Category Archives: Out there

Pale Blue Dot

This three-minute speech – Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” – was the finale to the original Cosmos series, and stands in my mind as one of the most moving short speeches I’ve ever heard. Voyager 2’s last glimpse back at the earth as it became the first human craft to exit our solar system provided the backdrop and the inspiration for Sagan’s soliloquy. Seeing it in 1980 marked a dawning of cosmic awareness for me as a young teen.

Tonight we watched the finale of Neil de Grasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” reboot. Tastefully, the series finished with Sagan’s original Pale Blue Dot audio, set to new (and far more gorgeous) visuals.

Every week for 13 weeks we’ve gotten together with another family and hung on every word, absorbed as much as we could, and tried to help our children appreciate as much as possible of these incredible perspectives on life, the universe and everything.

It is impossible to summarize the hugeness of the undertaking in producing the new Cosmos, or of the impact it has had on us. It has truly been the TV event of the decade for us, and I hope the seeds it has planted will continue to grow in Miles’ heart for the rest of his life.

Maker Faire 2014

Another year at the Bay Area’s greatest assemblage of welders, hackers, crocheters and other makers – haven’t missed a Maker Faire yet! Crowds actually weren’t as bad as anticipated, though the overall danger level does seem to go down a bit year after year (or maybe our perceptions are changing?)

Loved this jet engine transformed into a musical instrument:

And the Inflatable Forest:

And the Canjos:

Biggest disappointment for us is that the Cyclecide collection seems to get smaller every year. Only one bike-powered carnival ride, and none of the usual freak bikes available for the public to ride – we look forward to those more than just about anything. They did bring back the Spanking Bike though! Here’s M enduring some self-inflicted anguish:

Still, got to witness the great El Pulpo Mecanicco, doing its Busby Berkeley meets Burning Man thing. The heat radiating off its tentacles was almost too much to be near.

Here Miles plays Ode to Joy on eight well-connected zucchinis, jacked into a Makey-Makey board, connected to laptop via USB. Scratch app process changes in electrical resistances into musical notes.

Not to mention the return of Arc Attack – 50,000 volt tesla coils jamming with a live band, as kids dance safely in Faraday cage.

Never gets old! So much creativity on display, endlessly inspiring.

Flickr set:

Can Science Ever Be “Settled”?

Over the years, I’ve been engaged in many discussions wherein people suggested that because scientific understandings change over time, that science is therefore no more trustworthy than any other means of understanding the universe. This article does a fantastic job of explaining what it means for the science in some realm to be “settled.” A must read!

Can Science Ever Be “Settled”?

inflation

h/t Mike Knapp

Tilden Loop – GoPro

Wonderful three-mile loop through the heart of Tilden Park in the Berkeley Hills. Up Meadows Canyon, down on Curran Trail, then back along the Gorge trail. Mountain biked with a helmet-mount GoPro.

The actual ride was around 20 minutes. The first two minutes of this are edited down from the uphill – I left the downhill mostly intact.

The complexity of the foliage and the fast motion make the video codecs really struggle – wish I could show you the uncompressed original.

Schmidt Lane Descent

Five-minute descent through the Hillside Nature Area in El Cerrito CA (our family affectionately calls the area “Schmidt Lane” for the name of the street you enter from).

Shot with GoPro Hero3 Black + helmet mount, edited in the new GoPro Studio software. Sorry about the abrupt music ending – Studio currently has no audio envelope controls.

Ironically, I wiped out on the way going up and wracked my knee, though managed to stay upright on the descent :).

Music: Can – One More Night (Ege Bamyasi)

Expoobident

In 1960, trumpeter Lee Morgan recorded an album with the bad-ass title “EXPOOBIDENT,” an adjective which I take to mean some combination of excellent, expedient, and faboo. I kind of started saying it a lot over the past few years, not sure why. Today Miles asked what it meant, and of course it was tough to explain. Googling, found that expoobident.com actually already exists – a placeholder site for jazz reference. Only almost all of the text on it is lorem ipsum. Which just goes to show how impossible it is to find a good domain name these days.

expoobident

Vimeo vs. YouTube for GoPro Footage

Owning a GoPro camera is a total blast, but having to deal with the ultra-high-def footage and non-standard frame rates it generates forces you to think of details you might not have had to think about before. And beyond that, of course you want to show off all that pixel clarity. Watching one of your clips on the desktop is a jaw-dropping experience; watching it again after it’s been uploaded to the web is comparatively disappointing. But hosting the original files on your own server isn’t a very nice option either.

After spending the day with a GoPro on my head at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk yesterday, tried uploading one of the clips to both YouTube and Vimeo, and you can check them both out below for sake of comparison (try both of them full-screen).

Here’s the Vimeo version:

Double Shot, Santa Cruz Boardwalk w/GoPro Helmet Cam from Scot Hacker on Vimeo.

Since Vimeo is known for having the highest quality, it’s no surprise that the Vimeo version has less pixelation and more retained detail. But I’ve got seven clips to upload, and have to “wait for my week to reset” before I can upload more high-def footage, unless I spring for the “Plus” version at $10/month. Otherwise I have to wait for Wednesday to roll around if I want it free.

And here’s the YouTube version:

I don’t mind paying for services that provide quality, but $10/month is kind of steep for me, given how seldom I’ll need this ability. Hrmm, what to do.