Category Archives: Interesting

Uncovered Covers: Tainted Love

One benefit of living in a highly musical household is I regularly get to hear cool new performances of old favorites. From time to time when I hear a really good cover I end up doing a bit of digging into the origins of the song. From this I got the idea for an occasional feature post that I’m going to call Uncovered Covers.

Recently Sally picked up the album “With a Twist” by the excellent a cappella group Straight No Chaser, one of the tracks is a great cover of “Tainted Love”. We were telling the girls that the original version was popular when we were much younger, so I pulled out the tablet and hit the net. Continue reading Uncovered Covers: Tainted Love

TEDxDesMoines 2013

Laith Google Glass
Photo Credit: Ben Curtis

Back in early September I had a chance to attend our local TEDx event TEDxDesMoines.

During the sessions between speakers I had a chance to see a some cool technologies being demonstrated, including a 3D printer.  I also got to try the Oculus Rift.

But the best demo I was able to do was try out Google Glass. It was really cool, but I had few problems with it.

  1. Without my glasses on the screen ended up very blurry.
  2. It seemed a bit laggy in reacting to touch actions
  3. The demo model had issues with the ambient noise in the hall.

I think the lag may have been related to the tether that was used to mirror the display on a projection screen. The second demo model didn’t have the mirror setup and seemed more responsive from what I gathered from other participants.

I had to leave the event a bit early but the talks I heard were really good.


You can check out the rest of the event talks at the YouTube playlist.

If you have the opportunity to attend one of these events take it!

Here is Jessica Wachter’s excellent talk.

Old Dog, New Tricks

English: Black dog lying on the floor – "...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As part of my recent activities I’ve just started a design class on Coursera.  I am taking the free, eight week class, Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society, taught by Karl T. Ulrich of the University of Pennsylvania.

Part of the class includes posting our homework assignments to a personal website for peer evaluations each week.  I have set up a new WordPress blog for the classwork here.

Since the class only started today (last night) there isn’t anything here yet and I do not expect to post until probably Sunday.

So as the next eight weeks progress feel free to give it a look, I’ll update my ramblings if I have anything that feels especially worthy of sharing.

I can’t really top this post about this great event. So here it is!

Travel Between The Pages

More than 1,400 museums and cultural institutions across the United States will be offering free admission during the eighth annual Museum Day Live! on Saturday September 29, 2012. Sponsored by the Smithsonian magazine, the event invites participation institutions to get on board with the free admission policy of the Smithsonian museums, if only for a day.

Visit the Museum Daywebsite to find a museum or cultural attraction in your area and be sure to download the required free tickets.

I’m hoping to get to Philadelphia’s fantastic Rosenbach Museum and Library and the National Constitution Center.

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Perseid Meteor Shower [Astronomy Quick Post]

A crop and enhacement of a Perseid Meteor I ca...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good afternoon all,

The annual Perseid meteor shower is going on this weekend. So far based on reports from last night, this year is looking to be a great show.

The meteor shower peaks tonight and tomorrow (8/11 – 8/12), I’m hoping to get the girls outside to see some of it.

There are a number of good resources for this astronomy event, like this one from JPL. The most important thing to remember is just look at the sky, if you focus too much in one part of the sky you will miss it. This is really an eyes only event, using binoculars or a telescope limit your field of view too much greatly decreasing your chances to see any meteors.

Good luck and clear skies.

Curiosity and blog posts

Curiosity Touching Down, Artist's Concept
(Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

Good evening all,

I just posted about the Mars Curiosity Rover over at How To Grow Your Geek. Head on over and check it out!

Also yesterday I was thrilled to find that following up on my being added to the winners list for the Illuminating Blogger Award, one of my posts on the Venus transit back in June was selected as the week’s featured post.

The Passing Of A Master: Ray Bradbury ’20 – ’12

Photo of Ray Bradbury.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a sad day for Science Fiction fans and literature buffs alike.
Ray Bradbury, renowned author of many works such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles, has left us at the age of 91.

Like many of us, I remember fondly reading his books and enjoying watching the many film and television adaptations of his works. As his grandson is quoted as saying, that is his legacy, his body of works and them memory of them in the hearts and minds of his fans.

Many others have posted on this topic through the day, my friend Jeff Hite had some good things to say. Including an idea I can really get behind.

I suggest in his honor that you might want to try to write something new today.

You might also want to check out the story at io9, and Michael Hickerson has a good post over at Dragon Page.

Related Stories (updated 6/7/12)

The Venus Transit

Well the Sun has set on June 5th 2012 here in Des Moines, our view on the transit of Venus has passed.

This evening we loaded up the girls and my homemade sun viewer, and headed to the park for a picnic and transit viewing. What started out as a nice clear day ended with some fairly solid cloud cover.

Fortunately, just as we finished dinner, there was a good break in the clouds. We got a good several minutes of strong clear sunlight, perfect for focusing carefully through the viewer.

While we are not completely certain, we think that we were able to find the spot that is Venus as it crossed the disk of the Sun!

A Homemade Sun Viewer

Hey all, in preparation for tomorrow evening’s Venus Transit event I decided to attempt to build a projection style solar viewer. Like the one here.

This afternoon, shortly after work, I ran a quick proof of concept test. It worked fairly well, I think I could see some sunspots.

So here goes, to start with you will need the following.

  • some sort of stand (camera tripod here)
  • binoculars
  • cardboard
  • tape
  • cutting tool
  • pen or pencil

From here the steps are really fairly simple:

  1. Cut a hole in a piece of cardboard to act as a sun screen
  2. Tape the binoculars to the stand
  3. Tape the sun screen to the binoculars
  4. View the Sun!

Do NOT Look Into The Binoculars!!!

Let me know if you build one or are able to see the transit!

Wow, I got nominated for the Illuminating Blogger Award

Illuminating Blogger AwardHey all, as I was sitting down to compose my post earlier for the two astronomy events this week, I found out I was nominated for the “Illuminating Blogger Award”  by N E White (tmso) You can see her post over here.

Per the rules of the award I must provide a random fact about myself, and nominate other bloggers who’s writings I have found illuminating. So here it goes…

Random Fact of Interest (or something)

I started college majoring in Biology (Marine Science), but graduated in Computer Science.

Illuminating Bloggers (wow, how to limit this)

  1. Sheila @ Book Journey ( a great book blog that has inspired some of my projects
  2. Travel Between The Pages ( a wonderful blog full of interesting material. All related to books, just not how you usually think of it.
  3. Jennifer M Eaton ( for lots of interesting writers information
  4. Kathleen Jennings @Errantry ( for her wonderful art but especially her Daleks series, always fun and a great example that you can find inspiration for something amazing anywhere.
  5. Impossible Astronaut ( an amazing collection of great content comes from this blog
  6. I really could keep this list going; N E White (if a bit obvious), J R Blackwell, my friend Jeff Hite it just goes on… there are just so many great bloggers out there.

So here’s to the winners, and other nominees! Keep up the great work all!