Digital Blasphemy Blob Animation

About 12 years ago, I became a big fan of the art of Digital Blasphemy — digital artwork that was quite impressive for its time. I was a member, and downloaded every bit of media I could get my hands on. One of my favorites was a short video clip of an abstract undulating blob, which repeated a few times.

Although I had made up my mind to convert it to an infinitely-repeating GIF, I lacked the tools to do so. Then I forgot about it, until today. Of course, today it’s so easy; VirtualDub made it child’s play, and there are many other free tools that would have made equally short work of it. But here is the result, in what (I think) is its native resolution.

Not bad for 1999.

Sort A Directory and Subdirectories By Date

It’s easy to sort a single directory by date in Linux with the ls command. Here’s how to sort a directory and its subdirectories by date:

find Music/ \
| xargs -d"\n" -i{} \
echo "stat --printf="%y\t%z" "{}" \
&& echo "\t{}"" \
| sh \
| sort

If piping arbitrary text through the shell makes you nervous, try it without the |sh |sort beforehand.

A Few Good Oil Companies

(With apologies to Aaron Sorkin)

BP: You want answers?

America: I think I’m entitled to them.

BP: You want answers?

America: I want the truth!

BP: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that needs energy. And that energy has to be produced by men with drill rigs. Who’s gonna do it? You? Obama? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for the Gulf of Mexico and you curse the oil companies. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that the drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, while tragic, produces energy. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, produces energy… You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that drill. You need me on that drill.

We use words like mud, blowout, top-kill… we use these words as the backbone to a life spent producing something. You use ’em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to people who rise and sleep under the blanket of the very energy I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up an engineering degree and produce your own energy. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

America: Did you order the drilling to continue?

BP: (quietly) I did the job you sent me to do.

America: Did you order the drilling to continue?

BP: You’re goddamn right I did!!

Goodbye: An Open Letter to Make Magazine

Dear Make Magazine,

It’s over. I’m done with you.

I like the idea of a magazine dedicated to DIY culture, but (as of late) the “Maker Revolution” is to “the next industrial revolution” as “breast implants” are to “inner beauty”. I’ll admit: you have your moments now and then. But, standards have fallen; currently your magazine is at best a tribute to mediocrity, and at worst it’s a cargo cult.

For me, the last straw was Save My Oceans Upcycle Contest, Win an iPad, reprinted here. To raise awareness of water contaminated by decomposing plastic, you promote it with a DIY project that puts plastic in water. Apparently you’re under the impression that plastic intentionally placed into a body of water is not the same as global pollution. Whether that’s explained by you (and the rest of the community) being evil, ironic, or just plain ignorant of science, I don’t want any part of it.

Also, the fact that the reward in this contest is an iPad — from a company whose policies are 100% at odds with the DIY culture you claim to represent — is really incongruous.

Here are 5 other significant factors that made me lose faith in Make.

Continue reading

An 800 Watt Inverter Can Power An Oil Burning Furnace

Google searches on this subject were not very enlightening, but I can now say from experience that an 800-watt inverter attached to a car battery is able to power 2 oil burners (furnace and hot water heater), with enough juice left over for a sump pump, cable modem, router, hub, and laptop.

It helps if the car is idling; my car has been idling for at least 6 hours and I still have more than half a tank. With the car off, I’ve read that you’ll only get 20-30 minutes of power.

I can make no claim on the suitability of inverted power for your oil burner over the long term. Also, rewire your house at your own risk.