Hey look-it, I'm on the TV!

So it seems my face has now graced (or disgraced, perhaps) North American television. Some folks from DMG Productions were in the lab a while ago gathering footage for a segment on IQC for Innovations with Ed Begley, Jr. Though my supervisor fielded the actual spoken material, you can spot me in the background of various “action shots” discussing clearly very important things™ with students and colleagues.

Here's the segment in question, first broadcast on Discovery Channel, May 25, 2015.

I've similarly been on Australian TV before, so that makes two continents that have had to deal with my mug on air.

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A new beginning: Relaunching my website

Some time ago in a far off land, I kept a website. It was a cozy little website, housing a few bits and bobs that I had made and thought to share should other people find them at all useful. It was hosted with my ISP, accessible via a free domain, which made things cheap and easy for me, but also meant that if I were ever to move I'd have to find a new host, or lose my site.

Of course I moved and I lost my site. This was a couple of years ago, now. From then until now I've been meaning to get this thing back up and running at some point, but lack of time and real impetus meant that it didn't happen. Recently I got my butt into gear and began a focused effort to finally get it off the ground, getting myself some cheap hardware and a new domain name for the purpose.

What you see here is the result—welcome to Quantum Furball! Over the next little while I'll be reposting old things (backdated as accurately as I can guess), along with things I should've posted at the time, and I hope to [...]

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My home-built personal video recorder nightmare 2: peace and quiet

After some expensive failed experiments in building a dedicated MythBox out of a MiniITX form factor system, I decided what I really wanted was a quiet machine that would do everything. That is, a machine I could just leave on all the time, downloading, serving, processing, recording... anything. The problem I had in attempting to do this with my regular desktop machine was that my machine was (a) situated only a couple of metres from my bed, and (b) loud. Loud enough to make sleeping anywhere near it uncomfortable.

With the new goal to fix the problem of noise, I bought a new case on my way back from visiting my parents over the Christmas break: an Antec P180. I also bought a new, quiet PSU: an Antec TruePower Trio 550W.

As I work during the day (starting a new year in the lab), all of the following happened over several consecutive nights. I had to spend a couple of nights disassembling everything from the old case and reassembling everything in the new case. It wasn't until some days later that I was finally able to check whether my machine had not only survived the trip home (which, honestly, was [...]

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My home-built personal video recorder nightmare

It started with an impulse purchase. I was browsing Harvey Norman for one reason or another (I was probably in there to buy some overpriced printer ink) when I stumbled across the TV tuner card aisle. I had been digital-TV-curious for a while—this at a time when digital-TV was still fairly recent—and I was in a buying mood, so I bought a single-tuner DviCo PCI HDTV card. It took a bit of effort to get the software right, and I had to also get myself a long TV aerial cable, but it wasn't too long until I got working TV on my computer.

It was at this point that strange and wonderful ideas began to form in my head. Words like “MythBox” and “PVR” and “TiVo” coalesced, loitered around menacingly, and formed gangs that beat up other words like “easy”, “sensible” and “cheap”.

I considered for a moment what I already had to work with. I had an nVidia video card with, supposedly, video out function. I say “supposedly” because, at the time that I tried it, nVidia's Linux drivers were a bit thin on this particular front. TV out would kinda-sorta work, I think, but probably wouldn't [...]

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The return of the claws

A followup to Wolverine claws.

My parents quickly became aware of my creation (that is to say, I told them about it, and they had helped out with a couple of things) and they insisted that “Wolverine” make a similar appearance at Dad's 60th birthday party. The theme of this party was different, but it was craftily crafted (the best kind of crafting) so that my costume would still fit.

Shelved claws.

Now, the thing is, honestly, the claws barely lasted the party they were originally created for. The blocks between each claws were coming apart, and so I had retired the claws to ornamental duty.

But my parents insisted, so I had to bring them out of retirement. To fix the problem of the loose connections between claws, Dad got his fibreglassing epoxy goo and plastered around the blocks to reinforce them. There was a bit of a problem, though, that after the epoxy set the claws were too close together in a couple of spots. A bit of sanding into the wood with a Dremel fixed that, but it also further weakened the structural integrity of the claws.

The claws were worn again for the party, and they worked well [...]

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Wolverine claws

Back in the days around the time of the release of the first X-Men movie on DVD, I heard that the actor who played Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), in order to fully flesh out the sideburn-awesomeness of the character, had to have extra fake hair pasted on his own sideburns around his ears. Being the virile, hairy young man I was (Still am!), I reckoned I would have little trouble growing the necessary fleece. That is, if I ever had the inclination to.

Several years later I was invited to a costume party, the theme being “Superheroes and Supervillains”. This was the perfect opportunity to test my facial-hair-growing power: I decided to go as Wolverine! So over the course of a month the thin goatee I had was joined by big mutton chops.

But that's not what this article is about. The really cool thing about Wolverine, of course, is not his facial hair. (Though, you have to admit, that is a pretty cool do.) No, the really cool thing is his adamantium claws. Now, in this respect, me not having had an adamantium skeleton grafted to my body at some point during my previous life meant that reproducing the claws [...]

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Northern territory tour

Mid-June of 2005, my parents and I were trying to come up with an idea for something to do during my impending summer holidays from study. For some reason having “something to do” during holidays is a good thing, though I can't say I know why that is. Anyway, we came up with a tour of the highlights of the Northern Territory.

We stayed in the flat I use during semester the night before we were to fly out from Brisbane to Alice Springs. Of course, my parents took the double bed in my room, and I was relegated to the spare room with its bed that my feet hang four inches over the edge of. Anyway, with a 5 AM start we rushed to the airport where we got our bags checked, and then waited for an hour or two. It's the thing you do at airports...

Overlooking Alice Springs.

A three hour flight, and at about 11 AM local time we arrived in Alice Springs. It's red out there. And dry. And cold, in wintertime. Of course, where-ever there is the slightest hint of water, the vegetation grows and occludes the red dirt—it's only out in the desert that you [...]

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