May 20th, 2012

Porsupah skiing

On the cutting edge

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.