Monday, July 28, 2008

Solar eclipse on Friday Aug. 1st, visible from both Estonia and Sweden

Picture from the 2006 total eclipse in Turkey
On this Friday, the 1st of August 2008 (NASA page here, DN article here) there will be another total solar eclipse. This time the maximum will travel roughly over the north polar cap from Canada through Russia and down in China (narrow blue path in the illustration). The partial eclipse (start and end position marked in pink in the illustration) will sweep over large parts of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

In Sweden the partial eclipse will start at 10:39, be at maximum 11:42 and end at 12:45 CEST (local time). Estonia is some six to ten minutes later and will be reached at 11:45, maximum at 12:50 and end two hours after the first contact at 13:45 EEST (local time).

Remember, never look straight into the sun without protection, but do enjoy this marvel of the universe!

Pink Floyd - Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun:

Little by little the night turns around
Counting the leaves which tremble at dawn
Lotuses lean on each other in yearning
Under the eaves the swallow is resting
Set the controls for the heart of the sun

Over the mountain watching the watcher
Breaking the darkness
Waking the grapevine
knowledge of love is knowledge of shadow
Love is the shadow that ripens the wine
Set the controls for the heart of the sun

Witness the man who raves at the wall
Making the shape of his question to Heaven
Whether the sun will fall in the evening
Will he remember the lesson of giving
Set the controls for the heart of the sun

(Update: We've decided to host an eclipse-watching brunch at Liisa's parents' place outside of Tartu - all friends in the area who don't have to go to work are very welcome. We're not yet sure of how to view the eclipse or if to be ambitious about the brunch, but get in touch and we're open to ideas! Also the regular road is closed, we can give you directions)

(Update 2: Sorry, I got the DST wrong, it should actually be CEST and EEST, not CET and EET, so now that's fixed)

(Update 3: Did you see the eclipse? We did at least, even if we missed the opportunity to project it or take good pictures of it. My brother took this picture through a blank compact disk:

See, we were not kidding, there really was an eclipse!)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This is a mobile blogging test

This is a mobile blogging test.

Just set up mail-to-blogger, save the addres you have set in your address book, sync addresses with phone and send blog posts as MMS (SMS to email works or not too?) to that email address at blogspot. Edit posts afterwards as needed. MMS costs a couple of EEK as I have realized through my dear friends at MoYuMe, but I think it may be worth it for the occasional picture report from my life (at least when on vacation or similarly disconnected).

Friday, July 11, 2008

It's silly, but it's phun!

Some lunaticEmil Ernerfeldt at Umeå University (we hang out in the same IRC channel) has created the game2d physics sandbox Phun, and the introduction video for it says it all. I once heard my nephew speak about building an automatic popcorn popper involving a conveyor belt through an oven and a robotic hand to put the popped corn into a bowl - I wonder what Phun would become in his hands. You can download it here. I don't dare to try it, I will get addicted, I'll just stick to Transport Tycoon when I need my fix.

PS. Unless I manage to pry my PS2 back from the hands of my other nephew and niece...

(Update: Now we're just wanting programmable PID-controller functions, then it could be cool to be able to script things like you do in Colobot. Please?)

(Update 2: While I'm at it, let's suggest games like Totem Destroyer and the Orisinal games. Happy waste of time :-P )

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My "ideary" and reviving the "ufsnack" mailing list

Today is a feed day - both twitter and

  • - Probably you also have those momentary flashes of insight you just need to write down somewhere. Now I now what to do with them, I'll SMS them to my twitterjaiku "ideary"! Also this goes along the line of "putting URLs on thoughts", I would just make it easier to edit/comment/expand on ideary posts too, anyone who can teach me microblogging properly? (Update: Jaiku seemed a little bit more flexible and nicer, so I grabbed that instead)

  • - Once upon a time I think there used to be a mailinglist for Young Scientists (FUF) called "ufsnack". This is the web2.0 version of it, a linkfeed and we have chat rooms and stuff (forums are down for the summer?! :-( ) where we can communicate as well!

(Actually we already also use to share links in the basvrak and websmurf groups)

Just visit those pages and subscribe to the RSS feeds!

Friday, July 4, 2008

MacBook Air - an un-revolutionary and still uncomfortable laptop

Apple really don't have it easy. While Microsoft make business almost just by existing, from Apple we expect perpetual revolution. The MacBook Air is really no such revolution, even with the price cut from very expensive weak laptop to pretty expensive weak laptop. The effects of that solid-state drive are also still unimpressive.

You would have to do this with an MBA as well Frankly I don't really care for the world's thinnest laptop beacuse it is still a laptop and except for being light weight and thus easy to carry around, it is still every bit as uncomfortable. You still have to have two hands available to type, you still have to be careful not to bend or crack the fragile little thing and it's still not comfortable on the train or bus and definitely not on the morning tram-ride. I want something truly portable and still usable (for typing/coding/reading) from Apple. Please? Considering how uncomfortable and ugly looking the Eee PC seems (what's up with that unused screen space anyway?!), you'd think the market may have room for a great UMPC.

Even without buttons, and being a mediocre cellphone, the iPhone on the contrary is a pretty sizable revolution, and not because it is comfortable. It has revolutionized what people expect from cell phones when it comes to ease of use and configuration and how many features you can cram into one well-designed, small unit. Also mobile internet and web-use (they're not necessarily identical) has been revolutionized by the iPhone, application-starved cell network operators are cheering as iPhone users on average use packet data (that's what operators call the Internet) 30 times as much as other cellphone users.