like.

Your post on dual photography came the same day I got a post up about Hybrid Photographs. I'm not very good at this technique yet, which involves stripping the high frequency information from one photo, the low frequency information from a second, and merging the two photos. The result is that, close up, you see the high frequency image, but far away, the high frequency image blurs to nothing and the low frequency image becomes visible. People sometimes scream if you show them a picture of a man up close and then carry the photograph far away and show them again.

The scientists investigating hybrid photographs as a window on human perception have a web site that demonstrates some amazing examples. One of my favorites is the bicycle that turns into a motorcycle. For the record, I learned about the whole process from a New Scientist article that is available only to subscribers such as myself; from the information in the article I tracked down the web site and then tried to learn what I could do using Adobe Photoshop Elements. I wouldn't be surprised to see software available in a few years that lets you do this automatically.

Thanks for a great column, by the way.

Rob Carr of UnSpace

Hey Will
Here's another great video that has crossed my desk, and by desk, I mean lab bench, because I don't have a desk, being a molecular researcher and all. Oh well. Not sure if you are a Soprano's watcher or not, but this is the final season of the show. After a wild ride of twists and turns, the series is coming to an end. So, what better way to catch up on all the memories from the past seven seasons than with the
7 Minute Sopranos video.

As with the show, there is some cursing, but it's edited in such a way that it flies by and is pretty amusing, despite the rather unsavory plot lines that play themselves out.
Anyway, hope you enjoy it. Happy Friday!
Scott

Will replies:  Thanks Scott.  This is really well done, but I think you've got to be familair with the show to be able to follow it.  In that way it works well as a "what a long strange trip it's been" piece.  It'd be cool if they add on the last season when it's all done.

Will -
I stumbled across
this site earlier today that may be of interest to you It gathers personal info of bloggers from any number of sources, including phone numbers and addresses, and reposts it in a one-stop-shopping-for-stalkers kind of way. At best, it's a misguided venture; at worst, a malicious one.

They claim that they'll take down personal info when asked (they're the YouTube of personal information, I guess) - I asked them to remove mine, so we'll see.

All the best,
Jeff

Will replies:  Jeff, I can see the creepy angle, but I can also see how it could be a handy Web convention.  It could be like a phone book where everyone can control their own entry by creating an "about me" page that is eventually scraped by the database.

Will, maybe you can help clarify this discussion on my blog,  Did the media get this wrong? Are these really flares, or is it something else?

Almost every MSM site is reporting this as flares - but we're (mostly) just not buying it.

Thanks for the help,
Rob

Will replies:  For all matters space I always refer to my man Alan Boyle.  He got word from Chris Faranetta of Virginia-based Space Adventures, the company that put billionaire Charles Simonyi on the rocket pictured. Chris confirmed your explanation.  Not flares but support structure being retracted.

Will,
I just ran across
this site and thought you might find it interesting.
Pat,
Louisville, KY

Will replies:  Thanks Pat.  I'm not much of a celeb watcher but it's a cool idea.  It reminds me a little of the Blogpulse name watcher.