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Here's an open source laser cutter: Lasersaur. Well, it's almost open - they're still needing 8% of their funding. I thought a couple folks hereabouts might be interested. ^_^

Eurovision is almost upon us! I've deliberately avoided listening to any of the entries, to maintain the surprise factor, with the exception of Englebert Humperdinck's entry for the UK, as I was curious how the old crooner would stand up now - and indeed, it's actually not a bad tune. Not one I'd exactly rock out to, but not of the "please, let it be over soon" grade we've sometimes seen. I do hope at least one of the Nordic entries turns out to be enjoyably cute and shiny, though. ^_^ I'll be heading down to one of the familial abodes for the weekend, but I'll remain connected, courtesy of the MiFi. Most likely I'll head down there on Saturday lunchtime, back here sometime on Monday, maybe Tuesday, if it turns out to be peaceful enough to get work done there.

Admit it! Will you be watching? ^_^

Also, I thought I'd make quick mention of a particularly interesting security match-up: Bruce Schneier, who many of you will be familiar with, is playing host to the former TSA head, Kip Hawley, on FireDogLake's Book Salon today (Antipodeans notwithstanding =:) at 2200-0000 BST, 1400-1600 PDT. Details here. It ought to be quite a worthwhile exchange.

And, per flayrah, Blacksad creator Juanjo Guardino is at the Big Wow ComicFest this weekend, in San Jose, for his first US appearance.

Some rather interesting samurai helmets, including a few bunny-inspired designs, and one with a lobster motif. (Caution: the article's perfectly safe, but the ads surrounding it aren't necessarily so)

Do you work in an open-plan office, and find the noise level irritating? You're not alone:

When Autodesk, a software company, moved into a an open-plan building in Waltham, Mass., three years ago, it installed what is known as a pink-noise system: a soft whooshing emitted over loudspeakers that sounds like a ventilation system but is specially formulated to match the frequencies of human voices.

Autodesk ran the system for three months without telling the employees — and then, to gauge its impact, turned it off one day.

“We were surprised at how many complaints we got,” said Charles Rechtsteiner, Autodesk’s facilities manager. “People weren’t sure what was different, but they knew something was wrong. They were being distracted by conversations 60 feet away. When the system’s on, speech becomes unintelligible at a distance of about 20 feet.”

The original rationale for the open-plan office, aside from saving space and money, was to foster communication among workers, the better to coax them to collaborate and innovate. But it turned out that too much communication sometimes had the opposite effect: a loss of privacy, plus the urgent desire to throttle one’s neighbor.
 
 
 
 
 
 
The thing that boggles my mind about those helmets is WIND RESISTANCE! Good lord! Not to mention the pounding of riding on a horse?! Also, watch out for low branches. It certainly would not look good if the feudal lord won a spectacular battle on the field of honor, then ended up getting his neck snapped because he forgot to duck while passing through a torii.

And yes, the adverts on that page are...errm...*aHEM* Yes. Well. It is Japan, after all? Helmets and hentai probably do go together over there.
Ha! The icon is perfect. ^_^

That's actually a very good point! How did they manage? Were they only worn while mostly stationary, and taken off whilst moving quickly?

then ended up getting his neck snapped because he forgot to duck

Who knows? Perhaps the story of their demise was hastily revised to be rather more honorable? =:)

I do wish more of Japanese culture could permeate Western society - the US and UK could so easily use much more cuteness. (And as MLP shows, done well, it's readily accepted by a very broad audience!)
A-heh! Yes, that's an icon from a spot of work I commissioned from cuprohastes. You can see it here!
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I'll admit, I've not yet read any. ^_^; It seemed a bit on the dark side for me, when I checked it out a while back. I ought to have a look again sometime, though, I've already got enough of a stash unread on the iPad, including the second volume of the inimitable Bryan Talbot's Grandville.
I think Iceland's entry (Never forget by Greta Salóme and Jónsi) is pretty decent. I wish it was in Icelandic (really, what's the point otherwise?), but I'm not blaming them for thinking an English-language song will be more likely to win.

(There IS an Icelandic version, but I don't think it'll enter into the contest, and the music seems somewhat different, too, not just the lyrics.)

I hope they'll win, naturally. :) But they're not even in the finals yet, so who knows. (And while the song's OK, it's not really outstanding.)

Admit it! Will you be watching? ^_^

No. :)

Do you work in an open-plan office, and find the noise level irritating? You're not alone:

Funny how the solution to the problem of noise is adding more noise, isn't it? If this works as well as they say, I hope it'll catch on.
I wonder what effect the language has on a song's chances of success? I would've thought it wouldn't be all that much of a factor, but then, I admit to rarely actually listening to the words, as the music and the harmonies going on. There are exceptions, of course - Where the Wild Roses Grow, by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, for example.. shiveringly beautiful, in a very dark way.

I wonder if I could get a system like that installed in the salt mine.. admittedly, I've been spending more time at home than in the office, but I do like the basic feel of the office, just not so much the various conversations that keep happening.

If less is more, I suppose more can be less as well. ^_^
I think language does play a role, although it's just a gut feeling; I wouldn't be surprised if people were more inclined to vote for an entry the lyrics of which they could understand, as opposed to something that may sound beautiful but incomprehensible.

Or, alternatively, I wouldn't be surprised if the executives deciding what songs to use THOUGHT this — and in terms of effect on the contest's contents (try saying that fast three times in a row...), that's the same thing.

I do think it's a pity, though. I'm not sure how much of a point there would be to the whole thing if this were changed, but — right now, when listening to the majority of the entries, you can't even tell where they're from since they're all entirely generic in every last way, there's not much of a point, IMO. I'd prefer a contest where each song is in the (or, more precisely, an) official language of the nation it's from.
I actually got a few invitations from coworkers and friends to go to Eurovision in Baku with them. I declined them all and fled. :) For the same reason, I'm planning to flee Ukraine before the Euro 2012 football competition begins... I don't think I can handle a city overrun by that many tourists at once!
Weelll.. the Eurovision tourists would at least be a fun bunch, I'd guess. ^_^ Not quite sure I'd be as comfortable around a massive horde of football supporters, though I suppose the overwhelming majority are fine, at least until the beer starts to flow.. =:/

Thankfully, the tourists hereabouts are all harmless and valuable. =:) Loads of cameras, of course, with a surprising proportion being DSLRs, or at least bridges that resemble such. I always used to think SLRs were exotic beasts, until the last gig, where it wound up that three out of four of us in the dev office owned ones. ^_^; (In my case, it was one of the coworkers that inspired me to get one - I took his out for a spin one lunchtime, and the difference between that and the TZ5 I'd been using was positively striking)