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At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on Mac OS X. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.
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Jetty panorama

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I am a Field Notes fan. They make awesome versions of a completely ordinary product: disposable pocket size notebooks of the type that would be given out as marketing by midwest farm/feed and hardware shops in the mid to late-mid 20th century. They make books in a different style every 3 months. If you subscribe, you get the new designs each season along with surprises. This May, a surprise was, they made a final exam type 'blue book', which you may remember from some phase of school.

bluebook

I went to a preppy middle/high school for some years and my earliest memory of these books is from 8th or 9th grade.

Along with the books, which are 3x better executed than any blue book I have ever seen in the wild, comes a challenge/assignment/contest:

"Using one of the enclosed Blue Books, please submit a written essay relating a notable dramatic or humorous event that happened while you were in elementary or high school." And they list grading criteria including penmanship (in all caps), which I blame for my loss.

As we used to say in architecture school, I went around the program. This is not a memorable story from whenever, but it is a good idea IMO, and when you have an idea you should follow through with it. It is below the fold, and yes I wrote this out longhand and put it in an envelope with a stamp.

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Adam Savage is a huge fan of The Shining. In homage, he built a replica of the Overlook Hotel's hedge maze model which is so awesome that... well, watch the video. I am a huge fan of The Shining, and of Adam Savage. In homage, I made this Archicad model of the Savage replica.

Maze 3D

I used much less time, material, and skill, but I followed a similar process to that shown in the video: Figure out the grid, figure out the scale, obsess over screenshots, find good materials, and don't let it go even as it takes longer than it should.

While Adam makes clear that his model is a replica of the (prop) model inside the hotel, not a model of the maze itself (which likely does not 'exist'), my model is roughly 50:1 scale with the replica, restoring it to 'real life' scale, based on the discussion in the video.

So this is a virtual model based on a video of a real replica of a lost real model of a likely unreal maze from a movie. (No, the maze isn't in the book IIRC.)

If you want a "model" of the maze, i.e., a miniature replica at 1:50 scale, suitable for modeling the Overlook itself, you can save the whole thing as an object and then shrink it. Use the saved view called 'Top View', select all elements, then File -> Libraries and Objects -> Save Selection As... -> Object. When placing the object, link the XYZ dimensions with the chain button and set the length to about 8 feet / 2.5m. Put it on a table.

Here is the PLA file (8MB). Here is the desktop BIMx file (4MB). Here is the Graphisoft BIMx viewer page. Here is an STL file (1.3MB).

Marco "Tumblr, Instapaper" Arment tells Dan Benjamin:

One of the reasons many of us...love Apple products is because they think about a lot of the details that a lot of other manufacturers don't, in both hardware and software. And it's those little details that a lot of people think don't matter, or aren't worth the time and money to get right, that add up to a really great experience and goodwill from your users. So that's always been a high priority for me, to try and get all the details right.... Even if somebody has never run into something, I'm still happy it's there, because for the few people who do run into it, it makes them a little bit happier. If you look at a lot of the features of luxury cars, for instance, they're features that most people won't ever use. And they accidentally discover it sometime, they're just a little bit delighted by that.... And if we can do that same thing in software by providing these little delights to users, or by smoothing over a few rough edges that they should never have to see, that adds up to a significantly better product than one made by a firm that doesn't really care about those details.

I find less irritating tools to be less irritating.

Surface Map of Pluto

It is awful to hear that David Foster Wallace has apparently taken his own life. Really not happy with that. I don't have anything constructive. If you like reading and you haven't read Infinite Jest, you should. There's an investment of time and attention (about a kilo), but it's the best novel that I know of. The cover copy says it's a comedy but, though there's a lot of funny in it, it's ultimately sad. It will be sadder going forward. His sober-gonzo travelogue reporting is all-funny, see the essay collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again, especially the title track. Hmm, that title has suddenly gotten a little weightier.

He was raised on literary and general cultural irony but concluded that the ironic position risked disengagement from the reader and isolation from reality. Which reality might be painful. Which pain might be Too Much.

Empty Quarter
Earth and Moon from Mars
Mississippi River Delta
paradise
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Shrimp Trawlers

It's time.

I has 3DS

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Egypt Dust
Yard Ice
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Comet McNaught
Puma

Tom had to go to sleep today after a short but not-short-enough illness. He lost 5 lb. in a couple weeks and no longer wanted to go outside. Last year he chased away a fox.

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Everybody...

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Stingray. Boy you never know.

Pluto & Charon
Pluto & Charon
Nothing against the little guy, but as time goes on it becomes more evident that Pluto isn't a planet-type thing.

In 1930, when it was discovered, it was called a planet because they thought it was a big (big) thing in the Saturn and Neptune style. As more observations were made, the estimate of its size dwindled, until today, when we know that it is in fact smaller than Earth's moon.

Further, at the time, Pluto was the only thing out there. So it's tiny, and has a weird orbit, but what else are you going to call it?

