Weblog | Archives for October 2003
Past posts.
Happy Halloween

I'm getting a ton of Halloween Google traffic due to this post from last Halloween. Some interesting search terms:

lego costume (36)
lego person costume (3)
the best halloween costume -sex (2)
anarchist halloween costume (2)
Pac-Man Halloween Costume (1)
pac man halloween costume do it (1)
sealab costume halloween (1)

Vision | Comments (6)

In moments I'll turn to dust and blow away. The cells that composed me will set out to start solo careers. They're tired and besides, their hearts weren't in this anyway. Minerals will litter the ground I stood on, like fabric in a raided sweatshop.

Sand v Pollen

Oh no! Looks like my Pollen applets aren't very original. Check out Sand.

Pigeon-Guided Missile

"This experimental device was developed during World War II by behavioral psychologist B.F. Skinner, who experimented with harnessing pigeons' pecking movements to steer missiles. Skinner divided this nose cone into three compartments, and proposed strapping a pigeon in each one. As a bomb headed towards earth, each pigeon would see the target on its screen. By pecking at the image, the birds would activate a guidance system that would keep the bomb on the right path until impact." (SI's HistoryWired)

"Three pigeons were each tucked into a jacket made of a sock and then put into a harness inside the guidance system, facing a screen. An image of the target was projected onto each of the three screens through a lens system in the nose of the weapon, with crosshairs defined by beams of light. Each pigeon was supposed to peck at its screen, which was wired to provide feedback to the missile's flight controls, to keep the crosshairs on target. The system accepted inputs from all three pigeons, but only acted if two or all three agreed." (Pelican Missle)

Split Lip Rayfield

I saw a great band last night called Split Lip Rayfield. They play bluegrass at punk rock speed, using a one string car gas tank as a bass.

Pepakura Designer

Pepakura Designer takes 3D object data and prints out paper templates which can be cut out and folded to produce a model of the original object. It apparently will also print the textures that appeared on the object. Check out the models that Japanese users have made.

I have got to find the time to play with this.

The Pill

A gallery of oral contraceptive packaging. The pill clearly illustrates the trend towards more packaging; the original came in a plain brown bottle, while more recently a company distributed kits that included stickers, soap, and a toothbrush intended to remind the user to take the pill in the morning.

Beetle Robot

Another robot building tutorial — this one avoids obstacles and is electronically simpler. It uses only batteries, simple hobby motors, and a few switches; all of these could be obtained for a few dollars from Radio Shack. This would be a really fun project for kids who have the technical itch.


The BEAM photovore — simple instructions for building a tiny light-powered, light-seeking robot. Looks like less than $20 in parts, too. All of the parts are available at Solarbotics.

Coming Someday...

Evolving Pollen.

Each cell follows a finite state machine (FSM), where the colors of pixels around a cell determine which state is next and each state transition causes it to move in some direction.

In these first tests, every cell follows the same FSM. Likely followups to this:

  • Allow cells to reproduce, with offspring having mutated FSMs. Cells would compete to survive, and better FSMs would evolve.
  • Run trials with differing FSMs for each run, evolving FSMs that are good at certain tasks (e.g. building tall structures, enclosing the most space with the fewest cells, covering the most space with contiguous cells)