Sunday, August 31, 2008

Britney in the 4th dimension

Today's vigil in Mexico was impressive and massive (unlike the few dewds at Tibet's vigil last month)... I can't help but to think about the darker side: how many cars of people attending that vigil may have been vandalized or stolen? I've always said that Andre Breton was absolutely right: "Mexico is the most surrealist country in the world". But I must be honest, you need a certain degree of surrealism to understand the 4th dimension.

britney spears' guide to semiconductorsIf Britney Spears can understand semiconductor physics, I don't see why it could be so difficult for me to imagine a 4th dimension in space. I'll have to find some time to read Edwin Abbott's "flatland" since it is the main reference to understanding a 4th dimension, and Britney only helps in understanding and visualizing curved surfaces... or just "visualize" some videos about that. In fact, it all started when I was looking at Persistence of Vision Raytracer (POV-Ray) and found this amazing movie:

Dimensions: A two hour movie made in POV-Ray!

Jos Leys, working with Etienne Ghys and Aurélien Alvarez (both mathematicians from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Lyon, France) produced a two hour movie in POV-Ray which explores in beautiful visuals the concepts of dimensions and mathematics.

View the trailer, then head over to the Dimensions website where you can download all 9 chapters or purchase it on DVD for the very reasonable price of 10 Euros (which, as a non-profit project, covers the cost of production and includes worldwide shipping!). The project is released under a Creative Commons license (see site for details).

dimensions movieA spoken commentary is available in French, English, Spanish and Arabic on both the DVD and the downloads, with subtitles provided in Arabic, Dutch, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian. Instructions on how to use the subtitles are available on the website, which also includes pages with more detailed explanations on the topics in the different chapters of the project.

Check out and support this fantastic project and send in some feedback and comments!

Maybe because I'm already a bit familiar with Adrien Douady's rabbit and fractals... that I got more interested on Ludwig Schläfli's 4th dimensional polytopes. They are stunning! I've seen the hypercube (tesseract) before, but never actually put much attention into that... or even tried to draw my own hypercube! I was living my life as a simple flatlander, now I'm becoming like Escher's lizards. See you in the 4th dimension, dewds!

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Friday, August 29, 2008


I realized why I don't like personality quizzes: I always get weird results. Where's all that money then???

What Your Taste in Music Says About You

Your musical tastes are reflective and complex.

You are intellectual to the point of being cerebral.

You are very open to new experiences, and even more open to new ideas and theories.

Wisdom and personal accomplishment are important to you.

You are naturally sophisticated. You are drawn to art, especially art by independent artists.

You are likely to be financially well off... and not because you were born that way.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Captcha free captchaSeems like the reign of terror of the spam-bots attacking Special Kiwis are over! After trying out several captcha systems, I finally found one that actually works, was very easy to install, and best of all... it is free!!! ProtectWebForm has a free protection service for online forms and e-mail addresses too. Yes, this post is just some sort of advertising for, but it's the least I can do to thank those guys for their free captcha service.


CAPTCHA Service. Protect Web Form!
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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Waste management

calcomanias NZSo, what's with those recycling numbers on plastic items? There's always confusion about what they mean and specially about their use... specially because there are also other symbols. For example, the "green dot" (Der Grüne Punkt) does not mean that a packaging can be recycled at all! It's just a fee that some German companies pay to put that label on each packaging, so that the "Duales System Deutschland GmbH" collects the empty containers on their behalf, regardless if they are going to be recycled afterwards or not. Such is the case of tetrapak for example (which is a product with horrible environmental credentials by the way).

A couple of weeks ago, we saw a TV program about food packaging, and it's just terrible that a spokesperson of either the health department or the plastics industry, made a terrible mistake saying that those numbers can be used as guideline on how safe it is to use plastic containers on a microwave. Wrong! That's one of the categorical "dont's" on the SPI information video! The number codes are only for recycling (sorting out) purposes. They can't be a guideline for consumers about health risks, simply because many resins are not used in its pure form. Many plastics are engineered to meet specific needs, they are combined with other chemicals to produce the desired qualities i.e. they contain additives, stabilizers, colorants, etc. in different amounts which are not described or stated on that ID number code. The code only serves to identify the "main" resin used in a product for sorting purposes, and nothing else. "That is all they tell us. The numbers found on bottles or containers ... do not indicate the safe or intended use for a product, and they should NOT be used for that purpose. This is false, and potentially harmful misinformation". Let's have a closer look at what they really are:

The plastics recycling number code system or "SPI resin identification code" was introduced in the United States by the Society of the Plastics Industry in 1988 "at the urging of recyclers around the country. A growing number of communities were implementing recycling programs in an effort to decrease the volume of waste subject to rising tipping fees at landfills." Almost 90% of all packaging and "throw away" plastics products are made out of only 6 kinds of resins. An arbitrary ID code numbering system would make it quite easy to identify those 6 resins and a 7th code was introduced as a "catch all category" for other kinds of plastics (the remaining 10%). To date, not every state in the US nor all countries have recycling strategies for all 6 kinds of resins, but it still makes it easier to separate which one is which, facilitating the eventual recycling: "If there is a readily identifiable supply of a given material in the waste stream, it may drive recycling entrepreneurs to explore means of recovering that material in a cost-effective manner." Categories 1 and 2 (PET and HDPE) represent 96% of all bottle containers consumed in the USA!

