Category Archives: geek

Dinosaurs vs. Aliens

There’s a Dinosaurs vs. Aliens movie concept being developed.

I was chatting with a friend about what the script for this would look like. If the dinosaurs speak English, that would be layering magic on top of magic. So maybe the dinosaurs don’t talk and just grunt? Then you’d end up with something like this:

DINO 1
Rawwwwwwr, ROOOOOaaaRRRRRRRr.

DINO 2
(nods)
Raw raw rooooar.

Dino 1 cocks head.

DINO 1
(through flaring nostrils)
WOOOOOOshhhhhhhh?

DINO 2
(enthusiastic)
SLLLLLLLLLLLLURP.

The alternative is to have the dinosaurs grunt and roar in an “intelligent” manner and subtitle the expressions. The dinosaur subtitles can be soulful, angsty, full of doubt. Then you’d have a high-concept/art-house crossover hit.

That is a movie we’d pay to see.

DropCopy

Lisa was working on a story, and I was giving her some comments. Since I like reading and commenting on the screen, normally Lisa would have to email the documents to me and I’d have to email the commented copy back. Very inefficient.

DropCopy is designed just for this kind of LAN file transfer. We tried it and it worked great. A little “black hole” sits on the desktop; you drag and drop files into it, and it shows up on the other person’s desktop. Magical. This is the feeling all software should evoke.

Kindle 3 and Chinese

The Kindle 3 provides some support for display of non-Latin scripts. But the support is not perfect. For example, if you convert Chinese books in UTF-8 via calibre into mobi books for the Kindle, the default configuration will result in many characters showing up as little squares.

A solution is provided by user “hyraxer” at Kindle Boards:

click the home button
click the enter button
just input
;debugOn (click enter button)
~changeLocale zh-CN (click enter button)
;debugOff (click enter button)

and then restart your kindle, everything will be OK.

I’ve tried it and it seems to work.

The Mac Chimney

From Leander Kahney, Inside Steve’s Brain, page 234:

Mac chimney

Not one of Jobs’s better decisions, but it does show that his intention is to put customer experience above all else. (Of course, machines overheating and dying are also bad for the customer experience, but he probably thought engineers were exaggerating the problem.)

Word Lens

This is a bit late.

A few weeks ago, everyone was talking about Word Lens, an iPhone app that translates on the fly between written Spanish and English (on signs, labels etc.) through the iPhone video camera. I was really happy to see it because back in the summer, I wrote a story that uses this augmented-reality concept in a similar way. This kind of real-world development makes the technical aspects of the story seem more plausible.

Drawing the Genome

Suppose we do the following:

Let A = MOVE LEFT 1 UNIT;
Let C = MOVE DOWN 1 UNIT;
Let G = MOVE RIGHT 1 UNIT;
Let T = MOVE UP 1 UNIT; 

Then we can map any genome into a random walk, a kind of Etch A Sketch with DNA as the commands. The result might be interesting as a sort of message/art.

Here are a few examples.

bacteriophage MS2

Bacteriophage MS2, a virus.

Phi X 174

Bacteriophage Φ-X174, another virus.

Canis lupus familiaris

A small section of the genome of Canis lupus familiaris, the dog.

Seems like a promising premise for a story…

The quick-and-dirty script I hacked up for drawing these can be found here.