Saturday, January 18, 2003

NuclearSpace: The Pro-Nuclear Space Movement
Project Orion links

Gateway: Problems With The Orion Spacecraft

The first proposal was for an Orion spacecraft which would launch from the ground. This spacecraft was envisioned as being extremely large, with plans calling for craft massing anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 metric tons. One design called for a craft which would mass roughly 20,000 tons of which half was fuel and the rest was spacecraft structure and payload.

Tayler's original proposal was for a vehicle 16 stories high and with a pusher plate 135 feet in diameter. The launch pad would have consisted of eight stabilization towers, each 250 feet high. The vehicle's initial mass would have been 10,000 tons. The bomb units ejected on takeoff would have yielded 0.1 kiloton, initially at an ejection rate of one per second. As the vehicle accelerated the rate would slow down and the yield would increase until 20-kiloton bombs would have been going off every ten seconds. A total of 2000 bombs would have been required, making up approximately half of the spacecraft's mass. These would have allowed it to reach escape velocity. Since the payload would have been several thousand tons, it was proposed to man the craft with a crew of 150. The original cost estimate for the construction of this craft, from Dyson, was 100 million dollars per year for 12 years. Since the vehicle could not land using the pulse drive, the designers probably anticipated that a conventional vehicle would be available to shuttle crew and material between the ship and planetary surfaces.

A new design was produced, for a smaller Orion which would be launched into orbit using Saturn V rockets. The vehicle would have centered around a 200,000 pound propulsion module with a 33 foot pusher plate. At least two Saturn V launches would have been required to lift the craft into orbit, where its pieces would be attatched. The main proposed mission profile was a flight to Mars. The craft was to carry eight astronauts and 100 tons of equipment, with a round trip time of 125 days. The Orion planners predicted that it would cost 1.5 billion dollars, half of that for the Saturn V rockets to launch it into orbit.

...if a craft absorbs enough energy to accelerate it by more than about 30 meters per second from a single pulse, this puts tremendous stress on its structure...

Brainiac Behavior Engine - an open-source AI engine

Slashdot thread:
Can Independent Game Developers Survive?

One particular post, on marketing:

As somebody who's been in the industry for 9+ years, I'm going to tell you that you'd better have something so out of the water good (like, Doom, for instance) or noone is going to bother without the massive flood of marketing that the idio-trons have come to count on. I've seen GREAT games made by large companies flounder, due to not enough marketing. And conversely, I've seen sub-par drivel sell millions because of a marketing blitz.

Independant games can be "successful", in the same way that independant movies are. The majority of them are seen by a few, who love them. But only 1 in a few hundred make any money at all (like Blair Witch or My...Greek Wedding). It's not the fault of the movie (or the game), it's just the average lazy consumer DEPENDS on the magic box to tell him what to buy, wear, watch, etc. Without the voices from the wonderful box, the average person just does not have the gumption to go out and LOOK for whatever it is that they really want. They take the best of what is offered them. Truly sad, but very true.

Can I Make Money as an Indie Developer? A transcript from IGC '02

Friday, January 17, 2003

Judges chapter 11 has a section that reminds me of Mary and her vow of perpetual virginity:

30: And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD, and said, "If thou wilt give the Ammonites into my hand,
31: then whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me, when I return victorious from the Ammonites, shall be the LORD's, and I will offer him up for a burnt offering."
32: So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them; and the LORD gave them into his hand.
33: And he smote them from Aro'er to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a very great slaughter. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.
34: Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah; and behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.
35: And when he saw her, he rent his clothes, and said, "Alas, my daughter! you have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me; for I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow."
36: And she said to him, "My father, if you have opened your mouth to the LORD, do to me according to what has gone forth from your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites."
37: And she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me; let me alone two months, that I may go and wander on the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my companions."
38: And he said, "Go." And he sent her away for two months; and she departed, she and her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.
39: And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had made. She had never known a man. And it became a custom in Israel
40: that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year.

Benchmarks of computers running POV-Ray

Is it better to form clusters, or to use individual computers (assuming you have lots of images to generate)?