Recycling No. Abbreviation Polymer Name
PETE or PET Polyethylene terephthalate
HDPE High density polyethylene
PVC or V Polyvinyl chloride
LDPE Low density polyethylene
PP Polypropylene
PS Polystyrene
OTHER Other plastics, including acrylonitrile butadiene styrene acrylic, polycarbonate, polylactic acid, nylon and fiberglass.

Due to an increased interest in recycling in the last years, the code system has been already expanded to other materials and it will be probably be updated very soon to meet the recent developments in packaging and new materials like bioplastics. (Hemp products will probably be labeled with # 69 TEX dudes!) ABS was formerly labeled as #7 (other) and now it has a category of its own #9 or #ABS although some sources say that some manufacturers are using a "zero" code for ABS causing confusion with the proposed "zero code" for polylactic acid (PTA). Because the 7th group includes thousands of plastics and many of those already have potential for recycling (like PTA), many companies are labeling them with no group number, just the name abbreviation below the arrows, until a new ID numbering code is developed to include a wider variety of resins and materials.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hello, I'm bored tonight

Alex Dragulescu's spam architectureA malicious spam-bot has been attacking our feedback forms for the last couple of days, sending a new spam message every half an hour... how annoying is that! Alex Dragulescu found a way of making something useful out of junk e-mail. Using a special computer program and (I imagine) some complicated algorithms, the program translates patterns, keywords and rhythms found in the text of those junk e-mails into three-dimensional modeling gestures. So there you go, this is how messages like: Cheap Viagra and Cialis, repl1ca w4tch3s Rolex, cheap canadian medications, nude pics of Vanessa Hudgens, next month's playboy cover features Chelsea Clinton, Get Obama's tools, homeric superficial rangoon instalment bliss, Rapper 50 Cent To Be John Mccains Choice For V.P., or 25% discount on your flute... may look like when put to better use.


Update: Thanks to, I finally managed to install a free captcha protection service on our contact forms. If you have a similar problem, I recommend you their service.

CAPTCHA Service. Protect Web Form!
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I ain't freakin', I ain't faking this...

It's like totally un-hot! How "they" expect to stop piracy, when big corporations, law enforcement, multinational advertising agencies and even countries are this is not a duck"friggin' fakin' it"? Of course the recent news about the olympic mass deceptions: the olympic torch supposedly reaching the fake top of the Everest, the CGI faked firework footprints, and the lip-syncing because the original singer was too ugly (something like the story of milly-vanilly) are just examples of how vulnerable is mass media to fake information. Seems that we are still just as naive as those people who thought Orson Welles' war of the worlds was a real event. At least the fake Steve Jobs (eventually) had the decency to say he was an impostor, unlike this totally original chinese Duck seen alongside the Fuwa.

Anyway, the winner of the fake cannes lion award is... ta da... you've guessed right! My neighbors at the New Zealand branch of Bitchy and Scratchy: A recent campaign for NZ Telecom features a fake company (McCallum & Partners) as if it was in fact a real client using telecom's business services.

It's not the first time in the history of advertising that the endorsers or presenters of a given product are in fact actors. Take for example Land Transport NZ's curtain side air-bags advertising which features an actress instead of a real injured person... but saatchi&saatchi went a bit too far when they used the name of a fake company. In comparison, the courtain airbag lady remains anonymous. But that's not the worse part... telecom's advert is just a rip-off of a viral video made in England! It's just dishonest to charge a client thousands of dollars for something they just copied from someone else. That's blatant piracy!

Lip Dub - Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.

Next thing you know, Prada or Louis Vuitton will be copying cheap Chinese bags from Costco and selling them as their own! It is unacceptable to charge a client for a creative work, and then copy the main idea from someone else. It's like shame on those Saatchi & Saatchi dudes, they're not hot!


PS. For those looking for the Ting Tings' song, visit their official website or their youtube channel.
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Sunday, August 03, 2008

Kiwis do fly!

The Martin Jetpack was (finally) presented to the EAA 2008 Airventure audience in Winsconsin. I took almost 30 years and lots of kiwi ingenuity to make it come true, from Glenn Martin's early ideas to prototype 9 which achieved sustained flight times, laying the foundation for a viable and successful pre-production.
Martin Jetpack flyingThe Jetpack is such a powerful idea that several people have tried to develop them. The first serious attempts were instigated by the US military in the 1950s. The idea was to build an ultimate 'all terrain vehicle' to move military commanders around a battlefield. The Bell Rocket Belt was the most successful and first flew in 1961. Unfortunately it only flew for 26 seconds, leading Mark Jannot of Popular Science Magazine to say in March 2006… “ I myself was most disappointed to discover that a Jetpack that will burn for longer than 30 seconds is out of reach.”

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