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category archive listing Category Archives: Random

GPS track of flight between Sydney and Melbourne using Navman

This is what you get when you blutac a GPS receiver to your window when going for a domestic flight. Altitude is colour coded.


Taking off from Sydney:


Take off

Here, speed is colour coded:


You can download the YMML-YSSY trip: YMML-YSSY

Site coverage so far

Shows areas of Australia that have been crawled for sites (tiles of different sizes are difference colours). Appears most population centres are covered, but much is still left to crawl.

Tile coverage so far

Sydney Spring Cycle 2009 GPS Track

I ran InstaMapper for the duration of the ride on my iPhone, resulting in the following track:

GPS tracking powered by InstaMapper.com

Direct link to track.

The Mammalian Diving Reflex

From Wikipedia:

“The mammalian diving reflex optimizes respiration which allows mammals to stay underwater for a long time. It is exhibited strongly in aquatic mammals (seals, otters, dolphins, etc.), but exists in a weaker version in other mammals, including humans. Diving birds, such as penguins, have a similar diving reflex. Every animal’s diving reflex is triggered specifically by cold water contacting the face – water that is warmer than 21 °C (70 °F) does not cause the reflex, and neither does submersion of body parts other than the face. Also, the reflex is always exhibited more dramatically, and thus can grant longer survival, in young individuals.”

Interesting graph of bradycardia in a diving seal.

Something to think about next time you splash some cold water on your face!

List of tallest structures in the world

Another fascinating article on Wikipedia:

“This is a list of tallest structures in the world, past and present of any type. Most of the tallest structures are television broadcasting masts, followed by a mix of the taller tower-type structures (like the CN Tower) and the taller high rise buildings (like the Sears Tower). Scattered among these are other structures including oil platforms, electrical towers, bridge towers, etc.”

Of particular interest to me was the Warsaw radio mast, which was the world’s tallest structure at 646.38 meters and collapsed in 1991 due to an error when carrying out maintenance on its guy ropes.

Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)

I never knew how ISDN actually worked, apart from the fact it sent digital signals over the the POTS’ copper wires. Wikipedia has a good article about it.

At the moment I am taking two distance education courses (Convex Optimisation and Statistical Machine Learning) which include video delivery through a Polycom video conferencing system. I assumed it used an ISDN link as we had to dial a phone number to connect to the remote site. However it turns out that in fact the Internet is being used (when I pulled up the advanced connection details today). The incoming H.263 video stream’s bandwidth is only 768kbps, which is simply not enough to read the contents of a normal whiteboard at the other end. I could not reconcile the dropped packets and low bitrate with an ISDN link, which would guarantee 2Mbit/s and no such loss in quality – turns out I was right. There are SmartBoards installed, but these haven’t been brought online yet. Apparently the software to make that happen cost the organisers $100,000! That’s unbelievable! Surely there must be cheaper alternatives. And if not, I’ll write one myself (soon)!

Be Your Own Weather Person

The Bureau of Meterology uploads the latest measurements from its radar stations from across our big brown land onto their website every 10 minutes, often with multiple resolutions. I find it most useful for two reasons:

  1. If it is overcast outside, this will definitively confirm the possibility of rain.
  2. If it is not overcast outside, you can witness the impending downpour before it arrives at your door. (This can be especially useful if you need to ride home by bicycle – like me!)

For Sydney, see:

An unusual example as I write this post:

Listen to iTunes shared libraries outside your LAN

How about, say, on your WAN?

You can for free with Simplify.

This Spartan Life

In the spirit of Red vs. Blue, and so much other machinima , comes This Spartan Life: a real talk show with real guests (Bob Stein and Peggy Ahwesh first episode) in a computer-generated environment. It’s set in the virtual world of Halo (of course).

From the website: “Damian Lacedaemion is not your average talk show host.He lives inside an online game where daily existence is a struggle against overwhelming odds (and other, much better players.) So he has taken it upon himself to create a little oasis of sanity where he can talk to people who aren’t bent on his destruction. He invites guests to join him in a live game where they can walk about and discuss some of the finer aspects of life, music, art, sex, movies and yes, even games.But he is finding it easier said than done. When other gamers join the game and don’t know they shouldn’t be shooting at his guests, Damian is sadly forced to revert to his old lethal self and clear the map of these brutes with their curt utterances and barbaric tactics.

But once the fighting is done and the guests are blue in the face, the fine Solid Gold Elite Dancers are there to shake their avatars to the latest chiptune music.”

Stalker is finally released

Stalker – Shadow of Chernobyl” available March 2007.

I discovered this revelation on YouTube:

Quite a surprise considering I thought it had disappeared into the blackhole around which Duke Nukem Forever is orbiting (passing the event horizon?) I remember seeing a preview video for an earlier version of Stalker about six years ago! Apparently the open-endedness of narrative is comparable to Half-Life 2, and if the the new trailer is any indication of the game, it promises to be both spooky and action-packed – perfect for full-screen gaming in the dark of the night.