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Category: Interesting or Cool

Woman in Black London stage play ends, then doesn’t

Woman in Black London stage play ends, then doesn’t

I was crushed to hear the famous London play ‘Woman in Black‘ was closing on March 4, 2023. The award winning and record setting Stephen Mallatratt adaptation of Susan Hill’s novel had been running continuously at London’s Fortune Theater since 1989. I have always wanted to see it, despite having made 2 trips to London and not having time to catch a play.

I saw the adaptation at Chicago’s Royal George Theater right before the pandemic and it was fantastic (The theater closed in 2020).

What I’m excited about is that the play is now on tour throughout the UK for 2023/2024. Not only that, but it appears to also be making its way across the US in 2023/2024.

Unbeknownst to me, it was in New York’s McKittrick Hotel and San Francisco in late 2021-early 2022.

Upcoming, it looks like it will be in New Jersey – Princeton’s McCarter Theatre Center October 13 to October 29th, 2023. It will be in the Herberger Theater Center‘s in Phoenix from Feb 8 to 25th, 2024. Hopefully they have some additional showings as well!

Sesame Street 12 song

Sesame Street 12 song

Charles Cornell sat down with the deceptively simple song about counting to 12. You almost certain know this song if you were a kid between 1977 and 2002.

It was written in 1976 by Walt Kraemer, arranged by Ed Bogas, and vocals were performed by the Pointer Sisters. Yes, the actual Pointer Sisters. It first appeared on Sesame Street in Season 8 which aired in1977. It appeared continually until 2002. Andy Narell plays the steel drums for numbers 2, 4, 9, and 12. Mel Martin plays the soprano sax bits for numbers 5, 6, 7, and 10.

Called the Pinball Number Count on Sesame Street, Cornell peals back the surprising layers of complexity. Odd time signatures (7/4 or pairs of 4/4 + 3/4), funky chord compositions, and famous musicians that had no business being on a kids show. It’s definitely fun watching a musician pull apart this little masterpiece.

More details about the song from someone that interviewed Walt Kraemer about this song can be found here.

Or, you can play the Number Count pinball game from the Sesame Street website.

Larrabee GPU booting Windows

Larrabee GPU booting Windows

Apparently someone found a working Larrabee card that was ‘pulled from an image processing machine connected to a CAT scan machine’.

A member of the LinusTechTips community over at Reddit managed to obtain a working Larrabee sample from ‘a friend who got it from their work.’ There were obviously no Windows 10 drivers, but it could still work as a basic graphics adapter. GPU-Z recognized the graphics adapter as an Intel GPU and read its device ID (8086 2240 – 8086 2240)

Interesting to see one of them still up and around. The last working one sold for about $5,000 on eBay.

Acting for film and stage are different beasts

Acting for film and stage are different beasts

“The theatre is an operation with the scalpel, I think movie acting is an operation with the laser.” In this documentary, Michael Caine teaches the art of movie acting to five young actors, who perform scenes from “Alfie”, “Deathtrap” and “Educating Rita”. He shares all kinds of learnings, tricks, and ways to think about different kinds of close-ups, props, and a variety of other cool things viewers likely take for granted.

While this is likely dated now as framing decisions, camera technology, pacing and storytelling have changed a lot, I think it’s really cool to see what the actors are thinking when portraying a role and all the different kinds of methods and understanding they have.



Creating 3D meshes from a variety of images or point clouds is not new technology. Doing it well, however, is difficult.

nVidia did an amazing job AI generating 3D meshes from text prompts using GET3D (also here). While it looks a little better and more advanced than the Stable DreamFusion code I played with earlier, it still suffers with some of the similar problems. The meshes they generate can be pretty rough, bumpy, missing features, poor textures, and other issues generating 3D geometry from AI generated data.

Marching cubes and DMTet have existed for some time – but nVidia has introduced an even more interest technique called FlexiCubes. The algorithm is designed to be a drop-in replacement for marching cubes and not only generates better quality meshes from point or course voxel data; but meshes that can easily be dropped into physics simulations.

Check out the paper here.

Safe 2023 annual solar eclipse viewing

Safe 2023 annual solar eclipse viewing

Solar viewing or watching one of the upcoming solar or annular eclipses requires knowing what you’re doing and getting the right eye protection from reputable sources.

I recommend using the NASA information page, which links to a page with reputable sources to buy viewing glasses and lens protection.

Oregon Eclipse events and locations

It’s getting quite late for scheduling and finding accommodations, but you might still find some events for the upcoming October annular eclipse.

