Saturday, January 20

My FTP access is back online! If you want to know what I've been up to in the intervening time, check out the comments page from my last post. And yes, the Generation Mars Map is well and truly done, barring a few minor redesigns and maybe a bit of touching up of the text. You can see it here (it's quite a bit file at over 300kb, so it'll take a while to load). If things go unbelieveably smoothly, it's not impossible that 10,000 copies of this A1 sized poster (85 x 60 cm) could be produced in a fortnight's time and be ready for sale internationally for the equivalent of $10 including postage and packaging. In the UK, it could be sold for 5 or 6. If that's not a bargain, I don't know what is considering the fact that it's several times cheaper than pretty much anything else.

And now that that's done, I'm off for a well deserved break.

5:05 PM | permalink | discuss

Friday, January 19

Sorry for the recent lack of updates - I've been a bit busy with work and lectures. Also been working on the new GenMarsMap poster which is progressing extremely well - as soon as I put together all the relevant lat and long lines and shuffle the map about a little, I should have a screenshot ready for you.

12:07 AM | permalink | discuss

Wednesday, January 17

Here's a link to an inspired and amusing piece of computer animation called Pump Action - I first saw this when I was in Canada on a SIGGRAPH 2000 videotape (along with a whole load of other mind-blowing stuff - some of which was on the video! Har har har, etc. etc. Ahem. I'll be quiet now). This one, while not being the most technically sophisticated, managed to stick in my mind, which is what counts.

You can tell I'm bored because...

The radio-controlled atomic clock that's sitting above me does an interesting thing. It has an LED displaying whether it's receiving the radio waves or not, and as the little stylised waves count up, the 'AM' sign gets progressively darker. Weird.

If your fountain pen has just run out and you urgently need to squeeze some more life out of it, don't simply do the old-wives' tale of shaking it vigorously. Instead, use the scientific method of unscrewing the bottom to reveal the cartridge and giving it a few flicks to drive the ink into the nib, then shake it vigorously. This Works Well, and you can easily write for a minute or two more.

5:56 PM | permalink | discuss

Just saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon at the local Warner Village cinema. I don't think I can recommend it highly enough, it's a truly incredible and stirring movie that really did move me. Wonderful cinematics, wonderful choreography and excellent plotting. Finally, and most importantly, at no time during the movie did I know how it was going to end (a friend also felt this was true - I suspect it applies to most people who watch it).

I might add that CTHD is in serious danger of reaching the IMDB top ten in a short time.

Typical university scene While walking home at 11:30 PM: Young man strolling down the pavement with a wheelbarrow carefully leaves it in front of the post-office. He then turns around with his arms at his side and says, 'That's honestly where I found it,' to the policemen in their car parked a little further down the road, who are wearing a tolerant yet amused expression on their faces.

Going to see Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra playing at the Cambridge Corn Exchange on February 2nd.

9:31 AM | permalink | discuss

Monday, January 15

After a fairly boring day of revision and slowly skateboarding around one of my friend's rooms while complaining about work (as you do), I decided to go and give blood.

Giving blood is something that I have always thought is a very good and worthwhile thing to do - for other people, of course. Even so, it didn't take much persuading for me to go along to the local donation centre. After finally finding the place and walking past a hall that seems eerily reminscent of some war-time military hospital with soldiers lying on beds (okay, I'm overblowing it, it was very clean and clinical), we found ourselves in a long queue that was almost entirely comprised of females.

The reason behind this was something that caused much discussion - was it because they had a higher pain tolerance? Were they more touchy-feely and likely to do charitable works than men? Who knows.

Said during a discussion about finding out our blood groups: From a purely personal standpoint, you'd want to find out that you had the universal blood group recipient, right? And if you weren't - if you were the universal donor, then you'd be donating blood constantly to make sure they had enough when you got in an accident.

(FYI, the universal recipient is AB+, the universal donor is O-. I'll be finding out my blood group in six weeks time.)

First, there was the standard questioning about whether we had malaria, HIV, etc etc, and a pinprick bloodtest for anaemia. Then came the real deal which, I'm prepared to admit, did sting a little when they stuck the needle in, but it was hardly earth-shattering - although the speed at which your blood travels down the tubing is a sight to behold.

All done within 15 minutes (giving blood, that is. Waiting around and being questioned took at least another hour) and we were off to claim our free orange juice and biscuits, then hastily made our way to the nearest take-away in order to ostensibly build up our blood glucose levels by consuming large amounts of carbohydrates. In conclusion, definitely something to consider doing but bear in mind that you might have to wait around for a bit. Ideally, bring a few friends or a good book. Oh, and if you're scared of needles, it might not be a good idea to go.

On the Mars front, I've finally discovered something I've been searching for for months - a high quality, full colour map of Mars. And not only that, but 3D elevation and texture maps of several Martian landmarks. All of this courtesy of Adrian Lark, creator of Mars3D. To say that I'm pleased would be an understatement, as this means that I can start work on putting together a kick-ass Mars map. Needless to say, I'm seriously considering replacing the standard Generation Mars poster with this since it's shaping up to be something highly cool - and even better, something that people will buy. Watch this space...

9:12 PM | permalink | discuss

Sunday, January 14

Generation Mars donation page is now online. 'Course, that's only half the work, I need to start doing some viral mar- ahem, I mean, targeted publicity now. There is a problem with the donation scheme though, in that PayPal has strangely stopped allowing non-account holders to pay or donate money via Web Accept. This fouls things up considerably as it means that you need to register an account before you can pay anything - slowing down the whole process and doubtless dissuading a large proportion of potential donors. Anyway, I decided to let people send cheques via the post as well - after all, many people would probably be more comfortable with that and it's a reassuringly proven low-tech method.

Let's just hope that the enticement of a free CD-ROM and poster is enough to get 1000 people to donate 10 each.

Soon to come: A 'Donate to GenMars' link and/or button for space and Mars enthusiasts to put on their websites. C'mon, I know that there are some webloggers who read Vavatch - you know you want to help me out...

2:38 PM | permalink | discuss