The writing’s off the wall

This is from the Guardian…

The biggest loser of the Commonwealth games, says graffiti artist Banksy, is Melbourne’s street art scene – and London could be next for the whitewash… here is the story Guardian Unlimited Arts – The writing on the wall

Melbourne is the proud capital of street painting with stencils. Its large, colonial-era walls and labyrinth of back alleys drip with graffiti that is more diverse and original than any other city in the world. Well, that was until a few weeks ago, when preparations for the Commonwealth games brought a tidal wave of grey paint, obliterating years of unique and vibrant culture overnight.

I don’t know why he’s suprised, this is a town that doesn’t know how to deal with public art unless it’s Chloe. Back in 2002 in an interview with the the Age, Ron Robertson-Swann claimed Melbourne “had grown up a bit” in it’s appreciation of public art.
Ron Robertson-Swann is the sculptor who created “Vault” otherwise known as “the Yellow Peril”. Now this is a bloke who knows how well Melbourne handles this issue.

The article also notes that

“The City of Melbourne plans to spend $350,000 a year on public art in the next five years. “

It’s a pity that the State Government decided to spend a couple of million wiping public art out. Ironically rather than deal with the works they already have on the walls and buildings they are funding a “Young Artists Showcase” to bring fresh talent to Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games. I rather like

“Innovative, engaging and entertaining works will crop up in unexpected places – along Elizabeth Street and on the Republic Tower, across Melbourne’s city streets and urban spaces,” Ms Delahunty said.

and

“The Bracks Government is committed to providing more opportunities for our artists and audiences.”

Yeah, right.

I also note in the papers this week. That Kim Beasley wants to throw up a national internet firewall around Australia (to protect the kiddies) and John Howard is banning a video game where street art is a component. It’s all getting rather depressing.

It seems it doesn’t matter who we get in power it’s going to be back to the 50’s.

Update:
A NATIONAL blockade against internet pornography and violence is now a possibility after the Communications Minister, Helen Coonan, showed signs of buckling to backbench demands for action on this issue.

Whats In the Box?

Every once in a while, you will be asked one the worlds most chilling questions. No… not your REAL age.

Some lunatic will want to know what you have inside your PC (and while we can almost certainly guarantee a dust bunnie or two this isn’t the answer they are looking for). There maybe perfectly valid technical reasons for this question being thrust at you like some dagger, or it may just be prurient curiosity on the part of some geek wannabe (the old “mine’s bigger than yours”).

So what are you going to do?
Fake it?
“Ask Thatch” hmmm not a good answer that one. Severe loss of several brownie points there.

Or are you going to download say …SIW – System Information for Windows by Gabriel Topala and hand them a report, a very detailed report on just exactly “What’s In The Box”.

This little gem of a program gives detailed information about your computer properties and settings.

It gives detailed specs for CPU, motherboard, chipset, BIOS, CPU, PCI/AGP, USB and ISA/PnP devices, memory, monitor, video card, disk drives, CD/DVD devices, SCSI devices, S.M.A.R.T., ports, network cards, printers, operating system, installed programs and hotfixes, processes, services, serial numbers (CD keys), users, open files, system up-time, network, network shares, as well as real-time monitors for CPU, memory, page file usage and network traffic.

It displays currently active network connections, passwords hidden behind asterisks, installed codecs, and more (how much can be left you ask?). This is geek heaven.

Best of all it’s only a bit over a meg and its a standalone tool that does not require installation – one less installed program on your PC as well the fact that you can run the program directly from a USB flash drive.

AND really really best of all… It will shut them up.

There is also Belarc Advisor, which does need to be installed (but gives really detailed info about serial numbers and the like … great for planned re-installs) and Faronics System Profiler which doesn’t need to be installed. I use this one a lot.

In one of those way cool serendipitous moments , I just read on Lifehacker about Fresh Diagnose, it has a cool interface and gives you the inevitable avalanche of information about your system. It’s freeware but it only works for 11 days without a registration, after that you fill out a free registration with your name and email. After you register, you get access to the benchmarking tools.

All of that should help you answer the geek question. Now onto the the other one….

So how old are you?

No really.

Flying Carpet

Iranian artist Seyed Alavi has installed this totally amazing mural of an aerial view of the Sacramento River woven into the carpet of a skybridge in the Sacramento International Airport

Fling Carpet

To quote…

This project consists of an aerial view of the Sacramento River that is woven into a carpet for the floor of a pedestrian bridge connecting the terminal to the parking garage. This image represents approximately 50 miles of the Sacramento River starting just outside of Colusa, California and ending about 6 miles south of Chico.

In addition to recalling the experience of flight and flying, this piece, by depicting the larger geographical area, also helps to reinforce a sense of belonging and/or connection for the traveler. In this way, the carpet can also be read and experienced as a “welcome mat” for visitors arriving in Sacramento. The siting of this piece on a bridge also helps to highlight a few other conceptual aspects of the work. A bridge is a connection between two destinations; it is not a destination in and of itself; it is neither here, nor there. In this way it is similar to an airplane, or a river connecting one place to another; here to there; a moment of flight frozen in mid air; a flowing river that takes us along with its current to another destination. In this way, the piece also creates a koanic relationship between a river and a bridge, since their ordinary position have been turned around, and it is now the river that is on/above the bridge.

I just find this an amazing piece of work, I would love for there to be a webcam at the end of the skybridge so that we could watch peoples reactions. That way we could have puclic art and performance art all in one place.

Some of the other work shown on his website is great.

My Next Laptop…

Poohbear Epson LaptopThis is one of those wonderful things that I should never have been allowed to see.

According to FarEastGizmos Epson Direct Shop are selling their Epson Endeavour NT2850 laptops with a choice of livery. You can get your laptop tricked out in

  1. Micky Mouse
  2. Tinkerbell (it’s Japan folks … just go with it)
  3. or

  4. Winnie the Pooh (sadly the Disney Pooh not the real one).

The Pooh One looks kinda cool but “That’s NOT Pooh”

So here is were the weird starts, as I looked at the piccy, an idea popped into my seriously addled and overcrowded little brain ( not unlike the bear in question’s brain), out there in Melbourne there are some amazing airbrush artists and I could get one of them to paint, say the Hundred Acre Wood map (we’ve been there) as done by E.H. Shepard, on to the lid.

Cool huh?

I mean how much can it cost. OK possibly a frightening amount but it’s still a cool idea.

Oh! and If I want an mp3 player to match my new laptop, over at Akiba Live it’s reported that Creative Media will have four new Disney-themed ones on sale next month.

Hmm? How many shopping days til Christmas?

Titanic Newspaper Articles Archive

Titanic Front PageNow this is more like it. This is the kind of thing the internet is was supposed to be good at.

SADLY it’s now disappeared behind a paywall –  a sign of things to come. 

Have a look at http://www.titanicuniverse.com/titanic-newspaper-articles Not cheap but seems complete

The New York Times has some great stuff http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/t/titanic/index.html

and http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0415.html

NewspaperARCHIVE.com is the world’s largest archive of online searchable newspapers and it has created a Titanic Newspaper Articles Archive. It contains newspaper articles about the Titanic during April of 1912. It reflects the chaos surrounding the tragedy. Initial accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic started out positive, such as the headline in the Syracuse Herald on April 15, 1912, which reads “Titanic’s Passengers All Rescued.” (That would have been a terrible retraction to have to have made). Unfortunately, the reports were based on speculation and the facts surrounding the sinking of the Titanic were far worse than imagined.

All of the newspapers found on this archive can also be found at NewspaperARCHIVE.com plus heaps more.

The Titanic timeline is pretty amazing. I had forgotten that Wood Hole and a French team rediscovered the Titanic in 1985.

Well worth a look, the newspaper viewer take a bit of getting used to but it works.

SETI@home Needs your Help

As you probaly know I am a big fan of SETI. But Richard Corrigan may be getting his wish (see ET’s A Hacker ) SETI has lost it’s funding.

This was an email that they sent me a day or two back.


SETI@Home Logo
SETI Donate Now

Dear thatch,

SETI@home needs your help. But before we tell you why – and how you can help – Dan and I would like to thank you for your role in the SETI@home success story.

We would first like to thank you for your participation in SETI@home. During the first SETI@home project you personally assisted us by searching for extraterrestrial signals in 2153 data chunks and providing 2.352 years of computing time. We want you to know we appreciate your efforts and the efforts of the other 5.4 million volunteers who have donated over 2.4 million years of processing time. When we started, people thought our projection of 100,000 users to be overly optimistic! You helped us prove that public participation in scientific computing could work. You also helped us to see that this type of community effort deserved to be more common. That’s why we developed the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing or BOINC. BOINC has the benefit of allowing our volunteers the option of sharing their processing power with other worthy projects in addition to SETI@home. These projects range from looking for gravitational waves to searching for cures to diseases.

But all these successes are just a beginning. As you are aware, SETI@home has successfully transitioned to operating under BOINC. Because of this, new searches are on the horizon for SETI@home. We are releasing a new version of our processing software that increases the sensitivity of our search by a factor of two or more. We are building and installing a new data recorder at Arecibo. This data recorder operates in conjunction with a newly installed receiver that has the capability to observe seven places on the sky simultaneously. It also increases our sensitivity by another factor of five. These increases in sensitivity mean that SETI@home will have capability of detecting signals that are three times more distant than we could before. The region of space we can search will expand by a factor of thirty. That’s thirty times the chance that your computer will detect that faint signal from another star.

This increase in capability isn’t without cost. Following the “dot com” bust, the commercial support that kept SETI@home running has largely disappeared. Because of this loss of support, we can no longer count on matching funds from the University of California. We are rapidly approaching the end of what funds we do have. We we will need to raise about $750,000 to pay for these new capabilities and to keep SETI@home operating for the next year. Without this support SETI@home may be forced to shut down.

We hope that you will consider making a donation to SETI@home. You can make a secure donation by credit card by clicking this link. Instructions for donation by check or money order are there as well. Unless you specify otherwise, your donation will be noted by a star icon next to your username on the SETI@home pages and your username will appear on our list of donors. If you do not wish to have this recognition you may indicate that as well. Please be assured that regardless of whether or not you choose to have your donation be anonymous, SETI@home will not share your address with other organizations.

You can check on our fundraising progress by visiting our main site at http://setiathome.berkeley.edu

Thank You,
Arthur C Clarke Dan Werthimer
Sir Arthur C. Clarke
Author and Futurist
Dan Werthimer
Chief Scientist, SETI@home

Bottom line? SETI@home Needs Your Bucks.
Go to http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/donate.php for more information

I mean c’mon guys… how often do you get a letter from Arthur C Clarke.