Oregon 2023 annular eclipse events

ISA over USB

ISA over USB

Plugging in old ISA cards is something that hasn’t really been possible since 80486 days. This makes plugging in cool things like Sound Blaster, Adlib, Monster3D and other ISA cards pretty much impossible for modern computers. It also means things like attaching 5.25″ floppy drives and old MFM/RLL drives are also off the table. Well, maybe. 🙂

There have been a few efforts to enabling plugging in ISA boards to modern pc.

  • dISAppointment that I wrote about before is a USB plugin that exposes an ISA interface.
Payday 2 best death sentence one-down builds (July 2023)

Payday 2 best death sentence one-down builds (July 2023)

Payday 3 is coming out very soon. I played a lot of Payday 1 and Payday 2 over the years – as well as meeting the original voice actors at a PAX West party, unlocking a lot of achievements, and collecting a good bit of cash in my vault. 🙂

In the run-up to the launch, there is a Payday 3 event in which various infamous achievements earned in Payday 2 will unlock free items in Payday 3. All you have to do is link your Payday 2 Steam/Epic/etc account to Starbreeze and then launch Payday 2. Getting the specified achievements in Payday 2 will unlock the special Payday 3 item.

I had already unlocked these achievements in Payday 2, so I logged in and all of them became available to claim (you need to manually claim them from the website). But in doing so, I realized my old character build from years ago wasn’t very good anymore.

Like many modern games, the designers are constantly selling new weapons and gameplay elements as well as tweaking, nerfing, and rebalancing the weapons and gameplay. I’m not a huge fan of this trend personally, but it seems like that’s a ship that has long since sailed. It lets developers continue to cash in on the long tail of games by making some relatively easy to make skins/guns/upgrades and bundle into sellable seasons. Unfortunately, that usually means the gameplay and mastery is in a regular state of flux and goes through serious times of being broken or mechanics being completely unbalanced. You either get on the train and ride, or get left behind.

I for one found this all too annoying as a largely casual gamer these days. I didn’t have time to experiment endlessly with the different new perks and find the Achilles heals of the new powers and weapons. It felt too much like having a second job.

So, I leave that to others and just enjoy the fruits like these from KevKild who does all that grunt work and gives you the fruits of the community’s labors. Pick a build for your style and go. I can affirm his #1 build is ridiculously fun and powerful. Enjoy.

drawing the effect of detail

drawing the effect of detail

Stephen Travers Art has a wonderful collection of drawing tutorials.

When drawing highly detailed things (fields of flowers, trees, and complex cityscapes) there is a tremendous amount of detail. As it turns out, far, FAR too much detail to actually draw. So how do you draw highly complex detail – without drawing the detail? You draw the effect of detail.

  1. Draw some of the key, close items clearly. You need to have some clearly recognizable individual elements of the subject. Draw them of sufficient size and shape to be easily recognizable without any confusion around them – by not crowding them too close together and enhancing their edges with silhouettes.
  2. Enhance the silhouettes of the key flowers with shadow/darkness. Fill the elements around some of the key items with shadow to highlight the shape of the individual blooms/elements.
  3. As you move back to the background – you keep establishing the key elements (blooms, petals, buds, stalks)
  4. Use the direction of scribbles of the darkness to point the eye towards the key elements (blooms/petals/buds).
  5. Dark tones come forward, lighter elements are pushed towards the back. So use more shadow in closer elements and lighter elements in the background. To get lighter strokes, use less pressure or use a thinner pencil.
  6. Don’t fill all the gaps – move around randomly and leave gaps. You must leave gaps and randomness . Stop every moment or two and see how the wandering of the shadow is going. Is there too much of a grey tangle of lines (too many) – add more dark shadow. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll fill everything in evenly and the giveaway is that it will all be the same overall tone of grey. You want some areas very dark, some light, and some grey.

Architectural drawings

  1. Architecture often has repeated patterns. Capturing the repeating-ness is more important the actual pattern that is repeating.
  2. Closer repeated patterns should be drawn with more detail than the same repeated pattern far away. Follow the same basic design of the close repeated pattern but make it simpler in the far away repeated pattern – your eye will naturally bring the nearer detail to those elements in the background.
  3. If there is a repeated element, draw them all with the same stroke strength and style. This means it’s usually best to do all the repeated elements one after the other to make sure the technique is consistent (pressure, line width, size, etc). This helps you keep them all as symmetrical as possible.
  4. For repeated elements that move away from your camera, draw the closest one with much more detail first, then less and less as you repeat the elements further and further away from the camera. Again, drawing the more detailed ones first helps you ‘summarize’ or make a smaller repeated one match easier.
  5. Another key element to know that capturing the symmetry of the scene is more important than the details of the elements/decorations. Like before, capturing the flow and pattern of the architectural lines is more important than the actual path it takes.
  6. You can also use tone to emphasize form much faster than just using lines

Give his techniques a watch: