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Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster

“This year is the bicentennial of his birth, and while he never earned a secure living, was often sucked into alcoholic maelstroms, was unable to hold a job without incinerating his prospects and regularly lashed out at his literary contemporaries — while in life, in other words, he was a miserable conglomeration of self-justification, remorse, genius, fury and failure — as a corpse he has flourished mightily. (…)”

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Mas en For Poe, This Has Been the Year to Die For,
Poe en su bicentenario, a punto de acabar…



Unravelling the real 3D Mandelbrot

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“The original Mandelbrot is an amazing object that has captured the public’s imagination for 30 years with its cascading patterns and hypnotically colourful detail. It’s known as a ‘fractal’ – a type of shape that yields (sometimes elaborate) detail forever, no matter how far you ‘zoom’ into it (…) What we have featured in this article is a potential 3D version of the same fractal…”


Kittinger, el hombre que callo a la tierra. Tres veces.

Joe Kittinger, el hombre que callo a la tierra

In November of 1959 US Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger, fitted with a pressurized suit and a parachute, rode a high-altitude helium balloon to a height of 76,400 feet above the Earth’s surface. He then proceeded to jump. This had never been done before, and why would it have been? Kittinger entered a free-fall during which he lost consciousness after entering a 120rpm spin the g-forces of which were calculated to be 22 times the force of gravity at his extremities. Fortunately, his parachute was set to automatically open, which it did, saving his life. Three weeks later he rode another balloon high into the atmosphere and jumped from 76,700 feet. This was Project Excelsior. It was research.
That was nothing, though. On August 16, 1960 Captain Kittinger took a balloon up to 102,800 feet. He could see the curvature of the Earth. He could see entire continents. He was effectively the first human being in space. Again, he jumped. He fell for 4 minutes 36 seconds reaching a speed of 614mph. He thought he had broken the sound barrier. At 18,000 feet he opened his parachute and calmly returned to Earth. He set records for the highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, and fastest speed by a man through the atmosphere. He also earned a whole series of medals and would eventually be promoted to Colonel. Recognition and rank aside, why would anybody do this?
Because they wanted to understand, to learn, and the only way to do this effectively was to do it yourself. As we entered an age after the conclusion of World War II defined by new and incredible breakthroughs in technology we needed to understand limits, capacities, and thresholds. In the days before super computers and sophisticated software modeling, this was how it was done. There was a need to understand the affects of high altitude bailout on the pilots and astronauts who would be flying at those altitudes. There was a need to test the effectiveness of the equipment we were designing. That meant someone needed to ride a balloon up that high and jump out. Captain Kittinger volunteered for the opportunity. He showed scientists that astronauts could survive the harshness of space with just a pressure suit and that man could eject from aircraft at extreme altitudes and survive.
More about Joe Kittinger and Project Excelsior here, here and here.
There is also this incredible footage of his jump in 1960 with some narrative from Joe Kittinger:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81gn2oLeC_U
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=562
http://www.elchineroconcepts.com/Joe%20Kittinger.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Kittinger

MovableType 4.2

Movable type nuevo, vida nueva. 4.2 ya, que viejos nos hacemos. Teóricamente están solucionados los problemas con la DDBB y los comentarios, ya se puede comentar. Esa y otro montón de pequeñas putadas que me hacia la versión anterior y que no cuento por no aburrir, pero que han estado a nada de empujarme hacia wordpress. No lo descarto todavía, así que si alguien me da un argumento de peso para el cambio sera sumamente agradecido…

Visualización de datos para Last.fm

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Last.fm es uno de mis productos web favoritos. Ya se lo mencionaba en una entrada dedicada a Songbird (en otra vida, cuando actualizaba el blog con una frecuencia que no diera vergüenza…) Funciona estupendamente, me salva la vida cuando tengo que trasladarme a algún lado y no quiero cargar con el disco duro, ni extrañar mi música donde sea que este. Su funcionamiento es bastante simple, registra la música a medida que la reproduces, generando luego una “emisora” con tus temas favoritos y otros que te sugiere, basándose en las preferencias de tus “vecinos”, musicalmente hablando. Casi cualquier reproductor de audio que utilices es compatible. Otro de los servicios de música online que también uso son Deezer y Blip.fm, con otro cariz ligeramente distinto, aunque a este ultimo no le he encontrado el punto hasta hace bien poco.
Es un servicio bastante bien planteado, que esta funcionando bien como producto, con una comunidad correctamente estimulada y con una estrategia de difusión bien organizada (widgets, soporte limitado a la comunidad de desarrolladores, desarrollos para iphone y otras plataformas…). Rebuscando un poco me encontré con este pequeño programa de windows, Last FM Extra Stats, que genera gráficas de distintos tipos utilizando tu historial de escuchas. La visualización de datos es un tema que me fascina, mas si el resultado es tan delicioso como este.
Mis sabores musicales favoritos tienen esta pinta. Los suyos? Prueben y me cuentan.