Some fine instances of slow motion in the movies

Monday, 20 October, 2014

Slow motion scenes can make or break a movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, for instance, is an example of the effect being over-worked, but films such as Hurt Locker, Drive, The Shining, Watchmen, and Dredd, are another matter all together.

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Aborting the launch of the Space Shuttle, easy… in theory anyway

Monday, 20 October, 2014

There was a procedure in place to abort a Space Shuttle flight if a problem became apparent on, or immediately, after launch, but it certainly wasn’t a simple matter of switching off the engines, and heading towards a nearby landing strip…

About two minutes into the flight, the SRBs [Solid Rocket Boosters] would burn out and then be jettisoned. The SSMEs [Space Shuttle Main Engines] would continue to burn fuel from the ET [External Tank] until about eight and a half minutes after liftoff. For missions with a particularly heavy payload, the two Orbital Maneuvering System (OMS) engines could be fired during ascent to help the shuttle aloft. The OMS engines were also used later to adjust the shuttle’s orbit, including the deorbit burn that brought it home at the end of the mission. After Main Engine Cutoff (MECO), the shuttle would jettison the empty ET, which would disintegrate as it tumbled back to Earth. That’s all there was to it. What could possibly go wrong?

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Whoever said as life as a billionaire was easy?

Monday, 20 October, 2014

It may come as some comfort to those of us who are not billionaires, that life as a billionaire is not always beer and skittles, or caviar and private jets, as the case may be. In fact, life for the super well off may very much be caviar and private jets, but it is often devoid of some of the simpler pleasures, and that it seems, can be a drawback. Apparently.

“Mark Zuckerberg will never get to bum around a foreign country,” Graham writes. “He can do other things most people can’t, like charter jets to fly him to foreign countries. But success has taken a lot of the serendipity out of his life.”

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How do you get ahead? That depends on what country you live in…

Monday, 20 October, 2014

Hard work aside, is our success, be it personal or professional, out of our hands? Does it come down to luck, or to the people we know? The part of the world where we live, seemingly, looks to hold some sway in this regard:

People in developing economies were far more likely to say that “having a good education” and “working hard” were 10/10 in terms of importance. That appears to be something of a paradox, since many respondents in those same countries also claimed that “giving bribes” and “being lucky” were very important. Although people in wealthy countries also think diligence and education are important, a smaller share of respondents gave those factors top marks in determining their lives.

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Well, this is one way to cross a bridge

Friday, 17 October, 2014

I doubt you’d be able, or possibly even want, to incorporate this style of bridge crossing into your commute however…

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Establishing a human colony on Mars, not so straightforward?

Friday, 17 October, 2014

I was quite excited about the Mars One idea, when I first heard of it a couple of years ago. Both pioneering and audacious, the project founders proposed sending four people at a time to Mars in 2024, followed by another group every two years thereafter, gradually establishing a human colony on the red planet in the process.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, analysis of the concept, based on what is currently known publicly, however finds the plan, to be unsustainable. In short they conclude that Mars One is trying to achieve too much, too soon:

The lead author, Sydney Do, a Ph.D. candidate in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, said via email that in his view “the Mars One Concept is unsustainable” because of the current state of technology and its “aggressive expansion approach” of quickly adding more and more people rather than keeping the settlement at a fixed size for a period of time.

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A photographic glimpse of life in a nunnery

Friday, 17 October, 2014

Probably not something that we see all that often, a glimpse into life in a nunnery, or convent, by Edinburgh based photographer Craig Buchan.

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The next stage in GIF animation evolution, the GIF Video

Friday, 17 October, 2014

I think GIF animations are more widely used now than twenty years ago, when they were one of the few ways to serve motion files the web. While the latter day animations are often fun, they can chew up download or airtime allocations, on account of their size.

So what to do? Online image hosting service Imgur may have a solution by way of Project GIFV, an application that converts GIF animations to video files. The reduction in file size certainly looks promising, a raw GIF animation at fifty megabytes becomes a video GIFV file of some four megabytes.

The cornerstone of Project GIFV is a platform-wide upgrade to automatically convert uploaded GIF files on the fly into the MP4 video format. The converted MP4s are significantly smaller than their equivalent GIFs, which allows them to load at lightning-fast speeds with better quality. By lowering bandwidth consumption, the change also optimizes Imgur for users on mobile. Rejoice!

Mind you, four megabytes still seems sizeable for a GIF animation, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

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The desk, in downsize mode since 1981

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

When I first started working I had no idea I’d one day be able to pack the entire contents of my office into a day bag, and base myself almost where ever I wanted to.

Yet since 1981, or maybe a little later than that, the amount of desk space we require has been diminishing, to the point that desks as we know them may well soon be obsolete.

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It’s just another day at the office that doesn’t exist

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

So, these days you work for yourself, by yourself, from home, whatever, but still – for reasons best known to yourself – miss being in an office environment. The politics. The policies. The procedures. The culture. The water cooler. The list goes on. Striking out on one’s own sure seems to have its drawbacks, doesn’t it?

Enter then Generic Office Roleplay (Facebook login required), possibly the best online simulation of an office I’ve ever seen.

The new management team thank you for your years of service and take this opportunity to tell you that the only changes which will be implemented in the next few months will be those that can clear the well defined process mapped out on pages 2814 to 2912 of your employee manual. We’re dedicated to red-tape, bureaucracy and efficiency.

I feel much better now.

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