List of results (bigger is better; the "results" represent the number of benchmark scenes that could be rendered in one million seconds) of 1000MHz Pentium III Coppermine processors (and number of processors in cluster):

35711 (75)
18866 (20)
9614 (9)
9173 (8)
3773 (2)
1945 (2) [average (2) = 2859]
2132, 2049, 1938, 1626, 1520, 1495, 1414, 1410, 1406, 1398, 1391, 1381, 1321, 1253 (1) [average (1) = 1552]

results per processor:
476 (75)
843 (20)
1068 (9)
1147 (8)
1429 (2)
1552 (1)

So it would seem that rendering files on separate computers is more efficient than doing so on a single "equivalent" multi-processor computer. Perhaps there's a benefit in terms of convenience? For rendering single scenes, obviously a multi-processor computer is better, since one wouldn't render parts of a scene on various computers and then stick them together in a image editor.

MediaGab - movie news and DVD reviews

Padre Marco D'Aviano website (Biography; PDF in Italian)

Father Mario D'Aviano to be beatified on April 27

Born in the Venetian republic in 1631, he left his Jesuit college to join the republic's forces fighting Turkish invaders. On the way to the front he had to seek refuge in a Capuchin monastery, where he decided to become a Capuchin friar rather than a warrior.

He became famous as a preacher and a healer, and was appointed an adviser to the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I.

When Turkish forces that had already conquered Belgrade besieged Vienna for two months in 1683, D'Aviano, at the behest of Pope Innocent XI, joined the irresolute Leopold outside Vienna, where he strengthened the emperor's resolve, persuaded the divided and outnumbered Christian forces to choose Jan Sobinski, the Polish king, as their leader, and preached to the Catholic-Protestant-Orthodox forces on the importance of defending Christian Europe.

On the night of September 11, 1683, the Christians forced the Turks, 20,000 of whose troops had been killed, to raise the siege.

Excerpt from a text at @Nordest (translated from Italian)

Already when he was sixteen years old, the future Capuchin, born in Friuli in 1631, had fled from the seminary, intending to sail to Candia where the Venetians heroically resisted the Turkish siege. He was sent back before setting sail, and once he was ordained a priest, Father Marco became known as a speaker and, above all, as a miracle-worker. "Good and generous, distant from every fanaticism and averse to every cruelty," writes Vittorio Messori, "he was always concerned about saving lives, improving the welfare of prisoners, exhorting forgiveness and mercy, and striving to achieve harmony between people. If he intervened in the fray, it was only for the legitimate defense of a Christianity under attack. He sought to offer advice concerning strategy to the generals and to those who governed, but always solely to remove the deadly threat to Christian Europe. It is not for nothing that the Muslims of his time looked at him with respect, if not with admiration.

Slashdot post by someone considering leaving computer programming

For most of us writing software all day, it's nice to see things crafted out of steel and wood. Something real, not made from bits that are on the road to being obsolete and forgotten as soon as it's built.

I don't think I'd have carpentry skills but I'm considering getting out of programming and doing something with atoms. Glassblowing seems like it would be fun and rewarding. Certainly more fun than declaring my two millionth variable....

Art of Illusion - 3D modeller that includes subdivision surfaces (Java)
Sourceforge page

How to get a program written in C++ to run another program:

"The only facility provided by the standard C++ language for the invocation of an external process is via the 'std::system()' function, declared in header ."

Here's an example:


This command can be used to open up individual web pages:

> How do I bring up my default web browser in my app to a specific url
> using C++??

In a Windows environment, the start command is the way to go:


Thursday, January 16, 2003

GNU Win II - free software collection

Zimbabwe Govt eyes 45 new farms in fresh wave of designations

ABOUT 45 new commercial farms have been given notice to cease operating in the past 10 days despite assurances by the government that the designation stage of its fast-track land reform programme was complete, the Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) said this week.

CFU president Colin Cloete said of the 45 farms served with eviction notices under Section 8 of the Land Acquisition Act, only up to four were properties that had previously been listed for compulsory acquisition and the rest were new additions.

Section 8 notices give farmers whose land is being taken over for resettlement 90 days to cease production and vacate their properties.

Cloete told the Financial Gazette: "Another 45 farms, especially in the Rutengwe area, have been gazetted for acquisition in the last 10 days. The situation is terrible."

Agriculture Minister Joseph Made last week said his ministry, which has designated at least 90 percent of Zimbabwe's commercial farms for compulsory acquisition, was now concentrating on demarcating land already gazetted and ensuring productivity on farms appropriated for resettlement.