Today, we know it's not a tiny weird planet. It's a completely normal example of a different kind of thing. Pluto inhabits a region of space that is crawling with Pluto-type things. We already know of one that is as large as Pluto, and several that are at least half its size.

This situation will only get 'worse'. The designers of the New Horizons mission to Pluto estimate that there are 1000 Pluto-sized objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. They just can't all be planets.

I like this story because it illustrates that knowledge is always in flux. There is a lot of sentimentality about Pluto. Children like it because it's small and different. Adults want there to be nine planets because there were nine when they were in school. Many casual observers seem to believe that the solar system is basically worked out. "They'll have to rewrite the textbooks!" In fact, solar system astronomy is a very dynamic field, and they should probably rewrite the books every year anyway.

Link.

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Link

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Meet Tiktaalik, the fishapod.

We've got Archaeopteryx, an early whale that lived on land, and now this animal showing the transition from fish to tetrapod. What more do we need from the fossil record to show that the creationists are flatly wrong?

More at Pharyngula.

Refresher on Archaeopteryx.



From here, all credit where they say it's due. Hat tip to the pub.

The animation is below the fold so it doesn't drive me insane.

UPDATE: Satellite photo video here.

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Black Cat 3-21-2006

I had never seen Animal Collective before and had no expectations.

Avey Tare: Guitar and main voice.
Deakin: Guitar and second voice.
Panda Bear: Effects and drums. Mostly effects.
Geologist: Effects and keyboard. Mostly effects.

Lots of texture. Loud to a normal load degree. Not quiet. No acoustic dimension whatever. My first unbidden thought was 'Spacemen 3'. The guitars are purely non-heroic.

Each song emerges out of a sort of starting drone, which gradually takes on definition and becomes the song. You will retro-recognize the founding drone of the songs you know. There are a few relatively straight songs: We Tigers, Grass, The Purple Bottle. The rest are long form, at least ten minutes, often fifteen, taking some time to fully develop. Banshee Beat is in this mode; it's the key to connecting the live and recorded arrangements.

Several songs consist entirely of both vocalists chanting and chittering, no guitar, amongst clouds of enveloping effects. Very patient. They are all enjoying themselves.

Geologist will occasionally join in the shouting, as on We Tigers. Panda will also throw in a yelp now and then. All members take some whacks at the lone cymbal whenever the impulse strikes. Deakin takes the tom for We Tigers, which consists of tom and shouting. Geologist wears a headlamp. Avey Tare's voice is versatile and flexible. Scream to falsetto to whisper back to scream, on a dime. I knew that, but watching his head make the sounds, you can't miss it.

I was a little surprised to find melody de-emphasized in favor of texture and improvisation. It's not a complaint. But Banshee Beat was just brought off extremely well. I left before the encore, which was reportedly Kids on Holiday, so I shouldn't talk. Stupid mistake.

Overall, highly recommended. They lost me a couple of times, but I was very tired and they did 60% unknown-to-me material.

I don't think this version of the Simpsons intro is all modeled, but it's close. (YouTube Link)

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Link

We entered via the West building to avoid the line and so came at the work from across the atrium. My first impression is annoyance that they have the exterior doors blocked unceremoniously with one of those velvet ropes. They don't want you outside. My annoyance notices the reflections on the glass, making it hard to see outside, I'm thinking, nice try but no. Two of the domes are constructed so part of them are inside; one slightly, one about a third. This emphasizes the isolation of the rest of the work, behind the reflections and the ropes. The domes fill the courtyard, bumping against even more walls outside. The only ground space is near the door. Again, if you would open those doors, we could get to work. The domes are very dense to left, no ground space, all running into each other. The slate varies in thickness from 1 1/2" to 4". I try to see if the slates that 'span' the glazing were cut from one piece and carried around. Some were, some were not. Make up your mind. At my height I can see the top stone of the domes, they appear solid, I thought they would have holes. I process that the roofs are solid. Probably pretty dark in there. The height of the domes is just beneath that of the wall enclosing the courtyard; remember walking by the wall on the other side. All the same height. We go upstairs, past the Toulouse Lautrec line, to look down out the windows. Surprise! They do in fact have holes. The top stones are ground out in the center; from the side they appear solid, from my height or shorter; the slate tapers to the edge of the hole, which is sharp and crisp, no edge visible. The holes are perfectly round and very black. They appear substantial, not empty. Somehow it is a relief, that the holes are there, now the work seems more in keeping. There are nine domes. They crowd the courtyard, overlapping, intersecting. Each one is incomplete, interrupted. They could be ancient.

You can see why domes would be chosen. Leaving, you notice all the other domes around. It's a high-visibility commission. At some level you want to fit in. It should read. It's urban and permanent. If there aren't so many, and a little too big, they will sink into the background. In the wilderness they could be small. Here they need to be stranger, wilder, awkward, crowded, maybe isolated. They recall the hole-type projects, as well as the cairn and stacked-up sphere type, if you consider that they might be mostly buried.

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