Monday, January 11, 2010

Ocean Voices

Halsey and I have been hard at work on Roundware this past year. A new version of the server was rolled out, clients for the iPhone and Android are in the works, and a new web-based client was written for our newest project with The California Academy of Sciences.

Today CAS officially announced the launch of
Ocean Voices, an ocean environmental awareness website. Ocean Voices is a collaboration between sound artist Halsey Burgund and marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols.

The idea is to solicit voices from around the world to contribute to an ever-building composition about the ocean and what it means to all of us. You can go to now and start telling us what the ocean means to you. Tell us a story of the last time you were in the ocean or perhaps take a shot at explaining where the ocean comes from.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I know it sounds like a ridiculous idea, and before you say anything, it wasn't mine.

How far will a snowball go when thrown from a trebuchet? In all likely hood, you, dear read, have neither the answer to this question, nor any particular interest in knowing it. But if you can believe it, the desire to know the answer to said question drove seven of my friends and I out to the park on a cold winter's day. Armored with coats and sleds we dredged out to the far reaches of Cambridge's own Danehy Park, ready to brave the elements for the promise scientific enlightenment and certain victory.

What force would drive a man to leave the comfort of his home on a mild winter's day merely for such trivia? Madness you may say. Sadly no. As is the case with everything else on my blog, a friend of mine made an off-handed suggestion and I'm impulsive and easily excited. That friend, Dr. Lisa Flanagan, founder of Flanagan Laboratories (LLC) developed and patented a revolutionary new technology for tracking snowballs in the snow.

Finding a snowball in the snow, since it is itself snow, seems an intractable problem at first blush. The impossibility, though never formally proven with any satisfying rigor, was the dominant opinion in the field until Flanagan's work. The details of the method remain a trade secret, and many skeptics have accused Flanagan of fudging her numbers, but as time goes on, the possibility of accurate snowball tracking increases in popular acceptance.

I submit to you the results from the first field test in video form for easy consumption. The video is provided with subtitles for Haze, who is deaf. In fact, you know what? This video is dedicated to Haze, who took a snowball to the head so that we could all laugh just a little bit harder.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Transitive Relation Limerick

A couple of days ago Randy posted to his blog about going to Limerick, Ireland and also about his Limerick Database project, a great source for some really nerdy limericks. Then last night, Sarah, while cleaning her room, found a really nerdy limerick I wrote about transitive relations. All this, mind you, happening a day after I told Colin that I would make it a point to post to my blog more often.

My blog has regrettably been grossly neglected these past few months. I promise you (and I mean that in the singular sense since I'm fairly certain there is probably only one reader left out there) that this will change very soon. So with out any further, unnecessary back story, here is a limerick to tide you over until I create my next, more substantial post.

If A=B is true
And B=C is too
Transitivity will say
That any which way
If you ever need A, C will do

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What has 6 wheels, 4 feet, 1 motor, and lots of free time?

It's election day, and one topic that is on a lot of people's minds is energy, oil, and clean transportation. What's the solution? Electric vehicles? Car pooling? Bicycles? Skateboards? Randall Munroe and I decided to try all four at once. Here's a quick video of Randy on his electric skateboard holding onto a nylon strap tied to my bike carrying me holding a camera.

This turns out to be an extremely fun, albeit a little bit scary, method of travel. We all have to do our part to conserve energy. If commuting to work this way is what I have to do, well, I'm comfortable with that.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Google Maps developers enjoy extremely long walks through several beaches

It's quite possible that not a lot people reading this post have ever heard of MacDiarmid, Ontario, considering it's so small that I can't even find a population for it. I did find the population of Greenstone, Ontario, the township which encompasses MacDairmid and seven other communities. Greenstone's population is a solid 4,906 people. MacDiarmid is probably among the smaller half being one of four that don't have their own Wikipedia entry. I imagine that this puts their population right around the readership of my blog.

That being said, it's not entirely out of the question that there are MacDiarmid residents reading my blog. Actually it's entirely possible that as soon as this post goes up I will be the first Google search result for MacDiarmid. Especially if I say MacDiarmid enough. Now that I've convinced myself that I'm not totally wasting my time, I'd like to give some navigational advice, if I may, to the people of MacDiarmid.

If you're planning on taking a trip from MacDiarmid to Shebandowan, Ontario, it's a nice, three-hour drive down the Trans Canadian Highway, hugging the shore of scenic Lake Superior. A quick Google Maps look up will provide you with a handy, eight-turn route, and if you leave right after work, you'll be there in time for super.

MacDiarmid has a reputation for being a vacation destination for lovers of the great outdoors. It's likely you may be interesting in planning your Shebandowan trip as a hike or a bike ride. If so it'll probably be pretty tempting to click that new, convenient, little drop down to use Google Map's new walking directions feature. But if you live in MacDiarmid I highly recommend you get a second opinion first. Unless of course you're interested in heading down through the U.S. to circumnavigate the Great Lakes.

The entire walking trip from MacDiarmid to Shebandowan takes a brisk 25 days and 16 hours assuming you don't take any naps or stop for food. It covers 3,203km which is almost 14 times the distance that you'd travel in a car. On your way, you will pass though three U.S. states, take two ferry rides, and visit such major cities as Detroit and Milwaukee. Not to mention two border crossings. Don't forget to bring your passport!

Naively, one would guess that the walking directions from one place to another would be at most as long as the driving directions due to one-way streets and highways that wind around dense areas; this is a bit of city bias speaking. In some cases like these, however, there are un-walkable highways that are the only remotely direct route between two places. Though if you ask me, I'd prefer a little more rough hike through the woods to a 25 day hike with no rest. Maybe Google Maps developers are more adventurous than I am. Maybe they just get more vacation time.

There are definitely pairs of locations that Google considers unable to be connected via walking. I wonder what other kinds trips are possible to walk but have a similarly dramatic factor increase in walking distance. Can anyone find any that are bigger?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Catty Scrap Cannon

A couple of weeks ago I was in Pennsylvania with Jeff and Sean, and you know what that means. Destroying things in order to building things which will eventually be used destroy things. A few months ago Sean got a long and very thick steel pipe in at the scrap yard. He saved it aside until Jeff and my next visit with the plans of turning it into a cannon. This sounded pretty dangerous to me so I, as always, was prepared with my camera, just in case anyone got hurt. Have you ever had the experience of hearing such a loud sound that it actually made you temporarily deaf? I think two weeks ago was my first actual experience with this.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Round written up in the NY Times.

I just wanted to post a quick note that Round has been written up by the NY Times. Here's the article on their website.