However, farmers' organisations this week said there was little farming activity on the land allocated to resettled farmers, many of who do not have the resources to plant, while a large number of the few remaining commercial producers had scaled down operations.

The land resettlement programme last year combined with drought to slash food production in Zimbabwe by 60 percent.

Resettled farmers' lack of resources, shortages of farming inputs and another anticipated drought are expected to worsen the country's food security situation this year and push up the number of Zimbabweans in need of emergency food aid.

United Nations' agencies in 2002 estimated that close to seven million people were facing starvation in Zimbabwe, but recent government statistics have put the number at eight million.

David Connell, an official with another farmers' group, Justice for Agriculture, said: "Farm business is almost a non-starter because there is hardly anyone doing anything on their properties. You can't talk about it. Agriculture is not business anymore.

"We have sort of lost that sector from a business point of view. People are no longer selling farms and they are not farming because of the uncertainty. It's actually a hassle going through that thing. We are no longer following the situation on the ground although I have heard some reports of incidents taking place on farms."

He said many people allocated farms under the A2 or commercial farming phase of the land reform programme had not taken up the land.

"The A1 model is doing better," he said. "For A2, I think 95 percent of those allocated land are absentee. In a way, you can't blame them. The areas are remote and, discounting the fuel problems, they have no cars.

"Don't even talk about the drought because under A2, there was no crop at all so drought doesn't come in."

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Balloon v1.0
This is the story of how I designed, built, launched, and recovered a high-altitude weather balloon.

Slashdot thread, Slashdot posts by the balloonist

InterTran - translation to and from many languages, including Latin, Welsh, Czech, etc.
NewsTran - translate news from sources such as Yahoo News, BBC, etc.

Psyco is a specializing compiler for the Python language.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Free High Precision Complex Calculator

This program does real or complex number calculations with 100-significant-figure precision. Many standard functions such as trig, hyperbolic, logarithms, etc., are included. Loops are supported. Both expressions and results can be saved to a file.

The Lord & Lady of the Rings
The Hidden Presence of Tolkien’s Catholicism in The Lord of the Rings

A version of the "Our Father", by someone other than Tolkien

Tolkien's version edited based on suggestions by H. K. Fauskanger (intended to make it closer to the way Tolkien might have written it at a later stage of Quenya's development):

Atárelma i ëa han ëa
na aire esselya
aranielya na tuluva
na care indómelya cemende tambe Erumande :
ámen anta síra ilaurëa massalma
ar ámen apsene úcarelmar sív' emme apsenit tien i úcarir elmen.
álame tulya úsahtienna mal áme etelehta ulcullo :

Greek to Greeklish converter (i.e. Greek characters to ASCII)

If the Google homepage sends you automatically to your country's version of Google, but you'd rather use the American (or "international") version, here's the address to use:

Modelling Systems: The Road Network Model - a computer program that tries to generate the most efficient and inexpensive road system (includes source code)
Other forestry-related software here

Some bookmarklets or "favelets" - "view divs" and "view tables" are okay
Jesse's Bookmarklets Page - "make link" is useful for blogging; makes a link to a current page - "Basic ISO Latin Characters" prints out the funny HTML codes for accented characters

Mark Shea's translations of Catholic words into Protestant language:

Apostolate = Ministry
Temporal punishment = the discipline of the Lord
Venial sin = stumbling
Mortal sin = backsliding
Formation = discipleship
Indulgence = gift of mercy
Merit = fruitfulness under the influence of grace

Catholic Analysis - Oswald Sobrino's blog (he has articles at TCRNews)

Monday, January 13, 2003


Never be afraid to tell the world who you are. -- Anonymous

Apparently Tyalie Tyelellieva had some articles suggesting that Tolkien's Adunaic was somehow based on Portuguese words borrowed from Arabic...

Issue #1:
"'Have Some Madeira, My Dear' by Rafael Gracioso
(similarity of Adunaic to Portuguese words borrowed from Arabic)"

Issue #5:
"Comments ... from Alberto Monteiro about the Portuguese connection to Adunaic"

Thread on Zazzle - a site that sells posters of your art

Sunday, January 12, 2003